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February 28, 2011

DE-construction, two steps backward.

when planning this house, we loved the idea of a green roof/deck.  we imagined the many hours spent relaxing up there while kids have room to run and jump around under the sun.  but the truth is we've hardly used the space at all.  maybe once a year kat and I spend an hour up there.  the kids never use it.  I think we'd use it more if it were more like an atrium, between the kids bedrooms and ours instead of at the end of the hall from the kids rooms.  or we should have just used the space for more interior room.

removal of green roof

but, there was a leak somewhere.  the original roofer is gone and he refused to take any responsibility, the builder is accepting between 33 and 100% of the re-roof (still a matter of debate).  while all this was discussed, there was some finger pointing and blame assigned to the one inch of soil and ground cover.  I agreed to remove it all.  any plants that go back will be in containers.

green roof medium

so there it is, about $1k worth of green roof material and dirt and sedum, now on terra firma.

roof deck

as I type now, the builder has a crew here removing the deck as the new roofer is dropping off materials to start tomorrow.

even the excursion is not always big enough 

sam's had these queen palms for $30 each.  each is between 12 and 15 ft tall.  we got three.

15 ft queen palm


the kids had an audition for a short film.  we've found the rehearsals conflict with our mardi gras plans so the movie may not be a good fit for us.  the kids love that parade.

long center

took the older two kids to see blue man group at the long center.

blueman group

I first saw those blue dudes at a tiny off-broadway place in new york.  that must have been twenty years ago....  those guys have used a lot of sta-puff marshmallows and twinkies in that time.  the show hasn't changed much since that first one I saw.  they have scaled some of it up a bit to fit the larger venues.

big ball

the kids LOVED it.

you can see the amazement in her face. 

rock concert movement

sort of reminds me of a flaming lips show... 

lucy in disquise

after the show we got a quick refreshment from guero's and did some wig shopping at lucy in disguise (mardi gras shopping)


austin pizza wine party

since we were having a bit of summer weather, we let the kids loose on the playscape at austin pizza while we enjoyed.... the weather.


the best meal we had this past week came from El Arbol.  kat and I arrived early for the reservation to enjoy some happy hour on the third floor deck.  the octopus was fork tender and delicious.

el arbol

temps dropped quickly but that did not prevent us from sampling the $3 happy hour frozen margaritas.  then we joined friends inside.

el arbol corpse reviver #2

the corpse reviver #2 still works.  I highly recommend the braised pork belly.  it had a sweet crunch top similar to a creme brulee


early econoline bodywork

I cut out some mangled sheet metal and replaced it with new.

econoline sheet metal replacement

1965 ford econoline van

a program writing vanner made a great app to help play with different paint schemes.  even the kids here have enjoyed swapping wheels, colors and right heights using the link below:



February 21, 2011

amp shuffle and fermented bean curd test

emotiva amplifier box

fedex delivered this box, 85 lb!

acurus and soundcraftsmen amplifier

it contained a 7 channel amplifier to replace the three above.  I'm actually moving down in power output to about 185 per at 4 ohm.  but the sound is good and the new amp was on sale.

upa-7 in situ

looks good too!

gowalla livestrong nike hoodie prize

we've used gowalla for a couple years now.  it is a location app for iphone, similar to foursquare.  you check in, can exchange or receive virtual items and there is a small chance to receive a real prize.  I won/found the livestrong nike hoodie and it is a real tangible prize!

trio of fermented bean curd

we had some friends over a for fermented bean curd taste test.  I came down with a last minute cold  but managed to power through the fever.

daikon radish

our second attempt at radish cake did not work out well.  too gooey.

spicy tuna roll

our sushi rice also didn't work out so good. 

pork belly braised in wine and truffle

our friends had gone to great trouble to bring additions to the meal.  the best thing we had that night was the item shown above, I don't recall what it's called but the pork belly was braised in shiaoxing wine, black vinegar, and truffles.


went to the RX to stock up on zicam and fever reducer, stopped by uncle billy's brew-que as it was on the way.

Daughter moves to Jr assembly cotillion

dude has big nose

parents are not allowed to the final dance for Jr. assembly cotillion.  we found the country club has a bar area complete with vodka tonic!  bartender asked for my membership number, we are not members.  he said that was ok. 

a bit later I handed the bartender my credit card to close the tab, "we can't take credit cards, only cash..."  I rarely carry much cash, often none.  I surveyed the cash area of my wallet and offered this bit "well this is going be an awkward situation as I don't have that much cash". 

he settled it with "just give me what you've got" 

for Jr assembly the kids have a formal fancy dinner.  they teach table manners and table placement etc.  the daughter LOVED IT!  she's no stranger to eating out, but it was something new to her to have this without the parents.


they did allow parents in for the last thirty minutes of dancing.

toddler with violin

#2 son expressed interest in her violin.

#1 son and his first cotillion

#1 son insisted he did NOT want to participate in the cotillion.  his attitude quickly changed and he surprised us all when he actually looked forward to going each week. 

#2 son wanted in on the action as well.

austin chaplain cotillion 2011

austin cotillion 2011

cotillion austin country club

I could hear he was talking non stop while dancing.  that mouth never stops!

mother and son dance

the mother and son dance.

baby gets in on austin cotillion action

#2 son got free and ran out to join his brother and mother.  he actually did a good job imitating the dance moves.

toddler runs wild on austin coutnry club golf course

#2 son hit the golf course putting greens.

confident pose

kat told him "stand like this, it makes you look confident." 


February 14, 2011

summer is on the way... wild basin hike

we will be in the mid 70's this coming week.  we took advantage of the warm temps yesterday afternoon to visit the natural area near our home, wild basin wilderness preserve

amh crew at wild basin

you would think we were out in the country, but a thriving metropolitan downtown cityscape hides just over that hill.

wild basin waterfall

wild basin water fall

waterfall at wild basin

meditation at wild basin

we found this when we rounded a bend on the trail. 


Jonathan Richman sings about William F Buckley

one of our favorite live acts comes every winter, Jonathan Richman.  this year he played two shows at the hole in the wall and two at the continental club.  we caught both the first and last shows. 

wednesday night had us at the Hole in the wall. 

hole in the wall bartender

tommy larkins on drums

a good live music experience is not possible seated at the back of a stadium.  it works best when you are as close as possible to the musician.  I don't mind going early and claiming good real estate. 

jonathan richman at the hole in the wall austin

yeah, we were that close.

jonathan plays the cowbell

many people just can't stand jonathan.  susan castle (local radio personality) once asked me if she could play something for me.  I requested "I was dancing in a lesbian bar, by jonathan richman".  she grimaced and apologized, she went on to explain that she has never received so many complaints as the time she played him on the radio.  an acquired taste is a term often applied to his music.  but his fans are loyal and happy bunch.

his performances are as quirky and odd as his music, often singing familiar songs in new versions or changing the language between french/spanish/italian...  but there is no doubt he is genuine.  he doesn't own a cell phone, have a facebook page or twitter account...  he just wants to sing his songs and do his goofy dances.  doesn't even sell merchandise at his shows.

 jonathan richman at the continental club

I especially enjoyed the song "my affected accent".  the song details his attempt  at sounding intelligent when he was in high school.  he used big words  and mimicked william f buckley.  the audience had a great time with a call and response, they danced and laughed.  we all went home happy. 

I took the dslr to the wed night show, but chose to spend more time enjoying the show saturday night than trying to take pics, although I could not resist the iphone.

the vinyl revival and my delicate swiss turntable

I went into the media room expecting to enjoy some high fidelity vinyl pleasure.  we had purchased a 180 gram vinyl LP when we saw shearwater last May.

I was most UN-happy to find the stylus had been broken off from the Grado cartridge.

grado cartridge on thorens td 316

I had suspected the stylus was old and worn and I had intended to replace it at some future date, this event just caused that service to jump up the to-do list.

shure m97xe cartridge package

I found a great price on a shure M97xE from amazon.  it came complete with tool kit for installation. 

the delicate nature of this did make me a bit nervous.  yes, that is a mirrored disco ball in the background, never mind that, for now.

the new cartridge has a brush/guard for the stylus.

thorens td 316 tone arm

the prongs at the back of the shure cartridge are color coded, but to be safe I made notes of where each wire had been on the back of the grado that was not color coded.

and it sounds great!

freakin awesome laser

yes, that is a laser light show....  never mind about that, for now.

February 07, 2011

locally made vodka tasted. results were favorable.

marked vodka glasses

we line up four locally made vodkas, Tito's, Dripping Springs, Savvy and Enchanted Rock.  set out some appropriate mixers and let it all go.

fixins area

a decade ago, if somebody said that some of the best vodkas made in the world would be coming out of the texas hill country, people would've thought they were nuts.  but...  as odd as it is, these are really high quality vodkas. 

we usually have this post-holiday party two or three weeks after new years. but, kat's company holiday party was delayed till after the holidays (they were busy).  as result our party moved back to the same weekend as Carnaval Brasileiro and the Super Bowl. 

texas vodka martini

a few girls enjoyed martinis, even my mom had one.

martini mom

kat set up a custom fried crispy ball station.

eel and wasabi balls

you could select ingredients we had selected and she'd make them to order.  I didn't care for the sweet red bean balls.  I did like the stilton and scallion balls but the most popular ball in the room was the unagi!

wasabi and eel (unagi)

bbq eel and wasabi stuffed into a savory, crunchy rice flour panko coated ball.  YUM!


orange alligator loafers

and then there was the photo booth...  (pics below).  sorry to anybody I told I would not be posting the photo booth pics...  and especially if I posted your pic on facebook and then tagged you...  it happens.

amh photo booth

amh photo booth

mr domingo

and then just before midnight (why do the parties end earlier and earlier?) everybody was gone and we cleaned up and went to bed.

empty house

and the biggest testament to the purity and distillation of the locally made vodka, I felt well rested and no pain in the noggin come sunday morning.  we got up, loaded the truck with bikes and went to zilker park for a nice bike ride and rock climb. 

 zilker park rock

austin snow day!

we had a winter weather event in austin texas.  I'll have to say this rare event seems to be happening about once a year.

snow ball fight austin texas

school was cancelled.  the roads had a coating of ice and blanket of snow.  a vehicle had turned over just outside the house so there was no question of the danger on the roads.

baby has first real snow experience

snow melts quick in texas

the sun came out just before noon and the white stuff started to disappear rather quickly.  we went out for lunch.

we tried to go eat dim-sum for chinese new year, GONG HAI FAT CHOI! but we found get-sum-dim-sum to be opening late, snow delay.  said they would open at 1 pm.  so we drove down lamar and stopped at 24.  I've been wanting to eat there for about a year.  a few other people took advantage of their open status to get their eats there as well.  waited over 30 mins for a table.

24 diner austin

the place was packed and #2 son took this opportunity to kick/poke/push me as well as the girls seated behind us.  any attempt to control his behavior resulted in a high pitched scream that disrupted the whole restaurant, I was held hostage by that scream.  still, the coffee and food at 24, REALLY GOOD!

kids on pause at 24 diner

these two were easy as we let them revert to their digital worlds.

vegetarian hash at 24 diner austin

kat was very happy with the vegetarian hash, it was delicious!

mussels at 24 diner austin

the mussels were also fantastic.

big beer at pluckers

we met with friends that evening.  #1 son had requested pluckers for his birthday.  we got there at 7pm and they said we had a 20-25 min wait.  we enjoyed large beers while we waited.

and wait we did...

the kids camped on the floor in the bar area.  they didn't seem to mind that we waited for over TWO HOURS!

mustard and ketchup tower

the manager dispatched free appetizers for our long wait and #2 son celebrated by stacking the condiments into a tall tall tower. 

condiment crash at pluckers

then he'd knock it down and build again.

#1 son was absolutely horrified when they sang happy birthday.  the brownie with ice cream helped smooth things over.

austin modhouse at night

violin test at westridge middle school

daughter had a solo performance for evaluation at westridge middle school.