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Viewing the 'Not shy or retiring' Category

Still Busy but Less Busy with a Nice Surprise

October 28th, 2013 at 07:58 pm

I'm finally thinking I'm over the worst of the semester. I have the rest of it planned out, and the best part is now that my evening class is over, I have some more time.

I went to New Orleans from Wednesday-Saturday to do a conference presentation. It went well, and the best part was New Orleans itself. I haven't been there in years, and I had such fun. The university will pay for about half my trip, but I heard great presentations, ate fabulous (and free!) food, and had at least a couple of hours for a wander around. A bunch of folks I was in grad school with were there, and some other former colleagues, so it was fun to go out with them. I didn't spend too much, tried to economize where I could, and got some work done at the airports, on the planes, and in odd snatches of time. So, I'm caught up enough and feel refreshed.

I came home to a registered letter from my adjunct employer which made me a bit anxious. But it turned out to be good news. Their IRS audit revealed they owed me a 403b contribution. Because I work there only sporadically, I don't have a retirement account with them, but apparently I worked enough in the previous year to open an account with an initial $800 deposit made by them. Isn't that peachy?

I hope to clear things up around here this week, completely catch up on work, and clean the house. Maybe I can even turn into Tinkerbell or lose that dread 20 lbs.?

Lots of Financial News for a Change

October 18th, 2013 at 09:53 am

Let's start with the biggest anxiety reliever. DH's contract runs into at least the end of 2013. They sort of casually told him this on Monday after we'd been fretting at the impending end-of-October date. And since they have more money in 2014, it'll likely be extended again. Pheww.

Yesterday a colleague and I had a meeting with our dean about salaries. Our department chair is nice but useless and, as he says" doesn't want to spend HIS capital" arguing for us. Thanks a bunch. Three additional colleagues and I all missed a $2000 salary increase because we "went up" for our tenure equivalency early. The salary bump came six months later, and we were not eligible for it. The university so rarely moves on any of these issues, no one even whimpered publicly. No one except for my colleague who was madder than hell. As it turns out, the dean see our point that it penalizes seniority rather than rewarding it and is pushing our case. Since it was all going so swimmingly, I asked if they could do something about me being on half salary while in London. She was genuinely shocked about that and promised investigation there as well.

So, nothing definite out of it yet, but I'm cautiously optimistic. Cross fingers, please.

Then I narrowly dodged a $65 immunization last night. The school wants 11-year-olds to have a booster tdap vaccine right now. I figured we'd save the doctor visit and went to Walgreen's, but they don't honor my insurance for "medical" vaccines, whatever that means. They were happy to do it for $65, and there were other parents there all grumbling about it. I called our doctor this morning and she'll have it in the office on Tuesday morning-no fee or co-pay. I'm thrilled.

No other big news. DD and I went to Noodles last night for dinner as I had a coupon for a free meal. I'm shocked at how many people and their kids eat dinner out all the time. We spent under $6 for both of us with my birthday coupon, but the couple behind us who confided that Thursday is their Noodles Night spent $54 for themselves and two kids. Eeek.

Sundaynightitis

October 6th, 2013 at 07:49 pm

We had a nice weekend, but I am working way too much. Except for a few breaks, I spent all of yesterday (until after midnight) grading papers. DH made dinner, but this is a month full of various commitments including teaching Sunday school, and delivering a conference paper. I seem to be always behind.

But still, it's ok. We had a lot of fun at the "Black Hole Bash" sponsored by our Astronomy department. DD brought a friend who actually stumped two well-known astronomers with her question. I met lots of interesting graduate students from all over the world and learned that we really have a fabulous astronomy department.

I will miss the paycheck when my Monday night adjunct teaching ends, but I am really looking forward to having some more time.

What a Long Day

September 10th, 2013 at 06:45 am

Except for two breaks yesterday, I taught from 8am until 10pm. Everything went very well, but I'm glad I only have five weeks left of my evening class. What a grind.

Especially when it's a long day like that, I tend to go on auto pilot, making sure students are engaged and getting the information, but not probably as open to their emotional reactions. Last night, my confused student who couldn't find Pride and Prejudice and seems addicted to her phone talked to me after class. She wanted to let me know she'd be late next week as she's having wisdom teeth pulled. Would you go to class after having teeth pulled? I tried to reassure her a bit, but oddly, for someone who usually appears very tough, she broke down in tears and started telling me how scared she was to have her teeth pulled. The emotional angst of first weeks just adds to the exhaustion.

Off to a London meeting this morning before my class. These are busy busy weeks.

A Low-Key Rainy Day

September 7th, 2013 at 08:20 pm

Now that school's in session, I think lots of my time will be spent course planning for my new class. While it's mostly seniors, their levels of preparation are widely varied, and I can see the class will need some fine tuning from my original plan.

So, while DD was at a birthday party I spent a few hours plotting the class work and homework for next week.

Spending was confined to a pretty darn frugal grocery store trip. We were very happy to see hours of rain today. We certainly needed it.

One note of hilarity from my evening "open enrollment college" job: Two weeks ago I assigned 50 pages of _Pride and Prejudice._ Tonight a student e-mailed me to tell me she couldn't find the book anywhere. Regular readers of my tales of woe may remember this student being chastised for her cell phone habits during class. I sent her a link to the 162 copies in our county library, assuring her at least one must be available.

Finally

July 9th, 2013 at 10:21 am

Our state income tax refund finally arrived yesterday. What a relief. We did file late because I was in London, but it's been months. It's almost $700 and I'd like to divide it up into Roths and DD's college fund. That, coupled with a few rebates, will at least get some things rolling.

My study abroad debriefing session is today. Not sure what that all entails, but I'm eager to get going on next year's recruiting. I also need to find a better text for my advanced professional course.

The weather looks a bit scary. Big storms forecast for this afternoon.

Buying, Selling, and Thinking

June 10th, 2013 at 09:19 am

Perhaps it's turning 50, but DH has England fever again. This always comes and goes, but his aging dad, boring job, and our renewed taste of London living last spring has stoked the fire.

I told him I'd think it through some more. We need to do a more complete financial inventory, and he needs to do some realistic stock taking of his job prospects. But of course, I have money anxiety about the whole thing. I swear, I should not read articles about retirement saving. The one in yesterday's NYT had little to do with our situation as it focused on people who were (in my opinion) too loaded up on bonds. But it always makes me nervous, so some clear-eyed examination of the state of things would help.

My ebay auctions were only somewhat successful. I sold some DVDs that I'll post this morning, but had to relist a couple of items. Several weeks ago when I volunteered to sub tutor for a friend it seemed like a peachy idea. Faced with three nights there this week, I'm not looking forward to it. But often no one shows up for the tutoring hours, so maybe I can get some work done on a prospective UK budget.

Some Good News

May 30th, 2013 at 09:57 am

All of my university dept colleagues got a very odd letter yesterday that no one could figure out. We've been strongly advocating for more money. If I told you what I was paid, you'd weep. Really. It's why even during the busy semester virtually everyone has extra jobs. Anyway, seven years ago the university agreed to pay people a very small amount ($300 annually) every year to support retention. No one has received any kind of a non-title raise in almost 10 years, so even that small amount was welcome. Well, two years later, they just stopped paying it. No explanation, no nothing.

Every time we asked about it, we were told the money was just no longer available. Yet there seemed, for a while, to be money available for new hires getting paid more than we were. They like to call this salary compression. I guess I have another name for it.

Our department chair told us there was no money, and morale has been very low. A good friend who just won a teaching award told the chancellor--at a planned photo op--that she was quitting because she couldn't afford to work here anymore. So, out of the blue yesterday we all received a letter saying that they'd start this again. And some of it--though how they figured it is very bizarre--will be paid retroactively--very very slowly. To make up for years of NOT paying it, they'll add another $50 each year. Now that may make up for it by the time I retire. But a whopping $233 extra landed in my June 1 paycheck. I know I should be happy about it, and I sort of am, but it again raises the issue of how lousy it is there. Sigh.

Ebay Successes and Class Woes

May 21st, 2013 at 12:11 pm

Just got the news that my summer class was cancelled for low enrollment. Classes across campus were cut, so I don't feel singled out; we just have summer enrollment problems. Students need to work.
Unfortunately, that was, by far, the biggest income source of the summer, so some cutbacks will have to happen.

But in happier news, I'm so glad I listed my ebay items. The total sales were just about $50, so I'll add that to my $15 from the HalfPrice Sales for this month.

Encouraged, as always, by CCF, I did some extra Swagbucks activities and donated the Swagbucks to the Red Cross.

Now to declutter and find more items to sell!

Hallelujah!

December 12th, 2012 at 06:40 pm

I suspect there was a large, loud chorus of hallelujahs today because fall semester classes are over. Usually I do a huge happy dance, and I'm indeed happy, just a tiny smidge of bittersweet. This is the first time in 15 years I won't start teaching again in January at my regular shift in my regular classroom. And my last two classes of the day today are my favorites of the term--I was sad to see them go. We really only had about 20 minutes of work and evaluations to do, but most of my last class hung around for over an hour. They like each other, and I sure like them. As I left, I turned out the lights and just looked at my regular classroom for a while. As much as I whinge sometimes, it's really the best job in the world.

But on to less bittersweet things. I had a lovely hour-long conversation with my 95-year-old aunt last night. I can't believe how sharp she is. Christmas and London both beckon--after the grading is done.

I have meetings all day tomorrow, so as much as I'd like to spend the day grading and get it done, it won't be done until the weekend.

Outrage and Frustration

September 26th, 2012 at 08:51 pm

That title about sums up yet another delightful day at the university. It appears we have another repeat of last year's payroll debacle. None of our instructors who are teaching overloads are getting paid for them until at least November. My colleagues who have rearranged their lives to slog through five classes have just found that their October paychecks are at least 20% short. And the health insurance deductions are also wrong for many of us. One of my colleagues has been double charged; mine is some odd $116 more than it should be.

Let's just saying tempers are running high. I'm eagerly awaiting the response to my e-mail to the department chair. Not happy. Not happy at all.

Car Mission Accomplished

July 24th, 2012 at 08:57 am

DH purchased his car last night. Please don't ask me to divulge the kind of car as it's more suitable for someone 40 years older. But despite some last-minute wrangling, we managed to escape for just over $4000. Since he only drives the car to the bus stop and on Saturday errands, I was hoping to pay less. But so many of the used cars we saw were either priced much higher and had mileage over 150K. The mechanic checked it out, and it's in very good shape. It'll need new rear struts sometime, but that can wait until fall.

I'm still trawling the house for more garage sale items, but paused to read this very depressing article (another one?) on retirement. It's here if anyone feels too cheery today: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/22/opinion/sunday/our-ridiculous-approach-to-retirement.html?_r=1

My Next Freelance Gig

May 11th, 2012 at 12:46 pm

My new freelance gig starts tonight--teaching three classes on citation, research writing, and documentation to graduating college seniors who probably should've learned this in middle school.

It's an hour drive, so my usual salary for these folks has been adjusted to compensate. I can't say I'm thrilled about discussing documentation and citation for a couple hours on Friday night, but hey, I can do it for a few weeks.

I'm giving myself the weekend to enjoy dinner out with DH and Mother's Day, then summer frugality sets in.

Rousing the Rabble

January 26th, 2012 at 08:37 pm

Yesterday's Outrage

I have two hours a week when I "have" to be online for instant access for my online students. It's a rare week when one of them actually contacts me during those times, so of course I blog, do Swagbucks, and read e-mail. Yesterday--crazy bored--I actually read our horrible HR newsletter. I even clicked on a link from a new HR subcommittee that had ideas to help folks through our state budget cuts--with millions and millions more hanging over our heads.

I was hoping for a small small tidbit of helpful advice on avoiding pension fund fees, maximizing benefits etc. This newsletter goes out to all our employees--most of whom have advanced degrees.

Here's a sample of their advice:

Try a frozen pizza for dinner

Bring leftovers home from your restaurant dinner to eat the next day for lunch.

Instead of that steak dinner, try pizza.

Get a second job. (No awareness that virtually all my colleagues have second and third jobs?)

I swear the whole darn thing was written by second graders. It was awful, horrible, snarky, stupid, and condescending. So, loving to rouse the rabble, I forwarded it to my colleagues' discussion list. Let's just say I set things off. In under three hours, 100 people e-mailed me--equally outraged.

It's not that it was bad advice, but their awareness of the struggles their audience faces was non-existent. The darn thing ended with a listing of FOOD PANTRIES! Thank you, my employer, that you acknowledge some of us are paid so badly we need a food pantry. I cannot even quite figure out my reaction--just that this enraged every single person that read it.

Again, let me say that many people may need to be told things like this--but man--as my boss said--it was a weapon of mass condescension. Someone suggested that our department fridge should have a sign on the front saying "I am bringing my lunch instead of ordering a steak dinner." When I got to work today--it did. And all the various leftovers made into lunches--many had post-its reading, "I'm eating this instead of a steak dinner."

So--I've caused one large uproar so far--and have another in the works.

Cash and Class

January 24th, 2012 at 07:48 pm

The university started up today--and I am tired. Three classes back to back--and I'm wiped. There's always a lot going on these first few days, so it's no surprise.

My only spending today was on my lovely regular cup of coffee. But I came home late to good news. The check for the text review I did in December has arrived, and my flex benefits check is en route.

DD and DH went to the school sock hop, but I stayed home, got some ironing done, and am planning on a bath, bed, and book very very soon.

I found some old texts in my office today so perhaps I can get them listed before I drive into dreamland.