Category Archives: Around the House

9/14/2017: House Hunting: Delaware

This coming weekend, Kelly and I will be looking at houses in Delaware, and the two main locations are Selbyville and Lewes. Each have their pros and cons, so the recon should provide a lot more information for us to decide. We are basically looking for a smaller house with a little bit of land (1/2 acre or so) and a two car garage along with close proximity to the beaches, restaurants and daily shops such as grocery stores and gas stations. To my surprise, we have seen several houses that meet this criteria for sale, and hopefully, the visit will show that the houses are as nice as the online pictures show.

The Selbyville homes are between 3 to 5 miles away from the beaches which are at the Delaware\Maryland line, and the Lewes homes are similar distance from the beaches. Just like any house hunt, each house meets our criteria a little different, but I think we will be able to find something that suits our needs, and once found, Kelly and I will need to work through the “to buy” or “not to buy” decision.

Why Delaware… The big reason for a Delaware house is to lower our overall cost of living. Northern Virginia has high property tax rates, and in general, has many taxes which eat at your earnings, and when you spread these costs over 10, 20 and 30 years, they add up to a substantial amount. By eliminating many of these taxes, our earnings and savings will go farther into retirement. we will also be looking at the prices of different items this weekend to include gas, groceries and other cost of living items which will allow us to compare to Northern Virginia. At initial glance, we should be able to lower our cost of living substantially by moving to Delaware.

09/06/2017: Busy, Busy and Decisions, Decisions

Well, it has been a good little while since my last post, and while I was thinking about the lack of postings, I have been busy with a few different items that will\may impact some life decisions in the near term.

Kelly was on her yearly vacation with her family in Ocean City, MD; so, we decided to meet up during the middle weekend in Fenwick Island, DE. I got a decent room in a hotel that allowed dogs which means Buddy and Circe also enjoyed a weekend away with a lot of new items to smell and pee on. The weekend flew by, but between my weekend visit and her two weeks, I feel we turned the corner on lining up our exit plan from our current work situations.

Since we over analyze everything, working through the plan on getting out of our current work situation will take a few\many items to get aligned before we pull the ejection handle. The initial big item is what area we would like to retire to, and expenses are a big item on this decision. In general, we like the area we currently live in Northern Virginia, and due to the money in the area, it would benefit for a business plan I’ll mention later; however, the property values are relatively high, so the property taxes are a big chunk of money every year ($5000/year). Besides Northern Virginia, we are also interested in the Eastern Shore area that would include the greater Ocean City, MD area and the “lower and slower” Delaware area.

There are a lot of options in the OC MD area, and we particularly like the area just west of the Route 50 bridge. This area would provide easy access to OC MD attractions, but also provide us easy access to part time jobs to generate income, but like NoVA, Maryland has high taxes. The last area is in the southern Delaware area, and there are a few obvious options to include Rehobeth, Bethany, Dewey and Lewes, but there a other options that are West of the main north\south road that area attractive, and in general Delaware has much lower taxes to include to sales tax and no tax on Social Security. The trade off between Maryland and Delaware is that Maryland homes seems to be less expansive than Delaware homes, but the long term tax impacts are mush higher in MD.

Kelly has been really looking into the housing situation in the above mentioned areas, so time will tell what we decide to do. I feel that we area still a few years away before any type of move, but we do like to plan and try to eliminate any surprised in the long run.

Besides housing, the other item we are working through is income. We don’t want to get stuck at home because a lack of money, so we are working through ways to bring in money with stuff we enjoy versus going to “the daily grind” in a cube farm.

First way we are creating income is buy purchasing dividend paying stocks. I have been working on this for a few years, and I have been making good progress over the years. My goal is to cover our taxes and insurance from the dividends which allows us to control our discretionary expenses. I need a few more years to reach my initial dividend goal, but I’m getting there.

The next option, which we just recently tried out, is to build a business on refurbishing furniture, building metal sculptures\furniture and reselling antiques. Kelly rented a 10×10 space at a local antique fair, and in general we did pretty well. We learned a lot of things over the weekend, and I know it gave me confidence that we can do this type of business to create additional income. During the weekend, we did meet a great retired couple who does this type of business for exactly the reasons we are looking into it. They basically said that they create a little extra income, and since they shop for items\antiques while on vacation, they are written off as business trips. After the weekend, I really feel that we will be pursuing this in the coming months\years with hopes that it works out and turns into a real side business.

Well that is a long post for me, so I would expect a change in the type of posts you see on this sight and maybe even a little redesign to align with our new direction.

7/17/2017: My Dogs

I did not do too much this weekend, so I relaxed around the house with my dogs. Circe, the brown dog, is almost 14 years old. She is showing signs of old age, but she is still a crazy dog. When she is not napping, she on guard and patrols the back yard for any critter that is not part of her “pack”, and over the years, she has done a masterful job of keeping the yard clear of unwanted critters.

Buddy, the black dog, has been a member of the pack for almost three years. We got him after the passing of Circe’s brother, Rocco. When we got him, he was around 6 years old and had a pretty tough go of it. He was well taken care of at the Antietam Humane Society for 6 months when we meet him. It took him a long time to adjust and trust us, but in the last 18 months, he has really became a part of the family. The biggest change is his love for walks and truck rides. When we first got him, he was terrified of rides and walks, but now, he is so excited for them.

6/02/2017: June Already

I can’t believe it is already June…

The Memorial day weekend was a good one. I didn’t mind the rain as it gave me an excuse to veg out in the house a little, and I made up for it on a sunny Monday. The Sunday of the holiday weekend was spent with the “in law” side of the family with a cookout welcoming a nephew home from Afghanistan while serving in the Army. It was good to see him and all of the other folks. The Monday was a nice sunny day, so we got a lot of stuff done around the house. One of the highlights was that I got to use the torch setup. We have three metal kettles that we want to turn into planters, so I burned a drain hole in the bottom of the kettles, and there is a metal liner remnant from a decomm’ed well that stuck up above ground level that I torched off. It has been 25+ years since I used a torch, so for the first little bit, I was a little nervous, but it did not take too long to get comfortable with the torch again.

Yesterday was my birthday, so I have successfully made another trip around the sun pretty successfully. Here is to many more…

One of my co-workers has a little welding job for me to try out. He has a broken telescope mount which is made from cast aluminum. Everything I have read about cast aluminum is that it is a pain to weld, so this may not be the best “first” weld job for someone else, but I’ll give it a shot. Fortunately, the piece is relatively clean, so I should be able to get it prepped for TIGing with out too many issues.


Things I Learned Today:

1. NASCAR of today continues to prove that it is unwatchable. I grew up watching NASCAR in the 70s\80s and spent way too many Sunday afternoons watching NASCAR through the 90s; however, the current NASCAR racing is just dreadful to watch. I think it is a combination of a drawn out schedule, stupid long races and horrible announcers (they need more Chris Economaki). Not to mention the perception (or reality) of intentional drama by “well placed” yellow flags. It is bad and boring racing to watch.

2. AFC North is just a bad division this year. As a life long Steeler fan, it is hard to see the AFC North teams struggle this bad during the season. Even in off years for the Steelers, the AFC North is typically a feared division to play; however, this year they are getting beat up by the other divisions (such as NFC East).

Other stuff:

LED Lights: I got more LED lights installed in the garage, and I’m a huge fan of the LED lights. They are instant on, no humming in cold weather and very bright.

Welding: I think I’m finally getting to a point to get serious about learning to weld. I built a set of rear, upper, adjustable control arms for my Ricer, and I enjoyed building the arms. For me to do more of that type of work along with a bigger car project, I need to learn how to weld better, so I plan on using YouTube to watch some training videos and spend time on practice welding.

Ricer Control Arms: As mentioned above, I built a set of rear, upper, adjustable control arms for the Ricer. These will allow me to adjust rear tire camber. I will use this to try different setting between autocrossing and track days. In autocrossing, I need the rear to rotate while on the road course, I’m not too concerned about rear rotation.

At Home – Clothes Washer Fixed

I would like for someone to do a large research project to figure out how much money YouTube has saved people over the years. I use it all of the time to watch “How to” videos, and the latest example was on swapping the water valves on the washing machine.

We have a front load washer, and slowly over several hours, water would fill up the washing tub, and if it went too long, it would fill up enough to spill out the front of the washer, so after a basic troubleshooting exercise of turning off the water feeds, it was obvious that the inlet valve(s) were leaking.

A quick Google search, a few minutes watching a YouTube video, and little research and a quick purchase, the new valves were on their way to my place. The swap was very easy and took little time or effort. Both valves (hot and cold feed) cost a total of $55 shipped, and the swap took about 30 minutes which included pulling out the washer, gathering tools, swapping valves and replacing the washer in the proper location.

If someone called in a repair person for this job, I would guess that it would have been a couple\few hundred dollars. The valves would have been more expensive and the repair person would have charged $100 minimum. Thanks to YouTube, Google and Amazon, the valves were swapped in 30 minutes for $55.