Monday, November 06, 2006

For Just Pennies a Day

This post is being left on top for one more day — scroll down for newer material. I’ve got a new post about the Great Diebold Conspiracy which will be up momentarily.

In case anyone who donated in the past two days hasn’t received a note from us yet — we had at least one of our outgoing emails bounce. Send us an email and we’ll reply to you at that address.

This donation gig is kind of like fund-raising week on your local NPR station, when your favorite lefty political program is repeatedly interrupted by the local station announcers begging you to “call our toll-free number!”

The main difference (besides our politics, that is) is that we haven’t set a goal that we have to meet. We’ll just leave this up until we and/or you get tired of it.

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The initial response has been overwhelming — some of you are real optimists, and have paid for years of Gates of Vienna in advance! We’ll have to take our vitamins…

Thanks to everyone who has made the jar ring. You’ll all hear from us individually, in short order.

As some of you already know, I have been unemployed for five months now. I resigned my job in Richmond voluntarily and in good standing, after being at the same place for seven years.

Since Dymphna has now gone public on the issue, I can reveal that one of the main reasons I quit was so that I would no longer have to stay away from home all week and only come home on weekends. My wife is ill with fibromyalgia and needs me here, and I felt the need to be here. In addition, the long commute to Richmond and my prolonged absences from home were finally beginning to wear me down.

What I didn’t fully anticipate was how hard it is to find jobs in my field in the Charlottesville/Lynchburg area. I’m a computer programmer, but with a fairly narrow specialty. In the high-tech corridors around Reston or in the West End of Richmond there are plenty of jobs in my range. But it turns out that around here such jobs are few and far between.

Donate to Gates of ViennaThe upside of the current situation is that I get to blog all the time, which has been great. In the last six months Gates of Vienna has really taken off, and I have been able to write what I want in the midst of my (so far futile) job hunt.

A number of our readers have been kind and donated to Gates of Vienna since we put in the tip cup. You know who you are, and I thank you!

And it occurred to me that, based on our current traffic, if every reader who really, really likes Gates of Vienna were to contribute a dollar a month to our tip jar, I could keep the job search going for a while longer without facing financial disaster.
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I’m not under any illusions — nobody can make a living by blogging. But I know a job opportunity will open up for me in good time, and I just want to keep my head above water until then.

So… If you decide to follow my dollar-a-month suggestion, you’ll probably want to lump several months together, since Paypal charges 30 cents per transaction, in addition to a small percentage. For efficiency’s sake, five or ten months’ worth at a time makes more sense.

Anyone who feels so inclined may use the tin cup down our left sidebar (Blogger won’t allow a “donate” form to be inserted into the post itself).

And, in any case, thank you all for your support. The email is overwhelmingly friendly, flaming is rare, and the trolls are few! Life doesn’t get any better than that…

Even after I get my job I will keep on posting here. Not as often, and maybe only on weekends, depending on the nature of my work. You’ll be hearing more from Dymphna, in that case.

Which I’m sure will suit some of our readers just fine… ;)


Dymphna said...

Hmmm...I've not been there, though the Baron may have visited when he lived in Britain.

He has had a few Viennese tarts in his time. In fact, we put up a recipe for them some time in 2004, I think.

Frank said...

Any PHP experience?

Ypp said...

I'd send a check if you give an address or a postbox. I Hate papal

Baron Bodissey said...

ScottSA --

No PHP yet, but I think I'm about to learn it, if the contract I'm negotiating comes through. Keep your fingers crossed for me...

Baron Bodissey said...

Kim --

I was in Vienna at New Year's, 1968, when I was 16. I was very sick with strep throat, and Vienna was all snowy! But I still enjoyed myself. A beautiful city.

Dymphna said...


This is a long story to explain why, if at all humanly possible, we will not move. If you don’t want to read the whole darn thing, here’s the short version: it would kill me.

Your suggestion of moving is not at all "capitalist" coldness; it's practical sense. But the times are changing and telecommuting becomes ever more common. The Baron, also known to former clients as "The Code Gorilla" is eminently qualified for many senior programmer analyst positions which would permit telecommuting. It is a matter of making the match.

As for moving, we can't afford to live anywhere cheaper. Our real estate taxes here are about 500.00 a year. We own our home and while it is modest, it suits our needs perfectly. We have put much into it to make it livable -- like central heat and adding two rooms when my mother came to live with us for a year before she died. It took awhile to pay *that* off, plus her funeral. Selling this weird place would not produce enough money to live elsewhere for how cheaply we can live here: utilities and $500.00 in taxes. I sure will miss our high-speed internet if it has to go, though. DSL will not come to our neck of the woods for another several years. If ever.

For many years, we lived on my salary. Let us say it was in the low blue collar range -- I never found a degree in philosophy useful in the job market, but you see, when I got it I didn't know I would have to go to work. I was a stay-at-home momma with a promise that “things would be taken care of.” And then I was an abandoned stay-at-home momma with four kids, living on 9,000.00 a year as an insurance clerk. As I was being evicted and going under, the Baron took me in, and offered such of my children who were willing to live here a place to stay. You can imagine their shock of going from 11 rooms in a very nice suburb to 4 primitive rooms in the country. We had no central heat and one closet. The nearest town of any size was forty miles away.

At first I hated it, being in the boondocks where a trip to the movies was a 40 mile trek. Then I reminded myself we couldn't afford the movies or the gas anyway, so what the hey.

You see, the Baron was a landscape artist. He'd saved his money and "retired" at 28, hoping to make a living as an artist. Heh.

Gradually, he took odd jobs in town working here and there for people who needed computer expertise as their businesses began to need computers to keep up with the rest of the world. And he was a Kelly Girl for quite a while; that was fun. And he sold mistletoe for many years at Christmas time. It was tiring, but fun. "Mr. Mistletoe" they called him. But now he's not fit to climb the trees and I'm not fit to wrap and bag the hundreds of little bunches and try to devise ingenious ways to keep them fresh.

The computer stuff allowed him to stay current with his skills, and his clients got cheap labor while he learned.

I fit myself into this life of his, and found work to support myself and his endeavor. Believe me, he has always lived simply; it's just his nature. I'm the materialist.

Somewhere along the way, after we'd given up hope, the Baron's Boy arrived: a happy, if belated, surprise. Very soon, the Baron was home-schooling while painting and programming and then...a year of tending his dying, demanding mother-in-law while I continued to work full time. I had to give up my first wonderful job because it required travel and it seemed like torture to leave the Baron to take on the whole thing.

Because my mother had been ripped out of her nest of 400 close friends in a town she'd lived in since she came to America 50 years before, she only lasted a year with us. Had she been able to stay in her home, tended to while being in familiar surroundings, who knows, she might still be here...

Meanwhile, on a very limited income (we qualified then for the earned income credit) we paid off our mortgage, saved some, and slowly paid the funeral expenses. Of course we always paid cash for junk cars. We also began to run a larger and larger deficit in an attempt to help my severely and progressively mentally ill daughter...for many years, we kept thinking she'd grow up. By the time we realized that would never happen, she died suddenly of accidental methadone poisoning.

But that was later. A few years before her death, as my fibromyalgia became too pronounced to pass it off anymore as a bad day, or a bad week, or a bad month, or inherent insanity, or then I was beginning to sleep on the job, well! Lo and behold, a friend of the Baron's asked him to take on a real consulting job as a programmer analyst in the big city: it was strenuous traveling and coming home on weekends, but he loved the work.

By then, someone had given the Boy a scholarship to a Friends' School so I collapsed into bed, not knowing what was wrong with me, only that I could not stay awake more than four to six hours a day.

The fatigue receded to be replaced by pain and depression. Finally someone diagnosed fibromyalgia (what was that??) and I staggered to my feet to try to figure a way out. Except then I got cancer and that took up a year or so of my life. And then the afore-mentioned daughter died. I had spent 20 years trying to help her get better only to watch her become more and more strange and finally pass beyond any help at all.

This house, even as it became more chaotic, also became my refuge. It was where I slowly began to grieve and to attempt to construct some meaning as a bridge over the hole in my soul left by my daughter’s death.

I found a protocol to treat the fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. It is very slowly reversing itself. But I found myself sinking into isolation as the Baron was traveling to “where the jobs” are. I finally had to ask him to come home and try to find a daily commute or a job where he could travel some and be home for periods at a time.

We discussed just leaving here, but it’s not practical nor is it sane. My mother is buried at our church; the same church the Baron’s boy played the organ every Sunday till he went off to college.
What roots I have managed to set down here will not transplant. I spent too many formative years in foster homes and an orphanage to have the necessary neural equipment to transplant easily. Some characterological experiences in our early childhood make us who we are… or aren’t. I find it difficult even to travel, describing myself as a homegrown tomato not meant for shipping very far.

Also, our son is on the cusp of adulthood. He’s at the threshold stage – this is not his home any more, but it is his vision of home until he is able to make another one, which will be a few years. I know from the experience of my other children that taking that sense of place away is damaging beyond words. The refuge is not the parents (Lord, no!) it is the place.

So-o-o… no move to the frenetic big city “where the jobs are.” We can go back to living like we used to. I will miss the most being able to give to others. That was my joy – it felt so good. No more donations to the Club for Growth, or to our Congressman, or the Heifer Foundation, or to my grandchildren.

Nor, finally can I just up and leave my daughter’s children, who miss their dead mother very much. And how could I abandon my daughter’s grave. Could you?

People who can pick up and move as the spirit or the economy moves them are fortunate. But that is not me. And if the Baron has to work at Whole Foods or Barnes and Noble, so be it. We’ve made do and gone without before. It has a certain challenge that appeals to me.

We had a good time while it lasted. And maybe the good times will come again. I hope so, but we don’t depend on it.

Dymphna said...


I hate paypal, too. It took a long time for me to accept having to use it. The horror stories are amazing.

Send me an email and we can discuss alternate measures. I know there are some, I just have to figure them out.

Baron Bodissey said...

mommysaurus --

One of the gratifying things about blogging here is our cosmopolitan readership. Because of Fjordman, the northern European contingent is the strongest, including all the Scandivian countries, Germany, and Holland, but also Latvia, Czechoslovakia, France, Spain, Britain, and Hungary.

Farther afield I know we have Australians, Canadians, New Zealanders, and Russians looking in on us from time to time. Also Indians and at least one Malaysian.

I'm leaving out a lot of people, I know. Sorry, guys! Just too many countries to list...

Dymphna said...


The paypal problems are really with those people who sell merchandise on line.

People like us, who just donate or receive donations, don't have to worry about it. But it took me awhile to realize the difference between merchandise vendors and say, beggars, like we are.

These vendors send the items ordered to the customer, who has paid, and if there is a complaint, returns are practically impossible. And the vendors never see their money. In fact, Paypal simply removes the disputed amount from the merchant's account and keeps it for months.

When I finally realized for us it was simply donations and not sales, I calmed down. But still, I keep a separate paypal account at the bank (this was the manager's suggestion since she uses paypal -- one of the nice things about living in a small town is you get to hear the stories). I keep very little in it just in case Paypal gets us mixed up with somebody sellilng emu oil or vitamins or sports equipment.

If you want to read the stories just google "Paypal sucks" (you don't need the quotes) -- there are sites devoted to the headaches.

And those sites post the phone #s and emails of Paypal employees since you can never, ever get a real person. I imagine PP has to keep changing their #s.

They also give alternatives to Paypal, but you have to be a vendor with a fairly large inventory for it to be worth your time.

IOW, for things like this, Paypal is perfectly safe.

Dymphna said...


I know what you mean about contributing to blogs. I used to do that. I like especially Wretchard, as I knew something of his cirmcumstances.

I think it is much more expensive to live in Australia than in the US, though that's a guess. And there were other problems, too, but he's never talked publicly about them so I just hope he's making out well with being an editor at Pajamas.

Wretchard is one of the finest, most humane bloggers around.

FuzzyLogic. said...

Hey thanks for the wonderful blog. Though I'm too poor to contribute in any meaningful way.. the best I could do was actually click a few ads on your website. Hope that helps.

Damon said...

Just a quick check -- the Tip Jar links to a PayPal page called "Natural Intelligence of Central Virginia" -- this is you I assume?

James Higham said...

I would gladly contribute but this is the problem - no way to send money overseas, being off the grid in this one horse town in the East and off the grid electronically - no cards of any sort and no accounts. If I could transfer, I'd be out of Blogger and into a good programme, for example.

Baron Bodissey said...

Vishnu Vyas --

Oh, yes, clicking the ads is a big help. Our traffic level plus the response level on the ads are what control our PJM ad rates. Right now those are very low, but they are rising.

So clicking the ads is definitely a helpful thing to do, and we thank you.

The best thing of all is having so many readers from so many different places. :)

Fellow Peacekeeper said...

Ah ... blegging ...

Par for the course really, most of the bloggers worth reading are basically underemployed. Takes up too much time to do seriously otherwise.

Makes sense though, I shudder to think how much loose change I've wasted on newspapers the decade prior to getting DSL. What really grieves me is the Latvian daily Diena, having taken my money for a decade, not only costs 0,35 Ls (70c) a throw, but has now gone stridently politically correct. The bastards. Supporting alternate media makes much more sense.

Exile said...

I'm clicking all your ads now, every day!
Anything to help.

By the way, times change, and so do fortunes. If your on the low point now, it can only go upward.

Chin up!

Dymphna said...


For heaven's sake, it wasn't your "bad." As I said, right off, your idea was sensible.

The great thing about liberty and the free market is that when, say, you live in the Rustbelt and all the ironworks jobs dry up, what then? Well, you have to move and re-work your skill set, possibly settling for less than The Union promised you back in the good old days (before they blew your pension. But you still manage to make it...maybe with lowered expectations, but still managing to make a go of it and building a life.

There is a downside to that, though, and I think that sometimes it literally kills people: you have to radically cut the roots of your whole previous existence. No more family get togethers on the weekend, no more worshipping in the church where you grew up, no more soul-deep familiarity with your surroundings. The sense of belonging is gone.

This kind of existential displacement is not that hard on everyone -- if it were, California wouldn't be such a, ummm, Mecca. And having that kind of flexibility (to pull up stakes and move along) is a part of the American character, one I admire.

The irony is that had I my druthers, I would not be so far South. And I call it God's little joke that I met the Baron because Lord knows I was meant for city pavements and sirens going by and the sound of trashcans being banged around at six in the morning. Such a frenetic pace would put the Baron in a rest home real quick. So here I am: the things we do for love.

My mother was an immigrant. She admired that American spirit and taught me to do so. She was soo relieved to be free of class distinctions that kept you down.

But I also believe in being close to family, even those who don't talk to you -- families can be like that, hmm?

However, in my case, to move to greener pastures would be abandoning motherless children and that feels shudderingly wrong. I'd rather have the Baron working in Starbucks and us figuring out how many ways to pinch a penny than simply sitting them down and saying, "sorry, kids, but we have to follow the money. Pf course, we'll stay in touch, blah, blah..." In the end, my presence may not be enough to make a difference but I want to try.

Can't dig up my daughter's casket either, and take her with me, because her father owns the plot and he took almost three years to put a headstone up. Nope...I'm not leaving her until it's my time to go see her for good.

When we get old and can't climb the stairs or mow the yard or tend the garden, we'll probably have to move. But it won't be very far, and by then the question of jobs will be moot.

However, talnik, there is nothing "bad" in your idea. Millions of people do it all the time. For most of them, it works. But there is that small minority that doesn't make the transition. They are, for better or worse, the homegrown tomato variety. They arrive at their new destination all squished and unuseable.

I repeat: in the larger sense, you are correct in your thinking.

Dymphna said...


Oh heavens, don't tell me this! One of the Baron's classmates' mother had a big job in the IRS and she told him he never had to save more than three years worth of records. Good Lord and his Blessed Mother...where will I ever find room for SEVEN YEARS worth of papers...

You are right about being so unaware of one's good health until it's gone. I miss most the ease in climbing stairs. I used to love to take them two at a time, or feel the spatial joy of running down a long flight of them.

My problems don't come anywhere near end stage renal disease. We live in a largely black (sorry, African American) area, and some of my neighbors have had that. The incidence among black people is much higher.

Good health is such a lottery. A child psychiatrist I knew from the time she was a resident had to retire very early and will die young from something called (I think) "malignant hypertension." She was a gifted clinician but is quite limited now...

I must respectfully disagree that the increase in income would be worth the hassle. I simply wouldn't survive a move to another part of the country. Not even the most beautiful, scenic, friendly and welcoming place in the world.

My sense of place is stronger than my common sense.

Baron Bodissey said...

Damon --

Yes, that's us. It's our business incarnation.

Papa Ray said...

Dymphna spoke: "We had a good time while it lasted. And maybe the good times will come again. I hope so, but we don’t depend on it."

Dymphna, I could have spoke the same words, as well as some of my best friends, many vets like I am. But that, I think has nothing to do with it, other than that is the circle of friends I have.

You know the old saying; "Life's a bitch and then you die"? Well, part of that is true, we all die.

But, life is actually what you make of it, you know, making hay while the sun shines, have fun now, while you can, you can't take it with you, life's a box of chocolates, you never know what you get.

And on and on.

I'm somewhat in that situation of hoping for better times, but being old and cynical, I know that the odds of that are less than zero.

D, you have suffered more than most, but that, when looking at the big picture makes zero difference. Sometimes those that suffer the most...suffer even more.

I had to take early retirement, lost my Dad and lost my last love all in the same year. I thought that was enough suffering for me, but was rewarded with the discovery and fact that my only daughter was a drug addict, and that my only son was going to take bankruptcy, taking most of my investments and savings with him.

So I became poor within a couple of years, then another disaster, (I thought, at the time) my daughter was pregnant with no husband and no means to support herself or her new baby. So I took on the responsibility of my daughter and her unborn baby back in 2000.

My Sweet Sarah was born March 13, 2001.

I was ill equipped to handle this, but I knew if I didn't no one else would.
I have since came to relize that it was actually a blessing, somethng that would bring me out of a great depression back into the world. Sarah has not only done that, but is the best thing that has ever happened to my daughter and myself.

It's been rough and without the State of Texas help we would have had even a harder time.

But between my retirement and Social Security and my daughters sometimes jobs we have been making it and will continue to.

I'm sure that there are more bad times for our family and for yours Dymphna but we will make it, or like the song. "I will survive".

BTW, here is something I found here yesterday that lifted my spirits and my Sweet Sarah really loved it.

I wish you all the best. Keep on keeping on. I will hit your tip jar.

What goes around, comes around as old Waylon used to say.

Papa Ray
West Texas

Dymphna said...

Papa Ray--

Good song. Sentimental as all get out and very American. Europe must be frozen in one gigantic sneer after that one...

Good luck with your granddaughter. She'll keep you in shape!

And you're right about hard times. We sometimes have the illusion that the easy life we lead won't ever change or that hardship is what happens to others. That can change in a heartbeat.

Your grenddaughter is lucky. And your daughter is, too,

CFOMahm said...

Hitting the tip jar today. Wish it could be more, but this is what's in my means and I will do so again when possible. The two of you have been blessing to me and my husband. (You became his favorite blog about 2 weeks after I hipped him to you.)

Glad to hear that Shelagh finally has a headstone. You had a lot to do with me finally being able to face doing that for my own son. And I am with you about the moving - if I ever had to, I would have to dig up the boy and take him with me - not practical, must just stay here.

Anyway, I hope the fibromyalgia will not worsen, and with the Baron at home all will be better for you both. Keep up the good work, I learn much from your blog and the links you provide. God bless.

Frank said...

The trouble with the term "tip jar" is that it connotes begging, or as one of the previous posters said, "blegging".

If you were discussing your favorite soap operas, books or sports stars, it would be called "commentating", and you would be paid a good buck for doing it, but all you're doing is trying to save western civilization, so its called "blegging".

Don't apologize and don't accept criticism for asking to be paid. If people want to read what you write, they ought to pay for it the same way they pay for a newspaper. I pay $0.75 every day for the newspaper so that it can make money bombarding me with badly written formula stupidity interspersed with idiotic ads. You guys could blog from the Bahamas if everyone paid a fraction of what they pay for MSM.

Its damned hard to sit down and write something every day, day in and day out, and to maintain the kind of readership you have.

I would go further and put up a big banner reminding people to click on the ads...hell, I have never once clicked an ad here, and its only because I never seem to think of it...I'm too busy reading good articles.

Anyway, now I'll catch up on the link clicking...before I forget again.

Frank said...

Wow! The volvo ad has a contest for a Volvo! Clicky clicky! And clicking the Netflix ad goes to Vistaprint, which does...ummm...something with credit cards?! The second time I clicked it, it went to yourmusicdotcom which probably does something with music! Too cool! I'm so excited! Click the ads!

linearthinker said...

So very much of the above resonates with me. For brevity, I will limit my comment here to hopefully something practical.
Re: PayPal--I first tried it when your tin cup was initiated. I was directed to an application webpage. No problem. I filled in requested data, including a very valid credit card account number. Instead of finalizing the application and directing my donation to you, PayPal put the new account into limbo pending my release of a bank account number. All I wanted to do was make a small contribution. That account is still in limbo, they refuse to cancel it, my credit card data has gone who-knows-where, and all I get from them is auto-reply crap.
Suggestion--find a way to enable throwbacks like me to contribute via check or money order to an address that protects your privacy and security.
Thanks to both of you for sharing these moments, and to the many commenters, too.
One of the things I always remind my kids, "Things will get better, they always do."
I'm tempted to ask about those many Vienna tarts, but that's probably best left alone. :-)

Papa Ray said...

Steve, The Baron and his Lady are real enough royalty for me.

Actions, Attitude and Beliefs make a person, not an accident of birth or a piece of paper.

Papa Ray
West Texas

Ypp said...

hi Dymphna
I would send you an email but I don't know your address. Usual windows way to do it by pressing "send email" does not work well in Firefox under Linux. It would be helpful for people like me if you just showed your email address.

Ypp said...

P.S. Mine is

Baron Bodissey said...


I've sent you an email.

But in case anyone else we're:

or both together:

Jason Pappas said...

Let me wish both of you better times. I know someday one of us (wife & I) will be taking care of the other. Given the challenges in our immediate family we’ve been fortunate so far.

Oh, yes, this “fellow IBAer” has sent a gesture of solidarity via the tin cup (no JP isn’t my real name.)

Rositta said...

I wish your wife well. Luckily she has you to take care of her. I also have fybro plus chronic fatigue and a new hip. I'm not so lucky, my spouse needs to work to support us. Also, I take care of my elderly mom who lives with us. Like I said, your wife is lucky.

Dymphna said...


I left a reply much earlier today but didn't check back. Blogger must've blooged again.

Yes, you're right: I am most blessed to have the Baron. But we are kind of taking turns. Once it was me out there in the world and he stayed home painting, homeschooling our son, and tending his elderly mother-in-law.

Having had a strict Victorian father, she was afraid of men, so the Baron was kind of God's little joke on her. When I used to say that, she'd frown at me...but as she grew demented, it amused her to think of it tht way.

Now I am home, trying to rebuild the over-arching meaning for my life. Too much happened, unremittingly, for too long, and the color of meaning simply disappeared. The world turned grey, the way a bad photograph fades to reds.

As you well know, fibro and chronic fatigue make you think it's "you" and if you'd just get up and start doing something, it would be okay. It takes a long time to know that won't happen, no matter what you do.

I know people with our disorder who have been cruelly abandoned because no one believed them. It amazes me...

I am glad you have a husband to provide for you while you attempt thru the fog and pain to care for your mother.

What I wish for you is a house cleaner to show up occasionally and clean the bathroom or make dinner, or do three loads of laundry while you simply watch the clouds go by...I don't have that, either, but it's what anyone with fibro needs!

In the meantime, blessings on your husband for providing, and on you for caring for your mother.

Kathy K said...

Blegging kept my body and soul together back when I was unemployed - I hope what I gave helped some.

Good luck to both of you.

Kathy (katkinbus)

Baron Bodissey said...

Bellicose Kathy --

Many thanks. You'll also be hearing from us by email.

Anonymous said...

How nice that you have had such a positive response Baron! My friend since childhood has suffered from this same disease for over 25 years. She's still plugging away at her paralegal job---in pain but she needs to work!

My husband was recently diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma and I don't have an outstanding blog to help him.

Oh well..............