Is The Term Terrorism Overused?

Today the big news is that a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the US was thwarted. There are apparent ties to Iran and while that’s a big deal and should not be taken lightly, I believe that the headlines calling it terrorism are inappropriate. defines terrorism as:

  1. the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.
  2. the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization.
  3. a terroristic method of governing or of resisting agovernment.

Obviously that definition doesn’t mention the number of people involved as a target, but to me, something would only be considered terrorism if it was being executed against a group of people, not an individual target. My feeling is that the media are using the term terrorism just to get people to read their stories or watch their newscasts. When any word is used excessively and improperly it eventually causes the term to lose meaning. Terrorism isn’t to be taken lightly, so don’t use the word when it’s not accurate. The last thing we want is for people to become numb to it.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

Almost There

This past week I was able to get a lot done on the house. The asbestos remediation was completed on Thursday and came in on budget and even though I had a bit of a freak out moment when watching Holmes Inspection about possible hidden asbestos in my attic, I checked in a few places up there and believe my house is asbestos-free.

Thanks to the urging of my friend Jeremy I joined Angie’s List and used it to find a locksmith who came out and did a fine job rekeying my doors. It was more than I would have wanted to pay, but it was cheaper than buying all new door knobs.

I managed to get all of my interior receptacles and light switches replaced. GFCI receptacles in the kitchen and bathroom and every receptacle in the house is tamper resistant. I still have to get to the outdoor receptacles and then I can have code enforcement come out to give me my certificate of occupancy.

I was able to move most of my “stuff” over to the house and I don’t think I’ll end up needing a moving truck, which is good because it’ll save me some money and if I am interpreting the way it’s worded on the City of Bethlehem’s website, I won’t need a moving permit. The only things left to bring over are my bed, desk, dresser and clothes. If everything goes as smoothly as it has the past two weekends I should be “moved in” on Saturday.

My trash was collected on Friday, on schedule, so unlike my friend Michele who has garbage woes, I don’t think I’ll have an issue, though they haven’t dropped off my can yet. When I called today to check on it I was told I’d have one within the week and that they were a little behind schedule due to running out of new cans.

I’m waiting to call the cable company to come out until I can undo the wiring that the previous owner had that was looped around the outside of the house and in through a window, not to mention how it was run under carpets and was just slapped in without much care. Once I have the wiring run properly I’ll have someone come out and run a wire in through the wall of the garage which is how it should have been done in the first place.

I still have to find a heating oil delivery company, but I don’t think that will be too difficult. If anyone has a service that they recommend, let me know.

I’ve managed to spend entirely too much money at Lowe’s and Home Depot and I’m sure it’s only the start. I’m learning quite a bit but it’s not overwhelming, yet. My mortgage mess is slowly getting resolved, thanks to my amazing Realtor, Tammy Huk, who has been sticking up for me. While I’m sure Mr. Lehigh Valley with Love won’t be happy about it, I don’t foresee any big parties within the near future, but my new house is slowly becoming a home.

Change Of Address

I knew that when I bought my new house I’d have to change my address all over the place, but how to go about doing that wasn’t always very clear, so hopefully this post will help someone else who is moving one day. The first thing I did was to make a list of all of the different entities that had my physical address: my employer, my bank, cell phone provider, magazines, clubs I belong to, well, you get the idea.

None of it was particularly difficult, though I did have to FIND where to change my address a number of places. The obvious first place to change my address was at the post office, well, when I got there all they had were post cards telling me to change my address on the United States Postal Service (USPS) website. For some reason they charge $1 to “prevent fraud” when changing addresses. Whatever, it’s a ridiculous fee, but I don’t really have much choice if I want my mail forwarded. The USPS change of address process also gives you the opportunity to get some great coupons that help with getting a new place. 10% off my order at Lowe’s will more than make up for the $1 I paid to process the address change.

Changing address on my driver’s license and car registration was free through PennDOT‘s website, and if you change your driver’s license first, you can change your vehicle registration all in the same transaction. It was super simple and you can print out a temporary driver’s license and vehicle registration until the real forms come in the mail.

When I looked into changing my address with my bank the website had a form to download and take to a notary. There’s no way I’m paying a notary just to change my address, so I went down to the local branch with my account numbers and ID (my old driver’s license and my new temporary license) and they were able to change my address right there and order new checks all at the same time.

The last thing I had to do that I wasn’t quite sure about was to notify the City of Bethlehem that I was becoming a resident and to tell the City of Allentown that I was no longer going to be living there. I called Bethlehem City Hall asking who I needed to talk to and was transferred to someone in the tax division. That person was very nice and told me I’d need to contact two companies that handle Bethlehem’s taxes (outsourcing, yay?). When I asked if there was anything else I needed to do she told me no, so I hope I got everything.

The first company I was told to call was Keystone Collections Group at 724-978-0300. They manage Bethlehem’s Earned Income Tax (EIT) collections (the city tax you see taken out of your pay check). The woman I spoke with there wasn’t sure why the city told me to call her because apparently all of the EIT stuff is automatically set up when my employer withholds EIT, but while I was on the phone with her she did set up my EIT account for Bethlehem and also closed my per capita tax account for the City of Allentown.

I then was told to call Berkheimer at 866-701-7208 to set up my per capita tax information for the City of Bethlehem. The woman I spoke with told me that you’re only supposed to pay one per capita tax per year, regardless of how many times you move, so since I already paid my per capita tax to Allentown, that I wouldn’t be billed for Bethlehem until 2012.

Once I told Bethlehem that I’d become a new resident I had to tell Allentown that I wouldn’t be a resident. Unlike Bethlehem, Allentown didn’t have a general information phone number for city hall, just a long phone directory of the various departments. Since I didn’t quite know what department I wanted I took a guess and called the per capita tax number. The person I spoke with said that I just needed to call Keystone Collections Group (which I already had) to tell them I was no longer a resident and since I wasn’t a homeowner in Allentown there wasn’t anything else for me to do other than get a moving permit if I needed one.

I’m not moving my things to the new house “in bulk.” I’m taking a few things in my car every day when I go to work and in my dad’s Explorer on the weekends, so based on the wording on Bethlehem’s website I don’t think I need a moving permit unless I need a moving truck. Hopefully I won’t need one since this is my first house and I don’t have a ton of furniture, but if I do end up needing one, I’ll apply for the moving permit when that time comes.


The Fun Begins

Yesterday I signed the paperwork and bought my first house! To say that I’m excited would be an understatement. By all accounts the settlement went very well. The seller was a very sweet old lady who was 96 years young and while she was sad to be selling the house she said she felt good that it was being sold to a “nice young man.” Things with the title company went smoothly, but there is an issue with my mortgage interest rate that I’m hoping will be sorted out, and quickly.

Apparently my mortgage guy put a ridiculous contingency on my interest rate that says that if I don’t keep at least $15000 in the bank that they reserve the right to increase my interest rate by .125%. What’s shady about this is that I only found out about it when it was too late to do anything about it. At no time during the application process did I ask for any kind of special rate or deal that would be tied to me having a ton of money in the bank. The only reason I had a lot of money in the bank to begin with was because I was saving up for a house, not because I’m some guy who just has a ton of money to keep in an account that makes almost no interest.

Extremely unhappy doesn’t begin to describe how I feel about what the mortgage rep pulled on me. He claims he’s going to do everything he can to get that straightened out and to remove the contingency. My rate going up .125% would raise my monthly payment around $10 and while $10 may not be a huge sum of money, it’s the principle that I was misled and every time I would pay that higher rate I would remember it would be because I was lied to. If that’s what ends up happening I will have no problem telling anyone and everyone I know never to use my lender or my mortgage rep. That said, if he can get it squared away I’ll feel better about the deal, but I’ll still tell everyone who is applying for any mortgage to learn from my apparent mistake. Read everything multiple times, ask way more questions than you planned to and if something sounds fishy, get clarification immediately.

Today I met with the repair person recommended by my Realtor to get the asbestos covering on the HVAC lines removed. Unfortunately the asbestos wrap was cooked on to the pipes over time and it was determined that the best and easiest way to remediate the situation would be to rip out the pipes that had asbestos on them and replace them. It is more work than the contractor initially thought, but in the end it will be fixed properly and I’ll have new pipes with insulation on them that’s a higher R value than the old wrap. That should mean cooler AC and warmer heat. In order to help out the contractor (and hopefully keep my bill lower) I asked what I could do to make things easier for him. Since he was working in the crawl space on removing pipes he said that I could take out a section of the wall in the laundry room, so less than 24 hours from buying my house I was already smashing a huge hole in a wall with a hammer.

The work that the contractor performed so far has been good, and he was very nice and he’s explained everything thoroughly. Unfortunately since the job was bigger than he anticipated he wasn’t able to complete the work today, and with other work already scheduled he won’t be able to get back until Thursday. The good news is that the house isn’t an awful mess, but I won’t be able to use the heat or air conditioning until he puts everything back together.

After the contractor left I put together a shopping list and somehow managed to spend another $500+ dollars at Home Depot and Lowe’s, all on things that you’ll never pay any attention to. While that’s a bit depressing the money spent will mean that the house is safer and in the long run that’s never a bad thing. I have found that a lot of the things I’d like to do are going to have to wait, because as much as some people may want to tell me otherwise, they aren’t an emergency and therefore do not warrant me tapping into my Emergency Fund. Ugly carpet may be something I dislike, but it’s not an emergency to replace it.