Friday, August 31, 2007

A Not-So-International Incident at DFW

I finally got back to Austin around 11:15 this morning. I am pretty well spent at this point. My flight from Atlanta got off fine, but the flight from DFW to Austin was delayed and gate-switched three times. At least I got to see Terminal D, the new international terminal at DFW.

Terminal D definitely the nicest and most amenity-filled terminal at DFW. Several high-end retailers and restaurants like Reata Grill compete with standard fare like Starbucks and McDonald's. However, DFW is having to fill Terminal D's gate space with unexotic hops to Austin because significant additional international traffic hasn't materialized.

Between 9/11, Delta's 2005 closure of its DFW hub and Houston's preeminence as the second biggest Latin American gateway next to Miami, Terminal D still has a way to go before it can truly be called "international."

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Georgia Ate My Mind

Bad weather has conspired to keep me stuck in Atlanta for yet another evening. My 7pm flight to Dallas/Fort Worth was canceled, which scotched my connection to Austin, so the soonest I can get out of here is 6:50am tomorrow.

I'm now sitting in a Residence Inn a short distance from the airport. Because the cancellation was weather-related, American Airlines wouldn't comp my room. I'm taking it on faith that I'll be able to get these unapproved expenses reimbursed. They do have free Internet here, though.

When I was a single man living alone, getting stuck in Atlanta wouldn't have bothered me much. Now I'm stalking around like Steve Martin in Planes, Trains and Automobiles because I can't get home to Kate tonight.

At least I won't be sleeping with John Candy's hand twixt my pillows.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Band on the Runs

The Ron Titter Band played at the Parlor last night. It was a bit slippy and the PA was crap, but none of that would've mattered much to me if my gastrointestinal tract hadn't gone into uncontrollable spasms right before we started.

It was ugly. I wasn't sure I was going to make it through the show. Fortunately, our performance didn't turn into an erstwhile tribute to G.G. Allin. Something like that would've really put a nasty dent in pizza sales, though I should note that whatever I ate didn't come from the Parlor.

Right now I'm in suburban Atlanta for a social marketing conference at the Centers for Disease Control. They've put us up at a Marriott, which is nice enough, but not close to anything. All my friends in touring bands say I need to see a bizarre, low-rent topless bar called the Clermont Lounge (NSFW) on Ponce de Leon. Don't know if I'll make it there or not.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Scooped in San Antonio

Now that Kate has her own blog, we've entered a sort of competition when it comes to giving accounts of joint activities. Whoever posts first gets the scoop.

Our weekend jaunt to San Antonio to celebrate my parents' 41st anniversary is a perfect example. While I was out mowing the lawn yesterday afternoon, Kate was keying in a blog entry about our trip. Now all I have to write about is how nice the lawn looks. Such is life for a Texan male suffering from Hank Hill complex.

Actually, though, I think Kate's perspective is particularly interesting because she was experiencing San Antonio as a New Englander. I can't do that no matter how much chowder I eat. So go to her blog now and see what we've been up to.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Rangers First to Score 30 Runs Since 1897

Looks like there's a new contender for greatest moment in Texas Rangers history this evening.

However, I still think a 30-3 rout late in a typically dismal season pales in comparison to 1974's Ten Cent Beer Night Riot in Cleveland and the time Nolan Ryan repeatedly punched Robin Ventura on the pitcher's mound in 1993.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Titter in the Parlor Next Monday!

This Monday, August 27, put your first-day-of-school willies to bed with a long, tall glass of The Ron Titter Band. We’ll be bringing our rock ‘n’ roll and attempted soul shebang to the Parlor, 100-B E. North Loop, starting at 9pm.

Joining us will be 7 Inch Stitch, featuring ex-Texas Instrument and fellow state worker Clay Daniel on guitar. There's no cover (tips gladly accepted), the pizza is good and the beer is cheap.

In short, this is gonna be the most boss Monday night since “How I Met Your Mother” went into reruns.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Judge Rules Wild Oats Can Be Rolled

Federal Judge Paul Friedman ruled yesterday that the $565 million Whole Oats/Wild Foods all-natural corporate commingling can move ahead as planned. Hopefully the IT staff at 6th and Lamar duly disabled John Mackey's message board access well in advance of the ruling.

The Federal Trade Commission, which tried to block the merger on antitrust concerns, is expected to appeal. Whole Foods Market has already announced plans to sell off Wild Oats' Sun Harvest stores to a private equity concern.

In non-redacted FTC court documents erroneously released to the press earlier this week, it was also revealed that Whole Foods negotiates agreements with suppliers that prohibit them from selling to Wal-Mart and that the Austin-based company is considering closing 30 or more Wild Oats stores to boost revenue at nearby Whole Foods stores.

If I were Trader Joe's, I'd see this merger as a tremendous growth opportunity. While TJ's officially denies plans to move into Austin, rumors persist.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Burrito-Stuffed and Tax Free

Kate told me about a hell of a good deal going on at Austin area Chipotle locations today. If you buy a burrito today and save your receipt, they'll give you another burrito for free on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. This deal will net you two burritos for about six bucks. I'm eating one right now and the bargain factor is making it taste twice as delicious.

Sorry I didn't get this posted before lunch, but there's no law saying you can't scarf a burrito for dinner.

Chipotle's offer is designed to cash in on the celebration surrounding our state's forthcoming Sales Tax Holiday, which begins Friday. Remember, vintage/thrift store clothes and shoes under $100 are just as tax-free this weekend as the new duds.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Sunday at the Springs

Kate and I have cultivated something of a ritual this summer. At some point during the weekend, she will ask me if I want to go swimming at Barton Springs Pool. I will immediately go into anxiety mode and start rambling about all my undone chores and encroaching deadlines. I will also complain about crowds and parking, which will sometimes spiral into a caffeinated rant about modern life in general that ends in the conclusion that I suck for being so deft at coming up with reasons why I don’t want to do anything.

Nevertheless, Kate will persist and convince me that it is in my best interest to go swimming. So we’ll drive down to Barton Springs and park in the gravel lot off Robert E. Lee because I’m too cheap to pay $3 to park next to the main entrance. We’ll get our towels situated in the shade on the grassy hillside overlooking the pool. Then Kate will walk down to the pool and dive in. I’ll stand at the edge for what seems like several minutes, not wanting to jump in because I know it will be cold as hell.

Once the desire to avoid looking like a wuss has thoroughly overwhelmed me, I jump in. Time slows as my feet leave the edge and gravity beckons my white ass down into the greenish water. Once I’m submerged, all my anxieties cease. Deadlines and insecurities mean nothing. The only thing on my mind is how cold the water is. Every plunge into Barton Springs is a moment of clarity.

Eventually, discomfort gives way to relaxation as my body realizes the cold water is actually a fine elixir to the oppressive heat. I alternate between floating on my back and frolicking with Kate. When I climb out of the water, my skin buzzes in the heat, my core temperature seems noticeably lower and my brain feels like it has been rebooted.

As we leave, I thank Kate for pressing the issue and tell her for the umpteenth time that I only swam in Barton Springs once in 19 years of living in Austin before I met her. I tell her to remind me about how much I enjoyed myself next time I resist going to Barton Springs, knowing full well the entire ritual will repeat itself the following weekend.

Friday, August 10, 2007

A Hunka Hunka Burnin' Leave

The State of Texas, in its infinite wisdom, has decreed that its loyal and faithful servants may only carry forward a certain amount of annual leave each year.

Although the number of hours increases with longevity, if you don't take leave often enough, you'll wind up having your excess annual leave convert to sick leave at the end of the state's fiscal year (August 31). This is like flushing money down the bog because you can't cash out sick leave if you quit the state.

It just so happens I entered this month with over 50 hours of excess annual leave, so now I'm trying to burn it off by staying home on Fridays. Unfortunately, this burn-off coincides with what is turning out to be a rather busy month at work. I still have to maintain radio contact with the office and even if I didn't, my current wave of writing assignments is making off-days just as busy as workdays.

I know I'm lucky to have decent leave benefits (at least for this stingy country), but I sure hate being forced to use or lose time. I suppose I could've planned a nice vacation, but it wouldn't have been much fun without Kate along. I feel like I'm squandering time I'll look back and wish I had in a few years.

On the plus side, at least I don't have to get dressed or shower in the morning unless I choose to do so for my own edification. And what's a little ripeness between me, myself and I?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Rant from a Future Reverse Snowbird

Say what you will about gloomy gray skies and daily flash flood warnings, but I already miss our insane summer rains.

August is kicking my ass and we haven't even broken the century mark yet. The fact that my car's AC is fritzed out certainly doesn't help matters.

Like most native Texans, I'll take blazing heat over bitter cold any day. There's definitely something to be said for non-work days spent lollygagging around town in a sweaty T-shirt and shorts ensemble, just letting yourself "become one" with the heat.

Unfortunately, I'm finding it harder to go with this line of thought as I age. The heat seems to be getting to me more and more with each passing summer.

I'm normally not given to publicly airing my life goals because I don't want to have to hold myself publicly accountable in the event I fail to reach them, but I aspire to spend the Augusts of my September years someplace far away from Texas. A Minnesota lake house would do fine, but I'd just as gladly invest in a time-share trailer somewhere in rural Alberta if that's what it takes.

Monday, August 06, 2007

A Hard Day's Night of the Living Dead

My pal Kent B. was playing this on his laptop at the Dog & Duck a couple of weeks back. It's definitely one of the more entertaining movie trailer mash-ups I've seen.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Ron Titter Band Saturday at Room 710

Having risen above the maladies and mayhem that have conspired to keep us from giving America a roundhouse kick in the arse, The Ron Titter Band goes back into action at 10pm this Saturday night (August 11) at Room 710.

We'll be opening for Super Heavy Goat Ass (1am), Split Hoof (12am) and Marshall Dylan (10pm). So bring your fists, for they shall be pumped!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

A Chili Reception

I just opened a notice saying the Cattle Drive Chicken Chili I purchased at Costco in bulk a couple of weeks back is being voluntarily recalled because the USDA and CDC are investigating possible botulism contamination of the product. A full list of canned meat products that are part of this recall can be found here.

I've already consumed two cans of the chili and have yet to notice any overt symptoms of botulism. Nevertheless, I will dispose of the remaining cans as directed and apply for a full refund.

Assuming I don't get sick, this is just like getting two free cans of chili. Sweet!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Blowout at the Bell

In a nod to the halcyon days of the 59-79-99 menu, the Taco Bell at 7211 Burnet Rd. is selling 49-cent tacos today. This steal of a deal is only good today at the Burnet Rd. location, so cancel those Wink and Uchi dinner reservations now.

I drove by said Taco Bell during lunch and they had some poor soul out front jumping around in a taco suit. It got my attention but made me sad. You do not want to be wearing a taco suit outdoors in Texas during the month of August.

Even worse, they’re calling this sale event a “Taco Blowout,” which I believe is a particularly unfortunate choice of words.