Archive for May, 2008

Something for the weekend Sir? CapTex Triathlon

After last years rain washed out Capital of Texas (CapTex) Triathlon, this year the race is back on Sunday, with a rain date of Monday.

As of of lunchtime today the organizers were still accepting registration for the Olympic distance, Sprint and My First Tri distance races. For the Sprint and My First tri distances, anyone who has swum in open water, biked and run the distances already this year should be able to complete the race on Sunday, why not ??

As for the Olympic distance, it will be interesting indeed to see how the new course works out. The swim will be a single big loop in Lady Bird Lake, and then out for 4-laps up Congress, around the back of the Capital building, back down Congress and a long loop out on Chavez to the High School and back.

In 2006 there were over 2000 total competitors, although many of the early starters, including the pro’s and elites, and the older guys(yes, me) will be on the run and finished before the Sprint and First tri events hit the water, the bike section, especially west on Chavez and down Congress should be the scene of some fast and furious bike racing.

Remembering that in triathlon there is no cycling in packs, riders can’t be within 3-bike lengths of each other, they either pass or drop back. With 4-laps to do the fast will be mixing with the slow, the young with the old, a recipe for fun racing!

PARKING: I was delighted to see the map and instructions both advise that parking fees were charged at all city lots AND that there is “NO” parking(their emphasis) in the Bouldin Creek and Zilker neighborhoods and the maps contains clear no parking symbols in the neighborhood areas. With all the hassle over parking at the Long Center recently, often overlooked are the Nieghborhoods who have almost continual road closures and event parking hassles to deal with every weekend. If you are attending the race either as a competitor or to come watch the bike race, please park considerately, use the official lots, or better still bring your bike, walk, jog, or take a bus.

The best place to watch the race, will either be around the transition area at Aditorium Shores, or I’d go on the Town Lake Footbridge, you can go from the middle for the swim, to the north end for the bike, down to the south end for the run!

BRIDGE AND ROAD CLOSURES: As discussed, the Bike course has changed this year, S 1st and Congress bridges will be closed from early Sunday I’d guess until around lunchtime.

The run and bike routes are a good compromise. The road closures are minimized to Riverside, Lee Barton Dr for the run, and to Chavez and Congress for the bike, hopefully you won’t be too inconvenienced.

My race starts at 7.03am after the Pro’s and I plan to be finished by 9:30. The last swimmers start in Lady Bird Lake at 9:27am.

[Insert name here] Come on down and no jokes about people wearing spandex on the bus!

Save Austin

Save Austin…

I wonder what the person who tagged this photo of people running and biking on the hike and bike trail was thinking? I don’t think it was merely copyediting the ad, which is for one of the new condo developments on Barton Springs Road near Zilker. I think it was one of those people who has also tagged bathrooms at places like Lovejoys – “Yuppies Out of East Austin” and the like.

What are we saving Austin for, or from? Well, I think it’s obviously a way of life that we’re trying to save. We’re also trying to save the beautiful natural environment. Wow, those are two really big things, to begin with.

One thing that really enfuriates me is the wonton demolition of existing structures – like the old Waterloo Brewing Company (more recently Fox and Hound), which was documented here back in March.

Maybe one way to preserve a bit more of Austin, or at least slow down some development and ensure that perfectly good materials don’t go to waste, would be a city requirement that certain buildings be disassembled, as opposed to simply demolished. Perhaps this possibility has been discussed? If there is any movement in that direction, please let me know – I’ll show up at City Council to support it, for sure.

Austin City Limits TV Notes: New Newsletter and REM Episode

rem_aclAustin City Limits is launching a new newsletter with a contest. You can win tickets to a My Morning Jacket taping on Monday, August 25th. If you don’t live in Austin, they’ll fly you here via American Airlines. If you’re not a big My Morning Jacket fan (and I’m not), there’s still an incentive to join the mailing list to get info on ticket and contest announcements. The signup page is here.

Also, don’t forget that the REM episode taped during this year’s SXSW will air this Saturday, March 24th at 7pm locally on KLRU. The set list appears to be heavy on the new album with almost nothing before 1990 on the set list. “Bad Day” is apparently a b-side and my pre-date Losing My Religion, but I’m not sure. Otherwise, there’s not much there for die-hard 80s REM fans.

PS Note to ACL people, why bury a banner ad for the episode in a Flash animation? Make it easy for people like me to get the image to plug the show. Don’t make me take a screen shot and then crop it myself.

Roadfood hits the pits

Gone are the days when long lunches were not infrequent, when thoughts turned to Lockhart and everybody took off in the same direction. Those now earning a living wage no longer enjoy the freedom allowed when Austin was a part-time, minimum-wage place for nearly everyone. This month’s Gourmet magazine isn’t giving it away for free, but the Sterns of Roodfood fame mark out the quandrangle formed by the smoky shrines of Lockhart, Taylor, Luling, and Elgin, not necessarily in that order. They’re paying particular attention to sausage. My personal favorite is hometown Smokey Denmark, but we’re all entitled to our opinions. Cough up the bucks for the mag, check out pages 28 through 30 of the June issue, on the stands now, take it to work, and start an argument at lunchtime tomorrow.

Exercise for free – My top 5

I ran down the trail the other day, along the north side to the Mopac bridge, while taking a brief rest before setting off back on the south side, I saw something that reminded me what a great free resource the trail is and started me thinking about other cool free exercise related things here in Austin. These are mine, got any others ? Post a comment.

1. RunTex Water Barrels. This was got me thinking. While sat there getting my breath back, a woman in a skirt sports running skirt and yellow v-neck cotton top, ran in, stopped, took a drink from the RunTex supplied and supported water barrels. Next up she refilled the small paper cup, pulled her top forward and pured the water down. How great is RunTex for providing, stocking and filling the water butts at both end of the trail!

2. Austin Tri Cyclist Saturday rides. No mater how fast I think I’m cycling, showing up for the ride on Saturday morning shows me I’m not. Bang on 8.30am out comes owner Don, gets on his bike waits for a clearing in the traffic and the ride starts, often some 30-riders, sometimes less, sometimes more. I rarely survive with the main pack onto South West Parkway and even when I do I get dropped before Highway 71. Whats the point ? Well if you don’t try, you’ll never improve. The ride is about 32-miles, goes to the corner of 71 and Bee Caves, back along the winding hills of Bee Caves Rd, onto 360 and back through Zilker to the shop, where Don provides Tacos and Coffee. If you get dropped before Bee Caves, don’t give up, a small group often meet up at the cleaners on the corner to finish the ride together.

3. Early Morning Barton Springs Swim. Arrive by 6:45am and you can get a full hour swim for free, any day. I don’t get the wetsuits, I’m sure the triathletes will reason that they need them for race prep, or other excuse, but you really can’t beat the feel of the cool water sliding across your back as you glide through the water. The Life Guards clear the pool at 8am and you need to pay the $3 fee if you want to stay!

4. Blanton 3rd Thursday Yoga. On the 3rd Thursday of the month you can go visit the Blanton, it’s free. Take your Yoga gear and you can go do an hour of Yoga in the main gallery, stay on for the book club, or just walk around the galleries.

5. Full moon Yoga. If you are inspired and reading today Monday 19th, tonight is the next of Charles MacInerney Full Moon Yoga sessions. Show up tonight by 7.30pm with a mat or a blanket and stretch through Charles relaxed and somewhat informal Yoga instruction, when the class is over, sit and watch as the Sun goes down and the Moon comes up. I’d recommend taking a top to keep warm afterwards as well.

So, those are my current top-5, got any to add, am I missing something important?

Kuisine cuisine discovered anew

We used to buy samosa in fairly large quantities, ones made by Kala’s Kuisine and almost always available at MGM Indian Foods, among other places. Then this tasty item was not to be found; the word was that Kala had stopped bringing this vegetarian treat around and we couldn’t find it anywhere, but we missed it and always kept hoping to find it again.

It must have been a matter of looking in the wrong places or of giving up too soon. We’ve just found Kala’s samosa again, at the Farm to Market Grocery on South Congress. Somebody reports that Kala’s Kuisine is at Wheatsville, too. These days, there’s a samosa trio packed in a clear case along with a tamarind sauce.

This food tastes just as good as it ever did: wonderful! I’m so glad to have noticed it there in the cold case. I find the included tamarind sauce (ingredients listed as tamarind, dates, pineapple, tomato paste, ginger, salt, and spices) a bit too sweet for me and so accompany the samosa treat with mint chutney, but others like the tamarind accompaniment almost better than the samosa itself! Potatoes don’t taste any better than this.

Austin simplicity elusive

So an Austin family plans to seek the simple life in Vermont (“Imagine No Possessions,” byline Ralph Blumenthal and Rachel Mosteller, NYT 5/17/08). Cage Free Family is the blog that documents the efforts to shed material possessions and lead a different life in the Green Mountain State, location to be determined. This is a bold attempt at taking a new direction. One can’t help but wonder, though: why Vermont? why not here in Austin? Doesn’t it seem as though the path envisioned may lead to a more complicated existence and not a simpler one? The blog is receiving a lot of comments, and I intend to follow it with interest to see just how this adventure proceeds.

At the brisketeria

Richard Jones Pit BBQ, South Congress
I’ve always been one of those standing outside the window at the Richard Jones Pit BBQ on Congress, just like these people today. Our intention had been to go to Matt’s to enjoy the people-watching on this UT graduation day. There was space in the parking lot, but the tables were full, the waiting area was full, and a line stretched outdoors. We were too late or too early. We thought we’d pick up some brisket for fine home dining, but the line at the Pit window inspired us to go inside and take a table for the very first time ever. Some diners were enjoying their breakfast; others thought that lunchtime had arrived.

We took a booth and there was food on the table within seconds. Service was friendly and efficient. All is spotless. Here’s some of what came to the table: brisket, potato salad, cole slaw, French fries, cornbread, sausage, beans, and a basket containing break, Saltines, and real butter. Remaining to be tried in the future are chopped steak, biscuits, the chili dog, and more.

There’s no sign of ketchup on the outside of the brisket. The rub and smoke reach beyond the surface. The side sauce is a sweet one, but there are jalapenos, Louisiana hot sauce, and Tabasco sauce available for asking so that those who need to may doctor any item to heat it up. I like my cornbread to be made from coarse meal, with no sugar added; those who prefer the opposite will find it here. The beans are particularly good. Lovers of chunky potato salad will find salad of a finer texture. Fried okra was in great demand, although not at our table. The indoors diners were a typical group of South Austinites, mixed with a few tourists. This was the first time indoors here for us, but it certainly won’t be the last.

Shoe-repair, locks, babies, menswear, and soup

At the sign of the Golden Slipper
These are all to be found at the sign of the golden slipper. The babies, of course, are not available for purchase; they accompany their nearest and dearest to the store that provides for so many of their material needs. Sharp’s locksmith service and Golden Slipper shoe, boot, and leather repair have been there since forever. The Soup Peddler is not a newcomer. Austin Baby has moved south from its original location and, along with its Ethan Azarian art, has found a new home, and the other recent arrival is Mercury Fashion House for men. Golden Slipper is open from 10 am to 2 pm on Saturdays. I left an item for repair at 10:30 this morning; it was promised to be ready at 12:30 this afternoon and was there for me fifteen minutes early. I love Golden Slipper. This was where magic was worked to successfully restore footgear made unwearable by mold and mildew. No promises were made, but the treatment, whatever it was, worked and the shoes were like new and have been worn ever since. Today’s repair was just as good. I love places that help us to keep our cherished favorites in use so that we don’t have to go out and shop for new items when we’d much rather not. In the picture is part of the handsome example of the sign-painter’s art that embellishes the window of Sharp’s, favorite locksmith of South Austin for many, many years.

Fiat lux

Maybe this entry should be called “blocked at every turn” instead of “let there be light.” Perma-temp construction and event-related street-closings stymied every kind of traffic, whether four-wheeled, two-wheeled, bus, or two-footed. Persistence got us to the library, to the downtown farmers’ market, and to the wondrous Tipler’s Lamp Shop, where repairs to an old cast-iron bridge lamp were completed in minutes and we bought a better lamp shade. Tipler’s will make practically any object into a lamp and can repair any problem that any type of lighting fixture might suffer. Tipler’s carries glass shades for various types of fixtures from the first half of the Twentieth Century and before that and also has glass chimneys for kerosene lamps. Here can be found the best advice and service that anyone could ever want. It’s much larger inside than it appears to be from the street and is truly one of the great unsung resources of Austin. Now a favorite reader’s nook is bright again.

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