Thursday, March 20, 2008

Yet Another Re-Run...

Gentle Reader Ashley has been exploring my archives and kindly sent me a note about broken images in several of my old posts. I've fixed a few, but I still have a lot of serious work ahead of me.

A few years back I got really, really tired of Blogger's photo handling capabilities and opened up a free account at, a very low-rent photo hosting site. Well, it seems like my account at has expired (and I can't find my old log-on ID or password)... and the images I posted there have gone missing. And lots of 'em, too. As I said: a LOT of work ahead of me.

Now...about that re-run. Since I went to the trouble of fixing this post, I figured I'd put it up again. The subject matter isn't time-critical at all, and the photos are somewhat interesting... to me, anyway. YMMV, as always. So. Without further ado, I give you...

My Back Pages

I’m experiencing more network “issues” this morning; my connection speed is about half of what one expects from a dial-up connection. So, I’m going to put up a text-only post this morning and add photos later on today when my network gets back up to speed. Literally.
The following post is from this blog’s predecessor, The Trailer Trash Report, an e-mail newsletter I wrote and sent to friends from 1999 – 2000. This particular entry is about Houston’s Museum of Fine Art and a war story about government bureaucracy. Photos will be added later.
April 8, 2000
The local media is all agog at Enron Field, the Houston Astros' brand-new, state-of-the-art, sliding-roof ballpark. Although the Astros played three exhibition games in the new park last week, tonight's the regular season home opener and is supposedly the hottest ticket in town this week. A night out at the ball park costs a family of four well over $70.00 (I had the exact number, but threw the flipping paper out this morning...). For less than $20.00 a family of four can spend ALL DAY wandering through the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Click here: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston). OK, it ain't baseball. There are people that would rather watch paint dry than go to a museum, and there's not a few folks that would rather do the paint thing than go to a baseball game, too. I'm gonna weasel out and claim I like both. I'm definitely partial to museums over baseball, though...I've seen a helluva lot more museums than major league baseball games.
I spent six hours in Houston's world-class fine arts museum Friday. I'm impressed. The MFAH is the nation's sixth largest art museum and has a very large and diverse collection...well over 40,000 works of art representing a multitude of cultures, geographies, and periods. The collections are divided into Ancient and European art; American painting, sculpture and decorative arts; African art; Asian art; Pre-Columbian art; Native American art; Oceanic art, 20th century art; and photography, film, and video. The museum also has a large sculpture garden and collections of furniture, textiles, and costumes. Something for everyone, in other words!! The MFAH celebrates its centennial this year and it opened a new building last month. The Impressionist and Post-Impressionist collections are great. All the major impressionist artists are represented, and there are multiple works from Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, and Manet. (Unfortunately, photography was prohibited in the major impressionist exhibit. I didn't quite understand the photography restrictions in some of the galleries...most were open to picture taking, provided you could disable your flash.)
Renaissance Gallery
Impressionist Gallery

Stone Circles

Giant Soft Fan
I went for the Impressionist galleries, but I was seriously blown away by the contemporary stuff! The contemporary galleries are physically very large open, and airy. The contemporary galleries need these qualities, given the scale of the works on display. I spent quite a bit of time in these galleries, and once again, I was impressed. I hope the attached photos illustrate my point adequately. My absolute favorite contemporary work was a "light sculpture" commissioned for an underground passageway between the two main museum buildings. This is art that makes you grin, makes you say "Wow!" right out loud when you walk into it. From the MFAH guidebook: "The work turns the walls of the tunnel into vessels for conducting light. The walk between the Beck and Law buildings becomes an exploration of color and space." The colors change every three minutes or so...from red, to purple, to blue, and so was a very popular place! The artist is James Turrell.
Purple Tube
The Artist Formerly Known as Buck
OK, enough culture. Time for "Bureaucracy In Action!!" This is a horror story. A week ago this past Tuesday I initiated the process of getting my Texas motorcycle license. I went to the local motor vehicles department (local in the sense it's the closest one to me, nine miles away), which is known in Texas as the Department of Public Safety, Drivers License. A DMV by any other name is still a there I the DPS, in line for about 15 minutes. I get to the head of the line, explain why I'm there, and am told I have to take both a written and driving test to get my license. OK, I can do that. I'm given a choice of taking the written test on computer or on paper. I opt for the computer, take the test at a terminal, am done in six minutes and get back in line to get my results. Six or seven minutes later, I'm told I aced it (it wasn't that tough). The clerk asks me if I'd like to take the road test or take a motorcycle safety course first. This is a real no-brainer for someone who's ridden off and on for over 35 years, I opt for the road test. "The next available appointment is Tuesday, April 4th at 1:36 p.m." the clerk sez. I said "Hunh?" (Today is 3/28, remember.) She sez "April 4th, 1:36." "That's the earliest you have?" "Yep." "OK, I'll take it." Then she tells me I have to bring a car and a driver for the examiner. My jaw drops, panic sets in. I don't KNOW anybody here, let alone anyone I can ask to waste an hour or so in the middle of the day to follow me around with a public servant in their car while I take a road test! I try to explain. The clerk is less than interested in my personal problems. "That's our process, sir." This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. When I took riding tests in CA, OK, and MI, they were held in parking lots, on a cone-course. That works, and it's easy for all concerned. Furnish a car and driver? Ohmigod... I withdraw, thinking I have a week to work this out.
To make a long story somewhat shorter, my neighbors in the RV park agree to follow me down to the DPS and follow me around during the test, after much laughter and incredulity on their part (they're a retired couple from North Dakota, and nice folks). At 1:36 p.m. on April 4th, Artis (my neighbor) and her son Mike are there at the DPS in their Ford, and I'm on my bike. The examiner does a safety check on my bike, drills me on the bike's controls, verifies my insurance, then goes back to Artis and asks for her license and proof of insurance. Artis can't find her insurance card. Oops...the test is over! No proof of insurance for the "follow-car," no test. I have to reschedule. I go back inside and get in line. Artis leaves, profoundly embarrassed. The next available appointment is a week from today. That's unacceptable, I neighbors are leaving town Thursday. The clerk says "Well, you can come in at 6:30 tomorrow morning and take the first available cancellation, there's always cancellations." I ask why she can't assign me a time for tomorrow RIGHT NOW if there's always cancellations. "That's not our process, sir." {sigh} I withdraw, again.
Wednesday morning I arrive at the DPS at 0630 and am shocked to see I'm 43rd in line (I counted). The doors open at 0700. Me and the 42 people in front of me (and the horde behind me, too) are herded into a line at Window 9 (Reschedules). By 0750 I get to the head of the line and I'm offered an 0900 test. I nearly fall over from shock, but I take it. I phone Artis, who says "no problem, I'll be there at nine...see ya then." Just after 0900 the bike and I are in line for the test, talking to my examiner when another examiner walks up and asks "How big is that bike?" "225 cc," sez I. "Hmmm..." she sez. "I don't think you need a Class M license for anything under 250cc." My examiner asks her "Are you sure?" "No," she sez, "I was just pulling your chain." I heave a sigh of relief. We go through the same drill as yesterday, and motor on off for the test. One beep from Artis, I turn right. Two beeps, left. Three beeps, stop. We go through a residential neighborhood for about a six minute ride, beeping all the way, then we get on a four lane boulevard and return to the DPS. I ace the test. The examiner and I shake hands, I go inside to complete the paper work and pay the fee. When I get to the head of the line, my examiner and a supervisor come over. They tell the clerk to cancel the transaction. I say "WHAT???" "We can't give you a Class M license because your bike is only 225cc," the supervisor sez. "You don't need a Class M license for bikes under 250cc. We checked the book." "WAIT!" I say..."This may not be the only bike I'll ever ride, I aced all your tests, I went through Hell to get here, and I WANT MY LICENSE!!" "Sorry, you'd have to take the test on a bike that's 250cc or larger...your bike is too small to qualify for a valid test." I see the handwriting on the wall. I withdraw, again, beaten, seriously demoralized, and thoroughly disgusted. It's only 10:30 a.m., far too early to hit the bar. Sometimes it's easy to understand why some people snap...and why DPS supervisors wear pistols (They're uniformed officers, actually.). Oh, well...
Random Notes: Free concert in downtown Jones Plaza Thursday night, Warren Zevon...acoustic and solo (remember "Werewolves of London?" That's Warren.). The opening act is "Drop-Kicked Chihuahuas" (no kidding...they have a web site, too...just add "dot com" ed note 2006: may or may not still be there, didn’t check). Warren plays all the hits, the opening band does a kick-ass show, and it's all free, sponsored by Budweiser. Cheap (inexpensive) beer. I love this place. "Thank You, My Dear, You Made My Day" Dept: "You're an artist, aren't you?" says the woman who took my picture in the light tunnel today, as she hands my camera back. Must have been the low light, or else I really DO look like a derelict lately. We go for coffee and chat...confirming the fact I'm NOT an artist... "Imagine That!" Dept: The MFAH has an EXCELLENT cafe, with good food, an expresso bar, a beer/wine bar, and reasonable prices. (Get the idea I like this place, yet?) "For What It's Worth, and It Ain't Worth Much" Dept: Rain makes a helluva racket in an RV. Hail is much worse. Thunderstorms are scary in a tornado magnet, there's nowhere to go if a funnel cloud bears down on ya...
I may be back later. I'm upside down again, time-wise. Up all night, sleep half the day. I do it because I can, Gentle Reader.


  1. Oh, how I miss Warron Zevon.

    His last album, "The Wind," broke my heart in fourteen places, especially his cover of "Knockin' On Heaven's Door"... funny how someone whose main claim to fame is as a singer/songwriter can take a somebody else's song and just smack it out of the ballpark. Of course, he was relating to the subject matter pretty strongly at the time.

  2. I love art museums. I think I need to visit Houston's Museum of Fine Art.

    I am surprised there were not causalities in your DMV incident. I think there would have been if it happened to me. I kept thinking so you went through all of this for nothing!

  3. I love the re-runs. Last April I spent a wonderful day at the HF AM while Toby was in a meeting. I wouldn't mind doing that again.

    I think they train DMV workers to be seriously rude, hard-a$$es. Okie's are a bit better because the Tag Agencies are separate from the testers.

  4. I'd have picked baseball over the museum anyday! LOL!

    That SUX about the motorcycle license! Sounds just like a DMV though, doesn't it? I try not to use the one in P-ville unless I have to. There is a bank in Melrose that actually has a DMV desk in it and I try to do what I can up there. MUCH less hassle (though I do get along with the gals in the P-ville one, even the really mean one. Back from my title clerk days at the dealership).

  5. Good luck on the reconstruction project. Nice shots in the museum.

    Happy Easter this weekend, Buck!

  6. Barry sez: Oh, how I miss Warron Zevon.

    You and me both, Barry. I think it's a shame he's not known better than he is... I discovered him in 1977, and his "Carmelita" is the only song I've ever performed in public. Well, if you exclude a late-night drunken rendition of "Werewolves" in that same time period. Occasional Reader Lori just might remember that night... ;-)

    Ashley sez: I am surprised there were not causalities in your DMV incident.

    There might have been, if not for the fact those idjits are armed. Just as an aside: I never did get my mo'sickle endorsement. I'm illegal when on the bike.

    Lou sez: Last April I spent a wonderful day at the HF AM while Toby was in a meeting.

    That was when the traveling Impressionist exhibition from La France was in Houston, right? I'm still kicking myself for not going to that...

    Jenny sez: I'd have picked baseball over the museum anyday! LOL!

    Philistine! ;-)

    I've heard some bad things about the P-Ville DMV, some of which came from SN1.

    Jim sez: Happy Easter this weekend, Buck!

    Thanks... And the same to you and yours, Jim!!


Just be polite... that's all I ask.