Sunday, January 29, 2012

Ultra Caseload

Good gawd! So I finally did a final case count for my new caseload. I have 150 cases. I was told that I was going to start with 70 cases. The past two weeks have been 55-hour work weeks without any kind of overtime (the State is broke because the rich don't have to pay taxes anymore). I can honestly say that I have never been more fatigued.

At least we haven't had any major financial disasters in 2012 thus far (fingers crossed). The winter has been relatively warm so we're not getting a $1,200 heating bill. The two cars are functioning as required. The pets are healthy. Doug and I are healthy. There are no new problems with the house. We got the Baltimore Housing Authority off our backs by fixing the concrete runner on the side of the house and did a ghastly maneuver to rid the back yard of rats (filled a rat warren with concrete. Blech!)

So, my goals for 2012 is to become competent at my new job and get through this year without any awful disasters. Financially, we're reeling from the events of 2011. The roof blew off the house ($2,400 out of pocket). One dog died and another got gravely sick and needed surgery ($1,200 in vet bills), two dead computers ($1,300 total), two sets of flat tires ($550), two car repairs ($900), a tooth for Doug ($800), fines from the city due to the backyard rats ($240). As a result, our savings accounts are utterly depleted and two of our credit cards are maxed out. Now our credit card payments are twice as high as last year.

All that gloom aside, if we can get through 2012 disaster-free, things will be looking better in 2013. I will be out of new-hire status on 1/17/2013, which will confer a $240/month pay increase (after taxes). Likewise, Doug's car will be paid off in 2013 (which is $365/month). So, with an extra $605/month in income, we will be able to repay a big chunk of the debt incurred in 2011 relatively quickly. Doug is also planning on applying for a Librarian-III position since he has the right kind of degree and right experience. That would be about $200/month more if he can get it.

I finally got to be outside in sunlight yesterday. It was a good day for a three mile walk. The days are getting longer again (huzzah) and this winter has been warmer than last year. I'm also leading the Ecology Rite for Turning Circle in two weeks (another huzzah!)

I know that 2012 will be tough, but at least I have reason for optimism that 2013 will be a year that Doug and I won't have to live on a razor-thin margin.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Workiin' for the man!

I didn't get a chance to post last weekend. I graduated from the Police Academy and am now an official Parole/Probation Agent. Whoo-hoo! I got 134 cases on my very first day on the job. Egads. At Pretrial services I had 89. What can ya do?

On the bright side, once I am past the first year on the job, I get a 12% raise. It will be my first raise since George Bush crashed the economy.

Once I get that raise, I am totally looking forward to getting my gym membership back. I also want a new computer. We apparently live in an era where electronics are made exclusively in China and are engineered to self-destruct the week after the warranty expires. So my current laptop is actually about two years old. The screen is only half as bright as it once was. I have to hit the keys really hard to make them register and the touchpad barely works at all.

I also plan on cancelling AT&T in October when my contract ends. I have never encountered a company that tries so hard to punish its customers. I have an allegedly "unlimited" data plan. But now AT&T slowed the data rate down to a trickle in order to free up bandwith for the customers that pay $10/Gb (the company wants *those* customers to use as much data as possible so they can issue $500-$1,000 phone bills!) The company also reneges on the phone warranty. My Samsung Focus has had intermittent connectivity problems for the past four months. AT&T adamantly refuses to honor the warranty. The company insists that they don't have to honor the warrant because I am on an unlimited plan and I use a lot of data. What a crock. They also gave $486,000 to Rick Perry (a fine use of their customers' money!) I'm really glad that T-Mobile didn't get gobbled up by AT&T, since that is the company I will switch to in October.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

My 2012 Predictions

What New Year's Day is complete without some crackpot predictions from a witch that's not even good at divination? Hee hee. But what the heck? I'm pretty sure that my predictions won't be any more or less accurate than anyone else's. So here goes. I can look up this page next year to see how well I did.

  1. The world won't end on 12/21/2012. I think some unscrupulous religious "leaders" will make a lot of money peddling fear, but the idea that the world will end on the winter solstice this year is simply preposterous. 
  2. Barack Obama will win re-election. I don't say this because I think he's an awesome president. He's not. In fact, Obama is quite unsatisfactory in my opinion. However, the nutcase crazy Christian Teabags are so much worse that they somehow manage to make Obama look not so bad by comparison. 
  3. The economy will go nowhere in 2012. The major news outlets will continue to hawk the utterly phony "recovery" just like they have done since 2009. But the truth is that we're in the Second Great Depression and that's not going to change. The jobs are gone and they're never coming back. 23% unemployment is the new "norm" for America. The American Dream is dead and buried. 
  4. The Christian Right will grow even more absurd. The re-election of Obama will somehow convince the Christian Right to go even more fringe, more hateful, and more extreme. You can count on that.
  5. The Apple Cult will start to decline. The iPhone is over-priced and over-hyped, but the quality is terrible. Without the cult figure of Steve Jobs holding things together, I predict that the world will start noticing.
  6. There will be a Christian-based act of terrorism on American soil. Some Dominionist or White Supremacist group will inflict some massacre on gays, atheists, witches, Muslims, or some other demographic that such groups see as easy prey.
  7. Inflation will go through the roof. By this time next year, a loaf of bread will cost $6.50. A gallon of gasoline will cost $5.00. A box of cereal will cost $8.00. Wages, however, won't be going up at all.
  8. The Middle East wars will continue. If we're really unlucky, we'll be at war in Iran too.
  9. The European Union will reach the breaking point. The way I see it, there are only two choices for Europe: the governments can stand up for the banks, or the government can stand up for the people. If they don't get control over the banks, the EU is finished.
  10. European Science will eclipse American Science. The Large Hadron Collider will will be instrumental in allowing physicists to finally prove (or disprove) the existence of the Higgs Boson and faster-than-light neutrinos.