Thursday, January 28, 2010

God is good.  Very, very good.

So I took my car into my shop a couple of days ago to have them listen to the motor and give it an oil change.  I switched back to redline oil, since there are so many reported problems with mobil1 synth.  Well, they do the oil change, listen to the car, put it up on the rack and poke around... and nothing. the motor sounds great.  Final word was, the top end of the motor was probably starved for oil, making some metal on metal contact where the springs are.  Should be good to go now.  That's great to hear, since now I don't haveto drop 3k for a new motor and installation.

I did my taxes on that same day.  We increased our deductions last year since our tax return was so large, so I wasn't expecting a huge return- but a little something that would help us with unexpected expenses as we move into our new house here soon.  Well, bam, our tax refund was even larger than last year's.  The amount we tithe per month has almost doubled throughout the year- because of our personal tithing goals, income increases, and whatnot.  God is faithful- that's for sure.  The tithe was a big factor in the tax return, as was the interest paid on our home loans, some childcare costs, and all that tax that was paid on my bonus (my bonus for some reason always bumps me up into the higher tax bracket, so it's taxed at something crazy like 50%).

We managed to lock in a 5% interest rate on our new home loan.  That's incredible- rates were starting to edge up right when we were getting ready to make an offer, and bam- they dip back down to 5% for just enough time for us to lock in that rate.  This drops our payments a good $30 a month from our initial estimates, and gets us in a little more comfortable territory.

We got the house we wanted for 5k less than we expected, further lowering our mohtly payment from our estimates by a good $70 a month.

The sellers agreed to all inspection items to be replaced/repaired, and they might do more than what is requested.


Soooo.... all in all, God is GOOD, all the time, and He is faithful to fulfill His promises in the bible.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

So,

After writing a beginner's guide to my latest favorite game, Modern Warfare 2, and distributing it to a few people that needed some serious help, the guy that runs the Microsoft Sidewinder blog noticed and asked me to write a few articles on their blog for that game.  Since it is the most popular game in the history of gaming.  Well since then, I've written several more articles on that blog that have gotten some fair amounts of attention (a few hundred legitamate hits a day from the blog), the Sidewinder team decided to send me some free hardware.

I always was a HUUGE sidewinder fan- I had pretty much every controller they've ever made.  Sidewinder 3D pro, Strategic Commander, Voice Commander, Freestyle Pro, etc etc.  They canned that group several years ago when PC peripherals started winding down, unfortunately.  Well the team was re-created a couple years ago to mainly focus on keyboards and mice.  They've done a really great job with their latest creations, and I'm excited to help out the sidewinder team, and I'm very excited to play with the X6 keyboard and X8 mouse.  I just got them, and man, they are pretty cool.  Lots of great features, great for gaming, and a very nice tactile feel on the keys- a nice backlight on the keyboard, macro buttons, detachable num pad, and so on.  I'll probably write up a couple nice blog posts over on the http://www.sidewinderblog.com/ soon about them once I can play with them more, but wow it's a little surreal to be helping out one of the teams that helped define so much of my childhood time in front of a computer. :)

Ricky
I'm so frustrated at computer repair shops.  Recently a family member mentioned to me that they had their computer in a repair shop, and they were asking me for other potential options to the MINIMUM $500 REPAIR BILL they would charge just to pull data off of their hard drives.


WHAT?! $500 to just copy some data over?  I mean, maybe if the hard drive is smashed and they haveto use a clean room to get the data off the spindle. So I grabbed the computer from him, got one of those little USB backup drives, copied all his data over to the USB drive, (I bought some data recovery software for fifty bucks to take data off of the bum drive) and gave it back to them last night.  eighty bucks for the new drive, fifty bucks for the software, and a few hours of pulling the drives out, setting up the data copy, and verifying drive integrity etc.  all done.

This just ticks me off that these lame computer repair companies gouge so much.  I've heard so many stories of computer repair shops claiming people need new RAM, a new motherboard, and all this other junk for $800, when really... it's a software issue.  OR telling people they should reformat their computer for every minor little issue that they could fix if they were a little less lazy.  I qouted out a new computer for this family member, and the entire qoute came out to about $430, with 4 gigs of ram, two processors, new hard drives, and all that jazz.  And repair companies want often times double that just to repair bits and pieces that are only at max 100 bucks?  so lame.

Anyways.  That's my rant against computer repair shops.

Ricky

Monday, January 11, 2010

We put an offer down on the #1 house on our list a few days ago after looking at some more.  We identified our potential 2nd and 3rd choices, since we agreed the chances of us actually getting our #1 pick was pretty low.  That house was listed at 389k, and we'd haveto buy it for 375k with them paying 10k of closing, effectively 24k less than what it was listed for.  Sort of a low ball offer, so we didn't think they would accept.

We put our first offer in for 370k, them paying 10k closing, figuring if they do counter, we'd go up to 373k and then 375k or something like that.  BUT, much to our surprise, they just accepted our first offer straight up.  There was one little thing they wanted to change, which is the neighborhood review contingency, which basically gives you a couple of days to see if you like the neighborhood and opt out if you don't.  We loved the neighborhood, by far one of the best parts of the house, so it was an easy choice to waive that.  Our real estate agent, Lesa, took a look at the local sex offender registry and asked someone locally about the neighborhood just to make sure they weren't trying to hide anything, and it all checked out perfectly.

It feels definitely like God is in control of this deal, because of a few details:

- We got the house for 5k less than we ever thought we could have gotten it for. This raises our comfort level a good deal.
-  We put our offer in 5k above a previous offer they had, and they completely ignored that offer because it was an insulting lowball.  But, they accepted our offer straight away.  That tells us we came in at the best possible price.
- The house is perfect for our needs/wants list.  Perfect neighborhood, 2 car garage, big back yard, 5 bedrooms, 2500 sq ft, enough to live in basically forever.  The few downsides to the house are all either minor, or something we can fix down the road.
- we essentially got this house for 360k.  In a nice neighborhood, with all the amenities we wanted.  This house will be very, very easy to re-sell at some point, and it will most likely turn a very good profit, because of the well kept neighborhood, location, amenities, etc.  Our real estate agent is very happy about that part.

Overall, this buying a house experience went absolutely *perfect*.  Which is great, because our #2 and #3 houses on our list each had a big negative piece, either a small back yard or a bad location (across the street from a high school).

Praise God.

http://www.johnlscott.com/propertydetail.aspx?IS=1&ListingID=300434992

Monday, January 04, 2010

So...

started up my car after church yesterday to go get a haircut.

KNOCK-KNOCK-KNOCK-KNOCK-KNOCK-KNOCK

Oh no. shut off the car.  Check oil levels, add some oil... restart car.


KNOCK-KNOCK-KNOCK-KNOCK-KNOCK-KNOCK

it got a little quietter... but that's probably just the ECU trying to adjust for it.  I didn't drive it or anything, I don't want to damage the car any more than it might be right now.  No Check Engine Light, which is weird since the knock sensor should be picking up the really loud knocking.

I'm 2/3rds of a way thru this tank of gas, so it's probably not bad gas... I did just get my timing belt done 3 or 4 thousand miles ago, so maybe it's a timing issue.  Either way, there is probably something seriously wrong inside the motor. maybe I spun a bearing? that happens sometimes in these 2.0 motors that have been modified.

At about any other time in my life, I would be somewhat excited by this, because I'd have the opportunity to drop in an STI motor and continue the life of my beloved bugeye.  But... since we're in the middle of selling our house and buying another, we're absolutely zero on cash. yay.  So what do I do? Buy a beater and figure out a way to eat the cost, drive it for 6 months until I can afford to fix my WRX, or do I just try and drive my wife's car, leaving her without any options during the day?  None of the options are any good.  I could just do the cheapest repair possible on my WRX, but that doesn't make much sense either, since I'd just haveto drop in a new motor later anyways, or sell the darn thing.

I'm stuck!  Well, time to get on my knees and pray about it.  Just one more challenge in my way.  We'll get through it- God always provides.

Rick