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February 2012

Housing market prices on the rise..


Buy vs. Rent

. . at least for northern Virginia.  DC and some of it's surrounding neighborhoods are seeing a slight rise in housing prices.  See here for more details.

I was a bit worried about moving back to the states and purchasing a home.  I guess DC has enough of a draw on federal workers to keep the market stronger than other parts of the country.  Some reports show people are renting more now nationwide, compared to buying.  Landlords benefit in return for the increased demand for apartments and even single family homes.  As long as the stability of the market is in question, renting my be the norm for awhile.  There's also an increase in lender's renting out foreclosed homes in order to reduce the burden on banks trying to sell homes.  The steadily dropping interest rate is also enticing homeowners into refinancing home loans, well at least those owners that still have homes worth what they original paid.

I never thought buying a home would make me feel like gambling in Vegas.  I'm betting the beltway will continue to pay off rather than losing to the house.

Call now and we'll throw in a set of..



Here's a nice link to some companies that offer discounts to military personnel and government employees.  I can't vouch for every company's claim.  Many of the links are provided by customers and may only be specific to that store or location.  But it's worth checking out, especially if you're looking for discounts on traveling or buying electronics.

I've purchased software through Microsoft's home use program and also benefit from Verizon's federal employee discount.  I also bought some Apple software products and it saved me quite a bit.


Partner in crime


Giz and Lucia


Lucia's buddy Gizmo (left) during his stay last month

Being a pet owner in DC has been a bit easier when it comes to finding others with pets.  When I'm overseas, finding someone to look after a pet when you're on R&R or traveling is always tricky.  Since you tend to travel farther away and for longer periods you want to make sure the pet sitter is prepared in the event something happens.  A kind friend in Vladivostok was my backup for pet emergencies if a temporary pet sitter had to  take Lucia to the clinic.   

Transporting pets can take a while to prepare for depending on how you need to travel.  I was fortunate during my last trip overseas.  Some airlines restrict what months of the year they allow a dog to fly in the cargo section, due to the risk of heat exhaustion.  It's no problem if your dog meets the maximum weight limit, they can reside caged in the cabin space with you.  

Quarantine is also another issue.  I flew through Seoul during my last trip.  The Customs/Quarantine office at the airport needed an International Vet certificate saying my dog was approved and cleared for transport.  I picked it up a couple days prior to leaving my place of departure and arriving in Seoul.  They had me fill out a Quarantine form and then stamped my papers so I could fly out the next day.  I had a reservation at a pet friendly hotel near the airport so we were able to spend the rest of the time getting plenty of exercise and resting up for the big flight from Seoul to the US.  

Coming into DC was not a problem either.  I had the blessing of the Vet certificate and my shot records from my Russian vet, which showed which vaccinations she had in English also.  There was a bit of a delay waiting for them to unload all the cargo out of the plane.  So by the time I got her through the baggage claim and through Customs she was ready to break out of her kennel.  The only trouble I had was bringing a couple foreign "canned" dog food products in my carry on.  Dulles Customs officials made me dispose of them on the spot.  But after that we were free to go and I introduced Lucia to her new home.

My best advice to pet owners is to contact as many people as you can to find out what the requirements are for airports, customs, quarantine, and any special country restrictions you need to be aware of.  Even though it's not the GSO's responsibility, they might be able to provide some names or numbers of contacts if you ask them nicely.

Sunday in DC


I don't visit the district as much as I should. With a new home, I tend to get wrapped up in projects unrelated to typical tourist fare. But I'm trying to change that since I still have several capital sites I need to visit. One perk with visiting DC on a Sunday is free parking. Winter weather tends to reduce crowds also. Most of the time I end up visiting the National Mall. There's usually plenty of parking near the Capital. Which works out well if you're visiting the National Art Gallery or the Archives, which are where I ended up.

The Archives were worth the visit just to see the Declaration of Independance, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights which are located in the Rotunda.   The Gallery had a Picasso exhibit that was a nice plus for a typical visit.

8 weeks down - as an ex-smoker


Now that I've gone this long without a cigarette the newest of of being an ex-smoker has worn off.  When an urge hits it comes with a renewed strength now.  But even on my worst days, I'm still able to push an urge aside.  I may not be very happy during those times of stress, but then again who is?  Once a stressful situation is resolved, I look back and remember I didn't have to rely on a cigarette to help deal with it. . I think some people forget that no matter how bad they may be feeling at that precise moment, if they would just wait things do eventually get better.;

Fortunately, I've decreased my food intake also.  I've held my weight steady for the last two weeks.  Once I'm cleared for jogging again, I'll be able to drop down a bit to my usual weight.  Until then, I'll just have to keep watching what I'm trying to eat.