Small Ship Cruises

I’m getting married in March. This, at least, is what the invitation says. I’m currently of the opinion that both parties will be present, but I could be wrong.

Going on the assumption, however, that I will be getting married, I need to at least try to make plans for a “honeymoon.” Given that we’re paying for the wedding, it won’t be quite as extravagant as it would be if her father was paying for it, as she had originally assumed.

I’m still shopping around; I don’t know what will happen.

I came across a useful website for the peculiarities of our situation:

Mandrina hates large cruise ships. As in “deathly terrified” hates. So a site dedicated to small ships? Perfect, saves me a lot of time. Of course, they’re just trying to pigeon-hole you into using their travel agent system, which is nearly archaic. It also doesn’t list itineraries or dates of departure, so I’m taking the name of each cruise line, then searching based off it.

If I only had a few hundred thousand dollars more, I’d already have found the perfect cruise! (If I only had a few hundred thousand dollars more, I don’t think I’d be still looking.)

There’s the link, in case anyone else needs to find a cruise ship holding less than 200 passengers.

At least get your facts right!

I received an offer for a credit card today. This, in and of itself, is not unusual. Since I bought a house, it’s a strange day that goes by when I DON’T receive a credit card offer.

Today’s offer, however, was a bit novel. The top line for the offer was, “You were BORN to carry this card!”

Seems this particular card’s gimick is to represent your astrological sign, which I’m sure would be popular with the right group of people.

I have only one problem with this (okay, I really have many, but I’m only posting the one):

I’m a Gemini, not a Leo. Get your sodding facts right.

House-buying mortality

I was going to put this under “Living,” but given that the topic is actually “Death” I decided to simply file this under “Real Estate.” The two are related.

Last night and again today (I’m “working,” okay?) I’ve spent a great deal of time going through snail mail that has piled up over the last few months. Between work-work and house-work, I haven’t had a great deal of time to separate the wheat from the chaff. I was given to understand that it would be a very good thing for me to think about doing, so instead of actually being productive last night (did I mention I want to write an extension for Word to serve as a Wiki engine? Offline, for now… Oh. I needed a hobby.), I went through piles of mail.


You see, I am, and always have been, a packrat. I just have a strong desire to KEEP things. This would explain why my bedroom at my parent’s house still is full, while my new house is similarly full. I have clothes that haven’t fit me in ten years, but I just can’t justify getting rid of them, for sentimental reasons. My jacket from Space Academy I (aka, Space Camp for Slightly Older Kids), for one, is still sitting in my closet. I digress, however.

I have mail from when I was in college. Some of it is kept out of sentiment — cards my mother sent me, for instance (and she sends me a lot of mail!). Some of it is kept because at the time I couldn’t bring myself to throw them away (a birthday card from an exgirlfriend, for instance), and now don’t know where they are (If you’re reading this, don’t worry, I’m not talking about anything YOU gave me). Boxes of mail have tended to move with me; I just rarely have the time to do anything about it.

Last night, however, I made some time. However, all I did was go through mail received since I bought our lovely house (for the record, I have a bunch of pictures. I just haven’t had time to sort them yet… This is a theme, isn’t it?). The mail, with a few exceptions (most of which weren’t addressed to me) fit into depressingly few categories. I had some mail at work from the same time period which I’m going through while waiting for a build to finish, and I’m discovering the same repetitive themes:

  • Mortgage refinancing offers.
  • Debt refinancing offers.
  • Credit card offers.
  • Items from my real estate agent.
  • Life insurance offers.

This strikes me as being fairly ironic. On the one hand, I’m sure having a new mortgage and the associated effects on my credit score must trigger some set of automatic behaviors when lenders process credit information. On the other hand, though… Let’s reexamine that list:

  • Please! Redo the hundreds (slight hyperbole) of pages of paperwork you’ve already done! Rates have gone up, but you’ll still save money!
  • We’ll throw money at you! It’s so much cheaper than the current credit card bills you’re paying! Either you don’t have to have a house to back the loan, or you do! We’ll tell you how much we’ll actually lend you and at what rate after you actually apply! Don’t read the small print that says you need to have a FICO of 900 and a Loan-to-Value ratio on your house (if applicable) of under 10 percent (slight hyperbole)! We know you just bought a house and don’t possibly have that great of a LTV, and we know that the interest on this loan will not be entirely tax deductible, but still! Let us lend you money for you to pay back over a longer period of time at a lower interest rate, so you just think you’re saving money!
  • Congratulations! You’ve just spent several hundred thousand dollars you don’t actually have! What are you going to do next? “I’m going to go further into debt!” (No trip to Disneyland or World required)
  • Come on, you bought one! It was a lot of fun! Why don’t you take up house buying as an investment strategy? After a few hits, the pain of signing over your life fades to a dull ache!
  • (At this point, I picture a gaunt man in a black suit, sitting with his hands clasped on his desk, while you’re sitting across from him, waiting for the receptionist to hurry back with the cup of tea you said you would like in place of coffee.) So. You’ve just bought a house. You know, you’re going to die. Soon. Have you thought about your death yet? It’s an interesting question to ponder. Will you suffer long? Will you die suddenly in a terrible and inexplicable accident involving glue and rubber cement? Will you be “rubbed out,” to put it colloquially, by someone who you annoyed by snoring through part of Der Ring des Nibelungen? Will you die from too much artificial sweeter accumulating in your body? But I’m sadly off topic. Ah, here’s your tea. Sugar? Aspartame? No? Here you are then. After you die, you still will have to worry. You can’t just slip silently into that dark night. You have bills left to pay! Your house still to pay off! What will those who expect to extract cash from your corpse think when suddenly, all your money has gone to your old expenses, and you still have debts left over that they’ll then have to resolve? Come now, wouldn’t it be far better for you to start handing us money now? After all, you’re going to die really soon, so it’s a sound investment strategy. You give us money, you die, we give some back. (I see him leaning forward, with a quill pen and scrollwork parchment to sign.) Just sign here… (This has some elements in common with other issues proposals that require bloodwork…)

I don’t think reading the mail is good for my moral.

I did, however, come across a package addressed to Glitch that contained samplers for “Greenies for Cats,” which Glitch hates. Pixel and Bit, on the other hand, went bonkers for them. So all was not lost, and my last thoughts of the day did not dwell on my own mortality. Instead, they dwelt on the blasted kittens who decided to wrestle ON me. Can’t win…

Perpetually guilty

I was raised Roman Catholic. While I may have lapsed some (or a lot, depending how you look at it), I still can feel guilty with the best of them.

My dear friend Abigail told me tonight that I should just stop doing things out of guilt. My, wouldn’t that be easy! Come on, this morning I gave the naughty kittens each a small piece of cheese, simply because I felt guilty that I had given a large piece (or three) to my wonderful Glitch.

Read more

Lowering my own house’s value

Zillow is a neat idea — personally I’ve found their values a bit flaky, but it’s still a worthwhile concept.

I just plugged in my own address; on a whim, I wanted to see if my house has accumulated any value since I bought it. Low and behold — it has! According to Zillow, the price has gone up almost 10% since I bought it! Admittedly, Zillow’s estimated value is still lower than what I paid for the house, but now…

I just checked the most recent sales data for the house — aka, when I bought it.

I pulled down my own house’s value. The way the sale was written up for the seller, there were actually two separate deals. Half of what I paid went to the woman, half went to the estate of the husband. Which means there were two simultaneous sale contracts, each half of what I actually paid for the house. Guess what! That lowers the value of the house, as it’s now considered to have sold at that 50% mark. DOH!

Anti-Bitch about Amazon

I was planning on writing a post about how has changed their gift certificate policy, and screwed me out of over one hundred dollars.

It used to be that gift certificates had expiration dates, but you could add them to your account, and they would last indefinitely.

At some point in the last year or so, this policy has changed. Now the original expiration date is still valid; and it’s even harder to find, as you just have a gift certificate “balance.”

I noticed my account balance was low when checking it on a whim, and emailed Amazon, furious that that change had come by, and I was given no information that I had an account balance that was due to expire. This annoyed me.

I just got an email response saying they had checked, and my gift certificates had qualified under the old rules. My gift certificate balance was reestablished, and was flagged to last indefinitely.

Now, THAT’s customer service.

Avoiding buying a new laptop…

I am getting really tired of some of the… idiosyncracies of my wonderful current laptop… that is now 5.5 years old. Tarot has some issues (Not the Tarot you’re thinking of, unless you know why my desktop is named Ghostwheel, and my other desktop Logrus…). He’s just been abused for several years.

I want a new laptop. I just can’t convince myself to spend the money — or that I necessarily have the money to spend. However, I could be wrong. I could use a laptop, I’m certain. At the same time, I know that there’s always new and better technology coming down the pipe, and in a year I could probably buy a laptop that will actually run Windows Vista. It might not be out in a year, but at least I could upgrade…

Read more