Jerkface MacGuyver defeated again

As long-time readers may recall, La Casa de Tontería (aka The House of Nonsense) suffers from the evil machinations of a builder known only as Jerkface MacGuyver. He’s the mastermind behind an unlicensed electrical line to the shed of doom, collapsible shelves, and other adventures in homeownership.

The toilet in the powder room wasn’t holding its alcohol water, so I bought a new toilet flapper valve for the powder room. Unfortunately, the overflow tube looked nothing like a normal tube. In fact, it had a long pointy plastic “tower” rising through the center. (For a normal view, see here and click on the image to the right.)

I returned the flapper and bought a complete replacement kit.

Baby Bro was planning a visit and our father (aka The Old Man) insisted I get his help moving the tank.   He quickly took over the project when it became clear that MacGuyver had struck again.  How? The tank had an extra hole plugged with caulk which Baby Bro easily removed.

Baby Bro took photos and sent them to The Old Man. The consultation was lengthy only because they were amazed by MacGuyver’s handiwork. (And not in an admiring way.) Honestly, is there any other licensed builder who consistently finds factory rejects and second-hand parts and says, “Oh, this will do nicely”?!?

Even the handle needed replacing because the flush lever had no holes for the pull-chain.

Happily I can reveal that the toilet flushes and fills properly. Now I am one step closer to a functioning home.

 

Writing: Your Mileage May Vary

According to experienced writers of my acquaintance, writing a free-form draft of a short story takes an hour and a half, on average.

I wrote for five hours. I took a tea break and a false-alarm break. The latter found me nervously checking for a wild animal just outside the screen door. (No, thank God! I couldn’t see it, but there was a raccoon growling at something. Raccoons have a distinctive sound.)

Anyway, I guess the time estimate fell short because the advisors are experienced both with writing drafts and meeting deadlines (several are published). So as with any writing advice, your mileage may vary.

I typed 2,435 words. However, that number includes asides like “Look up climate of coast.”

I woke up this morning with the realization that a character mentioned in passing is more important than the supporting character who was so enjoyable to write. So revisions will ensue.

 

DIY Writer’s Retreat 2017

This summer has been exceptionally bogged down in minutiae like tearing out an overgrown patch garden and preparing for a very different work environment at The Young Human Factory. I despaired of having a block of undisturbed time to be alone and writing. Plus, I decided to go rewrite the first draft of my novel – and made it worse.

However, I have found the time to do a three-day, self-directed Writer’s Retreat. It started this morning. Continue reading

Yes, Emily, There Is Hypocrisy

One of my faithful readers (and oldest friends) knows that I dislike when children misuse the word “hypocrisy”. For example, a young man who was falling deeper into drugs informed me that his father couldn’t say anything to him “because he used to smoke pot”.

I eventually convinced him that someone who quit drugs was not a hypocrite. The key to enlightenment was the Beastie Boys’ Fight For Your Right with its key phrase “That hypocrite smokes two packs a day.”

But this op-ed was by a grown woman at the New Republic, of all media. Emily Atkin wrote Al Gore’s Carbon Footprint Doesn’t Matter

The key phrase is “climate change advocates who don’t live a carbon-neutral lifestyle aren’t hypocrites because, FOR THE MOST PART, they’re not asking you to live a carbon-neutral lifestyle. They’re asking governments, utilities, energy companies, and large corporations to increase their use of renewable energy so that you can continue to live your life as you please, without contributing to global warming.”
Continue reading

Greatest Rummage Sale Ever

Today was the drop-off day for our church rummage sale. Greatest rummage sale ever! Nothing is tagged; people just bring items to the cashiers and make an offer.

Can someone lowball and sell an item later online for a much higher price? Sure, but who cares?

The needy get what they need, the Ladies Guild raises funds for the parish, and no one can tell the difference between the poor and the thrifty.

During my second drop-off (don’t judge me!), I told one of the ladies how great it was that there are no tags. She got a gleeful smile and told me that many years ago, another group ran the sale and would spend hours tagging everything. But when the Ladies Guild took it over and let the buyers set the prices, the sale doubled in earnings.

That’s including the final hours, when it’s two dollars a bag. She told me a very funny  story – complete with pantomime – about fitting an electric typewriter into a plastic grocery bag for an astonished customer.


If you’re wondering where I’ve been for months, I’ve been luxuriating in an exhilarating bath of stress. No, the Young Human Factory hasn’t laid me off or closed.  Yes, the Old Man and His Better Half (aka my parents) are alive and kicking. The brothers are fine and the sobrinos aren’t suffering from anything they didn’t bring on themselves.

It’s just a little slice of change here, a smidgeon of inconvenient timing there, a trio of groundpiggies under my shed, and voila! le stress. (Seriously, “stress” in French is “le stress”.  In Spanish we know that it needs another syllable and some emphasis because it’s just that bad: el estrés.)

The Triumph of Trash Day

I came home Friday after a long day at The Young Human Factory and saw something beautiful – an empty garbage can on my neighbor’s lawn. Oh, happy day! All but one garbage bag and various loose debris have been cleared.

I haven’t blogged about him because, frankly, it’s a depressing situation. The family next door let their house let the bank foreclose. The bank removed the wood stove and put on a new roof, then sold it fast and cheap. ( So fast that when my parents called the bank, it was already a done deal.)

For the past two years, the “new” neighbor has been letting it fall apart. Continue reading

Soliciting indentured servants

This is probably an American-centric rant, so feel free to ignore.

In January I started getting credit card applications in the mail. They weren’t from my bank** nor from stores from which I’ve made purchases.  These are strictly third-party creditors who have no relationship to me.

The amounts are staggering! A ten thousand dollar credit line?!?  Worse, most of these applications offered a balance transfer with a limited-time low interest rate before bouncing up to 13.99% APR.

So let’s say that the new chump cardholder (NOT me) transfers the debt and during the grace period gets the principal down to $6000 (rounding up the average debt in my state). Thereafter he or she sets $200 as the monthly payment. Using a debt calculator, I figured that it takes 38 months to pay off the debt. So the cardholder paid $7,600 overall.

It’s worse for someone who maxes out the card. For a $10K debt at the same payment schedule, the poor sap is in debt for more than six years and pays $5,200 in interest.


Related links

  • Federal Trade Commission information on opting out. Unfortunately, the permanent opt-out process takes one to a non-government secure site and requires one’s personal info including Social Security number.
  • The American Center for Credit Information’s advice if a unsolicited card (not just application) arrives in your mailbox.
  • Feed the Pig’s 4-Week Financial Fitness Challenge

**I cancelled its card after it was compromised and the thief racked up $250 in make-up in Ann Arbor by an international student. Probably the same one who stole my friend’s card information, as she had a similar problem with repeated cash withdrawals in Turkey – with her bank’s permission, despite her noticing the first withdrawal and asking for a hold on her account.