Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Music Conundrum


Twenty minutes ago I had no idea that an artist I knew about via an excellent side project (L.E.O. and the amazing "Alpacas Orgling" album) had a third solo album that came out late the summer. "Late This Summer" is just within the bounds of being recent enough that I can review it and recoup the expense of purchasing it.

Loading up Amazon I find that I can download the album for $9.49 and have it instantly. Or I can get a used copy of the actual CD, shipped, in a week or so for just under eight bucks.

Pay more money, don't get a physical CD with artwork and liner notes BUT have it instantly and the artist actually gets paid for his work


Pay less money, get more (physical CD) but I have to wait and the guy who created all the (hopefully) musical goodness gets nothing from the deal.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Refinancing Conundrum

We're in the process of having our house refinanced. Doing so would lower our payments about $100 a month and the Magic 8 ball said it would be a good move.

Right now we're in the midst of the appraisal stage. As everyone and their hermit knows home values have dropped since we bought the house nearly five years ago. However we got a very good deal and paid 20% down (to avoid that pesky PMI) and we've been paying a bit extra each month on the principle and home values in our area have been fairly stable so I wasn't concerned.

I should have been.

The appraiser, who spent an unusually long amount of time jockeying her SUV around to get into our driveway, valued the house at $10,000 less than we paid for it. Because there hasn't been much sales activity in our neighborhood in the last she for comparision she used a house two blocks away and two houses FOUR MILES AWAY. HUH? It's not like we live in the country... we're in the city so four miles could be just about anywhere. In this case it was near Rudisill. I mean no disrespect to those living in the Rudisill area and there are many fine, well built, older houses like ours but it's well known that the area is a bit on the urban side. Home values traditionally are quite a bit lower in that part of town so naturally our value got dinged. Seems a bit of common sense would prevail, eh? So its time to file a review / complaint / whatever to see if this can be changed. I've been told not to expect much.

Which would mean having to pay a nice chunk of change at closing NEXT WEEK in order to avoid those nasty PMI fees. We don't have to pay a mortgage payment in January so the amount we need is quite close to our monthly mortgage payment. If closing was in three weeks it'd be no sweat, just take Mortgage Payment A and apply it to Mortgage Prepayment B and everyone is happy. So now I'm looking for a rich uncle to lend me a thousand bucks for two weeks.

The good news is that I can take this OFFICIAL APPRAISAL to the county tax officials and have our taxes adjusted. They only have it inflated by $50,000 or so meaning that in addition to saving money on the mortgage we should also start paying less in property taxes.

What to do with all this money we'll be saving? How about maternity and baby clothes! OH YEAH!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Fuzzy Kitten Warning

The latest head honco at work (who is in charge of daily operations and yet lives many states away and visits this humble city a handful of days per month) decided that our offices are ugly and that we need artwork on the walls. No big surprise there. We received a budget of $3,000 and a couple of employees were approached about using their photographs. These guys are semi-pro photographers and have very nice cameras that take very nice pictures. Plus there's the matter of having the artful eye in creating a pleasing composition for these very nice pictures. The company is going to pay to have the prints professionally framed but when the employees asked how much they would get paid for the use of their photographs, well, shouldn't that all be gratis?

So now we're having a company-wide photo contest! Go out and take pictures of the city (or children and/or kittens... children and/or kittens always score big in photo contests... pretty much anything that looks like it belongs on a 99 cent Walgreen calendar) and submit them. Many will enter, many will win and you'll get to see your artwork all big and blown up in 16X20s on the walls.

Of course these will probably be shot at 8 or 10 megapixels with compact pocket cameras so once they get blown up to poster size there will be noticable grain. Oh, and it's currently winter so every exterior picture will be washed out, colorless and grey unless they are taken during the 18.2 minutes of sunshine during the average north-eastern Indiana January.

I personally think we should also have a picture framing and matte cutting contest. Cut that matte nice and square and you'll get the satisfaction of seeing your matte surrounding an off-center fuzzy photograph of a co-workers childing holding a fuzzy kitten!