my world of work and money


I think I usually make this post around tax time, but I kept good track of money stuff last year (thanks Excel, and USAA website) so it’s easy enough to make now. Without giving actual numbers, this is where my income came from last year. Nothing too surprising except that the library sliver is teeny. Interestingly, it’s not that I worked so much less at the library on an hourly basis but that the jobs pay so much worse. Working at the library pays about 30% of what working at the high school pays. I decided that my library job was going to be my public service work for last year, so I donated all the money I made working at the library directly to the food bank. I’ll probably do the same this year.

My MetaFilter job now comes with health insurance, a 401K and all those other “normal job” perks. It’s a little strange to have a job that is largely invisible to most people, but I muddle through. I passed my five year mark at the new year and got a gold star next to my username as recognition. And then some random MetaFilter person sent me a pen set anyhow.

I’m trying to do less travelling for work this year, something I did fairly successfully last year. I’ve got two trips to Austin and one to Connecticut lined up. I’ve picked up a few more volunteer jobs, possibly against my better judgment. I’m teaching some classes for the Vermont community broadband project. Natural fit, right? Unfortunately, there’s this reinventing the wheel aspect to the whole thing that I find maddening, I’m trying to be the change I want to see in technology instruction, but it’s an uphill climb. I’m reminded of one of the inside jokes we have on MetaFilter, when you see yourself (or someone else) again doing that same old thing that drives them crazy and expecting different results….OH LOOK SISYPHUS THERE GOES YOUR ROCK AGAIN. I’m also the web editor for the VT 251 club which has so far been delightful.

My book (available April 30th) which has so far paid absolutely nothing is in the copy-editing stages. Like all nerdy types, I’m not really a gracious editee but I’m doing my best to just power through it and not turn into a fussy irate special snowflake dork. It’s going okay.

Holidaytime wound up okay which I attribute to my decisions to make tiny presents for people and to bring slice and bake cookies everywhere I went. Could it be that simple?

Aussie details – nitty gritty boring to all but the most OCD

So, I’m getting to the point that I can reliably wake up before noon and this makes me happy. I wasn’t always able to do this before I left even, so there is improvement. I like to keep track of minute details of my trips. The good news is that Kate does too. This is just one more reason we are great travelling companions. We have a color-coded Excel spreadsheet of all of our trip expenses. I’d offer to email it to you, but I think Kate may not want people to know how much she spent on her Koala Glamour Shot.

I know that a lot of people dont go to Australia because it’s spendy and time-consuming to even get there, but I figured I’d toss out some numbers about our trip in case they help anyone think that a trip like this would be within their reach. Really, you should do it. Some things were expensive, relatively speaking, in Australia: internet, fancy coffee, soda; many other things weren’t: lodging, library cards and food.

I booked the whole trip via It turned out to be cheaper for the sort of trip we were taking [flying into one Australian city and flying out of another] to fly out of Boston and back into Manchester New Hampshire. The tickets were $1800 each. Not chump change, but in a dollars-per-mile, not crazy either. We flew the overseas part of the trip via Qantas who is really the only airline I would consider making that trip with, though I have heard that Air New Zealand is also sort of great. They gave us socks, toothbrushes, late-night cocoa, early morning apples, popsicles and just generally didn’t act like they were going broke just ferrying us around which is how I feel when I usually fly US airlines. You can’t pick your seats beforehand though, which is nervewracking. However, I mentioned that I have tinnitus and really wanted to be far from the engine noise and both times we wound up seated together someplace nice.

My inside-the-country tickets were purchased online direct from Virgin Blue while they were having a sale. We got from Perth to Adelaide and then from Melbourne to Sydney for something like $500 US for both of us. This includes the fact that I mistakenly booked one of the flights a month early and had to change my reservations (which I could do online, simply and easily). All of my travel was reimbursed by the people I was working for which was nice. However, they paid me via wire transfers which all wound up $25 under due to fees (I realized this once I got home) leaving me $50 under for the trip. Annoying, but how do you fix that? The exchange rate is about 80 cents US to $1 AUS.

We stayed various ways and places. One of the groups put us up in the Hilton early on, then we stayed with a friend, then we stayed in caravan parks and hotels on the road trip, then we stayed at a YWCA Hotel in Sydney. Quality and prices varied a lot, but we found that we could find a nice place that slept three for between $90-120 US. Of course internet would cost anywhere from $30AUS/day to $10AUS/hour to not being available at all. New amazing discovery was which is a powerful search engine for finding last minute deals. When we were in a jam we actually used it to make Sunday night reservations at 9:30 pm on that same night and it worked great.

My biggest non-usual expense was postcard and stamps and internet. Kate paid more for birthday presents for our Mom and the aforementioned Koala shot, but all told, I think I spent less than $50/day, total and Kate spent even less. We got some holiday money from our folks which allayed some of that, and stayed with friends and travelled cheaply, but we didn’t share rooms with backpackers we didn’t know, and didn’t eat rice and beans for any meals.

The bigger expense is really the time. It was 30+ hours from door to door both ways. On the way there it was more like 38 for me because I took a bus to get to the airport. I’m never one of those people who says “well my time is valuable!” when people want help or when meeting runs long. On the other hand, you really have to be ready to hunker down and wait for a trip like this. The major part too is the week after wuzzy-headedness that is just now starting to really go away for me. I’m going to sleep before sunrise now but it took a while for that to really work. Here are a few other notes and numbers from the trip.

Number of new library cards: 2
Number of credit cards blocked because I used them in Australia: 2 (aka all of them)
Number of bags I brought: 2 (same as in November)
Boxes of chocolate I was given: 2
Number of MetaFilter meetups I went to: 2
Number of librarian get-togethers I went to: 3
Number of libraries I went to: 8-10 (do rest stop libraries count?)
Tins of syrup I brought with me: 3
Number that were tasted by the customs guy: 1