Friday, July 27, 2012

If ever a Week Needed a Do-Over

Lots of things going on. Very stressful things. First, we had a glitch with our financing. Apparently my mortgage broker not only has blonde hair but works overtime to perpetuate the stereotypes to the fullest. When I was getting my pre-approval, I asked her to run the numbers under two circumstances:
  • The first if we rented out my condo, covering most of the carrying costs of that expense.
  • The second if I didn’t rent my condo at all. In other words, as if I were just going to continue paying two mortgages.
I expected two vastly different maximum ranges something like X if you keep your condo, X + a boatload more if you rent it and are able to cover mortgage, tax and HOA. What I got instead was a very large Y. Blondie cited my excellent credit and good salary. Turns out Blondie didn’t run two scenarios; she just ran it as if I didn’t have a condo to worry about at all.

Fortunately I had the foresight to figure something wasn’t right and I brought in my paperwork and had her crunch more specific numbers again in more detail. Suddenly she realized that I had a condo and obviously the price I was approved for dropped significantly. The lesson learned is you have to make sure that your mortgage broker is an anal detail oriented type who knows what they are doing and doesn’t flake out.

Second Stressor of the week: So Nightingale and I decided to test our commutes to the one house we like. The first attempt failed miserably though it wasn't a good test. She has a habit of driving her car until the gas light comes on, which it did during this test, while she was driving through the less desirable parts of town to get to the potential new home. Women take notice: Cars are designed to run out of gas when it would be the most inconvenient. In fact, if you are driving through a neighborhood where a young lady would likely get raped, just assume a full tank of gas will magically evaporate.

How hard is it to park closer to the sign?

As fortune would have it, when I got to the house there was a car that advertised home inspector on it. It turns out, someone had engaged an inspector to look at the home. So this could all be for naught if someone else decides they suddenly want this overbuilt and overpriced for the neighborhood home.

After my second attempt to drive there yesterday taking a different route I'm of the mindset that if we get the house, we'll deal with the sucky commute but if we don't get it, we continue to target our preferred neighborhoods and accept losing out on this home as a gift from the Realtor Gods.

The two motivating factors for moving out of this place is we are tight on space and we have no dedicated parking. Street parking is inconsistent at times especially with people parking like jerks.

Finally some good news: Work is slowly starting to get busier which is a good thing. Our fiscal year is Aug 1 - July 31 and the last few months have been painfully inactive for me. There hasn't been budget to do things or free bodies or other resources available if there were so I’ve had to keep my head down and hope no one noticed me. I've never been good at waiting until the 5 o'clock whistle blows to go home when I have nothing to do.

At the Low-Rent Consulting Company, there were lots of times I’d be in the office with nothing to do sitting there waiting for 5pm. Once I made the mistake of shutting down my laptop at 4:50 and my Menace decided to punish me by making me help another engineer who was frustrated he couldn’t figure something out – and wanted no help from anyone.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Not even by a Long Shot

Forgiving and forgetting are not skills I over excel in.  Quite the opposite, unfortunately.  I'm just not wired to forgive people who have dicked me over and I'm afraid to forget least it ever happen again.

Back in college during my last semester at NMSU (now Truman State University) a couple friends were not getting along. What they were fighting about isn’t important, but it is amusing so I’ll share. Cindy was pissed at Linda because she made out with Jane’s boyfriend. Jane and Cindy were BFFs and felt Linda’s indiscretion was, I don’t know what exactly since a few years later, Cindy and Jane’s ex-boyfriend did the horizontal mambo themselves.

Also, although they broke up, Jane’s boyfriend got off (no pun intended) relatively Scott free. And was rewarded with sex with Cindy a year or two later.  The make out session occurred in late December and it was after that semester that I came back home and was out of school for 9 months until I went to UIC and finished my bachelors.  I'd hear bits and pieces of the saga in letters and phone calls and have pieced together the following.

Cindy gave Linda the cold shoulder for the entire Spring semester. She did everything she could to make Linda’s life uncomfortable and unpleasant. We were all in a service fraternity together and the requirements -- besides the whole in friendship, leadership and service thing -- would force them to be together on various projects.  The funny thing is, Jane didn't really care especially since she was gone.  She transferred to another school because she completed her program at NMSU.

Then at the end of the semester, Cindy had an epiphany or something because she apparently apologized for how she treated Linda. I wasn’t there so I don’t know if it was one of those fake apologies or a sincere one.

I asked Linda about it once, and she said something like -- keep in mind, I'm going off more than two decades of old memories here: 

It's nice that Cindy apologized but it doesn't really undo the sixteen weeks of hell she put me through to get here especially since this is my last semester.  Linda was transferring schools as well. 

FWIW many of the curriculum at NMSU were two year pre-programs designed to get you started and then ship you off to a school with a full program.  I was ambitiously attempting to become an electrical engineer and failing miserably at it.

I checked once and could have sworn these people were all friends on FaceBook, except maybe Jane and Linda or the ex. I checked recentlyand found that Linda isn’t friends with Cindy or the ex, so I don’t know if there was de-friending involved or if I imagined the whole thing in the first place.

I was thinking about Linda's declaration the other day and the story that goes with it.  Over the years I've had perhaps more than my fair share of falling out with friends.  Sure, I'm the common denominator so that's my demon and I face it more often than I like.  Still, in most conflicts, rarely is one side 100% to blame.  Today there doesn't seem to be a point in the future when my catholic friends and I reconcile our differences.
Still with enough time, anything is possible.

Cindy and I were what I thought were good friends in college. We kept in touch post-NMSU then suddenly she stopped writing or returning emails. Through the grapevine, I heard that she was mad at me for some reason. I asked mutual friends to see if they could find out what I had done to earn her wrath but no one knew. She wouldn't talk about it. I made one more attempt in the mid 90s to see if she was up for re-connecting and as I understand it the response was no thanks.

For some reason, I friended her on FB a year or two ago. I was surprised when she accepted. We don't comment on one another's posts too often, though we wish each other happy birthday and congrats on major life milestones. I think this is probably as good as it gets this late in life.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Wish I had shared these sooner

Damned if you do, Damned if you don't:  At the low-rent consulting company (C2) I worked at many years ago, one of my Menace's unoffical functions was to make sure you were always second guessing yourself.

Let's say you walked into ABC client's office at 10 am.  You get to the server room and see that the servers are literally on fire.  It's now 10:01 am.  If you try to put the fires out and then call when the fires are contained, let's say 10:06am, my Menace would say "why didn't you call me as soon as you discovered the servers were on fire?"  

Now let's go back in our magic time machine and go back to 10:01 am (no need to go back before the fire and prevent it for the purposes of this example).  You see that the servers are on fire and you call the office to let them know. Menace:   "Well have you tried putting the fires out?"

Conversation with former co-worker last night on Instant Messenger:

CO-WORKER27: so how's it going?
CO-WORKER27: like it?
CO-WORKER27: better than C2?

ICARUS: it's going good.
ICARUS: but so far, it's been orientation and training...the real work begins tomorrow.

CO-WORKER27: ooooooh.

ICARUS: however, I suspect that my worse day at this law firm will be better than my best day at C2.

CO-WORKER27: no Menace like types?

ICARUS: My Menace is unique breed...the last one like her was killed when Dorothy threw a bucket of water on her

CO-WORKER27: OMG! that was hilarious!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Once in a While, We all need Sombody to Talk to

It's been an interesting week.  On Sunday we found not one but two houses we like that are not where we would like them to be (more on that later).  We also finally went to Mariano's and restocked our fridge.  Mariano's has been our new go-to grocery store even over A&G because of the combination of abundant organic food and very competitive prices.
because Fuck Whole Foods!

For the first time that I can recall, CARA canceled the Saturday LR because of the heat.  Of course.  I had just sent this message to my pace group:
I haven’t heard any talk of canceling this week’s run but keep in mind that any week, it’s always on the table if the weather looks to be unsafe. The site coordinators will decide that morning, based on weather reports, whether to delay or cancel the run if conditions are unsafe, and that decision is generally made at the last minute at our starting location. Because the decision is made at the last possible minute – in order to improve the chances of completing that LR -- there is no mechanism in place to cancel the run before everyone wakes up and arrives at the site. I know that kinda sucks and we’d all rather sleep in but at least it gives us the best chance of getting our run in early. It’s all about you and putting you in the best position to successfully complete your LR each week.
and it seemed like literally two minutes after that email went out, we got the email from our Site Leader that the run was canceled. 

So the point is that SHB and I met for a run on Sunday because we knew everyone from CARA would overwhelm the Montrose Site.  I really like running with SHB. I'm not so sure about listening to her stories, especially since she 1) repeats the same ones over and over without realizing that I probably know the rough outline better than she does and 2) provides an extraneous level of detail that often seems like dramatic foreshadowing but in reality is unnecessary detail, and 3) when I tell a story, I barely get two minutes of her precious time and attention before she changes it back to her.

On Monday Nightingale and I met after work for our half mile swim at the Portage Park Pool during adult lap swim.  Then we came home and grilled the steaks we bought.  Or maybe the steaks were Tuesday, I don't really remember. This time of year we grill as often as possible.

On Thursday we joined friends for a picnic/concert in Millennium Park and also a group therapy session for Tracy and Hanna. Tracy has reached what I call Stage Two of her post-addiction to Fitz. Stage One was realizing he wasn't going to change, EVER, and she needed to break away. He's like her opium so she couldn't just cut him out cold turkey.  However, now that she has had six months in the city with half as many nights not spent with him as spent with him, the Fitz-opium has left her blood stream and she's seeing how he really took advantage of her all these years.  Stage Two is Anger and it's not pretty.

So we found two houses that we absolutely love.  Both houses have most if not all of our Must-Have items and many of our Nice-to-Have items.  Neither place has the high walkability of Portage or even Jefferson Park that we are seeking. House1 is bigger and better but in a more unknown neighborhood.  House2 only pales to House1 because we saw House1 first. 

House2 has a better commute for us. It is also the safer choice school and eco-socially.  To be sure, House1 is not in the ghetto or anything.  House2 just has had better luck in maintaining a higher middle class.

According to the story, House1 was built by a builder -- we've seen a few of these and you can tell when someone went the extra mile as this builder clear did -- who designed and built this house with the expectation that it was going to be his Forever Home.  This house in the suburbs or Green Zone is worth $700K easy.  The fact that I'm not linking to it or outing the neighborhood should tell you that we are actually considering it.

The thing that sucks most for me about this is I don't have anyone to really sound this out with.  Most of my friends either aren't in a situation to buy yet or are like SHB and wouldn't know these areas of town because they aren't "in the city".  If Fitz weren't in his own little woe is me world, his only advice on house buying would be his broken record line that there are plenty of fixer upper foreclosures out there for much less.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July

With Independence Day falling on a Wednesday, half the country took Monday and Tuesday off and the other half will have Thursday and Friday off.  Some lucky souls probably saved enough days to take the entire week off. 

I usually like these weeks because it means nothing gets done an easy week in Corporate America.  However, I have my year end review on Thursday and I never look forward to reviews.  I learned a long time ago I'm not the type that wows anyone with work performance.  Just like I could never get straight As in high school and college, I could never go an entire performance period without pissing someone off, or missing a deadline or having something go wrong that while not technically my fault, still my responsibility.

It doesn't help that I've been extremely slow the last few months.  Our fiscal year comes to a close at the end of this month so my projects have been put on hold until the 2013 budget is approved.  I'm also not a good Look Busy Person and I'm terrible at sitting at my desk until the 5 o'clock Whistle Blows person.  The temptation to leave early, especially to avoid traffic, is enormous.

In my last post I said that I wasn't going to do my typical review of houses we saw on Sunday. However, one place does come to mind that I should write about. 3647 N Kedvale St, 5 bd/2.5 ba $499,900.

This house has a beautiful garden and magnificent outdoor living space. There are decks and a suana and even a basketball court. all on an double lot. My question is, did they do this at the expense of the inside space? From the listing, it says that it has been the same owner for over 30 years, ergo they should own the place outright.

For one, you can tell this is a family of smokers who smoke inside the house.   Second, it hasn't been updated since the 80s when they likely put in the back addition to the house.  Third, did I mention it reeked of smoke?

I'm not trying to judge.  I'm sure they had a lot of big plans.  They also appear to have a large family which isn't cheap.  They probably did what they could and got the outside space as wonderful as possible.  Now they are riding on the home values of Old Irving Park.  It is hard to find another home in a four block radius for under half a million in as decent of condition.  Someone looking in the $550-600K price range will snap this up and consider it a steal.

Monday, July 2, 2012

One Hot mess after another

Saturday's Long Run was a hot sweaty mess. One of the many things that suck about being tethered to a training schedule is that you pretty much have to get the LR in if possible. You can get away with skipping your Thursday 3 miler fairly often without impact but once you start the marathon training process, you need to run long distance consistently during the 18 week season. Even though I’m not training for a marathon, I’m going to have to run the majority of these LRs just to keep up with the group. 
The run made me feel like these salmon

That means even if the training run is canceled due to inclement weather -- like the kind that the radar was hinting at as last as Friday afternoon – you still have those miles hovering over you and when the weather breaks, it might be later in the day when the temperature is much higher.

What sucks even more is because the decision is made at the last possible minute – in order to improve the chances of completing that LR -- there is no mechanism in place to cancel the run before everyone wakes up and arrives at the site.

Fortunately, the storms didn’t arrive and the run went on as scheduled, if not planned. I don’t want to go into all the details because to set it up I have to explain so much to my non-marathoner readers (both of them). Let’s just say that egos trumph sensibility and my group made the usual early season rookie error of going out too fast in the heat.

Most are young and don't realize the effects heat has on you at mile 7 when you run mile 2 at sub 8:30 pace. The point is most of the group was gassed a lot sooner than they had to be and this week’s goal will be to convince everyone it’s perfectly legal to start out slower on the way out and make up some of the time on the way back.

SHB can be annoying, especially when she is being competitive. A mutual friend’s wife had posted some cryptic status updates on FB. Given that her last significant pre-cryptic post stated that she was 12 weeks pregnant, it didn’t take a genius to figure out what happened.

After the run, I asked SHB if she had heard and she had to point out how she solved the Mystery of the Vague Posts before our friend actually came out and used the word miscarriage in some later post.
The thing is, I know she wasn’t trying to be boastful, it’s just the way she is. Sometimes, I think the girl just needs a hug.

We didn't do much else on Saturday except finally got the passport photo for Nightingale squared away. We also purchased pool passes for Chicago Public Pools lap swims.

Had to modify this recipe

Sunday we went for a swim at Portage Park Pool. I had to double back because while I packed a change of cothes, I forgot to pack my actual swimsuit. We then hit the farmers market and then had brunch at Sutherland’s.

Then we looked at some more houses. I'm not gonna do a separate post on those. Instead I’ll just say that we are getting discouraged. If we can afford it, it needs more work than we want to deal with. There have been two places that were almost-runs. They would be good choices if we could get them for significantly less than the asking price. However, the owners overpaid and do not have any wiggle room to bring their price down even if they wanted to.

I did get to try a recipe I found on the blog of a friend of a friend.  His recipe is for broiling and I wanted to grill, but it still came out tasting good.