SxSWi on the horizon

The South by Southwest interactive, film, and music conference is just around the corner. Literally. I live only a mile or two from the Austin Convention Center, where it headquarters every year, so it's on my mind year-round. Of course, it spreads out all over town, especially in the case of music.

I learn a lot at interactive, and I love seeing old friends and making new ones. Each year, more and more graymanes come out, which pleases me no end. This year, Rhea of The Boomer Chronicles will be here, and she's already on my schedule.

Darren from Problogger Tips will be here too. I subscribe to his blog as well, and really should get it up on my bloglog.

Glenda Sims, my accessibility guru at UT once again lends her expertise to Web developers and writers. She slipped me the tip that WordPress is 508 compliant, and no offense to Blogger, but I'm considering switching for that very reason.

Are you coming to SXSWi? If so, let me know, we can plan a meet-up!


Austin: Grackle City USA

Other cities have pigeons. Austin has pigeons, too (wood doves), but our trash bird with pride of place is the Great-tailed Grackle (quiscalus mexicanus). The male is a blackbird with rainbow sheen, and a very long tail. Their song is made up of two sounds--one like a rusty gate, traveling up and down the scale, and the other a "chuck, chuck" single "caw."

The female is smaller, brown, with black wings and tail, no rainbows for her. Also not as vociferous.

Both are considered "trash birds," just as pigeons are. They are deafeningly noisy and nose-wrinkly messy. Huge clouds of them crowd trees, utility poles, wires, anything sturdy enough to hold them up. They love trash cans and garbage dumps. They steal food from the plate of any unsuspecting human who foolishly leaves their food unguarded on a restaurant patio table--which describes most Austin eateries.

The university had a huge sanitation problem with the birds, layers of guano on sidewalks, entry-ways, garbage cans, everywhere. Everyone on campus has been gifted with a plop on the head or shoulders at least once. Critter services couldn't shoot them, so they came up with a loud canon boom thingy that frightened them away. Some faculy/staff put fake owls on their windowsills. Interspersed with church bells, local places of worship broadcast tapes of raptor birds--owls, hawks, etc. in an attempt to keep them from settling. One misbegotten project experimented with covering enclosed spaces with netting. Try not to imagine the inevitable consequences--broken bird families, entangled feet/wings, the horror of it all.

On the other hand, between the squirrels and grackles, we don't have to worry about spilled or littered food. Each and every trash bin is a popular lunch spot for squirrels. They feature private dining, and an eclectic menu, with contributions from the numerous human eating-places. Sidewalks and roads are scooped clean by bird beaks. They remind me of the catfish (hypostomus plecostomus) that clean algae in aquaria.


Clinton/Obama debate by invitation only

Gee. CNN and Univision have teamed up to produce a Clinton/Obama debate on the UT-Austin campus. Citing security reasons, attendance is by invitation only. If that is truly the case, why were the authorities not concerned when Obama attracted 20,000 supporters at an outdoor venue in Austin a year ago?

Half the tickets go to the Texas Democratic Party. The other half to CNN/Univision peoples, the campaigns, and only a few to students, none to the general public. It's turning out to be a media event for the producers, not a debate for the students. If no more students are allowed to attend, then why tout the fact that it's on a university campus? This seems to run contrary to what Clinton and Obama are saying--that they value the youth vote.

I can guarantee, they will both have about 50,000+ really pissed off UT-Austin students. Unfortunately, the candidates will get the blame, rather than CNN/Univision--the MSM calls the shots once again. Bummer.