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The Misery and Heartbreak of Trying to Buy an FHA-Approved Condo in New York City and Jersey City

Over the past couple of weeks, Janna and I were given a hardcore beatdown in the housing market as we tried to figure out how, when, and where to finally buy our first home in Jersey City or New York City.  We quickly found that an FHA loan — a Federally-sponsored mortgage program where you only have to put down 3.5% of the purchase price instead of the standard 20% — is but a dip in the yonder horizon:  A great idea in theory, but an impossible dream in reality.

The 2008 housing crash ruined everything for the first-time home buyer.  Nobody trusts anybody now.  Everybody’s playing an angle.  Everyone wants a quick and fast and dirty deal and nobody wants to deal with the red tape the FHA loans now require.

As one of Janna’s Black co-workers told her, “An FHA mortgage means to sellers and brokers that you’re Black and can’t afford a real down payment.  They don’t want to deal with that.  Try again later when you have more cash for 20% down.”

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The Saddest Little Carnival in the World

There’s a thin strip of land in the Jersey City Heights wedged between the street and the edge of the baseball field near the reservoir.  A few times a year, a carnival, of sorts, will encamp in that one-block-long urban landscape, transforming the area into the saddest little carnival in the world — filled with emptiness and longing and no joy to be had anywhere for any ticket price.  Even the Fire Ball circle roller coaster has no flame.

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Recovering from Hurricane Sandy in Jersey City

Monday night, at 11:00 pm sharp in Jersey City, New Jersey, the lights went out and stayed off until last night at 7:43pm.  That’s three days without power or heat.  Hurricane Sandy was a massively nasty beast, and we’re just now starting the recovery process.  We are hungry and scavenging for food.  Supermarkets are closed.  Few places have power.

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Our Sidewalk Sale Economy

As I am writing this article, news that the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act is ringing like freedom throughout the United States.  It is a great day to be an American, and an even greater day to be an American if you happen to fall ill.  “Obamacare” is now a law of the land milestone and is no longer a political insult.

Fresh from my Inbox:

The Affordable Care Act has already made a significant difference in the lives of millions of Americans, including those living with disabilities. Today’s ruling is an affirmation that all Americans, and especially those living with disabilities, should have access to the care that they need. This decision means that individuals cannot be discriminated against because of a pre-existing condition— and for the disability community, affirms the definition of equality as set forth in the Americans with Disabilities Act,” said Stephen Bennett, United Cerebral Palsy President & CEO. “Today’s decision is a clear victory for Americans living with disabilities. UCP strongly supports the Affordable Care Act and will keep working to ensure its implementation eliminates disparities and guarantees equality for all Americans.

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My Obsessive Verizon LTE iPad Testing Continues

I confess I am obsessed with trying to figure out why Verizon LTE is so sucky on our two brand-new iPads.  Yesterday, we were at the dentist’s office in Jersey City and I asked Janna to pull out her iPad to see what kind of service levels we were getting.  Our dentist is one block away from our home where I was getting two Verizon LTE bars and 1.7Mbps down and 1.47Mpbs up.  At the dentist’s office, the iPad was screaming at 25.94Mbps down and 10.35Mbps up with four bars of Verizon LTE active!  Amazing!  An outrage!

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Failure of Verizon LTE on the New iPad

I had high hopes for Verizon and their LTE network when I first unboxed my new iPad. I knew the LTE spec could be as high as 20Mbps down and 10Mbps up — but I’d settle for half of those numbers.  I’d read reports that people were getting LTE speeds in NYC of 10Mbps down and 6Mbps up and I’d love to be able to live that fast on the web.

Unfortunately, my initial tests in Jersey City were lousy, and yesterday, I did some informal LTE testing around Bryant Park in New York City.  You’d think at 6th Avenue and 40th Street you’d have a saturating LTE signal from Verizon.  Here are the results of my first, dismal, test:  Two Verizon LTE bars and 1.7Mbps down and 1.47Mpbs up.  Ugh.  That’s miserable 3G territory!

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The Moo Shoes Vegetarian Shoes Review

I have been a Vegan for a good long while now, and one of the hardest things to get sustainably right as you start down the path of cruelty-free living is landing in proper non-leather shoes.  Enter Moo Shoes, your one-stop-shop for Vegan belts and boots and shoes and bags and such and it is located right in the heart of New York City.

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