Twelve chairs…

One of the many exciting “other duties as assigned” I enjoy during this, the worst month of the year, is that of circus roustabout. It’s toting, hauling, setting up, shifting, tearing down, followed by more hauling and toting. This time of year, my position description might as well read “Laborer, General” as opposed to anything that has “analyst” in its title.

Today’s major project was retrieving a dozen “VIP chairs” from one auditorium, loading them onto pickup trucks, driving them a thousand yards, and then unloading them into another auditorium so there could be a nice matching set on stage. I was reminded with every bit of toting and hauling why furniture moving is the kind of thing I happily pay someone else to do these days.

Believe me when I tell you I don’t in any way presume that moving furniture is beneath my dignity. I’ve had far worse jobs for far less pay… but then that’s kind of the point, I suppose. By the time you add up the hourly rate of all the people involved in shifting these twelve chairs and account for their individual overhead rates (to account for non-salary payroll costs), it would be far more cost effective to outfit each auditorium with twelve matching chairs instead of paying people to shuffle them from building to building as needed. If you assume a fifteen year life cycle for a chair that’s only used a few times a month, it’s an investment that would pay for itself in the first five years. That’s before you even look at lost productive time or basic opportunity cost of having a bunch of analysts move furniture around instead of working more “high value” tasks.

I’m sure there’s a parable about the nature of bureaucracy here. I try not to dwell on it too much.

On the logical limits of “treat yo’ self…”

I’ve had the same desk chair since sometime around 2008 or 2009. It’s a fine chair. It still looks good and isn’t held together by bailing twine or duct tape. After more than a decade of periodic use and now the better part of a year of daily use, it does seem to be starting to show its age, though. The seat is a little out of level, which can’t be doing much to improve the occasional nagging pain in my left hip. Otherwise, it looks almost new – no small feat considering its survived at least three household moves.

I only bring this up because I’ve started poking around online office chair retailers. There’s a phrase I never really expected to use, but as the plague rolls on, I’ll eventually have to look seriously at replacing the current model with something new. Knowing the terrain before starting my search in earnest felt like a worthwhile effort, though… especially since I picked my current seat out of a shed full of leftovers and seconds in someone’s back yard.

Years ago, surely following a fit of spending end of the year money before it expired, I worked in an office that had Aeron’s at everyone’s desk. Back then it was a slick chair, felt good, and was enormously adjustable for each individual. I thought maybe I’d look into getting one of those for myself, in the clearly misguided belief that like giant televisions, the price of fancy office chairs would decrease over time.

Boy did I call that wrong. 

So, am I actually thinking about spending something close to $1000 on a desk chair? They’re comfortable and it’s tempting. I find myself stuck somewhere between “treat yo’ self” and middle-aged disbelief that reasonable person would spend that much on a chair that doesn’t recline and vibrate. For now, the whole discussion is purely academic – to be shelved for further review some time in 2021 when my political masters aren’t fighting over funding the government one week at a time.

The cost of getting the job done…

I moved into my current house five years ago. Sure, the movers got everything through the door, but my job was making sure once it’s was in that it was situated in the right spot. Over the years I’ve acquired some cheats and tools – a vast collection of furniture dollies, hand carts, straps, and plastic sliders – to make moving large objects easier. Working smarter, not harder, is an absolute necessity when you’re an army of one.

I was more than capable of slinging my big oak bookcases through the house five years ago. That was 37. This morning I’m finding that getting them across the room left me twisted up in a curly que and just barely able to put down fresh water for the dogs. Yeah, I definitely pulled something. This is apparently 42. 

I still feel strong as a bull moose… and I still got the job done, though it seems there’s an increasingly high price to pay for brute strength-ing things into place. I’ve always tried to work smart, but it looks like I’ll have to work smarter yet to keep from wrecking myself.

If anyone needs me, I’ll be over here popping ibuprofen and and reeking of IcyHot.

On change and furniture delivery…

I don’t like change. That’s probably the lest surprising thing I’ve ever typed into this blog. In fairness, it’s not so much that I don’t like change as that when change happens it tends to either be a pain in the ass or do away with something I like. Often it does both simultaneously. I’ve spent a lot of time crafting a world that I both enjoy and that curtails the number of pains in the ass. Change, therefore, is something to be avoided and fought against when necessary.

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Having said that, though, my 2006 vintage bonded “leather” sofa and chair set had reached the point where it was shedding more than the dogs and cat combined. They didn’t owe me anything, having been moved three times and not being particularly expensive in the first place. It was the first “adult” furniture I bought after I closed on the Memphis house and I probably kept it around a year or two past it’s use by date out of sentiment if nothing else. Still, in this one case, it was time for a change.

One thing that nobody mentions about furniture is it’s not like replacing appliances or getting a new mattress. The guys who bring the new don’t generally haul away the old – one of those things that’s changed over time for the worse, in my opinion. The nice folks at Got Junk, though, we’re happy (for a price, of course) to come manhandle the furniture out of the house, load it on their truck, and drive it away to I care not where.

And now we’re waiting for the replacements to arrive. Waiting in a room empty aside from a recliner, couple of tables, and a dog bed. When I say Saturday can’t get here quick enough this week, I really, really mean it.

Animal kingdom…

The homestead is something of an animal kingdom. The squirrels and birds get plied with all the nuts and seeds they can eat, the resident deer get the occasional handful of corn, and all manner of morsels from the kitchen feed whatever creatures will eat them. The critters inside pretty much have the run of the place. As often as not it feels like the whole household is designed around them. Given the amount of time I spent shifting furniture yesterday that’s not quite an understatement.
Until Hershel the cat came along, George the tortoise lived happily in his open topped enclosure in the office. With the addition of a cat, who wasn’t so IMG_6401.JPGmuch interested in the tortoise as he was in jumping into and out of the enclosure and spinning ground coconut onto every flat surface in the room with every leap in and out. Between the never-ending cycle of vacuuming up coconut shell and the threat of tipping over various heat lamps, the two had to be separated.

That was easy enough in the winter – close up the doors to the sunroom/office and go on about the day. With spring setting in and inability to satisfactorily control the ambient air temperature coming to a head, George had to move… Which is why I spent most of the day yesterday getting him installed in his own bedroom. Yes, I understand how perfectly ridiculous that sounds, but I suspect we’ll all be happier with this arrangement. Well, the cat may not be as pleased since I seem to have taken away one of his favorite toys. I supposed he’ll just have to satisfy himself with other less messy options for the foreseeable future.

I’m well satisfied with out new arrangement, but perhaps more satisfied that the furniture is all back in place and the hand carts and other implements of moving are back in the garage. Around here the biggest enemies to a happy life are chaos and disorder. Spending the better part of a day bringing those to heel feels like time awfully well spent.

Goodbye to a second hand chair…

Chair in CambridgeIt’s no surprise that I’m a man who enjoys his comforts. For fifteen years, one of those comforts was a second hand La-Z-Boy that came into my possession in 1997. Since then it moved through two college dorm rooms, a travesty of a senior-year apartment, an efficiency at the southern tip of Maryland, my bunker-style condo, Petersburg, Virginia, three months in Army storage and then onward to Ellicott City, my Memphis exile, and two houses here in the northeastern corner of Maryland.

I think it cost all of $50 way back when. A lot of furniture has passed through my hands since then, but it was the one item that stayed. Some would say it stayed longer than it FullSizeRender (5)should have, but I kept it because it was still comfortable and, maybe more importantly, because it was surprisingly sentimental. It was one of the few things still around from when I set out on my own.

It reached the end of it’s run when I moved into the new place here. Even I couldn’t come up with sufficient justification to keep a broken down, worse than threadbare, La-Z-Boy around. In the early hours of Saturday morning, I consigned it to the good earth of Cecil County. It feels like the whole thing should have been done with a bit more ceremony than simply hurling it off the back of the truck – a sad end for 17 years of good and faithful service.

The office…

It’s been raining in Memphis for about 36 hours now. In an effort to stay busy yesterday, I moved all of the furniture out of my home office/back bedroom and repositioned it in what, theoretically, is the dining room. It’s a much better space, with better light, and much, much more room than the 10×10 foot operation I had been running. Plus, it seems to be a much better use of space for the room than storing dog cages and furniture I hadn’t found time to take to Goodwill yet. Overall, I’m very pleased with how the room turned out (although I’m told I need curtains for some reason). I’ll be more satisfied when I get a few items hung on the walls. And yes, I’m just pompous enough to hang my degrees up right here in the dining room.

What I’m not quite use to yet, is sitting with my back to the giant front window. I’ve always hated sitting with my back to wide-open spaces, whether it’s in a restaurant or even here at home. That’s a holdover evolutionary issue with our ancestors trying not to get eaten by lions, I suppose. So, yeah, we’ll see how it goes from here… and how the pups like having their own room.

First Night…

You don’t realize how much time you spend sitting down until you don’t have anything to sit on. There’s the floor, of course, but in the final analysis, you just sitting on the floor looking at four bare walls. Not exactly what I was planning on doing tonight. Instead, I’ve spent most of the afternoon and evening hanging blinds. I know that it’s something that needs done, but I would have preferred to spend the first night sitting on the couch, watching TV, and possibly even drinking a beer. I’ve spent the day on my feet and at 9:30 CST, I’m beat… Looks like its time to inflate the bed.

Missing my furniture, cable television, and internet access aside, closing came off without a hitch. The biggest upset of the day was that either I forgot to tell them or Home Depot forgot to order blinds for my frigging giant dining room window. Not a huge deal, but until I manage to get something to cover it, you can see straight through the house. I have as much of a voyeurism streak as anyone, but not when I’m staring in the picture.

Living room furniture and the cable guy are coming tomorrow (Friday) sometime. At least I hope they are. The furniture store called this afternoon to confirm the delivery, but I made the appointment with Comcast almost a month ago and neglected to call and follow up to confirm the installation. I’m hoping for the best, because God help me, the prospect of spending the next five days without TV or the internet is terrifying beyond words.

Punch List…

I did my final walk through with the builder and inspector this afternoon, put together my “must fix” list, and crawled around parts of the house I will very likely never see again. It’s entirely possible that I will be hacking up blown insulation for the rest of my natural life. I’m fine with it, since that means I am one step closer to getting this damned move behind me.

With two pages of punch list handed to the builder, the only thing that’s really left for me to do on this end is sign the paperwork once my realtor and the inspector verify that all the repairs have been made. The big day should be on or about the 26th, when the lawyers FedEx me the final paperwork. After that, all that’s left is meeting the realtor on the 28th to pick up the keys and physically take possession. Of course then there is the small matter of waiting the week or so for my stuff to catch up with me. Fortunately, the new living room furniture I ordered should show up the day after I show up, so I won’t be spending the long weekend in a completely empty house… Just a mostly empty one.

It’s satisfying to see everything coming together, especially considering the short timeline I set for myself. When it’s all over, I think I may lay down and sleep for a week.