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Archive for April, 2017

More on my carpenter meltdown

April 30th, 2017 at 06:26 am

I think Creditcardfree was right about how some people's anger issues prevent them from being able to "let go" of things that bother him. I dated someone about 8 years ago who had major issues of that sort and acted in the same extreme, irrational way to minor irritations. It took me a while to figure out that my changing my behavior in this way or that way had no effect on his anger one way or the other.

I also think that given his history, the encounter with the police was practically a traumatic event for him.

The carpenter, "B," is a guy who has gotten the short end of the stick in life. He has a marketable skill but doesn't know how to leverage it to get ahead and he seems to make a lot of poor decisions that exacerbate his problems. Years ago he got behind on his property taxes due to a seasonal work shortage and the interest and penalties just piled up. He is still digging out.

Years earlier he was in a bad motorcycle accident. His young daughter (he's divorced) was riding behind him and he'd given her his helmet. (There is no helmet law in CT.) A driver backing out of his driveway didn't see him. B. jammed on the brakes to avoid a collision and went flying over the bike. He broke his back and had numerous other fractures. I remember seeing an account of the accident in the local paper and calling him at the hospital to see how he was doing. He mistook my concern for romantic interest which I had to quickly correct the next time I saw him, when he got out of the hospital.

This was why he had a doc appt on the second day he was doing the bookshelves. Pain management, he said. I didn't pry, as it was none of my business, but he seemed to want to talk about it. So then we get talking and I mention that painkillers can be very addictive, and he agreed. I asked him if he was in pain and he said "not really."

I got in touch with the friend who referred him to me and told her what happened. She is still using him from time to time but she lets her husband deal with him mostly. She mentioned another incident she'd heard of where some woman cut him off in her car and he chased her down. She had a baby in the back seat. If my friend had "heard of it," I imagine the woman must've called the cops when she saw he was following her and they pulled him over.

Anyway, my friend recommended another guy she said was very nice. I also have 3 guys I'd found on Angie's List earlier who I was going to try before B. agreed to do the job. I really think there's just one full day of work remaining on the project -- all the fun finish work including baseboard, trim and moldings, plus the cabinet below the window and the cubby holes above it. To think that I was going to pay him a $100 bonus just because I thought he was doing a good job.

I did try pouring Dawn dish detergent over the oil stains on the pavers, let it sit a half hour, then rinsed with very hot water I warmed up in the microwave. Disappointingly, this did absolutely nothing to the stains. The source said you may have to repeat.

Instead, after researching it further, I decided to try clay kitty litter sprinkled over each stain, which I then ground into a fine powder dust with the heel of my foot. It should sit overnight and hopefully lift up some of the stain.

If that doesn't work, I still have a few more things to try. One clever idea was to use a charcoal grill lighter fluid, the kind that's a skinny foot-long tube, to heat the oil up and out of the brick so it burns off.

I remember when I pointed out the stains to B. and said I think your truck is dripping oil, he said no, that's not oil, and he never really finished the sentence. Maybe it's transmission fluid or brake fluid. I did get down on my hands and knees and it had just a vague petroleum smell, not that strong, so I don't know exactly what it is.

If, against all odds, the stains remain (there are a dozen of them), I could have the company who laid the driveway last spring come over and just turn the pavers over. I'd want them to do it becus they level it with a soft mallet or whatever and I don't want to mess it up. Perhaps he wouldn't charge that much since I hired him twice now for big jobs.

I'm speechless, shocked, upset.

April 29th, 2017 at 02:13 pm

My carpenter walked off, leaving me with a half-done job.

I'm just floored and very upset.

Today was Day 3. He was making good progress but had to go to Lowes to get more materials. We talked in great detail about what he had left to do, he calculated what it would cost and I gave him another $200 on top of the $500 I gave him at the start of the job.

He left around noon, and didn't return til 2:30 pm. While he was gone, I saw some oil stains his truck had left on my pavers, which was kind of upsetting. It doesn't look good but I went online and cleaning them seems fairly easy, just using dish detergent you let soak on the stain for 30 minutes, then using a scrub brush and then rinsing with hot water. I have it soaking in Dawn detergent now; hope it will work.

But anyway, he was annoyed having to walk further up the driveway since he couldn't drive all the way up. I explained why and pointed out the pavers. He actually said he thought I had put the stains there and said he "knew" I would try to deduct for what I owe him for the bookshelves becus of the stains. I never said I would do that. I just moved my car so he couldn't drive on the pavers.

But this wasn't the real reason he was upset, and I knew it. When I asked him what happened, he said some other driver hit his truck, but while they had damage to their vehicle, they only hit his tire and we looked at it and apparently there wasn't damage. But then he said he almost got arrested because HE LEFT THE SCENE OF AN ACCIDENT, but that the cop was "nice" and didn't make a big deal of it.

So he is VISIBLY upset, and I could understand that. I tried to calm him down and pointed out his truck suffered no damage and he wasn't arrested.

But then he starts talking about things I did that he didn't like. He said the day before I had turned out the dining room chandelier light, and that annoyed him. I turned it off when he left thee job for a while. It had been a cloudy day, but then the sun came out and since the chandelier is pretty dim anyway, I didn't think he'd need it on.

And then he went on and on about the pavers, that he knew where this was going, etc. He just went off on a rant.

I tried talking to him and explaining why i turned the light off and that i hadn't said anything about making him pay for the pavers, but when he remained agitated, I just went inside the house and thought maybe it was best he calm down by himself.

He's coming and going out of my dining room (i went upstairs) so after a while i look out the window and i see him packing up his stuff!

He was walking off the job! I tried to go out and talk to him again, asking him if he could just stop for a minute but he refused and the whole time I'm trying to reason with him he's walking back and forth collecting all his tools and equipment.

He said so many things that were completely irrational, that it just wasn't his day, etc.

I just can't believe this and now I'm wondering who the heck I'll have to find to finish this job. If he showed any interest in finishing it with maybe a small apology, I would gladly let him finish, but he was just so off the deep end I doubt he'll do that.

I'v known this guy for nearly 20 years and hired him off and on over the years and never had this happen. He has had some run-ins with the law and I do remember my girlfriend, the one who first gave me his info as a good handyman/carpenter, telling me a story about him getting arrested after he showed up at the police station with a rifle in the truck.

I think he has some anger management issues, clearly. He had several chances to just calm down but he just made things worse instead. I know he was upset about the car accident and the cop, but he could have recovered from that. You don't go yelling at your customer when clearly I had nothing to do with that, and if the pavers and my turning off the light really bothered him, there were better ways of dealing with it.

I'm holding out small hope that he might call in the next day or two to smooth things over, but I am a little doubtful that will happen. This really stinks.

Bookshelf pix and breaking a barrier

April 29th, 2017 at 07:32 am

Today is day 3 on the bookshelves. Carpenter only worked a half day yesterday. I'm happy with the way it's turned out so far.



I'll have him do a bench under the window with 2 cabinet doors that open to reveal a single shelf inside. Above the window, I'm going to have him build 6 small square cubbies where I can display mom's miniature art pieces.

There will be trim with the vertical lines and rosettes on 4 vertical parts of the shelves which will really finish it off nicely. Similar to this, which matches what I have on my family room French doors:


I guess I'll do the painting myself (not looking forward to it). First primer, then a semi-gloss waterborne enamel like Sherwin ProClassic, which will harden better than your typical latex paint. I had all sorts of problems with stickiness and paint lifting off my doors when I tried using a latex on them, despite lengthy dry time. I don't like using oil-based paint due to clean-up and odor issues.

I've researched the best paints for doors and shelves, things that either have pressure applied when they're closed, or have things put on top of them and both Sherwin Williams ProClassic and Ben Moore Impervo are said to have the advantages of an oil-like finish without the drawbacks of oil. I sure hope so.

FINALLY, I surpassed $900,000 in savings...$900,308, to be exact. I'd been eyeing this particular milestone for the last 3 months.

I hope I can hang onto it and not see it dip below $900K again due to my "under-employed" status. That is just one way the contract job could be helpful.

I was supposed to start on Monday but now the client has changed direction and they won't have things ironed out til later next week, so new start date is next Friday or maybe the following Monday.

Despite the big savings milestone, I'm in the red for the month of April, the 2nd consecutive month that's happened. Not including my capital outlays for the built-in bookshelves this month, my expenses exceeded income by $1200.

It's not that I spent that much but I only had $1330 in income.

I don't regret My little April "splurges:" a $75 birthday lunch with dad and $30 on Easter goodies for my friend's nieces.

I also had to pay $500 in state and federal estimated taxes for the 1st quarter, which I wouldn't be surprised I overpaid. It sure seems like a lot, given what I earned. The estimated tax forms are ridiculously involved and I just don't want to spend hours upon hours doing it. Instead, I use my own highly simplified estimate which in the past has resulted in over-payment. But I'll get it back and the main thing is not to incur a penalty for under-payment.

My annual transfer station (dump) fee has risen to $95 this year. It irks me to pay that much given that most other area towns charge far less; my father, in nearby town, pays nothing.

More fun and games: job on hold

April 27th, 2017 at 04:08 pm

So I spent 4 hours today reading all the bank material, highlighting key stuff and looking over competitor websites. All this while my carpenter was banging away downstairs and really making a racket.

I just got an email from the agency saying the bank has changed course and they will need to re-brief me again but they won't have things firmed up til end of next week.

So I will NOT be starting there Monday after all; more likely, he said, it will be next Friday or the following Monday. It's possible I won't get paid for the 4 hours spent today since recruiter explicitly told me not to do any work yet til he got back to me on Friday. I'm pretty sure he was going to make sure I would be paid for at-home work (even though the guy at marketing agency said yes, please, go ahead). I'm not sure whether or not I should tell recruiter I did not follow his directive.

Can you believe it??? I really felt I HAD to start the prep work asap to be ready to go on Monday. Oh well.

On the plus side, it appears I will now have plenty of time to have my carpenter continue work and finish the bookshelves. He put in a full day today and while progress was a tad slower than I'd hoped for, we did spend a lot of time determining the number of shelves and their dimensions, which will carry through to the other side of the window, so it was necessary to spend that time.

He has a mid-day doctor's appointment tomorrow so I guess I will hang around here til then. Once he leaves, I'll do my grocery shopping and also run to Macy's, as I would like to get a few tops and some new shoes, just to make it easier to get dressed in the morning in something presentable.

I feel a little bummed, and even worried now that this job may not pan out if the client bank doesn't know what it wants. I hope that's not the case.

Ambushed...next steps

April 27th, 2017 at 04:57 am

So as mentioned in yesterday's post, I really felt kind of ambushed when I showed up at what I thought would be a job interview but what turned out to be a kick-off meeting meant to debrief me on the work I'd be doing.

When I say "ambushed," I don't mean they were trying to do anything unkind, but it certainly threw me off kilter as I struggled to comprehend the scope of a very involved project and what they were asking of me.

I don't blame them; they are obviously behind an eight ball with the deadline for this project and had no in-house talent to execute it, but it makes me wonder why they would take on such work if they didn't have resources IN PLACE. I guess their attitude was, 'shoot first and ask questions later.'

I want to make best use of my time between now and Monday to clear my plate of various errands or other things so they won't become a distraction when I'm neck-deep in the project. I'm only going to focus on essential stuff to do, and then I plan to get into the reading they gave me so I can absorb as much as possible and as the manager said "hit the ground running" on Monday.

My carpenter has arrived to set up his tools and saws for the built-in bookshelves. He's just left to go buy the wood and will start later this morning and can work today, tomorrow and Saturday on it.

Here's my list of things to do:

1. Pick up more meds for Waldo before they run out.

2. Laundry

3. New central air test of system this a.m.

4. Fill up gas tank.

5. Fill out all the recruiter's paperwork for: a)confidentiality agreement, b) IRS withholding form, c) Paychex timesheet, d) contract, e) direct deposit of my paychecks, which will be every 2 weeks.

6. Haircut

7. Dump run

8. Groceries

9. I may also do some clothes shopping. Altho it's casual attire (jeans) I may want a few things just to make it easier to get dressed in the morning without having to figure out what in my closet looks okay.

I may have to give up going to the local climate march on Saturday as planned for many weeks. Disappointing but I really need the time.

Once I get my personal stuff out of the way, I want to concentrate on the following, definitely for Sat/Sun but maybe even starting tonight or tomorrow:

10. Reading and absorbing all materials.
11. Sketch out an outline for the first brochure.
12. Closely review the bank's website.
13. Start a competitive review of other banks' private banking pages, printing out stuff I can bring to the office on Monday.

Now, the recruiter had told me NOT to do any work until he checked back with me tomorrow because I know he wants to make sure I'll get paid for time spent at home. I could just listen to what he told me, but honestly, I will be the one bearing responsibility for getting this done on time, so I'm only hurting myself by sitting around twiddling thumbs. I think I can safely say I'll be paid for at least 4 40-hour weeks, so I'm not too concerned about a few hours here or there. I'm kind of looking at it as a single project that will pay me $8800 rather a weekly paycheck.

I got a job (temp) Head spinning

April 26th, 2017 at 03:36 pm

So the recruiter for the short-term contract job set up an interview with the marketing agency I'd be working for.

As mentioned earlier, they didn't require an interview and were ready to hire me based on my resume, but the recruiter had very little information about what, exactly, I'd be writing, so for my own comfort level he agreed to set up the meeting.

He told me it could be brief and basically be a meet and greet and I could be out the door quickly.

To my surprise when I arrived, instead of an interview, they had scheduled a kick-off meeting for the 4 brochures I'll be writing! There were 4 employees there, all very nice, but it was a little overwhelming. They threw a whole bunch of reading material at me so I could write the 4 brochures in 4 weeks, which is a very tight schedule. The plan is to read and absorb it all over the weekend and I'd feel much better if I could also do some kind of rough outline for the first brochure.

It's going to be a challenging job, for several reasons:

1. The audience is very affluent people with assets of $3-$15 mm or something like that. I need to write at a sophisticated, intelligent level but still find a way to make the prose friendly and approachable.

2. I'm writing full brochures from scratch, which again can be challenging. I've done it before, though more often a group of people determines the outline and what content falls on which brochure panel. At a typical company, one brochure would take 2 weeks to do and that would be by someone already familiar with the client and the content.

3. He wants me to review all the written material and "hit the ground running" on Monday, which is starting earlier than I'd wanted to.

My carpenter, for instance, was supposed to start work on the built-in bookshelves tomorrow. I haven't heard from him (he was supposed to buy and drop off materials tonight in my garage) but it would be great if he could work Thurs/Fri/Sat and then maybe have one more day to do it when i'm not here.

Not crazy about not being around, but may have to do that.

But just entering a new work environment where everything's "new" is hard to do and then immediately achieve high focus on the task at end. The people are new, the workspace, hopefully they use PCs, not Macs.

The pay is excellent ($55/hr) and there's a good chance that if they like what I do with these brochures, they'll have me work on another project that will extend through the summer.

I'm feeling very stressed mainly given the tight deadline. It's going to be sink or swim.

The jobs merry-go-round

April 25th, 2017 at 02:58 pm

In my last post, I described 2 job possibilities: the perm job at fertility healthcare company with the long drive, and the 6-month contract job that paid much better and was closer.

I mentioned also that the contract job employer wants to hire me, sight unseen.

Late last night, I got another email from that recruiter in which he explained he'd made a mistake: that it wasn't a 6-month contract but a 4 to 5 week contract!!

I was incredibly disappointed because I was leaning toward that job. No wonder they didn't feel it necessary to meet me for such a short-term job.

That recruiter knew I had the interview today with the faraway perm job and I touched based with him today after the interview. Basically, I explained I would now only take the contract job if the other job fell through. He perfectly understood though he upped the rate to $55/hr. The job is still there for me but he has to know by TOMORROW at the latest whether I want it or not.

I've passed this info on to the recruiter for the fertility job and asked as a courtesy that if they don't want me for whatever reason, that they let me know quickly so i can grab the contract job at least. I doubt that will happen and I'll probably wind up calling the contract job recruiter and telling him go ahead and re-advertise it.

So I could end up with neither job, which would be kind of a bummer despite my reservations about the fertility job. It was a heck of a long drive down, I think 65 minutes, although driving home in non-rush hour traffic I got back in 50 minutes.

They are 98% sure of moving in a month's time to a location a bit closer to me on the same highway which would shave off 10 minutes from the drive, so it could become a 50- or 55-minute job. Still long. It would really pile on the mileage on my car.

I met with 3 people there, including the 1 I knew from an old job 8 years ago. He gave me a writing assignment, an email he'd written. I discovered when doing research to rewrite the email that he'd totally plagiarized a particular website, so I guess it's a good thing I mostly rewrote it.

One of the people there said i could work at home on snow days in winter but that they otherwise want people in office to collaborate. I would still intend on asking for 1 or 2 workdays at home once I got settled in the job, maybe after 6 months or so. And I guess if i got the job i would continue my job search so that in case they say "no" to partial work at home schedule that I can look for something else.

I'm frankly sick of job hunting but that's the best I can come up with. I think I could live with the job working at home 2 days a week but if I can't, I don't think I'd want to stay there for long.

PS The cats killed a snake and left it for me in the basement!! They don't go outside, and Waldo has arthritic legs and doesn't jump on anything but the bed and upholstered furniture, so I'm sure it was Luther. The poor snake must have just emerged from hiberation, or perhaps it even hibernated in the space between sill and foundation.

I was shocked to find it, dead, on the floor. I had just done laundry yesterday, so it must've happened last night or today. Thank god they didn't carry it up...live...to main living quarters as they have done with mice!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

JOB UPDATE:
Heard back from recruiter for perm job. They found a writer with 20 years of experience in the fertility industry so they want to hire that person. I'm a great writer but I can't compete with someone with that much targeted experience.

I'm a little perturbed because I put a lot of effort into the written assignment today when my current freelance assignment, which I planned on working on, is due tomorrow. And they probably knew about this other person when i came in to interview, so I'm not sure why they even had me come in.

At the same time, I'm also a little relieved as I won't have to deal with that commute.

But anyway, recruiter said they really liked my work and want to hire me to do contract writing.

As soon as I hung up from him, I called back the recruiter for the 4 to 5 week contract job, told him what happened and said I'd like to take his job now, with or without an interview. (He told me before they hadn't asked for an interview but I had, just becus i wanted to get more info about what I'd be doing.)

At this point I'd prefer a phone interview as my carpenter is coming on Thursday to start the bookcase and tomorrow is due date for my current freelance assignment. Once I turn it in, I will take a break from that work til things settle down next week and I know what's going on with the short-term contract job.

AY yi yi!!

Sunday stuff and am AMAZING college deal

April 23rd, 2017 at 04:37 pm

So I unwisely accepted this humongous 40-school assignment with a Wednesday due date, because I wasn't 100% sure I'd have a job interview to go to this week. I do, on Tuesday.

So (gulp) I had to go all out for the past 3 days so I could free up all day tomorrow to prep for the interview, and then a half day on Tuesday for the interview itself and one hour drive there and then back. (I did free up time to have dinner with dad at the Chinese place last night.)

So I wrote 10 school summaries each of the last 3 days, which really wasn't easy since most take me 50 or 60 minutes to write. I worked from 7:30 am to about 5 pm yesterday, and from 7:30 a.m. to 3 pm today. Got done what I needed to. Phew. I will never do THAT again but it's hard to turn down a paying job in my situation.

I sort of don't even want this job I'm interviewing for but one thing led to another and since my friend J. is the recruiter who's been leading the charge, I feel obligated to follow through as I don't want to disappoint him. Tho I may have to if I get an offer. At my age, I'm just not sure I have the stamina for a 2-hour commute (RT) every day and who knows how long they'll expect me to stay each night.

At the same time, I feel a need to consider it because I need affordable health insurance and have 8 months left on COBRA before s*** hits fan.

As usual, this is my conundrum. I feel like I've faced this dilemma a thousand times.

I could take the risk of passing on this job and not getting another perm job interview for a long time. The last perm job interview I had before this was shortly after I was laid off last summer, so yeah, the quality job interviews are few and far between.

I could try it for 6 months or so and then ask to work at home 1-2 days a week, which could change things mightily as far as my tolerance for the drive. Or they could say no, and then what?

I look in the mirror and feel I look so old, going in for a job interview, it makes things even harder. No spring chicken here.

In other news...

My sugar snap peas are FINALLY emerging. Took rather a long time. I intend to have them twine around the metal vertical poles of the shelving system they'res sitting on, out on the sunny, sunny driveway. All the parsley and some of the butterfly plants have also emerged.

I heard back from driveway guy about the weed poking through the new asphalt, as happened last year right after they paved. He agreed it shouldn't be happening and said he could try an extra thick coat of sealer. I asked if he would do the whole driveway or just that one spot and haven't heard back yet. Becus I have a feeling this is going to keep happening and how may times can I reasonably expect him to return.

I gave $500 to my carpenter so he can buy materials for my built-in bookshelves. Hooray. I had to delay his start on them due to my job interview cus I wasn't sure I could think straight with him hammering away downstairs, etc. So he's going to start this Thursday and while I can't wait to see them materialize, I'm not looking forward to probably 4 full days of no privacy and banging noise here. I'll have to make sure to pill Waldo his meds before he arrives or he'll never take them.

I am excited about getting them and the ability to design as we go along, as I'm not sure if, under the window, I should go with a window seat that opens from top, a cabinet or a cabinet with pull out drawer. He'll do whatever I want. Smile

I think I'll skip the window seat that opens from top as I don't want to have to clear whatever's on top of the window seat everytime I want to open it. Cabinet doors are kind of boring/predictable so I don't know.

He's also open to using matching fluted vertical trim with the little rosettes to match the trim on my double set of French doors in the living room/family room.

I'm glad he's looking forward to doing job nearly as much as I am but even though the job interview prep will be out of the way by the time he comes, will his work make it hard for me to work on another writing assignment? I'm turning in this assignment later on Wednesday. Carpenter starts work on Thursday; I don't know if he'd want to continue over the weekend, but if not, he might not finish up til Tues/Wed. I suppose I could afford to take a break from the writing, but maybe I should anyway because I'm kind of house-bound while he's working here so I'll need something to do anyway.

I took an hour walk today.

Tomorrow I'l take a break from my interview prep for an MS lunch in neighboring town. (I don't really need an entire day for it, but I do also need to assemble my portfolio, lay out an outfit to wear and write down directions.)

OK, so the very best deal I've come across after researching over 260 schools YTD for this freelance job of every kind is this: If you attend any CUNY or SUNY 2 or 4-year university in NY full time and if your family income is less than $100K, you get FREE tuition.

The only catch is, you have to have lived in NY for at least once year before applying for the program, and you also have to agree to reside in NY for at least as long as it took you to earn your degree. So if you went for a bachelor's degree, you'd have to agree to live in NY for 4 years following graduation. You could defer this requirement if you were planning to continue with grad school, but you would still have to meet the requirement after that or risk having to pay back the money. The program is called the Excelsior Scholarship and it starts this fall. It's the first program of its kind in the nation. The idea is to help make a college education affordable for middle-income families. In the next few years, the income cap will increase to $125K.

Wow, I wish I could have taken advantage of this program.

Interview lined up for Tuesday

April 20th, 2017 at 12:47 pm

This is the f/t perm job about an hour from here at an IVF fertility healthcare company. I used to work very closely with the recruiter when we both worked as writers for a certain employer about 8 years ago, and the person I would be reporting to is also someone who worked at that same place! I didn't know him well at the time.

So I'm putting together my portfolio and will be prepping this weekend. I think my biggest shortcoming as far as they're concerned is my relative lack of healthcare copywriting experience.

In other news...

Dad asked me to order him a second magnifying glass as he lost the first one. I got it from Amazon and he came over to get it. We had lunch at the German restaurant nearby.

A recruiter called me about a contract job I'd applied for yesterday: a 6-month contract for an agency about 35 minutes away. My client would be a national bank. This job could pay much better than the one described above ($85-$90K) and it's a reasonable drive, but of course it's just for 6 months. He said there's a possibility it could go longer, but who really knows. I'm not crazy about working for agencies but I would do it for 6 months.

The seeds I planted are finally coming up: parsley (for the butterflies), assorted flowers like Mexican sunflower (for the butterflies) and snap peas for me.

One of the tiny cacti that I bought a few weeks back at the cacti and succulent show is sending forth what looks like a flower bud. So exciting!

I had my driveway paved last spring. I thought he laid the asphalt very thin, and several times I had him return because WEEDS were growing THRU the asphalt. Now it's happening again and I'm sure since it's been a year he will be less inclined to come up. I can spray weed killer, but I shouldn't have to!

Kiva doings

April 19th, 2017 at 06:22 pm

I was notified by Kiva that I've received some repayments on my loans and have enough to make another $25 loan.

As you may remember, I started with $100 and made 4 $25 loans, and then 1 more, for a total of 5 loans. The five loans were made to women in Armenia, Pakistan, Uganda, and Moldova. Of these, one loan is currently delinquent.

I am searching now for the 6th recipient, and there are so many people I would like to loan to.

You can use filters to narrow your search, and I have narrowed mine to include only women. It is very hard to be a single woman in a third world country. Of course I don't know for sure that these women are all single, but you can sometimes tell from the description of the loan request.

I also favor those who want money for basic necessities, like sanitary toilets, an education or to start a business, like farming or for any green enterprise. I've noticed there are a lot of women who want to buy a sewing machine.

I won't loan money to pay for a wedding or for someone's husband's business, or for pesticides/insecticides or for someone trying to raise cattle in a desert environment.

I am trying to loan to as many different countries as I can, so I decided to make the loan to a married woman living in the Gaza strip with her husband and daughter. She wants to buy solar panels to deal with chronic power outages.



It may be a while til I get another chance to make a Kiva loan, since the loan terms can be a year or more, but today I pledge that if I get a full-time perm job with benefits, making another $200 in Kiva loans will be something I do after I get my first paycheck. That way, I'll have 8 outstanding loans and they will be repaid at more frequent intervals.

Easter and now it's back to my normal routine

April 18th, 2017 at 05:38 pm

So my Easter was fairly nice but fairly uneventful. I did have fun shopping to create some Easter baskets, one for my friend's 2 young nieces, 1 for his sister, who was hosting the dinner, and 1 for the mother of the 2 nieces. I only spent about $24 on everything.

The 2 little girls are spoiled and quite chubby at such a young age, around 5 and 7. They were pulling stuff from the baskets out of my hands as soon as I walked in and had to be coached to say "thank you." They also walked right by me when I was leaving because they were more interested in their ice cream. Oh well.

Yesterday and today I settled into my normal routine: working all morning on my freelance work, breaking for lunch and then going out for a longish walk. My afternoons are free to run errands, although I didn't have any today but I did enjoy lounging in my sun room.

Called my cousin M. on Easter and caught up with her. She fell on her outdoor stairs when there was black ice in March and bruised her ribs, which laid her up for 3 weeks out of work! She lost another cat due to kidney failure.

I'm passing on the 2nd p/t job

April 17th, 2017 at 09:48 am

I had my scheduled 2nd phone interview regarding that part-time proposal writer job. This job has all the trapping of a full-time job without the pay or benefits.

There are various regularly scheduled weekly calls, training in Denver and mandatory attendance at the national sales conference each year and yes, that 10-2 pm daily availability even though I wouldn't be paid for that.

I think it would be very difficult to do this AND my current p/t job as the learning curve for this new position would be fairly intense. It amazes me they plan on paying just $15-20 an hour.

I was honest with her about my concerns regarding time and travel, so I doubt she'll call me back. She said she would know by week's end who she'd be calling back for a 3rd meeting with the other proposal writers.

Given that these p/t jobs are not my ultimate destination and I still need a perm job with health insurance, I don't want to get entangled in another commitment. Much easier to work on increasing my billable hours at my current job which has unlimited work and I'm getting fairly good at doing it. I had applied for it hoping the pay would be better than what I'm doing now and when I learned in the first interview that it would not be, I just decided to keep mum and see where it would lead. Now I know: a dead end.

Easter plans

April 14th, 2017 at 04:42 pm

Another major holiday is approaching. Not really being religious, I never really thought of Easter as a major holiday, but truth be told, it was one of 3 major holidays, not including Mother's Day and our respective birthdays, when we all got together.

Now that mom is gone and I still have no relationship with my sister, the approaching holiday has been causing some stress. I know if I did nothing on Sunday and stayed home alone I would be depressed and sad after 55 years of always having someplace to go.

I thought about past Easters when I would buy some flowers or sometimes bring even a homemade Easter basket for my mother and sister. I think about how some years, when Easter was warm and sunny, how both me and my sister, I think, shared a secret longing to not have to show up for Easter because we both just wanted to stay home and plant stuff in the yard and otherwise enjoy the weather outdoors instead of being holed up in my mother's condo where she never opened the windows (due to her allergies). Now i would give anything to have another Easter with mom.

So I asked my friend R. if he was going to his niece's home for Easter, knowing full well that he would be, and hoping he would invite me to come. That's what he did, and so I am feeling weepy and grateful to have a family to spend Easter with.

This past week when I was in various stores I would see the aisles with all the Easter bunny chocolates and lilies, and it all reminded me of Easters past, and it was terribly depressing to think I had no one to buy little Easter treats for.

Now I have my friend's niece's 2 daughters to buy for, plus his sister and niece. I feel so relieved. I am waiting to hear back whether there's a dish I can bring. It's almost like having my adopted 2nd family.

R. and I are like fire and ice. (I'm a Leo, He's Aires.) When I fell in love with him about 30 years ago, we fought a lot, and that hasn't changed all that much over the years. But we are both mature enough to get over our quarrels and enjoy the good things about our friendship.

He is one person who perfectly understands how I feel about my mother's loss, as he was very close to both his parents and still grieves for them. In fact I might say he taught me things about family I never really knew coming from a divorced family and a sibling I wasn't close to.

Another possibility

April 14th, 2017 at 09:24 am

I had a preliminary phone interview for a perm job with a large, well-known educational company who need a p/t proposal writer.

Hours could be variable but average 15 hours a week, so I would plan to keep my current job doing the school write-ups.

They'd like someone to be "available" for phone call meetings from 10 am to 2 pm. They would provide me a laptop. On-site training in northern NJ would be a few days. It would be a an hour and a quarter drive.

HR person cited pay of $15 to $20/hr. I would only take this job if it paid $20/hr since my current job pays about the same range, depending on how much time I take to write things. I tend to be thorough when doing my research, so that pushes my hourly rate down rather than up.

The main advantage of the new position is that as a perm position they would deduct taxes from my paycheck and time spent on this job would make me eligible for future unemployment benefits, should I need it. (Since the amount of benefits is based on amount of earned prior income, any unemployment benefits I earned due to this p/t job would be pretty small. I THOUGHT that contract work could not be counted toward Social Security earnings, but I checked and it appears that it IS counted, so that's really one less reason to take the 2nd job. Hmm.

The new job is more involved than what I'm doing now. Right now I research and write independently, as very little contact with my liaison at the company is required. I've been working there since last November so I know what they want and the overall parameters of each job doesn't vary that much.

What I like about my current job is that I have lots of flexibility in when I do the work, so I can juggle things around if I have something to do during the day. I can and often do write nights or weekends. I am still working on maximizing my income with them and have been tracking gross income depending on differing word counts. They do a direct deposit of my pay into my checking account within about 5 days, which is very convenient. No invoicing or time tracking required since pay is based on the assignment regardless of time spent.

The new job would require phone meetings and I'd need to interview internal subject matter experts to write the proposals. I'm not crazy about having to be at home from 10-2 every weekday becus that really reduces the flexibility I was just talking about above. I can do the phone interviews, but is it worth it to learn a new protocol, system, style, etc for just $20 an hour part-time?

It might just be easier to work for one employee at a time and focus on increasing my hours with the one I have now rather than trying to juggle two different jobs.

I'm not sure.

New Home Improvement Project!

April 13th, 2017 at 04:25 pm

As you may know, I just had central air installed here. It was a long time coming. I've suffered in the dog days of summer for 20 years!

Even though I am under-employed, I decided to proceed with one more major home improvement project for this year, partly because if I DO find a f/t job, it will suddenly make my time very limited and I don't feel comfortable having workmen in my home when I'm not here.

(A similar situation developed 8 years ago when i was having my screened porch converted to a sun room. The work had already started and then i lost my job, but i just proceeded according to plan and everything worked out fine.)

So my new home improvement is this. For years, I longed for a wall of built-in bookshelves in my dining room on either side of a double hung window.

I love built-ins in general and I grew up in a house in New Jersey where the bedrooms had built in dresser drawers! Very cool.

In my dining room, there's a bump-out at one end of the wall that covers heating ductwork, and it come out about 14" from the wall. I think the bookshelves will work well running along the rest of that wall and be flush with the 14" deep bump-out. I will also put a loveseat under the window with some kind of cabinet underneath for added storage. However, cabinets are sort of predictable.

After my mother passed, I gained a ton of art but also various knick-knacks which I am fond of but which I can't display now due to lack of space. And I'm overflowing with books.

So several months ago, I called Billy, the guy i use as a handyman and who lives here in town, and left a message. He never called back and I assumed he was too busy with his regular work to fit me in. I called him becus carpentry is his specialty and he is very affordable, charging just $200 for a full day of work.

I went to Angie's List and identified 3 companies that could probably do a good job, but I was worried about cost. As I read the reviews, I couldn't find a single job that was under $10,000 and I really wasn't prepared to spend that much on this.

So right before I planned to call these other outfits to come out for an estimate, I called Billy again, and this time he called me back and said he could do it.

He came over today and spent an hour and a half talking with me about the job; I showed him photos of what I had in mind, we discussed different details, prices, materials and he showed me his album which includes bookshelves very similar to what I want, plus I noticed instead of a cabinet below the window, he had done a pull-out drawer for another customer which looked very good and is a little different.

He thinks he can start last week of April. He estimates 4-5 days of work plus materials, so we're looking at about $1,000 for labor and maybe another $800 for materials. All told, I would consider this pretty affordable and I suspect this is FAR cheaper than what I'd pay elsewhere, even though I didn't get a chance to call another place for a quote.

He works a bit slowly but is fairly methodical and knows what he's doing. This will be the biggest project he's done for me yet. I'm excited!!

The shelves will look something like this:

Except that instead of going around a doorway, the shelving will be on either side of a window, with the bench/cabinet below.

Here's the wall as it looks now:

At the left end of wall is the bump out I mentioned that encloses ductwork going to the second floor. So the shelves would be flush with the edge of that bump out and be about 14" deep. The length of the shelves on either side of the window will not be the same, so it won't be perfectly symmetrical, which I'd prefer, but it will still look good. There will be 2 vertical lengths of shelves on the left and 3 on the right of the window, which is a bit wider space.

I have to clear out space in my garage so he can store the materials and also clear out my dining room. It's mainly a lot of art and 3 pieces of furniture to move: the dining room table, a lightweight credenza and my mother's sewing machine. I will need to find a new location for the sewing machine, possibly just keeping it in the dining room but moving it slightly right to the adjacent wall. Might be a bit crowded. Will have to see.

Oh boy. I LOVE built-in shelves and will have no trouble filling them up. I will paint the whole thing white since all the trim around here is already painted.

I'm excited. Smile

You may think it a bit premature for me to be moving forward with this when I'm not earning a regular income, but my main reason again is that I don't expect it to be super expensive and now is when I have time to hang around and be here when the work is being done. If I waited until I was fully employed again, I'd have to wait til I had some vacation time. Billy may not always be available as his new employer is keeping him pretty busy, so I'm glad he's willing to fit me into his busy schedule.

I turned in a $600 writing assignment this past Sunday and just got the next one tonight, so will have to put my bookshelf plans aside for now and focus on the job. I'll have it done by next weekend.

Social Security Calculator

April 13th, 2017 at 05:30 am

Here's an interesting calculator that analyzes the best time for you to start collecting Social Security:
http://www.bedrockcapital.com/ssanalyze/

Here are my results:

Recommended Solution
Based on the data above, the following plan of action is recommended:
PatientSaver will file for her own benefit to start on 8/1/2029, the month after she turns 70 and receive 125.33% of her full retirement age benefit.
The optimal filing solution results in a net-present-value of $748,337

In contrast, if the client filed at 62 the net-present-value of their benefit would be $583,267

Interview

April 12th, 2017 at 02:16 pm

I had an interview today with a small company specializing in IVF treatments in need of a copywriter.

I'm positioned fairly well to get the job even though I don't have a healthcare background because the recruiter is someone who knows me very well; we were both writers at a former job 8 years ago and worked side by side. The director of marketing at this new company is also someone who worked in the same former company with me, although I didn't really have a work relationship with him.

The job sounds interesting, the pay is decent, but the commute is longish, 50 minutes without traffic. The HR person told me during the interview they will be moving soon to larger quarters, and it could be to Greenwich, which would be even further away from my location and which was a hellish commute in winter when I once did it for 4 years.

I was looking for something no more than 40 minutes, but after 8 months of underemployment and expensive health insurance, I've been reluctantly broadening my search.

Recruiter agreed I could pitch the idea of working at home 1 or 2 days a week after working there 6 mths to a year. I remember so well how drained and fatigued I felt with that Greenwich commute, and how I didn't want to go anywhere on the weekends. So a partial work at home arrangement would really be essential in the long term, as far as I'm concerned.

I guess I'll take it step by step and see what happens, keeping my options open but having mixed feelings about it.

family reunion, take II

April 8th, 2017 at 03:32 pm

Today was our drive out to Philadelphia for our little family reunion. So this time I saw my newfound first cousins J., K. and R. again, who I met for the first time last December, and for the first time today I met my great-uncle P. and his 3 daughters, C., T., and S. He also has a son who wasn't there.

I had asked K. if she could pick up a birthday cake from a bakery since my dad's birthday was just 2 days ago and she brought one, so after we were done with our meal, the waitress came out with the cake and we all sang happy birthday to my dad, who was totally surprised. He's 84.

My great uncle is 89, in a wheelchair and living in a VA home but me seemed pretty mentally sharp to me. He and my dad had a lot of catching up to do. We were all sitting at one enormous round table and so while I kept hearing interesting snippets of conversation round the table, wanting to sit in on them all, I really couldn't talk to everyone the way I would have liked as it was a larger group than last time.

It was also a much shorter visit. We had a 2.5 hour lunch but then they had to bring uncle P. back to the VA home. So it was about 2.75 hours drive down there and then the same back. We hit one large traffic jam going down; going back seemed easier and otherwise non-eventful.

I regret having renewed my ancestry membership so quickly after it expired becus i haven't really used it since. I need to earn money to pay bills, etc., so not much free time for browsing online.

I have a little bit of freelance writing to do tomorrow and then I can turn in my current assignment. Other than that, I plan on enjoying the weather (in the 60s) and maybe washing my car.



A pointed conversation

April 4th, 2017 at 02:42 pm

I enjoyed my trip to the annual CT Cacti & Succulent Show over the weekend. I bought some goodies, probably about $35.


Most of them are little enough to fit on my double-hung window ledge.


Yes, they're on top of the toilet tank...the upstairs bath is the sunniest room in the house!


Things were getting a little crowded in there, so I had a brainstorm and hauled the "greenhouse shelves" in the garage I recently bought at Aldi's for $19.99, for my OUTDOOR plants and brought it up to the bathroom so I could have more vertical space for all the plants.

It fits, but it is a little bulky so I don't think this will stay here forever. Maybe until I'm able to put some of the houseplants outside for the summer season.

I spent several hours today, in fact, researching specific care requirements for the now dozen or so cacti and succulents I have and creating an easy-reference chart. You might assume they all like full sun and little water, and in fact you would be incorrect.

I've already discovered that some of my plants, like the aloe, jade, alocasia, drunkard's dream and peperoma, will do much better staying indoors. I nearly scorched the peperoma last summer; same thing with the aloe.

The ones that will go outside include the African Milk Tree, Lemon Bean Bush, Echeveria, Copper Spoon and Panda Plant in full sun, and the Mistletoe and Haworthia in shade.

Oh, and it appears both the pencil cactus and the similar-looking candelila may do okay in the sunroom, which gets excessively hot.

Anyway, I love these plants and would have expanded my collection a long time if it weren't for the cats. My step-father had a large cacti collection when I was growing up and I think somehow that stuck with me, no pun intended. Well, Waldo is not a concern becus he won't jump on anything but the bed, but Luther likes to chew on things so I have to be careful.

In other news...

Not long after I complained here about having to wait 5 days for my next assignment, I got a big one...6,000 words for 40 school write-ups, for $600. If I were able to do 4 of these a month, it would actually EXCEED my bare minimum monthly expenses. Of course that's before taxes, but now being in the lowest tax bracket I would still net around $2,000.

The pay is still low on a per-hour basis but we're not going to think about that. I work about a 35-hour week doing one assignment of this size, and since I work weekends too, I find I can work 5 hours a day, usually around 8 am to noon, and then I've met my quota for the day and can move on to personal chores or continue working on the assignment so I can lighten my load on another day or finish up early.

I never realized in past years when I had to freelance that finding just a single steady writing gig could be so helpful. In the past I relied on my past real estate contacts and mainly freelanced for two brokerages, but the work was often very random and unpredictable.

The website I'm writing for now hires about 30 freelance writers, so that certainly tells you they have plenty of ongoing work.

I need to do my estimated quarterly taxes this week and then transfer some taxable savings into my SEP IRA based on my gross for the first quarter. It won't be much, but not having a 401k, it's better than nothing. Um, hmm, I assume I can do this after having contributed to my Roth IRA for this year. I think I can.

My friend R. with the prostate cancer is finally going to see a naturopath-type doctor. He invited me to come along next week, and since I can, and it's fairly local, I think I will. I will be curious to see what they recommend for someone who is overweight and eats terribly.

This weekend is the one-day family reunion in Philly where I'll be meeting 8 cousins, 5 of them for the first time! This includes the youngest and last surviving brother of my grandmother, and his 4 kids. I don't know much about them and we haven't communicated much even while I've set this up. We're meeting at a restaurant near the VA nursing home where he resides. I believe his kids are around my age or maybe a bit younger. I hope they are nice.