Category Archives: austin

Beer Proliferation

From a post at The Church of Zymurology beer blog today:

Tonight I passed up driving ten blocks to try a Ranger Creek 10% ABV mesquite smoked porter aged in Bourbon barrel cask with vanilla, cacao and cherries added to it – seriously where does it end…

Having driven across town to try some “extra-special” cask beers only to find out they a. are out, b. cost $10 for 6oz. and most often c. taste like foamed ass, I kind of get the point.  The point of ranting that is.  I don’t want locals (or anyone else) to quit making crazy beers.

Experimentation is the soul of craft beer, and like it or not novelty is a major driver of consumer culture.  The mainstreaming of craft beer has (so far) been to the benefit of “serious” beer people.  We’ve essentially tricked the “squares” into financing our outlandish beer tastes.  The constant churn in the casks and guest taps also ensures my old favorites aren’t tapped out by 8pm on a Friday.  And occasionally you do still find something enjoyable (if not always local).  For example, not too long ago Black Star Co-op had Bear Republic’s Racer X in their special tap.  Was it worth trying one (even with the tiny pour)?  Yes.  Will I still relish Black Star’s house Vulcan and occasionally truck down to the Draught House for “plain old” Racer 5?  Hell yes.

Time Warner Cable: Consistency Is Job One

Unfortunately, job number two for Time Warner Cable may be sucking ass. That blog post gave me the most intense sensation of real-life deja vu I’ve ever felt. Not only have I had this exact experience with Time Warner (at least three distinct times: two moves and then the transition to HDTV), but I have heard this story almost word-for-word from virtually every one of my friends and relatives who uses the service. The only commonality I can come up with is that it take anywhere from one to three years to get initial service stabilized at a given address, and then once every one to three years thereafter you will experience some kind of massive failure that starts the cycle over again. Multiple calls to support, multiple visits from technicians, and multiple equipment swap-outs inevitably ensue. Eventually you get back to some level of stability (or is it simply fatigue?).

I can confirm, as this blogger says TWC told him, that the responsiveness, at least, is significantly better on Business Class. You still have the problems, but a technician shows up in hours instead of days, and for the most part you skip tier-one support. In at least one case I was involved with, TWC rewired half a South Austin neighborhood to provision the bandwidth for 20 static IP addresses to someone’s residential garage (it’s Austin, do you even need to ask?). Still, they’re a little too quick with that “if you want better service, upgrade to Business Class” line. When you’re one person working from home it sounds a lot like “screw the average customer.”

Austin’s Cap Metro Joins Google Transit

Austin has become only the 10th city to partner with Google to offer computerized route planning via Google Transit . For some reason this is even more amazing than turn-by-turn driving directions. Perhaps because as someone who has never been a regular user of any kind of mass transit, the maps and schedules have always seemed particularly opaque and incomprehensible. In fact, I’m not sure I even believed that city buses ran on a schedule. And yet, I now know that if I were willing to walk to the bus stop (Google says 13 minutes from my house, but I’m not buying that), I could get to downtown Austin for 50 cents (the trip would consume about an hour, however, double what it takes by car). It even tells me how much the trip would cost in my car: approximately $5.25, not including parking. I guess maybe Austin is serious about that whole going green thing.

A Sign of the Times

I don’t know if this made it onto or stayed on anyone else’s radar, but there was a five-story skeleton of a planned 10-story Intel building in downtown Austin that was abandoned right around when I moved here, circa 2000, coinciding with the local nadir of the (first?) tech bust. Intel ended up with a much smaller presence in rented space south of the river, and nothing happened at the downtown site for six years.

Well, yesterday, they finally blew it up (by most accounts “they” being the federal government). To make way for… wait for it… a federal courthouse. Not just a federal courthouse (we have two already), but this Orwellian monstrosity. Didn’t we stop building stuff that looks like this in the ’70s? This design reminds me of the misplaced I.M. Pei structures of certain state college systems (SUNY comes to mind), except not as good. I spent more time than I care to recall wandering alienated through these landscapes of abandonment, ducking and cringing beneath the stained concrete and dirty marble facades of post-apocalyptic monoliths. Which is why I find this evocative editorial, overlaid with my knowledge of the area, so chilling: it’s going to be like Logan’s Run meets Red Square (hell, it’s already the Republic Square area–not far to go there). On the plus side, as you stumble out of the Gingerman at 2am, there should be plenty of jackbooted thugs around to help you navigate the barricades and find your car. Assuming there’s any parking left after they extend the security cordon. And by “help” I mean tazer you and beat you with batons.

You see where this is going, right? Tear down the remnants of the tech bubble; extend the massive apparatus of authoritarianism. Get used to it.