Stories indexed with the term ‘In it for the Money’

In it for the Money: Time with AT&T (Part 1)

Editor’s note: This column appears regularly in The Chronicle, roughly around the third Wednesday of the month. 

David Erik Nelson Column

David Erik Nelson

This installment of the column will be published in two parts. Mostly that’s because Nelson wrote too many words this month.

Listen: I’m fully aware that a healthy, employed man in a functioning industrialized democracy kvetching about his phone service is basically the canonical First World Problem.

In my defense, this is illustrative kvetching; c’mon, it’ll be fun!

I have AT&T for my home phone and high-speed Internet service. In September last year this service took a nose dive; suddenly my Internet connection would suffer hours-long periods of dropping, negotiating, reconnecting, then dropping again – a process that I could readily monitor, since my phone line was now so lousy with modem whistles that I could hear little else (although callers could hear me with crystal clarity, which made me sound somewhat prematurely demented as I hollered for them to speak up over all the damn noise). [Full Story]

In it for the Money: Going IMBY

Editor’s note: This column appears regularly in The Chronicle, roughly around the third Wednesday of the month. 

David Erik Nelson Column

David Erik Nelson

My first job out of college was teaching humanities at a Hippie School for Troubled Youth here in Ann Arbor. Soon after being hired, I attended a school mixer where the dean cornered me in the kitchen and explained that some trucks hauling radioactive waste were scheduled to cut through downtown Ann Arbor.

She suggested we go down and protest by lying down in Main Street and generally boondoggling things up and teaching those bastards a valuable lesson about hauling nuclear waste down our streets [1].

At the time I was lightly anti-nuke. I had been militantly opposed just a few years earlier – and even protested Fermi II in the early ‘90s, when it was in disrepair and operating with questionable regard for public safety – but had since calmed down and learned a bit more about the costs and benefits of various kinds of power generation [2]. Nonetheless, even in my decidedly less-nukes mindset, I was still struck with how backward this protest plan seemed.

It’s no secret that Ann Arbor is a sorta foot-draggy, NIMBY kind of town [3]. Most of us came here from somewhere else; we loved this quaint little town when we landed here in 1975, or ‘85, or ‘95, and we basically don’t want it to ever change (except for the streets getting cleaner, the stores better stocked, and the parking both cheaper and more plentiful – but for God’s sake don’t tear anything down or build anything tall to do it. Also, could you do something about those football games? So loud, and the crowds – UGH!). [Full Story]

In it for the Money: For Economy of Opinion

Editor’s note: This column appears regularly in The Chronicle, roughly around the third Wednesday of the month. 

David Erik Nelson Column

David Erik Nelson

Listen: Today I’m hoping to convince you that our opinions are largely a cost with no corresponding benefit, and that the vast bulk of these opinions are unaffordably expensive.

We’re in Ann Arbor, where any two folks seem to have at least three opinions on a given topic, so I don’t imagine this is going to go super well, but hear me through.

Before you rush to the comments, I wish to assure you that I am indeed aware of the irony of writing an opinion column about how opinions are maybe something that we shouldn’t reflexively whip out like Glocks in a cop film.

And, if that lil proviso doesn’t give you pause, maybe this should: The opinions I share today are the result of about 18 months of meditating on the underlying costs and benefits of sounding off; if you’ve likewise spent a year-and-a-half working through this, then please chime in.

If you’re jumping to the comments to put me in my place, I invite you to take a few minutes, maybe an hour, or maybe, I dunno, 550 days or so to stew on this before giving me a piece of your mind. I’m not coming to this lightly or flippantly, which is apropos, because it’s the way we rack up opinion debt with such spendthrift flippancy that’s costing us so dearly. [Full Story]

In it for the Money: Occupation

Editor’s note: This column appears regularly in The Chronicle, roughly around the third Wednesday of the month. 

David Erik Nelson Column

David Erik Nelson

Listen: Bank of America is a shitty neighbor.

To clarify, I have no beef with any specific retail banking location. The folks on Main Street (where I tread water on my mortgage each month) seem like basically good folks serving their clients in good faith. I have no gripe with them. I don’t even really have much of a gripe with Bank of America as an institution [1].

But I live next door to a house owned by Bank of America, and they are the worst neighbors I’ve ever had.

The previous owner, Mike, was a good guy; he occasionally had loud parties, but we were always invited and the food was great. Then, an hour or so after daylight savings time began in March of 2008, he was killed on the job while towing a drunk up out of a ditch along the side of an on-ramp. He had been single and had no will, so his house swiftly defaulted to the lender, Countrywide Financial (at that time the largest mortgage packager in the United States). Soon thereafter Countrywide collapsed, and the house was transferred to Bank of America [2].

More than three years later, that house is still empty. [Full Story]

In it for the Money: $150 Cash

Editor’s note: This column will appear regularly in The Chronicle, roughly around the third Wednesday of the month. 

I’m gonna level with you: I’m writing this because I need $150 this month.

David Erik Nelson Column

David Erik Nelson

Here’s the situation: My Lovely Wife is a dirty rotten greedy school teacher. In order to teach her (and her cohort) a valuable lesson, the state – on your behalf – is giving no cost-of-living wage increases for the foreseeable future, moving no one up in seniority for at least two years [1] (thus stalling everyone’s progress toward tenure, which the legislature is hot on killing anyway), and forcing teachers to cover an additional ten percent of their healthcare costs.

In our case, as a family of three (with one more on the way – more on that below), this means that her pay is going down $150 per month and her benefits being decreased, even as her workload increases.

That’s because staff has been cut to the bone – example: last week she worked a 14-hour day with one brief break. That’s not “8 hours, plus commute, plus grading while sitting on the sofa at home, rounded up.” She worked 14 hours in the school building in almost constant contact with students, staff, or parents.

Fortunately for us, while my Better Portion has a fixed wage (she being on an annual contract), I’m a freelancer; if her salary takes a hit or our expenses pop up, I hustle for more work to close the gap. Over the past four years, almost all increases in our expenses have been covered by expansions in my hustle, because, you know, she’s a dirty rotten lazy school teacher and needs to be put in her place.

When presented with this $150 gap, I contacted the publishers of This Fair Periodical of Note. [Full Story]