Archive for October, 2008

I live in California now.

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

It’s probably been almost a week since any of you heard from me, and for that I’m sorry–but it’s been a real busy week. On Thursday I gave all my stuff to movers, and they drove off in a big blue and white truck. I still haven’t seen that stuff again, although I’m told it should arrive tomorrow.

On Friday, Travis caught an early plane out and was here in time to get the keys from the landlord and take delivery of our cars. I caught a later plane with the cats in checked baggage (that was an adventure, let me tell you). Travis picked me up from the airport when I arrived. I was looking forward to seeing the new place, and specifically to sunset on the deck, but it was not to be. We were rear-ended by a Dodge Magnum on the 7-mile drive home from the airport. The damage was minimal, but we spent half an hour, at least, waiting for a cop to show up (never did), and I watched my first sunset as a Californian standing on the side of Alum Rock road.

IMG_0616

When I finally did get home, sunset was long gone, but I did snap the following picture, which doesn’t at all do justice to the view, but does give some kind of idea what it looks like:

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The house is at an elevation of 938 feet, and the valley doesn’t really rise above 300 (my work is right next to the southernmost tip of the San Francisco Bay, so, literally, a few feet above sea level. It’s a pretty quick 600-some-odd feet fall to the bottom of the hill, and you can see all the way to the Santa Cruz mountains on the western side of the valley. I’m told that on a clear day, with some binoculars, you can actually see San Francisco, and I believe it. The next morning you could see pretty much everything really well, despite a haze of fog that’s hovered over the valley pretty much since I got here.

Downtown San Jose

The cell phonse service is absolutely atrocious, which I didn’t expect. I’ve come to think the issue is probably not so much a lack of signal as having a clear line of sight on far too many signals. It’s bad enough, in any case, that I got a land line, which I didn’t think I’d ever do again.

Dome House

The house itself is really strange, and 70’s pimp. There is, of course, a hot tub on the hill behind it, underneath a small gazebo, and I like that a lot. It takes a while to warm up, but once it does it’s a rollicking good time.

Hot Tub

The second floor, perhaps because of the shape of the space, is not enclosed, so there’s not so much a master bedroom as a master loft. Combined with the shape of the house, this could potentially be a little…awkward, because everything that goes on in the living room is intimately audible in the bedroom, and vice versa. It does make for a beautiful visual environment, especially with the very strange and very 70s star lights on the ceiling.

Star Lights

Master Bedroom from the rear wall.

Master Bedroom.

The living room is just about perfect, with a huge window that faces into the valley and sunset.

Living Room

Living Room Window

It opens onto the foyer/dining area, with which, together, it takea up about half the first floor.

Foyer

The back of the first floor is taken up by a third bedroom, which has an actual door, as well as a wooden divider that can make it into two rooms. Next to that is a laundry room and small bath with shower, and in the back is the kitchen. The kitchen is large, with a dual oven, cook top, and high quality cabinetry (cutting boards are built into slots above each drawer). It also has a nice sink, which has the trash disposal in a small third basin in the middle, some pretty trippy tile, and an ironing board built into one wall.

Third Bedroom.

Kitchen

Kitchen Tile

Kitchen Sink

The very center of the house is occupied by a spiral staircase that connects the first and second floors. On the top floor are the master and guest rooms, as well as the master bath, a dual sink affair with a big dual-head shower (technically it’s a jacuzzi as well, but way too large to be practical), as well as a toilet and bidet, with which you can spray water on your junk. Do not attempt to drink from it.

Central Staircase.

Master Bath

Toilet and Bidet.

The next morning I woke up to find that the place was infested with tiny railing deer, as you can see below, as well as being home (well, they’re here every morning) to a family of four deer, including a couple juveniles and a four-point buck. In addition, there’s a flock of about 15 or 20 wild turkeys that wander through in the morning to feed in the field next door (part of my lot). They run, err, wild through the neighborhood, up people’s sidewalks and over their fences.

Railing Deer

Our deer

Wild Turkey

The lot has a lot of trees on it, pines and an oak, a couple cedars, an olive (?!?!!) tree and a couple almond trees. The wildlife loves it; there are a lot of the blue bird below that spend a lot of time in the pines, as well as some little budgie-looking things I haven’t gotten a good picture of yet. I’ve spotted raccoons, too, one hanging out in the tree above my gazebo and making hissing noises at me (the cats had treed him). We’ve also seen several large falcons flying around, and what looks like some kind of condor, a huge carrion bird.

Blue Bird

So, anyway, that’s my place, if not completely or briefly. It’s idiosyncratic, a little old and warn out, but it’s charming, and the view is so good we routinely see people stopping off Mt. Hamilton road (below us!) to take pictures of the valley. I might be paying more than I could get away with, and I might put up with a few inconveniences, but there’s nothing better than chilling out after a long day’s work, staring out over that valley below, unless it’s doing the same from a hot tub.

It wasn’t until Monday night that I finally got to see that sunset I’d been waiting for, but it was definitely worth the wait.

Sunset from Bon Vista Court

You should come out and see it.

So, I have an address in California now.

Monday, October 20th, 2008

Today I got approved to rent this house in the East Foothills of San Jose.

It’s okay. Looks kind of like a golf ball. It’s on a hill.

It’s got its annoyances, I guess. The garage is detached and below the house…

…and the hot tub is on a platform above the house (the horror!)

The living room is kind of funny-shaped…

…and somebody stuck some random lights on the ceiling…

…although I guess the view from the big window is okay-ish at night.

I suppose it’s not too shabby during the day, either.

The view from the other side is pretty horrible, though, just a bunch of hills and stuff.

The main entrance is rather pedestrian, I must say.

The kitchen is acceptable, if your goals are modest.

I will admit it opens onto a passable patio.

There is a small nook for more private affairs.

The bathroom is okay, although it has too many sinks…

…and too many shower heads. I don’t know who designed the place.

Yesirree, it is one funny lookin’ place.

I guess–yawn–it’ll do until I can find something better, though

Kelly’s Grand Philosophy of Life

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

So I was having this discussion earlier with my brother about my philosophy of life, and I realized I’d never bothered to note it down, completely, on, errr, paper.

So here it is:

In the first place, pretty much every year since almost forever for me has been a journey of growth, either mental or experiental or emotional. One year I lost my dad, but spent six months drinking ourselves silly and watching cheesy TV shows while he died. I learned more about the man in that six months than I’d learned about him my entire life until then. One year I fell in love for the first time, and for more years after that I was broken-hearted. I made a lot of money and I said to myself “I was poor before, and if I am poor again tomorrow, then that, too, will be a new adventure.” Then I was poor again, and it was an adventure.

One time I spent a year flying to San Jose on Tuesday, and flying back the next Thursday. In San Jose was calm, utter calm. I had a couple friends with I hung out with once or twice a week, and spent the rest of the nights eating a fine dinner and reading Terry Pratchett novels unil two in the morning with a steady supply of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and a pipe beside my bed. The weekends I spent at the beach in Santa Cruz, or in the redwoods at Big Basin.

When I came bgack to Austin, I walked into a 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week party. Telecommuting is hard when there’s 110-decibel music pumping out of the living room speakers at ten o’clock on a Tuesday morning, but I coped. Like the Narrator, I became the calm little center of everything. I’m mostly a Taoist, but there was a certain Zen purity to it. Not that I was pure; I was far from it, but that’s a whole different blog entry, destined for the other side of the statute of limitations.

One time I (checks statute of limitations) spent a whole summer eating acid with Dan (no, not that one) and Lanie Bear. Me and Dan started out with this idea to built a huge rail gun, to get rid of all this stuff we didn’t like. When I explained that we’d need a rail gun which could generate infinite energy in order to accomplish this, the plan changed. At one point, there was a plan to equip monkeys with backpacks that would, when they pressed a button in a large crowd, give them a treat. Another plan involved clonging baboon super-soldiers in a subterranean complex, and equipping them with motor-cycles and machine guns.

Ultimately, we rejected all these ideas as impractical, and decided that the simplest thing would be to get a lot of wood, and build a window, which, if large enough, would presumably lead into another universe. Then, all the stuff we didn’t like could simply be thrown out the window. Most things were destined to go. Certain things, like Lanie, and circles, and orange juice, could stay.

One night I was sitting out under a starry sky with Dan, staring at the firmament and Milky Way, and I said “when we get rid of everything, we should keep that.” Dan said “Oh, yeah, we’re keeping that. It’ll stay just the same, except for all those little twinkly spots.”

That’s about the same time Dan came to the conclusion that he was God (although, technically, that happened on a beach in Corpus Christi, when he realized he could change the color of the sky and sand at will). I shortly informed him that he was wrong, a mere imposter, and that I was God and you were all here for my entertainment.

Sometime after that, after I’d discovered that It’s more fun to be a wise-ass than a smart-ass, we came to our senses and realized that, rather than throwing all the many things we didn’t like out the window, it would be a lot easier to simply jump through the window with the things we like–and that, my firends, is the current plan.

We just need a lot of wood.

Somewhere in there, we also alighted upon a group life philosophy, perhaps the first I ever articulated. It was this: “fuck ‘em.” It was really that simple. If people weren’t as involved in you as you were in them, then, hey, no hard feelings, but when it comes down to it, fuck ‘em. You gotta look out for number one, because otherwise, who’s going to be left to look out for everybody else?

So, fuck ‘em. We came up with two principles to guide our actions: 1. In fucking them, make sure you are not inadvertently* fucking yourself. 2. Proceed to fuck.

Lanie and Dan added their own third principles: 3. Fuck ‘em twice, and 4. Fuck ‘em in the mud, just so they know.

I never more than half bought into both of ‘em, although I must admit number four sounded like a lot of fun.

Somewhere along the way I learned not to sleep with other men’s wives. Not that I ever didn’t know that; I’m just saying.

I give you this long and meandering tale so that you will understand that I’ve followed a very long and strange path to the place I got today. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, and I’ve hurt a few people. I’m sorry for that, I really am.

It was all a learning process for me, though, and I really try my very hardest not to repeat the same mistakes twice. I like to think that the help and support and laughter that I try to bring to people’s lives in some way makes up for the times I’ve been a complete ass.

I am a Taoist, after all.

So the simple thing I’m about to say, it may not apply to you. It’s certainly not something I’ve come by easy or always effectively lived by. But at this point in my life I feel I should have certain principles that I strive to abide by. They’ve treated me pretty well over the years, and they are these:

1. When you wake up every day, ask yourself, “what did I do to deserve this?” If you can figure out the answer, and do something about it, it will be a happier question when you ask it tomorrow.

2. Whatever it is you do–wait tables, valet, repair computer problems, design software, clean sewers–do the best job of you can of it, every day. Soon, your diligence will pay off in the form of a job you like even more than the one you’re doing now.

3. Think about the things you do–your job, principally, although this goes for everything–and how it affects people’s lives. Does it make them better? If not, make it so, and once so, evaluate your decisions based on the effect it will have on the happiness of others. By maximizing the happiness of those you touch, you’ll maximize your own happiness.

4. Occasionally, just occasionally, break rules 1 through 3.

Thank you and good night, ladies and gentlemen.

*–Yeah, we said inadvertently, what of it?

Git Yer Ass Out & Vote!

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

Here’s a helluva thing: Texas electoral votes might actually be in play this year. The chances are a little slim right now–FiveThirtyEight puts Obama’s chances of winning the state at 11%–but it’s likely, given current trends, that that chance is going to get larger, and if Obama somehow does manage to win Texas, it’s just over.

None of this is gonna happen, my blue-dot-in-a-red-sea friends, if you and I don’t get out there and vote. If you’re not registered, you’re officially fucked (guess I should’ve posted this yesterday). However, if you are registered, even if you moved within the same county, you can still legally vote. Even if you moved to a different county, you may be able to vote a “limited ballot”. You can go to a polling station in your district and vote in person as early as October 20th, and if you need to you can also vote early by mail.

But VOTE! VOTE! VOTE, DAMMIT, VOTE!

Unless, of course, you plan to vote for McCain, in which case please stay the hell home and drink some PBR.

California or Bust!

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

I haven’t really been posting much lately because a lot has been on my mind and my plate, and I couldn’t really post it all up for the world to see. Now it’s finally final, and I can: I’m moving to California to work in Sunnyvale for a very large Internet company as a senior system administrator. I’m going to design and develop tools for managing gazillions of Internet servers effectively and efficiently. It’s pretty much the job I was grooming for before the Great Internet Bubble Pop of 2001.

It’s about the closest thing I have to a dream job, unless you count that sysadmin position at that antarctic research station. I’m terribly excited about it. It’s a big move, halfway across the country to a place I know just about well enough to get around. It’s in Sunnyvale, in Silicon Valley, where I commuted to week in week out for a year or so back in the day. It’s a beautiful place, right next to the Santa Cruz mountains and the Santa Cruz beaches, just south of San Francisco and a little north of Monterey. It’s three hours from Yosemite and about four from Lake Tahoe.

On top of that it’s definitely the capital of the tech world, and going to work there is like going to The Game. It’s a challenging place with a bunch of hard-charging, bright, ambitious people, and I look forward to being part of that.

At the same time, Austin is my Home, my capital-H Home. The only place I’ve ever really belonged. It’s where I met most of my friends, where I first fell in love, where I learned what life was all about. It’s where I learned to lay back at the Greenbelt and chill, to swim at Barton Springs, to get crazy at Eeyore’s Birthday, to get blazed at Marley Fest. It’s where I met the craziest Bohemians ever at SXSW, where I sat at Auditorium shores watching the lights of the skyline dance in Town Lake. It’s where I played a drunken game of flag football at 1 AM on Thanksgiving in Zilker park. It’s where I saw ten thousand kites fill the sky, and a million bats fly off into the dusk. It’s where I watched flocks of birds swoop in graceful arcs between the behemoth skyscrapers I stood astride. It’s where I explored every room of the Capitol and fed the squirrels on campus. This place is the sum and total of damn near everything that’s been good in my life. It is, in all likelihood, where I met you. And meeting you has been a seminal experience in my life. I have learned from you. I will miss you.

I will come back to Austin, some day. It is my home. Until then, and I don’t know when it will be, come visit me. Come visit me for a weekend or a week and hell, stay if you want. Until then I will miss you if you don’t. Until then I say goodbye.

Keep Austin weird; I’ll see what I can do about south bay.

PS–Yes, there will be a party, and it will be a party to remember, and if you remember our parties you know what I mean.* Details to follow; suffice it to say that we may not be the only people leaving this blessed burg, and nobody that’s leaving is known for going out with anything less than a bang.

*–Also, you were obviously doing it wrong, ‘cuz I don’t. I hear some great stories, though.