The Great Move of 2015 is complete.

I keep meaning to blog about something, but this time I have a good excuse. We spent the last week packing up everything we own into a million different boxes where we won’t ever be able to find that one thing we need right this moment ever again. We did this because we were moving to a new apartment.

We didn’t want to move as we’ve been pretty happy in Ann Arbor, but the owners of the apartment complex we lived in (Mill Creek Townhouses) decided to hire Village Green to run their apartment complex a couple of years back and Village Green likes to think they can turn any apartment into a “luxury” apartment by putting in new cabinets, fancy lighting fixtures, and black appliances in the kitchens and raising the rent to an unholy level. When we first moved in we rented a 3 bedroom townhome with a basement for $1050 a month which was a stretch at the time, but Anne was working and we could afford it. When Courtney decided to move out to live with her mom so should could attend college in Grand Rapids a year later we moved down to a 2 bedroom with a basement that cost us a much more reasonable $735 a month. That was 5 years ago. In those years Village Green jumped our rent considerably each year such that my last year of rent was $1010 a month — almost as much as we paid for the 3 bedroom 6 years ago.

This has nothing to do with this entry, but I thought it was amusing.

This has nothing to do with this entry, but I thought it was amusing.

We ended up finding another 2 bedroom townhouse with a basement for $810 a month in Canton which, if you’ve been reading this blog since its inception, you may recognize as the town I lived in back when SEB first came into being. We lived in Canton from 1998 to 2005 and only left because that was the year of my first real bout of unemployment. It’s been 10 years and moving back feels a lot like going home to a place that (so far at least) seems to have only gotten better since we left. We’re losing about 100 square feet of living space in the move as the new apartment is slightly smaller than the old one. This is particularly noticeable in the kitchen where the fewer number of cabinets is significant, forcing us to make some decisions on what goes in the cabinets and what gets moved to storage in the basement. We’ll find a way to make it work, though, and I think we’ll be pretty happy. More importantly we’ll have a little more breathing room in the budget than we’ve had in a couple of years. If you have to leave someplace you were happy with it’s always nice to go to someplace else you were also very happy with.

Technically I was on vacation last week, but it sure doesn’t feel like it as we spent it trying to figure out what to put in which boxes and what to throw away and where the stuff we were keeping would go in the new place and hoping the movers we hired didn’t kill us for being the disorganized, messy, hoarding people that we are. Fortunately the movers were awesome as fuck and kicked much ass and told us that we had done an excellent job compared to a lot of their customers. I suspect they were just being nice, but they got all our crap loaded into their truck and unloaded in the new place in around 7 hours or so in heat that felt more like late August than late May. They even disassembled and reassembled our bed for us which was probably the thing I was most unqualified to do. If you live in Michigan and want to hire some professional movers we’d happily recommend Morse Moving and Storage as they did a kick ass job for us.

So that’s what we’ve been up to. We’re in the process of unpacking now which is going to be a long process, but we’ll get through it. We did decide to make the second bedroom into a Den for our computers instead of putting them in the basement like we did in AA. So now when I use my webcam there won’t be a tower of boxes behind me. Maybe I’ll try some actual vlogging now.

A quick roundup of stuff.

wellshitSo I see the blog is getting dusty again. Here’s what I’ve been up to instead of writing stuff.

Mostly it’s been looking for a new place to live. Our lease on our apartment here in Ann Arbor is up at the end of May and, much like the last several years, the folks at Village Green are asking for a huge jump in rent for us to stay another year (from $1,010 to $1,145). We’re living hand to mouth as it is already and so we’re on the hunt for someplace new which, unfortunately, means leaving Ann Arbor. We thought we’d found a place in Whitmore Lake, but the guy they thought was leaving in May has opted to stay another year and so they don’t have any units that’ll be available before we have to move.

Now we’re looking at possible renting a manufactured house in Novi which would put me within 15 minutes of work, but they’re already finding it hard to just show us the unit we’d be renting and that makes me wonder if moving there would be a mistake. We saw a unit that someone else is renting last Thursday and they promised we could see the one we were being offered either Monday or Tuesday, but here is is Wednesday and I actually had to take the day off tomorrow to maybe see it because reasons. They have an move-in incentive of getting the first month for free, but that promotion ends tomorrow if we don’t sign up and I’m not signing up until I see exactly what it is I’m signing up for. So depending on how things go tomorrow my hunt may or may not be over.

The SEB Podcast revival is still going to happen, but I’m not sure exactly when. Dave has been busy with remodeling his kitchen out in Denver and the month of May will have Anne and I packing for the move to wherever at the end of the month. So maybe we’ll squeeze it in and maybe it’ll be June. Still, Dave and I totally plan on doing it and we may re-ask about topics depending on how long it takes us to get our shit together.

Beyond that, the weather has improved a bit as of late, but I’m still not back to walking as often as I should. I’ve made it out a couple of times with my buddy Greg, but it’s still not a routine. My weight is hovering right in the mid-280’s so at least I haven’t put back on all that I’ve lost. I thought my Fitbit had crapped out on me as it stopped syncing for several days and I got on Twitter to moan about it and the FitBit folks responded with the secret of how to do a reset on the device. It’s back to working again and reminding me that I am one lazy motherfucker.

If you stopped by SEB today you may have found it unresponsive. Seems the Varnish cache that Dreamhost puts on the account needed to have its memory settings tweaked and was killing the site for several hours. Alas, the couple of posts I had intended to write (other than this one) have since withered and died. I’ll try to post something in the next day or so.

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.

The great house search of 2014 has come to an end.

And not because we actually found a house to buy. Rather we called it off for health reasons.

Anne’s been suffering from a chronically sore back for some time now and our doctor had her go get an MRI done to figure out if it was muscular, spinal, or neurological in nature. Turns out it was muscular and the solution, as always, is to lose weight. Given that’s something we’ve both been working at for awhile, our doctor suggested we consider some form of bariatric surgery for Anne. Our health insurance has a $3,000 deductible so it made sense that we’d have to use some of the money we originally planned to use as a downpayment on a home to cover the deductible so we called our Realtor and let him know. Mike was great about understanding our decision and if you ever need a patient and hard-working Realtor in Michigan then you should look him up.

We started looking into the various forms of bariatric surgery available only to discover that our insurance doesn’t cover weight loss surgery of any kind. So now we go from having to cover a $3,000 deductible to having the cover the whole cost, which can average between $20,000 and $35,000. Hoo boy. I think it’s safe to say I will not be buying a home anytime in the next several years, but I’d much rather continue to rent and have a healthy and happy wife than a miserable one and a home that we can’t take care of because we’re not healthy. Apparently some of the clinics that specialize in this surgery have financing available and we’re looking into how many arms and legs that’ll take to acquire.

Why yes, yes I am.

Why yes, yes I am.

As for me, I’ve given up on trying to use the elliptical machine we bought and I’m going to try plain old walking for 30 minutes at a time now that the weather is getting better. I’m thinking I will try to sell the elliptical and maybe put the money towards a treadmill (for use in the winter or on rainy days) as that’s something Anne and I should both be able to use of a little more easily. We spent about $1,000 on the elliptical and it’s been lightly used enough that I think I could get maybe $750 for it. Anne and I recently upgraded our smartphones to Nexus 5 devices so I may try reinstalling one of the healthy eating/exercise apps I had tried to make use of previously and give that another go. At the moment I’m still hovering between 290 and 300 pounds and I’d really like to drop below the 290 mark sometime soon. My back hurts occasionally and my legs are sore more often than not so I need to find the motivation to make this a habit soon.

Lastly, our old queen mattress set is getting pretty long in the tooth and I’m sure some of our back issues are a result of it being worn out so we’ve been looking into spending a little of the money on a new king mattress and maybe a simple Ikea foundation to put it on. More specifically, I’m heavily considering ordering a Casper mattress as everything I’ve heard about it is pretty good. They make one model of mattress and it’s a combination of memory foam and latex foam. They fold it up into a box small enough to fit into a car and the price seems reasonable enough at $950 for a king with free shipping in the U.S.. Of course, as soon as I started looking into this new startup (they only came on the market back in April) I discovered a similar company called Tuft & Needle offering a similar product for an even better price. So clearly I have some more research to do, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to go with one of these two companies over the traditional route of visiting a local mattress store. If any of you out there have experience with either one then I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

So anyway, that’s what we’ve been up to lately and why I won’t be joining the ranks of home owners for a bit longer.

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 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.

Movies vs Life!

Movies are cool. People in movies are cool. You’ll never be as cool as the people in movies:

And the inevitable sequel:

Real life kinda sucks in comparison.

The more things change…

Today’s XKCD shows us that bitching about the pace of modern life and the ongoing debasement of the general public’s IQ has been a popular pastime for many, many years…