Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Friends, Trails, and Other Stuff

We got some good news this morning. We have some friends, Alan and Jo Hunter, who are heading for Texas, Austin to be specific, from England, arriving tomorrow evening. Peggy and I made their acquaintance about three years ago when they were here in Austin for a short time and now, it apprears they may be staying a while since they have a five year visa. Here, you may take a look at their blog and, if you want to see one of the most comprehensive collections of aircraft photos in exsistance, take a look at the Futurshox web site. Here is a link to my RV-6 , on the futurshox web site. That is me in the left seat and Jo in the right. This was taken at a small gathering we had at the Lago Vista airport a few years ago during their first visit. The occasion was the first flight since restoration of Lyle Alexander's 1936 Rearwin Sportster. If you want to look around for more photos of the event on the Futurshox web site you will find a couple more photos of my RV-6 and maybe a couple more of one of my old Tri-Pacers.

Been getting in some good running since getting moved into downtown Austin. I generally head out west on Barton Springs Rd. along the south side Zilker Park until I get to Mopac, then north under the bridge to get on the Town Lake Hike and Bike Trail. From there I go east on the trail to the Lamar Street bridge where I get off the trail and use the sidewalks for the short run back to Pecan Grove. Takes about 35 or 40 minutes to make the circuit.

Here, on the left, is a view of the Lamar Street bridge from the trail.

On the right is a photo of the foot bridge across the Colorado River which, at this point along it's course to the Gulf of Mexico, is called Town Lake.

Below, I am including a photo of the Capitol taken from the Hike and Bike Trail from just west of the Lamar Street bridge. In fact the Lamar Street Bridge is visible in the lower part of the photo just below the capitol dome.

I think the trail system in Austin is probably one of the best in the nation. It is definitely one of the top reasons we enjoy living downtown so much. The Austin Parks and Recreation Department maintains over 50 miles of well surfaced, scenic trails in Austin. The one we use most often is the Town Lake Hike and Bike Trail which is 10.1 miles in length.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Season end for Blues on the Green

Yesterday was the season ending edition of the KGSR sponsored Blues on the Green concert series. The 2006 season closed with a bang with Joe Ely and Double Trouble. It was a huge crowd and below is a photo of about 25% of them.

Sure hate to see it all end. It was a fun season and we are looking forward to next year.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Where is the Outrage?

I didn't start this blog to do a lot of ranting but, I think I am entitled to one every so often, so here goes. If you are one of the few still clinging to the belief that the war in Iraq has something to do with the war on terrorism, then this rant is for you. If you know better but, are not saying anything about it, then this rant is for you too. The vast majority of thinking people in the world know full well, that the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld, Axis of Evil, took this country to war under false pretenses. Everyone, at least privately, knows they manipulated the intelligence to exaggerate the threat and, by so doing, have killed over 2,500 America boys and girls, given life altering injuries to over 15,000 American boys and girls, and killed or injured hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians. They have destroyed our standing with the rest of the civilized world and put this country in debt hole that it will take decades to climb out of.

Are you outraged by this? If so, then show it! Begin expressing your outrage, talk to your friends and family, encourage them to express their outrage. Not long ago a former President was impeached because he couldn't keep his pants zipped and didn't want to admit that fact to the entire planet. Now, I was no particular fan of that president but, tell me, where is the equity? If you resent warrant less wiretapping of your phone calls and emails, then shout your outrage from the rooftops! If you resent being told you are unpatriotic if you don't support Shrub's phony war in Iraq, then say something about it. If you resent being subjected to Orwellian laws such as the “Patriot Act”, then make yourself heard. You may have a bigger voice than you think. Talk to everyone you know and encourage them to do the same. Start a blog and see to it that it gets passed around and linked to. Do what you can to put a stop to these abuses. If enough finally say, "I have had enough" we can throw the smirking little draft dodger who started all this out of office. Actually, that is probably just wishful thinking with a GOP controlled congress but, that is an issue for another rant.

I promise, something lighter in a few days! : - )

Friday, August 11, 2006

What a way to start a day!

How long has it been since you had one of those days when you think you just should have stayed in bed? Mine started at the crack of 10:00 AM this morning; my latest did, anyway. I should have gotten back in bed, and I would have, if it was not already getting close to lunch time.

First thing, I walk over and open the cabinet to retrieve the coffee to get our morning wakeup going and the coffee can comes flying out of the cabinet and hits me right in the forehead. It kind of pissed me off but, I was over it in five seconds. After all it didn't even hit me with the sharp edge and the lid somehow stayed on as it continued on down to bounce around on the floor.

Now I have the coffee going and get ready to have my cereal. My bowl is missing! My inquiry sets me back some when I get the reply, “It was cracked and I threw it away, just get you another one.” Some people might ask, at this point, what's the big deal? Well, people that have to ask a stupid question like that probably don't have a favorite shirt that has been worn so thin that it is nearly impossible to put on without ripping. They probably don't get new underwear when their wife slips out of bed in the middle of the night to throw the old ones away and replace them in the drawer with new ones. They have never mourned the replacement of a perfectly good tooth brush that still had half it's bristles. If these things sound weird to you, then you can probably eat cereal out of any old bowl. I, however, want to eat my cereal out of the same bowl from which I always eat cereal. And I can't help it! OF COURSE, this is sick, you know it, I know it, we all know it, but, it is not going to change in this lifetime.

OK, I have a new cereal bowl now and am still cautiously progressing further into the day. I open another cabinet to get my cereal and I swear, I am not making this up, it comes flying out and hits me right square in the forehead, right in the same spot the coffee can did. No harm done, it's just a box of cereal, it didn't even spill but, this day is not starting off right, at all!

I walk over to the refrigerator to get the milk. If I had been paying attention, I would have probably heard the music from “Jaws” playing on my way over. I reach in and pick up the milk and it slips out of my hand as if I was not even holding it. I honestly do not believe I have simply dropped something in 25 years. But, this morning a half gallon of milk hit the floor and, yes, the lid came off and that jug laid there going glug, glug, glug on the floor while I starred in disbelief. At this point, I really did think I should just get back in bed and curl up in the fetal position.

All that happened within the course of five minutes this morning. Fortunately, the milk incident was the low point of the day. Right after my coffee I went out and had a nice run and, although I was a little worried I might get run over by a car or have a tree fall on me, it went well.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Friday Night at the Spoke

After having lived here in Austin for 25 years, last night, we decided it was finally time to pay our respects to an Austin landmark so, we went to the Broken Spoke. When someone finds out you like to go honky tonkin', the first question they always ask is, “Do you go to the Spoke?” Well, now we can say, “We did, but we don't any more.” It's just one of those things that once is enough.

Now, I am not one to run down an Austin institution, so I am certainly not going to start that now. Anyway, I think the Spoke is going to do just fine without me, so it is obvious not everyone is going to agree with my observations. Let me say, up front, that the Broken Spoke looks every bit the part of the classic Texas honky tonk. The gravel parking lot, formica tables, creaky – slanting floors, and seven foot – smoke stained ceilings all scream, “Honky Tonk!” To top it off, you won't find a better chicken fried steak anywhere.

So, you ask, “What's the problem?” I'm glad you asked. The Broken Spoke bills itself as a serious place to dance. The web site boasts of all the great dancers that come out. A sign on the front doors brags that, “Through these doors come the greatest dancers in Texas.” Based upon those statements, I was expecting some very good dancing. There may have been, in fact, a couple of pretty good dancers there but, we will never know because no one can make their way around the small concrete floor for all the tourists and eight year olds jamming up, what should be, the fast lane. I would venture to say 90% of the dancers had never had a lesson in CW dancing and were clueless about dance floor etiquette. Honestly, I think most were there to dance a couple of hours so they could buy the T-shirt that says, “I danced at the Broken Spoke.” Many were oblivious to the progressive nature of CW dancing and you will see people doing swing in all areas of the floor, people anchored in place in the fast lane, people teaching their eight year old daughter to dance, etc. And, while I am thinking about it, what in hell's name are young kids doing in a honky tonk?! The management must be idiots for letting them in and, what does is say about the DUMB ASS parents for bringing them?!

I think that is enough said about why I am not going back to the Broken Spoke for anything more than eating a chicken fried steak and why, their web site is no longer listed in my bookmarks. Believe me, for dancing, there are plenty of other places around Austin to find a nice, smooth oak floor, where the dancers know how it works, and no one under 21 will ever be allowed to stick their heads in the door. The slogan at the Dallas Nightclub on Burnet Road is “Still a two step above the rest” and, after 26 years, is still a hard place to beat.

I probably should not even mention the band at the Spoke last night. It was the James Hand Band and it was not their fault that the dancing sucks at the Spoke. They are actually a pretty good band but, if you ask if they were worth the $10 cover, I would have to say, definitely not. Not bad, but equal to a thousand other bands that play for a percentage of the bar plus tips. If you are going to see them and have to pay a cover, don't bother. Two small criticisms I would make was that until they got warmed up they had to hunt around for the beat some. This pretty much disappeared after half an hour or so. Secondly, their set list needs work. I listened for an hour and a half before I had had enough and they never played a single Waltz. I, personally, hate to Waltz but, I know a lot of people like it. They played a run of Polkas that just made me wonder what they were thinking. During the first, maybe three couples got up to dance. Maybe they thought everybody just forgot to get up, so they played another Polka in which maybe four couples danced. By the third Polka in a row I believe these guys were saying, “Screw you, we are sticking to our set list whether you like it or not.”

Anyway, that was our Friday night this week. We still had a good time in spite of the lousy dancing and there was one thing that made the entire evening worth while. We ran into an old friend, Kaye Delancy, that we had lost track of about 10 years ago. It was the highlight of the evening!