You are what you buy.

So, I had a post about my weekend weeding the yard. It was fascinating, and unfortunately for you was destroyed when my system crashed. I know you’re disappointed. But I can’t muster the energy to rewrite it. So lets talk about this Salon article.

Since I know most people don’t read articles here’s the short summary. Basically the author is talking about those Favorites sections of Facebook and MySpace:

But why do we spend so much time crafting such elaborate summaries of our buying habits? It gets us dates, for one. If a girl posts a halfway-decent photo and expresses a taste for George Saunders, “Lolita” and the Clash, she is guaranteed an e-mail asking her to elaborate over drinks next week. (I speak from experience.) But the prospect of trolling for dates doesn’t explain the zeal with which people throw themselves into perfecting these lists, as anyone who’s received an e-mail notification informing them that a faraway friend has just removed “The Flight of the Conchords” from her list of favorite TV shows can attest. We don’t shill for profit; we post these lists to give people a sense of who we are. We plot points on a graph and hope it — we — will be interpreted correctly.

So true. But what the author doesn’t mention is the shame we feel when we are misinterpreted. I’ve trained Amazon and Netflix religiously. I’ve rated 2550 items on Amazon. 1203 movie ratings on Netflix. And yet I go to the recommendations page on Amazon and they’re recommending “Panic at the Disco”? I’m not a “Panic at the Disco” listener. I don’t listen to that pop-punk crap (except that one song). What are you saying about me? Why does Netflix keep recommending “Fried Green Tomatoes”? That totally doesn’t fit in with my B-Movie, Documentary, and Art Film persona.

Of course, chances are I would actually like these things. But they’d never show up on my Facebook list. People might get the wrong idea about me. I need to go buy the new Douglas Coupland novel to compensate.

UPDATE: I forgot about last.fm. Which is the ultimate damnation. We craft these ideas about what uber cool music we listen too. But last.fm records everything we listen too and tells us what we really listen to.

I thought Julie was the Cure fan…

Let’s Hear It For Light Rail!

So, I was thinking about how I personally could help to promote light rail. Far too often I hear people just regurgiating stuff like “CapMetro is ineffecient” and “all the buses run empty”. Obviously these are people who don’t know the facts or just choose to ignore them. But there’s a part of our brains that like to cling to these almost religious beliefs and defend them to the death.

So as I was running around my neighborhood this morning (not on trails, but some are due this Fall). I realized that we should try to get people excited about this route. Point out where it does go. Point out the other bus (and train) routes it intersects. Point out the new projects that are being built along its route. To that end I want to compile a list of cool places to live and work and go that are within a mile of this proposed route. I’m going to try to keep updating it. If you have cool places leave them in the comments.

Here’s the route again for reference:

View Larger Map

Here’s a density map from the chamber of commerce. A bit hard to read, but it proves that this route already goes through some of the most dense parts of Austin:

Arts (Wow, The Theater Community in Austin needs to get behind this. We’re only missing approx. 4 theaters)

Austin Museum of Art

Arthouse

Arts on Real

City Theater

Salvage Vanguard

The Vortex

The Long Center

The Dougherty Arts Center

Bass Concert Hall

McCollough Theater

Payne Theater

Brocket Theater

UT Lab Theater

Restaurants

Hoovers

East Side Cafe

Sandy’s

Parks

Ladybird Lake Hike and Bike Trail

Waterloo Park

Little Stacy Park

Lakeshore Park

Auditorium Shores

Living (Trying just to list only new stuff here, and doing a poor jobs of getting actual names)

360

CWS Towers

Four Seasons Residences

Star Riverside Condos

Mueller

AMLI Residential Riverside Project

Sutton Co. Condos

Cypress Real Estate Advisors Mixed-Use Project on Lakeshore

W Hotel and Residences

Brazos Lofts

The Paramount’s Loft Project

Shopping

HEB on Riverside

Misc

Airport

KOOP Radio

Peter Pan Golf

Riverside Golf Course

The Convention Center

Education

ACC Riverside

University of Texas

Health

Brackenridge Hospital

Dell Children’s Hospital

Employment Centers

Met Center

University of Texas

Capitol

City Hall

Mueller Employers

Sports

Erwin Center

Royal Stadium

Disch-Falk Field

Connections

All local bus routes (1-37)

All flyer bus routes (I think)

Commuter Rail

Hotels

4 Seasons

Ok, back to work. You guys help me fill in the rest. I think this is making a pretty good case for light rail.

Co-sleeping?

It looks like the second largest cause of death for children in Austin might be because of the uptick in co-sleeping:

Travis County officials warn parents — don’t use alcohol, drugs or sedating medicines if you chose to sleep with your infant. The safest place for you baby to sleep is a crib or bassinet. Always place an infant on their back to sleep.

This is especially scary since:

In 2007, seven children died of suffocation or asphyxiation. And so far in 2008, Travis County has already reached that same number.

I definitely sleep to heavily to sleep with a child in bed.

Hooray for Light Rail

This is awesome. They’re proposing light rail through my neck of the woods.

View Larger Map

Hopefully this won’t get killed by all the haters in the suburbs. Maybe by throwing them a bone in the case of commuter rail they’ll let those of us in central austin have light rail.

I’m actually hopeful about this. By going down Riverside there are no obstructionist Neighborhood Associations to get in the way, and a lot of new condo developers who would love this amenity. It will provide a quick and easy way for us to get to the long center (and the Dougherty Arts Center by proxy), the hike and bike trail, etc. And I’m sure they’ll rejigger a lot of the bus routes to meet up with it.

I know I shouldn’t get excited about it, but it would be a really good change for Austin. The last few times I’ve gone downtown at night I’ve noticed that parking is becoming a nightmare. The Long center costs $7/car. Which I suppose is normal if you’re seeing a $100 show. But if you’re seeing a $15 show in the small theater it’s a bit exorbitant. We really need something like this to keep people in downtown and the cars out.

More Trail

Great News! No matter what you feel about this neighborhood associations vs. developers story, the fact that we’re getting the extension to the Lady Bird Lake Trail is great news. That was one of the worst stretches to run on the sidewalk, and navigating through the parking lot to get to the sidewalk was always an adventure in not getting hit by a government employee traveling 50mph over speed bumps.

On the topic of buses…

The Austinist is running a series on getting to know your city council candidate. It’s been uninteresting to say the least. It looks like they’re all copying each other’s answers – “Growth Bad! Bring Back Old Austin!”. But it truly got into ridiculous in the interview with Ken Weiss:

I’m proposing that CAPMETRO go to a hub and spoke system. The hub and spoke system is utilized by every major freight company in the world, including FedEx and U.P.S. The hubs would be the current transfer centers located around town. Express buses would be uses solely at direct one stop buses from point A to point B. For example, you would get on an express bus at North lamer and 183 transfer center and ride all the way to the new transfer center at Congress Avenue and Ben White Boulevard. Limited buses would be confined to major roads like Lamar, Burnet Road, Congress, Guadalupe, Springdale Road, Airport Boulevard, and the like. These buses would stop only every 15 or 20 blocks and at those stops are where people could transfer to local buses. The local bus would be the bus making all the stops in a particular area or neighborhood. This route would utilize smaller buses such as a 15, 20 or 25 foot bus or even 15 passenger vans as the case may be rather than a 40 foot bus. These buses would stay strictly in the local neighborhoods.

Genius! He managed to describe the exact system CapMetro uses today. Exactly. Including almost getting the locations of the transit centers correct. He then goes on to criticize the city for “budget spending”. So I don’t think he’s a particularly viable candidate, but his answers aren’t that far off of Jennifer Kim.

Where’d the students go?

Julie and I have been having this ongoing debate about the number of students living around us. I think there are very few, she thinks there are about the same. I contend that the bus stops should be full when I jog by them at 7:15am, she contends that students don’t wake up that early.

So I jogged past one of the stops today and noticed that they’re discontinuing the PB line. That’s the one that goes down Parker and Burton. The one I took to school when I was in college. It’s being discontinued because students don’t live over here much anymore.

Interesting, although I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. The apartments Julie and I lived in are a condo conversion now

On a sort of related note, we took a walk and wandered through Edgewick yesterday. It’s a Newmark subdivison they’re building. It’s basically a bunch of small homes, townhomes, and garage apartment homes all stuck quite close together. We toured a few, and they really use the space wonderfully. Would have been great for us before we had kiddos.

But I am sort of sad that such a big development is not going to add any more kids to this area. I wonder if the City of Austin is right, and that in ten years we’ll be discussing shutting down Linder, rather than overcrowding issues. It doesn’t take long to do apartment to condo conversions, and there are a lot of apartments around here with desirable city and lake views.

Goodbye Roxie

Julie and I were getting groceries on that stormy day. We had our hands full and as I fished in my pocket to get the keys to the front door I saw something behind me. It was a bedgralled blond dog with long overgrown hair. She appeared to have decided to come in the house with us.

I put her in the backyard, but she started barking due to the thunder. Feeling sympathy I convinced Julie to let me bring her in and give her a bath. Julie didn’t want to. I gave her the bath and Roxie followed Julie around the house for the next day. Obviously knowing who she had to convince to get adopted. She was our hobo dog. Ready to settle down after a rough life riding the rails.

So yesterday stunk. We had our vet appointment for Roxie at 4:30pm. That morning Stella was a hellion. Screaming louder than we had ever heard her scream before. She’s been off kilter because our lives have been so busy, and I think our generally despondent mood just pushed her over the edge.

My mom graciously volunteered to watch Stella while we took Roxie in. Roxie had been lying in her bed for two days. I occasionally picked her up and took her to the water bowl or took her outside. While Julie was gone I took her to her water bowl. She drank a bit, then staggered towards the back door.

I took her outside and she stood on the grass. Then she staggered around, wagging her tail with her head in the air. Roxie was never a big tail wagger, so you could really tell that she enjoyed being outside. She wandered slowly through her normal haunts. Then she stopped at the best place in the yard. There’s a box hedge to the left and the right, and you can see the entire yard all the way up to the 600 year old oak tree.

Roxie just stood there for about 20 minutes looking at the oak tree. When I look at that tree I feel like my life is so short. Many generations have come and gone under that tree. I can’t even imagine how old it must feel for a dog.

Her passing was quick. The vet agreed that while she could potentially help her, she could never get her quality of life back up to anything resembling good. We got to spend some time saying goodbye to her after we agreed that putting her to sleep was the best option. They put her on a leopard print blanket so that she wasn’t on the cold examining table. She looked very peaceful as we looked into her eyes. Then she was gone and they took her away. And we sobbed for a bit. And then left to go get Stella and get some big hugs.

This morning Stella said, “No pee yet” when we walked into the kitchen. She had become the pee spotter for incontinent Roxie. And I had to explain to her that Roxie wouldn’t be peeing on our floor anymore, and that she’d gone to the doghouse in the sky to be one of Jesus’ doggies. And she did her frownie face for a few seconds and gave me a hug, and then ate her breakfast.

Thanks to everyone for your kind words.

I didn’t think it would be so hard

So my dog Roxie is dying. From what I can tell she’s dying of old age. This has involved a loss of appetite. Loss of weight. A bit of dementia. A bit of hearing loss. A lot of incontinence.

We kept expecting to wake up one morning and she wouldn’t wake up with us.

But she just keeps getting worse. Her back legs barely keep her up. This morning she woke me up howling softly. She was splayed out flat on the floor. She had slipped and landed so that she was partially under our Victrola, and couldn’t get up. Plus she had slipped on her own waste. Which I’m assuming was not particularly pleasant for her to lay in.

This insured that she got a bath today. Which she found unpleasant.

Then at lunch time she got stuck in the middle of one of our box hedges. And barked to be let out. Just now she got stuck inside a chair. I’ve figured out that she’s getting into these messes because she’s trying to stand up with something else helping to prop her up.

She’s sitting on my lap now. I guess we’ll need to see the vet in the next few days.

I guess I’ve been prepared for her to die, but not for her to suffer.