Walk on the Riverwalk, March 19, 2022, Part 2

I’m hearing somebody doing I don’t know kind of cheer or something up ahead. They sound very excited, for whatever that’s worth. I hope I’m not walking into a riot or something. I guess we’ll figure out what it is when I get there.

I am passing yet another dam. This is the H.H. Hugman Dam and it used to mark the end of the Riverwalk. When they decided to make the Riverwalk go through from here, they cut a chunk out of the dam to make room for the boats to pass through.

The yelling from before has turned into music which is less concerning than the yelling was. That’s a good sign.

Once upon a time, there was a performance venue called the San Antonio Municipal Auditorium. The building was gorgeous. The actual performance area was . . . okay. Thomas and I saw Phantom of the Opera there in the 90s. In the early 2000s, the city decided that it needed a more state-of-the-art venue and so they razed all but the facade of the auditorium and built two new theaters onto the back. They named the building the Tobin Center, for Robert L.B. Tobin. The new building is this big metal box with lights on the outside and it’s pretty impressive at night. At the side of the building is an outdoor performance venue named for Will Naylor Smith. That seems to be where the music is coming from.. Let’s go closer and find out.

It seemed like I missed whatever it was because people are walking away carrying folding chairs. Maybe there is a sign indicating what it was.

I take that back. It looks like whatever it is it still going on. This is apparently some kind of St. Patrick’s Day event. The performance I was hearing was a punk band called Pinata Protest. That certainly explains the yelling.

It looks like there’s a parade on the River. Or maybe the parade is breaking up. I’ll have to look that up when I get home. I’m thinking that “I have to look that up when I get home” is the theme of this little experiment.

On my right now is the Southwest School of Art, which recently merged with… UTSA? Let’s all say it together. I’ll look it up when I get home. The site for the Southwest School of Art originally was the Ursuline Convent and Academy which was a Catholic girls’ school that was run by French nuns. French nuns formed a lot of San Antonio’s culture. We have the Ursuline Academy here and the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word founded the University of the Incarnate Word, Incarnate Word High School, and Santa Rosa Hospital.

This land here was the far north of San Antonio when the buildings were constructed for the school. As a result, they didn’t bother putting a fourth face on the clock on top of the building. If you were east, south, or west of the building, you could tell what time it is. If you were north, you were out of luck.

I’ve just arrived downtown and there’s this pergola thing that wasn’t there before on the other side of the river. I’m so glad I’m getting my knockoff GoPro soon. I’ll have to come back later and explore that area.

You you you you you ← I’m not sure what happened there. It’s so weird, though, that I decided to keep it.

I’m passing past another mosaic. This one is by Oscar Alvarado from 2002 and is of a bunch of famous buildings in the city and, for some reason, a dog. The buildings include the Tower of the Americas, the Tower Life Building, San Fernando Cathedral, and the Alamo. I’m trying to figure the dog out, but having no luck.

Mosaic, Riverwalk, by Oscar Alvarado, 2002

I’m almost to the place where I am going to turn around. I’m passing the Embassy Suites Hotel on my right. He hotel has a waterfall on the Riverwalk level and people are taking pictures in front it.

On my left there is a building that I used to know the name of. The name was basically the address “(number) Houston Street.” God only knows what that number is. I sure don’t.* There was some excitement about this building when they were constructing it. There was a movie palace called Texas Theatre that was on this site and they were going to take it down for the new building. The Conservation Society was trying to stop the building going up the injunction they needed came down when all that was left of the theater was the façade so the architects and engineers included the facade of the Texas Theatre in the front of the building.**

I’m under Houston Street now which is technically where I should turn around, but there have been parade floats coming up the river as I was walking down and I can see more coming, so I may just keep walking.

I’m on my back north. I stopped to watch the floats. There weren’t that many left.*** I went up to the surface and took some pictures of the IBC Center and the Hotel Valencia and then came back down.

*The number I was thinking of was 175 E. Houston and the name of the building is the IBC Center.

**At least, that’s the story. In order for that to be strictly true, though, they would have to have torn the Texas Theater down back-to-front and what are the odds? I wonder if either (a) the architects always intended to include the facade, or (b) they suspected that the Conservation Society would get their injunction, so they left the most attractive part for last. Now I think I’m going to have to take some time and research that.

***After I got back to the lock and dam, I found that the floats were gathering there, and then on my walk back to the Pearl, I saw people sitting down along the Riverwalk. I guess that the floats I saw were on their way to regroup for an evening parade farther north. I was running out of water, though, so I just headed back home. After all, I’d already seen the floats.

Riverwalk, March 19, 2022, Part 1

Okay today I am doing the section from The Pearl to Houston Street, if I can make it that far. It’s already 4 PM so we’ll see how that goes.

This is the weekend after St. Patrick’s Day, so the river is San Antonio River is green. I mean it’s always kind of greenish but, but it’s really green now. I took a picture of the little waterfall at The Grotto by Carlos Cortez. I’m going to post it below.

I changed my mind. I didn’t like that picture as well as I liked this one, which was taken under the Navarro Street Bridge.

When there’s flooding in San Antonio, the flood water in the river goes under downtown. There is a drain that starts just north of The Pearl and goes through an underground tunnel all the way through downtown and comes up again south of downtown. I will get to both ends of this tunnel eventually. Right now I am passing one of the ventilation shafts for the tunnel.

Now I am going under Interstate 35. Bats live under this bridge during the spring through the fall. There are a lot of bats in south and central Texas. After the construction of the Ann Richards Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, which is home to a colony of bats, they discovered that bats make good neighbors. Texas started constructing bridges so that the bats would could nest there. Under this bridge is another piece of public art, F.I.S.H. By Donald Lipski, which is a school of gigantic illuminated long-eared sunfish. Long-eared sunfish are native to the San Antonio River, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one myself. Mostly I’ve seen minnows and catfish.

I’m passing some apartments. I would dearly love to – without inheriting the money because I love my dad – have the money to live in the apartments down here. Maybe I will someday be able to find a groove with this blog and make a whole bunch of money. Ha! But who knows? I may find the money somewhere. Someday.


I would actually prefer to live closer to the Pearl, just for the ambience. There are musicians and things out there and people and it’s just so lively. I loved living in the dorms when I was in college, because there were a lot of people and activity and music and I just felt less isolated than I feel in the suburbs.

I’m about to cross the Brewery Bridge. This bridge, which is in the image at the top of my blog, used to span the space between the two towers of the Lone Star Brewery. This brewery is now the San Antonio Museum of Art and the bridge across it is glassed-in.

It occurred to me recently that the GoPro lite that I’m planning to buy will also help in this project of dictating my blog posts. Sometimes the app mixes up what I said and so once I have the camera, I can always go back and listen to what I actually said.

In 2009, they installed a bunch of new public art on the Riverwalk. In the years since then, some of it, like F.I.S.H. is just fine, but others have fallen into disrepair. I’m passing one of them as I speak. This is Sonic Passage, by Bill Fontana. Fontana took a microphone and traveled up and down the river in all seasons and captured the sounds of birds and frogs and fish jumping out of and landing back in the water and things like that. Then he looped selections from that recording and had them playing on speakers under the Jones Street Bridge. This one worked for quite a while. Evelyn and I have been walking on the river together for the last several years, and the sound really bothered her dogs. I was one of her dogs by myself and she just took off running.

I am now passing more apartments that are too expensive for me, insert pouting emoji. If there is such a thing as a pouting emoji, There is an interpretive sign here about the Alamo Mills Dam. I don’t know exactly where the mill was (it was probably under the apartments), but parts of the dam are still here.

On my left is VFW Post 76 which is the oldest VFW post in Texas. If I recall it’s actually the building is the oldest post but I don’t think I don’t think the VFW has been there that long, I’ll have to once again have to look it up at home.*

There still more land from the Art Museum on my right here and more apartments on my left. I’m passing this kind of artificial little marshy area. The interpretive signage is about marsh ecology and how marshes form when bends in the river are blocked off by sediment. The plants here are marsh plants. There used to be a banana tree, but I guess they figured that it wasn’t native. Also, I don’t know how well the banana tree did after the Snowpocalypse of 2021.

Now on my right there’s a building. I honestly don’t know what takes up most of the building, but the top floor is a bar. Now, I don’t drink. Anybody who knows me knows that. However this bar is where they have a drag brunch on Sunday. And I really would like to go to the drag brunch. They’ve got to have non-alcoholic beverages for the designated drivers. Alternatively, I can always fall back on the old standby of drink mixers, like I did in the days before designated drivers.

On my right I have a Wyndham Garden Hotel which looks like a nice place to stay. It’s certainly convenient to the Riverwalk. To my left is I don’t know what. It’s a building that always looks empty when I’m walking down here. Of course, it’s possible that I’m only here when they’re closed. I need to go to the surface level sometime and find out what this is.

Here is the lock and dam, which opened in 2009. The San Antonio River drops or goes up suddenly depending on which direction are going. So when they decided they wanted to run boats on this part of the river, they had to build a lock. For anyone who doesn’t know what a lock is, it’s a sort of box where you put the boat in and you pump water into the box raise to the boat up to the new level or you put a boat in and suck water out until they’re down at the level of the river. There are always a bunch of double-crested cormorants on the dam as well, which is cool.

The next piece of art on the Riverwalk is 29° 26′ 00″ N and 98° 29′ 07″ W by Stewart Allen. This is steel frames with colored steel strings across it. The original intent was for the colors in the frames to morph as you pass by, and, as I recall, it did that for a number of years. But, like Sonic Passage, 29° 26′ 00″ N and 98° 29′ 07″ W has fallen into disrepair and the colors are muted. If you didn’t know it was art, you might mistake it for part of the underpass.

*It is the first VFW post founded in the state of Texas. At least, no numbers in the state are lower. Post 76 was founded in 1917, and the next-oldest, 688, was founded in Boerne in 1936. So there you go.

Gratuitous Amazon Link time. Today we have the first book in the Scholomance trilogy by Naomi Novik, A Deadly Education. The protagonist of the series is Galadriel, El for short, who is terrified of her own potential for dark magic. The book is set at the Scholomance, a magical school where all of the education is self-guided, and monsters roam the halls (and the ventilation shafts, and the plumbing).

Have I Posted About Being Ace?

I’m sure I’ve mentioned it, but have I written a whole post about it yet?

I’m 55 years old and I’ve just started to come to grips with this. My mom, I think, was also ace. I think she was a sex-averse ace, too.

When the girls in my Girl Scout troop were all boy crazy, I just . . . wasn’t. I was very uncomfortable and my mom literally had to force me to go every week. She said that, basically, she didn’t believe me. She suggested that I wasn’t boy crazy because I’d had guy friends. Guys weren’t a mystery to me.

She tried, “Girls don’t talk that way about boys.” And I was, like, “Yes they do. I hear it every Monday night.”

Finally she settled on, “They’re just more mature than you are.” Now, granted, I did have a low frustration level, and that is kind of related to maturity, but it’s more of a neurological problem on some levels. It also relates to how in control of your life you feel, and we’re talking about my mom forcing a 13-year-old girl to do what the mom wanted me to do. In other words, I had very little control over my life.

I started dating a couple of years after I finally got my mom to let me quit Girl Scouts (oh, and by all accounts the senior troop that that group fed into was led by a woman who had more control over the girls and, rather than going places to check out guys, the girls went on educational trips and things of that nature, which was what I had wanted all along).

Anyway, my dating life was meh. Every time a guy I dated got handsy, I’d cool off quick. Because, just, no. And most of my peers were surprised because some of the guys I dated were really good looking. Then I started dating Thomas and I really didn’t mind all that much if he got handsy.

In the years since my divorce, it became increasingly clear to me that I just am not interested in interacting with people sexually. I mean, I can appreciate attractive people, but the idea of having intimate contact with them? Meh.

For years, I thought that I just needed some time to have my body to myself, but then I heard the stories of asexuals and they all sounded more-or-less like my story. I’ve thought of this period of my life as being like the A Chorus Line song “Hello Twelve, Hello Thirteen, Hello Love,” in structure, but not so much in content. If you know the song, everyone is singing about their sexual awakenings. They’re saying different things, but they’re all telling the same story. And the aces I’ve heard are also telling the same story and when I was 54 years old, I realized that it was my story, too.

I searched my Goodreads for books that users have tagged with “asexual,” but don’t have any results, so no Germane Amazon Link today. So here’s a Gratuitous Amazon Link. Looks like it’s time for In the Shadows, by Kierstin White and Jim DiBartolo. In the Shadows is a story told in alternating sections. We go back and forth between graphic-novel-style adventures of a young man who seems to stay the same age as the world ages around him and the text tale of two adolescent sisters, Cora and Minnie, and two brothers the same ages, Charles and Thomas, and Arthur, a stranger about their age who has recently arrived and who clearly is carrying a secret.

Walk on the River Walk, March 6, 2022, Part 3

As I go under the Guenther Street Bridge, I notice how many spiderwebs there are here. It took me a while to remember what these spiderwebs remind me of. It’s when Alex and I went to the Great Salt Lake. There were all of these little flies all over the place and, drawn to the all-you-can-eat buffet of flies, there were also a lot of spiders. I love spiders, so this was fascinating. However, the grandfather of the family that arrived just after us was freaked out.

As I walk farther, I noticed the sound of the Pioneer Flour Mill. It always makes this kind of regular humming sound, which is understandable. It’s probably the mill milling. But there’s also an occasional hissing, like a can of compressed air.

So I’m going back north. I think that rather than going over the bridge this time, instead I’m going to under the Johnson Street bridge past the arsenal which I’ll talk about a little as I pass it probably and then cross the river back to the other side. I will have to cross the river twice. One of those crossings is going have to be on or just after Nueva Street. There’s no pathway on this side of the river after that. Then my car is on this side, so I will have to cross back over later on.

So now I am at the headquarters of HEB which was the United States Arsenal. I guess that the interpretive signage is on the other side of the river since the interpretive signage on this side is for Guenther’s Upper Mill, which is on the other side. Anyway this was the United States arsenal from 18 something to 19 something. I think after the Civil War.

To be honest with you, when I first ended up working at my current retail location, I actually wondered if there was some way I could parlay it into a job at HEB headquarters, since I have corporate home office experience and retail experience, I figured, “Why not?” I searched for jobs for quite a while, but nearly all of the postings I saw were for graphic designers. I’m sure I could pick it up, since I’ve been trained in five careers so far, but I’d rather be able to get paid for something I can already do.

I found the interpretive signage on this side of the river. Construction began on the arsenal in 1859, but the Civil War interrupted it. Then after the war, it became the arsenal again until 1947. It sat empty for quite a while before HEB bought it.

I think I’m going to cross over the Nueva Street Dam and Marina. The name of it is a lot of words but there you go.

I was originally supposed to be doing this with Evelyn but she hasn’t been feeling well lately, so I’m doing this by myself. I guess that’s okay though, since I’m doing this narrating thing. I’d probably be talking to her and socializing. Maybe walking with dogs because she’s got several of them. She’s got custody of Mila right now.

I keep forgetting to punctuate and add paragraphs. I guess I can do that later once I get home, but sometimes just trying to figure out what I was intending to say is we kind of adventure. We’ll see how this turns out.

At this point, I found that I must have gone through and edited most of this before. The next few paragraphs look pretty good, at any rate.

I just passed where the Texas Master Naturalists Wildscape Garden used to be (it’s in Hardberger Park West now) There’s this really old-looking building right there, and there’s no historical marker or sign or anything indicating what it is. Maybe I get home I’ll look it up.*

Spring is upon us. I have seen at least three animals in pursuit of reproductive success. Right now two squirrels are chasing each other and earlier I passed a couple of pigeons who seemed to be feeling romantic. And when I started my walk, I saw two male ducks either trying to mate or fighting. They kept nipping each other on the neck. They didn’t look angry about it. Maybe they just weren’t to the angry part yet.

I’m on the Nueva Street Dam now. There are traffic cones with arrows attached. I’m not sure what the arrows mean**. This dam is one of the places where we stop the flow of the river when it’s flooding. And also we use it when we clean the river out. I have some pictures of the river when it’s drained. I’ll have to see if I can find them.

There’s some kind of rusty stuff on one of the sides of the dam. I’m not going to take pictures because it looks pretty unappetizing.***

I am now passing the statue of Francisco Madero who was president of Mexico or something like that. There’s an interpretive sign here. Let me see. This is the site of the former Hutchins Hotel, which was his headquarters. He was kicked out of Mexico in 1910 and when he went back to Mexico he became president in 1911, and was assassinated in 1913. That was fast.

I was here one time in . . . November? The statue here was decorated with flowers. I tried to figure what that was about and I never did. I’ll have to remember to come here next November and try that same day and if I do, maybe I’ll call the city to see what’s up with that.

Near the dam is the marina where the barges that the tours run on, and I think the river taxi as well, are stored. There is also a double crested cormorant sitting on a cable here. The first time Alex and I saw one of those, it disappeared beneath the water and didn’t come back out, so we called it the Loch Ness Monster. Though the term may actually have been used first by a passerby. After some time passed and I was like, trying to figure out what the heck that had been and finally I found a description of double crested Cormorant and looked it up and by golly that was what it was. So I mentioned to my dad after that and he’s like just based on the description of it, I could have told you that. And I was like “lot of help you are.”

I didn’t think it was going to get this warm today I should have worn shorts. I’ll survive. Probably. If you find a news article about a woman who has melted on the Riverwalk that might be me. I think that my next weekday off, I’ll walk around the surface and talk about the buildings things that I pass.****

The only real problem with this new approach for narrating my walks is that I dehydrate faster. I think if I’m going to continue to do this, I am going to have to carry my bigger purse with two bottles of water. I’m also getting hungry.

I sort of do this modified intermittent fasting thing. I don’t want to fast too often or too regularly because I think my body might get used to having fewer calories on certain days. Instead, my second day off of work for the weekend, I eat breakfast and then go for a long walk until I’m really hungry. And I’m really hungry.

I think this building here that I’m passing is the International Center. This is where the barges used to be stored. Anyway I am standing here by the water and I can see the place where the barges used to come and go from underneath the building. I think there may be other boats there now, but I’m not sure.

Do you know how long it took me to figure out where this old marina was? I had been reading directions and descriptions and destinations and hitting Google maps and all this other nonsense. I don’t remember where Thomas said it was, but I could never see where the boats would come out of that building.

Now I’m crossing another flood bridge. This is the one closest to the main touristy part of the Riverwalk. I’ve found a lot of lost people at the foot of this bridge. They end up unsure which direction the people are in.

I’m walking past a bunch of hotels. Nothing too exciting here. I mean, I like hotels, but the historically important hotels are, well, not here. Additionally, there’s a dilapidated building here that I’ve seen, but I’ve never really looked at before. I need to go to the surface someday and see if the front of the building looks any better. It’s probably a palace.

One of the hotels I’m passing is a Holiday Inn My father-in-law and his second wife stayed here in one of their visits. Then on the left again, next to the dilapidated building, is the Book Building. Thomas and I were very disappointed the first time we noticed it to find that it had nothing to do with books. It seems to have been designed by an architect whose name was Book.

And then on my right just before the Houston Street Bridge we have the Hotel Valencia on my right. Wow. I don’t remember what was here when I first moved to San Antonio. I need to get off my butt and get a damn GoPro or equivalent so that I can take movies of what downtown looks like today, so that in 20 years I’m not, “there used to be something else there. I don’t remember what.” I’m kicking myself for not getting one earlier, but, like they say about investing, the best time was yesterday. The second-best time is now.

*I looked it up and it looks like it might have been built in 1993. It looks way old for that, though. I guess it’s time for more research.

** And I call myself a history buff. This walk was on the anniversary of the Battle of the Alamo. I think that might have been where the arrows were leading.

***As I went to sleep that night, I realized what it looked like (granted, I didn’t have my glasses on, so . . . . It looked like what you’d see if you covered beggar’s lice in an orange tomato sauce, kind of like Spaghetti Os and then looked at it through a magnifying glass.

****I’m editing this on the evening of my next weekday off. I ended up having Popeye’s for lunch with my dad and then going to Friedrich Wilderness Park with Evelyn. I spent the evening crocheting and working on my Mandarin. So maybe I’ll do that on my next second day off.

Today’s Gratuitous Amazon Link is The Bone Shard Daughter, by Andrea Stewart. The Bone Shard Daughter is set in a world where the major form of magic are constructs animated by shards of bone. Lin, daughter of the Emperor, is forbidden to learn the bone shard magic. Nevertheless, she is trying to learn it in secret. She is in competition with her father’s protege, Bayan, for her father’s esteem. There are three other narrators and their stories intertwine, telling the story of an empire that is falling apart.

Walk on the Riverwalk, March 6, 2022, Part 2

I am still in the King William District approaching the Johnson Street Bridge. The pillars on the Johnson Street bridge were originally somewhere else. I’m so embarrassed. I usually know these things off the top my head.

I’ve crossed the Johnson Street Bridge and I took a brief water Pokémon Go (there’s a gym here), and research break and learned that the pillars on the Johnson Street were originally on the original Commerce Street Bridge. The Commerce Street Bridge was moved to Johnson Street. At the very least, the finials are still there. One site (bridgehunter.com) says that this is a new bridge built in the 1980s, but the Austin Chronicle says that the current bridge dates back to the time when O. Henry lived in San Antonio. I may have to go back to the bridge and look for makers’ marks or something to get to the bottom of this.

There are stairs here but I like to take the ramp. Funny, I was walking with Alex one day and I could not remember the word ramp to save my life. I ended up calling it the escalator. I tell people that if I have a stroke nobody will know because I use the wrong words so often.

N.B.: I’m not sure what happened to this next section because I seem to jump back and forth between the next two topics, so I had to try to recreate the paragraphs from what I can recall from the walk.

Just after the Johnson Street Bridge is the headquarters for the San Antonio River System which has some interpretive signage and these cisterns to collect rainwater outside. It also has a nice little half-wall that is a good place to sit down for a while.

Next up is the Pioneer Flour Mill, which was originally the CH Guenther Mill. This is a really pretty building and one of my friends who is very gifted photographer took such a nice picture of it once. I am also taking a picture of it, but it won’t be nearly as good as hers.

The Pioneer Flour Mill, 2022

I accidentally started a block and now can’t make it go away. So hi there!

So just realized I always had some pictures of how you get from the Riverwalk to the Witte Museum. It’s not as easy as you would think from the signs saying that the Riverwalk goes from Mission Espada in the south to the Witte Museum in the North. The main problem is the Brackenridge Golf Course. The river goes through the golf course, but it’d be too dangerous to have a walking path through it.

So maybe that’s something I could do. I could walk north from the Pearl to the Witte Museum and post my pictures. I’d have to figure out how to make the images work, though. Once upon a time I would have done this with an HTML table with the text in the left column and the pictures in the right column, but I can’t get a table to work in WordPress. I’ll have to wrestle with this idea.

Next door to the Pioneer Flour Mill is a breakfast place called the Guenther House. My mother-in-law took us to breakfast there once and it was really good. I need to go back sometime.

I suspect that a lot of the words I can’t understand might be “doggo.” So many people are walking their dogs on the Riverwalk. Just so many adorable puppers.

I am at the Blue Star Arts Complex and took a break to drink some water and I realized how little water I have. It’s now time to turn around.

Gratuitous Amazon Link time! Today we have Catherine House, by Elisabeth Thomas. Catherine House is a post-secondary school that isn’t a college or university but that fills the same spot. Presumably it qualifies you for, for example, law school, in the same way a university would. The only issue is that while the education only takes three years, students are not allowed to leave campus for that entire three years. Creepy and atmospheric and just so good. At least I enjoyed it. You might, too.

Computer Update

I’m having a bit of a delay on my my next section of my Riverwalk post.

My computer is apparently older than I remembered. I could’ve sworn I bought more computers than this since Thomas’s and my breakup, but I guess this dates from 2012.

Anyway, the poor thing is feeling its age and it was hard to do anything with the computer, so Alex sat down with it on Wednesday and added a solid-state drive and upgraded the fans. He tried to add more RAM and a new graphics card, but my computer wasn’t having that.

As a side effect of all of this messing around, my computer decided for a day or so that it didn’t like my old hard drive. I finally got the hard drive back, but neither Word or Excel will work any longer. I also have lost all of the passwords saved in my browser.

What this amounts to is that I have found that I could open my posts in the version of OpenOffice that I’ve had since 2015 and was finally able to rescue my dictated blog posts and, well, it’s like trying to read old shorthand. When I first started cleaning up the post, I remembered most of what I said. But now, I’m down to remembering the walk and just kind of using keywords from the dictated post.

So now I know that I have to get my dictation translated in less than a week. Also, I think I need to enunciate more clearly to avoid some stuff like “I don’t know why the bear that very thing has some items on nowhere else.” I don’t know what I was trying to say there.

I guess it’s time to get back to interpreting my dictation.

I also have been going through lists of books and now have over 700 books that I have read or want to read on my Goodreads page. So I’m not likely to run out of Amazon Links (Gratuitous or Germane) for quite a while.

So, for today’s Gratuitous Amazon Link, I have We Ride Upon Sticks, by Quan Barry, a riff on the Salem Witch Trials set in Danvers, Massachusetts in 1989. Just so good. After selling their souls to Emilio Estevez, the girls’ field hockey team from Danvers High School goes from losers to the top. Does Emilio Estevez have dark powers? Or is something else going on?

Walk on the Riverwalk, August 6, 2022, Part 1

It’s funny, I have had such a terrible case of writers block lately but I  also haven’t been thinking much about travel or anything like it for a while. Once upon a time I was thinking about how one of the things I wanted to do with this space was give tours of the San Antonio Area.

It just hit me as I’m walking down the Riverwalk and am almost under the Cesar Chavez bridge, that I could narrate my walks on the Riverwalk. It would give me some new content and also a little glimpse into San Antonio and its history.

I am almost at Cesar Chavez and am passing a transmission antenna for I believe it’s a radio station but this location is where the first Spanish language television station in the country came from. KWEX-TV was the home of the Univision Spanish-language network.

I enjoy pointing out to people by the way that the “red” stripes on those antennas are actually orange. I was very surprised when I started working in broadcasting way back in the Jurassic era to find that out. At first, I thought it was a mistake on the FCC paperwork because they sure look red when compared with blue sky, but when you get closer, you realize that they are orange.

I just crossed under the Cesar Chavez bridge. Now we are officially in the King William district. Back in the 1800s Prince Karl of Solms-Braunfels brought a bunch of German settlers to Texas. They settled out where New Braunfels is now and they set up farms. Some became very wealthy and they moved into the city of San Antonio and built themselves mansions. This area was originally called “Koenig Wilhelm” after about King William of Prussia.

I saw a policeman riding a motorcycle down the other side of the Riverwalk. I don’t know what that’s about. He didn’t have his lights on or anything.

Later some bicyclists who were listening to music went down that side and I can’t understand what my version of Dragon Anywhere picked up there.  It came out as “But I just saw you were here right now.” I don’t even know.

As I pass under Arsenal Street, this is a nice place to walk in the fall because there’s, like, a lot of red oaks and a lot of cypresses and stuff and in the fall, they lose their leaves and if you time it just right, there’ll be leaves on the sidewalk and you can shuffle through them a lot like I’m back home in Chicago.

Okay. So back to King William. When World War I came and suddenly the Germans were the enemy so they temporarily named King William Street as Pershing Street and after the war they restored the name King William, but for whatever reason, they translated it, rather than

Most of the German settlers were Catholic and they got upset with the fact that San Fernando Cathedral was, well, I guess it might have just been a parish church at the time, was so heavily Hispanic, so they got their own German Catholic Church. This is St. Joseph’s, over by what used to be the Joskes and then was the Dillards at the Rivercenter mall. And now I’m not sure what is in there now.* I’ll have to go and see what in there now. It’s been a while.

Anyway the deal that they struck they would never sell the land the church was built on, so as the Joskes wanted to expand, they are had to build around the church on three sides. The people who celebrated mass at that church lived down here in the King William district.

Right now I am across the river from the headquarters for the HEB grocery chain which was normally probably talk about that another time.

Another thing that a lot of families did down here was milling. I’m passing right through what used to be Gunther’s upper mill I took a picture of the historical marker. I should post it when I get home and post this. I’m getting a little winded narrating and walking at the same time. Also my purse is kind of heavy. It has a big 20 ounces water bottle and the extra charging battery for my phone.

The historical marker for Guenter’s Upper Mill, San Antonio Riverwalk, 2022

I was rereading some of things I wrote and I may have to edit this quite a bit because I got something about “awaiting an actual statement.” I don’t know what I could have been saying that Dragon Anywhere would interpret as “awaiting an actual statement.”

I’m going to post this and then start working on what “Listener Genzyme” means. I might post the next chunk for tomorrow, it might take me a little longer than that to sort this next section out.

Today’s Gratuitous Amazon Link is The Winterbourne Home for Vengeance and Valor. Amazing book, not crazy about the title. The Winterbourne Home for Vengeance and Valor is the tale of April, who has one prized possession, a key with a crest on it. A crest that she sees on objects belonging to the Winterbourne family when she is at the art museum on a field trip. Her key is somehow connected to the Winterbourne family, but how?

*I do know that there’s an H&M in that building now, but I don’t think that takes up the entire space. Let’s go be the oldest person in an H&M! That sounds like fun!

On Education (Part 2)

I went to a San Antonio Rampage hockey game once and they gave an award to a teacher and described her as helping to educate the workers of tomorrow. But we aren’t just educating workers in our schools. We’re educating citizens. With the exception of some international students whose family will leave the country before the kids can achieve citizenship, every child in those classrooms are future voters.

In my previous post, I defended general education requirements on the college level by saying that they can help broaden the horizons of kids. The friend who posted the meme said that high school should be the place for learning broader subjects and college should be for specialization.

The issue with this is that underage residents of the United States are too much at the mercy of the adults in their lives.

The way our schools are funded is through local property taxes. This means that the more expensive the homes are in the area near the school, the more money those schools get, and thus the better quality of equipment, the better extracurricular activities are available, the more courses can be held in each subject matter, and the more the teachers and administrators get paid.

So now we have at least two different educational system, educational systems for the kids from wealthy areas and educational systems for kids from poorer areas. Now, let’s add to that the stresses on the kids in the poorer areas.

People who are poor, at least in the United States, generally have no, or little, savings cushion. Because of their low income they often are charged more for, say, a car loan than a wealthier person. Frequently they end up in high-crime areas as well.

Poor parents are generally working harder, more stressful jobs and thus are not present for their kids in the way that wealthy parents can be and, additionally, even when the wealthy parents can’t be there, they’ll have an easier time finding people to take care of their kids (nannies, babysitters, etc.). Wealthier families can also afford more activities for their kids, some, if not most, of which will also include personal attention from an adult.

It is stressful to be poor. I’m not an economist. I don’t even play one on TV. One of the studies I read back in the day (I cannot find it right now), says that “bad” stress is the result of how much control you have over your life.

These harder, more stressful jobs are harder because have that bad, less-control-over-your-life stress. I mean, jobs that pay well can be stressful, too, but they also can be, say, done from home, or the stress takes the form of sitting in meetings rather than working, or the workers can keep their own schedules. If something comes up that keeps them from coming in until noon, they can stay later to get their work done. Or if they know that they’ll need to be somewhere in the afternoon, they can come in earlier.

Do you think that the licensed practical nurse who comes in to take your temperature when you’re in the hospital can do that? Or the person who brings your groceries out to your car at the supermarket? Or the person who empties the garbage cans in your local park?

And this stress communicates itself to the kids, both psychologically and physically. PTSD can be transmitted epigenetically. I cannot help but think that this may also account for at least part of generational poverty.

Then there’s child hunger in the United States. For a non-zero number of kids in the United States, the “free school meals” are the only food they’ll have on that day. And even the poor kids who get three meals frequently get at least one meal of fast food because their folks are too tired from cutting hair or driving school buses, or cleaning floors all day to cook. So they stop for McDonald’s or KFC or whatever instead.

I wonder how many words I’m up to now, because I hesitate to get into the scourge on our land that is known as achievement testing. For my lifetime at least, achievement testing has been the law of the land. As a result, teaching to the test has always been a problem. Teachers are so busy trying to make sure that their students pass their achievement tests that really allowing kids to flourish, both academically and psychologically, gets lost in the shuffle.

Where is the space for deep dives into the “why” when the state is breathing down your back regarding your achievement tests? Or, worse, the college boards?

You know who can get that? The kids in advanced placement classes (those are college-level courses given in high school), but I don’t want only kids who qualify for AP classes to know this information. I want every kid to know it.

But that would require us to completely restructure how education works in our country. We’d need to get rid of separate education systems for the rich and the poor. We’d need to strengthen our social safety net so that everyone can have a financial buffer. We’d need to make sure that every child gets at least three healthy meals a day so that no child is stuffing themselves with empty calories just in an effort to keep going. We’d need to accept that the jobs that became known as “essential workers” are just that — essential — and give those workers their due in both pay and respect. We’d need to retrain our police officers to accept that when they say “Protect” on the side of their police cars, it means everyone regardless of how much money they have or where they live.*

Do you think that’ll happen anytime soon in the US? For all of the “COVID was a big wake up call to how important grocery store stockers were” we heard, it sure seems that this is all talk and no action. And that’s just one of the things that would have to happen before American students could get the quality of education that they deserve.

Gratuitous Amazon Link time: I got distracted by the Giveaways at Goodreads. Okay. Now back to 2019. Oop. 2020. This is when I joined the Fantastic Strangelings Book Club, and today’s book is the first book we read for the club, Follow Me to Ground, by Sue Rainsford. Follow Me to Ground is . . . odd. Fascinating, wonderfully written, but odd. Apparently it’s magical realism, but it wasn’t that realistic from my perspective. It felt more like some kind of post-apocalyptic setting to me. Ada is not human. She was created by her “father” when he put branches and sticks into the “Ground” that is outside their house. The Ground is, like, quicksand, and Ada and her father stick the local villagers, whom they refer to as “Cures” in that ground when they are ill, and their illness will be healed when they emerge from the ground. All has apparently been fine in their lives until Ada falls in love with a “Cure” named Samson.

This is definitely not a book I would have chosen for myself, but I’m glad I read it.

*Oh, I have a whole thing about the police. Maybe I’ll go into it later.

Knit and Crochet Update

I said a while ago that I’m going to start knitting and crocheting again and I’ve stuck with that. Maybe I should make it a New Year’s Resolution. Lunar New Year, I guess, since I started in earnest in mid February.

Anyway, I’ve wanted a weighted blanket for a while. They recommend 1 pound (0.45 kg) of blanket for every 10 pounds (4.5 kg) of body weight. I would be crushed by the 15 pound (6.8 kg) ones that they sell in most places.

I saw an ad for a knit weighted blanket that cost more than $200, even for my size. So I started playing around with ideas.

I remembered that I made a very heavy crocheted blanket once upon a time. I thought I knew where it was, but when I looked, I couldn’t find it. I remembered that it had several rows of bobbles (multiple double-crochet stitches into one stitch and then combined back into one stitch) and thought that maybe the bobbles might be why it was so heavy.

I, or rather, my dad, found the blanket, but by then, I’d started on a project that is a blanket that’s all bobbles. I’ve been working on it for almost a month, and it’s 2.2 pounds (1 kg). It’s about 1/3 of the way done and I’m probably going to be adding a border so we’re looking at 7-ish pounds/3 kg.

Bobble Blanket as of March 5, 2022

I’m trying to keep to one project at a time. I’m thinking that my next project might be a knit cardigan called the Crooked River Cardigan next. It’s seamless, which is my preference for knitting projects. I hate having to piece things together.

I may do a cardigan and tank set instead. I have the yarn for that one, but would have to order yarn for the Crooked River Cardigan.

After that, Evelyn has asked me to make a bobble blanket for her.

Then we’ll see what I end up doing.

Germane Amazon Link today. This is another book from my knitting library, Kaffe’s Classics: 25 Glorious Knitting Designs. Kaffe Fassett’s designs are all colorwork, which is not my strong suit, to be frank. But I have made Kaffe’s Baclava design, albeit in different colors.