4 Hours Until Closing…

But who’s keeping track? 🙂 Today should be a very good day, we are buying our house in just over 4 hours. Nothing can wrong at this point, right? I thought I would not be able to sleep last night, but thankfully I was wrong and slept like a rock. I feel good this morning, better than I have felt in a week and energized, ready to tackle the construction and moving. I have a few loose ends to tie off at Workflow.com this morning and will then have until next Wednesday off work to do our stuff.

My dad should be on his way up here from Western Kentucky, tools in hand. Our friend June and her daughter Renee are coming over after work and Saturday to help, and Missy’s brother Josh is also going to come down Saturday to help, presumably with the drywall. All of the cables, wiring and computer stuff I needed did in fact arrive yesterday from CablesForLess and NewEgg. I got the cashiers check for closing, the $100 for Lucille to buy the pool table from her, and Bug and I went to the hardware store to pick out a few last minute things last night. Knowing my access to my computer and Internet will be limited, I already paid all of the upcoming bills and made sure the checkbook was in balance. We had so much time to spare, we even went swimming for 30 minutes last night.

Bug and I also bought a new mailbox and stickers to put our name on it. The mailbox that is at the house now is old and says “Grosse”. Nothing stakes your claim to a place like replacing their mailbox with your own 🙂

I did visit the house yesterday to check on the status of the roof repairs. Something has been done, there was new tar on the roof, but I could not tell if the rotted plywood underneath was actually replaced. I have not yet heard from my realtor about a final walk-through, but at this point it doesn’t matter. If the plywood was not replaced, I will do it myself, I am not that afraid of heights.

We did have a minor scare earlier in the week when I received the final HUD settlement document. The numbers did not seem to add up. In a panic, I emailed our mortgage broker, Jules Stewart at iFreedom Direct, and she immediately called me back. There was actually no problem at all, and we verified this in Excel, just the layout of the form is confusing. She has been absolutely wonderful to work with, THANKS JULES! I highly recommend anyone considering either an FHA or VA mortgage to give her a call (800.891.5785 x6624 or 801.682.9907). Jules is also good for entertaining stories and Zen-like precision and thoughtfulness.

Well, that’s all for now. Missy and I will soon be homeowners and I will be posting updates to the blog as time allows during the construction and move. Kind of like HGTV, but in our own home 🙂

T Minus 24 Hours

We are just a shade over 24 hours now before we are homeowners! Or to look at it another way, deep in debt 🙂 The optimistic me prefers the former, and Missy and I are both very much looking forward to having our own place, a house we can truly turn into OUR home.

We haven’t even closed yet, and we’ve already spent over $2,000 on “stuff” we need, and we are not done yet. Most of this was on construction materials for my office (which I often slip and call my bedroom) and basement foyer, but some is also for paint, pictures, computer networking, tools, and other items needed to truly turn this house into our home, with our own taste, etc. We will start our journey tomorrow afternoon, right after closing.

My dad will arrive tomorrow, construction will start on Friday, and I will post pictures here of our progress. We lost (literally, it disappeared) our new Kodak camera we bought on Woot a while back, but I scored a nice cheap camera from a guy on Craigslist and bought it this morning. Stuff that I ordered online from CablesForLess and NewEgg are supposed to arrive via UPS later today, and UBC will be delivering all the building materials first thing Friday morning. It is going to get real busy here real quick, but I am ready for it and VERY much looking forward to this work.

At the Workflow.com company meeting last week, I discovered my personality type, ESTJ. Translated that means I am Extroverted, Sensing, Thinking, and Judging. I am a guardian, a level-headed, do it right, well planned and on time type of person. Let’s see how well that holds up 🙂 Just to prove the test valid, I have created self-imposed deadlines for the construction:

Day 1 (Friday) – Framing and Electrical. Missy’s uncle Pat is an electrician and is going to stop by Friday after work to hook up our wiring to the service, and of course check my work. So the real deadline for this is actually about 5:30 PM Friday, not midnight 🙂

Day 2 – Hang all drywall and mud.

Day 3 – Sand mud, paint everything, hang ceiling fan and light. Start wood laminate floor installation in free time 🙂

Day 4 – Finish wood laminate floor, paint and install all trim. Have a beer, go to Ho-Chunk with dad, etc.

Day 5 (Tuesday) – This is my last day off work for about 2 weeks. Tie off all loose ends, unpack, organize, complete move, wire the network, etc. In bed by 4:00 PM 🙂

So that’s the plan. Hear God laughing?

PS: Jules Stewart, Jules Stewart, Jules Stewart, Jules Stewart, Jules Stewart, Jules Stewart, Jules Stewart, Jules Stewart, Jules Stewart, Jules Stewart, Jules Stewart, Jules Stewart, Jules Stewart, Jules Stewart, Jules Stewart, Jules Stewart, Jules Stewart, Jules Stewart, Jules Stewart, Jules Stewart, Jules Stewart

51 Hours and Counting

We will be homeowners in 51 hours, but who’s keeping track? 🙂

I made it back from Cleveland, just barely thanks to Continental Airlines. They suck, scaled back so much they had no pilots in Cleveland to fly the plane to Madison and had to fly some in from New York, making me about 4 hours late getting home. After a fun but tiring weekend in Cleveland, I was hardly in the mood for airline delays, but what can you do.

Missy and I purchased almost everything we need to complete the basement construction project yesterday, and will have a huge load of materials delivered by UBC to the house on Friday morning. I had some down-time in Cleveland Sunday waiting for the plane, so I did manage to get all the utilities changed over, or scheduled to be changed.

We are still waiting on the final settlement documents, but were told that they may not be ready until the morning of closing, Thursday. Should be getting real busy here soon, but will be a lot of fun as well. The movers will be here next Monday, so I will be able to concentrate on the office construction with my dad Friday through Monday, which should be enough time.

When I get back to work next Wednesday, it will be major push mode for about 2-3 weeks while a major portion of my code gets certification. Having my new office will make a huge difference I am quite certain, and it will be super nice if we actually get it completed while my dad is here.

Also, don’t drink a huge variety of local microbrewery beers at Rocky River Brewing Company in Cleveland. Don’t ask me how I know, just don’t do it.

One Week and Cleveland To Go

Wow, this has been a busy week. Missy and I have be kid-less all week so you’d think we would be wild’n out, but no, we have used this week to enjoy some quiet time and lazy evenings. On Monday we went out for a nice Anniversary dinner and Tuesday we started packing the basement, but mostly it has been chillin’ out before the upcoming move.

Today marks one week before closing, and everything is still on track. I submitted what I hope is the final document to the mortgage lender today, and will be making a few phone calls this morning. My company agreed to pay for movers if I would cut my time off by 3 days, so I will only have 6 days off to build the office and get moved, but it will be worth it to have others move the bulk of the household contents, including our newly found free piano!

I am off to Cleveland, OH later today for our annual company meeting. Normally I would be looking forward to this trip, the guys I work with are crazy and a lot of fun, but I really just want this trip over. We have a lot to do to get ready for next week, but I suppose making time to throw back some Buds on Packy’s dollar is not a bad idea either. I just wish my company was located in Las Vegas, Miami, New York, or someplace really cool. Cleveland is the taint of the USA, the ABC if you will, you know, the gouch. Detroit takes the cake for being the armpit.

There is definitely an air of optimism and hope around the house, and nobody is really dreading the hard work that is coming up. Just the opposite, we are all looking forward to it. Papaw (my dad) will be arriving next Thursday to help me with the basement construction, and Missy and I have already been to Menards to make the first round of purchases for the house. I suspect before my dad leaves my truck will be able to drive itself between Cross Plains and Menards 🙂

Happy First Anniversary Missy

Happy Anniversary Missy! It was one year ago today that we tied the knot and started our lives together. That is almost hard to believe, the time has gone by so quickly, and it seems like we have already been through a lot in this time.

We have a lot to be proud of and have accomplished a lot in this short time. While we have achieved our financial goals, our biggest accomplishment is the one that we seldom give ourselves credit for, even though we have at times had to work very hard at it. We have built a family, not just merged two of them.

I used to say 3/5 + 2/5 = 1, meaning Delaney, Haley and Me plus Halle and you make a family. It was goofy, I know, but it’s also true. We truly have built a wonderful family out of two. It has not always been easy, and has certainly had its share of ups and downs, but that is true of every family. That is what family is.

We have had a wonderful first year together, but have also been tested with financial strains, a lost job, and a new one that takes a lot of my time and attention. And the most trying of all, the untimely death of Halle’s father. Through the good and the bad, we have gotten closer and stronger.

You are a wonderful step-mom to Delaney and Haley, even when they know exactly what buttons to push. I know that I will never replace Gulli in Halle’s heart and mind, and that is not my place nor desire, but she and I have also grown much closer. I can feel a strong and lasting relationship developing between us, and I love that. I love my role in our family and wouldn’t change a thing.

My life is much better with you and Halle in it. There was a time, not that long ago, that I swore I would never get married again. I was down on marriage and enjoyed just being “me”. You changed all of that. I can still be me, and be a good husband and father, at the same time. You bring that out in me, and I thank you for it. What I once saw as a choice, between a life of being tied down versus a lot more freedom, was never needed. There is no reason to choose when you can have both, and I have both.

You have been a wonderful wife, and I hope I have been a good husband to you as well.

I consider myself a very lucky man, and am looking forward to many more years sharing my life with you, most definitely my better half.

Happy 1st Anniversary Missy, I LOVE YOU!!!

Version Control and Microsoft

I think this may be the first blog entry I have created directly related to my profession, developing computer software. That is somewhat odd, at least to me, but out of all the things that really piss me off, software is always right at the top of the list.

My pet peeve of the day is version control software. Not all version control software, Microsoft version control software. For all that they do right, they just cannot create a decent system for managing multiple versions of source code. First they had Visual SourceSafe, which they bought many years ago from One Tree Software. It sucked when they bought it, and many years later they have hardly enhanced it at all, and it still sucks.

Now they invented Team Foundation Server, to replace SourceSafe. Problem is, it sucks almost as bad as SourceSafe! It loves to give totally meaningless SQL error messages, and has completely lost data on me more than once. My biggest complaint about TFS though is that it is integrated into Visual Studio. I mean, that is the ONLY way to use it, there is no standalone TFS client you can use, you have to use Visual Studio.

SourceSafe has a basic client application you could use, as well as integration with Visual Studio. TFS dropped the client all together. The problem I have with this is that I really, really hate having version control integrated into my development environment. In my opinion, integration with Visual Studio gets in my way. Some developers that have never used a good version control system may think I am crazy, but I know exactly what I am talking about.

In modern version control software, you should not have to “check out” a file to edit it. There should be no locks on files. You should just be able to edit away, working on whatever files you want to, whenever you want to, in the development environment and outside of it, and depend on the version control software to figure out later what you did, and merge your changes, as well as changes made by other developers. That way it does not get in your way. TFS does not work like this.

Now before “real” programmers start screaming at me about CVS and Subversion, save your breath. I am an avid user of Subversion at home, and love the TortoiseSVN shell extension for checking in changes, and managing Subversion and versions of files in general. It does not get in my way, I just check in my changes whenever I feel like it from Windows Explorer, and it always figures out exactly what I did throughout the day and merges my changes perfectly.

It also scales very well. I have many years of source code in my Subversion repository, somewhere around 15GB’s of data, and have worked on large teams that used it as well, and never once had a problem. No corrupted data, no missing files, just pure version controlled bliss. It does what it is designed to do perfectly, and does not hinder a programmer trying to get work done quickly.

And best of all, it is all free. Yes, Subversion and TortoiseSVN are open source software and completely free to use. They are mature, but also actively developed and supported by a large community. The documentation is also quite good, I have installed and configured Subversion many times in my career and never had a problem getting it up and running quickly.

Way back in 92-96 I worked for Microsoft. Even though we had SourceSafe, nobody used it. We used a totally custom built in-house version control system called Source Library Manager, or SLiMe. I was talking to a friend of mine a few days ago that is still a developer at Microsoft and mentioned how bad TFS is, and to my surprise he said “Yeah, it blows chunks. We still use SLM.”. I about dropped a load. After all these years, multiple versions of SourceSafe, and now TFS, Microsoft STILL does not use their own version control software. That alone should tell you more than you need to know.

That is why I am writing this blog entry at 3:47AM. I just spent 5 hours trying to tell TFS to give me a copy of an old file so I could look at it. I finally gave up, TFS lost it. I would have been screwed, but I also check my “real job code” into my home Subversion repository, which brought back the file in about 3 milliseconds. That’s the way source control is supposed to work.

Brett Favre

For those of you not in Wisconsin, you may not realize that something is happening that is tearing us apart. We are bordering on total civil war here, pitting brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor, and Packer fan against Packer fan. Brett Favre wants to come out of retirement and play for the Packers again, or be released from his contract so he can play elsewhere.

The problem is that Aaron Rodgers has already been chosen to replace Favre as the quarterback of the Packers, and we drafted a new kid to eventually take over for Rodgers. The Packers have said they accepted Brett’s retirement and “have moved on”, they don’t have a place for him on the team, unless he wants to be a backup QB. Brett never signed retirement papers and if he wants to come back, the Packers must take him back or release him to play for another team, possibly the Vikings or even the Bears.

Now I can see everyone’s side of this story. The Packers had to make a decision to move the team forward without Brett, and have done just that. Now he wants to come back and there is no room for him on the team. Brett claims that he was forced to make a retirement decision immediately following last season, and takes responsibility for the bad decision to retire early.

Now, for my take on this whole thing, and I think I am in the minority with my choice here as there seems to be a lot of bad blood going around. I say take Brett back, as the starting quarterback, and let him play. I base this on many factors:

  1. Brett deserves it. He was always a solid player, quite possibly the best quarterback that ever played the game.
  2. He is a good guy. This is something seriously lacking in the NFL. He has good morals, is very giving to his community, charities and other civic organizations.
  3. He gave the Packers a Superbowl title.
  4. He is a staple here in Wisconsin. We watched his kids grow up, his wife battle cancer, and the death of his father. He is a much-beloved son of Wisconsin.
  5. He’s a really bad actor, remember “Something About Mary”? We don’t have to worry about him not giving 100% because he is tired from filming a movie.
  6. Aaron Rodgers is a whiny bitch. He is fragile and cannot take a hit. Hell, that would actually be a vote for bringing Brett back as the backup quarterback, Rodgers ain’t gonna make it through the first game without sitting down with a pinky finger injury. Brett plays through broken bones, concussions, etc. Aaron is still young, can learn a lot still from Brett, he just needs to chill out and keep his whiny mouth shut. Dude, I have seen Brett Favre play, Brett is a friend of mine, and Aaron Rodgers, you are no Brett Favre 🙂
  7. Brett has, at best, 3 seasons left in him. The younger quarterbacks can use this time to learn from the master. They should welcome this, not complain about it.
  8. Everyone in Wisconsin loved Brett for many, many years. Do we really want him to leave with all of this bad blood between him and the Packers fans? I don’t.
  9. This one is simple. Who is likely to get the Packers to the Superbowl? Brett, and only Brett. We made it to the final 4 last year. Yeah, I know we lost that game because Brett made a stupid bonehead pass, but give him a break. I mean seriously, the Giants went on to beat possibly the best team ever in football, they deserved it.
  10. Just thinking about how much it would suck to see Brett in a Vikings or Bears uniform makes me want to puke. Seriously, I am thinking about barfing just writing this 🙂

Ok, so I guess that’s my Top 10 List. Everyone screwed up here, we just need to admit that. Brett made a bad choice to retire early. The Packers have to take some responsibility here to since they pressured him to make that decision too soon after the season ended. Brett Favre is a Packer through and through, the best quarterback the NFL has ever seen, he is the Number 1 Adopted Son of Wisconsin, a very good and decent man, a wonderful father and husband.

Regardless of what happens, I will forever be a Packer AND Favre fan. I will remember Brett for the many fine years he gave us, and the great joy he gave me watching him on and off the field, not for how it all ended. If he ends up playing for the Bears or Vikings I will cheer loudly for them, as long as they aren’t playing my Packers 🙂 It will take a long time for Aaron Rodgers to make me believe in him, but I will give him a fair shake too.

Prove me wrong kid, prove that you are ready to take over for a legend. Or better yet, sit your pansy ass down on the bench for another couple of seasons and soak up whatever knowledge you can from the master.

Oh So Very Close….

Whew! There is a huge sign of relief echoing around our household right now. We got the home appraisal back yesterday, and this time we didn’t get screwed! It came back with only $100 to spare, but that is good enough for us. Having that done is like a huge weight has been lifted off us.

Since we are pushing the dates on the contract pretty hard at this point, I called Dave Haack at Haack Homestead and scheduled the inspection for this morning. He had a cancellation so the timing worked out great. I met Dave at 8:30AM since I wanted to be there for the inspection, and also to take a few more measurements for the upcoming basement construction project.

Dave is a super nice guy and appeared to do a very thorough inspection. I debated whether or not I wanted to shell out another $355 for the inspection, but like most people, I sure am glad that I did.

Within 15 minutes he had found a substantial, but easily correctable, problem. Water had gotten under the shingles in the back of the house, over a soffit. The plywood underneath had rotted and was destroyed. Since this is over a soffit, no water got into the house and no interior damage was done. There is extra plywood and shingles in the garage, so a repair should not cost too much, just a little time. We are asking the seller to have this repair made. Her son built the house, so he will likely be the one making the fix.

The other problem Dave found was that the window frames in the basement windows had rotted to the point they are falling apart. These are near the ground and protected from sunlight by tree’s, so in all likelihood snow built up there and the moisture could not evaporate. The windows themselves are fine, just the frames need repaired or replaced. We are also asking the seller to fix this, though even this should not be an expensive repair.

Overall the house is in excellent condition. Even the air conditioner was so clean you could eat off it, no dust or anything. Dave was surprised at that, he thinks the owner must have had yearly maintenance performed on all of the mechanicals because they were so clean and well maintained.

I had found a place in the vinyl siding where there was a hole and had planned to fix it myself. I was pleased to locate several long sections of siding still in the home, so making a near perfect match will be easy. Dave even mentioned that I should take an existing piece from a not-so-visible place on the house and use it to replace the broken piece, and then put the new piece where the old one was. The older aged piece will match exactly. After he said it, it made perfect sense, but I had not thought about that before.

So, back in the basement I figured out that my original plan for my office didn’t work, the placement of the door just would not go where I planned it. That is no biggie, I already had a backup plan in mind, so will have to go with that. On the plus side, there is more already framed and insulated than I had planned, so there will be even less materials that I have to buy.

iFreedom Direct’s underwriter only came back with 2 conditions for final loan approval. The first was some document that we signed but was missing, they are getting that from our Realtor. The second is proof of funds for closing. Nobody yet knows the real final closing costs, but are hoping to be able to calculate that pretty accurately in the next day or two so that we can submit our proof of funds for closing and get this baby sealed up.

It really looks like this is going to happen! I cannot say enough nice things about our mortgage broker, Jules Stewart at iFreedom Direct. She has been absolutely wonderful to work with. She’s professional when she needs to be, and friendly and goofy at times when things get crazy. She always calls me when she says she will, and often times when she doesn’t. She responds quickly to her emails and actually answers her phone when I call her. I highly recommend anyone considering either an FHA or VA mortgage to give her a call (800.891.5785 x6624 or 801.682.9907).

She is like the Anti-Jon Barca at RLCA. As crappy as he is, she is that on the good side. Ok, bashing of RLCA, Jon Barca, and Lynette Richter is done. Poof, you are out of my life 🙂

An Oil Man That I Like

Happy real Birthday Lisa!!

I’ve been seeing T. Boone Pickens a lot on TV lately talking about his plan to reduce or eliminate our dependency on foreign oil. I watched the video on his web site and he certainly makes some very valid points about why we need to do this, and while his plan seems overly simplistic and incomplete, it is a start. Read more about it at http://www.pickensplan.com. It is time to get serious about this folks, we’ve got to figure out a way to tell OPEC to go to hell.

Did you know that the USA has 4% of the world population, but uses almost 25% of the oil? Do you know we send $700 billion per year to Arab and other oil producing countries? This is the largest transfer of wealth in world history, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that we are not transferring this money to friends of the United States. The nations that receive this money are either outright enemies of the US, or at best, nations that maintain neutrality with us because of oil and other economic reasons. They are not our friends, they do not like us, they only like our money, and we need their oil. Wouldn’t it be nice to have all those oil ships from Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Venezuela show up to one of our ports one day and be able to say “Nah, not today boys, go home”. That would be a great day.

Hell Week is over, Missy an I have made it through an entire week without smoking! Heck Week starts today, but I am not too concerned about that. The appraisal is going to happen today too, though we won’t know the result until the middle of next week. I’ve thought about going over to the house today to see how interested the appraiser would be in a free tank of gas 🙂

Happy Birthday Lisa!!!

Happy Birthday Lisa!!!
I am publishing this blog entry a day early because I want to be the first to officially welcome my sister Lisa to her LATE 30’S!!! Yep, no more mid-30’s, you have now crossed into late-30’s and will soon join me in the “pushing 40” crowd!

We all love you and hope you have a relaxing and wonderful birthday! Statistically, you are now mid-life 🙂 Welcome to the 2nd half!!! Damn I’m cruel 🙂 🙂