A lot of stuff has been happening lately. Progress being made. We think.
If this were Facebook, I’d have stopped right there and felt right at home with the millions of other vacuous posts that contain so little detail as to be utterly worthless to anyone but their author. However, this is a blog — indeed, a novel concept — where paragraphs are written, at least so long as the proprietor doesn’t forget to come around and actually write them, in which case the blog collects dust for days if not weeks. But never mind all that. I’m a bit tired right now, and my thinking has become…randomized, to paraphrase V23. Wow. You see? Random.
Up until this past weekend, we went three or four weeks without any showings of our house. I got in touch with our realtor to see if I could get an update, and the update was that there were three new properties whose prices were undercutting us. One was a short sale and the other two were foreclosures, so it wasn’t exactly direct competition, but they were the same model home as ours and when someone is bargain hunting, they tend to start at the bottom. Shortly after we had this conversation, coincidentally, we had two showings booked within hours of each other: one for Saturday and the other for Sunday. Finally, some new activity had arrived.
Apple and I had a fairly busy weekend, doing a lot of shopping and housecleaning and stuff. One of Apple’s Facebook friends reminded us that we should try baking cookies to fill the house with a pleasant aroma before our showings, so we heeded the advice and picked up some ready-to-bake chocolate chip cookies from Immaculate Baking Co. We baked half of them, and they were — in a word — scrumptious. Oh yeah, and the scent was pretty darn alluring too.
Then, we had another showing today…that was scheduled 90 minutes in advance. I got the call around noon, just as Apple was starting to prepare lunch, and the buyer’s agent was hoping to show the property at 1:30. So we had to stage the house, pack up all the food and jet over to my parents’ place pretty quickly, but it all worked out. I did some work on my new Sony Vaio F-series laptop and really is a fantastic machine for work, which is good because that’s why I bought the thing.
Unlike the last couple of showings we had (or didn’t have) a month or so ago, all three of the buyers actually showed up this time, if their agents’ business cards being left on our countertop is any indication. So we’ve had plenty of the home-showing process lately…but can we get some resolution soon? Like an offer, maybe? Just saying. Oh, well…the housing market in Texas continues to depreciate a bit, and interest rates are still declining, so while this isn’t exactly heartwarming news, the delay can only be helpful to us.
Florida has been doing its usual “pop-up thunderstorms” shtick a lot lately. For two days in a row now, I’ve gotten wet whilst walking up to the post office to get the mail. Yesterday Apple and I both went for our usual lunchtime walk, and the sky looked rotten dark so we took the big golf umbrella that I won in an office Christmas party trivia contest some years ago. (No joke.) We needed it, too, because a storm blew up on our way home and nearly blew us away. It took both of my hands to keep the umbrella from firing off across the lawn. The driving rain was so bad that we were both soaked by the time we got home, requiring our clothes to be hung up to dry overnight.
And then again today, I walked from my parents’ house to the post office at lunch time and was promptly rained upon again. I was out there by myself and had brought an umbrella, so it wasn’t as bad as yesterday, but I was still pretty damp by the time I got back. The summer storms here often blast you hard enough that an umbrella only keeps your upper half dry. I’ll never forget how many times my great uncle used to tell the story of how he once visited Florida after being recalled from the second World War, and how torrential the summer storms were even then. In the time it took him to run across the street, he was completely drenched. “My wallet was soaked all the way through in those few short seconds!” he would always say. Having lived here for over a decade now, I am only too well acquainted with that particular anecdote.
In other news, this morning we got up early to take the Mazda 6 down the street to the Goodyear shop for some scheduled maintenance: transmission fluid flush and refill, oil change and some brake work. I wanted to have the brakes looked at because the wheel shimmies a little when you stop. However, we didn’t exactly bargain on being told that the rotors were so warped that they had also ruined the brake pads, and that everything needed to be replaced — including the brake fluid, which was old and contaminated — to the tune of almost $900, inclusive of the other work I mentioned. It was a bitter pill to swallow, but we swallowed it because, honestly, the car needed it, and I’m not going to let my wife drive a car with unsafe brakes. I didn’t doubt the shop’s diagnosis, either; I could tell something was going on with the brakes because every time you’d apply them when they were cold, this horrific CLUNK would go up from the front end. That’s gone now. Overall the driving (and stopping) experience is significantly enhanced, which is nice because when you drop that much money on auto work it’s nice to feel some kind of improvement!
Tomorrow morning I’ll be getting up a little early once more, to go help my grandparents set up their new HP all-in-one printer, scanner, fax machine, coffeemaker and pressurized water reactor. (Not really, but it does seem like those all-in-ones are made for just about everything.) I hope there are no surprises along the way. Tomorrow is also when my boss gets back in after more than a week of vacation, and he’ll likely want to get caught up with me on a variety of stuff — not to mention all of the marketing and design stuff that I’ve got to get him caught up on.
Yesterday evening we watched the Comedy Central roast of David Hasselhoff. Ohhhh, God. Seriously, this was the first “roast” I’ve ever watched, and it seemed mostly like an occasion for the guest panelists to roast each other, rather than the headline actor himself. The set design was pretty cool, though, featuring a real-life KITT replica from one of the Knight Rider Online forum members, a huge KITT vox-box and flashbar behind The Hoff himself, and lots of other goofy Knight Rider and Baywatch-themed dressing. The actual comedy was incredibly raunchy — a long time has elapsed since the days of “The Kids in the Hall” and the relatively tame stand-up acts that Comedy Central used to air in its infancy, which was the last time I really tuned in with any consistency. William Daniels lent his iconic voice to a (pre-recorded) bit of banter between KITT and The Hoff, which was entirely too short but fun anyway. (And man, Daniels’ voice has really gone down an octave in his old age!)
Besides watching some washed-up D-list celebs roast The Hoff, I spent the last couple of evenings writing and working on other document-related tasks on my new laptop, and honestly, I’m kind of sick of writing. Tonight, in comparison, I’m going to just sit back and play some video games for a while. There are a lot of new games coming soon, including Mafia II which lands on the 24th of August, but I’m thinking of just holding off on all new game purchases for a while and focusing on my back catalog. I’ve got a lot of stuff to get through that I either never finished the first time or want to play again, including:
- Alan Wake – Still about 1/3rd of the way through
- Grand Theft Auto IV – Never finished it; trying to now
- Grand Theft Auto IV: Episodes From Liberty City – Bought it last week for 50% off
- Bioshock – Never finished it
- Bioshock 2 – Saving it for after I finish the first one
- Dead Space – Finished it, but want to play it again because it rocks (and there’s a sequel coming)
My other problem with games right now is that I’ve basically exhausted my supply of trade-ins. Normally, I partially fund my game purchases by trading in stuff at Gamestop, especially when they have those “extra trade-in credit” deals. But right now, looking at my game library, I don’t see anything that I want to part with. Even though I beat Red Dead Redemption in a very unusual-for-me straight runthrough, the game was so frakking amazing that I feel as though I can’t bear to part with it. The only games I wouldn’t mind trading in are so old that they’re worth next to nothing, so what’s the point? I’d get more enjoyment out of just keeping them here for future nostalgia-fueled replays.
Speaking of games, Apple recently informed me that Blockbuster has added video games to their discs-by-mail rental service (you know, the one that competes — barely — with Netflix). Since we’re already Netflix members and still have a few more months on our gift subscription, there’s no way I’d make a switch right now, but it was certainly a compelling idea, and one that I’ve long wished Netflix would take up because I’m too cheap to pay for a Netflix subscription and a Gamefly subscription. Blockbuster doesn’t even charge extra for games; you can just rent a game instead of a movie for any (or all) of your disc slots whenever you want. It’s freaking brilliant.
The only problem is, it sucks. Because not only does Blockbuster have somewhere around 1/4th of the game lineup that Gamefly offers, their availability dates are ridiculous — mid-October for Crackdown 2?! That game’s been out for at least a couple of weeks already! Why is there a nearly three-month lead time? Unacceptable. So, once again, it appears that Blockbuster is doing little more than hastening their own destruction. Honestly, with bonehead moves like this, the lack of instant movie streaming, and the continued shuttering of their retail outlets, I’ll be surprised if Blockbuster still exists by this time next year.
Anyway…I think I’ll stop talking about games and actually go play some games. Believe it or not, I was originally planning to make this a pretty short update — short enough that I considered using the “Quick Take” category. Ha! You are looking at very possibly the antithesis of a Quick Take here.
Till next time.