Personal posts

Government Shutdown: 2018 Edition

The last time the government shutdown, it was over healthcare. I was out of work for 16 days unpaid because I was a contractor and when my employer can’t bill, I can’t get paid.

I attended a first 100 event at Chick Fil-A and talked to a lot of people struggling.

There were parents which were not sure how their family would eat with both of then out of work since they were government contractors.

There was so much fear and desperation about making mortgage payments and student loans.

And no end in sight to the shutdown.

This time around, I still work for the government. Still as a contractor. Under the same Department though a different branch of it. There’s one huge difference.

I am going to get paid through it. I am going to be able to work. I will be making my mortgage payment and keeping my power on.

I will be OK.

But I know there will be thousands of families who will not. Thousands will be missing payments or making decisions about food or utilities.

Thousands of businesses that rely on government workers to stay open. Restaurants. Convenience stores.

Anything around the Capitol…

This shutdown, if it drags from week to week will cost some families everything.

The price tag for the 2013 government shutdown was about $1.6 billion a week, $300 million a day, or $12.5 million an hour.

The government is more divided than ever. The stakes are the health of children.

The task is clear.

Work together to compromise.
Work on a budget for the year.
You have no other concerns.
You’ve managed that by mismanagement.

Fund the government.
Don’t make us worry every month whether we will get paid.

Your constituents want you to do your job.
And you have all failed.

536 people.

They hold the lives of hundreds of millions of people in their hands.

Please do the right thing and work together to fund the government. There’s room for everyone to get what they want.

Frozen Pipes and Freak Outs

Today started normally enough. I had a plan for my day and I was excited to take it easy. I got out of bed when my alarm went off at 8am and I got moving and ready to enjoy my morning until work in two hours.

I got out of bed, stumbled into the bathroom… and that’s where my plan changed.

I turned on the hot water tap and nothing happened. No water came out. I turned on the cold water. That worked. Shut it off, turned on the hot again and… nothing.

I got up and went downstairs. The same situation in every room with a faucet. No hot water anywhere in the house. Just disappointment and a bit of panic.

After some searching online, we turned on the faucets a quarter turn. Annie crawled under the house (since I can’t fit down there) and didn’t see anything amiss. Not that either of us know what a frozen pipe looks like.

You want me to go where?

We turned the temperature up on the water heater which was another step we found online. Which may have been our undoing. A bit later, we were staring at a hot water heater spewing steam! The faucets in our bathroom and kitchen started gushing hot water so we fixed the blockage! The leak was was behind the heater, in the small closet where it lives so we couldn’t get behind it to get a better look. So we couldn’t tell where it had broken or which pipe had the hole.

I turned off the power to the water heater (and furnace) with the switch there and cut the water into the hot water heater. And eventually the steam and water stopped.

I went out front to find the water main shut off for the house and located it, but was unable to turn off the main due to the cold or the valve not being turned in years or ???? My wife called a plumber and we got an appointment for the same day.

Thankfully turning off the water to the water heater stopped the steam and leak.

The plumber showed up about 45 minutes after we called and I gave him the back story (including the turning up the water heater part since I’m a firm believer in admitting to the stupid things I did so the plumber knows what he’s dealing with).

He was very nice and helpful and located where the leak was quickly. Unfortunately it was under the house in the crawl space. So he got to crawl down there over the plastic and gravel and into the small pond that formed under the house.

He was able to find the leak and patch the pipe leading from the water heater to the rest of the house.

All in all, we were back in business by about 1:30pm. We had hot water. We did not have a steam room.

I called two companies that offered quotes on insulating the crawl space and booked appointments with them for later this month. However, since the cold is still here, it was time for my new favorite store!

I went to Home Depot to get insulation for the pipes along with some other winter items (ice melt, work gloves, tarps).

I got home and awaited my wife’s return. Since unfortunately due to the size of the opening to the our crawl space, I’m not sure I could get down there (and back out again). So my wife had the unenviable job of crawling under the house and wrapping the insulation around the pipes down there. She also sopped up most of the water with towels.

She got home, bundled up and crawled under the house like a champ and insulated the pipes where we had the problem today so hopefully we don’t have a repeat performance.

My wife victoriously emerging from the crawl space.

The cover to our crawl space is plexiglass with Velcro to keep it on and I found it sitting in the yard this morning. We made it through the coldest part of winter thus far without any mishaps. Today, it’s my best guess that the cover blew off and the cold air got into the crawl space and cooled it enough to freeze part of the pipe and it was weak enough to rupture.

Now we have glorious hot water throughout our house (but not in or through the house). It has been a very exciting day as a homeowner but overall it was a minor repair and not nearly as bad as it could have been.

Two Americas

Henry Rollins: White America Couldn’t Handle What Black America Deals With Every Day

I’m an educated, Caucasian, heterosexual male. Does this ensure I will have success and live the American Dream? Obviously it doesn’t, but it damn sure drops me on second base with a great opportunity to steal third.

Rollins talks about going out to eat after a show.

This is when I understood one of the reasons for the visible display of wealth. My whiteness assured them that I could pay for my meal. Ice-T and his guys had to demonstrate their ability to pay by literally wearing a show of wealth.

I think about this a lot.

Stability Shutdown

I remember when government work was stable. My parents told me about working for the government in glowing terms. The stability. The good pay and benefits.

But I am a contractor for the government. The pay is good. The benefits are all over the place and there’s a threat of shutdown almost every year.

The last time was 2014. I got a nice unpaid vacation for 21 days. In 2015 it almost happened again. And tonight I got to enjoy the same stress. Only this time they settled it on Thursday instead of midnight Friday.

Each time they do the bare minimum. The government is funded… Until Jan 21st. The Democrats didn’t want to be seen as the cause of the shutdown which the Republicans would have tried to pin squarely on them. So the Senate voted to help the GOP out and keep working.

Not that any of them are going to work. They get to go on vacation. While I get to finish mine with a job to come back to. And hope we don’t go through this all over again next month.

Morning Walks

I am a night owl. I appreciate the cool night air and appreciate the night’s symphony of insects, sirens and trees swaying. I’ve loved the night for as long as I can remember but I have a new love. Mornings.

Not early mornings. I am not rising with the roosters and greetings the earth before the sun rises. I have a work schedule the begins at 10am so I have used the time where I’d normally be getting up and ready for work to go on walks. I’m grateful to live within a few minute drive of a wonderful park with a huge lake. I’ve started walking the trails in the morning. Sometimes armed with a camera, headphones and an audio book. Other times just the camera and the sounds of nature around me and the city in the distance.

Every morning I walk the trails I’m delighted by what I find. The small gifts nature provides if you’re aware and looking for them. I saw a huge black spider sitting on a tree near where I stopped to marvel at the web of another arachnid. It darted away into the tree trunk and the safety of its web before I was able to take its picture. But I did get some of another one sitting on its web. Waiting for a meal.

Spider web near Lake Needwood.

One morning I was greeted by a large bird and two turtles sunning themselves on a log at the water’s edge. I was able to creep down the hill and get a couple of pictures before the turtles wised up and scurried off, disappearing with twin splashes. The bird (an egret? a heron? I can never remember.) decided to give me a few more steps before taking off for an inaccessible shoreline.

Bees sitting on a thistle flower.