strumzilla

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

Filtering by Tag: house

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. 


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. 

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The Framing...

a new TV series from CBS, possibly. John Deter was a honest cop, and in this town, the life expectancy of a honest cop is about, well, let's just say it's less. Less than normal. Because honesty is not valued as highly in this town, is what I'm saying. Because, criminals, obviously. Anywho...

In the context of this post it's considerably less dramatic as I'm talking about 2x6's and home construction. RC put out the frames for the foundation and they will ensure it's up to atomically precise standards with ye olde surverory rangefinder things on legs here in the next day or so. Aeyong had dropped by and snapped the pics (including the future home theatre, and yes it's spelled theatre, because I said so) and we'll go back and make sure the numbers match up with what we requested. The home theatre (see, you're not even noticing it now), is really the only critical room as far as precise measurements go. If the other rooms are generally close to what was promised we'll be fine.

I'm still working on a title for our home. I've read too many epic fantasies and played too many video games to not have a formal name. If I can't have a moat and a drawbridge I can at least have a pretentious title with a seal or something equivalently douchey.

Oh kids...

how ya doin? Anywho, not much new here. We're going to drop by the property (I haven't come up with an appropriate title for it yet, but I want it to be palatial, majestic and rocking, so I'll probably go with "our place") this evening to check stake placement. I got a voicemail from someone with RC, I think it was the dude who went over the blueprints with us (I should probably remember his name), and they need us to approve the positioning of the stakes so they can proceed.

I'm not sure if they got the updated blueprints, so before I give them the approval I will ask whether this factors in the correct home theater dimensions. I'll probably take our rangefinder with us to shoot the stakes and see if it matches up with the dimensions we're expecting. We wanted to go last night but we had an ill timed thunderstorm sweep through and I didn't particularly want to go four wheeling in the mud.

Once we approve the stakes they should be able to proceed. I guess foundation is next, although we don't know the precise schedule. We'll be meeting to discuss finishes and colors in the near future as well.

On the gear front, Winter NAMM was recently held in LA and although there's plenty of new gear to be had, I haven't seen anything especially interesting that I want to drop some plastic towards. The most important upcoming event is the impending release of the new version of Axe Edit for the AxeFx as well as firmware 10.

This firmware is supposed to employ a newer approach to analyzing and tone matching amps and cabinets and it apparently has resulted in more precise and accurate models. I honestly thought they couldn't get much better about 4 firmwares ago, and after being proven wrong four times in a row, I've quit setting limits on what they can achieve with that magical black box. Another plus is that Cliff Chase (owner and lead designer of the AxeFx and Fractal Audio) just bought a mint Dumble 100W Amp (at a hefty price, enough to get a new Corvette if I understand correctly) so I expect that to be modeled and added with FW 10 or a later update.

The Dumble is one of the all time most sought after boutique amps, used by guys like SRV, Robben Ford, and Eric Johnson. It will be interesting to get a chance to try it out, so to speak. There are no other big gear events or purchases on the horizon. I'm trying to limit any expenditures until we're settled in the new home and get an idea of where our budget is at. Plus, we're going to be paying back the loan we took on my 401K for the 2.5 years, so that's a significant deduction from my monthly take home pay currently.

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.