Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Numero Dos

The second post for my new travel blog is up.  Click here to read.  It's another restaurant review.  You need to know where to eat when you travel, right?  I'm planning some museum visits since it's too hot to do anything outside right now (110 heat index!), and maybe Space Center Houston, the zoo, or Moody Garden's pyramids. 

Since I named it Gulf Coast Traveler, should I only post about the Gulf Coast, or include trips to the Hill Country, West Texas, or other non-coastal destinations?  I haven't decided what to do about those yet.  I do hope to earn a little money from it eventually, so maybe I should keep it focused. 

I'm also trying to decide on the photo to use behind the title and description.  Which do you guys like? 

 Those are the best I have to choose from for now.  I'll get out and take some more. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Non Grata

Found this one in the garage.
 My cats used to kill everything that moved, so I rarely found anything living in my old apartment.  Not true in my new place.  I found a bunch of baby spiders in my entryway downstairs.  I have no photos of them because I didn't think grab your camera...I thought grad the Raid... 

When I first moved in, I noticed daylight shining through the closed door and asked maintenance to add weather stripping.  One must have snuck in before they did and laid eggs.  With no cats around, they made themselves at home.  They didn't look dangerous, just creepy.  If I find only one, I usually catch it and put it outside.  Not when I find this many.  I sprayed and then I put out glue traps.  If that doesn't work, I'll be heading to the pharmacy for some boric acid. 

I found the one in the picture in my garage. Does he have six eyes?  I suspect he might be a recluse.  I have to go kill the bastard. 

Update:  Too big to be a recluse.  He's dead, though.  

Sunday, August 28, 2011

More New Furniture

This is where I've been eating my dinner for the last 4 months...

No more!  My real table and chairs were delivered yesterday.

I found the set on sale at Rooms to Go for $295.  The bistro table is chrome and glass, the adjustable height barstools chrome and leather.  Another shopper said they looked like Star Trek chairs.  I guess I've decided I'm going more modern than traditional with my decor.  I don't have a separate dining room, so I chose a cream color that won't clash with my recliner.  

The first thing I noticed when they took my furniture off the truck was that the table was in a box.  I was thinking, "I waited 2 weeks and paid delivery for furniture in a box?"   I said out loud, "Oh.  It's not put together..."

"Would you like us to put it together for you?"

"Does that cost extra?"

"No, we can put it together for you."

"If you have time, that would be great."

I tipped them 5 bucks apiece.  I didn't have 20 or I'd have tipped 10.  Next time I'll remember to ask if my furniture requires assembly.  If it comes in a box, I don't need to waste my money on delivery charges.       

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Kemah Boardwalk

My new apartment is just a few miles from Kemah.  After work yesterday, a colleague and I visited the Kemah Boardwalk. We ate dinner at Joe's Crab Shack (she's amazed at the amount of food someone my size can eat), and browsed some of the shops.  

We watched boats returning from a day of fun on the water, or heading out for a sunset cruise...

...and we saw some kids cooling off in the fountains...

I toyed with the idea of starting a new geocaching blog, and probably will eventually, but the search engines like my travel posts so I decided I should start a new travel blog instead.  I made our dinner at Joe's the subject of my first post.  Please visit Gulf Coast Traveler to read it.  

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Shinedown IV

They're in the studio recording their fourth album.  Woohoo!  Can't wait to hear new stuff.  Zach has been broadcasting from the studio - no sound 'cause he's no fool...

Streaming live video by Ustream

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Up With the Roosters

Every night I tell myself I'm getting up at 5 so I can get an early start to the day. Every morning when the alarm goes off, my five o'clock brain involuntarily hits snooze. Every day I regret it. Once I'm up, I'm fine and not tired at all. Curse you, Morning Brain!

I'm not required to get to work before 8:30 and don't get paid overtime (I'm legally exempt), but my day is so much less stressful when I get in early and have everything organized before the phones start ringing and my email inbox starts filling up that it's very much worth it. I can't make up for it by staying late because then I'm tired and make dumb mistakes that I have to spend the next morning correcting. Besides, there are better ways I can spend my evenings.

I can't sleep with the blinds open because of the floodlights outside. Does putting your alarm clock across the room work? What about putting timers on lamps?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Reluctantly Folding

I wanna hold em like they do in Texas please
Fold em let em hit me raise it baby

- Lady Gaga

(OK, so she's not really singing about playing cards...I like this song...let's pretend it fits the post...)

I used to play online poker before the government cracked down on some of the internet gambling sites.  I could play for months at a time on $20, playing 2/4 Texas Hold 'Em at the penny table.  On a very bad night I might lose $2.  Uncle Sam decided he must protect me from myself and not allow me to waste such large amounts of cash, so he shut them down.

Well, there are some sites that still exist.  I figured I could afford to spend $20 playing Blackjack on one of the few sites still standing.  They had a coupon offer to double my deposit.  Cool.  I paid 20 US dollars and got 40 in casino cash.

I won!  I was up $100.  Woohoo!!!! Time to cash out...

WTF?  Withdrawable amount 60 cents?  I didn't read the coupon offer well enough.  You can't withdraw the money until you make bets worth over $1000.  Grrrr....

This is what happens when you shut down the reputable sites (if it's possible to be reputable and illlegal at the same time).  Why not regulate them and tax the income?  Why is it legal for me to go to a Stop 'N Rob to purchase lottery tickets for ten dollars apiece, but not legal to play at penny poker tables? 

Lesson learned.  No more internet gambling.  The sites that remain are nothing but thiefs.    

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Flood Insurance

And Ike was just a cat 2.  Keep in mind the seawall is 17 feet high and normally far from the water's edge.  The building at the beginning is the Balinese Room that Z Z Top immortalized.  It did not survive the night.

Should I buy flood insurance?  I've moved into a hurricane evacuation zone, and watching The Weather Channel's reports on Irene have made me think.  My my new chair ought to be safe since I live on the second floor, but I keep my new tents and expensive backpacking gear downstairs in the garage.  Storm surge from a cat 3 storm could swamp everything down there.

I'm waiting for a quote from the insurance company that has my car and renter's policies.  I think they had to call FEMA.  The agent said it could be as low as $150 yearly if I'm not in a flood zone.  Does being in a hurricane evacuation zone for cat 3 storms put me in a flood zone?

Do you have flood insurance?  Would you carry it if you lived in a second floor apartment?   


Saturday, August 20, 2011


I finally have internet access in my new apartment!  Actually, it's a mobile connection that works in my apartment as well as anyplace that cricKet cell service works nationwide.

I mentioned in an earlier post that Comcast denied servicing my new address.  I suspected that was false information,but didn't really want to subscribe to their internet service anyway, so I called around to see if there was anything else available.  I had no luck.  Management confirmed Comcast and only Comcast is my internet provider.  Darn.

I called again and was transferred to three different people in my attempt to get connected.  I first spoke to someone in billing (how I ended up there I don't know) who told me to transfer my digital cable equipment from my old address to the new I would need to talk to sales.  (Even though I have an HD TV, I can't receive digital channels without Comcast boxes.  Why?  It's not the fault of my TV because I was receiving them for months before they were blocked.)  It took her 30 minutes to complete the transaction.

I then asked how much it would cost to add internet service.  She said she could mail a cable modem that would be $99 and a wireless router that I could rent for $7 a month.  "Why can't I go to Best Buy and get my own equipment?"  She thought I could but was not able to answer my questions about which modem to buy, why did I need to visit their office to pick up a CD, or if the wireless router I already own would work with Comcast service.  So I was transferred again to billing (Why?) who could not help me and sent me to tech support.

Tech support confirmed I did not need a CD to install their software, which is good because my netbook does not even have a CD drive.  He informed me that my modem was a DSL modem which would not work, but any of the major brand cable modems at Best Buy would.  Forgive me for being skeptical after 2 phone calls, 3 transfers, and 45 minutes of my life that I can never get back.

While at Best Buy, I discovered the prepaid Broadband modems offered by cricKet, T-Mobile, and Verizon.  Some are instant hot spots that can connect 3 or more devices at once, and some are like the one in the photo above (mine).  The modem cost $80.  (Damn!  I could have ordered it from Amazon for less.) I didn't have to wait 5 days for it to be delivered, I don't have to rent a wireless router, it works everywhere there is a cell phone tower, and took only 5 minutes to install.  The service plans range from $30 to $60 a month based on allotted data.  I chose the $30 plan.  After I download/upload 1GB of data within a 30 day period I still get unlimited email and basic web browsing, I just can't upload or download anything.  If I find I need more I'll change plans.  There are no contracts, no late fees, no credit checks, and no Comcast customer service folks to deal with.

I'm now surfing the internet in the air-conditioned comfort of my new recliner.  Hooray!

To see what plans are available in your area, visit cricKet's website.