Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Great Furniture Hunt

I used to love to go into furniture stores and just browse. It was fun to look at all the different arrangements while envisioning how I wanted my house to look. Now, though, I find myself both in need of furniture and in, more or less, the financial position to buy furniture. As I’ve blogged recently, my fiancée and I recently moved into a townhouse, so we’re actually in the market for furniture. We have a very nice couch and matching chair we bought from my Mom. We also have a drop leaf pub table and chair set that we use for our kitchen/dining room table. Next to the recliner, we have a floor lamp that has a glass top table built into it. We’ve repurposed a microwave stand into a TV stand, and a bathroom rack into a bar. What we’re lacking is a coffee table and end tables. We’re using a wicker coffee table and a pair of folding TV trays as our end tables at the moment. They work, as far as functionality, but we really would like to have proper tables.

We’ve looked online, at BigLots, Target, Wal-mart and have also looked at a couple of dedicated furniture stores. The conclusion we’ve come to is, we have Macy’s Furniture Gallery tastes with a BigLots budget. Seriously, BigLots has a coffee table with matching end tables for around $170 sold as a set, versus the average coffee table at Macy’s or Rooms To Go being $150-$200 for just the coffee table while the end tables cost just as much - each (And that’s their low end furniture. We saw one table at Macy’s that we both really liked, but it was $700! We didn’t pay that much for the couch and chair together.).

I didn’t realize that picking out a coffee table and end tables that we both like, and that doesn’t simultaneously cost half a month’s salary, would be so difficult. I think I’ve just about come to the conclusion that the furniture collection she found on eBay is going to be the way to go. Then again, we do have an IKEA in Atlanta, so we may look there as well, first. Either way, we’re probably going to have to go with “put it together your damn self” furniture -- at least until one of us wins the lottery *wink*.

~ JC

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Hungry for the Games

I just finished reading The Hunger Games a few days ago. I had been reading the Song of Ice & Fire series and had just finished book four of that series and, well, just needed a break from Mr. Martin’s very epic series. I had gotten a free ePub version of The Hunger Games when I bought my Nook, so I decided to give it a shot.

I have to admit something. Despite it being the first in (apparently) a very popular trilogy and being made into a movie that comes out in a few weeks, I had never heard of The Hunger Games before being offered the free Nook edition. Not even a little bit. Ok, so it’s been years since I worked in a bookstore and was “in the loop” as to popular author and title trends, but I still feel a little bit surprised that I hadn’t even heard of this trilogy. But I digress.

So, I’ve now read the first book. What’s my honest first impression? It’s a little predictable and has a lot of borrowed themes (‘The Lottery’, ‘The Running Man’, ‘Firefly/Serenity’, ‘Survivor’, and Lord of the Flies all come to mind). A friend of mine also asked me if I found it strange that the lead character was a bit of “a moron”. To be fair, I think calling Katniss a “moron” is completely inaccurate. She’s actually very intelligent. She’s just impulsive and doesn’t always stop to think about her actions thoroughly. Ok, and she’s a bit dense when it comes to reading people, particularly when it comes to someone showing genuine love for her, but hey, she’s only 16 (for starters) and she’s also gone through a lot of emotional upheaval.

At any rate, I did enjoy the book, plan on seeing the movie, and do intend to read the remaining two books in the trilogy because I am interested to see where the story goes. But I do have to admit, had it not been given to me for free, I probably wouldn’t have even considered it. It’s nice to be pleasantly surprised by a book and have it turn out to be better than you were expecting it to be.

~ JC

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Channels, Channels Everywhere

For the first time in over a year, I have full access to cable television. I have blogged a few months ago about how I really didn’t miss television all that much, so I have to admit that it’s a bit strange having it again. It’s not so much that I felt an overwhelming need to have cable again as much as it was actually cheaper to sign up for cable and internet instead of just internet. I realize that sounds contradictory, so I’ll explain.

When we were getting all our ducks in a row for the move a couple of weeks ago, one of things I needed to do was order utilities to be turned on for the new place. In this day and age, internet access is almost as essential as having electricity, water and gas. After comparing packages between both Comcast and AT&T U-Verse, I decided to go with AT&T. Initially, I was just going to order internet access and not worry about television, but the package deals they offer simply made more sense than getting just internet by itself. See, if I had ordered just internet, I would have ended up paying close to $250 in activation and installation fees. By ordering a package that included both internet and about 270 channels of television (plus HBO and Cinemax free for the first three months), the installation was free and the activation fee was waved. So, mathematically speaking, it just made more sense, at least in terms of initial cost.

The other upside is that the package I ordered did not require a contract, so once the six month introductory price is up, I can easily change it to be a smaller package of channels (ones that we actually watch, for example) without penalty.

For now, I have 270 channels, only about twenty, so far, that I’ve put on the “Favorites” list. In some ways, it’s kind of nice. At least now I can watch Morning Express with Robin Meade while I have breakfast again. And, of course, having a DVR so I can record things and watch them when it’s convenient for me is nice too.

~ JC

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Movin' On Up

Last week I blogged about the impending move from Decatur, GA to Alpharetta, GA. I fully expected this week's blog to be an anger filled rant about how much moving sucks, blah, blah, blah. Surprising, it's not. It's about how smooth everything went despite some very very minor hiccups.

Wednesday morning started early. We got up between 5:30 and 6:00 AM to finish up last minute packing of items that we needed right up until time to move. The movers, Two Men and a Truck, were scheduled to arrive between 8:30 and 9:00 AM. At 9:15 AM, Roxanne called them to find out where they were at and was informed they were running a bit late that morning. And thus, I thought, was the indication of how the day was going to go moving forward; the movers are late, the day must be destined to reside in the plane of suck. However, once the movers arrived and got started (at 9:45 AM), everything started rolling from there. First of all Two Men and Truck ended up being three men and a truck as they had dispatched an extra guy. It only took them an hour to get everything loaded into the truck (including the couch). So, by 10:45 AM we were rolling out to the new place. Thirty minutes later, we arrived at the Alpharetta address. Being that the new place is a townhouse and not an apartment on the third floor, the unloading took much less time and they were done at 11:45 AM on the button. Yep, it only took them two hours to get us completely moved! They charge by the hour, with a two hour minimum charge and we had estimated 3-4 hours and based our budget on it taking five. So, the fact that they managed it within the minimum was not only impressive, but it meant we had money left over for things like groceries or other sundries we might need for our new home. Not only were the guys fast, but they were professional and had great customer service skills too. So, thank you Demarkus, Jamal and Eddie for doing such a great job!

The quick move by Two Men and a Truck also made the finalizing of getting out old place go better than planned as well. See, we had scheduled the gas company to turn on our gas sometime between Noon and 4:00 PM the day we moved in, which meant at least one of us had to be at the house. Seeing as how Roxanne was not actually on the lease at the old place, she couldn't very well do the walk-through and key turn in there. So, I headed back down to Decatur after unloading our cars while Roxanne started putting things away and waited on the gas company. We really hated the apartment complex we were leaving, so to be honest, the “cleaning” I did was about as half-assed as you could get – quick wipe down of the counters, quick once over with a vacuum, and took out the trash and I was done. What's really sad to me is that the walk-through took about three minutes. They really didn't inspect a damn thing except to make sure we hadn't torn down any walls or major things like that. That place is such a slum I feel kind of bad for the people who still have to live there. I signed the walk-through sheet, gave them the keys and made sure that they had my new address and the new address of my former roommate so they could mail us our deposit refunds and headed back to Alpharetta, well before Atlanta's infamous rush hour traffic began. By the time I had returned, the gas company had been and gone and Roxanne had made a start of unpacking stuff that we would need right away.

Day two began, for me anyway, at 6:30 AM, mainly because I'm so used to getting up early that my internal clock wakes me up even if I don't have to be up that early. AT&T was scheduled to arrive between 9:00 AM and 11:00 AM to install my TV and Internet service (sidebar here – don't you just love how companies schedule appointments for such broad time range of when they might arrive?). I was pleasantly surprised when my phone rang at 8:30 AM. Our installer was already en route. Wilson arrived ten minutes early, was very professional and courteous and, despite having to put in a ticket to actually get the signal sent to the house, the whole install only took two hours even though all the paperwork when I signed up for the service said to prepare for it to take up to four hours.

So with the exception of a very few minor glitches, everything has fallen into place and the move went way smoother than any other move I've ever done before. We just need to finish the rest of the unpacking, get some décor on the walls and restock the fridge and pantry and it's 'Home Sweet Home' (for the next fifteen months, at least). Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go watch some of the stuff I've DVR'ed over the last few days. *wink*

~ JC