Archive for ‘Rants and Random Fits of Anger’

June 23, 2018

Lowest bidder, or a very bitter monologue

by Janie Jones

I did not go into science with the expectation of becoming rich, however, I thought a highly skilled education would at least make me eligible for jobs with salaries sufficient enough that I wouldn’t have to worry about wasting a teaspoon of ketchup.

Apparently, a BS in cell and molecular biology and a BA in biochemistry is only worth $3 more per hour than working the night shift at the local McDonald’s.

Being sick to death of mouse model research, I decided that a year and a half post baccalaureate job experience was sufficient time to begin looking elsewhere.  I applied for a job in a substance addiction study.  The job was full time and required a bachelor’s degree in science or psychology.  Duties would include recruiting human participants, informing them of their rights as study subjects, taking blood and tissue samples and interviewing them regularly for progress through the study.  There would also be data accession and record keeping duties.

I received an email asking to schedule a preliminary phone meeting to discuss the position and eagerly accepted.  The interviewer outlined the job duties and, as if being timed, quickly spit out the starting salary and rushed on, “So we would like to know if you are still interested in the position.”

I mentioned I was, however, the starting salary was well below my current rate of pay, so I would hope there was room to negotiate.  I was well qualified for the position having at least 1 year or more experience with every requirement except venipuncture on humans.

She commented that she was not involved in salary negotiations and could not make any comments on the possibility of bargaining for a higher wage.  I mentioned that I would definitely accept an offer if they were willing to come up on the salary.  She said that they were assembling a pool of applicants that they were interested in interviewing and if I made the cut I’d hear more from them soon.

Apparently they wanted to low ball their salary budget and battle it out for good employees with McDonald’s night shift instead of paying for a well qualified, hard working and experienced employee.  They re-posted the position a week later.

If I could actually stay awake past 9pm, at this point I would seriously consider McDonalds.  At least there I wouldn’t have to poke and dissect mice.  Poor innocent little mice.  At least the Gen Pop are so stupid I wouldn’t feel sorry for them if I “accidentally” slipped an obnoxious customer a little listeria.

I am seriously frustrated.  How the hell does anyone make ends meet these days?  My internet bill just went up $20 a month.  From 49 to 69 dollars.  I am not getting any new benefits.  As far as I know they haven’t upgraded anything.  So, in my book, a $20 increase seems a bit steep and uncalled for.

Oh, and my property taxes went up this year too.  The county, in all it’s wisdom, whoops I meant greed, just decided that everything across the board was going to be worth more.  My house, which no one even came around to assess jumped in “value” buy $12K.  Now it would be nice if that meant the sale price I could realistically get would jump that much, but those of us who live in the real world know that’s not going to happen.

I might, just might, be lucky enough to get a 2% raise this year.  The civil service committee, or whatever it’s called, determines each year what an appropriate raise level is, but then the individual departments get to assess what their budgets can bear and their employees deserve.  It’s arbitrary and has absolutely nothing to do with merit.  So the boob who never shows up to work or botches everything and is carried by others gets the same raise as everyone else.  Because you know, Equality, man!  Everyone should be treated the same.

Right, and the way everyone should be treated is like a pauper.

I’m beginning to feel like we need to go pitch a boat load of tea into the harbor of some government and human resource offices.

If something doesn’t change soon, well, I don’ t know what will happen.  But I’m telling you, I have always felt that if I worked hard I’d get somewhere.  I don’t have unrealistic hopes, I don’t want to live some high end lifestyle.  I just want to be able to go buy new clothes or shoes when I need them, I’m not even talking high end clothing labels or Monolo Blahniks or who every the haute shoe designer is these days.   I want to go to the grocery store and not worry if I have money for everything on my list and still be able to buy the organic stuff that isn’t pumped with pesticides and genetically manipulated.  I want to be able to finish remodeling my home and put in a little garden.  And, here’s a real crazy dream:  I would like to have the ability to put a little money aside after all the bills are paid.  I do not see how this is asking too much.

But, despite every sacrifice and all the hard work, apparently I still have no skills any employer actually wants to pay a comfortable living wage for.  And, to add insult to injury, by the time taxes, mandatory retirement money and insurance is taken off my paycheck, I lose about 30%.  Then they take more away from me after payroll taxes for the “privilege” of owning a house, a car, buying furniture, buying cleaning supplies, buying gas, even my utilities are taxed!  I very seldom travel these days because the taxes on hotels, restaurants and other transportation fees scare me.  About the only thing I buy that I don’t get taxed for is food, clothing and some medical expenses.  And, I know from other places I’ve lived that a lot of states even charge those items.

So, I’m asking an extremely rhetorical question here.  Where the fuck does all that tax money go?

I don’t live a bad life, but there is always this pressure that there’s just not quite enough money.  If something breaks or wears out with my house or car, I’m screwed.  If there’s an emergency, I’m screwed.  I cringe when my daughter doesn’t finish the milk in her cereal bowl; hard earned money spent on milk dumped down the drain.  I chastise myself for buying all that veg and forgetting to make salads before it goes rotten, or get frustrated when the Spud eats half of her dinner and “saves” the rest only to go moldy in the back of the fridge because she’d rather eat ramen than reheat quality food.  I had some friends over for brunch last weekend and one of them dumped about half a bottle of ketchup on his eggs and hashbrowns, ate two bites and the rest went in the trash.  It is absolutely painful to work so hard and watch the pennies add up so slowly then get spent and wasted in a heartbeat.  I think I will throttle the next septuagenarian who says, “I deserve a discount, after all, I live on a fixed income.”  Like I can just will money into my bank account because I’m not retired yet.

I have a tiny little bit of money I managed to save after buying my house, but I don’t make enough to add to it, much less replenish it if I spend it, so, I’m stuck.  It’s an emergency fund I live in fear of spending.  Despite going back to school for an education, I am no better off than I was before, possibly worse, because now I owe all kinds of student loan debt.  So, barring a miracle, I will live with the stress of balancing on the brink of financial disaster until I die.  There is little hope for a comfortable retirement, as I don’t even live a particularly comfortable life of employment.

I am beginning to understand the multi-generational welfare abusers.  Why bother working hard when you are never, ever going to get anywhere.

Well, that’s communism and socialism for you.  Make everyone equal so no one goes without.

Yup.  No one goes without being miserable.

 

 

 

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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.

November 10, 2015

Just need to blow off a little steam…

by Janie Jones

My biochemistry lab is a total clusterf*%k.

In 12 weeks of class I have gotten out on time three times.  THREE TIMES.  And one of those three was technically 10 minutes late, but that’s not too bad.  Mostly I get out half hour to 40 minutes late.  My lab partner has a class right after so when things aren’t done, as they usually aren’t, I have to stay and finish by myself.  That doesn’t so much bother me as much as the general attitude of the teaching staff that it’s my duty to never have any other conflicts with staying late or coming back outside of scheduled class time.  They can’t be troubled to run the class in a do-able manner, but despite the fact they choose to run it in such an asinine way that no class ever is expected to be done on time, week after week, semester after semester, year after year, it’s apparently okay for me to be troubled to accept the impingement on my personal time.  It’s just run this way.  And the teaching staff doesn’t seem to give a damn.

My beef is that it’s not professional and down right disrespectful to expect us to drop everything else in our lives to make extra time for this work.  And, on top of it, we have a huge number of time sucking homework assignments for this class each week.  So not only do we have to make extra time for the classroom stuff that is impossible to finish, but we have to spend hours and hours and hours outside of class doing the bidding of the teaching staff.

I am especially ranty on this subject today because I had to stay an extra hour and 40 minutes today.  Plus I was given a take home test that needs to be done by 5pm tomorrow.  Like I had absolutely nothing else to fill  my time between now and then and now, on top of it, I have an hour and 40 minutes less than I expected to do the homework already on my to do list.  It’s like pouring salt into my wounded respect for you as a professional.  Would you, as a teacher, be willing to drop everything to spend an extra hour and 40 minutes plus God only knows how long this take home test will take, to do some thing someone told you to do at the last minute?  I seriously doubt it.

Here’s something to chew on jackass:

youre not the only teacher

Should I take the red pill and do the homework, or the blue pill and have a life.

93 days until graduation.

I’m applying to grad school why exactly?!?

October 14, 2015

A lack of forethought on your part should not constitute and emergency on mine

by Janie Jones

I have five different instructors this semester.  They all seem like basically nice people.  Mostly I enjoy the subjects.  But three of the five just can’t seem to get their poop in a group and give consistent and/or advanced information on when and what things need to be done.  I am getting a lot of eleventh hour emails about this assignment or that meeting that need to be added or changed.

Last night, for example.  I got an email apparently at 7:46 pm saying my 10 am lab time needed to be moved to 9:50 am and might run longer than the original time even with moving it up ten minutes.

Unlike most night owls, I was already in bed at this time.  So this morning chances of getting a message to and from the instructor before I actually am now expected to show up are quite slim.  The problem being that as I can’t be at the lab at 9:50 because I have a class that doesn’t end until 9:50, I kinda would like to know if I should even bother to show up.  You know that whole lack of transporters crap kinda makes getting from one place on campus to another a little slower than instantaneous.  Heaven forbid, too, I might need to go to the bathroom or anything.  But if I can’t complete the task in the original time allotted, should we just reschedule?

Now this particular professor is pretty flexible.  I’m 99% sure she won’t make a big deal out of it one way of the other.  Either she’ll be go ahead when ever you get here will be fine, or she’ll be we can just reschedule, no problem.

However, another of the teachers is really good at having assignments scheduled to be due on Mondays, but not providing the assignment information until sometimes late in the afternoon on the Saturday before.  While it is true I spend most of my weekends doing homework, I think it’s pretty crappy that it’s implied that I’ll just be able to drop whatever is going on on Saturday and/or Sunday to make time for an assignment if I already have plans.  Mondays I usually have pretty much open for homework after lunch, but if you don’t know what the assignment entails, it could take a long time, and I don’t want to deliberately wait until Monday afternoon to find out that this thing is going to take 3 or 4 hours when I have other homework to do too.  Let’s be realistic.  If you knew when you handed out the syllabus at the beginning of the class that an assignment would be due on nearly every Monday of the semester, why can’t you get the assignment information out to us more that two days ahead?  Especially if those days are weekend days?

It is a HUGE pet peeve of mine that professors EXPECT you to have no weekend.

And then there’s the professor who is so unprepared that he usually doesn’t post the lab assignment until a few hours before class.  It’s really hard to come prepared for a lab where you will have to make calculations and do a multi-step technique if you only just got the procedure when you walk in the door.  Then it’s a mad rush to figure out what you’re doing and get done on time.  Or, he won’t tell you what he’s discussing in lecture ahead of time.  Normally not so big a deal, but it’s a very small class and he likes to ask the students lots of questions during lecture.  Sometimes there are mammoth pauses or literally guessing games to figure out what answer he is looking for because we had no idea what to prepare.  The second or third week of class I asked if he could possibly put up lecture notes or some outline of what would be discussed in class the night before and he said “No, I’m too busy.”

I have a lot on my plate.  I’m often too busy to do the homework they assign.  I’m often not available to jump through hoops, adjusting my life around their inability to be organized.  And, I am a very organized person.  In order to balance everything I have to do in a day, week, semester, my time has to be budgeted sometimes down to the last minute.  More often than not my time budget is woefully inadequate to do everything I have to do in a respectable manner.  So when other people’s screw ups mess up the delicate balancing act and my limited free time is impinged upon or I lose time at work or on homework assignments I get really mad because their problems have caused me to fail to some degree.  If things out of my control cause too much havoc in my life I end up in a really bad place emotionally.  We are doing everything in our power to keep Janie out of such places, but we can only do so much.

My moral to this story?  Nine-tenths of college is learning to insulate yourself from the incompetence of others, even those who are supposed to know more than you.  The better you can be at not being ruffled by the mistakes of others, the more successful you’ll be.  When you graduate, if you manage to do so and not go postal, you should get an honorary PhD in Bullshit Management.

September 11, 2015

Like I didn’t already have enough to worry about, THIS might end my long suffering college career 72 days early.

by Janie Jones

This is the new deal:

So, I wake up this morning and there’s an URGENT notice in my email from Stickittoyou financial aid.  I got a notice on Tuesday that there were updates to my FAFSA, but I was too busy to think much of it yet.  So I skimmed this morning’s Stickittoyou notice and, lo and behold: someone, and I don’t know who yet, but my money is on the Stickittoyou computer platform update, the same one that couldn’t calculate my financial aid package until the Saturday before summer class started, allowed me to over borrow by $500.

I am in my 5th year, so I knew I was getting close to maxing my federal loan money.  However, I generally keep in close communication with the financial aid office, and I as I did have a considerable amount of grants and loans this year, I thought we figured I’d be okay.  When my fall financial aid packet came through, I was offered $1961.00 in loans.  I suppose ultimately it’s my fault for accepting what they offer, but, silly me, I expect that when I’m offered something I should actually be eligible for it, so I took the max of what they offered, and they paid it to me two weeks ago.  Doesn’t seem like a lot, but apparently it is $500 too much.

But as that maximum offer was wrong I’ve now been paid money that I technically wasn’t allowed to have and they have frozen my entire financial aid account, not just my loans.  Furthermore, it kind of sounds like that is including my workstudy job money, as my job is funded by federal financial aid workstudy dollars.  It seems as though I have to go to the financial aid office this morning and find out whether or not I can still get paid at my job until I pay back that $500.

The simple solution would be to give back the extra $500, but if I do then that creates the problem of how will I pay my January 1 rent, as all the remaining money that didn’t go to books, other school supplies, keeping my car running and paying a few summer bills is earmarked for rent for this semester.  But at least I guess that will push the problem down the road a bit.

Even if I find one way or another to pay back that money, as I’ve apparently maxed out my undergraduate borrowing dollars it still doesn’t solve the problem of how I will pay the extra expenses that aren’t covered by my scholarships and grants for my last semester, but once again I guess I will just have to kick that problem down the road apiece.

Well, I guess it’s time to merrily schlepp my butt on down to Stickittoyou U for another exhilarating day of learning.
September 9, 2015

And so it goes

by Janie Jones

You would think I would have learned.  I guess I’m dumber and more gullible than I thought.

I always think, next semester will be better.  I will be done with *insert miserable course I didn’t want to take* and I will be able to focus on what I want.  I will be more organized.  I will devote more time to studying.  I will find time to be good to myself so I have the mental/physical/intellectual fortitude to kick ass.  I will get straight As because I love the material and really learned everything.

It is only the second week.  So I am trying really hard not to succumb to crippling depression.

But, I tell you what.  I spent 8 hours on Saturday, 9 and half hours Sunday and blew off work yesterday so I could come home straight after class and spend 5 hours on homework in the afternoon.  It would take like another 30-40 hours just to catch up the amount of homework I’m all ready behind on from last week, the first week of the semester, and I haven’t even included the this new week’s homework on my list yet.

I think the only thing keeping me from that crippling depression I mentioned is the anger I feel at paying outrageous amounts of money to take classes that I have no hope of learning half of the material covered because there is so much homework I can’t possibly do it all if I do it well.  The best I can hope for is to maybe learn that half, accept I will be worked to within an inch of my life to complete that half of what I should learn and have the honor of getting shitty grades in the process.

And, you know it stung pretty bad getting C’s in physics, but I didn’t ever profess to be good at math which was 75% of physics.  The prospect of getting C’s, or heaven forbid, worse, in courses I actually want to take is a devastating thought.

So what about getting shitty grades bothers me?  The letter C doesn’t show how much I invest in effort and time, how much I sacrifice of myself and my life and the desire there was in me to really learn and succeed.  People see anything less than a B and they think that person is either dumb or not trying.

The fact that I really do find all the courses I’m taking this semester interesting, and I really, really want to learn but might not be able to get all I want out of a class is almost a worse feeling than just getting a bad grade.  I want to enjoy studying this stuff.  I want to take the time to read or do an assignment and when I’m done feel all like “Wow, that was cool.  I rocked that.”  But there’s just so much.  Being buried in a never ending mountain of homework kills any joy one might have for a subject and the learning process.

Mostly it’s like, “Damn,  I have to hurry and finish this which is due first and then I have to make sure I have time to start this which is due later but will take for ever, and oh, yeah, I have to memorize this all this stuff so I am ready for the test where I can’t use the cheat sheet.  Oh, and then there’s the…”  It’s hard to keep focused when you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.  It’s hard to stay strong when you are tired but know there’s almost no point in going on because you can never truly reach the end.  It’s hopelessness.

I don’t know how other students manage, maybe it’s because, even though I am way far from being old, I’m not as young, healthy and fast as I used to be.  I know– I hope– I’m not too stupid to learn it.  A significant amount of the crippling depression hovering over me is due to feeling sad and frustrated about all the details and readings and assignments I am rushing through and half assing because I only have about 8 hours a day where my brain is actually capable of functioning.  It’s frustrating to feel like you are not on your game.  To feel you brain and your body are traitors to your desires and your needs.  I want to do more.  But it’s like a switch goes off after 8 hours or so and no matter how I try to apply myself to the work at hand nothing sticks.

It’s also frustrating because I know the real world is nothing like college.  I *know* I would make an excellent scientist/researcher.  I know I have the skills.  Because one sucks at jumping through a professor’s arbitrary hoops does not mean one sucks at being a good employee in the real world.  Unfortunately, there’s this dumb bit of having to get through college in order to get your resume on the desk instead of in the trash.

Well, one thing won’t help.  Whining about it here on the blog.  So, unless the storm of homework breaks, you won’t probably hear much from me for the next 14 weeks.  I have to make time and unfortunately, blogging is not absolutely necessary.  Other things that aren’t apparently considered necessary by professors are breathing, sleeping, and thinking about anything not related to their class.

I will miss you bloggy buddies.  Pray for me.  Or send cash.  I may have to quit both my jobs if I want to have any chance in Hell of passing this semester.

September 4, 2015

The gamble

by Janie Jones

The house that I am renting a room in in Big City sits in a very non-homogenized neighborhood. It has a lot of wooded lots, no sidewalks and a lot of non-uniformity between it’s level of posh-ness.  Some people have shacks with little more than gravel drives while others have huge privately wooded lots and fancy houses and paved driveways.  It is definitely an area which used to be rural and grew up very eclectically, probably over a very long time, on a long street that connects two major thoroughfares.

Despite being a rather busy street, or perhaps because if it, it has very few other “connections” to the rest of the roads in town.  Normally to get to school I just turn left out of the driveway and zip down the street and make three turns and in less than 10 minutes I’m at one of the Stickittoyou U parking lots.  If I want to shop or visit friends I just turn right from the driveway and in 10 minutes or less I’m most of the other places I want to be, so the location is pretty convenient.  I also like it a lot because , even though it is smack dab in the middle of everywhere I want to be, it doesn’t feel downtown city like; there are no bus lines and no businesses anywhere near my place, so there is a much lower number of random people wandering about that don’t belong.

As I believe it is an old neighborhood which used to be unincorporated, the road itself is not in super great condition and, following the major flood from a few years ago, many of the drainage culverts and sewer pipes apparently needed fixing as well as the road itself.  So, starting early in August, Big City began road work on my street.

At first they placed big blinking “road closed to thru traffic” signs and some barricades on both major ends of the street as well as at the few connecting side streets but only totally blocked of the “right” end of the street by taking a huge hole of pavement out.  But that wasn’t so bad because there were a few side streets you could turn off on before the big hole in the road and detour around it.  However, yesterday they tore a big hole in the “left” end.  That’s the end I need to go down to get to school.

Now, it happens that there is only one other way to get out ‘to the left’ from my place to Stickittoyou U and it takes you through a very convoluted series of residential streets and adds, I kid you not, about 10 minutes to my drive depending on whether you make a couple of lights.  You can access this other route from three side streets off my own street, some are a little less twisty than others, but all of them must be turned on fairly well in advance of where I need to make my first turn off my own street.  Or I can go the other long way and go ‘to the right’ which also adds about 10 minutes to my drive.

Are you still with me?

So I tell you all these things so you will appreciate this.

I came home mid afternoon on Wednesday and turned onto my street from ‘the left,’ weaving around the “road closed to thru traffic” sign and barricades as usual.  But then, yesterday, at 6:45am I left for school.  It was very, very foggy and hard to see far in the dim morning light, especially the grey road, other cars, and street signs.  I get almost to my turn and see the traffic light is green through the fog, but I also see other lights on construction trucks.  I am trying to figure out what is going on in the fog, and preparing to weave around the blockades to make my turn when, HOLY CRAP!  THERE IS NOW A HUGE HOLE IN THE STREET!

Thankfully, I had slowed way down to turn, so I was able to stop before being close enough for the hole to eat my car, with me in it.  But then I sat there a few moments stunned, as a herd of construction trucks moved around me, wondering what the heck I was supposed to do.  I could possibly turn around, but now there were trucks and workers all over behind me.  Where had they come from?

Then as I was fixing to back up, a guy came over and moved some equipment so I could get on the shoulder between the curb and a big pile of the material they pulled out of the big freaking hole and he waved me through to make my turn.

I tell you I felt kinda stupid, but those crews, man, they move freaky fast.  Kudos to you for efficiency.  Dudes.  You are amazing.  I definitely applaud your speed and skill at moving massive amounts of earth and rebuilding in a matter of a few hours.  But.  It is a pickle for me, and all the other people living on the street and having to use it every day, never knowing what the situation will be.  What route should I use today?  Will I be able to get through?  Things change quickly from day to day even from one hour to the next.  It often happens I leave and they are tearing up a hole, but a few hours later it’s filled in and that section of road is drive-able again.  Which is what happened with the big freaking hole that almost ate me in the fog yesterday.  When I drove home expecting to have to take the long convoluted detour from ‘the left’ end the hole was already filled in.  Scary, amazing, wonderful and frustrating.

It kinda blows me away that the city and construction company aren’t in better communication with the residents on the street.  I mean, not knowing where a new hole in the road is going to pop up could be dangerous.  Especially on a low visibility day.  And you would think they wouldn’t want you in their way either.  Is it that expensive/time consuming/or otherwise difficult to put up one of those big signs that blinks messages and say :

Attention local traffic: new work ahead, no outlet to Main Street today, detour around.

Is it too hard to change the signs as work progress advances?

So now I am wondering, what will I encounter.  Will I be able to go the normal route this morning?  Should I chance it?  Or should I double my commute time and go an alternate route?

It’s a gamble.