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What is your life worth?

September 11th, 2013 at 08:09 am

So, you would think that this question would be philosophical, but in my case, I think it is literal. I've been in contact with a company in a very unsafe country, especially for Americans.

I qualify for the position they need to fill - there is no doubt of that - but eventually, I'll be required to state how much money it would take to get me to the location.

I've been in dangerous locations in the past. In the military, I was shot at and had mortar rounds lobbed my way. They didn't pay me any extra. We weren't even in a combat zone, because of Congress. Personally, I figured if someone was trying to kill you and folks around you, it should count, but I'm not a lawyer or tax accountant, so what do I know?

The position I have now has great growth potential, and I'm in a secure area. It pays well. I have a great bonus plan and its limit is pretty much set by me.

The question becomes, how much would you have to get over and above your present position to go somewhere that is relatively unsafe? Figure you'll be there for ten years, for maximum benefit.

What do you think? Is $100K per year enough? How about $250K more than you're making now? Or would you need even more? I'm considering the position, but I know the "How much would you cost" question will eventually be asked.

How much is your safety worth?

Work Woes

August 12th, 2013 at 02:47 pm

Well, I'm up at 1:40 in the morning because of work. We had a meeting with a big client today, and things did not go well.

We're involved in a huge project, and since we're the electrical group, we're always the last ones to finish. Mainly, this is because we cannot start until everyone else is finished. For illustration, think about a house being built: You can't pull wire until the walls and roof are up, and you can't hang fixtures until the drywall and painting are done. It's the same, but different, on large industrial projects.

We're at the final push on this large project. Since "everyone else" is done, electrical is being told we have to finish everything ahead of schedule to keep the entire project on schedule.

I'm up early to work out team schedules to see if we can do three weeks of work in one week. I'm not extremely optimistic, but if I can come close, then we'll be heroes.

I'm not expecting to be heroes. We were given a very large part of the project on 25 July because the shipyard abdicated the ability to finish it in time. They've been working on it since March. We have to have it done and tested on the 22nd; less than a month in total.

The real problem with this is that even if we finish on time, we'll get no recognition for it. And the reason I'm actually upset? I was lied to by the client's project manager. It was all I could do to keep my mouth shut and not call him out on it. I guess this is why they pay me to do this job. There's no way I'd do it for free.

Quote I Disagree With

July 21st, 2013 at 07:15 pm

You know the quotes that come up on top of the page on SA. Well, there is one that comes up periodically:

"Enjoy your job, make lots of money, work within the law. Choose any two."

I completely disagree! I have thoroughly enjoyed two of my last three jobs (spanning over 10 years) and made very good money. Of course, I don't violate any laws.

This quote is flawed on the surface. Dave Ramsey (sorry to bring up his name again, after the forum wars that I'm currently engaged in) doesn't seem to even be working. He's definitely enjoying his job, making a lot more than lots of money, and not violating the law.

There are many folks who do all three. What about you? Do you enjoy your job? Do you break the law? You may not be making "lots of money," but you're probably doing well enough and most likely making more than many of your peers.

Sorry to vent. It's just been bugging me, and I finally caught it when it came up in the banner.

Trip back the US around the Corner

May 26th, 2013 at 06:16 pm

Well, DW and I are getting ready to head back to DS's wedding. We're going to do quite a few around-the-US trips as well. We got our airplane tickets and car rentals already arranged and paid for. Total out of pocket for two cities and about ten days is just at $700. That includes rental car, hotels, and plane. I used up some of my frequent flyer and frequent stayer credits for this, which made the price less than 30% of the fares and fees otherwise.

Our dogs go to the vet next week for their "preflight" check up. That should be all in order.

I have hired three people at work this week, and still have two more contracts to sort out. We're growing by the proverbial "leaps and bounds." My group has tripled in size since I arrived, and it looks like we're going to double again this year. That will be literally a 6 times increase in just two years. It's hectic, let me tell you.

DD2 has purchased a house. DW and I are going to give her $2K toward new floors. We're also helping DS pay for his wedding. June is going to be a "thin" month for us.

DW and I have worked out a compromise. She is going to get her new car. She's also going to live at our "old" house, at least until the car is paid off. We're going to use "her" money to go toward the car, then use "our" money to cover the remaining payments. Had we had more notice, we would have saved up for her car, but we're moving up her return to the US by six months due to circumstances beyond our control.

We also have to budget for her return trips to Dubai. I'll be staying on in our apartment over here. I've hired a "number two" in my group, and will be leaving him in charge when we return to the US. It isn't fair doing this right before we return, but he knew the score when we made the job offer. I'm really happy to have hired both him and our new operations supervisor. They wanted large salaries, but they're both worth it, in my opinion. Only time will prove out my beliefs.

Things are looking to be pretty good for June. I should know my bonus amount this week. I hope it is large enough to offset some of our upcoming expenses. It should be, but one never knows until the figures are written down and certified.

Not such a good trip

February 15th, 2013 at 06:45 am

I finally get to go to East Timor day after tomorrow. When I arrived, I went straight from the airplane to the helicopter. I didn't even clear Timor L'este's customs or immigration, but I get to on the way back. I have one night to overnight in town.

DW hurt her back while I was over here. The boss is helping out by getting her to the doctor and physical therapy. They're doing some kind of massage, steroid, and machine-assisted (shock and ultrasound?) therapy, but it isn't helping. There's nothing I can do from over here.

This job has been the definition of "snake bit." Every time we fixed something, something else was found to be wrong. We go "back on contract" tomorrow morning, which means the folks paying for this excursion start getting money from the client again. At least we saved them on the two-year contract overall.

The only good outcome from all of this is that I have had nothing but "no spend days" since I've been here. DW was left with minimal funds and there is absolutely no way to actually spend money here offshore. DW has an account with several thousand dollars in it at her fingertips. Were it an emergency SHE deemed worthy, she could spend it, with the understanding that I reimburse it immediately upon my return. Apparently, in her mind, doctor visits and medical treatments are not emergencies.

I wonder what IS an emergency in her book? I'm thinking "alien invasion or asteroid strike" apparently.

Oh, she has credit cards, as well. I did not leave her without resources. I travel fairly regularly and on short notice, so we have contingency plans set up for just such instances.

This means that we'll be 100% back on track for the mortgage pay off. Although it is still 8 months off (maybe more, maybe less), I can almost smell the smoke of the paperwork. I hate this part of paying off things; the anticipation when it is still a bit far off.

Country 72

February 2nd, 2013 at 06:32 am

We have a good client who has an emergency. I sent my best engineer out to his site, but even he has failed to find and correct the problem.

So, it is up to me to head out there. I'll either be a knight in shining armor, or a goat. There's not much room between the two in our industry.

Regardless, due to this trip, I get to chalk up country number 72 in my travels. East Timor gets the spot. I looked it up online. By the street names, it looks like they speak some variation of Portuguese, but I'm not certain. I guess I'll find out when I get there.

Now, all my other projects have to be put on hold for a week. I'm none too happy about that, as we have a very large project coming up that needs some up-front work. Oh, well. That's why they pay me.

Suck it up

December 2nd, 2012 at 07:50 am

I just read a post by a guy who is complaining about having to work long hours, his wife is sick, his daughter can't afford a school trip, and he's tired of working long hours. Well, that prompted me to write this post.

I started my working career in the US military. The military works long hours. I used to deploy to far off places, and I've been in tight situations. I didn't see my wife or kids for months at a time, sometimes. Yes, it was hard, but someone has to do these things to keep America free. If the folks still in the military were not there, the rest of us would maybe actually appreciate them in more than words. But that's not the point of my post.

Everyone always has it better than someone else. I have an old military buddy who had over 10 years of hard times. Mostly, they were his own fault, but that's not the point. He finally got his stuff back together. Within a year, he was diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer.

Are you better off than him?

So, the OP of the offending post thinks life is hard and everyone's out to get him. I've worked thirty years to get to where I am. I live on the Palm Jumeirah in Dubai (look it up online). It's like a resort. I still put in about 50 to 70 hours per week. I love what I do, and my retirement - if I ever actually retire - will be comfortable, to say the least.

I had hard times. I had tons of debt. I had medical bills. I had people close to me die without warning.

Yet, I survived. I love my life.

I don't care if I seem to be bragging. I've worked my butt off to get where I'm at, and I'm "living the dream." I only wish I had smartened up sooner and stopped borrowing sooner.

Anyone else reading this, you can be a lot worse off than you are. Count your blessings and flip off the evil that besets your life. It happens to everyone. If you keep working, you can make yourself and your family comfortable, too. Hard work is always rewarded, eventually.

But if you have a pissy attitude, don't expect anyone else to be there for you. You make your life what it is, and you have to live with what you make.

Not-Quite a Job Offer

November 17th, 2012 at 06:07 pm

I was out with a friend the other night. I have a new job possibility, but the location is in Saudi Arabia rather than Dubai. The cost of living is less and the pay is higher - significantly higher. The problem? It's in Saudi Arabia. There is no way I'd take my wife there for the money they're offering. In fact, I cannot think of any level of money they can offer to get me to take my wife.

One possibility would be for me to stay in Bahrain and commute to KSA, but that's a remote chance by itself. I think I might start looking towards Singapore instead. One good thing about the oil patch is that we drill for oil wherever there is oil, so except for the Caribbean and a few other off-limits areas, my choices for where I work are fairly unlimited.

How much of a raise would it take you to move to Saudi Arabia?