Monday, July 30, 2007

Busy... busy... busy... repeat...

This blog was a great idea until I got a job. Now I’m trying not to remember how long it’s been since I last updated it.

So what’s been happening?

I've been working
Turns out that the Business Analyst position is pretty close to being right in line with the work I was doing at my last job, so I’ve been doing a pretty good job getting up to speed on their systems. My health care background has helped help tremendously.

The good news is that I’m now earning an income and we can start saving money instead of living check to check and trying not to dip into our savings so that we have a nice chunk of change to plunk down on a house. The bad news is that this saving period won’t last long because we can also now start looking for that house.

I’ve been at the job 2 weeks now and already there are a pile of projects on my
desk that threaten to become overwhelming. Needless to say, I haven’t had time to
update my blog from work (nor would I, boss). ;-)

We’ve been house hunting.
As mentioned above, we've begun the arduous task of hunting for a house. There are a ton out there, but unfortunately, nothing that remarkable. Sure, the homes are more affordable here, but when you get down to it it's the same as anywhere else. The nice neighborhoods with the good schools are all expensive and the closer you live to the city, the more you're going to get for your house.

A few houses looked promising this past weekend, and it's a good thing because it feels like we've been through about 50 already. One was move-in ready, beautiful, but had a smallish lot and very small backyard. It was also a full brick facade with vinyl siding around the sides and back... which is a peeve of mine since I'm of the opinion that if you're going to do brick, do brick. Siding with some brick accents? Ok. Full brick front with siding? Not so zesty.

The other house was larger, older and sitting on 1.5 acres. Wow, talk about a huge lot. The home was semi-remodeled in an awkward way with a modern full bath downstairs and a country-style kitchen. The rest of the house was original, which was a shame because the master bath was hideous and would have been the first thing we'd re-do before even moving in. The price was a bit high, but it was on the market for 4 months already, so we figured they would be willing to negotiate.

Trouble is, someone else beat us to the punch and put an offer on it today. I'll look back on this in a few months and thank them, I'm sure, for making the decision for us. It would have been a very nice home, but a potential money pit and we don't really need that with a baby on the way.

We can’t decide on a middle name.
We’ve been trying to decide on a middle name for our impending son. There’s a tradition in my family to honor a relative who has passed on and we’ve had a few deaths in the family since our wedding but we can’t decide on any names based on these family members.

There’s a thought to name him after my grandmother on my mother’s side, but I can’t exactly give a girl’s name to my son and still be able to look him square in the face. My mom countered that we could use her Hebrew name only and that she has her uncle’s Hebrew name, but I'd want to somehow anglicanize that name and it probably would come out strange. Now if we were having a girl, I'd have no problem with Rene as a middle name (which is my grandma's name without the "I"... figure it out, win a gold star...)

We saw Harry Potter 5 and The Simpson’s Movie
Both really good. They managed to whittle down The Order Of The Phoenix pretty well to its major points without leaving you totally at a loss for what was going on like in The Goblet Of Fire. Considering that TOOTP was the longest book, the fact that it's also the shortest movie is quite an accomplishment. I'm actually thankful that they took out some of the story lines (S.P.E.W for one), but a bit miffed that they completely ignored the fact that they left out that the Prophecy could have been interpreted to have been for one of Harry's classmates and not Harry. Then again, Neville and the Deathly Hollows just doesn't sound right.

The Simpsons Movie was everything you hoped it would be, but maybe not quite enough at the same time. Great jokes, great gags, all the characters being the most true versions of themselves possible: Bart skating and defying authority, Lisa concerned about the environment, Homer doing completely foolish things over and over and over and Marge trying to keep the family together through all of it. With the exception of a few CG scenes (and some 3D animation similar to the style used in Futurama) the movie was largely exactly what you'd see on TV, just longer and packed with more jokes. The movie even says as much, mocking you - the moviegoer - for having paid good money to sit there and watch it. You can stay until the very end, but there's not much that's rewarding to be seen after the Simpson family gets up and leaves halfway through the credits.

I’ve finished reading Harry Potter 6
Bring on the Deathly Hollows! In The Half-Blood Prince (who wasn't who I thought he was) Rowling obviously learned a lesson from The Order Of The Phoenix and cut the exposition and tangential story lines to the bare minimum required to move the plot forward. It was welcome, as the book was more tightly paced, but at the same time it felt a bit lacking in the rich detail that she has painted in previous books.

People call TOOTP a transitional book, merely existing to set up the final 2 books of the series. In my mind, that distinction belongs to The Half-Blood Prince. Without giving too much away to the 3 people who haven't read it or haven't heard about what happens from a friend or online somewhere, Rowling pretty much makes the final Harry/Voldemort confrontation we're all expecting in the final book possible, plausible, and ever more dangerous than any to come before.

Can't wait to burn through the final book.

The pugs are in Doggie Day Care
Now that we're at work all day, the dogs have had the house to themselves. After eating one of our dining room chairs a while back, we managed to find a gate wide enough to block off that part of the house so they could have the rest and the outside. Unfortunately, the couches are still in their area.

Day 1 on the job and we come home to a house filled with fluff. One of the back cushions had a stain on it so my wife had thrown it into the wash and left the exposed pillow part on the couch. This was apparently the "kill" signal for our pugs and they did a handy job eviscerating it. It's still sitting in the laundry room awaiting triage.

Day 2 passed without any destruction, but with a fair share of fluff in the pup's poop. At least it was passing through them. We looked into "Doggie Day Care" places where we could drop off the dogs in the morning and make sure they weren't tearing up the house, but at $20/day/dog, even with a pre-purchase discount we were still looking at $600+ per month to do this and decided it was too expensive.

Day 3 and they turned their attention on another couch pillow, but this one was a seat cushion, so in addition to the fluff, there was a firm foam core. This core was partially eaten and there was dog vomit on the floor when we got home. Clyde threw up again later in the evening and then again in the morning. Each time, it was only kibble, no foam. So we were worried that he had a blockage from eating the foam and took him to the vet where they kept him under observation, took x-rays and eventually released him back to us once it was clear that things were *ahem* "moving along".

So $550 later we decided that $600/month was a small price to pay compared to possible vet bills for whatever horrible thing they decided to get themselves into next. The pups were pretty freaked out at first, getting pushed into a room with several other dogs all crowding them as the new arrivals, but they've been there for over a week now and seem to be doing well so until we get a house with a good dog solution (read: a room we can close off completely and securely with a dog door to the outside so they can make) we'll just keep them in Day Care.

So... what's new in your life?

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