I remember back when I was in junior high and had my first Walkman - the original gray one. The album Every Turn of the World, by Christopher Cross, was exactly the length of an Eastern Airlines air shuttle flight from New York's La Guardia Airport to Boston's Logan International. When I say exactly, I mean I recall three or four times that year when I clicked 'Play' just as the engines spooled up for takeoff, to have the last notes fade down to black as the Boeing 727 turned off the active runway heading for the gate.

Of such useless but personally vivid facts is memory made.

I'm in Houston again. I don't like coming to Houston, but my job has other ideas. I have spent two nights drinking with colleagues, one night drinking while admiring one of my colleagues' nearly-new Porsche 911 Carrera S and his Glock 9mm which he keeps in the forward cargo compartment. Alcohol, cars, guns - the American trifecta, or with apologies to Johnny Cash, "American III."

I'd consider movies, or dining, or even book shopping, but Downtown Houston isn't equipped for either the first or third option, and I'm feeling so unbelievably fat these days that even dining, the one actual pleasure in my life, isn't an attractive notion. I'm hoping I'm just feeling bloated because I'm trying to wean myself off the latest SSRI, but who knows - despite my waistband being only middlingly bad, I'm sure in shit shape. Maybe I'll force it and go looking for a steak to conquer; this is, in fact, cattle country.

That fact is reinforced by the decor in the business hotel I'm staying at. Eight ink print portraits are arranged in a fussy 4x2 on the wall of my room; each is captioned with the name of its subject. "Jane," "Ellie," "Miranda," "Oscar IV" and others. All are cows. Sorry; cows or bulls. Cattle. The elevators contain enormous murals of placid bovinity, looking sidelong at the occupants with the certainty of the truly ruminant.

There's no fucking 3G service in my office building, just to add insult to injury.

Not much to do but complain. I realized this week that there was no way I was going to be able to make it to HD6 - in glum acceptance, I have decided instead to send the gathering a present. They'll know what it is when it arrives.

Four more days of crap hotels and shit food.

Oh well. At least it isn't home, where I'd just be moping somewhere familiar.