Archive for December, 2008

Christmas Lights Interfere with Wii

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

Hey just letting people know in case this happened to you.

We tried to play our Wii on Xmas, and the remotes were acting strangely. They were jittery, and the system seemed to have no idea what we were doing.

At first, we tried to change the "sensitivity" in the settings area. That didn't help. But it sure made up throw a lot of straight bowling balls!

Then I thought maybe something was reflecting on the hard wood floors that was throwing off the sensor.

It turned out to be the Xmas lights we had strung along the piece of furniture on which our TV sits. The remote sensor seemed to be picking up the lights as if they were remotes. I can't really explain it, and I don't know how the sensor picks up what the remotes do.

I can only say that turning off the Xmas lights made the Wii and remotes totally fine. We turned the sensitivity back up, bowled horribly, but accurately.

Now you know! :)


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Games Landlords Play, Part 2

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

I recently had some odd dealings with some landlords, so I want to warn people so that these problems don't happen to you.

Video Killed the Security Deposit Monster

When I move into a new place, whether or not they want me to fill out a form about the condition, I video the place. I take a tour. I note problems with lighting, plumbing, and the obvious like carpet damage, wall damage, paint damage, etc… I note the condition of things because I don't want them to later claim that I caused that damage. I want video proof that the place was given to me in that condition. That can save the day!

But recently, a landlord tried to get one up on me, and what they are doing is so dirty, I want to make sure everybody knows. It's legal! But it's still dirty. As my lawyer says, there's legal, and there's moral. :)

This landlord is trying to tell me that they may bill me for dust on the blinds. I said the blinds were dusty when we moved in. They said if it's not in their move-in inspection form (and not on my video), then I must have caused it, and they can keep my security deposit to fix it.

They told me that when their lease said that we change the air filter, they didn't just mean the one in the main air conditioning/heating unit, which I had been changing. They actually meant EVERY air filter. They expected me on a ladder in the bedroom to either change the filter or install one if one isn't there for the air system's INTAKE. And ready for this? They expected me to change the filter in the vent over the stove.

They wanted to keep security deposit for a stain that was in the oven before we moved in… but I didn't note the inside of the oven in the miscellaneous area of my move-in form, so I must have made that stain.

They wanted to bill me back to change the light bulb over the stove. Luckily, my move-in video DID show that light didn't work when I got the place. But I was spending so much time video'ing the condition of carpets, walls, and paint that I didn't video the things they wanted to use to keep my deposit.

They wanted to bill me back for a table that an artist had tiled badly, and was falling apart without us touching it. I tried to tell them this was put together by an artist, not a professional contractor, and gravity is winning. They're trying to say it was tenant negligence.

They wanted to bill me back for where some grout had come up between kitchen tiles. I assumed they knew about that when I moved in, but they're claiming that if I didn't note it in my move-in inspection, then I did it.

The Lesson?

Video everything. Open the toilet. Flush it. Run your fingers on the blinds and show if they're dusty. Open the oven and video stains. Open the fridge and video that. Turn every light on, and video if anything goes on. They want to bill me for bulbs that are out in lights I didn't know existed because I turned on a switch, and nothing seemed to happen… I thought the switch did nothing. So turn on a switch, and video a light going on OR nothing happening.

Video the condition of the tub and its caulk. Video patios, balconies, everything. Video for a half hour. Remember that 1 minute of video could save you HUNDREDS in some bogus claim your landlord could make when it's time to get your security deposit back. You will NOT be glad you skipped anything when the landlord tries to find what you missed in your video.

Don't let this happen to you. In this economy, you need your security deposit back, and they're going to want every dime of it they can get. And depending on how the lease reads, they can do this stuff! They can keep money claiming just about anything. A good landlord is not going to pull this on you. A malicious person is going to pull anything he or she can, and you need to protect yourself against that person.

Better to have a video and not need it than to need it and not have it, or not have recorded the areas you needed.


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Games Landlords Play

Monday, December 29th, 2008

I've seen some stinky things happening to tenants lately, and I wanted to give some tips to make sure that anybody who reads this has the upper hand next time!

Having The Right Paperwork

Your security deposit is in case you leave the place in bad condition, right? Well, recently, my heart broke when a friend of mine told me she had given a landlord a security deposit to HOLD the apartment. They were going to work out the lease later. They didn't have any signed paperwork at the time my friend gave this woman a check.

Ten days later, my friend decided to NOT take this apartment, and wanted her security deposit back. My friend was thinking no lease, no apartment she can leave in bad condition, no reason for this woman to keep her money. The woman kept her entire security deposit. An excuse I've heard from landlords I've spoken to is that because they took the apartment off the market, they lost money, and since you didn't end up renting it, they get to keep your money.

To make sure this doesn't happen to you, don't give anybody money without both signing some sort of paperwork. Anything you write in the MEMO area of your check may not be enough. You can create a document that simply says Jim Jones is giving Jane Smith $2000 as security deposit to hold an apartment (write out the address and apartment number). If Jim moves in on (date), Jane will keep this as a fully-refundable security deposit, pursuant to the terms of the lease. If Jim does not move in by (date), he will forfeit $500. Jane will return $1500 by check within one week of Jim letting her know that he will not be taking the apartment.

Expect the landlord to want to keep SOMETHING. But make sure the paperwork says what happens in BOTH situations… both you taking the place and you NOT taking the place.

I'm not a lawyer, so check with your lawyer on this one. But don't give anybody money without proper paperwork on the terms of that relationship!

Tomorrow is part 2 of how to not get taken by your landlord! Stay tuned.


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Boston vs. Tucson

Friday, December 26th, 2008

After nearly 4 years in the southwest, I just moved from Tucson, AZ to the Boston area. How do these two places compare? :)

  • I'm surprised that some things in Boston cost less than they did in Tucson. This seems to be because of competition. For example, my cable bill will actually be lower in Boston for the same services/channels.
  • The weather. Tucson is the Sonoran Desert, and used to be Mexico. Boston is so cold and snowy, I had forgotten that exists. I arrived here to immediately be snowed in. I've never seen weather in Tucson so bad that people didn't leave their homes… unless you lived on a ranch, and your closest unpaved road flooded in one of the monsoons.
  • People. Not as many smiling faces in Boston, but hopefully I'll find my community of friendly people. :)
  • We can get around! In Tucson, we lived miles from anything. It was very remote (by my choice). Here, we are close to some shops as well as busses, and we're not far from some T stations (aka the subway). So we should be driving less, which is good because…
  • My car's mpg is DYING here. In Tucson, many streets have speed limits of 45-55. You can easily drive that speed (or higher) since the population is spare enough that there's rarely any traffic. Here in Boston, I must be mostly driving 25 or 30. My car was getting over 24 mpg in Tucson, and is getting around 18 mpg here. :(
  • Stuff to do! There is stuff to do here. That's why we moved. Tucson doesn't have a lot to do, which was why I originally picked it, so I loved it for that. But my husband likes having a life :) and things to do, so we wanted a major city.
  • Noise. I hear road traffic and some sirens. Imagine that. In Tucson, I mostly heard wind, birds, and howling coyotes.
  • Moisture. When I said Tucson was dry, I mean dry. Spill water, and it evaporates fairly soon. Come out of the shower, and you're hair's already half dry. Hang up your shower towel, and it's dry in an hour. You know what else that means? Garbage isn't smelly because it desiccates nearly immediately. I couldn't figure out why my kitchen garbage was so smelly until I realised that it was probably just moist and brewing.
  • The view. I have a view of a laundromat, which I hope to go to at some point. :) In Tucson, I had panoramic views of two mountain ranges, giant night skies full of bright stars, and deep blue skies during the day. The sun was sunny, and actually warmed you, even if it were cold outside.

So there you go. If you're looking for lower cost of living for most things, isolation, great weather, and great sights, you want Tucson! :)


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Social Graces

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

I don't need people to validate me or support me. I don't need to hear nice things from people. I don't hang my happiness on what other people think of me or things I do.

But I'm surprised at how many friends, strangers, and colleagues are comfy openly saying negative things about my recent move from Tucson, AZ to the Boston area. Yeah it's cold here in Boston. Thanks for letting me know about that. :)

You'd think that maybe people who don't feel totally positive might ask me a question… or might say something neutral and non-committal, like "wow that's a big move – hope it works out."

I'm really surprised at how many people are basically flat out telling me I'm making the wrong move, or the move is at the wrong time. You have no idea how hard this has been, and I guess given the choice, I'd like to hear something neutral if you can't squeak out a positive comment at this time.

Even total strangers have been like, "Why the hell would you move to Boston?" Thanks, total stranger. That feels great right now!

I left all my friends and community to move to a place that immediately got 18" of snow. My car is snowed in, and I can't get out to buy food. So given the choice, I'd like to hear something NOT negative right now.

Thanks.


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Should I Sue eHarmony?

Monday, December 15th, 2008

I recently read this article about a gay man who sued eHarmony so that they would include the option of matching gay people with each other.

I tried eHarmony in early 2005. I didn't expect to find love, but I figured if it's really THAT good at matching people, it can at least find me a few friends that might have a lot in common, right? So I filled out the long questionnaire seriously. Lots of questions about church, and I'm not religious, so those were lots of "not important" on all those scales. As eHarmony is known for being fairly "Christian," I can imagine the servers starting to smoke. :)

The interesting thing was that there were some questions about children. I don't have children, I don't want children, and I don't want to raise someone else's children. I answered those honestly. I did NOT want to be matched up with men who had children or wanted children. That was going to be a BIG waste of "romantic" time for any Dads and wanna-be Dads!

I've always advised friends that there are two things that are unlikely to change in a relationship no matter how much counselling you get or how much you try to twist yourself into a co-dependent pretzel for the other person: religion and children. Not everybody is willing to give up or change a religion. Not everybody is willing to have/want kids or eliminate kids from their future just for someone else. So I always say you might disagree on some world views or rock bands or mountains vs ocean, but make sure you match up on kids and religion, especially what religion for the kids. :)

Nearly every single person they matched me up with had children or wanted children. I didn't understand. Seemed like nice guys. I had to turn them all down in that first stage of eHarmony, which is the "I don't even want to take the first step to get to know them better" stage. I emailed eHarmony asking why they matched me up with these people when we could NEVER be a match. They told me I must have matched these people in so many other areas that the computer put us together anyway.

Um, any other answers I gave that you decided to ignore to match me up with people??!?!?!

So should I sue eHarmony? Should I tell them their site was hurtful and annoying because it didn't give me good options and matches, and seemed to only be aimed at people who had kids and wanted kids?

To me, the answer is just to avoid eHarmony. If eHarmony adds matching gay people in their system, and it matches couples well, then good. But once you are matching me with SUCH the wrong people, and ignoring answers I gave that I guess the system was designed to potentially ignore, then you've shown me that this is the wrong site to get connected with anybody.

Any system that is coded to ignore the answers given on how important children are in your life is the wrong system for me. I'll cut them some slack and not sue. :)


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Pls Help Me Find A Rental!

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

I am turning to my tribe for help. I'm in the process of moving from
Tucson to Boston. Had an apartment picked out online. They just called
to say they didn't want to hold it for me anymore, and they claimed
they had someone JUST walk in and take the apartment. Not sure I believe them, but as I wasn't really enjoying dealing with them anyway, this goes in the "everything happens for a reason" file.

So I am driving
to Boston in a moving truck with everything I own, and have no place
lined up to live.

If anybody knows anybody or has any ideas, please let me know! I'll be
checking email tonight once I can get another 300 miles out of the way.
Here is what we are looking for:

* At least 2 BR, preferably 3 or more

* Preferably 2 bathrooms or more

* Allows an indoor cat and a small, friendly dog. It's just me and my
husband, no kids. I've been renting for 12 years, and have a zillion
references to prove that our pets don't cause damage.

* Any type of rental… single family house, part of a house, townhouse, condo, apartment complex

* Can be a bit outside of the city, but not too far. We are trying to
get a good walkscore.com on it, and have it be a reasonable walk to a T
stop. We don't want to have commuter rail as our closest mass transit.
I want my husband to walk out of here, and be right in some LIFE or
just a few blocks away from cafes, things to do, places to go, and the
T.

* Decent and safe. :)

My budget is only around $2K/mo, which ain't much for the big city. But in this economy, that's all I can do, and would like to do less.

Thanks to anybody who can help us find a rental ASAP. :)


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Proposition 8 Musical

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

This is a musical about Proposition 8, and it's FULL of celebrities. It's darn funny if you ask me.

But hey, this musical has an interesting point, sung by Jack Black as Jesus. :) If people are against gay marriage because the Bible says so, then why aren't those people doing EVERYTHING the Bible says to do or not do? Why aren't those same people…

  • Keeping kosher? No shellfish. No meat with dairy (u can not haz cheeseburger).
  • Sacrificing animals?
  • Selling people into slavery?
  • Giving 10% of income to the house of worship?
  • Avoiding wearing clothes made of more than one type of fabric?
  • Murdering people who commit adultery?
  • Avoiding swearing and taking a certain name in vain?
  • Avoiding making, wearing, or having anything that is an image of God? 2nd commandment says this quite clearly.
  • Keeping Shabbat?

I'm not telling people to do these things or not do these things. But the Bible says to do these things.

As this musical says, if you're following the Bible as God's word, why not follow all of it? And if you're going to pick and choose which things you follow and which you've decided are no longer the word of God somehow, then how do you know which to choose? Nobody edited them out of the book! They're still there, and it still says to do certain things and not do certain things.

No matter what you believe, no matter what religion you are, I think it's an interesting point.


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Where In the USA is Deb?

Friday, December 12th, 2008

Thanks to some blog writing I do ahead of time, you wouldn't know that most of this week has been spent driving a moving truck across the country. Yes, the lovely husband and I (and super pets) are moving from Tucson, AZ to the Boston area.

I love Tucson! But it's not the right place for my husband. He's a fantastic musician who I'm sure is just a couple of years away from being a known name in the business. I thought I was a great producer and engineer, but his talents blow me away. He's the kind of guy who can hear something, and know who produced it, probably who mastered it, and things like that. He recognises reverbs that are evidently "typical" of certain producers. He's going to be the hottest new young producer, I just know it.

But he won't make it in Tucson, where there really is no music scene unless you're into mariachi. Our mariachi is probably unrivalled in this country! :) But if you ever look at the touring schedule for some of your favourite bands, you might find Tucson not on the list. Not a lot of acts come through here, and there is just not a lot going on.

So we'll try Boston. I went to college there (Tufts University, graduated in 1993, didn't know Pierre), and I loved the city. He only saw a bit of Boston while we were in town for eBay Live 2007, but I saw his list of what he wants, and I think Boston well matches it.

Before you ask: I hate NYC, and I'm not an LA girl. Those are off the list. :)

But if you're looking for me this week, I'm driving a moving truck, and my husband is driving my/our car. If this is Friday, I hope I'm on schedule, and going through Tennessee. Tonight in VA, tomorrow night in NJ, and then landing in the Boston area on Sunday. Checking out the apartment I chose (online) on Monday, signing a lease if we like it, going to see other places if we don't. But hopefully being totally moved in somewhere this coming week.

Oh, and happy 11th birthday to my super baby girl… Rita, my Jack Russell Terrier, who I've had since she was 7 weeks old. Sorry about the drive, pup!


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eBay Seller of the Day!

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

Our friends at GetItNext.com have something new going… their "Seller of the Day" award! Read about it here:

http://blog.getitnext.com/weblog/2008/11/getitnext-ebay-seller-of-the-day-award-announcement.html

Basically, they're looking for great sellers (who aren't Diamond sellers) that they can declare Seller of the Day. Get some free attention.

:)


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