Dec 292005
 

So I spent a good deal of time today arranging a refinance of my home. I’m rolling my first and second mortgage into one loan, and also putting the financing that I did for the windows and the air conditioner into it. Unfortunately, I’m not saving a hell of a lot of money. About $150 a month. Why?

Well, my credit seems to have taken a crapper recently. One of the reasons? The second mortgage and the windows were both financed through American General Finance, which I have come to find out is bad for your credit rating.

Yeah, that’s right. Going through a finance company and not a bank hurts your credit.

I’ve also got far too many credit cards open right now. I guess 3 is the magic number you’re supposed to shoot for there?

One of the nice things about the company I’m refinancing through, though, is that they refinance again for free if you go through them. SO, the plan is to spend the majority of this year making sure that all of my payments are made on time, and eliminating some of the credit cards from my wallet. This will allow me to get out of the cruddy “you have bad credit” finance and into a more reasonable interest rate program. Maybe even one of those “interest only” loans that will allow me to pay directly on to my principal in amounts that suit my financial situation from month to month.

Ugh. You know, as easy as this has been (and it’s been VERY easy), doing this kind of thing still gives me a headache.

Dec 282005
 

So for Christmas this year, netgoth got me a Cuisinart Bread Machine. This was definitely a big “squee” gift for me, as I’ve wanted a bread machine for years. After reading the instruction manual thoroughly, I went to the store and got a few ingredients that I didn’t have handy around the house (they make a special flour for bread???), and set out on my new doughy adventure.

Experiment #1 involved a pre-packaged bread mix from Krusteaz – Italian Herb Bread Mix. What tripped me up on this was deciding the proper cooking time. The instructions were for 1 pound or 1 and 1/2 to 2 pound bread machines, so when I set the timer I used the 2 pound option. I think that was my big mistake. It was quite overcooked, almost burnt in places. It also didn’t rise properly. I think this may have been a result of using water that was either too hot or too cold. Even the parts that were not overcooked (the center) had an odd taste to them, though, and didn’t go really well with the olive oil I was dipping it in. Call this one a failure.

Experiment #2 was a Chocolate-Cinnamon Bread recipe that I found on the Fleischmann’s Yeast web site. I must say the results were much better. Got a decent rise out of the bread, and it wasn’t overcooked. I think the recipe itself was a bit lacking, though. The boys seemed to like it, but to me it wasn’t really sweet enough (for a dessert bread). Mind you, I didn’t make the glaze to put over it because I figured that it was going to be “bad” enough on the waist as it was.

So, to date, less than stellar results…but I think that will improve in time. As far as ease of use goes, though, this thing is GREAT. Hooray for kitchen toys!

Dec 252005
 

I called my Mother yesterday, asking her if she had a copy of my birth certificate. I couldn’t find the one I had, and I need it for Goth Cruise. She said she had it in my folder, and figured it was time to go ahead and give me the whole thing.

Not only is my birth certificate in it, but so were report cards…old ID cards…photos…

And letters

Christmas letters, to be exact. Letters my Grandmother wrote every year, and which my Mother started writing after she died.

I just got finished reading little snippets of my entire life up until now.

I have a lot of emotions going through my head. One thing that strikes me, though…

My grandmother…understood me. Very, very well.

I had no idea.

But she…she knew. Knew what was going through my head. Saw me getting bored with school long before it happened. Saw the potential I had for being overweight. She…

Jesus.

She knew me so well…and I can’t say the same for her. Most of my memories of her are of a bitter, sometimes mean, old woman who was dying from cancer.

And yet…Think about it, Mike. How could a woman like that have been responsible for someone like your Mother?

Dammit.

This was the most amazing, and completely unintended, gift I could have gotten. But I can’t decide whether it’s made me happy or miserable.

The party was a smashing success.

Thank you to all who came, and to all who couldn’t…We hope to see you next year.

Merry Christmas, my friends.

Dec 202005
 

I have on very simple request to make for 2006.

I don’t want to go to any funerals.

It’s a small request, I think. Just…nobody die next year, ok?

I need a break.

Dec 182005
 

Chistmas Eve party at our place at 8PM on December 24th! Pretty much an open house, so feel free to stop by any time after that. Just let us know if you’re coming.