No, I’m not going to write about the so-called “War on Christmas” which some people think is going on. Quite frankly I find the whole argument ridiculous. People have been saying “happy holidays” for years and I’m sure that even when I was in elementary school in the 70s, we had “winter break” not “Christmas break.” What I am going to write about is the beginning of my many Christmas celebrations this year. Today, Mel and I are going to her grandmother’s house for a Christmas celebration. We don’t even have all of the wedding presents put away yet and we’ll be getting even more today. At least, thanks to drawing names as for whom to buy presents for, we each just get one thing. Then tomorrow afternoon, Mel’s friend from Ohio will be visiting. That should be fun.
Friday at work my department had its holiday party. We went bowling, which was a lot of fun. All of the math content specialists, including me, kind of kept to ourselves. Most of the other people in our specific area were unable to attend. They claimed to have too much work to get done. I guess that makes us one of three things:
1. People who like to have fun,
2. Very efficient in getting our work done, or
3. A bunch of slackers.
Personally, I’ll vote for numbers 1 and 2. Anyway, I bowled a 134 my first game and my scores went downhill from there. I took bowling in college as part of my Personal Wellness class, so I thought I should do better but I guess I didn’t remember enough of the skills I learned in the class to become a more skillful bowler. I didn’t even break 100 in two of the five games.
Mel and I had some fun last night. My friend Bill and his son came over. Bill needed to return to me a DVD that he had borrowed, Star Wars Clone Wars Volume 1. They stayed a while and we played UNO Attack. That was fun. I hadn’t seen Bill in a while. He was in our wedding, but I haven’t had the chance to really hang out with him otherwise in a couple months.
Well, I suppose I should finish getting ready to go to Mel’s grandmother’s house. Merry Christmas!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
All I know is I sure didn't do it. I spent much of the weekend preparing to paint and painting the bathroom. I got it done last night. I finish cleaning the room and I need to put all of the towel bars back up tonight.
Mel has said that she doesn't like wallpaper, and I am beginning to agree with her. I had planned on getting the wallpaper down early this morning, priming the wall, and then getting the first coat of paint on the wall by early afternoon. Hopefully I'll at least be able to get the priming done this afternoon. I'd like to finish the whole job today since we are going out of town tomorrow, but I don't see that happening.
One of the problems I'm having with revising my website is deciding what I want it to look like. I spent a good hour last night thinking about fonts and colors. I also had to get a better paint program that I had on my computer. Fortunately I found a freeware one that seems to be doing the job. It's called Ultimate Paint. I haven't had any problems with it yet. Hopefully it does the job.
Once I figured out the general style for the website, I had to think about content. I think I may take the approach that "less is more." Previously I have included a lot of information on my website that probably wasn't much interest to anyone but myself. Ok, the whole site is probably like that, but who wants a list of websites I like. If they wanted to see them, they could find them their selves.
Well, if I want to get the site done, I better get back to work on it.
With all of this traveling for work, my diet has taken quite a hit. I have managed not to gain too many pounds. I'm still slightly lighter than where I was when I began the diet a few weeks ago. Thursday, once I am back from my latest trip to Minnesota, I will more strictly monitor what I eat once again.
Last night Mel and I decided to go to a movie since we hadn't seen one in a while. We saw A History of Violence. It was a good movie, although the end left me wanting a bit more. This was probably the first R-rated movie we had gone to in the theaters for quite some time. It was also the first R-rated movie that I have ever been carded before seeing. I've been old enough to attend R-rated movies for almost half of my life now as I am turning 33 later this month. I suppose I should take it as a complement that the person selling me the ticket wanted to make sure I was 17, but it's not like I was buying cigarettes or alcohol where there would be legal implications if I were allowed to see the movie if I were too young. It wasn't really a big deal though, I just found it somewhat amusing.
Anyway, after the movie, Mel and I went to Chili's for dinner. As we pulled into the parking lot we saw a stretch limo and several teenagers all dressed up. We then realized that there must of been a homecoming dance that evening. We were still seated pretty quickly. While we were waiting for out food, Mel noticed that a girl at the table behind me had a beer! Now this girl was obviously not 21. Perhaps the people at Chili's should take a cue from the people at the theater and ID people regardless of how old the appear.
This weekend I had the chance to hang out with my friend Bill. I hadn’t seen him for quite some time. He has a nine-year-old son who is usually with him whenever we get together, but he wasn’t along today. It was nice to have some time for just the adults. After running a couple of errands that I needed to get done, Bill and I went downtown and played some pool and darts. As Homercles can attest, I’m not that great at pool, and my skills at darts are lacking some, but we still had a great time. I hope I get the chance to hang out with Bill more often than once every couple of months.
Sunday was an exciting day for me. Okay, exciting is probably a bit of an exaggeration, but something fun happened to me. One of my hobbies is tracking where my money travels using the website Where’s George? Well on Sunday I had a one dollar bill turn up outside the United States for the first time. Three years and eleven days after I first entered the one dollar bill, it turned up in Ramstein, Germany! I wonder if that bill will be reentered.
I also had a chance to ready my father’s autopsy report yesterday. It really wasn’t that hard to read as it was written in such a matter-of-fact scientific manner. It confirmed that he died from a heart attack due to partially blocked arteries. What was interesting to find out was that he had previously had a heart attack. My mother did not know that either and possibly neither did my dad. I suppose it could have been something very minor that he didn’t attribute to a heart attack. Also, I learned that his heart was quite large. It weighed 600 grams, compared to the average weight of 350 grams. I’m not sure what the cause of this is, but I will be sure to mention it to my doctor the next time I go in for a routine physical, which Mel wants me to do soon.
Now a brief report about the cat: I took Ike to the vet yesterday morning. He has a urinary tract infection and is obese. We have put him on a measured amount of dietary cat food and have to give him an antibiotic twice a day. Hopefully this helps him out.
Yesterday morning we went to church. Except for the baptism, the two weddings, and the funeral we were at this summer, we haven't gone to church since moving to Cedar Rapids in June. We went to church we are getting married at in Waterloo. We had to meet with the pastor and the most convenient time we could come up with was after church. The meeting wasn't as painful as I thought it would be. I really had no idea what to expect, but I thought he'd be asking us a lot of personal questions. It wasn't that bad. He seemed like a pretty nice guy. We have to go back in about a month or so to see him again, then we'll be all ready to get married.
Now I have another problem. Our cat had been peeing on the carpet in two different places in the basement. Well, I thought he had stopped, but about ten minutes ago, he peed on the video tape rack while I was watching! I guess we had better take him to the vet to see if there is a problem that we can fix easily. I hope we can stop this behavior, because we can't allow it to continue
The rest of the weekend wasn’t too exciting. I finished painting the foyer of our house red. I need to touch up a little with white paint, but first I need to find a tall ladder. We also returned one of our fish to the pet store today. I found it dead at the bottom of the aquarium yesterday morning when I was exchanging some water. We didn’t replace it yet since there was something wrong with our water sample. The ammonia level was at lethal levels for fish. Now the rest of our fish were doing just fine, but just to be safe, we are waiting to replace the fish until we take in another water sample.
Before we left for St. Jude’s last night, I wondered if I would run into any of my former students there. I taught sixth grade for one year on the west side of Cedar Rapids a few years ago, and it was likely that some of my former students would be there. I only saw two students of mine. One of them saw and recognized me. I recognized him as well, but I could not remember his name. His appearance had changed significantly from the end of sixth grade to the end of eighth. I recognized one other student there as well. Since leaving teaching, I have only run into three of my former students now.
On that note however, my fiancée ran into a former student of mine at work. One day at work, one of Mel’s coworkers was wearing a sweatshirt from a school that I taught at for three years. And she mentioned that her fiancé used to teach there. After identifying who I was, she found out that I had had her coworker as a student. The student confessed to Mel that she and the rest of the class thought I would never get married. I guess they thought I was a bit too geeky to ever find the right woman.
This weekend, Mel and I are going to Waterloo. Hopefully I can help my mother get some things taken care of around the house that she needs to get done. She wants to get the inventory from my dad’s business sold, so she can get the money for it, and to help clean up the place. I hope I can help with that.
Well, I better be off to bed as I have a dentist appointment at 6:00 tomorrow morning.
I was out of town for a week in July. I rode by bike on my sixth RAGBRAI. I wish I could say that I rode the entire thing, but I skipped one day. Sunday night as we were camping in Sheldon, a big storm came through. During the strong winds, my tent began to collapse in on me, so right when the rain began to intensify I fled my tent for the relative safety of our team bus. Of course, when I left the tent, I was no longer in it to hold it down and it quickly started to blow away. Fortunately there was a fence right next to it, so it didn’t go very far. Everything in the tent however was soaked. I didn’t ride my bike on Monday so I would have a chance to dry out my things. I did ride my bike the rest of the way across the state though. After my father passed away in June, I thought about not riding on RAGBRAI as it was something that the two of us did together the past five years, but I decided that it was something that I needed to do. My dad had bought a new bike in March, so I decided to ride it on RAGBRAI instead of my own bike. It is a really nice bike. Perhaps it helped to make the ride easier.
Friday evening, Mel and I went out to dinner with our good friend Homercles. We went to the Irish Democrat Pub & Grille in Cedar Rapids. I had only been there once before, but it was good then, so I thought we should try it again. It didn’t disappoint. The food was terrific. The only problem was that we had quite a wait, but it was worth it.
This past weekend, Mel and I went to the wedding of a friend on Saturday. Then on Sunday we drove to Ankeny for Mel’s nephew’s baptism. We had a really busy weekend. I am looking forward to a weekend where we don’t have to go anywhere. Unfortunately this won’t be the weekend. This Saturday we will be going to Waterloo so Mel can offer support to a friend of hers who is planning on getting a tattoo. Mel is thinking that she is going to get another one herself as well. That’s fine with me. The tattoos she has are tasteful and this one should be too. I keep thinking about getting a tattoo as well, but I don’t think I would ever actually go through with it.
Now that I have returned to the world of blogging, I hope to keep it up.
I've been home alone the past couple of days. Mel went to her sister's house in Ankeny to help with a garage sale and to spend some time with her niece and nephews. She should be returning within an hour or so. Thursday night, I took Homercles out to dinner for his birthday which was yesterday. Several years ago we started the tradition of taking each other out to dinner for our birthdays. It gives us a chance to get together and to eat out. We also went to see War of the Worlds. It was a good movie, but there was one part that made Homercles and I feel a bit cheated.
I was able to get out for a bike ride today. I rode a little over 22 miles. I would have continued further, but my rear tire was not properly inflated so I was worried about damaging the wheel. Also, I just didn't feel safe taking tight corners. The rear of my bike was skidding because of the low pressure. I've been worried about getting in good enough shape for RAGBRAI, but I think I will manage just fine.
Tonight Mel and I are going to meet my mother and my grandparents for dinner. This is the weekend that the American Legion has their steak fry in my grandparents' town. It should be a good dinner. Hopefully the guys grilling the steaks cook them properly. They aren't very consistent when it comes to how well done they cook them.
This weekend, my fiancee and I are going on a trip to Omaha. We're leaving once I get home from work. We are planning on going to the Henry Doorly Zoo and doing some shopping. I've been to the zoo a few times. I don't remember when I was there last, but it was probably around twenty years ago. My grandparents used to live in Council Bluffs and I did my student teaching there, so I also plan on giving Mel a tour of the places I know in Council Bluffs. I'm not sure how exciting that will be, but we'll probably end the tour at one of the casinos there.
The drive up here was pretty uneventful. I left Waterloo around 7:00 this evening. I had been there helping my mother out with writing thank you notes for all of the flowers and memorials that we received for my father's funeral. It wasn't until I got to Bloomington that I began to worry. The exit that MapQuest gave me for the hotel was closed. The detour was well marked, up to a point. I ended up driving around in a big circle, delaying my arrival to the hotel by about twenty minutes, but I eventually found it.
Tomorrow I have my first work meeting with clients. There will be someone with much more experience with the company who will take the lead. I hope to learn a lot from this experience. I actually think that this meeting may be somewhat fun. I hope I am not disappointed.
I guess I had better finish my $1.25 can of Diet Pepsi so I can get some sleep.
Next week I get to take my first business trip. I’ll be in the Twin Cities at the beginning of the week. It’s nice that I don’t have to be gone for the entire week. Also, since my sister lives in the Cities, we’re planning on getting together for dinner one night while I’m there. I’m not sure really what to expect from this trip. Of course I know the basics of what we’ll be doing, but I have no idea exactly what is going to happen. I guess my experiences of last week have shown me that one never knows what lies ahead. It sounds like I may have quite a bit of work to do in the evenings after meeting with those we are meeting with. Hopefully I still have time though to relax some each evening. Well I’d better finish getting ready for work now.
Around 4:00 in the afternoon on Sunday, June 12, I received a frantic phone call from my mother. She was screaming, “Help! Help!” into the phone and I also thought I heard her say, “He’s dead!” but I couldn’t tell for certain. I was afraid that she has been in a car accident and was in a ditch somewhere. It was then that a man took the phone from her and, after asking who I was, informed me that my father had passed away. I was in complete shock! He had turned 60 just six days before that and, while he did take medication for his blood pressure, he was fairly healthy. For goodness sake, he had ridden his bike on the last 14 or 15 RAGBRAIs! As soon as I got off the phone, my fiancée Mel asked what was going on. She was no doubt scared by my tone of voice and by the look on my face. When I told her, she couldn’t believe it. We threw a bunch of clothes into some bags and headed out from our home in Cedar Rapids to my parents’ house in Waterloo.
During what had to be the longest ride in my life, I called my uncle in Chicago, to give him the bad news. He had a hard time as well believing that his father was dead. He took care of calling others. When we arrived at the house, one of the pastors from church was there with Mom. A few hours later, my sister arrived from the Twin Cities, being driven by my cousin’s husband, John. People kept dropping in all evening. I don’t think anyone in the house slept well that night. Mom couldn’t sleep in her own bed as that was where she found my father after his apparent unexpected heart attack.
On Monday, Mel, my sister, my mother, her sister, and I went to the funeral home to make the arrangements. I thought is would be more difficult, but the hardest part of the three hours that we spent there was being left alone in the room with the caskets. It was then that my mother, my sister, and I finally broke down. We did get through that however.
I thought that I did pretty well on Monday, but I Tuesday, I was just a mess! I just couldn’t keep it together. My mother, on the other hand, did much better. My father, a retired music educator, was well known in the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area, as well as in certain circles throughout the state of Iowa as he was in so many organizations; I think we counted 22 organizations when were trying to figure out what to include in the obituary. Because of this, the Waterloo Courier ran an article about him. It included quotes from many music teachers in the area. However, both the article and the death notice had an incorrect time for Thursday’s funeral. We eventually got it corrected.
The visitation Wednesday evening was a lot easier than I thought it would be. The only real difficult time was when we first arrived and we saw my father lying there in the casket. One of the things that made the evening go fairly easily that I was constantly talking to people. We didn’t count all of the names in the guest registry, but there had to be close to 400 people who showed up.
Thursday morning’s funeral was quite beautiful. In the almost-full church, a string quartet made up from local musicians performed. The church choir, with a few ringers from other choirs sang. The part that really got to me though was the performance of the bell choir. My dad had directed the bell choir the past year. Instead of having someone conduct, they draped the director’s stand in black and placed a baton on it. The pastor had a very beautiful sermon that was quite uplifting. The funeral procession on the way to the cemetery was quite long. It was really good to see how many people loved and cared about my father.
The rest of the week was time to get to work. My dad had recently started painting the house. He had just one short wall done, as well as the shed. So, since we had numerous family members there, we used the free labor to get the house painted. We got primer and one coat of paint on most of the house. My mom may see about getting people from church to help out with the remainder of the painting. I may be able to help out next weekend. I’ll probably have to go up there to help my mother with thank you notes for the flowers and memorial gifts we received. We spend an hour opening cards Saturday night and we were only half done.
It’s time for me to finish getting ready for work. Life has to go on, and from realizing how active my father was in life and since we never do know just how much time we have left, I don’t want to waste one minute of it!
Now I have three days before I start my new job. My fiancee and I are going to meet a friend of her for dinner at Fazoli's. I better try to get something healthy to eat since I've gained several pounds in the period of time that we've been staying with my parents. I'm not sure if it's because my parents cook more food or if the food isn't as healthy as what we often cook. Of course, it could be from all the candy that I've eaten in the car on trips between Waterloo and Cedar Rapids every weekend. Another reason that I'm watching what I'm eating for dinner is that I'm meeting Homercles for lunch tomorrow at a buffet. I plan on eating quite a bit then. This weekend my fiancee and I have a wedding to go to, then I am really going to start watching what I eat again. At least I'm still at least 20 pounds lighter than I was at the beginning of last summer.
In addition to watching what I'm eating, I'm going to get back into exercising regularly. I just got off the phone with the bike shop where I took my bike for a tune up and it is done. So on Sunday I hope to go out for a lengthy bike ride. It will be my first bike ride of the year, and it's none too soon as RAGBRAI begins six weeks from Sunday. Hopefully the weather is nice on Sunday, but I may still go out for a bike ride if it's just raining lightly. I'll probably end up riding in the rain on RAGBRAI anyway.
With today being the last day of school, I am getting a bit sad. While I am glad to be finished with my poorly-behaved algebra classes, I am going to miss some things about teaching, mostly the students who love to learn. Yesterday however, I remembered one more thing that I will definitely not miss about teaching -- the lack of air conditioning! If I ever decide to return to teaching, I am definitely going to find a school that has air conditioning. Well, that wouldn't be too big of a deciding factor, but it would be nice to be able to teach in relative comfort and to not have students complaining all day long about how hot it is. What do they expect me to do about it? I can't control the weather.
The neighbor across the street is single and he has two sons, one of whom was home last night. The other neighbors we were hanging out with live around the corner from us. They live across the street from our next door neighbor, who is the father of the woman of the couple. They have a son who just turned six yesterday and they invited us over this evening for his birthday party. This seems like a very nice neighborhood that we moved in to. In the year and a half that I lived in my house in Waterloo, I spoke with the neighbors a few times but I never really got to know them.
This evening my fiancee and I, as well as my mother, went to my aunt and uncle's house in Hudson for dinner. My cousin, his wife, and their eighteen-month-old son are here on vacation for a few weeks from Germany where they live. It was good to see them once again as I only get to see them at Christmas and perhaps one other time during the year. We had a really good, big turkey dinner. It almost felt like Thanksgiving. Fortunately, I exercised some restraint and did not stuff myself.
Your Deadly Sins
Chance You'll Go to Hell: 23%
You will die with your hand down your underwear, watching Star Trek.
This weekend is going to be very busy. My fiancee, Mel, and I have a few graduation parties to go to. At least they are all in the Cedar Rapids area. We have one tomorrow night for Mel's cousin. Her graduation is tonight, but I don't think we'll be able to make it to the ceremony. Mel's coworkers are throwing her a going-away party after she gets off work today. So, I don't know when we'll make it to C.R. After tomorrow's graduation party, Mel's parents are going to stop by to see our house since they haven't seen it yet. Then we're planning on meeting some friends for dinner.
We have a graduation party for two people to go two on Sunday. They are for children of a friend of Mel. One of them is graduating from college and the other from high school. On top of all of this, I want to finish painting the master bathroom in our house and put together the cabinet we bought for that same bathroom.
Now, after talking with my calculus students, I feel that I am being singled out for some reason. They are telling me that in another of their AP classes, they are watching a Star Wars movie. I can't figure out how this is remotely related to the content of the class in question. While I know that this happens frequently, showing a movie of this type to a group, that has no relevance to the curriculum, violates copyright laws. To make me even more upset about this is that the students tell me that the movie they are watching is Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith! This means that the teacher is not only showing a movie that has nothing to do with his or her class, but that he or she is showing a pirated movie! I imagine that if this teacher gets caught, there will be hell to pay. So today, I will continue to show The Standard Deviants: Calculus Part 2. While most of the class isn't paying attention, I am at least showing something relevant to my curriculum!
For all other students, there are nine days of school remaining. We were supposed to be finished on June 2, but we have four snow days to make up. While they were nice at the time, I am really regretting having those weather-related cancellations. If we ended school on time, I would have a whole week off before I start my new job. As it is now, I'll just have a three-day weekend. I would have pushed back my start date, but as I was offered the position in January of February, they already waited a while for me to begin. Besides, if I waited another week to begin, I'd have one less week of getting paid from two jobs.
Yesterday afternoon we had our final faculty meeting of the school year. Much of it was spent talking about technology improvements for next year. I guess our student information system isn't adequate, so the school district is going to look into a web-based application to allow teachers and others to access necessary student information more easily. This will probably also allow parents to access student grades online throughout the school year. They won't have to wait until the end of a grading period anymore. I think that this will be a big benefit for parents, students, and teachers. This will really aid with parent communication. This is actually something that I would like to be involved in implementing. Of course I am leaving teaching, so I will not be a part of this. I know I will miss some aspects of teaching, so the end of this school year is somewhat bittersweet, but I'm sure I will enjoy my new career. Besides, there isn't anything keeping me from returning to teaching in the future if I should decide to do so.
Another, non-political, comment that I have about Revenge of the Sith is that while the lightsaber may be "an elegant weapon for a more civilized age," it is really quite good at removing any appendages that may be causing one trouble. I don't know how elegant it is to cut off someone's hands, arms, legs, or whatever other body part one may want to remove, but the lightsaber certainly does the trick.
Just after midnight, the theater lights began to dim, and we were “treated” to twenty minutes of commercials and previews. I really don’t mind the trailers for upcoming movies, but I didn’t pay eight dollars a ticket to watch commercials for Coca-Cola or to see Wayne Brady tell me how to diet healthfully. Around 12:20, the movie finally began.
It started out pretty good. George Lucas definitely didn’t waste any time getting right into the action, but I felt that there was just way too much humor in the first twenty minutes of the show. My fiancée didn’t think it was over done, but I could have done with fewer comedic moments courtesy of R2-D2 and an assortment of other droids.
As the movie progressed, it got much better. The comedy went away entirely, and the darker side of Star Wars finally came out. There were some moments that were truly disturbing. I could have done without some of the implied violence. Thankfully Lucas decided not to show the complete extent of the attacks on the Jedi.
I feel that Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith really tied the two trilogies together. The events leading up to the “birth” of Darth Vader was awesome and the movie did have quite a few terrific battle scenes. I think I may end up seeing it a few more times while it is in theaters. My mother would like to see it and so would Homercles.
This weekend is not going to be so good. My fiancee has to work both Saturday and Sunday, so she is staying in Waterloo for the weekend. I am still going to our Cedar Rapids house tomorrow morning however as the cable guy is coming to hook up the digital cable and the high-speed internet. It will be nice to have television to watch once again on the weekends. We've been limited to just watching things that we have on DVD for the past few weekends. Also, I have to check on the cat. My good friend Homercles has been feeding him a couple of times during the week while we've been gone, but the cat does not like strangers, so I will have to comfort him, reassuring him that we'll be back. I just hope the cat isn't too traumatized from being left home alone all week.
Tonight is the two-hour series finale of Star Trek: Enterprise. At first I wasn't too impressed with the program, but lately it has been getting better. I kind of wish that it could hang on for just one more season, but alas, tonight is the end. Of course, I could always get them on DVD as season one was just released. It would be a lot less expensive than it was to buy all seven seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as there are far fewer episodes of Enterprise. I think I'll probably pass on that however.
Well, I had better be off to work. I have just 17 more days of school after today. There are 18 more days, but I'm taking a personal day on Thursday. I hope everyone has a lucky Friday the thirteenth!
Now I have just 22 days of school remaining, and the last day of school can not come fast enough. I have enjoyed teaching at times, but I am just so tired of the students who do absolutely nothing! When I was in school, I truly had a love of learning. Perhaps I was just strange in that sense. It's the students who enjoy learning who do make teaching a great job.
American Cities That Best Fit You:
I just got done taking this quiz on which American cities best fit me. I indicated that I would like to live somewhere where it's sunny and warm. There were several other qualities that I indicated that I'd like as well. Anyway, what is really ironic about the cities that came up is that the new job that I am going to begin next month could have been located in Austin, Texas, instead of Iowa City. Now I actually did consider Austin as a place to move to after I interviewed for this job, but my fiancee has indicated that she doesn't want to live in Texas. She says she went to Texas once, but she didn't like it. I actually lived in Texas once as well -- in the Houston area -- and I couldn't move back fact enough, but the reasons for my moving back have absolutely nothing to do with the state as a whole. Besides, Texas is a very large state. Austin is probably very different from either Houston, or Dallas, where my fiancee visited. Maybe some day, if we get tired of the cold, snowy Iowa winters, we'll move somewhere warmer.
Currently my housing situation is rather interesting. I am closing on the sale of my house this Friday, so we moved everything out of the house this weekend. Since I am still working in Waterloo, and my fiancee is still working in Charles City, we are staying at my parents' house in Waterloo until the end of the school year. Now we've only been here one night so far, but as far as I'm concerned everything is going fine so far. I haven't heard any major complaints from my fiancee. I'm sure she doesn't particularly care for staying at my parents' house for over a month, except for the weekends, which we'll still be spending at our new house in Cedar Rapids. Hopefully my parents don't drive us to crazy.
Now I recognized this for what is was right away. I was sure that they were going to try to sell us something, and that they did. We, along with three other couples, sat through an hour and a half long sales pitch for Royal Prestige cookware. After informing us how the cookware we have in our cupboards is going to kill us – one thing he told us was that Teflon releases poisonous gasses at high temperatures and that aluminum from aluminum pans gets into our food and then when we eat it, it doesn’t leave our bodies – he showed us their line of “Health Systems” cookware. This cookware is made of surgical grade stainless steel. He also cooked some chicken and vegetables for us. They turned out great with little effort. These looked great pieces of cookware, but when he showed us the low price of slightly over $1800 for the seven-piece set, we decided to pass. Now this set of cookware has a 50-year warranty. He told us how we would save money by not having to replace our inexpensive cookware when it wears out, since this will last a lifetime, but that didn’t convince us.
I went to the midnight showing opening night when Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones came out and it was a lot of fun. It was more fun than it would have been to see it at another time. One thing that I am doing differently this time is taking the next day off from work. I put in a request for a personal day for May 19 at the beginning of the school year as personal days are hard to get toward the end of the year.
When I got home from work, I had to get started on packing. However I didn’t have all evening to do that. Mel and I had tickets to see “Miss Saigon” at the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center on the University of Northern Iowa campus. It was a good show. It had been a while since I had seen a musical. We both had a good time, even if I was getting tired by intermission.
Now I am up early once again because the bell choir is performing at church this morning, and as I am in the bell choir, I kind of have to be there. This will however be my last performance with the bell choir since Mel and I may be spending weekends after today at our new house in Cedar Rapids working on getting it painted and on unpacking. I’ll miss playing in the bell choir, but it will be nice to not have to worry about Wednesday night rehearsals any more.
In other news, my fiancée has a preliminary job interview today. It’s with a company which will soon begin operations in Cedar Rapids. I hope she is able to get a job there so we can get moved to Cedar Rapids as soon as possible after taking possession of the house. I really don’t want to be living here while most of our furniture and belongings are in our new house. Of course, the daily commute from Cedar Rapids to Waterloo isn’t going to be cheap considering current gas prices. Fortunately, I have a fuel-efficient car.
I did get some news about my house yesterday. My realtor brought a contractor over to write an estimate on what it will cost to fix the radon problem that I have. The estimate was better than I thought it would be. On the high end, it should cost about $1,100, which is still a lot of money. With that expense, I probably won’t be earning any money on the sale of my house, unless I get an offer for my full asking price, but that’s alright. Right now I just want to get this house sold!
Back to the topic of my house, Jasper the cat is still having problems with urinating where he shouldn’t be doing so. We were about to take him to the animal shelter to get rid of him last night, but first we called the vet to see how long it should take for the medication we are giving him to have its desired effect. He said it could take four to six weeks, so Jasper got a reprieve from being sent away.
My house still hasn’t sold, and there hasn’t been any activity this week. We should be having an open house on Sunday. Maybe that will generate some additional interest. Meanwhile, we are going to go ahead with the purchase of the house in Cedar Rapids. We close on that sale two weeks from today. I’m a little nervous, to say the least, about the possibility of having two houses to make payments on at the same time. However, once we move our stuff out in two weeks, we’ll be able to get the carpet professionally cleaned and we won’t have to worry about Jasper peeing on it anymore.
This afternoon and tonight, as well as tomorrow, I have parent-teacher conferences to attend. Normally I don’t care for conferences. Sure, it’s nice to talk with the parents of some of my students, but too often I don’t know what to day besides what their child’s grade is. This time however is different as this is the last time in the foreseeable future that I will be at a school conference, at least from the teacher’s side of the desk.
We have considered going through with the house purchase even if this house isn’t sold. Mel has enough money left over from her tax refund to cover a little over one month’s payment and when I start my new job in June, I’ll still be getting paid from teaching through August, so I will have two and a half months in which I am getting almost double my current income. Also, I am getting a signing bonus for my new job, part of which we are using to hire a moving company. We should be just fine as long as the house sells by August, and Mel finds a job since we’ll have this extra money. However, I really don’t want to use it for that purpose. Most of the extra money I’ll be spending on payments on my current house will just be lost, as such a small percentage of it goes towards the principal.
Anyway, one of my fiancée’s cats has had a problem with peeing on the carpet in the living room. Before we left for vacation, the vet gave us a device that looks similar to a scented-oil plug in that emits an odor that only the cats can smell. It’s supposed to keep them from marking on the walls and carpet. It worked while we were gone and for a couple days once we returned, but the cat has returned to doing his thing. Now we have anti-anxiety medication that we are giving the cat. It is not easy to give a pill to a cat! After two failed attempts, we decided to crush up the pill, put it in water, and then inject it into his mouth with a syringe. Hopefully he’s getting enough of the medication for it to do some good. We haven’t had any problems with him since we got back from vacation with the exception of the one time I previously mentioned, so maybe he’s getting better.
When I left for vacation, I had received an offer for my house and the prospective buyer had accepted my counter offer pending an inspection. Well, it turned out that there were several problems with the house according to his inspector. A lot of what he complained about would be expected in a house that is nearly 50 years old! It seems like this guy wants a perfect, brand new house for under $100,000! Well, nearly a week after the offer, the offer was withdrawn as I would not give in to all of his demands.
On Friday I learned about another offer. Since I was out of the area, we were countering based on what I told my realtor verbally over the phone. I was not about to get anything signed. Well, we seemed to reach an agreement, but they wanted a night to think it over. After sleeping on it, the new prospective buyer backed out. Damn it!
Now, my fiancée and I have an offer pending on a house in Cedar Rapids. We have already started the loan processing and title search which will cost us money even if we don’t go through with the purchase. Plus, we also had an inspection done on the house. Incidentally, it wasn’t perfect, but we weren’t expecting a perfect house. We now have less than two weeks before we have to let the seller know if we will be unable to complete the purchase. I really hope an offer comes in on my house soon. I just want to get rid of it now!
Yesterday we looked at some open houses in Cedar Rapids since we have to be out of our current house by April 15. We found one that we both really liked. It even comes with a stove and refrigerator that are practically new. The oven hasn't even been used. Upon opening the oven, I noticed that the owner's manual and the broiler rack were both still attached to a rack with plastic straps! The guy selling it is a single man who lived there about one year before his employer relocated him. He's really motivated to sell, asking less than what he paid for it. That does make me worry a little. We will definitely have the house inspected to look for any potential problems. However, we are planning on making an offer on it tonight.