June 28, 2011

Hippy Traveler

Somewhere in the last year I've become a hippy traveler. Last time out - paisley roller board, matching toiletry bag, black computer bag. Your typical corporate road warrior, skewed a little geeky and independent.

This morning - cargo yoga pants, a backpack, minimal toiletries in plastic bags. I check a toolkit, but carrying on everything else.

Summer conceit? Or is this a shift in my attitude and energy, as I evolve away from a more formal, eager to please consultant and towards a laid back engineering guru who can take or leave these sorts of on site consulting gigs.

June 14, 2011

Do-It-Yourself Basement Pron

Documenting my little "never want to empty that dehumudifier bucket again" project.


(A) Bought a small drain hose ($7, Loew's) which screws onto the dehumidifier drain, directing extracted water into

(B) The reservoir of the sump pump (Little Giant model VCMA-20ULT, $45 online including shipping and handling). When reservoir is sufficiently full, the pump turns on, sending water through a check-valve into

(C) 3/8" plastic tube, which I've run up the wall, into the ceiling, and down to the

(D) washing machine drain, where it empties. The pump turns off when its reservoir is empty, and the check valve keeps the water from flowing back into the pump reservoir.

The only improvements I might make are:

(1) Place a shallow plastic tray or container under the dehumidifier and sump pump in case of some sort of failure or loose fitting. Just an extra level of safety....

(2) Run the drain into a large container with a tap or faucet (like a water cooler) which I could then recycle for houseplants / grey water. Although I'd have to be sure that did not overflow.....

The pump is very quiet, I almost never catch it working, especially compared to the relatively loud dehumidifier. FWIW, I also have purchased a high current receptacle timer, designed especially for motor drive appliances, to cycle the dehumidifier (on at night, off during the day) if the cycling starts to bug me.

The Model VCMA-20ULT is perhaps a bit overkill (20' Head, 1.3 Gals/min) for my application, but there was not much difference in price between this and the next size down, so I thought it best to be conservative.

June 07, 2011

Burning the Candle at Both Ends

I've been running pretty hard lately. That's nothing new; I tend to thrive on a busy schedule, multitasking, and a bit of chaos, but it's gotten out of hand. I guess it did not strike me how busy I have been until this afternoon, as I was sending out an update to a client.

In the first seven calendar days in June, I've done over 20 hours of billable work for my main client. This client typically averages ~30 hours a month; June is on track to hit 80 hours (I doubt the pace will continue, but still....). Now as a consultant, I set my fees so that I'm happy with 20 billable hours a week; this past week, this one client alone has paid my salary. This comes on the heels of a pretty typical May (30 hours) and I am sitting on 8 hours of pending work right now.

That would keep me humming right along, work wise, but on top of that, I spent 25 hours in the yoga studio this past weekend, assisting the teacher training. Amazing work that I would not trade for anything, but it's time away from home and other work. I've also taught 5 yoga classes in those seven days. The ticket launch at my second largest client continues (thankfully slowing down, as they settle in to the system and the bugs are slowly found and corrected), but they did drop a few hours of website updates on me.

And things are slipping through the cracks. I have not gotten my June 1 invoices out yet (tomorrow, for sure). My house is a wreck (although I've been doing pretty well with making the outside summery). My fridge is some combination of expired and empty.

Bottom line: It's hitting me how much pressure I am under, time wise. I'm actually doing pretty well with it all - the dog gets walked regularly, I'm caught up on laundry, I'm getting fairly decent sleep, I'm getting in some decent yoga practice. But I do need some down time - a walk in the woods, a few hours with a book, a movie, or a night out with friends.

This week is not going to help much - working at the studio Wed night and Sat morning; Kirtan on Friday night, and a bunch of classes to teach and appointments. But I can already feel a bit of easing; I spent the entire day at my desk catching up on work reports - a few hours tonight and I'll be officially on track. And the calendar for next week looks fairly empty.

With all the folks struggling financially, out of work, underemployed, I should count myself as lucky. I have an incredible palate of income producing opportunities - well paying engineering work, engaging website stuff, and spiritually nourishing work at the studio and teaching.

But balance....there's the rub.

Rube Goldberg

My efforts pale in comparison to the technological marvels envisioned by cartoonist Rube Goldberg. However, I spent a few minutes and a few dollars creating my own contraption.

My condo has a basement that is about 50% below grade. I have an office down there: carpeted floor, lots of printed material and supplies, a few computers, printers, and network devices. So a recipe for high humidity.

I bought a dehumidifier when I moved in, but emptying the thing has become a chore, especially this time of year. In other homes, I was able to drain the dehumidifier into a basement drain, or elevate the dehumidifier so that I could use a washer drain, sink, etc. But not here. So last week I purchased a small sump pump with a reservoir, a check valve, and a roll of 3/8" plastic tubing. Voila - self-draining dehumidifier that pumps water up and overhead, into the washer drain.

I picked up a Little Giant pump, model VCMA-20ULT. When the reservoir fills, the quiet pump switches on and pumps the water over to the washer drain; when the reservoir is empty, the pump stops. $35 at Amazon.....

I'm going to get a small plastic tray or tupperware container to set the pump in (just in case, as much as I love technology, I know it also fails occasionally) but as of right now - I'm happy to not be schlepping the dehumidifier reservoir up the stairs a few times a week.