>Stranger in a Strange Land

>Woke up this morning feeling much, much better than I have for several days, thanks for asking. Plus it was sunny and warm out, though the weather reports on the local NPR station were describing it as “continued cool throughout the day, with highs of only 65 degrees, so make sure and bring a jacket!” Only 65 degrees? Bring a jacket?! And Texans think they are tough?! I guess “Don’t Mess With Texas” leaves off the second lines that reads, “Or We’ll Cry All Over Ourselves!” Damn, I love a good jolt of feeling superior to everyone around me before 9 AM. That, and the warm sun felt sooooooo good!

So I get to the customer site and the weirdness set in in a hurry. I meet my contact, he takes me to the conference room where we will discuss stuff, do some training, blah blah blah. When we enter the conference room, there is a guy in there doing some online computer training thing. I note he has a tshirt on that says something to the effect of “Words to live by: John 3:16” or whatever that reference is. I chuckle a little in my brain, and somewhere in my imagination I hop nude over a fire while flashing the guy my middle finger — you know, the usual childish methods I use to amuse myself while at customer sites. The training guy gets up and leaves, and the guy I am with also leaves to go get a couple more people. Looking around, there is a little side table with some refreshments . . . and a stack of books. Dig this:

That’s right, people, bibles. I thought to myself, “Hmmm, that’s kinda weird.” Later, as we are out and about in their manufacturing plant, I see these little signs on the break room door, over the time clock, by a coffee machine in the warehouse, etc. that say, “Bible Study Every Monday, 4 PM, Conf. Room #2.” I never got a chance to sneak a photo of one of them, but trust me, they were there. Then, while heading to lunch, I was looking at the cars in the parking lot, and of the 15 – 20 I saw, I counted at least 7 that had some kind of Jesus thing on them, whether it was a bumper sticker, one of those little fish thing, etc. 2 of them also had Huckabee for President stickers on them. I shit you not.

Is it just me, or is this weird? I think it is downright creepy. Maybe it is just because that vibe is so different from Missoula, which is the total opposite of that whole hardcore Christian thing. It’s bad enough I have to fly in and out of George Bush International Airport, but Jesus H, this was ridiculous. Texas is freakin’ weird. I should point out that all the people I dealt with today were very nice, though.

The area I am staying in looks like so many other places. Check this out:

That’s about half a mile from where I’m staying, one of various stretches of big box hell. That is what I hate the most about the landscape of sprawl; besides the economic horseshit brought on by big box stores, the way they homogenize the country is just awful. If not for this little Twilight Zone Christian weirdness, there would be nothing about the trip so far to make it different from another trip to the Midwest. Office Supply/PetSmart/Pier 1/whatever stores? Check. Morbidly obese inbred looking locals? Check. Here’s the view out my window; the palm trees are something a little different, but from here I can see a Burlington Coat Factory, a Jack in the Box, and a Sports Authority (though the picture doesn’t show all those places):

At least Jack in the Box has one advantage: greasy, delicious tacos that I am not too health-conscious to fail to resist once in a while. Like last night.

What I found sad during lunch is the people I was with were talking mostly about places to eat in their neighborhoods, and all the discussion revolved around various chains. Boston Market, Applebee’s, Longhorn Steak House, etc. What about local joints? I don’t think they exist out here in sprawlville. What a sad state of affairs.

Friggin’ Texas. Friggin’ America, for that matter. Maybe I’m just cranky because of the book I just wrapped up on this trip, Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You with the Bill). I recommended it to my mom because I heard the author on NPR and it seemed very interesting. So she bought it, read it, and loaned it to me. And now I’m pissed off. And I can’t even blame her, because it’s really kind of my fault in the first place for ever mentioning it!

One plus is that I wrapped up this project in one day, but I’m here through tomorrow and the only earlier flight merely gets me to Minneapolis for a 4-hour layover so I can get home as late as initially planned, so screw it, I’m going to stay here where it is supposed to be 70+ tomorrow and soak up some sun and hopefully see something cool. How was that for a run-on sentence?

In closing, I need to look in one of my writing books when I get home and figure out the proper use of hyphens. I never know when I should use them, though I’m quite certain I’m getting them all wrong most the time. It’s making me angry. There was a two paragraph (two-paragraph?) stretch in my reading today that had several, but also didn’t have them in places where I thought they should be. Not that I care so much in this stupid blog, but in writing I do that is more “serious” (which hasn’t been happening as often lately as it needs to) I don’t want to screw it up.

6 thoughts on “>Stranger in a Strange Land”

  1. >Strangely enough, I’m more confident using semi-colons than hyphens. (Although, look! There’s a hyphen.) I tend to eyeball my writing as I go along. If anything doesn’t look right, I check one of the many grammar and style websites out there just to be sure.So, you didn’t tell us–did you find your Wild Bill Hickok jacket in the Burlington Coat Factory?

  2. >I agree that the “Wal Mart-ization” of America is sad. I just finished reading Johnny Cash’s autobiography and his description of the wide open spaces of his youth are unreal. But you have a lot of wide open space in Montana. All it needs a few more Starbucks! PS – Texas blows.

  3. >I’m really not too impressed with Texas, at least the parts I’ve been in, either. As for Starbucks, I can think of at least three in Missoula. I don’t partake, so there may be more, I don’t know. But yeah, there are plenty of places here still to get lost in.

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