Thursday, May 23, 2002

Emerging from the clouds

I'm sure all of you are sitting there thinking "here she goes again, another novel !!!" Yes, I realize that my not-periodic-enough updates are a little difficult to read all in one sitting. I do apologize in advance for any inconvenience this email may cause. Perhaps I should make it into a books-on-tape or something.

I am ecstatic to report that we have confirmed our tickets to Toronto for the end of this month. Like last year, we have planned our summer trip around Scott's yearly car club get-together, picnic and car show. We will be landing at the disgusting hour of 6:25am on Friday, May 31st. Because Scott is only entitled to 1 week of vacation per year, he will be departing at 4:55pm on Monday, June 3rd. I will be staying until 4:55pm Saturday, June 8th. I will send the Toronto folks our schedule so far so we can arrange to hang out. We are looking forward to seeing you all again !!

Just when you thought it was over, I have made another modification to my outward appearance. My hair has always been dark brown at the roots, and a light golden brown at the ends. I have dyed my hair slightly lighter than the color of my ends. In effect, it's the color my hair turns if I've been out in the sun for a number of days on end. Ironically, most of my coworkers haven't noticed. I figure it's either the interior lighting, or the fact that most of them are male and never notice these things anyway. You'll still recognize me, I promise.

It has been a long few months since we returned from Toronto after New Years. I have lost track of how many nights and weekends I have worked since the beginning of the year. Some of my coworkers have worked 16+ hours straight on occasion. In the year and a half I have been with this group, the population has shrunk from 12 to 8 people (all voluntarily of course). It doesn't take a genius to figure out that less people and more work equals lots of late nights. I'm not complaining however; I consider myself lucky to have a good job that I actually enjoy. Some of my friends have been laid off in the last several months, and all of them are having trouble finding work in their fields. One friend of mine, who is a copywriter, is working as a record store manager and a bouncer at a club to make ends meet.

They say that the economy is improving, and that things are looking up. If they are, I don't see it yet. My company is only hiring internally. Lots of valley high-tech talent is still out of work. The ridership on the train I take is up, the traffic is getting a little worse, but I still don't see too much of an improvement. I suppose it will take time, but I hope it is sooner rather than later.

The big news on the job front is that my job responsibilities have changed. I'm still working long hours, but I'm working only on the stuff that I enjoy most. I am blessed.

We recently signed the papers to refinance our house. We first bought the house in December of 2000, at the height of the interest rate boom, and shortly before the full brunt of the recession hit. Because of some great work by Richard, our friend and broker, we were able to lock in at an interest rate 1 1/5 points below our original rate. This alone has resulted in considerable savings in our payments.

You may recall that we bought the house for about $20k less than market value due to its ruined paint and carpeting. Since the recession hit, the market value of our house has gone UP by over $30k. Our current market value, at the lowest low of the recession, is a full $50k more than what we paid for it. As a result, we no longer have to pay mortgage insurance. In total, including rolling the closing costs into the loan amount, we are saving about $250/month on our payments. Not too shabby.

Scott's job is progressing very nicely. His stress level has completely vanished since he started working for this dealership last June. The people there are laid-back, and they honestly believe in good quality work, a view that Scott wholeheartedly shares. I never thought I'd hear him say he was happy at his work, but that is exactly what he is.

The new love of his life is his remote-control monster truck. We initially bought it last fall, and after several engine defects and failures, and many correspondences with the manufacturer, it is now running like a dream. Our friend Valdi has an identical truck (without all the problems I might add), and the two of them often run them together. Half the fun is to drive around and find a construction site with many large hills for jumping and tricks. They both have a blast, however the hobby can become very expensive. At least once every two outings, one of them breaks something, and for a while there, I was afraid that thing would put us in the poorhouse. But Scott is an honest man, and true to his word, he sticks to his monthly allocated truck budget.

In the months since her surgery and subsequent recovery, Tiger is like a new cat. She still limps, and always will, but she has found a new lease on life. Previous to her illness, she would get frisky every couple of weeks or so, and we would play with her, flick her speaker wire around and let her chase it, and so on. In the past few months, the frequency of her friskiness has increased tenfold. Almost every single night we find her chasing her mouse and coil toys around the house and running around like a maniac. Every night we flick her speaker wire around, and she goes nuts for it. She's even taken to chasing us around the house as we drag the wire behind us, hiding behind the couch or speakers and jumping out at the wire as we pass. It's like she is 3 years old again. I don't regret one bit spending all that money on vet bills. Just seeing her enjoying life like this is worth more than anything money could buy. She's living life like a queen, as she should.

Now, onto the updates.

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