Friday, August 29, 2008

Shock and Awe. Shock and Awe.

Holy Smokes, Holy Crap, Holy Moly, Holy &*!!@Fff*?&AH!. Scrape me off the floor because this number the GC gave me knocked me flat over. A 120 square foot addition, that is only a "weathered shell", i.e. does not include drywall, plumbing, electrical, flooring, etc. Just foundation, exterior walls, stucco, demo of one wall, roof, etc.

$21,000

That is $175 per square foot for a SHELL. Maybe I am smoking crack without even knowing it. When I figure out the brand of glue I'm sniffing, I'll let you know. In case you want to experience the obvious high I must be on. Perhaps I am grossly misinformed, but I did not expect the number to come back that high. Yes, Californians pay more for everything, I know, but that just seems insane to me. Foundation. Two exterior walls. Only two! Demo-ing one wall and throwing up a roof. Am I being unreasonable? I mean, this doesn't include any finish work at all. that number is slightly over what I was aiming to pay for the WHOLE DAMN THING.

For sure, I am getting me some more estimates. You bet your ass I am because if they all come back like this number, I am going to be my own GC. If it means I'll save 2-3K on their contracting supervision fees, I am there.

I need a drink. This Diet Coke is not cutting it.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

This is Hardly News: A Flaky Contractor

So I'm beginning to get annoyed with our recommended general contractor. And why do I tend to start my thoughts with "so"? Anyway, so this general contractor. He comes as a recommendation from the co-worker that graciously drew up our building plans for dinner and beer. He (the GC) used to work for my husband's company, but in a different office so he has never met this guy. This project is, by definition, a small job. A 120 square feet single story addition, that requires throwing up two new external walls, and breaking down one. Not exactly economically thrilling for contractors, this type of job.

I am drifting away from my point, as I usually do, since I have a bad case of non-squiter disease. I am getting annoyed because I have yet to get a number out of this guy. A dollar value. How much will this cost? He knows I am looking to be frugal about this, so I'm not sure if this is contributing to his shuffling of the feet.

First, I asked for a VERY ballpark number when all I had was my crappy Visio drawing of the floor plan. Never got that. Then, I sent him the full building plans about 2 weeks ago. He told me he would have something by last Friday. OK. Call him on my way up to Mammoth, he is out at the park playing with his kids. No problem, I say. He says he'll email me something Monday or Tuesday. Well, yesterday, still nothing. I email him, asking if he has an update for me. I get a voicemail this morning (its already Thursday! sounds like he is in a car) that says: "Hi, this is [so-and-so"], it's 9:30 on... [bit inaudible here, something like asking himself what day it is] Thursday... I'm losing track of days! [his number]. Thanks!"

Um. That's it? How about, "I have finished the estimate, please give me a call".

I am beginning to think I may need to be my own GC. This scares me some, but I have detailed building plans. I'll have to find licensed contractors to do the pieces, but I feel like I could actually get it done faster myself. Sure, I'd have to use my own time to call and get quotes from people and schedule them. That's the hard part, and knowing what comes first, and such. Some of it is obvious (like you need your foundation laid before you start framing walls), but my relative inexperience with construction makes me worry that I might screw something up. But it would certainly save us money if we DON'T use a general contractor. According to this guy, he charges 12% of total cost of building as his fee. This could me small or quite large depending on what the total comes out.

I guess I'll call this guy later and I fully expect another excuse as to why he hasn't come up with the estimate and will be totally shocked if I actually hear a number from him.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

This Old House

So. I have been talking about my house a bit, with the kitchen addition and all and I really have no good pictures to show you. If I show you the current state of my house, you will run away screaming, scratching your eyes out. Really. The majority of our house is in disarray, with half the carpet torn up in the living room from the slab leak flood, and holes in walls that are half-way patched, waiting for the final finishing and painting. It is an embarrassment. So. I will show you picture of my old house (which is actually younger than my current house, built in 1987). My beloved former model that was too far in the boondocks to keep.

Here is the front. Built in 1999, it faces mostly West, which meant those big windows resulted in the house heating up like a sauna during the summer. Another reason I am not totally sad about having to sell it.


The living room/dining room combination. Mostly empty. At 3054 square feet, we didn't have nearly enough furniture to fill the house. But I loved the big fireplace and white mantle. The floor is bamboo I got from Costco at around $1.70 a square foot. I didn't lay this myself because time was of the essence. The baby grand I got from a lady in Newport Beach for $300. It's old, keys work, but is not a good name (Starr), and needs serious help. Looks great though as furniture.


The kitchen. Oh, how I miss thee. It's nothing special as far as cabinetry and countertop. But the space in the kitchen was great. The appliances were all upgraded KithenAid. The walk-in pantry was like 70 square feet. The eating nook was big enough to have a table that fit 8+ people. No need for another dining room, thus why the baby grand is there.


The view from the sink. From the kitchen and master bedroom, we could see Mount San Jacinto and Mount San Gorgonio, both near 11,000 feet high. During the winter they are covered in snow. And the lake is Canyon Lake. Our back yard was huge, which required lots of water in the summer (when it's 106 degrees in Lake Elsinore) to keep green - another good reason we sold it.


The family room. Another beautiful huge fireplace with stacked stone. The small window is leaded glass, but clearly you can't see that. This is a good view of the slate tile I laid - total was 1000 square feet - the entire first floor except for the bit of bamboo in the living/dining room. I did all the molding of the first floor as well.


Finally, the loft. It was a huge loft that we used as an office. The house only had 3 bedrooms, so it could have been converted, but the open feeling of the room was nice.


I wish I had pictures readily available of the rest of the house, like the enormous master bath and closets, but they are hiding somewhere on a laptop. I'll pull them out for another post...

Monday, August 25, 2008

I Am Meme-ing Myself with 100 Things

OK, no one "meme'd" me, but I felt like doing it, so whatever! Here it is.
  1. I was born and raised in Massachusetts.
  2. I went to Catholic school, K-8, complete with plaid skirt uniform.
  3. I have been baptized, First Communion-ized (I just made that up), and Confirmed, but almost never go to church. I find it too boring.
  4. I'm an only child.
  5. I was born in 1978.
  6. I am half Italian, half French Canadian.
  7. I have been to Italy more times than I can remember (my grandmother and other relatives still live there).
  8. I'm only 5 feet tall.
  9. I have blue eyes and dark blond/light brown hair, which I get highlighted as my one girly, pampering thing.
  10. I have run two marathons, and three half-marathons.
  11. I ran cross-country, indoor and outdoor track in high school.
  12. I began playing the piano at 7 and took lessons until 19, in college.
  13. I am semi-fluent in Italian.
  14. I went to an ivy league school.
  15. I have a BS in Operations Research and a minor in Economics.
  16. I love to paint (oil and watercolor).
  17. I graduated high school 3rd in a class of around 650.
  18. I have never broken a bone.
  19. I had my appendix out at 23, and had to go into and out of surgery without friends or family around. It's a long story, but the short of it is that I didn't know I was going into surgery until about 2am. The Husband (then the Boyfriend) didn't have a cell phone, and was working 3rd shift on a barge in the LA harbor. I was in surgery at 6am and out before anyone realized I was in surgery. Except my parents, who I woke up, across the country in Massachusetts, they actually answered their phone in the middle of the night unlike my friends in California.
  20. I was in a sorority in college.
  21. I didn't drink or smoke the funny stuff in high school. I was a goody-two-shoes.
  22. I've only smoked the wacky tabacky once, well, twice in one night. The first time I felt nothing. The second time a couple hours later it made me paranoid that I'd be permanently high and never be functional again. I haven't touched any drug since, aside from alcohol.
  23. I love to sing karaoke, and I have been told I am a pretty good singer. I would agree. Ha! I am a ham. My favorite karaoke song is Nick of Time, by Bonnie Raitt. I also sing lots of Dixie Chicks.
  24. I worked for the Sierra Club the summer after my freshman year of college, canvassing people, door-to-door for donations. I was promoted to a field manager during that time, managing towns and teams.
  25. I took gymnastics for a couple years from age 5-7. Because my parents couldn't afford both piano and gymnastics lessons, I had to choose one. So I went with piano. Sometimes I wonder if I made the right choice.
  26. At 4 years old, my parents tried to enroll me in figure skating lessons, but when I got there I found out I couldn't use my Strawberry Shortcake double-blade skates and had to use single blade skates and freaked out. I cried because I was too scared about the whole single-blade balance thing. I guess I was a cautious kid. I have never been a thrill seeker.
  27. I missed winning my schools Spelling Bee competition and going to the city competition on the word "cupcake." I forget now how I messed it up, but I kicked myself for weeks after about having missed such an easy word.
  28. I wanted to be a meteorologist until I was about 14. I pictured myself as a weather girl.
  29. I used to sit on the floor and watch the Weather Channel for hours while doing homework. Talk about weird, huh? I loved me some weather.
  30. I used to track hurricanes and even mailed the local TV station for a free hurricane tracking map.
  31. I've been through two hurricanes, Gloria and Bob.
  32. When I was 11 or 12, I can't remember exactly, we had a talent show at school and I played Clair De Lun, but I failed to memorize it (probably laziness). So I had my music sheets. Somehow they got mixed up because the last page was not where it was supposed to be and as I flipped the book, it dropped to the floor, sliding under the grand piano. Mind completely blank, I had no choice by to get up, crawl under the piano, get the sheet, finish it up, and then run of the stage and cry. I would say this is my most embarrassing moment ever.
  33. My mother-in-law is a Presbyterian minister.
  34. I got married at 26, by a justice of the peace (much to my MIL's dismay), though we had a ceremony and reception and all that. It just wasn't religious.
  35. I moved to Hermosa Beach in 2000, after graduating college. Didn't know a soul in California. I am still amazed that I had the guts to do that.
  36. I was a victim of the dot-com bust and have been laid off twice: first in 200 (my first real job, 6 months after I started), and second in 2002 when the local office closed and I didn't want to move to Ohio.
  37. I am a software developer.
  38. I bought and sold 3 houses by the age of 28, first one at 25, all by myself.
  39. I have laid 800 square feet of maple hardwood, and also 1000 square feet of slate tile.
  40. I love DIY projects and will do whatever I can, myself, to save money.
  41. I am addicted to HGTV and the husband hates it. House Hunters is one of my favorite shows.
  42. I type pretty fast, thus the address of this blog ("thunderfingers", a name give to me by a co-worker at my last job).
  43. Mosquitoes love to bite me. I always have exponential more bites than everyone else.
  44. I sometimes have a potty mouth. Or maybe, I frequently have a potty mouth.
  45. I keep obsessive track of our finances and am quite frugal.
  46. I teach yoga on the side, for fun.
  47. I practice Ashtanga Yoga, First Series.
  48. I always redeem my recycling because I paid it the deposit and I deserve it back, damn it!
  49. I have an intermittent Diet Coke addiction.
  50. I am lactose intolerant, though I can eat cheese and yogurt. Consuming ice cream and milk is risky. Fresh whipped cream is downright stupid and inconsiderate to those within 20 yards of my ass.
  51. I stopped eating meat around September of 2007. I eat eggs and dairy though, and the occasional fish. Once every few months I'll eat chicken to keep my meat digesting enzymes working (just in case I ever need them in a pinch).
  52. I am a bit of a wine enthusiast and am a member of two wine clubs in Temecula, CA.
  53. As a kid, I had a large stuffed animal collection.
  54. I am a big crier at movies. And Grey's Anatomy episodes. I try not to watch sad movies because it totally ruins my mood for days (it took my at least a week to recover from Saving Private Ryan and The Deer Hunter. Not to mention Million Dollar Baby. I can't handle it).
  55. I prefer comedies when it comes to movies.
  56. I can quote several parts of the movie Spaceballs. Other favorites include: Super Troopers, Beer Fest, The Simpsons Movie, Old School, Wedding Crashers, and the Big Lebowski
  57. I had a typical Boston accent until college when I got teased by a bunch of New Yorkers. I no longer have the accent.
  58. I still have the Boston accent when saying the Our Father and Hail Mary. This comes from Catholic school where those prayers were memorized by hearing it rather than memorized by reading it (since we were in Kindergarten at the time). "Ah Fathah, who aat in Heaven..." yata, yata, yata.
  59. I have a Miniature Australian Shepherd who I love to pieces named Nikki.
  60. I had to give up my other dog, Savannah, to another family early last year when the two started viciously fighting, resulting in surgery to sew up Nikki's 5-inch gash in her neck. They grew up together from puppyhood, but apparently, two female dogs in the same household is never a good idea. My heart hurt for months and months, and still does when I think about her. I hope she is happy with her new owners.
  61. My father is a retired letter carrier of the US Postal Service.
  62. My mother is a retired high school physics teacher.
  63. In high school, I was conservative, even registering as an "independent" when I turned 18.
  64. My father thought I was going to end up a registered Republican as an adult.
  65. In college, after meeting different people, and studying different things, my perspective on poverty and social privilege changed. I realized that just by not being born in poverty and not growing up in a ghetto, I had much higher chances for success than others who were poor and lived in dangerous neighborhoods with bad schools. Hard work is sometimes not enough to pull yourself out of a bad situation you were born into, without choice. And that's not fair. That was the beginning of the gradual shift of my political leanings over to the "left".
  66. I worked for an investment bank for a summer during college and wore a suit nearly everyday.
  67. I like to complain. Very much, I do.
  68. I am a sucker for a sale.
  69. I almost went to the same college as my husband, and we probably would have met then, on the East Coast, instead of 4 years later on the West Coast. It chose not to go there (even though the financial aid/scholarship package was several thousand better) mostly because the boy-to-girl ratio was 10 to 1. That's what you get with a big engineering school.
  70. I am a Cancer. The zodiac sign, of course. Hopefully, I am not actually a "cancer" to anything. I try not to be.
  71. I had a big Lego collection as a child.
  72. I have never been to Disneyland, though I have lived in Southern California for 8 years.
  73. I love to study maps. I have no idea why.
  74. I love the beach and can't really imagine living in a land-locked place, though I'd love to have the cheaper real estate that goes with it!
  75. I taught myself to swim at 8.
  76. I taught myself to ride a bike at 8, with the help of my childhood friend in the back alley of her house.
  77. I have only a handful of real girlfriends. One from when I was 5 years old, and the other two from college.
  78. I have bad teeth (they look fine, white and mostly straight from braces, but they are weak and cavity prone), unlike my husband who has had one cavity in his entire life (I believe it's genetic!). I can't remember how many I've had, and I had a crown put in at 22,when the dentist found a crack in my molar.
  79. I've had my identity stolen and collections people called my house for accounts opened in my name that, obviously, were never paid. It took more than 6 months to straighten out, and I now have a fraud alert on my account which makes getting credit a hassle. But it's better than not having it.
  80. I used to drive a Mini Cooper S, before I decided it was not practical with a big 60 pound and also 30-pound dog. I miss that car.
  81. I drive stick shift, but didn't learn until I bought the Cooper which the Husband, then Boyfriend, had to drive home from the dealer for me. Since I was incapable. I loved that car so much I didn't even test drive it before buying it. I am no longer such a impulse spender, at least not a huge items.
  82. I watched Sesame Street and Mister Rogers until I was 7 or 8 years old.
  83. I love puzzles. I was doing 100-piece puzzles at 4 years old.
  84. I am very disorganized. But everything is in order in my head, where it counts.
  85. I used to hide in cardboard boxes as a kid, for fun.
  86. I walked at 10 months.
  87. I wasn't potty-trained until two and a half and apparently had some bad temper tantrums when I was in the "terrible twos". I am scared for what I am in for when I decide to finally procreate.
  88. I love to make things with my hands, knitting, sewing, remodeling, painting, etc.
  89. I can roll my tongue into a flower shape.
  90. I have a major sweet tooth. Love candy, cakes, pastries, cookies, etc.
  91. I do not love chocolate. I actually vehemently dislike chocolate cake and chocolate ice cream. I will, however, eat good chocolate like Godiva, or imported Belgian and Swiss chocolate. Yum!
  92. I love custards and anything with caramel, butterscotch, brown sugar, etc.
  93. With this vegetarian endeavor, the thing I miss most is probably fish and shellfish. I will let myself eat sushi and shellfish once in a while but not as much as I would like.
  94. I once forgot my husband's birthday. He will never let me live that down.
  95. I can waste hours searching for obscure things on Google.
  96. I am can be quite competitive. Unless I don't have a chance of winning, then I don't care.
  97. I can't dance my way out of paper bag.
  98. I am a terrible liar, and sometimes put my foot in my mouth when I say what's in my head.
    I listen to a wide range of music styles, some Country, some Rap, Pop (even teeny-bopper Pop), Rock, Oldies Rock, Southern Blues, Bluegrass, Alternative, etc. The only style I don't like at all is Death Metal. I need some kind of melody or beat or else it's just screaming to me.
  99. I have the same email address from freshman year of college in 1996 because of the lifetime forwarding that the university provides.
  100. I am a dog lover and when I have a free Saturday, volunteer at a local rescue
  101. I know, this is 101, but I love Cracker Barrel and wish they would open one in California!

Prius, Why Must You Be So Expensive?

We spent the weekend camping at around 8000 feet elevation in the very beautiful Mammoth Mountain area, in the Eastern Sierras. It was quite a breath-taking place; I will see if I can grab some time later to get some pictures up from our hiking trip to Devil's Postpile and Rainbow Falls. That was a hike-and-a-half, not because of the distance (4 miles, not very far) but because our friend's 3-year-old got so pooped in the first mile, that I ended up carrying her 40-pound self for at least 2 miles since her mom is nearly 6 months preggers and the little one would not allow my husband, a strange tall man who is not her "Daddy", to carry her. I totally earned my 3 beers and glass of wine that night.

We even got to see the terminus of Route 6 in Bishop, CA, which was super-cool for me because my hometown, back in Massachusetts, is a stop on this old cross-country route. When I was a kid, I once followed it from Provincetown, MA (the very tip of Cape Cod in MA) to Bishop, CA by pulling out every state map from our Encyclopedia book set. I was disappointed that it ended somewhere in "no-where" California and figured I'd never see it. Lo-and-behold! More than twenty years later, I got to drive the very end of it! It's the little things that make me happy. The Husband thought I was a little too excited about it.

He also had the same reaction when I squealed and jumped up and down when the Hertz guy offered me the Prius as a rental car option. I am frequently coined a "dork" by the Husband. Anyway, I had some vouchers from work, and we figured it was better to put the 750 miles on a rental than our own car, so, enter the Prius into the mix. I almost didn't rent it because it was an extra $24 dollars more than the Mazda 3 (my frugal brain immediately balked at $60, over $36). But, luckily, common sense prevailed when I realized that at 50-55 mpg, the net savings from gas would be exceed the extra cost to rent it.

And, by George (whoever he is), this car is awesome! We used around 8 gallons of gas to drive 370 miles. Roundtrip, 760 miles later, we spent $64 on gas. Is that not insane? And we pay around $4/gallon here, so it used about 16 gallons for 750 miles. All cars NEED to be this efficient!!!

The downside is that they cost $24,000, new. That is a bit more than I'd like to spend on my next car. I am so OVER taking out a loan and paying for a car for 5 years, I don't want to do it again. Sure, used is an option, but I doubt they are that much cheaper used, unless you get one that has driven to Timbuck-Two and back 14 times.

I was bummed to have to give it back this morning. It even unlocks itself when you walk up to it with your key. At first, I thought it was posessed, when I walked up to it at the camp-site, key still in my purse, and it unlocked itself without anyone pressing the button. I am going to hold out hope that more hybrids will be made at more affordable pricing - it would be excellent for our wallets and the environment. Then I can get my own Prius, and not have to scare the Hertz rental guy anymore.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Steve, We Need To Talk

Like many women, I have my fair share of Steve Madden shoes. I have owned more pairs than I can remember, with 4 pairs currently sitting in my closet - well, 3 pairs after this story. I probably own about 12 pairs of shoes, so he accounts for about 30% of my collection.

Generally, I like the styles, they hold up reasonably well to wear, and are a good value, considering I always buy on sale, at Marshalls/TJ Maxx places, or on eBay. Today, I put on a cute pair of patent leather heels with a little bow that I hadn't worn in a while, a while being at least a year. In fact, I've probably worn them only a handful of times.

Four hours later, they look like this (cell phone pic - not bad!):



The soles have disintegrated. I have, unknowingly, been leaving bits and pieces of black rubber all over the office. I left one huge chunk on the floor under my desk, along with a smattering of smaller chunks. On the way to the bathroom, I spotted two more. There's probably remnants of my shoes in the break-room and all the way out the door. At one point, I wondered if the the growing size of my thighs and arse caused my shoes to give up the good fight of holding me up. But seriously? At 120 pounds, while it's the most I've ever weighed, I'm still in the normal range, so, shoes shouldn't be buckling under my weight.

I don't know, Steve. You've gotta pick up your game, or else I may have to vote you out of my closet.

And Then There Were 193

Holy Visits from The Nester, Batman. Sure, when I posted my link to my mistreatment, I expected some more traffic than the usual 5-10 visits per day, but not 193! Dang! And the vast majority came from Texas. She must have some crazy following - I mean, I figured she did but that is truly amazing, that putting my link up there resulted in 20-30 times my normal traffic. Gotta love The Nester for spreading the love around to the less-traveled blogs.

Believe it or not, my legs STILL HURT from Sunday. It's mostly gone, but 3 days post-run I am still sore. Yoga must really be doing zippo for my quads. Total non sequitur (side note: Blogger spell-checker does not think "sequitur" is a word. Silly Blogger.), a positive development is Creepy Dude at the studio has not been manning the desk or coming to my class for the last 4 weeks! It's truly a relief, but I am curious as to why the sudden departure. I know, don't look a gift horse in the mouth, but I wonder if his wife figured it out because she is always there now. It better not be that he thinks leaving me alone will somehow make me realize I want him. You never know with people out there - it never ceases to amaze me, the idiocy of some folks.

It is working day number 3 since I submitted our plans (like real, auto-CAD, drafted plans) to the city building department for our kitchen addition. Supposedly, they have 20 working days to get back to us, though they said it would likely be sooner. I am expecting to get them back complete with whining about something missing or not right. Honestly, they look pretty damn good to me. We totally lucked out that the Husband's good friend at the office has 90% of an architecture degree and is an auto-CAD expert. Apparently, it costs like $1K-2K for similar plans, but he wouldn't take any money. I am thinking maybe we should buy him a Wii and MarioKart, because if he won't take money, he should take the coolest video game ever created as a token of our appreciation.

And this is yet another good reason to be a vegetarian. EEWWW.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ovary Peer-Pressure

This past weekend at a friend's BBQ, I felt like my ovaries were being prodded by everyone and their grandmother. Jesus, Mary, and also Joseph, with the children. I am fully aware that my nauseatingly cliche "biological clock" is ticking. I am several months into my 30th (31st, actually, if I am being technical) year and, folks, I ain't gettin' any younger.

And that's what's funny to me. I still see myself as young. I don't feel 30! I don't feel like I have only 5 more viable "child-bearing" years. But that is reality. I am not immune to the inevitable "change of life" (to use another played-out cliche. I am all about cliche's today. Anyway, so yeah). This supposed "urge" to have babies is just not there. Maybe I feel a LITTLE bit of it. Or maybe that's just gas...

The only good reason I can muster for my (il)logical brain is that if I don't do it soon, I will no longer HAVE the choice. So, 7 or 8 years from now I may be in full-blown baby crazy, find myself royally screwed and in the depths of fertility treatment shit, which is never fun and hardly guaranteed. But is this truly a good reason to have kids? I mean, really?

When I think about it though, back in the day, when birth control was less widely available and used, those not bitten by the baby bug were often "blessed" [dripping with sarcasm] with "accidents" and then ended up happy as clams with being parents. Perhaps it is just my fear of the unknown that is causing my veritable aversion to producing offspring. I don't know. It just seems like one huge Risk. A living, breathing Risk that pees and poops and cries, and yes is also cute. But is something new to worry about, because, I am like my dog, Nikki, who worries a bone like nobody's business.

All I know for sure is that 31 is just around the corner, and I can see 40 in the distance. Yuck.

Monday, August 18, 2008

One of Those Days Where I Wish I Could Pee, Standing Up

It's rare, but today is one day where I envy the male gender's ability to use a urinal.

Why? Maybe because my quads are screaming in a most vociferous manner that the act of sitting hurts like a Mofo.

I used to be a fairly active runner, with a couple marathons, and several half marathons under my belt; however, I have not run -- at all -- since December of last year. We're talking 8 months, people. So, this past weekend, after making some good dinero at our garage sale, we proceeded to spend it on new running sneakers (yes, sneakers. I'm a Mass-hole and that's what they are). Feeling a little guilty about the purchase (though I've had the same pair for 2 years so I need to give myself a break), I felt the need to justify the sneakers' existence, so I laced 'em up Sunday morning, for a short little run.

I went about 1.5 miles at a 10 minute per mile pace which is good, and, really, I wasn't all that pooped. My cardiovascular shape is still intact, probably because of all the vinyasas in my Ashtanga practice. Today, however, my quads are cursing me. Every time I sit down, or walk down stairs, they are YELLING at me. Sure, it's no where near the pain felt in the days following a marathon (that is just wrong - last time I had to grip the hand-rails for Dear Life while going down stairs one foot at a time - that pain lasted 3 days), but it's still pain.

So, yeah, today would be a day where the ability to urinate in the standing position would certainly be helpful.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Sleep Deprivation

These Olympics are going to make me fucking batty. I love watching them but the broadcast times are just stupidly late. I mean, the women's gymnastics team finals not starting until 10:30pm? Seriously? It's the most popular sport, the one little girls love to watch - do you think parents will let them burn the midnight-oil into the night? I know it was live for East Coast, but why not show us West Coasters the live feed as well so we can start watching at 7:30pm, for Christ's sake.

I can't take it anymore. Three consecutive nights of staying up until midnight and then feeling like I have been hit by a Mack Truck the next morning at 6am. Last night I stayed up until the last Alicia Sacramone fiasco. Poor thing, I felt bad for her, especially after she had done so well in the preliminaries. But when she fell on her ass, I gave up and fought sleep to see the last two Americans (because I love to watch Shawn Johnson, she is just like a Mexican Jumping Bean), and didn't bother to watch the Chinese. I knew it was over.

And, the Chinese? Do they look 16? I don't think so. But that's not what makes me believe the rumors. I certainly don't look my age, as proven when that flight attendant thought I was like 14 when I was 21. What makes me question them is that their birthdays were posted on rosters from their teams prior to the Olympics and they were all indicating they were younger than the required 16 years of age. Suddenly, all three dates are "fixed" because apparently they were all wrongly printed, and they have passports to prove it. Sounds fishy. to have all those birthdays screwed up. For a culture who is so precise about everything, they were imprecise about their ages on roster websites? But there isn't much you can do. I wouldn't put it past a country who is so driven to be seen as perfect, to have passports made with different birthdays, just so they can win. I mean, the East Germans doped up all their athletes and screwed them up for life in their quest for athletic domination. No country can really be trusted - if the US had their athletes birthdays all wrong like that and suddenly they were "fixed" I wouldn't trust them either.

It's just crappy when you have to question something like the Olympics. It's supposed to be a level playing ground and the time when things are fair, but it seems like nothing is really ever "fair" in the world.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Who Would Ever Want to be King

The reality is I'm a Pain In the Ass, with a Capital P. Sometimes I get it into my head that "this is what is it and I don't to hear it" which is ,really, the very thing I hate and rail about (read: close-minded conservatives who refuse to see the other side concerning health-care, poverty, same-sex marriage, etc.). Thankfully, I generally do it on less important things that don't affect people's civil liberties.

Before I launch into another angry political brain dump, the reason why I stating I am sometimes a Sciatic Nerve Pinch in the Ass: Coldplay is great.

There. I said it. At least I will admit when I am wrong (unlike, GWB, who is delusional and won't admit he made a collosal mistake invading Iraq. Anyway). For the longest time, I was convinced I didn't like Coldplay. The Husband does, and he would mention the album to try to get me to listen to them, but NOOO, I was having no part of it. Nope, "Coldplay is not my 'thing'."

Right. Guess who is going OCD with her repeat of the latest album? Yeah.

I kept hearing Viva La Vida on the radio, and really getting into it it. So, I decided yesterday, let's stick the latest album on the iPod, see what this shiz-nit is all about. And it rocks.

I did the same thing with KT Tunstall. Now I love her. Hopefully, I will learn to be less of a painful pimple on my husband's ass cheek. Don't hold your breath.

It's a Damn Stomp-fest Around Here

I'm not sure why I am a walking trigger of annoyance today, but everything is aggravating me. Most specifically, it is every person walking past my desk pretending to be part of the USC marching band.

Literally, every person that walks by (ok, not every person, but definitely more than one person) is like an elephant. Every particle of my being gets jostled around. It's like an earthquake, with the floor bouncing up and down. Imagine that you are trying to navigate some overly-complicated code and having a hard time figuring out a maze of connections and every 2 minutes, someone stomps by and you're whole body shakes including your brain and throws all your concentration out the window. You might have almost figured out where the heck to put this new piece of god-forsaken code, you're hot on the trail, and then "Boom! Boom! Boom!", feet of lead walk by, announcing their presence to the whole building.

Whatever happened to walking softly? Does the entire floor need to be aware of the fact that you are WALKING?

Damn this PMS!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Stocking Up

Aside from getting bit by a dog and almost losing my bottom half of my bikini in ocean off La Jolla, this weekend I made a find almost as good as my ginourmous Ikea sink.

Ruggero di Tasso, Nero d' Avola

What is the hell is that, you are wondering? Well, before we moved down to North County from Elsinore, we used to buy some vino at the Trader Jose's in Temecula. One in particular was the 2005 Ruggero di Tasso, Nero d'Avola, for $3.99. Oh, was this shit good. For under 4 bucks, you seriously could not beat it with a stick. We then moved, and never again did I find it at my local TJs. Boooooo!

On our drive up the northern end of "The OC" we stopped at the Trader Joe's in San Clemente for beer and maybe a bottle or two of wine. I picked up a bottle some stuff I had never heard of from Northern Cal, and I turned the corner to check out the Italian wines... and Holy Jesus!

There it was.

Same wine maker and varietal, not the same year, 2006 instead.Whatever! I bought every bottle that was on the shelf. Turned out to be only 10 bottles (guess I wasn't the only one buying it up). But I cleared them OUT! Oh, Happy Day!

Then I was bit by the dog, and then a Happy Day, it was not so much. It's healing nicely though - it was mostly a bad bruise that is in that process of turning that funny shade of sallow yellow now.

Overall, the wine is pretty good. It's not as good as 2005. Not sure why that year was like liquid crack, because, man, was that stuff good. Well, probably not the greatest thing ever if you're comparing it to $20-30+ wines, but when I've only paid $3.99 for it, it's the Greatest Thing Ever. My impossibly picky and hard-to-please mother even thought it was good (though at $3.99, it's pushing her price limits - her frugality makes her feel guilty for spending more than $1.99. At the rate my parents drink wine, I'd almost agree.).

So, if you are lucky enough to live in Trader Joe's Country, you might want to grab a bottle. Certainly better than Two-Buck-Chuck.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Sneaky Bastards

That's what I call the City of Mesa's traffic division, and any other city in Arizona that uses those offensive, freedom-hating (to coin a Bush term), red-light/speed cameras.

As I have mentioned previously, we make a yearly pilgrimage to the Phoenix area to partake in Spring Training. I had grown to like Arizona from these trips. Until I discovered the asshole-ness that is the City of Mesa (home of the Cubs Spring Training field, Hohokam Park) and their placement of red-light cameras.

Now, if you don't already know, Cubs fans are everywhere. Much like Red Sox fans, if they had a game in Anchorage, Alaska, it would sell out. Because they are everywhere, or they will travel from everywhere to get this game in East Cuttybumfuck. So the stadium is always packed, and always, people drive to these Spring Training games. Mesa is hardly built to deal with the colossal amount of traffic that ensues during the parking and unloading of cars into the lot. After waiting for like an hour to get into the lot (my left knee was screaming in agony from having to push and un-push the clutch pedal, after 6 hours of driving from San Diego), we watch the game, and then commence the arduous "unload" process. I'm going down Country Club Drive with the rest of the folks leaving the game, so you can imagine, there's some traffic. I get to a light and it's just turned yellow, I am going about 20 mph right behind a truck, so I decide I'll make it through, and as far as I know, I did since when my front tires passed the cross-walk, the light was still yellow. I wasn't even aware it was a "photo-enforced" intersection (I hate that phrase, "photo-enforced"; how 'bout I "enforce" my foot up your ass).

I see the flash. The husband and I look at each other, and agree that it's probably the car behind me since it was yellow when I entered the intersection.

About a week after we get back I get the infamous photo of myself SMILING. Who smiles at the evil photo camera? I guess I do. Turns out City of Mesa are again, sneaky bastards, because the line they use to say whether you've entered the intersection is actually the end of the sidewalk which is a couple feet AFTER the cross walk. They have a special line after the cross-walk that I noticed in the picture. Total bullshit is what that is. And I'll bet they get lots of out-of-state spring training visitors who get screwed by this light during the month of March.

I almost succumbed to the horror that is a red-light violation (which is 2-points, mind you, on your record, and no amount of mind-numbing driving school will take that off). But something was weird to me. They had included a self-addressed, stamped envelope to return the paperwork. Really? Since when do they do that? Generally, it's "pay this, and pay your own damn postage, or your license will be suspended". Never has the California DMV given me free postage to send them money.

I did some Googling, and guess what? There's a loophole (yay for loopholes!). In Arizona, they have to personally serve you with a ticket. A human has to hand you a ticket. When you get pulled over, you get handed a ticket. When a camera takes a picture of you, no one is handing you shit. They can't prove you received it in the mail. What's more, I am out of state - and are they really going to send someone over to serve me the ticket?(Note: They do that to in-state residents, then charge them a $26 fee). So, I said, "fuck you," and waited the requisite 120 days and sure enough, it was dismissed. Besides luring you with free postage, they are even so sneaky as to have an online service where you can log-in and look at your photos - which, "ding!" proves you received the notice and you are SOL. I, thankfully, didn't do that.

So, if you are ever in Arizona and happen to get flashed by one of these totally bogus, unfair cameras, let them personally serve you. If they don't, you are scot-free.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Status of the Cashola

Well, folks, last month was probably the first month we had a dip in net worth thanks to our little friend, the Slab Leak (I imagine that if I were to personify the slab leak it would be like a little ugly, smelly troll hiding in the bushes). Well, if I don't include the house. If I include the house, then I've had a monthly net worth decrease ever since we bought it.

In an effort to replenish the emergency fund of the $5600 gaping hole, I chose to pay off less debt. So, only an extra $650 on the car. Last month, we paid off $1213 of debt.

And, just to put into perspective the painful decline of our home value, in case you didn't yet feel sorry for me.

April 2007
Paid/Home value $530,00, new loan(s) for $465,000 - equity: $65,000

August 2008
Home value $433,500 (from zillow), loan balances $456,221 - equity: ($22,721)

Nice.

People keep telling me, "it's OK, it'll come back eventually."

My Ass it will! When will that be? 2017? I'd be happy if it just stopped bleeding and stayed stable. Nevermind growth. How about it doesn't lose $10,000 each month? Just stay fucking stable so when I pay my the loan payment, I actually see my equity grow rather than continue to fall further into the negative. Christ Almighty. No wonder people walk away from paying their mortgages - this feels like an exercise in futility and insanity.

This is How She Sleeps

This Has Been the Summer of Crap Falling Apart

Seriously.

First, it was my dog. Sure he was old, but still. Then, it was my house - which is now in total shambles awaiting the addition and demolition. The latest is my windshield. A crack I had mended last year is on the move and has traveled from the top to the middle. No more mending this thing - has to be replaced. Blah. Another $200 down the crapper.

And to top it all off, I got nipped in the face by a dog this weekend. I'm the asshole for trusting a dog I really didn't know. But she was letting me rub her belly so I got a little closer with my face and, really, without warning (no growling, mind you), she bit me. Luckily, she didn't want to hurt me badly, because I'm sure she could have.

Instead, though, I look like I've been punched in the jaw. Bruised up nicely. I'm still trying to figure out how to explain this at work. It freaked me out because getting bit in the face is rather unsettling. I mean, I have lots of important things on my face that I need on a daily basis. The dog has some issues, in my opinion - last month, she bit a kid and he ended up needing stitches. You're probably wondering why I was even petting her having known this information. Well, they had two dogs that look quite alike (litter-mates, so they were sisters), so I wasn't even sure if I was petting the crazy dog or the good dog. Either way, I'm still an idiot for trusting the dog that I didn't really know.

Even at 30 you do stupid shit and (hopefully) learn from it.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Kitchens are Not Portable

I can't get over people trying to sell their entire kitchen on Craigslist.

http://sandiego.craigslist.org/csd/fur/777908663.html
http://sandiego.craigslist.org/nsd/for/769305228.html

Kitchens have to be planned. You can't just stick the cabinets of one kitchen into another without some thought and likely modifications (unless they are the same model house of a tract, of course). It's like taking someone's teeth and sticking into someone else's mouth. I highly doubt dentures are that portable. I mean, I have spent a couple WEEKS mapping out our cabinets for the new kitchen. Nevermind trying to take someone's existing kitchen and square-peg it into my space. And the granite countertop? I can't see how that'll be an easy thing to move into another kitchen.

These look like they're in excellent shape - quite nice actually. Why would you want to rip that out?

I am actually wondering if maybe some of these people are near foreclosure. I have heard about people ripping stuff out of the house - generally appliances, fixtures (faucets, hardware, chandelier), etc. But the entire kitchen? I would not be surprised if this is the case, though. One ad says "must sell urgently due to financial crisis." I'm sorry, but how are you going to live in your house without a kitchen. You can, but it's ludicrous. Sounds to me like foreclosure is imminent and you are going to leave the bank with a fucking mess of a house.