Turning Our House into a Home

Buying a house is definitely a big move, especially in this market. But it’s a move that my wife and I took this past Friday in New York. The process of obtaining a mortgage and buying the house was a bit stressful, but it is behind us now and we are happy with the property and hope to be settled in soon. The location means that we’ll have to buy a second car soon and we are having new furniture delivered tomorrow. There is no doubt that we are doing our part in propping up the economy during these touch times, and our bank account proves it.

On Saturday we had several people show up to help us move. Thank you everyone. My wife was a bit skeptical on Friday night that no one would show up the next morning, but I reassured her that we would get some help, if only a few guys. I had put out the word among friends the last few weeks and they responded in full force. At one point we had fourteen people there and were able to form an assembly line from the back of the truck into the house. With all those hands, we had everything in our house in no time. Getting it organized and in the proper place is another story, however. Although we have been in New York for almost five years, this provides us with a new start. We have a house now and I am proud to call it home.

President Obama

I am again moved at how one man can unite so many people across this diverse country and across the globe. The scenes from Washington the past few days have been incredible and the celebrations have been historic. Today from coast-to-coast, in living rooms, conference rooms and cafeterias, citizens of this great country gathered together to watch the Inauguration of the 44th President of the United States amid fanfare and tradition. I agree with some commenters that the Christian invocation at the start of the ceremonies was a bit antithetical in many respects to what this nation and President Obama stands for, even if I was not personally offended. But the momentous occasion this weekend was well deserved. For the first time in a long time Americans feel as if someone that holds their values, represents their background, and fights for their interests is now the leader of the free world. There are no special interests, no lobbyists, no behind-the-scenes puppeteers in the way between the people and President Obama. The hopes and dreams of many in this country now rest with him. He has set high standards and expectations for himself, many of which he has lived up to so far, to the surprise of many unbelievers. Let’s hope that as our President, he will continue his winning track record. That today is the start of eight years of healing, unification, rebuilding and responsibility is my hope for him and our country.

Cloud Atlas Sextet

I recently finished a masterpiece of a book that contained stories that will stay with me for a long time. The book was entitled “Cloud Atlas” by David Mitchell. I had heard of this book years ago when it was released and knew of its public acclaim, but only recently got around to starting the book. It goes without saying that even though I read a lot of both fiction and non-fiction, not every book is that memorable. But this book was different. What made this book intelligent, unique and memorable in my mind was that not only were the six stories contained in this book entertaining in and of themselves, but that the actual structure of the book subtly connected each story to the one before it and was unlike anything I had ever read before. Covering modern history, present day and even delving into futuristic sci-fi (which I never read), this book was truly creative. I am not a member of any book clubs, but I would think that this book would be a perfect candidate for such a club, as it was thought provoking and in some form, a commentary of mankind throughout time. It is a challenging book given the six different writing styles and takes some getting used to, but if you stick with it, it will reward you.

Moving In for the Long Term

We have signed the contract. We have locked in our interest rate. We have reserved a moving truck, ordered new furniture and have submitted the down payment. Yes, we have bought a house and close on January 22nd. It’s a bit nerve racking these days and experts’ views on what is to come differ greatly. There are some minds out there that believe that the lower prices and falling interest rates present the real estate buying opportunity of a lifetime. Other people are of the view that the bottom is far from near and that prices may continue to fall until the year 2011. Who knows which side to believe. I only know that we need somewhere to live and we need more space, and this house provides both. The only other thing I’m sure of is that this must be a long-term investment for us. While I have no plans to be in New York a decade from now, I never thought I would be buying a house, especially this house, a few years ago. As my Grandma likes to say, circumstances alter cases. And that is never truer than now for us. I don’t expect property appreciation like we saw from 2002 to 2006, but I am hoping that we see some in the years to come. The good news so far is that our appraisal puts the house at $10,000 above what we agreed to pay for it. Let’s hope this is the beginning of a trend.

Capital One

This past weekend we made a big purchase on our Capital One Visa Signature credit card. After consultation at home and later in the store with the sales associate, we finalized what we wanted and I handed over my card. We have a large credit limit and so I knew the total dollar amount was not going to be a problem. She swiped our card and the words “Declined” immediately appeared on the screen. I thought it was odd since I knew that the card and the credit was valid; I had just used the card the day before with no problems. We tried again and again the card was denied. I was about to pick up my phone and call Capital One when my phone started vibrating. After confirming my identity, the caller from Capital One asked whether we were presently trying to purchase what we wanted for the final amount. I assured him that we were and told him that I thought it may be Capital One when my phone starting buzzing. He cleared the transaction and on the next swipe the card was accepted. I am not sure if Capital One does this for each of its card holders or only to its premium Visa Signature holders, but either way, it was comforting to know that there is someone looking out for us. Let’s hope that I never receive a call regarding a purchase that I am not making at that moment. And if I do, let’s hope I can stop it with their security call. Thank you Capital One.