Monday, September 13, 2010

No phone, no TV, no internet, not a single luxury...

unless you count well water, or electricity. (Okay I'd count those. But still...)

You never realize just how dependent you are on something until you don't have it. We are currently without phone service (land line or mobile), internet, or television. We are virtually cut off from all forms of communication with the outside world, short of the mailbox at the end of the driveway. We have been for almost a week.

We can't quickly look up where the nearest hardware store is. I can't return emails for my freelance work. We can't call our real estate agent in Ohio. We can't get in touch with friends or family.

Even when I'm at work, with a vast telecommunications network at my fingertips, I still can't call my wife and ask her if she can pick up that check, or find out what essential items I might need to grab on the way home.

The biggest near miss to a problem came on Friday, when I got a call from the school that Amelia had a fever. In order to go pick her up and take her home, I'd essentially have had to miss half a day of work at a time when I have no paid time off to use. And I had no easy way to call Lori and let her know.

Luckily, Lori and I had already arranged to meet for lunch, so I could let her know to go get Amelia.

It seems like there are a dozen times a day when I think, "Oh I should call our friends and see if they're home" or "I'll just look that up online," or all the other little mundane things that I can usually do without a second thought. Right now, it's about 4:30 in the morning. I was so exhausted last night, I fell asleep putting Amelia to bed. So I woke up extra early this morning. I can't do much unpacking or rearranging without waking up the rest of the house. I can't flip on the TV or surf the web either. And our books aren't even unpacked. No books, forsooth!

Thankfully, we should have this mostly resolved by Monday night, when our bundled services finally get installed. And at some point after that, I'll post this.

Meanwhile, I think it's time for a snack. I burned a lot of calories yesterday...


Follow-up: I think I missed the phone more than I thought I would, and the TV less. And internet, don't ever leave me....


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Saturday, September 04, 2010

We don't need no stinkin' hybrid

It has been a crazy few weeks.

The new job is going well. I'm really going to like it there.

The commute, for now, is a bear. It will always be something of a bear, but right now it's as bad as it will ever get.

We close on our house Tuesday. That will cut a good 10 minutes off the drive. Plus the kids morning schedule will be different, so I can leave earlier and beat some of the traffic, probably cutting another 10 minutes off. And in six months, I'll only have to do it twice a week.

But right now, it's rough. 44 miles of rush hour traffic. On a good day, it takes me an hour. That's one way. Then I have to do it again to get home. If there's an accident, make it an hour and a half.

And so far, I've generally had to do it in our "farm truck." It's an early 90's pickup that's more rust than metal. The rear fuel tank leaks too much to be usable. The front fuel tank doesn't leak, as long as you don't put more than 12 gallons of gas in it. But since it only gets about 12 miles to the gallon, that means I have to get gas after every third trip. (Not round trip, mind you.) It has no A/C, no CD or cassette, no cruise, no power anything. It's really not the right tool for the job.

So, dear readers, I have acquired a new tool. Soon the farm truck can go back to doing what it does best - hauling occasional loads of bulk materials, and rusting.

Once I have jumped through the necessary hoops of getting license plates and insurance, I will be driving what may be the perfect vehicle for this endeavor: It gets 50-55 miles per gallon. But it's a four door sedan, so it could conceivably take our whole family on errands without too much trouble.

How much did I pay for this dream machine?

Twenty-five hundred bucks.

No, not twenty-five thousand.

It's a 1997 VW Passat TDI. It's been well-maintained (and the maintenance well-documented), and tweaked for fuel efficiency. It also handles like a dream, and it can run on anything from filthy tractor diesel to B100 biodiesel.

I've been playing with the calculator. Just in fuel savings, this thing will pay for itself by April. I could drive to our house in Ohio and back on a single tank. I could drive my long commute every day for two weeks and still not need to fill up.

And once I get my telecommute privileges, it'll be six weeks between fill ups.

Think of that: One fuel stop between now and Thanksgiving.

And I'm not talking Canadian Thanksgiving either...

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