Sunday, March 23, 2014

Around Austin

The Wheatsville Co-op recently opened a second location closer to us on the south side of Austin, but the main store is still convenient sometimes.  

While they were making the sandwiches, I met Staci, a product rep from Hops & Grain, a local brewery.  Texas has a lot of Germans. In fact, some argue for Texas German being recognized as a dialect. (See Wikipedia, here.)  You never actually hear it on the streets; but we do have towns named New Braunfels, Fredericksburg, and Weimar, and some others. So, they brew a lot of beer, or try to.  Coming from the Great Lakes, I am just not impressed.  Eliot Ness came from Cleveland and there’s a reason why the Prohibition wars were fought in Chicago, not Dallas.  Schlitz claimed to make Milwaukee, not Houston, famous.  Texas beer lacks a dimension; and I do not know what that is; but I know that it is missing. This is a southern state. Until the revolutions of the 1960s, you could not buy beer on Sunday.  Now, you can, but not before noon.  Beers could not advertise their alcohol content. Recently, that changed, but many still keep the old labels.  For all of that, Hops & Grain of Austin has some good brews.  Staci was a good marketer.  I bought a six-pack of Alt-eration. (See also my nod to Pedernales Brewing under "Awesome Austin Foods" linked below.)

Outside at a table, eating my sandwich, and reading a book, I saw this girl come up and ask the other really old guy what those birds are.  “Grackles,” he replied. He told her way more about them than anyone needs to know. If you ask me, they are worse than pigeons, just noisy rats in feathers.  But she was interested in the natural history of grackles.  It was a moment at the co-op.

The next day, on my way to run errands, I crossed a pair of street-level railroad tracks. There, I saw a camera on a tripod. I had seen it before, but this time, I stopped.  The train cleared the crossing, and I pulled ahead and pulled over.  Right after I got out of the car, the gates came down again.  I introduced myself and Stuart told me that this train had been waiting for 45 minutes.  
He has a YouTube channel, “myrailvideos”. (See here.)  I was wearing a Taggart Transcontinental t-shirt.  He probably did not get the reference, but a train is a train; and we chatted while he recorded the rolling stock.  About 15 minutes later, I caught up with it on the Mopac.  The signs on the highway all say “Loop 1”, but everyone local calls it the Mopac.  Even so, many do not know of the Missouri-Pacific Railroad, which merged with the Union Pacific in 1980.  (Government regulations and lawsuits delayed the completion of the merger until 1997.)   Wikipedia here but also Missouri Pacific Historical Society here


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