Deep in the heart of Texas

A picture of the South Congress Cafe in Austin, Tx.

Image courtesy of Shu Tu, licensed under CC 2.0 BY SA.

As happens every few years or so, I spent this past weekend in Austin, Texas. (Austin is, of course, the only part of Texas that anyone in my family will admit to going to. We spit at Houston.)

Rather than being down there to hone my South by South Best* skills, I was in town courtesy of my cousin, who–kindly–agreed to be bat mitzvahed*, so that I might eat many breakfast tacos and migas.

She, like her brother a few years ago, interpreted a portion of Leviticus in a way that made my heart swell. Leviticus, for those who are unaware, is mostly full of rules that most folks in the family flavor of Judaism don’t really follow, as mixed fibers are great and smiting is not so much. It takes some skill to really consider what that means for a modern reform Jew, and of course my cousin was great and at the end we got to pelt her with marshmallows. (Ritual pelting = my favorite quality in a faith.)

So that was great.

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Adventures with StoryCorps

Over the weekend, I had the good fortune to participate in the StoryCorps project as an interviewee. For those whose parents didn’t make them listen to NPR as children, StoryCorps in an oral history project in which two people who know each other take 40 minutes to have a conversation–anything beyond that is up to them, though there are initiatives to capture specific stories (folk life, or experiences of major historical events). The most interesting stories are edited into NPR segments, and all of them are archived at the Library of Congress.

Walking in, my friend and I were greeted by an NPR employee who was certainly appeared to be cut from the same cloth as us. She went to my high school, has an MPH, and spent time in a different African country for study abroad. It was one of those small world moments that Atlanta is very good at providing.

Once the project had been explained, we were led to the recording studio (think black foam walls and very large microphones) and let to talk. The conversation–which we had originally planned to be about my trip to SXSW back when I worked for HackCollege. Because, let’s face it–sharing a hotel room with internet strangers for a nerdy weekend in Texas is Not a Typical Experience. (As my friend helpfully reminded me during the interview, she was somewhat concerned I was going to be murdered while I was there.)

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Lying to Bouncers, Dancing with Nerds: SB ’11

So much plaid, everywhere.

SXSW 2011 / Shashi Bellamkonda / CC BY 2.0

After my weird little half-week and a weekend back from Spring Break, I am fully readjusted to not living out of a suitcase (yay!). I am not the sort of person who does well with traveling–somehow my clothes always wind up smelling weird and I wear the same outfit six time even though I overpacked. It’s not attractive.

I spent the break, along with two additional being-a-truant days, in Austin with Kelly, Shep, and Laura from HackCollege exploring the unconference aspects (ie, networking and parties) of South by Southwest Interactive. I was glad the trip wound up happening in part because it gave me an excuse to see some relatives I have not seen in several years, and because it involved tacos*, which are one of those foods that are delicious and that Georgians just don’t do.**

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