In which I think out-typed some more

I’ve been feeling this melancholia or even the vague edges of depression again. I cheer up around Kathryn and around friends, but even then at times I’m feeling the edges of something that’s concerning to me. And I’m not sure exactly why. I know I miss Europe – and I miss feeling comfortable with traveling. I miss a sensible length of paid holidays, not worrying that the the next illness could suck all the money from our scant savings.

I know that the rise of the right wing has fucked up much of Europe as much as it’s fucking up America, and I don’t really know what to do with that in my head. I know that the UK that I thought at least partially existed is nothing more than a mirage from living in left-leaning liberal bits of England where people who weren’t white and weren’t English were welcomed.

I get that. It hurts. But I get it.

It’s funny, because in many respects, job-wise we’re both better off than we’ve ever been. If we can ever get this house project moving and, indeed, get it done, it’s much closer to building our own house than we’ve ever done before. I mean, it’s frustratingly not building our house on the land we bought for that purpose. And that leaves it with an edge of frustration. As does the startling discovery that the city really care about the appearance of that street.

I dunno. It all just feels vaguely unsatisfactory and I can’t entirely explain why.

I’m hoping this will improve when we actually get started on something, as at the moment my brain is mainly occupied with being frustrated about things we can’t afford to do.

House Maths

So, we’re moving the fuse box electrical panel (and replacing the shonky crappy old panel. I’ve spent this morning sat working through this document that allows you to check the rating required for your service. I’d been thinking we might need to go up to a 300A supply, but it seems like 200A should be fine, which is pleasing. This is probably because the stove appears to be a fan-gas oven, which confuses the pants off me.

So the electrical loads that would normally be consumed by cooking stuff have disappeared into the gas. Which helps.

The sums work out at 96A which seems low to me, but that’s what the maths says. And I guess we normally charge at night when other loads tend not to be in use, so it probably works out fine.

I’ve also been trying to do load balancing. This whole 110v m’larkey makes wiring waaaay more complex.

UK: Incoming power -> RCDs -> Bunch of ring mains (lights, sockets, some single runs to specific appliances). Bob’s your uncle.
US: Incoming power -> Breakers of lots of different flavours -> Many spurs that all have to be balanced so that each of the two (120v) legs of the 240v gets roughly the same current draw + 240v loads that pull off both. You may be able to get an uncle called Robertish if you’re lucky.

So that means sitting down and trying to work out what groups of sockets and appliances are ‘likely’ to be on at the same time and then trying to organise them. Without just generating a billion different circuits. Then add in my desire to keep lighting and electrical outlets mainly on separate breakers (not required, but preferable). Then add in code requirements for specific areas to have specific kinds of breakers, or the dishwasher to have it’s own separate circuit… which it probably needs anyway in terms of power demands, but still…

…gah.

Of course this might all be punishment for the pre-regulation the-entire-kitchen-converges-on-one-socket design that I left in place in the first house I worked on in Bristol. I didn’t *make* it that way, but I didn’t fix it either. Just shoved all the wires back in the back of the socket and said “yeah, that’ll work”. I suspect it got fearsomely hot if you ran the washer/dryer and the oven at the same time.

Anyhow, since I’m not going to be doing that again and this is to be better planned, then I’ve spent some time on it. Hopefully it will work as recent calculations mean that I think I’m wiring the panel and just getting someone else to do the actual moving of the service / installation of the weatherhead… Technically, we could do that too, but I value my hands and my life :)

At any rate, I’m planning to submit the permit today – if we get the Rav back in time (it’s getting a new driver’s door lock, the old one having died).

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In other house news, the smell of urine seems to be decreasing. We’ve removed the chipboard that covered the lounge, the hall, the kitchen and one bedroom. All that’s left is a bit of chipboard under the kitchen unit that we’ve not yet removed, the back bedroom and a small front cupboard. Spraying near a full bottle of urine odour remover onto the worst staining and the front step – along with a moderate amount of vinegar – seems to have helped too. I can now go in the house without wanting to run even when the windows have been closed. It just smells of musty old house and crawlspace.

Hopefully when we put down the vapour barrierey underlaymenty stuff that will resolve it completely. Although we’re planning to replace some of the worst car decking with new – and there’s one section which has broken.I’m guessing it’s rotted away under the end of the bath… but when I was lifting the chipboard I levered against it and it descended rather than the chipboard (with tile) coming up.

Pics on flickr as usual.

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And in other, other news, I fell for a scam.

It took about a minute for me to twig and undo it, I think. About half a second for me to go “oh, you fucking idiot” and then the rest of that minute in a panicked google search and settings adjustment.

I listed our Insight on Craigslist, then got a message from someone saying they were interested, and could they call. Then I got a message saying that I needed to enter a two digit authentication code to speak to the craigslist person. I was somewhat suspicious – but after the person had tried a couple of times and I’d got messages each time I thought “well, what could I lose – I’m giving them information they’re giving me”. Apparently – this is a means of getting access to your phone number because when I entered it I got a Google Voice message – and allowing them to use it.

Thankfully, the answer is here. So within about half a minute I’d reclaimed my lost number. I’m hoping that the dickhead who did it didn’t manage to do anything useful with it.

After about 15 calls from the irritant, (s)he seems to have stopped. But it’s just f’kin annoying. I also am feeling a bit pissy because the Honda Forum seemed to think that the price was reasonable for the car, but now it’s been on there for a week I’ve had nary a bite. This may mean that all my sums about us replacing the car with an EV have to be reworked. If we have to drop the price of Insight to sell it…

Feh.

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And in other, other news, I realised I should have ordered a smaller shift key when I ordered the keys for my keyboard. I did a test assembly of the kit which went fine, but I’ve not soldered it yet because I need the key tops to ensure that the layout I’m planning will work with the keys I’ve bought. It’s still very pretty though. It shall be super pretty when it arrives.

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I just need to etch the CTL logo into it.

CTL terminal (in very fetching orange and black)

I just wish I could get an orange fabric covered curly keyboard cable to use. They don’t seem to exist :(

Things may get less quiet around here.

Or more quiet. Who can say.

We’re looking at a house. We’ve had an offer accepted, but the survey (inspection) revealed some significant concerns. Well, really one significant concern that breaks down into a number of significant minor concerns.

Tomorrow, or possibly Tuesday, we go back to the sellers with our “fix these things” offer – and we’ll see if they’re happy to accept it.

If we get it, there’s actually a fair bit of work there. The electrics need updating, although that wasn’t obvious before hand, there’s some decorative work, and it needs a new bathroom. This is certainly no-where near the level we were at with the Bristol house, but it should be enough to keep me entertained through the summer.

The other news is that I’m planning to change job. Back to nursing again. Not full time though.

Hopefully I’ll get back to feeling a bit more like myself, and a bit less like I’m wanting to weep through each day. I clearly am feeling a bit more like myself, because we went into a bookshop today (just B&N), and I ended up walking out with books and feeling pretty excited about some other ones that I didn’t end up getting.

This is a feeling that I’ve really missed. Excitement about things.

I’m not exactly sure what our future holds at the moment. We’re both pretty wrung out. But at least I’m feeling more like there is some future.

Plodding along

Life continues to trundle along, and we keep hunting houses. We’ve been to see virtually every house in our price range, I think. There’s one that has some potential but is insanely overpriced. There are a bunch we’ve discounted for a variety of reasons. I’m still sad that we didn’t get the one we offered on first, or the one that we visited before we were in a position to make an offer… because everything since then has felt like much more of a compromise.

Today we looked at an entertaining one which we were quite excited about until we discovered that the pricing seems to be for an imaginary third bedroom. We were thinking maybe the area was worth more than we’d realised, but looking at prices of things sold around there, no, the price is for a 3 bedroom house. It does have a 3/4ths height finished attic space above the garage – which is, I we think, what they’re calling the third bedroom.

But it’s not permitted, nor is the forced air heating system with the slightly suspect ‘furnace in a cupboard in the lounge’ design. Which is a shame, because the lot is really lovely, and there’s quite a lot of potential there.

The house hunt has been painfully depressing, really. Possibly would be less so if work wasn’t quite so tough. But work has continued to be a real struggle for me. I’m hoping that things might change on that front, but that’s really a fingers crossed affair, rather than a definite at the moment. So, well, that’s where we’re at.

Hence the quiescence on the blogging front.

Well, hrm

So today we looked at houses. I’d say we looked at 3 houses, but one of them was in such poor condition that it was more a stack of rotting timber with bits of rust holding them together. I kind of wanted to see inside, but sadly the code didn’t work on the door. It was built, I think, in the 1930s, and built appaulingly. No foundations, just wood directly onto brick / concrete piers. No obvious dampproofing to protect the wood. Just plonked atop. The whole thing looked like sneezing wrong might cause it to fall over. Indeed, I was slightly concerned that opening the front door, had the code worked, might have made it so structurally unsound it fell.

House 3, now that wasn’t great either. It’s been on the market for a long time – and when we went in it was apparent why. It is a dingy, smelly house. It had some things that we thought might be worth looking at in the photos – mainly hardwood floors. However, when we got there the overwhelming smell of smoke, and the fact they’d clearly had pets, and pets had clearly had incidents involving the floors… that wasn’t so great.

Now, house number 2. House number 2 is upsetting. It’s possibly slightly overpriced, in an optimistic way. It’s a 1950’s rambler, but manages to be a rambler that we actually like. It has underfloor heating in the main areas of the house… which is pretty f’kin nifty. And it’s in a not unpleasant area. Rather closer to I-5 than we’d like, but actually by the time we’d been there half an hour, the white-noise of the cars had disappeared (to us).

It’s clean and very out of date, which is the kind of thing we do. Irritatingly, had we seen it before we bought the land, and intended to buy a house (rather than land) this all would have been insanely easy.

As it is we have the complexity of: Well, we can afford it with a mortgage, but then what do we do about the land, because if we buy a house and use all of our money to reno’ it, we’re unable to develop the land. And we’re certainly unable to build on the land. And well, we might be able to get a construction loan, but the county have encouraged us to get a well on the land as soon as possible, because the well-rules are going to change…

…only that means getting a permit, and we have no timeline for permitting.

…which leads us back into a circle.

Part of the problem is at some point Rebecca will be returning to the fold*, and we have nowhere to store another car. Which means that our rental situation which has up until now been really quite pleasant (although currently seeming to be an entirely ant-related insanity place), won’t work out in the long term. Also, we’re paying someone else’s mortgage and that always makes me feel a bit grumpy. Even when the person is nice.

Of course, there is no good solution to this, which is part of what’s so pissy. The county have left us in an impossibly shit place, and seem unwilling to concede any wrongdoing. And here we are trying to work out what’s for the best. And I have no clue.

*hopefully, although I every time I ring, the person trying to source me a diff in England despairs slightly more, because he’s paid for 2 diffs, neither of which has arrived.

Our odyssey continues unabated

So, as I’m sure you’re all dying to know how our Bokashi odyssey is progressing. Given the state of the world, our ability to compost left over veg trimmings and off food is clearly something of vital importance.

So, one of the things with Bokashi is that the veg left overs need to be chopped up. There are devices like this:

Hand-cranked-veg-chopper

Which you can use to chop up the veg – but I* didn’t want to fork out the extra for one of them so at the moment we’re manually chopping up all the veg off-cuts. Normally our recipes have a fair bit of veg in – this about 2/3rd of the off-cuts from one of our larger dishes…

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As you might imagine this adds some time to our preparation. However, although the little compost bin – the countertop one we use to hold veg so we have sufficient to “make a layer” does smell sometimes (with the lid off, it’s fine with the lid on – it has a charcoal filter :) ) – the other bin so far is fine. When you take the lid off it smells a bit fermenty, but with the lid on nary a thing. And the fermenty smell isn’t bad. I wouldn’t want the entire house to smell of it, but it’s fine for a few minutes while we chuck the veg in and squidge it down.

These are the Bokashi bins:

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We have two, because you seal one up to ferment for two weeks or so, once it’s full. We’ve about 2/3rds filled one of them – in about a week and a half. So it should work okay for us…

Addressing the state of the world issue – I’m feeling more and more pressing need to do every-single-thing we can to reduce our impact. We’ve realised that we can compost the paper towel we use (I have tedious allergies, still, so finding something to do with all those tissues is handy), composting has reduced our ‘landfill’ waste by about half. And I’m continuing my quest to work out a way to substitute our insight for a fully electric vehicle.

We keep trying for some political engagement, but at times it’s insanely overwhelming. On top of which, work still demands nearly all the time that exists. So self care has become of significant importance… so well, yes, that’s where we are.

* This was my idea and it was meant to arrive around Christmas, as a sort of “I’ve got this for both of us” gift – but…it arrived late. To be fair, I ordered it very late.

Soooooo…. yeah.

I applied for this job a little while back. I didn’t really think I had much of a shot at it, and I had been on nights so it wasn’t my best application ever. I ended up hurled the application together, and submitted it when I was barely happy with it because I really wanted a shot at it — but they were already interviewing and I didn’t dare leave it any longer.

…then I got invited for an interview.

…and I thought “well, there’s no way I’ll get this”, so I was (for me) relaxed. I even slept some last night. But I actually quite enjoyed the interview, relatively speaking, and had answers I was happy with for most of the questions. And the teaching session I had to do seemed to go well.

…and I came home and thought “well, I did okay. I did not make an arse (nor an ass) of myself”. Thought I’d pop off an e-mail saying thanks (as is the custom here) and then wait a couple of weeks for the answer…

…but I just found out I’ve been invited for a second interview. Which is fantastic, and terrifying, because it means I actually do have a shot at this, which makes it much more terrifying. But also fantastic, because I’d really enjoy it, and it’s kind of the combination of lots of threads through my nursing career.

So that’s pretty unexpected. And scary. And cool. And so on.

Today has been less positive than hoped

We spent some time talking to the strawbale architect consultant about building today, and the price for the timber frame alone is prohibitive, and startling given the costs we’d seen for kit-built-post-and-beam houses.

Some of the cost assumptions we can tweak, because we’re happy to do things like using used components as long as they meet current requirements. Both houses we’ve had had salvage bathroom components, and electrical I’ve discovered that Habitat for Humanity have big plastic boxes filled with sockets and light switches, some of which are clearly nearly new.

Also, our requirements for the kitchen are ‘it has a sink, stove and fridge’, we can “finish” it later. Indeed, the entire house, our finishing requirements are that the walls are plastered, and the electrics are in.

Anyhow, at the moment we’ve gone from excited to ‘trying to figure out some way to make this happen at all’.