Wednesday, July 30, 2008

So I haven't blogged...

...since summer school started. Have you noticed? I knew it would be tiring and exhausting, I just didn't realize how that would feel. Two writing classes and I made a commitment that the students wouldn't be short changed just because it's summer. Not sure if they are really appreciating that right about now (at least some of them). I counted it up -- 21 daily assignments during the 5 week class (and really, only assignments during the first 4 weeks), plus 8 grammar quizzes and 7 current events/WSJ quizzes. Yeah, they are working their tails off, most of them, but I'm right there with them.

I did, however, get the comment today that this was the first class the student felt like they were really learning something. Guess that's something.

One more week. That's all there is, one more week. Presentations are on Wednesday and the final is on Thursday, by Friday I'll post grades and Saturday I'm getting on a plane, heading to the Pacific Northwest, for a much needed vacation.

Not sure if we'll take the laptop and post photos during the trip or not. If not, it may be almost a month before you hear from me. Maybe by that time I'll have something interesting to say.

BTW, if you haven't checked it out, my students are blogging this summer. Take a read if you like.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Two more new restaurants

I know it seems like this is turning into a restaurant blog. Not really, but it’s more interesting than writing about summer school starting next week.

For lunch yesterday I met my friend Izzy at Sichuan Garden in Round Rock. The Austin Chronicle had a good review and we figured that would be as good of place as any. It’s in a shopping center at the corner of I-35 & 620. It doesn’t look like much and was fairly empty, but the thing we noticed was the two large tables, each filled with who we presumed to be Chinese people.

We both opted to order off the lunch menu. According to the review, it was best to skip the Chinese standbys, like General Tsao’s; unfortunately, most of the lunch menu was standbys. Still, I ordered shredded pork with bean curd which was good. Izzy said her eggplant in her garlic sauce was delish. The service was okay (but it was the server’s first day) and the soups were just okay. I was able to get in and out with drink, tax and a 22 percent tip for $8. Yummy food, low cost, I’ll be back.

In the evening, I was going to meet Doug at Zax’s for dinner and then we were going to meet friends at the Zach Scott for a show. Only when Doug got to the restaurant, there was no parking. Not wanting to deal, he suggested we go some place else. I met him at the Zach and we hopped in one car. Not sure where to go, we headed down SoCo. We opted to try Woodland; I heard JB from the JB & Sandy morning show talk about how good it is. Honestly, we weren’t that impressed.

My impression was that it was trying too hard to be laidback and cool and it just didn’t work. First, the beer selection was a selection of wanna bes, instead of what a beer connoisseur would like. The menu selection seemed limited. We both ordered burgers, which were $11-$13 and really weren’t that special. Neither was the service. Definitely a yuppie-trying-to-still-be-cool-and-laidback place. We left disappointed. We won’t go back.

I guess I can include the third new place I went to yesterday – Big Top Candy, although I didn’t buy anything. It’s an old time candy store with things like candy cigarettes, Now & Laters and huge jawbreakers, none of which I’ve seen since I was a kid. I was tempted to buy something just because, but wasn’t hungry and opted not to. However, just seeing all the candy from my childhood in one place made me smile. Just what I needed after Woodlands.