it´s my abandoned blog! i know you all hate me for being the complete slob the last few months. really though...you haven´t missed much.

right now, we´re in mexico city until monday. we´ve been here since the 7th and have rented this house for a week. the mexican owner is in london teaching...russian literature of all things.

it´s not a bad place. this is the first time in 14 trips to mexico city that we´ve rented a house. usually, we´d stay in a hotel in the historic district for less than $50 a night. so paying $750 a week is definitely splurging. and why not spring for a house instead!

at first, we were totally enamored when we arrived...but the love for the place has diminished some. we´re happy to have the space...unbelievable cooking utensils...an espresso maker...a $2000 fridge...a beautiful library. the old wood in the house reminded us of our old house in denver...and so does the damn traffic!!!

the worst thing about the house is that it is on a super noisy one way street, just like 6th avenue, and doesn´t die down until after 9:00 PM. the roar of the 18-wheelers and the cacophony of blaring horns just about sets you on edge when you´re trying to relax.

so we´re basically staying in late to avoid the subway masses (7-10AM) and hanging out until 6PM, just before the evening commute starts. trust me, you have to time transportation accordingly in mexico city if you want to avoid the hectic bustle of a metropolitan area of 25 million inhabitants, especially when there are five million riders.

right now we´re in an internet cafe in zona rosa, the first tourist trap in mexico city. although the highbrow and hoity toity have moved on to neighborhoods such as condesa and polanco, there are still throngs of american and european tourists who lurk its streets. and it seems to be the new hangout for the young, uber cool mexican youth.

we´ll probably spend the rest of the day strolling along Avenida Reforma, a huge boulevard that could pass for a mexican Avenue des Champs-Élysées. in a few hours, we´ll head back to the flat and open some beer. what a tough day!



finished w/ everything. life in mabank is interesting. the weather is really beautiful right now...w/ temps in the 70s and 80s. of course, that will ALL change come summer - hot, sticky, and tornado ridden. to get anywhere, we have to drive to either gun barrel city or seven points. mabank has a few things but is pretty small.

going to dallas this afternoon to celebrate lois' birthday today. we're staying here and eating here tonight and there tomorrow.

gotta hit the shower and drop the dog off at lois' sister. hope you all have a great weekend!

the pic below is of the local high school, a couple miles from the house. if we get bored, we may consider subbing there ;)



checking in.

still haven't finished unpacking. it may take another week. however, some progress has been made...really!

don't have to deal w/ going to lois' sister's house and enduring the dial-up anymore. we're up and running with the DVR too. i still need to try and sit down to watch King of Kong while it's on PPV. at least if we're going to cancel netflixx, we should catch some movies. the worst thing about small towns is lack of movie options. we're relegated to seeing one of four (usually bad mainstream) movies at the theater in seven points...about fifteen minutes away. sure, the tix are cheaper ($5-$6.50), but for what? shutter and drillbit taylor? i don't think so.

we've also opted for new office furniture (i.e., desk and file cabinet). last week, we took a road trip to athens, tx, (where the nearest office depot is located). there, we got this and this. so the last couple of days have been spent building 'em. office looks nice though.

sorry to keep it so short but we're off to dinner w/ some of lois' family at one of two chinese restaurants in town. hope it's not as foul as the first mexican restaurant they took us to...


so torturous...

i simply cannot wait until tuesday, when we get DSL and Dish. we've been staying at lois' sister's house for a few days now...and they're cursed w/ dial up.

well, our move took a little longer than anticipated. originally, we had planned to leave town by 1:00 PM last saturday.

no luck.

you see, the 26' truck that we had rented fit the contents of our house beautifully. unfortunately, we still had 60-70 MORE boxes, a china cabinet, fans, and two bookcases...crammed into a 10'x10' storage unit.

soooo...we had to rent a 17' u-haul as well. luckily, we still had five people for four vehicles.

and instead of leaving at 1:00...it turned into leaving at 3:30. oh well. so we just make a huge push on sunday.


initially, we wanted to make it to either hays or salina, KS the first night. that way, it would be another 8-10 hours the next day. well, we made it as far as stratton, which is roughly 30 miles from the colorado/kansas border.

so we spend another night...

double ha!

on sunday morning, we got on the road at 7:45, wanting to beat the snow that was bearing down on denver's metropolitan area...a mere 140 miles away. just 15 miles down the road, near burlington, the truck has acceleration problems. seems that the truck simply does not want to go. mebbe it's a fuel filter problem. so we call penske and have the thing changed in goodland.

while we're waiting in goodland, lois' nephew, roger, and i are sent ahead. if there are additional problems, at least roger and i can get a vehicle and u-haul back to texas. for that first day, we're pretty much 100 miles ahead of the other three.

after some really blinding rain, roger and i make it into the north wichita best western...not a bad place. a couple hours later, lois, her sister, and brother-in-law, get in...w/ the same truck problem. seems that nothing has been resolved. sooo...

on monday morning, roger and i head out again while the other three wait five more hours to get the truck fixed. this time, the diagnosed problem is a faulty supercharger (turbo). basically, roger and i haul ass because we hear that worse inclement weather was headed for the oklahoma/texas areas...and roger is expected back at work on tuesday.

fortunately (for roger and myself) we get to roger's house at three in the afternoon, just whizzing through some snow flurries and rain between southern oklahoma and northern texas. we hear from the others that penske is going to pick up the tab for another night's stay/meals while they're on the road. and by 5:00 the rain is coming down in sheets, lasting well into the night.

on tuesday, the other three roll into town about 11:00, having endured some harrowing snow in the arbuckle mountains...in oklahoma. i guess there is such a thing as oklahoma mts. ;)

so the move was an ordeal...but still a pretty lucky situation. by tuesday night, more snow had hit northern texas and brought most traffic to a standstill. in fact, some places got walloped w/ nine(!) inches of snow. most texans freak at the sight of one inch, just think what nine did for them...

and that's the pictureless (i'm not gonna post any w/ dial-up!!!) version of our move.

as for the unpacking, i never realized how much fun packing is because we are now totally overwhelmed w/ too much stuff in a too small of a house. we really took our oak built-ins for granted. it's a shame that we loaded two trucks full of stuff, drove them 900 miles...just to have a garage sale.

triple fuckin' ha!

methinks that enough dishes for 40 placesettings, dozens of stemware, and probably six dozen mugs is a wee bit too much for two people and a dog. the boxes of dishes are multplying as i type...groan! so with phone/internet/satellite bundle coming on tuesday...the washer/dryer/fridge coming on thursday...we may be set up by sophie's b-day, which is april 1st.

appropriate for us moving fools, eh? hope you all have a great sunday and don't forget to lose that precious hour of sleep!



i know the move is in a mere six days but if you weren't able to see pics of the new house, here's a cached link and one of the soon-to-be old house...this one is of a virtual tour that has much more content than the old listing (which was only up a couple weeks).


did anyone catch the oscars? we missed the first half because we were at dinner at this place, which still has the town's best hummus and pita, hands down. we've been eating there for probably 14-15 years. in fact, the first or second time i ever ate there was with this guy and our friend, Duc. man, time flies...

sigh...how i'm going to miss their phenomenal food and dismal service ;) oh well, since we're going to be coming back twice a year (march & september) minimum, we're already compiling a list of restaurants we can't live without.

anyway, back to the oscars. i'm really glad that no country for old men won four (best picture/director/supporting actor[Javier Bardem]/adapted screenplay) of the eight awards for which it was nominated. have you all seen it? those coen siblings have finally topped fargo with this masterpiece. here's the trailer:

i'm especially happy for javier bardem though. he was just plain sensational as the crazed executioner, anton chigurh. although bardem had already scored 18 other best supporting actor awards over the past year for his portrayal of an icy killer w/ the world's worst haircut, the golden statue finally makes him a top tier actor...he's really gonna start raking it in now ;)

i just saw on his imdb profile that he's in pre-production for Killing Pablo, which totally intrigues me. why? well, i've always been interested in the iconic Pablo Escobar, the slain chief of Colombia's notorious Medellín cocaine cartel. this man was very much public enemy #1 to the u.s. war on drugs from the 80's until 1993, when he was killed while evading capture. what's most interesting about Escobar is the fact that he was hailed as a hero/savior by the poor of Medellín at the same time the U.S. gov't deemed him as murderous scum. the guy w/ the bad comb over was a civic philanthropist who built numerous soccer stadiums, churches, and homes in the poorest Colombian slums. of course, all the jobs he provided were drug related and basically provided him w/ a good measure of protection.

another thing that intrigues me about the upcoming movie (2009 perhaps) is that makeup will have to work quite hard to make Javier Bardem look like Pablo Escobar. how are you gonna go from this to this? it ain't gonna be easy ;)

Of course, if they could make him look like this, it might just be a piece of cake. There's a great story behind the haircut. In researching Anton Chigurh's hair style for the movie, the Coen Brothers used a photo of a brothel patron taken in 1979 as a model. Immediately after getting the haircut, Bardem looked in the mirror and exclaimed, "Oh no...now I won't get laid for the next two months."



a story...

from china.

yes, i know...SURELY YOU JEST! after keeping you all in the dark about my two week odyssey in southern china, i've finally decided to blog a little more about it.

today, you're going to hear about how much FUN it is to cash traveler's checks in china. now, i'm not sure if it's a fiasco in large, metropolitan areas like beijing or shanghai, but expect lines and drama if you're ever in the central Bank of China location in taishan.

banks open at about 9:00...quite normal. chinese banks are open spaces with endless marble...a little opulence. there are long queues for transactions...just like banks anywhere. sometimes if you're in a bank, you may witness shouting matches and near fights.


we found out that cashing traveler's checks is quite a process. i know in latin america, sometimes there are special lines/windows for this exact transaction. usually it's a bit of a pain because you need to have your passport and there are limited hours; many don't cash traveler's checks after noon. so you have to be prepared and time it well.

in china, though, you have to basically go to the customer service line (which was a freestanding kiosk in this branch) . we waited about 30 min. to get our checks signed and processed before they sent us to another line. in china, there are three types of transaction lines: deposits, withdrawals, and bill payment. traveler's checks fall in the bill payment line.

and of the three lines, the withdrawal line is always the longest. i think there were at least 45 people constantly waiting to take money out. the bill paying line, meanwhile, averaged about 15 people the entire time we were there. and the deposits? well, no one makes those...

what makes the least sense is that there were probably four or five deposit lines and only one of the other two kinds. yep...we're talking ripe for drama.

the two extra hours we were in the bill payment line, we witnessed some major yelling in the withdrawal line. the first fight was over preferential treatment (like getting your friends to the head of the line) by a teller and the second squabble was two ladies yelling at another because her transaction was taking so long.

in our line, we watched two men nearly duke it out over putting an elderly lady at the head of the line while she waited for her son to cash his traveler's checks. personal space is not a priority if you're in a chinese bank.

what's really odd is that the security guards did nothing while this was going on. aggressive perpetrators weren't escorted outside nor even chided. they basically told them to calm down, which only escalated the meltdown.

i so wish i had a secret camera to record all of this. of course, i'm sure that'd mean a broken camera or physical harm...

we lucked out though. after nearly 2.5 hours of waiting, we were able to cash traveler's checks for two people. another fifteen minutes and we would have been screwed...chinese banks take two hours for lunch!

so if you're ever in need of money in china, repeat after me: "A-T-M"

it's something i've sworn by over the past seventeen years of traveling latin america. why i thought it'd be troublesome to have in china is beyond me.

then again...i wouldn't have this story now, would i?


is unfair ;)

american airlines is running a fare special from denver to honolulu...for $292!!! i know these seats will probably sell out ridiculously fast because that's about half the regular price. anyway, it's one stop through dallas. what's unfair about it is that there's no sale from dallas to honolulu. even if we were to take the identical flight from dallas (i.e., the second leg after denver-dallas), the price is jacked up to $907!!!

ya see what i mean? so i guess we'll have to drive up from texas, visit everyone, and THEN go to hawaii...


contacts! i went to the optometrist today to see if i was still a candidate for soft toric contacts. since my uveitis diagnosis in 2005, i hadn't worn them and was frankly too scared to ask. after 18 years of wearing them, i did miss them.

well, last year, my ophthalmologist said that i could probably go back to wearing them on occasion, like maybe once a week. so i finally got the courage up to seek out a new pair today. they're the purevision toric contacts made by bausch & lomb. i have a trial pair until next monday, when i go for the follow-up exam. if everything is okay, they'll order six pairs and even mail them to texas if they don't arrive in time.



a serious...

been up since 6:45...and am on a killer caffeine high. since getting up, i've only had black tea...coffee...and pillsbury brownies. i am this close to an eye twitch...and that's in my good eye ;)

we're finally having a relaxing morning. last saturday, we had a total of 16 people who came to the open house...and two couples were interested. by sunday, we had an offer...which we countered w/ half the difference. and by monday night, the house went under contract with a young couple from fort collins. we're still stunned that our house would sell so quickly. in fact, we close at the end of the month and will be in texas by the 3rd or 4th...a full five weeks earlier than expected!

it was really promising to hear (after the open house) that the prospective buyers walked in and loved the house. the story is the couple (i'll call them BA) had been looking at houses in the wash park area all afternoon and decided to finally call it quits before heading to lunch at 3PM. as they drove down 6th, the wife saw the signs and begged her husband to stop at one more. at first, he commented that they probably couldn't afford it (right...an engineer and lawyer) but relented anyway.

well the second he walked in, he exclaimed, "This is the one!" and proceeded to wander around the house like a lost kid in a candy store. he even got the ladder out of the garage and climbed up into the attic...where he swooned about the size and potential of it. you see our attic is 1200 sq. ft. of space that just needs to be reinforced and finished. if they have the time and money to do it, BA could easily make the house 3600 sq. ft. and probably command $700-$800K down the road (mebbe in 10 years).

anyway, we've been keeping the house spotless (another factor in their loving it) and just riding it out. although i do have to admit that it has been hard to cook minimally, leave w/ the dog for hours at a time, and generally change my slobbish ways for the sake of the house...it's like you're living in a museum and can't touch anything.

today, we've got another busy day ahead. in a couple minutes, we're off to the box store to get plastic wrap and specialty sized boxes for frames and the huge mirror we have hanging over the fireplace. at 2:00, a plumber is coming over to scope the sewer (a good sign that the soon-to-be owners are serious and the contract won't fall through). and after that, bobby, a financial planner who lives two doors down (and has been a great friend for more than 15 years) is coming over to help us w/ our money stuff. guess we're not cooking again ;)

more later...have a great day!