Apr. 8: My HOA should KMA

Hello. I am angry.

I love my homeowner's association. OK, "love" might be a bit strong, but I like them fine. I mean, they made our neighbors repaint their house after a bunch of people complained (semi-gloss electric baby blue is just plain bad decision-making). Generally speaking, our homeowner's association does what it's supposed to do. I certainly do not get my $130 annual dues' worth of work from them, but whatever... when they're really needed they seem to get the job done.

I pay little attention to association matters, because quite frankly, I don't feel a need to. I've never gone to a meeting, never called them to bitch about a neighbor or ask why they haven't painted our curbs in eight years. But last year I happened to read the budget newsletter and discovered that sometime since we moved here in 1997, the HOA hired a community management company to handle our HOA duties. Fine. What bugged me, though, was to find that more than 70 percent of our annual dues go to the management company for their services, while the rest actually pays for stuff done within our community, like that guy that prunes our trees once a year. But this means that 70 percent of that stupid check we write every year goes toward a company that we're paying to accept the stupid check. Does this make sense? I don't think so either!

But again, I don't think it's worth complaining about because it's only $130 and I certainly don't want to take on the responsibility myself. So I begrudgingly write the check every year and forget about it. I've found it keeps my blood pressure at a more normal rate that way.

Enter 2006, and know that I'm turning beet-red as I type this. I sent our payment in January. In February I got a past-due notice from the @#$*^%s at the community management company. I figured my check crossed their letter in the mail, so I ignored it. Then in March I got another past-due notice. So I checked my bank records online and found that the @#$*^%s at the community management company did indeed receive my payment, and in fact cashed it in January. I also saw that the said @#$*^%s deposited my dues into a different HOA fund by transposing the numbers of the HOA id. I printed all this proof out, wrote a snotty note about the importance of keeping accurate records and what do I pay you for, anyway???... and put it in the mail.

After a few days I felt bad about being sorta harsh. I mean, people are allowed to make mistakes (I guess). But that was before today. Today I got two things in the mail from these @#$*^%s. They were the same letter, one sent certified that I had to sign for, and the other sent in the regular mail. Both were threatening to foreclose on our house for non-payment of our HOA dues, as well as informing us that a $45 "delinquency processing fee" (whatever the hell THAT is) had been added to our bill. My blood pressure shot up about 400 points. @#$*^%s, @#$*^%s, @#$*^%s!!

It's possible, I suppose, that my snotty note crossed their letters in the mail. I doubt it, seeing as their office is across town and I sent the letter more than a week ago, but whatever... they obviously had not read my reply before sending off their foreclosure threats. And I noticed they cc'd the HOA board of directors, and goddess knows who else. What do you want to bet that I hear NOTHING back from them when they discover it's THEIR error? What do you want to bet they don't send an "oops!" to the board of directors, who will now forever think those Manullangs are big loser-y delinquents? Again, I say: @#$*^%s, @#$*^%s, @#$*^%s!! So, my neighbors and I are paying a company for their bookkeeping services, even though they apparently cannot write numbers correctly and double-entry accounting is obviously over their pinheads. Remind me why I send these people money, please!

Not surprisingly, I could continue. Surprisingly, I won't (you're welcome). But if anyone out there can give me one good reason for letting these people continue to live, I'd love to hear it. Because I looked at their web site to see a description of services they offer, but all I found was news of their company "events"--Christmas party, summer party, third Tuesday of the month party, dancing in my money party, etc.

There are lots of new pictures on our web site! I finally posted the ones of that beautiful baby Gwendolyn Justine Nelson. Here's a fun fact... if you say her name fast, it just rolls off the tongue like one word: "Gwenelson." Cool, eh? I also added some new ones of the very cherubic Dorothy Frances Gutierrez. I put my nephew Stephen's neato senior portraits on the Voss page. Enjoy.

Have you seen the show "Stranded: with Cash Peters" on the Travel Channel? It's great. He gets dropped off somewhere without any money, and has to mooch off other people until his cameraman decides he's seen enough. This next week Cash is going to Orange County--something tells me he won't get into Disneyland without $$--and Seattle--I'm guessing he'll get a free latte without much begging, and will want to throw fish at Pike Place Market. Both of those ought to be good, since a lot of the times he ends up in very rural or remote areas. I liked the episode where he was in Mongolia or somewheres like that and threw up into a plastic bag, then handed it to a guy he'd befriended, who accepted it and went on his merry way. I'm quite pleased to say I don't know anyone who would do that (puke in a bag OR carry someone else's puke).

It was an exciting week at our house because we got another TiVo. This one, besides being several years newer than our first one, is also a DVD recorder. We can record stuff with TiVo and then burn it to DVDs and it makes us ever so happy. And with both TiVos hooked up to our wireless network, we can use one to watch something recorded on the other. If you don't have TiVo yet, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? Do as I say already! Geez. Oh, and when you activate your service tell them I sent you (on tivo.com I'm JLSM97(at)verizon.net).

I'm headed to Boise soon to meet Gwen and Dorothy Frances face-to-face. Are you jealous? Because unless you've already met them, you probably should be.

I'm also going to WWC soon to talk about life as a trainer to JoAnn Wiggins' Training & Development students. This will be the third or fourth time I've done it, and even though it's a lot of work to prepare, I really enjoy it. I always feel re-invigorated and fall in love with my career choice all over again. One of the not-so-fun side effects is that I come home feeling really OLD.

Oh, and speaking of being old... I went to my twentieth high school reunion in February. It was great fun re-connecting with old friends. If you knew any of my classmates, or if you want to look at pictures of people you don't know, feel free to check out our reunion scrapbook at www.paa86.com.

You know I love silly stuff, and you know I love to share. Now you can find some of the images I've posted here and there at manullang.com in one place: Kicks & Giggles. It's a page chock-full of chuckles. And BONUS... here's a chuckle you don't even have to click for:

I'm now two weeks post-LASIK and still very pleased with the results. Driving at night, especially in the rain, is a little scary, but otherwise I don't notice a huge difference from how my vision was with glasses/contacts. I have a follow-up exam this next week, at which I'll get a better idea of exactly how good my vision is now and whether I'll need glasses or contacts, or if I'll eventually need a LASIK enhancement (that means "do-over"). The idea of going through the surgery process again doesn't make me too nervous until I remember the smell of the laser doing its thing: it's like burning hair. Yuck.

OK, it's late and I'm sleepy from all the cursing.



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