Memorial Day Bits

We’re going to go ahead and call this weekend a success as I have a nice sunburn, and somehow still smell vaguely of Barton Springs and Margaritas (somebody observed that if I could figure out a way to bottle that smel , that might in fact be a good career move).

One of the reasons I love Memorial Day weekend, aside from the 3.5 days of not working is, it’s as if the cable networks have time-lock safe on all the WWII movies that only opens at the end of May. From Band of Brothers in its entirety, to the History Channel bonanza of Pacific War documentaries – if it hadn’t required being inside all weekend, I could’ve sat on the couch and viewed 72 hours non-stop of the last communal-global-suicide attempt.

Speaking of being outside, after a thunderstorm shut down the springs on Saturday, we made another attempt on Monday, and were greeted with a 20 minute line to get in (really guys, how hard is it to hand someone $3?). The line wasn’t that bad, but more excruciatingly painful was the High School kids behind us talking about how hard their lives are. Remember the days when the hardest thing in your life was when your dad wouldn’t let you get your ear pierced? Yeah, me neither, because I don’t suck at life.

And speaking of douche-bags, the drama continued after we picked out a spot on the hill above springs,as the folks behind us treated us to a litany of how great Greek parties were back when they were in school, including various different chants (complete with re-enactments), nicknames and a couple of really unfortunate anecdotes, involving a slip and slide, KY and a trip to the ER. Like, I really, like feel stupider for having over heard that, and like really fear for the future of our country if this is all we have to offer.

In the good news department, Momma and Poppa Treichler have completed the cleaning of the garage in preparation for the upcoming remodel. I have mad respect for anyone who spends a week cleaning out a garage, but even more so for cleaning garage, that has been steadily piling up up crap for the past 20 years. Construction should get swinging as soon as they can get a crew moving. I’m also looking forward to the fourth of July weekend up there which we will spend building cabinets (yes, this is my idea of fun). Doing b_258_exteriorconstruction work is always satisfying – doing construction work at 9,000 feet (sans oxygen) even more so. Check the Cabin project page for more updates on that chaos.

And speaking of building stuff, while at the springs, trying to ignore the washed-up greeks up hill from me, I stumbled across an ad in touting the benefits of the new Austonian, which at 56 stories will be the tallest residence in the western half of the country. The guys building this thing, have either been of planet for the past year and didn’t hear about this whole series of small problems we’ve been having with the economy, or they have brass balls the size of a 1974 Buick. I’m guessing the latter. Still this project pisses me off – the name for one thing. Guess what, folks here call them selves Austinites, not Austonians. That particular suffix is claimed by our slightly more humid cousins to the East, in my humble opinion they can have it. And point two, holy crap the size of this thing –  the tiny building off to the right in the rendering there is the Frost Bank at 35ish stories. Inferiority complex much?

Finally, while the three-day weekend is great, it is in fact important to remember the nature of the holiday, and those who didn’t make it home.

Lots of Lots

Ok, so we’ve today we’ve heard the grim news about the number of dealerships that Chrysler and GM will be shuttering. Aside from all jobs lost and commerce stunted with these closings, you’re about to end up with yet another case of impressive urban blight on your hands. Even if some of them don’t close, according to the NYTimes…

The dealerships losing their franchises will not necessarily close… 658 of them sell more used cars than new ones and therefore might be in a position to stay open as a used-car lot.

Ah, the used car lot – every urban planner’s favorite. These dealerships are usually acre upon acre of parking lot, with a giant central show room in the middle. In spots like the motor mile here in Austin, the condemned will be eaten by their neighbors, but what about the standalones? Could you make them in to tent-city style homeless shelters, schools, or perhaps the worlds most awesome paintball/lasertag course? Pocket Solar Stations? Inner city Farms? Giant parking lots/charging points for the hypothetical fleets of electric cars that will be here soon (for G.M. there’s some poetic justice there)?

Anybody else? Is there a decent way to make this into a bright point as opposed to just another concrete wasteland, another used car lot or some other unnecessary strip mall.


No it’s not the car company spelled wrong. It’s a city of 50,000 being build in the Abh Dhabi desert with a carbon footprint of zero. Why would a country with 10% of the worlds oil spend $18 billion on a project like this?

“The answer is simple,” says Sultan Al Jaber, CEO of Abu Dhabi Future Energy Co., the developers planning the city. “There are two reasons. Number one, because we can. Number two, because we should. And because this is a logical step and a natural extension for our involvement in the energy markets.” – npr

An interesting idea, I’d love to see an American attempt at something like this (we really are smarter than everyone gives us credit for), but seeing as we can’t even put New Orleans back together, that’s probably not going to happen.


Geoff Manaugh’s BldgBlog is one of those sites about architecture, art and the new urbanism that I love to read, forget about for a while, then come back too after too long of an absence. Some great reads include the recent interview of Canadian tunnel explorer Michael Cook (with amazing photos), Post-residential Venice (which I’ve experienced myself and is truly weird) and an insightful piece on the new Contradiction-filled Green Architecture. Well thought-out and well written.


Rob sent me a the link to the house in Westlake called Soaring Wings (little over the top on the name). I saw the site work for this a couple of years back and was wondering what the deal was – turned out to be pretty amazing.