:So the big question is: what do I do about the blog now that BHM is no longer paying me to do it? You had some good thoughts on that.
Actually, the big questions are both that and how do I plan for/budget for the final enormous project(s) on Ye Olde Wreck, which I hope to tackle next spring and summer?
These big questions dovetail. Bear with me a moment.
The back half of Ye Olde Wreck needs a new foundation: replacement of three beams 24 to 38 feet long, all new posts, jacking the floor up four inches, and replacing or sistering some as-yet-unknown number of rotted floor joists. Oh yeah, a little earthquake engineering and bug treatment, too.
It’s also time to address part of the reason the foundation is shot. To wit: drainage. On three sides, the surrounding ground is higher than the foundation and slopes sharply so that runoff goes — guess where? — under the house.
This is the worst slope. But elsewhere, where the slope isn’t as drastic, the area affected is wider. We’re talking earth moving, retaining walls, gravel, and possibly French drains.
Foundation and drainage: two beastly, tricky projects that need to be tackled as one.
After that, the house will be fully sound — at last. Years of work remain, but it’s work like siding, deck building, painting, drywalling, minor electrical and plumbing, flooring, and landscaping that can be done in bits and pieces.
Ye Olde Wreck will be a wreck no more. Just an everlasting hobby.
I’d started to save for the twin monster projects and was paying down house debt from the last couple years of improvements when I got the word about the blog.
Now, I have to stress again that Dave and Annie are talking with me about other work that, if it comes to fruition, will more than make up for the lost blog income. They’ve been great. And of course you guys click those Amazon links and keep me going.
But in the short run, I no longer have a source of income I was counting on. And frankly, even if I still had it, I’m not sure I’d have been able to swing that foundation work.
A couple of years ago when the roof was leaking and part of it eventually collapsed I held a “roof raiser” and you bowled me over with generosity. I’ll never forget the flood of help you poured over me. Maybe that was once in a lifetime. Maybe it’s too much to think it could, or should, happen again.
And right now … I’m not asking. I’m not even close to asking. You can keep your wallets in your pockets and your PayPal accounts untapped.
Here’s what I am going to do about the blog, though: For now, nothing.
I’m just going to go on blogging as if nothing’s changed. For the next three months, that’ll still mean fairly “lite” blogging because I’m offline at home. But come mid-August, expect almost-daily posts again. With no donation button. No bleg. No whining. Also no moving away from BHM unless Dave kicks me out. Basically … no changes. (Well, not quite true; following the advice of Commentariat members who suggested possible ways to monetize the blog without tapping into BHM’s scarce funds, I’ll definitely be talking with Dave.)
Then, sometime late this year or early next, when I’ve gotten a better idea how much I can earn and save toward the foundation work on my own, I may need to hold a “foundation raising” and turn to you again.
If so, at that point I hope that everybody who benefits from this blog will kick in a little something. Or a big something.
If not, then not. Who knows what the state of the world or the state of anyone’s personal finances will be then, in this crazy time? I remain humbled and grateful for the way you all put a better roof over my head. Always will.
But however life and finances work out, sometime between now and this time next year, I need to put my best efforts into ensuring that this crazy old house gets a solid foundation — one that will stay there until the day I die.
As of now, BHM is no longer paying me to write this blog. Just got word on Saturday.
They’re not closing the blog down. I can continue to write it on my own, if I wish. And Dave Duffy has offered me “behind the scenes” types of work and possibly print work to make up for the loss. (BHM is like a good family that way.)
Jackie Clay has also been offered similar terms. Only Mas Ayoob’s blog is unaffected, far as I know.
Of course, because the Duffys have always allowed me those wonderful Amazon links and occasional use of the PayPal donation button, I still have some income from the blog — just considerably reduced and not as predictable or steady. The weekend’s blow is compounded by the fact that my other online work, The Zelman Partisans, is strictly volunteer. Now I have to wonder about the best allocation of my time and effort.
Yet, I love what I do and would do it all for nothing if I could afford to. And you guys are a great, smart “social circle” I don’t want to abandon or do without.
So I’m contemplating what to do from here on and wonder if You the Commentariat have some suggestions.
I’ll be back tomorrow late morning with a regular blog post (and to catch up on overdue emails). Will check in with you then to see what you have to say about this.
And the thing I think Elias would most like you to know about (and contribute to): a a new movie he’s hoping to complete with a little help from friends.
Currently the site is a mix of the new and old, with navigation not always smooth between its component parts. But then, it’s a work in progress. Just like Elias himself. Just like me. Just like most everything.
I’ll ask Elias to keep me posted as he adds new features.
Full moons are a mundane experience, but seeing a fat red moon rising over the hills is as close to true magic as ordinary life comes.
A few years ago, it occurred to me that each number of full moons alloted to a person is finite. An obvious observation, I know. But still one of those things that hits you hard at the moment you observe it.
If life goes along in it’s merry way, I may have 200, even 300, full moons left. That sounds like a lot of full moons. Surely I can afford to squander dozens of those in busy oblivion. But what about the day when you’re finally down to one full moon — and you can’t even be sure of that?
Appreciate those full moons, dear readers. Or those puppy kisses or orgasms or moments of cuddling your spouse or pushing your child on a swing. Or those bites of rare steak or chocolate cake. Or those pink and gold dawns. While you’ve got them.
Mike Vanderboegh, good man that he is, has considered what will happen to us and his causes after his last full moon has gone down: His son has taken on the blogging at Sipsey Street. Big shoes to fill there, son. But thanks for stepping into them.
The Big Scary Project drags on. I’ve been Handyman Mike’s Official Minion the last two days and will probably be so until the end of the project. Exhausting!
Mike worked all weekend and tells me he’s been working weekends for a month or so. It shows. He’s never been exactly a fast-moving kinda guy, but between that and his Perpetual Life Crisis, hours have been short, productivity hasn’t been good and “mistakes have been made.”
A day off would be a blessing for him, but the only realistic way to achieve it is to hustle harder for the next three days so he won’t have to work this Sunday.
We did have good news from the plumber, who stopped by for a quick look and gave us a super-favorable reality check on our work (such an appearance is, as Mike puts it, “like getting an audience with God). Now … all we need is to work hard, work smart, and not uncover too many surprises.
The fixed star is the long-arranged plumbing appointment on Tuesday. Three really good days and Monday as a failsafe day will do it.
Now I’m off to start the prep for tearing down the interior wall that contains the sink and shower plumbing. With that, the bathroom will begin to take on its new shape and location. Wish us luck!
Meanwhile, long-time Commentariat member MJR has started his own blog, Situation — Hopeless but Not Serious, which you might enjoy perusing. He says Joel and I are his inspirations. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad one.
Then Y.B. ben Avraham writes about the rabid “boycott, divest, and sanction” movement that’s the latest respectable facade for hatred of Jews. Yes, you can have issues with Israel and a state without animosity toward Jews; but as Y.B. reveals, that’s not what BDS is about.
I won’t go into detail about how my PayPal account became overdrawn.* It was a mistake (not mine). The mistake-maker assured me the problem was resolved days ago. PayPal being PayPal, though, what’s “resolved” on one end may not be on the other. So there’s a $50 negative balance and nobody will fix it. That means I can’t use my account.
No problem. Hey, I’ll just add money. There’s a handy-dandy button for that. But suddenly, for me, the button yields only a variety of bizarre messages (“talk to the person responsible for setting permissions on your account”) that leave PayPal customer service reps as baffled as I am.
This became a four-hour customer service nightmare this lovely Sunday morning. I won’t go into detail about that, either.** Except to say that PayPal’s customer service makes the famously bad Comcast service look like a concierge operation at a fawncy hotel by comparison. And except to say that one rep told me (humiliatingly) that I’d have to deal with their collections department. Then he cheerfully transferred me to collections — without mentioning that they’re closed today.
And of course, PayPal being PayPal, they can’t be bothered with an automated “we’re closed today” message. So there went yet another half hour of my life, listening to endlessly repeated mini-lectures from a voice that sounded increasingly smug by the moment, until — for the second time today — I hung up without managing to speak to the human in some other department who was supposed to help.
Not only that, but the fifth PayPal rep I talked to — who I’d already told that story to — also tried to transfer me to collections.
I know Peter Thiel hasn’t run PayPal in more than a decade. But its service was hair-tearingly deplorable a decade ago, too. Hard to believe that a man the media lauds as a great libertarian created something that operates so much like the freakin’ DMV. Or the IRS.
If you ever need a reminder of how little you really matter to institutions, corporate or governor, just call up PayPal and ask them something really, really simple.
Oh, and the problem never did get resolved. You didn’t really think it would, didja? I get to call collections tomorrow and present myself as a deadbeat making amends.
Not only is it a place of some lively blogitude and comment. Not only have we had 4,000-some visitors in the 10 days since the Lovely Nicki put up a counter. Not only has social-media maven Nicki gotten us somewhere in the vicinity of 1,100 Twitter followers in a matter of days. But we’ve gotten our first interview request (which Sheila will handle), a couple of requests to join, our very first donation (a monthly commitment, yet!), and demands for logoed tee-shirts, fridge magnets, etc.
Whew! Workin’ on it, workin’ on it!
For a bunch of volunteers who are putting this thing together in their scarce spare time, this is awesome.
But then, so are the volunteers. And so are the hardcore rights advocates who won’t settle for compromise.
* In case you’re wondering, all those wonderful donations got moved out of PayPal almost as soon as they came in, thanks to PayPal’s other notorious habit of arbitrarily freezing accounts just when they have nice sums of money in them. PayPal: can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em. Someday — soon — they’ll lose their de facto monopoly, and on that day they’ll rue the fact that they treated their customers like crap all these years.
**Yeah, you’ve had experiences exactly like this, right? You don’t need to be told anything.
After you’ve had a look at that post, be sure to go back to the main TZP page. There’s really a ton going on, with recent posts from Nicki, Sheila, and our newest scholarly rabble-rouser Y.B. ben Avraham. AND we’ve now been joined by — ta da! — Ilana Mercer, the very well-known paleolibertarian/classical liberal writer.
Ilana and I (and you) may disagree on a fair number of issues, but she’s a great addition to TZP, whose writers already have a variety of styles and perspectives.