Leap Year Survey for 2008–The Results

If you’ve been a fan of this blog for a while (and I can’t imagine many people have), you may recall a post which I wrote the last Leap Year on February 29, 2008.

At that time I was 38, Anthony was 4 and still in preschool, and I was still happily employed at Learning Tree and making decent money.

My, how things have changed as we’re about to find out. Keep in mind that many of the questions in the Entertainment section dealt with who was popular at the time so if the questions seem completely irrelevant, that’s why. And to give you another idea of this, I mention MySpace in the original post and only joined Facebook 5 months prior. Kind of scary.

Anyway, here are the results from the Leap Year Survey 2008. Let’s see how well I did.

If single now, will you be married? (N/A)

If married now, will you still be? Yes
Result: True. It’ll be 19 years this year so things aren’t going to change.

Will you weight more or less? Significantly less
Result: True. I started my weight loss blog entries on March 24, 2008 and a few days later I weighed in at 251 lbs. As of this post, I’m at 209 lbs. and focusing more on muscle mass than overall weight.

Will you have (any more) kids? No
Result: True. And I’m glad that hasn’t changed. Anthony is a handful on his own!

Will you have the same job? No–they will be moved to VA by 2010
Result: True. While most of the jobs moved to Reston, VA, there are still some lingering here in California.

If no, in which profession will you be working? Writing
Result: False. I’m proofreading which is nothing like writing.

Will you be driving the same car? No
Result: True. I can’t recall what I was driving back in 2008 but I’m sure it wasn’t what I have now, which I got in 2009.

If no, what will you be driving? Luxury sedan
Result: False. I drive a sedan but unless you consider a used Ford Fusion Kia Rio a luxury car, this one is definitely wrong.

Will you still be living in the same place? Yes
Result: True. That won’t change.

If Britney Spears is still alive, how many total children will she have? 5
Result: False. She has 2.

What number husband will she be on? 6 (Currently on #3 #2)
Result: False. She’s engaged to someone who will be her 3rd sucker.

Will Lindsay Lohan make it to the next Leap Day? No
Result: False. She’s still lingering but barely. And who would have ever guessed Whitney Houston wouldn’t?

What about Abe Vigoda? Yes
Result: True. The man just won’t make those rumors of his passing come true.

Will 2Pac release another CD? Yes
Result: False. His last album, Pac’s Life, was released was in 2006.

Will your favorite artist (Depeche Mode for me) have won a Grammy? No
Result: True. While they were nominated for a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album and Best Short Form Music Video, they were snubbed again.

Will your current TV show still be on the air (in production, not syndication)? No
Result: Null. I can’t even think of what I was watching back then other than The Simpsons, and that’s still going. Could go either way, I guess.

Will you own a iPod? Yes (I’ve had one for 3 years)
Result: True. Each member of the family has one.

Will an “iPod Killer” be introduced by then? No
Result: Null. It’s hard to exactly say if this is true  for several reasons. For one, the iPhone essentially has an iPod built in to it, smartphones can do just about anything an iPod can, and who ever saw the iPad, Kindle Fire or other tablets coming? Even with all those facts, iPod sales continue to soar.

The DVD Format War may be over, but will the winner (Blu-ray) still be around? No
Result: False. Sales of Blu-ray discs also continue to climb.

If you blog, will you still be? Yes
Result: True. Duh.

Microsoft: Bankrupt or not? Bankrupt
Result: False. While they were having difficulties after Apple and Google got the smartphone wars going in 2007, they are by no means bankrupt.

Will hybrid vehicles still be all the rage? No
Result: True. Hybrids continue to be popular but many car manufacturers are making fuel-efficient vehicles that can get up to and over 40 MPG – at a significantly lower price, making them a viable alternative to hybrids.

Will satellite radio still matter? Yes
Result: True. It’s still around and with many fans and despite the SIRIUS/XM merger, it only started turning profits recently.

What major innovation will cell phones feature? Ability to shoot hi-definition video
Result: True. Many phones shoot videos in hi-def.

Cost of Living
The average cost of gas per gallon will be: $4.50
Result: False. As of this post, it is $4.25 but still climbing.

The cost of a single-day, adult ticket to Disneyland will be: $109 (Currently $66)
Result: False. They are currently $77 for kids and $80 for adults, single-park ticket.

The cheapest menu item at McDonald’s will cost: $2
Result: False. You can still buy stuff for around a buck.

The average cost of a base-model, entry-level car will be: $23k
Result: False. With people straying away from gas-guzzling SUVs, compact cars are making some headway. Most manufacturers offer a base-model, entry-level car for around $15k MSRP.

Well, there you go. It looks like I pretty much failed at this survey and as such, I’m not bothering with one this year 🙂

Moving On Up?

Toward the end of the my shift today, I got a text from one of the other proofreaders.

“Julie is here…RUN!!”

“Aw hell”,” I replied.

Julie, as she will be referred to in this post, is the HR manager of the staffing agency which employs your buddy Dave here. She is the go-to person should you have any issues while on the job, any questions regarding pay, etc. She is there for us.

She’s also the person whose presence around the office, especially when unexpected, immediately raises suspicions and causes nervousness as she totes the proverbial ax with her wherever she goes.

Two of my fellow proofreaders saw that ax today, which means were are now down to just a few including myself. While it’s never a good thing to see people being let go, we have to all remember that we’re all in the same boat and it can happen to any of us although some of us are less likely to be a victim.

As I was packing up to go home, Julie approached me and asked if I had a minute.

“It’s nothing bad,” she quipped. “It’s about the two positions we have open.”

In case you missed yesterday’s post, I pretty much have decided that my current position as proofreader will be the last one I ever have. I’m done with it and need to move on to something different; something that will keep me challenged and pay me a reasonable wage – a tall order in today’s economy.

In terms of job burnout, his was perfect timing.

While I told her I could stay a few minutes to discuss the openings, she said she’d call me on Wednesday. And she will – she’s very prompt and thorough. But before I left for the day, she gave me a rundown of the positions.

Neither will be in proofreading but in production instead. One is a long-term temporary position and the other a permanent gig.

So far, either sounds alright IF the pay is acceptable. It’s kind of stupid to let that be a deciding factor with the economy being what it is but I’ve seen what goes on in those other departments and it can be pretty stressful, so I would imagine that adequate compensation would come along with the job.

I’m definitely leaning more toward the permanent position for a few reasons. First, it’s permanent and the company has committed to leasing our current office space for the next four years. It’s guaranteed we will be there for that long.

Second, I will get all of the benefits that being a temporary contract worker doesn’t get me: medical and all supplemental coverage, paid days off, vacations.

The last thing I wanted to do was prolong my stay there, especially with gas prices reaching exorbitant sums and seemingly changing overnight. On the other hand I have the knowledge that they do appreciate my work and they all think I’m a real swell guy so while neither job is in the bag, I may have a good chance at getting one.

As for the two that were let go, it wasn’t a total loss for them. There’s a possibility the will be reassigned to other positions at our other campus down the freeway from where I work.

The life of a contract worker. The adventures never end…

Turning A Corner

In my last post, I created a nifty little collage of images that was based on the currently popular “What People Think I Do” meme.

Then I really got to thinking about what exactly it is I do for a living and realized how much I no longer want to be a proofreader.

That’s not to say that I never have. When I first got my start I thoroughly enjoyed doing it because up to that point, I was just another retail slave. Going from printing photos in a photo lab to working in an office proofreading and  writing articles for magazines that were published across the country was a quantum leap in terms of personal enjoyment, compensation, and my overall career.

And the writing I do here on the blog is fine and well because, let’s face it, I’m the boss and everything is up to me (except those things which I cannot control). Whatever I want to say and however I want to format it – the choice is always mine. It’s enjoyable and is my outlet at the end of a day, a day that is filled with 8 hours reading a variety of labels and Instructions for Use in multiple languages, none of which I can tear apart and reconstruct the way I wish I could.

I have been proofreading since 2003 and I believe that it has taken its toll. Additionally, it’s not something I can see myself doing in 10 or even 5 years from now. Heck, try 1 year.

To top it all off, my eyes sometimes feel like they are going to fall out of my head by the end of the day.

Taking all things into consideration, it’s safe to say that I think I’ve reached the end of my line as a proofreader.

The lack of personal enjoyment aside, the market for experienced proofreaders is ridiculous. I can’t tell you how many recruiters have contacted me regarding open (contracted) proofreader positions they had available. The contact is made, I send my resume, and then I either hear nothing or get the “Thanks, but…” e-mail or call. It’s an employer’s market and I’m nowhere near the top rung on their ladder of qualified candidates.

What makes me less attractive, aside from the obvious physical traits, is that I’m 43 with no college degree which pretty much makes me look like a loser when they open up my resume. I simply lack the required education for the available proofreading jobs and it’s not like going back to school was going to help me one bit. In fact, I have scrapped that plan because at this point, I would be wasting my time and money by taking whichever course I was considering: Technical Writing or Effective Business Writing, I forget which. I don’t even think I had my choice narrowed down yet.

Yay verily, it’s safe to say that my days as a proofreader are most definitely numbered – by my choice. For the sake of my sanity I’ve decided that my next job will most likely not be in the same field. If anything, I may consider a return to retail management or go off and so something completely out of my element.

In short, the time is right to move on and try something different. Going for a real estate license? Selling cars? Driving the tractor that picks up golf balls at the local driving range?

Who knows. Anything is within the realm of possibility at the moment.

What People Think I Do: Proofreader’s Version

There’s a meme floating around and I’d be quite remiss by not taking advantage of it.

Take note, however, that this assessment is based on my extremely limited capacity as a proofreader in my current position for a company that will remain nameless.

Click on the image for a larger version.


You like? Make your own at uthinkido.com but you might want to screengrab your image (like I did above) before you save it. Both of my copies were pixelated after downloading so I had to do them again. Lame!

Paying Up

one-hundred-100-dollar-billWe woke up to a pleasant surprise this morning: our tax monies were in our checking account! We had gotten them done last Saturday and we were told that the deposits would be made in 7-14 days with the State check being the first.

The real surprise was that both checks were in this morning.

We got a decent sum from both of our returns mainly because I worked all of 2011, when compared to 2010 when I only worked the last three months of the year and had to claim nine months of unemployment checks.

The difference was such that we planned to do the only reasonable thing with our return: pay off our credit cards.

During my time of unemployment, we had to make some sacrifices and skipping credit card payments was the norm. We paid what we could, when we could but the calls kept coming.

Naturally, fees got tacked on and before we knew it, the monthly payments were out of control and then the letters, calls, and emails starting arriving.

We put a sudden end to all of that today.

Aside from Ann’s Visa card, all of the others were specialty cards for places like Dell and whatnot. Ann called to take care of her cards while I was at work and I handled mine when I got home.

HSN stuck to their settlement of 60% of the balance, Old Navy was happy with the amount I offered to settle, and I talked Dell down from $1,500 to $900. Yes, I know our credit will take a hit but with all of these being paid, we have no more credit card debt.

Zip. None. The only thing we have are car payments, utilities, and a few other things like car insurance and our TV/Internet bundle. But as long as we don’t dig ourselves into another hole, we’re good as gold and will take some time to get rebuild our credit scores.

Part of the fun of paying off bills is calling and trying to get the issue resolved. Most of the time, the person who answers has no clue and will either transfer you to the appropriate department, where you will have to enter all of your information again – via voice or keypad – and be put on hold again. It’s frustrating.

This was the case with Old Navy. Ann had already called to explain everything and all they needed was my approval to settle. There was such a delay in the connection (to India) that I had to repeat almost everything I said and using Skype, the delay was even worse.

I had to repeat my name twice. When asked a third time, I sighed and with voice that resembled a radio personality, I proudly proclaimed, “Yes! This is David Moreno, the one and only.” The Old Navy rep laughed, even though I wanted to continue with “Every knee shall bow to his magnificence!”

Done and done. Paid. Then I called Dell.

Their original offer was a bit much so I countered with my own, which they accepted. During the process, as the rep was asking for my checking account information he asked, “Could you repeat your routing number, sir? My monitor just went blank.”

“Is it a Dell,” I sarcastically asked. I was met with a 10-second silence and I’m pretty sure I saw those daggers starting to come through my Skype line. I muted the line and turned to Ann, laughing.

“I really don’t think he liked that one.”

Meh. At the end of the day, everything is paid off.

And I’m sure the credit card companies will miss my sarcasm.

"Dude, your Dell account is paid off! Where's my bong?"