Stephen Thrasher, Comet Smasher

SpaceCenter Balloon Festival

Saturday, August 26, 2006 by Stephen

Ballunar Festival!

Balloon panorama

I've given up on the motorcycle because of the difficulty in getting a license. I'll try to bike to work as often as possible.


Will Buy Stuff for WiFi

Friday, August 11, 2006 by Stephen

I came to Panera specifically to get a wifi connection, a first for me. In fact, I don't remember ever carrying a laptop before. My apartment managers had a miscommunication, and I ended up in a non-refurbished unit. Not that I couldn't live with it, but I had a slightly depressed, discouraging moment when I saw warped cabinets and appliances from the 1970's in my "upgraded" unit. We sorted it out, and the outcome is that I'll be moving into another unit on Tuesday. Until then, I can't set up internet or cable or receive mail.

While my current unit overlooks the parking lot, my new unit, which I have not seen, overlooks Cow Bayou. Exciting, I know, to be so close to a piece of Bayou City.

I've been looking into the motorcycle angle a bit more. It looks like I have two options: become a Texas resident or get my motorcycle license in Massachusetts. I'm thinking I'll stay a MA resident. So far it's not clear whether I can take the Motorcycle Safety Foundation course in Texas and apply it towards my MA license. The Honda Nighthawk, Honda Rebel, and Kawasaki Ninja 250R look about right.

While walking aimlessly through the Baybrook Mall this evening, I called my dad and talked about motorcycles a little bit. He gave me the danger speech a few years ago, but today he admitted that motorcycles are really fun. He had a bike while in Korea around 1980, and he gave it up after two near misses, one involving sliding under a moving bus. He also told me today that his dad was really into motorcycles when he was about my age. Since my granddad was a mechanic, he bought WWI surplus bikes and fixed them up.

Maybe I'll get tired of not being able to carry cargo or stay dry in the rain and break down and buy a car, but for now, I've decided not too. In any case, I'll be walking and biking to work for at least the next month. I say this as my rental SUV sits outside in the Panera parking lot.


Flying the Coop

Tuesday, August 08, 2006 by Stephen

Matt interned for Draper this summer. He is the Rice University mascot. Here he is, in office, in costume, on his last day.

Man in owl costume img

Mark took the picture. I was occupied at the time, but I hear that he got plenty of stares walking up and down the halls.


I Hate Car

Monday, August 07, 2006 by Stephen

Four years ago, I bought a 1994 Mazda Protege with 45K miles for $4000 to handle my 20-mile Los Angeles commute. It worked well, and it felt good to drive. I don't see any cars like that around now here in the Houston area. I'm tempted to buy a late model used car, maybe a 2004, so I don't have mechanical problems. A brand new 2007 Honda Fit looks pretty enticing. Just thinking about the car-buying experience makes me tired.

But the problem is that I'm not staying here for long. What's the most cost-effective way to own a car for 6-8 months? Leasing has a minimum term of three years. Renting would suck away half my paycheck every month. Borrowing would be best, but who's going to loan me a car for that long? That leaves new cars and pre-owned cars on the table.

Also, does anyone know of an insurance company that gives 8-month terms? I'd probably have to pay for a whole year. Insurance would cost plenty, because I dropped my insurance two years ago when I sold my car and moved to Cambridge. Insurance companies don't like lapses.

They say that you can't get by in Houston without a car, but who has really tried? Maybe I could go the no-car route. How far do I have to go, you ask? In miles,


Work has two offices, and I usually work at the farther one. With no car, my options are motorcycle, moped, or bicycle. There are no buses in the area. Motorcycles still cost something, for gas and insurance, and they're dangerous. Also, I don't know if Texas will issue a motorcycle or moped license to a Massachusetts resident. Bicycles can take a lot of time and get you sweaty. Motorcycles and bicycles both have problems with weather and cargo. Rainsuits and delivery can solve those. The heat should end in a couple of months. Occasional rentals, taxis, or public transportation can cover trips to the airport. The park-n-ride is 1.4 miles away, and Avis is next to it. I'm going to walk to work tomorrow to try it out.

What do y'all think? I need your support to fight the status quo.


All Moved in...

Friday, August 04, 2006 by Stephen my hotel room.

Hotel room img

My boxes came today, so I packed them in my rental car and brought them to my hotel room. Internet is only $5 for my 10-day stay, so I went to Best Buy and got a wireless receiver. Here I am, on the interweb once again. Now I can hunt for a used car and check my email without feeling guilty for doing it at work. They're more strict about that kind of stuff at NASA. Seems that the rocket scientists can't help clicking on virus links if they have access to offsite email.

I put up a few more photos of my previous Houston visit.