Monthly Archives: March 2010

Home purchase at turtle speed

I don’t know if it is a California vs. Illinois thing, a 2010 vs 2002 thing, or a combination, but its feels like it is taking forever for us to actually get our house.

In 2002, we set a closing date when we signed a few pieces of paper for the offer, applied for the mortgage with a few more signatures, and then showed up at the closing to sign the lions share of the papers and turn over our financial input (which was the proceeds of the sale of our other house earlier that same day). After the signing we had the keys and the legal permission to occupy the property. On top of that, everything was done well before the closing. We did have a longer time between the accepted offer and the closing since we had to list and sell our other house in the mean time, so that may have helped – a bit.

But this time, we kept having to sign more and more papers, culminating yesterday with a very large signing at the title company which felt an awful lot like our closings in Illinois – and I did a total of 6 of them, three purchases, one sale and two refinances (the other two sales we missed for various reasons). We also turned over most of our financial input. (A slight glitch because of multiple estimates of closing costs, and the fact that we didn’t get the final number until just before yesterdays appointment, cause us to have to wire some funds from Illinois this morning). Yet, we still don’t have keys nor rights to officially occupy the property. Everyone is confident that we’ll get these before Friday – our mortgage broker is talking about “funding” tomorrow. However, I’m not sure that funding will also let us record the sale and take ownership or not.

If I understand what our real estate agent says, we might be OK tomorrow since it is the end of the month. But it is also a state holiday in California, so the county recorder may be closed. So I’m hoping that we’ll get the keys tomorrow or Thursday at the latest.

And, this would all be much less frustrating if I hadn’t expected to have the keys last Monday since that was our closing date at the time of acceptance.

I Just Figured Something Out…

Somethings that should have been obvious to me if I’d bothered to think about it.

Because they aren’t available in the US through any legitimate means, I downloaded copies of seasons two and three of The Sarah Jane Adventures from a less-than-legitimate source recently. Since these were AVI files, I used a utility to convert them for import into iTunes. Just now I finished watching the first episode, or part one of the first episode, and noticed that the audio kept getting further and further out of sync with the video. I then started watching the second episode and noticed the same thing.

When I mentioned this to Tara, she remembered that the same thing happened on one or both of the similar Dr. Who downloads I’d made (one before the 9th Doctor episodes premiered here in the US, and one when we managed to miss the last episode both of a season and of a multi-part episode due to a move or similar occurrence).

It was then I realized why this happens – the difference between the PAL and NTSC frame rates. I’m betting that during the sequence of pulling these off of British TV in PAL format and converting them to either DVD (for the Dr Who episodes) or iTunes for play on a marginally NTSC environment (NTSC from the DVD, on a US based computer from iTunes) the video is getting converted frame per frame, but the audio remains at the same rate. So over time the audio and the video get further and further out of sync.

Now, if the problem isn’t actually present in the Divx encoded .avi files, then there may be a better way to get it converted to play on my NTSC set systems. But if the problem exists in my source material then I’m probably stuck with it. (While writing this up I did find a frame-rate setting in the video convert I used and I’m seeing if it helps – but I’m not remembering which frame rate is which, so I may have just made the problem worse)

I’m Trying to Figure This One Out

There are reports this morning (I cannot find a link online) that a Continental flight from Newark to Los Angles had to divert to Farmington NM when a passenger had a heart attack.

I can understand landing ASAP in that situation. But what I cannot understand is diverting to Farmington instead of Albuquerque? Considering that the plane was probably at, or near, its “cursing altitude” so it would take some time to descend to landing. So did that make Farmington significantly closer than Albuquerque.

According to the TV reports, because the runway was too short, the plane had to be offloaded completely and two other planes were used to get the plane (I assume), everyone and all of their luggage to LAX. Had they instead landed in Albuquerque, they could have taken back off after refueling – the strip at ABQ/KAFB regularly handles large planes, and has handled 747s on occasion (albiet ones from a pair that may be specially configured for short runways). Additionally, Albuquerque has the state’s only Level I trama center – not that the hospital in Farmington wouldn’t be able to handle a routine heart attack, but I’d think that they’d rather avoid the second airlift if it wasn’t routine.

So, as I said, I’m just wondering why the plane diverted to Farmington.

Moving Checklist

Let’s see where we are:

  • Arrange for movers – CHECK
  • Start DSL Installation – CHECK
  • Schedule Satellite TV Install – CHECK
  • Pack – In progress (albiet slowly)
  • Get final loan information and closing date – OOPS!

Since we didn’t get the second appraisal the lender ordered (pretty late in the process if you ask us) in time to get done until yesterday, we lost our original closing date of Monday. We’re in the home stretch, but still haven’t ordered loan documents (and I’m not sure if that is the last pre-close step for the mortgage broker, or if there is another one). So, we’re still hoping that we’ll get the documents so that we can close tomorrow or Saturday (but I’m not sure if the title company works on Saturday) so that we at least have the weekend to do stuff at the house before our move a week from Saturday.

I’m also a bit worried if we don’t close until Monday or Tuesday, because even though I tried to communicate that we’d be moving on April 3, Speakeasy and AT&T arranged for the DSL pre-install (i.e. the telco’s part of the install) for Monday, March 30. It should be OK even if we’re not there since the demarcation point is outside, but if we haven’t closed, I cannot make sure that the gate is unlocked when they arrive to do the work.

But I’m still being optimistic that this will all work out – at least most of the time.

Three Hours Post Treatment

About three hours ago I had about the simplest medical treatment I’ve ever done – I took one pill. OK, so the pill contained 117 milicurries of I(131), which will in short order find its way to my remaining thyroid tissue and limit most of its damage there. Over the next several days it should kill most of that tissue, so if there is any cancer left it should be killed.

Of course this means that for the next 5 days I have to take precautions, including sleeping in my office and using a separate bathroom. So far there hasn’t been too many issue – although Derrick had to chase the dog off of the air mattres on the floor that will serve as my bed for the rest of this week. We’ll see how this evening goes with the cat, which is the biggest concern.

On the other hand, I’m no longer on a restricted diet. Tonight we had pizza (which, perhaps coincidently, was also the last dinner I had before starting the restricted diet), and may go to The Sunset Market tomorrow. Pretty soon, probably Monday, I should get back onto Weight Watchers to get the weight and waist I’ve put on the last two months back off.

I can also resume my thyroid replacement, which will probably not be enough. Over the next couple of months we’ll get the thyroid levels balanced and I should start feeling better.

Now, if we could just make the home purchase process finish out as simply…



Tomorrow at 2:00 (PDT), I show up at the hospital to go through the typical ton of paperwork for even an outpatient admittance (even though I’ve filled this same stuff out at least 4 and possibly 5 times in the last year), and then back to get a dose of I(131) totaling somewhere between 100 and 200 milicuries.

For the next five or so days, I’ll need to be careful about how and where I use the bathroom, clean out the shower when I’m done, use rubber gloves for shared things like phones, sleep in a separate bed, and probably hardest of all, keep the cat off of my lap.


We’ve gotten the second appraisal, and we should be good to go. There are some items from the home inspection that we’d planned on taking care of after closing, but now will have to be taken care of by the seller. There are a couple of others that were already taken care of, but someone will have to document. They may fix a couple of the other things I was worried about. I just hope that they don’t decided that this is too much work and cancel the sale. (I’m pretty sure that they won’t)

On the other hand, the lender is asking for even more paperwork, including an explanation of a number of deposits in Tara’s account that correspond to her paychecks, that they already have.

Since it took until a day AFTER our initial closing date for this second appraisal, we don’t know when our actual closing will be. Our mortgage broker claims to be sure that it won’t slip into next month, which would make a huge diference in how much we have to bring into the closing, since we’d have to pay most of a month’s mortgage payment, rather than a few days.

But since she is reasonable sure, we’ve got the movers scheduled for April 3, which is a Saturday instead of the Friday I’d have preferred. So, we’ll have a kid as well as a dog and a cat to avoid tripping over during the move.

(Actually we’ve got a plan to have the pets at the new house before the move starts, so we’ll only have the kid to trip over)


Probably the most stressful is Derrick. He’s been having fewer good days, and his bad days are a lot worse. We’ve got an appointment with a psychologist, but not until after spring break in a couple of weeks. Until then we’ve got to try our best to deal with escalating temper and other behavior and self-control issues.

Story Start

A week or so ago, a seed of an idea got planted in my brain (I blame jumping from the BBC Radio version of The Lord of the Rings to Ben Bova’s Mars). This afternoon since I choose to walk to the train, I had some time to feed and water it a bit, so now I’ve got the start to a story that will probably end up going no further.

Before the story, comments about my writing abilities


Health: I’m FINALLY scheduled to get the radiation procedure. Next Monday and Tuesday I’ll get the injections that will compensate for the fact that I still have a fair amount of a thyroid and then will get the actual I(131) on Wednesday.

House: We’re probably in the home stretch. But, someone (FHA or lender, I’m not sure) requested a second appraisal to account for the fact that our purchase price was more than 120% of the seller’s purchase price just a few months before. And they are now claiming that they won’t get this second appraisal out of underwriting until Friday, which is a bit tight for a Monday closing.

The good news is that the appraisal was for our purchase price (although I was hoping for one that would let us say we’ve got enough instant equity to look at jumping to a Credit Union mortgage and dropping the FHA).

I’ve let our mortgage broker know about my medical procedure in hopes that that fact will increase the priority of getting our account finalized.

How A Message Can Ruin a Decent Story

This weekend, I downloaded and – after a bit of manipulation to get them into two files instead of five or six – watched the recent two-part episode of Star Trek: New VoyagesPhase II, parts One and Two of “Blood and Fire.”

Since watching them, something about the two episodes has been bothering me. Finally this morning I realized what it was: the writer’s desire to send a message with their story kept poking up and getting in the way of what is an otherwise pretty decent story. And, when this reminds me of another similar incident where a play I saw years ago at The Victory Garden theater (in Chicago) – something like Spinning Into the Blue – was similarly distracted by the playwrights message, I realized there was another minor factor, the fact that the message in both cases could have been changed, or just gone away, with a few minor changes in the script.

Warning Spoilers Ahead