Previous month:
April 2011
Next month:
June 2011

May 2011

no surprise



As I expected, even with proper planning I couldn't avoid someone else's mistakes during my move back to the States.  First, all my change of address updates still couldn't stop one of my banks from mailing to the wrong address.  Secondly, even after sending a few reminders to our financial gurus, my service-needs-differential pay still hasn't shown up in my bank account.  And lastly, my unaccompanied air baggage (UAB) that was to arrive in the States first, got held up because someone at the airline didn't understand what unaccompanied means.  New airline regs as of last Nov prevent unaccompanied luggage from being shipped as excess baggage when the passenger is not on the same plane.  Luggage without a passenger has to be shipped as cargo.  So I'll get to wait another week or more on my UAB shipment until the shipper can find cargo space on another plane somewhere in Moscow.  And my guitar gets to sit there as well gently weeping..

But on the bright side, I met with a fencing company this week for a quote on building a new fence for the front of the house.  I'm looking forward to having an enclosed backyard again, not only for the dog but for my own enjoyment.  

Before the meet with the fencing contact, I took some time to walk around my future neighborhood in Falls Church.  It's just a short distance from two different bus lines and two major highways. There's also several elementary and high schools nearby.  All the better for turning my house into a rental in the future.

But for now, I'm still renting until the actual close date the first week of June.  It looks like everything will go through we're just waiting on the title to be checked for all the previous owner history and then I'll sign the paperwork. 


House (not the tv show or the movies)


My house buying endeavor is still in the works.  I had a home inspection done earlier this week.  The house is in pretty good shape and will only need a few preventive maintenance projects to help it continue that way.  Most of the work will be on the outside to prevent damage to the basement and roof.  So a few trips to home depot will be in my immediate future if the closing goes as planned.

I've been back in the States (Virginia) about 2 weeks now.  So I'm still living out of a couple suitcases. My UAB (unaccompanied air baggage) should arrive next week.  The rest of my house hold effects and car will come much later, hopefully before I start my next assignment in June.  I've really missed having my guitar over the last month.  But I packed it in my UAB so I'll be seeing it shortly and back to practicing again.  

Until then, I have free time to visit friends, exercise and focus on buying a house.  

Buying a house

Now that I'm back in the States, I'm busying looking for a house to buy.  I alloted extra home leave time to find something that would fit what I needed.  It didn't take as long as I imagined.  After a week of looking at prospects I found three places that fit the bill.  The first one ended up with too many offers on it.  So I didn't bother.  The second and third choices were hard to choose between but I opted for the one with the better location and renovations.  

I'm still in the offer phase so it's not mine officially.  It's been interesting, as a first time home buyer, to see what's you have to go through to buy a home.  Fortunately, I've been saving my money for the last 4 years for a bigger down payment.  The bigger the down payment the less the home loan will be obviously.  And with a shorter payment time frame you can reduce the accompanying interest rate quite substantially.

All of my financial paperwork was submitted to the mortgage company last week.  They reviewed it to make sure I can afford the loan payment on a monthly basis and that I don't have any surprise debts that I'm hiding.  

I'm following up on having a home inspection done next week.  The appraiser came back with his appraisal and it turned out to be exactly what I gave as an offer.  I could be living in my own home by June if all goes well.


Back in the U.S.

I'm back.  Lucia and I made the trip safely and with only minor problems during the checkin and customs procedures.

Leaving Russia, I had to pay for Lucia's flight to Seoul.  She was checked as excess baggage.  Originally the airline quoted me a figure close to US$300.  But in reality it only cost close to US$100.  So I had a wad of roubles to exchange when I got to the US.  The flight was short to Seoul.  The only problem I had was my bag had been checked as a direct baggage so it would have gone on with out me.  I caught it in time and they pulled it from the next flight.  It took a while to get Lucia since they had to shuttle her from the plane to the departing terminal.  

Since I was staying over night in Seoul, I had to stop at the Quarantine office in the airport to fill out paper work on the dog.  There was no physical check done by the staff which I thought was strange.  I only had to pay about 10,000 won (US$9) and we were on our way.

Next up was getting to the hotel in Seoul.  I found a pay phone and then realized I didn't have any local currency.  After exchanging some roubles for won, I got in touch with the hotel and arranged for the airport shuttle.

I stayed at the Incheon Airport Bridge hotel.  The hotel was ok and the staff were very helpful.  And I really can't complain due to the low cost of staying one night.

The flight the next day was at 10AM so I left early enough to make sure I checked in on time.  We were traveling from Seoul directly to DC.  Which seemed like a good idea originally but now seemed like a very long flight for a dog.  If I had it all to do over again, I'd have booked two medium length flights.  But I didn't want to flight to Moscow and deal with any surprises there vs Seoul.

During the long flight on Korean Air/Delta I asked the flight staff if they check on the pets in the cargo hold.  The flight attendant had to go ask someone and then came back to tell me they don't handle that and don't know who does.  I guess there must be more people working on the plane than I realized.

After the flight, I had to wait on passport staff to check my passport.  The queues were backed up for 30 minutes before they finally got more staff to help out.  I could see the baggage crew bring in Lucia's crate during this time and it made me even more impatient.  Lucia was going on 18 hours of being in the cage.  When I finally got through to baggage claim, she saw me and started to whine.  I still had to go through customs yet and she wasn't getting any happier.  I had to give up most of the dog food I had in my carry on since it was dry food in baggies.  Even the russian canned food was seized.  So that was something I'd forgotten to plan for.

We finally made it outside the airport in Dulles and I let Lucia out.  She immediately found the nearest grassy area and soon after was a happy but now very tired dog.  I hailed a cab and we made our way to the rental I had reserved in Virginia.

After checking in and a quick run to the store, we were both ready to crash for the day.