2009 Mar 14 | Bayou Bend, Hoobastank, parade

A free wine tasting I happened to notice as I was driving by. Actually, in a city this size, there are probably a ton of these going on. Since I hate almost every wine I try, I really should go to more of them to try to find ones I like.

Chili-flavored chocolate? Yuck.

Bayou Bend was part of the Azalia Trail in Houston. You could buy a ticket and walk around to a bunch of different homes in the area with azalias. I really just wanted to see the landscaping at Bayou Bend, though. Also, I read there is some museum there, but I never saw it.

The Butterfly Garden, which looks like a butterfly.

A view from the side of the house.

A couple of neat trees.

The back of the house.

The Euterpe Garden.

I've never understood why you're not supposed to take pictures inside museums and things (the only decent reason I've ever heard is so you'll buy their postcards instead), so I just ignore that rule.

A view of the Diana Garden from the house.

Some giant house nearby. And yet the kids are still playing with water guns just like any other kids. I wonder if the big house makes them any happier.

On Sunday was Holi, the Indian Festival of Colors. It was in Sugar Land at a park, but there were no signs that I could see that indicated the entrance of the park. This line of cars coming from seemingly the middle of nowhere was a pretty good indication of where it was, though.

A lot of people parked in a parking lot here and walked. When I got there, I found out there was a parking lot on the other side that was right by the site.

There were a lot of Indians. Only a few whites, blacks, Hispanics, etc, though. Houstonians don't seem to go to the festivals of other cultures nearly as much as people in other cities I've been to.

A large part of the festival is throwing colored powder on other people, often mixed with water. A lot of kids even run around with it in squirt guns. Some people only put a few bits of color on themselves here and there, whereas others smear it all over their faces and clothes (which is why you're supposed to wear a white shirt to the festival).

I generally hate mall food because it's so greasy, but I rather like Sbarro. They had a counter at the Empire Mall in Sioux Falls, and it was my favorite place to eat there, but for some reason it wasn't actually called Sbarro.

Sunday night I went to Hoobastank at the Meridian. Way up at the front they had barriers, but they were attached to these pieces on the floor. I was planning on jumping around a lot, so it made it a rather dangerous place because I didn't want to land half on and half off and injure something.

The Crisis, one of the warm-up bands.

And another warm-up band. I was rather disappointed that people weren't jumping around nearly as much as I had hoped. The singer even said the crowd was being too nice.

But at least when he told people to put their hands in the air they did.

Before Hoobastank came on, one of the roadies put these around on the stage. I think they were the list of songs, but nobody could quite get a good enough look at them to read anything.

Hoobastank. They were actually pretty good live.

Spending spring break in Houston let me get through my to-do lists that had been sitting around for months. One item was removing the EZ Tag sticker remains. I had tried just rubbing it off, but that wasn't working very well. I read online that you can use a razor and everyone recommended buying one from an office store designed just for that, but I decided that I could just make my own. Of course, while I was snapping the plastic off the razor, I kept telling myself over and over to be careful so I don't cut myself. Even so, I still somehow sliced my finger a bit. Sigh.

It was worth it, though, because the razor took the sticker off like a hot knife through butter. It's amazing how much easier having the right tool for a job makes it, especially after rubbing the dumb thing with alcohol for minutes.

When I was at the park, I noticed this come by and grab stuff off the lawn where the big tree stump has been since the hurricane. I thought they finally had gotten rid of it.

But it wasn't the case, even though they did grab a couple of cut sections. It appears they're just cutting a few sections, hauling those away, cutting a few more, etc. I don't know why they don't just cut it all up at once.

There's a stream by the park.

And it even has a few fish in it. Some of them like to sit right by the edge of the water on the stones, which seems different.

And these look just like worms, but they're actually decaying sticks.

A bunch of cups stuck in a fence that you can see from the road.

I went the movie Echelon Conspiracy just because I wanted to know what happened in the story. All the reviewers said it was horrible and none of the movie spoiler websites or Wikipedia had a description that explained what happened, so I actually had to sit through the whole movie just for that. I actually thought it was pretty entertaining, though.

I think my absolute favorite part of spring break is being able to listen to Fernando and Greg on Energy 92.7 from San Francisco online. They're so much funnier than any of the morning shows in Houston.

My current camera, a FujiFilm Z5, started acting up. It said there were problems with the card, that it couldn't store photos, and also the shutter button just would not work at all some times.

So I bought a new camera, a Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T700, which is supposed to be great. However, I don't like it at all. It's hard to open, takes a long time to actually take a picture in low light, and in all of the side-by-side comparisons I made between it and the Z5, the Z5 pictures actually turned out better, so I'm going to return it. So much for trusting online reviews. I did buy a refurbished one because there was no way I was going to pay full price for it, but usually refurbished items work just as well as the normal ones.

It's ruthless in our family. Monica called and actually woke me up at 6:35, and I didn't read this email until after that, even though it was sent at 5:54, so I think that really makes it more of a tie.

Mom, are you just trying to use up some old stamps or something?

Friday night we went to see Ralphie May, who was hilarious.

Saturday at noon was the St. Patrick's Day parade. It was 55 and rainy, though, so even though this was at the main stage only a few minutes before the parade, it was practically empty. People in Houston don't seem to go to things like this nearly as much as in other cities, though. In most places I've been the crowd would already be five rows deep.

And here we go.

You can't have a St. Patrick's Day parade without bagpipers.

Or without dancers.

The dancers in action.

When the parade had started it wasn't raining at all, but by now it was coming down pretty hard. Most of the people hid under umbrellas, but I respected the people who didn't bother. Or perhaps they forgot their umbrellas at home.

A marching drill team. There were a few entries like this that weren't really Irish, but they were still fun.

Some old guys with old guns.

An old ship.

One of the floats was handing out frisbees, and the guy on the right put his to good use. Some of the floats were handing out green beads, too (and most of the people in the crowd were already wearing green beads), and the announcers asked if they do that back in Ireland, too.

A bunch of DeLorean owners. Um, OK.

The queens float.

These two guys were the announcers, and they were pretty funny.

A weird wooden car with lots of pieces that move.

A dragon float.

The brides of March.

And, um, I don't know.

Ooh, it's the pterodactyl truck I saw earlier. Then again, it doesn't really belong in an Irish parade, either.

Greyounds and Irish Wolfhounds.

Some more dancers.

A Miata with eyeballs on it's headlights.

I really liked this band. Even though they weren't Irish, they were really dancing/moving a lot. The percussionists were especially getting into it.

I'm so used to watching gay pride parades that it took me a while to figure out why this float had a rainbow on it.

Falun Dafa. Another group that wasn't Irish, but like the announcer said, every could use a little more truth, compassion, and tolerance in their lives.

A cute bug with a cute little girl sticking out of the top.

A float with a giant leprechaun.

More bagpipers.

And the street sweepers at the end.

There was an after party at Discovery Green, but the rain was still coming down and my hands were cold, so I headed home. It's a pretty neat park, though, so I'll have to come back some day when it's not freezing and raining.