The Other Side of YKWP

Ok, this page is something other. It’s not the blog, it’s also not my professional work. No one wants to read training materials, business plans, or requirements documents anyway (although, they’re pretty good). This is where I drop stuff—stories, pictures, illustrations… whatever I feel like sharing. Everything will be Creative Commons licensed in one form or another; I don’t know why, it just seems like a good thing to do. Anyway, I’ll break the sections down if needs be. Otherwise, enjoy, critique, or laugh. It’s all up to you.

Rose of Sharon
This is a story I wrote, the first draft of which was finished 14 Oct 1997. Quality aside, the story is one with personal interest to me as I vividly remember the Vice Principal sticking his head in my class and whispering “The shuttle blew up” in my teachers ear (he had a problem controlling the volume of his voice). For nothing but sentimentality, this is one of my favorite compositions.

Chumbawamba – Pass It Along (MP3)
Talk about a band that got short shrift in the States. Chumbawamba was known as a one-hit-wonder this side of the pond. On the other side of the Atlantic, however, they are (not were) a huge club band. They’re fanatically anarchistic (but what anarchist isn’t, right?), but they actually have some decent music. This track is a slap in the face of the music industry. More tracks here.

Inspiration

Man cannot live by his own mind alone on an island, or something like that. Below are some things that inspire me. Some of these are Creative Commons licensed.

Cory Doctorow – Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom
How will you spend your life if you’re immortal?

The Witch’s Hand – Patrick O’Leary
Ghost stories always come true.

The Factwhore Proposition – Charles Coleman Finlay [author’s website]
Life’s a bitch; then you get a nemesis.

Note: This story originally appeared on Futurismic, but is gone now. If anyone finds it online again, drop me a line and I’ll update this page.

House for Sale: Day 50

Our house is for sale (call our agent if you’re interested!). This is Day 50 of it being on the market. We thought we had plumbed the depths of ennui before this process began but we were so very, very wrong.

To date, we’ve had about 12 showings, 2 open houses, and almost no interaction with our agent once she figured out we couldn’t finance another family car. We had to drop the price on our home, which was something that had to be done Right Now because the new price had to fan out for the second open house. Except it didn’t. The second open house was staffed by not-our-agent with not-the-right-price and barely signs telling buyers where they could find the house itself. (Yes, we drove around.)

It’s a disillusioning process and experience for a house, frankly, we just want to be out of but can’t unless the right price comes in. We expect to lose money on the sale. We expect pointed criticism about the house; hell, we’d provide it if needed.

What we didn’t expect was the awful feeling of living in a house that is no longer your home. Our things, the comforts of our non-working lives, are stuffed in a 5×10 storage unit (to the ceiling) so that other people can maybe picture their stuff in our house. Our pets suffer because other agents can’t be trusted (or, we’re told, shouldn’t be trusted) to either not let them outside or to not mistreat them in their own home.

Owing this home continues to be a terrible experience. I know there’s some Dream That Must Be Had in owning a home. I don’t get it. There’s nothing particularly wrong with the house, but it’s… I don’t know… over? And it seems fitting that one of the most frustrating parts of owning it is getting rid of it.

9 years

Today is the ninth anniversary since we closed on our first house. We were supposed to be here for 2, maybe 3, years. But here we are almost a decade later, stuck in a starter house we probably should never have bought in the first place. Why?

Yeah, that. 

Having a house–well this house anyway–is exhausting. The house is old, it has a Michigan basement, it has a shared driveway in need of replacement, the list goes on. It’s exhausting to think about, exhausting to work through the neverending lists, exhausting to skimp and save to finance that work. We haven’t so much acquired a house as been sentenced to live in it.

As we mark this anniversary and reflect on the many things learned through home ownership, one constant has entered our conversations. Resentment. We resent this house more than anything in our lives. We have to be careful that we don’t turn that resentment on each other, something else we didn’t plan on having to do. We resent the bankers who’ve not paid any price for effectively killing the financial mobility of millions of people, something they did through fraud.

There is no silver lining in this house, at least not for us. As we continue to squirrel away money to cover the cash we’ll inevitably have to bring to the table when we sell (20% underwater!), every dime is something in our life we can’t do. Every dime is also another added to the lesson we learned the best: everyone in the financial sector is making money by taking yours, especially when buying a house.

About

I’m Ryan. This site is almost entirely vanity, with a touch of learning tossed in. I live in the Ann Arbor, MI area and work for the University of Michigan (no, I will not be able to help you get tickets). Everything on this site is my opinion and not that of the University. To be honest, the University called me and asked that we not see each other outside of work anymore, and I can respect that; the University is a great gal, albeit a little, uh, touchy-feely for my tastes. We’re just happy to work together and let our personal lives remain that way.

On the “who is he” side, I live with my girlfriend, J–, and we’re outnumbered by our pets (2 cats and a dog we miss you, Froggie). I like to play PC games, occasionally ride my bike, mow the lawn (seriously screw mowing the lawn), drink beer, brew beer, think about beer, and sometimes just admire beer. In a former life, I wrote things, like actual stories and stuff. I even wrote professionally, although that was very dull, technical, and not at all fun. I miss the anticipation of the next (delayed) Douglas Adams book and thoroughly annoying J– with references to both the Hitchhikers series (which she has read) and the Dirk Gentley series (which she has not). I can relate almost any life event to a Simpsons episode or vignette. If I had the motivation, I’d write something about it, but I won’t.

I don’t watch much TV, but I do make time for the new Battlestar Galactica (done, ug), Breaking Bad (done, watch it!), uh and the Daily Show. I hear good things about South Park and The IT Crowd and BitTorrent has proven those words true. Netflix is my new haven for media.

I love to cook and, if I had the means, would actually make that a career. As it is, I’m happy being a know-it-all curmudgeon, but I’m really a nice guy at heart. I have lots of other places where I appear on the Web, but you can find that on your own if you’re so interested (and you’re not, really, are you, so why would I link to that crap?).

You can email me at ryan.vis@gmail.com, but I’ll warn you that I’m really bad at email.

My Blogger Code is: B9 d+ t+ k s u- f- i- o x– e- c-

Moving to Blogger, for real this time

I’m done with WordPress. After being compromised, again, I’m done. No matter what security extension I install, no matter how automatic the updates, no matter what I tweak, WordPress continues to be compromised.

I even went so far as to nuke the install, the database, and the users for both with my host only to find that WordPress can’t handle importing 1400 entries. So, I’m done. Aside from DNS propagation, this blog, now hosted on Blogger, took less than an hour to set up, import, and configure. The import, which failed for days on WordPress, was imported in less than a minute. For a blog I rarely update, this is good enough.

So, see yeah WordPress. I may even get out of my hosting package by porting my other URL over to a Blogger-hosted site.

Student Loans – Fin

Yesterday I paid off my last student loan. It took nearly 16 years to do so, a stretch of time that, frankly, is embarrassing. I financed my college education completely on my own; my parents held to the belief (in the mid-90s) that one could still pay their way through college. You couldn’t, there wasn’t even a chance of that happening.

My college education was financed on the backs of loans, a single grant for 2 semesters, and credit cards. I have paid off the loans. 16 years after the fact, I still have 2 credit cards within striking distance of being paid off (read: less than 5 figures).

I will not claim I was (or am) the best manager of my own money, but the cost of simply attending college set my finances back a decade. The real estate crash simply pounded the lid closed on my financial coffin in the late 2000s. We are working to dig out now, but we are purposely struggling.

There is a movement to reform college financing, something I completely support. I can’t imagine the pressures of graduating today with tens of thousands of dollars of debt. For now, I’m a few hundred dollars closer to being in the black; budget projections here show that is years away, though.

Openly questioning the value of a degree is a smart first step. Evaluating the value to yourself is just as important. Either way, this country needs to have a frank discussion about education, K through PhD. I hope we have it soon.

Snow Removal in Chelsea, MI

Chelsea MI’s relevant ordinances regarding removal of snow and ice.

Sec. 26-89. – Ice and snow removal.

It shall be the duty of the owner or occupant of every parcel of real estate within the city which adjoins a public right-of-way upon which there has been constructed a public sidewalk, to remove any accumulations of ice and snow which obstruct the free use of the sidewalk by pedestrians, within 48 hours after the accumulation of such snow or ice.

(Ord. No. 94, § 271.003, 6-21-1985)
Sec. 26-90. – Failure to remove snow and ice.

Any owner or occupant of real estate which adjoins the public right-of-way upon which there is constructed a public sidewalk, who shall fail to remove accumulations of snow and ice, as provided in section 26-89, shall be guilty of a violation of this article, and the city police officer may make complaint and request a warrant from the appropriate judicial officer, or issue an appearance ticket or citation, as provided by Public Act No. 366 of 1984 (MCL 764.9c), directing the appearance of such owner or occupant before the appropriate judicial officer to answer the complaint.

(Ord. No. 94, § 271.004, 6-21-1985)

Sec. 26-92. – Violation a municipal civil infraction.

Any person or persons who shall violate any provisions of this article shall be responsible for a municipal civil infraction.

Does anyone know any of these have ever been enforced beyond the line of sight from McKune?

Myrt Hulst – 1929 – 2104

I’m getting sick of writing these.

On January 19, 2014, Myrtle Hulst passed from this Earth. She was 84, 4 months short of her birthday. She is survived by 2 sisters and countless nieces, nephews, grand nieces, grand nephews, and friends. I am one of those grand nephews and Myrt was like a third grandmother to me.

Myrt never married or had children, but not for any of the previous generations’ reasons for excusing such things. Not that my family would ever discuss such things, but I believe Myrt found companionship in her multitude of friends. I have been to many funerals and many visitations. Myrt’s was easily one of the most well attended.

Myrt was my grandmother’s sister and a constant presence in our family. From my earliest memories, she was there. She spent her life as a hair stylist, first working in salons and then owning her own for more than 30 years. Her partners and staff were as much her family as we her blood relatives and wept as we did at her funeral.

We always referred to Myrt as “Aunt”, not because we couldn’t trace her place in the family tree (a skill we children of Dutch immigrants learned well), but because she was as much a part of our family experience as anyone else.

Myrt left suddenly, diagnosed with Stage 4 liver cancer five weeks before she died. The family is grateful to Holland Hospice for the kindness and expertise they brought to her and her situation. If you have the means, please give generously to your local Hospice in her name.

Rest in peace, strong, stoic, faithful aunt.  You are missed.