Best Place to Renew Passports in Austin

"Waiting at the Passport Office" Austin, 2019
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/3.2, 1/320 sec, ISO200
“Waiting at the Passport Office” Austin, 2019

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.

"International Office" Austin, 2019
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/5, 1/50 sec, ISO800
“International Office” Austin, 2019

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.

"Passport Takeaway" Cedar Park, 2019
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/3.6, 1/60 sec, ISO640
“Passport Takeaway” Cedar Park, 2019

I hope you had a nice day!


A Visit to the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin

"Holding Hands" Austin, 2019
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/4, 1/125 sec, ISO2500
“Holding Hands” Austin, 2019

Today Bay and I were at UT for a recruiting event, and after that was over we decided to check out the Blanton Museum of Art. Actually, Bay has been there twice before but this was my first time.

The Blanton Museum of Art is located on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin, so if you are in town for an event, vacation, or touring UT, it’s super-convenient to visit. There’s a parking garage right next door, and it’s only $4 (with validation). Admission to the museum for me was $12 (adult), and just $5 for Bay (youth). If you are a UT student, the admission is free, and $5 if you are a student at another college. Oh, and admission is FREE on Thursdays!

I enjoyed the modern art of the permanent collection, but if you are used to the offerings in New York City or other large metropolises, you might be disappointed. Still, the space is top-notch and the temporary exhibition Words/Matter: Latin American Art and Language at the Blanton was really good. I really liked the wood print posters and their graphic style.

I took a few photos in the museum, and at the Ellsworth Kelly Austin installation. Enjoy!

"Make Tacos Not War" Austin, 2019
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/3.2, 1/100 sec, ISO6400
“Make Tacos Not War” Austin, 2019
"Color Light" Austin, 2019
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/2.8, 1/125 sec, ISO640
“Color Light” Austin, 2019
"B" Austin, 2019
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/4, 1/125 sec, ISO800
“B” Austin, 2019
"Delicate Sculptures" Austin, 2019
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/4, 1/125 sec, ISO2500
“Delicate Sculptures” Austin, 2019
"Skylight" Austin, 2019
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/4, 1/420 sec, ISO200
“Skylight” Austin, 2019

Burger Lunch

"American Lunch" Austin, 2018
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/2.5, 1/125 sec, ISO1000
“American Lunch” Austin, 2018

こんばんは。How’s it going? Today I met a friend for lunch for a burger and fries. We sometimes visit Hat Creek Burger Company on Thursdays because they have a special on the beer: only $1! Of course, since it’s a lunch break, I just have one, but it’s funny to see how groups of people who work nearby really load up on the beer!

Besides that, the burgers are pretty good, and I always enjoy meeting with my friend to talk about our respective families and band kids, and also camera gear and our latest travels. Fun times!

"Bench Seating" Austin, 2018
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/2.5, 1/280 sec, ISO200
“Bench Seating” Austin, 2018

I hope you had a nice day!


Ramen and a Movie

"Jinya Ramen" Austin, 2018
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/2.8, 1/125 sec, ISO2500
“Jinya Ramen” Austin, 2018

こんばんは。How’s it going? Today was a day of leisure, with a little bit of DIY at home. Everyone slept in late today except for me, since I tend to wake up pretty early even on the weekends. But I enjoy having my morning coffee and watching YouTube or drawing before the rest of the family wakes up.

For some reason, Koa asked to have “real” ramen this weekend so we decided to check out a ramen restaurant that we haven’t been to before. It was just myself and my two sons together today since Mariko was out at a lunch party, and then off to a girls’ movie night. So it was boys’ day and that began at Jinya Ramen Bar. I’ve heard mixed reviews of this restaurant, but Mariko said the one ramen that she had was good so I was excited to try. She did mention that the other ramen that her friends ordered were not good, and I’ve heard similar reviews from native Japanese.

We each got different types of ramen, plus a side of gyoza and fried chicken. I’d have to say the ramen was just ok. Not bad, but definitely not one to recommend when there are better ramen places in Austin. But, I’m glad we checked it out so that we know where it stands compared to other places!

After lunch, we returned home and Koa and I took apart Mariko’s Kitchenaid Epicurean stand mixer to clean out the old grease and relubricate it. That was a messy job, but it went without a hitch. DIY mission accomplished!

To finish off the day, we went to see Solo: A Star Wars Story. I thought it was great! So many cool tie-ins to the original trilogy and I loved the action. The story was pretty good too, and we finally get to see the spice mines of Kessel and the famed Kessel Run, which is definitely not what I was expecting. After a disappointing (to me at least) Last Jedi, I was hoping to like Solo, and I was not disappointed! I can’t wait for the next Solo movie.

"At the Theater" Cedar Park, 2018
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/2.5, 1/17 sec, ISO6400
“At the Theater” Cedar Park, 2018

I hope you had a nice Saturday!


Hang Out

"Music Mural" Austin, 2018
Photo info: Motorola Moto G (4), 3.64mm, f/2, 1/25 sec, ISO500
“Music Mural” Austin, 2018

こんばんは。How’s it going?

This evening I went with my sons to the new Korean supermarket, H-Mart, to buy some dinner at Donkey Mo’s fried chicken restaurant. The market has a pretty nice food court area with a small stage for live music. And it looks like they have a line-up of local musicians just about daily. It’s pretty cool! And also, there’s a little beer bar that sells bottles for only 99 cents.

I think Koa liked the place and he said it might be cool to hang out there with his friends and listen to some music (and probably eat wings!). It’s too bad that it’s a little far to bike to, but I’ll be happy to drop them off since it’s not a long drive.

The chicken at Donkey Mo’s is pretty good, but I think they use a little too much batter. It’s really filling but you feel a little icky because of all the grease. Still, it’s tasty and not too expensive. We bought four orders of chicken and four sides and the total came out to be about $42.

"Music" Austin, 2018
Photo info: Motorola Moto G (4), 3.64mm, f/2, 1/25 sec, ISO400
“Music” Austin, 2018
"Food Court" Austin, 2018
Photo info: Motorola Moto G (4), 3.64mm, f/2, 1/20 sec, ISO400
“Food Court” Austin, 2018

I hope you had a nice day!