Dave

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Obligatory Final Post...

Over 1,000 posts and three and a half years later, it is time to switch things up a bit. If you have followed at all, you understand that just as Eva and I are physically moving, it is time for the blog to take a slightly different direction.

You know, I could just as easily change the name of this blog and continue writing about new things, but as I have gone back and looked at some of the older posts, I somewhat selfishly want to preserve it as it is. And, frankly, I can see myself linking back to certain posts from the new blog.

In spite of the fact that time has limited my ability to update this blog as often as I used to, for some reason, I still get 100 hits a day from people searching for places to eat, looking for places to live, or information on Jennifer Broom's boobs.

Silver Creek 78250 also served as a launching point for several friendships created when readers found the blog searching for information on our neighborhood. Some folks we met in person, others exchanged e-mails and more than a few left comments from time to time, and I do appreciate it. Being a D-list celebrity at the HEB or Home Depot ranks you right up there with the people who spill an end cap full of cans or the shoplifter paraded from the office to an awaiting police car. It isn't as though writing this blog made me any money, but it is nice to have the occasional total stranger walk up and say they enjoy reading it. Thanks to those of you who stroked my ego, even if I looked totally embarrassed or had no idea what to say.

If you have been a regular reader here, I invite you to join us at the new blog called, Living Out Here.
The page looks a little different, but it pretty much will be the same old stuff: Places we go, people we see, things we do and food we eat. The added bonus is, we'll tell you what it is like moving from a cozy sub-division with all the conveniences and amenities you could ask for, to a fairly wide open space where they don't even have cable TV yet! Expect some growing pains!

If you have just found Silver Creek 78250, I invite you to join us at the new place too; but first, I would also ask you to take a few minutes and scroll down to the archives. You just may find a new place to eat or see something that makes you giggle.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Fuel Efficient Parking at Best Buy...

I'm not going to lie; I'm easily amused. We had to run into Best Buy today and hit the one on 410 near Ingram Park. A side note: Am I losing my mind or was Best Buy located on the other end of that large strip mall?
Anyway,in order to appear as green as possible, this particular Best Buy has loaded up all the parking spots close to the store with reserved parking. Naturally, you have the required Handicapped parking. That's a law. Of course, you are going to have a few of their Geek Squad cars taking up spaces and certainly, you'll want your Employee of the Month to have a reserved spot. Don't forget a place for Expectant Mother's (by the way - if you are a woman and you some day expect to have kids, do you qualify?) and Mother's with Small Children.
But now they have a new one I had not seen before: Reserved for Fuel Efficient Vehicle. I know, you people who pay way too much for a Prius ought to get something for your abundant car payment.
But this is what I love about San Antonio. This guy was either saying, "Screw You and your Smart car loving tree-hugger-mobiles" or he was just being honest and indicating that compared to his F-350 Dually, this is a fuel efficient vehicle!

Me likey!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Mr. Cod: The End...

Yes, yes. We all knew Mr. Cod had closed the doors on their Grissom and Timber Path location. And as you would expect, a new Mexican Restaurant has taken over. Who couldn't see that coming?
The building has been painted a new orange-ish color and now, the Mr. Cod sign comes down!

In your honor, Mr. Cod, I have some real catfish on my mind...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Closer...

The inspection results arrived. As I drove home from work, my wife read the list of findings to me (I assure, by way of speaker phone for nearly hands-free safety). With each new item on the list, and there were several pages worth, I kept waiting for a show stopper. It simply didn’t come and when she got to the end of the list I was exiting Highway 151 headed for Westover Hills Boulevard with a sudden sense of relief; in my mind, not a single show stopper.

Of course, as one hurdle is behind us, the next one approaches. Will the buyers accept our offer to remedy the problems (cash as opposed to labor) or will I be hiring a handy man with a punch list? Either way, all parties will be happy in the end, one way or another. About the time my wife and I had made each other agree to just go with whatever happens, I started realizing that I need to get in gear about moving.

We had all along decided to us PODS or one of the other similar companies that deliver a container to your house, let you fill it at your convenience, then take it to the new home and let you unload it at your convenience. This works for us. But as I started looking at dates and times and such, I could feel the stress level building. I started to second guess the plan. Maybe one POD and maybe a UHaul. Or maybe we should just hire some movers. Finally, my wife looked at me in my frazzled state and said, “Stick with the plan.” That was all I needed.

We may be living out of suitcases and sleeping on an air mattress for our last several days in our home, but in the end, as long as we get the crap we own from one house to the next, it all works out.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pins and Needles: Waiting...

Throughout the process of either buying or selling a house, there are critical points that become stressors to the point of sleeplessness, fidgeting, wandering minds and frustration. When you are both buying and selling a house at the same time, the stress is compounded.

We have gotten past the all important point of agreeing to terms on both the selling of our house and the purchasing of a new one. I assure you, selling involves much more anxiety than buying. The relief of negotiating an offer that doesn’t result in a sucking chest wound is short lived. Next comes the inspection, paid for by the buyer.

In a perfect world, when you pay for an inspector to look at your new home, you get a real hard-ass, detailed oriented inspector with years of experience while the other person paying a guy to look at the house you are selling finds the cheapest most inexperienced slacker they can find who just wants to get paid and get out. And this is where the pins and needles come in.

We found an inspector to look at the home we plan to buy who was very thorough. Looking at the new home we want, he found dozens of things I would have never even seen much less realized were wrong. How people can buy a house and not pay to have a professional inspector look at it is beyond me. As the list of items needing correction added up, my wife and I became more and more anxious contemplating what the list of problems on our current house would look like. The house is 35 years old; there is bound to be something (besides the furnace we just replaced). The items found by the inspector in the new house are all things that should be easily fixed if the seller wants to sell the house – to anybody, not just us. But when you are selling a house that was built in 1976, for that matter, when you are buying a house that is 35 years old, where do you draw the line on “problems”?

At this point, all we can do is wait. At least once we know what the inspector – the one we hope is a slacker – finds wrong with our house, then we can determine how to fix it or risk the deal by suggesting that if they want the house, they’ll learn to live with whatever it is like we have.

I am genuinely hoping that there is not some local blogger who was walking around the HEB around 6:30 PM this evening with a camera waiting for a goofy person to take pictures of. I ran down there to grab some printer paper and it did not occur to me until I went to put my keys in my pocket that I had failed to properly dress myself before leaving the house. I blame my wife for this since she was leaving the house at the same time to go do Zumba and did not alert me to my situation.

So yes, if you were at HEB and saw some dork walking around with his gym shorts on backwards, it was me.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Weekend Notes: Driving School and Other Action...

You might recall when I mentioned getting a ticket not long ago. I know some people are willing to just pay the fine and be done with it and others want to try to sit in front of their computer for 6 full hours and take the course online while simultaneously watching YouTube for half the day. Still others have a need to take their ticket dismissal course in the form of comedic relief. For me, I like my driver's safety the old fashioned way: from a guy who teaches on weekends to make a few extra bucks and understands that his job is to make the 6 hours go by as quick and painless as possible. For this, I recommend the Helotes Driving School. If we could trust those people to get our kids through the mandated driver's training, surely they could teach me to be a safer driver without risking public safety further.

Our instructor, a very qualified guy I'm sure, kept it light and only interjected a few political statements along the way. I'm not sure if anyone has mentioned this to him, but he doesn't always use the correct words and phrases to convey his points. One that really stuck out for me was when he was trying to say "by and large" came out as "far and between". I suppose somewhere along the way, he got "few and far between" confused with "by and large". There were several other instances where it was obvious what he was trying to say but different words showed up.

This reminded me of the time I was watching Judge Wapner and there was this guy trying to use big words to plead his case. He told Judge Wapner that on the date in question, it began raining really hard, in fact it was raining profusely. This was all fine but when the defendant in the case started interrupting, things got heated. As accusations flew back and forth, the first guy kept repeatedly telling Judge Wopner that "it was profusely outside." After stating that it was profusely outside several times, Judge Wapner finally pounded the gavel and asked the man, "What was profusely outside?", and the guy responded, "It was." I understand that the plaintiff in the case now teaches driver's ed on weekends.

So anyway, I would like to offer up to any readers in law enforcement that I have served my time and I'd like to thank you for not issuing me any more tickets for the next several years, please.
I don't want to alarm you but our garage is full of boxes. Holy crap, we have a lot of junk. I am told that moving is the perfect time to get rid of stuff but let's be honest; my wife will just buy new junk and I'll just continue to hoard scraps of paper, books I never find time to read and odd trinkets that stack up on my filing cabinets. On our new property, I wonder if I could just charge myself rent for one of those big storage containers.
Hey, have you seen the new Conan Show now that it is on TBS? We have been watching the first few minutes of Sarah Lucero and then switching over to Conan once his monologue starts. I can tell you in all honesty: Leno is dead to me, and while I have an appreciation for Letterman (now that Bush is out of office), I just find Coco to be much funnier.

Have you seen those signs that people - usually high school students - hold trying to get you to go look at a new sub-division or purchase pizza or try a new wing place? They usually find some majorette or an ROTC kid who can spin those signs around like a baton or a rifle just to get your attention. You have to admit, some of them are pretty good at it.
Just the other day, I saw this kid in front of Little Caesars on Culebra and he was going to town like it was a full concert performance. I was at the stoplight and the guy was really good. He took a break during the drum solo.

We went into SmashBurger this afternoon to grab a quick bite. The bacon cheese SmashBurger on multi-grain is pretty good, but the fries (when you finally get them) just don't do anything for me. And since we were done eating our burgers when they finally brought us our fries, they brought us another serving of fries for free. Like I say, the burgers are good. The fact that they have the gonads to serve up hamburger meat that is not fully charred is a bonus.

I know you are probably wondering: Yes, I'm going to start writing in a new blog. I'm working out some of the details right now but as time allows, the theme will be pretty much the same has here - pictures of the food we eat, pictures of goofy things we see, that sort of thing - but the added bonus of watching my wife try to become a farmer on a massive 1.6 acre spread. Hell, I'll be picking up the farmer's almanac just to keep up with her. I'll let you know more about it for those of you who would like to follow us in our move.

Of course, fingers are firmly crossed as we get through the critical steps of inspections - both on this house and the house we intend to buy - and closing.
I'd expect that we'll be able to find some entertaining imagery out there, you know like wild animals and such. Of course, you don't have to go far for that. Just the other day I was going through the drive-thru at Bill Miller's and I saw this friendly guy especially slobbery at the thought of perhaps a chopped-brisket sandwich or maybe a sip of his master's iced tea. Next stop: car wash.
What I'm not sure of is if our new location will afford us the opportunity to spot such fashion statements as demonstrated by the friendly lady who offers the Sunday paper at the intersection of 1604 and Culebra near Alamo Ranch. We can only hope.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Homeless...

Well, not as in a van down by a river, but homeless as in we have a buyer for our house and not exactly sure where we are moving. I know; we are brilliant when it comes to the strategery of moving, aren't we?

Naturally, this could all fall right apart (it wouldn't be the first time in the history of Real Estate that a deal fell through), but we do know that the folks who want our home, really want it bad. And we hope only the best for them in their desire to have it.

You would not be shocked to learn that selling a house isn't limited to receiving money for your house. Turns out there is a lot of fixing stuff that you did not realize was broken. Take for instance the brand new furnace we had to install last week.
Who knew we were living in a death trap that could have blown ourselves to bits and burnt the house down right along with us? Okay, perhaps I'm being a tad bit over dramatic, but a crappy furnace does not make for an attractive selling point, and the fact that we replaced it without hesitation was probably a factor in our prospective home buyers making an offer. And if it falls through, we'll just be warm without burning-up (literally) this winter.

So the obvious question is, where will we go? We have spent hours and hours and multiple tanks of gas driving the back roads of Floresville, La Vernia, Adkins and that general area to the southeast of San Antonio. If you are in the market, I will tell you that there are loads of wonderful homes and properties in the area. But for some reason, we decided to go back and look at some property we had looked at before down I-35 South of San Antonio near Lytle.

There is a development west of Lytle with beautiful homes on 1 acre lots but I kept whining about the lack of trees. Why in the world would we give up the gorgeous yard full of trees we have to move to a nice house on the moon?

The next day we drove back down I-35 and looked at a development a little more cognizant of my need for trees. We looked at a few different houses and thought we wanted to so more. We even considered (briefly) the idea of just buying a piece of land and building on it. Long story short, there is a property with a new house (a spec home) that we have a really good feeling about.

In the meantime, the packing has begun. We are contemplating some serious garage sale and Craig's List action to get rid of items we don't want to pack. You would think that this would all serve as a huge weight off our shoulders, but the truth is, we both know that the stress has only just begun.

Wish us luck!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Your Tax Dollars at Work...

I'm sure it isn't necessary to write a long explanation for limited postings and excuses for not filling the pages with images of Tasty Treats and such; you get it that I'm a busy, busy guy. But I will tell you that the transition into my new job has been quite a hoot.

You would think this would be really easy. I swapped from being a defense contractor working for the Air Force to being an Air Force Civilian working in the same office. I literally picked up my coffee cup and moved from a cubicle into an office sitting 5 feet away. I can sit at my new executive style desk and see my old modular furniture work station. The point being, this isn't rocket science. I work in the same office, and while my duties and responsibilities have changed, I am doing pretty much the same thing for the same people as I have been doing for the past almost decade. So why is it so hard?

On my last payday with my former employer (a worldwide telecommunications corporation that I would gladly work for again without hesitation) my wife called up our bank to see what the final deposit was. There was no final deposit. Nice. A few phone calls later, I learned that they actually send a check versus making a final direct deposit into your account. And this is convenient for who? And they were going to tell me this when? So we got the check the next day. No biggie.

As you can imagine, there is a procedure for in-processing into a new job. Just like people who work in big corporations or medical facilities, you have to have identification cards. The military uses a CAC or Common Access Card. I like it when people say CAC Card. Anyway, this CAC allows you access to the military installation as well as access to your computer network to get e-mail and such. The CAC also serves as a way of signing your signature electronically. So when you have to do training for instance, by inserting your CAC into a reader (just like you would push an SD card from your camera into your computer), the computer prompts you for your PIN (I like it when people say PIN Number) it knows that you are you.

Now you would think that as soon as you in-process, fill out all the insurance paperwork, complete the direct deposit forms, taking an oath to support and defend and such, they would march you right over and get you one of these fancy CAC's so you could be identified as an employee and log into the computer to do the required training and such. I know, this is easy stuff. But it took me a week of calling and prodding to get an Airman who felt sorry for me and helped me get my CAC. By the way, my picture looks extremely slim compared to the one I took 35 pounds ago.

When I excitedly went back to my old computer at my old modular furniture desk (because the new computer in my new office was not up and running yet), I inserted my CAC, entered my PIN and like magic my old e-mail account in my role as a defense contractor came right up. So I got that going for me.

Meanwhile, I had a lot of required training to complete and new accounts to establish. Unfortunately, if my CAC identified me as a defense contractor, I could not do the training or sign -up for the accounts. Are you starting to see where this is going?

It took me from the 12th of October until the 26th of October in order to get my computer account established. They keep logs of these things so they can track issues and by the morning of the 26th, over 30 different people had been involved in the creating of my e-mail account.

Now consider this: If you called Time Warner Cable or AT&T or any of the other Internet Service Providers and you ordered yourself up some Internet, do you think you would sit around and wait for two weeks to get e-mail before you called them and said, "No, thanks. I'll go with your competitor."? Oh, and to top it off, a co-worker of mine called a friend of his who works where they create the accounts and gave him a heads up that we were about to get the whole e-mail account issue brought up to the General; magically, my e-mail worked in less than 10 minutes.

I guess I could go on and on about this like a big whiner and even tell you about yesterday, my first pay day with the government where once again, I did not get paid (and we got that resolved too), but I think the bigger point is this: Why in the world would you trust the government to handle something as big as health care when they cannot effectively create a freakin' e-mail account without 30 different people getting involved and the threat of a General being called? You know I don't do political here, but really, it does put things into perspective.

On the up side of things, I find the new job to be very hectic and I feel like I'm on the receiving end of a fire hose. I seriously can go three or four hours and realize I have had to pee the whole time and just couldn't find a stopping point to get up and go. Perhaps I'll order a coffee can installed. This does make 8 hours zoom by. And the next 2 hours as well. Yea; my wife has not been as pleased about the longer work days, but eventually I'm sure it will level off.

I work with a lot of real geeks. Friday I was grabbing a quick cup of coffee and there was a guy in the lounge asking me some questions and we had at least a three minute conversation. As I was walking back to my office, it occurred to me that I was just standing there talking to a guy wearing a Star Trek uniform. The feared red shirt - you always know that if a guy joins Kirk and Spock on a mission to a new planet and he is wearing a red shirt, he will be killed. It's a rule. Anyway, I got back to my office and it occurred to me that with Halloween coming up on Sunday, perhaps this guy was in costume. I actually got back up and went and found the guy and asked where he got his costume. Dude had no idea what on earth I was talking about. Talk about phasers on stun.

That's it for now. Lot's of stuff to do this weekend - perhaps there will be a picture or two of some good vittles to post.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Cashing in on his 15 Minutes of Fame: Go and Tell That...

You just knew it was coming, and why not? Antoine Dodsen is selling iPhone apps.



I think the guy is a good sport. And I think he is also about to make a few bucks.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

TV Report: What's on my DVR...

Herewith a few quick notes about some shows we have been watching this season. If it weren't for a DVR, we wouldn't see anything on TV with the exception of sports (since it is impossible to watch a sporting event after it has already happened). In addition to allowing us to catch shows that come on at the same time as others, the DVR of course serves up the most important aspect and that is allowing us to skip through the commercials.

Of course, shows on HBO & Showtime do not have commercials, so we can actually watch Dexter live, and that's where I'll start. We love Dexter and last season, the show really outdid itself in terms of storyline, writing and acting. You knew it would be tough to follow-up the Trinity Killer, and so far, it has been tough to get fully into it. My wife in fact is not liking Dexter at all.

The extremely skinny lady who plays Dexter's extremely skinny sister is the highlight for me this season. The lady, as awkward as she looks - did I mention she is extremely skinny - has what appears to be a broken jaw not unlike Greta VanSustrun, yet her acting is just incredible. I just hope the writers can get going here.

I really hate trying to watch a new TV series unless I can see it from the very start but I took a chance on Detroit 1-8-7 after seeing some interesting commercials glide all fast-forward like as my DVR skimmed through some other show. We took a chance and set the DVR to start recording this one, the highlight of which will probably be Michael Imperioli (Sopranos, etc). We watched an episode tonight without the benefit of getting to "know" the characters and apparently, you can pick this one up from any point.

We both agreed that this is "just another cop show" but it was worth watching another episode. There is one major problem. For some frustrating reason, the directors find it necessary to use the ol' shaky camera technique. Seriously, you will want to take Dramamine for fear of getting seasick after the first several minutes of 1-8-7. Is this supposed to trick the viewer into thinking they are watching COPS minus the wife-beater adorned rednecks and cross-dressing hookers?

Speaking of cop shows, we are really enjoying Blue Bloods with Tom Selleck and Donnie Wahlberg. The gist of it is, everybody in the family is or has been a cop in New York City. Selleck is the commissioner, one of his sons (Wahlberg) is the up and coming detective and he has another son who is a rookie. Oh, and the grandfather is a retired chief or something. Through in a sister who is a district attorney and there is a good chance something police related will happen on the show. As cheesy as it all sounds, we really enjoy it so far.

Of course, there are the same shows we love from last season including Modern Family which in my opinion is one of the funniest and best written shows I've seen in years. Not nearly as funny, but entertaining in a Grey's Anatomy sort of way is Parenthood which we also enjoy.

Finally, we just watched the first five episodes of Boardwalk Empire which stars Steve Buscemi, one of my favorites! You'll need to get HBO for this one. The show is based in prohibition era Atlantic City and Buscemi plays a politician who runs the city and makes his money taking kick-backs and selling booze. The people love him, including the woman's group protesting for sobriety. If you have been suffering from several years of no Sopranos, Boardwalk just may scratch that itch. We love it and can't wait for more.

Got any favorites we need to check out? Why not leave a comment below and tell us about it?

Where am I Supposed to get my Glasses Now?

Sad news from one of San Antonio's more interesting characters. Let's hope this was all a big misunderstanding.

When you see Mike Yuchnitz on his TV commercials, he may come across as a little odd, but the guy is a great businessman who genuinely takes care of his customers. Our family knows firsthand how this guy bends over backwards to offer good value and awesome service for the price.


Albatross says it all over at Strange.
KSAT-12 has the story here. Express-News provides a little more detail here.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Board Meeting - My Notes - Sort of...

It has been quite some time since I have submitted notes from my attendance at HOA board meetings. As a member of the board, I long ago decided to refrain from posting my point of view via this blog. Instead of actual meeting notes though, I think what I have to offer here may be just as useful to some of you.

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It wasn’t but two or three years ago that I had a conversation with a fellow resident of my neighborhood as we painted picnic tables in a park owned by our HOA where I was decrying the lack of participation in our volunteer events. Looking back, I now realize just how naïve I must have come across to this guy who has been involved with every imaginable program from Scouts, to school activities, HOA committees and fundraisers and even local politics. This man explained to me that within a community, the people who are going to volunteer or get involved will do so when the time is right for them, and they will step back when time does not allow as much participation. There are countless numbers homeowners who have started with school PTA, been room parents and soccer coaches, then Scout leaders and the like. When time has allowed – generally marked by the age when their kids don’t require as much supervision – they have gotten involved in other activities that were not youth centered.

For many folks, as long as they are working to make ends meet, there will not be the time for outside activities. There are only a certain number of hours in the day and spending several hours on a precious weekend painting over someone else’s tagged fence or picking up some other jerk’s trash in a park – a park that you don’t otherwise use – is just not the idea of relaxation you had. But as we get older and perhaps the work schedule becomes less hectic, there are occasions where one can make the time for getting involved in volunteer activities, and though the numbers remain small, those that participate usually end up enjoying it.

And like when I was the new person who found the time to get out and volunteer and suddenly wondered where all the other volunteers were, I have to confess that I had a similar naïve reaction when I first began to take interest in my Association’s board meetings. I had never met a single person on the board, I could not pick the association’s community manager out of a line-up, and after hearing some of the discussions I wondered what made the people there qualified to run the association.

If for no other reason than sitting in the audience at these meetings as opposed to sitting up with the board members, I felt certain camaraderie with the long line of residents who, more often than not, spoke angrily to the board about what the association should be doing with their precious assessment dollars.

I also learned that there are generally two types of people who approach the board. The first is the “usual suspect”. This is the resident who is fairly well-versed in the running of the association, knows everybody involved, and in spite of understanding why things are the way they are, doesn’t like it so they are going to take every opportunity make the case that the board must be doing something wrong if the world is not perfect.

The other (and of course, I am generalizing here) is the person who is showing up to a board meeting for the first time, knows exactly what the problem is and knows exactly how to fix the problem, and if the board can’t see his point of view, they must all be idiots!

When you are new to these meetings, it is very easy to side with both of these folks. For the most part, all the board does is sit back and listen to the complaints, accusations and recommendations, perhaps taking notes or shuffling papers, but without committing to much more than “looking into it”. If the “usual suspect” guy has all these complaints and accusations, you have to wonder why the board doesn’t layout their case and put the matter to bed. And if the person shows up to their first board meeting with an exact cause to a problem and the perfect answer, why doesn’t the board immediately adopt a policy that corrects everything?

My wife and I have made it a habit to attend the board meetings every month, in fact, unless I was out of town, I have attended every board meeting that our association has held since at least mid 2007. While there have been many thoughtful residents who have appeared before the board to offer unique insights and valuable recommendations, there have been even more people who are one hit wonders. They show-up, have no understanding of the board meeting format, assume that the entire show is about them and their specific problem and then suddenly get upset when faced with one of the many realities of life in an HOA. As a community service to you fine readers, I thought I might help the newcomer if I offer a few hints based upon what I have learned over the years.

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  • You are limited to three minutes. Most people go beyond that and the board usually is flexible, but don’t be upset when after ten minutes you are asked to wrap it up.
  • You are not a guest on The View; you are offering three minutes worth of input to the board and are likely not to get any response from them short of, “Thank you.” Don’t expect a debate or a long drawn out discussion on how best to solve world hunger.
  • Preparing notes is a good idea, but if you bring a five page manuscript, why not just e-mail it to the board and make copies available to the people in the audience? Remember that three minutes you have? You aren’t going to fit your novel into it.
  • The fact that you don’t use the pools, you don’t play tennis or basketball, you don’t go to the parks or participate in any of the activities the association offers doesn’t change the fact that you purchased a home in a deed restricted community with mandatory HOA assessments. And no, you are not the first person to suggest that we have different levels of assessments for people with kids, people who are on fixed incomes or people who promise not to gain any value whatsoever from living in a deed restricted, mandatory HOA community.
  • Do a little research. Before you approach the board with your great ideas, why not run them by the community manager or other staff member? When you stand before the board and suggest things like forming a garden club or a neighborhood watch group, you’ll understand why people in the audience giggle when you find out that we already have a garden club and a neighborhood watch.
  • Understand that there is an agenda. That means that, if you speak before the board about an item you are just bringing up for the first time, the board will not be acting upon it at that meeting. If you had done a little research, contacted the community manager and worked it in advance (not 15 minutes before the meeting – but at least a week ahead of time), your item might have been on the agenda.
  • Have a little perspective about your phenomenally small annual assessment. In our HOA, the annual assessment is $222. We have two pools, three parks, tennis courts, volley ball courts, two sets of basketball courts, soccer fields, two lodges, recreational activities for every age group, social groups, 24/7 security patrols, and the list goes on. When I ask you to put that into perspective, consider that $222 comes out to less than $20 per month. You couldn’t get a guy with a “Will work for food” sign to mow your yard for $20. Do a little research and see what amenities you get (again, whether you intend to use them or not) in any of the HOAs in this city.
  • The HOA is a business. The business has insurance, employees, lawyers, electric bills, water bills, equipment and the infrastructure needed to operate. The board members sitting in front of you are not among the people who collect a paycheck each month. Instead, we are neighbors who more often than not have been the ones who also found time to paint tagged fences that don’t belong to us, pick-up trash in parks we don’t use and attend meetings when we could be at home watching Spurs games.
I hope that regardless of whether you live in my area or another place with an HOA, you might find these hints useful. I also hope that you might find the time to consider getting involved in your own HOA, whether it be through joining one of the volunteer groups, participating in the recreational activities or yes, even volunteering to be a member of the board.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

We Voted Early...

Seriously, my wife and I both participated in the early voting this afternoon. We have done our civic duty (and happy to do so).
Now that we are done, is there any possibility that we could be exempt from the remaining political phone calls, TV ads, and non-stop radio spots trashing all the candidates?

Fagbug at UTSA...

I was downtown today for a class related to my job and during the walk back from lunch, a colleague and I cut through the middle of the UTSA campus and came upon a rainbow painted VW Bug with the word "fagbug" across the door.
As I am apt to do, I whipped out my phone so my friend could take a picture of me posing. Notice my extremely baggy slacks? Can you tell that I'm ready to go down another size?

Anyway, as we were walking away from the display, there was a small group of students (I suppose) looking at me as if I might have something mean to say. In fact, I smiled and the co-worker and I continued on with our work related conversation and never even looked back.

Later in the day when I was checking my phone for messages, I looked at the picture and it occurred to me that the pose I made, a thumbs up with a grin on my face could have been taken any number of ways. Perhaps with my bright yellow shirt, I was giving a thumbs-up to my Metrosexual side. Or perhaps, these students may have perceived me as mocking them and their cause (whatever it was). The real truth is, and as my wife and readers of this blog can attest, I pose by anything that catches my eye. When I pose next to H-E-Buddy or some other commercial mascot, I'm not putting down that institution, I'm simply being a goofy guy who likes to pose with mascots and such.

Of course, we tend to over think these things. I started to question my own "endorsement" by way of "thumbs-up" to some group that would use the term "fag", a term that I personally feel should be referred to as "The F-word" except for the fact that the other F-word has already laid claim to it. At any rate, suddenly, I was wondering if the small group of people near this vehicle were actually anti-gay protesters and now I had somehow endorsed their political sentiment.

You know, you could lose sleep over stuff like this or you could just get on the Google and figure out what this is all about. And I did just that.

Turns out, the Fagbug is a movie about a girl who had a rainbow sticker on her VW and apparently, for that reason, vandals spray-painted her car with ugly comments. She decided to leave the ugly words on her car rather than remove them and took a 58 day road trip to get reactions from people seeing the vandalized car. Later, she had the VW transformed into a a full rainbow sticker design and her goal is to get a million gay (and straight) people to purchase little "fagbug" stickers to raise awareness.

So there you have it. Now tell the truth; do those slacks make me look fat or am I just overly sensitive?

*Please, no ugly slurs or anti-gay comments. I'll just delete them.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Halloween Party in 78250...

We made the short drive down to the Lodge of the Great Northwest to enjoy some good times with neighbors at our annual Halloween Party Saturday night.
I was thinking I could have just donned an orange shirt and gone as a pumpkin but my wife had other ideas. We went as the King and Queen Pins, members of a bowling team. In other words, all I had to do was put on a shirt that was too small with some sort of bowling logo on it. That was just as easy as being a pumpkin, I guess.
They used the same DJ we had at our annual Luau. The guy has a really huge selection of music for every taste and as an added bonus, he does a lot of performing to the songs sort of like an air guitarist or back-up dancer.
Here we are as the bowlers with our neighbors, Nurse Bellyache and Doctor Catastrophe or something like that.

Did you need to see more pictures? Why not head on over to the Flickr page to see them all?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Happy Birthday, Big Al...

My mom and dad no longer look at the Internet these days now that they live in a fancy high rise apartment overlooking the grounds of one of Brandon, Florida's nicer "independent living communities". In spite of that, my dad still got birthday wishes on his Facebook account today. Gotta love that.
This is a picture my oldest brother rounded up from back in 1970. My dad was home on leave from Vietnam. That is a fancy cup of Budweiser right there.

Happy birthday, Dad!


Laundry Woes: Where is my Dang Shirt?

I may have mentioned before that we routinely take my slacks and shirts to a place nearby to have them pressed. Dry Cleaning Station is the name and they are located in the Cross Creek Shopping Center at Grissom, Culebra and Tezel.
We've been going to this place for years and aside from a few miscues, like the times I would go in and the guy at the counter was in dispose for way more than the "be back in 5 minutes" sign on the door suggested, we have been happy with the service.

That was until about a month or two ago when some new owners or managers took the place over. The regular employees have all left and the new group can't seem to get their act together. I have yet to go in and have my clothes ready on the day promised since this new group took over. My wife went as far as to tell the manager (or at least someone who seemed to be in charge) that we were done dealing with them. We tried another place near our house, Great Northwest Alterations, but as the name implies, they seemed to be an alteration shop more than a laundry place and between the price and the failure to deliver on-time, we were done with them after one attempt. Nice lady, though.

My wife even went as far as ironing my clothes herself but when a huge pile amassed in the laundry room, she decided that we should see if the folks at DCS had gotten their act together.

So on Thursday, I had two pair of slacks and two shirts to pick-up. I went in with my ticket and while I waited, there was a disgruntled customer in front of me upset that half his order was missing. I already knew it was a mistake to come on the day the clothes were supposed to be ready. Of course, when the guy gave up and left with only half his order, it was my turn to find out that one of my shirts was missing. Instead of taking the slacks and the one shirt that was ready, I just left it all there and opted to return Friday afternoon.

On Friday I went in and presented my ticket and the person reported that they were not done with my second shirt. I told her that it was due on Thursday. She just looked at me as if to ask, "What did you expect?". She then told me to please come back Saturday.

On Saturday, against the better advice of my wife, I went in with ticket in hand around 10:30 to collect my order. Still no shirt. This time, the same lady told me that the people who do the pressing of the clothing don't finish until noon, so I should come back then. Instead of ruining my Saturday, I decided I'd wait until today (Monday) just to give them extra special extended time to do the ironing of the one shirt.

Today, I walk in and the same lady tells me that they have the two pair of slacks and one of the shirts but the second shirt is not ready. She then asked me if it was due for pick-up today. I know this is where most people simply lose their cool, start throwing things around or empty a clip into the nearest ironing board, but frankly, I'm just a little too laid back for that sort of thing.

I told her that my order was due to be ready last Thursday and that on Saturday, she told me they would be done ironing my shirt by noon that day. She then changed her tune and flat out told me that the shirt was not there and perhaps I could come back later. WTH? So I asked, "What do you guys do when you lose a shirt?" She just looked at me like she was about to suggest I come back another time but then asked me if I knew what color it was. It has been so long that I had no idea what color the shirt was. So then I asked her if she could get my slacks and perhaps I could figure out what color the shirt might have been based upon the slacks it came in with. I already knew that I would never see the shirt again and there is no telling on how I am supposed to prove how much it cost to replace. For a moment, I really thought about coming up with some really fabulous color scheme to give the lady to search for, but in all honesty, I offered "maybe yellow, but I really have no idea."

So today, we dropped off some slacks and some shirts at the Pilgrim Cleaners on Tezel at Guilbeau. I can already tell that will be a one time deal simply because they don't offer a "press only" service.

So, any ideas?* Anyone know of a reliable laundry service nearby that can press your clothes without losing them?

*Just for the record, I can press my own shirts and pants and actually don't mind doing it. I'm just trying to do my part to boost the economy by offering to pay for reliable service.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Beautiful Weather: Outdoor Living, Strange...

We got a call from a regular reader here informing us that we must proceed to the corner of Grissom and Timber Path for quite the sighting of Strange in 78250. Turns out, we had witnessed this spectacle earlier. Nevertheless, proof that when the weather is nice like it is today, a refreshing 87 degrees, you can enjoy the day as long as you have the right place to sit (and apparently, the proper decor).

I know, most people bust out a few lawn chairs and take it out in the back yard, but a parking lot on a corner with a couch and a suit or armor? Strange.


Monday, October 4, 2010

KENS-5: YGBSM...

There's an old Wild Weasel saying, "You Gotta Be Shittin' Me" or YGBSM which I found appropriate right around 10PM this evening as I watched Karen Grace deliver a live report from San Antonio's West Side. Turns out some homeowner was suffering from plumbing issues wherein, what went down his toilet ended up surfacing in the backyard.

As my wife and I have spent the better part of the last month preparing our house for guests, and in fact have had our kitchen appear on TV in the past, I think we can offer up a bit of advice for anyone who opens their home to TV cameras:
You might want to use a little Tidy Bowl or employ a swishing device around the commode. YGBSM! I don't think that's hard water build-up on the right side bottom of the bowl there. Strange!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Lunch Report: Willie's Grill and Icehouse on 281...

Saturday was a day to run multiple errands that led us from one side of town to the other in sort of a round about fashion. Way past lunch time, we found ourselves picking up some supplies at Family Leisure over on San Pedro. We seem to have become regulars there what with the heavy use our Jacuzzi gets. Anywho, whilst there, we asked our regular sales guy, Brad for a lunch recommendation in the area and he asked if we had tried Willie's just up the road on 281. We hadn't, so off we went.
Willie's is part of a chain found all over the Houston area and three locations here in San Antonio. We had driven by the Shavano Park location several times opting for other eateries in the area and I suppose we missed the one in Leon Springs last time we were out looking for houses in The Dominion. (That's a joke.)
The first thing you notice is that Willie's has lots of outdoor dining on a huge deck as well as the indoor garage-like seating area. During our visit, there were lots of families with their little soccer-kids enjoying a nice lunch after a morning of sports action.
Inside, there is plenty for the adults to enjoy including several troughs of ice cold beverages. You won't go away thirsty, my friends. I wouldn't consider this a big destination for spending hours watching sports, but their were plenty of TV screens everywhere in case you needed to keep an eye on the Red River Rivalry (since when is it not the Red River Shootout, by the way?)
We walked in and at the first counter, a nice lady took our order, handed us a ticket and sent us on our way. Naturally, I started looking for a place where I could pay for the vittles, but instead was told to go find a place to sit. From there, a waitress came out, took our ticket and went to enter our order into the system. The fact that she had to come back twice to clarify that first, my wife wanted cheese on her cheese burger, and second that I wanted cheese on my cheese burger seemed a little inefficient to me. We had to giggle at that one. We surmised that when the place is really busy, it helps control the flow into the seating area by stalling people at the first counter. Who knows? Bottom line - when you go and try Willie's, don't be alarmed when you order twice.

Before I tell you what we ordered, you should know that this place has a wide selection and options for every taste. I didn't get a picture of it, but when you first walk in, there is one of those butcher cases with fish and shrimp and other meats laid out for your viewing pleasure. We saw several folks ordering some sort of shrimp cocktail action with these huge bowls of salsa and diced avocado that looked really good. They also offer loads of starters that could make a fat guy like me stay for an extended period of time just sampling everything. In fact, they have a Sampler for $20 that includes as you would imagine, samples of everything. If you and a group of friends are really hungry, they offer the Ultimate Platter for $40 that is a sampler of entree items - catfish, shrimp, steak fingers, chicken, onion rings - the works. Can you tell I'd like to go back and gain a few pounds?

So, in spite of the wide selection, we opted to try the burgers. They do offer wheat buns, but were out during our visit.
My wife ordered the Chili burger (with cheese) which is a 1/2 pound burger with your standard fixin's and a side of chili so you can add as much or little as you desire. The burgers all come standard with fries. She loved it. It was such a gooey mess that once she picked up half of it, she was not able to put it down for fear of the whole thing falling apart. That might sound bad to some folks, but it makes for good eats.
Obviously, some lady on her first date with a new guy might not feel as comfortable with the messy hands, but my wife can take it. I will tell you that I did not like the chili at all. I don;t know if it was some sort of doctored up canned version or what, but it just seemed like someone dropped in an extra cup of chili-powder. It wasn't that it was too hot/spicy, it was just too much chili powder, in the same way someone might put too much salt or too much cumin on a dish. But she liked it so there ya go.
Just as a side note: Eva ordered up a Pink Lady which is a strawberry milkshake in honor of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Willie's sends them a dollar for each one you order.
I went with the Icehouse Burger which is a 1/2 pounder with your choice of cheese, all the normal stuff plus bacon and mushrooms. Yum. Instead of the fries, I upgraded to the onion rings for a buck. By the way, we did notice some people order a "small" onion ring as an appetizer, and it was a plateful. The bun was slightly grilled, a must of course, and the burger was cooked medium - a rarity these days. The onion rings are hand breaded with a light dusting making them seem like they are probably more healthy for you. At least that is what I told myself as I shoveled one right after another down my gullet between mouthwatering bites of bacon, mushroom, cheddar cheese and burger. I don't think it was just that we were really hungry; we were both quite pleased with the quality, quantity and taste of the burgers.
Look, this isn't some hole in the wall that you find by accident and hope that it never gets really famous; it is of course a chain. But from what we could see on our first visit, Willie's offered a wide selection of food, friendly service in an inviting atmosphere. Having established that they can make a fine burger, we are ready to return for some of the other options - like catfish. If the hand breaded cat and the fried pickles are anything like the burgers and onion rings, we'll be in for another Tasty Treat.

Have you been to Willie's other locations? Your comments are always welcome, you know.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Suddenly, it is Different...

In just a matter of an hour or so we had gone through the paperwork, made the applicable disclosures and initialed page after page of information and signed along the obligatory dotted line, though, I don't think the line was necessarily dotted. We moved a few personal items out of the way including the dog so interim photographs could be taken and finally, a lock box was placed on the front door and a sign was pounded into the ground.
As much work as we did in the past week to fix a small list of items (touch up paint, new carpet and other odds & ends), it didn't really feel "real" until a neighbor drove by and noticed the Realtor sign. It is one thing to clean your house - and I'd like to say that we always keep the house reasonably clean - but it is another to remove a lot of the personal things that make it your home. I don't mean just the pictures and such, but the idea that I can't leave the spoon I use to stir coffee in the morning on the edge of the sink*. That might gross out a potential buyer.

Suddenly, our home is now a product that we are trying to push. It isn't something to get upset about because this is something we both want, but there is certainly something different about it.

I am not fond of long goodbyes, so won't you purchase my fantastic product? Soon?

* The Realtor did not tell me I couldn't leave a dirty spoon on the edge of the sink but I sort of guessed it was part of the overall game plan.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Keeping Watch...

This is the view looking up at our front balcony as we prepare for the carpet installers to arrive. Proof that we have too much crap.
And yes, that is in fact Batman keeping watch over the neighborhood. Perhaps now that my son has purchased his own home, Batman can make the move to OKC.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Another View: Looking at San Antonio...

This was the view of downtown San Antonio from a small neighborhood we looked at in the area of Adkins, TX.
It was a nice drive with the exception of the speeding ticket I got for doing 80 in a 65 on I-37 South. I'm pretty sure I wasn't doing 80 - at least at the exact location he snagged me. Oh well. I haven't had a ticket or taken Defensive Driving in about 10 years, so I guess it was about time.

Strange on Westoak...

This was the scene across from my Mother-in-law's house the other day as I was pulling into the driveway.
Sometimes you wonder if things like this are the work of an amateur shade tree mechanic or if this is exactly how they would do it if you took your car to the BMW Dealership. Strange.

And the Search is On...

Last evening we took a round about drive towards Quihi to look at a property that caught my wife's eye.

When we were first married over 25 years ago, we lived in some apartments off of Ingram Road near Culebra. The apartments are still there but the name has changed. Anyway, when we felt like taking a drive "out into the country" back then, we would get on Potranco and take it beyond Loop 1604 and enjoy the scenic views of cows and fields of corn or whatever they were growing out there.
Over the years, we have watched the scenic views take longer to get to and fill significantly less space. There is one development after another as San Antonio "moves" closer to Castroville.

The house near Quihi turned out to be a bust. Backing up to a fairway on a golf course is just not the type of relaxation I'm looking for, and I'm not so sure the golfers would appreciate our dog racing after the balls each time an errant shot flew in our direction.

Too bad. Quihi is fun to say out loud.

Friday, September 24, 2010

It's Time...

One of the motivations I had when I started this blog was to share with the readers who might stumble upon it via location specific searches, the joy my wife and I have for our neighborhood - Silver Creek - and of course our hometown of San Antonio.

When we first got started, I often posted my own accounts of our homeowners association minutes, at first finding the whole affair to be rather amusing. In those early days of this blog, the board meetings were a complete mess. There was infighting amongst the various factions and as new visitors to these meetings, my wife and I were sought upon like fresh meat in the lions den for parties from the opposing sides to feast upon, hoping that we would join a particular camp. While my wife had zero interest in any of outlandish behavior at all, I found the entire circus to be both entertaining and humorous.

In spite of the ridiculous, totally bizarre actions by some of the participants - board members, association staff and plain ol' residents like me, I really felt like these were good people with a little too much time on their hands. I realized that quite honestly, for the 99 percent of the residents who lived in our neighborhood that never attended a meeting, none of this nonsense mattered in the least. The bottom line at the end of the year was, "Did my HOA assessment go up, down, or stay the same?" I attended with clipboard in hand, took notes and offered you folks a little insight - at least I hope I did.

When my wife and I weren't attending HOA events, we were visiting small Texas towns on enjoyable weekend drives and documenting the evidence of the food we partook in at Barbecue joint after hamburger stand after catfish cafe. In just a few short years, readers here could watch my girth expand while reading about every gut-busting bacon cheeseburger shoveled down my gullet followed by gallons of iced tea and refreshing adult beverages. Clearly, folks became more interested in where we went to eat rather than what scandal my HOA had been involved with during the previous week.

In time, my fascination with photographing life's goofier moments, more often than not pointed out by the sharp eye of my wife, became a staple with constant homage to the real Strange in San Antonio. I'll never forget seeing a car being pulled backwards down Tezel Road or that hood of a truck with a hole sawed into it to accommodate the wrong sized radiator. You just know that in either case, alcohol was surely involved.

A neighbor once asked me what the process was for writing these blog posts, and I told him that honestly, I sit down and write for ten minutes and hit publish. I can't say that is true anymore. In fact, I have numerous posts about places we have eaten and the pictures I have taken simply sitting unfinished in the queue begging to be finished so they might see the eager eye of some hungry person Googling for a place to get a good burger, but time has become too much of a commodity these days. When the words don't flow, I don't have the time to put into deep thought for the words to describe what we saw, and my sense of pride won't allow me to "mail it in" with templated offerings of Tasty Treats.

So instead you get a video about a guy "rapin errbody out here", which I still have to admit is quite brilliant. At any rate, for the lack of recent effort; I apologize.

If you follow my wife on Facebook, you've already read the news. After lots of starts and stops, plans and re-plans, we have decided to put this house we love in this neighborhood we truly enjoy onto the market so as to seek a new adventure in a yet to be determined home in a yet to be identified suburb of San Antonio. It has been one of the most agonizing snap decisions we have ever made because of the things we have done to this home and because of the amazing friendships that we have developed here.

So when we move, what does it mean for a blog named after a specific neighborhood in a specific zip code? I guess it means we start a new blog with a new name and I find the time to tell you about the new places we eat and the new towns we visit. And if our new home ends up built on a small spread of acreage in the wilds of Floresville or Lytle or Castroville or some small town in between, there is a good chance we will tell you of the snakes and spiders and scorpions we learn to live with. Let's hope we can move into a place with an HOA that forbids such wildlife from encroaching upon our living space.

And what about you? Are you ready to pack up your junk, load up the U-Haul and come take our place in this awesome neighborhood? We won't leave the jacuzzi or the tub, but we can offer great neighbors and a great house. Lemme know if you need the name of my Realtor!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

He Lives!

Hey, y'all! I am flattered by the many e-mails, comments and questions from folks I see in person asking about the status of Silver Creek 78250 (the Blog, not the place). In short, I have simply been busy. We still have to eat and I still take pictures, but I just haven't made the time to tell you about all the places we have been in the past month or so.

Not to worry, on the off chance you were in fact worried; I'll be back with more important news of vittles consumed, weird people seen, and commentary in general.
I'll leave you with this sighting from just the other day. I love seeing the HEB Security Staff on duty patrolling the mean streets of Alamo Ranch!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Bedroom Intruder: Catchy...

I am a huge fan of the audio and video editing software available to the average home user these days. If only I had a little talent, I might be able to take an everyday newscast and turn a scary situation into something really funny.

First, you have to watch this real news report about a serious incident that occurred in Lincoln Park.



This isn't the funny part, but I have to admit, I laughed when I saw this guy, Antoine Dodson giving his eyewitness testimony.



Now, through the miracle of some cool editing, we have a song that quite frankly, is kinda catchy.

About Your Host

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San Antonio, TX, United States
I love to observe the odd things happening around me as I go about my day. I especially like it when I can get a picture of people being themselves. Here, I attempt to report the various people and events I have encountered in my neighborhood, and my city. I'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail your experiences and photos of life in San Antonio.

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