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: housing

Zee latest...

Got back to work this week after a very nice extended Thanksgiving holiday. We spent T-Day with le fam at my sister Debbie's house. All in all a decent day. The Cowboys found a way to lose to the skins at home on T-Day, which is apropos of the last 15 years. The highlight of the break was seeing Rush on their Clockwork Angels tour at AA center in Dallas. We went for the VIP tix and weren't disappointed. We got 3rd row center just a few seats off center of mass for Neil's drum kit, but with a perfect view regardless. Luckily we had a short lady in front of us, so Aeyong had an unobstructed view which is a rarity on the floor for her. It was a great show with an 80's centric set list which I initially wasn't thrilled about but I eventually warmed up to the idea and it was really nice hearing some of those tunes for the first time in a long time. It was about 27 years ago when I saw Rush at Reunion Arena for their Power Windows tour and a few of those tunes hadn't been played since that tour. Even better, they filmed this tour's DVD in Dallas & Phoenix (and the rumor is that it will be mostly Dallas) so we'll have a video record of the show to enjoy in the future. I've only had that experience once before, at the Crossroads Guitar Festival in Dallas and out of that whole video I probably only attended 50% of those shows in person. There's a chance we may even be able to spot ourselves in the crowd shots since we were that close, so we're looking forward to that as well, although I'm not holding my breath.

We're trying to move forward on the housing front. We've had a few back & forths with a local custom home builder and they are quoting a bit high for our preference at this point. Hopefully we can talk them down to our range and get the house we want. If so, we may be moving in to a new home this summer. Time will tell. There's still a bit of uncertainty about the housing market and mortgage rates. Everything points to a rebound (it's already happening essentially) and that means housing costs and mortgage rates will rise. The big uncertainty revolves around the "fiscal cliff" looming for our government and the good chance that tax rates will increase across the board. If this happens I expect home sales to flatten out and we may be better off waiting to see if the prices will drop again. All that being said, if this builder will respond to our requests and give us our minimums within our price range, we'll probably press Go.

I think since the last post I moved some things around in the music room. I decided to bring the roland piano back onto the desk so I would be more inclined to play it and to give me access to a full 88 key midi instrument as well for recording. I also started practicing bass again. I had focused on acoustic for several weeks in preparation for my grandmother's memorial service back in August and I hadn't ever gotten back to my regular schedule of piano in the morning and then bass for about 30 min to start off my evening practice session. I'm still trying to work on the songs I was putting together for my "Guitar Hero" (not the game) project. That is a slow process since I'm exploring a few songs that involve relatively new techniques for me. Just "Rock Around The Clock" alone is quite the challenge. It's a very fast, clean solo and there's nothing to hide behind when you play it. You either play it right or it's obvious if you don't. Similar to many acoustic songs in that respect.

There's been such a large amount of transition in my practice area, computers, gear and practice time in the recent past that I'm just now starting to feel as if I can settle into a regular schedule again and start prioritizing my practice schedule. It's funny how that although you don't practice something you may still notice improvement. I think our nervous system takes longer to respond to our demands and it doesn't necessarily stop working just because we stop. I have noticed on various occasions in the past that if I have had a break in practicing an instrument that when I return to it I will sometimes find certain things slightly easier to play than before. I think when you practice something every day that if you are making progress it's so slow that it doesn't seem to be happening, but I believe even when you stop practicing for awhile your body is still trying to adapt to the demands you placed on it before, so in a sense, progress is still being made.

2012

Before welcoming in the new year (albeit 2 days late), I wanted to give a nod to 2011. 2011 was a good year. Not necessarily a GREAT year, but essentially good on most days, which earns an overall good rating.

The year started with us in Killeen and no immediate or even medium term plans to move or change anything that substantial in our lives. I had just started working for MEB at Ft Hood and by the end of January I knew I couldn't last long term in that position. The highlights of the year were my subsequent decision to seek new employment, and I began looking primarily in the D/FW area with the intent to relocate. Ultimately this culminated in my finding, applying, and getting hired for a Comp & Pen position with the VA at their new FW outpatient clinic.

We put our house on the market and Aeyoung was very fortuitous in finding a home to rent that was not only convenient to work, but very suitable from a layout standpoint and pet friendly. Besides the upheaval of the move and a couple of months of not collecting a regular paycheck in the summer (and the resulting red on the bank ledger), the year otherwise proceeded as normal.

On the family front, Aeyoung and I celebrated our 21st anniversary in April and just continued to happily share each other's lives with our 3 furry children. Our most recent addition continues to attempt to exert her dominance as the favorite. It's funny how smaller dogs seem to have Napoleon complexes.  I incrementally improved at playing guitar and keyboards, continued to run, and near the end of the year I began studying Korean again, although a little more in earnest this time. Hey, better late than never, you know the old saying. 

Onward to 2012. Aeyoung asked me the other day what my new year's resolutions were going to be. I usually have a significant reassessing of my physical fitness at this time of year, so she's used to me swearing off alcohol and fast food and committing myself to exercise. The good news is that I have been a consistent runner for the past two years and this really hasn't changed. The only ironic event is that I did a number on my right calf in mid december when I was out for one of my pre-marathon long runs. This resulted in my not being able to run for the last two weeks of the year, and now I almost feel as if I am starting a new year's resolution by returning to running. I managed to run 1195 miles last year which is okay.

I had 3 significant down periods due to illness and injury, but this last one has been the longest. I'm hoping I can get my weekly average up to a consistent 30 miles or so, although this means I'll have to run 15 miles on the weekend unless I add an extra weekday. My long term goal is still to run a marathon, but this is the second train up in which I've suffered a significant injury setback that essentially has derailed my plan near the end. I think I will need to reassess my general approach to running/fitness and include some muscular strength and flexibility traning to supplement my running/cardio. I also think about 10-20% weight loss may do alot to minimize the injuries. 

Along those lines I'm going to have to commit to less junk food and alcohol (this is really only a weekend phenomena), and start to really manage how I fuel my body for general health and for running. I think my plan for now will be only social drinking (in our case that means concerts), and limit the junk food to only one or two meals a week. Aeyoung will cook this kind of food more often just from a convenience standpoint, so that means I will probably have to step in a help with some of the food preparation. 

Our financial goals for 2012 are fairly simple. Keep doing what we're doing, but do it better. Get the red off the ledger book that was necessitated by the relocation (and is harder to overcome currently because we're paying rent and a mortgage at the same time). The most important objective for the year would be to sell our house in Killeen, although it's hard to gauge how reasonable a goal that is. We will pay a tax penalty of 8K if we sell before August, so right now we're not being aggressive in our pricing.

That will most likely change if we haven't sold by then. Once we can sell that house, our financial goals will be centered on our eventual home purchase in the D/FW area. That's a 2013 and beyond goal. The eventual home purchase will hopefully be our last. We're hoping to get at least a one acre homesite in a planned development that will protect us from urban sprawl in the long term and allow us to stay in that one home indefinitely. We're looking to settle in the Mansfield/Arlington/Grand Prairie area. This will get us a little closer to the middle of D/FW while keeping my work commute to a manageable timeframe. 

My other 2012 goals center on continued learning and development. I want to continue studying Korean, at least every weekday like I have been striving to do. I'll probably start trying to either read some comic books or watch the occasional television program with Aeyoung. I haven't developed my comprehension and vocabulary enough yet for those to be possible. 

In music, I'm going to commit to two initial goals. Learn at least one complete song by ear per month, and compose at least one complete song per month. To learn a complete song by ear, I'm going to start with something a little more simple and approachable like Led Zeppelin or equivalent. I know bits and pieces of many tunes, but I've been dependent on tablature for the bulk of all songs I've ever learned. I've figured out countless riffs and chunks of tunes, but I haven't forced myself to sit down and learn a complete song from start to finish. It's definitely an easier task now than it was when I first learned guitar. The software tools available make it about as easy as possible. I just need to do the work. I'll build up to harder material once I have several complete songs under my belt. 

On the compositional front, my goal is to have a completed song with all instruments, arrangement, orchestration, production, etc. completed every month. I haven't decided yet if I'll make completely new songs from scratch, although that is the way I'm leaning. I have ordered a small two octave keyboard controller to keep at my main desk to help with the songwriting. As a guitarist I find it easy enough to write riffs while I'm playing my guitar, but I think the keyboard will handle the bulk of the overall compositional duties since I can not only write/play melody and chords, but it's also my only interface for drums, bass and synths. 

 

3 clinic days left...

and then hopefully <1 day of clearing. Not that I'm counting. The realtor should be coming over later today to take pictures of our house and then hopefully get it listed here in the next few days. We're going to be taking it somewhat in the shorts since we've only lived here two years and the market is pretty flat (better than most other places, though). We've accepted the loss because of all the positive reasons for the move and job change. It's also taught us a bit about the home buying/selling process.