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More than four months after moving into the Keep, I now have internet access. Like most things today, said access is semi-successful but underwhelming. Warning Pointless rant to follow.

Today is Columbus Day. It's a banking holiday, so I don't have to go to work... but most people do. Aside from the week between Christmas and New Years, Columbus Day is my only non-holiday, holiday... or perhaps one would include MLK Jr. Day and/or Presidents Day in that count... but those seem like real holidays... Columbus Day is just a random Monday in October that I get off. No Complains here.

Since most people have to work, I arranged for my internet connection to be installed today. The installation guy was supposed to come between 9a - 1p. Around 9:25, I get a call from his dispatcher saying that they were wondering if I was home and could interwebernet me in five minutes, rather than during the 1p - 6p time slot they were planning to come in. I said, of course, and then informed them they were supposed to be coming between 9a - 1p. The guy came, he installed it in about 15 minutes and left. No complaints.

Right after he left, I started to use the connection to do some shopping. The connection seems slow... and everytime I've come back to my computer today, I've had to reset the connection. This doesn't bode well for long term bliss. Urgh.

After ordering two 'two-shelf' book cases off of Amazon (something I've been thinking about doing for quite a while), I tried unsuccessfully to find some other furniture type things I'm thinking about. Then, I packed up the speakers I bought two weeks ago... that I didn't like, and returned them to Best Buy. Real Rant a comin'.

I walk into Best Buy, go to the return counter. After waiting in line, the guy says: 'open box items must be returned at the Geek Squad.' So, I go wait in the line for people with broken laptops for at least twenty minutes. When it's finally my turn, the guy opens the box, checks that the speakers themselves are actually in the box, and then walks me back to the return counter where I have to once more wait in line until it's my turn to do the return. What I want to know, is what possible value the Geek Squad added? I'd sure like the extra half hour back. Anyhow, after that, I went into the store to find a set of replacement speakers for what were already my replacement speakers. Well, the store had a really horrid display, so I started looking for help. No one was around. I waited a few minutes and then headed over to a desk in the nearby section. There the Manager/Asst. Manager/Whatever, was talking to one of the sales associates about some product. I patiently waited for the Manager to finish, which he did after a few moments. I then sort of expected one of the two to ask the polite customer if they could help me... but the sales associate went on his merry way, and the Manager turned to his computer. Not so much as an 'I'll be with you in a minute.' He proceeded to tap away on his keyboard for a good five minutes without so much as acknowledging my presence three feet away. When another sales associate came to report (and this is so friggin ironic) that some person had bought a bunch of stuff and was threatening to return it all because the delivery/installation people had not showed up to both of the appointments they had made with this customer, the manager and the second sales associate proceeded to continue ignoring me as they studied the receipt to see just how much the person had purchased. I am sure I was standing there waiting a good ten minutes without ever once being acknowledged by the manager or either of the two sales associates. Not to be dissuaded, I silently left the harried, yet incompetent Manager and went to another section where I approached a fellow at the desk. This individual at least greeted me with a smile and asked if I needed help. I told him I needed some help with the speakers, and he promptly picked up his little microphone and told "any available associate" that help was needed in the speaker aisle. "Someone will be over in just a minute." So, I returned three aisles away (still in the line of sight of the guy who had placed the page.) This individual proceeded to sit and watch me for the next five minutes as there apparently weren't "any available associates." He just watched, didn't page anyone, and certainly didn't offer to help, or any kind of condolences that we're busy/understaffed/etc. Nope, he just watched as I stood there and waited. In sum, I was in the store for an hour and only managed to return my speakers, but never was able to procure help in finding a replacement. (The store was not busy either.) So, after finally losing my patience, I walked to the front, told the security lady that she should tell the manager that I was going next door to Circuit City to buy my speakers because they couldn't bother to help me. She said she was sorry... but I don't think she was planning to tell the Manager. Errggg! I hate that kind of crap.

To finish my rant, Circuit City had helpful personnel, but a poor selection. I actually ended up buying a model that was a third the cost of the ones I returned... but I don't like it. I'll probably return them, but I'm going to wait at least two weeks before I try that again. Also, I know the (discontinued) model I want... and I'm hoping to buy it on eBay, and then just return the Circuit City ones.

After the electronics stores, I browsed through 'the Container store' and 'Crate and Barrel' unsuccessfully before Red-lining it home. The Container Store is a little too iKea for me, (most of the stuff seems like crap), and Crate and Barrel is about four times too expensive. I needed to go to Target, but I was already tired and grouchy, so I went home instead.

On the way home, I wanted to get my hair cut, but the entire Daley Center was closed due to the holiday, so my hair cut place was closed. This was significantly more disappointing to me than it should have been, but I managed to be quite kind to the Officers of the Law who were apparently repeating the same information to every third person walking through the CTA area... the only part of the Daley Center that wasn't closed.

In the Keep, I got cracking on my Murphy Bed. I hadn't done anything on it in months, and I was hoping to determine why I couldn't get it to go down so that I could get friends over here to help me fix it. I spent hours chiseling at wood that was binding, loosening the tension nuts on the springs, etc. I know I made progress, but there's something still something binding when I try to put it down. After finally giving up on that, I resumed work on the molding. I finally figured out why I was having so much trouble with the quarter round. (There is a top and a bottom, which then creates four possible orientations, which is why my 45 degree cuts weren't squaring up.) I made a considerable amount of progress, but I am having trouble driving the finishing nails into the wall without the nails bending and screwing up the quarter round. Fortunately, most of my work tonight was in the corner behind where the Murphy Bed will go.

Anyhow, if you're still reading, you may want to know why the flurry of activity after nothing for so long on the Keep? Well, there are several reasons. First, the Cubs lost on Saturday, ending their season. It was saddening, but I'll cover that later. Suffice it to say, the Cubs being finished clears up a chunk of my schedule. Also, the Gators lost to LSU, which steps back my college football interest. Sure, I'll watch, but I won't need to sit in a chair and watch it all day Saturday when I could be working on other things three feet away. Finally, the other reason is that my Birthday is coming up.

En route to House Dinner last night, I was thinking about what I wanted to do for my birthday, and I thought... it would be cool to have everyone congregate at the keep for half an hour and then head out to dinner at a place in River North. My plan was to then work on the Murphy Bed today, and send out an email on Tuesday to everyone if I thought it would be possible to have the bed completed... and thus the place suitable for having folks over. Of course, someone beat me to the punch and asked me what I was thinking about my Birthday plans, so I spilled the beans. I still need to send out official invites, but after today's progress, I feel confident that the place could be in really good condition when everyone comes. Of course, I'm now trying to figure out how to seat 12 people in my place. If the Murphy Bed is done, I could squeeze three onto the bench, four on my kitchen chairs, one on the folding chair, two on the loveseat I want to buy before then. One on the exercise bike... and one on the toilet? Oh well, I had wanted to seat eight when I bought the place, and if the bed is done, I can certainly do that. Of course, if the bed isn't done, I'll have trouble seating six, let alone twelve. In sum, we know the upper room was probably bigger than 421 sq. feet.

Alright, this is long and rambling, but I want to work in one last thing. For several weeks now, I have been eyeing a listing of one of the units in my building. (The sales office has sheets for all the unsold units.) Anyhow, this unit (#2104) has a private deck and is listed at $319K. The sheet fails to say important things like how many bedrooms it had, so I've just been mildly curious. (I sure would like my own private deck.) Anyhow, on Saturday as I came back into the building, there was a sign that said that unit #2104 (heretofore known as Covetous Folly) was an 'open house.' So, I punched elevator button #21 and checked it out. It is two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, and a bathroom. The kitchen and bathroom have both been upgraded, and the living room floor was wood laminate. It has in-unit laundry and seems really nice. I want it. So, after chatting with the really nice real estate agent who was showing it (and I don't think it's selling soon if her mood was any indicator), I went down to the Keep and ran the numbers. With my current budget, assuming I can sell my place for a huge gain, and still buy that one for the same price it is now, I can afford that unit once I start making $72,000 a year. However, if I were to rent out the extra room, I could probably afford it in 2009. So realistically speaking. If in two/three years, I wanted to trade up to a nicer unit in this building, I could consider doing so... assuming a bunch of things that won't actually be true, but I dream about Covetous Folly, can't I? (Also, the view from the private balcony would look a lot like this picture, which was taken from the community deck two floors up.

West Loop - Chicago's West Loop, photo by Byron Clarke, copyright 2007