One of the things that I hate doing here at JerseySmarts.com is posting random entries. However, as you may have noticed October was a choppy month for consistent updates on the blog. There are some good reasons for this – most of which you’ll read about right here on the blog in the coming days and weeks. For example, I had one hell of an experience getting my Honda Civic fixed at the local dealership’s repair shop. The experience was so completely out of control, that I began writing about it last week and I’ve crafted an entry that is, I think, pretty damn entertaining. You should look for that entry coming at some point this week.
In addition, I’ve been reading through some of the books that are taking up space on my bookshelf and, obviously, you should look for a few book reviews coming in the next few days/weeks. And hey, at least one of these reviews is for a book sent to me from a professional wrestler’s publishing company so I could offer some commentary on the piece. Pretty cool, huh? Here are some other things that I’m working on that may not receive their own entry on JerseySmarts.com:
- Sigma Pi Educational Foundation: I make no secret out of the fact that I donate my time, talent, and whatever treasure I can scrounge up to the Sigma Pi Educational Foundation. With respect to that “talent” portion of my contributions, since August I’ve been heading up the Foundation’s strategic plan study group. This duty has allowed me to work closely with some of my fellow Trustees as well as some volunteers – all of whom are looking for a better, stronger way forward for the Foundation and Fraternity alike. Earlier this week we held the last focus group conference call which capped a two and a half week period of these types of calls – many of which I was on for over an hour. I’ve compiled a preliminary, raw data report and sent it out for the study group’s review. Later this week we’re going to have another conference call and then I’m going to spend some time compiling a final report to the entire Board of Trustees. However, the work isn’t over yet. In a few weeks I’ll be heading to Nashville, Tennessee to present our research findings and then to lead the larger strategic planning process with the entire Board of Trustees. This process will be capped off during the December/January time frame and then, finally, I can take a breather on this stuff! By the way, click here if you want to make a small, 100% tax-deductible donation to support the Foundation’s scholarships.
- Preparing for a Family Night: Over the last few weeks, I worked with my brothers and future sister-in-law to plan for a family night and dinner for my Mother’s recent birthday. We had the family night and dinner last night and it was a lot of fun, I think. In fact, one of the best things to come out of last night was a family discussion about reducing our excess spending on Christmas this year because, frankly, we’re all working towards specific financial goals that require a dedicated planning effort on our parts. It was a great conversation and a great conclusion, I think. Plus, spending the night with the family for dinner to celebrate my Mother’s birthday was a great time!
- Financial Planning Roadblock, Courtesy of NJHESAA: I’m not sure yet, but I might spin this little blip off into its own entry to mimic an entry that I wrote both one month ago and many months ago. The long and short of it is that I sent a $1,000 payment to NJHESAA on Monday, October 18th. The check was finally posted to my account on Thursday, October 28th. But that’s not what has me completely frustrated and aggravated with this anti-customer service organization. What bothers me is that I sent a $4,300 check to NJHESAA on Tuesday, October 19th and here we are on Saturday, October 30th and the check hasn’t been posted to my account yet. What the Hell is NJHESAA waiting for to post my damn check?! This isn’t hard, NJHESAA – I know you have the check now post the damn thing to my account for goodness’ sake. I can’t wait to be done with this miserable, horrible organization. NJHESAA could learn a thing or two from the United States Department of Education about customer service and making the student loan repayment process easier for the borrower. Because, at this point, NJHESAA’s payment processing system is borderline ineffective which tells me that there has to be some incompetent people working there. What else could bring on a nearly two week delay?!
- Financial Projections and Forecasting Stunted: As you might imagine, because of NJHESAA’s inability to process a check with any semblance of efficiency, my financial projections and forecasting has been stunted for the last few weeks. For a guy who checks each of his accounts both in the morning and at night (and sometimes in the middle of the day), waiting for these bozos to post this check is torture. I’ve been adjusting my projection models by $4,300 every time that I go in there and make a move. It’s annoying. I have a lot of financial goals that I expect myself to achieve in the coming weeks, months, and years and with my ability to precisely project when my dollars will be posted to various accounts, it makes planning for the immediate future very difficult.
- Bizarre Indian Summer: I’m not going to spin this out into its own entry because it’s short, but if you live in New Jersey then you know that we had this weird Indian summer hit us in the last week or so. Before the mini-heat wave hit, I went out and purchased a radiator for my bedroom and it’s awesome! It actually warms up the entire second floor of the townhouse – can’t complain about that at all!
- Beginning to Complete Coursework: Some of you may remember that I’m actually enrolled in an independent study course at the local college where I teach. Successfully completing this independent study will give me a Public Relations Specialist certificate. Not too bad, huh? I’ve read through the material for the course and, once the final strategic plan report is completed for the Foundation (see above), I’m going to aggressively complete the required coursework for the independent study. I’ve decided that this is going to be the last course that I take for a while since it will complete the certificate program. Also, I don’t want to go back for more education until my life calms down just a little bit (which I think is coming within the next two years, thankfully).
- Grading, Grading, and More Grading: It’s midterm season at the college where I’m an Adjunct Professor so you know what that means – grading time! But it’s not only grading time for the class that I teach in the face-to-face setting. It’s also grading time for the classes that I teach for the online college. I’m thinking of asking the online college to reduce the number of classes that they assign to me – they’re giving me two or three each month and it is so incredibly time consuming that it’s painful sometimes…
- Some Consistency at the Local Gym: Hey – I’ve been going to the local college gym at least once each weekend for the last three weeks. Not bad, right? And now you know why I’ve been able to read so much in the last few weeks – I’ve been on the treadmill. I’ll be heading to the gym tomorrow morning before the trick-or-treaters start knocking on my door. While my results at the gym haven’t been overly impressive (I’m not necessarily losing a bunch of weight – a pound here and there maybe), I am pretty pleased that I’ve been able to make it there one day each weekend during a very busy, crazy time for me.
- Unending Projects at the Office: Hovering above all of the stuff written above is the fact that I have a pretty busy, increasingly stressful day job. Part of that stress comes from the person that manages my department and her mood swings, part of that stress comes from a changing workplace that expects the existing employees to transition to a new organizational structure without officially telling us what that structure will look like (or interviewing us for new positions), and part of that stress comes from the daily grind stuff that needs to be completed day in and day out that is made harder by the fact that my particular department is well-understaffed and thus we all have to do four/five different jobs each. And when you add in the fact that I’ve been doing a lot of the communication work for the organization – you can see how the stress builds up. Very annoying and, frankly, until this day-to-day stress goes away (which better happen soon), I think some of the other goals I have for my health and finances are going to be hard to achieve.
- Changing the Face of Usable Web Solutions, LLC: Thankfully, after months of trying, I’ve successfully spun off one of my last remaining problem clients. Sure, the client screwed me on the way out the door, but I’m so excited that this client is gone that I don’t even care any more about the screw job. Whatever. Removing this client effectively removes more stress from my life and, ultimately, makes Usable Web Solutions, LLC a stronger, better organization. And with that, I’m beginning to change the nature of this small business. In the future, I’m going to focus on websites that are owned by the company and bring in advertising revenue because, honestly, that’s where the money is in this online business stuff. Going out there to find independent clients is not the way to find success in the website world.
- Barnes & Noble’s New NookColor: Here’s a quick item for both the “Watch What You Say to Customers” and “Buyer Beware” files. For some awful reason I’ve been researching e-readers lately. I don’t know why – I love reading an actual book and I really don’t like the setup or arrangement of the e-readers that are on the market. But still, I began researching them and decided that I wanted to buy a Barnes & Noble Nook. However, something told me to wait. I wasn’t sure what it was that told me to wait, but I think it had something to do with the good voice in my head constantly shouting that I had dozens and dozens of physical books in my home that I haven’t even read yet! So, this buyer was wary of the products on the market and didn’t buy. Then, lo and behold, the NookColor is introduced and now I want to buy that thing as soon as possible (probably early next year once the inevitable glitches have been worked out). But the “Watch What You Say to Customers” file comes into play here because, just days before the NookColor was released I asked the guy at the local Barnes & Noble whether or not a new model was coming out and he swore up and down to me that, “We’re not Apple – we don’t have a new version of the product each year.” Oh yeah? Really? Hmmm…
There are a few different items that I’ve been working on that I didn’t think would find full entries on JerseySmarts.com. However, this stuff may be of some importance to a few of you so I hope that you enjoyed reading!