Sunday, April 30, 2006

With Parents Kind Of Weird

Anyone who's grown up Mormon knows such classic song lyrics as "I am a child of God, and he has sent me here, has given me an earthly home with parents kind and dear kind of weird..." and "High on the mountain top, a banner is unfurled rabbit chased a squirrel..." and has at least once recited the thirteenth Article of Faith as "We believe in being honest, true, chased by elephants..." In my family, we have a sort of a tradition of making up alternative lyrics to hymns and Primary songs. My dad sings "Bob, the builder of the nation" and other songs.

This afternoon as we were leaving church, my kids started to sing "Mother, I love you, Mother, I do..." to which I replied to the melody, "Show me you love me by cleaning your room..."

It's great to pass on a family tradition.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Check Out My New Digs

I've got my website up on the new server now, and I've got SSL so people can order securely now! Do go and check it out. I've worked very hard for the last two days to get it up and running. And the Earth Day Sale is still on through April 30. After that it'll be the Mother's Day sale, so I've got to get the products I'm wanting to put on sale listed on the website.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Expecto Petroleum

A very cogent explanation of the basic factors that go into gas prices, and how we can affect them. Sometimes it seems like everyone expects the President to have the power to come in and protect us all from Evil High Gas Prices, but in truth the consumers (collectively) have more power than he does.

Link via QandO.

MORE 4/26: Here's another article explaining why gas prices are high, only with smaller words (it's directed at Bill O'Reilly). Link via Right Wing News.

Now if only we could get Doug Wright to learn a little something about gas prices. I love his show, but when it comes to gas prices, he's just not packing a full sea-bag; he thinks (like many people do) that high prices have only to do with oil company profits. It never ceases to amaze me how otherwise intelligent people can lose all rationality over the price of gasoline.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Run Around

I've attended and worked at universities before, so I'm no stranger to the bureaucratic run-around. But this is just about the worst run-around I've ever been given, and since I've been to graduate school, that's really saying something. Test your bureaucratic run-around experience now, and see if you can follow this:

There are two companies involved in this: Capital Merchant Services, which facilitated the contracts I have with some other companies, and EPS, the company that provides the credit card processing. When I opened my merchant account through Capital, EPS sent me a welcome letter that gave me two phone numbers they called "the only two numbers you will ever need": a Customer Care number, and a Tech Support number.

I called Capital to find out how to hook my website up to EPS so that credit card transactions through the website could go automatically through them without me having to manually enter the credit card numbers in the NURIT POS terminal (credit-card swiping machine). I had looked and couldn't find a payment module that would allow ZenCart to connect directly to EPS. Capital said the module might be compatible, but I'd have to call EPS to find out. I called EPS Customer Care and they told me to call Tech Support.

I called Tech Support and they had me leave a voicemail for someone named Tim. Days passed, and Tim didn't call me back, so I called Tech Support again. Tech Support told me they couldn't help me because it was after hours (it was a Friday evening) and I'd have to call back another day. Hoping to avoid calling during a weekday (when I'd been on hold for half an hour listening to a message about their "award winning customer service") I called Tech Support back on Saturday during daytime hours, but again I got the after hours support that couldn't help me.

So today (Monday) I called during the day. To my delight, the phone was answered almost immediately; but the person I got ahold of at Tech Support told me that (a) she didn't work for EPS (yeah, that was my reaction too) and (b) the Tech Support line is only for tech support for the NURIT POS machine, and that I should call Customer Care. So I called Customer Care and was told that I had not reached EPS there either (!!!!!!) and that I should call Tech Support for the answer to my question. I told them Tech Support had just sent me over to Customer Care, so they said to call Capital. I called Capital but they didn't have the answer any more than they had last week. I knew they wouldn't be able to help me, but I called them anyway to ask if they had any other way to contact EPS other than the useless Customer Care and Tech Support numbers. Capital suggested I try the EPS website.

I went to the EPS website and looked at the contact information. It was the same two numbers. But they had a Feedback Form, so I filled out the Feedback Form. But when I went to submit it, THE THING HAD NO SUBMIT BUTTON.

Maybe it's a Firefox thing, I thought, so I tried it in IE. IT DOESN'T HAVE A SUBMIT BUTTON IN IE EITHER.

I had one more thing I could try. I called their corporate offices. The receptionist (of course) couldn't answer my question, but she could transfer me to the voicemail of someone named Tim.


At least now I have Tim's extension number and I can pester him directly tomorrow.

UPDATE 4/25: I got right through to Tim on the first try, and he said he thought the module would work just fine. See, wasn't that easy?

UPDATE 4/26: is perfectly happy to accept my credit card authorizations... for a $300 setup fee, $20 a month, and 10 cents a transaction. Not gonna work. I'm already paying for a merchant account; I don't need another.

The Bagel Lexicon

Bagel loves "cookies". He even devoted a whole sentence to them; he took a ring-shaped bath toy and bit it, saying "I bite cookie!" Bagel defines "cookie" a little different from the rest of us, though; for him, any disc-shaped food is a "cookie". So zucchini slices are "cookies" as well.

Bagel also defines any spherical or roughly spherical food as a "ball". Apples, oranges, tomatoes, meatballs, and bell peppers are all "balls". He recognizes the names of these foods, but when he talks about them he calls them all "ball". We play a little hand game called "round apple" and to ask for it, he does the beginning motion of it in his hand and says "ball". So I know he knows what I'm talking about when I say "apple;" it's only a "ball" to him.

Why am I blogging about this? Because if you ever encounter Bagel, you'd better be prepared to feed him. :)

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Motherhood, Explained For Geeks

This is a modified version of how I explained to FH why I really don't want to homeschool the kids next year:

We are running four programs: Princess 8.8, Sonshine 6.4, Bagel 2.2 and Knuckles 1.0. If you run all four of them simultaneously, there's not enough bandwidth left to run applications like Cleaning 2.0 and MommyNaps (which can only be accessed when Bagel 2.2 and Knuckles 1.0 are running in "hibernate" mode). If we don't run Cleaning 2.0 then Husband 3.5 encounters fatal errors, and if we don't run MommyNaps then Husband 3.5 can't access the out-put of Mommy 3.2.

So if we run all four simultaneously all the time, as we'd have to if we were homeschooling, Bad Things Will Happen.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Hush Money Is Taxable!

An interesting case-- the court has ruled that hush money is taxable income!

Link via Instapundit.

Mama's Got A Brand New Blog

I've been asked to be a contributor to the Alliance For School Choice's new blog, And here's my very first post!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

We're Getting A Divorce

Recently I threatened to leave my husband and go live with my brother-in-law... well, my domain did, anyway. FH has been running both and the Hermit family's personal website on our craptastic little server, which is down a lot and is badly in need of a new motherboard. I'm sure that in future years, when my e-commerce business has brought us fame and fortune and we are living in our gigantic dream house with the duck pond, the industrial kitchen, and the three home theaters, we will look back on these days and laugh and say, "Remember when we had that server that you held together with chewing gum and duct tape?" But until then, my domain name and FH's server are getting a divorce.

It's not just the down time. The straw that broke the camel's back is the SSL certificate. I've gotta have one to accept credit cards, and FH tells me that if I want to have one, I'll have to have my own IP address. So I'm looking for a new apartment a web hosting service, preferably one that offers very inexpensive SSL certificates. If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments. In particular I'd like to know: if I get the $20/yr certificate from, will it be OK? Or is it worth it to pay the bigger bucks?

It'll be better this way. Our computers won't fight over little things like rebooting the server or reconfiguring the LAN any more. The kids will be much better off.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I Got It Done... Sort Of

I think the thing that bothers me most about my life is that I can never get anything all the way done. Part of that is just normal to having kids; when you're trying to do stuff with a kid on each hip, you always feel like you're wading through chest-deep molasses. But I can deal with that part. The part that I have trouble dealing with is the part that I call "the little black raincloud that follows me around and rains only on me."

For some reason that I do not adequately understand, I have a higher-than-normal incidence of things that should by all accounts go right, but manage to go wrong anyway. Just when I think I've dotted all my I's and crossed all my T's, something that only happens to one in a hundred people will inevitably happen to me. A typical example is what happened with our home loan, wherein after spending weeks talking to the loan officer and making sure we had all the required paperwork, a week before we were to close we had to find a different loan because the loan officer failed to pass on an important fact to Underwriting. I believe I inherit this condition from my dad, because it happens to him too.

The result of this condition is that I never get to enjoy finishing anything. So often it happens that it's not over when it should be over, that I just can't deal with the constant surprise, so for my own sanity I have to just assume that nothing is really over until long after the last activity on the issue, at which point there's no joy in celebrating it.

Yesterday, I drove home from Logan in the snow with four children and a ramshackle van with the world's most ancient and humungus rooftop carrier. I filed my federal tax return and paid my state taxes. I made my bank deposit from Baby Animal Days. On Sunday I received the last of the money for my old house and handed over title. But I can't celebrate accomplishing so much, because I'd bet good money that at least one of these things is not all the way done. Here are some of the ways I predict something on this list will go wrong:
  • the bank deposit won't be credited properly to my account. (I already peeked online; it was supposed to be there at the end of the business day and as of last night it wasn't listed in my account activity)
  • it'll turn out I was missing a page or something from my federal return and I'll have to pay a penalty.
  • the state will receive my e-filed return, but for some reason will lose my tax payment and/or not connect it with my return, even though it was paid in a seamless process with e-filing.
  • it will turn out that the guy I talked to at the DMV* about transferring title knew absolutely nothing about what you really have to do to transfer title to a manufactured home, and we'll find this out when the new owners go to get title put in their name.
  • it's still snowing and I can't unload the van because I have to climb up on a ladder to unload the rooftop carrier, and it's not safe to do that in the snow.
I will be highly surprised if the bank deposit shows up, the feds send me my refund without any problems, I don't get a letter from the state saying I have a penalty for non-payment of taxes, the title transfer goes off without a hitch, and the snow stops later this morning and I can get my stuff out of the van. If all that happens, maybe then I'll have something to celebrate-- but it'll take several weeks from now to find out if it really is all done, and by then it'll be anticlimactic.

* Manufactured homes that aren't on a permanent foundation are treated legally as a sort of car. They're titled through the DMV, the loans on them are basically 30-year car loans, and owners of them have very few of the rights we associate with owning real estate.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Seder Dinner

Last night I attended Seder dinner at my sister's house. I was late arriving because I had to take down the booth at Baby Animal Day. I missed the Plagues and arrived just as they were singing Dayenu. I didn't get to sit through very much of the rest, though, because the minute I arrived I was beset by small crying boys. First I had to nurse Knuckles, and then Bagel wanted his mommy and wouldn't quit crying, so I took him out and nursed him too, just to get him to shut up. He found it utterly incomprehensible that we would be sitting at the table, surrounded by the smell of food, and not be eating anything but the Froot Loops that he'd been offered as a snack. Fortunately by the time he was done nursing, it was time for the meal. Then I nursed Knuckles again, and then Knuckles got colicky, and after that Bagel got whiny and tired so I put him down in a bedroom to rest. He promptly opened the door and went to play with the other kids, and while I wasn't looking he drew blood on Knuckles' face in two separate spots. Did I mention we're supposed to get portraits taken of the kids on Monday?

Sometime between nursings of Knuckles (it's all sort of a blur) was the hunt for the Afikomen. Princess found the Afikomen for the third year running and brought it proudly into the dining room followed by a parade of sad children screaming that it wasn't fair. Papa asked her how much she wanted for it, and she said "Ten dollars." After some serious bargaining she gave it up for one dollar. He told me we'd have to work on her bargaining skills, to which I replied, "She got you to pay the maximum amount you would have paid out, didn't she?" He couldn't argue with that, since it was true.

Shameless Blatant Advertising

Did I mention that I've put up an Earth Day sale on my business website? 20% off all organic cotton products between now and April 30.

OK, between whenever FH gets our server back up and April 30. Help us pay for a new motherboard for our server! Order something today!

Baby Animal Day Sucks Less For One Day, But Still Sucks Overall

Baby Animal Day sucked considerably less on Saturday. Being inside the Livery Stable, and not having my merchandise blowing around or covered in straw, got me considerably more sales than I'd gotten the previous two days. I wish I'd moved in there earlier on Friday with the gourd lady. Hell, I wish I'd moved in there Thursday as soon as we realized the wind would not allow us to set up at all. This might have been the $500 show I dreamed it would be if I'd done that. But it just didn't occur to us to set up indoors until Friday. I hate being so sleep-deprived. I come up with good ideas like that when I've had enough sleep. I think my IQ has dropped about 10 points for every child I've had.

My mom came out and bought a whole bunch of my stuff to give as gifts to her friends and colleagues. I don't know whether to hate it or love it when she does that. Of course, I love that I'm selling merchandise, and that it's being distributed to other people (free advertising!) and it seems like it should be a win-win situation-- she gets gifts to give out and I get money. But it makes me want to say "really, Mom, I'm not eight years old any more and you don't have to buy my silly little crafts just to boost my self-esteem." Especially since my silly little crafts are no longer selling at the 25 cent price point they were at when I was eight.

After these last three days I'm physically and mentally exhausted. My face itches from the sunburn and my feet hurt. I need about a week off, but I can't take it. I've got to try to promote my products even harder now that the business has bills to pay. I started an Earth Day sale on the website (20% off all organic cotton products thru April 30) and I've gotta find some environmental bulletin boards or forums that allow advertisements, so that I can promote it. (If you know of any such sites, e-mail me or drop a comment.)

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Baby Animal Day Sucks, Part 2

The second day of Baby Animal Days has gone worse than the first. I got set up inside my tent in the morning, and took pictures of my displays for my application for the Downtown Salt Lake City Art and Craft Market. Right after that it started raining.

The rain wasn't so bad-- it was only drizzling off and on, and it didn't seem to affect attendance. And in fact it wasn't the rain that made it difficult for me; it was the microburst winds. I very nearly lost my canopy and at one point I was holding it down and screaming while my merchandise fell over all around me. With great effort I closed my sidewalls and dropped my canopy to half height to give it a lower profile. Then I kept banging my head on the lowered framework, so now I have a bruise on my sunburned forehead.

The lady who was in charge of the vendors was nowhere to be found (it turned out she had gone to run an errand in Lewiston, on the Idaho border), so vendors just started packing up and moving indoors. By this point we didn't really care if she had a particular place indoors where we could set up. Half the vendors just went home. You can't sell in conditions like this. Me, I went inside the livery stable and set up next to the lady who had been next to me earlier. I know her from the Cache Valley Gardeners' Market, and although we were not really good friends, she was very nice and watched Knuckles for me while I set up my displays. She had been doing very good business since moving into the livery stable earlier in the day, when the wind was only just whipping the rain inside her sidewall-less booth.

The floor inside the livery stable was covered in straw, but at least it wasn't being blown around. My booth is now over in the corner where it can't be seen by people walking into the stable, but it can be seen on the way out, when it's not blocked by people in line waiting for face painting.

To be honest, I was expecting some wind because of the location being right at the mouth of Sardine Canyon, but not like this. If I'd known it was going to be this windy, I'd have stayed in Tooele, where there is so much constant wind that it must be being farmed for export to other places in Utah.

I did even less business on the second day than on the first, which I didn't think possible. Forget about bringing home $100; I'll be lucky to make back my $50 booth fee. I certainly won't be coming to do Baby Animal Days again.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Baby Animal Day Sucks

So far, Baby Animal Day sucks.

I arrived to set up my booth at 7:30 this morning. By about 10:30 it became apparent that this was not going to happen. We were getting tremendous high winds, Big Bad Wolf type winds that were blowing everyone's tents down. I barely got mine up, and I couldn't get the sidewalls put up because they were whipping around. It hurts, by the way, to get caught in the face by the corner of a whipping sidewall. So my tent was up, but my displays kept blowing over. It was just impossible to sell anything; I couldn't even set it out.

The show organizers were friendly and offered to help us move to a different location. Unfortunately, the only available location that was any less windy than the one we currently had was along the side of a building in full sun. AWHC volunteers helped us move to different spots around the area. I was able to get my booth set up by about 1 pm. The lady next to me, who was selling very lightweight decorative gourds, was not able to set up at all even on the leeward side of the building, so she just packed up and went home. So I sat in the sun all by myself with tiny Knuckles, trying to keep him from the sun and the blowing wind.

The wind, in the meantime, was kicking up all kinds of dirt and straw (which had been spread all over this particular area for some reason, perhaps Old Western atmosphere?) I spent most of the remaining time picking straw off my merchandise. When I packed it up at the end of the day, everything was covered in bits of straw, dried grass, and dirt. This wouldn't have been as much of a problem if I'd been in my original spot (where my tent was still standing because if I tried to take it down it would have blown away) because there was no straw there and I would have had my sidewalls to keep blowing dirt out.

And to top it off, I only made $27 in sales. I'll be lucky, I think, to make back my booth fee on this show. I'd been hoping to bring home a good $500, but I just don't think even that will be possible. The worst part about it is the one thing everyone is asking for is kids' tie-dyed t-shirts, the one item I did NOT bring with me because sales of them were so incredibly slow at every other show that I didn't think they'd be worth bringing.

So here I am with a sunburned face and no bacon to bring home, and I have to do this for two more days. I am so discouraged and disappointed, but if I cry about it my face will just sting even worse.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

How Not To Burglarize A Laundromat

Brought to you by Stupid Criminals. [emphasis added]
A man accused of burglarizing a laundromat in Elko figured he made a clean escape over the weekend when he took off with the store's six video surveillance cameras.

But it turns out he left some rather compelling evidence behind _ the video machine and videotape that recorded his face each time he stood in front of the cameras at the Southside Laundry.

Elko police said they came away with several close-ups of the suspect, Robert Lynn White, 52, Elko.

And even if the portraits were a little fuzzy, police said they would have been able to easily identify him because he was wearing cowboy chaps and a trench coat, the usual attire he wears around town.
He's lucky the fashion police didn't get to him first, or he'd be up for even more jail time.

Monday, April 10, 2006

A Metric For Cuteness

I think cuteness should be measured as adorability per unit of volume. That would explain how a baby who looks just like his dad can be so much more cute than his dad. It's the same amount of adorability, concentrated in a much smaller package.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

What was I going to post about again?

While I was posting the previous post, I completely forgot about what this post was supposed to be about. Oh well.

Peek Inside Wacky Hermit's Brain

Easter eggs are dyed in an acid dye process similar to that used to dye wool or silk. This can be done on the stovetop with food-grade dyes like Kool-Aid. Would it be possible to dye the eggs and hardboil them at the same time by a similar process?

That's the sort of thought that just floats randomly through my head.

Rabbis Allow Leavening For Passover?

Evidently some rabbis are now allowing baking soda and baking powder as kosher for Passover! (Link via Chequer-Board)

Actually, it makes some sort of sense. Yeast (an organism) is a very different sort of leavening agent from baking soda and baking powder (which make use of a chemical reaction between acids and bases). One of the main differences between yeast and baking soda/powder is that yeast improves its leavening ability with time, while once you mix a baking soda/powder batter the clock is rapidly ticking on the efficacy of the leavening. The whole point of the unleavened bread is that the Children of Israel didn't have time to wait for the leavening and had to leave quickly, so that would indicate a yeast leavening. If the Children of Israel lived now, they probably would have made quick breads instead of yeast breads for a faster getaway.

Friday, April 07, 2006

April Showers?

I just took a peek at the 10-day weather forecast for Logan, and it looks like they're predicting rain for all three days of Baby Animal Days. How will this affect sales? I don't know. You'd think that rain would drive people away from a venue that's bound to be muddy, but one of our best sales days at the Gardeners' Market was the day it was pouring rain. Why? Because our 10x10 canopy-covered booth was configured in such a way that people could stand inside it, and a lot of the other booths weren't. People came into our booth to get out of the rain, and when they did, they saw all the really cool stuff we had and bought it.

This year we have an even better 10x10 with nice zippered sidewalls, which the other one didn't have (we used a sheet of plastic to make emergency sidewalls that rainy day) and we also have a credit card reader to make those impulse purchases a little bit more convenient. Also I have a propane heater that can help keep customers (and Knuckles) warm. So maybe these April showers will bring May flowers.

UPDATE 4/8: I checked the forecast again and now they're predicting rain only for Saturday. Probably they'll change their minds about it again before I actually get there.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Harry Potter Speculation

The last Harry Potter book is in the works, and there is a lot of speculation about what will happen in it. Most of it, in my opinion, is REALLY reaching. You get theories strung together out of the most feeble connections. My attempt at a feeble theory goes like this: The word "ube" is part of the inscription on the Mirror of Erised; ube is a kind of purple yam; purple is the color of royalty; Snape is the Half-Blood Prince; Snape is a potions master; a potion weakened Dumbledore; Dumbledore knew about the Mirror of Erised; therefore Dumbledore is a horcrux. QED!!!!

OK, folks, we can all be reasonably certain that Slytherin's locket was the one the kids found in Number 12 Grimmauld Place back in Order of the Phoenix. And Mundungus probably has at least one horcrux in his possession (if he hasn't sold it yet). As for the rest, it's kinda pointless to speculate. Only Rowling knows for sure, and she's not telling. If we spend the next two years getting devoted to our pet theories, it's only going to spoil the book for us when we discover we were wrong. (Harry/Hermione "shippers," you know what I mean!)

Let's just enjoy and appreciate Rowling's work to date.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

This says it all

Forget all the rhetoric about illegal immigration; this is why we need to reform our immigration laws.

Personally, I support some sort of what people are calling "amnesty" so that we can put a quick end to this sort of mess, wipe the slate clean and start over.


It looks like Bagel's going to be left-handed like his dad:
He also eats and colors with his left hand and not with his right.

It's Really Happening!

They broke ground on the new IKEA in Draper!

A commenter asked in an earlier post about IKEA why I liked that store. It's all about the cheap furniture, baby! Style is nice, but I have to go with cheap, so whenever I can get cheap and style, it's all good!

If I were Empress though, I would make IKEA use standard hardware instead of this specialized stuff with the hex slots. So if you hate having to use a special tool to assemble your IKEA furniture, vote for me for Empress!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Inventory Tracking Schemes

The new merchant account is kind of crystallizing some thoughts I've had about inventory tracking. I've really waffled on the issue of how to organize my inventory, but I think the new system I'm implementing now will be easier to use, if only because it will be well-defined.

When I first started selling my products, I didn't track inventory at all (I was thinking I'd just get some money out of my yarn stash by making it into stuff and selling it). When I started getting more serious about it, though, I noticed that some colors sold better than others and I wanted to get some data on that so that I could forecast demand. As I started getting a larger selection of colors, though, it became tedious to track every item of each color in the inventory. I also started making these really cute seasonal scrubbers in whatever design and quantity suited my latest whim, and some of them (like the Thanksgiving turkeys) used multiple colors.

The way I used to track which ones were selling was to give each item a removable price sticker with its item number on it. When I sold an item, I took the sticker off and stuck it on my copy of the sales receipt. This proved to be somewhat kludgy at the point of sale. Sometimes the customer liked holding the item so much that it was impolitic to ask her to relinquish it long enough for me to get the sticker off. Also, I did a show that had central checkout, so I couldn't make my own sales slips or ask the cashiers to jot down my item numbers. And on top of that, I had to make sure each and every item had the proper price sticker on it, and I had to print out all of these stickers. I've got a stack of price sticker sheets nearly an inch tall, each with a different item number on it. Clearly, this is not going to work on a large scale.

With the POS machine I got, though, I can record cash sales as well as credit card sales. To make things easier, I should record all sales through the machine so that when I batch it out at the end of the day, I will have one slip which will total up all my day's sales and I won't have to reconcile it with my handwritten sales slip book full of stickers. I can track what items were sold by doing inventory at the end of the show. I won't be able to distinguish between purchases and shrinkage, but then again it really doesn't matter that I can't, and it will save me the tedious task of figuring out what sold on which receipt at what price and why my totals are off by the price of one scrubber.

So I've made an Official Color List that lists all the colors of stuff I make. Now I am making a table that shows which items are made in which colors. Then I will go through my item list in Quickbooks and the corresponding one in ZenCart and make sure I have an item listed for each combination of color and style. And since I've made the 10th my deadline to finish merchandise for Baby Animal Days, I will conduct a physical inventory on the 11th and make sure all the quantities are correct. This will probably take me several days to do, with babies crying on each arm. But it should be very worthwhile. I will still be able to track which colors are popular, without having to muck around with the specialized price stickers. (I will still need to make price stickers, but they will only have prices on them and not item numbers, and I can put them on when I do the inventory and take them off when I do inventory at the end of the show.)

The Real Sweatshop

People who live in the richest country on earth complain that people in poorer countries work for a buck or two an hour in sweatshops (never mind that those are good wages where they live).

Now think of a woman making $5.15 an hour. Maybe she's not a single mom, but is working for extra dough to help pay the bills. She has to pay $2.50 per hour per child for day care. Suppose she has one child. Every hour she's at work is an hour she has to pay for child care, so she's effectively making $2.65 an hour. If she has two kids, she's only getting 15 cents an hour, and if she has 3 or more kids she's paying for the privilege of working. But, but, this is a GOOD thing because women should be in the workforce, RIGHT???

Who works in the sweatshop now?

Monday, April 03, 2006

Adventures in Toilet Repair, Part 2

I spoke waaaaaay too soon in my earlier post about fixing the toilet. Replacing the bolts and the gasket didn't help at all. The tank just kept right on leaking. I tried tightening the bolts down a bit, but it didn't stop. Then I got a flush valve and replaced it too (although I did have help with that one from a neighbor, since by then it was Friday and my in-laws were on their way to the airport coming to visit me), along with the gasket (again) as we noticed that the brand-new gasket I'd just put in was, for some inadequately explained reason, porous. We looked for cracks in the tank, but couldn't find a single one.

While complaining about the toilet to my sister, she said, "Why don't you just replace the tank? We got one at Lowe's for $15." It was a brilliant idea. I went to Home Depot this morning and I got a new tank for $24. (It costs about $10 in gas and an hour of time to drive to the nearest Lowe's, so it wasn't worth checking to see if they had a cheaper one.) This tank is the same brand as our toilet and appears to be absolutely identical to our old toilet tank in every respect save one: it does not leak.

The tank is now happily installed and it works just fine. It needs a bit of adjustment to the ballcock, but other than that it is great and required only a small wrench to install. It's been an hour and a half now, and the toilet still fails to leak. I'm not quite ready to declare victory yet, but the tide of battle has definitely turned in our favor and (I hope) is almost over.

UPDATE 4/4/06: The toilet continues to fail to leak and the ballcock is now properly adjusted. Yay!