Houston Status Update for Tuesday

Remember the halcyon days of yore, when you’d go to the phone company office or use a friend’s phone or a work phone or even a pay phone, and say to the phone company, "I’d like phone service at my new residence at [address], please" and they’d take care of it?

Forget it. AT&T was my provider in Michigan, but the customer service number for there doesn’t work for AT&T in Texas. After no fewer than 5 phone calls and, eventually, after negotiating 5 sessions of voice-prompt hell, speaking with 9 different people, I have phone service scheduled to happen tomorrow and DSL to be active on Thursday.

Here’s the kicker: I live in an AT&T U-verse area, which means lotsa fiber, not a lot of copper. And since I don’t want the AT&T U-verse TV service (because I have been a DirecTV customer for 10+ years and would like to stay that way), the best they can do for me on DSL is the 1.5Mbps "Express" level, not the 3.0Mbps "Pro" service I had in Michigan or (what I really wanted) the 6.0Mbps "Gold" service. If I go with the full U-verse deal, I can get up to StupidFast bandwidth (something like 24Mbps), but it’s a lot more money and I would also have to pay for TV service I don’t want/need. I have heard nothing but nightmare stories from friends and family who have been talked into subscribing to the U-verse FIOS (basically, it’s fiber all the way to the house), because it’s Not Ready for Prime Time. On top of that, it requires, installed in your house: an always-on power supply (using your electricity), backup batteries in case the power goes out (so you’ll have phone service) that require periodic service/replacement, and a large box that sits in a corner and glowers sullenly at you. Supposedly, Houston was one of the roll-out cities for U-verse and they’ve had over a year to work the bugs out, but I don’t believe it just yet. At any rate, there are no plans to upgrade the regular DSL network in the area, so until they decide to decouple the U-verse networking from the all-singing, all-dancing phone/network/TV U-verse bundle, I’m stuck with crap. At least the Express is cheaper than the Pro or Gold.

So I have a phone number now.

And then I called DirecTV’s Mover’s Connection, and I have scheduled for Friday morning (they were offering to come on Thursday, but that’s going to be chaotic enough with the movers) a trip to put up a new dish in place of the old one on the house, and give me new receivers (including a DVR). This took one call, one human. This is why I continue to do business with DirecTV. AT&T could learn a lot from this customer service model.

So. Next bite of the elephant is: cleaning. Decided to start at the master bedroom/bathroom and work my way across the house from there. Why? Well, once the waterbed is set up and filled, it’s not moving. My next stop is the store to buy certain cleaning supplies I didn’t bring with me from Michigan, figuring (correctly) that there are stores here that carry the same stuff.

Monday was uneventfully eventful, really, if you get my meaning. I got the gas and water utilities arranged, met the landlord at the house, got the keys and garage remote, and unloaded stuff from truck & trailer, starting with Scooter’s big cage. This made him happy to be "home". I then found temporary outdoor storage nearby for the trailer — and truthfully, if the enclosed storage that’s a tick closer to the house and only $15/month more wasn’t available, I’d keep it where it is now. Good place, friendly people. I also did a little shopping for some necessary basics — an Aerobed, sheets for same, and a set of towels, so I’d have someplace to sleep besides the floor and a way to dry myself after showering. I also got one of the most un-guy-things ever, a bed skirt for the waterbed. But I don’t like looking at the plain, unadorned foundations (it’s a soft-side bed, looks like a conventional mattress/box spring set) and I use a comforter instead of a full bedspread, so bed skirt it is. See? K did have some sort of civilizing effect on me. šŸ™‚

The new place has ceramic tile (bathrooms, kitchen, utility room) and hardwood (everywhere else) floors. It also has forced-air heat with all the registers in the ceilings. It also has cathedral ceilings in the main room and the master bedroom. The practical upshot of all this is I got up to cold floors this morning. You see, the place in Michigan has radiant hot water heat in the floors, so when you get up to go to the bathroom, you step onto nice, toasty-warm tile. Best feature of that little house. On days like today, I’m missing that. Had to put socks on.

I did get the ceiling fans in both main room and master bedroom spinning in reverse, which helps circulate the warm back down to people-level, but the furnace was working pretty hard. Mind you, the current temp at 4:30 pm is 43F, which is near the lower limit of what people planned on here, so it’s not really a surprise to me that the heat plant is having to struggle a bit to keep up.

So, next step for me is getting over to the store for cleaning supplies, maybe finding some dinner, and then settling in for a night of bathroom scrubbing and bedroom cleaning along with bird skritching (not at same time: cleaning fluid fumes and cockatiels are non-compatible. I have no TV and no home ‘net access until later in the week, so I’m just going to have to muddle through actually getting stuff done instead of mucking around on the computer or watching TV shows (someone tell me what happens on "Leverage", will ya?). Bad planning on my part — if I’d realized the house already had a DirecTV dish, I’d have kept the small TV and one of my satellite receivers with me. Oh, well, live and learn. šŸ™‚

Tomorrow: I need to get the parts of the kitchen and utility room that will be occupied by large appliances cleaned up in the morning, as the movers *might* come in the afternoon. The rest I can move around (and probably will — I’m struggling a bit with how I’m going to lay out the living room as the logical place to put the entertainment bits is opposite the fireplace that I probably won’t use much anyway and I have a couch and a recliner and a computer workstation to locate).

And shelf paper. Need shelf paper for the kitchen cabinets. Of which there are many: one great wonking "L" plus a small extra space next to the fridge, all of which except where the bar area is have both upper and lower cabinets.

I also need to pull the wire shelf racks off the pantry door and run them through the dishwasher to un-gunk them. Nothing like mysterious sticky gunk to make you go "eww". Maybe I’ll do that tonight. I have dishwashing detergent.

Well, I’ve occupied this little corner of Starbucks long enough. I need to get to work on the house again.



  1. Didn’t the previous tenants pay a deposit that the landlord could use to cover a “cleaning fee” so the new tenant (you) wouldn’t have to do all this work?


    1. In theory, yes. It would be nice to come into a house where everything is shiny and like-new, but this is a 20 year old place and, well, it isn’t clean until I say it’s clean anyway, even if professional cleaning staff has been at it (the place I sorta almost moved into was professionally cleaned prior to my arrival. I can assure you it was cleaner when I left it than it was when I brought the first box in).


  2. Within a week I hope it feels like you’ve been there for ages. Fingers crossed for the right sort of non-eventfullness.


  3. I distinctly remember the days of yore, but I must’ve slept thru the halcyon ones. Damn. They sound fun. Bed skirt = welcome to your new-found gayness. I accept you for who you are. We all have a little bit of gayness to us and it’s nice to see that your loud-car-overcompensation is being tempered by your bedskirt. Is it pretty? Does it have flowers on it? Lace? Does it look like a flowery, lace doily? I’m sure it matches your drapes, at least, eh? Bed skirt. Nice.


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