July 20th, 2011

#2820: I just got up to check the weather!

I was laying in bed with the lights out, preparing to try to sleep, when I thought, I wonder if it got any cooler outside?

So I got up, put on clothes and sandals, and went outside, and the answer was no, it was still sticky hot. 79° and a dewpoint of 74°--yuck. I stood at the end of the driveway for a little while watching the heat lighting--thunderstorms off to the north that probably won't get this far south--and then came back inside.

I been feeling kind of depressed for the past few hours. Lonliness, mostly--but also a general feeling of "blah" because I'm kind of stuck in a less-than-good situation right now.

Heck of it is, I know it's not a bad situation. "Bad" would be me not having the money to keep the electricity on, you know? "Bad" would be me living on the street or having to depend on the largesse of others in order not to be living on the street.

...it's just my anxiety disorder, is all, cranking up because it's dark outside and I'm trying to sleep. WTF.

Anyway:

So as I was coming back into the house, my thoughts turned to the series of vignettes that I worked on and thought to try sending to the publishers of Knights of the Dinner Table. I sat at the computer, intending to check the weather site and see what the radar said; and in fact I ended up going to Kenzerco's web site and checking their submission guidelines, then firing up the e-mail client and beginning work on a proposal, and then remembering I wanted to check the weather.

Long story short: I sent 'em the first nine vignettes (all I've got at the moment) to see what they think of it. I didn't fix much--though I ran it through spellcheck--and now it's up to them to see what they think of it.

It would not be much money; at about 800 words per vignette, it might be as much as $40 per vignette if they bought it. But it would be exposure, and it would be some cash coming in...and it would be a nice boost to my self-esteem, self-confidence, and general mood just when I sorely, sorely need it.

If they don't want it, there are other magazines in which this series would fit nicely. Gamer magazines, or fantasy fiction magazines--so a rejection here wouldn't mean the end of this series' potential.

The first time I sent a submission to these guys, it turned out that it went right to the email in-box of the magazine's originator, Jolly Blackburn, who said "Loved the piece" and bought it. I'd like to think this story is at least as good as that piece was.

We'll see how it goes, I guess--but if they reject it, you know, that'll be the first rejection I ever got from a publisher.

* * *

...of course now I'm probably going to check my e-mail about 40,000 times tomorrow. *sigh*

#2821: It's too freakin' hot outside.

I don't have any leftovers in the house and I didn't want to have grilled ham-and-cheese sandwiches for the second time in eight hours, so last night I went to Taco Bell for a taco salad.

Originally I'd intended on a bacon mofo, but a sign on the drive-through at McDonald's said, "We are currently close for cleaning." That's what it said, "close". I'm still not sure what that means in a larger sense but I knew it meant approximately "THERE'S NO FOOD HERE!" and left the place, intending to go to the other one; but I changed my mind partway there and instead went to Taco Bell.

It seemed pleasantly cool outside, if still too humid. I wasn't uncomfortable, driving in the Jeep with the windows down. But when I got home again, I realized that it was still hot out. Inside, it was 78° and not humid, and it felt nice and cool.

The forecast has nineties as far as the eye can see. *sigh* But theoretically Monday will be about 10° cooler. I'll believe it when I see it.

As I woke up this morning, I thought about [ex-employer]. My work took place on a factory floor, and the place felt like an oven when it was about 82° outside. What's it like now? Shit.

* * *

Here's an interesting thought. Without Hitler, FDR would be considered a failure.

It's often said that World War II ended the Depression, not anything FDR did, so it's not surprising; the quote, really, is just a very pithy encapsulation.

* * *

I have to go buy stamps, and I don't want to. It's too hot outside. But it's not as if I have to hitch the horses up and sit in the sun while driving the 4.7 miles to the nearest post office, at about 7 MPH, all while wearing full-length wool clothing. This isn't exactly 1850.

No; I step outside of my air-conditioned abode wearing a t-shirt, shorts, and sandals, get into my truck, start the engine, and drive to the post office (which is a mere half-mile away) at a liesurely 35 MPH.

Jeeze-louise, us modern folks are wimps.

#2822: That makes eight

Since spring I have been keeping an eye on real estate in the area. Mainly I've been looking at the real estate signs in front yards.

It seems as if there's a hell of a lot of houses for sale in the immediate area.

Of course we're in the middle of the worst recession since the Depression, and housing has taken a pretty severe hit because of the sub-prime mortgage collapse, and all that. People are out of work in record numbers (or very close to record numbers, which might as well be the same thing) and housing is still too expensive.

But what I've been seeing is "for rent" signs cropping up in front of a lot of houses; and today I saw the eighth one.

The eighth one, I might add, within about a mile radius of the bunker. These are signs I've seen by happenstance; I haven't gone looking for rental properties nor have I consulted any advertising organs. These are just places which have signs out front, sited on roads on which I have happened to be driving.

But if I reduce that perimeter to half a mile, only two properties drop off the list. One of these is on the east side of town, on a road which has houses on one side and woods on the other. The other one is over on the south side of town, on Main Street.

I think about this, then, in the context of me being here in the bunker. It's nowhere near ready for going on the market; none of the real deficiencies has been addressed seriously and the cleaning hasn't even been well started. Even if--somehow--everything is taken care of by next spring, we can reasonably expect the house to remain on the market for more than a year after that. (And I'm starting to think "two years" because of the house's older design; compared to new houses, it's small.)

My oldest sister seems offended that I am living here rent-free. Of course, besides just occupying space, I'm keeping the grass cut and doing other maintenance items, things that (were the house unoccupied) we would have to pay others to do for us. Even if we wanted to rent the place out, we couldn't; the same problems that keep us from selling it are keeping us from renting it. (The master bathroom, for example, is in need of some new drywall and a new toilet and-and-and.)

Getting the grass cut by a landscaper, by the way, costs about $70 per week.

But with eight other rental properties standing vacant--and remember, that's just the eight I happen to know of!--rents have got to start coming down, don't they? Rent in this town is shockingly high; you can expect to pay over $500 per month for a one-bedroom apartment, and at that you're getting a steal; I have never seen a property advertised for rent with a monthly fee of less than $600. (They may be out there; I have not seen any.)

Property taxes around here are insane. Move six miles east and they're about 1/3 of what they are here, so why would anyone want to own a home here? It's not even a question of valuation; it's just that the tax rates are so high. And for the money, what do we get? We have an amazingly crappy school system. (Example: they build a brand-new $60 million high school and have no money left to buy things like pianos for the music rooms. Teachers were having to scrounge up clapped-out spinets in order to be able to teach music. Then the school district complains that they don't have enough money.)

It hit home how bad they are when I saw the taxes and valuation for the east 40. Over the course of ten years, we pay the assessed value of the land to the government. That's right: if we don't pay them 1/10th of the value of the land every year they take it away from us. We don't own that land; we rent it from the government.

Whatever happened to the notion of private property?

So rents have to be high because the government rent is so high; and it ends up forcing people out of state. Then the government wonders why it can't pay its bills any longer, why there's a budget shortfall...and it raises the income tax, because government spending can never decrease.

...beginning to think Rat's got the right idea:



Of course, that wouldn't help property values any, now would it?

#2823: ONE HUNDRED FREAKING DEGREES

Okay, 99.7°. The heat index is 123°!

Up in Duckford they set a record temperature of 100° for today.

It's just hit 100.2° here. Dewpoint: 80°.

...

When I came inside after going to the post office, it felt like a meat locker in here. It's 80°.

Holy shit is it HOT outside!