Month: June 2011

On The Road Again…

[Editor’s note: This was written in the airport before I left on my flight to Dallas. It got in at shortly after midnight, and I vowed to get up early and work out this morning (after retrieving my rental car, getting lost on the way to the hotel twice, and suffering from insomnia). I did work out, and I did get coffee– offered by my wonderful hotel. I will wait to review it when I have fully sampled the sheer awesomeness that is ZaZa, but I will say it is “Racing Fuel” in the gasoline comparison of hoteliers. Also, their gym made working out this morning fun… even on 5 hours’ sleep.]

 

Once again I am travelling without WiFi, although I sit here in SeaTac where it’s purportedly free. I can only assume someone else is hogging it with videos of kittens yawning, or something, because I can’t seem to get on and stay on. Ergo, I am using my iPhone to work.

Well, to be perfectly honest, I am using my iPhone to work and my laptop to type this in notepad, and maybe, just maybe, I will get internet on the plane (hoo hoo, haa haa!). I am flying to Dallas where I will learn many things, including how a revolutionary sub-section of our organization works. At some point someone sectioned off a group and said, “here’s your demographic. Make it work. And do it with minimal resources.” And… they did.

I get to see how they did it.

This is one of the best parts of my job: figuring out what people do when left to their own devices, and seeing what can be done with the output. It’s entirely possible that their practices are as specific as their organization and *nothing* is scalable. I don’t believe that’s ever really the case though, and there may be things that we can make easier for them. Plus, you know: Texas BBQ, which I hear is off the hook.

So where’s the down side? Well, to start, Texas is 90 bajillion degrees right now, and humid. I now have shorter hair with lots of layers and the curl shows up more. And so, fro. I have packed my 2.4 ounces of hair goo to anti-fro myself but I may end up using it all on day one. Also, this trip happens smack-dab in the midst of “we aren’t selling the house” reorganization and projects (yay!) and Other Big Projects Of Which I Cannot Speak, meaning I’m pretty much in meetings from 6am to 8pm local time. I hope to get out at least one night.

Oh, that’s right: unlike New York, SFO, and Chicago, in Dallas you rent a car, because the climate and age of the city lends itself to wide, clean, beautiful roads. I land at midnight, and even though the airport is devoid of most human life after 8pm (according to my friend Ms. Krieant), I should be the proud driver of a Hertz Economy car (my boss is cool, but not “go ahead and rent the Mustang” cool). This means I’m likely to check into my hotel (to be reviewed later) at 1am, and must alight at 6am to work out and my first meeting is at 8am.

I sincerely hope Starbucks is as ubiquitous there as here. I think I’ll need it. Fun fact: My “Starbucks” expenses equate to 33% of my overall food expenses on a trip (sometimes more). Buy stock.

Cost, Quality, and the Professional

I recently finished a book called “Spend Shift” (note to self, update Goodreads) in which the basic tenet is in the ‘post recession’ USA spending habits have fundamentally changed. This is not to say that Jon Doe is not spending money on things altogether (like, *cough*, travel), but that he is spending more prudently: he will closely evaluate cost vs. star rating, he will check in the amenities to see who offers free breakfast or spa credit. He will leverage sites like Trip Advisor and Kayak, he will check the hotel photos from Expedia to the hotel’s own site. He will once again evaluate the cost, and then make his decision.  Ultimately what helps him decide is how much he trusts the data that he has based his research off of, because that helps him evaluate the quality (subjective) from the cost (objective).

On Saturday I sat myself in my hairdresser’s chair for the fifth time we’ve ever seen each other. She had 4 hours to do whatever she wanted, period. I gave her no limits on cut, color, style, maintenance, etc. I trusted her to know enough through our history and through her training as to what would be best. 

The latter paragraph looks to be a complete non sequitur, but it is not. Allow me to explain:

There is too often the temptation to do-it-yourself or look to the least expensive option when looking at an expenditure.  Do we really need to hire an electrician to move a lightswitch? Well no probably not. Do we need to hire an electrician to go crawling through our attic and reposition seven can lights and rewire our breaker box? Yes. Do you hire the least expensive electrician you can find? No. Why not? Because you don’t want your house to burn down from a short circuit. You are very likely to NOT pick the cheapest electrician, and you are very likely to use subjective data (referrals, ad space, reviews) to help you determine if the electrician is worth their (objective) cost.

At some point you have to trust in the research you’ve done and the professional to do their job. After four previously successful sessions with Kursten and having her do things to my hair that I asked her to — and I have not been to hair school nor would I be good at cutting/designing hair on anyone — I figured it’s about time to let the professional do her job. I realized the cost having been to her before, and decided the cost was worth it; and I had enough personal (subjective) data to feel comfortable in my decision. (By the bye, it looks fantastic).

In short: good decisions are made with attention to both objective and subjective data. Solely the former you’re narrow (and not as likely to enjoy the results), solely the latter you’re foolish (and likely poorer in the pocket).

Real Estate Epitaph

Ok, ok, we all know my house went on the market. Five weeks later it went off, not through any incompetence of my realtors — I got an offer, tho it was not attractive it was an offer — but through a dearth of attractive real estate.

Please, please, if you have a deity or light candles, please pray and/or light because I am getting hounded. Daily.

Roughly twelve times each morning I receive a call to my only real number — my cell phone — from some aspiring realtor who is just all ready to “help me out” because “my old team couldn’t”. It borderlines on harassment, and on Wednesday morning I changed my voicemail greeting to say, “Hi. If  you’re calling about the house at 1108 216th Avenue NE, it’s not for sale, no we don’t want to sell it; we intend to live in it for quite some time. We don’t want any realtor help. So quit calling”.  That seems to have done the trick as I don’t often get repeat calls.

Today, I finally lost it. It was 10:15, and the seventh call of the day came in. I paused the gal in the midst of her sell speech and said, “I am not interested in a realtor. But could you help me? Is there any way I can stop this? Because I’m getting harassed, multiple calls per day, and I need it to stop. I am seriously considering legal action.”

Bless her, she let me know in a very composed fashion that my previous realtors should have made notes in the MLS before closing it out, and that even they can’t change it now, and that I can call the Northwest MLS to have them change it, BUT anyone who’s downloaded my information before today will not have those notes. So in short, deal with it.

In other news today, my brand new boss (today was day 5) confirmed that the word that comes up most often when discussing the Bobbie is… “frank”. Fortunately he’s French, as is my skip level. To realize why this is fortunate, look up the word history of “France” — comes from the same latin root word for “frank”. So if I am not of France, perhaps I’m just french enough in essence. Mas oui.

When next I blog, it will be about less trivial things. I hope.

The End of an Era… or, a few days

My house went on the market May 3. It went off the market — unofficially — today. This was not a good market.

We got an offer. It wasn’t a good offer — anyone on the receiving end of an offer in a buyer’s market knows there is no such thing as a good offer — but it was tolerable. Yes, they asked for $9k off of the price. Yes, they asked for closing costs. Yes, they asked for a short turnaround time. We negotiated all of that out, but their realtor gave the phrase to “PM this shit” whole new meaning. It was not a pleasant experience. I am still walking kind of funny.

But there was nowhere to go. After using software and detailed searches, we whittled down to about 40 houses. We looked, over the last 3-4 weeks, at every single one. Not one was a match. They were either too big, on a too-small lot; they had weird layouts (we nicknamed one the “rabbit warren”), they had updates that needed to be made (and we are not in the market for a project house), NONE seemed a better deal than staying put. As we were in the market for a house another 50% in price over mine, you’d think there would be something: there wasn’t.

People are not selling in this market unless they have to. This is what is weird: you’d think that in a buyer’s market there would be a glut of supply; a seller’s market is a glut of demand. In this case we have a glut of supply but it’s crappy corner lots, busy streets, and desperate folks.

My house is no longer staged. We celebrated one and all by NOT making our beds this morning, and I have a single dish in the sink as an homage to the sort of sloppiness we didn’t really do before staging anyway. I’ve collected all of the non-us staging articles and “staged” them in the entryway for easy retrieval. We’ve begun planning little projects here and there, I have a new idea on how to subvert the deer and grow tulips. We will relax in the comfort and confines of my 1969 rambler for another year, maybe more, and wait for the good stuff to come on the market.

I don’t need Tiffany’s — but I’m not shopping the flea market, either.