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Thursday, March 11, 2010

House Tour

Well since I can’t get everyone down to Dallas on standby tickets, I thought I’d give you the tour of the new place from the comfort of your own computer.  The house is about 10 minutes south of our current apartment, located just off the highway southwest of the airport.  You only have to go on the highway for one exit to get here from the airport.  It’s in a prime spot for both of us to get to the airport for work quickly without having to worry about getting stuck in traffic. 

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Posted by eclipse on 03/11/2010 at 01:28 AM
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Saturday, March 06, 2010

The House Post

Well it must be the beginning of a new year because we’re moving again!  Hopefully for the last time in a long, long while!  While the housing market has not crashed as much in Dallas as other parts of the country, it’s mostly because everything here is just dirt cheap to begin with.  Alison brought up the idea of moving into a house first.  Her aunt is a real estate agent down here in Dallas, and made everything pretty easy for us.  We came up a budget of $100-$120,000 and wanted to stay in Euless to be close to the airport for work.  We saw about 10 houses in all.  Most were crap, some were okay but not really us.  One was decent but way overpriced.  We were about to put in a lowball offer on it when the new one came onto the market.  We looked at it right away.  It is light years ahead of the other homes at its price.  They accepted with very minor tweaks to the contract.

The house is an older house, built in 1963, which means it’s got some wear and tear, but nothing too major.  The only problems I see are the weakass electrical system and a little bit of remodeling in the master bedroom.  Other than that just a lot of elbow grease, and time.  The inside is nice, almost 1700 sq feet which is more space than we know what to do with at the moment.  What really sold the house was the backyard.  It’s got a nice backyard with a few big trees for shade, landscaping is already done, a huge porch for grilling and stuff, and an addition to the house in the form of a nice sunroom which, located between the kitchen and the future grill, will be our dining room.  Our option period is over, so it’s pretty much a done deal pending our financing now.

Should be looking good by quakecon, which was announced for August 12-15 at the Hilton Anatole, downtown Dallas.  You should come on down and visit!  Also, free standby airline tickets to the first 2 people who offer to help us move in April! :D

Not any really good pictures of the inside yet.  Will post when I have them.

Posted by eclipse on 03/06/2010 at 09:59 PM
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Thursday, February 04, 2010

Escape to Cancun

Back in the end of January when it was actually cold in Dallas for over a week straight, I decided I had had enough.  Alison and I both had 3 days off coming up, so we decided to do something about it, and set our sights on Cancun, Mexico.  A day later, we were taking off first class in an American 757 and landed in warm weather just two and a half hours later.  Cancun boasts 350 sunny days a year, so I guess we should consider ourselves lucky that we got so see such a rare event as a rain storm over the beach.  Spent some time exploring the hotel, having lunch, and hanging out in lobby when the rain finally stopped so we could head outside.


We walked along the beach and waded out into the ocean, but there were pretty strong waves so we called it quits pretty quickly.  Went back up to the hotel to change and ended up falling asleep after having to wake up so early for our flight.  Later in the evening when we woke up, we went out walking along the street and came upon the hard rock cafe for dinner.  The burgers were big and good, but the band wasn’t too great so we left for the hotel again.
The next day the weather was sunny again, with temperatures in the upper 70’s.  Glad to be out of cold Dallas and especially glad to be out of the snowy northeast, we set off for the beach again.  The waves were still pretty strong so we didn’t last long in the water.  We found an umbrella to sit under, but were chased away promptly by some mexican guy demanding money.  The Hyatt’s beach was still under construction, so we didn’t have any nice beachfront to enjoy ourselves and we ended up coming back to the hotel to lay by the pool.  Of course the pool wasn’t heated and was freezing cold so almost no one was swimming, and everyone was crowded along the outside of the pool laying on chairs under umbrellas.  We found an unused umbrella by the top pool, which the wind picked up out of its stand, threw it 10 feet in the air, and then back at us.  So much for the upstairs umbrellas.  Finally we were able to secure a nice spot by the downstairs pool and spent the afternoon down there. 



For dinner we went out to an authentic mexican restaurant across from the Hyatt.  It was a large restaurant but was completely empty except for one other couple.  It was a pretty strange place.  It seemed like they didn’t even know why we had come when we opened the doors, asking us what we wanted.  Yeah…we’d like some food please…  So I figured they were all in the mexican mafia and the restaurant was a cover-up.  But the food was okay and it ended up all good.  Early the next morning we headed back to Dallas first class again, awesome! 
Fun trip all in all.  This was different than our usual touristy trips where we explore cities.  We mostly stayed in and around the hotel.  I forgot how easily I sunburn, so I’ll take an extra moment to think about it before signing up for the next beach vacation.  The mexican folks were nice people, but they are so in-your-face about selling you stuff.  They spot you from a mile away and rush you.  I felt like sometimes I couldn’t get a whole sentence out without being interrupted by someone trying to sell me tickets to a comedy club.  The more they asked, the less I wanted to go.  It got to the point where I didn’t want to go out anymore.  Also, every time I looked at something’s price I freaked out because the symbol for the peso is the same as the dollar but it’s worth 12 times less.  So a dinner entry costs $650.  Couldn’t get used to that in the short time we were there.  Other than that and sunburns, I did enjoy getting away for a few days and not freezing anymore.  Might try Key West next though instead of Mexico.
Posted by eclipse on 02/04/2010 at 10:57 PM
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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New York

In November Alison and I went to New York City.  She had never been there and I had vacation time assigned to me.  As the day to leave approached, things started to go wrong.  My vacation days were moved slightly at the beginning of the month which meant I had to work the first day we were supposed to be there.  Not a huge deal though, we decided Alison would fly up ahead and get the hotel room.  All I had to do was work one turn to Lubbock and then I could fly down and meet her there.  Of course there was a huge storm that wreaked havoc that whole day, and on top of it, I came down with some sinus infection.  We were 4 hours late and I missed the flight.  I was saved by the fact that another AA flight was delayed even beyond ours and got to New York around 1:30am.  Rode with some crazy non licensed taxi driver from the airport to the hotel at a hundred miles an hour, pretty scary.

Despite feeling like crap, we were determined to see the city.  I figured we’d go south to the statue of liberty and walk north from there.  We saw it from afar and bought tickets for the next day.  Then walked up to the WTC site, which is still a big construction site.  Saw an old church, went up to city hall, saw the Brooklin Bridge, Chinatown, and had Pizza at Lombardi’s.  Rested for a little bit back at the hotel and then went out to Times Square for sushi. 

The next day started at the Statue of Liberty again, but we got to take the boat over to Liberty Island.  We got to walk around the base and go up on the pedestal.  They had a nice little museum inside the base.  You can go up to the crown for lots of money, but we didn’t.  It took about half the day.  We then had some more pizza and went to Central Park.  Went on a horse carriage ride for fifteen minutes or so.  Saw the 5th Ave Apple Store underground, and also went to the expensive stores around. 

On the last day we went to the Empire State Building, and went to the 86th floor observatory.  It was pretty cold and windy so we stayed on the warmer south side.  We walked around Times square over to Rockefeller Plaza where they were putting up the tree and the Catholic Church near there.  Pretty impressive amount of money eaten up by that church.  We ended up in Central Park again to be near the apple store for internets.  I needed to sign in 4 hours before the flight, so we stayed pretty near but went for ice cream at Serendipity’s.  The sundae there was good.  The hot chocolate, not so much. 

Posted by eclipse on 12/30/2009 at 10:48 PM
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Saturday, July 04, 2009

The San Francisco Treat

This is an overdue post, but I wanted to write about it while it’s still semi-fresh in my mind.  Between June 18-21, Alison and I went to San Francisco to celebrate 5 years together.  It was a trip just for us, no responsibility to see family or anything and it was great.  Similar to the LA Trip, we used my flight benefits and Alison’s hotel benefits to basically travel for free.  We also had to fly in the coach section on the way down there, the humanity!  But at least we got exit row seats..  Again, we didn’t go with many plans made in advance, but we wanted to see the city and Alcatraz. 

The flight out was pretty smooth but early.  We are both used to the late shift, since Alison works nights at the hotel.  We were able to get from the SFO airport to the hotel via train and checked in without problems.  Out to see the city!  Despite tiredness, we started walking down the pier, hearing rumor of excellent clam chowder and sourdough bread.  Starting at Pier 1, we walked across the shoreline for about a mile or so until we got to Pier 39, where all the action is.  We looked out into the bay.  Alcatraz island was partially hidden behind some sea fog, looking ominous in the distance.  There was also a surprising amount of sea lions around the buildings.  A plaque described how they all of a sudden showed up a few years ago and just never felt like leaving.  We moved on into the shops!  Lots of good looking food and deserts.  We stopped at a little place and Alison got the clam chowder and I got a seafood basket.  Both were pretty good.  Then we hit up the chocolate store, and Alison got some gigantic strawberries from another shop.  Continuing our touristy adventure, we passed an aquarium and decided to stop in.  It wasn’t that big, but had some neat things.  Weird looking crabs, jellyfish, sharks, and an octopus.  We walked around a little more and got tired, and decided to head back to the hotel and think about dinner.  We jumped on a trolley car which took us almost right next to the Hyatt Regency.  I have to give a shoutout to the iPhone’s Google maps application.  The public transit directions it gave were almost flawless (except for one time) and helped out a lot in a new place.  Saved a lot of time.  We rested a little and then went looking for a place to have dinner.  After a lot of searching we found a steakhouse but I can’t remember the name.  It was Perry’s or something.  Anyways, Alison chose it because she liked the tablecloth of all things, but it turned out to be an awesome restaurant.  I had a fillet with mac and cheese (always an awesome combo), and she had some sort of dinner salad.  Both were great.  Exhausted from the long and early day, we walked back to the hyatt to end the night.

For the next day, the 19th, we decided to go hit the Golden Gate park.  It’s a long way away from the Hyatt where we were staying.  Thanks to google maps public transportation, we were able to jump on a bus out there pretty easily.  Some guy on the bus asked us where we were going and we told him.  Turns out there’s a lot of pot being sold there.  Declined his offer, as we looked at each other in apprehension.  Sure enough, about 5 minutes into our morning walk, someone asked us again if we wanted to buy some “nuggets”.. uhh no!  The park was a strange mix of stuff like that, but also little kids on field trips, tennis courts, homeless people walking about, museums, busy streets etc..  We settled on looking around the japanese tea gardens.  We had to pay $5 each to get in, but oh well.  There were some neat things in there like a giant arched bridge and huge stairs, but we decided to leave the park and hit up Chinatown.  Rode the bus some more and ended up in a Chinese looking area.  We walked back and forth but there weren’t a lot of shops for tourists - mostly food shops, and they didn’t look too sanitary.  Little did we know, we were in the more residential area of Chinatown, about a block away from touristy-chinatown.  We headed towards the Trans-America building and went back to the Hyatt for some rest and a quick bite to eat before we went to the Giants-Rangers baseball game.  I had been wanting to go to a baseball game for a while so we went and it was fun.  Cold, but fun.  The fact that they were playing the Dallas team was a coincidence, but the Giants won anyways.  Had hotdogs and pretzels and stuff.

Our last day, the 20th, was our Alcatraz day.  Turns out, they only allow one company to take people over to island.  Hello monopoly!  And since the pride rally was coming up that week, everything was sold out far in advance.  A little bummed out, we went out exploring again, starting the day out with a ride up Nob hill on the old fashioned cable car.  Pretty neat ride, but the driver was a bit of an ass.  We got off at the top and walked our way down, finding the Grace Cathedral and the “real” Chinatown.  At least the one for the tourists.  I picked up something for my dad for father’s day, and Alison got a chinese fan.  Then we headed up to Pier 39 again and booked a boat ride that takes you out to the Golden Gate Bridge and around the island of Alcatraz.  Our tickets were good all day, so we went up to Ghirardelli Square for ice cream and chocolate.  I had a brownie sundae and Alison got a caramel sundae.  Pro-tip: Get the brownie sundae when you go.  Alison’s was sugar overload and mine was awesome.  We shared a lot, so it’s all good.  Headed back down to the Pier and got on the boat.  It was a fun ride, very cold as we went into the wind and very pleasant when we turned around towards Alcatraz.  Got some good pics, got to see the monstrous bridge and got to see the island pretty close.  Next time we’ll be smarter and book our tour in advance.  The day ended with a nice dinner at a more fancy place that I also can’t remember the name.  I was trying to decide between a new york steak and bacon-wrapped pork chops..  Alison was sweet enough to order the pork chops and I got the steak.  They were good but the portions were small.  More Money = Less Food yay.  Oh well it tasted good and we had some dessert.  Headed back to the Hyatt to get some sleep for the early flight next morning.

As the trip ended, we met the SuperShuttle around 4am on the 21st and headed out to the airport.  We both got first class on the way home, but our seats weren’t together :(  I spent most of the flight sleeping anyways though.  All in all we both had a lot of fun and maybe we’ll go there again some day.

Check out all the pics in my gallery at http://www.darkmercury.net/gallery2/v/sanfran/

Posted by eclipse on 07/04/2009 at 01:31 AM
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