Monday, January 28, 2008

Is last week over yet?

Had a hell of a week last week...

I think we accumulated more credit card debt in the last week than in the last two years. Of course since we've always paid off every month, that isn't hard to do; but still.

Thankfully I'm still in introductory interest land on one of my cards (1.9% yay), and "same as cash" land on another so the interest isn't going to be an issue; I just hate loading up like that.

So beginning of last week, my router died; the second in about four months. Better, it died in the middle of the night; and I work from home. 24 hour super Wal-mart it is then.

The very next day, I had a monitor die. I go out an grab a replacement, and the next morning, it turns green.

No seriously, it turned green. The backlight went nuts or something.

Anyway I had to haul my ass back down to the store; and of course they were out of that model, so I got my refund credit and then back to Frys. They have that model (for more money of course) and the sales guy goes hunting for it. 20 minutes later another sales guy goes and finds on in two seconds for another customer; it turns out our guy was looking for the wrong one.


Anyway, that accomplished... two days later, Mels monitor (a ten year old CRT) goes TU. This time we get a new one for her at Costco, because they have one she likes for a lot cheaper than other places locally... or even on line when you count shipping.

Then of course we get the "put up a shed or pay a $2000 fine" note... Ok, my card is starting to whine; but I order the materials for a shed ($850 worth; but there's no room for the stuff in the house, and I'd rather spend the money than get the fine).

Friday, our couch dies it's final shuddering death (literally. It shuddered and collapsed). It did yeoman work for two and a half years; which for an $800 couch, having to live with us, two kids, two dogs etc... Well, we got our moneys worth out of it.

So Mel heads down to the furniture store of the perpetual clearance, and finds a massively discounted sectional for us. Half price, plus 5 year unlimited warranty, plus 18 months same as cash financing (actually is same as cash, no interest or penalties. Pretty good deal actually).

Only one thing, it's FRIKKEN HUGE.

Seriously, It's a standard L shaped sectional with the gentle curve in the middle, and it's 11 feet in the X and 11 feet in the Y. Our living room is long and narrow, about 28ft by 12 ft, and this thing takes up about half the room.

At this point my debt free lifestyle is screaming for mercy. Honestly I LOATHE debt. If I could have avoided doing this I would have. Sometimes life just decides you're going to do what it tells you to. I've learned that if you ignore life when it's telling you that, bad things happen.

...And of course, this is just days after handing $20k to our lawyer (that part is at least going well - more news in a couple weeks. Oh and believe me if it weren't for all your help, we wouldn't be thinking about using the cards, we'd be sitting on the floor, with my power tools for company in the living room, and the desktops would be temporarily headless. As it is, because of your help with the legal expenses, we can actually take some of our income and use it for paying off credit cards - which we have always done every month, up til now - rather than sending every extra cent to the lawyer).

So in addition to all this, it's been wet and rainy all week; and Thursday through Sunday it gets kicked up a notch. Torrential downpour, flashflooding... We live in a flood control zone, with a canal, and some collection basins that are golf courses when they are dry. At the moment, theres a 7 mile long 200 yard wide lake running down the middle of Scottsdale.

Honestly, we need the rain, so I'm not complaining about that. The problem is, it's been over 70% humidity for the last week; and as anyone who hass spent much time here knows, high humidity means sudden, instant, massive amounts of mold spores in the air.

... and I've been fighting with a sinus infection for the last month.

Oh boy did I get sick this weekend. It started on Friday, and by yesterday I had fever, swollen joints, nausea, photophobia, the works.

I frikken hate being sick.

So just to seal the deal guess what happens yesterday morning?

Our brand new 61" TV?

The one we bought 8 weeks ago?

It turned itself off, and then wouldn't turn on again no matter what. The status light starts blinking in an unknown major error pattern and the replace lamp light comes on; but this lamp has a 100,000 hour life and shouldn't need replacement for 10 years or more.

Hell, that's one of the reasons I bought the TV.

Warranty repair is a six week turnaround time... and the superbowl is next Sunday.

Thankfully, we bought it at Costco; they of the worlds best return policy. I was able to quickly load the TV, and my sick ass in the truck, run down there, and get them to give me full return credit so I could get a new TV.

Given the weird failure of the original TV, I didn't want to take a chance on the same model (what if it failed outside my 90 day return?) so I went to a much smaller LCD flat panel (52" instead of 61"), that was only a couple hundred more (we bought the original TV at half off retail list).

I think I know why my electronics are failing. We've got pretty dirty power; and although I had a power conditioning UPS on my previous desktop and servers, I hadn't put them on my new desktop or Mels computer yet. I bought them, I just hadn't set them up; and I had never bothered with the TV.

In the last few days, I'd noticed some weird behavior in other electronics; and some interference and noise on my wireless network, with my wireless mouse and keyboard, on my cordless phones etc...

I figure with the flooding, there's probably been a lot more electrical noise, and some surges; and that's probably what caused three major electronic failures in one week in our house.

Stupid of me not to have taken care of the power problem already I guess. Well that's taken care of now; each computer, and the tv and stereo, are on power conditioning UPSes (Tripp Lite and APC are your friends).

Of course these aren't exactly professional/audiophile grade gigantic ferrite core power conditioners; they're just simple battery and capacitor based setups; but they're relatively cheap (about a hundred bucks each), and they all come with a guarantee on the electronics that are plugged into them.

Seriously folks, if you have sensitive home electronics (and who doesn't these days), do yourself a favor, and put them on power conditioners.

I swear, one of these days I'm just going to build a whole house power conditioner, and UPS network, with a generator, a solar network, and an automatic transfer switch.