Adding it up.

Off to Ann Arbor yesterday to do some work. On a book, no less. Not my book, someone else’s book. But still — a book. On the way home, I got a phone call, which offered more work. When I got home, another phone call. Which offered still more work. Hoo-boy, I actually felt like a person with a job yesterday, even if it is one that allows me to watch “The Sopranos” on Monday morning in sweatpants.

Nay, requires me to watch it on Monday morning. Because on Sunday nights? I’m working.

Being a freelancer is all about multiple income streams, don’t you know.

As I did my taxes this year, I estimated that, good-lord-willin’-and-the-creek-don’t-rise, I’m on track to match or exceed my last year’s salary as a columnist. The work I’m doing now is harder but more interesting, riskier but less predictable. There’s more juggling, more cold-sweat financial anxiety, but 97 percent less b.s. That’s gotta be worth something.

I expect I’ll be back to work in an office before too much longer — opportunities are starting to present themselves, and honestly, in this economy, in this business, having one member of a co-prosperity sphere working without a net, from home, doesn’t seem wise. I fully expect spousal health care benefits to either go away or become ruinously expensive within the next few years. But if and when I do go back to an office coffeepot and the rest of it, I’ll have the satisfaction of knowing I made it work the other way, at least for a while.

Yes, yes — I feel a song coming on — I did it myyyyy waaaaayyyyy.

OK, then.

What are you paying for gas these days? Filled up yesterday in Ann Arbor, at the chest-clutching price of 2.96 a gallon. And it’s only April — I suppose $3.50 in inevitable by midsummer, maybe even as much as $4. I love Detroit’s reaction to these events, which seems to consist mainly of adding to the greenhouse effect by vigorous complaining. Not that there isn’t comic relief:

“It’s not easy, but as soon as gas hit $2.80, I stopped driving my Lincoln Continental,” said Antoine Coleman of New Haven, a hi-lo operator in Detroit.

Now there’s an idea. (And I have no idea what a hi-lo operator is. Do you?)

As for me, warm weather calls for instituting the No-Drive Zone, roughly from Alter to Vernier and Mack to the lake, where I do most of my shopping and errand-running. From now until further notice, if the shopping and errand can be accomplished on a bike, it will. My cargo bags, last year’s Mother’s Day gift, were the best I’ve gotten in a good long time. I’ll keep you posted on how it works out.

The 100 Unsexiest Men in the World. Relax, you’re not on the list. But it’s a stupid list (Osama bin Laden? Richard Simmons?). Of course, it was written by TWO MEN. And it’s not a gay list (it includes Brad Pitt!). The irony is staggering.

Every time I consider getting a BlackBerry, I sit down, take a deep breath and consider: a) I don’t need one; and b) the idea of typing with one’s thumbs is stupid. Jon Carroll asks whether humanity is evolving smaller hands.

This guy says every newspaper editor-in-chief in the country should be writing a weekly column. I guess because newspapers need more columns written by uptight, frightened people who use “impact” as a verb (and “impactful” as an adjective). It’s a rule — the editor’s column is the best-read, and worst-written, column in the paper. No one fixes it because everyone’s afraid to tell the boss he or she can’t write. Once I told our editor he’d used the word “brackish” incorrectly. (He wasn’t writing about the paper, but his backyard fish pond. That’s another thing about editor’s columns: They should be about how we get the paper out, but sooner or later they all fall victim to Columnist’s Complaint and start writing about their backyard fish ponds. Or, worse, they try to make their backyard fish ponds a metaphor for something that happened at the paper that week.) He didn’t say, “Is there time to fix it? Let’s get it correct, then.” He said, “Really? Huh.”

Just so you know: “Brackish” means “slightly salty,” as in the water at the mouth of a river that drain into the ocean. It doesn’t mean “yucky.” And a disclaimer: The editor mentioned above wasn’t a terrible editor. He just wrote a pretty lame column; it’s, like, a rule.

And finally, NN.C’s comments are being spam-bombed. The filter’s catching it all, but so much is coming in that I’m going to the moderation panel and hitting “mark all as spam” and deleting them with a click. If you left a comment and it isn’t showing up, it may well have gotten mass-deleted. E-mail me privately or try again. UPDATE: J.C. installed a plug-in; if you have any problems commenting, let me know.

Posted at 8:15 am in Housekeeping, Media, Same ol' same ol' |

15 responses to “Adding it up.”

  1. brian stouder said on April 25, 2006 at 8:52 am

    Speaking of working on books, maybe there should be a minimum age requirement before an author gets published

    an excerpt –

    >>Kaavya Viswanathan’s “How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life,�? published in March by Little, Brown and Company, was the first of a two-book deal reportedly worth six figures. But on Sunday, the Harvard Crimson cited seven passages that closely resemble the style and language of the novels of Megan McCafferty. “When I was in high school, I read and loved two wonderful novels by Megan McCafferty, ‘Sloppy Firsts’ and ‘Second Helpings,’ which spoke to me in a way few other books did. Recently, I was very surprised and upset to learn that there are similarities between some passages in my novel … and passages in these books,�? Viswanathan, 19, said in a statement issued by her publisher.

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  2. Gary Moore said on April 25, 2006 at 9:04 am

    FYI, A hi-lo is one of those motorized contraptions that is designed to pick up pallets and the stuff that is piled on them. They look sort of like a small tractor with two tines of a very large fork jutting out the front. The tines go into the space between the top and bottom of the pallet. Hi-los are all over the place in factories, as well as a lot of warehouses.

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  3. Dorothy said on April 25, 2006 at 9:04 am

    I saw that story on the TODAY show this morning, Brian, just as I was leaving for the office. Why can’t dishonest people just open their mouths and CONFESS for Christ’s sake?! And apologize? Why does everything have to have another lie built into the aftermath? I think she anticipated getting caught one day and had this rationale all ready to plug in, once the truth was exposed.

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  4. Mindy said on April 25, 2006 at 9:06 am

    Last week my errands in a small area of the Fort gave me lots of options at the gas pump. One had $2.78, another $2.80, then up to $2.84 just down the street, up to $2.88 here, then $2.96 there. It was nuts. Lately I’ve been nursing the gas tank until my next scheduled trip to Angola since gas is often twenty cents per gallon cheaper there than the cheapest here.

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  5. nancy said on April 25, 2006 at 9:07 am

    Thanks, Gary. I thought those things were universally known as fork lifts. Now I know.

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  6. Laura said on April 25, 2006 at 9:22 am

    >> I fully expect spousal health care benefits to either go away or become ruinously expensive within the next few years

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  7. 4dbirds said on April 25, 2006 at 9:37 am

    $3.09 and I have a 45 min commute each way. Not sure at what point I’ll cry uncle and spend 1 1/2 hour each way on public trans.

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  8. Laura said on April 25, 2006 at 11:22 am

    Wow, that’s weird. My comments were cut off. What I said in repsonse to Nancy’s guess that her insurance will someday skyrocket, was that mine already had–almost $1000/month.

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  9. brian stouder said on April 25, 2006 at 2:01 pm

    My remark above about the n-n-n-n-nineteen year old(!) “author” was also arbitrarily truncated….but in my case, that is probably a good thing.

    Leaving that aside, and with apologies for another non-sequitur, I thought this was funny –

    an excerpt –

    >>After turning down offers to pose for the magazine [Playboy] in the past, Margolis said she accepted this time because she felt posing nude at the age of 40 is empowering. “In the past it would have been for gratuitous reasons,�? she said. Now, Margolis said, she is enjoying being the ultimate desperate housewife. “It will be fun to go up against the 20-year-olds and show them that they don’t have anything on me,�? she said.

    things that make a person go “hmmmmmm”

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  10. nancy said on April 25, 2006 at 2:55 pm

    Thanks for the feedback on comments, guys. Don’t know why it’s happening. But I’ll pass it on by to the tech boss.

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  11. Danny said on April 25, 2006 at 4:08 pm

    Yeah, Nance, everyone’s comments were also cut off from a few threads back when they were about to acknowldge that they agreed with me about everything. Weird…

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  12. alex said on April 25, 2006 at 5:02 pm

    Yeah, Danny, been meaning to tell ya that you’ve won me over. I don’t need to think for myself now that I’ve got you to do it for me. Instead I’ll direct my energies toward more important things like making enough money to pay for health insurance and gasoline and scoring enough brownie points with God to have better than second-rate accommodations in the great hereafter. Danny, you rock!

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  13. Joe Kobiela said on April 25, 2006 at 7:26 pm

    Found a new web sight for music called pandora. You might want to try it, type in a group, say the allman brothers and it finds and plays all music like what you put in.
    pretty cool.
    By the way I am paying anywhere between $4.32 and $2.99 a gal for aviation gas.

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  14. Connie said on April 25, 2006 at 7:57 pm

    Gas was $2.85 when I drove to work this a.m., and $2.95 when I drove home.

    As an employer providing health insurance, our health insurance premium costs have increased an average of 20% a year for the last five years. I am paying the full cost for the employee, but they have to pick up the cost of spouses and children themselves. Very few do, the cost is prohibitive. My board wonders how much longer we can afford to pay the full premium for our 74 participating full-time employees.

    I have a negotiated contract which also pays a big chunk (80%) of my family coverage, OK, not fair, but they were willing to match what I had to convince me to move.

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  15. brian stouder said on April 25, 2006 at 10:53 pm

    “OK, not fair, but they were willing to match what I had”

    Au contraire! Completely ‘fair’, I believe.

    We have an HSA, accessible by debit card, and I love that thing

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