Friday, July 17, 2020

Knocked another item on our Get The House Ready to Sell List

When we bought this house our inspector told us that we had a couple of problems with the electrical.  First problem was the feed was over the deck, which is absolutely against code.  Like it was never okay and there is no grandfather clause for that one.

Second, the electric panel in the basement was also not up to code.  It was using something called 'Cheaters' which allowed a 200 amp service to work with a 100 amp panel.  At least that is how it was explained to me.  It was also explained that this is fine in most parts of the country but not in Cook County.  Yay government oversight! 

We asked the owner to address it and he reluctantly gave us some money to take care of it.  I was prepared to walk away because this is a legitimate get out of contract free card issue.  But the respective realtors wanted their money after spending so much effort finding us a home and marketing his, so they convinced him to give us a credit.   Of course the standard way of determining how much money is by getting three of your electrician friends to give you lowball quotes and you take the average.  You will never find an electrician who will do the work for that price. 

Can you picture Boris hitting this with a rake?

I've been getting quotes for years from electricians who would do the panel and the move and upgrade the service (I wasn't sure if we had a 200 Amp service but it appears we do) and they all came in around $3K. 

Honestly, I don't remember how much was given but now that I think about it, it might have been more generous than I remember.

I got the panel taken care of in 2017, or was it 2018, via an Angie's list deal for about $800, IIRC.  But the electrician kept upping the price to move the feed because there are only so many good spots to put it and putting it in the best exterior location might have meant moving the panel which is a lot of work. 


When COVID-19 derailed our plans to list the house and move south, I decided it was time to fix this issue so that I wouldn't have to give the next buyer a credit for this.  I'm likely gonna have to give them a credit for something else, because there is always something else, so this helps.  Plus Boris was walking up the stairs once with an outstretched rake in his arms and although he's too short to reach the power line now...it's only a matter of time before we have fried Moose.


I got a couple of quotes and found someone I liked.  He figured out a way to move the line with minimal impact and without having to do some of the destructive things other electricians threatened.  He also consulted with ComEd to verify that it was up to code and best practices and we got their blessing so yay!



He came in April to give the estimate and I was honest and said I wanted to do this but couldn't pull the trigger at that moment because i had other projects in-flight but wanted to get this going before summer ended.  He was very accomodating and not pushy at all.


Ironically, once I was able to get to this, we had issues with weather.  May was rather rainy and we kept having to reschedule.  We pushed it out to the first Thursday in June but then Nightingale had us join the Adamas on a lakehouse vacation.  We were going to have him do the work anyway with my mom here to reach out if there  were any problems but my spidey sense said not to do that.  So I cancelled 11th hour and reschedule for the following week.  Between his schedule and the weather, we got it done on Friday, June 12th.  It was a good thing I rescheduled too because there was a slight misunderstanding in where they would put the new feed and by being there, they were able to rethink it on the fly. 

It cost $2500 and I do like how it came out.  I'm worried that if we stay here, we'll someday put an addition on the house and that will mean this was for naught but what can you do.

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Wednesday, July 8, 2020

What are the odds

In the summer of 1988, I worked at PPSB as a telephone solicitor.  I sold crummy magazine subscriptions to people.  I got the only job an experienced no-talent, not connected 19 yr old could get.

As you might imagine, a job like that has a revolving door of people.  I started with a guy named Alex who lived not to far away.  A couple of times we'd go to his place for lunch and have a few drinks to make our afternoons a little more pleasant.  He was a much heavier drinker than I, Cutty Sark being his drink of choice.  We really only did this two or three times before he got fired for being late or something.

Besides Alex, I can only remember a few others from that job.  There was Melissa who went to Northern University and was home for the summer.  She had  real boyfriend somewhere but hooked up with Alex to pass the time.  She lived within walking distance of the building.  Melissa was, as we'd say, good on the phones. 

Then there was Connie, who also was good at the phones.  She wasn't as comely as Melissa but had a steady live-in boyfriend.  She lived somewhere on Belmont, just west of the blue line station. 

Another girl named Marie was planning to go to medical school.   Connie, Marie and I went to Medussa's one night.  It was probably the only time any of us did anything outside of work.

Finally there was Kristen.  She split her time between San Diego and Chicago after her parent's divorce.  I had a crush on her but didn't do anything about it.



I've run into Melissa once since then.  I was walking somewhere downtown and she was outside her office building, presumable having a smoke.  She recognized me before I realized how I knew her.  She had also put some on weight which made me uncertain if it was her.

I've run into Connie and Marie probably twice as well.  Connie was my waitress one time at a bar & grill in the late 90s or early noughties.  Another time I was on a date and Marie and someone were sitting at the table next to me. 

I've run into Kirsten twice as well, both times at bars.  Once in the mid-90s and once in the early noughts.  Neither time was she willing to give me her number.

Clearly none of us made enough of an impression on one another to stay in touch in any way.  I have a vague memory of calling Marie once to see what she was up to, but again it didn't grow organically.

My point is, assuming everyone was always in Chicago during these 32 years, what are the odds that we would run into one another so seldom as we have?  I'll come back to that.

In 2008 I was in Krakow and I ran into Kimberly Chulis in the town square.  now we knew we were each going to be in Poland at the same time but had no plans to meet up.  In fact, if I had taken longer to get ready that day or she and her mom had lingered at breakfast, we might not have bumped into each other when we did.

My argument is that it is more unlikely for Kimberly and me to bump into each other than Alex, Melissa, Marie, Connie and Kristen not to run into each other in a longer time span, yet here we are. 


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Thursday, June 11, 2020

My attempt at a perfect BLT

While on quasi-vacation last week, I attempted to make a BLT that was more than just slapping Bacon, Lettice, and Tomato on bread.


We had already baked a bunch of bacon for breakfast with the idea that we would use the rest for BLTs.  The only problem with this is first, people pick at the bacon all day long, especially if it is out.  And second, we kept forgetting to get tomatoes from the store.



I should note that this was on the second to last day of our holiday and the only bread available was sourdough bread.  We also had a toaster oven instead of a regular toaster.  So I decided to try something different.  




First I buttered one side of each slice of bread.  Then I put this in the toaster oven for the default toast setting.  When it was done I put mayonnaise on the nonbuttered side, added the bacon, lettuce, and had to use avocado in lieu of tomato slices.







Overall it was rather yummy and a good first attempt.  Next time I either need a thicker cut of bread or not toast as long.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Quick Catch-up for June

Damn Nanny State:  My wallet has been missing since June 5th.  The irony is that I hadn't really needed my wallet during lockdown except for the few times I went shopping.  But on that Friday I had an Instacart delivery and they require seeing my ID.  It's frustrating because there is no one looking at me and saying, this guy might not be 21 years of age.

update:  the wallet was found 11 days later.

In addition to that my car battery was dead (we finally charged it Tuesday after it had been dead for at least 3 weeks).  And my bike has a flat tire.  It's like a country and western song if an urban hipster wrote it.

Every year we buy a cheap gazebo for our back deck.  And every year the damn thing gets destroyed by that one extra windy storm that usually occurs the week we are out of town.   This year we bought a metal pergola from Aldi's and it is a much better solution.  it fits the deck better too.  The only problems are it holds a ton of water in the small covering that came with it, and the design doesn't provide shade from the sides, where the sun comes through in the evenings.  Orienting the pergola 90 degrees isn't practical so we have to come up with some other solution.

I would like to get some cheap sectional outdoor furniture but everything is still so expensive.  I'm hoping I can catch a good clearance sale because I don't want to invest in anything too nice and have to worry about transporting it when we move south.




Moving South.  It is theoretically possible we could pull it off this fall but COVID-19 put us in a pause mode and now we are behind in terms of getting the kiddos into a school down there in a timely manner.  Plus given how the little douche nuggets destroy this house and make a mess

Electrical:  I've been trying to get an electrician over here to fix the power feed over the deck problem, more or less, since we moved in.  Usually, it's been cost prohibative but we finally decided to address is this summer since our plans to move are on hold.  We figure we have to deal with it when we sell so it is better to do it now.  



Every time I tried to schedule it, we'd get rain and it was unsafe to work with moving the power lines. The guy is scheduled (again) to come on Friday.  We shall see. 



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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

My first encounter with a Karen

My first summer home from college I got the only job an experienced no-talent, not connected 19 yr old could get: telephone soliciting (don't judge).

Sometimes my mom would sometimes pick me up after work.  She had a dark blue Cutless Ciera.  One time, I went to the parking lot and saw a dark blue Cutless Ciera and got into the passenger seat.  It was not my mom.  it was another mid-30s white woman.


As soon as I realized the error, I said "whoops, wrong car."  But Ms. Karen wasn't hearing any of it.  She was screaming panicking and not calming down.  Understandable from a certain point of view.  

ninety seconds later Karen's kids showed up.  They vouched for me that we all worked together and we had a big laugh.  It became a running joke back at work for the remaining two weeks that Lenny and Squggy still worked there.  

Heres' the thing:  Karen went from OMG YOU COULD ONLY BE TRYING TO ROB/RAPE/KILL ME -- NO OTHER EXPLANATION is PLAUSIBLE to "oh it's an honest mistake want to join us for movie night in 20 milliseconds."

the lady with the unleashed dog reminds me of my coworkers' mother.

I should add that Lenny and Squggy quit that job a couple of weeks later on principle.  Our employer, Roger, had this incentive program.  We were paid for 35 hours at $4/ hr which comes to $144 per week.  The details escape me but essentially we got an additional $1/hr and an extra 5 hours of pay if we didn't come in late, come back from lunch late and I think didn't need to leave early.  So an extra $56 in 1988 dollars isn't anything to sneeze at.

Still, Roger was being an asshole and probably circumventing some labor law but Lenny and Squggy were probably trying to get out of working all summer so they could instead enjoy the benefits of whatever suburban home they lived in.  

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Thursday, May 14, 2020

Knocked off one item on our Get The House Ready to Sell List

I addressed one of the items on our Get The House Ready to Sell Todo list.

I hired a handyman to fix the decorative railing.  I'm happy with the price but not with the scope of work.  Let me back up.

In order to make this work out for everyone, I had a handyman come over a few weeks ago and went over my Punch List.  This itself was a bit of a drag because they were eager to come over earlier than scheduled because it snowed and they couldn't do any work.  I was swamped that day so I stuck to our original Friday appointment (April 17th). 

Before
Then it took over a week to get the quote.  And then another week or so to schedule the work.  The weather was a factor (originally scheduled for May 5th but rain prevented outside work) but still, it stretched the time out.  I didn't mind much because  I wasn't in that much of a hurry to shell out money.

Anyway, they bunched a few things together and for this day of work (May 8th). 
  • Move electrical outlet from fence to deck
  • Raise outlet on deck
  • Reseal basement shower
  • Repair railing on top of front porch

The total cost was $800 (plus $80 in materials) but ended up being $600 because they finished early and couldn't do the shower because a part wasn't available. 

After
I should have been clearer in that I not only wanted the railing fixed but also sanded and painted.  This would have added to the cost and maybe it's a good thing that they didn't because I could certainly use my spare time to strip, sand and paint it myself, or outsource it to someone else.  I do think they could have put more wood putty on some of the other parts of the railing instead of focusing just on the North end. 

My only real complaint is they didn't do a spectacular job of post-work cleanup.  Also, I know they left with some supplies I paid for that they should have left behind but maybe someone else will benefit.

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Monday, May 4, 2020

Future House Hunting

So while our plans to move have been put on hold, that hasn't stopped me from looking at Real Estate Porn and seeing what type of homes are available in our presumed new location.

While Nightingale's parents and sister are in Mississippi, we are targeting Tennessee because of the taxes and better schools.  We were told a place called Collierville is the answer to our needs.  I know nothing about it except that it is essentially the Memphis version of Naperville.

Here are links to two homes that are well out of our budget.  We do not want to be mortgage poor and barely scraping by to make the rent.  If these houses drop significantly in price that will be a sign that the market is going down which might not bare well for selling our Chicago home, even though Real Estate is very regional, it is likely if a bust is coming, it would hit Chicago first than Collierville.

1289 Marsh Creek Ln  ($579,900)

I like the carport (porte-cochère) garage area.  Essentially there is a garage for our cars and a workshop area for me.  I also like the bathroom with the walkthrough shower (picture 13). 




The enclosed back porch looks interesting but not the kickass outdoor space I'd like or expect at this price point.  no good picture of the yard.



I do not like the entryway (pic 2) because of the wasted space above the front door.  The kitchen is nice but closed off to most of the house.




1330 Martway ($589,000)

It has a big driveway which is nice.  The space at the top of the entryway looks accessible which can come in handy when we get a cat.  The Kitchen is phenomenal and open to the rest of the house.  The bathrooms look large and nice.  Ther is a huge walk-in closet for NG.  The outdoor space is more open and could probably be built up.



As I said these houses are way out of our budget.  We want our next home to be affordable and paid off quickly so that we can retire as early as possible.  The version of these homes in our budget will likely have one fewer bedroom and perhaps even one fewer bathroom.  But I'm taking note of what I like in a house so that we can find something that approximates it in our price range with the hope that we can build on at a later point.

We aren't gonna add a bedroom but we might be able to update a kitchen or bathroom or build an awesome outdoor space.

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