John's Jejune Journal

My virtual psychiatrist’s couch

I Just Don’t Get “Normal”

We are in the process of selling a house. I knew that this would be painful and I am not at all disappointed. We have an interested buyer and we are now in the middle of the “inspection” phase. In our state there is a required Seller’s Disclosure Form where we as the seller have to answer a ton of questions about the condition of the house. Our old house was built in 1960, so there are things to disclose – I mean, no rational person should expect a 55-year-old house to be perfect in every way and it would be very suspicious if there wasn’t something to disclose. The thing that the “expert inspector” has latched onto however seems to me (after living there for 24-years) to be one of the least important issues that he could possibly find.

We have a septic system (and well water). Part of what I put in the disclosure form was that the sewer line to the septic occasionally (about once-a-year on average) gets clogged and that we clear this ourselves with a line plunger that we are leaving with the house. We also mentioned that we pump-out the holding tank about once-a-year.

Apparently the inspector is freaking because these two things are not “normal”. The thing is – neither of them are “problems” either. I understand that most people with septic systems only pump them once every 3-to-5 years. So what? Pumping a septic system is like changing the oil in your car – it is preventative maintenance. You don’t wait to change your oil when your car is a smoking wreck on the side of the road – and you don’t wait to pump your septic until it is backed up in the basement. You do these things ahead of time so that there won’t be a problem – hence the word “preventative”. Pumping the tank every year may be more than “normal”, but this would be like me saying that I change the oil in my car every 1,000-miles. It may indicate that I have an obsessive personality, but it certainly does not imply any kind of problem. This is a good-thing, not a bad-thing.

It seems to me that the “expert” who thinks that annual septic pumping indicates a problem is declaring that we must be liars when we say that there is not one. It is as if he assumes that no human on the planet would ever pump a septic tank unless absolutely forced to by dire circumstances. That’s insane. The process takes about 20-minutes and costs $200-something, and that is probably less than most people with public water/sewer pay per-year. It is fast and cheap and easy – I mean, why on earth would we not do this other than the lame and irrelevant fact that our neighbors don’t? We plan to continue to pump the septic tank in our brand-new house every year, or at least every-other year too just because we feel that it is cheap insurance and a very wise thing to do on general principles – regardless of what other “normal people” do. Screw them.

The other “issue” in the inspection is my statement that maybe about once-a-year I have to plunge the sewer line and open it up from a minor clog (like you might have with a toilet inside the house too). This apparently also freaks-out the “expert” who declares this to be a “problem”. The thing is however – what exactly is the definition of the word “problem”? Regardless of what other people do or do not do, a maintenance task that takes literally 10-minutes and is only required maybe once every 12-months on average is ipso facto not a “problem” and anyone who says that it is, is simply picking nits.

I freely admit that I don’t get “normal”. To me the vast majority of the human race is simply stupid and what we call “normal” is an irrational monkey-see-monkey-do reflex of those too lazy to think for themselves. But I know that I am a weird-o and I know that what makes sense to me is often considered aberrant by others. This is why, when “being normal” (or at least appearing so) is important, I defer to someone else’s judgment. I’m just no fucking good at “average” or “typical” or “common” or “usual”. For exactly this reason I composed my response to the disclosure form well ahead of time, printed it and gave it to my wife for her review. It sat on the coffee table for a week while she was always too busy to bother looking at it (I think that I even reminded her of it once). Then when it was time to fill out the actual form for-real we were all (including our real estate agent) sitting in the old house and I was reciting my answers to the disclosure questions before I wrote them down to give the others a chance to comment. Both of these women were so busy with their personal chit-chat however, that neither one was paying any attention to me. Oh well – I gave them their chance to correct my unintended but quirky inimitability and they weren’t interested. Not my fault.

So anyway, now we have this problem with the house inspection that really could torpedo the entire sale – and all because I’m not “normal” and I simply don’t understand the illogical stupidity of those who are. Still –

If I had a mind to
I wouldn’t want to think like you
And if I had time to
I wouldn’t want to talk to you

I don’t care
What you do
I wouldn’t want to be like you
…and if you don’t remember the song;

Not Yer Granpaw’s TV

April 7, 2014
Now that the snow has finally melted for the season (the last of it disappeared from our yard on Sunday), I relocated and set up an outdoor broadcast TV-antenna on the roof of our new house over the weekend.

Here, let me pause to give you a chance to re-read that first sentence – and I assure you that A) that is not a typo and B) I am not nuts.

We used to use satellite TV, and paid through-the-nose for the honor as most do. Then I discovered Over-The-Air (OTA) broadcast digital HD TV a few years ago, and it is the greatest thing since sliced-bread. We can get all the major broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, PBS, CW, WE, Lifetime) plus a bunch of other stuff, and we are 40-miles from the nearest TV transmission towers way out in the boondocks. We even get stations clearly from central New Jersey and Wilmington, De. and we must be over 100-miles from them. When I did a discovery-scan I found 72 OTA digital TV channels at our location, all of which were beautifully clean and clear, and we are not using any “special” digital antenna, enormous mast  or anything else extraordinary. Some of those channels are odd-ball public-access stations, or specialize in old-timy B&W TV or they are foreign-language (including a full-time Vietnamese-language station – who knew that there was a market for that in Philadelphia). We will probably never watch those and there are others that we are not interested in either, including at least 4 Christian channels and even one full-time Muslim channel (well, we might check that one out once in a while out of curiosity). I ask you though – of the cable or satellite lineup that you are paying umpteen dollars for monthly – what percentage of available channels do you actually watch regularly? 10% maybe? That is probably what we will do with our 72 broadcast channels too – and ours is “free” after the initial setup cost of a couple hundred bucks. Why don’t you add up the annual cost of your pay-TV and see what the total comes to – if you dare – and ask yourself if there is anything else in your life that you could use that money for instead.

The picture quality of modern digital High-Definition broadcast TV is superb. It is noticeably better than satellite or most cable. This is because satellite and cable companies compress their digital signal (which means discarding some data), while the digital broadcast does not. For sure, this ain’t yer granpaw’s analog TV from the 1960’s with the snow and the ghosts and the drop-outs. Most people I tell about this are astonished. They had no idea that free OTA broadcast TV still existed; much less realized how good it is. I bought a little adapter device that has 2 TV-tuners and connects the outdoor antenna to Ethernet. Then I route that Ethernet TV signal to a dedicated video-server PC with a 3tb hard-drive. Using the (also free) Windows Media Server (and DVR) app I have an on-screen channel-guide for our local broadcast area that is updated every night and I can pre-schedule the automatic recording of OTA shows to the DVR-HD easily. Because the adapter device has 2 tuners, we can record 2 OTA shows at once or watch one and record another. How much do you pay every month for that privilege from your pay-TV provider as if it were something special?

We even get to see the popular HBO & Showtime series as well as selected movies by subscribing to Netflix and Hulu which we stream over our DSL Internet connection (6mbs is more than enough bandwidth, no matter what the Comcast and Verizon commercials claim). Each of those streaming channels cost $8/month– way better than a basic pay-TV subscription that doesn’t even include the “premium” channels like those anyway. I say again – this is great. My conclusion is that the majority of people in this country waste billions of dollars on pay-TV simply because they believe in the pay-TV advertisement lies that tell them that you have to, and because they are just ignorant of modern technology and what can be available to them for free OTA. What a colossal waste of money.

When Type-B’s Get Mad

I am a very even-tempered, laid-back Type-B person, I dislike conflict or competition of almost any form and I will usually go out of my way to avoid it. There are occasions however when I get riled up over some issue. I rarely yell or get visibly agitated, but I will tell-off someone quietly in the most derisive and cutting a way as I can, and stand on my principles even to the detriment of what might seem to be my own best interests. I’m afraid that I am going to have such a fight with my doctor’s office, and I have been psyching myself up for it for a few days.

I use different pharmacies for my prescriptions depending on what happens to be physically convenient. Sometimes I use one close to where I work, and sometimes I use one close to where I live. To me a pharmacy is just a retail store-front, especially if they are different outlets of the same national-chain; CVS in my case. I have no “personal relationship” with the pharmacist, nor do I see any value in such a “relationship”. I have a prescription from the doctor, the clerk behind the counter (any counter) fills it and I pay for it. End of transaction. I am quite satisfied that the Crestor that I get from one CVS is the same stuff as the Crestor that I get from another CVS down the road, so I just don’t see the Big Deal.

The doctor’s office seems to get very confused over this however, and my irreverent and promiscuous use of different CVS store-fronts appears to boggle their little minds. Because everyone has to be oh-so modern and With-It these days, the doctor’s office wants to “phone-in” the prescriptions to the pharmacy rather than do the old-fashioned thing of handing me a printed piece of paper that I can take where I want to. Although I am always very explicit about where I want my prescription to go, the doctor’s office regularly phones-in my prescriptions to the wrong store. The problem then is that the CVS pharmacy gets all confused and it takes about 20-minutes for them to figure it all out, which is also beyond my understanding in this era of computerized records and instant communication. After all, it is just another CVS and not like I’m trying to transfer a prescription from a witchdoctor in Ulan-Bator. In short, the “convenience” of having the doctor’s office phone-in the prescription directly to the pharmacy is in fact extremely inconvenient and it ends up wasting a good deal of my time.

The last case of this was the last straw because the doctor gave me 2 different scripts and some moron in the doctor’s office actually called them in to two different CVS stores. Of course that just guarantees that it is wrong because it doesn’t even give them the chance to be right by statistical fluke. Anyway, last week I needed a renewal for my Crestor and I drove in to the office and told them that I wanted the prescription printed out so that I could carry it in to the pharmacy myself. Once again this got office-workers terribly confused and disoriented and they said that they would talk to the doctor about it and get back to me. So far I have heard nothing. I plan to give them another day and then drive back in to the doctor’s office and ask about it again. I anticipate that they will refuse to provide a printed prescription – presumably because they consider all of their patients too stupid to deal with a piece of paper – and then I plan to cancel my pending appointment and go find another doctor, because clearly they are too stupid to deal with phone-in prescriptions properly. I am sure that I will hear that it is “dangerous” to use multiple pharmacies (even within the same chain using the same computer system) because potential drug interactions may be missed. To me however, it is far more dangerous to have someone in the doctor’s office handling my prescriptions who is of such low IQ that they cannot even phone them in to the correct store when clearly directed to.

Some might consider changing doctors to be a radical solution, but to me they are all just meat-mechanics and one is just as good as another. If this one doesn’t need my money, then I’ll find another who does. There are a dozen or so doctors in my area that I could go to, and even if the next one won’t give me a printed prescription either, maybe they will at least have someone working in the office with enough intelligence to dial the phone correctly.

Age Is Just a Number – And Other Stupidities

The Self-Aware Blog Entry

Pain and its Absence

The Joys of Parenthood?

The Conference

Leaving on a Jet-Plane

Too Many Cooks


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