Sunday, February 26, 2012

Our house?

Still to be determined....


Entering through the first door into the living room. To the left is the dining room and to the right is the kitchen and then the family room.

A view of the family room through the kicthen.

Looking back at the kitchen.

The guest bedroom downstairs

The 3rd floor bonus room

A view from the 3rd floor down to the kitchen

The master bedroom - no changes needed

2nd bedroom

3rd bedroom


The dining room

The 2nd floor hallway leading into the master bedroom
Garage and hopefully a place to play basketball

Friday, February 24, 2012

Learning to Love - Duke/FSU

I wrote a post on Tobacco Road Blues about the Duke/FSU game last night if you were interested:

Learning to Love: Duke/FSU

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

House Hunting and the "Feeling"

When talking about buying a house, M and I hear all the time about the "feeling." Some people swear that they know what house is the right house based on the feeling. It is a simple as walking in and knowing this place is right. However, for us it doesn't seem like the feeling has made an appearance. We've made our list and have been diligently going through houses to see what best fits our wants and needs. There have been times where we have felt a certain affinity towards a home, but I don't know if that really constitues the feeling that people describe. I just wonder if we will ever reach this level of clarity that others seem to get when looking for a home.

I think that overall we are just trying to be rational about the decision. It is a big, important decision and there are a few unofficial motto's that we seem to be using:

"No step is better than the wrong step." Int the book I'm currently reading one of the people said this about Vietnam, and I thought that idea also seems to apply to house hunting. It is one thing regretting passing on a great home (ex. the Remmington home) and thinking that maybe we should have bought it. It is a completely different thing regretting buying a certain home that didn't fit what you wanted. For us if we end up passing on many good homes then that is ok as long as we avoid buying the wrong home.

"Be willing to walk away." This is the basic rule of scalping tickets, and I think it also makes sense with purchasing a home. We've been willing to put offers on two homes, but when we couldn't work out a price we didn't chase them. The latest home was something that I certainly could see us living in, but there were a few changes that we wanted to make. If we were able to negotiate a lower price then those changes would be a lot easier on the budget. However, when the seller was focused on getting their listing price for the homes then we were willing to walk away.

"Location, location, location." We could get everything we wanted in terms of a house if we were flexible on location. However, we aren't. Location is non-negotiable for us. We want a place with a good school district and we want a location that fits our personalities.

"You can never do too much analysis."  If you are reading this then the odds are pretty good that I've asked your advice on our house hunting. I might have asked about the qualitative (how you feel about homes, what's important to you, etc) or the quantitative (% of gross pay that should be devoted to home, negotiation strategies, etc). M and I want to be over-prepared. You might think we are being too particular or too involved in this decision, but I think a decision this important requires a detailed and lengthy analysis. I don't want to buy a home that we don't like at a price we can't afford. If you have any concerns about the type of home or the price of the home, then I am open to hear those challenges. My guess is that we have thought about them and have our reasons for our decision. With buying a home, I just don't want to be surprised later on by something that I didn't consider. From that I wanted to get as much advice as possible from my friends & family members.

With all that being written, we might be getting closer to finalizing a contract on a home. There is a remodel/rehab home that I've talked about before and it seems to be more and more of a possibility. We really like what the contractor is doing with the house and can see the advantages of living in a remodeled home. It is on a great street with the character homes that we wanted. Also, since it is being remodeled, we should have the advantages of a new build. There will be new windows, a new kitchen, etc. The goal is to sit down with the contractor and work out the details of our agreement. I want to know specifically what we are getting for the price we are spending. I'm crossing my fingers that this home works out and that come May/June we will be moving in to our new house.

Maybe then I will get the feeling that I feel like has been missing with our house hunting expedition.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

New Home, New Blog

M and I in our quest to find the "perfect" home have certain categories with homes we see;

Category 1: Not a real possibility because of certain non-negotiable characteristics.

Category 2: Interest in the home, but with the idea that we need to do big structural changes. When we start talking about adding on an addition then we know it is probably not the home for us.

Category 3: Interest in the home as it is with the only changes being small minor things like painting and maybe some interior remodeling.

We found a home in category 3 and will be looking at it again tomorrow. If we like it, then we will put an offer on the home and go from there. Here is the link if you were curious: 254 S Cassady Ave.

Also, if you were missing my thoughts on the basketball (Duke specifically) I started writing a few posts for Tobacco Road Blues. Below are my three posts from there:

Duke-UNC preview
Being Wrong....
Does UNC lack a killer instinct?

Happy week-a-versary of Austin Rivers shot against UNC.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Duke - UNC preview

It is pretty amazing how quickly things have changed in the Duke - UNC rivalry over the past three years. Everyone knows that UNC won the title in 2009 and Duke won the title in 2010, but it goes deeper than that. There was a point in the past three years where it seemed like one school wasn't just doing slightly better than their rival, but that one team had such a upper hand that it almost didn't even seem like a rivalry.

On November 13, 2009 Harrison Barnes picked UNC over Duke. UNC had just come off winning the 2009 title and was 2-0 at the start of the 2009-2010 season. There was optimism in Chapel Hill, because Duke didn't seem to be Duke any more. They hadn't made it to the Final Four since 2004 and seemed to be the type of team that lost out on the top recruits (ex. John Wall, Greg Monroe, Harrison Barnes) and lost in the tournament to athletic teams like like Villanova the year before. It was clear who was winning the rivalry. This was the peak for UNC.

On September 30th, 2010 Austin Rivers picked Duke over UNC and Florida. Duke had just come off winning the 2010 title and were the pre-season #1 ranked team for the 2010/2011 season. They replaced Jon Scheyer, Brian Zoubek and Lance Thomas with future #1 pick Kyrie Irving and Seth Curry. There were some concerns about their size (could the Plumlees replace Zoubek's productivity), but most people were optimistic about lineup of future NBA players like Nolan Smith, Kyle Singler, Kyrie Irving and Mason Plumlee. They would start off the year beating good teams like Michigan State and Marquette and destroying a supposedly very good Kansas State team in a road environment (Kansas City) that had me texting my brother-in-law about being surprised if Duke didn't win the title. UNC had come off a year, where they went 5-11 in the ACC, lost to Duke by 32 and didn't even make the NCAA tournament.

It all came crashing down when Irving hurt his toe in the Butler game. The team was still very good (Nolan Smith in particular had an all-time year), but after Irving's injury they were no longer going to be an all-time great. With Irving, Duke could play a bad game and still beat most good teams, but after he was injured they no longer had that luxury. They still finished a really good year by going 30-4 (13-3 in the ACC) and blowing out UNC in the ACC tournament title. However, they tried to bring Irving back from his injury and the team chemistry issues clearly hurt the team. When they ran into an Arizona team that played at a higher level in a half than I can ever remember, it was over. UNC turned the things around and finished the year in the Elite 8.

Both sides of the rivalry could call it a draw after last year. It would have remained a draw if either of the following happened; A) Irving returned to Duke or B) Barnes/Zeller/Henson went pro. The good news for UNC is that neither A or B happened and they started this year off as the favorite to win the title. The rivalry had switched from UNC to Duke and back to UNC. 

That leads us to Wednesday night's Duke at UNC game. Both teams have reasons to be optimistic, but most likely both fan groups have been disappointed with how the year has gone. UNC has all the talent in the world and can seemingly turn their A game on whenever they want. However, they don't have a backup point guard, aren't great at defense and generally seem like they lack a certain amount of passion/heart. It is almost like they have read too much about how great they are and are just bored with the regular season.

Duke has somewhat of the opposite problem. They normally do have the passion/heart, but unfortunately the talent isn't there. Also, unlike UNC where everyone seems to have a role and a position, Duke is a team made up of shooting guards and Plumlees. Andre Dawkins and Seth Curry are great complimentary players, but both are somewhat repetitive. Austin Rivers can get to the basket at will, but has questionable decision making ability and a inconsistent at best *outside shot.

*He shoots 38.2% from three, but only 67% from the line. If you believe he is a good shooter than you look at the first number. If you think that he is a bad shooter than the second number sticks out. I believe more in the second than the first. He is a good driver, bad passer and bad shooter.

It is February 6th and Coach K is still messing around with his lineup. It is clear that he hasn't found a combination that works, so he tries things like a starting lineup of Tyler Thornton, Austin Rivers, Andre Dawkins, Josh Hairston and Mason Plumlee. I don't have the number of combinations, but there have been nine different Duke players that have started a game. Does he want to go offense with Dawkins and Curry or defense with Thornton and Hairston? Does he want to play both Plumlees or start Kelly? Does he think that he can go without a traditional point guard or should Quinn Cook be starting? It would be one thing if Coach K was messing with just the starting lineup as a motivation technique, but he is also struggling figuring out who plays at the end of the games. That screams to me that he has no idea what to do with this team.

Yesterday in the Miami game Duke had freshmen Quinn Cook as the primary ball-handler and decision maker at the end. In the beginning of the year that was Tyler Thornton. In the middle of the year it was sometimes Seth Curry. Duke can't seem to figure out who they are or what they want to be. This is in contrast to previous Duke teams (specifically the 2009/2010 team where everyone had a well-defined role) or this year's UNC 's team. Everyone know that Marshall is going to be handling the ball and leading the offense, Barnes will provide outside shooting and scoring, Zeller will be the go-to person on the block and Henson will be the defensive stopper. Roy Williams doesn't have to worry about changing up the lineup, because the team knows what it is and everyone understands their role. That isn't the case with Duke as you can see the confusion among players like Austin Rivers (scorer or passer?) and Mason Plumlee (main offensive threat or someone you go to when a 3 pointer isn't available?).

The main concerns I had after watching the Duke-Miami game were this:
  • Duke isn't that good. They aren't very athletic and are poorly constructed. Certain players would be good players on other teams, but as a team they are pretty terrible.
  • Their best offensive lineup would be Austin Rivers with the ball on the wing, Dawkins and Curry as spot up shooters, Ryan Kelly as a pick and pop option and Mason Plumlee as the low post option. Unfortunately that lineup can easily be stopped because Rivers struggles with the right decision and Dawkins/Curry can't create their own shots. This could be a decent offense if Rivers operated at the highest level, but there is little margin for error. Since Rivers can't seem to make the right decision then the best offensive lineup might be Cook, Rivers, Dawkins/Curry, Kelly and Mason Plumlee. 
  • Their best defensive lineup would be Thornton, Rivers, some small forward that they don't have on their team, Miles Plumlee and Mason Plumlee. Notice only two overlaps in Mason Plumlee and Austin Rivers. That makes it tough to put together a lineup and the reason Coach K has been messing around with the right combinations.
  • Regardless of their lineup Duke can't rebound. Miami of Florida missed 39 shots yesterday, but got 18 offensive rebounds. When a shot was missed by Miami there was almost even odds (46%) that they would get their own rebound. It is hard to get defensive stops if you can't get the defensive rebound.
  • They didn't recognize what certain players were good and bad at doing. The Hurricanes 300lb center Reggie Johnson could score on the low block and did so effectively (11-17 shooting for 27 points). However, what he couldn't do was pass the ball (0 assists). Why didn't Duke double team him every time? I know that Miami made a lot of incredible threes in the first half, but in the end you just have to trust that they are a bad shooting team and that the odds will catch up to them.
  • Duke's defense isn't very good, so maybe the best strategy is the high risk, high reward style that they employed in the 2nd half. They aren't stopping anyone playing basic man to man half court defense, so why not press, trap and basically take some chances. It worked for them in the 2nd half as they were at least able to force turnovers and get some easy baskets. They still couldn't stop Johnson in the post, get rebounds or prevent Miami from getting shots they wanted, but at least they were applying pressure. I think that it is best to follow the strategy of this year's Packers. The Packers would give up a lot of yards and even a decent amount of points, but their defense was designed to create turnovers and get the ball back to the offense. I think Duke's best shot is to recognize that they are a bad defensive team and decide to just try and create turnovers and confusion. The worst thing that can happen is that the other team will score, which seems to be happening enough already.
  • If Miami can dominate with offensive rebounds then how does Duke stand a shot at stopping Carolina's front line? Besides stopping Marshall's dribble penetration that is my main concern with Wednesday's game.
  • UNC should be favored by 8.5 points in Vegas. I think the game will end with a score something like 82-68.
As you can see I am not too optimistic about Duke's chances on Wednesday or for the season. I still hold out hope that they will be able to figure things out. They need someone to step up their game considerably and somehow everyone needs to find out where they stand in Duke's lineup. It is a poorly put together team that looks like a #3 seed that at best losses in the Sweet Sixteen. For Duke fans their only hope is that UNC continues to fall short of expectations, ends up with a #2 seed and losses in the Elite 8 to a team like Ohio State.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Not So Fast...

We are going to pass on the house I just posted about. The other offer seems to be real and we don't want to increase our price. Also, we are somewhat risk adverse to the idea/price of the addition. Our hope is that something better will come up soon.

Super Sunday?

While most of the country prepares for Super Bowl 46 (sorry I'm not doing roman numerals), M and I are more concerned with where we are going to live come Super Bowl 47. Yesterday, we spent about four hours house hunting in Bexley and are happy to report that we are most likely to put an offer in on a house today. We are hesitant about putting in the offer and also for our offer actually to be accepted, so I am trying not to get too excited. Anyway, the address of the house is 192 S. Cassady Avenue and you can find pictures by clicking on this link.

If you click on the link and compare the details with what we wanted in a house, then you can easily understand why we are hesitant. This home is only 3 bedrooms and 1.5 baths, which is 1 bedroom and 1 bath short of what we actually wanted. That is the main fault. The other roadblock between us admiring the home and actually owning the home is that the real estate agent informed us that there was "going to be another offer." That is concerning for two reasons. 1) This might be part of the game. There might not be another offer, but this is a good way of us bumping up our price. It might be slightly unethical, but depending on the wording you can get away with "I thought there was going to be another offer, but at the last minute they changed their mind." 2) If there is really another serious offer then that might entice a bidding war. If that is the case we will lose. I don't want to fall victim to the Winner's Curse.

Anyway, those are the big two cons, but the reason we are even a little bit excited (instead of just being nervous) is that the pros are plentiful. We love the following;

-Curb Appeal
-Driveway (perfect for basketball)
-Huge two car garage (room for ping pong)
-Spacious Living Room
-Nice Dining Room
-French Doors
-Natural Light
-Basement (finished room)
-Central Bexley
-Flow of House

Anyway, there is a lot consider with the house. In the perfect world we could get the house at a reasonable price, add a master suite addition and live there for the next 50 years of our life. However, a lot can go wrong to prevent us from living in the dream home. There is considerable amount of risk when talking about this level of financial commitment, but I think it is potentially worth it and hope for the best.