August 2006 Archives

i may not know karate...

in the "you learn something new every day" category: i called the Texas dept of transportation special plates division a few days ago. i found out that special characters are ignored when checking for the availability of a plate. so "HOO DOO" is the same as "HOODOO" is the same as "HOO*DOO" is the same as "HOO-DOO" is the same as "*HOODOO*" etc. geez, that certainly limits the options. so in my requests, "*HANK*" was the same as "HANK" -- and of course someone already has that. while on the phone i asked about "PH34R" and that was taken too. guess i'll be trying to think something up for awhile.

monday night i had a rather "twilight zone" conversation with the ex that had contacted me recently. i won't go into details, but once i was deep into the im session i suddenly started to have that feeling like you get at the end of the sixth sense or the usual suspects when there is the major plot twist and you were totally oblivous and you are slack-jawed and dumbfounded. that's the way i felt. i was seriously close to thinking someone was doing a major mindfsck on me. but when my mind played back everything (just like they do at the end of the movies i just mentioned) i was able to have a good bit of faith that the person i was talking to was actually my ex. what a totally bizarre experience.

and for those who may think this is merely some kind of self-induced paranoia due to the guilt you like to imagine i secretly feel over tamara, i relayed the relevant dialogue to a friend (without explaining what had been going on in my mind) and they totally thought the same thing. in fact, they pretty much had the exact same reaction and kept asking me to reveal what was going to happen at the end of the im session. so, no, it's not just me.

tuesday night i watched spellbound. it's a documentary about 8 different kids who were going to the 1999 national spelling bee. it was interesting and fun to watch. it's always interesting to see real people, and see how things compare to stereotypes you have about regions of the u.s. and immigrant cultures and stuff like that. that was the most intriguing aspect of the film in my mind. i recommend the movie.

yesterday i had to go to a sales conference here in houston for work. it was at the hotel derek, so i decided to take my truck because i wasn't sure they'd valet a motorcycle. (i've had that happen before and had to pay to park somewhere else even though the valet service was going to be comped.) the event was pretty boring because i don't work with the hardware or software, and really don't have any say in much of anything about it. but i ate some free food and got paid to sit around in a hotel conference room doing very little. at least i didn't fall asleep.

when i left, a young valet kid went to get my truck and he evidently had no idea how to shift gears in it. another valet came up and asked me if there was some special trick to my truck because the valet was having problems with it. i started smiling and walking toward the truck. during the minute or so it took me to get to it, no less than 4 valets had all congregated around my pickup. a new valet had already jumped in it and started it, but he had put it in reverse. meanwhile the older valet and i were trying to explain to him where first was. eventually he got it figured out and drove it out of the parking spot and the thirty feet to me, then i showed them what the pattern is on a "three on the tree". that was kind of funny.

speaking of my truck -- i feel like i'm getting very poor mileage. like crazy poor. but i haven't kept track of the odometer, so i won't be able to see how many miles i'm getting to the gallon until after the next time i fill up...

old trucks are like a relationship...

on friday my truck starting sputtering when i accelerated. it'd never done that before. i thought maybe it was bad gas, so i ran the tank down to empty and then filled up at a new station. it got better the more i drove it, but it was still doing it some so i decided to try changing the fuel filter. the filter in it was not the stock filter, but an easy to replace in-line one, so i popped it out and took it to autozone and advanced auto parts. neither had the model that had been in it (g2). oh well, i just picked one that looked to have the same size nozzle connections (g478) and bought it and put it in. the truck appears to be running better, but i'm not sure if it was the gas, the fuel filter, or something else. time will tell, perhaps. (and also tell if i chose poorly.)

in my last post i didn't explain that as far as the stuff with the house goes, it's not that i'm particularly upset about them taking some time to take care of things. i've taken some time, so that's cool. one problem i have with that though is any time taken costs *me* money, not them. i.e., i have to fix things, i have to pay the rent, etc. sure, they don't get cash in hand as soon, but the house is building equity every month that goes by. so there's that. the big problem i have though is that whenever the ball is in my court they get pushy and aggressive, then when it's their turn to take care of some business they seem to not care at all about updating me or getting it taken care of promptly. so it'd be nice if they wanted play the promptness angle that they'd be prompt themselves.

let's take the qdro as an example. (i forget what the acronym stands for, but it's the document that legally allows them to pull assets out of my retirement fund). it was around 7 months from the time we settled to the time they created the 3-page, standard qdro document. after i had it 30 days, they sued me. i was actually in the process of taking care of it when i found out they had sued me (which is neither here nor there), so i took care of it and got in touch with them and sent it to them. i called them to verify everything was cool and i'd done my part. 2.5 months go by and the money still isn't pulled out. i'm wondering why, so when the house issue comes back up i ask them about it. they say they're having a hard time getting in touch with my retirement company but they'll call me soon and let me know an update. that was 2 months ago and i've not heard from them. a few days after the conversation i got a letter where they submitted the qdro to the courts. at the same time, i was talking to my retirement people and that's when i learned they need a court approved document. so the attorney's office took 2.5 months to submit the exact document i sent them, as is, to the court. i was told the document should take about 2 to 3 weeks to get through the court. it's been 8 weeks and the money's still in there and i've not gotten any update. are they sitting on it? i don't know.

so let's tally the amount of time each of us has been in the position of responsibility: me: ~1.5 month, them: ~10 months. yet who's the one who got sued for not moving fast enough? you'd think with that kind of obvious double standard they'd feel guilty for trying to push me around, but evidently it doesn't phase them.

of course, another thing to note that the way the wording the qdro, they get everything minus a set amount that's still mine. what that means is that any interest my money makes, they get it. so as long as the fund is doing well, they're making extra money off of my money the longer they take.

now, on to better things...

after doing some work this evening, i headed over to the flying saucer to meet brad, kelli, and jason, who were having a party or get-together or whatever for their roommate who is getting married. i showed up late, and jason was leaving. other people had left, so it was just brad and kelli, me, and two other couples. i'd stopped by the cigar shop and picked up some cigars -- a couple of cojimar vanilla sugar-tips, a havana honey, a cao something-or-other, and a pack of pina colada phillies (since i didn't know how many people would be there). it ended up working out well, and the cigars were a hit. i didn't really know the other couples (i'd met the ones getting married a couple of times), but they all seemed like cool people. i hope their marriage turns out better than mine did.

i hate to sound desperate (or perhaps i should say more desperate), but it'd be really nice to go on a date one of these days. but i don't want to go on a date for the sake of going on a date. oh well. it's not like i didn't spend years being dateless. it's just different after you've been married, if you miss that level of companionship and familiarity with someone. which i guess it goes without saying that i do. oops, i said it anyway. here's hoping it's worth the wait. which assumes that the wait ends, of course. : )

that's the way i roll

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i watched little miss sunshine thursday night. that is one awesome movie. it reminds me of a lot of things i like about various films -- the characters are quirky, it deals with complex issues but not in a syrupy or fake way, it runs the whole range of emotions and situations and isn't just a comedy or drama or whatever...it's just good. the whole talent scene at little miss sunshine had me laughing so hard i was crying. i'm talking for minutes. i need other people to see it so i can talk about the movie with them!

one thing i find humorous is that a lot of people will probably think the little miss sunshine stuff is overplayed and exaggerated. having gone to that miss teen pageant in san antonio a year or two ago, i can tell you it's not. the people running it are like that, the m.c. is like that, the music is like that, the contestants are like that, and the people in the audience are like that. scary, but true.

thursday night i was contacted on myspace by a former girlfriend. no, not the one that contacted me on there a couple of months ago -- a different one. i've only got one or two more ex's to go. (my dating history is neither long nor illustrious...shocking, i know.) the last one contacted me again after ~12 years, this current one after 9+ years. i'm pretty sure one of them will never have a myspace account. and i wouldn't be surprised if the last of my ex's never contacts me. (and unless she's looking to seek forgiveness and reconcile then i don't think i'm too interested anyway.) of course, i kind of figured i'd never hear from any of them again, and look where i am now.

friday after work i went to the west alabama ice house with a coworker and met chris and mary there. i keep saying this, but that place is pretty cool. i also have given in and started buying tamales from the tamale guy that wanders around selling them, a dozen for $6. those things rock!

not too long after waking up saturday, i got a call from the realtor i'd talked to about selling the house. she said she'd finally gotten the paperwork back from tamara. she'd signed all of it except the sellers' disclosure, which she hadn't signed and evidently had written a note saying she couldn't sign it because she hadn't been in the house in so long and didn't know the condition of it. :|

[side-note: they threatened to sue me after i'd not let them know what was going on for 3 weeks -- my responsibility was to fill out the sellers' disclosure (pretty much all work in this whole situation has fallen on me), which i had already finished and had talked to the realtor and was going to mail to them, so i immediately faxed it to them. well, they apparently took 8+ weeks to sign a few papers -- no filling out, no research, no nothing...just a few signatures and initials -- and i never heard a peep from them during that whole time. nothing. creating double standards appears to be their most notable quality. but that's another post i've yet to write. oh, and will i write it...]

it's funny how selective tamara's moral switch is about being on or off after starting the affair and choosing to divorce me. signing a settlement document about money in front of witnesses, but she has no intentions of following through with? no problem! taking half of 1.5 years of my retirement money, equity in the house, car, savings, etc. when she'd contributed nothing, was in california with alistair continuing the affair, and claiming she'd earned and had not one penny during that time? no problem! lying to me and mutual friends over and over about her intentions and actions? no problem! shirking her responsibility for all of her property she left behind in the house? no problem! apparently not letting her attorney know about the condition of the house before we split? no problem! but signing a document about the condition of the house (pretty much all of which she would have known about because it was all in that condition before she was gone)? oh no, now that just wouldn't be appropriate! what a riot. (actually, i wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't on advice of her attorney or friends who told her not to do that out of some attempt to have a legal out over something or another, or perhaps for the later opportunity to make claims against me somehow. they're nothing if not an industrious lot.)

when i got the mail saturday i learned NONE of my three license plate selections were available. or at least that's what they're claiming. since i didn't get any of them, i'll go ahead and print what they were: [1] hoo doo, [2] *hank* (where a "*" represents a state of Texas icon), and [3] h4x0r. *sigh* now i have to try and think up more. maybe i'll just go to some flea markets and try to find 1965 plates.

saturday afternoon i went looking for a texans hat. but of course i couldn't find what i wanted. why was i looking in the first place? because i really like football. even though i'm terrible about remembering to watch the games. and i really don't keep up with the season. and i'm not really one of those people who keeps stats or can talk about all the players and have an opinion on everything. i just like the game of football, and i can pretty much sit down and watch two teams i don't know much of anything about and still enjoy the game of football itself. anyway, back to the hat search. i looked for one last year but never found one that i really wanted. (based on their record last year, maybe it's not so bad i didn't have one. ;) i hate all that stuff with complex accents and strips of different colors and raised emblems and all that whiz-bang crap. i just want a flat embroidered logo on a dark cap, thank you. what i'd really like is a black cap with a greyscale version of the logo. i found a few variations on this theme, but the color selections of the logo just never seemed right. or it was on a hat made out of some weird oily spandex material or something. bleh.

what i ended up doing was finding a cap that doesn't relate to football at all that i bought for my brother because i think he'll like it. and if he doesn't, i'll keep it for myself.

yesterday evening i went over to the potts' and watched melvin goes to dinner. it's actually a movie i saw a couple of years ago. in fact, i actually had a quote from it on my answering machine for awhile. it's a movie about these four people who have dinner, and they discuss all kinds of things including spiritual stuff, sex, affairs, etc. it's actually a pretty cool dialogue-driven movie, but i can't say i agree with the views of any of the characters. anyway, when i watched it last time it wasn't too long after tamara had told me about the affair she was having and i was having a really difficult time processing it. life was totally fscked up, truth be told. so it was interesting watching the same movie after this much time had passed.

anyway, the quote in question...this guy had been having an affair (well, he wasn't married, but the woman he was involved with was), and he was talking about sometimes when he was with her, her husband would call and she'd shush him and act like she was doing whatever and talk like nothing was going on. so he said at that point he realized (paraphrasing) "you can never know for sure if at any moment you call your s.o., that they might not be alone, that they might be with someone else. even if you call them 100 times and talk with them, there is no way of knowing, and that thought -- knowing that -- really fscked me up." one of the women at the table's response was "well, that's life. people change." yeah, i had that on my answering machine. good times. good times.

of dreamers, and those who mock them

well, let's see...in the last week:

  • * i successfully got my truck registered and titled (on friday).
  • * i mailed off my request for personalized "classic truck" plates. we'll see which of my three choices i end up getting. i'm also going to look for 1965 plates. in Texas if you have a classic vehicle you can put old plates from the year model of your car. so if i can find some 1965 plates, i can use them on my car instead of modern plates.
  • * i did not successfully manage to get the title to the pea green albatross...er...vw bus...changed to just my name. i had what i thought was a certified copy of my divorce decree, but it in fact turned out to be a copy of the certified copy of my divorce decree. (i've yet to determine if what i got should have been a certified copy and my lawyer didn't give me what he was supposed to...that'd be a real shocker, though, considering the level of competency he and his office showed throughout my divorce : | .) i have a power of attorney and could use it instead, except i don't know where the stupid title is. so i either need to apply for a lost title or go get a certified copy of my divorce decree, just so i can get the title in my name so i can then try to get rid of the object i had to pay tamara half of the supposed value of since i was keeping it, even though i told everyone i never wanted it, she had wanted it, and i shouldn't be responsible for it. did anyone care? no. so i had to pay her more than i'll be able to sell it for, even though she should have been paying me and taking it her damn self. what she'd have done with it i don't know, but that shouldn't be my concern, and neither should dealing with the vehicle.
  • * i didn't end up watching the midnight showings of pulp fiction on friday or saturday night.
  • * friday after work i met up with jack and the kids, as well as chris and mary, and spent a few hours at the west alabama ice house.
  • * saturday night i spent an awkward hour or two over at jack and sue's. later that night i went to the poison girl and hung out with brad and kelli. if only there were some way for me to befriend some of these seemingly cool people. but alas, i'm a social introvert and am doomed to a life of minimal interaction with those i don't already know unless i'm forced to interact. it seems like i'd have better-developed social skills and a more positive self-image, or that i should. but it's not the case. i'm a loner, partially by choice and partially by personality.
  • * my brother came down on saturday and we watched the illusionist. i knew from seeing the preview that i liked the actors in it, but i wasn't sure about the movie itself. it turned out to be really good. i thought it felt and played out a lot like a shyamalan film, which isn't a bad thing (unless you dislike m. night's work, of course). it was also cool to hang out with my brother for a few hours, but it wasn't very long. we did manage to squeeze in lunch at sylvia's enchilada. i'm not the only one in my family who digs the place.
  • * on saturday i went by border's and used a 25% off coupon to purchase robot chicken: season one (a spur-of-the-moment decision). i watched the first few episodes during the awkward time over at jack and sue's.
  • * sunday i ate a late lunch at goode company bbq, then went to church. i even went to the mid 20's and 30's class. i do that every few weeks, i guess hoping that i will end up seeing or meeting some people there that intrigue me. so far what i've found is the typical kind of people i expect to be at church. not trying to knock them as people, but i just don't feel much of a connection. of course, it also makes me wonder if it's appropriate for me to even being going at all, if i'm not going in order to "dive into the Word" and blah blah blah. my beliefs and faith in G-d just seem to rarely be stretched, comforted, or anything else by church and the culture found there. is it a problem with me or churches? i don't know.
  • * after church i ate supper at barnaby's with raj and kiera. we're discussing my possible housing future, but there are so many variables on all sides that it's all very fuzzy.

okay, that's enough of the list format.

most recently i'm considering trying to start a band. i was a drummer for years, so hopefully i still have rhythm, but i never learned to play a kit. so i'd like to just play snare, or a very stripped down set consisting of only two or three, maybe four, pieces (which probably wouldn't include a bass drum or high-hat). add to that a bass player (preferrably stand-up bass) and one or two guitarists, with one or two doing vocals (not me!). the type of music? old and dark country, done in a more modern dark and/or aggressive way. think something along the lines of sixteen horsepower, the devil makes three, and the weary boys mixed together. i'd like to do some cash songs (of course), a couple of bob wills and milton brown selections, some murder ballads (like the knoxville girl, for example), maybe a 16hp cover or two, a couple of classic but ominous church hymns, and a few surprising covers...punk or metal or industrial or something.

it'll probably never happen -- just like most everything else i daydream about doing -- but we'll see.

the scarlett movie

monday night i watched spring, summer, fall, winter...and spring. it was really good. it's pace is pretty slow, but it's beautiful and i thought the minimal but spiritual story woven through the wonderful visuals was enthralling. the main characters are buddhist monks and there is obviously a very strong buddhist perspective in the storyline, but buddhism has some good things to say. if you can handle movies with a slow pace and don't mind watching people make choices and view the world differently than you (most likely), enjoy the beauty and symbolism of this film. sometimes i wish contemporary american culture had a stronger spiritual sense, and clung more fervently to the concepts of honour, integrity, inner peace, tradition, etc.

tonight i headed downtown to the flying saucer for triva night, then went to the angelika and saw scoop, the new woody allen film. i can't say i'm a big fan of his...out of the few movies i'd seen, most of them i didn't like too much. this one, overall, was an exception. although it felt like a pretty typical woody allen film from my minimal knowledge, i found the humor to be funnier. maybe that means i'm getting older...or perhaps more snotty about what refined tastes i have in cinema. (a joke at the expense of a lot of what i tend to feel like are the typical woody allen fans.) i also enjoyed watching scarlett johansson. unfortunately, she continues to have a mark on her in my eyes because of the movie lost in translation.

perhaps i should explain a bit...it really isn't ms. johansson's fault. i thought that movie was beautiful, and i like sofia coppola's work...but i was disturbed by the decisions and actions of the characters scarlett and bill murray played. this was at a time before i knew about tamara having the affair. we watched it together and tamara -- in a change from the views she'd always held in the past (though she'd already changed a lot by this time) -- seemed to accept their actions and think the movie was great and their choices were fine. it confused me and sort of made me upset she thought such behaviour was acceptable. of course, i'm pretty sure she'd wouldn't have if she'd hadn't been exhibiting (or contemplating exhibiting) such behaviour at that point in her life. six months before, maybe even three months before, she would have seen things very differently.

unless she was misleading me for years, which -- after what happened -- wouldn't surprise me too much. behaviours and actions on her part happened too many times around and after the affair and divorce for me to be too surprised by much of anything by her. of course, as soon as i say this, i'll be surprised by some new horrible thing she said or did or will say or do. that seems to be the way things work.

anyway, back to lost in translation, we saw it at 3:30pm on sept 19, 2003, at the same angelika theater (though not the same screen). i know this because i still have the ticket stub. becasue it disturbed me that much. less than one month later she confessed to me she was having an affair. the lost in translation ticket stub will be going on the back of my eternal sunshine of the spotless mind "would you erase me?" poster.

back to the present, and better days. i'm contemplating what things i may do to my new truck. i've already got three bumper stickers i'd like to put on it (one in hand, one in a known undisclosed location, and one at large), as well as the consideration of a phrase in big white old english calligraphy letters (phrase is known). plus personalized "classic truck" plates (several ideas are in the running). i might end up making it too busy and want to minimize, but for now all of these things are spinning around in the ol' noggin. my poor motorcycle must be feeling completely unloved as i've shown much less attention to it lately. however, she's still in good with me.

it's the element that should worry.

wasting time is my game

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i managed to get my truck successfully inspected on saturday. it's nice not having to deal with emissions testing. (or pay for it.) seatbelts weren't mandated federally in pickups until 1973 (iirc, and 1967 or 1968 for cars) so Texas law is if your vehicle came from the factory without seatbelts then they are not required. i knew i'd find some way to not have to wear a seatbelt. (beyond the obvious of riding a motorcycle.) now i just need to get it properly registered and titled in my name. getting it inspected and getting a vin verification form at the inspection was the first step.

i figured up the gas on my trip. assuming i got all the receipts, which i think i did, all of them had price and all but one had the number of gallons i got. so i had to guess on that one. here's the damage:

$485.03 in gas, 151 gallons used. based on a distance of 1884 miles, that's right at about 12.5 miles per gallon. i was estimating i was getting around 12 during the trip, and beforehand i'd guessed i'd spend around $500 in gas, so that all worked out pretty well. add ~$200 in hotel stays, ~$160 in airfare, ~$35 in oil, and around $12 in tolls, and total cost of the trip comes out to around $900.

friday night i watched the bad news bears (the original 1976 one). it was pretty good, but the dialogue (especially the kids) and the situations were kind of surprising, especially given when it came out. but i think it's well-documented that it caused some raised eyebrows and anger back then. it was kind of nice that it wasn't a generic feel-good movie with two-dimensional cardboard good and bad guys though. it's one of those classic movies that doesn't necessarily have a happy ending or tie up all loose ends with neat moral bows.

it makes me think people forget about the dark side or touchy aspects of films. like they just remember how funny it was, or the drug and alcohol jokes, or that kind of stuff. take, for example, fast times at ridgemont high. everyone seems to go on about how funny that movie is. but i rewatched it a couple of years ago and i was shocked that so many people seem to gloss over or forget about the very serious stuff going on in that film. i'm not going to mention it though...i'd rather give everyone else the opportunity to rewatch it and see if you have a similar experience. (granted, the movie does have some hilarious stuff in it, and phoebe cates is.... she's.... yeah....)

saturday i went by soundwaves and picked up a few cds:

  • drive-by truckers - a blessing and a curse (new west)
  • johnny cash - american v: a hundred highways (american / lost highway)
  • the knife - silent shout (rabid / brille / mute)

the knife is an electronic band, evidently out of sweden (from the liner notes). i heard a song of theirs ("we share our mothers' health") on sirius satellite channel 34 (boombox) and thought it was pretty cool. i've yet to listen through the cd enough to decide how i feel about them overall. kind of an 80's electronic sound with some dark/gothic vibe and affected female (and some male) vocals, somewhat sparse and minimalist, but with cool beats.

after that i headed to work for some maintenance window webserver upgrades. gotta pay the bills.

today i went to the alamo drafthouse and watched talladega nights: the ballad of ricky bobby. it's pretty typical will ferrell fare. i don't think it's as good as anchorman, but if you like will's humor and the zany ad-libbed dialogue he and his co-stars do in his films, you should like it. be sure and watch the credit sequence, mostly for michael duncan's (lucius) confession while will is in the hospital.

i finished the weekend by heading to the house of pies for a slice of bayou goo and some coffee.

truck trip: day five (and final)

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today was a pretty lazy day, all things considered. i got up and had some free continental breakfast, took a shower, and put up the entries for days two and three. i then packed up and headed over to bryan's smokehouse. they were just playing top 40 country radio, but i did get to hear hank williams jr.'s "a country boy can survive". i had the link plate with beans and potato salad. my mission accomplished, i jumped on 59 and headed all the way back to houston. miles today: a paltry 250 or so

odometer when i bought it: 56982. odometer in my driveway: 58866. total trip miles: 1884. states: 11.

having driven it a bit, here are some notes:

  • * i absolutely love the dimmer switch on the floorboard. why did they move this to the column? it's nice not having to move your hands, just twist your left foot and tap.
  • * the shifter being on the column, on the other hand...that one i don't miss so much. i learned in a 1976 chevy pickup with "three on the tree" and it was a hellacious experience. of course, i was also like 4.5 feet tall and had never driven before. so i can handle it this time around just fine. of course, it being on the column frees up the floor in the center, adding value to...
  • * bench seats are nice, especially being able to rest your arm across the top of it. and without the shifter on the floor, making it much easier to have someone there to rest your arm around. not that i'd know anything about that sort of thing these days.
  • * a/c seems like a really good idea after about 3 hours of driving in the middle of a hot sunny day without it. i'm sure that's double true for anyone you interact with afterward. i sweat more and drank more water in the last four days than i have in i don't know how long.
  • * not having lock knobs is both nice and not nice. i'm not sure if i like it or not.
  • * knowing there are numerous gallons of gas right behind your back is kind of disturbing sometimes. (the gas tank on these pickups is behind the bench seat, inside the cabin.)

so there you have it. my trip is finished. now i just need to get it inspected and registered, then get several thousand dollars of body work and paint done to it, and probably several thousand dollars worth of work done to the engine and drive, and several thousand dollars of chrome work. and hopefully it will continue to run well during the interim. then after all that's accomplished, maybe it'll be done and i can sell it and get another one. ;)

truck trip: day four

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today was a driving day. i left out on 278 west, then went south on 61, then west on 82 into arkansas. i hit 165 south into louisiana. i stopped in columbia for a late lunch, eating at a place whose name i forget. it was pretty rundown and dirty and local. the food was fair. it started raining while i was there, then stopped, but when i got back on the road it poured. this is when i learned there is a leak from somewhere that drips right around where the radio would be if there were one. i also learned one of the windshield wipers doesn't really go back to its lowest position like it should when you turn them off. ah well.

when i hit 84 west i decided i could probably make it to the Texas border and still have enough light for some pics. so that's what i shot for. before i got to winnfield i started recognizing some things from my motorcycle trip. except then it was dark and i was cold and wanting to stop for the night. we had stopped in winnfield, and it was a pleasant memory driving by the best western this time. but this time i was moving on. i hopped to la 6 and it was off to the Texas border. i made it with about an hour or so of light left.

i've come into Texas this way three times now, and i love it. you drive over a long bridge that goes over the reservoir. here's a pic i took while i was driving over it:

trucktrip4.jpg

as i hit the bridge, a johnny cash song was playing. when i got to the Texas side, a band was doing a modern alt.country version of a cash song. when you get to the Texas side, there is a big generic "welcome to Texas" reflective sign, but if you go a couple hundred yards further there is an awesome old stone sign in the shape of Texas. the first time i came across it, the Texas was facing you as you drove toward it. the second time it still was, but the land around it was torn up. this time they'd completed the work. there is now a nice pavilion with all of the monuments and such, and the old rock Texas sign faces the road. here's my truck enjoying its first taste of home:

trucktrip5.jpg

i swear when i got out to take the pic i saw a smile on its grill.

originally i was thinking i'd stay at a hotel right there by the reservoir, since it'd be a nice locale to stop and rest and contemplate life, and i had the next day off from work anyway. but i wanted internet access and they didn't have it, so i decided to go ahead and drive into lufkin. i took 21 to 103 into lufkin. a few miles into Texas they played wayne hancock's "going back to Texas"...nice.

anyway, there's a place called bryan's smokehouse in lufkin on 59 that i've eaten at every time i've come into Texas this way, so i had to do it this time as well. it was already closed when i got into town, so i checked into a hotel, went and washed my truck, then headed to a place i'd seen on the way into town called ray's drive-in. it's an old drive-in with the covered patio parking and the neon everywhere. i figured my truck would feel at home there. food procurement accomplished, i retired for the evening.

total miles today: probably around 350

truck trip: day three

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i got back on i-81 and headed into tennessee. coming into bristol i saw a sign for a birthplace of country music museum and decided to check it out. it turns out it is in a mall. bleh. so i didn't actually go into it. they looked like they had rows and row of cds, but i didn't look at what they had. i decided i didn't really need to be buying a bunch of cds on the trip. my dad and brother might be able to spend a lot of money there.

while pulling over to get gas, i realized my engine was clicking some. i've heard that before in other vehicles i've owned, and it usually meant the oil was low. after getting gas i checked the oil, and sure enough it was low. i put two and a half quarts in it. it leaks some, but i'm guessing it's also burning some. hopefully that won't turn out to be anything horribly wrong with the engine itself.

i-81 turned into i-40 and i headed into knoxville. in knoxville i stopped to try and find a circuit city or best buy or somewhere to buy something to listen to music. i ended up going to a sears in a mall, where i found a cd boombox with a line-in. so i bought it and the cheapest sirius unit i could find. the guy who helped me was from alabama and another employee was his friend and was from Texas (midland). turns out they were both going to some bible college there in knoxville. anyway, i called sirius and signed up, and a few minutes later i had sweet, sweet music. excellent!

back on the road, i took a turn off i-40 and headed south on 27 to rockwood. i had seen a sign for an old-fashioned drugstore and soda fountain, and i thought it might be cool. i ended up eating a place called junior's that was across the street from the drugstore. the food was okay. the best part is the typical small town thing, where most of the people are old and everyone knows everyone who comes in, and they generally know everything that's happened recently to everyone too. i didn't have cash and they didn't take credit cards (of course), so i had to walk down to an atm and get cash to pay junior. (what, you think junior doesn't run his own restaurant?) one thing i'd forgotten about is getting sweet tea easily in the south. yum. it's so much easier than having to stir in tons of sugar. and lucky y'all, you get to see a pic of my truck at junior's:

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after that i headed over to the drugstore and got a mint chocolate chip shake for the road. i jumped back on 27 and headed south to 30 west. zowie. talk about twists and turns and steep grades! this would be an awesome (and tiring) road for a motorcycle ride. lots of turning, going both up and down, and some straighter parts in between to give you a bit of a rest. it was really pretty too. i took 30 to 70s to i-24 and into nashville.

i once again decided i needed to get back to Texas so i didn't stop anywhere. i kind of decided i can have one extended diversion per day, and 30 ended up being it. it took me a long time to get through that. so i hit i-40 and headed to memphis.

in memphis i sort of got lost, and i was on the edge of the map scott had given me (southeastern states), and it was after dark. i stopped right near graceland and put some more oil in the truck. then i drove around in what are probably some questionable parts of memphis. i stopped and bought a map of the u.s., and eventually i hit 51 and then jumped on i- 55 (even thought i'd originally been trying to get on 61) and headed south into mississippi and to batesville where i checked into a comfort inn and wrote the day one entry. miles today: around 650.

truck trip: day two

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the overnight stay with scott and kendra was nice. i hung out and talked with them after i got there, then again in the morning. i had forgotten i'd met them in houston once before, probably a few years ago. they also knew odd bits of trivia about me, like that i don't salt my food. (i figure i should eat it the way the cook prepared it.) evidently this is something that sticks in sue's mind. scott is pretty interested in the mennonites, which i don't know much about, but the desire for simplicity sounds nice.

i left around noon and immediately stopped at a sheetz for an m.t.o. ("made to order") because they told me jack would be disappointed if i didn't. i called jack while sitting in the parking lot to let him know where i was. i also talked to my brother and he asked if i was going by gettysburg. i looked on the map and it was only about 20 miles away.

i took 30 over to gettysburg and stopped at the first visitor info place, but it was mostly a driving tour and could take a couple of hours depending on how long you took. since i was by myself and wasn't sure how long it was going to take me to get back to houston, i decided to just sort of drive through the town and by some places. i'll have to go back sometime when i feel i have more free time, and hopefully with someone who is interested in civil war history. i mean, it's interesting to me on some level, but i'm not real into it so it'd be better if i were with someone who could talk about it while we were going to the various locations. shifting a bit, gettysburg appears to be almost completely dedicated to the civil war history of the town. i'd think that'd make it sort of an odd place to grow up and live in.

after my very short trip through gettysburg, i headed down 15 into maryland, then 340 or something through a bit of west virginia around harper's ferry and down into virginia to shenandoah national park. (sidenote: dr. pepper berries and cream is nasty! how did i forget that?) i headed to the park so i could take skyline drive. because what's better than rapid twists and turns at decent grades in a 40+ year old truck with no power steering or power brakes that you've only been familiar with for about 300 miles? it costs me $15 to get in, but i could come and go for 7 days. it handled everything fine and i managed to take some pics. so without further delay, here is the unveiling of my new truck...

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i had originally thought i might try taking skyline and the blue ridge parkway as far as they go, but after 65+ miles i decided it'd take me 2 weeks to get home at this rate, so i bailed on 33 and hit i-81 to try and make up some miles.

it was getting late and i was getting tired, so i decided to look for a motel 6 to stay at or a waffle house to eat at. (i figure every big road trip should have at least one stop at a waffle house.) the travelling gods of cheap motels and cheaper food were smiling on me, as i found an exit that had both. as always, the waffle house was an interesting collection of people. that goal accomplished, i headed to bed. miles today: around 400.

truck trip: day one

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the trip almost started out with a whimper instead of a bang. i obviously stayed up pretty late, but i managed to get up and start getting ready (i hadn't packed or anything). jack was giving me a ride to the airport, so i called him...no answer. i kept getting ready and called again...no answer. at this point, i was in that awkward time phase between the time it takes if someone drops you off and the time it takes if you have to park and ride a shuttle. i decided i'd better leave, and i might not make my flight anyway. as i was driving by jack's, i called to let him know i couldn't wait on him...and he answered. he said he was ready to go, so i stopped at his house and he took me. i arrived in time to check in, but too late to check luggage. but that didn't matter, since i packed light. then i got to the terminal and i had to wait probably 30 minutes at least because they were running a bit behind. the flight itself was uneventful.

i arrived in new york city and jeff picked me up without any trouble. we drove down some major highway from la guardia to brooklyn, so i didn't go through midtown or wall street or anything but i could see it off to my right. we stopped at the truck and jeff walked me through information about the truck, then we signed documents and traded tags and such. jeff took me for a short ride to let me see it in action, then he hopped in his pickup and i drove my new truck. we stopped on smith street so we could get photocopies of some of the documents. while walking around he asked if i wanted to eat, so i decided i wanted a slice of pizza. we ate at sal's pizza, which he mentioned was the sal's in do the right thing. which i'm pretty sure it was. then we went back to our pickups and took me to get some gas. i'm not sure i've ever done full service before, but i don't think i had a choice. (i know in new jersey it's a law -- or at least used to be -- that you can't pump your own gas.) i asked jeff if he smoked cigars, which he didn't, but i gave him a cojimar vanilla sugar tip anyway. i told him it was a "gateway cigar" since it's sweet and tastes like vanilla. jeff then directed me to the road to get out of town. i took 287 to staten island over a bridge that cost $9 in toll. then i immediately got in a traffic jam. after 20 minutes or so of that, i got on my way. thus ends my short time in new york city. all told, about 2.5 hours.

at this point, my impressions of the truck were that it wasn't as clean or as in good of shape as i'd expected. not that it is really bad or anything, but while it looks pretty good from 10 feet, when you get up closer to it you can see obvious spots that need to be painted. plus the "dings" and keying mentioned on ebay are more like someone scraped the back half plus of the driver's side along something that dented scrape marks down the side. the interior is okay, but aspects of it definitely need some work as well. but it seemed to shift pretty well and had power, and it wasn't doing anything obviously bad as far as power, handling, etc.

anyway, back to the trip. i hit i-95 and went north, then took i-80 west. after driving for some time i stopped at a gas station. i asked if they had maps, but i wasn't sure what map i needed. i said "i don't know where i am. i just flew into new york and bought this truck." and the kid said "you're in new jersey." i figured out i was actually really close to the pennsylvania border, so the map for it included where i was. i bought a map and took some road to i-78, then down i-81 until i got to shippensburg. i didn't really have much trouble getting to scott and kendra's house, which is where sue and the potts kids were and where i was going to spend the night. all told, i drove around 250 miles between 5pm-ish and 10pm-ish.

technically, it's already truck day

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i left work a bit early today and went by frost bank and got a cashier's check for the truck. so the two major things i needed to take care of (temp tag and cashier's check) are accomplished. another thing i thought i might resolve is what i'm going to do about having something to listen to during the drive (remember, it has no radio). unfortunatley, no solution stuck out in my mind as a good one, and in the end i decided it'd be easier to purchase something on the way back than buy it and take it on the plane. my plan of course is to get the truck to subsist on a steady diet of johnny cash, bob wills, zz top, milton brown, drive-by truckers, wayne hancock, hank williams, mulehead, dale watson, etc. until it is brainwashed into being a Texas truck. then i'll give it the gunrack and the "they can have my gun when they pry it from my cold, dead fingers" and "bob wills is still the King" bumper stickers.

after running my errands i headed over to tropioca, where the geek gathering for the radio show was happening. while there, jeff schulz (the guy i'm buying the truck from) called and we discussed plans some. the plan right now is for him to pick me up at la guardia. after the gathering i drove around a bit and ended up going by the tobacco shop where i picked up some cigars and another punch. then i headed to river oaks to catch the midnight showing of plan 9 from outer space. i was joined by lemaster, kd5, barrett, and amanda. i'd only seen bits and pieces of it before. boy, it's a bad movie. but it's so bad that it's good. which is i guess why so many people call it the worst movie ever made.

i'm now home, and in less than 12 hours i should be in new york city. now all i need to do is pack. but i think i'll do that in the morning when i get up. i've decided this trip is going to pretty much be planned as it happens. all i know right now is i'm getting to new york, picking up the truck, and i'm hoping to make it to shippensburg, pa, before i stop. after that, who knows. i'll figure it out later.

you were always on my mind

wednesday after work i dropped by the poison girl for awhile before heading to the radio show. folk that do the houstonist site were meeting up there, so a few of us that do the radio show dropped by. the poison girl still seems to be a pretty cool place.

today i was planning on taking off work and getting my temp tag for the new pickup and getting the cashier's check or money order. unfortunately, i decided to ride my motorcycle to work and then the weather decided it should rain on and off in the afternoon. so i left later than i'd planned and by the time i finished at the tax office the banks were closed. i opted to park in the museum district and ride the light rail downtown, since i wasn't sure about parking, the weather, or road conditions. getting the temp tag turned out to be extremely easy...probably more than it should have. the lady didn't even look at or ask for either my driver's license *or* the title/registration. all she used was the insurance card. but whatever the steps, the outcome is that i've got a 30-day temporary tag to put on the truck once i take possession of it. i'll have to get the money tomorrow.

after that (and having to do some troubleshooting from home for a half hour or so for work), i headed to a place called monkey bizness to go to a surprise birthday party kelli planned for brad. monkey bizness is a play place for kids, with a rock wall and a bunch of big inflated jump rooms and slides and stuff (that are usually outside, but these are indoors). after that, we headed to buca de pepo (or however you spell it) for supper. good times.

my original plan for getting the pickup was to fly out tomorrow and be back on tuesday. jeff (the guy in brooklyn i'm buying the truck from) said saturday would be best for him, so i changed my plans to start on saturday. hopefully i'll be back by tuesday night, or maybe wednesday. but i'm not trying to rush the roadtrip, and i'm hoping it'll be enjoyable and fun. it'd be cool to have someone to go with me, but it should be a good time even without being able to share the experience. at this point i'm planning on trying to take my laptop and camera, so hopefully i can give status updates along the way. i'm trying to decide if i want to buy an ipod (or some mp3 player) and some speakers so i can have some music to listen to during the ride back (the truck has no radio). what i know i won't have is a/c, seatbelts, power windows, power locks, airbags, or a bunch of extra computerized crap in the engine compartment...that'll be occupied by a gas-guzzling 352 v8 with dual exhaust.

i'm also trying to think of a name for it, at this point going with country music related ideas: earl, hank, 16hp, old 97, etc. although seeing it and driving it will have to happen before i settle on something. got any good ideas?

book vs. truck

i finished reading catch-22 by joseph heller. it's one of the books i felt like i should read because it's considered a classic of modern american literature. there were things i liked about it, and some of the way the story unfolded was very effective. sometimes the non-stop contradictory sentences got a bit difficult to slog through and it felt like death by snarky cleverness. but when the ratio of story to "turning every sentence into a contradiction of the last one" was good, the book was a joy to read and kept my interest. still, overall it's not going to go into the list of books i was amazed by and felt gave me a new perspective of reality and the world around me. it is still worth investing the time to read though, in my opinion.

the bigger news for me is that i decided to purchase a truck on ebay. i'd been looking on ebay at 1965-1967 chevy and ford pickups for a couple of months, and one caught my eye a few weeks ago. i bid on it, but no one else did and i didn't meet the reserve. the truck was relisted and i bid it up in the last minute beyond the point where i was the high bidder, but i still didn't hit the reserve. the truck was relisted again and the same thing happened. well, yesterday the seller sent me a second chance offer on the truck and today i made the decision to do it.

the vehicle in question is a 1965 ford f-100. the rub is that it is in brooklyn, new york. so part of my decision in buying it was my decision to fly up there and drive it back to Texas. in addition to the obvious hope that it is mechanically sound enough to make the drive back, i'm also going to have to deal with going to new york, buying a vehicle i've never seen in person from a person i've never met, it having no seatbelts, and driving it back to Texas with temporary tags. (in new york they keep the plates when they sell a vehicle.) hopefully i'll be able to do everything i need to in order to get the temporary Texas tags.

anyway, all of this will be quite an adventure for me. i just purchased my plane ticket this evening. hopefully it'll all work out and i'll have a great time going up there and driving it back. and hopefully i'll be happy with the truck too. i'm still processing plans for exactly how all of this will happen and what i'll be taking with me, etc. if i decide to take my laptop, i'll try to chronicle my adventures. if anyone wants to buy a ticket and take a few days and ride back with me, let me know. : )

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