You know what I realized on my vacation? There is only one reason Austin is getting so many toll roads. We have a Republican legislature. That’s it. End of story. I
So I added a widget on the left to keep track of my running. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep it up to date. I’m using a site called runometer which looks to make it easier to keep track of what I’m doing than the “official” site. Plus this will let me stop managing my iPod with Julie’s computer running Vista.
The only problem with posting my runs is that my iPod is a little jacked in the distance department. I’ve looked at a 5k I ran competitively (that should be pretty darn close to 5k in distance), and compared that with what my iPod thinks. If my iPod thinks I’ve run a 5k I’ve actually run 4 miles (rather than 3.2). Just to let you know that I’m not as slow as the widget makes me out to be.
Julie and I went to Port Aransas this past weekend. We dropped off Stella with her MiMi in Houston and just took off. We stayed in a condo with a pool and a hottub. It was wonderful. We ate lots of food. Friday was fried seafood (not so good), Saturday was Mexican Seafood (fantastic crab enchiladas), and Sunday was Italian Seafood (lump crab and sausage pasta). Did I mention it was relaxing? We did nothing. We sat in the hot tub every night. We spent hours talking on the balcony and drinking wine. We took a walk on the beach in the dark. The most tiring thing we did was buying a new bathing suit for Julie. Her old one was practically falling off in the waves. So Julie now has a bikini. It was a good vacation.
We came back and they’d made great progress on the house. See below.
My Mom’s currently in Michigan taking care of my Grandma, and my Dad has gone to Houston for the weekend, so last night Julie and I had a pizza and a bottle of wine. Which was wonderful.
Plus we went to take pictures for a calendar that ACOT is putting together. It was a lot of fun. We took them at a new park that’s just opened. Afterwards the kids got to play in the water fountains and pools. This picture totally sums up how I feel this week:
We went to see the house on Tuesday and they’ve really kept working. The second floor is done, the gables are up, and everything’s coming along. This week they’ve added siding and the decking for the roof. It’s going fast. Here are some new pictures:
The view from the playroom.
Here are all the house pictures, a bit late. I guess my parent’s must have taken pictures of the house with just the first story. I’m hoping to have pictures of the house with a roof tonight.
Just a foundation with roads:
The view out of Stella’s window. The window seat goes in that rather large hole in the frame:
The happy family in front of what is rapidly becoming their new house:
Was reading the history of CapMetro on their site. And came across this:
Some of the original member jurisdictions have since voted to withdraw from Capital Metro and deny bus service to their area. These include West Lake Hills, Rollingwood, Cedar Park and Pflugerville.
I’d always assumed that CapMetro just hadn’t expanded there fully. But if that’s the way they want to play I think we should withdraw from letting them drive on our roads. I also like the fact that we provide park and ride service to cities that don’t even pay for it.
So basically Northerners and Westerners clog up our roads (that they don’t pay for), get bus service into downtown (that they don’t pay for), on coaches that are far nicer than normal Cap Metro buses (that they don’t pay for), with free WiFi (that they don’t pay for). No wonder a house in Austin costs twice what a house in Plugerville does. We’re essentially buying half their house for them.
We have a second floor! We really weren’t expecting anything since it rained all yesterday morning, but last night on the bus ride home I noticed a wooden framework peeking out from behind two houses where one wasn’t before. I piled the entire family (including Baba and Grandaddy) into the car and we trekked over there.
It’s looking great. They obviously were a little rushed yesterday. The back wall wasn’t up, and some of the interior was missing, but our roof had been delivered so it looks like they’re going to get caught up quickly. The view out of the window in Stella’s room that has the window seat is amazing. It looks directly out on 3 trees and across the street at a giant oak. I can’t wait to curl up with her there with a book. The master bedroom is going to have some nice tree views too.
We went across the street to walk through a version of our house that’s further along. Julie concedes that the master closet might be big enough. We’ve been sharing a closet at my parent’s house that is a third of the size in our new house and we haven’t killed each other yet, so I’m cautiously optimistic.
On to other stuff. Stella reads constantly. This morning while I was in the shower she read a book the entire time. She loudly narrates the story to herself. I don’t know what it’s about, but she keeps herself well entertained let me tell you.
This weekend we went on a 5 mile loop of the hike and bike trail with Baba and Granddaddy while Julie had a theater meeting. Afterwards we headed to McDonalds for Stella’s first Happy Meal. I don’t think she was that impressed. On the up side McDonald’s has probably the most nutritious kids meal on the planet. You can get 4 chicken nuggets, apples and milk. Compare that to most of the places around town like Magnolia and Kerbey where you get a choice between Grilled Cheese, a hamburger, or pasta.
The first floor of our new house is framed. I walked through it last night. It’s a bit surreal. The house is set back a bit more from the road than the houses around us. Which is nice. We have a small front yard with a big porch. Which is nice. I went through and looked out all the windows. Front window is going to be really nice to watch the street. Lucy and Roxie will be able to see out without having to stand on their hind legs which I think they’re going to love (it has a really low sill).
The side window in the living room is a bit of a bust. It looks directly onto the neighbor’s yellowish brown siding. It’ll provide light into what could have been a dark corner of the room. If the fence is far enough forward we’ll be able to plant something out there. Who knows… I see Punky spending a lot of time looking out this window freaking us out. As though someone was hiding in the 4 feet between our house and the fence.
The back window in the great room and side window in the kitchen look out onto the only treeless part of the yard. After looking at it last night I’ve decided to put a fountain in that area surrounded by the cactus I brought with me from the old house.
The sliding doors in the kitchen look out on trees. Glorious trees, and that’s the view that you’ll see when you come in the front door. It’ll be nice. The window over the kitchen sink also looks out on trees. It’s definitely the best view on the first story. Maybe I’ll rotate my island so that I can look out that window while I cook.
The final window is in the laundry room, and unfortunately it also looks out directly on siding. This siding is a dark brown color. Ah well, I suppose it’s better than no window at all.
We’re going by tonight with a camera so tomorrow there will be pictures. And hopefully when we get there they’ll be a second story.
So now that we’re done with the house. I just have to relate that the muse has hit me. A gentleman on the bus has inspired the protagonist and plot for my next play. It’s fantastic. I love when things fall together like that.
He was going off this morning on a libertarian/anti-free trade rant (I realize those are quazi-incompatible, but this guy wasn’t short on contradictions), telling college students (I guess today was the first day of class?) that they were wasting their time. That he – even with his associates degree in computer science from Austin Community College – could not find a job. The system was rigged! And he had been relegated to working construction building a house. The house was financed by a rich man from New York, and was for his son. And not that he’s racist or anything, he has nothing against Hispanics, if you show him your green card and id he’s totally cool with you. But the guys on the site don’t speak English, and they’re taking jobs from people like him. And you know why this has all happened? Because the United States doesn’t have tarrifs anymore. Tarrifs are there to project jobs for American workers. And now that we don’t have them all the jobs are going away.
Fantastic stuff. I now have a main character, conflict, and an actor to write for. I think this is going to be fun.
They should commence building our house next week, because we have roads! We might move into this house yet!
Oh, and you really should read the articles to the right (Teachers: Be Subversive, and Incorruptible and Forever). They’re not in any way related, but they’re both fantastic.
I am not a thorough person. If there is an opportunity for slapdasherry I am your man. If you want to accurately sort 3000 assorted beads into appropriately labeled bins, I am not. That said, I am afraid of ceiling fans. Or more accurately already installed ceiling fans, and builder pre-blocking of ceiling fans. Because there’s a lot of slapdash, hacked up stuff going on under a lot of ceiling fans. Stuff that’s too slapdash for me. But I’m getting ahead of myself, last night I went over to help the Holmes install ceiling fans.
So I volunteered to help the Holmes install some ceiling fans. I’ve installed 5 (six if you count last night), and I can do them pretty quickly now so I figured it would make the work lighter. Plus he helped me build my deck. Not the applying the decking part which is fun and gives you a great sense of accomplishment. Nope, he helped me with the structure. The concrete removal, and 3 weeks of geometry, and levels, and moving heavy beams around. Plus I like hanging out with him.
I got over there, and the Holmes had discovered what I already knew. Installing a ceiling fan is pretty easy. Time consuming. Tiring on your arms as the blood keeps flowing out as you try to work. But easy. He was about half done with one when I got there. I went to work on the second one. I tore down the old fan. Pulled a medallion off the ceiling, and got ready to screw on the hanger bracket. One problem. The screws on the sides of the hanger bracket ended up somewhere in the middle of the drywall, because some tool decided that putting the electrical box 2 cms above the drywall was close enough to flush. I monkeyed with it, trying to figure out if I could make it work. Because I’m not above hackery if it’ll work. But in monkeying I realized that the electrical box was only attached to one beam. Attached by two screws and some staples on a piece of angle iron that was glued to the box. Those staples looked great as long as the glue holds. I ended up pulling out the old electrical box, and the Holmes and I drove off to the Lowes in search of a metal fan brace. Brace in hand we returned. This was at about 8:00. Stella was up past her bedtime, and I hadn’t even started installing the fan.
I installed the brace. They’re pretty cool. They’re a metal bar with a foot on either end. You feed it through the opening in the ceiling and twist the bar to expand it, until both feet are bumping up against a joist. It also happens to be really secure. You could probably do chip ups on one. Not that I recommend that. Attaching the actual junction box to the bar is always a laugh and a half, but 20 minutes I had the whole setup working and was actually ready to install the fan. The fan went pretty fast. I was able to get Travis’ verification on the wiring so I didn’t have to spend 20 minutes deciphering the directions to verify I was doing it right. I got the whole thing up and the light kit attached. We turned it on and everything worked. I had to take it apart one last time because some of the wires in the light kit were bumping up against the fan blades and making a clicking sound, but ultimately it went up and turned on the first time.
So the fan installation was not slapdash. The fan is very securely attached to the ceiling and it looks a whole lot more attractive. Plus if anyone over 6 foot buys the condo they won’t loose their head. For some reason a lot of people like to use the drop kits with 8 foot ceilings.
I left the Holmes with a decimated bedroom. His comforter was covered in insulation and drywall, and there were screws and pieces of Styrofoam and plastic everywhere. I’m completely like those installer guys you hire and then complain about because they trash your house. Yeah that’s me, and my thoroughness is the reason that the Holmes was dumpster diving late at night. Because I’m so methodical that I bury unattached parts of the fan under a pile of trash.