late to the airport

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We got to the airport super late today.  Checked in our bags like 20 minutes before the flight.  Kristine is optimistic that our bags made it.  Luckily we have time to kill in seattle so if our bags come in late, we can get them pretty easily.  If anyone has had a drink on southwest, they are pretty strong.  We have a ton of drink tickets and no food.  I might hurl at 30000 feet.

Currently in phoenix. Still gotta stop on vegas.

One Drunken Weekend. BONUS video included!

Whenever the Houston friends come into town, you can expect the “excessive”.  This term was coined during camping last year.  Pre-drinking at Marc’s, Pluckers for wings and beers, then we end up somewhere in the warehouse district.  That was Friday.  Saturday involved pho to soothe the hangover, a brewery tour at the Jester King Brewery for more beer, then Albert and his band had a show which was the first time for a lot of us, then dirty sixth to Mike Canlas’s delight.  Luckily I don’t play golf (yet) so I didn’t have to wake up early like some people.  But we did meet them at Buffet Palace for lunch.  For dinner I was telling myself I had enough of eating out, but we still went to have burgers at Mighty Fine BECAUSE THEY CLOSED RED ROBIN ON BRODIE.  BOOOOOO!  Overall, it was a fun weekend.  Luckily we don’t do this very often, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun when we do.

I brought out the camera to our brewery visit which was pretty fun and relaxing.  I picked up a cheap Velbon monopod several weeks back to help stabilize the camera without having to awkwardly set up a tripod everywhere, but there’s obviously tradeoffs.  It’s very portable, but the footage is still too shaky for my liking.  There’s a good Manfrotto monopod that runs for almost $300 bucks but I don’t think that’s within my budget at the moment.  There’s a ton of camera equipment I feel like I need before we do a lot of travelling soon but I’m just postponing the splurge for as long as possible.  With all this equipment, I still don’t think I have any aspirations of going into video or photography professionally.  I might try a trial gig for fun, if I ever get good enough…  It’d be nice to be able to have some extra cash I suppose.  But I just wanna take nice pictures and video without any pressure from a client who’s expecting quality work.  I don’t really need that added stress right now.

Anyway, here’s the video…

Frank’s Guide to Renting a Car

I think there have been two occasions in the past year (one time during our wedding and one time when we flew to Delaware) where someone got made fun of for paying WAY TOO MUCH for a rental car. I almost forgot about my own little tricks when booking our next trip to Seattle/Vancouver next month.

Tip 1:  Use Hotwire

I like to use Hotwire.com for almost every hotel and car rental I reserve.  For those of you who don’t know works, for hotels, they guarantee you a hotel of certain quality for a really good price within a certain area.  For cars, it’s almost similar, except they guarantee you a certain size car for a certain price.  Catches:  1.) You don’t find out what hotel it is or where it’s located until after you’ve purchased.   2.) It’s non-refundable and it’s probably pretty hard to make changes to your reservation.

Tip 2:  Mess with the Pickup Time

Try moving your pickup time to an earlier (or later if possible) time as long as the total duration of your reservation doesn’t cause you to add another full day.  You might get some different rates based on the pickup time.  Even if your flight arrives in the evening, don’t hesitate to adjust your pickup time several hours before your flight arrives.  Just think of it as showing up late to pick up your rental.  You have up to 24 hours to pick up your car after the designated pick up time.

Follow these two quick tips and you’ll be on your way to success.  We saved almost $200 bucks on the car rental with our upcoming trip to Seattle doing this :-)

Figure 1:  Picking up at 12:00pm

Figure 2:  Picking up at 12:30pm

Some Shots as of Recently

I picked up this Canon 24-70 f/2.8L sometime in March or April off of Craigslist and there’s a reason why this lens is so popular.  Luckily, I scored it for $950 but had to drive down to San Antonio on a Monday night after work to get it.  I used to run around with a 17-50 Tamron f/2.8 and I think the sharpness of pictures are really noticeable with the L glass.  The colors are definitely more vibrant too.  I find myself doing less color correction. I also use a 70-200 f/4L (non-IS) which isn’t technically mine… It’s Kristine’s, but she doesn’t really use her camera, lol. This lens is completely adequate for most outdoor situations. Forget about using it indoors. At least it’s nice and lightweight – as I’m told a 70-200 f/2.8L is pretty heavy. Anyway, here are some shots.

Update: After changing my theme, I’m realizing that I really need to get a single-column layout if I’m gonna be posting more pictures on here.  This sucks, haha.






Of course it was a fake craigslist ad.

I got really excited when I saw this 70-200mm lens on the Houston craigslist on Saturday.  It was even more exciting since we were gonna be in Houston that day.  Finally got a response:

Hi,
Thanks for being interested in buying my Canon EF L 70-200 F/2.8 IS Lens, I will start my email by telling you that I’m currently out of country so pick up isn’t an option . The item is as described , in perfect condition and will be delivered at your home address . Total price will be $850 and the transaction will be made only through eBay because they will handle with all that it has to be done ,the shipping , payment and passing the item in to your property as they have authorization to sign for the item in my behalf . Right now I’m in Italy, just arrived here 3 days ago . Before I left I found a buyer and I had everything arranged . I paid for the shipping and almost sent it to him . But yesterday the buyer that I had asked me to wait another 4 weeks because he suddenly had other priorities and he is out of money for the moment . I can’t wait this long as I’m in the Italy for 3 days now and i really need the money, I am in the moving process , changing the work place and everything … A major issue is that if you want to buy my item you really need to have the money ready for it .
This purchase protection guarantees that the item is exactly as I described ; basically , once delivered , you’ll have 10 working days to inspect it at your home and if you decide not to keep it you will get refunded in no time and they will charge me with the return costs . If the item meets your expectations and you want to keep it you will have to tell them to release me the payment details so I can get paid . If you are interested in this purchase please reply me with your full name and shipping address . After i pass this details to them you will receive an invoice and further instructions as how will you be able to get possession of the item .
Let me know your thoughts .

Warmest regards

Mexican Restaurants That Suck in the Austin Area

In honor of the popular American holiday, Cinco de Mayo, I’d like to highlight Mexican restaurants in the Austin area that I’ve eaten at that suck. (disclaimer: I’m not Mexican)  Granted, a lot of the restaurants here are “Tex-Mex” but I’m not judging on Mexican authenticity here, I’m just judging on whether it sucks or not.  There’s a couple common traits among terrible Mexican restaurants which stick out to me:

  1. Overpriced – Nothing else raises the flag more than expensive Mexican food.  If you’re putting ingredients that cause you to charge an arm and a leg, it’s probably not gonna taste like it’s worth what you paid because it’s Mexican food.
  2. Weak-ass salsa – If the restaurant you are eating at serves some salsa that you can feed to a two month old baby, the rest of your order that you’re waiting on is probably going to be terrible.
  3. Are there other Mexican people eating there? – If the answer is no, it’s probably no good.  This goes for any ethnic food.  If their own people won’t even eat there, it probably sucks.
  4. Do you have to pay for your chips and salsa?  – If yes, leave.

Ok onto my list of Mexican Restaurants that suck in the Austin area.  You could’ve probably guessed some of the options on this list

  1. Abuelo’s (in the barton creek mall parking lot) – We went here a while ago for lunch one time and I just remember it was overpriced and snooty.  I told myself I wouldn’t come back again.
  2. Hula Hut – This place should’ve burned down last 4th of July when it caught fire.  Consistent 45 minute wait for mediocre food.  This place really fits down the same line as Chuy’s since I’m pretty sure they’re owned by the same people, but I wanna say this place is more expensive cuz of the fact that it’s on Lake Austin.  It’s like Chuy’s but add shrimp and a dollar sign.  We saw one table of Mexican guys and they stuck out like a sore thumb.
  3. Serrano’s – Again, overpriced, not that great.  Terrible service on our one visit there.
  4. The Oasis – Probably the greatest offender of crappy food, but great views of Lake Travis. The food is really crappy.  I remember paying 8 bucks for a weak margarita served to me in a dixie cup while we waited.  We’ve only been once, but I’m sure we’ll be back for the view.
  5. Iguana Grill  – Also has decent views of Lake Travis, but I’ve had terrible food on every visit. This was actually the very first restaurant we’d eaten at here in Austin when I was a junior in high school.  My sister had a fly in her enchiladas.  Lovely.
  6. Matt’s “Famous” El Rancho – This one I struggle with because the salsa is actually pretty good.  The food is decent and generous and they serve you an egg on your enchiladas (reminds me of New Mexico), but it breaks my overpriced rule.  There’s always a wait as well.  Service is hit or miss.

So that’s my run down… I’m in no way a “foodie blogger”, but these are just places that I complain about if we have to eat there.  All the places I’ve listed will probably be packed today, so you won’t find me at any of them.