September 30, 1999
Information about Ty Davison straight from the horse's mouth.
Years worth of mind-numbing details, ponderings, and events.
External URLs that have cropped up in the course of the News history.
September 30, 1999
Never thought I'd be saying this, but USAA blew it. Erin and I have used USAA for banking and insurance for years, and without exception their service and support have been excellent. I would continue to recommend USAA for those items to anyone who qualifies for membership. (That normally means that you or one of your parents was in the military.)
In the case of a home mortgage, however, I don't know that a person isn't better off going somewhere else. Never having been through the home buying process before, I don't really have any frame of reference. The fees charged by USAA are reasonableso far as I'm able to tellbut they've got some big-time work to do on the service end of things.
All of which is my way of saying that my receipt today of the actual closing papers was a severe case of sticker shock. You can take USAA's legally mandated "Good faith estimate" and chuck it out the window. The real closing costs turned out to be $2200 higher. That's not, as I noted to the USAA mortgage counselor, exactly pocket change.
The counselor was apologetic of course. Oregon, it turns out, is one of six or seven states that does its property taxes differently than the rest of the country, and property taxes turn out to be the primary difference between the estimate and the actual. Knowing that it's something we owe and not a junk fee is a consolation, but it would have been great to have this information, oh, say, a month ago instead less than a week before closing.
As it stands, the stars aren't falling from the sky and the moon hasn't turned blood red. We still have cash on hand to close, and I don't think the apocalypse is nigh. But I do find it terrifically disappointing that my faith in a company I'd trusted for years turns out to be misplaced.
I suppose it goes without saying, but the corollary to this development is that many of the home improvements we had hoped to make early on will be delayed a while. Thank God the house is structurally sound and the "essentialmust fix immediately" list is short.
September 27, 1999
I was at my parents' place yesterday for the Steelers' regionally televised debacle. Afterward, Erin came over. At the behest of one of her students, we watch Disney's The Lion King. This was perhaps the worst movie I've seen all year, and I thought for sure that The Mummy had a solid lock on that title. Regardless of the rather decent animation, The Lion King was a terrible film, and indeed, as I mentioned to Erin during the show, this is a picture you can hate on multiple levels.
First, Disney's patriarchal domination theme continues. This has been at least mildly disturbing in recent years (see Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid) despite the quality of the films. It's really disturbing here, because the female characters here could disappear entirely and you'd have virtually the same movie. There was not a single significant female character in the story. Simba's fiancee, the foremost female character, is a prime example. Take her out, and the story line is almost identical.
As if that isn't bad enough, having some big male lion as benevolent jungle-land dictator almost completely refutes the "Circle of Life" song and theme that opens the movie. I have no problem with the personification of animals, and I thought the "Circle of Life" was excellent lyrically and musically. But what we're talking about here is that some of these animals are going to kill some of these other animals and chow on their bloody carcasses. That's the reality of the circle of life, and I doubt very much that predators and prey are all going to jump up, bow down, or dance together in celebration of that fact. How many zebras are going prance at the thought of a new "Lion King" being born, when eventually he'll probably be feasting on them? Not many, I'd wager.
The voice-overs of the characters were amazingly banal. Darth Vader is Simba's father, Whoopi Goldberg is a hyena, and Simba, when he sings, sounds like a young Michael Jackson. Surely, it must be possible to have more original and/or interesting casting choices than these.
The movie attempts to delve into the mysteries of the father-son relationship and of how we must accept ourselves for who we are (which, apparently for boys, means being our father's son). Disney has nothing of value to say here, and, indeed, I would argue what they do say is detrimental. The scriptwriters seem to be proponents of (1) youthful stupidity; (2) exuberant disobedience; (3) a "no worries" attitude about anything in life; and (4) a forgiveness of all above. Is it any wonder that the children of America are screwed up?
I'll bet it is to The Lion King screenwriters.
September 25, 1999
Had a great time at Matt's birthday party, where guests in attendance included (amongst others): Matt (obviously), Ginger, Dennis, Carol, Erin and me. Gobbled finger foods, played Catch Phrase, chatted. Fun!
Prior in the day, Dave and I hung out at the Salem Public Library, a building that continues to trip me out since I've not been around enough to get used to the remodel they did a few years back. I swear the front door just seems to be in the wrong place. But my architectural confusion aside, it's a very nice building and their collection seems really good for a city of Salem's size.
September 24, 1999
It's been a busy couple of days as I juggle SiteRev.com duties along with house stuff. Good new on both fronts, however, so despite insufficient sleep I think I've been in a relatively buoyant mood. Erin's had a busy week also, and she's just as tired as I am, if not more so.
We received word today that the appraisal on the house came out well, so the financing is ready to go. We're doing some final negotiations with the sellers regarding some of the fix-it items, but I'm sure we'll end up with an equitable solution. Despite having to do reams of paperwork, everything has proceeded very smoothly.
Therefore, never having purchased a house (this one still hasn't closed) and having no professional real estate experience whatsoever, I now offer up for your consideration some tips on buying a house. These seem to have worked for us, but we're not responsible if they don't work for you. I doubt I need that disclaimerI mean I can only shout "I don't know what I'm talking about" so loudly, after allbut in this litigious age, one can never be too careful. That said, here we go...
1. Arrange your financing in advance. Get pre-approved so that you're essentially a cash buyer and so that you know exactly how much house you can afford.
2. Use a Buyer's Agent. If you don't, the agent you're working with has a fiduciary responsibility tosurprise!the seller. In my book, that would be like discussing your court case with the opposing attorney. If you're looking for one in the Salem area, our agent Bob Van Deusen with Coldwell Banker is excellent.
3. Know what you're searching for. Make a list of essential items and preferred items, and be prepared to update the list as you go to see homes and get new ideas. Make the list as detailed as you can. It is a crucial element in home-buying happiness and success.
4. Don't see more than three homes in a day. They'll blur after that.
5. It probably goes without saying that you should trust and feel good about your realtor, lender, and insurance agent, but I'll say it anyway. A bad apple in any one of the key positions equals big headaches. [Update: As I found out.]
6. If you find what you're looking for, pounce on it. Unless the market you're in is dreadfully slow, a well-price house simply won't stay on the market that long. If you know what you want and find it, there's no need to wait.
7. Don't discount your feelings toward a house. Things might look right and feel wrong. One of those "essential" items should be that a house feel right. If it doesn't, move on.
Hope that's helpful. Probably nothing there that isn't in the realm of common sense, but buying a house is a large financial and emotional investment and with so much to think about it can be easy to overlook things.
September 21, 1999
The Matrix is out today on DVD! Feel free to jump the generic Amazon.com link in my For Sale section to secure a copy. (And hearty thanks to the kind soul who bought Run Lola Run at Amazon via that same link. I appreciate it!)
For those interested, I've posted not-to-scale floor plans of our house along with a variety of random statistics and other minutia in the Gallery section under Photo Gallery #2.
My friend Suzanne had flown down from Alaska on a business trip, and we managed to converge on a Denny's in Woodburn this evening for about an hour and half of chat time. I think we left both wishing we had more time to talk (at least I did!), but it was wonderful while it lasted. Hopefully, we'll be able to get together again before too long.
September 20, 1999
It's taken a little bit of work, but I now have a tracking system setup on my main page. If you want to see statistics and such for Davison Online, just click on the globe icon at the bottom of the main page next to the site map. (Unfortunately, while the tracking system will tell what type of browser, operating system, etc. that a person is using, it still will not tell you why a person continues to visit. In the case of Davison Online, my own speculation is that most of my family and friends are insane.)
(That's not to say that I don't appreciate your insanity, though! Keep those bats in the belfry a-flyin'!)
Had a great time over the weekend at the loligo concert at the Ash Street Saloon. (Details available in Band News at loligomusic.com.) I hung out with Red Madder, a Portland-based quartet who just returned from touring down to Oakland and back. They played a set prior to loligo, and they're pretty hot as well. Great guys.
September 18, 1999
It's been a very busy last few days as I pour my efforts into redesigning a client's web site. Target date for completion is October 1, and I'll be sure to post the URL for everyone to see as soon as it's up. In the meantime, you can look at the current site (not designed by me) at Schwab4re.com. [Update of 8/7/2001: Site no longer active.]
Is ImageStyler worth the $119 that Adobe charges? If you've got a web site that you're responsible for, probably. If you're a designer like me, definitely. Can't wait for a little more suped-up version 2.0, though.
House appraisal happened Thursday afternoon, and so far as we know everything went well. Our "mortgage counselor," a contact person provided by our mortgage company, said yesterday that everything looked fine and that we'd be all set once she received the appraisal papers due to her early next week.
This leads us to the task at hand, which is turning in our 30-day notice to Woodside Estates. We've only been here a short time, but it's been a wonderful place to live. It's inexpensive, roomy, quiet at nighteverything a person could ask for really. If we weren't buying our own place, we could certainly live here for a year without a problem. Woodside Estates, then, garners my official seal of approval and recommendation for those looking to live in South Salem. That's a seal of approval and recommendation that probably won't mean anything to anybody anywhere, but that's never stopped me from saying what I think before, so there you go.
September 16, 1999
Hello, and welcome to the world to my nephew Jared Roger Peterson! Weighing in at 8 lbs. 4 oz., the champ was born this morning at 3:53 AM. Hearty congratulations to Erin's sister Christine and her husband Mark. If it feels slightly odd for me to be an uncle for the first time, I can only imagine that being a new parent must be a real trip.
September 13, 1999
After a frantic morning of juggling all manner of SiteRev.com responsibilities, I spent the afternoon with our realtor Bob and Lance from the World Inspection Network. Together, we perused all 2475 square feet of our potential housing purchase and examined the grounds to boot. Did we find problems? The place was built in 1953, so yes we sure did. But none of them were major, structural "deal-killers," so everything continues to be a "go."
In fact, the house turns out to be in even better shape than I expected. It essentially has two roofs, the topmost one being tile. The frame appears to have been beefed up to deal with the added weight, so we've got a pretty solid structure here. Additionally, the siding is cedar, so as long as we keep it painted and maintained, it'll be around for the long-haul. There are some settling cracks in the concretehardly unexpected with a house of this agewhich we'll want to clean and seal.
Another happy find was that the interior tends to stay cool. It was 92 degrees in Salem today, and moving around both the upstairs and downstairs was like walking into an air conditioned house (which this is not). Despite this, I'll probably add a ventilator fan in the attic because my electronics will tend to heat the place up.
Here's a list of items to fix/have fixed that we turned up during the house inspection:
- Water heater. Old one is from 1983 and it's leaking.
- Vents connections. Almost unbelievably, the kitchen and the bathroom vent only into the attic, not outside.
- Dryer vent. Currently vents inside. May need to move the washer/dryer area to a space easier to vent.
- Wasps' nests. There are a number of them around the house perimeter, and their residents will be permanently evicted shortly.
- Back door. Needs to be re-hung.
- Utility lines to the house. Tree branches need to be cleared away. One phone call, problem solved.
- Bottom bathroom sink. In short, it leaks. Sink and stopper both probably need replacement.
- Caulking in various places about the house.
- Ground Fault Interrupters. Most of the house's electrical outlets are without a ground, so GFIs are going everywhere.
- New electrical box. Old one is okay, but if I'm running a lot of very important electronics, this is hardly the area to skimp.
- Chimney. Cap and flue both need repair.
- Down spout by garage. That water needs to go somewhere else.
- Big dead pine tree in back yard. If it falls, there goes the living room. No thanks.
This all might sound like a lot, and I suppose it is in some respects, but it's very fixable stuff. And Erin and I remain particularly enamored with the fact that we can update this house the way we want.
We have a couple of hoops remaining, notably an assessment by the lender and mountain of miscellaneous paperwork, but things are looking quite positive at this stage of the game. Nothing we saw today looks like it will keep us from closing on October 6 as planned.
September 12, 1999
Dave, battling back a severe case of food poisoning, came up today for a few hours of networked Quake and War Craft II. As usual, we had a great time, though it was unfortunate that Dave had to head home before the Steelers romp over the Browns on ESPN.
Tomorrow is the big house inspection. The deal really rises or falls right here, because everything else has gone very well. Since it's an older home (built in 1953), we expect to find a million and one things which need fixing. The key is that none of these better be major structural items. We shall see!
September 11, 1999
The Sprague soccer tournament today featured all the boys' and girls' teams in the Valley League, so I got a good look at what the Willamette Valley has to offer. Bottom line: Not nearly as much as the Bay Area. On the boys' side, the coaching has improved dramatically, and players' understanding of the game is good, but the skill level is definitely below what I saw at St. Francis. The girls' teams, I'm sorry to say, are much weaker than their Bay Area counterparts, and I think the St. Francis girls' JV would be competitive at the varsity level here. Ah well. It's better than it used to be.
September 10, 1999
After an atypical dinner at Burger King, Erin and I headed over to Sprague for the Friday night football game. The game result was nothing new, but boy, the attendance sure was. I have never seen Sprague so packed with people. They literally ran shuttle buses from the Kaiser Medical Center parking lot across the way so that they could get everyone to the game. It was an amazing sight, but then again, I've not been to a Sprague game in 12 years.
September 9, 1999
I made a trip up to Lake Oswego today for a client meeting, and I'm happy to report that it went very well. I'll decline to post details until I've got the site work completed, but expect another web site by yours truly to be online by the end of the month.
Erin had another fantastic day at school. She's having a great deal of fun, and though she's got a lot of work ahead of her in the year to come, at least it's off to a happy start.
I continue to have off-and-on problems with Zeke. After about two weeks of good behavior, Zeke sudden started crashing on startup again today. Disabling the G3 extension on startup seemed to solve the problem today, but I'm not sure why I'm then able to enable the L2 cache (via the G3 control panel) after the startup sequence has completed. If that were the problem, I'd think it would crash immediately. For now Zeke seems to be behaving, but we'll see.
September 6, 1999Labor Day
Dave came up from Eugenebad back and alland together we putzed around Salem and Monmouth. Checked out our potential new house, ate lunch at BurgerVille, and walked the aisles at Home Depot. Only had a few hours, but it was great hang out time while it lasted.
Meanwhile, back in Gothem City, Erin worked diligently to get ready for tomorrow's commencement of school. This meant lots of typing for me in the evening hours, but in the end we got everything ready to go. Tomorrow should be a great day!
September 4, 1999
Figured I'd give the phone jack in the bedroom a go since it hasn't worked yet. Disassembled everything, rewired it for the other line (two lines were wired in), picked up the receiver, and, no joy. Unscrewed the face plate to the jack in the kitchen, examined it, put everything back together, and, uh oh, no joy now here either. Single-handedly killing our phone/internet capability on a Labor Day weekend when nobody's available to fix it was not my vision of a restful holiday.
Dad and I headed down to the Salem Public Library, and I poured through a bunch of books on telephone installation, service, and wiring. Checked out a couple and headed back home.
Reconnected the original wiring in the bedroom. Phone in the kitchen now works. Ah ha, they're in series. Now why, if the kitchen phone works on this line, won't the bedroom one work? Hmm...Erin, after reading a few pages in one of the books, offers up the idea that maybe there's an "open" on line. Perhaps an insulated part of a wire is screwed down into a connection and that's killing the current or the signal.
No dice. However, look at those little wires hanging down where the phone plug clicks into the jack. They're bent to hell and back. Wonder what would happen if I straightened them out? Ah, dial tone. Now I can move all my computer junk out of the kitchen.
September 2, 1999
Many thanks to Mark and Christine for their excellent hospitality in allowing me to stay over for a few days while I attended Seybold and otherwise putted around the Bay Area. Considering that Christine is now a radiant 39 weeks pregnant, it was especially nice of them to put up with me.
The trip home was happily uneventful, except for being pulled over by a California Highway Patrolman for having a tinted driver's side window. Apparently this is a no-no in Cal, but the officer was a nice guy and accepted my explanation that I bought the car this way (which is true) and that my wife and I had just moved to Oregon (also true). He advised me that he believes Oregon also has a law against window tinting and that I'll probably want to check it out. I should say so!
That bit of excitement aside, I completed the 11.5 hour trip without incident.
September 1, 1999Redwood City, California
My back didn't spasm, but it was fairly sore after the previous days' car ride and cement walking, so I took the day off and headed over to Software & Stuff, a budget software dealer, and the local CompUSA. Nothing all that neato at Software & Stuff, but CompUSA had a really good web book for half off.
Had dinner with Bernard and Liz and learned more about their trip to Italy. Judging from the pictures, they couldn't have picked a better vacation spot. After dinner, I got the chance to help them set up their iMac and its various peripherals. We didn't quite get through all the software, but the hardware stuff was all just plug-and-play. I can definitely see the appeal of USB.