Sunday, May 28, 2006

Back in Michigan

Well, Eric and I had a good journey back to Michigan! While leaving Alabama we did see a bunch of cows grazing by an exit sign off of I-65 and we just thought, this is so Alabama. :) We will miss everyone in Alabama that we got to know. Y'all are great! Thanks so much to Dana and Scott for hosting our going away party and thanks to everyone that came, we had a great time! We love and will miss your game nights Dana!

This weekend we are just chilling out after last week and the stress of packing. It is very scary watching all of your worldly possesions drive off in a truck, but the packing went well. Our first house closing was successful and went very smoothly. The other scary thing was having all of the money in check form in your car. You just hope that you do not crash and lose it. Luckily we thought ahead of time and put our checks and other important documents into our fire safe in the car just to be safe. Once we close on the new house on Wed. we will send everyone our new address and phone numbers once we get one. Talk to y'all later (sorry, force of habit).

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Darkness for a while

As most of you know, we are currently packing up everything we own into small boxes and getting ready to move out of Huntsville and back to Michigan. If you were wondering why our blog has been so quiet for the last week or so, this is the reason.

Moving on your own sucks. Its expensive (think $7000+ from here to Michigan) and hugely time consuming. Its both amazing and depressing when you see just how much crap you have shoved into the various drawers, cabinets, and other nooks and cranies around the house. Or when you remember that you own a garage and have to pack everything in there too. And then there's that shed in the backyard with the rakes and shovels and various implements of destruction. Fun? Oh I think not.

We are having our cable, internet, and phones all disconnected today, so don't expect any additional witty blog posts or comments for a few days:)


Thursday, May 18, 2006

Ramblings of Eric: Part Something

I've had a lot of steak and caffeine tonight, so its time for another late night crazy blog from Eric.

I'm in Wisconsin this week for training. Its boring. I won't talk about that anymore.

What I will talk about is my coworkers. They are awesome. Just take my boss for example: In addition to who knows how many pitchers of beer, yesterday I had a shot of goldschlager and a jager bomb with my boss. Let me repeat that: with my boss! How awesome is that? Let me tell you it was pretty awesome.

And not just my boss. The entire group up here was so laid back and cool to hang out with. Except for that woman who said I look like a guy from Duran Duran. I wasn't sure if I should be flattered or insulted because I have no idea what anyone in that band looks like. I'm still not sure; It depends which band member she is talking about and whether she meant Duran Duran today or 20 years ago I guess:)

I think I only marginally embarrassed myself playing darts. It would have been worse but my the co-drinking buddy was on the other team and could barely hit the board most of the time.

Ok, so on to the good ramblings about life, the universe and everything (42!). Lets spin the wheel of rambling:

Wheel of Rambling

Ok, looks like philosophy: Now all we need is a topic. I'm going see...something relevant...nothing...ok...something interesting...hmmm...nothing...ok, something at all?? Ah there it is!

Do you ever stop and think about faith? Not just faith in God. I mean, faith in everything. I really believe that China is a real place. Same for the Soviet Union, Guam, Japan, and every other country of the world that I have never seen or visited. I believe people when they tell me that the speed of light really is a constant no matter how fast the source or destination are moving, despite the fact that this is completely non-intuitive. And I accept without any proof that my cells contain a jumble of chemicals in a tightly wound string that is the same in every cell but somehow account for all the different organs in my body.


Why can I accept all of this without any evidence and yet we cannot just accept a God? I guess you might argue that the difference is that if I wanted to, I could check all of the above (ok maybe the speed of light thing would be tough, but with a plane ticket and an atomic clock I could probably convince myself). I can go to China and look around and think, "yea, this is here where they said it would be. Look at all the people! You all talk like that? Fun!". I'm sure there is no way I could check out God.

Lets think about it another way: No one over the age of 12 believes in Unicorns right? OK, lets say that I claimed that Unicorns exist. You might say something, "I've never seen one. No one I know has ever seen one. No one on the planet has ever seen one. So they don't exist". We would naturally assume that the burden of proof was on me because I am making a claim. But what about in the negative case? Say I brought up Unicorns in the first place by claiming they don't exist. Who is the burden on now? Still on the one claiming they exist? Maybe. Maybe not.

This is why I think a lot of folks (myself included) believe that Atheism is just as much a belief system as is belief in Heaven. You have to state as an axiom that God does not exist, because proving a negative is always going to be impossible ("I've looked everywhere, and I cannot find God." "Oh really, did you look everywhere at once? Did you check behind the sofa?"). Its the same with stating unicorns don't exist. They don't of course, but I'm stating that as an axiom. No proof. I can't prove it. I can't prove there really is no God. Maybe there is. Maybe the Bible is 100% accurate and all this evolution stuff is just non-sense. Maybe Joseph Smith really was a prophet. Maybe the correct answer is Mormon. Maybe, Maybe, Maybe. Who knows...

Monday, May 15, 2006

Eric and Sue's Vegas vacation

Eric and I just got back from fabulous Las Vegas! We went to celebrate our 5 year wedding anniversary, May 12th. It was a lot of fun. We arrived on Friday and we stayed at the Excalibur hotel on the strip. It is the medival castle themed hotel for those of you who have never been. It was a nice place to stay. Eric liked the $1-3 Texas holdem tables. It is in a good location and it is right next door to the NY, NY hotel, MGM, and Luxor hotels. We had the Luxor hotel just outside our window which was cool. It is neat to look out and see a giant pyramid next door! Friday night we went and had a nice dinner at Sir Gallahad's in the Excalibur, then we went to NY, NY and got really drunk and watched a great live band in a bar there called Phoenix. It was great cover band with 3 great singers. They did Nirvana, ACDC, Guns n roses, Pat Benatar, etc. A lot of older, awesome music! It was fun.

Saturday we went to a stupid time-share meeting the hotel had to get free tix to the shark reef and $75 in gambling money. After that long, waste of time, pushy mtg we went to the Shark reef at the Mandalay bay. The shark reef is a very large aquarium with sharks, jelly fish, stingray, jelly fish, etc. They had a little part where you could pet stingrays and other fish. It was very cool. After that we gambled for a while with some of our free money and did not win big :( That night we went to the the Wynn hotel to see the broadway musical Avenue Q! It was great. It is a hilarious, well written musical. It is a very raunchy puppet musical with a puppet sex scene that put "Team America" to shame. If you ever have a chance to see it do! We also walked around the strip at night to see the various attractions.

Sunday we bought a giant margarita, a yard long!! We walked the strip of Las Vegas with it! It was awesome. We hung out on the strip until we met up with our friend from MSU and his woman. We sat and drank at an irish pub in NY, NY and had a NY pretzel which really do taste like true NY pretzels. Soooo good! Then we went to Coyote Ugly. That is a fun bar to hang out it. Eric and I got really drunk and stayed until 1:30 am and then had to get up at 3:30am today to catch our plane. It sucked but we had a lot of fun!

It was a great anniversary! We love Vegas and highly recommend all going there at least once in their life. We are planning another trip it in the future so save some money bitches!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Eric and Sue's drunken blog...`

We are very drunk. MMM rum... I cannot type. I think we put about a cup of rum in that blender. Now we are just giggling and watching Pet Star.

First rule of being drunk: Do not watch Six Feet Under while drunk. It is fucking depressing! I don't need to think about life and dying and dying while alive while drunk. Stupid NATE! ASSHOLE! HEHEHEHEHEHEHEHEHE!


DOGS RULE! GET A DOG! Name it Bob! Get another dog! Name it something that begins with B.


Sue cannot stop laughing to think up a next. I think she may pass out from laughing. QUICK! DOES ANYONE KNOW LAMAS. Thats not how you spell Lamaze you dumb ass!


All done.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Step 2 - The buying agent

When buying a house, each person in the transaction has an agent. The sellers agent (or listing agent as they are sometimes called) works with the sellers to encourage people to look at their house. Your agent (or buyer's agent) arranges home showing for you and walks you through the paperwork and process of buying a house.

The seller sets aside 6% of the final sale price to pay the buyer's and seller's agent (each gets 3%). That is basically not negotiable. And don't think you can save some dough by not getting a buyers agent. In that case the selling agent gets the whole 6%. So you might as well get a buyers agent to walk you through the paperwork, set up house showings, etc. And don't forget that despite the hand waving of the seller paying them, that 6% is in the loan you are taking.

Don't be afraid to be demanding of your agent. 3% of the loan you are taking is just to pay this person, so make sure they are worth it. Word of mouth is your friend when looking from an agent.

Despite what the buyer's agent will tell you about, "being on your side", that is only partially correct. Always remember that your agent only gets paid if you buy a house and that the more expensive your house, the more the agent makes. That gives them a strong incentive to try to get you to close as soon as possible and for as much as possible.

This is why you have to sometimes lie to your agent. But that's for next time.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

A Hunting We Will Go...

" very, very quiet. We're hunting for houses. he he he he."

This is the second time I'm going through the house hunting process. Its a huge investment; probably the biggest one any of us will make in our lifetime. I thought I would give out some helpful tips/info that I have picked up along the way.

The basic process goes like this:

1) Figure out how much you can afford.
2) Find a buying agent.
3) Lie slightly to the buying agent
4) Look for a house
5) Make an offer
6) Haggle
7) Move In.

I'll cover these in a series of posts, starting with #1 today.

1) Figure out how much you want to spend on a house. This should have nothing to do with what the bank will tell you can afford. The bank's typically rule is that you can afford 28% of your gross income for housing. That may be true, but you would have to live like a hermit and never eat anything but Raman noodles:)

Come up with a number that you are comfortable with and use that. Don't forget to assume that your electric and gas are going to be more (more area to heat) and that you are going to get to experience the joy of property taxes for the first time:) Both of those add up each month.

There is also the uncomfortable question of the down payment. At a minimum, the bank wants you to put down at least 5% of the homes selling price. Anything less than that and you are into jumbo loans, where they really nail you with the interest rate. For the rates the bank actually quotes in the newspaper, they will want you to put down 20% of the asking price. Most first time home owners cannot afford that, so there are couple of options to deal with this issue.

* The classic answer is Principle Mortgage Insurance (PMI). PMI is a little extra (typically something like 0.5% interest) that you pay each month on the loan in order to insure the bank's risk that you will not default. With PMI, the bank will let you borrow more than 80% of the home's selling price (again, typically up to 95%).

PMI is like all insurance: If you never default, then you have basically given the bank a lot of money for no reason. Unlike the interest you are paying on your loan, you cannot deduct PMI from your taxes either (one of the best things about owning a home is that all interest you pay on home loans can be entered as an itemized deduction from your federal income taxes). Once you have acquired 20% equity in your home however, PMI goes away. Equity is the difference between what the home is worth and what you still owe the bank. Equity increases when the home appreciates in value and by your payments each month.

* If you cannot put down the full 20%, another option is to borrow the remainder in a second loan. Such loans are referred to as 80/X loans, where X is the percentage of the downpayment you are borrowing. For example, if you put down 5% of the selling price, you would get a 80/15 loan to cover the rest of sale price.

This second loan is typically an interest only loan, which mean you need be aware of a couple of important points: (1) your payment each month only pays the interest. It does not lower your principal. (2) It is in your best interest to pay this loan down as quickly as possible because it is typically a full percentage point higher than your home loan due to the added risk the bank is taking on. Interest loans are more expensive than PMI, but you can end up ahead because you can deduct the full value of the money you pay in interest on this loan from your reported gross income on your federal taxes. Your banking advisor should walk you through both and help you figure out which will be cheaper for you in the long run.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

EE geeks rejoice

I'm not an EE geek, but I took enough robotics and computer circuit design to know that any girl wearing these would automatically be hella sexy/cool in my book: