On being a grown-up

One of my students asked me today how much I hated paying taxes, and I think I slightly blew the kid’s mind when I told him that I don’t mind paying taxes at all, because I enjoy living in a society and paying taxes helps ensure that. He didn’t press for additional details, but had he done so I’d have pointed out that there were probably examples of specific taxes that I wouldn’t be especially fond of, or taxing systems that I had preferences on, but the concept of paying taxes itself? No, I’m fine with that, and there are any number of reasons why I might, in theory, advocate increasing my tax burden with no argument. In fact, having voted for a tax referendum for our local public school system in the last couple of years, I have already done that.

Anyway. This is leading toward a humblebrag, so brace yourself as necessary. My tire pressure sensors have been acting concerning lately, and I have three road trips planned in the next three days, so rather than adding air to my tires for the second time in eight days and crossing my fingers I decided to swing by the local tire shack and have someone take a closer look at them.

And that ended up costing me $650 for four new tires. And that’s after a visit to the comic shop, and buying myself dinner, and a visit to CVS for certain supplies that cost me $60, meaning that I left work and looked at my bank account and thought damn, I did pretty well keeping my spending down this week, and then dropped eight hundred dollars in a little over an hour and a half.

This is where the humblebrag comes in: for the first time in my life, I don’t mind the tires at allto be honest, I wasn’t surprised when the diagnosis was “Well, you’ve got this giant screw in your tire here, so that’s the specific problem, but you’ve had this car since 2017. Have you ever put new tires on it?” I wasn’t certain that was what was going to happen, and I probably could have waited a few months if necessary, but I was able to look at a fairly substantial unplanned-for car expense and just shrug and pay for it because the money wasn’t going to kill me. Now, don’t get me wrong (he said, fending off the forces of karma), I don’t want any more unexpected $650 expenses anytime soon, but being able to just pay for that shit was nice.

The next couple of days are going to be busy– my wife’s aunt passed away and her funeral is in Michigan tomorrow, and then my nephew’s birthday party is in Chicago on Saturday, and we’re staying overnight for that so there’s a (shit!) hotel bill to pay for, but my classroom was a hundred and thirty degrees today so I’m happy to not be there for a couple of days. Hopefully Sunday will be relaxing enough by itself to get me through next week.

In which my timing is poor

I discovered two things on Friday: one, that not only had my job already been posted, but that my district had actually managed to announce my resignation before I got around to telling anyone about it. The school board has to approve all hires, which makes sense, but they also have to approve resignations and terminations, which makes a little less sense, and it turns out that the agenda for the next meeting got posted on Friday, and … oops. I got a couple of “What the hell is this?” type of emails and had to hurriedly compose a group email to everyone who I might have told in person. I didn’t tell the whole staff, just the teams I work with, but schools being what they are I’m sure everyone in the building knows by now. I have to tell the kids on Monday, and I’m not looking forward to that at all. The next few days are going to suck pretty much no matter what I do.

The second thing? I’ve talked about what a nightmare class coverage has been around here, and I believe I’ve discussed the fact that I ended up picking up two extra sections of math classes, meaning that I am responsible for roughly 2/3 more students than I am supposed to be. Now, I’m getting paid for both the class coverage and the extra math classes, mind you. I have receipts and everything because I made absolutely sure to get shit in writing before I agreed to do it.

And, well, I took a few spare minutes of my time and added up exactly how much class coverage I’ve done since school started.

With two days of school left before I leave forever, I am owed five thousand six hundred and seventy dollars for all the class coverage I’ve been doing. And I get paid on the 20th, and I should have at least one more paycheck after that if not two, but I can smell fuckery afoot, and I decided to get ahead of the issue by emailing my boss and asking her to confirm for me that that money would be on my last couple of paychecks, because I hope no one is foolish enough to think I’m just going to leave five and a half grand on the table. You owe me a hundred bucks? I might not make a stink. $5600 is more than I currently make in a month, and I will be getting my money.

Come to think of it, I need to check and find out how my summer money works too. I don’t remember what happened the last time I quit these guys back in 2016, but they ought to owe me another couple grand for the funds they usually hold back for summertime too.

Also, it’s been definitively established that I can’t start at the other place until November 10th, so I’m going to have a nice little between-jobs vacation. I should come up with a project. Other than yelling FUCK YOU PAY ME at HR flacks, mind you.

OK, Zoomer

The following is a true fact: I am an Old. I have written before about how I’m at an age where I straddle the line a bit between Gen X and Millennials; my preferred nomenclature is the Oregon Trail Generation, but that’s not exactly what the cool kids call it. All that said, one thing I definitely am is Old. Yes, the oldest Millennials are old now. They have mortgages– some of them, anyway– and cars and kids and are starting to worry about paying for their college, and whether debt is going to be declared inheritable before they die.

Anyway. My wife and I were out doing some running around today, in two cars because one of the jobs involved bringing the last carload of stuff that we’re keeping back from my father-in-law’s apartment, and I told her that I was going to stop at a local gaming shop that is up by his place. The place is far enough away that if I drive past it I’m probably going to stop, just because I’m not up there very often. Anyway, I puttered around for a bit and decided to buy something and got behind a couple of high school-aged kids who were also checking out. Both of them, as it turns out, were buying card booster packs of some sort; Magic, I think, but I’m not sure and at any rate it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the booster packs were expensive, and I heard the cashier quote a hundred and seventeen dollars to one of the kids, who pulled a handful of twenties out of his pocket, counted them carefully, and handed them over, receiving his change in the expected fashion.

And then the whole world went sideways, as the kid looked at his friend and said “I love these things. The money doesn’t come out of my account, so it’s like I’m not really spending anything.”

There was a moment of frozen silence. The cashier, a man of about my age, made eye contact with me, as both of us realized at the same time that this young man had just used the construction these things to refer to twenty dollar bills as if they were some sort of exotic and rare form of shell- or bead-based barter, and I don’t think either of us really knew what to do for a second. The kid’s friend saw the look we shot each other and also saw that I was either having a stroke or trying not to laugh, and rolled his eyes at his friend without saying a word and ushered him out.

I walked to the counter and placed my purchase in front of the cashier.

“Credit or … these things?”, he said.

And then I ceased to exist.

Achievement unlocked

If you have been around a while, you might remember me buying this car. At the time I took a 72-month loan on it, which I’ve been told is an unwise decision under nearly all circumstances, but whatever. 72 months from the purchase of the car would have been July of 2023.

It is currently March of 2022 and as of today my car is paid off. $237 a month back in my pocket. Awesome.

I am still waiting for my student loans to go away, which is likely to take a bit longer, but will still probably be done by the end of the school year. That’s another $545 a month. After that I pretty much just have the house and a personal loan to take care of (and “take care of” is a bit of an understatement, if I’m being honest, as they’re both pretty sizable amounts) but once those two are dealt with I will be debt-free, and getting rid of the car and the student loans will make an enormous difference, especially since I’ve been channeling every spare dime into paying for the car for the last six months or so and don’t have to do that any longer.

God help me, but that almost feels like cause for optimism. Time for the entire frame to fall off my car!

New hotness, again

Pictured above: my original, loyal Das Keyboard, which provided me with seven years of service before something underneath the left half of the keyboard cracked while I was trying to fish a piece of debris out of it. Underneath: its replacement, which arrived today and is effectively the 2022 model of the same keyboard, except specific for my Mac and also featuring Cherry MX Brown switches instead of the Blues that were in the original keyboard. While I am a big fan of clicky keyboards, and Blue switches are the clickiest keys currently on the market, the fact that my wife and I are still frequently in the office together when one or both of us is in a meeting means that my preferred kind of keyboard is actually kinda rude compared to the standards of way back when I purchased it.

(Discovers, accidentally, that the crescent moon button in the upper right actually puts the computer to sleep. Whoops?)

Anyway, the media stuff has been moved to the top right there, away from the function keys, and I think I actually prefer the volume wheel, and the top layer of the keyboard is actually aluminum instead of plastic, and the riser that lifts the keyboard up to a proper angle is magnetic and has a ruler molded into it for some reason, but other than that, it’s still a keyboard! I’ve only typed the words you’re seeing on the screen right now with it, so it’s not like I’ve put the thing through its paces, but it’s not like it takes a lot of breaking in to decide if you like a keyboard. Mechanical keyboards are still the way to go for me, and I hate wireless keyboards– this one also has a USB 3 hub built into it, so that’s an improvement too, but it means the wire is required– but the key travel and bounce are both pretty damn good and the sound, while not as loud, is still pretty pleasing, and I don’t feel like I’m making a lot of errors while I’m typing, so everything’s doing what my fingers expect them to be doing. I just took a couple of typing tests and they came out at 85 and 91 wpm, which is a trifle slower than I’m used to, but it’ll do.

It is possible that I have made my last student loan payment. Not guaranteed yet, mind you, but possible. My loans have officially been consolidated, meaning that the current worst case scenario is that my payments are eventually around $330 a month instead of the $545 I’ve been paying since 2005. Since the government has my loans now, I’m automatically part of the suspension of payments program that’s been going on for the duration of the pandemic, so I won’t have to make that first payment at the new amount until May.

However, my application to have my loans forgiven through PSLF has already been submitted, too, and that’s supposed to take no more than 90 days for the full review, and once that review happens they’ll find that I’ve made well more than the 100 required qualifying payments. Loan payments start back up on May 22 (assuming that the program isn’t extended again) and that’s more than 90 days away. So while on paper I still owe a shitton of money, I’ll be saving those payments for the next couple of months (and putting them toward my car, which I expect to have paid off very soon) and the loans may very well be officially gone before I actually hit the day where I’d have to start paying the reduced amount.

This … is a real big deal. Real, real big.

Juuuuust in case you’re somehow not aware of it yet, I’ve got this little streaming the video games thing going over on YouTube, and I just started this cool little game called Dandara: Trials of Fear, so if you haven’t checked the channel out you have an exclusive chance to click on this link and then go be my 115th subscriber. C’mon, you know you want to. Even if you don’t really use YouTube all that often. Hell, especially if you don’t use YouTube all that often, because then it doesn’t even throw annoying videos you don’t want into the feed you’re not looking at. Go check it out.