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12:34 AM, Feb 3, 2007 toot this
Real Property
Real sudden-like, I am as close as I've ever been to being a homeowner.

Over the weekend that I was sick, Jeff and I toured a couple of condos in various locations around downtown KC. For some odd reason, I had gotten a strange bug in my ear about buying a condo, or at least to see if it's possible. Not really seeing it as something to immediately pursue, but still a reasonable thing to explore for future consideration, Jeff and I walked through a bunch of places.

The one that stuck out the most didn't really occur to me until a good while later. Jeff agreed, should I buy a place with an extra bedroom, to move into it and pay me rent. When we realized that the cost of breaking our lease that is effective until September 1st was two full months' rent and the forfeit of our deposit, we put the idea of moving out of our heads for a while.

Then, last week, I got a dangerous idea and sent an email to the woman that showed us around. I asked her if the agency would be willing to buy us out of our lease if an offer was made. She replied that it depended on the offer. I then mentioned the unit in which I was interested, and her response was pretty telling. She wrote, "We'd love to sell you that one!" Her poker face seemed to melt away, as it became apparent that the unit sitting vacant for over a year had created some motivation to get it sold.

I plan to offer almost fifty thousand dollars less than the asking price, and if it doesn't work out, I walk away. I have nothing to lose by being told no, and waiting could possibly work in my favor anyway. So I don't see any reason to push into a situation that is more demanding than I want. I have already received very good indications from the sellers, as to the current disposition of the downtown condo market and its effect on the unit in question. When she showed it to us, she remarked upon looking at the price in her cheat sheet that it was "way overpriced." She also made sure we heard her say that the current real estate environment is definitely a buyer's market. The aforementioned exclamation point served as the icing on the cake. I will make this offer.

I have been approved for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with palatable terms. I'm ready to make a real offer. It's going down on Monday evening. But here's the bottom line. If everything goes according to the magical storybook, they will accept my possibly overly optimistic offer, buy me out of my lease, and make me a homeowner. If they don't, then I go back to be a potential homeowner for a while. I personally think the chance of everything working out the way I want is remote, even though so far, everything has worked that way.

I just hope I can sleep in the meantime.

UPDATE - 2/7/2007

They did not accept, and countered with 30K more than my offer. I have talked to a lot of people, and the general consensus is that I'm an idiot for not countering back. So I ran some numbers this morning, and found that increasing my bid by 15K would cost me an additional $100 in monthly payments, and that's acceptable. I sent the counter-offer along about an hour ago.

6:28 PM, Feb 7, 2007 toot this
I offered.

They countered.

I countered.

They countered.

I accepted.

I am about to be a homeowner.

I hate moving.

9:05 AM, Feb 13, 2007 toot this
I'm back in KC, and a winter storm was awaiting my return. I had a slow, sloppy ride down from the airport last night, and another this morning in pseudo-traffic. I have a pile of work waiting for me here at the office, but I'll try to find time to assemble my thoughts enough to write up some day-by-day entries from this past excellent weekend in Boston.

Stay tuned.

9:11 AM, Feb 13, 2007 toot this
EBF 2007: Thursday
I got up earlier than usual, even though I was out the previous night until almost 1am, celebrating good fortune and imminent home ownership at Willie's and then on to the Quaff. I managed to get into the office earlier than most of the rest of my team, and actually got right to work. As I learn more at this job, I get busier and busier. I cut out at about 11:30am to complete the prearranged half day. I went home and ate a take-home hamburger from Grinders from earlier in the week, packed, and climbed into my filthy, filthy car to go to KCI.

I got on the plane about ten minutes late, and we took off 35 minutes late, but still managed to land on time in Boston. The meals on Midwest Airlines used to be the pride of the industry, with complimentary drinks, individual attention, and a personal touch that no other airline would offer. Now, I find that it's little different than any other airline, except that their seats will accommodate fatter people than most. They still make cookies for the passengers, but I don't really see that as an advantage.

I was hungry, so I opted for the $5 lesser meal: a chicken salad tapas wrap. What it actually turned out to be was quite a disappointment, especially for five of my dollars. It was a cold chicken slime in a crumbly piece of something that passed for a pita, with a side of what appeared to be a half-completed portion of stale potato chips. However, as disappointing as the food was, they didn't even have enough of it. I was in about the middle of the plane, and they offered food to about six rows behind me, my row, and on until about four rows in front me before they announced to the assembled passengers that no more food was available. Roughly two thirds of the plane had to go without.

They passed out cookies soon afterward, and as I read, I felt my eyes beginning to droop. I set down my book and made such comfort as I could in the airline seat I had. I hovered about 80% asleep for about an hour, and woke up to my ears popping as we made our descent into Boston. All things considered, it was a nice flight. Also let it be known that I will continue to use Midwest for this route, as they are the only carrier that offers nonstop service between KC and Boston.

Fate conspired against Julia meeting me at the airport on Thursday, as we had arranged, manifested in a serious injury at her plant that required her attention for the remainder of the usable day. So I hopped on the Blue Line at Logan to Government Center, where I caught the D-line to Brookline Village. I dragged my suitcase up a couple of streets in startling cold, before Carl appeared across the street to walk me the rest of the way back to his place.

We dropped off my effects and made a beeline for the Publick House, a brisk fifteen minute walk away. We enjoyed some food whose nature I don't remember, and were joined by a friend of Carl's named Denise. The beer, as with many places I was to visit this weekend, was excellent. I had a delicious beer from Boulder Brewing called Mojo Risin'. It was hoppy and malty at the same time, and reminded me at once of Dogfish Head's 90-Minute IPA. We enjoyed more beers, and stayed out far later than Carl had intended, considering he had to work in the morning.

Slightly numbed to the cold, we walked back to Carl's after we called it a night. I fell comfortably and heavily asleep on the extra bed they had in their surprisingly gigantic apartment.

9:17 AM, Feb 13, 2007 toot this
1 comment »»
EBF 2007: Friday
I awoke fully rested to an empty apartment at about 9:30am. I plugged my laptop into the network and Carl's place and browsed some internets for a while after showering, and then packed all my stuff into one place. I walked out the door at about 10:30am, determined to make the walk from there to the Back Bay, where Carl works. His current office is oddly located within sight of the office of his previous employer, along Boylston Street. Julia was still occupied with the injury mess of the previous day, and would not be able to join us for lunch. Carl and I tried to get a quick lunch, but the staff at the place we went seemed determined to delay us. It took fifteen minutes to get our orders in, and another twenty five to get our food.

Carl and I walked back to his office, and I announced that I was going to head up to Cambridge. By the time I had gotten down to the platform at Berkeley, over to the Park stop, switched over to the Red Line, and spirited up to Harvard Square, it was already 1:45pm. I called Julia, and she said she was leaving work momentarily, and would meet me at a place of my choosing. I chose Shay's, just down the street from Out of Town News, and Julia met me there about an hour later. We enjoyed a beer or two before heading over to Bukowski's to eat and have some more beer.

On the way there, I broke Julia's expensive GPS direction-giver by yanking the cord out of joint. I felt terrible as I fed fresh batteries into it. Amazingly, it only runs for about 30 minutes on batteries. I suppose I won't need to be sorry to anyone but myself soon, as I will probably just have to pay for a new one. It doesn't look like a device that can be repaired.

While we were enjoying some wonderful beers at Bukowski's, we enjoyed the excellent hospitality that's evident throughout most of Beantown. Why the hell do they call it "Beantown," anyway? While we were there, we had some of the best beers available on the East Coast, including, but not limited to: Hitachino Nest Red Rice Ale, Brooklyn Smoked Weissbock(I think I'm missing one word), Lagunitas Censored Ale, and more that elude my memory. In any case, we had a great time.

While we sat there, Julia sent and received many text messages to(I refuse to type, "to and from") her friends regarding the preplanned bowling event that had been planned that night. In the course of the planning, a figurative wrench was thrown into the works. In actuality, it was a truck, but the works turned out to be the salon above the bowling alley. So, to be completely clear, a truck hurled itself into a building in a position to make ruining our chances of bowling in the place downstairs impossible.

Julia and her friends dealt with this reality while I peed at least once. Without even consulting me once, the Council of the Unknown determined that instead, we would convene at a place in Cambridge called "Lanes & Games." Yes, it had an ampersand in its name. Despite semantic issues, we found its address, and adjusted our plans thusly. Julia and I made a quick stop back at her place to drop off my stuff and allow her to change clothes.

Julia had arranged in the meantime, that we would give her friend Andria a ride that night, as she lived, "close" to Julia's apartment. It's ironic that Julia considers it a short distance, because she lives in the Boston area. In actuality it was several miles, and almost completely unwalkable. About three minutes before our projected arrival at Andria's place, Julia received a highly unwelcome phone call. Against all odds, another person had managed to injure themself her plant.

With some quick goat-thinking, Julia came up with a new plan when we came to a stop at the door of Andria's apartment building. Andria came outside and two bombs were dropped. One was that Julia would ask Andria and me to continue without her companionship, as she headed into the office for hours of ridiculous crap. The second bomb, which completely invalidated the first in my reckoning, was that Andria possessed many of the traits held in high regard by the superficial male. Indeed, it was difficult to keep my mind on the matters at hand when faced the alarming reality that she was really attractive.

So I climbed into her car, dangerously oblivious to the fact that she was a complete stranger, blinded by her stupid eyes and her damned smile. We forced some conversation until we happened upon an actual topic. Andria is from the Pittsburgh area, and right now, Pittsburgh is dangerously close to losing its beloved hockey team to Kansas City, where on a previous occasion it was apparently revealed to Andria that I live. I made my position known, that I had no interest in Kansas City getting an NHL team by poaching off another city. From that point on, Andria seemed more civil with me.

When we got to the bowling concern, we were informed that it'd be an hour or more before a pair of adjacent lanes opened for our use, so we took a couple of seats in the second-floor bar of said concern. At about that time, we were joined by Dave and Polly, some more people that knew Julia through some way or another. It's not like it made any difference though. Any pre-existing relationship Julia may have had was completely irrellevant. I was on my own. Not one to buckle under pressure, I brought up the topic of urban development and infrastructure to them, and Dave was more than willing to dive in. Polly and Andria found it compelling enough to at least feign interest, if they weren't actually interested.

Things were starting to get entertaining when our lane reservation was called. We waited for perhaps twenty five minutes of the projected hour. I honestly wish we'd had more time, because the conversation was real and nice, and it never resurfaced after that. As we waited for the noticably slow and possibly incompetent staff to set us up with our allotted lanes, Julia joined us. The problem that called her away turned out to only be a bored factory worker hitting his funny bone. While certainly a waste of her time, she was definitely not called away for as long as she would have been if an actual injury had occurred.

We played candlepin bowling that night. It's a lot like regular bowling except that you get to throw three balls per frame, the balls are smaller, and I absolutely suck at it. I came in dead last in both games we played. Carl and Mike joined us after a confused run around Cambridge looking for the place, and once the playing was over, the assembled party piled into cars and left for Allston, where we filled in some more of the blanks of Boston beer bars, and went to the Sunset Grill, a popular spot with something like 110 draught selections.

We called it a night after the staff at the bar chased us out, and after Julia informed me that Andria was deeply entrenched in a relationship. It was a lovely evening. Friday was fun.

11:41 PM, Feb 18, 2007 toot this
New First Window
Sorry about the lack of info about the rest of the Boston trip. I'll get it up as soon as I can. I actually have a whole bunch of catching up to do on this website. But one big difference between this year and last is that I now have a job that demands my attention for most of the day while I'm at work. I'll try to get you that stuff, but I make no promises.

I went into the office last night, so work even ate up some weekend for me, this week. I went in to help out with an crazy number of server reboots. As would be expected, there was a big disaster on the very last server I was slated to patch and reboot, and I didn't get out of there until after 4am. I was happy to help, but my energy was completely sapped. When I got home I fell asleep almost as soon as I hit the pillow.

9:17 AM, Feb 26, 2007 toot this
EBF 2007: Saturday
Julia and I awoke up at our leisure on Saturday morning. During one of my many duckwalked runs to the bathroom, Julia turned on the TV to some all-day marathon of a Spanish-language gameshow that involves competition, athletic excess, and public suffering. The studio audience ate it right up. We couldn't stop watching until 1pm rolled around, when our grumbling stomachs forced us out the door and into the world or, more accurately, Saugus.

After some Italian subs, we went to Julia's church in Charlestown, and listened to a priest with the thickest New England accent I'd ever heard inside a church. After that, we hastened over to Bunker Hill Community College, where we dumped the car and hopped on the T's Orange Line. The wind was merciless as we stood on the platform, and for the second or third time in 2007, it started to snow.

We stepped off the train at the bustling Back Bay station. From its size, I would guess it's a multi-modal facility, connecting buses, transit trains, commuter rail, and possibly Amtrak. When Carl, Mike, and I went to the Extreme Beer Fest in 2005, we got lost plodding around the Back Bay in four feet of snow, and as heavy traffic as ever. In 2007, Julia and I found it with absolutely no trouble. We met Carl standing in front of the Cyclorama at 5:20pm, forty minutes early.

Julia and Carl were both hungry. I was not for some reason. But to quell their wicked stomach pains, we went to a little deli across the street, and returned to the front door to see a gigantic line had formed. The temperature had dropped noticably too. It was especially noticable as we stood stationarily in line as we waited for the doors to open at 6pm.

Cold aside, I was having a great time. Julia and Carl and I had no shortage of things to talk about, and people around us chimed in on occasion, and before we knew it, the line was chuggling forward into the opened doors. After several ID and ticket checks, we were at large with tasting glasses and a staked-out tall table. I got right to it.

I drank beers from Dogfish Head, Avery, Berkshire, Smuttynose, Stone, Lagunitas, Ithaca, Sly Fox, Goose Island, Troeg's, Cambridge, Stone Coast, Offshore Ales, Milly's Tavern, and others I cannot remember. The beer was excellent, but it's not what I remember most about the evening. The entire weekend was filled with great beer, so the beer at the EBF was mainly just icing on the cake.

One thing I noticed this time that I didn't notice before was the numbers of beer geeks in attendance that were actually big geeks. Like, socially awkward geeks. White, bearded dudes that despite their love for excellent beers, apparently don't get out very much. This struck me as odd. I had previously considered a beer geek(such as myself) to be a different animal than a standard geek. Seeing as beer is not generally available on tap(the preferred conveyance for beer) except in bars and taverns, becoming a fan of it would generally require some time spent in social environments.

This prerequisite looked as if it had eluded a great number of the portly, grizzled attendees of the festival. As with many things, it was not as excellent as I remember it being when I first went in 2005. Maybe it was Julia's presence, but I doubt it. At the first fest, meeting people seemed almost effortless. At this fest, people kept more to themselves, and the only people we really talked with were the ones that used our table to assemble themselves or eat.

That said, we still had a great time, and astoundingly, nobody got tipsy at all. I had previously assured Julia that there was nothing she could do to avoid the inebriation at the fest, but we all managed to avoid it, and still have nigh on ten tastes apiece. It was extremely tiring though, so we were happy to have a seat anywhere, including the Hard Rock Cafe down the street. There we made a half-hearted attempt at keeping the beer going, but found that we were barely up to the task of drinking the single beers we'd ordered.

Julia and I got back on the train to Bunker Hill, got her car, and went home.

4:00 PM, Feb 26, 2007 toot this
Teh Harbls
In the last couple of months, my friends and especially coworkers and I have been passing around pictures of cats in various poses, with captions inlaid. We look at these, and laugh uncontrollably, clutching stitches in our sides, because of the comic genius of placing relevant hackerish, fanboyese, IM-type text in the picture. Even as I type this, I'm laughing about one such picture, but when I was having a drink with Chris on Saturday, he brought up an excellent point. Not everybody would find these pictures even remotely amusing. Many would just find them stupid.

Chris elaborated that it takes a certain understanding of leetspeak and of idiots on the internet. After showing these pictures to a number of nontechnical people, I have concluded that the non-geeks just don't get it. And that's fine. It's better that way.

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