Thursday, July 28, 2005

The ups and downs of buying a house

There is a house that my wife really likes, in fact, so much that it was called the perfect house. She saw the house online and really liked it. We planned a special trip to check it out.
On Wednesday, before we went, our agent told us that the house had an offer on it, but the seller was waiting for us to see it.
On Saturday, we saw it. We liked it. That evening we wrote an offer. We were excited.
On Sunday morning, we got the call from our agent that not only was there an offer, but the seller had counter offered and before our offer got in, the seller accepted their offer. Quite the downer.
We continued our house hunting trip, but never found the right house. We weren't ready to settle, so we found an apartment and made a backup offer on the house. A long shot, but we weren't going to be making any offers on any houses since we wouldn't be there, but it made us feel a little better. On the off chance that their deal fell through.
Yesterday, I got a call from our agent that their deal had fallen through. She had to switch calls and so I called my wife and told her the good news. She was quite excited.
Then, our agent called back. The deal had fallen through, but then the buyers wanted back in. It was probably ours, but there was some legal wrangling to be done. Downer.
I got called today at work, at about 4:30 with a "no-change" update. Lawyers were being consulted and they should know an answer soon, but no specifics.
By the time I got home at 7:50 (working late and stopping by Taco Bell for my dinner), my wife had gotten the call. The lawyers had reviewed it and the house was ours. Excitement again.

I recently read an article that outlined the stages that people go through when buying a house. They were right. It is an emotional roller coaster.

With the prices of houses in the Bay Area, buying and selling houses are huge transactions. A small house sale and step up purchase can easily become a million plus dollar project. When you really think about it, that is a large project and not every Tom, Dick and Harry are ready to take on that kind of a project. Dealing with deadlines, being professional, sound decision making and understanding timelines and inter-related tasks aren't quite as common skills as I would like believe they should be. Gosh!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

I had a MINI

Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream, the company which employs me, has launched a new product, Dibs. As part of the marketing support for the "Next little thing in ice cream," they decked out a MINI Cooper as a cool marketing propaganda too. I am proud to say that I drove it and spread the good word to the commuters in the Bay Area.

I had children chase me on the street. People I knew didn't recognize me because they were too busy staring at the car.

The next day, I took the long way to work and drove on some of the rural back roads. I took Marsh Creek from Antioch into Clayton and then Walnut Creek. It was a driving dream.

So this MINI is a 5 speed manual, so driving was actually fun! The way the car handles on the curvy roads and accelerates from a stop just made me happy. I so want a MINI.

Keeping the keys in my pocket was so natural, it was just like they belonged there.

I had a MINI, even if only for the day.

Thanks Cady for letting me take your Dibs car.

Mr Fix It (or I hate dry rot)

I have previously mentioned that I had a bathroom floor with some dry rot.
Well, not any more. I got up at 3:30 this morning and finished it up. Today was the day of our re-inspection (we are selling our house) and it all had to be done.
On Monday, the contractor who was doing some other work for us, told me what I had to do to fix it all up. His information was a great help and he pointed me towards Fix It All. With out his help, I wouldn't have known what to do. Monday night, I used the Fix It All and then Tuesday night was the finish it all stretch.
But, because I had so much floor to replace, I had to use some floor levelling stuff. But it needed 10 hours to cure. So, while it was curing, I was sleeping. Then the work began at 3;30. I had to replace the stylish black and white tile and then a toilet. I don't like replacing toilets. I have had bad luck with them in the past and they leak and have a lot of water. They suck.
But this time, the construction project gods were with me and it went in with out a hitch. No leaks and a shiny new floor.

We passed our inspection and are one step closer to selling our house!

Monday, July 25, 2005

Fix It All

Fix It All is the neatest stuff.

I have a section of bathroom floor (it was the kid's bathroom) that had some dry rot. After getting some guidance from a contractor, I've just about got it all fixed up. Chiseling out the dry rot was easy, no need for a mallet, just a firm hand on the chisel and the rotten would would come out! It would fall apart like a crumbly oatmeal cookie.

But then, I needed to fill all the wood I removed.

Fix It All is the answer. It is a powder that you mix into a paste and then put into the gaps like plaster. It is sandable, drillable, sawable and acts pretty much like wood.

In order to do this, I even had to get a new tool - a trowel! I always say, "New project equals new tool!"

I'll try to add some pictures later.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

No BART Strike!

So the BART unions didn't strike! Hooray. I hope that BART didn't have to make concessions that will cause fares to rise. It will only push away more riders.

It sucked waking up just after midnight to check on the status of the negotiations.

I was doubly fortunate as I had to go to work, because of our project work today, I didn't have the option of telecommuting.

Public transit is really vital to the Bay Area - there are so many people and so many cities and so many cars. I don't want to see a union drag down BART, which would only drag down the whole Bay Area.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

BART Strike???

The Bay Area Rapid Transit is undergoing negotiations with a few of its unions. After long negotiations, there is the potential of a strike, starting at midnight. I think it is baloney.

It seems that the disagreement is about pay raises and incentives, like medical benefits. The BART operators are already very well paid. While I think that everyone should have medical insurance, but people should pay their share. Medical costs are rising in the US these days and workers everywhere are being asked to bear a little more of the costs for their own health care. To pay an increasing portion of health care would make them just like everybody else in America.

It would really suck if companys decided not to offer health care as a benefit. I think that this kind of union thinking will really drive the price of business up in the United States and companies will go elsewhere in this global economy to do the same things and we'll eventually not be able to afford anything. Our empire will crumble.

Back on the strike, if BART strikes, traffic will drag the Bay Area to a halt.

Right now, BART does save me time on my commute, but it costs a bunch. I think I pay 7 bucks a day and it BART wouldn't have to raise te prices too much for the balance to tip back to driving. If only I had a car that I liked. But that is a subject of another posting.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Digital Music

Editor's (or Idiot's) Note: I found this posting in the drafts list. This was originally written in July of 2005 and my second post. I thought I had published this and thought I got comments on it. With the release of the Zune, it is an interesting view point on my first month with an iPod and the evolution of digital music.

Idiot's Note, part two. Obviously, I had published this already. There is one comment. I've got no idea what happened.

For Father's Day, I got a 60GB iPod Photo. It is pretty cool. It was quite a step up from my RCA 128 MB MP3 player. I am really impressed by the user interface on the iPod. I guess you have to have a good interface when you have that many songs.

In the evolution of digital music, I started in the "who would want to listen to music on their computer" camp. That was when my computer and stereo were in the same room (college days). Then, my computer was at my work and I needed to listen to music, so I'd rip a CD or two.

Then I became a commuter.

Having music on my hour and forty-five minute drive was important. I'd drive out of range of the stations that I'd start on and through areas with no broadcast radio at all.

So more and more of my music ended up on my computer.

I got the flash memory based MP3 player and it was pretty cool. I could take what ever music I wanted with me. But I had to keep changing it, because after a day or two of my commute (it had gotten shorter), I'd be repeating the music.

Now, I have a digital music player that tells me I have 7.2 days of music!

But I have also gone through many software MP3 players. I started out as a real fan (no pun intended) of RealPlayer, but my work blocked access to their CD lookup database. I then moved to the Windows Media player because the CD lookup wasn't blocked. Other than that, the two were pretty similar.

But since I got my iPod, I've since moved to iTunes. I don't get it, the iPod has a great UI but I just can't get the UI in iTunes. It isn't as intuitive to look for individual songs. The UI just isn't as great. How can they make such a great piece of hardware but a not so great software to go with it? It isn't bad, just not as great as the iPod.

I love my iPod - there is so much thought and innovation in it. Even in the packaging. I was really impressed by the box. The box!

I am king dork when a box impresses me.

I have been a non-fan of Apple computers. The iPod might be the device that turns me. I don't know.

My first posting...

I have been thinking about writing a blog for a while. A few things have kept me on the side lines, primarily, wondering if I have anything to say. As I have thought about it, I do have opinions, wild thoughts and neat experiences to share.

So, here goes. I can’t promise that I’ll be regular, cognizant or write anything of importance.

Well, I am pretty regular.

I guess that sets the tone. Inside I am ten.