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Archive for March, 2009

Photo courtesy of Amy Ruppel

Since I (semi-permanently) dismissed the idea of getting a tattooed map of the U.S. on my person in order to mark off, one tattoo pin at a time, where I’ve traveled, I’ve been on the hunt for a new way to detail where I’ve been. (Please don’t recommend a scrapbook. I’m not that girl.) I think Facebook “where I’ve been” maps are annoying and show-offy. And a traditional pinned map still appeals but … I just haven’t found a U.S. map I want to stare down at all the time. But, today, I found my new I’ve-been-there collection idea: prints of artist Amy Ruppel’s state birds pieces. As my bank account allows it, I’m going to build the collection, bird by bird. I guess I’d better clear some wall space.

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Photo courtesy of Amy Ruppel

Photo courtesy of Amy Ruppel

Since I (semi-permanently) dismissed the idea of getting a tattooed map of the U.S. on my person in order to mark off, one tattoo pin at a time, where I’ve traveled, I’ve been on the hunt for a new way to detail where I’ve been. (Please don’t recommend a scrapbook. I’m not that girl.) I think Facebook “where I’ve been” maps are annoying and show-offy. And a traditional pinned map still appeals but … I just haven’t found a U.S. map I want to stare down at all the time. But, today, I found my new I’ve-been-there collection idea: prints of artist Amy Ruppel’s state birds pieces. As my bank account allows it, I’m going to build the collection, bird by bird. I guess I’d better clear some wall spac

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IMG_6755I love the idea of bird-watching.

I love birds, I love being out in nature, I love having something to do while I’m out in nature. Too bad I’m really bad at bird-watching. I can spot only the most obvious birds, I can identify only the most easily identifiable. Subtleties escape me. (What color are their feet? Are you kidding me?) If I’m with real bird-watchers and they do the spotting and identifying, I am capable of watching. That’s about it.

I love it anyway.

So I think the people in this New York Times article are cool—they mix birding with business trips. Birder and leadership training consultant, Cyndi Lubecke, of Prospect Heights, Illinois, likes to choose assignments in places with good birding. “My colleagues have loved me for that,” she said, “because my choices were places like Toledo, Ohio, and Fayetteville, Ark.—places they didn’t want to go.”

In a couple of weeks, I’ll be bird-watching (in my own lame fashion) and reporting from the first Lesser Prairie Chicken Festival in Woodward, Oklahoma. (And yes, there is a Greater Prairie Chicken, too. It’s larger and more abundant than the lesser variety.) The birds will be singing and dancing for love. Really. Stay tuned.

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IMG_6755I love the idea of bird-watching.

I love birds, I love being out in nature, I love having something to do while I’m out in nature. Too bad I’m really bad at bird-watching. I can spot only the most obvious birds, I can identify only the most easily identifiable. Subtleties escape me. (What color are their feet? Are you kidding me?) If I’m with real bird-watchers and they do the spotting and identifying, I am capable of watching. That’s about it.

I love it anyway.

So I think the people in this New York Times article are cool—they mix birding with business trips. Birder and leadership training consultant, Cyndi Lubecke, of Prospect Heights, Illinois, likes to choose assignments in places with good birding. “My colleagues have loved me for that,” she said, “because my choices were places like Toledo, Ohio, and Fayetteville, Ark.—places they didn’t want to go.”

In a couple of weeks, I’ll be bird-watching (in my own lame fashion) and reporting from the first Lesser Prairie Chicken Festival in Woodward, Oklahoma. (And yes, there is a Greater Prairie Chicken, too. It’s larger and more abundant than the lesser variety.) The birds will be singing and dancing for love. Really. Stay tuned.

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As a Yankee in the South, I’m used to the sensitivities still surrounding the Civil War, aka the War Between the States, aka (‘round these parts) the War of Northern Aggression.

But while visiting Civil War battlefields is standard historical tourism, I wonder if enough time has passed even now for the nation to join Southern states in other observances honoring Confederate history, as this Chicago Tribune article discusses. (And I didn’t realize April was Confederate History Month in Texas. It took an article in a Yankee paper to clue me in to that.)

But the Confederacy is part of our nation’s rich history. We don’t have to embrace it in its entirety to respect its place in our past. Maybe it is time to let it out into the light.

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Twitterers are all a-twitter about the fun they’re having at SXSW in Austin, and the party is only just getting started. But are long-time locals having as much fun being descended upon by the hipster masses? I polled a few of my Austin buddies about the fun they’re having … or not.

Ruth Pennebaker, a blogger whose work often appears in the Texas Observer

I go to the film festival only and try to fit in, even though everybody else is taller, thinner, younger, dressed more hip (layers and scarves this year—lots of both). The high-rollers also wear official badges around their necks, which are the social equivalent of having balls, I believe. I have a lowly pass, but that’s better than being in the line to buy an individual ticket, so at least I get to feel superior to a few people.

Last year, the film festival overlapped the music festival, which I always try to avoid. I roamed around downtown, secretly pretending I was the original Mrs. Willie Nelson, the wife who sewed him into a bedsheet and beat him with a broom for coming home late and drunk. It made me feel much better—as if I had a colorful past much better than the lackluster present. Hey, at least I was close to the right age.

Kellye Rila, a bureaucrat and former DJ
I always look forward to SXSW because lots of my friends, the ones I already know and the ones I’m gonna meet, come to town to play. I am always profoundly grateful when it’s over because they go home. This year will be bittersweet because there are a couple of very big holes. Not seeing Danny Roy Young on Saturday morning just doesn’t make any sense at all, and it will never be the same without Chris Gaffney. I am looking forward to seeing what streets and highways the City of Austin decides to close this year to make it really hard to get around—always an adventure!

Karen Reiter, curmudgeonette
Twenty years ago, before I lived in Texas, I came to SXSW for the first time. I had good time. It was more of a regional event … ya know, South by Southwest. But now Austin’s full of half-built condos and too much traffic and SXSW is a circus that takes over the city, making it a lot more fun for visitors than residents.

I hate crowds, therefore I hate SXSW. There’s never anywhere to park near the “happening” areas, therefore I hate SXSW. Frequently even people with wristbands and badges can’t get into the “important” “official” showcases (who does get in?), therefore I hate SXSW. And the people who run SXSW do anything they can to squash any little event they see as competition, which is a damned good reason in and of itself to hate the whole thing.

On the other hand, it gives me an excuse to stay close to my happy home in South Austin where I can pretend the whole thing’s not happening. And all those attendees bring beaucoup bucks to the city, so something good does come of it.

This year (because my significant other is performing) I am being forced to attend an all-day (basically outdoor) event. At least it’s not in a “happening” area, so there should at least be reasonable parking, and some really good bands are playing so I will most likely enjoy myself despite myself.
But much as I hate SXSW, I would never deny the joys of it to those who want to participate. Maybe it really is just more fun when you’re the out-of-towner.

T. Tex Edwards, musician

Sorry, I was TOO BUSY to reply!

(I guess the above about covers it for me …)

& it sounds like Ms Kritt (aka Karen Reiter) already covered the subject aptly …

Helen Anders, travel writer
We’re leaving. I’d like to say it’s to avoid the hordes, but we’re headed to South Padre Island to cover spring break. Woo. Hoo.

We were home for SXSW last year and caught a couple of free shows. Like most people in town, we can’t afford the showcases. The biggest problem is the influx of cars in a town that has no parking.

John Anders, retired newspaper columnist
We go eat hamburgers at The Tavern, one of the good, reliable non-venues where we’re virtually sure no one will drag out a guitar—for that weekend, at least.

Our musician friend Pat Whitefield, who sat alphabetically next to Charles Whitman in class at UT (“nice, nerdy guy who let me cheat off him on chemistry exams,” says Pat), has been an Austin musician for 40 years. He hopes to get out-of-town gigs during SXSW.

“It’s hard enough making a living in this town,” says Pat, an upright man on upright bass. “So now you have the place flooded with musicians who fall in love with Austin over the weekend and suddenly want to come here and live. Which makes the competition to make a living in music even fiercer. All the local musicians hate South by Southwest. Can you blame us?”

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Photo by Jan Beckendorf via Flickr

Photo by Jan Beckendorf via Flickr

Every time I watch it on the Winter Olympics, I decide that luge is an utterly insane sport that you could not pay me enough to try.

“Chicago Tribune” reporter Christoper Borrelli evidently does not feel the same way. They paid, he tried (in Muskegon, Michigan). Here’s the story.

A sample: “Sue Halter, my instructor, told me that in 15 years here she had seen only one person lose teeth while luging.”

Some people will do anything for a buck.

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