Saturday, September 30, 2006

Photos of the House! 

Originally uploaded by RSLS.
We took photos this week while we were out there for the home inspection. We've got a couple of items we're getting estimates on, but plan on signing the P&S by next Friday. Closing is still scheduled for November 1st! We've given our notice to our current landlord, so we're locked in now!

I can't wait to have our own yard with no neighborhood adolescent thugs playing ball across our driveway.

Anyway, click on the house to go to the photoset. Then click through each picture to get the commentary as you take the virtual tour of our future castle, home of the 2007 Sixth Annual Oscar Party!

Posted by Beth Henderson at 3:51 PM
Friday, September 29, 2006

Additional Time 

So we had the home inspection this week.  Nothing major, but there were a couple of things for which we are getting estimates for repair so we have a better idea of what we're facing.  To accommodate this, we've requested an extension for signing the P&S from tomorrow to October 10 (extension for inspections/estimates to October 5, then it's the holiday weekend, so October 10).  I haven't heard any harsh responses, so hopefully that means they're okay with it.  We're still keeping the November 1 closing date. 

The one big item is that while the house has lovely new windows throughout the main floor, whoever installed them did "a hack job" (these were the inspector's exact words).  They cut back the sills flush with the house and then installed the new windows in right over the tiny sills.  Now the siding below the windows is actually further out than the window.  Normally the sill would overhang the siding to prevent rain and other moisture from falling in and causing rot, which in turn just invites all the chewing bugs.  Plus when they reattached the siding around the windows, in some places they put nails right through the exposed face of the siding – more invitations to moisture and pests.

We also are having a chimney sweep come in and take a look at the bricks at the top.  There's no weather cap, and there was some slight deterioration at the top of the chimney, plus the damper mechanism in the family room fireplace needs to be reassembled.

There are other things we can live with for the moment and will knock off maybe one a month after we move in, like the garage door openers are powered through extension cords run along the ceiling, there's a slight leak around the base of the kitchen sink faucet, and we probably should have the central AC unit serviced and recharged. 

I indeed took pictures as promised, but I left the camera in The Girl's car, and she's away for the weekend.  Maybe I can pick it up at lunch…

Middle Sister came along for the inspection and assisted with the room measurements, so I'll perhaps have some floor plans put together this weekend.  We did the measurements while the inspector was sitting in the kitchen getting his report ready.  This was the coolest – he had a teeny tiny little HP computer.  Smaller than a notebook, bigger than a handheld.  Then he had a digital camera and a portable printer.  The printer talked to the computer through an infrared port (he had tried Bluetooth, but it didn't work well for his reports).  So after he finished the outside he sat for a few minutes, loaded the pictures and made his notes.  Then after he finished the inside, he sat again for about 15 minutes and loaded the rest of the pics, then finished the report.  By the time we left the house, we had in our hands a complete 12-page home inspection report including photos with red arrows pointing out the areas of concern in each photo.  The report was broken down by area of the house, and then had a summary of marginal problems and more serious problems, so we have a nice checklist of things to do.  Very cool.

But I don't need any more gadgets.  We're getting a house.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:14 AM
Saturday, September 23, 2006

Now I Know It's Real... 

...because just now when I opened Explorer and it started on the Yahoo main page, I spotted right away a section titled, "Inside Yahoo! Tech - Get the Best Gadgets." My eyes snapped right over, and the subheadings were Top 5 cameras, Top 5 laptops... and then I looked away.

I'm not in the market for electronic gadgets, and I don't need to look them over, even "just to see..." We're buying a house. I'll need a rake, and perhaps some gardening gloves.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:24 AM
Friday, September 22, 2006

Whirlwind Week One 

We're on an accelerated timeframe for this whole house buying adventure, as the sellers are moving to Texas and we're in a month-to-month rental situation.  They want to get out of Dodge and we have the flexibility to accommodate.  So we went to an open house on Sunday, got started with our buyer's agent (The Girl's Brother) and a mortgage agent, lined up an attorney and got our offer together.  By 11:00 pm (yes, pm) Tuesday, we had reached an agreement with the sellers.  Biggest Sister and Agent Brother did heroes' work of keeping everything calm and in perspective.

Wednesday and Thursday was a maelstrom of calls, emails, online research, questions, answers, more questions, scheduling and on and on. 

But since the end of the workday yesterday, it all seems to have settled down.  When I went to bed last night I felt nearly giddy as there had been no anxiety-producing house issues for several hours. 

We're locked in to a nice fixed interest rate, no points, we've got our attorney and she's approved the documents thus far, our home inspection is lined up for Wednesday afternoon, our employers are cool with accommodating the various times we need to be out of the office, P&S signing is next Friday.  Then it's a month of weeding out stuff and packing.  We have our apartment until November 30 and closing is November 1, so we have time to get the house ready before our target moving date of November 18, and then we'll also have a bit of time to go back and uber clean the apartment, patch up the nail holes in the walls, etc. 

I was even settled down enough this morning at home to go online and start research snowblowers, lawnmowers, hedge trimmers, etc.  

So as I mentioned above, the home inspection is Wednesday.  We'll be bringing our cameras, so look for some pics.  I'm going to draw out a floor plan from what I remember and we'll be bringing measuring tapes, so we can get readings on all the rooms and start planning the furniture placements.  Perhaps I'll scan and post those as well, just to share the excitement!  Okay, so it's exciting for us, and you all can get your amusement from how geeky we are.  Works for everyone!

Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:36 AM
Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Credit Improving 

Well, I finally took a day off from work so I could contact the credit reporting company I got my nightmarish free credit report from in February.

When our mortgage broker was checking our reports to determine if he'd preapprove us, he called me up to let me know that there were items in my report that were clear even to him were not me. For instance, he doubted I could be living in both Massachusetts and Texas simultaneously. He was very nice, and emailed me the combined report he had and let me go through and just let him know which items weren't me.

So armed with all this information, I called the agency today (you can only call between 9 and 5, Monday through Friday, in whatever time zone you live). There was a lot of key punching, holding, and being transferred to a couple of agents, but finally I got the Special Situations agent, who after asking for my social security number, responded that he's guessing I'm not any of the five Betty's that were listed, with two additional socials. I confirmed, he moved all those items over to the Betty reports, then went through each and every address, phone number, employer and spouse listed in the personal information, and removed all those that weren't mine. Back on hold, then he came back and went through all the account information that he had removed from mine and foysted back to the Betties.

Took my email address, and estimated that it will only take a couple of days for my notification that everything is squared away, since they were all internal moves.

Wow, I was braced for months of back and forth. On to the next free credit report...

Posted by Beth Henderson at 4:10 PM

Big, Scary News 

We've been thinking about buying a house.
We decided to go to some open houses on Sunday.
We saw many crappy houses.
We saw one house that was way out of our price range but was fun to tour.
We saw one freakish real estate agent with way too much perk and leopard print spike-heeled shoes.
We saw a house we liked and that was in our range.
We got preapproved.
We made an offer.

Next ensued several tortuous hours of phone tag between us and our buyer's agent, buyer's agent and the seller's agent, seller's agent and seller. Lather, rinse, repeat.

After going back and forth and back and forth and back and forth, we agreed on the exact price our agent predicted it would be.

We're buying a house.


Posted by Beth Henderson at 12:13 AM
Friday, September 08, 2006

Oscar Nirvana 

Holy crap! Ellen Degeneres is hosting the Academy Awards next year! The Oscar Party is going to be the best ever, I make this vow now! Last year's was fabulous, with the various gay actors and gay themed movies in the mix, but now we get Ellen too! Wheeeee!

Mark your calendars - Oscar Night 2007 (the 79th awards) is on Sunday, February 25. The official ABC broadcast begins at 8:00 pm eastern time, with the awards commencing at 8:30 pm!

Posted by Beth Henderson at 7:28 PM
Thursday, September 07, 2006

Graduation Stuff - Already 

I'm sure you'll all be relieved for me that when I got to the Student Accounts Office (5 minutes before closing and out of breath), they looked me up and confirmed that they do have my current waiver on file. It really did just cross in the mail this time.

So I then meandered over to the main building to drop off my registration for the school-sponsored Saturday bar prep program, which begins this week - 10 am to 1 pm. Nothing like breaking up the day, eh?

As if the pressure of knowing bar prep was starting wasn't enough, I arrived home last night to find my graduation information form (spelling of name for diploma, etc.), as well as my bar application information. These both must be filled out so I can continue on the fast-moving train to graduation and the exam from hell.


Posted by Beth Henderson at 6:00 PM
Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Bar Prep 

My first bar prep class is this Saturday. Do you have any idea how overwhelmed I am by just writing this down?

Posted by Beth Henderson at 6:52 PM
Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Student Health Insurance - Again 

All students at New England School of Law must have health insurance.  If you have your own insurance, you have to submit a form stating this and including your policy information.  Otherwise you get automatically enrolled in the Aetna student plan and the bill goes on your first semester's statement from Student Accounts (along with tuition and fees). 

I've been fully insured during my entire time, so I've submitted the forms.  First two years, no problems.  Then last fall I received early in the semester a little welcome letter from Aetna.  I figured the forms crossed in the mail and there wouldn't be a problem.  Then around November I got a letter from Student Accounts showing that my payment plan I had set up would fall short – I didn't include the $1200 for the student insurance.  So I marched on down there (which involved leaving work early so I could get there during business hours) and explained the situation.  They gave me a second form to fill out – this one was for a request for special late exemption, and required that I include my reason for why I didn't file the original form in a timely fashion.  Aetna then has the option of accepting or rejecting the application for exemption.  I wrote that I did file it, but that the school apparently lost it.  They accepted it, as they did for at least three other people in my class who went through the exact same thing.  Until we discovered that this had happened to more than one of us, we each had been thinking, "I thought I sent it, but maybe I didn't…"  After we found safety in  numbers, we chalked it up to administrative error.

So this year when my opt out form arrived, I promptly filled it out, sent it in, and announced to The Girl that I had sent it in, so there would be no doubting myself if this happened again. 

My Aetna letter arrived on Saturday, welcoming me to the student insurance plan.  Guess where I'm going this afternoon?

Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:38 AM
Monday, September 04, 2006

The Palm is Dead, Long Live the Palm 

I dropped my dear and faithful Palm Tungsten C on its head last week. It was in its nice padded leather case, but it managed to strike the floor on its Achilles Hell in the upper left corner, and the picture here is the result.

Palm will repair displays, but it costs almost as much as buying a brand new, topper of the line model. Guess which road I chose?

I now have a Palm T│X with 100MB internal memory. It also has wi-fi, Bluetooth (although my phone's bluetooth is only headset operable), and an MP3 player.

While I was at it, I took another action to drag The Girl into the tech age by picking her up an entry level Palm Z22. She's away golfing this weekend, so I got it all set up for her and loaded with lots of information. She won't have to be intimidated by getting it working - all she'll have to do is use it. One program I really like and have installed on both is SplashShopper. It's basically a list maker. You have different types of lists (groceries, clothes, travel, movies, etc.) with standard items and those you add as your own standards. Then you just check the box for the things you need, and you can then view them separately in the Need view. Once you get the item, you uncheck it and it goes back into the standard but not needed right now category. But the REALLY cool thing is that we can beam our Needed lists back and forth between our two Palms.

I don't know about you, but grocery shopping is a negotiated issue in our house. I'm hoping this well make things easier. Plus like I said - how cool is that? They also have a SplashMoney program, which I'm trying out on mine. It's like Quicken, only more streamlined and I can update it on the Palm.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 2:12 PM