Travels With Oso con Migo

Is There Life After Antarctica?

OAE On The Road Again, from Austin to ...

April 6, 1997, last letter March 16, 1997

Gentle Readers,

I had a plump Irish sausage cooked in dark German beer wrapped in a Mexican flour tortilla and slathered with French mustard and all washed down with some good Australian Foster's beer. Such is Saint Paddy's Day in Austin. 

March 18, 1997, Like the Man Without a Country

My truck has Texas tags but its not really a Texas truck. We went after some lumber from one of Keith's neighbors; that was a truck thing but not sufficient. At another neighbor's, while Rob welded a broken seat bracket his brother Dave sat on the tailgate and tipped a beer. I worked on getting the seat belts to retract properly. Dave's two dogs came back from playing a game of fetch with each other and jumped into the bed of the truck. One laid down, the other sat. Smoke curled out from the windows where Rob was welding. There were now four pickups in the drive--mine was beginning to feel like a Texas truck, then Dave observed that it was lacking some Texas pinstriping. Maybe tomorrow we'll go looking for a barbed wire fence.

March 19, 1997, There's Nothing Accidental About Quality.

That's the motto of Harry Akin, founder of The Frisco Shop restaurant in North Austin which he opened in 1952. Harry opened his first restaurant in 1932 and for a time even raised his own beef to assure its quality. Some of the folks working in the kitchen of The Frisco Shop have been with the company for more than thirty years, ten of the present employees have been there more than twenty years. That's pretty good in any business. It must have been the meat loaf that attracted me to this place for lunch today, that and the fact that Frisco was the only eatery I could see for a parking lot in every direction. But I'll go for meat loaf anytime. When I'm traveling I look for small independent eateries and I always look for meat loaf. There must be something special about it; maybe cos we had meat loaf often when I was a little kid.

March 21, 1997, Vernal Equinox, Howdy Doody Waitress...

Its Gin and Tonic Time, its gin and tonic time, please remember the lime, and put some ice in mine. Its gin and tonic time, make it a double mine, and make it double time, its gin and tonic rhyme. Its gin and tonic time, yes Bombay Gin is fine, don't put no ice in mine, its gin and tonic time.

March 22, 1997, Friday, Hale-Bopp and Be-Bop

On March 2nd 1836, according to the Texas Histerical Committee plaque in Threadgill's restaurant on the corner of Riverside and Barton Springs, Texas declared her independence from Mexico, wild (sic) Comanches roamed the plains, Rangers protected frontier settlements, and this building was not here." Threadgill's World Headquarters is festooned with armagoyles, two and three rows deep, peering down from above the windows. Kenneth Threadgill, on the north side of Austin, established the original eat here and get gas place when in the 1930's he opened a diner in an old gas station. Janis Joplin sang there along with lots of other singers of that era.

In the 60's Eddie Willson bought the defunct National Guard Armory, a concrete edifice near the corner of Riverside and Barton, and turned it into the Armadillo World Headquarters music hall. Cmdr Cody, Bruce Springsteen, Willie Nelson, B.B. King have all played there. Later the Armadillo closes and Eddie buys Threadgill's original diner. Then later still he opens this location on the corner where the Armadillo used to be and decorates the building with gardillos and armagoyles.

Hale-Bopp is at its closest approach to Earth and a couple of hours after sunset is visible in the northwestern sky right out the front door here. Pretty spectacular.

I still have mixed emotions about being here and not on the ice; so far I am making the best of it but am very disconsolate with all the inept vacuous stupidity prevalent amongst the mercantile population.

NH has seen fit to strip me of some rights of my citizenship in that once fair state--its almost enough to drive me off to some other more considerate place, or return to the ice forthwith. Since the last time I insured a vehicle NH has implemented a new residency law which seems not to apply to licenses but requires one to "live" in the state for something like 185 days a year. They still let me have a driver's license and its ok register a vehicle but I am being refused insurance. Stupid.

March 24, 1997, Monday, In Search of Blue Bonnets...

There is Bluebonnet Ice Cream (not as good as Ben&Jerry's), Bluebonnet the state flower, a little late blooming this Spring due to all the rain but coming on strong now and people are making blueming Vernal hazards of themselves stopping randomly all along the highway to gawk and photo. Reminds me of the Autumnal leaflookers in New Hampster.

And the Bluebonnet Cafe, its what's cooking in Marble Falls, and has been for sixty-eight years. They had to move once when the original building burned, presumably from too much hot sauce in the chili. There's a long U-shaped counter in the main section, booths along two walls, and a few scattered tables. An old man in a dusty grey Stetson was perched near one corner of the counter when I took a booth nearby and ordered a Western Omelette. Presently a boy came in, might have been something you'd call a young man in some places. He took the stool across the corner from the old man who looked up from his coffee and paper. The old man set his Bluebonnet Cafe mug on the counter and looked again at the boy. The young man's hair was a spikey Mohawk dyed livid purple. The fuzz newly grown where the rest of his head had been shaved was yellow with streaks of green and he sported several rings of gold piercing his ear lobes, eye brows, and nose; his tie-dyed shirt matched the colouration of his head. He saw the old man looking at him intently and asked, --What are you looking at old man? The old man took another sip of his coffee, set the mug down and returned his gaze to the purple crested stripling. My omelette arrived, with hash browns and biscuits, as the boy asked again, --What are you staring at old man? The old man took another sip of his coffee and replied, --Young man, he said, twenty years ago in the Navy I got really drunk one night in a foreign port and made passionate love to a parrot; I think you're my son.

March 25, 1997, With three llamas, two dogs, and a dust storm!

I am visiting Matt and Luzma in Plainview Texas. This place is called Plainview cos everything here is in plain view. The place is so flat the whole city is zoned airport. You know in Texas there are dry counties and there are wet counties; this county is double dry. A dry county surrounded by dry counties; you not only have to drive to the next county to get a bottle of wine, you have to drive to the county after that one. When Matt and Luzma bought this house the back yard had recently been cotton field. They planted buffalo grass cos its a hardy grass that does not get killed by drought--it sort of hibernates--and of course if it can stand up to a buffalo it ought to be able to survive the kids and dogs. But a large yard of any kind of grass requires mowing or the kids are liable to get lost in it, or carried off by the Texas jackrabbits. Matt and Luzma hit upon a modern solution to the grass mowing problem--llamas.

I've known for a long time that Texans do everything big, after all Texas is a big state, just look at the size of their jackrabbits and hats. But this is getting ridiculous: To call from a pay phone in Dalhart where I was looking for ice cream, to a residence in Hartley where I wanted to be sure there were folks to help me eat it, a distance of sixteen miles, I was obliged to dial a total of three *dozen* digits!

March 26, 1997, Wednesday, Haggadah in Hartley

Who would have thought that your clothes could help to bring others to know of God's love or that you could be a living billboard of your faith. In the Spring of 1994 when Ed and Nan Weber went to a church conference in Pittsburgh they weren't thinking that way either; but a T-shirt printed with the "Top Ten Reasons to Stay Roman Catholic" changed all that. Now they are operating a store called House of Abraham Creations to sell their shirts world wide. The telling of that storey and preparations for their Passover-Last Supper took up most of my visit with them. The Passover meal in the Jewish tradition was to show how the Last Supper and elements of the Mass are derived from the Passover. Fascinating! I learn something new every day. 

Richard does the art work and runs the silk screen process, Gerry keeps the place in good working order. Artwork is separated into various colours and an acetate transfer sheet is prepared for each. From these acetates a printing screen is made for each ink or paint. The screens are then fitted to machine that looks like a rainbow hued mechanical starfish which manages somehow to keep the screens properly registered so the various colours, when squeegied through onto a shirt, reproduce the original picture.

March 27, 1997, Thursday, Blowing In The Wind West of Eden

The weather for Lubbock and vicinity included a high wind warning. From time to time during my drive south the visibility was reduced to less than one half mile in blowing dust, drifting garden parts and occasional gusts of lawn furniture and small children. At least three layers of the north Texas plains went east today.

March 28, 1997, Friday, Field of Dreams or Fuchs's Law?

What do you think of the Heaven's Gate cult deal? Interesting the reactions folks are writing. And the reactions of the police who cleaned up after. I think its great! It is the final and most creative exercise of personal freedom one can make in this progressively more stifling and restrictive society. It is also a great demonstration of the laws of natural selection at work. At least they didn't slaughter a bunch of school children or blow up a building on their way out. They must have truly believed in their faith--who are we to question their beliefs? It is just possible they may be on to something. I have more respect for cult members who commit suicide than I do for the whining sniveling snots wringing their hands and blaming society for all their troubles. 

Little Jon writes from Oregon that he is working hard searching for new clients who deal in renewable energy, astronomy or meteorology. Anyone studying the weather on other planets at an observatory powered by wind and solar energy might check his WWWeb site at And he sent along a photo he took of "the comet" --In Comet2.tif, notice the Hale-Bopp companion space ship leaving to pick up earthlings.

Ira Fuchs, vice president for computing and information technology at Princeton University, says there's a chance that by the time Internet 2 is built, researchers already will be clamoring for Internet 3. He cites what he calls Fuchs's Law, which states that the time to acquisition is longer than the time to obsolescence. "What that means is that the technology is advancing so rapidly that by the time the computer you originally asked for is finally delivered, you don't want that computer any more. That same problem is going to have an effect on Internet 2. We have to worry, Will we have enough time to test, and to think, before everybody is beating down the door to get on this thing?" Educom VP Mike Roberts is a little more optimistic: "I don't think we've worn out the field of dreams... But I think clearly the most important applications are the ones that can't be predicted. There are going to be marvelous things that come out of this, but nobody knows what they're going to be." --(Chronicle of Higher Education 28 Mar 97)

And this just in from the NSF... Regarding my note in On The Road Again Letter 97d about the c-130 known as XD-01 with the word "Research" in the name of the programme, NSF writes ...thanks for bringing that oversight to our attention.

March 30, 1997, Sunday, Afternoon at the cinema

The advert slides stopped running, the lights dimmed and the music faded as a gentleman stepped to the front of the theater to welcome us. First time I've ever been welcomed to a movie house. I put away my book and started in on the liter of "buttered" popcorn as Keith explained the bad rap this theater had received from the media. A third of the way through my popcorn and another usher arrived to explain the reason the film had yet to start was cos the bulb had burned out in the projector and it would be another few minutes before they had it changed. The lights came back up, the adverts filled the screen and Pachabel's Canon soothed us with Surround Sound. I shifted my popcorn picking into low gear and remarked on the several other delays my holiday had in getting this far. The bladderologist, the hydraulics, the bomb scare, the auto insurance. Finally yet a third usher came to tell us there was more at fault than the projector lamp and the movie was now cancelled.

The Presidio manager met the line of piqued patrons in the lobby and gave each a ticket good for another movie at any of the chains outlets and offered to refund our tickets for the cancelled showing or convert them to another movie. I chose refund and was presented with a form asking for name, address, phone &c. Why do I have to give you my name and address just to get my money back, I asked, you didn't want all that information when I bought the tickets. The manager replied that I could write "refused" if I wanted to. But I want to know why this is even asked for and he replied with a shrug that his own company didn't trust him. I've suspected that all along in similar dealings of late with other shops but usually am met with a surly --Its the rules, you want the refund or what? This was the first time I have received a forthright answer. 

Yesterday at the downtown BookPeople bookstore, where a week ago I spent nearly a hundred dollars getting a literary fix, I was met at the door by a smiling young bouncer who suggested I would have to check my backpack "over there". Its not a backpack, I replied, its a purse, a pocketbook, like that which the woman you let in just ahead of me is carrying. You'll still have to check it he said. What about that person I said, pointing at a woman two aisles along who had a backpack larger than mine. You go get her to check her pack and I'll check mine.

It ended up I had an interesting chat with the manager about their policy of selectively asking prospective shoppers to check their purses and backpacks. The fact of the matter is they don't trust their customers.

April 4, 1997, Friday, On The Road Again--Austin to ...

For as long as this journal is incomplete, it never ends but for now it is time to go.

Stay Gold, bcnu, Love, ajo

You do not have to live a small life --Amelia Earhart

 A.J.Oxton, OA, OO, OAE,  k1oIq

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