State of the Jeremy, January 16, 2009

Job prospects are still slim for me as I write this. Even Target is on a hiring freeze now. So I decided if I can’t get a job I would volunteer. Today I stopped by ReStore -a Habitat for Humanity store, and was accepted as a part-time clerk and delivery driver. If all goes well, in a few weeks I might be cruising around Flag in an old U-haul truck picking up appliances and windows. They were thrilled with the idea and I’m excited about working there, too. I tentatively plan to begin next week.

The budget cuts are out in the open at NAU. I e-attended a budget presentation by President Haeger in December because I was interested in how they plan to run a university during a recession. At the December budget meeting he presented various scenarios with the worst-case scenario being a $10 million cut from the State Education Department. A $10 million cut would mean no new hires, larger and fewer classes, athletic and recreational cuts, tuition raises, and a freeze on tenure for experienced professors. Haeger was confident that $10 million was very improbable and projected actual cuts around $4 million. Total annual operating budget is around $500 million, and $170 million is planned to be spent on construction projects for FY 2009. News just in this week reports that actual cuts may exceed $32 million—far more than anybody predicted. I have no idea how this will affect me. I don’t expect many changes except fewer paid mountain biking trips and Grand Canyon rafting, no new tennis courts, and putting up with cold showers a little longer. If I come up with a bright idea to fix the budget, there are many people that would like to hear about it…

Tuesday I played tennis, Wednesday I was busy from 9 to 9; 5 classes and a Cycling meeting, and Thursday was just another day in the awesome land of Northern Arizona -as in cloudless blue skies and temps in the 50’s every day this week. It seems like there are many more people than last fall, the pedways are jammed in the mornings and busses are absolutely packed full. I ride the bus instead of bike sometimes when there’s snow or when I don’t feel like biking. One of my classes has 285 students; it’s like going to an IMAX movie where almost everyone has a laptop computer (generally using it for Facebook) or is texting.

My English class is going to be the most challenging for me. Assignments total 40 pages of essay content, and every student needs to write a complete Wikipedia article for the final exam. Campus dining is still good. I get generous servings of the three major groups of the college food pyramid -pizza, hamburgers, and ice cream- every day. No, really, I don’t eat too much junk food. I love having fresh fruit available: watermelon, fresh pineapple, apples, grapefruit, bananas, and oranges every day and there’s never a shortage of fresh greens. I must get busy again as I still have four subjects worth of homework to do. ‘Til next time…

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