I noticed, one Saturday morning, the house kitty-corner across the street had been foreclosed on, and was going to tax auction. This is the house that last year had been occupied by very many people, with more cars than could fit in their driveway, some of them apparently nonfunctional. That enormous number of people had moved out around May, and another group moved in. And now they were gone too, and the house was locked by the county's tax board, and up for sale in about two weeks. This produced a lot of complaining about the way the neighborhood is going downhill, even as the neighborhoods more than a block away from us are gentrifying and starting to support a hipster community.
But the fact of this demanded the question: could we buy it? Could we fix it up to something respectable and sell it with an owner-occupancy covenant? (That wouldn't necessarily keep the house from falling into a slumlord's hands, but it would at least be an action against it.) If it were unsalable could we rent ourselves and trust that, since we have to look at the thing, we'd keep it free from blight?
bunny_hugger speculated about that on her Facebook, before deleting the post lest her parents notice this and get anxious about the idea of us buying a house. And then we got some weirdness through our pinball league connections: at least two of our pinball league friends are landlords. Besides urging us to go buying houses to rent, one of them even claimed to have popped over to the house and inspected it and thought that it was a good prospect but he didn't want to own a house in Lansing. I figured the guy was pulling her leg because, what, he just happened to drive the half-hour or so from his house to pop in on the place across from us? And he didn't stop in on us? Or the hipster bar where we play pinball? ... But, no, he seemed to have actually done just that. So, this allowed me to start making jokes about chasing other high-ranking pinball luminaries out of the bushes. (``Why would you say [AND] was in your bushes?'' ``I don't know, ask him what he was doing there.'') Still weird.
Anyway. The auction would be in about a week and a half. The tax bill --- and thus the starting point for the sale --- would be under seven thousand dollars, quite manageable. If the house didn't have any major serious flaws, we could afford that. But should we?
Thus I braced myself and did something drastic.
Trivia: Pioneer 10's official end-of-mission data was received at the end of March, 1997, by the Madrid Deep Space Network station. (Occasional bits of telemetry would be received through to 2003.) Source: Voyager: Seeking Newer Worlds in the Third Great Age of Discovery, Stephen J Pyne.
Currently Reading: American Fairy Tales, L Frank Baum.