Monday, December 22, 2014

Personal responsibility III: taking care of yourself

There are several levels to this: everything from eating right to exercising to exercising basic hygiene to going to doctors' appointments, and the like.

That's not what I'm talking about. 

What I'm talking about is making sure an individual can take care of themselves.  Odysseus covered some of it in his financial advice columns, but I want to expand on it a bit. 

First off, and this is the most basic part, the individual must make sure they have a job.  It would be better should that not be a minimum wage, part time, dead-end job (though there are actually fewer of those than most believe, given how hard Casey's tried to get Odysseus trained on everything, and to promote him), but any port in a storm.  A job equals income.  And even a part-time job that pays minimum wage is liveable, if you're careful.  And it grants the time to go seek out a different job that offers more hours and/or pays better.  Or, failing that, a second job.

Second, start a savings account.  A few dollars a week until a grand is saved up is enough to start.  That prevents an emergency brake repair from wiping out everything someone tries to do to better their lot. 

Third, should that aforementioned job happen to be a part time, minimum wage job, the next step is that the individual in question should stop indulging.  No more eating out--not even from the McDonald's dollar menu--no more coffees that they don't make themselves, no more money spent on frivolities.  Why?  Because the average American is an idiot, and carries a metric fuckton of debt, between what they took out for college, what they owe on their car, and what they owe on their credit card(s) and/or payday loans. 

And, once the individual stops indulging in whatever little habit tends to suck the money out of their bank accounts, they can start paying down those debts.*

Getting rid of those debts makes everything else easier.

Fourth, pay cash or do without.  On everything, basic medical care included, because a yearly doctor's visit isn't too expensive, if it's budgeted and saved for.  And no, having someone else pay for medical insurance isn't a basic, human right.   Neither is steak, or junk food, or cell phones of any type.  Or internet.  Or cable.

Fifth, a solid pantry, holding a few weeks' worth of food (enough to get through a short-term emergency or unemployment) should be assembled.  I recommend a membership at a warehouse store--it makes acquiring things in bulk a lot simpler...and a lot cheaper.  I think we save somewhere around a thousand dollars a year on the groceries we get at Sam's Club.  When the kids were in diapers, it was more than that. 

I think the biggest thing, the thing that makes the most difference in being self-sufficient is the capability to plan ahead and to defer gratification.  And both are involved in each step of taking care of yourself.

*I recommend Dave Ramsey's plan for that.  And no, I'm not being paid to say that.  I was incredibly disappointed when our local talk radio replaced him with Sean Hannity, who annoys the piss out of me.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

random ramblings

Yesterday was the kids' classes' Christmas parties.  My initial impulse was to keep them home. 

I should have listened to that impulse.  The imp got given red Kool-Aid.  And he slowly and inevitably turned into a nasty little beast as the day went on. 

The start of Christmas Break for the kids marks the end of the second quarter.  The pixie doesn't get a grade card, as such...I think.  The imp didn't really get one, but I can see his grades online.  His grades have improved greatly (in everything except math, which he seems to have started kind of blowing off because it's easy for him), since he's passing without having to have the grades massaged.  At this rate of improvement, he may well be ready for first grade by the end of the year. 

And the pixie has two full weeks to recover from her back-to-back respiratory illnesses, caused by hanging around with thirteen other snuggly little germ incubators with no concept of personal boundaries.

She hasn't grown since September.  Not even a little.  She's had to use her reserves to try to fight off her constant illnesses instead of grow.

Shadow has been a right pain, recently.  The random number generator inside the fuzz-covered little kitty skull has come up "sleep on sleeping person" lately, and when I put the pixie down for a nap, I have to shut the cat up in the back room (unless Odysseus is napping--in which case, I toss her in onto his ankles).  If she's not doing that, she's chewing on plastic: the corners of wipes bags, Ziploc bags, trash bags hanging over the edge of the trash cans, Walmart name it, she's chewing on it. 

Cricket has been more skittish than usual.  I do not know what Shadow's been doing when the two are shut in the back room, but it's had an effect on Cricket's mental health.

We saw our Scotty dog at my mother's, yesterday.  Didn't pet her much--she literally smells like a catfish.  And, according to Mom this morning, the dog either ate something she shouldn't have while playing outside yesterday, or just got really upset, because she threw up in her crate last night. 

Semester has been over for Odysseus and me for about a week, now.  My student who'd gotten an incomplete last Spring finished out her work, and I got her grade change request turned in when I got my grades done. 

And Odysseus...Odysseus pulled a 4.0 semester.  Busted his ass to do it, since three of his four classes were upper division accounting classes (including auditing and tax accounting 1), but he did it.

I think I may have a good idea of why writing's stalled.  First, I don't have the right music.  And second...I tried to take the story in the wrong direction.  I seem to do that a lot...

In any case, I think I can get back on the ball, now.  Once the headache I woke up with goes the fuck away.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


When I said that the pixie was sick on Sunday, I meant really, really sick.  Bad enough to have me a little scared.  She was breathing hard and fast, her heart was beating hard and fast, she had a deep, barking cough, and was running a fever.  I was going to call the doctor on Monday...and then, after a good night's sleep, she was much improved.  Still coughing, but no fever, and no difficulty breathing. 

I was the one having difficulty, yesterday--difficulty keeping her still and quiet to continue her recovery.  I'm having the same trouble today. 

And today, she's throwing mini-tantrums when I refuse to let her up to run around and play. 

She's going back to school tomorrow.

Woah, buddy, time to lawyer up.

Yep.  Time to lawyer up and sue the ever-livin' fuck out of the city of Philadelphia, and the state of Pennsylvania for permitting this to happen in the first place.

Seriously.  The city tax office admitted to making up the $280K back taxes bill out of whole cloth, and because the guy, who lives on a fixed income, didn't purchase the transcript that some petty bureaucrat ordered him to, a fucknugget sitting on the bench and claiming to be a judge ruled that the guy had to pay the bill that everybody involved admitted he didn't owe.  

I'm pretty sure that suing the city for a few tens of millions of dollars, with the lawyer paid half of the proceeds, would get him a damn good one willing to work without retainer.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sick pixie. Again.

I'm really beginning to hate handing my children over for solid chunks of days.  My imp may be doing much better, for the most part, but the pixie has barely gotten over one virus before she's come down with the next one. 

I'm not sure she'll be up for school tomorrow.  She's decidedly uncomfortable, and has been running a fever, on and off.  I think the best, and only, thing I can do is try my best to get her to be still and rest to recover.  The Nutcracker is doing a lot of my work for me...but I've already watched it twice today, and have promised her I'd start it again when she wakes back up from her nap.

It's ironic, though...the doctors in the NICU told me that the imp would probably have a weak immune system, and that he'd have trouble with it through elementary school.  He's had one cold (albeit a nasty one), and one bout with stomach flu.  He's had to stay home once.  It's ironic that the one born eight weeks early has the stronger immune system than the one who was born only a little early. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Oh, fer fuck's sake!

There is a sign, just outside the women's restroom, pointing toward one of the conference rooms, announcing a committee meeting for the committee on committees. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Well, apparently, the university can't afford raises or Christmas bonuses: they're changing job titles.  Secretaries are no longer secretaries.  They're now Administrative Assistants.

That just rolls off the tongue: English and Philosophy Department Administrative Assistant. 

I will agree that these secretaries are now doing more than what used to be considered a secretary's job; however, I think the university should have cut the pay of some of the various VPs and shifted that money into giving the raises to the people who actually do the fucking work: their "Administrative Assistants." 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Random ramblings

So, the imp is really starting to get the hang of school.  I'm pleased. 

What has me even more pleased is hearing him quietly sounding out words and reading to himself in his bedroom with his door slightly ajar. 

He's mostly well-behaved at school--he's learned that if he's badly behaved at school, he gets punished at home, and the level of punishment has increased from simply no TV  on a warning day to no TV and a toy confiscated, only to be returned on a blue day.  And if he lies about it, he gets sat in the kitchen to stare at the corner until supper, then until bed.  Which is what happened last week (Tuesday). 

The pixie is starting to get over the nasty part of the cold she came home with just before Thanksgiving...which means that she may be coming home with some all new crud sometime in the next two weeks, if patterns hold true.  I'm actually hoping that they don't, and that she won't be sick over Christmas Break (which starts the 19th and ends January 5th for the kids). 

Classes are done for the university.  All we have next week are finals: I'll need to be in on Wednesday from 11-1:00, for the first one, and 12-2:00 for the second on Friday.  Odysseus has one on Monday, one on Tuesday, one on Wednesday (rescheduled for Wednesday night with the online sections of the class), and one on Friday.  Sounds fun, huh?

The kids have one week more than Odysseus and I do...which sets us up for Christmas shopping for the kids.

The cats have been extra-snuggly this weekend.  I have no clue what's gotten into them, but if they're not crowding on me, they're sleeping on or near one of the kids. 

And last but not least, I've got the plot for the project I'm working on all worked out.  I've just got to flesh it out, now.