The Big Swelter

Well, folks, It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged so I figured I’d let rip with a new one here.  The last couple weeks has been rather sparse, both mentally as well as physically. I had a bad cold that, while no excuse for not writing, sure made me cough and feel miserable.  Last week, I was travelling for work, where I attended a conference in Austin, TX.  I spent six days becoming enlightened in the ways of airlines, conference centers, federal billing practices, online repositories, and then a bit more airlines.

I took some pictures, which I will share with folks.  Far be it from  me to post something normal.  It was too hot in Austin to do much walking around, so the photos are, uh, well… You can decide.

A Ghost!

Ever find yourself wanting to slap a kid? The one right behind me in Washington DC’s Reagan National Airport, who was, I estimate, Kindergarten Aged, Saw this picture high up on the wall, and started shouting, and then screaming, “Mom! Aaaah! A ghost!” Until she finally appeased him by saying it was just a woman with a towel over her head. Right. Yeah. so I found another family who are not invited to my next birthday party.

Guitars Over Baggage claim
Guitars over Baggage claim

So, I arrived in Austin, TX after about 10 hours of flights and other general travel harassment. The city styles itself “The Live Music Capital of the World”, and true to its name, there was a live band playing right there in the airport. Also, there existed a plantation 15′ tall giant guitars on top of the baggage claim kiosks. I thought this was impressive enough to take a few photos of. I like giant guitars as much as the next person, so I snapped a few shots.

Keep Austin Weird Guitar
The Keep Austin Weird guitar

Like this one for example. Austin, TX, is also the self-styled “Weird City” of Texas. Aside from being the state capital, and the Live Music Capital… It is proud of being “weird.” I must commend them for this. There aren’t enough “weird” cities in the United States. Santa Cruz is one of them; I lived a couple dozen years near there, and I can attest to its weirdness. Austin seemed, well, plain. Nice but plain. Maybe it’s weird for Texas, which would make sense, but not really, since the rest of the world thinks TEXAS is weird.

Courtyard bird
The Courtyard Bird

This is a bird. The courtyard crow, to be exact. There were a couple of them that hopped around the Conference Center Courtyard. One didn’t have a foot. It was fat. REALLY fat. This was the other bird. It was fast but skinny. Probably an aerobics thing. It probably does kettlebells. So I took its picture. Besides… birds are just kinda cool, as long as you don’t have to clean up after them.

Table balls
The Table balls

In Austin, They let you play with the balls at the table, right there in the lobby.

A Bullhorn

You can get quite horny. At least one horn worth, also right there in the lobby. Maybe Austin is weird. Snort.

The Chili Challenge
The Chili Challenge

The second night, I decided to explore a little. It was pretty hot actually, about 100 degrees (38c), but I wanted to try something authentic. I poked around on the Internet for about an hour, looking for something with local and authentic flavor. Many sites recommended the Texas Chili Parlour, so I thought I’d give it a whirl. It was quite good. the Restaurant had a rough, sort of old-timey feel, unfinished, and not pretty around the edges. The patrons were noisy (I think there was some University of Texas sporting event on the television). They had a full bar, where lots of laughing was going on.

Texas chili Parlour...the table
The well-abused table at Texas Chili Parlor.

It served the usual fare you’d expect in a place like this: 8 or 10 kinds of chili, served with jalapenos and diced onion on the side, with a huge basket of saltines. I had the Three-chili sampler. Authentic Texas chili is made without beans, and tastes a bit like stew cooked a really, REALLY long time. It was good, but my favorite was the Louisiana sausage chili, which had a deep, spicy hearty flavor that made my toes curl. The other chili, a white bean and ham concotion, wasn’t really worth mentioning. It was flavored with a very mild chile, I think possibly ortega or some other green chile.

Longhorn chair
Longhorn chair

This is a chair at a bar I visited. They didn’t serve Guinness, damn them to Texas, but I found an amber ale microbrew that proved a meager substitute. Really, that’s all I have to say about that.

The flower that wanted to eat me.

This is a picture of a flower that wanted to eat me. I could tell. It was all tendrilly and scary-looking, and I was thankful the staff had fed it earlier in the afternoon or it would have most probably sucked out my vital humors.

Oh. I also attended a conference. I didn’t take pictures of that, because it wasn’t a chili house, or a ghost, or a human-eating devil plant.

And thus ended my trip to Austin. I’m back at work today, feeling rightfully like I got hardly any vacation at all. Enjoy your Monday people.


2 thoughts on “The Big Swelter”

  1. Kept waiting for the part about the big sweater. Disappointed, I returned to the top and read again-oh well, maybe it is too warm there for a sweater anyway. We stood behind a kid in line. He had on a leash and kept begging his dad to tie him up. His dad would tie him up and tickle him and the kid would get out. I could tell the dad felt sheepish. He needn’t have in Europe. The boy had a great time though. And it made me laugh.


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