strumzilla

​A blog/journal about my life and the stuff I like. Popular subjects include music, guitars, gear, books, movies, video games, technology, humor.

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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. 


Blueprints discussed

We met with them yesterday (a day later than planned thanks to a long day at work courtesy of our perennially absent examiner, no names mentioned), and went through the blueprints and discussed our changes. They seemed surprised by the home theater dimensions but we were able to show them we requested 15x25 on the original documents, so they're going to fix that. We are waiting for an estimate on the cost of the bar, but they predicted it could be done for around $3K, so that's definitely worth it for us. We were able to move some lights around as they had recessed lights in several places that we didn't really care about so we changed four of them for in the home theater. We also got them to agree to install an equipment shelf on the left wall of the theater that will open up to the guest room closet and give me access to my a/v rack from behind. That should eliminate the frustration of installation and upgrades to my a/v gear in the future.

We made a few other modifications here and there but it's fairly close to what we originally requested. They predicted 10 days to get the blueprints back, so that means they'll probably not break ground until the first week or so of February. That will push us into an August completion and most likely a September closing date. Maybe they'll be able to build faster than predicted, but I'm not holding my breath. We will be having ongoing meetings with them to choose cabinets, counters, and other finishes and colors. It's nice to be involved in each step, but we always have the feeling we're missing something critical. We at least have the experience of our first house to know a little better about our preferences.

No house can be perfect because there will always be little tweaks and changes you want to make, but this house is shaping up to be really close to our ideal. This house gives us a slight case of deja vu because the front layout and kitchen area are really similar to our first home. The foyer, office, dining room, and kitchen are almost identical with only a slight difference in kitchen design. The locations are all the same, so we get the same feeling walking in the front door of this house as we did in our first house. It's probably not that uncommon because there are only so many basic home designs among all builders. Things can get decidedly different with custom builders or in other countries, but in Texas at least, the home builders only have so many stock plans and they just make tweaks to separate themselves.

Hallo there...

Not much new happening here in strumville. We did go ahead and sign the build contract and we're moving forward with the home in Mustang Creek. We've done the preliminary design and we meet with them tomorrow to see the blueprints, to which we're already going to make some tweaks. We asked for a 15x25 home theater (we now have a 13x20, and it's a decent size but needs a little more elbow and furniture room) and the blueprints are showing a 16x22 which is dangerously close to a bad ratio with the 10 foot high ceilings. I don't profess to really know what I'm talking about, but in acoustic room design you never want to have a size dimension that's half/double of one of the others. This creates standing sound waves which I think is equivalent to feedback which can be a serious detriment to good sound mixing. 19-21 feet is a no fly zone with the 10 foot ceilings, so we're going to insist on the 15x25 that we requested (the inner dimension, not the outer walls).

We're also asking them to add a bar to the rear of the home theater and I have a feeling that's going to add another $5K to the price at least, but if they can do it for that much, we'll get it done. We're hoping to make this home a true turnkey experience where we don't have any sense that we should change things substantially. There will always be tweaks over time, but we're hoping they'll mostly be cosmetic diy projects that we can handle and not major home renovations. We're hoping to get our dream home that we'll be satisfied with in the long run.

We move forward

It's Friday or 금요일 as our allies in the Pacific Rim are fond of saying. By the way, the trailer for Pacific Rim came out this week and it looks tasty. Directed by Guillermo Del Toro (who has done some great work in the past) but produced by Michael Bay this thing looks like a Transformers meets Godzilla type flick but with Del Toro directing, it's sure to have his very crafty spin on it.

We're about to pull the trigger on getting a new house. We sold the Killeen house in September and we were contemplating waiting for a few years but we've decided we don't want to wait too long and have the interest rates and housing prices start to climb back up on us. We may be proven wrong, but I don't think mortgage rates can go much lower than now at ~3%. We've been looking at some acre sized properties in a few newish developments in Benbrook since we moved here and we've settled on Mustang Creek.

We're meeting with Royal Crest Custom Homes next week and will try and get the ball rolling. Luckily the owner of our current rental house has agreed to let us stay a few months past the current lease if the house can't be completed by July 1st. I have a feeling since it's already mid-December that it will be July or later before it can be finished. We're stretching our comfort zone on the price but we're essentially getting our dream home and we should be comfortable staying there indefinitely barring some major unforeseen event or change in our status.

Aeyong is getting a larger property which will give her the freedom to further develop her green thumbs & fingers and it will also be a great boon to our four legged children. Probably the nicest part of a larger plot for me is the separation from your next door neighbors. Less concern about wearing out my welcome via Les Paul. We're going to have a home theater as well as a nice covered patio with outdoor kitchen and fireplace. We're going for upgraded finishes inside as well to include granite countertops in kitchen/bathrooms and scrubbed hardwood in the office/dining/living rooms. I'll get a bonus room above the garage for my glorified music studio. It's a bit odd shaped by the square footage is large enough that I should have plenty of room.

It's probably a lot more house than we need, but our home has always been the one great investment/expenditure that we both agreed on being the top priority. We like to get out and travel, see concerts, etc. but we're homebodies at heart. Hopefully we're going to finally be planting roots after 25 years.

On the concert calendar (how could I not include a concert calendar update? it's like the daily weather), we're going to be seeing Yes and then Jim Gaffigan on back to back nights in March. Fleetwood Mac also went on sale this week for a June show at AA center but by the time I found out about it the AMEX presale was a few days old and all the great seats had already been snatched up by the online scalpers. We may skip this one unless we can get a decent deal, which is too bad since we haven't seen FMac since 2004 and Aeyong likes them, which can't always be said about the shows we attend. The Yes show has yet another different new lead singer from a Yes cover band that started touring with them this year when Benoit David took ill. I hear good reports, but it would be nice if they could just work things out with Jon Anderson. Nevertheless, it's still Steve Howe, Chris Squire, Alan White, and Geoff Downes and they are going to be playing The Yes Album, Close to the Edge, and Going for the One in succession. That means I'll get to hear CTTE and Awaken live for the first time, which will be very cool.