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July 31, 2008

brain lost in three day RE class

I've just spent the last three days in another real estate class, ten hours each day.  realtors are often wide assortment of strong personalities.  often resulting in an entertaining verbal volley of sarcasm and wit.

on the second day we had a field trip to view properties.  I decided I'd be better off driving the big red truck than being stuck in some other car as we raced (zig zagged) between properties.  some have bigger issues with their phones than others.  despite the fact that there were six other people in the car, we were all subjected to a constant barage of phone converstaions regarding a garage apartment.  by the end of the day the other six could easily quote her sales pitch. 

so then we viewed an MCM, the real deal.  I was a bit shocked at what I heard next.

mcm austin

it was suggested, "this is a six hundred thousand dollar tear down".balcones mid century modern

mcm teardown?

it seems many realtors are unaware that people would actually be seeking this particular style of home, funky old fixtures and all.  this one was a real diamond in the rough and in a highly desirable area.  I had to object to the teardown suggestion.  the home could benefit from some sympathetic updates, but I'd hate to see it scraped.  this area is plentiful of million dollar homes, 640k isn't a bad starting point for a gated home with indoor pool in an upscale neighborhood near lake austin.

I was able to use my iphone to produce modernaustin.com where there is an entry for this home complete with comments from other people who have seen it.  it seemed my positive opinion of this home was shared by others.  I was able to introduce the class to a new term; Mid Century Modern (MCM).  they found some humor in this. 

another good site for MCM is lottaliving.com, especially their message board.

another site that is specific to modernism and green building methods is livemodern.com

livemodern.com is where we made first contact with our architect mark meyer 



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July 27, 2008

another rbi wknd and my ipod is talking to me

red bud island taxi

another friday afternoon at red bud island.


twisted ankle kept her seated on the cooler.

we were very impressed at how he managed to get his eyes to match his shirt.

meanwhile back on shore the kids had applied the RBI sugar exemption...


things were starting to get a bit tribal

the two older girls became very involved in producing "clay balls"

I had my cell phone in the water tight hatch, which also contained some wet clothes my daughter had put in.  my phone got all condensated and the keypad quit working.  I could see both my mother and my wife had been calling, but I had no method to call them back.  so we hastily packed it up, went home and scooped them up and then to austin pizza for dinner.  they have a large fenced in playscape there.  later that night I checked iphone availability (their next day inventory is released at 9pm).  austin was full of green dots.  the writing was on the wall.

my daughter and I arrived at the mall at 7 am and I was out of there around 9.30.

so, I love my iphone.  it's just like my itouch but it's all the new applications that you can download from the apple store that really make the difference.  I get a little confused when somebody calls.   it seems odd as if I am holding my ipod to my ear. 

so here was one of the cooler moments.  I  had just installed shazam on my ipod and I was blown away by how well it worked.  it turns your iphone into a listening device that will tell you what music it hears (not being played by the iphone).  so, if you are in your car and they play some song you like but can't wait for the DJ to say the artist and song name etc, you just use shazam.  this also could have been used a few weeks back when holly insisted that erasure performed the song I JUST CAN'T GET ENOUGH.  instead of somebody searching on their blackberry, shazam could have just listened.

so, there I am trying to demonstrate this to my wife.  she quickly cut me off and got excited herself, "THAT'S SHAZAM!!!"  I tried to continue my demonstration,"yes, it is so cool, it can..." 

she took control of the iphone as she beamed with pride, "I used to handle shazam's patent portfolio back in silicon valley. I know their technology quite well!"  how cool is that!?  I was definitely impressed.

I've already mentioned how super excited I am that the silver jews are coming to austin in sept.  I'll likely be posting some of my favorite lyrics from david berman (silver jews).  besides being one heck of a songsmith, he's also released a book of poetry.  since this post has a tech slant to it, I'll share some tech heavy lyrics here...

"A robot walks into a bar
orders a drink
lays down a bill
The bartender says, "hey, we don't serve robots"
and the robot says, "oh, but someday you will"  

OK, one more robot lyric from david berman

"Windex tears roll down the robots face,
He never felt his mother's embrace,
My mother named me after a king,
I'm gonna bury my name in you"



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July 25, 2008

I've been smev'd

bamboo door

door is on the cabinet.  the bamboo veneer was stained so that it matches the existing cabinetry.


behold the smev.  the smev range is 30% faster and consumes 33% less fuel than other options.  it's burners produce the lowest Co2/Co emmission recorded.  it also has piezo ignition and a failsafe that turns the gas off if the flame goes out. 

I checked with my wife on placement before I cut the hole.  it's not that I expect her to learn how to cook.  just wanted to make sure there are no misundertandings.  ask twice, cut once.

it is nearly flush when the lid is closed.

fancy pants wine

we acquired two more bottles of the bonny doon 2005 bien nacido syrah.  I use a paint pen to note on the bottle what year we can open it.  one is marked 2014 and 2020 on the other.  in year 2020 she will be 21... hard to imagine...  maybe this was not a good idea.

twelve years is a long time.  however it seems time is speeding up and running away.  I hope that twelve years from now we can look back at these pics and marvel at how much has changed and how much has remained the same.

the chunk will be in middle school.

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July 24, 2008

AMH crew expands and gets plucked up

learn to play guitar and impress your friends, maybe not so much your brother.

my friend jason has been out of town on business.  his family has found extra time so we struck an unofficial deal.  she holds the baby, the kids swim and play star wars legos and I cook or plan for dinner. 

$1.99 fish taco night at berryhill can't be beat.  at that price it's cheaper to eat out than cook at home, except that pitcher of mexican lemonada knocked a good bit of the savings off.

pluckers turned 13 and rolled the prices back to what they were in 1995.  again, this is cheaper than I can feed us at home.  the kids made pluckers a birthday card.


leroy (our waitress) was very appreciative and said they would proudly display the card.

big #4

holly was a bit surprised at the size of the fireman's #4.

dude and his #4

happy happy joy joy, have my big #4 and my blublockers (liberated from a tree, 100% obtainium)

pretty girls

another nice sunset and pretty view.


took the kids to the zilker botanical gardens.  boys like worms.

lime bumbo

volente beach

volente beach, thanks to erwinhouse for the tix.  their blog seems to have fallen into the inactive category.  you erwins ought to come over for a swim before summer evaporates.


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July 21, 2008

hair pinned and amh musical picks



nice sunset from the screen room last night.  ran up to the master balcony and got the pic below.

we need some rain

hair pin legs

hair pin legs on MHM sleeper sofa.  the fit is perfect.

eye see you

it's been a while since I posted on the austin mod house soundtrack.

the latest morning musical selection has been SHE & HIM.  it's a collaboration between M.Ward and Zooey Deschanel.  she is also an actress and did a fantastic job of portraying a meth user who likes to slam her hand in drawers in WINTER PASSING (also featured will ferrell)

anyhow, their song WHY DO YOU LET ME STAY HERE has an infectious nancy sinatra meets patsy cline vibe to it.  it reminds kat of karen carpenter.

the soundtrack to restoring MHM has been dominated artists that have long playlists on my ipod; ELLIOTT SMITH, SWELL and TEENAGE FANCLUB 

other notable additions to the AMH musical collection include the latest efforts by Jonathan Richman (I couldn't find any clips from his new album so I linked an old modern lovers song here, shows a vintage airstream in the first seconds so I felt it was almost on topic)

funny, over at austin treehouse ole dad always says, "it's the something about mary guy".  I think of that movie as "the one with jonathan richman in it"

with great surprise I found the silver jews do have their new song posted to youtube... well, song but no video, actually it looks like somebody has uploaded the entire album, here is party barge (reminds me of my friend big john).  and because you can find anything you never even thought of on youtube, here is somebody doing a belly dance to RANDOM RULES by Silver Jews.  HOLY SMOKES!  I just checked their website and they are gonna be here in austin!  as much as the sound at emo's sucks, I will be there (sept 19th).  you coming?  I've been waiting YEARS for a chance to see them.


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July 20, 2008

red bud hefe kaos remmons

waiting for the smev to arrive before applying formica to coutner surface.

kat in the box

kat priming and sealing the inside of the box that will house the trash can.

I removed the furnace to loose weight and gain storage.  we can use an electric ceramic heater if we find ourselves camping in lower temps.

fun with remmons

that was enough of the real world, back to animal crossing.

they have cheap pitchers of live oak hefe weizen at opal divine's

we spent saturday evening with friends at bay6 gallery

this piece by our friend sharon kyle kuhn is now part of the austin modhouse permanent collection.  we loaned it for exhibition during the texas kaos netroots national convention after party  

more self portraiture.  we also ducked down to big medium where they were having a photography exhibit.

our friend kevin giving the seqway a test drive

friday afternoon we had a swim/paddle/picnic just down the street from austin modhouse at red bud island with the austintreehouse crew.  I let the kids have as many twinkies, ding dongs and orange sodas as they wanted.  it's a red bud island exemption thing.


that red ear should have been a warning sign.   shortly after, kat decided to paddle against the flow.  I didn't think it was a good idea.  one thing I keep learning about this attorney/wife deal, it's never good for me I am proven right when there is a disagreement. 

the same rule applies to all women in some degree.  I was recently whacked by another member of the fairer sex while attending a party over at austintreehouse.  somebody did some quick fact checking with one of those handy internet phones and proved me correct about who performed just can't get enough.  she was very certain it was erasure, I was pretty sure it was depche mode... I got whacked.  there is no victory in being right.  that is just a kernel of wisdom I'm passing along to you younger dudes out there. 

little dude with shiner

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July 15, 2008

mobi and the korova milk bar

I reused half the original cabinetry.  the new section is half inch cabinet grade birch plywood with bright white formica.  maybe you think white cabinets are a bit 80's?  I think not.  the interior walls are a bit dark and I want the entry and kitchen to contrast brightly.  the cabinet door will be a walnut or bamboo veneer.  the hole near the top will have a swing door for the insertion of the basura (trash).

trimmed around the VCT at the entry.

my inspiration was heavily influenced by mobi

we saw it on ebay with a bid of 175k, reserve not met.  more pics at moco loco

I was also partly influenced by the korova milk bar.  stanley kubrick always had fantastic images in his movies and the way he mixed film with classical music puts anything seen on mtv to shame (not that mtv has music on it anymore). 

I found a great youtube clip of the milk bar scene.  may not be safe for kids or work, but if you like classical music and/or synthetic drug laced milk being dispensed from bright white erotic mannequins... it might be your cup of tea.  I wanna go.  click here

too bad we don't have room for one of those milky mannequins in the modhouse mobile. 



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July 14, 2008

hair cut and bunking the beds

we don't have plans to add a fourth bedroom (would really be a fifth, the media room is a bedroom on paper and we do use it as a guest room) .  so the boys will have to share a room.  we had bunk beds in the garage so we hauled them up and assembled them one last time.

number one son was happy that he is now old enough to sleep on the top bunk.  bottom bunk will likely be empty for a few more months.

cut by hair

notice the red rings around the middle fingers.  he had been extremely fussy for two days/nights.  we were not sleeping and he required full attention all day.  kat noticed his fingers became swollen.  she then noticed a human hair tightly wrapped around his two middle fingers.  the lines are still there after almost a week since she liberated his fingers.  soon as she cut it away, he returned to his happy self.

austin modhouse glass tile

we have created an austinmodhouse ebay ID to sell our line of glass tile. 

kat and I got out on friday night.  saw peter murphy at emo's.  the sound there is awful and the peter murphy didn't come on till 11pm.  it was peter's birthday and he turned 51.  if he can play that late we can stay up to watch.  we were treated to him doing a mix of strange kind of love with bela lugosi's dead  (funny that I just stumbled on that last link.  whoever recorded that must have been standing a few feet from me.  all my pics have the same head/bald spot in them)

it was great fun to see all those that came out in their old and new goth attire.  anybody going to emo's should note that they only take cash (no plastic).  I could not find that bit of info on their website and it got a bit sticky when I found my atm card had expired. luck for us we had plenty of time to solve that puzzle before 11 pm. 

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July 11, 2008

zip a dee doo dahh zip back in time

the replacement por-15 arrived.  we wasted no time finishing the airstream interior end cap.

we moved the sleeper sofa inside.  I was glad to see it out of the carport.

the fit is near perfect.  almost like it was made to go in an airstream.  I am going to replace the legs.  the ones it came with are rails.  the fesh water tank is underneath and the rail can't slide all the way back or it would be resting on a plumbing hose.  I have ordered hair pin legs to fix this and also reduce weight, they were on sale too!

ZIP DRIVE ACTION!  a decade ago I used a zip drive to save all my photos.  the zip drive later died.  then a few years later the computer died and a computer fixing service managed to erase the hard drive and also erased the back up.  we lost several years of images. 

NOW, thanks to the power of ebay, we found a cheap zip drive and have recovered pics from way back. 

I'll start us off with a few house project pics since that is what started this blog.

we purchased our first home for around $25k via an internet HUD auction for homes they could not get rid of.  it was in bad bad condition, needed new everything, just how I like it.

our first home!  ours is the one with the steps of death leading up from our volvo 164e with my mother's 1976 bmw 2002 parked behind.

the original rail was falling down.  I made something new myself.  I think that rail has since been replaced and that makes me a bit sad.

in two months we gutted and rebuilt the home, new plumbing and electrical, walls were removed or moved, it was a major transformation.  you just can't work that fast with inspectors getting in the way. 

original bathroom.

gutted, even the floor and ceiling below.

two months later!  we moved into this house six weeks after we bought it.  things had to move fast.  I was way ahead of the vessel sink craze.  mine was a mixing bowl from costco that I took to a machine shop to make a hole for the drain.

now for a few fun family pix.

that little baby is now nine years old and stuck inside a virtual world called, animal crossing.  it seems like we are constantly asking her to save and close.  we get responses that include phrases "I'm at a birthday party and have to give static his present" and "I just caught a fish and I need to put him in the musem".  one evening I had to see what was happening at static's party.  we gave him some sunglasses as a present.  he was very polite and appreciative.  he said "thanks for the shades".

I don't think my daughter has seen the matrix.  but, there is something wrong when virtual reality is more appealing than actual reality.  I shouldn't have to tell anybody to turn their game off, besides I'm having too much fun on portal.   the kids and I got to level 15 before we started to look for hints on the internet.  OK, time for me to push away from the computer and get these kids in the pool.  I'll leave you with a few more fun pics from the past.

yes, we like hooters and there is nothing wrong with that.

just look at those eyes!

cold beer and fat chicks

my friend chef craig and I were looking for good deeds to gain merit patches to attain an eagle patch.  we figured some of those fat chicks might need help crossing the road.  turns out they did not need our help.  the beer was cold and the chicks were PO'd at the manager for putting that sign up.  I recall one asked craig, "do I look fat?".  to which craig replied, "huh-huh, you could stand to lose a few pounds".

I suppose if the manager had issued an accurate description of the chicks inside he could have filled the sign with pejorative terms.  they got off easy with the simple appeal of cold beer. we never did get our eagle badges.

oh, just one more of craig and beer.

craig's homage to pbr

the pbr




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July 08, 2008

4th of july wknd at AMH, salmon skin and half a cat


this is mod house mini (mhm).  it's been painted with white elastomeric paint in anticipation of being put up for sale.  we are just too many to fit in there and it's a shame to see it just sit in the driveway unused.


this is mobile mod house (mmh)


I have installed a small section of VCT for the entry.  a durable surface to catch most of the dirt, sand and mud from feet upon entry to mmh.

pioneer mod house

sunday saw us kayaking around red bud island

we found a small creek and trekked upstream.  stopped and played in the cool crystal clear water before we continued upstream and emerged right by tom miller dam.

#1 son is now swimming like a fish.  he grew tired of being above the water in the kayak and asked if he could just swim along side.  he had a life jacket on so we agreed.

we found ourselves at the very base of the dam.  we stopped to take this pic and were slightly alarmed when water started to pour OVER the dam.  must have been a boat wake.

we paddled back to open waters.  as we approached the hydro turbine outlet we saw the big giant warning sign and orange warning markers floating in the water.  we were on the other side, the wrong side.  we just laughed and paddled towards the swift water emerging from the dam.  water crashed over the front of the kayak as we sped through the rapids.  #1 son asked, "can we do that again!"

they now have the wild caught alaskan sockeye at sam's.  I gave him the tail portion.  it has the highest skin to meat ratio.

that is some good eating.  I also want to thank dr. chen.  after my last very thorough exam she left me with doctor's orders; eat more salmon, avocado and almonds.  the dude abides.

he carefully tore it into pieces.

she is a non-skin

skin donation

another skin donor.

savoring the fravor.

happy salmon skin eater

kat and salmon

eames shell rocker rar

double rocking eames style

what?  you don't keep the monopolowa in the freezer?

this is the signature austin modhouse (amh) summer drink, the watermelon shaker.  yes, it's got watermelon and a bit of vanilla agave nectar.  the serrano peppers, flaming hot cheetos and baby bottle were not involved in the concoction, but they do say something about us.

lost and found

found: half a cat, the front half (the part with a head). 

this has been puzzling me.  seems to be a clean cut with no stringy innards or blood coming from where the other half should be attached.  it was in the back yard.  any animal large enough to sever a cat in this manner would surely want to keep both halves. 

the WLH police came by to talk about it.  they were mostly concerned that I might be on bad terms with a neighbor, our back yard adjoins with five other properties.  we have no neighbor issues.  the only slightly plausible explanation could be that the cat was sliced by a speeding vehicle, then picked up by a bird who then dropped it in our back yard... or maybe a construction worker didn't want it stinking up his work area so found a fence to toss it over. 

I figured it might be in bad taste to post the pic of the half cat.  I also figured I better take one  just in case a neighbor wants to identify their missing cat. I should also note that I don't think the dogs were responsible. they had no blood on them and the dead cat really seemed to make eichler (boxer) nervous. I saw when Marvin discovered it and carried it up to the house. our remaining cat (kay-so) is OK and napping in the garage.


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July 05, 2008

are we independent?

we had a great fourth of july.  how do we celebrate independence?

do we dress the dogs up in red white and blue?  wear a short skirt decorated with stars? (both of which sound like fantastic ideas to me, well... I am not saying that I will wear a short skirt ... maybe kat will?)

participate in a city parade? (notice it's more like a walk with the neighbors as the parade participants outnumbered the spectators by 50 to 1)

marvin may be small but he pulls like a big dog.  he surely feels he is independent, despite the chain.  my daughter was tired of his pulling and not feeling quite so independent.

baby's first parade.  he slept through it.

big hair and stripey pants wreak of independence.

amy's ice cream for breakfast is a true indication of being independent.  never mind that he's wearing a blue bell shirt.  the line for breakfast tacos was a bit shorter.

friends from school.

great MCM home that is on the next street down from us.  the nice people who have recently purhcased and have been applying sympathetic restoration to this home also expressed their independence by walking down the middle of the street with us paraders.

I like the new railing they've added.

we loaded up the excursion like the griswolds.

nothing says independence like exclusivity. 

lake travis

independently floating in lake travis.

he is free to throw a stick and roxanne was free to retrieve it.

more independent floating.

roxanne is still hoping somebody will throw the stick again.

my daughter and I paddled to an island we had seen on the other side.  we got about 20 yards from the shore and they started threatening us with police actions.  they were keeping us back from the fireworks.  I felt my independence was being dampened and I wanted to keep going forward till we touched the bank.  my daughter was nervous so we did turn back. 

another expression of pure independence, crushing your spent beer cans and piling them up.  that is freedom.  joel is free to eat chips wearing a cowboy hat, he might be wondering how roxanne is going to smell for the drive home.

chip returned from his last quick trip in the sail boat as the sun set.

golden boy at lake travis

this picture reminds me of golden boy peanuts, which are not available for sale down in hell.

roxanne was STILL waiting for anybody to please throw her a stick.

independence is controlled explosions.






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July 03, 2008

tadpole buffet or pollock in the carport?

I had a large lcd screen for the mini mac home music server.  the problem was, it required my cabinet to be open to view the selection playing, and the kids like to be able to see the visualizer.  I scaled down to a smaller monitor and mounted it outside the cabinet.  the big lcd wouldn't fit there.  my clutter inside the cabinet is hidden again and the mini can do what it does best, be mini and out of sight.

it is mounted to hinge so it can sit flush to the cabinet and not obscure the view and be viewed from the kitchen.  I didn't go buy one of those fancy articulating mounts.  I just used some spare hinges I found in the garage and the same 3/4 inch birch the cabinet is made from.  


I can't tell you how many tadpoles and snails we have.  it is a lot.


roach heads taste great to tadpoles

tiny back legs appearing



more abstract expressionism?  no, it's a bad day.  

I have used por-15 products for years.  great stuff.  I was mixing up a batch of por-15 hardnose white to apply the final coat to the front interior fiberglass piece of the airstream.  this stuff is a two part mixture, like what you'd use to refinish a bathtub.  I poured some of part A into a plastic container and then some of part B.  I noticed that it didn't mix easily and it seemed something was wrong.  I read the directions, again.  then I noticed the part B they sent me was not the hardener activator as was on the invoice/order.  somebody had packed solvent.  I quickly called tech support.  they confirmed that I had the wrong can of mix.  just about then, I saw as the solvent ate through the plastic container.  we ran to get paper towels.  a pint of por-15 is no joke, it ran every where.  this art will likely remain on the carport floor for decades.  I was so looking forward to completing the interior paint of the airstream.  they are sending me replacement paint today, maybe monday.


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July 02, 2008

ole' mole'

her requested birthday meal; chicken mole' enchiladas.  things often taste better when you've made them yourself from base ingredients (not made yourself from a box, bag or from frozen).

the mole' ingredients.  including six variety of chili, 3 squares of chocolate, raisins, cinnamon stick, onions etc.

they wanted to gnaw on cinnamon sticks.

robot boy toasting the sesame seeds, peppercorns, almonds etc.

onions, serranos and tomatoes

grinding the nuts, seeds and spices.  the chilis and raisins reconstituted in stock we made.

combining wet and dry ingredients in the osterizer.  in goes the chocolate.

dipping a piece of chicken.  she liked it, he said it was too spicy.

corn tortillas filled with chicken and the tomato, onion and serrano mix


I rarely use recipes when I cook.  but as I've never made mole' before and it is a complexed array of flavors, we used a recipe that we got from bonny doon .  we'd recently received a syrah from them that came with the mole recipe as a suggested pairing.  the complexity of the wine and the sauce were quite compatible.  we browsed the tasting notes as we ate and noted that they actually suggest cellaring the wine 6-12 years.  OK, so now we need to order some more and try it again when my daughter is actually old enough to taste it with her enchiladas.


chocolate cake also went well with syrah


his first obligatory food on the face pic

guitar hero for nintendo ds

little girls love webkinz.  she said "this is the one I wanted!"

I got a new computer.  I have three and I'm trying to get that number down to two (one mac and one PC).  my laptop will go to my daughter to replace her laptop and my son gets my old desktop.  they love to play star wars legos the complete saga on the ps3 .  the way games are today, most people can't complete the game on their own.  so... they also sell a book that will walk you through the game.  the book often costs as much as the game! 

I downloaded the text only pdf version of the walk through (around $7 opposed to $50).  now she's really getting somewhere and my son can think of nothing he'd rather do than watch her play.  she has a laptop set up in the media room so she can read her instructions as she completes various tasks and challenges.  the text only version does help her sharpen her reading and ability to understand and follow instructions.  so I should be able to write it off as educational!




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