Wilder by Far

A look at life with the Wilder family. Updated most weekends and some vacation days. You can contact me at movingnorth@gmail.com..

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

"Strange, I usually get some sign when Lilith is in town: dogs forming into packs, blood weeping down the wall." - Niles, Frasier



As you can see, in Texas we either have large hydrants or small signs.

Part of living in Alaska that I loved was the wide-open nature of things. If you wanted to open up a shop where you slowly strangled loud kittens in your front yard with piano wire in the middle of a residential neighborhood, well, fine. Your neighbors might not appreciate it, but there was little, if anything they could really do about it, except see if they could get a corner on the kitten market to drive you out of business.

Texas is the opposite. It seems as though there is a permit for every eventuality and a restriction such that most things that aren’t prohibited are mandatory. Case in point: when we bought the latest Casa Wilder I called to set up the electricity account in my name. Not only could you purchase electricity like you were picking out a brand of ketchup (catsup?) at the store, but the number of plans provided by the different providers was dizzying. One promised my teeth would be whiter if I used their electricity. One promised that their juice would make me irresistible to all females on the planet. How to choose?

Well, regardless of how I chose, I got the incredibly odd message that my power could not be activated until I paid a fee and had my home inspected by the local city. So, I moved from a place where I was free to strangle kittens at will to a place where my carpet would be inspected prior to me being allowed to use a basic utility.

Oh, and I got to pay for the privilege of having my home inspected, fifty dollars. I’m pretty sure that I would need a permit to paint the inside of my house. I’d be surprised if there isn’t a city law requiring all interior doors to be open or closed, depending upon the phase of the moon.

I also have a Homeowner’s Association. This appears to be one of the “cool” ones, where they only give you static if you decide to open a topless bar in your garage, and set to cover charge too high.

The changes don’t end there. In the locale that I now hang my cowboy hat, as I drive home, the streets are lined with well-planned businesses. The streets are tree-lined and attractive. What’s most noticeable is that there are no signs peaking up, showing what business might be where. The only signs that (apparently) are allowed by law are ones that are at ground level, approximately six feet in height.

I suppose if I knew where everything was, this method of signage would be enough. But, if I knew where everything was, then I wouldn’t need signs at all, would I?

I suppose this attempt at beautification was well intentioned, but for a relative newcomer like me, it just makes me end up missing the turn for the place that I want to go. There is a bit of help for me, though. At one location that I passed, I noticed that there was a Chase™ bank. Right across the street from another bank. Another Chase® bank. The Wells Fargo© bank that’s in the parking lot of the grocery store that has a Wells Fargo™ bank in the lobby, well, I guess they were making shrewd use of space, right? I’m only surprised that there isn’t a Wells Fargo™ in the lobby of the Starbucks® in the lobby of the Wells Fargo©. All of these would be without visible signs, so I couldn’t find a single one of them, but would be pretty sure that if I went into a cryptically indicated storefront I could get coffee and a loan.

Apparently, good city planning involves making it impossible to find things and having sixty branches of each bank per mile.

The other part of moving to a new location is: what the heck is in all of these stores? What’s an “HEB,” and do I need something that’s in there? Do they sell things I need, or is it a store filled with neck-high blades rotating at 3600 rpm? I still cannot understand why Popeye would be synonymous with fried chicken, rather than a chain of fried spinach restaurants.

I finally did get a welcome letter from the city, though. They told me I’d need a permit if I had an alarm system. Thankfully that’s only $50 per year. What wonderful service they provide!

9 Comments:

Anonymous Brian said...

Hey John. Your site caught my eye because I'm near Fairbanks and I'm from Texas! But while I thought I was using some sense in moving from Dallas to interior Alaska, you seem to have moved from Alaksa to Houston, Texas? Hmmm. Keep posting and I'll keep reading.

8:31 PM  
Blogger Shawn Kielty said...

Your post reminded me of Phoenix and Mesa -- which is a lot like that.

10:58 PM  
Blogger SusanE said...

We're in Scottsdale, AZ every year, there are no signs, AND there are no street lights or mall lights. So not only do you not know where to find the store your looking for you also can't even see that there is a mall and you just drove past it.

But it does have the advantage of letting you see stars at night. The solution is to not look for new stores at night.

3:58 AM  
Blogger Ed Rozmiarek said...

Yea, just don't ask what the "B" in HEB stands for. You don't want to know and may not want to go to the store after you do know.

9:55 AM  
Blogger ~cj said...

This weekend is the Great Alaskan Beer and Barley Wine Festival. What great entertainment we have in Alaska...

Alaska - Beer
Texas - Monster Trucks

5:33 AM  
Blogger Dame Koldfoot said...

Do you need a permit to run your furnace in the winter or is that covered under your A/C permit? Do you need a permit to drive in ice pellets, courtesy of your friendly Alaskan cold front?

8:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John,

I'm having the same withdrawl symptoms here on the East Coast. There are actually people around here determined to tell me and the dog how to live. And they won't even let us have our guns to keep the bastards at bay.

Dillon

1:17 PM  
Blogger John said...

brian,
Well, not intentionally. Really, and, back at ya. How's the dark treating you?

shawn,
Reminds me of those videos, "Planning Commissions Gone Wild!"

susane,
EXACTLY!

No stars. Still to many lights here.

ed,
I'm thinking it's not "beer" or "bratwurst" or any other good "B" thing.

Hmmm.

Bile?

~cj,
I do miss beer in Alaska . . . my friend brewed. Good stuff.

dame,
No it would be prohibited to run the furnace, except on those nights when it was mandatory. No permit. Just fines.

Thanks for sending the cold down. We had the AC on Sunday.

Dillon,
We have guns here in Texas. In our neighborhood, they still think dogs are cute, too. I snuck into a good spot.

7:27 PM  
Blogger Ed Rozmiarek said...

For the HEB name see: http://www.heb.com/aboutHEB/history.jsp

7:52 AM  

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