Saturday, May 31, 2003

Test Post

A bug developed in the RSS feed. With any luck, this post will allow the fixed version to build itself. :-)


Friday, May 30, 2003

Wow, a Worthwhile Friday Five!

1. What do you most want to be remembered for? This is something of a tie with me, between A) raising a solid, healthy family of good citizens, and B) writing a book whose importance will outlast me. I'm still kind of getting started on both of those. :-)

2. What quotation best fits your outlook on life? "Life is too short to waste time hurrying."

3. What single achievement are you most proud of in the past year? My move to Birmingham, currently in progress.

4. What about the past ten years? Hmm. Surviving my divorce, probably.

5. If you were asked to give a child a single piece of advice to guide them through life, what would you say? No matter how important or insurmountable you think your problems are, you're probably wrong.


Blogger Slow, BlogSpot Flaky, Comments Crashy
-- Must be Friday :-(

I've finally hammered the CSSier version of the template down the throats of BlogSpot's servers; it only took downloading w.bloggar, as mentioned in the previous post. Looks like a good utility - so far I'd recommend it to anyone still stuck on Blogger/BlogSpot - it can really ease the daily posting pain.

Netscape 7/Mozilla and IE6-Windows test fine with the new template; IE5 for the Mac wasn't doing too well with the new template last night - I'll have to check again tonight, with the latest changes in. Netscape 4 is a total loss. But then it was with the prior version of the template, too - I checked. Moral of the story: upgrade your browser!

This town continues to surprise me. I keep expecting oppressive heat, and we're still piddling around in the low 80s, with June right around the corner. Now that the rain's stopped, what's supposed to impress? ;-) C'mon, bring it!

Yawn. I realized this morning that, since I'm between domiciles and trying to conserve funds, I've allowed myself to fall into a routine, and this has in turn brought me to the brink of a stagnant attitude.

Fortunately this is fixable. Armed with sugarmama's list of beery places around town, I shall endeavor this evening to sample the wares of a few. :-) I've also been invited golfing very early Sunday morning -- should be fun, in a bleary, AM sort of way. ;-)


Test Post

I'm trying out a new utility called w.bloggar to compose and upload posts. It's still Blogger behind the scenes, but this may allow me to bypass Blogger's not-entirely-stable web interface.

It'll also ping for me (letting the world know when I've updated) if everything works as planned.


Thursday, May 29, 2003

Behind-the-Scenes Updates

Did some tweaking on the template behind Brain Squeezings today. If I did what I did well, then there should be absolutely no difference in the look or feel of the site.

The changes involved making all the blogrolls at left into CSS-formatted boxes instead of HTML tables, which ought to be smaller and faster.

The problem is compatibility with older browsers. It looks like Netscape 4.x is completely unable to display Brain Squeezings now; on the other hand I'm not sure it ever was once I went to the current page design. Netscape 7 seems to do okay, but the blogroll boxes at left are all supposed to be the same width. Netscape's bug or Microsoft's? Hard to say.

I also found some bugs wherein I closed a table cell twice, and closed a DIV tag after the table cell that contained its start. Amazing that Internet Explorer could display the page at all.

Just goes to show how much slack Microsoft had to build into its HTML parsers to accommodate sloppy coding. Still, I almost wish they hadn't done so well; that way I wouldn't have had a buggy page for the past year or so.

Please let me know if the browser you use barfs on the page.


Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Home Ownership, Beer

I got things set up for my homeowners' insurance today, and barring some unforeseen occurrence, there's nothing left in the way of my taking possession of the new place on June 6 [not July 6!]. Exciting!

Aaaand, Back to Beer
I've been maintaining the "Amber Waves" episode of the Food Network show Good Eats (in which Alton Brown shows us how to make homebrew beer; it's show that put me over the beer-making "edge" and got me started) on my TiVo since I first caught it. I mention this because I watched it for the first time in a while last night, and it got me excited about the beer I plan to make once I get moved into the new place, June thirteenth or so.

My main computer with its beer-formulation software is languishing in Richmond, but so far I have two brews I want to get going ASAP once I'm settled.

A sweet stout. Lots of heavily roasted malt, lightly hopped and carbonated, mildly alcoholic (4.5-5.5% abv). Almost a chocolate-malt character; in fact I may well add some "chocolate malt" (a particular type of roast), and even some bittersweet chocolate if I feel the impulse.

A historically accurate 16th- or 17th-century English Ale. There's some research I need to do, but I'm aiming for something moderately hopped, lightly carbonated, with medium-high alcohol (6-7.5%), and lots of smooth malty character. For my friends in the Richmond Shakespeare Festival when they drop by Hoover this late Summer or Fall.

"...and I will make it felony to drink small beer."
- William Shakespeare, King Henry VI Part II, Act iv, Scene 2.

Birmingham's Beer, So Far
My new home town has proven to have gratifyingly good specialty-beer availability, at least to a relatively shallow depth: Pete's Wicked and Sam Adams are ubiquitous, and it's surprisingly easy to find Sierra Nevada labels as well, and not just the flagship brews, either; Sierra Nevada Porter, Stout and Wheat beers are in evidence, and I even found some Anchor Steam and Anchor Porter around, not to mention a Sam Adams Cream Stout that's heavenly.

I have yet to make the time to visit a local brewpub or brewery (there aren't many), but that's on the list.


Tuesday, May 27, 2003

RSS Feed Added

Wahey! Looks like Blogger finally got its act sufficiently in gear for me to grab, hold, and edit Brain Squeezings' template. This allowed me to head over to BlogMatrix (thanks for the linkage go to Tripp), and A) add their special blend of metadata herbs and spices to Squeezings' source HTML, and then B) throw their automated tools at the site and generate an RSS feed for me.

For those who aren't familiar with the concept of an RSS feed, I'll try to explain. RSS (view the specification) stands for Really Simple Syndication, and what it boils down to is an XML-based file format that is useful for representing a series of news stories, either in title-and-digest form, or all the way to full-blown HTML-formatted stories. Since weblog entries can look an awful lot like news stories when you squint, RSS listings wind up being a very useful method for representing the contents of blogs.

This allows special programs called RSS aggregators to read these listings and then present the contents of a given RSS-enabled blog as individual stories, complete with web links directly to each story, and the ability to let you know when a given site has been updated since the last time you looked at it.

It's possible to get almost all news everywhere through RSS feeds these days; I've heard of people who almost never open a news site any more unless they get there through an RSS link.

So anyway, Brain Squeezings has joined the 21st century at last; links to BlogMatrix and my shiny new RSS feed are at left, should you be inclined to aggregate me, or just view the XML.


Monday, May 26, 2003

Blog Modernization

One of the interesting things that's happened as a result of Operation Iraqi Freedom is the thrusting into the spotlight of weblogs. Certainly my little squeezings don't merit anything like that sort of attention, but all the hoopla has made me think a bit about tidying up the place. In no particular order, here are the things I want to get done here:

  • Put together an RSS feed so I can be aggregated by the all the XML-based news collector programs out there. I can do this now with a third-party tool or two.
  • Move the bleeding hell off BlogSpot. It's been a trusty (and free) friend, but sometimes it's fast, sometimes it's slow, and sometimes it simply fails to send the page. One gets what one pays for. Oh, and I'm a paying customer (thus no banner ads), so so much for that.
  • Come up with homegrown (or at least locally hosted) replacements for YACCS, SiteMeter, Blogrolling and other third-party bangles. While, again, they've been good free/low-cost tools to get started with, I'll feel better when power's been given to the regional governors and their functions are under my direct control. :-)
  • (Eventually) move to my very own homegrown weblog software (in progress, but currently stuck on my server in Richmond), i.e., no Blogger, Moveable Type, Radio Userland, or Greymatter. If it breaks, I can fix it; if it needs a feature, I can add it. Gonna get me my Martha Stewart on.
I do like the current "Squeezings look" just fine, so there probably won't be too many visible changes, but with any luck over the next few months there should be a real increase in performance, reliability and general Good Stuff here.


Sunday, May 25, 2003

Memorial Day Thoughts

It's a day early, but I had the thought, and saving it for a day didn't make sense.

I'm about fifty pages away from the end of the book Corelli's Mandolin, and I expect to finish it tonight (don't worry, Hunter, I've already finished Canticle for Leibowitz). A good friend recommended I grab it and give it a read what seems like a year or more ago. I promptly grabbed the book via, but then it sat on my "to be read eventually" shelf until I was preparing for the move to Birmingham and I stuffed it into my travel bag.

(I do this - I have several dozen books that I've bought on the advice of friends [or had bought for me by family - thanks again for the Vereshchagin books, Matt!] and will eventually break out as the mood strikes me, months or years down the pike. I'm also known for being midway through as many as ten books at once; I'm not sure how I keep them straight, but I seem to, so long as I don't dip into more than one book per day. This buy-it-now, read-it-later habit has served me well; inasmuch as I allow for the action of karma or capital-F Fate in my life, this is it: I seem to read such books when they're most relevant.)

Corelli's Mandolin (I've never seen the movie Captain Corelli's Mandolin; I've heard both that it's awful and good) is the story of a Greek island as it's occupied by the Italians, and then the Germans, during World War II. Most of the main characters are either Greeks or occupying Italians, and it's a brutal and beautiful book; the kind I hope to write someday.

But on to what's relevant to Memorial Day. I'm a poor historian, but from the point of view of the author, Greece wasn't one of the major players or theaters of the war, and most of the crimes it had to endure were those of neglect and negligence, at least until the Nazis took over for the defeated Italians. It's at about this point in the book when lots of characters start being killed, being emotionally shattered, or getting permanently separated from one another, and the question is raised over and over: who will be remembered for what (if at all), and who will be left to do the remembering?

I won't spoil the book for those who haven't read it by giving away too many specifics, but a great deal of the drama of the book revolves around the personal cowardice and/or valor of individual soldiers and citizens rather than the international interplay of the war. It's a good perspective; one easily overlooked or ill-recognized when arguing about the rectitude of this cause or that.

Mine is one of several American generations that hasn't had to endure the loss of a sizable fraction of itself to conflicts overseas or at home, and unless we're in one of the few families with a soldier who's been killed in action over the past decade or so, the reality of Memorial Day is a dilute one for us.

My own grandparents wound up helping the WWII effort at home (my mom's father helped manage a plant that made tanks in Detroit, and my dad's father oversaw some of the plants and Bauxite mines in Arkansas helping make aluminum for aircraft manufacture - Dad and/or Matt, if I'm making a hash of the facts, please correct me), but I have uncles on both sides of the family who saw action in either the European or Pacific campaigns. But I had to call and ask in order to get my facts anything close to straight.

My dad was a Cold Warrior, it occurs to me, during his time in the Air Force -- doing solid-rocket-fuel research in southern California. Cool. :-)

But in terms of Fallen Soldiers, the remembered generations of my family have been spared the bulk of personal tragedy, so it's been with a strangely impersonal gratitude that I look at footage of Arlington Cemetery, or the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, or hear the figures for American dead in Iraq.

Appropriate that it takes a fictional book to make me think in terms of the individual horrors and sorrow of real-life war.

Anyway, enjoy the Memorial Day holiday, everyone. Revel in your freedoms, have a hot dog and salute a soldier, alive or dead.


Saturday, May 24, 2003

Dawg Time

I am at work. Blogging from work, to be sure, but at work, because there's just stuff to do.

Before I came here today, I stopped by the vet's where Reese and Sebastian are being boarded as time inexorably grinds itself down to the point that I can actually move into my new house-to-be and let them tear around the new yard. Both dogs were very happy to see me, and I am now properly covered in dog fur and smelling doggy as I should be. :-)

Reese was, and always has been, a love bug. He likes nothing better in the world (save harrassing members of species Sciurus carolinensis) than to sit, tongue lolling and eyes half closed, and have his head scratched by his Daddy. He's always hardest to leave, because he's big enough to escape from an inattentive handler and cower behind Daddy, keep-away fashion, until Daddy takes him by the collar and guides him back into Evil Handler's care. This is what happened today. Poor pup.

Sebastian is generally more standoffish and, well, catty. Once he had established that I was in fact the guy who usually feeds him (though what have you done for me lately, huh, Daddy?), he spent most of our visit skirting the edges of the clinic's back-yard fence, elaborately marking and sniffing as is his canine wont. He dropped by for rubs from time to time, but on the whole he managed to convey that he was glad to see me but didn't want to reward my absentee behavior by demonstrating this fact too strongly. Put simply, Sebastian's a wise-ass.

Anyway, it was good to see the boys and get my Dog Fix. I'm sure I will be given one hell of a sniff-over when I get home to Sushi tonight. :-)


Thursday, May 22, 2003


Holy smokes, when Acidman links you the hit-counter just roars to life. :-)

This is probably well behind the pressure-wave of new people stopping by, but welcome to my humble yet strangely verbose corner of the web.

(The chirp of crickets)

Hmm. I should really do something for all the new people dropping by.

(Pulls up a stool; a painted backdrop of a brick wall unrolls from above. Small children begin to sit within the gathering spotlight that falls as Rich sits on the chair. The lights dim.)

Gather 'round, everyone, while I tell you a story of a smart, shy guy who found himself suddenly single, right when he turned thirty.

(A small girl raises her hand) Yes?

My Mommy and Daddy got a divorce.

I'm sorry. That happens a lot these days.

Did you have any kids?

No, but I want some some day.

(She blushes) You're kinda cute.

Well, thank you! (Very flattered)

Kinda fat, though.

Thanks, kid. Can I tell my story?

My Mommy's looking for a boyfriend now, but she doesn't like fat boys.

Well, thanks very much for sharing that. I hope she finds someone skinny who eats leaves and sticks for dinner.

You're funny. You should probably play sports or something. I'm gonna be on the soccer team this summer.

Do tell. (Looks around for a distraught, daughterless Mommy to collect the kid)

I bet my ball control's better than yours.

Is anyone missing a little girl?

Sorry, mister. (She sits down.)

Ahem. Anyhow, the man was very sad for a long time. Then he started up a webpage when a few of his friends did, so they could share stories with each other. Since he was still sad, he said a lot of sad things when he was getting started, and his friends helped him feel better. Even saying those sad things helped him feel better, all by itself.

After a long while, he tried dating a few women.

(Catcalls from the kids) WoooOOOooo!

(A little boy stands up) Did you kiss any?

Well, one or two. Heh.

(A new little girl stands up and points at him sternly) Did you sleep with any?

That's none of your business.

(The little boy) Why not?

I thought I said that was none of your business. Sit down, everyone.

Anyway, it had been years and years since I--he had dated anybody, and he was out of practice at it. He was a very boring date, and tended to make a lot of silly mistakes, and forget to do things like compliment his dates on their dresses, tell them they looked pretty, or let them know he enjoyed spending time with them.

(A boy with glasses raises his hand) That was pretty dumb.

No kidding. Anyway, after a while he got tired of his dates not returning his phone calls, so he decided to just do things by himself for a while. One of the things he began to do was make beer.

(All the kids gasp) Beer?!?

Yes, beer.

(Soccer girl speaks up) My Mommy says beer makes you fat.


(Kissing-boy again) And it makes you burp! (He demonstrates, with gusto; kids giggle en masse)

Thanks for pointing that out. Everyone SIT! (They do)

So anyway, his apartment got to be too expensive, so he began to look around for a different job.

(A long-haired blonde girl raises her hand) Are you a computer guy?

Yes, I write web pages and other programs.

You look like a computer guy. My Daddy says all the computer guys are broke now because the computer bubble popped. Are you broke?

Well, it's more complicated than that, but yeah, I got caught up in the whole dot-bomb thing.

(The kid with glasses speaks up) You don't look so smart. I bet you don't even know how to use protected Java methods.

Shut up, kid. I moved to C# and ASP.NET a year ago.

(Sniffs) Please. Like that'll ever take off.

(Blondie is bored) I know why your wife left now.

As I was saying... Hey! I'll have you know that ...this man... is a very nice, very romantic guy.

Did you buy her flowers?


Remember her birthdays and your anniversaries?


(Looks him over critically) Pooh. I don't care. You're still boring.

Well, thank you so much. Sit.

None. Of this. Is. The point. Anyway, the man found a job in Alabama, working with a very good friend of his, and is in the middle of moving there now!
(He smiles at the kids)

(Soccer girl) That's it?

Well, yeah. He's buying a house, and he just got new glasses...

That was a pretty boring story.

Well, it's true. (The kids begin to disperse)

(She turns around) Mommy! I want to see the puppies at the pet store again!

(He shrugs, picks up the stool, yanks the bottom of the brick-wall shim so it rolls up again, and the lights come up)

Huh. I suppose I can catch a matinee of The Matrix Reloaded again...


Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Okay, Wow.

I've been wearing my new glasses for about three hours now, and it's clear that I need them. Funny how the brain makes up for loss or inaccuracy of vision - now that it's been corrected, everything looks blurred and crappy with the glasses off.

I understand now how big a deal it was when glasses (and lenses and optics in general) were invented and the principles worked out. I've gone from the inability to read small text at five feet away to the ability to read the same text easily at eight. Patterns in cloth, the spatters of raindrops, lettering on newspapers lying on the ground, all clearer. The edges of large letters are sharp instead of soft; logos on equipment, easily ignored before, pop out at me. The textures of lampshades, the nap of carpet, the fur on my cat Sushi. All sharp, all clear. All beautiful. :-)

Heh - I wonder now if I've ever seen this well. Probably, but certainly not in recent memory.

It's not perfect - I have a small amount of vertigo when I walk (I'm used to things passing in and out of focus at much smaller distances - it's messing with my depth perception), and there's the faint brush of a headache behind my eyes. There's certainly more texture information getting to my brain than before (think of it as moving from a PCI video card to AGP 2X, Hunter), so I feel slightly overloaded when I look around.

Also (and I think this is because of the astigmatism correction for the left eye), nothing's quite parallel any more. Or at least what I recognize as parallel; my brain should adjust soon enough. All the corners and angles of squared-off objects look slightly wrong, but I understand that's part of using optics as a solution - they function by distorting images, and it's difficult if not impossible to get the distortion perfect.

Still, I can read license plates clearly at seven or eight car lengths now, and the world is much more vibrant and visually complicated than I remembered. The glasses are here to stay. :-)

Oh, and they don't look bad, either. :-D


Leaping from Topic to Topic

Things have been progressing apace here in Birmingham: I just received the call that my new glasses are waiting for me, I signed off on my home inspection results last night, and am now shopping around for homeowners' insurance.

In other news, my realtor wants to set me up with her assistant, which strikes me as not-a-bad-idea-at-all. Definitely need to wait until the house has been closed upon, though -- don't want either endeavor distracting from the other. :-)

One of the odd things about my move to this town is that it's rained disproportionately since I got here. I mean, we've had fifteen inches of rain so far this month, and the historical average for May is just shy of five inches. An additional inch was forecast today, and we've had the requisite deluge. My lawn-to-be is holding up well, but I have to find some way to handle the gutter-downspout that "lands" trapped behind a curve of my sidewalk. There's no pooling, but the rain's washing mulch away, and a simple splash-plate doesn't look as if it'll solve the problem.

Also notable about Birmingham is how humid it is, all the time. In Richmond, which I considered to be pretty darned humid, if you were in an air-conditioned building (which dries the air by its nature) and you set a cold drink on your desk, you wouldn't get very much condensation on your glass - some, but hardly enough to merit mention. Here, a cold glass will create a small puddle inside of twenty minutes, and if you set it close to a computer, you're flirting with a short. Coasters are pretty much mandatory.

But then we've had triple normal rainfall of late; that might have something to do with it, but I'm honestly not sure.

I can't wait to move into my new place (closing is June 6!); I want to brew beer again, and try my hand at making some wine. And I want to sit out on my back patio and sip a cold drink and watch my dogs play in the yard. And I want to surf outside with my wireless laptop. And blast a DVD without anyone caring. It's going to be good to be a homeowner again. :-)


Monday, May 19, 2003


Once again I look around at my blog and find it lacking, primarily when it comes to lucidity, and interest. Blogs like Tripp's are consistently about one theological issue or another - debate is his watchword. Sarah is consistently snarky or existential about working from home - in a word, funny. Acidman's opinion-a-day has great consistency of tone, as does USS Clueless.

They also engender a fair amount of daily discussion, whereas I (even at my most lucid, during the beer-obsessing days for example) seldom do.

I've been down this path before, and my "core group" of visitors always reiterates how they love me and drop by for who I am, and that's appreciated - it's nice to be accepted.

But I want to spur people into more discussion. Though my hit counter shows that people drop by, I want to get y'all to comment.

...So I shall attempt to do so. I'm not sure how yet, but I'm going to try a few things. Perhaps trolling obscure news, or leaning more toward opinion than narration, or something similar. I'm bad at controversy, but we'll see what other trouble I can get into.


Sunday, May 18, 2003

Central Standard Time

Duh. I finally thought to find the setting to throw Brain Squeezings into CST. This is a test.


Saturday, May 17, 2003

The Verdict

Yep, I need glasses. My eyes have pretty well recovered from their assault by the evil forces of dilation, so I can type up a post now without getting a headache.

The good news, as I said before, is that I look pretty good in glasses. I chose a set of frames that're wider than they are tall (but not excessively so) and rimmed with thin-though-dull metal; the finish is like pewter. They come with magnetically-attached polarized "over-lenses" (or whatever you call those things), and don't look bad at all. When I can get a photo taken and digitized, I'll post it.

For those of you (and you know who you are) who were wondering whether better ranges of focus and/or exercises with focusing near and far would help, no dice. I've got mild astigmatism (deformation of the eyeball itself) in my left eye, and that's pretty well immune to any sort of exercise so far as we know. Both eyes are also nearsighted, and there was quite definite improvement when the doctor and I settled on a good set of lenses, so I'm looking forward to reaping the benefit. The glasses will help most when driving (which was the original point), but they will help at least a little all the time.

So I may just wear them all the time. I like the look. Call it the first phase of shedding old skin and embracing what's underneath.

Besides, there was a quite voluptuous and rather graceful woman there who helped me decide on the frames I wanted. We "had a moment." Amazing how bringing attention to one's eyes allows all manner of delicate flirtation.

The only downside is that I have to wait a few days for the glasses (I didn't go to a quickie eyeglass place - I wanted to go through the whole elaborate process at least once).

Bummer. I want to bat my accessorized eyelashes at pretty girls now.


Friday, May 16, 2003

Comes with the Territory

Well, I've been afraid of this for a while now, but it seems I'm getting nearsighted. I've tried taking frequent breaks, and varying my eyes' depth of focus over the course of the work day, but to no avail - it's getting worse.

I can see fairly well, to be fair, but fine detail is beginning to fade; my informal test is how far away, with the aid of full daylight, I can read the license plates on other cars as I drive to and from work. The distance has shrunk to three, maybe four car lengths over the course of the past year.

Mine isn't terrible vision (seeing obstacles, highway signs and the like is still easy), but trying to catch street-corner signs at night, in an unfamiliar town, quickly enough to do anything about them, has gotten to be very tricky indeed. I'm doing lots of U-turns lately. And try as I might, though I can read highway signage well enough at safe distances, their letters' edges will not "go crisp" for me while stopped in traffic, whether I squint or try my hardest to make my eyes focus on them.

When I attended the Windows Server 2003 and Visual Studio .NET 2003 launch on Tuesday, I was convinced that all the projectors the presenters used were badly focused, but when I tried looking from varying distances during the breaks, and occasionally squinting, it became clear that the focus problem was indeed mine.

Close up (say, within arm's length - just coincidentally within the same depth-of-focus as I keep computer screens - heh), I can see extremely well, down to individual-pixel effects on the 16", 1600x1200 laptop screen I've got, at arm's-length. Or minute imperfections in the ink on a printed page at about mid-forearm distance.

Sigh. The good news is that I look good (kind of thoughful) in thin-framed glasses. :-)

I'll have to see what sort of optometry stop I can get set up.


Thursday, May 15, 2003

Home Inspection Day

Got my first chance to have an extended walk around the homestead-to-be this evening as two guys turned it inside out looking for the warts. I've gotta say, for a place I selected based on a half-hour initial exposure I did a pretty good job.

The place is sturdy and pretty much the size I remembered, very well insulated, and with decent storage space. The HVAC (air conditioning) is very powerful, to the point that the registers and vents were all left closed by the previous owners, and when we opened them the system cooled all 1800-ish square vaulted feet in around ten minutes, and would have kept it up, had we left it all on. The heating is natural gas, which will be a new experience for me, but is reputed to be second to none on really cold winter nights. Shame they don't make those kind of nights here. ;-)

Warts: some minor drainage problems in the back yard (well away from the foundation), and a badly measured rafter that slightly distorts a portion of the roof and makes it look bad (a cosmetic problem only). All in all, pretty damned good.

I'm going to push for the drainage problem to be fixed, and a loose electrical outlet in the master bath. Other than that, there's no point in endangering or delaying the deal over $5 and $10 Home Depot material.


Monday, May 12, 2003

I got it!!

I made an offer, and the sellers accepted! Now the inspections, closing, etc., etc. can begin. If all goes well, I should be able to close on the place by the end of the first week in June.



The House Hunt Begins

Met with my highly-recommended realtor this morning, and after a few preliminaries we set out into the wilds of Alabama to look at houses.

Of the sixish houses we visited this morning, three were pretty much complete busts - not particularly well-kept, or what I was looking for. One was beautifully done and kept, but again, not really filling my house needs (one of the big ones is a fenced-in yard for the dogs; others include copious storage space, a big tub, a big kitchen, and closed-off rooms of sufficient size to act as theater rooms and server closets).

Then we found the house I want. A big corner lot (oy, the mowing) with good landscaping, an immense two-car garage, a big beautiful kitchen, and TWO rooms suitable for audio tricking-out, both with big walk-in closets suitable for servers (the other would be the guest room). There's a fenced-in yard with a great patio, and the "great room" (living room / dining room / TV room) has a high, vaulted ceiling with a gas fireplace, arched doorways and great window coverage. The carpets are even heavy-duty. :-)

It's severely in the boonies, but the area is growing and there are several large stores being built within a few miles. And mine would be one of the least pricey houses in the development. Which has several roughed-up lots upon which new houses are scheduled to be built. Can you say appreciation?

But there also seems to be another bidder. We're trying hard to get a bid in before Wednesday, but it's been one big game of phone tag.

It's all very exciting.


Friday, May 09, 2003

Cold, Please

sugarmama posted earlier about her preferred climate: hot and humid. She also posted a nice little table listing her "sucks/good" months of the year, and as I read, it occurred to me that my preferences were almost exactly the opposite of hers. I originally said "cold and dry," but in thinking about it, cold and wet works for me just as well.

For the table below, "Sucks" expresses the obvious. "Rocks" is the opposite of "Sucks." "Meh" is for months about which I either can't make up my mind or which engender no strong opinion in me.

JanuaryRocksRocksRocks?(suspected Rocks)
FebruarySucksSucksSucks?(suspected Sucks)
MarchRocksRocksRocks?(suspected Rocks)
AprilRocksRocksMeh?(suspected Meh)
MayMehMehSucks?(Meh so far)
JuneSucksSucksSucks?(suspected Sucks)
JulySucksSucksSucks?(suspected Sucks)
AugustSucksSucksSucks?(suspected Sucks)
SeptemberMehMehMeh?(suspected Meh)
OctoberRocksRocksRocks?(suspected Meh)
NovemberRocksRocksMeh?(suspected Meh)
DecemberRocksRocksRocks?(suspected Rocks)

(Richmond's weather is all the hell over the place; that's why it's such a mess. Oh, and February always sucks, no matter where you are.)

I will eventually adjust to any climate I'm in for long enough, but I've always preferred cold to heat. My apartments'/houses' thermostats are always set at around 68° F, and I do wear flip-flops all year round. Well, not necessarily if there's snow on the ground, but I have done so, when lazy or in a hurry.

I mean it. Cold is good.


Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Birmingham Update

Things continue to go well in my new home town. Work is beginning to solidify around a few key projects, and the people have been, as mentioned, very nice and easy to get to know.

I've begun discussions with a mortgage guy and a realtor in the area, and unless we've seriously overestimated my position, I may well be able to put together some sort of mortgage without too much worry, which of course means house!

The prospect of buying a house unhampered by anyone else's preferences is an exciting one for me; it will, of course, wind up wired to a fare-thee-well, and likely furnished sparsely and haphazardly, at least for starters, but it will be, first and foremost, mine. This has wound up being a lot more important to me than I expected -- nobody to gainsay me keeping a bunch of conditioning beer or aging wine in the living room, nobody to fight with over speaker placement in the theater room, nobody to complain about a WiFi antenna here and there, or about annexing a walk-in closet for use as a server room.

Deal. With. Me. :-D

Of course, this also means mowing lawns, home maintenance and suchlike again, but it'll certainly be good accruing equity again, and getting that lovely deduction on the year's taxes.

Oh, by the way, it's interesting to be 33. Approaching a third of a century.

The day is rife with beginnings and new possibility.


Thursday, May 01, 2003

Mmm. I like Ham.

Birmingham, that is. :-)

Yes, I did have a chance to meet the indomitable sugarmama this week, as she has reported. The sushi was good, the brief tour of Southside in Birmingham was fun, and it was nice to be able to put a face and personality to the sugarmama name.

I'm not sure I said she was forced on her blog, so much as forceful. But whatever, it was good to sit and chat and discover that I have a friend other than Hunter in the city.

Oh, yeah, and just so there's no confusion, my vote is definitely on the side of hot. As in sugarmama is very hot. Tsssss. ;-) I envy the truckers on the way to New Orleans. Her hair is longer than in any of the photos she has yet posted, and it looks great on her. She also introduced me to the idea that intelligent, self-possessed twenty-or-thirtysomething women wear skirts. Yet another little fashion trend Richmond never seems to have caught. I like this town.

In other news
Today saw me get a local bank account squared away. I'll be in transition between my Richmond and Birmingham accounts for a while (and may even keep my Richmond account indefinitely, depending on how the fees, etc. stack up).

This Saturday I'll be making a pilgrimage to Atlanta to hang with my brother Matt and attend a "Texas party" which promises to be a meat-and-beer-fest to rival any other.

Tomorrow night is X2 in theaters. Life is good.