make this crap up.
so the big news is that
we have another kid on the way. probably a girl says one of the technicians
at kaiser. i'll be surrounded by girls! should be fun. this is why we went
decided to get a new car and to get the bigger truck. we knew were going
to have four in the family some time soon and the fiesta wasn't cutting
it in the back seat. and the only way to get 4 in a truck is to have a
super cab or crew cab so there you go.
business hasn't been great
lately. a big part of that is that i'm not hustling as much as i used to.
still struggling to find a niche and rhythm. still don't have the truck
organization up and running because i've been waiting on the drawer pans
for a few weeks now. ugh.
it'll be nice when the
kids are a bit older so christmas will mean something again. definitely
isn't how it used to be.
glad that the interview
will be released after all. pretty pathetic initial response to just cancel
it. fucking north korea. i'd drop the bomb on them if i were in charge
so i guess it's good i'm not in charge. you can subject your people to
awful conditions and threaten war with everyone, but when you start threatening
comedy then i draw the line.
got enough time today to
put up three pieces of door casing in the laundry room. then i ran out
of trim so i had to stop. not much time these days. work and zoe prevent
me/us from doing much around the house or watching movies. treading water
is more like it. gotta figure out a way to get zoe to entertain herself
more. she's good in short spurts, but she mostly wants to hang out with
us and has grown accustomed to going out and doing things. better that
she's active than a couch potato, but a lot of the time i would prefer
to just sit around since work has me driving all over town and generally
she's also been kinda whiny
the past few days. maybe sick, but doesn't seem to be presenting in any
way. it's especially true after she comes back from day care two days a
week. i guess it could be her making the adjustment from being around a
bunch of kids and toys to just hanging with mom and dad.
so the storm of the century
was just a heavy rain. some flooding which was expected, but overall most
of the rest of the country is laughing at us for closing schools and acting
like little pansies. it's amazing how pathetic we are when it comes to
some things. of course in some areas there was a legitimate concern. i
have a customer who runs a house boat dock and that can be a problem with
heavy winds and rain. some people live in landslide areas and should be
aware of the danger of a heavy rain. but on the whole it was just a storm.
the wind really wasn't very bad in the majority of the east bay and the
rain was really heavy for only a couple hours.
of course because schools
closed then some parents had to stay home from work to watch the kids so
it really reduced the traffic. i drove around plenty on thursday and friday
and didn't run into any traffic. it was as empty as a sunday morning. so,
in that way, i'm quite thankful for the overreaction. it cleared all the
scared drivers off the roads and made my commutes a lot easier.
bought a used prius on
thanksgiving. not sure if i said that already. we went from having a yellow
truck and green fiesta to a white prius and gray f150. our total mpg is
probably better now by about 10 because the prius is really great. the
f150 gets about 12, which is awful, but the ranger got about 16 fully loaded
with tools. the fiesta got in the low 30s and the prius gets in the high
40s. they're two ends of the spectrum, but make total sense for what we
big storm coming. the media
is playing like it's going to drown us all. they are recommending we stay
home from work. schools are closing all over the place. not one drop has
fallen yet and this is what's happening. lots of fraidy cats round these
parts. this is the good thing about good ol boys. they may be more likely
to say some racist and sexist shit. they may be more likely to have sex
with their cousin. but they're also more likely to drag your sorry ass
out of a ditch when an inch of rain makes you drive your smart car off
the road. and let's be honest, the only thing you know how to do/have the
tools for is calling AAA. this is why i'm a big believer in the strength
not loving work lately.
got a couple jobs that have been annoying and dragging out a bit. should
be interesting to see where this all goes in 5 years.
oregon owned arizona which
was pretty predictable. to beat oregon twice in a season is a pretty tall
order. oregon should be able to deal with tcu or fsu without too much trouble.
osu is hurt and can only sneak in with a big win or a loss from above them.
alabama is the real test.
getting lots of rain lately
which is good for the state. ultimately, though, people need to do more
to take this into their own hands. there was an article about a family
that has 15k gallons of storage and it all filled up with these rains.
that's what more people need to do. of course that only applies to people
with means, but if those people do it then it helps everyone. ag needs
to be on board as well. issue isn't going away anytime soon. we have about
1k gallons of storage but it's only used for a plants. we don't have the
capacity to use it for flushing toilets or anything, and that would really
really hope fsu loses next
week. they are really not deserving of the playoff. on the other hand you
can't leave them out because of their record and the fact that they won
took a few days off for
thanksgiving. still did some work of course, but it was bookkeeping and
a little job for a neighbor. we were going to go to the asu/az game, but
cancelled at the last minute. zoe was sick early in the week and 26 hours
in the car with her sounded awful. she ended up being quite the joy these
last few days, though, so maybe we could have gone after all. great to
hang out with her and teach her stuff. she's learning a lot and is a real
little kid now. you can actually interact with her to some extent and she
understands a lot more than i would have thought. my approach is to have
a high standard and, for the most part, she's met the challenge. she gets
me my shoes and socks in the morning. she understands the concept of thanking
a person and asking please. she understands cleaning up after herself.
she notices a surprising amount of things out in the world as well as in
books. she's a real wonderful kid and i'm happy that she's reaching the
point where it's a two way relationship.
business is a bit slower
right now, but i'm still booked like 3 weeks out. hopefully i get some
free time this winter to catch up on things around the house.
our health coverage isn't
very good and costs quite a bit every time we use it. i also get something
from kaiser at least every week. a bill, a notice, something else i don't
bother to read. annoying. guess i already mentioned that. well, it's still
things at the alumni house
continue their downward spiral. the boss fired two people on the top management
team and now there's an investigation from the campus about how he used
funds or something. in the last year 6 people have been laid off and at
least 3 other positions haven't been refilled after people quit because
they've had enough of the place. so, that's the salaries of at least 9
people in a place that has about 50 staff members on site (many others
at the lair of the bear). yet they are still losing money. they just cut
benefits and are now charging the employees more. they're also not matching
403b contributions anymore. oh, and no raises this year. it's all pretty
unfortunate and also very predictable. from day one i didn't like the guy
and talked about funds he took forever to repay. but when you get to a
certain level people tend to just look the other way. the only reason the
investigation is happening is because one (or both) of the disgruntled/fired
managers let the campus know that things weren't right. of course they
only did this after they were fired so it's just vengence, not morality,
at work here. it's actually kinda cool to see an organization be run so
poorly from the inside. usually i hear about these things after the fact
in documentaries, but to see it happen up close is different. seeing tower
records implode was somewhat similar, but that had a lot more going on.
macroeconomic things were happening in the marketplace, the franchise was
absolutely huge, and i wasn't nearly as close to the inside so it happened
at a greater distance. the fix is easy enough. a new board will be in place
next year. they should fire the executive director and hire an ex senior
manager who left and is currently unemployed (she took her family out of
the country for a year). she has the capacity and experience to run the
place and please the board. barring that, they should hire my ex-boss.
she has no experience at that level and would be lost in some ways, but
she'd solve the two biggest two problems (money and morale) pretty quickly
- she's as stingy as they come and literally everyone likes her. she's
basically the opposite of the two faced fancy pants loser who's running
the place now.
college football playoffs
are coming up soon and things are interesting. i really don't think fsu
is as good as their record, but they deserve to be in. alabama deserves
to be in. oregon deserves to be in. the 4th spot is up for debate to me.
tcu maybe. miss st. maybe. osu maybe. i hate to say it, but i'd probably
give it to miss st. they lost one game to alabama at alabama and were within
a td. most of their wins were legit wins instead of scraping by. at LSU
was close, but they won. at home against AR was within a td, but all their
other wins were convincing.
stanford is trash this
year and cal is improved.
while i was at the utah
game there was a guy with a sign that read "byu fan. i need a drink." at
that point they had lost like 4 in a row so i guess that was the point.
a few people passed him a flask as he walked up the stairs. it was funny
and unexpected in salt lake city.
i can't begin to tell you
how much paperwork i've gotten from kaiser since i joined covered california.
if anything important is in there... oh well.
went to utah a couple weekends
ago with my dad for our annual usc game. usc lost again (we've seen them
lose at stanford, asu, az, and now utah). we've see them win at cal and
colorado. it was a great game, though. probably the best of the bunch so
far. stanford was also a great game.
the people in utah are
really stereotypically nice people. we wore our usc stuff and one guy at
halftime asked me if the people were treating me well and i said yes. he
then asked if i wanted his bratwurst and i said thanks but no thanks. i
think he was completely sincere in his offer and it's maybe the nicest
a stranger has ever been to me. another guy put his hand on my shoulder
and asked if i was from california. i said yes and that we had just come
from LA. he said thanks for making the trip up. after the game a college-aged
guy was celebrating and giving high fives and yelling "go utah" and all
that. he was walking towards us and he saw us and said (quite sincerely)
"i'm sorry for your guys' loss."
salt lake city itself is
a nice place. i've been there three times now and it's always clean and
nice. not the most lively city, but there's more food and culture options
than you might expect. the red iguana has some great mexican food, for
it's funny because people
talk about "culture" and it's usually a microaggression (i'm going to co-opt
that phrase and use it against them here) against white people. a place
like SLC is said to not have any culture which really just means that it's
overly white and white people don't have culture. basically it's a very
narrow-minded, though perfectly acceptable, way of putting down white culture.
i'm not going to say that oklahoma city or salt lake city are great fun
places that i'd love to live, but this is different from saying that they
lack culture. it's just a culture that is high in religion and low in minorities.
there are probably fewer hip-hop shows in town (though biz markie and blackalicious
will be making separate appearances in the next month or so), but i did
see advertisements for punk and metal shows. there will also be plenty
of religious musical acts coming through town. the diversity of religious
musicians coming through town is probably higher in a place like SLC than
it is in most cities its size. but the people who say a place lacks culture
are usually the same people who don't like religion or religious music.
personally i can't stand christian music, but it's still representative
of some culture.
took a four day weekend
with the family these last few days. it was nice to relax for the first
time in a while. usually if i have half a day off or something i just spend
it getting ready for the rest of the week or organizing/cleaning up the
garage/truck. so, it's time off, but i still count it as work.
we redeemed our gift certificate
for a stay at sea ranch and spent time up there for about two days. zoe
loved the hot tub and beach and we ate out for all our meals so i loved
that. it was nice to get away and because of the free room rental it was
yesterday zoe was with
gramma so meryl and i watched a movie (our third since zoe was born, i
think) and went bowling at a new place in oakland.
today is our last day off
and we'll probably do a little prepping for the week, but hopefully something
fun as well.
the elections were a little
worse for the dems than i thought. the democrats really should just pack
it up and quit. they have some solid things to sell as accomplishments
and yet they still found a way to lose big. u6 is almost back to pre-recession
numbers, housing seems to have recovered, the dow is high (which is mostly
for rich people, but also the average guy's 401k), health insurance has
been extended to many, etc. there's also a downside to many of these good
things, but that's more subtle so they still should have sold themselves
on these accomplishments. the downsides: more people who have been affected
by obamacare are saying they have a negative view of it. housing and the
dow are mostly recovered for the well off. u6 is still too high.
the problem the dems have
is that they haven't been able to really make government work they way
they think it can. part of that blame goes to the republicans for gumming
up the works, but most of it lands on the dems and the government itself.
from really minor things like the ebola response and secret service failures
to bigger things like the obamacare rollout and the VA debacle. they continue
to prove that they can't get the things that are already in place to work
properly. so, the public thinks "if you can't drive the car you've had
for 6 years, then why would i give you a bigger, more powerful one?" and
it's a legitimate question.
so, the republicans taking
over all of congress is a repudiation of the democrats and their inability
to get anything done. but i also think there's the usual anti-incumbent
("throw the bums out") effect happening as well, and that probably accounts
for a seat here or there.rf
i don't slow down much
anymore. stopping to smell the roses is kind of gone these days. i don't
think i was ever great at it, but i definitely used to have more down time
than i do now. most of the time i'm trying to rush through whatever i'm
doing so i can get done with the next thing. i think that's a major downside
to doing what i do and being who i am. those things together almost necessitate
that i end up like this.
there was a radiolab episode
about a guy who would talk really slowly - like one sentence in a minute.
in his mind, though, he was talking normally. maybe that's how i am when
it comes to getting things done. it happens to me all the time where i'm
waiting in line at a store and the checker is moving, in my mind, extremely
slowly and i'm just tapping my feet. or i'm with a group and we all say
let's go out to eat and we settle on a place (slowly) and then just stand
around for five minutes thinking about walking out the door. to me, it
should be a quick conversation about who wants what type of food, a decision
should be made and then everyone starts walking out the door. this is never
the case. maybe it's just the autistic part of my brain that takes things
literally. like when someone says "let's go" five times before they actually
leave. i'm standing around thinking "i thought 'let's go' meant let's actually
walk out the door now."
zoe is pretty good
at following directions these days. i ask her to get my socks after i take
a shower and she gets a smile on her face and opens the drawer and gets
me socks. then she says "more" and i ask her to get me my shoes and she
(usually) goes and gets them. then she says "more." she loves being helpful.
this is part of what makes it so annoying when she doesn't listen to me
at all. i tell her not to throw the rocks onto the driveway and she does
it anyway. i tell her not to eat berries that have fallen from the neighbor's
tree and she does that every time she's out there. okay, so maybe instructions
to not do things aren't well-received so then i ask her to take the rocks
she's thrown on the driveway and put them back on the gravel walkway. she
does it once and i praise her and then she takes a handful of rocks from
the walkway and throws them onto the driveway. she's going to do what she
wants, i guess; she must be our kid.
more work than time.
been watching true detective
lately and liking it. almost done.
almost caught up with walking
dead which is too bad. they could have 10 shows of the walking dead and
i'd watch them all. love that kind of stuff.
neighbor's house was broken
into today. a few months ago the house behind us was broken into. probably
just a matter of time before we get hit. hopefully we're gone by then.
utah this weekend. lots
zoe's first day of daycare
was today. it was sad leaving her, but we pulled the band-aid off and left
her. she did well and having a bunch of bigger kids around will probably
be good for her. the extra time for meryl will mean she can get more stuff
done and that'll be good. two days a week and about $7k a year isn't too
bad. guess i'll have to work more!
achilles tendons have been
uh killing me lately (that one was for johnny). not sure if it is the new
boots or just general wear and tear.
been about an average amount
of busy lately.
i wish more people talked
about the fact that kaepernick doesn't have any touch on his throws. it's
fastballs or nothing. if he tries to float a pass it's inaccurate, but
he normally doesn't even try. to me, this is a major deficiency in his
slowly but surely making
progress on meryl's dad's new house. doing a bunch of lighting. mostly
replacing square recessed cans so far which has meant a lot of drywall
patching and then installing new cans. lots and lots of electrical which
is something i like doing.
i don't really see the
point in voting for lt. governor. it should be like vp and president. i
also don't know how much sense it makes to vote for treasurer or attorney
general. most people don't know much about what these people do and know
even less about the people running for these posts. let the governor choose
them with the consent of the legislature. basically it should be the same
as the cabinet for the federal level. the top executive gets to choose
it occurs to me that these
reforms along with my thoughts on the referendum system hold a common theme
- getting rid of some of the democratic power on the state level. i'm okay
with that. people are busy and dumb and shouldn't be bothered with some
of this stuff.
that said, i also think
there should be some sort of system of more immediate feedback for elected
officials. we have twitter and we can call our representatives, but when
it comes to voting (the only feedback that really matters) it's a
one time thing and we're supposed to weigh all the different things those
people have done during their term. with the short memories that people
have it basically means that we're voting on people based upon what they've
done in the last year or, in some cases, what scandal or major issue is
being talked about that month. i wish there was a better way of giving
that feedback between elections.
booked a month out at a
time right now. a big part of that is that i'm working one or two days
a week for meryl's parents who have a new house. i'm doing a bunch of electrical
and other things for that so it takes a chunk of my time. i'm also trying
not to work saturdays so that has been slowing me down. working a bit tomorrow,
though. next week going to utah with my dad to see usc play.
paternal grandma died two
weeks ago. went to funeral this monday in fresno. crazy aunt was there
so i didn't want to go but then i was a pallbearer so i kinda had to. it
was the right thing to do. it was a catholic funeral and burial so there
was a lot of talking and ritual. i think that's part of the reason my grandma
loved usc football so much. every school has its rituals, but usc's are
somewhat unique in their formality and precision. i think being a catholic
and a usc fan sort of went together in that way for her.
we didn't have lunch afterwards
with the rest of the family. dad, sarah, meryl and i went to nene's favorite
place instead and had lunch by ourselves. learned about myself a bit by
seeing my dad deal with this.
the ebola crisis is a bit
overblown. transmission rate even among people living together is fairly
low. untreated death rate in africa is about 50%, but much lower when you
get treatment and catch it early. overall i think this will kill a few
thousand people and then fizzle out. it's a dry run for an h1n1 type virus
that is much more deadly. h1n1 affected a lot more people and killed more
people, but at a lower rate. when we get something that is the worst of
both those worlds then we have to worry. all that said, the fact that we
have to rely on the federal government and people to slow or stop these
pandemics means i'm overall pessimistic about things.
i think the referendum
system in california needs to go. i held on to the belief that the people
have the right to hang themselves so you should give them the rope and
see what happens. freedom and direct democracy and all that, but the truth
is that we're just too dumb to deal with it and dumb laws get written poorly
and passed along by people in front of safeway who don't really know what
they're signing and then voted on by people who can't be bothered to understand
the consequences of these laws. if it's a simple yes or no like "should
gays be allowed to be married as opposite sex couples are?" then i think
there's room in the system for that. much more complex than that and it's
just a clusterfuck. let the legislators do what they're supposed to be
good at (writing laws) and then hold them accountable for their votes.
that's difficult enough as it is; no need to add legislate to the list
of things the general public needs to do.
zoe's such a cool kid.
it's great to see her develop.
paternal grandma died on
thursday. funeral is next monday. we've become very good at extending life
and not very good at making death graceful. we went down there a couple
weeks ago and my aunt screamed at us to leave because she didn't know that,
along with me and my dad, sarah, meryl and zoe would be coming. basically
it was an overly dramatic and idiotic scene. that was the last time any
of us saw my grandma so that's unfortunate, but really it's only one memory
that i have of her and not the most important. i mostly wanted zoe and
her to be together one last time and for her to know that we were thinking
of her, so mission accomplished in that way. as for my nutty aunt, that
and the funeral may be the last time i see her. oh well.
is kinda great.
big project this week for
meryl's dad/stepmom. doing a bunch of demo. two bathrooms, main living
space floor and three fireplace surrounds. did the first day by myself
to scout everything out. today we got two laborers and the first bathroom
is just about done. tomorrow i'll get four laborers and hopefully finish
the bathrooms and make headway on the other stuff. lots to do.
haven't had time to get
the truck transitioned into my fulltime vehicle yet. that's been kind of
a pain because stuff is split between the two. it'll be nice once the new
one is all set. will probably get the system one toolbox late next week.
one is a good ladder/lumber rack system. so far i just have the lumber
rack, but i'm also getting one of the toolboxes and some little accessories.
it should provide easy and secure access to my most commonly used stuff
while the drawer system that i build will be for the specialized tasks.
so, i have a couple boxes for electrical and plumbing. i have a cleaning
and patching box. a painting box. i'll carry my track saw with me from
now on. it'll also house things like my extension cords and level and less
commonly used tools, but tools that i like to have because they can save
me in unexpected circumstances - oscillating tool, grinder, right angle
played a couple hours of
ultimate frisbee the other day as part of luke's "manstorm," which is the
male answer to bridal shower. it was a fun time. the day before i had an
11 hour day putting in baseboards and then patching, caulking and painting
them. that's a difficult job because it requires a lot of crouching and
bending over and it was on the third floor so i had a couple of flights
of stairs to climb after making my cuts. the ultimate frisbee also made
me sore, but it proved to me that my job keeps me in better shape than
i thought. i'm not in very good aerobic condition, but i wasn't gasping
for air the whole time and the sunday didn't feel much worse than saturday
after i had done the trim work.
we took on a group of 18
year olds and beat them which was kinda cool. we're all in our early to
mid-30s and it was good to hear that i'm not the only one who doesn't feel
20 anymore. teaching the young kids a few things on the field was like
something out of a midlife crisis movie, only we're about 10 years away
from it being at all significant.
i don't know much about
the scotland vote to split, but i've heard that it's very close and looking
like they might actually split. this is all according to polls, though,
and when it comes to these things i think people talk a little bigger than
they actually vote. if i had to bet on it, i'd bet that the split won't
happen. a lot of uncertainty and, from the outside, it doesn't seem like
they stand to benefit all that much.
hillary is flirting with
the presidential run in iowa right now. it's kinda hilarious how they test
the waters and drum up support in iowa and new hampshire while playing
coy with the press. "i'm looking at the issue right now and can't say whether
i'll run or not....i can say that i'm worried about where the country is
going and hopeful that someone can lead us to the next level of greatness."
or some such nonsense. for anyone who pays attention it's quite obvious
what is going on in these situations, but they feel the need to not jump
into the race too soon for fear that they'll peak too early or something.
re: the ray rice thing.
okay, he's a piece of shit and that's obvious. i love how everyone piles
on these guys in these really obviously shitty situations as if they're
super progressive. donald sterling or ray rice or name your scandal and
the ensuing outrage. the problem with some of these situations is it's
not as cut and dried or black and white as the media and mainstream twits
will have you think. i've seen the video and i have common sense, her are
the facts as i see them: ray rice has probably done something violent (other
than football) in the past and his fiancee (now wife) probably knew about
it before she got in that elevator with him. at the time maybe she liked
the fact that he was a bad ass. maybe she didn't and she talked with him
about it (going out on a limb: this is less likely). either way it didn't
affect her choice to get engaged with him. she gets in the elevator with
him and they aren't happy with each other. she hits him. he hits her harder.
people call him a misogynist, call for him to be fired, etc. she marries
him. he gets fired.
if you just look at the
popular coverage and tweets on this issue it's obvious that he's 100% to
blame and that he hates women. the pendulum, in my opinion, has swung too
far here. when a woman hits a man is it because she hates men? does solange
hate men because she hit jay-z like 50 times in an elevator? the difference
is that she's not as strong as ray rice so she didn't knock jay-z out.
oh, and she's a woman. why isn't janay at least an itsy bitsy bit to blame
for this? she got with the guy, she hit the guy, she married the guy (after
she got knocked out by him). why hasn't anyone i've ever talked with about
this mentioned the fact that it looks like she hits him first?
i don't shed any tears
for him losing his job. good riddance. but i also think it's horse shit
how outraged the country is when this stuff happens and they never seem
to realize that sometimes two stupid people deserve (and choose) each other.
zimmerman stalks trayvon martin and martin doesn't calmly ask him if he
needs anything, instead he confronts him and they get in a fight and zimmerman
acts like a little bitch by shooting him. janay probably knows that ray
rice can be violent and decides to get engaged to the guy. then she hits
him thinking she can get away with that because women are allowed to hit
men (i wonder if hannah storm's daughter asked why solange wasn't in jail
after assaulting jay-z) and then she gets knocked out and then she marries
the guy (going out on a limb again: probably for the money). it's a fucked
up world and fucked up people are attracted to each other. sometimes they
get what they ask for.
while i'm talking about
horse shit. i think it's horse shit that almost every time we talk about
race and racism in this country we're really just talking about black people;
sometimes hispanics. but not native americans and certainly not asians.
it really annoys the hell out of me.
meryl dropped off some
lunch for us at work today and brought zoe. the guys were upstairs making
lots of noise and zoe didn't like it much so i took her downstairs and
held her in my arms. she rested her head on my shoulder while i rocked
her and then she hummed "thank you" and my heart melted just a little.
it's literally the sweetest thing ever. she's such a well-mannered kid
sometimes. she signs "please" and she hums "thank you" a lote. oftentimes
she does it unprovoked, too, which is awesome. if she gets a little rock
in her shoe or something and you take it out she'll hum "thank you" and
it's quite sweet. other times she'll point at something she wants and grunt
and then eat it or whatever; i guess she's still a kid.
is the most expensive stadium in the country. makes sense - expensive
area, expensive and new stadium. the amount of stuff they buy in that article
is kind of crazy - four hot dogs, four drinks, two programs, etc. no family
needs two beers and four soft drinks and two programs - learn to share
you weirdoes. anyway, the point is taken that a middle class family is
effectively priced out of going to a niners game. i don't see myself going
to a niners game any time soon. too far, too expensive, too harbaughy.
zoe is having a good time
exploring the backyard these days. she's been picking tomatoes and playing
with rocks and all that. there was a dead rat that i guess a neighborhood
cat left for us, but other than that the backyard is a fairly safe place.
i think it's awesome that at 15 months old she's very comfortable being
outside on her own and exploring new things. can't wait until she's older
and can learn about tools. wish we had gotten that elvessa house so she
could explore an entire acre of space along with much more space that made
up the easement. blah.
guy serves the worst stadium food i've had and he's a dog abuser? just
string him up already and do the world a service.
minor earthquake last night.
6.0 apparently, but didn't do much here. we woke up, but went right back
to sleep because it felt like maybe a 4.0.
bought a truck yesterday.
was pretty nervous about it because even though it was used, it was a lot
of money to spend. 2006 f-150 supercab, long bed. 35k miles on it for half
the cost of a new truck. hope to get 10 years out of it. right now my two
biggest frustrations with the business are scheduling and not having what
i need when i need it. a bigger truck should go a long way toward having
enough room to have 90% of the tools i could need on an average job. along
with plenty of room for materials and trash/recycling generated by the
job. it also has plenty of locking space up front for my compressor or
whatever tools may not fit into my drawer system which i'll have to design
and build. also plenty of room for the family. it's a pretty stripped down
truck - no power anything and the radio is only am/fm, but those things
are fixed pretty cheaply. i can install a new radio for under $150 and
can get power doors and an alarm for about $500.
going to try to learn to
worked at the alumni house
this last week. the plan is to be there once a month for a day to take
care of their maintenance. not as much as i was doing before of course,
but as much of the regular stuff that crops up as i can get done in a day.
get free parking too so that makes it worth the lower rate i get than i
would otherwise. plus, it's an easy day for me where i don't have to think
about anything before i get there. those are the best days - just show
up and do my thing. most of my jobs these days require more forethought
than that, though.
today we went to see the
first niners football game at their new stadium. zoe stayed with meryl's
dad. overall i have to say it wasn't worth $1.3 billion. it's a new place,
the paint looks good. the solar panels are cool and it's great that it
is structurally sound in eq country. all that said, the money is outrageous.
the parking situation is pathetic. the food sucks. what they charge for
everything is outlandish. and i don't even like the niners that much these
days so i can be more objective about the whole thing. i went to candlestick
once and honestly i don't remember the experience being any worse than
this. for two people with tickets and parking and food the cost is about
$240 according to one article i read. for that same experience in candlestick
the price would have been under $90. is it worth $1.3 billion to increase
the price by $150? maybe it is if you're getting closer to the rich kids
in silicon valley who are willing to pay $14 for a drink.
also, there are a couple
sections that are off-limits to regular ticket holders, which i find pretty
insulting. we actually snuck into one of these sections and found that
the food selections are better, there's conditioned indoor space, etc.
it's a pretty elitist setup. with regards to the parking, we didn't find
anything under $40 so we parked 2 miles away and walked. i've been to dozens
of stadiums and parks around the country and this is never a real problem.
they make it more difficult at this stadium than anywhere else i've been.
the whole thing felt like a giant elitist money grab which perfectly coincided
with the reemergence of the niners as an NFL powerhouse. well played rich
guys, well played.
recent pew polling suggests
that the younger generations are less democratic than in the past. many
of them are moving toward libertarianism. this makes sense because:
1) the federal government
since 9/11 has been essentially inept or evil. i have a crappy memory,
but this includes everything from multiple scandals to iraq/afghanistan
to the VA troubles to the failed roll out of obamacare and its multiple
lawsuits to immigration woes (no matter what side you're on) to failing
infrastructure to failed regulation of the financial sector and everything
in between. basically the country has done very poorly in federal government
for at least the last 13 years. beyond that i honestly can't think of any
major federal programs that have been major successes in the last 50 or
so years. civil rights laws and such have been good progress, but those
are laws, not government programs. i'm probably (hopefully) forgetting
something, but of all things that the federal government puts its weight,
authority and resources behind, the batting average over the last 50 years
has been extraordinarily low. maybe there are some major successes, but
i can't think of them. even the one thing that both parties agree on (anti-terrorism
and military spending) in the last 15 years has been a failure. the shoe
bomber, the times square plot, etc. were thwarted by individual citizens.
the boston bombing wasn't stopped. iraq is in total disarray. afghanistan
has had some success with empowering women and we killed bin laden. i'd
call that mixed results.
2) you tube and the internet
has shown humanity to be nakedly stupid. and, everyone (including me) thinks
they have enough common sense. ask someone if they think they have common
sense and i'd be shocked if you find more than a few people who don't think
they have it. everyone looks at people on the internet being idiots and
laughs at them and i think this and a feeling of superiority, coupled with
the utter failure of the federal government for this generation, leads
to an ideology that tends more towards social darwinism than we should
all look out for each other and the government should be the tool with
which we do that.
i used to have faith in
the federal government to get things done. it is uniquely poised to address
a host of issues that the states and individuals can't, or can't easily,
deal with effectively. that's less true now because the private sector
is becoming quite powerful. it's also less true now because while the government
can theoretically do things to solve problems, it just doesn't actually
still unhappy about the
house. was thinking yesterday that i should have just cashed in my IRA;
early tax penalties be damned. that would have been another 55k and even
though it would have been 30k short of the high offer, maybe it would have
been good enough. i think our letter and our story added some value and
since the trust was owned by two sisters, every extra dollar in the offer
only means 50 cents in each of their pockets. so, 30k short would be 15k
per person and maybe the sentimentality of having a family in there instead
of an investor would have made that difference.
pretty annoying that the
high offer was 85k over the second highest offer. it really feels unfair
when i think about that. wtf were those people thinking by offering so
the real estate market
around here is bonkers right now.
did a bathroom facelift
for a neighbor this week. new beadboard, baseboard, chair rail, vanity.
drywall over one wall and plaster repair on a couple others. moved the
toilet supply line and added a vent fan, light and outlet. she's going
to paint and then i'll come back to finish it up with a towel rod and mount
a couple cabinets. bigger job than i would normally take on, but it was
for a neighbor so i could come home and pick up stuff i forgot. that helps
a good deal because you don't have to set up a temporary work station to
do cutting and i don't have to think ahead quite as much. also allows me
to empty the truck for taking stuff to the dump, but still have plenty
of tools on hand.
didn't get the house. totally
depressed. it was our dream house in basically every way, but we didn't
have enough money apparently. offered 50 over asking and it wasn't enough.
kinda pathetic that i'm so depressed about it, but then again whose dream
house has at least four (mold, fungus, asbestos, lead) different kinds
of environmental disasters in it? i really wanted to see zoe running around
in that big backyard, exploring the property and the adjoining trails and
open spaces. she would be able to walk to school from there. we would have
had so much space and all it needed was the type of work that we love doing.
can't always get what you want.
cashing in most of our
life savings to make an offer on this
place in the next two days. front bedroom has a collapsed floor (literally
and completely). about 400 sq. feet of major fungal damage in the crawl
space, surface mold on the west side of the building, asbestos pipe insulation
and hvac ducting, extremely badly peeling lead paint on the exterior. in
other words, it's perfect. literally the only way we'll be able to stay
in the east bay (meryl's wish) and have more than a small amount of land
(my wish) is to get something that's really badly damaged goods like this.
feeling very nervous because all we'll have left money-wise is our IRA
and keeping a new business going while working on a house with this much
work that needs to be done, and a one year old, and life in general...it'll
be tough. the really good news is that it has an in-law unit out back that
we could fix and rent out for a little extra money to help us make our
all the most scary stuff
(to most) is also thankfully relatively cheap to fix. fungus, asbestos,
lead...it just takes the proper safety precautions, time, and a willingness
to be hot and cramped while dealing with it. i've been under homes for
a week at a time before. i've been hot and cramped and sweaty with a respirator
on. i don't love it, but it doesn't scare me. elbow grease is free. same
goes for restructuring the floor. lumber is relatively cheap and building
a floor usually isn't much of a challenge. when the labor is free the calculus
is much different. also, we're looking at this house on a 50 year horizon
(we want to live there forever), whereas most investors (probably our main
competition) are looking at getting in and out as quickly as possible.
was thinking pretty
hard about a new truck. was liking eating out whenever i felt like it.
if this house happens then both those things are on hold for a long while.
but i definitely want this house more than any other thing i've ever wanted
took a look at some projects
at andre iguodala's house today. i'm scheduled for working there on monday
which would be my first bona fide famous client. kinda cool.
i never talked about donald
sterling. probably a good reason for that. he's just another idiot who
happened to get caught saying dumb shit. popular culture pounced on him
for a week and then boko haram or something more interesting came along.
i think a big impediment
to my happiness is my unrealistic expectations. someone says they'll do
something and i actually expect it to happen. i expect people to be aware
of their surroundings or show up on time. i expect people to act semi-rationally.
all these things are just disappointment waiting to happen. i wish i could
be more of a stoic in this regard. stoics believe that you should just
always expect the worst and so when things turn out okay or good then it's
a nice surprise. unfortunately i've never been able to turn that part of
my brain off, though i've definitely tried.
one thing about working
for yourself that i like is that hard work is rewarded and rewarded more
immediately. my last boss was great and always thanked me when i did a
good job. she was a great boss when it came to being positive and flexible,
but most bosses aren't that good. when you do a good job it's just expected
and there's very little positive feedback. that said, positive feedback
is just talk. even a great boss like mine wasn't able to give me the raises
that she would have liked. if you work in a great company that is doing
well then you probably have a good boss who tells you that you're appreciated
and then shows it with raises, bonuses, increased schedule flexibility,
etc. when you work hard for yourself you can see the benefit pretty quickly.
the harder you work (assuming you're in a decent line of work, the economy
is decent, and you're running a good business) the more you make. when
i was on a salary it was very easy to get into a situation where i just
did enough to keep the bosses happy and get my paycheck (which never changed
by much). i did some things to save the company a lot of money? i got the
same paycheck. i effed up and cost the company money? same paycheck. it's
actually a very bizarre situation when you think about it that way.
sometimes people will talk
about time and money as the same thing - "time is money." they reason that
if they spend 2 hours on the phone with the credit card company to get
a $40 charge turned around it's a waste of their time because they make
$45/hour so they theoretically just wasted $50 (2 hours working could have
earned them $90, instead they got $40 = $50 difference). this line of reasoning
always assumes that you have unlimited earning potential, which very few
people actually have. most people can work up to 40 hours a week while
at work and after that they need to get their overtime approved. or, they're
on salary and so every hour they work earns them less money per hour (another
bizarre situation when you think about it). but, if you work for yourself,
it's actually more possible to make money the longer you choose to work.
for example, i could market myself as more of a cabinet builder and could
work from home all night while doing service calls all day and could earn
even more money. this assumes a steady stream of customers, but that's
less of a leap than the average worker who is salaried, or working hourly
with a cap on the number of hours they can work, somehow making more money
by working more.
of course the opposite
is true as well. the nice thing about a salary is that you're guaranteed
$40k/year or whatever. sure. however, the company is also guaranteed about
2000 hours of work from you a year. so, you're paycheck never changes much,
but neither does your workload. if i feel like i have enough money then
i can work less and just tell people that i'm booked for the next month
and they can get in line if they want.
all this is to say that
it's kinda cool to be closer to a situation where i can work more and make
more or relax more and make less; whatever i choose.
hillary is such the consummate
politician. everything i've heard so far about the book is that it's totally
sanitized tripe. this makes sense of course since she's a politician through
and through. there's not much that's worse than a politician like that.
power hungry and spineless. all that said, i stand by what i said in 2008
- i'd rather see her in the white house than obama. she has more of a stomach
for it, she had more experience, she could have hit the ground running
whereas obama's first year was marred by missteps and cluelessness.
at this point i think i've
given up on anyone ever reach the white house who is worth two shits. the
system we have precludes the kind of leader any reasonable person would
actually want in the office. it's like having a beauty contest to determine
the chair of nobel prize committee. what are the attributes that are required
to become president? ability to raise lots of money. look decent. good
talker. media savvy. not ruffle feathers. off the top of my head those
are five of the biggest under our current system. none of those are in
the top ten when it comes to being a decent president. good talker might
be in the top 15. it's a total farce.
gaza is up to its usual
tricks. not sure why anyone pays attention to this nonsense anymore. and
don't give me some crap about saving human lives. many more human lives
are lost thanks to preventable illnesses than these shitty little wars
they have every 10 years. leave them be and let them figure it out. i couldn't
care less. and that's coming from someone who, according to their own bizarre
laws, is jewish. it's just another damn distraction from the real business
of running a country. how many millions of man hours have been wasted by
american presidents and policy wonks because of this nonsense for the last
60 years? has their been a president in that time who hasn't had to spend
time trying to smooth things over between them? all of the varied efforts
of carter and clinton and bush and obama and everyone else have led to
this moment where they're fighting again. what if all those man hours spent
thinking about the issue and studying it and trying to broker peace and
writing about it were spent on trying to get the VA modernized or on finding
a sprinter in america who can beat usain bolt?
zoe did a lot of walking
today. some of meryl's family was here and she got that look on her face
and we cheered her on so she took several steps into my arms. then she
crawled back to where she had started before and walked to me again. we
all cheered and she repeated it several times. each time taking several
steps and mostly doing a good job of not falling. it was awesome. it's
the simple pleasures sometimes.
this has been a good month
for us money-wise. last month we weren't getting paid very quickly so we
took out less than our settled upon salary. people don't like talking about
money for some reason, but i'll do it anyway. the salary we want to take
out each month is $4500. i get 2/3 and meryl gets 1/3 and then we split
that 50/50 to pay for common expenses. i do all the handyman work and all
the invoicing for those accounts, but she does some property management
for her brother through the company and handles some of the bookkeeping
so that's the split. this would leave me with $36k/year which is enough
to live fairly well, but it's also about 10% less than i was making in
salary at the alumni house (and i was only working 4 days a week there,
never more than an 8 hour day). the idea is that this $36k/year is enough,
but we should make more and it'll stay in the bank in case we need a new
truck for the business or some fancy tools or customers take too long to
pay us, etc. so, the bank account shouldn't go below $10k. if we have $13k
at the end of the month then we take out $3k and split it instead of the
agreed upon salary of $4.5k/month. that's what happened last month. this
month we'll have more than $14.5k, though, but instead of taking out the
difference between the bank balance and the $10k cushion, we take out the
max salary of $4.5k. after a while hopefully that cushion grows more and
more and we can put it in savings to buy some land or upgrade the truck
when that time comes or whatever. maybe we'll take a vacation some day.
speaking of the truck,
it had a misfire problem the other day so i took it into the shop. missed
my job that day which sucked. $700 later it was ready to go and i only
missed one appointment. meryl had to drive me around a bit and i had to
work with the tools i had on hand so it was a pain, but not awful. while
going to my appointment the next day it started doing it again but i drove
it anyway and got my work done. took it back that day and they found another
problem and fixed it for no charge. either they felt bad that they missed
that additional issue or the issue the whole time was the second thing
they fixed. either way it's working now. got a new coil pack, intake manifold
gasket and some other electrical part. cost of doing business i guess.
the other money thing i've
been dealing with is what to charge people. if someone calls me out of
the blue i charge $75 for the first hour and $55/hr after that. this seems
right about even with the market price for a decent handyman in this area,
though i don't think most of them have a first hour charge that is higher.
i toyed with the idea of a 2 hour minimum, but that usually wasn't as well
received and then it gets me into a situation where someone just wants
their outlet fixed, i fix it in 20 minutes and then they feel compelled
to find another 1.5 hours of work for me to do to get their money's worth.
that usually ends up being more trouble than its worth. friends (i have
about 6 of them) and family get $40/hr. people on the street get charged
$45/hr. they're neighbors so that counts for something, but even better
than that is that the commute is so easy. if i forget something it's no
problem for me to walk home and get it. jobs for neighbors are easier so
i pass that convenience onto them in the form of a discount. after that
there are people who are in the middle like ex co-workers who i'm not quite
sure what to charge. they're not friends or family, but i'm friendly with
them so maybe i should waive the first hour charge? that's what i'm leaning
towards now. money makes people weird.
i had a lawyer client who
asked what i charged and when i told her she said something like she was
in the wrong profession. she's a single mom living in a house that's 50%
more than mine and she drives a lexus so i'm not quite certain what she
was talking about. i've only gotten that reaction once and i just told
her that i'm not billing anywhere near 40 hours a week and i talked with
her about overhead and she understood, but i guess she still felt like
i charged a lot. but then she had me fix and paint her front gate and front
door so i guess i didn't charge too much.
i haven't had any really
difficult clients yet either. some people are very picky about every little
thing. some people want to tell you how to do your job. other people just
want a problem solved and nothing more. i tend to like jobs where aesthetics
are as much of a consideration. i like jobs where the customer just wants
something to work safely and properly. getting things to work is easier
for me than getting things to look really nice. maybe that's one reason
i like electrical work. usually it's quite easy to make electrical look
good because it's not my job to design and paint the light. it's relatively
easy to make an outlet upright instead of crooked. but once you get into
making perfectly tight miters on a piece of crown molding or something
like that...less easy and more room for interpretation. what looks nice
to one person is awful to another. there's no room for interpretation when
it comes to an outlet working or not.
i'm actually one of those
customers who wants to guide people when they do work for me. i don't hover
and tell them how to do things, but i want to know that they're using the
right materials or that they have a good reason for not using what i think
are the right materials. i used to have the attitude of letting the professionals
do what they do every day. the problem with that is that most people are
kinda dumb and don't do a very good job - from lawyers and politicians
down to fast food workers and handymen. i've seen lots of pros do shoddy
work for me in the past so i no longer have the attitude that they know
what they're doing and i should just trust them.
one good example was the
bathroom tile job at the alumni house. when we met with them there were
two tile guys - one boss and one installer - one general contractor who
was overseeing the whole renovation and a campus capital projects supervisor
who was also overseeing the whole project. then there's the customer -
me and my boss. we saw the samples and talked about timeline, but they
never talked with us about the possibility of using epoxy or urethane grout.
we talked with them about using white grout, but the 80 or so years of
experience from those four guys didn't benefit us one bit because none
of them mentioned the fact that cementitious grout stains quite quickly
whereas epoxy or urethane grouts don't. i talked with the installer about
the need to seal the floor (i didn't know of other grout options at the
time) and he said there was no need. so, the grout looked nice and clean
for about a week and now it's basically black. four people in charge of
making this job happen, only one of them was ever going to actually touch
the tile and none of them said anything about a very basic issue with the
material they had chosen or the color we picked out.
zoe has been doing a lot
of walking around with our help lately. it's affected her sleep a bit and
she's not confident enough to walk on her own much, but that should come
another reason why our
trip to SF was a failure. meryl parked my truck around the corner from
where we were working and when i went to pick it up i saw this:
i wish i had taken a picture
of how the truck was parked. it was as close to the adjacent driveway as
you can get without being in it in an obnoxious way. in other words, it
was taking up as little space as possible. yes, it's a truck. a relatively
compact truck by today's standards. yet i get this faux ticket for taking
up too much space and possibly driving an ego machine. sorry if people
like to have running water and electricity and things that work well and
look nice in their homes. sorry if the maintenance of such a lifestyle
requires a lot of tools and a lot of space to store and haul those tools
and materials. this kind of thing is so stereotypically SF that i'm not
sure i could write a better parody of it. it reminds me of this
mr. money mustache post which is exactly the type of post i would have
written if i were trying to make fun of him. i guess i'm just not committed
enough for some people. i suppose i should have brought my tools on my
bike. i should have biked across the bay bridge (even though the bike lane
isn't complete yet) while towing my tools in an obnoxiously large trailer
behind me. it's only a 20 mile bike ride each way and the hills probably
wouldn't slow me down at all. there's no place to park a bike with a large
trailer so i could have just blocked the sidewalk and i suppose this person
would have been happier. sure, it would have taken me 6 hours just in travel
and set up time and so i'd have to charge $250/hr for 2 hours of work to
put up cameras to catch a thieving piece of shit that the SFPD didn't feel
like arresting for trespassing or threatening my father in law with violence,
but, hey, i'd be doing the earth a solid and this guy would have been happy.
nevermind the fact that my ford
ranger is 187.5" long and a 2013
subaru legacy is 189" long. it's a truck so it has to be an ego machine,
right? your hipster subaru is 1.5" longer than my gas guzzling truck so
i'm the asshole.
people like that need a
swift kick in the nuts.
been a rough week. meryl
had a mini meltdown when her dad's key didn't work at her brother's property
in sf so i canceled my morning appointment and went out there with her
to take care of that. turns out her key didn't work either because the
of the unit had the lock changed. then he returned and the cops showed
up so we thought it best to secure the condo so i canceled my afternoon
appointment to setup 3 cameras and barricade the back door with a couple
2x4s. as we were finishing up with that the guy showed up with two henchmen.
luckily i had googled his name earlier so i knew what he looks like. i
stayed in the building as his guys came up and tried to get into the unit.
meryl's dad called the cops and within minutes there were 6 cops there.
he claimed that a judge had just ruled in his favor and that the unit was
his, but had no paperwork to back up this claim. the cops seemed to believe
us, but, in true SF fashion, allowed him to stay on the premises without
any kind of documentation (meryl's dad had an electronic copy of the deed
on his phone, meanwhile). i leave the details there, but suffice it to
say that in pretty much any reasonable jurisdiction (i.e., not SF, berkeley
or maybe a few other crazy places) this guy would have been in handcuffs
within minutes of the cops arriving and vince showing them the deed. instead,
they told all of us to stay away from the property until someone could
get a court order and eviction notice to settle the matter. it's truly
amazing how much a person can fuck with you if they have money and don't
care about being reasonable.
my solution would be to
get the court order and go through that process and then have 2-3 guard
dogs on the property and leave the door unlocked. the problem solves itself
at that point. this, i guess, is where i'm very much on the conservative
end of the spectrum. i believe strongly in social darwinism in a case like
this. the stereotypical conservative would say he can trespass at his own
peril and i can stand my ground with a 12 gauge shotgun. the stereotypical
liberal would say that he's a mentally ill person who needs help and we
should go through the proper channels and maybe even just let him live
there because he needs the condo more than i do.
while on the way back from
dealing with the cops and all that b.s. we were in horrible SF traffic
on the way back home. why anyone likes or wants to live in that fucking
city is beyond me. it's a hell hole by nearly every measure. anyway, we
were literally rolling at a snail's pace and the truck started to overheat.
turns out i was low on coolant. i've never noticed a leak and i know i
filled it up a few months ago so that's troubling. i topped it off with
the drinking water i keep with me and kept going.
today i went to my morning
appointment and the customer didn't answer the door.
then i was on my way to
my afternoon appointment and the check engine light flashed on and off
which means an engine misfire. it was running pretty rough, too. so i canceled
that appointment and drove slowly to a nearby mechanic (thank you yelp).
it was running fine at this point, but after the tests it looks like the
coil pack needs replacing and the coolant leak was coming from the intake
manifold gasket. probably $600 which isn't a huge deal, but it comes as
four appointments were missed in a week for various reasons so that sorta
hurts. on the other hand, we're owed like $10k in old invoices so it's
not like i'm going to the poor house.
being on my own has been
a mixed blessing so far. most of my days are 10-12 hours of work or work
related activities. so, i'm working a lot more and stressed out a lot more.
i'm also making more money than i've ever made, but that figure is artificially
high because of a couple lucky big jobs from meryl's brother and a neighbor.
we also finally closed out a large project that we were managing so that
was a big payday for us.
went to the dj shadow
concert yesterday with jon. shadow, blackalicious, jurassic 5, lateef the
truth speaker, lyrics born, cut chemist, dilated peoples, supernatural,
and souls of mischief were all there. good lineup. overall i have to say
that hip-hop doesn't translate to live shows that well for me. the lyrics
are never as clear to me and this show in particular had a bad board operator
so things were out of balance and muddy. maybe it was my mood, but the
excessive pot smoke and repetitive shout outs to the bay area got old as
well. missed dilated people and supernatural. i've seen dilate peoples
before, but not supernatural who i think won a freestyle contest or two
in his heyday. blackalicious made blazing arrow which is one of my favorite
albums of all-time, but i've seen them three times live and never been
super thrilled by the show they put on. for some reason jurassic 5 were
the headliners for the show, but that's crap. they're good, but they're
not as good as dj shadow. overall the djs (shadow, cut chemist, nu-mark)
stole the show.
one thing everyone says
about being a parent is that you should savor every moment because time
flies. 1. i feel like i do. i always think about how precious zoe is now
and what she'll be like when she grows up and i won't be able to kiss her
whenever i want or how i'll be really uncool to her or whatever. 2. i don't
feel like time flies. i guess people experience time differently, but for
me the last year hasn't flown by at all. it feels like a really long time
ago when meryl was pregnant. i also remember valuing every late morning
we spent in bed with zoe as she was a newborn. i remember less fondly the
nights when she was up until 4am and we had no idea what to do. i feel
like i do a good job of savoring it all. of course i wish i had more time
and money so i could do whatever i wanted whenever i wanted, but that's
not real life for most people so you savor the moments when you can.
kids books about construction
are often woefully inaccurate. for example we have a book about trucks
and it talks about the cement truck mixing the cement. it should be a concrete
truck mixing concrete. cement is an ingredient in concrete, though the
two are used interchangeably. there's another book that shows a house being
built and it's well meaning and all, but they show some highly inaccurate
wall framing which aggravates me to the point where i have to tell zoe
that you can't in fact frame a header without a jack stud, or approved
hardware in lieu of a jack stud.
achy this morning. feel
good about working hard, though.
i have this habit of writing
with a lot of "buts" in my sentences. i'll say something in one direction
and then hedge it in the other. i've used the word "but" 16 times on this
page so far. i have to guess that that's above average. "however," "though,"
and other associated phrases and words are also favorites of mine. i don't
think i speak like this, but i definitely write like this. what does this
say about me? it seems to imply that i see different sides of the same
issue. i'm often split on a topic. when writing reviews i hardly ever give
unqualified praise or criticism. i'll say that the acting stinks, but that
so and so was at least good in it. i even found myself doing this when
talking to my old boss about zoe. "i'll love her forever and unconditionally,
but not if she becomes a nazi and wants to kill all the jews or something."
even as something as clear as my love for my daughter comes with a qualification
- an unlikely one, but one nonetheless.
long day in a cramped crawl
space today. had a helper (old boss' middle son) and, once he showed up
(he slept in), we got a lot done. working on an earthquake retrofit for
a neighbor. now that i've done it on my house and worked out the kinks,
i think this job will be fairly profitable. not an easy job and not an
easy job to sell. i didn't sell this one per se, but i did point out to
them about a year ago that the eq retrofit that was done before was pretty
much a joke and wasn't sure if they had paid someone to do it or what.
they didn't, but then they decided to get it done right. having help on
something like this certainly makes the job less painful.
inhaled a lot of dirt while
i was down there, but i can't stand to wear dust masks under the house.
it's just one thing too many.
looking forward to the
us/portugal match tomorrow. i don't foresee the u.s. winning, but i'm hopeful.
i'm so tired of iraq and
the middle east. we've fucked things up. they can't seem to get their shit
together with or without our "help." we should move to other sources of
fuel and be done with it. i don't like fracking. i don't like nuclear power.
but those are both preferable to our being entangled in the b.s. that goes
on over there. if anyone bombs israel we can help, but short of that we
shouldn't be doing anything over there anymore. bush failed. obama failed.
only biden was on the right track with his idea of splitting the country
in three parts, but even that would have required our intervention which
is too much in my book.
zoe was playing with toilet
water yesterday. she was quiet for a while so i knew something was up.
she also got into a bedside drawer; literally - she crawled inside and
was stuck there. she's our little adventurer.
sold my festool vacuum
today. decided to get the smaller one now that it is HEPA certified. the
guy i sold it to is in charge of making a bunch of parade floats in sf.
they were working on the gay pride floats now and he showed us around.
have three pretty big jobs
lined up for the next couple of months. bigger jobs mean more stress because
more can go wrong, but they're better for me in the long run. small jobs
are nice because i can knock them out quickly and there's usually not much
that goes wrong, but a small job can lose money quickly. if i'm working
on getting a door to stopping opening on its own and i break the hinge
then i just bought a new hinge for someone on something that was only going
to make me $10 anyway. if i'm putting in 20' of trim i'm only making a
small amount of money, but if i hit a copper water line in the process
then i could lose thousands. my insurance is supposed to cover that kind
of thing, but do i want them to drop me or raise my rates? should i just
cover the cost of that? so, small jobs mean low upside and potentially
big downside. big jobs mean high upside and potentially big downside.
one concern i have right
now, though it gets smaller with every new customer i get, is how much
i rely on yelp for leads. i haven't put together the numbers, but a decent
amount of our business comes from leads where people find us through yelp.
we only have 6 reviews, but they're all 5 stars so that helps us a lot.
one bad review there could put us onto the 4th or 10th page of search results
depending upon what someone searches for. i could pay for a leads service.
i could pound the pavement and do marketing that way. of course i'd prefer
to just let yelp do that for me and continue to get the trickle of leads
got married the other day.
it was already official, but this time was different since it was in front
of most of the people who matter to us. i don't really like parties and
i'm like my grandpa in that i don't like my space to be upended, but it
was overall a good day. way too much food and too many presents, but those
things sort of mirror how i feel about having a family that i think works
pretty well. too much good stuff. i've thought a lot more these days about
death and how all of this is going to end some day. it makes me much more
sad than it did a few years ago. i was happy a few years ago. this is different.
a lot more spare time
on my hands these days. i can come home between jobs and i'm finally able
to fit customers into my schedule in a timely manner. burning through gas
like crazy though. i did anticipate that. we'll see how close to budget
that is after this first month.
yesterday was my last official
day of work at the alumni house which means today was my first day self-employed.
i had two jobs lined up so i didn't think about it much. the next couple
weeks will be interesting mentally, though.
replaced 3 lights and a
ceiling fan today. along with some light plumbing and demo work. easy day,
two customers, decent money.
bad news was that last
night my tooth hurt pretty bad after having a filling last week. woke up
in the middle of the night and it hurt again. called dentist and they said
it usually means root canal when you wake up from the pain. no more dental
insurance means this could be a problem. we'll see.
the next year or so should
good riddance to shinseki.
the popular response that i've heard so far is that he's just a scapegoat
and he's actually a good guy or whatever. gimme a fucking break. the VA
is a joke, everyone knows it, he didn't fix it. time for accountability.
david brooks called it a bloodletting. boo-hoo. it's very simple when you
break it down - the VA sucks. shinseki was in charge since 2009. he didn't
fix it. time to go. next.
in my exit interview at
the alumni house i was asked a series of questions and a couple of them
were about what i thought could be done to make CAA better. i told the
HR woman my honest opinion which included describing the executive director
as "inept" and "clueless" which she wrote down on the sheet and i signed.
basically, i didn't pull any punches, though i did forget to add some things.
for example, before he was in charge of the organization there were a few
people there who would almost die for CAA and loved working there. as of
this date, those people are either gone, totally jaded, or looking for
a new job. no amount of slick talk or explanation makes that kind of stuff
disappear. time for some more accountability, imo.
i haven't been a businessman
for very long and i've been wholly self-employed for only a day now, but
i can see very clearly why small business people vote for republicans more
than democrats. 1. they want the government to get out of the way and make
running a business easier. republicans generally agree with this stance,
while dems don't. 2. they think about money more. this one is the revelation
to me. everyone thinks about money, but i don't think they think about
it in the same way that a business person does. the way i thought about
money before was in terms of budgeting and what i was going to do every
two weeks with my paycheck. i knew with pretty good accuracy what i was
going to get on any given paycheck. the way i think about money now is
harder to describe. it's like a farmer who needs it to rain a certain amount
during a season or can't have it frost before a certain date. i can do
my best to capture the rain when it happens and store it for later. i can
cover my crops to keep them a few degrees warmer in the winter. but some
of this stuff is just out of my hands. i can't make people buy what i'm
selling. i think about money now in terms of how much can i make a day,
week, month to make ends meet and make all this worth it. i'm doing math
in my head all the time to see if i'm making my goals. to see if a job
is profitable. to see if buying a tool makes sense. all this thinking about
money changes how you think about the world and can change your priorities.
eventually i could see it evolving to the point where you evaluate the
worth of all sorts of things on economic terms. once you do that you're
more likely to be republican than democrat. at least that's my theory.
so, my goal is to be constantly
aware of money and where my next meal will come from because that's a big
part of my job now, while also keeping in mind that not everything should
be evaluated on economic terms. gotta thread that needle.
another needle to thread
is to let zoe know that i always love her, but to make sure that she also
gets plenty of toughness from me. we're not going to be best friends. i'm
i guess that's life. threading
kings going to game seven.
i'll have to catch that one.
looking like it'll be heat/spurs.
blah. i'll root for heat because i don't like the spurs for some reason.
on paper maybe i should like the spurs (or at least not hate them). they
play good defense. they don't have any bad citizens on the team that i
know of. tony parker kind of ruins the whole team for me, though. he's
a little bitch in so many ways. duncan is kinda bitchy too. only the fakers
are worse in my book.
hard to believe that i've
been loving the black keys for 11 years. doesn't feel like it's been that
long. they've been consistently very good since
i discovered thickfreakness and one of the few groups whose albums
i still seek out. i basically don't buy music anymore other than a few
of my favorites who are still making albums and the black keys are basically
at the top of that list right now. i still buy autechre's stuff, but nothing
is as good as incunabula.
worked in stephen curry's
old penthouse condo last week. the new owners moved here from boston and
one is a lawyer for kaiser. worked for a couple high level transplants
working at kaiser. guess the health care industry is doing very well. no
big surprise since the government gave them tens of millions of more guaranteed
customers. place had a great view of the bay. $1.5 million for a condo,
plus HOA fees. jeesh
worked for the inspiration
behind this cars 2 character
today as well.
a couple weeks ago i worked
for a guy who had a really nice ferrari. that's the most expensive house
i've worked in so far as i know - $2.5 million.
these sorts of things are
another cool aspect of my job. meeting people from different walks of life,
seeing what kinds of people are doing well, etc. for example, i've noticed
a couple people in the healthcare industry, but i've also noticed several
people moving from SF to the east bay because stuff over there is so costly.
it gives me a unique point of view on the economy especially.
i was talking to someone
at CAA about the boss man and she seemed to think that he was a good guy
he was just a bit misguided and being pushed in the wrong direction by
his closest advisor. i call b.s. on that, though. in november when they
fired 4 people he went in front of us and lied to our faces - saying that
everyone was dealt with with professionalism and respect. joe wilson would
have gotten up at this point and to yell "you lie," but he wasn't around.
he's like a lot of people you'll come across in life. he tells you what
you want to hear and then forgets you exist as soon as he turns his head.
i told this co-worker of mine that his actions speak so loudly i couldn't
hear what he said any more. i wish more people would do this in life. don't
listen to a person. talk is just that. look at what a person does because
that's all that really matters.
there have been two bits
of revisionist history i've seen lately. one from timothy geithner and
the other from henry paulson. geithner wrote a book about his response
to the economic collapse and paulson was in a documentary about his response
to the same crisis. i didn't read the book, but i saw the unedited 45
minute discussion he had with jon stewart and i saw the hank paulson
documentary. part of me is lulled into believing these guys and that they
did all this with the best intentions and for the american people. that
they didn't want to help the bankers who were so cavalier with risk and
leverage. but if you turn off the volume and you just look at what they
actually did, i think i have to call b.s. on them, too. i know it's a difficult
situation. i know congress was reticent to do much. i know the crisis could
have been worse had they not acted, but there's a little
man inside me who is just telling me that something isn't right. they
want us to believe that they didn't think about all their buddies on wall
street, but i just can't buy it. sorry, guys. i think you're liars, too.
not incidently, timothy
geithner is one of the brightest guys i've ever seen in action. a lot of
times you see so-called geniuses and they don't really come off as all
that bright. but in his debate with stewart, geithner came off as a really
quick witted and smart guy. perhaps it was the fact that he was pushed
to that level by such a great debater and interviewer in stewart. i hope
that stewart follows in the footsteps of colbert and has a second life
outside of comedy central and i hope that second life is as a serious long-form
interviewer ala charlie rose. charlie rose is a dingbat relative to stewart.
one of my usual podcasts
on rotation is the philosophize this podcast. the guy who does it seems
to really know his stuff and is passionate about all the different philosophers
he talks about. recommended. then i read his
story and it made me kinda sad. good podcast, good person.
today. cost us a little bit, but i think a lot of people get confused about
the spelling of meryl and miller so this makes it easier, if nothing else.
got a filling today. tooth
hurts. my dentist is a fucking sadistic butcher, but he discovered my skin
cancer before anyone else so i feel like that counts for something.
life is pretty much the
same as always.
only three more days left
at the alumni house. haven't really started to get sad about it yet. i'll
definitely miss the two people in my department and maybe a couple others.
i'll also miss the food options and being a regular at a couple of those
places. i'll miss the routine and simplicity of it all. that's maybe the
biggest thing about going out on your own in this business - there's very
little routine. jobs come when they come and i have to work. if jobs don't
come then i start to worry. along with the contractor forum i frequent,
the many magazines and books i read, there's a
ny times blog from a furniture builder which has helped me learn about
the business side of this stuff. i've read all of the articles he's posted
as of a few months ago (i read them in spurts). great content for someone
like me who is interested in going into business.
building a little fence
tomorrow. should be a simple job since it's a replacement and i can use
some of the existing posts. in the future i think fencing jobs could be
a nice little money maker for me. no permit required under 6', straightforward,
very little risk, and i have a good level of experience. decks are similar,
but more difficult. sometimes you're attaching to a house, they're required
to be permitted, it's a load bearing structure so there's safety to keep
in mind, etc.
for the most part, though,
i think our bread and butter will be the little dinky honey-do list jobs.
doors that open on their own or don't close properly, recaulking bathtubs,
drywall patches. simple stuff that i can do in my sleep by now.
got a lead on doing some
work for the oakland ymca. a bit outside of my comfort zone because it
involves a fair amount of plumbing, but if i can get a plumber to do that
part, then the carpentry and finishing is something i can handle and it
could lead to more stuff down the line. it's another lead from a guy who
is an appliance repair person and has been kicking a lot of business my
way. good guy who sees 5-10 people a day because of his type of work and
recommends me a lot. different model from mine which is 1-3 customers with
anywhere from 2 hours to 2 days worth of work.
zoe is almost one year
old. she definitely has strong opinions nowadays. she's also not too pleased
with life when she doesn't get what she wants. she's also frustrated that
our grunt deciphering abilities are severely lacking.
this one. been thinking about this lately because of zoe. here's how
my ranking went for the values listed. this wasn't thought out too much
and i feel like the middle ones could kinda be a tie, but the top and the
bottom are pretty set.
i've thought about this
list differently before. would i rather zoe be smart or kind, for example.
would i rather her be the hardest worker or the smartest kid in the class.
as much as i hate stupidity and try to avoid it as much as possible, it's
very easy for me to decide between those two examples. i'd much rather
zoe be a hard worker or kind than be really smart. of course it's a false
choice because i don't think that those things are mutually exclusive,
but it's still interesting to think about.
the obedience one was kinda
tough for me. i feel like i'm pretty obedient and i think it's a good trait
to have in a lot of ways, but it has to come with skepticism otherwise
it's very dangerous and for that reason i had it pretty low on my list.
imagination is one i think most people wouldn't have guessed i'd value
that much, but imagination is tied so closely with problem solving and
that's what i do for a living so i have a healthy respect for imagination
in that regard. a kid who lives with his head in the clouds, though, is
a different matter.
the first two on the list
i think speak for themselves. if you have determination and hard work (john
wooden called these industriousness) then i think you're going to be alright
in life from an economic standpoint. determination carries over elsewhere
as well. sticking through tough times and not giving up builds a lot of
character and i think it can benefit you socially and spiritually, as well
as economically, so i value it very highly.
responsibility is a big
one as i get older as well. it's amazing how many excuses people come up
with to explain why they didn't do something or why they're not to blame.
michael sam was drafted
later than his numbers and accolades would suggest he should have been.
he was co-defensive player of the year in the conference with the best
defense. in the last several years that has meant a first round draft position.
in 2008 it meant a 2nd round draft position. he had a not very good showing
at the combine which probably hurt his stock. overall it looks like he
should have been drafted in the third round. some guys go higher than they
should and others go lower. he's kind of a tricky player in terms of his
measurables - he's a tweener with not great athleticism so i can understand
a 3rd or 4th round selection. so, it looks like the fact that he came out
as gay cost him about 3 rounds in the draft. time will tell if that was
an awful example of bigotry or if the people who didn't draft him were
one thing that's weird
about the draft is how you can have second team conference USA guys going
in the second round while first team guys from the SEC or PAC-12 go undrafted.
strange how that works sometimes. i think a lot of it comes down to people
drafting based on athleticism vs. production. college and nfl are very
different, though so it makes sense on some level. tebow knows about that
pretty well by now.
draft has been pretty average
this year. was disappointed the niners didn't get a wr with their first
pick. converting the safety to cb make sense according to the analysts.
definitely could use help in the secondary. then they picked up stevie
johnson so the wr position got better that way. then another rb to add
to the stable and a center from usc. another solid year so far.
finished out a good job
today replacing some dryer ducting and installing a booster fan. pretty
long vent run and the owners have always had problems so the booster fan
and the smooth ducting should be helpful. been getting a lot of practice
with the dryer vents lately because an appliance repair guy has been referring
me. has turned out to be quite a good source of business so hopefully he
keeps doing that.
dryer ducting isn't such
a bad thing to work with. i used to hate it, but i've come to know it better.
i think i'll move some hvac tools into the truck since the plumbing tools
are going out. the space behind the dryer is still ridiculous and unless
you build the area with a recessed box to start, it's probably going to
be one of those areas of your house that is always cramped and dirty and
annoying to work around. i've done two re-ducting jobs (total tear out
and replace) this week and one repair. they've taken me to some pretty
dirty and cramped areas and my body doesn't love that, but it's good, honest
money so i'm happy.
most of my life these days
is about work and the new job and all that. probably not much fun to ready
about, but that's what's been going on.
created a spreadsheet to
track my bids. i can see what my bid success rate is, what the real cost
of the job is relative to the estimated cost. what the real hourly rate
is after materials. how much my estimated time of completion differs from
reality, etc. after a year of data collection i think it'll be a pretty
solid way of analyzing what i've been doing right/wrong.
part of the reasoning behind
my decision to eliminate plumbing is that it's just not very profitable
for me. it constitutes the majority of my callbacks, i'm generally slower
than my estimate, and my overall goal is to become more specialized as
time goes on. if i'm able to eliminate an unprofitable portion of my business,
a portion that i don't really like doing, and still stay busy then it's
an all around win.
had a doctor's appt. today
for a physical. wanted to get it in while i had really good health insurance.
doctor said i was in pretty good shape so that's good. definitely feel
older than 34 some days.
decided yesterday that
i'm done with plumbing. soldering i have no problems with and some things
go smoothly, but now that i'm looking to make real money i have to eliminate
or improve any part of my repertoire that isn't at least average. and,
if i'm being honest, i think i'm a below average plumber even for a lowly
handyman. so, i'm done with plumbing unless i magically get better or come
across an easy job.
zoe is a crawling wrecking
ball. i knew this day would come and here it is. she's officially broken
or mangled a couple things i actually care about. the concept of "no" is
totally foreign to her at this point. she used to get sad when you said
"no" or were upset with her, but it doesn't phase her anymore. fun times
haven't watched any of
the nhl/nba playoffs. kinda would like to, but other things are more important.
officially married yesterday
which coincides with our anniversary and not zoe's birthday so that we
won't steal her thunder on an annual basis.
speaking of not complaining
about price...we've been looking for a caterer for the birthday/wedding
party and found a local bbq place. reasonable prices at the restaurant,
meryl emails them, $150/head minimum. jesus christ. our quest continues.
seriously, though, $150/person as a minimum for catering bbq? that's just
things at work are pretty
funny right now. i don't care about anything so i'm just skating by, but
all the people i know who work there are complaining about how awful things
have gotten. the executive director is an extremely bad boss. bad at being
realistic about expectations, bad about using human capital, bad about
being honest, bad about prioritization. he's basically just a talking,
glad-handing, cheerleading, clueless robot. two years ago i found out about
the fact that b of a was going to be ending or curtailing our deal with
them. basically we get paid a lot of money from them so that they can use
the cal alumni association brand on their credit cards. they probably also
get access to some of our member data or something like that. anyway, even
i've known for a couple years that that is money is going to drastically
dry up. finally, just recently, our wonderful leader has come to the conclusion
that our budget isn't going to be balanced (in part) because of the lost
revenue from this shift by b of a. it's one of several slow moving train
wrecks that he was unable to avoid. this kind of lack of leadership and
misprioritization is part of the reason i felt i needed to go out on my
own. if we had a kick ass boss and things were more stable and positive
and people weren't being laid off, then it would be a harder decision to
make. speaking of laying people off...he laid off four people the week
of thanksgiving. fast forward to just a week ago and one of these people
was at the cal day speech he was giving. towards the end of the speech
he turned to her and said "i'll see you monday." not as a joke. he said
it because he had clearly forgotten about the fact that he had laid her
off four months earlier. if that isn't the pinnacle of douche-baggery then
i don't know what is.
all of this is mentioned
not in the spirit of gossip, but rather to relate the following: 1. working
for myself is going to be a step up and 2. having the ability to
sell yourself is (unfortunately) vastly more important that being good
at what you do.
to that second point, it
relates far less to the type of work i do than just about any other profession
i can think of. for me, being good at what i do is very important, but
more to the point - it's very easy for just about everyone to see. if a
client calls because a door is sticking or not locking properly it's easy
to see if i fixed it or not. if a client calls because there is no power
to a light, it's about as easy as flipping the switch to see if i did a
good job. it's slightly more complicated than that because a job may look
good or work for now, but it also needs to last. but, overall, the ability
to see whether or not i've succeeded at doing my job is fairly obvious
and immediate. this is in stark contrast to many other jobs. important
and meaningful jobs like being a teacher or doctor and less meaningful
jobs like being the executive director of an alumni association. for a
job like that it's quite easy to deflect blame - the CFO effed something
up, the rim fire affected the bottom line of our lair operations, the shifting
banking terrain reduced revenues from a once steady source, etc. i don't
like those kinds of jobs anymore. i like to see that i've done something.
sometimes i'm fully to blame and sometimes i'm fully to thank. sometimes
it's a little more complicated than that, but not usually and not by much.
i learned a long time ago
that it's almost a rule that if you're counting on someone else then things
aren't going to go as well as they otherwise could. people are basically
just stupid and ego-centric and ignorant and apathetic. as soon as you
rely on someone else for something then the quality decreases, it takes
longer, etc. of course relying on others is inevitable in everything we
do, but minimizing that is a goal of mine. i rely on the hardware store
to carry the things i need and to carry them consistently. neither is true
most of the time. just about every other time i go to home depot with a
list of things they are out of at least one of them. i went to HD tonight
looking for a 3 or 4" tee hinge like the ones that secure just about every
crawl space door in the bay area. they had smaller ones. they had bigger
ones. they even had one that was the right size, but it wasn't rated for
exterior use so it would have started rusting after a couple years. such
is life. my standards are too high i guess.
been a while since the
the usual stuff happening
on the work front. lots of it and not much time for rest. i used to doubt
people when they said they were self-employed and working 12 hour days.
now i understand better. i bill 7 hours on a good day and then i have customers
to meet, proposals to write up, emails to do, bookkeeping to do, supplies
to pick or order, etc. it ends up being a pretty long day when you consider
all of that. if i charge $50/hr and for 6 hours of paying work and work
another 4 hours behind the scenes then my effective pay rate goes down
to $30/hr. this is one reason why i'm trying to do more bid work lately.
did a job yesterday and hustled the whole time and ended up making more
than my hourly rate.
as a result of all this
education of late with regards to business i'm far less likely to complain
about the prices of things when i'm out in the world. now if i find the
price of something to be too high i just move on, whereas before i might
complain about how ridiculous the cost is. some things are ridiculously
overpriced because of brand or because it's a niche product, but even then
i pretty much just take the price for what it is. i can buy it or not.
the ukrainian issue seems
to be escalating again. putin's a piece of shit and we're hamstrung by
economic factors, dwindling global power, and the fact that russia is a
legitimate player again. i've basically had it with the rest of the world
at this point and think we should just let them do whatever they want while
we figure out our own problems. it's time for germany to step up and claim
their rightful place in the global scene. they are plenty powerful, but
tend to sit back and let others do the heavy lifting. they're just smarter
and more disciplined than we are.
i still pay a lot of attention
to politics these days, but i care less. been focusing much more on the
family and business.
a while back i wrote about
how the anxiety epidemic (maybe too strong a word) is largely a first world,
modern day problem. i forgot to mention that one researcher found that
soldiers who had anxiety problems before going into the military actually
found relief in those issues when they were shipped off to iraq, for example.
i forget the research exactly, but basically they found that people who
had anxiety problems were somewhat relieved to be in a stressful situation
which focused the mind and apparently relieved the anxiety they once had.
been a little more laid
back lately. i set aside some days to work on the bathroom at saul's, but
the tile guy is taking a while so i'm taking it easier. one little job
today, but mostly hung out with the family and got stuff done around the
zoe went to the park today.
we put her on the swing and slide. it was fun. she likes looking at the
other kids and she loved the slide.
been busy lately.
this weekend is mostly
taking care of zoe since meryl has work at the a's.
a recent fix of mine for
a customer whose hot water heater stopped working:
being a solo handyman is
like a roller coaster. a had a job last week working at saul's where he's
redoing two bathrooms and having me do a lot of the electrical and carpentry.
i forget what i was working on, but i was having a difficult time and felt
like tearing my hair out. then, yesterday, i had a job repainting a bathroom
ceiling and installing a new fan where there used to be a light. it went
exactly as planned and i made a good wage and tidy profit.
there was one part of that
job, though, that was kinda hairy. since the building is a two story duplex
with a hip roof, i had to vent the fan through the roof. i've done it before,
but in this case it meant going on the roof of a fairly tall building (for
me). i have a 24' extension ladder which has always been good enough, but
this time it just barely reached the roof line and i was only able to get
it to rest on the gutter and didn't get anywhere near the OSHA required
3' of extension beyond the roof line. but it was a situation i couldn't
really do anything about. i couldn't turn to my boss and say i didn't feel
comfortable. i couldn't make a lackey do the job for me. i had to do the
job and there was only one way it was going to get done. i knew that it
was safe enough. the ladder wasn't extended beyond manufacturer recommendations,
it was on solid footing, it just didn't extend beyond the roof line enough
and (because it was fully extended) it felt wobbly as fuck. so, i went
up slowly and came down slowly and got the job done.
there will be many more
of these situations in the future - i'm not fully comfortable or confident
in something, but i'll have to go forward anyway. i won't do jobs that
will get me in trouble or are really out of my depth because no one really
benefits from that, but taking on difficult tasks can only make me stronger
in the long run. to date i've always found a suitable solution so i'll
just have to continue doing so.
this reminds me of another
job i had at saul's where we were putting in a new prep sink. i was to
demo the wall covering in preparation for the sink installation (to be
done by the plumber) and then redo the wall covering after the plumber
did the rough-in. when the plumber got there he didn't really understand
how the sink was supposed to be installed. i told him, i showed him, i
gave him the spec sheet, but it still took him a while. then he was having
trouble figuring out what to do with the drain/vent line which needed to
be moved a bit because the prep sink was going to be relocated about 6".
he called his boss. his boss came down and confirmed that he should do
what he and i thought was best. he tried to tell his boss that maybe he
should get someone else to do the job. his boss said to just do it the
way he said and it would be fine. in the end, it was all fine and the plumber
did a fine job. what he lacked was confidence and problem solving more
than skills, tools or ability. sometimes when there's someone else higher
on the food chain that you can punt to, you take that out earlier than
you probably should.
it could very well be an
all SEC ncaa championship game. i have no one left to root for at this
point. i'm only rooting against KY and FL. if they both win (my guess)
then i have no reason to watch the final.
zoe's first baseball
game was an a's loss after a long rain. she was a champ all the way through.
getting rained on while waiting in line to get into the stadium, being
around so many people, the loud noises, etc. - nothing really bothered
meryl works for the a's
today which means i get a day off. nice to have a saturday without work.
my mom will take zoe for a few hours as well so i get a little alone time.
thought about using it to go finish painting a shingle siding patch i did
earlier in the week, but it's going to be raining so i can't get that done.
i guess a forced day off is a good thing.
need to review some movies.
need to work on getting
stronger. i think i've always been of below average strength and that definitely
can be a hindrance when working solo in my field.
zoe's very mobile these
days. gotta make sure we keep screws and all that stuff off the floor.
she's also getting into toilets and cabinets and the usual. pretty much
life as usual for a 9 month old.
the russia/ukraine issue
is interesting. it's no surprise that putin would want to extend his reach
and reclaim some territory. "ukraine is weak" and a lot of that seems to
be attrituable to the faily economy and high debt. similarly, we aren't
able to do much to stop it because our economy and debt problems are a
bigger issue than russia and ukraine. if we were only 6 trillion in debt
and hadn't just fought two wars, then maybe we'd be able to have more power
in this situation.
tourney starts tomorrow.
got some housework done
today. don't generally get to do that lately. no construction stuff, mostly
just maintenance. spent a lot of time outside working on weeding and planting.
the backyard still has
some work to be done, but it's quite close to being complete at this point.
we've been making a list of backyard stuff to do before the wedding/zoe's
first birthday party and so far it's only two items long, so that's doable.
i guess the wedding thing
is kind of a big deal. it is and it isn't, really. finally doing it is
the big deal because i had formerly been pretty much against it. like all
changes, it was a gradual one. here's to hoping that we can stop the streak
of divorces from our parents. between our six parents/step parents there
are six divorces.
having it the same day
as zoe's birthday seemed a good idea. it makes it less about us and also
kills two birds with one stone. i only thought about it later, but i guess
it also means that people will feel like they need to get two presents.
at this point in my life i think i have most of the stuff i want so meryl
and i don't really want much and the 9 item registry reflects this fact.
and, zoe is going to be 1 year old so she doesn't really want much either.
plastic cups, rocks and strawberries make her as happy as anything else
in the world and none of that stuff costs much.
cool to see that ucla won
the pac-12 tournament. haven't followed college basketball at all this
year as has been the norm lately. will watch the madness, though, as always.
zoe had her first real
tumble yesterday. well, she fell out of the bed twice, but that didn't
draw any blood. this time she was climbing up on a backpack which houses
her diapers and stuff and she fell down the stairs leading into the big
room. it's only two steps, but she busted her upper lip open and bled a
bit. i held her for a couple minutes and then we played with her and she
was happy again. took about 3 minutes to get her back up and running. she's
a pretty tough kid.
i have to do something
about my lack of plumbing skills. i know how things are supposed to go
together, but when i go to do them there's always some problem. i just
hate plumbing and should probably quit doing it.
chrome has been kinda sucking
lately. lags on all my computers. why can't browsers ever be good for longer
than a year or two?
fucking technology just
pisses me off sometimes.
just have two little jobs
today so that's nice. i don't even know what the weekend is anymore. last
night i was working on a woman's toilet at 6p and it didn't even occur
to me that it was friday night and i should be psyched for the weekend.
got our taxes done the
other day. we paid to get them done from a recommended cpa. it'll be a
chunk of change, but with two individual taxes and the LLC it made sense
to bring in an expert. having a business has made me more aware of a lot
of things. in this case it's made me aware of the tax advantages of a company.
my understanding is that we can write off 50% of business related meals/entertainment.
so, if we go to lunch with a customer or need to buy lunch that is directly
related to a business endeavor then you can write off half of the cost.
so, i make $100 and i buy a $20 meal then my taxable income becomes $90.
it's even better for tools and other business expenses (from what i understand).
so, let's say i make $40,000 in a year and i buy a truck for $36,000. i
am then taxed on $4,000. my tax rate is about 10% so i take home $3,600
and the business (me) gets a truck. in another scenario, i work for an
employer. i earn $40,000 a year am taxed at 15% and have $34,000 left over
to buy a truck. i buy a $36,000 truck. i am in debt $2,000 and i have a
truck. that's a $5,600 difference just because it's my company earning
the money vs. me. that's my understanding of it all and it doesn't seem
very fair in some ways. in other ways it makes sense. overall, i wish it
wasn't like this. i wish it was simpler and more equitable.
the tool expenses definitely
helped us this year. we poured a good deal of income into tool and material
expenses so it was as if we didn't earn that money at all so we got the
stuff without having been taxed on it. essentially you get more purchasing
power this way. the other thing that saved us a ton of money was tracking
our mileage. we drive around a lot and that saved us quite a bit.
speaking of which...gotta
get to another job.
the plan to work two days
a week at the alumni house has been a bad one so far. it wasn't really
my plan and i was never thrilled about it, but went along to be a nice
guy or whatever. the result, though, is that i'm working 6-7 days a week
and still delaying some projects by weeks. if i were a big time contractor
or something then waiting a month to get something done wouldn't be unreasonable,
but i'm a little handyman so it seems a bit ridiculous.
academy awards weren't
that great this year. ellen was so-so overall. the movies that i saw (just
a couple) were not noteworthy.
zoe sleeps through the
night most of the time now which is nice.
this year is going to be
about finding out what direction the business should go. i'm basically
going to accept all kinds of jobs all over the place and then in 2015 (or
maybe a little sooner) start figuring out where my interests lie and what
kinds of jobs/customers i want or don't want. it may be that commercial
work is more profitable and fun. it may be that working in the oakland
hills yields the best customers so i'll try to just work there. no idea.
don't think that the
contracting license is going to work out. i knew this from the beginning
but went for it anyway. they want a lot of framing experience and i was
hoping that my classroom experience would help me there, but it's looking
like it won't be enough. there are other designations i can apply for so
i may yet be considered a contractor, but right now it's not looking great.
the biggest problem is that the state really doesn't have a designation
for the kind of thing i want to do. handymen charging under $500 can do
basically whatever they want. i want to be able to do that, but charge
more. a general contractor is closest to that, but even then you technically
need to have another trade involved in the contract in order to do it.
so, if i wanted to bid to install some recessed lighting for $1000 i'd
need to be doing another trade besides electrical in order for everything
to be legal. basically i think it's a way of protecting the other trades
from the general contractor taking all their work.
turns out that MA has a
law that says you have to give a customer a health care quote within 2
days. this is pretty close to the idea i proposed nationally and felt would
go a long way toward lowering costs. of course they find ways to complicate
it, but it generally seems like a step in the right direction. MA is the
tip of the spear towards single payer. should be interesting to follow
costs there relative to the rest of the country over time.
it never ceases to amaze
me the gap between what people think they should get paid and what they
think they should pay others. often i feel like i charge a lot for what
i do, but i also don't mind paying good money for a wide variety of things.
i've also become hypercognizant of the cost of things and the realities
of running a business so i complain much less about price than i might
have in the past. the price is the price and i'm free to take it or leave
it. this isn't to say i'm okay with absurd profits or arbitrage or bilking
the ignorant. to me that's a different issue.
last week was my last full
week at the alumni house. 3 days this week. 2 days a week most of the rest
of the way out.
zoe is sleeping in her
own room now and doing very well with it. we've also been more strict about
giving her nap/alone time and those have been going pretty well. we've
had a couple nights now where she hasn't woken up at all in the middle
of the night.
been getting more business
than i know what to do with lately. still working at alumni house 4 days
a week. goes down to 2 days a week in march. will be doing 2 days a week
through the end of may now. was supposed to be through the end of the semester
but my boss convinced me that i said through the end of the month and then
begged me to stay. nice to be wanted, but a little annoying since i wanted
to be completely out in a week.
got a call from an appliance
installer who wants to be able to refer me to customers who have problems
he doesn't cover. another person referring me means more opportunity. eventually
i'd like to get someone working for me to fill in on these jobs that i
don't have time for. that's like the 5 year plan though.
had a valentine's outing
with meryl tonight. quick dinner and about 40 minutes at a retro arcade.
zoe has been having lots
of trouble at night lately. we're going to kick her out of our bed and
she's going to have to figure it out in her own space now. in the long
run i think this will be good timing and a good choice. in the short run
i think it'll suck.
been watching the olympics
non stop. everything else goes on hold every couple years. so far there
have been a few good moments, but nothing spectacular. i always like short
track and the downhill/super g skiing type stuff. the hockey shootout with
russia/usa was pretty great for a game that didn't matter all that much.
two more weeks and i'll
have a couple extra days a week to get handyman stuff done. this will be
very helpful because i'm really backed up. i've been trying to not work
on sundays, but that usually means i only do stuff around the house and
catch up with organizing and invoicing, etc.
two estimates and one job
to do today.
the lawn is in and it looks
nice. had to give away a decent amount of sod, but better to have too much
than not enough. sprinklers work, but it's been raining so they haven't
been needed so far.
rained this morning so
getting work done on the lawn would be messy to say the least. doesn't
rain all season and it picks one of two days that we decide to do work
the day i quit my job i
definitely had a sense of dread and worry. it's kind of a big gamble, but
i think i've done as much as possible to ensure that it goes fairly smoothly.
i have one solid client (saul's deli) who has work for me on a weekly basis
and one lead company (club local) that has brought me some work and should
bring me more once my availability opens up more. in the shorter term we
also have another client who wants a bunch of work done and we'll oversee
some and do some. we're also now doing order fulfillment for meryl's mom's
business and that is work that can be done whenever we want and brings
in some extra money.
i have a good savings at
this point and meryl has some as well so we're not going to starve, but
that is supposed to be our retirement so of course we'd rather not dip
into it. i think this decision will keep me sharp. i might have to hustle
up more work from time to time and i don't think i'll be complacent which
can tend to happen when you have the comfort and ease of a steady job.
it will also hopefully allow me to relax more than i've been used to lately.
the last 9 months i've been working for the alumni house and meryl &
miller. working for just meryl & miller theoretically means i'll have
less overall work. if i ever get too busy again i can just raise my rates.
i don't have to ask the boss or wait for someone else to make the decision.
i just do it. this is where marketing is key. if i get enough customers
(especially the right kind) coming in then i can experiment with pricing
strategies and rates until i find something that works well for me.
worst case scenario is
that the jobs dry up and i'm forced to lower my rates and can't make nearly
the same money that i was at the alumni house (not to mention the benefits).
i'll be rooting for seattle
today. if they win then sf will have lost their final game to the eventual
sb champs in the last three years.
philip seymore hoffman
is dead. when meryl told me this i assumed it was a drug overdose and that's
what it appears to have been. pretty typical b.s.. smart, gifted people
doing dumb things. it's a disease and all, i get that as well as the next
guy since i saw my parents go through it. i just don't get how someone
with that much money, intellect and connections couldn't just pay someone
to babysit him for a year or something. if you're serious about getting
off it and you have resources like he had then it seems like you could
figure it out. ultimately you can only help those who want to be helped.
maybe my favorite picture
of zoe so far:
with some family help we
tore up the back lawn today. trenched for sprinklers, but i think we need
to go deeper. oh well. should be another hour of work tomorrow. sod comes
last tuesday i told my
boss i wouldn't be working at the alumni house much longer. i told her
i'd quit before march. she didn't take it too well and seemed a little
panicked. long story short i'm going to be going down to two days a week
in march and will work like that until may which is when the semester is
over and the busy time is done. it actually works out kinda well. i owe
her a lot and like her so i'm helping her, but i also get to keep my insurance
(i'll be using vacation time to stay full time) and it'll mean some guaranteed
money while i start to work more for myself.
so, the adventure of
working for myself is officially underway. i have to maximize the next
10 years of relatively good health and a strong body. hopefully i get busy
enough that i can hire someone and earn money and do less strenuous work.
should be interesting.
don't think it's allergies,
but my cold is sticking around longer than i'd like. i probably should
eat better and stress less.
is a given item going to
be more or less expensive when you have 3 people paying for it versus 1?
is the price of that product going to go up or down if no one really knows
the price of it? is the price of that product going to go up or down if
no one really asks how much it costs? is the price of the product going
to go up or down if you have very little choice over whether or not you
buy it? with regards to healthcare, in every instance the answer is bad
news for us. i get a service and 1) i pay for it, my employer pays for
it and my insurance company pays for it 2) i have no idea what the price
is going to be before i get the procedure 3) i don't generally ask the
price before i get the procedure and when i do, they can't/won't give me
a straight answer 4) when it comes to emergency or urgent care we basically
have no choice over whether or not we buy it or not.
i feel like society remembers
success more than failure. evolutionarily this probably makes some sense.
i've been thinking a lot
lately about anxiety. i think it's basically a first world problem. there's
an atlantic editor who has a new book detailing all his different phobias
and anxieties. he writes about his various attempts at dealing with them
through drugs and meditation and diet and nothing really works. for a guy
like this there's probably a chemical imbalance coupled with possible childhood
trauma or something that leads to being overwhelmed with fears and anxiety.
however, i can't help but think that in most cases this is the result of
too much success in life. my half-witted theory is that the body and mind
have evolved to fight and work hard. when calories are free and easy, when
shelter is ample and climate is perfect, when life is basically very easy
then our mind works on solving other issues. sometimes that means nitpicking
things about our surroundings. i've heard many anecdotes about uber-rich
people making unusual demands on their staff, for example. life is so easy
for them that their mind creates problems where there are none - the door
man must open the door just right for me or the rivets on this plane i'm
building all need to be countersunk at a perfect depth (howard hawks type
stuff). sometimes it manifests itself in people creating drama for themselves.
whether they take up addictions or sabotage relationships. and sometimes
the bored mind just creates anxieties and fears that are irrational.
so, what's the cure? well,
if the ailment is modernity, excess, and life being too easy then the cure
is the opposite. scarcity and difficulty. i guess i just find it hard to
believe that cavewoman jane and cavewoman mary would have had a year's
long cat fight about who throws better parties or who has a nicer cave.
i doubt very much that these insecurities would occupy their minds in the
way that these sorts of things do today. i think there would be very little
room for the caveman to be horribly afraid of looking up (anablephobia)
or of daylight (phengophobia).
i guess it would be easy
enough to find out if i'm on to something. just look at the rate of anxiety
in people by wealth. i suspect it would be high at the extreme ends - the
wealthy have anxiety because life is too easy for them and the homeless
have anxiety because they have too much spare time and a higher rate of
jimmy johnson and barry
switzer are the answers to my previous question.
i'll be rooting for seattle.
watched a couple oscar
nominated movies. american hustle and gravity. neither were very good.
old phone screen cracked
while i had it in my pocket and was working (there was a pencil in my pocket
that broke it). pretty pathetic. then it stopped charging unless i was
holding the cord in at a certain angle. long story short, i got a new phone.
hopefully will be with this one for a while. samsung galaxy s2. so far
it's pretty good.
zoe has been sleeping like
shit lately. waking up at midnight or 1a and having trouble most of the
rest of the night. screaming and trying to crawl around. i don't think
it's the sickness. more likely that it's because she's learning to crawl
(she's getting pretty close). apparently learning new things makes them
my sickness may be allergies.
more sneezing and runny nose than usual. then again my lungs have never
felt like this as a result of allergies. this is lame. i need to get well
so i can get some shit done. taken the last three days off thinking that
would be good, but it hasn't helped as much as i'd like.
got sick again at the beginning
of the year and was just getting over it and now i'm sick again. this time
it's in my chest. zoe has pneumonia so maybe it's related. man this sucks.
niners/seahawks game was
good. people seem upset about the playcalling. there were a couple bad
calls, but i don't recall them making much of a difference overall. certainly
not the reason for the loss. as kaepernick said, he was the reason they
lost. the last three sf possessions ended in kaepernick turnovers - fumble,
int, int. possibly the biggest individual choke i've ever seen. pretty
bad game from him overall.
sherman's talk after the
game was classless.
you get what you ask for
with kaepernick. i think hasselbeck put it best when talking about the
niner offense overall. he said that the best plays come after plays break
down, but that no one ever talks about the downside of that (i guess he
hasn't been in my living room lately). kaepernick can run for 50 yards
at a time, but he also runs out of the pocket too quickly and makes bad
throws. he runs too quickly and misses secondary receivers (something that
doesn't show up on any stat sheet i know of). he runs around holding the
ball with one hand and fumbles it. turnovers are the second most important
stat outside of the score.
the only reason sf was
in the game was their red zone defense. if not for that they would have
lost by 20+ points.
has a coach ever won a
superbowl and a national championship in college?
got a job doing a bunch
of project management for a woman. may have mentioned it already.
quitting my job is inevitable
at this point. it just makes too much sense, and while it is risky, the
upside (potential and real) is too high. the fact that jobs continue to
roll in without any effort (other than doing generally good work and accepting
what comes) is a good sign.
in a perfect world it would
mean more time with zoe and meryl, more money, more freedom, more time
to hone my craft. the downsides being more stress, more responsibility.
that said, it would be less stress than i have right now because i'm trying
to do both things at the same time. juggle a full-time job while also working
as a handyman all around the greater east bay.
i'm such a conventional
guy these days. i want the government out of my business, i have a family,
the best thing in life is seeing zoe smile. pretty hilarious.