Houston and Sirius

We had a great visit with friends and former colleagues in Houston, and I also managed a bit of shopping while SWMBO’d visited the international quilt show being held at the  George Brown Convention Centre.  This show is an annual event, and reputedly the largest in the world, with participants attending from all over the globe.  I’d wondered whether the economic situation would put a dampener on the event, and evidently it wasn’t as busy as in previous years – but it is still quite big ! There were many quilts to be seen – to the left is one example.

While SWMBO’d was checking out fabric, I managed to stop into a couple of Harbour Freight stores – my American friends on the various motorcycle bulletin boards swear by them, so I had to take a look, and it turned out to be time well spent. Harbour Freight is a chain of stores much like Princess Auto or Manitoba Tools in Canada (and it would not surprise me at all if there was some sort of connection between them all). They stock automotive tools and specialty items – often low-end stuff, but also some very good quality items – and often the prices are amazing. As an example. I picked up a battery tender (designed to maintain a wet battery’s charge over a long period of time) for $6 and the going price for a very similar item in Calgary is about $40. Another store in Houston is Northern Tool which is similar to Harbour Freight but perhaps a bit better quality. At any rate I ended up buying a load of useful stuff for much less than I’d pay for the same quality of item in Canada.

The other item I picked up was an XM satellite radio receiver. When SWMBO’d and I travel, we generally pack along a load of CD’s but then don’t listen to them – our tastes in music are quite different and I’d rather endure ants eating my eyeballs than have to listen to Celine Dion mooning about something or other for hours on end, and likewise SWMBO’d doesn’t really care for anything I like. As a result we generally travel in musical silence, broken with the occasional bit of small talk. I’d been thinking about picking up a satellite radio system for some time and so wasted no time in heading out to Fry’s Electronics in Houston as soon as I had the chance !  Fry’s is a dream come true if you are any sort of propeller head sort of person and frankly it is a must see every time I’m in the area !   They had an XM/Sirius radio for a reasonable price, and I had it up and running in the car within about and hour start to finish. Frankly we love it – there is no way we could possibly buy enough CD’s and then find the time to put together our own music compilations  which would match what is offered on the satellite radio. As a result, we have been able to listen to hours of commercial free music, and so far at least are still talking to each other – its great, and recommended. The other things I’d offer is that being able to listen to a music station for hundreds of kilometres without losing the signal still seems a bit incredible to me – yes I realise it’s a satellite transmission, but that in no way takes away any of the sense of wonder, for me at least, at how well it works.

We spent some time at Livingstone Lake where some friends of ours have a cottage (or as they call them here – a lake house). A neighbour happens to have a fairly decent collection of vintage motorcycles, and we were fortunate enough to have a private tour of his collection of about 50 bikes – mainly British but there are few  American and European ones also.

To the right is a 16H Norton which is somewhat similar to the Norton 18 my Dad owned in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s in the UK, although his had a sidecar fitted. This one is a very nice example.

We had a good visit and hope to be back soon, but the next stop is New Orleans !

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