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Archive for November, 2008

College on less than $150 a year

November 24th, 2008 at 07:47 pm

My sister is currently a sophomore at a community college here in Kansas. She is playing volleyball and is a Resident Assistant for her dorm. She has an academic scholarship that pays for books and tuition (which, if she didn't have this scholarship, her volleyball would pay for the same thing), her RA position pays her $300 a month to walk the hallways and lock/unlock doors a few times a week, and she gets the full Pell grant because my parents are poor.

She said after applying the Pell grant, she had to write a check for $10 in tuition/fees/room/board for this whole year. She did have to pay $130 in books that were workbooks instead of books that you could sell back, or those would have been included in her scholarship.

There are so many scholarship opportunities out there that most people would be amazed are offered. Sports (and if you are a girl, can walk and chew gum at the same time and WANT to play, there is a college somewhere that wants to give you money to play for them. Guys have a harder time finding these scholarships. Sorry to be politically incorrect, but its true), band, singing, art, cheerleading, drama, athletic training, rodeo, judging (like animal judging or plant identification), debate, etc., etc., etc.

Couple this with work study, and there is no reason you can't knock off at least two years of college with no student loan debts.

For my work study, I did a lot of different things. I worked for the publications office at our school, laying out posters, booklets, pamphlets, the college catalog, etc for print. I also graded papers for our lower level math classes once I got to be a junior and senior, and even taught some classes when the teacher had to leave on an emergency one time. I was a line judge for the volleyball team a few times, and washed our practice jerseys after every practice when I was a senior (I played basketball). I had friends that vacuumed hallways, worked for maintenance painting lines on the football field, worked in the cafeteria (the worst job ever, in my opinion), were office workers in the business office, librarians, ran the scoreboard and stat charts for games, worked in the athletic training room, etc. We got paid minimum wage for these things, but it was easy work, and the RA's were paid more.

These are just scholarships and money the school will give you. There are other, private scholarships as well. 4-H scholarships, community scholarships, church scholarships, Elks, Kiwanis, Lions, etc, they throw money at kids if they are hard working and community orientated.

Anyway, if you are willing to work at it, you can get money for school. Especially if you are poor. I admit, if you have parents that are more wealthy, the work study money might dry up and the Pell grant might dry up too. But the scholarships would still be there, and so would the RA positions.

This ain't far from happening, folks

November 19th, 2008 at 10:57 pm

http://www.theonion.com/content/news_briefs/supreme_court_upholds_bill

Supreme Court Upholds Bill Of Rights In 5-4 Decision

November 14, 2008
WASHINGTON—In a landmark decision Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court narrowly ruled to uphold the Bill of Rights, the very tenets upon which American society is based. "After carefully considering the relevance of the 10 inviolable rights that comprise the ideological foundation on which our nation is built, the court finds that these basic freedoms remain important for the time being, and should not be overturned," read the majority opinion authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy, who cast the tie-breaking vote. "Until such time as it can be definitively proven that citizens no longer require the protections provided by the Bill of Rights, it shall remain the principal legal guidance for the United States of America." The Supreme Court's latest decision comes on the heels of last month's 6-3 ruling to abolish the pursuit of happiness from the three inalienable rights guaranteed by the Declaration of Independence.

Thanksgiving week

November 19th, 2008 at 09:33 pm

Boy, I pulled a slick one today. For those who don't know, I work 4 10 hour days during the week, M-Th. Except, weeks that have a holiday I have to work 8 hour days. Next week, I get Thursday and Friday off. I am taking Wednesday as a vacation day.

So, I sent an IM to my boss's boss asking if I could work at home for those two days so I wouldn't have to drive down for only two days, and she said yes, if I'm not on call. Boo! I'm on call, but thought maybe I could work it out. I got a screen shot of the IM just to record the conversation. Now, I can be on call when I'm not around...I do it all the time (I just have them page my cell phone instead of the pager). But, she said that explicitly. I asked one of the guys I work with if he would CARRY the pager with him and I would still get all the pages on my cell phone and respond to them, but he is a dumb ass and couldn't understand that all I wanted was for the pager to not be sitting on my desk going off if I wasn't there to pick it up. He finally understood, but brought my boss into the conversation, so now she knows I'm "on call" but working at home, which is what her boss told me not to do.

So, I asked the other guy if he would switch weeks with me, and he said he would have to ask his wife, but that probably would work. Hopefully, it will work out so I don't have to drive down for two 8 hour days. That will save about $75 next week!

Wow. Just heard that Boeing is laying off 800 people here in Wichita. That is after Cessna and Hawker Beechcraft have had layoffs already. Case New Holland did too. This downturn is really hitting hard around here.

I don't know how I did this, but I have $125 left in my checking account and payday is tomorrow. And that includes paying $50 for rent that should have come out of another account. I still have to get gas tomorrow (less than $45)and something from Dillon's so that I can contribute to the Thanksgiving dinner at work tomorrow (maybe $15?) and probably stop and get some food and something for mixed drinks on the way home. This is the account that for almost all year now, I should have been overdrawn except I have about a $500 buffer in there in case of emergency. I've gone from about $400 "in the red" every payday (again, no overdraft fee, just red in my spreadsheet) just after the wedding to in the black now. Cool. From now on, whenever I have any left over in this account on payday (excluding the buffer), I am going to send that amount to the credit card, because that debt HAS to go.

What to tell the kids

November 14th, 2008 at 08:43 am

This month in Kiplinger's, Janet Bodnar wrote an article about how kids are going to be hearing all the doom and gloom of the financial news and the beginning of the article says that teachers should take this opportunity to teach the kids something about what is going on and why it happened. She says "in econ class, kids could debate the trade-off between recession and inflation.... In high school history classes, they could be discussing how Ben Bernanke & Co. have been greasing the skids with credit in order to avoid the mistakes of the Great Depression, when government sucked money out of the system. Middle school teachers, too, could inject a little financial literacy into social studies by pointing out that many consumers got in over their heads by borrowing easy money to buy houses they couldn't afford. And in math, students could use a compounding calculator (kiplinger.com/links/savings) to learn how it pays for young people, with decades to go before retirement, to buy stocks at today's fire-sale prices."

Stop right there. In MATH class they can learn how to use a COMPOUNDING CALCULATOR on a WEBSITE!?!? (nice plug for your own website, though.) What about teaching kids in math class how compounding works? What the formula is? How to figure different types of interest rates? How to figure different ways loans compound? How about teaching them how to make their own compounding spreadsheet, or amortization spreadsheet? How about teaching them how to THINK instead of how to look up on the internet someone else's solution?

Jeez. I didn't even read the rest of the article. I couldn't get past that comment.

copyright question

November 10th, 2008 at 09:32 pm

In the last year we bought a swather and a baler. The swather came with an operator's manual and a case to put it in, so it can stay in the cab. The baler didn't come with one, so I had to buy one on ebay. The combine book was eaten by pack rats this summer, and we haven't been able to find another one.

This brought to mind...would it be legal for me to make a copy of the book before DH takes it out to the tractor? Then, if he loses it, it gets dirty/muddy/eaten by pack rats, I have another copy of it I can print out? Is that copyright infringement? Or fair use?

If that is fair use, then would it be ok to scan it in and keep it as a PDF file on my computer? Then, if the pack rat eats it next year too, I can just print off another copy?

If that is fair use, then would it be ok to provide this service to others? They send me their books, I scan them in, send them a CD of the images and send the books back? They would pay me to provide them with a back up of their books. Books they currently own, and are just wanting to back up, but are too lazy/don't know how to scan them themselves?

Or is this whole thing going to get the copyright police knocking on my door?

what do we do now?

November 5th, 2008 at 09:25 pm

...fatalistic mood ahead...
My brother wrote me a text message today asking "so what do we do now? Stock up on guns and ammo?" DH and I actually were talking about what we would need to do if Obama was elected, and that was one thing we had talked about.

Energy prices are going to skyrocket. That we know for sure. Obama said in the past that he didn't mind the $4 gas, it was just a shame that it was so quick in getting there because we didn't have time to "adjust" to it. He also said he is going to bankrupt the coal industry, which means electricity is going to be much higher. I love how when gas prices are high, everyone says "just walk or ride a bike." Really? Sure, I can ride a bike 160 miles to work. I can pull the planter or drill with an ox team. I can cut the wheat with a scythe. Great idea. Now, how about be a little practical and remember not everyone lives in the middle of a city.

I told my brother that stocking up might be a good idea, and another one is pay off your debts and start saving money in case you get laid off.

Layoffs are coming. They are hitting around here hard. My company is laying off 5% now and probably 5% in 90 days. I didn't know this, but there is some kind of law that if you lay off more than 5% of your workforce, you have to give the employees a 60 day notice and pay the employees the whole time. If you wait 90 days, you can do 5% now, 5% later and it can be immediate (like, you don't know it's coming until you try to log into your computer and your login is disabled, so you call the helpdesk and they say "you need to talk to your manager"). Another airplane company is laying off workers (same...5% now, 5% later), and another has shortened their day to 3 day shifts. The lady I rent a room from said that if she gets laid off she's selling the house and moving in with her mom (both are single, and my room-lord takes care of her quite a bit) but her mom has a 3 bedroom house so I could rent from her as long as I don't get laid off too Smile

Here comes card check, too. No more secret ballot for seeing if you want to be in a union. Instead, intimidation will be the rule.

After that, every single abortion-restricting law in the country will be struck down. Including allowing underage girls to get them without parental notification, and no consequences for whoever got her pregnant, even though that is statutory rape. Including partial-birth abortion (Barbara Boxer actually said in a debate on the Congressional floor that the line of when babies should have the right to live should be when the parents are putting the baby in the car seat for the ride home. Don't believe me? Look it up.)

The Supreme Court could take a hard, hard turn to the left, and instead of actually looking at the Constitution, they could just fly by the seat of their pants and decide these cases based on fuzzy feelings and what "feels right" not if the law they are considering constitutional.

I am going to send my senator the book "War and Peace" and some throat lozenges so he can get his filibuster on. At least we still have that. I think. Or did Al Franken get elected? Makes sense if he did. Congress is a bad joke right now anyway.

Oh, and I just wanted to ask...has the price of bread gone down 25% since this summer? Because the price of wheat has. Remember that when you blame the price of the commodity for the food going up. There is hardly any correlation, just a good excuse to blame those darned farmers. They have such an easy job, don't you think they get paid too much?

Someone told me today "you had to have Jimmy Carter before you could have Ronald Reagan." Hopefully either the Republican party pulls their head out of their ass and gets back to being fiscally conservative instead of don't-tax,-but-spend-anyway idiots or a viable third party knocks them out of the way.

Funny how we had the worst post-election day plunge in the markets ever. Perhaps the market can see what is coming?
/fatalistic mood

Now, as for personal stuff...

I haven't really posted since we cut the beans. We got 35 bushels / acre...that was pretty much what we were shooting for. DH wanted more, I was just trying to be practical. At least we got them cut and they aren't on the ground like the wheat was after that hail storm! When we took those fields over this spring they were cockle burr patches, so this was pretty good for our first crop off of it.

Sold the wheat the other day. We got $4.90 a bushel for it. It was up to $14 or so this spring. We sold the first of it for $8.04 in July, and hoped that after harvest was over and we got to fall it would go back up to those levels. Great plan, huh?

We should be weaning the calves here any day now. I hope this weekend, but we've been saying that for about a month now. We'll feed them out for 2-2.5 months and sell them in January. Wow. I just thought about that. We should have done it last month so we could sell them this year while these tax rules are still in place. We don't know what will happen next year.

A friend of mine at work takes old cast off computers and refurbishes them, installs Windows XP and sells them for really cheap ($75 for the computer and monitor). The computer shells may have stickers or scratches on them, but they are better computers than we have at work on our desks, and almost as good as the one I have at home right now. Not a good "gamer" computer but it would do anything else you want it to do. He sells the computer itself for $65 and $10 for the monitor (a CRT, not a flat screen) We got one for my MIL, my mom bought one, the grocery store downtown bought one, and my sister got one. They paid me for them, except the one for MIL is a present. Mom, I don't think you read this, but if you do, don't highlight the next two sentences:
We got mom a laptop. All of us went in on it, and it was only $200.

We are going to try to get my dad a seat for his tractor. The one he has doesn't have any padding and it doesn't have any spring left in it. Think about how it is when your shocks on your car are shot...that is the same, but much worse (the fields are bumpier than roads).

As for money. Good news...we haven't had to use the credit card or the line of credit since August. We had a large coop bill due on October 31 and got that paid off (fuel for 600 gal. diesel tank, plus 2 115 gal oil and hydrolic oil tanks, plus normal pickup fuel, etc. = $6000), we have the tractor/baler payment due November 15 ($4767) and the farm insurance payment due November 24 ($1050). I got the other half of the CRP payments October 22, so that helped. Right now, we are about $2000 short for all of this, but, we have soybeans and milo to sell, and we have people who owe us for swathing/baling for them. We just have to get them to pay us by then. And we have some farm payments still coming our way. The first land payment of $9900 is due December 1, and that money is saved from when we sold the house in September. Too bad we don't have a few more houses to sell!!!

Indeterminant news...still waiting on the credit card transfer offer. Someone had applied for a credit card in my name and I had to put a block on my credit, so it is taking a lot longer to get this through than I thought. They needed a copy of my social security card and my address before they could process it, and I sent that in last week. Hopefully when I get back home, the approval letter will be there. Because if it isn't we are going to really be hurting (I have a lot on 0% cards and hopefully I can roll that over for another year).

Bad news...the house that is on the land we bought would take about $20,000 just to make it livable before we could even move in. We would have to do new windows and doors, a new roof and fix the foundation. before we could move in. After that, fixing it up to a house we would like to live in would be lots, lots, lots more. We think it will be better to just put in a basement somewhere else on the property and get a modular home, maybe a used one, maybe a foreclosed one, and move it there. That will be long term, though.