Forever House, Getting It Off Your Chest, This Week on Facebook, What I Learned This Week

Letgo is the Tinder of furniture selling apps

In a pre-move effort, or at least an attempt to light a fire under our butts and look for a new house, We have made the decision to start getting rid of the clutter. This was before I had even heard of Marie Kondo and we aren’t getting rid of things that don’t give us joy so much as things that we just don’t want to take up valuable space in a moving truck.

To that end, I’ve started selling things on Letgo and FaceBook MarketPlace. At first, it was kinda a rush because I’d post something and get some immediate responses and sold things within a few days. Then things started to settle down. Maybe it was the oncoming Winter, or maybe it was the junk I was trying to unload.

People will contact you at the strangest hours

It seems that LetGo is Tinder for boring, old people! We have two small children in this house and as such, tend to go to bed early. So in the morning when I wake up (or at 3 am when the Insomnia Fairy strikes) I am astounded by all the late hour messages from different people  Thrift Saling at 1 am, probably coming down from a wine-and-no-dinner or vodka infused evening.

Especially on the weekends! Do these people have a few adult beverages and then start trolling MarketPlace looking for sweet deals on desks, sofas and that elusive Barrister Bookcase?

You will get ghosted

I’ll respond and sometimes the person writes back. But a lot of times they don’t. Even when they contact me during Normal Hours, we will chat for a bit and then suddenly silence. You can usually see it coming. The graceful ones look for an out: what are the measurements? Oh, that’s too big.

People will try to talk you down on your price no matter how low you go

Pricing is more art than science. No one wants your Pottery Barn sofa that you are discounting by $20 when they can just buy a new one that doesn’t have your ass crack residue on it.  At the same time, no one wants to go across town just to pick up an item for $5 unless it is hard to find, or unique in some other way.

Still, there are some people who will try to talk you down even though you are practically giving something away.

People will not leverage technology

Too often people will reach out to me, ask me about it, and then realize that we are 14568 miles apart. Yet LetGo  and Facebook MarketPlace have built-in mechanisms that will tell you approximately how far someone is from you.  So you don’t have to drive an hour just to pick up some item you could just order off Amazon for $10 more unless you happen to be in that area anyway.

Too often, someone contacts me interested in an item and then they realize we are too far away to make this work.  At the same time, I have sold two large pieces of furniture to people who have driven in from Indiana, so distance isn’t always a factor if you price it right.

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Dark Matters, Forever House, Life Hacks, Life Lessons, Parent of Twins, Summer in Chicago

A Long overdue goodbye to Summer

Even though I haven’t been motivated to vent my spleen in a while, I’m hammering out this post because we apparently have a new policy at CN where you could lose your blog space if you don’t post periodically or frequently enough or something.

Don’t feel neglected readers, I haven’t been posting on social media much either.   On Facebook, if I post anything too liberal, my right-wing boyfriends come out of their basements to set me straight.   And if I say anything that doesn’t perfectly align with the lefty talking points, my SJW girlfriends put me in check as well.

It. is. Exhausting.

How was your summer?  Mine was meh.  The weather this summer was, to use the technical term, sucky. For every decent weather day, there were two rainy, humid or hot as hell days. There weren’t as many sit on the front porch and enjoy my coffee (or back deck and wine) moments like last year.  Because the weather wasn’t favorable, it wasn’t always possible to let the kids spend time in the backyard burning off energy.

Heard a crash at 3am and found this!

Heard a crash at 3 am and found this!

We spent a considerable amount of money trying to get this house in shape for if when we finally pull the trigger and decide to move.  We love our house and our neighborhood, especially now that Portage Park is starting to become a little more trendy.  But the house has some warts and with two growing kids, the thought of sharing the largest of 2.5 bathrooms with them doesn’t appeal to Nightingale.  And there’s the school thing.  Our neighborhood school is okay but not great.

On the other hand, would God put a Binny’s and a Culvers around the corner from us if she wanted us to move!  Besides, we don’t know where to move.  We don’t have any ties to any particular suburb here and a better school would mean less home than we have now or a much bigger mortgage.  Nightingale’s family is mostly in Memphis and we wouldn’t fit in there.

Gonna need a little more than duct tape to fix

Gonna need a little more than duct tape to fix

A big change occurred at the office at the start of summer.  By that I mean I no longer work at an office.   One of the other work groups expanded and needed my seat.  The dude in charge of office seating asked if I really, really, really, really needed a seat in the office.  In spite of him being subtle, I was able to discern that he would rather not try to find me a seat.  So rather than wind up in a broom closet, so now I’m 99.9999% WFH.   I’ve gone into the office a total of three times since Memorial Day.

There are ups and downs of working 100% remote.  When you are at the office but not at your desk, people assume you are somewhere nearby.  In the breakroom, bathroom, meeting room, out having a smoke (even though they know you don’t smoke) or just out to lunch.  Kidding; no one takes lunch in Corporate America.

But when you are home, if you don’t respond within one-tenth of a second to an email or Instant Message, you obviously must be in the backyard sipping margaritas and working on your tan.  How absurd is that?  I drink Manhattans, not margaritas.

On the other hand, it is nice not having an hour plus door-to-door commute.  It’s even nicer when my kids aren’t being douche nuggets and I can get drop them off at daycare and get back with a little time before I clock in so I can sneak in a choir like mowing the lawn.

Let me know how your summer in the comments below and thanks for reading.

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It was the Wednesday morning before Memorial Day Weekend 2013 and Nightingale went down to the laundry room to toss her dress in the dryer to remove some wrinkles. She noticed a large pool of water around the floor drain. We usually get a little rain that seeps in through our Wizard of Oz doors and it goes straight to the drain, but this was more than usual. We assumed the drain was somehow backed up. I tried unclogging it with the wet dry vac but all that did was fill up the vac with water and more gushed in. This should have told me something but we were in a rush.

On this particular day we had to be downtown for an appointment we couldn’t afford to miss or reschedule. On top of that I had some meetings at the office that I had to attend in person. I feared missing these would be CLMs. Because their wasn’t a lot of water, we made the fateful decision to deal with the water when we got home. Bad mistake. Big, huge mistake.


When I got home the water had quadrupled and was beyond the laundry room and into the family room portion of the basement. I just did get home in time to move all the furniture to one end of the room to save the new sofa, love seat and ottoman I had bought just two months before.

One of the problems with this type of situation is that you don’t really have time to Google and shop around. We called our Home Warranty Insurance company and they were less than helpful. They said it probably wasn’t covered but would gladly send out one of their vendors to take a look and charge us whether they could help or not. Apparently Sump Pumps are only covered if they are internal, not external to the house. Why this makes a fucking difference I don’t know.

We also called State Farm, our home insurance company and they also said it wasn’t covered but would gladly send out an investigator at some point. So we called a service that advertised that it handled this sort of thing. Only they just do the cleanup,they don’t fix the problem. Their website didn’t make that clear but we figured it out in time to call Pete’s Plumbing service.

The long and short is that our sump pump was in a locked position, burnt out. It needed to be replaced. My theory is that it was overworked from all the rain we got that April such that the sump pump simple said screw it, I give up.

To make matters worse, Pete discovered that we also had a crack in our drain pipe from our sewer to the city sewer and because it was on our property line.  Pete said we had to fix it, not the city. He said that even if it extends to the other side of the sidewalk, The City would only fix their part. And this wasn’t something I could or should let go until a later time. I didn’t have the bandwidth to research this or not. [I know a lot of people have seen this type of problem on the DIY renovation shows where the city fixes the whole thing. Maybe they would have, maybe they wouldn’t. Given how Chicago works, they may have fixed the whole thing only three years later.]

The bottom line is that I got hit with a $6500 bill to fix this at a time when my credit card had a bigger balance than I prefer to carry because of some other life events. I essentially started off the summer of 2013 $10K in debt and didn’t pay it off until December 2015.

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Forever House, Life Lessons

The Long story of our Flooded Basement

Adventures in House Hunting, Buying a House, Forever House

First Dream House wasn’t meant to be

I’ve been watching the Real Estate market since the fall of 2008 when I first thought about purchasing a home because I noticed prices were dropping. At first I considered buying a two flat using my HELOC as a down payment and then eventually moving into the building and converting it into a SFH when and if the then elusive wife and kids arrived.

Unfortunately while I might have just noticed prices dropping in 2008, the bank that gave me a line of credit noticed a lot sooner. Chase was kind enough to suspend my HELOC before I could use it. Had I been smart, I should have withdrawn the entire line and put it in a different bank. I wouldn’t have made any money but I’d have a low interest $70K loan for many years.

I still watched the market and started looking at homes, skipping the two flat idea and going straight to the SFH. There was one particular house that has just about everything I could want and thus I refer to it as my dream house.

It is only a few blocks from the Jefferson Park Blue Line and Metra stations, so I’d have my transportation requirements taken care of. It has a big backyard with a great deck and a two car garage. A finished basement and a modern kitchen. New windows, roof and water heater means that all we’d have to do is move in and paint the place.Dream House circa 2009

In March of 2009, I called a realtor from Zip Realty who made an appointment so I could see it even though we both knew their asking price of $539,000 was way out of my price range. It looked even better in person, especially after finding out it also has an attic that could be expanded into a kick-ass master suite later in life. On the downside, the basement was a little limited, it would be more of a children’s play area than a ManCave, but I’d have to take a longer look if I ever had a realistic chance of getting this place. Which I didn’t. In fact, no one really did.

The owner, who was expecting another child in July, had told me that if she didn’t get an offer in a month or so, she was going to take it off the market because she didn’t want to deal with a closing and a birth around the same time. I asked my standard “why are you selling such a great house” question and they responded that the husband had just got a job out of state. She also added that he could do the traveling thing if they couldn’t sell the home.

Even as a then single guy without children I knew that when the second child arrived that would get old real fast.

My dream house was quietly taken off the market in Sept 2009. Thanks to the Internet you can learn so much about a house. I learned that the owners had a mortgage and a HELOC which combined put them at about $475K owed on the house, so they didn’t have a lot of wiggle room.

In the summer of 2010, on a whim, I emailed the owner. Feigning ignorance, I politely asked ‘Just curious if this home was still for sale and what is your current asking price.”

It was over a week when I got this response:

“Hi. Thanks for asking. It’s not officially on the market, but we would still consider selling for the right price… Nothing below our original asking price. [Emphasis mine.]


The problem with this house is its asking price. Anyone who can afford the asking price doesn’t want to live there and anyone who wants to live there cannot afford the asking price. They wanted almost $540K for it. And while it might have been worth that price at the height of the market, those days are gone for good.

Update:  apparently the owners updated the website they put together for selling this house.  It is not “listed” at $499,000.   

And I cannot blame them for wanting to come away with something for all their hard work. But there was just something about the sentence. Nothing below our original asking price that irked me. As if anything less was a personal insult. It is no doubt this inflexibility on their part that caused them to take their place off the market. It makes me wonder what they would say if someone offered them, say $525K, would they accept, counter offer or just say no thank you.

I think it’s fair to say that they are dreaming if they think they can get their price even in this now improved market.

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Adventures in House Hunting, Buying a House, Forever House

No Hobbit House for Us

One day last June we looked at a house that demonstrated just how far apart Nightingale and I might be on our Forever House criteria. Two types of houses I really won’t consider are bungalows and ranch houses.  Although, I’d probably warm up to a bungalow if I knew I wasn’t stuck in it forever.  This house was a ranch which I do not like. Not only do they not do it for me in terms of curb appeal, but I also feel like Hobbit living primarily below ground.

She said the house winked at her. Upon closer inspection, it was more that the house would solve a lot of our current “problems”. It’s large enough that her family could come visit and stay with us for an extended period of time without everyone being on top of each other. The downstairs actually has an extra kitchen so it could be an in-law arrangement for my mom who will eventually have to come live with us once she loses her crapshack. It also has a rare attached garage and an amazing yard.  And it probably could double as a bomb shelter if Red Dawn ever became a reality.

It did need some updates to drag it kicking and screaming out of the 80s. The carpet needed to be replaced and the cabinets would have to be replaced, painted or color shifted. Or burned.  Burning was definitely an option.  Most of the bathrooms would need to be updated.

It also is a bit more west than even I was considering. The walkability factor just isn’t there, other than being close to Prague Cafe. It is in or adjacent to Schorsch Village.  It basically was a come-to-Jesus moment when we had to sit down and make sure we were looking for the same Forever House to live in.