Thursday, December 30, 2010


We stopped off at Threadgill's in Austin - classic Texas chow. Fun place - decorated with lots of retro neon signs rescued from businesses that had gone out of business.


Everybody enjoyed the hearty eats - I got the Thursday special - the chicken and dumplings.

Threadgills - Chicken'n Dumplin's

My father tried chicken fried steak for the first time - and enjoyed it. For you Yankees, chicken fried steak is breaded and deep-fried steak. Relax - it's not that bad. It's actually pretty good, especially when they serve it with a white gravy.

Fun place - worth stopping at if it's convenient.

Texas Capitol

We visited the Texas Capitol building in Austin today. It was Texas sized and Texas grand!

Texas Capitol

My girls got a kick out of climbing up to the 3 balconies in the rotunda.

Texas Capitol Rotunda

A shot of the state senate chamber:

Texas State Senate Chamber

Even the wrought iron fence was Texas grand:

guess what state's capitol

Beautiful building, glad to have had the chance to see it. What a gorgeous day - it was about 70 degrees on Dec 30. It almost makes up for those God-awful summer days.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

San Antonio Museum of Art

Free Tuesdays at the San Antonio Museum of Art!

Pop checking out the Grecian Urns

We took my father and S to the SAMA last night for free Tuesday - free admission on Tuesday nights from 4-9 every week. That's dad there behind the glass looking at the Grecian urns.

Cupid and Psyche

That is Psyche and Cupid - who knew Cupid was hot for Psyche? I never would have guessed. But apparently they ran together. At least that's how it's told at the San Antonio Museum of Art Roman collection. They had a very nice collection of Roman statuary, Egyptian artifacts, and Grecian pottery in their classical world wing (my name for it).

It's a modest art museum (say by comparison to the Smithsonian, which we were used to back in DC), but very nice, and the docents are friendly and passionate volunteers.

Last time we went, we explored their collection of Central and South American folk art, which I really enjoyed as well.

For free, it's a great way to spend an hour or two. Even the full price admission is quite reasonable. It's a small enough museum that it doesn't intimidate.

K and I were discussing whether it's ok to not be totally excited by every bit of artifact you see in a museum. I think yes. If you aren't a trained art historian or cultural anthropologist, I think it's natural to feel like going to a museum is a bit like work. But I think it's worthwhile work. You have to build your cultural capital - and the more you know, the more these things mean, and the less like work it feels. But the work you do in these places, the cultural capital you build, pays back in so many other parts of your life - often when you don't expect it.

I, for one, got a really big kick out of the display of coins from the ancient world. I will have to go back and get a picture of it for my lecture on money next year.

Siam Cuisine restaurant in Schertz, TX

Amazing Thai food! This burned the living beejeezus out of me. And if you know me, you know I love hot food. They have "mild, hot, and Thai hot". I just asked for the hot. I went through 2 beers and 3 glasses of water, and still had to blow my nose and wipe my forehead.

They don't have a web site, but here's the yelp review:

Monday, December 27, 2010

On the River

It's the holidays and we were blessed to have family with us to celebrate them.

Pop & Sally

That's A & S down on the Riverwalk, with one of the tour boats floating past behind them.

Val & Danesh on the Riverwalk

V & D up on one of the scenic bridges spanning the San Antonio River.

Texas Margarita!

We went to "Rita's on the River" for dinner. yes, that is a "Texas Margarita" A is drinking out of what would otherwise me a small fishpond. We got a nice discount from - $50 off a purchase over $100. (As an aside, is a really good deal - you should definitely check it out.) I'd give Rita's 3 stars for this visit. The food was good, but not great relative to, say, Garcia's. The service was slow, despite the fact that it wasn't all that busy and we came in early (5 PM). I'd say Rita's is a good place to get a beer or margarita, and munch on some chips - but if you want dinner, it's not a place to seek out (but not a place to avoid, either.)

The Alamo

We parked out behind the Alamo in a parking lot owned by the Crockett Hotel, so we had to walk back past the Alamo. I balanced the camera on a fence pole to get this night shot.

Unfortunately, when we got back to the parking lot, this is what we found:

honey, where's the GPS?

"Ah, honey, where's the GPS?" Yeah, we left it in the front window.

The night management of the Crockett showed up. The "loss prevention" guy at first told me he didn't even have a broom to lend us to sweep out the glass. Then the night manager came out and was much more solicitous, which seemed to change the tone of the loss prevention guy. Eventually a broom was produced and they both actually helped us clean up. But certainly no offer of compensation or any offer of off-setting the damage (not even a refund of the $10 parking fee).

But I have to say that the San Antonio police officer who came to write up the statement was really great. He was a young guy in his early 20's (it looked like) who was very sympathetic and even called his wife to get us the number of an auto glass company he had used recently when someone broke into his car (she didn't have the info). It's always a comfort to see that there are genuinely caring people who are drawn to public service like this young man.

So, our adventure on the river was truly an adventure, ended with a 20 mile drive in mid-30 degree weather with a window gone. Can you truly appreciate a taste that is sweet if you do not know what is bitter?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Six Flags Fiesta Texas Holiday Celebration

We surprised the girls with season tickets to Six Flags Fiesta Texas on Wednesday.

Six Flags Christmas

Everything was lit up - and then some!

Six Flags Christmas

Little K and N on the Scrambler - I think this has always been one of my favorite rides at any amusement park.

Six Flags Christmas

Little K fantasizing about eating a lollipop bigger than her...

Six Flags Christmas

S's bud K was down from Virginia visiting her dad and it was great to have them along.

you can take the soldier out of the Army...

Can you pick out the one who has 50 cal training? You know what they say, you can take the soldier out of the Army...

Six Flags Christmas

Everyone was a winner, everyone was a hero.

Good times - looking forward to more visits at Six Flags Fiesta Texas. A very clean, well run park.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Santa Claus is Coming to Town!

Santa Claus is Coming to Town!

Santa is apparently hanging out with the Cibolo Volunteer Fire Department today. Hard to believe he has the free time to come down to Texas this time of year with all the work to be done back at the North Pole.

He came rolling down the streets in our neighborhood this afternoon - handing out candy to the kids. One of the attractions of living in a small town.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

thanksgiving in reflection

thanksgiving in reflection

a return to patates douces dans le style de l'hôtel.

I am so thankful those months are behind us. I am feeling very at home now, especially with my first teaching experience behind me. So I guess for some reason I wanted to make this sweet potato dish again. I added a touch of nutmeg just for some variety. Live and learn. A little nutmeg goes a long way, and it just didn't taste good. Or maybe it was that we weren't using left over packets of honey from the local fried chicken fast food joint.

I'm feeling thankful tonight - for my home, my family, for the friends that drove so far to spend time with us this past holiday, for having a job I really love, for getting to do the things I want to do; for generally being alive and having friends to share it all with. I hope you all feel these blessings this holiday season as well.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

fall in Texas

hay roll

I was out running just outside our subdivision today and enjoyed looking at the remaining ranch land just over the wall.

forgive us our tresspasses

So I told Kandie I had seen a few fences I wanted to go shoot.


Most of what I got was just very vacant - in an uninteresting way. I'm looking forward to our next foggy morning - I'll try these shots again.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

my first professional photography gig

I had my first professional photography gig on Thursday night. It was for Argo Group down at Swig martini bar on the River Walk.

argo group party

I'll post a link to the site when they put up the pictures. Technically they're not mine to share, even though I'm sitting here looking at them.

The party seemed like a huge success, and Argo Group donated $25,000 to a charity called Shelter Box. I'd never heard of Shelter Box, but I think it's a great concept - basically a complete set of rugged camping and survival gear packed in a heavy-duty but light weight plastic box - ready to be deployed anywhere in the world where there is a disaster and people need immediate shelter. The tent is meant to sleep ten - and it is certainly big enough. The Shelter Box people came down and set up the whole kit right outside of Swig (which is below Howl and the Moon and next to Hard Rock Cafe if you are familiar with the River Walk).

Anyway, I had a really good time running around and taking pictures. I didn't ask anyone to pose, but some people asked to have group shots which I did. Otherwise I focused on candids, which is more my style. Plus I was trying to be as unobtrusive as possible - a challenge when you have a big camera and an even bigger flash popping off in an otherwise dark bar.

I'm hopeful I'll get another chance to do an event like this again soon!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Your San Antonio Spurs!

The birthday fun (for Kandie) continued last night when we all rambled down to the AT&T Center to watch the Spurs play the Clippers.

Spurs v. Clippers

We had seats that you had to file a flight plan with the air traffic controller to get up to

Spurs v. Clippers

but even so, we still had a nice view of the whole game.

Spurs v. Clippers

The AT&T Center won't let you bring in cameras with detachable lenses, so I borrowed Nicole's Kodak Easyshare, and I think it did a remarkable job considering the distance and lighting.

Spurs v. Clippers

The gear matters when it comes to photography

Spurs v. Clippers

and I missed a few great movements. But nonetheless, we had a good time. And of course the good guys won, 107-95! It was a close game all the way down to the last two minutes - much of the time the scores were only a few points apart.

Tickets are generally expensive, but I think there are enough promotions that you can get into a game relatively inexpensively if you keep your ears open. We won free tix when we went to the Rampage game a few weeks ago, which is why we could afford to bring the girls.

Magnolia Pancake Haus

I took Kandie to the Magnolia Pancake Haus yesterday for a birthday breakfast.

Magnolia Pancake Haus

I had the jambalaya omelet - it was AWESOME! the eggs were sooo fluffy and light, the sauce was wonderful, and the rice and sausage had just the right amount of spice (yes, rice in an omelet - don't knock it till you try it!).

Magnolia Pancake Haus

Kandie had the mushroom and spinach omelet with Swiss cheese.

Both dishes were served with a side of pancakes. I have to say, these were some of the best pancakes I've ever had. Light and fluffy like the eggs, with a gentle dose of vanilla - phenomenal. The only complaint I have is that they don't use real maple syrup. But for fake syrup, what they served wasn't bad. It was relatively light, not the gooey Mrs. Butterworth's crap you get at IHOP.

The price was reasonable - for two omelets, two sides of pancakes, and coffee, our bill was about $22 before tip. The service was very good, and the atmosphere was bright and cheery.

Two thumbs up to Magnolia Pancake Haus - we'll definitely be going back!

fall in Texas

Fall has finally started arriving here in greater San Antonio.

morning fog photo walk

We've had a number of foggy mornings now that things are starting to cool off, but yesterday was the first time I made it out to get some shots in the 'hood.

morning fog photo walk

These two shots were taken across the street from Nicole's junior high school.

Friday, October 29, 2010



We went to the 50th annual New Braunfels Wurstfest tonight - I guess this guy is a German version of Dionysus!


We scurried in before 7PM so we could get in free on the first night of the fair. We were hungry so we headed right for the marketplatz to see what goodies there were...


More food on a stick than is right to report.


Seriously - on a stick -


Yes, the stick is run through the bun into the brat.

The marketplatz was jammed with people, most of whom seemed to be carrying around pitchers of beer in one hand, and some sort of meat on a stick in the other.


For dessert, corn on the cob... on a stick! See that cup? It was FULL of butter. The corn rolls around in it until it's pulled, dripping for your pleasure.


There were a few rides



but we weren't really in the mood.


It's a cute little festival. We had fun - glad we saw it. Wasn't much for the kids, so we were lucky we just had Little K with us.

There was some oompa playing as we walked around, but the tent with the band was really crowded, so after an hour or so, we made our exit.


New Braunfels is a fun little town, and not hard to get to from Cibolo. We'll be back up there again soon!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

San Antonio Rampage!

We went to the San Antonio Rampage game tonight against the Houston Aeros.

San Antonio Rampage

Sorry for the totally lame cell phone picture, but they wouldn't let me bring my Nikon into the AT&T center. I was close enough that I could have made some great shots.

Here's a little video, also shot with the piece of sh*t cell phone.

But here's the good news: we won 5 tickets to a Spurs game, and better yet, it's on Kandie's birthday! This is great because Kandie is the biggest sports fan in the house.

Rampage tickets are a really good value, especially if you can get down to the box office yourself and buy them direct. Our tickets were $10 each. The seats were high up, but not so high that you felt like you weren't appreciating the game. We paid the $3.75 processing fee to Ticketmaster, which was frustrating since that was almost a 40% service charge. But there really wasn't an alternative given our short decision cycle.

I had a good time, and I'd definitely go again. But I have one gripe - and it's not with the Rampage or the fact that the AT&T center wouldn't let me bring in my camera - it's with the state of American hockey itself. It seems to me that American hockey has institutionalized unsportsmanlike conduct. I'm all for slamming a guy into the wall if he's got the puck or he's in your way as you pursue the puck. But I saw one Aero player shove a Rampage player from behind, knocking him to the ground, when the two of them were not in play for the puck. I find that just sad. And of course there was the obligatory fight. Everyone could see it coming. The two contenders had time to circle each other several times, take off their helmets, toss aside their sticks, and take off their gloves. The other players cleared them space to their little show. The process took about 30 seconds, during which time the refs stood off to the side as well. Then they started wailing away wildly at each other, trying to keep their balance while pulling each other's shirts. After about 15 seconds of actual fighting, the refs finally broke it up.

I like a good fight. I like to fight myself. Fighting is an art and a sport. But I don't like watching men who are fighting because they lack self control. And I dislike being part of a crowd that condones and supports adult males acting in such fashion. I say this behavior has been institutionalized because there was nothing spontaneous about the fight that could have stopped the refs from stopping it.

Come on.

Stupid fighting aside, it was a good time. Rampage tix are a good value, and the AT&T center is a nice venue.

Retama Park Horse Races

Friday Night Races

We went to Retama Park to watch the horse races last night. I'd never been to a horse race before. It was interesting and fun.

rounding the bend

The races started at 6:45 PM, so it was already getting dark by the time they started running - so most of my pictures were hopelessly blurred even at high ISOs.

The Power

A night at the races was remarkably inexpensive. $2 to park, free admission for military ($2 regular). If you wanted to go up to the "Club House" it cost an additional $1. Programs were $1 - we got 2 and shared them between the four of us. The food stands were mostly run by private organizations conducting fund raisers - the VFW, a group of soccer moms, etc. Hot dogs, some Tex-Mex stuff. So don't go there for the food, but it's really cheap.

out of the gate

Betting started at $1. So theoretically, you could have a horse in all 10 races and if you lost everything, your night might have cost you $13.

Thunder Road

The best part for me of course was that I could walk right down to the rails and take pictures as the horses thundered by...

It's not if you win or lose

... and get some post-race shots of the jockeys up close.

After the race

Most of the races were run on dirt - I think it's called "slop" - water trucks wet it down before the races began. The jockeys were covered in it after each race.

after the race

Going with what I said about the Accordion Festival, people say they love live entertainment, but few actually show up. The park was maybe at 20% of capacity. There were free seats everywhere. The price really can't get much cheaper, and there was skill and beauty to be seen, and a cheap way to be an active part of it.

into myth

Granted, these horses and these jockeys are probably not top tier, but they are putting their all out there. That alone is something worth seeing.