Austin 5th-drunkest vacation destination in Instagram post study

Austin is the 5th-drunkest vacation destination in the world, one not-quite-scientific study suggests.

But before we toast to that, we need to acknowledge the study’s sober source.

The analysis comes to you from the folks at alcoholic.org where you can browse their entire website and never lose sight of the number to call for treatment options (1-888-919-3845, if you feel the need).

You can also check out their list of famous alcoholics, from Steven Tyler to Stephen King.

But if you’re not on the wagon, let’s take a look at the drunk vacation study.

First off, it was done by analyzing “1,000 Instagram posts focused on travel (tagged with either #VacationMode or #Vacay) in 143 cities to find out which destinations produce the booziest vacation shots.”

So, that works in Austin’s favor, where it’s likely that the younger visitors are more willing to use Instagram and to pose for boozy selfies.

Austin is at No. 5, coming in behind Los Angeles and ahead of Stockholm, Sweden. The top 3 (or bottom 3, if you’re serious and sober) are Portland, Denver and … predictably … New Orleans.

The study showed that nearly 1 in 10 Instagram vacation shots in Portland, Oregon, featured alcohol. (FYI: Alaska Air does offer direct flights from Austin to Portland.)

And, because the folks at alcoholic.org are very thorough, here are a few more results …

  • Sweden is far and away, the country with the greatest number of alcohol-related pictures in the study, while Morocco is a the bottom of the list. (You can buy Casablanca Beer in Morocco, and even booze in some places, but public displays of drinking in the predominantly Muslim country is not going to go over well.)
  • Spring and summer feature more alcohol-related pictures (think Spring Break).
  • Alcohol-related pictures average half as many “likes” as ones that do not feature alcohol.
  • People who post pictures of alcohol are more likely to use an Instagram filter. Really.
  • And the most popular filter (no, we are not making this up, it’s in the study) for alcohol-related photos is “Clarendon” — which is also the first filter on the app.

In billboard battle, it’s Yeti vs. MoPac expansion project

Take that, MoPac!

Austin-based Yeti Coolers takes a swipe at the ridiculously past-due MoPac expansion project in a new billboard that has popped up atop its flagship store on South Congress Avenue.

The billboard, which advertises the new Yeti Jug, features a brief checklist with a sick burn for the team that’s been working on MoPac seemingly forever.

The Yeti Jug, the company says in its ad, is virtually indestructible. It also keeps ice all day. It does not, however, know when MoPac will be finished.

Then again, no one seems to know when that’ll happen, including the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, which has given several estimated completion dates that have come and gone.

The contractor who handled the bulk of the project, according to the authority, has been fined millions.

And, yes, in case you were wondering, @EvilMopacATX has weighed in:

This, of course, isn’t the first time a Yeti billboard has generated buzz. Check these out:

Mayor Adler sends tongue-in-cheek response to man upset over ‘Wonder Woman’ screening

Austin Mayor Steve Adler used a witty approach Wednesday in responding to an email he received last week, in which the writer voiced his opposition to the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema’s plans to host two women-only screenings of the movie “Wonder Woman” on Tuesday.

GAL GADOT as Diana in the action adventure “WONDER WOMAN,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

The writer called for a male boycott of the entire city of Austin.

“I hope every man will boycott Austin and do what he can to diminish Austin and to cause damage to the city’s image,” he wrote. “The theater that pandered to the sexism typical of women will, I hope, regret it’s [sic] decision. The notion of a woman hero is a fine example of women’s eagerness to accept the appearance of achievement without actual achievement.”

You can read the rest of his musings here – because Adler posted the exchange on his blog – if you’re interested in hearing the writer’s thoughts on makeup, military service, the Olympics, inventors and the “women’s movement.”

Adler decided to alert the writer “that your email account has been hacked by an unfortunate and unusually hostile individual.”

“Please remedy your account’s security right away, lest this person’s uninformed and sexist rantings give you a bad name,” Adler wrote. “After all, we men have to look out for each other!”

In response to the writer’s – possibly rhetorical – request to “name something invented by a woman,” Adler noted that “women invented medical syringes, life rafts, fire escapes, central and solar heating, a war-time communications system for radio-controlling torpedoes that laid the technological foundations for everything from Wi-Fi to GPS, and beer.”

Adler wished the writer luck in securing his email account.

“I hesitate to imagine how embarrassed you’d be if someone thought you were upset that a private business was realizing a business opportunity by reserving one screening this weekend for women to see a superhero movie,” Adler wrote.

This isn’t the first time Adler has used his blog to counteract hostile rants from members of the public. Last year, after voters defeated a referendum on ride-hailing rules that led to Uber and Lyft leaving town, Adler put up a post featuring some of the most profane tweets he had received on the topic. His spokesman said that post “speaks for itself and quite loudly.”

Scientists shocked, intrigued by this San Marcos deer chewing on human bones

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A deer chews on a human rib bone in San Marcos. Photo courtesy of the Forensic Anthropology Center at Texas State

Warning: This post includes photos of a human skeleton that may be disturbing to some readers.

The land that Texas State University uses to observe how human bodies decompose has led to a recent discovery. But this particular discovery doesn’t have anything to do with humans.

As Texas State scientists observed one deer (or possibly two different ones) pick up a human rib bone with its mouth and casually gnaw on it, “extending from the side of the mouth like a cigar,” they realized they were looking at something unusual, they wrote in a recently published paper. In fact, it was “the first known evidence of a white-tailed deer scavenging human bones,” three Texas State scientists wrote in the Journal of Forensic Sciences.

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A deer chews on a human rib bone in San Marcos. Photo courtesy of the Forensic Anthropology Center at Texas State

The focus at the Forensic Anthropology Center at Texas State is usually on the human bodies themselves, but the center decided this observation was too intriguing not to share.

“While most forensic anthropologist and taphonomists are aware that carnivorous non-human animals chew on and consume human bones, the fact that ungulate (a.k.a. hooved) species also gnaw on human bone is not as widely recognized,” they wrote.

By the time this deer got to the body – which had been donated for science – it was essentially a skeleton. Many wild animals (but not deer) are known to scavenge human remains on the 26 acres of land that the Forensic Anthropology Center uses to study human decomposition in nature. These scientists use observations such as these to help people like medical examiners who are working to determine, for example, if trauma to a body was caused by a weapon or a raccoon.

“Researchers have observed deer scavenging non-human bone many times in the past, but this is the first time we have observed it with human bones thanks to the unique research happening at the Forensic Anthropology Research Facility at Texas State University,” said one of the scientists, Lauren Meckel. “We were surprised only because we see the deer so often in the photos from our motion-sensored cameras. Usually they walk around the skeleton and sniff it a few times, but never had we seen the deer actually pick up one of the bones.”

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A deer chews on a human rib bone in San Marcos. Photo courtesy of the Forensic Anthropology Center at Texas State

LOOK OUT, TOPO CHICO: Austin’s own sparkling water set to hit stores

Look out, Topo Chico. An Austin-based upstart is coming for you.

Two years after it was first announced, Rambler limestone-filtered sparkling water is set to hit store shelves late this summer. There have been a lot of challenges along the way, but the product’s backers, including several well-known Austinites such as James Moody, say they never stopped believing.

“We had to change directions a few times,” said Moody, who owns The Mohawk live music venue and the Guerilla Suit advertising agency. “We’re so sensitive to making sure we do this right.”

Rambler will be sold in six-packs of 12-ounce cans when it hits stores late this summer.

One of the biggest obstacles was finding a place to produce Rambler. As luck would have it, Austin Beerworks recently expanded and had extra capacity at its facility in North Austin.

“They initially didn’t have any interest in working with anyone outside of their own business,” Moody said. “We approached them and when they realized there was no local option out there for sparkling water, they said, ‘We wouldn’t normally do this, but we want to work with you.’”

The sparkling water – billed as a “soda alternative” – will be sold in six-packs of 12-ounce cans. A price has not yet been set.

“Our recent brewery expansion created lots of fun opportunities for us, but helping Rambler get up and running has been the most exciting,” said Austin Beerworks co-founder Michael Graham. “The Rambler team shares our company values, passion for delicious carbonated beverages and love of all things Texas.”

While the Rambler team had initially envisioned their product in bottles, like Topo Chico, Moody said canned waters – such as LaCroix – have become more popular lately, in addition to being “better for the environment and better for economics.”

“If you look at what’s happening locally and nationally, people are actually drinking way more LaCroix,” Moody said. “LaCroix is something you have in your fridge all the time, while Topo Chicos are only once in a while.”

Moody, for instance, who says he was “hooked” on Diet Coke for many years, says he goes through 12 to 14 LaCroixs a day at work, while typically downing Topo Chicos only when he’s out and about.

In addition to Moody, the team behind Rambler includes Leo Kiely, former CEO of MillerCoors; Bill Kiely, owner and director of Windowseat Entertainment; Jay Russell, chief creative officer for GSD&M; Jeff Trucksess, a partner in Solcharge; and Dave Mead, an Austin-based photographer and director.

All say they are committed to producing Rambler with sustainability in mind. To that end, they plan to donate a portion of the proceeds to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation.

“We’re pleased to partner with Rambler, a Texas-based company that is helping to promote conservation of Texas lands and waters,” said Anne Brown, the foundation’s executive director. “We applaud Rambler for their conservation-minded approach to launching this new endeavor.”

When it debuts, plans call for Rambler to initially be distributed in the Austin area, using the Austin Beerworks distribution network. That, Moody says, means the 600 or so customers – primarily bars, restaurants, convenience stores and grocers – already carrying Austin Beerworks products will be first in line to get Rambler.

Over time, the goal is to go wider, perhaps taking Rambler into other Texas cities.

“For us to be bringing a local, healthier option to the marketplace, I’m stoked,” Moody said.

UPDATE: Campus officials confirm unnamed stab victims aren’t Greek-affiliated as flyer tells frats to ‘bash back’

Austinites on Reddit are currently discussing a flyer that was posted on West Campus.

University of Texas officials have confirmed that two victims who were injured as part of a deadly knife attack last week are not affiliated with any of the university’s Greek organizations.

The new details come as students’ fears begin to abate after unsubstantiated rumors that the stabbings were targeting Greek organizations ran rampant last week. The rumors were fueled by a series of acts of vandalism in April, the horror of the May 1 stabbings and a false report of another attack targeting members of Greek organizations.

Fears of violence against Greek organizations found apparent voice once again Monday after a flyer appeared in student-dominated West Campus urging fraternities to form safety squads under the headline: “FRATS BASH BACK.”

University officials said Monday they were aware of the flyer, but were skeptical that students were involved.

Click here to read the full story at MyStatesman.com.

 

UPDATE: Travis Co. deputies provide details on evidence leading to suspect’s arrest in attorney’s death 

http://players.brightcove.net/1418563061/r1tnyC4Q_default/index.html?videoId=5396202414001

4:30 p.m. update: Travis County officials on Wednesday laid out some of the evidence that led them to file charges against a 24-year-old man characterized as somewhat of a transient with a lengthy criminal record that is now accused of killing Austin defense attorney James Short.

Travis County investigators described the relationship between Short and Justin Nickolas Twyne, the man suspected of killing the attorney, as acquaintances. But they were close enough that Short took Twyne on a shopping trip to a South Austin Wal-Mart the day before Short was found killed, Cpt. Craig Smith said during a media briefing Wednesday.

Smith said many aspects of the crime remain under investigation, including the motive.

However, Smith said investigators have established several links putting Twyne at the scene of Short’s killing last week in southwestern Travis County. The evidence includes Twyne’s fingerprints and some of his personal property, both of which were found at the Short’s home, Smith said.

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Travis County sheriff’s detectives investigate the suspicious death of an Austin defense lawyer at his house in southwestern Travis County on Friday. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Some of Short’s belongings, including credit cards, were also found in the New Orleans hotel room where Twyne was arrested Friday, according to an arrest affidavit.

Short’s tan Chevrolet Suburban, which was missing from Short’s home when his body was found, has not been located yet. Smith asked for anyone who sees the vehicle to call authorities.

Twyne’s criminal history includes an active warrant for his arrest in Georgia on a charge of escape, which Smith said was for walking away from a work-release program.

The murder charge will take precedence, and Georgia officials have agreed to allow Twyne’s extradition to Travis County to move forward.

“Everyone agreed our charge is a much more serious crime and extradition to Travis county was the most appropriate thing to do,” Smith said. “We’re going to do it as quickly as possible.”

Smith said authorities received numerous tips after they posted surveillance footage of Twyne and identified him then as a “person of interest.” On Wednesday, Smith revealed that the footage was taken from the Wal-Mart shopping trip and that Twyne was with Short at the time the footage was taken.

Jim Short’s sister, Evelyn Proctor, told the American-Statesman on Wednesday that she talked to her younger brother daily — sometimes several times a day.

Last week, she said he went to her home and told her he was about to have repairs done on his motor home. When she didn’t hear from him again Friday morning, she drove to his home, where his body was discovered.

“This isn’t supposed to happen,” she said. “Nobody deserves this. He would have given you anything you wanted.”

Proctor described her brother as “a wonderful brother,” who enjoyed hunting, fishing and gardening. She said he also loved his legal career — particularly serving as a court-appointed lawyer for indigent clients.

He also helped her regularly perform chores at her house, or do home repairs.

In recent years, she said the two traveled coast-to-coast in his RV to see family in places such as Wisconsin and North Carolina. Last year, they went to San Francisco to see the Golden Gate Bridge.

1:15 p.m. update: Travis County Sheriff investigators have charged a 24-year-old man in the death of James Short, an Austin defense attorney found dead at his home last week.

Justin Nickolas Twyne, 24, is charged with murder. Twyne and Short had recently exchanged text messages which show that Short gave Twyne his southwestern Travis County address so they could meet at his house, his arrest affidavit says.

Twyne Justin
Justin Nickolas Twyne

The affidavit said Short was stabbed to death and that apparently Short had taken Twyne shopping at a nearby Wal-Mart the day before Short’s body was found.

When detectives arrived at Short’s house, they found a bloody knife on his bed, the affidavit says. There was also a backpack in the house, and they found Twyne’s identification inside.

Analysis later showed a bloody fingerprint matched Twyne’s fingerprint, the affidavit says.

The U.S. Marshals Task Force tracked down Twyne on Friday and arrested him on an unrelated warrant. Twyne declined to speak with a Travis County sheriff’s detective, the affidavit says.

James Short
James Short. Courtesy photo.

Earlier: Authorities have captured a person of interest in the death of an Austin defense attorney last week, sources say.

The man was detained in New Orleans.

He has not yet been identified or formally charged.

Sheriff’s investigators released photos Saturday of a man they call a person of interest in the death of Austin defense attorney James Short, whose body was found at his home in southwestern Travis County on Friday.

Investigators have said they believe Short, 74, was targeted, and that the person of interest might be driving a tan 1999 Chevrolet Suburban with the Texas license plate DRW-3438.

Deputies got a call at 11:45 a.m. Friday from someone who asked them to check on Short’s home in the 8000 block of Rockwood Circle, off U.S. 290, said Kristen Dark, sheriff’s spokeswoman.

Deputies say Short’s death is suspicious, and that evidence at the scene leads them to believe that he didn’t die of natural causes, but they have released few other details about the case.

According to his page on the Texas Bar Association website, Short earned his law degree in 1984 from Texas Southern University and has been licensed to practice law in the state since 1988.

Photos: Remember San Marcos’ Aquarena Springs? After closing, it was a ghost town

The underwater theater, gondola rides, and famed swimming pig Ralph that comprised the “waterful wonderland of sights and thrills” of San Marcos’ Aquarena Springs haven’t thrilled visitors in years. And after the park closed, it really looked like it.

7/19/99 photo by Rebecca McEntee/AA-S

While the park, which entertained families for some 40 years before closing down in the 1990s, is now without the attractions and mermaids that drew its 250,000 annual visitors, the spot briefly had a new sort of lure for one Texas photographer.

Andy Heatwole took a series of haunting pictures between 2005 and 2012, showing the springs, which had since grown increasingly reclaimed by nature, in a state of “crumbling sidewalks, fallen trees and the few decaying remnants of the park.”

“As a photographer, I’ve always been drawn to abandoned places. There’s often a palpable silence that hangs over them. That silence is present here too,” Heatwole said of photographing the springs.

READ: Mermaid trend splashes into Austin

Take a dip down memory lane here.

Though the amusement park is long gone, its former site now hosts the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment. Still a source of wet wonders, though more educational.

Correction: An earlier version of this post did not reflect that the photos in question were taken between 2005-12. The former site of the amusement park is now home to The Meadows Center.

Almost every U.S. representative from Central Texas voted for repeal of Internet privacy rule

The House voted on Tuesday March 28, 2017, largely along party lines, to dismantle rules created by the FCC requiring broadband providers get permission before collecting data on a user’s online activity. Photo by Santiago Mejia, The New York Times

On Tuesday, Republicans in Congress passed the repeal of an Internet privacy rule implemented by the FCC last year. The rule would have prohibited Internet service providers from selling the browsing history of their customers.

“The Federal Communications Commission rule issued in October was designed to give consumers greater control over how internet service providers share information,” the Associated Press reported. On Wednesday, the White House said President Trump plans to sign the bill.

Of the U.S. representatives from Central Texas, only Democrat Lloyd Doggett opposed the repeal of the privacy rule. Republican Reps. Michael McCaul, Bill Flores, Lama Smith, Roger Williams, John Carter and Blake Farenthold all voted for the repeal.

The repeal of the rule doesn’t necessarily mean your browsing history is up for bids. “Experts say federal law still requires broadband providers to protect customer information — but it doesn’t spell out how or what companies must do,” the Associated Press reported. “That’s what the FCC rule aimed to do.”

Still, supporters of the privacy measure argue that the information seen by Internet service providers — every website you visit and whom you send emails to — would be extremely useful for advertisers and marketers.

 

Austin Fire Department video shows lieutenant getting pie in the face

The Austin Fire Department had some fun with a well-known prankster at one of its fire stations recently.

While Austin fire Lt. Jerry Cohen gave an on-camera interview for the 100 Club of Central Texas, a firefighter sneaked up behind him and hit him square in the face with a pie tray full of shaving cream.

AFD posted a video of the prank to its Facebook today with the caption, “This is what happens to you when you’ve pulled this prank on others a few too many times!”

“Jerry is notorious for doing this to others, especially a fellow firefighter named Jack Morrissey who has since retired,” said Michelle Tanzola with the Austin Fire Department.

Cohen is clearly a good sport. “I deserved that,” he said with a laugh.