Monthly Archives: September 2013

Out of Pocket

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Sorry, I’m going to be busy or gone for the next few weeks; I may come visit your site, but I’m already practically brain-dead from all the activity, so if I do comment, it probably won’t be very much. Have fun and I’ll be back after I catch up on all my work, etc.

LOL, I just realized that this is my 100th post on this blog! Yay, me!

Las Vegas on the Cheap

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[Here’s Mitch’s Las Vegas Primer. I was supposed to cross-post, and I’m not really sure how I screwed that one up; my only excuse is that I’ve been really busy catching up on work to go to Vegas, and the more numbers that go through my head, the less bright I become. Those are the times I concentrate on smiling and looking pretty, so that’s probably about all I’ll be able to do when I finally get there. P.S. this took about 10 minutes to type :/ ]

In honor of our upcoming trip to Vegas, I will let you know how we did the cheap thing there in the past. Most of these won’t apply to this trip because we are staying somewhere nice and safe, but you can never be too careful.

The first thing you should know is that cheap in Vegas means dangerous. The more a place costs, the safer it is. Downtown Fremont Street is cheap to stay and to gamble, but it is very dangerous. The more a place costs, the nicer it is, the more they pay for security, and the safer it is. I like Fremont Street, in spite of the danger; everything is close together and there’s a Walgreens if you forgot to pack something.

Downtown at night, about a third of all people are predators, a third are security and the remaining third are marks (you, lol). That homeless looking guy with no teeth sitting on the trashcan is security. Whatever you do, do not do a bunch of mushrooms and go to Fremont to watch the laser show. A shit-eating grin is to predators like fresh brains are to a zombie. A, uh, friend told me 🙂

Do not take anything to Vegas that you can’t replace. If you take extra jewelry, carry it with you. Do not leave anything of any value (cash, credit cards, jewelry, cameras, etc.) in your hotel room because you luggage will be riffled daily if you are staying somewhere cheap. Those hiding places that you think are really good are the first places the thieves look. Carry everything of any value with you at all times. The best plan is to leave anything at home that you might cry if you lost.

Bring doorstops with you and use them on the adjoining room doors. I think it is against fire codes to use them on the main door, but you can always use a chair on that one. Carry a messenger’s bag instead of a purse. It is big enough to hold everything, it can easily be worn across your torso, the large flap across the front is hard to reach into, and the straps are thick enough to deter a purse-snatcher. You can get a good, cheap one at the Army Surplus. Plus it has plenty of room for your flask.

I haven’t been to Vegas in a couple of years, but I go every few years for the last 20 years. It can be a pretty expensive place to party if you are just wandering around and not gambling. Last time I was there, it cost $6 for a Miller Lite at a casino bar downtown, and that’s cheap. I think it cost $9 for one at Margaritaville on the Strip. This adds up fast over the course of a day.

To get a free drink while out wandering around, go up to the bar and sit down at one of the poker machines. Put a $20 in the machine and play it (they actually have pretty good odds, and you will usually come out of it with the same $20 you put into it). The bartender will give you a chit to sign, and you sign it and give him a tip. Note: you can only do this to each bar every few hours, because the bartenders have strict rules, but usually each casino will have two or three different bars, so you can get pretty trashed after two or three casinos.

Another thing is that there are convenience stores that sell beer and sometimes booze. If all you are doing is wandering around seeing the sights, go in one of those, get a beer, and walk around with that. I have an 8oz flask that I will be wandering around with. Then there’s that whole drinking in your room before leaving it. Some people go to Vegas strictly to gamble, so their drinking is taken care of, but I usually end up wandering around most of the time.

Sign up for the Player’s Club. This won’t do a damn thing for you if you play the slots, but if you play table games, you can get some serious comps. We ate many a meal on the casino. We heard that you can also get room upgrades and other comps as well. I probably will only do this at my home casino because when you are with a group of people gambling, they are usually pretty mobile.

Always put out a $100 when you use your players card. It gives you comps out the wazoo, but you still need to gamble like you colored up for $20. American male dealers (croupiers) are the best because you can get them talking, they get into a rhythm, and you can bet according to numbers that have previously come up. Nuthin’ sweeter than a repeater! Asian females are the worst because they will not talk to you, they are completely random, and they play too fast to get a good grip on the table. While playing, if you have used your players card, ask for a meal.

If you jaywalk, the cabs will run you down and the cops will issue you a $90 ticket. Vegas is hard-core about jaywalking. Don’t do it. Do not do what we did and decide to jaywalk out to take a good picture of the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign. It is very dangerous and stupid, and the cops will circle you like sharks. I have heard that since we did that, Vegas has put a parking lot by the sign so that people can safely go out to there.

Start every adventure, especially bus (The Deuce) adventures, with a bottle of water. Do ride The Deuce (a double-decker bus that goes to downtown and the strip). Buy the 24 hour pass for $5 and ride it in the morning. Don’t try to ride the Deuce at night because it stops so often and for so long that walking is faster; if you need to go somewhere at night either walk or take a cab (you could do a limo of course, but that’ll cost you). We like to ride in the front window upstairs of the Deuce. You can ride around all morning and get a good view of all of Vegas.

Rent Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas to watch before going to get you in the right spirit. It is a good training film. Oh yeah, if you expect to go to the revolving bar in Circus Circus to get smashed and recreate the famous scene from the movie, you can’t. It is closed. Sometimes you just can’t go home again. Now Circus Circus is a kiddie place where you play games for stuffed animals.

Have T-shirts made before you go that say “I don’t want to buy a ticket/time-share”, because you will be inundated by salespeople hawking those. Maybe make a T-shirt for the girls that say “Not for Hire” because if you stand outside the men’s restroom waiting for your husband, you will get a lot of offers for a “date”. Go for it and make some extra cash for the trip! It stays in Vegas! (oh yeah, except for The Herp – you take that home with you).

Don’t Badmouth Your Man

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Over at the RedPillWoman subreddit there was a little dust-up on a post I submitted about a girl going all over Reddit talking about how her boyfriend doesn’t clean the house, is bullying her, won’t marry her so she can get more financial aid, and does she really have to be SuperWoman?

Basically she was making fun of us RPW saying that women should cater to their men. I made the submission and then was called out because the chick in question says she is bipolar. Evidently, saying that you are bipolar is a Get Out of Jail Free Card. It wasn’t her fault, and nothing else is her fault either because she says she has this disorder.

But that’s not what I’m here to discuss; I’m here to discuss badmouthing your man. Don’t do it. Men shouldn’t badmouth their women either, but it is particularly odious to do it to a man because the world is way too ready to believe bad things about men, and the world tends to let women off lightly.

Say you have a tiff with your man, and you call your sister to cry on her shoulder. You tell her all the horrible things that happened and let slip that he scared you. Now your sister thinks he is one step away from beating you, and she will never think any differently about him. Thirty years of unwavering devotion cannot pry this image from her mind.

Say you are mad at your man for something minor, and you call your mom to vent. You start off with how he didn’t take out the garbage yesterday, but then you get carried away and before you know it you are calling him lazy and shiftless. Your mom will forever think of your man as lazy and shiftless. He can work five jobs full-time, and he will still be lazy and shiftless in her eyes.

It is particularly wrong to badmouth him to single friends. The problem with single friends is that they are incapable of hanging onto a man, which is why they are single. Since the slightest infraction will cause them to drop a man, they will encourage you to dump your man. You can get someone better! Someone who will take better care of you than him! I love how single women are always so ready with relationship advice.

Not only does badmouthing your man make him look bad in other people’s eyes, but it makes you look bad, too. Why are you in a relationship with someone who treats you badly or someone you complain about? Why do you put up with that?

It’s not just that others will think badly of your man, but that you are also probably saying these things to his face, and that is completely disrespectful. Even thinking these things is disrespectful. If you have a complaint, you need to set aside some time for a serious discussion with him, and without emotion, whining, accusing, or nagging, tell him the problem.

If you are feeling put upon or like you are doing everything, maybe make a list of things that each of you do. On one post, a commenter asked about everyone’s division of labor in their relationship, and when I was responding, I realized that my husband does a lot more than I really gave him credit for.

I completely forgot that he pays all the bills and handles investments and our finances. That’s a lot of work. I only thought about the physical stuff that I actively see him doing, not the invisible stuff that gets done behind the scenes. You might realize that the division of labor is indeed unfair; you may realize that it is you who is doing too little.

Fun Down Under (the house)

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I know I’ve been writing about the house a lot lately, but it is all consuming right now. It was a recent decision to keep it, after years of trying to buy another one and unload this one on some poor dumb sucker. The main reason we wanted to unload it were the countless problems it has and continues to get.

The major problem that the house has is there was a small earthquake a while back and it undermined some load-bearing supporting walls under the house. Walking across the kitchen is a little scary sometimes, with all of the creaks and groans the house makes. Unfortunately, the earthquake happened right smack dab in the middle of remodeling the kitchen.

We had all of the upper cabinets installed, and the sink cabinets and countertops installed and tiled. The rest of the kitchen lower cabinets were mostly installed, and we were about a week away from finishing those and tiling the countertop when the earthquake happened and suddenly nothing was level. We are talking everything was off by almost an inch. Crap.

The walls under the house would have been fixed by now, but when my husband and a friend went under the house to try to jack it up and level it, my husband found a copperhead skin. He showed it to our friend just as our friend held up a handful of baby copperhead skins. Yay! Poisonous Venomous snakes! They also found huge mounds of dirt moved by the woodchuck that has lived under the house for years.

We just gave up when we found the shed snakeskins. I made do the best I could with what I had, and it was fine. I just placed some plywood across the cabinets as a makeshift countertop, and that was it: ugly but workable. The floor of the kitchen was also ugly but workable. We have had the hardwoods sitting there ready to install since just before the earthquake.

Now that we are staying, the foundation has to be repaired. My husband finally girded his loins and went under this past weekend. If you’ve ever been under a house in a crawlspace, you know how nasty the dirt is under there. Luckily, where he is working is pretty deep, it is more of a stoop-space. Still, not pleasant.

I stayed nearby when he went under, in case he needed anything, and immediately after he went under, he yelled, “SNAKE!” Holy crap! Then he laughed and said it was the cutest baby King Snake; King Snakes eat copperheads, and where there’s a baby, there’s a momma. We are betting the momma took care of the copperheads and maybe even the woodchuck, since there were no new signs of digging.

So, things are progressing at a steady rate, and while husband works under the house, I am working nearby within hearing range so I can run go fetch stuff for him. I’m going through all of the kitchen cabinets and getting rid of anything I don’t use. Most of the stuff goes to Goodwill and some stuff, like some old Pyrex, will eventually go on Etsy. That sounds like a good winter project!

Current State of the Housing Market

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Where I live, in the middle of flyover land, it is almost impossible to buy a reasonably priced house. All of the houses on the market are either way overpriced or distressed to the point of being irreparable. You would think that after the housing bubble burst in 2008 you would be able to get one on the cheap, but that is exactly when the housing market ceased to be a good deal.

What happened is that houses quit making it to the market and began to sell directly to investors. A realtor will sign a house, ask the seller what their bottom dollar is, and contact their investors. A couple of weeks later the seller has a check and their house never made it to the MLS listing.

I know some investors and they started buying up houses in 2008. At first they had to look online at houses and compete with individuals wanting to purchase a home, but then their realtor started contacting them when they signed the house. They bought a lot of them that way, but then the houses started drying up.

They finally figured out that their realtor was selling to another investor in California. They didn’t know how to get the realtor to sell to them, so I suggested raising the commission percentage paid to sweeten the pot, and once again they had a lot of houses to buy. I’m pretty certain that this was how the California buyer got the realtor to sell to them exclusively in the first place.

A friend tipped me off to this first; he had a rental house that he wanted to turn into cash so he contacted a real estate associate. The associate looked at the house and immediately asked his bottom dollar. Two weeks later he had a check in the bank and his house never made it to the market.

Think of how easy that was; the associate didn’t have to take pictures, upload the house to MLS, post the house on various websites, worry about curb appeal, show the house to a myriad of buyers or share the commission with another associate.

Around these parts, it is almost impossible to get a real estate associate to show you a house. The only ones that will do so are the ones that specialize in HUD homes that are not eligible for purchase by investors. The larger realtors won’t even bother unless the house is really expensive or newly built.

We tried to buy another house for a few years and wondered why every house we looked at, no matter how expensive, was completely distressed. Every house we looked at had terrible foundation problems and huge cracks in the basement. The only decently priced houses were in absolutely horrible neighborhoods. It makes so much more sense now.

End of Summer

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The beginning and end of summer are always so busy for me because in the beginning of summer I can finally implement all of the plans made during winter, and the end of summer is a rush to get everything finished before the next winter. During the winter I goof off (haha, not really!*).

We just finished pouring a parking pad, 18′ x 24′, and even with three guys helping it was a lot of work, building forms, 9 tons of sand to spread and tamp, digging down the dirt from inside the forms, huge concrete truck, I forget how many cubic yards of concrete, spreading, screeding, using the bull float, wielding a littler float, smoothing, finishing.

We’ve been working on hand mixing and pouring a smaller patio (6.5′ x 24′) just outside of our back porch. We have one section to go on that and we’ll pour it tomorrow, on Labor Day. When we finish it, my husband will build a masonry wall around it, install our cast iron chiminea, and my goal is to get a nice grill & smoker for the patio next spring. The patio won’t be roofed but we will use large patio umbrellas.

In the spring, we roofed our back porch (~250 sq.ft.), which already had 3′ tall masonry walls around it, and our next project on it is to install windows to enclose it. We have tile to beautify the concrete floor and a nice wood stove for heat. If we can get the windows installed before winter, I can tile during the warm days of winter.

When completed, I want to be able to use a corner of our new room as a place where in the summer I can keep a crockpot of broth going, my rice beer brewing, and various and sundry other kitchen type activities that take time and space. Maybe I’ll even install cabinets and counter tops in this corner (husband permitting).

Another thing we would like to do is build a big damn metal building (30′ x 40′? Bigger?) next to our house for a shop/garage. We have been talking to a friend who builds metal buildings and he can build one for much less than a lot of big companies, so that will enable us to customize it with the remainder of our budget. We have a cool old engine hoist we want to be able to use, plus a lot of tools and machines to set up a regular shop area.

We found an old drain from a razed house very near where the rear of the building will be, so we can plumb it, and we completely wired our house ourselves, so we will probably wire that as well, I imagine. Wiring might come with the building, though. We would like to get the building up by winter so that we can finish out the inside during winter. We have a second wood stove for the shop and will probably install propane.

Then we need a tall privacy fence, but we have a lot of foliage and trees in the way of that, so it will take a lot of work. Luckily my husband has found a friend to help with a lot of this stuff, the friend’s wife is expecting, so he can really use some extra cash. I’m good with helping, but our friend actually knows how to do things. I’ll be running and fetching a lot.

We looked for another house for years, but have given up on finding one, so we are building a compound and digging in where we are. We like our neighborhood, but our house is just too small. I think the shop, back porch and patio will make our house so much more livable.

*I always think I’m not doing anything when there isn’t a huge project going on. Once we were eating with my family and they were all telling what they had been doing lately, and I was telling them how I wasn’t doing anything and felt so lazy. My husband started listing all of the things I had been doing: rice beer, bone broth, yogurt, and all my other kitchen experiments. Those are just fun, though!

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