Friday, October 26, 2007

I'm Lovin' Texas

We're still weeks away from moving to Texas, but I'm already loving the state. I spent yesterday working out the details of moving my guns and had a simply amazing experience. Barring any legal complications with states we'll be driving through, which I'm still checking on, I should be able to transport my longarms locked inside a secure shipping container.

Handguns, on the other hand, are a bit more complicated. I have two pistols that I'll have to transfer to a dealer here so he can ship them to a dealer outside Austin, where I'll ultimately pick them up. Just a few minutes after I contacted a dealer in Texas he called back to say that not only would he do the transfer gratis, other than the normal mandated charges for paperwork, but he'd throw in a free membership for his shooting range and a couple of tickets to their monthly BBQ in December.

I don't even live there yet and I'm already getting invited to parties. That, my friends, is hospitality.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Unreal Estate

So I'm on the phone with our real estate agent, who happens to be a family friend, when the following conversation occurs:

"Does your house have any special features?"

"Oh, yeah. It's fully wired for cat 5 and coax with a central switcher in the basement."

"Anything else?"

"There's a generator room in the garage for a backup generator. It's already wired up to code and has a nice muffler system installed. We can leave the generator if the buyer wants it. I also installed some heavy duty wiring for my welding gear and the bomb shelter."


"A bomb shelter?"

"Yeah, there's a ten by fifteen bomb shelter off the basement TV room. Reinforced concrete, air vents, steel door...the whole deal."

"Er...where we watched movies? That room?"


"How do you get to the bomb shelter?"

"Through the door. It's hidden behind the shelving with all the books and DVDs."


"Okay. why do you have a bomb shelter with a hidden entrance?"

"Because somebody built it. From the junk we found inside I'd guess back in the fifties."

"Do you use it?"

"Yeah, it's where I play my guitar. I installed the wiring to power my amps. Even with the levels cranked up you can't hear it in the house."

"So you have an underground bomb shelter with a secret entrance and heavy duty wiring so you can play a guitar?"


"Well, yeah. I don't play very well."


"I think we might want to leave out the bomb shelter in the listing. If anyone seems interested in that kind of thing we'll tell them about it, but otherwise I'm going to describe it as a wine cellar."

Monday, October 22, 2007

Letters, We Get Letters

I want to thank everyone that's emailed since yesterday, and I apologize for not replying to every message individually. There was a consistent number of questions in most of them and I thought it would save time answering them all at once.

The most prominent was "Are you sick again?" Physically, not at all. Now that I'm actually taking the time to sleep, instead of zooming around for twenty hours a day, my health couldn't be better., not so much. I'm not suffering from anything pathological, but, and I hope you'll pardon my frankness, the constant stream of bullshit that issues forth from our politicians just wore me down.

I think the real breaking point was the Mitch Ford situation. The only thing I found more infuriating than his blatantly racist attitudes was the collective shrug it seemed to generate in the local media and the population as a whole. I've grown to accept a certain amount of casual racism- when you're as lily white as I am and your significant other is as black as coal you get used to it- but the in-your-face arrogance of reducing another human being to subhuman status with the epithet "nigger" is simply unforgivable. In most of this country that incident would have been a major scandal. Here, it was a blip.

That, needless to say, did not inspire a great deal of happiness in our household. After that it became increasingly clear this just wasn't a place we wanted to live anymore.

The other big question was "Why Texas?" Two of our closest friends moved there last year. Since then they've been engaging in a steady campaign of propaganda to convince us to join them and it finally took hold.

From a tax standpoint Texas looks like paradise, at least when compared to New York. There's no state income tax, the combined state and local sales taxes are equal to or lower than anywhere in New York, and local property taxes are quite a bit less in relation to the elevated real estate prices.

Secondary costs are also significantly smaller. Electricity and energy? 60% of New York's bloated rates. Housing? Significantly higher prices, but it's a market, unlike New York, where people actually want to live, producing a natural market pressure for increased values. Water and sewage? Comparable to New York's despite our much-vaunted natural water supply. Health insurance? Significantly less than New York thanks to a state government that isn't completely beholden to health care unionistas.

Ultimately, our decision came down to quality of life and in that respect the Austin area just blows away anywhere in New York except for Manhattan. The city is home to a thriving arts community, including an amazingly productive crop of filmmakers. The weather is..well..perfect. The schools, while costing significantly less than the ineffective warehouses we have in New York, actually produce students with an education.

Two other factors also weighed heavily in our decision. First, a politician in Texas that calls a black candidate a nigger has effectively ended their career. That's a nice change of pace from Oneida County. Second, fireworks are legal. If you want a handy guide to how valuable the concept of personal freedom is to a state government there is no more telling barometer than their fireworks laws.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Love It Or Leave It

Well, I finally snapped.

After months, nay, years of grousing about Central New York's abysmal condition I finally realized that it's pointless to stay here. Over the weekend I and my significant other came to the decision that it's time to cut our losses and get out of New York. Monday we'll start the process of moving to Texas, just outside Austin.

A lot of things influenced our final decision, but the most telling was the increasing dysfunction of both our local and state politics. Put simply, our political class is totally devoid of even the most rudimentary leadership ability. The consistent refusal to control tax growth, even as the area undergoes a population loss of almost biblical proportions, means the increasingly small population here will be burdened with higher and higher costs. That feedback loop, unchecked, will produce a death spiral of ever shrinking populations and ever escalating taxation.

Actually, I shouldn't say "will". It has. The death spiral is already here. After talking with some friends with a much better grasp of demographics than I have, since thier livlihoods depend on it, I think the upcoming census is going to find that the area's population loss has accelerated to around five percent a year. Worse, the ones leaving are the most capable of driving long-term growth in the economy- the young, skilled professionals, and high value workers.

If I find the time to post any more I'll probably discuss why leaving New York is so attractive (and probably the right choice for most people reading this). If I don't find the time I just want to thank everyone that appreciated my scribblings. It was fun.