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Archive for May, 2012

Getting back to normal

May 31st, 2012 at 04:10 am

I think things are getting back to normal at my p/t job. There were a few weeks there when, due to the point I had reached in my work, I had to come in to the office for my 3rd day of work (Fridays) instead of working at home. boo hoo. How much longer my abbreviated work week seemed when I had to work 3 days in office instead of 2 days in, 1 day at home.

Not that I'm complaining. Though I never thought I'd even have this job that long. But a variety of "sure thing" job interviews I had went nowhere. So here I am.

I'm going to ask the editor in chief if she minds if i relocate my work area to another desk in the back of the room. She seems to be of the habit of blasting the AC all day; she sits directly underneat the wall unit so maybe she doesn't get that much cold air, but where i sit, it's directly blowing on me. The first day i experienced this was last week, on the first day i'd returned to work after having a bad cold. I remember worrying all day as i worked whether having cold air blowing on me was going to worsen the cold, but i was reluctant to say anything to the editor, until finally i did later in the afternoon. I asked her if she minded turning it down a notch, and that's exactly what she did. Turn it down...a notch. Sigh.

So i'd rather just move my desk rather than disrupt her usual habits. I don't think she will object, as i'm told several others who used to sit where I sit also had major problems with that AC and had to wear sweaters in August.

Last night was good sleeping weather; the humidity of the last few days, so alarming to have in May, is gone, and while it's still warm, it's also much drier.

A few days ago I was sinking metal hoops around my tomatoe plants, which now number 8! I did a REALLY STUPID thing. As I sank the prongs of one into the ground, I felt a certain resistance before it sank in. I realized with a sinking heart that i was very close to the soaker hose I'd buried under a few inches of dirt. It was a lot of extra work to dig out a trench and lay that hose, and now I think I've punctured it!

The only way to know for sure is to hook up my 100-foot hose to the soaker hose, turn the water on and see if it comes out at the other end of the soaker hose, which i haven't buried yet. I haven't had a chanceto do that yet.

Poor Luther. I told you how when it gets bored and he's home along, he goes around and opens all the cabinet doors in the kitchen and elsewhere. Well, another really annoying habit he has, when I'm home, is he'll scratch the walls. Usually in the office when i'm at the computer, he'll start scratching in one spot. As soon as I yell at him, he comes running to me. I yell at him so much i think he thinks that's my normal speaking voice.

Ever see a cow run?

May 29th, 2012 at 03:49 am

They will, especially on the first day they're allowed to graze pasture after a long winter of being confined to the barnyard and mostly indoors.

Here's a video: http://www.stonyfield.com/healthy-planet/organic-farming/have-cow/how-make-cow-happy-just-add-grass?utm_source=Silverpop&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Stonyfield%20Moos%20-%20May%202012%20Yahoo%20Day%201%205-25-2012&utm_content=&spMailingID=39250291&spUserID=MjQwMzg2NTAzNjQS1&spJobID=144252995&spReportId=MTQ0MjUyOTk1S0

Of course, the vast majority of cows raised on industrial farms never go outside, let alone see green grass.

i hadn't realized that it's a USDA requirement that cows raised on organic farms must graze on pasture...real grass.. at least 120 days of the year.

The holiday weekend

May 28th, 2012 at 04:59 am

I got a lot done yesterday and the weekend ain't over yet!

1. Weeded a badly neglected perennial bed and then threw some mulch on it; it looks much better now.

2. Deposited a check at the bank.

3. Made some yummy "Sloppy Portobellos." Similar to a Sloppy Joe except this one's made of chopped up portobello mushrooom, onion and garlic instead of beef. I had it with a green salad, corn on the cob and homemade sweet potato fries. Will be having the leftovers today.

4. I planted the rest of my vegetable seedlings, only to come across afterwards a local woman on Craig's List selling heirloom tomatoes for just $3 each. So I contacted her and am set on going over there this a.m. althhough she hasn't confirmed the time yet. I don't have much room left, but would love to try a few heirloom varieties and see if they are superior to the usual mass marketed stuff.

I cam across 3 different toads recently in the veggie garden. I try to be on the lookout for them cus i don't want to step on them and i would like to encourage them to stick around, although they are surrounded by a sea of inhospitable (to a toad) lawn.

5. Did a load of laundry.

6. Changed the bed sheets.

7. Weed whacked around things in the front yard.

8. Cut down a broken branch of a crabapple tree and started cutting broken branches of an adjacent apple tree, for which I know I'll need to hire a tree guy to finish (maybe next weekend?), but this at least will make it easier to mow under there and allow more in air to dry things up.

I woke up around 6 am today and as per usual, walked into the bathroom where i raised the mini blinds at the back window. 99.9% of the time I put on my glasses before getting up, but this time I didn't for some reason, and wouldn't you know it, the noise from me raising the mini blinds (window partially open) scared away some interesting animal picking up the crumbs from the bird feeder. It was reddish, so i think it was a fox, which i don't see here that often. Darn! Without my glasses, it was all a blur. I saw it run off.

9. I went around taking photos of all the plants in my yard i figured i could sell, and came up with about a dozen. Then I wrote fairly detailed descriptions of each. Wondering what kind of response i'll get, if i get any. (I already had 2 customers.) This a.m. someone inquired about wanting a large amount of pachysandra, which i have more of than anything around here, but it's a BEAR to dig up mature and dense pachysandra. You really need to hack away at it with the shovel. I'm hoping the cheap price of $5 per perennial, or $5 per flat for the groundcovers, is cheap enough to be an inducement to people to come and dig their own. I'll help them do it, of course, but it's a lot of work just to save a few dollars. Most especially the pachysandra.

10. I also went to the library and got 5 DVDs, which will provide entertainment most of the rest of the coming week.

I think instead of doing the Chase Sapphire card next ($3,000 spend for $400 cash) I have my eye on the Amex Premier Rewards card (spend $2,000 for $250 in Gift cards). Charging $3,000 in 3 months would be a real challenge, easier if i were working and had some kind of planned major expense, so i think i will just settle for now for the Amex Premier card. Getting gift cards instead of cash "feels" like a lot more fun, and I can balance out a few "fun" purchases with things I really use/need, so i feel i can justify it. Buying grocery store gift cards is still a very handy/helpful thing to reach the spending target, as long as it's a reasonable amount and you're not having to buy $1,000 worth of grocery store gift cards.

anyway, I haven't gotten the bill yet for the Citi Thank you card and I'll have a bit of a lull until the planned application for the Amex card in July. I want to time the receipt of the new card to be just before i get my next car insurance bill.

Happy holiday weekend

May 26th, 2012 at 04:56 am

I just spent at least 2 hours troubleshooting some unexpected computer problems. It all started becus my printer was once again not working. I've gotten into the habit of reinstalling the print driver becus it's the only thing I know that works to get the Dell computer and printer talking to each other. (I am no longer a Dell fan.) That, and having to stop and start the print spooler. Documents sit in the queue and prevent anything from being printed.

Then I had 21 MS updates to install, which took quite a while. then Norton anti-virus found "a problem" and had to fix it.

It seems there was a problem with my dleacoms.exe, which relates to printer communication. I figured out/stumbled upon a way to do a System Restore and finally everything is working just fine. (Let's hope it lasts.)

I now have my $250 worth of gift cards for Home Depot, Lowes, Sears and Wal-Mart (thanks, Citi), plus $40 of Amazon gift cards.

I was salivating over all the free stuff; it felt like Christmas morning. Now, though I haven't even spent them, my ardor has cooled. What's wrong with me? Don't want to spend money??

I do have plans to go out today and use a bunch of them, and I can do my grocery shopping with gift cards I bought trying to hit the spending target with that Citi credit card to begin with. So maybe my enthusiasm will return when I come home later today with a pile of stuff at no cost.

All of my beans...the wax beans, string beans and soybeans....are coming up now. I planted one long row of them. Yesterday I placed tiny little tinfoil collars around the base of each one to protect them from cut worms, who can mow them down with no warning.

Today's goal is to buy tomato and bell pepper plants, maybe cukes, too, and get them in the ground. I'd hoped to do this 2 weeks ago but my cold got in the way, and a bunch of other stuff.

I'd also like to hit Wal-Mart and get some nice summer clothes. See, I will be shopping frugally. Not sure I'm looking forward to the crowds, but I don't feel like waiting til Tuesday, when everyone (but me) goes back to work).

I got 1 of my 2 real estate freelance projects done, so I can bill the client today for $200; I had hoped to be working on the 2nd one this weekend, but the builder never called me. My client has indicated, though, that she'll have a third project for me as well, so that's cool.

I sent out another mortgage payment, which has now become exciting and momentous becus this latest payment, for instance, should get my balance down below $7,000.

The job market sucks. I am really beginning to feel a full-time salaried job is a hopeless search. I'm now paying $562/mth for COBRA on a p/t income, and the COBRA will only last til June 2013. Something has to give. I'm just not seeing any jobs. Yeah, I can keep myself pretty occupied chasing after the "scraps..." the poll worker stuff, the freelance here and there, and whatever else I can find to earn a buck, like Craig's List sales of plants in my yard....but this is just not a sustainable way to live. I keep hoping for an economic turnaround that would dramatically lower the unemployment rate and i often feel like it's a race, and who's going to win? Can I sit out the recession or will it last longer than I can?

COUGH. Sniffl, sniff.

May 21st, 2012 at 12:29 pm

That's me. All day long. I guess it'll get worse before it gets better.

Naturally, when I'm feeling my lowest is when i get more work to do.

My real estate client has already given me a 2nd sales brochure to do in addition to the first, which I only just began. I am thrilled to have the work. Both are luxury home subdivisions. I usually interview the builder, often the sales manager appointed to market the property by the real estate company, and then I do my writeup.

It's just a little hard to really go at it because my energy level is zilch and I don't feel much like talking, let alone intelligently.

I should be all over it now since I go back to my p/t job Wed/Thurs/Friday so won't have time to interview anyone.

Ah, well.

I got a big $3 settlement from a class action lawsuit involving KFC.

It's raining now. Good for the garden.

Thinking more about what to do about an IRA contribution this year. I have never missed making the full contribution on any year, but that's because, since I always had ample savings, I would simply sell taxable mutual funds and transfer the money over to my Roth.


I could do the same this year, though I'm nervous about doing so as my income is so low. Also, all my taxable money is stuck in an international fund, which is way down due to what's happening in Europe. So i'd be selling at a big loss.

I have only so much free cash on hand and at some point in the next few years, I imagine I'll need a new car. Once unemployment runs out, if I'm still lacking a salaried position, I may be needing that taxable lump sum to live on. So I don't know. I think I will take the risk and contribute to the Roth anyway, since I could withdraw without penalty if I needed to.

Still feeling icky

May 20th, 2012 at 05:40 pm

My cold is still bothering me, though so far it seems milder than ordinary winter colds.

So, I've taken it easy this weekend, although yesterday I did saw down two trees I didn't want growing in my wineberry patch: a black locust and an ailanthus that seemingly appeared from nowhere and rapidly grew to about 20 feet high. Each was about 4 inch diameter.

Don't ask me what possessed me to do it, with a cold, except that I'd been wanting to do it for weeks, especially before the ailanthus bloomed; that tree is known to cause big allergy problems, and Waldo has really suffered each summer. I'm pretty sure now the ailanthus is the villian, but there's not much I can do now about the giant one growing very close to the house.

Today I made a jug of iced tea, using black and green tea bags. I read the skimpy Sunday paper, clipped a few coupons and did a load of laundry. I refreshed the hummingbird water and the black oil sunflower seed for the other birds. Sprayed some poison ivy and topped off the solar bird bath so the fountain pump doesn't run dry.

I watered the new grass I planted and the transplanted viburnum which has only a 50/50 chance of survival, it appears. checked on the veggie garden; no sign of bean seedlings yet.

Did the first part of the writeup for a new freelance assignment. Plan to call the builder back tomorrow to schedule an interview time.

Didn't leave the house either day.

I brought up the rest of the window screens and inserted them for the season. Applied for 2 jobs online. I finished reading Wild, by Cheryl Strayed. It was very interesting. She did the kind of thing I always wanted to do, although it was the Appalachian Trail I would have hiked. And I don't think I would have endured the chawed up feet and blackened toenails, or hiked alone, as she did.

Tomorrow, if i have the energy, I'd like to get some groceries and then pick up milk at Walgreens. And I have to talk to the bulider to write the rest of the sales brochure. And I'd really like to buy my tomato plants this weekend.

I am looking forward to maybe getting some fun summer sandals and a summer top or two with some of my gift cards, once I get them in the mail. It could be a few weeks before I do.

I'm going to hit the sack early.

Money Fun & Games

May 19th, 2012 at 04:43 am

Yesterday my second plant/perennial customer came over after work and together we dug up 6 flats worth of lily of the valley. I earned an easy $30 from getting rid of some plants that were growing in the wrong place and spreading into a path.

I haven't had a chance to post again on Craig's List with even more plants offered, but I plan to.

This morning was the long-awaited redemption of Citi Thank You points. I earned 27,105, so I spread the money around (very carefully) among gift cards for Home Depot, Lowes, Sears and WalMart. (I was momentarily tempted to get a Pottery Barn gift card, as I've always liked their stuff, but I figured I'd get a lot less bang for the buck becus of their higher prices, and so I passed.)

The Lowes and Home Depot cards ($50 each) could possibly be used for veggie plants, if I get them soon enough, or otherwise various and assorted needs for the house that arise from time to time.

The Walmart and Sears cards ($100 and $50, respectively, I would like to use a portion of for clothing; a lot of my clothing doesn't fit right, and I've been hanging on to some favorite t-shirts for years in the likely vain hope i will someday fit into them again. I seem to have only a few summer tops that look respectable on me and now that i am working outside the home for a portion of the week, i can't repeat the same outfits all the time.

The Wal-mart card can easily be used for other household needs like cat food or the occasional grocery item.

I only need another 400 points or so to earn another $25 gift card which I was thinking would be nice to use for a Bed Bath & Beyond trip.

I really didn't want all the cards to be used for frivolous things I don't really "need," but I figure a few well-chosen tops and the veggie plants and some needs for the house can be justified.

In addition to the $250 in Citi gift cards, I also have collected $40 in Amazon gift cards and I have a $25 Home Goods gift card, all earned from various online surveys/forums. I'm feeling dizzy with the possiblities. For someone who's self-enforced a strict no spending policy due to underemployment for the past 2.5 years, the gift cards are sort of like a Chinese buffet to someone stranded on a desert island. But I want to make sure that every dollar used is well considered and carefully made.

I am very annoyed to be coming down with some sort of cold, which is very unusual for me in May! I think I know when I got it, though. When I was working as a poll worker last Tuesday, a mother holding a kid and another at her side came up to the table. My head was down as i was looking up her name, but I heard the mother say, "Cover your mouth, honey," and I think the kid had sneezed, right at me.

The voter registrar already asked me if I could work the THIRD budget vote (yes, the last one failed by about 5oo votes) and I said yes, so June 5 will be another go-round. Hopefully, I should be all better by then.

Yesterday after work I finally finished mowing the lawn; it took me 3 days to mow all of it. I hope this isn't a sign that I'm even more out of shape, but just because the grass got a little higher than normal with all the rain we'd had, before I had a chance to cut it.

Sspring has indeed arrived here. I'm pretty sure the resident bluebirds have fledged their babies becus i haven't seen any activity around the box. I hope they all made it ok. I remember one year i found a dead baby bird inside the box when i cleaned it out. I think it was house wrens that used the box that year......just as i wrote that, i caught sight of a bird entering the box, and i coudln't make out what it was. It could have been the female bluebird, which is a more drab color than the male, or it could have been another bird ready to take up residence if the bluebirds were gone. Or, it could have been a wren or English sparrow, both aggressive birds. The sparrows have been known to puncture bluebird eggs with their beaks and even kill baby bluebirds in an attempt to take over the box.

I've never had a problem with English sparrows here but this spring have been unhappy to see a few at the feeder. I will not allow them to nest in either of my 2 nest boxes.

Ahh, the bluebirds are still in the box! Just saw the male fly in with food, except that he's no longer entering the box but perched on the outside and sticks his head in; that must mean the babies are getting big and the nest is getting too crowded. I think they are just days away from fledging.

Here is the pretty mother's day gift my sister gave my mother; i love the way she decorates her gifts...


Yes, they're real flowers.


This was my no-bake kiwi cheesecake, so yummy, and just 4 ingredients.


And my small tabletop bouquet, from the garden.

Good stuff happening

May 15th, 2012 at 05:53 pm

I worked 15 hours today in the polls and at the end of the night, we learned the 2nd budget vote FAILED by about 100 votes. The people have spoken! And that means that 1. my property taxes will be lower and 2. I get to work a 3rd time as a poll worker.

Then there are still the Democratic primary in August and of course the national election, so i have the potential of earning $875 from working the polls 5x this year.

My old real estate client said they have several new communities for me to write sales brochures, so that's also great; I haven't gotten any work from them since February!

AND, a SECOND person is coming up here Friday after work to buy more of my perennials. This one wants 5 flats of lily of the valley, which grows like crazy here.

I also yesterday finished up my 3rd guardian ad litem report for someone and am just waiting for a small final piece of the report; then I can bill her, though I don't charge her much. $87 so far and then the final piece.

I wish I could relax tomorrow but I can't...have to go to my normal p/t job.

Today, a whir of activity

May 14th, 2012 at 05:19 pm

wow, this feels like the first time all day I've actually sat down.

What did I do?

1. Confirmed with voter registrar that I WILL be working tomorrow in our 2nd budget vote. And along that vein, for tomorrow's lunch, I shredded the rest of the turkey from the turkey breast I had for mother's day and made a turkey salad with mayo, dried cranberries and chopped green apple, and a little red onion.

2. Picked up my free 8 x 10 photo at walgreen's, thanks to an alert by Monkey mama.

3. ran to Target to pick up some Lean Cuisines. got them at the sale price of $2.50, plus i got a $5 Target gift card for doing so AND I participate in the Lean Cuisine promotion from which I already got 2 magazine subscriptions.

4. looked for some tomato and pepper plants, but the store i went to had very poor looking stock, all leggy.

5. Kept digging up sod in the veggie garden so i could plant some yellow wax beans, green string beans and soybeans before the expected rain of the next few days. Mission accomplished. i also laid a portion of my soaker hose in a shallow trench right next to where i planted the beans. As i worked, i saved all the grubs i found and put them in a shallow tray for the bluebirds, who gobbled them up. Smile

Gosh, I know I did more but now i can't remember!

Yesterday's Mother's Day dinner consisted of the above-mentioned turkey breast (a freebie from Shop rite after spending $200 in one month last November) with gravy, mashed (organic) potatoes, a yummy chutney I made with chopped pineapple, golden raisins, red onion and freshly grated ginger, my sister's asparagus salad and for dessert, i made a kiwi (no bake) cheesecake which used just 4 ingredients. (Appetizer was a crusty Trader Joe's bread with an eggplant spread.)

New money-making scheme

May 12th, 2012 at 05:17 pm

As mentioned in my last post, someone responded to my Craig's List ad where I offered three or four different perennials for sale.

She was here bright and early this morning. I dug up some extra plants cus i wasn't sure which she'd want, and she casually took them all! (If I had known how easy this would be, I would have dug up more!) Ahh, I remember those days when I would spend money just as easily for things that I wanted. The good old days....So I made an easy $40 from baby plants, and I still have all the mother plants and more babies.

So I got to thinking, and realized I have probably a dozen different perennials I could offer for sale. I made theones I sold pretty cheap, $5 for a larger plant or $2.50 for a little one. I figured if I didn't, people might just as soon go to a Home Depot and get a better selection or something.

So I may post another ad before i return to work.

It was such a gorgeous day today, sunny and in the 70s. So I spent much of the afternoon working outside. I really have to get going on the veggie garden. My goal is to plant my soybeans and string beans this weekend, but i have a lot of sod to shake out and still more digging. It's back breaking work when you're diggin up lawn.

Whenever I came across a grub in the sod, instead of squashing it as I usually do, I saved them in a little cup and then put in on a bucket lid on the grass near the bluebird box. I think I'm getting them trained now to look for grubs when i put it out, because when i looked at the cup a short time later, it was already turned upside down. I had 3 grubs in there, 1 was huge. (Somebody got a treat.)

I used up the rest of my pile of mulch under the big rhododendron in back. I think the Patient Saver Mulch Crisis has now abated.

I earned $30 worth of Amazon gift cards from some online forums I particpate in on an ongoing basis. In the past, I've used these gift cards for a variety of stuff, including a very nice pendant light fixture for over the kitchen sink and 5 lbs of black licorice, which in hindsight was not the best spend, but i was in the mood for licorice and they only sold it in 5 lb quantities. More recently, I also bought 3 books, 2 vegan cook books and a best-seller that I've just begun reading, Wild.

Books are a treat and I don't read enough, so I am leaning toward using the current $30 on books; I could save them and wait another month when I'll get another $30 in gift cards, which would no doubt multiply the possiblities, but doubt i can wait that long with gift cards burning a hole in my pocket!

I haven't been able to bring myself to do any of those stupid online surveys. Lately I've begun to wonder if some of them have made it even harder to earn points. Countless times I've been totally annoyed to spend 10 or 15 minutes answering questions only to be told I don't qualify for the survey. These things just aren't worth it, really. I've done them for over a year and I've about had my fill. Maybe I'll just do the Pinecone and Toluna ones and forget all the others. That may have been part of the problem. I used to do Pinecone and Toluna exclusively, and then I reached the $600 earnings point with Toluna, believe it or not, and then I couldn't do any more surveys with them that year until I gave them my SS number so they could report the earnings. It was at that point, around September of last year, I think, that I stopped doing the Toluna surveys to avoid paying the taxes and opened up accounts with 3 or 4 other places of the same ilk. But doing so also means I'm spreading my surveys, time and points among 5 or so different survey outfits rather than one, so it tooks much longer to earn money. it's only worth doing this if you're an invalid and can't leave the house, and if you devote a LOT of time to them. In my case, I believe they really distract me from spending my time on much more worthwhile endeavors, whether it's money making or not.

Good day had by all

May 11th, 2012 at 05:01 pm



This is the feral one...he's come a long way.

I did some grocery shopping this a.m. and bought some gift cards (another $200 worth) to finally meet my target spending goal. All told, I had to buy $700 worth of grocery gift cards, in addition to my normal spending! Basically, that's about 2.5 months of advance groceries.

If I decide to do the Sapphire card later this year, I'll make SURE to time it so I can pay my homeowners bill with it. That will help a lot.

This afternoon, I moved a small viburnum I'd planted a number of years ago, that hadn't grown much since it was really getting shaded out by much larger shrubs. i moved it to what i think will be a much sunnier spot in back. I HOPE it will survive having been dug up.

I also sprayed poison ivy growing in the area where I moved three silky dogwood seedlings. I will be berry picking in that area this summer, and I'd rather not be tromping thru poison ivy each time, although I always wear knee-high boots. The silky dogwood is still alive, no doubt helped my some well-timed rain right after planting.

I planted two pots of basil seed.

I did a bit more work digging up sod in my veggie garden. The snap peas are doing well, about two inches high now. Lettuce is teeny, teeny. Cauliflower and collard seelings getting chewed by bugs. Broccoli hanging in there.

I ran to a local bait shop and bought 25 mealy worms for $1.85 after watching mom and dad bluebird fly back and forth, back and forth, to the nest box to feed the babies. I spread the meely worms out on the lid of a bucket and put it on the lawn about 10 feet from the bird box. Took them a while to realize there was good food there, but then I had a lot of fun, watching with binoculars from my office window, as the bluebird male returned again and again to stuff as many meely worms in his mouth at once and fly to the box.

I drove to town hall to see if i could finally find out from voter registar if I can work this Tuesday, a 2nd referendum vote, but the office was closed. I will try to call again on Monday.


Here's a pretty shot I took on a recent walk.

Oh, yes, and I'm psyched. Someone actually responded to a Craig's List ad i put in last week offering some perennials for sale, $5 each. She wants 4 blue milkweeds and is coming tomorrow for them. Truth be told, this is not the best time to dig them up as they're getting ready to flower very soon. But I have some growing on the north side of the house, which gets less sun and so they're a little behind the other plants, growthwise. I don't want them to be so wilted that she declines to buy them, so I think I'll wait til the morning to dig them up. These are pretty hardy plants and I know they'll bounce back as long as they're given plenty of water, as I've transplanted them many times now. I may be able to interest her in some coral bells too; i have both the green and burgundy varieties.

UPDATE: She wants the coral bells...yes! But the babies are small, so to be fair i'll give her 2 small coral bells for $5. Or more, if she wants more.

I hadn't expected any responses on these plants, so I'm happy to be making a few dollars on plants that have multiplied by themselves....It will multiply the cash in my pocket, to about $25.

Sometimes life sucks

May 10th, 2012 at 04:44 pm

Oh, don't mind me. My mood will improve eventually.

I just had a bad afternoon at the office today. Everything seemed to be blowing up in my face and the editor in chief was on my case. The other project editor was very kind and said she was ready to quit last year when ed in chief was similarly bitching at her, but someone else talked her out of it.

I kinda felt that way today and was glad to get out of there; i don't have to return til Wednesday, so after playing catch-up for missed work hours last week and not feeling like i was getting much of a break, i can now relish a stretch of time off to do other stuff.

The other reason i'm in a bad mood is today i received notice of my COBRA rate increase for the coming year. I knew this was coming. The big question was, how much more as I anxiously recalculated my budget for like the millionth time. I had read that on average, health insurance premiums were rising by about 7% this year, so that's what i was counting on, but no, Connecticut is higher. I guess my increase was in the neighborhood of 16.5%, more than double the nat'l average. My COBRA ws $469/month and starting June 1 will be $562. Oww.

I mowed the lawn tonight to get that out of the way. I have a bunch of stuff to do tomorrow. And then there's Mother's Day, which honestly, I'm in no mood to plan, but my sister hasn't volunteered to have any kind of get-together at her place for years. I see my mother ALL the time; i don't see why we need to have yet another obligatory get-together with my sullen sister. And me having to pull together some kind of meal.

I suppose i sound grumpy and selfish, but like i said, bad mood. Need to vent.

I need to do some planting and do a lot of work in the vegetable garden. I need to check to make sure my docs are all in network under the new plan and call to see if Teva Neuroscience has a discount plan with Anthem the way they do elsewhere. This is a huge help, since it means I have no co-pays for this drug.

Umm, the guy I met for coffee the other night? He was nice, but far too old for me. I hadn't paid much attention to his age when he contacted me online. I'm sorry, I'm not ready to date a senior citizen and it didn't help when the first thing he talked about when we met was how funny he felt when he applied for Medicare the other day. I'm not there yet!!!

The vast majority of men love to date women far younger than themselves, which might work for a while, but there comes a point when those same women who may have dated you in your 40s aren't interested in doing same when you're 64 and she's 52! Time to be a bit more realistic about what you can attract.

Tweedle-dee, tweedle-dum...

May 8th, 2012 at 11:09 am

So as of today, I'm shy just $252 of my Citi Thank You card spending goal, and I just another week and a half to spend that. I'll likely wind up at Shop Rite and just buy more gift cards. All I can say is, it's going to be one heck of a bill...about $1,500, but I must (and will) pay it in full.

Not much else new.

I did an interesting legal focus group last Friday at the law offices of a firm trying a negligence case. Two of their attorneys presented both sides (they didn't tell us which side they were actually representing til it was over) to about 10 of us and we discussed and decided the case. And they paid us $100. I'd love to do more of those but you don't see these too often.

I learned about it by seeing a full-page ad in the local paper, which i decided was reason enough to renew my Sunday only subscription for another $20, something I'd been debating.

Freelance work has been dead. I THINK I'm working the polls in my hometown a week from today, but registrar hasn't confirmed that yet. I'll give it a few more days and then call her Friday if I haven't heard from her. My only worry is that she finds enough other people and somehow overlooks me, despite my calling with my interest as soon as I heard the budget was defeated in the first go-round.

I'm doing something tonight I haven't done in a VERY long time...meeting a strange man for coffee. Potential friend. I'm reluctant to get involved with anyone becus even if they're understanding of your underemployed situation, I doubt they could understand my desire to spend NOTHING extra. Nothing. And I don't want to be a leech on someone else. I feel like there are so many things I'm deferring that I just can't justify frivolous stuff like...coffee or meals out.

Over 2 years after my layoff, I finally got around to asking my old boss's boss for a Linked In recommendation. I knew he would say something really good about me, and he had a pretty weighty role at my old employer. He was the one who hired me, and the one who laid me off. I guess I felt a little funny asking him, for that reason, but more recently I figured, what the heck. I always thought very highly of him. He's very personable, very intelligent, very capable and I must say, I felt personally attracted to him. For some reason, there were a lot of people in my old group at the company who had a strong disliking for him. Especially one who I worked very closely with. So it was hard to remain objective; I never really saw or experienced any of the bad things that were said about him but I often wondered how people's perceptions of the same person could be so skewed.

Anyway, I was very pleased to finally hear from him a few weeks after i asked for the LI reference; he's going to write one for me, he's just been busy.

I managed to transplant three silky (or gray) dogwood seedlings spreading out from the mama plant to a bare area on the hill out back where I had to have the damaged sugar maple taken down. I don't know if they'll make it or not; it was a real bear digging in the soil which was compacted by roots of poison ivy, lots of brambles nad other stuff. It'd be nice to have a small grove of silky dogwood growing there rather than invasives of every stripe.

I may try to sell more silky dogwood seedlings as well as lily of the valley pips and pachysandra cheap on Craig's List. Also could divide my blue milkweed and sell some of that too.



How it went

May 3rd, 2012 at 12:17 pm

At home chillin' after the contract job interview this am.

It was a long drive...it took me an hour and 20 minutes to get there. it's tied with another job I had years ago for longest commute ever. I found myself wondering on the ride home if I could stand to do this 5 days a week. It was all highway; if there was ever a serious backup, I'm sure it could take even longer.

I met with 2 people, both of them contract workers themselves, in the cafeteria of the company, and also briefly met a third. This is the new reality. Corporate America has fared very well in this economy, and part of their success is due to increasingly hiring contract workers to get the job done that used to be done by salaried employees. I wonder sometimes how this is even legal, because they're reversing what, like a hundred years of worker rights? (In a similar vein, labor unions fought many battles to win benefits and salaries only to see at least one outspoken state governor recently throw it all out the window in the name of cutting costs.) So where does this lead the average employee? If your employer doesn't provide your health insurance and you happen to be unmarried or your spouse doesn't have a good plan, you're left scrambling to find something that approaches "affordable."

Anyway, back to the interview.

They were both pretty friendly. However, I have a somehwat different impression of the job based on what the recruiter had told me. It would be very challenging, because it's both left brain/right brain demanding. Half the job is needing to know how to write well, and I have no qualms about that at all, but the other half is having the ability to fairly quickly absorb and understand how their website is organized, the Internet architecture, if you will, and then also learning a variety of software tools that are used to accomplish different things. That's the part that intimidates me a little. I never really considered myself especially tech-savvy, although I use both Macs and PCs. I mostly use MS Office Suite, plus a little Quark and FileMaker which I learned at my current p/t job. I also have used a few content management systems.

They didn't seem to expect that I'd know it all now, but wanted to make sure I had the experience from other similar situations that would help me pick it up. All in all, it seemed to go well. I'm waiting to hear back from the recruiter, who i know was over at the job site.

As for the phone interview, it wasn't really much of a phone interview. Just like at Pru, it seemed like she'd already made up her mind after seeing my resume and had already decided she wanted me to come in for the group interview, and she sounded very rushed. The start date, based on what i learned today, has been pushed back by a few days, which is good, becus in the event i do get an offer, i'd then have to do a urine test and background check, and i told the recruiter I really want to give my p/t employer at least a week's notice, which is all there will be time for, if that.

I'm sort of hoping to learn something definitive before this week is out. Like maybe tonight/tomorrow.

If I DONT get the job, I think I may be somewhat relieved. I know if i get an offer I will definitely take it becus it's the right thing to do on many different levels, but I have huge concerns about the long commute and my ablity to learn the job quickly.

I learned something else not too good about the p/t job i have now...since we're working so effiiciently, but possibly becus that's just how they scheduled it, they will be temporarily laying us off for the entire month of January and then rehiring us in February to start the next round of (3) books.

I had mentioned to the other gal who has my job my concern that we were doing so well we might just be working ourselves out of a job and she said oh, no, when they hired you part-time, that means year-round work and I said not necessarily. she actually asked the question at an opportune time and that's when we learned we'd have a no-income January. We can collect unemployment on that, but since the pay is so piddly to start, it will be very little.

What would you do?

May 1st, 2012 at 07:54 am

There's an opportunity for me to do a roughly 4 month contract job for a large employer in my area. The job would gross about $6,066 a month, or $24,266 for the 4 months. Then, presumably, I'd be done, and back to looking for a job.

If I took that job, I'd have to quit my part-time job at 25 hours a week for $375 gross a week (or $1,625 a month or $6,500 for the same 4 months).

I think I should take the full-time job, but I'd have to let go of my lifeline, the p/t job. It's not a slam dunk decision, but here are my thoughts why I should take the f/t job:

1. Having worked for a big company looks good on a resume and could open up more doors down the road.

2. Possibility it could lead to longer term work. (One can hope.)

3. I would switch to recruiter's health insurance plan so that when the job ended it would reset the COBRA clock that determines how many months I can continue on COBRA.

4. While my current p/t job is supposedly permanent, not temporary, a recent conversation i had with manager indicates the company is on shaky ground and barely breaking even. Building is up for sale and owners could choose to retire at any time. For all I know, that's their plan, to close down the business when the buidling sells.

Even though the pay is much less, I'm a little nervous about giving up what APPEARS now to be something that would last much longer than 4 months, but I can't really count on that.

I'd be giving up a p/t job with partial work at home and easy, back roads commute for a daily commute of an hour (maybe more with traffic?) but at least in the summer it'd be daytime driving.

5. Working there and then losing the job at end of term would i think qualify me for more unemployment benefits. Not that I want to forever be reliant on benefits, and I so want to work full-time, but I need it if I'm not working.

I calculate 15 weeks of work grossing $21,000, or $15,360 net. If I continued my uber-frugal living habits and existed on minimum monthly expenses of $2,431 a month during that time, I could cover expenses AND possibly save as much as $6,917 for a rainy day. (I would spend considerably more on gas, though.)

Your thoughts?