Monday, September 29, 2008


I would like to take a poll. Answer yes or no to the following two questions:

1) If you were staying at a stranger's house (friend of a friend or couch surfer) and were relegated to the living room couch, would you have sex on it while your hosts were not at home?

2) If you opened up your home to someone you didn't know but still trusted, would you be disturbed by your guest using your common living area for sexual activity?

We hosted two couch surfers for ACL. I thought they would be avid music fans, seeing as they traveled from California and New York for the festival. Not so much. We hardly saw them because we'd go to the festival early (when I say early, I mean like 1 p.m.) and they were usually still asleep. But whatever.

Then, poor Dave. He was not thrilled about the couch surfers in the first place. On Friday afternoon, while Hannah and I were at the festival, he came home around 4:30 and walked in on them in little to no clothing. He went straight into the kitchen, regained his composure, and went back to the living room. They were semi-clothed by this point and he said, "Welcome to our home."

I honestly didn't care if they have sex while they were here. I just didn't want them doing it on my couch. Is this a normal reaction? Or am I being too prudish? I think it's simply a matter of decency to expect a guest not to have sex on the host's living room couch. Right?


Otherwise, ACL was incredible. I saw almost everyone I wanted to see. The best performances were Vampire Weekend, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Jenny Lewis, Mates of State, Connor Oberst, Gnarls Barkley, Stars, Patty Griffin, Neko Case, and Band of Horses. Okay, that's almost everyone I saw. If you want details, just ask me.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Austin City Limits 2008

I received a free 3-day pass to the Austin City Limits Festival. Actually, Anslee gave it to me because she'll be in Europe this weekend. So I'm much less jealous of her trip now that I'm going to ACL in her stead.

Here is the line-up of artists I'm planning on seeing:
  • Vampire Weekend
  • Patty Griffin (in honor of Anslee)
  • Mates of State
  • Jenny Lewis
  • The Swell Season
  • The Mars Volta
  • Fleet Foxes
  • Jose Gonzalez
  • Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings
  • Man Man
  • Connor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band
  • Iron & Wine
  • Beck
  • Octopus Project
  • Gillian Welch
  • Stars
  • Neko Case
  • Okkervil River
  • Gnarls Barkley
  • Tegan and Sarah
  • Band of Horses
  • Foo Fighters
Also of interest, we will have three people from out-of-town staying at our house for ACL. One of roommate's best college friends is coming from LA, but we also have couch surfers - complete strangers who my roommate found through the website They sound like decent people...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Good-bye, Good Flow

I dream of a thriving local economy, one where people produced goods and services in their community and large corporations are at bay. Austin is by no means at this utopian state and probably never will be, but there are quite a few small local companies that are serving this area with quality goods and services. I try my hardest to support them as I can.

One of my favorites is Good Flow Juice and Honey, a small operation on East Austin that sells fresh fruit juice and honey wholesale to local retailers. They've been in business since the late 70s and they've never pasturized their juice.

They had no problems, and most of Austin just loved them. They had warning labels on all the juice bottles, and consumers were left to make the choice to risk illness in favor of fresher juice. I tried Good Flow pretty soon after arriving in Austin, and loved it for it's fresh-squeezed taste.

This was all good and well until the FDA got involved, and Good Flow has since been shut down (temporarily, we hope). The Austin Chronicle has a full explanation in this article. FDA regulations for pasturization are necessary for food that travels significant distances, and carting some orange juice around central Texas is not the same as sending something down the interstate towards Oklahoma or New Mexico (or further, like say, Odwalla).

It's just a shame. Good Flow is the type of company that keeps Austin true to itself, and I'll be looking to sign the petition mentioned in the Chronicle article to keep it around.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The City by Foot

Yesterday, I finally realized that I live in a city.

I mean, I know Austin is a city, and a pretty big one. It has a population larger than Boston, Atlanta, and the entire state of Alaska. But sometimes, it doesn’t feel like a big city, and I think that’s because I drive almost everywhere.

Anslee asked me to walk with her from her house on East 4th Street to Leaf, a salad restaurant on West 2nd Street. Both locations are technically “downtown,” and I’ve often told Anslee that I love her location because it’s so central and within walking distance of so much.

She has made the decision to walk more, and decided that walking to Leaf would be her first experiment. It’s a 2.3 mile walk. Sometimes, I had to stop myself from thinking “I’m walking over two miles for salad.”

But it honestly wasn’t that bad. It took us about an hour. Luckily, we’ve had nice weather this past week (when I say nice, I mean it’s about 85 degrees instead of the upper 90s). So we didn’t end up at the restaurant soaking in sweat.

As we walked along the sidewalks of our city, we noticed buildings and houses and objects we’d never see from our cars. East Sixth Street is particularly interesting from the vantage point of being of foot. It’s colorful and covered in litter, it’s gritty and, honestly, feels like a urban neighborhood. I’ve noticed the old buildings before, but I’ve never seen some of them up close. I found a new appreciation for Austin, and now, I’d like to spend more time not in my car.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Community Organizer vs. Small-town Mayor

Of all the things Sarah Palin said in her RNC speech, her quip insulting community organizers bothered me the most.

[If you didn't watch her speech, she said, "I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities."]

It's one thing to point out your opponent's faults - it's something else entirely to attack a profession that exists to improve communities. I mean, come on, who hates on social workers? Low blow, Sarah. I guess you wanna play nasty. That's not very Christian and motherly, is it?

I felt a little vindicated when I found this NPR story. I sent it to my very Republican mom.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Woes of the Uninsured

I have not had health insurance for almost a year, and this week, I had my first doctor's visit without insurance. I have a spider bite on my ankle, and it has swelled and itched and turned a slight purple color. It's not a life-threatening bite, but it's still worrisome.

One of my roommates is an occupational therapist and took some pre-nursing classes in college. She knows a good deal more than I do about these medical-related things, and she was concerned after it had been red and puss-filled for a few days.

One of her co-workers is a physical therapist/wound-care specialist, and she graciously looked at the bite on her lunch break. She told me there wasn't much she could do and recommended going to an urgent care facility or community clinic.

Then another one of her co-workers helped me look up free clinics and recommended one she used when she was sans-insurance. So I went there after visiting the hospital, and they told me they weren't accepting any new patients. Instead, they gave me a list of medical facilities around the city where I could find "affordable" car.

I called several places, only to find that most of the clinics for the uninsured are all booked, not accepting new patients. So I settled for an urgent care clinic near my neighborhood, which is decidedly low-income and more likely to be home to the uninsured.

So after the ordeal of searching for a place that would not break my bank account or overload my credit card, I was able to see a doctor. He told me he's pretty sure it's only a spider bite and it's not infected. He said some doctors prescribe steroids for spider bites to reduce swelling and itching, but he doesn't like to do that because of potentially harmful side affects. It ended up costing me $65.

I'm partially relieved it's not more serious and that it didn't cost me too much. At the same time, I'm still frustrated because the system is clearly not working. I spent $65 at a cheaper clinic for a 10 minute consultation. Had he given me a prescription, I'm sure it would have cost me at least another $30. While a spider bite is troubling, something so minor should not cost so much.

No one should be searching for the "best deal" on health care, and cost should never take precedence over quality. But that's the way it is right now, and the non-profit community clinics are strained and overbooked.

I know I'm gambling, but I'm also the victim of a fucked-up system. I'm not sure what the solution is, but the more I deal with this system, the better Canada's looks.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Pitbull in Lipstick...

I'm honestly conflicted about Sarah Palin.

She's the picture of Republican feminism - a pretty soccer mom who won't compromise her stance. She says she can keep up with men, taking down the media and community organizers on her way.

I won't dare call her a bitch. She has to be a bitch (a pitbull, perhaps?) and I applaud her for that. But I couldn't sit through all the biting partisan rhetoric in her speech two nights ago. Is it worse because it's coming from a woman?

Maybe what's the worst is the way she uses her family. They're all-American and patriotic and just like you and me. She says the media should leave her family alone, but only because her 17 year old daughter is pregnant. But when her family is the sparkling picture of Americana - the baby she kept because his life was precious, her oldest son's military service - then they're worth bragging on.

You know what? It's all political. She's a woman in politics, and she's using everything she can to make people think they should vote GOP in November. And let's face it, the McCain campaign needed a woman who wasn't a Barbie.

Now, I just hope they'll go easier on Michelle Obama.