Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Columbia Heights Day

I am working on the Columbia Heights Day planning committee, which has been taking up a decent amount of time in the last month or so. At least it's a good an excuse as any to blame for my utter lack of posting lately. So in the absence of a thought-provoking or entertaining post (that requires 10 minutes that I don't have to think) I thought I would plug it here in this time of no posting.

This is the 2nd year of the event, which is this coming Saturday, October 4. I think it's going to be a lot of fun. About a dozen volunteers have been working tirelessly since April on planning the event. Well, a couple in particular (Allison, Serge) have been working tirelessly. The rest of us have been doing what we can in our spare time and making lots of bad jokes to keep the tireless workers entertained or annoyed at the meetings.

Anyway - the web site, which is out of date because I've been away for a few days and am still catching up on work, will give you some info. There's a full day of live music, a petting zoo with a zebra and other exotic animals that you can't normally see except from afar at the zoo, a second stage with performance art and other cool stuff, and tables from all sorts of local artisans and businesses who will be showing off and peddling their goods and services. There will be food too, and many local restaurants and bars are offering drink specials all day long. Come out and join us! The weather is supposed to be excellent.

Quick Update: Busy as Hell

Other than Columbia Heights Day (see the adjacent post) keeping me busy, I'm in the throes of: being incredibly slammed at work as I'm pushing to get a new web site live, getting another mortgage and buying a house in Petworth, getting my taxes done (on my usual filing date of October 15th), doing a frenzy of little punch-list jobs on my existing house so I can be ready to rent another room in a month or so. Not to mention my trip to Austin over the weekend, which was a blast, but couldn't have come at a busier time. It was a nice getaway, I'll post pictures at some point when I have a little more time.

In the next month I'm going to try to tie up all the loose ends in my kitchen so the house seems at least put together, if not completely renovated. Specifically..

  • Finishing the window exteriors - just brick molding and sealing at this point. I finally got the 2nd window sill in yesterday so they are almost done. Huzzah!
  • Repositioning a cabinet that's tweaked and installing the last piece, a bookcase that goes next to the fridge
  • Cleaning up some of the wiring that I didn't finish because of the previous item (the switch is going to be in the bookshell for logistical reasons)
  • Hanging a couple more pieces of drywall
  • Figuring out why the hell my bathroom is still leaking when one person in particular showers (you know who you are) -- or just gutting it and redoing it once I close on the other house and have a functioning shower somewhere
  • Tiling backsplash, finishing mudding and painting.

Okay, it's not a small list, but believe it or not this could all get done in one or two weekends of focussed effort.

I'm also supposed to drive to Maine the weekend after this coming one to get some furniture. Ugh. Well, it needs to be done.

Well, that's about it. Back to work...

Friday, September 19, 2008

Fall is here

I am really busy and don't have time to say much, but this is about the longest I've gone without a post since this whole thing began so I wanted to drop by my own blog for a minute.

It's been a pretty crazy week in finance. It remains unclear what will happen in the long run, but it's pretty safe to say that the face of Wall Street is pretty damn battered and will probably never be quite the same. It's amazing that after all the bank failures and crises we've already been through, the end seems far from written.

I'm not here to make predictions of apocalypse. But it is concerning at a personal level, because I'm right in the middle of trying to buy my first investment property. I have a contract on a foreclosed house in Petworth. I won't give specifics because I don't want to jinx anything, but it was a great deal and is in good shape on a good street. But just as I came to a deal with the bank that owns the house, the shit hits the fan in the financial sector. Now, maybe this will have no effect whatsoever on my little transaction. But part of me worries, will I still be able to get financing? What if the loan that was no problem a week ago suddenly is a problem? I've said for years I wanted to invest in real estate for the long haul - not flip houses, but keep my eyes open and buy up good deals that come up once in a while, rent them, and then hold them for at least 10 or 15 years. This is to be my first step and the rent from this house should easily cover the mortgage right away. There are deals galore right now as foreclosures from the last round of bank agony are being sold off. So hopefully the current pain won't affect my ability to pick one up.

Anyway, that's been keeping me pretty busy for the last few weeks, as I've been house shopping, getting ducks in a row, that sort of thing. And enjoying the fall weather to be sure. So wish me luck. I have that stupid butterfly excitement feeling all over again, and this is my third house purchase and it's not even a house I'm planning to live in! But I just love these old houses and this one is cool...

Oh yeah, and have you noticed how awesome the weather has been the last couple days? I love changing seasons, and I especially love fall with the leaves and crisp evenings. I love change. I'm ready for it.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Bocce Was A Blast

How was your labor day weekend? Mine was all right. I deep-fried a turkey, ten pounds of potatoes, and almost everything else in the fridge; played a game of scrabble at 6:00 AM; fixed my broken couch and credenza; bought a $200 bottle of bourbon and drank a third of it; caught up with a couple out-of-town friends who were in DC; ate heirloom tomatoes from my garden with fresh mozzerella; made and offer on a house but didn't get it and looked at three other ones; went to a speakeasy and had a Pimm's cup and a couple drinks I've never heard of; decided against going to work on Tuesday and ate brunch at the diner instead; beat Pat at a Guitar Hero song on Expert (he's really good); trashed my house; cleaned my house; made turkey stock; and destroyed two computer monitors with a bocce ball.

That last one. Oh yeah. Well, a few of us were drinking some mimosas on Sunday afternoon and we decided to throw a couple rounds of Bocce in the backyard. That got old quickly, but it was hard not to see the potential excitement that could be created from the two ancient (e.g. tube-based) computer monitors that were in by backyard, awaiting a trip to the dump for disposal, and the heavy bocce balls that we were throwing around.

Being the photographic types, Jeff and I both got ready with our digital SLRs (mine still new to me) to capture the moment in all it's glory. Kenny was the pitcher. Here are my shots of the event.

The moment of impact


Glass is still flying

Shattered 2

The dust has settled

Shattered 3

The best part was the neighborhood kids who were hanging out in the alley behind my yard smoking weed while all this was going on. The first one made a pretty good bang when it smashed, and someone yelled "what the hell?" after the noise. But the second one was even louder. One of these kids bolts down the alley and is like, "what the hell are you crazy motherf*ckers doing, shooting guns off back there?"

I have to say I never expected that it would be me freaking out the neighborhood ne'er-do-wells.... er, anyway, it was pretty funny.