6 May 2007

Norman, Oklahoma, USA

Another Turning Point

It's happened again.  Another "omagosh."

When the royalty check from the small gas well on our family farm west of Woodward failed to arrive by last Wednesday, 2 May 2007, I called my friendly local lessee, who informed me that no, the check had not become lost in the mail.  Quite to the contrary, in fact; the well had been shut in (oilyspeak for semi-permanently turned off) two months ago because of clogging--probably the indirect result of extreme measures taken to restore lost drilling fluid circulation when the well it was drilled in the early 1990s. 

A quick check with locals in the farm area confirmed that the lessee is in receivership and is, therefore, unable to afford the cost of a work-over that might restore production.  The short version of the story:  our family income just dropped to about 40% of what it's been for the last few years, and it'll probably remain at that level for the foreseeable future.

Since my part-time adjunct teaching salary barely covers the cost of our health insurance ($1,000 / month), this presents something of a problem.

There are several potential solutions.  The most obvious one is to go back to work in engineering or software engineering full-time.  This is difficult, because there's blatant age discrimination in full-time, permanent engineering employment (you're supposed to have turned into a manager by age 45 or so), and my recently-turned 59 year milestone won't help that situation.  Even if there's a full-time job in the area available for one of "advanced engineering age," I'm really reluctant to give up teaching.  My re-posted "How to Become a Med-Math Instructor ..." will shed more light on that for those interested.

Another potential solution is to bite the bullet for three more years until Social Security chimes in and, in the meantime, live as I did when I was an undergraduate, watching every penny and sometimes wondering where next month's housing payment was coming from.  (My Army ROTC scholarship was for tuition, fees, books, and $50 per month--that's about $300 in today's money.  That's called pretty slim pickinís when part-time jobs were very tough to come by.)

Probably the best solution would be a series of consulting jobs that could be done 20 to 30 hours a week.  Since I already have my health insurance, such as it is, I'm pretty well set to form a corporation or LLC, get my workman's compensation set up, and do the engineering /software-gun-for-hire routine.  This would probably permit me to teach at least one class per semester or summer session and, I hope, keep me from returning to bowls of beans and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the last week of each month.

If you know of an opportunity, Iíd appreciate a forward-pointer to the relevant individuals.My resume is currently available at , and Iíll soon have a link to it in the Personal Items section of

I had feared that all that flaming shrubbery on the way to my personal Damascus (the teaching profession) was finally going to set the house on fire.Now it has.