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15 Jun 00:37

Gmail’s Organized Inbox is a life changer

by Matt Haughey
Lalitree

Enabled it - pretty cool.

Last month, Google’s Gmail team introduced a new auto-organized inbox feature to little fanfare among my friends. I saw a handful of tweets about it, didn’t get notified on my own account that it was available and promptly forgot about it. After a week or so I wanted to try it out and had to dig to find the feature (you have to enable it in your gmail settings). In the week or two that I’ve had it, it has completely changed my relationship with email, and it has been 100% for the better.

I probably get more email than most, but about average for someone running a sizable web site and company. I get lots of what I’d call “machine messages” where a server is telling me it is up or down, someone made a new post, or someone used paypal to sign up for the site. As much as I try to unsubscribe from everything I can, I still get numerous newsletters, offers, and coupons from businesses I like. In total, each day I probably get 4 to 5 really important emails out of 100-150 total.

Late last year I had some major life stresses that wreaked havoc on my life and my sanity. For the first time in my life, I started seeing a psychologist and we worked through some significant anxiety issues I was having. One source of stress (among many) was my bulging inbox and how every morning, I’d wake my phone and see a little red icon on the Gmail app that read something in the neighborhood of 37. Every single morning started with a combination of dread and stress over having to process a few dozen unread messages, any of which could be a bombshell (but most were innocuous, yet still take time and attention).

Working through my anxiety, I was taught a bunch of coping mechanisms that have worked wonders. When I was at my darkest early on in the process, I had to make a bunch of filters to automatically siphon off all the automated messages away from the inbox to bring my daily number down. This was a double-edged sword in that I got to wake to more sensible inbox messages like 8 or 9, but I’d know my labelled automated updates would be 20-30 more messages I couldn’t ignore and needed to look at for fears of missing something important.

Last year, Gmail tried a feature where they put everything in your inbox in two piles: Priority or normal, and it didn’t work that great for me. It didn’t properly guess which things were important with any accuracy, and if I only looked at Priority messages, I’d miss lots in my regular full email view.

Screen Shot 2013-06-14 at 4.49.12 PM

Gmail’s new feature tries to guess what kind of email has come in and now splits it into up to 5 piles: Primary (first priority), Social (automated messages from Twitter, LinkedIn, etc), Promotions (e-commerce store offers), Updates (machine messages, merchant updates, order receipts, etc), and Forums (mailing lists). The shocking part of this rough 5-bucket system of guessing on the part of Gmail is it works pretty damn well.

Seriously, it would seem on paper this is a recipe for disaster in trying to guess message priority for random users with the potential for hiding an urgent message but my inbox must mimic the average Google employee’s pretty well because it’s absolutely fantastic, probably running a greater than 90% accuracy on putting the unimportant things in the other inboxes. The result of this is that I’m only alerted on my desktop or iPhone Gmail clients with the numbers of messages in my Primary inbox and it hasn’t missed one of those 4-5 really important emails each day. I get to wake up to a sane number like 8 new things, and your inbox has a pointer on mobile to the counts for the other boxes. On the desktop, you see a brief flash of numbers in other boxes, but (and this is the absolutely genius part) those numbers fade away. This is brilliant because it de-emphasizes those other inboxes appropriately so you never feel like you are spinning 5 plates at once, trying to keep them all at zero. With a click or a swipe I can take a quick glance at the other boxes and ignore them if nothing urgent has fallen into them.

IMG_0009

The big bonus was an update to the Gmail phone clients as well, and they work just like the desktop, meshing the exact same experience into your mobile device. A simple swipe on the iPhone lets you jump from inbox to inbox in a flash and it’s not a drag on how I normally use the app. The screenshot at right shows my phone running Gmail, checking for new mail after being offline for a few hours and I only have one new important message (instead of 15), which is absolutely spot-on and totally gives me my sanity and life back.

This new feature is pretty simple but works amazingly well for my type of email and with this feature I’m basically wed to Gmail and the Gmail clients for life, as nothing else I’ve tried (Mailbox, Boxer, etc) does as good a job as this new Gmail feature. It quite literally lowers my anxiety, lowers my blood pressure, and lets me wake up each morning feeling less overwhelmed and I’ve noticed I’m just a bit happier all the time now that I’ve used this feature a bunch.

The most incredible part of it for me is that Google’s first crack at this is nearly perfect, as-is, out of the box. Few app features work that well on their initial release, but this one just plain works.

So thanks Google for releasing this and honestly making my life better. Everyone else with loads of stressful automated messages, give it a try, you’ll be glad you did.

10 Jun 13:00

The Best Baby Carrier

by Mark Lukach
Lalitree

Hey cool, that's the one I have!

After three months of researching babywearing options, and demoing over a dozen different options, the best baby carrier for your baby is the Gemini by Beco Baby Carrier because it’s comfortable and supportive for you and your baby, and is easy to put on.

14 Jun 18:22

Filmmaker sues to prove Happy Birthday To You is public domain

and, best of all, they want Warner to pay back millions in undeserved licensing fees  
03 Jun 16:58

Charlemagne for everyone!

by Jason Kottke

We are all mostly related to each other. But weirder still, you're just about as related to the stranger next to you as to your great×12 grandparents.

Now, there's another important implication of genomic ancestry studies: Most of the people you are descended from are no more genetically related to you than strangers are. Or to put it another way, your genealogical family tree, which includes all the history of your family going back thousands of years, is much larger than your genetic family tree-the people whom genome sequencing would pinpoint as related to you. 99.9 percent of your genome is the same as that of every other human being (apart from the x and y chromosomes), and that .1 percent of variation in each person gets thinned out pretty quickly across the generations, as each child gets half of each of her parents' genomes, passes on half to each of her children, and so on. Geneticist Luke Jostins did a nice mathematical analysis and estimated that you have only about a 12 percent chance of being genetically related to an ancestor 10 generations ago; by the time you get to a 14-generation ancestor, the probability is nearly zero.

Tags: genetics   science
13 May 15:41

Liberty Warehouse: Heading for a Fall

by gary

Liberty Warehouse 06.07.08. Photo copyright Gary Kueber.

The Durham City Council will decide to remove the landmark status from the Liberty Warehouse - the last standing auction warehouse in Durham - on May 20th (next Tuesday, not tomorrow.) I think it's a foregone conclusion that the status will be revoked. Perversely, the reasons have very little to do with the historical significance of the structure.

Tobacco auctions were an integral part of Durham's social, cultural, and economic heritage. It's a heritage that we do an abysmal job of recognizing and celebrating. Yes, it's tobacco, but that's just a shoddy excuse to be lazy about history. The Duke Homestead folks do yeoman's work in recognizing the auctions and harvest tradition every year, but it's hardly integrated into our near-daily celebration of Durham's awesomeness. As I've pointed out before, we have farmer's markets, a near obsession with locally sourced produce, and the product thereof - well, that's become Durham's new identity. It's not a stretch to tie these to our traditional harvest festival.

There were once many warehouses where auctions occurred - the entire area from Morgan Street to West Corporation that we now consider Durham 'Central Park' was covered with these immense structures, dotted with skylights to illuminate bundles of tobacco being sold by rock-star auctioneers featured in national TV ads for Lucky Strike and Chesterfield during the 1950s. Musicians and merchants gathered outside to hawk other wares and to draw farmers with wads of cash southward towards the "exciting stores" of Main Street.

You won't hear much about this on May 20th. I doubt most of the folks involved in the push to tear down the structure have taken the time to learn much about it. You may hear a throwaway line about putting up a wall of photos in a new structure to take the place of the Liberty.  Because that's supposed to be an adequate replacement. Consider it the thrown bone.

I don't harp on the above because I think the whole Liberty Warehouse (no. 3) has an economically viable path towards rehabilitation. I harp on the above because I think the importance of the building to Durham's history is being given short shrift in what should be a difficult decision. There are compelling reasons why Liberty has very little viable future as an intact structure (or re-intact if the roof were permanently fixed, at least.)

The unfortunate fact is that most of the building is quite ugly, and very poorly suited to the kind of adaptive reuse that has driven projects like Golden Belt, AT, West Village, Brightleaf, etc. It's mostly a giant shed with skylights - it has one attractive facade, on Rigsbee, and that likely would be saved. Federal and State historic tax credits have made work on the projects I just cited economically viable. But they compel the would-be developer to keep the structure very close to intact - and close to its original architecture. When this aligns with a present-day economic use, such as at Golden Belt, with big windows, beautiful brick, good column spacing, etc., things work very well. When the original was a giant shed - that's difficult to turn into apartments, etc.

The other complication with the development of the property is that the floorplate (the size of one floor of the structure) is ~200,000 square feet. That's huge, and, again, severely hampers the ability to repurpose the structure as-is. (Unless Costco or Target are going to move there, which I doubt.) The kind of small office/retail/apartment uses that have economic viability right now do not work well, as only a thin veneer of spaces would have an exterior wall - even if you could cut in some windows. Everyone else would be buried in the middle of a vast space.

200,000 sf is also massive for any kind of history museum, even if a museum could get funding in this day and age. That's a dicey proposition in a good economic climate. Today, our fledgling history museum is a bootstrapped endeavor in a little former-bus- waiting-room, and our state historic sites (like Duke Homestead) are threatened constantly with more budget cuts.

Combine the above with the decay / collapse of the building, and you also lose the wait-and-see option. Buildings want to decay over time, and Liberty has definitely decayed. I don't know the status of any repairs to the roof done by Greenfire, but I'm sure it's not a long-term solution.

This is the conundrum - the economic future / development prospect for the building is very bleak. It's an essential part of our history. What do we do?

I personally think the most feasible outcome that tries to address the concerns is to preserve part of the warehouse. If I had my druthers, we'd preserve the eastern 1/2-1/3 of the warehouse and build a new facade on Foster (and part of Corporation and the park.) I'm not a huge fan of preserving terrible streetscape design, and the existing Foster streetscape is just ugly.

But, amidst a plethora of opinions, how do we decide the 'right answer' on something like that? This is a complication for preservation-minded folks. If we advocate to preserve the whole thing, we're seen as crazy and unreasonable. If we begin to compromise, there's nothing to guide the decision of what is a reasonable compromise other than opinion and leverage. There's no consensus that some portion of the interior, or some quantity of the structure is 'okay' to demolish, because it's more or less important.

This is why we have a Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) - to help decide these matters. A citizen board with experience have to come to a consensus opinion about modifications to a landmark structure, or to "contributing structures" in a local historic district. This commission's power is limited - they can't prevent anyone from tearing down a landmark, or a contributing structure. They can delay them for a year. Yet nothing in their power permits them to disallow the demolition of the Liberty warehouse.

But they can guide the design of a new structure in a local district / that incorporates part of a landmark. And that's what the city council vote on 5/20 is really about. It's another round in the current spat between city council and one of its appointed boards. The city does not want the HPC telling Roger Perry (the Liberty developer-du-jour) what he can or cannot build.

And this is really a recapitulation of Durham's chronic low self-esteem problem. Despite the great strides we've made in pride-of-place, we still act like a desperate tween with a oh-my-god-I-could-die crush that considers his/her world near-over when the object of desire doesn't text back in 10 seconds. So with the breathless mention of Roger Perry - developer of Meadowmont - we hurl ourselves in his general direction for fear that he may not choose to develop something downtown.

Nothing against Roger - I don't know him at all. But, wearing only my developer hat for a moment, we hate delays and boards and approvals. Developers are always going to resist more process and time. Delays kill deals, a fact that preservation-only hat-wearers often seem to forget or misunderstand. It isn't only - or likely even mostly - about a hatred for preservation on the part of these developers, or of the HPC, or planners, etc. There is real money at stake, and people on the private sector side are charging us by the hour. Bank and equity commitments expire. The market shifts. I.e., when opportunity is presented, the leisurely developer is not rewarded.

The trouble right now is that our city council, and our downtown booster groups, are seeing only the latter. I'm glad they care about development, since it keeps me fed, but from the city's perspective, there is plenty of developer interest in downtown. There's no need to prostrate ourself before one developer or project in particular if it involves subjugating our other values. The city certainly owes developers a timely, predictable, and fair process. It also behooves us to present developers with good customer service. Antagonism or bureacratic ineptitude don't further our local economy.

But we can provide these and also strongly articulate that our history matters. Clearly, preservation matters, since it's driven all of our current economic success. (A fact that seems lost on many.) And we, as citizens of Durham, deserve to have a process that articulates that value in the context of development decisions, whether made by the city or the private sector.

And my concern in this rush to remove the landmark designation is that we're seeking to avoid that process - because it is seen as an impediment to the developer, and to the expeditious redevelopment of the Liberty Warehouse. It is in the city's best interest to make a careful decision here - once Liberty is gone, it is gone forever, and the last vestige of the tobacco auction market is gone forever. That's a very big deal, and not one we should take lightly because of the frustrations of a few out-of-town developers and the join-in-the-chorus by DDI. I'm sure the HPC's process can be improved, and that process is underway. But if the city is seeking to do an end-around because the process may be contentious - well, there's good reason to argue over the fate of history as important as the last tobacco auction warehouse.

26 Mar 19:36

New weather site: Forecast

by Jason Kottke

From the team that brought you Dark Sky, an app that has saved (or at least kept dry) my bacon more times than I can count, comes Forecast, a weather web site that incorporates several of the features that made Dark Sky great. From the announcement:

Rather than cram these things into Dark Sky, we decided to do something grander: create our own full-featured weather service from scratch, complete with 7-day forecasts that cover the whole world, beautiful weather visualizations, and a time machine for exploring the weather in the past and far future. You can access it from all of your devices, whether it be your laptop, iPhone, Android phone, or tablet.

On top of all that, we're providing this data to other developers, in the hopes that a truly independent weather community can thrive in the era of increasing corporate consolidation.

Tags: weather
10 Mar 17:13

Petition the White House to eliminate daylight saving time

by Jason Kottke

Ask anyone with young children what they think of daylight saving time and you'll probably get a stabbing in the eye. It just totally fucks your world for two+ weeks a year with zero benefit. This petition needs 100,000 digital signatures for the White House to issue an official response to it. Sign it or I might get stabby.

Update: I honestly don't care which time we keep (DST or standard time), as long as the biannual time switching nonsense stops.

Tags: politics   time
07 Mar 06:00

Legislative Alchemy: Acupuncture and Homeopathy 2013

by Jann Bellamy

Acupuncture, or more broadly, Oriental or Traditional Chinese Medicine, is a

weird medley of philosophy, religion, superstition, magic, alchemy, astrology, feng shui, divination, sorcery, demonology and quackery.

And via the particular form of magic known as legislative alchemy, acupuncture is a licensed health care profession in 44 states and the District of Columbia.

A growing body of evidence demonstrates acupuncture is simply an elaborate placebo. Even the CAM-friendly National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, says

Although millions of Americans use acupuncture each year, often for chronic pain, there has been considerable controversy surrounding its value as a therapy and whether it is anything more than placebo.

Someone should tell the state legislatures.

During the current state legislative sessions, some 30 bills affecting the practice of acupuncture have been filed. In Wyoming, where acupuncture and Oriental Medicine are not licensed, a bill to do so died in committee. So far, there are no other bills to expand licensed acupuncture practice to the few states where no licensing laws exist.  (Note that medical doctors, and in some states chiropractors and naturopaths, can practice acupuncture within the scope of their current practice acts, whether acupuncturists are separately licensed or not.)

In Mississippi, acupuncturists can practice only under the supervision of a physician, with some fairly stringent requirements. First, a physician must perform a diagnostic exam. If a referral to an acupuncturist is made, the physician must specify how the ailment or condition diagnosed is to be treated, the intervals at which the acupuncturist must provide progress reports to the physician, and any conditions or restrictions placed on the course of treatment. The physician must be available for consultation with the acupuncture practitioner at a location not more than 60 minutes away.

Needless to say, Mississippi acupuncturists are not happy with this and got a bill introduced in the current session getting them out from under physician supervision. That provision got dropped in an amendment to the bill, but at that point the acupuncturists were able to add an amendment which would have prevented physical therapists from using “trigger point dry needling or intramuscular manual therapy.” (I guess they wanted something, anything.) Unfortunately for them, that also got dropped by further amendment and all they really got was extension of their practice act until 2017 (or 2016 if a House Bill wins out over the Senate version).

“Wellness Promotion”

Odd companion bills have been filed with the Massachusetts House and Senate establishing a “Commission on Acupuncture and Wellness” within the Department of Public Health. The Commission is charged with making

an investigation and comprehensive study of the potential for better integrated use of acupuncture services to expand access, reduce health care costs, and provide improved quality of care to Massachusetts residents.

A report must be presented in six months and annually thereafter. The report will include suggestions for any necessary legislation to implement recommendations.

It appears to be a foregone conclusion that acupuncture can “reduce health care costs” and “improve quality of care,” because the bill forces insurers and other groups, such as health maintenance organizations, to cover acupuncture for pain management, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse treatment and nausea.

The bill doesn’t force coverage for “wellness promotion” via the use of acupuncture, although the Commission on Acupuncture and Wellness is charged, as the name might imply, with “consider[ing] strategies to evaluate and implement effective integration of acupuncture” for that too. I don’t know what “wellness promotion” is or how acupuncture might promote said wellness. Maybe it’s something like chiropractic maintenance treatments, but instead of getting your spine adjusted to remove nerve flow interference you’d be stuck with needles to unblock your chi, whether you need it or not.

Despite all of this, the composition of the Commission on Acupuncture and Wellness does present some tantalizing possibilities. In addition to acupuncturists, the Committee must include members from the public health field, insurance industry and (listen up, Kimball Atwood, M.D.) medical profession. Suppose these dominate the Committee and its report concludes that acupuncture is nothing more than magical thinking which induces a placebo effect and is not effective for anything, including “wellness promotion.” What then?

In Pennsylvania, the acupuncture practice act allows an acupuncturist to

treat a person’s condition without the condition being diagnosed by a licensed physician, dentist or podiatrist for 60 calendar days.

One wonders how the person or the acupuncturist knows there is a “condition” to treat without any diagnosis. In any event, the condition may not be treated beyond 60 days without getting a diagnosis from one of the specified professionals. A bill proposes an amendment to the practice act adding that these limitations do not apply

if a person does not present any symptoms of a condition.

Which brings me to the question: then why is the person being treated? Perhaps this is a veiled attempt to allow the sort of “wellness promotion” the Massachusetts legislation contemplates.

Before we move on to the ever-popular subject of health insurance, one more bill bears mentioning. An Oregon bill addressing several acupuncture topics eliminates “traditional and modern techniques of diagnosis and evaluation” from the acupuncture practice act but does not replace it with any other provision authorizing diagnosis. If this weren’t Oregon, I’d think of this as a step in the right direction but it is probably just a mistake. Or maybe just another sneaky attempt to allow “wellness promotion” by eliminating the need for a diagnosis.

As promised: Insurance

Staying with Oregon for a moment, as I mentioned before regarding naturopaths and chiropractors, a bill would require coordinated care organizations to include acupuncturists as health care providers. They would be paid at the same rate as other specialty care providers. As I said previously, this upends the entire purpose of these organizations, which is to provide better care for Medicaid beneficiaries at a lower cost by mandating that all providers practice evidence-based medicine.

In Vermont, a bill would mandate coverage of acupuncture by Green Mountain Care, the state’s single payer insurance program covering all state residents. In New York, several bills mandate inclusion of acupuncture under worker’s compensation insurance. The New York legislature might want to review Florida’s experience with including acupuncture under the state’s no-fault personal injury protection auto insurance law. When a report showed acupuncture charges per patient were greater than for medical care the legislature wisely removed acupuncture coverage.

“Certified homeopaths”

Homeopathy, as David Gorski rightly says, is the perfect quackery.

Anyone who is any sort of a scientist or has an understanding of science, when confronted with these simple, well-established physical laws, might—just might—start to rethink his belief in something that is so utterly implausible from a scientific standpoint. Indeed, homeopathy is about as close to impossible as anything I can imagine, because for it to “work” multiple well-established laws of physics and chemistry would have to be not just wrong, but spectacularly wrong.

Although Connecticut licenses “homeopathic physicians,” who must be medical doctors, there are only 10 of them in the entire state. One can well imagine why, as the cognitive dissonance must be excruciating. Other licensed health care providers practice homeopathy as well, primarily naturopaths, who spend a good deal of time studying it in naturopathy school, where conflict with basic scientific principles apparently is less troubling.

This year a bill has been introduced in the Connecticut legislature to remedy a perceived lack of access to homeopathy practitioners via state certification of “classical homeopaths,” that is, those who have passed the certification requirements established by the Council for Homeopathic Certification but who are not medical doctors.

Hmmm . . . I wonder why all of a sudden classical homeopaths want the imprimatur of state certification? Could it be Section 2607 of the Affordable Care Act?

SEC. 2706. NON-DISCRIMINATION IN HEALTH CARE.

(a) PROVIDERS.—A group health plan and a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage shall not discriminate with respect to participation under the plan or coverage against any health care provider who is acting within the scope of that provider’s license or certification under applicable State law. . . .

I don’t know but you can bet we’ll find out soon enough if this bill passes. If Section 2607 is the motivation classical homeopaths will waste no time in making their demands for coverage, including any plan covering Connecticut state employees falling within the definition of “group health plan” or “health insurance issuer.” Perhaps this knowledge might temper the legislature’s desire for certified classical homeopaths in Connecticut.

The rationale for certification is set forth in a 2011 memorandum addressed to the Connecticut Department of Public Health from “Homeopathy for Connecticut” (HFC),  an organization pushing the idea. According to the memo:

The risk of harm to the public is negligible since homeopathy is not a medical practice, homeopaths do not diagnose or treat disease or perform invasive procedures, and homeopathic remedies are available over the counter. Homeopaths indicate homeopathic remedies to assist in a person’s natural ability to restore health. A homeopathic remedy works on an energetic level by stimulating the body to heal itself. Consequently, in the U.S. there are very low rates of consumer complaints, malpractice claims or investigations regarding any type of homeopathic provider. In Connecticut, there have been no malpractice decisions made against homeopaths.

I have to concede the point that few people are actually physically harmed by homeopathy unless they use it as a substitute for real medical care. After all, water and sugar pills are pretty safe. But the HFC apparently is unaware of the several class actions against manufacturers of homeopathic products pending around the country alleging another type of injury — consumer fraud.

I do quarrel with the proposition that homeopaths “do not diagnose or treat disease.” They do, they just don’t call it that. This is clear from a fascinating document on the website of the Council for Homeopathic Certification, the organization whose certification will permit homeopaths to become state certified if this bill passes. According to the HFC, the Council

provides rigorous standards and a national exam that assesses competency in the skills required for professional practice of homeopathy.

The exam includes several case presentations. The Council’s guidelines on presentations provides clear evidence that, whatever they call it, homeopaths do diagnose and treat disease, or at least their version of disease. After all, if a homeopath is going to recommend a homeopathic product it obviously has to be based on some assessment of the patient’s problem and some idea of why a particular product might be beneficial for this problem. (The guidelines also use Anna Karenina as template for successful presentation but I’m not even going to go there. Let’s just say it’s quite a stretch from Tolstoy to homeopathic case presentation and leave it at that.)

But that is not what makes the guidelines fascinating. No, it is getting inside the head of a homeopath during his thought process of determining what is wrong with a patient and how to address it with homeopathic remedies. Or, as we would say, diagnosing and treating the patient. I can’t begin to describe it. You really must read it for yourself. (From the Home page, click on “Case Submission Guidelines” under the “Popular Downloads” heading. See “Acceptable Case (1),” starting on page 6, although the preceding pages are quite interesting too.)

Fighting Back

This post, as well as earlier legislative alchemy posts, demonstrates that CAM providers will introduce legislation friendly to their interests, if not in the public interest, each year. And they will keep trying until they get their way. Too often, the only groups opposing this legislation are other health care providers, such as medical societies. This leaves valid concerns subject to dismissal on the charge that there is simply a turf war going on. (Unfortunately, instead of fighting implausible and unproven therapies, some medical doctors and medical institutions give unwarranted credibility to CAM treatments like acupuncture by promoting it as a valid therapy for a number of conditions.)

Unless citizens become more proactive in fighting these initiatives, CAM providers will enjoy an ever-increasing scope of practice and insurance coverage. Several comments have requested more concrete information on how to fight back. We’ll address this important topic in a post soon.

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07 Mar 22:35

Adventures in plumbing

by Jason Kottke
Lalitree

Ha, I know Jake from college -- he does have a model look to him.

Soon after Jake Mohan and his wife bought a house, something went wrong with the plumbing. And then something went right with the plumbing.

Rick called his friend Tom, a plumber. If I'd thought Rick was eccentric, I hadn't seen anything yet. Tom was the Kramer to his Seinfeld. Leather-skinned and gray-mustached, Tom swaggered into the house, took one look at me, and asked me if I was a model. I still hadn't had any coffee, so I wasn't sure if I was suffering auditory hallucinations. "A model?"

"Yeah, you look like you could be a model."

I told him I was a teacher, possibly the furthest thing from a model. "Well, you might have a second calling, brother."

Ordinarily I might have been flattered, but I was disoriented and increasingly angry that our perfect new house was anything but, its actual guts in a state of delinquent disarray. Rick and Tom set about looking at the shoddy plumbing work, shaking their heads and clucking their tongues (the phrases "crap work" and "lipstick on a pig" were uttered). Not only was the cleanout valve worthless, but the downstairs bathroom's waste line, which runs directly from the toilet, was routed directly into the cleanout valve.

(via @ftrain)

Tags: Jake Mohan   real estate