Sunday, January 29, 2012

Let The Hunt Begin

In thirty days the lease on my apartment expires. I have no intention of renewing it because, frankly, I'd rather sleep in a tent under an overpass than continue to live in this piece of shit apartment complex. I could easily turn this into a big rant about how this place is firmly rooted in the Plane of Suck, but there's really no need to raise my blood pressure like that. No, I think I want to talk about the trials and tribulations of house hunting.

Over the last few weeks we have looked at dozens of potential houses and apartments in the Metro-Atlanta area. So many choices, not to mention trying to decide if it's more important to try to stay near where most of our friends are or close to where I work (the commute is going to kill me, I swear). It seems the first trial I house hunting around here is just getting the realtor/landlord to return a damn phone call or email. I know Roxanne called and/or emailed several places last week, but only four actually responded. So, Yesterday, we spent several hours looking at four different places. Now, before I continue I must say that, while Atlanta is not expensive as one would expect, it is still a large metro area, which undoubtedly is going to affect price. That being said, location plays a big factor in the housing market and the decision on making a decision on where to live. For example, one of the houses we looked at (number four of four) was beautiful; it was well maintained, had obviously been recently had a lot work done (new hardwood floors, paint, etc.). We loved the house itself, but it had two very major strikes against it, the first being no driveway. Parking for this house was on the street. If that had been the only thing, we probably would have been ok with it. However, strike two was that the neighborhood it surrounded it was pretty run down looking and, frankly, even in broad daylight, we didn't feel particularly safe being there. It was very unfortunate because the price was very reasonable as well.

The first house we looked at on our house hunt yesterday also failed to impress. The neighborhood was fine, the house itself was ok as far as space and the rent was reasonable. But this place had virtually no closet space. Seriously, in a three bedroom house, only one one bedroom had a closet. The only other closet in the entire house was a small coat closet in the living room. Even thought the washer and dryer were included (a very big bonus for us, since we currently spend $20-30 a week doing laundry at a laundromat), it just wasn't enough. It didn't help that, despite the size of the yard being impressive, it was also very unkempt and was pretty much all pine straw without a blade of grass to be seen.

The two best houses we looked at were the second and third houses we visited, and really out of the four we have viewed so far, are the only two I would consider worth moving into. Number two was quite impressively large, especially for the price. The neighborhood seemed decent enough. The yard was ample, parking wouldn't be problem, even if we wanted to invite people over. It needs some work, but it appeared that the owners were still in the process of fixing up a few things. The problem with having so much space though, is that we don't own enough furniture to fill it, and I really don't want to go have to buy more furniture just so my house doesn't look so empty. That aside, though, the only real problem I had with that house was the fact that it did not have central air conditioning. Really? In the middle of Georgia, there's no central AC? The rent may not be that high, but the cost of trying to cool that place with only window AC units could prove to be pretty high in a region where summer temperatures push close to 100 degrees with very high humidity.

The overall leader after this weekend's viewings is undoubtedly, for me anyway, the third place we looked at. Admittedly, it was the most expensive of the four, but when all things are considered, $900 per month is still pretty good. A very large yard that is in pretty good shape; a nice back deck; three bedrooms (only one of which didn't have a proper closet, because the water heater was in it); new hardwood floors; fresh paint; and it's a corner lot in a fairly quiet/safe neighborhood.

The hunt, of course, is not over. We've only earnestly looked at four places, and all within a few miles of where we are now. We still have a list of places we have seen online to sift through, some of which are considerably closer to where I work. But with only thirty days left to choose, and the fact that I can only look on Saturdays and Sundays because of my work schedule, the decision is going to have to be made pretty soon.

Not to mention that my readers can look forward to an “I hate moving” rant in a few weeks too. *wink*

~ JC

Sunday, January 22, 2012

What Possesses People?

I often wonder, as I'm sure many other do, what exactly possesses a person to act, well, like an asshole. I don't, necessarily, mean the tendency in all of us to say or do something in a moment of anger that is asshole-ish. I am referring to people who tend toward acting that way all seemingly all the time. All those years I worked retail, I experienced this phenomenon quite often – those customers who were always mean and hateful no matter how pleasant and polite you tried to be to them.

That aside, what bothers me the most is when someone suddenly uses vicious name calling when they find themselves in disagreement with another person. What is it, in the mind of someone, that causes them to completely lose sight of the issue and decide that attacking someone's weight or hobbies, etc., instead of debating the topic that caused the argument?

I bring this up because of a recent incident in my own life that ended a friendship that had lasted several years. This friend, we'll call him “Frank”, had been my supervisor at a past job. After we both left that company, we became pretty good friends, occasionally meeting up for coffee. Frank had a tendency to do mass forwards from his email, mostly political in nature. Sometimes these emails were interesting and worth reading, but being someone who is not especially prone to political debate, I mostly deleted these out of hand and didn't object because our friendship was more important to me than getting into political arguments. Recently, Frank's email got hacked and a mass email was sent out from his account. Not knowing, for certain, if it had come from him or someone else on the list, I had clicked on “Reply All” and sent out a general request to be removed from whatever distribution list I had apparently gotten on. At the time, I was unaware that Frank's email had gotten hacked.

This, at first, only lead to him sending me an email asking what was wrong. I told him nothing was wrong, per se, I was just getting to many emails and was trying to limit how much email was hitting my inbox. A few days later he informed everyone that he had gotten hacked. One of the comments he made in that email seemed erroneous to me. He said something about resetting passwords to correct the problem. I took his comment as meaning that resetting one's password would remove them from the distribution list. I probably mistook his meaning, now that I look back on it, but I did reply to everyone to offer some amount of advise on this topic and stated that resetting a password would not remove them for a distribution list, but that, naturally, Frank should reset his since he was the one who's email was hacked.

This is where things went to shit really fast. He sent me an email claiming I had “thrown him under the bus” by replying to all his friends and telling him to reset his password. Now, I would have probably just taken it as he had mistook my intent (which obviously he had) and tried to explain and smooth things over, except that later in the email he told me that the “douche bag part”.. of me.. “was unnecessary” and “Happy New Year Asshole!” Perhaps, I overreacted a bit myself at this point, but I replied explaining that I was not trying to embarrass him but trying to offer some technical advise that I thought everyone would have benefited from, which is why I replied to all instead of just him. However, his decision to be nasty about the whole thing caused me to tell him that I was tired of not getting any emails from him except political bullshit and that he could remove me from his address book entirely.

The whole thing had already gotten out of hand, and the friendship was pretty much done at that point already. I'd dare say that I was probably just as wrong as he was for the way I responded, but this is the part that really tore me up. His next email, instead of simply saying “fine, you're deleted and our friendship is over” and leaving it at that, launched into a tirade of telling me who he hoped that my fat ass ate myslef into type 2 diabetes, and that I lived in a fantasy world of gaming, and that he hoped I got lung cancer from smoking to much.. blah, blah, blah.

Now, I ask you, what the fuck did any of that have to do with our actual disagreement? If he had called me “asshole” or “douche bag” again based on how I had handled our little email string of disagreement, fine. But, really? Someone who's in their 50s resorting to what I have now termed the “Yeah, well you're a doody head” technique of argument and basically wishing my dead because I didn't want to get forwarded a bunch of politically charged emails anymore? Where's the sense in that? And how sad and messed up is this person's life that they would resort to that? Sure, I could have been more diplomatic about the whole thing. I take full responsibility for responding in anger. But, outside of calling him “dick” once, I never made comments about his health, his weight, his hobbies or anything else that was irrelevant to the reason we were now at odds.

I am saddened that such a long standing friendship is over, especially with someone who was older than me (all of my friends are younger than I am) and that I looked up to as somewhat of a mentor. But considering his over the top reaction and the vile things he said in our final communication, I'm probably better off not having “Frank” in my list of friends anymore.

~ JC

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Ben Was Right... Mostly

“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” - Benjamin Franklin

Now, I don't know if the above quote is accurate or apocryphal, but I have to agree with it wholeheartedly. Beer has been around for thousands of years, believed to date back to as much as 6000 BCE. I really do like beer. In the past year I've become a bit of a beer snob, even, preferring imports and micro-brews to the more common domestic brands.

Unfortunately, and to my dismay, I've recently discovered that I can no longer drink it. The last few times I've enjoyed a nice cold brew, or two, I've awoken the next day to nausea, headache and just generally feeling like total shit. Now, naturally, I'm sure you're first thought is, “Well, you drank to much is all and had a hang over.” I'd agree with that except that it just happened yesterday after having one beer on Friday night. One, and maybe a half. So, not even two beers, and not even a buzz resulted in me being in bed sick all day the following day. Compare that to my being able to have several mixed drinks (Whiskey and Diet Cola or Rum and Diet Cola being the most common), which I tend to make rather strong without having the same sickness the next day and the conclusion ends up being that it's not the amount of alcohol, but something else within beer that's making me sick.

I hate that beer has become something I can no longer enjoy. It's certainly cheaper than liquor and there are so many different varieties that I was hoping to try. I have no clue what it is about beer that makes me so sick, I just know it makes me a little sad that I can no longer enjoy this blessing from God.

~ JC

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Damn it Feels Good to Be a Lannister

If you haven't seen this video, and you're fan of 'Game of Thrones', you totally should do so... go ahead, I'll wait.

I read a lot. Maybe not as much as some, and certainly not as much as I'd like to, but I do read a lot. I've read the original Dragonlance Chronicles, The Sword of Truth series, a fair amount of the Star Wars novels and of course I've read The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and most of The Chronicles of Narnia, et.,al. But no series of books has gripped me the way George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice & Fire series has. I'll admit, I'm a late comer to this series, which started in 1996 with A Game of Thrones. And I'll even admit that I wasn't inspired to read them until HBO began producing a series based on them.

The first book, A Game of Thrones, was published in 1996. By the time fans of the series were eagerly awaiting book four, A Feast for Crows, to come out, I was working at a Books-A-Million in Fayetteville, NC. The series seemed interesting enough, but I didn't really feel like starting a series that was already three books deep (as a side note, as much as I love sci-fi and fantasy, it has always irked me that no one ever seems to write just one book in that genre; everything always ends up being trilogies or well beyond). Anyway, I had pretty much decided back then that I wasn't going to read this series. I was even a little bit perturbed that HBO was making a series out of them. I mean, that seems to be the status quo in Hollywood anymore – find a popular book series and turn it into a half-assed adaptation for the either TV or the big screen. Still, HBO usually does a pretty good job with this, but seeing as how I didn't have HBO, it really didn't matter.

A few months ago, though, I managed to get my hands on the HBO series. It was very well done, and the plot twists and surprises got my attention. So, I went to my local bookstore and picked up a copy of the first book. I was instantly hooked. Even though I had watched the HBO series, and knew what was going to happen, Martin's writing style (and the subtle differences between the books and TV series) had me turning page after page after page.

I am currently reading the fourth book. It has, admittedly, taken me no less than a month to read each book; they're that long, but also that compelling that I don't want to just rush through them. I'm not that fast of a reader as it is, but I find myself reading just a bit slower with this series because they are so rich with character development and plot twists, that I don't want to miss anything.

HBO is currently working on season two of its adaptation of the series. I've already noted some things that HBO has done regarding casting, and even re-naming characters, to make me worried that they might fuck this up, but I really hope not. So far, they've done a great job at following the books. Regardless of what HBO does, however, the books themselves have definitely made it into my all-time favorites list of literature. Martin has been heralded as “The American Tolkien”, and with good reason. His storytelling ability is that epic! If you haven't read these, you should, in my not-so-humble opinion.

~ JC

Sunday, January 01, 2012

First Blog of 2012

I don't really have a topic for today's blog. But then again, that's why I call the thing “Carlisle's Chaotic Commentary”. It's been a pretty awesome ride over the last twelve months. 2012, for me, sparked a career path into Information Technology (finally). I found a good job, then found an even better job. At the beginning of 2011, I was still working a crappy, minimum wage, retail job. Now I make enough that I can afford an apartment without the assistance of a roommate (not that having someone to split the bills with hasn't been pretty awesome). To that end, I've finally moved my fiancee to Atlanta. We've started making our home look like a home with real furniture, and we've started looking at other places due to the lease expiring at the end of February and the fact that I can afford better now, than I could when I moved into where I'm at.

Everyone always hopes for the new year to be more awesome than the one prior. For me, my awesome 2012 began in the Fall of 2011 when I got hired at my current job and Roxanne moved down from North Carolina. The only thing left is for her to catch that same big break that I did, which I'm confident will happen soon.

And, maybe I'll start blogging more again in 2012. But like my friend Jimmy once pointed out, I tend to blog more when I'm pissed or upset, and I really haven't had much to rant about lately. Maybe I just need to start writing happy blogs? Nah... ;-)

~ JC