I know


Before we started

I know this isn’t easy.  In fact, it’s harder than we expected.

I know I’m out of the house more than you want.  I’m sorry.

I know it’s stressful not knowing if our credit card will be accepted or not.  It’s getting better.

I know we grouse at each other more than we should.  Maybe we just need more coffee?

I know our daughter understands some of the stresses.  She will become resilient.


I know five years ago we were both working full time.

I know five years ago we said we would work our asses off for five more years.  We have.

I know five years ago we decided that our fledgling business would support us in five years.  It’s not, yet.

I know the power of goals.  Our business has only been around for 56 months.

I know I joked about the light in the tunnel being either the end of the tunnel or a train.  It’s the end of the tunnel.

4.10 #4

I know we would not trade our life.  Even if I were to earn six figures.

I know there are still a few things we want.  But our needs are simple.

I know that if our business keeps bumping along as it has, it will support us; 64 months after we started it.

I know I will not be finished working.  But it’s downhill to the finish line.

I know it’s easy to focus on the negative.  But the flip side is so much brighter.



Baseboard Mysteries


Today I finished gutting a kitchen.  Behind a baseboard I found the above picture, taken in December 1964.  With a little internet sleuthing I located the names of the family that owned the house at that time – the Jones family.  The patriarch passed away some time ago and the matriarch passed in 2016.  As luck would have it, one of the children owns a small business in town, not five blocks from where this house is located.  I plan to stop by tomorrow and see if I’ve got the right family.



Peek into the newest project

I’m starting another project that I plan to flip.  I think this one will go much better than the last.  I believe there is more upside and when I finish, hopefully any potential future buyer will agree.  Follow us on Facebook for more up-to-the-minute photos (look for HBS Real Estate).

Let there be Light


I’m tired, my hands ache, and the raw skin on my knuckles screams at me each and every time I bump my hands (which is a lot).  There were two overhead lights  when I started working on this house.  I have been adding recessed lights to add some light to the house but to also help keep all available head room – the walls are only seven feet tall.  Reaching into walls to pull wires causes me to bump my hands and fingers in many painful ways.

Don’t trust an electrician with soft hands and not a little dirt under his nails!

As I improve this house, I am able to celebrate small victories.  Today’s was the (almost) completion of all electrical work in the first phase of this project.  The work is complete enough to celebrate, even if it is a little premature.  However, these small victories dull my sense of accomplishment on this project, almost like trying to watch a river cut a new channel.

As I pulled the above photo off my phone, I had the opportunity to review the work to date and, admittedly, smiled to myself as I look at all that has been accomplished in 39 days (yes, the house used to be pink):

img_20160904_121026     img_20160907_115524

I probably won’t be ready for guests for the Temple game, but progress is happening.

A Haunting

We’re working on our new townhouse.  It’s an old house that was let go into disrepair some years ago.  The adjacent townhouse has fallen into foreclosure and is now being prepared for sale by the bank.  A few tools have gone missing, which we attributed to some ‘handy’ subs that were working on the adjacent townhouse and got into ours. However, just this week, weird things began happening:

1) We left a bucket of slop water on the 2nd floor after finishing our tile work. The next morning, I got a call from my contractor to ask if I had returned the previous evening and knocked the bucket over because the tile slop and water were all over the 2nd floor.

2) Two days later, I was working on the 1st floor and heard something moving in the basement. I announced my presence (not that it wouldn’t have been known with all the noise I was making), and promptly left the house, settling where I could see the two exits from the house to see if anyone would leave. No one did and the noises stopped for the remainder of the time I worked there.

3) Yesterday, my brother and I were hanging sheetrock and we heard a crash, like scaffolding had fallen over; again, nothing and no one. My brother left for lunch and I was precutting sheets for when he returned. After he had been gone a reasonable length of time, I was upstairs and heard a crash from the room in which we were hanging drywall. I figured he had returned and had tripped over something – except his car wasn’t back. I went downstairs and nothing had fallen or was out of place.

4) I was completing the hanging of drywall and as I walked into the room to be hung, a cold wind hit me in the face and I felt like I was walking underwater. No windows were open, no vents were open, and it’s a boiler system.

My wife tells me I need to let the occupant of the house know all we are doing is trying to restore it to it’s former beauty.


This is the first day in a long time that can be described as ‘excellent’.  I wish I had the energy to get my thoughts and feelings written, but it’s past midnight and I ‘slept in’ until 5.20am yesterday.  I’m tired, but I’ve had a good day.  I won’t be divulging everything yet, but this dusty corner of the Internet will become more active in the future.


The only clue I will give is the following: Security and Freedom are at opposite ends of the same linear scale and I am walking with confidence towards the Freedom end.  It’s scary but exciting.

Sorry for the late night blast

I’m supposed to be doing “Strategic Financial Management” right now.  Yep, sounds about as interesting as you would expect (OK, I’m a nerd…it is kind of fun).


However, I decided to pull up some of my old posts and reflect on what I had to say a little over 12 months ago.  This blog actually had a few good things to say.  I’ll post some updates here shortly.


It’s another busy semester.

General project updates

No great pictures to post, just some general updates:

1) The flip has not sold yet.  I spoke with my business partner (contractor) and we will be converting this to a rental.  I worked out a deal with my investors that returns money to them and they provide a loan to me to ‘buy’ the house.

2) The house that was hit by the van has now been repaired; total repair costs were more than what I spent to originally purchase and rehab the house (?!?!?).

3) The mildly crazy family that inhabited the house that was hit moved out in October.  While a bit of a pain, it has given me a chance to rehab their side, hopefully raise the rent and has allowed me to teach my brother some (hopefully) useful skills.  In addition, he and I are planning to start offering real estate management services to capture a part of the market currently occupied by my friends and co-students when they leave the area.  Also, while not knowing where I will end up in 18 months, I need a trustworthy manager for my properties.

4) I need to set some general real estate goals for 2015.  Maybe another property or two with a total of ten units under management by Jan 2016.

Moving forward into the Unknown

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” — Mark Twain


I recently read the above quote on Farnam Street’s blog (found here).  Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) is obviously a great author, and had a great ‘stache…(comparable to mine?).

Twain 'stache   vs.    'Stache

As I have matured, I have really enjoyed Mark Twain’s wit and wisdom.  I particularly enjoyed the above quote.  I feel it adequately captures my forward movement.

By the time you read this, I will have left stable employment to return to school for an MBA.  As much as my parents pushed me to return to school in years past, it is finally time for me to return.  I learned as much as I could reasonably learn from my current job…what remains to be discovered at my day job is not what I want to learn.

I do not know what the future holds for me, but I am convinced that the future is brighter than the past; and the past was pretty good.

So, raise a glass of your favorite adult-beverage with me and toast the casting off of bowlines.





(Never fear…HBS is still alive and kicking)

Mark Twain photo courtesy of Matthew Brady via Wikipedia (search term: Mark Twain; 08-03-2014)

Quick update – Unrelated to REI

IMG_20140519_204634210  (That is a very random framing square on my papers…and has nothing to do with the rest of this post)

Hey all, I just wanted to apologize for not getting any posts out recently.  Between some recent travel and an opportunity that presented itself, I’ve been in deep.  I recently had a friend graduate from PSU’s MBA program.  My friend was pragmatic about the program but he felt it opened a bunch of doors for him.  I had been on the fence about going back to school but after working on my budget and looking at the next 3-5 years, I realized that my current day job does not leave enough wiggle room for me to breathe easy and I have no recourse in case of a disaster.

I looked into the MBA program and the deadline to submit an application was April 2014.  I had missed the deadline, so I decided I would put the proverbial nose to the grindstone and pick up any overtime I could, any extra hours working in crappy conditions just for the ‘crappy conditions’ bonus that our company pays and use that money to save and/or pay down some minor debts (outstanding debts on some rental properties…this post isn’t ENTIRELY devoid of REI news!).

The GMAT exam is required for the application process.  I took that test almost 10 years ago and failed miserably.  I thought I had four or five months to study to take the test to make the October application deadline…no sweat, right?

For whatever reason, I decided to look at the application four days ago.  At the top of the page, not quite in bold, but definitely called out was the announcement “The application filing deadline has been extended to June 1”.  You can read into that announcement what you want, but I look at that as an opportunity to get my application in and maybe start school in August.

So, after I saw the program was accepting applications until June 1, I ordered the GMAT prep book, got two-day delivery and took a practice test (and didn’t do so hot).  So, I’ve put myself on an information diet of the following:

4.45am – Wake up
4.59am – Put the coffee on – make it strong
5.00 – 7am – Study
7am – 7.40am – get ready for the day job (shower [if necessary], eat breakfast, etc.)
5-6pm – Return from work
6-7pm – Eat dinner, relax and prepare for studying
7-10pm – Study
10pm – Sleep

It’s going to be a rough week, but the test is this Saturday, applications are due by June 1 and a decision should be made by June 30.  This may be a crazier year than I expected.