Thursday, February 23, 2006

This one's got potential huh?
This decor was intended for the blind, presumably.
House number one, the funky church. This is the living room?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Jennifer and I had the super-duper experience of shopping for houses. As it turns out, we can afford dumps. I guess you could also call them crap-holes or shanties, but dump is probably as good a word as any. The first place we looked at, listed for $115K was a storefront church, complete with drumset and 15 seats as well as a resident homeless man and some serious mildew. The next house was furnished with nothing save some blankets, a few boxes of Sugar Pops and two TVs being watched by the current residents, a mother and her two 10-year-old boys. The next house had some possibility, primarily because no one was living there, though it was about 10 dumpster loads away from being refurbishable. The next two houses we went to were liveable, albeit decorated by either Herman Munster or speed-freaks alternately. At last, our shining hope in a more-or-less desirable neighborhood turned out to have a 15 degree slant to the kitchen floor. Oh well, you can't have everything you want.

As it stands, we're planning on continuing the search, finding a nicer crap-hole, fixing it up and moving into it sometime over the summer. I guess I should brush up on my carpentry skills. We'll need them if we want to live in an actual house rather than a rat-hole.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

For the first time in about 3 years I rode a criterium. The circuit is run around a large oval of roads in Fairmount park here in Philly. Overall, about 30 riders showed up, then we divided into two groups, faster and slower. Everyone was supposed to have a blinking light as the ride didn't start until 6:30. Surprisingly few of the riders had headlights though, I was one of two in my group. Being rather out of shape and not having done much real cycling in a while, I took up with the slow group. Sprints were held every 5 laps and I expected some competition from the bigger guys, maybe even from one of the 3 women in my group. As it tuns out, I KICKED ASS! Oh yeah, I was like, totally faster than anyone else in the slow group. I totally laid the smack down on all of those beginniers and weekend-warrior racers. I got special satisfaction out of blasting past the spaz who bumped me as we went around the second lap. Actually, I felt a lot like Andy Kaufman wrestling women to the ground. I, however, didn't taunt anyone.

After 2 years of participating primarily in sports and activities that I suck at: downhill skiing, rock climbing, speaking Japanese, I really enjoyed not coming in at the bottom of my chosen activity. It's refreshing to know that I have some modest skill in a form of athletics. I'm really looking forward to joining up with a club here and getting my wheels back, as it were. Viva Philly! May the good times roll!!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

It finally snowed enough to go skiing on. At last, at long last, I was able to go cross country skiing. With luck I'll be able to go at least once more before the snow melts into a giant slushy heap. It was unfortunate that the snow prevented Meghan and Brendan from experiencing the joy that is a Philly Cheese steak. I guess we'll have to save it for next time. B and Meghan arrived yesterday morning, we toured a brewery, chilled out, and then had ourselves some delicious home-made goodies courtesy of Jennifer. Plus, I've figured out this recipe for some damn fine soup, soup of the gods, in fact.
Anyway, just rambling a bit, but the winter olympics are nice to have on TV for a change, though it made me realize, again, that there are no snowy mountain peaks anywhere near here. Dammit.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Jennifer and I contacted a realtor the other day. We're thinking of the "next big thing". Marriage you ask? Heck no! Why, we're just waiting for the common-law statutes to kick in and then we'll be set I think. We're planning on being here for the next 5 years, give or take. Jennifer's job is really working out well, she was just asked if she wanted to be published, if so, one of her co-workers could put something her way if she wanted. Now that all my materials are in, I do the waiting game for grad school. I'm psyched about the idea of working on something more meaningful than selling clothes at an "Outdoor-chic" store like EMS. Work is going well though, I'm figuring out the perks and making friends.

Anyway, back to this house thing, Jennifer and I want to buy one. It's like the biggest toy you can get, aside from a yacht or a child. I like the idea of fixing up a place and making it work for me. I really want a workshop where I can put all my bicycles, tools, gear etc. It would also be sweet to build my own little rock climbing gym. These things are simply right out for a renter, however. Additionally, I'm getting tired of fixing stuff in this apartment. I'd rather do it for myself, and be able to reap the benefit, rather than turing it over to my landlord at the end of our stay. It's just not worth it to fix your own apartment. Lastly, Jennifer's saved up a heap of cash from Japan and work elsewhere, and I'm totally out of debt, at least until grad school kicks in. Now that I'm working part time, and the "spending moratorium" has been in place for a while, we can work on getting pre-approved for a loan and then checking out some places. The key variable is sketchy neighborhood vs. cost and standard of living. There are some damn cheap houses in Philly. Like 3 bedroom places for $20,000. Of course they're right in the "Little Beirut" neighborhood, so you get what you pay for. Or, you can get a condo close to downtown, 400 square feet for something like $250,000. Take your pick.

Oh yeah, homeowners out there, gimme all your inside advice. I want to come to this hunt armed to the teeth, if you know what I mean. Jesse Ventura in Predator style. Knowledge will be my machine gun! Viva Cuba! Viva mortgage de quatro percento!!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Good news all around.
Jennifer and I passed an enjoyable weekend in DC. Emi was out visiting and Brendan made his usual appearance, hung over as he tends to be whenever we're in town. Friday night was the best as he passed out on the couch, muttering things like, "But...who's gonna put him into the car-seat?" Ahh, good times.

Next, I got some good news from home, Asa is actually going to be able to skip the impending surgery, he's healed up quite nicely. The freaky part was, apparently, pulling out the various tubes that had been embedded in his body to aid his recovery. There was a PICC line from his upper arm into one of his coronary arteries and also a drain for the pus in his side. The doctors yanked those out and the boy is on his way to recovering from a week and a half out of school.

As for me, Jennifer managed to get me a bottle of Sake from the liquor store downtown, and let me tell you what... I am in flavor country! I've been missing my rice-wine something fierce. Not only that, but I made a flippin' awesome fish chowder. Probably the best soup I've ever made, and one of the best soups I've ever eaten. Now, if only I can duplicate it.