|Job Title Brainstorm
||[Sep. 15th, 2013|04:52 pm]
The best hint I got from the resume workshop is that my last jobs are confusing. I had listed the consulting jobs with the colleges together, but that doesn't make sense until you see the next latest job, so I'm going to combine them all for all future resumes.
Another thing is that no one knew what a Degree Audit Specialist was. Some places I apply to will know that, but most won't. I've decided I need a more generic title. I specialized in one piece of software. I did data entry to keep it working accurately for everyone. Then I helped people use it for their own needs. I wrote documentation and did training. I had to access data from other systems to keep everything working smoothly.
I want the title to imply that I work with complex data, not that I'm a computer guru. But I can't figure out how to do that. After some brainstorming, I think I'm going with Software Support Specialist. It seems better than:
* Software Specialist - implies programming
* Software Administrator - could be like a Database Administrator only for some other kind of software, only it doesn't mean anything
* Software Engineer - implies programming or engineering
* Information Specialist - implies librarian
* Computer Information Specialist - implies managing computer systems
* Help Desk Support Technician/Tech Support - has sweatshop connotations that aren't appropriate
* Computer Support Specialist - implies high-level help desk work; close
* Technical Liaison - apparently means nothing
* Coding Specialist - apparently applies only to medical records
Quote of the Day - "We're getting older and older; our memories are getting more and more amusing." - me
Link of the Day - Kyle Pomerleau's What's Up with Insurance Premiums under Obamacare? - answers the question of whether insurance rates will go up or down for the new policies. "Due to the nature of current state insurance regulations and their interactions with Obamacare, some states will see higher average premiums and others will see average lower premiums. In other words, what happens to your insurance premiums depends on where you live and what insurance regulations existed in your state before Obamacare." The author describes the three most important regulations and how they would affect rates. The writing is wonderfully clear.
The author also links to a map showing before-and-after average rates for each state (well, there are "before" rates for all the states and "after" rates for the states that are ready). Of course my state isn't ready because the national government should not tell states what to do. For the states that are ready, it looks like Vermont is the wackiest.
|Take this job hunting and shove it
||[Sep. 11th, 2013|01:16 pm]
Obviously job hunting sucks but the last couple of days have been over the top.
I signed up for a class on tax preparation for one of the major firms as described in an earlier post. However, when I contacted the lady with the discount, she had to guide me through the steps over the phone and her code did not work for the location I wanted. No problem, just pick another location where it does work and then she would switch me. The code finally worked at the 4th or 5th location.
Later I applied to the temp pool at UT, so the worst that could happened changed to my getting some very short-term temp job on the first day of class so that I have to cancel AND I don't have a real job. Not my favorite worst-case.
But then last Friday, I got a note from the instructor of the class I had signed up for showing that I still hadn't been switched. The class was about to start at the other location, so I e-mailed that instructor warning her that I wasn't actually coming. I got ahold of my contact and she said that the computer was having problems, but I could just show up to the class I wanted and we'd do the paperwork then. Today I got notification that I have been canceled out of the other class and gotten a refund. I'm still going to show up to the class I want next Monday (supposedly it still has two openings), but I suspect things are not going to work out after all.
Obnoxious Job Application
I picked out a job to apply to yesterday, did all the work, and then noticed that right before you turn in the application you have to answer a bunch of questions, like how many years of experience you have with specific job duties as is seen on your resume. Since some of those job duties had not been emphasized or even implied on the job description, I had to go and make major updates to my resume and cover letter, after which I felt I would need a fresh brain to proofread.
This morning I proofread and made my updates, but then when I went to submit it, I got the message that the job was closed. Again--I fell for this again! There was a melt-down, with yelling and jumping up and down and saying things like "I hate everyone." Poor Robin, he was home for lunch at the time.
Then I calmed down and checked--today was only the seventh day the job had been open. I know all jobs have to be open at least a week. So I refreshed the original page, and it said that the job had been deleted. They changed their mind. (Still, if I had applied yesterday, it would have counted toward my job-hunting activities I need for unemployment compensation.)
They may re-offer the job with some changes; if so it should be relatively easy to update my letter and resume again and resubmit it.
Obnoxious Job Offerings
Yesterday was even worse. After reading several job openings full of extremely boring job duties and lots of them and trying to talk myself into thinking that I actually want to do some of those jobs, my brain finally imploded. It stopped working, and I got what I called a mini-migraine. This means just a moderate headache plus the neckline of my shirt felt too tight plus I started shivering even though it was 79 degrees in the house by then. So I took ibuprofen (which worked) and got under lots of covers.
And then I thought about how much time I spend every day that I shouldn't do anything fun until I apply for a job, but then I never get around to applying for a job, so I'm wasting my time off. If I just give up on job hunting, then I could start having more fun--not just daily fun, but long-term fun. I could start taking Spanish next semester, for example.
It would be hard giving up these last two months of unemployment benefits, but it's sooo tempting.
One More Degree Audit Job
Meanwhile, I thought about my contact in one of the colleges who I saw at a retirement party. He was one who had acted interested in hiring me, but he never got back to me, and when my other contact told me he was not allowed to hire me, I assumed that was true for both colleges. So at the party I asked how he had gotten help (because I knew that he had, indeed, gotten another catalog ready). He told me he hadn't gotten any help. I told him I was still available. He said he was going to have to submit a proposal which required estimating how long he would need me. He didn't really have time for this. I told him no one knows how long it will take, just make a guess. Even a wrong guess would still lead to getting more help than putting off the task indefinitely. And I made a quick estimate and said to just tell them six months, half-time. He said his college is cheap and they might give me only four months. I said four months is better than zero--I would start with the stuff he was dreading the most. He said he would ask.
And then he didn't get back to me. So I thought more about our dealings in the past and decided to call him and offer to meet with him to help him put together a proposal. And so we are now meeting this Friday morning.
I looked more closely at what I done for the other colleges and how long it had taken me. And I made a less random estimate of 4.8 - 7.2 months, depending on how different the three degree plans are. Ha! It matches my first guess! Then I looked up the degree plans he has. It looks like I might be able to use the 4.8-month estimate. (If I work at least 4.5 months, I get another year of service toward my pension so I'm really hoping for that.)
He has all day Friday free, so even if something comes up at our meeting time, I have a long book to read and can blow off all other plans the rest of the work day if necessary. Plus he's great one-on-one. This might actually work.
Right now I'm thinking that if I get this job and it's for at least 4.5 months, then I'll quit looking for work. Forever. Yes, I'll drain some of my Roth IRA. I don't care. That's what it's for: draining! And the market is up--now's a good time to sell. And it won't even be the whole 57K I contributed, more like 32K. And I have 110K, so that's still good. And my pension pays more than my current standard of living, so I won't even need any IRA money until inflation catches up and/or medical expenses expand.
Actually, I'll still keep checking UT jobs, but only apply to the ones that sound kind of fun, not the ones that just sound possible.
And if I don't get that job or it's too short, then I'll keep looking.
Meanwhile, I suppose I should go to that resume-evaluation thing that only happens once a month this Friday afternoon. (It counts as a job-hunting activity and may even help.) And I do have to keep applying to jobs to qualify for unemployment. Maybe they never check up on you like they claim they do, but it's still what they're paying me for.
Article of the Day - FEMA's Above the Flood: Elevating Your Floodprone House - describes three ways to elevate your house with eight examples from after Hurricane Andrew.
"...their owners had a choice of up to three techniques for elevating the lowest floor (as illustrated on the following pages):
1. Extend the walls of the house upward and raise the lowest floor (Figure 7).
2. Convert the existing lower area of the house to non-habitable space and build a new second story for living space (Figure 8).
3. Lift the entire house, with the floor slab attached, and build a new foundation to elevate the house (Figure 9)."
Has loads of pictures. I recommend it if you have any interest in architecture or construction or renovation of ordinary houses.
Sadly, all three ways look pretty expensive. Even if your roof has already been conveniently blown off.
||[Aug. 23rd, 2013|09:09 pm]
I don't feel like dealing with pictures. I do feel like sharing a quote (scroll to bottom). So I'll post something.
One thing that really bugs me about job hunting is that I feel I have to be able to imagine myself actually doing a job before I apply for it. And everything is unique. Could I really do event planning? How about deal with donations all day? How about be a receptionist? How about use state and university bookkeeping systems? How about working half-time for not enough money? How about commuting by car? How about working weird hours? It's tiring. I actually didn't get my application in to one place before the job closed because it took me too long to decide I could do the job.
And besides the specifics, I'm still figuring out the generalities of what to even try for.
1) Try not to draw down my IRA contributions before I become eligible for my pension.
2) Do not do anything to put my retirement plans at risk.
3) Extra money for additional contributions would be nice, too.
Plan A - Get more degree audit jobs. That was (usually) fun while it lasted, paid well, and got me another year of credit. Awesome. However, those jobs have dried up, at least for now. Well, a new fiscal year starts next month, and I'm going to a retirement party next week (where I can let people know I'm still available).
Plan B - Get other UT jobs. (I could also try for other jobs with the same or transferrable pension, but some sources say that would mean I couldn't retire from UT and get their good health insurance, so I'm not going to risk that.) But what kind of UT jobs?
a. High-paying full-time jobs I'd be good at. Yeah, I don't see many of those. I did get an idea I haven't yet tried for if I find one but I don't have the required qualifications. I will send a letter (and resume and references and promise I have the required qualifications--because they make you). But the letter would say that in case they have trouble finding the candidates they're hoping for, I'm writing to let them know that if they change or alter their required qualifications [in some way that includes me], then they could have me as an applicant.
b. Mediocre-paying full-time jobs I'd be good at. When you add in the extra years of service, it's still good money. Plus I'm actually finding some of these to apply to.
c. Mediocre- or low-paying half-time jobs I'd be good at. These would at least minimize the IRA draw-down. And it's possible I could get additional work to fill in, such as any degree audit jobs that might materialize in the future. And if not, I'd only have to work half time. I'm also actually finding some of these.
Plan C - Meanwhile, apply for unemployment. This has actually worked.
Plan D - After still getting zero interviews, I am planning to get help on resume writing, but I'm also looking into other things to check into while remaining hopeful about plan B.
a. Temp jobs - I could take short-term temp jobs and make a little money but still be available for permanent jobs. I need to write to the teacher certification place again (even though I'm supposedly still on their list) and find a temp company that specializes in administrative stuff. Worst-case scenario: someone likes me and wants to hire me full-time, and I like them, and because it's the private sector the pay is actually good. So I would just take the job and work a little longer and blow off Plan B. Sounds good.
b. Seasonal job as a tax preparer - I've about decided to take a class in tax preparation. A lady at the job club said she's allowed to let us take the class for $50 instead of the usual $150. It's no guarantee you'll get a job in January, but they pretty much hire anyone who wasn't a jerk in the class. Also I might learn something. Also, one of the class locations appears to be walkable from my house. It pays only $10/hour the first year, but you get only easy forms--or just watch other people do easy forms. And it's only for three months and you can't even get full-time work the whole three months, but it's still some cash and might be interesting. She said they do have extra services they sell, but it's not a hard sell. And I asked and she said they judge how good you are by how many returns you finish, by customer satisfaction surveys, and by how much additional training you take. [Not sales.] I then couldn't help asking if they checked for accuracy. Yes. Worst-case scenario: I get hired for a full-time job before I finish the course. Sounds good to me!
c. Seasonal job with the IRS - That pays way more that tax prep (I think), but last time I took the test, I could barely get through it because it was so boring.
d. Some low-paying job I wouldn't mind quitting. What would that be?
Plan E - After I give up on plan B, I should broaden the job search somehow. Ugh, I don't have a plan E yet. I do know when I would implement it, though, and that's in mid-April of next year, when it becomes too late to get a year of service for the 13-14 year. Last time I looked for a job, it only took eight months, though, and I was trying to change careers again, so this time should be easier.
Quote of the Day - "Screw it. I'm just going to have a zombie wedding. Nothing says class and dignity like a theme wedding, right?
"Let me clarify...a theme wedding can be tasteful. A zombie-themed wedding is open for debate. Though the narrative writes itself. You could ask all married people to show up as zombies...the bride and groom show up as non-zombies but through the magic of some sort of quick make-up, as soon as the service is over, the happy two-some become zombies. But since you don't want to make it seem like you're putting down marriage, you maybe put a spin on it to say that it's okay to be a zombie...that it's a valid lifestyle and no one should feel bad that if you're a zombie or a non-zombie. So you're making everyone feel good and maybe also supporting gay marriage. As a matter of fact, you're kind of a jerk if you look down your nose at a zombie-themed wedding."
|Job Hunting Stuff - What a Surprise!
||[Jul. 19th, 2013|10:24 pm]
Today I visited the weekly job club meeting because they had a guest speaker. One interesting thing she said was that hard skills get you hired, soft skills get you fired. (Of course she means lack of soft skills. I think it would be better to say they get you promoted, but that doesn't rhyme.)
Hard skills are the specific things people normally list on their resumes--skills with specific systems or issues. You should make sure to use terms that your intended audience would understand, of course. Soft skills are the more general ones like team skills, creativity, leadership, and enthusiasm. She recommends you use your soft skills as a lens to describe your hard skills so that both come through in your application and interview.
I'm not sure I'm going to get anything out of that. But I'm currently in a situation where I probably should. I'm applying for a job where my qualifications are obvious from my resume. So what do I put in my cover letter? Normally I'm trying to explain how my unrelated-seeming jobs are actually applicable. In this case, that feels patronizing (not to mention boring). So I should probably switch to some sort of strategy where I talk about how excited I would be to be using these exact same skills again in their very exciting new environment! Or something.
I walked to and from that job club meeting because it's only 1.5 miles away and it's a morning meeting. (And I can use exercise and should not be polluting the air and putting wear and tear on my car.) But I get quite sweaty in both directions (and chilled in the meeting, though I put on a jacket). I felt used up by later in the afternoon, so maybe I should cut it with walking there in the summer.
But maybe it was from the house being 83 degrees. I think perhaps I start to go a little comatose above 82 degrees. So instead of turning off the A/C when Robin leaves, maybe I should just turn it up to 82 degrees if I'm home. Then still turn it back down before he comes home.
I may switch to weekly updates when all I'm really doing is exercising, job hunting, reading, and hanging with Robin.
|Jobs, Jog, Junk Mail
||[Jul. 15th, 2013|09:55 pm]
Today's goal: apply for that job working with advisors in one of the colleges. Done.
Now I'm trying to decide whether to apply for a part-time job as a receptionist/mailroom person general helper in a department. It has all the benefits of a UT job except that, since it's only half time, the pay covers only about 2/3 of my expenses. (Unlike unemployment compensation, which covers all my expenses!) On the other hand, I would only have to work half-time. And if someone wanted me to help with degree audit stuff, I could be available for that. And it doesn't start until September 1. I do have enough savings to cover the difference if necessary, so I'm thinking I'll apply.
I started a jog but aborted it when I saw something that might be usable for a butcher block cutting board to put on top of a dishwasher. I've been looking for such a thing ever since I saw that someone got one from IKEA. But it has been out of stock at IKEA and now IKEA doesn't even pretend to stock that small size of countertop. And I haven't seen one anywhere else though, oddly, I had not yet checked Home Depot. I was going to check there next, then give up after so many months and get a too-big counter from IKEA for much bigger bucks and cut it down to size.
The hunk of wood I found was wet, dirty, stained, and burnt. (How to make it rain--schedule a large trash pick-up day.) Now it's just stained and burnt. And a little bit too shallow, but we can probably work with it: Sand it, oil it, add some depth, cut out the tiny cabinet and drawer between the sink and fridge, get a dishwasher, get a plumber to teach the pipes how to properly welcome the new dishwasher, have the pipes and dishwasher shake hands, and install the counter. It could happen.
Carrying that big hunk of wood back was definitely exercise, so that was good too.
Robin got a postcard from the dealership claiming to have good news about his truck. Apparently the good news is that he can get rid of it, because on the back of the card was a super-shiny cartoony photo of a new model of truck by the same company. Looks like a stretch limo pick-up truck. Hilarious. In case you're wondering, the existence of that truck is not actually good news to Robin.
Current Resident got a post card saying that the McDonald's which I previously reported as a pile of rubble is re-opening July 30. It is getting to be awfully pretty with red brick and white stone and no stupidly large windows. I looked it up online and there is no sign that there will be a playground in the new version--sad. Not that I ever played on the old one, but it did look pretty fun. The coupons are quite good--three of them require no purchase--except of course that they are for McDonald's food. But one is for a free McCafe beverage which includes the smoothies. The small ones have a reasonable amount of calories (220) and some of them have actual vitamins.
|Long, Hot Week
||[Jul. 13th, 2013|07:18 pm]
Now that another set of friends is moving away (job with Google! woo hoo!), I should get back in the habit of writing more.
I got to hang out with a friend during a weekday afternoon, lunching, catching up, hanging out, watching a movie, and being productive.
And I got to socialize some more at the short-notice same-day Google job offer celebratory dinner. (There will be a longer-notice event later, too!) Yes, I had already eaten dinner. And dessert. But there is always room for Tex Mex.
And of course lots of socializing with R. We're now all caught up on "Murdoch Mysteries." And we saw the new movie "Pacific Rim." I'm not going to say I had high hopes for that movie, but one of the reviews was something like, "Just watch it." It's nice to see a movie where most of the characters are smart (all of them, perhaps), and most are likeable. I enjoy hanging out with them. And of course the special effects are awesome. Plot-hole city, though.
And I got a huge list of errands done, which is always satisfying and relieving. I visited the intimidating Good Will outlet (Blue Hanger) for the first time. It was not as horrifying as I feared and it didn't seem super fun, but I did get four things:
* Scrabble game - $2.41 (and I have already added magnets to the back of all the letters to make another housewarming present)
* shirt - $0.60 (for fabric to fix up a pillowcase only the shirt looks so well-made and so close to my size that I might have to try it on and decide if I'd rather use it as a shirt)
* small spiral notebook - $0.60 (perfect condition)
* plaid cloth napkin - $0.15 (turns out we have too many napkins to fit into our napkin holder now, so it's time to stop buying these, no matter how cool)
Why yes, I did weigh these things after I got home to find out how much they cost because at that store they charge $1.39 per pound.
Getting rid of stuff
On the way there, I dropped off our old batteries and fluorescent bulbs at the Hazardous Waste facility. And before that I checked the Habitat Restore for a couple of things but left empty-handed.
On another day, I went to UT and dropped off the library books I had finished plus gave UPS a huge bag of packing materials to re-use or re-cycle. Then I went to a session on retiring from UT to figure out the answer to two questions.
Question 1: What if I don't know what date I'm retiring until there's less than six months remaining? Answer: just start your paperwork ASAP--starting six months ahead is just the ideal.
Question 2: If I want to retire from UT, will it wreck things if I work certain other places first? Answer: Only if I qualify for insurance benefits there. UT must be the "last state (Texas) employer in which you qualify for insurance benefits." Since I'd have to work for the state for ten years before I'd qualify, I'm safe.
Although maybe I would qualify if I worked for another place that uses TRS for the pension (such as ACC or AISD), so maybe those aren't safe.
Plus then I came home and read the retirement handbook and it says that one of the requirements is that "the individual's last state employment before retirement was with UT." And it referenced the Texas insurance code, which I looked up and that says one of the requirements is that "the individual's last state employment before retirement was with that system" (i.e., the UT System). So those pretty clearly imply that any job that I can use to add years of service to my pension that is not UT will mean I can't retire from UT (and get their good health insurance benefit).
Also, I was pretty unclear on when another year of service clocks over. It used to be after 4/12 months (i.e., January 15th). Then it was 90 workdays, including holidays and vacation but not weekend days (also mid January, but perhaps slightly different each year). But then at the presentation, they said you get credit for the whole month even if you only work the first day (so January 1?) but that you only need one semester (so, December 1?). I would have to call TRS to find out the real answer.
I found a job that sounded like it might be okay and might be working for one of my old colleagues, so I wrote to her. But she said no, I'd be working with someone else (who I also recognized). So I was a little less excited to be applying for this job which has a million job duties. I'm almost done applying for that job but still haven't finished it.
I tried reducing my resume to only one page, but because of the million job duties, which I want to make it clear that I could do, that didn't happen.
At the celebratory dinner, I was introduced to a guy works for IT at UT. I ended up sitting next to his wife, and she made it clear that a) he knows people all over campus, and b) it's still a mess everywhere. I said, "You mean the more-with-less thing?" Bingo.
So this week's data imply that the only jobs that will help me retire earlier and well are UT jobs, and all of those still suck even though the recession is supposedly over.
Also, it took me 1.5 hours to get home from the retirement session in the hot sun. I watched the bus I wanted go by (while I was still a block away), and I let two buses on another normally acceptable route go by because I had already overused my healing foot and didn't want to do the mile hike at the end (plus it was mid-afternoon and I was feeling wimpy). The commute to campus was also extremely frustrating. I came home utterly undesiring of another job there, even for only 1.5 years.
In other news, I went to the Workforce Solutions orientation session, which I heard was required for people on unemployment. It turns out that the orientation session is one-on-one and she really stuck her nose into my online job-hunting presence trying to make it so that their site would send me more matches. But she also told me about a job club for "professionals" like me, the Launch Pad Job Club. They have networking (bleh) but also guest speakers (hmm).
So, Launch Pad meets every Friday and you are supposed to show up early to your first meeting so you can get signed up. And they ask you to stand in front of everybody with a microphone and give your elevator speech (of what you do and what you're looking for). That went okay. The main thing I like, though, is that once a month you can bring five copies of your resume and get in a group with four other people and give each other advice on each other's resumes. I know you're supposed to have a million people look at your resume, but I hate resumes, so I don't want to make my friends look at mine. But strangers who are also getting help from me (though perhaps mostly about parallelism, spelling, and grammar) sounds good. They have a similar thing for practicing interviews which might be good.
And they recommend to get on LinkedIn plus one spider search engine like indeed.com or simplyhired.com plus one big job board, ideally in your field, such as highereducationjobs.com. I'll have to check those out.
I did get approved for unemployment and I got my first check. Although they asked for and I gave them data for two weeks, I only got paid for one week, so that was a little disappointing. Still, from now on, so long as I make make myself apply to jobs, I can get paid to do so.
Also, Obamacare requires that health insurance companies may spend no more than 20% of premiums on administrative costs and my insurance company spent 22.3% on such costs so they sent me rebate of $38.69. Windfall!
|Visiting with My Sister, Organizing the Closet, and Updates
||[Jun. 12th, 2013|04:00 pm]
My sister and her family drove down from the midwest for the graduation of one of my nieces. I got to hang with my sister on four occasions.
First, she and my four-year-old niece picked me up and we met up with another gal and her two younger kids to play at a splash park, then eat (Torchy's Tacos), then play at a playground. It was good to see them and catch up a little. But little kids are so tiring! Also, the slide was too slippery (I bounced off my feet at the bottom onto my knees and then my hip). Also, I'm out of the habit of being thorough with my sunscreen.
Second, I went to a slumber party with a bunch of folks from her family and another family they like to hang with. It was fun learning a bit about all of them. Plus we had make-your-own English muffin pizzas, which I'm not sure I've ever had before. Yum. Though the sauce got really hot. We also watched "Warm Bodies." I had already seen the preview that's basically just the first several minutes, so I was interested. And I did enjoy the movie. Enough even to watch it again with Robin (who was not invited to this all-girl event). Even though it's cheesy and probably has some plot problems. I am a sucker for internal monologues.
Third, Robin and I joined 15 other people at the County Line (barbecue). The folks who wanted (all-you-can-eat) family style segregated themselves to one end of the long table. That was nice for the rest of us with smaller appetites who got off cheaper. And that's never happened before when I've gone there (or the Salt Lick). Great idea. One of my nieces worked there and helped our waiter out quite a bit. Afterwards, we went out back to feed the turtles.
Fourth, I went with the same people as the splash park outing to Freebird's, one of the many Tex-Mex places my sister has been missing. I learned that they now have ground beef (tasty, but too greasy for me) and crispy tacos. It's good to know of a less disgusting place to satisfy any future taco cravings than Taco Bell. Then we went to my sister's favorite embroidery shop, where I decided that I would like to figure out a reason why I need beautifully hand-dyed silk ribbon. Maybe for the top of bookmarks? Then we went to Amy's Ice Cream, which she had also missed. We saw one we'd never been to between Freebird's and the embroidery place, with a playground, so we tried that one. My sister got the Mexican Vanilla mixed with strawberries, one of my favorite chocolate-free combinations. I got the dark chocolate. Alexandra got Mexican vanilla with sprinkles and allowed me to learn that I don't really like sprinkles anymore except to look at. Then we let the kids play on the playground. Another tiring day.
A couple friends of mine recently got laid off and have been being super productive at home. Me--not so much. But today I went through my whole side of the closet.
Sadly, I didn't get rid of much. But I did get rid of enough to be able to fit all the big things in out of the way just like I wanted to (thanks mostly to a vital piece of plastic on my roller blades having broken in an unfixable way, so tossing those left a lot of space). And I got rid of enough less important old papers to make room for more important old papers from the office.
I also put all my clothes on my favorite hangers. All my skirts are on matching wooden pants hangers. They are pretty but don't allow enough space for some of my thicker pants, so I'm using them for skirts. And now all my pants are on matching plastic pants hangers. And virtually all my other clothes are on the plastic-coated wire hangers I like (my favorite compromise between protecting clothing and having room for lots of hangers in a small space). Most of these clothes are even on hangers that are (sort of) the same color as the clothes, which is not just weirdly control-freakish, but also makes it easier to find specific shirts when some of them are not showing in the front.
Wisdom Tooth Update
Things are healing well and I am no longer afraid of eating any foods. Still doing a little extra maintenance. Oddly, some of my bottom teeth are moving around. In a way that I don't like. I've got an extra triangular hole between two teeth when I'd prefer my teeth to be parallel to each other. Once the surgery sites are fully healed, things may move back into better positions.
I went on a very short jog with my new shoes. That caused one of my feet to hurt from a lump on the outside edge of the shoe that I don't remember during the testing phase. Maybe I was running funny because I had sunburn on the tops of my feet? Unlikely, eh? It seems wrong to return shoes I've run in outside. Part of me wants to just dig out the offending lump.
Neither colleague who had previously expressed interest has said anything one way or another about whether they would like to hire me. Do I have to call them on the phone? Drop by their offices? Just a yes/no/don't-know-yet would be handy.
So I'm trying to decide my next job strategy. Currently (and my plan can change hourly), I may just take one of the low-paying full-time jobs that sound easy and kind of fun. Working full-time, I wouldn't need to get my own health insurance, which would save me $200/month. And if I got one of these jobs quickly enough, I could use most of my don't-have-to-work savings to max out my Roth IRA. So I really could live just fine on much less than I was making before. I really enjoyed working half time (and now--not at all), but working just over 1.5 more years and being able to keep maxing out my IRA sounds good, too.
Other possibilities if no degree audit jobs become available:
* get a half-time job at UT (no good ones open now)
* get a (part-time, no-benefits) tutoring job at Austin Independent School District at a school in my neighborhood; probably would count as service toward my pension
* get a job at Austin Community College (also would count probably count toward my pension)
* don't work anymore and just suck down my 9.67 months of savings and then my Roth IRA contributions (don't worry; I already know that no one but me thinks this is a good idea, not even early-retirement extremists)
|May: Fewer Teeth, Fewer Jobs, Fewer Aches
||[Jun. 3rd, 2013|11:00 am]
May was unusual for me.
I finally got my wisdom teeth out: just the ones that had come to the surface. My top teeth are still cowering in my upper jaw, which is just where I like them.
At the same time, I got my shark tooth removed (I had one tooth completely behind the row of all my other bottom teeth).
The surgery had to be rescheduled for two days later due to a family emergency. Then it had to be rescheduled again--I requested a date two weeks later, hoping the emergency would be resolved. But once again I got a call that it needed to be rescheduled.
As I said on Facebook: I have parties I want to be healed for. I have a job offer that keeps being put off. I have re-arranged my work days. I need this done while I have dental insurance. I have no solid food in the house. I have library books piled up that are going to be due. That I am not allowed to read yet because I am saving them.
Nevertheless, I tried one more time, thinking that if it worked, it would be a lot faster than starting over with a new guy. And the receptionist let on that the family emergency was a problem that required multiple appointments, and I had just been unlucky in the dates I had picked. Fortunately, the fourth time was the charm.
I had only local anesthesia, which apparently is somewhat rare and shocking these days. However, whether you go local, general, or something in between, it's not going to hurt during the surgery and it is going to hurt after surgery, so I went with the less invasive approach. After I told my oral surgeon my choice, he looked relieved and also told me that you tend to heal faster with local anesthesia. Sounded good to me.
He had already told me that my teeth did not look like they were wrapped around nerves or anything like that. Two came out easily. The right wisdom tooth took several tries but did not take terribly long to remove. I do not at all regret my decision.
There was a scary moment when my tongue was getting feeling back, but my lower jaw was still numb where I thought to myself, "this is the best I'm going to feel for a long time." As soon as I started feeling pain (a dull ache on the right side of my jaw), I took two ibuprofen, knowing that the sooner you take pain medication, the better it works and the less you need.
I knew it takes about 15 minutes for ibuprofen to take effect on me (for headaches anyway), so I decided that if the pain felt the same or worse after 15 minutes, I would take one of the scary pills (generic Vicodin laced with Tylenol). But 15 minutes later, it felt better.
So I was very lucky with my recovery, generally just taking two doses of ibuprofen a day (which I'm still doing, though I'm taking only one pill per dose now). My condolences for those of you who had it worse.
I had been working for two colleges for a while, and one of the jobs ended, so I spent the rest of the month working only half-time for the remaining college. I like that. I really like that.
But my other half-time job ended last Thursday. There were a lot of things I hoped to get done, but at the beginning of the month it looked like many of those things were going to have to remain undone. So I worked like crazy and some things ended up taking much less time than expected (since when does that happen?), so I ended up being able to finish every one of those things plus a few other good ideas I came up with along the way. It was an excellent month at work.
I have enough money to last me until my pension kicks in, but only if I withdraw virtually all of my contributions to my Roth IRA. (You're allowed to do this with no penalty at any time, though you're not allowed to withdraw the extra part if your investments have grown.)
However, pretty much everyone but me agrees that this is a bad idea, including the people at the forums of a website for people who want to retire extremely early (in their 20s or 30s). I'd be cutting things too close and I should get my pension ASAP (the more I work, the quicker I qualify).
So I'm going to try for more half-time work, hopefully for jobs with the same pension. I've contacted two other colleges who had expressed some interest, but they have not yet gotten back to me. After my sister's visit (she and her family are coming into town from Indiana this evening for a week and a half) I will start doing normal job hunting if I haven't gotten any bites from my old colleagues.
(The job offer I referred to on Facebook was informal; the staff were going to get back to me once they had a salary to offer. But the Provost got involved, briefly, then decided not to work with me after all, but not until telling me that the college that had been about to make me an offer did not have enough funds. I have kept that college up-to-date via e-mail, but have not yet heard back from them.)
I've been having an aching heel (plantar fasciitis) and aching shoulder (strained rotator cuff) for almost a year. I tried doing physical therapy on my own, and it helped, but did not totally fix the problems. So I went to a physical therapist earlier this year for a while. I was to continue doing the exercises she left me with until I was healed.
While recovering from my wisdom tooth removal, I completely quit doing these exercises.
Now my heel doesn't hurt at all, and my shoulder hurts less. Surly it is just a coincidence that they happened to get better just at the time I quit doing the exercises. Right? So I'm going to start up the shoulder ones again soon.
Meanwhile, I walked around campus for hours on Monday with no walking stick (bringing packing materials to recycle at the local UPS, checking out library books from there while I still could, turning in all my keys, and asking about COBRA dental insurance extension), and there were no negative repercussions. I also danced Saturday night at a birthdave party (thanks, Dave! and Shari the DJ!), thinking I was probably overdoing it, but again with no negative repercussions. The heel is healed!
Still, I'm planning to go to one of those running stores to get my next pair of jogging shoes. As you age, you get less flexible, etc., and many of those lies I've heard (lift with your legs, not your back; always warm up slowly before aerobic exercise; don't wear cheap-o shoes to jog in) probably eventually become true even for lucky people like me.
I've resisted the fancy shoes before because running has not hurt my feet (or legs or knees or hips), because those shoes are pricy, and because I've read that it is recommended people with flat feet like mine wear
concrete blocks shoes that offer support by not bending and not having any cushioning, which sounds uncomfortable to me. But now, in the interest of not being an idiot, I'm going to try out some good shoes.
[I'm sure you guessed at the beginning that "Fewer Aches" was a good thing, but did you guess that the other two were, too?]
||[Jan. 15th, 2013|07:22 pm]
Today I got my official offer for my new half-time job: $15/hour (no benefits) for four months. Since they had previously paid me me $25/hour (no benefits), this was a surprise and a disappointment. To put this in more context, my first half-time job of this kind paid $17.50/hour, which I thought was low, but I took it because it was more than I was going to get doing no work, and no work is what I was in the mood for at the time. (Though that job sounded fun enough.) Then I continued not feeling too bad about it because they were the catalyst for my other jobs. My other half-time job paid $20.19/hour (+ benefits).
So $15 feels like a low-ball offer. And because I don't really need work (though I want it), I decided that it's too low.
So this means I had to negotiate. Yuck, yuck, yuck! But everyone expects it, part of why women's salaries are lower than men's is that they are less likely to negotiate, yadda, yadda, yadda.
This also means I had to decide what's not too low. Hard! I originally had decided to start negotiations by asking for $25/hour (+ benefits) for these consulting jobs. But $15/hour (no benefits) is so much less. I know I don't want to take anything below $17.50 for this kind of work. But I'm not sure I even want to take just $17.50, either.
My first idea was to say that I am not interested at that rate. Imply it's laughably low. Make them come back with another number. But I don't like that. It seems rude. I actually don't want to laugh at them and I do want to help them out. And I would be sad if they never made a counter-offer. And very sad if they made another crappy counter-offer.
I prefer the rules of restaurant negotiation in groups--if you're going to veto someone else's suggestion, you have to make a counter-suggestion; you can't just say no, no, no. I can be assertive without being rude, right?
But I didn't want to come back with a reasonable increase (even $17.50 is 16.67% higher) and have them cut that increase in half with a counter-offer, because I wouldn't want to accept that either. I wanted an unreasonable increase.
Feeling in a quandary, I did some additional research. Here are some seemingly related facts:
* The median salary is $19.71/hour (+ benefits) at the office in question
* My prospective boss makes $29.33/hour (+ benefits)
* The office in question is richer than most of the university including the office where I originally learned the skills I am being hired for.
* My prospective boss did recently say that the magical "Dean's discretionary fund" where the money comes from for this sort of hire sometimes runs out of money. So maybe that really is all they can afford.
I calculated that if that's all the money they have available, then if they spend it all on 3 months of work, that would come out to $20/hour, a much more reasonable amount. So I countered with $20/hour and, if that's not affordable for them, $20/hour for 3 months.
Do you want to guess how the ensuing negotiations went? See the comments for the answer.
||[Jan. 10th, 2013|10:31 pm]
Turns out that while I was in that class, I was getting an e-mail offer for another half-time job for this spring. Which I have now accepted. So I won't have to be siphoning off any IRA money this year. Yea!
Shortest post ever. So let me find another picture from that cake show.
Cake of the Day
There was a section on sugar sculptures at the cake show. Here's one entry:
Because one hand-made capitol rotunda isn't enough.
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