New Year

It snowed in Austin on New Year’s Eve. I’ve lived in New England and driven in a snowstorm in Minnesota in mid winter, so the weather was no big deal for me, but driving home at around 02:30 there were numerous vehicle wrecks surrounded by flashing lights. I saw an interview with John Cleese where he said that the one thing on his bucket list is never wanting to be cold again.

More whining

The Palisades conference center is probably a nice place most of the year. The same is true of the nearby Hilton. Unfortunately, it was February, and cold. Even in the building, it was somewhat cold–when we walked past a fireplace in the conference center on our way back from lunch, the Austin folks all immediately walked over to it and stood there trying to warm up. The rest of the team, from places like New York and Indiana, looked at us with mild amusement.

Maybe we were insane after all

Sara just found our first Texas cockroach. Meanwhile, I seem to be allergic to the Southern live oak, which is not exactly ideal given the location of our house. On the plus side, the cockroach was nowhere near the kitchen, and my allergic reaction isn’t as bad as it was from being allergic to maple and living in New England.

So let me tell you about this house thing…

When we arrived in Austin at the end of October, we didn’t expect major problems finding a house. During our visit in April we had spent an afternoon with a real estate agent, and had seen a number of suitable houses. Sure enough, the first day we went house hunting, sara walked into a place and immediately thought “This is it.” We went back when I had finished work, and I agreed.

Grrr (not vrrrroom)

No news from the car dealer, though they answered my call and haven’t forgotten me. I’m watching various web forums on the off chance I can find a Prius within a day’s travel. If not, well, hopefully Toyota will ship on time and the car will reach the dealer on time and I’ll be able to buy it just in time for us to leave for Austin. One effect of Prius demand exceeding supply is that some local dealers are selling second hand cars for more than the MSRP of a brand new one.

Crash course

I just finished my first driving lesson. Well, not strictly my first, but the last time I drove a car was 15 years ago, in England, and it had manual transmission. It seems like a lifetime ago now. I’ve been in the US long enough that driving on the right wasn’t a problem. In fact, it seems natural. What didn’t seem quite so natural is that the sticks to control the indicators and lights are reversed—but the brake and accelerator aren’t.

Austin thoughts

We spent a week in the city, staying with the gracious Gavin. Here are some ways in which Austin is a better place than Cambridge/Somerville: People are friendly. Example: We were looking at some new houses, and suddenly found ourselves talking to one of the builders—a native Texan—about how he got into the trade after his time in the military, how they constructed the houses, why they did things the way they did, trade-offs of different kinds of construction, and so on.

Don’t hold your breath

The editor of a New England queer newspaper/zine has written an editorial stating that the publication (and its community) has to become more inclusive of bisexuals. Will it make any difference, I wonder?


It’s peak hayfever season for me. That’s what I get for living in New England and being allergic to maple. I woke up with my nose blocked, and resorted to the neti pot. It’s like a watering can, except it’s designed to be fitted nasally. You fill it with salty water at body temperature, hold your head sideways, stick the spout in the upper nostril, and pour. If you do it right, all the nasty crap up your nose gets rinsed out into the sink.

New England weather

Well, it was 36 celcius in the shade at 18:00. Apparently we’ve gone straight from winter to summer and skipped spring; a week ago it was regularly sub-zero. I got a really good deal on Corel Graphics Suite, via Big Blue. It’s buggy, but it’s OS X native, so occasional crashes aren’t a huge deal. It has full alpha channel support, transparency, and the preview engine of CorelDraw seems to use Quartz!