Ask the grumpies: Reader Sabbatical Update

Susan says:

here’s a really long update [to this post] …. I’ll happily answer any other questions.

— How do taxes work – did you change states and file in new state? For us, home state 3%, new state 9%, yikes.

This is an issue a bit particular to us, but — because we spent less than 183 days per year in New State, and because my pay and DH’s pay did not change in location or structure, we did nothing different with taxes, we’re filing in Home State. We did nothing to trigger reporting to New State, so hopefully this will work out. We were a bit concerned about some possibly eventful things happening with DH’s tech options that could be impactful on taxes, but that turned out not to happen because of the pandemic.

— Did you change drivers’ license? Car registration and insurance?

We did not.

— Did you need to switch health insurance? I’m on a local-base HMO plan, which won’t work in new state.

DH was already on a PPO. I was not, but was able to switch during open enrollment, and at least I was covered for emergency stuff before that. I did have to change the address the XPress Scripts sends things to, because having our housemate send drugs was illegal, turns out.

— How did you find tenants? Did you rent out your house furnished? Full year lease? Utilities? Yard work? Our home area is small college town. I have landlorded a condo before, but this part is still giving me apprehension.

We had a neighbor’s relative, who had recently moved here and needed a place of her own but wanted to still be close to neighbors and their baby, house-sit for minimal rent. No lease. We cleared out space for her in drawers and closets, but otherwise left everything here. We did not change utilities. She did yard work, well enough. In the end, we really just wanted a responsible adult here more than the $$, but we’re a bit privileged on that.

— Did you fully move, or send a Pod of things, or …? Did you rent a furnished place, or spend a bunch at IKEA? How did you approach that choice?

We drove a car full of clothes and outdoor gear, but did not send more than that. We rented a furnished AirBnB in one location for 2 months, then when we went to Main Location we rented an apartment from a private LL who was willing to be flexible, altho there were buildings that would do leases of varying length (for varyingly more money, of course). We rented furniture. We spent $n00 at IKEA to outfit a basic kitchen setup + linens, and gave it all away at the end. We ended up shipping some stuff home at the end.

— What was your supervising plan for the year away?

I Zoomed a lot — regular one-on-ones, and group meetings. Both students had a Plan for the year already or were writing a grant that became a plan. It went well overall.

— Did you pay yourself from grants? I have opted for the half pay for a year away, and have a grant that I could use. However, we’re fortunate enough that I think we can swing this without taking extra grant money, and I … feel like the grant should go to my lab, not me. I’ll need to spend some on supplies anyway.

I did not pay myself for the semester, but did for summer salary.

— How did it go departmentally being away for a year, any resentment or sidelining or other professional issues?

In my department, sabbaticals are regular and expected, so nothing seems different, and I’m as involved as ever (it seemed). But now that it’s dovetailed into pandemic, it’s hard to tell!

Thanks for the update, Susan!

Updates on two major purchases/repairs

The Iphone

  • In the end I decided to send the iphone in for a repair rather than spending a day driving.  This meant I would be without the phone for 3-5 days or 5-10 days, depending on which piece of information one read.  On a Monday we contacted them for a box.  On Wednesday the box arrived.  On Thursday we sent it to Apple.  On Friday they received it.  Monday morning ~10am it returned to us.  So, all-in-all not bad.  They sent back the same phone, not a refurbished model, and the battery is at 100% capacity.  I am getting used to my battery not constantly dying.  Total cost:  $29 for the battery replacement (price will go up to $79 in January) plus $6.95 s/h plus taxes, all-in-all under $40.  So… would recommend, though it was weird being without a phone for several days.
  • By the time I got the phone back, iOS 12 was out, so after an initial download and the standard everything updating battery drain, my phone seems to be back to reasonable battery use.  iOS 12 also has way better battery diagnostics.  There does still seem to be excessive drain on the battery if I’m in an area with bad cell service (like my office at work) unless I switch to low battery mode or turn off the cell.

The new mattress

  • We bought the Loom and Leaf relaxed firm bed which was a horrible dreadful no good very bad mistake.  After one night my back was screaming in agony.  So we flipped it over to the hard side (it is not a flippable bed) which, while not exactly comfortable, didn’t make my back cry out in pain.  And then we spent a few days formulating a game plan for going forward.  We spent a Sunday trying a lot of mattresses in town.  I determined that yes, there are some memory foam mattresses that I like, but only the super firm ones, so DH paid $100+ to switch out the Loom and Leaf mattress to their firm version.  If that didn’t work, then our next step in the plan was to buy a $4K tempurapedic.
  • The switched out FIRM version of the Loom and Leave mattress was great.  It was better than all but one of the mattresses we tried on our mattress trying spree (the 4K tempurapedic was marginally better, but none of the other mattresses in the store were better).  I slept great, AND I can’t feel DH moving around (unless he hits the bed really hard) which is the BEST.  So… if you’re like us, stick with firm beds, and the Loom and Leaf for $1700 plus tax is a good decision.  The relaxed firm was a disaster.