March 2004 Archives

Home Improvement - The Sequel

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Thus far, home ownership has been a very educational experience. It seems that I learn something new each day. For instance, I learned a valuable lesson regarding insurance.

As you probably already know, everyone is required to purchase home owner's insurance. One of the benefits of this insurance, is that you can replace a failed appliance or other household items which are damaged or stolen.

In my case, I have a very old hot water tank. So, upon reading the insurance guidelines, and speaking to the insurance service agent, I decided to schedule an appointment to get the unit replaced. The selling point here, is that the plumber would come out and replace the unit for a service fee $75.00. Hell, I couldn't even install the unit myself for $75.00. Gosh what a deal ! This is why you pay all that loot for the insurance. Right ? Wrong.

The plumber came to my home and inspected my hot water tank. He immediately asked if I'd read the fine print in my contract. Something about "We're not responsible for bringing the unit up to code ." I said, "Why yes, I had read the entire document. ". He proceeded to show me the sentence, that he was referring to. Next, he began to show me the items that weren't up to code.

1) Vent Piping incorrect diameter.
2) Gas regulator
3) Ball valve needed to be replaced w/gate valve
4) Upgrade tank from 30gal to 40 gal
5) Galvanized pipe replacement w/copper
6) Disposal fee

After he was done with his list, the cost of the repairs rose from $75.00 to $575.00. You can imagine what I said to him. I cut him a check for $75.00 and said thanks, but no thanks.

Now that I'm involved with rehabbing depressed properties, it's actually cheaper for me to get one of my handymen to do the required work. Install and dispose of tank for $312.00 Amazing. Why even pay for the insurance ?

March Madness

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My alma mater - Florida A&M Rattlers, made it to the NCAA Basketball tournament this week. Actually, they defeated Lehigh and were rewarded with a date against Kentucky. They held their own for 20 minutes, but were thoroughly dominated in the 2nd Half. Nonetheless, I'm proud of the fact that they did not quit. Hopefully, their basketball program will continue to get more national exposure and better recruits. Their football program will be going Division IA, beginning 2004. I suspect that there will be many lopsided defeats, but it will only be a matter of time before they improve.

In other news, I finally finished the photo gallery, feel free to peruse and share your comments. I plan to link it to the main page this evening.

Countdown to 1st Dan

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Gosh, it's been quite awhile since I've chatted w/you. Suffice to say the brotha has been mad busy.
1) Rehabbing investment property
2) Pseudo studying for FE
3) Preparing for Black Belt (Dan Exam - 4/3/04) testing

Pretty full plate. For those of you who don't know, I've been studying the Korean Martial Art, Moo Duk Kwan-Tang Soo Do(pronounced 'tung-sue-doe'). Actually, November 04, would make 5-years of practice.

Nonetheless, I'll be glad when the Dan test is over. I've intensified my training. Actually, I'm getting 3-4 days of instruction per week. Even cross training in other styles.

My instructors have assured me that 1st Dan is just the beginning of serious training. More later.

Other news - I've finally configured a useful photo/media gallery. I will launch it this week. You'll be able to get to it from the link on my website. It will be real cool, complete with areas for comments/etc.

Investment Property

Well, it's official. Closed on my first investment property. I'm very excited, but I know that the work has just begun. Fortunately, I have some great business partners, who are a bit more experienced in this undertaking. So, I don't have to make the same critical mistakes that other newbies make the first time out.

I have taken photos of the house, so that you can appreciate the improvements or the proverbial 'before and after'. I will need to replace sections of the roof, and waste water pipes leading to the city main. The photos will not capture these changes, but I will show the kitchen and basement areas that need renovation.

The city expects the buyer to bring the property up to code before renting to perspective tenants. Great stuff. I'll keep everyone posted on the developments. I expect to have the photo gallery installed in the next two weeks.

Free Money


Some of you may have been able to take advantage of the music settlement lawsuit. It was determined that the major record labels were in collusion to price fix retail music CDs. So, on the strength of many fileswapping services, Napster, Gnutella, Morpheus, Kazaa, etc, and many annoyed consumers, a class action lawsuit was filed. If you're intersted, read the article.

Got my check for $13.86, I look at it as a moral victory. I will continue to grab and share Ogg and MP3 files. The RIAA should be more interested in reducing the cost of shrink wrapped music, lest they will continue to hear the bellyaching of major music labels.

A typical 80min CDR cost roughly 0.25, but if you buy shrink wrapped music CDs, you'll pay anywhere from 13-19 bucks. Talk about high margins. This is explains why Internet fileswapping services are so popular. The reality is that the music artist makes little if any money from the CDs that are sold in stores. Most artist make cash by doing tours. The record labels stand to profit the most by selling music CDs at a premium.

Hell, I only purchase underground mixed-tapes and CDs. In general, I have found that I may only like two or three cuts on an album anyway. Most record stores that I frequent, will allow you to listen to selections before you purchase.

Why did it take the music industry so long to figure out how make loot from the Internet music model ?

Mad props to founders of Napster for giving back the power to the consumers and developing a Killer App.

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This page is an archive of entries from March 2004 listed from newest to oldest.

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