lokheed: (Default)
( Jan. 11th, 2006 10:58 pm)
So it's my wife's birthday today.  I hardly saw her.  I have spent the past fifteen hours straight coding so that I could complete my functinality before losing my broadband connection tomorrow morning.  My brain is numb.

Tomorrow morning the land line and broadband get shut off here, and the satellite and broadband connections get hooked up at the house.  I'll be basically moving all of the electronics tomorrow, plus whatever else I can fit in my car.

Friday is the main move, getting all of the furniture and whatever else is left up to the house.

The remainder of the weekend will be cleaning out the apartment and handing over the keys, and settling into the house.  I expect to be offline basically for the next two days at least, and probably until late in the weekend.  So if you don't hear from me, it's not personal.
lokheed: (Default)
( Jan. 2nd, 2006 12:16 pm)
Huh.  All I can say is it's been a hell of a past few weeks.  I've dreamed of owning a house for years.  And years.  And I still wouldn't own one today if it weren't for Kris, for a multitude of reasons.  So for just over two weeks now we have owned our first house, and have spent much time either working there at the house, or packing and moving things here at the apartment.  Kris has done the lion's share of the packing, while I have done most of the physical carrying of the stuff and packing the cars.  At this point our apartment is beginning to look pretty empty.  When the actual moving day comes, it appears that really all that will be left is the furniture that is too large to fit in either of our cars.  I have to say that moving with a month long overlap is definitely the preferred way to do it, if you possibly can.  Also, I have now moved in Florida both in the middle of summer and the middle of winter.  Winter is definitely preferable.  It's still hot, sweaty work but at least you aren't completely exhausted after carrying one load up a flight of stairs.

Today is the last day off from work, so it's the last day to really get much of anything done at the house.  I am just about to head back up there and mow the lawn, put up some window shades in the master bedroom, and probably install some ledger boards for shelves in the utility room.  It's the last hurrah before I get buried in work again tomorrow.

Oh, one other random note:  it has been nearly three months since I stopped slavishly keeping track of my weight.  During that time I have also cut way back on my skating for a variety of reasons (but I will start back in as soon as we get moved).  I had no doubt that I had gained back a little weight.  Truth be told, I pretty much feared that I had gained back a *significant* amount of weight.  This morning I weighed myself for the first time in ages, and it turns out that I have only bounced back by less than ten pounds and I am still right around 250.  This makes me very happy.
So I got a lot done today, but not nearly as much as I had hoped.  I exchanged Ben's skates, which I got him for Christmas but unfortunately the box had one size 2 skate and one size 3 skate.  Now he has to matching skates that fit properly.  I installed the second pet door, so now the cats will have an open route to get to and from the garage, where their food and litter boxes will be located.  Finally, I replaced several outlets in the formal dining room, which turned out to be quite an adventure.

When the previous owners repainted, they did a very sloppy job in several areas.  All five of the power outlets in the formal dining room had been partially painted over and just looked tacky.  We got some nice new outlets, and I set about replacing them this afternoon.  I threw the breaker for the room, checked the overhead light to ensure it was off (it was), and then just to be double sure I plugged a lamp into the outlet I was about to replace.  The lamp came on.  How weird, I thought, the outlets must be on a different circuit.  So I threw another breaker that might possible apply.  Still power to the outlet.  So I threw another breaker, and another.  Eventually I had thrown every single breaker in the box, theoretically powering down the entire house, and still the outlet had power.  I checked the others, and all five in that room had power.  So did all of the outlets in the kitchen, and I could hear the compressor on the refrigerator still running.  Very strange.

I walked through the entire house looking for another breaker panel, and couldn't find one.  I certainly wasn't about to swap out power outlets with live current running through them.  Although to be perfectly honest I briefly considered it for a moment.  "What could possibly happen?" my inner Guy asked?  Then I pictured myself lying in the hospital bed explaining to my wife how Competent Man was defeated my his mortal enemy, Reckless Guy.  No, I had to figure this out.  Especially because if there really were outlets wired without breakers, that was a serious potential problem.  But one that never should have passed inspection, so it didn't make sense.  I finally called an electrician and explained the situation to him.  He was very nice, and suggested that I look for another breaker panel outside right next to the power meter.  Sure enough, there were another half dozen breakers out there, one of which was clearly labeled for the outlets in the dining room.  So with the power switched off I swapped out four of the outlets and it looks much nicer.  I may still need to swap the fifth, but it looks mostly ok.  The little bit of paint that is on it can probably be cleaned off.

After that I went over to say happy birthday to Ben.  He was all cuddled up under his new Snow White comforter (which manages to not look girly at all, so that's nice).  He was happy to see me and gave me a big hug and kiss.  And then he told me, "buh-bye."  He knows his schedule, and he surely wasn't going to go anywhere with me on a Tuesday.  Go figure.

In other news, mom managed to short out her cable modem today.  Important safety tip:  when watering the plants, don't pour water onto the electronic equipment.  It tends to cause smoke, fire, and that oh-so-pleasant carbon smell.  So if anyone is worried at her being offline all day, she is perfectly fine.  I spoke to the cable company, and will be able to swap out the cable modem for her tomorrow morning.  She should be back online by the afternoon.
Mall requires wider S.R. 50, state decides

The first few paragraphs:

The state agency that approves large commercial developments has accomplished what a group of dedicated protesters has been trying to do for months -- put the brakes on one of the largest shopping centers in Central Florida.

The state Department of Community Affairs is stalling development plans for Winter Garden Village at Fowler Groves until local officials and the developer come up with a specific funding plan to help widen to six lanes a six-mile section of State Road 50.

The section, which runs through Ocoee and Winter Garden -- from Avalon Road to Good Homes Road -- is not in the state Department of Transportation's current five-year improvement plan, even though it is expected to reach gridlock status with the opening of the huge shopping center in late 2007.

For reference:  our house is roughly two miles east of Avalon Road and four miles west of Good Homes Road, and immediately north of State Road 50. 
And I got news for the DoT; it's already at gridlock status for much of the day.  I learned right away that I am far better off taking Story Road to Maquire to Orlando Avenue as back roads rather than dealing with 50.
I spent the first half of the day with my mom, mostly taking care of social security stuff.  On the upside, we did the paperwork so that SSA recognizes me as her authorized representative, so in the future I can call them to talk about her case without having to have my mom right there with me.  We also got her replacement card ordered with her correct name (the one she had still had her former married name), and figured out the problem with medicare (she should have been given medicare parts  A and B retroactively to November of '04, but they had started her in August of '05 instead).  So she'll get the retroactive medicare and be able to have several medical bills covered, adding up to over $7,000 in bills.  That's good.  On the downside, it appears that the payment she got in October really was the entire settlement amount.  We had been of the understanding that there was a second piece following, and that the lawyer had not been paid yet.  That appears to not be the case.  There is still some confusion, however, because an awards letter was never generated to itemize the back payement.  We should have it all straightened out in January.

For the afternoon, Kris and I went up to the house.  Kris had a nice chandelier that had been a housewarming gift from her condo, and I installed it in the formal dining room.  It looks very nice.  We also got a new light fixture to put in the downstairs hallway, since the existing one was missing the glass dome and was ugly to boot.  The one we got was twenty five bucks, was much more in scale with the space, and looks very nice.  We also replaced some switch cover plates in the dining room.  All of the outlets in there are going to need to be replaced, as the former owners had done a very sloppy job painting and had not bothered to cover the outlets.  Truth be told, we are going to need to just walk through the entire house and take an inventory of every light switch, outlet, and other panels that need to be replaced.  All total it's not that expensive, and it will make a huge difference.

The only downer to the day:  our Tivo is dead.  It locked up a few days ago and I was able to revive it, but it failied again today.  It is exhibiting the classic signs of hard drive failure.  So everything we had saved on it is pretty much gone, which kind of sucks.  But I have a recovery CD so all I really need to do to fix it is to buy a new hard drive and then blast the image onto it.  A pain in the butt, but at least it waited to fail until everything we watch was in reruns during the Christmas break.
lokheed: (Default)
( Dec. 20th, 2005 11:01 pm)
Over the past two days at the house I have:

1. Fixed multiple doorknobs that were loose, installed backwards, or missing screws.

2. Placed keyed doorknobs on the master bedroom, the guest bedroom, and the office.

3. Replaced the existing single cylinder deadbolt on the front door with a new double cylinder deadbolt.

4. Installed a completely new double cylinder deadbolt in the door from the utility room to the garage, including boring the holes in the door itself, boring the receiving hole in the door frame, and mortising the door frame and door edge to flush mount the strike plates.

5. Had both deadbolts and all three keyed doorknobs re-keyed to all use the same key.

6. Fixed the accordion door of the coat closet, which was both off its tracks and set to the incorrect height.

7. Fixed the sliding glass door so that both panels wold slide freely on their newly cleaned tracks.

8. Fixed the latching mechanism on the sliding glass door, which had the receiving coupler installed slightly off-center and had one of the two latches bent out of true.

9. Caulked around both the shower and the tub in the master bathroom, and also caulked around the bath in the public upstairs bathroom.

10. Scrubbed the garage floor with a mixture of white vinegar and mild detergent to eliminate lingering pet stains and odors.

11. Replaced the batteries in all of the smoke detectors.

12. Unloaded several car loads of stuff, most of which was promptly unpacked so the empty boxes could come back to the apartment to be filled again.

Of all of those, installing the new deadbolt was the best accomplishment.  When I found out it was going to cost the better part of a hundred dollars to have a locksmith come out and install the lock, I decided that it had to be something I could do myself.  It cost me about twenty dollars for two forstner bits, a spade bit, a set of wood chisels for the mortising, and a custom tool for properly aligning the holes to be bored.  The task drew first blood as I was drilling out the receiving hole in the door frame, but I write that off as properly consecrating the house and sealing the threshold with my life force.  Right?

On the agenda for tomorrow:  having the garage door opener installed (that's not one I am comfortable tackling myself), bringing over at least two more loads of stuff, assembling the new gorilla racks and setting them up in the garage, and moving a very colorful ceiling fan from the guest bedroom into Ben's playroom.
lokheed: (Default)
( Dec. 19th, 2005 12:13 am)
So we bought a house last Friday,  as I may have mentioned before.

Just prior to the closing we had a walk through of the house, and were somewhat distressed to find that the previous owners were not completely out yet.  We had come up with both cars loaded down and ready to unload the first round of stuff, but had to change plans.  The closing itself went flawlessly, and by 1pm we were homeowners.  The previous owners took pretty much the rest of the day to finish clearing out, and they hired a person to come in Saturday morning to clean.  As for us, we spent the rest of the day Friday doing things like shopping for a garage door opener and contacting utilities.

Saturday morning I picked up Ben, and took him and my mom up to see the house.  The woman was still there cleaning, and honestly she had a massive job to do.  Ben loved the house (on Sunday he asked to go see the house again, which I took as a very good sign).  Over the course of the weekend Kris and I took up three or four car loads of stuff, basically clearing out space in are apartment to be able to start packing for the main move.  We did some additional cleaning today, and have much more to do.  I am going to need to rent a power washer to clean the garage floor and driveway.  I also need to do some caulking in the bathrooms, install some new deadbolts, switch around some doorknobs and tighten up others, fix a closet door, move a ceiling fan to a different room....  the list goes on and on.

We won't be doing any painting before we move in.  There are too many other things to do, and honestly we don't have a clear idea of what we want to do color-wise anyway.  We'll figure that out as we go, and probably tackle a room at a time. That should keep us busy for years to come.  We also need to learn about local gardening and lawn care, as our lawn is in very sad shape.  Our neighbors have a beautiful lawn, so I hope to strke up a conversation with them and get some tips.  We met the neighbors on our north side yesterday, and they seemed very nice.  The dad was out playing with his daughter, who was just cute as a button (I'd guess she was maybe three or four years old).  It just seems like a nice family neighborhood all around, and we are really looking forward to living there.

Tomorrow I have a full day planned, so I really should be getting to bed.  I'll bring the camera with me tomorrow and start taking pictures to post in our gallery.  Stay tuned.
lokheed: (Default)
( Dec. 16th, 2005 06:44 pm)
It's official.  As of about 1pm today, Kris and I are homeowners.  More details to follow later, but at the moment I am pretty wiped out.

* A few months back Kris got a postcard from an old friend, telling her about his new house.  Due to the vagaries of his handwriting and an unfortunate line break, the first line of text he had written on the back of the postcard appeared to read, "...I'm a homo-"
Spent last night mostly sick.  I'll spare you the details, but I didn't really get to sleep until around 3:30 am.  I tried to work today, got some work done in the morning, but by lunchtime I just couldn't concentrate anymore.  I wound up emailing in sick and taking the afternoon off.  I spent a solid hour just soaking in a hot bath with my ears under the water and a washcloth covering my eyes.  I didn't even hear Kris come home from work.  I felt progressively better as the afternoon wore on, which was nice.  I don't know if it was stress, or a very mild flu, or what it was.  I'm just glad it's mostly gone now.

In the evening we went to check out the Ice! exhibit at Gaylord Palms.  It was pretty dang cool, an exhibit of ice sculptures kept at nine degrees.  The ice slide was pretty sweet.

After that, we went over to Downtown Disney and caught the evening showing of King Kong.  I loved it.  Lots of nice references slipped in, both to the original and the 70's remake, but my favorite was the empty "rat monkey of Sumatra" cage in the ship's cargo hold.  That and the part where Kong went past St. Patrick's Cathedral and I thought, "hey, that's right where we stayed for our honeymoon!"

Oh, and we're buying a house the day after tomorrow.  Did I mention that?  I can't remember if I've mentioned that before....
I don't know if I have mentioned it here before, but we are buying a house on Friday.  You know how it is, trying to find that perfect Christmas gift.

So the final insurance paperwork got processed this morning and we are good to go.  We close at noon on Friday, but the one piece of information we are missing is *where* exactly the closing is happening.  I've called our realtor something like six times in the past two days and have not yet heard back from her, which is just a wee bit frustrating.  I don't know what's going on, but given that she is going to be making at least ten grand off of the transaction, you 'd think she would return a phone call.  I'm just sayin'.

Yesterday Kris drove home from work.  By "drove home" I mean that after work she drove to the new house.  (Embarrassing full disclosure:  when she got home and told me she had driven home from work, my first response was something along the lines of, "well I didn't figure you'd walked home..."  So yeah, I'm a goober.)  Anyway, the driving time for her to get home was about thirty minutes.  That's compared to the hour and ten minutes in regularly takes her to get home currently.  The morning and evening commutes tend to be very different, but it looks like on average she will get back an hour of her life every day just because of the move.  So that's pretty dang cool.

Work-wise things continue to crank along.  I finished up my web service work today, and also fixed some new issues that had come up with the conference system.  Tomorrow I get to tackle another facet of the air project.  Fun, fun.  And I mean that sincerely, not sarcastically.  Which is pretty cool.

Did I mention how much I love my wife?  She made fudge tonight.  Well, she cooked dinner too, and it was good, but she also made fudge.  Fudge is good.
lokheed: (Default)
( Nov. 27th, 2005 09:45 pm)
For anyone who is interested, pictures of our new house.  More pictures will follow once we actually close.
lokheed: (Default)
( Nov. 22nd, 2005 10:03 pm)
For anyone so inclined:  Kris and I have decided to let all of our relatives and friends know, what we would really appreciate as Christmas/Birthday/Housewarming presents are gift certificates to Lowes.  We have an abundance of needs for the house, and it will be a great help to have a pool of gift certificates all to the same place.

So yeah, I am blatantly begging.  So sue me.  (Or send me some gift certificates to Lowes)
lokheed: (Default)
( Nov. 22nd, 2005 05:06 pm)
I just heard from the mortgage banker.  The paperwork is back from the underwriter, and everything is good.  They need one piece of paperwork from Kris' boss due to her lack of pay stubs (he just hand-writes her a check each week), but that is just a formality.  At this point there is nothing to do but wait until closing.
Our house closes on December 16th, with the first mortgage payment due on February 1st.  We plan on doing the major move in early-to-mid January.  Our current lease runs through the last day of February.  The penalty for breaking our lease is pretty much equivelant to one month's rent.  The upshot is that by the terms of our current lease, we will wind up needing to pay both rent and a mortgage payment in February.  Now, that's fine.  It's a potential cost we anticipated both when we signed our current lease, and when we made the offer on our house.

That being said, it seemed worth at least a try to negotiate with the apartment management in cutting us a break.  Technically because of how the lease breaking penalty is categorized, they are not obligated to refund money to us if they lease the apartment in February.  You can't charge rent twice for the same unit, but the penalty is not rent.  Still, in an ideal win-win situation we would pay the full month's rent in January but move out early enough to give them enough time to turn the apartment and re-rent it for February.  We don't get the double rent/mortgage payment, and the apartment complex doesn't lose cash flow.  Everybody's happy.

When I initially pitched that to the apartment management, I basically got a "letter of the lease" kind of reply.  Which was...  disappointing.  I just came back from the apartment office, where I spoke to the manager again.  I stressed the win-win solution, and pointed out that if they are going to hold us to the letter of our lease then that is fine, but we will therefore hold *them* to the letter of our lease.  We will leave the apartment completely empty but maintain occupancy until the end of the last day of our lease, and they will lose income during the period they need to turn the apartment.  We've been here three years, they are going to need to replace the carpet and repaint.  It just seemed silly and petty to me, when theoretically the whole point of a lease is to protect the property owner from losses.

In the end the apartment manager agreed with me.  There are no other three bedroom units that have given notice, and there is a demand for this size unit.  As soon as we give written notice, the apartment complex will be able to pre-lease the unit.  We will know well before we move out whether or not we will be on the hook for anything in February.  Assuming they are able to lease it (which they almost certainly will), whatever revenue comes from leasing the apartment will be offset against our cancellation fee.  That will leave us with a net wash, which is exactly what we were looking for.  Hooray for common sense!
lokheed: (Default)
( Nov. 21st, 2005 05:52 pm)
The inspection for our new house was today, and it went very well.  We won't see the final report until tomorrow, but I walked along with the inspectors this afternoon and talked with them throughout.  My biggest potential concern was any water penetration during the hurricanes last year, but it is clear that nothing came through.  The roof is in tip-top shape, the attic is clean and dry with plenty if insulation, and the trusses are all solid.  There are some minor cosmetic things throughout the house (missing switch plates, a frayed cable on the garage door, etc.), but the only thing the inspectors really made note of was that the A/C unit needed to be cleaned.  Mechanically it is just fine, it just hasn't been serviced in three years.  Given that a routine annual cleaning costs less than a hundred bucks, I am sure we will be able to have the current owners take care of that before closing. 

So that's one more major item off the checklist.  The appraisal will happen tomorrow, and the underwriter should sign off on the mortgage on Wednesday.  I'm not holding my breath on that last one, what with the holiday, but it would be nice.  By Thanksgiving we should be in escrow, and we can breathe easy.
lokheed: (Default)
( Nov. 19th, 2005 12:10 am)
You know what can screw up the purchase of a new home?  A tropical storm passing through the area.  If you are "inside the box", all transactions stop for the duration of the event.
Given everything that happened this afternoon and evening, I guess it's not surprising that I am so keyed up I can't sleep.

Read more... )
lokheed: (Default)
( Nov. 16th, 2005 06:26 pm)

'Nuff said.

Brain fried.  More later.
lokheed: (Default)
( Nov. 16th, 2005 11:35 am)
Realtor is meeting with seller now.  Transaction is complex in that seller is not owner.  Seller is inital occupant of the house, holding a contract to buy the house from the actual owner by the end of this month.  So the owner will make a cash sale to the seller, who will then turn around and sell it to us in the same transaction.  So if seller likes the offer contract, she will take it to the owner later today.  We'll have a gut check within another hour or so, but thus far it looks good.

I think Freddie Mercury said it best in Under Pressure when he sang:

Ee do bay bup
Ee do bay ba bup
Ee do bup
Bay bup
Dee da dee da day
Dee da dee da dee da dee da
lokheed: (Default)
( Nov. 15th, 2005 09:37 pm)

Offer made.  Loan pre-qualified.  Decision by tomorrow evening.

Tick tock, tick tock.