Thanks, Texas!

September 22, 2007 - Reading time: ~1 minute

My car has been registered in Texas for just over a week now, and I'm already getting scam junk mail from these assholes.  Giving away my personal information is probably the most efficient thing that Texas has done for me since I moved here.

Things I miss about Atlanta

September 15, 2007 - Reading time: 3 minutes

Note: 13 years later, I still miss all of these things about Atlanta, and many more.  Cactus Car Wash (the one on Ponce) is still there but it's called something else now.  I've grown to hate Houston, and Texas, much more in the last decade.

So I've lived in Houston for a couple of months now, and am finally starting to find my way around.  While I still don't think of Houston as home, I definitely feel somewhat settled in (when Clio and my furniture get here, the illusion will be mostly complete).

But there are a few things that Atlanta really did better than Houston:

  • Your Dekalb Farmers Market.  I really miss that place.  I don't know if it's technically a "farmers market," but it's clean, it's convenient, and it has a huge selection of food - in particular produce, meat, beer and wine, and the range of international foods.  I haven't found anything that comes close, though someone mentioned Central Market so I'll probably try that out at some point.
  • Cactus Car Wash.  This car wash place isn't native to Atlanta, but it definitely hasn't been duplicated in Houston.  I finally decided to get the car washed this morning and ended up at Classy Chassis on Bay Area Blvd - they did a pretty good job washing the car, but went a bit overboard on the shiny greasy dash cleaner stuff inside.  Also, to get a decent wax job you have to wait around for several hours, which I didn't have time to do today.
  • Road quality.  The road quality around Houston SUCKS.  No, don't deny it; you're lying.  Concrete roads are wonderfully low maintenance for decades, but at some point it's time to stop pretending they're still OK.  The roads around South Houston have reached that point and passed it.
  • Wayfinding.  Outside of the city, it's not too hard to find your way around.  Inside the city is just madness.  You can't get off an interstate and expect to get right back on in the city - the entrance ramp may be half a mile away from the exit.  Furthermore, signage is really bad, and sometimes downright misleading.  GPS would really help here.
  • City and County offices.  In Houston, at least in Harris County (where I live), county offices are open 8-5, Monday through Friday, and that's all.  So any kind of business you might have (getting license plates, drivers license, etc) requires taking time off work.  That's stupid - who has time for that?  I sure don't.  It's a real hardship.
  • Clear windshields.  In Atlanta, you get a single sticker for your car each year, and it goes on your (single) license plate, and that's it.  No insurance card, no emissions sticker.  Not so in Texas.  Two gigantic stickers get plastered on your windshield, and the front plate is required (the standard license plate has a silly inaccuracy that I'll get to later).  So much for the "no sticker" philosophy I've been holding to ...

Don't get me wrong - there are plenty of nice things about Houston (such as NASA).  They've just fallen a bit short on details.

Moving to Tejas

August 29, 2007 - Reading time: ~1 minute

... for real this time.  I came to Texas for work as a temporary sort of thing, the idea being that I would stay for three months on this contract working for NASA (via Jacobs), then come home to Atlanta and be unemployed again.

But work is actually pretty fun.  It has its ups and downs, and I've already started picking fights with some of my less reasonable superiors, but I get to play with neat hardware, see fun sights, meet interesting people, including astronauts (who aren't crazy, though some of them seem to have ego problems) and so on.

So I'm going to stay in Texas and work for NASA.  There are still some logistics to work out, such as moving all of my furniture here and renting out my house, but I'm well on my way to being a registered Texan, and I try to not let that depress me.  I have one co-worker who recently relocated to here from Idaho, and another from Indiana, and they seem to be adjusting reasonably well so perhaps there's hope.