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I called my mortgage broker who said it was no issue to raise my budget for houses, so I’m doing just that. I found a good rule of thumb is for every $1000 extra you want to spend, it’s an additional $6 monthly payment.

I told my realtor that and got back a listing of 81 possibilities. 81! Looks like opening up the budget has opened the door to more possibilities. And these are actually decent ones, too. It’s almost like there are “tiers” in the housing market - sort of like tax brackets. Certain types of houses will be found at certain price levels. I think I’ve found the price level I was meant to be looking in to begin with. Lots more that look good to me here.

Jenn and I went over the list of 81 last night and whittled them down to 21 that we want to see more information on. Not sure how much further down we can cut the list, but that does mean a full day this weekend driving around looking at places. Maybe this weekend will be the one?

personal comments edit

I’ve realized for quite some time that I just have too much stuff to remember so things end up falling through the cracks. The latest issue I’ve run into is the fact that so many things out there require so many different passwords that I can’t keep them all straight. Either you end up using the same password for everything or you start forgetting what all the passwords are that you’ve registered places.

To that end, I started investigating different options. At first I liked the idea of this hardware keychain you can get from Mandylion Labs where you just cart the keychain around and look things up on it that way. There were only two problems: first, it only holds 20 passwords and I need it to hold more than that; second, it’s like $65, and I don’t feel like investing that much.

I decided the best way to go was a password management program, but then you run into the problem that you can’t cart your computer all over the place, so you need the thing to be self-contained either on your handheld computer or on a USB keychain drive. Since the keychain drive is more portable (and I happen to have one), I went with that.

What I came up with was Password Manager XP from CP-Lab.com. You can install it on your local machine and then store the database on your USB keychain, or you can create a local copy of the program itself right on the keychain. In my case, I did both - that way, regardless of where I run it from (my computer or the keychain), it’ll connect to the password database.

It also has features like the ability to right-click a password field on a web page and insert your password directly from the database (and then copy your username to the clipboard so you can paste that in, too).

And it only costs $20. Which is just about right for my pocketbook. Er, wallet. Whatever.

I’m digging it. Now I can actually change all of the passwords I have everywhere and not have to worry about forgetting - I’ll just look them up.

General Ramblings comments edit

My weekend, albeit three days long, was like something out of a certain Judith Viorst book. Where do I even start?

Saturday morning Jenn and I woke up at around 5:30a. Not of our own volition, mind you, but because the neighbor’s alarm clock is pressed up against our common wall and went off at 5:30a. It turns out the neighbor didn’t want to get up at 5:30a, either, so he hit the snooze button. Again. And again. The alarm went off every nine minutes for two and a half hours.

We took the day to drive around to the nine or so different properties that our realtor had sent us so we could weed out the ones we just weren’t interested in. You know, to save time on Sunday actually walking through these things. We whittled them down to two houses, one of which we loved in the pictures.

Saw a sign on our travels at a jewelry/pawn shop that said: “Stay out of the doghouse wit bling.” Is that even English? What is the world coming to?

Sunday we went out with the realtor, who is not our usual realtor, but his partner, and she had come up with another house for us to visit, which was good because one of the two houses we liked had an offer on it so we couldn’t go in.

We went to the other house we had looked at on Saturday and, while we liked it on the outside, the inside would need some serious work to bring it up to our standards. No, thanks. Not for that price, anyway. Plus, the floor plan just wasn’t what we were hoping for. Usable space wasn’t so prominent… lots of “walkways” and things.

We started off toward the house that the realtor had found, but not only was it pretty far out from where we wanted to be, but it was right by train tracks, which is not something I need to be a part of. So the search continues.

Looking at the real estate listings, it seems that I’m going to have to raise my spending limit for houses. The stuff we’ve been looking at doesn’t fill our requirements, but the stuff that fills our requirements is just slightly outside our price range. So ramen noodles may become a staple at our house, but it will be our house, so I guess that’s the price you pay.

We figured we should enjoy eating out while we could still afford it, so we went to the mall and ate in the food court. Yeah, it’s not high class, but it’s reasonable. Plus, I love the Cajun Grill. (I also picked up a couple of cheap PS2 games - Space Channel 5 Special Edition and Beyond Good and Evil. Both are pretty cool, but I have to admit I’m entranced by Beyond Good and Evil. I can’t not play.)

When we got home from house hunting there was a message on the phone. It was for Jenn, from the bus driver who would be the only witness to the front-ender Jenn got into (thus, would be the person who could vindicate Jenn and bring out the truth that it wasn’t her fault): He doesn’t remember anything.

That’s not going to be so helpful, methinks.

Monday we figured we’d paid our dues, so we decided to return a couple of movies we had rented, drop some stuff off at our storage unit, and then come home and relax.

We went into the kitchen to get some breakfast and were greeted with a huge puddle of yellowish liquid in the middle of our stove range. The vent over the stove somehow gets water in it when it rains and it runs down the pipe, collecting grease, and deposits itself on the range. We filed a maintenance ticket for that, but apparently that never got fixed. Mental note: go to the office.

We sat down to eat breakfast in the living room and discovered that our friend the woodpecker is back enjoying himself with our chimney, happily pecking out his machine-gun rhythm for all to hear. Mental note: while at the office complaining about the stove pipe, complain about the woodpecker.

Finishing breakfast, we left to go down to the storage unit and drop off some stuff. We got there to discover that someone broke into it and thrashed everything. Stuff that was nicely stacked was out of order; things that were in boxes weren’t anymore… it was insanity. No actual sign of break-in, so they must have jimmied the lock or something. And what did they take? One (1) glass top to a hurricane lamp (not the bottom, mind you, just the top); two (2) Santa Claus candle holders Jenn got from her parents at Christmas (I wasn’t too fond of these, so I don’t miss them, but the principle of the thing still holds). That’s it. They might have gotten some McDonald’s Happy Meal toys I had stashed in a box, but I’m thinking I moved that stuff to a box in our apartment, so maybe not. Even if they did, the total they took was less than $200 worth of stuff. Oh, they did manage to break one of our Rubbermaid storage boxes, so we had to replace that. More of an inconvenience than anything, but give me a break already.

Got home from the storage unit (and grocery shopping, and replacing the Rubbermaid storage container) to find the cat had knocked all of the clean clothes out of the basket on top of the washer and into her water bowl. More clothes to re-wash.

Went down to the office and found out they looked at the leaking stove vent and there’s “nothing they can do about it” - that’s just the way the vent works. Million-dollar idea: Come up with a stove vent cap that’s wind/water-proof but not airtight. You’d think they’d have thought of that by now, but apparently not.

Got home again and realized I forgot to mention the woodpecker.

Now it’s this morning and I went to cut up one of the apples that I bought at the store - I found some awesome, huge Fuji apples that I liked the look of - and it turns out they’re too big for my apple cutter so I have to cut them up with a plastic butter knife.

Oh, and my back hurts really bad because of the lifting and moving of huge boxes of books yesterday in the storage closet, so I think I’m going to have to load up on the Advil.

Things just keep getting better.

I think I’m going to move to Australia.

General Ramblings comments edit

I just finished calling a bunch of job candidates on the phone, doing phone screens to see who we should call back for an interview.

I hate talking on the phone.

It’s sort of like a phobia. I don’t have anything to say to people on the phone. I can’t sit and think about what I’m going to say, or how I’m going to say it, so I end up hemming and hawing about things. If it’s casual conversation, that’s one thing, or if it’s someone I know already, that’s something… but cold calling people I don’t know and trying to talk to them, even on a professional basis, that’s hard for me.

Yeah, it’s a wonder I ever got a date, right? Trust me, it took some balls on my part to call Jenn the first time. Even today, I still avoid calling her if I can, even at home, because I hate the stupid phone. I email her a lot.

So Greg (boss/friend) probably thinks it’s a fucking riot that he’s got me calling people, against every grain in my being, and filing it under the “other related tasks” clause in my job description. I know, I know, I gotta help out and all… but man, I’d so much rather program or draw or work with Microsoft Access or, like, clean the bathroom or something than call people.

Well, maybe not clean the bathroom. But you get the point.

Here’s a question, though - can you legally disqualify a job applicant based on their inability to speak in a comprehensible fashion? Like, if they have such a thick accent or just don’t have the grammar to communicate verbally with you so you understand? That’s not even just ESL people I’m talking about, either, but, say, people who are so into Ebonics or whatever that you just can’t understand a single word they say. Isn’t that a communications problem? Wouldn’t that impact team performance and results? How do you know someone understands the project requirements if you can’t hold a conversation with them?

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Jenn and I drove around yesterday and weeded out the neighborhoods and houses that we didn’t like, and today we went out with our realtor’s partner, Terri, to look at the remaining properties on our “list.” (Gregory, the realtor, is on vacation in Mexico. I’d like to be on vacation, too.)

As it turns out, we had like nine different places on the list to look at, but yesterday we weeded them down to four, and today we found out that two of them are pending sale, so that left two. Which was okay, since we found one house that we were really excited about from looking at the pictures and that one was still available.

We went in that one and I was, to say the least, underwhelmed. I’m not sure if I had built up my expectations too much or if it really just wasn’t the house for us, but we were really disappointed once we got inside.

We didn’t even look in the second house - turns out it’s right next to some train tracks, and I’m so not into dealing with that.

Which means the search continues. I’ve heard that it takes a while, but, man, that one house really had me hoping we could cut this short.

In the meantime, I’ve noticed that limiting my budget (and, thus, my monthly payments) as much as I have has also limited the number of properties that I’ve seen that fit my space requirements. While I at first thought 1500 square feet would be enough, I find that those are barely larger than our current apartment of 1100 square feet, and with the layouts they have, they generally feel smaller. My new goal is closer to the 2000 square foot range, which means I’ve gotta up my spending limit. It may be harder in the first couple of years we’re there, but we’ll manage somehow. If it’s somewhere we can live for several years, I think it’ll be worth it.