Friday, August 28, 2009

Another Mystery Gifter

I got home today, rather late, since I had my Chop-All-My-Hair-Off appointment after work which I'll get to later, but as I walked to the front door there was a package sitting there. Figured maybe it was something from my mother-in-law, she has the propensity to send stuff out of nowhere. I opened the package and there were plates! Now, the last time this happened, it was the keychain incident and it was like a small thing so while I was intrigued, but I am even more intrigued by where these plates came from... I am thinking it might be Frankie. I have some other ideas, but the weird thing is whoever it is knows my husband's last name and that I didn't change mine so they hyphenated the two together. Interwebs, to save me from going crazy, whoever you are, please send me an email so I can stop wondering who my plate wall stalker might be. Unless you derive joy from leaving me in suspense! Many thanks, though! I am getting close to a critical mass of plates where I may have to stop or get just a couple more specific colors...

So the hair. I ended up going to Yelp.com for a referral to find a place close to my office so that I don't have to bust my rear trying to get through traffic to make an evening appointment. I know, a little risky, but this place had 74 reviews, and only 2 were "bad" and 68 of them were 5 stars. That's a pretty darn good track record. Double bonus? $35 for the cut! Amy had mentioned before and after pics but I failed to get the before and I'm not sure about broadcasting my "visual" identity. Basically, it was long (past boob-length) and boring and brassy, dried-out at the ends (from the previous blond highlights I had done); now it's just shy of chin-length, bob-cut with that slight a-line thing where it's a little longer in the front and shorter with layers in the back. It's cute - I mean, I'm not like blown away, but it was $35. I mean, even when I've paid $60 for a cut, I'm still not blown away. I think unless you go to some like hot-shot stylist and pay $200 or something, it's likely that the quality is all pretty similar. This place is really reasonable - so much so that should the Husband find a job soon, I would consider doing some color again (because as much as it costs, it's fun to get color).

Oh, and one more funny thing. So, going to talk about lady parts now, or rather, hygenic products for lady parts, so if you're a dude, you have been warned. So, the Husband's first name is one of those androgynous names where it could be male or female, but his mom chose to spell it like the girl version (we are still scratching our heads over why she decided to do that). On more than one occasion, his gender has been mistaken by people/entities he didn't know, like colleges (a technical college he applied to in New Jersey thought he was a girl), catalog order companies (Victoria's Secret), etc. This last time was particularly funny. Kotex mistook his gender, somehow, and sent him 4 maxipad samples. Ha! So, obviously, I took them, and they sent two samples of these overnight pads with wings which are seriously the size of an airport runway. Like, land a 777 jumbo jet on them. I mean, yes, we need overnight protection, but this much? Damn. And then I mentioned I was trying them out to the Husband he said I shouldn't be using them because they're his.

September and October Are Not My Favorite Months

I have read various blog entries about how great the weather is this time of year, etc, etc, and all I have to say is, I hate this time of year. Sure, it's sunny and warm, holidays are fast approaching, but it's also the time when Southern California lights itself on fire, either via psychopathic lunatics setting them or Nature exercising her power to blow down power lines or strike lighting in the inland forest areas. I dread this time of year more than anything I can dread that isn't related to cancer or death, and I've only personally been through one bad fire season. Like, I would rather have an extra pap smear every year if it meant I could skip fire season. Heck, an extra two would be fine, too. Unfortunately, God doesn't really bargain that way. Like the thought I once had about giving away my pinky toe if it meant I could reverse history and wipe away the Bush 43 presidency. Another useless bargain. Anyway.

In my lifetime, I've been through two hurricanes and the good thing about those is, generally, there is only one really, really bad one maybe every 5-10 years, and you get a couple days notice to get your shit together. Fires? Not so much. In recent years, San Diego has had two really bad ones - 2003 and 2007. Two in 4 years. And you don't get much advance notice that they're coming. You go to bed one night with a small-ish fire far away, you wake up the next morning and all hell has broken loose and you're staring evacuation in the face. A minor wind shift or increased temperature/dryness can change everything. It's not cool. Earthquakes don't really scare me. Fire, on the other hand, scares the living poop out of me.

Right now there's a fire on the base, but it's on the northeastern end - a good ways away; it has burned 1000 acres with 0% containment. I'm not terribly worried about this one, yet, however, the situation can change in a matter of hours. The other fire I just learned about is not very far from my parents' place out by Idyllwild (National Forest). I am sure my mother is having a small panic attack right now. I'll have to call them on my way home, see if they want to flee to our house. That fire is at 2500 acres and 5% contained, but 3 miles from their house, is mandatory evacuations. Which freaks me out a bit. Fire season sucks like a Hoover. I can't wait for December when fire season will be mostly over!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Here Comes My Brain Dump.

I have a rudimentary instrumental version of "Amazing Grace" running over and over in my head. Why? Because I am relieving my time as a 7-year-old learning an instrument from near scratch (not totally from scratch since I've got the piano experience). I've had this guitar, a decent Fender, for some time now - nearly 3 years. I had decided back then that I wanted to teach myself. As happens to many, that endeavor fell by the way-side. Not to mention, when your 5-feet-tall and petite, a full-size acoustic guitar isn't the easiest thing to play. I would literally get shoulder cramps after about 20 minutes, and my fingers could barely reach all the strings to get the C chord done right. Early last week, my manager, who found out that two of us on the team play guitar (well, the other guy *has* to be more advanced than me - I don't really "play" at this point. I just make noise.), brought in his Baby Taylor guitar. It is 3/4 the size of a regular acoustic guitar. I had read about this guitar a month or so after I got my Fender and knew it was probably a better fit for me but figured I'd tough it out with my full-size beast. Seeing it in person convinced me that I would have a heck of an easier time learning on it. They run $299, new. Usually, people sell them used on craiglist for $200-250. Yesterday I found a listing for $199 at a pawn shop (first time I ever visited a pawn shop - it was only a little bit seedy - I wasn't by myself either, so). All this not-spending on extraneous things has apparently triggered some impulsive spending. After some minor haggling, I got it for $175 plus tax. Put on some new strings for $6 and it's all set! I have now played the shit out of "Amazing Grace". Still doesn't sound polished - I'm trying to get the chord transitions down cleaner and quicker. But I must have played it the song like 100 times. Not exaggerating. The little thing is so easy to play! It's like night and day. It doesn't have as big and deep a sound as my full-size, but it still sounds nice for the size that it is. Now I just have to sell my Fender. I considered keeping it but then again, if I ever get really "good" at playing perhaps I'd rather have a better full-size guitar than the Fender anyway. I suggested The Husband take a community college class with me, he could use the full-size, I'd have the little-person Taylor, but he said he doesn't have the patience to learn an instrument at this point in his life. I figured with unemployed free-time it would be the as good a time as any to attempt to learn an instrument, but, hey, not all of us are into this kidn of "torture".

As for the hair situation, she nor the salon scheduler ever called me to reschedule. I could call them but I am thinking I am just going to either find someone close to work or someone close to home. This place was in between work and home and I just don't have the patience to deal with the traffic situation and having to leave 45-60 minutes early to get to a hair appointment (it doesn't seem like she is much of an evening appointment person). And while I screwed up by getting there late (dude, though, how often to you WAIT at a salon? All the time! I was 15 minutes late - hardly that bad), you would think that after I showed up that I had good intentions and deserved a return phone call. So I think I am giving up on them. Yelp's reviews of the place were decent, but not glowing or anything.

And one last thing that is knocking around in my head. The whole flushing-the-toilet-with-your-foot-deal. My aunt taught me this in a very public restroom when I was a kid, and I mean, I would only do it when the place is particularly grody. But at work? Sure a work toilet is sort of public, but still. I saw a stall neighbor do it as I was sitting there doing my business and now I will HAVE to use some tissue with my hands or use my foot to flush because who knows what stuff was on that person's foot that is now all over the toilet handles? I think that is overboard, foot-flushing work toilets.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Really, I'm Normally Very Punctual

I need your opinion. Now, I'll admit, I was late to this appointment but not because I didn't plan ahead. In the 2 months I've been driving this commute to and from my new work, I have never seen traffic like I saw today. Holy Moly, like what normally takes me 25 minutes, took 45 minutes. It was like 18 miles. Apparently some like fuel truck or something exploded (this is term they used on the radio) south of the office and jacked everything up. I mean, if I were in LA, I would expect this. This would be normal. In San Diego, it is not. It is not normal to be stop and go for 15 miles on the freeway. Anyway, what was I late for? My hair appointment. First one with this lady that was recommended by a friend. Another point to note is that this place doesn't answer the phone after 5pm. It goes straight to a recorded message about how reception hours are from 9am to 5pm. I didn't realize I was going to get screwed up the traffic until around 5:10pm (and I've called at 5:15 and it went to the recorded message). I had no way to call and say "Hey, I'm going to be late. If you don't want to wait, that's fine."

I get there 15 minutes late, flustered, after having driven like a maniac to try to not be any MORE late than I already was to this stupid appointment. Guess what? She was gone. Now, I am still sort of pissed off by this. I know, I was late, that is definitely my fault, though it was hard to plan for an explosion that blocks off a nearby freeway. However, sitting there on the counter, was the appointment book. There was my name and phone number - clearly a cell number because it's an LA area code. She could have called me and said, "Hey, I'm leaving" and I would have said "Ok, cool, I understand" and then driven home like a normal person, not been stressed out about trying to get there.

Now I am torn. The stylist I talked to said she'd leave her a message to call me to reschedule but (a) I'm tired of waiting to get my haircut, and (b) I'm annoyed that she couldn't give me the benefit of a call before she took off. She knows I'm a friend of her long-time customer and friend. And the reality is I would have totally called the salon if a live person would ANSWER THE PHONE after 5pm. So. Should I wait until week or two to get some kind of appointment given the situation (mind you, it's not really a cheap hairbut), or just go find somewhere else cheaper, and less of a freaking hassle?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Our Not Cheap Enough Office Space

I am reusing a room here - when The Nester did her Mistreatment Mr. Linky party over a year ago, I used this room. I am using it again, because, seriously? I have no rooms that are even remotely presentable (hi! no flooring! concrete slab! no baseboards!) except maybe my kitchen which has half a floor laid and if I priced that, well, yeah, it would be a major production. That's a Before and After post for the future that I will relish in spending hours writing! So I had to recycle if I wanted to participate in this latest Mr Linky party. Please forgive this minor transgression. If you care to peruse my renovation debacles endeavors, here ya go: all posts tagged with home improvement. This is the room where the currently unemployed Husband does his daily (and still fruitless) job search. Some pictures are from last summer, some from earlier in the year.







Desk - IKEA - $150, $20 paint

Chair - World Market - $90 after coupon and points

Diplomas - $120, hubby's diploma was framed and paint by his parents

Frames - accumulated over the years, maybe $20

Computer equipment - $600 mac mini (I love how little space it takes up on the desk), $150 monitor, $200 printer, speakers (The Husband bought them before we got married so, that is like free, right?)

Desk lamp - $30? I bought in 2001, don't remember anymore

Baskets under desk - World Market, guessing $5 for the little blue ones, $8 for the big one. $18

Filing cabinet - Kathy Ireland, I think it was around $300 in 2005

Corkboard - frame was $5 at a yard sale, corks free! (well, after paying for and drinking the wine), 97 cent can of matte black spray paint (Walmart) , maybe 75 cents in hot glue (yay! for the Nester re-introducing me to hot glue - I had forgotten how great this stuff is)

Photo/Storage boxes - leather one was a clearance item from Pottery Barn for $50 (some clearance, right?), others from Marshalls and Ross, $5-10 each

Leaning shelves, JCPenney, $99 each

Various trinkets and books (i.e. Collection of Crapola) - I have no idea what they cost, many were gifts. I do remember the little birds at the top are from the Grand Canyon. And the paintings are mine (so free!). I'll say maybe I've spent $100 on stuff and the rest were gifts.

Paint - one can of Behr, don't remember the color name at the moment - $20

Mistreatments! - the rods were free - the previous owners left them in various rooms so I repurposed them. Fabric, tassles (both from JoAnn Fabrics), glue, curtain clip rings (lowes, $5 each pack of 8-10), maybe $80 total.

And when the Saltillo tile (from Home Depot) is finally laid in this room (on schedule for... yeah, September - this is what happens when you do it yourself), the flooring will be about $150 including tile, mortar, grout, sealer, baseboards, etc. Does not include cost of my sanity. But it's my choice.

Total very ballpark, unscientific price: $2600.

Big thank you to The Nester for hosting!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

One Foot, Two Feet, and Up We Go...

...onto my soapbox and I'm due to get right on up there because I just can't stomach the bullshit any longer. I have been quietly observing the madness that is this "debate" on health care reform that looks and sounds more like a much of loony squawking maniacs who are ready to beat up long-time senators like Arlen Spector over issues they aren't even fully informed on.

Many Americans are simply clueless about the situation, unfortunately. Not all, but many. For example, I will take a coworker of mine. He's young, maybe 4 years out of college, so I give him that benefit of the doubt. But anyway, he noticed my Obama sticker on my car (which I haven't yet removed, more out of laziness than staunch support - frankly, I am pissed off that he is backing down from the public health insurance pool option), and mentioned that he didn't like what Obama was doing with health care reform. So I asked why. His response was that people should just pay for health insurance themselves - taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for them. And this made me wonder how many people think that it's that easy to get health insurance. Just that simple. Go buy it. Like a gallon of milk or something. Or maybe that annoying Progressive Insurance lady can get it for me, just like that.

I can't remember if I have ranted about my experiences with health insurance back when I was a contractor for 2 years, post second layoff in 2002. I don't think I have. Anyway, so I figured, let me just give this coworker of mine a little more information to mull over in his head before he immediately jumps to the conclusion that people without health insurance are simply mooching off the American taxpayer.

I was laid off in 2002 (second time - it was not the greatest time to be a programmer with the dot-com bust aftermath extending 2+ years), and it was a miserable time finding a job. After weeks and weeks of searching (luckily my existing job wasn't booting me out right away which was nice), I finally found a contract position which was close to the same money, but still less than I was making before. But 1099 contract, you pay your own taxes, get your own health insurance, etc, etc. About 4 days before my previous employer health insurance was set to expire, I get appendicitis. Luckily I was covered and didn't have to pay the $20,000 bill that came from only 36 hours in the hospital (we caught it at the earliest possibly point - they almost sent me home but decided to do a CT just to make sure). The health insurance company, by the way, settled with the hospital for around $3500. I paid $700. Interesting how that works, huh? So how many times can you get an appendectomy in your lifetime? Once, right? Anyway.

At this point, I had two options: apply for individual health insurance, or pay Cobra, which, back in 2002, wasn't horrible. It was like $280 per month or something like that - though at the time, my hourly rate was only $35 an hour (which is rather low for 1099 contracting in the high cost-of -living city of Los Angeles, and considering you have to pay additional self-employment tax of 7.5%). Various health insurers were promoting rates of $70 per month for a $2000 deductible. I figured, this would be preferable to paying nearly $300 per month (though I only had a $250 deductible with my old plan). I contact a health insurance broker - a woman that specializes in this stuff - about applying for health insurance. She doesn't seem to think the recent appendectomy is going to be an issue (because how many times does it happen in one's lifetime? Um, once.). Well, guess what - not only was the recent appendectomy an issue, but so was my intermittent use of Claritin. Yeah. Claritin - the once prescription now over-the-counter allergy medicine. Scary stuff that Claritin. So scary, they made it OTC so that 16-year-olds can buy it. So now I had the "black mark" of being rejected for health insurance which I now must disclose every time I apply for individual health insurance. I figure, best go with COBRA at this point (which even the broker said, she expected I would get a similar response from other insurers if I tried to apply). This turned out to be a good move on my part because using up all your COBRA benefits carries inherent rights.

For eighteen months, working as a contractor, I pay COBRA. I exhaust the coverage until I, legally, can't do it anymore. In the meantime I have run two marathons, and during that time, went to the doctor for my knee which had been bugging me from the running. Had some physical therapy - no surgery, no drugs, just 6 weeks of strength building. You see where this is going, right? I apply for insurance again, this time, with Blue Cross (previously I attempted with Blue Shield - they are separate competitors in California). And, me, a healthy 25-year-old who ran two effing marathons, is again, rejected for health insurance. The only reason - ONLY REASON - I was able to get any kind of health insurance after this fact was because I used up all my COBRA benefits. This allowed me acceptance without pre-existing conditions exclusions into the California High-Risk health insurance which had a $2000 deductible. I paid $300 bucks a month for it. This was 2004 so you can imagine it's probably like $450 now. Had I not been able to afford COBRA for 18 months, I would have been Shit Out of Luck, my friends. Up the proverbial Crap Creek Without a Paddle.

So, you see, it's not just a matter of people not wanting to pay for it. COBRA after this recent layoff mess, was going to be nearly a grand per month. $1000 bucks (though thankfully, 9 months of it would have been subsidized by the government's recent stimulus act). This is a lot of damn money. Even with the money I was making as a 1099 contractor before the job I have now, it was going to be tight. And I was making just shy of 6 figures! So, how can we expect regular average American families to be able to afford COBRA? Or even afford the rising costs of premiums! Because, the reality is, health insurers only care about their BOTTOM LINE. Another friend of mine had to get individual insurance at one point in the last 5 years, and she wasn't rejected, but they doubled her rates for a recent EAR INFECTION. Because those ear infections, they'll kill ya like The Cancer.

Health insurance companies are for-profit organizations. Period. They have no motivation, no reason, to care about making things better for Americans. They care up to the point where it helps the company make money. That's it. Everyone else, essentially, can suck it. Can you imagine if elementary and middle schools operated in this manner? Only the rich would get good educations. But we accept it with health insurance.

And, folks, this is who we are entrusting with our health. People are screaming, yelling, getting violent, at these "town halls" at the WRONG PEOPLE. We have a major problem going on with health care and all we hear are crazy statements like "Obama wants death panels", and "Obama's dealth panel could have kils my down syndrome baby." Seriously? Have we LOST OUR COLLECTIVE MINDS?

I would like Americans to look past the immediate future which is asking something monumentous as we are notoriously bad at considering the long-term effects of our choices. In 2001, the Milliman Medical Index, which measures the annual cost of health care for families was at $8414. In 2009, it is $16700. 98.5% increase in 8 years. Note that wages have been pretty stagnant in the last 8 years for middle class Americans (our income hasn't gone up in 2 years and will be down 40% next year). If we do the math here, you'll see we are on the way to getting screwed. Squeezed six-ways to Sunday. And people are screaming about taxes. Can you tell me that your TAXES have gone up 98.5% in 8 years? Seriously? Because all hell would have broken loose if it had. But it's OK to pay it to health insurance companies? Really? Wouldn't you rather pay a FRACTION of that in taxes if it meant we could get this mushrooming, exponentially rising health care cost under control?!?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My Two Cents on Why HARP and HAMP are Not Terribly Successful

Now that my credit is on the mend (or partially on the mend, still waiting on the outcome of the re-investigation to delete the bogus item) I've started doing more research on HARP, Home Affordability Refinance Program. It allows underwater home owners who purchased before January 2009 to refinance up to 125% of the home value. I am finding out that it may not be worth the effort.

Getting down to the nitty-gritty of the numbers, we have a balance of about 404,000 on the 1st mortgage. And really, that's all that matters because, guess what? My research indicates that there is no consolidation of 1st and 2nd mortgages into one loan under HARP. Only the first lien is eligible. We are stuck with our shitty 2nd mortgage which carries a rate of 8.375% (and we still owe 44 of the 48K). This is the real thorn in my side, not the first mortgage. Looking at the first, I'm well within the the 125% limit - taking Zillow's estimate, 404,000/420,500 is 96% (technically my first mortgage is not underwater).

The rate on this mortgage is 5.75% and we are more than 2 years into the payments. The remaining interest to be paid on this loan is a whopping $405,873. Yeah, ridiculous. If you look at the interest you pay over the life of a 30-year loan it's likely almost as much as the initial home price. We've paid $53,187 in interest, to date. As of today, we'd be lucky to get 5.375% with no points. We would be unlikely to get 5.25% with no points but let's consider this long-shot just for argument's sake.

Total interest on principal of$404,000, 30 years@5.375% = $410,420.

A rate of 5.375% without the option of consolidating the second mortgage is pointless. I will pay more in the end.

Total interest on principal of $404,000, 30 years@5.25% = $399,124.

That looks better, however, closing costs are $2,000, minimum. So we are talking maybe $3,000 of savings (though it'll take 2 years longer to be paid in full so some savings are lost to opportunity cost). This is if this imaginary 5.25% with $2,000 closing costs exists. If I'm held to my existing loan servicer, it doesn't. The 30-year fixed rate posted on their site today is 5.375% with 1 point. Even paying a point for 5.25% ($4,000) nixes any savings from the rate.

It is looking like HARP is completely useless to me.

What about HAMP? I know these names are ridiculous. Looks like hammy or something. Anyway. Home Affordability Modification Program. I have read that unemployment benefits are included when they consider the borrower's income. This would land us in between 31% and 38% of payment to gross monthly income ratio, which is not that bad. Banks are only required to get the borrower down to 38%, and then are given additional incentives to get down to the magic, happy number of 31%. Even if we assume that we would qualify for a modification, we would get whacked on our credit. During the trial period, the bank will report the portion that was "modified" as delinquent. I'm not sure if it goes away after the trial period, my guess is it doesn't and the standard 7-year expiration policy applies.

Given all this, I am beginning to think that it's a waste of time for me unless the program is expanded to cover second mortgages. If I had some crappy rate on my 1st mortgage or an ARM it would make sense. If HARP covered consolidation of 1st and 2nd, it would make sense. My guess is this is why many people have not refinanced under the program. The parameters are rather narrow - you can't have PMI (which, if you didn't put 20% down, you likely have it or you have a second mortgage), and it doesn't cover the second. And the second is usually the one with the crappy, high rate. And if you have the crappy rate or ARM on the 1st mortgage, it may be likely you aren't current on your loan because your credit wasn't good enough to get you the better rate in the first place. Rates have been under 7% since 2002 - so considering the pool of people that are underwater and have rates of 6.5% or higher - I would bet many of these people are not current on their payments.

In my non-professional, monetary soap-box opinion, in order for this program to truly be successful, it has to take into account second mortgages and first mortgages with PMI.

Feh.

Friday, August 7, 2009

A Post Where I Ramble On About A Piano

I've got the piano itch. I took lessons from the age of seven to 20 years old (with a smal hiatus in high school). Right now I have an old, decrepit baby grand made by Starr (a defunct piano company based out of Indiana) in 1929. I didn't have any piano for several years after college, and during college, for that matter, but 2 of the 4 years at Columbia I took lessons (an engineer taking piano lessons! I have always been a bit of a contradiction), so I would drag by butt to the practice rooms in Shapiro on 116th to get my practicing in. I sort of wish I had continued lessons all four years, but things like studying and sorority obligations made me drop it my Junior year. Looking back I should have let the sorority stuff slide because piano is way more fulfilling in the end - but hindsight is always 20-20. I actually had to audition my freshman year with the teacher just to get the lessons. He was a good teacher - I managed to muscle through learning Chopin's Revolutionary Etude which is HARD. I've since lost 90% of the ability to play that one, though I'm sure I could get it back. I would love to get it back.

Anyway, so, I've got this crappy old piano; I paid $250 for it back in 2005 and figured it would be fine, I could deal with a it (by now, if you've read my blog, you know I'm cheap). The thing is, I realized I can't deal with a piece of shit piano. It is brutally out of tune. Yes, I know I can get it tuned but, likely, this piano is so out of whack it will take two or more tunings. If the strings are way off you can't just crank them into place without risking snapping them. If you neglect the piano too much, you are stuck with multiple tunings to get the dang thing in tune. The worst of it is the action is crappy (like the weighting of all the keys is all jacked up - faster runs are hard to accomplish cleanly which is annoying) and the upper keys sound tinny. It is likely that a large number of strings needs replacing, never mind the action problem. The pedals are also a mess. So, fixing up this piano is on the order of hundreds of dollars, if not a thousand not including refinishing the wood. And after fixing it all up, it won't be worth more than 1-2K because it is a Starr and no one has heard of it.

So I want a "new" one (new to me). But there's this "small" issue of the Husband being unemployed. But (to start another sentence with a "but") if there was ever a time to get a screaming deal on a piano it would be now. The bad economy is resulting in people trying to sell their pianos at ridiculous prices (I have run across some, too large for my house, that are crazy, jaw-dropping cheap). I'm sure piano stores are falling all over themselves to get people to buy. Too bad there isn't a Cash for Piano Clunkers. I would so take advantage of that. Anyway, so I've decided that I am going watch Craigslist like a hawk for the next few months. We have the money in savings, our emergency fund is like a years' worth of expenses at this point. Sure, it's not ideal to buy it now but buying it when the economy is better (which is probably when the Husband will finally be employed) for sure will cost me 1K or more. So it's a calculated risk on my part, but 1K on 4K is 25%. It's a sizable discount. To me it's worth the risk.

I would be thrilled to pieces with a 5 foot Yamaha baby grand made in the last 15 years. New, that piano costs $10-12K. Someone is selling one only two years old up in LA for 4K (too far though, I'm looking to buy from someone in the San Diego or Orange County area). I simply can't pass up that kind of ridiculous deal.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Flooring and Kitchen and Credit Crap Update

Let's start with the "Credit Crap Update" since it's fresh in my mind. So, I sent in my F-U letter to the management company and Equifax and in a seriously speedy time, they had come to a conclusion. That conclusion was to update the account to "paid". Now, that's all well and good, but I still have a collections record on my account that now says paid instead of unpaid. I want it erased, deleted, vanquished, obliterated from my credit report. I am sure that having a previous collections account is not in any way going to help my FICO score. So I called them this afternoon, at the number I was given should I have any questions regarding the investigation and told them I wanted it deleted because it was paid months before it was supposedly "deliquent." I sure hope they don't screw this one up now. Man. I couldn't give them anymore proof that it wasn't deliquent other than every single check copy I paid and the copies of both escrow closing statements (as buyers and sellers). I have a feeling they may not have reviewed my documentation very thoroughly, so hopefully they will get it right this time. I think I have had more than my fair share of bogus credit items.

Now, onto the house. Tooj asked how you hang plates. They sell plate hanger contraptions at Target, likely Wal-mart, Michaels, online, etc. They have little springs on the back and four hook arms that grip the plate. They run from 2-4 bucks depending on the size and where you go. However, I have found a tutorial from Martha (who else) where she (if it's even her - maybe it's one of her many minions) explains how to make your own with 18-gauge wire. So, this may be the route I go, though the hangers I got at Michaels have this nice plastic coating on the wire which is going to be less abrasive to my plates, so it'll be a matter of how cheap I'm feeling. I may just use the good ones on the nicer plates. Here is my current assortment of plates, all but one bought at thrift stores or yard sales (there are two more not shown on the table that were gifts). I have a long way to go in my collecting and also convincing of the Husband who is currently dubious that the plate wall isn't going to look like Doggie Doo Doo.

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Some kitchen photos, you'll see my 3 little plates over the doorway. Be honest, do they look bad or no?

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And here is the latest on the floor.

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I am all the way into the family room now, on my way to the kitchen. I figure I'll be half-way through the kitchen by the end of the weekend...