Archive for November, 2004

Tesoro Tierra turkey testimonial

Even though it’s not yet Thanksgiving, it was impossible to resist a fresh-killed 18-pound turkey from Tesoro Tierra Farms today. Accompanying it to the table were yellow and green bush beans picked just this morning, courtesy of Patrick, also at the South Austin Farmers’ Market on South Congress Avenue. The texture of this turkey was beautiful and there was no shrinkage as it roasted. Acorn squashes from the market were baked during the last hour that the turkey spent in the oven and were sweet and nutty. Adding some zest to the dressing were beautiful poblano peppers from Franklin Zieschang, also at the market. His peppers of all types always look too pretty too eat, but they’re too tasty not to. All week there has been delicious broccoli and cauliflower from last week’s market. And I almost forgot the eggplant. All these provisions from one tiny market! This market is open the year ’round each Saturday, with few exceptions. This coming Saturday after Thanksgiving is one of those exceptions, but the larder is stocked and we can wait for two weeks.

Hey, Big Boy, what’s your name?

It’s Doug Sahm, and tonight’s Doug Sahm night at Antone’s. It’s the Doug Sahm hour on KVET. It’s just a sawbuck to get in at the door. The music starts at 6 and goes until whenever, with plenty of the best, including Augie Meyers, many up from San Antonio. “A little bit is better than nada.” We miss you, Doug.

Austin Empty Bowl Project

If you’re looking for something cool to do this weekend and get in the holiday spirit, Clayways is once again sponsoring the Empty Bowl Project. Here’s the details from their site:

The donated bowls will be available for a $15 donation per bowl (or 2 for $25). There is a purchase limit of two bowls per person. When you buy a bowl, you

Think globally. Shop locally owned.

This Saturday (November 20) is Austin Unchained Day, an event that is sponsored by the Austin Independant Business Alliance. From their website: “The event is designed to bring attention to the economic and cultural impact of consumers shopping at only locally owned businesses for one day.”

Keep your money in the Austin community, and shop locally this Saturday.

Factoids from the freebies

Tribeza says wonderful things (as it should) about Chez Nous. Tribeza claims that it reaches more than 60,000 Austinites and that those Austinites have an average annual household income of over $112,000. Does that mean that shoppers at BookPeople and Whole Foods fit that demographic? Those are two places where copies of Tribeza may be found. I always love it when Chez Nous is recognized for the amazing example of Austintude that it is. When Chez Nous opened, it succeeded umpteen failed ventures at that location. Chez Nous survived without any air-conditioning for the longest time, and at first it even served meat that was cut and named according to French, not Texan, custom.

Karen Monsho gets some lively and fairly candid quotes from eastside political movers and shakers who won’t always speak to the press. The article in The Good Life for November is ostensibly about gentrification, but it touches on some of the political tugs-of-war that don’t get much coverage from the local daily.

El Norte continues to hold its own each month in paid ads. According to El Mundo, La Mexicana is now open 24 hours a day. I haven’t been there since it was La Reyna. Maybe there are good crusty bolillos to be found, since the current owner is actually from Mexico. El Mundo had an insert of national-brand coupons. El Norte supported G.O.P. candidates; El Mundo, Democratic ones. El Mundo published quite a lengthy feature on day-laborers waiting for work in Home Depot parking lots.

Lately it’s been tough to keep up with Mujer de madera, but

Fool me once, shame on any parent who trusts this woman

Two different businesses charged with caring for Austin youth have gone out of business this year under shady circumstances. Both times, those businesses were run by Dolores Hillyer. First, there was the Texas Academy of Excellence, a charter school whose biggest claim to fame is that it’s the first one in Texas to file for bankruptcy. Now, there’s the Capital City Creative School-Capitol Complex, a daycare for state workers which shut down abruptly last week.

As a parent who has one child in daycare and another in a charter school, this pattern concerns me. We’re trusting that the people running those businesses have the best interests of our children and our families at heart and we’re trusting that they are competent enough to run their business. I don’t know how this woman keeps getting in a position of trust with the track record that she’s had over the past year (and even before that according to the Statesman story on the charter school). Since she already had control of the daycare when the charter school shenanigans came to light, I can understand how this might have been missed until now. I wonder if any parents at the daycare had suspicions once the charter school story broke earlier this year?

Bottom line: If you’re a parent in Austin, you’d do well to check out who’s running your daycare or charter school. If you hear the name Dolores Hillyer, run. Run very far away.

Some good airline customer service

So, I was flying this past weekend. I was flying on everyone’s favorite, Southwest Airlines. I know they get a bad rap from time to time, but I actually have kudos for them. I was late arriving to the airport for my return flight. Because I arrived with my check-in luggage less than 30 minutes from scheduled departure, my bag didn’t make it on the plane.

Fast forward to ABIA. All the bags come down the ramp and onto the luggage tilt-a-whirl. Mine isn’t there. I enter the SW baggage office and deal with the helpful and friendly Jennifer. The next guy dealt with someone far less helpful and friendly. I lucked out.

I was given updates on the progress of things during the day, and finally, late in the afternoon my bag had arrived. Too bad I was on my way somewhere, and wouldn’t be home for delivery. I offered to come pick it up, since the airport wasn’t too far out of my way. For my trouble, I was given a $50 travel voucher. (When’s that next trip?!) I also got to see the lovely and very friendly and helpful Jennifer – go me!

So, thanks to the nice folks at Southwest, a bad ending to my good weekend was averted.

Popularity breeds theft

I heard about this story (see my standard Statesman link disclaimer at the bottom of this post) on 101X this morning. I’ll resist the obvious puns about Hold ‘Em and hold-up that The Statesman couldn’t seem to resist.

It’s amazing how much interest in poker and Texas Hold ‘Em in particular has grown over the past couple of years. We’ve got a local blogger, transplanted Aussie JK, who dedicates much of his blog to poker. I’m all for his objective of allowing more legal games around the U.S., especially here in Texas (and close to Austin). It’d certainly cut down on the chance of robberies more informal games like the one mentioned in the story. Of course, the likelihood of legalizing poker gambling in a state that doesn’t allow you to buy beer/wine/liquor before noon on a Sunday, an endlessly irritating law that thwarted my beer buying once again yesterday morning, is probably pretty slim.

Standard Statesman Link Disclaimer: The Statesman’s annoying 7 day archive policy will break the first link in this post a week from today. After that, if you’re an Austin Library card holder, you can get to it from their reference databases.

Outsourcing to the customer

Hoping to avoid another excursion to our over-crowded H-E-B this weekend, we flew through the staples aisles at Albertsons. What an unpleasant surprise it was to see that only one check-out register was active. It was marked “express lane, 15 items or less.” The alternative was the new cashierless self-checkout system. My fellow-shopper loudly announced to the world at large that this would be his last shopping trip at Albertsons. Someone, perhaps summoned by the sole visible checker, appeared and asked why. The answer: because Albertsons doesn’t pay me to be a checker. The whole system was crazy anyhow. The store was quite busy, despite the downpour, and most of the customers had full carts and were therefore ineligible for the express (and only) register. I didn’t inspect the self-check stations up close, but they appeared to be tiny. Many of the customers were elderly, probably trying to avoid the excitements of the H-E-B. They weren’t understanding the system at all and were having difficulty dealing with heavier items. From behind the scenes, an additional checker appeared and opened a register. We were the first of a long line of people to avail ourselves of this service. However many the flurries of congratulatory pieces in such publications as Progressive Grocer and on the Web, all based on Albertsons press releases, self-checkout does not make for happny shoppers. Perhaps Mr. Larry Johnston should know about this. The Albertsons slogan is “helping make life easier.”

Clothing commentary at the H-E-B

During yesterday’s evening rush, a manager was going from checkout clerk to checkout clerk, distributing Santa headgear for immediate wear. The checkers weren’t responding with any great show of enthusiasm. A customer waiting in the long line asked why the manager wasn’t wearing one. The checkers laughed. The manager replied, “Because we have to wear these stupid white shirts.” Then everybody laughed. The best H-E-B clothing ever was the Night Stocker tee shirt, red letters on black shirt, worn for a long time, as one might guess, by people on the night shift responsible for restocking the shelves.

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