Blog Archives

Its cold outside!

48 degrees in Tampa right now.  A few years ago, I’d argue that this temperature was not cold.  Now that I’ve adjusted to the Florida climate, I have to admit, its freezing cold!!!  I nearly froze in my shoes walking outside without a jacket today.  Fortunately, this mini-winter won’t last long, we will be back up to the near 80s or so by the weekend or beginning of next week. 

Verizon FIOS billing issues

I’ve been having a difficult time lately with Verizon and their billing of my FIOS account. Sure my account history is a bit complicated. Let me recount the things that have happened in the brief history of my account…

1. Ordered online with a promotion offer (ordered with a landline phone service and had billing through the phone bill).

2. Got billed wrong amount, turned out they never applied the online promotion to my account.

3. Got an account credit of $60 to cover the promotion discount for 6 months. Also got my Target gift card mysteriously after complaining that I had not yet received it after my 12 weeks or service.

4. Ported my landline phone service to a VOIP provider.

5. Switched my billing method to credit card after phone service was ported away from Verizon.

6. Got a letter from Verizon saying I was in default and my account was terminated and sent to a collection agency.

7. Called CS AGAIN and found that my account is ok afterall, they had some kind of mixup with the other CSR that processed the port. My account is in good standing and no balance is due.

So as you can see, its been fun! I love FIOS internet, its fast, reliable and perfect for my home network, but dealing with a big company like Verizon is such a pain.

When you call in to customer service, you get a rep after going through their aweful phone system, and then they find out I’m in Florida and have to transfer me. I finally get someone in Florida and they tell me they can’t help me because they are normal Verizon and have to send me to a FIOS rep. I finally get a FIOS rep and then they have problems finding my billing history and account information. Its all straightened out now though, so I can take a breath of fresh air and not have to worry about this account any longer… until next month that is when they screw up my bill again.

Florida Wild-Fire Map

Here is a link to a map of Florida showing the locations of all the wild fires causing the smoke problems we have right now.

Smoke in the sky

Over the last two days or so, there has been a haze of smoke in the sky from all the brush fires burning so many acres of land all over the state. There is a Florida-Georgia file burning that caused quite a haze yesterday, and it was very smelly. It was hard to breathe outside. I was on my way home the night before it got really bad and had some kind of irritation in my eyes that caused me to have to pull over and wipe my eyes they were wattering so bad. I went a little further and had to pull over again and put my top up to keep the wind from getting in my eyes.

Weekend summary

This was a (mostly) very nice weekend.  On Friday afternoon/evening we had some guests over for dinner and got to watch a movie, which was great.  Our kids had a great time playing together and we all had a great time.  Saturday I got a ton of downloaded shows and movies burned to DVD.  Something I’d been putting off for quite some time.  I was able to free up lots of much needed hard drive space.  Liz had a fundraiser thing for her MOPS group to go to at the St. Pete Times Forum working on the floor at a vendor’s booth.  She got home early becasue there was no business that night.  They still got paid which was good.  I seem to recall getting to rest a lot on Saturday and Sunday.  Sunday I continued to burn movies to DVD and the kids got to play outside since it was a little warmer (abotu 65). 

   Its been chilly here the last few days, and all this week the highs are only around 60ish.  Today I think the high will be mid 50’s.  I’ve completely adjusted to Florida living now, and cannot tolerate temperatures below 70 degrees anymore.  I’m still trying to find a scientific explanation for this.  When I lived in the MD/DE area, I’d never even put on a jacket till the temperatures went below 40.  But in our Florida room, I was able to sit there with the afternoon sun coming through the glass windows and warming me up nicely.  It felt great!  I sat there with Abby and watched the cloud formations and tried to find shapes in the clouds.

Details

Our old house sold rather quickly, it was listed, sold and closed within 30 days. Our buyer was a little wacky and we had to jump through all kinds of hoops to make him happy. The closing date snuck up on us big time and we had only a few days to make moving arrangements. Liz and I packed up as much as we could and we had some friends that were nice enough to come over and help us. We had some help loading large items onto a moving truck which we were fortunately able to get for free from our real estate agent’s company. It was a 15′ truck and took 2 full loads to get all of our things to the garage of the new house. Liz and I loaded the first truck load along with some help from friends with the large items on Saturday morning. We then took the load to the new garage and unloaded it with just Liz and myself. It took us about 1 hour or so to unload the first trip. Then we took the truck back to our house and started to load more. It was getting late and Liz’s dad had come down to help from Ocala, so we took a dinner break and ended up with Liz’s dad and myself stopping by Dairy Queen on the way back. We got all the rest of the stuff from our old house loaded onto the truck in a few hours. Leaving only some trash to put out for collection and some small items like mirrors and things we could get with the van. It was almost 10pm by this time so we decided to leave it at that for the night and I drove the full truck back to a baseball field parking lot next to some friend’s house whom we were staying with. The next afternoon, Liz went somewhere with the kids and I took the truck to the new house and unloaded it by myself. It only took me a little over an hour and a half to get the extremely packed truck unloaded. What can I say, I’m nothing if not efficient. Ha ha. That evening I took the truck back to the real estate agent’s office and got my precious Miata back. I enjoyed a nice pleasant ride back to where we were staying.

First our home sale was supposed to happen on a Friday and the closing on our new house on a Monday. However, there was some kind of delay last minute and we could not close on either until Wednesday. So Wednesday finally came, I took some vacation days off work for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday but also had Monday off for Columbus day. So I had 6 days to move and get settled in. We met at the title company at 3pm on Wednesday to close on both houses. The buyer of our house could not be there so he came earlier and signed paperwork. Which we were very happy about so we didn’t have to deal with him in person since he gave us such a time dealing through his real estate agent. Not to mention his agent had a horrible accent and was very hard to understand. They got to us in a short amount of time and we signed all the sale papers for our old house. We finished only after about 15 minutes or so, and then decided to move on and finish the signing of the papers on our new house. This way, when the seller got there all he had to do was sign a few papers and we’d be all set.

Bad thing was that the amount we got back at closing was not as much as we had thought due to higher taxes and expenses in closing. So we got back just short of the amount we wanted. We had planned to pay off two big debts but didn’t receive enough to pay off just one of them. We will be getting an escrow refund from our first mortgage which will help and we don’t have a mortgage payment until Dec 1st, so I’m hoping the extra bill I hadn’t counted on will not be too high of a payment. We should be able to pay a little on the second debt which will hopefully make it more managable. We still have some things we need to buy though, like a dishwasher, since it died just after we got the keys. I’d like to get a new refridgerator, but that will have to wait. We did get a new TV (woo hoo), couch set, and some other things, but the budget is going to be interesting now. We are going to have to take Sarah out of private school and send her to a very highly rated public school nearby. We just can’t afford her tuition anymore with the higher living expenses. This has been hard for Liz and I’m not happy about it either, but unless I get a major career boost (and I already do good) or Liz gets a good job, we just can’t afford to send our kids to private school. Its bad enough just paying tuition for one, I can’t immaging how we could send all our kids to private school. Sarah will likely start public school in early November.

Activating utilities at the new house was a little strange, we are just outside the city limits of Temple Terrace, but still are on their water/sewer system. Tampa Electric still services us which is good, but water and trash pickup were tricky. The county told me they didn’t service my address, the city said they didn’t service the address, Temple Terrace told us they did. So it was a bit confusing getting it all setup. But on the day we moved in we had power, water/sewer and trash pickup is covered in our property taxes. I missed trash pickup this morning, I guess they come way earlier than I am used to, so I’ll have to remember to put it out the night before the pickup day. I ordered Verizon FIOS for internet access to try it out and see how it works for me. Its cheaper than Road Runner and has faster upload speeds which is more important to me than a few MB faster download speeds. I am downloading any TV shows I want to watch now so we didn’t get cable again and I don’t want to pay for Satellite, which stinks in Florida anyway with all the rain in the summer. I connected my PC via DVI to the new TV – a Hitachi 57″ HDTV. I watched some things on it in HD and its amazing. I just need to get a good surround sound system and I’ll be set. But thats one more thing I can’t afford right now. I might be able to get a PCI video card with a DVI port on it, and just use my e-mail server as my multimedia machine. I’d also need to get a wireless keyboard and mouse, but thats not too expensive. I have yet to decide what I want to do about that yet.

We love our new house, its not brand new and it has some maintenance things that will need to be done, but its been cared for and is in good shape overall. Its in a very quiet neighborhood, peaceful and pleasant. Liz has already been rollerblading a few times and I took the kids in the back yard last night to assemble their swing set and it was so quiet and there was a nice cool breeze blowing with no one else around. I have some installation inadequicies so it took a little longer than I had wanted to get the swing set assembled 🙂 We still have lots of stuff in the new garage so only my Miata can fit in there at night right now. I would like to have both vehicles in the garage by next weekend. Its not that much left to move, but its a matter of time and energy to go through it all. We made good progress in the few days we have been there, the kitchen and living room look great, but the other rooms are a little bare right now.

So I’m back at work today after a long break and am right back into the mix of things again. I think I am becomming a supporter of capitol punnishment for spammers. :-)]]>

Last minute change of plans

I took vacation days for Thursday, Friday – Monday and Tuesday to close on our houses and get moved in to the new house. So on Thursday morning I was off of work, Liz and I went to New Tampa and picked up the moving truck. We had purchased several items online and needed to go pick them up, so we headed out to Brandon to pickup our new couch set. We got there and the people were really nice and we had no trouble loading the new set. We left there and tried to find a place to stop and get a money order, because I was a few hundred short of the cash I needed to pay for the next item. We found an Amscot where we were going to try to buy a money order, but we only had a check and credit cards with us. They would not let us buy a money order since they deal strictly with cash. So we went to Lakeland anyway to pickup my new TV!!! I bought a 57″ Hitachi Big Screen. I got a great deal on it, it came with a matching entertainment center too. So there were two guys there at the house we picked it up from who helped us load it onto the truck. It took a while and lots of effort, but we managed to get the TV and entertainment center out of the house and onto the truck. I skinned up a knuckle hauling that monster, since we had to pick it up to get over dips and when moving at angles. We secured the TV to the side of the truck and went on our merry way. We only made it a short distance when we heard loud bang from the back of the truck. We pulled over to find the bungie cords we used had come undone. We re-secured the TV this time with rope and more blankets to protect it from any further impacts. Eventually it settled down and we made it back to Tampa in one piece. But something else happened on our way back to Tampa…

As we were leaving and about to get back on I4 to go home, we were sitting at a traffic light on Florida about to turn onto Memorial to get back to I4. Suddenly lots of police kept zooming by us, probably 10-15 cars, we had no idea what was going on. We saw tons of cops, an ambulance, lots of unmarked cars, and just a lot of police activity. We finally made it onto Memorial and were going down the road when we saw lots of people standing on the sides of the road and more police activity. We made it by the police as they just were coming out to stop traffic. We went a little further and saw motorcycle cops driving up and down the road looking for something. We went on our way and didn’t think much more of it. When we got back to Tampa, we heard what happened. Some guy (they think a drug dealer) shot two police officers and a dog. The dog and one of the police officers died and the other office is in critical condition. Last night there was a $15,000 reward for the capture of this guy. This morning, it was up to $40,000. I just now (at the time of writing this post) heard that they found the guy (think he was hiding in the woods) and they shot and killed him. So we were right there in Lakeland when all this happened just moments after it took place.

So we made it back to Tampa and decided to stop by the new house and drop off our loot into the garage. We were told to call the sellers agent for the code to the keypad of the garage door so we could get inside and unload out things. We tried calling and got her voicemail. We called over and over and were about to give up and leave after being there for about 30 minutes. Liz’s mom had just arrived to pick us up so we could leave the truck there until we heard from the sellers agent, just then the phone rang and it was her with the garage code. So we opened the door and unloaded the TV and entertainment center with the couch we got. Then we took the truck back to our house and were going to start loading more onto the truck. Liz had to leave at 2:30 to pickup Sarah from school, so she ate something quickly and left. Liz’s mom also left around that time. That left me home alone to load the truck. I was going to get as much loaded as I could and take a load to the garage so that when help came later, all we had left to move would be last minute things and the larger items I need help with. Well, once Liz left I got ready to go outside and haul stuff into the truck. I took my keys out of my pockets, and put my cell phone on the desk. I didn’t want to have a lot of stuff on me while moving. So I went outside and closed the door behind me. I didn’t realize until a few minutes later that I had just locked myself out of the house with no keys, no phone and no way back inside until Liz got back. Now Liz had to go take Sarah straight to Amanda’s house so she could watch the kids while we moved stuff. She also had to feed michael before she came back. So Liz didn’t come rescue me from my own stupidity until around 4:20pm. We originally thought that Thursday would be our only moving day since we had to be out of there for closing the next morning. So I was in a rush to get stuff loaded and moved, and was rather distraught that I had lost almost 2 hours of my moving time by locking myself out of the house. So Liz got home, and started to pack up more last minute things and I started loading more stuff onto the truck. I had put some things that were on the back porch in the truck already. Around 4:30 we got a call from our realtor, who said there was a delay on the buyers side and they were looking at a Wednesday closing now. So we had to unload what I had loaded onto the truck already, and help Liz finish getting what she needed. I then took the truck back to New Tampa and dropped it off. Liz took some things to Amanda’s house and they got Pizza for dinner. I got back from New Tampa to Amanda’s house around 8pm. I ate and helped get the kids to bed and left around 9:30. I spent the night alone at our old house since we still had most of our things in there. I didn’t want to leave it all there alone.

I got up this morning and came to work a little early so I could eat breakfast in the break room, since they provide pastries and bagels and such every Friday morning. Liz originally left me some milk so I could have some cereal for breakfast, but forgot to leave me some cereal. So I was stuck at the house with no food. I had a bagel and creme cheese for breakfast along with a yummy cheese danish.

I then got a call this morning from our realtor again with a few updates. Apparently I was not told of two more repairs to our house the buyers wanted done. Now I have to patch one more crack in the garage floor (which is normal in FL for a new house) and replace the air filter in the return on our hallway. The buyer is going to do his walkthrough on Monday while the appraiser is there.

So now we have reserved the moving truck for Saturday and Sunday just in case. Hopefully on Saturday we can get all of our stuff moved out of the house into the garage of the new house. I am meeting my realtor to get the truck at 9am tomorrow morning. This should be a fun weekend! And its killing me, I have that nice 57″ TV sitting in the new garage and no way to play with it until Wednesday! 😦 Maybe I will take my DVD player and some cables with me tonight and hook it up just to see it play. I’m so impatient.]]>

Typical Florida Summer Weather

Well we are back into the swing of things with the weather again. I forgot how much it rains in the summer around here. Every day for the past I few weeks (seems like more), its rained. We’ve had some loud thunderstorms and lots of rain. We had a dry “winter” but we are making up for it now. My back yard floods every time it rains. All this rain poses a problem for grass cutting. It might be a nice day in the morning and afternoon, but come 5pm when I go home from work, you better believe its going to be raining. So my options, cut the grass when its wet (yuck) or do it in the morning on a weekend. The last option isn’t so hot either as its damp from the dew in the AM on the weekend. So I have to wait until about 11am (almost) to cut the grass unless I don’t mind doing it with the grass wet. My yard is going to be the amazon if I can’t get it cut. Maybe when the kids are grown they can help out with this, by cutting the grass for me during times like this.

Beautiful Weather

Its so nice to be in Florida in early spring. I know its not officially spring yet, but the temperatures and general weather conditions are so comfortable! I love living in Tampa, spring and fall are so nice, and its great having a winter where the temperatures hardly ever fall below 40. The grass is starting to come back to life, and things are getting greener and greener every day. The sky is a beautiful blue and there is almost always a nice tropical breeze. On my drive to and from work, there are beautiful scenes of palm trees here and there, blowing gently in the breeze. I just hope this hurricane season continues the trend and leaves Tampa alone!

Beach houses

Looks like we might be meeting up with some family in the coming months of summer at a beach house somewhere half way between Florida and Delaware. Hopefully we can find a place thats reasonable, get a reservation and have about a week where we can hang out and do fun things. I still have lots of details to work out and very little time to work on it, but hopefully we will actually get a family vacation setup soon. Imagine that.