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

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

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

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

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…

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.