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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

All over the place



About two and a half weeks ago my family and I moved to Cross Plains.  Now, that sound you just heard was the collective gasp of all of the Robert E. Howard fans.  Sadly, not THAT Cross Plains.  I’m talking Cross Plains, Wisconsin.  A little suburb located a few miles outside of Madison proper.  The rent is cheaper, the schools are closer, and the place has much more space.  Not to mention that it’s not the ghetto, like where we used to live.  So, that’s big news.

Then, the Monday after that move (on Saturday), I went down to the used car dealership where my wife had gotten her car a couple of years ago, just to look around.  They had a particular car I was interested in, so I decided to just take a gander and see what options I had for getting something new in the near future.  Well, it turned out that my credit score was a LOT higher than I expected, and I was able to get that car I had my eye on for lower payments (not much lower, but every bit counts), and $0 out of my pocket.  So, now I am jetting around in a 2009 Scion Tc, and loving it.

I was joking soon after that I seemed to be on a roll, and that maybe I should go ask my boss for a raise.  And, if I worked in the private sector, I probably would have done just that.  But, as a State employee, where my pay is based on my grade, and the whim of my legislators (including that massive douchecake, Scott Walker), it isn’t that simple.  However, my 5-year anniversary comes up at the end of next month, so when I do my review I plan to bring it up to my boss.

In the meantime, I have been looking and applying for other jobs.  The prospects are actually kind of slim if you want to make a decent living.  And since I’m not dumb enough to take a pay cut in this economy without a REALLY good reason, my choices are just that much slimmer.  Still, there is always hope.

I started my final class a couple of weeks ago.  It’s not actually a “class” so much as a preparation course.  After eight weeks of preparation, I will have to sit down with a proctor, and take no more than six hours to answer four essay questions.  Each one will be about one of seven classes that I took, but I won’t know which four I have to answer until the day of the exam.  I get to use no notes and no resources; just what I can pull from my scattered brain and horrible memory.  I’m not exactly very confident about this right now, but I’m going to give it my best.

I also have a backup plan.  Should I fail the comprehensive exam, I have the option to take it one more time, or take a capstone course.  I’m leaning towards the capstone.  Basically, I will have 16 weeks of guidance and help to write a 40-50 page thesis paper.  Honestly, that’s only about 16,000 words or so by my calculations (based on 325 words per page).  I wish I had taken that route to begin with.  Because I KNOW I can pull that off easily.

Anyways, it was nice to have a few months off from school.  I actually did some reading for pleasure.  I recently read the first two books in the Dragonlance Chronicles again, and loved them still.  I'm reading them as eBooks checked out from my library system, and volume three is not available for loan yet.  In the meantime, I finally read another Dragonlance book that actually takes place during that third volume, and it was pretty good too.

I’ve also started in on my goal to spend an entire year reading nothing but historical nonfiction.  I’m starting with a book about the Greeks, and will probably spend the majority of that year continuing to read different books about them.  Though I do have a book on Vikings that I want to read as well.  I figure, if I'm going to display the fact that I will have a Master’s degree in History, I might want to know a bit about the subject.

As for writing, I recently wrote a short story; my first foray into horror.  Had one of my friends read it, and he gave me some advice.  So, I’m going to do some revisions, and then see if I can find a home for it.  Still have a bunch of other stuff I would like to write.  And once this whole degree thing has blown over, I imagine I will be able to focus my energies a bit more.

All-in-all, life could be better in some ways, but it could be a lot worse.

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