Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Broken habit

Once upon a time I used to write a blog post every day.  Sometimes more than one.  Sometimes I would cheat a bit and pre- or post-date the post by a few hours.  Occasionally I would miss a day.

My dog died and I kept on posting.  My father died and I kept on posting.

My house was robbed and I got knocked off track.

Part of that was a deliberate decision.  I was probably oversharing things about my schedule, giving too much information about when I would be at work and when I would be away, information that potential burglars might, in theory, find useful.  (Ironically, my house was robbed on a day when I was not working, near the end of a longish stretch when I had been laid off and had been spending an until-then unprecedented amount of time at the house photographing the Saturn-Mars-Venus trio.)

Part of that is a direct consequence of the robbery.  Even though my homeowner's insurance - which will probably have a higher premium next year, thanks to the robbery - will cover the cost of the window and the copper pipes and (I think) the more than 10,000 gallons of water that flowed into a floor drain, there is still the matter of a $500 deductible.  Add in the cost of having a security system installed (which was done last week, after a lengthy audition process), and the monthly monitoring of the system, and the extra little alarms and locks and other security devices I've installed around the house, and it becomes clear that the collateral costs of responding to this robbery exceed the cost of replacing the stolen pipes themselves.  (As for how much the scumbags who robbed my house got for the pipes they stole, I probably spent that much on my first trip to Lowe's for alarms and locks and wire mesh and lag screws - and I've made several more trips since then.)

But all this requires money.  And for the last few weeks, I have had a marvelous moneymaking opportunity opened to me.  It's called "overtime."

Here's how it works.  My company laid off a huge number of my fellow employees back in August, including a bunch of people who did what I do.  Things were slow, so they also temporarily laid off a lot of us who weren't permanently laid off for the first few weeks of August.  (That was when my house was robbed.)  But then things got busier sometime in September, and they now needed more employees than they had to get the work done.  (There's also the matter of filling in for employees on sick leave and vacation.)  So since that time overtime has been available.

Overtime will pay time-and-a-half for every hour that you work over 40 in a calendar week.  Say you're working a 36-hour week, which happens four weeks out of every eight when you work a four-day-on, four day off twelve-hour day (or night) schedule*.   Your fourth day of work - your first day of overtime worked within the same calendar week as those three days of a 36-hour week - will pay straight time for the first four hours, and then time and a half for the next eight, giving you fifty-two hours of pay for forty-eight hours of work.  (This is also the starting point for any four-day week; your last day is paid at time-and-a-half after the first four hours.)  The second overtime day (or first, if you started with a four-day week) within the same calendar week is pure overtime, an additional eighteen hours of pay for twelve hours worked, for a total of seventy hours of pay for sixty hours of work. Your sixth day worked in the same calendar week will get you eighty-eight hours of pay for seventy-two hours worked, and your seventh day (if you can manage to get it) will pay one hundred and six hours in exchange for a mere eighty-four hours of your life.

I need the money, so I'm taking as much overtime as I can get and can handle.  This past week that was two days.  Maybe at some point in the future I'll try for three.  Of course, every penny I'm earning is already spoken for, courtesy of the robbery and my response to it and veterinarian's bills and accumulating credit card debt.  And in the very near future I'm looking at being permanently laid off.  I should be conducting a job search now, and actually got a job suggestion from a local politician back at the Blogger/Politician Mixer a few weeks ago, but I've been too busy with overtime and house-related stuff to do anything like that.

Or even to blog. 

I miss blogging.  I miss doing my daily posts.  I miss keeping up with all of my fellow-bloggers, and I just realized that even though I have read everyone's current posts, there are many other posts from the recent past that  I haven't caught up with.

My house now has a monitored security system, so that's one set of stresses that have been slightly alleviated.  Homer, I believe, is on the mend.  And whether I like it or want it or need it or not, overtime will not last forever.  (Nor will my job.)  Someday I may get back into the habit of doing a post a day.  Someday soon, I hope.

*Rotations that begin on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday are 36-hour weeks - these three rotations actually cover four calendar weeks with three twelve-hour days each.  It doesn't sound right, but try working it out for yourself on a calendar and you'll see that it's true.

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