« August 2017 | Main | October 2017 »

September 29, 2017

Bike project update #1

The first update on the Cannondale project bike involved replacing the massive comfort gel saddle with a light weight one. I also replaced the seat post with a carbon fiber post.

cannondale restobike 

Old seat: 769 gm, old post 339 gm for a total of 1,108 Grams/ 2.44 lb 

New seat 240 gm, new post 216 gm for a total of 366 Grams/ .8 lb

Weight savings of 1.64 lb

That was a substantial weight savings that was relatively easy and not too spendy (around $44 for both seat and CF post) 

We also picked up a digital luggage scale to more accurately weigh the bikes. Current weight is now 30.26 Lb, that puts a corrected beginning weight closer to 32 Lb.

While I was weighing bikes, I put my early 90's Marin on the scale, with its CroMo steel frame, 29.03 lb. That was a little discouraging as I'm still not lighter than my vintage steel framed bike.  

Other items I could swap out are tires, quill and ford, and handle bars. The fork and quill are the most problematic as standards have changed since this bike was new and prices for those parts are greater.

#1 son has grumbled that he prefers his Cannondale in VT over his Specialized Hardrock here in TX. I weighed the Specialized at 29.34 lb. I suspect the difference he feels is more about the tires. His bike in VT has a smoother street tire that surely rolls faster. I think I'll replace the tires on the Cannondale project bike, and see how he likes it.  

Reader, did you come here seeking info on modern home design and construction? Many of you did, a long time ago.  We are hoping to have more of that type of content in the coming years. Otherwise, you will have to be sidetracked with bikes, beers and whatever else is the fancy of the week. But know that I haven't forgotten that this blog started with modern home design and build.


September 25, 2017

Suds Monkey in Dripping Springs

We drove out towards Dripping Springs to try another new local brewery, Suds Monkey.

We were excited to try yet another attempt at New England Style IPA (NEIPA).

suds monkey moxey neipa 

This is their Moxey Monkey. It's a work in progress and I look forward to seeing how it evolves. We also enjoyed their Session IPA Cheeky Monkey.  


SPON Jester King Dripping Spring Sour Beers 

While we were out there.... We stopped at Jester King to grab something for a trading partner I have in New England.  

September 20, 2017

HAAM Benefit Day with Marcia Ball at Still Austin Whiskey

It was a magical evening at Still Austin Whiskey for HAAM Benefit day.

haam benefit marcia ball still austin #stillaustin

(BIG) the pic above is made from two different images taken on my iPhone. That may help explain why one woman has an arm coming out of her head. You didn't see that?


haam benefit day 2017 still austin whiskey 

marcia ball haam benefit day 2017 still 

Marcia was charming and entertained everybody.  

tatooed lady and the aligator man marcia ball haam austin #stillaustin 


September 18, 2017

Urban bike project and the smelly guest....

I've ridden the same CroMoly Marin MTB for more than 20 years. It's a good bike. I've been looking to buy a new one for a couple years now. Problem is, to get one that is as light weight, I'd have to spend over $1k. There are plenty of nice options in the $500 range, but they are so much heavier. It seems that bike companies have everybody convinced that they need a shock absorber on the fork. It's just not true! Especially if you are not hitting off-road downhill trails. For the urban bike rider, it's fairly easy to learn to hop curbs. Early BMX bikes never had shocks, they were fast and light.

A recent conversation with a sales guy at a local bike store yielded this advice, "why don't you just trick out a light weight bike from back in the day?". He went on to show us his personal bike... 90's era aluminum frame, urban tires/wheels, light weight fork (NO shock).

Let me introduce you to my new project bike.

project urban cannondale 

I got an older Cannondale from Craigslist for $125. It currently weighs in at 30 lb. I'll get rid of the weighty saddle, then I'll address the rusty steel handle bars. Let's see how much weight I can get it to shed.


West Lake Hills Skunk Otis  

The Mastermind Raccoon we have around here are like Mensa smart. This very young skunk is not so bright. I've caught him several times now. He calmly waits for me to let him go in the morning. He doesn't feel threatened by me. It's become routine. He doesn't even want to leave the trap today. I opened it to set him free. He just looked at me and tucked his head under his paw and went to sleep. He seems to have no intentions of leaving us.  

So corny at St Elmo Brewing Co.

Sticking to my pledge of trying some of the new breweries that have opened in Austin, we attended a Corndog eating contest at St Elmo

st elmo brewing austin  

Dude on the far right won the contest. #2 son did enjoy one of the leftover corndogs.  

It's STILL hot in Austin this time of year. #2 son complained profusely about the heat. I suggested Vermont may be a more suitable climate to consider when selecting a college....  

st elmo brewing co guava sour  

They don't have an NEIPA on tap at the moment. The bartender didn't seem to understand when I inquired about a "juicy" beer. He suggested the Guava Sour (on the left above). I did enjoy their other beers, all easy to consume on a hot Texas afternoon.  

wings from soursop 

The chicken wings from Soursop were also good, but also very messy.  

Back deck, was supposed to be green... is again

 We had many big ideas when we built this home, some worked and some didn't work so well.

A house needs to be maintained. This one is now over ten years old and we are revisiting to, maintain or redo a few areas. I always have a few projects going on at once. My attention has mostly been on the outdoors and landscaping in the past year. Now, I have a project that blends house and outdoors, the old "Green Deck".

There is a large second floor deck off the kids wing. It was supposed to be a green roof, with dirt and grass. That idea didn't pan out so we put a deck up there with dirt and ground cover around it.

green deck austin  

(pic above is from April 2008) 

That didn't work either.  

We removed all the dirt and green roof materials, had the deck re-roofed and just left it. 

green roof material for sale austin 

(pic above is from 2011 when we removed all the green roof, dirt, plants etc.) 

Nobody has really used that area. We are attempting to load Green Deck 3.0


We bought new outdoor seating and I made tables to match.  

artificial grass turf

While I've always held contempt for fake plastic plants. I find myself displaying some flexibility on "artificial turf" grass.

west lake hills artificial grass turf 

Let's think of it more like a green outdoor carpet.

artificial roof grass westlake austin 

It's not done. It's a work in progress. I'll admit it looks nicer.



September 11, 2017

I'm a Master Trapper, rewarded at Zilker with "Mosaic Powder"

While I was away in VT, the Mastermind (local raccoon boss) discovered our pet door. Kat was NOT amused to find herself involved in a territory dispute with the Mastermind inside our pantry. The Mastermind has been able to escape/break a couple of the cheaper traps. I've invested in the "professional" model. Our cats have quickly learned to grab a seat and wait to see what comes by looking for an easy meal. So far, two opossum, one friendly skunk, and a raccoon.

cat and raccoon 

raccoon west lake hills mastermind #mastermind 

We have anxiously been waiting for the city to finish the bike trail bridge over 360 near Mopac. It's now open and we made a plan to go ride it. The problem (for Kat) is that the trail skirts MOPAC (major highway). She was UNHAPPY as she was expecting something that resembles the rural trails we ride on in Vermont. Austin is now a densely populated metropolis, the 11th largest city in the US. The entire population of the State of Vermont is significantly less than the City of Austin. "Happy wife, Happy life" is a real thing. I quickly adjusted the plan. #1 son and I rode back so I could get the car and go get the rest of the family so they do not have to ride near speeding cars. From there we satisfied our thirst and hunger at Zilker Brewing Co and Hot Mess (food truck parked there). Everybody was happy again.  

zilker brewing happy wife happy life #zilkerbrewing 

They had an IPA there made from Mosaic (lupulin) powder and "Barbarian" yeast. This yeast has purported origins from a famed Vermont brewery and recommended for Heady Topper clone beers... It was really good. I've decided I can't really complain about the local brewing scene here if I don't make an effort to keep up with the contributors. I can recommend Zilker Brewing Co if they keep this up.


Still Austin, Local Bourbon and Distillery

We attended the Still Austin Friends and Family soft opening.

austin bourbon still #stillaustin 

It's a beautiful well thought out space.  

still austin bourbon spirits #stillaustin 


austin distillery cocktails bartender #stillaustin

We sampled a variety of clear (non aged) whiskey cocktails.  

still austin cocktails #stillaustin

 still austin drinks bartener #stillaustin 


It should also be noted they are next to the new St Elmo Brewing Co. I've not yet been there and I'm hoping to change that soon. Still would make be a good destination to try two new local libation offerings in one convenient location. They are in an Industrial Park, but it's worth seeking out.  

September 05, 2017

Hurricane Harvey spared South Padre Island

We had booked a Labor Day weekend camping trip to SPI back in June. We nearly canceled due to the hurricane. Harvey spared SPI and the forecast turned positive. Gas shortages nearly caused a second problem, but our X5 uses diesel and that was easily sourced. It turned out to be a great weekend to be on the beach.

south padre island bratwurst grill  

We spent two whole days just grilling bratwurst, playing in the water, listening to music, and enjoying the last of my epic Vermont beer haul (not hauling that much again).

hill farmstead growler south padre island texas society and solitude #7 

Society and Solitude #7 was one of the best beers... it's all gone now.  


beach shovel spi tx 

This small shovel has been the best beach investment ever. 

spi tx labor day 2017 

For the most part, we had the beach to ourselves. We shared it with the birds and the fishes (see the school of fish below?). 

school of fish souhpadre island tx 


south padre island koa bay sunset 

Sunset over the bay from the KOA where we stayed in the Airstream. 

Drambuie Modern Classics Cocktail Competition

Kat and I helped judge the Drambuie Chilled cocktail competition again this year. Top bartenders/mixologists from Austin compete for a trip to Scotland.

#drambuie cocktail competition #modernclassics 

The event was live streamed.  

#drambui #modernclassics austin cocktail 

#drambuie #modernclassics


Smoke and Exile by Tom Koerner of Clive and Bar Ilegal

1oz Drambuie

.75 oz Ancho Reyes

.75oz Montelobos Mezcal

.5oz Honey Syrup (1:1)

.5oz lemon juice

1 lemon peel for zesting (discard after use)

1 pinch of Sal de Gusano for garnish

#Drambuie #modernclassics