I should’ve been a plumber

A plumber came over this morning and gave me a quote for an outdoor valve job that I didn’t want to tackle. It was delicate and had a combo of brass and PVC parts, plus was something we just couldn’t screw up (pool fill valve). Not a big job, but I wanted it done right. I expected him to charge between $100-200, and his quote was $850! I was shocked and politely sent him away, after paying the mandatory $49 service fee.

Two hours later (and one of those hours was going to the hardware store), I have the damn thing fixed. Parts were $40. Their profit on my job, had I not been able to do it myself, would have been at least $750 – less than $40 for the parts and probably 30 minutes for a “professional” to do the work I took an hour to do.

750% profit on a 30-60 minute small job, all in. How do they stay in business with prices like that?

My least favorite Senator

Mitch McConnell is on record recently saying something I’m having a hard time with. During an interview this week he said, “One hundred percent of my focus is on stopping this new administration.” Really? That’s your priority, your big idea? In that case I have a few questions for you.

Senator McConnell, the new administration has rolled out the COVID vaccine with remarkable efficiency. The United States is now #1 in getting its citizens immunized. Do you intend to try and stop that?

Senator, the US economy is now on a growth trend that would see 15-16% GDP growth in 2021, largely thanks to the Fed’s management of money supply and the injection of stimulus cash into the economy. Why would you want to stop that growth?

Er, Senator, approximately 2% of the Biden administration’s COVID relief package will go into KY citizen’s pockets, based on population. That’s $40 billion dollars benefiting KY. Are you intent on stopping that? And what will Kentuckians think when they don’t receive the relief they were counting on?

And finally Senator, the Biden administration is getting our soldiers out of Afghanistan after twenty years of heartbreaking, useless fighting. The last four Presidents have tried, but Biden is doing it. Would you like to keep our soldiers in Afghanistan? Why?

I could go on, but you get the idea. I surely hated Trump, but McConnell was and is a close second. We have a radical conservative Supreme Court because McConnell broke all norms and twisted the law to take power that wasn’t rightfully his. Reforming the Senate with term limits is my #1 wish for fixing the US government – McConnell’s power is an aberration that we should not let happen again.

Update: Just one day after I wrote this, Digby says pretty much the same thing about The Gravedigger.

Recovering workaholic re-retires

I hit two or three milestones yesterday that are worth celebrating:

  • I moved from “part time” (2-3 days/week) on my quantum computing project to “very part time” (2-3 hours per week). While I really like the project, I also like being mostly retired.
  • I finished work on a big proposal for my other company. Even more time back in the retired column.
  • I forced myself to get out of the house in order to start a series of Monday golf lessons. It felt great.

All along I planned that the unretirement, begun in January, would be temporary. And now it’s here. Time for a nap.

Run for the roses

Watching yesterday’s Kentucky Derby was cathartic. For the first time in what seems like a decade, it was a beautiful sunny day for The Derby in Louisville – no rain, no mud. And after Derby Day was scratched in 2020 (a dim, no-spectators version of The Derby was run in the fall, but it just wasn’t the same), yesterday’s return to sartorial and horsey glory was needed.

I watched most of the races, aided by fast-forward through repetitive backstories. Cousin Donnie and his wife Kristen were there as guests of Mandaloun’s owner, sending the occasional text and pictures from the inner circles of Churchill (must be nice). They had an exciting final race, as Mandaloun came in second by only a half-length. Exciting but crushing – placing second is the worst for a true competitor.

I got plenty done yesterday, but it was relaxing to tune in during the day and watch Louisville have a good day for a change. Kentucky culture showed pretty well, IMHO.

(Beautiful photo above by Jamie Squire/Getty Images).