Category Archives: Ramblings


Julie awarded me a cool blogging award. That’s awesome. Actually she awarded it to me yesterday and I’m just now getting around to posting on it. So, I’ve been thinking about who to spotlight. I’ve been told that the thing people find most entertaining about my blog is the sheer randomness. And my spelling mistakes. So in that tradition here are my top 5 :

Austin Real Estate Blog

I have no clue why I’m so fascinated by real estate information. It’s goofy. But these guys slice and dice MLS data like seasoned statisticians. Fascinating for the arm chair realtor.

Cabinet of Wonders

Just go look. It’s always interesting over there. I can’t categorize or summarize. You’ll just learn something.

French Laundry at Home

The best cooking site I’ve found. The pictures are amazing and somehow the food always gets related to real life in creative ways.

M1EK’s Bake-Sale of Bile

More Austin new urbanism ranting. Frankly you need more ranting in your life, especially from a fellow Austin bus rider. Sign up for the RSS feed.

Daddy Types

This is my daddy technology/vintage toys/youtube video source. I can’t read most Daddy Blog’s because they’re too damn saccharine. Greg has a great sarcasm/seriousness mix.

So that’s it for me. Enjoy!

I know I’m enjoying the new paint on the front of the house.

I also was putting away our Christmas decorations in the attic last night (and swearing at Julie under my breath), when I put my foot through the bottom stair. Thankfully it was the bottom stair. There are definitely downsides to owning 40 year old houses.

Hopefully there were no mangled homonyms in this post.

you can’t spell xmas without x

So we talked about the origin of the word Xmas in church a few weeks ago, and I wanted to share. Apparently Xmas as a substitute for Christmas is religious, from wikipedia (search:Xmas):

The word “Christ” and its compounds, including “Christmas”, have been abbreviated for at least the past 1,000 years, long before the modern “Xmas” was commonly used. “Christ” was often written as “XP” or “Xt”; there are references in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as far back as 1021 AD. This X and P arose as the uppercase forms of the Greek letters χ and ρ), used in ancient abbreviations for Χριστος (Greek for “Christ”), and are still widely seen in many Eastern Orthodox icons depicting Jesus Christ. The labarum, an amalgamation of the two Greek letters rendered as , is a symbol often used to represent Christ in Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Christian Churches.[1]

All you atheists are on notice to come up with a new way to mock the birth of the Christ child.

But hopefully you’ve learned something. I like to learn things. I guess this is why I have no desire to buy this new product from the people who brought you “The War on Christmas” – Brawndo.

bust ’em up!

I’m so tired of AT&T. Why do we have to put up with monopolies? It just blows my mind. We broke them up because they provided horrible service, and now they’re almost completely back together again. And Wikipedia cites the Center for Responsive Politics when it says that AT&T is the second largest political contributer in the US since 1990.

…haven’t slept a wink

I get more creative at night. I say this because I had to leave to drive my parents to the airport at 4:20 this morning. So I didn’t go to sleep. I’m much worse off with a little sleep than I am with no sleep. My grandma is dying. That’s why I had to take them to the airport. I’ll miss my grandma, but most of all I’ll miss my grandma and grandpa’s house. Located in Flint, MI it was the Thomas Family hub. I remember summer spent days down in the bowels of its basement, or playing in the sprinkler in the back yard, or doing gymnastics on the front lawn. But there weren’t many of them.

Days in Flint that is. Not Thomases. There’s are plenty of Thomases.

No need to get maudlin though. If Flint’s real estate market stays the same I expect that the house could be in the family for generations.

Just remember. If you’re feeling priced out of Austin you can always move to Flint. Houses on my Grandparent’s street average around $32k. 2 story. 2000+ ft2 4 bedroom houses. I believe my Grandparent’s is 2 bedroom. 3 if you count the converted basement.

So I wrote last night. And then I took them to the airport, and then I tooled around Austin.

First stop I wound around east riverside. There’s a lot of cool stuff over there. And it’s gentrified a lot since I lived over there. There are some amazingly large expensive houses across the street from some of the skeezy places on Montopolis. There are entire suburbs over there. Tons of stuff off the Golf Course. It really looks like people have realized that there’s a bunch of property over there that’s on a lake or a golf course.

Then I drove by our new house. Yeah, I’m buzzing neighbourhoods at 4:30am. So what? Does that make me a stalker?

Then I was bored so I drove through our old new neighbourhood. The house is still looking very unfinished. They haven’t painted it, and they had every light in the place blazing. At 4:30am. Green building it is not.

Then still being bored I drove by our old old house. That one is still up for lease. Some of my plants might eat the neighbors soon. The Thai Basil looks like it’s 4 feet tall.

But the house is still up for lease. It’s been 4 months. Hopefully our Californian investor will sell it at a loss and a nice family will snatch it up.

So I’m back at home waiting for Stella to wake up any minute now. Then off to work, and another night of write, write, write!

We’re going to Evant on Saturday and Sunday so hopefully that will afford me even more opportunities to write.

WRITE! WRITE! WRITE! Dah, dah, dah, da, da, da, da…

oh, and go read the Austin Contrarian’s explanation of what a VMU is and how they work. Everyone should be edumacated. I can’t wait until the redo riverside. I’d post a link, but I’m lazy, and sleepy, so use the Google.

school districts and money

This map is fascinating:

Looking at it, you might think it was a rough map of income levels in Austin. Actually it’s the school district map. It’s fascinating how you can actually see the tendrils of gentrification stretching into east austin. Plucking out the water front views and academic residences. And the tendrils shooting the other way, pulling in the centralized apartment ghettos. The hook in District 6 that extracts the sub-200k houses from district 7. I wish I could find the historical maps on this one. I think it would probably be a fascinating look at gentrification.

I read this Statesman article over the weekend that talks about the destruction of some of the final cheap apartments with waterfront views. Frankly, I can’t be that sympathetic to those people. I used to live in apartments around there and I was constantly trying to figure out how one got one of those sweet super-cheap water-front apartments. But it will be interesting to see if that tendril from District 6 will stretch over to grab the rest of the south east town lake shore line in the future.

Paul Burka had a really interesting article on the changing demographics of Texas recently. It’s especially interesting when taken in context with our school systems. If you look at the “good schools” in Austin ISD you’ll see that they’re the schools that are majority white. But if you look at the changing demographics of our state it’s obvious that these “good schools” are not sustainable. And are in fact undesirable. We’re creating a very strong delineation between the upper and lower middle classes. And all the publicly available statistics on race, income, and test scores cement these delineations through real estate prices. I strongly believe that real estate is the strongest bastion of racism in the US today. And it’s so innocuous. It’s much easier for even the most liberal multi-culturally minded potential home buyer to say that a school with 87% of the kids getting free or reduced lunches has a negative effect on property values, than it is to say that a school with 96% minority students has a negative effect on property values.

What are we going to do if the majority of the US cannot sustain itself? Especially with the retirement of the Baby Boomers looming. We’re going to have some massive bills to pay in the future if we don’t make some investments today.

That said, I actually got really excited for Stella over the weekend. My guess is that she’s going to grow up learning a lot of Spanish. And that’s a very cool opportunity. It’s hard to stretch out from the communities we’re used to. I spent the entire 2 years I was in the Soviet Union inside. Learning nothing about the culture. I know only a few words in Russian. 1 in Kazakh.

I think it’s too easy to live in our own mono-cultures, and it’s very hard to step outside of them. I don’t think it’s just racism. I think we’re still very much programmed for tribalism. What are suburbs if not medieval fiefdoms with their localized governments (HOAs) and walls and moats? So hopefully this new house will be a chance to step outside of the world we’ve been inhabiting.

I was talking to an actor friend during the run of Little Murders, and one of his guesses about why we were having such poor turnout was gas prices. Which shocked me because I’ve become somewhat immune to gas prices (public transport, single car with high mpg). And it made me realize that I need to get out more, and talk to people who aren’t software developers living in suburban houses with a Volkswagen or Subaru out front.

Anyway, enough of that. We had a delightful time with Stella over thanksgiving. She’s been in a great mood. Incredibly free with smiles, hugs, and kisses. We’d kind of noticed that she seemed a lot taller recently. She lost a lot of weight during her vomiting spell, so I think the height change snuck up on us. She just looked tall and skinny. But now that she’s got her blub back we’ve realized that she’s quite a bit taller. We helped The Holmes and Yer Mamma move this weekend and Stella is now officially taller than their son. Which is not surprising. Julie and I are taller than his parents. But it seemed like the official start of our child becoming the giraffe we knew she would be. She’s starting to get the height to match those Thomas feet. It’s fun to watch. Hopefully she’ll be more graceful in her growing than I was.

unexpected side effects of drinking water

So I got a good night sleep last night. This is obvious because my mind has time to think on random things not related to forward motion. My body did wake up at 4:30 this morning though.

It said, “Hey Tim, we got 6 hours of (mostly) uninterrupted sleep! Isn’t that great?”

To which I replied, “Yes, but we’ve got 3 more hours to go. Go back to bed!”

Ultimately my body decided that I really didn’t need that much sleep so I managed to make a lap of the trail at 6:30am. I’ve got a nasty sore throat and appear to be in a fog from a sinus infection I am battling . But it’s amazing how much better you can feel after a good night’s sleep.

I really would like to write a letter to my teenage self about 6 hours of sleep being a “good night’s sleep’. I probably would have upped my 13 hours of daily sleep to 16 or 18.

So here’s my random thought. Julie got me hooked on drinking lots of water. Well, Julie and running. I used to run at lunch in the 100+ degree heat and not drink much in the way of water. A few days of shaking and nearly blacking out got me on the water train.

So we all know that drinking water is great for you. It helps keep you thin, keeps your kidney’s healthy, etc. But I just thought about an unexpected benefit. Due to the volumes of water I drink I go to the restroom about once every 30-45 minutes throughout the day. Which means I wash my hands once every 30-45 minutes. I have to believe that severely lowers my exposure to germs throughout the day.

spurious, ill-conceived conclusion

So drink some water, it might work better than a flu shot!

take your child to the theater!

We took Stella to see Second Youth Family Theater’s production of “Wiley and the Hairy Man”. We were a bit nervous because we weren’t sure how Stella would react to an hour long show. Everything in our culture seems to point to kids not having the attention span for this sort of thing. But she loved it. And it was probably directed at elementary school kids so were impressed. She got antsy occasionally when all they were doing onstage was talking, but mostly she was mostly engaged.

We’re ecstatic. We can’t wait to take her to see “The Toys Take Over Christmas” this year.

I’d highly recommend taking kids to the theatre. They love it and it’s something the whole family can get out and do together. Which is really nice.

I’m not looking forward to when Stella can recognize that the Daugherty Arts Center is right next to the new Town Lake Park that has all of the cool water jets, however.

Post Every Day

I’m going to try to do that thing where I post every day. I can’t remember what it’s called. But I’m going to try it. Oh and buy tickets to Little Murders.

So yesterday I went out to lunch at Koriente. It’s Korean health food. Tasty stuff. I had garden hand rolls, which came with a dollop of wasabi. So, I got a little up my nose, and tearing up a bit, and this co-worker mentions that he ate suck a large clump once that he got a headache.

I was dubious. So I ate a decent sized piece. Then I ate about a half-teaspoon at once. No headache. But I did get some nice heartburn for a couple hours.

At Bill and Ian’s halloween party last weekend I was swallowing matches. Well, I was lighting them, and putting them in my mouth to extinguish them. You finish the trick by blowing out an enormous amount of smoke that the match has left in your mouth. It’s really poetic.

But this got me thinking about men and stupid stuff. Like why do we do it? With the wasabi my coworkers mentioned that they would have paid me to eat it as a dare, but I’d already eaten it. You often see this written off as competitive, but I’m not competitive. I just have this intense drive to see what will happen if I do things that other people find ridiculous or foolish. Some sort of perverted version of the scientific method I guess.

Word Power

Every day I see “Word Power” etched into the concrete at the corner of 7th and Brazos. And “Miss Teen Wordpower” gets stuck in my head for the rest of the day.