I’ve never been fond of exercise. Perhaps it’s time to stop trying to force it.

I’m fat. The last time I stepped on my fancy WiFi enabled scale on September 1st I topped off at 291.7 pounds. That’s down from my high of 301, but it’s up from the 287 I managed to get to in July. My ideal body weight for someone my height should be between 132 to 167 pounds. My BMI is 42 and it should be between 20 and 25. I am what is considered morbidly obese. I am not what a lot of people think of when they think of morbidly obese people. Most folks don’t even realize I qualify for that designation.

This pic is 5 years old, but other than being a little grayer in the beard I still look more or less the same.

This pic is 5 years old, but other than being a little grayer in the beard I still look more or less the same. Click to embiggen.

That’s because I somehow manage to make it look damned good.

I’ve been this way for most of my adult life starting sometime in my late 20’s. I know it’s not healthy and I’ve been feeling the effects of carrying around all this extra weight for awhile now. Whether it’s my aching back or my feet that can’t seem to stay warm even in the heat of summer (not to mention a growing numbness in one of my big toes), I’m aware that I’m doing long term damage. I’m diabetic, but not to the point of needing insulin shots yet and I’m on medication to control my sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure levels. In short, I have every reason in the world to be motivated to engage in regular exercise. Yet I don’t. Why? Because I really, really fucking hate it and I find it very hard to do things I hate as much as I hate exercising.

Taken on my wedding day, this was 14 years ago and I was at my heaviest weight.

Taken on my wedding day, this was 14 years ago and I was at my heaviest weight. Click to embiggen.

Which isn’t to say that I haven’t tried. If you’ve been reading SEB for awhile then you may recall I bought an elliptical machine a few years back on the mistaken assumption that Anne and I would fall into a routine of using it regularly and having the pounds melt away. The reality was that it made a wonderful coat rack for the vast majority of the time it occupied a corner of our living room up until I sold it prior to moving to Canton because we wouldn’t have any spare space for it. Yes, there was a period of several months multiple times over the years were I made valiant attempts to put it to good use, but none of them lasted longer than a month and I never did manage to make it a habit. In the end it was depressing to even consider hauling my fat ass onto it. Then last year, after we gave up trying to buy a house, Anne and I tried getting into the simplest form of exercise you can do: walking. My company tried to help by offering up a Fitbit for free if I managed to walk 8,000 steps a day for 20 days during last October. I took up the challenge in the hopes that a whole month of walking regularly would make it a habit. While I did hit the goal, it didn’t become a habit and when winter set in my walking routine went the way of the dodo and hasn’t really recovered since.

So you can imagine my incredulity when I came across an article that basically said I probably shouldn’t be trying to exercise at all:

That hell I described is what the majority of the population thinks about regular exercise. They hate it, and they don’t want to do it. I am an internationally syndicated fitness columnist with columns read by a whole lot of people, and make my living writing about diet, exercise and weight loss. For years I’ve extolled the virtues of exercise as a way to control your eating behaviors and sculpt your physique into something that looks great and performs amazing feats.

And I have been wrong.

Wait, what? Yeah, that’s fitness journalist Jim Fell in an article titled The Exercise Myth he wrote this past February that I just stumbled across on Facebook. He continues:

It is not a personal failing in any person to fail to see the light with exercise, because that kind of light just isn’t visible for some. Actually, it doesn’t work for most. If you don’t want to exercise, then you qualify as “most.” You’re in the vast majority, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of, because exercise isn’t exactly natural. It’s asking you to do something very unusual. It’s asking you to be someone you’re not. It’s asking you to expend energy and to embrace discomfort for a nebulous long-term goal that doesn’t actually accomplish anything in the near term other than shortness of breath and smelly laundry. Also, it costs money.

I’m not turning my back on exercise. I personally love it and will continue to do so (and I’ll keep writing about it too), but in learning to love it I realized how hard it was – how unnatural it was – to dedicate so many hours a week to running and cycling and the lifting of heavy things for no reason other than to put them back down and then lift them up again.

It’s like the man has known me my entire life. Jim goes on to talk about how the folks who really get into exercise to the point that it’s an effective weight loss are a minority making up maybe 5% of the population and only 25% get enough exercise to have any health benefits at all. He says we’re not lazy, just normal. That plays right into my cognitive biases so of course it appeals to me.

The myth about exercise is that it is a viable solution for the population at large to achieve lasting weight loss. Whether the reasons are physiological, psychological, practical or financial, most people are at the opposite end of the spectrum from Nike’s tagline. They Just can’t do it. They WON’T do it.

For some, exercise works as an important part of a weight loss program, but for most, they will never be able to make themselves exercise hard enough, long enough, and frequently enough to get a considerable caloric burn and therefore affect weight loss. THIS is the myth that has been perpetuated about exercise.

Jim goes on to explain all the problems inherent in regular exercise that keeps most folks from doing it and how much effort is involved to really get any benefit from it. He spends a lot of time on the traps and pitfalls a lot of folks who try to make a go at it end up falling into. All in all it would be a pretty depressing article if it weren’t for the end where he has suggestions for those of us who just can’t seem to get into exercise:

There is another option to assist weight loss for the non-exerciser, and it’s pretty neat.

Actually, make that NEAT. It’s Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, which is burning calories via methods other than traditional sport or exercise. It’s movement with a purpose, like walking instead of driving, using your bike as a mode of transportation, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, getting up and walking to a co-worker’s office to chat instead of picking up the phone, pacing while on the phone instead of sitting, doing housework, shoveling snow, yard work, carpentry, playing with your kids, walking the dog, doing laundry, moving furniture … All those things people stopped doing because of technology.

When you adopt a mindset of looking for every possible excuse to add in extra movement, traditional exercise be damned, you can burn more calories each day without the pain and hassle, and without nearly the risk of developing a reward mentality in regards to “earning” a tasty treat. What’s more, movement begets more movement. Starting slowly, you’ll find over time that you transform from a sitter to a mover, and you’ll rack up some caloric burns while achieving greater fitness.

And in terms of weight loss, if you sit less, spend less times in front of screens, and keep those hands busy you’ll be less inclined to engage in mindless snacking, and more likely to establish a regular meal pattern.

In other words, the NEAT approach to fitness can help you on the food intake side, which is where lasting weight loss really happens.

This makes a lot of sense to me and not just because it excuses my inability to develop an exercise habit.

Even as a skinny-ass kid I hated exercise. When it came time in gym class to do exercises such as push ups, sit ups, jumping jacks, or running laps I always hated every second of it and did them in as half-assed a manner as I could and still claim I had done what I was asked. However, when it came time for dodge ball or basketball or volleyball or any of a number of other similar games I’d put my all into it and loved it. I also tended to enjoy swimming and riding my bike, two things I haven’t done in years. Anne and I keep talking about buying a couple of bikes, but living in an apartment makes figuring out where to keep them difficult. If I have to carry them up and down from the basement then I know they’re not going to get used, but I don’t have anyplace safe to store them outside where they won’t be stolen or damaged by the weather.

It’s clear that I’m never going to be an avid exerciser so perhaps it’s time I stop trying to become one. Perhaps the solution I should be trying is to just get up from my computer screens more often and seeing if I can’t find something I love to do that involves more movement. Playing is what kept me skinny as a kid, maybe it can help me as an adult.

Happy 48th birthday to me.

Today I have somehow managed to reach my 48th year and, despite all my bad lifestyle choices, I’m still relatively healthy. I’m getting to the age where birthdays start to become days of reflection which is something I’ve never been all that good at, but there are certain truths about my life that are starting to become apparent.


For example, I realize that I will probably never be a published author. At least, not of a book of any kind. Part of the reason I started my blog 14 years ago was to practice writing and, while I’ve definitely improved over the years, I’ll never be able to come up with an idea for more than a short story or two. I used to write short stories often when I was younger, but these days the inspiration comes very infrequently. I know a couple of people who are pretty big writers who seem to be able to pump out volumes of prose with little effort and who have a large fanbase, but I will never be one of those people. They are all remarkably well-read and are familiar with large numbers of other authors. I’m very picky about my fiction reading and as a result I’m not as familiar with the tropes and traditions of my favorite genre — science fiction — to really contribute anything to it. When I first had this realization it bothered me a little because it was something I long thought I would do, but these days I’ve come to accept it.

I also realize that I’ve already hit the peak of my career and will never hit that high again. In part because I will always be a break-fix IT guy. Moving up to just about anything else would require a college degree and I’m not going to get one of those anytime soon. Or it would require I go into management and I’ve never wanted that either. Despite working in a position that is perpetually considered entry-level, I’m good at it and I enjoy it. I get paid alright for what I do — just a little under the industry mean which means there’s room for raises — but it’s never going to reach a six figure level. It took 20+ years as a contractor before a company hired me directly and it’ll probably be the last one to ever do so. I wouldn’t recommend my method of career decision making to anyone and, honestly, I’ve been damned lucky in spite of myself. At this point I probably won’t be retiring unless I manage to hit a lotto jackpot.

Lastly, I’ve come to accept the fact that I will never own my own home. We came closest to realizing that goal last year and it didn’t happen and I don’t suspect I’ll be in a position financially to try again for quite some time. This is one of the few things that make me feel like a bit of a failure because so many of my friends and family have somehow managed to accomplish this, but I can’t seem to figure it out. I ended up deciding not to worry about it anymore. I have a roof over my head, there’s food on the table, and a wonderful woman that I spend each day with. Not to mention two of the best cats this world has ever seen. We seem to be able to make wherever we end up into a happy home and that’s all I really need.

My apologies if this seems like a bit of a downer, but I’m up very early today because of nightmares I had last night and I probably should’ve waited until the coffee kicks in a bit more before trying to write about my latest birthday. All of that said, I’m still breathing and there are a lot of people who seem to appreciate having me around and, in my own small way, I’m contributing something to the world. I’m fortunate to know a lot of people who have had stunning success in their career and lives and I’m often amazed at the people who stop to see what I have to say. I’ll never be a big fish in this pond we call life, but at least I’m still swimming.

Who knows? Maybe that sudden flash of inspiration will finally happen and I’ll become a huge success. Until then I’ll keep plugging along pretending I know what I’m doing.

I’ve always been a bit of a contrarian.

In the previous entry I discussed a little about how, generally, most folks become more Conservative as they age. This brought to mind the Political Compass test which attempts to establish where you fall in the Liberal/Conservative/Authoritarian/Libertarian scale. I first took the test in 2004 and while I didn’t blog about it at the time I did post it as an image on SEB.

To give an idea of what it attempts to do, here’s their sample graph that plots out where a few famous historical people fall on the scale:


When I first took the test my score was Economic Left/Right -4.62 and Social Libertarian/Authoritarian -4.92 which would place me down around Gandhi on the chart above.

I retook the test in January of 2012 to see if I’d grown more Conservative like you’re supposed to do when you get older. Here’s that graph:

I’m becoming even more of a Republican’s worst nightmare.

Clearly I was the exception to the rule. It’s been another 3 years since and I’m coming up on my 48th birthday so surely I’m starting to reverse the trend by now, right?


If I keep going at this rate they're going to need a bigger graph. 

If I keep going at this rate they’re going to need a bigger graph. 

Thus proving that the idea people become more Conservative as they age is a generalization. I blame my open mindedness and curiosity, both factors psychologists have identified as contributing to a liberal political outlook. If it seems like I’ve been getting worse in my liberal viewpoint over the years, you now have evidence that it’s not just your imagination.

Just call me Shelly.

I maintain an account on Facebook mainly because so many of my friends and family have one and, for a lot of them, it’s the only contact I have with them anymore. I tend to share the same things on FB that I share to Google+ and Twitter. In fact, a lot of my updates to FB are just tweets that got imported over. A fair number of my extended family that I don’t see much in person these days tend to fall onto the Conservative end of the political spectrum. With me being a Liberal there is bound to be the occasional disagreement and a recent one ended with me unfriending the relative in question for the sake of familial harmony.

The topic of what caused the agreement isn’t what I want to talk about. Rather it’s a comment directed at me in an attempt to lighten the mood by the person I was interacting with. They said that I was “The Sheldon of the family.”

For the handful of you who have somehow managed to never have seen CBS’ show The Big Bang Theory, I should explain that there is a character on it by the name of Sheldon Lee Cooper, Ph.D., Sc.D., portrayed by actor Jim Parsons. Sheldon is a genius who lacks social skills and almost any ability to recognize humor or sarcasm. He is often obnoxious, demanding, and selfish. He lacks humility and empathy and is often extremely narcissistic. He is also extremely knowledgeable, particularly in the areas of science, history, geography, linguistics, math and so on. In short, it’s a backhanded compliment at best to be called your family’s Sheldon. It implies that for all the brains you might have you are barely tolerated by those supposedly closest to you.


Not that it’s a completely unfair comparison. I tend to be passionate about many of the same topics that Sheldon Cooper is and, while I don’t have near the credentials or I.Q. of the fictional character, I’m pretty well read on the things I’m interested in. When I take the time to argue a point I do it by presenting supporting evidence for the opinions I hold. I can get so wrapped up in stating my case that I don’t give adequate thought to the emotional impact of my words. I can be blunt and curt without realizing it. I’m not afraid to call people out, family or otherwise, for their faulty logic or hypocrisy. I’m easily annoyed by willful ignorance. That said, I don’t begin to even pretend to be incapable of being wrong. I don’t think I have all the answers and I’m not above apologizing for my mistakes. I may not be perfect at social skills, but I’m no Sheldon Cooper when it comes to getting along in a group.

I’ve been thinking a lot about being compared to Sheldon since it happened a couple of days ago and I’m OK with it. It may or may not have been meant as an intentional slight at the time and whether it was or not isn’t important. The one aspect of Sheldon that is commonly overlooked is the fact that he’s often right about what he’s arguing about; much to the annoyance of the people he’s arguing with*. So I’ll take being compared to Sheldon as a tacit admission that I made my points well.

*Which shouldn’t be a surprise as the show employs an actual physicist — David Saltzberg — to make sure Sheldon’s dialogue is factually accurate.

This is my ever eternal struggle illustrated…


Tacos are just too damned tasty and when I eat them, I eat far too many of them. Still, I strive to do better.

Managed to have a small streak of blogging going and then ran out of steam so here’s what I’ve been up to instead of blogging: Apartment hunting. Which is just a shitload of not fun.

Our lease is up at the end of May and we’re anticipating that they’ll raise our rent by another $100 which we just can’t afford. Our rent has gone up by almost $300 in three years and I’m almost paying as much for our two-bedroom town home as I did for the three bedroom we initially moved into. So we’re looking around to see what’s available out there. Right now it’s looking like we will have to leave Ann Arbor as all of the more affordable apartments are either in bad neighborhoods or at places that are in need of some serious renovations.

We’ve found a promising complex in Whitmore Lake that’ll give us two bedrooms and two bathrooms and a washer/dryer in the unit (stacked, but better than nothing). Pros are it’s a newer complex (about 10 years old), cuts my commute time in half, will allow us to keep our 2 cats, and is about $200 cheaper from where we are now (and probably even more assuming our rent is going up). Cons are it’s in Whitmore Lake which is a much more Conservative community than Ann Arbor is. And we have to pack up all our crap and haul it to the new location which doesn’t have a basement like our town home does.

Looking back, we probably should have followed through on our plans to buy a house last spring seeing as the alternative plan of using the money to try and get healthy has had very (very, very) modest success so far. That said, any of the places we were looking at would’ve been as difficult to afford on just my income as the place we’re renting now so I would’ve just been trading one financial difficulty for another.

Still, we trek on through this thing called life doing the best we know how.

Wow, is it almost February already?

turnthiscararoundLook at that. Nearly a whole month since I posted my Happy New Year message and the only other blog post was the one about my cat I put up earlier today. While I made it a point not to make any New Year’s resolutions, I did have every intention of blogging more frequently. Considering this will be only my third entry for this month it’s probably best that I hadn’t made it an actual resolution.

So what the hell have I been up to? Well, work has been a little nuts because The Automotive Company I work for decided it could save some money by switching the company we host our Exchange servers at. This meant migrating the email of all of the employees worldwide from one third-party provider to another and while I wasn’t involved with anyone outside of my office, there was still plenty to do here with our 150+ employees. That took up a fair chunk of my days over the past couple of weeks. Plus the usual catching up from the 3 week vacation I took at the end of the year.

Beyond that, it’s mostly been business as usual around the Jenkins house. We did make the decision to “cut the cord” and drop the TV part of our AT&T U-Verse service as the budget is very tight and it knocked $110 off of our bill. We still have U-Verse Internet and we’re relying on Amazon Prime and Hulu+ for our TV watching these days. Signing up for Hulu+ runs about $8 a month, but that’s a far cry from the $110 we were paying for U-Verse TV. We’re still able to catch up with most of the shows we watched regularly with the exception of stuff on CBS as that network doesn’t offer next-day viewing of its series on Hulu+. At some point we’ll pick up an indoor antennae to catch stuff over the air.

My daughter had a going away party last Sunday as she is set to move to Florida this weekend to pursue her dream of working for Walt Disney World. She graduated from Grand Valley with a theater degree and wants to build a career at the House of Mouse. She’s starting off in the Disney college internship program again for the first 6 months and hopes to transition to a permanent position within that time frame. I am more than a little apprehensive about her moving so far away in part because it will make it very difficult to help in an emergency and it was hard enough to see her when she lived in Grand Rapids and this is a lot further away than that. At the same time I’m very proud that she seems to have her shit together at an age when I was still stumbling around trying to figure out what I wanted to do and had a 2 year-old daughter to worry about. I will miss her terribly, but I couldn’t be happier for her.

Health-wise I’m doing OK at the moment. My weight is hovering between 285 and 288, but that’s down from the 299 I was last year. I’m not walking much at the moment due to winter being in full force, but I’m getting out on the days when it’s not quite so ball shrinkingly cold. I need to get back in to see the doctor at some point to get an idea of where my sugar and cholesterol levels are at, but they’d been in a downward trend the last couple times I went in so with any luck I’m still improving there.

I need to start thinking about finding a new place to live soon as our lease is up at the end of April and I doubt we’re going to be able to afford another hike in rent. I’d love to stay in Ann Arbor, but I doubt we’ll be able to do so without moving into some less than desirable apartments. Hell, I’d love to buy a house, but that’s definitely not in the cards as we no longer have anything close to a down payment on hand. I have no idea where we’re going to end up and it’s resulting in some sleepless nights. I really need to figure out my best-selling book idea so I can suddenly find myself fabulously wealthy.

That’s what I’ve been up to, what about you guys?

So I turned 47 on Monday…

awkward-moment-breathing-stairs… and I had every intention of blogging about it then, but I didn’t ever actually get around to it. That seems to happen a lot lately. Not that I have anything profound to say about turning 47 other than it’s weird being so close to 50. Forty wasn’t that big a deal for me, but fifty is freaking me out a little bit. Probably because I’ll be due for my first prostrate exam which I’m not looking forward to. For years I hoped they’d have developed an alternative to the traditional method by the time I reached that age, but three years out and no proper alternative is in sight. I’m also a little disturbed by how much my doctor is looking forward to that day.

I got some nice gifts for my birthday. My wife, ever enabling of my video game habits, bought me a Corsair Vengeance K70 mechanical gaming keyboard, a copy of The Last of Us Remastered for the PS4, and another volume of Red Dwarf on DVD (I’m slowly, but surely finishing that collection). Dave Hill of ***Dave Does the Blog sent me the Back to the Future: 25th Anniversary Trilogy on Blu-ray and I’ve got a few gifts from my in-laws that I’ll receive when I see them this coming weekend.

I’m still struggling with getting into the habit of walking. I’ve not managed to do a full week in some time now and it’s been over a week since I last got out and do it. I intend to do so tomorrow, but then I intended to blog on my birthday so we’ll see how it goes. My weight is fluctuating around the 290 to 293 range right now, but my physical last month was an improvement over the previous one. Being this close to fifty I feel like I should really have my shit together by now, but I’m just as disorganized as ever.

One annoying new development I’ve been experiencing is biting the inside of my own mouth. This is something that I almost never did in my youth, but now hardly a week goes by that I don’t manage to draw blood from the inside of my cheek or the area just under my nose while eating a meal. Just this evening I managed to bite the inside of my own mouth four fucking times. What the hell is up with that? Is this an age thing that no one ever talks about? It like I’ve forgotten how to chew properly. It’s damned annoying.

So, 47. Not sure I feel about it yet. I’ll keep you updated.

Is there something wrong with me?

Feeling like I’m from another planet is something I’ve experienced repeatedly ever since I was a kid. Especially when I see people upset about something and I can’t understand what it is they’re upset about. I’ll spend more time than I probably should analyzing whatever it is to try and figure out what the issue is and I always end up confused.

Take, for example, the reaction to a new cover for Roald Dahl’s classic kid’s book Charlie & The Chocolate Factory. Penguin Books is re-releasing the title as part of their Penguin Modern Classics range of books aimed at adults — it being one of the first kids books to be released in that line — and as such they came up with a new cover that they felt “highlights the way Roald Dahl’s writing manages to embrace both the light and the dark aspects of life”. 

It didn’t go over well with fans of the book. On Penguin’s Facebook page the reaction was mostly negative with several folks saying they won’t be buying it. So what has everyone’s panties in a bunch? Here’s the cover:


So, yeah, it’s pretty creepy looking and I’m not entirely sure how it represents what the book is about, but I’m not sure it deserves comments like this:

I’m not sure why adults need a different cover anyway, but who was it who decided that “adult” meant “inappropriately sexualized”?

Inappropriately sexualized? Really? The kid looks a little China doll zombie-ish, but I don’t see anything particularly sexualized about it. OK, there’s a bit of a JonBenét Ramsey vibe to her, I’ll give you that.

OMG It looks like a cover of Lolita, and it’s the cover of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory??NONONONONO

Again, not seeing it. If anything it looks like a badly cropped shot of a couple of mannequins from a 1950’s J.C. Penney sale ad.

The inescapable, sexualised, subtext of this cover really does need to be reconsidered by the publishers. I struggle to understand how the executive decision was reached to choose this image. Bad mistake Penguin.

Again with claims that it’s sexualized. Is it the hair? The feather boa? What is it that’s saying SEX to these people?

This looks more like a cover for Valley of the Dahls.

OK, that one was funny.

Clearly a lot of people are seeing something in this cover that I am not. As someone who literally does judge books by their covers I completely agree that it’s a bad choice, but mainly because it doesn’t really have anything to do with the story. It turns out, according to the BBC, there’s a good reason for that:

The image is taken from a French magazine shoot by the photographers Sofia Sanchez and Mauro Mongiello, for a 2008 fashion article entitled Mommie Dearest.

Yeah, I can see that. It definitely looks like something from Mommie Dearest, which is a completely different sort of story than Charlie & The Chocolate Factory.

So I’m left to ponder: Is there something wrong with me that I’m not outraged by this supposedly hyper-sexualized image of a zombie girl?

Creeped out a bit? Sure. She’s got a death stare on her that’d fit in any horror movie. Not seeing the “sexy” in it though.

A small update on what I’ve been up to.

funny-thought-pleasing-everyone-cakeI’ve not blogged in awhile so I thought I’d at least get something up to say why. Mainly it’s because I’ve been pretty busy at work and have actually been spending more time than usual away from my computer once I get home. As I’ve mentioned previously, we’re also home hunting at the moment which has proven to be a lot less fun than I already thought it wouldn’t be.

In fact, this past Sunday we found a condo that we really liked and we decided to put a bid on it and things were going OK until a few hours later when our mortgage guy called to go over what our closing costs would be as well as the monthly payments. We’re trying to do this on my income only at the moment and the upshot is that the closing costs would’ve been about a grand and a half more than we actually had set aside for the downpayment/closing and then the monthly payment would be almost half of my net monthly income. Thus began my panic attack that evening. I won’t bore you with details, but suffice it to say that we withdrew the bid the next morning and decided to try looking for homes under $100,000, which there aren’t a whole hell of a lot of these days outside of cities we’d rather not live in. I’m sure at this point our Realtor, Mike Mazurek, is ready to pull his hair out, but he’s been incredibly patient with us.

Beyond driving our Realtor nuts, I’ve managed to get my dad’s computer upgraded to Windows 7 as my parents were still running Windows XP and support for that just dried up. Mom is supposed to get my old Win 7 Home license as I upgraded my machine to Windows 8.1 and moved my 7 Pro license to Anne’s machine, but when I went to upgrade Mom’s it was clear it wasn’t up to running it. I ended up bring it home so I could figure out what I need to do to get it to work and she’s currently sharing Dad’s PC. So if she’s not blogging quite as often as she used to, it’s my fault.

The only other new thing with us is Anne and I made the switch from Virgin Mobile to T-Mobile yesterday and upgraded our phones to a pair of Nexus 5s in the process. Took awhile for our numbers to port over, but we’re up and running and it’s nice to have a decent smartphone close at hand.

So that’s what I’ve been up to. Nothing particularly exciting other than freaking out over trying to buy a home. I’ll try to get back into posting more regularly. Now that I have the Nexus I may even try blogging from that. Maybe put up some pictures. Maybe even a vlog. Though I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for that.

We are officially looking for a home to buy.

CalvinonAdulthoodIt’s taken entirely longer than I ever imagined it would, but Anne and I are finally in a position to start looking for a house to buy. Having read umpteen million horror stories of first-time buying experiences over the years it goes without saying that we are a little intimidated by the whole process, but we’re jumping in with both feet because there’s really no other way to get started.

Ironically enough, our opportunity springs from Anne becoming unemployed. Her previous employer had an Employee Stock Purchase program as its form of retirement savings and as she is no longer employed there she had to option cash it out, which she did, and after taxes and penalties it’s just enough to make a 5% down-payment on a house of $150,000 or less. So that’s what we’re looking for.

We started browsing homes online Wednesday night on Zillow.com and I have to say that it’s amazing how quickly a real estate agent will get back to you even after 8PM. The first three homes we filled out “we’re interested” forms on called or texted me within 10 minutes of us hitting send. One of them already has a pending offer on it, which is a shame because it looked perfect online and was close to work. Another one had just listed that day and already had 11 offers so if we were pre-approved (we’re not) and ready to make a fast decision (we’re not) then it was an option. We passed on it. The third one in Whitmore Lake we’re scheduled to go look at this evening after work. Of the three, it’s the one we were least excited about — it’s an old house built in 1940 — but we figure it doesn’t hurt to look so we will.

All of the agents are, of course, trying to lock us into using them for any additional searches and that brings up the first problem we’re facing: How do you know which agent is willing to put up with us long enough to find a good deal on a home? A coworker suggested I ask each one how many homes they would have to show us before they got annoyed. I have a feeling we’re going to be a particular pain in the ass because A) we need something that’s ready to move into as I’m far from a handy man and I won’t be able to afford a contractor anytime soon, B) being that I’m buying a home so late in life I have every intention of making it the only home I ever buy… unless I win the lotto, C) I’d prefer to have city water/sewer and a finished basement, though that’s not a deal breaker if it’s a really good buy, and D) I’d prefer to avoid places with Home Owner Associations.

Our lease comes to an end in May and we need to let the apartment complex know if we intend to renew it a month ahead of time and that’s the second problem we’re facing. Rent is likely to go up (jumped nearly $200 last year) and if we try to do a 6 month or a monthly it’ll be even more ridiculous. So do we sign up for a year and then break it when we find a home? I think our agreement includes a clause allowing us to do so if we buy a house, but I’d have to double check it to be sure. We’re going to go into the office and discuss it with management soon.

So, yeah, the next weeks and/or months are sure to be filled with joy and peace as we undertake what I understand to be one of the more stressful life events you can engage in. Change is always fun, but if we don’t do it now I don’t think we’ll ever own a home of our own. Feel free to leave your horror stories of first-time home buying in the comments and, if you have any advice, that would be good too.