Sunday, September 25, 2005

Arrg, We've Been Burgled!

More details to follow, but I will say that once I got through to a real human being at the end of the insurance logic tree, she asked, "Is this a loss/liability claim?" or some other insurance-ese that threw me aback for a moment. Uh, didn't she already know what I wanted? Did I not punch the right numbers on the phone keypad and say "yes" and "no" at the right times?

Apparently not, so I told her, "We've been burgled."

"You've been WHAT?!" she said.

Obviously I am not enunciating clearly in my state of shock. "We . . . have . . . been . . . burgled."

"What's that?" she asked.

Have I reached the wrong section of insurance? Does she work in the "cosmetic repair of chipped automobile windshields department" so she doesn't recognize terms not relevant to her area of work? "Someone came into our house and took our stuff."

"Oh -- you've been BURGLARIZED!"

Sigh, she thinks not only have I been burglarized, I'm so traumatized that I'm making up words.

(this post was made possible by the loan of a sweet little graphite clamshell iBook. thanks, CH!)

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Time for another house pic

The white is white Austin limestone. We like the roof -- easy to maintain, nice surface for solar panels, no weird gables to collect leaks, etc. Someday the lawn will be a native TX wildflowers & TX plants field -- this is our stealth project. S. is rototilling the front yard little by little, covering the dirt with plastic to solarize it and cook the remaining grass, and then we're going to plant it with purple coneflower, liatris, bluebonnet, indian blanket, little bluestem, turk's cap, velvet leaf mallow, whatever will grow without gobs of water. The house at the far end of our street -- a couple blocks away -- has already done this, so our house will sort of be a "bookend" -- and perhaps the madness will spread, bwa-ha-ha!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Little Googlemapping Game

1. Think of some human construction or other geographical feature that could be seen from a satellite photo
2. Try to find it on Google Maps on your own
a. try to find it first with just your own knowledge of geography (i.e., the Great
Pyramids are across the Nile from Cairo)
b. use the hybrid map/satellite feature
c. last resort -- open a tab on your browser and find a regular map of the area

3. Variation -- find something unusual, and try to figure out what the heck it is.

Here are a couple (I couldn't get the "insert link" feature to work correctly, so you'll have to cut and paste):,31.134396&spn=0.022108,0.045540&t=k&hl=en


more to follow. . .

I Miss Bus 29 :-(

Some of my first posts were little stories that happened on Barton Hills Bus 29, which ran through our old Barton Hills neighborhood (and on to the Zilker neighborhood, then directly through downtown to UT.)

Bus 29 was the coolest bus -- it only held 20 people (30 on a really busy day, but we'd be squeezed in like sardines) and it was usually the same people every day, and we'd have the same 2 or 3 bus drivers and we all got to know each other.

My favorite bus driver was Kevin, who would talk to everyone, get us talking to each other, gossip about whoever wasn't on the bus that day (but it was good gossip, not malicious stuff), etc. At halloween he'd pass out candy, and one time he even had a picnic for the passengers of Bus 29! How cool is THAT!

The last time I rode, it was sort of sad -- Mary who worked at Schlotzsky's corporate offices no longer seems to ride (perhaps moved, downsized, new job?); Janet from the Chem dept. has retired; Kevin hardly ever is assigned to 29 anymore; a few others have moved away from the neighborhood; I didn't see the woman who works at Central Market (who works with one of my favorite physics majors, Javier); Susan from Rhetoric, but is now in Classics or Liberal Arts drives to work now; -- only Scott (not my Scott -- but the guy who is referred to as "Man on Bus" in an earlier post) and "Happy Hour Guy" seem to be the only holdovers from the Golden Era of Barton Hills Bus 29.

I don't even know what bus I can take to work now (although I need to look that up, what with the fact that I do have a 15 year old car, gas prices going up, etc.) I do know that the buses that go through Western Trails don't go directly to UT -- I'll have to -- gasp -- transfer, which will take up more time which means I'll have to -- gasp -- get up earlier. Well, I am going to wait until it gets a bit cooler to attempt this. The buses that go through Western Trails are behemoths who roar through the neighborhood without charm or personality. But who knows -- perhaps Kevin got promoted to "driving the big guys" and I'll see him there?

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Who's to the Right of Sandra Bullock?

Sandra Bullock lives/lived in Austin part of the time, and it's said she enjoys it because she doesn't get bothered by people here. (Well, until this incident.)

At least 4 - 5 years ago, Scott and I were in Waterloo Records (a local music store that has a great selection -- you can find almost any CD there, it seems.) I looked up and saw Sandra Bullock and her then-boyfriend, musician Bob Schneider. But I was cool, didn't stare, didn't rush up to her, didn't go all ga-ga -- just kept on looking at the cd bin.

A little later I moved over to the room (this place has two big rooms) that Scott was in -- I noticed Sandra again, so I whispered to Scott, "Don't look now, but to the right is Sandra Bullock."

Scott looked up, moved his head from side to side, and said rather loudly (he does have a nice, booming voice), "WHO'S to the right of Sandra Bullock?!!!"

Oh, man, the end of our coolness! I dropped my head back into the bin -- Scott said she looked annoyed or frightened or both, and she quickly scooted over to the other room. Scott is hissing at me -- "Now she thinks I'm a STALKER, thanks a lot!" Yes, that day was truly the end of our coolness!

Scott said that he thought I was making some sort of political statement. He said he wasn't aware of any particular political views she had anyway -- left, right, who knows?

Monday, September 05, 2005

playlist this week

what/who's on my playlist this instant: Daara J (hip hop in French and Senagalese); Amazing Rhythm Aces; Chimes of Freedom (Springsteen); Ledbelly; Irish Rebel Songs by The Battering Ram (Toora loora loora loo, they're looking for monkeys up at the zoo. And if I had a face like you, I'd join the British Army!); Foggy Dew (by the previous group -- we saw Joan Osborne sing this a few years ago with the Chieftans -- we loved Sinead's version, but Osborne's takes your breath away); Ozomatli; Castanets (Alejandro Escovedo cover by Los Lonely Boys); anything Patti Smith; anything Lorena McKennitt; Moonlight Shadow (Mike Oldfield); Scotland's Depraved (Wild Mountain Thyme), Charlie Sexton; too much music! too little time!

More house pics

This is our dining room/kitchen before we bought the house. We have our refurbished cherry wood dining table, and a bunch of other stuff in there now. This place has bad kitchen feng shui which I will explain later. One of these days we will do some serious remodeling, but for now this is fine.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Suspicious Activity on T. Trl.

A few months ago we received a neighborhood association newsletter that listed the items on the next association meeting, including "Suspicious Activity on T. Trl."

Since we live on T. Trl, I thought, "hmmmn, I haven't seen any suspicious activity on our street, but we just moved into the neighborhood, so perhaps WE are the suspicious activity???"

When we bought this house, there was another house for sale about a block away. We didn't even look at it, because a medical facility was being built right behind the house, and we thought that it might get too noisy. The house was a bit smaller, but it had 3 bathrooms instead of the two our house had, and it was fully carpeted, and our house had more tile and pergo (which is what we wanted.) Someone bought it within a few weeks of when we moved in, but almost immediately, put up a "For Rent" sign -- which isn't all unusual in an investor's market. (This may look like a digression, but it is pertinent.)

I wasn't able to attend the meeting -- a couple of day before my admin associate, Jesus, (yes, I hired Jesus) became ill with viral meningitis, and the day of the meeting I had a headache, so I decided to stay home. I e-mailed one of the neighborhood assn. officers, who lives across the street and asked him what the suspicious activity was, but all he said was, "Gee, I hope you don't have viral meningitis."

We forgot all about the suspicious activity on our street (which is only 2 blocks long), and we didn't see anything out of the ordinary.

Last week, S. was working in the front yard, and the wife of the neighborhood assn. officer (whom I e-mailed about the suspicious activity) came over while S. was working in the front yard. We talked about plants, work, etc., and she started to go back home, when I remembered -- "Oh! what was the 'suspicious' activity" on T. Trail??"

Well, it seems that the house up the block has been inhabited by an S/M gang -- and it isn't the fact that they have bondage parties on the weekends -- the suspicious activity is the fact that THEY DON'T RECYCLE -- they leave their beer cans & wine bottles all over the place. (place emoticon for SHOCK here!) That is absolutely the worst thing you can do in Austin! The "FOR RENT" sign has been up for months. Several neighbors have called the number and said they were interested in renting the house. The neighbors are told variously -- "oh, it is under contract" or "$5,000 deposit, $3,000 per month" (double market rents around here, I'd say) or "it's already been rented out." But the sign is still up.

Tonight as we drove home, we noticed two nicely dressed couples walking into that house. So, out of curiosity, we drove around the block and saw two more couples walk up the street toward the house -- at least they are parking in the assisted living facility parking lot and not on our street, lol!

About 12:45 this morning, S. says, "Do you want to drive by the house?" and I say, "oh, yes" even though it's not all that far -- we drive down the block -- there are now 4 cars parked in the driveway, one in front, and 2 or 3 on the side. S. drives past and keeps on driving, "so as not to look suspicious" -- we drive out at least 5 miles (on $3.20 a gallon, eeek!) -- well, we are looking for a house in that neighborhood for his parents, so that justifies it, har har. When we drive back past the house, we notice that most of the windows have soft lights in them (candles?) and the garage is lit up but the garage windows are draped with red fabric. So what's going on here? Do the submissives have to park a block away?

This neighborhood is really getting interesting. It's nice to not be the suspicious activity in the area for once.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Our New House

In March, S and I bought a new house (above). Real estate in Central Austin is getting a bit pricey, so this is all we could afford. We figured that after a few years of house payments, we'd have enough invested in the house that we could get one of those home equity loans that are always being advertised by Di-Tech and make a few improvements around the place. Perhaps windows and skylights first?

For now, it's not that bad. It's actually larger in the inside than it is on the outside -- sort of like a Tardis.