Thursday, May 31, 2007

House rant

So, I'm outside, doing some gardening and some clean-up of my thoroughly shabby lawn. As I'm tending to the flowerbed at the front of the lawn, I notice something. A bit of mortar missing from between some bricks. Oh look, there's a crack under the missing mortar. And look, that crack spreads down through the brick underneath it. Then through more mortar. Then another brick. Then it turns sharply to the right. Then into the foundation. Then underground...FUCK.

So I call in a foundation guy to assess the house. On my five-year old house that I've owned for two years, I have four cracks in the foundation. Those of you with houses know that having a crack in the foundation is no laughing matter, much less four. The good news, if there is any, is that three of the four cracks are considered low-grade, that is, that the possibility of enough water seeping into the house to cause damage is minimal. That leaves one crack where enough water could get in, causing water damage and mold infestation. You can imagine how I feel about a mold infestation in the house my soon to be 1 year old lives in.

I have these horrible images of my beautiful basement, which aside from the open concept kitchen, was my major contributing factor to buying this house, being gutted on a mold and water hunt.

The precise reason that I bought a newer house was to try to avoid the whole roofing/foundation problems as long as possible. The bill to fix the cracks will come out to about $3K, and I was told that there's a possibility I could recover some of the costs in court or through insurance, but it's not about the money. We have enough in our contingency fund to cover most of it, and I'll just have to reroute a couple of my extra mortgage payments to cover the rest. But that doesn't include the brick repair, or the air quality testing in the basement.

More important than the money is that I know that I'm going to be paranoid for the next few years about every creak that my house makes, every rainfall and every freeze/thaw cycle, and be on the lookout for more cracks, more possibilities of my home being ruined and my investment going down the drain. I'm guessing that it will take me a long time to get over that.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Baby's First Steps

Baby's first unassisted steps came this morning, around 8:00. At 10 months and 2.5 weeks. He's got about 3 real words down, and about a half dozen baby words, where he makes a noise to mean something in particular. Every day there's something new...but I'd by lying if I said that I expected him to learn all of this so fast.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I guess addiction is in this year.

Drugs, booze, tobacco, sex, porn, food, shopping, work, email, everyone has an addiction. Whether people look up to you or down on you for it, depends on what it is. It's funny, how easy it is to become a creature of habit and to depend on ingesting, doing or seeing certain things on a frequent basis. There must be a biological reason for it, but I think there's also a sociological reason for it.

In today's (North American) society, we're having more and more things planned for us, and we're constantly having the consequences to our actions thrown back in our faces. Start saving for retirement. Raise your kids properly or they'll be axe-murderers. Find a good job. Do your homework. Diversify your portfolio. Eat your veggies. The focus is not on the here and now. The focus is that we're spending too much time in the here and now, and not worrying about the future. Which, based on what I see around me, is basically true.

But there's something almost carnal about addiction. Addiction is the opposite of planning ahead. Addiction is give me what makes me happy, right here, right now, consequences on myself or others be damned. Whether it's snorting coke, cutting yourself, or bench pressing 300 lbs, the goal is to get yourself into that position as much as possible, for as long as possible, and reproducing that high from getting what you want, when you want it.

Sure, people check into rehab after a while, but that's only when they want to reprogram themselves, or if they're forced into it by law. As long as the high is still enjoyable, there's no need for rehab. It's only when your brain forces you to consider the consequences, the destroyed relationships, the empty bank account, the ill-health, that the long-term outweighs the short-term and the body and mind seek to rebalance themselves.

I have to admit, there are days when holing up in the Chateau Marmont and indulging my every whim sends like a fabulous alternative to everyday life. And I'm probably the most long-term oriented person I know. The only way out that I know of is to find healthy addictions. Working out, spending time with family and friends and eating healthy can become every bit as addictive as all those nasty vices, but in a positive way. It's all about finding routines that are productive, and not destructive.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Be Careful What You Wish For...

So, I'm on a REALLY short list for a not-unsubstantial promotion. Specifically, it's between me and one other person. It's a fairly high-profile job, with travel, clout in the industry, etc. And it's about a 10K raise. I should find out whether I've been selected in the next few weeks.

If I do get offered the job, I'm a lock to accept, right? I'd like to say yes, but it's not that easy.

Through my contact network, I've found out that people in the job I've applied for have a burnout rate of approximately 80%. Not good. Too high to be a fluke. This job is tough. It's a high-risk, high-reward proposition. If I survive, the contacts I'll make will benefit me for the rest of my career, and I'll certainly be able to parlay this experience into a high-flying executive career. If I don't, I'm one more ego on the scrap heap, another promising manager this job has chewed up and spit out. And that's just me, there's my family to think of too. Will I end up being more of a liability around the house if this job saps my life force even more than my current one does?

There's also the fact that as much as I bitch about my work, no one can deny that I've done something of value there. My unit had its best year on record, with gains that are directly attributable to my procedural changes and motivational techniques. All of that, and I didn't manage to get everyone on board with what I was doing. Every day, the results improve, and I get more buy-in. Another year in this job and I might cause enough good to impact the entire organization. Or screw-ups elsewhere could make whatever I do a moot point as we're all shown the door.

Nobody ever said it would be easy, but I've never been presented with dueling possibilities that both have the potential of being win-win or lose-lose...