As Far As You Can Tell, I’ve Been Quiet for Over a Week

I haven’t, though. I mean, I haven’t been writing new posts. I’ve been adding Gratuitous Amazon Links to old posts. I’m done with July 2015 and am starting on August. Dear God, I’ve got a lot of work to go.

I’m also considering adding a Google ad to the page. I may chicken out on this, though. And since I have maybe one fan, there’s no real point to adding a Patreon, is there?

24 Hours of Happy: 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm

First, let’s get the money thing out of the way. Today we shall have an Amazon Link for the album for the Despicable Me soundtrack.

6:00 Now it’s brighter again. I don’t even know anymore. Pharell is dancing up the bridge with someone who, at first, looks like a Mountie but who turns out to be a famous choreographer named Fatima Robinson.*

I’m really glad that Pharrell and Robinson were dancing around actually on the bridge like this, because unless someone makes a replica somewhere someday I’ll never be able to see it up close like this again.

We continue walking around on the bridge until 6:16.

At 6:16 we go somewhere new and it looks really familiar, like someplace they’ve filmed a movie, maybe? Or someplace that I’ve pictured the action of a book taking?

Wait. We’re still by the 6th Street Bridge. I couldn’t even begin to tell you where we are in relation to the bridge; it’s too dark and the area has changed too much. Maybe by 6:20 we’ll have some clue.

Our dancer passes something that looks like maybe a small apartment building. It’s well lit and might still be there, but I’ve still got nothing.

Eventually I’m able to identify a mural that the dancers pass as being under the 6th Street Bridge, so that solves that much. Then at 6:34, the dancers dance across some train tracks. Those tracks are still there in October of 2017, putting the dancers on Mission Street. The 6:32 dancers pass a building that’s still there at 6:35.

The 6:36 dancer goes up Willow Street E. This is such a relief. At Anderson Street, we make a left and go down a block or so. Then we turn around and come back down Anderson to Willow and back to Mission. Then we make a left onto something that Google says is 6th Street. I. Don’t know. And then we come out on Anderson again. We make a right and go back under the bridge and it sure looks to me like we end at Anderson and Jesse.

6:56 It’s dark. Really dark. The dancers are being followed by a car with its headlights on, presumably so that we can see them with the backlight. There’s a plant of some sort behind a fence over there on our right and a building on our left. We emerge into the light and make a right-hand turn. Still no clue where we are. It’s kind of postapocalyptic looking. Oh, look. Civilization. There’s a street and traffic signals and an illuminated sign of some sort. As the dancers move around, there’s a building with blue words on the side. We go back into the dark alley and the 6 pm hour ends with our dancers backlit like before.

*Who choreographed the video for his song “Come Get it Bae.”

Well, that Was Something of a Time Suck

So today I was going to add a Gratuitous Amazon Link to an old post on the map on TripAdvisor, which reminded me that I hadn’t updated the map in a while. So I logged into my TripAdvisor account and found that everything was gone. My username had somehow changed in the process, too.

So I lost a good half hour trying to figure out what had happened. I finally found all of the work I’d done and am working on updating my map, but I still don’t know what happened to my name.

San Antonio Parks: Olmos Basin Park

It’s weird. I’ve been to Brackenridge a bunch of times. I’ve been to the Botanical Garden a bunch of times. I’ve been to the University of the Incarnate Word a bunch of times. I’ve been to the HEB Central Market a bunch of times. I’ve been to the Quarry Market a bunch of times. I’ve driven on Hildebrand, and on US 281, on Basse and on Jones Maltsberger.

These things pretty much define the outside boundaries of Olmos Basin Park, and yet until this month, I’d never actually been there. And that’s really a shame, because it’s a lovely park. At least, what I’ve seen of it after a cursory walk on the Olmos Basin Greenway is.

US 281 Viaduct, 2019
The viaduct carrying US 281 past/through Olmos Basin Park. You can see a bit of Olmos Creek there but I walked up really close to take this picture so that not too much litter and/or mud would be in the picture.

One of the most important features of Olmos Basin Park is Olmos Dam. As San Antonio is sitting on top of limestone, we have a big flash flooding problem. I’ve considered doing a photo spread on the dry creekbeds of San Antonio. Because boy, there are a lot of them unless it’s raining then all bets are off.

There was a major flood in 1921 that killed 51 people and caused $5 million in damage (not adjusted for inflation!). As a result, the city dammed up Olmos Creek to prevent that from happening again.

I didn’t walk through the park far enough to get to the dam this time. I wonder what it would take.

Oh, as an aside, I finally realized whose name Robert H.H. Hugman, father of the River Walk reminds me of. Henry Hobson Richardson creator of the “Richardsonian Romanesque” architecture style. Further, the first time I saw the Daniel J. Sullivan Carriage House at the Botanic Garden (which was designed by Albert Giles) it kind of reminded me of Richardson’s work. And as it turns out, the Botanic Garden agrees with me. From their website: this superb example of the round-arched Richardsonian Romanesque style.

Today’s Gratuitous Amazon Link. Let’s see. I looked to see if by some miracle someone had written a book on Olmos Basin, but all I found were pictures of people golfing. So I guess back to just “parks” today. Big Creek: A Closer Look at a National Park, by Dinata Misovec.

24 Hours of Happy 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm

First, for a Gratuitous Amazon Link, how about Pharrell Williams cologne? I don’t know what it smells like and for $40 I think I’ll probably try to track down a tester bottle. Pharrell Williams Girl by Pharrell Williams for Unisex 3.3 oz EDP Spray

5:00 Still in the parking lot. Looks like we’ll be here for a while.

5:08 This is Steve Carrell’s appearance in the video. We and a bunch of other people (whom I bet we’ll be seeing in the rest of the hour) are on one of the school buses. Carrell lip-syncs or possibly sings Happy to them and they all act annoyed at first and eventually get into it. When we move onto the next dancer, Carrell and the young kid sitting in the fourth seat back on our left-hand side are both gone. Is that kid Carrell’s son John?

While Carrell was dancing, the bus started moving, but it turned out that it was only going in circles around the parking lot. At 5:14, we leave the parking lot. It looks like we make a left onto College and then a right onto what was Alameda but has now become Spring. I’m pretty sure we make a right onto Sotello then another right onto what’s probably North Main.

At some point we pass a corner and the buildings that are in the video and on Google Street View aren’t at all the same, so from here on in, I’m mostly just guessing.

Oh. My. God.

I was right. We take North Main all the way back to College and then turn back into the parking lot where we started. I guess I knew where we were after all. Huh.

5:24 Our next dancer is the bus driver, which made me smile. We follow her out of the bus and right back out of the parking lot. We make a right onto College (What college is College named for? Has anyone else noticed how strange the word “college” looks if you type it often enough?). We cross Main and then make a right onto Main.

5:28 The next celebrity is Jamie Foxx who is dancing with his two daughters. Let’s see if I can figure out where we are. That looks like a light rail line behind them there. I wonder if we’re just farther up Spring Street or something. We are getting farther and farther from that light rail line and we definitely look closer to downtown now. Maybe it’s the Red Line? That goes downtown, I know.

And, of course, even if I find the place, this area looks like it’s under construction and this was filmed five years ago, so who knows whether I’d even recognize it if I could find it.

Eventually Foxx and his daughters leave the train tracks that they’re standing on and we see that part of the tracks have been paved over with asphalt. We see them walk up to a wall with a sign on it, but God only knows what the sign says. I sure don’t.

There’s an institutional-looking building in the background. A prison? A hospital?

At 5:35 or so, we spin around and we’re looking at the back of the bus parking lot. Which means that, yes, the institutional-looking building there is, in fact, a prison. It’s the Men’s Central Jail. The train tracks where we start out are evidently North Alhambra Street and the place where the tracks go under the asphalt is the corner of Alhambra and College. If you could see my face right now, I’m looking really skeptical about whether that’s actually Alhambra or if Google Street View has gone haring off in some random direction, like it did back there on Wilshire.

However, when I drop my little person onto North Alhambra on Google Maps, that is, in fact, where I end up. So I guess it is a street. Who knew?

So Foxx and his daughters walk part way up College, and the next dancer continues walking the same direction. The sign on the wall, by the way? Says “California Drop Forge.”

I thought we’d be staying by the Drop Forge for a while, but the 5:36 dancer takes us the rest of the way up College and across Main then makes a right onto Main.

5:40 We are joining Miranda Cosgrove . . . somewhere in Los Angeles. Let’s find out where.

Wait. We aren’t anywhere new. It’s just a different angle. Again. Of course, this is kind of both how and why they make so many movies in California. Change the angle a little and it looks like you’re in a whole new place. Cosgrove goes back up Main to College and makes a right. The song ends while Cosgrove is crossing Spring St.

5:44 We’re under the ghost bridge again (refer back to 8:04 am for that explanation). Let’s see if we end up on the bridge, under the bridge, or near the bridge. What bridge is “Under the Bridge” written about anyhow? Turns out Kiedis won’t say. It’s downtown, though.

I’m pretty confused about where we are, especially in relation to where we were back at the 8:00 hour, but I found the building that this guy is dancing in front of and now I’m afraid to move. I opened a new window and am looking at the shapes of the buildings that used to be there on the map and around at how things are now in Google Street View and I’m as certain as I can be (which isn’t very) that we’re on the other side of the bridge, but on the same side of the river as we were in.

What do you remember of your high school algebra? If the map were a two-dimensional graph with the northeasternmost part in Quadrant I, then in the 8:00 am hour we were in Quadrant II and now we’re in Quadrant III. I think.

We start out at Mesquite and some street that doesn’t seem to have a name. This street may also be Mesquite. I’m not entirely sure. We follow this unnamed street west. We cross Santa Fe and keep going. We pass where Imperial stops at the bridge and keep going. At Mateo Street, cross the bridge and start going back down the street that I’m certain is Mesquite.

The 5:48 dancer’s top is really cute and Alex said that he actually wouldn’t be embarrassed to be seen in public with me wearing it. Granted, it’s probably five years out of date by now, but that sort of thing’s never been a huge concern for me. I’m still wearing some of the same clothes I had back when my mom was alive and she died in 2006. Heck, I just realized that my favorite winter top is older than Alex, so it’s at least 20.

We pass the Stover Seed Company. They seem to still be in business, even if the building is now gone.

I guess we’ll never get back to Santa Fe Street because the 5:52 dancer is going back up Mesquite towards Mateo and then makes a u-turn onto the bridge.

Now, when I read the article, they said that the times given are always pretty close to the time that they filmed. The example given was a 15-minute difference. I guess that the 5:56 dancer must have been closer to 6:11, because it’s quite a bit darker than it was when the 5:52 dancer finished. I know the night falls quickly in the desert, but this is ridiculous.

We continue going up the bridge until 6:00.

Japanese Tea Garden, San Antonio, Texas

As I’ve mentioned before, the site that’s now Brackenridge Park used to be the headquarters for the Alamo Cement Company. The limestone was quarried on-site and when the “carpetbagger” George Washington Brackenridge donated land to the city and the widow of the founder of the Pearl Beer company, Emma Koehler, followed suit by donating some adjoining land, the city ended up with a decent number of old quarries to do something with.

Japanese Tea Garden, 2018
An overview of some of the Japanese Tea Garden, looking toward the pavilion/pagoda thing.

The city parks commissioner at the time, Ray Lambert, decided to turn this particular quarry, which was right behind the cement company, into a lily pond. The lily pond project got bigger and bigger until it became a full garden with ponds and the city invited Kimi Eizo Jingu, a Japanese-American artist, to move into one of the buildings with his family, where they ran a restaurant. The Jingu family was disinvited to live there in 1942, while we were at war with Japan (and, indeed. had confined a large number of Japanese-Americans in internment camps).

At this point, they changed the name of the garden to the Chinese Sunken Garden, and moved a Chinese family, the Wus, into the house. The Wus lived in that house for around 20 years.

Eventually the city got over World War II. They changed the name back to the Japanese Tea Garden in 1984.

I moved to San Antonio in 1993 and the garden had fallen into disrepair by then. Thomas and I hiked out there on a whim when we were in Brackenridge Park to visit the zoo. Someone else was with us. It was a long time ago and I cannot remember if it was our friend Frank or my parents. Maybe it was one of Thomas’s parents. Well, my dad says it wasn’t them, so that leaves Frank or Thomas’s folks.

Anyway, when we got out there we were underwhelmed. I don’t even remember if there was water in the ponds, it was so bad.

Then, in 2007, they began a major renovation project. They rededicated the gardens in 2008 and it’s well worth the stop now. There are koi ponds and walking paths, and a really lovely artificial waterfall. There are also signs warning visitors not to release fish into the ponds and Alex and I joked about putting kraken and such into it.

The building that the Jingu family lived in is now a restaurant (and I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve never eaten there — the one time I tried, it was January and they had some kind of weird abbreviated winter hours).

The Japanese Tea Garden is not what you’d call handicap-accessible. The paths are narrow and there are steps everywhere. One can sit in the covered pagoda area and see pretty much everything. My understanding is that the Jingu House is handicap-accessible.

Gratuitous Amazon Link time. This actually looks like something I might want to buy. Since the Japanese Tea Garden is so tied up in San Antonio’s history, I looked for San Antonio history books and found San Antonio: Our Story of 150 Years in the Alamo City, by the Staff of the San Antonio Express-News.

2019 Upcoming Concerts, in the Interest of Science

Not a huge post here, just a little note. When I went to see Elton John, I really expected lots of screaming and “Woo!”ing and such. And there was a fair amount, but the section we were sitting in was mostly people sitting down and I never stood up to dance because I didn’t want to block the views of the people behind me.

So in 2019, I’m going to see Wisin & Yandel, a reggaeton duo from Puerto Rico, and I’m going to sit in the section where I sat for Elton John (two rows farther to the front and farther to the left (from the perspective of those seated in the audience), but close enough to see if the audience for a more current artist will be more like I remember concerts being from my youth or if it’s just how things are here.

The concert is June 1 so I’ll have lots of time to plan and fret and freak out between now and then. I fear I’ve bitten off more than I can chew here, but I seem to recall some kind of saying about how you need to push your limits to grow. Well, here’s to growth.

And here’s to the gratuitous Amazon link. I’ll need to buy this myself before the concert, but I’m going to wait and see how many more singles from the album come out first. Wisin & Yandel, Los Campeones del Pueblo “The Big Leagues” (note there are explicit lyrics on this album).

24 Hours of Happy 4:00 to 5:00 pm

I think I’m going to include a gratuitous Amazon link this time. If you buy Mandatory Fun by Weird Al Yankovic from that link, both Pharrell and I will make some money because this album includes both Word Crimes, hia parody of Blurred Lines, and Tacky, his parody of Happy.

4:00 So far I’ve had no luck figuring out where we are. It looks like a mausoleum but most of the mausoleums I’ve found just have skylights and this one looks to have fluorescent lighting or something. I did take a side trip because I saw that Jimmy Durante’s gravestone looked like it was designed for a husband and wife, but the photo I saw only showed him on it. I figured that his wife remarried and was buried with that husband or something, but when I looked up Margaret Little Durante’s grave, it shows the same gravestone with her information on it. That made me feel better.

Now, back to figuring out where we are. There’s a rose window up there. That should help.

Yep. It looks like we’re in the Mountain View Mausoleum in Altadena. Only it doesn’t look like the same mausoleum. Now I’m confused.

Wait. Is that the same waiting area that our 3:52 dancer passed through? It’s the same lamp, certainly. French doors? Check. Column, lamp, water coolers? Check, check, check. So I guess we’ve been in Altadena this whole time.

I also wonder if, instead of the mausoleum having fluorescent lighting, I haven’t been seeing that one fluorescent light this whole time. Nope. I definitely see two fluorescent lights at the same time now.

4:08 Are we going to spend this whole hour in this mausoleum? Also, this next guy has a man bun. Or is he a Sikh? He’s got a bracelet on his right wrist. Is it a kara?

I wonder if anyone famous is buried here. Findagrave says that there are 61 famous burials. I guess for a certain value of “famous.” Oh, my God. This is where Octavia E. Butler is buried. Oh, crap. I don’t know if Alex is going to be enthusiastic about adding another cemetery to our next California trip. Well, she’s not in the mausoleum at least. He’ll be happy about that.

4:12 We’ve left the mausoleum and are watching a small child and her smaller sister dancing around in the cemetery outside the mausoleum. Well, the older child is dancing. The younger is just exploring.

4:16 We’re still outside the mausoleum and our 4:16 dancer is a comedian named Gian Molina, who died in 2016.

We finally leave the cemetery grounds at around 4:22 and it looks like we’re on Sacramento, maybe?

Yes. We are definitely on Sacramento. We first head southeast and then it looks like we’ll make a left at Santa Anita, but instead we turn around, heading northwest up Sacramento again.

4:32 We’re somewhere else again, I think*. Let’s find out. This little kid sure is cute, though.

4:36 Well, maybe we aren’t somewhere else because I see a building that looks not entirely unlike the mausoleum there in the distant background. I wish I could see a street name or something. Okay, we have a big building or a mural or a big building with a mural on it on our right here. And the big building is really big.

4:40 We’re somewhere else now watching Stuart (?) dancing through a residential neighborhood. I’m also trapped because it’s midnight and my 16-year-old arthritic dog is having trouble settling down. She’s finally lying down and if I get up, that’ll make her get up and she’ll be forever trying to settle down again.

Some guy came out of one of the houses to take a picture of Stuart (and, presumably, his entourage).

We keep seeing signs that have the names of the streets on them, but the signs are all blurry and I can’t read them.

I’m so desperate to figure out where we are that I’ve locked onto a tall palm tree in the distance and am trying to locate that palm tree on Google Image Search.

We turn a corner and not only is the street name blurry, but there’s a tree in front of it.

4:52 We’re passing a restaurant or something but I’ve lost track because this dancer’s dress is just so cute!

I’ve found a phone number. Or most of one at any rate. What’s that last digit?

It may be the phone number for Occidental Entertainment Group Holdings, but their address isn’t the right place. Let’s try Google Maps, maybe?

I’ve got it.

Okay, so Stuart starts out at Willoughby and Sycamore and dances down the block to the corner of Sycamore and Waring. Our next dancer starts out headed west on Waring (and she really does pick up where Stuart left off – you can see him behind her. In fact, the guy who crosses the street before she starts must be part of the behind-the-scenes entourage or something; you can see him and Stuart walking off together). She dances down Waring to the block between Orange and Mansfield. Our next dancer picks up there and takes us to the block between Willoughby and Romaine (hey! It’s Romaine again!). And our final dancer (*such* a cute dress!) leaves us on the block between Romaine and Santa Monica.

Now what’s that big building I see in the distance on Google Street View? Before we go on to 4:56, let’s explore. Guess what? It’s the Hollywood Storage Building from 12:43 pm. Wow. It is big.

4:56 I got nothing. Lots of buildings. Lots of signs. A light rail station. I can’t read a single word.

4:59 I guess I just needed to be patient? Because we’re in a bus parking lot and the buses say “Atlantic Express.” I looked that up at Google Maps and one of the pins is just outside of Chinatown. And I could see at least one pagoda-looking building in the distance. Or, well, maybe not.

And what the heck is this big pinkish/white stripe across the middle of the damn map? The Los Angeles Marathon is today, I guess (now you’ll be able to figure out how far ahead I wrote this. I have no idea exactly when I will post this, but it looks like it should be at least two months from now; I can’t wait to find out exactly what the turnaround time will be).

So let’s try the other address. No good, either.

Of course, Atlantic Express rents buses so maybe these buses are rentals, which means that they could, once again, be anywhere.

Great. Let’s assume that the pagoda-looking building is, in fact, in Chinatown and look for a Metro station near Chinatown. That looks very familiar. We never saw the station very clearly, but that kind of looks like what we sort of saw. Let’s hit Street View and see what we see.

Oh, this is looking really likely. Metro station. Bus parking lot. Building with three triangular green awnings in front. I like this a lot.

So let’s start from 4:56. We start out in a parking lot just off Spring Street and under the Metro line. We come out from under the Metro line onto Alameda and then go north on Alameda to College. Then we go southeast on College until we get to the entrance to the parking lot. It sure looks to me like the buses say “Atlantic Express,” but I’m finding articles saying that they closed down at the end of 2013.

*Spoiler Alert: I never do figure out where we are during this part. I’m going to have to actually research it once I’m done editing and revising these posts to see if this fits in our polygon or not.

Trying to Get More Traffic for 2019

I’m starting to get into the swing of the gratuitous Amazon link, which may make me some money eventually. But it won’t make me any money if I can’t get any eyes on my site.

I’ve been using Habitica to help me keep focused on my goals and I’ve added working on this blog for ten minutes a day as a goal. That ten minutes is a minimum, not a goal, and every time I hit ten more minutes I give myself more credit for it.

So today’s ten minutes has, for the most part, been about SEO. I know that building good content is the most important thing. For this reason I agonize over every post. I try to find the best way to describe each place, its history, and so forth.

But I still need to make sure that Google can find my posts and that Google can help others do so. I know that I’m showing up on Google because I do get the occasional notice that someone got here by using Google.

But I think I could do better and I’m going to try to do better. I’ll be using my ten minutes per day at least once a week trying to find keywords and other things to, hopefully, greatly increase my traffic in 2019.

Now, what the hell am I going to use as my gratuitous link? It seems somehow inappropriate to use a book on SEO since I don’t know if I could make it through one myself. Maybe I’ll just use the last book I read. Well, the last book I read was . . . okay. The last book I really loved? Well, last night (early this morning?) I finished the most recent volume of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, and I really did love it, but it would be awkward to post to the ninth book in an ongoing series. So, here it is, where it kinda/sorta starts*: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 1: Squirrel Power

*Squirrel Girl really starts with the story The Coming of … Squirrel Girl by Will Murray and Steve Ditko in 1991. But the compilation I linked to is the start of the Squirrel Girl comic book series.

Happy New Year!

Happy 2019! I’m glad that we’ve made it this far. The 2018 midterm elections were a pleasant surprise (even if Beto didn’t win). Traffic is way up on my blog (and “way up” means that it still doesn’t even register on Alexa, but I’m getting at least one hit, and sometimes two, most days.

Let’s make 2019, well, if not awesome, at least let’s make some progress towards awesomeness in 2019!