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Archive for July, 2009

Cover the Commode

I have been keeping a running list of differences I observe between West and East coasts and today I submit the following: toilet seat covers.

Here in New Hampshire, there are very few public restrooms that offer toilet seat covers, those rice-paper thin, disposable covers cut into the shape of the toilet seat.  They are easily disposed by flushing them down the toilet.  There are a nice addition to the hygienic practices of using public restrooms.  On the West Coast, they are ubiquitous.

I remember when I was first introduced to toilet seat covers in college in California.  They were foreign to me at the time and I didn’t understand how to slip the thin sheets out of their pockets, snap off the centers and lay them on the toilet.  This was demonstrated by a dorm resident assistant in an amusing skit, during which the RA pranced about the room with a stack of toilet seat covers around his neck.  That RA is now a surgeon at a top hospital in Boston and a professor of public health at Harvard, in addition to writing for Slate, The New Yorker, and authoring two best-selling books.  I knew he was smart back then, so I listened to his advice.

My mother has always been particularly wary of public restrooms, so much so that she taught me to squat on top of the toilet seat rather than sit on them.  This squatting training would come in handy whenever I traveled in Asia, where squatty potties are the norm and, I might add, more hygienic than Western toilets because there is no actual skin contact.  (I understand this squatting training will also be helpful in childbirth, but I digress.)  So I was pleased to see that my mother orders toilet seat covers for the restrooms at their company.  My mother, however, does not trust the toilet seat covers and insists on covering the toilet seat with her own makeshift cover of toilet paper.  Same concept, less convenient.

At any rate, I am annoyed at the dearth of toilet seat covers in public restrooms here and may find myself resorting to my mother’s toilet paper covers or squatting on top of the toilet.  I miss California.

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Hubby and I spent yesterday afternoon and this morning digging through tax returns, bank statements, W-4’s, and a whole ream of asset verification for our new home loan.  Evidently, our finances are pretty complicated.  

Hubby commented how things were easier for our Portland house, which we bought in 2005, at the height of the real estate bubble.  That was a no-asset/no-income verification loan.  All they did was check our credit rating and then they plopped down $200K.  What a crazy world.

As much as digging through our files is a pain in the ass, I don’t mind this loan.  We have managed to find all the documents, even though all our belongings are stashed in my parents’ garage.  I guess we’re not as unorganized as we appear.  The bank is doing its due diligence in ensuring that we’re a safe bet to pay back our loan, as opposed to our Portland mortgage lender who just took our word for it.  Thankfully, both Hubby and I are fiscally conservative and don’t bite off more than we can chew.  So maybe our high credit scores did show that we were a good bet for a loan after all.

Home inspection will be on Friday.  For those asking for photos, click here.

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Wired

The lack on internet access is crimping my blogging style.  My parents have no access from their house, even dial-up.  Hubby and I haunt the local library for our internet fix, once even parking outside and mooching off the free wifi.  It’s ridiculous how disconnected I feel from the modern world without internet.  All our research about real estate, mortgage rates, schools, obstetricians, shopping, maps, shopping, good pizza, etc. is all done online.  All my parents have is copy of the yellow pages.

Things are a big more modern at their company, but Hubby and I are looking at quite a bit of work to get them up to speed to doing business in the 21st century.  Most of the company knowledge is stuck somewhere in my parents’ brains and we will need to extract the knowledge and document it.  Computers are good, but there’s nothing really compared to the knowledge stored in a good human brain.

Hubby just called and said our offer on our house was accepted!  Now we’ve got some running around to do to get into our own home…and soon our own wifi network!

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In a Yellow Wood

Today, Hubby and I put in a bid for a small house on 8 acres of wooded land.  We bid $265,000.  You couldn’t buy a parking space in San Francisco for that amount of money.  The owners are moving to Florida and are motivated to sell.  They said they’d even throw in a old plow truck for the long driveway. 

The house is in move-in condition with recently painted walls, new appliances, and nice hardwood floors.  This is very different from our Portland house, which Hubby gutted and reconstructed himself with his family’s help.  In looking for a house this time around, I kept reminding Hubby that his family was not nearby and he wouldn’t get that kind of skilled help from my family, so any renovation project had to be low-maintenance manageable or we’d have to contract it out.  Thankfully, Hubby really likes this house, as the craftsmanship is well-done, even to his high standards.

With 8 acres of land, Hubby is thinking his “projects” are full of endless possibilities.  He wants to build a detached garage (currently the house doesn’t have a garage) with a workshop/apartment above it.  He also wants to build a retreat cabin somewhere on the land for artists, writers, thinkers, burnt out community activists, etc.  The cabin will be off-grid and have a bath house with radiant heat floors.  Of course, we’d have to build a trail to the cabin and do a bit of landscaping.

We’ve been in New Hampshire for nine days.  Go figure.

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I have so far avoided blogging about politics, although I have plenty of opinions about politics.  I have been keeping a curious, rubber-necking ear to the political scandal that is Mark Sanford, governor of South Carolina.  His initial “disappearance” tweaked my interest only because his staff claimed he was hiking the Appalachian Trail.  As someone who has done long-distance backpacking (250 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail through Oregon in 2004), I was sympathetic to the governor and his need to get away from civilization and the demands of his position, even though I think he was an idiot for refusing federal stimulus money for his state.

But then the revelations started unraveling.  The governor was not on the AT, he was in Argentina.  He was visiting his mistress.  All of this was announced at a rather uncomfortable press conference, during which Sanford gave too much information about the details of his affair and the damage to his marriage.  Sanford, self-professed standard bearer for family values and father of four young sons, seemed a groveling lovesick teenager in the ensuing days.  He described his mistress as his “soul mate” and the pain he felt at his separation from her.  He was trying to come across as a fallible human being.  Good for him, but really do we need to know all the gory details of his personal torture?  Because he’s not coming across as sympathetic.  He’s coming across pathetic.  Please shut up, Governor.

Through all this, it has been very notable that the governor’s wife, Jenny Sanford, has not appeared by his side.  Unlike the pained, somber presence of Silda Wall Spitzer by the side of her disgraced husband, Eliot Spitzer, Jenny Sanford’s absence left her husband to wallow in the full spotlight of his infidelities.  Which is how it should be, in my opinion.  Jenny Sanford has publicly stated that she is willing to reconcile with her husband–IF he demonstrates the true spirit of humility.  But there is no reason why she should have to bear the public humiliation of a press conference while her husband confesses to being unfaithful to her.  Why would a compassionate husband ask this of his wife?  Why would an educated, strong woman agree to this mockery?  And what message does it send to our American ideal of marriage?  That it is the woman’s duty to endure her husband’s inevitable infidelities?  Come on.

I understand that marriage is work and that every marriage may find itself at a breaking point at some point.  I understand that it is the commitment of the partners to work through the difficulties that helps a marriage endure.  I know marriages can survive infidelities and even become stronger on the other side.  I hope the Sanfords’ marriage survives.  But this is a private betrayal and a private reconciliation and should be dealt with in private.  The public airing of the governor’s feelings for his mistress is completely inappropriate.  Perhaps if his wife were by his side, he’d shut up in deference to her grief.  His diarrhea of the mouth is not helping any reconciliation, nor is it helping his political career.

Silence is a virtue, governor, even in politics.  Practice some restraint.  Maybe you should hike the Appalachian Trail.

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