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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.


ArtemisArtemis by Andy Weir
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I listened to the audio book read by Rosario Dawson.

It’s not The Martian. And that’s a good thing. Artemis is its own story in its own world. it takes place in the moon. There’s a city there in a series of bubbles.

We follow Jazz and what she gets up to and it’s a wonderful story. Not a deep cerebral novel, but a fun adventurous read about life on the moon.

I enjoyed the story and Rosario’s narration and choice of voices. I like the worlds Andy Weir creates and I want to keep living in them.

View all my reviews

The First Rule about this book

Fight ClubFight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fight Club is another “book that became a movie I loved but I’ve never read the book” so I got to it this year. I listened to the audio book and thoroughly enjoyed it. I never did catch where the “I am Joe’s ____” came from until now.

I enjoyed the story and the slow build up to the realization of who Tyler really is.

I didn’t know there was a Fight Club 2 graphic novel until today, so I’ve added that to the to-read pile too.

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Upside Down Fire

This winter has been brutally cold and I’ve made fires almost every night. I have built fires wrong for years. There is a better way to build a fire and have it burn longer and require less fussing. The upside down fire. Sid O’Neill enlightened me to the benefits of this fire-construction method and my life is greatly improved because of it.

Before learning about the upside down fire, I was putting the small kindling and paper on the bottom, then piling larger sticks and small logs on top of them. Then laying the largest wood on the top. Instead, I’ve built the fire upside down.

Start with the large logs on the bottom. Pack them in and make a layer of large wood without gaps between the logs. Then lay smaller on top of them. Finally, put the smaller sticks, kindling and some paper or fire starter on the very top. Then light the fire from the top instead of the bottom.

This allows the small bits to catch and burn first, then as they burn and the heat builds, the larger logs heat up and start to burn. The fire will burn for a long time without the need for any more work.

You must be patient because the fire will take longer to really get going. It can take 15-20 minutes before the embers get hot enough to ignite your larger logs but once they get going, sit back and enjoy the heat.

I won’t build a fire any other way. I like the setting it up, lighting it, then enjoying hours of heat. It’s been a much-appreciated addition to my winter as I go through less wood with each fire and the fire burns down to almost nothing if I let it go long enough.

The upside down fire is also excellent for camping and wood stoves. Tim Ferriss also wrote about building an upside down fire and its benefits.

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