Greetings from Silicon Hills (aka: Austin, TX)

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Howdy, y'all! Hook 'em Horns (or something like that).

So, you've all e-mailed me, and you've all left me voice mails, and you're all wondering what the heck is going on with me. Thanks for the concern, and apologies for not responding to your inquiries - I'm not ignoring you (well, I'm not ignoring most of you), I've just been super busy. I (drum roll) relocated to Austin, Texas last week, and have been immersed in my new job, the city, and all of that fun stuff.

"W-w-w-w-what?!" Yep, I heard you, and I saw you do that double-take-head-twist-thing that you do when you're confused. That's right, I'm in Austin.

"Where's Austin?"

Easy - it's in central Texas, about 2.5 hours south of Dallas, about an hour north east of San Antonio, and about 2 hours north west of Houston. Refer to this wonderful map that I made:

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Cool, eh?

"Why Austin?" Lots of reasons, but most notably I found a great job here and was lucky enough to get offered a position. I've long wanted to live in Austin - there's just something about it - and things "worked out" in just the right order so that I could have that opportunity.

"What's so special about Austin?" Tons of things. But I won't bore you with history and details; you can check out the Wikipedia entry about Austin. Suffice it to say that Austin is a booming area - there are about 1.6 million people in/around the immediate area, the city has a ton of personality, it's very athletic-friendly, and it's not Arkansas. :-) I can actually shop at a store that isn't a Wal-Mart, and I can actually eat at restaurants that aren't chain restaurants. It's so refreshing. But more on that in a bit.

This is going to be another lengthy entry, so please click on the link to read the rest of this entry. Sorry, but we've got a lot of catching up to do!!!

So, my work at VeriSource came to an end early last week, and it was with a heavy heart that I packed my things and left. I can't say enough great things about the folks over there, and I wish nothing but the very best for them all. Karl didn't seem to be too upset with news of my departure, or if he did, he hid it well:

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And I made sure I spent lots of time saying good-bye to one of the best people I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. Don from VeriSource is a true gem of a human being - he's quite possibly the nicest guy I've ever met, and is smart, talented, and just amazing. VeriSource is in good hands with him at the helm. I'm sure everything will work out, so long as Don can drive the ship. Here's Don and me on my last day:

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So, after saying my good-byes, I went and got a massage (I may be addicted to them, thanks to Mexico), changed the oil in my car, quickly packed some essentials, and hit that familiar road, heading to Austin. Of course, there was one essential stop that had to be made:

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Ahhh, once again, it was a single cheeseburger with curds and a soda. Oh, my poor diet... more on that as well. :-)

I continued down to Austin, and much to my surprise, was unable to find a decent hotel anywhere in Austin. I had forgotten that the infamous South by Southwest festival was taking place, and as such, every single hotel was booked solid. So, I decided to stay in Round Rock (which is just about 15 minutes north of Austin), and boy do I regret that decision...

I stopped at a Best Western, and wow - what a place. Everything was fresh out of the 1960's, smells and all. After a short night's sleep, I left fled that fleabag hotel and made my way to my new job. Thankfully I was obligated to be at my new job "first thing" in the morning, so my stay at the Best Western short and anything but sweet. Here I am escaping:

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With the stench of the Best Western still lingering in my nostrils, I made my way into Austin, excited, eager, and a little nervous to start my new job at Trigger Point Technologies.

I took a job as the Operations Manager / Business Development Manager at Trigger Point, and my responsibilities are many, varied, and challenging. The job attracted me for many reasons, and even though it's a bit of a change from my IT Project Management career path, I couldn't be any more happy with the move.

Trigger Point Technologies is a company that provides people with the tools and education to allow them to administer their own Trigger Point massages. Trigger Point massage is a massage technique that's best explained by someone else - I don't have the time/space to fully explain it here, so take a second and check out Trigger Point massage on Wikipedia.

The company is growing fast, and they're doing many great things. It's a small company, with 8 employees, and they focus on working with high performance athletes, retailers, wholesalers, distributors, coaches, trainers, and people from the triathlon, running, cycling, and swimming arenas, as well as select athletes and training facilities from the NFL and various other professional sports teams. The products really do work in an amazing way - a simple 10 second demonstration by Cassidy Phillips (Trigger Point's founder and CEO) proved that to me - I really could feel it working, and I really could tell an immediate difference in my range of motion - after just 10 seconds.

So, I rolled in to the office, which is located in a small industrial park on the southwest side of Austin. Here's the outside of the office:

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The office may not look like much from the outside, but believe me when I say you can't judge a book by its cover. The inside is huge - there's a large warehouse (that's just a small corner of it, and you can see Marco preparing an order):

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And a bunch of office space, including my little corner of the world:

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Yep, that's my bike - the office is close enough to my apartment that I'm able to ride my bike to work. Talk about a huge bonus, and something that I'm sure to enjoy. The other perks are many - Cassidy and I went for a long bike ride on Saturday, and I really enjoyed talking business and ideas with him while getting in a decent workout. After our ride, we went for a run, but I'll share more about that in a bit as well. :-)

Back to the office... Trigger Point Technologies' "first child" is the TP Massage Ball, which is an ingenious little tool that does an incredible job of reaching some tricky places on the body. Cassidy started the company by building these from his home about 8 years ago, and sold them from his car at various sporting events around the country. Here's a progression of the TP Massage Ball product - the very first, original TP Massage Ball is located on the left. They affectionately refer to it as the "Frankenball" because the stitching is so rough. Cassidy is the first to admit that he's "not a seamstress."

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After meeting everyone at the office (and liking everyone tremendously), it was time to work. And work we did - time flew by, and before I knew it, the clock read well into the evening. My apartment was supposed to be ready "sometime after 1pm," so with my trusty watch reading close to 9:00pm, I was confident that the place would be ready for me to move into.

I drove over to the apartment, unloaded my stuff, and took my rumblin' tummy to find a decent restaurant. Luckily, I wouldn't have to go far - the Kerbey Lane Cafe is located just about .3 miles from my apartment, so I swung in for some grub. Here's the outside:

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Kerbey is a lot like Magnolia cafe (which was visited during the previous Austin visit), and apparently you're either a Kerbey loyalist or a Magnolia loyalist - it's sort of like the Mason-Dixon line... after sampling the breakfast tacos:

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I think I'm a Kerbey loyalist and fan. Sorry, Magnolia. Hopefully you'll let me cross the line a few times and frequent your establishment every so often. :-)

With a full belly, it was off to bed. I'd had a busy day, and I hadn't slept real well the night before. I also had the prospect of a big bike ride ahead of me, so it was easy to catch some quality Zs on the 'ole air mattress.

Saturday's day was taken up by a bike ride and a run at Town Lake Park. Town Lake Park is gorgeous - it has dog parks, and several "loops" that range in distance from 3 miles to 10 miles. The trail is shaded, runs alongside Town Lake, and features a crushed gravel surface that's well groomed. People are friendly (and active), and it was a real joy to run there. Here are two quick photos from my phone:

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After returning from the ride/run, I was starving, so I sought out the ultimate post-ride/run recovery food: cupcakes. I had my choice of several cupcake establishments, but decided on the sweet treats from Sugar Mamas Bakeshop. Folks, these cupcakes are reason enough to move to Austin - they're amazing. By far the best cupcakes I've ever had. Here's a shot of the peanut butter cupcake I enjoyed:

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That cupcake was oh so delicious - I still have dreams about it. I can't wait to go back and sample some of their other offerings - there were plenty of choices available...

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I went back to the apartment, and found that Cassidy had called to invite me to dinner with him and his wife Carin (pronounced "Karen"). We had originally planned to go to the Alamo Drafthouse Theater, but the movie was sold out, so we went to a kick-butt Mexican restaurant called Curra's. It was absolutely amazing food - simple yet flavorful, and completely not greasy. You could tell that everything was made from scratch and onsite - it was so unbelievably good.

Here it is from the outside - nothing fancy, but again, you can't judge a book by the cover...

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I tried a local micro brew (on the left), and Cassidy tried the Avocado Margarita:

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Appetizer was their salsa sampler plate:

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Dinner - I had fish tacos, one with a red corn tortilla, and one with a flour tortilla:

Here's Cassidy and I just after dinner:

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And here's Cassidy and his wife, Carin:

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The dinner was so delicious that I just had to get some desert, so I went with the Tres Leches cake. Again, no disappointments - it was heavenly:

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With my belly full and the sun setting quickly, it was back to the apartment for some much needed shut-eye. I woke up on Sunday, went for a 5-mile run around Town Lake, and then made my way north to Round Rock. I wanted to hit the Ikea store and do a little shopping around, so I took Mopac to I-35 and within a matter of minutes was in Round Rock.

I had heard rumors of a fantastic donut place in Round Rock, so I decided to seek it out... the Round Rock Donut Company has been around since 1926, and for good reason - their donuts are the best I've ever had. Better than Greenbush, better than Mrs. Johnson's, better than anything, plain and simple. Just check out this bad boy:

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Not big enough for you? How about this one - the Texas Donut:

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I was able to exercise some restraint and I'm happy to say that I didn't eat the Texas donut. Instead, I made my way back over to Ikea and did some shopping. I got blasted by folks for not including "cool" pictures from Ikea last time, so here you go - enjoy. No description, as I'm getting tired... I've been working on this entry for 2 hours now.

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I bought a chair and a table, then headed back to Austin. Once back in Austin, I snapped a few photos of my apartment, which I'm subleasing through June:

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That's the entry way to the apartment complex, and it has a little park which is nice and shaded. I think people wait for the bus there, as the metro line stops right outside of the complex. There are about 18-20 buildings in the apartment - here's my building:

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And here's the inside of my humble abode:

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That's the living room, complete with the air mattress and my new chair and table (for the TV). I was taking advantage of some free cable in that picture, but it's since been shut off, so I'm using some rabbit ears, which are quite good at pulling in a crystal clear picture. I get 5 channels, which is nice.

Here's the kitchen, which is small and a tad dark. As you can see, I was snacking on some pizza (this picture was actually taken on Monday night).

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And the bedroom, which is vacant, but has a nice big walk-in closet:

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And last but not least, the rather small bathroom:

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So as you can see, it's quite small, and it's not much to look at. It's a lowly 600-square foot one bedroom apartment in an aging complex, but it's in a fantastic location that's literally next to everything, and it's relatively inexpensive with a short-term lease. Next order of business is to find a nicer place to stay, but this will do for the next few months.

I sat at the apartment for a bit, then headed out for some dinner. That one donut wasn't keeping me full, so I decided to hit a local pizza place called Southside Flying Pizza:

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I ordered some garlic knots (yum!):

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And a chicken, spinach, and mushroom pizza. It was pretty tasty:

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I ate 3 pieces of the pizza, because I was saving room for another cupcake. But this time, I had to try out a competitor to Sugar Mamas. Hey Cupcake is a cupcake stand that makes its home in an Airstream trailer that's parked alongside South Congress avenue. Despite it being 7pm at night, the place was jumping, and even had a musician to entertain folks:

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The cupcake wasn't quite as good as Sugar Mamas, but it was tasty, nonetheless. I suspect it's more of a "place to be seen" than it is a culinary mecca. Here's the Red Velvet cupcake, in all of its glory:

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I scarfed down the sugary treat (while watching a newlywed couple have their wedding pictures taken in front of the Cupcake trailer), and made my way back to the apartment. Along the way, I was able to snap a picture of the Austin Capitol building, as seen from South Congress Avenue:

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And, as evidence of Austin's love for all things music, I saw this informal gathering in someone's yard earlier in the day... You have to love a city where people just gather and play music in the back yard:

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Man, I'm beat. This blog entry took forever to write, and was even more frustrating to write because I started it last night, but lost everything when my "borrowed" wireless internet connection failed about halfway through the entry. So, I stayed late at work just so that you, my dedicated and loyal blog readers, would have the latest and greatest information about your pal, Steveo.

In summary, I'm thrilled to be in Austin, and even more thrilled to be hooked-up with Trigger Point Technologies. They really do have a dramatic, real, and lasting impact on people's lives. Everywhere that I go, people notice my Trigger Point t-shirt and stop to say something great about the company - it's really amazing, flattering, and reassuring. I'm confident that this was a great move, and I can't wait to update you with more information and stories.

Best of all, I get to do my job in an arena that is "triathlon friendly" - Cassidy is an Ironman athlete himself, and I'm sure I'll learn a lot from him. I'm so excited - I can't tell you all how great I think this is going to be. So, wish lots of good things for our economy, and give me a shout if you think you might benefit from trying out the Trigger Point massage products. I've got the hook-up, and will be happy to help you out! :-)

Cheers, and yee-haw!

1 Comments

Well yee haw to you, Schtevie! Happy for your new adventures and somehow it just doesn't surprise me one lick! Now for a tow job back down to TX for a visit~~it's bound to happen sooner or later.

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This page contains a single entry by Steve published on March 24, 2009 8:53 PM.

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