Boomsday : Christopher Buckley

Wowee, I’ve been gone for a while, and longer from reviewing a book. I’ve read a few since the last one I reviewed, but I’ve been crazy busy with life matters. Since my last review, I sold my house, moved to another state, and started a new job, oh and bought another house, which we will be moving into in about 12 days, meaning I’m sure I’ll stumble again with a regular blog post.

So let’s get this ball rolling in the right direction again. I just finished reading Boomsday by Christopher Buckley, who is the author probably best known for Thank You For Smoking, the 2005 movie with Aaron Eckhart. Although I didn’t read that book, I assume it would have the same tone as Boomsday, because as I read the book, I recalled parts of the movie, mainly from the dialogue and the overall tone of the book.

This story follows Cassandra Devine, a 29-year old, who finds her world quickly changing directions when her dad decides to use her college tuition money plus the family mortgage as startup money for a business. This creates a permanent rupture in her and her father’s relationship and she takes his actions out on all baby boomers. She comes to the conclusion that the baby boomers are causing, and will cause, her generation enormous amounts of financial pain, and possible ruin, because they now live longer than they used to.

She enlists in the military with the idea of getting college paid for through public service. She goes into the Public Affairs career field, which leads her to a deployment to the Middle East, escorting distinguished visitors from the U.S. around the base. Her world again takes a turn when she meets Randy Jepperson, a young and defiant senator who disregards all protocols. She and Randy end up getting blown up and an IED. Both her and Jepperson survive, but she is booted out of the military and is left jobless in the hospital back in the U.S. She is approached soon after by Jepperson, who offers her a job in his office.

The shenanigans persue and her desire to push her agenda is let loose.

Overall I thought the book was entertaining. I wasn’t sure what to expect from a political satire fiction book, as I usually steer away from books with any hint of politics, but I enjoyed this. A lot of times I found myself chuckling thinking, ‘It’s funny because it’s true’. But sadly a lot of it is true. I could see the makers of House of Cards reading these books before writing the series.

Rating: 8/10

Almost, almost

My life is going through a ton of changes right now. Changes that involve Yeses, Nos, and Almosts. We sold our house in 72 hours which was a big Yes! We are now reflecting on the inspection. They either want little piddly things to be done (nail the fence post that’s loose, change the AC filter) to big things (re-do duct work, change out electrical).

Let me clarify, our house is in great shape. None of the things they are asking for are necessary for the safety of the house. Inspections are a weird thing. Some guy whose never been in your house comes in and tells you everything he thinks is wrong with it. Some things are legit, some are squabbling. At first I got really angry. I just wanted to yell, “Here’s a hammer. Fix the damn fence yourself!”, but that’s not quite advisable so we are working on compromises now. We’ll have someone out to fix some of these small things, with a few bucks for them on the table to do their own electrical if they so feel the need to rewire the house.

So with the house…we are at an Almost. Hopefully by tonight, we will have a Yes.

During the craziness of selling our house, I also was interviewing for jobs. I had three interviews in one day, so I was really hoping one would work out. One was certainly a No, I think mutually. One was a Maybe, but nothing on their side was solid, which made me nervous, but the last one felt like a Yes and ended up being so. I ended up getting a second interview with a company and they called the next day asking if I’d accept a position with them. A definite YES.

With all of the craziness, and change happening, I definitely needed to get a run in. Between sitting in a car for hours, waiting for people to be done strolling through the house, then stress eating to calm myself through all of this (breakfast tacos and chocolate shakes…mmm), I needed some exercise to make myself feel better again, and clear my mind. I remembered that WordPress was running a 5K challenge, asking people to run/walk/stroll/bike a 5K and post about it. I was hoping to get one in last night, but I didn’t quite get there. I knew time was a crunch because we had plans to meet friends for dinner, and I needed to bathe the dogs as well. I decided on one of our shorter routes in hopes that it was still a 5K. No luck. An almost.

Even though this wasn’t a full 5K, between all my walking around, I’d  hit over 10,000 steps which was around 5 miles. I felt good about that.

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My Almost 5K

 

To be honest, I’m not a fan of Almost. Almost doesn’t cut it. But Almost is what I have and I am hoping that tonight Almost becomes a Yes. Almost is better than No. I almost ran a 5K today among the worry of inspections, dogs needing to get bathed, meeting with friends, figuring out when to pack, what house to buy next, I still got a run in. I still did something for my health. That’s what matters. Getting into the habit of this is what matters.

We will be road tripping it to Omaha this weekend to house shop and hopefully buy, our next home. I’m excited and nervous and what we’ll find. All I hope is that whatever we decide on, I hope it’s a Yes.

 

 

 

 

 

A home is more than a home

We are looking at listing our house next week. Typing that, plus packing up boxes into a storage unit, makes this feel very real.

I know I’ll miss friends. We’ve made just a few here, but they will be missed. I’ve found a new love of food, especially the smoked meat varietals. Texas knows meat, especially brisket. I’ve found a new love for beer. Austin can brew. I’ve learned to appreciate the hill country and it’s arid, green-dappled landscapes. I’ve learned what it’s like to be a proud Texan and love Texas. There’s a pride going on here that people make fun of sometimes, but only because they don’t understand it. I’ll always remember that.  Continue reading “A home is more than a home”

The longest DIY

I’m not even talking about the CISSP exam prep, but that is taking a seriously long time too. Either way, whether I finish the book or not, I’m taking the exam by the end of next month. While trying to schedule the exam, I spent over 30 minutes on the phone waiting for a human to answer, who told me I called the wrong number, but was nice enough to send me on the way to the right person. After that wait, I was told to email a generic email and wait/hold my breath/pray that someone will answer the email. You would think this company would have a better plan in place for people to take an exam (especially when they collect $600 when they do!).

But I digress…

I’ve been painfully slow on this DIY. Most of it is not my fault though. We are working on possibly selling the house (barring I can find a job – hire me please!). In the mean time, I’m working on some quick updates to make the house extra marketable. So far, I’ve painted a ceiling, cleaned up and repainted the fireplace, and have started the wonderful job of de-cluttering.

I’ve been wanting to paint the cabinets in the master bath white for some time, because I like white cabinets and then it would match our other bathroom renovation.IMG_3130

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I think it turned out pretty well so we wanted to go ahead and do the same to the Master: paint the cabinets, add hardware, change out the shower faucet, and frame the mirror.

We also decided to change out the medicine cabinet in the Master bath. It was too small and was too 80’s oak for me. This part of the project has definitely been the easiest so far. Thanks IKEA!

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The longest DIY part has been the main cabinets…and it’s mostly been because of weather. First it was too hot to paint. Temperatures during the day surpassed 100 and with the dew points, the heat index stretched into the 120 degree mark. I was able to sneak in a day or two in the morning or evening to spray a side or two, but it was going to take an excruciatingly long time. Then, although we got a much needed break from the heat, we got rain. And a lot of it. And it hasn’t stopped yet.

Next problem: I painted the main cabinet and towel storage cabinet with a wonderful high gloss cabinet paint in Ultra White by Behr. I spray painted the doors in a gloss by Rustoleum. I didn’t realize how much more white the Ultra White was  until I was ready to put the cabinet doors up. They almost looked gray. I felt like Clark W. Griswold when he found out instead of a bonus check, he got a one -year subscription to the Jelly of the Month Club.

So I went to the store and bought three more spray cans of paint in hopes that one would be more white than the other. I did find one, another Rustoleum actually, that was more white and will do as a redo for the small cabinet doors. The tall doors for the towel storage cabinet will have to be hand painted unfortunately as they’re directly in light and noticeable any other way. So once I can get a dry day, I’ll be able to finish this project.

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You gotta love Contact paper

 

 

I’ll post some finished pictures once that happens.

Until then, it’s washing trim, packing boxes, and studying for this damn exam.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DIY floating shelf/desk

I haven’t posted a DIY for a while. We’ve been toying with the idea of moving so I’ve been in this hold of projects. Do I take on anymore big projects if we move? I feel like it wouldn’t be worth it. We repainted the exterior of the house, completely renovated the kitchen, replaced the flooring in half the house, painted the cabinets, framed the mirror and replaced the shower fixtures in the guest bath. I painted every wall in the house as well, so all in all, a lot has been done. I think we are to the point, where the only things I’d want to do before we listed the house would be replace a couple older fans, fix up the fence and get the fireplace working again (it was capped when it was a rental). Continue reading “DIY floating shelf/desk”

Importance

The holidays always pose as a time of reflection and solitude, although sometimes the solitude part can be difficult in the mad rush of gift getting and travel plans. We decided to surprise the family with a trip up north. This included a lot of sneaking around questions, pretending the presents were on their way, and a 20 hour road trip with two dogs. We got Dylan’s brother in the loop so he could help us plan where to be. The look on my mom and his parent’s faces were priceless, and the feeling of being home during Christmas-time, was a feeling I haven’t felt in a long time. A feeling of warmth and contentment, even after an exhaustive trip. We realized again how important being near old friends and family is, and although it’ll be sad to leave Austin, with it’s nearly unlimited supply of restaurants, things to do and things to see, and usually great weather, but if you can learn to be content in any situation, decisions like these aren’t as difficult.

We decided to make the slow move to Omaha. Omaha, you say? Why you ask? I know I wrote a little before about Omaha, but expanding on it won’t hurt. I’m sure there’s a lot of people laughing or wondering why you’d move to a “flyover state”.

Well…Omaha is a good size city. Around a half million people and under a million with metro. The city did a good job prepping for growth, so the roads aren’t packed and traffic jams are rare. Here in Austin, they’re an everyday occurrence and something to be expected.

Omaha is 6 hours to home in Minnesota so getting to visit will be much easier and we won’t need to use so much vacation each time. It’s also 9 hours to Denver for rock climbing and hiking, 9 hours to Little Rock, where some friends of ours lives, and hours away to the badlands of South Dakota. Overall, being in the center of the country gives us a wider berth for more diverse travel. Yeah, we won’t be near a beach, but I think we can handle that.

Omaha’s cost of living is good. Housing costs are much lower in Omaha than Austin and overall prices of a night out on the town is lower as well. Getting to a nice restaurant (which there are many), is much easier and less stressful. In Austin, there are hundreds of great restaurants, but there’s usually a line, or it will take you an hour to get to it due to the terrible traffic. I’d miss the beer and bar scene here in Austin, but Omaha’s scene is starting to grow. There are a few good breweries there, as well as one of the nation’s top pubs in the nation. The job market is good and the pay for our lines of work is good, and actually a little better than here in Austin.

So there’s a few points in a nutshell. I’m excited, but nervous and scared. Big change is always nerve wracking for me, especially after spending four years in a new place. The thought of uprooting again feels exhausting, but if I think about what it will mean for us financially, personally, and even professionally, I think it will be a great thing. Fear will always be there. I just have to make sure it doesn’t control my decisions.

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Little touches and weekend fun

Now that we are done with painting the outside of the house, I’ve felt a little more free to do some of the littler things around the house. Little projects that I didn’t want to start because I felt that painting was the number one priority and I didn’t want to get sidetracked. I was able to get some sheer curtains up in the bedroom, get a framed photo in the bathroom, purchase a couple more for the living room, (I haven’t put up yet but they are bought and waiting for hanging), and even organize my spice cabinet a bit.

Finally got something on the wall
Finally got something on the wall
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Aren’t these guys amazing?

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We like to buy spices in bulk because it saves you TONS of money and you can buy only what you need, but then I end up with a bunch of little bags in my cabinet which is not conducive to efficient cooking. I went to Hobby Lobby when they were having a sale and grabbed some great glass jars. I think I’m going to have to go back for more!

We also made a cake for our roommate who just turned the big 3-0. I think he was pretty surprised and appreciative of the gesture. He’d worked that day so I think it was a welcome surprise to come back with cake and ice cream. FullSizeRender

The weather here is starting to cool down, which is making me want to be outside even more than usual. I think my next medium-sized project will be raised bed gardens. The challenge is going to be placement and size. Time to start doing some research….

Painting a house….14 hours in

I’ve collectively put in around 14 hours of painting so far into my house. I thought I’d be a bit farther along, but alas, I should be used to this. It always takes longer than you think to finish a project. Especially when that project involves painting an entire house, even if it’s just little ole ours. So far, I’ve gotten the far west side painted, parts of the south side (ran into sun so I had to quit), and some of the north side done. My house isn’t a square since it comes in at one point where the deck is. It’s more like a polygon, so in reality I have six sides to paint. And although I only have around two sides painted, and progress is going slower than I thought it would, I’m still happy with it. I also keep reminding myself that I still have a boat load of trim to do as well. The trim is going to be a creamy off-white (no I haven’t picked it out – took me a flippin’ month to pick out a body color). The body color is called Mined Coal, and I’m using Behr Marquee exterior in Satin.

So here she is in all here partially painted glory. More to come once I finish.

IMG_4497 IMG_4824IMG_4750 IMG_4823I just noticed that you can tell we got quite a bit of rain (hence my paint delay), just by the grass from the before and after pics. Ha!

Sun! And progress!

Saturday we planned on having some friends over for a make-your-own pizza grilling party. Well, we got more rain in the form of severe storms, so we had to keep the party inside and bake them. The party was still a hit. We had three pizzas going at a time, with all different kinds of toppings. We played games, drank beer, and laughed a lot. As much as there are always things to do, sometimes it’s nice to forget about those things and just be with others.

Sunday morning, we awoke to sun. A full day of sun. Not just a few hours, mixed with clouds, and a sprinkle. No. A whole day of sun. It was fabulous and definitely needed, especially for those who have been adversely affected by the floods.

Previously, I’d mentioned that I went back to Home Depot in the late evening to pick out some more colors because I kept dreaming of grays (literally). I got the samples painted in a couple spots on the house now, and I think I finally have one picked out. I still am not sure on trim though. I may need help with that.

The three colors, from left to right, are Magnet, Mined Coal, and Pier (all Behr). I like Magnet, but I think it has too many cool undertones. I love Mined Coal (right now it’s my winner), but I do love Pier. I decided to try it out as I’ve seen a couple other people paint their houses in it and it looked amazing. I really like it. A lot. But I think it may be slightly lighter than I’d been thinking. But I’m trying to figure out if using it as a trim color might work. What do you think? Or maybe going one shade lighter than Pier for trim? I don’t know. It’s a great color though. I think if my house had more dramatic, mid-century modern type lines, I could get away with a more mild color, but to give my house a more dramatic effect, I need to go slightly darker.

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Here’s the same color trio, starting with Magnet on top, Mined Coal in the middle and Pier on the bottom, towards the front of the house, where our stone is. Again, all the colors work well with the stone since it’s so neutral. I think the darker color will definitely make it pop.

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Below is a color scheme I found on Pinterest that uses our colors. I’m excited to transform our house soon. The paint prep guy said he will most likely be available early next week so I happily await a phone call from him. Once they prep the  house for paint, I’ll take a day off work during the week to get as much painting as I can get done in a day. Lucky for us, our house is one story, and a lot of the front is limestone, so I don’t think it’ll take too long, especially with the prep being done by pros.

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I’m dreaming of gray….literally

After talking with my new friends at Fogmodern.com, I’ve gone back on the browns and am once again leaning more toward gray. I still like the idea of warm gray, with a hint of brown, or at least without the cool blue tones. Deciding on a house color is definitely a tough decision because this decision lasts for years. Or at least it should. I’m nervous about going too dark, or playing it too safe and going too light. I want to feel great about the color I choose. Not just that it took so long to decide so I settled on one.

This picture I found, I believe originally off of HGTV’s site, is Iron Mountain by Benjamin Moore. I really like it but think it may be too dark. I even went to the Ben Moore store in town to grab a swatch. Staring at it made me nervous though. What if it was too dark and just made the house seem…dark, or uninviting. The inside of our house is very different; it’s very light and airy, but I think a dark exterior can look great too. Back and forth, back and forth goes my brain…. Iron mountain

I’m not an emotional, chatty person. I don’t need a group of girlfriends to chat with about how I’m feeling. But picking out a paint color made me want to talk to someone. I needed some therapy and guidance, so I did what any person would do. I went to Home Depot at 8pm last night because I couldn’t stop thinking about paint colors.

I brought my sample of Magnet and Porpoise along, as well as my swatch of Lamplit, the possible door color. I wanted to find a happy medium between the Magnet and Porpoise, and possibly a shade darker. I wasn’t doing a good job for myself, so I asked the lady at the counter, who immediately was distracted by my dog Arthur for the next five minutes. That’s okay. I was used to that and wasn’t in a hurry to leave the store. Not without my samples!

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After opening up to the Home Depot lady and telling her my dreams of a color that was the trifecta of gray, brown and dark, she commited herself to helping me find that color. She reached under the counter and grabbed just about every swatch of color that was ever created. She immediately started going through grays, inspecting the shades to see if she could find something I would like.

I mentioned to her, besides the Magnet and Porpoise, that I’d been looking at Intellectual. She told me right away, no, that it was too dark and would give off too much brown. Okay then. No to Intellectual.

Sorry I got bug spray on the sample. Stupid mosquitos

While she looked through the color swatches to find my match, she got to work making a sample of Magnet for me. I have Grizzle Gray, a Sherwin Williams color, sampled on my wall at home, and although they’re very similar, I didn’t want to chance it and base my decision on a color that looks like another color. I can’t do that for a house painting job.

Magnet is a great basic gray. About as gray as gray can get. I’m just not sure yet if I want to go all out just gray.

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Another of the samples that I already have is Porpoise by Sherwin Williams. It looks gray at times, but switches to brown in the light. We have a lot of light here in Texas (usually) so I have to think it’ll usually look more brown. If I paint my house a very dark color like Intellectual, would the sun absorb enough to put off more heat than a gray house like Magnet? Weird thoughts but I have them running in my mind.

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I also asked her to make me a sample of Pier. They didn’t have a swatch I could take home, but I’ve seen it on two homes (online still), but it looked great. My only concern was that it had tinges of green. But green is warmer than blue so I thought, heck, for $3 it’s worth a shot.

After she got that sample going, it was back to the hunt for the perfect mix.

She grabbed another small book and fanned it open. She stopped quickly, grabbed my Porpoise and Magnet swatches and placed each one on either end of the sample. This color was about as close I was going to get to a mix between the two. It’s called Mined Charcoal, and the interesting thing about it? It’s actually in the same scheme as Intellectual, just one shade lighter. Small world in the vast world of color swatches! Here is is below…


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I still don’t know if it’s the one but I feel like I’m getting closer and closer to finding a color I love and can commit to. Once I get some samples painted on my house, I’ll post some more pictures. Maybe I should just paint each side of the house one of my color choices? What do you think?

PS – I had night #2 of dreaming of house paint colors. The dreams are kind of the far out type, with swirls of browns and grays, sometimes in a big trough, and sometimes just swirling in the air. Either I’m going nuts or a decision needs to be made ASAP before I do end up going batty.