Monday, January 01, 2007

Things I've Learned So Far This Year

The new year is less than a day old, but I've already learned some things:
  • Almost everyplace was open today; I had thought more places gave their employees at least part of the day off. Only Chipotle was closed among the places I passed today.

  • It is also possible to get a repair technician on a holiday, even if you're told it's not likely to happen.

  • Cold showers are just as bad as I remember them being.
The new year has gotten off to an unusual start, going back to yesterday afternoon when I noticed some water on my entryway sidewalk on a non-rainy day. A quick tour of the premises showed that I had a constant drip coming out of my water heater (which, thankfully, is in my garage; this would have been a much bigger issue if it were located in the attic, like my parents' one is). I called my usual repair place, who told me that I would be on standby for today, but it would likely be tomorrow before anyone could come over.

So I was quite surprised to be jarred out of bed at 8 a.m. this morning by a call from the repair place informing me that someone was on the way over. And while "on the way" ended up meaning "an hour and a half from now," I was still impressed that I got service so early on a holiday, even as I was feeling bad for the guy who had to be working at that hour.

As for the rest of the story, we found out that the tank was totally rusted out, so the unit would have to be replaced. Mom and Dad were kind enough to do the Home Depot/Lowe's trip down in Sugar Land to do the initial legwork for me, so when I went to the one up here, I knew exactly what I was looking for and was in and out in twenty minutes.

Needless to say, the cold shower I had to take this afternoon was No Fun At All. The installer for the new one is supposed to be out before five tomorrow, so unless I'm teaching anyone before that, I"m saving the shower until then (apologies in advance to any friends who may visit).

I hope your new year has been less eventful than that so far.

Sticker shock: December is the month where my car registration sticker expires. I really like that you can renew over the Internet now, but the excess adhesive on the new stickers drove me crazy when I tried to get the old one off (this was happening in tandem with the discovery of the water heater leak, mind you). Usually, the old stuff will come off with a razor blade or Windex, but I had to use a combination of both, plus a pizza cutter (no joke) and way too much elbow grease. Have any other of my fellow Texans had this much of a problem with the new stickers?

Return of the Jedi roses: As always, I watched the Rose Parade this morning (I noted a year ago that this has been an annual tradition for me ever since I went to the thing at the age of four when we lived in California). This year's grand marshal was George Lucas, so there were several Star Wars-themed floats, with Ewoks and C3PO and R2-D2 and so on. The most unusual entry was the group of 200 stormtroopers (led by Darth Vader, of course) who marched in between the two floats. The troopers came from a worldwide fan group called the 501st Legion, whose members make their own costumes (at a cost of around $1000 a pop) and make charity appearances all over the world. (They said on TV that Lucas kicked in for their airfare to get to the parade.)

UPDATE: A set of photos of the stormtroopers practicing for the parade is found here; I especially got a kick out of the picture of them practicing in their street clothes, but with helmets on.

I should also note that the parade coverage on HGTV is blowing everyone else's out of the water these days--not only because they run it nonstop and commercial-free, but because the network hosts have just gotten silly. I don't know why Al Roker isn't doing the parade for NBC anymore, but his replacement--a guy I'd never heard of--just became unlistenable after a while. I caught part of their coverage only because their vantage point, with the famed Norton Simon Museum in the background, has become part of the landscape for me when watching the parade, but I taped the whole thing on HGTV and watched it later.

Congrats to the General: Texas Tech basketball coach Bob Knight got his 880th win as a head coach this afternoon; that puts him ahead of the legendary Dean Smith as the all-time leader in men's college basketball. I had the chance to see Knight coach in person when he was at Indiana; my aunt and uncle are alumni and have front-row season tickets, and they let my cousin and me borrow their seats one night when I was visiting. I remember joking that I was disappointed that he didn't throw a chair when we were there, but it was obvious that we were in the presence of something big. Coming from a school where basketball isn't huge (yet?), it blew me away to see a full house on January 2 (when most of the students aren't back yet), along with a 75-piece pep band made up entirely of alumni and people scalping tickets in the snow outside Assembly Hall.

So a lot of people are wondering how Knight will be remembered when all is said and done--for his victories, the high graduation rate of his players...or for the occasional fiery outbursts that have sometimes gotten him in trouble. Read the comments to this Fox Sports blog post and you'll see that opinions are strong and varied in both directions, though the supporters seem to be in the majority.


Eric Grubbs said...

The Kingwood Mighty Mustang Military Marching Band (my high school band) marched in this year's Rose parade. Twas very cool.

Gary P. said...

My favorite parade memory: When the Louisiana Tech band made a trip to Baton Rouge to march in a parade to the state capitol building. My 21st birthday was the day before the trip. The drinking age in LA at the time was 18, but that didn't stop some of my KKY brothers and me from getting TORE UP before even getting on the bus, then drinking at least half way there. I hardly played at all during the parade, then had to stand on the capitol steps for a couple of hours in what must have been 90 degree heat and 90 percent humidity in my toasty wool uniform.

The occasion? A statewide "Say No to Drugs and Alcohol" rally for school kids.

While I'm reminiscing about my days at Tech, your reference to The General is flashing me back to playing in the basketball band there too. Competition was intense to get into the Hoop Troop because at the time it meant guaranteed travel with the Lady Techsters during tournament time, and the men's team was pretty good for a few years too in the immediate post-Karl Malone era as current NBA veteran P.J. Brown, former NBA washout Randy White, and NBA prospect turned local cocaine dealer Anthony "Bear" Dade (probably the best prospect of all 3 while in college) carried the team to post-season tournaments for a few years. But the women's team was where real action was... going Final Four all three years while I was at Tech and winning it all my soph year. Good times!

The program has fallen on hard times this year, currently sitting at 5-8 and in grave danger of missing the NCAA Women's Tournament for the first time ever. It's been a shame watching them fall from a perennial national championship contender to a second-tier school to where they are now.

Kev said...

Eric--yeah, I saw your alma mater on TV (though I had forgotten that's where you went; I was thinking the Woodlands for some reason. I got my "woods" mixed up).

I noticed they were marching to a march; did you guys do military when you were there, or was that just for the parade?

Gary--re the playing "under the influence" at a Just Say No rally--LOL.

A similar thing happened when I was playing in lab band for a BACCHUS event (that's the group that promotes responsible drinking on college campuses). One of the guys in the sax section was very hung over from the night before, and the tenor player sitting next to me was soaking his reeds in vodka! (He swore that it broke down the fibers less than if you soaked them in water.)

Wow, it's band geek city over here on The Musings today... ;-)

Gary P. said...

Wow, it's band geek city over here on The Musings today.

What do you mean "today"? :-)

Eric Grubbs said...

The KM4B has always marched in the military drill style.

Kev said...

Yeah Eric, I noticed the "military" in that big round of alliteration after I posted my comment. I didn't realize that anyone outside of Deep East Texas still did that anymore.

You should have heard my students who went to area marching contest this year talk about how weird it was to see a military show, which I doubt any of them had ever seen before unless they watched the Aggie Band on TV. I guess when you grow up marching corps style, with oboes and cellos and vocalists and giant percussion pits and all the stuff I talked about in this post, seeing a military band is like watching aliens from another planet.