After almost exactly 3 months on the dole and almost a month since I signed on the dotted line, I finally have a start date. The agency is nothing if not inefficient and cumbersome! They canceled my badge because I wasn’t using it every day, then took nearly two weeks to schedule a new one after the two weeks to approve my clearance transfer. It sure helps that there is a 40% premium for working at the agency, though I was really close to giving that up to avoid dealing with this nonsense. I will be writing a system to test a high-speed network processing system much like the one I worked on before, but with different hardware (an OCTEON II CPU instead of the Tilera). The job I almost took with the 40% less pay would have had me in a dream position of optimizing a new distributed, yet ACID complaint database, but that reduction in pay would have forced us to sell one of our houses. My wife actually suggested we sell our Maryland house and make the insane 4 hour-a-day commute from our place in Shenandoah. It was not a simple choice, but the money we would save from not having to pay the mortgages for our MD house was almost exactly the premium for leaving the IC, so the decision boiled down to the commute and we just couldn’t muster the enthusiasm for that.
We have been making some nice progress on our construction, at least insofar as the pavilion/kitchen is concerned. We have the floor down, the kitchen island in place, the propane hooked up, and last weekend installed the three exhaust fans. Small wrinkle with the exhaust fans: somehow after spending an _entire_ day ‘dry fitting’ everything to calculate the height of the structure to hold the fans, we were a foot too high. We lost a day building little boxes to hang the fans a foot lower, though I believe it looks reasonably good so few will likely notice. We tested all the stoves and the griddle at the same time, the gas pressure is just a wee bit low with everything going at once. It turns out that I had a large gap in my knowledge about gas: I had thought that the lines carried 2 PSI to the appliance, it is instead a quarter PSI and the lines were not sized correctly for that. Fortunately it is extremely unlikely that _everything_ will be running full-blast at once, so we will probably never run into this situation in practice, though the flames were only diminished a bit. Hopefully now we can finally get our carpenters back for a couple of weeks and get some help getting ready for our big party on July 4th.
I did some sensitivity analysis regarding my aquaponics (the joys of having a spreadsheet) and with 80% less output from the plants and half the output from the fish we can still turn a (calculated) profit high enough to justify going commercial. Also, I have been pleasantly surprised to see greenhouse grown produce in Costco (where I do a lot of comparison shopping) that has price/lb at or above my target, so I am now quite optimistic. I still totally lack anything but a wild assed guess on the labor to process, hopefully I will have that by next summer and we can finally decide if we want to take this to the next level. I did some calculations and I believe we can afford to build the first commercial greenhouse (12,500 square feet, presuming we are able to get the zoning variance we will need) without going to lenders (or rather, by relying on our credit cards, once paid off from refinancing our current construction), which should simplify the next steps. It is hard to get my wife/business partner to seriously think about these steps, she has a hard time thinking about things so far off in the future. In my mind we are already done with our 100K sqft (8 total houses) and are moving towards our ‘big box store’ sized greenhouses. I am already working on plans for going nation-wide and thence global, thinking about when to have an IPO, how to phrase the marketing literature, which key skills I need to recruit, etc. Just the way my mind works, I guess.
Just as I was finally starting to see some belly shrinkage I badly sprained my ankle on a jog a couple of weeks ago. I have done a few long (4 mile) walks so far, but haven’t started any jogging yet, it is still a bit sore and very painful if I twist it just so. Really dumb, I was going down a hill and had to go out into the street because some asshole had parked blocking the sidewalk and as I was angling back toward the sidewalk I was telling myself I should slow down so I wouldn’t sprain my ankle and Bamm! on my ass badly scratching up my leg and arm on the other side. Then, I had to walk a quarter mile to get home, man was I in agony that day! If I could only act on that good advice I give myself!
I have had two people try to convince me to consider growing pot in my greenhouse since it seems clear that it will become legal in Virginia soon. I have tried to explain that since I am way behind the learning curve in that aspect and there are people who have been doing it for decades who already have distribution pathways in place I would have a very tough time making a dent. Besides, the big companies (apparently the company behind Marlboro has already started selling joints in Colorado) are going to push all but the elite of niche marketers right out of business in a few years and I suspect only those niche marketers with a 30 year track record are going to be able to keep their margins high enough to justify being in business (or at least the sort of business I consider worth while).
I am actually very glad to be getting back to work. I believe I would’t have any trouble with not having a regular job as long as we don’t bleed money so profusely; if I had a few bucks to experiment with I am sure I would be really busy, but we are on a financial starvation diet so I have been a bit bored. Interestingly (frustratingly) I have been finding this period of unemployment has me in some sort of wedge state mentally, I haven’t been able to do a lick of programming on any of my projects. Quite sad, I could have made a lot of progress in 3 months if I had just got my head out of my ass.
This was a strange winter this year. It has been colder in the past, but when that happened before there was snow on the ground. This time it was almost as cold but with no insulating cover and I had quite a few plants die back to the roots (and a couple that haven’t shown any signs of life yet so probably died). Most have made a comeback, though, but it might be a couple of years before they have recovered enough to flower and/or set fruit. Speaking of fruit, the apple orchard next to our property just got bulldozed, the trees are only about a decade old which seems rather young, but a couple of locals have heard the trees were diseased somehow so that may explain it. Things sure look different without those trees there! My orchard was almost completely without flowers this spring, my research indicates that it may have been because I fertilized two falls ago. It seems that trees make the decision to flower the year before and they were so busy growing last year they didn’t bother with flowers. I am getting quite frustrated with the lack, I have put in a lot of time and energy so far and have almost nothing to show for it as yet.
I hope all my reader(s) are doing well!