Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Well. We've arrived in Charlotte and had a nice night in a quiet, well relatively, place. We made a stop in Dallas and got to see Gramma and then it was off to the races. After a painless drive through Texas and Oklahoma, we arrived in Gardner and were happy to see everyone there. The day that we spent there was enjoyed as much as it was needed. CP had a blast with the relatives, and her lovely friend Annabelle.

We pressed on from there to Lone Jack to pick up the cousins and it was time to point the car south. This was our longest day so far - 14 hours in the car with all three of them. Only toward the end of the day (Lake Village, AR) did the newness of this particular brand of family fun wear thin. A visit to Chuck's Dairy Bar in Rolling Fork, MS soothed the savages with some good fried food.....and a chilli/slaw burger for the driver! Man, that was good stuff.

More good stuff followed with a visit to both sets of the kids' great grandparents. We had fun with all of them and I think that I managed to get a good picture....or two, during the festivities. We spent a few days in MS and decided that it was our time to go. The kids need to be closer to the beach, so that's the way we headed.

I didn't know about it, but thanks to the Betsy, we figured out that our overnight stop in Atlanta at the Georgian Terrace would allow for a trip to the largest aquarium in the world. What a bonus that was. I grabbed the kids, stuffed them in the car, and took them to the Georgia Aquarium. What a day. We started off with the movie, moved on to the petting area, and then hit the exhibits and the cafe. The cousins, CP, and I had a great time and I'm grateful beyond words for their mother and father agreeing to let the LW and I bring them along.

It was another late start for the travelling, but we headed out after the aquarium (I got lost on the way back to the hotel). We picked up the LW at the hotel and smoked the tires on the way out of Atlanta. After a short while, we were into South Carolina and getting rained on so much that the sunroof started leaking....into the LW's lap. It was clear near Gaffney and we did get to see the big peach water tower that looked like a butt. =0)

3 beautiful happy kids in the back seat is a good thing.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Das Auto

It seems that before every big trip we make with the superdeeezle, I have to go under the hood and do a little cleanup. When we first purchased the car, I convinced the LW that we should get a VAG-COM setup for it to interface with all of the computers on this car and I'm glad that I did. The price we paid for that laptop and the Ross Tech software has earned its keep. This time around, the CEL came on and it was throwing the P0128 code for the coolant temp sensor. After some reading, I decided to go down to the local VW stealership and get the factory sensor. It was relatively simple, or would have been if the o-ring from the old sensor been stuck in the hole. That cost me about 1.5 liters of Pentosin coolant at $18/liter and made a really nice pet-toxic mess.

I cleaned that up and then cleared the code only to find that in the last few days, one of the glow plugs took a crap. Of course, it throws the CEL on for the glow plug so that it won't pass emissions. If I didn't have to update the plates or travel through a few "you aint farummdeez pourtz, izzzyu boway?" type states in a week, I'd probably let it slide. So, off to BAP this time for a $27 Bosch glow plug. I changed it in the lot and was off to the emission station for the pre-renewal test. The standard for my car is 30 and it came in at 000 running mostly biodiesel. I think that last year on D2, it showed 10. It's set for an alignment on Monday at 8am and we'll hit the road after that on our way to Van Horn or Midland, TX.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Road Trip V3.0

Well, we've come a little further along with the plans for the road trip with CP and her cousins. It seems as though we've angered the geriatric redneck gawds and will have to make an 8 hour detour to pick up CP's cousins. Evidently there was a visit with the paternal grandparents planned for the time after the family reunion in Mississippi that we were not made aware of. It seems that when asking to take my nieces on a trip, I have to not only consult with their parents, but I must also beg the benevolence of their grandparents....pfffffft. I'll not be kissing that ring any time soon, so we'll make the detour and pick up the nieces. What's another 500 miles and a $100 hotel stay among (somewhat dysfunctional) family?

I had hoped to make it to Clarksdale, MS for a night at the Shack Up Inn, but we won't make it. The nieces get out of school on Thursday the 21st and we'll pick them up some time on Friday. We have to be passing through Bolton, MS on Saturday morning in order to make the reunion, so there's just no time for it.

1. Tuesday Depart Tucson, AZ – Van Horn, TX 433 mi – 6 hours 10 mins
Stop Van Horn, TX (or some dump east of there) – Overnight ($55)

2. Wednesday Depart Van Horn, TX - Euless, TX 501 mi – 7 hours 10 mins
Visit with Gramma and Grandma - Overnight ($00)

3. Thursday Depart Euless, TX – Alma, AR 314 mi – 5 hours 9 mins
Overnight somewhere and get the girls

4. Friday Depart Alma, AR – Cary, MS 333 mi – 6 hours
(or add some mileage and head on into Bolton)

REUNION Saturday 10am-2pm

Spend days 5,6, and 7 in MS

8. Tuesday Depart Bolton, MS – Atlanta, GA 423 mi – 7 hours 15 mins

Stop Montgomery, AL – (4:44/263mi)
-Hank Williams Museum
-Rosa Parks Museum

9. Wednesday Depart Atlanta, GA – Charlotte, NC
Stop Gaffney, SC
-Peach Water Tower

Visit Charlotte, NC - Beach House ($300)

Spend days 10(Th), 11(Fri), 12(Sat), and 13(Sun) and possibly day #14 in Charlotte, NC

Depart Charlotte, NC - Nashville TN 415 mi – 6 hours 50 mins ($75)
Depart Nashville, TN - Lone Jack, MO 543 mi – 8 hours 26 mins
Depart Gardner, KS – Euless, TX 518 mi – 7 hours 50 mins ($00)
Depart Euless, TX – Van Horn, TX 501 mi – 7 hours 11 mins ($55)
Depart Van Horn TX – Tucson, AZ 436 mi – 6 hours 8 mins

2413 miles

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Note to Congress

Dear Representative Giffords,

My wife and I recently decided that it would be best for us to leave Tucson and sell our home here. We have a toddler who doesn't see her grandparents back in the Midwest nearly enough, so despite the poor market, we put our house up for sale.

Within a few weeks, we had it under contract at a price that would let us leave town with about $6000 in hand after everything with the sale was handled. This isn't a lot, but it's our equity from the house (some of it). It seems that while our house was under contract, Andrew Cuomo, made a deal with Fannie and Freddie called the Home Valuation Code of Conduct without really thinking through all of the unintended consequences. Now, you'd think that a lawyer would have a clear understanding of unintended consequences, but I don't think that was the case here.

Our first pre-HVCC appraisal came in at the sale price. We expected a little more, but were pleased that it was at the sale price ($118k) in this market. After the HVCC deal became the new rule, the review appraisal came in at $85k. Now, I know that my house didn't lose $33,000 in value in two weeks. Under the new rules, the review appraiser was pulled from a pool of appraisers as per mandates, but get this, he was from Phoenix. I'd expect him to know the difference between Scottsdale and Peoria, but he obviously had no clue about Tucson.

The new HVCC rules that do not allow appraisers to exclude fire-sale foreclosures from comps, or require that the appraisers live in the area where they appraise means that our house got lumped in with foreclosures that may or may not even still have fixtures and plumbing in them. The appraisal was adjusted based on sale prices and photos from the MLS listing and supposedly adjusted for "condition".

I understand that the new rules are meant to keep collusion between lenders and appraisers from creating another bubble, but they're essentially clamping the home sale market off at the neck. If an appraiser can't separate my home from a beaten down foreclosure, or doesn't even live near my town, then something's wrong with the HVCC.



Saturday, May 09, 2009

Landlording Anyone?

Well, the house deal went down the drain and with a crappy appraisal, and a boatload of foreclosures on the market right now, we had our realtor come and get the sign out of the yard. Soon, we'll begin looking into property management companies and see what's out there that we can afford. It looks as though most operate at 10% of gross rent and that figure would put us somewhere around $50 in the hole every month depending upon taxes and insurance. I think that it's a small price to pay to have my daughter close to her extended family though. I do think that after tax season, we could break even due to our ability as landlords to write off of prop. mgmt. fees, depreciation, property taxes, and ...get to the rental for inspection/checkout. I harbor no illusions of this thing being anywhere near a cash flow situation at any time in the future. This will merely get us by until the market comes back up to our original sale price and increase our equity in the house at the same time.

Friday, May 08, 2009

It's Valued at WHAT?

Well, not only did we get jerked the hell around on the review appraisal process, good 'ol Neil Jablon, from Phoenix no less, decided that based on his intimate knowledge of the Colonia del Valle neighborhood, the prices on foreclosure fire sales with tiny lots in other parts of our neighborhood, and similar houses south of 22nd street (wrong side of the tracks), that our house is worth $30k below what we currently base our tax bill on and $40k below the appraisal that was done two weeks ago. Thanks for that ......jacka$$. I had a dim view of appraisers before we started, and this just cemented it.

Thursday, May 07, 2009'll be done TOMORROW!

Got a call from our realtor this morning and asked him to lay the heat on as needed to find out what's going on. The folks that are doing the review appraisal are out to 11 days when they said it would be 3-5 days. It appears that right in the middle of our deal, the rules regarding appraisers and lenders have changed for FHA stuff. Lenders and appraisers have to use a 3rd party middleman to assess what's going on. I understand the reasoning behind it, but dammit folks, this deal's going on 40+ days. Closing can take 45 days, but we're still in the negotiation/lending appraisal phase and this is getting to be ridiculous.

We're off to see Oma and George for lunch tomorrow and it should be a fun day.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


We've a bit of a road trip coming up whether we move or not. It'll start out in Bolton Mississippi after a family reunion on my maternal grandfather's side and end in Charlotte North Carolina. Now, I've started an itinerary for what I hope will be the five of us (CP and two of her cousins). We're big fans of Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations, so I'm using their site and the Roadside America site sources for interesting things (and oddities) that we should see. If anyone knows of anything along this route that's worth stopping and gawking at, please let me know.

Depart Bolton, MS

Stop Selma, AL
-smiley face water tower
Stop: Overnight - Montgomery, AL
-Hank Williams Museum
-Rosa Parks Museum

Depart Montgomery, AL

Stop Tuskeegee, AL
-Moton Field
Stop Gaffney, SC
-Peach Water Tower

Arrive Charlotte, NC

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Tomorrow, Tomorrow,.....

we should know tomorrow. At least we hope so. It's the deadline for the review appraisal. We're hoping that it comes in at value or close to it so that we can get on with things.

The flipper Olympics is slowing down next door since the house is listed, but the flipper put up a fence and blocked off the utility easement - today he had his lackeys taking it down. I asked him to put up a gate before he started so that I, and the utility folks, could still use it, but he did what he wanted to do and it cost him - silly flipper. I didn't even have to get involved since one of the neighbors works for the utilities folks.

We took CP to see her first movie last night. We were planning on Monsters vs. Aliens, but got there and saw that Earth was showing, so we went for that. It wasn't crowded, so we had our choice of seats and few people to annoy. Speaking of annoying, I don't know how many of you have seen Laura Schlessinger's mug on a big screen, but let me tell ya, that's quite annoying. CP did pretty well, but was tired at the end of the show and was ready to move on to bigger the escalator.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Can I Get A......

3. Hard to believe that three years ago we were sweating the labor and delivery (the wife more so than I) all seems like chump change now. The LW told CP the story of how she arrived this morning and she actually listened to it for a few minutes before becoming enamored with the video camera.

Just for grins:

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Well, we got word that the buyer's banking folks will get back to us....the day before closing. What a bunch of wizards we're dealing with here. I figure that the closing will get pushed...again and we'll be out of here by mid-may...if this deal works out.

The LW is off to get the birthday cake for the toddler. She wanted monsters, and monsters she shall have. We'll go to Aunt Carie's house and double up with Caden. Toddlers and lots of sugar, now that's a good time.

The house in Olathe has cracked walls - the outside walls. I guess that's not something Ms. Hubbard wants to put into the listing anywhere. Time-wasting realtors really chap me. My bro went by and looked at it and found cracks that he could stick his hand in. The outer wall at one corner has separated from the window sill and upper sill plate. All this could be yours if you pay GMAC $114, arse. If I owned an excavating company, I'd give them $5k for the lot, remove everything except the utility ties, and recycle it. Then I'd sit on the lot until someone wanted to give me $20k for it.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Is Today....

...the day that we find out what's going to happen around here? Could be, but there's not a magic 8-ball laying around. We're hoping to hear back from the buyer's people today about the review appraisal results and where we go from here.

There's a house in Olathe that we're sending the troops out to check out today. It's a big REO in a good 'hood. 2085sf single level ranch - full basement - pool. I think that the pool could be putting people off, but the house needs work too. Our main concern is a cracked basement because that's a deal-breaker. The house appraised at $186k in '08 and dropped to $130k in '09, probably becuase of the foreclosure. The bank is asking $114k for it. It's just been sitting a while. We're thinkin' that if it's solid, it would make a good rental later and be pretty easy to get rid of if we didn't want it anymore. It doesn't hurt that it's close to the grands, the LW's brother, and my bro.