I mentioned that I had a heavily-loaded pack, and that is I will be carrying this amount of weight on our Big Bend trip. The only things I didn’t put in the pack were my external battery and cables, and extra underwear/socks/base layers.
When I first got on the trail, my hip started hurting a bit and I was thinking that maybe I should turn around and not stress it. After all, I did run 4 miles the day before. But I continued on a bit, and adjusted my shoulder straps to take more of the weight off of my hips. This was the trick, and my hip pain went away and I would go on to complete the hike without any discomfort. I felt great!
So now I know that 30+ pounds of gear on my back is do-able, and so my confidence is high. Knowing that we won’t be rushed during our Big Bend hike is good too – we can take plenty of rest breaks. As long as the weather is nice, we should have an excellent trip!
My brother and sister-in-law were in town and one of the places they wanted to go was Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon to play chicken shit bingo. Mariko and I had never been there before so we were very interested in going and seeing what it was all about.
As you might have guessed from the name, it’s a game where a chicken is placed on a large bingo card, and the number he poops on determines the winning ticket. If you have one of the winning tickets, you get a share of the prize money. Surprisingly, my brother and sister won! We had no idea what the prize would be, but it turns out that it was a not insignificant amount of cash. What a score!
If you are in Austin, you should check out chicken shit bingo at Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon. It’s a real Texas experience, with live music and two-step dancing, and buckets of Lone Star Beer. Lots of fun!
Tonight we went to see a Shonen Knife at Empire Control Room in Austin. It was so much fun! I’ve wanted to see them live for many many years, and missed my chance last year when they were in town. This year Shonen Knife came back to Austin as part of their Sweet Candy Power North American Tour 2019 and Mariko, me, and some good friends weren’t going to miss the show.
Shonen Knife were super cool and rocked the house. It was fantastic! And it was nice to see Atsuko play bass since she (and her sister Naoko) were founding members way back in 1981 (The band members have varied, with Naoko being the only constant through the years). Risa, the drummer, has been with the band for a few years now and is a super-genki drummer. She’s like pure energy behind the drumkit! It’s so cool that Shonen Knife is still going strong and having fun.
Off-stage, they were really friendly too. I was happy to be able to chat with them and take photos both before and after the show, and then super-stoked to have them sign the concert t-shirt.
こんばんは。Today I took my two sons to get their passports renewed at the University of Texas International Office. In the past, we’ve gone to the post office to take care of it, but a friend recommended the UT International Office, and the reviews are fantastic, so we decided to give it a try.
I have to agree that this is the best way to get your passport renewed (or apply for a new one) in person in Austin! The staff was so friendly, the wait time was minimal, and they even offer photo services for cheaper than Walgreens.
I was nervous about going here during spring break because I heard it can get crowded. But really, it’s a great time to do it because you don’t have to take your kids out of school which is important if they are high school age. Plus, during spring break, there’s hardly any traffic. We arrived when the office opened (8 am) and parked at the San Antonio Garage, which is just across the street. The cost was US $6.
There was a short line at the UT International Office, as you can see in the photo above, but it was shorter I was expecting. I think we waited for about 15 minutes before reaching the reception desk, where the friendly staff member made sure we had all of our documents (including check to the US Dept of State) in order, placed everything into a plastic folder for us, and told us to wait for a txt which would let us know it was time for us to head upstairs for the actual processing. The waiting area is small but comfortable. It was such a nice environment compared to the post office!
After 10 more minutes, we received the message and took the elevator up to the 2nd floor where we turned in our document packet to another worker (also super-friendly), who double-checked everything, and then we sat down while they processed the application (or whatever they needed to do). If you need a photo, they will take it upstairs. I think the fee is US $13. Next time, I’d save the trip to Walgreens and just get the photo done (for cheaper) there at the UT International Office.
10 minutes later we were called back to the counter and took oaths stating that everything on the applications was true, then paid the US $35 service fee, listened to a detailed explanation of what would happen next, how long it would take to receive the passports, and received a paper that had instructions on how to check the status of the application. I have to say again that the staff members were so helpful, friendly, and clear about everything. The University of Texas International Office is SO MUCH BETTER than the post office for handling passport applications. I recommend anyone in the Austin area use them.