November 2006 Archives

another potts in the world

sue called me during lunch today to let me know she'd had her baby this morning around 9:30am. it's a girl. they named her...uh...simcha ruth. "simcha" (pronounced sim'-ka, i believe) is hebrew for "happiness, joy". she was a little over 8 lbs and the labor evidently was only about 3.5 hours or so. i went over there after work today and everyone seemed to be doing well. i held the new arrival for an hour or so while jack and i watched nacho libre. i wouldn't have really volunteered for holding her, but sue gave her to me rather abruptly when she got up -- then she was doing okay so sue left her with me.

thanksgiving weekend 2006

after finishing moving on wednesday, then going and doing the radio show that night, i got up early thursday morning and headed to my hometown (brady, Texas) to visit the parents and my grandmother for thanksgiving.

thursday i ate a late thanksgiving lunch with the family and then immediately fell asleep for a few hours. (i'd not gotten much sleep the night before.) late thursday night i drove out onto an isolated rural farm-to-market road to stop and look at the stars. it was a bit chilly, but it was a cloudless sky and the sliver of moon had already set. amazing. simply amazing. the light pollution of houston completely obscures the sky, so it's always jaw-dropping to see the night sky in central Texas.

friday i watched Texas a&m defeat t.u. friday evening i went with my dad to a high school football playoff game in comanche. my dad and i talked a fair bit about theology and the history of the church on the way. the game was may versus richland springs in 6-man football. we picked that over wall versus blanco (an 11-man game) in brownwood. i've seen a few 6-man games, but not many, so i was hoping it'd be a good game. unfortunately, richland springs beat up may and the mercy rule (>45 point lead) was deployed a few minutes into the third quarter. i guess in 6-man it's not very common for two teams to play each other close.

saturday in the early afternoon i realized my rear driver's side tire was flat. (probably due to my thursday night excursion to look at the stars.) most of the places in brady that fix flats were closed, but fortunately we managed to find one place that was open. we took the tire off and took it there. you want to talk about small town stereotypes...two haggard, greasy, dirty, partially toothless white guys running a shop in an old, dirty building with tires and various parts of things (vehicles and otherwise) strewn haphazardly everywhere. they fixed my tire and charged me $6. one guy found out i worked with computers and said he did too, and started asking if i had any parts i wanted to get rid of or sell. he evidently has a trailer behind the building that he both lives in and runs his computer shop out of.

sunday i hung out with my grandmother, ate lunch with her and my parents, helped set up her xmas decorations, then left for houston. after stopping by the cemetary in art where my grandparents are buried, i dropped off a pedestal sink at the art house. my parents had bought it for their house years ago but then decided to not use it, so they gave it to tamara and me for our house (which we of course never used -- it'd been in the garage of 9023 this whole time). i figure we can use it either at art or beaver creek. i also brought my 1911 charles daly .45 back with me. i'm planning on getting someone to look at it to see if they can get its feeding/ejecting problem fixed.

first post! (you know what i mean)

well, here it is -- the first post from my new place of residence. i'm sitting here in the living room in the dark, drinking some chocalate hazelnut liquor and listening to johnny cash. (which means i got the stereo set up...it's about the only thing.)

last night i was originally planning on eating with sue at her house, but i realized it was getting late, i had a big load to move, i had to set up my bed at the new place, and i was transporting lenin (my cat), -- so i decided to just come straight to the new house. i managed to get the bedroom set up enough to sleep in it. i think raj said they turned the pilot off on the heating unit. if not, i was cold last night for no good reason. i decided to not even try messing with it.

this morning i got up and headed over to 9023. i had left a bit more there than i'd thought, but i managed to get almost all of it in the back of my element. just before i left, the new buyers came by so i talked with them and showed them around the place. i left them the keys since i still had a garage door opener, then i took off.

i unloaded the stuff at the new house, then the potts showed up. we ate lunch at the house of pies, then we dropped jack off at work and i went with sue to my old house. i showed her and jackson my empty old house. i loaded the final few things in the back of my pickup and drove it (with no brakes except the parking brake) to the potts' house. sue then gave me a ride back to the house so i could get my motorcycle. i made one final walk through the place, both sighed and smiled, then hit the garage door button and ran and avoided the electronic eye while the door was closing. the door closed and that was that. i hopped on my motorcycle and headed to my new place.

i had originally planned to take some pics of the empty place, and to make a video, but i didn't really have time to plan and execute it. when tamara and i bought the house back in aug/sep 1998, jack and sue went with us when we first took the keys to the place. jack was operating the camera, and he walked behind us as we walked into the place and looked around. it was only two or three minutes probably. anyway, i wanted to watch it and figure out the path, then walk through it now in exactly the same pattern. at the end i would pan down and then zoom in on a picture all by itself in the middle of the floor in a completely empty room. the pic is one of tamara looking pissed off and flipping off the camera. i thought this would be a poignant way of bookending the events of my time in the house.

ah, the pic in question. it was taken by me on memorial day weekend of 2001. we'd gone to fayetteville arkansas to look at the place, look at houses/apartments, and for me to find information about employment (which didn't much exist for me there). i don't even remember why tamara was pissed at me, but she was mad about something. we were sitting in the car after driving up to the hotel room we were staying in. it was raining some. anyway, she was mad about something and i had the camera nearby and i jokingly said we should take a picture to capture this moment for posterity, so i raised the camera and told her to smile and she looked at me angrily and frustrated and flipped me off. then i hit the button.

it's been a good picture to have around to remind me of her and how she treated me. fortunately, enough time has passed and enough things have changed that i wasn't too affected by the finality of leaving the house. if it'd been one or two years ago i probably would have had a really difficult time going through it, even though i was trying to move on then too. thank G-d i seem to be beyond most of the darkness from those horrible times.

this is the final post from 9023 belle glen dr. i'm about to shut down the computer and move it to the new abode. there is almost nothing left in the house. i'll be making one last trip over here tomorrow to pick up some final things and do a final walk-through to make sure i didn't forget anything.

this morning when i got up i went by the post office and set up my forwarding, then i dropped by southern maid for some late morning breakfast. i continued getting stuff done around the house and loading the element until the movers showed up (about 1.5 hours late). it only took them about 2 hours from start to finish. i came back and have been doing all the odds and ends (kitchen and garage). i also called the water, phone, and electric companies and requested service be shut off.

9023, i can't say i'm sad to see you go. i wish the buyers the best on turning a profit on you, but i have my doubts.

target approaching. all systems nominal.

more good results today! i'm liking the trend here...

i got up a bit late, loaded up the element, picked up jack, dropped him off at a car rental place downtown, then headed to the house where i unpacked. from there i went to the post office and they still had my passport! the exclamation point is necessary because it'd been 10 days since they tried to deliver it and normally they return stuff after about 5 days. so that rocked. and as hoped, the passport pic is amazing. even most of the people at work were impressed. perhaps i normally look like a mass murderer, but this pic is a straight-up match for a police pic of the likes of john wayne gacey or some other deranged madman. i'm so proud!

from there i headed into work, where i put in about 4 hours of work. (don't worry, i accounted for all of my time appropriately.) i left around 5pm to head back to the house and get some more stuff done.

before starting on the house, i took off to get two more gallons of high octane gas and some junk to create a special gas concoction. i ended up just buying some heet, which is supposed to clean gas or something. (people up north use it as gas antifreeze...i think it absorbs/neutralizes water and such.) i was reading the containers for gas treatment, fuel injection / carb cleaner, system cleaner, octane booster, etc. and they all sounded about like they did the same stuff. back home, i poured about half the heet into the tank, then about half the octane boost, then the two new gallons of gas. i started the bus up and got it backed out of the garage and into the driveway (in the same place it'd sat for a year or more before the home owners' association got wise and made me move it).

moving it out of the garage gave me access to most of the rest of the stuff in the garage. i went through most everything and either packed it in the element, sat it aside for the movers, or put it in the trash pile. once done, i finished loading the element and then piled the last of my clothes in. i took that over to the new hacienda and dropped it all off. while there, i picked up the new registration sticker for the bus and the business card for the people who bought my house, along with a day bag.

on the way back to my house i stopped by the potts' and picked up jack. i put the new registration sticker on the bus and then i made a clandestine night-time drive to jack's. the bus never ran very well. if the rpms got very low, it'd die. i eventually got pretty good at using downshifting and the parking brake to slow/stop myself so i could keep the rpms high. it died and i had to restart it a number of times, but the bus is now sitting at the potts' house (and i smell like some kind of chemical smoke).

i shouldn't have any problems taking care of everything that's left in the house outside of what the movers are moving for me. they really have a pretty light task, actually. i probably could have done pretty much everything myself if i'd rented a u-haul tomorrow. oh well.

tonight is my last night in the house. tomorrow my bed will be moved, and i'll be staying at the new place. i stopped by taco cabana on the way home from jack's -- i wouldn't be surprised if the first meal we ate here in the house was food from taco cabana. it's kind of like southwestern-colored bookends.

honestly, i think i've been through too much and it's been too long for me to get too emotional about moving out of the house. it was a constant pain, and overall i'm not sad to see it go. the circumstances leading to it, not so much. but even with that, i have to work with what was given to me. i'm trying to make the best of things, and i feel like things are about to get a whole lot better. here's hoping.

still moving

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good news, brothers and sisters. packing/moving continues to go well. i'm currently basically finished with the dining room, living room, upstairs, and master bathroom -- pretty much anything left can be moved by the movers on tuesday if i don't get around to it. work still to do: the kitchen is at around 85%, and the garage is probably at around 50%.

the only negative at this point is as i was unloading at the new place one of the garage apartment dwellers came out to meet me...and give me the mail she'd been saving since no one was there. in addition to a number of things for raj and kiera, there was a cingular bill for me...and a delivery slip for my passport. dated 11.10.2006. i'm hoping the post office hasn't sent it back. i'll be dropping by to check monday (this) morning.

in totally cool news, tonight i poured two gallons of new high octane gas in the vw bus and began trying to start it. for a long time it didn't do anything. then it would barely sputter a bit and then nothing for a long time. after about 15 minutes or so of this, jack started spraying carb cleaner in the air intake and then it started sputtering more vigorously, blowing noxious smoke, and then nothing. eventually it cranked and would run as long as i held the pedal to the floor (and still lots of beautiful smoke). after 5 or 10 minutes of this it finally kicked in more solid (and with a giant burst of white smoke for effect) -- i'm assuming some of the good gas got through the fuel lines. but it still won't idle. if i let off the gas and the rpms drop much it will die. monday i will be buying two more gallons of high octane gas, as well as some octane boost and fuel injection cleaner. hopefully this cocktail will blow all of the years of nasty crap out of the engine and i can get it running well enough to drive over to the potts' house. you have no idea how happy i am that the thing started after sitting there all this time. hopefully it will continue to behave itself and i can get it to the potts' under its own power.

it's pretty much all about packing

thursday evening/night i managed to finish packing the upstairs, and moved most of it to my new digs.

i was working friday evening/night for an enterprise maintenance window, so i got to go into work late. i used the morning hours to take care of my eztags, talk with an automotive restoration company, and make a drop-off of stuff at the new place. while at the office, i managed to get in touch with a moving company and set up a move appointment for 1pm tuesday.

saturday i got up and started packing some more. jack came over in the afternoon and helped me. i made one full trip to the new house, then i ate supper with the potts at chuy's. i got my first mail at the new house today -- a star of hope letter (i'd updated my address with them) and the title to the vw bus. i've still yet to see my passport.

my hope is to be able to move almost all of the box-able stuff myself before the movers come. as of the end of saturday i'm 100% done with the upstairs, about 75% with the dining room, living room, master bedroom, and kitchen, and 0% with the garage. i'm thinking at this point i can meet my move out deadline without too much pain, but every now and then i start to get worried that it's all going to take me much longer than i anticipate. mostly it's the garage that concerns me...there's a lot of crap out there.

nearing completion...

i went ahead and called my credit union and paid off my motorcycle thursday. that frees up $300/mo. since i no longer have debt in the form of a home loan, that means my total debt resides solely in the element. i must say, it's nice to know i could pay that off and be completely debt free. i'm planning on using cash reserves to do things to the truck instead of dropping it into paying off the element right now though. having brakes that work will be a good first start.

speaking of the element, it should be refinanced within a week or two, at which point the title will be modified to be only in my name. the house is already dealt with, of course. the qdro paperwork is being processed (thanks to me taking matters into my own hands) and should be complete within a couple of weeks. so pretty soon there should be almost no outstanding legal/financial issues between tamara and myself. thank goodness.

i'm currently also trying to play catch up on my retirement funds for all of the money tamara was able to unfairly take from me due to a less than adequate legal system as regards divorce laws. my company automatically gives a set percentage of your salary to your retirement fund regardless of how much if anything you put aside, and a few months ago i started kicking in a fair percentage myself. with this in place, i'll hopefully be able to recover from tamara's cash grab within 4 years. what tamara did is already done, so all i can do is try to recover from it and move on.

homeless

in a random fit of absurdity, the universe actually saw fit to make something happen quickly for me. that's right, on the way into work this morning my realtor called and said "we're closing today at 2pm." the paperwork had already gone through both the buyer and tamara. so as of around 3pm i am no longer the owner of a house. (raj and kiera should be excited to read this, since that means i'll be paying them rent soon. all i'm saying is landlord better not be trying to come down on me!)

i got about $4400 at closing, which is nice. that means tamara made about $3600 off of me, which isn't so nice. but whatever. all of the worry, pain, embarassment, stress, aggrevation, etc. that was 9023 belle glen dr is no longer on my shoulders. it's sort of a bittersweet moment though, because it forces me to think about how things should be as compared to how they are. but i can't do anything about that -- as i said in my last post, i've wasted enough time on worthless causes. now i just have to worry about getting moved out within 7 days.

the buyer's agent seemed like a decent enough guy, and we were able to hold a conversation by ourselves for probably 20 or 30 minutes or something. the title guy came across as one of those nice people who probably comes across as fake a lot because he's too busy to take the time to be as nice as he'd actually like to be. or maybe he's just fake. the buyer came across as a jack4ss. or at least toward me. maybe he was just trying to be "professional". stand out moments were him saying "terry, when are you going to be moving out?" in a tone that suggested me being there at all was a burden he shouldn't have to deal with, and "uh, are you going to give me your contact information?" in a tone suggesting i was trying to slip something by him -- after i'd just asked the title guy to go get some paper so i could write my info down. maybe he just thought he should play "bad cop" to make sure i got moved out and took him seriously.

it was all a horribly inbred lot. my realtor had worked under the buyer's agent for years. the buyer's agent and the buyer obviously worked together professionally a lot. the buyer actually ran a title company, and was friends with the title guy for this place, and they'd known each other for years. i'm sure real estate and construction and such are just as much good ol' boy networks as other businesses. they figure out ways to make money for/amongst themselves off of any outsider that has to go through their system. (lawyers and the legal system, anyone?)

but whatever. i was in a bad spot due to tamara and i just needed to get out of it. now i'm out. what happened is now the past and it's done and i can't change anything about it anymore. it was a deal and it's signed and it's over. i mean, it's a binding agreement but it's not like i made a lifetime commitment to them or anything. :|

"Love always, your wife."

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one of the even less pleasant things about packing for this move (than packing in and of itself) is having to go through all of the reminders of my marriage and the good things my ex used to be and mean to me, the person i loved. the blog title comes from the ending of a birthday card she left at the house for me on july 1 2003 since she was going to be out. anyway...

last night a spent a nice evening relaxing at brasil. sometimes it's good to get out and just sit somewhere and talk and drink coffee, to have a chance to get away from packing and the emotional strain that can pop out unexpectedly when i find something i'd forgotten about.

today at work i got in touch with the qdro departement for my old company's retirement group. actually, i gave up on the qdro folk ever calling me back and called the general help line -- then they connected me to a qdro person they'd called. the end result was i learned that i can submit the stupid qdro myself, thus bypassing the ineptness of tamara and/or her attorney. it's either that or they're evil...i suppose either is entirely plausible. whatever the case, it'll be nice to get that crap out of the way.

which brings me to the house. when i got home after work today i could tell someone had been in the house. the curtain to the sliding glass door was half open, and the master bathroom door was open (for example). no one had contacted me about coming into the house, or left a message about it. i was pretty pissed. i didn't really care for the idea of living here while people came and went while it was showing, but i understood it was a necessary annoyance if i didn't want to pay two rents. since the house has been off the market for like two months now, i shouldn't have to be dealing with it. and even if i was, it shouldn't be without my consent, or at least letting me know.

so i emailed my realtor and told her about it, and asked if we could remove the lockbox so this kind of thing wouldn't happen in the future. within a few hours she wrote me an email apologizing that it was her fault because she was supposed to let me know the buyer's agent was going to be coming into the house with another repairman for estimates.

not that it necessarily should, but this really concerns me because this is the same pattern that happened with the last two buyers and then they backed out. i'm tired of everything tamara is still somehow involved in being a pain in the 4ss to deal with. at this point the house has been off the market for a couple of months, and if a third buyer falls through i'm going to be really annoyed. i was content enough just letting things go along, but since i moved everything forward i'm getting tired of being in an unnatural middle state. either the buyer buys or they don't, but i've been strung through a couple of months due to three buyers and tamara, and i'd really just like to get it out of the way.

my life will be much simpler and carefree once this sh1te is over with. i've already wasted enough time on worthless causes. of course, that's a lot easier to say (or type, as the case may be) than to actually believe and feel. still, i think i'm looking forward to having all the loose ends tied up and my life being my own once again. which doesn't mean that's what i wanted, but i've got to play the cards life and tamara dealt me. and if yet another buyer backs out, i'll just have to keep rolling with the punches.

i <3 tow truck drivers

my previous entry left out an experience i had on my way to the recycling center...

after turning onto fountain view from 59, a wrecker flew up within a few inches of the car in the middle lane and then whipped in front of me (left lane), forcing me to put on my brakes so he didn't hit me with his winch frame. as if that wasn't annoying enough, it was a half block from westpark, which had a red light. but no, he had to whip in front of me and force me to brake, just so he could be in the front of the line at the light. i made some inconsiderate hand gestures, then unbuckled and got extremely close to getting out and walking up to his vehicle. instead, i wrote down his license plate and information. after the light turned green, he went straight but almost immediately whipped back into the center lane. i'm hoping with the recent death of a couple by a wrecker driver, the city will be hyper-sensitive about moronic wrecker drivers and he will actually get in some kind of trouble for being an 4ss.

now, not all tow truck drivers are inconsiderant, jack4ss vultures of primate-level intelligence -- but it's about the only profession as consistently despised as lawyers. which doesn't mean there aren't noble folk in either profession -- they're just grossly outnumbered by the slime who seek financial gain by taking advantage of people in difficult situations, and who many times act cocky about the "power" they wield. tow truck drivers are kind of like country rat to the lawyers' city rat.

reduce, recycle, move

saturday i went with sue and the potts kids plus one to michael's craft store. they have a kids' craft thing on the weekend where you pay a couple of bucks for your kid to do a pre-arranged craft. while sitting there, i took some extra putty or whatever it was and crafted a simple small airplane (passenger aircraft in style) and then a wooden chair with a back and two vertical angled slats. i was just passing the time, but some of the adults seemed impressed by my handiwork. eh. why did i go to this, you ask? so i could get a ride to pick up my element from the motorcycle shop, of course.

my brother was in town with his girlfriend for a wedding, so he called and we made plans to go to lunch. i picked him up and we dropped by the briar shoppe (pipe store in rice village) where i looked at pipe lighters. from there we went to fuzzy's pizza (also in rice village). afterward, we headed over to half price books. i picked up a few books and one cd:

  • * muleshoe and more: the remarkable stories behind the naming of Texas towns by bill and clare bradfield (gulf publishing company)
  • * toxic faith: experiencing healing from painful spiritual abuse by stephen arterburn and jack felton (shaw / waterbook press)
  • * lovesick blues: the life of hank williams by paul hemphill (viking / penguin group)
  • * cash by the editors of the rolling stone (virgin books)
  • * cash: an american man by bill miller (cmt / pocket books)
  • * legends of country - various (prism leisure)

i hate going to busy places where parking is hard to find. i also don't really like going to crowded places in general. especially when it is all centered around people shopping. ah, the joy of rice village on weekends.

after that, i dropped my brother off at the hotel they were staying at (the magnolia, very swanky!) and then went to the westpark recycling center. i still had all that old computer stuff and electronics in the back of my car. this time they were opened. it was all very simple and convenient. you just drive up the ramp into the building, then people come and take the stuff out of your car. you don't have to turn off the engine or get out or anything. they also evidently don't keep the "only 5 electronic items per household per month" rule, since they never asked for any information and i had 6 or 7 things in the back and they took them all. this is all good to know, as i have quite a few other pieces of electronic junk that i need to dispose of there.

i headed home, then joined sue, calista, and dietrich for some ice cream at dairy queen. after that i headed down to high times. i went there because i'd decided to go ahead and pick up a zippo pipe lighter (which they had), as well as some incense. i'll probably buy a nicer butane pipe lighter from the briar shoppe, but i figured the zippo would be nice to have anyway. as for the incense, i've gotten into it the last few months, but i really like the incense you can get at head shops -- they have a stronger scent and smell better. me having the tendencies i do, i'm trying to burn through most of the lamer incense in the house before i use much of the good stuff. (yes, i'm one of those people that does/uses/eats the things i don't like as much and save what i like best for last.)

i got home and actually started packing up some stuff for moving. during a break i smoked a creme de menthe phillie cigar. i strongly suggest you avoid these at all cost. (the pina colada phillies, on the other hand, are a fine cheap cigar.) i decided i would tackle the bathrooms and kitchen first, since i can pack most or all of that without affecting my day-to-day activities. next will be the upstairs computer room, which i have only gone into a handful of times in the last two years. then then master bedroom/closet. after that, i haven't decided if it'll be the garage or the living/dining room.

this morning i met linc and heather at the house of pies on kirby for breakfast (thus making the decision to break my one-sunday streak in a row of going to kaleo). after that i led them over to the house i'll be moving into so they could see it. it's very conveniently located near the house of pies, which may not be good for my weight and cholesterol.

i came home and continued the packing, then went to houston first baptist this evening to make up for skipping church this morning. i was thinking i might try to get some more packing done before calling it a night, but i'm not sure if that'll be happening. overall, it was still a pretty productive weekend on that front.

wtf (no, no, "wednesday, thursday, friday")

late wednesday night i found the vw camper bus key. yea! it was in one of the only boxes (a small one) i hadn't looked in that was in the bedroom. i went out and gave it a few starts just for the heck of it. the starter appears to still be working, but it of course didn't start up. i'll begin trying techniques like adding new high-octane gas to the tank, spraying carb cleaner at the air intake, etc. soon.

thursday at training they had a drawing for a 20 gig ipod (not a video ipod). i won! i actually liked the 2nd gen 15 gig i had that was stolen by the kids that broke into my house, as i liked the control buttons not being on the scroll wheel. but i'm not going to turn it down for free. i've not opened it yet though, because i'm trying to decide if i should try and sell it to someone and use the money to get a video ipod instead.

thursday after training i took this week's instructor to luling city market for some Texas bbq. on wednesday i'd gotten him to go to sylvia's enchilada, which he really liked. again, it's almost my duty as a Texan to make sure visitors get some good Texas bbq and/or tex-mex.

friday we got out early, like the training last week, and once again i had a list of tasks i wanted to get done.

first i headed by the westpark recycling center to drop off some old computer equipment and monitors i've had sitting around for years (waiting for my dropping them off there). they were closed, which i was kind of miffed about since it was 1:30pm on a friday.

i then drove to the downtown harris county tax office to get the name on my pickup title fixed and update my address on everything. the parking meter i parked at wasn't working, so i called 311 (city of houston info) to report it. they informed me that it was veterans' day (observed). which would explain why the recycling center was closed. i also learned it would cost me $33 for them to fix my name, which they admitted was their typo. i was surprised and a bit annoyed, but government is government, so the only way to get it fixed for free (or cheap) is to send it in to the state office in austin. so i elected to mail it later. but i did go ahead and update my address on all of my vehicles (4 of them, though i'd updated the vw bus last week).

from there i headed down to clear lake to drop by the credit union and give them my certified divorce decree (which i'd gotten embossed last week by the civil court to help prove it was really certified). of course, my loan officer was out for the day. fortunately, the title clerk (who i'd talked to on the phone earlier to explain that harris county certified divorce decrees no longer come on colored paper or have an embossed seal) was standing at the reception desk, so she helped me. i asked if they could just send the decree back to me via certified (and registered, maybe) mail. i had offered to give them a few bucks, but i had to write an authorization for them to pull the funds out of my account to pay for it instead. i wrote a silly form document with underlines for my name and signature and printed name, and used flowery legaleze. then she told me i'd have to come back to sign the loan documents when they were written up. i started to whine that i have to drive 45 minutes to go there and that was why i was asking them to mail me my divorce decree, so she asked and i learned i could do the paperwork via fax since i had signed or filled out some form or something. i dunno, i just know i shouldn't have to drive down there again just for that, and i'm thankful.

after that i headed back to my side of town and on to wild west honda, where i picked up my motorcycle. i've now got a new rear tire and my 24k maintenance taken care of. i'm glad i got it then, because later in the evening a cold front rolled through and dropped the temps a fair bit.

from the above, you might have been able to surmise that i left the element at the honda shop when i drove my motorcycle back. it having rained and gotten chilly, and the motorcycle now being the only functional means of transportation at my disposal, i spent the rest of the evening/night at home. i took the time to start making a first stab at a logo i'd made up for jack for his business. i also watched some tv, which i rarely do. conan (late night) was really funny.

them's the brakes

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this morning i was on my way to training in my pickup and something bad happened. i was coming up on a stoplight with some cars stopped at it, and while i was braking my brakes popped and then they weren't working. at all.

fortunately i'd already slowed some, maybe to around 15 or 20 mph, and conveniently there was a side street i was able to whip into and then collect my thoughts. i downshifted, then tried my parking brake, which still worked. so i drove back home using downshifting and my parking brake to come to stops. i left my pickup at home and took the element to training.

personally, i think some of the bad mojo that's on the vw camper bus rubbed off on me while i was working on it, and managed to transfer itself to my pickup this morning. i'll be calling some sort of witch doctor soon to see if i can get rid of what's already been transferred, and put some kind of protection on my pickup since i'm going to have to work some more with the camper bus. all i need is yet another vehicle that is unreliable and is generally a pain in my butt. of course, so far the pickup has been good to me. plus there's always the fact that i actually like the pickup and have been planning on sinking money into it anyway, so it should be a different experience no matter what. (and to be honest the pickup's brakes had been making a cyclic thumping sound when i broke hard for the last week or two, so it's not like i had no clue something might be on the verge of happening. i just didn't expect it to be the brakes going completely out.)

old vw, heavy trash

yesterday after training i aired up the two tires i could get to on the vw bus, then pulled the battery (which was dead). i took it to autozone and they tried to charge it, but it was a goner. they gave me a pro-rated rate on a new battery and i brought it home and put it in the bus. then i went to get the key for it, and...i couldn't find it. i searched all over. i still can't find it. which is horribly annoying. i know at least three places where it has been, and where i used to see it, but it wasn't in any of those places. or any of the numerous other places i looked.

i was hoping jack could come over and help me move the bus about a foot into the garage if i couldn't get it started, but then i found out he was out of town for the day/night. so eventually i managed to get it pushed by myself. i needed to do this because i was setting out some stuff for heavy trash day (which was today) and something was trapped between the bus and the garage door rail. i successfully got it out and it's gone to waste heaven now, along with some other stuff.

sunday, kaleo style

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on sunday i finally got up in time to make it to kaleo. eric and amy were there, so having someone i knew helped. the service was okay, about what i'd expect from newer, more recent incarnations of community churches.

the trend for new churches these days seems to be to shuck off some of the stuff that's become the standard fare of nondenoms, and try to reach back into some of the history and depth of the church. a lot of it is sort of done without grounding in the actual church though, so it's sort of sometimes a facade of depth (using iconography, rituals, etc).

kaleo was in the general current vein, though not quite as out there as some gen-x postmodern churches. but not as cheesy as a lot of contemporary non-denoms, and with a smattering of traditional touches in the service. the pastor was pretty young and seemed to a have a good relaxed, casual style for the service, with a message and delivery that tends to sit well with the gen-x/gen-y crowd. the church varies in size week to week, but was probably around 70 people or so (in the service) sunday. i thought the people who went there seemed agreeable, about the kind of people that would go to a more modern non-denom. one nice thing was there appeared to be a bit of age diversity, instead of everyone being in their early to mid 20's. obviously this is all from just one visit, but it seems like a place i might be able to feel reasonably content in.

there were only a few times where i remembered that kaleo is meeting in the building that used to be the ymca where tamara worked for a good while. that made things somewhat awkward, thinking "hey, there's the counter tamara sat behind every morning for months", but fortunately i never really spent any time in the building back then so i can't really tie specific memories involving her to the building other than dropping her off or picking her up a few times. someone told me that west u owns it and they are planning on tearing it down and doing something else with the land.

after the service, i went with the hartleys to lunch at jax's grill. i'd heard of the place, and seen it, but never been there. the food was good. mason (their son) got to sit in my pickup after lunch for a few minutes, which i think satisified him enough since he couldn't ride in it. he seems to be a sharp little kid, aware of what's going on and what people are saying, and is able to string together ideas and concepts pretty well and argue a point he's taken. he certainly talks and expresses himself like he's thinking everything out very thoroughly before he speaks.

bless this house

remember how i said the delay in selling my house was going to make things less convenient for me? scratch that. because the process is still going and we haven't set a closing date yet, the timeframe to move has conveniently passed completely over all of my training time. which worked out incredibly well, because my training location is really close to my house. if i would have moved already, i'd be having to drive a ways back to the west side of houston. instead, i get to have a short drive for my two weeks of training. then assuming closing occurs within the next week or so, i'll only have a few days after training to still have to drive all the way from the southwest side into the middle of town. this all actually could play out beautifully.

grab bag

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as i mentioned before, i was in training tuesday through friday of this week. i went to lunch with the class instructor every day. he's from canada and had only been in Texas a couple of times before. thursday evening i took him out for some Texas bbq at luling city market on richmond. as a proud native Texan, how could i in good conscience not do that?

thursday between the time the class ended and when i met him at luling city market, i dropped my motorcycle off for a new rear tire and the 24k maintenance. sue and her entourage followed in my element and met me at the dealership. on the way there, on whatever farm to market westheimer turns into, i thought i ran out of gas. there was nowhere to pull over so i just kind of coasted to the curb on right side of the road. there was no shoulder, or pull-offs, or anything. so it was fairly dark and three lanes of traffic were coming at me at 50 to 70 mph. i was really concerned i and/or my motorcycle was going to get destroyed. i called sue to see if she if she could stop and get me gas. this also meant i wasn't going to make it to the dealership before the service area closed. then something clicked in my head and i went to the bike and felt the gas valve. for some reason, when i got on the bike at the house i'd thought it was on reserve, so when it ran out i thought i was done. it was actually on regular, so i still had my reserve left. about this time a guy on a motorcycle pulled up behind me to see if i needed help. at this point i was feeling stupid for making such a dumb mistake, and now i had another biker there. plus he was behind me, so now i was worried about him getting killed by a car. i told him it was a gas problem but i should be able to get a little further, plus i had someone coming to help me. so he took off, then i hopped on the bike, flipped the valve to reserve, and took off. i got to the shop a little after service area is supposed to close, but they hadn't closed up yet so they let me drop it off. thank goodness, because it was cold and dark and i'd made a stupid mistake, so i really didn't want to have to turn right around and ride home.

today we got out of training around 12:30pm, so i had quite a few normal business hours to take care of some stuff...

first i went by the civil court house to get a "real" certified harris county divorce decree. what i learned there is that what my attorney sent me is a certified divorce decree. it turns out everything is electronic these days, so you don't get an embossed seal on it, and it's on regular white paper. both the dmv and the bank think it's going to be on pink or yellow paper and/or it'll have an embossed seal. nope, that's not true anymore. but evidently the word hasn't gotten out. the clerk at the county office was nice enough to take my paper with the electronic seal and stamp on top of it with their seal so it is embossed now.

while i was there, i went ahead and got a certified copy of the court approved qdro as well. and she embossed the county seal on it as well. my next step will be to call my retirement folk and see if i can submit it to them myself instead of waiting on tamara and/or her attorney's office to take care of it. the clerk seemed to think neither attorney is responsible for submitting the qdro to my retirement fund company. i'm not sure whose job it is then, since tamara's attorney acted like it was their side but they never told me tamara was supposed to do it. whatever the case, i'll figure it out and then i'll send them a letter.

from the civil court office i headed over to the dmv to get the title of the vw bus changed into just my name. last time they told me i needed the title and a power of attorney, or a certified divorce decree. but last time i never could find the title so i didn't have it, and i had at the time what they thought was a generic copy of the divorce decree. this time i came armed with the same decree, just with the embossed seal. (i still haven't ever found that stupid old title though.) they accepted the divorce decree this time, but they wouldn't have if it didn't have that raised seal. anyway, i successfully managed to get the title of the bus changed into just my name though. i was hoping maybe i could get them to correct the typo they made on the title to my pickup, but they told me i needed to have the title with me. i'll have to save that one for another day.

from the dmv i headed over to a big post office at the edge of downtown on franklin, where i submitted my application for a passport. that took an hour and a half, mostly of waiting, but they accepted all of my paperwork and i should be getting my passport within a couple of weeks. i've never had a passport before. i'm thinking there may be a trip to hong kong, taiwan, and/or china in my near future.

the original plan was to next head down to clear lake to go by the bank and take them the now-even-more-certified certified divorce decree -- that way when they took over the financing on the element they could get the title changed to just be in my name (since the leinholder keeps the title and i can't actually make changes to it myself). unfortunately, there wasn't going to be enough time for me to drive down there before they closed, so i had to delay that task for another day. but since it's going to take up to 10 to 15 business days for honda financial to get my bank a fax of the current title, it's really not a pressing concern.

all told, i accomplished a fair bit this afternoon. time having run out for accomplishing tasks, i headed to niko niko's to eat a late lunch and early supper. afterward, i dropped by the half price books near westheimer and montrose where i picked up a couple of books and one cd:

  • * houston: a history by david g. mccomb (university of Texas press)
  • * lone star rising: the revolutionary birth of the Texas republic by william c. davis (free press)
  • * i'll sail my ship alone - moon mullican (proper)

after that i headed over to tropioca for the geek gathering (a monthly event of the radio show i'm a part of). it was a pretty decent crowd, although as usual it was people trickling in and out over the hours of the gathering.

in completey unrelated events, boltz dropped the prices on their bed frames. it's very possible there may be a new bed frame in my future after i move.

clowns and mascot outfits

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okay, i'm going to talk about the coworker and mascot outfits...

there are a couple of things i've kind of got quirks about. well, a couple that i'm about to talk about. they're not full on phobias or uncontrollable responses or anything, just urges or feelings. neither one of these are all that uncommon either. the first is clowns. the second is people in mascot outfits (or any person dressed up in a full body outfit, though they are usually of an animal or some kind of team mascot).

clowns make me uncomfortable for a couple of reasons. the first is they have this garish makeup that is painted to look like a big smile, or frown, or whatever, and they wear outlandish clothes. neither of these go on the positive side of my comfort scale. you have no idea what's going on with them underneath all that makeup and those loud, weird clothes.

the second (and bigger) reason is that being dressed as a clown gives people the freedom to do socially unacceptable and bizarre things, including being rude, stupid, tricky, etc. i'm not a big fan of not knowing what someone might or might not do. especially when it can be completely outside the bounds of any normal socially accepted behaviour. but because they're dressed like clowns, suddenly everyone thinks it's okay.

clowns are sort of like a socially acceptable version of an insane person...you know, like the half-naked, unshaven guy in the dirty trench-coat carrying a ping pong paddle and a half empty bottle of thunderbird (and what's in it is yellow, smells bad, and probably warm), screaming stuff to the sky, singing undecipherable nonsense, and giving you the evil eye. just put some garish makeup on the guy and suddenly he's the entertainment for children's parties. it's just not right, i tell you.

so i don't like the clowns so much. a fear of clowns is a well-known phobia in society -- i just have a healthy fear. don't hate 'em, don't freak out uncontrollably around 'em -- i'd just rather them not be near me or interact with me.

as for the mascot outfits -- it's not so much that i don't like being around them...although they do exhibit some of the same traits as a clown. come to think of it, i think clowns are more creepy while mascots are less threatening...pissed off clowns are scary while pissed off mascots are funny.... okay, back to matter at hand...it's not so much that i don't like being around them, it's that i have a very strong urge to want to tackle them and punch them.

c'mon, who hasn't seen videos of this stuff? who hasn't seen two mascots in a fight and thought it was hilarious? who hasn't seen some guy tackle a guy in a full body outfit and laughed at the scene? and surely you've seen small children attack or tackle someone dressed up in a mascot outfit. this is all common culture stuff. (think i'm joking? try going to youtube.com and do a search for "mascot fight" and see what you get.)

well, i'm one of the people who have that tendency. i think it's hilarious. as a good example: last year at xmas a coworker came through the office dressed in a huge full body frosty the snowman outfit -- i had a really difficult time not tackling him or knocking him to the ground. and i would have been laughing my fool head off the whole time just picturing the scene in my mind.

so what does this have to do with my coworker? being aware of this quirk of mine, he rented a full body mascot outfit of a dalmation dog and wore it at work on monday. (he was going to wear it on halloween but i was going to be in training so he wore it monday for me.) he did it with the knowledge that i would be tackling him. so several times on monday at work our coworkers got to turn the hallway corner in the office and see me chasing down and tackling a large human-sized bipedal dalmation. i even got a carpet-burn on one of my elbows. but man, it was worth it to be able to take down and pummel one of those things.

my coworker claimed he was doing it for me, because he knew how giddy it'd make me. whether it was actually just altruistic on his part or not, i really did enjoy having the opportunity to do it without the fear of retribution or being sued.

making house calls once again...

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interesting news on the house front. this morning the realtor called and told me tamara's attorney's office told her they hadn't been in touch with tamara for a year. which seems absurd to me, but would imply they never got her the information i gave them to get to her back in july. of course, they never told me they didn't get it to her, as they haven't been in touch with me since july.

anyway, the realtor asked for tamara's parents' phone number, which i provided. tonight the realtor called to tell me she'd finally been in touch with tamara. this afternoon, evidently. tamara said that she'd been in the hospital due to some jaw/tooth infection issues. (she'd had a problem with that same thing while we were married, and had to get a bridge.) anyway, she evidently signed all the paperwork today and got someone to fax it to the title company. my realtor said she would talk to the title company and the other realtor/buyer tomorrow, but closing will probably be on friday or maybe on monday.

i don't really trust that's how it'll play out, given how things have unfolded so far; nor do i really know that the story behind tamara's delay is really that simple. but maybe it is that simple, and everything from here on out will go smoothly. it'd be a nice change.

of course, the delay does mean my move will be less convenient for me, as i'm attending (local) training this week and next week. missing a day of work is no big deal at all, but missing a day of a four-day training class is sort of pain. depending on when closing is, i may see if i can get a few extra days in the house and offer to pay for them or something.

i've got other stuff to write about sometime, including a few books i've finished but never mentioned yet, plus a story about a co-worker and mascot outfits. but those'll have to wait for now.

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