Monthly Archive for November, 2010

Drive to Thanksgiving

For Thanksgiving, we went to Monica’s family who live near Tahlequah. The food is phenomenal and the people are lovely. I like the drive there because the last leg of the trip, from Tahlequah to their house, is a road so twisty that it always makes me feel like I’m a driver in a car commercial. It’s a stretch of road on Oklahoma State Highway 100 and 82 starting from junction at U.S. Route 62, heading south for about 21 miles. The road continues further, but we only travel the first 21 miles of it.

This time, we drove through freezing rain, which made the trip feel significantly more dangerous. My car displayed an outside temperature between 34 and 33 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 C and 0.5 C). Most of the time, the rain was liquid, but every now and then, a few frozen crystals fell between the liquid droplets. This stretch of the trip took 24 minutes, with a maximum elevation of 989 feet and a minimum elevation of 649 feet (301.4m and 197.8m, respectively). My ears popped a few times. I drove the that entire stretch in manual shifting mode. I’ve never shifted gears on any stretch of road, or even have needed to shift as much, as much as I did on this road. It was fun.


View 2010 Thanksgiving hi-way 82 and 100 in a larger map

On the way home, we took a route that was previously untraveled by us but was suggested by the GPS, as well as, Google Maps in the past. The fact that the maps were completely accurate, as well as, the navigation AI logic was sound, gave me much more trust into my GPS unit. The route home took us through a long part of I-40, which has much construction prior to getting onto the Muskogee Turnpike, which also had some construction. If I knew about the construction, I probably would have chosen to return the same way we came, through Tahlequah. This was yet another reminder of just how neglectful I’ve been of doing my homework prior to trips. It’s something that I can do while I’m at work. I can check the Oklahoma Department of Transportation for all construction and check my gas card’s website for all the gas stations on any possible route. I really must raise the priority on completing this research before any trip outside of my metro area. With all the stimulus money spend on roads, the construction situation changes faster than word of mouth travels in my circles regarding this topic.

The Last Day in Dallas and the Drive Home

We woke up around 8:30, showered, and ate breakfast. We continued our great conversations, this time about art and socio-political matters. I showed my friend how to extra audio off CDs by using Exact Audio Copy, a software I highly recommend for this task. I shared with some music of Massive Attack’s Heligoland as we extracted music from a CD of his choice, which was an Arabic artist. This CD looked somewhat bootleg, but I’ve traveled enough to know that sometimes, even that type of quality is actually legitimate. The music might be used in a soundtrack to one a film my friend is working on, and I might remix this music. I also suggested that my friend download a demo of Ableton Live Intro just for him to acquaint with mashing music together.

On the way out of town at 13:21, we first stopped by the workplace of the wife of our friend because she had to go into work early that morning. (She also retired early the previous night for this reason). We got to see where she works, and said our good-byes while exploring possible dates for our subsequent visit.

For this drive home, we took a route that I have never previously taken, I-35 through Oklahoma City. Just trying to find the I-35 from 183 took us for a wrong turn Pink Marker.


View 2010 November Trip to Dallas – Departing Dallas in a larger map

We actually departed for home at 13:53. Once we found our way onto I-35W at 14:21, we started looking for a place to get gas and then to eat lunch. I asked Monica to look for something in the GPS, and because I have a ConcoPhillips credit card that gives me generous cashback for those gas purchases, we looked for a Conoco station. The nearest one was 4 miles off the road, and I didn’t know where the next one would be because I did not do my homework and preplan the possible stations at which we could stop. Four miles seemed like a long way away from a major interstate throughway, so we pulled over at 14:31 to check the GPS more thoroughly Pink Pushpin. For lack of better information available to me (no, I do not own a smart phone, and we did not have a netbook to access free wi-fi from somewhere), I decided to drive out to station.

We drove through some very nice neighborhoods on Heritage Trace Parkway. Once we got to station, to our surprise, the station was no longer owned by Conoco. Frustrated, I filled up anyway. The wind was blowing incredibly strong for such a warm day. There was an Arby’s next to the station across Wall Price Keller Road, so we went there for a bite to eat Snack Bar map marker. The food and service was good, and it probably the nicest Arby’s in which we’ve ever been, but what do I know considering I almost never eat fast food. There was a bell with a rope tied to the clapper, and above it was a sign written, “If your service was great, ring the bell.” The word “ring” was stylized. I debated with myself for a while whether to ring it because I thought we had good service, but I also think loud ringing is annoying. There was only one other customer in the establishment, and I decided not to ring the bell. We were on the road again at 15:09.


View To gas station, food, and back to I-35 in a larger map

We tracked back over to I-35 once we drove through Keller on Main Street, U.S. Route 377. There was a few trains to the west of us on this road, and I wondered whether we would be held up at a railroad crossing. We turned left at highway 114, which was an overpass over the railway. At 15:30, with the Texas Motor Speedway stretching across our view of the panorama, we turned onto the onramp for I-35.


View 2010 November Trip to Dallas in a larger map

At 16:17 we took stopped at a rest area in Thackerville, Oklahoma, which is just over the boarder into Oklahoma. We hit the road again at 16:22, and turned on podcasts of Car Talk. To my surprise, Monica really enjoyed Car Talk. The rest of the drive home seemed to take some time, although our average speed was 70 mph. Monica claimed that the reason for seemingly long time to drive was that we were not talking but listening to the podcast. We actually listened to two entire episodes before we made it home. We reached OKC at 17:58, the drive through was quite calm. We got on Turner Turnpike at 18:14, and that stretch of road was very common to me. I didn’t like driving that fast in the darkness of night, but we had animals to feed. There was one more stretch of construction in Sapulpa just before one gets onto Creek Turnpike. We pulled up at home at 19:31 for a total travel time of 5 hours and 38 minutes. The animals were happy to see us, and we sent our SMS to our hosts a conformation of safe arrival. Thank you for a wonderful time.

A Great Night in Dallas

Soon after we arrived, we greeted our friends, dropped off our bags in the guest rooms, and shortly after left for Dallas at 15:57, but we rode as passengers this time. The first stop on the night’s agenda was a Polish store in northeastern Dallas called European Market & Deli Red Pushpin. I know this store as “The Polish Store”. Our hosts made their purchases as I translated many of the products for Monica. The shop owners also gave us a piece of kabanos for a sample.

From there, our hosts called their daughter who was still at work, and we decided to stop by her work in order for her to show us her lab at Southwestern Medical Center where she works in cardiologic research Yellow Pushpin. The lab was amazing because I’ve never been in a real research lab, and it was somewhat like one sees on television. One of her contact was bothering her, so she threw it out, and that defaulted into me driving her car home where we picked up her husband and drove to . That place had an hour wait, so we went to the Bishop District in north Oak Cliff, which is a revived art district with some history.


View Evening in Dallas in a larger map

After we parked the cars Blue marker, we walked towards Bishop Avenue, and saw a piano in a storefront, and this piano was outdoors, facing the street with a sign that said “Play Me.” So, I did. I played the introduction to Super Mario Bros., and it made everyone laugh while I thought the song choice was appropriate for the out-of-tune quality of this piano. We walked up and down Bishop Ave to find a place to eat, starting with Eno’s Pizza Tavern Pink marker, for which the wait was more than an hour. We decided to go for sushi at Zen Green Pushpin, which was empty anyway. Shortly after we sat down, the place filled up, but when we first walked in, the host asked whether we had reservations. We all laughed considering how empty the entire place was. The service and food was excellent. During the middle of our meal, the daughter and son-in-law had to leave for a work-related banquet, so it was just the four of us left: Our great friends, husband & wife, and Monica and me.


View 2010 November Trip to Dallas in a larger map

After dinner, we walked to this incredible art gallery called Artisan’s Collective Red Pushpin. The art in there was eclectic, and a surprisingly large number of that art really spoke to me. I wish I took pictures of it. Some of the artists that I noted were Chase Yarborough, Joni Beamish, Caleb Jack, and David Jessup.

Afterwards, we walked back to the car at and drove home at 20:53, this time depending on the GPS to get back to the highway. Looking at the map, I’m not sure if even GPS had the best route to the on-ramp, and we ended up using like the third-closest on ramp anyway.


View Drive backs in a larger map

We made it back to the house by 21:27, and ate cold cuts from the European Market on Pita bread. It was fantastically delicious. Then we stayed up until about 1 in the morning having wonderfully life-altering conversations.

Getting to Dallas

On November 20, 2010, Monica and I traveled to Dallas, Texas to visit some really good friends of ours.


View 2010 November Trip to Dallas in a larger map

It was the weekend before Thanksgiving.  We left Tulsa late Saturday morning, ran one errand (not gas because we got gas the previous evening), and headed out by 11:20 and sent an SMS with to our waiting hosts that our ETA was 15:17.  We were on US-75 by 11:29.  We then took US-69.  At 13:48, we stopped for bathroom break at a Taco Bell in Durant, just off the highway.  We saw a customer inside with a very large cowboy hat, which is usually a bit comical to me because I live so close to that culture yet do not see it often, nor can I relate.  We guessed that a large parked truck pulling a very large horse trailer that had some sort of equipment in it, not horses, was this customer’s vehicle.  He and his family were leaving just as we were done ready to get back into our car, and this customer got into some sort of jeep that was parked next to us.  Before this, I don’t recall the last time I actually stood on the ground in Durant, if ever.  By 14:02, were southbound again on US-69.


View 2010 November Trip to Dallas in a larger map

As we drove through those little towns, I can barely believe that people have a livelihood out in those small rural towns.  And for those that do have a good livelihood, it seems to me that all those lives are very similar, but what do I know about that!

We crossed the border from Oklahoma into Texas at 14:16.  The Red River always overcomes me with a feeling of awe because I imagine the history that river has.  This river has affected thousands of real people’s hundreds of years ago.  I just imagine the white conquerors arriving at the river wondering how they will cross, or trappers floating down the river exploring, and then not to mention any Texan wars that may have come this way.  Here I am, in the 21st century, just driving across it in literally fewer than 17 seconds.  The old rail bridge also makes me wonder.


View Red River, Oklahoma and Texas border in a larger map

We drove on past the Texas Travel Information Center since we just stopped, but that is usually a place I stop.  Approximately an hour away from our destination, we sent an SMS with updated ETA of 15:36.

The exciting thing about this trip was this was the first time I used my GPS to travel to Texas.  In the first place where I truly needed the GPS, the maps in the GPS were out of date due to new construction just after we took the Texas State Highway 121 junction.  There also was a quick detour to get on 121, one exit before the actual exit, which didn’t turn out to be scary.  Shortly after we merged onto 121, the new construction was available for us to drive on, and it was impressively nice due to the immense amount of concrete, which always boggles my mind due to the work and cost involved creating such an achievement.  We got on this part of the “toll” road for which I would have gladly paid if only someone was there to collect my money; so instead, we drove on the toll portion of 121 for free. Researching the toll, I learned on Wikipedia that apparently, they will try to send me a bill, so good luck to them.

Once in outskirts of Dallas metro, the off ramps of 121 were confusing as always (at 15:27), so I was glad for the GPS, but surprisingly it didn’t offer as much comfort as I expected.  I guess I still need to get more used to using it and its timing.  We arrived at our destination three minutes late of our updated ETA, at 15:39.

The Social Network movie review

I saw The Social Network tonight, and I was impressed with the movie. I realize there have been some statements how inaccurate the movie, but it still was a really good movie. The soundtrack by Trent Reznor was incredibly awesome. Trent’s rendition of Edvard Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King during the crew race. Really, each queu was quite memorable in soundscape.

The moviemakers did a nice touch with recreating the old looks of the famous websites, most noticeably to me Network Solution’s website, which looked completely different in the movie than it does today. The rest of the pages shown, I’m sure, had similar treatments, especially with the evolution of the Facebook website.

I think most importantly, the movie tried to explain how revolutionary ideas essentially grow from the ground up. They mentioned that a social network requires a “critical mass” to get started. And a topic dear to me and words that resonated with me, was when Sean Parker said that Napster changed the music industry for ever, which he did. Napster is actually a great idea, although BitTorrent picks up from there, it’s just that music industry does not know how to monetize that type of distribution system, so they do everything they can to stop it to continue making money their old ways.

Jesse Eisenberg, who played as Mark, was great in his timing and speed of delivery. I don’t know the real mannerisms of Mark, but Jesse sure channeled a nerd with type-A personality. I imagine a world where a pop-star would be made fun of being in film and that it would be cliché to applaud such a star, I have nothing to say against Justin Timberlake. I think he did a fine job with many character developing gestures. Quite frankly, I thought it was poetic to cast one of RIAA‘s most lucrative assets as the co-founder of Napster. That in itself set an undertone for me as to what The Social Network was really trying to say. I think the story is about how the power of the people will always undercut the power of top-down organizations, especially when people are provided with a new technology. This should really just be a warning of how something so simple took the world by a wave. I don’t think the next waves will be so “small”.