2007 May #1 | DMV, driving around

This is the only tram in Houston, and since it only runs from about the Medical Center to Downtown, it's not very useful.

These are dumb. Everybody knows the far left lane is for traffic going the other way, the middle lane is for turning only, and this lane is for traffic in this direction; we don't need lights to tell us that. The only thing these are good for is to be confused with stop lights.

These are about the only dollar stores that actually have stuff for one dollar. The other places are all dollar and up, so they really shouldn't be called dollar stores. The worst are the independent ones that have no prices on anything. I get to the front expecting the total to be around $10 and it's actually $50. Eh, no thanks.

The Galleria is the largest mall and currently has an indoor ice rink in the middle.

I kept reading the sign as "chick-uh-fill-uh" (no idea where I got that first "uh," either). And I kept hearing ads on the radio for a fast food place called "chick-fill-ay," like chick fillet. It took be a couple of days to realize they were the same and I apparently couldn't read.

Yeah, put lots of balloons on the counter so I can't see what to order.

Registering a vehicle is fun. First you have to get it tested (emissions, brakes, lights, etc) at an independent station. Then you have to go to the courthouse for registration and plates. Thankfully I have a few games on my cell phone, so I just played those. The one nice thing is that a woman working there kept pulling people with requests that didn't take very long (say, 2 minutes vs the other things taking 5-10 minutes) out of the line and sending them over to the windows on the right so they could get out of there faster.

Shouldn't it be to "City of Houston" or something? What if Paul decides to take off for the Bahamas some month?

What a wonderful combination. New check-out person who doesn't know any of the fruit/vegetable codes + guy in front of me with 500 separate bags of it.

I hate Home Depot's self-checkouts. Wal-Mart's work fine: you scan your item, toss it in the bag, and go onto the next one. At Home Depot you scan your item, put it in the bag, have the machine tell you to put the item in the bag, wait for it to register that you did already, have the machine tell you again, take the item out and put it back in making sure you press on it so it registers the weight, sit there for a minute, and then scan your next item. It takes forever. And this location doesn't even have any registers manned by people.

This guy dumped a ton of cans on the ground and then drove back and forth over them to squash them. He even had a rake so he could drive beside them and push them back together if they started to roll away.

Ah, the glorious DMV at opening. Actually, this was stupid on my part. I showed up right at opening, so I got stuck at the end of the line that was waiting. You should either show up way before opening and be one of the first in line or a few hours later after the line has died down.

This pregnant lady on the left kept going outside to smoke. I didn't know people did that anymore; I was completely dumb-founded and just stood there with my mouth hanging open. She probably went to the gym afterwards for her daily boxing match followed by a night of heavy drinking.

The lady behind the counter with the silver-ish hair was really mean. She kept getting really pissed at people who weren't sure what to do. I was standing behind a couple, and after 5 minutes of being there, she told me the line was over there. So I went to stand in front of that line (which wasn't there when I first got behind the couple), and she said I had to go to the back. I mentioned I was there before those people, and she said she didn't know that and I had to go to the back. I glanced at the people in line and they all said go ahead and rolled their eyes at her. Two seconds later she said next and I went and got my number from her.

My apartment complex has a gate that you open with a little card, and it's so nice being behind people when it's pouring rain so you don't have to open your windows. People without cards wait on the right for someone with a card to come by. And it says only 1 car at a time, but you can usually get 3-5 in at once, and I bet you could get 10 if everybody moved along quickly enough. Plus, if the gate is closing and there is a car in the way, it opens back up again. Which means every once in a while you'll see someone going 75mph or so to get in the gate's way before it closes so they don't have to use their card.

Roads that go under highways always have 2 sets of lights: one before the bridge and one right after it (basically under it). They're always timed so that if the first one turns green and you speed up and drive normally, the second one will turn green right as you get to it. Well, almost always. I did come across one in a little out-of-the-way deserted place where I almost ran through a red on the second one because it didn't turn. It finally changed like a minute later. So now I'm always thinking in the back of my mind that they might not change.

Not getting through here; a tree fell across the road. Houston can actually get hurricanes, so that could be fun.

I bought a dresser and needed some way to get it from my truck to my apartment. They have elevators, so that helps, but I didn't want to drag it across the ground. I thought I would buy a dolly from an office supply store, but they were at least $75. I was wandering around Wal-Mart and spotted a creeper (the things you use to go under a car) for $20, and it worked even better than a dolly for big things.

This is why you don't buy the cheap candy. Two gummy rats? Where are my 10 pieces of fruit snacks?

One of the perks of owning your own business: a 2.5-hour lunch break.

Don't tell Mom about this: it's a duck pond right next to the closest Wal-Mart.

A house near my apartment that has big windows in front, which I always think is neat. There are actually a lot of areas with really nice homes, especially coming from California where housing prices are insane.

A nearby soccer field. So far I've only seen kids and leagues playing here; hopefully I can find some pick-up games.

These little black balls get all over my truck. I think they're from the trees at the apartment complex, so I try to park under the covered areas to avoid them. They're especially annoying because they don't get sprayed off at the car washes; you actually have to scrub them off.

At Wal-Mart there are 2 lines here: one for returns and one for money orders. It's a good idea because returns take under a minute while money orders seem to take about 5 or so.

I didn't know people willingly ate cactus; I think of it as a last resort if I'm dying in the desert.

This woman had 2 phones going at the same time, one on each ear.

I don't think those clocks are completely accurate. It reminded me of the country song It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere by Alan Jackson. Uh, no, it's only 5 o'clock somewhere if it's exactly on the hour here; the other 59 minutes it's not.

Since one of the parking areas is closed, people are parking all over the place, including all of the reguarly no-parking zones. Management told people they could, and it seems to be working OK. Except when you have a big heavy piece of furniture and need to wheel it up the ramp which someone has parked right in front of. What if someone in a wheelchair comes home?

The lane in the middle between the barriers is a faster HOV lane. However, it doesn't have many exits that I can see, so I'd probably drive 10 miles past my destination.

A semi in front of me trying to turn onto a road where traffic never stops. Yeah, we're not going anywhere for a while.

Downtown Houston from the north.

Want large, cheap picture frames that cost $20 at Wal-Mart or Target? Get them at a dollar store and toss the pictures in them.

Google Maps has added "my maps," which allows you to put down a bunch of markers and even draw lines and things. The main thing I use it for is rummage sales; these are the ones I was interested in one weekend.

In the Bay Area, the hippies start their rummage sales at 9am. Here, lots of them start at 7am. It was 8:47 when I drove by this one. Apparently it started at 9am and they weren't letting anybody cross the back of their minivan until that time exactly, so people just stood there waiting. I'd have to see something specific I wanted pretty badly before I'd do this at a garage sale.

I think almost all traffic jams that make you stop completely are caused by accidents here; there might be a few times where the sheer number of cars makes people slow down in fear, but at least you're still moving. But when a lane or two is blocked by a crashed car, there's not much you can do. You'd think they'd at least push the car off to the side so traffic could get going again.

I hate signs like this where you can barely read the address. It's usually something like 40 blocks that way.

I thought this was a neat, bright dress. It caught the attention of almost everybody in the store.

That's the road I want to be on, the one 50 feet in the air. It's a good thing I drove my flying car today so I can merge onto it.

It's pretty hard to miss the Ikea store. I'm not sure why they have that tall skinny building off to the left side. Air traffic control?

I need to be on the freeway right in front of me. I can't go straight, though; I have to go right and a few miles to merge onto it. I wonder how fast I'd have to go to ramp across 20 feet of air?