Camry Breakdown!

Everything happens at once. I got the MR2 moved to “classic” insurance so I’m paying $12.80 a month to insure it (or about $200 a year) so the camry decides to buy the farm. I’m driving into work today going “hm, seems like it doesn’t have as much power as it should”. Pulling into the parking lot it goes WHEEEEEZE and dies right as I pull into the parking spot.

It’s a weird feeling with your hand about to touch the keys when the car does exactly what you’re about to do.

Needless to say, it might be the plugs but I’m much more inclined to think it’s the igniter or battery. It’s enough to make you want a Jeep, which my wife owns a 1996 cherokee and it doesn’t give her nearly the raft of crap it should. I don’t really want to spend the money on the camry, but I also know once I get the house I’ll really not be interested in working on cars for quite a bit. Obviously I need to fix this now and cheaply.

For those not in the know, the shop manuals for a 1992 to 1996 (“Mark 3”) camry are getting hard to find, but Turbo Ninjas hosts them for us. You may want to mirror their site while you can…

Accidental Homeowners

Me and Kelly are now accidental homeowners.

We were looking at houses and trying to land one before the economy recovered and before the market bounced back.  We had seen a lot. We had seen small houses, big houses with big rooms but not enough to interest us, and project homes where people had tried to flip it. Those were particularly fun – bathrooms in weird places and weird “gift” programs so you don’t have to put money down and the worst were the prices. The prices were hilarious. For a house with mostly ripped up walls, mismatched paint and everything else people somehow felt they had to ask what they wanted – not what they paid for. This resulted in houses one step away from condemnation being listed for $375+.

Foreclosures – Not even worth looking at. Most of them, and I mean 90% of them, had the appliances and plumbing ripped out so the homeowner could get some cash out of them.

We ran across a property up by Valley Forge in a $325k-ish neighborhood but listed for $270k. Property value falling? Nope, needs a lot of work. However, the work was all in the form of hazards which had to be delt with. Asbestos, mold, radon and termites. Four for four. Now, this is the fun part – he either needs a seller willing to buy it as it is, or he needs to fix it. His realtor was a nice guy and impressed upon him that no-one in their right mind was going to buy it with those things in it, and he had best fix them while he had a buyer. Not only did we talk him into leaving all the appliances, but we also talked him into a full seller assist (worth like $12k-ish), and fixing all that crap, which is worth another $12k-ish in work. Wild right?

When we pitched the offer asking for all these fixes monday of last week. Our realtor told us he wasn’t going to go for it and we’d best cut bait. Being the market what it is at the moment, I told him I wanted them to say no before taking a walk. We lined up a few more appointments in the interrium, figuring our realtor would be right. To everyones suprise, friday we get the fax that he did accept the offer, without making a counter offer or anything like that. Basically, we’re buying a house for $50k under the neighborhood price, and getting $25k in incentives and repairs to this place before we even move in.

Now, the house isn’t perfect. The deck needs to be washed and sealed, it needs a new piling under the deck, the chimney needs a cap and some mortar, and the bathrooms need work. Other than that, the house is in good condition and frankly this is all just cosmetic work.


Sturgeon: It’s Like TOOL-Lite

Sturgeon’s new album, errr, only album is a free download. Can’t go wrong with free. Question is – what are you getting?

I’ve been on an American Folk kick as of late with Iron and Wine and Nickel Creek plus a few others.

Sturgeon is not American Folk music.

Sturgeon is like TOOL-lite. If you dig the mysticism in TOOL as a “must have”, then Sturgeon isn’t for you. If you like the time and key of TOOL’s music, you’ll probably like Sturgeon.

While it occasionally gets bogged down as a victim of it’s own design (guitar licks are repeated more than they should – almost like NIN) and some of the songs aren’t as well realized as others, it generally feels fresh. Lyrics generally are meaningless but then what does anyone else talk about on their first album anyway?

Adventures in House Hunting! Home Inspection!

Finally got the home inspection done. The house we’re interested in is a 1950s construction colonial house. It’s got fairly nice amenities and it’s well laid out but there’s a few WTFs which run the gamut of “we can deal with it” to “flat out nigger rigging”.

The two biggies which really pissed me off: The house had undeclared asbestos in the basement (they can cap it off or remove it) and the house has mold – marginally in the basement and very much so in the garage where the guy has DIY insulation for his workshop. The mold doesn’t piss me off badly, I’m not terribly allergic to it. The asbestos is from the water getting into the basement and lifting the tiles. Some of the tiles are broken and tada, suddenly you have an asbestos flag on your house. The legalese is you have to disclose both asbestos and mold and you can’t do anything with the house until it’s taken care of. Which includes selling it to me. With a baby on the way, I’m not interested in dealing with it.

Other stuff which will need work:

  • The deck isn’t level. This is a home depot run to lay more dirt and put in giant pieces of wood.
  • The wooden portion of the deck needs to be sealed.
  • The guy doesn’t understand what a lag bolt is for toilets.
  • The basement wiring is an adventure in flying splices and cut up lamp cord.
  • One of the pylons for the deck is simply missing. The wood beam is there, but the pylon under it? Gone.

Other than the environmental hazards it’s a nice place for the price and I can do the fix-it-shit.

I’m Paying for it Today

A good buddy got married and I couldn’t say no to the bar. I get home from that and continue that trend of celebration with Jon’s bottle of hangover juice. This came with the warning: THIS IS NOT SCOTCH, THIS IS HANGOVER JUICE.

Needless to say I was like “I’ve been drinking all weekend, I’ll be fine.”


To add insult to injury, the cigar I was enjoying by the window rode the draft back in so now kelly says the place stinks (ideas?) and when I went to go to bed, I stepped in a delicious pile of cat puke.

Well, at least it’s just a rental.