Greetings from Texas! Most of you probably don’t even know that I’m here, but I went to Texas this weekend for my sister’s graduation. Sorry if I didn’t get a chance to call you who are in Houston, but it’s been a bit too busy for that. I did get to see Sam, the latest member of the J Bulletin Board, though. You people don’t know him, but he should be welcomed with open arms.

Anyway, I love visiting home. Emphasis on visiting. I don’t know, for some reason, it just makes me think about a lot of stuff. Lots of random stuff on my mind. This entry’s just kind of about how Texas and California are different.

First of all, about that entry Eric wrote about trying to conserve energy in Houston. That was absolutely hilarious to me. It’s just funny because it’s California thinking, and that has no place in Houston. I can just imagine him futilely trying to keep his apartment cool. If you’ve ever been to Houston in the non-winter, you know how ridiculous that is. I have no idea how people here lived without air conditioning, but it’s a serious necessity. The California strategies for keeping places cool (airing it out, keeping blinds closed) is just ludicrous here.

My parents, to save on cooling costs, keep the A/C at 85 degrees at night. That’s right, it gets hotter than 85 degrees, so that’s a compromise. Other strategies that work in California but not here is opening the windows, or the vents in the car, to cool.

Anyway, the heat is always a shock at first. I’ve been to some places in my life, like Portugal, Florida, Arizona and New Mexico, and the East Coast during summer, and seriously, Houston is the worst. I’m not saying there aren’t worse places, it’s just I haven’t been there.

The other thing about home is I watch way more TV at home than in Palo Alto. I know you’re wondering how I can say I was too busy and at the same time say I watched TV, but somehow that happened. Anyway, the cool thing is, I heard 2 songs from DDR 2nd Remix! One was Kung-Fu fighting, which was on that Chris Farley movie, I think it’s called Beverly Hills Ninja. The other was played during a commercial for Snackwells. I forgot the name of the song, but it has this one rhythm- da dat… da dat… dat. At any rate, I thought that was cool.

I’m really glad I went to a private school. I don’t know, graduation just seemed kind of impersonal and above all, large. It just took forever just to read names. It’s the same thing at Cal graduations. Just absurd. My department was a little different, but to me it was cool that there were just 20 something people graduating, and that instead of just calling names, they said something a bit personal about each person.

Anyway, when you’re in Texas they don’t let you forget that you’re in Texas. At the end of every graduation (like Cal, they divide it into departments, and like Cal, the divisions aren’t fine grained enough to keep it manageable) someone leads everyone in a singing of The Eyes of Texas. I’ve posted the lyrics before, but it’s bizarre enough and creepy enough to warrant a reposting:

The Eyes of Texas (sung to the tune of I’ve Been Working on the Railroad)

The eyes of Texas are upon you
All the livelong day
The eyes of Texas are upon you
You cannot get away

Do not think you can escape them
At night or early in the morn
The eyes of Texas are upon you
Till Gabriel blows his horn

I’m sorry, but that’s just absolutely absurd. I was suggesting to my sister that they sing the song in minor – then it would match the lyrics even better. The most absurd thing about it is, as they sing this song, all the graduates and many members of the audience, young and old, raise their arms and make the longhorn symbol with their hands (it looks just like the symbol they make at Metallica concerts) and pump along to the beat. Ah Texas.

Another thing about Texas is that it’s blissfully free of the billboard takeover of the Bay Area. Here, you still see your good share of vasectomy reversal ads and DNA paternity testing ads. I dare say more of these than billboards. Ah Texas.

There are other differences also. I had brisket for dinner today. Seriously, California has no idea what barbecue is. I mean, to some Californians (at least to me before my family went to Texas), barbecue means cooking anything on the grill. So sad. Without question, one of the best things about Texas is barbecue. There’s a reason why decent barbecue places (e.g. Austin’s or Armadillo Willy’s) advertise as being Texas style. It’s good stuff.

Another thing is the insects. I know everyone says how where they come from, the (fill in the blank) is the worst anywhere. I’m not saying that, but the insects in Houston are someting else. Me and my sister were watching this movie, and while we watched this cockroach crawled all over the floor, walls, and ceiling. It was about 2 1/2 inches big. Not gigantic, but not a slouch, either.

So my family doesn’t kill it because killing cockroaches apparently required more than just swatting or stepping. Thinking stomping, or jumping. So we just wait for them to die, which they eventually do, by crawling to the center of the room and flipping over. My sister says the only way to not have cockroaches is to regularly fumigate.

The other interesting thing was learning about the fellowships at UT. I don’t know, I haven’t been to many campuses, but it fascinates me learning about how fellowships are run at different campuses. They all have their unique problems and ways of doing things, and that’s just really interesting to me.

I guess that wasn’t interesting at all. Oh well. There have been some more interesting things going on in my mind, but this slow connection is frustrating me, so I’ll save it for next time.

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