All posts by tim

Scary driving trends.

Picture of Stella and I waltzing that I should have posted yesterday:

We took Stella to the Town Lake park to run in the sprinklers again. It was fantastic. We let her just run around. There’s really nowhere she can go that we can’t see her, so rather than following her around like we normally do we just let her roam. She had a lot of fun. She really seemed to enjoy the water jets this time. Actually getting into them. They didn’t seem to frighten her that much. She made a friend too. And then proceeded to take her hand and lead her around the park showing her all the things she had been doing. It was super cute.

But on the way home we encountered a crazy driver. This is the second time this week I’ve seen someone do this (different cars), so I have a fear it is a trend. Basically we were the lead car in the right hand lane. The lane could go straight or turn right. We were going straight. There was no one in the left hand lane. The guy behind us honked at us. Then pulled into the left hand lane and turned right from the left hand lane – directly in front of us! I saw this earlier in the week at another stoplight. What’s up with this?

Dry-wall! Dry-wall!

We have our pre-drywall inspection scheduled for Monday. According to the salespeople it’s 4-6 weeks from that meeting to our close. Wow that could potentially be the first week in November. Craziness. We find out our close date on Monday supposedly too.

Rock and Roll!

Man They’re Quick

So three days later we went back out. We brought our inspector with us:

They have put in electrics, the house numbers, finished up the siding, finished up the windows, added railings to the stairs, and finished all additional framing. It was amazing.

Most exciting for me was the garage door pre-wiring. We paid something like $75 for garage door pre-wiring. I was expecting this to be like our last house with their ceiling fan “pre-wires”. You paid the protection fee, and they made sure they actually bothered to put electricity in your ceiling. Then they put an ugly little plate on top of the electrical box. The box was probably not flush with the drywall, and they probably didn’t use enough staples to install the spanner bar, but you got the electricity.

The garage door prewire in this house is awesome. There are electrical boxes for the two motion sensors at the front of the garage. There is a box for the electrical and for the control switch connection in the ceiling, and there’s a box by the back door for the actual control. Amazing. Now it will only take me 4 hours to install rather than 8. And it will look fantastic. I’ll be able to have tours of my wire-free garage! Sign up now!

If I’d known that we’d have this long and that we’d have our 20% down payment saved I would have insisted that we pay to have them install the garage door opener. That has got to be the worst job on earth. Seriously.

Running in the Dark

So, I get up to run at 6:30. It’s gotten to the point where it is dark for the first half of my run. The other day I was running and a guy ran onto the trail in front of me. I was slowly gaining on him, and I figured he could hear me behind him.

Cuteness

Stella was having a rough morning. She got up at 6:50. This really sucks because I’ve already gone out running at that point and that means Julie has to get up with her. Her grandparents were stirring so I think all the wandering around woke her up. We went through our usual morning routine. Including the “Daddy does not have time to feed you breakfast/gnashing of teeth/winging routine”. I took her back upstairs and told her to go see mommy. She wandered down the hall, but detoured into her room. There she picked up a book, and her blanket and headed back down the hall to Mommy’s room.

It was super cute.

Kids are smart

This story on CNN is great. Here’s an excerpt:

State Rep. Matthew Barrett was giving a civics lesson Tuesday when he inserted a data memory stick into the school computer and the projected image of a topless woman appeared instead of the graphics presentation he had downloaded.

Barrett said there were a few snickers from the approximately 20 students in the senior government class at Norwalk High School when the image appeared. He said he immediately pulled the memory stick out of the computer.

So what did we learn? Kids can handle an image of a naked lady in their high school civics class. Chances are those snickers were at his complete lack of computer skills. But seems par for the course for the PowerPoint types. I’m surprised this doesn’t happen in more of the meetings I go to at work.

Surreal

I never blogged about this, but we were driving past Oaks Treatment Center on Stassney a while back. It’s some sort of juvenile group home. And as we drove by we see this teenage girl running for the road,

Test that Theory

So I’ve been an advocate of making the suburbs more dense as well as the urban core. Looks like I’ll get a chance to test that theory out.

We went by the house yesterday and were shocked to see that one curb was painted bright red and labeled as a fire lane. The other side of the street had parallel parking spaces painted out. Our side of the street has the parking. We were a bit distraught when we saw it. Because, you know, you kind of get to expect that your neighborhood is going to look a certain way, and then they paint an entire curb bright red. Like you’re at the grocery store. I’ve calmed down now. But new home builders are really bad about actually knowing what they’re building, and notifying the new home owners. Or maybe they’re just really smart.

We went in and confronted the on-duty sales lady. She said the sales office had no clue that there wasn’t going to be parking on both sides of the street until they painted in the fire lane. And she said that if people didn’t like it, they could always back out on their house. Then the company could resell. Which they would like because the cost of the houses have gone up about 15-20% since they started selling them. We were both a little taken aback by a little too much honesty there.

Oh, and she said that we shouldn’t have expected that this was a “party” neighborhood. Like we’re planning on having a kegger. ‘Cause having 2 cars worth of people over to dinner is a really big “party”. She was really rather unpleasant. I think we might have gotten the idea that one could have parties in our house, by the fact that one room is labeled the “great room”. I realize some people need a “great room” to house their godzillatron, but I’m assuming many of us expect to simply have multiple people over to visit in our “great rooms”. Plus even the people with the godzillatron might want to invite people over to watch it with them.

So today I got on the city’s website, and looked up all the site plans. Of course, the parking spaces, and fire lanes were in the original site plans. Very clearly labeled. Ah well.

We’re doing better than most. Most of the people on our street can get at most exactly one car into their driveway. By car, I’m referring to a car. Not a sedan, SUV, or boat. We can get two large vehicles in comfortably. Plus we have a parking space in front of our house. Plus we only have one car that we’re going to store in the garage. Of course our neighbor across the street can only place one car in their driveway. Anyone want to take bets on whether or not they’ll always be parking in that space?

I’m really look forward to the parking wars that the new HOA is going to have to deal with. I’m thinking of running for the board.

In looking at the site plans I found out some other interesting things:

1) That pond in the front appears to be just a retention pond (which explains why they appear to be building a fence around it). The actual pond is in the back of the neighborhood.If you look as you get near Stassney on Westgate there’s a creek that goes under the road. That creek appears to drain into the real pond.

2) We have a 13″ diameter Elm in our front yard, and a 9″ diameter hackberry in our backyard. We’ll be getting another tree shading our driveway in front. We’ll also be getting another one in the back to block the view of our back neighbors which is nice. They appear to be putting a lot of the “2 developer provided trees” in the backyard which is good, since many of the front yards are postage stamps that already contain large trees.

3) There will be a nature trail with crushed granite running from the mailboxes into the second phase of the neighborhood.

4) There will be crushed granite trails exiting the neighborhood onto Buffalo Pass in both directions. This is nice, as you can take Buffalo pass up to jones road and hop on the Sunset Valley hike and bike trail. You can also take buffalo pass up to Pack saddle pass and get to Central Market, which will be good for avoiding Westgate while riding my bike.

5) Wow, just looking at the Sunset Valley trails list. That town is lousy with green space.

5) Our neighborhood is zoned SF-6 and are either townhomes or condominiums as far as the city is concerned, no matter what the homebuilder feels like calling them.

So it’s going to be interesting having parties in the new house. I’m thinking about getting one of those electric shuttles like they have at Six Flags and having everyone park at Thrift Town. Then I’ll take my shuttle over there and pick them up. Or people will just have to ride the bus to our new house.

This is going to be interesting.

Update: This Salon story points out some interesting things about the true cost of parking and why you can always find free parking in downtown Austin if you just drive 4 blocks away from your destination.

The future of "downtown" Austin

So I was looking at this website to rally support against the development of an apartment complex in the North Loop area:

http://www.ilovenorthloop.com

Don’t bother commenting. They don’t want your input. Unless you’re a property owner in the neighborhood and against the development in question. I can completely understand why a neighborhood that is approx. 70% (often rundown) rentals would not want a set of new luxury apartments next door.

They’re citing traffic concerns though, which I think is a horrible strategy. Supposedly it’s going to add about 2000 new car trips per day, which is about what Grand Oaks added. That’s the neighborhood that was built across from our old neighborhood. You’d encounter 4-7 extra cars at the busiest times of day, but nothing horrible. My guess is that the developers will just get an analysis of the traffic on Koenig and probably point out that 2000 cars go through that area every 30 minutes at peak times of day (or something close to it). 2000 extra trips a day is pretty small potatoes on a major thoroughfare. Of course, it’s easier to frighten people with the image of 2000 cars, rather than pointing out that they’re probably talking about 500 cars (2/per 250 units) taking 4 trips a day.

Of course unless the city gets single district voting, chances are as the inner city gets more and more dense the desires of the residents of these sparsely populated neighborhoods will get heard less and less.

But it got me thinking again about the nature of those neighborhoods and their long term viability. The Chronicle did a writeup on the Domain this week. If you’re not up on what they’re doing out there you should take a look:

http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase/Issue/story?oid=oid%3A543305

Basically, the thinking right now is that they’ll build a second downtown up North. Second downtown is a euphamism. It’s basically an endcap. If you look at a map of Austin it becomes clear that “downtown” is no longer actually the area bordered by I-35, MoPac, MLK, and the River. Downtown is everything inside the I-35, MoPac, 183, 71 loop. And if you think about the commuter rail and developments like the Domain and the Concordia redevelopment I think the eventual goal is to have downtown encompass everything from downtown to downtown north. The center of town will increasingly become a dense business district with a university and small incredibly affluent pocket communities ala Houston. I think it’s what we’re going to be seeing. I predict the next decade is going to be very interesting for Austin.

I’m really hoping that eventually I’ll be able to walk from my house all the way up to the domain through a vibrant downtown if I want to. I’ve always seen the looping bike paths that run from the UT area all the way down to the Hike and Bike trails as a promise of what Austin could be like. A place to walk and explore. With lots of people out and about. That’d be pretty cool.

Our house with siding.

In case anyone is wondering, I’m doing this documentation so I can look back at it later. I know it’s not the most fascinating thing ever.

Sidetrack

On a side note I really need to harass the city about the state of the sidewalks between Westgate and Manchaca on Stassney. There are 5 buses in the area but heaven help you if you want to walk home. Where there is sidewalk it’s split and crumbling, and there are large stretches with no sidewalk at all. How do they get away with this? You start building a sidewalk and then decide you don’t feel like building one 4’x4′ square? It’s really that bad. It’s not just like some builders didn’t feel like connecting their sidewalk to another piece of sidewalk. It’s like the same builder didn’t feel like connecting their own sidewalk to itself. There’s also a really interesting piece right by a bus stop with no sidewalk where you have to go up a 45 degree incline (vertical and horizontal) while dodging a tree. I imagine it’s fun when there’s mud. I know there are a lot of mobility impaired people living in the area, I’m puzzled how they deal with this.

Ok, on to the pictures. They finished the plumbing at the same time. It’s really startling to have a home builder who can have 2 teams working on the house at once.