Friday, May 30, 2008

Cue the barbecue

For a good portion of our nine and a half years together, Doug and I have been a quest to taste the best barbecue in Texas. Our first year and a half together we lived in Dallas and good 'cue in Dallas is as mythical as Santa Claus. But in 2008 we moved to Austin and found that we were surrounded by barbecue nirvana. Although many people will say this place or that in Austin has the best barbecue, I disagree. The best barbecue is found in small towns that require a road trip, and luckily we don't live more than 90 minutes from some of the best.

I was excited to see the June issue of Texas Monthly once again features the 50 best barbecue joints in Texas. Their top pick was as new to the editors as it was to me -- Snow's BBQ in Lexington, which is east of Elgin. I'm now jonesing to head east tomorrow.

Rounding out the top five are (in no particular order):
We've never made it to Luling, but agree with the other three. Another one of our favorites, Cooper's in Llano, made the top 50 but not the top 5. At first I was surprised and then I read the review. While most of the time Cooper's has been a real hit, we've been there a couple of times when it's been a definite miss. Texas Monthly was there on a miss day.

However, it looks like we have a few new places to try and there are several road trips in our future.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Ado'ing nothing

We're at Zilker Park tonight to see Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing.

Breakfast trip

Some people have Life Lists. Some people have Bucket Lists. We have a Things That We Would Regret Not Having Done If We Ever Moved Away From Austin, Not That We Are Planning To Do So, List. The list includes things like going to Gruene Hall, visiting the Dr Pepper Museum in Waco and going to the Broken Spoke. Today we crossed one of the things off our list – eating breakfast at the Blue Bonnet Cafe in Marble Falls.

The Blue Bonnet Cafe is a Texas legend, having been in business for more than 75 years. Texas Highways magazine voted the Blue Bonnet the #1 breakfast place in Texas and one of the top 10 restaurants in Texas. To be honest, I hadn’t heard about the Blue Bonnet until about six months ago when my colleague, Mike McBride, told me about it. It took several months to convince Doug to go (and actually putting it on our list) and then a month to find a day when we were up early enough and didn’t have a lot of things on our to do list to go. Today was the morning.

From our house it was about a 70 minute drive on twisting, hill country roads. Wouldn’t have been so bad if I hadn’t imbibed a little too much at Robert & Tracy’s wedding last night and if our convertible didn’t have such a rough ride. Still, the drive is pretty.

We got there about 8:30 and while busy, we got a seat right away. It was a friendly, bustling place. It’s cash and checks only, but they do have an ATM. The portions were definitely Texas-sized. We both got omelets, which come with either grits or hashbrowns (we got hashbrowns) and your choice of bread. Let me recommend the Texas-toast. It’s easily an inch and a half thick of homemade bread. It was so yummy that we bought a loaf to take home.

The Blue Bonnet is also famous for its pies. We didn’t have room for dessert, but we bought a pecan pie to take home. Some of the pies, like the peanut butter pie pictured below, look out of this world, but we wanted something that would easily transport back to Austin.

We must have arrived at a good time because by the time we left, the line for seating snaked down the long entry way and out the front door.

The Blue Bonnet Cafe is worth the trip. As Doug said when we were leaving, this is a place we’ll cross off our list many more times.


BTW, I've started Twittering. These are mini posts, less than 150 words. They are on the right side of the page, under the About Me section. Or you can go to If you want to sign up on Twitter and follow me (but you don't have to, since the tweets, as the updates are called, appear on this blog), my Twitter id is dquack.


I know it's been a long time since the last posting. Part of it was the end of the semester and finals, and after which, a client project. But a lot of the reason I haven't updated was that chose not to. I had one thing on my mind for the last several months and given the public nature of blogs, I thought it was best to keep quiet.

So what was on my mind? In a word, my job, or rather wondering if I would have one next school year. At the beginning of the school year, the school had plans to hire one tenure tact professor (this means someone with a PhD) and one senior lecturer (no PhD required). The senior lecturer, and promise of a three-year contract, was one of the reasons I came back this school year. The senior lecturer is basically what I've been doing for the last two years, the only difference is that it is a three-year contract, so at the end of each year I wouldn't have to go through the angst of whether I'd be hired back. And what angst it has been.

Somewhere along the line, the school started thinking they could hire two tenure track professors and no senior lecturers. Fast forward to April, only one PhD had accepted the offer and at that point, the school opted to look for a senior lecturer. On Dead Day (the day before finals start, where there is no class) I interviewed for my job. It was somewhat surreal, interviewing with my colleagues for the job I already had. I also had to give a teaching presentation. Despite it being a day off for everyone, I was able to get quite a few of my colleagues, as well as several students there. That, I think, was the best part, getting the students. Many current and former students who couldn't make it wrote letters supporting me. I am very appreciative of the support.

In the end, I got the contract and I will be back. Without going into much detail, one of the things I learned was to stand up for yourself and know what you want and others will go to bat for you (assuming, of course, that you're good to begin with). I got a lot of support along the way and it was great. In fact, working with some great students and other really neat professors is one of the reasons I love teaching.

So now I have some time off until summer school in July. Well, I do have a student who has to finish a project, but other than that, nothing pressing. I am going to do some more work on my own consulting business, as I have some ideas there I'd like to explore. At this point, I just have six weeks and I know it will fly fast.