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8 times better than a Gregabit

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Beware of bored nerds... Jul. 19th, 2009 @ 11:41 pm
(Meanwhile in Freenode #makerslocal)

<Gregabyte_>    you know what we need?  Wizard rap
<Gregabyte_>    i mean we have pirate rap
<Gregabyte_>    why not wizard rap
<nykodemus>     Gregabyte_: do it
<nykodemus>     do it now
<Gregabyte_>    Listen up mah bitches / As I tip back mah flagon / To how I stole all my riches / From that bitch-ass dragon
<omegix_work>   Apprentices be trippin / cast envy on my hat / cause my wand be pimpin / and my tower be phat
<Gregabyte_>    I shoot from mah wand / Bolts of flame and fire / Mess with what I'm fond / I'll light yo funeral pyre
<nykodemus>     mage rap
<nykodemus>     this has to be the nerdiest thing I've heard of in my life
<nykodemus>     I love it
<Dickie_Workie> usin dark magic / I'll lay waste to you all /  all them hatin' on my skillz / can suck dees crystal balls
<omegix_work>     in a puff of smoke i do appear / bedroom magic grin ear to ear when damsels be destressin / i grant a white blessin rock a wench so hard / she aspload cosmic shards
<Gregabyte_>    I roll through Middle Earf / Pimpin' dem Hobbit hoes / Bitch-slap a serf / and perforate all mah foes
<ware>  my pants aint saggin i kick it with bilbo baggins, with rings of invisibility and lyrics that slay dragons
<ware>  tap yo hairy feet while Gandalf spins the beat
<nykodemus>     blastin fools wit magic missile / even my cantrips are ill / but an troll wanna step up? / it gets a Power Word Kill
<nykodemus>     I got da flames dat burn / I got da smoke dat chokes / but wit invisibility / you get a dagger in yo throat
<Gregabyte_>    Bitches love mah staff / rubbin' on the gem / In their bed I laugh / And in the darkness bind 'em
<omegix_work>   witches all know me my spells are the best / i stir the cauldrens, they rub they breasts / out of their pot and into my fire / Wizard McReal is the potion of desire

Greg (aka Spellmasta G)

Update Jun. 18th, 2009 @ 12:01 am
After a very busy four day weekend here is the result:

Pics!Collapse )
The next big goal will be to finish the living room.  That way I can move my furniture in out of the storage building.  Whenever I get a free moment I work on the minor one person jobs.  Currently I have two, install kitchen sink plumbing and getting the master bathroom into useable shape.

Huh...  I might just be getting the hang of this home improvement stuff...

Victory for me! Jun. 13th, 2009 @ 09:20 am
Ok, quick update.  Got the house, moved in, started renovations.  $6000 later here we are:
Pics!Collapse )

Pretty good progress considering what it DID look like

Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory May. 12th, 2009 @ 05:11 pm
"Anything that can go wrong will go wrong."
- Murphy's Law

"Anything that can go wrong, will—at the worst possible moment."
-Finagle's corollary to Murphy's Law

The choosing

When I first decided I no longer wanted to live in an apartment I had a set of requirements that I applied to each candidate house.  First and foremost in my mind was ease of maintenance.  I wanted a decent sized yard but not so big that it would be a major chore to maintain.  I wanted at least two bedrooms to account for the possibility of a future boarder.  I wanted at least 1 3/4 baths so that two people could have their own bathing facilities.  I did not want carpet because wood/tile was easier to clean and I have a Roomba which does an excellent job on these surfaces.
I finally found a place that fit all these criteria (see previous posts).  It was a foreclosure so it was cheap.  The interior was torn up but anything that needed replacing would have been replaced anyway in the remodeling.  The yard was a decent sized though plagued by drainage issues.  This was not a concern for me since a couple of retaining walls for the worst parts and some grass seed would clear that right up.

The bid

I easily won the auction for the house.  Even though I bid well above the beginning bid it was still far below the average selling price of the neighborhood.  The seller (HUD Homes) had a few rules I had to abide by.  No repairs until after closing.  They would not repair any damage, property sold as is.  $1000 up front, I lose $500 if I back out unless some major defect is found in the mechanical systems.  After looking over the cursory inspection of the house and seeing no major issues I agreed.

The inspection

Not being a total fool I got my own inspection done.  I chose an inspector that my realtor had used personally before.  As she had assured me he was very thorough and did an excellent job.  The first order of business was to get power and water turned on at the house for him to inspect the mechanical systems.  HUD Homes stipulated that we could only have utilities on for 48 hours.  I call Huntsville Utilities and set a date.  I called the inspector and set a date for the day after the utilities are turned on.  All parties agree and are ready to go.
At nine o'clock in the morning of the inspection date I get a call from the inspector saying that nothing is turned on at the property.  I call the utility company and find out there is a problem with that property.  I ask what the issue is but am told that only the seller is allowed to know what the problem is.  Seeing as how the seller is a government organization we might have a problem here.
The realtor, acting as my liason, calls HUD homes to resolve the issue.  I come to find out that apparently somehow the power was turned on illegally back in February and thus the entire power meter was yanked and the power line at the pole cut.
A deal is worked out between HUD and Huntsville Utilities.  It takes a week for the check to make it from HUD and into Huntsville Utilities' computer systems.
Now that the issue is resolved I schedule the utilities to be turned on.  Having been burned before, I check for any holds on the account, set the date and have it confirmed by Huntsville Utilities before calling the inspector.  The next day I get a call from Huntsville Utilities confirming that I want to turn on the power a day later than I set and confirmed.  This is obviously no good seeing as how the inspector would get there and there would be nothing to inspect.  The more I protested the more the CS rep said that there was nothing she could do.  At one point I even asked to speak to a manager and I was outright refused.  The most I could do was get a "Maybe we'll get to it that day."
The inspection date rolled around and surprise of all surprises, the power was on.  I was ecstatic... until I get a call.  The power was on but the water was not.  I call Huntsville Utilities.  I am assured that the water is on, all we have to do it turn on the valve at the street.  I relay the information and am told that there is a lock on the valve.  Huntsville Utilities tells me they will send out a truck as soon as possible.  Four hours later when the inspector had to leave the truck had never shown up.  Of course I still had to pay the service charge and a $50 additional deposit.

The bank

I spent a while choosing who my lender would be.  Interest rates are down and banks were looking for good customers.  I finally settled with Redstone Federal Credit Union because they had a good reputation among my friends and a half percent lower interest rate than anyone else.  I go in to one of their branches and sit down with a representative to fill out a mortgage application.  I am told that I will know if I am approved or not by the next day.  I go home and wait... one day.... two days...  on the third day I got an answer: rejected.  I call and find out why.  Apparently when I was sitting with the bank rep there was an entire section we did not fill out.  I gave the person on the phone all the info she needed and BAM, instant approval.
We set up a secure email system for communication.  I am given a list of information they need.  I compile all of the documents and fire it off over the email system.  I wait... no reply.  I wait a few days... no reply.  The realtor calls the bank to find out what the holdup is.  they say they are missing some documents.  What documents they need they won't say.  Just "We are missing some documents."  After a week of going back and forth finally the supervisor of the loan officer calls me directly like I had been trying to get them to do.  What documents do they need?  All of them.  Everything I had sent already.  I resend them straight to the supervisor and everything is now in order.
Now for the appraisal.  I transfer the $400 appraisal fee and am told that they should be ready in a couple days.  A couple days go by, no word.  I call, can only reach voicemail.  Call the supervisor, she's out of town.  A few days go by, call again.  I am told that they are working on it.  More days go by, still working on that appraisal.  A two weeks has gone by and we are told the appraisal is done.  Now everything is being evaluated by the underwriters.  Again we are assured that it will only take a couple of days.  Calls from both the realtor and I every day go to voicemail.  In the mean time the lease on my apartment has run out.  I didn't sign up for an additional month because after all, this was only going to take a short time, right?
Today I drive down to the real estate office of RFCU and ask to talk face-to-face to the loan officer.  Though she is rather unhappy at having to deal with me I get the full story.  The loan approval person saw the appraiser's notes about the damage and has judged it to be hazardous.  Therefore they are deciding whether to base approval on getting the damage fixed.  In other words, no closing until the damage is fixed.  If you will recall HUD Homes' rules, no repairs may be done to the property until closing.

Where I am now

No closing until repairs, no repairs until closing.  The best bet we have is to put money into escrow (2x-3x the cost of repairs done by a contractor) to cover the damage.  This would mean an additional $3000-$5000.  If this is the case then I have a few options: 
1.   Figure out where to get it and pay the damn money
2.   Find another lender... which means 30 more days of couch surfing (no apartment, remember?)  Plus I have a little over a week left before I am forced to pay HUD homes $25 a day in fines for going over the 60 day limit.
3.  Forget everything and give up the house dream.  I'll get back the $500 from HUD as the inspector found a problem in the HVAC system but I'll lose $450 to RFCU due to various nonrefundable fees.  Not to mention the renovation materials already purchased and sitting in storage.


The bank, HUD Homes, and Huntsville Utilities can go to hell.  This has not been worth the amount of stress and all the lost work hours.  I just want to punch someone.  While that would get me free room and board for a few years, I may not like my roommates.  At least then someone would understand the huge amount of rage and frustration this has caused.
Learn from my mistakes, people.  Get everything in writing, ride people's asses until they do what they are supposed to do, and above all find a realtor like mine who will tear into a problem like a starving pitbull.

Surrealistic Childhood Memory #37 Mar. 25th, 2009 @ 01:49 am
I am at a party sitting in group of a dozen other children all raptly watching a clown.  The laughable, lovable clown is dressed in a wild array of colors and dispensing happy balloon animals to us all.  He cheerfully begins blowing up another balloon and, upon inflating it, wipes away where he had his mouth.
"No dirty germs here!", he says with a wide grin.  The balloon squeaks and squawks as it is twisted into shape.   "Nope, don't want any of those dirty Germans..." His voice trails off.  He quickly looks around the room.  "Uh, are any of you kids German?"  Two children raise their hands.  "Yeah, uh, sorry about that..."  He looks down very intently at his half completed giraffe and finishes his construction in a very awkward silence.
Other entries
» (No Subject)
Huntsville: Highest Rate of Six Figure Engineers Driving $300 cars

Huntsville: The place where nobody is "from" but settled here anyways

Huntsville: the left-laner's paradise

Huntsville: Just ignore that booming sound

Huntsville: Our Ph.D. Dad can beat up your Ph.D. Dad

From blog.al.com

» The canvass
This weekend was the first opportunity I've had to actually get into the house with a tape measure and camera. Armed with measurements and pictures I can begin planning the renovations. I've also been poring over layouts and glossy photos of kitchens worth what I paid for the entire place to glean some idea of what I want the interior to look like.

So far I have decided that all bathrooms and the kitchen will be tile, most likely a bluish-gray called "Arayan-gray". The floors of the house will be laminate wood in a darker reddish color, something like a dark cherry. The kitchen will have darker brown cabinets that dont have much in the way of wood grain and the counters will be white. The appliances will all be black. I saw a similar color scheme in an example photo and liked it. 

I am planning on turning one of the spare bedrooms into an office.  In it I will keep all of my servers and network gear needed to maintain them.  I will also put in some desks as a study area as well.  I am also going to run cat6 cabling all throughout the house so that every room has at least on hardwired place to plug into the network.  If it is possible I would also like to run audio cables as well but I will have to see on that.

I was dismayed to confirme that the fireplace was gas though I suspected it from the beginning. The issue is that gas lines do not appear to have been run to this neighborhood. It appears that a wood fire was built in it before by the previous residents but I remain wary as it was not designed for it. Perhaps if there is some left over money I can investigate the possibility of getting one designed for wood. For now, however, it will have to remain decorative.

The erosion around the place is pretty bad. It seems the previous owner just didn't give a damn and now a good third of the yard is now drainage ditch. I am not overly concerned; enough sweat and elbow grease can fix it. Only about 20-30 feet of retaining wall will actually be needed. The rest can be graded, seeded, and strawed. There is a strange ridge on the property leftover from when the house was built. It was pointed out that this would make an excellent spot for an orchard or garden. This place holds many, many possibilities; all I have to is take advantage of them.

I also got the opportunity to meet my future neighbors. They were a nice young couple with a one year old child. They seemed pleased that someone was moving into the house. The previous owners were apparently quite a wild bunch and were constantly being told to quiet down. They were eventually evicted for nonpayment of rent. The whole neighborhood has had their eye on this house hoping that someone a bit more sane would move in. While I can't promise my plans will enhance property values but I do know when to keep the stereo low.

And now for a few of the pictures taken over the weekend

This is what I have to work withCollapse )
Master bedroom: 12'6"x12'10"; closet: 4'x5'6"
Livingroom: 14'10"x17'3"
Hall: 6'6"x5'
Bedroom 1&2: 10'x14' (including closet)
Master bath: 4'x6'
Spare bath: 5'x5'

As soon as I get the paperwork back from the government and the loan is signed it's mine.  Thanks to recent legislation, 10% of the purchase price will be coming back as a tax rebate.  This means that I won't have to fight for a home equity line of credit in order to refurbish the place. 

It will be a huge effort but well worth it I think.  I finally have a place of my own to do with as I please.  No more apartment managers.  No busybody deskmaids with nothing better to do than drive around citing violations.  No more dealing with changing owners and billing companies every year.  No more living just down the road from section 8 housing with it's break-ins, murders, rapes, and the spillover into our area.  No more waiting for moronic maintenance people to fix what I can do myself in a fraction of the time. 

In short, I am free.

» Ctrl-Alt-Del... Reboot!
Today while doing a bit of internet house cleaning I realized I hadn't touched this journal in quite a while.  I was in for even more of a shock when I had realized that people had friended me without me realizing it.  My apologies to vxo and be_gentle_love for not welcoming you properly.

Since my substantial entry much has happened.  Makers Local 256 has taken off faster than we dreamed of.  In the past year we have doubled our membership and are currently negotiating for a larger workshop.  Not bad for a bunch of people that used to meet in someone's living room, eh?  If negotiations go well and we acquire the building we want we are expecting to at least double again in the next year.  This is all thanks to the vibrant community in that area and the sheer amount of foot traffic.

I got tired of feeding the insatiable money hole that is my apartment so I went house hunting. After many weeks of searching and touring houses I finally found one I liked.  I placed a bid on it and Monday morning I was informed that I had won.  The weekend before was pure hell.  I slept very sparsely and what little I did get was marred by strange and fitful dreams.  Monday morning, however, brought a feeling of calm as if I knew exactly what needed to be done.

The house itself is in horrific shape.  It is a HUD home (government owned foreclosure) that was apparently occupied by un-housebroken apes.  Judging from the pattern of damage I would say that the last act in that house was a drug bust.  The basic structure itself is intact and all the mechanical systems work.  The damage is cosmetic and just needs some elbow grease... and five thousand dollars or so.  I am not concerned about the cost as I got the place for well under market value and I have the opportunity to mold the place into whatever I see fit.

Here are just a few of the things needed to be done:
- scrub the inch of grime off everything
- tear out carpet and replace with laminate flooring
- kitchen and bathroom linoleum replaced with tile
- front and bathroom door jambs need replacing
- every room needs repainting
- several large holes in the wallboard need fixing
- needs all new appliances
- new faceplates for many light switches and outlets
- new master bathroom tub
- erosion control on the property (this can wait for a while though)
- wire the house with cat6 ethernet cabling and stereo wires

This is just the short list of things I want to do but I am still excited.  I have been given an opportunity to make a very nice place to live and I plan to take full advantage of it.  Help will be no problem as I have an army of volunteers standing by who only request a wage in BBQ and beer.  I will also be posting the progress on the place here so keep an eye out.

» January Lan Party - 1/30/09 - 8:00 PM to 8:00 AM

» A "friend" of mine wants to know...
Anyone know how long it takes for scorched arm hair to grow back?
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