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Archived Entries from January 2010


Bad Blogger

It's been a weird week or two. I see the link to my blog in my taskbars, both at home and at work, and feel guilty like I'm neglecting an old friend. I'm just busy, I guess.

Part of "busy" includes things that I can't, or shouldn't talk about, which is stupid because it makes things sound like I'm trying to be purposely cryptic or something--like I was when I was excited about new job stuff that I couldn't take about before it happened. None of this is exciting. It's mundane. But it's legal-related (I know, not grammatically correct) so yes, I shouldn't be blabbering about it.

Work is good. I try not to stress about the future. There are people in far worse situations than myself. My biggest problem right now is trying to decide whether or not to pay the country club membership for the year because I'm not sure how secure the redhead's job is at the moment.

This whole situation sucks. I know there's a "recession" but our problem (not just us!) starts with a ridiculously useless State government. Every single one of them. Ugh.

I try to do my best to keep my head up and be positive and just do my job. So much of this is unfair, and not just to us. Anyway.

Theoretically my job and career are blossoming in a new direction. I'm going to angle to take over as technology chair for the other regionally-based groups that we deal and interact with. Who knows. I should have a new web site for our region ready to go before I head to the semi-annual meeting of the tech folks down in Raleigh. It will be cool. All CSS. Totally compliant. Like ridiculously compliant (heh, moreso than this blog where I just used antiquated italics tags instead of stylistic span tags...).

The redhead and I have changed some of our ways of doing things, which is cool.

This is sort of a useless post. I know I didn't really say anything.

But I'm still here...

Posted: Friday, January 29, 2010, 4:07 am
Mood: Content | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Haiti

So I may lose all sorts of cool points from everyone I know, but I somehow don't understand all the people trying to send money to Haiti.

Hear me out.

There are starving, suffering people in our very own country. Kids that don't have warm enough winter coats. Kids who don't get enough to eat. Children who are abused. Starving homeless people.

Lots of them.

Nobody seems to open their checkbook and give a crap about those people, but an earthquake hits Haiti and now everybody wants to hurry up and send twenty bucks to make themselves feel better.

Don't get me wrong. What happened in Haiti was a terrible, terrible disaster, causes as much by mother nature as by the shoddy infrastructure in that very poor country. I fully support our government spending tax dollars to send military ships, supplies, and aid to help out any way possible. (And hopefully to help them build a better infrastructure to prevent this sort of thing in the future.)

But I think our citizens (who are already paying taxes to let the military go offer their sort of support) have their priorities misplaced by sending money off to whatever charity they heard of on the Internet.

No, I'm not going to buy a t-shirt from some company that is donating money. No, I'm not sending the Red Cross money.

Again, while this is a terrible tragedy, if I had fifty bucks laying around that I didn't need to save for college for my kids or to pay the heating bill or whatever, I'd rather go buy a couple of winter coats for some kids in my own country whose parents cannot or will not take care of them properly. It's not that I don't care about the people of Haiti, it's just that I think we should take care of our own problems here at home first.

I would love nothing more to have oodles of money. And if I did, I promise you that I'd spend it on people here in the States before sending it off to the third world in the hopes that I'd sleep better at night. I don't know.

Posted: Thursday, January 14, 2010, 7:47 pm
Mood: Curious | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Hump Day!

This has already been somewhat of a bruiser of a week, probably more so for the redhead than for me. I had to get our on-line grant review system up and running on Monday, which was a treat, of course. A five- or six-year old programming disaster that I've been adding band-aids to ever since. And every year for the past three years I've vowed to take some time in the summer, after the review process is long over with, and redo the whole thing from scratch. Yet here it is, January, and I had to get the old duct-taped one back up and running.

We're still waiting for the other shoe to completely drop as far as the University is concerned. I'm 99% safe from layoffs or furloughs as I'm paid 100% from grant-based funding that doesn't come from the state. There's a good chance that the redhead will be furloughed for several days at the very least, and always an outside chance that she'll lose her job.

I'm being surprisingly optimistic, however. We don't know anything yet, and there's no need to worry until we have something to worry about. Who knows.

Class number five of grad school starts next Tuesday (assuming they don't take that away in some sort of cost-cutting measure). After this semester I only have two classes left, and then a semester of writing a thesis paper. Well, I guess it's technically a "research" paper--I'm pretty sure I don't have to do any sort of oral defense, and I think thesis maybe implies that sort of thing. I hope I'm just spending a semester writing a paper and then being done with it. Hopefully it's something I can whip up in a month or less at the beginning of the semester and get it out of the way. We'll see. I should probably worry about these next three classes first.

This semester is a 500-level class in distributed computing, which has always interested me. One thing that I greatly enjoy about this grad program is that all the classes are basically electives, and they have a relatively wide assortment, so I've been able to pick and choose stuff that sounded interesting to me. Pretty cool.

Okay, I need to run to the post office before we head off to work, so I should wrap this up. Very much looking forward to the weekend...

Posted: Wednesday, January 13, 2010, 1:40 pm
Mood: Very Good | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Back to Work

Busy day tomorrow. Lots of programming. I have to get a reviewer system for a grant program up and running by the end of the day. It's something that I have to do every year, but I have to sort of re-learn what it was I did last year. And the whole thing is sort of a hack.

So I've been grinding my teeth all day. I know it. I've tried to stop it. Trying to relax.

I took a couple Advil PM a few minutes ago, so hopefully they'll kick in and I'll be able to get some sleep tonight.

It's still freezing cold here and we have six or seven inches of snow covering everything. At least the roads in town are finally (mostly) clear.

We went to Aunt Molly's tonight for pizza and dessert to celebrate Papa's birthday which was earlier this week. Hard to believe he's 63--I don't consider him being that old. Although, I guess I'm 40 now. Yeesh. Where is the time going?

Alex and crew bowed out of their conference tournament in the first round. He's not upset about it. Hopefully when they get into the high school program things will work differently. Or something.

It was announced earlier this week that they are going to start furloughing employees at work because of the budget situation. I'm exempt because I'm on all "soft" money. The redhead might have to take some days off. As long as she keeps her job, if we can make it through the next couple of months we should be golden.

And I still am halfway of the mind that this is all a ruse just to get people to complain to their local legislators to get the big U the money it is owed. It's such a complex situation and very hard to explain to people that aren't part of it. Like why the state pays the U of I 700 million dollars per year, but only budgets 30 million or so for SIU, and SIU has about 2/3rds as many students as we do. Hard to explain to people that students are only a small part of the equation at the flagship U. Anyway.

I just hope that I can keep my tuition waiver long enough to finish grad school. Four more classes. Well, actually, only three more classes and then a semester of doing a thesis or project.

Gotta get the kids through college. Then we may be outta here. I'm pretty much fed up with everything that has anything to do with the state of Illinois. The corruption is unbelievable. Yet I have to take ethics "training" every year.

I think once the kids finish college I'll maybe try to get a job as a civilian computer contractor on a military base. The state of Illinois may be broke, and all sorts of companies may come and go, but the war effort will always be around, and the U.S. government will always have money (or always borrow it). Who knows. One day at a time, I guess.

Speaking of where we owe all our money to, I told Em that I think she and I will go to China when she graduates college. I hope to take classes to learn Mandarin once I finish grad school. And take piano lessons again. She wants to learn Mandarin AND Japanese. She's nothing if not driven. Maybe if she'd just clean her damn room.

Okay, I've typed long enough and I think the Advil PM is doing its thing. I should get to bed before I fall asleep in this chair.

Posted: Monday, January 11, 2010, 4:35 am
Mood: Exhausted | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Snow Day!

Well the redhead and I ventured to work yesterday for a few hours but cut and ran at about 3:00 p.m. and headed home to avoid the rest of the idiots on Route 130. The snow was already starting to blow and drift then, and I'm glad that we drove home while it was still light outside--I bet it was a mess once it got dark.

The school canceled classes today as well and we figured that we both got done what we needed to at the office yesterday so we opted not to tempt mother nature and Route 130 and we stayed home today as well.

I have a few around-the-house projects that I'm thinking of tackling today just to have something to do, but it's awfully cold. I need to run another ethernet port to the playroom so that we can move the computer desk from Alex's room down there and move the PC out from the soon-to-be ex-Nerdrium.

I have actually made peace with losing the Nerdrium and am looking forward to redoing that bedroom so that it is really nice. I'm planning on cutting a hole in the south wall and installing a built-in bookcase. It will be really, really cool.

I broke it to Alex last night that we may not get a new golf cart this year, which means we will probably not join the club this year either. Sort of depressing, but with the way things are with the University, it probably isn't prudent to blow three thousand dollars this year on a cart and a membership. One of the rumors going around is that the University is going to cut the Springfield campus loose, which would probably mean no more tuition waiver, which means $1,600 of tuition for me a semester, since I'm hardly going to quit grad school with four classes to go.

I doubt it comes to that, but still, better to keep that money in the bank. Well, maybe most of it anyway. I was pricing new flat-panel LCD televisions recently for down there and can get a 47" one for around $700. Yes, it won't be a faster snowmobile or bigger boat than the ones some of my friends have, but it should do. I'll save the two-foot longer boat model for when we purchase one for upstairs.

I don't know much else. Good day to take a nap with the dog.

Posted: Friday, January 08, 2010, 4:15 pm
Mood: Relaxed | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


For My Next Trick...

Back in the day, when the Norris family still lived in what is now our house, there was a goofy built-in kitchen eating nook thing. I'm pretty sure it was still here when my in-laws remodeled the kitchen ten to fifteen years ago. One of the side-effects of the odd original layout is that the light fixtures in the kitchen and dining room don't make much sense. That is, they aren't centered over anything.

The ceiling fan is the worst offender. It was over what was the table of the nook thing (I think). We never use it as it is way out of balance. I hope to remove it completely and put two can lights in the ceiling above the island.

The light in the dining room is less out of place, but still in sort of an odd spot. I don't know if the redhead wants a fixture, in which case I'll move the box where the light is now and center it over our table (essentially it will be centered in the room). If not I might just add a second fixture further back from the current one so that there are two lights in the dining area.

Not totally sure, but I do know for sure that the fan needs to go and I would like the two can lights in the ceiling over the island. That will be a good start. Maybe next Christmas break?

Posted: Saturday, January 02, 2010, 6:31 pm
Mood: Tired | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Happy New Year...

Well the redhead and I promised each other that we wouldn't have a New Year's Eve party this year. Too expensive, too much of a hassle, etc., etc., etc.

The kids were surprised by that, were certain that we weren't serious, and weren't thrilled by the prospects of it being true.

However, a few months back, my pal Marc brought over a bunch of salmon that he caught on a fishing trip on Lake Michigan and asked me to keep it in our deep freeze because he was in the process of buying one for all of his deer kills but didn't have one yet. So, this week I thought what if we invited them over and cooked up that fish? Not expensive at all. So the plan was hatched. A couple of days ago I called Peggy and asked what she thought and also contacted Tony and Jodi as well. Game on.

Except I got the fish out to thaw yesterday morning and it was all freezer burnt. Whoops. We should have wrapped the plastic bags in paper or put them in thicker plastic. So no fish.

After some hemming and hawing the kids voted for hot dogs and we settled on steaks for the adults. And everything worked out great. We watched Star Trek leading up to the midnight countdown (which we actually missed upstairs, I think). It was fun. And there was no "Hey, let's all go to the V" at 11:00 p.m.

I'm cautiously optimistic about 2010. The University is going to possibly make some very serious moves in the next week or so to address our huge budget shortfall. I'm on what's called "soft" money, which is money that comes from grants as opposed to state funds, so while that money can run out eventually, I'm theoretically completely safe for the time being. Even if our entire department were cut, my boss would just pick up her money and equipment and we'd find another department to take us in--we pay our own way.

But I do worry about the situation with the redhead. Civil service people have this awful "bumping" thing where if some secretary in some other office on campus has their position cut, they can look on the master list and "bump" anyone on the list that has less overall seniority than them. If 100 secretaries on campus in the top part of the list lose there jobs, that pretty much means then 100 least-senior secretaries on campus will be bumped out of a job.

She might be high enough on the overall list to be able to bump someone else if she gets bumped, but without that list, and without knowing what is actually going to happen on campus, I worry a little.

There's all sorts of rumors as to what is going to happen. I've heard one that the board of trustees is going to cut loose the entire Springfield campus. I've heard they are going to make huge cuts in the upper administration (though that's the hardest for me to believe...). I've heard they are going to cut a whole bunch of people from O&M (janitors, plumbers, maintenance people, etc.). I've heard that the campus-level information technology group (CITES) is going to lose a lot of people. I've also heard that they are considering lopping off entire departments or units, specifically the entire college of Fine and Applied Arts, because they spend a lot of money but don't have a lot of students and don't take in a lot of grant money.

Who knows. Supposedly there's a big meeting next week with all the "important" people to hash all this out. I bet there's still a 50/50 chance that we find out nothing.

Stupid Illinois politicians.

And to top it off, there's an $#%^&*@ legislator from Rockford who has introduced a bill to no longer allow employees to get half-price tuition for their kids. Seriously? So I've spent 8 years working there so that I could get my time in to get half-price tuition and now that we're almost there some jerk wants to take that away? Oh, but don't forget that every state politician still gets to give away their two full-ride scholarships every year to their friends and political buddies. Grrr.

Sorry, didn't mean to go on such a tirade. My job is safe, probably for at the very least another three or four years. Assuming they don't cut UIS loose I should finish up grad school in the next year and a half. And who knows what will happen then. Hopefully we can elect some people who don't have their heads up their you-know-whats.

If we make it through the next few months without the redhead having to scramble around to keep her job, I think we'll be all set for the foreseeable future. Knock on wood.

Posted: Friday, January 01, 2010, 4:10 pm
Mood: Recovering | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


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