Monday, June 29, 2009

We Have a House With Stuff In It

We made the trip to Texas, despite our mover - Sky Movers, who we will never use again - being two and a half days late and still not getting everything on the truck. We got to Lubbock in plenty of time for the walk-through, which the builders were clearly worried about. After all, the sod wasn't down, two windows needed replacing, and the shiny finish was not yet on the concrete floors. We were just so glad to see the house, we didn't care at all - as long as the closing went without a hitch. Which it did. The next day, we were signing away our debt freedom with great gusto. In the midst of the signing, one of my professors called to ask me to work on a project with him, and my wife said, "I guess that was the reason we needed to get here two weeks early." So immediately upon arrival, I had work to do, which is very exciting.

The movers then let us know the truck had not left Florida to get to Texas - again, NEVER use Sky Movers - and our stuff would arrive Monday at the earliest. We had to figure out how we might manage on the few things we'd brought in our rented Uhaul trailer and two cars, but we mostly enjoyed camping in our new home. My professor and his wife were gracious enough to invite us to their home for dinner, and then lend us a few things to help us get by while we awaited our things. They're both wonderful, warm people, and I look forward to getting to know them better.

Friday we got our fridge - we had to rent a Uhaul truck to get it home and avoid waiting a week - and we clearly out the garage in preparation for the movers arrival. Saturday we hung out with the family that hosted us during our visit in February, and then we did it again Sunday. They watched our kids for us Monday while the movers came - did I say they were wonderfully nice people? - and kept on watching them while we unpacking things. I have felt very welcome here. We even received a thank you from one couple just for finally building on the lot at the entrance to the neighborhood. We met a few people Sunday at church and the kids are adjusting well to being in a large ward instead of a small branch.

In short, we have loved our new home a lot already. We are looking forward to settling in over the coming days and weeks (we already have unpacked more than a dozen boxes today alone), and making a life for ourselves. I suspect it might even be harder to leave here than it was Cairo when we're done. Everything is so convenient and everyone is so warm and welcoming. I am enjoying working on this paper already, and I look forward to it bringing more opportunities to accelerate my learning curve.

So if this blog languishes, my apologies. We simply have much to do, and there are only so many hours in the day. I appreciate all who have kept up with us through this whole exciting process, and I hope to continue to make periodic updates. If this week proves at all typical, though, I don't know how frequent they might be.

-- Robert

Friday, June 19, 2009

Back From Vacation - On to the Move

We had a wonderful vacation in Orlando. As much as anyone can, at least. On day one, I pondered writing a daily journal of what we did and advice I might have for anyone going to Orlando, but I was exhausted when I got back to the condo. With that out the window, I never even tried to get email until the day before we left, and then only because we were online trying to find an email to call the movers and see what time they would be coming on Friday.

Which they weren't. Not Friday. Now Saturday's up in the air, which reads more accurately as "they aren't coming". I now get to go down to the wire and have movers come on a Sunday. The same Sunday when both my wife and I will be speaking, and I will be in charge of all the meetings of the day. I believe it qualifies as my ox being in the mire - but I still hate the whole idea. I feel pretty betrayed, but I won't defame the movers at this point because they're about to have most of my valuable possessions in an undisclosed location for about a week. It's like complaining about food at a restaurant - don't do it.

Still, we are packed, or we have things in a situation where we are ready for movers to begin loading a truck. There may yet be a few boxes to tape up or tubs to put the tops on, but we're as ready as we can be until they actually appear.

Add to that the fact that the loan officer I've been working with is going on vacation with some elements of the closing still up in the air, and well - let's just say we're driving west on faith. We've made this whole journey on faith - prepared, thought out, and prayerful faith, but still faith. So, here we go...

-- Robert

Friday, June 12, 2009


Packing done? - Check. My wife and some friends did a wonderful job of getting it all ready.

Orlando trip planned? - Check. We have a decent condo and our printed Ridemax list of how to hit the most things at Disney each day.

Movers scheduled? - Check. They will come either Friday or Saturday of next week.

Road trip planned? - Check. We'll be going through Vicksburg, MS, then Irving, TX, and on to Lubbock by way of Sweetwater, TX, just past Abilene.

Closing scheduled? - Check. We will tour the house on the 24th and close the 25th.

House complete? - Last item on the list, but based on the most recent pictures, this check should be added very soon.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Interior Pictures

As you come in the

front door.

You can look at

the fireplace.

Continuing on and looking to the left, you'll see the


Then you can look down at the newly installed granite countertops.

I believe my wife has pictures of the bedrooms on previous posts on her blog, but if not, I might be able to get those together. They're not as interesting, though, I imagine. What remains to be done in the areas shown is the floor: stain in the kitchen/dining room and carpet in the living room. We also need the appliances added in the kitchen, but that doesn't prevent us moving in. Still, those should be in soon as well.

-- Robert

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I Love It When a Plan Comes Together

Another picture? Just like that? Yes, just like that. The difference in this picture: no work van in the garage, and the awnings are on. The countertops are in, so now it's down to floors and sodding the yard, from what I can tell, basically. It's looking great.
-- Robert
P.S.: If I get requests for it, I'm willing to post interior pictures, too.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

First Time - a Picture on This Blog

Since my wife is actively packing our house, she did not get the picture posted, as I thought she would. It is my fault, though, that she didn't, so I decided to post a picture on this blog for the first time. Enjoy.

Monday, June 8, 2009

It's a Brick... House....

At least, that's what the picture shows. My wife will post the picture later today, but we got photographic evidence showing the brick is on, the fireplace is in, the doors are hung inside, and the cabinets are in. Painting, stain of the concrete, carpet, and countertops are all that remain. Well, and some door knobs need to be put in, I think. I'm guessing those were just taken out for painting, though. The outside only needs the part where the roof hangs over the edge of the brick to be covered. Okay, that and the yard needs to be sodded, but really, I'm excited to see that's such a short list to be finished.

As for moving plans, we made a list of what needs to be done, and we're executing it all this week. We expect to make it to Orlando next week. Things are going at warp speed, but we work well that way. Tomorrow should be a very productive moving day.

-- Robert

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Ender's Game

Last night, while we starting packing in earnest, my wife and I listened to Ender's Game on audiobook. Our local library has this great service that allows us to 'check out' an audiobook online - download a file that will only work for a certain amount of time - and we decided we would love to hear that book while we worked or when we hit the road in a few weeks.

As we listened, I realized it had been years since I read the book, and it was great to revisit such a wonderful story. It helped that the narrator was the same one Card had used on another audiobook we enjoyed, Empire, and that there were lots of voices for the characters instead of just one person trying to make up twenty voices. Having read the rest of the books (except the most recent addition, Ender in Exile), it was fun to remember how the different character entered the whole story. Card writes so masterfully. I can't recommend the Ender series highly enough. It helps the packing go by faster to have such great stories to listen to. It probably also reminds me of listening to stories as a child to go to sleep. I regularly listened to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and various comedy tapes of Bill Cosby. Now my daughter is enjoying listening to stories while she goes to bed, too (not Ender books, though). It's neat to watch.

This post has no cohesion, I'll grant. It has several different thoughts in one place, and none of them well developed. Still, I simply wanted to remember the moments briefly, and so I wrote a post.

-- Robert

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


We now have three weeks left here. We got the call from the builder that the house will be done in three weeks, so we set a closing date, and we will proceed to lose our marbles organizing everything for the move at warp speed. Okay, we won't really lose all our marbles. They'll be packed in a box that will take us weeks to find after we've gotten everything moved. Generally they're in the bottom of the last box that gets unpacked.

In the meantime we have two musical performances for my wife to prepare for, our daughter's birthday party to plan and have, and we're taking her to Disney World for a few days, since she has a ticket she won't have much chance to use once we've moved to Texas. Piece of cake, right?


-- Robert

Monday, June 1, 2009

Where Marx's Pricing Theory Falls Apart

Karl Marx believed that all things could be priced based upon the hours of work input in their creation. So, for instance, a wooden cabinet is worth the hours a person put in making that wooden cabinet. He might have made some arguments that the hours it took to build the machines used for making the box would also go into the cost of the good, but he still primarily focused on the idea that the cost of something was related to the work put into it.

The idea sounds great on the surface. It ignores the different values of other inputs - the raw materials being worked on - as a predictor of value. That's one of the more glaring flaws. He also assumes that all goods are, in essence, commodities. One wooden cabinet is the same as another, in this example. So a cabinet made of press board sold at Wal-Mart only differs in value from a handmade, custom-built oak cabinet by the number of hours a person (or persons) took to build it. Certainly, one might argue that more hours go into the oak cabinet - but only if the person putting together the press board is generally good at doing so. If the same number of hours are used in the end, then the value of the two is the same, according to Marx.

The difference in the value of those hours begins to appear in my comparison. Is the value of an hour of work by a trained carpenter the same as the value of the hour of an untrained (in relation to carpentry) purchaser of a Wal-Mart do-it-yourself pre-fabricated cabinet? Certainly not, at least not in the eyes of consumers. Marx may have tried to account for the difference by suggesting a multiplier be used for skilled labor versus unskilled. Whether he actually did make such a suggestion is unclear. The problem, therefore with Marx's theory about pricing stems from his own misunderstanding of the marketplace. Goods are not commodities - one good is not the same as another, in many ways. Certainly a desk is not the same as a lawn mower or the same as a computer. Nor are people commodities, or their skillsets - the worker who can build a computer might be able to be build a desk, but not at the same speed as someone skilled in carpentry. In other words, he ignored specialization, the value of training, and - quite frankly - the value of human ingenuity. So many of the rest of his theories built on this sameness his pricing theory relied on, that the whole idea of Marxism falls apart. Since Marx was one of the father's of socialism, it begs the question, is socialism equally flawed as a theory? If the theory is flawed, then should we plan our government around it?

I say no. I leave the rest of the world to decide for themselves.

-- Robert