Thursday, May 20, 2004

Texas and the Suburbs

There seem to be a couple of fantastically trivial arguments flaring up around the part of the blogosphere I inhabit at the moment, and I almost feel like I have a dog in each of the hunts.

First, the ever popular question of whether Texas should be allowed to remain in the US or not. Chuck and Ginger certainly think so, even though Ginger left the state. Patrick Nielsen Hayden is less sure. As a relatively recent transplant from Texas to the Rust Belt, I've got to say that Texas just ain't all it's cracked down to be. Now, granted, I lived in Austin (all suburb, but that's the next paragraph or so) which is the "liberal" part of Texas, but in my travels around the state I really never noticed any serious problems with getting along with nearly everyone. By contrast, I said "Hi" to my new neighbour here in Pittsburgh yesterday and he looked at me like I'd crawled out from under a rock &mdash which was hardly likely since I was twenty feet up in the air at the time. Texans may have some odd views but I found them to be almost universally pleasant, something which I really can't say for the NorthEast.

In the end we left Austin for a number of reasons. We didn't have stable jobs there, it was too damn hot in the summer, and really in the winter as well, and Austin, while a great town in which to be footloose and fancy-free, really lacks a number of amenities that help in raising young children.

Speaking of young children, when we moved from Austin, which is pretty much all suburb (at least the parts where people live) we only looked at places in the Pittsburgh suburbs to settle down. We live in a somewhat older suburb of the city that puts us about a 20 minute drive from downtown and its attractions and about the same from the Universities and associated museums. In the meantime we have a large flat yard where our children can run around, and a quiet street that I feel comfortable letting them play near. Laura at Apt 11D has apparently set off a debate about the best place to raise children. While theoretical discussions about the joys of city living for children are wonderful, I find that if young boys (at least) don't have enough space to run around and burn off their excess energy life rapidly becomes too fraught for enjoyment. So when we started looking for a house here, I was glad to find one with a lawn that takes me 45 minutes to cut, and on which my children and my dogs can comport themselves with gay abandon.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Short Update

We have moved into the new house, actually we moved nearly two weeks ago. Despite my best efforts, I find that I am still busy painting rooms &mdash in this case at least it is a very small room. We also have had all of the floors finished, so we can walk everywhere in the house, the huge pine trees too close to the house have been removed, 80% of the boxes are unpacked, the new kitchen island has been installed (although the counter top hasn't) and things seem to be moving toward completion.

This whole process has been remarkably different from the last time we bought a house. Then we bought direct from the builder and moved in. This time I found myself astonished at how much time and expense are involved in addressing minor issues of deferred maintenance. But I think we are on track for our planned housewarming party on May 29. Now if the rain would just stop long enough for me to get up a ladder and clean out the gutters...

Update: The rain held off, and I took 1 1/2 black garbage bags full of pseudo-compost out of the gutters. Perhaps now water will actually reach the downspouts!

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Air Force of Terror

South Knox Bubba asks
But what exactly is the "War on Terror"? Who exactly is the enemy? What uniform do they wear? What flag do they fly? Where are they? What is our plan of attack? What is our strategy to defeat them? How will we know when we've won?

Based on this recent Bush/Cheney ad "Weapons" (which I heard on NPR this morning &mdash we don't do commercials any more) F18 Fighter Jets are a key weapon system in the War on Terror. Now, I kind of thought that the main use of fighter jets was to defend oneself against other fighter jets. So I ask

Where is the Air Force of Terror?