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Jenny in Florida

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Jenny in Florida last won the day on August 29 2018

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About Jenny in Florida

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  1. Good for you for being brave! Most of my goals are either fuzzy ("keep doing at least as much walking as I already was") or long-term ("finish three more graduate school classes") or both ("pay down at least as much debt as I did last year"). So it's kind of early in the year to attempt a progress report. I am supposed to be complete a full-series read-along, and having read one short story and one novel and started the second novel, I am slightly ahead of schedule on that. Also, in order to meet my goal of 45 books this year, I need to average between 1 and 2 books per week. So I'm more or less on track there, too. It's early days, though. My new semester started last week. I've turned in my first assignments in both classes, which is also progress, albeit teeny. So far, so good on the walking/exercise front. I got a Fitbit for Christmas, which has made it almost too easy to keep an eye on that. (I've taken to calling he Fitbit my "little purple overlord," LPO for short). The debt thing is not off to a good start. My husband had to go to California for a family funeral, and in the name of expediency I had him put the whole trip on a credit card. I'll pay it off quickly, but it's not a super promising way to start the year.
  2. Well, I don't do resolutions, usually choosing instead a few areas of focus in which I want to accomplish certain things. And I don't intend to name 52 of either. However, rather than splitting everyone's attention by starting a new thread, I figured I'd post my goals here. Reading: Complete the 2019 Parasolverse Read-Along. I happened to pull out my "Who doesn't want an exploding wicker chicken?" t-shirt to put on today, and I was idly thinking it might be fun to re-read all of the books in chronological/story order. Coincidentally, I opened my monthly e-newsletter from the author and discovered that her fan group had already decided to tackle that project in preparation for reading the new book due in August. The list also includes the novellas and short stories, which I haven't read before. I'm technically starting late, since we were supposed to have read the first short story by today, but I downloaded the PDF and plan to catch up ASAP. In addition, after a lackluster 2018, during which I read fewer books than I have in any recent year (which I attribute largely to spending a lot of the hours I might have been reading in a normal year to doing schoolwork), I'm aiming to split the difference between 2017 and 2018 and read at least 45 books. Educational/Professional: Finish the graduate certificate I started in August. It's a five-class series, of which I have so far completed two. I'm taking two more in the spring semester (starting tomorrow) and hope to take the final class over the summer. In the meantime, I also want to figure out what is next for me on the educational and/or professional front. I'm feeling uninspired at work, but also unwilling to leave for a variety of reasons. I have managed to put the whole quandary mostly on hold while working on the certificate, but once I finish that I will need to again begin dealing with the question of what's next. Personal/Financial: Keep up with my walking and exercise and do more where I can. Pay down at least as much debt as I did in 2018. There are two accounts that are due to zero out around the middle of this year, and I plan to direct the money that was going to those to making extra payments on other debts. The longer-term goal is to have us our of debt (with the exception of one student loan that I started paying on only this past year) within four years. Reading over those feels pretty uninspiring compared to goals I've set for myself for the last few years, but the reality is that I've reached kind of a holding pattern in some ways. I can't expect to make huge headway job-wise this year, since I already reached the goal of getting a full-time, benefitted job; and unless something unexpected happens to fall into my lap, I can't expect to make the kind of gains in salary that I've pulled off for the last few years, either. Same thing is true for my personal/health goals; I'm already pretty consistently doing about as much exercise as my schedule and health can accommodate. In previous years, I've had goals for things like travel, but between school and some family stuff, it's not realistic to put that stuff on the list this year. So, I guess I'll stick with the above.
  3. Jenny in Florida

    Most efficient way to learn PowerPoint

    I realize in retrospect that my comment sounded condescending, which it absolutely was not intended to be. I actually was trying to say that I needed those hours to do the work in PowerPoint, even when the content wasn't terribly challenging.
  4. Jenny in Florida

    Most efficient way to learn PowerPoint

    Hmmm, well the series of classes I teach at the library is about four hours in total to get folks from not knowing how to navigate the ribbon (menu system) through basics like creating slides; adding text, images, tables and charts to slides; working with themes . . . basics. We don't cover any of the design best practices, just the how-to of actually using the application. And the students don't create anything independently, just follow along with a scripted exercise. I don't know if that will be helpful, but it's the only yardstick I can think of. I will say that I, too, am taking graduate courses. Last semester, I had a class about using multimedia in education, and I had a few assignments that required me to create PowerPoint presentations of varying complexity. It's possible (probable) I over-thought those assignments, but even with my pre-existing knowledge of the application, I devoted a pretty good number of hours (like, double digit numbers) to some of those assignments. So, while you may be able to get a basic working knowledge fairly quickly, I would recommend making sure you have a good understand of the requirements for this project so you know what you are shooting for in terms of mastery.
  5. Jenny in Florida

    Most efficient way to learn PowerPoint

    I was already a pretty secure PowerPoint user and didn't need this particular series, but when I was getting ready to jump back into the workforce, I did several of the tutorials from this site and found them helpful. Here's the current version for PowerPoint: Also, I always have to put in a plug for seeing what your local library offers. I'm a technology trainer in the county library system here, and we offer free classes in the whole Office suite, including PowerPoint. For those who aren't able to make it to in-person classes or who prefer to learn at home on their own schedules, we also offer free access to, which has video tutorials on pretty much every techie application you can name. So it might be worth taking a look at your local system to see what resources they have for you.
  6. Jenny in Florida

    Wedding expenses and expectations - past and present

    Well, I got married almost a quarter of a century ago, so the specific figures won't be meaningful. However, we did a lot of frugal and DIY stuff, in part because we had no help from family. I designed our invitations and orders of service and got permission to print them after work hours on the office laser printer. We had our ceremony at our then-church, but we used a small small rotunda that was used as a meeting room, rather than the sanctuary (which was was more space than we needed for our small wedding, anyway). I had been a founding member of the church's choir, so the group and the directors provided all of the ceremony music as their gift to us. I made my bouquet, one for my attendant and the ones we used to decorate the sanctuary with fake flowers. We bought simple boutonnieres for my husband and his best man from the same florist. My dress was from my favorite designer, but was $300 from the bridesmaid collection. We had the reception at our apartment, which was walking distance from the church. We had just moved in and didn't have a ton of stuff yet. We rented a few tables and some chairs and tablecloths. My husband had worked part-time for a local florist a few years before, setting up the store's stereo and computer systems, so the owner gave us a great deal on renting large potted ivy plants. We tied a bow around each one and used them as centerpieces on the tables. For food, we did a dessert buffet, much of which I made. I made our cake, which happened mostly because I couldn't find a reliable baker in town who could/would make a wedding cake that met my dietary restrictions. But it was definitely a bonus that it also saved a ton of money. We also put out a big fruit tray with various dips and bought a platter of cookies from a cafe where we sometimes hung out with friends. My husband made tapes of music we loved to play during the reception. All in all, we spent right about $3,000, which included a brief honeymoon of two or three nights in Atlantic City. I have two regrets/things I would do differently if I were to do it over: I would hire a photographer or at least recruit a reasonably competent friend to take photos. We went with the then-trendy idea of handing out disposable cameras to guests, and we ended up with not one single decent photo. When we got them developed and realized how dire the situation was, we decided we would get gussied up in our wedding attire and go get some photos taken at one of those cheapy mall studios "once we caught our breath." However, as it turned out, I was pregnant within a month of the wedding and didn't have a prayer of fitting back into that dress. So, that was the end of that. I would hire a couple of folks to be in the venue (even if it was our apartment) to set up the food tables, to replenish during the party and then to clean up after. As it was, I ended up rushing into the apartment five minutes ahead of our guests and going directly to the kitchen to frantically start pulling the pre-prepped food out of the fridge, snagging off plastic wrap and arranging the food on the tables. When my choir friends figured out what I was doing, they all rushed in to help, of course, but it was awkward and stressful. Then, when we were ready to head out (in the limo we rented for a discounted rate because we got married in the evening on a slow day and needed it only for a one-way trip), my poor mother-in-law got stuck with cleaning up. Again, friends stayed to help, but I still wish we hadn't left her to deal with the mess. Other than that, not much I would do differently. We were very happy with the quirky and very personalized vibe we created and proud of ourselves for creating exactly the wedding we wanted at a price we could afford.
  7. For me, the answer is absolutely yes -- I am definitely happier when I feel productive. I haven't looked at the link you provided and so don't know if that particular vehicle would work for me, but having goals and meeting them is pretty much essential to me maintaining my sanity and anything resembling a positive outlook.
  8. Original Post: I remember posting in a thread about this time last year, and I was thinking of looking at what I said and reflecting on how I did. But I can't find the thread. I did find one about financial goals, but not the life goals one. Does anyone else have it bookmarked or anything? I did find the thread from last year: I finally settled on the following: Read more, and complete at least one "reading challenge." Complete enough continuing education to earn at least half of the points I need to renew the professional certification I earned in 2017. (I have three years, but I'm trying to "front load" so that I don't panic in the third year.) Pay down at least half of our credit card debt. Finish both of the long-term fiber arts projects I have planned, and look for ways to start putting "out there" some of the things I create. That last part is not necessarily specific to fiber arts, but might include things I've written or any other creative endeavors. I didn't exactly knock it out of the park. Reading this year was a complete fail. I believe I read even less than I have in recent years -- and I wasn't even consistent about logging what I did read. Nor did I complete any reading challenge. In my defense, though, I think it was focusing on tasks related to goal #2 that kind of got in the way of reading widely for pleasure. In August, I started the first two of five classes towards a graduate certificate related to the professional cert I earned in 2017. Completing those classes will also earn me points towards maintaining the professional cert. Edited to add: I just went and checked the handbook to see how the points for taking academic classes will apply to recertification, and it turns out that the two classes actually will earn me exactly half the points I will need to recertify. I have a couple of other small tasks I can list in other columns, meaning I will end the year with more than half of the points I'll need, meaning I can officially call this goal "met." I did pay down our credit cards and debt in general by a good chunk, keeping us on track to be debt free within five years. I don't think I quite hit 50% on the credit cards, specifically, but I'm still counting this as a win. I haven't finished either of the fiber arts projects. I'm close on one; the block-a-month throw should be completed in February. But I more or less abandoned the other one. I did better with the "out there" goal, exhibiting three small mixed media pieces at a community event. And I contributed a largish crocheted item that became one of the centerpieces of a collaborative fiber arts installation. So now I just need to decide on some goals for 2019 . . . What about you all? How do you feel you did with your goals for 2018?
  9. I have two classes: Instructional Development and Evaluation plus Planned Change in Instructional Technology. They are classes three and four of the five-course graduate certificate. So, assuming all goes well, that leaves one class for summer. Doing the two classes on top of working was a lot last semester, but I really liked the challenge once I found my groove. So I'm looking forward to the start of this semester. I'm also starting to ponder the question of what to take on next. I could, in theory, continue to a master's, but I'm not sure I want to go that way.
  10. Jenny in Florida

    Year End Review/Looking Forward - Day 28

    I'm trying to just chill out at work until I finish the certificate program I'm working on. If all goes well, that should happen late summer. After that, I don't know . . . I'll try to make something happen? I'm trying to figure out whether to place a higher priority on staying with my current employer -- where I love my co-workers and truly believe in the mission of the organization but am feeling bored and kind of stifled professionally -- or on making some kind of personal and professional progress that might require leaving this otherwise great situation. In some ways, I've never been happier in a workplace. After almost three years, some of my co-workers have become real friends, and I get genuine satisfaction out of using my talents and skills in service of a cause I care about. But, after almost three years, I'm topping out what I can do in the role and am frustrated by the lack of options for growth. I can't imagine leaving, and I can't imagine spending the remaining 12-15 years of my career stuck in this rut. Maybe my goal should be achieving clarity regarding what's most important to me.
  11. Jenny in Florida

    If you are in the US, what per-gallon fuel prices

    Orlando, FL, and I paid $1.99 on the way home from work today.
  12. Jenny in Florida

    Favorite presents (yours or someone else's)

    It really is pretty great. I've realized in the last few years that, possibly because of the way I was parented, I often have a bit of trouble trusting my memories of things. So, this was especially meaningful for me, having this evidence to verify that I hadn't just made up the whole thing. I may have cried a bit.
  13. It took me between two and three years, depending on how you count it, to climb from no job to a "real" full-time job. However, I also had a specific combination of circumstances that made things more complicated than they might have been. I had left my last full-time, professional-type job when I had my daughter in 1994. Between that point and when my son transitioned to a combination of online classes and dual enrollment in 2013, which effectively made me obsolete as a homeschooling parent, my only work experience was a couple of years of part-time retail at a theme park. The plan had always been for me to go back to work in some capacity after I had graduated both kids, so when we reached that stage, I started trying to prepare for re-entry. I should mention that my B.A. is in English, so not exactly a hot property, especially given that it was almost 30 years old when I started applying. The company I had worked for in that last full-time position had been purchased and eventually absorbed into a very large corporate entity. I had lost track of all of my former co-workers and was not able to track down anyone from that era who might have served as a reference. Much of my work before joining that company had been through consulting agencies, both of which had also closed or dissolved or changed names and ownership decisively enough that I was unable to dig up any potential contacts. Although I had done quite a bit of volunteering, mostly in support of my kids' activities and through our church, there were circumstances that made it unworkable to count on references or recommendations from those sources, either. And, just to make things more fun, I had student loans in default status, meaning my university was withholding my official transcripts. So, although I could prove I had a degree, I couldn't provide actual educational records to anyone who wanted to verify things like what courses I had taken or what grades I had earned (which came up surprisingly frequently with the kinds of employers and jobs I was targeting). I looked around and spent a lot of time with Google and took the first part-time, work-from-home job I qualified for, doing basic transcription. It paid an effective rate well under minimum wage, but it gave me something recent to list on my resume. From there, I signed on with At first, I worked a grand total of about three tutoring hours per week, but, again, it was recent experience that was related to the general area I wanted to transition into, a job that was in some way related to education. After about a year, by the time my son was graduating, I rewrote my resume to feature the current experience in a traditional, chronological format at the top of the page, with all of my previous, professional experience grouped (without dates) in a functional format. I sent that out to every strip-mall-type tutoring center in a 15-mile radius and was hired at a Huntington Learning Center within a couple of weeks. Again, it was part-time and didn't pay great, but it meant more hours of work each week. I dropped the transcription but kept the online tutoring, where I worked my way up a couple of levels, earning slightly higher hourly rates and higher priority in selecting the hours I wanted to work. I continued to juggle both of those jobs, along with occasional other short-term or side gigs (tutoring a neighbor's child, scoring standardized test essays, teaching online literature and writing classes for homeschoolers, etc.) for a couple of years. At some point, I set my sights on getting hired as a technology trainer in our county library system. I watched their jobs page and applied every time there was an opening for that job or the one just below it. It took me four tries, but I was eventually called in for an interview and was hired part-time, with a guaranteed 24 hours per week, a consistent schedule and an hourly rate nearly 50% higher than either of the other jobs. I kept all three gigs for about six months, reducing the hours for the tutoring jobs to make them work around the library schedule. At that point, I got the opportunity to bump my library hours to 32 per week, and I ditched the tutoring center. A few months after that, I let go of the online job (because some changes in policy had begun to make it very unpleasant). Several months after that, I was promoted to full-time at the library.
  14. Jenny in Florida

    Favorite presents (yours or someone else's)

    My family did well by me this year, but my two favorites came from my husband and my son's girlfriend. My son's girlfriend painted two small pieces for me with images and quotes from a TV show we both love. My husband managed to dig up historical information about a place I remember being taken as a kid that I had not been able to find anything about in years of looking. I had seriously begun to assume I had imagined the whole thing. He found information verifying that it did exist, spoke to the daughter of one of the owners, acquired a vintage postcard with a photo of the place and put the photos, postcard and historical information in a frame I can hang on the wall of my office. It is probably one of the top two or three gifts I have ever received in my life.
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