Friday, December 15, 2017

Regularly Scheduled Finance Post

First off, updates from the things on the emergency post:

I was able to make the minimum order on heating oil.  The oil I had ran out before it was delivered and I wasn't there to bleed the line to get the furnace restarted, but my sister was on hand and got it started before the temperature dropped to "Pipes freeze; Everyone dies" levels.

So that's one disaster averted.

The other thing is the property insurance.  I've managed to get wiggle room of the property insurance.  So that's not averted but postponed.


Second, where things stand now:

It is my rough estimate (rounding so no cents, certain things involved were ballpark figures) that I need $464 by year's end and about a hundred of them before the the 23rd of this month.

Come January I'm in fresh start territory.  Sort of.  Not like I've been saving up for the coming non-monthlies, but the first of those isn't until February so there's some time.

Basically, if I make it through December this months long financial train wreck will be over.  My computer has been repaired, though it'll be over a week before I'm in the same place as it, meaning that I don't need to buy a new warranty like I would if they'd deemed it irreparable.  The warranty, though, expires soon so the next time something goes wrong with the computer I might be forced to buy a new computer at full price.  So . . . that's a thing.

Not planning on breaking my ankle in three places again, so the other major cause of all this will, let us hope, not recur.

There are still structural problems, but they take some time to build up to the point of catastrophic and hopefully they can be dealt with before then.


Short version: all of the previous crap has left me around $464 short this month, but if I can get through this month I should be over the last after effects of all the previous crap.

Paypal button is in upper right-hand corner, though if you have a paypal account and are paying from your paypal balance or your linked bank account it's actually better for me (I get 100% of your donation, no fees) if you send the money using my email: cpw [at] maine [dot] rr [dot] com.

If you want to make recurring monthly donations, Paypal has always failed to do them right, but I have a Patreon account set up to do that.  (Plus, they decided not [yet] to go through with the horrible fee structure change.)

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Emergency early finance post OR Oh my fucking God, I need heating oil now!

The good news: I am not, at this present second, out of heating oil.  The bad news: I'm close enough to out of heating oil that I could be by the end of the day and my sister thought I was out yesterday because the gauge is that close to empty.

This is, of course, a horrible time to buy heating oil, but one might recall that for the past several months I've been in an utter panic about one protracted financial disaster that wasn't heating oil related.

In fact, in the document where I keep track of my finances, heating oil has been listed under "Sword of Damocles" for some months now.  Before this particular cycle of financial panic, there had never been a "Sword of Damocles" category.

If I want to fill the tank it'll be around $469.80 depending on the fluctuations between now and when it's filled and also how much (really how little) is left in the tank.  It's a two hundred gallon tank, so if I wanted to get a hundred gallons and hope for the best when it runs low again it'd be half that.  150 gallons is my usual order, which would be three quarters that.

In addition to heating oil, the insurance (which you may recall I lost track of when it was due) has finally come up.  Sort of.  I totally forgot to take into account the fact that when I'm paying something by giving cash to someone else it means that the two of us need to be in the same place at the same time.  As such I kind of need it circa ten days early.  So before the tenth.  So right fucking now.  That's usually $288 but it's lower for some reason, (maybe the property depreciated?) so it's $27[?] with the [?] there because this computer has a habit of crashing when I would really rather it not.

As, for example, right after I finished typing the last sentence.  Because apparently it has a sense of drama.

Oh, and this is also a horrible time to buy a bus ticket, so I could really use $20 to $30 dollars there.  In a real hurry.

So, that's anywhere from around $540 to around $777.  Yay.

I said, I'm pretty sure, that oil and property insurance were the last things before I was officially through the protracted financial catastrophe and out on the other side, but I never really ran the numbers on them, and thus never quite had an adequate sense of continued panic.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Computer Update

When I sent out my computer it was with four concerns two of which definitely required replacement parts (cheap easy to replace ones), one of which probably did, and one of which was entirely unknown.

That was 15 days ago.  They said it would probably take two weeks and, in fairness, it usually does.

Them giving updates leads to some questions (like: how the fuck did it take you three whole days just to get it out of the box it was shipped in?  You people picked the box and packed it yourself; why not do it in such a way you can unpack it without calling in the jaws of life!?) and awareness that the way the log information is odd (when they discover something which causes them to do something, they log doing the thing some fifteen to twenty minutes before logging the discovery that prompted the doing) as well as some frustration.

They knew, abso-fuckingly-lutely sure, that two parts needed to be replaced before they even received the damned thing.  Why, then, wait a week to put in the order for parts?  Better still, why does deciding to get parts which they have on hand stop all work on the machine and knock it back to the wrong end of the queue?

"Good news, we already had the parts that we needed to keep on working and it only took half an hour for them to get from storage to where they can be used to complete your repair.  It's all set up and ready to be fixed now, don't you worry.

"By the way, everyone working on fixing your machine has been indefinitely reassigned and it'll take us two days to find someone new to work on it.  Have fun!"

Since when is the appropriate response to, "We'll have to wait half an hour," "Let's take two days off!"?

In fairness, again, of the 15 days my computer has been gone, they've actually been nominally trying to fix it for . . . almost four hours.  by their own accounting.  I have no proof that they were actually working for all of the time they say they were working, but I'm trusting, so they get the benefit of the doubt.

Also to lend fairness, they did eventually notice a part that they didn't have in stock, and for the past 4 days they've been waiting for it.  That's time when they, at least theoretically, couldn't work on the computer.  There was also the time it took to actually reach the service center.  So of the 15 days my computer has been gone, the service center has only been "working" on it for six days.

That works out to a whole 40 minutes of work put in per day.

Truly I feel that they are working hard to fix my machine.

~ ~ ~

This computer needs to be tethered.  I think that it's lost the ability to interact with the battery, but it could be that the internals are ok and the battery is just so fucking dead that it registers as not even being a battery.  Part of me wants to try replacing the battery even though I don't really have money to spend on such a thing, but:
a) That might not accomplish anything if it really is the computer, not the battery, that's the problem, and:
b) This computer is slow as all fuck.

If I have several tabs open in chrome then the computer turns into a slide projector.  It's really, really frustrating.

I can't do much of anything interesting, which you would think might spur on my lagging creativity, but the tethered thing keeps me basically tied to the chair.  I can go as far as the floor in front of the chair, but unless I'm willing to leave the computer entirely that's the limit.

It's often the case that I'm not willing to leave the computer entirely or I am willing, but the creative thing in question demands I be able to use a computer.  (A lot of my ideas require me to be able to do a quick internet search from time to time, for example.)

As a result I've been literally sedentary.  ("Sedent" means "Sitting".)

I have a better (ish) computer that I can use, but it has its own problems that lead to its own unpredictable no-time-to-save crashes.  At the moment that's a bigger frustration than being tethered and having everything be slow as fuck.

Anyway, my energy drains away as much as my creativity already has and everything seems to just become a mass of hopelessness.

Though, on the bright side, someone used my Amazon wishlist to get me an awesome blue lego dragon, which I have put together.  When the Lego Elves line started releasing dragons I allowed myself the indulgence of getting the orange one, so all I need to do is dig that up and the two can play.

So that's where things stand.

Figured an update was in order.

Signing out.

Monday, November 27, 2017

A new Amazon wishlist

So it is becoming increasingly apparent that at some point in the near future I will require those things that hang under hanging plants to stop the water from drenching whatever the plant is hanging over, on account of the one that I end up facing every day being on the verge of tearing itself apart and spilling planty water everywhere.

These things are apparently known as "Hanging Basket Drip Pan"s.

And I remembered that I had an Amazon wishlist or six.

I'd actually been thinking about making use of this fact to see if anyone felt like getting me books related to surreal numbers.  So I cleaned up some things, ignored the festering mess in others, and made it so that anyone who wants to can get me the hanging basket drip pans I need.

I present a new, simple, wishlist.  On it you will find:

Things to contain plant water, Lego Elves, surreal numbers, Sappho, PS4 games moved from the (now-deleted) list I made when I was on my back --with my broken foot elevated-- and using a controller was the only thing that separated me from death via boredom, one Wii U game and . . . that covers it.

Lots of Lego Elves.  It's said that people should have goals.  I don't know who says it, but I've heard it said that it is said.  I have many, but here's one I don't think I've put on Stealing Commas yet: I want to have so many Legos that I can follow the directions and make massive original creations of the basement filling scale seen in The Lego Movie.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Computer failure

I'm currently backing up primary computer because it has lost the will to wireless.  It assures me that there is nothing wrong with its ability to wireless.  It says the wireless is merely turned off and that explains all problems.  As for why the wireless capability can't turn on and attempting to do it will get a couple seconds of, "I'm totally turning on now," followed by inexplicably turned off again . . . the computer directs me to the internet.  Which it doesn't get.

So wonder and merriment there.  I was going to have to take it in anyway.  Seemingly cosmetic damage to the case has proven to be more insidious by making it so the cord won't stay in unless everything is just so, leading to running out of battery when I thought I was running off of the cord.

It's been running hot, which is never good for a computer.

When they fixed it last time they forgot that the operating system was on a solid state drive.  They forgot that the drive existed entirely, which led to a period when I thought (and they thought) they stole it.  Though they called it disposing of a non-covered part even though the fact that the computer had and OS SSD was in the computer's fucking name that showed up on all documentation and . . .

Might be getting a bit carried away there.  I was actually using this computer at the time.  When I booted it up I found a conversation in which I was talking about how I was taking to the Kingdom Hearts series, which I got into playing because it's really hard to be laying on your back with your thrice broken foot elevated while computer gaming, but that set up is fucking ideal for a console and controller.  Thus, for the first time in my life, I had a console and controller, thus, for the first time in my life, I could play Kingdom Hearts.

There's a reason I haven't used this computer since then.  It's someone else's castoff, it has more or less zero power, and as far as it is concerned it has no battery.  Even the most momentary interruption in the corded power supply and it dies.  Plus, the "zero power" thing means it's slow as fuck.

Anyway, primary computer is not functioning as primary computer.  I'm backing it up.  Then I shall take it away and either:
a) Have it sent away to be maybe-fixed, or
b) Be given the money I paid for it in store credit which, somehow, never seems to be enough to pay for a replacement, and also requires me to buy a new warranty.

Until I have a primary computer, posting will likely be spotty.

~ ~ ~

Normally today would be finances day.  Key points:

  • I will make it through the month
  • It is therefore the case that heating oil and property insurance (each can be expected to be between two and three hundred dollars) are the major financial hits left to cope with.
  • More detail forthcoming when I don't spend all day looking for some kind of computer-type-device that has an associated cord.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The trolley car problem

[Spoken by a professor to a class]

So we'll start out by considering an old standard.

There's a train.  There are people on the train.  Say a hundred, maybe a bit more, maybe a bit less.  Could be a hundred plus the square root of pi, could be ten.  The point is, train: people on it.

This train is about to go over a bridge on one of two tracks.  Track A.  The clouds part or light glints off the water in just the right way or . . . whatever, and you suddenly notice absolute and undeniable proof that Track A is borked.  Really borked.  Inescapably borked.  It is so borking borked that it might as well be Richard Nixon's first Supreme Court nominee of 1987.

If the train goes on Track A there will --not might, will-- be a catastrophic bridge failure killing any people on the train.  And remember there are people on the train.  About a hundred, or maybe it was ten, or eight point five.

Fortunately there's Track B which is supported by an entirely different truss.

And you, as contrived happenstance would have it, are at the ideal position to switch the train to Track B thus saving everyone one the train from completely certain death.

Unfortunately there are people standing on Track B.  The whole reason that the train is taking Track A is because Track B is closed for scheduled maintenance.  The very sort of maintenance that could have prevented this whole mess if it had been done to Track A.

At the moment Track B is fully functional, and structural tests have passed, so it can totally be used to safely transport the train.  However, since everyone knows that the train is taking Track A, the workers have been ignoring the telltale signs (notably sounds and vibrations) of an oncoming train.  The first thing they did when arriving was check that the rail was switched so the train would go on Track A and they did another check when they first noticed the train.

If you switch the track they will not be prepared and some of them will die.  How many?  However many are on the track.  One is good if there's ten people on the train, so by comparison ten is good if there are a hundred, but one works just as well.  Ten is not good if there are eight point five people on the train.  There are most definitely fewer people on Track B than there are on the train.

Notice, please, that all ideas about responsibility and accountability and such are shoved to the side.  The bridge inspector is not in this hypothetical, neither is whoever put you at the right place to switch the track without consultation.  Are you here because of coincidence, providence, because it's your job to decide who lives and who dies in such unlikely scenarios?  Don't know.  Don't care.

The point is that you have a choice to make.  You didn't notice until it was too late to get anyone's attention, and even if you did the workers won't have time to get out of the way and the train definitely won't have time to stop.  Switch the track or don't switch the track.  That is the whole of your universe because other options, numerous though they would intuitively seem to be, do not exist.

The question, therefore, is this:

In the next ten minutes, how many problems can you spot in this bullshit scenario?  How many holes can you poke in the set up?  How many ways can you take down the entire concept of bringing this up in a scathing screed?

Get into small groups, no more than five, talk amoungst yourselves, and see what develops.  Feel free to be creative, some variations on this hypothetical involve shooting people with a train so it's not like liberties haven't been taken before.

This is your very first assignment, welcome to Ethical Philosophy 101, do not confuse it with The Philosophy of Ethics 101 which is down the hall and to the left.  Get to work.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Early Finance Post (Money Begging)

Most of the ticking time bomb stuff has been dealt with.  There's about a hundred (a bit more) left that needs to be in by the end of December.  If you remember how bad things started, it's nothing short of a miracle that that's all that remains.

Other stuff, however, still exists.  And I'm not totally sure why having my "I" key break is messing up my ability to type several non-I letters.

Regardless, I'm thirty dollars short on taxes.  As in: not $29 and not $31 and traditionally we've been rounding taxes to an even dollar amount.  Sometimes in my favor, sometimes not.  In the bank I have . . . actually, let me check.  Well, that failed.  A couple payments don't go through until tomorrow.  I think that what remains should be about 60¢.  (I thought the line for cents was supposed to be vertical.)

The good news is that the bills that have yet to be paid are ones that don't come due until after the twentieth, so I've got a fortnight before things go bad.  I pay the taxes by proxy, and the proxy will be forgiving if the final thirty is late.  I try not to make use of that fact, though.

Also the oil is burning.  I've got about a quarter of a tank.  No idea when I'll have to buy more heat.

I'll have a fuller accounting on the regular day, but the taxes are due the day after that and between now and the 15th I'll be in a position to possibly go see a movie with Lonespark.  If, you know, money exists.  Which it doesn't.

So, basically, I'm just typing here so I can beg you for money to pay for movie tickets, maybe get the last thirty of taxes, and then I'll be back again to beg some more with more specific numbers in a week and a day.

Because that's the sort of person I am.

Or something like that.


The "H" key has been gone for so long that apparently I've forgotten how long it takes to adapt to the lack of a key.  Fucking "I" key falling off.

And I know the keyboard isn't trying to say hello to me in its own fucked up way, because you can't say, "Hi, Chris," without and "H" and an "I".