Frank – A Hot Dog Review

Frank

At Frank, it’s hot-dog gimmicks and bacon galore, but they’re good eating at not too high of a cost. We have a weird mixture of “hand crafted”/local food and a love of fast-food here in Austin resulting in gourmet food from trailers, burger battles, and now hot-dogs. The “Artisan” hot-dogs are fun and tasty – I like the antelope and rabbit one, the Jackalope. Also, the regular hot-dogs, optionally wrapped in a flapjack (a corn pancake), are delicious as well.

The prices are reasonable, but add up fast, esp. for the sides – $4 for the healthy side option, a broccoli salad is silly. The hot-dogs are appropriatly priced at around $4 depending on the extras you get.

In addition to the usual, short menu, they have a massive list of “daily specials,” so keep your eyes out for that.

Last time I went, I had the bacon infused bourbon and the poutine waffle fries. I’d gone on opening week and they were out of the bacon bourbon, so the bar-tender whipped some up on the spot. This last time, there was no A-Teaming at the bar, and I ordered it neat to try it out. There’s certainly a bacon taste in there, and, sure, it’s worth trying once in your like for $7.50. But, after a few sips your mouth is coated with bacon fat and you’re trying to guzzle down the rest. I wouldn’t say bacon makes the Maker’s better.

Waffle Fry Poutine

The poutine was delicious. I’ve never had proper poutine, so maybe it was a pale imitation, but it hit the spot for me. Poutine is a Canadian drunk-food that’s fries covered in brown gravy with cheese curds on-top. It’s exactly what it sounds like, so if you like that kind of stuff, get on down to Frank, order a Maker’s sans-bacon (or a Modelo) along with poutine and hot dog, and you’ll be riding high on the hog.

Book Review: Adrenaline Junkies and Template Zombies

Adrenaline Junkies and Template Zombies: Understanding Patterns of Project Behavior Adrenaline Junkies and Template Zombies: Understanding Patterns of Project Behavior by Suzanne Robertson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
As with most pattern books, this is one you flip through in an hour and then save it to refer back to. The strength of software management and development pattern books is describing problems that commonly occur, not really telling you how to fix them. Thus, hey tend to be frustrating because you’re left thinking, “how am I going to get this to work in my organization?” There is a certain level of detail in some of these patterns that’s refreshing, but most are just brief outlines of a software management or team-work problem.Still, they’re extremely helpful things to keep in mind which you may be forgetting (“The Empty Chair”) or no longer think applies to you (“Young Pups Old Dogs”), helpful advice if you must do it (“Offshore Follies”), to some that can be reduced to a clever quip, as in “War Room” where DeMarco says, “I’m beginning to think that a project not worth a war room may be a project not worth doing.”There’s solid advice in here, but the 0th pattern is “Be humble: never assume you have this shit figured out.” After that, many of them are extremely good advice.

View all my reviews >>

Book Review: It Can’t Happen Here

It Can't Happen Here

It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I gave up reading this one because it never seemed to get to a plot. And, you know, it was like a “bad things can happen” book that got a bit repetitive and (given how cynical we all are now-a-days, without even thinking about it) unoriginal. I feel like a schmuck for not reading a book written by a Nobel Prize winner, but those episodes of Mad Men aren’t going to watch themselves.

DrunkAndRetired.com #153 – Episode 153 – Belayed Thailand, Browser PTSD

IMG_4248

To listen to the episode, subscribe to the podcast feed in iTunes or whatever, download the episode directly, or click play below to listen right here:

While we actually have a DrunkAndRetired.com episode for this week (which I’ll post at the end of the week), I wanted to point out the last one you might have missed. I posted it right before vacation, but just put it in the feed instead of posting it here as well. Click the play above, or just download it. Enjoy!

Episode 148 – “Have you tried it hot?”

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To listen to the episode, subscribe to the podcast feed in iTunes or whatever, download the episode directly, or click play below to listen right here:

  • Netflix On-Demand, or more “traditional” video On-Demand delivered to XBox.
  • “Have you tried it hot?”
  • Art by polls – painting and music.
  • Charles gets his hard-drive “fixed.”
  • Going back to paper and pen for notes – maybe Netbooks can save us.
  • What’s up with these clogged toilets?

Episode 147 – Using Technology for Evil

Recording DrunkAndRetired.com #147

To listen to the episode, subscribe to the podcast feed in iTunes or whatever, download the episode directly, or click play below to listen right here:

Among other things in this episode, we revisit my obsession with Evernote (see also my public notebook), talk about the Griffin Clarifi (highly recommended!), and discuss all the ways you can use del.icio.us. Also, we talk about Charles’ talk on JavaScript at the Detroit Java User’s Group.

Enjoy!

Episode 146 – All these goats are retarded

Maker's Mark Barrel

To listen to the episode, subscribe to the podcast feed in iTunes or whatever, download the episode directly, or click play below to listen right here:

This week, Charles and I catch up with this second episode. Our lateness is your benefit, dear listeners.

To that end, here’s a select list of some of the things we discuss:

  • Charles was deadly ill.
  • The half-hipster carabiner key-chain arrangement.
  • The Pomegranate phone.
  • Valentine’s Day Gifts – the ladies have it tough here (mine were awesome!).
  • Country Clubs seem like they’d be nice, if expensive.
  • Charles on designer/developer workflow – applying changes ain’t that hard if the developer defines the deliverables.
  • Sprites in HTML.
  • Maybe the designer/developer workflow will never be de-coupled, really.
  • Charles’ upcoming talk at the Detroit Java User’s Group: it’ll be February 18, 2009 6:30PM to 8:30PM at ePrize headquarters in Pleasant Ridge.

Enjoy!

The Shoe Dilemma

Loafers

What kind of shoes should you wear when you’re traveling? Most frequent travels like slip-on shoes, sandals, or something else that’s easy to put on and take off. I’ve begun to question that theory, though I still operate under it.

The Defining Moment of Frequent Travel

There’s one, small moment in every trip that defines what you can take with you: the security gate. As mentioned in reference to the 3 oz liquid limit here, there’s something absurd about the whole security gate deal at the airport. Of course, one never really knows how well something is working; it’s much easier to know how well it’s breaking. But, let’s set aside the usual TSA griping for people who do it better. As ever, our job here is to simply help make frequent travel easier, not boil the oceans.

Ever since that guy tried to blow up a plane with his shoe, in the States we’ve had to remove our shoes when going through the security gate. You have to X-ray them, you see.

Slipping Off

Now, your goal at the security gate is to get through as fast as possible. Not only because you don’t want to spend time there, but because the longer you take the longer everyone else behind you has to wait. Being courteous is the rule for me when it comes to travel: most everyone else is either clueless or being a dick at airports, which aren’t two roles I relish playing.

To speed up your security gating then, you’ll probably want shoes without laces. “Slip-on shoes.” This way, you can quickly take them off and quickly put them on. Also, this minimizes the amount of time you have to walk around in socks, which is sort of the ultimate symbol of what we’ve let ourselves become at the airport, not to mention “dirty” for people who worry about that kind of thing.

I’ve had two pairs of these slip-on shoes: a casual-fancy pair of Doc Martin’s and a dark brown pair of Steve Madden shoes. It’s easy to find good looking slip on shoes that you can wear through the rest of your trip. They’re actually good for at-home use too: they’re so quick to put on and take off! (Who has time for laces?!)

Shoeless Luxury

Additionally, there are some who enjoy taking their shoes off on the plane. Indeed, if you sit in business class on American Airlines (and above, I guess), they give you a little bag to put your shoes in and a pair of socks to wear.

Personally, I’m a little wary of people taking off their shoes. I’m at the top of that list. I can see how it’d be great, but one often can’t smell their own stink, so how am I to do if my unsheathed feet are stinking up the aisle? Nonetheless, taking off your shoes on the plane is a sort of easy luxury for many, and I don’t hold it against them.

Can you Run in Slip-ons?

Of course, if you’re going to be going to the gym while you’re travel (a recent practice of mine that I highly recommend), you’ll need another pair of shoes, some sneakers. Packing sneakers in a carry-on bag is a bit tough, though certainly possible. And you might also be tempted to wear your lace-up sneakers while traveling and put the slimmer, slip-on shoes in your bag.

Of course, it’s easy enough to setup your lace-on shoe to be a slip-on one: you just keep the laces loose enough. This works well with Converse and skate-shoes, maybe not so much “real” tennis shoes.

My fashion consultant wears a uniform and latex gloves!

All of these considerations aside, I’ve been thinking of late: I don’t want to drive my shoe choice by the dictates of the security line. In reality, most shoes I wear, even with laces, I tend to fix up so I can slip them on and off rather than lace them up each time. But there’s other options, like boots. Boots are not easy to just slip on and slip off, you sort of have to be sitting to remove and put them back on.

At the moment, I’m perfectly happy with my slip-on shoes – like I said above, I wear them all the time, traveling or no. But next time I look around for shoes, I don’t think I’ll let travel considerations enter my mind. It’s too weird – maybe too disempowering in a rich-and-privlegaged way – to think that any of my decisions is driven by such a small moment in time as the security gate.

Episode 145 – Return to Zane Studios

Recording DrunkAndRetired.com #145

To listen to the episode, subscribe to the podcast feed in iTunes or whatever, download the episode directly, or click play below to listen right here:

While he was in town last week, Charles and I went over to Zane’s studio again to record. I must confess, I don’t remember what we talked about.

Enjoy!

Use a Carry-on

Patagonia MLC In Action

Undoubtably, the best tip the frequent traveling is ever going to get is: never check your luggage, always use a carry-on. In the US, you can actually carry-on two bags: one of a purse, laptop bag, or other so-called “personal bag” and a carry-on bag/suit-case that fits the airlines allowed sizes. For most frequent travelers, this means a laptop bag and a piece of small luggage.

There are times, of course, when its not a good idea to use a carry-on like long trips that require more space than a carry-on bag or the fact that some people simply prefer to check luggage.

Carry-on Advantages

Backed-up Luggage

Those exceptions aside, here are the reasons it’s good to avoid checking luggage:

  • Your luggage will never get lost.
  • If you switch flights around, you won’t have to worry about your luggage getting to you later. Switching flights, or traveling on stand-by, means you can change your flight to a sooner one, a less crowded one, or even a different route. Airlines generally let you do this without hassle: once you’re in the airport system, you’ve paid to get from point A to point B. We’ll cover this more in another entry, most people don’t seem to take advantage of it.
  • You don’t have to wait to pick up your bags as baggage claim, which can take a long, long time.
  • You don’t have to wait in line to check your baggage.
  • For many airlines, you can avoid paying the extra “tax” on checking baggage.
  • You’ll be able to change clothes, freshen up with your liquids, or otherwise use the stuff in your bags.
  • Because you’re using a smaller bag, you’ll limit the amount of things you take an travel more lightly.

Problems with Carry-ons

Of course, there are disadvantages, primarily having to lug around an extra bag and find overhead bin space for it.

The overhead bin space problem is taken care of if you have status on the airline and are one of the first ones to get on. Also, most airlines will waive the checked bag fee if you have status. American Airlines, the airline I fly on, applies in both cases.

Shoulder bag or Roller-bag?

Lugging around the extra bag is at the center of one of the classic frequent flyer arguments: do you use a shoulder bag or a suit-case with wheels, roller-bags. It seems like there’s some pragmatic machismo for shoulder bags: they both give you more space and have that “I’m not a lazy roller-bag person” feel to them. As someone who primarily uses a shoulder bag (a Patagonia MLC, thanks to Stephen O’Grady’s recommendation), though, I think roller-bags have their place.

Shoulder bags are more flexible and easy to fling around. And if you’re taking small, 1-2 night trips, you actually will pack less bulky with a shoulder-bag. For longer stays, shoulder bags also encourage you to pack light which most people, myself included, can use all the encouragement I can get: I tend to still always pack one out-fit too many.

On the other hand, if you have to carry a lot of equipment, or extra shoes even (sneakers are bulky), the shoulder bag can get too heavy if you’ll end up having to walk around a lot. I do a fair amount of video for work, so I’m always traveling with a tripod, video camera, microphone, and associated wires. Those ad extra weight that just barely fit in my shoulder bag. Nonetheless, I’m usually only walking to and fro the airport, in the airport, and then from car/cab to hotel room with the bag.

Dolphin Checkin

However, sometimes you have to walk a lot more than that, like, when you go to Las Vegas. Las Vegas, though a concentrated frequent flyer destination (it’s all on the strip) requires a lot of walking around to get from the airport to your hotel room. Once you get out of the cab, you’ll have to hike to the front desk. Then you’ll have to hike through some hallways, through the casino, up the elevator, then around some more hallways to get to your room.

In cases like that, a roller-bag starts to look nice.

Whichever one you use though – shoulder bag or roller-bag – try your best to avoid checking a bag. If you’re a frequent traveler, it’s the kind of thing that’ll pay off all the time without you noticing: your bag will always be there right with you, instead of in Milan, and you’ll save time in lines checking in your bag and getting it at baggage claim.

DrunkAndRetired.com Special: Scotch Tasting

The Scotch Lab

To listen to the episode, subscribe to the podcast feed in iTunes or whatever, download the episode directly, or click play below to listen right here:

Several weeks ago, I was lucky enough to drop in on my old friend Zane for a Scotch tasting. We had about 5-6 different types of scotch, and took the 2+ hours of this special episode to review each.

Zane has a pretty nice setup for recording and we’ve recorded this week’s episode in there as well.

Also, in addition to the write-up about Zane’s recording setup, check out the rest of his wiki for all sorts of fun content.

Zane in the Scotch Lab

Hyde Park Ground Sirloin Burger

Click play above to se the video review of the Hyde Park burger, read below, or do both!

Introducing The Burger Beat

Of late, I’ve noticed there’s a rash of fantastic burgers here in Austin. We’ve got all sorts of little places that serve burgers in the style of fast-food restaurants, classic-style (as the Hyde Park burger reviewed here is), and more unique variations. Whatever the style, we’ve definitely built up a culture of burgers here in Austin.

To that end, I thought I’d start reviewing Austin burgers, and call it “The Burger Beat.”

Burger #1 – Hyde Park Bar and Grill

Hyde Park Bar & Grill Burger

Kim and I went to Hyde Park Bar and Grill recently. It’s pretty much my default choice when I can’t think of somewhere else to eat, but I’d never really had their burger.

They offer three burgers: a regular, a half pound ground sirloin, and a kobe burger. The kobe burger came on a focaccia bun, which seems like a bad omen. So, I chose the sirloin, medium-rare.

As I recount in the video above, it was actually an extremely well made burger, if a little salty. You could taste the tender meat and the grill. That said, nothing really stood out about it: the bun wasn’t fantastic, it was dripping with flavor, there was no special sauce…it was just made perfectly.

Hyde Park’s french fries, of course, are legendary around Austin. They’re lightly breaded and come with a nice mayonnaise-based sauce. They’re worth ordering as an appetizer no matter what you’re getting – you’ll probably want the half order.

What’s the man, exactly? Well, you won’t be displeased, for sure, but it won’t be the most memorable burger you’ve ever had. Get it if you’re there and you want a burger.

Your Little Bag

Part of traveling now is the liquid bag. While you can take as much liquid as want if you put it in a check bag, if you’re not checking a bag (which I recommend for all business travel, if not all travel of a short enough duration), and bringing all your stuff through security, you have to follow get yourself that little liquid bag. The TSA has all the details on the regulations up, even a little wallet card for the wallet-stuffers out there

Sure, we all know these rules are absurd and there’s a whole cottage industry in the press when it comes to making fun of the TSA. For the rest of us who just want to get home sooner and fight The Man from the comfort of our home-ground, here are some tips.

The Bag

Little Liquids

You want a sturdy bag that’s not going to rip up easy and that opens and closes quickly and easily. If you’re traveling as frequently as I do, you’re going to go through a lot of these bags, esp. if they’re flimsy. Also, when you’re unpacking or packing up your stuff early in the morning, the last thing you want to do is fuss with those annoying plastic zippers on the tops of cheap zip-lock bags.

Instead, I use bags like the one pictured above: a quart-sized “freezer” bag with the little plastic zip-helper do-dad.

There’s no one brand that I’ve found better than another. I’ve bought over-priced Whole Foods bags, Hefty ones, and all the rest. They’re all the same, the price is just different.

Now, you’re still going to go through about 2-3 of these a year, maybe 1 a quarter if you over-pack the bag and have container corners puncturing the plastic. Also, if your dogs get ahold of them, you’ll get some holes in them ;>

As bonus, these bags are also good for packing other things you bring, esp. stuff with cords that might unravel like travel headsets.

Packing the Bag

While you can buy all sorts of “travel” sized (3 ounces or less) toiletries, you should really get your hands on little travel containers. You’ll save money and be able to take whatever stuff you want. This doesn’t apply across the board: toothpaste and shaving cream are esp. hard to re-container.

I have 3 such custom containers in my little bag: my conditioner, my face soap, and my hair-gel (I don’t use shampoo, see here). For the conditioner, I use a squeeze bottle, and for the face soap I use a little squat container with a screw top.

The hair-gel is a recent addition. I used to just carry the whole pomade container, and while TSA people never harassed me about it, I noticed that is over 3 ounces. The pomade I use is expensive, about $13-16 a puck, and I damn sure didn’t want to toss it in the name of absurdity. Also, the container was way too big for the little bag. So, I got Kim to give me one of her little make-up discs, which I scoop about 3-5 days worth of pomade into. It’s worked well:

Little Liquids

After slimming down the container, I have plenty of room in my little bag and I think it’ll rip less often.

As you can see, I also put toothpaste in there (a tube I picked up at a hotel, though you can get plenty of good travel sized tubes anywhere) and my shaving cream (a little travel size Barbersol: cheap and effective).

I also put my razor in the bag, just to have it all in one place and keep it from banging around in my bag. Toothbrushes are usually way too big to fit in the bag. I ended up getting an ultra-violet light bacteria killing toothbrush holder gee-gaw for Christmas (the Violight iZap UV Toothbrush Sanitizer to be exact), so I’ve been using that to carry the toothbrush.

Working with your little bag

Finally, for the frequent traveler, it’s worth considering where and how you pack your little bag. It’s one of the key items you have to fuss with when you go through the security gate (others being your shoes, laptop, coat, watches, phones, and other metal stuff). I always pack mine at the top of my shoulder bag, on one of the corners.

This way, I can unzip one of the shoulder bag’s corners, pull out my little bag and quickly put it in the bin for scanning. I leave the corner unzipped on it’s journey through the x-ray machine, and then when shoulder bag and little bag come through the other side, you can quickly stuff the little bag back into it’s special spot.

DrunkAndRetired.com # 144 – Ripple

The Urinal Monologues

In this episode, Charles and I go over several key agenda items for the new president. Namely:

As mentioned, Charles will be presenting at the Detroit Java User’s group: February 18, 2009 6:30PM to 8:30PM at ePrize headquarters in Pleasant Ridge.

Also: why don’t you just subscribe to the podcast feed to have all episodes automagically downloaded?!