Some is better than none…

We’ve been through two nights of what could generously be called torrential downpours since the landscapers called the job finished and moved on. So far I’m exceedingly pleased to say that the basement has remained bone dry. No sign of hydraulic pressure coming from below the slab or through the block – and more importantly no magically overflowing window well/aquarium. I’m well pleased and cautiously optimistic that at least on this one thing, we’ve possibly cracked the code. Now I can move on to giving the front crawlspace the same treatment and chasing the damp out of there… or maybe I’ll tackle something else on my long list of projects.

Until I bought this place, I’ve always lived in neighborhoods within easy reach of city water and without water-prone basements. The rental place up the road had a sump pit in the crawl space that stayed bone dry the whole time I was there. I’d really never given much thought to it until this spring’s week after week of rain and semi-regular power failures. While watching the water level rise in the window well I had a moment of utter horror that my standing in the dark also meant that the sump pit was filling inch by inch, there was plenty of water in the well, but none I could use, and that generally life in this nice, heavily wooded part of the world could quickly become problematic if I stayed off the power grid longer than an hour or two.

The power’s gone off here enough since I moved in that I’ve realized that an outage lasting longer than I’m going to want to hand carry water from the sump is not just possible, but also likely. There are plenty enough people around with a generator to borrow short term, but the iffy projections coming out of the National Hurricane Center today were enough to convince me it was time to stop living on “borrowed” power. Judging from the number of people milling around the generator aisle at the local Lowe’s tonight I wasn’t the only one who had come to the same conclusion.

At some point I’ll slap a standby generator on this place and really do it up right, but in the meantime once I get it assembled and tested, I’ll have 5.5kW of portable power. That should be enough to keep the basement dry, have a few lights on, charge up the electronics, enjoy indoor plumbing, and maybe even run the furnace fan… not all at the same time, of course, but under dire circumstances, having some of the comforts of the 21st century is far better than having none of them.

70% (or why I fell in love with my new phone)…

I’ve been struggling a bit to fall in love with my new phone. The “+” form factor just felt wrong in my hand. The balance was off and I found myself needing to use both hands for things that I could do for the last seven years with just a flick of my thumb. I liked the new model well enough, but I wasn’t in love with it.

After spending all day with it at work today, though, I’m getting turned around on all that. I left on schedule after what I would consider a regular day of use at more than 70% charged. With the last phone, I’d usually start hunting for a plug sometime after noon – and that was after giving it a boost during the morning commute.

I’m now officially of the opinion that if battery power alone were the only improvement from the last model to this new one, it would be well worth the upgrade. The new camera is impressive, with live photos being a bit gimmicky. 3D touch is fine and works as advertised – though I don’t find myself using it all that often. I’ve never particularly liked Siri and haven’t given her new incarnation much of a chance to change my mind.

Yeah, I’m a tech junky who probably doesn’t use a third of the capability of the gear in my arsenal. Sue me. I don’t need new and innovative ways to check email or ask for directions. I’m old school enough that typing on the screen is still ok by me. When Apple can beam information directly into my frontal lobe, then maybe I’ll be more interested in doing things the “new way.”

Is the 6S/6S+ a must have upgrade if you’re running the 6? No. Is it a respectable upgrade if you’re coming from one of the earlier models? Oh yeah. It’ll likely knock our socks off.

Even if that big beautiful new battery is the only thing I use to the fullest, it was well worth the price of admission. At some point maybe I’ll even get around to teaching myself how to use all the extra bells and whistles I paid for… or maybe not. It all depends on how and if I can see it improving my workflow in some way. Until then, I’m well satisfied.

Doctor’s orders…

After spending the better part of an hour this morning with the orthopedic surgeon, he basically confirmed what was a foregone conclusion. Winston has a complete tear in his cranial cruciate ligament (CrCL). The only interesting bit I gleaned from the appointment was that the tear most likely occurred long before he started showing signs of it two weeks ago. His knee is already showing signs of scar tissue filling in and trying to stabilize the joint. That’s the good news.

For the moment, as long as he’s taking anti-inflammatory and not putting any undue strain on his leg, he’s getting along without any real sign of trouble. The bad news is that he can’t stay on the anti-inflammatory indefinitely. When that prescription runs out in a few weeks, we’ll have to make a judgment call on how severely his range of motion is effected, how much pain he’s in, and how much his quality of life is disturbed. For the moment, we keep him medicated and keep him relatively calm (which isn’t particularly hard with a bulldog).

For now, all options remain on the table – from basic medication and plenty of rest to the repeat of the TPLO surgery he had on the opposite leg three years ago. I wish there was something more definitive to report this evening. As you can probably well imagine, I’m not at my best when dealing with the vagaries of time and a whole lot of “maybe.”

The big news…

While the Pope of Rome was busy stealing the spotlight, there was some real honest to God news broken over the weekend. Rather than dealing with another round of how stupid can Republican members of Congress make themselves look, the Speaker of the House is opting to resign from Congress and give up the office that stands him second in line to the presidency.

Speaker Boehner has taken massive amounts of criticism from the Tea Party wing for not being conservative enough – as if the Republican Party should have some kind of purity test for membership. Given my oddball 1960’s brand of conservativism that is currently out of favor, I’ve always given the speaker the lion’s share of the credit for managing to hold together a majority that gets anything at all accomplished.

As he edges towards the door, there was a nugget from his interview this morning with CBS Face the Nation that, more than anything else, tells me that John Boehner gets it – perhaps more clearly than any of his contemporaries. While musing on his accomplishments as Speaker despite the active resistance of the most conservative members of the Republican caucus, he offered this, “You know this is the part that I really don’t understand…Our founders didn’t want some parliamentary system where if you won the majority you got to do whatever you wanted to do. They wanted this long, slow press. So change comes slowly, and obviously too slowly for some.”

I worry that the next crop of candidates for the top job in the House won’t be so circumspect and will jam through an inevitably crackpot agenda no matter what long term costs might come.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Big Pharma Guy. Despite the public outcry it’s actually not the physical embodiment of Big Pharma that bothers me about someone who ramps up the price of their product from $13 to $750. The dude might be an MBA, but he clearly wasn’t paying attention in the “shaping public opinion” part of class. Sure, it was a douche move, but hey, I’m going to tell you to go out there and charge whatever the market will tolerate for your product. The fact that he’s been so quick to backpedal gives me a pretty strong indication that he didn’t think things through all the way to their logical conclusion. What annoys me more than anything though, is that I’ve never had the foresight to buy the patent on some widget I can make for less than a dollar and turn around and sell to a willing marketplace for thousands of percentage points in mark up.

2. Volkswagen. Someone established tough standards and then someone else found a way to lie in order to beat the standard. That’s how it works. That’s how it’s always worked. While I agree that Volkswagen did a very bad thing, I’m not sure why anyone is reacting with surprise. People, almost as if by nature, look for the loophole that lets them do whatever they wanted to do with the least amount of trouble. In this case, jiggering with the onboard computer was the path of least resistance. A test is only as good as the way it’s validated, or as a wise old Warrant Officer once told me, “You don’t do what the boss don’t check.” If you’re going to insist on having regulations, at least then insist that someone is responsible for making sure the testing mechanism works. I don’t blame Volkswagen for following their own self interest so much as I blame a system that was put in place that let them get away with it for the better part of a decade.

3. Delayed interest. When I’ve been working on something for months, there is no conceivable way I can bring you up to speed on the intricacies of each bit and piece of the puzzle 37 seconds before that particular thing is done. Thirty seven seconds may be an exaggeration, but only a minor one. At some point when I tell you something needs signed it’s going to have to be ok in believing that I know what I’m doing. At least we can put that dirty rumor that we’re trusted professionals to rest now.

Striking it rich…

There’s an unfortunate assumption that if you have rental property you must, by some unwritten rule, be rolling in cash. It’s been my experience that there are really only two ways to strike it rich through rental property; either you have 100 of them to smooth out the cash flow from month to month or you operate more as a slum lord than a landlord. Those two possibilities, of course, are not mutually exclusive as it is entirely possible to do both at once.

Where you’re never going to strike it rich is in owning just one. The good years are the ones where you break even after expenses. The great years are the ones where you get enough of a tax deduction to maybe show a tiny slice of profit. For the most part, what comes in goes right back out in maintenance expenses, management fees, taxes, mortgage, insurance, and home owner’s association dues.

Owing a rental is like owning a bulldog in a way – both are things I wouldn’t recommend anyone try for themselves. Avoiding them both will save you a whole lot of heartache… and I’m not just saying that because my property manager called tonight to tell me the heating system is shot and needs to be replaced the same week I’m planning on financing knee surgery for a dog and two weeks after paying off a contractor to make sure a river doesn’t flow through the garage and cause my basement to become an indoor swimming pool.

Enough all ready. Fate, chance, or whatever gods control such things are really starting to get on my last nerve. Sigh. I’m never going to get my new bathroom at this rate. Sadly, I’m not a slum lord. Heat is important. And winter is coming.

Empathy…

I read a lot of news. Maybe that isn’t quite a hobby, but I like to me conversationally informed about what’s happening in the world. One of the articles I read over the weekend criticized a certain Republican presidential candidate for having a “troubling lack of empathy.” I think I get the point the article was bending over itself to make, but when it comes right down to it, I don’t really need all that much empathy from my president. I don’t need him to sooth my troubled soul or wrap his arm around me and feel my pain.

What I really look for in a president is an iron-sided leader who will dispense retribution on the enemies of my country like God’s own avenging angel. Everything else sort of falls into the “nice to do if there’s any free time” category. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it makes me a terrible human being. That doesn’t really bother me. I’ve got friends and family who can comfort me in my times of trouble, so I’d really just like a president who focused his time and energy on pummeling the bastards three countries over who were causing or threatening to cause the trouble in the first place.

Empathetic people are a dime a dozen. You can find them anywhere. Apparently we only get an American badass who wants to make the world safe for democracy once in a generation.