Homeowners are us

Della called Elise this morning to tell us that the final addendum has been signed by the sellers. That means that it’s 99% official – we are bona fide first-time homeowners. Our closing date is on or before January 29th. I say 99% official because the loan is yet to be funded. We’ve been pre-approved so we just have to wait to have our broker fund the loan at closing.

Christmas 2003

Elise and I had a nice, relaxing, extended holiday week. We got to my parents’ house at almost midnight on Tuesday. Elise had to finish wrapping presents. I hit the nog.

I woke up late on Christmas eve. Elise got up early, had breakfast and talked to my parents for a couple hours. Shortly after I crept out of bed, we wormed my parents’ cows. A very Texas Christmas. After an enchilada dinner, we looked at the photo albums.

On Christmas morning, we all got up, ate breakfast and opened presents. Mom and Dad really liked the picture that Elise and I took in New Orleans… My parents spent their honeymoon in New Orleans as did we in 2001. We went to Pat O’Briens and a recreated a picture that was taken of my parents 30+ years ago.

After all the box tossing and paper shredding, we all went to work in the kitchen to prepare Christmas lunch/dinner. My uncle Bill and cousin Shantel came over just after noon. We ate, took pictures, ate, took more pictures and rode Bill’s 4-wheeler. Elise says she doesn’t want her own motorcycle… I guess having two extra wheels makes for a safer ride.

We woke up on Friday morning and drove into Houston to find our washer and dryer set. The drive in was fun. Even though Christmas had passed and Elise was suffering from her cold, we were able to maintain our holiday spirit. After waiting in traffic and passing the fatal accident on I-10, we made our way up I-45 north to what we thought was the Sears scratch and dent outlet. It turned out we had made our way to the parts and service store. We turned around and drove down I-45 south to the actual scratch and dent outlet. We looked around for an hour or so and decided to move on. We didn’t buy anything because 1) we didn’t have a truck 2) I wanted to make sure that we slept on it before spending $1,000+ and 3) Elise the Laundry Monger wanted to go back to my parents’ house a research the units we looked at.

We drove over to the Galleria area. We first stopped at FAO Shwarz. That was kind of depressing because they were having a going out of business sale. I then took Elise into the Galleria. It was a mad house. I really just took her there so she could see the ice skating rink and 3-story Christmas tree. After seeing both, we decided to pretend we were swanky and dipped into a few stores. Fendi, Louis Vuitton and Cartier were about as much as my $18 sweater and I could take. Elise and I found a $180 long sleeve t-shirt and a pair of $480 blue jeans. Nothing fancy about either. Those were the two items that we decided were worth a price tag flip. Most items didn’t have price tags. “If you have to ask…” We laughed heartily and left. We drove back to Mom and Dad’s, had dinner, watched TV and went to bed.

On Saturday we drove back into Houston in Dad’s truck and decided on a washer we wanted to purchase at the Sears outlet. We saved $250 on a new Maytag washing machine because of a couple barely noticeable scratches. Our options for dryers were a limited because our house has a gas line for the dryer. We drove over to the Sears store in Memorial City Mall. I told the sales guy that I had a truck and I wanted to take a dryer home with me that night. Elise found the dryer we needed but they didn’t have the gas model, nor the “bisque” color that matched our washer. The sales guy upgraded the dryer for free and is having it shipped to Austin just in time for us to move into the house. We saved $400 on new appliances. We realized that we are married, soon-to-be homeowners because we were shopping for household appliances on a Saturday night. Memorial City Mall received quite the facelift, by the way.

We got up Sunday, ate, read the newspaper, packed and started watching the Texans Vs. Colts game. Elise and I headed back to Austin around 1 p.m. and fought the rain and traffic all the way in. Our normal 1.5 hour drive took us over 3 hours. We unpacked the Jeep and rushed over to Burlington Coat Factory to exchange both of our new jackets. I think we’re both much happier with the jackets that we picked out for ourselves.

Life is started to get back to normal, which stinks. While riding my bicycle to work yesterday morning, I tried to listen to Christmas music on the JoshPod so I could maintain some form of holiday spirit. Battery was dead. Bah humbug! Apparently 98.4% of Austin isn’t working this week because it sure seemed like I was the ONLY warm-blooded animal traversing the land yesterday morning.

We met with Della and Clyde at Springhill last night to initial another addendum on our house contract and to consume fried food. I had a chicken fried steak sandwich that could have fed a team of starving Sumo wrestlers. We’re hoping that the paperwork we initialed last night will be the last until closing at the end of January. This addendum stated that the buyers are paying a certain amount in closing costs in lieu of repairs because we had to go with an FHA loan. With an FHA loan, the buyers have to pay part of closing. We wish we had known that earlier. Things could have been worse though. All-in-all, buying a house has been relatively pain free thus far.

Bad crash to ruin the holiday mood

Elise and I drove into Houston yesterday afternoon to shop for washer and dryers at the Sears scratch and dent warehouse. On I-10, just before Sheppard we saw the aftermath of a horrific car crash.

If I had to guess, I’d say we missed the wreck by an hour or so. Elise saw that the car was cut in half. Even though I was driving, I could also see the remains of the car and what looked like a body covered by a sheet.

Seeing things like that really put things into perspective.

In other news – Elise and I have been at my parents’ house since Tuesday night. We been having a nice, relaxed visit. Christmas was a lot of fun. Elise and I both surprised each other by giving each other new leather jackets. We’re both going to have to return them. Luckily we both bought them from the same store so we can go returning/shopping together.

My parents are helping us buy a washer and dryer as our Christmas/housewarming gift. We’re about to go to Houston (again) and hopefully knock this purchase out of the way. I know nothing about washer and dryers. I think the ones with all of the buttons and lights are cool, though I have no idea what they all do.

Over the Colorado River and through the Texas humidity

It’s pushing 8:30 p.m. and we’re about to load the sleigh and head to Mom and Dad’s house in Cat Spring to celebrate Christmas.

Elise has come down with her annual cedar fever/allergies. So now yours truly has to look forward to a 3 hour Jeep ride with a snot funneling, teary-eyed wife, contemporary pop Christmas tunes on the soft rock radio station, no rear view visablity due to a vehicle full of presents and dirty laundry and an imminent headache from my own cussing at last minute shoppers and other travellers on the highway.

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope Santa brings you all everything that was on your list.

More papers to sign for the house

I rode my bicycle home from work and checked the mail this evening. Today we received a large package from the title company regarding the house we’re buying. To illustrate how large a package this is, I set it on the table next to the largest book I could find on our bookshelf, a work entitled “The Bible”. At first glance I noticed that the package from the title company contains a lot of legalese. We’re supposed to read and sign these papers. I decided to read the liner notes of “The Bible” instead for the sake of procrastination. From what I’ve gathered, this book is a fictional piece written by Oprah Winfrey about a boy who wears a very popular ring, wants to become a wizard, befriends a Clownfish and together they set out on a hair-raising adventure to produce a calendar containing nude photographs of post-menopausal women.

All the house shopping

Yesterday I threw away approximately 72 house fliers. These fliers are usually 8.5″ x 11″ sheets of paper enclosed in a weatherproof container that is attached to a For Sale sign in front of a house. I kept these fliers somewhat neatly organized in my old, empty Olive Garden employee training notebook.

That means that Elise and I drove by and picked up fliers for 72 houses. If I had to guess, I’d say that we picked up 30 more and immediately threw them away because the house was out of our price range or didn’t meet some other criteria. I’d say we looked at another 25 houses that didn’t have fliers. Elise has gone to look at houses on her own many times. She has probably looked at 40 houses by herself. Della, our agent has sent me 74 house listing e-mails. She probably sent me more but were deleted because of criteria. On average, these house listing e-mails contain 3 or more houses for sale. Combined Elise and I have looked at another couple hundred houses in Travis County online.

That comes out to 1.4 billion houses for sale that Elise and I have seen since early summer.

Pinnacle Studio 8 serial number

I have a love/hate relationship with Pinnacle. I used to own a DC30 Pro video capture card. I upgraded my OS to XP. Pinnacle said they were not going to update drivers for the DC30 to work under XP. Bad Pinnacle.

I sold that capture card and recently purchased Pinnacle’s Studio 8 bundled with a DC10 analog capture card.

When I tried to install the program software I was asked for a 10 digit serial number. The number is to be found on the back of the Guide to Movie Making manual. On the back of said manual are a bunch of phone numbers and an eight digit number on the bottom right corner of the back cover.

I called Pinnacle’s 1-800 number where I was told to hang up and call a long distance number for consumer product technical support. I called the long distance number to get an hours of operation recording.

So long story short. If you need the serial number for Pinnacle Studio 8, here you go: 4511089346.

Buy Pinnacle’s Studio HD V14 here.

Trail of Lights, last minute shopping

Elise and I walked the Trail of Lights last night. It was okay. We agreed that it would have been more fun making the trek by means of inner tubes and bathing suits. I snapped a few photos – a cold artist’s perspective.

Prior to that we had spent most of Saturday doing our last minute Christmas shopping. We had to be in the post office by 2 p.m. in order for our packages to make it out in time. We got to the post office around 1:30 and didn’t get out until nearly 3.

I went to bed relatively early on Friday night while Elise did some late night shopping.

House news

Sorry for the lack of posts. Elise and I have been busy. By busy I mean we’re buying a house. By busy buying a house I mean signing multiple copies of amendments to addendums and initialling documents that contain words like “notwithstanding” and “kiss all recreational money goodbye”. The process is not 100% complete as of yet, but on paper there is a contract pending. That basically means that our offer has been accepted and the sellers are dealing with us exclusively. We’re having the hardwood floors looked at and are getting an estimate on repairs tomorrow. There are a few panels that aren’t tacked down to the foundation.

We had the house inspected yesterday. The inspector was really impressed with the condition of the house. Aside from some minor fixes, we’re getting a good deal on a home that will require minimal maintenance.

Here’s the general info:

approximately 2,100 sq. ft.
1 story
4 bedrooms (one being an office)
formal dining
living room
2 full bathrooms
living, dining and hallways are hardwood floors
kitchen/fireplace slate tile

We both feel as if we got a good deal on the house and are locked into a pretty good interest rate. We really want to paint the interior of the house. The current owners have an interesting taste in colors – definitely not our taste though. Elise and are thinking about a coffee color-based swatch. Another issue is a deck. We’re going to need a deck. There is a back patio, but not large enough to entertain or even to have the both of us out there hanging out. I have a feeling Home Depot is going to get sick of us.

Our closing date is on or before January 29.

Sorry to the Max(im)

Elise and I had a great night alone last night. I came home from work and started working on the Christmas newsletter. Elise got home from work shortly thereafter. She came into the office, sat on my lap and told me about her day. She told me a pretty scary story about how yesterday, during broad daylight, someone broke into our friend, Bill’s house – while he was home! Luckily nobody was hurt and nothing was taken but I’m sure Bill and Andrea didn’t sleep a wink last night.

We watched the season finale of NBC’s reality show Average Joe. After a disappointing ending, Elise and I started talking about our relationship and how it all started. Elise told me how I looked like I fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down but at least I had my sense of humor going for me. I’m Joshin’. She pretty much told me how great I was to her. That made me feel good.

We laughed and got all mushy as we reminisced on our first days together as a couple. I’ve always been the shy, timid type around girls. On our first date, it took me hours before I could muster enough courage to give Elise a kiss. Elise reminded me of when we were standing on the balcony of my one-bedroom apartment and it began to gently rain. That was when I should have first kissed her. I know this now because that is what Elise said I should have done.

We were talking and taking this romantic walk together down memory lane when all of the sudden we got into a mild debate, which escalated into something that made us go to bed mad. It’s like the whole night was a waste for both of us.

I woke up this morning and it wasn’t until I was getting into the shower that I remembered the events of last night. I was pissed off again – really frustrated. I’ve been frustrated and upset all day. I’ve gnawed off all of my fingernails.

So this is what’s going to happen. I’m going to leave for Tae Kwon Do tonight. I’m going to hit a deer on Southwest Parkway while riding the trusty Shadow and this will render me an invalid. Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston will separate because word will leak of Jennifer’s love triangle with Rosie O’donnell and Bob Saget. Brad Pitt will fly to Austin to be in a movie directed by Robert Rodriguez and co-starring Sandra Bullock. El Arroyo will cater a lunch for the cast and crew. Elise will be there as catering director. She will tell Brad Pitt a joke and they will fall madly in love. Elise will move out to Los Angeles with Brad and live a beautiful, movie star life. I will be stuck in a hospital bed, in traction with pins in my legs. John will feel sorry for me so he’ll buy me a one year subscription to Maxim. That’s what I’ll have. All because I didn’t kiss my wife and tell her that I loved her this morning before I went to work. I always kiss Elise and tell her that I love her every morning.

Lobbed finger, fried chicken, venison backstrap filets

This past weekend was relatively uneventful for yours truly. Elise worked all weekend and I caught up on some sitting around and doing absolutely nothing. This was due mainly to the weather being near freezing on Saturday. Today it is 70+ degrees outside. Texas.

I started working on the 2003 Janicek Christmas newsletter on Friday night while I was waiting for my laundry to finish. After a couple hours of writing, deleting everything that I wrote, writing, deleting and so on, I decided to better myself by watching TV and then going to bed.

I woke up shortly after 7 a.m. on Saturday morning and cooked breakfast. While dicing a potato, I lobbed off the tip of my ring finger on my left hand with my . It was weird – I couldn’t feel it happen but I could hear it. It was kind of a crunching sound. Pretty gross, actually. Like I said, it was just the tip, so it’ll grow back.

After that tragic accident, I decided that life was too short and I could die at any moment. I then mustered some wit and started again on the newsletter. I’m almost half way done wihttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifth it now.

I took a nap and watched TV. I went onto the balcony and watched the cats watch cars.

After all of that excitement, I decided to fry some chicken. Best damn fried chicken I’ve ever made. Of course, I don’t think I’ve ever made fried chicken before. Not quite satisfied I decided to bake some brownies from scratch. I’ve had a fear of baking that I decided to overcome. I’d say it went over well.

I watched another bad episode of Saturday Night Live. Elise came home, we talked about her work and went to bed.

On Sunday Elise and I woke up at the same time. Elise went to work. I went to the couch. I watched a little football, Suze Orman on KLRU and that pretty much knocked me out. I conked out on the couch which is very rare for me.

I had been thawing a venison backstrap in the refrigerator since Friday and decided that it needed to be cooked. I ran to the grocery store for needed ingredients. I soaked 4 3-inch filets in merlot for almost 5 hours, wrapped them in bacon, skewered them, grilled them to crust the sides and threw them in the oven for 15 minutes. I then made a sauce out of the juice of an orange and a lemon, 3 chipotles and butter. I threw the steaks on top of a bed of garlic and oil couscous and topped it all with the sauce. Pretty good. I overcooked Elise’s steak because she’s not much of the bloody meat fan. Hers was a little chewy. Mine was awesome.

‘Twas twenty nights before Christmas…

‘Twas twenty nights before Christmas, when all through the apartment
Not a creature was stirring, except for Riley and Annie
who, if I had to guess, were break dancing on the coffee table and smoking cigarettes;
My socks were hung from the doorknob with care,
In hopes that I could last till weekend in these underwear;

The cats finally nestled all snug in my bed,
While visions of free-range kitty biscuits danced in their heads;
And Elise in my old Adidas t-shirt, and I in my Underoos,
Had just settled down for a long winter’s snooze,

When out from the walls there arose such a shriek,
Elise sprang from the bed to take a peek.
Away to the smoke alarms I flew like a laser,
Tore them out from the ceiling and cussed like a sailor.

Apparently somebody thought it would be funny to pull one of the fire alarms in our apartment building’s breezeway at 1:45 a.m. this morning. I’ve stopped rhyming, by the way. I have to hand it to the fire alarms at the Monterey Ranch apartments, they’ll make damn sure you wake up if there’s a fire – or if there are delinquents who like to wake people up in the wee hours of the morning with what sounds and feels like a full-sized human being sitting just inside your inner ear and laying into a fog horn and a rape whistle at the same time. My ears still hurt.

After five minutes or so, the residents of our building migrated outside. Elise called the fire department and the apartment complex’s call center. After another ten minutes or so, the fire department finally showed up and turned off the alarm.

Firemen sprang to their truck, to the horn gave a whistle,
And away they all drove like the down of a thistle.
But I heard them exclaim, ere they drove out of sight,
“Sorry your ears are bleeding, go back to bed and sleep tight!”

Mr. Saigon and my day as a speaker salesman

Despite two “No Soliciting” signs posted at the front of our office building, we always have someone that comes into our office trying to sell something. Even Airborne Express comes in once a month to try to get us to use their service. I usually have to stop Mr. Door-to-Door sales rep guy and say “Pipe down, moron. We already use Airborne Express for all of our shipments”.

Recently a young man came into our office while I was working alone. He told me that he had a truck downstairs with a whole bunch of Omaha steaks that he would sell to me for a super low price. If not, his boss would just wind up giving them away. Ordinarily I would have just said “No thanks” but this time I actually stood up and paced after the guy who was standing in our office doorway. I pointed to the door and said “We have two signs outside that say “No Soliciting””. He didn’t rebuttal, he just left. In hindsight, I should have been more compassionate.

I once had a job like this young steak salesman. It was in my early years of college. I needed some extra spending money and needed a job that 1) didn’t require an extensive resume and 2) required little or no brainpower. I had neither due to 1) genetics and 2) numerous weekends as a freshman where keg stands were mandatory.

After many, many painstaking and arduous minutes of scouting the classifieds, I found an ad that sounded appealing: SELL REALLY COOL SPEAKER EQUIPMENT. RELAXED, CASUAL ENVIRONMENT. GREAT PAY. MAKE YOUR OWN HOURS.

I called and was to have my interview the very next morning. My interview consisted of me handing over my driver’s license to be photocopied and filling out a measly employment application. The next thing I knew, I was in a new Dodge Durango with some long-haired dude. I will from here-on-out refer to long-haired dude as Mr. Saigon.

Mr. Saigon told me that we were going to drive to College Station. So we did. Along the way I kept inquiring about the job responsibilities. Mr. Saigon told me that I would have to wait and see. Boy, was I excited. Action, adventure, suspense and really cool speaker equipment that I haven’t even seen yet!

Mr. Saigon and I made casual small talk. He and I had similar interests in music. He told me about how he was once supposed to be the new singer for Saigon Kick (pretty clever of me, eh? You know, with the whole name thing! Mr. Saigon… man, I’m good). “Wow!” thought I. I was in the presence of a could-have-been rock star! And look at him now – he’s driving a Dodge Durango out of southeast Austin with the back full of boxes!

We finally made it to College Station. It was there that I learned the secret rock star art of selling really cool speaker equipment. We drove around motor banks trying to lure young men who stop at the ATM to get cash to purchase our wares. Mr. Saigon would say “Hey dude! You wanna buy some awesome speakers for cheap? We’re just getting back from a job and we’ve got five sets of speakers left. If I don’t get rid of ’em, my boss is just going to chuck ’em”.

Mr. Saigon’s first prey politely said no. While driving to the second motor bank I asked about the speakers. I was told that they were cheap pieces of junk and we are to sell them at no less than $200 per set. We drove to every damn bank in College Station that afternoon. We got a nibble by one guy. He even had us follow him to his apartment so he could ask his girlfriend if he could buy the speakers. She could smell our sharkiness. No bite.

Mr. Saigon and I went to Chili’s for a late lunch. He paid for us both. That didn’t entice me to come back the next day.

So what’s the moral of the story? I’m not sure. Although I can tell you to be weary of people who approach you at ATMs and try to sell you something. In the same breath, be in awe because you might be in the presence of someone who could have been Neil Diamond.