Friday, December 18, 2009

Jack of All Trades

There is a saying that someone may be a Jack of All Trades. Another version says, "Jack of All Trades, Master of None." Maybe the second one fits me best lately. Since I retired in March I have done several types of odd jobs to make a little money.

I didn't really look for a job for several months, but once I started looking I didn't do much finding. It's not that there aren't lots of jobs out there, but many don't pay much or require specialized training and experience.

I have applied to be a a secretary with the school district, a small business advisor, a grant auditor, a software customer service rep and a couple of other positions I don't remember anymore. Needless to say, I did not get any of those jobs. In fact, I haven't even had an interview for anything yet. Age discriminaton may be a factor, but for every job posted there are usually dozens of applicants. What I really want to do for a living is be a writer, but that market is equally hard to enter.

When I retired I knew that my retirement income was not large enough to support us, but I have always intended. As the funds run low, I find myself doing what I believe my Grandpa did most of his life, he took odd jobs whenever they were offered to bring in money. I don't think I could name one thing he did that I would actually call a career, though he was a sheepherder for awhile in his younger days.

I have followed my Grandpa's example lately as I have done a number of things. I have been a stage hand, taking apart an audio/video display for a convention. I have done yard work raking leaves and trimming trees. At one house I put up the Christmas lights and will probably take them down again after the holidays. Home preservation gave me several odd jobs hauling off 1.5 tons of pipe and other debris, boarding up windows and doggie doors and securing unlocked doors. One of my latest endeavors was to assist a piano mechanic in overhauling a baby grand piano to lubricate 3 hinges for every key.

You would think, from the time spent on it, that setting up a ham radio station was my part-time job, but even when I do it for friends it's only a hobby.

I'm currently watching for an opening at the university as an advisor in the language department, but I'm still at the point where I just don't know what I want to be when I grow up. Maybe that's the problem. Once I grow up, maybe I can find something.

You've got to grow old, but you never have to grow up.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Absolutely Divine

On my Improbability Trough blog, I wrote about the Divine Within and giving. While giving to others is great, there are few thrills to compare with the thrill of the hunt.

My wife and I started Black Friday at 3am. Fifteen minutes later we were in a line at Target. We estimate a minimum of a hundred or two people in front of us. The line went behind us about twice that number. An hour later an employee came down the line. We actually remembered him from last year. He asked us what we were there to buy and we told him. Oh, yes. There were plenty of the item we were there to buy. Only three people in front of us were after the same item. That was our large purchase. We also found all of the lesser expensive gifts we sought to buy.

The rush started. I don't mean the rush of shoppers, though that, too, started. I mean the shopper's rush of getting that goodie you wanted to buy. The only other rush I know to use as a comparison is the rush of winning a prize, something we do often. Whether it's endorphins or adrenaline, I can't answer, but I like the way it feels.

From Target we headed to half a dozen other stores, making repeat visits throughout the day. You have to prioritize. If an item is on a two day sale, you have to leave it for later. You must keep to a meticulous schedule to get the sales that will end at 11am. Some items were very inexpensive, most, actually, on my budget, but you still have to plan your route to get those inexpensive gifts at the inexpensive prices.

I think that at the end of the day we saved about $600. Contrary to what you might think, we did not spend much more than that same amount. We nearly doubled our value in buying. Lest you think we go way overboard for Christmas, my in-laws and grandmother-in-law all send checks to us before Christmas. We do all the shopping for our family for them, wrap the presents and put the labels on from them. They think that is well worth the price to avoid all the shopping and wrapping.

After Black Friday comes Cyber Monday. Once again we found a few more deals we didn't find in Friday's ads. Christmas is almost ready. Decoratins are going up. Purchases are arriving as scheduled in the mail and we still have over three weeks to go.

What a rush!