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2012

Colombia - June-Aug 2012
Colombia
S eriously, this place ain't bad. I thought it would be insanely hot like Florida, but it's actually decent.
The first 30 days went by pretty quick. I had my own room and yeah, lots of surfing the net and watching DirectTV. Also, I watched all of DS9 (I saw maybe the first season when it came out). Now I know why everyone thinks it's better than Voyager--it pretty much is.

The second 30 days here, not so nice. Add a roommate, the internet sucks because lots of Army guys showed up, and my back/neck is killing me... all of a sudden I want to go home.
Update: I got home and my house was burglarized. Over $5500 worth of stuff was stolen, including my sweet Bugout Bag (turns out I had over $1000 in that bag), over $1500 in reloading equipment (I never even used that Giraud power trimmer) and over $2500 in reloading components).

The funny thing is the reaction in my unit. People offered to help, the new first sergeant that I've never even met called me; contrast that with how much people cared when I had my place broken into in England--they didn't give a damn. As a matter of fact, I came in the next morning and was told (incorrectly, apparently) that I was due a comp day. Then I get scolded for taking that one day off. That's exactly what I needed after having my place broken into. Yes--after 10 years, I still have plenty of bitterness for the 2000-era 352nd MXS.

Also, currently taking classes in Java (yay) and Discrete Math (boo)... and gearing up for PT testing (ugh).

Aaaaand, 60 days in Colombia: no Mosquito bites. One night in Panama: 22 bites... from scratching them, I'm all covered with scabs/blotches AND I have a big bruise on the antecubital space of my left arm from the post-deployment blood draw. I probably look like a drug addict.

S o, I finally bought a house in Salt Lake City. And what an ordeal that was. My home buying experiences in Spokane and Cheyenne didn't prepare me for this at all.   SLC, UT - April 2012
House in SLC
First of all, I checked out realtor.com and found that the housing market seemed pretty low. At 8 months in on my 10 month lease, I decided I'd get with a realtor and check out the SLC market-- two months should be plenty of time.

I googled the nearest place, called them up and they hooked me up with BJ Blaser. That was my second mistake (the first being judging the market online as I'd done in Spokane and Cheyenne).
In my house hunting with BJ, I found that there were tons of fixer uppers on the market that looked really nice online. I was starting to see that under $60k was not going to happen. Meanwhile, BJ was always cancelling and postponing all our meets, which made it that much more difficult. What's more, he didn't seem too familiar with the market. Eventually, he didn't return a call and I dropped him like a hot rock (never did hear from him again). Back to google I went.

I called up Joel Carson. He was great--knew the market and just a good guy to deal with. He was pretty patient with me as I climbed up the sale prices from $60k to $100k+. The first good deal I saw was a beaut--1800 sq ft, right next to work, and just under $100k. I loved it, but... it turned out to be a Fannie Mae home. Thing was, I had to fix up the place out of pocket before buying it, and because I had been a little overzealous on paying off my 97 acres in Cali, I just didn't have that kind of money. I made the offer, deployed to Crete and before I knew it, the place was sold to someone else while I was trying to figure out how to pay for foundation repairs and various bits of interior damage.

Next up was a house that was only 1 year old! It was a helluva deal. I put in an offer and... it's a HUD home. Joel assumed I was eligible based on last year's tax return... which was mostly SSgt income. No amount of whining or complaining with the HUD folks could convince them that I was in any way qualified. If only I'd known... I could've bought it a year ago!

At this point, I'd looked at more than twice as many homes in SLC as Spokane and Cheyenne combined. Worst of all, there were a couple places that I'd passed up while I was getting a feel for the market. I was really getting bummed out and finally settled on the place I bought. Not a great deal ($140k). Nothing fancy (about 1400 sq ft and nothing too special about it). But it'll have to do.

In short, I really hate BJ, Fannie Mae, and HUD for not only delaying my home purchase by about 4 months, but also causing me to miss out on some good deals in the process.

Crete - Feb/Mar 2012
Crete
T his was almost as sweet as my TDY to Channel Islands. Factoring in the per diem, this is the best TDY I've ever been on.
The TV in my room didn't work and the internet was terrible, so I resorted to my DS for entertainment. The only games I really played much before were Puzzle Quest and Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow. Given how much I liked Dawn of Sorrow, I had a go at three other Castlevania games: Order of Ecclesia, Aria of Sorrow (great game, but I need to kill Legion properly next time) and Circle of the Moon. I really dug the first two, but Circle of the Moon seemed a little too tedious. I gave up in the underground waterway.
Next, I played some Tony Hawk. I was impressed with the DS version. By moving the controls around, I found that constant grinding wasn't too hard on my hand like it was on Playstation (propping my index finger up on the triangle button sucks after a bit). I managed to get a 6,096,256 point combo in Beverly Hills.

Then came Sim City. I figured out how to grow cities with lots of fountains, but got stuck in the 400,000s. There was a large block of residential that sims never went to, no matter what I tried; highest land value, zero taxes--it was like the place was cursed or something. In frustration, I gave up and spent the rest of the trip playing Civilization Revolution. Good 'ol civ didn't let me down. I played it over and over for weeks.

Also, my old Kodak DC3200 died. Until I get a new camera, site pics are going to be crap pulled from google.

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