BlathrWayne Lorentz

Blathring in August, 2021.

Off the chain

Tuesday, August 31st, 2021 Alive 18,389 days

A hundred grackles wait in line at Home Depot

You know the supply chain shortages are getting out of hand when even the grackles have to line up for bird seed.

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Go Blue

Saturday, August 28th, 2021 Alive 18,386 days

Iʼve learned to stop wearing my Dodgers sweatshirt around the building. People give me the stink eye. One of the valet guys told me itʼs because people here hate people from California. Iʼm not surprised. People are like that in Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, too.

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Not scary at all

Monday, August 23rd, 2021 Alive 18,381 days

The Star from underneath

In the basement of my building, itʼs possible to see the new foundation holding up the old foundation.

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Professional help

Sunday, August 22nd, 2021 Alive 18,380 days

A shelf that belongs to Constellation Apartments

Unpacking my stuff today, I was reminded of another good reason to hire a packing service when youʼre moving: Comedic value.

Every time Iʼve hired a company to pack my stuff to move, something has happened that just made me shake my head. Usually, itʼs caused by the packersʼ fear that they might forget to pack something.

When I moved from Houston to Chicago, the packing company packed my garbage, so that when I arrived in the Windy City, I had a nice stinking garbage can all ready to be emptied.

This time, the packing company actually packed the shelves from the cabinets in my kitchen. Iʼm not sure what Iʼm going to do with them in my new place, because theyʼre the wrong size for the cabinets here.

My old apartment building can have them back, if it wants. It just has to pay for the postage.

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If you need some help, Iʼll be asleep

Friday, August 20th, 2021 Alive 18,378 days

Annie observing from on high

Annie has found a safe location from which to observe the Grand Unpacking of All the Things.

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Ski Tomball

Friday, August 20th, 2021 Alive 18,378 days

When people ask me why I moved to Houston, I tell them itʼs because I love to ski, and Iʼm bad at geography.

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Thirsty for vowels

Monday, August 16th, 2021 Alive 18,374 days

A dysfunctional fountain “Closed for Maintainence”

Three fails in one word. Pretty impressive.

  1. “Maintenance” is spelled wrong
  2. The line break isnʼt between syllables
  3. The line break isnʼt hyphenated

An additional point should be deducted for putting a dingbat in the middle of a sentence.

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You know itʼs raining, right?

Monday, August 16th, 2021 Alive 18,374 days

Working in downtown Houston

I shall work here today.

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Still better mileage than a Chevy Suburban

Sunday, August 15th, 2021 Alive 18,373 days

A mechanized street cleaning contraption

In most cities, they have people pushing brooms to clean the streets. But this is Houston, so “Letʼs see if thereʼs a way we can do this sitting down while burning dead dinosaurs.”

If you put that thing in reverse, does it spew out everything its Hoovered up?

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Coffee cops

Saturday, August 14th, 2021 Alive 18,372 days

A sign advertising free coffee for police officers, firefighters, and hospital workers

Thereʼs a weird kind of hybrid bar -slash- epicurean bodega near my home called District Market that gives free coffee to cops and other essential workers. Thatʼs nice.

People make a lot of jokes about cops and doughnut shops thinking that itʼs nothing more than a lame stereotype, but few understand that thereʼs a historical reason for that association.

America used to be littered with all-night coffee shops. This was because people used to stay out later, as they didnʼt have much entertainment at home. People also used to work later because a lot of once-massive industries demanded it. And more people worked overnight shifts than they do now. Stopping at a coffee shop or a diner on the way home at 2am was a perfectly normal thing to do. People also used to work harder, so in some cities there were 24-hour cheap steak joints, but thatʼs a story for another time.

Because these coffee shops were open in the small hours, they were often the targets of criminals. A clever way to attract police officers to your late-night noshery in order to repel criminals was to offer the badged free coffee, and sometimes free doughnuts.

Whether District Market is giving away free coffee in lieu of paying for improved security doesnʼt really matter, because itʼs still a nice thing to do. And the whole notion of “free coffee” which used to be ubiquitous in American society has almost disappeared today.

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That first step is a doozy

Friday, August 13th, 2021 Alive 18,371 days

Doors cut into the side of the Southwestern Bell building

The Southwestern Bell building across the street has a channel in it that was once populated by windows. Then the windows were converted into doors. And now theyʼre death traps.

Amazingly, I occasionally see people open these doors and stand next to the abyss smoking. The crush out their cigarettes on the historic brick facade.

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Asleep in the deal

Friday, August 13th, 2021 Alive 18,371 days

Annie sleeping in a shopping bag

Annie is half in the bag this morning.

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Stock poorly

Friday, August 13th, 2021 Alive 18,371 days

An error message from Stockwell

My apartment building has a Stockwell vending machine in the basement.

Unlike the vending machines of yore, this one is just an open cabinet with a camera that watches what you take off the shelves and uses magic A.I. fairies to send you a bill. That is, if it works. Which it doesnʼt.

I canʼt even get the Stockwell app to acknowledge that the Stockwell machine in my building exists.

I guess Iʼll spend my snack money at the convenience store across the street, instead. Where I can pay by cash, or credit card, or Apple Pay, or even food stamps if I had them. And if something goes wrong, there are intermittently friendly people to help me out, and not some Silicon Valley robot barking, “object has no attribute.”

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Ignorance is bliss

Wednesday, August 11th, 2021 Alive 18,369 days

An ominous message from iOS

This is what happens when you move from a state with a COVID notification app to a state that lacks a COVID notification app.

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Distorted view

Wednesday, August 11th, 2021 Alive 18,369 days

Inside the Sky Lounge at The Star

I shall work here today.

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“Youʼre like a miniature Buddha, covered with hair.”

Wednesday, August 11th, 2021 Alive 18,369 days

Kitty in the kitchen

Annie reflects on her day.

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Gettinʼ nothinʼ but static from Channel Z

Tuesday, August 10th, 2021 Alive 18,368 days

An error message from Netflix

Iʼm not happy that Netflix is borked. But at least the error message is creative.

But if Netflix canʼt keep its system running, what chance do I have?

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Priority pizza

Tuesday, August 10th, 2021 Alive 18,368 days

It's interesting to see how much Houston has changed in the last 20 years, and how much it hasn't.

Things that are new include the robot security guards at the neighboring skyscrapers; light rail lines on three sides of my building; and a complete lack of jazz, classical, or news radio stations.

What hasn't changed includes Frank's Pizza, which has the finest 'zza west of the Mississippi; the first Starbucks I ever went to is still there; the horrendous undercarriage-scraping defect in San Felipe Road is still there 20 years later; and also the notion of “Texas friendly.”

People are so nice here compared with California, Nevada, Washington, Illinois, and most of the other places we've lived. The first truck stop we went to when we crossed the border was out of newspapers. Some rando guy heard me asking the casher about it, and he gave me the paper he was reading. “I only wanted to read the front page,” he lied. Same with 90% of everyone we've met. So generous.

They let you merge, unlike the Californians who are so angry and jealous to their cores that they think everything is a race. Even the guy with Tourette syndrome who works the parking lot at Target is super nice to everyone. A cop stopped traffic so I could cross the street carrying a pizza. I just can't imagine that happening anywhere else.

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Wheeeeeez

Tuesday, August 10th, 2021 Alive 18,368 days

A smoky forecast on an iPad

OK. But my doctor says I shouldnʼt.

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Signs of the times

Sunday, August 8th, 2021 Alive 18,366 days

Every electronic road sign in Nevada: “Keep Vegas open, get your shots now!”

Every electronic road sign in Arizona: “6.8 million doses administered so far. Get yours!”

Every electronic road sign in New Mexico: “Protect your family. Get your free COVID vaccine.”

Every electronic road sign in Texas: “Buckle up for safety!”

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Does it rock?

Saturday, August 7th, 2021 Alive 18,365 days

Sabbath mode on a KitchenAid oven

It turns out my new oven has a Sabbath mode. It also turns out to do the opposite of what I assumed it would.

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That looks comfy

Thursday, August 5th, 2021 Alive 18,363 days

Annie asleep on the heater

Annie relaxing at the Aloft Hotel in San Antonio.

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On, Dasher

Thursday, August 5th, 2021 Alive 18,363 days

An error message from DoorDash

Not only did DoorDash eat itself, it canʼt even show a legible error message.

Itʼs like the DoubleFail Twins of delivery apps.

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Open all the windows

Thursday, August 5th, 2021 Alive 18,363 days

People repairing a water line outside my hotel

I didnʼt necessarily expect to wake up to chirping birds and the softness of wind through sagebrush this morning. But I also didnʼt expect to wake up to a diesel-powered emergency sump pump.

The water line feeding the Best Western Plus Hotel in Fort Stockton broke overnight. Which means that after driving 400 miles last night, I have to drive another 350 miles without a shower. In August. In Texas.

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0xDEADBEEF

Thursday, August 5th, 2021 Alive 18,363 days

A malfunctioning gas pump

I have no idea how much I paid for gas. I think the credit price for Plus is “Burp.”

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Roaminʼ cat lick

Wednesday, August 4th, 2021 Alive 18,362 days

Annie on the prowl

Annie surveys our room at the Best Western Plus Hotel in Fort Stockton, Texas before settling down to sleep on top of the refrigerator.

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East bound and down, loaded up and truckinʼ

Wednesday, August 4th, 2021 Alive 18,362 days

Annie keeping an eye out for bears

“Dude, there's a Smokey on your tail. Floor it!”

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Right purdy

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2021 Alive 18,361 days

Sunset from a Walmart parking lot in Fort Stockton, Texas

Meanwhile, in West Texas.

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Such great heights

Monday, August 2nd, 2021 Alive 18,360 days

Annie sleeping on a pile of furniture

After a busy day surveying the packing of all of our things, Annie snoozes high atop the pile of stuff in our living room.

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You bought them out, right?

Sunday, August 1st, 2021 Alive 18,359 days

Halloween-themed candy from the Terrible Herbst

August 1st, and the gas station is already loaded for Halloween.

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