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Now to build on the successes of the past year…

January 3, 2018, 9:37 PM

A new year always brings a lot of feelings.  It’s a time to reflect on the past year, and a time to look ahead to the year ahead.  Reflecting back on 2017, I’d say that I had an outstanding year, and laid the groundwork for a strong future.  After all, at the beginning of 2017, I was still relatively new at the whole train operations thing, and lived by myself in an apartment with a hostile relationship with the property management.  Now, I’m more experienced with my work and more comfortable with all of the ins and outs of my job, and I’m also a homeowner with a roommate.  I made my first mortgage payment at the end of December.  Things suddenly became very real when I wrote that check.

Now, in 2018, I want to build on my successes from the past year and reach even greater heights.  After all, in 2017, I got the house.  Now, I want to make it my home, and not someone else’s idea of a home with my furniture sitting in it.  That means getting rid of that chandelier in Elyse’s room, painting a few rooms, and getting my wallhangings up.  I’m excited to design the new decor, because I have so many blank canvases upon which to expend some pent-up creative energies.  My parents are delighted about this as well, because I’d been fantasizing out loud about redecorating their house for a few years in order to expend those creative energies that I couldn’t do with the apartment, but they were a bit cool to the idea.  Now I have my own place to paint and decorate as I wish.  The previous owner of my house decorated the place fairly minimalistically, using pale colors on walls and few wallhangings and furnishings, such as in the living room:

My living room during the showing

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I suppose that this is why you buy a Kia…

December 4, 2017, 2:59 PM

I suppose that what happened to me recently is exactly why you buy a Kia.  My car had been making some funny noises for a while, but since the check engine light had not come on yet, I figured that I had time to deal with it, and put it off until later.  This past Monday, the noises got noticeably worse, and the “check engine” light finally came on.  That’s when I scheduled a repair with a Kia dealer (since I suspected it might be covered by the warranty) and booked a rental car for the upcoming repair.  Then the car finally quit on me on the way to work, i.e. it just cut off in the middle of Georgia Avenue in Olney.  Thankfully, I was able to coast to a safe location to call for a tow truck.

The car ended up riding on the back of a tow truck from Olney directly to the dealer, and then I took the bus the rest of the way to work.  Then the next day, Elyse and I took a bus down to Rockville to pick up the rental car and talk to the people working on my real car.  I decided to kill two birds with one stone on that one, because I had planned a trip to IKEA during that time anyway, so I rented a truck.  So for a few days, I went from a Kia Soul – a compact – to a Ram 1500 pickup truck.  That thing was massive:

My rented Ram 1500 pickup truck

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Categories: Furniture, House, IKEA, Kia Soul

I suppose that I live here now…

November 26, 2017, 11:58 PM

So as of this writing, I’ve been living in Montgomery Village for about a week and a half, having moved on November 16.  The new place is starting to feel like home, even though I’m not entirely unpacked yet.  That is a process, and it will take time.  However, I think that the weirdest thing about the whole move process was watching my home of ten years get dismantled and carted out the door.  I hired movers to pack and move everything, so all that I had to do was keep Elyse occupied, make sure that the movers didn’t take the cleaning supplies (for the post-move cleaning that I am obligated to do, but have not done yet), and answer any questions that the movers might have.  Afterward, I was struck by what felt like the finality of it all:

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Categories: House, Montgomery Village

I’m a homeowner now, and so many things to think about…

November 14, 2017, 2:12 PM

Good news: I closed on the house on Thursday, and I am now a homeowner.  About a thousand signatures later, my longtime fantasy just became reality.  There are certain occasions in life where an event leaves you mentally drained at the end of it, and closing on the house was one of those things.  And now that the closing is done, there are so many more things to think about.  There is some minor electrical work that I need to have done.  The paint needs to be updated in some places.  I need to buy curtains.  I need to buy a new bedroom set for myself, since Elyse is getting my old one.  I need to get an air mattress to sleep on until I get the new bed.  The cable gets installed on the 15th.  Moving happens the following day, on the 16th.  I need to change my address in a zillion places.  And it goes on.  Such is the joy of homeownership, I suppose.

But in any case, the house is now mine.  Check it out:

Wheelock 7002T on the breakfast bar
Wheelock 7002T on the breakfast bar in the kitchen.  I used this photo for a “Welcome home” post on Instagram.

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Categories: House

So… I’m buying a house!

November 5, 2017, 2:45 PM

You may recall back in May that I sort of casually mentioned that Pixsy money was helping me get ahead financially and eventually buy a house.  “Eventually” has since morphed into “very soon”.  So I might as well make it official: I am buying a townhome in Montgomery Village, and therefore, I will be leaving my apartment of ten years in Aspen Hill fairly soon.  I am just a ball of different emotions, being both excited and terrified all at the same time.  I’m also picking up a housemate, as Elyse will be living with me.

I have wanted to own my own home for about six years.  Back then, it was an “eventually” thing, and more of a fantasy than anything else.  While some of my coworkers at Food & Water Watch owned their own homes, almost all of those people were married or otherwise in a committed relationship.  As a single person, I could not afford to buy a house on a Food & Water Watch salary.  I also owed a bunch of money on my credit card due to several large repairs that I had to make on my old Sable station wagon, which certainly didn’t help things.  Then when I lost my job at Food & Water Watch, any thoughts of being a homeowner went right out the window for a while as I went into survival mode, having to live off of what should have been retirement money for a little while.  When I started working in public transportation, one of the instructors during bus training gave us some advice: “Get yourself some bricks.”  In other words, buy a house.  My financial situation was not where I wanted it to be yet in order to do that, but I knew that our instructor was right.

In the fall of 2015, I was in the financial position to start considering becoming a homeowner, and I was starting to “hit a wall” with my apartment, as I wanted to do things that I couldn’t do while renting, like paint the walls.  I had creative energies that I wanted to get out, but couldn’t expend them in my place.  So I started fantasizing about redecorating my parents’ house, where the decor is somewhat dated (“stuck in the nineties” is the phrase I would use).  Mom wasn’t very receptive to my ideas for redecorating, unfortunately, as she didn’t see any reason to redecorate.  I also wanted more living space, as it was always hard to have guests over with no spare room and only one bathroom.  Guests sleep in the living room, and so whenever I had visitors over, no one had much privacy.  Plus, with guests sleeping in the living room, bedtime for one basically meant bedtime for all, since no one could really move around without disturbing the other person.

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Categories: House, Montgomery Village

Apartment security systems and the blame game on deliveries…

September 28, 2016, 11:21 AM

Sometimes, you really have to just shake your head at the lameness when people play the blame game.  Last year, the management at the apartment complex where I’ve lived for the last nine years (!) made some improvements to the property, including painting and carpeting the vestibule, and installing a new security system, making the front door of my building access-controlled, rather than unsecured.  The paint is, for the most part, just lovely.  The security system, meanwhile, is, in general, a good thing, but a number of bad decisions made by the property management have made the system into a mixed blessing.

On one hand, having access control on the front door keeps the annoying salespeople and door flyers away (but that doesn’t stop people from flyering the cars in the parking lot, which is equally bothersome).  It also keeps others who have no business being in the building out, such as a homeless guy that was passed out in the laundry room one night with several empty cans of beer around him.  I ended up calling the police on him, because I didn’t know what his deal was, they’re trained to handle things like this, and I had to do my laundry.  Likewise, I found two teenagers who didn’t live in the building just hanging out in the laundry room one night.  They seemed harmless enough, and they were gone by the time I came back to change loads.  I like to think that seeing me in a bathrobe scared them off.  But nonetheless, they had no business being in the building in the first place.  The security system keeps these kinds of people out of my building, and gives reasonable assurance that anyone who doesn’t live there was let in by someone who does.  So the system overall is a net positive.

However, the property management failed on a number of details that make this system less suited for an apartment building.  As I understand it, apartment buildings with access control have an intercom system to make contact with the residents and buzz guests in.  No such system here.  If you want to get access to the building, you have to call me on your phone, and I have to physically walk down and let you in.  I can’t just say, “Okay!” and press a button to unlock the door.  Let’s just say that I’m glad that the access control system wasn’t in place when I got hurt last year and my mobility was limited.  Imagine trying to hobble down the stairs on crutches just to let Mom in when I could barely move as it was, and considering that I had several instances where I nearly killed myself trying to move on those things in the first place.  Once I was in the house after the initial injury, until I got the boot, I didn’t do stairs without adult supervision.

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Categories: House, Security

New couch!

May 29, 2016, 6:30 PM

Sometimes, you just have to go out with the old.  After fifteen years, I finally got rid of my old futon from college.  In other words, this:

The couch in my living room, photographed 2014

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Categories: Elyse, Furniture, Glasses, IKEA, Melissa

A lesson on where not to store soda…

January 14, 2016, 1:26 AM

…and apparently, the place where not to store soda is the refrigerator.  Seriously.

I put a bottle of diet root beer in the back of the refrigerator, and apparently it was too close to the vent where the cold air came out.  The contents of the bottle froze, and the additional pressure found a way out through a small weak point near the top of the bottle.  That created this overnight:

Aftermath.

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Categories: Food and drink, House

While hunting for a photo…

August 29, 2015, 9:29 PM

Yesterday, I was hunting through my archives to find a photo to show a friend.  My photo archives are arranged by subject and by date.  If I took a bunch of photos in a single day, then all of those photos typically go into a folder marked with the general subject of the photos and the date.  One-off photos usually get dated, marked with their subject, and get put in a folder with all of the one-off shots for the month.  The photo that I was looking for depicted a bus sign after the normal text for that route had changed.  So I knew what it was, and knew what the photo looked like.  I also knew that the photo was a one-off, since I took the photo at Glenmont on the way home from work.  However, I didn’t remember exactly when I took it.  I had an approximate range for when I took it, but didn’t quite know.  So that meant that I needed to hunt.

First of all, I was successful in finding the photo.  Here it is, dated September 24, 2012:

Route Y5, destination MedStar Montgomery Medical Center

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“I am always so thrilled when people realize how much better a place can look with just a few simple changes!”

October 12, 2014, 12:07 PM

This past week, I finally finished the work that I’d been doing at my house for the past two months.  The way I figured, since there was a period of time while the various processes related to onboarding at the new job were still coming together, I might as well take the time to finish a few things on my to-do list.  It’s funny, however, what inspires a person to decorate.  Back in July or so, my friend Suzie described my house as “a hot mess”.  I thought about that over the next week or so, and came to the conclusion that she was right.  And I admit – it was looking a little bit too “lived in” at the time, with a lot of unfinished business all over the place.  The closets were not being used to their full potential, I had a pile of stuff on the counter between the kitchen and the living room, the table was full of junk, and there were things in visible locations when they should have been in closets.

I started out on August 5, doing what I called the “demolition” phase.  This was where I cleaned out the closets and determined what I wanted to keep and what I wanted to get rid of.  It’s amazing how much junk can fit in a one-bedroom apartment.  I ended up getting rid of a ton of stuff.  I had long-outdated information about the 2008 Democratic National Convention from the Unconventional Action consulta that occurred in January 2008.  I had the banner from the black bloc at the National Equality March from October 2009.  I had an expired bottle of generic Solarcaine from the time when I got sunburned at Splash Down Waterpark in June 2008.  I also had a carton of fabric softener from 2007 that I had never opened, where all the liquid had been absorbed by the carton itself, leaving a blob of whatever solids were in the softener at the bottom.  No, seriously.  Take a look:

Yeah, I believe that the light parts of the carton were supposed to be white...  The blob of fabric softener solids in the bottom of the carton.

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Single-stream recycling has come to my home at last…

September 29, 2014, 6:54 PM

So I went to take out the recycling after I got home from work today, and encountered this:

A dumpster marked "SINGLE STREAM"

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Categories: House

Yes, that is a Wheelock 7002T up there…

September 10, 2014, 7:03 PM

So as I mentioned a few weeks ago, I’m doing a bit of cleaning/redecorating around the house.  I’ve purged the house of much junk, I’ve put pictures in the frames, and I’ve removed the bulletin board, whiteboard, and Scientology letter from the walls.  Of the items removed from the walls, the bulletin board got moved to the kitchen, and the Scientology letter is going back up somewhere else in the house, but I’m not entirely sure where yet, as I still have to figure out the master decor plan.  I gave the whiteboard away, and I’m told it ultimately ended up at the American Legion in Wheaton.

But I did put a new piece of decor up that is very relevant to my interests: a Wheelock 7002T.  This came about after my friend Elyse referred me to an eBay auction where someone was selling two Wheelock 7002T horn/strobes that had been completely gutted, marketed as wall decor.  The opening price was ridiculously low, and there were no other bidders.  In a word: mine.  The idea was to get these, dig up some trim plates, and then put them up on the wall.  This only worked because they were empty.  Without the guts, they were light enough to where if I put one up, I wouldn’t have to worry about their falling off of the wall on account of weight, and also, there was nothing protruding out of the back, which meant that it would go flat against the wall.

This is what I started with:

Two empty Wheelock 7002Ts

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Categories: Fire alarms, House

Have not run the air conditioner yet this year…

June 27, 2013, 11:58 PM

I don’t know about you, but I have not yet run the air conditioner in the house once this year.  I realized this when I got a memo from the property management last week that said that they were coming through to do the quarterly filter changes on our HVAC units.  I realized that they could probably save a few bucks on my apartment’s filter, because I barely used my HVAC unit at all in the last few months.  The last time the filter was changed was March 27 (first time in six years that I was actually there for it), and I think I may have run the heat a couple of times, but otherwise the thing has been more or less silent all season.  And I will say this: it’s nice to have a June electric bill of $50.13.  That’s my lowest June bill yet, and that’s even against the very mild summer of 2009.

That brings me to the next question: has it been a really mild summer this year, or is it just me?  The last three summers, I had the air conditioning on for much of the summer, and needed it.  This year, nothing.  I’m starting to wonder if it’s just me, though, since I’ve heard people complain about how warm it is outside and the humidity and such, but then when I’ve been outside, I’ve been fine.  Can’t complain.  Seriously, I even wore my hat all the way through to June 21 this year.  This week is the first where I haven’t worn it to and from the office.

This whole thing about my being not hot at all while many others have complained makes me wonder if it’s not related to the massive weight loss in 2011-2012 (I’ve been more or less stable since July 2012, much to my dismay – I want to lose even more).  The last time we had a mild summer, in 2009, I was quite the little porker, tipping the scales somewhere in the upper 300s range.  And then for two out of the last three summers, I was still quite heavy.  Therefore, I wonder if having so much extra body fat for so long has altered my perceptions of what’s hot vs. not.

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Categories: House, Weight loss

This should become an Internet meme…

March 3, 2013, 10:01 PM

So you may have seen the new splash photo, showing me holding a monkey wrench at Home Depot.  I was amused enough by it that I decided to make an “Internet meme” version of it.  Take a look:

PLEASE TELL ME MORE ABOUT YOUR PLANS

After all, what’s the fun of having a monkey wrench if you can’t throw it in someone’s plans, right?

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Categories: House, Matthew, Netculture

A new year means a new workstation…

January 2, 2012, 11:26 PM

First of all, I hope that everyone had a wonderful new year. I had a wonderful time, spending New Year’s Eve with friends. And then today, I finally put some Christmas presents into service. While Mom was up last week, we went to IKEA, where I got a new desk to replace my old desk, which was falling apart. This is a “Galant” glass top desk. Very minimalistic. We got that last Wednesday, and as soon as I got home, I put that puppy together. My rule when it comes to IKEA furniture is that when I get it, I have to put it together right away, because it will otherwise sit in the corner forever, like some picture frames that I got for Christmas in 2007 and still haven’t put them to use. Yes, it’s been four years since I got these and I haven’t done jack with them. One of these days, I promise!

So first of all, this was our haul from IKEA:

Our haul from IKEA

The desk is on the cart to the right (sans the picture frame), and then the item on the left cart is a “Besta” bookshelf that Mom got, similar to ones I have.

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Categories: Furniture, IKEA