The new TOP World HQ is in an entirely different part of town—the west or rural side of town, where suburb gives way to farmland. In fact, there's a farm field abutting my new back yard. There are some particularly lovely rural views close by, which I'll photograph and share in due course.
I've been waiting for this opportunity for some time now. This morning I took possession of our new house at a friendly and actually quite moving (no pun intended) financial ceremony called a "closing," about which many of you know far more than I do. It is one of life's small landmarks and memorable for that reason. (I'm also told that it makes almost everyone anxious, regardless of their level of wealth, because even if there is no financial strain involved—which of course there is for many people, me included—there's always the worry about whether you've made the right decision.) The previous owners and their agent (native Waukeshavians who've been friends for decades) couldn't have been nicer.
Every person who is reading or has ever read TOP or clicked on one of our advertisements has indirectly helped make this possible. Certainly anyone who has ever purchased a product from B&H Photo or Amazon through our links has helped. Even more obviously, anyone who has bought one of our own products deserves my thanks—especially, but not limited to, people who participate in our print offers—and that includes the photographers offering their work. There are many people like Jim Henry and Bryce Lee who make regular contributions to the site because they like it (I name two people just to help personalize it—there are many of you). Subscribers definitely help! There are people who give in kind to the site—whether it's tickets to a football game so I can take a break, or the writing of a post, or the loan of a piece of equipment, or just those who have sent me good informational tips—thank you all.
But most especially in this case, you'll remember that we had a "Help TOP Move" print sale some time back. Because those were my pictures, I got to keep a greater percentage of the earnings. Plus, a surprisingly large number of people simply contributed a gift of cash at the time—they didn't want a print, but they wanted to help. I'll thank all you good people in a minute. (I've waited long enough, I want to do it up proper—after the shots of the new home office space.)
As it's mine now, I can share a few pictures—just walkaround snaps made as I let the painter in (my artist friend Karl) after the closing today.
The architectural style is what used to be called "suburban ranch style" or "fifties ranch" but is now more often called "midcentury modern." The living room is being painted as I write, a peaceful blue-gray.
Two views of the kitchen with housekeys and garage door openers on the island countertop. I confess the nice house is part of an even more grand underlying amibition to find myself a wife, and the purpose of the nice kitchen is to fool prospects into thinking I'm housebroken, or, as Huck Finn put it, sivilized. Also so Zander can make sweet potato fries and all sorts of tasty things. (He, unlike moi, can cook.)
Several snaps of the deck and yard. The back yard is really gorgeous, and quite large. And we're about to get to the fun part, so hang in there.
I won't show the three bedrooms and the other bathroom, except to note that I now get my own bathroom for the first time since 1997! Is that not awesome? You might think this is a small thing, and yet it is not. It is a very big and wonderful thing.
It's a tad under 2,000 square feet, and the listing price was $259k. That's well into the upper-middle level of real estate prices in our area—and just a little past the tip-top of my budget (although I did get it for less). I think it seems luxurious, but it might also be relatively inexpensive by national standards. One of the very nice things about living in Wisconsin. ("Wisconsin. Is that in the United States?")
Maybe a few readers who live in, say, Southern California, or coastal Florida, or within driving distance of New York City—or even London or Berlin or Tokyo—can provide context by estimating what a house like this might cost in their areas.
And now what you've been waiting for...
The official name of TOP World Headquarters is changing. It is now to be called TOP Secret Underground Headquarters, on account of it is in a fortified concrete bunker deep in the Earth. Also known in somewhat more recherché terms as a "finished basement." The mission is still the same, of course: World Dominion, via the Internet, one Photo-Dawg at a time.
The desk in the photo above is the postulated future temp assistant's desk. The desk itself actually came out of the old Schlitz Brewery Headquarters building in downtown Milwaukee. (I bought it from the previous owner of the house.)
Now be still, my beating heart...as we come to the reason why I bought this particular house. BEAR IN MIND that the office from which I've been running this far-flung enterprise for nine years now is 11 feet by 11 feet in size. And stuffed to the scuppers, yea the very gills, with what is technically known as "crap." Stuff for those who think "cr-p" is a curse-word. So take a short walk with me around the new office:
(In the interests of inclusiveness I should point out right here that if you read TOP occasionally or always and you have never contributed one copper cent to me or the site, you're still welcome here, make no mistake about that. Free site, everyone welcome.)
But you see this big byootiful office space? YOU DID THAT, y'all who contributed to the "Help TOP Move" sale, from Ctein who made the prints and administrated the sale down to the smallest cash contributor (and including five people who contributed only yesterday! You know who you are, and thanks). That's what you made possible. Because, y'see, I've been working for three years at the task of getting more space, and I could have bought a house on my own all right. But I couldn't have bought this house with this much space without that Sale. So, a great big...
to everyone who participated in that.
As for the space itself, sour old Sigmund Freud, in one book of his everyone should read even today, Civilization and Its Discontents, said "what we call happiness comes from the (preferably sudden) satisfaction of needs which have been dammed up to a high degree, and it is from its nature only possible as an episodic phenomenon."
Going from that old 11x11' space to this is going to make a lot of things possible. Maybe it's only the sudden release of dammed up needs, and maybe it's only an "episode," but I am happy.
Upshot...TOP turns 10 next year...and has plenty of room to improve.
Pun intended that time!
Original contents copyright 2014 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Ailsa: "My jaw has dropped. Not because it isn't wonderful (it is—it really, really is), but because of the price. I just did a conversion into pounds sterling, and had to stare at the screen in disbelief for several moments. I then had to go to a different site to double check.
"For that price, this is what you could buy in my home town of Brighton. I'm now off to weep quietly in a corner...."
Mike replies: Well that's simple. You and Ro and Walt (their greyhound) can just move here. We do have two huge dog parks within an easy drive...I don't know how big the one closer to the new house is, but the one close to the old house is 17+ acres (7 hectares). That's just the fenced-in dog areas! The park itself is many times larger. And our local health club has two indoor swimming pools (one Olympic sized) and an indoor track, along with every other conceivable facility...and costs £32 ($54) a month.
More seriously, I know you can't leave family, friends and business contacts, but it's nice to think about, isn't it?
And by the way—not to lobby—but you don't have to spend as much as £155k here to get a nice house. [g]
Romano Gianetti: "At driving distance (30 miles) from Madrid, Spain, where I live, that house would be a steal at around 1 million euros—thanks to the crisis and the real estate prices going down like crazy. Most probably (given the backyard) 2 M€. Color me appalled...and congratulations!"
Steve Biro: "Back in the late 1980s, I was offered the job as news director at the old WBCS radio in Milwaukee. I was living in Florida at the time and didn't take the job because I had a feeling the station wasn't long for the world. My instincts were right: It was sold six months later, the format changed and the staff blown out.
"I live in the New York metropolitan area now but think often about Milwaukee after my visit to WBCS that weekend in the 1980s. I know I would have enjoyed living that part of the Midwest. After getting a look at the new TOP headquarters and knowing its price, I can only dream about what might have been and weep at what I had to pay for my two-bedroom townhouse an hour outside the Big Apple. But I draw considerable vicarious satisfaction from knowing I played a small role in your victory here, Mike. Congratulations and the best of luck going forward. And remember to enjoy it all!"
The Lazy Aussie: "like"
lynnb: "Mike, warmest congratulations! Your new TOP World HQ looks fabulous! P.S. With all that grass, have you considered a sheep instead of a ride-on mower?"
Mike replies: Seems tempting, until I consider my vet bills for the dogs and then multiply that out to a flock of sheep! [g] Actually I'm anxiously awaiting a quotation from Ray & Son Lawn Mowing Service...wish me luck.
Caleb Courteau: "Congrats Mike. As a nearly daily reader since 2007, I feel pretty darn emotionally invested in the joyous acquisition of your new digs. Cheers!"
Paul Byrnes: "Brilliant Mike. I guess the next development is a live video Internet feed in that office so TOP readers can see what you're doing at all times! Congratulations and thanks for ten years of great writing."
Mike replies: Like the nesting eagles? Made me laugh.