stormy Apr 29, 2006
There was a crazy thunderstorm in the morning which made me wake up thinking something was being tossed down the stairs. Then I realized that I was in a hotel, in Houston, and it was not the middle of the night but rather a very grey and wet day. I got up and read for a bit and turned on my laptop to upload some pictures. The wifi in the hotel is "screw you" expensive, so I paid for the one day pre-talk and refused to pay for a second. However, something had happened. When I opened my browser to check out my talk, I got a "there has been an error" message, and then free wifi. Maybe the authenticator got the zap and the failure mode is to break with free access for everyone, not no access for anyone. In any case, it blew a lot of my morning but the weather was terrible anyhow.

Turns out that a lot of downtown Houston is underground. I went out for two meals with Jenny, just sort of "let's walk around and see what we find" meals and we found... nothing. I know that conference centers are often in desolate empty parts of cities, but we seemed to be in the downtown core, at lunchtime, and there was still no one outside and no place to eat. All the ground level storefronts seemed weird and empty. Where I'm from, you only hide your retail areas because it's freezing, not because it's hot. Apparently in Houston, you bury them because it's hot. Once we found the elaborate interconnected maze of tunnels spanning most of downtown, by following nearly hidden signs, we found the mole people busily at lunch and had some tasty jambalaya.

Today is my day off. My host is at a daytime wedding and we're rendezvousing before dinner. The Hilton will hang on to all my bags, so I've been on my own with my laptop and a bag full of apples and soda. I got a $2 all day transit pass and headed for the museum district. I'm sitting in the MFAH cafeteria which has music just loud enough that you won't stay long. I've been to the Holocaust Museum and the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, both of which seemed to be having some big tours/events at the exact moment I was there. I stopped in at the MFAH library and a really nice library student who worked there took me on a tour around the basement and I found a Barthele essay I'd never read before as well as a Jessamyn West introduction to a book of cat photography. Sometimes I feel weird bugging the librarian with a "hey I'm a librarian too, let's make funny acronym-laden convertsation" but it went well this time and I may stop in for more book reading before the museum closes.
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