Just Shelley

Time to Write

Damn it, it’s time to start writing again, before I get too old and feeble and forget how.

Sorry, still no comments. Last time I had them, it didn’t end well. Hopefully discussions on Facebook and Twitter will be sufficient.

Or the new WT.Social, from Wikipedia’s own Jimmy Wales. I’m ambivalent about it, but if you want to check it out, sign up, and friend me, you can do ALL of this for the low, one-time only price of clicking this link!


New Yorker piece on Al Franken

I should write a follow-up to my earlier piece on Al Franken, but time flies, writers plod.

In the meantime, Jane Mayer of the New Yorker has an excellent piece on the entire fiasco, albeit she’s more sympathetic to Leeann Tweeden than I am.

Senators who regret their hasty and pandering decision: too damn late.

A remarkable number of Franken’s Senate colleagues have regrets about their own roles in his fall. Seven current and former U.S. senators who demanded Franken’s resignation in 2017 told me that they’d been wrong to do so. Such admissions are unusual in an institution whose members rarely concede mistakes. Patrick Leahy, the veteran Democrat from Vermont, said that his decision to seek Franken’s resignation without first getting all the facts was “one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made” in forty-five years in the Senate. Heidi Heitkamp, the former senator from North Dakota, told me, “If there’s one decision I’ve made that I would take back, it’s the decision to call for his resignation. It was made in the heat of the moment, without concern for exactly what this was.” Tammy Duckworth, the junior Democratic senator from Illinois, told me that the Senate Ethics Committee “should have been allowed to move forward.” She said it was important to acknowledge the trauma that Franken’s accusers had gone through, but added, “We needed more facts. That due process didn’t happen is not good for our democracy.” Angus King, the Independent senator from Maine, said that he’d “regretted it ever since” he joined the call for Franken’s resignation. “There’s no excuse for sexual assault,” he said. “But Al deserved more of a process. I don’t denigrate the allegations, but this was the political equivalent of capital punishment.” Senator Jeff Merkley, of Oregon, told me, “This was a rush to judgment that didn’t allow any of us to fully explore what this was about. I took the judgment of my peers rather than independently examining the circumstances. In my heart, I’ve not felt right about it.” Bill Nelson, the former Florida senator, said, “I realized almost right away I’d made a mistake. I felt terrible. I should have stood up for due process to render what it’s supposed to—the truth.” Tom Udall, the senior Democratic senator from New Mexico, said, “I made a mistake. I started having second thoughts shortly after he stepped down. He had the right to be heard by an independent investigative body. I’ve heard from people around my state, and around the country, saying that they think he got railroaded. It doesn’t seem fair. I’m a lawyer. I really believe in due process.”


Freelancers: The IRS just made your life more difficult

For decades I was a freelance software engineer and writer. Nowadays, I’m mainly a writer.

As a freelancer, my income tax filing has been reasonably uncomplicated in the past. Enough so that I never used online software, preferring to use the fill-in PDF forms and then sending in the paperwork.  Then came the great tax cut of 2017, and everything has gone to hell.

Just Shelley

Sewer check valve

The check valve came through.

We had 2.47 inches of rain in the last 24 hours. Before the check valve, we would have been toast. We faced the very real possibility of damaging sewer backup into the main floor of our house.

Last night, not a whimper from the pipes. No bubbling toilets. No clang from a sudden rush of backflow up our lateral.

No backflow into the shower or bathtub, or via the seal on the toilet.

No sewer odor.

Silence. Dry. And we can still use our facilities.

People talk about what they’d miss if civilization suddenly stops. They talk about missing the internet, their phones, TV, and electricity. Well, give a thought to your water and sewer facilities.

Thanks to the O’Fallon sewer and water folks for going above and beyond.

Just Shelley

Test of new check valve

Municipal size check valve with engineer standing in front for perspective

Today will be the first test of the specially engineered duck billed check valve designed specifically for our lateral sewer line.

The O’Fallon Sewer folks really came through for us, being able to find a company who was willing to create something specifically for our odd and trying situation.

Our lateral sewer opens directly into a manhole. The Lake St. Louis force main dumps directly into the O’Fallon gravity main at this same location. And the Lake St. Louis folks have badly overtasked the line. On rainy days, the flow almost overflows the manhole, and the force is enough to drive the flow into our pipes. Loudly.

They’re re-routing the force main to a new gravity main elsewhere, but that work won’t be done until end of year. (Note, in 2023, it’s still noe done.)

Every time we’d get over 1.45″ in 24 hours, the sewer would back up into our bathrooms, leak into basement. Not pleasant.

Regular check valves can’t work, because we always got a little bit of backflow, which would keep the valve closed all the time.

The O’Fallon Sewer Assistant Supervisor wouldn’t give up, and found the duck billed check valve that could work in these circumstances. The company agreed to design one just for us.

It literally is a miniature version of this beastie. You all thought I was joking, but nope, it’s a miniature of these.

It was a real operation to install it, too. They had to shut down the force main, send a truck to blow air into the gravity main further down the line, and lower some poor guy into the manhole. The steps broke, and he had to watch out for the rebar.

Works great when things are calm. Now, in the next two days, we get a real test. Fingers crossed.