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    Photo Caption: 
    Waste not want not at this Saturday afternoon lunch


    According to the EPA, 33 million tons of food waste reach landfills each year in the United States. This food waste could be prevented, used to feed people, or composted to create a valuable soil amendment. 

    The Austin City Council should be commended for its unprecedented creation in late December of a new proclamation for 2013, the year of Food Waste Prevention and Recovery. This is an exciting development for Austin because statistics show that Americans generally waste 40 percent of their food, which not only has a negative environmental impact, but represents a lost opportunity to feed the growing number of hungry Americans.

    In the U.S., it’s estimated we throw away a third of the food we buy each week! This tossed food ends up in the landfill where, contrary to popular belief, it doesn't compost. The inside of a landfill is devoid of sunlight and oxygen, necessary ingredients for the production of organic compost. What you get instead is the waste product, methane gas, a contributor to global warming which the EPA estimates is 21 percent more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide.

    Food waste, however, is not a pretty topic to talk about, and compost piles to most people are not very aethestically pleasing.  Jake Stewart, Director of the City of Austin's Sustainable Urban Agriculture and Community Garden Program, is soliciting the help of local artists in addition to Austin's network of cooperatives and non-profits to bring awareness to the power of neighborhood sustainable gardening as well as ways to answer the question, "How do you make compost piles more beautiful?

    This renewed focus by city leaders on local food production will hopefully translate to increased awareness for the entirety of the slow food movement.  Participating as a community in the growing process of food at the front end is one way to ensure less waste at the back end.

    "The crazier our world gets now, it's even that much more important that we connect with each other and with the food we eat," Stewart said.

    Students at the University of Maryland have decided to take food trash into their own hands. Ben Simon has formed the Food Recovery Network which has now spread across 10 other college campuses. The market research initiated by Simon found that 75 percent of America’s 3,000 college campuses don’t have any food recovery system in place, which results in a waste of at least 22 million pounds of edible food each year. But that’s just on college campuses. Remember the sobering statistic of more than a third of our household food being thrown away? That translates to 70 billion pounds of food thrown away each year while one in four American children is at risk of hunger.

    Simon took his one student organization and spread the idea to 11 different student campus groups, including service and social justice organizations and a military group. This community network shares the responsibility of collecting food on different nights from all the many dining halls on campus and redistributes the food, resulting in the donation of about 30,000 meals in their first year. They estimate their numbers to have now topped over 90,000 pounds of food for donation at a value of $500,000.

    All this from a bunch of volunteer college kids running on nothing more than passion. Maybe some of them were listening when their parents nagged them to eat everything on their plates because somewhere in India or China children were starving.

    Food Recovery Not Food Waste
    Related Articles: 

    Eco2Go Cuts Food Waste and Methane Gas

    Eco2Go helps reduce food waste headed to landfills with new strategies.......

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    It's another good week to be an Austin geek. This week, you can enjoy food trucks and Star Wars, a Steampunk ball, Zombie Monologues, a big screen showing of the very first Doctor Who episode, plus plenty of laid back board games in between.

    Star Wars Outdoors at the Round Rock Food Trailer Park
    Jan. 24, 6:30 p.m.
    Round Rock Food Trailer Park
    500 N. Mays; Round Rock
    Every other Thursday night, the Force will be strong in Round Rock. Come out for a free screening of the entire trilogy while enjoying fresh food from the trailers.

    Call of Duty: BlackOps II Tournament
    Jan. 25, 6:00 p.m.
    Microsoft Store
    3309 Esperanza Crossing
    Come show off your first-person shooter skills at one of the Austin Microsoft Store’s Xbox tournaments! Player spots are limited to 32 so arrive early (around 5:30 p.m.) to reserve your spot. Bragging rights and great prizes (items will be announced the night of the tournament) are on the line so come on out for a night of friendly rivalries! Gamer(s) under the age of 18 CANNOT participate or win prizes without prior consent of a parent or guardian (adult must be present).

    Jan. 25, 9:00 p.m.
    Republic Live
    301 W 5th St
    Despite the upcoming release of “Warm Bodies,” Zombies aren’t quite dead yet. Join your fellow undead for a zombie themed nightclub bash all weekend long at Republic Live.

    Clockwork Carnival
    Jan. 25, 9:30 p.m.
    705 Red River St
    Hold onto those tophats my dear gents and ladies! For this fabulous night of Steampunk fun we have the one, the only, VOLTAIRE. Voltaire is a master of musical satire and he’s made a career out of transforming gothy, gloomy topics into laugh-inducing ditties. His music can best be described as a collection of murder ballads & tongue-in-cheek exercises in the macabre. Think dark cabaret with a healthy infusion of gallows humour.

    Alamo Drafthouse Presents: The Unearthly Child
    Jan. 26, 1:00 p.m.
    Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane
    5701 W. Slaughter Lane
    Whovians, here’s your chance to see where it all began! Enjoy the very first episode of Doctor Who, nearly 50 years old, in the full glory of a giant movie theater screen. This free screening of a classic Doctor Who episode on the big screen is brought to you by Ain't It Cool News, BBC Home Entertainment and The Alamo Drafthouse.

    Austin Fantasy and Science Fiction Book Club
    Jan. 26, 1:00 p.m.
    Monkey Nest Coffee Shop
    5353 Burnet Rd
    For January, Austin’s own Fantasy and Science Fiction book club is discussing Roadside Picnic, by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. Even if you haven’t read the book, you’re welcome to come by and help pick upcoming books. It’s your chance to pimp your favorite genre book to a willing audience.

    The Z Monologues and False Matters
    Jan. 26, 10:00 p.m.
    The Institution Theater
    3708 Woodbury Dr
    FALSE MATTERS improvises the psychedelic brew of Philip K. Dick’s themes, including the mutability of time, reality, and identity, as well as conspiracy theories, mind-altering drugs, psychic powers, androids and off-world human settlements. THE Z MONOLOGUES is a distilled version of the bestseller World War Z performed as a series of monologues for the survivors of a worldwide zombie epidemic. See both shows for the single price of $10.

    Dorkbot: The Future’s So Bright
    Jan. 28, 7:30 p.m.
    The North Door
    501 N IH 35
    It’s going to be a busy year preparing for the singularity. Face the future with your Dorkbot friends and some lovely libations. Also, information about upcoming SXSW activities for Makers and Professor Conrad will have his Rockin' Raven keyboard playing contraption on hand.

    Girl Geeks of Austin Nerdy Knitting and Fiber Arts
    Jan. 28, 7:00 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.

    Girl Geeks of Austin Board Games and Brews
    Jan. 29, 8:00 p.m.
    Black Star Co-Op
    7020 Easy Wind Dr
    Not in the mood for mixed company? Enjoy some microbrewery beers along with Euro style boardgames in the company of your fellow geek girls.

    South Austin Game Night and Boards and Brews Meetup
    Jan. 29, 6:00 p.m.
    Rockin Tomato
    3003 S. Lamar
    This weekly gathering of gamers regularly hosts over 40 people playing a dozen different games. New people are always welcome.

    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.


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    About five years ago, John Swift and his wife looked around their 6,000-square-foot Dallas-area house and decided it was just too much. Both their sons had graduated from the University of Texas and were living in Austin. The house they’d raised their children in was now far too big and the property taxes far too high. They packed up and headed for Austin.

    “We had an opportunity to move to a place where there’s no maintenance and we’re close to family,” said Swift, who retired 15 years ago and now splits his time between Austin and a second home in Canada.

    The Swifts are part of a growing movement dubbed the Silver Tsunami - it's not just young professionals and the creative class that Austin is attracting, the city's aging population is also growing. In 2012, about 20 percent of the Austin population was over the age of 50, and that number is growing as Baby Boomers residing in Austin age but also as retirees from other areas relocate here.

    “We have quite a bit of data demonstrating that Austin is growing older literally by the day,” said Sly Majid, chief service officer for the Office of the Mayor and a member of the Mayor’s Task Force on Aging.

    Austin is ranked the third fastest growing community in the country of people over the age of 65 and the single fastest growing pre-senior population (those aged 55 to 64) – that second demographic more than doubled in the past decade, according to City of Austin and U.S. Census data. In fact, by 2040, Majid said, one in five Austinites will be over the age of 65.

    “While we’re still a young city, the percentage of the older population is increasing and will continue to do so over the next couple of decades,” Majid added.

    Settling in the Central City

    A growing number of Austin’s new aging population is choosing to settle downtown, where the average new condo price surpassed the $1 million mark late last year. Realtor Jude Galligan, who blogs about the downtown housing market on Downtown Austin Blog, said 50 percent of his personal business is represented by empty nesters.

    “The kids are in college, they have big homes that are starting to fall apart in their stodgy boring neighborhood, and they want more,” Galligan said. “They have disposal income; they have the resources required in markets that are generally expensive.”

    Often, in fact, the downtown condo is a second home for many of these empty nesters and retirees, Galligan said, adding that a Hill Country ranch and a Downtown Austin condo is a common combination.

    Swift said it’s downtown living that prompted him and his wife to choose The Shore condominiums as their second home, citing the walkability of downtown as a major attraction.

    “If you don’t want to use your car, you never have to,” he said. “You can walk to the Four Seasons or PF Chang’s; you’re just steps away from 5th and 6th Streets, if you want to go there. There’s fresh bread down the street at Easy Tiger.”

    In addition to the nightlife, the turnkey lifestyle – lock the door and leave your home in the safety of a doorman, concierge and security staff – is another big draw with downtown condo living. Of course, moving from a larger house with a yard into a condo takes some getting used to. In fact, community building among the aging population is one of the issues the Mayor’s Task Force on Aging, which was founded in September 2012, will tackle.

    Building a Senior-Friendly Austin

    “The growth of the aging population will have a major impact on our community,” Majid said. “There are a lot of issues and opportunities for us to prepare for what folks are dubbing the Silver Tsunami – the ability to provide mental and physical health, mobility and community so people aren’t isolated.”

    The Mayor’s Task Force on Aging is a group of community leaders from all spectrums of the community that will look at these issues broadly and then develop strategies to improve what already exists and fill in the gaps where needed. For example, the Task Force, in partnership with AARP, held an event Jan. 23 to discuss what needs to be done to make Austin a senior-friendly, walkable city. At the same event, Mayor Lee Leffingwell announced that Austin is now part of the World Health Organization’s Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities, a group that learns from each other to make their communities more inviting and accessible for the aging population.

    “It’s a work in progress, but we’ll hopefully continue to move into a direction where we’re putting together tangible items that the City and other entities can begin to work on together,” Majid said. The City must be doing something right though, to attract such a growing population.

    Barry Lewis and his wife Romi took up residency in The Austonian in 2010, moving here from Westlake for the “proximity to restaurants, bars, UT, the trail, medical infrastructure and my Masonic Lodge,” he said, adding that he’s been able to make “instant connections with a wide variety of people and activities.”

    Like Lewis and Swift, a good percentage of the aging population that moves to Austin is from Texas, but as Austin tops list after list of best, most affordable and most cultured places to live, best place to retire is sneaking in as well.

    “The population growth isn’t relegated to young professionals,” Majid said. “Austin is a fun and vibrant place – there’s no snow and not much inclement weather. Austin as a great place is contributing to the fact that more people over 65 are moving here to spend their golden years.”

    Related Articles: 

    Austin's Asian American Population Booming

    Asian Americans are the fastest growing population segment in the United States, and Austin is no exception. The Asian American population here doubled between 2000 and 2010 and is expected to do the same between 2010 and 2020.

    Are Families with Children Being Forced Out of the City?

    Austin is the ninth fastest growing city in the United States, averaging a whopping 151 new residents each day, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It certainly means a changing landscape for what was once a small town, and one of those changes may mean fewer families with children.

    Area Growth Makes Downtown Living More Enticing But Also Pricier

    When University of Texas Associate Professor Aaron Rochlen moved from Northwest Austin into downtown’s Austin City Lofts on W. Fifth Street, his son Dylan, who was born shortly after, became the first child in the building.

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    The Zilker Botanical Garden is one of the first day trips I went on in Austin, before I even moved here. The Bearded One and I were visiting from Boston in February, trying to decide if we truly wanted to move to Austin. We went to the garden and were stunned that in one of the coldest months of the year up north, so many plants were blooming down south. It’s one of the things that sold us on the area.

    The garden is located on 30 acres adjacent to Zilker Park and just across the road from Barton Springs. It features rose, herb, butterfly, Japanese and even prehistoric gardens. At only $2 for adult admission, it’s absolutely worth visiting and provides a small oasis in the middle of the city.

    Featuring an array of native and exotic plants, the garden gives visitors a taste of something different as well as a lesson about Texas flora. The native plants section segments plants based on their need for sunlight, and plants are fairly well labeled. I love this because it makes it easier to spot these plants “in the wild” on more secluded day trips. The only native display that I think is lacking is the cacti and succulent display, which is cactus-heavy and fairly small.

    The garden is run by the City of Austin Parks Department and the Austin Area Garden Council and is a nonprofit. The Japanese garden, though, was a gift from a private citizen, Isamu Taniguchi, who worked for 18 months to personally bring the garden to reality. The prehistoric garden is another interesting one, recreating the dinosaur habitat that existed in this area millions of years ago.

    The garden receives more than 300,000 visitors per year, including many school field trips, which explains the Pioneer Village. The little square features a log cabin, a replica of a blacksmith’s shop featuring old farm equipment on its lawn and a vegetable garden featuring pioneer planting techniques. The old farm equipment is worth a glance.

    The Zilker Botanical Garden is on the small side, but is well laid out and, true to the area in which it sits, a beautiful example of the varied plant life in Central Texas. 

    Related Articles: 

    Day Trip: Mayfield Park and Preserve

    Mayfield Park and Preserve is small, but worth a visit for a couple of hours.

    Day Trip: Mount Bonnell

    Mount Bonnell is a mere 5 acres in the Austin Parks Department stable of outdoor treats, but it’s one certainly worth visiting, preferably around sunset.

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    I love the idea of backpacking – it’s a self-sufficient form of travel that forces you to examine what you actually need to survive. In 2006 and 2007, I went on a kick of trying to pare down everything I owned into what would fit into a backpack, with the idea of riding the rails someday. I eventually came to realize that it’s not 1930, which is when the interest in backpacking for vacation purposes began.

    Over the past few years, The Bearded One and I have taken some baby steps toward extended backpacking trips, doing a few hike-in camping trips, traveling to camp with just a pack (read about our Colorado journey here), and, finally, planning an extended camping trip for March to Big Bend that will involve at least two three-night backcountry trips.

    With the idea of taking a maiden voyage to see what backpacking would feel like, we recently loaded up our packs and headed out to the primitive camping at Pedernales Falls State Park, one of my favorite within-driving-distance parks. The overnight experience and 7 miles of hiking was full of lessons and raccoons.

    Lesson 1: It’s Not Supposed to Be Comfortable

    The Bearded One had done a couple primitive trips where he packed everything in and out, but this was a first for me. I bought a pack with the help of my REI member rebate last year and was excited to try it out for the first time. With my new pack loaded with 35 pounds and his well-used pack loaded with 50, we set out on the 2 mile hike to the primitive camping area.

    The 35 pounds didn’t feel that bad when we started walking. The Bearded One helped me adjust it, telling me that the higher it could sit above my hips, the more comfortable it would be. I made adjustments along the way, tightening here and shifting there, poking this part out and sucking this part in, lifting this and dropping that. It reminded me of being in yoga class, when you’re supposed to let your mind and your breath forget that your body is uncomfortable, knowing the discomfort would pass.

    Another difficult thing was figuring out how to balance. Packs are supposed to be weighted with the lightest stuff (clothes, sleeping bag) on bottom and the heaviest stuff (water, tools) on top. This top heaviness means learning a new center of gravity – instead of balancing with the middle of your body, you have to be conscious of not toppling over head first. It took some getting used to, especially going up and down hills. The main thing that kept me upright was thinking about how difficult it would be to get off the ground with 35 pounds strapped to me.

    Lesson 2: Don’t Panic About Other Campers Trying to Murder You

    When we arrived at the trailhead parking area, we noticed only one other couple about to set out for the camping area. They didn’t have packs, just a couple of backpacks and sleeping bags and other supplies that they carried. They didn’t even have sneakers or hiking boots – the woman was wearing a pair of casual dress boots – and they said they were surprised to find that the site was 2 miles from the parking area. I wondered why they didn’t just go to the drive-in campsites and came to the natural conclusion that it was because they planned to kill us while we slept.

    The Bearded One and I hiked along the path pleasantly enough, both adjusting and readjusting and keeping the conversation going to help us forget the fact that the adjustments still didn’t make carrying the heavy packs any easier. The couple that we’d seen in the parking lot passed us after a couple of minutes and I felt relieved to know they weren’t following us to our gruesome deaths.

    As we walked, we noticed a map that someone had left on the trail, so we picked it up and kept going. When we had almost reached the start of the primitive camping area, we saw the couple again. They had lost their map, consequently gotten lost and wanted to borrow our map and, oh my god, the guy is carrying a giant sword, no wait, a bamboo walking stick. We returned their map to them and kept along but now they were behind us again, plotting out just how they’d push us off the rock face into the river bed once we reached the camping area.

    I’ve always loved horror movies and I’ve always loved the outdoors. Unfortunately, it’s difficult for me to separate the two. I remember being probably 13 years old and sleeping at a family friend’s house; I was in their living room, which had floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the forest. I was convinced that something was lurking in the dark, and every time I saw a reflection of the moon, I was certain it was the gleam of an axe. I ended up sleeping on the floor of the guest room my parents were staying in. Somehow, 20 years later, that real-life fear of sleep-away camp horror movies is just as persistent. The second couple never did come to murder us, but something did try to get in our tent.

    Lesson 3: Don’t Try a New Trail in the Dark

    We made it to the primitive camping area and found a beautiful spot where the bluff jutted out over the river. We had a view of the moon rising against the sunset colors, and it reminded me that the closeness to nature and the sights were worth the discomfort of lugging around so much weight.

    Very unwisely, we waited until after the sun had gone down and we’d eaten our rehydrated food to go find the compostable toilet half a mile away from where we were sleeping. The path to the toilet was parallel, but uphill, from the main campsite path. As we walked along the main path, we noticed some unmarked trails going up the hill. As we turned the corner and began walking along the toilet path, we noticed some unmarked trails going down the hill. We figured they must be the same trails and assumed they were there to allow campers to cut through the woods, making the way to the bathroom much shorter.

    On our way back, we chose one of the paths and headed downhill. We walked out of the woods onto an area of the path that didn’t look familiar, especially in the dark. We began walking in the direction we thought our tent was situated and stumbled into an area that seemed even less familiar. So we started walking in the opposite direction, and I began mildly panicking. Luckily, we saw the lights of the now-less-murderous-seeming other couple and knew we were walking in the wrong direction. We headed back in the right direction and learned another lesson – put something reflective on your tent. It was almost impossible to spot. Even shining the light into the camping area, you had to directly hit the tent to see it.

    Lesson 4: Animals Want Your Food

    Back at the campsite, relieved to not be lost and not be murdered, we settled in for sleep. We placed both packs outside the tent under a rainproof tarp and hit the sleeping bags. The Bearded One was out like a light, leaving me to lay in the dark, wondering what every noise was. Soon enough, I had plenty to wonder about.

    I started hearing rustling on the ground outside the tent that led to rustling of the tarp covering the packs. I suddenly remembered the paper bag of trail mix inside my pack that I’d meant to put in a Tupperware before we left that morning. I woke The Bearded One, who retrieved the trail mix and a stray orange we’d forgotten, brought them into the tent and then passed out again.

    I lay there, trying to get comfortable when I started hearing the same rustling of small paws, followed by some chirping. I’d never heard raccoons speaking to each other and only recognized the sound based on the subtitled scenes from The Great Outdoors. I could see these raccoons outside my tent with their own subtitles. “Do you think it’s in here?” “Yeah, I can smell the trail mix next to her feet at the bottom of the tent. Let’s chew through and get it.”

    Afraid the raccoons would mistakenly bite my foot and give me rabies while trying to get the food that was now inside the tent, I tried to think of what to do. In the meantime, the raccoons were trying to get under the tent’s rain fly. Making loud noises and shaking the tent didn’t seem to have much effect on them. So I finally thought that if I slept on top of the food, maybe I could drown out its smell. I put the food in my sleeping bag, cinched it as tight as it would go at the top and it worked. The raccoons left and I immediately started thinking of odor-proof food storage options for our March trip.

    Lesson 5: It’ll All Be Worth It

    The backpacking trips we have planned in Big Bend will consist mostly of doing about four miles a day, so when we awoke the next day and didn’t feel too sore, we decided to do the five mile loop around Tobacco Mountain, one of the trails we’d never done at Pedernales Falls before. It was one of my favorite areas of the park.

    The trail takes you by a couple of springs where fresh, cool water trickles from rocks into puddles that trickle into streams cut into the rocks by who-knows-how-many-years of water pushing its way through. The sites along the ridge are beautiful as well, but one of my favorite parts was seeing the old Trammell Homestead.

    The ruins of a small brick house built around 1870 stand next to a stone wall, which were still commonplace before barbed wire took over around the turn of the 19th century. The Trammells had settled on one side of the Pedernales River and then moved to the other side, next to a spring, during a bad drought year. Hikers have gathered old rusty nails that probably used to be used in the roof from around the house into a collection on the stone ruins. It’s an amazing reminder of what the area must’ve been like to early settlers who didn’t have the luxury of ergonomic backpacks, compostable toilets and easy access to running water.

    Lesson 6: Read Lesson 1 Again

    The first half of the five-mile hike wasn’t so bad. Like the day before, I simply kept readjusting – as one part of my body got tired, I moved the stress to another part. But by Mile four, every region of my back was on strike; no matter where I shifted the weight or how I moved myself, everything hurt.

    “Breathe deeply, drink more water, you can do this because you’re strong, quit complaining” was on repeat in my head. It worked. Again like in yoga, deep breathing brought me peace, and reminding myself that temporary discomfort is, indeed, temporary helped me bear it better.

    We got back to the car, took our packs off, let our backs cool and we stretched. We had learned some lessons and knew that we needed to do a couple more practices and some strength-building before Big Bend. Thinking about the sites we’d see, though, we knew it’d be worth it.

    Related Articles: 

    Into the Rockies Part 1

    Austin is full of lovers of the outdoors. We love to camp, hike, swim, and many of us love to travel. The Bearded One and I recently discovered that roundtrip flights from Austin to Denver are surprisingly affordable (we got ours for about $160 each).

    Day Trip: Pedernales Falls State Park. Come for the Falls Stay for the Trees


    Pedernales Falls State Park is one of my favorite places for a hike, swim or overnight trip in the Austin area. The waterfall is beautiful, the river is lined with centuries-old bald cypress trees, and plenty of wildlife can be seen.

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    The big news this week is HTML5.tx, a nifty and useful looking conference. There’s also a city government sponsored Hackathon, a three hour mini-hackathon at Capital Factory, and plenty of user groups to keep Austin’s coders heads buzzing with nifty new information.

    ONA: Innovation in Media
    Jan. 28, 6:30 p.m.
    Austin American-Statesman
    305 South Congress Ave
    Join us on Monday, January 28 as we discuss Innovation in Media. Tim Lott is vice president for disruptive innovation at Cox Media Group, parent company of the Austin American-Statesman. Tim oversees a small skunkworks operation based in Capital Factory, the tech incubator in downtown Austin. The team is responsible for developing new products and spinoff businesses for the media giant. Tim will address strategy and development and provide a demonstration of the app. This will be an interesting look at how new ideas are generated by media companies.

    Architect SIG: Architect War Stories
    Jan. 29, Noon
    12365 Riata Trace Pkwy
    Topic: January Meeting - Architecture War Stories. We have them. We all have them. Whether you're an architect who has had to deal with legacy decisions made by your predecessor...or yourself just months earlier; or a developer who can't believe that you have to modify 12 source files just to change a message displayed to a user; or an executive who can't understand why the new feature you want will take 3 months longer than the last feature you requested, we all have our war stories of bad architectures that we share around the campfire with our brethren-in-arms. Please come share your stories with the group.

    DevOpsSig: Breaking Through Barriers
    Jan. 30, Noon
    3900 N. Capital of TX Hwy
    When building up anything in human endeavor, there are periods of rapid progress and then there are plateaus. DevOps has the same pattern. What progress plateaus have you hit when adopting DevOps? Join us for DevOpsSig: Breaking Through Barriers

    OpenHack Meeting
    Jan. 30, 7:00 p..m.
    Capital Factory
    701 Brazos Street, Suite 1601
    After some introductions, we’ll have three hours of slinging code. You can pair or solo hack on anything you want. Open source, closed source. Work. Play. Python. .NET. Ruby. PHP. Java. Scala. Erlang. Clojure. Haskell. Objective-C. C#. VB. Even brainfuck - it doesn’t matter! Any skill level on anything on any project, it’s all good.

    Drink and Think with Lean User Experience Austin
    Jan. 30, 7:00 p.m.
    1411 E. 7th St
    For January I would like to do an informal think and drink. Let's get together, meet the new members and determine what you want out of Lean User Experience Austin in twenty thirteen over drinks.

    Keep UT Tech Grads in Austin
    Jan. 31, 6:00 p.m.
    The Tap Room at Six Lounge
    319 Colorado Street
    Keep our UT Tech graduates in Austin. We need them! A happy hour specifically for Austin tech company founders, c-level management, recruiters and startup investors to make meaningful connections with students, faculty and staff of technology degree programs from The University of Texas at Austin. Come get a sneak preview of the talent that will be graduating sooner AND graduating later. Let us work together to keep UT's graduating talent right here in Austin!

    Degree programs present will be electrical engineering, computer science and the Master of Science in Technology Commercialization.

    HTML5 Welcome Party
    Feb. 1, 7:00 p..m.
    Capital Factory
    701 Brazos Street, Suite 1601
    If you're coming into Austin early for HTML5.tx, or if you live around these parts, join us for a welcome party at Capital Factory, sponsored by Capital Factory, New Republic Brewing and Luna Data Solutions. New Republic has graciously donated a keg of their fantastic craft beer, and we'll provide some snacks and other drink options. Come join your fellow attendees, staff and speakers from 7-10 p.m. as we kick of a great HTML5.tx!

    Feb. 2, All Day
    St. Edward's University
    Ragsdale Center
    3001 South Congress Ave.
    HTML5.tx is a premium-grade conference for all things HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Our inaugural event was held in Austin, in 2011 and the second edition is slated for Feb 2nd, 2013. Check out the promo video for a recap of last year's event, and to get a preview of what's in store for 2013.

    Austin Open Streets Mapping
    Feb. 2, 6:30 p.m.
    1309 East 7th St
    We have been working hard to bring you a meeting that will be fun, informative and put Austin OpenStreets group of the map. The goal is to meet and greet with some interesting people, develop a goal for future meetups and continue learning about open source mapping.

    ATX OpenGov Hack Night
    Feb. 4, 6:45 p.m.
    HubAustin Coworking
    706B W Ben White Blvd, Suite 200
    OpenGov Hack Night is for developers and designers to meet and work on projects in support of civic applications and open data. You can bring a project to work on, get help with a project you are working on, solicit volunteers to help you with a project you are working on, or just be there to help.


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    Prepare for a dystopian future where gritty bikers with bright blue LED-infused mohawks pedal down the mean streets of Austin. Alternately, you could just look forward to a Saturday night during SXSW when you’re not in mortal terror of accidentally running over a pedicab driver. Either way, the folks at Glow Hawk want to make sure you can see every cyclist on the road.

    Last year, auto-pedestrian deaths reached a record high in Austin. In such a bike loving city, it’s no surprise a local startup wants to keep people safe by making cyclists more visible. The Glow Hawk is a waterproof, high intensity LED headband designed to attach to a bike helmet so cyclists have a fighting chance of standing out against the bright headlights and tail lights of the cars around them. It can also be attached to a retro '70s-looking elastic headband if you just want to look like you’re an android with an exposed positronic matrix.

    This unpretentious Kickstarter only has five donation levels. At the very bottom, you can give them a buck just to show your support. For $25, you get a Glow Hawk in your choice of red, green, yellow or white. Bump that up to $35 and you can have it in their limited edition blue, plus a T-shirt. International backers can get the basic colors for $45 or the blue one plus a T-shirt for $55. That’s it.

    They have an ambitious goal of raising $12,000 in order to get full funding. That’s a heck of a lot of $25 helmet lights.

    I like simple technologies designed to solve real-world problems. Austin is a bike-friendly city. The Glow Hawk Kickstarter is a natural fit here, and one I hope wildly succeeds despite the high funding threshold. If you’re a cyclist or know someone who commutes to work by muscle power, this Kickstarter deserves your support.


    Curious how our previous Austin Kickstarters did?

    Ten Acre Organics was 158% funded! Their goal was $10,000 and, with your support, they brought in $15,828.

    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.


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  • 01/28/13--09:03: Austin Coffee Grows Up
  • A latte at Once Over

    My first wake-up call that coffee in Austin had "leveled up" was a visit to Once Over in South Austin. I ordered a latte and was bewitched by the complexity of aromas and flavors that tickled my tastebuds. People will usually point to Seattle, Portland, Chicago and New York as the best cities for coffee, but I'm here to tell you that a few places in Austin are closing the gap.

    I’ve loved coffee since I can remember. As a kid, I'd steal a sip from my parent's cups while they weren't looking and my favorite ice cream was Haagen Dazs’ Coffee. Fast forward 30 years, I still prefer coffee ice cream and it's a sad day when I don't have at least one espresso. Over that time, I’ve tried to stay updated on who makes the best espresso around the city. In the past, that meant frequenting places like Amy’s, Little City, the short-lived Peet’s on the Drag or the venerable Texas French Bread. Many of these places have closed, but a new breed has arrived and is changing the game.

    In order to learn about this brave new world of java in Austin, I reached out to food writer Eli Castro. He writes a restaurant blog called Grubbus, is a member of the Food Blogger's Alliance, and his “best coffee in Austin” post is his most popular by far. His love of coffee runs deep - he unabashedly admits that he used all the money from a previous business venture to purchase a professional espresso machine for his home - and he was excited to talk about the leap in quality coffee around the city.  We met at a new cafe on East Cesar Chavez called Cenote to grab a cup o’ joe and talk shop.

    Eli does a lot of travelling for work and always scouts out the best coffee wherever he is. He says the coffee being produced here is getting national attention, going head-to-head with famous names such as Stumptown in Portland or Intelligentsia in Chicago. He points to local roasters Cuvee, which just last week won a Good Food Award for their “Witness” blend, and who, in 2009, hosted a Cup of Excellence competition, one of only five in the world. He says another Austin company, Chameleon Cold Brew, which was co-founded by Steve Williams of Bennu Coffee on MLK, recently got national distribution for its pre-made iced coffees and was recently featured as one of the best bottled coffees by Bon Appetit.

    Riding Culinary Coattails

    Castro sees a connection between the rise in coffee quality and Austin’s lively food scene, with the many urban farms, flagship markets such as Whole Foods and Central Market, gourmet food trucks and identity restaurants like Uchi all turning Austin into a destination city for something other than music. “Austin leapfrogged from a mid-level market to an innovator.”

    He points to the opening of JP’s Java in 2002 near the UT campus as the launching pad. “They came from Zoka in Seattle and were trained by Branwin Serna who was the SBC National Barista Champion in 2003.” They also bought an $11,000 espresso machine hand-built by Stanford engineers called the Clover. It produced an incredibly smooth cup and so the bar was set. Soon after, Teo, the gelato shop in Hyde Park, upped their game, serving authentic Italian-style espresso. And in 2006 came Caffe Medici, which was started by a former JP's barista and was the first place to primarily use Cuvee coffee.

    Houndstooth Coffee in Austin

    What makes these places excel is a combination of barista training, the beans that are used and the techniques employed. “Many shops use the French press method while some are doing pour overs,” says Eli.  Most people are familiar with the French press, but the hardware and technique for professional pour overs can be a bit more complex.

    There are three basic styles: the Chemex, the Hario (from Japan) and the “clever.” Each requires special (but relatively inexpensive) hardware and techniques to optimise the results. At Houndstooth on North Lamar, located in the same strip center as Uchiko, they let you choose your coffee and your pour-over method, making it a good place to compare coffees and brewing styles. Funnily enough, all these methods, from French press to Chemex, have been around for at least half a century, but were abandoned in favor of the automated drip machines that now dominate the market.

    The pour-over process demands more time and energy than an auto-drip but you are rewarded with coffee with no bitter aftertaste and often a hint of sweetness even without added sugar or milk. When you’re talking to an expert about coffee, a new vocabulary comes into play. Eli uses terms like “a good bloom” and “citrus notes” to describe a great cup, attributes that seem more applicable to wine than coffee. He says at home he’ll use his Chemex setup for one type of coffee and use his Hario for another (“my wife prefers Hario” he says).

    It’s this same kind of attention to detail and craftmanship that we’re now enjoying in Austin, with people that are dedicated to the entire process: from the farm that grows the beans to the method of pouring water over the grounds. Each step is important to creating that perfect cup and it’s why many people in the business think it can be harder than crafting a great wine.

    All In the Bean

    And just like the grapes for wine, all this can only happen if you start with great beans. In Eli’s view, local roaster Cuvee is the anchor of today’s coffee scene, providing the beans to many of the best shops in town.  He says Cuvee roasters spend 3 to 4 months of every year at various farms in South America. Another way they’ve solidified their presence in Austin is by offering professional one- to three-day training courses in their “barista labs.” Other notable distributors are Texas Coffee Traders, Third Coast, Casa Brasil and Owl Tree, with many other smaller operations taking hold.

    In most cities, this increase in business would create a hostile cut-throat environment but, in a very Austin way, Eli says he sees a lot of collaboration between the top shops. “It’s just the least competitive people, sharing secrets in pursuit of the best coffee experience.” He also believes people are inspired by a new place opening and that, in many ways, it provides an anchor for the neighborhood and new local ventures.

    Cenote coffee house in East Austin

    Community is something that the coffee culture has always embraced. Cafes provide a public space where people can meet, collaborate or just use the space’s energy to get some work done. For some, the vibe of the room is just as important as the coffee, if not more so. Eli is quick to point out that in his own top coffee blog he focused on the actual cup of coffee itself and not the space. “Some places aren’t the best coffee but they do a lot for the community, like Dominican Joe’s or Ruta Maya.” He also gives big props to places like Progress and Jo’s for creating great places to hang and people-watch.  Conversely, some reviewers on Yelp have criticized the decor and vibe of Houndstooth, while still praising the coffee.

    Bring It On Home

    Of course, most of us can’t frequent these top spots every day, so I asked Eli what the coffee lover on a budget could do at home to improve the morning cup. He suggests putting together a decent pour-over setup and using a hand grinder for the beans. “Hario makes one for around $50 and they’re better than any electric blade or burr grinder until you get to the Baratza Maestro, which would run you about $120.” He dismisses the all-in-one machines because they get away from the most important thing: the flavor. “Pour-over gives you more control over the water temperature, the dispersion... you can see what’s going on and adjust your approach.”

    In many ways, that’s what it really comes down to: taking a little extra care to turn that everyday cup of coffee into a special treat .

    Not Such a Bitter Disappointment
    Related Articles: 

    Curra's Coffee Beans To Go are Worth the Visit

    About two and a half years ago my friend Amanda and I were making plans to meet at Curra's Grill for Sunday brunch. I mentioned how it had been a while since I'd eaten there, a favorite spot for both of us when we each had lived in Travis Heights. Plus, "I really love their coffee."

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    There are a handful of ways in which you can tell Austin is still just a small town on the cusp of being a big city. Restaurants that close at 9 p.m. and don’t open on Sundays is one. Another is the attitude many Austinites have toward parking.

    Parking has been a constant topic of discussion – and outrage for some – lately. Neighbors seem to spring into action over the idea of a café or bar around the corner, lamenting that they don’t want cars parked on their streets. Others think the City of Austin should provide free parking downtown and in destination areas like South Congress. I think everyone should just get over it.

    Austin is a developing city thanks to the unique personalities and businesses that are already here (and have been developing here for decades) and to the encouragement of the state and local government. People like Austin for its weather, its local businesses and its quirkiness. People moving to this city are helping improve this city.

    Would Austin be on the national map for renowned restaurants if chefs from across the country weren’t moving here to open them? Or if the creative classes weren’t showing a demand for them? No, and as a result, we wouldn’t have these amazing restaurants within arm’s reach. Check out our recent article on Austin’s coffee scene getting local recognition. Without so many people moving here from all kinds of places and backgrounds, this wouldn’t be happening either. Short and simple, the city is continuing on a path of creative change that was laid out in the 1970s.

    The attitude it seems many people have is, “I want to enjoy all Austin has to offer, but not within walking distance of my house.” Last year, it was neighbors who wanted to block a small café from opening at the end of their street. Now, neighbors are trying to block a bar from opening on Burnet Road, of all places.

    The ol' corner bar.

    I find that attitude wildly suburban and suggest these people move to a gated McMansion community in Round Rock. A vibrant, diverse and creative city doesn’t have a single “business district” – that model of city planning, where a large central business district is surrounded by housing developments, is a failed idea that creates car dependency, pockets of crime and overweight people. One aspect I love about living in a big city – and miss in Austin – is the corner everything: a corner bar, a corner coffee shop, a corner café, a corner convenience store.

    In most cities, rather than organizing neighborhood protests about parking on your street, you just deal with the problems that go along with living in a lively community. In a city like Austin, where most homes have at least a driveway if not an attached garage, I don’t understand the problem.

    Increased traffic? Quit letting your pets go outside unleashed and educate your children about traffic safety … and then look up from your iPad and actually watch them. Noise? Again, if you want to live in the suburbs, that’s a great option for quiet time. Until then, you’re living in a city with a population of almost 1 million. Some noise comes with the territory. Garbage? Instead of trying to prevent a business owner from helping improve the city, solicit the City of Austin for more frequent street cleaning.

    I believe we should all be doing as much as we can to encourage walkable, bikeable entertainment in all areas of the city. The more “neighborhood” options there are away from major, busy traffic corridors, the more likely people living within 2 miles of those options are to step away from their automobile and walk. This makes our city’s air and people healthier.

    And the City of Austin knows that, which is why you won’t see them providing free public parking any time soon. I read recently that part of why Antone’s is moving from their downtown location is because of a lack of parking. I find that sad and wish Antone’s would stay put instead of moving somewhere with a mall-size parking lot like Emo’s did.

    The tides are turning, and soon there will be more people here who understand that driving to every bar is an insane idea (how many auto-pedestrian deaths were there in 2012 again?). Those people will start taking the constantly improving public transit options, and as a result of an increase in business, those transit options will improve even more.

    We don’t need more parking lots, and we don’t need less neighborhood entertainment options. We need a new attitude. Change is hard, but sometimes it’s good. 

    Related Articles: 

    City Pushes Mass Transit - Are the Options Up to Speed?

    Austin has its share of upsides – mild winters, recreational and cultural opportunities, a growing restaurant scene, a relatively affordable cost of living – but ask people what our city's downside is and you’ll hear a common answer: traffic.

    An Open Letter to Austin Drivers

    Dear Austin Drivers,

    Let me start by asking you a simple question: Why are you doing this to me? No, seriously. You probably don’t even know me, so why are you trying to make my life miserable every time I get into my little gold Mazda pickup truck?

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    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.

    Small World Labs is hiring! We are looking for passionate PHP developers, non-profit marketing gurus and an office manager to join the team.
    Seeking a Technical Writer to create and maintain end-user documentation for our network security product. You will work with our Senior Technical Writer and engineers to see documentation from concept to completion. Contact Cindy [at] ppaac [dot] com for additional information.
    Seeking a Web Application Developer to help evolve our browser-based, real-time network security application. You will work closely with other developers and user interface designers to create and improve solutions for visualizing and analyzing security data.Contact Cindy [at] ppaac [dot] com for additional information.
    TECH PEOPLE: uShip is hiring at a fast clip in 2013. Downtown Austin. Product managers, QA, developers at all levels, mobile devs, sales account managers, community support, PPC, SEO, native speakers of Portuguese and languages of India.

    Our marketing team is hiring a full-time content specialist. We're also in need of a media/content-focused intern (or contract-to-hire) ASAP. And if you have any leads, we're in an ongoing search for CMO-level candidates as well. Apply at:
    HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY NEW YEAR!! The positions are rolling in! I have 3 Designers and 3 Developers plus 2 Designer/Developers!!! Sooo interested? Know someone?? Oh, did I mention the AD, Visual Designer, Web Apps Developer, 3 Agency Copywriters and Interactive Designer? Contact rdiaz [at] vitamintalent [dot] com.
    I'm looking for a Digital Producer in Austin. Full-time. If interested, contact anotei [at] baatzconsulting [dot] com.
    Spredfast just had two more openings for Technical Account Manager and Social CRM Specialist.
    We are looking for a UI/UX developer at Lingo Live with HTML/CSS and Javascript/Jquery experience. Bootstrapped language learning startup based in the Capital Factory and need help with analytics, A/B testing, and general aesthetic improvements!
    Bazaarvoice Media is hiring for a bunch of IT positions. Check them all out on their careers page.
    Rockfish has some .NET developer jobs open in Austin.
    Patient Conversation Media is hiring! We are looking for the following:
    1) Drupal Developers
    2) Jr. Tech Developer (recent grads please apply)
    3) Associate Graphic Designer

    If interested, contact: rebekah [at] patientconversation [dot] com
    Do you know node.js? Do you want to join a kickass SDK development group? Look no further!
    One of Austin's coolest new nonprofits is looking for a Content Creator. Is it you?
    Are you a Developer, QA Engineer, or Product Manager looking for an exciting opportunity with cutting edge technologies and a casual flexible work environment? We are hiring! Apply through our website at

    If you didn’t see anything that looked like a good fit, other good tech job resources in Austin include:

    Startup Hire
    Launch Pad Job Club

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    Rumor has it there’s some kind of ball game being played this weekend. That hasn’t stopped Austin’s assorted nerd clubs from flying their geek flags. This week, the Fan Force is strong with Austin geeks, LAN gamers get a social day out, Austin’s geek girls get their fibercraft on, and there are oodles of excuses for all sorts of boardgames and RPG’s.

    Austin Fan Force February Meeting
    Feb. 2, 1:00 p.m.
    Dog & Duck Pub
    406 W. 17th St
    Join your local Star Wars fans for their monthly social get together.

    Nocturnis-Amtgard Park Day
    Feb. 2, 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.

    Geeks Who Drink Meetup
    Feb. 2, 9:00 p.m.
    Opal Divine’s Marina
    12709 Mopac
    Trivia lovers can join a team for the chance to show off their smarts and win free drinks.

    Pathfinder Society Meetup
    Feb. 4, 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
    Feb. 5, 6:00 p.m.
    Rockin Tomato
    3003 S. Lamar
    This weekly gathering of gamers regularly hosts over 40 people playing a dozen different games. New people are always welcome.

    Settlers of Catan Meetup
    Feb. 5, 6:30 p.m.
    Dragon's Lair Comics & Fantasy
    6111 Burnet Rd
    Game ON! It's time to scratch that Catan itch! If you have never played, have only played a few times, or are the King of Catan - come and join us! Bring your boards, your expansions, your snacks and your wood. We usually have a base game going at one table and either Cities & Knights, Trails to Rails or some other variant at the other table.  A third table will be available if enough people show. Come join us for an evening of fun!

    Girl Geeks of Austin Board Games and Brews
    Feb. 5, 7:00 p.m.
    Black Star Co-Op
    7020 Easy Wind Dr
    Not in the mood for mixed company? Enjoy some microbrewery beers along with Euro style boardgames in the company of your fellow geek girls.

    Girl Geeks of Austin Nerdy Knitting and Fiber Arts
    Feb. 5, 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.

    February Geek Social: Let’s Talk LAN
    Feb. 6, 7:00 p.m.
    Mozart's Coffee & Bakery
    3825 Lake Austin Blvd
    Among other things, I'd love to hear what kind of LAN gaming and/or other electronic gaming we would like to organize as a group.  And as usual, it's a great chance for the new geeks to meet the vets. See you at Mozart's!

    The Art of Videogames
    Feb. 6, 8:30 p.m.
    Join to learn the location
    This group is intended for people interested in video games as a growing artform. The focus is on appreciating games instead of competition. Some of the previous meetups include: bring-a-game showcase, playing a game that a member released to the Xbox 360, playing a little bit of every Mario 2D game, and an early hands-on with the Playstation Vita. Gamers have the opportunity to explain their passion for their favorite games and game developers have the opportunity to get feedback on games they are currently creating.

    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.


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    best of craigslistOccasionally we highlight some of the inadvertently funny and off-kilter posts on Austin Craigslist. This time around we hit the "Musicians Wanted" section.

    Today, you'll meet Kyle the electric saw player (?!) whose last group claimed the title "Worst Band in Portland." Cory, who claims to have a drummer but needs a microphone to "do all the screeches." Or how about the dude who only samples from Tarantino flicks and shuns signing to major labels cuz "they have lawyers and ... lawyers tend to suck." 

    Meanwhile, a "dude with long hair" figures musicians might know where to get a decent haircut for cheap. And a band looking for a frontman keeps it simple: got a kilt? You're in! One frustrated Craigslister offers some tips on how to post a musicians wanted ad, such as requesting a video clip of them actually playing an instrument. Good advice.

    And last, but definitely not least, the Glen Campbell/James Taylor/Randy Travis/Frank Sinatra impersonator. It took some digging but we found his YouTube cartoon. It's at the bottom. And you're welcome.

    There's a New Electric Singing Saw Player in Town... 

    Hello Austin! I'm an electric singing saw player that just moved here from Portland, Oregon. I play a '94 Sandvikens Stradivarius singing saw with a modified K & K mike, and a pedal board chock ful o' pedals to back up my sonic onslaught. Available for recordings (I work for song credit, food, beer and 5 copies of the final album!) and I'm also interested in joining a band or two. Examples of my latest work can be found here:

    Need a Microphone to train my voice

    I desperately need to TRAIN my voice. I've just begun putting a band together, I've got a drummer, elusive one [Ed. note: aren't they all]. I need a MICROPHONE, someone please tell me if you have: A Mic in a warehouse, empty stage, room, I can't pay anything right now, however, in about a month I can. If you can help me, set-up a time, someplace PLEASE email me.

    I'm going to need to train from scratch again, because I'm finally here in Austin. I need to do all of the screeches, and loud sounds while I'm writing lyrics. Can you help me? Thanks, CORY

    Storytellin Rap MC Needed

    The Plan: create a new hiphop album with some fresh MCs (flows I dig: Ghostface Killah, Scarface, Raekwon, DOOM, RZA, GZA, Common)

    The Media Hook: I'll make all the beats using samples taken exclusively from Quentin Tarantino flicks & their soundtracks. (Remember The Grey Album? Replace the Beatles with Tarantino tunes and your fresh verses...that's what we're aiming for)

    The Money: We're going to avoid major labels if at all possible, because they have lawyers and in my experience lawyers tend to suck. Think underground. But think that the hype of having an album exclusively made up of album cuts & dialogue taken from Reservoir Dogs to Django Unchained, and I think it's safe to assume that with a few well-placed copies of the finished album, word of mouth will spread. And then we'll all get notorious and sign proper record deals.

    Have a listen to a sample of the beats I'm cooking up:

    Huntress Diana & MaestroPhil Duo looking for A CRASH SPOT FOR TONIGHT





    We are looking to crash, very tired of sleeping in the car.

    Can you dig?? We would love to meet the cool people in town. We already love Austin but we do not know ANYONE.

    We really want to meet some cool peeps and do s little hanging and jamming.

    We have an air mattress so no matter we will be comfortable, we are a married couple.

    Our Band Infusions is from Chicago. We play light rock with lots of originaLs.

    We would love to meet you and we know you'll love us.

    courtesy and respectively

    Where do you get your hair cut? (For Real)

    Welp....I have two afflictions (dude with long hair, cheap) that are hard to fit into search parameters on Yelp, so I thought I'd ask a community of potential like-minders: Where do you get your hair cut?

    I've been going to the same place I've been going for 10 years, but alas, my go-to cutter has moved on in life and her replacement ruined her first impression with a complete hatchet job. So, basically, I'm looking for any suggestions as to where in town I can go to get a cut from men (no ladies, please) who are used to cutting long men's hair at an affordable price (would like to keep it around $20 for cut + tip). This is a real posting, so I'll save all the hatahs they time: yep, I am vain and cheap.

    "Kilt" wearing frontman needed for new band (austin,texas)

    yep, if you are frontman and wear kilts, give us a buzz.

    Impersonator seeks gigs for SxSW

    I have hard rock songs of my own: Back To Eden in the USA, and a bunch others

    I imitate, James Taylor (You've Got a Friend), Glen Campbell, RANDY TRAVIS, Frank Sinatra (One More for the Road /w/guitar accompaniment)

    And I have a nine minute cartoon on YouTube (A Goat On The Boat, Billy McCarty)

    And published books to distribute +a follow-up book I just finished (email me; get a copy free)

    Austin Post exclusive bonus YouTube video: "A Goat On the Boat." Click Image to View Video


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    Cat Power is on a national tour, and judging by her amazing performance Jan. 26 at the Moody Theater, this tour will get her right back where she needs to be.  

    Cat Power works with some of the best known female songwriters/singers around: Tori Amos and Fiona Apple.  

    At the conclusion of a cranked up Bob Dylan track, her lead guitarist strummed solo for what seemed to be several minutes.  The applaused started when Cat Power appeared onstage sporting a blonde choppy haircut that reminded me of Annie Lennox.  Microphone in hand, she captured her audience right away.

    The Moody Theater crowd was transfixed with Chan Marshall's opening song "The Greatest," a strong piece with moving vocals and a tempo that pushes rhythmically from slow to crashing.  Marshall's ability to draw her audience into her raw emotions through stunning visuals and raspy gritty vocals is her trademark.  We were all more than willing to surrender to her world of raw affection.

    Her set list derived mostly from her newest record Sun.  She appears to be working through her life challenges through her music.  She's struggling with angioedema (sudden acute edema of the face and neck that can lead to respiratory difficulty).  Marshall sprinkled heartfelt "thank you's" to the crowd every now and then, in a barely audible whisper.  

    I wasn't the only person hypnotized at the Moody Theater.  Most of the crowd were in another realm listening to Cat Power's powerful vocals and driving rhythms.  She did not let her fans (which filled up almost the entire theater) down.

    Marshall lingered a long time on stage at the end of the concert, receiving a standing ovation and bowing.  It almost looked like it was hard for her to let go of the audience, and just as hard for the audience to let go of her.  I think most people did not think they would actually get to see her perform live.  The evening was nothing short of monumental for fans of this indie-rock godess. 


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    With construction set to start this summer, the City of Austin is in the final planning stages of a project to improve Shoal Creek and make its greenbelt safer for cyclists and pedestrians. 

    Shoal Creek currently has erosion damage.

    The project aims to provide erosion protection in Shoal Creek, stabilizing about 3,000 feet of the creek; replace an outdated runoff system; restore native vegetation along the creek; and extend a paved bike trail that will go under one of the busiest intersections along the Shoal Creek greenbelt.

    “The restoration will improve the health of Shoal Creek and the park user's experience with nature, recreation and mobility well into the future,” said Morgan S. Byars, P.E., the supervising engineer on the project.

    The restoration project focuses on the part of Shoal Creek between 15th and 28th Streets - the stretch of the creek that lies roughly between UT and MOPAC - which was ranked a priority area by the Watershed Protection Department based on the frequency and severity of flooding, erosion and water quality, Byars said.

    “The impacts of urbanization and long-term, extensive use haven taken their toll on the park,” he added. “In addition, since the area was dedicated parkland it allowed for ease of access and it was an opportunity to improve a public amenity.”

    The City plans to restore 3,000 eroded feet of Shoal Creek.

    Part of the water quality and erosion problems are due to a decades-old runoff system that travels along and empties into Shoal Creek. As part of the restoration plan, 1,900 feet of the old system will be removed and replaced with a new system that runs along the creek but under Lamar Boulevard. The project will be completed in parts and officials estimate it will take a few months to complete, during which sections of Lamar will be narrowed to one lane going south. Officials are still trying to nail down complete timelines but estimate that construction beginning this summer will be complete by fall 2014.

    Parts of the area will also be limited to pedestrians and cyclists, although Byars said there will be access routes around construction zones. After construction, some areas will be kept fenced off to allow for regrowth.

    The new stormwater runoff system will better simulate nature – instead of simply transporting the water in a drain that empties by a large hole into the creek, the system will distribute the water into the meadow in a sort of irrigation system. Comparable to the natural process, water will then trickle through the meadow, dispersing, and eventually wind up in the creek.

    Currently, meadows surrounding Shoal Creek are dry and barren.
    “Removing wastewater lines that were placed in the creek in the early 1900s will reduce the chance of sewage entering the creek from leaking or broken pipes,” Byars said. “The stormwater enhancements include soil amendments and land contouring so that runoff from rainfall is distributed and allowed to infiltrate into the soils. This will nourish and help sustain the trees and vegetation in the park.”

    Additionally, the project includes plans to stabilize 3,000 feet of eroding bank along the creek that Byars said will protect trees, bridges and trails being threatened by creek erosion. Officials also plan to restore native vegetation and trees and modify landscaping practices in environmentally sensitive areas – these efforts will also improve the quality of water entering the creek.

    “The vegetation helps improve water quality through filtering, helps stabilize soils from erosion, provides wildlife habitat and shades the creek to provide cooler water temperature,” Byars said. “The environmental improvements are balanced with desired park uses to provide an overall benefit to the public and the land.”

    The restoration will foster native regrowth and irrigate the land.

    When Chad Crager, who works with the City of Austin’s Neighborhood Connectivity Division, heard about the plans, he worked with the Watershed Protection Department to incorporate another addition – a hike and bike trail along the east side of the creek that goes under 24th Street.

    “We’re turning the trail into a proper bikeway,” Crager said. “Rather than have 4 to 5 feet of sidewalk, it’ll be 12 feet of bike trail.”

    Rose Goodwin, an Austin resident who walks along Shoal Creek, had a first look at the plans at an open house to solicit community feedback that the City of Austin held Jan. 30.

    “This project is long overdue and will help make the area so much nicer,” she said. “This will be a beautification of the city.”

    This isn’t the only restoration project the Watershed Protection Department has going – projects to improve Rosewood Park on Boggy Creek and the Shoal Creek Peninsula along Lady Bird Lake are currently underway, and coming projects include restoration at the JJ Seabrook Park on Tannehill Branch Creek. The WPD is also working with the Parks Department and neighborhood groups to modify landscaping efforts to establish “grow zones” in several areas, where a mix of taller vegetation (from "no-mow" areas) and trees can exist naturally and provide a host of benefits from better flood control to natural cooling to improved habitat for critters.

    Related Articles: 

    As More Cyclists Take to the Road, Austin Tries to Keep Up

    Tom Wald moved from Minneapolis to Austin in 1999. He’s been riding bicycles since he was a child, and it’s his main form of transportation. He says he sees Austin – and other cities – becoming more accepting of biking as a mainstream form of transportation.

    City Plans to Connect All Sidewalks (But Maybe You Can Hurry It Up in Your 'Hood)

    Last September, Christie Shore was coming home from dropping her two eldest children off at Brentwood Elementary School; she rollerbladed while her youngest child biked.

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    LoGROcal taps into three things Austinites love - beer, pizza and environmentalism.

    They use the spent grain from Jester King Brewery as a base to grow oyster mushrooms. When the mushrooms are harvested, they become toppings at Stanley’s Farmhouse pizza while the mushroom compost they grew in becomes a nutrient for organic gardens.

    It’s a great idea. Beer is delicious, but the spent grain byproduct isn’t great for the environment. The gentlemen behind LoGROcal want to use their mushroom farm to turn 10 tons of local agricultural waste into tasty pizza toppings, plus produce some useful organic fertilizer as a bonus. They’re Austin’s answer to Dan Barber’s delightful “How I fell in love with a fish” TED Talk.

    To make this happen, they need cash. LoGROcal offers a lot of funding levels, but the most attractive one has to be the $25 kitchen counter mushroom kit. For $40, you can also get a photo mural, a shout out on their blog, and a bumper sticker in addition to your mushroom kit. I personally like their $80 pledge level. They’ll create an original oyster mushroom recipe, name it after you, and feature it on their blog and Facebook. For $90, they’ll weave your name or your organization’s name into their logo. Bump it all the way up to $250 and you can attend a private event at Ceres Park with pizza catered by Stanley’s Farmhouse, craft beers provided by Jester King and a tour of both the park and the mushroom farm.

    The money they raise will go straight into converting an existing building into a sustainable mushroom farm. Their strategic partnerships and business plan are all in place. All they need now is a warm, dark home where the mushrooms can grow. If you’re a fan of beer, pizza and sustainability, pick up one of their kitchen counter mushroom kits for yourself or a foodie friend. Who cares that you’re growing something healthy and nutritious? We’re talking about mushrooms grown in beer byproducts. The kits are worth it just for the story.


    Curious how our previous Austin Kickstarters did?

    Ten Acre Organics was 158% funded! Their goal was $10,000 and, with your support, they brought in $15,828.

    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.

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    After one year in Texas, it was time to pop my gun cherry.

    I’d seen the Austin Sure Shots on a couple of my friends' Facebook feeds. An all-female pistol league seemed like the right place to start. I didn’t want my first time to be with some guy pumped up on testosterone who had something to prove to the world. Learning to shoot from other women somehow felt safer.

    Naturally, the first person I met at Red’s Shooting Range was a six foot tall, broad shouldered man who looked like he belonged on a rugby team. Kent Morrison, a Sure Shots instructor, immediately offered me a homemade seven layer bar. Chocolate’s relaxing, he said. Plus, he likes to bake. It was obvious the Sure Shots weren’t into traditional gender roles. “Niki’s the founder.” He pointed me towards a tall, elfin blonde in high heeled boots. “I’m just here to help.”

    Niki Jones founded the Austin Sure Shots in 2010 after moving from New York to Texas. “When I moved here, the first thing I did was get my CHL, concealed handgun license,” said Jones. “I needed to train. It seemed pointless to have a gun and not feel comfortable using it should the need arise, so I thought maybe I should join a league. I couldn’t find any - not just leagues for women. There were no leagues at all. So I made one.”

    Two and a half years later, her women’s pistol league has over 250 members. The Sure Shots meet at Red’s Indoor Shooting Range every Wednesday from 7-9 p.m., alternating between north and south locations. Anywhere from 30-60 women show up each week, including an average of 5-8 new women who have never shot a gun before.

    “I’m so glad Niki started the Sure Shots,” said Jenna Hubbard. “I’ve made so many friends here.” One year ago, Hubbard said she was afraid to shoot a gun. Now, she’s a certified instructor and recently won High Lady (an award for the highest scoring female competitor) at the International Defensive Pistol Association tournament.

    Before joining the Sure Shots, Hubbard said, “I had friends who would say hey, let’s go the range. I’d get there and there was a BOOM and a bunch of noise and I didn’t want to do it. I just let fear get in the way.”

    That resonated with me. Sure, I was intimidated by handguns, but talking to her, I realized what I was really terrified of was looking like a vulnerable idiot in front of a room full of armed men.

    “If you get guys into the mix, so often it turns into this testosterone-fueled, ‘I’ll show you’ attitude,” said Morrison, who owns a private security firm and has extensive experience training women in handgun use and safety. He donates both his time and baking skills to the Sure Shots. “That’s one of the most important things about this environment. I’m a guy. Yes, I’m well versed in training women, but it’s much more important there are a whole bunch of women here. There are questions they can answer I can’t because they’re female and they live it. Clothing questions, carry questions. This is a great resource, because there are questions women will ask of other women that they won’t ask if there are guys in the room.”

    The Sure Shots reserve Red’s back four shooting bays for two hours, after which they offer a free class or seminar upstairs. Each week, Morrison gently and calmly walks new attendees through an introduction to gun safety using a blue plastic mockup pistol, but once you cross into the range itself, it’s an all-female environment.

    I tried to soak up as much of his patient lesson as I could. Posture. Hand position. Aiming. “Throw out everything you think you know from the movies,” said Morrison. And laser tag. And paintball. And first-person shooters. None of those fun simulators handled like a real gun.

    Ready, Aim...

    Once I thought I had the basics down, it was time to cross the threshold.

    Even with ear protection, Hubbard was right about the noise. I’m a fireworks fiend, but every shot sounded like a mortar going off dangerously close to a human body. The first ten minutes, I couldn't stop myself from constantly flinching and checking for fire. I watched half a dozen women take their turns shooting paper targets before stepping up with the .22 calibre rental handgun Jones helped me pick out.

    My very first time trying to load a magazine I put all the bullets in backwards. Jones tapped me on the shoulder, grinned, and patiently showed me how to fish them all out and reload. “Don’t worry,” she assured me. “This happens every single week.”

    Once I was loaded, I used the excuse of adjusting my stance to stall for time. An inexplicable fear crept over me. What if the bullet ricocheted and hit someone in another stall? What if the recoil sent my arm flying up and I lost control of the weapon? All my life I’d heard, never point a gun at anything you’re not willing to kill. What had that piece of paper done to deserve my wrath?

    I made myself squeeze the trigger. Jones assured me all it needed was a feather-light touch from the tip of my finger, but I instinctively mashed down, jerking the gun slightly to the right. I still hit the paper. There was no noticeable recoil. Instead, there was a surge of adrenaline. I finished the rest of the magazine in less than thirty seconds.

    My first time in the stall, every single shot made me flinch. Jones stepped up, offered some pointers on keeping my aim towards the middle instead of grouping around the paper outline’s kidneys, and once more stepped back again, giving me an encouraging wink as she went. I didn’t get much better, but I did get a lot more confident.

    Firing that first magazine was a lot like riding my first roller coaster. I put both off for years, was utterly terrified when the time came, and finished up high on adrenaline and dying to try again. Fifty bullets seemed like a lot when I was picking out a rental gun. Now I wanted more.

    I’ve heard a lot of women say shooting makes them feel strong or empowered. I didn’t get that. I was too nervous - first about accidentally doing something horribly dangerous with the gun, and then conversely, about breaking it. Once I’m comfortable with a gun, maybe I’ll feel that sense of power. In the meantime, I have to agree with Hubbard.

    “Once I got over that fear and started shooting, I realized how easy it was - and how fun,” said Hubbard. “You don’t expect that, but it’s really, really fun.” 

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    Austin Post: SXSW has exploded this year with the addition of .edu, .eco and now SXSW V2V in Las Vegas. What fueled the desire to add so many new sub-festivals?

    Hugh Forrest: A lot of these are offshoots of programming that’s been particularly popular during the core events. We’ve been doing education-related programming at Interactive for the last five or ten years. That’s been popular, so we thought there was a market to spin off into its own event.

    Likewise, we’ve been doing programing that covers sustainability, green concerns, and ended up spinning that off into its own thing with .eco.

    V2V leverages all the momentum of the startup space. There’s been a little confusion that the startup stuff would be leaving Interactive, and that’s not the case. It’s a lot of what we do, and it helps fuel the event. We think that there’s enough to fuel two very different events in two very different cities.

    I would say that a lot of these things are offshoots of Interactive, but Interactive and Film are very much an offshot of music. South By Southwest gradually changes and morphs over time. It’s a living, breathing dynamic organization, and as parts grow bigger we split them off into different things.

    Austin Post: SXSW V2V seems like a smaller clone of SXSW Interactive. Why essentially hold a second SXSWi out of town?

    Hugh Forrest: V2V will be very much focused on startups. It’s one of the areas that’s really propelled the growth of Interactive in the last few years. We want to emphasize the core values of creativity, integration and innovation. V2V will be much, much smaller than SXSW is now. In 2012, Interactive had about 25,000 total registrations. We’re looking at 1,500 total for V2V.

    Being small will be good. It’ll allow the event to find its unique voice.

    One thing that’s really intriguing about Vegas is what Tony Hsieh is doing with the downtown project. He’s the founder and CEO of Zappos, and when Zappos sold to Amazon he made quite a financial windfall and is investing a lot of that money into the downtown area of Las Vegas. The downtown area isn’t as glamorous as the strip. It’s where a lot of the old Vegas is. In many ways the downtown area would remind people of Austin what South Congress was like 10-15 years ago. There are tattoo parlors and indie coffee shops next to rundown buildings. He’s trying to create this next big center of creativity and innovation in the US and it’s this real-life experiment of Sim City. He’s asking, in the real world, if we put a coffee shop every block and a half, does that encourage more artsy creative people to move in? What can be done to encourage more independently run restaurants? They’re doing a lot of things to encourage entrepreneurs to move to that section of Vegas.

    Can you point me to the Internet startup?
    We know Vegas was one of the hardest hit markets in the recession. From the making-lemons-into-lemonade school of thought, what the downtown project has to offer is lots of space and very cheap rent. It’s cheap compared to Austin. Compared to San Francisco, it’s dirt cheap. There’s a small entrepreneur community, but it’s very active and it’s growing.

    I think that doing this V2V event in Vegas against this backdrop is pretty interesting and exciting. I’m anxiously following it as we move forward with this.

    Austin Post: Is V2V your way of trying to give the startup crowd more space to do power networking without taking away from the more community oriented parts of Interactive?

    Hugh Forrest: The Las Vegas event will be much smaller, so it’ll be a little more like the intimate atmosphere people remember from seven or eight years ago. Whatever the size of the event, if it’s 10, 100, 1,000, the essential value of any conference or festival is one-on-one networking opportunities and making valuable connections. So we hope we can provide a platform for those kinds of connections to be made. We think we have that now in Austin. People come here, they make connections that lead to new business opportunities, friendships, relationships. If we can create an atmosphere like that in Las Vegas, I think the event will be successful.

    Austin Post: Are there plans to expand other parts of SXSW into more cities?

    Hugh Forrest: We are a creative bunch and creative people sit around and think about lots of things. There are lots of ideas and thoughts about what we can do with this brand of SXSW. That said, we’re also very stretched to the max in terms of our bandwidth for producing events now. For the near future, the Vegas expansion is the only thing on our plate.

    Austin Post: While SXSW is expanding and adding new festivals, if you could create your own perfect imaginary SXSW sub-event, what would it be like?

    Hugh Forrest: What’s to say that’s not the event in Las Vegas? What I enjoy most about working at SXSW is tapping into this very creative community. That’s always the bottom line of everything we do here at SXSW. We stand back and watch the magic as these people get together.

    So if I was creating an event that’s not Las Vegas, I’d try to have creativity be the bottom line. I like getting lots of authors together and hearing them talk about books, so that’s a potential focus if I was doing something on my own. We’re fortunate enough to have lots of authors at the main event in March.

    Austin Post: SXSW gets a little bigger every year. What can you tell us about future expansion here in Austin?

    Hugh Forrest: We’ve been lucky enough to grow a lot over the last few years. Having worked on SXSW during years when it didn’t grow that much, it’s nice to see. Our goal is always to be better, not necessarily bigger. If we’re able to improve each year, the growth, the numbers, will take care of themselves.

    It is a challenge at this point for how we manage this growth. Creating these smaller events as a way to pull a little growth away from the main event is one strategy. Beyond that, we’re continuing to work a lot with the city in terms of making the downtown area as manageable as possible during the event. We get a lot of great feedback from the community on things we can do to continue to improve the user experience.

    As much as the event grows and that’s fun to see, your individual techie doesn’t care that much about who else is there as long as they can make valuable connections. We want to provide a platform where people are inspired by other creative people.

    Austin Post: Interactive has changed tremendously since Twitter’s launch in 2007. Who do you see as the target demographic for SXSW in 2013?

    Hugh Forrest: We have lots and lots more startups coming to Austin and trying to be the breakout app, the next Twitter. The event really has changed dramatically since 2007. It’s harder for any one particular technology to be the breakout now that there are so many more people, although at the end of the day SXSW is still about creativity and about the future.

    As much as the event has changed, there will be things launched at SXSW that look like the coolest thing in the world, but they won’t get mainstream adoption for another year.

    That’s a feature, not a flaw. People like coming to SXSW because it’s a preview of the future. You see things people won’t know about for two or three years. You’re seeing new music and new films that won’t hit the mainstream audience for a year or more. People come for that preview of the future.

    Austin Post: Are there underserved groups you’re trying to target in the future?

    Hugh Forrest: We’ve been very fortunate to see growth on the startup side of things, and that growth is good and has let us do a lot. That said, it can also overshadow a lot of our other programming. Startups are only 10-15 percent of the total.

    We’d like to shine more light on all the programming we have on how nonprofits can use innovative tech. The sexier story is often the 15-year-old who could be the next Mark Zuckerberg instead of the 30-year-old who is slaving away to help his nonprofit grow.

    Our audience is pretty educated in terms of finding the most interesting and innovative content. I think that the bigger challenge is often to get people to go outside their comfort zone in terms of the programming. As the event has grown, we’ve moved more towards the campus structure where all the health programing will be at the Sheraton and all the food apps are being presented at another location. The upside is that makes it easier for attendees to find the content they want. The downside is we lose some of the serendipity of the past when you only go to sessions that match your expertise.

    Often the social media person’s most valuable moment comes when they go to the panels on health care, because that’s where the really valuable connection is made. We had more of that intermixing of expertise and culture when all of the event was contained in one building. It’s a little harder to do that when it’s separated.

    The concern isn’t that they’re missing out on good content. There’s plenty. But if you’re an expert on sports and new media, you should go to something completely out of your wheelhouse. That’s where you’ll get the most value. We like to hang out with our friends, but the most valuable thing about SXSW is making new friends and new connections.

    Mmmm, The Oatmeal.

    Austin Post: Each year, SXSWi seems to have an inadvertent theme. Based on the Panel Picker, what do you see as the unofficial theme of 2013?

    Hugh Forrest: Similar to 2012, startups and business-related ideas are a big theme. Those had the most entries in the panel picker. Otherwise, the big themes we’re seeing for this year are crowdsourcing, crowdfunding, and "do it yourself." That ranges from our opening speaker from MakerBot to one of our keynotes, Matthew Inman. There’s a theme of taking control of your own destiny through alternative means, whether that’s a 3D printer to create your own hammer or going on Indiegogo or Kickstarter to fund your own project.

    You say you want a revolution? The MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer.
    Another theme for 2013 is space. We have Elon Musk, we also have more space-related sessions this year than ever before. We have NASA. I think we’re seeing a really interesting philosophical manifestation of the idea that geeks have done a lot of stuff on Earth and now they want to conquer outside the parameters of our planet.

    Beyond that, healthcare is certainly another hot topic this year. How geeks can change and reinvent and reimagine government is another big thing. Nate Silver, the hero of the 2012 election, will be here. I think he’s really on the forefront of this big data movement.

    Austin Post: Tech can be a fickle field. What is SXSW doing to make sure Interactive doesn’t end up going the way of COMDEX and other formerly beloved conferences?

    Hugh Forrest: It’s certainly a big concern that we continue to stay relevant to our community.

    I’m a firmly believe that what makes an event like this is compelling is that the community is excited. The passion and innovation, that’s the secret sauce. We’ve been lucky enough to land upon this community and the more we can let that community guide us and  let us know what’s most interesting to them, the better chance we have to stay relevant amidst this growth and the changing economy.

    Who knows if we’re in a startup bubble. If it goes away, that’ll impact us to some extent, but that's why the value of the community is so important. In 1997 and in 2013, the value of SXSW is still creativity in all its forms. Bringing all these creative people to a creative city during the spring, there’s a whole metaphor of rebirth. It’s a special time.

    As much as I’m often really exhausted when spring comes around, there’s a special vibe when all these creative people are here. Sometimes that vibe is the hum of traffic when downtown is in gridlock, but it’s also the vibe of all these creative people with new ideas making connections sharing things and having fun.

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    Get ready to network! This week BASHH is back, along with the newly minted buisness card intensive BizBASHH. If you’re looking for a STEM based career, you can also try out Door64’s monthly happy hour. All three are downtown, so park once and bounce between the three events.

    In addition to the networking goodness, there are plenty of user groups this week, not to mention a chance to watch Austin’s own TEDTalk live at Posh Coworking.

    The Austin Linux Meetup
    Feb. 4, 7:00 p.m.
    The Pizza Bistro
    12001 Burnet Rd
    Gil will be presenting information about the 'iptables' firewall with routing rules. Don't miss it.

    Node.JS User Group
    Feb. 5, 7:00 p.m.
    714 Congress Ave, Suite 200
    This month the Node.js, JavaScript and Google Developer Groups are holding a combined meetup to host Arun Nagarajan from Google. Arun is giving a presentation on Apps Script: a cloud based JavaScript environment that allows you to program with Google Apps such as Gmail, Docs, Drive, Sheets, etc. Put your JavaScript skills to work in a different host environment and write code entirely within a browser based IDE. Come see the capabilities of this technology and leave with the ability to write your own scripts.

    Austin iPhone Developer Meetup
    Feb. 5, 8:00 p.m.
    Join to learn the location
    We introduce ourselves, have a few beers and share iPhone developer tips and tricks. It's also a good time to talk about what apps we've noticed. New SDK easter eggs, etc. If you are an iphone developer, then feel free to join us. Please no sales offers, recruiters, etc.

    QA Sig - Accessibility Testing
    Feb. 6, Noon
    412 Congress Ave.
    One aspect of testing that is often overlooked is accessibility. Accessibility testing for software includes ensuring that users with disabilities can access an application with few barriers. It may be as simple as establishing that text is rendered larger in an application that it continues to be readable and does not suffer from distortion. Have you performed accessibility testing in your current position or previous ones? Come join us and share your thoughts!

    Door64 Happy Hour
    Feb. 7, 5:30 p.m.
    Texican Cafe
    4141 S Capital of Texas Hwy
    All science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) professionals are welcome and are invited to the next Door64 Happy Hour in north Austin. We ask that professionals in unrelated fields, including sales, real estate, financial planning and career coaches, please respect the technical focus of the happy hours, and consider some of the other door64 events.  Recruiters are welcome, but are asked to make a small contribution for their tickets to help offset the cost of the event, and are asked to consider including title sponsorships and job fair tables in their recruiting plans.  Recruiters will receive a special name badge, clearly identifying themselves.

    BizBASHH Professional Networking Event
    Feb. 7, 5:30 p.m.
    The Ranch
    710 West 6th St.
    At BizBASHH, business card exchanges are encouraged, as are napkin ideas and mingling with your peers.Thousands of people have crossed the threshold into the BASHH, a big ass social happy hour for social media enthusiasts to meet and connect, consumer to consumer. It's been a tremendous success over the past five years, and hundreds show up every month to do it all over again.

    Big Ass Social Happy Hour
    Feb. 7, 7:00 p.m.
    The Ranch
    710 West 6th St.
    Austin's relaxed mixer filled with professionals of all backgrounds that feel awkward knowing each other online but not offline. There are no speakers or panels, no lame pitches, no egos; all are welcomed to relax and have happy hours!

    Introduction to iOS Development/HTML5
    Feb. 7, 6:30 p.m.
    TechShop Austin-Round Rock
    120 Sundance Parkway Suite #350; Round Rock
    Once again we have Sam Griffith from Interactive Web Systems providing a "Getting Started" with iOS development session. Just as before I will have a short list of items you may want to check out before the meetup to get your feet wet. Look for it the next couple of days. If you have experience in this area and would like to help please let me know. We will also open up this session with a 15 minute HTML5 overview by Lee Church of Systems nHand.

    Amplify Austin: Creative Social Media Ideas
    Feb. 8, 9:30 a.m.
    Alamo DraftHouse - The Village
    2700 West Anderson Ln
    Social Media Panel - we will talk through best practices and strategy. Feel free to bring your ideas and we can help!

    Tech Ranch Austin - Campfire
    Feb. 8, 6:30 p.m.
    Tech Ranch Austin
    9111 Jollyville Rd #100
    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. Hear the story of Tech Ranch Austin and get a new perspective on Austin entrepreneurship while finding ways to plug into the community. Cap the evening with a larger social gathering over wine and snacks that allows instant follow-up with your new team. More in-depth conversations set next steps.

    TEDx FearLess Viewing Party
    Feb. 9, 9:00 a.m.
    Posh Coworking Lounge
    3027 N. Lamar
    We invite you to experience a day of being FearLess with TEDx hosted by Posh. Immerse yourself in thought provoking speakers, innovative talks and networking, and empower yourself to be FearLess. Posh will be a hosting a live viewing of the TEDx speakers as well as two local speakers. Food and drinks will be provided throughout the day.

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    Rosewood Market is open seven days a week.
    The U.S. Department of Agriculture designates an area as a “food desert” when locals have no place to buy healthy foods and fresh produce, but instead have an abundance of cheap fast food. The corner of Rosewood and Chicon is surrounded by food deserts, but one local activist is trying to create an oasis.

    Allen Rogers opened Rosewood Community Market, 1819 Rosewood Road, at the end of January as a small corner store where he plans to sell locally grown organic produce and specialty items like kombucha, as well as less expensive staples.  The USDA Food Desert Locator places the new Rosewood market within and adjacent to some Austin neighborhoods characterized as food deserts.

    “I live on the East Side as well and was constantly wishing there was a good food store near me,” Rogers said. “So many people I’ve talked to have said I’m so glad that this is opening so I don’t have to get in my car and drive, I can just pick up a few things for dinner.”

    For now, hours and selection are limited as Rogers gets the store on its feet.

    “The feedback in the community has been overwhelmingly positive, and I hope that once the shelves are fully stocked, people will realize we’re here and that we have good fresh, local products as well as staple pantry items that people need,” Rogers said.

    Rogers had been teaching high school business and marketing in Round Rock and enjoying it, but when school system budget cuts hit last spring, his future seemed unsure and he began looking for work in Austin. He started taking acting classes and got involved in comedy at the New Movement Theater– then located at 1819 Rosewood – and found a job at an East Side nonprofit called PeopleFund that helps fund community-based entrepreneur projects. Both of these connections would prove to be invaluable when Rogers decided to start a market.

    As Rogers was making these changes, he also began moving toward a more health-conscious diet and familiarizing himself with Austin’s local food movement. He began researching food hubs– where smaller farmers and ranchers could sell their products into small stores without widespread distribution – and what was lacking in Central Texas.

    After working with non-profits in college, Rogers had always had a goal of starting one of his own, and when New Movement Theater decided to move downtown and began looking for a tenant for the corner location, he began pursuing funding for his market idea through the City of Austin and PeopleFund. Rogers received enough backing in September 2012 to start renovations of the store.

    Rosewood Market will feature fresh produce as well as some staples.

    Rosewood Community Market is open seven days a week, although since Rogers is currently the only employee, hours are limited and vary. However, he’s looking for another staffer and said that more consistent hours are coming. Although the shelves are sparsely populated only a week after opening, Rogers said he plans to carry fruit, vegetables, meat, bread and milk, among other items.

    “It’ll be a nice range of stuff, ranging from organic to conventional and local to not; we don’t want anything to be cost-prohibitive,” Rogers said. “There are people who have lived here for a long time who have their style and the things they need. As well, there are a lot of young, professional people moving in who want locally sourced, organic, nutrient-high foods too. We’re trying to keep that balance.”

    The Austin Sustainable Food Center has been a key partner to the Rosewood Market, helping connect Rogers with local farmers and supporting the store’s community outreach.

    “Sustainable Food Center is excited to see the development of new and innovative approaches to food access in the community,” said Andrew Smiley, SFC deputy director. “There is obviously a need for efforts on many levels to address access to food including transportation barriers, economic access and skills and self-efficacy related to healthy food. The new Rosewood Community Market is a good example such efforts.”

    Related Articles: 

    Wheatsville’s Second Store to Feature Demo Areas, Bakery, Expanded Café

    Imagine being able to attend a cooking demonstration, get all your grocery shopping done and meet a friend for lunch all in one locally-owned location – that location is soon to be the second store of hometown grocer cooperative Wheatsville Food Co-op.

    Healthy Local Food Options Keep Growing

    The number of options for local, organic and sustainably grown food available here in Austin just continues to grow. We have farmers markets, locally stocked grocery stores, health-touting chains and other choices coming down the pipeline as well.

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    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.

    St. Edward's University is hiring a Web developer. 
    OurPangea is looking to hire an Experienced Programmer and a Web Developer
    We are looking for a Paid Web Design Intern Cynch Inc. Between 20-30 hours a week in office preferred. Located in Lakeway. Email jgollins [at] cynchinc [dot] com for more information. 
    Part-Time Web Developer Needed. Hourly/Contractual Web Developer needed to be part of an entrepreneurial technology company with innovating concepts including web design, web development, software development, etc. We are a dynamic growing company with a casual and fast-paced work environment. You will be part of a technology team managed by a project manager with several development projects for clients from various industries. There is a possibility of some travel for client meetings. If you meet these requirements, please submit your resume to holly [at] lonestarmedia [dot] com for consideration.
    Looking for a Sr Tech Writer with solid XML experience! Please email resumes to
    The Texas Department of Public Safety is looking for an Online & Social Media Specialist, someone who's graduated college in journalism, government, criminal justice, or communications.
    The Capital Area Food Bank needs a Digital Marketing Manager pronto. 
    HomeAway is hiring a Marketing Copywriter. You can apply as a referral through me here:
    Client ready to hire quality candidate for Sr. Microsoft Dynamics Great Plains Administrator - Austin, Texas. Contact: cindy [at] ppaac [dot] com for additional information.
    Seeking a Software Developer to help create the real-time security analytics engine for our overall network security Web application. You will work closely with the CTO and Chief Architect to create an event processing engine to analyze security data in real time at rates a thousand to a million times faster than state-of-the-art competitive systems. Contact: cindy [at] ppaac [dot] com for additional information.
    The state of Texas is looking for a Government Web Administrator
    Local start-up ShipStation, recently featured on TechCrunch, is hiring for technical support staff called "Gearheads" Looking for 6+ months of tech support experience. eCommerce experience is also a big plus. We offer competitive compensation, big-company paid benefits (medical, dental, vision,) & a 401(k) plan, all while maintaining the energy, agility, and fun of a start-up. We’re looking for “movers and shakers,” people with personality, and those who can take a challenge and run with it. Please send resumes to: careers [at] shipstation [dot] com.
    Any local android devs want to work a quick project, 2-3 weeks? Urgent need to help meet deadline on project. Contact: Melissa [dot] Gadd [at] arc-is [dot]com for more details.
    UT job - keep the computers updated / patched / antivirus.
    State Government job: light web admin / more keep the computers running.
    Host Gator is seeking a Senior Online Marketing Manager 

    If you didn’t see anything that looked like a good fit, other good tech job resources in Austin include:

    Startup Hire
    Launch Pad Job Club


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