The Situation, Day 24

03 Apr 2013

Original Blogger tags: The Situation 2013

So, first some positive news. I’ve confirmed that my first unemployment compensation check was deposited in the right account.

Our 2012 taxes are mostly done, waiting on a single form to verify a number. We should be getting a modest refund, so that will help with things a bit.

I have a rescheduled phone interview this morning — this time hopefully without any confusion over phone lines.

On the lead exposure issue, we’ve applied to get our house and property thoroughly tested for any lead hot-spots, but the office wants documentation that our property taxes are fully paid up. Because I guess that’s the most important public health priority when dealing with children with lead poisoning…

A reporter from the Saginaw News has expressed in talking with us about this issue, so we’re thinking that over. I don’t really want to be part of another story about what a disaster Saginaw is, although it is hard not to feel like this place with its crappy city government and fleeing professional class has been doing its best to either poison us or drive us away.

I finally got that damned antique shorted-out light fixture re-wired. It took forever to find wire of the appropriate size to thread into it. I tried four or five pieces of regular 16- and 18-gauge lamp cable, but they would not fit because the squared-off insulation made them too fat to pass through the fixture. Yesterday I bought several different gauges of single-conductor wire, in case I could not find any zip cord that would work. I wasn’t looking forward to trying to stuff all that through the hardware and what it would do when I had to twist it. But I finally found some 18-gauge zip cable that would fit, so I’ll be returning four different spools of wire un-opened.

This fixture has what I consider to be the dumbest design imaginable — you have to pass the cabling through a a sharp-edged hole, then through a chain, then through a threaded tube, and the socket screws on to the end of the threaded tube. You have to have the wire ends screwed onto the socket, but then as you screw the socket onto the threaded tube you can’t see the wires, and if you screw the socket on too tightly it will cut through the insulation on the wires and short it out. And meanwhile you are twisting the wires as you screw the socket on, which makes it likely to either pull them out of the screws, or break the wire, or scrape through the insulation. So I was trying to find a dental mirror so that I could inspect the wiring once it was out of view.

I can think of at least three minor design changes that would make the whole thing far, far easier to rewire. I wound up breaking the first replacement socket, and I had to look far and wide to find a ceramic socket that seemed better-constructed. Did I mention that the original parts are all very old and corroded? I was sorely tempted just to put up a new fixture altogether, but I think this one might date back as far as 1927, and it’s pretty, so I wanted to preserve it, just bringing it more-or-less up to modern code.

I had to wrap the interior of the brass lamp components and the back of the socket in insulating tape because the exposed tabs on the back of the new ceramic socket might come into contact with the shell otherwise. That’s why the lamp was shorting out — the ancient insulating paper had burned away, probably due to someone using too hot a bulb at some point in the past. I now have a Philips LED bulb in the fixture. It should not generate enough heat to cause any trouble. These bulbs, though, have suddenly become incredibly scarce in the stores, and the ones I saw for sale were no longer about $25, but $45. That’s crazy. Especially since they are all made in China. But that’s a pet peeve to vent about another time.

It was continuing to flake away to the point where the wiring was arcing against the brass shade. I actually noticed this happening the very first time we toured the house, but I attributed it to the old knob-and-tube wiring in the upstairs, which we had replaced — I thought the knob and tube wiring was shorting whenever there was a heavy vibration. It wasn’t that. It was this lamp.

Hopefully it should be good for another 86 years now.

UPDATE: completed the phone interview — it went, I thought, pretty well. I’m supposed to hear back from their HR department as to whether they want me in for a face-to-face interview. Please keep me in your thoughts!

UPDATE 2: Password for the state unemployment site came in the mail (finally) so I was finally able to get signed in and update my work search contact notes. LinkedIn profile updated, too, and I’m in conversations with a couple of other recruiters. Got some additional errands run this evening — unused cable returned. Also, bought some new work clothes! Stuff on sale from Macy’s. It’s been a busy day… tomorrow will involve a trip down to Ann Arbor with Grace.

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