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A busy two weeks

It's the Saturday after I completed my first two weeks as a fee basis (contractor) examiner for the VA in essentially the same job I was performing previously. I worked a total of seven days over two weeks and completed a record (for me) of 161 exams. This will result in a take home pay of about four times what I typically make. I don't necessarily think this workload will be typical, and I don't plan on working any more than three days a week going into the future as I was on the verge of burning myself out after four straight days of full speed ahead. I think it is feasible I could maintain an average of 60 a week with one week off a month for a monthly average of 180ish. Doing the math, this would put me right at the max salary for a year. I could earn more, but I'm pretty sure they wouldn't authorize any more.

At this rate, I think it's completely feasible to pay off the house in five years and move forward with our plan to have a home on 1-2 acres on the outskirts as well as getting my dedicated music studio built. This will largely depend on a continued steady supply of exams from work. The proposed presidential budget, as corrupt, lopsided, and tunnel visioned as it is, does allow for an increase in funding for the VA, so at least for the near future work should be plentiful. I'm hoping I may look back at this post some day in 5-10 years to confirm my projections were close. It's possible the timeline could be even shorter if they keep supplying me with exams. In the present environment, I'm not having any problems getting extra exams. I was even turning down a few every day last week because I was already swamped with 20+ exams each day. The lazy and ambivalent federalistas in my department are now a source of extra income for me, so as long as they stay around I should have no problem keeping my dance card full. 

Hey Folks

And by folks, I refer to the singular. It's been a fairly action packed few months. I was really busy with school in the fall semester, especially near the end. I discovered that the workload and complexity of the courses as I proceed through my degree plan were increasing to the point that I was burning myself out. I managed to pull off the grades, but I felt I was sacrificing true understanding and deeper absorption of some really important concepts. So, in reaction I have decreased my courseload to two going forward. The heavier courseload was predicated by my (I think now, false) assumption that I needed to take a full courseload to receive all of my GI Bill benefits. I had actually been told that by multiple advisors at Berklee, but I managed to get the supervisor of financial aid to weigh in and he said otherwise.  Apparently taking two courses for 3 months would be the same as taking four courses for 1.5 months. I won't know for sure until I look at my explanation of benefits after this semester is complete, but I think it's accurate. It's a huge relief and weight off my shoulders. I'm not taking these courses at Berklee just to check a box or get a certificate. I'm taking them because I truly want to learn this material. 

There's not much new to report at work, same behavior from the same jackasses. I compiled a DBQ report for October which essentially was unchanged from the report a year ago. Submitting this report to dickless did result in more maneuvering as expected and he actually endorses the idea of counting exams for providers in the interest of capturing workload. That being said, it's apparent that the same non-performers are being protected and given credit for "other duties" which essentially means they're getting a pass since he's unwilling to grow a pair and actually do his job. I'm not surprised, it's essentially what I expected from him. My only faint hope is that eventually when the contract supports runs out (if it does) he'll be left to explaining why the clinic can't meet the demand to his bosses. He probably already has detailed plans on how he'll tap dance his way out of that scenario if/when the day comes. I just can't bring myself to give a shit what he and the other oxygen thieves are getting up to. Life's too short.

On the homefront, we finally got Aeyong her new car, a 2016 Toyota Highlander. It worked out pretty well, and it's a really feature packed nice car. We traded in the Ranger, so I've got the Pathfinder now. We saw Patton Oswalt and Kathleen Madigan on back to back nights at the Majestic last month, and they were both hilarious. I got a cool one off poster that was made for Patton's Majestic show featuring him as various Star Wars characters. On that theme, I've mostly gotten all the concert and music posters framed and put up in the drum room as well as the upstairs living room. I bought four different framed artists renderings of Jimmy Page, David Bowie (as a statue head from the Man Who Fell to Earth), Kate Bush in a sort of airbrushed painting from the back photo of Hounds of Love (probably my all time favorite photo of her), and then an alternate view of Battersea Power Station (from Animals) in black & white with a small colorized flying pig. I think it's the same photographer who shot the album cover, just an alternate view. 

Continuing in the home decorating theme, I sort of grabbed the torch from Aeyong and attached jet packs to my feet before taking off. Aeyong had bought a Daenerys Targaryen doll from one of the local stores a year or two ago. We had incrementally bought these little pop figures (cartoonish versions) of the other GOT characters in the subsequent months. I had seen an article or video showing various Star Wars characters from The Force Awakens, and this led to more exploration into miniatures and figurines. I added several pop figures from TFA including Rey, Finn, Kylo Ren and Captain Phasma. This led to further investigation, and long story short, I've ordered several miniatures from Star Wars, LOTR, and GOT. This includes premium versions of Darth Vader, C3PO/R2D2, and Rey with BB8. The pop figures are little rubber/plastic dolls and fairly cheap, but the premium format figures are made of quite sturdy material and feature multiple poses, articulations, working lights, etc. 

I have some cool versions of Tyrion and Arya that we've already received. Also coming is a miniature of Strider (it's called Aragorn, but he's definitely in ranger mode with this figure). I also have ordered some really cool Weta miniatures and artwork. The biggest is a huge miniature of Smaug laying on his pile of gold with a tiny Bilbo underneath. I'm also getting a miniature of Bag End, and I've got my eyes on Minas Tirith. We're also getting some lovely prints of various LOTR/Hobbit scenes - a wide angle Bag End with Gandalf at the door, a close up of Bilbo looking out the front door, a wide angle of the Argonath with the fellowship in canoes crossing the water, and a shot of the meeting pavilion from the Hobbit where Gandalf, Elrond, Galadriel and Saruman held their dawn counsel. 

The really cool thing is that Aeyong is into it, and actually wants to display the artwork and miniatures around the house. My first instinct is to keep most of it in the home theater area, but ultimately we're going to run out of room and it will naturally spread. I don't care if this fits with the better homes and gardens of vacuous assholes aesthetic. This is the stuff we're into, and we can do what we want with our house. It's a bit childish I suppose, but in a repeating theme for this blog and my adult life, I still like the stuff I liked as a teenager and I learned a long time ago to do what makes me happy not what meets other's approval. Stephen King made a comment in an updated preface for a comprehensive version of the Dark Tower series (which I've finally got around to reading, mea culpa) that his adult personality and tastes were basically established by age 19. I think that's essentially true. I know most of the stuff I really value was already present in some shape by that age. I've expanded my tastes a bit and I've accumulated a lot more music, books, movies, etc. in the intervening years, but I essentially still love the same stuff.  Continuing the geek acquisition theme, I got a really cool Marvel Graphic Novelish omnibus of the Dark Tower series that I need to hold off until I finish the proper series. I'm on the Waste Lands at present. I had gotten on a bit of a coffee table book kick in the last year which included Jimmy Page's photo biopic, the Kate Bush photo book created by her brother, a comprehensive three volume set of my favorite webcomic Ctrl - Alt - Del and several others. My geekdom spreads its tendrils like kudzu. 

I've gotten some new albums over the past few months. I especially love Beck's 2014 album (yes, the one Kanye had to interrupt the Grammy presentation about), Morning Phase. This is easily one of my favorite albums, and it's gone on the stress reduction anti-depressant album list (sharing space with the LOTR soundtracks, Zero 7, Metheny, Emmanuel and a few others). I've also added a few more Radiohead albums, and I really love Kid A.  I went back and got three Big Audio Dynamite albums as well as The Big Heat by Stan Ridgway. This was after Matt had posted several 1985 era tunes on Facebook. I had forgotten how much I loved that music. This isn't the complete list, but I also added Mozart's Requiem and Symphone Fantastique by Berlioz. 

The past few months saw some devastating losses, but one positive addition. In music we lost David Bowie, Lemmy, Scott Weiland, and several other key musicians. In my personal life, we had to have Bridget put to sleep in November. She was 15 years old, and the small benign growth on her abdomen had grown so large it was affecting her movement, breathing, and she was beginning to behave erratically.  We grew concerned that she would hurt herself, as she was doing things that didn't make any sense. Aeyong was finding her digging in the back yard for hours in the early hours of the morning. She just seemed confused and not herself in the past few months. She didn't seem comfortable or happy anymore and we had to make the hard decision. We had a similar experience with Lucy. Once they got to the point that their personalities changed and they no longer seemed comfortable, it was time to let them go. It's still the hardest thing we've had to go through. These are our children, and as much as I loved and miss my parents, their loss didn't hit us as hard as losing our pets. The silver lining is that we noticed our two other dogs were missing her (unsurprisingly), but we also have grown accustomed to a three dog dynamic since we first got April in 2007.  So, on that note, I charged Aeyong with finding us a new puppy. She looked at several shelters and eventually found our new chihuahua (mix?), aptly named Skittles. She could have also been called skittish or skitters, but Skittles seemed appropriate. She was a rescue and she still has some of that street mentality (she apparently wasn't fed well and has a predilection for plants, acorns and various other flora). She is a sweetheart and I think she knows she is a member of our family now. 

I would be remiss if I didn't further discuss one of the most devastating losses I've ever experienced as a fan of music and the creative arts in general. Two days after the release of Blackstar (on his 69th birthday), David Bowie suddenly passed from this world. Apparently well aware he had terminal cancer, David composed and produced this album as a sort of swan song and parting message, and it's proven to be an amazing piece of work. I can't give the album an adequate review in this space, and neither can I adequately express how much David and his work meant to me. I'll do my best in the future, through spoken word and music alike. For what it's worth, his loss has proven to be just as devastating for artists around the world of every age and genre. Almost anyone of note has expressed their immense sadness at his loss and the profound effect he had on their lives. The number of tribute songs and covers are too numerous to count. I have been working on versions of his music for years, and so a short term plan (which was already in the works long before he passed) is to put together a cover version of "Life on Mars" with me performing all the parts including vocals. This project derived from a desire to put together an audition for the Music Composition program with Berklee (I'm currently in the Music Production program, but want to dual major), but it's also been a long term goal to further my musicianship, production, etc. skills in being able to cover entire tunes by myself. Life on Mars was one of a few select tunes that I felt capable of not making a complete ass of myself in the process. We'll see. 

Loaded and ready for action...

To quote Stewart Copeland from the heretofore best documentarish video concerning the Police (The Police Around the World).  

In this case, I think he was making a joke about his clothing choices, but in my case I'm actually referring to a firearm. After 46 years (including 23 in the Army), I finally purchased a handgun. It was disturbingly easy to do so. Since moving to Grand Prairie, we hear about more recurring criminal events that are closer to home (luckily our subdivision is actually pretty quiet and calm) and we were faced with the reality that despite a monitored security system, dogs, and door/window locks, we still weren't prepared if anyone ever broke in and was armed.  

I'm very familiar with both rifles and handguns, having carried and qualified on a regular basis during my 23 years in the Army. Despite this, I've always been philosophically against firearms in the hands of private citizens, since I can't see any justification for their possession other than to kill or harm. I'm a realist in that there's no benefit from outlawing guns at this point, because then it would just be the criminals with easy access to firearms. It is surprising that you can just walk into dealer, fill out a two page form, and within about 5 minutes you're the legal owner of a firearm. 

I'm hoping we only ever get to shoot it at the range, but despite being philosophically opposed to gun ownership, I'm even more opposed of the idea of my wife or myself facing down an armed intruder with a steak knife or a golf club. We got a Glock 19, which is a very reliable handgun and is widely used by military and law enforcement. It's not particularly pretty, but it gets the job down and it will deliver enough rounds to stop someone who decides to ignore the security alarm sign, the locked doors/windows, the security alarm itself,  and my dogs. 

I'll be taking Aeyong to the range and getting her comfortable with it. I'll most likely eventually buy a second gun for her and we'll probably get certified for the concealed handgun license. I don't see myself ever embracing the gun advocate/NRA lifestyle, but it's just the reality of our society that handguns are so prevalent, and if you're facing down a gunman, you don't want to be wishing you had a gun, because by then it's too late. 

Hey there sports fans...

A bit of a gap since the last update, as it happens. I've been back to work for the past 5 weeks, after a 3 week "vacation" in which we moved into our new home. Everything went relatively smoothly with the move with no significant problems. Along the way we cleared our rental and managed to get our security deposit back. I also managed to get in a fender bender on the day before we cleared the house. Luckily there were no injuries and my truck only sustained minor damage (I had to replace the passenger side mirror). My only official wreck in 30 years of driving (I may have been pulled into the magnetic field of a parking lot light pole many, many years ago. But that wasn't officially recognized by any municipal authorities) (probably because they weren't aware).  

We spent most of the 3 weeks trying to get the house in running order. We made some furniture and other household upgrades to include a new living room sectional sofa (aka Aeyong's new bed), nice tool bench/cabinet for the garage, 3 new ceiling fans, a metric crapton of additional network and speaker wiring, and multiple landscaping upgrades (flowers, shrubs, trees).  We also bought a new refrigerator and washer/dryer. It's a good thing we got our earnest money back from the Royal Crest Conundrum (that's the official historical title, mind) because we burned through that and more. 

We still have many upgrades planned for the future, but it will be a process over many years. We'll eventually add a patio, pergola, and outdoor kitchen to the backyard, but that's probably several years down the road. In the near term, we have two years to pay ourselves back for the 401K loan we had to take out to sell the Killeen house. We also plan on getting a new car (the first in 8 years) for Aeyong and I'll take the Pathfinder for the work commute. We don't want to add the car payment on until we clear the 401K loan. We could afford the new car now, but we adopted a pay as you go (not counting the house sale) policy many years ago, and we try not to carry any more debt than is necessary. A mortgage and a car loan are about our comfortable limit, for anything else we pay in cash. Since we have the outstanding 401K loan, we'll wait on the car. This policy allows us to live comfortably and still maintain the lifestyle we are accustomed to living. 

Music wise I went to see Slash at the Gigantour in Dallas. Great show as usual, if a bit shorter than normal since it was a festivalish show. I also saw Device which is the singer from Disturbed and I think a dude from Evanescence. They were pretty good. I also saw Hellyeah ? which is Vinnie Paul's band. I regret wearing sandals and being against the front of the stage. Total rookie move, by the way, but most bands I go see don't motivate the mosh as much. Black Label Society seemed good, although I'll be damned if I understood a word he sang or could really hear what he was playing. I skipped out on the headliner, Megadeth. I have Peace Sells, but I have never really gotten into Mustaine's singing or the music for that matter. 

We also saw Rodrigo & Gabriel at the newish? ATT Performing Arts Center in Dallas. They put on a good show like the last time we saw them in Austin, although they had a bit more set dressing. The audience seemed primarily composed of the hoity toity who have the disposable income to see and be seen in the arts district. My concert t-shirt was decidedly below the expected (not enforced) dress code of the cognoscenti.  It is a nice theater to see a show, though. We're going back in November to see Harry Connick for the first time in ten years. He's touring his latest album, and we're hoping he'll actually throw in some old hits. We previously saw him on a Christmas tour, and that was all that he played. No hits or non Christmas tunes (not counting about 30 seconds of Sweet Georgia Brown on the piano). 

Speaking of artists we haven't seen in a long while, we're going to see Steely Dan for the first time in, wait for it, ten years tomorrow night. They're not touring an album, but seeing how seldom they tour, we wanted to make sure we caught them. We have total nosebleeds since I wasn't sure prior to the move if we would be going and waited until several weeks after they went on sale to buy them. We'll be taking advantage of the video screens I'm sure. 

There's more to update, but I'm already running out of electrons at this point. 


We're on closing eve, and if all goes well we will find ourselves sleeping in our new digs tomorrow night. Not a lot has happened since the last update other than the incremental process of buying the house. We've already purchased our appliances and scheduled all the utility/etc. transfers as well as house/carpet cleaning for the rental we're departing. Every move seems a bit more tedious since we have been mostly moving to bigger places with each move which means we have more room for stuff. On that note, I did buy the Port City OS 2x12 cab I had been discussing. Daniel Klein from Port City had traded a few emails with me when I had asked a question on their website so he contacted me when he had a show demo cab that he couldn't sell as new and offered me a decent ($125) discount. I knew I was most likely going to get one of these cabs this year, so it seemed worth it although I really wanted to wait until after we moved. I like the cab, but I've been having mixed results with the AxeFx. I think there are probably a finite number of amp heads that are ideally suited for the cab, and the patches probably need to be created from the ground up. I'll be working on that in the new house. 

After we close tomorrow the plan is to pick up a uhaul truck and self move the essentials as well as the fragile/expensive stuff we don't want to put in the hands of the movers. The real move will be a week from tomorrow, but we plan on living in the new home starting tomorrow night. We will load up the king size bed, as well as most of our clothing and kitchen items. I'm also going to be taken all the home theater gear as I need to re-wire the theater and it will give me something to do this weekend after we've moved our essentials. We've done some of the minor needed repairs to the rental (patching & painting drywall). We're hiring a house cleaning company as well as a carpet cleaning company to come through once we've had time to get all of our stuff out. I'll need to give the lawn a final mow/trim/edge probably the day before the movers come. 


the earnest money is. Now we can put that chapter behind us and move forward with the Grand Prairie house. We're supposed to meet with the mortgage banker this week and hopefully we can close by the end of June and move in early July. I'm already approved for 3 weeks of leave in July so hopefully we can get everything moved and resolved by the time I need to return to work.

Earnest money

We picked up a check for the full earnest money yesterday. It won't fully sink in until we deposit the check and see our balance increase accordingly. It was an "interesting" but brief exhange with Dean Smith, the "co-owner".  After we signed the release statement and he handed us the check, I just briefly expressed our thanks for them returning the full amount. His response was not so much a response but a mild apoplectic pause in which he grimaced, nodded downward several times and made some guttural noises that may have been an attempt at a retort that his good conscience immediately shut down in the interest of self preservation.

Aeyong hit the nail on the head when she later said she thought he was upset by the cancellation because it would make him lose face at the company. While we were never given specific details, we did deduce that the company was primarily owned by an apparently very wealthy man/family. We know that the sales rep we dealt with is the granddaughter of said owner, and it was discussed during some of the meetings that the owner retained mineral rights for all the subdivision and other parcels of land he owns, which are apparently considerable.

We believe Mr Smith runs the day to day operations and is considered as the "co-owner" but it appears he's a minority owner and that final decisions rest in the hands of the real owner. Case in point is our earnest money. Based on his response yesterday, and every other time we've dealt with him, he's never inclined to refund or discount money. We strongly believe that the owner must have read our response and made the decision to fully refund our earnest money because of all the errors that were made by the granddaughter and Mr Smith. 

I have a feeling that Mr Smith isn't accustomed to customers cancelling contracts when he screws up, and this situation has probably brought down his stock a few notches. Maybe we're reading too much into it, but I can safely say that he wasn't happy with us getting the money back, on that I have no doubt. 

Don't count your chickens...

but we're getting the preliminary offer from Royal Crest to refund us our earnest money. I say preliminary until I see the balance in our checking account go up by $11K. We're pleased by the offer, and surprised. The pessimist in me thinks they must have some offers on the property and know they won't be losing any money. In fact, they may be able to make more money with the changes in the market. In the meantime we've essentially decided on a different new home in Grand Prairie built by First Texas Homes, which is a builder we've been looking at for a long time. We were very close to buying from them when we decided to go with Royal Crest. We're meeting with their sales rep and our realtor tomorrow to most likely sign a contract. 


Awaiting feedback

We have been funneling all of our issues through our realtor including our intention to cancel. Yesterday we got a request from Royal Crest to summarize all of our problems with the home build. Reviewing old emails I typed up a 6 page narrative of what led us to request a cancellation of the contract. We sent it back through the realtor last night and we're waiting to hear their response. I don't have high expectations.

The bottom line is the contract states they can keep most of the earnest money with the exception of $1000 if we cancel and I honestly will be surprised if they agree to do anything that isn't legally required. I re-read my narrative this morning and while I'm biased and I may not see it from their point of view, after reading the summary I can't imagine anyone not agreeing to compensate us in some way.

We will accept either a full refund of the earnest money or to have them finish the home to our desire without charging anything additional. This would have to include fencing the backyard, and the standard landscape package. 

Based on their previous actions, I will be really surprised if they try to accommodate us in any fashion. I fully expect to look elsewhere for our future home and I'll also be surprised if we recover any money.

Calling it off

We're waiting to hear back from the builder, but we're essentially going to cancel the contract on the house. We have had a succession of problems with the house, mostly in that the house we requested in the beginning has slowly veered down a path of the builder's choosing and away from what we wanted.

The biggest problem (as I think I previously posted) was the kitchen layout being designed inadequately to accommodate what we wanted. We ultimately had to give up an additional countertop/cabinet extension we requested because they simply failed to design the room to fit our request. The frustration is compounded by the the amount of time I spent researching kitchen layouts until I found a picture that not only explicitly showed what I wanted, but also would have fit their pre-existing design without too much adjustment. 

Essentially we've learned that when building a custom home, you better make sure that all (and I mean ALL) of your preferences are very precisely described and documented in your contract or you will not get them. We had the same issue with the type of flooring (we wanted 5in hand scraped and they only included 3in, so we had to pay more), the outdoor kitchen (we requested a kitchen and showed them a picture of what we wanted, but we didn't get them to print "barbecue grill" specifically, so we had to pay for that ourselves), the size of the back patio (we originally had the home theater pointing towards the back of the property but we changed the alignment by 90 degrees and in the process lost a big chunk of porch space that the builder failed to correct and we ended up having to pay for additional concrete). They were also going to charge us more for lower height carpet in the home theater and bonus rooms although this was in our initial request (but not on the magical contract). 

There have been other issues as well and the consistent stance of the builder is that if it's not described specifically in the contract, it wasn't agreed upon and the buyer pays. This despite their promises that we could have all we were requesting in the initial meeting. We learned that those promises are empty if they're not on the contract. 

We haven't gotten their response yet, but I'm expecting they're going to withhold any of the upgrades after the contract (home theater bar, concrete, hardwood floors, stone) so we'll probably end up getting only $3-4K of our $11K earnest money.


if you don't watch Game of Thrones (or better yet, if you haven't read the books by George R.R. Martin) that will make absolutely no sense. Translate: more photos. Back to the subject of GOT, holy sheepshank, Batman!! They did it, they actually didn't change Jaime Lannister's unfortunate outcome from ASOS. I would have been somewhat surprised and very disappointed if they had, but that is such a critical plot point in the overall arch of the series that I was actually worried they might change it. For the Stephen King fans, just think Misery (book version) in the upper extremity.

Anywhens, here's a few more photos. We ran cat6 & coaxial to 4 additional locations on Saturday. The standard package includes 3 locations and we had chosen the theatre, living room and master bedroom. The A/V guy (who I lovingly refer to as Goober the fat ass from the 19th century), wanted an additional $40 per line and he wasn't going to consider Cat6 or anything else foreign sounding to his delicate southern ears. It was a little more pain in the assy than desired, but the process was significantly easier than it would have been after drywall is installed. And we saved a donation of $320 bucks for Goober's beer/bbq fund. We ran drops to both guest bedrooms, the office, and the bonus room. We skipped the library(dining room), garage, and patio. We considered those, but the only place I'm likely to install anything later will be the patio and they already installed sideboarding since the patio is an exterior.

I don't actually anticipate needing a TV out there, but I can see listening to music, so I may eventually install a couple of in ceiling speakers, but that area is fairly easy to access from the attic, so when the time comes it should be relatively painless. Also, while we were running our wires, the gas line contractor installed the lines for the cooktop, indoor fireplace, and outdoor grill.


More updates

They finished the roof for all practical purposes. We had to meet yesterday to do the pre-electrical walk through as well as meet with the A/V guy (Randy). During the electrical walkthrough we discovered that Ben was planning for a small countertop at the edge of the kitchen when we initially requested a regular size countertop. This is what we showed them in the pre-construction meeting, but for some reason that's not what the architect saw or put on the plans. Ben the builder was anticipating the smaller shelf size as well as a single level island (we wanted a two level) and that's actually what was on the blueprints. I'm learning the hard way how to interpret blueprints now.

We're meeting with him this afternoon to work out a compromise so we can get the layout we want without ruining the ergonomics and workflow of the kitchen. The A/V guy is apparently stuck sometime in the early 2000s and wanted to wire the house based on his needs and not ours. We're just going to get the standard package and then update as needed in the future, because this guy wants to charge about triple what we would need to do it ourselves and he's suggesting technology that is outdated right now, and we're trying to plan for 10-20 years in the future.

Our realtor is interceding with the builder and we've gotten promises of satisfaction, but we'll see what that means. We were on the fence about just absorbing the earnest money and moving on, but we've decided to see what RC does to rectify the problems. It's also not insignificant that the market conditions are not going to improve as the housing market in this part of the country, and even moreso in our specific little patch of southwest Fort Worth is only increasing in demand and value. If we pass on this house and rent another year, we may lose quite a bit of buying power.

All that being said, not everything or even most things are going poorly. The electrical contractor/owner actually came out after work hours to do the walkthrough with us since I can't get out of work until 4ish. He was very accommodating and he actually had some insight and suggestions related to the house/kitchen layout that were very inciteful, even if not directly related to the wiring. Ben the builder was feeling bad about the kitchen miscommunication and he was offering us some changes/upgrades in an attempt at damage control (I think). He gave us a vent in the media server closet as well as an extra light in the bonus room. We got separate circuits for the media room, bonus room, and the treadmill in the garage.

HVAC, more plumbing

The roof is essentially finished, and they have started on the HVAC ducting, some plumbing. They reframed the fireplace as it was originally in the wrong spot, and they framed out the home theater bar although it's smaller than we want. We have asked Ben the builder to frame it two feet wider so it will accommodate three people across. They also gave us some bonus storage space under the bonus room stairs.

More framing

A few more in progress shots to include our installed well. The house is beginning to take shape. It's cool how you can see the arch of the living room within the arch of the roof. You can also start to see the shape of my bonus room above the garage. We decided to pass on having a chimney as it would be superfluous with a gas fireplace and just be another maintenance item but with no function. The outdoor fireplace is a regular wood burner but it's self contained and doesn't pass through the roof.