Austin blooms

 Being a consumer

I cannot believe how much of a consumer I am at this moment. I'm a consumer of the style I detest, and it's frustrating.

I was heading home, flying out of Austin in about ninety minutes, and was hungry. Since the adventure to Salt Lick was so entertaining, I sought out the Salt Lick at the airport. Sure, the experience wasn't going to be quite the same, but, well I was still in Texas, and when in Texas, the only food worth eating is the barbecue, even if it's airport food.

The meal was handed to me oversized. The portions were gigantic. The meal included the bread I requested not to receive (since I wasn't going to eat it), cold potatoes (which were tasty when hot at the original Salt Lick, but not cold at the airport), more cole slaw than a starving rabbit could eat in a weekend, enough extra sauce to drown said rabbit and a pile of incredibly tasty sausage.

When I was done eating, I think I ended up throwing away more trash from that one meal than I'll normally throw away in a week at home. First to go was the large styrofoam container that I used for all of 15 minutes, which seemed like such a waste. Also went out the bread (see, I didn't eat it, just like I wasn't planning on doing so when I ordered "no bread"). The potatoes went out, sadly not as tasty as the ones two nights ago. The plastic fork, knife and spoon went, too. I'm still at a loss for why I even received a spoon. Four napkins went out. The cup went out. The bag the whole thing came it went out, too. The whole pile felt like six pounds of trash.

Six pounds of consumer trash, multiplied by the hundreds of people who go through there a day?

That's a lot of consumer waste. A lot that I'm embarrassed I contributed to.

 Journey to Salt Lick

I really should be writing about my adventures at SxSW. The feel of this conference is way different than most tech conferences are about technology with a little fun in the evenings. This one has a very entertainment focus: multiple parties scheduled each night, with technical sessions thrown in so that you can submit the conference and tickets for company reimbursement. I think because of this focus, people come to the conference expecting to have fun, which is why I think every does have a good time.

Continuing that expected good time, Dylan organized a journey for twenty four of his closest friends, and me. Cal invited me in passing, and Dylan agreed he had space for one more person, so after a nap, I joined the group in the lobby to shuffle into cars.

I really, really should have clued in that this was going to be a rough trip when the driver admitted she had lost her parking ticket for the car. The one she had received less than two hours before.

I think we missed five of the first six turns on the way to the Salt Lick. We missed the first turn onto the 1. We missed the next turn onto the 1. We turned around and came back and missed the next four turns to recover our way. We spent the first forty five minutes of our what-should-have-been a-thirty-five-minute trip driving out from downtown Austin then back to Austin, before we were finally back on track for our journey.


(Cal's photo)

Best quote of the drive?

The driver commented, "I'm in Texas so I rented this big car, thinking it would be a comfy ride."

The response?

"What? You couldn't get one with horns on the hood?"

The barbecue at the Salt Lick was worth the drive (though, the extended drive, I'm not so sure). The food was amazing. Stef recommended we leave room for the blackberry cobbler. She was right, though not completely stuffing oneself at the Salt Lick is really difficult.

Admittedly, the drive out was compounded with thunderstorms and heavy rain. At one point, someone asked, "It's this how all horror movies start?" Nervous laughter. The drive back, though much quicker, was just as rough: we had full stomachs and the erratic driving continued. "Watch out for the guard rail!"

So, I'm two for two on Texas barbecue.

 Driving away

As I arrived at the hotel last night/tonight (it's 1AM), I spent a few moments trying to unload my two bags I had in the seat with me. My backpack caught on the seatbelt connector, making the easy exit from the shuttle van much more of an ordeal than it needed to be.

Fortunately, my bag struggle gave the driver enough time to walk around the van and open the door for me.

After exiting the van, I walked to the back of the van for my other bag. To my surprise, the driver walked back around to the front of the van. I thought this odd, but went ahead and opened the back of the van to get my other bag.

I had my hand on my bag just as the driver put the van into gear and started driving away.

I quickly clenched and held it still as the van pulled away out from under the bag. The other passengers in the van, the ones with three other bags in the back of the van, the van with the back door wide open, started hollering at the driver to stop. Two car lengths later, he stopped the van.

In a daze, he hopped out of the van and walked around to the back. I'm not sure what he was thinking when I tipped him anyway.

Somehow I feel this is going to signal how this trip is going to go: not the way I want or expect it to go, but everything will work out just fine.

 Journey to SxSW

I'm on my way to Austin tonight. Seems odd to be heading off on a trip without Kris. I'm not sure why, it just does.

I managed to find my Southwest Rapid Rewards ticket and book a fairly good flight from San Jose to Austin. The total flight time is around five hours (figuring-out only mid-flight there were two stops, one in Los Angeles and one in El Paso, neither of which I realized when I booked the flight). The departure and arrival times are fantastic, fitting in with my class schedule and most of my weekend plans and event schedule, so I'm pleased with my $7.50 roundtrip ticket.

What I am surprised about, however, is what I'm doing with the dead time on the way to Austin.

I have a five hour flight (well, three one and a half hour flights, but who's counting?), in which I can ben remarkably productive. I have my laptop, my list of projects (somewhere here...), my list of cards, and two laptop batteries that should together last me about seven hours.

Yet, I slept during one flight. And not just slept, but gone to the world, close my eyes, open them an hour and a half later, only to realize we're on our initial descent. Kris is the one who can sleep like that, not me.

Though, my having the entire row to myself helped, I'd guess.

I want to be productive. I need to be productive. Yet, I feel disjoint, unconnected.

Maybe I just need some down time. A moment to be alone. Alone in a crowd of a thousand people.

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