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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

PA In Review

Over the weekend, Nick and I traveled to his familial "home base" of Pittsburg, PA to attend the wedding of his cousin. We had a great time. Our trip out there went so smoothly(almost too smoothly), that I almost expected the six hour delay we experienced on the way back (we didn't arrive home until 3:30AM on Monday morning). Other highlights, lowlights, and general observations about the trip are as follows:

  • Hampton Inns (at least the one in Greensburg, PA) are surprisingly comfortable and accommodating. I highly recommend them.
  • People in Pennsylvania like their guns, as I found out when I entered a local REI-type place (I was looking for hippie sandals!!) to find a table at the enterence pilled with rifles. I didn't find sandals, but if you're ever in need of deer butchering equiptment, that's the place for you.
  • There's a really cool Frank Llyod Wright home near where we were called Falling Waters. Well, calling it a "home" is a bit of an understatement. It was built for a wealthy department store owner overlooking (more like, via cantalevered technology, hovering over) a beautiful waterfall in the middle of western PA wilderness. This is the picture we would have taken, had my camera not decided to die five minutes before hand.

  • People in western PA have a few language idiosyncrasies that I am not used to. For instance, the use quotation marks to put emphasis on a word, where I'd use an underline or bold or something. This leads to weird signs like Buy One Get One "Free"... they mean it is an emphasis on Free, but I take it as a "ok, what's the catch, what do I have to do to get that second one "free" *wink wink* *nudge nudge*. Also, I encountered people using the word "Yenz" (I dunno how to spell it so I spelled it like it sounded to me) which I was told is a Pittsburgh version of "ya'll" (the southern plural form of "you".)
  • During out delay in the Pittsburgh airport on the way hiome, I encountered (from a distance) some of the crankiest Southwest Airlines employees I've ever seen. THere were a couple different flights (all delayed) for which people were waiting in same gate area as us. Apparently, one of those flights was eventually bound for Los Vegas. At one point, the Southwest person working at the counter said to everyone over the loud speaker "Please understand that this is not our fault. Believe me, I want you to get to Los Vegas.... So you can lose all your money and have to come back here and work a real job like ME". Outch!
  • We used a new house sitting service to take care of the animals while we were gone. It went very well--animals seemed very well taken care of and happy when we got home. The house sitter left a "top ten funny things your pet did while you were away" list that, among other things, included: "Followed housesitter around house so that she didn't get lose" (our house is not that big, our dogs are just that clingly), "woke housesitter up at the crack of dawn" (yep, 5AM breakfast time woo HOOO!!), and "Barked for treats, continued barking for more treats after there were no more treats" (yep, pandora's box, man--once you get them to bark for food, they'll never shut up!).
  • Apparently airports do close. When we got off the plane at Midway there were signs saying "Midway Airport Is Now Closed"... no it isn't.. we're here aren't we?
  • Sudoku is fun. I did more sudoku puzzles while waiting on the plane than I've ever done before (completed six puzzles). Sudoku is cool.
  • CNBC has stores? Yes, at the Pittsburgh airport, the TV network CNBC has a retail store where you can buy magazines, candy, and CNBC paraphernalia. The poor woman who works (probably for minimum wage or something close) at the store is forced to listen to CNBC financial news all day and all night. That must be ironic.
  • Running down those "moving sidewalks" at the airport while barefoot is NOT fun. Nick and I had to sprint, after standing in the huge-ass midway security line for way too long, to catch our plane on our way to PA. We made it, but Nick ran half of the way barefoot (after having to remove his shoes at the security checkpoint, didn't bother to put them back on)... which also leads me to be surprised that an epidemic of foot fungus hasn't broken out among air travelers, since they make everyone (regardless of shoe type or presence of socks) remove their shoes at security.
  • Apparently there is a wedding tradition where, after the bouquet and guarder are tossed, the man who catches the guarder then has to place it on the leg of the woman who catches the bouquet... every inch past her knee is said to be five years of happiness for the new married couple.... I knew that the saying was that the woman who catches the bouquet and the man who catches the guarder are supposed to be the next ones to get married, but I didn't know that they were supposed to marry each other!

Yay for PA and a good weekend. Congrats to the Bride and Groom
The End. :)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Picture Time

Hi there blog people. I FINALLY found my camera dock, so here's some of the stuff you've missed....

First, some cuteness

And now, for the much talked about fence....

Here's Morgan looking at me out the front door (I love the red door)

And, finally, some more cuteness....

Monday, July 23, 2007

Star Trek

Watch out! This is a Star Trek related post.

So, I was sitting at work today (totally daydreaming) when I came to the question: if Star Trek were real (ie: in the actual future) how likely is it that they'd still use our (earthly) increments of time (second, minute, hour etc) as well as our 24-point-whatever hours-in-a-day clock? Like, when Cpt. Pecard goes "Jordey, how long will it take to fix the blah-dee-blah ?" (I've forgotten all my Star Trek lingo apparently, including the name for the engine parts on the Enterprise) and Jordey goes "two hours" and Cpt. Pecard goes "you have an hour".... it comes to my mind, would they really use hours? Surely there would be just as many time measuring systems as there are planets... so why aren't the Klingons and Ferengi complaining that their days are actually shorter/longer than 24-point-something hours? (Duh- the Ferengi totally would complain, they complain about anything). What's to say that the Enterprise would operate on an earth-based time system? I mean, they have star dates (made up star trek dates different from our millinium-century-decade-year system), so why do they use 24 hours? Well, now that I come to put way too much thought into this, I'm not quite sure that a day on the Enterprise is ineed 24 hours. Hmmm.... But they do use the words "hours" which I think is irrevocably related to earth time. Maybe in the future, once we discover life on other planets, all having their own time measurments and day lengths, we will compromise by creating a whole new time schedule based on our bio-clocks. But, then again, not all humanoids would have the same bio-clock. I'm not a scientist, but I'd wager that bio-clocks (when we wake up and go to sleep 'n stuff) are probably shaped by the planet where we live and its rotation around the sun. So, maybe humanoids would all have different bio-clocks based on the planets their species grew up on.

Wow, I've put wayyyyy to much thought into this.

Do any of you Trekkies want to put in your two-cents? (Star trek and money, now there's a topic ... sheesh).

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


A full re-cap of the drama associated with the installation of our fence certainly calls for a timeline:

10am- dudes show up to start building the fence, they want to get the holes dug before the inspector was to arrive at 2pm.

2pm- inspector doesn't arrive, we learn he will be late.

5pm- by this time, dudes of dug almost all (over 30 of them) 42'' deep holes, only using a manual post hole digger. The inspector arrives and tells us to STOP WORK and that we can't build a fence where we're trying to build it because it abuts another (chain link) fence on either side. He says that he doesn't know why our permit was granted, that we'll have to talk to the boss man in the morning at 8:30 to decide what to do.

5:07pm- I leave a preemptive message with the fencing company, letting them know that things are really screwed up, that they told us that putting our fence next to the neighbor's fence would not be a problem, and that if this whole thing blows up, there's no way we're paying them. (probably a bit of an over reaction, but I was mad)

5:30pm- deciding that we should probably start talking to the neighbors to attempt to convince them to remove their fence, Nick goes next door to ask if any of the tenants over there have contact info for the landlord. They do, and as a matter of fact, they tell us that we already know her, her name is J and she was our attorney when we purchased the house. Furthermore, they say that she had told them that she was our attorney and then she told them not to tell us that she had told them that.


5:45pm- Nick leaves a message with J (our attorney and, apparently also our neighbor) letting her know that we needed to talk to her about the fence. We don't mansion the "and we think you were wrong not to tell us" part.

7:00pm- I arrive home by which time I've managed to get REALLY angry about the whole attorney lack-of-disclosure thing. I think she was completely obligated (by any normal sense of ethics) to disclose to us that she owes the adjacent property to the property we're buying. We should have had been able to then decide if we were comfortable with her representing us. She could have been best friends with the person we bought the house from, for all we know. I feel like I might throw up.

8:30am- I leave for work the next day, Nick stays home waiting on the village building department "boss man" to arrive.

8:45am- nick calls to let me know that boss man has not arrived, we decide he should call the office. Nick calls the office, they say that they didn't know they were supposed to come out/call us at 8:30 this morning. They will call us back in a few minutes to let us know what to do.

9:00am- FP building department calls, tells us "you're good to go" according to "mr. boss man" (they gave us the actual name). We call the fence dudes, tell them to continue building.

later in the day I talk to J the attorney about the fence... tell her that things are resolved... ask her about some unrelated south house sale question, don't confront her about her questionable ethics. (I am a wimp, and also not sure how to handle it since she is now our neighbor.. we don't want to piss her off too much.)

So yeah, that's the drama. I'm still brooding over the attorney ethics issue. I think I may write her an actual letter to let her know that we didn't appreciate her lack of disclosure.

We don't really suspect (nor can we prove) and harm that came to us due to her potential partiality in the situation.

Our fence will probably be finished today. It looks great and we are very very excited!!!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Name That Bush (and more)

In preparation for the fence installation (which is starting today), Nick and I spent all day yesterday (well, all day minus a nap and a two hour long shopping trip to the garden center) digging up plants that would be in the way of the new fence. These included, some arbor vita type trees, some ferns of indeterminate origin, and a huge bush/tree thing that we have no idea what it even is or if it was worth the trouble of digging up and wrapping in berlap. The soil in our yard, well to put it bluntly, SUCKS! Its very gritty and sandy. It doesn't drain or hold water worth a crap. Most of the trees and bushes we dug up are now sitting, bare rooted, in burlap. The soil would just fall away from the roots immediately, no matter what we did. When we water plants, we get puddles of mud and little rivers running through the yard rather than water soaking into the soil and watering the plants. Obviously, any attempt at vegetable gardening is going to require some serious soil fortification. I had planned to start composting our kitchen waste, but that probably wont be enough.

To the fence guys who arrived this morning to install the fence: I feel bad and guilty for the day of hard labor you have ahead of you. I thought you'd bring big automatic post hole digging machines, but instead, all you have are manual post hole diggers, a couple of wheel barrows, and a few five gallon buckets (oh, and approximately 28 huge 8 foot long 4'x4's. Although we're paying over 5K for this fence, I'm sure that whatever your share of that isn't worth it. Wait until you see how crappy the soil is. You'll probably hate me by the end of the day.

I no longer have a place to call home downtown. After a putrid 15 hours of cleaning (man, pet hair can get in crevasses that I didn't even know existed in the apartment), we turned over the apartment keys on Saturday. We actually met up with our landlord's friend instead of our landlord (cuz our landlord who is some IBM internationally-travelling probably-uber-loaded sales guy, is in Turkey for the next few months) which meant that the walk through inspection proses was way less of a big deal than we thought. I just hope we don't get a call in a few weeks telling us that our landlord got back, looked at the place, and decided that we actually owe him more money. The place was clean, the only thing we're worried about is the carpet situation. We had to get a large portion of the carpet replaced (the dining room/living room and hallways) due to dog bodily fluid problems, but the new carpet that we had installed isn't an exact match with the old carpet, which is particularly noticeable at the place where the new carpet in the hallway abuts directly against the old carpet in the bedroom. We spent 1,700 on the new carpet, and it is much MUCH better quality than the carpet that was in there when we moved in. So, in some ways, we did him a favor. But, then again, how big of a deal is it to have two slightly different carpets where you used to have identical carpet throughout?

We did have a nice lunch at our favorite Printer's Row neighborhood eatery, Hackney's, where we've become small scale regulars. We even bought Hackney's T-shirts to commemorate the occasion. We will miss Hackney's a LOT! (but we can always come and visit)

Nick and I had signed up for the LATE ride, (bike ride starting at midnight, going until sunrise, throughout the city, done as fundraiser for Friends of the Parks), but we were so tired from the past three weeks (and so in need of a few hours of unpacking time) that we didn't show up. This is the second time this year that we've signed up for a charity bike ride and didn't actually go. (the charities still got our money though).

That's about it. I still don't know where my camera dock is. I remember packing it in one of those "to make sure I don't forget it or loose it, I'll put it here" places that I immediately forget where "here" is. The search continues. :)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Emerging from the Shadows

FINALLY we have gotten the Internet at our house to work. That's right folks, two weeks without Internet at my house was too much for me, apparently. Now, all I need to do is find my damn camera dock, then we'll be all set.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Random Notes

Its weird when you're sitting in the neighborhood pizzeria (appropriately called PizzaRia by the way), dressed in grimy painting clothes, eating pizza, and a stretch Hummer pulls up outside, several stilettos-with-jeans girls get out and come in for some pizza. I guess, everyone has to eat?

If you ever fall asleep in your SUV while sitting at a red light long enough for the light to turn green, the ten cars ahead of you go through the light, several people pass you (w/o honking, I guess its a suburb thing), a couple on their way to the "L" see you, have a three minute conversation about if you're having a medical crisis and if they should do something, and that couple to approach your car to see if you're responsive, THEN YOU HAVE A PROBLEM!!! ...although it was a bit impressive how you were able to keep your foot on the break the whole time.

I think that Nick and I can agree that commuting to work together in the morning (at least together until the point where he gets off the train and I keep riding it into downtown) is cool. But, it is a bit weird because we're the only people on the train having a conversation. Does that make us annoying?

Mr. Clean's Magic Eraser is, indeed, magic. If you ever need to get scuffs off your wall and you don't want to have the repaint, I highly suggest it, although I have no idea what its made of or how toxic it might be. (Update: Click here to read the wikipedia article about what a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is made of. Also, click here to read the urban legend, or is it?, regarding the safety of this product.)

If you were me, and you had recently packed your camera doc in a box and moved it to your new house, which box would you have used and where would that box currently be located? (reason for no new pics on the blog, sorry)


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Off To A Rough Start

Dear AT&T,

Don't let the fact that I recently signed up for new phone/internet/tv service with you for my new home lead you to believe that I like you. The truth is, I chose you because I loath you slightly less than your compeditor, namely, Comcast (hereafter refered to as "the evil-C". I am sad to report that, despite the fact that I've only had your service for four days now, you have begun to close the loathing gap between yourself and the evil-C. You'd think that before assigning me a phone number, you'd first check to make sure that it DOESN'T ALREADY BELONG TO SOMEONE ELSE! Also, you'd think that it wouldn't take an hour (the first half our spent talking to your really annoying voice recognition software... I HATE that stuff!!) on the phone with your customer service representative (who, by the way, obviously loves her job just as much as I love having to deal with lame utility companies such as yourself) for you to figure out that the reason my DSL isn't working and the reason my phone line connection is so full of static because you forgot to disconnect the number you gave ME from the customer who had it previously. Get ready to prorate my account until you get this problem fixed. Also, let it be known that it is because of you that we had to get up two hours early this morning, so that my husband could go to work early and finish some of the internet-based work he was planning to do at the house. I hope to receive a call from you soon letting me know that the problem has been resolved. I hope to be on the internet in the next couple of days. I hope you do not request that I return the DSL equipment to you at my own expense. I hope you do not change my phone number, since I've already told everyone that my number is the one you gave me originally. And, most of all, I hope this is not an indication that you operate your company with an amount of greed and incompetence as does the evil-C. Come on, AT&T, prove to me that you are better than the rest, please!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A Shout Out From the Technology Abyss

HI blog people. So yeah, my blog has been sucking lately. Sorry 'bout that. :) I know I've been a bit house-obsessed, and unfortunately, I don't think I've got it completely out of my system yet (I've got some more house pictures to post shortly). Also, I've been without internet at home for the past week. We just got our new DSL service turned on yesterday, but we were so busy last night moving more boxes out of the apartment that we didn't have time to even open the box containing the router, which the UPS man decided to leave for us outside in the rain rather than INSIDE the sun room as our note requested... grr. So, we should get the Internet up and running in a couple of days. Then, hopefully, I'll be back to blogging more regularly.

Our village (its weird to say that I live in a "village" but its really true...) has some really weird (and annoying) rules. For instance, apparently there is a rule that says that dogs cannot urinate or defecate on any property other than that of their owners. So my question is: what if you're at the dog park and the dog pees on a tree... what are you supposed to do? What about people living in apartments who have dogs and don't' own any yard a all? This is obviously a stupid rule, and I can't imagine how it would be enforceable, unless they catch your dog in the act.

We bought a new dining room table over the weekend. (well, we paid for it over the weekend, but we don't actually posses it yet; it will be delivered in a couple of days). By far, its the most money I've spent on a piece of furniture, but it will better accommodate the onslaught of the in-laws (labor day) as well as the Evansvillians trip in August. The chairs are fake leather (vynl) so they're not very enviro-friendly. But, at least they're not dead? I know, its a pretty lame excuse.

So, yeah, herein I shall put an end to this, I fear, terribly boring post. *sigh* I gotta get better at this blog thing...

Friday, July 6, 2007

Blow Some S#$% Up

Hi blog people. So, Nick and I were lame and didn't go see the Chicago fireworks this year. We are pretty much obsessed with our new house at the moment, so we wanted to spend time unpacking instead. Also, the lakefront is always so freaking crowded. You have to get there hours in advance. etc etc. So, I stole one of the many YouTube videos of this year's fireworks to share with you here.

We did see the Forest Park fireworks display the next evening (Chicago does theirs on the 3rd, and all the surrounding towns and villages do theirs on the 4th). I can't find a video of it, but I can assure you that it was actually much better than I expected. There was no musical accompaniment to the Forest Park display (that I am aware of anyway), but it went for about 20 minutes with several pseudo-finales. I approve. My suburb knows how to blow shit up.

We had a cookout on the night of the 4th along with 5 of our friends. Thank god we have a basement in which to hide all the unpacked boxes. It was nice to have our first gathering at the house. As usual, we bought way too much food.

We took out the hammock so that people could lounge on it during the cookout. Our neighbor was like, astonished, for some reason, by it. He called out other people from his apartment to come look at it. "Woa, that's cool. Look at that." It was slightly weird to have our stuff so idolized by the neighbor.

Can't wait to get that fence up. LOL (just kidding about the "so we can't see the neighbors" context of that .. although we will be glad to get the fence up so we can let the dogs out w/o leashes.)

Speaking of dogs, our friend Jen brought over her new poodle puppy to the cookout. At one point, the poodle was running around inside the house. Morgan sauntered into the room where the puppy was. Puppy runs up to Morgan. Morgan puffs up, gets his big "oh shit" scary eyes, hisses and blows, and then finally runs away. Need I mention that the poodle puppy is about one third the size of humongo-cat Morgan? It was completely hilarius. Keenan, on the other hand, found the puppy to be extremely intriguing. He'll follow her around, sniff her, maybe thing about pouncing on her. Ah.... animals. :) I totally forgot to take any pictures of any of the evening's events, so unfortunately I don't have anything else to share with you. :)

Monday, July 2, 2007

Moving Photos

Morgan- "Where are we? If I get back into the carrier, will you take me back home?"

Morgan- "What about the white one... will you take me home now????"

Keenan- Feels at home right away "Wow, I'm up high"

Keenan- "Different house, but same perch on desk, I'm cool"

Come on Morgan, don't you want some dinner? (Keenan ended up eating Morgan's food, which NEVER happens.

more later. :)

Diary- Closing Day

7:00AM- Nick wakes up after three hours of sleep to head to the closing. We weren't planning to go, but we want things to go as smoothly as possible, so its probably better if he is there. I sleep.

8:30AM- Good thing Nick went to the closing. I get a call from our realtor telling me that she is at home sick and that she has dropped her phone in the toilet and so is unable to get to her address book. She wants to know how the closing is going, I tell her that I'm not there and that I don't know. I call Nick, everything is going well at the closing.

9:00 AM- Thank god for Craigslist. I find a last minute moving service to help us unload the truck later today. We are so bruised and tired from loading the truck and have absolutely no desire to unload it.

9:30 AM- Nick, realizing that our realtor has the only set of keys that are not currently locked inside the house, calls me in a panic... how are we going to get the keys to the buyer.

9:31 AM- Call our realtor.. can't get her b/c cell phone is dead...

10:15 AM- finally hear from our realtor. She can either bring the keys to the closing or drop them off with the buyer's agent's office. Problem solved.

10:30 AM- The closing is over, the house is officially sold. SWEET!!!!!!

12:30 PM- Time for our walk-through. We find many things amiss, not least of which are the crappy temporary window screens they've provided to us. The cats could totally just knock those down with one paw and jump right out. Also, they have failed to properhy provide power to the washer and dryer, as we had asked. We are really annoyed. GRRRR

1:00 PM- Open gift from our mortgage broker. Its a serving dish from Crate and Barrel. Its wrapped in probably twenty feet of wierd paper bubble-ish wrap stuff. Our realtor also gives us free tickets to community theater in Forest Park. They perform outside in the county forest preserve. People bring booze, have a picnic, and watch a play, SWEET!

1:30PM- Arrive at second closing. Realize that we have no legal legs to stand on regarding the window screens. I am highly annoyed. But, we will ask for a credit for the wiring situation around the washer and dryer.

2:30PM- Sign LOTS of papers... lots and lots and lots... Then, sit and wait for closing to finalize. Am amazed by the hundreds of dollars of bullshit fees involved in buying a house. I wonder how I can get the "pay Jessica 20$, just because I said so" line added to closing charges. The sellers finally agree to give us $100 credit for the wiring situation at the washer/dryer

3:30PM- At last, I am officially a home owner! It will take a while for this to totally sink in. We get a ride to pick up our truck, drive truck full of stuff to house.

5:30PM- Start unloading little stuff from truck. Call some friends to come over and help (which really ends up meaning, drink beer, play with our friend's new puppy poodle, and talk while telling the movers where to put stuff, which is the best way to move, let me tell you)

9:00PM- Movers arrive. Turns out that it takes two very strong and very motivated guys with an appliance dolly an hour and a half to unload the entire truck, which it had taken us 10 hours to load. That was the best $200 (plus tips in beer) I've spent in a long time.

11:30PM- kick our friends out, drive truck back to truck rental place, have a really dumb conversation with a chick from Penske Truck Rental on the phone regarding weather or not we can drop the truck off tonight rather than tomorrow.

12:00pm- Truck is back, we drive the pick-up back to the house, stumble inside, fall asleep on the bare mattress on the guest bed downstairs. Fall asleep immediately. Sooo tired, but happy.

more to come
(don't have internet at the house yet, major pain in ass)