Category Archives: Life

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Fill-up Friday — takin’ care of business

I have a confession to make.

I haven’t worked Fridays since about April.

With one or two exceptions, I’ve been home every Friday for a few months, and it’s both glorious and ignominious at the same time. I know that for three solid years I worked 48+ hours a week 90% of the year, and I didn’t like it. I don’t like being indebted to such an extent. And all it took was a few changes in leadership to cut off our overtime altogether. It felt like the water was draining out of the boat on its own, like “YES”. But then I realized what had happened.

We had become complacent with the number of hours I had been working. Mme. Ross needed a car. I needed a decent computer. We had to see this family or that. I had to go surfing.

You know I had to.

All of a sudden, all the payments we were making were biting a huge chunk out of the weekly take-home. And when it comes to pay, the bills get paid first, so things have been drying up for over six months with no overtime. Suddenly, it was like the air was slowly leaking out of our bubble.

Then, the hammer falls.

Our customer — our only customer, who by the way owns everything inside the plant — thought it might be a good idea to shut down for a few weeks to give them a chance to sell all the inventory that had been stockpiled due to their borderline manic drive for production.

Remember all that overtime? Well, we became quite good at what we do!

Our company managed to negotiate for five 32-hour work weeks instead. We get to work, they don’t have to pay unemployment, and they can ensure that some employees will still be left when the production shortage is done.

I know I’ll be there. I’m a sucker. Who’s got two thumbs and is a company man?

This guy.

Another bright ray of sunshine is that this week was only three days — 24 hours — due to the opening of deer season. Right now I kind of wish I was a hunter because it seems like I could have gotten some meaning out of Monday.

I refuse to use PTO to cover the loss, because if we shut down over Christmas, there’s no reduced hours. It’s just a total shutdown. But never fear, I’m Surfer Rob and I’ve got this covered. I cut down our monthly bills budget by over $200. Almost everything is paid off. For extra ducks, I donate plasma, which I absolutely enjoy. It gives me a chance to read a real book (made of paper!) for an hour. We have an extra daycare kid starting this month and that is definitely one of the pillars of strength in our financial lives right now.

But back to this business of Fridays. I keep telling myself, “you’ve got Fridays off. Why aren’t you posting at least once a week? The weekend is all ‘getting out’, and ‘getting stuff done’, I get that.” So for that end all I have to say is, I needed to clear up some concerns.

And that’s the Kwai Chang Kane way of saying it. If that dude was gonna kick your ass, he’d look you straight in the eyes and say without emotion, “I don’t want to fight you.”

As it turns out, life didn’t know I was gonna sweep the leg. I knew how the whole fight was going to go before a single punch was thrown. I saw into him, and I saw the lie of him.

Surfer Rob wins.

It wasn’t a flawless victory, but I’ll take it. And in the spirit of a (much) clearer mind, I inaugurate Fill-up Fridays: because I gotta fill them up one way or another.

So today I played Bioshock Infinite for a few hours after Lil’ Miss woke me up and declared that it was time to wake up and go downstairs. I love that about the weekend. That game, and others like it — I will now confess — is the reason why I needed a decent computer. By decent I mean “top of the line because I want to play awesome games” and that’s what I got. I’m a little behind on the latest games, and that works well for me because I game on a platform called Steam. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a service that is not unlike Vudu (not Netflix) because you buy your games through them and through them you assure that whatever happens to your computer you can always get them back and play again. Steam is awesome, it’s over ten years old now and the best thing about it is that you can compile a wishlist. On the right side is the price of each line item in your wishlist and you can see if it’s on sale; the old price; the new price; and the percentage off.

I check it daily. I never pay full price on Steam, and I rarely pay over ten dollars for anything.

When I first got my computer, I didn’t even know what Steam really was. I thought it was a DRM scheme — like while you’re playing your game the software periodically checks in to make sure you’re not playing a pirate game — but that’s not it at all.

Steam is a community, a marketplace, and a damn good place to get good games for dirt-cheap.

When I first got my computer almost a year ago, I got three games for free as a promotion for choosing to get an AMD Radeon card in my computer.

NVidia fans, shut your mouths. I know what you’re going to say because I’m a NVidia fan, but I saved $500 on the computer and I got three free games so whatever!

So this is cool — whenever I talk to friends IRL we inevitably bring up the games we’re playing because we’re friended on Steam. We talk about them. I talked to a friend recently who said “I saw you’re playing Bioshock Infinite; that’s a good game.”

I said “yeah, I’m really enjoying it.”

If you’re a video gamer of any sort — even if all you do is Angry Birds and World of Goo — then you might want to look into Steam if you haven’t done so by now. That’s all I have to say about that. They have stuff for everyone, and the communities to support them.

And I’m all about community.

After Bioshock Infinite, I had a few loose ends to tie up with this plan to end our financial downfall. Things went . . . not exactly according to plan, but all in all I can’t complain. So now we’re on a new track. A better track. Then I went to donate plasma, made a few more stops, and came home to knock out some chores.

All in all, not a bad Friday.

🙂


Stumped for a blog post idea? Try today’s Daily Post Prompt!

Thirsty Thursdays: exploring the wave–particle duality of writing

They say it’s a bad idea to apologize to your  readers for not writing.

“Never apologize.” That’s my motto. I mean, it’s not like I’m getting paid to write, after all!

So I make it a point not to mention it.

We know that sometimes writing does get put on the back burner for other pursuits – home repair and restoration, playing video games, binge-watching Arrow on Netflix, heavy drinking, etc. But that doesn’t mean that writing isn’t important. It’s HUGE, big enough to threaten the structural integrity of the cast iron grate on that back burner. It’s boiling over, and my tendency of late is to hope that it stays that way while I’m attending to other, somewhat less meaningful pursuits.

When I’m writing my mind is this closet that I’m always dipping into, and when I write, what I take out of the closet goes back in when I’m done with it. From time to time I would get an idea and try to find a nice spot for it in the closet. But when seasons change you might forget what’s even inside the closet; you just throw your ideas in there and shut the door again. Then one day you open the door out of some morbid curiosity and this is what greets you:

picture of a messy closet
Not my closet, but if I weren’t tidy that’s what it might look like. (Photo credit: Scott Rubin)

And yeah, there’s a whole shelf of haiku buried in that morass.

Sometimes writing acts like a wave. That’s what you went out there looking for in the first place, to just have this great big idea splash out of you onto the world. What you got, however, was much more than you expected. But that’s why we ride, isn’t it? It bears down on you with crashing, primal strength. You catch it so it can lift you up and carry you forward. You ride it out, a symbiotic force of nature. You come away from it exhilarated, and you can’t wait to catch the next one.

Sometimes writing acts like a particle. it’s just this little thing that by itself is hardly worth mentioning. But if you pump yourself up you can watch the spontaneous particle spring forth from a single atom in the gas-filled tube of your imagination, watch it bounce back and forth between the mirrored ends. You’ll see it coax other gas atoms to sacrifice just a bit of energy to release other particles to run with it, and each particle added to the run multiplies the effect until eventually that one particle has become a powerfully concentrated beam of inspiration, capable of cutting through writers’ block like nobody’s business.

Writing is a perpetual task. When you’re a writer you write for life. Even when I’m not writing, I’m writing. That’s why I never make promises when it comes to my writing: that promise would have to be delivered in perpetuity. I couldn’t do that because eventually I’d be forced to break my promise through one means or another, if you get my drift. So for me to call this post Thirsty Thursdays might invite one to infer an implicit promise that next Thursday will bring you another post called Thirsty Thursdays. I assure you that to make this assumption would be a mistake; there are no guarantees in life.

That being said, I think I’m going to try to tackle this closet.

Haiku Today 2015.10.15 —

the cemetery
(Image credit: Kai Lehmann)

the cycle stalled —
remains to be seen
on littered ground

 


I think cemeteries are cool. Often the ones we visit for one reason or another have well-manicured lawns, roads, and walks. Those are okay, but the older cemeteries have a lot of flair that the modern ones don’t even attempt to replicate; and maybe there’s a reason for that.

Perhaps we — the modern society — are just hanging on to a tradition that no longer inspires us.

Humans have been preserving their dead for thousands of years. Mummification — examples of which have been found in ancient cultures from South America, Africa, and Asia — did not long pre-date embalming, though. Egypt had the most well-developed embalming practices of the known ancient world, where over five thousand years ago you could have met priests whose job it was to keep the body intact and awaiting the return of its soul.

But today, I wonder why we persist with what is obviously a parasitic practice performed upon the planet.

The line is that modern chemical embalming took off during the Civil War, when Dr. Thomas Holmes was commissioned by the Union Army to preserve the bodies of soldiers who had died far from home so they wouldn’t arrive at their doorstep all gross and corpsified. The truth is that experiments with the practice pre-dates this by a few centuries. We experimented with various alcohols, essential oils, and spices. After Vice Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson died at the Battle of Trafalgar, just about fifty years before the start of the Civil War, he was preserved in brandy, wine, myrrh, and camphor. 

Dr. Holmes, however, preferred arsenic. 

After these human pickles arrived they’d be dropped in a pine box which would be dropped in a hole in the ground. Often they were buried in proximity to their comrades. Eventually the boxes rotted away, and the earth came rushing in. The bodies, for all the efforts of the good doctor, gave way too. After all, you can’t resist the forces of nature forever.

And in gaining access to those raw materials, the soil was ambushed by the toxic substance that permeated the tissues therein. Arsenic leached into the ground, and from there into the water supplies.

Not to mention it’s hard to prove poisoning by arsenic once a body has been embalmed. 

So nowadays, the use of less toxic chemicals is standard practice (less toxic, but not non-toxic.) We bury our dead at great expense, considering the cost of the casket and the burial vault, which is often required by a cemetery. The vault is just another box, but it keeps the ground nice and flat.

So this raises the question in my mind, do we harm the planet more as we live, or when we are unnaturally interred post-mortem?

New cemeteries are boring; I’m going to be honest about that. Old cemeteries are where it’s at. So instead of banging at the same old drum of embalming and interment into a terrestrial storage locker, why aren’t we pursuing wholesale practices that help return us to the ground in a more natural fashion?

There’s cremation, which was a good first step. But burning someone creates carbon emissions and the possiblity of mercury emissions from tooth fillings. Alternatives to that include alkaline hydrolysis, which renders the soft tissues to an inert liquid; natural burial, which allows the body to break down naturally in the soil; and promession, in which the body is flash-frozen, pulverized, freeze-dried, sifted for metals (tooth fillings and implants,) and then buried in a biodegradable casket, which allows for full breakdown in less than a year.

I like that idea. Plant me in the ground with a tree on top. Mme. Ross wants to be turned into a tree too; we can be planted side-by-side, so that we can cross-pollinate for as long as those trees stand.

At the end of the post, I just want to go back to where I came from when I’m all done. Let the living have the Earth.

Haiku Today 2015.10.13 —

spinning
(Image credit: Arend Vermazeren)

Earth and I:
lives in parallel,
always spinning

 


I was thinking the other day about this species of tension that people tend to have, between addictions and unmotivated desires; by “people,” of course, I refer to myself. 

But maybe you get what I’m talking about.

There’s stuff I need to do. Things I badly want to get done. Finish the playhouse. Cut back the hedges. Get ready for cold weather. The list is long but the spirit’s not willing. Earlier in the year I had all this motivation and made things happen, but now I feel like my priorities have shifted without observing the courtesy of giving any notice whatsoever. I started to blog again. Started to knit again. Started getting sucked into this fantastic game called Cities: Skylines for hours at a time. Is it the changing of the weather, I wonder? Or did I make the mistake of switching gears too soon? My hands do these things as though they have a mind of their own while the other work languishes.

As the days grow shorter, I find myself spinning more than anything, in the rush to prepare for the coming season. Too much to do, and plenty of time too . . . 

. . . but not nearly enough motivation. 

Spinning around...
(Image credit: Danbo’s World)

Haiku Today 2015.10.08 —

Mist hanging on the trees
(Image credit: Ib Aarmo)

a splendid rise
through obscuring mists —
undefeated

 


 
Have you ever noticed that sometimes there’s a stigmatic backlash whenever the concept of fairness comes up?

This bears mentioning, because in society we have concepts of fairness that are upheld by legislation, regardless: equal opportunity employment, fairness in the workplace, in medicine, in real estate, etc. Whether or not it works is not the issue though, but how sometimes the response to a complaint that something is unfair is that “life is not fair”. Stop being a baby. Suck it up. 

The anticipation of such a backlash can be an obstacle to change, right?

And sometimes, when I feel as though I’ve been treated unfairly, I begin to question myself and my own motivation for feeling that way; maybe I’m missing something. The information I have might be incomplete. Or perhaps I’m just frustrated that something isn’t going my way. 

What’s more is that the farther in the past these things are, the more perspective we gain from their passing from view. We wouldn’t be where we are now if that didn’t happen — so does that change the spin of fairness we ascribe to that event? 

Besides, not getting a fair shake isn’t the worst of life’s evils — things like natural disasters, poverty, famine, perpetual war . . . 

. . . not to mention clowns. 


 
Unfair | The One-Minute Writer

Wicked Witch | The Daily Post

Haiku Today 2015.10.01 —

lightning-storm-clouds-lake.jpg
(Image credit: r.nial.bradshaw)

lightning drives,
seeking connection
across worlds

 


Why is it that sometimes the hardest thing about some endeavours is finding the drive to get started in the first place?

We have a billion things to do. Make coffee, clean up, go to work — doing our part in countless ways, and so naturally we have those things that we begin with little effort, but whose completion becomes something of an inconvenience, possibly to the point of falling by the wayside: a half-trimmed hedge that nags at you until it begins using the neighbor’s voice to make itself heard. And yet when there are things that should be quick and easy to do, sometimes we . . .

We hesitate. 

This past Thursday morning it was lightning and rain, so I couldn’t run. That was totally legitimate. Friday it rained. Saturday too. I just won’t run in any rain unless it catches me by surprise. Sunday had me feeling like it was getting ridiculous with all the rain, but Autumn is here and she’s decided to bring the full of her cold, cloudy gloom to our skies. That’s what killed my motivation this weekend. I never got out to the garage. I never got to run. I never found the words.

I noodled around in my vintage-style Flash T-shirt and tried to work up the motivation to throw on my gear and shoot out the door like a bolt of lightning . . .

Instead, I remained static in the cloud of weekend activities.

I’ll do it this morning though, before I get ready for work. I can actually feel the charge of motivation building up.

Isn’t it odd how it’s easier to fit something like that in when you’re supposed to be busy?

Tanka Today 2015.09.30 —

040/365v2 The Incoming Tide
(Image credit: Mark Seton)

washed out
but never washed away —
the tide
inevitably
returns things mislaid

 


 

What do you do when impossible notions intrude upon your peace of mind? 

Like how recently I caught myself thinking, ‘maybe I should admit that I’ve given up on writing and blogging and whatnot, and learn to deal with the fact that I’m not the kind of person that does those things anymore.’ I think this more and more as time slips away while I make no meaningful contribution to the blogosphere, and yet I can’t pull the plug on it because I can’t stop thinking about it — about writing. It’s a silly, presumptuous thing for me to pretend like I have nothing to contribute — in effect hoarding all the little thought-gems that get mined from my mind. It’s selfish and at some point it needs to stop. 

I defy the notion that I’m a non-writer who obsesses about writing and lets the fact that he’s not writing eat away at him and his fingernails.

I’m always so preoccupied, so heavyset with goals and plans and to-dos that it’s ridiculous to think that I keep forgetting to bring a notepad with me to write down the little seeds that become ideas, leaving me wondering, “what’s the big idea?”

I think the Summer came and ran away with me!

Some of the things I have planned involve finishing the playhouse I built for my daughter before it decides to snow, slinging the kayaks to the garage wall for the winter so we can use the garage loft for storing rummage sale boxes, fixing the little hole in the roof of my Jeep so water doesn’t leak in when it rains (for now I have duct tape on it,) and building a ramp for my barbecue grill so it’s not such a pain to get from the garage to the patio about a dozen feet away — because of two stairs, it must either be lifted/lowered or wheeled around the entire house!

Another thing I’d like to do is build a rack for the kayaks that would attach to a small trailer, but first I would have to learn how to weld. So at work I’ve tried using my charm and chutzpah — not to mention putting my reputation for good work out there — in an effort to get transferred into the weld department; so far, though, I’ve gotten nowhere with that. It’s not as though I want to learn to weld for just the one project, but I’ve been interested in welding for a long time. I’m a fabricator, after all, and welding is a fabrication skill — one of the few that I don’t have under my belt. 

So for now, it’s just a plan. Between now and then if I find myself washed back out to sea and washed up on some foreign shore, or even swirling around in the Pacific Garbage Patch, there’s sure to be some adventure to find, some trouble to get into; I may be at the mercy of the tides, but I’ll be damned if I won’t find a story to tell now and again. 


Lazy Learners | The Daily Post

Haiku Today 2015.06.15 —

ALT-TEXT
(Copyright © 2015, Robert W. Ross CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

a boiling page,
we etch our spells onto
the dreaming sky

 


Suddenly we are in a frenzy to find a good deal on a pair of kayaks. How did we get to this? Mme. Ross and I said last autumn that it would be cool to try kayaking together this year, to take on the swift Missouri River in a pair of plastic boats with a single paddle apiece, and only a life jacket to ensure our safety. 

This past weekend we went to Harmon Lake, a man-made body about eight miles north of our town. There we were able to rent a couple of stand-up paddleboards (a.k.a. SUP) for an hour and we spent some good time paddling around the lake with Little Miss sitting on one or the other, trying to help paddle with her hands. I found I was able to stand on this calm water with relative ease, and I decided that I was hooked on this. I’m not a big “let’s go swimming!” kind of guy because I really think it’s boring, but I really like the exploratory feel of getting out on a craft and physically guiding it. Mastering the mechanics of paddling, steering, and turning. Standing up and knowing that I can be seen standing on a board after failing to do so when surfing last summer (which is not at all uncommon.)

Mme. Ross was also hooked. After we pulled back in at the beach she asked to try out a kayak, and we paddled back out, I on a board and her in a green kayak. 

Now we’re looking to make water sports our “thing” this Summer, and in years to come. The equipment will likely pay for itself versus the rental fees, and it just so happens that we have a spare car we will gladly sell to help finance this adventure. It’s almost like the Universe wants us to do it. 

Are you having your Summer adventures yet? I’d love to hear about them in the comments . . . 

now get out there and explore.  

🙂

“Help Not Wanted” — Rob’s Sunday Soliloquy

Have you ever considered that a robot might be doing your job some day?

How about your spouse’s job, or your parent’s job? What if only 1 in 100 were employed? Or 1 in 1000?

This morning I woke up to find a Planet Money podcast waiting for me on my phone. It’s called This is the End. Planet Money tends to clock in around fifteen minutes, so I cranked it up and set about making coffee. They’re talking about how jobs are going away in successive recessions and not coming back, because at the end of that recession the businesses that had to downsize for the recession is able to recover their lost productivity through automation. They begin to explore the idea of what a jobless future will look like.

I listen, I process – jobless automatically means poor, right? Because you need a job to earn money and buy at least the stuff you need to survive.

I imagine.

I can’t imagine, however, a future of widespread, abject poverty. There must be, I thought, some way for people to make money. For one thing, there’s no way a person would allow all of their friends and family to starve, or to go homeless and be beaten to death by the elements. In a way, it reminds me of my mother’s response back before the year 2000, when I told her about the government’s program to phase out analog television in favor of digital, and how we’re going to have to purchase a box for every old-style television we have that we want to watch our shows on: she said, “there’s no way they’re going to do that. They can’t do that. There would be riots in the street.”

cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0&...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But there were no riots; digital TV took over without much fanfare. Sure, there might be a few analog channels yet, but the technology phased us away from the old paradigm, and now we find ourselves in this future where we really aren’t all that worried about it. We watch our shows – perhaps some of us not as obsessively as we used to, but I like to think of that as “growing up and getting in step with the real world” – and the idea of rioting doesn’t even enter my mind.

I do, however, remember a certain amount of disgust over my inability to pick up digital signals no matter where I was. The television industry had failed to provide a viable replacement for analog TV, but at that point I felt like the point was moot anyway; I already had access to much better content, because guess what? Netflix had started this streaming video service that actually worked pretty well. In seamless fashion, our “revolutionary” snail-mail DVD rental service stepped in right when a lot of us needed them, and we haven’t looked back since.

So who or what is going to step in for employment?

One of Planet Money’s guests for today’s show is Andrew McAfee. He’s an associate director at MIT who studies how information technology affects business. They asked him how this jobless future might work, and what it would look like, and guess what?

He said it makes his head hurts to think about it.

No kidding, right?

Forty years out in this “ridiculously abundant economy” McAfee says that “[w]e’re going to be freed from want and from privation. . . . However, in that economy do we have prices? Do we have money? If so, how do you get that money, because you don’t really have a job in that economy; there aren’t very many of what we used to consider jobs, and that was the way we distributed the money you could use to buy things, and that system . . . works really, really, well.”

That’s when it hit me: we’re all going to be Muppets.

Bear with me for a moment here.

When you strip it down to the studs the only way to “make” money is to create value for someone else, or by extension, for society at large. When we create value, the money seems to roll in all by itself because we’re used to performing and they’re used to paying for it . . . so what’s left when a massive paradigm shift has taken that assumption and turned it on its head?

I have an idea – how about we go wherever we want and do something we enjoy?

I know it all sounds kind of pie-in-the-sky, but this seems like it could be the Star Trek future coming at us fairly fast: an abundant economy, no want or privation, i.e. no real need for money. So why worry about money?

Ding!

It’s like the old TV, we don’t need it anymore so just let it go.

Money? Psht! What’s that?

So what do you do?

The answer to that is, you live your life the way you want. In a future where the work is taken care of and there’s no need to provide the basic needs for yourself or your family, you’re free to pursue the things that interest you. Every person will find their talent and fit in where they can do the most good, not because they’re forced to by the economic model of the day, but because they want to, and eventually because that’s what they love to do. This transcends doing right by the family, and instead places the individual in a position of responsibility to the society as a whole.

(Image credit: Wikipedia)

Because of this, people will probably still entertain. People will probably still write and create art, and they will certainly explore worlds without and within. They’ll research, study, and innovate. They will push the boundaries of science and philosophy ever outward, because we love to do that. We were made for that. We’re insatiable for it. The people of the future will, in fact, create value by being good and happy citizens who have the leisure to make society a better place by just . . . having fun.

I know it’s hard to imagine, but it’s a lot easier to believe than thinking that in a world where robots do all of our work, we’re left out in the cold to suffer with scant means; because that would be a world torn apart by war – a neo-luddite war against the machines and the corporate oligarchy that use them to displace the masses: those who will stop at nothing to tear the whole system apart and build a new world where they will be free to do it all over again.

That might make an interesting movie, however.

Of course the world of the future will look alien and outlandish to us – do you think our parents at our age even dreamed that we would have the things we have today – the cell phones, the Internet, driverless cars? In that light, some skepticism on the part of pretty much everyone is understandable when someone says that someday we will be largely unemployed and yet everyone will be happy and money will truly be no object.

It’s like saying we’ll have tigers for pets and they won’t eat us alive.

But then again, why should they?


This is the End | Planet Money

If you like audio drama, I also highly recommend listening to The Last Job, an audio play by the PRX podcast The Truth, in collaboration with Planet Money.

Haiku Today 2015.05.19 —

ALT-TEXT
(Image credit: Linda Owen)

curling ferns —
fractal green echoes
of living lace

 


 

The rain came down in buckets this weekend, and with it came something akin to an Autumn chill, as though winter was sullenly pouting at having been flouted, thus missing out on being given its full frigid due.

There may yet be some advantage to this global warming trend, depending upon where you are . . . even if it is just a cyclical bump and not an apocalypse — not that I’m taking sides.

The rain, however, is just as bad as — if not worse than — three feet of snow on a weekend where I was constantly running between the house and garage for two straight days, unable to put anything warm on my feet because the only thing I can get around comfortably in are my new flip-flops . . . and so with some muscular issue as yet unidentified and unaddressed in my left foot I found myself on my feet all day, for three straight days as we worked on renovating this downstairs bathroom.

Needless to say, my foot does not feel any better this week.

We did, however, make great strides. in the tear-down the weekend prior to this past, I was forced to flip an outlet around to the opposite plaster-on-lath wall; to re-plumb a new shower drain from scratch in order to replace the ancient copper waste pipe that had been eaten away by time and drain cleaner; re-solder the shower water supply pipes to accomodate the new faucet handle; not to mention the dozen or so runs to the home improvement store to get this fitting or that valve.

After that weekend was over, all I could have told anyone was that we managed to tear the bathroom down to almost nothing.

This past weekend was better, though, and continues to improve as we do a little each day. We drywalled, taped, and mudded the walls. We put down cement board and tiled the floor. Last night we grouted the tile.

And through all this, all I can think of is having a toilet ten feet from my office door again. Like how inconvenient is it to have to have to ascend and descend two flights of stairs every time I gotta take a whiz, especially when I drink enough coffee in the morning to justify hiring an in-home barista?

It’s enough to put a guy off his joe.

And I’m wondering too, whether I can build up the steam to keep going after it’s done, to pursue this or that home improvement project so that this place can eventually be sold at a massive profit, perhaps that can get us into a nice little place in the Pacific Northwest — only time will tell but I’m on a mission to keep the ball rolling in that direction.

Like Sisyphus.

And I’m keeping the faith alive . . .

(Header image by Alan Levine)