What a Day 10/1/20

News from Richard Bleil

Today was a big day for me. Where to begin?

The college where I teach has gone to online teaching for the next three weeks because of an uptick in the number of students exposed to Covid-19. As such, my mornings are both spent here in the apartment, and fairly lax. Without a commute I can sleep in, my office hours, usually at 8 AM, are canceled and have been replaced by “as requested” for Zoom both making them more flexible and at the same time easier for me. Let’s be honest; teaching from home has its drawbacks. I can’t gauge if I’m getting through by their expressions, but on the other hand, I won’t get in trouble for teaching in my underwear.

Today, while teaching, I received an email about a house that just went on the market. It’s painfully small, but very cute and very much in my price range. I sent a note to my Realtor who informed me that technically it’s not on the market yet. Well, okay, but it looks perfect for me, so I sent her a note and said that I’m going to drive by it and will probably make a bid on it without a tour. My concern is not with the house (which I’ll explain), but I do want to check out things like parking.

See, the house looks like it has been decorated in a style one would expect from an elderly person. If this is the case, I suspect that it is on the market due to a death. The reason I’m not concerned with the house is that, if I am correct, the house is in good enough shape for me to move into immediately. If so, I can pretty much fix anything that needs to be fixed; I just want heat, electricity and running water. But I also want to be nice about this.

The house was listed as if the seller wants a rapid sell. Not only is it a great price, but there’s a “9”. Have you ever noticed that nothing is ten dollars? Things are always $9.95 or $9.99. This is an old sales trick. Although the merchant wants ten dollars, they set it slightly less, so the buyer thinks, “ooh, it’s under ten dollars”. In fact, it really isn’t. This house was listed like this. This all adds up to a family who suffered a loss, has decided on what they want but undercut it just a bit to make it go fast.

Add all of this together, and I had two desires. First, I decided I do want that house. It’s a good price, good size for a lonely loser like me, and I’m sure it’s in at least livable condition. Second, I wanted to save the grieving family from the usual negotiation nonsense which usually just adds to the grieving process. They don’t need that. And finally, I want them to get what they really want for the property, especially since it is priced very reasonably. So, without seeing the inside, I put in a bid, and a bid that was a little bit over their asking price (actually I bid an additional 5% over what I expect they are hoping for). Of course, the bid just went in today, but apparently there is paperwork involved with the bid. Usually, before going on the market they won’t entertain bids, but we did get the go-ahead to submit the bid paperwork, so it’s a good sign.

Very exciting to have the opportunity to actually become a homeowner once again, and hopefully help out a family in the process.

The second really big news is going to sound odd, and you might think it’s a snooze but it sure is exciting to me.  See, some years ago, molecular modeling software was quite “in”. These packages included visualization, molecular building tools, simulations of the way molecules move and quantum mechanical calculation capabilities and more. Over the years, these packages have been disappearing from the market. I suspect that large pharmaceutical companies are buying them and taking them off of the market since they are extremely powerful for modeling interactions of drugs and biomolecules allowing for rapid prediction of improvements and understanding of reaction mechanisms. However, one of them, and one of the best ones for versatility, is on the market. It’s very expensive, but it’s available, so I purchased it.

This package is research quality, and I could use it for that purpose, but it’s also a powerful teaching tool. Tomorrow (today by the time this publishes) I expect to use it for a lab experience for my senior level chemistry course. If I teach biochemistry next semester, as has been suggested may happen, I can use it to build and show proteins, enzymes, DNA, RNA and other biomolecular structures in lecture. Unfortunately I cannot let students use it because it’s too expensive and the licensing won’t allow for multiple copies to run simultaneously, but it’ll be a great way to show students structures that would otherwise be difficult to draw.

Yep, exciting day. Life is moving forward.

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