Picture - Then we moved on to Moody Gardens in Galveston before leaving Houston. Like most of the Houston museums, Moody Gardens seems to cater mostly to children, but the Aquarium and Rainforest Pyramids we visited were pretty good for everyone. The aquarium was small, but very well presented - if you have the time the best way to do Moody Gardens is to get the 2-day pass and visit the pyramids multiple times.
Picture - We were able to look for and find most of the birds on the identification sheet we were given as we walked through the Rainforest exhibit. It was nice, they were used to all the people and very friendly. You can see the Sunbittern in this photo following us around.
Wednesday, 30th of May, 2007
Next we went to the Railroad Museum. They didn't have the rows and rows of old cars and locomotives like the St. Louis Museum of Transportation, but what they did have was very well presented. There were a couple of model train layouts definitely worth seeing too.
The Railroad Museum sits right at the end of a street called The Strand, which has some interesting little shops and places to eat. We didn't eat a proper meal though - we enjoyed the old fashioned soda fountain on The Strand, and split a big Banana Split.
Afterwards we decided to postpone visiting Moody Gardens until tomorrow, and went to another mansion open to the public - Bishop's Palace. Visiting both of those places reminded me of features that I have seen in nice houses from that era in St. Louis too, and I still wonder why it seems like we have moved backwards in the way we furnish nice houses now, versus 100 years ago. Doors that slide into the wall are so practical and neat - and probably the only way to manage a 12-foot-tall doorway.
Tuesday, 29th of May, 2007
Then we went south to the Houston Hobby airport and visited the "1940 Air Terminal". The museum is just getting off the ground with restoring the old air terminal. It's pretty close to the runways and taxiways, and they let you borrow a radio scanner so you can sit out by the taxiways and listen to traffic control direct flights in and out of the airport - that's pretty cool.
We planned to finish off the day at the Downtown Aquarium. The best way to explain the Downtown Aquarium is they took the idea of the Rainforst Cafe, applied the aquarium theme to it, and made it big. In addition to the small aquarium, they had a huge restaurant and banquet center where you can eat surrounded by fish in large tanks. Outside, they have fun for children, like a ferris wheel and little rides - great for kids' birthday parties.
Picture - The Aquarium wasn't that interesting to us, so we just looked around and then decided to walk around that theatre district downtown a little before checking in to the hotel. We snapped this photo in front of the JP Morgan building.
Saturday, 25th of May, 2007
Friday, 25th of May, 2007
Thursday, 24th of May, 2007
Wednesday, 23rd of May, 2007
Tonight I wrapped up my shopping list for the week by stopping at the ritzy supermarket chain here in Minneapolis - Lund's - for some wild rice. For dinner I tried some bar food at a place called Mancini's - the shrimp and garlic bread was actually extremely good. There was live music, but not a whole lot of patrons which felt a little strange at first but I got used to it and it was nice.
Tuesday, 22nd of May, 2007
Usually on these business trips, once all the commerce has shut down for the evening I head back to the hotel and fall asleep to the Discovery Channel. It's hard to resist an episode of Mythbusters, Cash Cab, or Extreme Stunts. They finally figured out we weren't supposed to get that channel at home, so I may as well indulge while I'm on the road. I'm not one that likes to watch commercials, but Cingular has put out one promoting text messaging that is one of my favourite commercials ever.
Monday, 21st of May, 2007
Very little has changed on this 2006 model versus the one I rented back in 2005. They resolved one of my complaints - the rear hatch has a handle to open it mechanically now - that's basic and should have been there all along. The rest of the quirks are still there - the brake and accelerator heights are awkward, and the A/C has to be turned on every time you get in the car instead of remembering what it was set to when you shut the car off. But the rear seatings being adjustable fore-and-aft and recline angle gives the rear passengers a rare dose of luxury.
The Country Inn that I was staying at was nice enough to let me check in early this morning so I could get a shower in before going to work - I wasn't about to wake Mairin up at 5:15AM on the way out of Dallas with my shower...
If you take a minute to think about what Norton Antivirus does to your computer - automatically deleting files based on an evolving definition of what is a virus - you can imagine how quickly things can go wrong if you get a false positive. While standard installations of Windows are probably sent through rigorous testing before definitions go live, you can't test for everything. Today it happened - Norton AV started deleting critical files of installations of the Simplified Chinese version of Windows XP, causing blue-screens on startup. Oops.
Sunday, 20th of May, 2007
The Washington Post both explains the methodology and lists the schools. Because it is based solely on this relatively small indicator, I would say that these rankings are a good rough estimate, and one should not fret about the difference between a school ranked at 200 versus 300, for example. There are so many other factors involved in the quality of a school that could push any school on this list up or down in an overall sense of how good the school is. In fact, it's completely possible that some schools on this list are trash, but they shine in this one statistic. However, the inverse is unlikely - I would say any good high school school in the country has to be on this list somewhere.
My own high school had a high ranking again this year - 2nd in the state. You can also tell here that there are some states that have good education systems, and some states that have a very poor or nonexistent showing on this list.
Monday, 14th of May, 2007
This mirrors an interesting behaviour that I have found myself getting into over the last 2 years - I prefer to go to Circuit City to buy computer equipment, and I prefer to go to Land's End online to buy clothing. Computer equipment has gotten so cheap that the price difference has become insignificant compared to the convenience of instant gratification when going to the store. On the other hand, I can't find the kind of custom good-quality clothing that Land's End provides in a store anywhere in town.
Saturday, 5th of May, 2007
I should be ashamed but I will admit my favourite of the evening was "My Heart Will Go On" - yes, from Titanic - I've been a sucker for that ever since I heard it for the first few times on my first tour to Europe. The encore was pretty amusing too - a nice chorus of "Sing a Song", from Sesame Street.
The drive up to Jacksonville is a great one too, especially if you're not in a hurry. US67 makes no bypass of the little tows along the way - the typical old midwest town with a courthouse, town square, old churches, and 100+ year-old buildings. Then you get a nice stretch of straight, flat, limited-access US67 right before Jacksonville - which is a huge contrast.