A Belated Post-Thanksgiving Check-In

Not much to report recently save the somewhat frustrating experience I had on Thanksgiving. I was visiting some old friends in Seattle, and one of them, who works as a hydrologist, was having no end of trouble analyzing a batch of huge data files. The root of her troubles was that the software she was using was attempting to load the entire file in memory before operating on it.

That was highly frustrating for me to observe, because:

  1. All indications are that it was probably unnecessary to load the entire file into memory (i.e. it was possible to process it on a record-by-record basis).
  2. If so, I could easily correct the above problem.
  3. That their lack of computer expertise is causing this one project to be adversely impacted indicates that it’s unlikely to be the only such project; odds are this is merely the tip of an iceberg.
  4. I don’t work there, therefore I am not allowed to address such problems.
  5. I’ve been unable to convince anyone who does work there and who has the authority to hire me (either as a contractor, or as an employee) to so much as meet with me.

Better Late than Never, I Guess

I’m now starting to get discount offer after discount offer from local big box stores, because they figure that as a new homeowner in the neighborhood, I might be in the market for a number of things, and they might as well try to build a relationship with me and become a store of choice.

Close, but no cigar. I was in a market for a number of things during my first month here. However, that moving-in phase is now mostly over. The last thing I did, I completed yesterday: correcting the undersized electric heaters.

Like most every place with electric heat that I’ve ever lived in, for some reason the builders decided to shave a few dollars more in profit by installing heaters that are ridiculously undersized (as in, about half the recommended heat output, given the living space). This they do despite the electricians installing wiring which is capable of serving the recommended wattage. Electric heater design has been very stable for decades, so the same manufacturers are still making the same exact models they were 20 years ago when this building was constructed. Therefore, it was a simple matter of swapping out the inadequate heater for an adequate one. For good measure, I swapped out the line-voltage thermostat, too, because I couldn’t find a rating for the old one and therefore wasn’t certain it could handle the new, higher current load.

But I digress. The heater upgrade was the last major thing on my move-in to-do list. I was going to put it off for several more weeks, but we’re having an early cool spell and as it turns out the inadequate heater was also making an annoying random rattling noise. Turns out that that was merely a foreign object in the fan area, but by that point I had already taken it apart and de-installed it. Might as well just replace the thing since I’d already done about half that job by the time I made that discovery.

So, I doubt I’ll make much use of any of those coupons.

Yes, yes, I know: it takes time for the public records of real estate purchases to filter through the system enough for marketers to be aware of them, so they can’t be blamed for the slowness. It’s still slowness, however. The reason for it doesn’t matter. Makes one wonder how much that tactic actually works for generating new customers.

Made It

Well, I made it. By some miracle, all the transactions closed on time Friday. Today was moving day and it went uneventfully. Now for the unpacking, cleaning up, fixing up, and customization at the new place.

It’s been something of an emotionally costly experience. I think this is for several reasons:

  1. I’ve never done a “leap of faith” move like this. The closest was in 2012 when I moved to Seattle without a job on the line. But then, I was pretty sure I could find one in my field, sogtware development (and I did, because at that point I had not quite aged to the point of becoming virtually unemployable in that field). This time, I’m not even sure what I will do for income yet (though I have some ideas).
  2. I put more of myself into my previous home than at any other home I’ve ever had. In Portland, I had a lot of my vision implemented by others. That was fun, and the result was great, but this time I did the painting and drywall work myself, teaching myself how to do the latter. Plus, I did more gardening than I’ve done anywhere else I’ve lived. Leaving all that has been like leaving a bit of myself behind.
  3. I’m older, and there’s probably an older person’s desire for stability at play here, too.

Maybe the thing to do at this point is to simply have more faith in the future. Going into this move, I really doubted that I’d be able to do what I just did: move from one owned home directly to another, without having to make any intermediate stop in temporary rental housing.

E-Begging, or, Needs versus Wants

It seems as if GoFundMe requests are proliferating in my social network.

Now, if the predominant motive behind such requests were genuine instances of needs, such as food, clothing, shelter, or health care, I’d find it upsetting because it serves as evidence the economy is failing increasingly more people.

Most requests, however, are not for needs; they are for wants, things like name changes, transatlantic plane fares, recreational vehicles (that are used recreationally and not as a primary residence) and whatnot. I find that upsetting because of the whiny attitude of self-centered entitlement it represents.

Sorry, e-beggars, your wants are your problem—not mine. Figure out how to fund them yourself. I believe people are entitled to the necessities of life, but I do not believe anyone is entitled to luxuries at my expense.

That’s particularly the case given that we’re in a world where so many people are lacking basic needs, and in one where I am myself a person of limited means who can’t dream of things like taking a transatlantic vacation. And, guess what? I don’t go begging to other people to fund such luxuries which are unaffordable to me.

If I once more become able to afford discretionary donations, rest assured I will be making such donations to those who need them, not those who merely want them. After all, every dollar I would donate to fund a mere want is a dollar I cannot donate to fund a geniune need.

Looks Like I’m Turning Into a Hamster

A Bellinghamster, that is. (Yes, that’s the real demonym for a resident of Bellingham.)

Seeing as how I’ve aged to the point where I’m basically unemployable in the tech industry in Seattle (type “tech industry age discrimination” into a search engine; it’s rather enlightening, or should I say depressing) I had originally planned to cut my costs by moving to Bremerton or the Kitsap Peninsula. I could probably afford an entire modest house for the equity in my expensive condo on Bainbridge Island. (My move to the Island, in fact, was predicated on the assumption that I needed to be close to the big city so I could take one of tech jobs available there.) Then I’d have an easier time with my radio hobby (unrestricted right to erect antennas) and significantly lower living costs. Major win!

I had even gone to the point of looking at properties for sale in Bremerton in order to familiarize myself with the market. Then one evening while falling asleep it hit me: what’s really most important to me is my activism for a more wild and free world, and Bremerton frankly isn’t really the best place to pursue such things. (For openers, it’s even further from Seattle than Bainbridge Island, and the ferry ride to the big city from here has been enough of a damper on my activism as it is.)

As such, I’d probably be better off if I gave up the dream about a better ham radio situation; overall, ham radio is just a hobby, not a core motivating interest in my life. This is not even a very radical or dramatic conclusion; the Radio Amateur’s Code has this to say: “The Radio Amateur is… BALANCED. Radio is a hobby, never interfering with duties owed to family, job, school, or community [emphasis added].”

The two places that came to mind were the college towns of Olympia and Bellingham. The latter I almost rejected, due to it being too expensive. That was something of a pity, as I’ve always really liked Bellingham and fantasized about moving there some day. Then I remembered that: a) it’s been a long time since I sussed out the Bellingham real estate market, and b) when I did, it was with an eye on buying a small house, not a condo. As such, it was worth doing some basic research on Bellingham before rejecting it based on incomplete and only partially applicable information.

And lo, I found that there seemed to be condos in my price range on the market there. Of course, that’s just pictures and glad words on the web. There can be no substitute for actually seeing things in person. Maybe they’re far tattier once one actually sees them, or are reeking of old pet urine, or have some other show-stopper.

But, for the most part, they weren’t. They were just what they seemed to be online: modest, decent condos that I could afford to own outright. Even more surprisingly, Bellingham was actually slightly less expensive than Olympia, despite it being my first choice of a place to downsize to.

Anyhow, to make a long story a little less long, I made a contingent offer on a condo in Bellingham a couple weeks ago. One of the things that sold me on it is that it has access to an attic that antennas can be concealed inside. But it was a contingent offer, which depended on my current place selling.

Depressingly, the market seems to have slowed a lot here on Bainbridge Island in the past year. Units where I live no longer sell for over asking price within 24 hours of being listed like they have for years. I had scores of looky-loos tramp through my place, but no offers. Well, one offer, but it was so insultingly low that my agent felt free to tell the buyer to take a hike without even running his asking price by me first.

Then, today, out of the blue, not one but two offers come in within minutes of each other. Go figure. Anyhow, I decided to go with the one contingent on VA financing over the all-cash offer because that buyer was willing to pay me more money for a deal that would take longer to close. More money is definitely something I need at this stage in my life.

So, it’s really starting to look as if the move is going to happen. I hadn’t posted about it earlier due to the fear of jinxing it, but I feel fairly safe posting about it now.

And Un-Scratch That

The deal that fell through is on again. Late Friday morning, I received a call that the offer that beat me out had collapsed and the property was back on the market. So I made a last-minute trip north to inspect it in person. It looked as good as it seemed online, so I told my agent to prepare an offer.

Then, since I was most of the way to Boston Bar, I decided to take my friends who have a summer home there up on the standing invitation to visit them, since it was going to take a few days to prepare all the paperwork needed in making a contingent offer anyhow.

It’s all been signed, so now comes the waiting. There’s still a frightfully large number of ways this all could fall through:

  1. The seller accepts someone else’s offer (not out of the picture, given how quickly that place attracted the first offer).
  2. The seller does some random flaky thing (also not out of the picture, given how the seller jumped on a quickie offer so soon instead of doing the more typical thing of waiting for multiple offers to come in, if one offer comes in surprisingly fast).
  3. My current place either fails to sell, or fails to get an offer for enough money to afford the place in Bellingham (also a possibility, given how slow interest has been in it so far).

Well, Scratch That

An interesting condo was listed for sale on Monday. I immediately contacted my agent up there and requested we do a walk-through via Skype. That happened today, and it still looked interesting enough that I made plans to see it myself the next business day (i.e. Friday).

And now we learn that it has sold already. So be it. I’m unwilling to buy anything sight unseen, particularly after that experience with the mold-infested unit that looked so nice in pictures. Plus while the location was beautiful (on a dead-end street adjacent to a greenbelt), both the street network leading there and the complex itself were bicycle-hostile.

Exactly how hostile was a matter of question, and part of my due diligence on Friday was to ride around on my bike and get some feel for how bad the trip downtown would actually have been. I’m still planning on doing that, simply in case anything else in that area comes up for sale (there’s lots of condos in that part of town).

Ah, well, the search continues.

Do They Know What They Are Getting Into?

That’s the question I have after seeing that this condo just went pending within a week of it hitting the market.

You see, I happened to be in Bellingham doing some house-shopping on the day it hit the market. Initially, I was excited, as it seemed to have most of what I was looking for: a location that was both quiet and central, plus no upstairs neighbors.

Then I toured it and the disappointment hit. Or, should I say, the musty smell hit my nostrils: there was a distinct moldy odor as soon as I walked in the door. That was after noticing the shabby condition of the exterior siding. The truth was immediately clear: the HOA had deferred exterior maintenance to the point that enough water had leaked in and fungi were now busy at work in the building.

Needless to say, I took a hard pass on that one.

It had an open house the past weekend. One wonders if any of the typical backhanded realtor tricks were employed: baking cookies in the oven, opening all the doors and windows, etc. In other words, anything to disguise the telltale mustiness. Or maybe my allergies have simply made my ability to detect mold more acute than the norm. Or perhaps a slumlord snapped it up and plans to use it as a low-end rental.

Who knows? The important thing is, I didn’t get stuck with it.

Could It Actually Be?

I’ve basically just about totally given up finding a job in the world of bigoted tech bros, because, well, they are bigoted (and thus incapable of believing  someone who’s obviously over 50 can do a good job).

By implication, that means moving out of my current home, which is not affordable unless I earn the sort of income one does as a computer professional. Which, in turn, means moving significantly further away from the big city of Seattle, a place I only moved close to under the assumption that I could find a tech job here.

All things being equal, I’d much rather live someplace with fewer people and more nature. So, there’s a silver lining to the dark cloud of inconvenience that moving (something I’ve done too much of and am generally sick of) represents.

Another bright spot came to light last week, when my investigations revealed that although there has been housing cost inflation there, Bellingham is at least as affordable as Olympia is. That was unexpected, as Bellingham is probably my preferred destination; I’ve long fantasized about what it would be like to live there some day.

Then tonight I learn that I’ll probably get significantly more money for my current home, should I sell it, than I had estimated. I was dreading hearing the opposite news, for the simple reason that the universe has tended to frustrate my life decisions and make everything a struggle in recent years. Could it actually be that that sorry period is finally ending?