Dreamwidth Posty

So I used to be on LJ. I shall not be updating the LJ account anymore… I’ve finally got around to tweaking the crossposting to crosspost to Dreamwidth (and tumblr).

End announcement.

Danger, Will Robinson!

Danger, Will Robinson!

I have fallen into the dangerous territory of the mechanical keyboard. See, many years ago I had a rather nice IBM keyboard which died. I can’t remember how it died. It probably got run over by a steamroller, or somesuch (I think it got knocked off a desk and landed key side down on the prongy-footy-bit of a wheelie chair).

At any rate, I loved it, but eventually it made my poor hands hurt when I was doing technical writing. Also, I tried taking it to my office and had to bring it home to prevent my summary execution for the clickety-clackety-noise of it distressing and distracting my colleagues. Anyhow, so first I discovered tenkeyless keyboards, which are nice. Especially if you have a dinky little numpad to go with it that can float off and be moved around as needed.

Mhm.

Then I discovered pretty keycaps.

And while I knew that mechanical keyboards were “a thing”, I’d not really realised the extent of “the thing” that they are. And I can feel myself being sucked into it. Mainly because I thought “oh hey, wouldn’t it be fun* to build my keyboard myself”. Why I thought this is probably related to my dad, who had to build every damn bit of the computer himself, and made a rather fine hardboard cased lilac coloured keyboard. And I am always rather sad that I got rid of that in one of the tidies. I mean, it wasn’t useful or anything, because it was a terminal keyboard for a terminal he built, which I no longer have either.

But I rather liked it.

And then I saw the T0mb3ry SA Carbon keycap set. And I spent far too much money on it. Which is silly, and I couldn’t work out why I liked it so much.

Then it came to me. It reminds me of the old CTL / ITL keyboards my dad used to bring home (scrap ones). I was aware that it kinda reminded me of early 80’s computers, but it’s that whole orange/black bone/black combo that makes me think of the Modular One system. I’m not sure if those keyboards came from Modular Ones, or if they were from some other CTL / ITL machine.

So that explains that.

So anyhow, I’ve ordered the keycaps, because I’m weak and they’re pretty, and I’ve also started to nose around for a mechanical key tester (one with a USB connector so that they can actually serve a purpose as a num pad later), and then I’ll need to work out if I really want to fork out the cash for a keyboard kit, or whether just buying a keyboard and slapping the keycaps on will do me.

 

Car, house, life.

So, I made a spreadsheet. I can’t be bothered to deal with the fun and games of raw HTML editing at 10pm on a Saturday night so you just get a picture of it.

Really it’s a “pro-con” list. We’re thinking about whether we can afford a used EV replacement for our hybrid.  And this is how it’s looking. Realistically, because we want to be able to visit Nikki / Kate / Fam down in Oregon, we need something with DC rapid charge, or the range to get there without charging.

Spreadsheet of car costs/actual prices / ranges Pro-con.

Of course, this is entirely theoretical. Basically, because I’m changing job and have my ‘summer pay’ saved, I’m contemplating whether that, plus the sale of the car, might mean we can pull together enough to make the switch possible.

Sadly, having looked at charger locations, we think a 24kW Leaf isn’t going to do it. It would mean that we would essentially have to stop in Castle Rock on the way to see friends, and given the number of Trump signs, and the shitty shitty greeting our friends got in a café there, we think that’s not somewhere we want to spend ages if we don’t have to.

Also, a 24kW Leaf would mean we have no extra leeway should a charger be down. With the Soul EV or a newer 30kW Leaf then we’d actually be able to make it to one of the other chargers, if we were gentle.

Whether it’ll happen or not depends on a few things – one of which is whether we’re going to manage to sort out the house, and how much it might cost. The house we were looking at and super positive about fell through. The owner had no interest in replacing the End-Of-Life and believed-to-be structurally unsound roof, unless we paid half. And then we discovered the termite issue. 9 years without treatment, then they found termites…

…so, does it have a wall? Or does it have a sheet of plasterboard on some ornamental lace-trim woodwork?

Who can say?

Certainly not us, it turns out, without ripping apart the walls. Which would have been a whole other debate, but since the roof debate didn’t seem to be moving in our favour, we abandoned ship.

So we’re on the hunt again, and looked at three entirely terrible houses today.

  • Terrible house the first seems to be attempting to make good its escape by slipping quietly down the hill. Bonus points to this one for having a building (shed) so shonkily supported that I declined to even attempt to look in it for fear that it might fall several feet down into the ravine.
  • Terrible house the second actually could be quite cool. It’s an ex-creamery, but in the 1980s it had what I would call an extremely shoddy residential conversion. The carpet appears to have been laid directly onto concrete floor making the building so damp you could actually see the rising damp watermark on some of the doors. It still has the fridge door and a great delivery space that could be amazing. Indeed, I was trying to convince myself that we could do something cool with it when we noticed the dirty great cracks in the wall and around the roof. Structural failure makes it beyond us, sadly. Also, loud, loud road.
  • Terrible house the third was a 1940s rambler that’s been rented to someone who appears to have been morally opposed to cleaning. Ignoring that, and the fact it broadly needs gutting, and a garage reinstating where there’s a room with a giant fireplace….and the washer/drier… oh, and the chimney reopening and providing with at least some ventilation (because it’s got mould appearing on the wall where it’s just panelled in)…and the fact that the roof looked shonky as all hell… ignoring all that…oh, and the crappy electrical panel… ignoring all that – it had black mould on two of the walls in the bedroom. The realtor tried to persuade us it just needed some abatement. Personally, I think a match and some petrol should sort all the building’s problems

So, that wasn’t exactly a raging success.

On the life front, I can now formally state I’m going back to the Emergency Department. Teaching this year led me to a place I don’t particularly wish to return to, of stress, feeling bleak, and feeling like I wasn’t able to serve the students. Rather than subject myself to another year of that I applied to my old place of work and they kindly gave me a job.

I’m hoping that I’ll get to return to doing some stuff with Transport Evolved, too, which would be cool.

In other, other news, my Macbook seems to be intent on dying. It’s taken to randomly switching itself off for no obvious reason (obviously, it’s decided to start doing this immediately after I bought it a new charger). I’ve put myself on the list for a Pinebook, which is certainly not meant to be a proper laptop replacement, but… the plan is to have an actual functional desktop (for video editing, if required…) and so hopefully this will just be my dinking box. Also, with luck, if I need something more beefy, for the time being I can run it on the media server.

Anyhow, hopefully my 9 year old Macbook will hang on a bit longer.

And that, my loves, is the news.

Well, that lasted a long time

So that last post may have been premature. We knew that there were potential problems with the house because of the structural / roof issues; what didn’t occur to us (until Kathryn talked to our mortgage broker today) is that me changing job would be a huge-ass problem.

Apparently, because I’m changing job, if I have a probationary period (which I do) they won’t lend to us until that’s over. So I’m going to call my new workplace tomorrow and beg/plead/politely request that they consider nixing the probationary period (I worked there before for 6 months, so I’m hoping they’ll consider this).

Otherwise, well, we’ll put the problem to our realtor – but actually we found out more stuff about the cost of putting a roof on that we’re willing to consider – and that may be enough of a crimp that we decide against it. But then there’s the joy of the fact that we can’t then look for a house until the end of the summer.

So, well, let’s see how this goes tomorrow.

Given how the past year and half has gone, I’m not feeling vastly optimistic.

Things may get less quiet around here.

Or more quiet. Who can say.

We’re looking at a house. We’ve had an offer accepted, but the survey (inspection) revealed some significant concerns. Well, really one significant concern that breaks down into a number of significant minor concerns.

Tomorrow, or possibly Tuesday, we go back to the sellers with our “fix these things” offer – and we’ll see if they’re happy to accept it.

If we get it, there’s actually a fair bit of work there. The electrics need updating, although that wasn’t obvious before hand, there’s some decorative work, and it needs a new bathroom. This is certainly no-where near the level we were at with the Bristol house, but it should be enough to keep me entertained through the summer.

The other news is that I’m planning to change job. Back to nursing again. Not full time though.

Hopefully I’ll get back to feeling a bit more like myself, and a bit less like I’m wanting to weep through each day. I clearly am feeling a bit more like myself, because we went into a bookshop today (just B&N), and I ended up walking out with books and feeling pretty excited about some other ones that I didn’t end up getting.

This is a feeling that I’ve really missed. Excitement about things.

I’m not exactly sure what our future holds at the moment. We’re both pretty wrung out. But at least I’m feeling more like there is some future.

Plodding along

Life continues to trundle along, and we keep hunting houses. We’ve been to see virtually every house in our price range, I think. There’s one that has some potential but is insanely overpriced. There are a bunch we’ve discounted for a variety of reasons. I’m still sad that we didn’t get the one we offered on first, or the one that we visited before we were in a position to make an offer… because everything since then has felt like much more of a compromise.

Today we looked at an entertaining one which we were quite excited about until we discovered that the pricing seems to be for an imaginary third bedroom. We were thinking maybe the area was worth more than we’d realised, but looking at prices of things sold around there, no, the price is for a 3 bedroom house. It does have a 3/4ths height finished attic space above the garage – which is, I we think, what they’re calling the third bedroom.

But it’s not permitted, nor is the forced air heating system with the slightly suspect ‘furnace in a cupboard in the lounge’ design. Which is a shame, because the lot is really lovely, and there’s quite a lot of potential there.

The house hunt has been painfully depressing, really. Possibly would be less so if work wasn’t quite so tough. But work has continued to be a real struggle for me. I’m hoping that things might change on that front, but that’s really a fingers crossed affair, rather than a definite at the moment. So, well, that’s where we’re at.

Hence the quiescence on the blogging front.

Smoothies

Smoothies here have been the biggest disappointment. I’m guessing it’s something like when a USian goes to the UK and mistakenly orders a lemonade at a pub*, or a milkshake more or less anywhere else**.

In the UK smoothies were fabulous combos of fruit and either yoghurt or possibly tofu. Healthyish but also so insanely good.

Here most places smoothies are a revolting sugary goop that’s maybe seen a fruit. There are some smoothie stand things that do smoothies, but honestly, their flavours are a disappointing averageness and their prices do not match their bare adequacy.

Le sigh.

* For translation purpose, a lemonade in the UK is more-or-less equivalent to a US 7-UP. A freshly squeezed lemonade is what you USians are looking for in the UK.***

** A milkshake in the UK is generally milk with some flavouring. In the US it’s generally icecream smooshed up into a delicious goop.

*** If you want to throw people, in a US-pub ask for a lemonade. Oh they look so confused.

 

So…

So what might be a perfect house for us has come up. Our realtor is out of town for the weekend.

An adequate car to replace the insight has come up.

I can’t get it inspected in time.

Bother.

Be vewy vewy quite, I’m hunting houses.

Before I start this, I think I should address something that’s been bothering me. I realise that me whining on here about how we can’t build a house and own a house is laughably privileged of me. Many people can’t even afford shelter, and here I am whining about how we own a chunk of land and can’t build on it, and we’re not sure we have enough money to buy a house. It’s crazy.

And it is incredibly privileged of me, but this position came at a very high price. The vast majority of that money came from my dad’s death. And frankly, I’d deal with rented accommodation and slowly saving cash up for years rather than have lost my dad to a painful, horrendous death from cancer. That also is part of the reason I end up so frustrated by it. When anything bad happens involving ‘that money’ then I feel like I’ve let him, and my mother down. She gave me the money from my dad’s life insurance with the intention that I would be able to get a house and not worry near so much about money.

And here I am near tears fairly frequently because we’re engaged in a battle to the death with the county, who (it seems to me) are just trying to make as much money out of the planning process as they can. Perhaps that’s not what they’re trying to do, but it certainly doesn’t feel like they’re actually trying to protect the land. If they were, the process would more based around what’s actually on the land.

Anyhow. That rant (which everyone’s heard before) over with, let’s talk about the dismal house situation. So the ant situation in the rental continues unabated (although there is bait). Our landlord’s arranged for a pest control person to inject the walls with poison, which is good because it turns out we now have three varieties of ant in the house. Working down in size, we have carpenter ants, what I think are possibly yellow ants, and little black ants. Hopefully this situation will resolve soon – and I’m hoping the injected poison will kill them quicker than the stuff the pest guy put down – which has left drunken, wandery ants that make me feel very guilty.

And while that can’t be said to be the main driving force for us wanting to move, it’s certainly an encouragement. Having our own stuff out of storage – given that we’re now looking at it being at least another year before we might be able to build – is something we’d both like. Both of us are missing the ability to do anything hobby-like to reduce stress. It’s not like we can’t here, we could, but storing any more stuff here is hard, and we can’t leave anything out without it becoming very oppressive in here.

So, yes, we’re looking. The problem is, everyone seems to have realised that living in Thurston County is a frigging nightmare. This I am presuming based on the fact that one street to the next, similar houses, similar looking streets, the houses on county land will be waaaay cheaper. I’m guessing the hassle of trying to get permits to renovate, fix, improve those houses from Thurston County puts off people – like us – who enjoy the challenge of renovation. There may be other reasons; I don’t know if there’s some cultural or civic difference between ‘county’ and ‘city’ land. It’s not like you can easily tell from the address (although I suppose if you look at google maps, you can see the boundary).

It is insane though. It’s also insane how the boundary will wiggle to exclude or include one development, or one street, or something random. I really don’t understand how it works – how that distinction is made – it doesn’t seem to have any relation to the density of housing.

But it means that I look at the list of posted houses and go “oh yay, some new ones we might consider” (because the one we were debating sold…the weekend we looked at it) and then click through them an conclude that they’re all in the f’kin county. Which instantly excludes them. So yay for that. Hopefully we can (a) get a mortgage and (b) get a house and (c) our financial adviser won’t tell us this is an act of deep insanity. Which it might be.

Well, hrm

So today we looked at houses. I’d say we looked at 3 houses, but one of them was in such poor condition that it was more a stack of rotting timber with bits of rust holding them together. I kind of wanted to see inside, but sadly the code didn’t work on the door. It was built, I think, in the 1930s, and built appaulingly. No foundations, just wood directly onto brick / concrete piers. No obvious dampproofing to protect the wood. Just plonked atop. The whole thing looked like sneezing wrong might cause it to fall over. Indeed, I was slightly concerned that opening the front door, had the code worked, might have made it so structurally unsound it fell.

House 3, now that wasn’t great either. It’s been on the market for a long time – and when we went in it was apparent why. It is a dingy, smelly house. It had some things that we thought might be worth looking at in the photos – mainly hardwood floors. However, when we got there the overwhelming smell of smoke, and the fact they’d clearly had pets, and pets had clearly had incidents involving the floors… that wasn’t so great.

Now, house number 2. House number 2 is upsetting. It’s possibly slightly overpriced, in an optimistic way. It’s a 1950’s rambler, but manages to be a rambler that we actually like. It has underfloor heating in the main areas of the house… which is pretty f’kin nifty. And it’s in a not unpleasant area. Rather closer to I-5 than we’d like, but actually by the time we’d been there half an hour, the white-noise of the cars had disappeared (to us).

It’s clean and very out of date, which is the kind of thing we do. Irritatingly, had we seen it before we bought the land, and intended to buy a house (rather than land) this all would have been insanely easy.

As it is we have the complexity of: Well, we can afford it with a mortgage, but then what do we do about the land, because if we buy a house and use all of our money to reno’ it, we’re unable to develop the land. And we’re certainly unable to build on the land. And well, we might be able to get a construction loan, but the county have encouraged us to get a well on the land as soon as possible, because the well-rules are going to change…

…only that means getting a permit, and we have no timeline for permitting.

…which leads us back into a circle.

Part of the problem is at some point Rebecca will be returning to the fold*, and we have nowhere to store another car. Which means that our rental situation which has up until now been really quite pleasant (although currently seeming to be an entirely ant-related insanity place), won’t work out in the long term. Also, we’re paying someone else’s mortgage and that always makes me feel a bit grumpy. Even when the person is nice.

Of course, there is no good solution to this, which is part of what’s so pissy. The county have left us in an impossibly shit place, and seem unwilling to concede any wrongdoing. And here we are trying to work out what’s for the best. And I have no clue.

*hopefully, although I every time I ring, the person trying to source me a diff in England despairs slightly more, because he’s paid for 2 diffs, neither of which has arrived.