Saturday, September 08, 2012

A leap of faith

Today we turn in our signed lease on a house and get handed some new keys. The rent on the house is reasonable by Austin standards, but will be considerably more that the rent on the apartment or, for that matter, more than any other single monthly payment either of us have ever had in our lives.  But that's not the only leap of faith we are taking since we are also breaking our lease on the apartment, just two months after renewing it. That will be a rather expensive thing to do, unless we are able to sublease it quickly.  

The circumstances that brought us to this point were what most people would call a strange mix of coincidence.  A co-worker has a rental house that we were hoping to get before we renewed the apartment lease, but his tenant decided to stay another year so we renewed the lease on apartment instead.  Then about three weeks ago, my co-worker's tenant gave notice and moved out immediately.  That made the house available, but we had renewed the apartment lease and besides, we didn't have the extra cash needed to pay another deposit plus double rent for at least a month. My co-worker advertised the house for a bargain rent price so it would rent quickly and we figured that was the end of that.

Labor Day weekend came along and the RV sold "as is" on the same day that I had it scheduled to be it moved into the shop for some minor repairs.  At that point I had some cash, but did I really want to spend it on breaking a lease and moving into a house?  And was my co-worker's house at the bargain price even still available?

I returned to work on Tuesday and talked with my co-worker who said the house was still available.  Despite my misgivings about the whole idea, I decided to go take a look at the house on Wednesday so I could make an informed decision.  I was not expecting to walk in the door of the house and get one of those "gut feelings" that I've had so many times in my life.  But that is exactly what happened; I got that feeling of "this is the next logical step".   But just the same as I did with the RV purchase, I tried to talk myself out of it.  I had the idea that there was no way Rob would agree to go look at the house that day after work since he always wants to go straight home (which is understandable, I usually feel the same way.)  Even if he did go look at it, he might not like the house and I already knew how he felt about the hassle of moving since we had discussed this prior to renewing our lease - he wasn't going to go for it unless it was the right house.  

Much to my surprise, Rob not only went and looked at the house, but he also liked it.  That left me with only one thing to use against the whole idea - the expense of breaking the apartment lease.  That could cost me several thousand dollars, maybe more. Or it might only cost $200 if we were able to sublease quickly.  That made it a gamble and I'm a person that has a risk-adverse personality.  Despite my worries, all that night long and all the next day, no matter what I said to myself, I couldn't shake the feeling that getting the house was the direction I needed to take.  And so I took the leap and dragged Rob along with me. It will be interesting to see how it all works out.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Hello ham radio, goodbye RV

My dad and my brother both were ham radio operators when I was growing up and eventually my mom and I also got our Technician class licenses (my brother holds the next level, a General class and my dad has what used to be the next level above General which is an Advanced class.)  

As a young adult, I didn't have the time or the money to get seriously into the hobby and eventually let my license expire.  That was quite a long time ago, but I suspect once Ham Radio gets in your blood, it's always there lurking, just waiting for something to trigger the fever again.  I say this because a couple of weeks ago, while surfing the internet, I inadvertently stumbled across some of the new things going on in the world of Ham Radio.  Well, maybe not so new to folks active in the hobby, but new to me since I had been away from it for 20 years.  

I did a little checking and most of the things that had caught my attention could be done with only a Technician class license.  I figured it wouldn't take too much study to retest and since there was an exam date of June 16th, that would give me two weeks to get back up to snuff.  I took a couple of practice exams to see what I might need to brush up on and much to my surprise, I found that I had not forgotten much at all. In fact, it only took one day of study before I could easily pass the practice tests.  Since I still had almost two weeks to go before exam day, I decided I would study for the General exam.  If I could pass this, it would be a nice surprise for my father on Father's Day because it would mean that I would be able to transmit on his favorite HF bands (something I could not do with just a Technician license.)

Yesterday I took the tests.  First was the Technician exam which I sailed through and then the General exam which I also sailed through.  As a result, the examiners were quite insistent that I take the Extra exam next.  I knew there was no way I'd pass that one since I hadn't even looked at the question pool or studied for it and it's got some pretty esoteric stuff on it.  But they strongly encouraged me to take it anyway as a way to get acquainted with what was on the test and since it didn't cost anything but a little extra bit of my time, why not?

Needless to say, I did not pass that test, but I did manage to get 27 out of 50 answers correct, far more than I expected. The half I didn't get right included quite a few things I'd never even heard of, but it all seemed like things that I could learn if I applied a little bit of effort.  I don't really need an Extra class license at this point, but it would give my dad quite a thrill if I could achieve it.  It's something to think about in a few months, after I've finished moving out of the RV.  

Yes, my RV days are over.  I've enjoyed living there the last two years, but with Rob and I moving back together, the RV is way too small for two people and two dogs.  Instead, we'll be living in an apartment for a while.  And while an apartment will make getting back into ham radio a bit of a challenge since my antenna choices will be limited, it's the best option at the moment.   

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

R.I.P. Maurice Sendak

"Where the Wild Things Are" is my favorite book of all time.  Having read thousands upon thousands of books in my lifetime so far, I'm surprised that I can say that one stands above all the rest.  But for me, this one does.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

2012 has been a steamroller so far

It's been a very busy three months.  On the work front, we had a major project that needed to be complete before the start of peak season in April.  Despite the typical setbacks and delays you get with any major project, we were able to push it to production in early March.   And in any other year, this timing would have been just fine, but this year it seemed like the entire US had an early spring. Business had already spiked up by then and it feels like it's been a madhouse at work for the entire year.  First there was the push to get the project done, then the push to handle all the extra, unexpected business.  For the last month I've been spending over half my work hours helping out in Customer Service taking calls while trying to still get my regular work done.  It's a good problem to have in this economy, but it does leave me pretty damn tired at the end of the day.

Other things are afoot in my personal life that have brought some major changes in my routine, all of them good, but even good change adds a bit of additional stress.   Over the next few months I hope to find the time to get get my RV ready to sell and if things work out, I might be moving back into a house in June.  If the deal on the house falls through, then maybe a duplex.  I'd even go for an apartment if I could find one with a small yard (a few of those do exist in this town.)  Affordable will be tough to find in this rental market where even a small duplex or two bedroom apartment can run over $1000/month.   I've asked for a pretty substantial raise at work that would let me qualify for such a rental amount, but given that raises have been on hold since November plus the fact that my "regular" job might be changing to something else... that means a raise is not something I can count on.

Overall, there's much that's uncertain in my life right now, both at work and at home, and given the track record of the last couple of years, I think this is the new normal.  That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it can make life seem just a bit more challenging at times.  Ah well, at least I'm not bored.

PS - those of you that are long overdue for an email from me, my apologies.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Hello there 2012...

Last year wasn't a particularly bad year, but it certainly didn't have very many high points.  The fact that I'm still employed is a plus, considering the number of people who don't have jobs right now.  I'm still doing the technical writing job and I still live in an RV.  My dog, Theo, is also still hanging out.  He doesn't get around as well as he used to, but considering he is well over 15 years old and a large dog who has lived far beyond expectations, I'm thrilled that he's decided to stick around.  I seem to be in a holding pattern at the moment, just in a "one foot in front of the other" mode, but I do have my eye on a renting a house in the spring.   It may not happen, but I need something to get me focused looking forward and that seemed as good a thing as any.