Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Candy Land

I think I did ok, but it sure has been a long time. When I was 10 years old my family left the suburbs for rural living. There's not much trick-or-treating when the houses are miles apart. Since then I've lived in apartments and condos mostly. I did live in a house in the Hollywood Hills for several years, but on a street that's at a 20% grade and with thirteen steps up to the front door deters even the most avid trick-or-treater.

Now I live in a subdivision with about 600 homes, and there are families everywhere. It's my first time passing out candy and I guess I did ok. I went to Target yesterday and bought two big bags with 102 pieces each. I don't know why it was 102 versus 100. I did substantial product testing and found the candy was suitable for distribution to the children in my neighborhood. The bulk of the activity was between 7-9pm and there's about 30 pieces left.

All the kids dressed up and their parents stood at the end of the driveway as their kids made their junior attempts at door-to-door salesmenship. However, it would take the coldest heart to refuse a child a piece of candy on a night like this. The costumes were the usual timeless classics like Spiderman, Batman, Hobo's.. etc. And the most popular costume of the evening?

Every girl is Daddies' little Princess.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Hello Again

Just a quick news flash. My new cell phone arrived today, so you can resume using that number and my home number will once again bounce to my cell. Text messages return!

Not a great advancement in technology, but it's a Treo 650. I was all geeked out about the iPhone when it arrived and was sure I would get one. I am an early adopter of some Apple products, ie. Mac Mini and Powerbook. However I'm not really pleased about Apple's iPhone price reduction so early in the launch and on-again, off-again third party application lockout. Early adopters are your best customers and it's not the way to treat them. Also, I don't like being forced into AT&T as my cellular provider. I'll pick, thank you.

So I'm staying with T-Mobile for now. The new phone works great according to my first callers. TTYL!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Under Contract

It was a year ago today I first stepped foot into my house. It was not the first I had seen it as there was an extensive website with tours, photos and floorplans. I think I had spent about 30 minutes in the house before I decided to make an offer and go under contract. In the three prior times I had done this, the decision was about 30 minutes and there were no regrets. When it feels right you know it.

Moving to Austin was not a hard decision to make. Buying a house involves a series a large checks to be written and I didn't flinch once. The decision to move had been part of an on going conversation with friends of mine. My friend Jason had left So Cal shortly after I did. Our time was up.

I love my house. It's something I would not have had there. A year ago I wondered what I would do with 1900sf all to myself. I seem to have filled it up nicely except for one bedroom which remains empty. I may never use it while I live here and a three bedroom house may have been better suited over a four, but I like the floorplan and the option of having that extra room.

I know not everyone wants to own a home. They are a lot of work. Los Angeles is not a bad place if you want to rent. There are an enormous amount of rental properties available and laws that are tenant friendly. Texas is more landlord friendly. While the market there has slowed a bit, it' has not fallen off the face of the planet as some might have expected it too. It's still a struggle more most people to buy a decent place in Los Angeles area on a single income. My house in Round Rock would be about $900,000 in El Segundo.

There are other benefits as well. I can commute to UT in the city from the 'burbs in about 20 minutes to get to class. I can get just about anywhere in 20 minutes for that matter. There is no general angst about getting in the car and going somewhere. You'll get where you need to go, no worries.

And yesterday I jacked the BMW up in my garage and removed all the wheels and cleaned them in my driveway. My two dogs were playing in my backyard. That's priceless.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


I don't watch much series television. So when I do, I'd like to think it's significant to me at least. Over the past 12 weeks there has been one show that I have not missed an episode of and I thought I'd share it with you.

FX's Damages appears on Tuesday evenings and it's marquee star is Glenn Close. The story revolves around her law firm and an attempt to settle a class action suit against Ted Danson who plays an Kenneth Lay type of character who's company took a dive like Enron.

There's murder and plot twists. You never know who to trust and neither do the characters. It's well written and shot. Glenn Close is great. The show is shot in NYC but makes no mention of it or uses the city's landmarks. Rather then Toronto passing as NYC, NYC is passing as any western city. There's a twist in its' self.

This Saturday FX is running a Damages marathon. If the weather is unpleasant where you live, I'd recommend catching up. Tuesday 10/23 is the big season finale where all the story lines are supposed to be wrapped up and I'm definitely looking forward to it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Cold Front

Fall and a nice cold front is beginning to settle into Central Texas and it's more then welcome to stay for a while. Nice cooler temperatures recall lazy Sunday mornings when you can't seem to get moving. I don't mind, one of my favorite programs comes on at 10:00 am, Meet The Press

This Sunday's topic was off the usual political path and the guest was Bill Cosby. Yes that Bill Cosby, the Jell-o pushing loud colorful sweatered man who has made us laugh for generations. If you've kept up with the 'Cos lately, he's not a laughing man anymore. He's distraught with the status of African-Americans in the United States. I could regurgitate the somber statistics but they're of no surprise to anyone.

While it's early in the race, we are tracking to elect the first female president of the United States. Barak Obama may be extremely competent, but it's hard to beat Hillary's experience and the war machine on her side. The two candidates though could be poster children of equal rights and the progress and lack thereof we have made over the last century.

If equal rights were a horse race, woman would be back in the barn getting brushed down while race relations would be still out on the track. Woman have not had an easy run of things but their message hits close to home. Most every home for that matter.

Woman did not make it to where they are today by hunting elk while wearing burlap underwear. In general, they still like pretty things and have softer pursuits. And all that is fine. The startling realization is that woman are fundamentally different from men. They have different physiology, thought patterns and interests. Race on the other hand is primarily a difference in skin color. So why are we still so far away from racial equality?

Home is where the heart is. It's hard to look someone in the eye across the dinner table and tell them they are inferior. It breaks their heart and if you have one, yours too. While it will never happen, a law requiring us to partner up with someone of a different race for the next 100 years probably would solve our racial problems. It's crazy idea anyway because love is what love is. But it could possibly work...

Lying next to someone in bed inherently makes them your equal. If you didn't agree, the next cold front could be the one coming across your pillow.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Different Light

Yesterday I complained about too much light. I feel like I have a direct connection to mother nature or something like that. There was no sun today. At all.

So what to do? Like the kid in a candy store I headed to Lowe's and went on a landscape frenzy. I planted nine grass plants and five crepe myrtles in my back yard. Everything was 50% off, so I made out like a bandit. Done by three, the landscape plan for the backyard is nearly complete and well under budget. No sun and 70 degree weather meant I didn't even break a sweat.

But who cares when I can take cute doggy pictures instead. I know you could care less about what my backyard looks like. I get many more comments about doggy pictures anyway. So with today's overcast lighting I broke out the camera for a few more shots. Today they are in a larger format so you can click on them to make them bigger.

The biggest challenge today was not breaking through the limestone in the yard. Try getting two dogs less then 13 months old to look into the camera at the same time...

Monday, October 15, 2007

Baxter's BFF

It's been a week and I've shown great restraint in posting adorable puppy pictures. Obviously things are going well. Baxter and Logan are inseparable. Both of them play constantly together and enjoy the other's company. In one of the cutest things I've ever seen, they have pulled their beds together so they sleep right next to one another. Logan's only thirty pounds so he has taken to sleeping on my chest while I watch tv. What can I say, I'm a softie.

I can't hold out much longer, so here's some pictures. My house is not the greatest place to take photography. If I use the flash, the dogs end up with devil eyes. On the other hand, my house has an abundance of large windows and it's always bright in here so things are washed out.

Next time I'll venture outdoors with the camera.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Secret Admirer

I'm smitten and I feel guilty. I can't hold this in any longer. I'm in love with the new Cadillac CTS. Ok, it's not a Ford or Lincoln. I'm not normally a huge GM fan, the last car I liked and owned that was from GM was my 1984 Pontiac 6000STE. It was a great car and they had not made one as nice since. (I may be exaggerating here) The new Cadillac CTS has my eye and I can't seem to let go.

I'm a sucker for an aggressive front end on a vehicle. Hence my 635CSi, which was nicknamed "The Shark" for it's "get the #$^&##! out of my way" look in your rearview mirror. The present day Dodge Charger has a menacing looking front end as well. The new CTS has a front end that recalls a Burlington locomotive bearing down on you. I approve.

The whole look has the car moving forward even when it's standing still. The front quarter view from either side of the car emphasizes the rear track that is wider then passenger compartment. This gives the vehicle the athletic look of broad shoulders. This car looks like it was made to dance when the road says, "let's tango".

The interior does not disappoint. It's very modern and nothing like in another GM products. The dashboard comes from the same supplier Mercedes uses. The radio is not something available on any Impala or other bread and butter product in GM's stable. Cadillac is something special again and GM has spent the money to back it up. The Escalade may still be a tarted up Tahoe, but the CTS is it's own dog. It doesn't share it's body panels with anyone.

If this all sounds like I'm gushing, well no apologies. Remember, I'm smitten.

Rental Star

1981 Lincoln Town Car

2008 Lincoln Town Car

I often think it's best described as the car we love to ride in but few of us would care to own. It's taken me to the airport countless times and when I've landed, I've grabbed one to cart me around at my destination. It hauled my older sister to her wedding as it has done for thousands of brides since 1981. The answer to this riddle is Town Car.

Town Car has been such a part of our lives since it's birth in 1981 that I've long ago dropped adding an article in front of it's name. A reliable relative to borrow or take us to somewhere eventful in our lives. A faithful friend. As comfortable as our living room sofa. As safe as the vault at the bank we leave our treasures in.

Our friend is dying and deserves some last respects. For 2008 Lincoln has not discontinued Town Car but it's apparently an "order only" vehicle and fleet model. Order only means that they will not build them to sit on the lot for walk up customers. They will build you one but you have to ask for it. Town Car will be available to fleet buyers (rental cars/livery services) as it always has been. And they buy the majority of them anyhow. It's the beginning of the end.

Once an aspirational vehicle, Town Car has now just become a work horse. Very sad indeed as what other car has had the chance to impress so many people. Especially people with money. Lincoln will introduce a new flagship vehicle later this year named the MKS. It's big, based on the first Volvo S80 platform that now builds the Ford Taurus/500. It will be front wheel drive/all wheel drive and have only a six cylinder engine. Not the robust V8, body-on-frame, rear wheel drive vehicle that has made Town Car the darling of the livery crowd.

I'm sure the MKS will be a better vehicle in most every way. However it will never have the cache as saying "they sent a Town Car to pick me up".

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Black And Tan

Yesterday's pick up of Logan went off without a hitch. Hats off to the staff at Town Lake Animal Shelter for another seamless adoption. He was fixed in the morning and ready for pick up at five in the afternoon. After a long ride up MoPac in rush hour traffic he was at his new home in Round Rock.

As per proper protocol, Baxter and Logan met in a park in the neighborhood. I introduced them there and then walked them back to the house. Introducing a new dog to a house with a resident dog is supposed to be a traumatic experience for the resident dog. If this true I have yet to see it. Baxter and Logan have hit it off without a hitch. As for Logan, he's housebroken, well behaved, slept through the night and gives Baxter a constant workout. I think he actually may end up being the dominant dog of the two. Baxter is constantly engaging him in play. Logan has already started eating Baxter's food. I think Baxter is going to have to learn to eat when his food is put down or else. Although he could stand to shed a few pounds I think.

It appears to be a good match, but then again time will tell. Surprisingly Baxter is not jealous of the affection. Having been just the two of us so far, I thought he'd intrude when I pet Logan. No such thing so far.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Race To The Finish

So here's my new dining room set. It's all in position now in my dining room. I'm very much into symmetrical placement of furniture and this piece fits perfectly. My dining room is basicaly a square and while there is room for a china cabinet and a small table, it would not be centered on the window. That would drive me nuts. So instead I opted for a large 60" table that can seat eight. Round tables are nice for entertaining as you can make the most of the surface area and you can make eye contact with just about everyone. And there is always room for one more.

I found the table on Craigslist, as many of you know my favorite furniture shopping place. This is a nice old set with a beautifully carved pedestal. The top was damaged so I purchased a new one and stained it to match this weekend. I've never stained furniture before, but if you do recall from a few months ago, I did stain my deck. I'm utterly amazed at how easy it is to stain a piece and achieve beautiful results. This is my first crack at staining furniture and I may be hooked. Not that it did not take some time. Each coat took four hours to dry and I did have to put three coats on to match the pedestal and chairs. After the final coat of stain I had to wait eight hours to put the polyurethane coat on. Four hours later, it was a second coat of polyurethane and now it's finished. In twenty-four hours the last coat has set.

Just in the nick of time. Tomorrow my Project Management class is meeting here at six pm; twenty-four hours from how. I had committed to having everyone over last week for a group meeting. Now they have somewhere to sit.

Friday, October 05, 2007

You're The Other One That I Want

Now that it's official, I'd like to introduce to you my newest buddy, Logan. It's very clear that Baxter is a active social dog and I need to find him a playmate. Now that my time at home is not what it used to be, I have to think about Baxter and finding him a companion. Baxter's been a great companion for me, now I need to find one for him.

So it was back to Town Lake Adoption Center where I found Baxter last February. I've been looking over the past week and interacted with a few dogs. I did find a nice German Shepard mix that stole my heart, but the choice was up to Baxter (for the most part) and he immediately took to Logan. Logan is a four month old Lab/Golden mix that was abandoned and left in an apartment for a week when his owners moved out. He does not appear to have any socialization issues though as this trauma happened early in his life. With Baxter and me, he'll have a structured home environment and constant companionship. Not to mention food, water and an abundance of snacks.

The bummer part is that Logan needs to be fixed. I was hoping to have him this weekend, but that will not be the case. Monday at five in the afternoon I can pick him up and bring him home when he has recovered. I'm sure I'll be there a few times this weekend to play with him a little bit more.

More unbelievably adorable puppy pics to follow...