Sunday, November 21, 2010

Productive Time

I had a fence builder come out yesterday to bid on replacing my fence, which is quickly decaying into nothinginess, with a new one. For a brand-new board-on-board fence that's eight feet tall all the way around (stepped down from the high point at the house), they gave me a "discounted" price of $6600. If they were to use the old posts and weld onto them near the house, where it's now only six feet tall) and give me a side-by-side (instead of board-on-board), the price plunges to $4300.

If I were to build a eight-foot board-on-board fence myself, by my calculations I would spend roughly $2,600. Even if the fence company pays retail for materials, they're charging $4,000 for labor on the project. They tell me it will take three days, including one "dead" day in the middle to allow the new posts to set in concrete. So, we're talking 20 hours. Assuming a 3-man crew for two 10-hour days, that's 60 man-hours, I'll give them an extra 3 hours for getting a required City of Dallas building permit. So, 63 man-hours at $63.49 per hour. I'm betting they pay no on one the crew more than $25 per hour (and I'm being quite generous), so $38.49 per hour to the fence company owner to cover operations, insurance, equipment, trucks, office space, phones, profit, etc., etc. Not a bad gig! Maybe I'll start me a fence company!

The amazing thing about this is that I think this bid is going to be one of the low ones. I have someone coming out Tuesday to give me another bid...I hope he proves me wrong.

My problem with doing it myself is this: I don't have anyone to help me. I could hire someone on an hourly basis to come be my "helper," but thanks to the f#@%7ing government and its overboard attitude about protecting everyman from evil, corrupt businesses and individuals who are hell-bent to rip people off by refusing to pay Social Security, etc., etc., I'd either have to spend LOTS of time and money becoming an employer, filing paperwork with the government, etc., etc. or risk very big fines for paying someone "under the table." The government's claim that it's protecting people from abuse is horseshit. The government wants to feed its addiction to taxpayer money. I'd hazaard a guess that the guy I'd hire would MUCH prefer $18 per hour from me than $12 per hour plus my Social Security contributions on his behalf, plus my efforts "on his behalf" to withhold his taxes and pay them to the f#@%7ing government.

Don't get me wrong. I believe in taxes, I believe in protecting workers from employer abuse, and I think everyone ought to pay his or her fair share. I just don't for a minute think the government of the United States of America is structured to protect anyone but big business, politicians, and government employees. Enough of this for now; I don't want to start the day so pissed off.

Fence issues notwithstanding, I'm not sure I should be focusing on a fence at the moment. I still need to fix the shower pan in the master bath (and probably replace some framing for the shower itself, thanks to water getting through the broken shower pan to the framing) and get new tile in there. That should be done first. I don't have the skills to do that myself, so I'll have to pay someone. So, about the same time I'm getting another bid on the fence, I'll have a tile guy give me a bid on tearing out my shower and pan, fixing the underlying structure, and retiling the shower and putting in a tile floor in the bathroom. Aaarrrgghhhhhh! Money pit on steroids!

On to other things. The other day, on the way to work, I listened to an interview with Siddhartha Mukarjee, author of a book entitled, "The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer." Mukarjee is assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University and is practicing physician and a researcher at CU/NYU Presbyterian Hospital. He struck me as an exceptionally compassionate person, someone who really feels empathy for his patients who are battling cancer. I didn't hear enough of the interview to get a clear understanding of the premise or purpose of the book (but I can guess), but without even reading it I know I would recommend it. And I will read it, though perhaps not for awhile.

Well, it's 6:00 am and I've been up for well over an hour. Time to stop writing this crap that nobody will read and start doing something productive.