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Sunday, March 13, 2016


There is nothing quite like a Texan during the spring, when the blue bonnets start to bloom.  Just like the English reporting the sound of the first cuckoo, there is extreme excitement when the national flower is first spotted along the side of the road.  

Along with blue bonnet season, comes spring break and the famous music (etc) festival, South by Southwest.  Yes, it is that time of year again.  Just like the blue bonnets, 'South by' is a blast of colour for a short period of time.  

Samantha and I encountered a lady on our lunchtime walk, who put into words, perfectly, how to describe many things in our beautifully city.  "Ladies", she said, with such enthusiasm, I wrongly assumed that she was a salesperson, "I have just seen my first blue bonnet of the year. I thought, would you look at that, hot diggity darn!"  I tried, in response, to sound as enthusiastic as her, but failed miserably.  However, I can say with great enthusiasm that my first taste of the music festival this year was worthy, in every way, of the saying, 'hot diggety darn'.

After an exceptionally busy week, we left the office on Friday night, and I was looking forward to a relaxing evening, before the storm that was going to be Saturday.  I had received my 'official invite' to the 'drop-in', at a bar on 6th Street, and replied affirmatively, adding my two guests to the list.  Dana came home from the office, early, on Saturday, and Samantha and Edward arrived at my house, dog in tow, ready for the big adventure.  The dog was in a hot diggity mood, until he realised that he was not going to be part of the outing!

The traffic into town was not particularly heavy, and we arrived at the Conference Center on time, according to my plan!  Signing up for the first 'pass', allowing us an opportunity to win enormous prizes, was the initial port of call.  We did not win one of the spectacular gifts that were on offer, but having obtained the gold card attached to the linen necklace, the hard part was over, and we could just be 'scanned' each day, when attempting to win, again!  

After I had organised the troops, and attempted to force upon them a 'game plan', it befell upon me to go an ask a 'volunteer' as to where we could find the 'Job Market' area.  The (very) young (they all seem to be very young) man looked at me quizzically.  I repeated my question, as he either did not hear me, did not understand me, or wasn't listening to me.  (The latter was probably the most likely.)  "The job market is where people go to look for a job.  It's for people who want a job", he said as if he was talking to a nonagenarian!  At last, I found a use for my new found saying, "hot diggity darn!"  I threw down my metaphorical walker, and tore off the Dickensian robes to reveal the young 'inner' me! I was tempted to be completely southern and start my sentence with the word "Sir", but there was no way this fresh faced youth was approaching that arena!  "I know what it is", I started, trying so hard not to sound as condescending as he had toward me, but failing, "I wish to know where it is",  Looking at his equally young counterpart, who had terror written across his face, he turned back to me, opened the folder he had in his hands, and found a map.  He pointed to the exhibition hall where the event was located, and proceeded to give me directions.  

The young people at the door were happy to scan my pass and allow me access to the 'fair'.  I suppose, in reality, my reasons for attending such events are mainly two fold.  Firstly, I am genuinely interested in the latest technology, and what fields I would possibly still be 'employable' within, and secondly to gather up the latest devices that the companies insist on giving away! I was welcomed most enthusiastically at the first stand I visited, and the explanations as to the type of person, and the qualifications needed to be employed were very thorough.  In turn, I explained my current job situation, and also added that I was in the company of my daughter and son-in-law, the latter being the one whom is the one most likely to most likely to benefit from the event.  "Grab some swag", was the offer I could not refuse.  I had not misrepresented myself, nor given any false impression that I was actually looking to relocate, or indeed change my current state of employment.  However, the morning was young, and the materials on offer were gadgets that I could on a daily basis.  Mobile phone chargers, bottle openers, lip balm and of course a pack of playing cards.  Each item could be a life saver in one situation or another, I am sure!  

The second stand was an insurance company that is very well known within these parts.  "If you enter into the draw, by giving us your email address.....", was all I needed to hear.  As I receive unsolicited emails from various companies wanting me to purchase their medication to enhance my performance in areas that should not be made public, I did not think it unwise to give out my electronic address to a company that I somewhat trust.  In return for this information, I could choose an item from the shelf.  I looked and wondered what to pick.  "Anything you like.  One of each...." was the second reason to say "hot diggity darn!  Yes sir!"  The use of the word 'sir' in this instance was rather more fitting, as the young man appeared to have at least graduated from high school, if not college!  "I will have one of those, one of those, oh and one of those".  The offer, "What about....", was replied to with "Yes, everything!"  I was unsure as to what most of the appliances would be used for, but perhaps one day, someone will say to me, "Do you have....", and I will be able to say, "of course!"  

I have never felt the need to purchase, or indeed own, a 'selfie' stick, but the lady at another insurance stand had a different idea.  I told her that I was not actually in the market for a job within the specifications she had mentioned, but my husband and I were actually insured with the company she was promoting.  "Have one of these", she said, and thrust the object into my hand.  Apparently, it was one of the 'better' versions, according to the experts who were accompanying me for the day, and have more knowledge on these items than I either have, or think necessary to have!  

My accent was all that was necessary for an invitation to 'grab the swag' at a lot of stands.  A lot of girls approached me as I stood and looked forlorn, as I had once again lost Samantha and Edward, and asked, sympathetically, if I was looking for employment.  "Help yourself", was followed by them taking a bag (which is probably the most useful item, as Austin is now 'plastic bag' free, and we have to supply our own holdalls) and filling it with a variety of stash that is piled up on the tables around their stands.  

Eventually, we found the booth that was supplying coffee!  The lady at the 'Open Table' stand, explained the concept behind their idea, as I drank coffee from a china mug, which was to be retained by me when I had finished my beverage!  Apparently, the founder of the company (and I apologise if this is not word perfect) was listening to his wife one evening, as she was attempting to book a restaurant for a crowd of people.  One restaurant could accommodate them on one day but not at the time she requested. Another restaurant could accommodate them at the time, but not for the number of people she was hoping to feed, etc, etc.  By the time she had finished organising the event, checking back with her friends as to their availability, he had founded the idea!  An 'app' that finds a restaurant that will accommodate all, on the date, and the time required!  It will then make the reservation for you! Amazing! The booker is not charged, but the restaurant pays a small fee, apparently! Samantha said, jokingly, that this would probably be a good idea for us when we are on our 'mother-daughter' weekends, and she wondered in which cities this was available, as our trip over Easter this year is to San Francisco.  I approached the young lady again and asked where these 'apps' were applicable.  "At the moment", she said, "In Austin....and San Francisco".  Well, if ever there was occasion to say, "hot diggity darn", now was it!

After collecting my annual pen and notepad supply, together with several packets of headphones, plugs for phone cables, mints, candy sticks, and other pieces of equipment that are about as useful as the bit on the Swiss army knife that enables a townie with a phobia of anything equine, to take stones out of horses hooves, we went on our way.  

I did note one very interesting aspect.  As I get older, I notice the difference in attitude of the younger generation.  Women of all ages were very polite, willing to chat and explain aspects of their company, and engage me in conversation regardless of the relevance.  Young men, including those who are of college age, and into their mid twenties (generally) are most polite, and very courteous.  Those who are into their thirties and forties are very rude!  I encountered a few.  One such person, who was standing in front of a large display, set up by a certain DIY store, which has the words, 'Depot' and 'Home' in their title, was most obnoxious. Obviously, I was not looking for a job (although he did not ask) and I was not eligible to partake of any of the items they had on their stands that were being given away to all and sundry.  My son-in-law, on the other hand, was invited to take 'whatever', despite the fact that he was not looking for a job in the area they were advertising.  Two of his colleagues, a woman of about the same age, and a younger man, invited me into their stand, and when I told them that I was accompanying the younger couple whom were engaged in conversation with their rude counterpart, (although I did not add the latter,) they suggested I help myself to anything I wanted!  I was, after all, a loyal customer. He was not the only one of his age to dismiss me. Another man of approximately the same age, ignored my presence as I approached his stand. Although not interested in a job, I was interested in his company, as it could offer me a service which I required.  However, I shall now look further afield.

Lunch was served on the rooftop of Maggie Mae's and enjoyed by many, including the three that had left the Job Market with bags and bags of fun stuff!  As Samantha and I went through our wares, Edward looked on, wondering why he had not gained as much swag.  We reminded him that he was not as diligent in his search, and did not have as forceful a personality as did his mother-in-law, nor the accent!  "Why do they give her so much stuff?", he asked, almost pouting, and Samantha responded as kindly as she could!

Wandering up and down 6th Street brought back memories, and although we did not long for times past, we did miss the days when we could dump our collectibles at the office, and continue on our way with free arms!  The bags were heavy and getting heavier.  On every corner there appeared someone who was handing out something, and it would be rude not to take.  T-shirts, bags, (well known) snack bars, and opportunities 'not to be missed'.  We were invited to screenings of television shows, films and special events. It was typical 'first weekend' madness, and everyone was invited to almost everything, with or without an official badge.  We visited a 'smart-house' mobile home, which fascinated Edward, and terrified me. (Technology is fascinating, but I am concerned about how much it is relied upon, and what it can do!)  By 'clicking' this on my phone, I can get 'this' to turn on, and by means of proving a point, we were given a demonstration, where a machine was activated and a boxed donut was delivered into our hands!  

After being invited into another 'big name' promotional tent, and receiving hot dogs, more donuts, slushies and coffee, we walked along to the next intersection where the promotion of the hybrid Toyota Prius allowed us to ride in a comfortable chauffeur driven car to another destination, to which it would have been quicker to walk.  However, the people promoting the option appeared to be desperate for us to take them up on the offer, and we obliged.  We arrived at the scene of the 'upside-down' church, which promoted the new television series, The Preacher, and were told that we could receive a 'phone charger', if we tweeted a picture of ourselves with the temple, or the sign advertising said show.  Samantha and Edward completed the task before I had a chance to unlock my phone!  The young man (probably early twenties) asked if I had 'done it', and I replied that I was waiting for my 'technical adviser' to finish, so that she could do it for me.  I am not totally ignorant of how, it is because I generally don't, on my phone.  Looking at me quizzically, at first, the penny dropped, and he laughed quite loudly.  "I can do that for you", he said, and proceeded to 'post' the picture, then hand me my prize.  "Hot diggity darn", that was kind of him!  Perhaps he could give a lesson to the man at the Depot place!  

Eventually, we decided enough was enough, and called Dana to come and get us!  He estimated the trip would take about fifteen minutes, and after I said it was useless him telling me to stand on the south-east corner of anywhere, because I am geographically challenged and compass directions are like speaking to me in an alien language, we settled on a 'place', where he could park the car and we could pile in.  After I had finished my call, I remembered that one of the items I obtained from the job market was a clip with a compass attached.  I knew there would be a use for everything, eventually!  We walked along to the designated site, and were stopped by another couple of girls who asked if we would like a drawstring bag with a sticky-backed wallet that would hold our credit cards.  Why not?  They explained what their 'app' did, and handed Samantha and me a bag.  All of a sudden, on of them shouted that they had to go, and they ran across the road to meet someone, or see something that was obviously vital!  Edward stood, hand out, ready to receive, and pouted again. "I didn't get my bag", he said, miserably.  I offered him mine, as I had been the receiver of such a bag last year, and it was in fact the bag of choice for the day as it is larger than most draw stringed bags!  He declined.

We got home safely, and I unloaded my swag for my husband to peruse, and pick out whatever 'prize' he wanted.  He took the donut!  
Sunday morning was much slower, and quieter.  We went out for breakfast and were greeted by a member of staff, who is by his own admission, still 'at school'.  'School' means anything from 
elementary to college, so I assumed he meant the latter!  He asked if we were having a good weekend, and wondered if we had been to any of the SXSW events.  When I told him that I had, he was somewhat surprised.  I then gave him some advise on how to obtain a 'guest pass' for the free events, and he was even more surprised. He almost fell over when I handed him the 'spare' pass that had been given to me on Saturday!  If I were him, I would have quoted, 'hot diggity darn!' The 'older' woman; the older English woman, was more in tune with the 'how' than the younger college student!  I am so not out of my prime!

Samantha and I plan to visit downtown during the week, and we will probably take in the 'last day' next weekend.  It is more for the experience than for the gain, although we never come home empty handed.  As I am a contest junkie, the 'prizes' that we gain are an extension to that commitment and I am happy to share my wares with all.  As the young(er) guy in our office says, it is not a case of "Do you have?", it is more, "Can you find among your stash".  

I look forward to being able to use my new found "Hot diggity darn" phrase during the week, and perhaps will be able to find some more wonderful terms, during the coming week of madness and mayhem.  Perhaps something to look forward to, in .............. another story!

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