Move Over.

When we last left our team, they were on the brink of devastation. Time and options running out, funds depleted, hope lost.

Or was it?

Our intrepid family never gave up the fight. Rather, they soldiered on, remaining stoic, agile, adaptive and patient. In the end, triumph would shower its splendor on the family and once again prove that good things happen to good people.

Yes, we have our new house.

Things did not go as smooth as we'd hoped, but it is now the Sunday following and we have a great deal unpacked and tomorrow starts our lives again from our shiny new domicile.

As our regular readers already know, Tuesday was stressful. It was the day before closing and we didn't have a number to put on a check to bring to the meeting to pay for the house. The story about Mrs. A's brother and his wife waiting in front of the bank the day of the closing would come to pass for us as well. On Tuesday it was told to us that we'd have to push closing back a couple days, maybe even next week. On Wednesday we were a wreck because all our utilities were switching over and the new people would be in our house on Friday. More on that later.

So on Wednesday I get a call from Mrs. A saying we have to be ready at a moment's notice because we may very well be closing today, but we still don't have a number. After asking if she should just bring her cell phone and wait in front of the bank for the call, Mrs. A was told that wouldn't be a bad idea. For real. These people do this for a living. So 30 minutes before close, they call her and say just bring X amount and the title company will cut you a check for whatever amount over you've paid.

That's right. Change. We got change for our purchase, like we were at Diamond Shamrock buying a Watchamacalit and a bottle of Disani.

Anyway, so Mrs. A has some bank problems on top of that, namely that the amount she required needs a manager's approval and the manager wasn't going to be back until 2:30, half hour after our close. So we ending up getting two checks to break it up so the teller could do it sans approval.

10 minutes to close.

Mrs. A drives as fast as she can to close and when we get there, there's our broker and realtor ready to go, but not the title company. They're still getting things ready. So the broker checks her watch and announces that she can't really wait, she's got to get back to her office so she starts the proceedings.

I'd like to take a break and talk about these two people. First, the realtor was a very nice guy. He did a lot of back and forth and helped us out a lot when we knew nothing about our situation. Toward the end, he went to bat for us quite a bit and got lower prices when needed and dates extended if we were having problems. The broker is a lady we've worked with before, and will again. I think the problems from this go 'round stemmed not from her actions but that of an associate who handled our case right up until the end. At the end, she took the time to come to closing, knocked a bunch of stuff off, waved a bunch of fees and said that when we refinanced she'd do it for free. It almost felt like she was trying to cover for some mistakes that were made.

Because let's face it, if two months isn't enough time to shop around for a lender and insurance and get a good rate locked in, then I'm in the wrong line of work.

So we sign all the papers, but no key. The key is still in the hands of the owners. But we'll get back to that. Time for the big move.

The movers show up at 9:07 am on Thursday, July 21st. We have exactly that day to be completely out of the house, hence the hiring of a moving company. We figure with all the house packed and moved into the garage and most of the furniture already broken down, the move should take maybe 4-5 hours. I'm surprised we thought that. We've done this before and it takes days. That's why you rent a U-Haul for the weekend. Actually, it probably wouldn't have taken that long, but we ran into trouble. The new house people were still in their house. They had to wait for the closing to get money for their new place, so they waited till the 21st as well. Their movers got there at 7, which meant, and they said as much, they'd be out before noon.

Well, everyone was behind a bit. By 11:30 we had our first truck load ready, but the new house wasn't vacant, so we sent the movers to lunch. We had lunch as well then went back to clean a little. At about 1:30 we checked the new house, there was no one in it, but no key and there was a handful of stuff inside. A call to the realtor and he pauses for a moment as says, "You know what? The accounts funded, it's your house now. Do whatever you want. You don't have to wait for that guy." So we were going to have the realtor come out and give us a key when the old owner showed up with his cleaning crew. He was an ok dude I guess, a bit removed and stuffy, but decent. He showed us the speaker system in the house and had some diagrams drawn up for the hookups. Left the garage door openers and all the HOA and manuals in a drawer, like you do. We did the same thing, we left keys, openers, hardwood cleaner, oh and some trash.

But we'll get back to that.

So we unload the first load and head back to get the second, which is all boxes this time. On the estimate, Mrs. A said we had 100 boxes, because really, after about 40-50, who's counting anymore. The moving guys say they stopped counting at 250. So, we're going to get charged more. That's fine. Plus we didn't mention the trampoline, the 2nd fridge, the freezer and a host of other smaller bits. But the movers were great guys, totally took it in stride and were very polite the entire day.

Second load done, movers are sent home. It's about 6pm. There is still a half of a garage full of things at the old house that I have to go back for and fit into one of our SUVs. I get one load done before I'm completely exhausted and have to call it a day. The next morning we get coffee and Mrs. A takes the kids to school while I get the remaining items, including a 3' x 4' x 4' work bench and tool hanging board. Somehow I managed to get all of it into the car. We leave behind two very full trash cans, about 15 flattened empty boxes and a shelf that we didn't want in the garage. The house itself is immaculate inside.

Finally done. All items in the new house, in the garage or in some cars. We give the new owners a call to say congratulations, if you have any questions call us, hope your move is going well. They try to give us the "well you weren't out by the 21st so we're only going to give you $900 of your $1000 deposit back" at which point Mrs. A says, "What are you talking about? We were out last night? You guys aren't moving in yet?" Totally snows him. She's great.

So we're in the new place. First off, there's no gas yet. We don't know this until last night when we're trying to make dinner and the range just clicks repeatedly with no fwoomp sound. Gas company's closed on Sunday unless it's an emergency, so we're fucked for a hot shower until Monday. So Mrs. A calls up and says she tried the stove and saw a shimmer in the air like a puff of gas, but there's no ignition and she's worried. Hey, sudden emergency. Sunday a guy comes out and sets us up.

That wasn't the biggest problem. The biggest issue, the most stress inducing event came from the cable install. First off, the cable company has contractors that do the installations. Not all the time, but some times. Enough that you know it works like that. So our install guy comes out between 8 and 12 on the day of the move, calls first, and we say go ahead if the people moving out will let you in.

They won't, assholes. So he has to come back later when his route is done. He does, works till about 9pm and has to call it a day and come back tomorrow.

Now, when you leave a job and it isn't finished, when do you think you should start on in the next day? Right away or after your shift? I know how these guys work and they put all their crap jobs at the end of the day so they have good numbers for installs. That way they can push off all the problem children till later and still make good numbers. But that's a weird line of work and I'm glad the rest of the world doesn't work like that. "Sorry boss, I know I didn't finish that heart surgery before 5, but I'll get to it first thing tomorrow, after I do 3 kidneys, a bladder and a liver."

So the guys comes back out on Friday in the evening and tries again to get all our stuff hooked up. It's really becoming obvious there's something going on that's preventing him from finishing his job. Either we have the most fucked up pre-wired cable system in the western world or this guy's a giant mook brain. Mrs. A is getting pissed because every hour she's not online she's losing money. She just sent out emails to brides and they have no way to contact her. Her brother was nice enough to put our web server on his network so her site stayed up, but no email. She was getting really out of sorts.

So they tech wraps up Friday saying we have a few options, blah blah blah, he can't make what we want work, even though the previous owners apparently had no problems with it. We say we'll take option A, whatever it was, and he says he'll be back out tomorrow with the needed equipment for that plus his supervisor to assist. So goes another night without access for poor Mrs. A whose about to come unglued. Luckily we had some company and some liquor so she was ok for a while.

Saturday comes around and about noon or so the supervisor shows up and inside of about 15 minutes figures out the problem and in about an hour has us up and running. He does mention that there were a lot of problems and a lot of splits that were screwing up the signal and what not, but I'm still convinced the first guy didn't know beans from bollo ties when it came to cable.

But, we got access, she got her server back, we got it up last night and set the rest of the home LAN up this morning. It's like it was at the old house.

I know, that doesn't really give you an idea of what the house is like, but be patient. It's not like we're moving soon, we've got a 30 year mortage to pay for. I will say that we got the space we wanted and needed and everything just seems to fit really well. Tomorrow after work, Lil Miss Austin and I are going to walk around the house counting light switches, cuz there's a freakin ton of them.


It can happen to you.

My brother in law and his wife recently moved into a new house. They moved about 3-4 months ago. They told us horror stories about sitting out in front of their bank mere hours before closing, waiting for the call from the mortage company to give them their closing number. They were on the phone with them that morning while the company said they were still working the numbers.

Oh my god, we exclaimed. That's horrible. I bet that was totally stressful. That company is a bunch of jerkholes.

Yes, don't use them.

Now it's our turn. Our house sold in less than 12 hours, we got full price and the buyers were already approved. The place we were buying was priced to sell and was not taking contigency offers. They wanted to move and move quickly. We'd been house hunting for 3 months previous and had already started working with the mortgage company two months before even finding a house.

It is now less than 24 hours from our appointed closing time and our mortage lender hasn't given us a number. You heard right. They've had almost two months to work on this and yet it's the 11th hour and still no official number. Well, there is a number, but it changes with the wind and could threaten to push our closing date back a day or more.

Our utlities will be cut off in two days. Our phone number will change. Our mail will go to the new house. There will be cable and phone people at the new house in two days. We will have movers at the old house at 9am on Thursday. Our temporary lease to the new buyers runs out on the 21st.

And the mortgage company doesn't have a number for us.

Our entire house is in the garage or in boxes.

And the mortgage company doesn't have a number for us.

Apparently, our PMI has changed. Mortgage insurance. It's changed. What they thought it was, isn't. It's going to be more. More. On the day before closing it jumped by $200, making our mortgage exceed the limit of our income just enough to where we can still afford it, but only if we don't eat.

I'm super pissed. Mrs. A is sick on top of all of this. These guys had two months. We gave them everything they asked for within 12 hours of them asking. Sometimes on the same day. We were originally going to close on June 30th, shouldn't they have been ready by then?

This whole process has been one big clusterfuck. We waited and waited and waited for various parties to contact us with anything they'd need; paperwork, signatures, deposits. All we asked is that they keep us informed. I feel like no one in this situation has had our best interest at heart, they only want their points or percentage or money.

Had our realtor told us that our buyers had already closed, we could have told the mortgage company and got them to start sooner. Had the mortgage company asked for all the paperwork they needed up front instead of one piece every week for 5 weeks, they'd be done by now. Aren't we paying these guys? Aren't we giving them several hundred to several thousand dollars to make this work? We have decent credit, we pay our bills on time, we only have one paid off credit card. We own a home, we make good money. Why is this so fucking difficult to figure out?

It's the DAY BEFORE CLOSING!!! We're sitting in front of a bank waiting for you to call and give us a number, the number you said you'd have a month ago. Not a number that's three times what you promised us, not a number as we walk into the title company office. What's wrong with you people?

If I did my job like this, I'd be fired.

And I can't understand it. The first time we bought a house, it was a snap. Loan went through great. We got an awesome rate, all we had to do was fix a few things on our credit. So now, we've had a mortgage for three years AND have fixed part of our credit and yet we're having problems. So, the next time (and trust me, there won't fucking be a next time) my guess is that we'll have owned the home for 20-30 years and refinanced or paid it off and we'll go to buy a boat and it'll take 7 years to get a loan and it'll cost 175,000 dollars. That's apparently how the system works. The more you work, the harder you have to work next time.



Geek Stuff

First, I had a shirt design approved to be voted on over at threadless.com.

My Threadless.com Submission

Next, I did some coloring for a shirt for the guys at Poorboy Comics. They should be selling them at San Diego Comic Con. You can see that here.

Next I got all my stickers and shirts in the mail for the Chicago convention. If you'd like a Polaris Comics shirt or a Project: Gemini shirt, please go here.

Finally my comic is completely drawn. I need to letter it and do a cover. Then print. I'm pretty psyched but I'm not out of the woods yet.

Carry on.



It's that time of year again, when addicts like me tune to cable channel 470 to watch the Tour de France. I love the Tour, I've been a fan since Jr. High School. In high school I did some training with the idea that I'd try out for the University of Colorado cycling team. My heros back in the day were Greg Lemond and Stephen Roche. I've always know about Miguel Indurain and Jan Ullric (von Lichtenstein) and I'm pretty sure I remember hearing about Lance Armstrong even then. CU is in Boulder, CO and is a prime mountain training area for world class cyclists. Moving to Austin and hearing he was a local boy, I was a bit torn. I thought he was local to Colorado. Maybe somewhere, a small city in Idaho also claims him as their own.

At any rate, it's that time of year again for OLN to gain a marked increase in viewership for a couple weeks. I love watching cycling and always have, but it's like having a love for rugby or jai-alai or fencing, it's just not something the average joe sports fan is rabid about in the States, unless you're from Austin.

There are Go Lance tags all over the roads here. The yellow wristband is an epidemic, was since this time last year. You can't go 10 feet without hearing news about Lance, not The Tour, but Lance. I'd like to know who won each stage, who's wearing the white, green and polka-dot jersey, not just the yellow. I want to watch each stage unfold. I want to watch the heartbreaks and triumphs and falls and sprints. I want to see the speedy time trials with the post modern futuristic helmets. I want to see the peleton swallow up the leaders.

I don't want News 8 Austin and NPR to give away the endings before I can get home to watch it. Time delay or not, people, there are fans that would like to watch this stuff. Talk about it tomorrow.

So anway, the viewing in our house now is OLN and Futurama and that's about it. Besides, I should be drawing.

Page 15 is done.


Happy Birthday, America!

My brother turns 29 and the country turns 229. Isn't that weird.

Little story about my brother and America. He was born on June 29th, 1976. Bicentennial Baby. If I remember correctly, his due date was July 4th, 1976. I don't think he would have gone through life without any ass-kickings had he been born on that date, but damn that would have been cool.

This is all heresay because I was just turning 3 myself so what do I know. I'm pretty sure my mom (if she'd ever comment on this) would set the record straight. I know I was supposed to be born in August but came out about five weeks early weighing in at a scrawny 5 lbs. 6 oz.

So, it's America's birthday. I'm writing this a day later, but you get the idea. Last night was the first night in a long time that Mrs. A and I didn't have to call the cops because our neighbors were firing off firecrackers at two in the morning. In fact, it was a relatively calm evening. Kids went to sleep pretty well, dog didn't freak out. There were a few pops and what not, but overall I think it was quiet by about 10:30. Mrs. A had a wicked headache, but after some drugs and some readin' to, she passed out. And, AND, Yogi slept all through the night!

I thought he was dead.

Most parents do that. First time a baby sleeps through the night when they're infants especially, you get that mindset in the morning of, "Oh, God! They've got a blanket wrapped around their head!" Now it's just a relief. He's over a year old and the likelihood of him not being able to breath is greatly reduced, so it's a blessing and nothing to panic over. In fact, tonight he'll wake up at 2am again.

Last night was also the first time in a long time that we actually had fireworks to light ourselves. Yes, they were sparklers. Yes we got some pictures. Yes someone got burned a little. I remember back to my days as a kid when dad would come home with a box of stuff from across the county line and we'd spend the evening in the backyard with the black cats, bottle rockets, sparkler tanks, pinwheels, roman candles, smoke worms and punks. We'd have a few friends or family over and do a bar-b-que or order pizza and just have a blast, pun intended.

The height of the gun powder frenzy was the pop-bottle rocket fights I'd have with my friends when we were in high school. We'd stand in the cul-du-sac and light a PBR and wait till the fuse was almost out, then we'd throw it at a friend. Ah, yes. Nothing like the possibility of digit loss or blindness to make an afternoon more enjoyable. We had a neighbor when I was growing up that made his own fireworks. Everyone had this guy as a neighbor growing up. He had 7 fingers, a but of pet turtles and snakes. He invented a lot of things. He also had a pick-up truck and smelled of tobacco and dirt. He had a great backyard, very lush and jungular. Anyway, he'd always put on a great show. But the 7 fingers is why Mrs. Austin won't let me play with fireworks now. Even though I'd never actually deal directly with powder and fuse assembly, the danger of blowing my hand off or one of the kids eyes out is just too much.

I'd love to find a friend who owns a farm. I had a friend in CO who lived occassionally with his grandma on the family farm and we'd go up on the 4th to have a bon fire and dinner and firework shooting party. Man that was great. That was in college when we could drink too.

I'm making a great case for myself, aren't I? Drinking and blowing your fingers off. Yee haw!