August 1st, 2009


The misadventure in Austin

As those of you who read my Twitter stati will know, I spent the last three days in Austin. Perhaps going without a guide who knew the area was ill advised, but I managed. Sure, I had all of my computing equipment there with me (ilu, ssh -X, but I still didn't do much updating. Here's what happened.

First, I was staying in a relatively nice suite with a king sized bed and a fold-away. This was easily too much bed for a single person. Hell, it was too much bed for two people: I think I could have used the room for an orgy and I would have been fine (STIs not withstanding). The first night there, I set up an ad-hoc network so that I could use my netbook while laying in bed.

On Wednesday, I paid a visit to the state capitol and walked around in downtown for a bit. The first sign that I was nowhere near reality came when I saw a gaggle of Segway users. I mean, really, who uses those things? I outpaced them on foot! While there, I ate at a teriyaki place. I went back to the hotel, napped (because I had gotten up fairly early that morning), then ventured out again for dinner (Tex-Mex).

Thursday morning, I drove around town aimlessly. Yes, I realize that by doing so, I contributed significantly to global climate issues. During this time, I realized that the people of Austin have some unusual driving habits. For example, they don't go 80 miles an hour through residential neighborhoods. Keeping to the speed limits was occasionally difficult due to these strange formations in the ground called hills, which cause your car to speed up as you lose altitude. I had lunch at a Chick-fil-A near my hotel, then went and took care of business.

After my business was finished, I changed back into street clothes and headed out in search of dinner. I settled at the Freebirds on Congress, where I held the meat and cheese, keeping the typical 20 point burrito to a mere 10. The girl waiting on me must have thought me some kind of vegan. I ate on their patio (because while it was warm out, it wasn't hell--another thing not quite right about the city--it was the end of July, and that's supposed to mean unlivable heat), then went down to the city's largest park to walk.

If you thought that reality existed in Austin, the next statement should disprove the fact to you. I was at this park around dusk (missed the bats coming out because I was on the wrong part of the lake), and there were children daring to play there. The parents were obviously unconcerned about kidnappers, pedophiles, rapists, and the other foul things that lurk in city parks when the sun goes down. In fact, I didn't encounter any suspicious activity myself--just people frolicking. After the park, I walked through their yuppieville, then headed back to the hotel for a shower and some sleep.

I had no intention of sticking around this reality-forsaken place much longer, so I got up and left early on Friday, after stopping to eat breakfast at the IHOP on the other side of the freeway (mmm, pancakes). The drive back (via US 290) was a bit rough: I ran into heavy rain in Washington County that led to me getting lost in Brenham, and the first half of the trip was mired due to a bum cable causing my vehicle's stereo system to play half of the White Album (either treble or bass, but not both at the same time). No, I didn't stick around Brenham for the ice cream (given the choice between Blue Bell and Ben and Jerry, I'll go with the locals most days), but the rain did get significantly worse when I got to Cypress, and didn't let up until I crossed US 59 on the Sam Houston Toll Road.

The good news is that I lost 1.4 pounds while on the trip. I was expecting to gain about 5, particularly after IHOP and those banana macadamia nut pancakes (complete with butterscotch syrup) and the ham and bacon.