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AUS MegaDO 2010

AUS MegaDO 2010

Old Mar 1, 10, 8:25 pm
  #1  
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AUS MegaDO 2010

AS 658 SJC AUS 0855 1415 73G 11C

My uncle, a good sport, drove me to Morgan Hill to catch the
68 bus, which arrived a hair late at about 0515. I got to
Santa Teresa, the light rail terminus in time to catch a
train at around 0530. A smooth ride to Metro/Airport, where
I found myself at the beginning of a 35-min hole between
buses, the longest one in the service schedule, not counting
the 11-5 overnight. Nonetheless, I was at the airport with
a good cushion, especially as security took about 1 min.
Martini Monkey was closed, and there's no club, even a paid
one, in dingy, nasty Terminal C, due to be demolished this
year (the bag claim area is already gone). Internet is free
and apparently airportwide, so that was a consolation.

So here's a reason for gate liceage: this flight boarded in
this way: F and MVP Gold; MVP and partner elites; and then
the wonderful scrum of "all rows, all passengers." I found
a spot for my carryon fairly close, but some guy in the next
row, arriving a bit late, had to check his bag.

opushomes and Marsha were in the second exit row, a couple
feet behind me. I'd tried to get into one of these rows, but
as opus pointed out, I'm not important enough.

I needed to wake up, so I had a Coke Zero; it was nasty.

A Cougar Mountain oatmeal raisin cinnamon cookie. It was
okay. Why is it that a woman of my age and level of
attractiveness who hit on younger persons might be called a
cougar, whereas if I did likewise I'd be considered a creepy
old man?

AS seems to offer somewhat better recline in Y than the
airlines I tend to fly, either that or my far memory is
faulty. This worked to my disadvantage as the guy in front
reclined as far as possible and then some, bouncing back and
up and coming as close to fracturing my laptop screen as has
ever happened to me. And he kept doing it, too, obliviously.

Sheraton Austin Hotel at the Capitol, 701 East 11th Street.

The opus family and I took a cab to the Garden Inn, whence
after depositing Marsha at her room we walked to the
Sheraton for our rendezvous with the crew.

I checked in, got a room with a prized highway view, and
went toward my room to put up my stuff. The elevator opened,
and my heart leapt when out stepped lili. Any party with
lili is a good party. We greeted each other with hugs and went
our ways. I hurried to the room, made sure everything was
okay, and hied myself back downstairs; I was one of the few
who obeyed Starwood Lurker (William) when he led the way to
the bus. Eventually the cats went herded and we were off.

Central Market is a bit of a hike out of town, and on the
way there William took great and perverse pleasure in
pointing out all the wonderful places to eat en route. I
think that he is setting the scene for a new MegaDO, the
Austin nonBBQ do - you know, Magnolia Cafe for breakfast,
Fran's Burgers for lunch, and so on.

On arriving, the impression I got was whoa, I've been here.
As it turns out, I have - the Houston location, where I'd
gone to buy flowers for my hostess at my 40th reunion last
year. It's like a Whole Foods, only Texas-size and with
prices that aren't stupid. And with sampling stations all
over the place. Some of us were expecting Les Halles. It's
not that way.

We split into two groups so as to be manageable and not
disrupt the store too much. One half was to hang at the
cafe part of the store, eating and drinking and causing
havoc while the other toured; then we were to switch places.

The Director of Training, pleasant and knowledgeable, led us
through the store, enjoining us not to sample while on the
tour, as that would bog things down. monitor, Franny, lili,
and I, probably the most senior members of this august
group, promptly disobeyed her and went tasting about all
there was to taste. A togarishi-encrusted rare ahi tuna
with seaweed salad was my favorite. I offered some to lili,
who politely (i.e., without tearing my head off) refused.

One of the stations offered a decent Sangiovese and the
fruity and pleasant Butterfield Station Cabernet 08
(California someplace). Good move. We bought a few bottles,
which I believe is the desired result of this activity.

In addition I saw the Peter Lehmann and the Layer Cake
Shiraz 08 at fairly advantageous prices; I know the former
from having been fed it by Peter's wife and the latter from
Vinnin Liquors in Swampscott, MA. After some soul-searching
I got a couple bottles of the latter, as it's more luscious
and would make a better Q wine.

We cracked a bottle of the Butterfield at the cafe, with
bread and cheese (a significantly ripe Brie) courtesy of
Marsha. And in due time it was time to go back. I put the
remainder of the wine in a go cup and was one of the last
back on. Sat with Noelene on the way back; we caught up
and had a good old chat. Unfortunately, half the facts I
remembered about her actually belonged to Downunder Girl,
so I got kind of embarrassed a couple times.
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Old Mar 1, 10, 8:36 pm
  #2  
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A lavish reception at the Sheraton.

Wholly holy moley - carved tenderloin, top shelf booze
including decent tequila and Bourbon, chocolate truffles.
Major yums. And a bunch of high Starwood officials to
answer all of our impertinent questions (some of which
were really impertinent). Not being a serious Starwood
person, despite being gold, I concentrated on the food
and bev, which were most satisfactory. The guy at the
turkey station was amused or horrified, I'm not sure which,
when I ordered a plate of skin and fat. He did give it to
me, though.

Randy had provided FT goody bags said to contain wondrous
stuff. I didn't take one - it would have to be fine goodies
indeed to cause me to check luggage! and my carryon was
obscenely overfilled to begin with. But I certainly appreciate
the gesture, and I hope that other folks enjoyed the swag
they found here.

The party lasted a couple hours with promise of more, but
I had an editorial assignment that was due. Went back to
the room and settled down for an unpleasant several hours.

I worked mostly through the night and eventually went down
to the lobby to e-deliver my manuscript and do the FT and
stuff like that. This took an hour, and I was feeling muzzy
and satisfied. So happily enough I went to the elevator to
go home and catch a few hours' zs. The door opened, and my
heart leapt when out stepped lili. Breakfast, she asked, and
so it was. A special deal for FTers: we got the breakfast
buffet included in our rate. Did people know this? It seemed
a pretty sparse turnout, given it was free food. As Q was
theme for the weekend, I decided to go with maximal porky
goodness (yes, I used this term long before Bourdain made it
famous on whatever TV show) - peculiar sausages, which
tasted sort of like grease-soaked pigskin and sage; and a
most resilient and also greasy bacon. I enjoyed them both.

We were joined at some point by George (SanDiego1K's +1) and
Donna (handle forgotten). A fun time.

lili was going on the state Capitol tour, stratofortress's
contribution to the Do, and I asked if I could tag along.
I forget the answer, but I did anyhow.

We walked the half uphill mile to the building, feinted
toward the stadium and the university campus, and slid into
the Capitol a few minutes early. stratofortress, a longtime
legislative aide-type Capitol denizen (how can one be
longtime when he's half my age?), gave a really nice tour,
low-key and probably much more interesting than what the
general public get. Nice job.

We had to be back at the Sheraton at 1230 to get the bus to
Lockhart. It's a half mile, but downhill this time. Greg
from College Station (handle forgotten) joined us. boxo and
sea777guy took an automobile. I forget what the others did.

It's a good half or 40 to Lockhart, and I could hear and
almost feel the slavering of the anhungered beasts. By the
time we hit Kreuz Market, on the outskirts of town (it's a
new construction, product of a schism between members of the
prime BBQ family of the town). It's pretty modern-looking,
which is a disappointment. At least they could have made
an interesting building. You stand in this enormous line,
amid the tantalizing oak smoke, gab a bit with neighbors
both known and unknown (as we were a full bus, it was for
us mostly known), and at the end they sell you meat, meat,
or meat. If you want drinks (Shiner Bock, for example) or
sides, you go next door. We sat with Michael (handle
forgotten), sagy, and a couple others who were at the edge
of my visual range (sorry).

Brisket - pretty decent, too lean, not cooked enough.

Burnt ends - way burnt. Not exceptionally edible.

Sausage - I liked this, especially as it wasn't too salty.
Others disagreed, finding it simplistic and bland.

Do NOT NOT NOT get the pit ham. It's like supermarket ham,
only saltier and not so good, thrown into the pit for a
while to dry it out. Nasty. I'd envisioned pig leg lovingly
smoked like the brisket, tender and shreddingly succulent.
It wasn't. What it was was reason never to come here again.
The burnt ends were also a reason never to come here again.
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Old Mar 3, 10, 1:23 pm
  #3  
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Black's downtown was our second stop. It's 77 years old and
is somewhat established as a competitor to Kreuz's and its
....... offspring. The line here was as irritating as the
others, and some outlander gate lousette tried to push past
us; as one might expect, she was smacked down in due course
by the FT sword of death. Apologizing meekly, she made her
way back to the back of the line.

The brisket was juicy and excellent - best on the trip, I
would say; the ribs and sausage pretty good though salty.

We got a tour of the pit from the 3rd generation Black
running the place. Fun; and William had a surprise for us
at the end, when we left out the back door - sausage from
the Luling Market, a bit oomphier than at Kreuz, not quite
so salty as the Black's - quite good.

William announced that there would be no shame in staying
on the bus. I'm not sure anyone paid attention to him.

Smitty's is the original Kreuz's. Apparently there was a
secession between branches of the family, and some of them
went off to Kreuz's (the original name), and some stayed.
This was by far the most atmospheric of the lot - you go
through a dark smoky corridor (roofed in area between two
ramshackle buildings, I reckon) and past the pit, then turn
right to the Q line, then right again to the dining room,
where you can buy sides, beer, and ice cream, We had
brisket, which was almost as dry as Kreuz, though
pleasantly smoky, and sausage, moderately salty, moderately
seasoned, moderately edible.

This would have been pleasing enough but not by comparison
to our previous stop. Those who like sweets appear to have
been more favorably inclined to Smitty's than I was.

We piled fullly onto the bus, some of us eager for our
fourth stop, some of us eager for our final stop.

William announced that there would be no shame in staying
on the bus. Perhaps a few paid attention to him this time.

A pretty unprepossessing look, this Chisholm Trail. It
crows about its sausage, but I got only a taste of brisket
this time. It was pretty fatty, pretty tender, good smoke,
nothing special. I should have gone back for a sausage, but
my dining partner and I were FULL by this time.

Eventually we staggered back onto the bus, and our faithful
driver Sandra got us back to the hotel in time for dinner.

During this exercise in gluttony many bovines were
dispatched and numerous Shiner Bocks were consumed, as well
as some Layer Cake Shiraz 08, which I sneaked into the
restaurants. And yet there was dinner.

I'm not sure why we went to Serrano's. Certainly it's
convenient, just a block from the hotel. But equally
certainly we didn't need more calories. I got there a
little late, hoping that my stomach would benefit from
a short breather. It didn't.

Chips and salsa were on the table, so I sampled those.
Dos Equis was on tap, so I had one of those. It was the
wimpy lager (why don't the restaurants offer the nicer
amber?). Monitor sent over some guac that he didn't have
room for. It was pleasantly spicy. I didn't ever make it
over to the buffet table for the real food so can't
report on it.

Tired of the XX, I asked for a Negra Modelo. The kids
behind the bar, not used to special requests, couldn't
find an opener. I don't know how they got the bottle
opened, but eventually they did.

At length we broke up from Serrano's and went, some to bed
and others to nightlife. For our table, the afterparty was
supposed to be at Antone's. lili and I decided to walk, as
it was not too cold and not too far. When we got there, we
were dismayed to find a line around the corner and down the
block, with no FTers in it. So we began a random walk
through the 6th Street Entertainment District and that took
us to various other districts, none of which had a color in
its name.
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Old Mar 3, 10, 2:36 pm
  #4  
 
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nice trip report
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Old Mar 3, 10, 7:46 pm
  #5  
 
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so that is what you were doing on the 'puter all weekend!
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Old Mar 3, 10, 9:02 pm
  #6  
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Enjoyed your report as always. Though I'm shocked to see you on someone other than US or UA!
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Old Mar 4, 10, 9:36 am
  #7  
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@liche90 - thanks.

@TY - yeah. The talking across the table was via actual
low-tech voice-spoken words, despite the impression given
by the pictures!

@CMK10 - needed a nonstop SJC-AUS to be there in time
for the Central Market thing. Though I have been known to
fly AS ... my Visa card is an AS one.
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Old Mar 4, 10, 12:38 pm
  #8  
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Looking forward to your write up on Salt Lick.
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Old Mar 8, 10, 12:13 pm
  #9  
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By an embarrassing methodology, which I won't discuss here
but that incidentally touched on both of our having
abandoned our mobile phones at the hotel, we narrowed the
choice down to some sushi place near the Capitol that had
music, or else the Elephant Room, which (our informant told
us) had good jazz. Sushi isn't a particularly lili thing;
I don't know how she feels about elephants, but they must
beat raw shrimp and stuff like that. Anyhow, from where we
made our decision it was only about 6 blocks down Congress.

An unprepossessing subterranean location. A bouncer, our
age, informed us of the cover charge and that there were no
tables available, but "there might be a few seats back there
[gesturing toward the back]." After some pause and internal
debate we decided to cough it up, and out back we went - to
find the Austin jazz club version of the Boardroom. Our
table had, let's see, monitor and Franny; platbrownguy and
Emily; someone introduced to me as Frenchie Flyer or Fryer
or something and her +1. There were other FT tables, only
it was dark (if you Google the place, it seems often to be
on lists of places to see and be seen, but that can't be
more than a kenning), so apologies to those who I didn't
see or be seen by.

Franny was drinking Queen of Hearts Shiraz, so we had a
taste and decided to go on to the Cabs, listed as Heritage
(California) and Goggenheim (Argentina) - very similar
wines, the Heritage tasting like a substantially watered
down version of the other, which was okay. At least they
tasted sort of like Cab; the Shiraz had been slightly
dubious.

A fun visit. Pretty good live music interspersed with
recorded during the combo's copious breaks. The two of us
outstayed all the others by half an hour maybe; then
after a similar but not quite so random walk back to the
Sheraton, we hung out in the lobby and chatted with Alysia
and bk3day and watched the world (the UT Law School casino
night, with the ladies both over- and underdressed at the
same time and the gents just overdressed) go by. I stayed
quite late - late enough to find out that the Sheraton
Austin, at least, midnight comes around 0130.
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Old Mar 8, 10, 12:17 pm
  #10  
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A FT dilemma: prepaid breakfast before prepaid AYCE Q.
Gluttony or thrift or whatever won out. As those watching
the thread may have noted, certain of us spent more time
at breakfast enjoying the free Internet than the food or
each other's company, but I shoveled a few sausages and
strips of bacon down the hatch to make a good prelude for
the day.

It's about 30 miles to Driftwood, the site of the original
Salt Lick Barbecue. The site lists two others, but as it
turns out these are a stadium concession and the franchise
at AUS. And twisty turny miles they are, so by the time we
got there, we were hungry, slavering, I believe the term is.
We were sent to the misnomered Garden Room, which looks and
feels like the mess hall at summer camp, if you went to
summer camp when you were a kid. The food isn't summer
camply, though.

(Oh, by the way, we stopped en route at a place called
Bubba's, as there isn't a beer to be had at the Salt Lick,
which is in apparently dry Hays County. There's a pretty
good selection of beers and some wines at not-too-bad
prices. They do make it up in volume - this is the nearest
boozerium to the pilgrimage site. I got a Lone Star (tastes
sort of like PBR) for old times' sake; forty plus years ago,
underage and thirsty, I'd drink this or Jax, which I believe
no longer is made, and thank goodness for small favors.)

The prix fixe offers family-style (if your family is called
a pride or a streak) platters made up of

brisket - very tender, nice flavor, almost corned beefy but
without most of the salt. Smoke wasn't overdone, but I like
oversmoked meat if it's not too salty;

ribs - excellent; the exemplar of ribs if you will: smoky,
tender, but not mushy nor falling apart. But I am a
Texas Q purist - pork must take second place to beef;

sausage - I think maybe the best spicing, but I thought it
quite a bit too salty for my diet.

The famous sauce came on top and on the side. I thought the
small dose on top was more than plenty, but I am not a great
fan of the mustardy sauces, of which this is one.

Vegetables on the side:

chicken - it was chicken, what can I say. As close to a
vegetable as animal protein can be. Even with gallinophiles
dominating our table there was a piece left over;

potato salad - cuminy and tasting almost like Indian food;
I liked this quite a bit;

beans - good for beans; but I didn't want to discomfit my
traveling companion(s) by my reaction to beans;

slaw - didn't taste, partially because it's green and
partially for the same reason.

Interesting thing about the brisket - after the table
polished off all of it, I ordered a second plate, whose
contents were less tender and juicy than the first (but
still well in contention with the best from the previous
day). It also came unsauced, a plus.

Our table ate distressingly modestly. I am told that
others made up for our abstemiousness.

We accompanied our meal with the Layer Cake Shiraz, the
Butterfield Station Cab, and the aforementioned Lone Star.
Also offered were Shiner beers aplenty, in various flavors
and colors, courtesy of Starwood Lurker.

Dessert (extra charge) was I believe peach cobbler, anyhow
something cobbler. Our table I believe passed unanimously.
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Old Mar 14, 10, 10:34 am
  #11  
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Next: a tasting at nearby Driftwood Winery. After all had
eaten their overfill, we clambered back on our friendly bus;
some of us diverged from the program, either with planes
to catch or being suspicious of the idea of Texas wine or
not drinking wine at all. These unlucky or benighted ones
were accommodated in the cars of friends who had driven up.

The winery is in a really pretty location, and our tasting
kiosk was in a breezy area smelling lightly of sage or
some similar native herb; conducive to lazing about and
being inveigled into buying lots of product; little did
they know that we had planes to catch and TSA to deal with.

We tasted 11 wines in short succession, overload if I've
ever seen it: 2 whites (not notable); a rose de Pinot Noir
(not notable minus); 5 reds; and 3 sweeties, which, to give
them credit, were reasonably acid and thus well balanced.

The consensus was that the reds that had Cab in them were
the best: the Cab itself and something called Longhorn red.
The former was rather nice in the California style with
chocolate and plums, a honeyed aspect, and good vanilla
oak, and if you can't taste these things, don't knock those
who can. The Longhorn, a blend with a lot of Shiraz I think,
was the consensus favorite, with black cherry and spice, but
I found it a little out of balance toward the tannin end,
perhaps the most ageworthy of the lot.

A few of us got together to buy Sandra, our good-natured
and long-suffering bus driver, a couple bottles with the
strict injunction that she wait until we were out of sight
before sampling them.

A contrasting trip to the Mandola Winery (Italian-style
products mostly) was scratched by scheduling issues, which
is okay, as we had had plenty of sensory and oenophilic
input by this time.

Life was good on the way back to the hotel. Though there
were fewer than twenty of us on this leg, the feeling was
just as upbeat as on the others.
-
Not that anyone needed more food, but Threadgill's was on
the evening agenda. Again lili and I decided to walk, as it
was not too cold (though a bit far, as it turns out), and we
could have used a bit of exercise to settle our stomachs.

Sixth Street is quite different on Sunday night, no buzz
at all, so we bypassed it and went down some other street,
which was also quiet. We passed a congregation of hotels
near one another - a Hilton; a Hampton; a Residence Inn and
Courtyard in the same building - and speculated on how easy
it would be to get status on multiple programs on mattress
runs arranged like this. Just compelled to stay on topic, I
guess. Crossed the bat bridge, but I guess it wasn't the
bats' social hour, so that was less fun than it could be.

Threadgill's is easy enough to find, and with Starwood
Lurker's hand-drawn map it was a total snap. Our only issue
was distinguishing the front door from the back door. Looks
like we would have found the party earlier if we'd entered
by the back door.

I guess lili is as nearsighted as I, because she spotted
Alysia at a noisy banquet table to our left as we entered
the place, and I saw Donna (handle forgotten), so we burst
upon the scene expecting to be greeted with open arms, only
we weren't - it was the wrong bunch of people altogether,
and Alysia and Donna were figments of our myopia.

After our long walk and our exhausting 30-second tour of the
restaurant to find you all, we were hungry enough for half a
sandwich each: we split a hickory burger medium rare (the
waitperson said that the quality of the meat here is such
that they serve it at any stage of doneness, including rare)
- a pretty good chunk of meat, thin slices of Canadian bacon
on top, slathered with what tasted like chipotle ketchup. We
passed on the cheese, though in retrospect I probably should
have sacrificed a couple lactase pills and eaten the cheese:
would have balanced the tang of the ketchup better.

Our parting toast was at the Ginger Man at Lavaca and 4th.
Pints of Spaten were 3.25, an amazing bargain; I had the
malty, rich, alcoholic double, Optimator; lili had the Pils.

We lounged about in the mixed comfort of overstuffed living
room furniture in a concrete warehouse space with an open
garage door spewing cool rainy air at us, but, hey, it was
the best available.
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Old Mar 19, 10, 12:21 pm
  #12  
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The usual breakfast routine: met lili downstairs, where I
had some fruit and greasy breakfast meats, and we pulled out
our laptops for the now usual and customary social session,
others of which Larry U so ably captured on electrons and
has published for our embarrassment.

As the rain had stopped, and it was nice out, and we'd
established a pleasant walking routine, we thought of taking
the famous and cheap public bus back to AUS, but Starwood
Lurker had mentioned a hotel logo van parked out front and
had suggested we inquire about service. So we did: it turns
out that the hotel has contracted with WN for crew pickup
and delivery; during its downtime the van is available to
transport hotel guests (an unadvertised feature). So instead
of a buck apiece to take the bus, From NYC joined us, and we
grabbed a ride, paying more than a buck apiece in tip, which
allowed us to spend maybe 15 more minutes in the PC on the
other end. At the counters: the Easy Chickens were balky, so
getting my boarding passes printed was the longest part of
the predeparture formality. Security, even with a gratuitous
swab of my shoes, took a couple minutes. When they pulled my
innocuous-looking loafers off the belt, I exclaimed, they
busted my shoes! to which lili replied something the gist of
which was that I should get compensation or redress ... it
became clear that she thought I meant that they'd broken my
shoes. No, they busted them. You're our age, kiddo, get with
the program.

It's a nice President's Club: moderate in size, fairly well
appointed, with a sign in the men's room warning us that we
should think twice about drinking alcohol if we were or were
likely to become pregnant. I invited several persons into
the room (I don't know the last time I inveigled a young
lady into a men's room) to goggle over this misplacement, as
it tickled my funny bone rather much. It was suggested that
my sense of humor was a little obscure; but I did catch a
couple of our colleagues chortling surreptitiously.

Kahlua and coffee for lili and me; Colpuck, who had preceded
us here, joined us for Bailey's and coffee. We chatted about
the things that FTers chat about, to the mystification of
the few others in the lounge, and were presently joined by
BondAir007, monitor, Franny, and bk3day, who of course
made the conversation more animated and more mystifying.

To join monitor in his bubbly, and as I had to take full
advantage of a bargain, I had a Glenlivet 15 - as pointed
out elsewhere on the forum, charged at not much more than
bottleshop prices. It was perhaps the smoothest Scotch
ever served in a US domestic air terminal.

Owing to the miracles of flow control around EWR and AA
delays, we all ended up leaving at roughly the same time.
I stopped by the Salt Lick stand, as it was handy, and my
next leg was on a one-class RJ, and ordered half a pound of
brisket. "We don't sell by the pound, just by the ounce."
It was difficult to get the cashier to realize that half a
pound was the same as 8 oz. I decided to get a quarter extra
(pound, not ounce) in case I ran into any FTers suffering
early withdrawal.

Lesson: 12 oz of brisket costs as much as all you can eat
at Driftwood. They have you over a barrel here, and they
know it.

lili was still at her gate, so I gave her a taste and went
off to the very far end of the terminal, gate 23 I think it
was - a couple hundred feet away at least.
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Old Mar 20, 10, 7:54 am
  #13  
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Location: IAD, BOS, PVD
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Posts: 7,200
UA5882 AUS DEN 1143 1305 CRJ 3D

Colpuck had been looking for a VDB on this one, which was
zeroed out. No such luck; he was last on, with 2B. I handed
him the extra quarter (less lili's tribute), and he went to
his seat. Turns out 3C was more than happy to trade and sit
across from his traveling companion in 2C, so Colpuck and I
ended up sitting together, talking miles and points in the
usual way. A shortish flight but still too long for an RJ.
Bumps of the less pleasant variety on descent.

I went to see if I could get on an earlier SFO flight, with
Colpuck trying to score a VDB off his LAX flight - we had
talked about people being at different life stages having
different needs, and here was a perfect example. No go on
the earlier flight - F0 and Y not too many, so we went to
Concourse A to pay homage to the PC, which is scheduled to
close forever midmonth.

The bartender whom I find a hoot (reminds me of Richard
Widmark) wasn't there, but a smiling young lady (I bet
Colpuck remembers her as middle-aged) kept us in beer and
potato chips for over an hour. As he wanted to be at his
gate at the most advantageous time to ask for his bump, we
left at around 3; I had the nagging feeling that another
beer here had my name on it, but, hey, I could remedy that
abandonment with its cousin courtesy of UA.

UA 735 DEN SFO 1543 1719 752 was a 319 2A Ch9 Empower

I got to the gate just as boarding started; there was a
big (both long and broad) line for the carpet. Part of it
was gate lice, but most of us were crowding around so as
to claim our rightful overhead space. An overexcited, tall
guy plowed in front of me to take full advantage of his F
pass. I asked "excuse me?" somewhat pointedly, and he fell
back in line without demur. Turns out he had 1B, and there
was reason to try to board early; but then show up early!
(and risk the derision of FTers everywhere). The flight was
chockfull, and in fact at the end there was some difficulty
with the overhead bin space in F. Some of the pax took
things into their own hands and put their bags into the
forward closet when the FAs weren't looking.

Fruit and cheese plate, warm chocolate chip cookie.

First officer announcement: "If there's anything we can do
to make your flight more enjoyable, let us know." I asked
for Channel 9, which request was refused. So much for that.
Otherwise an uneventful and unexceptionable leg.

I'd hoped to get folks together for dinner at 6; from 9 to
10 was meeting a FA friend coming back from the SFO-OGG turn
- but nobody could make it out that early. I got tired of
e-mails saying "next time," feeling slightly (but not
completely) unloved. So I checked out the SKL, which didn't
open until 8:35, and went forlornly back to the RCC, where
an underripe banana and a half pint of snack mix masqueraded
as dinner. As I sat there reading FT, some wild-eyed guy of
my approximate age asked me about the wi-fi situation. I
asked him how he had gotten in, and he said, Priority Pass.
I said, no, you don't get any, but you're in luck: one of
those scratch cards made him very happy, and off he went.
Later he went past with a beer; he toasted me with it, but
before I could hijack it from him, he was gone.

I was feeling so good (remember me in HNL and SIN, beached-
whalelike and out of breath) that I almost ran back along
the passage back to domestic. And hurt my ankle, whoops.

My friend was working OGG and came in right around 9. She
didn't have time to change out of uniform, so we couldn't
repair to the RCC; some of the paid Internet kiosks down
toward the end of the gate area have been replaced by
a lounge with plants and comfy chairs and coffee tables,
all very '60s but better than nothing. Kind of noisy for
conversation, because of traffic on all sides. We chatted
rather louder than we normally would for a while and then
went to the gate area, where we found a quieter spot. We
talked of music things, family things, health things,
United things, in order of pleasurability, but too soon it
was time to board and claim that precious overhead space.
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Old Mar 21, 10, 2:26 pm
  #14  
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Location: IAD, BOS, PVD
Programs: UA, US, AS, Marriott, Radisson, Hilton
Posts: 7,200
UA 180 SFO BOS 2230 0656 752 4B Ch9^ Empower^

For the long flight, as I am rapidly becoming an old guy,
and as there's nothing to see, I got an aisle seat and
slept a couple hours. A very jolly and friendly redhead
FA and a very friendly and moderately jolly brunette. My
seatmate was a pretty blonde nonrev (how do you tell? one
asks. The reading matter coupled with the three carryons.)
She put her biggest one up sort of over row 3, which ired
the row 3 people standing behind her, the wife half of whom
shoved the bag up against mine, saying, that's nice [shove],
now we can all [shove] use the bin. Whereupon the husband
half slung their bags up, hitting me in the head with one
of them. If I hadn't had a really great weekend, I might
have done some furious testosteronal FlyerTalky thing like
threaten to pop him one or scream for compensation.

After cooling myself off, it was surprisingly easy to fall
asleep, and I was out as soon as the wheels left the tarmac.

Woke a couple hours later to visit the facilities, and the
pretty redhead FA offered me the fruit plate snack, which I
refused, and the cookie, which I accepted, along with a
Courvoisier (poured as a double), and of which I was offered
a prompt refill (accepted with the proviso it be a single).
Upon finishing which the less pretty but also agreeable
brunette FA offered me another (refused with thanks).
Snoozed the rest of the flight to the dulcet tones of Ch9.

I decided to walk to the Legal C Bar near American security,
and if the regular bartender was there, get a burger and a
drink, and if he wasn't, I'd try Ozone near US Air security
for the same. The regular bartender wasn't there. So Ozone
it was. I ordered a burger rare from the nonnative speaker
of all languages behind the bar. He repeated "burger rare"
- what came was a dry preformed patty, crumbly and not
very good tasting, topped with decent though tough thick-
sliced bacon and a thin thin slice of somewhat moldy Vermont
Cheddar (not asked for). If I hadn't been in a hurry I'd
have sent this back. The side of Parmesan fries wafted a
stench of cheap grana and were Englished by a few leaves of
stale brownish rosemary.

Red Rock Merlot, a $10-a-bottle extravaganza, was by far
the best part of the meal. They charge $10 or so a glass
for it.

When the bill came (I had to ask twice for it), there it
was in black and white - "medium well."

Hey, Todd English, wherever you are, from you I expect good
solid mediocrity, not this abomination stuff.

Back to the Fairfield Inn for a tryst this time. The hotel
contribution was subpar.

Our bed was short sheeted, an annoyance that wasn't noticed
for a while; judicious remaking of the bed by its occupants
helped, and some sleep was had. But at 1 am the fire alarm
went off - and very effective it was, too. Took a quarter
hour to fix and another hour to repair the sleep damage.

The elevator was working only intermittently the next
morning, leading to lots of call bells being pushed.

And I have a 3-night stay booked here for next time I'm in
Boston. It's $20 less than the next cheapest T-accessible
big chain property, a Hampton Inn in Southie.

Breakfast is okay and includes a waffle station and these
cheesy microwave breakfast sandwiches that once were Jimmy
Dean and now are almost Jimmy Dean.

The $5 airport shuttle now costs $5; when the hotel was a
Courtyard, it was free. Rebranding as a Fairfield made them
announce the charge (the prepay rate used to be $79 and
include a shuttle; now it's $74). Early on they didn't
charge the fee; now they do. The driver and I have gotten
to know each other, and we discuss the sorry state of the
performing arts (he used to be involved in Drum Corps) and
the sorry state of the airlines (he used to be a ramper for
AA). Today we picked up a pleasant UA FA, also a regular,
and had a good chat.

From the airport to the club is a quick jaunt on the Silver
and Red Lines. I was here to attend a special concert by
the Borromeo Quartet, featuring Gunther Schuller doing a
dodecaphonic analysis of his 4th (I think) quartet. We met
Gunther at Bin 26, where as my committee chair Lee defected
to another table, I was the least garlanded person present.
My friend Beth, formerly a food correspondent for the Globe
and the late lamented Gourmet magazine, wanted to try the
rabbit loin "saltimbocca" - but chickened out, as it were,
getting instead some kind of bean soup followed by some
altogether-too-healthy greenery.
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Old Mar 21, 10, 9:20 pm
  #15  
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How were you able to route aus-den-sfo-bos and how much was the fare?
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