Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Summer is on the way

On the drive home from school this afternoon I noticed the jumbotron at a local car dealership said it was 88 degrees. The Weather Channel has current Austin temperature at 85. I know in just a few short weeks it will be in the 90s, with the 100s not far behind. How anyone decided to settle in Texas prior to air conditioning, I'll never know.

I checked the weather in Little Rock and it's in the 70s. Doug's hometown of Chillicothe, MO is 56 degrees. I guess that's why his parents love to come visit.

Anyway it's nice now, although inside it's a bit stuffy in the house even with all the windows open. Dexter is loving it because all the birds are back in our trees and noisy; he sits in the open windows and thinks diabolical thoughts about what he would do if he were allowed to roam outside.

All those environmentalists who talk about the air quality of Texas being bad, must only have visited Houston. Today the sky here is bright blue, reminding me of the color of Chris and Stacey's bedroom when we were growing up. There is not a cloud in the sky and you feel like you can see for miles, straight into the atmosphere and outer space.

The only thing that would make the day better would be to be sitting on a deck overlooking the lake, drinking a margarita. But alas, as a grad student, I have work to do and about one month -- and three large papers -- left in the semester.


Friday, March 25, 2005

My neice Kelsey turned Sweet 16 yesterday. Happy Birthday! Posted by Hello

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

I'll have an order of Fried Virgil

As I wrote Saturday, a diving pig died Friday performing at the Star of Texas Rodeo. Come to find out, Big Red was electrocuted. He was part of the Randall's High Diving Racers show, a touring show of pigs that jump off a diving board into a tank of water. There was a faulty ground wire and when Big Red stepped on the ramp to leave the pool of water he became bacon. PETA is now blaming Virgil and Velma for the death of the pig, while according to an article in today's paper, Virgil and Velma plan to sue the rodeo and PETA. In fact Velma got a shock while pulling the other pig out of the water by the ear. Virgil said he wanted to jump in and save Big Red by providing mouth-to-mouth, but had to wait until the electricity was cut off. My favorite quote of the article was Virgil, "It's just lucky that my wife's alive and I am, too, because if I'd jumped in there right away, you'd be looking at fried meat."

If that's not funny enough, check out the ads at the bottom of the article. There's one for pig snouts and another for meat processing. Hilarious!


Tuesday, March 22, 2005

If anyone ever wonders if Allegra is truly part border collie, I invite you to spend a couple of days with her. Right now as I'm typing this, she is playing with a new toy she found -- a wasp. At one point it was alive, but now I'm not so sure. Doug said that yesterday Allegra found the cat heading out into the garage and to stop him, she grabbed him by the tail and pulled him. This photo is one of many days when she goes outside clean and come back dirty. I'm still trying to figure out how she got the ring of dirt around her left eye. Of course, she tries to play it off like she is a complete angel, but we know better. Posted by Hello

How cool is Austin?

Just ask Sandra Bullock. She is an Austin resident and was promoting her new movie, Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous on our favorite morning radio show, JB & Sandy. Click on their Web site and her interview is on the front page. They talked up Austin and our new (fabulous) Whole Foods Market.


Sunday, March 20, 2005

A good laugh

Several days ago Doug posted a comment in this blog about being a metrosexual. Of course, it was joke, as anyone who knows Doug knows that he is hopelessly straight, despite the fact that one of our friends keeps trying to convert him because if he succeeds, that friend will earn that big screen television.

Today we went to see the musical Aida at the Zachary Scott Theatre. We had volunteered ushered at a previous performance and didn't get to see it then, so we came back. After the show we were talking to one of our (gay) friends who works at the Zach and I mentioned Doug's metrosexual comment. Krag and I both just started laughing hard, and kept it up for five minutes. We would look at Doug, look at each other, say the word "metrosexual" and laugh harder. I laughed so hard I almost tripped over a garbage can. Doug just stood there trying to explain.

Of course, on the way home I popped in my original cast recording of the Broadway musical Avenue Q, and Doug was getting into it, so one can wonder...


Saturday, March 19, 2005

No, our dogs aren't spoiled at all. Here's Dante getting caught sleeping on the bed. Look at his eyes -- he knows he's in trouble, but you can tell, he really doesn't care. Posted by Hello

When pigs fly!

Or at least when they dive. We read an article in today's Austin American Statesman about a pig who was part of a diving show and died mid-dive. I guess it's part of a touring act, where some pigs race and some dive off high dives. Big Red, the dead diving pig, was performing at the Star of Texas Rodeo here in Austin. Needless to say I was quite embarrassed to learn that Virgil and Velma (I am not making up these names), the owners of the pig show are from Arkansas. Doug has been teasing me all morning. The entire thing just sounds too redneck. But if you want a laugh, check out Randall's High Diving Racers Web site.


Friday, March 18, 2005

Lights, Camera, Cure!

Who says grad school is just a bunch of fun and games? On April 8-9, I'm getting together with a group of fellow grad students to participate in Relay For Life. This is an overnight event where we'll be walking, running, skipping and by 5 a.m. probably crawling, around a track to raise money to fight cancer. This event is put on by the American Cancer Society.

I am dedicating my participation in this event to my Aunt Grace, who is currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer. If you would like to help me in my efforts, you can donate money online, using a credit card.

Live Strong!

Saturday 3-12-05 Texas Sideways

On a beautiful 70 degree Saturday morning , we decided to have our own "Sideways" adventure and loaded the dogs in the car, opened the sun-roof and windows, and had Bob Seager's greatest hits jamming from the CD. Initially, it was a 4-5 minute battle of wits (or wills) between Allegra and Dara as to who was going to ride shotgun, but Dara eventually convinced Allegra, that it was in her best interest to get in the back seat.

We headed NW into the lakes region, instead of our usual tour through the Hill Country. Our first stop was about 1 1/2 hours later at Lost Creek winery, which we had visited a couple of years ago. It was interesting to see the improvements in only 2 years. We even purchased 2 whites (a Pinot Grigio and a Chardonnay) after sampling 9 of their wines. I was amazed by the Chardonnay. Neither of us typically drink Chard's, much less purchase them. My opinion is that I can typically whiz a tastier drink than a Chard and that the only purpose a Chard serves is to allow college sorority girls and metrosexuals to pretend to be sophisticated, without actually having to taste the grapes. Basically, the wine world's version of bud or coors light beer.

One funny event occurred at our first stop. The lady who owns the winery with her husband invited us to let Dante and Allegra out to play with her Doberman. That alone made me nervous, but she persuaded us that Trooper was socialized and sure enough the dogs had a blast running with Trooper on the 80 acres. Dante and Trooper got into a marking contest. Dante would mark a spot, then Trooper would cover it, then Dante cover it and back and forth. Dante was good for about 4-5 attempts, but Trooper could always manage 1 more. Dara and I sat on the stone patio sampling wines and heckling while this show went on for about 30 minutes and covered 6-7 locations. How Dante at only 40 lbs can hold that much urine is a medical mystery, but at least I wasn't concerned about him having an accident in the car later that day, or for the next couple of weeks for that matter. After that much playing and exertion, Dante and Allegra decided to go for a swim in the creek/ponds that runs through the winery, so we had the pleasure of enjoying the bouqet of "wet dog" the remainder of the morning in the car.

Next we went for the first time to a relatively new winery called Lost Creek, which has gorgeous facilities. We picked up a red blended wine that we liked after sampling about 8 wines. They had an amazing full-length carved bar originally from an 1880's Kansas cow town saloon.

Next we drove another hour into Llano (smaller than Chillicothe) to eat at Coopers BBQ. It is consistently rated as one of the top 10 best BBQ's in the US, as well as one of the best in Texas (which may be synonymous anyway) and we wanted to experience why. We arrived at about 1:30 and the line to get in was down to only about 40 yards long. Luckily, we waited and were more than rewarded. When you get to the end of the line, you enter the smoke pits. The Pit Master opens one of the smokers and you literally look in and pick which meat(s) you want and he slices off roughly however much you ask for and loads it onto a tray. Dara and I split a huge smoked pork chop (The best I have ever had), a big slice of brisket, and a big slice of prime rib, all of which were first dipped into an Au jous sauce. Inside, the meat is weighed (almost 3 lbs, if you are curious) and you pay by the pound. We added some fantastic potato salad, adult beverages and settled in to the rows of community style picnic tables with 60-70 other gluttons for our feast. Bikers, fully decked out in their colors, were seated literally next to blue haired grandmas and bankers just getting off their Saturday morning duties. Maybe all the Middle East needs is a Coopers and everyone would get along. Once back on the road, we pulled off at the first scenic stop and fed Dante and Allegra what was left of the Prime Rib. I am just glad that our dogs are not spoiled.

Next we headed South to McReynolds winery and sampled another 6 wines there. We purchased a very nice Cabernet there. It was pure "Keep Austin Weird" tasting environment, with the girl behind the counter, complete with dreadlocks, handing out wine samples, while drinking a Tecate beer.

Our final stop was at Driftwood Winery. We sampled another 6 wines there and all were undrinkable. The tasting room has one of the most impressive views I have seen in Texas. It is high up and overlooks a valley, with 20 acres of vines down below. The owners appear to have gotten into the business for all the wrong reasons. They inherited the property from their parents and decided to plant grapes after several other agricultural endeavors didn't pan out. The owner has been quoted in articles and in one of the Texas wine books that if he had known how much work a winery was, he never would have planted grapes. It takes passion to make wine and the quality of their wine speaks to that lack of passion. The wife decided to turn their parents house into a bed and breakfast, but quit after she discovered that she would have to clean, do laundry and make beds after guests left each day.

We didn't drink from any spit buckets or sample any classic Pinot Noir's and did sample several Merlots. However, we still managed to have an outstanding day anyway and were able to recharge, which we both desparately needed. Texas has about 60 wineries and we are now almost half way through the list.

We got back into Austin about 6:30 and had a movie night at the house later that evening.


Welcome to our blog!

Now that I made Doug respond to my blog survey, I actually had him create one. Actually he was emailing an update to friends, and I asked him why he didn't just create a blog? So he did. Actually it's a mutual one, as he won't update it very often. I just hope to update it more than I ended up updating the PR one I created for class.