Monday, September 22, 2008

Gatorade Pool

Today is the start of day 10 of converting my pool from Baquacil to Chlorine.  Its coming along slowly but certainly but it isn't without its moments.
 
Initially I did what I read should be done with the pool to begin the process, namely add 2 pounds of dichlor for every 10,000 gallons of pool water.  Well, mt 24' Round above ground pool is like 11,000 - 12,000 gallons and so I added 4 pounds of dichlor because I had read how much baquacil eats up the chlorine. Well, the pool did what they said it would initially do and it turned cloudy and green and scummed up.  I guess the chemistry is such that baquacil and chlorine combine to form this crap.
 
Anyway, I did this and from that time what has begun has been a constant adding of dichlor and now hypochloride as that is supposedly a super chlorinator and just saturday the pool is finally holding chlorine.  Its been a battle between the two and meanwhile I've been filtering like mad and changing the DE sand to improve filtration.  The gunk and DE that have spewed out of the filter waste into the lot next door is a nasty sight.
 
So yesterday I super super chlorinated and now after balancing the PH, it seems like I have clear water, that is gunk free, but that it is still green and it looks like I have a pool filled with 12,000 gallons of lemon-lime gatorade.  So seemingly if I keep the Chlorine levels high for the next few days, the green will go and it'll begin looking its normal clear self.
 
I sure hope so.  What a PITA but Baquacil was worse.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Welcome Piper!

Here is our new puppy, Piper!



Friday, August 1, 2008

Imminent Lazy and the last of the BIG expenditures

A very eventful and expensive next few days for me.  In order:
 
Today we make our first mortgage payment.  OUCH!
 
Also today we pick up our Scotty puppy from a woman in Freehold who advertised a litter of 3 males and 2 females.  We snagged one of the females for $700.  $700 for a dog!  OUCH!
 
Tomorrow our Lay-Z-Boy couch and love seat gets delivered.  Rockin awesome baby.  Yeah, big price tag too.  OUCH!
 
Sunday, BBQ with Sue's fam.  Good stuff.  Food is good.  YUM!  Maybe I'll swim too.  That would be a novel thing since I have a pool I've been in once.
 
Tuesday, couch we bought for upstairs from JC Penny shows up.  That is the last of the major expenses we planned on.  Thank God but overall, OUCH!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Adrenaline Crash

Its Tuesday and I'm just dead emotionally with zero energy and zero motivation to do anything.  I can only suspect that my body is now telling me that, after days of running on basically Adrenaline, I have expended enough physical, emotional and nervous energy and it now wants me to take a break.  Silly body... there are no breaks, there are only more and more things you must do. 
 
On the To Do list:
1. Get the lawn mower we got as a gift out of the box and put together.  The grass needs a cutting.
2. Figure out what needs to be done with the pool to keep it all nice and clear and clean.  Bacquacil!
3. Get the garage organized
4. Get the lock changed.  No reason other than you just don't know so you do it.  Needs to be done.  Dammit.
5. Continue buying Compact Flourescent bulbs and making replacements.  Since we moved in two incandescents have already burned out.  Weird.
6. Tackle the TV room and get those boxes unpacked nad the shit organized.
7. Figure out furniture needs, prioritize and go get some stuff
8. Get some big item things from my parents house.
9. Figure out what to do with Sue's 5 winter clothes storage tubs (the girl likes her clothes.)
10. Figure out more storage for the kitchen
 
I should have stopped at 8 because usually that's enough (yuk, yuk, yuk) but the list is 10 big things.  And growing.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Moved In

Inevitably, whenever I move, which since college has been maybe every 3-4 years, I somehow always end up landing on what is arguably one of the hottest most humid days of the year, and for this move that trend carried through.  Since Wednesday night when I began packing up and loading out the van for what would be the first move after the closing, all the way until yesterday as i was huffing mattresses around the house, I would estimate I sweated out 10 gallons of fluid to be replaced by water and Gatorade in as nearly close matching quantities as I could.
 
Oddly, my appetite diminished greatly over the time period too and I was skipping (and not missing) meals.  Maybe it was adrenaline... I dunno.
 
So here I sit on Monday, at my desk, somehow alive not having suffered a heat stroke, but mentally dead, and beat overall.  I have to get some multivitamins in me, and get back on my regular schedule in that I also blew off a lot of sleep because I just had so much I wanted to get done. 
 
House is great tho and we were moved in enough to be sleeping there on Friday night.  Now, I look forward to finishing unpacking and getting life back to a comfortable level of settled normalcy.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Homeowner

It's official, we're homeowners.

Closing Day

Woke up this morning and feel great, its finally the day and this arduous process of finding a home and buying a home comes to an end.  For reference, Sue and I began this trek in January of 2007, almost offered on a place in the Summer of 07 but decided to stop, wait and watch instead and now in the Spring of 08 if finally draws to an end.  A crazy long process for us representing all of the needs to save, be smart, watch the market, visit easily 200+ houses, and finally land the one we offered on.  To be sure, we almost offered on 2 others but did not for various reasons. 

Anyway, Closing Day eve was the hardest day of the process.  Racked with anxiety yesterday waiting for the lawyers to call with the final number we have to bring to closing which was at 3:00.  Rushed straightaway over to the bank to discover that lobby hours ended at 3:00.  Had to get a bank check at the drive through and that was entirely strange but successful.  So we're ready.  Walk through at 10:30, closing at Noon, house for years.

Last night loaded up my FIL's van with perhaps 30+ boxes representing about 85% of our belongings here in Wall.  Over the next 3 days we'll get it all over there and hopefully be fully up and in by Saturday night.

DKB said:
I totally agree and I hated that.

Good luck with your closing. This weekend marked one year as homeowners for us. It's been a good year in the house.

Thanks man.  You and I sort of shared this odyssey so we did it.  Here's to us!  Car Bomb toast on Labor Day :)

Frank said:
Well, I would not say that all Realtors are solely after the commission, but they are hired to protect their client's interest. I am glad that you had a good experience with your inspector, which is my profession. Good luck with your closing.

Yeah, I didn't mean to imply that I wasn't well represented my Realtor.  We very much were and he worked incredibly hard on our behalf earned his commission and then some.  That is a profession that has to be one of the worst having observed if for a year and half and one I could never do.  Mostly my sentiment was aimed at the fear they all have of the deal falling through thus they bring that fear to us and that is the sucky part.  Thanks for the well wishes.  Are you a regular reader of the GT?  I see from your website you are in Houston.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Home Stretch

Its Monday and we're now in the home stretch for closing on the house which takes place on Thursday.  And thank God for that!  Buying a home is perhaps the single strangest and most oddly conceived process invented by man.  (Yes, its worse than planning a wedding although as rackets for different folks to dip their hand in the till, they are comparable).  Our first offer on this house took place at the end of April and now, after many weeks of phone calls, negotiations, agita, research, budgeting, more agita, spending, arranging, scheduling and so on and so forth it finally draws to a conclusion.  Exhausting is the only word to describe this nebulous process.
 
I know when its done and life has settled back to its normalcy that, at least I, strive for, it'll have been 100% worth it but it still mentally abrades me, like sandpaper across my elbow would, that this is the process and that people actively participate in it and that in fact some people actually like it.  Here is my breakdown of folks who particiapte in this process and what the shifting feelings are towards them:
 
US
Me and Sue - We're the heroes of this equation, fighting for our future and all that is good and wholesome
Our Realtor - Helps us find the house, handles the initial negotiation, is full of drama, tries to make what should be an unemotional process as emotional as possible.
Our Lawyers - They rock. they take care of everything, they are unemotional, they represent us and overall have made the process smooth
Our Mortgage Banker - On the one hand our mortgage banker was great, on the other hand, they work hard to just get a mortgage written for their benefit.  Overall, they almost fall into the Others category below.
 
Them
The Sellers - Its hard to peg the sellers but overall they invested a lot of love in the house, have fought to protect their interests as much as we fought to protect ours, have been nice and accomodating in many respects, and on the inspection the wife was super nice.  Hard to not respect them.
Their Realtor - I know my Realtor had a tough time dealing with her, but I almost think its the name of the game.  Honestly I don't know.  The one time I met her she was nice enough but obviously Realtors don't have our interests at heart, they say they do but really they want their commission.  Hey, she was good to look at tho. 
Their lawyers - Seemingly much like our lawyers, dependable, no nonsense.  Getting it to the lawyers and getting it out of the Realtors hands is job #1.
 
Others
Home Inspector - Thanks to Matty, the home inspection was top notch.  My sisters used my Realtors guy and they regretted it because that guy was the Realtors animal and not theirs and his interest was in making sure nothing killed the deal.  Our guy, Dave Matthews, went and did a super thorough job.  Go Dave Matthews!  He mostly confirmed it was a good house and we had few repair issues to deal with.
Termite Inspector - Recommended by the inspector, Matt's Pest Control  was also top notch.  Being named matt made it an omen I think.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Swinging Pendulum

Life has been hard.  Buying a house is hard, work has been hard, dealing with friends and family health issues has been hard, living with in-laws is hard, etc. etc. etc.
 
Well, this week, it feels like the pendulum has now begun to swing in the other direction.  We completed our inspection yesterday and there is a lot of hard work left on the house but for the most part it seems as if the really really hard stuff is over, at work I got promoted and I'm now Director of Web Design and Development and that couldn't have come at a better time.  Matty's health seems good after talking with him about what he's going through and his current prognosis.  Sue's dad we're still worrying about because he is still slated for surgery ina few weeks so not great but not (hopefully) terrible.  The living with in-laws is almost at an end with us nearing, everyday, our closing date. :)  So all is really good right now and I press forward, stronger, happier and hopefully remain healthy

Friday, May 9, 2008

Waiting is the hardest part

There is that old song with the line that croons out... "Waaaaaaiting is the haaaaaardest part...."  I think its Tom Petty and I really hate Tom Petty and I hate waiting and after 5 days of Attorney Review, that's all  I continue to do: wait. 
 
I don't know how long it will ultimately go and I feel like I'm in a bit of a blackout in regards to all the status of whether I'm going to end up shelling out a shitload of money or not but on it trudges with a life of its own.   Eevryone seems to be making plans but me.  The lawyers do their thing.  The realtors theirs.  The mortgage people have their forms they need signed.  The sellers seemingly are making plans based on the daisy chain of info that reaches me through the realtors so it looks like an actually home purchase transaction will, in fact, occur but I'll be damned if I can understand what the actual hold up with the attorneys is.
 
So anyway, its Friday and I would heavily doubt any more movement will occur this week regarding the contract.  Its only 2:30 so maybe I shouldn't be so pessimistic but what the heck.  I guess I could call my lawyer and pester him but it will really serve no purpose.  The guy's been our family lawyer now for at least 2 decades, maybe more, and if he had anything to tell me, he's call so i think I'll just leave him be.  Me getting on the phone and looking for a status won't get this done faster.
 
Man, I'm tired.  Waiting is hard and draining.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Life Update

Its been a long time since I blogged but I have my excuses, life has been crazy busy and I just haven't been in a writing mood.  Mainly its all about houses as Sue and I had put pedal to the metal and have been house hunting like mad. We've probably been in over 100 houses and probably evaluated 3x that many overall.  What a draing trip lasting a little over a year.

Last Monday, she and I put out an offer on a bi-level in Brick and now, after a surreal week of negotiations, we have a verbal deal in place, the owners were supposedly to sign the contract last evening, my realtor should get it today and off it goes to the lawyers for attorney review on Monday.  A lot can seemingly happen between now and clearing Attorney review, like I don't even know yet if the contract is signed, but we're guardedly happy and excited at this point but also know this can still fall apart.  You'd have to understand the negotiation to really appreciate why we're so reserved in our enthusiasm but I do have positive feelings that all of this will come to pass.  If it does I'll be overjoyed because its a really great house and one we couldn't have even taken a sniff of a year ago, the market has changed that much.

Obtaining a mortgage has been an adventure as well.  Financially Sue and I are solid with solid savings and credit history but like Tree mentioned, the downpayment requirements for a conventional have gone up.  Ocean County was recently designated a "depressed county" by the PMI companies so getting a mortgage with 5% down is out.  10% is now the minimum and while we could handle it, I didn't want to put down that much.  Sue and I switched from a conventional to a FHA since its our first home and are still putting the 5% down even tho we could have gone as low as 3%.  FHA can be troublesome to get approval on and putting down the 5% makes it that much more of a no-brainer on the approval so we opted to do that.  I have other reasons for putting down the 5% too, like simple saving that little bit more on the monthly payment. 

Anyway, today we should know about the contract so I'm hopeful.

I also hope we hear something about Matty who is also very much on our minds.  Hang in there buddy.

Cancer has reared its head within our family too.  Sue's dad has prostate cancer, diagnosed this week, and now he and my MIL have decisions to make regarding his treatment. My father had a scare back in December with his prostate but the biopsy came up benign but my mom, who is a retired RN, did a massive amount of research so our 2 families are now getting together to pass on this information so hopefully it will benefit my FIL.  Its been caught very early so his prognosis is good, its just a question of what treatment to pursue.

Professionally, life is good.  CFO magazine is coming out with an evaluation of 401(k) providers and did a special review of the web interfaces of my company, ExpertPlan, plus a few dozen of our competition.  Well, in the 2 areas they evaluated, Participant and Plan Sponsor access, we scored #2 overall in this review and its a major thing for me since this is basically an evaluation of our front-end interfaces which my group develops.  Go us!  Hopefully it means a promotion for me at some point. ;)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Terminator

Ask anyone who knows me well and they'll all agree that I'm not a TV watcher.  I like movies, I like sports, I like educational crap like what's on History or Discovery but not "Television" by which I mean recycled network garbage. 
 
But because I'm not totally closed minded, there are some things I watch:  Mad Men, 24, Entourage and Prison Break (although I'm not as interested in PB now) but the show that really has me hooked and is one of the truly coolest things on TV is Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.  Last night was the season finale and it rocked and the imagery at the end of the 2nd hour was so powerful as to litterally make my stomach feel a bit upset as the FBI raid against the Terminator Cromartie failed.  The entire sequence was shot to the music of Johnny Cash and all you see of the carnage of the failed FBI raid is FBI agent after agent being tossed dead into a pool where the perspective is from looking up from the bottom.  All you hear in addition to the music was muffled blasts, yells and gun shots.  Really really powerful stuff.  Scary too.
 
Anyway, the season was great although too short but it ended perfectly.  I'm looking forward to season 2, hoping there is one.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Of Joomla and Message Boards

Some time ago i did an installation of the Joomla Portal on my server and put a larky little site up called True Outlets New Jersey.  I wrote like 3 articles but then basically forgot about it.  Not terribly long ago I started getting a response here and there to some of the stuff I put up and I was like... wow, this thing is actually being visited.
 
So I checked the stats and with almost no work put in whatsoever, it has a few thousand visits.  So I'm like: Cool!
 
But being emailed by strangers... I don't like that and in my world that equates to Bad.  So I decided hey, time for a message board.  After a quick little tutorial on installing components, plug-ins, and mambots in Joomla, I serached out on google a joomla messageboard component and found this one called Fireboard. 
 
Sooooooo easy to install and set-up and the tech is very cool and I like the integration with the portal, blah, blah, blah.  I like it so much in fact that I'm beginning to question what I may need Yuku for in the future for the GreaseTruck.  Why not just put a Joomla installation up with a fireboard, and then run the Greasetruck in a completely self sufficient, self-contained manner.  Yuku restricts certain crap and that bugs me so i guess the True Outlets site is now going to be my beta to see if it's easy and workable and worth the effort to make a third change to the GT message board. 
 
I know if Norm is reading he may be interested in the Fireboard component since his own MB got trashed by virus and spam but for anyone else interested, if can be checked out here:

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Damn, what a week

So tomorrow is the viewing and funeral for Uncle Tom and that will be a hard day and a sad day especially for Sue and my MIL but also for Sue's cousins and Aunt.  Death just sucks.
 
As if this week wasn't depressing and downtrodden enough, I find out within the past 24 hours that 2 friends are divorcing/seperating from their spouses and that's just depressing too.  Oddly enough, I can't think of anyone I know closely that has divorced or seperated so to find out about 2 in such a short period of time... well, it's shocking with everything else going on.
 
I would just like to turn the calendar on February but of course it's a leap year so I have to put up with this miserable cold month one day longer.  Damn you Gregorian Calendar!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sleep Well

Rest in Peace Uncle Tom.  We're all going to miss you and your deviled eggs and your great sense of humor immeasurably.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Dealing with the Stomach

No one on the planet can say "stomach" to me without me automatically thinking of that line from Meatballs where Bill Murray is whispering "Mmmmm. Look at all those steaming wieners. Do you know what they're saying? They're saying, "This is the year that Fink beats 'The Stomach'."
 
Well, for my part, this is the week the stomach beat me.  Last Thursday night I came down with a very acute episode of Stomach flu, and while I'll spare anyone who even bothers to read my blog any of the sordid details, let me just say it was an incredibly draining experience in all ways.
 
What was so crazy about this illness was the suddenness with which it came on.  One moment I was perfectly well, with what I thought was just a bit of abdominal discomfiture, the next moment I'm passed out cold from my blood pressure suddenly dropping followed shortly there after by coming-to to an hysterical wife who thought... well... maybe I was dying.  Well, I wasn't, but the tile on the floor felt so good and cold.  I almost felt like I was back in college after a night with Mr. Len Tuquila.  I digress.  This of course was followed, for the rest of the night, with trip after trip to the bathroom and a night of eating ice chips with my wife who also fell victim to this plague as did all my in-laws.
 
Why am I writing all this?  I dunno really. Maybe I'm a little wigged out by the passing out episode.  To put more of that in perspective, Sue and I had only just gotten out of the car 1/2 hour - 45 minutes before it happened to me... I dread what might have been had it happened while I was behind the wheel.
 
Maybe the reason is that since Thursday my internals have been in turmoil by the shock of the whole thing and I'm still having stomach sensitivity (and other things) and that drinking a cup of coffee may as well be drinking a cup of glass shards.
 
I find the thought of ham steaks to be upsetting and repulsive.  I crave Campbells Beef Surloin Burger Chunky soup and white rice. 
 
Oh, yeah, stomach, you're winning.  But maybe I've quit coffee too since I'm way past the headache stage.  That wouldn't be a terrible shackle to cast off.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

How I Feel About Housing

What a difference a year makes.  It was at about this time last year where Sue and I began our first serious housing foray, looking at houses, going to a lot of Open Houses, talking with banks, brokers, mortgage agents, lawyers, etc.  We were that close to finding a house and making the jump.
 
But in the range we are looking and the areas we want to live the choices were pretty slim so it dragged on and on and then a funny thing happned.  The whole world began to change and I looked at my wife, sometime in April or May, and said to her that we need to stop and sit out the summer.  And as summer winded down, I said to her, we should sit out the rest of 2007 too. And we did and we completely cleared our books of any and all debt and meanwhile socked money away like crazy.
 
So here we are in the beginning of 2008, debt free with a decent down payment amount saved and now, looking at the listings of homes... it's almost shocking to see the difference in homes.  Last year, it was all these crappy run down 2 and 3 BR 1 Bath ranch homes and now, the amount of Bi-levels, Splits and Colonials with 3 and 4 and sometimes 5 bedrooms with 1.5 or 2 bathrooms in decent areas on decent lot sizes is amazing.  And the amount of homes that are simply vacant is noticable although I guess not surprising.
 
So anyway, these are the types of homes we want and watching the market the way we have and the almost obsessive interest I've had in reading about the economy, sub-prime mortgage crisis, recession fears, rising credit card debt and personal bankruptcy increase, the rising price of oil, resulting in the rising price of gas, which in turn causes an increasing rise in milk and foodstuffs costs, leads me to believe that there is a trememndous amount of more pain to be experienced in housing property values. 
 
Now, considering that in December there was an uptick in unemployment (which may not be a cause for alarm but we'll see), and all of the factors above... well, the downward movement in the value of homes simply has to continue and maybe continue big because people can't change how much they pay for gas, they have to buy food, Realtors have to eat too and so they need to sell homes and that means that the people who can buy, the people who are like my wife and I, who are sitting on the sidelines because we refuse to pay for a home at the prices in the market currently because all things remaining the same and living costs rising the way they are and salary only increasing slightly for inflation... well... the housing cost has to give simply because there is a ton of inventory on the market, few buyers and people will only pay what they can afford to pay and that is shrinking.
 
So what does it mean?  Well, what it means is that I'll be a tough negotiator in March April because there is the other reality:  We need to have a place to live and you can't sit on the sidelines indefinitely and time the market for the best deal because timing is bad too.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Techie Nerd IE Object Fix Crap

For the past year and half, Microsoft Internet Explorer, both versions 6 and 7, have had this very annoying issue with controls embedded in <object> tags.  Apparently at some point in the past, Microsoft got sued for using someone else's code (shocker!) for Object handling, and whether they lost or settled, the result was the same for end users.  Microsoft issued a patch which one day and stuck in this "Click to activate control" nonsense, and as a web designer and power Internet user, I've found few things as annoying.
 
Before I get a shitload of responses about using Firefox or Opera instead (or Safari if the Mac gaylords respond), let me be clear that I don't use IE as my browser of choice at home.  I'm firmly in the Firefox camp.  But that said, for the purposes of my job, of which greater than 90% of users of our corporate website use IE, I have to use IE to make sure the site renders correctly and the other web designer here uses Firefox so we cover all of the browser inconsistencies easily during our testing.  One of us has to so it's me because he's too dead set against IE whereas I don't care as deeply even tho I find it preferable.
 
Anyway, this morning I was pretty much on my last straw with regards to this browser issue, not for a work related reason, but rather because of something I've done with greasetruck.org.
 
Well a little Google work turned up the following blog entry which is heavensent news for an IE user:
 
Microsift has issued a prerelease fix for IE which can be downloaded now assuming IE has been updated with some currently released security fixes.  I've gone through it this morning, making all the necessary updated and then downloading and installing the patch and it works like a champ.
 
So if you've suffered like I have with this silly thing for the 1.5 years then rejoice as it's now fixable in the browser instead of some javascript fix in the code.  If you don't care then realize that come April 2008, Microsoft will begin pushing it out automatically to end users.