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06/28/2007

Refinance our Mortgage

When we bought our house, in March 2006, we were lucky to get financing at all. So we had to take hat we could get. Which was a five year ARM, with an initial APR of 7.5%.

Now, a year later, with both our credit scores somewhere around 700, we thought it would be easy to refinance that first mortgage. So we responded to one of those *lower-my-bills* ads. We explained our financial situation in full detail, submitted about 50 pages of paperwork to prove it, and got pre-approved.

The mortgage broker sent an appraiser out to our house, we had to pay $400 for that. And then, very much to our surprise, the broker told us *Sorry, but we can't give you that money - Tom hasn't been self-employed for two years yet.*. We were pissed, to put it mildly.

medium_Shalimar.JPGBut at least that mortgage broker knew somebody who works at a bank. And, using this personal connection, we finally managed to get the deal done. It took another two months, another 50 pages of paperwork, and approximately 20 phone calls. Now we have a 30-years fixed rate, at 6.4% APR - and sufficient cash back, so we can build a fence around our back yard. Armani will enjoy that!

06/19/2007

a pool table for our basement

Penny found out about an estate auction somewhere in the south-western part of town. Tom and I went along, mainly because of the pool table they had. I have never been at an auction. It took me a while to understand how that works.

The auctioneer starts shouting out a relatively high price for the item, then, if he doesn't get any interest from the crowd, he drops the price really fast. Until somebody makes a signal. Scratching your ear is enough - so watch what you're doing, or you could be stuck with something you don't want. If you want to bid, you'll have to pay very close attention. They talk so fast, it's almost impossible to follow.

 When they finally got to the pool table, I was so excited, I could hardly contain myself. It's a beautiful 7 foot custom made table. With real Italian slate, an inch thick, and dark oak wood from Germany. It was made by a company in St. Louis, Missouri. And it cost $4,000 in 1997.

When the original offer of $1,000 had come down to $500 I started bidding. There was one other person interested in the table, and I thought we'd never get it - since we had agreed on our maximum bid to be no more than $700. But we got lucky! The pool table is ours, including all the accessories, for only $600. We'll have it delivered and set up in the basement on Thursday. medium_pooltable.jpg    

20:00 Posted in 06, Having Fun | Permalink | Comments (0)

06/14/2007

Alarm für Cobra 11

One of my favorite TV shows in Germany was *Alarm für Cobra 11 - die Autobahnpolizei*. I used to look forward to Thursday nights at 8:15 p.m. when it would come on.

medium_Cobra11.2.JPGAfter moving to the USA it took me a while to find out how I can still watch German TV. First you have to sign up for an online recording service. Then you need to schedule a recording, then download and decode the file, and then you can watch it on your computer.

I'm looking forward to Thursday evenings again, for an hour of fun and action on TV. And then there's also Sunday nights, when I can watch *Tatort* - like I used to do for decades.

06/09/2007

14th Annual Wiener Dog Nationals

medium_WienerRace.JPGIt's Germanfest in Fort Wayne again, and this time I even made it to the Wiener Dog Race.

The weather was perfect - sunny, dry, not too hot. Headwaters Park was crowded with hundreds of cute little dachshunds.

96 of them participated in the races, and the winner was Noodle

15:45 Posted in 06, Having Fun | Permalink | Comments (0)

06/06/2007

about Goals and Objectives

In the meeting invitation for my first Performance Review at IndianaTech it said *be prepared to talk about goals and objectives*.

 That was one of those occasions where I notice, that English still isn't my native language. Look up *goal* and *objective* in an English/German dictionary - and you'll find them both translated to the same identical word: *Ziel*.

So, where's the difference? How can I be prepared to talk about something, that I don't really know what it is? Good thing my friend Google knows it all.

Goals are broad, visionary, nebulous, can't be verified, open to speculation and modification - they are like the hidden treasure, that you're dreaming to find some day. If somebody asks you, if you've reached your goals, you might not know the answer. 

Objectives are the measurable steps, hopefully on the way towards your goals, that you take every day. They need a quantity, a set time, an exact price - verifiable details - attached to them. And when the set time comes, you can find out whether you've reached your objectives, or not.

In Germany I learned, that you need precise, measurable details - or your Ziel is not valid. The German language doesn't support the idea of goals, only objectives are valid. In my opinion, that explains a lot of the fundamental differences between Germans and Americans.

 

08:20 Posted in Opinions | Permalink | Comments (2)