The Week #137
- Leo turned 5 years old. We had a birthday party a couple days early with the entire family at Coffee Grounds in Buda, Texas, just south of Austin. This was the first time we've had the entire family (all of my brothers and their kids) together in the same room in at least 6 years and it probably won't happen again for a very long time.
The day itself, Leo got a bit overwhelmed with all of the people and wasn't feeling very well. He slept half of the afternoon and we woke him when it was time for cake – you can't cut the cake when the main person isn't in there.
The entire party was Mario themed and we had a lot of Mario decorations up in the house.
Presents wise Leo scored – 5 years worth of presents. He got Lego Luigi, Lego Mario, Lego Luigi's Mansion, a Tanuki suit, and more. I have no idea how we're going to get all of it back to Japan.
- We went to the Children's museum with my mom and we had a lot of fun. They had this pneumatic tube display where you could put in a ball and it would flow through the airways and come out of a given location. It had two valves you could adjust that would change the flow of the air and hence the location it would pop out at. I think we probably spent 30 minutes on that one display.
- We hung out with my younger brother Jacob at The Domain. The domain is privately-owned high density residential/retail/office area in Austin. Effectively it's like the owner of a mall bought a huge chunk of land and started playing sim-city, trying to recreate what would normally occur "naturally". It was trying to become a "second downtown". When we lived in Austin, a decade ago now, we lived in phase one. I'm amazed about how much it's changed – it's gotten so much bigger. There's more to do.
Mostly we sat and drank a cola at this burger place because they had a playscape inside their shop. This is the rub, because it's (the domain) are all privately owned, there are no parks or other such amenities you'd expect if it was a regular neighborhood. Instead, everyone's collecting rent and everything costs money. But, at least it's (mostly) walkable.
- We also went to San Marcos, a bit further south of Austin, where Yumi and I (and Sophie🐶) met. The entire college campus area has been re-developed and I'm not a huge fan. The new shiny buildings with heaps of different restaurants are nice, but it's lost the charm and character of yore. I should've known it was going to happen when our little hole-in-the-wall Mexican joint, El Charro (which was next to a used tire store), was replaced with some place selling fancy mixed cocktails. College towns should be a bit dirty, no?
Valentino's, the pizza place in the square is a good example. "In the old days" the store was classic 80's / 90's pizzeria. Walk in and it's a bit dark, there's some arcade games, and a random selection of hair bands are playing. When you placed your order you could feel a little bit of disdain and instead of a number you get a playing card. That's all gone. Now it's bright and airy. There's a proper bar, not just "pint or pitcher" for beer. And full wait staff. It feels wrong.
But, most critically, the pizza – the pizza hasn't changed. They still make the dough in house and it still crisps up just so. Maybe not all change is bad.