Mar 31

A piece of paper

Some things you just can’t appreciate until you’ve had to do without them for a while. That’s a cliche, but it’s also the truth. Take my word for it.
I got a paycheck today.
Probably the smallest one I’ve received since Ruth was a baby, but it was still a beautiful sight. My first earned income in nine months. Tangible, solid proof that someone is willing to give me money in exchange for my labors. Personal validation! I wanted to frame it and hang it on my wall — but of course I took it to the credit union and deposited it. I still have the stub, though, and I think I’ll hang onto that for a long time. In 1977, when I got my very first paycheck for my very first summer job, it never occurred to me to keep the stub as a memento. This time I won’t forget.
It’s just a piece of paper. Then again, so is the Bill of Rights. Or a marriage license. Or a birth certificate.

Mar 26

Jet lag

On March 10, I started a new part-time temporary job at a Raleigh healthcare company. Initially, I was working second shift, 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. The job itself was good news; the pay isn’t any better than unemployment insurance, but my unemployment benefits were getting close to being exhausted, and this will help stretch them out. It created some other difficulties, though. I had recently increased the amount of time I was spending on my job search and related activities (such as going to networking meetings) during the day, and when the job took over my evenings, I found that I had no time at all for anything else. (Now you know why I’ve been blogging so little recently.) I realized in the last couple of days that my schedule was not sustainable, and was trying to figure out a new strategy for managing my time.
Now things are changing again. Beginning March 26 (that’s today, since it’s past midnight), I’m on first shift, working 8:30 to 5:30. This is going to be a disorienting transition — I got off work at 10:30 p.m., and I have to be back at work at 8:30 a.m. I have to transform from a night owl to a morning person in ten and a half hours. (I’m guessing that large quantities of coffee will be involved.) But once I adjust, I will at least have my evenings back. It will be nice to see my family again. I’m going to have to figure out how to keep my job hunt going while working full-time, though. I’ll have to drop out of most of the networking events I’ve been going to, but of course there are evening meetings that I can now attend. And working full-time means I can earn more, stretching out the unemployment benefits even further. This is definitely a mixed blessing, but it is a blessing.
But this job is still temporary. At the stroke of midnight on the last day of May, it turns into a pumpkin. Well, I’ll just have to find a more permanent job by then. In the meantime, I had better get some sleep.

Mar 22


I’ve mentioned before that this site serves a dual purpose. It’s my blog, but it’s also my home page. By that I mean that in addition to posting my writings here, I also use this site to house the links to the other sites that I visit most often. That list of links over on the left side (what some bloggers refer to as their “blogroll”) is there not just because I recommend those sites to you (although I certainly do), but also because I read them regularly myself.
And as my blog-reading habits change, my blogroll evolves. Since redesigning this site a few weeks ago, I have reorganized those links twice, dropped a few because my interest in them had waned, and added new ones that I’ve discovered. For example, about two weeks ago I removed links to James Hudnall and Reason Hit & Run because I wasn’t reading them as much as I used to, and not enjoying them as much when I did. (This isn’t an expression of disapproval; they just have dropped out of my lineup of favorites. My blog-reading time is finite, and the less compelling blogs tend to get crowded out.) I added links to Charles Johnson, Russell Wardlow, and Tim Blair because I kept sneaking over to Stephen Green’s blog and using his blogroll to get to their blogs. And after reading Orson Scott Card‘s lucid analysis of the North Korea situation, I decided I wanted to keep an eye on his writings and added him to my blogroll too.
In the last few days, I’ve been doing more tweaking. I dropped Samizdata and added Susanna Cornett. I also added two sites devoted to news about the military action in Iraq — Breaking News: War in Iraq and The Command Post. I point this out not because anyone necessarily cares, but because these changes weren’t obvious, and those last two sites may prove useful if you’re following developments in the war.
My blogroll will continue to mutate whenever it thinks you’re not looking. I just thought I should warn you.
UPDATE: For example, since posting this entry earlier today, I’ve decided that the Breaking News site doesn’t measure up, and replaced it with CNN War Tracker.

Mar 14

Bloodletting redux

Last year, I complained that no information was available about the nutritional value of human blood. I was wondering about how to factor a blood donation into my Weight Watchers plan. (Do you get extra points for it, as you do for exercise? If so, how many?) Lo and behold, Cecil Adams has addressed this question in his latest Straight Dope column. Adams cites an article published in the journal Transfusion Medicine that includes an estimate of the caloric value of blood: 600 calories per unit. This means that a unit of blood is equivalent to 12 Weight Watchers points.
For vampires on the Weight Watchers plan, the implications are clear. My daily allotment is 25 points, so a vampire of my body weight would be able to consume two units of blood per day. Since an adult contains about five units, the dieting vampire would not be permitted to drain a human completely. But I suspect they don’t do that anyway; it would take too long. (Vampire lore is wildly inconsistent, so it’s hard to be sure about such things. Has Buffy ever established how often vampires feed, and how much blood they take from a victim?)
I want to emphasize that this is just idle speculation. I know the temptation to put two and two together is considerable, but I am not a vampire. It’s purely a coincidence that my new work schedule only requires me to venture out at night. Greg, Virgil, and Bob can testify that they have seen me in daylight, since I have lunch with them every week.
That reminds me — I need to put sunblock lotion on the grocery list. We’re almost out.