Archive for ‘Awards and Honorable Mentions’

June 20, 2018

Thanks, but no thanks

by Janie Jones

So they had an employee appreciation day at Stickittoyou U recently.  All employees were given $25 gift cards to a big box department store.  Very nice.  Thanks!

Then week or so later I got my paycheck.  It was smaller.  Not a bank breaking amount, about the amount it would cost to buy lunch at the average sit down restaurant, but enough less that I was a little concerned about where that money went.

So I pulled up my check stub, and what, What, WHAT?  They taxed the gift card.  Because they added it to my “net salary” by the time taxes were applied I actually lost money.  They taxed, as income, a gift card.  Which was not like a prepaid Visa or something.  I can’t use the gift card to pay bills, but yet it is considered income I have to pay taxes on, and then when I use it the store will charge me taxes on what I buy.

Thanks, but if given the option, I’d have passed on a gift that would ultimately cost me more money than it was worth.

Employee appreciation my ass.  I suppose it was well meaning, but it’s kind of hard to feel grateful when I make less than industry standard, less than I made before I spent 50K on an education, and the “appreciation” gift requires me to give up money out of my already puny paycheck.

And, when I went to complain to the HR person, I found out that the new Dean, who made the decision to bestow these “gifts” was warned that they would cause the recipients to be taxed, but in her wisdom still seemed to think people would prefer to be awarded a gift that caused a deduction in pay.

Thanks new Dean.  I hope you made lots of devoted fans out of your employees.  I know I am just pleased as punch.  I will think of you oh so fondly and be oh so grateful for my job when I can’t afford to buy lunch this week.

January 4, 2016

I am still here…

by Janie Jones

Fall semester held me in it’s miserable thrall up to the last possible moment.  I didn’t do as well as I’d hoped, but all things considered I did pretty well.  As I look at my grades I had to laugh.  Apparently I wasn’t allowed to get the same grade in more than one class:

Genetics Lab: A

Virology: A-

Genetics Lecture: B+

Biochemistry Lecture: B

Biochemistry Lab: B-


If it wasn’t for that cursed Biochemistry Lab being twice the work of all my other classes combined it would have been a very different semester, I tell you.

But, it is over and now I have 72 more class days left in the spring semester to endure before graduation.

The holidays were fun, but busy.  The spud visited which was nice, but exhausting.  And, right after taking her back to the airport it was a mad dash to finish off the essays for my Graduate School application.

Oh, that was fun.  Man o man, have I stories I could tell, only I’m so ripped to shreds by the last 4 months that I have lost the will to bitch.

In any event, it has been submitted and application fees are paid so it is out of my hands now.  The decision on whether I am accepted will probably come sometime by the end of March. Depending on the outcome I may graduate in May and be done with the collegiate chapter of my life, or I may decide I haven’t been totally and utterly annihilated by the educational system yet and pick up another 4-6 years.

And in the Lyme Research Lab we have been out of media (read bacteria food) for over 2 months.  Apparently there is only one place in the United States that makes the precise formula these bacteria live on, and they are, I guess, back ordered for some unfathomable reason.

I managed to scrounge up a couple dozen mLs from another researcher who didn’t need it and have had my little buggers on short rations this whole time.  But I have about two more feedings left (about 2 weeks) and then they starve to death.

You might not think this is such a bad thing.  But in a research lab, if you have no subject to research, well, you don’t get much done.  And, in general you don’t get paid to do nothing.  I volunteer, so what does that say about me.  Should I be worried?  Well, I kinda wanted to do my graduate studies with this lab.

Well here’s hoping 2016 is a better year.

November 1, 2015

I freakin’ killed it!

by Janie Jones

I’ve been feeling pretty shredded lately.  The whole school thing, as you all are aware, is really wearing on me.  Thursday though, was the designated day to take the graduate school entrance exam, the GRE.

I have not really been dreading the exam, but I have been so beaten down from the rigors of studying that I had started to contemplate if I was really cut out for graduate school, or if I should just declare myself unfit and give up.  It has been so overwhelming that, though I don’t doubt I’m smart enough, I doubt whether or not I have the physical ability to perform under these stressful conditions.

I paid a not inconsiderable amount of money to take this exam, and I had no time or energy to prepare.  I went in Thursday morning mostly worried I was wasting money I didn’t have because I’d be so strung out I’d bomb the test.  When I wasn’t worried about failing and wasting money, I was mostly numb and moving like I was some automaton.

Apparently cheating on these exams is a huge problem.  So security getting in to sit the exam was tighter than that for getting on an airplane or entering a government building.  You had to hand write an affidavit swearing you would follow a bunch of rules, you had to lock all your possessions in a locker the test facility provided.  You could not bring anything in except your clothes, which had to have all the pockets turned out, sleeves and pant legs were inspected and no watch or any other type of electronic device was permitted.  Then you were scanned with a metal detector and photographed.  Once you were “cleared” you could not leave the building without forfeiting your exam.  If you had to use the toilet, you had to go through the whole process again.

But, despite the drama of checking in, the first bits of the test, writing analysis and verbal reasoning, were almost fun.  It was like a logic puzzle, which I like.  The maths were hard, which scared me, and honestly I had to just guess on a whole lot of the questions.  And, near the end of the test (3 hours) I began to get tired and that began to erode my enjoyment and confidence in the process.

When the test was over I got a preliminary score on the verbal reasoning and math sections.  But there was no explanation of what the numbers meant, so I walked off feeling unsure and worried.  In about two weeks I should have the grade back from my writing analysis so I hoped that when they would forward my score for that there would be some formal announcement of my final score and what it means.

Of course couldn’t stop thinking about it.  And, while I sat here eating my breakfast and contemplating the mountain of homework before me, I thought perhaps I might dig about a bit on the ol’ web and see if there’s some explanation somewhere on the GRE website about how the tests are scored to give me some insight on my preliminary results.

So, if memory serves, I got a 167 on the verbal reasoning and a 142 on the math portion.  According to the GRE websites these numbers are based on a maximum possible value of 170 points.

Which means I scored a 98% on the verbal skills and 83% on the math!!!

Apparently when the final report is sent to me I will be ranked with the mass of other people taking the exam over the last couple years and told what percentile I fall into.  So, I still don’t entirely know how smart, or dumb, I might be in comparison with the rest of the graduate school bound masses, but I will be doing a happy dance just to know that despite all the self-doubt and worry I have at least answered 98% of the verbal reasoning questions correctly.  And, considering my math disabilities, 83% on that portion makes me very happy too.

I just might feel like I can finish this semester on a high note.

July 27, 2015

Happy Anniversary to me!

by Janie Jones

anniversary 5 yrsIt’s the 5th Anniversary of Janie’s Place today!  Hurray!

Wow.  A lot happens in five years.

I went and looked back to the beginning.  To a time when I had struggles and frustrations, but was generally happy.  I had a beautiful affordable home to live in, a solid relationship, free time, and while not filthy rich by any means, I had some money.

I look how I’m now living, and I can’t help but develop a new worry:  What if when I finally finish school I still can’t get a good paying job?

March 30, 2015

Miscellaneous Monday Morning Musings

by Janie Jones

There is only 6 more weeks in this semester.  Halla-good-dog-u-lah.

I’ve been tired before.  I’ve been frustrated before.  I’ve been excited to finish a semester before.  But I tell you all right now, I am having the hardest time ever staying motivated this spring.  I think I’ve finally hit that wall I’ve been seeing approach.  I don’t want to fail, but damn it’s hard to make myself focus.

Sitting at the show Saturday (when I wasn’t forced to engage in inane conversation with Young lady, that is) I kept thinking how I missed those weekends when my time was my own, back in the days of having a real life, when you were tired of the work week and Friday at 5pm meant you were free and could sleep all weekend or read for leisure or go for a walk.  Friday at 5pm now means, if I don’t have to work at my tour guide gig, I have to still get up early to catch up on all the studying I didn’t have time for during the school week.


Anyway, there are moments when I really feel like throwing up my arms and walking away from it all.  If I want to go to graduate school, I have to find time to actually apply and sit for entrance exams in the next few months.  Or, I could just stop with my Bachelor’s and hope for the best.  I’d have leisure time again.  Probably no money to enjoy it, but OMG it is soooooo tempting.

And then I get a little carrot.  See it?  It’s right there, dangling just beyond my reach.

Dr. Smythe, the professor who took me on to count Borrelia, replied to my email about my data and the next phase of my project.  He said, and I quote:

“Thanks for the data…. The higher temperature is an interesting issue, one I never considered. Keep up the good work!”

I think of things he doesn’t.  He thinks it’s good work.  Awesome sauce (as those youngsters say).  Considering I felt inept and frustrated the whole time, that casual compliment feels pretty damn good.  Maybe I can do this.

And while we are on the topic of school and things I can do, I’m not struggling nearly so much with using the word moiety.  Dr. Smythe used it during our weekly meeting and I thought to myself, “Aha!  I remember what that means, and now I actually kinda get it!!!”

Here’s one last thought.  My seminar grade isn’t posted yet, but I think it went well.  Now that it’s over I do have a question I can’t quite shake.  You see, in the U.S., mice are the primary natural reservoir for Borrelia, the bacteria which cause Lyme disease.  If it wasn’t for the tick feeding on mice carrying Borrelia, the tick would not pick up and be able to pass it on to humans and other animals.  But if Borrelia naturally live in mice, where did the mice get the Borrelia?  In my seminar I made a little joke out of it saying it was kind of like asking which came first, the chicken or the egg.  But really, seriously, how did Borrelia get in mice in the first place?

Oh-ho-ho.  Possibly a doctoral thesis theme?

Perhaps I’m hallucinating that there’s an entire carrot farm just up the hill….

March 28, 2015

Here’s a spot of good news

by Janie Jones

I got an email yesterday notifying me that I have just been awarded another $2000 scholarship for next year.  Applying for 30+ scholarships does start to pay off.

March 15, 2015

Blog milestones

by Janie Jones

You like me, you really, really like me!


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