Saturday, January 30, 2016

Hugo nominations and my 2015 work

Hugo nominations are now open.  Go here to read about them and nominate.  If you're a member of this year's worldcon or last year's, you can nominate.

Nominating is a good thing, because the more people who show what they like by nominating works for the award, the more likely the final award is to be representative of what the majority of fans like.

I have one work eligible this year:  the novelette (just barely, at not quite 7,800 words), "All That's Left," which appeared in Onward, Drake!  While I would obviously love to make the Hugo ballot (and never have), I also wouldn't want anyone to nominate the story unless she/he really liked it.

I should note that if you're one of those people who believe voting turn-outs are always so big that your vote doesn't matter, in most years a hundred nominations would put a novelette on the ballot, and 300 would almost always make that story be the most nominated piece.

So, regardless of my works, if you're an SF fan, please consider nominating works you like for the Hugo.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Two reasons why the Austin airport is great

My lunch today, which consisted of the meat from this Salt Lick BBQ two-meat combo

Click an image to see a larger version.

and this small cup of ice cream from the Amy's there at the airport.

I've yet to taste a bite of brisket in North Carolina that was as good as mediocre Austin brisket, and the Salt Lick's brisket is at least average for Austin.

In case you're wondering, the two flavors in the Amy's cup are oreo and butter pecan.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

A pork chop too far

I've been hearing for years about how great the barbecue is at Cooper's in Llano, Texas, but I've never been able to make the trip there.  I was thus quite pleased to learn that Cooper's had opened a place in Austin.  Now, friends have cautioned me that the Austin Cooper's wasn't quite up to the original, but it was still supposed to be excellent.

Tonight, two of us headed downtown to find out for ourselves.

The name of the game at any good Texas barbecue joint is, of course, the meat.  We knew we had to try the brisket and the sausage, the king duo of Texas 'que.  When I saw beef ribs on the menu, though, I immediately decided a pair of them had to join our order.  At that point, we remembered our colleague and pal, Bruce, saying the pork chop was excellent, so we caved and ordered one of those.

Little did we know at that moment just how big that chop would be.

We quickly found ourselves with all of this meat.

Click the image to see a larger version.

What you can't tell from this photo is that chopzilla in the upper left was going on two inches thick.

Needless to say, we could not finish all of the food.  It truly was a pork chop too far.  We ended up leaving a third of the sausage, a fifth of the brisket, and all but a quarter of the chop.

That waste was the bad news.

The good news was that the brisket was the second-best brisket I've ever tasted, better by far than any other brisket I've enjoyed save for the all-time champ, the brisket at Franklin Barbecue.  Franklin's brisket is still the best, but Cooper's is mighty damn fine--and I could walk in on a Thursday night and order it after only a five-minute wait.

I will definitely return to Cooper's.

I was already downtown, so of course I had to head to the nearby Amy's for an ice cream dessert.

Tomorrow, I work in the morning and then journey home.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Counter 3.Five.VII remains the best restaurant in Austin

I ate at this wonderful restaurant twice a while back, so I had to return while in town to see if the chefs were still hitting the same high marks.  After a seven-course meal, I'm happy to report that the food is even better than it was before.

You sit at a counter that wraps around the kitchen.  In front of you, half a dozen or so chefs work to create the dishes as you watch.  Applying modernist cuisine techniques to mostly (but not entirely, which is fine) locally sourced ingredients, the chefs create dishes that are whimsical, beautiful, and always delicious.

Tonight's menu included a foie dish, and its preparation was largely traditional--except that the perfectly cooked piece of foie sat atop sweet potatoes in a light broth.

Click an image to see a larger version.

I don't like sweet potatoes and never order them, but because I trust these chefs, I tried a bite.  It was delicious.  More to the point, the sweet potatoes provided the sweet and the broth the acid that one expects from a foie preparation.  The combination was delicious.

An item the chefs tried out tonight--it was not yet on the menu--was a cheese fondue using two skewers of mushrooms and one of perfect country ham, all sitting in a fontina cheese thick foam.

Fun and incredibly tasty, this dish was a pleasure to eat.

The dessert, always a treat here, included an arugula sorbet.

Yeah, I know how it sounds, but it was delicious, as were all the other elements on the plate, including the large and thin macaron on which the sorbet sat.

Do yourself a favor and go eat at Counter 3.Five.VII.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A treat of an Austin evening

The temperature outside tonight stayed unseasonably cold, but it was still so warm compared to home that it felt like early spring, and I was happy to venture out.  I was doubly happy because even though it would cost me sleep, I treated myself tonight to a delightful Austin evening.

For dinner I went to one of the Kerbey Lane Cafe locations right near the University of Texas campus.  The food was as good as I'd remembered, simple, down-home fare that is just right on a cold night.  I opted for breakfast for dinner and had a Kerbey Lane classic, Eggs Francisco.

Click an image to see a larger version.

What you're seeing is an English muffin covered with scrambled eggs, bacon, tomato, avocado, and queso, to which I added extra bacon.  Oh, yeah, it was as good as it sounds.

From there I headed to the Cactus Cafe in the student union building on campus to catch a concert by a performer whose work I love, Stephen Kellogg.  The small venue provided seating for almost everyone and was jam-packed with about 150 folks.

I'd not previously heard the opener, Anthony D'Amato, but I enjoyed his performance enough that I'm going to pick up some of his music.

Kellogg and his band played for about 90 minutes on the tiny stage.

Sorry for the blurry photo.  That's SK in the front, and the drummer is hidden behind him.

I loved the show.  Perhaps one night when it's not so late and I don't have early morning meetings, I'll write about where this show took me, but it was a wonderful experience.  The second song in the set was one of my all-time SK favorites, "Fourth of July."  He and his band also turned in a very powerful and very moving version of his "Thanksgiving."

If Kellogg comes anywhere near you on this tour, do not miss him.

After the show, I clearly had to grab some Amy's ice cream, so I did.  It was as delicious as always.

Had I been able to go back to my hotel and crawl into bed, my head filled with the songs, it would have been a perfect night.  Instead, I worked for several hours, but even so, it was still a great night and a true treat.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Fun facts from a day of travel to Austin

Driving safely on ice-covered roads on an early morning trip to the airport is not the challenge.  The challenge is avoiding all the other insane drivers on those roads, such as the guy in the jeep who blew by me and the rest of the 20 mph traffic doing 45, or the woman in the SUV talking on the phone while trying to pass me and cut me off from merging onto the freeway.

Getting an upgrade on a Monday morning flight is about as likely as Donald Trump saying something sane.

The first exit row in many former US Airways planes has absolutely no extra room.  On every other carrier I've flown, exit row = more room.  This fact did not make me happy.

The weather here was beautiful--and now is proceeding to turn unseasonably cold, as if lower temperatures accompanied me from North Carolina.

Asking for minimal sides and less than the normal amount of meat on a three-meat platter from the County Line by the Lake--a dish I order just to get to taste the beef rib, sausage, and brisket--yields this plate.

Click an image to see a larger version.

Which is to say, the request does absolutely nothing.  You get what you get.

Amy's at the Arboretum is pretty at night,

but the ice cream inside is tastier than the outside is pretty.

That's a wrap for Monday.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The world outside my house

MarkP asked for a few shots of the outside world, so for the first time since I arrived home Thursday night, I braved the outdoors.  I didn't go out until late in the afternoon on Sunday, so a lot of the snow and ice had melted by then; sorry about that, Mark.

Here's Holden sniffing some plants near our front door.

Click an image to see a larger version.

As you can tell, others have been out walking, and despite the melting, we still have a lot of ice.

The driveway to the left is clearing.

Straight ahead, not as much has melted.

To the right, Cone Man must stand in the snow but at least has the joy of presiding over a melting section of the driveway.

Tonight, the temperature will drop, and a lot of the water on the roads will freeze into black ice.

Regardless, early tomorrow morning I must head to the airport for the next trip.

Wish me luck getting to RDU!


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