Coffee heat rising

A break in the clouds…

Hallelujah, brothers and sisters, yonder breaks a beam of light through the clouds!

Yesterday developed into surprisingly de-toxifying day.

First off, I discovered the reason the MacBook was throwing out messages to the effect that it couldn’t hold all the data stored on iCloud was…ohhh, wait for it… BECAUSE… The damn computeris somehow CLONING ALL THE DATA FILES ON ITS HARD DRIVE…over and over and over again.

Call up the AppleCare people and reach the first tech there that I’ve ever talked to who hadn’t a clue. She had never heard of such a thing and didn’t know what to do, so she made me an appointment with the Apple “Geniuses.” Like I have nothing else to do with my time…

Whenever I get off the phone with her and calm down a bit, I think to do a Web search. Find an Apple user’s forum where a) some guy says you can get rid of the redundant files by shutting down and rebooting, and b) they will eventually come back. Another user reports that this is a function of the Sierra operating system. Say what????

Well, I’ve had this computer for two years and it’s been running on Sierra for almost that long and I’ve never seen endless strings of duplicate files before. Presumably older versions of Sierra didn’t do that. When the guys in Tennessee replaced everything in this device’s innards, they would have had to reload Sierra, and in doing so, they presumably would have loaded a slightly newer iteration of Sierra. Hence: iterations, all right: thousands of them!

Really, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I just CAN. NOT. DEAL. WITH. THIS. SH!T any longer!

At that point, I about decided to shut down The Copyeditor’s Desk. The computer headaches, the DropBox headaches, the PayPal headaches…all conspiring at once: it’s more than I can handle.

Naturally, the minute I make that decision, a new Chinese mathematician e-mails in a sweat, needing to get 10 (typeset!) pages of new copy edited and jammed into an article that’s already been provisionally accepted. He, however, is at the Great Desert University, where I have spies. And he has a bank account. So he at least can pay me. However, that means I have two book projects in hand, another pending, this math thing, and a computer that is laboring to undercut me.

But… But, indeed: his piping up reminded me that not all Chinese mathematicians, scientists, and scholars of business management labor away their lives on the Mainland! A whole lot of them live in the United States. And they can pay with checks. Or get their universities to pay with checks.

And how hard is it to make nice to these folks and cultivate that set?

He blinked not at all at my bracing  per-word rate, so I will be paid fairly for turning his golden words into publishable copy.

This sounds sooo weird, but I love copyediting these Chinese scientists’ copy. The beauty of a math paper is that if its author says something stupid, I don’t know it. That, alas, is not true of work in just about any other discipline. 😀

And most of the stuff is strangely interesting, at base.

He wants to meet next week and trudge through the new content, face-to-face. That’s a new one for me, but it should be interesting. I figure if I can make nice to him and not persuade him that I’m a complete idiot, he may refer me to colleagues.

Whiled away part of the day with another new client’s effort at science fiction writing. That was light and amusing and did not leave me in a rage. Which is good. Always good.

In the morning, I tested the blood pressure again — still obsessing about whatever it was that happened in the wee hours the day before yesterday. Back down into to fairly normal range: average 123/77. One reading was an amazing 115/75. Not bad for a 74-year-old, eh?

So I think it’s safe to assume the episode in the night was a stress attack, not a life-threatening cardiac event.

That alone relieved a whole lot of stress. So did the idea that I might simply fold The Copyeditor’s Desk and really, seriously retire retire.

And in the evening, we — the Women’s Schola — sang at Compline, a particularly lovely end-of-the-day service that, being absent the hoopla of a mass and all that, is a lovely, contemplative moment entirely sung and presented by candlelight. Meditative, it is. And a very fine antidote to crazy-making stress.

This service — Compline — is in my opinion the most lovely and spiritual event in the church’s entire repertoire. Hardly anybody seems to know about it: attendance can be numbered in the single digits. This is too bad, because a whole lot of people are missing out on something that ought not to be missed.

And now…away! Off to pick up the Old Folks, the first traffic-traipse of the day.

Discoveries: A couple of life lessons learned

Yesterday my agèd friends who just moved into the Barbizon Plaza the Beatitudes, a very fancy life-care community where business is booming, invited me join them at the institute’s fanciest dining room (it has three!) for lunch/dinner. The Beatitudes, in its current incarnation, is very nice indeed: much like living in a first-class hotel or on the Queen Mary.

(Yes, I once did cross the Atlantic on the Queen Mary. That ship personified luxury accommodation.)

And in that visit, I gained several valuable insights.

First off, after much worried clucking about how far the eateries are from their apartment (in their 90s, they both have their share of infirmities), they both said — out of the blue — that after having to walk around for just a few days, they’re each feeling a lot better. J. said her back and joints are actually improving, and she’s experiencing noticeably less pain. L. said he also was feeling, overall, better than he had in a long time.

So (said she, while loafing in front of her computer): those daily walks are not an option! If you want to feel as well as you can feel, get off your duff and walk around the neighborhood. Or the park. Or the indoor mall, if that’s what it takes. Apparently, the more you move, the longer you’re likely to keep moving.

Next: as to the long-term care insurance conundrum:  A lady came up and said hello to us, then disappeared into the scenery. In passing, my friends remarked that she had not bought into that place…that she rented an apartment instead.

Whoa! Hold the phone. That puts a whole new complexion on the long-term care insurance issue. Now that they mentioned it, I recalled that my father once rented an apartment at an old-folkerie associated with a nearby hospital (it’s quite a story…one day I’ll have to write it up for your delectation!). And it was possible to rent an apartment at the old-folkerie where he had used the entire proceeds of the sale of his home to buy in, though at his LTC commnity  renting was a short-term arrangement.

If you could live at the Beatitudes, on a long-term basis, as a renter rather than as a member of their buy-in “community,” and if renting there would give you dibs on a bed in their nursing home, then it might make sense to keep up the LTC insurance. Here’s why:

If you’re living in one of those life-care communities, you’ve got access to its nursing home (in these parts, a VERY big deal, because decent nursing homes are few and far between here). You’ve got twice-monthly housecleaning. You’ve got daily access to prepared meals as part of the deal. You’ve got a secure environment that’s safe and free from bums and burglars. You’ve got a whole staff keeping an eye on you and likely to notice when you don’t show up because you fell in the shower and broke your hip. You’ve got staff who fix things that break.

But these outfits charge a huge entry fee, basically about what you would clear on sale of an upper-middle-class home. That entry fee effectively serves as nursing-home insurance: by getting you into the life-care community, it pays for access to the institution’s on-campus nursing home: if and when you need it, for however long you need it.

But what if they let you just live there as a renter, with no pre-paid nursing home care? (Pre-paid, we might say, on the come….)

If you did not have to fork over your entire damn life savings to put a roof over your head with guaranteed access to competent nursing care — if instead you could be pretty sure you would end up in a specific nursing home for a period that could range from a number of days to a number of years, as long as you paid for it as needed —  then it would make sense to keep the MetLife LTC policy.

It would, of course, depend on what the institute charges for rent. And whether it gives renters the same preferential access to its nursing home that it gives to residents who give them a giant buy-in fee. (These outfits generally guarantee residents access to the on-campus nursing home or, if the place is full when you need it, to a nursing home of comparable quality.)

For people who buy in, in addition to its stiff entry fee the Beatitudes charges around $3000 a month per person. Together, these charges act as de-facto nursing home insurance. The money buys you a bed in the nursing home should you need it, without an increase in your monthly ding. Of course…if you never need it, then that’s money down the drain. If you do need it, the arrangement could in fact save your heirs most of their inheritance.

But if you could rent to live there, without having to cough up a buy-in fee, it would make sense to keep the nursing-home insurance — that is, assuming a rental agreement includes access to the on-campus nursing home. The Beatitudes supposedly charges people who live in the wild something in the range of $10,000 a month for nursing-home care. This would quickly drain your assets.

It costs me $2,000 a month to live in my home, and I don’t get anyone else cooking my meals. Another thousand bucks to feed me, clean the house, change the sheets, and guarantee availability of nursing care is within reason, more or less….but only if I don’t have to give up whatever I would make on the sale of my home! If renting made that possible, with the understanding that I’d have to pay out of pocket for any nursing home care required, then…

a) Living there would be do-able; and
b) It would make sense to keep the MetLife LTC insurance, because $130 a month, even if I live into my 90s, is one hell of a lot less than the $350,000± that I’d have to fork over from sale of my house.

I’d really like this house go to my son so that he can either sell it and bank the proceeds, rent it out to generate some cash flow, or move into it if he pleases. That means I do not want to have to sell it and spend the proceeds to get myself into an old-folkerie when I can no longer manage the place. Next week I’ll call over there and arrange to listen to their sales pitch. And be sure to ask them whether you really can rent without having to buy in, and if so, what you get for the rent.

To REALLY retire or not to REALLY retire?

That is the question.

It’s not so much that I’m all that sick of this self-employment stuff. It’s that the older I get, the lazier I get. And the less I feel like working at ALL. Barf.

Just now The Copyeditor’s Desk, a registered Arizona freaking S-corp, has about $2,000 in outstanding receivables. Among these receivables is one due from a university in Texas that paid through the monumentally faceless Oracle Corporation, which a few days ago sent me a notice saying the check was in the SNAILMAIL. And — get this! — reminding me to be sure it clears their banking institution (or whatever a monumentally faceless corporation engages these days) before trying to use it.

Uh huh. Days have gone by, as you might expect. No sign of this highly unstable and perhaps rubbery check in the mailbox.

Then we have the Chinese clients.

Not that I don’t love the Chinese clients. I do. They’re wonderful and interesting and great to work for. It’s getting paid by universities in China…therein lies the problem. Other countries, you understand — more advanced than the U.S. — no longer transact business with paper checks. They want to transmit payments electronically.

That would be fine if I were using a major international bank to hold my vast empire’s wealth. But I dislike major international banks, because, still living in the mid-twentieth century as I do, I persist unreasonably in expecting (of all things!) some customer service. And I deeply resent being dinged for fees to keep my money in their bank, where it is not in their bank but in investments turning a profit for said bank. Consequently, I use a credit union.

Most credit unions are too small to have a SWIFT number. This means that a Chinese client (usually a major university) has to send an international money transfer, but it has to be done indirectly. That is, they can’t just send the money direct to the credit union. They have to use an international bank, such as Bank of China or hateful Wells Fargo, as an intermediary: they send the money to the giant faceless international bank, and the GFIB sends it to my credit union, extracting a substantial gouge in the process.

This is time consuming, to say nothing of noxious.

No, they will not use PayPal. They are rightfully suspicious of PayPal. As am I. It can be done, but they don’t want to do it and so will tell you that their university will not allow them to do it. Could they pay by Visa? Probably. I haven’t looked into it, because I’m not sure who to ask. Plus I would have to pay to get into a system to make credit-card transactions. Blech.

Truth to tell, because I don’t want to work much, I don’t get paid much. By the hour, my clients pay many times more than colleges and universities pay for adjunct teaching. However, because the minimum-wage teaching gigs are more or less steady work, after all is said and done a couple of classes a semester put as much as or more into my checking account than the editorial work.

This leaves us with the obvious question: Why am I bothering with this?

Plus…frankly, I suspect I get less and less competent the older I get. My agèd secretary, who was a complete dunderhead, used to drive me freaking nuts because she could not figure out the digitized office procedures we had to accomplish tasks that we once did, much faster and much easier, by analog processes. Those analog processes had gone away at the Great Desert University (as in the larger world), and so she had no choice but to try to use the digital upgrades. And what a mess that woman could make when she did try.

Welp. This pot can no longer call that kettle black. I’ve found that I do not want to keep climbing an endless Mt. Everest of a fucking learning curve. I’m sick of trying to figure all this shit out, I’m sick of having it not work no matter how hard you try to make it work, I’m sick of the FUCKING TIME SUCK involved — spending hours to do something that should take ten minutes, every time you turn around.

Today — ah ha! Here it is: the immediate cause of this rant — I went online to pay the corporate and the personal AMEX bills.

The credit union’s bill-pay function, as we’ve found in the past, is problematic: It makes it appear that you’re paying electronically, but behind the scenes sometimes the CU is actually sending a paper check, meaning it takes up to ten days from the pay date for the creditor to receive its money. There’s no rhyme nor reason to this check-paying quirk, and the underlings cannot tell you why they do this and which creditors are likely to be paid by check.

As part of its ongoing learning curve, the CU recently instituted a shortcut to its bill-paying service. Instead of having to proactively click on “Bill Pay,” next to your list of accounts you now see a pane  labeled “Make a Payment.” We are told you can tell — after you’ve jumped through the hoops to schedule and make a payment (which in this new protocol requires more clicks than before) — how payment will be made: look for an icon next to the amount scheduled to pay. Lightning bolt means e-payment; envelope means snail-mail. But…those icons are not visible on the customer’s end. The CSR is unaware of that.

Farting around with this today took SO FUCKING LONG it would have been easier, faster, and infinitely less aggravating simply to have written checks, stuffed them in envelopes, choked up a half-buck apiece (!!!!!!!) in postage, and driven them over to the post office. (No. You can’t put them in your mailbox and flag them for the mailindividual to pick up. That would be insensate. They would be stolen long before the mailperson arrives, which these days is usually sometime after 5:00 p.m.). Half my morning was wasted with the simple chore of trying to pay the goddamn credit-card bills.

Well. Admittedly: I did have to transfer $2,800 from savings to checking to cover the homeowner’s and car insurance. But that took all of about 30 seconds.

So the point here is that this kind of electronic futzing to get simple clerical chores done is

a) endlessly annoying;
b) endlessly time-consuming;
c) endlessly unproductive; and
d) not something on which I wish to spend the limited amount of time left to me on this earth.

I don’t want to learn it. And once learned, I don’t want to do it.

And it is entirely possible that because of my age, I can’t learn it. The issue may very well be more than don’t want to.

Lately it has become painfully evident that I’m no longer competent to do even the chores that I’m (supposedly) good at. Long after editing and proofreading a document, long after sending it off to the client, I will happen to revisit something and discover…holy shit! Glaring errors interposed by me in the form of typos and passages that the computer has dorked up without my noticing it. Obvious inconsistencies or errors on the part of the client that I have inexplicably missed — despite proofreading, despite proofing again behind the computer’s “dictation” function that reads it aloud.

It should be impossible for me to miss these things. But…it is not.

Many of these errors have gotten past me and gone back to the client. That is a freaking menace.

Even in my own creative work, I come across weird stuff: chunks of copy moved…but moved to the wrong place and left there unnoticed. Inconsistencies. Typos. Wackshit stuff that would never have escaped attention even five years ago, to say nothing of ten or fifteen.

Week or two ago, I volunteered to do receptionist work for the church. They have a whole crew who staff the front desk during the weekdays. I should be competent at that: my first full-time real-world job was working as receptionist at a law firm. And I loved it. Best job I’ve ever had, except for the editorial job at Arizona Highways.

After sitting at an experienced person’s elbow for two shifts — six hours, all told — it occurred to me that I cannot remember how to operate the very simple phone. It is like a real switchboard and it is not like a real switchboard. It’s enough not — and staff’s wishes and nonwishes are complex enough — that it’s going to be difficult or maybe even impossible for me to learn how to do it.

Then we have the fact that I’m no longer a cute young girl. Back in the day when I had an acceptable face, no gray hair, and 34-23-36 measurements, my cuteness over-rode the strangeness of my personality. The god’s truth is, one reason I’m not good at marketing books (besides the fundamental laziness) is that I do not do well with people. I annoy them and offend them and do not know how or why.

This has been true since I was a little girl. In grade school, I had no friends. The kids simply hated me. By second grade (no kindergarten in those days), I’d alienated them all — well, except for one little girl who was as weird as I was. She was taken back to the States in the third or fourth grade. Some years later — after we also had come back to the States — I walked into an empty classroom where two girls were fooling with something in a closet. With their backs turned to me, they didn’t see me come in. And they were both going on about how much they hated me. I didn’t even know who they were! Couldn’t have told you their names to save my own life.

My guess is that today I would be “diagnosed” with a mild case of Asperger’s. I don’t get along with people because I don’t read their expressions well, I don’t pick up on their tone of voice well, and little verbal hints they drop often fly right past me.

Which, I suppose, explains why the more I get to know people, the better I like my dog…

These things were overlooked when I was a sexy young woman married (or about to be married) to a prominent lawyer. Today: not so much.

At any rate, I suspect that it’s best if I’m not around other human beings, for their happiness and for mine.

So that leaves, as a money-making gig, adjunct teaching. Online.

I loathe adjunct teaching. I’m not all that fond of teaching when I’m paid a respectable salary. But the sub-minimum wage that adjuncts earn is just plain insulting. After a semester of that stuff, you’re left with the same question: Why am I doing this?

Yeah. Why AM I doing this???

Annual Windfall Arrives

The state direct-deposited the $4450 it owes me for this year’s installment on my RASL (retiree unpaid sick-leave). Very nice…but what to do with it?

I’d figured to put $2500 of it in the Roth IRA and invest the rest in the brokerage account. This would plump up my retirement savings by another few thousand bucks. On the other hand…

I’m already in retirement. What we have here is a chunk of post-tax money in an era when income from Social Security and teaching doesn’t cover all my expenses. Right now I’m drawing down post-tax savings at the rate of $1093 a month to ensure that ends will be met, come what may. This left me, at the end of February when utility costs were nil, with a surplus of a grandiose $181, after all the bills were paid and transfers made to the savings accounts that hold funds for taxes, insurance, and extravagances like clothing and shoes.

Since I’m already having to draw down de facto savings (just not out of investment accounts—yet), does it make sense to invest this money only to have to start drawing it back out of the investment accounts in another few months? Just now, my projections show I’ll run out of after-tax savings in September, assuming I use my summer-school pay to cover utility bills and then spend the remainder on trash like a new washer and dryer or a new crown to replace the broken one. Videlicet:

Suppose, though, I were to fold the RASL into the survival fund and do the same with the post-utility bill net summer pay? Let’s imagine, too, that a miracle happens and I get another two courses  next summer, netting three grand after the high-season utilities are paid:

This has a sterling advantage: it allows me to live on post-tax savings, minimizing 2011 and 2012 tax bills while my IRAs and brokerage accounts continue to grow (assuming any growth is left after the Libya unrest settles down—a big assumption, for you can be sure whoever takes control will not be our friends). This year, I do need to roll the pre-tax money out of the defunct whole life policy into the brokerage account; so far only post-tax funds have been withdrawn from that. It’s earning all of 1 percent (at best) at Northwestern, and so needs to be transferred to investment accounts, which have been averaging 5 to 7 percent the past few months. That need grows urgent, as inflation is about to spike, big-time. Living on money in savings will reduce my tax liability for that rollover.

The second strategy will require me to defer the dental crown indefinitely, and also to try to fix the ancient washer or to replace the washer only, not the dryer. I will not be able to use summer earnings to cover those needs, nor could I start stashing summer pay to save toward a new car, which I’ll be needing one of these days. Soon.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that I’ll get two sections to teach in the summer of 2012. But even if that doesn’t happen, I could in theory hang on until the end of July without having to draw down from investment savings.

In theory.

California Dreamin’

LOL! Check out the comments, below, especially from Deflating Dreams. 😀 English-major math strikes again! Gotta race to meetings just now, but will be back with an update.

Could I afford to live in San Francisco? Offhand, you’d think the answer would be no way, eh?


M’hijito is angling to get himself into a master’s program that would train him to be a physician’s assistant. Pay for such work is passing decent…good enough to get him back to San Francisco, where he craves to live. If he takes off for the Bay Area again, there won’t be so much reason for me to hang around this big old expensive house in a city not likely to shake off its economic depression any time in the near future.

Yeah, I know: California’s economy is in bad trouble, too. But Arizona’s nasty little secret is that we’re even worse off than California, second only to Michigan in unemployment. and thanks to the demagogues in the legislature, we’ve shot ourselves in the economic foot with SB 1070. That actually isn’t the half of it, to tell the truth. Arizona, I’m afraid, is about worn out as a place to live, certainly for anyone who aspires to the middle class.

I’d be sorry to leave the choir…but frankly, San Francisco has plenty of high Episcopal churches; surely one of them has a decent choir. And I really would regret leaving my best friends behind. But still, it’s something to think about. Blood being thicker than water, after all.

Let’s suppose I could sell my house and clear two hundred grand on it. Remains to be seen: prices are below pre-bubble prices here, but it’s a nice house in the quietest part of the neighborhood, and just this minute no obviously run-down houses directly abut it.

And let’s suppose M’hijito and I can unload the downtown house with a loss of no more than $52,000. I dispose of all but the most basic of my possessions, so it takes about $3,000 to move me up to the City. I’m left with net cash and retirement savings of $653,810. Not counting the remaining $10,000 of RASL supposedly coming my way, or the $14,000 emergency fund in the bank.

A 4 percent annual drawdown from this nest egg would come to $41,153; 5 percent would yield $47,690. My financial advisor says I have more than enough to last the rest of my life, even at a 6 percent drawdown, though that’s something I view with skepticism. So let’s work with 4 percent and 5 percent; add $15,000 of Social Security to those and you get a gross income ranging from $56,153 to $62,690. Subtract 23 percent for taxes, and you get a net of $42,237 to $48,270.

That just might provide enough to pay rent and buy food. Let’s check it out…

For the 4 percent drawdown, I posit a rent of $2,000 a month, which would get me into a studio or maybe a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco proper. If we subtract that rent from net monthly income and then deduct the expenses I can’t get out of—Medicare Part D, Medigap, and long-term care insurance—and then we subtract the estimated costs of utilities, does enough remain to live on?

That’s fifty bucks more than than I allow myself now!

Realistically, one isn’t likely to find a good apartment in San Francisco for much less than $2,500. That would require a larger drawdown from savings. At 5 percent with a $2,500 rent payment:

Think of that! I could probably do it. The place where I want to live includes basic cable service, so I might be able to engineer the DSL and phone through that. And given that most months I don’t spend $800, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that there’s enough play to cover unexpected expenses.

And that’s without any side income: no teaching gigs, no freelance assignments, no blog income.

It will take M’hijito two or three years to pick up the undergraduate requirements for a science degree and then get through the master’s. By then I will have established myself as the master of online courses at Paradise Valley Community College. If they’ll let me keep on teaching online no matter where I live, just that little bit of extra change would keep me quite comfortable in San Francisco.

And I know exactly where I want to live: in a historic national park. Yes. The San Francisco Presidio, an old military base, has been converted into a sprawling residential area, run by the National Parks Service. I would kill to live at the Presidio! O… M… G… I’ve loved that place since I was 12 years old!

The section called the Quarry has single-story two-bedroom apartments, wheelchair-accessible, for $2,425. The interiors are a bit on the military side, but with some adept decorating you could make it pleasant enough.

On Ruckman Avenue, you can rent in one of these places, with hardwood floors, remodeled kitchen, enclosed sunporches or verandas… A one-bedroom is $1,795, but the site says the apartments have basements, which presumably would give you room for office space or storage.

To die for. The Sanches neighborhood has two-bedroom apartments for $2,350. They look like regular old apartment buildings. But the price is right, and so is the size.

I dunno. I’d probably sacrifice size for charm, given a choice. The area where I’d really like to live is Baker Beach: $1,795 for a two-bedroom; and even a three-bedroom for $2,100. It’s directly across the street from the ocean, and the interiors are much nicer than any of the other affordable places. Unfortunately, they won’t let me keep Cassie in that part of the park, so that’s out.

Interestingly, you can get an employee’s discount if you work for any of the businesses on the grounds. So presumably once you got there, you could get in line to be considered for any openings that you could weasel your way into, thereby cutting the rent nicely.

In theory, if you lived in San Francisco you could probably dispense with the car. But I think out in the Presidio, you probably would need one. The Dog Chariot is a little big to maneuver in the City…but one could replace it with a Smart Car. The price is about what I’d get for my aging Sienna.


Get that degree, son, while I still have enough life in me to enjoy San Francisco!

What a Day!

Endless. It’s ten to eleven, and I’m finally coming in for a landing.

Up at 5:30: take the dog for an hour-long walk.
Feed dog.
Feed human, along the way cooking a bunch of sugary bratwursts to store in the freezer.
Water plants.
Write blog post.
Upload completed grade rubrics and comments to BlackBoard (online course software).
Enter grades for Eng. 101 portfolios in BlackBoard; mark attendance.
Figure out which Eng. 102 students’ grades will be changed if they score high on the final paper; prioritize these in rushed last-minute grading frenzy.
Realize this scheme will not work.
Write a blog post.
Calculate, record, and store 101 students’ grades, so they can be entered in the District’s online grading system quickly on Monday.
Start the laundry.
Read the client’s urgently needed copy.
Wash the dog after brain goes numb reading technical copy.
Read more of the client’s urgently needed copy.
Call the mechanic to make appointment for oil change; leave word on his machine.
Edit and reformat client’s complicated, highly technical table, the first of many to come.

Stopped around 5:30, truly brain-paralyzed after having sent the edited copy and table back to Author. At that point I decided I’d better wash the car before the sun goes down. This was a nice break—washing the van is easier than one would think, and now I’ll be able to see through the windshield again. It’s been a while since the road and I have caught sight of each other.

It occurred to me why it is that posting grades and all other activities that involve use of the Internet seem to take so damned long: one thing leads to another. No such task is ever straightforward and simple. Working with computers and the Net is a convoluted process.

Today, for example, two English 101 classmates, brothers who are both “A” students, dropped off the roster. Check the District’s system: they’ve been dropped for nonpayment of fees.

Say what? The college drops them for nonpayment of tuition three days before the final exam????

This eventuates a flurry of e-mails to the department, whose avatars know nothing, and then to the kids. Before long, a flurry of incoming e-mails hits: an outsourced contractor has screwed up an accounting update and accidentally expelled something over 400 students. They’re working on it. They promise they’re working on it!!! Please, please, please don’t send your students to Admissions and Records!

Dropping the brothers—plus a young woman from one of the 102 sections—causes BlackBoard to erase the entire semester’s grading record for the three students. It’s been a couple of weeks (mmmm…maybe more…) since I downloaded a BlackBoard backup, so if the morons don’t get this fixed by next Monday, and we do mean completely fixed, I am screwed.

At any rate…this is how entering 20 grades and 20 attendance points morphed into a two-hour adventure.

Moving on:

Wash car.
Discover dryer is dangerously hot. Haul blanket and towels to clothesline.
Squirt dryer with water from spray bottle to jump-start cool-down process.
Google “overheated electric dryer” to try to figure out what might be wrong with the thing.
Examine vents; see nothing wrong with them.
Brush and comb still damp dog.
Start dinner: set artichokes to cook.
Feed dog.
Figure out where on earth the money is going to come from to pay the $1,089.60 owed for Medigap insurance.
Calculate out a year and a half in advance to be sure removal of $1,089.60 from tax & insurance account will not break the bank.
Finish fixing dinner.
Write a blog post while food is cooking.
Eat dinner.
Clean up kitchen.
Finish, proofread, and publish blog post.
Take dog for walk.
Write this blog post.

And so, to bed… there to copyedit the other client’s latest crime novel before falling asleep.