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A retelling of my life in DC and all the stupid ass sh!t I get myself into...



Vocab

You know, my vocab has gone straight to hell. I am a pretty solid word smith in writing, but on a daily basis words like "snacky" & "drinky" have started invading my regular speech. Maybe I need something in a 'word a day' variety to pepper in some more grammatically correct terminology in my daily speech? Perhaps they still make word of the day TP?

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posted by Cptn S.A. Ho @ 11:38 AM, ,




Handy Man

The house is built and full of stuff. Just b/c it's brand new doesn't mean it's done now does it? Judging by the 400 Lowes/Home Depot/Ikea runs, I'm gonna go with nope. The most recent projects have been some entry level runs into home upgrading. First, living room & dining room dimmer switches. I learned the difference b/t a single pole & a three way wiring set up and I also didn't know that only certain dimmers will actually dim those high efficiency bulbs. Interesting stuff. Next, the house now has two shiny new ceiling fans (master bedroom fan pictured above) on individual switches. By individual, I mean that one wall switch controls the light while another wall switch controls the fan. Speeds are still done on the device itself, but it's nice to know that I can flip them on individually using a wall switch. I had thought about going the wireless remote route, but I really don't see the need at the moment. Perhaps later on, I'll revisit this issue.

The next project, lights on the roof top deck. Went with an ultra-white rope light and attached it using zip ties. Ok, not the cleanest install of my life (don't like the zip ties showing) but the lights look awesome at night. I really think it gives you that on a boat feeling honestly since there are two levels of lights and they only shine down providing plenty of ambient light and not too much to ruin the evening. All of this work is not like wiring in a car, but I'm getting the hang of it. So far, no electrocution!

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posted by Cptn S.A. Ho @ 8:47 AM, ,




Savings

It seems like for the past year or so, I've been saving or cutting back on my spending for one thing or another. First it was for the wedding, ok that makes sense. It's a big event, lets make sure the cash is available. Next it was time for the down payment. Also, very sensible. The more cash up front the more reasonable the payments will end up being. So that needs saving for. Once you get past the down payment, then there are closing costs. Almost like Down Payment 2.0. Again, very sensible. The more money you put in, the lower your payment numbers are going to end up.

Great, those events are over it's time to relax, right? Wrong. Now it's time to boost the emergency savings up to 6-8 months of mortgage payments. That's the rule of thumb depending on who you ask. I've always heard it was six, and the average financial person agrees with that. But Suze Orman has bumped her recommendation out to 8 months. Whether it's 6 or it's 8, it's important to have that cushion and I am now working towards it. It seems like quite a challenging goal, but it will be met. However, watching this pattern, I can't help but wonder... "What's next?"

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posted by Cptn S.A. Ho @ 8:37 AM, ,




First Impressions

Welcome to the neighborhood... finally! Your house has been finished, you've plunked down one of the biggest checks of your life. So, what now? Time to meet the folks in the hood, that's what. In my row of buildings, I've only had a chance to meet my neighbors next door to me in a larger home. They are very nice and have a little dog that doesn't seem to bark very much. Other than them, I've met only one other home owner in my row and shall we say I'm already not a fan. I have every intention of trying to get to know this guy better, perhaps that initial 'I'm an a$$ w/ little man's disease' prognosis was incorrect? Who knows, perhaps we just didn't jive? Other than those two houses, that's all I've met in my row of homes for now. I'm hoping for some more cool folks moving in soon.

In an effort to meet more folks, there was a community get together this past weekend in the form of a cook out. On first glance, there are a lot of pretty people in this community. It looks like most everyone takes good care of them selves and clearly works hard to be able to afford to live here and their life style. Some folks are nice, some are a little standoffish. To be honest, it felt a little bit like the first day of high school walking in there for me. You could clearly see which folks stood off on their little crew that felt they were entirely too cool, you could see the folks that were honestly warm and friendly, and the folks that weren't sure they wanted to be there. So far, the cool kids clearly out number everyone else. I'm sure that's b/c the community has been around for a bit and I'm the new kid coming in, it just takes time to break in.

I dove right in and tried to shake as many hands and meet as many folks as were interested in speaking to me. I'm self admittedly terrible with names, but I hope at future events I'll be seeing some of the same folks so that it will become easier in time. Walking around in the neighbor hood and on the streets, everyone seems very pleasant and nice but in that group setting it did seem to get a little clickie. I'm sure I just have to get to know the folks a little better. In the mean time, I've offered assistance to help out with the community digital forum. I am pretty good with list serves and digital communications, so it makes sense to me. Hope they take me up on it and let me help/get involved.

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posted by Cptn S.A. Ho @ 4:43 PM, ,




Purchased, now let's move.

The long weekend has come and gone and I have emerged a home owner. Please, hold your applause for now. I don't remember the last time I read over so many legal documents and signed my name so many times. The lender even stopped by my closing to see me off. B/t me and you, I think he was sick of me and went out for a happy hour that day knowing that he was finally done with my deal! The overall deal I got I think was good, not that 1 in a million I was hoping for but it was still good.

After a few minutes of some nice down time to just walk around and check the house out, it was time to get down to business of moving stuff in and assembling tons of furniture. Friday, the install & delivery guys showed up. The flat screen wall mounting guy was working on the main floor while the FiOS guy was setting everything up down stairs. As it turned out, they got done at just about the same time so that worked out great! The Alarm System guy was pretty quick and easy too. Just in and out. Next, the washer and dryer delivery was a little more involved. The builders installed the floor pan sideways? No clue why, but luckily there was a trip to home depot to fix that issue right up while the installers got ready. Having never seen an install like this, I had to watch. And I must say, very impressive! The one guy was like a contortionist. The washer/dryer location is just a closet. This guy was BEHIND the machines after they had been installed hooking up all the connections and then climbed up over top of them to slide down the front of the machines and out of the closet. it was nuts!

Along comes moving day, and I thought it'd be super easy. Well, it wasn't too bad but not nearly as easy as I had hoped. The couch, which was being sold at the end of the day, was a total space hog and filled enough of the truck to force two trips. I knew I should have gone with the 26' big a$$ uhaul just b/c! After the first trip and a smooth unload, about 4 of us went to the old place to grab cars and finish up. It actually wasn't bad at all. Now, the unpacking and unboxing and the putting away... that is a tricky one that may end up taking quite some time.

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posted by Cptn S.A. Ho @ 10:16 AM, ,




Loan Companies

Here I am, 2 days away from closing and making that big purchase and who should choose to annoy me? The mortgage broker. They are ALL smiles until you lock the rate at which point they ditch you like you gave it up on prom night. If I have provided you with EVERYTHING under the sun, all the numbers are etched in stone, all the stars have aligned... why exactly can't you provide me with the exact amount I'm going to pay monthly? If I had it to do over again and if this was in my power, I wish I had a conference call with the broker, his assistant, the processor, the title company, and the underwriter at the very start of this process and worked out a time line so I could see who/where the bottle neck was. This entire exercise has basically felt like I'm flying blind and it's only a matter of time until I crash into the alps, financially speaking of course.

What I'm told, is that this is normal. This is how all home loans work. I have no frame of reference, but if this is normal or fast... this is ridiculous.

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posted by Cptn S.A. Ho @ 3:31 PM, ,




Only 3 More Days

...till the biggest purchase of my life. It's not a secret and I've got folks coming to me asking me if I'm excited. Well, yes and no. I mean, YAY new house and it's all clean and shiny and new and (insert more good things here). So, that's what I say b/c I just don't want to be a debbie downer. But to be honest, I'm scared. I've never imagined spending this kind of money on a house. I've done the numbers 50,000 different ways til next Sunday, but it still makes me nervous. Combine that with my current place being completely trashed (I know, all part of moving) and I'm pretty much a wreck. How are you supposed to get excited about a new house if you can't see past how trashed your current place is and how insanely expensive the new place is??

One thing I'm trying to focus on is the investment side of this deal. I do believe this is a good investment, so the thought of a strong return is keeping me sane. I'm not thinking crazy numbers, but perhaps a nice 10%-20% appreciation over 10 years I think is actually reasonable. The miss' & my mom must have lost their damned minds thinking we might see a 50-60% appreciation?!? Not in my wildest dreams would I think that. Don't get me wrong, it would be awesome but prolly not gonna happen.

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posted by Cptn S.A. Ho @ 10:33 AM, ,




Something New

In the months leading up to this new house I feel like I've been (more so) heading in a different direction from most of my friends. Am I finally aging? Am I growing up as they say? I still long for the party life but it just doesn't seem to fit me like it once did. Every time I go out and give it a shot... something just seems off. I can't explain it. So, it appears that it's time for something new for me. I need a new activity so that I can start over as it were. I have no intention of leaving my current friends behind, but as I have tried and tried to continue offering invitations and extending olive branches over and over my efforts seem to be more and more in vain. I don't hold any grudges, but I am disappointed.

I hoped against hope that I could end up being those amazing married couples that just integrate their lives seamlessly and things would just continue on as they were. That just wasn't the case here and I think it isn't the case for the great majority of folks either. So is it growing older? Is it married life? Is it buying a place? Who knows.

Now the question is, what am I gonna get into? Should I learn to fly? helicopters or fixed wing craft could be fun but they are expensive. Perhaps some more close combat fighting instruction? A little violent, but it's good exercise and it's always good to be able to defend yourself. More Jeep stuff? Perhaps some fancy bike riding? This will deff. require some more research. Whatever it is, I hope to meet some good folks out of it to help add to my my social circle friend base.

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posted by Cptn S.A. Ho @ 9:40 AM, ,




My SmartyPig Pickle

Pig Pickle
As the whirlwind that has been me transferring money back and forth and saving for the closing costs is approaching an end, I've managed to over look ony small tid bit of annoying information. I know SmartyPig isn't the fastest bank in the world and I was prepared to wait about a week to transfer the money from there to my checking account. However, as I went to click on Transfer Money this morning, I got an awesome rock-star error. I cannot originate a transfer out of this account until the next week. WTF? It turns out that they require 7 business days after your last deposit into their account to initiate a with drawl which takes yet another 5 business days?!? Wow. I don't even have a good word for how slow that is coming from a bank.

What does that mean?
I'm glad you asked. It means that I cannot get the money out of the SmartyPig account in time for the closing costs.

So... ummm?
I don't know. I'll figure it out if it means marching down to the credit union for a personal loan or finding a loan shark named Vinnie. It's frustrating and this online bank doesn't have any sort of work around for situations when you just cannot wait that long to transfer money. Why they freeze the entire account is beyond me. I will be thinking hard on any further transaction with them, and whether or not I even want to continue to be a member.

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posted by Cptn S.A. Ho @ 10:24 AM, ,




Nada

You know, I've got nothing. Every day, I have felt like I have plenty to say and plenty to write about, but I just haven't gotten past it and put pen to paper as it were. I've been tempted to write recently about the conference I went to a few weeks ago. But beyond speaking of the longer than normal hours & my complete lack of appetite, I really don't feel like I have much to say about it. Other than that, life has just been getting ready to move to the new house.

This week, picked up a new washer/dryer combo and packed some more boxes. Found new homes for my couch, entertainment center, dining room table, kitchen carts, & old receiver. Progress. With the new house walk through only a week away, I'm glad to be getting things done. And I gotta stay on it as the move is only 2 weeks away! I really will miss being able to walk to the metro & the cheap rent that I've gotten used to here. I know the new house will be lovely, but it's sometimes hard to see that when it's clouded by worse commutes and an insane mortgage payment.

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posted by Cptn S.A. Ho @ 10:57 AM, ,




Only 24 hrs in a day?

I've been tackling this concept for months and there has to be a way to have it all:

There has to be a way to do it. I know there is...

posted by Cptn S.A. Ho @ 4:28 PM, ,




Givin it up


Let it be know that I love chicken wings (and I enjoy a good slice of pizza). I don't know when my like of chicken wings skipped the puppy love crush all together and went right into love, but it did. Dipped in gloriously creamy blue cheese dressing... I think I just drooled a little bit. As it turns out, they are actually quite terrible for you. Who knew?!? Well Chicken Wings, along with pizza I'm giving you both up until further notice. You are not helping me fit into my pants and as I cannot afford to buy you AND pants, you must go. I've thought about this for a while, but my need of pants is pretty serious. I mean, how often would I be allowed to sit at the bar with no pants on to order you?

How long will this last? Who knows. There's tons of delicious food out there that I can eat in your place and will have to do so in the unforeseen future. Know that you and pizza will always hold a special place in my heart (probably thanks to the fat deposits built up in my arteries) and in my gut and I will continue to think of you both fondly. Be well you two, and be beloved by the masses during my absence.

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posted by Cptn S.A. Ho @ 1:04 PM, ,




Reaching Out

I'm a strong supporter of reaching out to the people around you to engage them in activities to continue and maintain friendships or casual acquaintances, etc. Hey, let's do this activity or go to that event. You have to make it happen b/c it's not gonna happen all on its own. But when is enough, enough? I mean, at what point do you need to take a hint that all the reaching out you are trying to do is a waste? I'm guessing there's an objective answer to that based on each situation. Too bad there's not a standard form for something like this.

Dear sir, I have attempted to make plans with you on 15 separate occasions over the course of 100 consecutive calendar days. Having broken all of them, I am now free to move on. Have a great day.
Yeah, I don't think it works quite like that. That'd be too easy.

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posted by Cptn S.A. Ho @ 9:29 AM, ,




Productivity of Meetings over time


I have no issue with meetings, in fact, I think they are very necessary to convey ideas to your peers, co-workers, and colleagues. However, if you are going to have a meeting, get to the point! Don't drag on and dilly dally and BS. The chart above is the attention span in a typical meeting over time. If you'll notice, after 60 minutes, people are just counting down till they go to lunch or they go home for the day. My advice, try to time your portion of the meeting to fit into those precious most productive 30 minutes. Get to it, figure out a solution or convey your thoughts and call it a day. This is exactly why I don't understand the need for people to have 3 hour long meetings regularly, you don't get as much done as you think you do.

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posted by Cptn S.A. Ho @ 3:57 PM, ,




Birthday Miss'

This past weekend, it was the miss' birthday as well as a buddies wedding. Unfortunately, I couldn't do both so the wife's birthday trumped it. The weekend went well starting out with some drinks & a movie on Friday night. Took in the latest installment from the Fast & Furious franchise. It was a fun flick but was more an action movie and didn't have as much involvement of fun cars as the past ones did. After the movie, her folks came into town and brought her dog with them for the weekend. I know she was very happy to see her dog and seemed to enjoy her folks company too.

Saturday started off entirely too early for me as I was up at 6am?? Why?? Well, I was able to get some work done before everything got going. After a quick snack for breakfast & some errands it was time for some family time with the folks. Showed them the new neighborhood and the model of the new house and then the actual house (under construction still) and took in a meal at the local pub near by. The food was good, but I mean who doesn't like a lamb burger? But the service was a little slow. All in all, good times. I'm also glad that they approve of the area and the purchase, I mean this is a pretty sizable purchase! "You done good" is what I got and I'm happy with it.

After taking the folks back to their hotel for a bit, it was time for other guests to arrive. One of my friends from NC came up for the night & two of her friends from DE came down for the event as well. While she was on tour guide duty, I snuck off to pick up the cake and take it to the dinner venue on the hush. Sneaky, right? Well I get back just in time to catch a quick shower (despite everyone being there) and get ready for some mellow socializing before it's time to head out. We all did our gifts for her then (I gave her mine first thing in the morning) and she seemed to really enjoy everyone's gifts.

The dinner, which could have been epic, found the whole table with a really slow server. I found out later that it was his first night on his own on the floor? Awesome. I said a few choice words to the GM and service became 300x quicker, but alas there was too little time left in the meal to save it. Regardless, I think everyone enjoyed the food despite the speed of service and I think this issue didn't really bother anyone else as much as it bothered me. After cake and our tab, it was time to head back to the house where folks continued hanging out and socializing well into the night. Me, I was asleep on my feet almost, and actually went to bad after all the family members left.

Sunday morning was quiet since most of the folks didn't stay the night & my friend had to catch an early flight back to NC. After a quick bite of breakfast (for her) at Cosi and some good byes, she was at the airport and I was off to have a good bye brunch with the in-laws. The food was derish, but then again it's iHop... it's what they do! But the server forgot some food and messed up an order. If you were keeping track, that's 3 meals in a row with the in laws that have been screwed up in some form or fashion. Not sure what the deal is, I go out pretty regularly and never have trouble and now 3 in a row?

Despite the service at the restaurants, I think this weekend went about as good as I could have hoped for. Everyone enjoyed the gathering and she enjoyed seeing her dog and her gifts. Overall, I call it a success and I'll take it.

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posted by Cptn S.A. Ho @ 8:33 AM, ,




Wednesdays

Ah Wednesdays... you used to be my favorite party day of the week hands down! You even took out the coveted Thursday spot, which might I tell you is no easy task! Now my party day is... ummm... hold on, let me think... it's uhh... Well, you get the idea. In the whole process of getting married and now buying a house, I sometimes feel like I was torn out of that other life. It was the only life I knew, it was a blast (repeat sooooo much fun), but it was very destructive in the long run. I think that's how it had to happen. Picture ripping off a band aid, do it fast so it ends up hurting less. Any other way, and I probably would never have left.

Being more responsible is good and saving a ton of money for this beautiful new house is good too (saving a ton of money by not partying in general). Building something together with some one, a life and a home are all excellent things. But is it so wrong of me to still reminisce on all the good times I had all those nights back to back (to back)? I guess Wednesday evenings are just nostalgic nights for me when it hits me the hardest.

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posted by Cptn S.A. Ho @ 9:43 AM, ,




Settlement Date

Ever since I put a contract on this new house I keep talking about, the company selling/building it would not release when it would be ready. So, I did a little math and little research and a lot of guessing to pick a date off the top of my head. They date was just officially released today and wouldn't you know it... I was dead on!! The settlement date I guessed 2.5 months in advance is the exact day it's going to be! I'll be glad when I'm all moved in and the electronics are all wired, clothes put away, etc. I'm ready to kick my feet up and watch my big a$$ TV in the new house already.

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posted by Cptn S.A. Ho @ 2:03 PM, ,




Happy Friday!

Today is a very quiet day after a busy week. Feels like there has been something going on or someone stopping by quite a lot lately. I'm totally ok with that & enjoy it. But now, it's time for a quiet weekend. I think I might fire up the crock pot and and try my hand to make a big 'ol pot of beef stew. Yum! Who doesn't like a nice hearty stew served with crusty bread?

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posted by Cptn S.A. Ho @ 10:52 AM, ,




The Old Apartment

As the house is getting closer to looking like a real house (I think a garage door is the next step), I'm starting to look around and get a little nostalgic for this place. I mean, I REALLY like this apartment. I think I've been here like 3 years now?

The other day, I was a little bored and wondered just how big my apartment really is. So, I made a crude picture using power point and broke out my tape measure to figure it out for myself. Man was I shocked to learn it was only 790sqft! It feels so much bigger than that. I used to live in a 1 bedroom that was 690sqft and I felt like I was tripping over myself every time I turned around. I guess it's all in the lay out and how much stuff you have, right? Right.

This IS a great place, but it's not always sunshine and puppies. I've also made a list of a few things I am really NOT going to miss about this place:

You know, that's about it. This really has been a great apartment. Lots of good times. Great commute, great location, & it didn't break the bank every month. No wonder this entire building is always full!

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posted by Cptn S.A. Ho @ 11:26 AM, ,




Morning Run

While I write this post, let it be known that I hate mornings & running. I do. Always have. The bit about mornings has gotten much better over the years, I used to be the guy who would chew you out if the phone rang before 12pm on any given day of the week! Then again, I was working nights so it was different. Looking around at my life and my schedule these days, it's starting to look more and more like the (semi-)wee hours of the morning are my only choice when it comes to working out/fitness and time to myself.

My days are full of being at the office with no gym on site. Besides, who wants to come back to work all sweaty after lunch even if I did have a gym? Never understood that. After work, there always seems to be some errands that need to be handled or events to attend to TRY to hang onto what remains of my social network. I'm not complaining, just stating a fact. The evenings, assuming the social engagements are over, are spent putting quality time into the marriage. Marriage vs. living the single life requires a lot more time, energy, and attention.

Since I can't get a work out by sleeping, that leaves me with early mornings. I don't like it, but I am starting to get into a little rhythm. Leave the shoes/shorts by the bed at night so they are ready as soon as I step out. Assuming I take a right out my front door, the run starts off downhill and I'm off. I won't lie, rolling out of bed an hour or so before I have to sucks. I do find myself staring at the clock, then my shoes, then the snooze button many a morning. Some times (often) the snooze button wins.

But, I know I feel better after I run and that is my strongest weapon to get off my a$$ and get moving. I feel like I've done something positive for my health to start off my day. Oh, don't get me wrong... I still hate mornings even with all that feel good mumbo jumbo I just spouted, but that seems to be the only time I have left.

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posted by Cptn S.A. Ho @ 3:40 PM, ,