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March 31, 2009

Getting It Out

Ok, so I've probably been wearing out the political stuff on Twitter and FB, but... let me see if I can get some of this out of my brain.

I was not impressed with O before the election, but hoped he'd be benign. I had a feeling he was more liberal than a lot of people wanted to believe, but hoped that there'd be the usual checks and balances and government moving at the speed of molasses so that he wouldn't be able to do too much damage.

It's been worse than I expected. And I'm not sure a lot of people are grasping the big picture of what he wants to do in/to this country.

What really put me on the edge was watching his press conference yesterday about the auto industry. Oddly enough, we were at the Toyota service place at the time - getting great customer service.

First there's the whole issue of a president "asking" the CEO of a private company to resign. Unimaginable. To my way of thinking, literally un-American. Now, because it's not fair that the car company CEO was made to quit and not the bank CEOs, well, let's compound the wrongs by making some bank CEOs resign, too.

Now, I'm not saying these people deserve their jobs. I am saying, and will always say, that's none of the government's business. No, they shouldn't have given any of these companies taxpayers money either. The banks and the auto companies should have gone into bankruptcy back in Nov/Dec. The stock market and economy might be doing better if they had. (Water under the bridge I know.)

About 2/3 of the way through the press conference I turned to Nerdstar and asked what is O's real goal with all of this. Shortly after that, he spoke about green/energy efficient cars. Got it. This is about taking over American car companies and mandating they make green cars. Now, just making those two car companies produce green cars doesn't mean the public has to buy them. Well, that's where his broader energy policies come into play. There is plenty of drilling domestically we could be doing, but congress is working hard to make sure that doesn't happen. (They just declared the areas with a big percentage of oil in the West off limits.) Don't like producing our own oil? Fine, then how about building new nuclear facilities? They don't want to do that either. What they do want to do is inflate gas prices so that those green cars are more attractive. We know from last summer that gas prices over $4 are a tipping point. So if they can - through taxes if all else fails - get gas back over $4, and make two American car companies produce green cars, well, they're halfway there.

But, there's those tricky "foreign" cars that are made here in American and are oh so popular. Well, that's easily remedied by taxing those companies/cars, imposing tariffs, and good old buyer incentive programs. (Those are already being talked about in congress.)

So far, and in a pretty short amount of time, O has tried like hell to take over the financial system - dictating salaries of lots of people on Wall Street, not just CEOs of companies who took TARP, and now the auto industry. We know health care and education aren't far behind.

Is there a role for government in any of those things? Maybe. A very limited role.

But more alarming to me is the way O is going about trying to achieve his goals. He talks a lot about openness and transparency. But do you believe if he actually came out and said the end game was taking all of this over and selling only green cars people would actually go along? No. That's why he's using the crisis and pushing things through as fast as possible.

On top of that, congress passed the mandatory community service legislation HR 1388 Give Act. While cutting tax breaks on philanthropy, so there is less private giving, he's making sure government picks up the slack. Because government is so much more efficient at helping people.

Ok Ok. I know this is long. I used to feel that my relationship with my government was live and let live. They could have their power lunches, fail to pay their taxes, take their trips all over the globe, whatever. And I'd live my little life.

But no longer. I feel big government breathing down my neck. And I just wish I knew a real way to make it stop.

Posted by Beth at 11:00 PM
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Shift In Focus

Now that we're fairly certain the house will happen, (I'll only stop worrying when the keys are in my hand!) the focus has shifted this week to getting Nerdstar packed and on her way to OBC.

It's back to Military Wife status for me!

She's got two separate, back to back, Officer Training Courses to go to. The first is BOLC, Basic Officer Leadership Course. It's a lot like boot camp when you first enlist. In-processing, paperwork, lots of physical training and classwork. She'll even be staying in barracks - not sure if she'll have her own very small room, or have to share, or if it'll be an open space type thing. I think this is all quite funny and can't wait for reports! While Nerdstar is actually a very good officer, because her priority, unlike so many in the military she's dealt with, is making sure the people she's responsible for have what they need. Other than that, she's not really the military type at all. She's always late, disorganized, and hates being told what to do.

Anyway, that course lasts six weeks.

Then she's got six days until the next training starts. That training is specifically for Military Intelligence peeps. It's a lot less physical and more classroom stuff. She'll actually have classes in how to make PowerPoint presentations. Heh. This course lasts three and a half months and due to a housing shortage on post, she'll have an apartment off post. Thankfully that's paid for by the army.

She's packing most of her stuff for the first course, but then she's packing the additional stuff for the longer stay. The stuff for the longer stay will just be kept in her car until we drive to the second course location. So in just 24 hours the apartment is already starting to look like a bomb has gone off.

Thankfully for me, she'll also have just enough time to pack up all her clothes and shoes and such before I have to pack the rest of the apartment for the move!

All that said, I'll be very proud of her when she completes these courses!

Posted by Beth at 11:12 AM
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March 30, 2009

Good News

Word came back that the 2nd appraisal came in at 199,000. Thank God. Literally. Yesterday we told Him it was all in His hands anyway and decided to stop worrying about it all.

So, in essence, this took $20K off the price we thought we were going to pay, and should result in a slightly lower interest rate as well - we'll find that out tomorrow. That should bring our monthly mortgage payment to just about what we've been paying in rent for two years.

The new closing date is April 30, only a two week delay.

Now for the packing.

Posted by Beth at 07:18 PM
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March 28, 2009


Looks like we're waiting until Monday to find out anything about the 2nd appraisal.

We've both got mixed feelings about it all at this point. I couldn't even tell you if we've got a 50/50 chance at the house now or not. It all depends on how the 2nd appraisal comes in and what the seller is willing to accept for the house.

It's all out of our hands for now, and the clock is ticking until Nerdstar heads to OBC April 4, and our lease is up April 30.

If the 2nd appraisal comes in at a number we and the seller can agree to, then the closing date is moved back - I don't know exactly how long - due to the house having been sold less than 90 days ago. Why our real estate lady was unaware of that is not clear to us, we think that's something she should have known. With any luck - which we don't generally have - the closing date would only be pushed back ten or twelve days before the end of April. If not then the I'm pretty sure I can extend the lease at a pro-rated amount for a few days, but if we have to extend a whole month, that adds a $400 fee to May's rent. Ugh. Yes, we can just chalk that up as part of the cost of buying a house, but still. So, going forward with the purchase is doable but delayed, which is fine really.

OR, if the 2nd appraisal comes back close to the 1st and the seller won't budge, then no house, and probably no house hunting until Sept. or so when Nerdstar is home from OBC.

Now, that could be a blessing in disguise. We're trying to view it as God looking out for us if this house doesn't come through. We've done everything we can. While there is some uncertainty in Nerdstar's future employment, 95% of the jobs in her line of work are in the DC area. But, there's always the option of her going on some sort of Army orders - as reservist - in some other part of the city.

I think we're both ok with whatever the outcome is. Although, the next six months won't be too much fun for me if the house doesn't work out. I was really hoping for some stability, for the house stuff to keep me busy while she's gone, and for a chance to know where I'm going to live long enough to find a real job again.

So if the house doesn't work out, I'll kinda feel like my life is on hold or another six months. Ugh.

A week from today I'm driving Nerdstar done to Georgia. :-(

Posted by Beth at 02:46 PM
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March 26, 2009

House Math

It turns out the problem with an appraisal of $180,000 means we couldn't get a loan for more than that. So, even though we and the seller might agree to a price of $200,000, it still has to be appraised for that amount. Our real estate lady is trying very hard to get the appraisal either re-done, or a new one done. She says the appraiser dude based his amount on comparing the house to wrong houses.

It could take 48 hours to see if we can get a "better" appraisal. Ugh. Not sure what happens if that doesn't happen. Not sure how low the seller is willing to go. It's not like she can sell it to someone else at a higher price - the low appraisal will always be a problem. Well, unless there's someone out there with lots of money in the bank to make up the difference between the appraisal/loan amount and the asking price.

As for us if this doesn't work out. We're out the money we've spent on the inspection and appraisal. But more than that, we don't really have a back up plan. Nerdstar leaves for OBC April 4 and doesn't come back home until mid-Sept. Yes, I can extend our current lease for six months, but bleh.

One thing that looks certain - even if the appraisal is amended and the price agreed on - the move in date of April 16 will almost certainly be delayed.

Posted by Beth at 02:15 PM
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March 25, 2009

House Buying Snags

I kinda felt things were going too smoothly.

The appraisal came in $40K under the sell price we'd agreed to. That's good for us, but only if the seller agrees to the lower price. At that price we'd have to pick up the closing costs - but that's trading about $3600 for $40K - sounds good to me! We're also willing to negotiate the price and such. Our real estate agent is pissed at the appraiser.

Then there's a second problem. Apparently, the seller is flipping this house. Good for her in this market! But, FHA requires the house be last sold more than 90 days ago. It was only sold on Dec. 30. Not a huge problem, all of the stuff that's already been done still stands - the inspection, appraisal work, title stuff. We just have to re-sign a bunch of docs and give the mortgage man new pay stubs - which I've been keeping just in case.

Our poor mortgage man and real estate lady are working late tonight sending emails and such.

We're waiting to hear what the seller says tomorrow. I'm still optimistic things will go forward. If not, well, what a pain in the ass.

Posted by Beth at 08:56 PM
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Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to Nerdstar!! No big plans, just gonna take her to dinner at one of her favorite little places around here.

It's also her last day at her current contractor job. The good part of that is that she's off work until I drive her down to Fort Benning in ten days. We don't have a whole lot planned, gotta get the cars clean, wash the dog, pack her stuff for OBC and her stuff for moving to the new house, gonna see a movie or two. Things like that.

Posted by Beth at 10:36 AM
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March 19, 2009

More Life

One month from today is closing day on the house. All I can keep thinking about anytime I'm home is looking at everything we own and picturing putting it into boxes - again. I'm pretty good at packing! I also keep picturing the new house and where things are going to go and the few things I'm going to do "improvement" wise when I move in. I cannot possibly express how happy I'm going to be to not have clutter, to have room to put everything away.

There's some weird stuff going on at Nerdstar's work location. The government people are apparently working to phase out contractors - one of which is Nerdstar. That's fine. She doesn't like this job much anyway. But, by law the actual contract company she works for has to have a job for her when she gets back from OBC in September. I'm not too worried about it. Her skills are valuable and someone will pay her well for them. Of course, she's a little worried, but will be too busy at OBC soon to worry about anything other than how to get through the ten mile run - he he he he. She's going to have a week free before heading off to OBC. That means she at least gets to pack up all her shoes!

As for me and my job - it's anyone's guess. I've ended up out at the other office being the MA quite a bit lately. One doctor is there M-W and has fifteen to nineteen patients a day. He's a decent guy. The doctor on Th. has six to nine patients and is a prima donna. Ugh. Then there's the secretary and the nurse. They're actually pretty cool to work with. I make them laugh. But, that gig might be ending - the chick out for the month might come back. Or might not. I'd give it a ten percent chance they ask if I want to keep working out there. The only reason I might have a chance is that they closed the lab part because the hospital next door the doctors do rounds at don't want competition. However, I might could do the blood work and MA stuff. Who knows. I'm just gonna see what the next couple of months bring.

Then there's the road trips coming up. And the moving. So somewhere in there I'll either be working more for my current peeps, or I'll be looking for a job much closer to the new house.

Posted by Beth at 09:10 PM
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March 15, 2009

Road Tripping

Well, we still haven't managed to get Nerdstar out of going to OBC, though there's always a small chance.

Although I'm sad Nerdstar won't be moving in to the new house with me - because that feels all kinds of weird - I think we're both looking forward to the road trips involved with her going to OBC.

April 4 I drive her down to Ft. Benning in Georgia. When she's done there in mid-May we'll drove from there to Ft. Huachuca in Arizona. That means we'll get to spend at least a whole day in Texas visiting family and eating! Then I'll fly back to DC from there so she can have the car. Then Sept. 1 I'll fly back down there so we can road trip from Huachuca to DC and spend even more time in Texas eating - heh!

Posted by Beth at 12:37 PM
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March 13, 2009

New House

Pics here

Five weeks till moving day. Seems like a long time, hopefully time will go fast. I know there's much to do.

Posted by Beth at 12:06 PM
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March 11, 2009

Warning Labels

My Nerdstar should have come with some warning labels. (OK, I'm sure that can be said of any spouse.)

I always joke that if I'd been paying attention on the night we first met, well, things might have turned out differently. I wasn't really planning on keeping her forever, so I wasn't paying attention.

Anyway. Tonight over dinner she tells me about when she was little and would "get distracted" walking home from school and lose her way. Her poor grandma, with traditional Chinese bound feet, would have to come and find her. What distracted her? Puppies, kittens, the candy store, who knows what else. Thirty years later - she's still the same, easily distracted and lost. And when she's "lost" on her way home, most of the time she's been "distracted" by Whole Foods.

Posted by Beth at 08:39 PM
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March 08, 2009

Oh My!

Our offer on the house was accepted! There were two other offers, we beat the closest by $2000 - our real estate agent was right on with the amount we needed to offer!

Now we do the appraisal and the inspection. I'm not too worried about either one. We've got a closing date of April 16 due to the banks being so busy with everything paperwork wise.

This means Nerdstar gets to help pack up her stuff :-) On the sad side, it also means I'll be moving in without her and she won't get to live in her new house until September. We'll spend a little time before she moves deciding what goes where and any small things that might need to be done. The house was recently renovated and we didn't see anything that we needed to change or fix anytime soon.

Keep your fingers crossed the rest of this process goes well!!

Posted by Beth at 03:22 PM
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March 07, 2009

Not A Bad Week

I got called in to work two days this week. That was a good thing. Too much time not working and my brain turns into something evil. I was working out at the other location as an MA (medical assistant). Being an MA is still not a job I'd like, but it's ok for a few days. I miss drawing blood though. Being an MA at this small doctor's office is more about printing up schedules and patient reports and calling for results and stuff. It's like being a secretary. Plus the doctor that's at that location on Thursdays is not very nice, or competent. So why is it usually the case that incompetent people mask it by being demanding assholes?? I work this coming Tuesday out there, too.

The house hunting has been insane. By the time the agent sends us a listing, we figure out which ones we want to see and find a time to do that - the houses all are either under contract or have five to seven offers. Ugh. It's like chasing our tails.

So we met our agent at 9:30 this morning to go look at six more places. We're just having a really hard time finding a floor plan that suits our needs. Either the master bedroom isn't. Or the kitchens aren't any bigger than the one we have in our apartment. And one of my biggest complaints is how cluttered our kitchen always is.

We finally found a house that we liked the floor plan. It has a beautiful kitchen, the family room has a fireplace and the master bedroom and laundry room are all on the bottom level with the family room. The three bedrooms upstairs will work for a spare bedroom, a workout room, and probably storage. There's tons of room in the laundry room next to the master bedroom to make a lot of it into a walk-in closet, eventually. The fenced back yard has a decent little deck to put a grill on.

There's no garage or storage shed. But that's ok.

We put our offer in. With luck we'll see how many other offers there are this weekend and where ours falls tomorrow night. Our agent wrote an escalation clause. The starting asking price was well under budget so fortunately we've got room to counter other offers.

It's all so scary. I think we both have mixed feelings about the whole thing. If it works out fantastic. If not, well... we'll keep moving forward.

Posted by Beth at 08:31 PM
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March 03, 2009


At first I wasn't crazy about Twitter and saw the potential for it all to just be too cliquish for me. It can also be kinda creepy - in going through who Neil Gaiman follows, I saw his kids' tweets. There is no reason for me to follow the kids of someone I don't personally know.

But I've found I really like the limited character updates and reading all the little updates from folks. I also decided it's not a contest to me on how many people I follow or who follow me. Who cares. Although, if you're not following me you're totally missing out!

It's also changed my blogging a little bit. Now this is where I do my long (boring) stuff instead of short and amusing.

Posted by Beth at 05:04 PM
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March 01, 2009


I'm torturing my poor Nerdstar today. I'm making her clean and organize and prepare to give things to Goodwill. It's just terrible.

Yesterday we finally took a bunch of towels to the local animal shelter. And we still have 10 good towels for two people.

We have three very nice army issued camel back backpacks, a regular backpack, a laptop backpack, two army issued regular backpacks, a cute light blue backpack, two decent sized suitcases, a huge travel backpack, a good travel bag with wheels, and two empty army issued duffle bags. If we ever need to saw up bodies to dispose of - we've got the bags to do the job. And this is after getting rid of stuff.

The only nice thing is I did was to not make her go through her shoe collection today. We'll save that for another day.

She's gotten much, much better about not just buying stuff, so I'm giving her lots of credit for that here! But we've still got a ten year supply of lip balm.

Posted by Beth at 04:01 PM
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Let me take a little break from my house hunting woes and write about politics, it's so much more cheerful. Heh.

Ok, Obama has been in office about six weeks now. He took a break to go read to kids at some elementary school. He took a break and took the family to Camp David to check it out. He and Michelle spent Valentine's weekend in Chicago. And Friday night he took another break to check out the Wizards v Bulls and then spent a couple of hours shooting hoops. (No, I don't feel like finding links to all those news stories.)

He repeatedly tells us we're in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

Is he fiddling while Rome burns, or does he not believe his own doom and gloom?

Posted by Beth at 02:15 AM
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