End of year wrap-up

So, it’s the end of 2004, and once again my life has changed in major ways. In less than a year I’ve:

  • sold my flat in the UK,
  • learned to drive,
  • packed up my worldly possessions and put them in storage,
  • bought a car,
  • gone on a road trip half way across America,
  • moved to Texas, and
  • made an offer on a house.

The house thing is still stalled, however. Right now the critical path bottleneck is that the people buying the house next door feel that they need to get the property lines re-drawn. The way things were built, the property line ran across one corner of the shared garage, which meant that we would also have property rights over it. The neighbors aren’t happy with this; they want to have the entire garage on their property, and have us use it via an easement.

That’s fine by me; it’ll mean they have to deal with maintenance, and there’s parking out the front of the house if necessary. However, it should obviously impact the price of the property, so our bid is effectively stalled until we can at least see what we’re now buying.

On a more positive note, I sent off affidavits and documentation to two of the credit reference agencies, the collection agency, and the LA police department. Sure, you can try and talk to collection agencies and Trans Union by phone, fill out forms, and so on—but I wasn’t in the mood to screw around. Instead, I got a sample legal affidavit from the FTC web site, wrote everything up in exhaustive detail, attached insurance documents and other info proving I was nowhere near LA ever, signed it with a witness, and sent copies off in a big envelope. As a result, the collection agency has agreed that the guy in LA who used my name to run up a $5,000 phone bill wasn’t actually me. They say they’ve asked the credit agencies to remove all the bad stuff from my credit reports.

Hopefully that’ll make the bank happier. The latest from them is that they are suspicious that I’m buying the house as a vacation property or an investment, and don’t believe I’m really living in Texas. That’s a response I’ve had from a quite a few people now. I’ve sent a photocopy of my Texas driver’s license and the HMO card that proves that even IBM knows I’m living in Texas.

Minnesota was bitterly cold, very flat, and covered in snow—just the way my beloved spouse likes it. Today in Austin, on the other hand, it’s up around 25 celsius, warm and sunny T-shirt weather.

What with car repairs, a new Palm, air fares and Christmas shopping, December was a bit of a financial disaster. Since we’re planning on going to the UK for my cousin’s wedding in the spring, it’s time for some austerity. Fortunately, you can go out and get breakfast for two for $10 in Austin, so austerity doesn’t necessarily mean misery. Still, if anyone has a spare McArthur Genius Grant or something, I’d be very happy to transition to being an independently wealthy author of free GPL software and documentation. In the mean time, a visit to the Skunk Show gets put off for another year.

I’m off to Vegas again in January, another IBM conference. I’m working a pedestal and helping at the info booths, which means long hours and not much opportunity for expensive vices. Plus, my only real vice is Krispy Kreme. There’s one of those located in the Venetian, allegedly the hotel I’m staying at.

Work is…well, the project I’ve been working on is now being transitioned to an officially supported server run by IBM Global Services. If you’ve worked with IGS as a customer, you can probably imagine what it’s like to work with them when you have no choice and they can set whatever price and define whatever working practices they like.