Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi

Two Moments of Life beyond my control, on New Year's Eve, and yesterday:

31 December 2010:
My partner Stephi is diagnosed with pulmonary metastatic myxoid liposarcoma. Multiple visits to Vanderbilt University Hospital ensue. Thoracotomy February 15th. Chemotherapy with highest-possible doses of doxorubicin (the "red devil") and ifosfamide (liquified mustard gas) planned starting in March. Prognosis: tough, uncertain battle ahead.

21 February 2011:
Pathology results indicate that the resected masses were histoplasmosis, a fungal infection. No chemotherapy. No life-threatening disease. Prognosis: A slow but sure recovery from the pulmonary surgery ahead, back to a normal life.

Fortune: Empress of the World.

We are powerless against the whims of Fortuna.
But when her wheel turns in our favour, we must grasp the chance she has given us.

Shakespeare, in Julius Caesar, wrote:

"There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures"

Saturday, February 12, 2011

My Salary over the Decades

It's interesting to look at salary ups and downs over the years. Here I have taken my earnings at the time then converted all amounts into approximate 2010 US dollars by converting the local currency to US dollars using the rate at the date concerned here and then correcting for inflation using this site.

1973 (Aged 13).

First ever employment: A Sunday paper delivery round paid by the local newsagent!
Salary: $2.85 per morning for about three hours of work.
Comment: This lasted about three Sundays. I had to get up at 6 a.m., which really went against the grain, then stuff papers through too small letter boxes in doors. I would get it wrong, and then be exposed to irate customers who needed their Sunday morning papers. Furthermore, the coins earned just got lost - I clearly had no desire for the money and only did the paper round because it was the thing to do at the time.

1978 (Aged 18)

Undergraduate stipend: $5,500 per year.
Comment: In retrospect we were very lucky, us seventies British undergrads. Not only had we no tuition fees but we received a stipend. $4000 of the above was sadly removed at source for food and lodging, leaving $1500 per year which went exclusively on beer (not books). That bought a lot of beer because the student union subsidised it.

1979 (Aged 19)

Summer employment: $150 per week.
Comment: pulling live turkeys out of a lorry then hanging them upside down on a moving rail for electrocution. Not very considerate of our squawking friends I'm afraid. Paid for a trip to India later on.

1982 (Aged 22)

Postgraduate stipend: $46,000
Comment: In the money!! The UK funded three stipends per year at the Institut Laue Langevin generously to attract good students and because tuition was subtracted. In my case I registered at a department with small tuition fees (Birkbeck College).

1985 (Aged 25).

Postdoctoral salary: $24,000

Comment: Ph.D. leads to near halving of salary! Anyone know other examples of that?
Interestingly, I didn't seem to notice the difference. I remember I never even asked what the salary would be - just showed up for work.

1989 (aged 29)

Ingenieur CEA: $53,387
Comment: Standard starting salary for a French goverment "engineer." Creeps up very slowly over subsequent decades, (almost independent of performance I would claim). Similar salary to those halcyon graduate student days.

2006 (aged 46) :

German Full Professor: $96, 000

Standard German C4 professor rate, I think. Need to take into account generous benefits when really comparing with US equivalent.

2011: Well, all TN state salaries are published and open information....:-))