Friday, September 18, 2009

Due diligence--Have a Blessed Day

This is the short version of what happens when you don't check renters out properly. The long version will come in the book.

So I was a new landlord and was impressed by the way a lady dressed and presented herself. She was well manicured, polite, and used religious references in her conversation. She had recently been divorced and had moved in briefly with her boss, who gave her a good reference. She didn't have any other references and I didn't do a credit check.

I stupidly let her move in when she told me her pay had been delayed 2 days. This was the beginning of a nightmare as she lived in the unit next to mine. She soon lost her job or her hours got cut (I'm not sure now) and lost her electricity. I let her borrow a cord for "just the refrigerator". I came home after a couple days and heard the large screen tv turned on with the volume up. I was pissed and unplugged it and wrote up a three day notice to pay or quit. My next electric bill was about $220 compared with the $50 I normally spent (this was back around 1999).

She knew all the tricks in the book for delaying an eviction. I won. According to California law, I had to store her stuff in the garage for three weeks. It was mostly trash, but there was enough clothes and such that she had enough of a claim that I didn't want to keep it, and she was too lazy to move it into storage. After three weeks I had a couple thrift stores give me estimates on the value...actually only one would take it without charging me, but I kept the estimates in accordance with the law to defend myself in case of a lawsuit.

She or her kids also poured sugar down the kitchen drain, and left the place a mess in general. I will have to find some pictures. The two car garage was full, wall to wall with stuff; worthless crap piled on top of more worthless crap. Everything she had was low dollar poorly constructed stuff that was likely given to her by some charity (she was really convincing in her role as pitiful and downtrodden single mom). The only interest she had in the items was to vindictively cost me money.

The thing that sticks with me, and perhaps because something similar happened with another renter, was their used of "Have a blessed day". They both pronounced "blessed" with two syllables, and I watch for this in conversation now, with applicants.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Cash For Clunkers and Other Interventionism

I haven't checked the numbers but interesting.....also they (Gov't)
said it stimulated car sales which it did but much misleading info!!!!!

A vehicle that gets 15 mpg and does 12,000 miles per year, uses 800
gallons of gasoline
(Government definition of a Clunker)

  A vehicle that gets 25 mpg at 12,000 miles per year, uses 480 gallons
a year.

So, the average clunker transaction will reduce US gasoline consumption
by 320 gallons per year.

  About 700,000 vehicles were part of the Government's program, saving
224 million gallons per year.

That equates to just over 5 million barrels of oil.

5 million barrels of oil is about ¼ of one day of US consumption.

5 million barrels of oil costs about $350 million dollars at $75/bbl.

So we all contributed, through our taxes, over $3 billion... to save
$350 million.

They'll probably do a great job with Health Care though!
 This was forwarded to me in the email.

The rebates are taxable income, too.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Electrical Panel

I once made a mistake while changing out a circuit breaker in an electrical panel. I used a large metal screwdriver to pry out the breaker.
Predictably, I braced the metal of the screw driver against the metal edge of the panel box, and pried the breaker out. I don't recall whether I slipped, or was inexperienced enough that I didn't turn off the breaker, or if it was a main breaker (which can't be switched off). I somehow managed to contact the front of the screwdriver with something that had power.
The screwdriver and the box were damaged. The screwdriver had the tip burnt off. The shaft had a chunk melted off of it in a small explosion of metal. The side of the box had a gouge where the shaft contacted it.
I was unhurt, but a bit scared. I should have used something non-conductive to pry out the troublesome breaker. Suggestions for non-conductive items: A short length of wood, a fiberglass or wood hammer handle, or some other insulated tool.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

My Right Thumb

As I am just starting this blog, and it is about stupid things I've done and survived, I am starting with the most salient.
Running across the tip of my right thumb is a scar a little over an eighth of an inch wide. I got it using a table saw. I had been working all day and was trying to finish up a piece of trim on a built-in shelving unit on one of my rentals. I was tired, and the cut required that I take off the guard, or buy a planer. I was trimming a 1"x4" down.
I got hurried and cranked the saw blade up all the way. You should only keep the saw blade a small amount higher than the surface of the wood you're cutting. I got the piece cut about 60% and then reached over to the outfeed side of the blade and put my fingers on the board to help guide it out. As I fed the piece with my left hand and pulled with my right, I rotated my thumb across the moving blade, then heard a click.
I felt it immediately afterwards. I removed my top shirt (I often where two) and wrapped my hand, all the while thinking "How could I do this, I don't have insurance." After calming down, I remembered my first aid training.
I removed the shirt and went to a water spigot on the back of the duplex. I washed the thumb and was relieved to discover that I hadn't hit the bone, hadn't cut the tip off and that the click I heard was just me nicking the thumbnail. I continued washing the wound out and letting the blood and water carry away any contaminants and I could see the last bone of my thumb.
I then went around to my renters asking for antibiotic ointment. None of them had any. One of my renters had peroxide, though. I used the peroxide to disinfect the area. Then I tore up my shirt into strips and wound them around the thumb.
It took three weeks for the cut to heal. I didn't want to spend the $600-1000 for a couple stitches, so I just got some antibiotic ointment with pain killers and kept changing the bandage and looking out for infection.
I'll post a picture of my thumb now (and hopefully I can find the pictures of the healing thumb) later. Remind me to tell the story of my road rash.