Sunday, April 30, 2017

An Unexpected Detour

I had not intended to be here.

This morning I woke up, fully intending and prepared to attend church this morning.  But we had an alarm - a power failure at my work facility.  Someone always has to go check those when they happen.  Someone named TB.

That is fine, I thought.  I will go there, check it out, come home, and still be on my way to church in plenty of time. 

So I went and sure enough, the power had kicked back on by the time I got there.  I walked around and made sure all the units were on and the generator was in cool down mode.  Feeling accomplished, I sent out the results of my find, returned home, and started getting ready for church.

Just as I was turning into the driveway for church, another alert.  One of the units had lost communication.  Sigh.

I waffled - for a moment - about what to do.  Surely an hour would not affect anything.  And waffled some more.  And realized that it was part of my job to check such things - so I made a long loop and came back out to work. 

Sure enough, a breaker was tripped when the second power event occurred.  A - 80 C Freezer, which typically has pretty valuable and hard to replace samples in it.  Found the breaker, restarted the unit, and am now watching it to make sure it comes back on line.

Now, I am somewhat glad that I came in.  The unit lost approximately 5 C over the 30 minutes it was down.  Add another 1.5 hours to that for church, and that is a loss of 20 C - not completely a loss, but certainly a lot more difficult to return from and a lot less time to figure out other options.

But I am bothered.  I intended to go to church - in fact, I probably needed very much (for my soul's sake) to be here.  But instead I was confronted with this situation that needed to be resolved, which is my responsibility.

Understand, I do not in any way think my salvation hinges on a single missed attendance from church.  What bothers me is that I intended to do something spiritual and instead find myself doing something practical.

There is a lesson here - I believe that there are no coincidences and that this event was surely allowed to occur.  My concern is that there was or is something I am supposed to be taking away from this, something important - much more than simply watching a unit come back into line.

Friday, April 28, 2017

On Turning 50

So yesterday I turned 50.

Rather a significant sounding accomplishment, for something that really only constitutes simply being alive:  I have lived in two millennia, two centuries, and six decades.  Yeah, that makes me sound old.

For some reason this one has bothered me more than the others.  I am not sure why - I do not feel particularly less physically fit than usual and my health is good.  It was just a mental thing, but it was burden on my mind.

Then I realized it has nothing to do with me at all. It had more to do with my oldest daughter graduating from high school.  That single event makes me feel old - not because of anything I have done but because 18 is the great dividing a line in our society between children and adulthood.  The starting of someone's life - especially someone that you have known literally their whole life - makes the passage of time seem all the more daunting.

But my maundering about it will not change anything at all. 50 is here, whether I wish it or not.  And is some ways it is not very bad at all.

Happy birthday to me.


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Looking Ahead

So one of the more interesting things, now that we have a daughter bound for college, is that we are entering a new life phase.  Not just watching them all fly off - which will happen (one way or the other) over the next decade.  It is also the realization that with that and other situations, our life will change somewhat dramatically.

The question is, how do we manage that change?

If you are wondering what the plan is (so glad you asked), I am working on a number of assumptions which may or may not be true (but frankly, I cannot plan for the End of Civilization War that may or may not start tomorrow or next week or never):

1) The locale in which we are currently living will rapidly price us out of the market to live here.  Just on the property tax assessment alone will mean at 45% increase (if the average holds true).  Add to that all the other costs of living in an urban area and suddenly "long term" becomes a meaningless phrase

(The Ravishing Mrs. TB and I were talking about this the other night.  We are both ready to move:  She because of the traffic and crowdedness, I because of the traffic and cost and people. Frankly, I am not 24 anymore:  paying for the privilege of living in "A Cool City" is not really attractive).

2)  This leaves us with two choices: either to relocate to another large urban area (because that is where the jobs in my industry are) or figure out a way to make do on a vastly reduced income.

That is a hard truth, but it is truth.  Or it could happen a third way:  laid off again with no job to be found.  I am starting to reach the point where, due to my oncoming age, this is a real possibility.

(It has happened to The Ravishing Mrs. TB's manager's husband:  20 years with a company, laid off, and now cannot find a job in the high tech industry.  He is battling an age barrier (mine or almost there) and the fact that he does not have a college degree in IT because he started before there was such a thing.  His only job offer was a job paying half of what he previously earned.  Sobering stuff.)

So hard and true - but this can be planned for and managed.

3)  The world will be very different.  I am not sure how (even I cannot pierce that veil) but sincerely doubt it will not be for the better.  If the trends I wrote of yesterday are any indication, even just getting by could be infinitely harder.

4)  Interests and desires will change - for example, it is more than likely that Na Clann will all live somewhere than where we currently reside.  I am sure someone (The Ravishing Mrs. TB) would like to go travel to see them.

4)  All of that said, what skills, attributes and (frankly) assets does 10 year older TB have to have to be ready for that moment?

That, of course, is something that I am working through and on.  But I have a couple of thoughts:

- He is not going to want a house payment - or really debt of any kind.
- He is likely to do some of the things he does now but perhaps not all of them.
- There is going to need to be a higher level of self reliance.
- He will have to plan for a life without the current career of his choice (which may not be all bad).

Still a work in progress, of course.  But there is a transition occurring as I write. I have missed some of the ones that happened before.  I cannot afford to miss this one.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Much Longer?

I do not know how long we have - 4 years?  8?  Maybe not that.  But fundamentally every current running through this nation is hurdling towards a tyranny.

You remember tyrannies, of course.  The ones where beliefs that are not officially are ruthlessly shut out, opinions which do not match that of the tyrant are silenced (by word or otherwise), where the rule of law is subverted and violence becomes merely an extension of political well?

You will recall the might of Imperial Rome, of Dynastic China and Feudal Japan and the Aztec Empire, of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany and Cambodia and Communist China and even more recently, Venezuela.  The sorts of places where thousands or millions die.

And we are heading there as fast as we can.

Oh, it is for the best of reasons, of course.  We need to be tolerant, to protect our feelings, to practice the "societal good" that is defined not by a set of principles but by how people "feel".   And so certain things cannot be said, certainly beliefs cannot be mentioned or practiced in public, certain freedoms must be set aside for some in the call of the good of all.

The people that are driving this, of course, have no idea what they are really calling down on themselves.  They believe they are doing the right thing; unfortunately in these circumstances, the right thing only works as long as your beliefs are in power.  Sooner or later those who are in power become all about their power and any beliefs or actions that do not comport with that - even if they did once upon a time - will be dealt with harshly.

Will everywhere be hit at the same time?  Of course not.  The urban centers, easiest to control, will be the ones most controlled - and most at risk of turning into a disaster.  The hinterlands, the outer places, often have ways of slipping underneath the scrutinizing forces so concerned with uniformity of belief and action.  At least until the inevitable end comes, when the government which was originally hailed as "of the people" is torn apart in civil strife.  Starvation, civil war, death, disease, destruction of civil life, a destruction of the things that make life pleasant:  these are the outcome of the tyranny so many seem to wish to hasten.

Oddly enough, it is never those that have lived under a tyranny that are eager to bring them to pass.  It is only those that, naive in their understanding of human nature and unappreciative of the nature of what freedom is, that rub the lamp and make the wish - only to hear the genie laugh with evil glee as he begins his incantation.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

On Viewers

So once upon a time I had another website.

It was my "professional" website - the one that was going to propel me to writing greatness (after this one failed to work out quite as I had planned, of course).  Originally I had started writing career related items, hoping to spark an interest by publishing views on my industry - hard hitting insightful ways to do things.  Then, when that failed, I went with publishing items on success and achievement - turns out there are far more relevant voices on that subject as well.

Finally, as a last ditch effort, I started publishing short pithy parables.  It was something that I enjoyed writing, and I thought they were different, fresh, and unique (arguably, they still are all that).  But they, too, got lost in the Interweb chatter - and finally after 3 years of writing them, I finished in November.  Nothing new since then.

Last night, on a lark I checked how the site was doing:



You will notice that according the website, I periodically get over 500 hits a day.  But looking at unique visitors, you see a different story:

A high of 54.

I post this, not from a sense of sadness (I have made my peace with the fact that writing will only ever be a hobby) but rather from a snapshot of the Interweb and how it works.  My website, essentially, has become a stop off point for spammers, a place to hit on a semi-regular bases in hopes of getting to post a listing for something or other.

It will stand as a monument, mostly to myself and a fine reminder of the fact that numbers really never are what they appear.


Friday, April 21, 2017

Irrationally Unmotivated

I realized this morning, getting ready for work, that I am unmotivated.

Oh, I have lots of things to do of course.  It is just that there is the increasing sense of moving from one required task to another instead of a purpose and action to them.  Marking time, one might almost call it.

I worry that this stems from a sense of "doing what you have to, blooming where you are planted." Yes, I get the application of that in real life - at the same time, I am wondering if it also can lead to the development of a essentially a programmed life instead of a life lived (The two outcomes are not mutually exclusive).

Every time I get in this state of mind, I have flashes of "initiative", where (mostly out of frustration)  I get aggravated enough to take action.  I say "aggravated" because there is a certain sense that it stems from an emotional area I usually do not find myself dwelling in. Then I suddenly feel guilty that I was this emotional and completely fall back into my previous passive state of mind.

Which gets me nowhere, of course.

In one sense this strikes me as completely ridiculous, this back and forth of passivity interrupted by brief moments of frenzied acivity.  It does not make for a lot of forward progress - but neither do I necessarily feel good about things when I make progress in that state.  To be frank, it feels like I am angry all the time (or perhaps frustrated - but angry is how I feel).

And thus, irrational motivation.  I get motivated, but it is scarcely the sort of thing that seems sustained or even productive in the long term.  Precisely what I do not need, of course: I need the sort of motivation that will be sustainable and will not leave me in a state of constantly feeling guilty or relapse into periods of "maintenance" that will eventually push me back the other way.

It seems a loop as I write this, an endless loop that prevents me from actually making any progress while feeling as if I am either doing "the right thing" or am pushing limits.

If a loop, how do I break it?

If a behavior, how do I modify it?

And if I am guilty when I try to make progress, why is that and where is it coming from?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A Dwindling Need for Things

Sometime between last year and this year, we seem to have passed the great divide of Needing More Things.

I am not sure when it happened.  I wish that I could point to a day, a moment, some even that would make the demarcation tangible.  But that simply did not seem to happen.

I can see the evidence of it, of course.  Actual, practical discussions about spending and money.  Edging around the discussion of how we will pay for a retirement and help support college (3 of them, mind you).  Which wonderfully focuses the mind, as it turns out.

Practically speaking, every expense now gets questioned.   Even previously simple tasks like shopping for food becomes a contest in "Why did we buy that?" and "Do we need it?"

It has turned out to be a good personal exercise for me as well.  In a way, refreshing:  I can almost the material desires peeling away from my soul.  The need for money is there, but not the need for things to buy with the money.

My own personal list has dwindled significantly.  The remaining things I want are expensive (mostly iai related) or long term development related (such as bees and a beehive and the land to go with it).  Beyond those types of things and a simple desire for books, there really is not much else.

Well, one thing I suppose: Financial Freedom.  The power to not have to go day after day and do that which matters little to me, and certainly the desire to be free of wagery.

Hmm.  Perhaps then this development is the first step to bigger and better things...

Monday, April 17, 2017

Unsettled

On the whole I avoid talking about or considering current events.  I find that in general it tends to make for either breathless blogging (where every next event is "the great plunge") or blogging that is irrelevant in years to come (for example, read any blog in the last eight years that repeatedly predicted martial law).  And ultimately that is hardly what I am hoping to accomplish here.

That said, something feels afoot in the world. 

We have not been this close to an actual outbreak of hostilities with North Korea in all the years I can remember.  Whether you are for or against, we have re-entered the Syrian Civil War.  Turkey has essentially voted itself willingly into a dictatorship.  And acts of violence seem to have become almost common place in the daily news, to the point of not even causing the slightest stir when we read about them.

Or, as that great philosophy collective Aerosmith once said.  "Something's wrong with the world today, I don't know what it is".

In the back of my mind it feels like a threshold has been crossed, the sort of thing that one only realizes has occurred looking back.  The great events of one's lifetime are almost never started in such a way that one looks and says "Ah, this is it".  For the most part they start as small events, perhaps far away, that only resolve into a the great changing event after time has passed.  Like small rills that turn into large rivers, the source is often only guessed and and intuited, not seen fully.

I have honestly started to look at individual events and say "What if this is the last time I ___?  What if this is the last time I speak to _____?"  I would say that I am working to get my house in order - and it is true - but is some ways getting it in order simply means making do with what we have (for better or worse, we finally seem to have turned the corner on the acquisition of things and are starting to move the other way).

There is a rather unreal peace about this entire thing, oddly enough.  In one very real sense I have been confronted (rather visibly, as it were) that He is ultimately in control of everything in my life; in the other, there is an acknowledgement that all of these events are far beyond any ability of mine to influence.  What will come will come; my job is to face it head-on.

All civilizations crumble and die of course, but up to this point we have only had these happen regionally.  For the first time ever, we have the opportunity to observer (perhaps unfortunately firsthand) the decline and fall of a global civilization.  An unsettling thought indeed.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Rejoice!

Now Mark 16:1–8; Luke 24:1–10; John 20:1–8after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene Matt. 27:56, 61and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for Mark 16:5; Luke 24:4; John 20:12an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. Dan. 7:9; 10:6; Mark 9:3; John 20:12; Acts 1:10His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like Rev. 1:17dead men.
But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, Hos. 6:2; Ps. 16:10; 49:15; Matt. 12:40; 16:21; 17:23; 20:19as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed Matt. 26:32; 28:10, 16; Mark 16:7He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.”
So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word. 
And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Mark 16:9; John 20:14Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell Ps. 22:22; John 20:17; Rom. 8:29; (Heb. 2:11)My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.”
- Matthew 28:  1-10, NKJV

Saturday, April 15, 2017

_________ Saturday

It struck me yesterday that we do not have a name for the Saturday of Easter.

That is a bit odd to me, because we have names for the rest of that week: Palm Sunday, Maunday Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday. But not Saturday.

It is true that of the days of Holy Week, it is the one we know the least about. “They rested according to the Sabbath” is what is written. But we can theorize from what we know, of course: His followers, being observant Jews, would have stayed wherever they were, perhaps not eating or at least not cooking one. They were most likely numb and filled with grief: their Master, the one whom they had thought to be the Messiah, was dead and in the tomb. Three years of following, the triumphal entry of Palm Sunday – all blown away on the winds of mob rule and Temple and Roman politics. And perhaps more than a hint of fear as well – the Temple guards that came for Jesus might come for them after the Sabbath and they knew all too well how that had ended.

We should also be less than honest to think that the Devil was also not hammering the disciples at this point (Should we be surprised? Does Satan not hammer us at our weak and low points as well?): All the feelings of human grief and sorrow and failure, compounded with the powers of Hell bearing down on them, mocking their faith and their decisions and hopes, showing them only a future of helplessness and hopelessness. “Strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter” - and the Devil would chase Christ's followers to ground.

They did not know the ending at that point as we do of course: the stone rolling away, the empty tomb, the Angels, and the Resurrection of Christ. That was all invisible to them in the darkness of that Sabbath, a Sabbath (for tall intents and purposes) without any promise. And perhaps that is why ultimately the Church has never mentioned it beyond one of the three days of the tomb: it ill comports with the message of Easter.

But it seems to me that we do ourselves a disservice in failing to recognize it as part of the Easter experience itself.

We are quick to note the horror and seeming end at the Resurrection but without recalling that Saturday (the only twenty-four hour period of the three days) we minimize the lost condition of ourselves and all humanity. Because for that one full day, with the hours slowly sliding by in the silence of Sabbath, the disciples found themselves completely and utterly without hope.


Which makes the following day all the more remarkable.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Slow and Focused

I do the best work when I work in a slow focused manner.

This is a bit of a consciousness awareness thing - you would think after all these years I would have gotten that - but it has been borne out time and time again in the recent past.  If I can focus on one thing to the exclusion of all else and work on it in a manner that is methodical (read "slow") I can do it without any errors.

Great. Self awareness. You think it would be more useful, correct?

It is, but it has two major issues confronting it.

The first is, of course, that we live in a driven age.  Speed is the nature of the work world - first to market and that sort of thing.  The luxury of having the time and focus to work on one thing at a time would simply seem to be that: a  luxury.  And in an age of "multi-tasking" (which all the writing and research say is terrible but all employment world continues to love) the concept of presenting "attention to detail given sufficient time" is not going to win a lot of applause.

The second issue is much more personal.  I can take the time and do things right - but time is the commodity we never have enough of.  Accepting this about myself - and it really seems to be true - there are certain implications - like the amount of work I can accomplish well will drop by a factor of 10.  The amount of things I can do will also drop accordingly.

But is that such a bad thing?  I have written how I feel the circle of my world contracting; if it contracted into lesser things but much better done would that be so awful?

It is a matter of pride:  of admitting that I have this limitation and then working on it as a strength not as an impediment.  Hard to swallow, perhaps.  But perhaps far more stress reducing in the long run.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Most of My Friends Are Invisible

Over the last few months one of the things I have noticed about my life with its change into a new position is that my circle of friends has drastically lessened.

It is a bit odd, this thing called work.  Spend enough time at a position and the people you work with end up becoming your friends, simply because of the amount of time you spend with them:  year after year, brick after brick slabbed on until you have a wall you have built with others.  But then one or the other leaves, and suddenly the proximity is completely gone.

I suppose it is no-one's fault, of course:  we live in a busy age and for the most part there is always something that is there to take up the space.  But it is an odd feeling, after so many years of a daily routine and daily interactions, to find one's self isolated.  Alone, as it were.

My circle has shrunk more drastically than I had anticipated.  Beyond the immediate circle of my family and a much reduced group of coworkers (small company), I physically see a handful of people.  My iai dojo.  The regulars at the rabbit shelter.  My church group.  Even my throwing friends.  But all of these are for short periods of time only.

Isolation sometimes feel like being put on a shelf - and forgotten.  And while I do not fancy myself a people sort of person, it is surprising how the lack of meaningful emotional interaction makes one feel reduced.

And then I realized - most of my friends are invisible.

Well, not quite invisible - but certainly not present.  I talk to them almost every day.  It is just that they are not in my physical line of sight.

You all, of course - those who read and those who comment.  The folk on whose blogs I comment.  Even the friends I have made - some surprisingly good ones - on something as trendy as Facebook.

We talk about important things,  We laugh.  Sometimes we mock in a kind way.  And we support where necessary and coach where needed.

I realized my life is full of people.  Just people that I for the most part do not and may never actually see.

Perhaps the concept of "imaginary friends" was more trend setting than we realized.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Depression Again

Occasionally I still find myself in the throes of depression.

I am not really sure what starts the episodes – not so much something weather or some other environmental factor, that I can tell. Sometimes it does not even seem to be related to anything that is currently going on in my life. It can be a thing as random as a thought or a song, a turn of phrase that sets my mind running.

My depression also seems to have changed in how it manifests itself as well. Before it seemed to be this overwhelming sense of grief and hopelessness. Now, it seems to just to be this quiet little sense of despair that hangs with me throughout the day.

It is not crippling, at least not like it used to be. I can go for hours or days with it hardly interfering with my life. I have learned to (or at least it feels like I have learned) to manage it in a way that most people would not recognize that it is going on. Soldiering through, or some such phrase to cover such events, the expected course for something that is hardly visible to most.

It seems much more poignant that it used to be as well, as if it were hitting on the touch points of my soul, an old enemy that knows how to maximize the sadness and pain. Little things, forgotten things – the way the wheat comes up in the pots, a song from the long ago (always the music), a writing exercise that suddenly explodes in flashes of emotional ruin, leaving a stark trail of painful words on a page and me reeling.

I do not know really what to do about it. It does not cripple me to the point of not being able function, it is just more of low grade problem: the knee the hurts when you walk on it or the speck in your eye that will not seem to flush out.


It mutes the color of living – but then again, even in the muted season of winter, one can still find beauty.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Monday, April 10, 2017

Garden 2017: Compost Up

So here is the stretch of ground called my garden:


Just beyond the farther patch of green (my wheat) is where the Spring/Summer Garden will be:


My compost bin is a pretty simplistic affair:  a plastic trash can out in the sun.  I have loading it for about three years.  Let us see what is inside!


The Supervisor is not impressed:


I needed to shovel off the upper level, which has the more recent materials:




Underneath?  Black Gold!


It is much less liquid and most than last time - which is better.

My method is fairly simplistic.  Pull back the layer of wood litter and rabbit droppings and hay

And put the compost on and recover:


Sometimes odd things find their way in:


I still ended up with about half of the compost bin full - which I will use when I start on the current garden:


My side cracked a little bit when I removed some compost:


Being thrifty, I sealed it with glue:


The non-rotted material was reloaded.


And here is the finished garden:


We are supposed to have thunderstorms and downpours Monday and Tuesday, so hopefully we will be able to plant this weekend.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Wandering Attention

Two days ago the random thought came to me in the midst of my job “Is what you are doing critical to the task at hand?”

I have the rather dubious pleasure of becoming easily bored, and thus easily distracted. It never helps, of course, when things I am working on are not the most exciting in the world (like, for example, record review). I can sustain the effort for a while, and then my mind starts looking for other things to keep its interest.

But there was the question: “Is what you are doing critical to the task at hand?”

“Well of course not” I responded (to myself). “Following up on something more interesting has little to do with what I am actually doing.”

“Then why are you doing it?” came the response.

All of a sudden my mind started working in high gear, looking at my tendency to let myself get distracted from what I was currently doing. If I was honest, what I always distracted myself with was of lesser value than the item I was originally doing. Why is that, I wonder? And more importantly, how do I stop it?

So yesterday I took one step forward. I worked on what I was working on. If a thought wandered into my mind, boredom trying to get me to turn my head, I either politely ignored it or wrote it down on a piece of paper.

I do not know that I made a fantastic amount of progress. What I do know is that I got the task done more quickly than in my usual fashion. Which then caused me to have the thought of looking around at my life and realizing that I am often too distracted by what I should be doing with lesser things.

Call it focus. Call it attention to the task at hand. Call it not giving your lesser side quarter. Whatever it is, it made a difference.


Focus on the critical. First things first.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

A Certain Degree of Specialization

I realized this weekend that my areas of generalization are starting to contract a bit.

Part of it is really just simply the factors of time and money.  I find that my time, although differently distributed since I changed jobs, has not experienced a net increase in terms of availability.  As a result, when to do certain activities has become a bit circumscribed (after all, throwing heavy things above your head after dark is not a recommended activity).

Money.  Suffice it to say with the continued increase in taxes and upcoming college phase (we could have college expenses for the next 10+ years), budgeting matters more than ever.  And thus, the likelihood that a new activity will be "invested in" at some level based on a passing interest becomes less and less.

But there is another factor that I am coming to appreciate:  the power of expertise and specialization.

Being a beginner at everything gets to be discouraging at some point.  One begins to desire some level of expertise at a thing, from the practical sense of accomplishing something and the emotional sense of being able to accomplish it.  This requires a level of focus on a particular set of activities - and thus by default, a degree of specialization in them.

I have been considering this over the past weekend as I was about my business, taking stock of what is going on in my life.  Simply put, I could just work on the interests I have going on currently in my life for the rest of my life and not reach the outer limits of any of them.  I could probably also scale back my energy and time on some and still have enough to keep me interested and engaged.

Do not get me wrong: I will probably always be a generalist at some level, if for no other reason than being able to do a great many things turns out to useful.  But I also need to make peace with the fact that in order to advance meaningfully in some things, there must be focus and specialization - and a corresponding change in focus and energy.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

2017 Assessment

So today I got my assessment from the county for this year's property taxes.  According to the county, in approximately 4 years the value of my home has increase a whopping 44%.

What?

I know what you are thinking when you see that number: surely you must have improvements to your home!  Or your neighborhood is just blossoming with others who are making improvements!

Sadly, no.  The only "improvements" we have made are to fix the garage door that destroyed itself and the two fences that collapsed this year.  Beyond that, not a darn thing.  And our neighborhood pretty much remains the mid 1990's neighborhood that it was when we moved here.

I am not sure what this will do to our property taxes other than hike them. which means we will be in arrears (again) for the escrow fund where such money is stored and means our house payment on the whole will go up (again).  Our payment has increased 12.5% since we moved in.

Oh there is a good side, I suppose.  My theoretical equity has gone up from 6% to 37% in the same period of time.  Not that I feel it, of course:  it is all lost money until such a time as it is cashed out and even then buying and selling in the same market means that any such equity is essentially lost - it would taking relocating to a new, cheaper market to recapture it.

But it lays open a ticking time bomb for our finances:  at 12.5% over four years our payment is increasing by 3.125% a year.  Another 10 years at that rate - the outside amount we would have to stay here - and our payment is up another 31.25%, or possibly 42.5% all together.

That, my friends, is simply unsustainable.  Even with a crazy increase in value.


Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Choosing A College

So it is college choosing season.

Nighean Gheal is going to go away to college - does not seem real, does it?  When I officially started this blog she was 6 years old, if you can believe it.  Time, it seems, has a way of getting away from us.

The process of applying to college has changed drastically since the days that I applied.  Everything is on-line, of course.  And all the application fees have kept track with inflation.  And the competition (I am sure) is far more difficult - she has applied to 9 colleges, I only applied to three.

The end of March is the last date of the notifications, at which time one has approximately a month to select the college of choice.  It is a two fold decision, as you might suspect:  on the one hand is the question of where one wants to go, on the other the question of what it costs.  

Oddly enough, the decision is not as clear cut as it might seem: for example, the out of pocket cost of our local State University is almost the same as the cost of going to a fairly well known Private University.  Which is somewhat silly to me, if I stopped and thought about it for a moment.

(Yes, I know, you are asking about Community College.  Her concern - legitimate, I think - is that to go to a community college is to completely wipe away all the work she put in to get to where she is now.  Which is actually true, if you think about it - the record is expunged the day you walk across the high school stage).

Where does this end up?  I am not really sure.  We still have to find out about potential financial arrangements from one school (alas, I am not overly hopeful).  But I think the decision will be rather clear cut after that for purely practical reasons. 

On the one hand, this feels like a huge decision to ride on the outcome of such simple things.  On the other, at least more thought seems to be going into this than when I decided to choose a school.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

100,000

So sometime in the wee hours of the morning I surpassed 100,000 recorded views (since May 2010, I gather):


A milestone sorts, I suppose - although to be clear, I do not get paid or otherwise rewarded for the views.

Interestingly, my next biggest group of hits after the US is from Russia.  Perhaps I am an underground hit?


What was truly interesting was the distribution of browsers.  Firefox was number one.  I really have no idea why that is (I am an Opera man myself at this point):


None of this matters in the long run - for the most part, none of us are doing this for money.  Still, a milestone of sort  - and milestones should be recognized, if nothing else.