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High Hopes

Three University of Cincinnati have spent the past two years designing and building a rocket that, with the help of NASA, will be launched over the Atlantic and is designed to reach and altitude of 30,000 feet. When asked about the amount of effort needed to complete the project, one of the students replied, “Sure, we put in some long nights, but it was an attainable goal– not like brain surgery.”

Home Sweet Home

Have you ever had one of those days when you come home from the movies on a Sunday evening only to have your longtime friend/roommate/landlord tell you that he is moving in with his girlfriend to a brand new place ten miles away? Welcome to my world.

As if I didn’t have enough to keep me busy between not getting fired at work and arranging my Netflix movie queue on the Internet (OK, maybe that last one doesn’t sound that difficult, but if I don’t keep a constant eye on it, Kristin will fill up the list with her silly choices like the complete cartoon collection of “Jem and the Holograms” while showing absolutely no respect for my culturally enlightening selections such as “Shakes the Clown.” I mean, come on, how can Bob Goldthwait playing (“playing”) a depressed alcoholic clown not be an important social commentary?

Back to the “me getting kicked out of the house” thread, Scott assured me that I could live in the house until it was sold to someone else. This meant that I had somewhere between two weeks and six months to find a new place to call home. Before I started looking for a place I needed to answer several important questions: Do I want to rent or own? What part of town do I want to live in? Could I just sleep at the UPS center and avoid the extensive cost of shelter altogether?

After considering all my options, I decided to buy a place of my own. That way, I reasoned, if I got kicked out it would most likely be due to: A: a freak meteorite hitting my place or B: a complete and long-term finical irresponsibility on my part. In either case, I would only tangentially blame Scott for having to move again.

My search for personal residential real estate began, like any good search, on the Internet. I entered what I wanted in a house and how much I could afford to spend. In roughly 1/10th of a second I got a response back from Google. It offered me, in this exact order, books on houses from Amazon.com, doll houses for sale on Ebay.com, and finally every single piece of real estate, commercial and residential, for sale and not for sale, on the entire planet. Since this didn’t provide me with much useful information, I decided to take a more realistic approach to my dilemma– I drove around parts of town where I wanted to live and looked for “For Sale” signs on houses.

After a surprisingly short search, I found a place I liked and made an offer. For everyone who hasn’t purchased real estate, the negotiation process goes something like this:

Buyer: I will pay you X dollars for this house.

Seller: Well, I don’t know, I think it is worth 2X to the right buyer.

Buyer: How about 1.5X?

Seller: I might be able to swing that. Of course I would have to keep the washer, dryer, and all the windows and doors.

Buyer: If I have to buy all that stuff I would need to take my dying mother off dialysis. Would that make you happy?

And so on.

Once the terms of the sale are agreed upon, the next stage in the process is to arrange financing. Most people don’t have enough money to write a check for the total cost of the house. This is why mortgage companies were invented. In exchange for giving people lots of money to buy a house, the mortgage company has the right to put people through a complex and deeply humiliating loan approval process. This includes, but is not limited to, financial information from the past three generations of relatives, a complete pantry inventory, and, at the sole discretion of the mortgage company managerial staff, a complete urine analysis. “I’m sorry, but the sample you provided us was a bit too dark for our taste. You will never own a house. Have a nice day.”

Once financing has been arranged, the final step in the process is the closing. In addition to having to sign 8000 pieces of confusing yet legally binding documents, the soon-to-be homeowner needs to check for any forms clerical and typographical errors in the loan documents. This included making sure names are spelled correctly, dates more or less correspond to when events actually happened, and that the title company isn’t under the impression that you are buying a used muffler bracket assembly from a 1978 Pinto.

The title company’s main responsibility is to say everything is going smoothly, and then, two days before the closing, inform the buyer that six crucial documents have been mysteriously removed from the closing file. This is exactly what happened during my closing. Imagine this: I’m driving on the east side of Fort Collins delivering packages trying not to fall behind schedule when my cell phone rings. “Hello, this is so-and-so from your friendly neighborhood title company. Look, we just now realized that your place is a ‘pud’. Now that doesn’t mean anything to you, but since it is a pud, we need additional information from your employer regarding your pay from two years ago. If you could just fax that to me in the next half an hour or so, that would be great.” First of all, I’m in a big brown UPS truck, which does not have any type of onboard fax machine. Second, I’m 20 miles away from my computer and still have 4 hours of work to get done before I can get home. And finally, getting any kind of useful information from a company as large as UPS cannot be completed in less than four to six weeks.

Despite all these difficulties, I did manage to complete the process of buying a townhouse (or ‘pud,’ if you will). With that accomplished, I now get to move on to a whole new set of challenges such as moving all my stuff, landscaping the front yard, and putting up window coverings. I was planning on getting some of that done this afternoon, but I just noticed that my “Shakes the Clown” DVD just came in the mail from Netflix.