Tuesday, June 22

Enjoying Austin

Re-cap of our trip to Austin TX for my half-sister’s wedding. If you come here solely for EMS or academic material you’ll want to stop now as the following is unrelated to either.

We (myself, wife, son[6] and daughter [2]) made it down with little incident ignoring the fact that at 6’2” flying coach is never something I find comfortable.

My half sister is a graduate student at UT Austin and she was the lovely bride. She rolled the dice when she was in high school and had sex with her boyfriend. The dice came up snake eyes. First issue: She got pregnant. Second issue: She found out part way through her pregnancy that her baby had Down’s syndrome. My sister and her baby’s father were smart enough to realize that their getting married would be a mistake. My sister decided to keep her baby and with a LOT of help from my father and his wife (my sister’s mother) my sister went to college and graduated with honors with a degree in chemical engineering while being a mother. You an imagine she had a very different social life (i.e., nonexistent) than your typical college student. In graduate school she met a fellow graduate student and they began dating. To make a long story less long, I don’t spend much time with this part of my family, and had never met the groom-to-be until the wedding. Being a cynical person, I wondered what was wrong with a 20 something guy who would tie himself down with a wife and a Down’s syndrome child. If I had given humanity a little more credit I would have realized there are decent people out there who can look beyond complications to see a whole package for what it is. This guy is a keeper.

The wedding was a blast and we made the wise decision to have a babysitter cover our kids while we played. While my wife and I are likely too old to dance to songs like The Quad City DJs’ “C'mon 'n Ride It (the Train)”, we did anyway, and I don’t care if I looked like a fool (which I am sure I did).

I noticed a few things while I was in Austin:

• I should learn how to two-step. Seems like most southern guys know how and it looks FUN.

• Hot tubs should not be surrounded by floor-to-ceiling mirrors. My son and I were in the hotel hot tub and when we got out I saw a fat old man drying off a six-year-old who looked a lot like my son. When I realized the fat old man was me I instantly dove into a deep depression that will only be fixed by more responsible eating and my getting back on my bike.

• OK, OK – So the above should make this statement embarrassing… If you are ever in Austin go to the “Hula Hut” (I know, it sounds bad, but trust me) and drink a “Texas Martini” followed by the shrimp enchilada. Heaven I tell you.

• Urban bats are cool. Austin is home of the largest urban bat colony (Mexican Free-Tails) in the world. We went to watch them go out for the night to feed and it was incredible. 1.5 million bats living in a city and all heading out for the evening in a 30 minute time period. Wonderful experience and my son really enjoyed it as he has been studying bats in kindergarten this year.

• Gentlemen. The males in the Austin area were just nicer, in an outgoing and public way, than males in the northeast. Holding doors, looking you in the eye and saying hello, etc. I want to stress that this is not just toward women as I experienced it in a noticeable way. I think people in the northeast are just more reserved until they get to know you, but it really does feel less friendly up here than it does in the south.

• Strange hair gene? A disproportionate percentage of the Caucasian women I saw were blond. Many with dark eye color. Many with dark roots. Freaks of nature?

• Strange body-type gene? How to state this delicately? Just how many women are small boned and thin with one part of their anatomy being large, defying gravity and very spherical? Are there statistics on the number of people getting plastic surgery as a function of geographic area? Not just the proportion who get the surgery, but the choices they make on the, ahem, “extent of enhancement”? My brother and I both noticed this, and I dare say we did not start out seeking data on this topic, but it soon became difficult to ignore. My wife claims she didn’t notice. What was SHE looking at?

• We get snow, but do they ever get heat and humidity. It was beastly hot there and I can’t imagine what July and August must be like. How do people work outside in that? You can always put cloths on when it is cold out...

While it is good to be home, I had a blast. If you get a chance to go to Austin, jump on it!