Basement flooding

A week and a half ago (the same day that Caleb had come with me to work for half a day as part of take our daughters and sons to work day) the water was left running in the downstairs bathroom with the drain closed.

When we were buying the house, and even after we moved in, I never had paid close enough attention to notice that the sinks did not have overflow drains. Every bathroom sink in every home I can remember living in (at least in this country) has had an overflow drain. I literally took it for granted that all bathroom sinks were this way and never conciously noticed that our new house didn't.

Caleb got a bloody nose and went in to the bathroom to get a tissue to apply direct pressure with. So far so good. Some blood dripped into the sink, so he turned on the sink to wash it away. The main drain was closed and he got distracted by other kids (half the neighborhood was over playing in and out of the house that afternoon). He left it running and no one noticed for at least an hour...

By the time anyone discovered the water was left running the carpet was water logged to the point that anywhere you stepped a fountain of water would shoot up several inches in the air.

The one bright spot was that when I (visibily irritated I'm sure) asked all the kids who had been down in the bathroom and left the water running Caleb immediately owned up that it'd been him. He could have easily denied it, like the other kids who claimed no knowledge, and we'd have never known for sure who was responsible, but he chose to tell the truth immediately. I take satisfaction as a parent in that.

(Humorously Jacob exclaimed "You know it wasn't me! I don't even like to wash my hands after I go to the bathroom!"... something we obviously need to still work on with him before he starts school fulltime.)

Shauna borrowed two shop-vacs (one with sixteen gallons of capacity and another with ten) and we filled both nearly full without visibly putting a dent in the situation. Shauna wisely decided we were in over our heads and got out the phonebook and found professionals to call.

It'll be another two weeks before the carpet, pad, drywall and beadboard are all put back together all the way, but luckily since we're in good hands our cost is capped at our $500 deductible, though the estimate for complete repairs is in the neighborhood of $5,000.

My advice: if your bathroom sink doesn't have an overflow drain, and you have children, it's probably less expensive to replace the sink now then risk paying an insurance deductible later!

— Michael A. Cleverly

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The first Y2038 problem I've personally seen

If you've got sites running AOLserver 3.x running, and you've set the MaxIdle and MaxOpen database timeouts at 1,000,000,000 seconds, then you'll want to go read this thread from the AOLserver developers list.

Almost a week ago (Saturday May 13th at 01:27:28 UTC) the world dipped below the one billion seconds remaining until 32-bit time overflows (in the year 2038) mark.

(For more general information on Y2038, see Wikipedia,, or Google.)

— Michael A. Cleverly

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Funding the Spanish-American War no more: Goodbye to a 108-year old tax

Antique telephone

With a growing economy a tax once designed to stick it to "the rich" stands a decent chance of eventually sticking everybody.

During the Spanish-American War Congress imposed a temporary 3% "luxury" tax on everyones long distance telephone bills.

Finally 108 years later, after repeated court losses the IRS is conceding and is discontinuing collection of the tax. Additionally they must now refund, with interest, the 3% improperly collected since February 28, 2003.

— Michael A. Cleverly

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