Monday, June 28, 2010

I am not a Professional Striper.

It's been another busy week for us.

(Every week is, though, so that's nothing new.)

Last Monday, I striped our parking lot. The lines were really faded, so it seemed like a good idea. The previous owner told us it was one of the best things he ever did, and he said you can call up a company and they'll come out and paint the stripes for like $100.

Here is a "before" picture:

But we only have 7 or 8 stripes, so I was like, "NO PROBLEM! I'll just do it!" Because I have experience with that sort of thing, anyway.*

So I found out that there was striping paint that you could just buy(!)** at Lowie's or HD, to do parking lots. Piece of cake! It's called "Striping Paint"*** because it's for making stripes. And it would seem like stripes would always be for parking lots, but it turns out there are SO MANY USES for striping paint.**** In fact, striping paint is such a big deal that there is a whole secret code for what colors you're supposed to use when you stripe things. [The legend (key?) is on boxes of things, in case you don't know it. One example is, you don't use red paint for painting parking lines.] They also make marking paint, which can be used for stripes. It's more popular for marking gas lines, or power lines, or trees to cut down, though.

So anyway, I really looked into it and I saw online that you can paint stripes with either a striping machine thing, or with a marking wand thing. The difference is, the striping machine (about $100) has four intense (all-terrain! (I think)) wheels, to keep things really straight, and the line you spray can vary in width. The marking wand (about $20) just has a little wheel to keep things as straight as you can draw them.
I decided that I was not a hard-core enough parking-striper to buy a special striping machine. The wand would work for me! So I went and bought my can of striping paint (to cover 250 ft! Wow!), and a wand. I bought some pink plastic DON'T GO HERE! tape, so that I could block off the parking lot and our tenants would remember NOT TO GO THERE.

On Friday I posted a sign on everyone's doors to say:
1. We're re-painting the parking lot stripes on Monday!
2. Please move your cars by 8:30 am and don't plan to park in the lot again until 7 pm! (Because I knew I would probably be there at 9:00 or so, and I wanted to give them a little extra time to be moved. Also, the paint said it would take 8 hours to dry, so I wanted to allow myself an hour or so, just in case it took me longer to paint than I thought it would, plus plenty of time for things to dry.)
3. If you don't move your car, I reserve the right to tow it, at your expense. (To emphasize that it was important, and just in case.) Buuut, please just plan to park somewhere else, pretty please.

It was a great sign! It even had a border and a giant can of paint in the lower corner, just like people would expect.

So on Monday morning, I gathered my striping paint, and my marking wand, and my pink tape, and some masking tape (just in case!) and I headed off to the property.

A car was still parked there, but two of the other tenants who were home had moved their cars to the street. (Good job, guys!) The car was parked on one end, so I decided I would just block it off, and then if I could, I would paint around it. And if not, then I would knock on doors and ask whoever it was to move it. Or maybe paint another day. Towing cars is pretty mean, I think.

So I put up my pink DON'T GO HERE tape, and I stretched it from the fence on one side, allllllll the way across the ends of the parking spaces, down to the mailboxes. I tightened it so that it would remain as taut as it could for being stretched so far with no support in the middle.

I started laying out masking tape, so that I would be able to see my lines really clearly. The existing lines were pretty worn out, so I just wanted to be sure that I did a good job, and kept the lines pretty straight.

I taped up one line and part of a second one, and then I ran out of masking tape.

Oh well! No big deal!

But the tape didn't stick too well (because it's an old parking lot, and the asphalt is gravel in a lot of places now). So I would use my hand to brush the little rocks away, and tape it down where it was coming up. I also brushed the rocks out of the parking line area, because OF COURSE if you paint lines on gravel it's going to look pretty bad pretty quickly.

I was ready to go!

I pulled the marking wand out, and I assembled it, by attaching the wheel. It popped right in! Good!

I read the instructions. Twice. And then I shook the can (vigorously!) for a full two minutes after I could hear the little metal ball inside. I took the cap off of the striping paint, and put the can in the wand, and I think I lined things up right, and I went over to my taped line, and I lined it up straight in the middle of the space to be painted. (You've got to be careful with lining things up when you're using a wand instead of a striping machine, but it's just a sacrifice you have to make.)

I pulled the trigger on the wand, and...

Nothing happened.

I rolled the wand back and forth, and click, click, clicked the trigger.


I picked it up, and looked at it, and I wondered if maybe I hadn't lined it up right. Maybe I had mixed up the thing something was supposed to be parallel with, and it wasn't working right. So I turned the can around, and put it down, and centered it...

And nothing happened when I tried to stripe that time either.

So I looked at how it was working. The little lever needed to hit the top of the paint can, and it seemed like it did, but it just wasn't working. I sprayed the striping paint, to be sure that it wasn't unusually difficult, or clogged, or something. It worked.


I called Rust-Oleum to see if we could figure it out together, but they were currently experiencing a high call volume. So I stayed on the line, but I continued trying to get it to work.

After several minutes of it not working, and several minutes of Rust-Oleum queue music, I headed towards Lowe's. Obviously there was either something wrong with my striping paint, or with my wand. Maybe the wand thing that pokes the top of the can wasn't assembled facing the right direction.

Halfway to Lowe's, Rust-Oleum answered. I explained the problem, and explained that I was on my way to the store, to see what was wrong. The Rust-Oleum girl was like, "OH, well, I know exactly what your problem is." I told her, "Oh! Great! You do?"

Her: "Yes. You see, you're using the marking wand with striping paint. That's not gonna work. The tops are shaped differently. That's why it isn't working. That's not gonna work. With the marking wand you've got to use marking paint."

Me: "Ohhhhh, so if I want to use striping paint, I need to use the more expensive machine. See, I'm new to this. I've never done this before, and it's just for our little parking lot. So I just thought stripes were a kind of marking, so they seemed like the same thing to me. [Chuckle.]"

Her: "Yeahhh. ... No, you can use the marking paint, though, and that will work for you."

Me: "Even for parking lots? The lines won't be as good though, will they? I thought the marking paint was for like, marking gas lines and things. Can I still get crisp lines with the marking paint?"

Her (reassuringly): "Oh, yeah. The marking paint works for parking lots too. It won't last quite as long, and it won't be quite as crisp of lines as you would get if you were using striping, but..."

Me: "Right...that's understandable."

Her: "But. Yeah, you can still get that crisp line you're looking for."

Me: "Ohhh, okay. Well, I guess I'll do that, then. That should work. I'm still driving to the store, so I'll just plan to get that instead, and now I don't need to figure out what's wrong. [Chuckle.] Thanks."

Her: "Okay. And don't get mad at the people working at the hardware store for it, because that's what you bought.." [Or something like that.]

Me: [Confused.] "What? Oh. ... No. I'm not a mean customer like that. I'm just going to get the marking paint instead. ... All right. Thanks for your help. Have a good day."

Her: "You too. Goodbye."

I wasn't like, angry on the call, so I don't know why she told me to not get mad at the hardware store. But, whatever, it was nice to know what the problem was.

So I got to Lowe's and I went in, and I grabbed a can of (white) marking paint, and some masking tape (just in case), and I hustled back to the parking lot.

I could see that the top of the paint was totally different, just like she had mentioned. I shook that paint for a couple minutes, got it centered on my taped up line, and started spraying.

And it sprayed! made such a skinny (and semi-transparent!) line that I had to go back and forth, back and forth to get to the sides, and to make it opaque enough. I taped up the second line the rest of the way, and I started spraying that line. And then, I ran out of marking paint.

After 1 1/2 lines!

[Please note: most of the white in the picture is masking tape.]

Good grief.

So I could see that marking paint was not going to work for me. It didn't look very good. The lines were not crisp at all (except for what the masking tape did), and they weren't very solid, and I went through the stuff SO fast. It wasn't even all that windy! And I had brushed the gravel away!

I drove to Home Depot and got myself a paint-striper. I bought another can of striping paint, too, just in case.

And I drove back, shook the can (vigorously!) for two minutes, and put it in the machine. It worked! I ended up needing to brush away gravel on all of the stripes, and that was a pain, but our parking lot is re-striped!*****

So, I'm pretty happy with how that all went. Now that we own a marking wand and a striping machine, plus I used three cans of paint (1 marking, 2 striping), the job cost us about $150 plus 3 hours of time (instead of $100 and no time). So, it was not the most profitable decision, at least for the short-term. But now I know what's up--I know the difference between marking and striping. And if anyone wants me to paint parking lines for them, I have the tools!

(It kind of makes me want to set up a race. Because I could maybe find temporary marking paint, and then it would be just like what they use for 5Ks and stuff. Not sure what I would raise money for, if I had a race. But I should probably think about that, since, of course, the only thing people really need in order to have a race is a marking wand, right?)

When I finished at about noon, I hurried home to take Chalcy outside, and then I hurried over to J's parents' house, because J's dad had volunteered to fix sprinklers with me.

* One time, (in California) I was walking over to the grocery store from the little Italian restaurant where I worked, and there was a guy re-painting the STOP letters on the asphalt, in the parking lot. I'd never seen anyone do that before! So I stopped and asked him about it. He was using a (big!) stencil and some paint, and rolling it out. It was pretty simple, he said. He offered to let me do one of the letters, and I DID. I thought it was kind of cool. So, I have a lot of experience with this sort of thing, actually, you know?
** As long as you are 18 or older.
*** (which I always confuse with "Stripping Paint" so it looks more risque than it actually is, but what would "stripping paint" even be used for anyway? Usually stripping is removing, not adding, so like, for removing paint from walls, I think you use a stripping solvent or something. I don't know.)
**** Like painting aisles. Or basketball courts. Etc.
***** Except for the one paint line by the car, because I ran out of paint right then anyway. (And the store was all out. And I was tired of doing that project, because I thought it would take like an hour, and it was already almost noon.)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bringing Chalcy Home!

Now, here is a short post with some pictures from when we brought Chalcy home.

We met up at Chalcy's dad's house, so I wouldn't have to drive all the way up to Smithfield again (2 hours each way!). His name is Axel and he is 36" tall (at his shoulders?), which is very tall, even for a Great Dane. The lady who owns him said she hasn't weighed him in a while, but the last time she did, he weighed 150lbs. He is massive! But he is just the friendliest guy.

Me with Chalcy, right after the lady (not the one in the picture above; the one who owns the mom) gave Chalcy to me, for us to keep.

Holding Chalcy for the ride home! I put a towel on my lap after the picture. She licked and licked and licked me! And then she was a little nervous for the first half of the ride. She slept in my lap for the second half of the ride.

After we got home, we took her out to the backyard to do her business, and to romp around a little bit. Mostly, she just wanted to sleep in my lap for awhile. This is the first non-blurry, awake picture of Chalcy, at home.

J playing with Chalcy. He plays nicely with her. She thinks he is a lot of fun. (He is.)

And then this last picture is of Chalcy, the morning after we brought her home, playing with her KONG for the first time. She figured out how to get the treats out, and I think she could smell the treat inside the toy, but when the treats would fall out, she didn't realize treats had come out, so she would just leave them around on the floor. (Which kind of defeats the purpose of the toy, because the dog is supposed to feel rewarded for figuring out how to get the treat out. But, whatever, she'll get it sooner or later.)

That's all for now! I'll have to post more later about lots of fun things, like 'Meeting Paley!', and 'Deep Cleaning My Entire Carpet, 6" at a Time!'.

Naming Puppy, or "Rules for Naming Dogs"

It is so difficult to name pets, I think.

The thing is, it's awkward when you give a pet a person-name. Jess and I had our cat Abby, and it seemed to just be kind of awkward because sometimes there are little girls named Abby, and I just think "Hey, I had a terrible cat named Abby!"

I would have liked to call our puppy "Gracie" because I think that's a cute name for a dog, but one of the girls in J and I's primary class is named Grace. How weird would that be to name our dog Gracie and then tell our primary kids about it.
Me: "Brother K and I got a puppy!"
J: "We did!"
Kids: "Oh!" "What did you name it?"
Me: ... "Gracie!"
Kids: "Like Grace in our class?"
Grace: "That's my name!"
Us: .... [?]

It's a little different if you're copying a person name for a person, because then it's just like you liked the name. Dogs are not people, though. Like, how would everyone I know feel if I named my chickens after them? Somehow it makes a weird association that doesn't belong. Like, if your name is Sam and I named a chicken after you, and I pretend it's actually named SAMantha, but I always call her Sam. Then I talk about Sam laying eggs, and maybe I share Sam's eggs with Sam, and eventually I have to eat Sam because she doesn't lay enough and it's time to have some fresh chicken. Like, do I invite my friend Sam to come eat dinner that day? (Because it was the bird named after him, so he should get to enjoy some?) Or do I especially, certainly, most definitely not invite him for dinner that day? (Because we're eating his namesake?) The whole thing is just a little weird. Dogs are different, because we're not eating our puppy, but still.*


So, people names that are uncommon are okay, because people name kids weird things anyway. You could name your dog "Comeheregirl!" and some lady in downtown New York could name her daughter "Comeheregirl!" too, anyway.

Tracy and Freddy named their dog Riley, and that seemed like an okay dog name. Dog names that are people names but also common dog names are okay, because if you're a lady who names your kid Riley, you've just got to know that your precious baby is going to share the name with slobbery dogs. Jake? Same thing. But you name your kid Jacob, usually, not Jake, and everyone calls him Jake, but nicknames are fair game for dogs, so your kid can still be dignified.

I kind of like old names for pets. It makes them charming, I think. I wanted to name our dog Betsy. J thought it sounded like a name for a cow. I said no, that's Bessy, not Betsy, but he still didn't like it. I also liked Dolley, because she's going to be a big dog that just kind of flops on the couch, like a doll. J said no, that's a sheep name. I guess it sometimes is.

For a few minutes J and I both liked 'Sadie.' But it turns out Jess likes that name for a kid, and it's not nice to use the name your sister actually really likes and specifically mentions when you're naming your dog.**

I also really like giving pets names that are somehow meaningful. Paley is named after something on purpose. When you're naming things, it does not matter what the actual definition of the word is.*** What I mean is, if the definition of the name 'Susan' is believed to come from Susanna which is believed to come from 'shoshan' in Hebrew, comes from the Egyptian word which means "lotus flower," who cares? Because your daughter Susan is not going to become a flower, and nobody else will know (or care) what the name meant**** hundreds of years ago.

What I mean is, I think the best names for dogs are ones that mean something to me. What I really wanted for Puppy was a name like 'Dewalt[e]' or 'Makita' ('Kita' for short?) since I like tools and want to be BUILDING THINGS. (Or 'Easa' for like Easement since that's a real estate word and I'm doing property management these days. Or 'Cara' to be short for Carolyn, who was our excellent real estate agent, and after Cara my stylist*****. Or 'Beck[a]' because I like Glen Beck. Eh. But people would think it was Becca, and that's too close to a people name, since there are SO many 'Becky's.)

None of those were quite right, though. So instead, we decided to go with a name that was inspired by this book:

We are calling our puppy Chalcy, after one of Kyra Sundance's dogs that co-author. The actual Chalcy even has an author page on

When I was buying puppy stuff, I saw this book and another book by Kyra Sundance, 51 Puppy Tricks. I bought the puppy one because it seemed more geared towards people with puppies. One of the reviews on Amazon says not to buy the puppy one because the dog one includes all of the puppy ones too, so I felt bad for a few minutes for buying the puppy one instead of the dog one. But actually, the puppy one uses a lot of clicker training, which I knew we wanted to do, and it has instructions and advice specific to puppies, which makes me feel more confident about doing this whole process.

So anyway, J and I both liked the way 'Chalcy' sounds and it is:
a) not a people name;
b) not too many syllables;
c) doesn't sound too much like 'Paley';
d) doesn't sound too much like "sit" or "stay" or "down" or other things we want her to know later; and
e) a good daily reminder for J and I of what we want our puppy to be like (and what she will be like, sort of, if we are Diligent Dog Owners and do what we need to to be Responsible and train her like Good Dog Owners do).

So far, the only problem with the name is that it sounds similar to 'Chelsea' so when people ask what her name is and I say 'Chalcy' they say "Oh, Chelsea? How nice!" But her name is Not Chelsea. But it really doesn't matter too much, because random friendly shoppers at PetSmart don't actually care what her name is and they are not going to see her again anyway. So it usually isn't worth correcting, and once she has her tag, people will read it and understand anyway.

* It almost seems a little bit to me like those dolls that people put pins in to cast spells or something. Like, you're here against your will, or something.
** When you're naming children, if you're pregnant first, you can use whatever name you want, even if your sister likes the name. But when you're naming dogs, that's not nice, and you're not supposed to, even if the person who likes the name is not expecting.
*** Unless unknown definitions mean something special to you.
**** (Supposedly, probably, people think)
***** Who also had (and loved!) a Dane when she was younger. We talked all about it when I had my hair done last week. She's fantastic.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Puppy Prep

I've been trying to get ready for our puppy.

I've read as many 'Bringing Your Puppy Home,' 'Housebreaking Your New Puppy,' and 'Training Your Puppy' articles* as I could find. Especially ones specific to Danes.

I think I've bought all of the 'Essential Items for Puppies!' (except that I don't like the food/water dish that I got, so I'm not going to use it.) Puppy has:
- a crate** for crate training;
- a towel that smells like me (sort of)***;
- a soft toy ("as a poor substitute for her missing littermates," one website said);
- a puppy Nylabone (and a Kong with special treats, to pull out for her sometime soon);
- a clicker (and a book about training);
- a lot of liver treats****;
- a big bag of large breed puppy food (so I don't ruin her joints, or something);
- a spraything full of enzymatic cleaner for accidents (which hopefully hopefully won't happen, but actually realistically most likely will);
- a collar and leash to grow out of in the next couple months...

I forget what else.

I think we're prepared.*****

But Puppy still does not have:
- a name; or
- a tag for her collar, since she has no name.[******]

I'm leaving now to go pick her up. The girl is driving her down to Salt Lake, and we're meeting at Puppy's dad's house, so we can meet him, too.

Wish us luck!

* Do real websites with actual information exist anymore? I found so, so many generic websites. The articles are almost always useless, because they're more about search optimization than anything else. They go like this:
"Bringing Your Puppy Home is an important time because when you Bring Your Puppy Home you hope that you are prepared to Bring Your Puppy Home. Try to be gentle with your puppy when you Bring Your Puppy Home because he is nervous. Since Bringing Your Puppy Home is stressful for the pup, do not expect much; when you Bring Your Puppy Home you may find that your puppy is happy or it may be sad. Your puppy may be hungry or it may want to sleep...[etc.]"
Gee, thanks.
** I suggested J and I stop at a big big yard sale on Redwood Rd. a couple weeks ago, to see if we could find a crate. Because on KSL they're usually like $30-$40 and at Walmart they're $70ish. We found an old dog crate that was dirty and a little rusty (but a pretty good one anyway), and when I asked how much it was, the lady said to make an offer. So I offered $5. And she said we had a deal. (Heck yeah, we did!) So I cleaned it, sanded it, and primed it, and J and I decided it would be fun to paint it pink, since we knew we wanted a girl puppy. Today I brought it in from the garage, and actually, it turns out it doesn't match ANYTHING--not our house, not Puppy's toys, NOTHING. But [*shrug*] it was still kind of fun, and it makes her little homecoming special. And it was lots cheaper than $70.
*** This was a suggestion from either the worker at Walmart or the lady we're buying Puppy from. Both people gave lots of suggestions. We were advised to take a blanket or something kind of worn out and let Puppy have that in her crate so she can feel comforted and get used to our smells, and because puppies ruin the fancy dog beds their owners buy anyway. We didn't really have a worn out blanket, though, so she's getting a towel instead.
**** When I really, really wanted a dog before, I one time went to a dog show with this lady my dad knew. I remember everyone gave their dogs liver treats. And now that I'm so used to reading every label on everything J and I eat, it's hard to knowingly poison our puppy with the stuff I saw on ingredient lists for dog treats. Liver treats are ONLY freeze dried liver (and nothing else) so they seemed like a good place to start.
***** I am so, so nervous. I don't want to ruin Puppy! I removed a bunch of things that are down low, but I'm sure I didn't get everything. I keep remembering: It's OKAY. She will be under CLOSE SUPERVISION until she is housebroken anyway, so I can still move things up higher, etc, for a little while. She [most likely] won't be ruined just because I'm not an experienced puppy-proofer.
****** [We don't know what to coll-er.]

Friday, June 11, 2010

Big things: Puppy!

[One final, little post about another big news item.]

A week ago, J decided we are finally ready to get a puppy. (!!!!!!!!!!!)

I am so so so excited! I've wanted a puppy since second grade.*

Yesterday I drove up to Smithfield to choose our puppy. We knew we** wanted a Dane and we knew we*** wanted a solid color one instead of one with spots. And we knew we wanted a girl.

So, this is our puppy! The girl who is selling them tried**** to get her to hold still so I could take a picture.

She doesn't look the most photogenic, because she wanted to PLAY and not pose, but she's really sweet. I picked her because she is pretty mellow, and she's all black (instead of having white toes), and she wasn't one of the smaller puppies, so I thought she would be more likely to stay healthy. I did also like one of her sisters with white toes. It was a tough choice.*****

Here she is with her momma and a couple of her littermates. (Girl ones, because the boys stayed in their puppy corral thing since I was choosing between girls.) The momma ("Marley") was pretty much the nicest dog ever. She's such a good mom.
The pups are going to the vet for their shots next Tuesday, so I will meet the people sometime Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning to pick her up. I started buying puppy stuff, but there is still a bunch to do to prepare for her to come home--I need to get her kennel ready, and puppy-proof our house (at least a little bit), and buy some things I haven't gotten yet (like food).

I showed J a trick book I bought, and we are both very excited to secretly manipulate our dog into doing what we want. J was especially excited about the ring-the-bell-to-go-outside trick. I was especially excited about the "Go get the mail!" trick.

We're not sure what to name her.

* Instead, my parents let me have fish in second grade. And books about dogs. We always had lots of pets, but I don't think they wanted to do all of the dog chores that I promise-promise-promised to do [and definitely would not have actually done].
** I.
*** Both of us.
**** Unsuccessfully.
***** When I first saw them, I told her (decidedly): "Okay. Yes. We'll take all of them. All eight. J won't mind. Can I just take them now? ALL of them?"

Big things: Fourplex!

Almost a week after my graduation, J and I received some exciting news: we had final bank approval for us to purchase our fourplex!

Months ago, J and I decided we wanted to buy a fourplex, but we wanted to get a good deal on it. We analyzed the different properties that were available (over several months). J made a spreadsheet that calculated anticipated mortgage amounts, evaluated the rent collected for each unit, and produced a decimal to indicate how well it would pay for itself. We realized that most of the really good deals seemed to be short sales.

We didn't know much about short sales.

We learned all about them.

Basically, in a short sale, the seller owes more on a property than it is worth. Usually, the seller is about to go into foreclosure because they are in default on their mortgage, and they can't sell the property (because nobody will buy it for the amount owed). So they try to sell it at the amount it's actually worth, instead. It's usually in the bank's best interest for a short sale to happen because if the property goes into foreclosure, it will still only be worth the current value, and having to sell it and deal with it will cost the bank even more money. It's kind of a win/win (or lose-less/lose-less?) situation, because the seller avoids foreclosure (which looks really bad on a credit report) and the bank avoids the extra expense of foreclosure.

In order for it all to work, though, everyone has to cooperate. A lot of times they don't. In order to do a short sale, the seller needs permission from the bank(s). Especially if there is a second mortgage, it's tricky, because sometimes the first bank would be totally paid off if the foreclosure happened (since the second mortgage is paid after the first one), so they don't have a lot of incentive to cooperate for the short sale.

Our real estate agent told us we should be prepared to wait a long time to hear back from the banks, even after our offer was "accepted" by the seller. It usually takes them months. And even after that, the price isn't always approved. We put in offers on a couple different properties. One of them was accepted, but we canceled that offer because once we got inside, there were cockroaches and mold all over the place. (No thanks!) We waited on the other offer, though.

It took about 3 months for us to hear back from the banks, and they said YES IT WAS APPROVED BUT WE HAD TO DO IT ALL IN 15 DAYS OR ELSE. If we didn't close (and fund!) in 15 days, it was going to cost us $2500 more.

So right right after I graduated we got approval, and we hurry-hurry-hurried to get everything together. We had the home inspector come out on a Monday, got the home inspection report on Tuesday, had the appraisal on Wednesday, finally got the appraisal back on Friday. On the following Monday I set up insurance. We met with the seller a few times to pick up maintenance stuff for the fourplex, and we were going to close that Wednesday, but it got pushed to Thursday, and then it finally happened. The whole thing was all such a whirlwind!

Since then, I have stayed busy with fourplex things.

- I started my own business (an LLC!) to handle J and I's property management stuff. I set up a business bank account and a PO Box.

- I read up on A LOT of different landlord/tenant laws, and became VERY familiar with our tenants' leases (we have to honor the previous owner's leases). I developed and had our people fill out Property Condition reports, and Tenant Update forms.

- I installed smoke detectors in all of the units. I bought seismic bands for the water heaters (and was going to install them, but it turned out I didn't have the right tool at the time.)

- I bought tools!

- J and I met with the previous owner to learn how to summer-ize the evaporative coolers. It was nice of him to show us. We realized that when we summer-ized our evaporative cooler*, we actually didn't. [More to follow about that...]

- The previous owner also showed us how to use the sprinkler system, so we turned the water on for the summer and found out a sprinkler was broken. (So I learned how to fix sprinklers! I replaced some broken pipe. J helped with part of it.)

- This week, I repaired a broken drawer and performed maintenance on a dishwasher. Then J and I replaced a dishwasher a couple days ago, and yesterday I replaced the elbow thing on the new dishwasher, and I used teflon tape for the first time.

- My next projects will [probably] be: making and installing a bunch of screens (a few of the units are missing screens) and re-painting the parking lines in our little parking lot.

I am becoming so handy!** Also, I am making friends at Home Depot and Lowe's.

It seems to take a lot of time to learn how to do each new thing, but after each repair (or repair attempt!) I understand so much more about how things work. In the future, repairs will be quick and easy, and soooo much cheaper than if we were to hire repair people every time anything breaks.

In the past, J and I have sometimes talked about having me do property management. Recently, we like the idea even better. Instead of looking for a job now, I am studying to get my real estate license.*** To be licensed, Utah requires people to complete a 120-hour real estate course and then pass the state and national license exams. So. I signed up for one of the courses that is available both live and online (to mix it up a little bit), and I've been getting started with that. I'm going to try to finish it over the next couple months.

* You know, by just changing the pads. (LOL)
** Also, I am making friends at Home Depot and Lowe's. Since their employees have to walk me through all of the steps of my projects when online instructions are insufficient. Actually, the HD master plumber knows me now. In the past couple weeks, he and I have talked several times, for probably a couple hours in all. What a guy! He really knows his stuff.
*** In Utah, in order to manage other people's properties you need to have a real estate license.

Big things: Graduation!

This past month has been incredibly busy for us!

As I mentioned in my last post, I wrote A LOT for a few days and then I graduated. My mom came up from California to attend my graduation. (I love spending time with her!) J and his parents came for the ceremony, too. I was such a grump that day, because I was so sleep deprived from [nearly-]all-nighters as I finished my finals.

Commencement was [mostly] GREAT!

Our professors and people all wore their robes and hoods. I thought it was SO cool. I wanted one! Actually, I wanted more than one. I thought it sounded like a great challenge to collect all of the different hoods in all of the different colors. Wouldn't that be the most amazing collection?*

Our student speaker was awesome. It was this lady who had returned to school and was finally finishing her degree after years of being a mom and doing other things. It was actually a really good speech, too. I was moved to tears a couple times.

Ambassador Huntsman gave our commencement address. I liked him a lot. His speech also made me teary. I don't remember all of what he said, but there were a couple parts that stood out to me:

The first was, he was talking about how they had taken his adopted daughter back to China to see the place where she had been abandoned as an infant. Huntsman talked about how while he was there he thought of the birth mother and how much she must have loved their daughter, because she left the baby somewhere that she would be found. When he talked about it, his comments took me by surprise. (How could he think that someone who [literally!] abandoned her own baby could love the girl as much as Ambassador Huntsman and his wife love her?) But as I thought about it, I decided it was really neat. [I don't know much about any of this, but] I think a lot of girl babies are aborted (or killed after they're born) in China because of policies there. So actually, for the mother to leave her somewhere that she could be found probably was an act of love. The other thing I liked about it was, I think some adopted kids have to deal with the feeling that their biological parents didn't love them or want them.* I think sometimes that's true and sometimes times it's not. (And often it doesn't actually matter, because the kid has adoptive parents that really, really wanted them.) I thought it was pretty neat that Huntsman's daughter will grow up hearing a story of how much her birth mother must have loved her.

A big portion of Ambassador Huntsman's address was a list of F's that we needed to get in order to have a good life. They were:
1. Find yourself. - Your unique pathway in life. "Life is a journey, not the destination."
2. Find a cause. - And speak out! Take action, and never let it be said that you were an anonymous blogger.
3. Face failure. - Failure only hurts if you were unable to turn it into a learning experience and make you stronger.
4. Find someone to love. - There are people all around us who need it. There are people who need friends / hope.
5. Find meaning. - (1) Always have goals. (2) Create an intellectual framework or personal philosophy to value the world and people around you. (3) Remember experience is most valuable training grounds; learn from experiences.

[If you want to read the whole thing, it looks like Huntsman's address is online here.]

After commencement finished, my college (Humanities) had convocation in the same building. I switched seats, and sat with some friends from one of my classes.

Convocation was about the most boring thing I've ever attended in my life. It was like, every time they needed to introduce someone it just never ended. The introductions were about as long (or longer!) than actual speeches. It went like this: "Mary is graduating with a ___ degree from the ____ department. Her thesis was about collecting seashells. After graduating, Mary plans to collect seashells from X Beach, from Y Beach, and Z Beach, between the hours of 8:17 am and 4:09 pm. Mary also likes to braid her hair, garden--but not with sea shells! Ha, Ha! [they love cheesy jokes]--and she likes to eat ice cream. When Mary was two, Mary used to always sing "The Itsy Bitsy Spider," and her first words were... [... ] ...On a typical day, Mary wakes up early, but she usually presses snooze twice..." It seriously just went on and on. And then they would do it again for someone else. And someone else. And someone else, etc.

Our college's main student speaker was terrible! She spent like 10 minutes having people from different honor societies stand up. There were probably like 40 or 50 on her list. Don't most people know those are fake? There are only a few honor societies that are actually prestigious. Most of them are like, you get a letter that says: "CONGRATULATIONS AND WELCOME TO OUR SPECIAL CLUB PLEASE SEND US $80 TO ACCEPT."*** Doesn't everyone get those letters? So I was pretty embarrassed for our little speaker.

But all of that finally finished, and they called our names, and I got my special diploma cover!

And then, my guests put up with my terrible attitude, and we went out to lunch together, and had a great time. Then I went home and slept.

I'm still waiting to receive my diploma, but my transcript shows that my requirements are all met (and my grades were good for this last semester) so I should be in good shape. They told us it takes a couple months.

I'm so glad to be done****!

* Can you imagine? It would be impossible! Nobody could ever possibly get all of the possible advanced degrees from every university. But it would be such a pretty collection! And if anyone could do it, it would mean they were really something. I decided the only way to do that would be to do something really incredible so that many universities awarded me honorary degrees. But that would still probably only be in one field...
** According to movies and TV shows.
*** It's like when people are all excited that they were invited to be in the Who's Who book. Or when people think they win a poetry contest and their poem is really something because it's going in an anthology that costs only $100. At first it seems cool, but then you realize everyone "wins" and the only real winners are the companies because they're collecting money for nothing.
**** [-ish]