Monday, September 14, 2015

A nice weekend here. We spent much of it outside as the heat finally abated and temperatures got no warmer than about 80. Yesterday morning and this morning were pretty brisk, in fact, and the car thermometer when I was taking Jacob to school this morning read out at 54 F. Usually the summer moderates here in mid-September and it appears that is playing out in the usual fashion.

I’m off to Silicon Valley today for a brief work trip and I’ll be back on Wednesday.

Posted under Daily

Thursday, September 10, 2015

I spent most of yesterday doing writing for a corporate client of mine. I finished that around 3 pm, and then got Jacob from school and, after the tortuous process of walking a first grader through spelling and math homework, we went to the pool for a couple of hours. It’s still very hot and humid here–yesterday it was in the low 90s with very high humidity–so the pool is still useful, although we’re rapidly approaching the end of swimming season. This weekend lows are supposed to be in the mid- to upper 60s, which will definitely cool the water in the pool off (it isn’t heated). I’m not sure we’ll swim much after this weekend, and if I remember correctly, the pool servicing company will come close it off for the winter around the 30th.

I spent a few minutes this morning trying to understand Senator Bernie Sanders’ official policy positions as a presidential candidate. I have quickly concluded that he’s a nut. Between the $15 minimum wage and free college, mandating two weeks paid vacation, and creating an estate tax that taxes the money that has already been taxed from a personal income standpoint after it has already been taxed from a corporate income standpoint, I have no time for listening to him or his drivel. It’s clear he appeals to the “free everything for me and shame on you for having more than me” crowd.

Posted under Daily, Politics

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Back to work today. I ended up taking most of yesterday off, too, as we had a medical appointment early in the morning and then I had a couple of projects to tackle around the house.

We moved into the house in March 2014 and our garage was still pretty full of boxes. We had managed to shove them out of the way so that we could park our two cars in the garage, but otherwise maneuvering was slow going and there was no more room to store anything. My ex-wife had been holding onto a chest freezer of mine in her garage, which happens to be larger than ours, and she was ready for me to have it back, and ready for me to have it back this weekend no less. Sure, no problem, except for one–I had no place to put it. So on Sunday I spent a couple of hours unpacking boxes and trying to make room for the chest freezer. I was able to clear away eight large boxes as well as a giant old desk and several Rubbermaid bins full of stuff. Most of the stuff in the boxes hadn’t been touched since February 2014 before we moved (we started packing about a month before the move), so I figured if we hadn’t needed whatever those items were in over a year and a half, we probably didn’t need them at all. I did find some stuff to keep–some Shure SM-57 microphones, a set of desktop speakers that I now do need to replace my quickly failing ones I’m currently using, and my suit–but by and large most of those things went in the trash and recycling.

Posted under Daily

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The power came back on about 10:45 yesterday. During the outage, I drove up to the neighborhood bagel place about a mile away from the house and camped on their wireless. I did buy a bagel and coffee, so I wasn’t a total deadbeat.

I have a small server closet in the house which stores the cable modem, my Sonicwall edge device, the gigabit switch, and two servers (a big box running Hyper-V and the box that runs my phone system). I also have a desktop class UPS in there which basically can run everything for about 15 minutes during a power outage. Of course it started whining yesterday after about 10 minutes of the outage, so I started to shut things down in an orderly way. I’ve gotten away with the cheap UPS in there for years based on my experience with the previous power company–rare was it that the power more than flickered, so the cheap UPS was enough to keep everything up. Obviously power here is not nearly as reliable, so I’m going to need to invest in some better UPS equipment.

I also noticed that the system that runs my phones, which is an ancient Dell Optiplex workstation from 2006, draws a ton of power. I sort of knew it did, but yesterday crystallized it for me. The UPS was whining about having three minutes worth of power left, so the first system I turned off was the phone system. Once it shut down, the time remaining went from 3 minutes to 22 minutes. Holy cow. The Hyper-V server is a newer system from 2013 that basically sips power, but that old Optiplex basically sucks it down like a defensive end that returned an interception 80 yards for a touchdown sucks down water.

I have that old box because it has a PCI card inside that interfaces with a standard copper telephone line, but I’ve started the process of cancelling that line and getting ported over to SIP VoIP trunks from our cable provider. Once that system is in, I won’t have a dependency on a PCI card, and I can use a Raspberry Pi running Linux and Asterisk and drastically cut the power usage.

Posted under Administrivia, Daily

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The power is out at home. About 8:40 this morning it flickered a couple of times and now has been completely out for about 40 minutes. There is no weather in the area. I do not understand how the power provided by Union Power Cooperative is so unreliable. I’ve lived in Duke Power territory for a decade, from 2004-2014, and I can count on one hand the number of outages of any length. But in our new home we are served by Union Power, and just in the past three months alone there have been two multihour outages during the workday when there is no weather. It’s clear and sunny here. The last outage was around Memorial Day weekend, when a wreck took down some feeder lines nearby at 12:50 AM. It took until after 11 AM to restore power. I find that absolutely unacceptable, and I’ll be letting the management at Union Power know my thoughts.

Posted under Daily

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Hard to believe that September is already here. I am not sure what happened to August.

I see the markets are on a bit of a swoon again now, down 2.25% (both Dow and S&P 500). As one commentator said this morning, we are one bad jobs report away from a Fed fade. I somewhat think the Fed will increase the rate anyway. Our economy is probably strong enough to withstand 25 basis points on a “one and done” move. Otherwise, what are we really saying? Are we this bad off we can’t support ourselves without cheap and easy money?

I selfishly hope that the fed funds rate remains where it is through this time next year. At that point I hope to refinance our current mortgage. We’re a year and a half into a 15 year note right now that was slightly higher than the market rate at the time of origination in order to avoid having mandatory private mortgage insurance (PMI), and next year we’ll be at a point in our mortgage paydown where we could get a conforming loan with no PMI necessary. I hope to refinance into a 7/1 ARM amortized over 11 years–that should gain us 200 basis points or so for seven years and then worst case the remaining four years are at close to our current rate, so we’ve lost nothing, gained some interest savings even while paying down more per month, and “bought” a year and a half back on our loan term with the accelerated amortization. My goal is for our house to be paid off by the time my son enters his freshman year at college. Right now, it’s on track to be paid off halfway through his sophomore year, so getting the term down will help me achieve that goal.

Posted under Daily, Economics

Monday, August 31, 2015

It’s nice to see that since Obama has killed off ISIS/ISIL, made sure everyone has stellar health insurance, solved our immigration dilemmas, gotthe economy roaring back after weaning off cheap debt, and has singlehandedly paid off trillions in national debt that he’s taken this opportunity to solve the real problems we have in America: the name of a mountain in Alaska.

Posted under Daily, Politics

Friday, August 28

We have our regular cleaners coming for their monthly Deep Clean today so we’ve spent a frantic morning cleaning before the cleaners come. I’m going to spend today actually re-doing my office the way I should have done it when we moved in. That’ll put paid to today, and given how busy and tiring August is, I think we’re going to take the weekend off.

Posted under Daily
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