Tag Archives: work

Twelve Months and Holding

I went through some Evernote notes while I was on lunch today, and added some tags so I would be able to sort through them easier in the future.  I found one from January that I titled “Countdown to Burnout,” where I was tallying up the amount of time I had spent in each of my full-time financial aid jobs to date.

This most recent gig at UW Colleges is not the best paying or the most interesting job that I’ve had in this field.  But it is probably the best fit with my employment sensibility at this stage.  It has positives like extremely low (i.e., never in-person) student contact, easy-going management, and reasonable workload.  As I think back to how my other financial aid gigs ended, I can point to specific markers that made me feel I had to go:

  • Oshkosh, Round One: I had grown tired of living so far away from Michelle, and wanted to find a job that would make my personal life a little easier.
  • Milwaukee: I had completely burned out in a high-stress, low-reward position with minimal opportunity for change.
  • Oshkosh, Round Two: While I might have been ready to be a manager on a personal/professional development level, I was not ready to succomb to financial aid as a long-term career, and had some personality conflicts at work that were extremely stressful.

I was probably disillusioned after the holidays, and thinking about how I wasn’t making any tangible progress on my thesis at the time that I wrote this note.  As of today, having finished my master’s degree and feeling more like I get to be in control of how my life progresses than I have since 2002, my work situation is not as bad.  Do I love it here?  No.  Do I want to stay long-term?  Also no.  Do I realize that, in the grand scheme of things, I could do a lot worse, employment-wise?  Absolutely.  I guess I just don’t feel as trapped in financial aid as I did before.  I feel like I have qualifications that I could sell to other people, and do other things.  For now, though, it’s pretty comfortable.  It’s respectable work.  The flames aren’t creeping over the horizon just yet.

End of a Relaxing Week

For most of this week, I attended a training program for work down in Madison.  I was able to catch a ride with an old Milwaukee colleague who lives in Sun Prairie but now works @ UW Colleges.  I got to meet Michelle for lunch two days, as she had to be on campus for various things.

It was really awesome to be closer to home!  I learned a number of useful things for my job during the course of the week, but one thing I found out for sure is that I need to be searching in earnest for work closer to where I live.  I watched Lorch commute like a madman for so many years, I figured there must be a way to handle it for at least a little while.  Turns out I am nowhere near as strong as far as this goes.  I have been at this now for about 9 months, and I’ve had it.

I was talking with Michelle the other day about how part of me wishes I could go back to some point where I knew I was happy with work, and with the prospects that were ahead of me.  She made a really good point: that if you figure those things out again now, and start working toward what you want today, then the future you will thank your present self for beginning to make yourself happy.

Have a good weekend…

WoRST Job Ever

The 80's Rewind, Labor Day 1999

A student came into my office today and looked at one of the pictures I keep on my desk.

“Is that you in that picture?” he asks.

“Yeah, sure is.  From back in the day…”

“Wow, you look really different in this picture.”

“Yeah,” I chuckle, “Yeah, it was a while ago now.”

“Yeah, I mean, you look… a lot happier in this picture.”

I laugh again.  “Well,” I say, “That’s, uh… ha.  Well.  Yeah, there’s probably some truth to that observation.”

Make the Time, Damn the Details

The beginning of a new school year is always a bit overwhelming in my line of work– lots of administrative headaches and last-minute requests from students who could have prepared better.  But, that’s what we’re here for.  It doesn’t change the fact that the days can be draining, and when you compound that with my 2.5 hours of daily commuting, I’m sort of wiped out by the time I get home.

Another problem I’ve always struggled with is a desire to have an entire project mapped out immediately, and/or be able to deliver a “finished product” in a relatively short period of time.  I tend to dwell on all the things that will yield something polished and worthwhile right away, rather than making some small steps on the road of progress whenever they might come.  It is often a crippling problem that stymies action altogether, which only leads to further obsession about the lack of progress.

Lifehacker had a nice post today that might make you feel better if you’re at all like me in this regard.  Particularly when it seems like I’m awash in other concerns, I need to try harder to just do anything I can with all of my various side projects.  I need to let some of the details slide and get ANYTHING accomplished.

(Fast) Slow Week

Quite a bit of action on the work front this time of year, and not nearly as much at home.  I have been ruminating on a few topics I’m anxious to share with you soon, up to and including a return of the podcast for the 2009-10 season.

One thing I did at home this week was to install the DD-WRT firmware on my router.  It’s got a much more robust feature set than the stock firmware, and I haven’t dug into everything that it can do yet.  Best thing I’ve found so far, though: support for zoneedit.com.  To you, dear reader, that will mean less down time on those occasions when my IP changes and I’m not at home…

Other than that, take a look at the Milwaukee gallery for some shots I took at a baseball game with the Schrubbe boys a couple weeks ago.  We had really good seats!

A Little Shift In Diet

six days worth of snacking
six days worth of snacking

Ever since I’ve been working back in Oshkosh, I’ve noticed that I get really hungry several times a day.  It’s probably had something to do with my relatively poor diet– a lot of empty-calorie foods that are doing nothing for me but making me fat.  I had talked about it, but finally decided today I would go to the store and try to add some protien and fiber to my diet.  Not only should it help make me a little healthier, it should save time because I won’t be so goddamn hungry all day.

Bulk nuts and mixes are EXPENSIVE.  But the trail mix is nothing compared to unsalted bulk cashews.  I spent a little less than 12 dollars and got a little more than 2.5 lbs of food.  Maybe it’ll turn out OK, though– I was hungry on my way home, so I admit to digging in to each of the three varieties that I later mixed all together.  What remained I split up into 6 ziploc bags.  I figure one bag a day should keep me satisfied.

I really think it will; after I finished mixing up my nuts and raisins and whatnot, I looked in the fridge, shrugged and thought, “y’know, I’m not even hungry anymore.”

On the Road Again

I have meticulously logged every tank of gas and mile that I’ve driven on my car since I started working in Oshkosh again.  160 miles a day is a lot, and I wanted to be able to anticipate fuel consumption, cost, etc., at the beginning of the month when I get my hard-earned monies.

06/01/09 10.85900 369.20000 33.99945 2.69900 29.31 0.0794 BP, WI & OH
06/03/09 11.33700 369.50000 32.59240 2.74900 31.17 0.0843 BP, 20th & SP
06/05/09 9.50000 341.10000 35.90526 2.77900 26.40 0.0774 FLEET FARM
06/09/09 11.84700 381.30000 32.18536 2.78900 33.04 0.0867 RENEW
06/11/09 9.56000 348.80000 36.48536 2.77900 26.57 0.0762 BOB’S
06/15/09 11.59800 398.10000 34.32488 2.73900 31.77 0.0798 BP, 20th & SP
06/17/09 11.88500 420.30000 35.36390 2.79900 33.27 0.0791 MOBIL, CAP & DWNR
06/21/09 10.62200 348.10000 32.77161 2.71900 28.88 0.0830 RIVERSIDE BP, CAPTL
06/24/09 12.79500 433.40000 33.87261 2.67900 34.28 0.0791 RENEW
06/26/09 11.39600 371.00000 32.55528 2.64900 30.19 0.0814 RENEW
06/29/09 9.48100 303.60000 32.02194 2.60900 24.74 0.0815 RENEW
TOTALS 120.88000 4084.40000 33.78888 2.72666 329.60 0.0807

This is sort of what those charts look like.  I’m breaking it down by month, and then I’ll probably average those figures out quarterly, or over the course of the year, what have you.

I had a really light July with all the traveling we did and days off that I took.  Still, up to this point, I’ve put 10,197 miles on the vehicle since 6/1.  I was thinking it over this afternoon, and I’m not going to crack 100,000 miles on the car before January 1.  But it’ll be close.

I feel OK about the mileage as long as I’m taking care of the car (and I am).  I was actually imagining how interesting it would be to still be driving this car when it flips 200, 250, or 300.  I figure cars these days will last a while, especially if they’re not that old as you pile the miles on.  In my limited observation, the cars that have historically had trouble are the ones that actually used less, because maintenance slips your mind, or they sit around in the elements to rust out and fluids to dry up, that sort of thing.

If I end up doing this commuting for a long while, though, I will be glad to pick up one of these badboys when they come down in price.

Friday Near 2:00 And All Is Well

Sorry if you were thinking I might’ve had more to say about my new job this week– didn’t have complete access to my workstation for part of it, and was busy with reviewing procedures, etc., for the rest.

Overall, Oshkosh is just about the way I left it.  There’s a new building here, or a remodeled office there, but things seem to be largely where they were when I last lived and worked here.  I said to someone early in the week, “it’s almost like I dreamed the last two years, and when I woke up, Bobby was in the shower.

It’s too early to say much about what my new job entails, or “how it’s going,” so to speak, because I haven’t been able to dig in that much yet.  However, I can tell that it’s going to be a lot different than my job has been for the last five years or so.  There are a lot of things I’ll need to learn, more stuff than I can think of that I will need to re-learn, and who knows what else that I can’t predict.  I think it’s going to be exciting and interesting, though.

The commute is OK.  Even after just a few days, I’ve calmed down a bit about the time “wasted” in the car.  I have a bunch of podcasts to listen to, I can try to catch up with some folks on the phone, and as long as I don’t freak out too much about what time I’m getting home, there is still enough of each evening to be productive.

At this point, I can definitely say that the pace in Oshkosh is more my style than Milwaukee ever was– around here, there is enough staff to deal with everything on a day-to-day basis, people are pretty much up to speed on what everyone else is doing, and the students feel calmer as well.  I guess it mostly comes down to time: in Oshkosh, there’s enough of it to get things done, and also explain to one another what’s going on.  In Milwaukee, it always felt like I was just keeping my head above water, and there were a lot of guessing games about who was doing what and when and for what reason.

Anyway, I need to jet for my late errand-running lunch and then get primed up for a camp weekend in the Kettle Moraine.  Here’s hoping the weather holds out.