Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Oh ... Poop

Today, one of my coworkers gave me a holiday present.

And I thought, "oh crap, I don't have a present for her."

And I thought, "I should have a present for her. We definitely exchange gifts for the holidays. How could I possibly have omitted her from my list?"

Didn't have my list on me, though.

Went online. Went through my Amazon purchases ... nope, nothing for her.


Spent about an hour online ordering emergency presents for her. ("Shit! What do I buy? What do I buy?") Finally found something. I'll get it on the 24th. Not ideal; but, hey, it's a present.

Came home. Looked at handwritten shopping list.

She's on it. There's a gift written next to it. Which I had purchased from an online merchant other than Amazon. (Which is to say, I'd had a brilliant idea of a gift for her, and had actually hunted it down and found it.) On December 15th! But I don't have the gift yet.

Checked the order status online and it said, "paid." Yeah, I know I paid for it. On the 15th. Where's the damn gift?

Sigh. Purchased two presents for her and the first one (the right one) will probably come too late anyway. So I either give her the last-minute, not-so-perfect-for-her present (and then save the perfect one for what? next year? I can't even remember a week ago; what makes me think I'll remember a whole year?), or give her the perfect one late, and she'll think I didn't buy it until after she gave me a present. Which is so not true.


Saturday, December 20, 2008


WTF happened to my Global Warming?

Friday, December 19, 2008


Currently watching last week's episode of "House." (Thank you, USA, for those reruns, seeing as I have no DVR or VCR at this apartment.) I'm only half watching it, because I'm doing some work at the same time.

The Joseph Bell reference was cute enough, but Wilson's rambling story on Irene Adler being the one that got away? I just jerked my head up and started laughing out loud.

I do appreciate how nicely they're playing up the Sherlock Holmes references -- especially since they made absolutely no mention in the first season. I realize I'm overthinking this, but I can't help but wonder if Wilson was knowingly making a Sherlock Holmes reference (which apparently went right over the heads of House's team), or if Wilson was just randomly picking a name (and it was only the writers that were throwing in the reference). Either way: freakin' hilarious.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

And ... we begin again

The sellers rejected my offer.

This is cool. I pretty much expected them to do so. I was offering them a price about 10% below the comps, because I'd need to remodel the kitchen and do some work in the bathrooms before the place would be, y'know, good. Fact is, I had previously intended to offer them exactly the value of the comps -- until I got a closer look at the kitchen and master bathroom. (I hadn't been able to view the master bathroom in its entirety when I first looked at the house -- largely because the toilet was leaking all over the floor at the time.)

In any event, I'm not particularly unhappy or angry that they rejected my offer. I'm, as the kids would say, "down with that."

What I am angry about is that the rejection was transmitted to my real estate agent with the cheerful little note from their real estate agent reading, "My Clients suggested that your clients search for real estate that is more in their price range as an offer [17%] less than list price is very insulting. I tend to agree with them."

Numerous responses went through my head on this, several of them inappropriate for polite conversation.

You have to realize that this house has been on the market for seven months, and the sellers have already dropped the price four times, resulting in a price nearly 25% lower than their initial price. The listing price is still a solid 10% higher than the comps (and that's without knowing whether the comps actually need kitchen remodels). Indeed, two houses in the neighborhood came on the market recently and each one got an offer in less than a week, because they were priced correctly. This house is still sitting there after seven months. A perceptive seller (or one with a realistic agent) might start asking, "What is wrong with my house? Is my listing price too high? Is it a combination of the two?"

Instead, these sellers think their house is still worth a ton of money, and that the problem is with me (or, more precisely, my finances).

I believe the term I'm looking for is "Bite me."

I sent my agent the following in response: "And, your client suggests that their clients keep their opinions to themselves, wishes them luck in getting their price in a declining market, and promises not to say 'I told you so,' when they inevitably drop their price yet again." (That last bit is a complete and utter lie.)

OK, nobody remind me of anyone I forgot

Every night for the past, oh, two weeks or so, has been at least partially spent in the following endeavor:

1. Look at holiday shopping list.
2. Randomly select a name on it.
3. Check to see if they have an Amazon wishlist.
4. Upon discovering that they don't, randomly search Amazon until a good gift idea strikes.
5. Purchase said gift.
6. Feel really good about knocking another name off the list until...
7. Remember another name that wasn't on the list, but should have been.

I've been pretty much treading water on the shopping -- always countering progress with the addition of someone else. Well, enough of that. Tonight, I bought five more gifts. I've only got one name left (and that should be do-able -- tomorrow). Holiday shopping officially nearly finished. Yay.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Pure schadenfreude

A few days ago, I left the office to grab some lunch. (It was lunchtime. It seemed reasonable.) I walked over to the crosswalk. There was a dude already waiting at the crosswalk. I assumed he'd already pressed the little button, so I just stood there, waiting for the light to change.

A woman walks up. Waits with us for about 3 seconds. Starts to cross against the light.

She gets about two-thirds of the way across the crosswalk when we hear, over a bullhorn, "Ma'am, you're going to have to come over here."

A motorcycle cop -- he'd been parked just inside a parking structure on the other side of the street. In total plain view, although I'd failed to see him. Clearly, the woman had, too.

She keeps crossing. Cop says, "Yes, you, Ma'am."

She goes over and he starts questioning her on her jaywalking proclivities. The light changes. I cross. As I approach, I hear the cop talking about how she could've been hit by a car. I avert my eyes. I go into the fast food joint. Place my order. Pay for my food. Wait for my food. Get my food. Leave the fast food joint.

The woman is still there talking to the cop. While I'm waiting for the light to change, I hear him saying, "You saw there were two other people waiting...."

I don't know if he ultimately gave her a ticket, but I do admit to taking a certain amount of joy in the fact that she got caught.

They Did Not Actually Laugh

Been a bit quiet in posting lately, as there's this house I've been considering putting in an offer on.

(On which I've been considering making an offer. Whatever.)

Of course, the first time I saw the house, it seemed like the most awesome-ist house ever.

I went back to look at the house a bit more critically, and it seemed like, with a kitchen remodel, and moving one itty bitty non-load bearing wall (... and maybe putting an extra door in over here, and making this a walk-in closet, and ...), it would be really good. In the sense of: yeah, I could see myself living there for the next 40 or 50 years.

But since it would require work, the amount of I'd be willing to offer dropped substantially. I mean, there's only so much money I have to put towards a house, and if a bunch of that money has to go to a contractor to get the house right, that's less money I can spend on the house itself.

So, I pondered. I talked it over with friends. I contacted the house's neighbor and talked it over with them.

Everything seemed OK, so I put in an offer. For, like, 20% less than the listing price (which itself had gone down 20% from when they'd first listed it). And it was a "take it or leave it" sort of offer. I'm not going to negotiate this price upward. But, if they accept it, they'll be rid of the house they've been trying to unload for more than half a year.

My agent just presented the offer to their agent. She called back to report that the seller's agent did not laugh, or even throw her out of the office. That's a good sign.

And now: we wait.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

U can do better

Got a phishing email today from someone claiming to be the IRS.

Actually, they're claiming to be "Internal Revenue Service Inc.," as though an agency of the federal government is incorporated.

That was probably the first thing that tipped me off that it was fake. Well, besides the fact that the IRS would have no reason to email me. Or to email me about a refund. And certainly not to email me about a refund under section 501(c)(3) -- because, last I checked, I am not a registered non-profit organization.

But the bit that cracked me up was the sentence that began, "If u don't receive your refund within 6 business days..."

I don't know what's funnier -- that they think "u" is now acceptable in formal writing, or that they think the IRS would promise anything in six business days.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Convo with MCI

The highlight of my call with MCI went something like this:

"I cancelled my service as of November 6, and you've billed me for service through the 20th."

"Yes, Ma'am. We bill for a full month of service."

"So you're saying that you billed me for two weeks that I didn't have the service??"

"That's correct, Ma'am."

"And this seems right to you? To bill for time I didn't have your service?"


"All right. Whatever. Just as long as I never get another bill from you again."

"Yes, Ma'am. This is your last bill."

"OK. Thanks."

"May I ask you why you're leaving MCI?"


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Helpful Insurance Company

It is AMAZING how helpful your insurance company can be when you suggest they may have been overcharged.

I believe I mentioned this before, but when I came back from Mexico, I had an unfortunate little bout with La Tourista. I went to the doctor, he gave me the magic antibiotics, I got well. The End.

Except it wasn't. Today I get the Explanation of Benefits from my office visit, and it indicates a charge of $585 for the appointment, for which I am allegedly responsible for some $300.

Insert skeptical eyebrow raise here.

It was an office visit, I paid my $20 copay -- where'd the extra $300 come from?

Upon closer examination, my EOB indicates two charges: one for "Office visit" and one for "Surgery."

Surgery? I think I would have remembered surgery.

I called Anthem, my insurer, to see what the hell my doctor charged them for. After about four minutes on the damn computerized system, I finally get a live human being.

"I need an explanation of the statement you sent."

"You need us to send you an Explanation of Benefits?"

"No, I have my Explanation of Benefits -- I need you to explain something on it."

Specifically, what's this "surgery" charge for? She couldn't tell me. She could give me the magic code number used for the procedure (which was already on the EOB in front of me) but couldn't tell me what it was for. (I'm guessing this was some sort of patient confidentiality thing, although it seemed a little odd as I am the patient.)

I tried again a different way. "OK, let me put it like this: I have no idea what this was for. I don't recall any surgery"

She asked the purpose of my appointment. I said, "I was sick. I went in. He prescribed me some antibiotics. I left. No surgery at all. Nothing remotely intrusive. The entire interaction took place across the room."

The light dawns on my Anthem rep. She scans the code sheet, and while she doesn't actually tell me what the surgery code was for, I hear her mutter something about "lesions." (Lesions??) She asks if I have my doctor's phone number. I assume this means she's going to tell me to call the doctor and I said, "No, but I can look it up."

She finds the number. Then she calls it. I am amazed. She doesn't tell me to call them; doesn't even say she'll call them and get back to me. She calls them while I'm on the line.

Less than five minutes later, she reports the happy news that the doctor's office agrees that there was no "procedure," and that they'll be sending a corrected statement.

Next up: why did MCI send me a phone bill covering the period after I'd closed my account?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Officially Frustrated

AOL journals used to have a feature at the top -- which I never used -- which allowed you to answer "how I'm feeling" at the top of every entry. I'm feeling frustrated.

Found a house I quite liked on Sunday. Not only that, it is conceivable that I could afford it. (Shock.) Rarely have these two concepts existed in the same house.

Planned with my agent to see the house again Monday night. Was bringing a friend to look it over, too. There were about three things I needed to do before putting in an offer. I needed to get another look at the master bathroom; I wanted to find the A/C unit and water heater; and I wanted to speak to the next-door neighbor (with whom the house more or less shares a driveway) to make sure they were nice, sane individuals that didn't torture kittens.

Got there a bit late (if I buy the house, I'll definitely need to figure out a faster way to get there) -- at around 6:30. Looked at bathroom (check); found A/C and water heater (check again); and basically took my time to get a closer look at everything. Of course, it wasn't as shiny perfect as it had seemed on my first walk-through, but it was still a really good house. Was all set to meet the neighbor and -- if that went well -- write an offer. Would've done it right there, too, assuming my agent had brought the paperwork.

So, on the way out, I said I wanted to meet the neighbor. Agent said she'd seen the neighbor while she was waiting for me to get there. "Perfect," I thought. "Did you tell her I wanted to speak with her for a few minutes?" No, says my agent. She was unpacking her car and looked like she didn't want to be bothered. "OK," think I, "let's go knock on the door." Agent said no. It was a little after 7:00. Too late to knock, now. They might be eating dinner; wouldn't want to disturb them. If you want to talk to the neighbor, she said, we should do that on the weekend.

Really, really annoyed.

Agent says she'll talk to me tomorrow about the house. I express my frustration by saying she should talk to me on Saturday, because I'm not putting in an offer until I meet the neighbor. (And I thought she freakin' knew that.)

I come home and stew over this. I have a meeting Saturday morning, which I can't miss. Of course, we have no idea what the neighbor's schedule is. She could have a meeting Saturday, too. Or even be taking a vacation. It isn't like we can make an appointment to meet the neighbor. We'll have to show up on Saturday and hope she's there. Oh man, I haven't even put an offer in on the place yet and I'm already stalking the neighbor.

It continues to annoy that my agent saw the woman last night. How freakin' hard would it have been to say, "Excuse me; I have a client who is interested in buying the house next door. Do you mind if I bring her by for a few minutes to talk about the neighborhood?" Seriously.

And now I sit around waiting till Saturday, wondering if someone else is going to put an offer in on the house in the meantime, and thinking that there's no guarantee we'll even see the neighbor on Saturday.

Damn it.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Auction my weight

My scale is apparently an auctioneer.

Last night, I hopped on before bed. It said: 136.

And I think, "136??!!! That is WAY not right. I was 120 this morning."

I get off the scale. I get back on the scale. It now offers 126.

I get off the scale. I get back on the scale. It now offers 121.

I figured I could probably keep going until I weighed less than 100 pounds, but decided to stop the bidding at 121.

.... and to buy a new scale.