Saturday, May 17, 2014

Don't miss this TED talk

Rives is one of the co-hosts of TEDActive.  I've said hi to him at least a few times over the years I've been going to that conference, but we've never had a serious conversation, and I doubt he knows me or my name.  He does an excellent job as co-host and is always entertaining and energetic, but I've always thought I was seeing only his shallow entertainer persona.

Until he gave this talk at this year's TEDActive.  He gave the talk in front of us in Whistler.  It starts out glib, amusing, as if all you're going to get is a trifle. 

It is more, though.  Just wait for it.  Stay the whole time.  You'll enjoy the ride, and you'll be glad you stayed to the end.

Check it out.

Friday, May 16, 2014

On the road again: Austin, day 6

If you ignore the fact that I had to get up before seven a.m. and got very little sleep, today went about as well as a travel day could.

It started so early because I was determined to see if my one previous amazing meal at Franklin Barbecue had been a fluke or if the barbecue there was just that good.  Thanks to a colleague who arrived even earlier, we were only about 40th in line (at 8:30 in the morning).  Check out the view from where we waited. 

Click an image to see a larger version.

We passed the time in conversation and with some work; I did phone meetings from my rental car while others held our place in the line.  We were sitting down to eat a little less than four hours after we arrived.  Several of us shared this feast.

After my first visit to this barbecue mecca, I declared its brisket the best in the world.  Today's brisket was even better than last time's.  It is just that damn good, so far above everything else I've ever tasted that it has no competition. 

What surprised me more, though, was that the pork ribs, which last time were very good but no more, had ascended into the same rarefied air as the brisket.  They were simply the best I have ever tasted, hands down.

This meal was absolutely worth the lost sleep and the long wait. 

Thanks to friends of friends, we were privileged to go on a tour of the cookers with Benji, Aaron Franklin's right-hand guy.  Here, Benji is standing in front of the cooker nearest the restaurant. 

The folks at Franklin make these cookers from used thousand-gallon propane tanks.  We were seeing them at one in the afternoon; by then, the cookers had already been working on Saturday's meat for four hours. 

Of course, that wasn't the only cooker.

No tour of the place would be complete without a shot of Aaron Franklin's first cooker, which now sits apart from the others but is still in use.  (The cooker is on the left; the thing on the right is a new rotisserie they're going to bring into service soon.)

If you at all like barbecue, you should not miss Franklin Barbecue.  It is rare that a place is the absolute best in the world at anything, much less something as widely cooked as barbecue brisket, but Franklin's simply is. 

After the meal, I headed to the airport, checked in smoothly, received upgrades for both flights, did a bunch of work in the Admirals Club, and even had time for a bit of Amy's

My connection in DFW was in the same terminal and only a dozen gates away.  My flight home arrived a tad early.

As I said, about as good a travel day as one could have.

All that said, I am very, very glad to be home and to sleep in my own bed.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

On the road again: Austin, day 5

I've precious little to report today and even less energy to write more, so this one will be very short.  Lunch was barbecue with a group of friends and clients at a nearby branch of the Salt Lick, an excellent local place. 

A friend and his wife hosted dinner at their house, and it was a lovely, relaxing evening at a beautiful house.  My thanks to them.

Work filled all the remaining hours.  Now, to grab a little sleep.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

On the road again: Austin, day 4

More interesting meetings, more I can't discuss.  Sorry about that.

Dinner was a fine meal with colleagues and friends at Uchi, a truly delightful sushi and fusion restaurant.  We ate the signature tasting menu, and every single bite was absolutely delicious.  We followed up the meal with a traditional (for this group) visit to a nearby Amy's, where we all enjoyed ice cream outside in the lovely evening weather.  The heat is coming here, but right now, Austin's weather is stunning. 

Tomorrow will again start very early for me, so I am off.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

On the road again: Austin, day 3

The vast majority of the day went to meetings, which though full of interesting conversations are not, as usual, things I can discuss.

Dinner was an extremely tasty and inventive meal at Qui, which is to my taste one of the more interesting, innovative, and fun places to eat in the area.  I recommend it to anyone with an interest in modernist cuisine. 

It's way later than the timestamp indicates, so I'm crashing now.  Morning will begin tomorrow entirely too early for my taste.

Monday, May 12, 2014

On the road again: Austin, day 2

As always with business travel days, I can't talk about the work meetings, so mostly I write about the meals.  Our hope for lunch today was to make it to the John Mueller Meat Co. for what is supposed to be the second-best brisket (after Franklin's) in town.  Thanks to a slow drizzle of a storm, the trip took longer than we anticipated, but the delay ended up not mattering at all, because the place had long before our arrival sold out of meat.  Perhaps I'll make it to this barbecue mecca another time.

We then headed to Guero's Taco Bar for some excellent TexMex food and, of course, good conversation. 

Dinner tonight was a good but no better meal at Little Barrel and Brown.  Austin offers so many great places to eat that I am unlikely to return to this one; it just can't compete with the best in the city.  Because we weren't impressed with the main meal, we headed over to a favorite Amy's for dessert. 

While we were enjoying our ice cream, a thunderstorm poured rain on us.  The rainfall from this storm was among the worst I've seen in the last several decades.  Fortunately, we had a short dash from the front door to an awning-covered path back to the car.  Unfortunately, as we were finishing our cups, a couple who had decided to sprint out of the restaurant threw the front door open so hard that it came off its hinges and was hanging by a single wire.  Rain poured into the place, so the folks serving ice cream pulled the door shut--and the wire broke.  They wedged the door into the frame to block most of the rain and quite reasonably declared that exit no longer available.

This was not good news for me.  I had to leave via the back door to fetch the car, which turned out to mean an almost block-long run around the back of the building, through five different streams of water that were each deeper than the top of my sneakers, and eventually to my car.  I was soaked to the bone.  It would have been a lot funnier to me were it not happening to me.

No harm done, of course; I just didn't enjoy that part of the evening.  I dried off when I reached the room and buckled down to work. 

Speaking of which, tomorrow promises to be an insanely busy day, so I am outta here.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

On the road again: Austin, day 1

Getting up in the nines on a Sunday morning is never going to be a fun thing for me, but the rest of this travel day went exceptionally well.  Both flights reached their destinations earlier than the scheduled times, and I was lucky enough to get first-class upgrades for both of them.  I had enough time in DFW to enjoy a Red Mango parfait.  All the logistical details that can derail a trip--baggage, rental car, hotel room, etc.--lined up perfectly. 

Best of all, the evening featured a barbecue dinner at The County Line on the Lake and dessert at perpetual favorite Amy's Ice Creams.  It's hard not to like a day that includes those two places.

I normally post pictures of the food and/or the places I enjoy, but I did something highly unusual today:  I left my hotel room without my phone.  I was a few miles from the hotel before I realized what I'd done, so I decided to spend the evening without it.  I found that surprisingly uncomfortable, as if I was traveling half-blind--which, of course, in a way I was.  Like so many folks today, I've come to rely on my phone for random bits of data, pictures, and so.  The fact that I missed it so much makes me want to spend more time without it, because I suspect that its mere presence sometimes makes me less present than I want to be.  Another possible change to contemplate.


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