A Little Ray of Sunshine

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Moving again

I shall be even more absent than usual, as we are moving yet again.
We had thought we would be able to stay in this house another year, but that is not the case. The landlord wants very much to sell, and is willing to lease only as a lease-to-own. We were willing to consider doing that, and hired a house inspector. The cheapest $235 we ever spent. The house is even more of a disaster than my dad thought, and that's saying quite a lot!
The front porch is wood on earth construction, which, for those of you who know as little as I used to about construction, is a Very Bad Thing. In this case, it let termites in. They ate the ends of the joists that hold up the north side of the house. They used to be set into the foundation but are now pretty much gone. The house is slowly falling down. To fix this, one would have to find a contractor who had very skinny workers, as the crawl space is only a foot high. These hypothetical very skinny workers would have to crawl under the house, jack the house up, remove the damaged wood, and sister in new joist ends. Jacking the house up is difficult to highly improbable. It appears to be two layers of brick. The inner layer is plastered over, the outer layer has lately been covered (mostly) with vinyl siding. The mortar on the visible parts of the outer layer (where not covered shortly before we moved in) is pretty much shot. The inner layer, of course, is hidden between the outer layer and plaster (existance is infered by the fact that the wall sounds solid and is too thick to be a single layer of bricks) and there is no telling what shape it is in.
Anyway, there are a great plenty of other issues, falling down chimneys and the like, but this is the one that would cost more to fix than the house is worth. Sooner or later, (perhaps sooner given Kelo vs. New London) a business will buy the land and raze the building. It is a shame, as there is a lot of old woodwork that you can't find the likes of now, and the brickwork on the front is spectacular.
So, we're moving. Our lease is up August 1st. We signed a new lease and put our money down, this is a lease to own, on a one-year-old mobile home. It will be paid for in six years. It is in a park, so the owners have the ability to screen potential residents for criminal history, and I find it a relief to get away from the current neighborhood's molester contingent. The new neighbors are friendly (on one side and across the street, the other side was sold the same time ours was, that is, this week, and I haven't met those folks yet). The couple next door babysits their great-grandsons daily, who are just a few months in age different from our boys. The lady across the street was at the next door neighbor's when I went to introduce myself, and seems very nice as well. The neighbors have a good sense of humor. I'm not sure what it is about older neighbors, but they always seem to have better senses of humor than young neighbors.
"We're Mel and Marilyn. You'll remember us, just think Mel Gibson and Marilyn Monroe! This is Marie who lives across the street. We're the M & M & Ms. Wouldn't you like some lemonade? If you have any questions about your place, just come ask us."
That's one nice thing about small town folks. They may be nosy, but they'll help you out even when they just barely met you.
I'm looking forward to a place that's actually ours that we can paint. It's a little thing, I guess, but I am so sick of all the rules about what you can and can't do when you're living someplace. All these rentals look like dorm rooms or hospital rooms, white and sterile. Well, the home does, too, but I can do something about that.
And it has a gas stove. Really, now, what's not to love? (Okay, I'm a little worried about the stove because the controls are on the front, but on the other hand, the garbage disposal switch is above the counter.) And AC. We've never lived in a place with AC. My folks have a passive solar home, so I never groked what AC was for until I moved out. You pretty much have to wear a sweater inside their house even when it's over one-hundred outside.
I don't plan to use the AC much, we've gone without it for so long, I think we can just set it to, oh, maybe eighty or so, and keep the place from roasting. It doesn't get really miserable in the house we're moving out of until it's over eighty inside.
And, did I mention, we'll own the home free and clear in six years? You can keep your 30 year mortgages and your hyper-inflated housing prices. Sure, we'll pay lot rent, but if the city decides that lot would be perfect for, say apartment buildings (it's close to campus), we won't loose our home.
Long term tentative plan: find a more rural lot to purchase after the home is paid for. Move the home there. Save our money, then build. Of course, we'll do our best to make sure it's a non-attractive building site to developers. Fortunately, there are still places like that around here.
Oh, and if you're thinking about buying a house, make sure you get a house inspector. Most states don't liscence, there are some professional associations, but the standards vary. We got a recommend from a realtor friend, emphasize the friend part, we weren't buying through her. The gentleman we hired has a franchise from a company, Pillar to Post, that has training and testing requirements as part of the franchise. It's very much a buyer beware sort of field, but it's not at all hard to find someone good even if you don't know the first thing about the field. Just use some good, old-fashioned, common sense. Proof postive that we don't need government to regulate all the stuff it does.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The Myth of the Volunteer Military

We hear a lot about the 'Volunteer Military' these days, and how terrible a draft would be. Leaving aside the draft issue (that's a whole 'nother can of worms), let's look at 'Volunteer'.
Suppose you go to your church, and you say "I'd like to volunteer with the youth group." Do you get paid? How about the humane society? I sure don't get paid for my volunteer work with Habitat.
So a volunteer is someone who doesn't get paid. Now, obviously the military does get paid, and I'm not saying they shouldn't be. They should. But they aren't volunteers. They're people who got hired to do a job. Employees, if you like. The technical term, I believe, would be mercenary, but that has all sorts of ugly baggage, unless you're a David Drake fan. After all, someone who works in a store for pay is a clerk, someone who cleans floors for pay is a janitor, so someone who kills people and protects other people and does military-type activities for pay is a mercenary. But we can call them military employees, as it doesn't have the negative connotations.
This seems like a good thing, actually. We take people who are willing/able to kill, maim, and do other ugly things, and we encourage them to do such a necessary task. Most of them joined the military because of a combination of pride and protectiveness towards their country, the pay, benefits, perhaps a bit of rebelliousness, and many of the same reasons you might find someone working for the State Department, or perhaps as a Congressional Aide. They are certainly deserving of our respect, but they are not volunteers. They are doing a particular, often dangerous, sometimes fatal job, and getting renumeration for it. Just like, say, a police officer, or a coal miner.
Do we have a volunteer military? No. We have a paid military. And that is a good thing to have. I shudder to think what sort of people would volunteer for such a job, and what such a military would be like. Think the worst wartime atrocities you've ever heard of, and multiply times ten. At least. For those in my generation who did not get a good education, try looking up the Hundred Years War, perhaps, as a starting point. The current minor war is nothing in comparison.
I mean no disrespect to the military. I have many friends and other aquaintances I respect in the Army and a few in the other branches. They are, none of them, volunteers. Their pay is lousy, the food is terrible. They're still employees. I hope they all come home safely.

Note: Peace Corps, Vista, Ameri Corps, etc. are not volunteer organizations.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Don't Panic!

Mom was going to come over, she's got some little crafts we agreed to finish up for the Eastern Star Grand Session, the Worthy Grand Matron's from our chapter, so everyone's been pitching in and doing whatever they can.
Ten minutes before she's supposed to get here, I get a call.
"Hi, is this ____ ____'s daughter?"
"This is ____ with the (Mom's place of work). Your mom asked me to call you and tell you she's going to be late, she has to take her husband to the emergency room and she wants you not to panic."
"She's taking Dad to the emergency room and she says I shouldn't panic!?!"

Dad's had a whole slew of interconnected health problems, in fact, he was just in for tests yesterday, and last week, too. Hopefully it's nothing big. Almost certainly it's nothing new, and the fact that Mom was taking him (they work in the same building) rather than him calling 911 means it's almost surely the same old issues.
If anyone happens to still read my poor neglected blog, would you please say a prayer for my dad? I'm not so concerned about his health but about his soul. And while you're praying, you might mention Bane's little boy. www.banedad.blogspot.com if you aren't up to date.

UPDATE: Mom and Dad just called, Dad's feeling okay for now, and as usual, the doctors haven't got a clue what's going on. Actually, he called his cardiologists to report some symptoms, and they told him to go to the emergency room, so he called Mom to tell her he was driving himself up there (four blocks from where they work) and of course she wasn't having that. The doctors are running their tests, but it seems to be the same "Well, you feel symptoms but we can't find anything wrong with you at all on our tests." that has happened at least a dozen times over the years. Something's going on, but evidently medical technology isn't advanced enough to figure out what. The docs are debating whether or not to admit him, and in the mean time are transfering him over to the other campus which has more heart patient facilities. Naturally, I gave Mom a bit of a bad time over her 'Don't panic' message.
They held Dad over night, don't know what the test results mean. As usual. Tuesday today, and Dad's doing just fine. Ornery as usual.