Summa time! :)

So, classes are done for the Spring! I had a rough time with one course in particular (Mom, don’t worry!!) but I think I’ll at least pass the course. I’m not in Georgia for the summer because I snagged an awesome internship halfway across the country (Oregon)! Matt’s incredibly jealous because Oregon is very scenic and has trails/mountains/parks to die for. πŸ™‚

Life is good. Matt and I celebrated our 5th year of marriage and boy, have we grown together. He seriously completes me and makes me stop to smell the roses (this actually happened in the non-metaphorical sense). πŸ™‚ I’m enjoying my current course of study and I am about to embark on a 3-month long internship where I’ll be doing nothing but coding. I’m understandably nervous. I mean, the other students in this internship program have some serious pedigrees (IVY league, well regarded CS & Engineering schools, etc) but I’m trying not to be too intimidated. In fact, I think I’ll be better off taking advantage of the smarts of this group and learn from them! Maybe their smarts will rub off, who knows?

Not all is hunky dory in paradise. There are ups and downs but I work through them and take things step by step. I still have trouble being extroverted although people who talk to me in public fall for my acts of extroversion. πŸ™‚ I do have a neat story to share (about that).

At the PDX airport, an older white lady caught up to me after watching me from a distance and asked where I was from. I told her I was Nigerian and turns out she lived in Nigeria (in the 80s) as the child of missionaries! We got to talking and I learned quite a bit from her. She even gave me a hug as we parted ways! I love meeting people although the first step (stepping out and saying ‘hello’) is usually the hardest. In this case, she took the leap of faith and reached out to me & both our lives were enriched from the information exchange that ensued! Anyway, I’m hoping to use this blog more to keep my family posted about my shenanigans in Oregon. I’ve reunited with an old college acquaintance and I’m super excited about my yet-to-be-had adventures! πŸ˜€

Photography and blogging, oh my!

That’s a very valid question seeing as I’ve been a neglectful blog owner. For starters, I’ve been dedicating more time to posting technical (using that word loosely) content on my companion website at Jane Talks Tech! ( about things that relate to computers. Furthermore, I’ve been  occupied with creating my portfolio and you can feast your eyes on my work at Jane Ullah Photography ( I’ve *also* been busy creating the listings for my website and trying to get the word out. For instance, I’ve created entries on the following websites:

  1. Eventective: Jane Ullah Photography on Eventective
  2. GatheringGuide: Jane Ullah Photography on GatheringGuide
  3. Yahoo! Locals (pending verification)
  4. Jane Ullah Photography on Google Locals

It’s hard especially in an economic downturn, but I’m ‘consoling’ myself by reminding myself that I’m currently building my portfolio as a showcase. I’m not in debt and I have a day job so I’m not panicking yet. πŸ™‚ In the past months, I’ve shot two (2) weddings and 1 high school senior’s portraits. The leads on these were courtesy of Blane Marable, Owner of Blane Marable Photography who has been kind enough to let me tag along on his photoshoots.

Feel free to check out my work and leave comments critiquing my work. Cheers!

A long day and then some

I got up this morning with a spring in my step. The reason? The first exam of the semester was today. πŸ™‚ Not mine, silly. I’m merely a facilitator. We (the professors and I) hauled asses to make this happen and by all accounts, it was better than last year. That comment by the powers that be made my day/morning because I know that my efforts weren’t wasted. Cleanup was a ridiculous affair and I’m dreading the inevitable “where’s my dog’s forelimb” questions I will be inundated with when lab convenes tomorrow. Still, I think things went well and I look forward to seeing the scores and the fun task of putting their scores into a spreadsheet, etc. lol. It’s fun being on the other side of the equation and seeing how teachers set exam questions, etc.

I realize I never talked about the fun weekend I had. Well, I don’t remember how Saturday went. Actually, I do. My mind chose to blank it out because it was horrible. Thankfully, Sunday more than made up for Saturday’s fiasco. lol. I won’t name names, but trust me when I say my experience on Saturday nearly made me pull my little hair out. πŸ™‚ It’s really  not that serious so don’t go worrying, mom & dad. Anyhow, my week is shaping up nicely. It’s been really hectic, but I’ve been equal to the task thus far and gotten some compliments along the way. I am, however, not looking forward to digging through scores of embalmed dogs to look for my professor’s prosector dog. lol. I forced myself to make to-do list today and I got a lot of stuff accomplished. I really love my job although it’s really getting crazy. I survived the first exam experience and I’m looking forward to a smoother exam experience.

Yay! I got a compliment. :)

I was called a Get-It-Done type of gal by my supervisor today. πŸ™‚ I feel like I may have found my niche with this job I have. Call me crazy, but me likes my job. Talk to me about it in a couple of months when I’ve been chewed up and spit out by the students. πŸ˜€ Nahh, I think I’m likeable and I will make an effort to not be the total dumbass. *crossing fingers and toes* The other compliment I got was being told I may have the tracings of a southern accent! lol. Now, M knows how much I try to imitate the soft drawl. M’s mom is the epitome of the Southern belle and even J sounds like her mom too. I am definitely in a Git-Er-Done kind of mood today so I hope that stays with me throughout the week. Wanna drink to that?

I really feel like I’ve mentally prepared for this week. I visited Bed Bath & Beyond to get a small dry erase board for my little office. Judging from the amount of Post-It notes in front of my wall, I need a second and larger dray erase board. lol. On that note, I’ll sign out. For now. *cue evil laugh*

Money and the DMV

Only in my household is it not strange to remember that my permit expires in about 24 hours and then, I make frantic calls to the husband and my employers to: take me to the State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and excused from work for about 1 hr. Thankfully, we managed to beat the hordes at the DMV and we got out of that place in less than 30 minutes. Score!! The sad part, however, is that I’ll have to rinse and repeat in less than a year all because USCIS has seen it fit to give me a “conditional” LPR status versus the old-days-of-yore 10-year limit on those green cards. I’m not too bothered by it though. Just the thought of needlessly spending $10 again to renew the card makes me a bit … itchy. Renewing my drivers’ permit is the least of my worries. Renewing my permanent resident card is the real hassle although I won’t have to worry about it until next year. Still, who would have thought 2008 is already half over? The USCIS filing fee already leaves a huge rock in my gut (~ $545), but I’ve already started saving towards it. Thank God for ING Direct‘s sub accounts! They actually make it easy for you to save! I have to restrain myself from pouring too much of my paycheck into my savings accounts πŸ™‚ I’m sure I won’t be over-saving (if that is possible) because I’ve committed to contributing $200 to my Roth IRA account. It should not put too much of a dent in my earnings because on my previous salary, I could, in theory, fit in my $200 IRA payment so now that I am earning a little bit more, I can definitely fit in the Roth IRA payments. Saving for retirement (or just for savings sake) is definitely a priority with me as my posts on finances will tell you. However, I recently got M & I signed up for something that’s really confidential. lol. I’m itching to tell you guys about it, but  I promised I wouldn’t. No, it’s not something that’ll make me/us super-rich or bestow us with honorary degrees. It is something that I’ve been wanting to participate in (for a long while now) and I was getting to the point of thinking the organization was a total fraud. Well, I’m a believer and I’ll write more about this in a couple of years. lol.

In other news, classes for the students will begin in a little over 3 weeks. I spent the better part of yesterday with my boss whcanine scapulao showed me how to skin a dog’s forelimb. He is a veterinary toxicologist by training, but he clearly loves anatomy and he spent the rest of the time showing me the various muscles around the dog’s scapula and the canine equivalent of the human upper arm muscles.  I actually remember much of what was shown to me yesterday! I really find it interesting although time will tell if it’s just early employment jitters or the real thing. lol. I learned about the dog’s scapula last week i.e. the names of the parts (see on the left). I’m on the humerus now and hopefully, I’ll be done with that bone by this week or the middle of next week.

(Picture is from Guide to the Dissection of the Dog: 4th edition)

It’s definitely a little bit hard to remember all those names, but the good thing with nomenclature is that it tends to be logical and follow patterns whether it be directionality (dorsal vs. ventral) or positionally (above or below, supra or infra). I’ll let you know how that goes in a few weeks. In the meantime, I’ve got a bunch of embalmed dogs to count up. These dogs will serve as the veterinary students’ dissection dogs to work with during the semester. It will be my job to see that they preserve their animals well and try to keep the laboratory clean. I should be getting scrubs this week and also get some T- shirts so that I don’t totally ruin my entire wardrobe. I think it’s safe to say that my favorite pairs of jeans (blue and black) have been ruined. lol. Well, not so much ruined as “they are not for fancy wearing” anymore. πŸ™‚ They’ve got blood on them. Oops!

On my own

Today was my first day on my own in the lab. It was not bad at all although I was really worried that I would not have computer access at all. The IT department finally created my login id and granted me access. I still haven’t been granted access to certain buildings because my personnel data hasn’t been updated. It’s a little bit of a hassle because as of yet, I have not been able to select the benefits I want. However, I’m not stressing yet because I am within the 31 day window. The job (as usual) comes with a 180 day probationary period and my previous benefits. An added bonus for me this time around is that I can pick between choice A and choice B for my 401(k) package. The defining difference between plan A and plan B for me is the fact that I would be vested immediately in plan B whereas I would be vested after 10 years with plan A. Vesting is an important fact for me now because I learned the ‘hard’ way with my previous position that vesting means you get to keep your company’s match! This means that when I was released, I lost the entire 9% match and had my only my 5% contributions. That made me a little unhappy so this time around, because I will be selecting plan B, I will have a slightly lower employer match i.e. ~ 8%, but that’s still pretty darn good. I’m at the lab so I can’t do too much non-work stuff. πŸ˜€ Have a great day!

A financial update and some

Okay, this one is for the parents. I finally went to church, okay?! Happy now? lol. For the first time in a very long while, I attended a Catholic Church (St. Joseph). How it happened was totally unplanned, but I leapt at the chance when it presented itself. Mrs. JW has been having health issues so her dad was visiting her. He stopped by our apartment and told me of his plans to visit Mrs. JW and attend church. I was not doing anything so I quickly showered and slipped into one of the cute dresses I got from TJ Maxx with a pair of shoes I purchased from Rack Room Shoes. We went to see Mrs. JW and then headed off to church. It was a great feeling and I definitely intend to attend church more often. It was like being back home in Nigeria because I still remembered all the chants and responses. It really took me back down memory lane. πŸ™‚

After we went to church, we had a healthy Wendy’s meal of chili and I added a side salad to mine. I actually have foregone dressing in order to use my chili as the salad’s accompaniment. Wendy’s is still my favorite Fast Food restaurant to go to simply because of those two items. I thought my heart would break when Wendy’s stopped serving their yogurt with granola super value item, but I find that I am still visiting Wendy’s. My previous ordering combo would have been: a side salad, a small chili and a yogurt. Now, it’s just the side salad and chili, both which have seen price increases that aren’t enough to break my Wendy’s addiction. πŸ™‚ Which brings me to my next bullet point: finances.

I am proud to say I didn’t let the impending job loss prevent me from seeing the bigger picture vis a vis saving for the future. I continued dedicating a certain portion of my pay towards our emergency fund which reached a milestone this week. It is small, but it’s a start. To recap, the goal is to build an emergency fund that will be 4 months worth of living expenses i.e. rent, food and utility bills. In fact, the highly ambitious goal is to have that amount saved up by the end of the year which is highly feasible under the condition that we continue saving aggressively as we have been doing. Of course, one thing that will help this account swell faster is getting our credit card paid off. Right now, the balance is 15% of the total credit available to us which is pretty darn good. My credit scores from the 3 credit bureaus are finally on the same page i.e. above 710 so I am feeling pretty happy. Again, the strategy I used to help my credit score was: getting my credit card issuer to bump my credit limit to decrease my debt-to-credit ratio. Once that was done, I consistently made payments on the card even when my monthly statement hadn’t come. The aim is to get the credit card balance down to nothing by the end of the year. This is totally do-able and I cannot wait to celebrate when that day arrives. lol. There’s no better feeling that ‘paying’ yourself in form of savings, etc.

Part of what makes this month a particularly good month for debt reduction and a savings increase was the fact that I got paid for the vacation time I had accrued which, thankfully, meant that I was essentially being paid for the 2 weeks I was out of work. So I was able to dedicate a larger-than-budgeted snowflake to the credit card and give the savings account an extra $100 boost. I’m excited about my second chance at working for the same employer because this time, I will be given my choice of a 401(k) plan. Before I was restricted to a “defined benefits” style plan. Now, I can opt for a “defined contribution” plan and contribute more than the 5% I was previously limited to. They also instituted a background check, but I had nothing to fear (obviously). πŸ™‚

Lastly, have I told how much I love Anderson “The Spider” Silva? I watched the free UFC fight last night with M and I was so scared for Silva because of James’s wicked Knockout power. However, Silva showed him that he also had a few tricks up his sleeve. Damn, check the video out!