Wednesday, November 26

Vigilante parking enforcement

Three days, four voicemails and over 20 unanswered phone calls later, at 7:30 this morning I finally got through to the man who held my parking fate in his hands.

He generously gave me the benefit of the doubt and waived the fee without any ado, for which I am very grateful. He reduced the citation to a "warning" for Mark. (?!)

How did this happen in the first place, you may ask? Apparently someone reported to the parking office that Mark had wantonly deposited the car in visitor parking. And this anonymous tip was given more consideration than my paragraph-long appeal, submitted immediately after receiving the citation (evidence enough that I was the one there, no?)

How to prevent this in the future? Mmm...can't really guarantee that it won't happen again.

Seriously? Seriously. Apparently there are ambitious parking vigilantes watching the visitor lot like hawks just waiting for some imprudent student or employee to park there. And apparently they know each student and employee by sight. And they know which car belongs to which individual. And even if the student/employee isn't actually to be seen anywhere near the car, they just know. And they care so much that they call it in, for justice must be served.


I don't buy this load of you-know-what, but whatever.

And though the generous captain with whom I spoke this morning was most gracious--for which I am very grateful--and he gave me exactly what I wanted without even arguing, I still think the parking office is ridiculous. Love the individual, despise the entity.

UTHSCSA parkers beware!

Friday, November 21

This ain't over

It's one thing for a campus parking office to make up rules--asinine as they may be--and then punish you when you don't follow them. After all, that's their job. You can whine about that until the cows come home, but you can't say you weren't warned.

It is totally different to ticket a visitor parked legitimately in visitor parking and give no more reason than "4006 - PARKED WHERE PROHIBITED" and then a month later reject the citation appeal with no more explanation than "DENIED. Pay by Dec 1."

Maybe the parking office should consider a new slogan for 2009:

Thursday, November 13

Soul Music

People, I like a good deal. And boy oh boy did I score one this week. Get this: Mat Kearney's Nothing Left to Lose album was only $8.00 on iTunes for 15 songs. Fifteen AWESOME songs. Every. Single. Song. Rocks. When was the last time you loved an ENTIRE album? Without even skipping one song? And there were 15 songs?! That's like, almost 50 cents a song. And if you were to do the math on

$8.00 ÷ innumerable number of hours of exhilarating music enjoyment = pennies per hour

And that price is shrinking by the day, as I've listened to almost nothing else since Monday and don't foresee my audio entertainment selection changing any time soon.

This guy...this guy is like Coldplay meets Counting Crows meets John Mayer meets Jason Mraz meets nice rap...or something. He's got depth. He's got rhythm. He's got lyrics. He's got guitar. He's got piano. He's got soul-stirring swells. He's got crank-up-the-volume-roll-down-the-windows-I-feel-like-I'm-17-again. And he's got FIFTEEN of these! For cheap! It doesn't get any better than this.

Monday, November 10

Travelblogue: The Best Part

I invariably get asked what my favorite part was about visiting Italy. (At least I used to get asked that, like 4 months ago, when this topic was still timely.)

And this is invariably my answer:

I liked hanging out with this guy, too:
(Mostly to look at his beard, and see his sweet frisbee moves.)

But Alaina takes the Dani's-favorite-part-of-Italy-ever prize. Some days I just couldn't wait for her to come home from school so we could play. I love this girl so much my heart might explode.

And I'll just top it all off with my two favorite pictures of the trip, in descending order:

Wednesday, November 5

Travelblogue: The Italian Experience

I took about 20 pictures of this guy (who was talking animatedly to someone just to the left of the picture) by pretending to shoot St. Peter's Basilica in the background. Hoping to get a picturesque shot, I was going crazy on my cheap little camera as if someone were calling on the side, "Work it, nonno, I love it!" When he finally got up to leave I looked over and there were about 10 tourists waiting to pass by, politely not wanting to impose on my picture. Sheepishly I told them to go right ahead.

This guy redefined "street performer." I guess you had to be there, but if they gave Grammys/Emmys/Tonys/Oscars/Whatevers to Street Performers, he'd sweep in all categories: best costume, best posture, best jawline, best robot (statue?)-like movements, best staying in character, best keeping still between payments, best kiss on the cheek, and best overall entertainment value for a few cents.

Seemingly effortless beauty is EVERYWHERE (naturally I'm referring to me here, not this bench's breathtaking flowering canopy in the middle of nowhereville at a horse boarding stable/riding school)

My fondest Italian wish was to ride a cruiser bike around an Italian town; nothing could be more authentic. This was no secret to the family traveling party, and only time constraints, tired siblings, and financial considerations prevented us from renting bikes in Verona. I knew that our beach trip to touristy Rimini was probably my last chance at finding a rental shop, so I had mapped out a few places where I hoped to be able to rent a picturesque two-wheeled conveyance. Imagine my elation when upon check-in our hostel host indicated there were bikes out back to be borrowed first-come-first-ser­ve by hip, youthful Europhiles like ourselves FOR FREE. It was early to bed and early to rise that night, and despite unrestful sleep (we left the balcony door open on account of lodging on the third floor with no AC, so the train down the block might as well have been rumbling right past our feet all night, and 1:00 a.m. screeching from our backpacking hostelmates had a sleep-piercing effect)—so despite unrestful sleep we were the first (and only) in line to select our vehicles for the next day. The only functioning cruiser bike provided me a more genuine Italian ride than any rental shop could have offered: a wire basket, no gears, both tires slightly flat, one working brake, and every inch of it rusted completely through. So Mark and I went for an early morning cruise around Rimini, dodging cars and bipeds alike, stopping only for the open market, a downtown corner flautist, and the beach. With my family’s (air conditioned) hotel a good 20-minute walk from our hostel, and my dad gone with the car for most of the day, the cycling gods could not have selected a better day to bestow upon us such delightful and affordable transportation.

Speaking of sweet rides, the hour Mark, Alaina, and I spent on this beauty is a top contender for THE Italy Highlight Experience. Mark was in his element as our Rimini quadracycle chauffeur, racing down the streets and sidewalks of the town, careening past innocent beach goers with reckless abandon, and developing an exact science for how to ring the “here we come” bicycle bell (long ring from far away to announce our presence, two short rings from a moderate distance to say “excuse us,” and incessant ringing for “stay put at your own risk!”). A gaggle of Italian nonnas (grannies) walking four abreast along the boardwalk were the recipients of this latter bell call, and one had some choice words for us when they finally noticed us and stepped aside to let us pass. What those choice words were, I don’t know; whether they were a sanction or censure was beyond my limited Italian, so we just smiled and said “Grazie” as we sped away.