03.28.2006 | 12:23 am

Last weekend, my wife and I went house hunting. By the time we had looked at the tenth house, they all looked the same to me. I had stopped thinking about where I was, what the house looked like, whether it was a practical arrangement for our family, which kid would stay in what room, and had in general stopped doing anything but responding with affirmations of whatever my wife said. It turns out that you can pretend to be engaged in whatever someone else is doing simply by saying, whenever it’s clear that it’s your turn to talk, one of the following:

  • “Totally.”
  • “That’s exactly right.”
  • “Hmm. That’s a good question. What do you think?” (This is a good one when it’s clear you’ve been asked for your opinion on something but you really don’t have any idea what’s going on.)

While we wandered, a number of thoughts went through my mind. They include the following:

  • If you’ve got a massive dog with a massive incontinence problem, you shouldn’t even try to sell your house until you’ve replaced all the carpet in the house. All the Sharper Image De-Ionizing De-Stinkifiers in the world aren’t going to be sufficient, the open windows just acknowledge the stench without making me think there’s any hope for eliminating it (“Honey, let’s buy this house! And when we do, let’s always leave all the windows open!”), and the cinnamon-scented candles just make the place smell like cinnamony dog pee.
  • If you want to sell your home, go away while I wander around in your house. If you’re watching over my shoulder, I don’t feel like I can be nosy. And if I don’t feel like I can be nosy, I’m just going to make polite noises and get out as fast as I can.
  • My new bike commute is going to be epic. I’m going to be riding 50 miles and doing 4000 feet of climbing every single day, just by going to work and back. Too bad (for everyone else) my new job doesn’t have showers onsite.
  • Money becomes meaningless when you talk about large enough quantities of it.

Wrapping My Head around Money

Here’s my theory: when you start talking about so much money that you can no longer imagine how big a pile of one-dollar-bills totaling that amount would be, the quantity starts being meaningless. How big would a pile of 100,000 one dollar bills be? Would it fill a 10-foot-square room up to my knees, hips, or chest? I don’t know.

And that’s why buying a house seems so strange. When I negotiate on price, I have no real idea whether the house is, objectively, a good value. All I know is I’m going to offer $15,000 less than the asking price, because I know everyone asks for more than they expect.

Is any house worth the amount of money I’m about to borrow for one? I don’t know. I can’t imagine the pile. But I do know that I’ve developed a nice little headache in the left half of my head while thinking about it.

And I’m hyperventilating, too.

I thought about bikes while house hunting, too. Specifically, I thought about how strange it was to be saying things like, “This house is only $5,000 more than the last house we looked at,” when I know for sure that there’s no way in the world anyone would say I just spent “only” $5000 on a bike, even though I’d enjoy a $5000 bike a lot more than whatever difference $5000 counts for between two houses.

With all that said, here’s the one we’re probably going to get:

Please note the best features of the house:

  • three car garage
  • custom-built epic commute

My wife, however, contends that the best thing about it is the beautiful granite countertops.



PS: My son is very happy to announce that he has created a new minigame. Try it at:


  1. Comment by Jeff | 03.28.2006 | 1:15 am

    We talked about this when you were out here, and we even looked at the house online, but it’s only when I see the picture in your blog that I realize that the house appears to be made out of Legos. is this true? If so, do you get to offer $5000 more if it’s got Mindstorms built in?

  2. Comment by TIMOTHY | 03.28.2006 | 1:49 am

    Thank you for a very informative blog – my wife and I are prepareing to go house hunting ourselves in the next month or so – now I know what to write on my hand.

  3. Comment by Sue | 03.28.2006 | 2:23 am

    I thought you were looking to buy up on the ridge. If you ride up and over the ridge twice a day, every day, no one is going to be able to keep up with you on the weekends. You’ll be a monster, a beast, a climbing GOD.  In fact, that commute is so epic, I’d never do it.
    My mother-in-law lives near where (I think) you’re looking. In the past 5 years there has been approximately 5,000 new sub-divisions built in the area and I can no longer ride to her house without getting lost and thinking, "Oh yeah, this is her neighborhood" only to be wrong by about 8 miles.

  4. Comment by Big Guy on a Bicycle | 03.28.2006 | 2:25 am

    I would have a 50 mile bike commute, except that the roads between here and work are deadly (a guy I knew was killed last year on those same roads by a lady who "never saw him" – aka wasn’t paying attention and never looked before hitting him at 55 mph in a 40 mph zone).  Much of it has no shoulder either, plus I’d have to leave at 4:30 am to get to work and get showered/changed on time (6:00 am).  Instead I have a 50 mile commute by car or motorcycle.  Then it’s just four miles to great trails, or I can road ride from the front door.
    If your commute is on decent roads, I am extremely jealous.  I also like the separate garage just for bicycles.  Nice touch.

  5. Comment by Unknown | 03.28.2006 | 2:36 am

    No one should have to live with cinnamon dog pee scent…

  6. Comment by Unknown | 03.28.2006 | 2:38 am

    The house looks great, except for the fact that it looks lopsided :P

  7. Comment by Sue | 03.28.2006 | 4:01 am

    Tell your son the game is too hard for old people. I feel too much shame when my snowman melt, er when my rocket guy gets hit by a cloud.

  8. Comment by Sue | 03.28.2006 | 4:03 am

    I forgot to mention that I never, ever, even ONCE sucessfully jumped over the wall on the other game he made a long time ago.  Is that still on the site?  I’ll have to go check it out and try to redeem myself.

  9. Comment by Shadow | 03.28.2006 | 5:01 am Here. Yes, "Boing" is still there.

  10. Comment by Kat | 03.28.2006 | 5:21 am

    Stopping in after seeing you made the best of MSN Spaces again.  I have to say the house looks nice but I’m not real sure what the designer was thinking with the overall exterior look…it almost looks lopsided and I have to wonder myself if it was made of legos? lol  Different that’s for sure and is that door really yellow???? Ok, not that it’s really my business LOL but do you really need a three car garage if you ride a bike???  ROFL  ok I’ll shut-up now…

  11. Comment by Unknown | 03.28.2006 | 5:46 am

    Yep, he does need a three-car garage because where else would Fatty put all his bikes.  Bikes are supposed to be on the ground not hung upside down from the ceiling or on a wall.
    Also, I never did manage to get over the wall in Boing either.  I wish I could attribute it to my failing motor skills, but at 20 I think that’s a little bit of a stretch…
    PS I like the lopsided house.

  12. Comment by cawddup | 03.28.2006 | 10:04 am

    Blimey, Air Race music track #4 is plain scary.

  13. Comment by BIg Mike In Oz | 03.28.2006 | 10:48 am

    Kat – there’s bike riders and then there’s people who wonder about bike riders… my house has a double garage and both cars live outside, but the bikes are safe and warm inside.
    Fatty – After the first paragraph I was thinking "Dude, men don’t admit to those tactics.  It’s part of the code."
    You overlooked replacing the dog along with the carpet.
    Your new workplace does have a shower.  Try shower-in-a-can.  Half a can a day can hose away almost any length commute.
    $5000 of $1 bills in a single stack is near enough to 2 feet high.  Assuming the notes are crisp and flat.  If they’re used you can add another 2-3 inches.
    $5000 is also the difference between Tiagra and Dura-ace on your next 12 road bikes.  Once it’s put in proper perspective like that you can appreciate why it’s important to haggle hard.

  14. Comment by uncadan8 | 03.28.2006 | 12:15 pm

    If you do that commute daily, I am sure your new boss will find room in the budget for the shower, so no worries!

  15. Comment by craig | 03.28.2006 | 1:46 pm

    FC Thats awesome news about the ‘three car sized’ garage. by the looks of it , you can have a sweet bike shop set up in that one bay, including but not limited to; Roller/trainer setup with entertainment center, Cycling lounge for pre and post ride warmup/ stretching, bike rack for 10 bikes or so,  full repair shop, etc..

  16. Comment by Nooner™ | 03.28.2006 | 2:47 pm

    Hi FC,
    Your site is Awesome!
    I stopped by as a result of the Best of What’s Your Story!
    Little did I know that I was going to get a Huge Kick from reading the blog herein titled Money, and enjoy your House Hunting escapade so darn much! (I’m a Realtor, you see … Thus I was in hysterics reading this .. lol).
    I’ll have to stop back again and perhaps use the "Trackbacks" feature to refer to your blog in my spaces.  Though my spaces is 90% comedy (I call my site Nooner’s Comedy Corner), I just began a new serious section within it to place Real Estate related blogs of monthly articles I’ll be sending to a local newspaper, and perhaps answering bloggers questions on Real Estate questions.  Your weekend escapades here are priceless .. lol.
    Congrats once again on the nomination!
    Visit my spaces should you have the chance one day soon!
    All the best,

  17. Comment by Unknown | 03.28.2006 | 2:56 pm


    In a way when you’re throwing around the amounts of money you have to spend on a house, what’s $15,000 between friends? However my analytical nature, the same nature that makes me want to track my rides via GPS, insists on a bit more rigor than, "Everyone asks for more than they expect."

    You should be obtain lists of similar houses in similar areas and their recent selling prices. From these, you can calculate a more or less relevant average cost per square foot for houses like the one you’re considering. Since you know the size of the house you’re considering, you know whether your offer will be above or below average market value.

    A good realtor should be able to do this for you, or you can do it yourself if you don’t like realtors.

  18. Comment by Jose | 03.28.2006 | 3:16 pm

    Hey Fatty:
    Is that white stuff in your yard snow? or they use white grass in Utah. Is that a recent picture? If that thing is snow you’ll have to get a new set of tires for all your bikes, not to mention new winter apparel, and a heater for your "new bike garage"…I think that’s probably more than $5000.

  19. Comment by Zed | 03.28.2006 | 3:44 pm

    Hey, Fatty, what I said about riding with you after you move back … I take it back. Those Leadville guys don’t stand a chance this year. You’re going under 9 hours … and maybe 8 … and when I finally work up the gumption to come for a ride with you, I’m dead.

  20. Comment by barry1021 | 03.28.2006 | 4:20 pm

    "hey honey, you remember that funny smelling fella in the spandex who came with his family to look at our house? You remember him, he was the one that walked into the garage and let out a scream that scared the s__t out of the neighbors? Seems he’s put a picture of our house on his web site!! He’s a strange one alright, not sure the neigbors will take to him if they buy the place….."

  21. Comment by Donald | 03.29.2006 | 2:41 am

    Nice looking place but what is the white stuff in the front yard?

  22. Comment by richds | 03.29.2006 | 7:28 am

    I live at an apartment at the top of a mesa.  It sucks because you go fast on the way out and then you kill yourself getting home.  Great for pushing yourself hard, but bad for commuting.  I’m moving down into the valley next month.

  23. Comment by Unknown | 03.29.2006 | 3:36 pm

    I actually like that house. It’s "different."  As for stinky stuff, we had a dog with incontinence…thank goodness she has outgrown it. But we used ATX Odorkill and it really works. They have testimonials about it taking out cadaver smells, skunk smells, and so forth.
    fyi, if you’re a buyer, use a realtor. the seller usually pays the commission and you don’t want to go in without representation…just make sure you like them and they know what they’re doing. a bad one can botch things up!
    I am enjoying your blog quite a bit. It’s between yours and the Canadian in Korea…if he’s on spaces..can’t remember. sheesh, I’m babbling.
    I will have to try those games.

  24. Comment by El_Presidente_WEIRD | 03.29.2006 | 7:55 pm

    fat is good! don;t be a retard and lose weight

  25. Comment by mariane | 03.30.2006 | 1:49 am

    It’s actually "cinnamony"  
     Hilarous and witty blog.  And the first one I ever read! 
    I would love to do your mortgage loan for free – that means an interest rate with zero costs – trust me and compare!  LOVE the house – congratulations! 

  26. Comment by evencastles | 03.30.2006 | 2:46 am

    Greetings from Shanghai.

  27. Comment by Catherine | 03.30.2006 | 7:49 am

    Two weeks ago I called my daughter in Salt Lake City with condolences on the 2 feet of snow I’d heard they got.  She only got 2 inches…but the city extends up onto the mountains and there they did  get 2 feet.  That house appears to be pretty high up.  You may want to reconsider it if you intend to ride to work every  day!! 

  28. Comment by Unknown | 03.30.2006 | 10:29 am

    Hello, I hope all is well, you have nice space, if you have some time you can check mine too…
    Bestes Casino
    Casino en línea
    Casino en ligne
    Casino Spiele
    Cpayscom online casinos
    Casino Forum
    Online Casinos
    Internet Casinos
    Poker Bonus
    Casino Payouts
    Thanks and have a great day/night!

  29. Comment by Allan | 03.31.2006 | 9:35 pm

    Looks like we are neighbors.  Welcome to Alpine.  I have one advantage, I am both Fat and Old but still think the loop ride on a summer weekday AM is the best in the world.


Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.