The Flag is Not a Decoration

A news story out of Colorado recently made the rounds on social media, along with the requisite outraged comments. The gist of it was simple: an apartment complex had asked a resident to comply with their appearance guidelines, which prohibited the hanging of flags from balcony railings. The resident thought it was outrageous that the complex dared to tell him that, given that the flag he had up was an American flag.

The apartment complex ultimately caved to social pressure, and that left me rolling my eyes.

Polls show that the vast majority of Americans consider flying the flag to be patriotic. I don’t disagree with this opinion. However, given the sheer over-use of the flag as a decoration — often in ways that are a direct violation of the flag code — I do, in fact, disagree with any absolute insistence on flying the flag.

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The Joys of Homeownership, Part 1

One of the nice things about closing a mortgage after the 15th of a month is that your first payment isn’t due until the first of the following month. (This isn’t free; it involves adding pre-payment of a partial month of interest to your closing costs.) In other words, you can live in the property for 4-6 weeks before having to come up with the first payment.

Many homeowners find this useful, since coming up with the cash for down payment and closing costs means taking a serious bite out of your savings. In addition, it frees up a bit of cash during that first month for any expenses related to moving in.

In my case, I had known that my condo’s hot water heater was on its last legs — it came up during the inspection and was part of the sale negotiations — and would need to be replaced fairly soon after moving in. But it worked during the inspection, so I’d figured it would wait a short time, at least, so that I’d have time to get myself settled.

The night after I moved in, I decided to take a nice, hot shower in my nice, new-to-me master bathroom. So I undressed, laid out some towels, and turned on the taps to wait for the hot water to start flowing.

And waited. And waited. And waited. There was no hot water.

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Recommendation: Kathy Morgan

I briefly linked to Kathy Morgan‘s web site yesterday when describing my home purchase story. Kathy is actually half of the Lyons-Morgan Team with RE/MAX of Georgia. I connected with the team via Redfin last fall; my first contacts were with Tina Lyons, but by the time I got to the serious stage in February of this past year, they’d reorganized their business model a little bit and Kathy picked up my account.

Some of you may remember that I never specified my agent’s name after my 2010 home search. That’s because, while he did his job, he made a point of mentioning more than once that he didn’t usually work in my price range and that he was only representing me as a favor to a friend. He also dismissed a number of my questions and took a very paternalistic approach, which is something I didn’t appreciate. While I have no actual complaints, after we closed the sale I never named him because I didn’t intend to work with him again.

Kathy’s name, on the other hand, is one I’ll gladly trumpet to the roof tops. Not once did I ever feel like I was a “lesser” client simply because I was in a low price range; and she was respectful of my stated preference for a firm-but-fair negotiating strategy. Further, she never once objected to my hands-on approach, preference for finding my own service providers for things like the inspection, or many questions and concerns. If she didn’t have an answer, she got me one. When I reached out, she was either available or made an effort to be relatively quickly. When she wasn’t, she kept her partner appraised of my situation so that the service was seamless.

My case and needs weren’t complex, but the bumps in the road that I mentioned yesterday mean that I also wasn’t the easiest of clients; she had to do a good bit of negotiating work to do things like get the seller to wait out a mortgage snarl. But she hung right in there with me, even toward the end of the process when my temper started fraying.

There’s no way I would have managed to get through without her, and this time around, I’m happy to give a recommendation. If you’re looking in the Northeast Atlanta Metro, reach out to Kathy. You won’t be disappointed.

I Bought a Condo!

This won’t come as news for those of you who have been following me on social media over the past few months, as it’s been something that’s consumed a lot of my energy and discussion. I first started thinking seriously about it last fall, and made the decision itself in late January. But there were a lot of things needing to be settled and even more hoops to jump through, which means that it has taken me longer than most. In the end, though, the stars aligned, everything came together, and I can finally make the announcement:

I bought a condominium!

That’s right, folks; I’m a home owner again. It was one heck of a bumpy road, though.

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The Importance of Routine

This week’s personal development theme for my life is re-establishing the routine.

That’s not a particularly popular or interesting thing to do. We, as a society, are often dismissive or derisive about the idea of routines: they’re boring. They’re predictable. They’re for people who can’t adapt to the unexpected, whose lives aren’t worth mentioning because they’re primarily run on autopilot.

I’m not going to say that I don’t agree with those assertions, because there’s a part of me that does. But I’m going to beg to differ with respect to the idea that routine is always bad. For some people, they may be. For me, and many others, they are not.

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No More Bitten Nails

I don’t remember a time when I didn’t bite my nails.

Because of that, I’ve never been able to figure out why I do it; and because of that, I’ve never had a whole lot of success in kicking the habit. The only thing I’d figured out over thirty-plus years of doing it, is that it’s at least partially psychological. Put another way: when I decided that “if you love me, you love my bit nails,” things got a lot better. But even then, I never could quite manage to stop.

And believe me, I’d tried it all: bitter-tasting polish, sitting on my hands, finding something else to keep them busy, even wearing socks at night when I discovered that I apparently bite my nails in my sleep. After a while, I simply gave up and figured that I’d just have to deal with the side effects for the rest of my life.

I settled for just keeping my hands and nails clean, and tried to look on the bright side: at least I didn’t spend money on nail polish and manicures. I hadn’t worn colored polish since I was a pre-teen, and I’d never had a professional manicure.

And then, this past December, I got an offer for a free one. What the heck, I thought. It might be fun.

I had no idea what was about to happen next.

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Not These Bridges

Due to prior commitments, I wasn’t able to make it to the meeting that unveiled the five options for the new Peachtree Parkway Pedestrian Bridge, but a recent article in the AJC included pictures of the options.

Understand: I’m thrilled about the idea of the pedestrian bridge and its associated Town Center area. I enjoy living in Peachtree Corners, but it has always bothered me that the current “town center” is strictly a retail establishment. There’s nothing wrong with The Forum, but a true city is about more than just shopping — and this small city has more to offer than high-end homes and boutiques.

But these bridges aren’t what I had in mind.

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Don’t Wait Until You Need Disability

The lady on the other end of the phone had started crying, and while long practice — and no little amount of experience — kept me in “professional” mode, inside I was crying with her. I didn’t want to deliver the news I just had, but avoiding it or lying about it wouldn’t have done either of us any good. I’d settled for being as gentle as I could.

“I don’t know what to do,” she finally said. “I can’t work while I’m on chemo. I’ll be too sick. And I can’t not go get the chemo. It’s cancer. But how am I supposed to pay my bills when I’m not working, if I don’t have any disability income?”

She could buy disability coverage, I’d explained to her a few minutes before, but it wouldn’t cover any upcoming absences for the cancer diagnosis she’d just received because that would be considered a pre-existing condition. She’d have to wait at least a year to receive benefits for the cancer-related absences.

And both of us knew she couldn’t wait a year to get the chemotherapy.

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Red Herring

It hasn’t been easy to be proud of being from North Carolina lately.

Thanks to the recently-passed HB2, the state has become a battleground for Transgender rights (and LGBT rights in general). The much-publicized decision by Bruce Springsteen to cancel a concert in Greensboro has been highly praised as a bold statement about the law and about LGBT rights.

The problem is that Springsteen and others are reacting to, and thereby promoting, a red herring. HB2 isn’t about LGBT rights.

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Featured Furkid: Queso

Please note: I am not an official representative of Furkids. I’m just a volunteer who cares and who happens to have a blog.

She’d been dumped on a doorstep with two companions in the middle of the night, and all three of them were scared to death. Where were they? What was going to happen now?

What she didn’t know is that she’d been dumped at Furkids, Georgia’s largest no-kill animal shelter. Dumping animals is against the law in Georgia and Furkids’ shelter was full, but the group also has a foster network and one of the foster mothers was able to find room.

The three were petrified, and the foster mother was worried. She had no information about these cats beyond their initial veterinary assessments. Eventually, though, they began coming out of their shell.

Queso was the first to make a connection and settle in; as such, she was the first of the three to make an appearance at the store-based adoption center where I volunteer.

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Introducing the Featured Furkids

A few years back, I tentatively started volunteering at the Furkids cat shelter. Things happened, I couldn’t manage to get my schedule to work out, and I faded from the volunteer roster after a couple of months.

But Furkids wasn’t going to go away quite so easily. One day I was getting my oil changed and walked over to the strip mall next door while I was waiting. That was when I discovered that they had a thrift store within walking distance of where I lived. I begin patronizing it on a regular basis.

About a year ago, I begin finding myself with a lot of time on my hands and, on a whim, hit the Furkids web site. That was when I learned that it had grown by creating Sadie’s Place, a shelter for small dogs, in addition to becoming Georgia’s largest animal rescue and no-kill shelter. In addition, they’d taken over numerous adoption centers throughout metro Atlanta. One of the most recent was at the PetSmart in Norcross, which I go past on a regular basis, and they badly needed volunteers for that location.

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*tap tap* Is this thing on?

Wow. I’ve really let the cobwebs gather on this thing.

That’s a shame, actually, because I’m really rather happy with the way my blog — and, indeed, my site in general — are set up. And, for a while, I really was maintaining the blog, so I know it’s not that I’m not capable of doing so.

I think I just got distracted.

Well, time to un-distract myself, then, because to be honest, I’ve gotten out of the habit of writing altogether, and that is not a good thing. I’ve begun by doing a very minor revamp on the site menu; it’s now a little more interactive and allows for more top-level movement.

The next move will be to generate content. To that end, I’ve already added categories and similar items.

Now I just need to fill them up.