Two Weeks? Two Weeks!

It absolutely does not feel like two weeks since we moved into our new house. It feels like maybe one week and the time compression due to aging can be most discombobulating.

Today is a rarity, a day with no scheduled visits by service people. Hopefully, I’ll get in a good workout, which would be just my second since we moved. Anyway, here are a few relevant photos.



From Jeff Bezos’ newspaper via this Why Evolution Is True post:


Consumers are mad as hell about the long waits for service while calling companies on the telephone. But whether we will “not take it anymore” seems to be up to the companies themselves, who claim, unbelievably, that customers like the robots and endless attempts to connect with a real human being.

It shouldn’t be this hard to speak to a human. But, increasingly, companies large and small are making it difficult to access a real, live person when help is needed. Contact numbers are hard to find. Wait times to speak to an operator are long — one industry analyst estimated the average wait tripled from 2020 to 2022 and says he believes they still are a third worse than before the pandemic. Some phone lines are seemingly staffed entirely by robots, forcing you to go through menu after menu in quest of a live, real person. Or, increasingly, companies don’t offer a telephone option at all.

This is not simply inconvenient. It’s contemptuous. And consumers pay the price in emotional aggravation, in precious time and in literal money, as people give up on legitimate financial claims because they are unable to surmount the barriers in their way.

Companies say they are reducing options for human contact by popular demand. They claim customers often prefer a virtual option — so said Frontier Airlines after it recently ceased offering customers access to live phone agents, directing them to text, chatbot or email instead. But as the Wall Street Journal noted late last year, Frontier is simultaneously telling its investors that call centers are “expensive,” while use of chatbots eliminates the customer’s ability to negotiate.

A survey by OnePoll in 2021 found that more than two-thirds of respondents ranked speaking to a human representative as one of their preferred methods of interacting with a company, while 55 percent identified the ability to reach a human as the most important attribute a customer service department can possess. “When people are anxious or have problems, they really, really want to talk,” says Michelle Shell, a visiting assistant professor also at the Questrom school. “You need human contact.”


I personally loathe and despise the automated VRUs, Voice Response Units. However, as they become more prevalent, avoiding them becomes virtually impossible. One answer might be to avoid big companies whenever possible and use local, smaller companies.


When Mecum first held an auction in the Phoenix area (I think that was 2019) about 1,000 vehicles were consigned and the auction lasted three days. This year, 2,000 vehicles are consigned and the auction is scheduled for five days. I think this auction expansion is yet another of the countless examples of how strong the car culture is in this area.

Not having “champagne and caviar” tastes in automobiles, I like looking at the lots on the early days to see if something might entice me to bid. A car like this caught my attention:



That is supposed to be a picture of a 1991 Cadillac Allante in the same color as the one consigned to Mecum Glendale 2023. The 1993 Allante was a member of my Ultimate Garage 3.0, which was published almost two years ago. I wouldn’t be surprised if this car hammers for less than $10,000.

An internal debate about buying another car has been about whether or not I need to give priority to cars that have appeared in any iteration of my Ultimate Garage. More and more I am moving towards the viewpoint that I don’t need to do that. In general, I think people waste too much time, money and effort trying to justify previous decisions.

Back to the ’91 Allante…when new the engine was rated 200 HP/270 LB-FT of torque for a car with a curb weight of about 3,500 pounds. You can see why I prefer the ’93 model since that was the only year the Northstar V-8 was offered (slipping head bolts and all), which was rated 295 HP/290 LB-FT. The ’93 model was about 200 pounds heavier than the ’91.

Once again, buying a car now is probably a most imprudent action, but the heart wants what it wants. I am not even in a position to offer a probability in terms of what I buy or when/if I buy it.









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Almost 6,000 Miles

Today’s post title is rather prosaic, I’m afraid. I want to thank Dirty Dingus McGee for commenting that he would reach out to me if I stopped publishing this blog without notice.

I also want to thank my brilliant high school classmate, TI, for calling me from Switzerland yesterday to express the same sentiment, among other thoughts. We live about 6,000 miles apart and that is how today’s post title came to be.

We had a great conversation that lasted about an hour. In deference to him, I will not reveal too many details other than to write that many topics were discussed, as one might imagine would happen over the course of an hour.


Up until now, I have not revealed details about our attempt to sell our current house and to buy the Goose Bumps house. It is not hyperbole to write that the latter is one of the nicest houses I have ever seen. My wonderful wife doesn’t like it quite as much–it doesn’t have a swimming pool–but her feelings for it are still orders of magnitude above those for our current dwelling.

Foolishly, we allowed ourselves only three days to find a house in Arizona during our trip in September of 2020. Not wanting to return to the mid-Atlantic without buying a house (since we already had an accepted offer on our house there), we bought the house we have now lived in for almost 28 months. Without airing any dirty laundry, I’ll just write that we did not share the exact same views of the house we bought.

We have been looking for another house, off and on, for many months. The reason I call the object of our efforts the Goose Bumps house is that the first time I walked through it, during an open house, it literally gave me goose bumps, or chill bumps as they call them in the American South.

We put our current home on the market around Thanksgiving, which is terrible timing, of course. Listing the house then was in response to our efforts to buy a house with my wonderful wife’s father and the seller, in a real time crunch, did not give us much time to sell either of the houses from which we would have moved.

We couldn’t sell either house in the time allotted. My wife’s father decided to take his house off the market. Because we had already seen the Goose Bumps house, we decided to leave ours on the market and to make an offer. The offer was accepted and was contingent on having an accepted offer on our house by January 31.

Not surprisingly, we had very little activity on our house in December. However, around the 5th of January interest increased and one open house, in particular, attracted many people. It was from that open house that we received two offers on this property.

We thought we had a deal with the first buyer, but the deal fell through when that buyer, in our opinion, tried to re-negotiate the purchase price through the back door by asking for what we thought, at the time, was an outrageous amount as a seller credit towards repairs. Subsequently, we have learned otherwise. In any event, that buyer’s utter disregard for our timing needs led us to say Good Riddance to them.

Just a couple of days later another open house attendee made us an offer. The deal to which we ultimately agreed will put a little more money in our pocket than the first, but not a lot in the context of the sales price. The problem with the second offer is that just 17-18 days before the scheduled closing date, our buyer decided to change mortgage lenders. Given what is happening with the vast majority of American companies, the new lender has not yet been able to extend final, formal approval for the loan. We are supposed to close on the sale of our house in FIVE days. I must admit I have some suspicion that the buyer is trying to scuttle the deal via a “Pocket Veto.”

By the terms of the contract, they are supposed to have final mortgage approval by Tuesday, the day after tomorrow. If tomorrow were not another one of those ridiculous federal holidays, I probably wouldn’t be quite as stressed.

Although our realtor and my wonderful wife don’t seem worried, I am very worried that the deal will fall apart or we will have to move the closing dates back, which creates a real issue since we have already booked the movers for specific dates and no guarantee exists that they could accommodate a change in dates.

We are supposed to move into the Goose Bumps house on February 28, but that is very much up in the air as far as I am concerned. You are now up-to-date.







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The Pace Quickens

Even though, technically, we are still waiting for one more piece of news before we are “sure” that we are selling our current house and buying the “Goose Bumps” house, we have decided to engage in the critical step of “gathering” the funds needed to complete the purchase. We are not borrowing any money, in the form of a mortgage or otherwise, to make this happen. With settlement rules for stocks and bonds and the amount of money likely requiring additional steps before it can all be transferred to its “launching point,” we have decided to give ourselves a little more margin for error and begin the process.

A recent Arizona ruling that does not allow for state tax to be withheld from retirement account distributions has already caused a delay. At numerous points in this venture I have been told to keep my eyes on the prize.



That is the front door to the house we are trying to purchase. What you can’t see, because neither my wonderful wife nor I has taken any photos, is a view of the front of the house. The front door cannot be seen from the street because the house has a large courtyard in the front. The door to the courtyard is visible.

Wish us luck because we still need it.






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