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Meeting up in Austin

One of my goals for the business trip I took to Austin (Wednesday-Sunday of last week) was to meet up with some Austin residents who were not part of the conference. Two were professional colleagues, Sam Gosling and Simine Vazire, from the University of Texas. I wanted to spend some time talking shop and rapping about life in general in a relatively quiet bar downtown. Sam knew exactly the right place to go, and we had an excellent evening.

The other folks I wanted to meet were mathew and his wife, sarah. mathew is the world-famous creator of alt.atheism. If you Google "mathew" his web site will come up first or second in the listings. I "met" mathew in 1990 when I was on sabbatical in Germany and have corresponded with him over the years, but this was the first time I met him irl. He was exactly as I expected him based on our Internet communications--intelligent, geeky, and charming. We had dinner at the Magnolia Cafe on South Congress, which has great vegetarian food. Sarah (rothko) was equally delightful--she had an amazingly robust, midwestern handshake for a wispy young woman and a hearty laugh to go with it.

One of the things mathew had suggested as a "thing to experience" while I was in town was First Thursday, which just happened to be on South Congress where my motel (the Austin Motel) was located. It was something, all right. The party atmosphere rivaled Bourbon Street in New Orleans. I uploaded a clip of my walk through this event at http://www.personal.psu.edu/~j5j/videos/FirstThursday.ram to give you a taste of the night.