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Sunday, March 10, 2013


The plastic bag ban is now in full force, in Austin.  Stores are no longer allowed to 'provide' them free of charge.   Fortunately, with all the events that I have attended, my supply of shopping holdalls is quite significant.  However, nothing lasts forever, (which perhaps will be the case with the plastic bag ban,) and I have been conscious that my ''bag for life' may not actually outlive me!  The up and coming South By South West Festival would be sure to provide us with opportunities to procure more shopping bags.  If, per chance, the bags happened to be filled with other 'goodies', I would not object.

Our City is, once again, the center of attention.  The biggest music festival in the world is going to happen, whether we are ready or not, and it is anticipated to be bigger (and some would say better) than ever.  We were given our passes to get through the road blocks, which were due to go up on Friday, at the start of the Festival.  This meant that the streets would be closed for ten days, instead of five, as in previous years.  We anticipated a high stress factor among the motorists who office at the wrong end of Sixth Street.

Although we saw some activity during the week, by Thursday the traffic had become slightly heavier, and by Friday, the ale trucks made up the majority of the vehicles allowed to drive along the thoroughfare.  Samantha had been sent an invitation to attend a 'free lunch' party, and was able to bring friends.  The event was at the end of our road.  She and Kyle, (one of our guys) had gone to investigate, and reported back that there would be a slight delay, as the 'hosts' had been held up in the traffic, due to the road blocks.  However, by one fifteen, all was cooked, and she called for me and Kelly to join them.  Our first gratis item of the festival, and it was a very tasty veggie burger.  We also received a free gift for attending the free lunch; a small contraption that sticks to a mobile phone, which apparently is multi talented.  The attendants were very friendly, and allowed us to take a burger back to 'the boss', which he enjoyed very much.

We had been reasonably busy, after lunch, but there were a few questions about some papers we had received, and I was in a holding pattern.  I decided to go for a walk.  Samantha insisted that I should not be alone, and Dana suggested that Kelly join us.  Kelly declined.  We walked up Sixth Street, along Congress Avenue, and found a tent on the corner of Seventh.  Samantha showed the girl on the door her ID, but I had only brought my phone. She was unable to let me in.  I thanked her for the compliment, but assured her that I was over 21.  She smiled.  Samantha tried to explain that I was, in fact, her mother, but she simply smiled again.  I waited outside and was approached by a supervisor, who asked me for my date of birth.  When I told him the year, he started, 'That makes you.....'.  'Fifty three, next birthday; yes!'  I, once again, thanked him for the compliment, as he put the entry band around my wrist.  I did not think for one moment that he thought I was under 21, but it was rather nice not to be let in for being 'under age'. 

The company that were hosting the event, Conduit, had a colourful 'U' as their slogan, and were offering T-shirts, with a personal choice of slogan, providing, of course, that one word contained the letter 'U'.  Dana had, earlier in the week, booked Samantha and I on a three day vacation to Four Corners, flying into New Mexico, and driving around the four states, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah.  We decided that our T-shirts should read, 'We're going to Utah'.  Before the item went to print, we noticed the programmer's spelling mistake, and corrected the 'Utha'.  It was not until after they had been processed that we spotted the other deliberate mistake.  'We've going to Utah', was sprawled across the white piece of clothing. 

Leaving the office on Friday night, was not too traumatic.  Samantha returned later with Edward, and they did not have a problem getting to our car park.  It appeared that everyone who needed to enter the area, were given the same passes, the difference being the 'place' where you had to go.  We had the same access as the postmen, police and express delivery guys.  Yes!  The postmen, (who drive special vans) and the police (who are in no way conspicuous!) all need passes.  We were waved through again, on Saturday, with no problem.  Things were looking up! 

Our first stop on Saturday was lunch!  As we approached the food stand, we picked up our first reusable bag.  'Austin has a plastic bag ban' was not news to us.  We gladly received the canvas carrier, before claiming our food.  The lady who had been grilling the previous day recognised us, and called to me, 'Just put your veggie burger on the grill!'  How kind!  

Unfortunately, the weather was not as kind as the fast food server, and the rain began to pour.  We ran back to the car to retrieve an umbrella, and waded our way down to our next stop, where we were given a lesson in laser printing, as well as 3-D printing.  Who said you can't teach an old dog new tricks.  (We are teachable; sometimes it is too much for us to take in all at once!)  I managed to create an image, from a stick man, and then make him into a three dimensional being.  Unfortunately, he was not 'cool' enough to go to the printer, but I did get a photograph, and a model of someone else's design.  It was still very exciting to receive something that is on the cutting edge.   Once we (or I) had taken in as much as my brain would allow for one day, we left the area, and went in search of the plastic poncho's which replaced the small, ailing umbrella. 

I didn't think it was worth going to the 'recruitment' centre, as I was not looking for a job (despite my previous posts!) but it was an opportunity to get out of the rain, and they did have cake!  After accepting the offer of three pens, a t-shirt and a couple of post it note pads, we saw the 'bags'.  'Austin has banned plastic bags', we were told.  Each table had a different colour, logo and size.  One was insulated (I took two!).  The tomato and mozzarella kebabs were pretty good too! (I took two!) 

We returned to the t-shirt tent and had them remade, before heading for the Games Expo!  It was a long walk across the river to the Parmer Events Center.  As we arrived, Edward called Samantha to say he was just passing, and could she go with him to drop off a phone charging unit.  I decided to stay and see what 'was up!'  I am usually quite fascinated by all the new technology, and quite enjoy the new 'board game' area.  The  main hall was mostly in darkness.  I could hear the crowds, but couldn't see them.  There were flashing lights, and a lot of noise.  It was definitely NOT my scene.  I did not enter one competition, as I did not have my night vision goggles with me, and walked around the edges to find the way out. The board game area would have to be scanned at another time!  I left the building and started the long walk back.  I called Dana to say that I would be coming home as soon as I reached the car, and he offered to come downtown to give me a ride to the office to retrieve the vehicle.  I pointed out that he did not have a pass (as he had loaned it to Edward - the powers that be had given us two few passes, and told us we would have to share!) and would therefore be unable to reach me! 

As I reached Sixth Street, I was ready to leave Austin for the foreseeable future.  However, with a few whiffs of something sweet and probably contraband, I didn't care anymore.  Normally it takes all week for the passive smoking to affect me, but as I said, the fun was starting much earlier this year.  The rain had stopped, and the sun was shining.  I stood by the car, and rummaged for the keys, which of course were at the bottom of the last bag searched.

I arrived home to find Samantha waiting for her car.  She and Edward had made their deposit and he had gone home and was waiting for her.  They had been invited to a VIP party downtown, and were hoping they would not have a problem re-entering the area.  She informed me, later, that although the security was tight, they respected the power of the pass!  This also meant that our car park had not been infiltrated with rogue vehicles, as is the case on many an occasion. 

Sunday was 'English' Mother's Day, and downtown for lunch was not an option.  Despite my craving (still) for the world's best corned beef hash, I was not going to insist that we test the patience of the barrier police just so I could fulfill a whim.  The dog had stayed for a 'sleep over', and I had suggested that Samantha may want to meet us for lunch before collecting him.  I didn't think she had forgotten 'the day', but was not sure that she had arranged anything fancy.  Dana had not made his usual comments that gave the 'game' away, so I was very surprised to see not only my daughter, but Edward too, with a beautiful vase of flowers, at the restaurant.  I also received the news that her cousin, my favourite ex-nephew, had got engaged.  As there was an excuse to celebrate for at least two reasons, I accepted the complimentary glass of champagne with my lunch. 

We still have a week of madness and mayhem ahead of us, and the amount of vehicles displaying the coveted passes will increase, we can only hope that the barrier guards will remain as pleasant and patient as they were this weekend.  My hope is there, my anticipation is not!  I have decided not to 'collect' anything that is useless and unnecessary, but I have a feeling I will not be able to resist.  After all, I now have plenty of bags to fill!  Life during South by Southwest is certainly entertaining, as well as frustrating, but it will make for ................another story.

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