Friday, August 22, 2008


This evening I did a redesign of my homepage, away from the Facebook design which was outdated anyways. Every since I went the "lifestream" route I felt like I was just creating content for the sake of creating, and not for any meaningful reason. This redesign is intended to focus me back on weblogging for communicating with my family and friends, and for writing about the city I live in and what goes on here. This also means I'm effectively shutting down the Public Transportation weblog which was fun while it lasted, but which I'm too busy to justify updating anymore.

I started working on Monday and have been very busy with lots of new meetings in my role as department head. My department is full of interesting personalities and I think we'll have a great year, but the administration of the school is a real mixed bag of visionaries that I want to model myself on and people that frustrate me to no end.

I've got a big decision coming up. The school is coordinating with Oklahoma University to arrange a ME program at our school over the next two years. Participating in the program is very attractive to me because it would equip me with a lot of skills that I miss every day as a teacher, and because the company is dangling a small but helpful financial aid package in front of our noses as an incentive. Still, the program would be a significant investment in terms of money and time, would mean postponing our tentative plan to buy a car next summer, would require me to make a longer commitment to the school, and doesn't fit exactly into my future career plan. With the second kid coming and Jodi starting a weekend program at ECNU, the ME is starting to seem less and less practical. It's a fork in the road that leads to two very different outcomes. A decision isn't due until December, so I've got a while to think about it.

Speaking of money, last month I finally drew up a budget and this month we've been trying to live by it as closely as possible. Well, it's the 22nd of the month and we're over the budget by RMB 2000, which is not disastrous because it's still only the first month on the budget, half of the overrun came out of the rainy day account, and we still spent less than in the last few months. What's really painful is that there's a list of half a dozen things in my mind that I'd like to buy (starting with an eeePC) that I've pushed onto the "someday" pile because I really want to hit the spending targets we set for ourselves. It's hard when your friends are playing with new iPhones and I can only cringe and bear it when the taxi to Jodi's check-ups costs RMB 70 one-way. I suppose it's because John already has an apartment and the other John is off to be a FSO any day now, so it makes sense that we have different spending allowances. Still, not fun. Hopefully after months of saving our planned vacations and car purchase next year will make it all seem worth it. Even then, I don't see a house in our future for many, many years.

I got an emergency translation job yesterday that I turned around in less than 24 hours, which I'm pretty happy about.


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