Friday 24 July 2015

Friday 24/7/2015 - Houses, Health Checks, Bond Updates & This Week's Wristwatches


Back in 1990 when I was in the market to buy my first car, I went to see a nearby dealer who specialised in spare parts for BMW and Mercedes-Benz. He had a 1970 Mercedes-Benz 280S for sale. The price was six and a half grand. I had a look at it and took it for a test-drive. It was a white 2.8 litre four-speed manual and it drove very smoothly. 

About a week later, I went to take another look at it, this time with my friend Daniel. He took it for a spin, and when he got back, the dealer said to me; 'Okay, so are you interested in this car?'
I told him I had to think about it. Daniel and I left his premises.

'What are you doin', Ritz? Do you wanna buy it?', he asked me as I fished out a pack of Marlboro Lights, offered him one, and then lit it with my brushed steel Zippo lighter.
'Man, it's all happening too fast!', I answered as I took a drag of my own cigarette.
'These things always do' , he responded. 'He's got the car for sale, it's a good car, you've got the money, so what are you waiting for?'
We finished our smokes, went back into the dealer's shop and I filled out the paperwork. Next day, I went back and handed over sixty-five hundred dollars and drove home in my new (to me) car. 
Daniel was right. These things do happen fast.


Last Thursday
                       I got a call from a real estate agent.  There was a house up for sale. Would I like to take a look at it? I asked about the price range and was taken aback by the vendor's asking price, which was the minimum that they would accept.
Things began happening quickly once I hung up the phone. I sent my wife a text message to see if she wanted to go take a look at this house later that day. She was working until 2:oopm. I had scheduled the viewing for 2:30. The kids had to be picked up from school at 3:oo.

We drove out to the place later that day. The agent was standing out front and we made our introductions. He explained to us that the vendors were home, but they would be happy for us to take a tour of their house. So, in we went.
The bedrooms were a tad smaller than what we have in our house. That's no big deal.
There are two lounge/living rooms in this place. Nice.
There's a dining room that can easily be used as a study. Fantastic.
The master bedroom has a small en suite and is situated away from the kid's rooms. Cool.
The house has insulation in the ceiling AND the walls. Pow!
There's plenty of storage space in this house. Wonderful.
We met the vendors. They were a lovely couple, and had very obviously looked after and maintained this home since they had it built back in 1973. Yes, it's a very '70s design, with lots of space, high ceilings and built-in furniture in some rooms. I christened this house 'The Concorde', based on its sloping roof, which reminded me of the airliner's wingspan.
We thanked the vendors and the real estate agent, and headed off to pick up the kids.
Now all we had to do was come up with an offer on this house.

The way this agency works is like this; They tell you the price range that the vendor is seeking. You then put in an offer via silent bid. Once a few of these bids are collected, each one is placed into an envelope for the vendor to look at and decide.
It is a little nerve-wracking because, as a buyer, you can't help but think that you're offering way more for a house than you might pay if it had gone to auction.
Later that night, my wife and I busted out pen, paper, and calculator and did some number crunching.
We weighed up our options.
Here's the kindergarten version;

Buy a lower-priced house that needs work;

   Price range - $3.50 to $4.00
   Leaving ourselves with $1.00 to $2.00 to spend on repair/renovation costs (if it needs extensive work done or we want to add an extra room.)


Buy a house that doesn't need much done to it;

   Price range - $4.50 to $5.50
   Leaving us with .50 cents in the bank, but the house doesn't need anything done to it.

Most houses that we have seen in the last three months have either been renovated to the nines, or have been absolute hovels that would need a lot of time, trouble and money just to make them liveable.
We had gotten a little desperate in recent weeks. Pricing has gone through the roof since we sold our own house earlier this year.
After much calculation, we arrived at a figure we were willing (and able) to offer on this house. It was about fifteen grand beyond what we had considered our absolute maximum.

Last Friday
                  We went to see the real estate agent. 'Give me all your money', he said. We hashed out prices. I understood the agent's reasoning. I mean, beyond his wanting to make himself a higher commission. This isn't like a normal auction. We can't hear or see what somebody else is bidding on this place, so we have to bid as high as we possibly can without resorting to dog food for dinner for the next decade.
I looked at my wife, she looked at me. We both knew that our offer would be lower than what other bidders would offer, based on the ridiculously high bids that we have seen at auctions lately and the fact that home loan interest rates are still at a low 2%.
Also, my wife works part-time, and I'm still looking for work. We are indeed hobbled by our current circumstances.
She and I had agreed not to let emotion get into the mix, but I had already day-dreamed about us sitting down in the comfy lounge room, with the heating on, to watch a DVD while the kids sat in the other living area with Playstation controllers in their hands.
We had already gone beyond what we had planned to spend on the place.
However, sometimes, you just gotta bet with your balls.
'I can take on a few extra shifts at work', she said.
We bumped up our offer by another three grand.
The agent explained that he would submit all offers to the vendors next day and he would call us by 3:00pm Saturday to let us know if we were successful with our bid.

Last Saturday
                      We went to view a property that was for sale above a cafe. My wife used to live above a shop back in her twenties and this place reminded her of that time. I hated it. It didn't feel 'homey' to me.
We got home and had lunch. The time slowly rolled around to 3:00pm. My phone didn't ring. The minutes ticked on to 3:30pm. No phone call.
Ah well, maybe the vendors are still reviewing the offers. Maybe they've decided to think about it over the weekend and give their decision on Monday. That's what I was thinking, but by four o'clock, I figured we had probably been outbid.
My phone rang at around 4:30pm. It was the agent; 'Did you place an order for No. 55 XXXXXXX Street in XXXXXX?', he asked.
Two thoughts raced through my mind right then- "We got it!!!"
"This guy has the nastiest sense of humour I've ever come across."
Not wanting to get my hopes up, and in an effort to play along, I responded; 'Yes I did, but I was waiting on information regarding availability of stock.'
I glanced over at my wife, who was sitting on the couch looking at me with a smirk of anticipation.
'Congratulations, they accepted your offer', the agent said.
'Oh, fantastic!', I replied, but I don't recall what else I said. I pictured us packing everything up in this house that we've lived in for the last fifteen years. This house that has served us well in that time, but grew too small as the kids grew larger.
The agent went on; 'They liked you and XXXXXX, and they wanted you to have the house. They said they hope you'll have as many happy years there as they've had.'
Two days earlier, we didn't know this house existed.
These things happen fast.

             I had a doctor's appointment. This was a biggie. It was a free Health Assessment Check for 45 to 49 year-olds. It was basically the closest you can get these days to asking your doctor for a complete physical, like you see in old movies. They'd sent me the invitation months ago and I kept putting it off.
Anyway, I turned up in track pants, T-shirt and pullover and away we went. They shaved part of my chest so that they could attach the ECG sensors to check my heart rate. I looked like Steve Carell in The 40 Year Old Virgin. They attached inflatable sleeves to both arms and ankles to check my blood pressure. They gave me a Spirometric test to measure lung strength. They checked my height- 5'10". Hmm, I think I've shrunk half an inch in recent years.
Then I spoke to my doctor. The blood sample that I gave them a week earlier shows a reduction in white blood cells (a condition known as Neutropenia) which makes me a little more susceptible to infection. Great.
And I was low on Vitamin D too. He suggested a follow-up appointment in a month. And then he said; 'Right, your prostate.'
I should have known, given the blue rubber gloves he was wearing.
'Oh, really?', I said. 'I thought the blood test was for prostate.'
'Yes, but it's not as exact. We don't have to if you don't want to.'
'Okay, so the glove test is more thorough than the blood test alone?', I asked.
'Exactly. But looking at the test results...' (He gave me some numbers that I can't recall. Basically, I'm not at risk of prostate cancer just yet.)...'But we could do it at a later stage, given your low numbers. I'm not concerned about it', he added.
'I got no real problem with having it done, but I'm just not in the uh...right mindset for it today', I said.
'It's up to you. We don't have to', he stated.
'Okay, how's about we pencil it in for twelve months from now?', I asked.
'Yes, that would be fine. It's not urgent', he said.
'Okay, cool. And I'll bring flowers, too.'
I was wearing the 36.2mm Omega Seamaster AquaTerra Co-Axial;

I got out of there and headed home. I had to get to the real estate agent's office to pay the deposit on the house. I got home, flicked on the coffee machine and got changed. I was going out to hand over a cheque for tens of thousands of dollars. I had to look the part. I had to look like a player. But I wanted to look like an old-school one. So, off came the AquaTerra and on went the circa 1962 Omega Seamaster Automatic;

                   Big Bond day today. I pre-ordered a copy of the new Bond book, Trigger Mortis, by Anthony Horowitz, due out in October. This copy is numbered and signed. Nifty! Nothing to do now except wait.
Later in the afternoon came the news that the new full trailer for SPECTRE had gone online; - New SPECTRE Trailer Released

Our internet allowance for the month (50Gb) ran out a week ago and has been running at dial-up speed ever since. It might have something to do with my daughter spending way too much time on Instagram since she got herself an iPod Touch. We've read her the riot act a few times. I'm happy to report that she's been using her iPod for listening to music, rather than anything else, since I told her what a time-trap social media sites can be. They did a survey in her classroom a few weeks ago and she learned that most of her classmates are on three or four different social media sites. These girls are twelve years old.
My wife and I explained to our princess that we didn't care if other parents allowed their children access to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. We reminded her that we run our household a little more 20th Century than most people - 'See all those typewriters, Missy?' - and we try not to rely too heavily on the internet and social media.
Anyway, I had a new Bond movie trailer to watch. On dial-up speed, it took about ten minutes to load up. Hard to know how this film will go, based on a two-and-a-half minute trailer, but I think it's gonna be awesome!

Director Sam Mendes announced earlier this week that he would not direct any more Bond films. He cited the commitment and work involved in helming one of these films takes him away from his theatre projects and he gets 'pilloried' by his friends for directing a Bond film.
Well, Mr Mendes, Ian Fleming himself was often derided by his literary friends for writing the Bond novels. You have Skyfall on your resume now and, for better or worse, you will always be remembered for having made a great Bond film. As well as American Beauty, The Road To Perdition and Revolutionary Road, to name a few.

Directing a Bond film is not slumming it. It's adding to the mythology of an enduringly popular fictional character. And something like a Bond movie does what movies have always done- help people to forget about their own problems for a couple of hours while entertaining them in the process.
Oh, and Happy Birthday (the BIG Five-Oh!) for next week, Mr Mendes!

Being in Bond mode, I switched over to the Rolex Submariner 5513;

           Had an appointment with my solicitor. Paperwork to be signed. Back to the business-like Omega AquaTerra;

While driving home, my phone beeped. I pulled over and checked the message;

Full blood count slightly 
abnormal- please make an 
appointment to discuss.

I called the doctor's surgery and made an appointment for midday on Monday.

' Don't worry about it, worry at it.'
         - Vice Admiral (Ret.) Sir Miles Messervy KCMG, better known as 'M'.

There's no way I plan to spend this weekend worrying about my blood test results. I'll know more about it this time on Monday.
As I've gotten older, I've tried to worry less about stuff until I have all the facts. Sometimes it's an easy process, and sometimes it ain't.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend, all!


  1. Congratulations on the new house! I hope it all goes smoothly with all the legal stuff. I've just bought my first house (well small flat as I'm in my mid 20's), and by coincidence I'm picking up the keys tonight. The whole thing's been in legal limbo for months, and it's a relief.

    I should have thought ahead like you and worn my more classic watch today (Tissot Visiodate thanks to your great review), but I'm wearing a Seiko 5 flight watch on a "classic" Bond grey and black stripe NATO strap. It'll do as it tells the time so I won't be late, and has the date so I can fill out the paperwork :)

    Keep up the good work!

  2. Congrats on the new home, and may the tumblers all fall into place smoothly, both with home and health.. (:

  3. Congrats and good luck with the home.
    Can recognize about 12yr olds - can tell you they're much the same on this opposite end of the globe :)
    Have now created a separate WiFi net for the kids and limit that on bandwidth to temper the use a bit.

  4. Well, congratulations! Indeed, those things do move fast. Looking forward to hearing about the new place once you're set up.

  5. @ thenumberthirteen, congrats on the flat! A big step at your age and a wise move too.

    @ Ted, thank-you. One big headache taken care of.

    @ RobertG, thanks. Hopefully, our new 'net plan should do the trick, although we'll still be telling them to go easy on it.

    @ Scott K, thanks. So much crap to move. Still it'll be good to do some serious culling of stuff.