Tuesday, June 24, 2008


It's so far been a summer of rushing and then waiting, running around for a few days and then sitting on our butts for a week or two. We're still waiting for all the pre-house-buying pieces to come together, and while I've started filling out the requisite paperwork I'm otherwise without much to do as far as prep work for the fall; my office and lab are being revamped/constructed over the next few weeks, and since we'll be out of town for most of July it seems silly to get too involved in anything, anyway.

I should be working, at least a little bit, and getting some lecture materials and labs together. I'm not feeling much motivation, though. We'll be staying close to home instead of doing anything particularly exciting for a summer vacation, so I should have plenty of time to get things done.

I feel like I'm in limbo, just watching time pass until I have things I actually have to get done. It's not so bad, really, and I should probably be enjoying it more than I am!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

when should we learn how to teach?

Since lining up a job I've been attending various workshops on teaching, research, and random professional development. These vary from programs directed at graduate students to those directed at faculty members, and while they're all helpful to some extent I find the latter much more useful and educational. However, as a pre-faculty member I find myself absorbing a lot and contributing very little, and I have to wonder whether I would have been better served (and a better participant) if I had waited until AFTER my first teaching year before I attended larger-scale professional workshops.

Other people commented that they wish they had done workshops earlier...before their third or fourth year on faculty. So when is the best time? Am I doing it right, getting the workshops in before I ever have a chance to mess with younger minds? Or would I have more to learn if I had already spent a year teaching and knew some of what I had done wrong the first time?

I'm not sorry I went early, but I'm not sure what I would suggest to a peer if they asked me whether they should do the same.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Homeowner's Insurance: check
Inspectors: contacted
Mortgage Loan: in the works

Walked through all the local hardware stores spouting plans for the future: check

Paperwork is such a pain, particularly when you've been a grad student on a fellowship with paperless everything. I'm hoping my PDF printouts actually count.

Now it's time for the mid-June return to City, where we will have music and food and people for the weekend, and then I'm off for a week of scholarly doings and seeing more people I never get to see.

My next big decision: July vacation? And if so: very local, fly far away, or drive to mid-range place-with-bugs for backpacking?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


We offered, they countered. We countered their counter, and they accepted! Tomorrow: mortgage broker. And if all goes well, we close in August!

Monday, June 9, 2008


This morning we did another walk-through of House #1 (see post below), to remind ourselves of what it actually looked like and make sure there were no serious issues we had overlooked (that we could see, anyway!). And then, finding no reasons to change our minds, we made an offer.

Tomorrow morning we'll see what they counter...in the meantime I get to freak out over spending several times my future yearly salary all in one shot.

Friday, June 6, 2008

making decisions

We went out for our second session this morning, looking for houses we could love. And we may have found one. I'm scared to say that, since the thing came on the market yesterday and could be swept away by Monday, I suppose, which is when we hope to see it again and make a final decision on whether we want to make an offer. Hopefully that won't happen, but as much as I hate to put any emotional stock in things like this, I always end up doing it anyway. We'll call this House 1.

We also have another in mind, which is a much much different house that we like for very different reasons. We'll call this House 2.

For anyone who would like to give first-time home-buyers their two cents, here are my lists:

House 1


- In town, in a nice neighborhood a quick bike ride from work
- cute front porch, cute back deck (I could have a porch swing!!)
- lots of recent upgrades mean we wouldn't have to do anything unless we wanted to
- wood floor throughout, and I liked the floor plan
- nicest bathroom we've seen, cool kitchen with original leaded glass
- Two-car garage PLUS a heated workshop and a shed/garden area, in addition to decent yard
- Nice decorating, would only need minimal wallpaper removal/crack fixing


- No bathroom on main floor, toilet in the otherwise not very useful basement
- Appliances (except for dishwasher) are "negotiable" and theoretically would cost us
- Taxes are higher
- Driveway and garage floor need to be fixed/repoured
- only a gas fireplace

House 2


- full acre of land in a QUIET wooded area, very vacation-home feel
- Great three-season room plus a patio, huge space for gardening
- Fruit trees and lot of veggie plants (rhubarb, asparagus) already established
- All appliances included, which includes fridge, dishwasher, stove/oven, a giant freezer, washer/drier, and potentially a riding mower
- If I actually biked to work, I wouldn't need to do much else to stay in decent shape.
- It's been on the market for a while, so we could probably get it for maybe 10k less than House 1 (they have similar listing prices)
- Big (two car but two garage doors) garage with a workshop area on the side
- Two fireplaces: wood and gas.
- A piece of land in a developing area near a country club = great resale potential.
- Out of town means we can do stuff like install solar panels without getting in trouble


- Front would need some updating: has awnings and cement stairs that I hate.
- Interior is dated: I would want a new sink in the main bath, potentially enclose the basement toilet and shower into an actual bathroom, and put in new kitchen counters. Wood paneling on walls might have to go in some rooms, and eventually replace carpet/vinyl flooring throughout. But Partner could do most of this, and it could wait until we wanted to do it.
- Well water from a (we think!) community well, which may or may not be a bad thing
- Part of the acre isn't very useful - the yard slopes significantly into a gully out back (as a plus, that gully guarantees that no one will build behind or ruin our wooded view, and the land to one side is for the well, so no neighbor there either)
- small (2 bedroom), so we would definitely have to upgrade if we had a kid over age three (not that this is really a concern pre-tenure).

We were both kinda torn between the two. But we think being in town might end up being more convenient, assuming we have a house we like in a good area. I guess it's good to have options.

And of course there's always the additional assumption that our pre-approval will turn into an actual loan!

It's going to be an interesting week...

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

phase two

We're finally on to the next stage of our summer: subletting and looking for a house! New Home Town is relatively quiet compared to the City we came from, but we're decently busy despite the lack of "entertainment" options (we were warned repeatedly that we would be bored out of our minds).

The house hunt has begun, and as with most house hunts we're probably going to be bumping our price range by a few ten thousand bucks. Funny how that seems like nothing at all when you're talking about a hundred thousand dollars. Am I really ready for that kind of debt? Hmm. Maybe then I'll feel like a real American.

The search will continue. The questions:

- how good a trade is more land for a smaller house size?
- how much work do we really want to do on an older home?
- do we really need a shower that isn't in the basement? (this is actually common)
- in town or out of town?

I'm hoping that something will jump out at me at some point; I'd rather spend a little more on something I think I can love than spend a decent amount on something I think will do just fine!