Mon, Nov 22, 2004

: House Buying Adventure

Today was a long day. Again simple things turned out to be much more complicated. I started by cleaning and moving garbage and empty boxes out to the garage. Then I tried making some phone calls I’d been putting off. I needed a phone book but it took me 30 minutes on hold with Verizon to learn that I have to pay $18 for one! Forget that. The phone company makes obscene amounts of money on those yellow page ads and they expect me to pay for a book? That’s insane! I flat out refuse to do that on principle.

I’d noticed the metal medicine cabinet in the main bathroom was rusted and in poor condition, so I decided to replace it. And I figured I’d get one for my master bath as well, since there isn’t one in there and I like being able to keep my contact lens stuff hidden instead of scattered across the counter. I also had a list of stuff to get a Wal-Mart, plus I need groceries as I’m going to be making dressing for Thanksgiving dinner at my Aunt and Uncle’s on Thursday. So first I went to the big hardware store, only to discover they don’t sell medicine cabinets. Another hardware store was the same. They sell toilets and showers and bathrooms, but no medicine cabinets! So I had to trek all the way out to Lowes, which is on the other side of town. There I was successful, finding two nice white wooden cabinets that fit in nicely with the decor of my house. I also got a few other things I needed, and got some good info on drapperies (something I know little about but need).

I also stopped at a couple furniture stores. Yikes! Beds that costs $5,000! A coffee table for $800? A $4,000 entertainment center? That’s a different world than I live in. Even if I could afford it I don’t know that I’d want to pay that kind of money for such stuff. I mean, it’s not like it’s unique hand-crafted art. I did find a coffee table I like for $250 but I hate that I have to pay $50 for delivery. They’re just milking it. Delivery ought to be free or at least really cheap. It’s not like I live far away. How much could it cost them to have a full-time guy driving a truck around dropping stuff off? Oh well, maybe I’ll wait until I need never items. I could rent a U-Haul for $20/day and do several pickups on the same day.

Then it was off to Wal-Mart, where I again overspent. But stuff there is so cheap it’s like you have to buy it! For example, I wanted to buy a knife block or a magnetic strip thing for my knives. I couldn’t find either of those, but instead found a knife set that came with a wooden block. The scary thing is that the knife set came with 45 pieces including twelve steak knives, a half-dozen other knives, plus kitchen utensils and more… all for less than ten bucks! I’d been prepared to pay $10 for a knife block alone, but here I got it plus a ton of knives. Crazy. I did get a lot of useful stuff, though, like a clock for the living room, a cabinet mount electric can opener, a tablecloth, and more. In the end, it was almost seven o’clock I was too tired to bother with the groceries. I’ll have to do that tomorrow.

After dinner I put together a CD cabinet I’d bought long ago but never assembled and put my CDs in it. Then I tackled the medicine cabinets, getting them installed in each bathroom. Finally things are starting to look more organized. Tomorrow I need to do more trash cleanup (there are still bags and piles of packaging lying everywhere, then vacuum and clean so the house will be ready for guests on Wednesday. It’s looking better and better, though I’m still missing some important things like drapes, molding, slipcovers for the sofa and loveseat, and other details.

Topic: [/house purchase]

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Sun, Nov 21, 2004

: House Buying Adventure

Mostly did cleanup and unpacking today, and took it easy, watching soccer on TV. I wrote up a lot of the recent House Buy Adventures, too, which took about half my day as I hadn’t written anything in my log in over a week!

Topic: [/house purchase]

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Sat, Nov 20, 2004

: Scooby Doo Two

Pointless sequel. More misadventures of the Scooby gang. I didn’t like the cartoon much and the movies are even worse. In cartoon from the overacting and stereotypes are bearable, but in live action it’s astonishingly bad. I guess it’s a form of humor, but a low one. The cast is good for what they’ve got, but there isn’t much to work with scriptwise. Mostly dull with only the occasional smile. Appropriate if you’re in the mood for something mindless (like I was).

Topic: [/movie]

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: House Buying Adventure

Today I installed the two light fixtures I bought, and I put in a shelf in the laundry room. The purpose of the shelf is more to keep the cats from going behind the washer and dryer than needing a shelf, but it’s actually a very handy and convenient place for a shelf (it keeps laundry supplies very handy). The light fixtures were an adventure, being that they are nine and eleven feet in the air. But they work and look great. In the kitchen I removed the horrible dangling ugly chandelier thing that had way too much chain and hung too low and now we’ve got a clean ceiling fixture that doesn’t dominate the room. The fixtures I got have frosted glass so you can actually look at them without seeing the bulbs, which is nice. They put out a nice white glow. I’d like to get a few more for some other rooms but those rooms aren’t wired for overhead lights. I dread thinking what an electrician would charge to install those, but I guess I’ll have to check. With my poor eyes, I need lots of bright light. I don’t like dim lamps linked to switched outlets; I much prefer overhead lights.

Topic: [/house purchase]

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Fri, Nov 19, 2004

: National Treasure

The conspiracy and clue-based premise of this movie is an obvious rip-off of the horrible Dan Brown code books, so I didn’t expect much. I got what I expected. It’s a routine adventure, with flimsy characters and plot, a rapid pace that leaves you confused and mindless, and a red herring ending that’s not especially satisfying. The ride’s not horrible, however. It’s mildly interesting, and there are moments of humor and a few good lines that make it enjoyable. I wasn’t overly impressed or depressed; it’s routine. I did like the luminous Diane Kruger as the love interest: her spicy character and beauty made the adventure more intriguing, though it wasn’t enough to overcome the movie’s inherent flaws. Still, it’s mildly enjoyable, though certainly don’t go into this expecting any kind of intelligence.

Topic: [/movie]

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: The Incredibles

This was very different from what I expected. I liked it a lot, though I wasn’t sure until about half-way through. From the promos I was expecting a sort of parody of superheroes. It appeared to be about hapless former superheroes who were now overweight and out of shape or something. But to my surprise these superheroes were really super. What’s happened is that lawsuits have made superheroes illegal, so Mr. Incredible and his superfamily have retired to normal mundane jobs and pine for the days when they used to save the world on a regular basis. They are forced to hide their superpowers and pretend to be regular folk, and that’s where the humor comes in. Eventually, of course, the entire family must combine their powers to stop a supervillain. The plot’s a little more routine than most Pixar films, but there is still heart in the story. The humor’s dry and understated, rarely the laugh-out-loud variety, but there’s plenty to smile about. Some of the lines are really funny but delivered so quickly and effortlessly that you don’t realize it until moments later. Overall, I was very impressed. Pixar’s done it again. While it’s a very different movie from previous outings, it’s another classic. Definitely one of the best of the year.

Topic: [/movie]

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: House Buying Adventure

Today was a very good day. I got up early and finished work on my magazine. That felt good to get that done. There’ll be more to do, but that was the primary deadline. About eleven a.m. I relaxed for the first time in a while, realizing that I was finally settling in. Getting some work done helped secure that feeling. I decided I deserved a break and would go see a movie for the first time in nearly two months. For someone who normally sees two or three matinees a week, it feel like a year since I’d been in a theatre. Since this theatre was in a different part of town from where I’ve been, I took a different route there, which proved interesting. It helped me figure out an even shorter route for the future. I saw National Treasure and then came back and watched The Incredibles later. I came home for dinner, and it was nice to relax. I put together the cabinet for my bedroom, unpacked a few things, and assembled a small lamp I’d bought for the guest room. The cats are more relaxed as well. I think they’re starting to think of this as home as well.

Topic: [/personal]

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Thu, Nov 18, 2004

: House Buying Adventure

The last couple of days have been a blur. I think I slept a lot. I didn’t get much work done. I had some business stuff I needed to do and only partially accomplished it. Tomorrow I’ll have to really crank down. But I’ve been physically tired. I get up early (between seven and eight), then take a nap around eleven, then I take another nap in the afternoon, and by ten o’clock at night I’m falling asleep. The house is a bit depressing. Everywhere I look I see projects to be done. Worse, I keep thinking of new ones to do. It seems endless and is overwhelming. I haven’t started unpacking yet. I’m still shopping for stuff, that also seems endless and the thrill of spending money is starting to grate on me. There are just so many little things I need. For instance, you really need trash containers for every room of the house. In my old house, that meant three. Here that means about eight. I need things for the kitchen. I need to put up towel racks in the main bathroom. It’s endless. Today I went to Lowes and bought a new digital cell phone. It’s a Tracfone, the pay-in-advance plan I’m already on. My old one’s an analog phone and doesn’t include voice mail, something I need. I also bought a small cabinet for my bedroom to use as a nightstand/bookcase, and some ceiling light fixtures to replaces ugly ones in the house.

I went by the post office today and showed them the deed to my house (that served as the second piece of identity they wanted) and got my mail. Nothing much has forwarded yet, but I expect that will start soon. I also went to a grocery store and picked up some much needed items. I got a frozen turkey for 19 cents a pound as well: even though I’ll be at my Aunt’s for Thanksgiving, at that price my own turkey’s a must.

Topic: [/house purchase]

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Wed, Nov 17, 2004

: House Buying Adventure

Today I discovered that my programmable thermostat is incompatible with the heating system of this house. I thought I was so clever removing it from the old place and hooking back up the original mercury switch, but after all that it’s useless here. I had to go buy a new one. I found an Ace hardware one for $45 that appears to work, though I rarely hear the heater kick in. Usually when I check the temperature’s not low enough for the heater to turn on, so it’s working correctly.

Topic: [/house purchase]

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Tue, Nov 16, 2004

: House Buying Adventure

I woke up today with a simple task. One of my cats, Mayhem, loves to chew wires, so I’ve always got to think of him when wiring anything. In fact, the long Ethernet cable I had going down the hallway from my office is chewed up in a number of places. The cats had been locked in the laundry room since we arrived and I didn’t want to let them out until things had settled a bit and until I had all wires hidden. That meant I needed to wire Ethernet from my office to the living room before I could release them. I’d already plotted my route: instead of going under the house I’d simply lay a wire outside. There were already phone and cable wires there, so one more made little difference. That meant two holes: one out of the office and one in in the living room. Simple. I just needed some cover plates and Ethernet wire. I figured I’d have it done by noon. Silly me. I went to Radio Shack first thing and bought the bare wire, crimper, RJ-45 ends, and cover plates. Then I set about making a simple test Ethernet wire. Stupidly, I followed the directions on the crimper tool. I don’t know what kind of wire that was for but it was definitely not for Ethernet. My first several attempts failed. The cable didn’t work. Then I discovered I’d misread the box on the RJ-45 ends. It read “8-wire connector” and there weren’t eight connectors in the box, only five. So my two boxes were only ten, not sixteen. Suddenly I was down to just a few left and I still hadn’t created a cable that worked. I went on the Web and found a site that explained, with colorful diagrams, how to make an Ethernet cable. It’s not really that hard, but it’s tricky. The color sequence of the wires is critical, and you must get the wires to reach all the way to the end of the RJ-45 piece before you crimp. I discovered the key was cutting the wires to the same length after you had them unwound. You see, they are wound together in pairs and when you unravel them, they have different lengths. When you shove the wires into an end the longest wire might reach the end but some are shorter and don’t. By clipping them all to the same length you ensure that all the wires can reach the end. I created a few that had just one wire that didn’t each the far end of the plastic clip and the cable didn’t work. Once I figured that out, I could make a successful cable, but meanwhile I’d used all my clips testing and needed to go buy more! I decided to try drilling a hole in the wall to make sure I wouldn’t have trouble there. Ah, another problem. My drill bit wasn’t long enough! It went through the drywall but couldn’t reach the outside of the house. So off I went to buy a longer drill bit, and more clips. The bottom line: this two hour project took the entire day. The cover plate I’d bought need a cutout in the wall so I had to use my jigsaw to cut an opening in the wall so the plate would fit. Then I had to figure out how to get wire through the holes I’d drilled. It sounds easy, but isn’t. A house wall is really two walls, and outer and an inner, with open space filled with insulation in between. Getting a cable to pass through both holes is tricky. I finally unbent a metal clothes hanger and taped the Ethernet cable to the end and used the stiff hanger wire to poke through until I got it through both holes. This had to be done twice, of course, once in the living room and once in the office. I’d originally planned to run Ethernet to my bedroom as well, but this was taking so long I decided to postpone that for another day. In the end, I got everything wired and it worked. The Tivos, Playstation 2, and my laptop all have wired Internet in the living room, which is sweet indeed. Now there’s no cable traipsing through the hallway and the cats are free to explore the new house. The cats had thoroughly explored the laundry room and were really wanting out. The laundry room door has a vent that the cats could see through and watch legs passing by and see glimpses of the exciting new world but they couldn’t go out there. Now, finally, I flung the door open and they began to explore. It was hilarious watching them. I’d closed the doors to all the bedrooms and bathroom, so there was just the open dining room, kitchen, living room, and hallway to see. Immediately the cats began running about smelling everything. They quickly found the limits of the house (there was no way outside), but there was lots of explore inside. It was an hour or so before they settled down and came to purr at my feet. I was relaxing and watching some TV for what seemed like the first time in months but was really a couple weeks. Fortunately Tivo had recorded everything so I only missed last weekend’s shows. I was worried how the cats would settle in but as I watched TV, Mayhem came and hopped in my lap, purring happily. Mischief was not quite as secure, but seemed very happy to see me. He’d go explore then come back and rub against my legs and enjoy a pat on the head before going off again. When a truck rumbled by or a strange sound happened, he’d bolt for the safety of the laundry room. That was excellent: I wanted them to see that room as a secure refuge, not a prison. Cats need a den.

Topic: [/house purchase]

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Mon, Nov 15, 2004

: House Buying Adventure

Now it was time for the dreaded unpacking stage. At home, while packing, I’d fantasized about this stage. I pictured the joy of removing belongings from boxes and finding the perfect place to put the item in my new house with all it’s storage and space. The reality was far short of that. For one, I was exhausted. A month of non-stop stress and hassle and heavy lifting followed by a grueling and frantic trek and unloading had left little joy in the arrival. I just wanted to sleep. But there was still tons to be done. First on the agenda was telephone. I hadn’t bothered to have a land line installed and planned to use my Internet phone from Vonage instead. But hooking it up proved to be a challenge. It’s not that it’s complicated — far from it — but I had to find the correct power brick for the Vonage box. Of course all my computer cables were in one huge box, a massive tangle that would make the most fiercesome Christmas light tangle look organized. It took me over an hour to sort through and find the right adapters and get my Internet phone line going. Minutes after I did it, the phone rang — it was the DirecTV guy calling to say he’d be here in an hour. So then I had to rush and get my entertainment center assembled so he’d have a TV to test. Fortunately, he had some drilling and wiring to do, hooking up a satellite dish and wiring cable to various rooms. By the time he got there and did that, I had hooked up my AV system, surround sound speakers, my Tivos, DVD player, and more. Not wanting the nightmare of wires behind the entertainment center I’ve had in the past, this time I got smart and wired everything through a closed cabinet inside the center. I cut a hole in the back for the wires and kept the surge protectors and UPS in there. Some extra lengths of wire hang out of the back, but it’s a lot cleaner than before. I even labeled the wires so I can see what cable belongs to what device. After the satellite guy left I brought out a long Ethernet cable which I ran down the hallway from the office to the living room and hooked it up to the Tivos. Then I redid Guided Setup on the Tivos to alert them to the new zip code and cable system. This is much faster with an Internet connection than a phone line so I wanted to do it that way. By evening, the Tivos had processed all the new guide info and were recording. My mom left that afternoon, but we’d gotten a lot done, though there was still tons to be done.

Topic: [/house purchase]

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Sun, Nov 14, 2004

: House Buying Adventure

I slept a good ten hours, Joel twelve. When I told him he’d had twelve hours and it was time to get up, he groaned that he only needed another twelve to be caught up. It took most of Sunday to get the truck unloaded. I was nervous for a while because it seemed interminable, but eventually we got to the back wall of my mom’s stuff and it all went into my garage (easy). I also got a bit frustrated, because some of my stuff got damaged in transit. We lost another bookcase (Joel had piled too much heavy stuff on a fixed shelf), and a lot of my boxes were put in upside down and sideways, whatever would fit, and that destroyed the boxes and sometimes damaged the contents. I’m the kind of person that throws out a piece of paper that gets a corner bent, so this was depressing for me. I supposed I should have packed better (anticipated boxes being stored sideways), or done the truck packing myself (though it would have taken me longer), but in the end, it really isn’t such a bad thing, just frustrating since we were short on space and I did have to abandon a few things in California I could have brought instead. I’d already been second-guessing on many items: is it worth bringing crappy old furniture I’d paid $100 when I could buy a new piece for less money up here? We’re talking cheap fabricated stuff here, not hardwood. Just simple bookcases and shelving. If I’d had more time to think and do the math, I probably would have done that, but with so little time to plan, I just hauled everything north, which might not have been the smartest thing. So when I saw that stuff breaking in transit it was annoying, to say the least. But I’ll live.

At about 12:45 I happened to hook up the TV in my bedroom. I’d brought in a cart for it to rest on and placed it there, then hooked up cable just to confirm everything worked. Why not? I was tuning in a channels when suddenly there was a soccer game on. I stared at the screen in disbelief. It was the 2004 MLS Cup final! Oh my Lord I had completely forgotten! I couldn’t believe it. How could I have forgotten the biggest game of the year? Of course my team wasn’t in it, and I did have a lot going on this weekend, but I did remember telling Joel that we had to have Tivos hooked up noon Sunday so I wouldn’t miss the game. And then I’d completely forgotten. Of course now I had deadlines (Joel’s flight) so there was no time to watch the game now: I needed to record it somehow. Hey, how about ancient technology known as a VCR? I found one in a box, hooked it up, and found a video cassette. I rewound the tape and got it recording, then went out to help Joel unload the truck. The game was 30 minutes in and already there were like three goals scored. Insanity. I still couldn’t believe I’d missed it. At one time I’d seriously considered trying to fly to L.A. for the game. If the Quakes had been in it I’d probably have tried that. But it was a good thing that didn’t happen because there was no way we’d have gotten the truck unloaded Saturday.

When the truck was finally empty we showered and dressed and went out for lunch at Izzy’s pizza. It had sounded good but wasn’t what I (or my mom) expected. It’s an all-you-can-eat pizza bar, basically. For $7.95 you get unlimited salad bar and pizza, plus the dessert bar (soft ice cream and treats). It was decent, but not exactly Sunday dinner material. My mother wasn’t too impressed, but I liked the value. Weekdays you can get the same thing for lunch for just $5.95, a real steal if you’re starving. Afterward we took the U-Haul over to Wal-Mart where I bought a six-foot ladder (something needed in a place with 12-foot ceilings and light bulbs to change). I knew a ladder wouldn’t fit in my car so I wanted to take advantage of the truck. Then we filled it with gas, returned it to the U-Haul place (right nearby), and were off to the airport. This time traffic was non-existent and we made it in a little over an hour, not bad at all. We dropped Joel off and my mom and I returned home.

Topic: [/house purchase]

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Fri, Nov 12, 2004

: House Buying Adventure

I was up before seven, packing. I emptied the fridge and packed stuff I wanted to keep in the chest freezer, figuring it would act as a nice cooler. I woke Joel up around eight fifteen and we started ripping apart my AV system and computer setup. There was no time for finese: everything just went into large boxes. I ripped out the cable modem since that needed to be returned today. I got a phone call from someone interested in the fridge, so Joel and I heaved it onto the porch. Then we went to Dave’s for breakfast, where he treated us with fresh crepes. He’s been into those since returning from a visit to France last summer. I had a package of frozen Oregon Marionberries (the best berry in the world) which I’d partially thawed and brought with me. We nuked them and they were delicious on the crepes.

Dave had planned to help us during the day but unfortunately there was an emergency with a client at work and he could only help until one o’clock. We made decent progress. Joel unloaded the truck and we began bringin in my furniture (most bookcases), and figuring out how to transport stuff. TV’s and computer monitors we placed face down onto chairs and sofas, surrounding them with pillows and blankets. Then we were able to pile other stuff on top and fill in the spaces with boxes. Dave took off about 12:30 to get ready for his client meeting, so then it was just Joel and I. I’d hoped to be on the road by mid-afternoon, but that was obviously not going to happen. By three o’clock I’d given up any thoughts of packing trash into bags: I just had to leave junk where it was. There just wasn’t any time. At about four we had the truck loaded, but again faced the same dilemma we’d had in Fresno: we still had my storage locker to come but the truck couldn’t be packed too efficiently without those ingredients. So once again we were faced with a pack, then unpack, then repack situation. We ran to the cable company to return the cable modem and close my account, then we stopped for some sodas as we needed refreshment. Then it was off to the storage locker. That is when the going got hard. My 5 x 10 storage locker was packaged to the ceiling with boxes, most of them heavy. After an hour of hauling boxes out to the truck it looked like I hadn’t started emptying the locker yet. I kept urging Joel to pack stuff efficiently as there were tons of boxes to come. We hadn’t even gotten to my books yet! We kept working. I was getting physically weak. A banker box full of books that was heavy was now nearly impossible to lift. A hand truck loaded with five boxes of books was barely managable, and I had trouble getting it up the ramp. I had to take a running start and sometimes I ran out of juice half-way up (or more crushingly, inches from the top) and would roll back down. Once I misjudged the run-up and crashed into base of the ramp: the hand truck just stopped dead, the handle digging hard into my mid-section. After that, I didn’t use the ramp any more. It was safer to park and lift the boxes one by one into the truck and let Joel store them. During this process I was getting depressed for it really seemed like we wouldn’t make it. I was worried because I couldn’t tell if we’d be able to fit everything, and because we were so far behind schedule. Then there was our first casualty: one of my bookcases was busted. We removed it, since there was no point in taking trash to Oregon. A glimmer of hope dawned when I finally saw the back of the storage unit, then reached the final row of boxes. We were running out of space in the truck but had reserved some room for some of the awkward furniture pieces we’d removed to make room for boxes (such as my gas barbeque). Finally, it was done. At about seven-thirty, we got on the road (after a quick stop for more caffeine).

Unfortunately, our exit proved short-lived. I’d been debating the best approach to take going home. Originally I’d figured we’d be heading north through the Bay area during rush hour (3-7) and traffic would be a nightmare, so I’d thought that maybe going south to Watsonville and over to I-5 near Los Banos would be the longer but faster approach. When we didn’t get on the road until so late, however, it seemed fastest to go through the Bay Area. But just before leaving Scotts Valley traffic on Highway 17 was stopped dead. Obviously there’d been an accident in the mountains. It had to be recent, too, since the signboard hadn’t indicated anything. That would be a least an hour delay, perhaps more. Many people were turning back and I made the decision to take the Los Banos route. I was driving my car, Joel in the U-Haul. He followed me as we took the exit, looped around, and headed south. Going was slow in the truck, but we plowed ahead. In the mountains of the Pacheco Pass I lost Joel for a while. He was going so slow he kept dropping further and further behind. Finally I pulled over and waited and he eventually showed up. Going downhill wasn’t a problem at all and he actually passed me! Shortly after that he put on his blinker indicating he wanted to exit. We got off at a truck stop in what I learned was Santa Nella, about a mile from the I-5 junction. I thought he wanted to eat or something, or perhaps he needed gas. But no, it was a truck problem. A red light reading “brake pressure” had lit up and was buzzing. I called U-Haul’s 800 number on my cell and got through and explained the situation. I had to do it twice, since the first guy didn’t put me on hold correctly or something, and someone else came on and began asking me all the stuff the first guy had already done! Eventually, though, the story got explained, I figured out where we were (I had to ask someone at the truck store), and U-Haul said they’d send out a mechanic to check on the truck. Someone would call in 30 minutes to let us know the schedule. Joel and I decided we’d eat at the truck stop. I’d originally thought of stopping at Anderson’s, the famous split pea soup place, which I knew was on nearby I-5. When Joel went to park the truck, however, the red light was off. About ten minutes later U-Haul called to say a technician would be out within 90 minutes. But when I mentioned that the light was now off, the U-Haul guy retracted his offer and said he wouldn’t send anyone out. “But there could be a serious problem,” I said. “Brakes are not something to mess with.” He countered that the light was off so there was no problem. But why did the light go on? Shouldn’t it be checked out to be safe? What if the light came back on a few miles down the highway? “Then call us back,” he said. So the bottom line is we’d be back in this mess again, starting from scratch, down the road a bit. Nice.

After a truck stop dinner — large volumes of mediocre food at cheap prices — we decided to take a little nap before getting back on the road. We slept for an hour, a much needed break, then got started again. It was about midnight and we were just reaching I-5! We still had an hour or so to get up near Tracy and be leaving the Bay area. Depressing. Then the rain came. It poured, an almost blinding sheet of water, and traffic, which was surprisingly heavy for that time of night, slowed. The conditions were horrible for mechanical problems and I prayed the truck would be okay. The pitch dark was also making me sleepy and I struggled a bit to keep away. My cats, which were in separate carriers in the back seat, had finally stopped meowing to be let out and were sleeping. We drove on and on and on. About one-thirty we passed through Sacramento. I’d forgotten that I-5 went over that way as usually I come over via Vacaville and by-pass the California capital. That was depressing because we still were so near the Bay area. A sign revealed we were still two hours from Redding. In the past I’ve left San Jose and gotten to Redding in four hours, so by now we should be in Redding. Of course the truck is slower than my car but even with that we should be closer than two hours. Perhaps my detour south had been a mistake? I was also falling asleep and knew I had to stop soon. Plans of driving all night seemed impossible now. It was two in the morning when we stopped north of Sacramento. We found a gas station that was closed but well-lit and a couple semis parked on the roadside. We parked and slept for a couple hours. It was good but I was still depressed at the distance left. It was like we had just started. Then I began doing the calculations. If Redding was two hours away, we’d be there by six. Redding is like three hours from Medford, so that would be nine a.m. Now obviously the truck was going to be slow going over the mountain, but maybe we’d be in Medford by ten. I told this Joel and suggested we plan for Medford for breakfast. Perhaps things weren’t so bad off. We dawn arriving we both woke up more, the glorious sun perking us up. The day was gorgeous, a stunning sunrise of purple and pink and orange. We drove on and on. Redding passed, then Weed, Yreka, and finally Ashland and Medford. It was ten-thirty. We had breakfast at Elmo’s. I had the eggs Benedict and Joel the Belgian waffle. Delicious. After getting gas (a length process with a car and a huge truck to fill), we were on the road again. Doing the math, I figured we’d be arriving at Lafayette about four o’clock. The walkie talkies I’d brought had proved useless (the truck was too loud to hear them even on max volume and there was frequent interference), so we communicated with cell phones instead. Even that proved only occasionally successful as once I called Joel several times and he didn’t answer, only later telling me he never heard the phone ring!

During the long drive that afternoon I had a couple interesting experiences with cops. The shoulder strap for my seat belt was cutting into my neck with the shirt I wore, so I’d slipped it under my arm. A cop was passing me on the left (I was only going 50) and suddenly he slowed down and began motioning to me. For a moment I was nervous, wondering what he wanted, then I saw him snapping his shoulder strap against his chest. I pulled mine back up and he waved and went on. It was good thing I was wearing my seat belt or it would have been a fine. But I did think it odd that the shoulder strap was so significant. But at least he didn’t pull me over. Later, though, I did get pulled over. I was sleepy and I kept zoning out. I don’t know if I actually fell asleep, but I would sort of tune out and then pay attention when I hit the bumps along the side of the road. The endless driving was just so boring and I had to go slow to not outpass the truck. In this instance, I was following Joel (that was easier than trying to lead, since he defined the pace). I was a mile or so behind but not worried, since I could catch up easily if needed. All I remember was suddenly seeing the rear of a cop car poking onto the highway (he had pulled someone over) and I swerved to avoid it. I overdid it a bit, fishtailing around a bit, and I worried the cop would think I was a drunk or something. Sure enough, seconds later he was there, lights flashing, pulling me over. He was a bit upset, claiming I could have killed him. I explained that I’d just over-reacted. I hadn’t seen his car until the last second and thought it was in my lane only later realizing it wasn’t, just on the side of the road. He told me I’d drifted on to the shoulder and that’s why his car was in my way. I’m surprised I didn’t appear drunk or something, with my lack of sleep, but apparently my answers satisfied the officer. After he ran my license he let me go without any penalty (no damage had been done and I suppose technically I hadn’t broken any laws). I was wide awake after that, though.

When we reached Salem, there was another dilemma: which way to Lafayette. There’s no direct road there, but you can get off at southern Salem and go west and north, or go north of Salem and go west and south. Though the latter appeared farther, I’d done it before and it was what Phil had recommended, but now I wasn’t so sure. In the end, we decided to go with the route I knew. I didn’t know what kinds of road or hills we’d find the other direction, and it was foggy with low visibility and we were making good time on I-5. We arrived in Lafayette at 4:30 p.m. My mom was already there (I’d given her a key) and was glad to see us. I could hardly believe we’d arrived in one piece with the truck intact. For the past twenty-four hours I’d doubted we’d arrive at all! We were still way behind schedule, as I’d hoped to have the truck unloaded on Saturday, but it was almost evening and we’d just arrived. We decided to go ahead and get started unloading, moving stuff into the garage for now, then we’d clean up and go to Ruby Tuesday for a nice dinner. That worked well and went until seven and managed to get a good quarter of the truck unloaded and I got some stuff settled into the house as well. I hauled boxes marked “kitchen” inside and my mom began unpacking them, putting stuff into cupboards where I’ll never find them again. A hot shower was heavenly and dinner was excellent. Then it was time to crash.

Topic: [/house purchase]

Link

Thu, Nov 11, 2004

: House Buying Adventure

I was up at the crack of dawn, but it didn’t help. There was still way too much to do. There was tons of trash that needed to be put into bags, I still hadn’t packed up my computers or AV system, and I still had stuff to pack. My plan was to get most of that done in the morning, but unfortunately I ran out of time. I did some packing, then had to go to the hardware store for supplies like rope and dust masks and gloves. I went to the post office intending to close my PO box only to discover that the post office was closed! Apparently today was a holiday of some kind. That had not been on my calendar. I then had to stop at the printshop to help with a problem there, and that made me late for picking up Dave. We were slow getting to Oakland to pick up my cousin Joel and didn’t arrive until about 1:30 p.m. (I’d wanted to be there before one). We stopped in Pleasanton for a quick lunch that wasn’t quick and it was two-thirty before we were on I-5. Then we had a “discussion.” I was for staying on I-5 until we got to Los Banos and taking 152 over to 99, but Dave was looking at the map and seemed to think that would be much longer. He favored taking little 133 over to Modesto and catching 99 there. We finally followed his plan, though the mileage numbers he was quoting didn’t add up to me. We seemed to travel at a glacier pace though we actually made okay time. There was rain occasionally, but as I hoped, it cleared up as we neared Fresno. I’d wanted to be at the U-Haul place by three, but we didn’t arrive until twenty after five! The placed closed at 5:30, so we just made it. It was six o’clock or so as we made our way to the storage locker, and it was dark. I hadn’t counted on that. Daylight Savings Time strikes again! Of course the storage locker wasn’t lit, so we basically had to load in the dark. Brilliant. Or rather, not. I parked my car with the headlights pointing at the garage and we turned on the dome lights inside the truck. It probably was better, in a way, since we couldn’t see all the dust and dirt on the stored stuff. We sorted stuff a little, moving out some of the heavier stuff and finding boxes we could pack in the space above the cab (you don’t want heavy stuff there). We packed it in thoroughly and roped it in to help hold it, then brought up large furniture like the couch and loveseat to help hold it in. The next problem was that obviously there wasn’t enough stuff to fill the entire 26’ truck, so we were concerned about stuff sliding around in the half-empty truck. But of course we needed stuff packed efficiently because I had a ton of stuff at my place to come. That also was a problem because it was impossible to pack efficiently with only a third of the ingredients on hand. We finally just threw stuff on the truck, positioned and roped it not to move, and closed up shop. We reluctantly concluded that we’d simply have to unpack the bulk of the load the next day: there was no other way to do it.

Next we went to meet Dave’s dad for dinner, but it was eight-thirty and he’d already eaten and was ready for bed. So we all went over to Tahoe Joe’s and feasted on delicious steaks and shrimp appetizers, with a mountain of creamy cheesecake for dessert. After that it was a long drive home. We had to fill up the U-Haul with gas first, and I can’t remember what time we actually left Fresno, but it was probably approaching eleven. By the time we parked the truck at the printshop (they have a bigger parking lot than my driveway) and dropped Dave at home, it was two a.m. before we got to bed.

Topic: [/house purchase]

Link

Wed, Nov 10, 2004

: House Buying Adventure

Glady and my mom went back home today. They were a great help. They put liners on all my shelves and cleaned the blinds, bathrooms, and more. The house was in surprisingly decent shape but it did need cleaning. A lot of the blinds need replacing but since I don’t think I want ugly blinds long term, I won’t bother doing that yet.

I had to go to the post office to get my box. Unfortunately, no one told me I needed two forms of ID. A driver’s license is enough ID to get me on a plane but not enough to open a PO box! Fortunately, the gal relented and went ahead and granted me a box with the promise that I’d return next week with a second form of ID. So now I know my new mailing address and can start informing people of that.

My flight home was scheduled for 6:55 p.m. so I’d planned to leave at four o’clock. That was three hours, but I wasn’t sure how long it took to get to the airport and I had to return the rental car. It seemed like plenty of time so I was a little lax leaving and didn’t get on the road until 4:15. Then I realized I’d miscalculated two other things. First, by the time I got to Portland area, it was basically five o’clock rush hour. Traffic was at a standstill. It was six o’clock before I got to the airport area. Then I remembered I was supposed to fill the rental with gas before returning it! I couldn’t remember the penalty if I didn’t, but since they’d offered me a “cheaper” option of buying a full tank for $36, I figured the penalty must cost more than that. Unfortunately, there were no gas stations near the airport. I ended up having to drive about fifteen minutes away to find one. By the time I got back, it was almost six thirty and catching my flight was going to be tough! Fortunately the rental return was a breeze. I pulled into a lane, the gal took my key, inspected the car and approved that no damage had been done, and I was off to the Southwest counter with my luggage. There was a minimal wait in line there but I’d already seen on the monitor that my flight was delayed. Sure enough, when gave me my boarding pass she informed me the plane would leave at 7:20 p.m. So suddenly I had plenty of time. It turned out I had even more time than that, because we didn’t leave until eight o’clock! It was a routine flight, except for the girl crying in the seat behind me during the decent. She apparently was suffering from some sort of sinus pressure or something due to the plane descending. It was painful and she was crying and moaning. It really unnerved a lot of people. The flight crew did nothing, of course. Just like that time I got sick on a flight. Southwest sucks. I really don’t like them as an airline. I thought the girl was a child but when we got off I was surprised to see she was a college-aged woman! We landed, I got my checked bag, grabbed a shuttle (perfect timing), found my car, paid for parking (since I was there for three days and five hours, I got socked for a full extra day, the lamers), and drove home. I was keyed up and needed to unwind, so I watched some TV and ate a late dinner. I went to bed about midnight, ready for an early morning. I was getting nervous because there was a ton to do and this was crunch time.

Topic: [/house purchase]

Link

Tue, Nov 09, 2004

: House Buying Adventure

Today the plumber arrived first thing. He was supposed to be here at 8:30 but he was at least fifteen minutes early. That was fine, though, as I was ready. He had a number of tasks to do: install a new sink, faucets, garbage disposal, and run a water line for the fridge. I figured water line would be the most complicated and thought the other stuff was so routine it would happen quickly, but it took a surprising amount of time. I didn’t watch everything he did, but he was busy under the sink area, putting in a new valve or something, as I think he had to repipe a few things to get everything to flow correctly. Then came the bad news. The first was a surprise. After the garbage disposal was installed he went to plug it in and realized there was no outlet under the sink. Apparently that’s normally standard but not in my house. For now I can run it with an extension cord (not a big deal as you don’t use the disposal often) but odd that no one noticed that until this late in the game (it was something I’d wondered about but hadn’t checked). Eventually I can have an electrician install a switched outlet but I’ll wait until I know what else I need an electrician to do. To continue the bad news, the plumber revealed that my water lines are “polybutelene” (?) and will eventually need to be replaced as they begin leaking after about fifteen years or so. That will cost three grand at some point in the future, but it’s not an immediate worry. That sounded sort of familiar — I think the home inspector might have mentioned something about it. But a more immediate bummer was that after connecting the dishwasher we discovered it didn’t work. Water wouldn’t pump inside it even though everything was connected. So now a new dishwasher is in the cards.

At about eleven Uncle Phil showed up. He’d actually arrived before my mom and her friends with the beds. They were in a pickup loaded with mattresses and couldn’t drive more than thirty-five or so. The beds arrived about eleven-thirty and we quickly hauled them inside. There was a double for my room and two twins for the guest room. Excellent! Now my mom and her friend Glady will have a place to stay tonight. I took everyone out for lunch at Ruby Tuesday (I had the Triple Play: ribs, shrimp, and chicken strips). It was delicious. Afterward Bob and his wife went home with the truck, Phil went off to work, and my mom and Glady and I went to home to clean. At least they cleaned. I busied myself putting closet doors back (someone had removed them from the tracks and never put them back), assembling beds, and putting outlet covers on all over the house (whoever had painted had removed them and only put half back).

Topic: [/house purchase]

Link

Mon, Nov 08, 2004

: House Buying Adventure

Wow, what a day! I slept really well (about nine hours). Yes I was tired, but it was also nice and quiet here in the tiny town of Lafayette. At nine I left to go on several errands. First I visited the local plumber, where I’d made arrangements for them to install the kitchen sink. The place was a mere ten minutes from my house. I picked out a stainless steel sink, faucet set, and garage disposal and confirmed the Tuesday morning appointment. Then I went to Sears and bought the stuff needed to install the dryer. I stopped at a supermarket and picked up a few things (mainly some drinking water), then took some fast food lunch home. At about noon the Sears guys showed up. One of them was a real joker, asking me if I was ready for my new dishwasher, laughing at the confused look on my face. He had no idea I was expecting just such a screw up and it wasn’t funny at all! The installers were amazingly efficient, unpacking and lugging in the huge fridge (it just fit in the space provided) and the washer and dryer. (To my shock, they carried in the latter two in a single trip!) They were gone in less than an hour, hooking up everything and testing it to make sure it worked. Well, they didn’t do a load of wash or anything, but at least everything was hooked up. I’ve never owned a washer or dryer, so that’s kind of exciting. I feel like an adult!

After Sears left, I had a window of time, I went off to a lock shop I’d spotted. I needed a dead bolt for the front door (it had a hole but no lock) and I wanted all my locks keyed to the same key. Having the locksmith come to my place was an option, but it quickly got expensive when all the locks I needed where modified. In the end I decided to go with better locks and all new hardware. The total cost would be about the same, but I’d get better quality material. I bought two dead bolts and three locking door handles. Then it was off to Wal-Mart to pick up some household items. It took longer than expected — Wal-Mart has a lot of cool stuff — so I had to cut short my shopping trip and come home to meet the cable guy. I was a little late, but in time. I was still unloading the car when he pulled up. While he installed my cable and Internet lines, I figured out how to install the dead bolt in the front door. It was a little confusing at first, but once I understood the basic principle it was easy. The doorknob was much easier, just a few screws. I then did the dead bolt and doorknob on the back door, then took a break as the cable guy needed me to get my laptop and establish Internet access. Once that was working, he took off and I went and did the doorknob on the side door of the garage. All the locks were keyed to the same key, so I only had to worry about one key for everything. The locksmith even told me they could key a padlock to the same key if I wanted, so I can eventually do that for a padlock for my shed. Right now the shed has a lock on it and I have no key!

After my adventures locksmithing, I put up a shower curtain and installed two new shower heads. Then I went back to Wal-Mart to buy some more stuff: a folding table, a chair (There’s no place to sit in the empty house!), a toaster oven (my old one is pretty junky), a lamp (the new house is lacking overhead lights in several rooms, don’t ask me why), and a little clock radio I got for $5. The house is just too quiet with no TV or chaotic cats! At least this way I can get a little white noise with talk radio in the background while I do other things. Whew. After bringing everything home and putting everything away, I had a little dinner, and now I’m exhausted. I’m really ready for bed. It was a very long day. It was fun, but I didn’t have much of a chance to rest. Tomorrow should be interesting as the plumber’s coming early, my mom arrives from the coast with spare beds from Grandpa’s house, and my uncle might show for a visit as well. There’s still lots to do but the house is starting to feel a little lived in now!

Topic: [/house purchase]

Link

Sun, Nov 07, 2004

: House Buying Adventure

Flew up to Oregon today. Check-in was a little slow, but okay. I was flying Southwest and got confused by their weird open seating policy. I’m used to assigned seats. In the waiting area I found an empty seat and waited until boarding began. The row I was in was boarding so I went along, only to get turned away at the gate because my ticket had a “C” on it and only “A” was boarding. Apparently “A” seats are window seats, so those people go in first, then “B” center seats, and finally “C” aisle seats. That sounds good, except that all the “B” people took the aisle seats so when I got on there were only middle seats left! Why have a policy if you don’t enforce it? Bizarre. I was not impressed with Southwest. Supposedly they are tons cheaper, but they’ve never seemed that way to me. In this case they were only about $10 cheaper than Alaska, but their tickets, while not refundable, can at least be used for airline credit. Since I was uncertain of my schedule I wanted tickets I could at least reuse if I had a change in plans. I had another negative when I went to get my checked bag. It’s a black traveler that looks like a million others so I had a purple ribbon attached to a strap on the bag. Well, somehow Southwest unclipped the strap and lost it! I saw my bag go by but thought it wasn’t mine because it didn’t have the ribbon. When it came around the third time and there were only a few pieces of unclaimed luggage left, I finally opened it and saw it was indeed mine. I was quite irritated, not just because Southwest lost part of my luggage, but also because it makes it more difficult to identify my bag. Stupid morons.

Had another adventure getting my rental car. I’d booked it online in advance for a total of $73. The guy at the Dollar booth immediately tried to upgrade me to an SUV. It was normally $89 a day but was on special for $49. That sounded like a terrible deal, nothing close to what I’d booked, and completely confused me. When a customer obviously wants something cheap, why counter with something expensive? Then he threw out some “LDW” term at me at the same time commenting that I wouldn’t need liability insurance, so I said yes. It turned out, that “LDW” was some sort of damage insurance and doubled my rate! I didn’t realize it until he handed me the bill to sign and I saw it was twice what I’d been quoted. “You said you wanted it,” he whined when I complained. I admitted I’d made a mistake, but later realized that he’d never said the “LDW” thing cost anything. What kind of business asks if you want something without telling you the cost? But we still weren’t done. Next he threw a bunch of fuel options at me. For just “$1.99” I could buy a tank of gas. Well, make that $1.99 per gallon. With a 16-gallon tank, that meant an additional $36. You see, I buy a full tank even if I return it nearly full! Of course if I don’t bring it back full, it costs even more per gallon, so it’s “cheaper” to buy the tank in advance. All these options were really annoying me and so I said so. “This feels like a bait and switch,” I told the guy, who got upset. He claimed it wasn’t and that I could get the price I was quoted if I wanted. I finally got out of there getting what I was quoted, but it felt like a hassle. I hate it went estimates and reality don’t match. It really pisses me off.

I got to my Aunt and Uncle’s place about 8:30, I think. My uncle gave me the key to my place. I could have stayed the night at their place, but I really was wanting to see my new house. I was nervous. It’s been a month since I’d been there. This was a huge commitment. What if the house or area didn’t match up with my memory? What if I discovered something I really hated? I headed out with some apprehension. Seeing it at night for the first time added yet another difference. It was dark and foggy, but there was little traffic. I found my way easily, arriving right at 10 o’clock. The house looked a little ordinary as I pulled into the driveway, causing another twinge of apprehension. Had I made a dreadful mistake? But coming since the main door (Whew! The key worked!) I saw the huge living/family room and remembered what I liked about the place. The lofted ceiling, hardwood floors, spacious kitchen, etc. where what I’d wanted. Trying to be more critical, I realized the limitations. There were a few aesthetic flaws such missing baseboard trim, no towel racks in the main bathroom, a kitchen sink that needed replacing (it wasn’t even hooked up), a shower door with no handle, etc. At first it was depressing thinking that the house wasn’t perfect or that some of the workmanship wasn’t top notch, but then I realized that every house has flaws and the ones here really are minor and all fixable. It may take me a little time to fix everything, but it’s certainly doable. By the time I went to bed (exhausted), I was very comfortable with my decision. The house isn’t a mansion, but it’s certainly a step up from my previous place and it’s got great potential. It will be an excellent place to live for a long time to come.

Topic: [/travel]

Link

Sat, Nov 06, 2004

: Moving Sale

Things went surprisingly well. This was the first time I’d ever had a garage sale, though I remember helping at my cousin’s once many years ago. I’d prepared by placing a classified ad in the local paper and online; I even created a web page for the sale and put a link to it in the newspaper ad (better than paying extra for long text in the paper). At about seven this morning when I was out getting the sale ready and chatting with a neighbor, two different cars passed and asked about the sale! Wow, those garage sale people really get started early! I told them the sale didn’t start until nine, but about 8:30 someone asked to look and I said sure, though I was still setting stuff out. A woman who’d called last night about the storage shed came by (early) to pay for it. She also bought my collection of shelves and brackets. That seemed to start a flood. By nine-thirty I’d sold a bunch of stuff: half the videos, the air conditioner, and more. By noon I’d sold a few more things, then it got very quiet. Over the afternoon I only had a couple visitors. It seems the garage sale trade happens early. I didn’t sell a couple large pieces of furniture (primarily my kitchen hutch and loft bed), but I did sell the bedroom armoire, my stereos, almost all the videos. Only a few books sold, which was fine: I’d rather exchange them at a used bookstore anyway. I’d been thinking of selling them for a dollar (which seems cheap to a book lover like me) but someone told me I’d never sell them unless I went to fifty cents or less. Overall, I’m pleased with the sale. It brought it a little bit of cash, but mostly means I have less junk to haul to Oregon.

Topic: [/house purchase]

Link

Fri, Nov 05, 2004

: House Buying Adventure

I’ve been telling people about the house and their reaction has been universal: “Congratulations,” they say, as though I’d had a baby or won an award. I thought that was strange. It’s not like you’re congratulated when you buy a car. It’s not like I did something extraordinary. But then I realized that buying a house is extraordinary. It’s not something you do that many times in your life. Going through the mortgage process is an achievement, having all the details work out satisfactorily for everyone involved is a challenge, and it’s difficult to find property and get it. So I guess congratulations is the right thing to say — I’ll just have to get used to hearing it!

Topic: [/house purchase]

Link

: House Buying Adventure

This morning I got up early and began preparations for my moving sale tomorrow. I disassembled my loft bed, cleaned the microwave and fridge, moved furniture out onto the deck. I took the air conditioner out of the window and replaced the windows (good thing I saved them). In the middle of all that I went to the bank to sign the auto-debit form and got some cash in case I needed change for customers at the sale. I then called the mortgage contact to let her know that the form was signed and faxed; she’d already received it and said funding would happen when the documents from Oregon arrived. I called the title company in Oregon to make sure they were planning to record the deed today if the funding arrived; everyone promised to call me once things happened. I continued my preparations and tried not to worry about the phone ringing, but by 1:15 I still hadn’t heard anything and was getting worried because the deed has to record by four or it wouldn’t happen until Monday. All I got was voice mail when I called the bank, but she called me back a little while later and said we’d funded! I called the title company again to see if we were recording and they said they’d call when they did. I received that call about three o’clock: they’d received the funding from California and were recording. So it’s now done! The house is officially and legally mine. I can get the keys when I fly up on Sunday. Whew!

Topic: [/house purchase]

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Thu, Nov 04, 2004

: House Buying Adventure

Today I had to drive to Fresno to get my new contacts from my eye doctor, so I didn’t expect much to happen on the house. It’s out of my hands anyway. My worry was the auto-debit form. I left messages but never heard back (I was gone all day but gave out my cell phone). When I got home, I had a number of errands to run and a client to meet with. (One the errands was cool: I remembered I had an electronic range key from the local driving range that still had money credited to it and so I was able to turn it in and get $50 credit at the pro shop. I bought a pair of golf shoes which I’d been wanting but never gotten. I’m glad I remembered because that range key wouldn’t have done me much good in Oregon!) Late in the evening (after meeting with the client) I got home to receive a call from the mortgage lady who told me my answering machine hadn’t picked up all day. I’d wondered why I hadn’t received any messages! Apparently the cordless phone’s battery had gone dead and that somehow caused the base’s answering machine to not function. Anyway, she said that the auto-debit form wasn’t a big deal — it wouldn’t slow up my loan — but I could fill it out in the morning and have it faxed to the underwriter. So that gives me more to do tomorrow in addition to getting ready for the moving sale on Saturday.

Topic: [/house purchase]

Link

Wed, Nov 03, 2004

: House Buying Adventure

Great, it’s cloudy and potentially wet today: after I’d checked the advanced weather forecast earlier in the week to confirm no rain the reports were, of course, completely incorrect. Brilliant. Why do they bother?

I just signed the final mortgage documents (about 50 pages worth including a document in which I’d promise I sign more documents if these weren’t enough) and handed over a cashier’s check for the down payment and closing costs. The keys are almost in my hands. The documents must be signed by the seller in Oregon and then come back to the bank here for funding, but if everything goes as planned, we’ll close on Friday. There is one potential obstacle which has me worried: I am supposed to have auto-debit set up for the mortgage payment. I couldn’t do that earlier because I didn’t have my Oregon bank account yet, but I have it now and I tried to get the form today at the local branch but apparently it’s not that simple. Apparently that’s something that must come from the mortgage department. Supposedly this form must be signed before the bank will fund the loan, so I’m concerned.

Topic: [/house purchase]

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Tue, Nov 02, 2004

: Voting 2004

Regardless of which side of the political line you fall on, you’ve got to admit that voting in this country is messed up. That’s putting it politely. Here we are the most technologically advanced country in the world and we can’t even figure out how to get people to vote electronically? That’s ridiculous. I’d fire the president and every single politician currently in office until that is fixed. Just fix it. No excuses. It’s absurd that we can’t know the count for days, and it’s absurd the incredible hassles we force people to go through to vote. For instance, I drove way out of my way and ended up at the wrong polling place — apparently it’d been changed since the last time I voted. At the new polling place there was no parking. I had to drive around the parking lot until a space opened up. Then there was a long time. Nothing like waiting five or six hours as in some states (ridiculous), but the entire process did take close to forty-five minutes (driving, parking, waiting, voting, etc.). That’s just too long, especially for young people who find it a drag waiting four minutes for a microwave dinner to cook. The bottom line is we need a uniform system that’s the same nationwide, we need a technological solution that eliminates errors and gives us a quick and accurate count, and we need a way to vote via the Web, cell phone, and other simple technologies so that voting is more convenient.

Topic: [/politics]

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: House Buying Adventure

This morning I got a call from the title company in Oregon. It appears this process is more complicated than I expected. Apparently the documents are overnighted to me in California (I receive them Wednesday), then they go back to Oregon (Thursday), then they have to come back to California (Friday) to the bank for funding. So the earliest we can close is Friday. That would be fine as long as it happens and we can record that day, but it’s certainly tighter than I prefer. I’m scheduled to be in the house on Monday the 8th, so if we don’t record on Friday, we could have a problem.

I just called the local notary I have to meet with tomorrow for signing the final docs: we’re going to meet at the local title company. So that’s at least set up. Once I sign those docs and deliver my cashier’s check for the down payment and closing costs, it’s out of my hands. Oh, I guess I also need to set up an automatic payment system for my mortgage as that was listed as a requirement for funding by the bank. I just got my account number for my new account in Oregon, so hopefully that can be done now.

Topic: [/house purchase]

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: Election 2004 and the Media

The media isn’t biased, eh? I don’t normally watch the news or read newspapers or magazines because I don’t like the bias, but for current election coverage I did tune in to see how the different networks were reporting on the Election 2004 mess. Wow, it was actually painful. Fox News made it sound like it was impossible for Kerry to win: he’d literally have to win every single remaining state and get all the provisional ballets in Ohio and even then the numbers didn’t quite add up. But on CNN they showed Kerry and Bush in a dogfight with almost identical electoral votes and had analysts who were pointing out what a tough road Bush had ahead and that once Kerry won Ohio it would be almost impossible for Bush to win! Dang, I hate this politicking and the divisiveness it creates. It was ridiculously easy to see the bias in the networks. I tuned to CBS to see Dan Rather viciously attack a Republican analyst, interrupting the guy’s spin with his own comments and conclusions, simply because it was obvious Dan didn’t want to hear that Bush had won. Why bother to have the guy on if you aren’t going to listen to what he has to say? I found it quite distasteful. On the other side, Fox News shows “Democrats” who agree with Republicans (i.e. a Dem who says that Bush won).

On another note, on several channels I saw reporters deny their own polls and surveys. The reporter would reveal a new poll that showed that the number one concern of voters were moral and ethical issues, but then the reporter would dismiss that and point that that was ridiculous and obviously the voter’s main concern had to be the war and terrorism and security! What war are they talking about? That silly little skirmish in Iraq? Please.

As to the whole “who won” issue, the media was at fault for encouraging it. Obviously controversy provides ratings, so the media purposely encouraged the concept that we didn’t know who won the election. In reality the numbers were clear that Kerry couldn’t win Ohio but still a number of networks wouldn’t call the election. If they had, perhaps Kerry would have conceded earlier like in a normal election. But with the precedent of 2000 before us, the media jumped on the slightest whiff that that could happen again. Instead of being responsible, the media hurt the country but promoting indecision and confusion.

Topic: [/politics]

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Mon, Nov 01, 2004

: House Buying Adventure

Today final documents were drawn up and sent to the title company in Oregon. This is the final step in the process, so this house buying adventure is (finally) drawing to a close. It’s exactly one month from when I first saw the house, which is interesting. I’m not sure exactly what happens next, but my understanding is that the docs have to go to Oregon and come back, then I sign them, and they go back. I’m supposed to get a call from the Oregon title company after they get the docs so I’ll know more then. Meantime, I’ve got a LOT of packing to do. Time is running out. Next week I’ll be gone most of the week so I’ve got to get all packed this week. This coming Saturday is my moving sale, so I’ve got to get ready for that as well. Thursday is my trip to Fresno for an eye doctor appointment for new contacts, so I lose a day there.

Topic: [/house purchase]

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