September 30, 2004

Dave's Colon, Part II

Dave O. has updated us with his report on his class at the language school I recommended to him. Phew! Looks like it went well for him.

Posted by Shelby at 11:15 PM

Whoa, Was That a Stop Sign?

I discovered today that the city has installed not one but two brand new stop signs in our neighborhood. It's a good thing I was paying attention because I almost blew the first one off completely. Well, this makes navigating through the neighborhood a little more difficult, which I suppose is the point.

Good news from the ENT--my hearing is indeed completely back. She said she'd had a number of people come in lately with nerve-relating hearing loss and that I was one of only a few whose hearing came back. Phew! Close call there.

No word yet from the appraisal.

Posted by Shelby at 03:26 PM

Dave's Colon

Dave O, a fellow ex-pat American I met in Germany, has taken my recommendation and attended a class at Colón language school (that's pronouced like the perfume, not the intestine). Be sure to catch part one of his saga. (Part II coming soon, I hope)

Colón's web page cracks me up. The text starts out saying, "We would like to inform you about our program of German as a foreign Language." Then again, English is one of the languages they offer, so they obviously don't use those English teachers to edit their web page.

Posted by Shelby at 12:10 AM

September 28, 2004

Some News, Finally

The appraisal is going to take place on Thursday. Hooray! Unfortunately it's scheduled for basically the same time as my follow up ENT appointment, so I'll have to miss it. But at least we know when it's finally happening. This last week has positively dragged by.

And speaking of the ENT, I believe that my hearing is 100% back. I don't have the muffled feeling anymore and haven't noticed any deficiency like I had before. Looks like the third round of steroids was the right thing to do. I'll know for sure on Thursday but if I have any residual hearing loss, it's so minor that I will never even miss it.

Posted by Shelby at 04:19 PM | Comments (1)

September 27, 2004

Grrrr--People who Don't Call Back

So no movement on the house issue today. The seller's agent Meghan contacted Tom, our agent, pointing out that their counter offer requested the appraisal be done 7 days from our acceptance, which was last Tuesday. Well sure it's been 7 calendar days but appraisers and loan people don't work on the weekends, and the documentation they were supposed to provide for us (their release from their previous escrow) on Tuesday didn't get to us until Thursday. So a little flexibility is in order here, don't you think?

Anyway, Kevin called E*Trade to pursue the appraisal (we're waiting for them to pick the appraiser and send him/her out) but our E*Trade rep told us she'd call back with an update. Or not. No further word from her. *sigh*

Posted by Shelby at 06:24 PM | Comments (3)

September 25, 2004

A Disappointing Evening

Well tonight was a bust. We decided to go to Alpine Village, a big thingy off of the freeway in Torrance that is supposed to be a little taste of the Old Country. They're having Oktoberfest, so why not? Well now we know why not. First we went into the small grocery store. I was heartened to see some familiar names (Haribo, for example, and Maggi) but on the whole was unimpressed. I certainly wasn't left with the feeling of being in Germany again. Plus half of the food they had were in packages with English and French on them. They did have chocolate covered marshmallows, but not Dickmann's (warning, if you click on that link there's a scary singing guy). Their wine selection was dismal and their beer selection pretty paltry though I did spot some familiar names like Bitburger (Bitte ein Bit!) (scary music on that site too).

I'd heard that they had good baked goods but they lacked some of the most German of German things--no Oma's Apfelkuchen! No Berliners! No Streuselkuchen! You call this German?

We then veered past a couple of other very scary looking shops to head to the beer garden area. That's where the horror truly began. Luckily we'd printed out free tickets from the web (5 bucks to get in!) and then we got inside. There was a pretty sad turnout despite it being 7:00 on a Saturday. There was a small stage with men in Lederhosen playing some polkas. We checked out the beer (served in giant styrofoam cups--what is Oktoberfest without a stein???) and the food. The bratwurst was $9.95 (that's 8.10 Euro for my German readers). Mein Gott! And I thought paying 4 Euro for a wurst at the Dom was expensive! We pretty much looked at each other and then couldn't get out there fast enough. Thank God we had free tickets to get it. I would have cried otherwise.

We then decided to eat somewhere I've passed a million times but never eaten at--Koo Koo Roo. I'm not sure what I was really expecting but this wasn't it. It was kind of like an El Pollo Loco without the Mexican bent. Basically fast food. I had the chicken caesar wrap and while the chicken itself was flavorful, it wasn't something to write home about. Kevin had a 3 piece meal that would have left even Scout hungry. Won't be going back there again.

Posted by Shelby at 09:39 PM | Comments (2)

September 23, 2004

No News, Again

Nothing new to add.

Had a wonderful dinner with my friend Cari tonight. Prior to my moving down here I got to see her like once every 2-3 years despite the fact that we've been friends for the last 13 years. It's so nice to be close to people.

And I got carded at dinner! I was like "Oh, you're so nice!" to my waitress.

Posted by Shelby at 12:02 AM

September 20, 2004

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

We just got back from seeing Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Great movie! It had the best final scene I've ever seen in my whole life. Kevin got to geek out the whole time and the visuals were stunning. This movie should be seen on the big screen. It's really a lot of fun.

The only part I didn't like was a reference to the Matrix. Other than that, go see it!

Posted by Shelby at 11:18 PM

Los Angeles Trivia

Did you grow up in Southern California in the 80s? I was thinking about all of the jingles, commercials, and locations we used to hear about on tv all the time. Do you remember the following things? (leave your answers in the comments, then click on the extended entry for the answers) (well they're not all from the 80s but see how many you can identify)

1. "There's a mountain, far away. And we go up there, every day." What do we go up there to get?

2. "__________, Long Beach freeway, Firestone exit, Southgate."

3. On the 91 freeway in Orange County you used to be able to see a giant K. What was the K for and what structure was it on top of?

4. What sounded like "Pussycow" actually meant _______.

5. What major sporting event featured Sam the Eagle?

6. What is located where the 10 and 210 freeways meet in San Dimas?

7. "___________, 91 freeway, Lakewood exit, Bellflower."

8. "It's ____________ and his dog Spot!" Who is this person, and what was Spot?

9. "Me and ______ _______ makin' friends."

10. What grocery store chain's jingle talked about "the heartland of California"?

11. LA used to have two professional teams in this sport. One team moved North, the other to the Midwest. What sport was this and what were the teams?

12. Who are Fritz and Fred?

13. What term for a major traffic jam originated in Los Angeles?

14. What do you call the weather phenomenon of a hot wind in the fall or winter?

Can you think of any others? Leave them in the comments too!

Did you grow up in Southern California in the 80s? I was thinking about all of the jingles, commercials, and locations we used to hear about on tv all the time. Do you remember the following things? (leave your answers in the comments, then click on the extended entry for the answers) (well they're not all from the 80s but see how many you can identify)

1. "There's a mountain, far away. And we go up there, every day." What do we go up there to get? Answer: Arrowhead Water

2. "__________, Long Beach freeway, Firestone exit, Southgate." Answer: Pete Ellis Dodge

3. On the 91 freeway in Orange County you used to be able to see a giant K. What was the K for and what structure was it on top of? Answer: Knott's Berry Farm, on top of the Parachute ride

4. What sounded like "Pussycow" actually meant _______. Answer: Go See Cal

5. What major sporting event featured Sam the Eagle? Answer: The 1984 Olympics

6. What is located where the 10 and 210 freeways meet in San Dimas? Answer: Raging Waters

7. "___________, 91 freeway, Lakewood exit, Bellflower." Answer: Pete Ellis Ford

8. "It's ____________ and his dog Spot!" Who is this person, and what was Spot? Answer: Cal Worthington, and Spot was various exotic animals like a tiger or an elephant.

9. "Me and ______ _______ makin' friends." Answer: Sparklett's Water

10. What grocery store chain's jingle talked about "the heartland of California"? Answer: Stater Bros.

11. LA used to have two professional teams in this sport. One team moved North, the other to the Midwest. What sport was this and what were the teams? Answer: Football, the Rams and the Raiders

12. Who are Fritz and Fred? Answer: Fritz Coleman is KNBC's weatherman and Fred Roggin is their sportscaster.

13. What term for a major traffic jam originated in Los Angeles? Answer: a SigAlert

14. What do you call the weather phenomenon of a hot wind in the fall or winter? Answer: Santa Ana Condition

Can you think of any others? Leave them in the comments too!

Posted by Shelby at 06:41 PM | Comments (1)

Poor Scouter

She's off to VetSmart right now. Unfortunately we don't have a vet here in the area so I hope the VetSmart one is good (that's the vet that's inside of PetSmart).

I think Scout has a urinary tract infection. This morning she was positively frantic in her efforts to get outside every 5 minutes. She paced the house and scratched the doors (her signal to us) no matter how often Kevin took her out. Each time she would pee, but only a little and appeared to be struggling. When they went out later in the morning for a walk, Kevin said they only made it up to the end of the street because Scout had to dribble at every lawn. We also noticed some blood in her urine.

It's weird because it seems to have cleared itself up. She has been calm and untroubled for the past several hours so maybe it just worked its way out of her system. Still, I don't want to get stuck in a situation where she's desperate again like this morning and we'll be SOL until tomorrow morning. So Kevin's going to take her in. Let's hope we can get this all straightened out quickly. Poor little pup.

Well as it turns out, our PetSmart doesn't have a VetSmart. So Scout got her teeth brushed and a new chewy and new bag of kibble at PetSmart and now they're off again to a walk-in vet nearby.

The vet was unable to get a urine sample from Scout but said she had the classic symptoms of a UTI so we got some antibiotics for her. We've already shoved the first one down her throat with relative ease so that's good. Let's hope she'll be feeling better soon.

Posted by Shelby at 03:26 PM

September 19, 2004


Well shiver me timbers, it's Talk Like a Pirate Day! What kind o'lass would I be forgettin' such an important day? I'd be nothin' but a bilge rat crawlin' up out of the bung hole if I let t'is day pass me by, mateys. So give your buxom beauty an Arrrrrrr tonight and talk like a pirate!

Posted by Shelby at 09:38 PM

I Got the Munchies!

I'm on a higher dose of the steroids for my ear this time around and it's time to admit it--I got the munchies. Big time. The doctor warned me about this but I thought it wouldn't happen because it didn't last time, but man oh man, I'm like munch-o-rama here. It's definitely time for dinner, then a trip to the store to stock up on munchie material. Weight gain, shmeight gain--I gotta feed the addiction, man. It's like crack. Kevin dared to mention that feeding the munchies might not be a good idea but I warned him that if he denied me, that 'roid rage might just come out after all.

As far as the house goes, things are incrementally moving forward. Their counter offer was their original asking price (as Kevin said, I don't know why we bother moving our mouths). Really we're not opposed to paying the asking price IF that's what the house is really worth. But we have our doubts. I seriously think we're going to run into the same situation as the Birch street house, where it appraises for less than the agreed upon amount. Well the bank will only lend us as much money as the appraisal says the house is worth (which makes sense) but that leaves US to make up the difference in cash. And I don't know about you, but we don't have that kind of cash sitting around waiting to be spent on this. Our available cash is going straight to the down payment, with just a little left over to buy some badly needed furniture (like replacing the couch we sold at our garage sale).

So Tom expressed our concerns to their agent. Their agent is young and, I believe, rather ambitious and naive. She sent us 6 "comps" to "prove" the value of the house. Well two of those comps are still in escrow and we have no idea what their final sale price would be. Two of the remaining comps have "income property" in their back yards (that would be renovated garages or mother in law units they're renting out to tenants--clearly not a comparable situation here), and one comp is not even in the neighborhood but is sitting on 1/4 an acre of property. They are hardly what I would consider comparable to this house in question.

So our counter is this: we will arrange an appraisal first thing. If the appraisal comes out at the asking price, we will pay for the appraisal (around $300) and will move forward with the inspection and escrow process. If the house does NOT appraise for the asking price, THEY pay for the appraisal, and if they're not willing to renegotiate the price at that point (based on the appraised value) then we pull out. We got screwed on the Birch street house and we're not letting it happen again. If they're so confident that their asking price is what the house is worth, then this shouldn't be any problem for them. We're willing to pay for the appraisal and we're willing to pay for the asking price, provided those two numbers agree. I think it's a very reasonable offer.

We submitted it this afternoon and should hear back by Tuesday (or going by their previous prompt response history, we'll probably hear back Wednesday or Thursday). Anyway, we'll see how this comes out.

I'm really trying to detach myself from this house and not let myself fall in love with it or get my hopes up until we get this issue worked out. It was just too heartbreaking last time to have the house pulled out from under us after getting so far into the process. So while I would really love to own this house and live there, I'm trying not to dwell on it or get excited about it at least until we clear this appraisal hurdle.

Posted by Shelby at 06:23 PM

September 18, 2004


Apparently a counter offer was faxed to our agent's office instead of his direct fax line. Tom is going to retrieve it now and soon we'll know what it says. Let's hope they're reasonable.

Posted by Shelby at 04:42 PM | Comments (1)

No News

No word yet from the agent regarding our offer that expired last night at 8:00. Grrrrr. Kevin even called their agent (in addition to Tom's calls) and left a message saying, in a nice way, "Do you want to sell this fucking house or what?!" He was a little more tactful than I would have been which is why he got the job. Hopefully we'll hear something soon.

But boy am I learning the value of a good agent. Pick your agents carefully--buyer and seller. The agents really do the majority of the work selling the house, and if your agent is lazy or unprofessional, you'll lose out.

Posted by Shelby at 01:32 PM

September 17, 2004

Amazing Amazon

This item seems a little overpriced, but check out the reviews!

Hat tip to Dave.

Sorry, I'm seeing some people aren't understanding the joke here. Guess you have to be a techno-nerd to get it. The item is a WiFi card that should be priced under $100. Instead Amazon has a ridiculously high price for it due to, we imagine, an computer glitch. Two people have posted sarcastic reviews that I found were funny. So that's the joke. It's not as funny as it would have been without the explanation.

Posted by Shelby at 02:18 PM | Comments (2)

September 16, 2004

Another Ear Update

I just got back from the ENT with good news this time. I have regained most of my hearing in the problem ear. There is still some minor hearing loss, however, so the doctor presented me with a choice. I could either live with it the way it is, or I could try another 2 weeks on the steroids with the hope of getting the rest of it back. The steroids can have some nasty side effects, but I decided to go for it anyway. I didn't experience any major side effects the first 2 times I was on the 'roids, and the fact that they helped this time around indicates that they could do the trick and bring all of my hearing back, which would be cool. And even if they didn't, I wouldn't be any worse off than I am right now, so why not? I feel optimistic, but even if I'm left the way things are now it's really not bad and hardly noticeable. So I'm happy about that.

We made an offer on another house in Anaheim (practically within walking distance of Disneyland) this morning. They have until tomorrow evening to respond. This is a house we saw about 3 weeks ago and loved it, but they already had an offer and accepted it before we got a chance to go any further. Well that offer fell out of escrow because the buyer had planned to get a 0 down payment loan and...surprise...didn't qualify. Oh the times, they are a-changin' on those home loan things. Rates are starting to rise and the competition is lessening, so their loss is our gain. Since we are fully approved for our loan and we have actual money to put down as a down payment, I think we're a much more attractive offer. Also, the sellers have already purchased a house in Corona, so they are in real estate terms as "motivated."

Let's hope this one goes through for us. We're pretty tired of looking and this house is very cute. It's a historic house, built in 1906 but moved to its current location in 1995 along with a bunch of other historic houses. This makes for two things--one is a really cute neighborhood with houses that are all in good condition, and two, when it was moved it got a new foundation, new roof, updated electrical, all copper plumbing, and a totally modernized kitchen which is, as you might imagine, pretty tough to find in older houses. And to top it all off--it has a jacuzzi! So keep your fingers crossed this time around.

Posted by Shelby at 05:40 PM | Comments (1)

September 13, 2004


I just wasted 45 minutes of my time watching the new NBC show "LAX."

That's 45 minutes I'll never get back again.

Posted by Shelby at 10:45 PM | Comments (1)

September 11, 2004

And the News Is...

There's no news. Nothing to report the last few days. Sorry.

We went driving around Pasadena and Alhambra today. We drove through San Marino--whooo-weeee, would I love to live here. We saw a cute house in Pasadena that we thought was in our price range and is holding an open house tomorrow, but then it turned out that it's actually $100,000 above our price range so that one's out. Anyway, more looking tomorrow.

Trying not to get discouraged. Not easy.

Posted by Shelby at 09:56 PM | Comments (2)

September 08, 2004

The Ear, Part Four

So I finally went to the ENT today for my ear. There's some good news and some bad news.

Good news: The infection, pressure, and fluid are all gone
Bad news: I have some high frequency hearing loss

Good news: The steroids that I was on cleared up a lot of the hearing loss
Bad news: The rest of it might be permanent

So I'm back on the steroids for another week. Since they helped the first time, the ENT felt that they could be really helpful again in clearing up this final bit of hearing loss. I'll have another hearing test next week and we'll see for sure. The doctor said the hearing loss was cochlear (inner ear) but considered it "mild" and confined to a small number of high frequency sounds that aren't used very often.

I suppose this means that I won't be able to hear the upper register of Scout's nighttime whines (she is refusing to sleep in her crate and gets very mouthy when we insist on it).

Posted by Shelby at 05:59 PM

September 07, 2004

The Advantage of Travel Agents

We got a call from my brother Brad and his family who were taking an extended cruise in the Carribbean. They disembarked in Tampa and are all set to go for their flight home. I tell you, it's a really nice thing to have a travel agent in the family. Mom was able to rebook their flights (they had originally planned on leaving from Orlando) and while the rest of the cruise passengers had to struggle to find spaces on crowded flights home, they didn't have to worry.

I've done this several times before, when I lived in the Midwest and came home for holidays. My flight would be cancelled and all of the passengers were herded en masse to the ticket counter to fight for seats on other flights. But for me, I'd call Mom as soon as the flight was cancelled and she'd rebook me from work. So I'd wait in the hours long lines and get up to the counter where the agent would say "I'm sorry, all of the flights are full...oh look, here you are in the computer!"

There are definitely perks to using a travel agent. While Kevin and I book most of our trips ourselves on the web, I still recommend travel agents to my friends. And here's a secret hint--if you're ever cancelled or unduly delayed, call your agent right away before you get in line. You just may get a flight when everyone else has to stay the night.

Posted by Shelby at 02:10 PM | Comments (3)

September 04, 2004

More House Hunting

More tromping around in the heat looking at houses. Stupid me wore jeans. As usual, we saw some very interesting houses. We stopped at an open house by following the signs and the house was truly frightening. It had 4 bedrooms downstairs and "one bedroom upstairs" which was clearly turned into a small apartment probably for their illegal alien servants or something. And the house was PACKED with stuff. Yikes. People really need to clear out their crap before holding any open houses or showing the place. It really does make a big difference.

We did see one possibility. I'm not getting too excited about it because of the Birch Street fiasco, but it's in a very desirable neighborhood in Santa Ana. It's pretty unassuming from the outside but the main living area is breathtaking and the kitchen is absolutely to die for. Unfortunately it's at the top of our price range and it's only been on the market for 2 days so I don't know how open the owners would be to our lowball offer. Like the Birch Street house, our agent's initial investigation into comps in the neighborhood seems that it couldn't appraise for the asking price, but as we well learned, owners can be stubborn about what they think it's worth. Tom is going to feel them out tomorrow morning about our potential offer. They're also having an open house tomorrow which may bring flocks of people (and flocks of offers) their way. So we'll just have to wait and see.

Posted by Shelby at 11:55 PM | Comments (1)

How to Get a 7 Day Cruise for the Price of 5?

Hurricane Frances, that's how! My brother, sister in law, and two nieces are on a Carribbean cruise that was supposed to return today. However, given the current situation with Frances they'll be unable to dock in Tampa and are circling at sea until it's safe, which could be as late as Tuesday.

Those poor, poor things. Stuck on a Carnival cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico. Your heart just breaks.

Posted by Shelby at 11:29 AM | Comments (1)

September 03, 2004

Back to the Doctor

Remember that bad ear infection and total hearing loss I had? Well I still have it. It's been going on for 2.5 weeks and while the pain and pressure have lessened, I still can't hear shit and it's driving me crazy.

This has been my timeline:

Thursday, August 19: Ear checks out. No estimated date of return

Two days later, Saturday, August 21: I take my ear to the doctor and am prescribed Biaxin, an antiobotic in the same family as erythromyacin

One week later, Friday, August 27: No improvement at ALL. I take my ear back to the doctor and he surmises that the infection is antibiotic-resistant to that class of antibiotics. He pulls out the "atomic antibiotic"--Avelox, as well as Flonase (a nasal spray) and Claritin-D (over the counter allergy and sinus medicine). He predicts my hearing will return in 3 days.

Four days later, Tuesday, August 31: Still no hearing. I decide to give it a few more days.

Three days later, Friday, September 3 (today): Still no hearing. Less pain and pressure but the hearing thing is driving me nuts. I take my ear back to the doctor and luckily got the same doctor this time. It's a walk in clinic, and as I gave my name to the registrar, she said, "Weren't you here last week?" and I said "Yep, and the week before too."

Anyway the doctor says he sees definite improvement in the infection, but the ear is still totally stopped up with fluid that despite the 3 medications I'm on has failed to drain. He thinks that inflammation is causing the problem so he puts me on a course of steriods which act as an anti-inflammatory.

Woo hoo--Roid Rage!

He also says "there's nothing more I can do for you" and gives me a referral to an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor. I have a follow-up appointment with the ENT on Wednesday. He also, probably wisely, declined to speculate on how long it might take for my hearing to come back this time around.

After Wednesday I will have been to the doctor FOUR times including a specialist. All this from what seemed like a harmless cold and sore throat! I can hardly believe it. At least most of the pain has gone away.

Posted by Shelby at 11:24 PM

September 01, 2004

By Special Request

I received the following wonderful comment:

HI Shelby, i hope it is OK for you if I read your Block. I found your site in google during the searching some Infos about beagles. From this time I visit your side fast every day and I like very much your writing style, your way to be open an to talk to the world (I dont understand all, becours of my english, but if your could write some time in german.. it could be great!!!! I wish you vom hanzen herzen to find your Traum-Haus.

Best wishes,
your Internet reading-Fan Ira

So here goes...

Hallo Ira!
Vielen Dank für das Ablesen meines Blog! Ich schreibe English weil ich kein Deutsch sprechen. Ich spreche nur ein bißchen Deutsch und es ist sehr schlecht. Aber für Sie, ich versuche! Als wir sind in Deutschland gelebt, es war sehr schwierig für mich. Aber ich hatte Spaß. Unser Hund Scout war in Deutschland mit uns und sie hatte Spaß auch. Scout sprichst Deutsch--"Vau Vau!" Beagles sind sehr intelligent.

Okay, all of you fluent German speakers out there--no corrections! I did this all on my own with a little help from Google remembering some words. So no making fun of my effort. Click below to read what I was trying to say.

Hello Ira!
Thank you very much for reading my blog! I write English because I don't speak any German. I speak only a little German and it is very bad. But for you, I will try. When we were living in Germany, it was very difficult for me. But I had fun. Our dog Scout was in Germany with us and she had fun too. Scout speaks German--"Vau Vau!" Beagles are very smart.

Vau Vau is how Germans say Woof Woof or Bow Wow or Arf Arf or whatever dog noise you want to make.

Tschuß doesn't have a direct translation but is a word used in Northern Germany to say see you later or until next time.

Posted by Shelby at 06:30 PM | Comments (1)