Holy Shit…

We’re buying a house today.

Update: All the documents have been signed. We are now the proud owners of

A mortgage. And a kick-ass new house.

Farewell to Bean

Last week, The Wife and I had to make the heart-breaking decision every pet owner must make. We had to take our beloved Bean in for his final vet visit. We knew it was coming. The vet told us it wasn’t likely Bean would see the new house. The cancer took its toll over the last month. Bean was barely able to get off the bed. The worst part – his disposition was still the sweet cat who just wanted cuddles and skritches. This one was hard on The Wife. Bean was her baby who she had when he was a kitten. To me, he was the cat who changed how I looked at hairless kitties.

We will miss you Bean.

Bean Close-Up


Random Thoughts Part Something Or Other

  1. I’m vaccinated! Since I work for a healthcare system, I was offered the COVID vaccine. Last week, I received my second dose of the Pfizer. Yeah, that did a number on me. Not as bad as some, but enough to give me flu-like symptoms for the night. Still, I’d much rather feel like crap for a night. From my reading, full protection will take a couplem ore weeks..

  2. The brother-in-law and I went to the local gun show. I mainly went to see if I could pick up some .30 carbine for the blogshoot. One dealer had .30 carbine – for $60/box. I really wish I’d had the cash on hand when all that Korean surplus was hitting Lucky Gunner. I’m still keeping my eye on that.

  3. Speaking of the local gun show, as we were leaving, I was snagged by a particularly aggressive salesperson of one of the big gun shop chains on the west coast. I told him I was looking for a “non-AR, AR.” I wanted something that would take standard mags, but not an AR. I was thinking maybe a SCAR (fecking expensive) or maybe an AUG. He shows me the pistol version of a CZ Bren 2. Yeah, I’m thinking this might be a nice little carbine. Now, if I can just scrape up the cash.

  4. Massad Ayoob had a little blurb about putting Harriet Tubman on the $20. If it’s the picture of her holding her hand out while brandishing a revolver, then I’m all for it. This is a woman that needs to be celebrated. Plus, it’s good to remind people that defending one’s liberty sometimes requires the best tools available.

Family Stuff

The past weekend had some interesting points: 1. The new house has the drywall up, so we went to do some measurements and generally see the progress. During which we found out that the air return is in a slightly different place than at the model. Which means the new entertainment center we bought last weekend won’t fit. Fortunately, since everything is on long lead times, switching out to the next size down isn’t a problem.

  1. We cleaned out the attic. Most of which was The Wife’s forgotten decorations for various holidays. Most was donated or tossed, but we do have three bins going to the storage unit. I have informed The Wife that I am opposed to anything going up into the new attic because I don’t want to root around on a ladder, and we have a tendency to lose stuff up there.
  2. The wife has a bunch of afghans and crocheted pillows. The sister-in-law suggested we use those vacuum bags. They helped a lot and it was fun seeing the pillows compress down.
  3. We had WiFi problems on Saturday. At first, I was worried that we were going to have to go out and pick up new routers. Doing some troubleshooting with her nephew, I just needed to switch out the Ethernet cable. Good news, I didn’t have to spend the money for a brand new Eeros mesh. Bad news, I didn’t get a brand new Eeros mesh. Maybe if the new house has issues with my current Eeros, we’ll face the same dilemma.
  4. The Wife’s niece needed a babysitter because she had an early shift on Sunday morning. The original plan was for the niece to deliver The Infant to us at O-Dark-Early. After discussions, this led The Infant having her first sleepover at our house. Yeah, not much sleep as The Infant was very fussy. I’ve also heard Baby Shark more over the weekend than I had up to Sunday morning.
  5. Also setting up the baby monitor resulted in me finding out my refurbished security camera base station decided it doesn’t like me anymore. And it’s outside of the return window. I’m going to try and fix it, so I don’t need to get a new one. They ain’t cheap.
  6. During all the packing this weekend, I’ve come to realize this move is more emotional for The Wife than me. She’s spent the better part of twenty years in our current place. Which is the longest she’s lived anywhere. Sometimes, I have to just respect that. It’s much different for me. When I moved down from my home of fifteen years, it didn’t feel like I was severing something, but more like coming home. We’re both very excited over the new house, but I have to keep in mind that there’s a tinge of bittersweet for her.

2021 Goals

I was kinda middling on my 2020 Goals. I did manage to keep up on the blog writing. The other writing – well, I wasn’t so successful. I got my Level 3 in Toastmasters, but then we had to quit. I don’t know when we will return to our club at this point – particularly with The Wife’s new position.

My weight? It’s been pretty bad since COVID hit. I don’t think I’ve been below 210 since March – and I’ve brushed the 230 mark. When I can’t fit into my work pants – that’s fucking bad. It isn’t helped by the fact that I’m on permanent telework.

This year is going to be dominated by The Big Move into our new house. Just the hassle of moving is going to be fun enough, but I know myself. I am a creature of habits and routines. The new house is going to require entirely new routines, and it’s going to take some time to iron them out. One of the odd things about the new place is that there isn’t a mailbox in front of the house. I need to walk about a block to get to where everyone’s mailboxes are grouped.

So, here are my 2021 goals.

  1. Weight – Get back down to goal of 200.

  2. Writing – Finish the fantasy novel

  3. Writing – Finish the third Irregulars story

  4. Blog – Keep up the four posts a week schedule

  5. Exercise – Use the eliptical at least one hour a day for at least six days of the week, and at least one hour a day while my weight is above 205.

  6. Exercise – Walk to the mailboxes after we move unless life-hazarding weather

  7. Professional Development – Improve skills with Power BI to improve my reports.

Good bye 2020

This year has been a roller-coaster for the Ward household. I won’t rehash the crazy politics or the plague. Everyone’s been dealing with that – and many people have had a much harder time than The Wife and I had. A lot of that was good planning, but there was also a lot of just luck.

For us, the roller coaster really started in March, but not for the reason that you might think. In March, we sold my Tampa house. The negotiations started back in December, but we finally closed at the beginning of March. Yay, we freed up a bunch of cash! Plus we got some cash influxes from the sale. Some of that was used to buy two new handguns (a Ruger SR1911 Commander and a Steyr L9A1). Some of that was used to buy The Wife a Cricut Maker. Some of that was used to pay down our debts. A good deal was needed when the world went insane with COVID. Both The Wife and I were thrown into full time telework. We used some of the funds to upgrade the home office, since we would both be using it. MArch was also the month we pulled the plug on our planned trip to go out west so that The Wife and I could meet each other’s family out that way.

April and May went by in the blink of an eye as The Wife and I adjusted to our new routines. My prepper instincts meant we were never in danger of being out of toilet paper or other essentials. In fact, we were able to spare some to one of our neighbors. That’s the nice thing about prepping. You can help those in need. Our Toastmasters club transitioned to Zoom.

Then came June. The Wife was talking with one of her friends, and it came up that the friend’s daughter was looking for a car. When the friend mentioned the daughter was looking for something like a Hyundai Elantra, The Wife joked that she could sell the daughter hers. Yeah, it turned out to be not so much a joke, and we ended up selling the car. There was some discussion if we could be a one-car family, but her job was talking about bringing people back in July. Which we could technically do, but there was the unknown as to what my job would do. So, we started looking for a new vehicle. Or more to the point, we started looking for a new-to-us vehicle. I convinced The Wife to forgo a brand-new vehicle and at least see what we could get in the used market. She converted when she realized that for the cost of a bare-bones new SUV, she could get a fully-loaded three-year-old SUV. She loves her “new” vehicle.

July was a month of cancellations as we were forced to cancel our birthday plans, and our anniversary plans. The Wife’s job pushed back her return to the office. There was also a shake-up at her job and at the vet office we used. In the writing world, we would say that July was a month of foreshadowing.

August started the roller coaster into a series of ups and downs in very rapid succession. It started on a high note with my brother-in-law getting married. Due to COVID, it was a small ceremony, and many of the attendants were there virtually. Also, The Wife got dragged in as the officiant because the initial officiant backed out citing plague concerns. Still, a very high note for what had already been a kind of fucked up year. Then the down. We finally got fed up with our vet practice and transferred care to a new place where one of our favorite vet techs started working. Over the next six weeks, the mother-in-law lost two cats and we lost our two oldest cats. Some of it was just that they were old cats, but there were some issues that our previous vet practice missed completely. There was a high point among all this loss. At the end of August, we welcomed my new niece (technically great niece) to the world.

Now we turn to September. The Wife and I bought a new house. Well, technically we bought a house that was being built. We’d been looking since before the Tampa house sold back in March. We found a house in Bradenton that we both liked, but we wouldn’t be able to move/purchase until spring of 2021. Plus, the house was over a hundred years old (built in 1911!), and we had some concerns. Then we went into one of the new developments springing up in our area. One of the models just spoke to us. We talked it over, and signed the contract for a new place that will complete in spring of 2021. The high point was when we maxed the options, looked at our budget, and realized we could afford it. Unfortunately, with the sudden need to stockpile cash, we made the hard decision to not renew our Toastmasters membership. That was a difficult decision.

October we finished the refi on our current place. The plan is to rent this place to the brother-in-law and his wife, so we wanted a lower payment and consolidate the first and second mortgages. This turned out to be of more import as the refi also smoothed over a hiccup with the approval process for the mortgage for the new house. Yeah, that was a fun phone call with us flipping through refinance mortgage documents to verify details. By the end of October, everything was seemingly smooth.

First week of November. Everyone was focused on the election. The Wife and I had something else to focus on. She was informed that her position was eliminated. The shakeup that began in July had claimed her position, and that of her entire section. No chance to go to another department in the company, just you are out on the street after twenty years of service. Make an appointment to come get your stuff from your desk. Yeah, and we had a call with the mortgage company for the new house a half-hour after that call. So, November was a month of sending out applications, resumes, going on interviews, and hoping that we wouldn’t have to walk away from the new house. The day before Thanksgiving, The Wife received an offer. It was a pay cut, but not as bad as we hoped. Plus there were some fringe benefits.

December had The Wife going back to the office. Except it was her new office. She has a commute about as long as I did before they sent us out on telework. After seven months of having her in the home office, it was odd to be the only one home all day. Plus, with her new commute, I’m having to do all the afternoon chores. All sorts of changes.

I won’t say that 2020 was the worst year for the Ward family. Too many good things happened. I will say that I’m hoping 2021 won’t be as full of changes. If the move is the only big change next year, I’ll take it.

Five Bands That Define My Taste In Music

The Brother saw this in his feeds, and thought it was an interesting idea. We did the ten albums that shaped our musical tastes, so this is a good way to kind of describe our current musical tastes.

The Brother

Insomnium – melodic death metal

Recommended Album: Shadows of the Dying Sun

Disillusion – progressive metal

Recommended Album: The Liberation

Andy James – guitar-oriented instrumental rock

Recommended Album: Arrival

Clutch – rock

Recommended Album: Earth Rocker

Amorphis – heavy metal

Recommended Album: Skyforger

Bonus Pick: Amaranthe – pop metal


Sabaton – military history themed power metal

Recommended album: The Last Stand

Amaranthe – pop metal with female lead singer, clean male singer, and growly male singer

Recommended album: Massive Addictive

Mary’s Blood – Japanese, female fronted, power metal

Recommended album: Revenant

Black Stone Cherry – modern Southern rock

Recommended album: Folklore and Superstition

Beyond the Black – female-fronted power metal

Recommended Album: Lost In Forever

Bonus Pick: Garth Brooks – Nineties country and western legend

Recommended album: The Ultimate Hits

Twenty-Two Days

At the beginning of the month, The Wife was informed that her position was being eliminated. Almost twenty years with the firm. No warning. No reason. We could understand if it was a business decision – need to cut costs or something along those lines. Nope. Our best guess is The Wife and her team were the collateral damage in a fight and/or horse-trading among the senior leadership. This was a huge blow. We just committed to buying a house. Hell, a half-hour after she was told she was losing her job, we were on the phone with the mortgage people for a scheduled call.

Twenty-two days. That’s how long The Wife went from being let go to having a new offer in hand. She spent every day like a work day. Except her work was finding a new position. She was amazing to me. I couldn’t be more proud of how she handled herself.

Happy Thanksgiving

By the time you’re reading this, I’ll be working on smoking a duck as part of our Thanksgiving.

This is going to be a screwed up Thanksgiving for all of us. Probably next year’s will be screwed up too. I’m hoping by 2022, we’ll be relatively back to normal. At least in terms of having everyone back together.

Life With Cats Part Something

One of the cats developed a bladder infection.

Vet Tech: Which cat?

The Wife: EBC

Vet Tech: Oh. Joy.

I guess he lives up to his name of Evil Black Cat. Apparently, he behaved himself better this time. According to the vet tech.

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