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Saturday, October 13, 2007


I was just reflecting on how relieved I was, just three weeks ago, when we finally closed on the house, having scaled the mountain of faxes, bank forms, and assorted other paperwork. Looking at all of the documentation required for residence, car registration, and name changes (etc., etc., etc.), I think it’s clear that this state of affairs is the norm rather than the exception for adult homeowners. Not to whine or anything – I know how fortunate we are to have our very own place in this early stage of our life together. But this seemingly-sudden swelling of BS “pro formas” fills a busywork void that both of us would rather have remained relatively empty. Obviously, once we make these initial steps and finally move in, things will stabilize in the “read this tome and sign in triplicate” department. Until then, I’ll just have to grit my teeth and accept the nearly overwhelming hassles of bureaucracy… in exchange for all the privileges entailed by the good ship Homeowner.

(Get it?... “Homeownership”… aaah never mind…)

Oh, by the way, the reason many of the graphics missing from this blog (still titled “SWiley's Blog – How Original!”, FYI) is that UMBC finally dropped the account I had since 2001 (I did know this was scheduled, but I forgot it would have the effect of killing my blog graphics). So sooner or later I should upload them to a permanent host, or blogger, or something. I was considering getting my own domain. We'll see...


Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Note to a slightly younger version of myself (this applies to other 16/17/18/19 year-old whippersnappers in the present day as well):

Hey Steve, just a word of advice for you. You're in college now, and your mailbox is flooded with offers from credit card companies. This might surprise you and go against every concept of financial responsibility that your wise, thrifty parents have instilled in you... but I recommend that you sign up for one of them. Not the first one that you get: collect them, compare their benefits and rates, then send in your info to a reputable one that gives you extras along with it (cashback, if possible).

Why do I say this? Well, as discussed earlier, you're a student and the lenders are notoriously willing to extend credit to you. Not a large amount at first, but enough to get your credit score started and you'll be on the right track. And for the love of all that is green and covered with pictures of dead presidents and other American notables, pay off your balance as soon as you can.

"Huh?" you ask. "The track to where?" Ahh, well imagine what happens if once you've graduated college you, like someone very close to me (edit: OK, me) decide it's time to ask for a loan for a large purchase, say, a single-family home. Or even apply for a reasonably good credit card (with a limit of over, I don't know, a stick of gum, approx.) "Nein! Non! NYET!" say the bankers... "or perhaps we will be so generous... if you supply us your entire financial history, sign seven trillion papers (in triplicate, natch), your firstborn (OK, not really) and accept credit at this maximized interest rate MWAHAHA! HA HAAAHAA HA!!!"

So the lesson of the story is, don't refuse money, even in the plastic, to-be-paid-back-later form, when it's offered to you, because before you know it, you'll be hard-pressed to convince them that you're worth the risk.



Friday, September 21, 2007


So... I guess this is my cue to say something about the highly eventful last few months. I feel I should be able to expound upon my situation and spill my guts about how my life is changing. I'm sure if I did this more often I would be able to reveal my feelings about it, but, it's really hard to boil down to words.

The facts: I own a house. It's bizarrescarygreat... the feeling, that is. I wouldn't have believed you a year ago if you'd have told me I would actually be a homeowner by this time... it's just amazing and so improbable if you think about it. I just hope it's enough. I hope I can sustain it. I want to do my best to be a good neighbor, a welcoming host, and most importantly, a loving, supportive husband.

I owe you more of my thoughts... I promise they will come... check back soon.


Saturday, April 07, 2007


I suppose I should update more often... it's just that for every moment I spend blogging, I could be house searching, wedding officiant searching, mortgage searching and other important activities that may or may not involve searching of some type. So I'm just sort of... "engaged" at the moment; my fiancee and I are doing our best to stay on top of our busy schedules and fully aware of the necessities of our future life together. Lots of stuff to do! So... um, end of apologia.

But what else occupies me, personally? Well, the usual suspects you might say... I'm still a voracious (does that word get used before any other word but the next?) reader, tearing into... let's see, what have I been reading this week... The Looming Tower, Weird Maryland, The Essential Chaplin, Boffo!, along with my weekly City Paper and regular scrolls-through of Slate, Slashdot, and The AV Club (among many other websites). I still watch as many movies as humanly possible (by this I mean films and TV on DVD... once in a pretty great while, I do savor the opportunity to head to the cinema) and I surround myself with music, of course (the old stuff in constant rotation on the iPod, new CDs enjoyed in the car stereo, too); also, podcasts are a big part of my listening habits (I should touch on these in a future post).

Now to the point, más o menos, of the post.
She: What are your life-long dreams?
Me: hmmm
Hard indeed to answer. I suppose it's my practical side showing, but I tend more to hold in mind the ideal situation in which small, regular pleasures and pursuits are available, rather than some ultimate goal that I might never attain. Honestly, call me unambitious or petit-bourgeois or whatever, I can't claim to have a definitive "dream" for myself, other than growing, being happy, and providing for my family.

Then I guess my dream is more of a general one really, of the freedom to be myself and to explore whatever else pops up. I like learning about things and how to do things... photography (still, motion, digital, film, whatever), my writing (suggestions welcome), maybe some day even music (I see myself perhaps as more of a keyboard person... my finger strength's a bit wanting for more string instruments, but who knows?)

I love keeping abreast of what's new and in development (news, rumors, and pure speculation) in all of the realms of culture I mentioned above. I follow the news and consider myself usually reasonably well-versed in politics and current events, and I love a good book on science and/or philosophy, but these days it's the arts that excite me above all (although I'm very often described as a computer geek, I see advances in technology more as a means to an end [usefulness as a tool for work and play]; very rarely will you find me salivating over some new graphics chip, for example). I love discovering new genres, revisiting classics, separating the wheat from the chaff - it's fun, it's vital, it's liberating. I could elaborate, but I figure that's what I'll be doing in just about all future swiley's blog posts...

On a closing note, I've decided that revising the permanent set of links in the left panel is my next order of business with this blog, as soon as I complete a months-in-the-making photo-rich article I've been pecking at during idle moments. No promises as to when this will happen... just a preview. I might do a full-scale redesign, so if any reader has an attachment to the look of the site, let me know and I'll go easy on changing the color scheme and so forth.

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Sunday, February 25, 2007


As I sit here snowed in once again, I look forward to the day (one can hope it will be within a year) when mi amor and I will not be separated by 10 miles of frozen water crystals.

Oh, wait, I hadn't yet made the official blog announcement: Nicole and I are engaged!

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