The flowers are starting to bloom in our backyard. Here is a picture of a special species of Columbine called Remembrance growing on the deck. I found out afterwards that a portion of the sales goes to increasing “diversity and tolerance” in public schools. I wish we could take it back to the store and, instead, buy a plant that promotes “math and history” in public schools.
Butler took me over to the new swimming pool and beach facility they built in the middle of the UT campus. It was crazy! The scene was of the scale and quality level of some of those higher-end pools in Vegas. Inside is one of the nicest and largest gym/workout facilities I have ever seen, and the whole thing costs only $450 for the year. I’m pretty sure my tax money goes to subsidize this, but I don’t want to think about it.
I’ve taken to running in Zilker Park in the late afternoons. Zilker runs on the south side of Town Lake and it has a very nice jogging trail along the water that is filled with 50% fit people and 50% very strange people. I’ve noticed that Austin seems to attract some extremely strange people that look like they just barely can get by on a day-to-day basis, yet they find the time and resources to lounge around Zilker Park and drink bottled water.
The first picture shows the jogging trail along the water with some shirtless guys sporting non-religious tattoos. The second shows some bat droppings under a bridge. The third shows the Austin City Hall taking up an extremely valuable piece of real estate on the waterfront, which is just what I would expect from a fairly communist city. The fourth shows a fountain at the park and a building that looked really cool in the early 80’s.
The pain value of the run was somewhere between Abu Grab and listening to George Clooney speak his mind.
As we started the race, the announcer said this is the hilliest 5K in the world, and I don’t doubt it. It starts out with a half mile ascent straight up this 20% graded hill and that is the easiest hill of the run. I felt good because some young 18 year old punk shot out ahead and made it to the top of the first hill, but he petered out and I passed him about four miles into it.
I finished in under 30 minutes and in the top 25% of the field. The people that beat me are as follows:
- A gentleman that worked for the overland mail service in Kenya
- A Winter Olympian from Austria who cluttered my path with syringes
- A woman with an inexplicably large ass sporting a ponderous amount of junk in the trunk that somehow stayed in front of me the entire time, making me feel like a brotha in da club.
Here are some pictures from the event, including one of me doing the running man pose in the backyard while Ethan grabbed a shot.
There was also a bike race afterwards that I was not in. I spent that hour passed out in a pile of leaves. Here is a picture of the finish line about 45 minutes into the race, when more people were still finishing. I was just glad not to be last, which I fully expected to be. Oh in that picture above, that young guy tried to pass me in the end but I held him off only because there was a good Hans Zimmer tune on my iPod.
We headed out to the Austin Kite Festival at Zilker Park. It was my first kite festival, and it was pretty much what I expected.Â I would have been pleasantly surprised had there been a gladiatorial arena or something unexpectedly cool like that, but it was just kites.
The kites were nice, as far as kites go.Â There were a lot of people out there that took kites very seriously and a variety of very self-important “kite clubs” where people mostly stood around scowling at the sky, scowling at the ground, and then scowling at other kite clubs.
I live in this super-hilly neighborhood called Jester Estates and I’ve taken to running these hills a few times a week like a wayward goat. It’s tough – really really tough. So I have really been looking forward to this big “King of Jester” Race that is a big annual event in Austin every year.
It is a 5K race with approx 750 feet of vertical climb with some of the steepest grades from 17% to 20%. I’m ALMOST in the 35+ age group, but this time I have to race against all these damn 18 year olds from UT that don’t do anything but sit around and metabolize pizza like Hitler Youth.
Here is a video of the race. These guys are cheating and are on bikes. Maybe I will get a video this year of all the runners that pass out into bushes or roll down the hill, leaving chunks of ruined skin and bone behind..
So my brother in Dallas is a big hunter. He goes on African safaris all the time and is always looking to bag something exotic, or simply something that would look funny when stuffed, mounted, and placed inconspicuously in his house.
First, you will see a picture of him with a giraffe that he killed then had stuffed and put in his foyer to welcome guests. During Christmas, he put a santa hat on top to make it look more festive for the season. He claimed that this giraffe was running around Africa eating children and spreading AIDS, so he had no choice but to shoot it.
The second picture is of a hippo he killed and had converted into a coffee table. He had the taxidermist embed a permanent smile on the hippo, so that guests would be assured that the hippo is happy to be holding their after-dinner cognacs.
Downtown Austin is notorious for having a bunch of homeless people hanging out at street corners. It reminds me a lot of San Francisco in that regard. There is something about ultra-liberal towns that seems to attract some of the craziest of the crazy homeless people.
I was in a coffee shop off Congress, just a few blocks from the capital, at a place called The Hideout. It’s kind of Austiny and grungy but cool. They have music shows and other alternative stuff at night. People that work here have Euro accents and they seem rather put-out with life, but this is very much an Austin vibe kinda thing – to act like you are all upset by the world and just sit around, thinking up beat poetry.
This coffee shop, like others I have seen in downtown Austin, is frequented by these homeless people, that come in and actually drink coffee and eat pastries and stuff. I have no idea how they afford these overpriced items… I can only assume it is either free or they use their begging combined with relatively poor money management skills.
So this guy in the picture below sat down and just started chatting it up with me. He was very nice, for a crazy person. He proceed to tell me what he likes to do is get shoe polish, rub it all over his face, and run around the streets singing show tunes. The funny thing is, my ideas are not completely dissimilar.
I told him his glasses were pretty cool (in a Napoleon Dynamite voice) and I asked if I could take a picture. He said, “Sure man, right on,” so I snapped it.
(All the pictures are gone. Times are hard.)
This Mozart’s Coffee Roasters is where I come some days in Austin to drink coffee and hop onto the wireless broadband pro bono. It’s right on Lake Austin and they have a huge deck where you can hang out, look at the lake, and drink coffee. 90% of the tables here are filled with people on their laptops doing god knows what.
It is almost surreal… everyone could be at home, drinking coffee, online with their laptop, totally alone. But instead they all come here to be by other people who are doing the same thing. As strange as this human behavior is, I can’t help but notice I am part of it.