Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Never-mind, nothing is good.

So remember the whole "If the stopgap oil lasts" bit?

It lasted about a quarter as long as it needed to.  Now I'm struggling to get money into the right fucking state because I'm not there right now, but even if I can do that and stop things from rupturing between now and when the actual lasting oil arrives, I'm still completely screwed because the money I'm spending on stopgap oil is coming straight from money that I need for the god damned regular oil order.

Among the myriad reasons why one gets regular oil from people who deliver it in trucks with one giant tank on the back instead of a handful of five gallon containers is this:

The amount of stopgap oil it will take to last the nine fucking days from now until when the regular oil arrives will cost (this is a very rough estimate) about $200.  Now with the price of oil at better than $2 a gallon, I couldn't actually make a $200 order from a regular provider given a minimum order of 100 gallons, but if I could I guarantee you it would last longer than nine god damned days.

Oil from non-traditional sources is expensive.  (Think of it as a bulk discount when buying from actual heating oil companies.)

So, I'm utterly screwed.  I'm going to pay to keep the heat going (and thus the system from rupturing) but it means that I've got nothing to pay the actual ordeal-ending order with save faith.

I'm tired.  I'm sad all the time.  I'm low on energy.  I'm out of faith.

To the people who helped me out, thank you so much.  I might have only gotten around to making the update earlier today, but I've actually had hope for days.  It was nice while it lasted.  You did what you could, and at any other time it would have been enough.  I'd have had my tank more than half full days ago.

The fact that the problem wasn't, ultimately, solved doesn't make me appreciate what you did any less.

A generally positive update

If the stopgap oil holds out, which it will need to do until the 18th (the 15th was the most optimistic estimate) then I will be getting a respectable amount of oil and I will have the money to pay for it.

I screwed up something somewhere so I'd be a bit short in spite of definitely having enough, but Christmas was recent and that resulted in some incoming funds.  Not much, but enough.

If the stopgap oil holds out.

I haven't been well.  I've been stressed and tired and low on energy and I still want to curl myself up into a ball and cry until the world leaves me alone, but that doesn't detract from the fact that the previous is a very good thing.  Another disaster (probably) averted.

Arisia starts Friday.  Given that every penny I have needs to be saved to pay for heating oil (in cash, if you were wondering) on the 18th, I'm not exactly going to be able to buy anyone a stuffed squid this time around, nor make children's short sighted dreams come true.

That's fine.  Keeping my house livable (the boiler would burst without heating oil to keep it from freezing over at night) is more than worth not having little things like . . . what did I even pay for?

I've still got the pendant watch I got myself.  It's an owl, which means Athena, which reminds me of a friend from university since she's his patron.  I think I loaned money for the munchkin weasel to get that brass telescope.  Like the pendant it has yet to be lost.  She still uses it.

There were other things.

I . . . feel so fucking useless.  I'm not going to look at how long it's been since I wrote fiction because I think it'd be too depressing.

I'll see what I released first-on-patreon and then never got around to releasing over here.  Then I can get some content to whoever still follows this.  You deserve content, even though I'm not producing anything.

Friday, January 5, 2018

I ran out of heating oil again.

[Note: this was written yesterday. Apparently I forgot to publish it.]

There's a blizzard.  If not for the blizzard I would have left today and not realized I ran out of oil.

If not for an appointment yesterday, I would have moved up my travel plans because of the blizzard and likewise not noticed the problem.

At the same time, I knew full well that something was wrong.  Coldness has had a foothold in this house that it should in no way have.  Given where I sleep this has meant enduring frigid conditions every morning and night.

What I couldn't find was the source.  It's not like a window was open or a door was ajar.  There is not some giant hole in the side of my house letting heat out and cold in.

I think I finally found the source.  After running out of oil.

I didn't see this coming at all.  I never burn through oil nearly this fast, even with the obvious heating difficulties, I didn't expect to be out again so soon.  Not even close.

So, I'm kind of fucked.

Minimum order is $289.90 (if the price remains the same) I have $246.44, and of that $275 is already spoken for.  In other words, I have about negative thirty dollars with which to pay a bill that's about three hundred dollars.

If I can postpone paying a bill that's already a month late, and I cash in some Christmas presents, I think I can make that minimum order work.  Maybe.

Or maybe not.  I'm going to need to get some stopgap oil in the tank right now so the pipes don't freeze between now and when the order (the one that I can't place because I can't afford it) is filled.  That costs money.  Money I don't have.


I think I'm going to cry for a bit.  And sleep upstairs for a change I guess.


There's a fucking blizzard.  How the Hell am I supposed to clear a path to the oil intake between now and when I have to leave tomorrow when the pre-blizzard snow level was nearly enough to bury a car?

Fuck fuck fuck FUCK.

Fuck all this shit.


My original plan for today involved writing out all of the bad shit that happened between my last post and today, thus getting it out of my system, putting all of the stress and fuckiness behind me, and hopefully having some kind of light and fluffy post in the next couple days to end the god damned dreariness that's descended on my life in general and Stealing Commas this past year.

Not only did I not do any of that, I ran out of oil and am now facing . . . I lack the profanity to adequately express the current situation.

That gives me an idea.


In today’s modern Galaxy there is, of course, very little still held to be unspeakable. Many words and expressions which only a matter of decades ago were considered so distastefully explicit that were they merely to be breathed in public, the perpetrator would be shunned, barred from polite society, and, in extreme cases, shot through the lungs, are now thought to be very healthy and proper, and their use in everyday speech is seen as evidence of a well-adjusted, relaxed, and totally unf [bleep!] ked-up personality.

So, for instance, when in a recent national speech, the financial minister of the Royal World Estate of Qualvista actually dared to say that due to one thing and another, and the fact that no one had made any food for awhile and the king seemed to have died, and that most of the population had been on holiday now for over three years, the economy had now arrived at what he called, “One whole juju-flop situation,” everyone was so pleased he felt able to come out and say it, that they quite failed to notice that their five-thousand-year-old civilisation had just collapsed overnight.

But though even words like “juju-flop,” “swut,” and “turlingdrome” are now perfectly acceptable in common usage, there is one word that is still beyond the pale. The concept it embodies is so revolting that the publication or broadcast of the word is utterly forbidden in all parts of the galaxy except one - where they don’t know what it means. That word is “Belgium” and it is only ever used by loose-tongued people like Zaphod Beeblebrox in situations of dire provocation.

Belgium man, Belgium.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

I've given myself a concussion again

To speed recovery from concussions, you avoid screens, so I'm just going to copy and paste from a comment at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings:

Last night I hit a low hanging pipe* because I'm the only one in the house tall enough for the pipe to be a hazard so there's no need for anyone else to acknowledge it exists, much less warn people about it.

Point of impact was my forehead. It was, hands down, the hardest I have ever been hit** in the front of my head. Not only did my head get banged but my fucking shoulders felt it when inertia was suddenly carrying them in a different direction than the rest of my body. At least, I think that's why my shoulders felt it.

Given the shoulders thing, it should come as no surprise that my spine also raised objection. I felt the individual vertebrae (which are normally indistinguishable for me) go, "What the fucking FUCK!?"

And, for all of that, I seemed to come away unscathed.

I didn't mention it to anyone at the time because, after consideration, I didn't see the point given how stressed out everyone else had been and the fact that, it being over, there didn't seem to be anything that could be done.

Lonespark is right that I should have known better.

So here is where things stand: It's the next morning and it feels worse than it did at the time. Moreover, it's a different kind of bad. Signs point to possible concussion. Also, who knows what's up with my neck and upper back portion of my spine.

[Massive edit]

Concussion confirmed, sort of, in spite of the difficulty of getting a diagnosis where my insurance doesn't exist.  Long version of the part of the previous  sentence that comes after the comma:

MaineCare basically doesn't exist outside of Maine.  Exceptions are technically possible, but I haven't met one yet.  As a result the urgent care people, who were largely unhelpful and merely confirmed that what's going on with my head isn't worse than a concussion, had to be paid out of pocket.  Not my pocket because that things empty.  Lonespark provided the money which was, if I remember correctly, $169.

I wish I could pay that back, but I can't.  In fact, things were worse than I realized because in my struggle to pay off the non-usual expenses I neglected about $130 dollars of usual ones.  That's taken care of now, but it means that when previous calculations would have me well on my way to paying the property insurance (which I've lost track of: I think it was ten dollars less than usual so that would be $278, but I'm not sure) I actually have only about ten dollars to put towards it right now.

[/massive edit]


On the broken fucking record front, for anyone who wants to help probably all you can do is send me money. It'll take a major part of the stress off and also mean that I won't be looking at a screen (screen time slows recovery) as much since one of the main drivers of screen time at the moment is the panicked frenzy of trying to figure out how to make it through December.

In theory, if I make it through December the months long train wreck will be over. In practice . . . no clue.

Paypal can be used to send me money via my email address cpw [at] maine [dot] rr [dot] com. This method is preferred. There's also a donate button in the upper right corner of Stealing Commas. Patreon won't help me in the least right now*** since it won't pay out until month end, but unlike paypal it doesn't utterly fail when it comes to monthly payments. It's here.


* A big sturdy metal one that would make for an overpowered melee weapon if you cut it into a length short enough to wield, definitely could stop the strongest sword, the sharpest sword, and whatever sword had the perfect placement between "strongest" and "sharpest".

** Well, technically the front of my head was doing the hitting while the pipe did what TV Tropes calls a "No Sell".

*** But in the long run makes this bullshit less likely.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Regularly Scheduled Finance Post

First off, updates from the things on the emergency post:

I was able to make the minimum order on heating oil.  The oil I had ran out before it was delivered and I wasn't there to bleed the line to get the furnace restarted, but my sister was on hand and got it started before the temperature dropped to "Pipes freeze; Everyone dies" levels.

So that's one disaster averted.

The other thing is the property insurance.  I've managed to get wiggle room of the property insurance.  So that's not averted but postponed.


Second, where things stand now:

It is my rough estimate (rounding so no cents, certain things involved were ballpark figures) that I need $464 by year's end and about a hundred of them before the the 23rd of this month.

Come January I'm in fresh start territory.  Sort of.  Not like I've been saving up for the coming non-monthlies, but the first of those isn't until February so there's some time.

Basically, if I make it through December this months long financial train wreck will be over.  My computer has been repaired, though it'll be over a week before I'm in the same place as it, meaning that I don't need to buy a new warranty like I would if they'd deemed it irreparable.  The warranty, though, expires soon so the next time something goes wrong with the computer I might be forced to buy a new computer at full price.  So . . . that's a thing.

Not planning on breaking my ankle in three places again, so the other major cause of all this will, let us hope, not recur.

There are still structural problems, but they take some time to build up to the point of catastrophic and hopefully they can be dealt with before then.


Short version: all of the previous crap has left me around $464 short this month, but if I can get through this month I should be over the last after effects of all the previous crap.

Paypal button is in upper right-hand corner, though if you have a paypal account and are paying from your paypal balance or your linked bank account it's actually better for me (I get 100% of your donation, no fees) if you send the money using my email: cpw [at] maine [dot] rr [dot] com.

If you want to make recurring monthly donations, Paypal has always failed to do them right, but I have a Patreon account set up to do that.  (Plus, they decided not [yet] to go through with the horrible fee structure change.)

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Emergency early finance post OR Oh my fucking God, I need heating oil now!

The good news: I am not, at this present second, out of heating oil.  The bad news: I'm close enough to out of heating oil that I could be by the end of the day and my sister thought I was out yesterday because the gauge is that close to empty.

This is, of course, a horrible time to buy heating oil, but one might recall that for the past several months I've been in an utter panic about one protracted financial disaster that wasn't heating oil related.

In fact, in the document where I keep track of my finances, heating oil has been listed under "Sword of Damocles" for some months now.  Before this particular cycle of financial panic, there had never been a "Sword of Damocles" category.

If I want to fill the tank it'll be around $469.80 depending on the fluctuations between now and when it's filled and also how much (really how little) is left in the tank.  It's a two hundred gallon tank, so if I wanted to get a hundred gallons and hope for the best when it runs low again it'd be half that.  150 gallons is my usual order, which would be three quarters that.

In addition to heating oil, the insurance (which you may recall I lost track of when it was due) has finally come up.  Sort of.  I totally forgot to take into account the fact that when I'm paying something by giving cash to someone else it means that the two of us need to be in the same place at the same time.  As such I kind of need it circa ten days early.  So before the tenth.  So right fucking now.  That's usually $288 but it's lower for some reason, (maybe the property depreciated?) so it's $27[?] with the [?] there because this computer has a habit of crashing when I would really rather it not.

As, for example, right after I finished typing the last sentence.  Because apparently it has a sense of drama.

Oh, and this is also a horrible time to buy a bus ticket, so I could really use $20 to $30 dollars there.  In a real hurry.

So, that's anywhere from around $540 to around $777.  Yay.

I said, I'm pretty sure, that oil and property insurance were the last things before I was officially through the protracted financial catastrophe and out on the other side, but I never really ran the numbers on them, and thus never quite had an adequate sense of continued panic.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Computer Update

When I sent out my computer it was with four concerns two of which definitely required replacement parts (cheap easy to replace ones), one of which probably did, and one of which was entirely unknown.

That was 15 days ago.  They said it would probably take two weeks and, in fairness, it usually does.

Them giving updates leads to some questions (like: how the fuck did it take you three whole days just to get it out of the box it was shipped in?  You people picked the box and packed it yourself; why not do it in such a way you can unpack it without calling in the jaws of life!?) and awareness that the way the log information is odd (when they discover something which causes them to do something, they log doing the thing some fifteen to twenty minutes before logging the discovery that prompted the doing) as well as some frustration.

They knew, abso-fuckingly-lutely sure, that two parts needed to be replaced before they even received the damned thing.  Why, then, wait a week to put in the order for parts?  Better still, why does deciding to get parts which they have on hand stop all work on the machine and knock it back to the wrong end of the queue?

"Good news, we already had the parts that we needed to keep on working and it only took half an hour for them to get from storage to where they can be used to complete your repair.  It's all set up and ready to be fixed now, don't you worry.

"By the way, everyone working on fixing your machine has been indefinitely reassigned and it'll take us two days to find someone new to work on it.  Have fun!"

Since when is the appropriate response to, "We'll have to wait half an hour," "Let's take two days off!"?

In fairness, again, of the 15 days my computer has been gone, they've actually been nominally trying to fix it for . . . almost four hours.  by their own accounting.  I have no proof that they were actually working for all of the time they say they were working, but I'm trusting, so they get the benefit of the doubt.

Also to lend fairness, they did eventually notice a part that they didn't have in stock, and for the past 4 days they've been waiting for it.  That's time when they, at least theoretically, couldn't work on the computer.  There was also the time it took to actually reach the service center.  So of the 15 days my computer has been gone, the service center has only been "working" on it for six days.

That works out to a whole 40 minutes of work put in per day.

Truly I feel that they are working hard to fix my machine.

~ ~ ~

This computer needs to be tethered.  I think that it's lost the ability to interact with the battery, but it could be that the internals are ok and the battery is just so fucking dead that it registers as not even being a battery.  Part of me wants to try replacing the battery even though I don't really have money to spend on such a thing, but:
a) That might not accomplish anything if it really is the computer, not the battery, that's the problem, and:
b) This computer is slow as all fuck.

If I have several tabs open in chrome then the computer turns into a slide projector.  It's really, really frustrating.

I can't do much of anything interesting, which you would think might spur on my lagging creativity, but the tethered thing keeps me basically tied to the chair.  I can go as far as the floor in front of the chair, but unless I'm willing to leave the computer entirely that's the limit.

It's often the case that I'm not willing to leave the computer entirely or I am willing, but the creative thing in question demands I be able to use a computer.  (A lot of my ideas require me to be able to do a quick internet search from time to time, for example.)

As a result I've been literally sedentary.  ("Sedent" means "Sitting".)

I have a better (ish) computer that I can use, but it has its own problems that lead to its own unpredictable no-time-to-save crashes.  At the moment that's a bigger frustration than being tethered and having everything be slow as fuck.

Anyway, my energy drains away as much as my creativity already has and everything seems to just become a mass of hopelessness.

Though, on the bright side, someone used my Amazon wishlist to get me an awesome blue lego dragon, which I have put together.  When the Lego Elves line started releasing dragons I allowed myself the indulgence of getting the orange one, so all I need to do is dig that up and the two can play.

So that's where things stand.

Figured an update was in order.

Signing out.