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May 29,2011

When last I left you (assuming anyone takes a look here ever), our heroes had departed the left coast for the center of Jesusland Jesusland in new window...

We have settled into our new apartment in Austin, TX. Unfortunately, they showed us an apartment on the other side of the complex. We had no idea how close the train tracks (yes, trackS plural!) were:

Current splorp! residence and our neighbor, the train tracks

They don't allow us to have our own grills on our patios (some local ordinance, similar to those we had in California), but they do provide charcoal grills. On March 19, I was grilling dinner (ribeyes and scallops), when I noticed a bunch of thick black smoke coming from the other side of my building. I walked down and saw this:

BBQ truck BBQ truck in new window

Yep, while I was grilling dinner, someone else was BBQing their truck. If you click the image, you'll see a large version of the picture and you can see that the truck is still partially in the garage. I called 911, but they said a firetruck was already on the way. They showed up and put it out. A neighbor told me this was the second one within 6 months. Awesome.

On April 2, my work had a company picnic at Emma Long Metro Park. It was fun and we got to bring Dart splorp! and Dart in new window with us.

A few weeks later, one of my co-workers had a party at her rented house. She let us bring Dart (who was a hit with the kids who were there). Here's me, "Terrible" Tara and her boyfriend, Dan (on the left, with the hard stuff). Dan, "Terrible" Tara and splorp! in new window It was a lot of fun. We hope to reciprocate once we find a house.

The next night, I went out to pick up some dinner (yet another place that thinks they know how to make BBQ, but which ends up being too dry). Mrs. splorp! was stepping out onto the patio when she saw one of these Squash bug aka stink bugs aka member of the Family Coreidae in new window:

Squash bug aka stink bugs aka member of the Family Coreidae in splorp!’s apartment



For scale, Mrs. splorp! said it was as bug as her thumb. She said, "I saw it, screamed and ran away. Then, I came back with a broom to try and force it off the patio, when IT FLEW AWAY!" Yeah, Texas has some giant friggin’ flying bugs.

We've spent a lot of time over the last few months looking at open houses and scanning Redfin for houses. During one of our forays into the Austin wilderness, we ate lunch at Johnny Fins Johnny Fins in new window. The outdoor seating area was on (yes, on) Lake Austin. We could see gigantic carp, turtles and ducks over the side of the floating platform. The food was good (the popcorn shrimp appetizer was overpriced).

On May 12, someone stole our bikes. We had them chained up under the stairs right outside our apartment (we’re on the first floor). Mrs. splorp!’s bike actually had 2 flat tires at the time it was stolen. Her bike was almost 15 years old and mine was a used one I got from a used sporting goods store. My front brakes kept slipping. I hope they enjoy buying new tires and dealing with my crappy brakes. Bastards.

As for the house shopping, it’s been difficult finding something we like, because Mrs. splorp! works downtown and I work further north (I'm 6.5 miles from the apartment). It's not a long distance (14 miles for her to get to work), but with the traffic, it has taken her as long as an hour and twenty minutes to get home (yes, 14 miles; this is southern California 405-quality traffic). The more central houses cost more, are smaller and are older. After the last house, I don't WANT an older house. Since it's definitely a buyer’s market, we have excellent credit AND a decent downpayment, we can be picky. I contacted a loan broker and got quotes (rates look good, fees are acceptable) and a real estate agent (she tried to help us find a rental unit when we came to Austin in January to look around) to get the process moving. Mrs. splorp! hits the end of her 3 month probationary period at her new job on June 7, so I want to hit the ground running.

And lastly... Ever heard of a company called "NetSpend"? Based on the majority of the reviews I’ve seen regarding NetSpend, you don't want to. They sent me an unsolicited MasterCard-branded card. It turns out that it’s a debit card you have to "load". Now, this might work for people with no (or poor) credit, but that would not be me. I don’t need this type of card. I don’t want this type f card. It pisses me off that NetSpend sent it to me. When I tried to contact NetSpend’s customer service, the message advised I had to activate the card (the one I got from NetSpend) in order to speak to their customer service. What?! You have GOT to be kidding me! I’m trying to confirm the damned thing is cancelled and that these idiots (the idiots being NetSpend) take me off their mailing list and they (what's the name of the company? Oh yeah, NetSpend) want me to activate their card? I think not. Instead, I think I’ll do all the reviews I can for them. Additionally, I may use my formidable SEO skills to let them (you know, NetSpend) know they’ve annoyed the wrong guy.



Below is Harley Quinn, our Green-Cheeked Conure.
We got him in June 2005.

Harley Quinn
Harley Quinn in November 2005



Below is D'Artagnan (Dart for short), our Chihuahua mix. He was Mrs. splorp!'s Valentine's Day gift in 2010. He was about 8 months old when we got him and weighed in at a massive 7 pounds of tail-wagging fury.

D'Artagnan





Drusilla, the Vampire Parakeet To the left, you’ll see Drusilla,
the Vampire Parakeet, named after
a character on Buffy the Vampire Slayer,
because she bit like a vampire.
She passed away on 12/20/04.







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