Month: March 2007

Goodbye, Ararat

I just learned that Ararat up on North Loop closed a few days ago. Sad news. I discovered it in ’95, and it had been one of my favorite places ever since. Gwen and I had our rehearsal dinner there.

It took a long time for the place to catch on, but once it did, they never seemed to lack for business. Still, I was aware that they were having a hard time making ends meet, and had held a few fundraisers over the years. Clearly that wasn’t enough. I wonder what exactly did them in. I wouldn’t be surprised if they couldn’t fit enough tables in to make a go of it, or if their rent was recently raised, seeing as how North Loop has become much trendier of late. If that’s so, it’s another case of killing the goose that lays the golden egg. North Loop is trendy in part because of Ararat.

Update: I don’t normally look at—much less link to—myspace, but here’s Kelly’s side of the story. Kelly was the “face” of Ararat to me.

Sneak Preview

Yes, I know the current hash of a theme is ugly. I’m working on a completely different theme. Here’s a [sneak preview](http://8stars.org/misc/concon) of what the front page will look like (just an inactive wireframe, still needs work).

White Sands

Map of Adam & Gwen's March 2007 New Mexico Trip

On Wednesday, Gwen and I took off on a trip to White Sands. We’d been planning this for a little while, since we wanted to get out of Austin during SXSW. After euthanizing Oscar, which was hard on both of us, we also felt like getting out of our usual routine would be a good idea.

Photos are up.

Oscar: 1991–2007

Oscar

We put Oscar in the earth today.

Despite the name, Oscar was a girl, and every inch a princess. Gwen tells the story of when she first got her. Gwen was living in Minneapolis, and the mother cat’s owners (who called Oscar “Whiner”), brought her over to Gwen’s place. Oscar was the runt of the litter, but as soon as she was released in Gwen’s apartment, she walked around the room, sniffed everything, jumped up on a table, knocked something over, and then came over to Gwen, got up on her hind legs, and gave Gwen an affectionate head-butt. This was her most endearing habit, and often used in the years that followed to defuse anger at, say, knocking something over. In that moment, Oscar became Gwen’s cat.

A year or so later, Gwen moved to Austin, and moved around in Austin quite a bit after that. Oscar was her one constant companion. She added another cat, Kevin, to her household, and when Gwen and I got together, we wound up with three cats between us. Hence the king-sized bed.

Oscar had been a svelte 17 pounds in her prime, but once she hit a certain age, she started losing weight, and her kidneys started shutting down. Ironically, the weight loss made it easier for Oscar to get into trouble, which she did, jumping up to places she couldn’t reach when she was heavier but younger. She often found ways of getting into trouble specifically to push our buttons, to let us know it was time for a snack or something. As infuriating as she could be in these moments, she always made us laugh (either at her or ourselves) because her needling was so transparent, and yet so effective.

Over the past four days or so, she lost interest in eating (apart from barbecued chicken from Hoover’s) and became much quieter. Gwen took her to the vet and found that her blood urea nitrogen level (an indicator of kidney function) was off the scale. The vet said Oscar had “days or weeks.”

With much grief and second-guessing, we made the decision to euthanize her, and this afternoon, after a snack of barbecued chicken, the vet came over and ended her life. We are both wrecked.

It’s a hell of a thing, having pets. You take them in as cute companions, knowing in the back of your mind that some day, a day like this will arrive. And when it happens, you’re completely unprepared.

(from Gwen) It’s impossible to sum up a life together in a few paragraphs. Oscar has slept by my side (or, more often, on my pillow) for 16 years. She’s made me laugh, pissed me off, purred in my ear at 5 a.m., and today licked my tears while we were hanging out together for her last few hours. I hope I can always remember the smell of her head, in the sweet soft spot between her ears that tickled my nose at the beginning of endearing-for-life head-butt. And I hope her cat friend Kevin, who has always been “Kevin and Oscar” will find some way to be Kevin. Rest well, Oscar. Piggy. Pig Pig. Muffin. Pig-a-Muff. Muffy. Muff Muff. Schmooky. Schmook.

Twitter: Just a toy?

Chris tweeted that Twitter is “just a toy.”

Well, maybe. But if you really want/need to be reachable and you’re on Twitter (and your would-be contacts are too), it’s a one-stop way for people to message you. Twitter permits one-to-one messages (as opposed to its default broadcast mode), and if you’ve set Twitter up for it, these will be sent through chat, e-mail, and SMS. There are probably other ways to “explode” a message to multiple communications channels like this, but none that I’ve seen. So, chalk up one potentially practical use for Twitter.

This suggests a way Twitter might actually make money, one of the questions its members have been wondering about since day one: quality of service. An organization could move some of its communications onto Twitter and actually benefit from this message-exploding function, but Twitter has been too flaky lately to make that practical. But if business users paid for and received a certain QoS, it might be viable.

pardon the mess

Upgrading WP to version 2.1.2. I’d made some hacks to the core code in the old version I was running in order to get my theme to work. I’ve got to use an orthodox theme until I get all that stuff working right again.