2007 Apr #2 | Moving to Houston

Gotta love going to the post office. There was only 1 clerk helping people, too.

You have to pull one of these off and wait until your number was called. I was pretty bored, so I started folding it into different shapes.

Then I tried making it "stand" on the floor using its "legs." Even better, I figured out if I blew behind it, I could make it scoot across the floor. So for the next 15 minutes I practiced aiming it and seeing how far I could get it to go accurately.

Two pregnant women eventually came in. Everybody joked that they were going to deliver there. Actually, the meter my truck was parked out ran out of time while I was in line (the max was an hour), but I didn't dare to leave to put more money in because she might call my number, skip over me, and then make me get a new number.

I hate automatic doors. If you're going to go through them, they never open fast enough. And it drives me nuts when I'm just walking by a place on the sidewalk and the doors open. I'll walk right by the road just to prevent that.

A great barbeque place in Berkeley. They have tons of hilarious bumper stickers on the walls.

I was sending a package by FedEx or UPS and I noticed this tape roller right by the scale. I'm thinking to myself, "Hmm, if I were to 'accidentally' nudge it over under my package so the scale showed half as much... naw, the guy running it surely would notice."

Presents I made for my coworkers out of Selby belt buckles and pheasant feathers.

My favorite view of San Francisco: crossing the Bay Bridge with the Financial District on the left and the Golden Gate Bridge on the right.

The automatic postage machine was broken at the post office, so I went and stood in line. This lady was filling out a form on a counter and yelled at me that the line was behind her, even though she was nowhere near the line. I just about started a big discussion with her about lines: how she might once have been in the line, but now she was out of it; she should have moved with the line while she filled out her form; if you sleep overnight at outside a videogame store to get the newest system but sleep through the store opening and the line moves without you and wake up at the edge of the store with the end of the line now right outside the door you're not still in the line; I was going to draw a line, leave a space, and then draw another line right behind it and ask her how many lines there were, to which she would have to answer "two," proving my point that once you leave a big space in a line you're no longer in it; etc. But I didn't want her going nuts on me, so I just kept my mouth shut.

It fits just fine.

This black Dodge Viper was weaving all around cars trying to go fast; he almost had two collisions. And after about 10 miles, he was still right beside me, even though I just stayed in the left lane.

On the way from California to Texas, I tried to drive at night to avoid traffic and to keep the truck cool. On Highway 10, which was a 3-4 lane road in each direction at this point, they decided to have road construction at midnight and it went down to 1 lane, which really slowed everything down.

At that time of night, almost all of the traffic are semis.

In Texas there was an inspection station. I could see having one right at the border, but not in the middle of the interstate. Actually, since I had all my stuff covered with blankets, I figured the truck would look suspicious, but they just waved me through. I could have had a ton of Mexicans with cocaine hiding under those blankets instead. Talk about missed opportunities.

On some parts of Interstate 10 in Texas the speed limit is 80mph, which is the highest in the US. Trucks have to go about 5mph slower than other vehicles, though, which is nuts. The major cause of accidents isn't sheer speed, it's the difference in speed between vehicles, so if you force people to drive different speeds, you're just making everything worse.

You really can't read it, but the sign in this gas station said that the porn magazines were only for paying customers, not for employees to browse through when business was slow.

Honestly, who would ever use two whole packets of syrup on the McDonald's pancakes? I use about 1/4 of one. Two would kill you on the spot.

If you're at a red light, and there are no other vehicles within sight coming in the other direction, you should be able to go. We sat here for 2 minutes and not a single car passed going the other way.

I called the Domino's listed on the key card for the motel room. Apparently they now have an automated system that takes your pizza choice before you actually talk to a person, which takes forever. So I spend 5 minutes telling a computer what I wanted, and when I finally was connected to a person to give her my address, she said they don't deliver there. Uh, you're on their key cards...

Even though there was a huge sign saying "Watch your step," I didn't notice it at all, and just about cracked my back in two when the ground was 2 inches lower than where I thought it would be.

On the left is Sandy Courson, who was an apartment locator recommended by UHCO. On the right is someone showing us around this apartment. Sandy showed me about 5 different complexes, each with about 4 different rooms. Craigslist isn't nearly as good here; the apartments they listed weren't too good, so I'm glad I had her help.

The apartment I finally decided on. I thought the big windows were neat, but the main reason I chose it was because it has the easiest and shortest route to the university.

The kitchen is pretty good, and I like the little open space to the living room.

The bedroom, with the same windows.

Lots of storage space in the closets.

And it looks down onto the courtyard and pool. I was getting somewhat annoyed because all the places she was showing me had pools, and I was thinking I don't want a pool if I can get a place that's a lot cheaper without one, but then we did go to some places with pools, and they were the same price or even more expensive.

The apartments have, however, the single most confusing layout I have ever seen. This is the first door you go through to get to my apartment from the main entrance. The ground floor apartments are 400s for some reason.

Then you go through this door. Notice the numbers are still all goofy for being on the first floor.

This is the door right next to mine.

And this is mine. Wait, 310 to 274? I walked around for 15 minutes the first time I arrived just trying to find my own apartment.

Thankfully, there is a parking lot right outside my door which should be completed in a few months. Doesn't help now when I need it the most for hauling beds and things, but it should be nice later on.

There are a couple of things I don't like about the apartment, though. The main one is I hate bathroom lights like these; they're way too hot. I've taken out every other one, which helps some. Also, the sink has a really flat bottom, which means stuff tends to sit there rather than being swept down the drain by the last of the water, which drives a clean freak like me batty.

Apparently a few people have put twenty dollar bills or something in here and expected change. Well, they took care of that.

Ah, Texas drivers; where to begin. When I was in South Dakota, and I saw a California license plate, I always assumed the driver was crazy. After living in California for a while, I realized they have an excuse: the laws permit and often require them to drive like that. U-turns anywhere, pulling over to the far right side of a lane to turn even though there's another car in the same lane going straight, etc. When I saw Texas plates in South Dakota, I always assumed the driver was, well, an asshole. Unfortunately, it appears that is true. Maybe it's caused by them being very aggressive or something, but Texans are jerks about driving. Merging is a prime example.

In California, everybody notices a merge is coming up and makes spaces for each other so they can merge way ahead of where it's required. This is not only the decent thing to do but it also keeps traffic moving. In Texas, nobody tries to merge until they're 2 feet away from the end of the lane, and even if they wanted to, the other drivers probably wouldn't let them in earlier. Which means traffic grinds to a halt any time lanes have to merge due to construction. So Texans deserve every bit of traffic jam they get since they bring it upon themselves.

You can also tell there aren't any pedestrians here, since everybody stops in the middle of the crosswalks. If you tried that in California, some walker would probably bust your lights.

Another thing I've noticed while driving around is Texas radio stations censor a whole lot more than stations in California. Half of most songs on the contemporary stations are bleeped out. In California, they do it to a few of the nastiest words, but in general they allow stuff. Oh well; freedom of speech isn't a very important right anyway.

I was buying things at Wal-Mart and left my cart to go get something down an isle that was filled with other shoppers. I tend to do that a lot; it's a lot easier to park a cart and bring stuff back to it rather than push it through everybody. This time, however, half of the things that were in the cart when I left were gone when I came back. And they were really random things, too; not stuff someone would normally have on a shopping list (like those big globe bulbs for the bathroom; almost nobody uses those). I wonder if a Wal-Mart employee thought the cart was abandoned and started taking things to put back. Although they didn't put them back on the shelves; I checked. It was easy to find all the stuff again because I had a list, but it was pretty weird.

One of the first things to buy after moving: a hair dryer. They're great for melting the glue on the stickers that are on everything so you don't have to sit and scrape at little chunks of sticker for an hour.

This signed completely confused me when I first saw it. It should say, "Solicitating a ride, contributions, employment, or business in the roadway is prohibited." But since they didn't put in the commas, I was trying to read it as a phrase, not a list, and thinking they should change "contributions" to "contributes" and put an "and" after "roadway."

Again, the total disdain for pedestrians in Texas is evident.

I love these plants because they smell really good. I never knew what they were, though, until I saw them in Home Depot. They're jasmine. For some reason I had gotten it into my head that jasmine was some other, weird-looking plant that didn't smell good at all and I had to take a few minutes to reset my brain. Kind of like back in high school when Mr. Fahrni pronounced parietal with the emphasis on the second syllable when I had always thought it was on the third (sometimes book learning can be problematic). It takes a while for your neurons to reset themselves on something you've "known" for years. But anyway, now I have a few of them in my living room, until they die within a month because I can never keep anything alive. They're pretty much all brown rather than white already and it's only been a week.

It's pretty hard to miss this restaurant. Last time I checked armadillos didn't have horns, though.

The sign at this T-intersection completely freaked me out for a few seconds. It says only turn left or right, and it's obviously for traffic coming from the other direction, but since it was twisted towards me, I thought I could only turn left or right (onto the grass) and couldn't go straight on the road.

I couldn't get the dishwasher to work, but apparently you have to flip this switch to turn it on. So I went to tell the management the dishwasher was broken and they said, "Did you hit the switch?" and I'm thinking, "What switch?" I had flipped it a few times when I first moved in, but as far as I could tell it didn't do anything. It turns out the dishwasher actually was broken, though, because it didn't get any water to it. A handyman fixed it in a few minutes, though.

This, on the other hand, is something I can fix on my own without having to worry about flooding the apartments below me. The living room wasn't cooling down at all when the air conditioner was on, but that's because the slats were aimed at the ceiling. Nothing a screwdriver and a little prodding can't fix.

Braeswood is an east-west road that runs just south of where I live. Sometimes it splits into North and South Braeswood. For some reason, North is fine, but South is horrible; there are holes and patches with steep edges and everything. It's almost undriveable.

So I have to wait outside until a seeing eye dog happens by and have him take my packages in for me? The sign does apparently prohibit humans from entering.