November 2004

Opal Divine’s is divine

by Michael Alderete on 11/24/2004

On our trip to Mexico’s tequila region last year, we met the proprietor of an establishment in Austin, Michael Parker of Opal Divine’s Freehouse. Rochelle and I were thrilled to hear about a good place for tequila in Austin, and at the trip’s end, promised to visit him at his restaurant when we flew back for Thanksgiving, less than a month later.

And visit we did! We hit Opal Divine’s our second night in town, and liked it so much that in spite of a compressed schedule visiting Rochelle’s relations we found a way to squeeze it in again right before our return flight.

Opal Divine’s is quite a bar, with a truly fabulous selection of most liquors including tequila, a stupendous selection of interesting beers from here and abroad, and what must be a U.S. Top 5 selection of single malt Scotch — certainly the best I’ve seen (and we have a great Scotch bar in SF, The Irish Bank).

Rochelle and I certainly know how to entertain ourselves in a good bar, but what takes Opal Divine’s up to the next level, to our only must-visit in all of Texas, is the food. Really, there’s no requirement for Michael to have such good food — decent pub grub would be more than enough to make the patrons happy and coming back to drink more.

His food doesn’t need to be outstanding for him to be successful — but it is. We were reminded of that again this evening, when we made everything right with our day by going and having the tasting sampler of Scotch to start (six single malts from all the Scotch regions), and then eating a great chicken fried steak and an incredible patty melt.

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Miserable flight

by Michael Alderete on 11/24/2004

We flew to Austin for Thanksgiving with Rochelle’s family today. The flight was horrible, not for the usual reason, not because of anything the airline did or because air travel the day before Thanksgiving is near chaos. No, it was just horrible passengers.

It all started so well. We made it through the security line without a huge wait or hassels. We headed to the bar with plenty of time to down a couple of double vodka tonics each. And we walked onto our plane without any issues of overcrowded overhead bins, etc. We medicated ourselves further, and then settled into our audiobook, thinking this was going to be an easy flight.

Then some skate rat hits my arm and tray table on his way past, and knocks my red wine into my lap. Not so much as an excuse me. The flight attendant was great, giving me club soda and another mini of wine, but I still had to sit in soaked pants for the rest of the flight, and until we got to our hotel room.

Then on our approach into Austin, we had to turn off all personal electronics, and thus listen to our fellow passengers. Crying babies are one thing (and we had that going in stereo), but two tech people from the Bay Area swapping stories, in over-loud, penetrating voices from the seats directly behind us sent Rochelle over the edge. My god, hasn’t everyone told or heard that same damn story a hundred times by now? It’s only interesting the first time — except, apparently, to the person telling it to the stranger sitting next to them, who is only pretending fascination so they can tell their own story next.

Note to dot.bomb participants and victims: This is 2004, it’s been three years, your stories are officially boring. Find something new to talk about, please!

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How to hail a cab

by Michael Alderete on 11/17/2004

Billie is our littlest, sweetest cat. She’s a shut-in. Trapped in our bedroom by a roaming Basta policing the hallways (and any other room she’s not been chased out of), and frequently harrassed by a doting Luigi, who just wants to be her bestest friend, Billie retreats from the world when we’re not home, spending her time on her cat condo, under the bed, or in the closet.

That doesn’t mean she’s lost her curiosity, or thirst for adventure. She loves to visit other rooms in the house, especially the office, where we’ve set up a semi-permanent (but movable) bed on top of the printer, close to Rochelle. And she loves to go out to the back deck, and chew on whatever plants Rochelle is currently torturing.

But, how to get to other rooms, or the great outdoors, when the highways and byways of the house are controlled by the Evil Basta? There’s really only one way that’s safe from ambush: a cab rid on our shoulders. Billie loves to jump up — from the bed when she can, from the ground when she must — and cling to our shoulders, neck, or back, and be transported at a safe altitude to other, more exiting places. We’ve come to recognize the look on her face that says she’s coming aboard, and usually manage to crouch down lower, so her leap doesn’t involve quite as much claw when she lands.

The thing is, we’re often not in the bedroom. Mostly not in the bedroom. So, when we’re too far away, she’s taken to hailing us.

It’s a distinctive, insistent lowing that borders on a whine. She’s used it for some time to tell us she wants something, but it’s usually been food or attention. We know what it means in a general way, but lately it’s been more specific: come get me, and take me somewhere. Her chariot arrives, she leaps aboard, and the game’s afoot. Fun!

Tonight, she even started giving directions. When I came to pick up my fare, she kept on yelling, especially when I headed in the wrong direction. When I finally realized she wanted the back deck, she quieted, and lept off immediately when she arrived at her intended destination.

No tip.

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No, really, back online

by Michael Alderete on 11/16/2004

I have finally managed to get this weblog going again. I had a fair amount of weirdness associated with the migration from my old computer, and decided the “easiest” way to solve the issue was to change to a new weblogging system. I’ve been wanting to upgrade the capabilities of this weblog for a while, so it seemed like as good a time as any, and a better reason than I usually have.

So, after evaluating Textpattern and WordPress, I decided on WordPress. I actually like many things about Textpattern better, but the approach it uses for categories made it virtually impossible to get working with my old blog structure. WordPress, on the other hand, works exactly the way I want when it comes to categories. So here I am.

Now, let’s see if I can start writing regularly again!

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