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.

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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Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Year Four at Big Audit is in the books

I made it through Year 4 at Big Audit.  All this means is that I get to keep 60% of my vested 401K firm matched contributions.  It's no accident the way they designed the proration.

Years of Vesting ServiceVested Percentage
less than 20%
2 but less than 320%
3 but less than 4 40%
4 but less than 5 60%
5 or more 100%


Every year on my anniversary, I look at the email that was sent to my "orientation" class.  There were eight of us, including myself.  Only myself and one other person are still here.  Even the HR person who sent the email and presided over the class is gone.

I don't remember the stats for the previous years but I'm certain even after the first year the number diminished.  I know one person changed careers to become a teacher.  She looked like a Carrie Bradshaw clone and had actually led me to the conference room and babysat me during my in-person interview two months before.

To say it has been a rough 4 years is an understatement.  My Office Nemesis and I have been having more and more issues.  It has got so bad that my PML forced his PML to get involved and our director even got involved.  So far it has mostly been Kangaroo Court Retorhic but there has been some improvement so I'll take it.


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Thursday, April 2, 2020

Staying put literally and figuratively

Like most of the world, we are under Home Quarantine because of the COVID-19 virus.  I don't have any hot takes or thinky-thoughts that anyone else doesn't have though I will try to write more here and at ChicagoNow for future alien anthropologists that explore our post-apocalyptic planet to consume.

Before this all begin, we were getting ready to put the house on the market.  We were trying to figure out when Nightingale could quit her job.  In order to not burn bridges, she needed to give at least a month's
notice.

We also needed to do a few more things around the house before we could officially put it on the market.  Our realtors felt like we should have listed ASAP but hat's what realtors always say.  in their line of work it a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush.  But there was no way we could have had everything ready by March 1.  And our house shows better in optimal weather, especially with the lack of central air.

Below is a list of things we need to address, more or less in the order of priority.  Meaning if we could only do one thing, start with number one, etc.

at the same time, our biggest need is the need to purge.  I started by selling things on FB marketplace and Letgo, with mixed results.  I did manage to get rid of some big items and make a little money at the same time.   But I also got ghosted and the usual freaks and weirdos.

My thought is that I don't want to move things into a local storage center.  Then transport things to a Memphis area storage center.  and then to our new home once we finally find it.  Also, everything has a cost: do I pay to move it or replace it?  Or do we really need it at all?

I thought that FIL could fly up on a Tuesday, load a truck with the first batch of stuff we know we are keeping but don't need here (NG family dressers, the spare grill I bought that is still in the box, our free weights, etc) and then he could drive off early the next morning, with NG.  They would get down there in time to drop it off at storage and return the truck to the local U-haul, or even if they did it the next morning that's fine.  Then NG would fly back that Thursday afternoon, or even stay until Saturday.

Decorative Railing:  This has two fixes, expensive or cheap.  The cheap easy fix is to remove it.  And I am prepared to do so.  However,  part of me feels like it could be repaired and restored with some help.  It might mean hiring a pro and spending more than I should or if my MIL truly can help, we could do it together.



New Window Treatment for middle bedroom, living room bay window, and kitchen windows.

Paint the Basement: one consistent color of white.  There is no point in doing this while the kiddos are still running around making a mess down there.




Replace carpet in the basement.  There is no point in doing this before the basement gets painted.

Repair Plaster ceiling in the living room.  This is also easy or hard.  I don't know enough about it but I think we can get it cosmetically repaired quickly.  Or do it the right way which will take longer and cause more dust and clean up issues.  I even think we might get away with not doing anything about it but it will be the realtor's call.

Attic Steps painting:  this one is just a nice to have.  Right now the stairs are white but very dingy looking.  I think a dark grey color will make it look better and hide dirt.

Pipe Dream:  I would still like to fix the basement shower.  The problem it doesn't' seem like a cheap fix and I am not gonna pay for a bathroom reno that I won't get to enjoy.

Also, the fence between our house and our neighbor to the North of us is falling down.  At least three posts have rotted through so its likely at the point where replace versus repair costs about the same.  I suspect that if I were to check the survey, my property line is a little more north than it is right now.  which could be an issue because I don't want to screw the next owner out of land.

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Monday, March 9, 2020

Early spring arrival

Update:  This was drafted before the current COVID-19 Events and I forgot to hit publish.

Not only did we have a mild winter, but we are getting an early spring.  In all my years living in Chicago, I've always been cautiously optimistic about declaring an early spring.  We usually get one more snowstorm after the shovels have been put away.  As if Winter was trying to mock us while also using up the last of his snow supply.

But in the last decade or so, I'd say we have had very mild winters.  Sure we have had a couple of polar vortexes and a fair amount of snow, but nothing near what I remember as a kid.  Call it Climate Change or whatever, but the winters have not been as bad during the 10s as they were in the 00s or 90s.

That said, this is likely my last winter here.  We have decided to move to Tennessee.  We still have to officially put the house on the market, and for that, there are still some things to be done around the house.

But most importantly, we have to purge.  It costs a lot to move across state and every item might be a premium.  Everything we get rid of means room for something else in the moving truck.





I've been trying to sell things on LetGo and FB Marketplace with some relative success and headache.  Between getting ghosted and people trying to low ball you an already bargain-basement prices, it can sometimes be more trouble than it is worth.  On the other hand, I do enjoy when someone completes a transaction and something leaves our cluttered house and is replaced with spending money for Boris and Natasha. 

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Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Short Winter, no running goals and pushing our luck


January is essentially over.  February is a short month although this year it has an extra day.  And while there is no guarantee that March and April will be snow-free or even snow-lite, it does feel like this will turn out to be a mild winter.  Which is good for a guy who no longer owns a snowblower.



We might be pushing our luck a little bit.  Not only do I sneak out during my workday to pick up the kids from school, but I also need to sneak out a little early to get them to Tae Kwon Do twice a week.
 Unfortunately, Boris got kicked out of TKD so now we need to come up with something else for him to do to burn energy and not sit around all day watching screens. 



While I decided not to have a running goal for 2020, I still intended to run whenever the mood and opportunity suit me.  Today is the 28th of January and I've run 25 miles this month.  I'm hoping to get a run in tomorrow but even if I don't run another mile this month, I will only be 6 miles under the MPD objective of last year.

Update 01/30/2020:  I just got back from a 4 mile run with Mr Lumpy.  That brings my total up to 29.5 for January, so I was short by 1.5 miles without even trying.

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Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Optimal Parking Spot

After attending public school for two months now, I have some observations.  It only took me a week to figure out the drop off and parking situation.  Basically, you want to find the spot that is closest to the building but farthest from all the Drop Off Drama.

If we leave the house before 7:20 and everything lines up correctly, we can snag this spot.  My kids love it because there is a ramp for them to jump onto, which avoids any mud.  This won't work once snow covers the ground.  I like it because I can use the driveway of the abandoned house across the street to execute a three-way turn and head back the way I came.  Alternatively, if I have a clear enough path in front of me, I can head north and pick up Cullom Avenue without waiting too long.


The afternoon pickup is a little more tricky.  Morning drop off is between 7:30 and 7:45, but for some reason, afternoon pickup is precisely at 2:45 pm.  Since we don't have After Care, I have been essentially taking a break from work and going to pick them up.  In order to minimize time away from the work desk,  I leave at 2:30, usually get there between 2:35 and 2:40 so I don't have to wait too long.  One time I was parking at exactly 2:45 so when I walked up to pick up, Natasha thought I was late.  I tried to explain that I usually was just one of the first parents in line but today I was at the back, but she wasn't having any of that. 

I can usually get the kids and be back at my desk by 3pm.  Sometimes it goes a little over if there is heavy traffic or the kids take their sweet time getting to and into the car.  We only have to do this for four more months so hopefully there aren't any conflicts with work between now and then.

Now for those observations.  There is always that one parent who parks blocking the sidewalk because their little snowflake cannot walk two more car lengths to the empty spot...or they don't want to park that far for reasons.  There are also a few people who either don't know or don't care how to drive through a round-a-bout. 



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Monday, January 6, 2020

New Running Shoes for 2020 and a little boyond


Woot had a sale so I decided to buy these Saucony Men's Guide ISO 2 TR.  I got two pairs so I can hopefully remember to alternate them between runs.

Back in the day, I would have bought one pair, run in them until my mileage was between 300 and 500 miles, and then try to find another pair.  Usually, by then the price had come down because the next model would be released. Being on a budget, I'd push closer to the 500 miles.  Even then, I was going through 2-3 pairs of shoes a year.

Now I have the budget to buy two pairs at once but I don't have the running stamina.  Even at a conservative 300 miles per pair, these two should last me through 2021 and probably a little beyond.


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Friday, January 3, 2020

Happy first few days of 2020

I hope 2019 wasn't too terrible for you.  It couldn't end fast enough for me.  For some reason, years that end in 9 always turn out craptastic for me.

Since Nightingale's parents moved to Olive Branch, MS, holidays have defaulted to going there because Younger_Sister is also nearby.  As the kids get older each road trip is a little easier but ultimately it is still me just watching my kids in a different zip code.

We typically drive to Mt Vernon, Ill and spend the night at a Drury Inn, which apparently is halfway to a lot of destinations.  One time I struck up a conversation with this guy who was going to Virginia Beach from Colorado!  He told me he drives 13 hours, comes to this hotel, and then gets up at 3 in the morning to drive the next 13 hours!

The Drury is nice in that it includes a buffet dinner and breakfast.  Nothing fancy, or even remotely healthy, but it saves us the trouble of getting back in the car to search for food after having the kids strapped into their car seats for 4+ hours.  And it has a nice indoor/outdoor pool that is good for running down my kids' battery so they sleep.  So we burn an extra 2 days for travel but it is better than being in the car for 10+ hours.

It wasn't too bad this trip.  The in-laws managed to keep their political viewpoints under wraps until almost the last day (usually they break by midweek).  My FIL doesn't like his quiet routine disrupted and all the grandkids running around getting into things did get him to go full OLD_MAN_GET_OFF_MY_LAWN mode before not too long, but otherwise, it was one of the better trips in recent years.



That said, ever time  I think moving down there won't be so bad, BIL Jethro does a good job of talking me out of it by simply opening his mouth and spewing Fox News talking points.  I remind myself that he is just voicing out loud what a lot of people down there are thinking inside.

We are being pressured to move down there.  Nightingales' dad is 70 and he is having health issues.  the sister that lives down there already isn't capable of taking care of him, especially now that she has an almost 2-year-old.

We do have to move.  Our house has some warts that just aren't worth the money to remediate especially since our school system is okay, but not great.  I don't want to make it sound like our house is terrible nor do I want to dive into all the issues.  Let's just start with Air Conditioning.  We only have window units and it is cost-prohibitive to install space pack, Mitsubishi wall units or even standard central air.

The issue is if we move to a good school system, we get less house.  Or we can move to the suburbs where we don't know anyone and Nightingale's commute would suck even more.  She would likely have to quit her job and if she's gonna do that, then why not move South and enjoy a lower cost of living.

The other issue is my mom.  The smart, adult thing would be to sell her home and use the money to purchase a decent home that could comfortably house her, me, Nightingale and the kids.  But she won't do that.  Instead, we'll move to Mississipi and then she'll decide to join us or die and I'll have to come back and deal with all of the probates.  Alternatively, she could sell her home, and we could pay this one off and she could live here and we'd become snowbirds.

But no.  She'll wait until we move down there and then either come visit and never leave, while still footing the utilities for her home, or she'll die and I'll have to come back here and try to settle things up over weekends while incurring hotel and airfare costs.


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