Eric conveys Celebrity Flinching


Back when (and I mean waaaaaaay back when) I played on Special K, my teammate David Bailey (that's Mr. David W. Bailey to you) showed me the site of his roommate, Eric. Eric's site Eric Conveys an Emotion had me laughing for a long time, and some of the images still make me laugh. Some time later, David moved out of his place, both of us stopped playing for Special K, and neither of us ever talked about Eric again.

Fast forward five, six, oh crap I'm getting old, seven years, and at the Yahoo Hack Day, I passed Eric standing at the registration table talking to someone I was waiting to talk to. I smiled, became all excited, and asked, wait, wait, are you Emotion Eric? He looked at me sheepishly, almost embarrassed, and said yes, he was. His body language was very clear he wasn't exactly excited about being recognized, so I introduced myself, said I was happy to meet him, and continued on my way.

Well, tonight, as fate would have it, our paths would cross again.

I left the plane in Las Vegas, and found myself strangely overcome with incredible joy at seeing not only the one food I was craving on the flight from Austin (that would be yogurt), but also a row of Odwalla juices, which I had been craving the entire time I was in Austin. I thought about walking to the nearest Whole Foods (which was a mere 1.2 miles away from the hotel), but hadn't found the time. To think, here in Vegas-baby-Vegas, I would find both items available not forty feet from the exit ramp and 20 feet closer than the nearest restroom. Clearly Vegas-baby-Vegas is a haven for, well, I can't finish that sentence.

A few moments later, I was happily downing my yogurt, Starbucks Chocolate Creme Frappacino in hand (not the double chocolate one with the annoying chocolate chips in it that taste like little rocks, and not the coffee-chocolate one that makes me want to vomit, no, the chocolate one, and this one was chocolate), an indulgence I partake on each and every trip I take (and very rarely at other times, it seems), watching something bad on television, might have been American Idol. During some Diana Ross commentary about some large dude completely bastardizing her music, I turned to see Emotion Eric sitting four seats over from me.

I couldn't resist.

I reached into my bag, pulled out my camera, turned off the flash (must not startle the celebrities now, even Intarweb™ ones), and, doing my best to suppress the gales of laugher trying to escape my lips, snapped a picture of Eric.

Just before the click, he looked over at me. In the same expression he had done months before, he looked embarrassed. By the time I caught the look, however, I was laughing too hard. I introduced myself again, and we talked for a while about his site, the Yahoo Hack day (and the buttons I made, which he remembered), David Bailey and his Intraweb™ celebrity status. On the plane, we sat in the same row (there being only about 25 people on the plane, we were the only two not to have three seats each) and continued talking. The flight was entertaining, with a mad dash to finish the intermediate level sudoku before the plane landed.

Happily we finished.

I wonder if Eric will recognize me the next time I giggle and pull out my camera. Or if next time, he'll run away in terror of the crazy stalking lady...

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.



On this last day of SxSW for me, it's interesting to see the transition from Interactive to Music attendees.

Walking back and forth between the convention center and the hotel, I've seen many people with a green neckband, rifling around in the bags for all the advertisement and conference goodies.

At least they didn't have to wait in the lines we did for the interactive registration:

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.

First Texas BBQ!


After the disaster of lunch, where we walked first to the close BBQ joint, then to the close grill, then around the corner and down the street for Mexican food (only to discover they couldn't seat eleven people), then back to the taco grill (only to discover they ran out of food at 12:45, the first day of SxSW) and back up the street to a lovely upscale lunch cafe with fabulous food, I glad dinner was a much easier affair.

Cal and I dashed off to the Iron Works Barbecue restaurant for dinner and had to wait all of maybe 10 minutes for food. Cal had been there the night before, had the brisket, and decided to try another item on the menu. He ended up ordering a pound of pork. It was good pork. Really good pork.

So, apparently, Cal had never seen me eat barbecue or french fries before. The only reason french fries exist in this world is to get ketchup from the packet or bottle to my mouth. If the ratio of tomato to potato isn't at least one to one, either the fast food joint gave me only two packets of ketchup (the scrooges!), or there's a tomato blight in this world and I'm not eating another fry.

After my fourth or fifth grab and squirt! of barbecue sauce from the lovely, easy-to-dispense bottle with the high power, double action tip, Cal commented casually, "That's a lot of sauce."

Friend, you don't know the half of it.

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.