09 October 2010

Mildly succesful, far too busy

Well, this week, all told wasn't especially successful, but I think I did come out ahead, in terms of capital. Well, in some senses:

Academic capital. I suppose I have less now. I didn't get into Discourse & Communication. I found a potentially very, very interesting postdoc, but it was limited to people who had their PhD in hand in September 2012, something I won't. I am thinking now that I might apply for that postdoc in 2013, if it's still available and try to do the ESRC project in 2012 or just work. We'll see what shakes out. The problem, I was explaining to Yoko, is that I have too many interests in my research. It's like I will apply for 5 different things (all VASTLY different) and just do the one that works out.

Financial capital. I had the dreaded MOT for our car this week which includes a test of the 'safety' of the car and has now found serious problems both years I've done it. Last year I put about £530 into the car to get it through the test (and have a couple of other issues resolved). This year I was hoping for around £350, but when I got to the garage, the guy suggested that I didn't do a full service, but rather a half one, saving me about £120. Great, I thought, but I knew that I needed to replace the front brakes, so any break was welcome.

Anyway, I got a call at about 11:30 and the guy's like,

There are four issues for the MOT: three of them are lightbulbs (no problem!) and one of them is the exhaust (uh...). You have a major leak in your exhaust (uh...).
'How much is that going to set me back?'
Well, you're looking at £350 altogether, he said.
Well, all things considered, it's not that bad.
'And,' he says, 'You need to replace your brake pads and discs. How much do you drive?'
Not a lot?
'Well, you might be okay for a couple of months. Maybe 3 or 4 if you're lucky.'
And how much will that be?
'About £230.'
Crap.
'But it can wait.'
Well, that's something I suppose.

So I put £356 into the car, but it is seemingly running more smoothly and having a good mechanic who isn't out to screw me (too badly) is a really nice thing.

Sorry more about the car: around this time of year (and the same time of every two years in Japan when you have to do the same sort of test), I start thinking, do we REALLY need a car. The answer is always, Yes, we do, but no, I don't. But I am not I anymore: it's been a while since it was just I and my scooter. And that life was miserable, so I shouldn't complain at all. A car is a small price to pay.

As I added up all that I have spent on the car this year and last, we are talking about maybe £130 a month, all told. That's not that bad, but it is out #3 expense (well, #4 if you count utilities and rent separately). One thing to look forward to: when I start paying city tax, that will become the #3 expense and I'll stop bitching about the car.

Having a used car is like this, I suppose. Of the things that have broken on it, about £300 mechanical, bad car issues, but the rest have been just issues of wear and tear. Cars cost money. We are talking a little bit about getting a new car if we stay here long term: my dad, the man who knows about these sorts of things, tells me that a new car is cheaper than a string of used cars at around 10 years. Plus you have a new car for the first three years (then it becomes used, I suppose). Maybe I'll get a 'used' car that is like under 10,000 miles or something. Anyway, that's still way in the future: we have made the decision to drive this car into the ground at this point. Or until we leave the country, whichever comes first.

Sorry, a long way around to saying, that although I did lose some financial capital here, I was 'blessed' with a gift of quite a few essays to mark from Birmingham and, over the last year I've been doing it, I have increased my efficiency. When you see the same sorts of essays again and again, it becomes pretty clear what the issues are and you can write up a surprisingly detailed analysis in a very short amount of time. Also, I was asked to supervise another dissertation (this one at Middlesex), so I will get some extra pay for that. All told, the financial capital, despite the car, despite the dreaded trip to the dentist in two weeks (another tooth problem?), and our trip to Spain, I think we will get out of October in the black.

Relationship capital. Yoko and I went on a date yesterday: the first in what will hopefully be a string of them as Yoko's lovely friends have offered to watch the kids now and then. They don't want to be paid, but that makes it more of an issue, actually, because you can't just ask then: they're doing a favour for you. Anyway, we tried to get real curry, but the real curry shop was closed so we ended up at a nice enough faux Italian place that had like three people in it. After that, we went to the faux pâtisserie in the mall and had cakes and coffee and although I had been spending the day thinking about the US (owing to that postdoc I mentioned a couple of hundred words above), I ended up thinking, 'Why the hell do I want to go there: don't forget about Paris, dumbass!'

Health capital. This is where a loss or an equal amount is better than a gain. This week was full of pitfalls. Potluck on Tuesdayabout which I have already complained . Cake reception on Wednesday. Takeaway Chinese on Thursday. Tiramisu, pasta, eclair, and coffee on Friday. This, in the past, would have meant a sure gain, perhaps a falling off the horse entirely. I got on the scale this morning though knowing that I had maintained: although I had eaten those things, I had been fairly careful to eat, as Yahoo! news calls it, 'this and not that' (that is, substituting high calorie items with similar low calorie items: a small cupcake instead of another piece of millionaire shortbread, for example) and I hadn't, on any one occasion actually eaten too much (excepting for the potluck on Tuesday which I controlled for with a small dinner). Moreover, I actually enjoyed eating on Thursday and Friday, something that I hadn't earlier. So that was a success. And my weight today was 74.0 kgs, an all-time low but just barely, meaning that I am on the very negative side of maintainance.

So, a long time to say, this week was a wash. But I much better than it could have been.
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