Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Last Day of August

We decided to send our kids to Parochial school because I'm not cut out to do home schooling with the kids, and they just aren't cut out for online schooling.  It wasn't an easy decision.  Besides spending money, we are worried about the COVID-19 risk.   



First day of School

While we are in the Wear a Mask, Social Distance and Shelter at Home if Possible camp, we aren't as extreme as some people.  When I go for a run, I don't wear a mask because I figure it's easier to maneuver away from someone than to run in a mask.   History, please don't hate me.

In between job hunting, I've been using this time to work on projects around the house, both big and small.  It feels like every project or endeavor I started this month was not capable of completion, though through no fault of my own.  

I cracked a tooth, and the permanent crown won't be ready until Sept 8th.  I went to get a broken cabinet door replaced, and it will not arrive before Sept 11th if I am lucky.Even my guilty pleasure YA show The 100 is in hiatus until September 9th.  

I guess that's not entirely true since I did repair and replace some of the door stopper pads in the upstairs bedrooms.  Moose and Squirrel broke the one in the middle bedroom so I had to first patch it. 

It looks better once it dried

This particular wall is apparently original plaster so I had to do two waves.  The first was just putting enough patching compound to form a base.  Because there wasn't much to adhere to, it took longer for the quick dry compound to dry.  As luck would have it, I didn't have any styrofoam or other material I could squeeze in there (though ironically once this project was done, we got more Amazon packages).  

We never had one in the Master Bedroom presumable because adults are good at not slamming doors.  So I slapped one on there.  I also bought a spare for the back bedroom since it's only a matter of time before Moose and Squirrel break that one too.


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Tuesday, August 25, 2020

How I've spent my summer

 It’s been 2 months since I was told I was being let go at Big Audit.  In that time a few minor setbacks cropped up that can be magnified by the whole losing your job thing if you let it.  My iPad screen cracked that first week or so.  My tooth cracked last week.  It feels like a few other things have occurred. 


 Oh and the electrical in our basement is acting wonky.  A couple Sundays ago, the power went out, but just to the basement.  The electrician I worked with was out of town so I did some googling.  I started flipping breakers until I identified the one for the basement (lucky number  13) and that brought power back, but only momentarily.  It kept tripping.  When they finally were able to fit me in their schedule, they came over to troubleshoot.   Seems like disconnecting the printer helped, but not completely.  As a short term solution they replaced the breaker.  It seemed to work.  I even reconnected the printer and everything was fine.  Until Saturday.  I think our cleaning lady tripped the breaker again when she vacuumed.  I’ve relocated the printer to the dining room and everything is fine for now, but I know this is a short term solution.  Just when I fixed one issue with the house, another one cropped up.


 I’m not sure why it is all of a sudden a problem.  The printer had been running down there for years, even before the electrical project.  I did add a roku, and apple TV and a NETGEAR FVS318 ProSafe VPN Firewall 8 with 8-Port 10/100 Switch, but I doubt any of those draw enough power especially when passive.  Michal said it might have to do with how humidity affects some of the remaining tube and knob wiring that is within our walls.  We had a Derecho the week before the power outage and he said that might have built up some additional humidity issues.   He later said that I have too many outlets and lights connected to one line.  I think they were in a hurry to get to their next project and didn’t want to take this one on yet.


 Just before we got the news, Nightingale and I hired a baby sitter to watch our kids while we worked.  We learned quickly that both of us WFH was not working well.  Often times we both had to be on calls and that left Moose and Squirrel free to run around and cause trouble.  And sharing an office was not working out either.  

Even after getting the news, we decided we could still afford to keep The Baby Sitter and I could use the help to work on projects around the house, run critical errands, and job hunt.  On that last point,  I want to point out that job hunting during normal times can be slow.  Each time I’ve been between jobs, it’s taken several weeks to several months before I was brought on just because of the byzantine processes of Corporate America.  During a Pandemic, jobs are even harder to come by, especially for someone who specializes in a particular DM software solution.


I did manage to get the basement painted.  I used an old 5 gallon bucket of ceiling paint that I had bought for my condo in 2003 and never used.   I wouldn’t use this for a real project but it was suitable for covering up the smudges getting the ceiling and walls  one uniform color of white (more or less). 

 I feel like I accomplished some other projects but I just cannot think of them right now.  




 

 

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Thursday, August 13, 2020

Tethered to a phone

 While I'm not sure of the exact date, I filed for unemployment over a month and a half ago.  In fact, I have two paychecks waiting for me.  Unfortunately I have not received the prepaid debit card Illinois is using.  I thought a card would be easier than direct deposits because of my trust issues.

The 3rd party company that does the cards for IDES shows that they haven't received my information from IDES yet and to please check with my state agency.  

I have a call into IDES about this and I am at the end of week two waiting for a callback.  I have to keep my phone with me at all times because if I miss the call, it's not like I can call them right back.  And even though their recorded message says it will come from the number I dialed, there is a slight chance it could come from another one.  So I have been answering almost all calls. 

This is annoying.  It shouldn't take this long.  And yes, I could probably select the Lost/Stolen card option or switch to direct deposit.  But I'm worried about the money that is already there.  Will I eventually get it...I assume so.  How long will it take and do I want to go through extra gymnastics of setting up DD or getting a new card.  I mean given how solid the system is so far, what could go wrong!


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Wednesday, July 22, 2020

thank you for coming to my Ted Talk

right now there are two loudest camps -- the wear a mask (always) Camp and the masks don't help much, if at all Camp -- but there are other camps in-between.


I wear a mask in the store and if a repair person comes over, but when walking outside I often do not and simply keep my distance from others. My family has sheltered at home from the beginning and we do interact with some other people who have done the same (sans masks).

I'm not going sit in a crowded restaurant, or beach. However, I will go for a walk and if I pass someone without a mask or don't have mine, I'll move as far and quickly away as possible. Certainly not gonna stop and chat with anyone at length.

When this first began, I was reminded of the Y2K scare and how IT professionals had to embellish the risks to get everyone's attention. I think there has been a little bit of (necessary) theatre not to intentionally mislead but to get people to take this more seriously. Because humans need simple messages, ie "don't do this all the time" versus "don't do this unless condition#1, Condition#2, etc".

There is still a lot we don't know about COVID-19 and as we learn, we must adapt.

To be clear, I am taking this seriously and believe we should have started with a "play it safe" and "do no harm to others" approach and are sorely lacking consistent, nonpartisan leadership.
thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.

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Friday, July 17, 2020

Knocked another item on our Get The House Ready to Sell List

When we bought this house our inspector told us that we had a couple of problems with the electrical.  First problem was the feed was over the deck, which is absolutely against code.  Like it was never okay and there is no grandfather clause for that one.

Second, the electric panel in the basement was also not up to code.  It was using something called 'Cheaters' which allowed a 200 amp service to work with a 100 amp panel.  At least that is how it was explained to me.  It was also explained that this is fine in most parts of the country but not in Cook County.  Yay government oversight! 

We asked the owner to address it and he reluctantly gave us some money to take care of it.  I was prepared to walk away because this is a legitimate get out of contract free card issue.  But the respective realtors wanted their money after spending so much effort finding us a home and marketing his, so they convinced him to give us a credit.   Of course the standard way of determining how much money is by getting three of your electrician friends to give you lowball quotes and you take the average.  You will never find an electrician who will do the work for that price. 

Can you picture Boris hitting this with a rake?

I've been getting quotes for years from electricians who would do the panel and the move and upgrade the service (I wasn't sure if we had a 200 Amp service but it appears we do) and they all came in around $3K. 

Honestly, I don't remember how much was given but now that I think about it, it might have been more generous than I remember.

I got the panel taken care of in 2017, or was it 2018, via an Angie's list deal for about $800, IIRC.  But the electrician kept upping the price to move the feed because there are only so many good spots to put it and putting it in the best exterior location might have meant moving the panel which is a lot of work. 


When COVID-19 derailed our plans to list the house and move south, I decided it was time to fix this issue so that I wouldn't have to give the next buyer a credit for this.  I'm likely gonna have to give them a credit for something else, because there is always something else, so this helps.  Plus Boris was walking up the stairs once with an outstretched rake in his arms and although he's too short to reach the power line now...it's only a matter of time before we have fried Moose.


I got a couple of quotes and found someone I liked.  He figured out a way to move the line with minimal impact and without having to do some of the destructive things other electricians threatened.  He also consulted with ComEd to verify that it was up to code and best practices and we got their blessing so yay!



He came in April to give the estimate and I was honest and said I wanted to do this but couldn't pull the trigger at that moment because i had other projects in-flight but wanted to get this going before summer ended.  He was very accomodating and not pushy at all.


Ironically, once I was able to get to this, we had issues with weather.  May was rather rainy and we kept having to reschedule.  We pushed it out to the first Thursday in June but then Nightingale had us join the Adamas on a lakehouse vacation.  We were going to have him do the work anyway with my mom here to reach out if there  were any problems but my spidey sense said not to do that.  So I cancelled 11th hour and reschedule for the following week.  Between his schedule and the weather, we got it done on Friday, June 12th.  It was a good thing I rescheduled too because there was a slight misunderstanding in where they would put the new feed and by being there, they were able to rethink it on the fly. 

It cost $2500 and I do like how it came out.  I'm worried that if we stay here, we'll someday put an addition on the house and that will mean this was for naught but what can you do.

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Wednesday, July 8, 2020

What are the odds

In the summer of 1988, I worked at PPSB as a telephone solicitor.  I sold crummy magazine subscriptions to people.  I got the only job an experienced no-talent, not connected 19 yr old could get.

As you might imagine, a job like that has a revolving door of people.  I started with a guy named Alex who lived not to far away.  A couple of times we'd go to his place for lunch and have a few drinks to make our afternoons a little more pleasant.  He was a much heavier drinker than I, Cutty Sark being his drink of choice.  We really only did this two or three times before he got fired for being late or something.

Besides Alex, I can only remember a few others from that job.  There was Melissa who went to Northern University and was home for the summer.  She had  real boyfriend somewhere but hooked up with Alex to pass the time.  She lived within walking distance of the building.  Melissa was, as we'd say, good on the phones. 

Then there was Connie, who also was good at the phones.  She wasn't as comely as Melissa but had a steady live-in boyfriend.  She lived somewhere on Belmont, just west of the blue line station. 

Another girl named Marie was planning to go to medical school.   Connie, Marie and I went to Medussa's one night.  It was probably the only time any of us did anything outside of work.

Finally there was Kristen.  She split her time between San Diego and Chicago after her parent's divorce.  I had a crush on her but didn't do anything about it.



I've run into Melissa once since then.  I was walking somewhere downtown and she was outside her office building, presumable having a smoke.  She recognized me before I realized how I knew her.  She had also put some on weight which made me uncertain if it was her.

I've run into Connie and Marie probably twice as well.  Connie was my waitress one time at a bar & grill in the late 90s or early noughties.  Another time I was on a date and Marie and someone were sitting at the table next to me. 

I've run into Kirsten twice as well, both times at bars.  Once in the mid-90s and once in the early noughts.  Neither time was she willing to give me her number.

Clearly none of us made enough of an impression on one another to stay in touch in any way.  I have a vague memory of calling Marie once to see what she was up to, but again it didn't grow organically.

My point is, assuming everyone was always in Chicago during these 32 years, what are the odds that we would run into one another so seldom as we have?  I'll come back to that.

In 2008 I was in Krakow and I ran into Kimberly Chulis in the town square.  now we knew we were each going to be in Poland at the same time but had no plans to meet up.  In fact, if I had taken longer to get ready that day or she and her mom had lingered at breakfast, we might not have bumped into each other when we did.

My argument is that it is more unlikely for Kimberly and me to bump into each other than Alex, Melissa, Marie, Connie and Kristen not to run into each other in a longer time span, yet here we are. 


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Thursday, June 11, 2020

My attempt at a perfect BLT

While on quasi-vacation last week, I attempted to make a BLT that was more than just slapping Bacon, Lettice, and Tomato on bread.


We had already baked a bunch of bacon for breakfast with the idea that we would use the rest for BLTs.  The only problem with this is first, people pick at the bacon all day long, especially if it is out.  And second, we kept forgetting to get tomatoes from the store.



I should note that this was on the second to last day of our holiday and the only bread available was sourdough bread.  We also had a toaster oven instead of a regular toaster.  So I decided to try something different.  




First I buttered one side of each slice of bread.  Then I put this in the toaster oven for the default toast setting.  When it was done I put mayonnaise on the nonbuttered side, added the bacon, lettuce, and had to use avocado in lieu of tomato slices.







Overall it was rather yummy and a good first attempt.  Next time I either need a thicker cut of bread or not toast as long.

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