Austin education company accidentally sends out email with cats as featured event speakers

It happens to the best of us.

 (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

General Assembly Austin, a company aimed at educating adults and companies to help with career development and hiring, simply wanted to promote its upcoming panel between some of Austin’s hottest designers, but they got a little too excited when sending out the email around noon Thursday: Turns out the featured speakers for “Inside the minds of brilliant Austin designers” are a little, well, four-legged.

Whoever writes General Assembly’s emails apparently likes to have a bit of fun with their placeholder text and also seems to have a bit of animosity toward his or her furry friend—and the cat seems to have an issue with its owner playing League of Legends or looking at their phone too much. Just another day in the life of a cat owner.

The company quickly recognized its error, correcting it a little more than an hour later with another email saying, “Well, this is embarrassing. At GA, we love cats almost as much as we love sending emails, but some creative placeholder copy slipped by us before we deployed today’s email for our upcoming event. We’re still finalizing the lineup of some awesome speakers—we hope to see you April 12!”

UT students launch the world’s cutest business selling memory foam corgis

Meet Waffles.

He’s a corgi made of memory foam, and he’s the product of a new business venture from two University of Texas students, Sherill Feng and Andy Shaw.

Courtesy Memory Plush / Kickstarter

According to CultureMap Austin, the two students launched a Kickstarter last month to start selling the adorable cuddle buddies, raising more than $24,000 with nearly a month left in the campaign.

According to the Kickstarter, the idea came from their childhood: Kids tend to love their stuffed animals pretty hard, leading to heartbreak when they fall apart.

“We were motivated to solve plush losing shape when washed, used as a pillow, or cuddled with. We created Memory Plush, memory foam plush (the name is literal), to solve this tragic issue that plagued us when we were young and continues to plague millions of children in America every year,” the website reads.

Why a corgi? It’s simple: Feng loves dogs, especially this short-legged breed. But the couple plans to make various dog breeds, from pugs to blue heelers to mixed breeds.

You can get your own Waffles if you pledge $39 to the couple’s Kickstarter, and if you pledge at least $54, you can get a name embroidered on your Waffles. If you don’t have the budget for your own fluffy friend but you still want to help them out, a $5 pledge gets you an adorable Waffles sticker, and $10 gets you a magnet AND a sticker. So you can have Waffles with you always.

Austin ranked among best cities in the South

Southern Living rolled out its lists of the “South’s best” last week, and even though Statesman food critic Matthew Odam argues Texas isn’t actually a part of the South, many Texas and Austin staples have earned a place on the magazine’s various lists.

The ‘atx’ sculpture is in front of the downtown Austin Whole Foods store.

The magazine ranked Austin No. 7 on its list of best cities in the South, writing, “Musicians might still head to America’s live-music capital in hopes of hitting it big, but now so do those looking to launch start-ups and work in the tech industry.”

Recently, Austin has also been named super cool, hard working and—um—romantic, but this just solidifies what many Austinites already knew: That Austin is the best place to live in America. Or at least a pretty great place if you don’t count Charleston, S.C., Savannah, Ga., New Orleans or any of those other Southern cities the magazine ranked above Austin. At least it’s the only Texas city on the list.

Austin already made Southern Living’s best-of lists when the magazine ranked Jester King among the best breweries in the South, dubbed the Driskill Bar as one of the best in Texas, ranked Salt Lick higher than Franklin on its list of best barbecue joints and named Hill Country getaway Fredericksburg one of the top small towns in the South.

Love books? Austin ranked best Texas city for readers

If you’re a book lover and you live in Austin, you’re in the right place, according a Texas book publication.

Lone Star Literary Life ranked Austin the No. 1 “bookish destination” in Texas. The publication noted Austin’s ties to the poet O. Henry (he lived here in the 1880s) and the “Philosophers’ Rock” sculpture at the entrance of Barton Springs Pool, which represents authors J. Frank Dobie, Roy Bedicheck and Walter Prescott, who used to gather at the pool for “Austin’s first literary salon.”

Red Carpet Books operates a popular booth along Congress Ave for people to shop for bargain prices during the Texas book Festival Saturday October 17, 2015. The Texas Book Festival celebrates 20 years bringing as one of the largest and most prestigious literary festivals in the country. The annual festival features over 250 nationally and critically recognized authors, exhibitors, live music, local food trucks, family activities, and countless opportunities to meet authors and fellow book lovers on the Texas State Capitol and surrounding grounds.

Another top reason why Austin’s great for readers? The Capitol City is home to the Texas Center for the Book, a nonprofit which supports promoting literature and literary programs throughout the state. Austin’s status as home to several universities is also a statement to its literary prowess: The University of Texas alone has 17 libraries, plus the Harry Ransom Center, which is home to the archive of Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez. Austin is also home to 20 public library branches offering books and education to citizens, and the new Faulk Central Library is set to open in May.

Of course, the list also mentions the Texas Book Festival which takes place in the fall in and around the Texas State Capitol. The festival, founded by Laura Bush, recently hosted appearances by Jenna Bush Hager, Lois Lowry, Diane Guerrero, Maria Semple and more award-winning writers and authors.

The marquee at BookPeople during a book signing event with Bruce Springsteen on Thursday December 1, 2016. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

And a ranking of Texas book-friendly cities wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Austin’s bounty of independent bookstores like BookPeople, BookWoman, Malvern Books, Resistencia Bookstore, South Congress Books, Austin Books & Comics, MonkeyWrench Books, and Brave New Books. BookPeople, Austin’s largest independent bookstore, hosts more than 300 events every year, hosting authors and visitors like Bruce Springsteen, Hillary Clinton, Kenny Rogers, Wendy Davis and more.

PHOTOS: Bruce Springsteen at BookPeople in 2016

Austin’s not the only bookish area in Texas—also ranked in the top 10 (in order) are Houston, Dallas, Abilene, the Permian Basin, San Antonio, Fort Worth, the Rio Grande Valley, El Paso, and Angelina and Nacogdoches counties in East Texas. See the full list of “Texas’s Top Ten Bookish Destinations” here.


UT student media organization selling ‘enemy of the American people’ T-shirts as fundraiser

April 13 update: The group has now raised $20,000 to benefit Texas Student Media.

Update 3:12 p.m. Thursday: According to Texas Student Media director Gerald Johnson, the organization has sold more than 371 shirts and has received more than $10,000 in donations.

Ever since President Donald Trump declared the media the “enemy of the American people” in a tweet last month, the phrase has taken on a life of its own.

The editor of Dallas Morning News wrote a rebuttal to the claim, detailing the lives and work of the newspaper’s employees and showcasing the work they do. The Washington Post took a similar approach, mentioning a decorated war veteran who now works for the paper. Journalists everywhere reacted to the tweet using the hashtag #NotTheEnemy and pointing out members of the press who lost their lives or put themselves in grave danger while on the job.

Texas Student Media, the group that oversees student media organizations at the University of Texas, is taking the phrase to the next level, emblazoning it across T-shirts and tank tops as a fundraiser for the organization.

“Enemy of the American people since 1791,” the shirts read.

Courtesy Texas Student Media

Robert Quigley, a senior lecturer in UT’s School of Journalism, came up with the design for the shirt. He said he was “just playing around” on a T-shirt website and decided to share the design with his Facebook friends, and Texas Student Media director Gerald Johnson messaged him about the shirt, wondering if he was going to sell it.

“I told him he could have it,” Quigley said.

Johnson’s team at Texas Student Media built a website to sell the shirts and decided to use the proceeds as a fundraiser for the organization. The T-shirts and tank tops have been available for 24 hours as of this writing, but Johnson said they’ve already sold 187 shirts, raising $3,750 for the organization.

Johnson said at least seven other universities have shown an interest in participating in the fundraiser, and next week representatives from those universities will discuss a potential plan to begin selling the shirts.

Editor’s Note: Robert Quigley is a former employee of the Austin American-Statesman and the husband of the Statesman’s assistant features editor, as well as the former professor of several Statesman employees, including the writer.

This UT grad student won nearly $50K on Jeopardy!

If you’re thinking about attending graduate school but wondering how to pay for it, you might want to take a page from Kirstin Cutts’ notebook: She’s winning it all on Jeopardy!

The University of Texas graduate student won $49,403 throughout her four days of competing on the show, but was beat out Tuesday by a research editor from New York, so her run on the show is unfortunately over.


Cutts told her hometown newspaper, the Gainesville Sun, that she owes her success on the show to her “pretty fantastic teachers.”

Twitter was abuzz about Cutts during her time on the show, calling her the “hottest jeopardy [sic] contestant ever?” But let’s not reduce the art education major to her looks: She’s smart, and her opponents didn’t have a chance.

Wondering what Austin looks like from space? Check out this photo

If you’ve ever lay in the grass at Zilker Park staring up at the sky thinking, “I wonder what Austin looks like from space,” wonder no more.

Astronaut Shane Kimbrough shared this image of Austin from the ISS on Twitter on Feb. 25, 2017.
Astronaut Shane Kimbrough shared this image of Austin from the ISS on Twitter on Feb. 25, 2017.

NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough shared a photo of Austin from the International Space Station on Twitter Saturday, writing, “Good morning USA! Austin Texas looking good from @Space_Station.”

You can see the Colorado River winding through town, and if you look closely, you can spot Darrell K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium, the Lions Municipal Golf Course, the Texas Capitol and yep, even the Austin American-Statesman.

In this very sophisticated drawing, you can see some of Austin’s landmarks.

According to his NASA bio, Kimbrough is originally from Killeen and is currently the commander of the Expedition 50 mission on the ISS. The crew on the expedition is currently researching “how lighting can change the overall health of and well-being of crew members, how microgravity can affect the genetic properties of space-grown plants, and how microgravity impacts tissue regeneration in humans.”

Single men and women can’t afford to buy a home in Austin, according to study

It’s not news that homes in Austin cost a pretty penny. In fact, we just reported on a recent study revealing Austinites have to make at least $52,578 to afford a home in the city.

Another new study from Property Shark reveals it’s even harder to buy a home in Austin if you’re buying one alone — that is, if you’re unmarried or otherwise unattached (or if you don’t have a friend or family member to go halfsies with on a new home).

The Austin skyline as seen looking northwest from the Lakeshore area showing the Roy and Ann Butler Hike and Bike Trail on Lady Bird Lake August 31, 2016. RALPH BARRERA/AMERICAN-STATESMAN
The Austin skyline as seen looking northwest from the Lakeshore area showing the Roy and Ann Butler Hike and Bike Trail on Lady Bird Lake August 31, 2016.

The organizers of the study gathered information on home prices and rents across the 50 largest cities in the United States and compared that information to the average incomes of men and women in the city. Then the study used the housing industry “rule” of spending no more than 30 percent of income on either mortgage payments or rent to determine whether single men and women could afford a home in each city.

It resulted in what Property Shark called a “rather bleak picture of the urban housing market,” with women disproportionately affected due to the fact that women earn significantly less than men,  making it more difficult for women to afford living alone.

However, the study revealed that neither gender can afford to buy a home in Austin, one of 14 cities that have priced out single men and women completely. It’s bad news for renters, too — the study showed neither gender can afford to rent their own one-bedroom apartment in Austin either, according to the 30 percent rule (though we’re aware that many Austinites break this rule).

Image via Property Shark
Image via Property Shark

Austin was the only Texas city on the list to have completely rendered single men and women unable to buy a home, but Fort Worth and Houston were among the nine cities with the biggest difference in average income between genders, making it easier for men to buy homes than women.

So what are the best U.S. cities to find an affordable home? Atlanta, Las Vegas and the three largest cities in Arizona – Phoenix, Tucson and Mesa – are good for both genders, the study says. For women buying homes, Detroit comes in first place, with homeowners spending only 4 percent of their income on monthly payments, followed by Witchita, Kan. and Indianapolis, Ind. Arlington, Texas is sixth on the list of most affordable cities for women.

If there’s any good news in all of this, it’s that rental rates are stabilizing in Austin, providing relief for those who rent apartments. The average monthly apartment rent in Austin is about $1,000 per month for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,300 for a two-bedroom apartment.

This traffic jam photo will make you feel way better about Austin traffic

Ask any Austin resident what the worst thing about the city is, and we’ll bet more than half of them will have the same answer: The traffic straight-up sucks. Interstate 35 was previously ranked the worst road in Texas (although it was surpassed by a Houston roadway), and people feel have really strong feelings about I-35 and MoPac (namely, the MoPac Improvement Project).

UPDATED CAPTION FOR 042916: MoPac Boulevard typically backs up for morning commuters. Mayor Steve Adler noted the road saw reduced travel times when President Barack Obama visited in March because so many workers stayed home. *** The morning commute into Austin has slowed considerably for motorists as a lane reduction on the northbound side of Mopac Blvd (Loop 1) between Cesar Chavez and Enfield Rd. has caused backups for miles. RALPH BARRERA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN

But this might make you feel a little bit better about Austin traffic: Last week, a Brazilian radio station posted a photo on Facebook of a traffic jam in São Paulo, and let’s just say it’s … pretty brutal.

OK, first of all, this looks like a literal nightmare. It looks like that Rush Hour game that your parents bought you to keep you entertained (in the car, of all places) where you had to get your little red car out of the traffic jam.

Y'know, this game. Photo: Thinkfun
Y’know, this game. Photo: Thinkfun

Second of all, how did this even happen? According to the translated version of the Facebook photo, a light was broken at the intersection after a storm that caused flooding and fallen trees in the area.

So, Austinites, just be thankful you weren’t stuck in this.

[h/t Buzzfeed]

Bee infestation causes honey to drip down walls of Texas woman’s home

A Texas woman spent several days last week cleaning up honey dripping down the walls of her home due to a bee infestation in her roof.

According to KIAH, the CW-affiliated television station in Houston, when Spring homeowner Latanja Levine called in professionals to help with her roof repair, they discovered they couldn’t fix the problem until the bees were eradicated. A hole in the roof was patched so the bees couldn’t get through, allowing workers to repair the roof, but when Levine returned home after the repairs she found the sticky sweet substance was covering her walls.

HOMESTEAD, FL - MAY 19: Honeybees are seen at the J & P Apiary and Gentzel's Bees, Honey and Pollination Company on May 19, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. U.S. President Barack Obama's administration announced May 19, that the government would provide money for more bee habitat as well as research into ways to protect bees from disease and pesticides to reduce the honeybee colony losses that have reached alarming rates. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
HOMESTEAD, FL – MAY 19: Honeybees are seen at the J & P Apiary and Gentzel’s Bees, Honey and Pollination Company on May 19, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration announced May 19, that the government would provide money for more bee habitat as well as research into ways to protect bees from disease and pesticides to reduce the honeybee colony losses that have reached alarming rates. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

“It’s coming in from the ceiling, down to the walls. I’m mopping it up, mopping in the walls. It’s all over the curtains here— just honey. They’re probably ruined,” she told KIAH. “It’s going to other walls and coming through other places and you can see it’s coming through cracks and crevices in the crown molding.”

Levine told KIAH professionals eradicated the bees by smoking them out and putting them back into their colonies. She estimated they captured about 50,000 bees — but there’s one problem. They didn’t capture the queen.