Prominent nations not going to the 2018 World Cup

We’ll take a look at a few nations that will not take any part in the finals in Russia. I’ll start the list in ascending order of relevance.

4. USA

The US wouldn’t have made the list but for the fact that I live here now and follow the team. In global terms, the USMNT (that’s US Men’s National Team) hasn’t done anything in the last few editions to make them a relevant team. Costa Rica and Mexico from the CONCACAF division has done more. Costa Rica in 2014 topped their group of Uruguay, Italy, and England and then went on to lose to Netherlands in the quarters on penalties. With a current ranking of 24, the US laughably sits one spot above Los Ticos, while the latter will be making merry in Russia. The US came in 5th in the Hex, behind Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, and Honduras, and didn’t even make the play-off.

The team going forward will be built around Christian Pulisic, the most technically gifted footballer the nation has produced. Ever.

3. The Netherlands

What a fall for the mighty Oranje, finalists from 2010 and destroyer of Spain in the first game in the last World Cup, with Van Persie’s “Flying Dutchman” goal. They couldn’t even make it to the play off round from their group, coming in third behind France and Sweden. My personal favourite team on the world stage, I’ll have to fall back on the Albiceleste to go all the way.

Robben, Sneijder, Van Persie et all had been carrying this team for far too long. The future will be looking to Memphis Depay.

2. Chile

Winner of the last two editions of Copa America, incidentally beating Argentina both times on penalties in the final, Chile will be the second most high profile nation to miss out on the quadrennial event. Boasting of households names such as Arturo Vidal and Alexis Sanchez, and fielding a solid team, Chile was in a good position going into the last match-day of qualifications. They had to avoid losing to Brazil or hope Columbia beat Peru. Instead, Chile lost 0-3 and Peru drew 1-1. Peru and Chile ended up on the same points, with Peru ending on 5th place due to better goal difference. Peru went into the inter-continental play-off and Chile was left wondering. Also read about the fascinating back-story behind Peru and Chile’s campaign.

1. Italy

Italy missed out on a World Cup for the first time since 1958. That’s 60 years! Buffon will not get a chance to aim for a second World Cup trophy. Curious man management by Gian Piero Ventura, who’s being blasted as the worst gaffer ever, where he didn’t play red-hot Lorenzo Insigne in either of the two legged play-off with Sweden. Italy didn’t score a single goal in over 180 minutes of open play. After having finished second in their group behind Spain, they were handed a not too unfavourable draw against the Swedes but couldn’t muster up enough firepower, or willpower, to get to the finals.

Advertisements
Categories: Analysis, Loves | Leave a comment

USC

I became a United States citizen on March 27, 2018.

The title of this post should not to be confused with University of Southern California. (United States Citizen – gettit?)

The journey started over 13 months ago and the final moment was bitter sweet.

The main reason why I delayed to get the US citizenship is it meant that I had to give up my Indian citizenship as India does not allow dual citizenship. The resolve to go for the USC happened sometime in the aftermath of the bloodbath of November 8th 2016. I knew I couldn’t be a silent spectator, sitting on the fence any more. I knew I had to get up and do something about actively joining the discourse of what was happening in this country. The first step to pursuing any of these lofty ideals is to get citizenship so that, first and foremost, I could vote in subsequent elections. Next would be to be involved in some grass root political activism.

The decision to give up the status of my Indian citizenship was hard. Emotionally I was reconciling to the fact that that I would not a part of the India anymore – the land of my ancestors, the country where I was born and spent the first 26 years of my life in. Though officially, not a whole lot would change. The only thing I cannot do now is vote in any Indian elections. Which I haven’t done since 2005. So that part was easy. Also with the OCI status it means that I have access to almost everything as an Indian citizen does. It was all the in the heart.

 

More pics here.


 

Here is a timeline of the whole process, in reverse chronological order:

Oath/Naturalization ceremony: Mar 27, ’18

Naturalization interview: Feb 27, ’18

Application for naturalization filed: Feb 27, ’17

Condition removed from Permanent Residency: Oct 11, ’11

Sent application to remove condition on Permanent Residency: Apr 26, ’11

Received Permanent Residency status: Jun 16, ’09

Sent application for Permanent Residency: Mar 13, ’09

Categories: Life | 2 Comments

Earnest: student loan consolidation

I consolidated a couple of outstanding student loans taken out during the MBA with Earnest.

Very positive experience and would encourage anyone who is thinking about refinancing, especially people such as me who are already working. The application process is a breeze, the interface is neat, and the decision comes soon. Let me know if you have questions in the comments section.

Disclosure: clicking on the link above and applying for a loan will give you $200 as a sign-up bonus and $200 to me as a referral bonus.

Categories: Tip | Leave a comment

Closing February 2018 off with a bang

Two things happened back to back to end February. Couple of monumental things, affecting my life, and the lives of my family members. Affecting not in a very directly, day-to-day way but with far-reaching implications.

First

Last Tuesday, February 27, I had the immigration interview that one needs to undergo to become a naturalized citizen of the US. I was recommended for approval. Meaning I’m on course to become an American citizen soon. A recap of the interview is posted below. The interview was sort of anticlimactic as in it went according to script, which is a good thing! I’m still not sure how to feel. Getting US citizenship will mean that I will have to relinquish Indian citizenship as India does not allow dual-citizenship.

Second

My first day of class in the MBA program was on 3rd Sep, 2014. Exactly 1,274 days later, on 28th Feb, 2018 I had my last class. The MBA is done. At least the coursework. Commencement, and getting the actual diploma, will be later in the year. Bittersweet feeling. On one hand, I will definitely not miss the countless hours spent doing homework, writing papers, poring over textbooks and slides, preparing for group and individual presentations, and, worst of all, studying for exams, especially, final exams. On the other hand, I will miss the intellectually stimulating classroom sessions. After a full work day, those are the times – between 5:45 pm and 9:05 pm – when I have really been the most attentive, my curiosity the most piqued. I cherish friendships made over the course of these years – most of these friends have graduated before I have!

Vivian is probably the person most happy, that I’m not away from home one or two nights in the week. I’m just relieved to have my week nights and weekends back where I don’t have to stay cooped up in the home office. I even had a drink of Scotch on two evenings this past week! The very thought would have been sacrilegious on a night in a school semester!

_______________________________________________________________________________

Recap of the naturalization interview

Had my interview for naturalization on Feb 27, 2018 at the Minneapolis USCIS office.

Appointment time was set for noon. Vivian and I reached there at 11:30 am. After security and checking in, we sat down in the waiting area at about 11:40 am. At check-in, I was give a number and told that I was next in line but they couldn’t tell me when I would be called in. I went to the rest room and while I was coming back, they called my number through the PA system! I hurried into the waiting area, took the file from Vivian and went to the door where my interview officer was waiting. We shook hands and he led me down the hallway to his room. (a side note about the interviewing officer: he looked like a twin of the character Ron Swanson, from the TV show “Parks and Recreation”)

We entered the room and the officer asked me to remain standing to take the oath to answer all questions truthfully. I did. We sat down. He asked for my the Green Card and Driving Licence. I took both out and he laid them on the table. Then he started to go through all the fields in N-400, the application for naturalization that I had sent in a year ago. Really fast. Like, *really* fast. Name, DOB, address …..Then the questions for which you should answer No (“have you taken part in any genocide” variant), then the ones you should answer Yes (“do you promise to uphold the law” kind). When we were done with the N-400 he said that he won’t require any more documentation/proof and I could remove my file from the table. I put it in the empty chair next to me.

Then he asked me to read the sentence: We pay taxes to the government.
Asked me to write the sentence: We pay tax.

I’m not kidding.

Then the civic portion of the interview where, he reminded me, I need to get 6 out of 10 questions correct.
These are the questions, :
1. What is freedom of religion?
2. Name one state that share the border with Canada.
3. Which ocean lies to the East of the US?
4. What ages do you have to register for Selective Services?
5. When was the constitution adopted?
6. How many Senators are there?
He stopped and said that I got all 6 right.

The officer said we’re done. Asked me if I had any questions. I inquired about when the oath ceremony might be held and when can I expect to get the notification. He said I’ll get the notification between a week to a month. He had no idea when the oath ceremony would be scheduled. Made me sign a couple of times. Then gave me the N-652 that says “Congratulations! You have been recommended for approval”.

We walked out to the waiting area, shook hands and it was done. It was about noon. The whole thing took less than 15 mins.

Update: Today, Mar 7, 2018 got the notification that my oath ceremony date and time has been finalized and the notice sent out. I haven’t yet received the official notice.

Categories: Life, We | 1 Comment

2016-17 European football leagues – analysis

After skipping last year’s recap article – due to the Euros (very conveniently I take off in World Cup and Euro years, which essentially means that I publish posts like this every other year :D) – I’m back to dissect this mundane, yet topsy-turvy, season.

[all snapshots courtsey Goal.com]

____________________________________________________________

English Premier League – Chelsea won its 5th top flight league title, the first in five-year, at the beginning of May, with 3 games to spare. Scratch that. That was the line from 2 seasons ago. Chelsea won its 6th title, with 1 game to spare. After finishing 10th last season, Chelsea bounced back like a cat on a trampoline. 1st-10th-1st. That one game to spare turned out to be an awkward homage to John Terry’s last game in a Blues shirt. Spurs finished 2nd two years in a row, and managed to finish over Arsenal in 22 years. Arsenal was 5th, consigned to the Europa league next year. In fact, I have never witnessed Arsenal outside the top 4 in my 20 years of seriously watching and following European club competitions, that incidentally matched their longest top-4 finish. The saving grace for Arsenal was winning the FA Cup, beating Chelsea, who by the time the final rolled in were in warm beaches, at least their minds were. Leicester after the fairy tale run last year settle into 12th place not before scaring everyone with a potential relegation.

Harry Kane continued his fine form by topping the scoring charts for 2nd consecutive year. Lukaku flourished under Koeman with Everton. The rest are usual suspects.

My prediction for 2017-18

It’s hard to see both Arsenal and ManU not improving upon this season, though even harder to see how they can dislodge the teams above them. Wenger staying on at Arsenal could actually bode worse for the team. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him sacked if there is a spell of few losing games. He’s on thin ice, I think. Conte has won the league the last 4 times he has coached a club (Juve 3, Chelsea 1). Would be foolish to count them off. Liverpool under Klopp is coming together nicely, missing only a few pieces. Guardiola will be in his 2nd seasoan as coach of City. This campaign was the only time in his entire career that he hasn’t won the league as a coach.

My top 6 for next year: Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Man United, Arsenal, Tottenham.

__________________________________________________________________

German BundesligaThe German top flight has become a one-horse league. Munich won their 3rd 5th straight title, 2527th overall. Dortmund’s challenge has fallen off and no other team even thinks, let alone look, to fight for anything higher than the 2nd place spot. [copied pasted from the article 2 years ago]. Leipzig, newly promoted last year, finished a distant second. With Robben and Ribery not getting any younger, though you wouldn’t know that by watching the last 2 games of the season where Robben scored absolute scorchers; Mueller not playing up to his erstwhile golden standard; Lahm and Xabi Alonso (two of the behemoths of the game) retiring – it will be interesting to see how Ancelotti shapes up this Munich team. Dortmund has a young, pacy, exciting team. The strange thing was their coach Thomas Tuchel was sacked after Dortmund won the DFB Pokal (German Cup)!

Aubameyang and Lewandowski continue to score for fun and old warhorse Mario Gomez still is hunting. Incidentally Lewandowski was the leading scorer heading up to the final game day, where Aubameyang scored 2 goals and Lewandowski scored none, and later complained that he was very angry at his team mates by not giving him opportunities to score!

My predictions for 2017-18

Whoever takes the reigns up at Dortmund will inherit a technically talented team with young, speedy players. The US teenager Christian Pulisic has put in impressive performances for club and country and will only develop more. Munich will NOT finish lower than 2nd place. The rest are just guesses; not educated guesses, just guesses.

Top 4: Dortmund, Munich, Monchelgladbach, Werder Bremen

______________________________________________________________________________

Italian Serie AMuch like the Bundesliga, Juventus has turned the Serie A into something they own. The Bianconeri won their 46th title in row, 31st33rd overall, and they won the Scudetto with 41 game to spare [copied pasted from the article 2 years ago]. Even a slew of high profile departures such as Tevez, Vidal, Morata, Pogba has not prevented them from bossing around the league. Mandzukic and Khedira have reinvented themselves while the Argentinian duo of Dybala and Higuain have a tremendous chemistry in front of goal. BBC (Bonuci, Barzhagli, and Chielini) hold up fort at the back, with the very sprightly 40-year old Buffon in goal.  Roma and Napoli had a concerted challenge throughout but it was quite evident that they were jostling for the 2nd place. Atalanta was a surprise finishing as high as 4th, while both Milan and Inter failed to land any European action next season. Milan is so pathetic that it is embarrassing. Hopefully the new Chinese buyers will get on the path to restore a semblance of the old Milan of lore, whose sheen has been worn out by previous owner Silvio Berlusconi (yes, the disgraced ex-Prime Minister of Italy) and longtime GM, and godfather lookalike, Adriano Galliani. Totti ended his 25 year career with Roma.

Juventus though couldn’t attain the treble by losing the Champions League final to Real Madrid.

Edin Dzeko, formerly of Man City, was the surprise lead scorer and both he and his Roma team Mohammed Saleh (Chelsea) are having a great resurgence. The diminutive Dries Martens filled in the void left by Higuain at Napoli, with Calderon and Insigne picking up a fair amount of goals as well. Higuain’s move to Juve gave him the 4th place.

My predictions for 2017-18

Hard to predict against Juve. With Totti now retired, I think Roma will flourish more without having to fit in the 40-year old. Napoli should be in the mix as well. Milan will still flounder.

My top 6: Roma, Napoli, Juventus, Inter, Milan, Lazio

_______________________________________________________________

Spanish La Liga – Real Madrid won their first league title after 5 years. Think about it for a moment. The richest club in the world, with all the Galacticos, could not win the league 5 years in a row. This was their longest streak since 1980. Barca gave them a tough fight till the end but their one extra loss in the whole campaign (4) compared to Madrid’s was the deciding factor. Messi’s superlative performance in the second El Classico was a performance for ages but ultimately that win could not make up for ground lost earlier in the season. Sevilla and Atletico had something resembling a challenge going on but those aspirations faded by April.

Messi with a tally (*mediocre* by his lofty standards!) of 37 goals was the Golden Boot winner in Europe. The big guns from Barca and Madrid filled up the top slots, though Neymar not featuring in the top 5 had some bearing on Barca not winning the league.

My predictions for 2017-18

Atletico will sell their best player (Griezeman), Madrid will add a couple of more Galacticos, Ronaldo and Messi will keep on scoring. The same, the same …

Top 4: Barca, Madrid, Atletico, Villareal

____________________________________________________________________________________

French Ligue 1 – Monaco has got to be this year’s Leicester! The brand of fearless, attacking football played by their young squad, epitomized by Mbappe and led by the written-off Falcao, was a treat to watch. Unay Emery’s first year as coach of PSG can only be described as a failure, though there are reports that he will get another year. To be pipped by Monaco by 8 freaking points is nothing short of a catastrophe! And Monaco made it further in the Champion’s League as well.

Cavani continues his domination of the minows in Ligue 1 and needs a ton of scoring opportunities to actually score. Lacazette continues his impressive run and is bound to be snapped up by top clubs this year. Falcao has risen like a proverbial phoenix.

My predictions for 2017-18

With Monaco selling their prized assets (their and Atletico’s off season game plans are very similar) to bigger clubs, it will be hard to repeat this season’s triumph. PSG will reclaim their throne, and also continue to falter in Europe. Nice was the another surprise package this year; should not be repeated again.

Top 4: PSG, Lyon, Monaco, Marseille

Categories: Sports | Leave a comment

Big clubs, big decisions their way

After Barcelona’s incredible win against PSG with a few controversial calls going the victor’s way, and a couple of games this past weekend, where bigger clubs were awarded decisions which turned the games in their favour, I decided to write this post.

The 3 games I’m going to talk about here are: UCL Barca-PSG on Mar 8th, Serie A Milan-Juve on Mar 10, La Liga Real Madrid-Real Betis Mar 12.

Let me be clear on one thing. In all the three instances, the eventual winner was the clear favourite (before and during the game) to win. I am not for a moment suggesting that somehow the losers were “robbed” of a win. What I am suggesting is that the eventual winners could may have lost or tied the games had some very debatable decisions not gone their way.

Ok, so for the UCL game the 3 crucial calls the referee made mistakes, in my opinion, are the penalty call on Neymar (by Meunier), the penalty call on Suarez (by Marquinhos), and the non-penalty call on Di Maria (by Mascherano). Mascherano even openly admitted to his foul in post-match interviews.

The author at this URL has made lucid points on the all the 3 decisions I mention above.

There was one other non-call for a penalty that was made in the same game, and I believe that was the right call. This was a penalty call against Mascherano in Barca’s box when he slid in to stop in a cross from Draxler (#23). Even though the ball clearly strikes Mascherano’s hand, he was barely a foot or so away from Draxler when the shot was taken. There are 3 things to consider while making the decision to award a penalty based on a hand ball: 1. Intention, 2. Proximity for body from where the ball was kicked, 3. Unnatural positions of arms.

Now, to the Milan-Juventus game. In the 95th min, Milan’s De Sciglio stops Lichtsteiner’s (#26) cross while they are both inside Milan’s penalty box. There was no way De Sciglio could have avoided contact with the ball, he was barely a yard away when it was kicked at him!

And the third incident happened on in the Madrid-Betis match. Navas was waaayy off his line trying to clear the ball and he completely missed the ball and took out, I mean TOOK OUT, the Betis midfilder Darko Brasanac. It should have been a free kick (as it happened outside the box) to Betis  and a red card to Navas (last man, clear goal scoring opportunity). Neither was given.

 

Then, I read this report from La Liga, about Barcelona getting more penalties in La Liga than any other club.

A little more digging brought up these numbers from UCL:  Most penalties for, and most penalties against.

From the above 2 list of numbers I made the following list for most net penalties awarded to clubs in UCL.

You could very well argue that these biggest club play in the most games and they have the most gifted forwards so they get more penalties. That certainly can be a part of the answer, maybe not just the whole. Any one who has followed Champions League football over the years will remember how ManU, in their heydays, could be certain for the game to go on till they equalized or won. Same with Milan of the early 2000s. Barca, Madrid, Munich and Juventus in the recent few years.

Clubs Penalties For Penalties Against Difference (For – Against)
Barcelona 42 16 26
Real Madrid 38 20 18
Bayern Munich 35 22 13
Manchester United 24 11 13
Liverpool 10 2 8
Chelsea 19 12 7
Sevilla 8 1 7
FC Porto 18 12 6
Juventus 19 13 6
AC Milan 18 13 5
Internazionale 8 3 5
Borussia Dortmund 8 4 4
Manchester City 12 8 4
Arsenal 26 23 3
Atletico Madrid 8 5 3
AS Roma 10 9 1
Bayer Leverkusen 13 13 0
Celtic 9 9 0
Valencia 11 11 0
Olympique Lyonnais 10 13 -3
Shakhtar Donetsk 10 13 -3
Olympique Marseille 5 10 -5
Benfica 5 11 -6
Paris Saint-Germain 7 14 -7
AFC Ajax 4 13 -9
PSV Eindhoven 7 16 -9
Olympiakos 7 18 -11
Categories: Analysis, Loves | 1 Comment

10 years

I landed in the US for the first time on Jan 3rd, 2007, exactly a decade ago. Flew from Chennai to London to D.C, on British Airways. Donakaku picked me from from IAD and we went to his home in Richmond, VA. I stayed there for 4 days and landed in Minneapolis, MN on Jan 7th.

1487852173_253b881fce_o

Chennai International Airport, with my then roommates – Subhankar, Pari and Avik

1488709184_c0d49bf1de_o

IAD parking lot with my uncle

 

1488709274_4fae18eed1_o

Outside Star’s school

Categories: Life | Leave a comment

BYOD – Build your own deck

Or BOOD. Built Our Own Deck. Nah, BYOD sounds better.

Ever since we’ve moved into our home in Savage over two years ago we knew we had to get a deck. This wasn’t a wish list item for us: the dining room sliding door opened up into 4 and half feet of thin air. Quite a bit of work went into planning, designing and actually erecting the structure.

With this post I hope to bring some clarity to the whole process and maybe help someone who’s thinking about building their own deck. I’ve put down 7 steps which took me from the conceptualizing stage to the final end product.

Step 1: Start off with some idea of what the deck will look like

The size of the deck, the decking material, the brand, the colour. Don’t worry this will be just the first iteration, just to get the ball rolling.

The two sizes I was considering were 16’x16′ or 20’x14′. We knew that we didn’t want a deck that would require regular maintenance so wood (pressure treated wood) was out. Composite was the the way forward for us. Trex, Azek, TimberTech and Fiberon are the main players in the composite market, where “composite” is a mix of wood and plastic. The type of plastic and their percentage obviously vary by the respective proprietary formula used by each company, but the basic premise is this: since these aren’t wood products, yearly power wash and staining is not required. As for the colour, we wanted a lighter colour, which looks close to wood.

Step 2: Do lots of research

Learn (if you don’t already know; I didn’t) what the basic components of decks are: footings, posts, beams, joists, deck boards, ledger boards and so.

Look up videos on YouTube on how to build decks. This series of videos are perhaps the most comprehensive ones out there.

Try to narrow down the decking material you want to use. What separates an Azek from a TimberTech (incidentally both of these are now owned by the same parent company, CPG Building Products).  Are there other options out there? I came across BamDeck from CaliBamboo which uses a bamboo based composite, NyloBoard which uses 100% recycled carpet fiber – no wood, no PVC (but when I called them to inquire where their closest dealership is, they informed they were going out of business), Natural Composites which uses plastic and wheat (yeah, wheat). Got a couple of free samples of BamDeck decking delivered from California!

Read reviews, among others, at sites such as Houzz.

Step 3: Get quotes

Lots of them. Fine tune your requirements each time you meet with contractor, talk to them, get their opinion, receive their quote. I got quotes from 6 different places, ranging from established and referred-to local deck building stores, individual contractors and big box stores. This step will give you the best idea of what your dream deck is going to cost.

I’ve attached 3 quotes below just to give an idea of the range we were looking at. From almost $19K to $12K.

uglydeck quote

Quote from uglydeck.com

 

saleen quote

Quote from individual contractor – not including the permit

 

dsbahr quote

Quote from D.S. Bahr Construction

By the end of this step, I knew I wanted a 20’x14′, TimberTech Legacy Tigerwood decking, with a “picture frame” (border), stairs, risers and fascia of TimberTech Tropical Caribbean Redwood, with Westbury aluminum railings.

Step 4: Get hold of someone who will undertake the project on an hourly rate basis

Now, for most people the previous step will culminate with them signing a contract for one of the quotes, probably the lowest one, and then sitting back and enjoying while someone builds the deck for them.

I, on the other hand, wanted to build it myself. Let me take that back.  I wanted to build the deck with my hands, with someone along with me who knows what he was doing. Besides, when I sourced the materials myself the overall cost of the project was bound to be significantly lower.

Struck gold on Craiglist. Came across this individual who showcased his work (decks) with something along the lines of “I am willing to help homeowners how much or little they want me to”.

Once Pat came over and we talked, I knew that he would be the one helping me in building the deck.

Step 5: Get the permit

Once I got my rough drawing to Pat, he used a software to create detailed drawings that would need to be submitted to the city to get the building permit. We also went through a few iterations to create the list of materials, down to the nail.

Drawings – 1234

material list

Once you submit plan to city they will, in most cases, come come back with some questions. While some questions might be innocuous ones such as “what exact product from TimberTech will you be using?” to more arcane ones such as “are the stair handrails compliant to the IRC- R311.7.8 code?”

Step 6: Source the material

From TimberTech’s website I found the “Silver dealership” (no “Gold” ones in my area!).  All the dealerships were big lumber yards. Went down to the two closest to my place and with the material list, got quotes.

Scherer Bros quote  Lamperts quote

I was a little disappointed as the cost of the material was actually a bit higher than I had accounted for. When I had almost made up my mind to go with Lamperts, I decided to check out Dakota County Lumber, another Silver TimberTech dealership. DCL is a locally owned lumber yard based in Farmington, about 20 miles from my place, with no branches. But boy, glad that I made the trip! The sales guy Eric was a huge help, assisting in modifying – trimming down actually – the material list based on his experience. And when their quote came in, it was a no-brainer.

DCL invoice

Make sure to have the materials delivered at least 2 days before your intended start build date.

Step 7: Start building!

The plan was to have Pat and me take 2 full weekends (32 to 40 hours) with a third weekend as back-up. The first weekend we ended up having my father-in-law and my sister-in-law’s husband helping out on both days. Also Pat brought over his almost-adult son. The five of us put in 10 hours on Saturday and 8 hours on Sunday. The next weekend, my father-in-law came down to help again. Pat, he and I put in 9 hours on Saturday, and we were done. Complete.

The first Saturday when we started working at 8 am, the air temperature was 32 deg F (0 deg C), with windchill of 27 deg F. We started off with 3 layers of clothing and stripped down as the day wore on. The next Saturday was a balmy 60 deg F at 8 am going up to 80 deg F (27 deg C) in the afternoon!

____________________________________________________________________________________

Monetary cost of the entire project: $10,763

Non-monetary costs: Sweat, sun burn, aching limbs

Would I do it again: Absolutely

 

Here are some in-progress and finished pictures.

20160514_102711

ledger board on

IMG_6648

20160514_124127

Diamond pier footings in place, steel rods waiting to be pounded in

20160514_125607

Working a 35-lb demolition hammer is fun!

IMG_6658

deck boards going over the joists

20160521_165804

finished work

IMG_20160605_233711_01

Brinda loves the deck

Note1: Diamond pier footings blows away traditional poured-concrete footings. Check out videos here. I had to rent the electrical breaker hammer. DCL supplied the 1-1/8″ hex bit required with the hammer.

Note 2: If anyone in the Twin Cities area is interested to get Pat’s contact details, let me know. Most highly recommend him. His work ethic, love of the job, collaborative spirit and his honest & open persona makes him a joy to work with.

Categories: Demystify, Home | 3 Comments

Selling our old house

He had a harrowing – at times felt like nightmarish – experience selling our house in Brooklyn Park. All it took was 11 months, 4 purchase agreements, 5 closing dates, and 2 real estate agents to get it done. And none of this was because the house was priced too high or had anything wrong with it.

We put in the house in the market on June 4, 2015, listed at $X thousand. We had renters in there at that point and the idea was to get it sold off by the end of the month so that we won’t incur any costs after the renters moved out when their lease ended in the end of June. Wishful thinking!

We had an offer on June 16, 2015, at $(X-1)thousand. We had our 1st signed purchase agreement on June 17, 2015. The buyer had the home inspection done, it came back with a couple of things, we corrected both. On June 26, we hear from our realtor that the buyer did not qualify for mortgage financing and the deal fell through.

The house stays in the market for the next couple months. We get calls from Canada about someone wanting to buy all-cash, though at quite a discount. We decline. A couple of lowball offers; we decline. We are in October now; summer is gone and we are tense. We get an offer for $(X-18) thousand. We accept. Second purchase agreement is signed on October 6, 2015. This buyer seemingly is better qualified than the first one in terms of securing financing for the purchase. The buyer conducts their own home inspection; we “fix” (very little to fix as now the inspectors are running out of things to find) whatever they ask for. On Oct 14, 2015 we hear from our realtor and this is her exact email:

Well I just got a phone call from the other agent, it appears the buyer has had a nervous breakdown!!!!  Yes I’m telling you the truth.  You could hold her to the PA but I don’t think it is in your best interest as she wouldn’t show up to closing it sounds like.  It sounds like she is going to Seattle to seek help and family!  I have never has this much go wrong with a listing in my life!!!  Call me when you can!  I am so sorry!!!

We then decide to take the house off the market. Before we do, we get an offer of $(X-26)thousand with a closing date of January, 2016. We decline and take it off the market. I can’t find the exact date when we had a new listing going on but let’s say around mid November. During the next 3 weeks we have plenty of showings and “positive” response from different sets of buyers but no formal offer. By the second week of December we were desperate enough to get back to the offer of $(X-26)thousand that came in October and see if they were still interested. They were! On December 15, 2015 we sign our 3rd purchase agreement for $(X-26)thousand, with a closing date of January 29, 2016. This buyer incidentally wanted a radon test to go along with the home inspection. The radon test revealed that the radon levels were higher; we fixed that for $1,600. All good.

On January 27, 2016 we hear that they can’t close on January 29 because of a “stupid date thing”. We are assured that the buyer’s financing will take only a week more and we will close on February 5, 2016.

On February 4 we hear from our closing agent that they heard from the buyer’s title company that they had not heard from the lender. When our realtor talks to the lender it was found out that they buyer has to go through underwriting again! We go back and forth for almost 2 weeks before we finally pull the plug on February 23 and sign the cancellation for the purchase agreement. We expire the listing and say bye to our realtor with whom we’ve worked with for the past several months.

The weekend of February 27-28 we embark on finding a new realtor by interviewing 4 individuals we think have a good handle on the Brooklyn Park market. End up going with the realtor who sold the house next to our old place (the one we’re trying to sell). The new listing goes live on March 4, 2016. We have 3 offers by March 5. We sign our 4th purchase agreement on March 7, for $(X-20)thousand and have a closing date set of April 22, 2016. The end is near, but not quite yet.

On April 20, 2016 we hear that there is a “minor loan issue” holding up the closing scheduled for two days later. We get washed over with feelings of disbelief and bewilderment and déjà vu. Our realtor vehemently tries to assuage our doubts that this time will be different (she knows about what we’ve been through with the other realtor). New closing date set for April 28, 2016. We spend 7 days and nights in mental agony.

And we do finally close on April 28. A BIG, red-lettered day for us. Vivian and I take half the day off and after the closing we go with our realtor to a bar to celebrate the end of a particularly trying chapter in our life!

 

Categories: Demystify, Home, Life | 3 Comments

2014-15 European football leagues – analysis

After skipping this exercise last year – World Cup year – we’ve come to our 3rd annual Krishanu’s analysis and predictions of the top 5 football leagues in Europe: England, Germany, Spain, Italy, France. Here are the pieces of from 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons.

[all snapshots courtesy goal.com]

______________________________________________________________________

English Premier League – Chelsea won its 5th top flight league title, the first in five-year, at the beginning of May, with 3 games to spare. There was a point where Arsenal were challenging City for the 2nd place, but slots from 2nd to 6th neatly fell into place without much drama, except for Liverpool’s 6-1 hammering by Stoke, which saw them slip to 6th and lose out on a Europa league spot to Spurs. I think this is the best thing to happen to Liverpool! Without Europe lurking mid-week, they should be able to do better in the league next year.

Premier League table 2014-15

Premier League top scorers

Harry Kane was the surprise package with almost claiming the Golden Boot before Aguero took matters in his, well, own feet. It is amazing how Spurs keep on producing world-class players and then sell them off.

My predictions for 2015-16

It will be hard to dethrone Chelsea with the squad they have, and especially with The One as their manager. Mourinho has to be in the top 5 best managers ever in club football. Under LVG, United should see the renaissance continue next year. Arsenal is just 2 signings away (a defensive midfielder and a defender) from launching a legitimate bid to the title. Hard to say.

This would be my top 5 finish next year: Chelsea/Arsenal, City, United, Liverpool.

______________________________________________________________________

German Bundesliga – The German top flight has become a one-horse league. Munich won their 3rd straight tile, 25th overall. Dortmund’s challenge has fallen off and no other team even thinks, let alone look, to fight for anything higher than the 2nd place spot. Wolfsburg – where Kevin De Bruyne has had a superlative season establishing him as one of the top midfielders of the world, and Bas Dost, who came from nowhere to score 16 goals, had an excellent campaign –  made the 2nd spot their own. Dortmund were languishing at the bottom of the table at the start of the year, but managed to finish 7th. They could have claimed a Champion’s League spot by winning the DFB-Pokal (the German cup) but De Bruyne was there again to inspire Wolfsburg to the title. It was a disappointing year for Schalke but they will take consolation from finishing above Dortmund.

Bundesliga table 2014-15

Bundesliga top scorers

My predictions for 2015-16

With Jurgen Klopp departing from Dortmund, it would hard to say whom the club lands up with, and that will in turn have bearings on where they end up next year.

This would be my top 5 finish for next year: Munich, Wolfsburg, Schalke, Leverkusen, Dortmund

________________________________________________________________________

Italian Serie A – Much like the Bundesliga, Juventus has turned the Serie A into something they own. The Bianconeri won their 4th title in row, 31st overall, and they won the Scudetto with 4 games to spare. But the Italian League is in decline and has been for some years. Nothing encapsulates this decline better than the exploits of  38-year old Luca Toni, who finished as the top scorer. My Milan finished lowly 10th, and the reason I had to extend the table! Lazio and Napoli had a last day skirmish where the winner (Lazio) got the Champion’s League play-off spot. Juve also won the Coppa Itallia (Italian Cup) and were on course to win the coveted treble with the Champion’s League against Barcelona (which did not happen).

Serie A table 2014-15

Serie A top scorers

My predictions for 2015-16

Until something dramatic happens, Juventus will continue to steam roll opponents. Rafa Benitez leaving Napoli can only mean good things will happen to Napoli. God help Real Madrid! There has been a lot of talks about Milan being sold to a Mr. Bee or a Chinese consortium. Whatever happens, a buyer with a cash infusion will be the best thing to happen for Milan in the past few years. Berlusconi is mad, Galliani is incompetent, the coaches (Seedorf, Inzaghi) were great players, the club needs money to buy quality players in every single position (except maybe for keeper).

My top 5 finish for next year: Juventus, Roma, Napoli, Inter, Lazio

_________________________________________________________________________

Spanish La Liga – Atletico Madrid claiming the league last year was such a punch in the face for Barcelona and Real Madrid that it couldn’t be allowed to happen again! And, by the way, Atletico’s achievement was so big that Diego Simeone should have won the Coach of the Year Award (instead of Joachim Lowe of Germany’s national team). Barcelona righted that wrong from last year. With MSN (Messin, Neymar and Suarez) hitting 122 goals combined in all competition, there could be only one Campeones! Madrid had a streak of 22 wins in all competition at the end of last year but Luca Modric’s injury and subsequent lay off showed how important he’s to the center of the field. Having won the Copa Del Ray (Spanish Cup) and the Champion’s League, Barcelona has achieved the treble.

Primera Division table 2014-15

Primera Division top scorer

In any other league around Europe, Neymar’s 22 goals would have landed him the Golden Boot. Not in La Liga. Messrs. Messi and Ronaldo have very different ideas on how to win the Pichichi.

My predictions for 2015-16

Barcelona and Madrid are still too strong for anyone else. Rafa Benitez will conspire to bring Madrid down and will probably be sacked mid-season. The new coach will get Madrid up to top 3 with Atletico claiming 2nd.

My top 5 finish for next year: Barca, Atletico, Madrid, Sevilla, Bilbao

____________________________________________________________________________

France Ligue 1 – PSG were in a spot of bother in April and going out of the Champions League against Barcelona was the best thing that happened! Under pressure from Lyon and Marseille, they managed to win the important games at the business end of the season. Ibrahimovic was carrying PSG for most the season until Cavani decided to justify his price tag last summer. He score the bulk of his goals at the end of the season to hand PSG a domestic treble: League, League Cup and French Cup (Coup de France).

Ligue 1 table 2014-15

Ligue 1 top scorer

My predictions for 2013-14

Lacazette is very fast rising star and I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes a move to a club in the top 4 leagues in Europe (Ligue 1 is 5th). With Lacazette gone, Lyon will find the going tough. Monaco has done tremendously well after the sell-off of last summer. They will continue to improve. Gignac would have shone with Marseille, but he has signed for Mexican club Tigres. PSG is 3 pieces away from European glory: a goal keeper (Sirigu is solid but makes some key errors), a creative midfielder, and a Thiago Silva-class defender (David Luiz IS a liability, in any team he plays for).

My top 5 finish for next year: PSG, Monaco, Marseille, Lyon, Montpellier

Categories: Analysis, News, Sports | 2 Comments

%d bloggers like this: