Monday, August 31, 2009

We're Here

We made it to my Mom's house okay. Safe, sound (well, maybe not sound of mind), sore, tired and happy the drive is over for now. We unloaded the Durango and parked the Penske truck in the driveway all set to unload tomorrow. Hopefully we can get some help tomorrow and make things alot easier on us.

Home stretch

We made yesterday a short day --- we were both just tired of sitting in the vehicles and driving. We crashed for the night in Effingham, IL; ordered in Pizza Hut and watched Big Brothers and a couple Criminal Minds shows. (Watch out Kevin, if Jeff gets off the block, he will be after your butt!)

We should be pulling into my Mom's place later this evening. If we feel halfway decent, we can start to organize the garage and get a few things off the Penske truck. Tuesday we have all day to get it unloaded since the truck is not due back until Wed in Mt Morris. (Anybody free on Tuesday, can come over to help!)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Check, Please

Outside of the building looks like the gas station Will Smith used in I Am Legend?
Pump malfunctions when you try to restart it after it shuts off at $75 dollars?
Pump receipt looks like it's written in the native language of the beings on Queezag?
All the employees have that slack-jawed, vacant-eyed expression that just screams, "Please put money in my tip jar so I can participate in this year's Special Olympics?
Most of the rest of the customers stocking up on Twinkies and Miller Lite look the same as the employees?
Men's restroom looks like the aftermath of gay biker gang's all-night sex party?
Toilet in men's restroom sprays your back with the water you just took a dump in when you flush?
Accosted by a filthy spic using his (probably rented) "family" as props in his panhandling scam?

Well, then you must be at Loves #215 in Gallup, New Mexico!!
Check and mate.

Actually, the trip has been relatively smooth. The only major glitch so far is that the moving van only has about a 250-mile range on $80 worth of diesel fuel and has a real hard time pulling itself up hills. We are in Joplin, MO and will hopefully be somewhere in Indiana tonight.

Well, free breakfast waits for no one.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Or from Debbie ...

He, he, he! The last post before we turn in the box if from me!

We did get almost everything done today that we wanted to. The last of the kitchen, bathroom, cleaning supplies and a few odds and ends are left. We plan on being up early tomorrow to be at the Penske rental place by 8am when they open. Sometime after 9am, we have to turn in our box to Cable One; but other than that we will be finishing packing and then loading everything up we can ourselves until help comes in the afternoon/evening.

Prayers out to Kim and the rest of the family. I am sorry I can't be there right now to give you all hugs. Next week I hope.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Last Post from Prescott

This will definitely be the last post from Prescott. As soon as I'm done with this, I'm tearing the system down and boxing it up for the drive to Michigan. We've gotten most of the stuff out of the apartment and down in our storage area. That will make loading it on the truck fast and easy. Even better, we have help coming tomorrow afternoon for the really heavy stuff. We may be able to update from the road, depending on what sort of hotel we can find when we get tired of driving. We are still looking at Monday afternoon/evening for our arrival in Burt, Michigan. That gives us a couple days to unload before we have to have the truck back, so we won't have to kill ourselves as soon as the wheels hit Debbie's mom's driveway.

Got word that Ted Kennedy died today. I hate to speak ill of the dead, but hanging on to his Senate seat long after he was physically able to even make a perfunctory effort at the job was a disgrace. Doing it so there could be a "plan of succession" is on par with drowning someone in your car then not bothering to call the cops until the next day. We have this thing called a Constitution which lays out exactly what is to happen when a Senator is incapacitated or dies while in office. Senate Dems may have heard of it. Or not; by their actions I would suspect they've never seen it.

If you think Political Correctness is just a recent irritant in political discourse, do yourself a favor and go watch this video. This is why I don't bother with any of the networks' news programs; a film clip or image can be manipulated to tell 100 different stories, none of which are even a passing acquaintance of the truth.

And finally, it looks grim for the Spirit rover. It has been stuck in soft sand for months, and just when NASA thinks they have a plan to get it unstuck, a dust storm hits, cutting the available power from the solar panels (also a good argument for an RTG power source like those used on the first Mars landers). Still, not a bad run for what was supposed to be a 90-day mission.

OK; that's it. The next post will either be from a hotel somewhere between here and Michigan, or will be from Debbie's mom's house.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


As Debbie mentioned last night/early this morning, we are getting very close to D-day. This morning we pretty much packed up everything in the bedroom. When Debbie gets back from her lunch, she will start on the stamping stuff in the office while I clear everything out of the bedroom except the bed and start doing the final cleaning of that room. Then we get everything out of the kitchen other than what we need today and tomorrow for our last couple dinners in the apartment. Tomorrow we do the bathroom and clearing out as much of the apartment as we can fit in our storage area and our garage. Thursday morning we go pick up the truck and start loading. We have a couple from Arcosanti that will be coming over later in the afternoon to help carry the heaviest stuff out of here. The goal is that when we stop Thursday, there will be nothing left except the air mattress for us to sleep on and the clothes we will be wearing Friday as we drive out of Arizona. We expect to be in Burt, Michigan by Monday afternoon. So far, the flying monkey wrenches has stayed at bay. Lets hope that continues.

Couple quick notes on the economy: the government continues to demonstrate its inability to forecast, well, anything. Not revenue, not expenditures, not borrowing, not Cash for Clunkers. Any CFO in a publicly-traded company that had as miserable of a record would be in prison for fraud. And in a sign that there is at least something left of the Republic, a judge has told the Fed that just because it pretends to not be part of the government doesn't mean it can ignore Freedom of Information requests. Soon we will know just which banks have been doing the most sucking at the Fed's massive teat.

This month's cover story at Wired is Why Craigslist Is Such a Mess. It's a bit longer than most of the articles I usually link to, but read the whole thing. Mamas, don't let your children grow up to be marketers. (If you read the whole thing, that will make at least some sort of sense.) With apologies to Ed, Patsy, Waylon and Willie of course:

I know I keep saying this and then end up doing a bunch of posting here, but other than a quick post tomorrow before I tear down our main system and pack it up, don't be surprised if things are quiet around these parts for a while.

two more days

Still no phone calls regarding a job in Florida or Alabama yet. If they call in the next couple days before we pick up our Penske truck, then we can change our destination for the truck. We would have more to do that way -- find a place to live number one -- but at least only one move with the big truck. After we moved in and I started my new job, then we could fly Ric back to Michigan and he would finish up the basics at my Mom's house with the basement and other things on his list.

I applied for a few other AAA travel agent positions in the last few days. I"m sure the most popular with the family and friends is the one in Honolulu Hawaii. :-)

We had a nice dinner out with a past coworker and her fiance tonight. It was great to sit around talking to someone besides ourselves. Yeah, yeah, I know ... we need to get out more and make some friends where ever we move. Tomorrow I am going out to lunch with another past coworker and then hopefully can see everyone I want to at the workplace to say my last goodbyes.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Quick Note before We Leave

We are getting ready to head out to Arcosanti, so I thought I'd just do a quick post. I just got off the phone after talking to a guy about getting broadband out to Debbie's mom's place. Our options are fairly limited; no cable, cell service is poor, DSL is likely not available. But he did find us some options that we will be looking into shortly after we get there. We even talked about pulling a T1 to the house and seeing if the neighbors would be willing to chip in to pay for it. There are six houses we could easily reach with wifi, but it would still be expensive. Once we are there, we'll get more serious about making something happen. At least we now have a sort-of plan in the sense of knowing what is absolutely off the table.

Couple quick things from the news sites this morning. Super-bearish (I like to call him realistic, but I'm a pessimist) economist Nouriel Roubini is expecting at best a couple years of bouncing along the bottom before there is any significant recovery, and sees a significant risk of a double-dip recession. The great thing about being a pessimist is that there really isn't a downside: if you plan for the worse, you will always be pleasantly surprised. Everyone might want to keep that in mind over the next six months or so.

Like Obama, hate Obama, indifferent about Obama, why hassle his kids? I was disgusted by the 24/7 coverage of his girls shortly after the inauguration with breathless coverage what brand of backpack they were carrying etc. I doubt any of those "reporters" would allow some creep to follow around their pre-pubescent daughters with a camera offering up a running critique of what brand of sneakers they wear or what cartoon character is on their backpack. Enough already: if you can't find anything more important to report, find another line of work.

Well, gotta go if we are going to get everything done today. Might have some pictures later.

So You Wanna be an IT Guy?

Walking Around in the Sun

We spent the day visiting a couple places that we've been meaning to get to the entire time we've lived in Arizona. Our first stop of the day was Watson Lake, a man-made reservoir in the Granite Dells. Like most reservoirs in the western US, it has a definite "bathtub ring" due to lower-than-normal water levels. The formations around the lake tend to form recognizable shapes when viewed from certain angles. Today we found a frog:


an elephant:


a monkey wearing goggles (Debbie couldn't see that one; it's probably just me):


an Easter Island head taking a nap (and looking like he's been spending too much time at the all-you-can-eat buffet):


someone mooning us:


And... well... um.... yea:


Anyway, it wasn't just us having fun with pareidolia; our camera tried to get into the act. I had to disable facial recognition because all the little green squares around rocks the camera thought were faces were driving me nuts. In any case, we had fun, got a little toasted in the sun, and got to spend some time in a really interesting place.

The second stop was Lynx Lake. We basically ate lunch at a small diner that is also a boat rental place and gift shop. We only had enough time after lunch to walk down to the docks and snap a few pics before the place was closing, but we had good company for lunch:


The restaurant has several large humming bird feeders hanging just outside the windows. These guys were only a couple feet from our table while we were eating:


All the climbing and walking pretty much did us in; we spent the rest of the day napping, reading and watching movies.

Tomorrow we plan to head out to Arcosanti for one last visit, then we are having dinner with one of the Debbie's former coworkers. Tuesday and Wednesday will probably be hectic with all the last-minute packing and cleaning, Thursday we load the truck, and Friday we hit the road for Michigan. We probably won't have a chance to post much until we get to Michigan, so it will likely be quiet here for a while.

And I'm off to bed before I fall asleep on the couch.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Biofuel, Native American Style

Leave it up to a Native American tribe to come up with a sensible approach to biofuels:
  • They plan to make bio-diesel, which is more efficient to produce than ethanol.
  • They are using algae instead of a food crop.
  • They are not converting cropland away from growing food crops.
  • The algae will be grown next to a natural gas power plant, a source of algae fertilizer (otherwise known as CO2).
  • A focus on long-term yet profit-driven planning. The two are not incompatible.

It will be interesting to see where this goes.

It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's a Frog!

OK, so the title doesn't have much to do with what I'm going to write about (other than identity confusion). But whenever I could get away with having the TV on early enough on Saturday, that was how my weekend started. And yes, I was sad little dork from a very early age.

Anyway, it seems that gender identification involves a bit more than a peek inside someone's undies. Of course, this raises a bigger question in this day of feminazis loudly proclaiming that anything a guy can do a woman can do better: Why do we still have athletics divided by gender? Especially in a sport like running that does not involve brute strength or physical contact between the participants? A woman can be a soldier in the Army and, we are repeatedly assured in the face of all the evidence and simple common sense, performs equally with her male counterparts in every possible way, yet we have an international stink about this? Why? Wouldn't it be simpler to just have one 800-meter and no one caring what your chromosomes or genitals look like?

Feel free to enlighten me.

Bank Failure Friday

It's Saturday morning, so that must mean it's time for an article about all the banks the feds seized yesterday. That makes 81 failures this year.

Perspective: from 1982 to 1992, which includes the S&L blow-up, banks were closing by the hundreds, so 81 failures seems like a return to normal failure rates after a decade and a half of deregulation and extremely lax enforcement. But what is different this time around is that part of that deregulation has resulted in a smaller number of much larger banks. The assets of the 1,000+ banks in the S&L clean-up totaled $519 billion. Not a shabby amount by anyone's accounting. But with just over 100 bank failures in 2008 and so far in 2009, the FDIC has already forked over $300 billion, and that doesn't include any of the bail-out money, which adds another trillion (conservatively) or two (more likely).

So where are we? Uncharted waters, mostly, which historically favors the fast and the small.

$9.1 Trillion

That's how much will be added to the federal debt over the next ten years. And we all know that deficit estimates are always, always, on the high side.... Does this even matter any more? At what point does the whole thing become some perverted game of Monopoly with the players grabbing any scrap of paper they can put their hands on, scribbling exponentially-larger numbers on them and claiming they have they most money?

Every government that has gone down this path has, without exception, crashed and burned. But I'm sure we won't because we're smarter than everyone else/God won't allow it if we just pray real hard/we have more guns than everyone else/insert whack-job response of your choice.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Cash for Clunkers, RIP

That didn't last long. I wonder if The One realizes that it will be far more difficult to cut-and-run when it's healthcare? I love this line from The One himself:
President Barack Obama said in an interview Thursday that the program has been "successful beyond anybody's imagination" but dealers were overwhelmed by the response of consumers. He pledged that dealers "will get their money."

Um, not quite. Car dealerships are for-profit entities whose continued existence depends on them being able to quickly and accurately complete large amounts of paperwork. It's the federal bureaucracy that has, once again, demonstrated its inability to do even the most simple task with anything that could be mistaken for competence. Dealerships fronted this money on behalf of the federal government in good faith and are now being screwed. Promises that they will be reimbursed sometime, maybe, doesn't cut it in an industry as cut-throat as new car sales.

Any doctors out there may want to take heed; you're next if The One gets his way.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Counting Down

One week left in Arizona. We have spent most of today changing addresses. Every time we move, we clean up the list; dropping off old companies and organizations that we no longer do business with, dumping magazine subscriptions we no long bother to read, etc. Then by the time we move, we've added more back onto the list than we got rid of. (sigh) Who are these people? Where do they come from? Ah well; we should have it more or less done by the end of the day. I had hoped to spend more time messing with Ruby and FOX, but that doesn't seem to be in the cards.

Had a weird one today: someone from another apartment whom we have never met came knocking on our door to ask to use our phone. We don't have a land line, so I just gave her my cell phone. She was trying to get something fixed on her cell phone, but her provider didn't want her calling on her own phone to report the problem. Huh? Do all cell phone companies assume that everyone with a cell phone also has a land line? That hasn't been true for us for years, and is likely not true for a growing number of people. I think someone needs to reconsider their procedures and move them a little closer to reality. It's one thing to have to use a neighbor's phone to report that your phone is dead-dead, but having to borrow a phone to report that some non-phone feature on your smart phone isn't working? That doesn't really make a lot of sense; I guess I'm not smart enough.

Packing is pretty much at a stand-still. There isn't much left that we won't need in the next week for doing the final cleaning on the apartment. Which means next Wednesday will be a busy day full of last-minute packing and cleaning. We are trying to get a couple people here Thursday afternoon to throw the last of the big stuff on the truck, then we roll out early Friday morning for Michigan. Obviously, we won't have much in the way of connectivity while on the road other than hotels along the way. Once in Michigan, we will start really getting serious on the high-speed connectivity problem at Debbie's mom's house. We may start with the cellular option, because that will be useful in a number of other contexts, and use the satellite as a last-ditch backup.

Well, need to get back at the address change thing. Woo. Hoo.

More on Health Care

In what will come as a surprise to no one, The One, the Obamessiah, Mr. Hope for Change (or something like that), is just another moral defective politician using Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt to enrich his buddies. And I'm sure there is a very lucrative "consulting" gig waiting for him when he is done playing POTUS.

Meanwhile, the same mental giants running the government that cannot handle a simple auto rebate want to run the entire health care industry. Yea. That's gonna work.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Best Car Ads of All Time

The full list is over at Wired, but my two favs are:

for the pure un-PC-ness of the thing and:

just because every geek loves a Rube Goldberg setup. Try reading computer code if you doubt me.

Photos are Loaded

It took all night, but the photos from the latest foray into Michigan are up on Flickr. Most of them were from Courtney and Joe's wedding. Many of the photos were shot at 3200 ISO so I wouldn't need the flash. I expected some graininess, but they are a bit more grainy than I would have thought. I'm sure if I would invest in some real photo editing software, I could do something about that, but for now, they is what they is.

I also started a new set to document what we are doing in Debbie's mom's basement. The "before" shots are actually after we had hauled about 20 yards of stuff out of the basement, removed all the warped paneling from the walls, removed all the water damaged drywall, repaired the boarded up basement windows, and re-stacked all the stuff stored down there at one end so we could get to at least part of the floor. In any case, this is what we started with:


And this is what things looked like at the end of Phase 1:


Phase 2 is to shift everything from the north end of the basement to the south end where the floor is already painted, finish painting the floor, then seal the block walls. That gets the stuff done that we have to kick Debbie's mom out of the house for (paint fumes do a number on her). Phase three is mud and tape the drywall, then skim-coat the whole mess to cover up the damage from peeling off the paneling. Given that neither of us knows what we are doing, we will probably go for some sort of textured "effect" rather than try to shoot for a smooth finish. Better to be able to tell people you meant for it to look like crap....

While we were there, Debbie got shots of her mom's flowers including some where the butterfly bush lives up to its name:



And that pretty much covers what we did while we were in Michigan.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Strange Day

I had no energy today, and eating dinner seems to have made it worse. I did manage to sort through the pile of photos on the camera, getting them organized, properly orientated, de-red-eyed and straightened. As I type this, they are uploading to Flickr. I'll probably post something here when they are done, which won't be until very late tonight. I ended up tossing about 90% of the pic's (gotta love digital), which still leaves around 200 11+ mega-pixel images over a crappy asymmetrical connection. Of course, I could be trying to do this on dial-up....

Debbie, on the other hand, was in full manic, Energizer-bunny bin-filling mode all day. Now there is a stack of full bins next to the door for me to take down to our storage room (if there is still space; there is a lot already down there). I had just enough energy to feel slightly guilty for sitting on the couch while she worked, but not enough to actually wedge my wide behind off the couch and help. There's always tomorrow.

It looks like we will be picking up a 26-foot Penske on Thursday, the 27th and will be rolling on out of Prescott on the 28th. The drive may take us longer going back to Michigan than the drive coming out here in December 2007 because we can't tow the Durango. Seems it is too heavy, which means instead of two drivers that can switch off, we will both be driving all day. We still expect to be in Burt by the 1st of September, which still gives us a full day to unload everything and get the truck dropped off. I expect someone will call with a job offer about 20 minutes after the truck is unloaded.

Anyway, that's the plan. Cue the monkey wrenches in 3... 2... 1....

Cost of Global Warming Hysteria

Take 40 minutes for a reality check.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Mistakes of Others

There are two kinds of people; those who learn from the mistakes of others and those who make the mistakes. Which group will the United States be in?

Monthly Geek Post

The monthly stats post is about a half-month late this month. We just didn't have time to mess with such things until we got back to AZ. Anyway.

Total visitors for the month: 290. This is about average for the last year or so. Based on the days and times that people visit, most of those 290 visitors were supposed to be working instead of reading blogs, but I'm sure the minor ding in GDP caused by people at working reading this site is insignificant compared to the huge dent caused by Facebook.

XP is still kicking Vista to the curb (69.7% vs. 19.7%). Now that the PC manufacturers have Win 7, I expect the Vista and XP numbers to both fall off a cliff over the next few months. Mac was at 5.2%, and Linux bringing up the rear at 2.4%. There were also three visits from the virus-breeders; 2 NT visits and one Win98. People have to be spoofing; no one still has a Win98 box connected to the internet, do they?

Firefox edged out MSIE (45.5% vs. 40.1%) when you combine the various versions in use. Firefox 2 disappeared, but there was a single hit from Firefox 1.0, probably from Joe Win98. Firefox 3.5 is now ahead of 3.0, which is sensible. MSIE 7.0 is still the most popular version of IE, but 8.0 is now well in front of 6.0. If you browse with IE, do yourself and the world a favor and upgrade to 8.0. It's good enough to even tempt me to quit using Firefox. Chrome 2.0 (7.9%), Netscape (2.8%) and Safari(1.7%) rounds out the major browsers.

(And yes, if you're anal and add up the percentages, they don't equal 100%. I left out several minor OS's and browsers.)

OK, enough of the pocket protector stuff. I need to get ready to take a drive. We will be making a library run today, then heading out to Arcosanti with stops at the Penske and Budget rental places on the way to get firm pricing, dates, etc. Then we start back on filling up bins. Woohoo!

Last Lazy Day

Today was our last day to just sit around not doing much of anything. Tomorrow, we arrange for a moving van and a trailer for the Durango, then throw what's left in the apartment into bins. We need to go to Arcosanti to visit with people there and maybe recruit a couple pairs of hands to help load the heavy stuff into the truck. Or maybe just grab someone from here in town, depending on what days are the cheapest for us to get a truck. In any case, the move is on and will likely be accelerating over the next few days. I'm done with Arizona; we know we are leaving and I just want to get back to Michigan so we can finish the work we left half-done there, then start trying to figure out what comes next.

For the entire history of the US, home ownership has been seen as a worthy thing; that renters are somehow not really citizens. We hear all the time that renting is just throwing away your money, while home ownership is some sort of investment. Our federal government has done a great deal since WWII to encourage home ownership; efforts that greatly accelerated over the last couple decades to the point that banks were giving half-million-dollar loans to people making less than $20,000 a year. It seems people are starting to wise up. A house is only an investment if you rent it out rather than live in it, or the government is creating real estate bubbles (which always end catastrophically, as everyone is now finding out). My favorite statistic in the article: "...42% of those who once purchased a home, but don't own one now, believe that they'll never own one again." After two houses that both nearly destroyed us financially and nearly cost us our marriage, I don't see us owning real estate of any kind for a very long time. Renting is so much more flexible (that whole "get fast, get small" thing I've been preaching for over a decade) and far less stressful, I can't imagine a circumstance that would have us owning a home.

While catching up on everything, I came across a couple good essays by Jerry Pournelle on the health care "reform" proposals floating around Congress and all the drama that surrounds them. As usual, he covers the issues more coherently than I probably could manage, but there are a couple points that I think need to be emphasized. First, there is no single Health Care Reform Bill; there are several proposals, all changing on a daily basis, and none that are actual bills before Congress. So any talk about what is or is not part of health care reform is mostly nonsense at this point. Second, even if there were a single bill being considered by Congress, that means very little, as we already saw with all the cloak-and-dagger BS with the stimulus package. And even if by some miracle, Congress manages to pass a concise, well-crafted piece of legislation, the bureaucrats will still make a hash of it. Third, I still don't see how a group that is incapable of running a simple, straight-forward rebate scam.. er... plan like Cash for Clunkers is going to somehow manage what is arguably the most-complex 15% of the US economy. I guess I just lack faith. Obama is The One; the Oracle's prophecy tells us.

I found catching up on Factor E Farm weblog to be interesting: consultations with the local Sheriff, false (and very public) accusations of sabotage, kicking people off the project, talk of outside mediators, people on the site becoming seriously ill from drinking water that runs off the roof and shitting in plastic buckets. As one commenter said, looks more like Arcosanti every day.

And it is now after 1am, and we have a full day tomorrow.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

74 and Counting

Maybe I should set up a betting pool (if there isn't one already) for people to guess how many banks will close in 2009 and on what day in 2009 that the FDIC becomes insolvent and requires a bailout from Congress.

Is this a green shoot?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Poor Neglected Blog

It is amazing how unmotivating it is to be stuck on a slow dial-up connection. It will take me several days to get caught up with everything that I have ignored over the last couple weeks. The good news is that with most of our internet time freed up, we got a fair amount of work done at Debbie's mom's place. It would have been nice to get even more done, but I'm happy with where things are at. As far as our current status, we are back "home" in Arizona, but not for long. Today and tomorrow are recovery days, then Monday morning we start the process of getting a truck and doing all the final packing. I'd love to be out of here in a week, but that may not be realistic. Ten days is probably more likely. In any case, we will be out of here sooner rather than later, and heading for Michigan with all our junk in a really big truck. Love that drive. At least this time, having to repeat the previous drive through an ice storm is less likely given that we will be moving in the middle of August.

I don't know if I will have the time to get to them, but we have over 1,800 photos on the camera that need to be sorted. Nearly all of them are from Courtney's wedding, but we also have some pictures of the work we are doing at Debbie's mom's house. We were too focused on getting started on the job, so the "before" pictures are actually what the basement looked like after a week of work. Even then, the difference that a little paint and drywall can make is pretty amazing. I think everyone will be rather pleased when it is completely done. It will certainly make the space more usable as living space rather than just a hole to pile stuff in. We hope. It will really suck if we go through all the work and money only to have a slightly nicer-looking hole to pile stuff in. I don't think that will be the result, but the possibility is there. When we get back to Michigan, we need to work pretty fast on a couple big things that will really make a visible difference, then we will have a list of smaller things that will make small improvements to the space. With just what I know needs to be done right now, we shouldn't have any problem keeping busy for a couple months if we keep working full-time on it.

Not much else at this point. I need to spend some serious time getting caught up in the next 36 hours so I can get way behind again. We still have no idea what we will be doing for high-speed internet. Cell phone coverage is weak on a good day, the house is too far from the phone switch for DSL, and the cable company won't run a wire for the last 1,000 feet unless about ten more people move in and build houses. We can go with satellite, but the price is a killer ($190/month for 3Mpbs vs. $51/month we pay now). Plus there are pretty serious bandwidth restrictions (only 500MB/day) with a 24-hour "recovery period" if you exceed them. That may or may not be a problem, but at that price, any restriction is unacceptable. Add in the latency of the 100,000 kilometer round trip and interruptions due to precipitation, and it is a very expensive solution that is inferior to what we have now. Far better than dial-up, to be sure, but much less than what we are used to. The problem is that I would like to try out a cellular solution, but the up-front cost and commitment is prohibitive given that it most likely won't work given current cell coverage. Ah well; we have about a week to figure something out.

Well, I'm not getting caught up sitting here typing on the blog, so I guess this is it for now.

Friday, August 14, 2009


We flew down to Birmingham Alabama Wednesday so I could interview with AAA for a travel agent position. I think it went well. One of the ladies I talked to on the phone said the people that had interviewed so far in the area were all corporate travel agents. She seemed excited that I was a leisure travel agent and also from another AAA. They won't be making a decision until the end of the month.

We are still plugging away at Mom's basement. We made pretty good headway in the time we have been here. Today we should finish up with the drywall we had to replace and Ric will work on the other downspout that is dumping water way too close to the basement walls. The dumpster got picked up yesterday and we did a great job filling it.

We fly out early morning tomorrow back to Phoenix. We talked last night and are kinda decided not to wait til the end of the month to finish packing and moving. We will call up Penske and see if they have a truck available shortly after we get there and just start finishing things up. We will plan on moving here to Michigan unless we get a phone call before we leave Arizona. Most of our stuff will stay packed up until the basement gets done, so if we have to move again soon it shouldn't be too much of a hardship (except money-wise). (Reminds me ... have to go buy a mega millions lottery ticket -- I think it is way up there --- hey, can't have a chance to win unless you buy one! LOL)

Happy Sweet 16

Happy Birthday Tevra!

Sorry we won't be seeing you this weekend. Hope you had a great birthday yesterday and have a good time this weekend.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Stiff and Sore in Burt, Michigan

Been a busy few days, and by the time we quit and eat dinner, blogging is that last thing on our minds. Not to mention the joys of a "56K" dial-up (more like 36K on a good day; talk about the biggest false advertising scam of the last 20 years...). Anyway, the 30 yard dumpster was delivered on Friday. At first glance, we decided that everything we needed to get rid of would fit without any problem. Now the dumpster is nearly 1/3 full and we've just managed to dig down to the floors and walls so we can start the actual work (taking down old paneling/drywall/insulation that has gotten wet from leaks) that we got the dumpster for. We should still be OK, but there will definitely be a lot less margin that we originally thought.

At least the scavengers are doing their part. Every day, we line the side of the road with stuff, and by morning, most of it is gone. I'd forgotten about the "garbage picking" phenomenon. Although, I just peeked out the window and it doesn't look like anything was taken last night. Maybe we've saturated the local market for "used" household items.

Today is the last of the "killer" days for hauling stuff out of the basement. We have both pieces of the old water softener (one of which is full to the top with salt that has hardened into a solid chunk), and the old hot water heater. That's it for big/bulky/heavy stuff for a day or two. Once we have those out of the basement, we will start tearing down the old paneling so we can start assessing water damage from the broken windows and water leaks. And we are going to get all that done by Thursday night. Woohoo!

We should find out today about another job lead in Birmingham, Alabama. We may be doing a one-day down-and-back depending on what Debbie finds out today. If we get really, really lucky, the timing will be perfect that we will be doing that during the 24-hour drying time for the basement floor so we won't be losing a work day. This one sounds promising, but so have several of the others. I'm just assuming that it will fall through like all the rest and we will just be $1,000 poorer after air fare and car rental. (Aside: in a day when I can literally do anything online from watch movies to pay bills to sell a used car, what is the deal with companies that insist on a face-to-face interview so early in the process?)

Well, that's pretty much it for us. Not much else to report on our end. We'll try to post updates when we can.