By Anonymous / Nov 24, 2010
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Articles on this Page
- 11/15/12--10:18: _Jigglewatts Burlesq...
- 11/15/12--11:16: _More Apartments on ...
- 11/15/12--21:32: _The Statesman's Sil...
- 11/16/12--07:50: _Day Trip: Lady Bird...
- 11/16/12--12:47: _Have Your Holiday G...
- 11/18/12--11:21: _Formula 1 Doesn’t D...
- 11/18/12--21:07: _Austin Tech Job Rou...
- 11/18/12--21:09: _Tech Events Roundup...
- 11/20/12--05:11: _Dining Out on Thank...
- 11/20/12--06:16: _EXPOSED! The Shocki...
- 11/20/12--07:14: _H&M Isn't the Solut...
- 11/20/12--10:07: _Trend Favors "Frien...
- 11/20/12--22:14: _The Secret to a Per...
- 11/21/12--07:24: _Austin Post Holiday...
- 11/21/12--08:46: _Will Downtown Traff...
- 11/21/12--17:29: _Holiday Minefield: ...
- 11/21/12--07:18: _Forego Black Friday...
- 11/21/12--19:35: _This Week in Geek -...
- 11/25/12--06:19: _If Texas Secedes Ca...
- 11/24/12--11:08: _Kickstarter of the ...
- 11/15/12--10:18: Jigglewatts Burlesque Troupe Shakes Pasties, Stereotypes
- 11/15/12--11:16: More Apartments on the Way on S. Lamar
- 11/15/12--21:32: The Statesman's Silent Treatment
- 11/16/12--07:50: Day Trip: Lady Bird Lake (Town Lake)
- 11/16/12--12:47: Have Your Holiday Gobbler Cooked for You
- 11/18/12--21:07: Austin Tech Job Roundup for Nov 19
- 11/18/12--21:09: Tech Events Roundup Nov 19-25
- 11/20/12--05:11: Dining Out on Thanksgiving: An Austin Guide
- 11/20/12--06:16: EXPOSED! The Shocking Origins of Tofucken (the Vegetarian Turducken)
- 11/20/12--07:14: H&M Isn't the Solution to Austin Fashion, It's Just Another Store
- 11/20/12--10:07: Trend Favors "Friendsgivings" Over Going Home for the Holidays
- 11/20/12--22:14: The Secret to a Perfect Thanksgiving
- 11/21/12--07:24: Austin Post Holiday Potluck: Our Favorite Turkey-day Recipes
- 2 large yams or sweet potatoes
- 1/2 cup honey
- juice of 1 lime
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 2/3 cups almonds, sliced
- 4 cups carrots, sliced
- 3 tablespoons butter (I substitute Brummel & Brown Yogurt Spread)
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic
- 2 cups raisins
- 2 heaping tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 lbs asparagus
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chili-garlic sauce (I use the stuff from Huy Fong Foods)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 6 oz real meat (Go to Quality Seafood and spring a few extra bucks on the real stuff.)
- 8 oz. cream cheese
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
- 2 tablespoons green onion, minced
- 1 package of rice wrappers
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Enough vegetable oil to cover your pan about 1/2-inch deep
- 11/21/12--08:46: Will Downtown Traffic Spots Become Outdoor Patios?
- 11/21/12--17:29: Holiday Minefield: Your Survival Guide for Dietary Restrictions
- Spinach salad with diced pears (spiced nuts and herbed goat cheese on the side)
- Carrots roasted with olive oil, salt, and Herbs de Provence
- Sweet potatoes baked with honey and lime
- Baked apples with cinnamon/pumpkin pie spice and butter (or coconut oil for the vegans)
- Crustless Vegan Pumpkin Pie (coconut milk, canned pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, agar powder, and maple syrup)
- Roasted Garlic (simple to make and a great condiment substitute for everyone)
- Cucumber and Strawberry salad dressed with rice wine and raspberry vinegar
- Cranberry sauce
- 11/21/12--07:18: Forego Black Friday and Cyber Monday and Simply Shop Local This Year
- 11/21/12--19:35: This Week in Geek - Thanksgiving Week Edition: Nov 22 - 29
- 11/25/12--06:19: If Texas Secedes Can Austin Remain?
The women of The Jigglewatts Burlesque Revue may be best known for the gravity-defying ways they make their pasties move, but there’s much more to the group. Burlesque is the performers’ full-time job – they choreograph dance routines, make costumes, perform around the country and, beginning Friday, will begin a weekly show in Downtown Austin.
The Jigglewatts consists of five women with performance backgrounds in theater, dance and singing. They got their start when founding members Ruby Joule and Coco Lectric (both women predominately go by their stage names) were involved in the making of a film about singing, dancing zombies called “Z: A Zombie Musical.”
“The subject of burlesque came up while a few of us were sitting around between takes, and we recognized a familiar mischievous twinkle in one another's eyes,” Joule said. “Turns out we all had dreamed of performing burlesque, so we decided then and there to put a show together.”
Fast-forward six years, and the women practice once or twice a week and perform a live show several times per week, in addition to touring and competing nationally as soloists. Beginning Friday, Nov. 16, The Jigglewatts will have a weekly performance at The Gibson Lounge above Maggie Mae’s, at 6th and Trinity.
Burlesque, as we think of it, got its start as a variety show popular from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century in cabarets and clubs. Shows featured female performances that incorporated singing, dancing, humor and strip tease, as well as comedy acts. Audiences often included both men and women.
Since the 1990s, and especially in the last decade, a renewed interest in burlesque has been making waves across the United States. Troupes, festivals and solo acts have popped up in areas far from Las Vegas and Reno. Joule attributes this resurgence to a variety of factors.
“It’s accessible, so anyone who dreams of performing can make it happen,” she said. “Its resurgence was very DIY in spirit; you didn't need an agent or manager or to go through an extensive auditioning process. You just decided to do it and did it.”
Performances by The Jigglewatts at a recent show ranged from a dominatrix-type act performed with a chain, to a Nutcracker ballet-influenced routine. Audience members sat at attention, hooting and hollering and also laughing.
“Some people come out of curiosity,” Joule said, “and some fans have been attending shows for years because they love the glamour, the creativity, humor and sensuality of burlesque.”
Lynn Raridon, the director of the Texas Burlesque Festival, has been watching this resurgence grow for years. She has a background in choreography and dance and performed burlesque in the 80s and 90s and helped resurgence burlesque groups Kitty Kitty Bang Bang and Red Light Burlesque with their choreography and stage management in the 00s.
Raridon was involved in the first Texas Burlesque Festival in 2007 and was asked to take over production the following year. She has been organizing the Texas Burlesque Festival since 2009 and said it’s only been growing. The first festival was held in the old Emo’s. The 2013 festival, April 11-13, will be held in The Marchesa Hall & Theater’s 500-person room.
“Interest in burlesque is exploding everywhere because people just see the value of this entertainment,” she said. “We’re going to a pretty old art form and what people don’t realize is that this was originally couples entertainment. This is the bathtub gin set for sure. It’s not just a bunch of men smoking cigars, it’s a mixed audience.”
Of course, not everyone embraces this performance form. Raridon said that PayPal, who had previously been the preferred form of ticket payment for the Texas Burlesque Festival, pulled out this year. She said she believes it’s because burlesque is considered “adult entertainment” with which the online financial transaction company didn’t want to be associated.
“There is still a stigma,” Raridon said. “Most of the women who are doing this, it’s empowering – embracing aspects of our sensuality and sexuality.”
Additionally, in a turn of events that has become famous in the burlesque community, The Jigglewatts were once banned from a venue. The group was scheduled to do a Bettie Page tribute at an Alamo Draughthouse in a Houston mall. When mall management got wind of the plans, they banned The Jigglewatts from entering the mall. For the most part though, Joule said Texas has been pretty welcoming of burlesque.
“Burlesque has been huge in Dallas since 2008, and Corpus Christi has a wonderful regular
show. We've been invited to perform in Mission, TX; Alice, TX; and even Terlingua,” she said. “Aside from the one incident in Houston, everyone’s been very excited and gracious.”
Still, there are stereotypes to overcome. One of the most bothersome, Joule said, is that burlesque is just “fat chicks taking off their clothes.”
“It’s true that you are likely to see women of all different sizes, shapes, ages and ethnicities
performing burlesque, and I think that variety is one of this art form’s greatest strengths,” she said. “Burlesque isn’t just any one thing.”
Catch The Jigglewatts weekly beginning this Friday for two shows, at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m., at The Gibson Lounge above Maggie Mae’s at 6th and Trinity. Tickets will be available at the door and online through Front Gate Tickets and Maggie Mae’s.
In the wake of Austin voters rejecting Proposition 15’s $78.3 million for affordable housing last week, the Houston-based Hanover Company will break ground this month on 225 unit mixed-use luxury apartment complex on S. Lamar Blvd. between Treadwell St. and Barton Springs Rd. Rents will start at around $2,000 a month, reports the Austin American-Statesman.
The upscale development will include a clubhouse with a fitness center, Wi-Fi lounge, entertainment areas, two movie theaters and private dining and conference rooms. It also will have a coffee shop or a small café connected to the clubhouse, along with about 6,000 square feet of boutique office space along Lamar.
Hanover regional development partner Marc Ott did provide some good news for those concerned about how the multifamily residential boom along the boulevard might worsen the thoroughfare’s mounting traffic issues.
“There is concern among institutional investors and lenders about oversupply of apartments in Austin, so we see the supply pipeline thinning over the next couple years,” Ott said.
The Austin Post recently celebrated 3 years of citizen journalism. I hope AustinPost.org continues to grow, to provide information that otherwise would be hidden, and empower voices that otherwise would be silent.
In contrast, the Austin American-Statesman is in its 141st year of publication and its circulation is in decline. There are a myriad of factors contributing toward this decline.
Some have argued the liberal media bias turns off a lot of people. I frankly don’t think the media is liberal or anything else because the media is far more than newspapers and TV. Talk radio, the Internet, and all manner of freedom of speech and free enterprise have democratized media beyond the confines of any ideology.
I received a survey today from the Statesman in which they asked if I thought they were too liberal or conservative. I marked neither. They also asked how liberal and conservative I was, and unfortunately they didn’t let me tell them.
However, I did give them an overall poor rating. Why?
I can’t trust them. When I read their reporting, I don’t know anymore if they are telling the truth. I can’t be sure they are deliberately leaving out information. I suspect their portrayal of an issue is not accurate.
I say this knowing they have some excellent reporters. They have done some great work and covered a lot of issues that I would not have known about without seeing it in their paper. That is why I have been a loyal subscriber for many years.
But that changed recently. I became aware that they were portraying the most intense political battle in Travis County as a two-person race. Repeatedly they presented Republican Gerald Daugherty and Democrat Karen Huber as the lone contestants in the campaign for Travis County Commissioner Precinct 3.
What they didn’t tell you is that I was on the ballot. It wasn’t because of a mistake. They knew it, and deliberately chose to deceive their readers.
Frankly, in recent years I think the Statesman has done a reasonable job of at least saying that a Libertarian is on the ballot. They don’t have to like us. But at least they would serve their purpose by informing voters of who is on the ballot before they go to the ballot box. They are certainly doing a disservice if they mislead voters down the wrong trail only to find at the end that a surprise appears on the ballot: Pat Dixon. Wouldn’t you have liked to know that before you had to cast your vote?
I would think that I would have earned more than a mention. I have twice won elected office in Travis County. My campaign had large signs distributed throughout precinct 3 and advertising placed on taxi cabs. I sent campaign postcards and made phone calls. I appeared at candidate forums and on television. My website had a complete history of my record on city council and full coverage of my positions on the issues. The online advertising I did reached a lot of people.
If that doesn’t merit mention, what does? The fact that other Libertarian candidates were mentioned in their articles and I was not is sufficient to suspect something fishy. The response that I received from reporter Farzad Mashood proved that they were selectively and deliberately excluding me and deceiving the public.
Now that the results are in, my 7,103 votes were triple the number that cost Democrat Karen Huber her office. The percent of the vote I received was higher than four years ago when my friend Wes Benedict competed against these same two people for the same office. This is remarkable considering it was the most competitive and expensive campaign in Travis County and I had no mention in the coverage of this race by the largest newspaper in the area. However, in the post-election reporting by the Statesman they again exclude my name as if it was a two-person contest.
I can only speculate that they don’t mind when a Libertarian is perceived to have cost an incumbent Republican their office. Jason Embry will tell you how Libertarian Greg Knowles had about four times as many votes as Republican Jack Stick lost his state representative seat by. Marty Toohey told us in 2008 how Libertarian Wes Benedict had about two-and-a-half times as many votes as Republican Gerald Daugherty lost his County Commissioner seat by.
But apprently things are different when Libertarians are a factor in the ouster of a Democrat. When Libertarian Kris Bailey exceeded the margin that cost Democrat Valinda Bolton her state representative seat, or Libertarian Ed Mishou exceeded the margin that cost Democrat Solomon Ortiz his seat in U.S. Congress, not a peep. As so it is with my results.
I know there are some very good reporters at the Statesman that try their best to present the facts and earn your subscription. But I also know know that there are those with agendas and you cannot believe what they tell you.
The Statesman is under no obligation to be fair, honest or accurate. They are under no obligation to even acknowledge Libertarians exist. And you are under no obligation to buy what they are selling.
Around this time of year, it starts to feel like Town Lake has been deserted, but it’s actually a great time to take advantage of our city’s aquatic rec room for canoeing, kayaking and even stand-up paddling.
Town Lake, like most of the lakes around Austin, is actually a dammed part of the Colorado. The “lake” was formed in 1960, when the Longhorn Dam was built to form the lake’s eastern boundary. The western boundary is formed by the Tom Miller dam, which was built in 1939. In addition to being created as a cooling center for the Holly Street Power Plant, city officials in the 50s and 60s also saw Town Lake as a future recreational site for the city.
However, by 1970, Town Lake was an eyesore of waste and pollution, hardly a recreational area. Enter Former U.S. First Lady Lady Bird Johnson who, with Mayor Roy Butler, established the Town Lake Beautification Committee. Under Lady Bird Johnson’s eye, the committee cleaned up the lake and built the hike and bike trails so many of us use now. In 2007, after Mrs. Johnson’s death, Town Lake was renamed Lady Bird Lake, although most Austinites still call it Town Lake.
Town Lake presents a wealth of recreational opportunities that aren’t limited to the summer (March through October?) months. The hike and bike trail is great for a leisurely stroll, an invigorating run or a people-dodging bike ride. And the water itself presents a variety of opportunities.
The lake is a favorite spot for The Bearded One and me to canoe. We normally rent from Zilker Park Boat Rentals, head down Barton Creek to the river and then go west until we hit the dam on the other side of MoPac. Not only is this part of Town Lake secluded, it’s also an amazing place to bird watch. This past spring, we saw juvenile Great Blue Herons wading in the water at the foot of a tree holding the largest bird’s nest we’d ever seen. You’ll also find geese and a couple of swans on occasion.
Canoeing or kayaking up and down Town Lake is a great nature- and non-nature-watching experience. You’ll see turtles, snakes, birds, fish, as well as mansions, bums and an amazing view of the City’s skyline when you’re headed east. We usually don’t venture further east than the Congress Avenue Bridge for a couple of reasons. First, the closer you get to the bridge, the more potent that bat smell becomes. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, head that way and when your nostrils start to burn, those are the bats. Second, once you get on the other side of the Congress Avenue Bridge, the water becomes noticeably dirtier. There’s more trash and debris, and the water is just muckier and smellier. Stay west.
Most boat rental facilities require you to return their vessels at sundown, so watching the largest urban colony of Mexican Free-tailed Bats emerge from their sleeping area under the Congress Bridget is an option but doesn’t leave you much time. If you’re traveling with a group though, one option is a boat tour from Capital Cruises.
Another one of my favorite Town Lake activities is stand-up paddling. I normally rent a SUP from the Texas Rowing Center. Not only is stand-up paddling a great workout, it’s also a ton of fun and not nearly as difficult as it looks. Sure, you’re guaranteed to fall off at least once, but that’s part of the fun. There are even groups who practice yoga on stand-up paddleboards. I’m not courageous enough for that yet.
Town Lake presents a host of opportunities for Austinites, their guests and out-of-towners and gives a glimpse into the collective Austin life – we swim, we bike, we run, we paddle. We have fun.
For some of us, cooking a Thanksgiving turkey and the sides is part of the fun and satisfaction of the holiday. For others it's a big pain in the bird butt. If you still want to have a traditional holiday dinner at home without the fuss and muss, fully prepared options are available for everything from just the bird to a full meal. But be sure to order early in the week.
Meals From the Markets
• Whole Foods Market has individual smoked turkeys at $5.99/lb. and roasted turkeys ($49.99 to $89.99 depending on size) plus roasted turkey breast, stuffed turkey and pork loin entrees plus complete holiday dinners (including vegan and healthy options) and all you might need from pre-dinner finger foods to desert. Order by Tuesday Nov. 20.
• Central Market prepares such turkey dinners as traditional ($139.99), herb-smoked ($149.99), gluten-free ($139.99) and breast-only ($99.99), plus white hickory-smoked ham, herb-roasted rib-eye, herb-crusted beef tenderloin plus a vegetarian holiday dinner centered around Gardein stuffed turk'y breast. Not to mention holiday tamales, a convenient package of traditional sides and all the rest. Order online by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday.
• H-E-B sells full turkeys ($65.99), turkey breasts ($55.99) and spiral sliced ham ($57.99) dinners all with green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, cornbread stuffing, cranberry relish and gravy for the turkeys, plus prepared sides like sweet potatoes with pecan topping and wild rice pilaf. Call your local store's deli counter to order.
Cooking Up Birds
• Local Southern down-home cooking fave Hoover's (2002 Manor Rd.) has 14-16 lb. whole turkeys roasted, fried or smoked for $56.95 (pre-carved for $10) plus pints, quarts and pans of sides. Order by Monday.
• Longtime campus area healthy and natural barbecue joint Ruby's BBQ (512 W. 29th St.) smokes turkeys for the holidays. They're $45 for 10-12 lbs. And $50 for 13-14 lbs. Get your order in by Sunday night.
• Want a table-ready Turducken? Buster's BBQ out in Lakeway (2125 Lohman's Crossing Road) has 'em Cajun smoked whole (average 13 lbs.) and in a roll (average 5.5 libs.) with such stuffings as dirty rice, cornbread, jambalaya, boudin and crawfish from $7.99 to $9.99 lb. They also sell pecan smoked turkey breasts and other holiday smoked entrees like prime rib, beef tenderloin, boneless stuffed leg of lamb, sugar ducks and quail. Monday is the last day to order.
• Bill Miller Barbecue (five Austin locations) prepares 10-12 lb. Turkey hens ($41.99) and 18-20 lb. Toms ($65.99) with giblet gravy and cornbread dressing (to be baked) plus honey-glazed hams. Order online by Monday and from one of their restaurants on Tuesday.
• You can get roasted turkey breast at Texas Honey Ham Co. (3736 Bee Cave Rd.) plus their obvious specialty and prepared holiday sides. Best to call and reserve by Tuesday at latest.
Keep in mind that your bird will need some time to reheat (an hour or two, depending on size) so plan accordingly. Copious doses of wine help instill patience.
The Downtown entertainment district may have been a mob scene this weekend, but that didn’t seem to translate to South Congress, normally a go-to destination for out-of-towners. In fact, SoCo was deader at 3 p.m. Saturday than I’ve ever seen it. Shops were empty, sidewalks were wide open and even the normally-packed Guero's waiting area was only a third full.
If F1 brought more than 120,000 people from all over the world into Austin this weekend, why weren’t any of them shopping the primarily locally owned boutiques on South Congress? It seems that rather than spreading the wealth across the city, F1 crowds might be simply making the rich richer by frequenting upscale restaurants and tourist traps downtown.
I visited several shops on South Congress Saturday, where I was told similar stories – the stores over-staffed for the weekend, thinking business would be booming but instead were confronted with below-average foot traffic.
Allen’s Boots, usually crowded on a normal Saturday and jam packed when there’s an event in town, experienced exactly this, said a store representative, Sean Greenberg. SXSW is the busiest time of the year for the purveyor of cowboy boots, with the University of Texas Parents’ Weekend and ACL Fest as a “distant third,” he said.
“Thanks to the hype surrounding F1 crowds, we’ve geared up for something similar to the music weekend of SXSW,” Greenberg said last Thursday. “Obviously, we just have no way of knowing since this is its first year.”
When I checked in with him again Sunday though, Greenberg said that unless Monday picked up, the “weekend will be like ACL – lots of people but not a lot of business.”
So what gives? For one, the track isn’t exactly central to the heart of the city. Sure, it’s within 15 miles, but that 15 miles could take one of the unlucky souls not in a chopper up to an hour each way, which doesn’t make it easy for fans to leave for a “quick break.” It seems race-goers head to the track in the morning and stay the entire day. By the time they’ve returned to their hotels, freshened up and eaten dinner, it’s party time, not shopping time.
With most boutiques closing between 6 and 7 p.m., they’re obviously going to miss out on most foot traffic, which seemed to be centered around downtown anyway. However, even earlier last week, when crowds were arriving but races hadn’t yet started, shop workers reported no increase in business.
Part of that might be thanks to the Austin description on the Formula 1 webpage. Although the page touts the “weirdness” of our city, suggested activities include going to the Children’s Museum, the Governor’s Mansion and a handful of other downtown-centered activities that few Austinites would describe as “weird.”
As expected, Downtown seemed to do well this weekend. Although reports came in of hotel rooms still being available, many were crowded, and the bars and restaurants were packed. At least some of those dollars were going to owners who live in Austin, even if a high majority was going to out-of-state hotel groups that hardly need more money.
However, I heard several reports of restaurant owners bringing in multi-lingual wait staff to ensure that restaurant guests felt at home. That’s great for the guests, but what about the regular wait staff whose bread and butter depends on these sorts of high-draw, high-dollar events?
This highly anticipated weekend seems to have been a bust for at least some local shops, who weren’t even seeing the normal Austin-based traffic as locals were scared off by the forecast of huge crowds. This is only the first F1 event, but unless we do something to make these events meaningful for more of the city, more of the city is going to lose out.
Update: Allen's Boots reported Monday that overall, weekend business was up about 30 percent, comparable to the weekend of SXSW Interactive. It wasn't clear whether that was attributed to greater sales per customer, greater foot traffic overall or both.
We’ve trolled Facebook, LinkedIn, and odd corners of the Internet looking for the tech jobs you won’t find on Craigslist. Most of these come from people at the company in question hoping a friend of a friend can help them find a good person to hire. Luckily for you, the Austin Post is your friend.
Certain Affinity seeks a Senior Sysadmin.
Tocquigny is looking for a new Freelance Production Artist and a new Graphic Designer.
Looking for an entry level Service Desk Customer Service/Technical Analyst. Contact: cindy [at] ppaac [dot] com.
Multiple positions available for Online Copywriter/Content Specialists. 3-month contract, $29 hourly
Seeking a Senior Software Developer in South Austin.
Looking to hire a junior level Implementation Engineer for a fun Austin company. Contact: katie [at] lunadatasolutions [dot] com.
Since being acquired by Ixia, BreakingPoint has some new positions available including a Senior Director of Marketing and a Content Writer.
Startup looking for mid level Java Developer. Contact: cindy [at] ppaac [dot] com.
WCG is looking for a Sr. Manager Analytics in Austin.
Seeking a freelance resource to monitor social media channels for 4 hours on Saturdays. Contact: danielle [dot] walker [at] rockfishinteractive [dot] com.
IT Jedi Master Seeks Apprentice (East Austin)
We’re kicking the design and development of 121Giving into full swing soon and we’re looking to bring on a full-time Senior Designer and Senior Architect and Developer who are passionate about giving back!
Calling all QA Specialists. Client ready to hire asap (contract to hire). Awesome company, benefits, 401K, etc. Contact: cindy [at] ppaac [dot] com.
Have a project manager opportunity with the state. Must have video production experience for educational/training purposes with public education. Please email me and I can send you a full description. Contract position, 900 hours, extension possible. Contact: clund [at] alliedconsultants [dot] com.
If you didn’t see anything that looked like a good fit, other good tech job resources in Austin include:
Launch Pad Job Club
Things are a little quieter than usual before turkey day, but there are still some good tech events going on. Start the week with a Mobile Happy Hour or a casaual C++ gathering, then end it at the Tech Ranch Campfire while everyone else is getting clobbered at Black Friday sales.
Mobile Monday Happy Hour
Nov 19, 6:00 p.m.
Cedar Street Courtyard
208 W. 4th St
MobileMonday Austin is an open community of mobile professionals, researchers and enthusiasts in Austin, TX. Its members share a common interest in mobile technologies and a desire to foster cooperation among individuals, the industry and academia. Please join us at Cedar Street Courtyard on Monday, November 19 for a networking happy hour event. No presentations, no demos -- just some time to grab some free drinks and meet your fellow Austin mobile community members. No tickets are required, but please RSVP so we can get an estimate on number of attendees.
Joomla User Group
Nov 19, 6:30 p.m.
Opal Divine's Freehouse
700 W 6th St
If you're looking to build your own fully functional, feature-rich website, a Content Management System like Joomla! makes the process much easier and quicker. Joomla! is one of the most popular Open Source (free GPL license) content management systems available. Come to the Austin Joomla! User Group!
North Austin Monthly C/C++ Pub Social
Nov 19, 7:00 p.m.
Join to learn the location
All are welcome to show up and chat about C, C++, Objective-C, C#, Java, Python, or software engineering in general. We'll have a sign saying "C/C++" on our table, so look for it! During the first hour, people come in and find a seat at our table. At 8:00 we ask the servers not to interrupt for a little while, so we can give everyone a minute or so to talk about who they are and what's on their mind. After that, people can shuffle around into new groups based on those introductions.
Headspring Brown Bag - ASP.NET Web API
Nov 20, 11:00 a.m.
10415 Morado Cir #300
With the release of ASP.NET MVC 4 brought a new component in the ASP.NET web stack, ASP.NET Web API. As described by Microsoft, ASP.NET Web API is a framework that makes it easy to build HTTP services that reach a broad range of clients, including browsers and mobile devices. ASP.NET Web API is an ideal platform for building RESTful applications on the .NET Framework.
In this two-hour brown-bag lunch, we'll look at where Web API fits in with the current choices for building web services. We'll look at what kinds of applications you would build using Web API and where it fits with existing systems.
Agile UX: Developing a Style Guide for a Large Company
Nov 20, Noon
2nd Floor, Barton Springs Conference Room
5001 Plaza on the Lake
Developing a style guide can be a challenging task. There are many factors that need to be taken into consideration. What are the benefits and difficulties of creating and maintaining a style guide for a large company? And how do style guides affect the Agile dev process? Let's discuss!
Austin Cloud User Group
Nov 20, 6:00 p.m.
12365 B Riata Trace Parkway
Our Turkey Day talk centers around Crosstalk and Druid. The talk starts out fairly high-level, discussing the problem domain (i.e., what we do as a company) and showing a demo. Up through the demo, the talk can probably be consumed by anyone technical or non. After that, I'll be getting into the technical details of how Druid operates. This portion should be accessible to any engineer and hopefully of particular interest to people involved in analytics, BI and data warehousing.
Nov 22, 7:00 p.m.
8012 Mesa Dr
Need to escape the family this Thanksgiving? According to their page, The Drupal Dojo is still on. The Drupal Dojo is for anyone interested in hanging out with other Drupalistas in a "hive mind" environment. There is no set topic or presenter so bring your laptop, a pet project and an appetite.
Tech Ranch Austin Campfire
Nov 23, 3:30 p.m.
Tech Ranch Austin
Jollyville Rd, Suite 100
Campfire is all about connecting you to the larger tech startup community. We bring out lots of interesting, accomplished people from the ecosystem so you can get the introductions, insight, and help you need to move your business forward, while also helping others. Our structured teaming activity facilitates getting know your fellow attendees at a deeper level than a conventional networking event to enable knowledgeable recommendations that quickly get at what you actually need.
One big problem with cooking Thanksgiving turkey dinners at home: the birds are so big that one must have a feast with family and/or friends to have it make any sense at all. But that doesn't mean you can't enjoy the holiday tradition of turkey and all the fixings this Thursday even if you are flying solo, duo or as a small family. Unlike the upcoming Christmas holiday, when restaurants serving up fare for the occasion are few and far between, Thanksgiving meals can be enjoyed at a variety of eateries all over town, and many are available to take out.
Go Out Down Home
Make it feel like a family dinner by hitting some of our city's longtime Southern/Texas cooking joints. Both Threadgill's locations serve roast turkey with cornbread dressing and cranberry sauce entree and two vegetables ($13.95) plus a pared down version of its usual menu from 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. (no reservations).
Hill's Cafe offers a choice of oak-smoked turkey breast with cranberry sauce or smoked ham and sides, pecan or pumpkin pie and a non-alcoholic beverage for $15.95 and $6.95 for 12 and under (reservations for parties of six or more). For the same price the Bakehouse has roast turkey and honey-glazed ham and fixings plus pumpkin pie or strawberry shortcake with unlimited seconds (reservations strongly advised; $12.95 take out).
At Hoover's Cooking the choices between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. include oven-roasted turkey, smoked ham steak, Cajun pork roast, Jamaican jerk chicken, smoked filet of sirloin or a vegetarian medley of grilled portabello on grit cakes, garden gumbo & acorn squash plus two sides and Caribbean fruit salad for $16.99. 24 Diner opens at 10:30 a.m. with brined & roasted turkey breast, turkey leg confit, Beeler's house-cured ham with two sides and a slice of pumpkin pie for $24 (plus usual menu) while supplies last. Hyde Park Bar & Grill serves a roasted turkey breast dinner for $16.95 (and a $12.95 vegetarian meal) from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at both locations.
Off the Beaten Turkey Trail
All Alamo Drafthouse locations will be serving turkey, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, giblet gravy, cranberry sauce, dressing, rolls and pecan pie with the scheduled movies and at some locations the University of Texas/Texas Christian University game.
Spare the life of a gobbler by dining at Casa de la Luz whose 100 percent organic vegetarian/vegan menu on Thanksgiving day from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. is fresh garden greens salad with sunflower basil dressing, mixed beans and vegetables, minestrone soup, apple & raisins quinoa stuffing seasoned with onions, celery, walnut & herbs, two real cranberry sauces (one sweet/one tart), sweet mashed potatoes with roasted pecans smothered in white almond coconut-milk sauce, kale & collards greens with crunchy sesame ginger sauce, almondine green beans with garlic and three-week slow pickled onion and beet. Even a carnivore like this writer finds the Casa's food delicious.
Cannoli Joe's serves brunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. with turkey (with italian sausage cornbread stuffing) or ham and sides and pumpkin pie or cheesecake for $17.99/$7.99 kids 4-7 and their Italian food menu (reserve now). The three Le Madeliene locations are open for early eating from 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. with roast turkey and spiral-cut ham samplers for only $9.99.
Fine Gobbler Dining
Green Pastures hosts an 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thanksgiving brunch with their "fabulous milk punch" for $63. Trio at the Four Seasons serves a Thanksgiving buffet highlighted by roasted tom turkey, smoked roasted ham, mahi mahi, chicken breast and braised short-rib ragout from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the ballroom foyer ($88 adult/$25 child inclusive) and until 8 p.m. in the restaurant ($78 adult/$32 child plus tax & gratuity). Hudson's on the Bend features a special Thanksgiving menu of its wild and exotic that includes an ancho cured pecan stuffed wild turkey served atop wild boar cornbread stuffing meal ($34).
Chow Down at the Old Reliables
Both Kerbey Lane Cafe's five locations and Magnolia Cafe's three restaurants will be open all 24 hours of Thanksgiving day. And Luby's (five Austin locations) will serve $10.99 Thanksgiving dinners to eat in or takeout from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Also note that the Eat Out In service delivers from the Bakehouse, Cannoli Joe's, Hyde Park Bar & Grill and Threadgill's.
As we all know, the turducken (a chicken stuffed in a duck stuffed in a turkey) has become a holiday favorite. But what of those who shun the stuffing of one animal into another and then eating them? They turn to the tofucken, sadly unaware of the true history of their precious Thanksgiving centerpiece. Be warned readers. The truths unveiled today cannot be unlearned.
First up, the fake turkey. “Tofurkey?” you say? “NO!” say I. Not tofurkey but instead that most beautiful of soy animals, the TOFUNICORN. Yes, it is actually the rump of this lovely and now endangered beast that is used.
Illustration courtesy of PETA labs.
When I moved to Austin a year and a half ago, I have to admit I was disappointed by the lack of an H&M in the area. In Boston, I frequented several of the store’s locations as a place to get a variety of clothes at inexpensive prices.
When H&M announced they were coming to Austin, I was excited that this staple store would be around, and I began to notice that others were excited as well. Austin-based reporters, bloggers and tweeters flooded our local chunk of the Internet with the ever-loaded word “fashionista” in high anticipation of the coming of the H&M.
The arrival of H&M would turn over a new leaf in Austin’s fashion scene! People would begin caring about fashion! People would put effort into their wardrobe! The reason Austin’s fashion is so boring has always been the lack of an H&M and finally, that would end!
Austin’s H&M opened Saturday in The Domain to a crowd of what I estimated to be at least 1,500. I swung by for two reasons– one, to indulge my retail whore side and hopefully score one of the 500 gift cards they were giving away, and two, to take some photos for the Austin Post. I couldn’t believe the crowd. Men and women of all ages and body types stood in a line that wrapped around a full Domain block and ended in a large mass in a herding area. They cheered, they danced, they celebrated.
Although they seemed to be having fun, people don’t seem to realize that H&M isn’t the answer to Austin’s style sense, or lack thereof. H&M is simply a place to get affordable basic wardrobe stock, as well as trendy pieces priced low enough that you don’t have to feel bad about wearing them for only one season. H&M will not automatically make you stylish. H&M will not magically make you want to dress better. H&M will not stop you from leaving the house all winter in the same dark skinny jeans, knee-high brown boots, T-shirt and sweater.
The key to a great wardrobe is mixing and matching pieces from a variety of places and styles. Copying an H&M mannequin’s wardrobe piece for piece won’t make you a “fashionista,” it’ll make you a person who has successfully mastered the skill of imitation. I’m not knocking H&M. Like I said, I missed the store when it wasn’t here, and now that it is, I’ll shop there. I’m just saying it’s not the only place I’ll shop.
I’ll continue pairing items bought there with items bought at Goodwill, at Target, at Marshall’s, at the boutiques on South Congress, at the North Loop vintage stores and at Macy’s. I’ll continue experimenting with colors and patterns and with layers and fabrics. And I’ll continue not caring if nobody else gets it.
In a town where jeans and a T-shirt are the go-to choices for the majority of men and women, I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that anyone who tries anything different is called a “hipster” in derogatory tones. Does that mean that a hipster is just someone who tries something different and is probably having more fun than you?
Austinites seem to feel comfortable in shorts and a tank top in summer and jeans and a T-shirt in winter. Maybe it’s insecurity with their own fashion sense that makes these people fall back on the old “hipster” insult but then line up for hours outside an H&M, thinking it will finally make them fashionable.
H&M won’t make you fashionable, but it will expand your wardrobe choices. It’s up to you to decide what to do with those expanded choices. Are you going to use H&M as another place to buy solid T-shirts and jeans, or are you going to try something new? Get a little weird, Austin.
Americans will take 61.8 million trips this week for Thanksgiving, with people aged 25-36 taking more than half of those trips, according to travel data compiled by The Bus Bank. While many 20- to 30-somethings take to the air and the road to go home for the holidays, a growing number will simply stay put.
Although it's difficult to find hard numbers of those who choose not to spend the holidays in the traditional way – gathered around a table or a tree with family – the anecdotal evidence is there, and the motivations are well understood, said Art Markman, a University of Texas professor of psychology and author of the book “Smart Thinking.”
A variety of factors are influencing more Americans to stave off stress and travel during the holiday season, instead spending holidays in their own home or with local friends. These include the complexity of having to choose between divorced family sections, a decline in hard-set family traditions around the holidays, and, perhaps the prime motivator, the high cost of mobility and increasing physical distance between family members.
“Families are far more spread out now than they were 50 years ago,” Markman said. “That plays a role because the travel time is longer, it’s more expensive and it actually increases the overall stress level of the visit because you’re taking yourself completely out of your own environment – sleeping in a hotel or even just a bedroom that’s not your own.”
For Dan Teasdale, a game designer at Twisted Pixel and native of Australia, going “home” for Christmas simply isn’t much of an option. The cost to cover flights for him and his girlfriend this time of year, which is the Australian summer, would be in the $3,000 to $4,000 range.
“And that's before I start even looking into hotels and pet boarding and things like that,” he said. “I do miss going for a swim after a Christmas Day barbeque, but I don't miss having to empty my bank account to do so.”
Of course, not all examples are so extreme. Adam Cooper, a 30-something resident of East Austin, spent the holidays last year with Austin friends but this year made the pilgrimage by car to Los Angeles to visit his sister’s family for Thanksgiving. It’s mostly money that keeps him from visiting his bi-coastal family every year, he said.
“Christmas and Thanksgiving are somewhat arbitrary occasions with the exception that there is a draw and an enculturation to acknowledge the tradition of family,” Cooper said. “I try as much as I can in my life to keep my family close.”
The idea that the holidays are arbitrary becomes more common for families spread across the country than for people whose relations are right down the street.
“There is a lot of work showing that the distance you are from something influences how specifically you think about it,” Markman said. “When you’re 1,500 miles away from something, it doesn’t feel like a warm, beautiful, lovely experience; it feels like a generic ‘Oh, the holidays,’ and from that distance is where you’re planning.”
Because of this distance, it’s easier to just skip the family holiday and celebrate with friends, or your “day-to-day community,” Markman added.
Last year, Liz Patterson, a grocery lead at Wheatsville Food Co-op who originally hails from Wisconsin, spent Thanksgiving and Christmas with friends in Austin, biking to different pot lucks.
“I don't necessarily feel homesick or lonely during the holidays because I have a different group of people that I love to spend them with,” she said.
Additionally, the holidays aren’t “a big deal” for her family, Patterson said, so she doesn’t feel like she’s missing out on not going to her parents’ house for Christmas.
“When we were younger, it was just more of an excuse to get presents, and now, it’s a way to sit the whole family down in one place for the day,” she said. “We find other times to do that anyway, so Thanksgiving and Christmas have become kind of whatever.”
A lack of hard-set traditions around holidays is another factor that makes it easier to stay put during the holiday season. A person with less of a base in holiday tradition will be less likely to feel the guilt that skipping that tradition can trigger, Markman said.
“If you didn’t grow up with a consistent holiday experience, it’s hard to feel drawn back to that as an adult,” he said. “So you have more people with weaker ties to the holidays.”
Although he says he’s not bound by tradition, Brian Hanssens, a 30-something resident of North Austin, said he simply enjoys going to his childhood home in Philadelphia for the holidays, although the high cost of travel makes it difficult.
“The holidays just exacerbate homesickness,” he said. “A couple years in a row, I had to work Thanksgiving and I didn’t even bother to celebrate. When you’re not with your family for the holidays, it just feels like another day.”
The holidays for Amber Billiard, a bartender at drink.well. on North Loop who moved from California to Austin last year, are engrained in tradition.
“Like a person with OCD, we celebrate these two holidays exactly the same way every year,” she said. “Each person makes the same dishes, in the same Tupperware, and no one deviates from the plan. It's quite funny to see this ritual each year.”
Being able to take time off work and budget the trip make it hard for Billiard to make the pilgrimage back to Bakersfield, Calif., where she was born and raised and where the rest of her family still lives. Although she’d rather go to Bakersfield, which she still considers home, Billiard said she makes the best of holidays that can’t be spent there.
“For the past seven years, I've either hosted or attended ‘Friendsgiving,’ which is basically a Thanksgiving party with my closest friends, each bringing a hearty dish or beverage to share,” she said. “My friends are somewhat interchangeable with family, so it's nice to share the holidays with those I love.”
As more people lean toward these “Friendsgivings,” another factor in this trend is that it is building steam itself.
“Once things begin to shift in a demographic, it makes it more acceptable for people to rethink how they do the holidays” Markman said. “If everyone is going home for Christmas, you’re going to go home too. But if you’re looking around and half your friends are getting together to hang out on the holidays rather than traveling to visit family and subjecting themselves to all that stress, it seems like a pretty good idea.”
I freaking love Thanksgiving. There’s nothing like filling the house with twenty friends, knowing at least two of them will end up making out on the pile of coats in my bedroom while the rest of us taunt them with pie.
I ignore the creepy and inaccurate pilgrim myth and all the newer politically correct grimness that counters it in favor of unironically celebrating the awesomeness that is America. We gave the world turkey, potatoes, corn and pumpkins. Once a year we revel in that greatness by manifesting our destiny to stuff ourselves with improbable quantities of our indigenous American foods. Then we watch athletes burn off all our calories for us in a ritual act of Football transference. What’s not to love?
Well, the turkey. It turns out I’ve got three vegetarian guests, a vegan, and one person with nitrate allergies, so no brined bird this year.
No problem. I offered to make the dressing with veggie broth and olive oil so it could be a main course for the vegetarians, but the paleo couple threw a fit. They tried sending me a recipe for an alternate dressing made out of onions, walnuts, mushrooms and ground pork. One of the celiac guests countered with a recipe made out of cornmeal, rice flour bread and oysters. It turned into a Pintrest nightmare with both of them posting competing recipes, health studies and veiled threats. Before it came to real-life blows I mercilessly abused Kosher as an excuse to veto both recipes then declared this to be a stuffing-free Thanksgiving.
That’s okay. The side dishes are the best parts of the meal. Well, they should be. I had to get rid of the sweet potato casserole because of a lethal nut allergy. The mashed potatoes and green bean casserole were nixed due to a lactose intolerance, though the paleo people pointed out they wouldn't eat dairy, either. In fact, the paleo folks also sided with the celiacs to remove pie from the menu since neither of them can eat the crust.
That leaves me with a huge bowl of homemade cranberry sauce. It’s vegan, kosher, paleo, celiac friendly, plus free of nitrates, nuts and dairy. It’s the perfect holiday food. In fact, this year, it’s the only holiday food. I have found the secret to a perfect Thanksgiving and it comes in one bowl with twenty straws. Bon appetit.
For Thanksgiving, those of us at the Austin Post thought we'd share some of our favorite potluck dishes.
These days, everyone has some kind of dietary restriction. I’m lactose intolerant and Jewish, so pork, shellfish and dairy are right out. I have some friends who are vegan and others who are hardcore paleo dieters, plus a few with celiac disease just to make things really interesting. It’s tempting to just hand them all a bowl of spinach and call it a day.
After a bit of experimentation, this became my go-to dish for pretty much every holiday potluck. Paleo dieters will eat the sweet potatoes, celiacs are happy to have something gluten free, and it’s totally parve so the Jews can eat it with anything. You will need to check with your hardcore vegan friends to make sure they eat honey. Other than that, this is in line with nearly every dietary restriction you’re likely to run into.
Chris-Rachael’s Honey Lime Yams
Preheat your oven to 400F. Peel the yams and slice them into roughly 1/2-inch circles. The thinner you slice the yams, the faster they'll cook, but you don't want to slice them so thin you end up with slightly mushy yam fries.
Pour your olive oil onto a paper towel and spread it generously all over the interior of a glass cake pan. This is mostly for the sake of cleanup. Honey and metal pans are not friends.
Mix the honey, lime juice, salt and cayenne in a bowl.
Dip each slice of yam into the honey/lime mix. Spread the yam slices in a single layer on the glass pan. Repeat in a second pan if you have more yam slices. Drizzle any remaining honey mix over the top of the yams.
You don't want to take the easy route by layering the slices then drowning them in the mix because the honey will just pool between the slices and burn. Give each slice a nice coating.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until each slice is tender.
These reheat easily in the microwave, so feel free to make them the night before your event then warm them up just before they go on the table. They’re a nice alternative to the heavy, dairy filled sweet potatoes seen on a lot of Thanksgiving tables. It’s nice to have something other than salad that most people at the table can share. - Chris-Rachael Oseland
Rob's Cajun Carrots Almondine
I'll admit it. I cook my orphan holiday meal sides to impress. And among those I seek to wow is my own damn self. That's one of the, ahem, joys of cooking – taking a basic recipe and enhancing it. And enjoying how it gets better the more adept you become at making it.
I did this one for the first time last year for the orphan gathering I've attended on the holidays for the last few years. It comes from the “Cajun Revelations” cookbook of award-winning recipes, this one by Henry Gillett. My changes and additions to the original recipe are in italics. What I love about this dish is how the sweetness and garlic conveys a yin/yang flavor.
Start by blanching the almonds in oven at 300 degrees as you slice the carrots. (I first use a peeler on the carrots until I get down to the core to get a mix of feathery shavings and thicker slices.) Sauté carrots and almonds in a large skillet in butter, honey and lemon juice. Add seasonings and cook until the carrots are nicely glazed. I add raisins towards the end for a nice accent, only heating them gently. Sprinkle on some brown sugar as you finish and stir it in to add further sweetness. Serves 8-10 at these proportions. – Rob Patterson
Chili-glazed roasted asparagus
This is an easy way to add some zip to a pretty great basic dish. The sauce adds a tangy kick without overpowering the asparagus.
After rinsing the asparagus and cutting a bit of the stems off you can use a peeler to thin down larger stalks. Place them in a shallow baking dish or roasting pan. Mix the sauce, olive oil and salt together and then pour over the asparagus. Use tongs (or your hands) to coat the stalks entirely and then loosely lay them out. These are great on the grill but if you're cooking indoors use the broiler at 400 and get them about 3 inches from the flame. Cook for about 7 minutes, pull them out and toss them around (with tongs). Cook for another 7 minutes or so until they begin to brown. Serves 8 - Cisco Gilliland
Royal Blue Grocery on Congress Ave. between Sixth and Seventh Sts. has transformed the two parking spaces in front of it into a patio where customers can eat and drink their purchases, reports KVUE-TV news. The experiment by Royal Blue, the City and the Downtown Austin Alliance follows similar "retail patio" programs in San Francisco and Portland. The grocery has paid for the space for the next year as its practicality is assessed. Owner George Scariano sees it as a way to possibly "increase and improve the pedestrian experience on Congress Avenue."
The nonstop food porn began the day after Halloween. Oh, you thought the bags of snack sized candy everywhere were bad, but this is so much more seductive. Everywhere you look, there are pictures of golden brown turkeys with dressing spilling out, surrounded by mountains of mashed potatoes, fluffy plates of cornbread, marshmallow-dotted candied yams and creamy pumpkin pies lurking on the side.
What could be more American? Turkey, corn, potatoes and pumpkins are all indigenous American foods, our culinary gifts to the world.
However, we’re also one of the most diverse cultures since the Roman Empire. That means we can all agree to sit down at a table together, but unless you want your night to end in crying and a trip to the emergency room, we can’t necessarily all eat the same foods.
Therefore, we’ve assembled this handy dietary restriction survival guide to help ensure everyone you invite to dinner can actually eat.
Vegetarians don’t eat meat; no chicken, no beef, no pork - nothing that used to have a brain. The basic philosophy is that these days, there’s no reason for an animal to die just so a human can have a meal. That doesn’t mean vegetarians survive entirely on salads. Vegetarians can and do eat all kinds of grain products, as well as plenty of fruits and nuts. You’ll find some amazing vegetarian bakers.
A lot of people get confused because there are different degrees of vegetarianism. By definition, vegetarians don’t want an animal to die for their meal, but some vegetarians will eat eggs or dairy because those animal by-products don’t take a life. When in doubt, you’re always best off assuming all vegetarians are vegans until they personally tell you otherwise. The conservative approach will save you a lot of confusion and potentially hurt feelings later.
Vegans are essentially very strict vegetarians. They take the confusion out of things by not eating any meat or meat by products, or anything produced by an animal. This means no chicken, beef or pork, no broths made from animals, no eggs, no dairy, and in some cases no honey.
While they do eat plenty of fresh vegetables, they also eat lots of grain products, fruits and nuts. Believe it or not, a hearty sage dressing is often the centerpiece of a vegan Thanksgiving meal. After all, it’s made of bread, veggie broth (instead of chicken broth), onions, celery, sage and olive oil instead of butter. If you want to bring a vegan/vegetarian friendly potluck dish, try fresh green beans dressed in olive oil with a pinch of kosher salt and the juice of one lemon. Pop them in the microwave for about 4 minutes, or until they’re crisp-tender, and you’ve got an easy, meat-free side dish.
Paleo / Primal
The increasingly popular paleo/primal diet is pretty much the exact opposite of the vegan diet. The core philosophy here is that humans are best adapted for the diet our paleolithic ancestors ate. Therefore, followers only consume meat (preferably organic), meat by-products, fruits, nuts and a limited selection of fresh vegetables. They don’t eat any grains, beans or lentils, potatoes or processed food. This means no bread, no mashed potatoes, and no green beans at Thanksgiving.
Dairy is a tricky issue. Strict paleo dieters won’t touch it while the slightly more lenient primal dieters tend to use a lot of butter and varying amounts of milk and cheese.
Meat, roasted pumpkin seeds (or other nuts) and a fresh salad are holiday staples your paleo dieter can enjoy, but things can get a bit tense when everyone else starts digging into the pie. If you want to make an easy paleo-friendly dessert that’ll be good enough to tempt your other guests, try some simple baked apples. Core 6 tart apples without going all the way through, stuff each one with a tablespoon of butter and a teaspoon of cinnamon (plus a dash of nutmeg or allspice if you feel like it), and bake them at 350F for 15-18 minutes, or until the apples are soft. After all the heavy food at dinner, sometimes a simple dessert that isn’t weighed down with too much fat and sugar can be refreshing treat.
Celiac / Gluten Allergy
As medical science progresses, we’re discovering that more people who would’ve been considered sickly folks with a weak stomach actually have an allergy to gluten. This is good news for them. As long as they avoid any form of wheat, barley or rye, they see amazing improvements in their health and wellbeing. That means no bread, no beer, and pretty much no processed food, since most of it has some kind of gluten in it. Even a lot of commercial spices use gluten as a binder. Symptoms range from some deeply unpleasant gastro-intestinal distress to itchy rashes to flu-like symptoms that can last days, so your average celiac takes their diet very seriously.
You won’t find a lot of celiac vegetarians. However, since the paleo diet forbids all grains, it has become increasingly attractive to people with celiac disease or gluten allergies. They can eat plenty of meat, vegetables, fruits and nuts. However, unlike paleo dieters, celiacs can also eat potatoes, rice, corn and other staple foods that don’t have any gluten in them.
This means your celiac guests can’t have dressing or cornbread (most cornbread is made using a mix of wheat and corn flours). However, if your family makes rice stuffing instead of bread stuffing, simply make it in a pan instead of cooking it inside the turkey and you’ll have a dish both vegetarians and celiacs can eat. Homemade mashed potatoes or yams (without marshmallows) will be fine, but either one from a box or can will be contaminated with gluten.
As an added punch in the gut, a lot of people with celiac disease are also lactose intolerant. If someone with celiac disease is coming to dinner, try substituting almond or coconut milk beverages (available in your grocery’s milk aisle) for regular milk in your mashed potatoes and other cream dishes. (Soy milk would also work, but your paleo or primal guests won’t eat anything made with soy.)
Believe it or not, most people in the world can’t digest dairy after childhood. Ability to digest dairy is a pretty recent human mutation that sprang up in a geographic band stretching from Europe to India, where people were in constant contact with cows. People whose roots go back to Asia, sub-saharan Africa, or the Americas have good odds of being lactose intolerant. This means they can’t digest more than a few sips of dairy without their intestines trying to get that poison out of their system as fast as possible. It’s pretty gross.
If you have a diverse group of friends or are hosting some foreign students at your holiday meal, make sure they know what dishes have milk or cheese in them. There are some enzyme pills you can take with your first bite of dairy, but honestly those only work about 3 times out of every 4. It’s not worth playing Russian Roulette with your bowels at a holiday meal.
Over 40 million Americans are lactose intolerant. If you know you’re hosting one of them, try using a milk beverage substitute (almond, coconut or even soy) instead of actual dairy in your mashed potatoes and other dishes. Also, have an apple pie on hand for dessert in addition to your pumpkin pie, since the thing that makes pumpkin pies so delicious is the presence of cream.
Kosher / Halal
Pigs are strictly off-limit for both Jews and Muslims. This means no pork and no bacon. If you normally make green beans with bacon or put sausage in your stuffing, just leave it out. Don’t suggest they should pick the bacon out of their salad or green beans, just as you wouldn't suggest a vegan pick around the oysters in your dressing.
Strict kosher can be a bit tricky since observant Jews don’t eat meat and dairy in the same meal. When dining out or eating with friends, most get around this by simply eating vegetarian or vegan. No meat means no messy business explaining the rules. Don’t be offended if someone who keeps strict kosher or halal brings multiple dishes to share. They’re not trying to insult you’re cooking. They’re trying to make sure they don’t inconvenience you while also making sure they have enough to eat.
Nut allergies are bad news. Peanuts (which are actually legumes), pecans, walnuts and almonds can all cause some pretty bad reactions in people who are allergic. When in doubt, just don’t use nuts in your holiday cooking.
This has become a tricky proposition in recent years. A lot of paleo dieters and people with celiac disease use nut flours in place of gluten flours. If they bring anything that looks remotely like it could’ve been made with wheat, make sure everyone knows that it’s nut-tastic. No one wants to spend Thanksgiving in the emergency room.
Inclusive Holiday Meal Suggestion
Feeding everyone can be royal pain. Don’t be scared of putting a turkey on the table, piling up a basket full of rolls, or whipping up your grandmother’s mashed potatoes with butter and whole cream. You have a right to include your favorite foods at the table. The important thing here is that you add extra dishes everyone can eat. Think of it as an excuse to fill your fridge with even more tasty leftovers after the big meal.
If you know you’re going to have a tableside cage match between people with diverse diets, here are a few suggestions for side dishes everyone can eat, even if you have a vegan sitting next to a paleo dieter who brought a lactose-intolerant celiac date.
It’s easy to get caught up in the holiday shopping season. Commercials and ads are thrown in our faces from Halloween to Christmas, showing us things we don’t need at rock-bottom prices. People buy whatever the TV tells them the hottest gift is this year, putting hardly any thought into the tradition of giving a well-planned gift to a loved one.
This year, think about shopping local rather than racing to Target at midnight Friday. Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, there’s Small Business Saturday, an effort started by American Express. Surprisingly enough, this doesn’t seem to be entirely a marketing tactic (or is, at least, a tactic aimed at creating good will) and even if it is, the fact that a large corporation is trying to raise awareness about shopping local on a weekend dedicated to Walmart is A-OK with me. When you shop local, your money is supporting not only the business owners and entrepreneurs in your city, it’s helping keep your city’s identity intact.
In a place like Austin, where locally owned shops abound, it can be easy and fun to forego the box stores at The Domain or out in the ‘burbs, instead finding one-of-a-kind gifts for everyone on your list. Although some of these stores might not be able to offer the same deals the big names do on Black Friday, a unique gift is a more special gift, bringing the idea of giving back to quality, not quantity.
Gifts for the Home
Austin overflows with great gifts for the home sold by the many second-hand stores scattered around town. Finding just the right gift in a vintage store might take a bit of hunting, but that’s part of the fun.
One of my personal favorites for furniture and décor include Hog Wild Texas Vintage on North Loop, which stocks predominately home items from the 50s and 60s, as well as vinyl, vintage games and clothes. Although the living room furniture is a bit pricey (although for the price, you often get full, matching sets that have been professionally cleaned), there is a host of gift options in the form of entertaining dishes, wall hangings, clocks, globes and much more.
Another personal favorite is Get Back Vintage at Burnet and 49th Street. In addition to a great selection of living room décor and furniture (I once snagged a 1960s wood and leather sofa for $80!), you can also score a vintage Pendleton for the special fella at a reasonable price.
When it comes to local options for ladies clothing, Austin really shines. There are several boutiques on South Congress I occasionally hit up for both clothes and accessories. Parts & Labour is one of my favorites for not only their selection of T-shirts but also their selection of dresses and jewelry, as well as upcycled clothing. Just south of P&L is Creatures Boutique, where you can get great tees, dresses and shoes that feature fun prints as well as playful and locally made jewelry.
For beauty products including soaps, gift baskets and massage oils, check out Austin Natural Soap. This company sells into other stores, like Whole Foods and Wheatsville, and also operates a store called Casita Jabon on W. Annie Street.
Like I mentioned earlier, purchasing a vintage item for anyone on your list is sure to show that you’re unique and appreciate things that hold up. Men are particularly easy to shop vintage for because a well-made shirt never goes out of style. In addition to the previously mentioned Pendletons at Get Back Vintage, another option is combing the racks at Creamon North Loop. Although the store is packed pretty tightly, you can find great stuff at cheap prices here.
If you’re looking for something a bit more modern for the fella in your life, check out Stagon South Congress. This store carries everything from bowties to aftershave, from watches to socks, and although it’s on the pricey side, these are high-quality items that are sure to last.
For Your Active Friend
Although it’s not solely an Austin establishment, Whole Earth Provisions Co. is a store that was founded in Austin and is still specific to Texas. From wool pajamas to tents, Whole Earth provides Austinites with everything they need to cope with – and enjoy – the elements. They also feature a selection of nature-inspired jewelry, shoes, active clothing and children’s toys.
RunTex, Austin’s running and jogging authority, is another great local option for the active person on your list. In this case, I’d recommend a gift card. Although it seems less personal, it’s actually a really unique present at RunTex, where the pros will test the way a customer walks, runs and stands to find the best athletic shoe for that person. With that kind of personal attention, a gift certificate is a great present.
For the Entertainment Junkie
It’s so easy now, when looking for books, movies or video games to simply head online to a certain website named after a long river and click away. Not only does this take away the pleasure and thoughtfulness of choosing a gift, it also takes all of your money out of your community. The local impact of a purchase made online is a big fat Zero.
On the other hand, taking a trip down toBookPeople, where you can peruse aisle upon aisle of new books not only gets you out into your community, it also keeps your buck closer to home. With two floors of books and a great discount area, there’s something for people with any interest. And for a less personal gift, maybe for a boss or coworker, they also have a great stationary section.
For the serious board game lover, check out Great Hall Games on North Lamar. This store features a variety of games, ranging from Settlers of Catan to Othello. For an especially nice gift, they also sell handmade chess sets as well as some beautiful backgammon sets that I’ve been eyeing for a year (hint...hint…).
Gamerz Videogame Exchange is a locally owned store that not only sells consoles and games but also buys your used ones, which could be a good option if you’re low on cash for holiday shopping! The stores also rent out gaming rooms for parties – a great option for getting your friends together to blow off family stress this time of the year.
Waterloo Records is an obvious choice for a music lover in Austin. The store sells music in a variety of formats, as well as DVDs and Blu-Rays. In addition, they make it easy to find local music by highlighting Austin artists. You really can’t beat that – supporting a local band at a local store.
For the Kids
Ahh, the kids. It’s what the holidays are really about, right? I’m going to focus this section in on what kids really want … and you know it’s not a sweater or new shoes. Kids want toys and Austin has two of the best toy stores I’ve ever seen.
Terra Toys on Anderson Lane is a paradise for kids of all ages. I’ve never entered this store and not seen something I wanted for myself. One of my favorite areas is their crafting section; they have every kind of craft kit I ever wanted when I was a little girl. Terra Toys offers a great selection of unique toys and ones that will take you back a few years.
There’s also, of course, Toy Joy on Guadalupe. Although much smaller than Terra Toys, Toy Joy is packed to the gills with games, stuffed animals and a ton of Rody toys, those weird inflatable donkey creatures you can ride. Toy Joy has enough weird kitsch that it’s also a great place to find novelty gifts and stocking stuffers. Stick-on mustaches, anyone?
Although this list isn’t meant to be all-encompassing, it hopefully shows that there are a ton of options for gift-buying right here in town. Austin isn’t “kept weird” by Gap or Neiman Marcus or even the shiny new H&M. Austin is kept weird by the independent-minded folks who live, work, play and own businesses here. Support Austin year-round by supporting local business.
There aren’t any big, dramatic festivals this weekend, but there are fifteen different low key excuses to get together with a few like minded geeks for some casual funtimes. Despite Thanksgiving, you can enjoy five consecutive days of boardgames with groups spread all over Austin. If that’s not enough geeky goodness for you, media fans can huddle together to watch the zombie soap opera Walking Dead, head up north to see John Carter of Mars with STARR, or stay central to watch some classic Doctor Who on the Alamo’s big screen. Of course, if your idea of a relaxing holiday weekend involves curling up with a good book, the Austin Fantasy and Sci-Fi Book Club’s meeting is this Saturday.
Halo 4 Tournament
Nov 23, 6:00 p.m.
3309 Esperanza Crossing
Join us for bi-weekly gaming tournaments at the Austin Microsoft Store every other Friday; join us this week for Halo 4! Player spots are limited to 32 so arrive early since this is a first come first served event.
Austin Fantasy and Sci-Fi Book Club
Nov 24, 1:00 p.m.
Monkey Nest Coffee Shop
5353 Burnet Rd
This month, the literary geeks get together to discuss Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey.
Austin Doctor Who Fan Club Watches The Claws of Axos
Nov 24, 1:00 p.m.
Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane
5701 W. Slaughter Ln
Ain't It Cool News, BBC Home Entertainment, and the Alamo Drafthouse are collaborating to bring you an afternoon of classic Doctor Who on the big screen. The showing itself is free, but they do ask you to purchase a $5 food voucher in lieu of a ticket. Meet your fellow Whovians and get your timey wimey wibbly wobbly fix with a classic old series episode while waiting for this year’s Christmas special.
Nocturnis-Amtgard Park Day
Nov 24, 2:30 p.m.
Brushy Creek Park
3300 Brushy Creek Rd
Cedar Park, TX
If the SCA has too much authenticity and LARP’s don’t let you get violent enough, check out this boffer sword fighting group. If you’re not familiar, boffer swords are usually made from PVC coated with foam and duct tape with a nice cloth cover. People get together to beat on one another, drink, and go camping. If you’re an outdoorsy geek looking for some good exercise, check them out.
Board Game Night with Austin Single Gamers
Nov 24, 4:00 p.m.
Newk's Express Café
9722 Great Hills Trail #130
Let's meetup for some board game fun! I plan on bringing Settlers of Catan, Small World, Bohnanza, Apples to Apples, Kingsburg, Saboteur, and The Resistance, just to name a few. If you want to just come an hang out and watch people play, that is cool too. If you can't make 4 pm, but want to drop by later, that is totally fine as well.
Geeks Who Drink Meetup
Nov 24, 9:00 p.m.
Opal Divine’s Marina
Trivia lovers can join a team for the chance to show off their smarts and win free drinks.
Austin Dungeons and Dragons Meetup
Nov 25, 11:00 a.m.
King's Hobby Shop
8810 North Lamar Blvd
Almost anything goes in this post-apocalyptic, fantasy, cthulhu romp 'round the sandbox of our imaginations. Swords & Wizardry and this campaign make it easy for players to come and go, join in the middle, etc. Rules are simple and characters are quick to roll up. New players always welcome. The rules are free to download. All you need are dice (and you can borrow some of those until you get your own).
Central Texas Boardgames Meetup
Nov 25, 2:00 p.m.
Silver Grill Cafe
4005 W. Parmer
We will play a wide variety of board games. Usual favorites include Dominion, Kingsburg, Small World, Race for the Galaxy, Settlers of Catan, 7 Wonders, Tichu (a card game) and many others. Bring your favorite game! Someone will most likely want to try it. Come out and have some good fun and good eats! The restaurant loves us. Sometimes we are the only ones there and most of us eat at least once there.
The Walking Dead Watch Party
Nov 25, 8:00 p.m.
Stomping Grounds Cocktail Lounge
3801 S. Congress Ave
Join the Austin Fantasy and Science Fiction Book Club for another trip to post-apocalyptic Atlanta.
Girl Geeks of Austin Board Games and Brews
Nov 26, 7:00 p.m.
Black Star Co-Op
7020 Easy Wind Dr
Enjoy some microbrewery beers along with Euro style boardgames in the company of your fellow geek girls.
Pathfinder Society Meetup
Nov 26, 7:00 p.m.
Dragon's Lair Comics & Fantasy
6111 Burnet Rd
Looking for some new faces around the gaming table? Delve into ancient dungeons, uncover lost knowledge, and advance the secret goals of your faction--whether it be the freedom-fighting Andorans, the good-hearted Silver Crusade, the shady dealings of the Sczarni, or the strict laws of Cheliax--and gain experience and loot for your character no matter where you game!
South Austin Game Night and Boards and Brews Meetup
Nov 27, 6:00 p.m.
3003 S. Lamar
This weekly gathering of gamers regularly hosts over 40 people playing a dozen different games. New people are always welcome.
Science Fiction & Technology Aficionados of Round Rock Watch John Carter of Mars
Nov 27, 6:45 p.m.
2000 S. IH 35 , Round Rock, TX
Join STARR for a fun evening of discussion, dinner, and a classic science fiction movie, 2012’s John Carter of Mars.
Girl Geeks of Austin Nerdy Knitting and Fiber Arts
Nov 27, 8:00 p.m.
Genuine Joe’s Coffee House
2001 W. Anderson Lane
Enjoy a laid back night of knitting, crochet, embroidery, or whatever fibercraft you love in the company of your fellow nerd girls.
Central Texas Boardgames Meetup
Nov 28, 7:00 p.m.
Wonko's Toys & Games
13776 N. Highway 183 #116
Boardgaming isn’t limited to south Austin. If you live up north, join the Central Texas Boardgames Meetup at Wonko’s Games. They have a library of a couple hundred games and plenty of people happy to play them with you
Want to see your event listed? Post the date, a current link, and a good reason why your event belongs in This Week in Geek on the Facebook group, This Week in Geek.
The Lone Star State has always had an independent streak, and the notion that there is a secession clause in the Republic's statehood agreement with the United States is a persistent Texas folk myth. And in the recent post-election secession petition craze on the White House We The People site, our state has racked up more signatures than any other requesting separation from the union, reports The New York Times.
However, some here in Austin want our city to remain in America. Local resident Caleb M. has also started a petition that as of Sunday, Nov. 25 needs more then 16,000 signatures to be considered by the executive branch. It reads:
Austin Texas continues to suffer difficulties stemming from the lack of civil, religious, and political freedoms imposed upon the city by less liberally minded Texans. It is entirely feasible for Austin to operate as its own state, within the United States, in the event that Texas is successful in the current bid to secede. It is important for Austin to remain in the union as to do so would protect it's citizens' standard of living and re-secure their rights and liberties in accordance with the original ideas and beliefs of our founding fathers.
We would also like to annex Dublin Texas, Lockhart Texas, & Shiner Texas.
So get busy signing, Austinites! (And will someone please let Calab know that Dublin Dr. Pepper stopped being produced, alas, earlier this year?)
There is so much to like about this week’s Austin Kickstarter. The Switchbox: Flexible, rugged gearing for robotics Kickstarter is part of the High School Startups project. Clever young entrepreneurs get mentoring and guidance about real world uses and applications of their ideas. Then they build their prototypes using 3D printers, like a MakerBot, and launch the prototypes on Kickstarter to see if the world is ready for their idea.
The young men behind Switchbox tour the competitive robotics circuit as members of LC Anderson High School’s FIRST Robotics Team. If you’re not familiar with competitive robotics, it’s just as awesome as it sounds. The team noticed both they and their competitors had real problems with robots stripping out their gears in competition conditions, plus a few less dramatic but equally frustrating gearbox related problems. Being young engineers, they saw an obvious solution: build a better gearbox.
This is one of those projects that makes me happy crowdfunding exists. These guys want to solve a real-world problem for a small, niche group of hobbyists. Twenty years ago it would be nearly impossible for them to get any kind of funding. Now, people who want one of their gearboxes can support the Kickstarter. If there’s enough demand, they’ll get to go to market. Switchbox is exactly the kind of project Kickstarter was made to support.
If you just want to show them a little moral support, you can buy a t-shirt for either $15 or $25. If you or a budding roboticist in your life wants a gearbox, the single ratio model costs $140 while the one with two different gear ratios costs $175. They also have an unlockable $100 stress test reward. Basically, if enough people want to see them do it, they’ll put their gearboxes through some extreme challenges to see just what it takes to make them break.
I’ll be honest - I love everything about this project. This kind of hands-on, real world engineering is exactly what we need in order to get more young people interested in science and technology careers. To keep “real world engineering” from sounding too boring and mature, throw in a good robot fight club. Oh, and while they’re learning to make and fight robots, running a Kickstarter teaches them business skills.
It’s a shame they don’t have more support levels for people who love the idea but don’t really need a gearbox. If you do know someone on the competitive robotics circuit, a Switchbox would make an excellent gift. Just make sure they program their robot to understand you are to be spared in the Robopocalypse.
Curious how our previous Austin Kickstarters did?
The Ghastlycrud Zombies was fully funded! They earned over $6100 with an initial goal of $4300, so the book is in good shape.
The Live Action Jem and the Holograms Movie was over 250% funded! Mind you, they were only asking for $200. Go ahead and throw them a couple more bucks just to be part of something awesome.
Jumpshot made an amazing 500% of their goal! They raised more than $147,000, putting them in the top tier of all Kickstarters.
My Education was fully funded! Our instrumental band is set for their European tour.
Rockrgrrl Magazine’s GRL Talk Book was fully funded! They made over 120% of their original goal.
Strange Kid Comix was over 114% funded! They raised more than $2850 for their taste of pure pop culture nostalgia.
Wholly Kabob was 100% funded. They raised $15,250 to start a tasty new food trailer.
Texas or Die: An Anthology of Horror sadly didn’t reach its $7000 goal and therefore didn’t receive funding.
The Anachronist sadly didn’t reach its goal and therefore didn’t receive funding.
Stabil-i-Case sadly didn’t reach its goal and therefore didn’t receive funding.
The Doctor Who Review Project sadly didn’t reach its goal and therefore didn’t receive funding.
Taskbox sadly didn’t reach it’s goal and therefore didn’t receive funding.
The original Spinferno Kickstarter was cancelled and replaced by a new Spinferno for Android kickstarter.