Saturday, April 30, 2011

Don't Take it Personal- I'm Just Looking for Business

With close to a year under my belt of being a landlord, and an upcoming move to Texas looming large, I determined it was time to purchase another investment property here in Colorado Springs where the property taxes are crazy low, while interest rates are historically cheap and housing prices are even more depressed than Steve Carell fans.  Besides which, if I'm to earn the coveted title of "Slum Lord", I need more than one property in my portfolio.

This time around I know more what to expect and what I'm looking for, and I found a prospective rental very quickly.  As soon as the folks at HUD and I came to an agreement on a selling price, I called one of the local banks to discuss financing options.  Their rates and terms seemed acceptable to me, but then the rep let me know that 1st Bank likes to build personal relationships with their customers, and therefore expected me to move all my banking with them if they gave me a loan.  Although this may have been the key to success for George Bailey, I let my potential new BFF know that I was quite pleased with my bank which I had been using for close to 20 years.  Besides which, I pointed out, I would be moving soon, and doubted this bank had any branches in Texas.  The kindly rep let me know that my supposition was correct, and that my moving posed an insurmountable barrier, as they really needed me to be in Colorado to do business with me. 

Needless to say I found it odd that they would really have that much interest in my residence, as long as the check for the mortgage came in on time every month.  Apparently it's imperative for the folks at 1st Bank that you regularly come in to their branch so they can shake your hand and give you a sucker.  I'm left wondering if they allow electronic banking at all, or is there a "no-moving clause" you have to sign when you open your checking account?  Whatever the case, I promptly took my business to Ent Credit Union, where they care more about your credit score (785 if you're curious) and ability to repay your loan than whether or not they will be able to have you over for a barbeque for Memorial Day.  But if you need a blind date or someone to be your kids' godmother do I have a bank for you!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Company on Mt Manitou

This week one of my best friends happened to be in town, so we took a trek up the incline; after all, is there a better way to catch up on someone's life than a mutually agreed upon hike up a mile long set of stairs at a 45% grade?  In between water breaks and gasps for air we enjoyed some great conversation and views, as well as a good work-out.

Once we had conquered the beast I took a diversionary tour of the hilltop to relieve one of my constant companions - the full bladder.  I happened to see a large rectangular iron box that seemed to have been built in the 19th century, when societies had uses for such contraptions.  I have no idea what it was originally used for, although I would guess for holding coal or something of that nature, and in my attempt to satisfy my curiosity I peeked inside a circular opening in the top.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered a man inside!  I'm assuming it was a homeless person, who used the box as his shelter, although this raised more unaswered questions.  Why was he sleeping in it during the daytime?  Why did he climb the incline in the first place?  Was this the fittest homeless person in town?  Was this actually a deceased person?

Needless to say, I am a bit tempted to go back in a week and make sure the same person isn't still lying there in the same position.  Or if he is, to make sure he's not bloated and covered in flies.  But that would require hauling myself up the incline again, and let's face it, I'm too lazy for that.  Perhaps someone reading this blog could take a peek and relieve all our minds.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Dog Days of Spring

Recently on a hike I met up with a couple of guys and their black Lab.  As I was petting the dog I was reminded again of the fact that I have been thinking about getting a dog for a while.  Having a reliable hiking partner would be great, and dogs are so loyal that they always want to be with you no matter where you go, or how badly you insult them by telling them "you smell like a dog" or "dude, your breath is like death" or "don't even think about licking my face after licking that!".

Last week I got the opportunity to see if I really am dog material.  While Heather and I have dog-sat before, it has always been for well-trained grown dogs.  In this case we are watching Sadie, an 8 month old Labrador.

Things started off as I am used to.  Sadie's owner left, and Sadie pranced around by the door, wanting her to come back.  At least that's what I thought she wanted, until I let her come out into the garage with me so I could get some work done on the trim I needed to finish prior to installing it in the living room.  Then she promptly popped a squat on a pile of foam and proceeded to urinate.  I realized she had been pacing by the door because she needed to go out and do her duty.  That was my bad, for not figuring out what she needed.  At least she went in the garage, and not in the house.

The next day, I went upstairs to my bedroom to find that she had done the number 2 on my carpet in the master bathroom.  Yes, I know carpeting doesn't belong in a bathroom, but that's beside the point.  Bad dog!  Heather cleaned that one up, which I appreciated, although she was ready at that point to be done having a dog, and I hadn't even told her about the pee in the garage.

Then yesterday while sitting in my office the dog started doing the dry heaves.  I yelled at her to come with me so we could get her outside before she lost her lunch (or more accurately, her pile of leaves and grass), and halfway down the stairs I realized she was no longer behind me.  I made a bee-line for the master bedroom, where I found her wiping her mouth with the back of her hand and feeling much better, having left what was agitating her in a pile by the dresser.  Really?  You couldn't just follow me downstairs and out the door?  I got the honors of cleaning up this one.

Fortunately there have been no more bodily discharges in the house, but I have to admit I miss getting a full night's sleep and not being awakened at 5 in the morning by a dog whining and barking.  I guess it's best to find these things out now, before I've committed to the permanent care of a pet.  One more week and I will be free of this responsibility.  I'm just not cut out for puppies.  Perhaps I could handle a nice plant.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Conquering Monarch

All good things must come to an end; even the Beatles eventually went their separate ways.  Paul to a solo career, John to a premature death at the hand of an assassin, Ringo and that other guy to whatever it is that they did.  My ski season ending may not be as monumental as the Beatles' breakup, but it was still a sad event for me nonetheless.

Fortunately, I was able to end the season on a high note.  After a couple of rough outings complete with post-lift entanglements, icy, near-calamitous runs, and some severe body blows while learning how to board, I was able to get in a wonderful day exploring a new mountain with a nice fresh coat of powder to soften the landings and increase steerability.

All of this would not had been possible if my friend Matt hadn't bought a new car.  Not only did his Toyota Corolla come with a spoiler and that great new car smell, the dealer threw in a couple of tickets to Monarch.  And since Matt's wife took a trip home to visit family, and the tickets are expiring soon, I got to be Matt's back-up date.  Woo-hoo!

Matt and I had a blast, with Matt skiing and me splitting the day between boarding in the morning and skiing in the afternoon.  The most exciting part of the day proved to be riding one of the lifts, which went so fast when it picked you up that it literally lifted you off the ground as it was scooping you up.  (I realize the point of a lift is to lift you, but normally this happens a few seconds after you are seated, and is a linear process, not a sudden shooting up in the air as your posterior is making full contact).  Oddly enough it really didn't travel that quickly up the mountain, it just seemed to speed up right as it approached you from behind.

The weather was bright and sunny, and we had a blast.  I was eyeballing a set of mammoth jumps near the entrance to the park, and had finally decided to make a go at one when Matt announced his legs were done for the day.  Left with just one last trip down the slopes, I decided to take a final high-speed run down the blue that ended at the parking lot, rather than trying to catch some air and stick the landing.  So I have to thank Matt for getting tired, and probably saving me from destroying myself in one exhilarating and obliterating move.  Maybe next season.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Language of Love

A few weeks ago Heather and I decided to read "The 5 Love Languages" by Garry Chapman.  We were both familiar with the material but had never actually read the book or took the test.  For those of you who have never heard of this (if there is anyone out there that applies to) the basic premise is that we all have 5 basic ways to give and receive love.  Really it extends beyond "love" to keeping a healthy emotional balance.  The 5 languages are physical touch, words of affirmation, receiving gifts, quality time, and acts of service.  (If you're really interested you can take the test online here:  I don't get any kickbacks, honestly.

I've always felt pretty positive physical touch was my primary love language, as I tend to be fairly touchy-feely, and have always been that way.  I try to keep in mind that not everyone appreciates hugs as I do.  You can tell whether someone is a physical touch person by the way they give a hug.  You have everything from the bear hugger (definitely physical touch) to the tipping teapot (bending forward at the waist to minimize contact below the shoulders - definitely not physical touch).

Gary also talks about how most folks are bilingual - we have a primary and secondary love language.  This is good because it dramatically increases the odds of getting your emotional tank filled.  When I took the test my primary language edged out physical touch by 1 point, and was quality time.  I was a bit surprised but not too much, as if I had to choose between spending a day hanging out with friends doing nothing, or doing any of the activities I love such as hiking or skiing but had to do them by myself, I would choose the former. 

And this coming from a guy who's fairly hermity.  Doing things by myself doesn't really bother me.  In fact, I daily eat lunch by myself at the cafeteria in what I privately call "loser row", because it's a row of tables for two inhabited by loners like myself unable to master the basic skills of being interesting enough for someone to want to share a meal with.  But having done this since junior high it didn't take long to adjust to reacquiring the habit.  So I enjoy my meal and conversation with myself in my head.  I do know enough to not talk out loud.  That would just be weird. 

The big surprise came in the fact that my numbers two and three were tied.  Garry didn't mention anything about being trilingual.  Not even in an appendix.  And I never would have thought that words of affirmation were my thing.  My dry sense of humor often comes across in the opposite polarity.  And yet as I contemplated this a light came on as to why biting remarks really hit me harder than I try to let on, and a few kind words can really make my day.

So what is the take home lesson besides the fact that my social life is less refined than Charlie Sheen's sense of reality?  Perhaps don't be too certain you know yourself.  Read a good book if you want to improve your self awareness.  And eat your vegetables.  That's always a good take home lesson.