Monday, July 28, 2008


I went to the Godless Brunch on Sunday!! And I have a picture of myself with THE big guy. Yeehaw!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Getting ready

Well, it's been pretty crazy since I last posted. I'm leaving tomorrow morning for the conference, and I only finished my posters around 3 am this morning. I took the files in to the local Fedex-Kinko to print them at around 3:30 am, and they should be ready by 4 pm this afternoon.

Other than that I have not prepared for the conference. I still need to put some software on my computer that I will need for a statistical workshop I'll be attending. I have to buy some supplies for the trip.

I did realize yesterday morning that I don't have any clothes to wear. I normally dress quite ehmmm... casually. And somehow what I did have that would be appropriate didn't fit. I guess I didn't get on the scale recently, and I have 10 extra pounds on me compared to the last time I wore dressy clothes. So I went out and spent (for our budget) an insane amount of money on a pair on pinstripe paints, a silk blouse and two dresses. $250 total. One of the dresses was especially expensive at $88. I don't think I've ever owned anything that expensive to wear other than my wedding dress. But I do think it's gorgeous. Very simple, but elegant. I should post a picture soon. I dropped all the clothes off at the dry cleaner this morning, it should be done by noon.

And that about sums up my preparation. I should still make a list of people that I need to look at up that the meeting. Stuff some recent pictures of my kids in my wallet, I always feel like such a bad parent if I have to admit I don't have any pictures of the kids on me.

There are a few things that I look forward to. One is that this might be the first time in a month that I can get some decent sleep. It looks like most activities are over by 10:30 pm, and start up again around 8 am. For someone who's been sleeping 2-4 hours a night that sounds fantastic. I might even get some shut-eye on the 3 1/2 hour flight, although I doubt that. Twelve people from my department are on the same flight, there will be quite some yakking away.

I also look forward to meeting up with colleagues I don't see very often, because they do their research on the research centers around the state and not on the main campus like I do. In fact, I'm sharing my room with one such friend.

And then there is one other exciting event scheduled, which I will report on later. It's a surprise. You'll have to come back to find out what it is. Ha!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Why is Makita so silent these days? Has she had enough of blogging?

Well, here it is guys and gals. I'm hoping that this is the home stretch, and is it ever torture!

1. My adviser is leaving at the end of this month, and although I have a co-adviser for the Fall semester it will not be the same.
2. I have to prepare and present two posters at a meeting at the end of July.
3. My first dissertation draft is due in early October. That is 3 months from now!
4. I'm still frantically doing experiments to get the necessary data. I just harvested one yesterday. While I'm processing those samples (plants, soil, and disease data), I have to set up the next experiment.

To prepare the posters for the meeting I've been up until 3-4 am in the morning almost every day for the past 2 weeks. There isn't enough coffee in the world to keep me awake anymore.

So you see, I hardly have time to read blogs (and I miss doing that dearly!), so writing blog posts myself right now is a bit tough, But I'll try to do better.

By the time October comes along it will be clear where I stand. Whether my work will be deemed good enough to graduate or not. December is the ultimate deadline for me. In terms of immigration status and funding. If I don't graduate by December, I will not graduate at all. And that would be a shame. So I suppose this means more sleepless nights, and less blogging for the foreseeable future. I will put up a post in the near future to introduce the newest addition to our family, so stay tuned!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Refinancing an adjustable rate mortgage

It's been an interesting few weeks. A bit scary, which among other things accounted for lack of posts.

Yes, we were amongst those that got a sub-prime adjustable rate mortgage two years ago. The rate was scheduled to go up on July 1, 2008. Two years ago that seemed really far away, and with the prices of housing going up so dramatically at the time, we would actually have some equity by the time July 1, 2008 came around.

The housing market went a little up after we bought the house and then came down with a thundering crash. May 2008 arrived, and we had to either pay the higher interest rate as of July 1, or try to re-finance. We received notice that our interest rate was about to go up to 8.5%, which would not have been an unsurmountable raise in monthly payments, but we'd rather not have to fall back on that option.

Over the past 2 years a lot about our situation has changed. We've worked very hard to keep our credit noses clean. Our income situation has improved some, becoming more stable and predictable. That helped. Our credit scores were more than 100 points higher than 2 years ago.

The main problems we were facing were:
The loan-to-value ratio was rather high, because our house did not go up in value as much as we had predicted. And of course, there's this pesky little thing of neither P1 nor I being US citizens or green card holders, and many loan programs required one of those.

On the bright side, since we went through the mortgage process 2 years ago, we had some experience, and we shopped around quite aggressively for low rates and lenders that would accept our immigration status. Also, we have invested a lot in the house over the past 2 years. Both actions paid off for us.

Our house appraised at a value high enough for us to qualify, the home improvements were assessed at $9,000, and without that we would not have qualified. We closed on our refinancing last Friday with a 6% interest rate, which was the best of 6 offers we received. There were other offers for the same rate, but with higher closing costs.

It's nerve wrecking though, even after the closing. The closing agent sits on the money for 3 business days (in our case, add the weekend to that), before they dispatch the funds (you know, just in case we change our minds). Then they dropped it off in the mail, and it took our previous lender a full 24 hours to process the payment once they received it. But I just checked, and it's been paid off!! Yeeehaw!!

I think in many ways, we are a success story. We bought the house a year and a half after we declared bankruptcy with a sub-prime adjustable rate mortgage. We worked on improving our financial situation and carefully managed what we had. We improved our home, and shopped around for a mortgage. We successfully refinanced a less than perfect mortgage that allowed us to buy a home when we otherwise would not have been able to. And now we have the home we wanted, a much better fixed rate, and a regular 30 year mortgage.

So here we are: homeowners with a regular old mortgage. The bank that owns our house right now cannot increase our rates. We are very pleased!