This weekend was a bit of a crazy one, but also extremely fun. So for those who know my wife is a Teacher, and has been at the State Capitol building every single day this past week protesting. Originally the legislature was supposed to be out on Friday so I decided to take that day off myself so we could go do something to relax from the madness. Unfortunately the situation at the state house is a very fluid one and they opted to have a very short session on Friday morning. This left my wife in a bit of a dilemma wanting to go and be there for all of her coworkers… and also not wanting to cancel our weekend. In the end we compromised because Oklahoma City can in fact be on the way to Dallas if you go the Highway 35 route. So around 1 pm… much later than I had intended on doing so… I found my way through the nonsense that is 30,000+ educators inhabiting the Capitol grounds and picked my rain soaked wife up and we went about our weekend trip.
The drive up to OKC was a bit of a nightmare in itself and took significantly longer than I had originally expected. There were several times where I was just driving based on the lights of the vehicle in front of me because we had white out rain conditions where so much was being blown up into the air by the big trucks that I could not see the route. In fact I accidentally turned into the midway area of the turnpike… just because I followed the semi in front of me and I had no clue that it wasn’t the way the road was naturally turning. However once we cleared OKC the weather improved greatly and by the time we got down to the DFW area… it was 84. We however apparently brought the cold front with us because by the time we checked into the hotel and prepped to go out for the evening… it had dropped down into the 40s.
The other thing that I feel like I should talk about… is that apparently we brought a Tornado with us… or at least that is what the DFW area thought. We need to talk about the difference between the National Weather Service in Oklahoma… and the National Weather Service in Texas. For us a Tornado Warning is not called until there has been a funnel cloud spotted…. and shortly after checking into our hotel a Tornado Warning flashed across our phones and the sirens started blowing. After flipping on the local news and listening to a weatherman… he kept stating that conditions were favorable for a Tornado… which should have been a Watch not a Warning. Whatever the case the storm had passed where we were and being Oklahomans very used to Tornado time… we went on about our business and headed to IKEA to hopefully get that in while the store was less busy. The folks at the hotel however seemed fairly rattled.
The real focus of the weekend however was a big Half Priced Books sale happening at the Arlington Convention Center, which is another tale… when you tell me something is happening at a convention center I look for the largest building in an area. The Arlington Convention Center however is probably the smallest building in the surrounding area flanked by the Texas Rangers and AT&T Stadiums. After passing the building the first time… we looped back around and found that quite a line has formed of folks trying to get into the parking lot. After paying our $5 for parking we walked through the wind and rain to find ourselves in a giant Half Priced Books clearance sale. The photo does not really give it justice as to how much was there laid out crudely on tables garage sale style. Everything there was priced between $0.50 and $2 meaning that there were a ton of folks loading up entire shopping carts full of stuff. On either side of the main area there were boxes of books that had yet to be put out on the tables, so in theory you probably needed to come all three days of the dale to really feel like you saw everything.
Now one of the reasons why we love Half Priced Books so much is how amazingly organized it is. For the purposes of this sale… that largely went out the window as things were lumped into giant categories like Fiction, Non-Fiction, Coffee Table books, etc. One of the things I tend to focus on are the pen and paper gaming books… which were occasionally sprinkled in with art books, music tour folios, and other large format coffee table style books. My wife was looking for educational resources… which were in this large heap called Non-Fiction and a few in the Science section… that turned out to mostly be computer books. Now something of note… another great thing about HPB is that they seem to shift their inventory around quite a bit. In each store there is a Clearance section that we often make a beeline to as soon as we get inside the door. This sale appears to be the dregs of whatever didn’t sell on potentially multiple last chance clearance aisles.
We spent about an hour and a half in the sale and this is the only thing that I personally walked away with. Even then I only made the purchase out of sheer nostalgia for Dark Age of Camelot… because this was a far bigger compendium than I had ever seen for that game. The book is about three inches thick and covers Darkness Falls as well as the core of the three realms. I have a handful of these MMO guide books that I never actually used, but have kept because they are little snapshots in time when the game existed in that form. I find them interesting to flip back through and remember just how things were before later patches changed them. My wife however walked away with a half dozen books meaning the trip was largely worth it. It was one of those things that I am glad we did so we know what to expect, but maybe wouldn’t make a special trip for in the future. It felt a lot like a book sale that a local prep school has every year, which is fine but if you go to it looking for a specific thing you are likely going to walk away disappointed. I kept asking myself “do I actually need this” and if I do get it “what exactly will I do with it” which kept me from picking up many things.
From there we plotted a course out of Dallas hitting up several of the Half Priced Books on the way out… first going over to the flagship store and then to Richardson and McKinney before finally getting back on Highway 75 and heading home. I feel like most people won’t understand our attachment to this store chain, but whatever. They have lots of interesting stuff and you never quite know what you are going to find when you go to one. Each and every store has a vastly different flavor to it, and tends to be really good at carrying one or more specific things. The other part of the equation is that we have none of these in the Tulsa area. There are three in Oklahoma City which gives us hope that maybe just maybe they will make their way to our neck of the woods… but even then a few times a year we make a trek to OKC just to hit the ones there. This is literally the first thing we look for when we travel to a new area… have have visited most of the HPB locations in Dallas Fort Worth Metro, Kansas City Metro, St Louis Metro, Austin Metro, and Madison Wisconsin area.
The reason in part why we are so attached is because they carry a wealth of educational resources. Even though my wife has spent the entire week protesting at the State Capitol for more educational funding… she is still always thinking about her classroom. She is one of those teachers that never recycles her curriculum. Each summer she essentially tears down every single prep she has and builds up a new structure based on the best ways she knows how to teach each of the concepts. This year she knows she is going to be teaching Geometry again, and as a result is on the hunt for new resources to help explain concepts. Granted in her office at home we have five massive bookshelves full of materials… but she is constantly looking for new and novel ways to explain things. So as a result we keep hitting bookstores looking for the next great concept she can glean.
While it was a lot of driving condensed into a very short amount of time… there are always interesting things to be seen along the way… like a graveyard of past editions of Warhammer 40k for example. I have both of these in my bookshelf here at home but it is always cool to see them in the wild… or in this case several of them. It was a fun weekend and I was glad we managed to get back in time on Saturday night to record aggrochat. However the whole having multiple people able to record thing meant that the show could in fact go on without me. We have also started time boxing our shows trying to shoot for 90 minutes of recording time…. which after editing comes down to roughly an hour. I think this week might be one of the better shows we have recorded yet because compressing things into that time frame seems to help the conversation and keep us from zoning out during the second hour of recording. I highly suggest you check out this weeks show and let me know what you think about the shorter format.