My household uses the garage mostly for storage. Some of the electrical equipment that runs our computers is kept in there. When our computers started fizzing out — but only on rainy days — we discovered our roof had leaks. The previous owner apparently had the "Character Disad: Believes he's a handyman" — since when one of my housemates went up onto the roof to check it out, he found a couple of real obvious roofing errors… things like wood screws driven through the protective tarp layer thingie under the shingles, and soft spots around them… which indicate places where the wood is starting to rot.

So after much finagling (it's apparently roofing season!) we finally got some folks out to fix our roof. Yay! We picked some lighter colored shingles and some shiny guttering, which looks pretty cool. Having roofers up there does, however, lead to some curious/amusing situations… for example, the workmen have a radio up on the roof with them. I'm totally good with this, since I'd want some music too if I were working that hard in the hot sun — it's supposed to go up to 103° today! But that also means that occasionally weird things occur while we're walking through the house — like the chimney or the bathroom skylight apparently singing to us, as the roofers place the radio in different locations!

On the whole, I think we're going to be very happy with this new roof. The roofers have been very fast and professional, especially considering how difficult our roof is. Not only is the house quite big, but our roof has several valleys in it, which apparently funnel water into them and if you don't do a really good sealing job — which the previous owner did not — you end up with a serious issue of wood rot underneath the shingles there. Guess what we had? These roofers, however, did some good, efficient carpentry before re-laying the sealant and the shingles. Apparently the sealant is something that sort of heat shrinks on, which impressed the heck out of me. Yesterday was 99°, yet they were waving a heat gun around — with actual flame coming out the end! — to make sure the roof was properly sealed.

Further, not only are these hardworking men impressive as heck… but they think my Goldie is a beautiful pup — so they must be good roofers! :-)

Once the roof is completed, we're probably going to need to paint the house — it looks a little odd with the slightly brown-gold tinge to the roof and gutter, and the slightly cream-green tinge to the faded paint. We have plans to use some of the extra gutter to make a nice little row of hanging herb gardening on one of the outside walls as well — that should look nice, I think!

They say when it rains, it pours — and that certainly seems to be the case here as well. Part way through the roofing repair work we discovered our sink backing up seriously. Also, occasionally the clothes washer would splort out water. The clothes washer didn't worry us too much since it's in a built-in trough with a drain, but the sink was a bigger issue, especially since we put drain cleaner down it two or three times and it didn't really fix the issue. So we called a plumber, he put a snake down the drain, and somewhere after 50 ft. it got stuck. That was exciting! Not.

So with our permission he made a thing called a trap, which is where you dig a hole down to the sewer pipe, cut a careful square in the sewer pipe, and then put another different kind of snake down it. This kind of snake has an IR light and a tiny little camera at the end of it. It makes for really cool looking pictures in brilliant color, since it's showing heat, which isn't in our regular vision field. What that showed us was that shortly after the pipes leave our property, they feed into a galvanized pipe that goes down underneath the next patch of land after ours to the road where the main sewage pipe for the county is… and that galvanized pipe is seriously cracked!

Fortunately the patch of property between us and the road is open field, so we think we can get a county easement to dig in there if we need to. Unfortunately galvanized pipe supposedly gets brittle after about 50 years, and guess how old this is? We think it's up to 80 or so, but we're not sure. So we're going to have the plumbers get the easement, dig up the old pipe, and replace it. It's going to be… exciting! Expensive! However, better to get it done and fixed for the next 50 to 100 years — apparently they use PVC pipe instead of galvanized steel now, and it lasts longer. So life goes on in the quarantine. It has its upsides, it has its downsides, but we'll survive.

Oh! On top of that, and on a more personal level, I've been working on my dissertation. In the process of doing so, I got a new chair when the old one broke, and I got a nice, bigger screen when I inherited one from one of my housemates after he got a larger, nicer screen. This is all fine and good, except that my ergonomics are apparently not as good as they should be. Because I've been slouching and/or hunched up a bit so that I can see what I'm doing, I've managed to pinch a nerve in my back.

Holy flying dog turds, does that hurt! I have never before had pain so bad that I was actually struggling with tears. Ibuprofen didn't even touch this sucker — but fortunately when I talked to the doctor online (those online appointments are really nice and fast!) she prescribed me some really good drugs. Hallelujah for really, really good drugs! I am actually functioning again — there was a period of time there where defenestrating myself to stop the pain kind of sounded like a good idea. :-p

The downside of pinching a nerve in one's back is that the nerves travel out to the rest of the body. Obvious, I know, but you don't really think about it until it happens to you — or at least that's how it was for me. So the fingers of my right hand were tingling enough that I would occasionally flub typing — I am dictating this right now, in fact, while lying flat on my back on a cold pack to ease the nerve inflammation — and while the tingles are getting better, I still haven't fixed the ergonomics in my desk. I'm not quite sure how I'm going to do that, but it absolutely must be done, because I've got to get back to work on my dissertation!

I'm going to be really, really glad to get this dissertation done — thank goodness it's coming along nicely! But there are things that I want to do, and new things I want to try out, and other stuff I want to experiment with — and I don't want to get distracted by anything else until the dissertation is done! That's a downside. On the upside, the dissertation is turning out really, really cool! I absolutely love when I'm doing research and I learn new things, and some of the things that I assumed were right turned out to not be quite as right as I thought, and — best of all — there are unexpected consequences that are really, really cool!

Also, the other day my sweetie & I had what I think may be a really good idea for a non-profit that might help me and other students with student loans, which is something I may try once the dissertation is completed. The nonprofit would be designed so as to accomplish two goals: one, help us get through our student loans, and two, get our writings out into the world!

One of the things I've noticed is that so many students write these amazing dissertations and theses… and then the work disappears into school archives and ProQuest and is effectively never seen again. I can understand this, since after you've written a dissertation, from what I've been able to see, most people are sort of 'all wrote out'! They don't want to worry about writing anything anymore. Further, and honestly, most people don't really want to read an entire, scholastic dissertation — they want to read something that's written a little less academically and a little more for the lay person.

So if there was an educational non-profit whose goal was to publish people's really good dissertations and theses, but in lay person's language, and it "hired" those former students — even if only for an hour a month — then I think there's the possibility that the students who were hired by this nonprofit would qualify for student loan forgiveness after 10 years! I'm going to have to do more research on this, of course, to be sure I'm doing it right — but I would really love to be able to help myself, my fellow students, and the people who get to read this amazing research — in a form that would actually speak to them!

So right now life is overheated, a little ouchie, and not going as smoothly as I'd like… but you know what? Talk about first world problems! I have multiple opportunities ahead of me to potentially make life a lot better for myself and a lot of other people — this is a goal I can really enjoy working towards! So yeah, I guess life is good! Thanks for reading. :-)

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