Last spotted in San Francisco, USA on March 28, 2003, 1:23 pm
Who is he? Where is he going? Where has he been? David Barrett / Quinthar
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The drive away from Dallas is as about as uneventful as any I've seen. It's flat and boring, but unlike the majestic scenes of the Southwest, its dotted with boxy houses and billboards. However, South of Waco (of Branch Davidian fame), the terrain gets some shape and the vegetation sprouts around, eventually dropping into Austin, the oasis of Texas.

Austin is the very much like the best elements of the San Francisco Bay Area condensed into one mid-Texan town. On top of the already hoppin' nightlife and huge selection of bars and nightclubs, South by Southwest was in town magnifying the chaos. I'm told that no less than seven hundred live-music performances took place in a matter of five days, in addition to a indie film festival and wacky interactive events.

The Capitol Building in Austin is an amazing place. It's absolutely huge -- it encapsulates the state's de facto mottos entirely: "Everything's bigger in Texas" and "Don't mess with Texas"
While walking through Austin I stumbled across an exhibition by the Austin Museum of Digital Art (Amoda). In a stark space with tall, unadorned white walls, polished cement floors, and exposed ceiling girders, all that was to see were these large flat panel screens. Hidden away behind white screens were the computers powering these screens, which were intended for user interaction.

There were several exhibits, two of which I found most interesting. The one pictured here allowed the user to click anywhere on the screen, and a circle of dots would ripple out from the click location, accompanied by some strange mathematical sound. Though I couldn't quite grasp the relationship, the mouse position had some sort of gravitational influence upon the dots, causing the circle to deform and move, dragging across the screen as it leaves a trail. Furthermore, the mathematical sound depended in some fashion upon the position of the dots, causing the entire thing to behave like some strange instru... [more]
In downtown Austin, right on Congress street, is the Hideout Coffee Bar & Theatre. During my stay in Austin was the South by Southwest festival -- a film and music festival that engulfs the town. When I visited the Hideout, the theatre-portion was filled with SXSW festival-goers, each with their special green bracelet that allows them to listen to any of the hundreds of live music performances going on throughout the city. As such, I took my tea and laptop to the front window to take advantage of the cooling night air. While there, no less than two cute girls took the opportunity to tickle my feet! And people say that there's no benefit to being barefoot...
Mike, Eryka, and I went for a walk with their dog, aptly-named "Mischief", down a trail along Benton Creek. After starting with a grueling hill (that was all the more painful on the way back up), we walked perhaps a mile and a half downstream. It was a great day and a great walk: sunny with lots of shade, as well as the occasional breeze to blow away the afternoon heat.

Located along the creek are several small waterfalls, one of which was named the "Sculpted Falls" (presumably due to the smoothly-worn rocks partially submerged in the stream).
Easily the coolest place I found in Austin was Pango: pan-Asian resturant with a fantastic selection of teas, each served in an extravagent way. As much as I wanted to try one of the many "Cha" selections (which are served in a traditional Chinese manner), paying over $10 for a cup of tea seemed a bit much even for me. Were I on a date, however, that'd be my pick. Anyway, after much deliberation, and some consultation with the manager, I decided upon the Taipei Garden -- a fruity, flowery tea served with honey in a glowing glass teapot set over a burning candle. Though I'm not normally a fan of fruity teas, and didn't care for it without the honey, with a dab of the sweet suger it was wonderful. I sat drinking many cups and enjoying the music for a long while.

Speaking of the music, the South by Southwest festival was in town, and there was music everywhere. In this particular location was a band (whose name I didn't learn) of five or so white-college-student-looking guys, p... [more]
On my way out of Austin I grabbed lunch at a Texan restaurant I miss very much: La Madeleine. I haven't eaten much French food (aside from "fraunch fries", and "fraunch dressing"...), so I can't vouch for its authenticity, but La Madeleine makes some great food for a great price. My favorite dish is the "Chicken Friand", which is a flaky pastry wrapped around a chicken core, covered in mushroom sauce. With that I got a side of vegtables and a glass of tea. All guests are allowed to select any amount of bread and jams to complement their meals (I picked the white bread with strawberry and grape jellies). Finally, the interior of the restaurant is just like some Disney Paris: lots of knick-knacks hanging on the walls, wooden floors, and of course, a fireplace. I snagged a table next to the fireplace and had a great meal, and a great conclusion to visiting a great city.
Well, the second week of my journey has come and gone. This week saw me in Dallas, Austin, and currently Houston, the most notable cities in Texas. Most of my time was spent visiting friends in Dallas and Austin -- friends I see all to infrequently, and won't again for a long while.

First I visited with Michael, Sarah, Heath, Tiffany, London, Dana, and James in a familiar meeting place: Sushi on McKinney. Tiffany had (and enjoyed?) sushi for the first time, though London is still probably a bit young to take the plunge. After that we headed to some new place to get gelatto -- food that was enjoyed by those of all ages.

Next I met up with Doug, Ken, Gringo, and Squirrel -- all employees of a leading videogame producer in Dallas. We wined and dined at Joe's Crab Shack in the West End with the beautiful waitress Tracy (whose phone number I *may* have been able to get, had I pressed it).

Then down in Austin I joined Gina and Terrence for some good gyro action... [more]

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