"You gonna get another job?"...


Zombie Hunter
Stress makes me want to shut down. Even relatively benign stress. Especially when I'm doing something unpleasant.

Never had a property appraised before so I had no idea how it unfolds. Lady took measurements of the exterior and a picture of each of the interior rooms. She did some stuff in the basement but I didn't want to follow her around the whole time. Asked a few questions which revealed that she hadn't considered the new bedroom a bedroom so she went back to measure it and confirm it met the dimensions for a bedroom. I'm pretty sure I looked into that before I built it, but she didn't say one way or another after she was done. She said she didn't need to go see any of the outbuildings or the grounds. So now I wait to hear back.

I've got 20 minutes in which to be productive before lunch--and about 20 minutes worth of productive work I could do. But instead I kind of just want to screw off or veg out or something.


No-one of consequence
Code varies by jurisdiction, but in general a room classified as a "bedroom" MUST have at least one exterior window. For fire safety, IIRC.


Zombie Hunter
In Jefferson County, Kentucky, it has to have (going from memory here):
-A door that separates it from the rest of the house.
-A second exit--doesn't have to be a window and doesn't have to be to the outside, but there must be another way out in case of fire
-Don't remember the verbiage and dimensions, but the gist is that it has to be big enough for a bed. And practically. It can't be 6x3' with an outward opening door. You have to be able to have a bed in the room and still be able to move around in it.
-It does NOT have to have a closet. This is a hazy area and different people will give you different answers. Realtors tend to err on the side of caution and require a closet if they're listing a place. Or say "if it is built before a certain time, bedrooms don't have to have a closet.

Since it is so confused, I just put in a closet. Since a closet isn't required by code, there are obviously no requirements for how big a closet needs to be. Even so, I can comfortably stand inside my new bedroom closet. And since I've built it to look like an 11" deep wardrobe, that's a kind of neat magic trick.*

*There's a triangular bit of drywall in that corner. The "wardrobe" is in front of it. The "wardrobe" is up on feet with no back and a hole in the drywall. So you can open the "wardrobe" (which is hinged so the door faces the rest of the room), look surprised, step into it, and close the door behind you. I could expand the illusion by putting a false back on the wardrobe, but that would interfere with the more practical installation of a closet bar that goes back into the rest of the closet.


Zombie Hunter
So. "Holiday" party tonight for the local real estate group. I made myself go. Partly because I'm entitled to and partly to be unavailable for my friend I'm working for. If I don't cause him some pain, he's never going to get around to hiring a person in India. At least that's The Plan. Decent night. For entertainment, they brought in some "dueling pianos" act from Chicago.

White lies are important and good. Because the guy who organized the party is a volunteer--working for free. And he was quite proud of his entertainment. So if I ever wind up talking to him, I'm going to congratulate him for putting on a great party. BUT...

They really weren't particularly good. Certainly not worthy of "ALL THE WAY FROM CHICAGO". Especially with a drummer and a guitarist.

A friend of the family was a piano bar guy out in SoCal. Amazing artist. Lived in an RV and never made it big, but he had a piano and would play anything you could think of. These guys had black boxes on the top of their pianos. They could've been monitor speakers, but one of the guys was newer and less experienced and I could tell they were like the screen they have for karaoke that tells you the lyrics (I'm sure these had sheet music too). They also really whiffed on the "dueling pianos" concept. It was really more a "one guy plays piano while the other guy takes a break and accompanies a little bit". And the newer guy had a very weak voice.

I like people to be successful. And I like people to have a good time. So at first I wasn't going to put in a request, but I realized if no one put in requests they'd...I dunno...have to just play whatever they thought we'd like to hear? So I picked a great "dueling pianos" song: Jim Croce's "Bad, Bad LeRoy Brown."

And it was lame.

The noob played it. And he just didn't have the voice for it. And if there was ever a tee-ball set-up for a "dueling pianos" thing, it is "Bad Bad LeRoy Brown." They did nothing with it. The other guy was clearly taking his break and chilling while his buddy was doing the best he could manage. They did manage to do some decent instrumentals, but they certainly didn't murder it the way the should've been able to. Shit. Maybe I should've just been a bastard and put in stuff like BeeGees "More Than a Woman" or Falco's "Der Kommisar" and watched them flounder.


Zombie Hunter
Missed an opportunity today that I now regret. Chatting with my friend in another window during a meeting about some more (yes, more) work that needs to happen. He goes "and now you've got a skill you can charge $75-100 an hour for." And I *should* have immediately said "but I don't *want* to do this skill for any amount of money."

Add in that I've got just enough skill with the software to stumble around and make it clumsily do what I want it to. But none of the other skills that tie in to the software to actually make it useful. And, again, no desire to do business consulting--particularly software and accounting--at this point in my life. So yeah. Kind of like having a chest full of pirate gold on a reef in the middle of the ocean. Useless.

I just want to finish getting my vacant rental ready and rented out, finding another house to fix up and rent out, and then renting out garage space at my place, fixing the remaining things on my to-do list, and starting a garden; maybe having chickens or goats or something. None of which involves creating dashboards in data mining software.


Zombie Hunter
It's fascinating, the blind spots humans have. It doesn't occur to him that something that is so valuable to him is completely worthless to me. It *can't* occur to him. I know I have my own blind spots. Of course I can't know what they are. I might be able to guess at them, but I'd probably get them wrong--or they wouldn't be "blind spots."


Zombie Hunter
Just thought of the perfect metaphor: It's like if my friend had a friend in healthcare who was like "we're really slammed with this Covid and we've got a big prostate screening clinic coming up that I need someone to help out with for the next 1-3 months." And 5 months later, my friend is still giving prostate tests. And also he's picked up how to fill out some forms and take people's temperatures and has to sit in on the hospital meetings. He's had to cut back to 2 days a week on his other job because he's so busy doing prostate tests. And then his friend says "well now you have a skill you can charge $75-100 an hour for."

Because doing prostate screenings meshes so well with his chosen career as an Fortune 500 accountant. And so many hospitals are looking for an accountant with a Master's in Computer Science to fill out forms, take temperatures, and do prostate exams.


Zombie Hunter
Rolling this around in my head this morning. Seemed important then. Now, not so much. But I'm not ready for bed yet so....

The locusts. The whole "Atlas Shrugged" necessity that, as things are going sideways, you've just got to stand aside and let them go sideways until everything's burned to the ground. Illogical. Frustrating and wasteful. Often something gets wrecked so badly it can't be salvaged. Unfortunately the way it often needs to be done.

Venezuela. It wouldn't have been hard to fix Venezuela a decade ago. But the people in power were like "Fuck you, we know what we're doing." So all you can do is go "Oh really? Well carry on then." And now the country's on the verge of cannibalism. Wordforge. The house across the street from me. Funny story, that. I got bogged down on my first rental because I'd also committed to working for my friend. (The first time. "Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice..." But I digress.)

By the time I was ready to buy another rental the market had heated up. There weren't any decent houses in my price range. I did find one. Didn't strictly meet my criteria. But it wasn't horrible. It did have a couple broken windows. And I don't mean like, cracked. I mean, full up, big holes that allowed exposure from the elements into the living room and either the kitchen or a bedroom. Still, I called, asking about it. It was apparently under contract already. But I did my duty and told the Realtor about the windows so he could pass it along to the owner.

As it happened, I wound up buying the house across the street. Better house. Better lot. There was a window that had plexiglass, held in place with blue painter's tape, and a missing one on the porch, but I could address that. Got it. Moved in. Kind of kept an eye on the place across the street.

When the grass would get above 3' or so, someone would come by eventually and chop it down. The windows never did get replaced. Over a year after I first looked at the place, there was a "FOR SALE BY OWNER" sign out front. I suppose I could've called the number, but by then I'd definitely chilled on the property. It was...quirky. And the lot wasn't good. And the house had been open to the weather and wildlife for over a year. I don't want to deal with the kind of headaches that will definitely entail--and the hidden headaches that it could entail (like broken pipes). Looks like someone's doing something with it now and more power to them. Because at this point it was more fucked than I was willing to deal with.


Zombie Hunter
Just need to take a minute to bitch. Friend wanted me to do a 7:30 meeting today because that's the only time he isn't booked. I work at the factory until midnight today but whatever. Just going to do this in chronological order instead of the good bits first.

Got up. Sat in the meeting by myself for 10 minutes until I got a text "Are you going to be in the meeting?" I texted back "I am in the meeting, by myself." His work computer wasn't working so he had to then join the meeting by phone. Which meant it was going to be very productive, showing what needed to get done when you can't see anything.

Got done what we could while he worked on getting the computer up and running. Eventually he did. Then he showed me the stuff he was working on. It was basically the technobabble ready room scene in every episode of Star Trek: TNG, where Geordi says what he's going to do with the deflector dish to beat whatever problem they had in that episode.

It's like "Go to HUE to get a query that pulls up a user's name, their username, and some other thing. Run it in R12 [which is actually called IREDESP or something] to create an Alterxy flow that you can export to Tableau to make a dashboard. It should be pretty simple. Crap. This isn't working. Well, I've got to take my daughter to school. We need this by the end of the month."

Shit, I'm going to have to quit on him. :( Because no matter how many times I say it, he isn't going to get that I don't understand any of this and it hurts my brain and body to force myself to understand it while not giving me any long-term value. Learning how to write SQL queries has absolutely NO value to me once this thing is over. And I want this thing to be over 2 months ago.

He's like "work on the stuff for Clarissa and we'll get back to this at some point." Yeah, right. I'm going back to bed for an hour. Then I'm going to have breakfast and fuck off on the Internet until around 11. Then I'll work on the checklist that is due every month and is needed by the end of the day. Because at 1pm I have to leave to get ready for my real job.


Zombie Hunter
Ugh. The hits just keep on coming. Just got a text from my remaining renter this morning, asking if I'd accept renter's assistance because things are slow at work. His lease is up at the end of February. Other place is still vacant since I haven't had time to work on it because I'm still stuck in this stupid contracting gig for my friend.

In 2013 I was dating a girl. When I mentioned my plan to become a real estate investor, she said I didn't seem like a landlord. I just chalked that up to the tendency people have to be negative about new hopes and dreams, but now I'm wondering if she maybe had a point.

At the end of February my Plan was going nicely. I'd just moved into a place I was fixing up and I had 2 rentals with tenants in them with everything "free and clear" and no debt. I had a part-time job as a buffer and just needed to figure out a way to get, fix up, and rent out a 3rd property before I figured I could quit my job and spend the rest of my time with my aging dog--the target date for that was August.

By the middle of March the dog had died. In June my cat died. In June I also got talked into taking a "1-3 month" contracting gig. By September, my first tenants broke their lease and moved out but as I was moving into Month 4 of my 1-3 month contracting gig, I didn't have any time to turn the place around and get it listed before the holidays. Also, back in March the county came up with a bunch of new regulations for landlords. This morning I got the news my remaining renter is going to have trouble paying rent.

Since I no longer have an aging dog, I'm thinking maybe the old girlfriend was right and I should just sell my 2 rentals, go back to sticking money into the stock market (which is easy and low-risk and I know how to do it) and just look for a real job that I don't hate.


Zombie Hunter
Jesus, I'm so tired. So much of my time is just spent trying to unscrew things stupid people have done. I see the water company got my mailing address wrong for the bill on my vacant rental. Luckily the Post Office (amazingly) figured it out and sent it to "Terry St" instead of "Cherry St". But I digress. My latest annoyance is still not hearing back on the appraisal on my house. So I called. After fighting with technology I got to a human who couldn't get my phone number right and didn't understand what was going on. And while looking up the number I noticed at least 2 significant errors on the application. Still haven't heard back from the plumber who was going to install the line for the gas fireplace on the rental. I'm forced to consider the possibility that I'm either: Dead, like Bruce Willis in "The 6th Sense" or: I am the Lord of Swamp Castle from "Monty Python & the Holy Grail."


No-one of consequence
We just had our tenant in Arizona break their lease and move out. AND there's a leak on the second floor deck that has done damage to the carport ceiling below it. The handyman who takes care of these things for us has not called me back after supposedly being there on Sunday to take care of it. *sigh*


Zombie Hunter
I can't imagine managing a property in another ZIP code, let alone on the other side of the country.

OK. This is going to be a bit whiny and introspective while I work out some stream of consciousness thoughts.

Shit. Should've took a shower before tackling this instead of making another drink and deciding to do this first.

Looks like I'm pretty much up-to-date on everything: One place vacant since mid September that still needs some work before I relist it. Other place, the tenant is asking about rent assistance programs. Roped into a (part time) contracting job I hate that takes up all my time (but pays very well) and will eventually end whilst maintaining another long-term part time job I also hate that doesn't pay near as well. No pets.

Options are:
-Stay the course and continue managing my own rentals,
-Pay someone to manage my rentals
-Sell my properties
*Quit one of my part time jobs so I have more time
*Quit both my part time jobs so I have a lot more time
*Find a full time job I actually enjoy

As an added wrinkle, my neighbor just texted me a beautiful 3 month old Lab mutt pup from the shelter. Finding time to raise a new dog complicates any future plans.

A theme from "Hamlet" is that Hamlet knows what should be done but doesn't want to do it, so he dallies. I know the feeling. Historically, I have been willing to make the unpleasant but necessary decision, but it's never fun to make and I'm sure I waited too long at least once. But I do it. I abandoned Wisconsin because I didn't see a future there. I abandoned Oregon eventually for the same reason. I moved from my (old) Kentucky home because it suited my Plan. Right now I'm thinking at minimum I should quit at least 1 job--although I'm in the middle of getting a HELOC to finance my next rental, should I decide to stay the course on my real estate investing plan, and quitting either job might queer that deal.

In a perfect world, I'd find a full/part time job with the company where I work the factory line; one that is actually in line with my skills and abilities and pays commensurately. But I don't think it hurts me to put in 2 weeks notice and leave on good terms. Meanwhile, it gets harder and harder to justify working for my friend. I understand that he's unable to understand when I tell him "I hate this job, it is making me sick, and I don't have time to do it" so I'm just going to have to be a dick and put my foot down if I want to get out before...whenever. Monday he did a 7:30 meeting to tell me about the new project they need done by the end of the month. I work 8 hours in a factory, ending at Midnight on Mondays. Today he as asking me about the thing he foisted on me and took for granted that was due Monday that I didn't have time to do because of the Monday meeting. That may or may not get done Wednesday. I do have another meeting Wednesday morning about a different urgent project that needs to be done yesterday that no one knew they needed before a month ago, but that's a different problem.

Plus, it is the last day of nice weather in the near future, so I may have to go do exterior work on the vacant rental that can't be done at a later date. And this isn't even getting into getting the oil changed on my car or finding out where I am on the HELOC or finding out when the plumber can put in a gas fireplace on the rental or looking at the pros and cons of accepting rental assistance. And that's just the urgent, can't wait things. There are a ton of boring mundane things that have needed to be done since June that I haven't had time to get to.

Last but certainly not least, professional acquaintences are NOT your friends. Yes, we may all smile at each other and speak pleasantly as we exchange cards and talk about how we can help each other, but some people see you as a valuable peer and some people see you as a gullible walking bag of money. A big tip-off is if they get back to you and say "On a scale of 1-10, how motivated are you to sell your property" and "how little are you willing to take for your property." Go fuck yourself. I didn't just fall off the turnip truck. I've already written off wholesalers. Because they're always looking for ways to screw 2 people at once while getting fat themselves--they want to screw the homeowner with a lowball price and then soak the buyer for a shitty property. 10 times out of 10 you find better deals on the MLS/Zillow/Redfin.

I think that's about it for now.

Oh, no. Pets. Neighbor pinged me with a posting for a 3 month old Lab mutt pupper the shelter has. He's adorable. I literally cried when I saw the text. He'd be perfect if I had 3 rented out properties and no jobs--instead of soon to be (maybe) no rented out properties (out of 2) and 2 jobs. So that's where I increasingly think the thing to do is cut loose from any employers. I've lost almost all of my ability to make decisions and take actions. I've got a fairly fat cushion of cash built up. And I'm ready for a new dog and cat. And a pup would be easier to train to accept the neighbor's horses than even a year old doggo.


Zombie Hunter
For those of you who don't speak "real estate", "What's the lowest you're willing to take/on a scale of 1-10, how motivated are you as a seller" translates to "I'd really like to rape the hell out of your ass. Even better if I can record it and sell it on the Internet. Do you have to wear a mask? Can you cry? Will you pay me to rape your ass?" Fuck you, cocksucker. I know what you're up to.

But because I'm older and wiser, instead of saying that I smile and dance the dance and say "Zillow says it's worth $155K and I think that's fair. I'm about a .05 on a scale of 1-10. Look forward to hearing from you. :) "


Zombie Hunter
Which triggers an old memory. Worked with an entrepreneur on a project during my MBA. Guy basically figured out how to get free market research for his company from the class project. But I digress. The point is, later he approached me about doing a similar project for another company--just me and him, not the Korean econ students from the team. When I expressed my concerns that he lowballed the price, he pointed out since we weren't dragging the deadweight of the Korean econ students, we could get it done much faster and easier. And we'd be "full partners."

Unfortunately, my "full partner" did not include me in the process of forming an LLC. And when he got around to sending me a contract, amazingly, I had all the risks of a partner with all the rewards of an employee. If everything went perfectly, I'd be paid a set amount. If things went sideways I might not make a dime.

I respectfully sent him a counter-offer that was as far in my favor as the one he sent me was in his favor. I hoped we could get to something somewhere in between. Instead all I got was "Sorry we couldn't do business. Best of luck."

I've regretted not being able to fix a bad deal, but I've never regretted walking away from a bad deal.


Zombie Hunter
Stayed up way later than I should've last night. Drank way more than I should've. Then I had to be online an hour early this morning for a meeting. Dragged myself out of bed and fired up the computer in time...to see that it had been cancelled and rescheduled for Monday.


Zombie Hunter
Started taking Thursdays off to:
1) Start getting control over my life again and all the things I've been deferring because of this contracting gig and
2) To start causing some pain and hopefully the realization that this isn't a sustainable situation

And it is a weird feeling, because the meeting that got cancelled this morning got rescheduled for Monday because the organizer (not my friend) actually looked at my calendar and said "well, he's not available Thursday." And my inclination--really until just now even--was to log on anyway and do some stuff because otherwise it won't get done by the deadline. But then I was like "no, that's not my problem. I was up-front about my limitations and my friend didn't want to take that for an answer. He's just going to have to make do with the fact that I'm faking this stuff the best I can and don't actually have time even if I knew what I was doing and if I miss his deadline that isn't my problem." Anyway, what's he going to do, fire me? I *want* that; didn't want the job in the first place. Yes, the money has been nice. And there have been some enjoyable moments. But this has never been something I wanted to do, really. So shanghaiing me into it because he's in a staffing crunch is kind of lose-lose all around.

Meh. I guess it's a "better than nothing" option. He'd have been hopelessly screwed without me to at least take up some of the load. And that's always been kind of my "thing" in life--help out where you can, as well as you can. Maybe you can't do as well as, say, a doctor, but at least you can keep the patient from bleeding out until an actual doctor can take over.


Zombie Hunter
Fox's Day Off...Not as exciting or cool as Ferris Bueller's, but OK. First thing...well first thing was sleep in and then have coffee and breakfast while fucking off on The Internet. But THEN, I made a list of everything that needed doing. This list kept growing as I was brushing my teeth and getting dressed and shit. Got the barest minimum of things done off it, but most of what NEEDED to be done.

Did dishes. That's neither here nor there, but they needed to be done and I had time so I did them. My HELOC got approved, so I need to come down and do the closing some time. Car needed an oil change so I brought the loan paperwork with me--along with "1984," which I'm rereading. Didn't even make it through the loan paperwork before the car was ready. But first they dragged me back to the bay to show me the air cleaner compartment, which a mouse had apparently been using as a lair. The Dog used to be the scourge of all rodents and other varmints. As she got older, squirrels were tolerated, as they were too fast and cunning to catch, but I didn't have problems with moles, mice, or groundhogs. If they were about, she hunted them down and killed them. And they could smell her so they didn't come about. Well after she died, I started seeing evidence of them. Trapped one under the kitchen sink. Didn't worry too much about the shed, because after all, what harm could they cause there? Lesson learned. Trap set. Also cleaned out the gutters for leaves.

But back to the loan. I've managed to avoid loans since about...2001 or so. And the more I read about the loan, the less happy I was. I also started doing some cocktail napkin math. Assuming 7% ROI from the stock market (which is reasonable IMO) selling my rentals and buying a no-load index fund would generate about the same income as renting houses (after taking out insurance and taxes and maintenance)--without the headache of dealing with renters. Of course this wasn't at all a fair comparison. Because I was comparing appreciation to income. A 7% ROI means my stocks should appreciate in value by that amount each year. The actual dividends would be more in the $5,000 range (just pulling a number out of my butt). Meanwhile the same money invested in real estate would generate the income comparable to stock appreciation--while itself appreciating at a much faster rate than stocks will.

So I'll likely stick to The Plan.

And I need to get a pet that will hunt out and drive off mice sooner rather than later.


Zombie Hunter
And I'm back to mourning my dog. Gotta post this here because I feel the FB crowd has to be getting tired of my whining.

I mostly turned the corner and am able to think of her in happy memories and accepting that she had a good run and lived it to its fullest but still...

Thinking about the move. And changes. When she was young she used to ride shotgun in the car. And she'd get in the driver's seat when I'd leave her to go shopping or whatever. She used to sit in my easy chair. After her back injury, she preferred the back seat of the car and the couch. For some reason she didn't like the floor of the living room of the new place. She got up on the guest bedroom futon once or twice and came into the bedroom a couple times, but mostly she stuck to the...what is now the 3rd bedroom. And the dog bed.

I've had a throw pillow for...geez, since before 1999. It's made to look like it has a removable cover that is washable--a false seam with 3 buttons sewn on it. Strictly for show, but it looks nice and home. Well she had a routine when settling onto the couch. She'd make her approach and leap up onto it. Then she'd walk over to the pillow and flip it down with her paw, so the buttons were facing down and she had something smooth to rest her head on. After The Cat got her required evening 5 minute brushing, I'd go over and pet her a bit. And tonight, after a few cocktails, I could see her laying there, settled in for the evening. Went over, plunked down on the floor, flipped the pillow down, and sobbed while I petted the empty space where she would've been laying.


That's my big disappointment right now. Almost 12 years is a decent run for a part Lab mutt who relished fighting groundhogs and other varmints, but I wanted 15; at least another year or two. Last February I had a great plan. I had a new house for The Cat and The Dog to spend their golden years in. I'd rented out a couple places to people I trusted, and I had a part-time job for a buffer of cash, with a plan to get a loan and buy another rental that would allow me to stop working in August.

Then The Dog died. Then The Cat. Then, instead of quitting my job, I added a second job. Then my first tenant moved out. Now my other tenant is telling me money is tight. The lease comes due at the end of February and I'm inclined to not renew it. So basically, everything I had lined up 9 months ago has gone to shit.

When I used to be Young, playing computer games like Sid Meier's "Civilization" I'd curse and bitch about how, just about the time you had everything the way you wanted it, the game would throw you a curveball that would screw up your plans and force you to have to be a dick and a monster. And I complained about how the computer cheated. But 20+ years later, I realize that's EXACTLY how Life works. You start feeling pleased with yourself and comfortable and Life looks down and goes "Oh, that's what you thought? Well have you planned for this?"

No. No Life. I have not. Go fuck yourself with a rusty chainsaw, you sick bastard.

Again, not planning on doing it, but I totally understand the option Ernest Hemingway and Hunter S. Thompson took: "Well, fuck it. This is as good as it gets. It's all downhill from here, however long that takes." BLAMMO.