Friday, April 25, 2014

Apartments I have known

Yeah, I know it's been ages since I posted.  A fair bit has happened since I last wrote here - some good (new car); some bad but inevitable (my mother finally succumbed to the Alzheimer's that she had been suffering from for years), but nothing too out of this world.  I'll try and write more about the events that have occurred later.  For now, having been inspired by an old blog post from someone I read, I thought I would review the rental properties I have lived in.

1.)  Motel 391

This was my first "apartment" that wasn't a traditional motel.  Well, in fact, it was a motel, but I rented it in Hampton Beach, NH in the middle of the winter, when many of the motels turn into temporary apartments since there aren't any tourists around.  It was basically a kitchenette with a nice view of the beach.  An older property, in the midst of being renovated, the owner appreciated the income that us winter dwellers provided.  The place has a different name now but is still in business.  The owner probably would have been willing to let me stay longer if I'd needed to, but I was itching to move out and find an actual apartment.  My parents actually ended up renting the same room I had stayed in when they came to visit me later in the year. 

2.)  Cricket Brook

This was an older property about 10 miles north of where I worked, but I liked the setting and the rent was fairly cheap.  I came to discover that was because the maintenance there was awful - there were some minor things wrong with my apartment when I moved in that never got fixed the whole time I was there, and anything that did get repaired, I either did myself or, on one occasion, hired a locksmith.  Yes, the place was so cheap that they weren't willing to get me keys that worked in the deadbolt lock.  On the bright side, I did get moderately handy with fixing minor household problems, but I was definitely ready to move out when my lease expired.

3.)  Cedar Ridge

This apartment was located in Farmington, NM, where my second airline job was located.  It was a fairly nice place for the area, and was actually well-maintained.  I also had air conditioning and a dishwasher in this unit, plus as a bonus - my utilities were included so I could keep it as cool as I wanted.  The place could get a bit noisy on weekend nights if there was a party going on down by the community pool but on the whole, I really liked living there.  My time there came to an end when my company moved from Farmington to Phoenix, AZ.

4.)  Camino Tomas

One of my favorite apartments, it was very well maintained and had a leasing agent who lived on site and did a good job of keeping it up to snuff.  The maintenance guy was only so-so, but the apartment was in good shape when I moved in so I didn't need his services much.  There were some memorable events that took place here - one time we had a microburst cause some property damage and fallen trees once, and another time I called the fire department when I smelled something burning after getting off late from work.  That ended up just being a pizza that someone had put in their oven and then forgotten about (or passed out because they had been drinking.)   While I didn't have a washer/dryer, I did have a nice patio and utilities, like my place in New Mexico, were included - very nice in a hot town like Phoenix.  The apartment also had nice amenities, including a pool, hot tub, workout room, pool tables, and a lounge.  The owner did start inviting police to come use the lounge as a break room towards the end of my stay there, which I didn't appreciate much, but that only was an issue for a month or so before I found my next job in Las Vegas, NV.

5.)  Bay Breeze

One of the odder apartment names, since there was definitely no bay anywhere near unless you counted Lake Mead some 15 miles away.  This apartment, while I had a nice view of the pool, I didn't care for much.  The carpet hadn't been changed out and smelled of some previous renter's pet.  Also, as I overlooked the pool and was working a graveyard shift during my first few months on the new job, I quickly grew tired of the noise of kids screaming down by the pool which seemed to inevitably happen every day after school got out - and earlier on the weekends.  At one point, I developed a detailed fantasy about getting a tear gas grenade launcher and firing a few rounds towards the pool area from my patio, then going back inside and going to sleep.  I did have a washer/dryer of my own here for the first time, but I also had intermittent bug problems and I quickly grew tired of the place....it just wasn't managed well.  Anyhow, when my lease was up, I moved on to...

6.)  Sunset Pointe

This was probably my favorite apartment ever.  It was a 2 BD/2 BA place with decent square footage, and for the first time I had an "office" to put my computer in.  I also had a sweet view of the Strip and the Las Vegas Airport.  On a recent visit, I saw that, while the apartment is still there, my view that I had is now blocked by a motel that was built on some vacant land next to the complex.  It was kind of noisy due to aircraft noise from planes taking off, but I had a very short commute and I really liked living there.  For some reason, I found it much easier to sleep through plane noise than kids screaming by the pool noise.  Had I not bought a house, I would have stayed there for the remainder of my stay in Las Vegas, I am sure.

7.)  McCarthy Creek

These apartments were at a complex in Appleton, Wisconsin, where I had moved when my Las Vegas airline went out of business.  They were a new property, and fairly well constructed, but they didn't have central air conditioning so the bedrooms could get a bit warm in the summer.  They did have decent facilities though, and my apartment looked out over a large man-made lake that they stocked with small fish and you could even go swimming in if you liked (which I did a couple times.)  However their rent was also pretty high and after about 15 months here, I found a place nearby that had much better prices.

8.)  Cold Spring Villas

This was probably my second favorite apartment.  While not quite as fancy as McCarthy Creek, it did have central air conditioning, a balcony, and a good square footage.  It didn't have a pool/workout room or any amenities like that, but I had found a nearby gym at this point which did, so I wasn't worried about that.  The rent was almost $200 less than what I had been paying also, which was a nice touch, and the units were pretty well maintained, although the dryer could be a bit temperamental.  Anyhow I liked living there and I'm sure I would have stayed longer had I not finally managed to get hired by a major airline.

9.)   Allen House

I found this place through an apartment locator.  It was near downtown, where I was working.  They had a shuttle bus for residents that ran downtown, which I used a fair bit when I started since I didn't have a car for a few months after my move (it was sold along with some other items when I left Wisconsin.)  I actually rented two apartments here, the first of which didn't have a balcony and was a bit noisy being right next to the pool area.  When I was looking around for new digs, I was alerted by the office that a larger one bedroom was available that had a balcony and was in a quieter part of the complex - I was happy to make the switch as the new place also had quite a bit more square footage. I still have an "apartment tour" video of this place available on YouTube (if you're curious and want to waste a few minutes, click here for the relevant blog post) which I mainly did as an experiment to see if I could post a video taken from my phone there.  I was pretty happy living there at first, but over time all the downstairs neighbors moved out and the people who replaced them mostly had dogs - the downstairs units all had patios which was probably a selling point for pet owners.  So, it got quite a bit noisier as people would let their dogs out - I generally didn't mind this, though, unless it happened early in the morning.  One morning after a dog had been barking non stop for 20 minutes starting around 0700 I ended up pounding on one lady's door - she had let her dog out while she was getting ready for work.  As I got off work late and normally slept late I wasn't real happy about that.  Other than the dog noise, it was a nice unit, although it didn't have a washer/dryer either - but there was a laundry room on site as well as a wash/fold place nearby.  I probably would have eventually moved out after buying property, but due to airline industry mergers, that was not meant to be, and I ended up staying there until I left for the big city and moved into...

10.)  The Highrise

For my most recent move to the big city, I wanted a place with a nice view, so I rented a one bedroom place in a highrise south of work.  It was kind of pricey and looking back I should have gotten a bigger unit.  I didn't mind my stay here - they did have good maintenance - but I never really got completely unpacked either.  I quickly grew tired of the part of town the highrise was located in - things could get sketchy after dark although I never had any problems of my own - and after a few months there, I engaged the services of a realtor who found my current place, which is larger, has a washer/dryer, and is in a much safer part of town.  I didn't mind my time at the highrise - they did have some nice amenities - but I think I knew from the start I wouldn't be there long-term, a feeling only reinforced when I saw how much they wanted to raise my rent after I'd been there a year.  I was ready to leave the view behind and become a property owner again.  I do have to admit though, it was probably the nicest view I've ever had.



11.)  Where I Am Now

Although it feels like an apartment in some ways, I have a condo now - which I have written about previously here.  I like it pretty well, although anything that needs fixing in the interior of my unit has to be taken care of by me and not by a building maintenance guy.  Still, it's worth it to be building some equity again.  I have a nice (deeded) heated garage parking space, as well as an outdoor space I don't use often, along with a storage unit.  The good thing is that as I moved up to a two bedroom, I have a place to store boxes.  The bad thing is, since I can shut the door to that room, I haven't unpacked completely yet.  But I'm getting there.  Unlike my last apartment, I think I'm going to be here a while - possibly until I retire.  Which, after moving a dozen or so times in the last 15 years, would suit me just fine.  Below you can see the view from my living room, along with a local neighbor.  Not nearly as spectacular as my last view, but still very nice.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Remembering

Yup, here's me, who hasn't been posting.  Not going to talk about that today though.  As an airline employee, I traditionally do a post on 9/11 with the names of the employees who lost their lives that day.  I'm going to do that today also.  I will say, for better or worse, this is probably the first time where it seemed close to "just another day" for me.  Trust me, while I will never forget it, perhaps that is a good thing...just to remember the day without being overwhelmed by it.  I don't think anyone in my industry will ever forget it though.  Anyhow, hope everyone has a good day, and if you have time to take a moment for quiet reflection, I think that would be a good thing.

American 11 (Boston to Los Angeles)
Crashed into World Trade Center
John Ogonowski, Dracut, Mass., Captain; Thomas McGuinness, Portsmouth, N.H., First Officer; Barbara Arestegui, flight attendant; Jeffrey Collman, flight attendant; Sara Low, flight attendant; Karen Martin, flight attendant; Kathleen Nicosia, flight attendant; Betty Ong, flight attendant; Jean Roger, flight attendant; Dianne Snyder, flight attendant; Madeline Sweeney, flight attendant

United 175 (Boston to Los Angeles)
Crashed into World Trade Center
Victor J. Saracini, Lower Makefield Township, Pa., Captain; Michael Horrocks, First Officer; Amy Jarret, flight attendant; Al Marchand, flight attendant; Amy King, flight attendant; Kathryn Laborie, flight attendant; Michael Tarrou, flight attendant; Alicia Titus, flight attendant

American 77 (Washington/Dulles to Los Angeles)
Crashed into the Pentagon
Charles Burlingame, Captain; David Charlebois, First Officer; Michele Heidenberger, flight attendant; Jennifer Lewis, flight attendant; Kenneth Lewis, flight attendant; and Renee May, flight attendant

United 93 (Newark to San Francisco)
Crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania
Jason Dahl, Colorado, Captain; Leroy Homer, Marlton, N.J., First Officer; Sandy Bradshaw, flight attendant; CeeCee Lyles, flight attendant; Lorraine Bay, flight attendant; Wanda Green, flight attendant; Deborah Welsh, flight attendant

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Another Moving Day

If you ever have moving needs, and you see me coming your way with a recommendation for a moving company, you would best be advised to cover your ears and run as fast as possible in the opposite direction.  At least, that is what I felt like last week on the day of my big (albeit local) move.

As long-time readers may recall, I have not had very good luck with movers.  At least not when I pick the moving company.  My move back to the Midwest from Texas, while stressful, was fairly uneventful since my company picked and paid for the moving company.  However, I've been living here for over a year now, and as my employer just signed a 25-year lease on our current office building, I thought it was finally safe to buy some property again.  Also, I needed more space, wanted a washer/dryer, and I was tired of paying rent.

The whole process of my finding a place, securing a loan, and agreeing to a closing date has been recounted here but I'll just say for now that it was a quite lengthy process that seemed to have minor complications occurring right up to closing day.  On a positive note, I found out I needed far less money to close than I had originally planned for, so I used some of that leftover money to pay off my car.  Anyhow, after closing on Thursday, June 27, I was scheduled to move on Monday, July 1.  My apartment building had agreed to give me a couple days to move at the start of the month since the end of the month occurred on a weekend.

For this move, I had picked a moving company that had a Daily Deal with Amazon.  I saw the deal, and I had an upcoming move, and I figured that hey, Amazon surely wouldn't pick anyone disreputable to deal with, would they?  You've probably already figured out the answer to that question.

I got up early the morning of the move to finish getting my apartment ready.  And by "finish" I mean "do everything I should have already done over the weekend."  Still, I labored away, throwing away a lot of trash and moving kitchen items and clothes down to my car, until I reached the end of the time period "window" in which the movers were supposed to show up.  I tried calling the number on the voucher - no answer.  I looked up the company online and called that number - which went to an answering machine.  The answering machine gave me another number to call if you were calling about a move in progress.  I tried that one - disconnected.

At this point it was about an hour after the movers were supposed to show and I was panicking.  I then made my best decision of the day and went to the concierge desk at my apartment complex.  The guy working the desk has worked there for decades and knows a lot of people.  I told him, hey man, I'm desperate here.  Do you know anyone that might be able to handle a last minute move?  He did have a guy for me to call, who was available to do the work.  The guy's quote was not cheap but it wasn't highway robbery either, so I gladly accepted.

The mover and his crew arrived a few hours later and began moving stuff downstairs via the freight elevator.  While I had a nice view in my old apartment, I had known shortly after moving in that it really wasn't a big enough place for me and I didn't want to stay there long-term, so a lot of boxes (books and things) I had never unpacked.  They did have to pack up my kitchen dishes and such but that didn't take too long.  I arranged to meet the movers at my new place around 6 PM.  

When we got to the new place and they set up and began unloading, we were greeted with severe frowns by the building residents.  I was soon met by the condo association president who seemed very flustered and informed me that the movers had to come in through the garage, not the reception area, and that we needed to put pads up in the elevator.  I also got the impression that some of the tenants may have been extra suspicious of my movers because they were all black.  Evidently, I was also supposed to have scheduled my move time in advance and paid a $250 deposit.

I assured the building president (who seemed nice enough but a bit of a fussbudget) that the movers had been very professional, and that I didn't have a huge amount of stuff and that we would be finished soon.  I also told him that I had no knowledge that scheduling the move in advance was required, and at any rate, my original move company had done a no-show that morning.  He seemed to stare somewhat condescendingly at the beer I was drinking (what can I say, it had been one hell of a day) but he did set up the pads in the elevator for us and let us continue the move.

The movers finally finished about 9 PM and I did give them a tip on top of the original charge.  I also invited them to have a beer if they wanted and two of them did.  They did a really good job, no paint damage or walls run into (I did some of that myself the next day inside my unit, but such is life.  I've got touch-up paint.)  

On a semi-positive note, the original move company did call me and apologize the same day, although it was after I had hired the new movers.  Evidently they had had at least one person (maybe more?  I wasn't quite sure) quit over the weekend and that had thrown their schedule into chaos.  I thanked them for calling but told them I had already called Amazon to cancel their voucher and found a replacement company.  I also told them that if they knew in advance there would be issues, they really should have let me know before the day of the move.  They apologized and said the owner would be calling me in the next day or two (which so far, he has not.)   I also got an email from the property management company of my new condominium building a couple days after I moved in asking me to fill out a form with my planned moved date which I thought was amusing (I did reply to that one saying it was too late, but the management company didn't have a problem with it once I explained the circumstances.)

The day after my move, I had hired a cleaning service to come and do a move-out cleaning for me.  They showed up right on time and did an excellent job.  I then turned in my keys and wrote my final check for the utilities there before heading back to my new place to unload all the junk that was still in my car.  I finished that and due to having an extra bedroom at my new condo, I already feel more moved in there than I ever did in my apartment.  Of course, I have a lot of boxes to unpack and go through, but I'll get there.  

I don't want to include a link with my exact address but I will share a picture I took from the courtyard of the building outside my back door.  I think I will like living here.  At the very least, I am looking forward to not having to move again for a very long time.  


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Go Blackhawks! Also, I won a bet.

So, I presume most people reading this post have heard about this happening...



I am not a huge hockey fan...in fact, I was at work the night game six was on and I had given up hope.  Rather than staying after my shift to watch the game's end, I headed out to my car and missed one of the greatest hockey comebacks of all time.  Ah well....anyhow, this is a very big deal in my neck of the woods, and I had a bet on this one that I made with Jim Sullivan of Suldog fame.  He has graciously made good the terms of our wager on his blog here.

Thanks Jim, it was nice betting with you!  Thanks for the linkage.




Monday, June 24, 2013

Summerland - Kickin' It Old School

So as promised, here is my review of the Summerland concert I went to over the weekend.  Summerland was organized by Everclear and featured acts by Sponge, Live, Filter, and Everclear.  As I am a big Everclear fan (and a fan of Sponge, Filter, and Live as well) I was very excited to hear about this show so I ponied up money for a VIP ticket.  What this ticket got me was a pre-show meet and greet with Everclear which included a short acoustic performance by them, along with a "goodie bag" that included their latest CD and some other schwag.

I was a bit nervous to meet Art, who is one of my personal musical heroes, but he was totally cool and very friendly and approachable.  Some people might say, well yeah, you were paying to meet him so of course he would be!  However, I think he wasn't acting - he really did seem like a very cool, laid back rock star.  I didn't say a whole lot to him as everyone at the meet and greet also wanted to say hi, but I did thank him for following me on Twitter.  I was wearing an old Everclear tour t-shirt that I'd gotten back in 2001 or so, and he said he liked my shirt, that it was "old school."  I also got to meet all of his band members, who were equally friendly, nice, and approachable.  I also got photos of myself with Art, along with the band.



In his photo I am laughing because Art was joking about how much taller I was than the band and said something like, "OK everybody, get on your tiptoes now!"



I was also able to record the band's acoustic performance of "I Will Buy You A New Life" which I have shared below.  In hindsight of course, I should have turned the camera so it would post better on YouTube but in the spur of the moment I didn't think of it.  Anyhow, other than that, the video turned out pretty well.



The regular show started about twenty minutes after the meet and greet event ended.  I won't go into details for every act, but I thought ALL the bands rocked, all the sets were great, and every set felt like it was the right length.  There was also a nice break time between sets so you never had to miss any music while waiting in line for the bathroom or whatever.  Seriously, great show and great sound by all the performers.

I am probably...ok, defintitely prejudiced because I liked all the bands, but it was one of the best concerts I've ever been to.  As another reviewer pointed out, none of the bands performing featured their original lineup, and Live did not feature their original lead singer, but I didn't mind in the least or notice in the performance of their songs.

It was kind of funny observing the crowd - now that all of us original fans are in our thirties and forties, it was definitely a more mellow watching experience than some of the concerts I went to in my youth.  While far from a sellout crowd, it was still good sized and everyone really seemed to enjoy the music.

I won't try to include videos by all the bands that performed - anyone interested can do a search on YouTube to find the music - but I will say, if you do like the bands, try and support them by buying their music, even if it's just individual tracks.  But if you DO like the bands, why not pony up some cash for a CD to show your love?

I do want to include this video of a cover of "Happy Together" by Filter as I think it's an interesting, well-done take on the song and I also think it's an excellent video.  I guess it's gotten some more airplay recently since it was featured on the soundtrack for the new Great Gatsby movie, and I'm happy for the band that it has.



In short, I thought Summerland was an awesome show, and I hope Art brings it back again next year.  For more information on tour dates, you can go to click here and see if it's coming to your town.  More linky goodness...to follow Live on Twitter, click here.  To follow Sponge, click here.  To follow Filter, click here.  To follow Everclear, click here.  Art also has an individual Twitter feed you can access here.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

I write like...

So, this is kind of cool...


I write like
Chuck Palahniuk
I Write Like. Analyze your writing!



The only book I've read by him is Fight Club but it was very good.  And, it's always nice to find out that a computer thinks my style is similar to a famous person also named Chuck.

I just saw Everclear, Sponge, Live, and Filter in an awesome concert organized by Art Alexakis called Summerland.  I want to do a post with the pictures and video that I took but I also want to do a decent job of writing it, so give me a few days and then check back here for details.  If you're a fan of alternative rock and want to see if the show is coming to your town, go check out www.summerlandtour.net for information.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Friendly Wager

As I am now a Midwest resident once again, and the Chicago Blackhawks are in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, I have agreed to an online bet with Jim Sullivan of Suldog fame.  If the Bruins win, I am obligated to write a post complimenting Boston and the Bruins, along with displaying their team logo.  If the Hawks win, Jim is obligated to do the same for Chicago and the Blackhawks on his blog.  He said it would bring more traffic to our blogs, but since he is a regular blog updater and has hundreds of followers I think that it will benefit me more than him...still, I'm happy to take his bet.  Jim is a great guy and a really good writer, and I look forward to reading about Chicago on his blog once the series is over.