Monday, April 21, 2014

Personal Life Update: There’s A Reason for Everything.

Stopping Power

I got in my car one fine 20-degree day in February and found that I had lost a big part of the "umphf" when pressing on the brake pedal, overnight. I drove slowly until I had the opportunity to visit Wal-Mart and get some brake fluid. When filled up, some of the pressure returned but it wasn't back to max. I tolerated it for a month. Then when I opened the hood the next time, I saw that the front of the brake fluid reservoir had been drained completely, but the back still had a fair amount of fluid. The back flows into the front somewhat, but they are kept separate, so that if you get a leak in one of your brake lines, you don't lose your brakes completely.

This is a drawing I made in Photoshop, once I figured out that I just had to hold "shift" and click with the brush tool to draw straight lines. I don't want to talk about how the "first draft" of this image turned out. 

I now have brakes! And it only cost $200 per brake line replacement (the front line was replaced as well, because "it's about to go, too, any moment"). Phew. Not exactly a minor expense, but if anything's worth fixing and not putting off, it's your brakes.


I did my taxes, and here's the simplified summary: you can either get itemized deductions, which is payback from the government based on how much you spent on certain special expenses, like education, childcare, etc. OR you can get the "standard deduction," if your itemized deductions don't amount to much, and this is about $2500, if I recall. I didn't have nearly that much money taken in taxes, so essentially at minimum wage I qualified for a full income tax refund (but sayonara to Medicare and SS taxes, those are gone forever), amounting to about $800, which wasn't too shabby. Too bad half of it's already gone because of the brake issue, heh heh.

Charitable Donations?

If anyone knows, feel free to leave a comment: from what I read on Turbotax as it walked me through, it seems as if you have to get a written acknowledgement from any charity that you actually did in fact donate money there, a check or bank statement isn't sufficient. This sounds weird, but I've never made such a donation before, although I intend to this year. Is this what I have to do/what everyone does? I send a letter with my check, asking for a reply letter affirming the receipt of my donation? Odd but if it's standard fare, I'm game to get the tax refund for the donation. Secondly, is it a 1-1 refund, or are you repaid cents on the dollar? And is it the case that refunded student loan interest is some factor of what you paid and not the whole sum, also?

Just Like That, They're Gone

Two of the best employees at work have gone. One was a recently-divorced single mother of three kids, and she took a $10/hour starting job at a gas station. Nearly a $3 jump, or 7 years' worth of raises, if you consider that at every 6-month evaluation at work, provided you're not given a positional promotion, you can get a max raise of 20 cents or so. Good for her. The other guy had a double major, one of which was in accounting, and he now works at the town newspaper, getting $12/hr and vacation benefits among other things. So with them gone, I'm feeling motivated to not stick around for the sake of unambition. The newspaper guy implied he'd gone to 30 interviews before getting this job offer, so he was busily going about looking for alternatives the whole time he was working at the store. What would be wrong with me if I remain content with a pittance for excelling at everything just like they did? If Corporate won't recognize valued employees, they won't have them for long. Mind, I'm not disgruntled. I'm just stating the reality. In my perception, I've waited enough to give them a chance to promote me, and the warmer weather is making me restless. Time to take some action on my end and quit waiting around.

Concerning That...

I've finally updated my resume to my satisfaction, with the helpful suggestions of a few close friends, who re-formatted it so it had a neater look and fit more information on one page. Now that that's not holding me back, it's time to find places to put it. And hopefully it won't take me 30 interviews, but if that's the model to follow, I'll use it as my mental guideline.

~ Rak Chazak

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