Thursday, January 29, 2009

The State of the State of Unemployment

No, I am not unemployed. The new job is going all right as I am still in training. What this post is about is the incredibly whacked out unemployment system (a real oxymoron) that exists in Michigan. What prompts this rant? The story began with the good news of a new job and the leaving of the lower paying part time job. Yesterday I called the unemployment system right on my bi-weekly schedule to claim benefits for the last week of the old job and the first partial week of the new job. The automated call began with the usual question: Have you begun work? (Answer was "YES"). Next question: What was your first day of work? (Answer was 1/21/09). So far, so good. The next question: Did you quit any job, refuse any job offer, etc? (Answer was "YES"). This was the kicker question and answer. The call proceeded through the usual ten minutes worth of information, only to end with "We are unable to issue a payment at this time. Please call xxx-xxx-xxxx and select "Inquiry." Well, I went slightly nuts at that, but in fairness, I did what I was instructed. After being on hold, bounced off the call, on hold, bounced again, and on hold (total time was 45+ minutes), an agent came on the phone and I assumed (WRONGLY) that we could straighten out this snafu. She said, "We are not assisting any more clients today! Please give me your SSN and we will call you back tomorrow." Now I was seeing red! After wasting about an hour by this time, I was told that they were through for the day? EEK! So, I told her that a return call would be difficult since I am WORKING FULL TIME! (DUH!). I asked for a call back after 5:30PM. Today, at almost 6:00 PM (with no call), I called them again and got put on hold for several minutes. Finally, I got an agent and I thought (WRONGLY AGAIN) that we could resolve the issue and get the payment released. I was told that since I had answered that I had quit a job, they would hold the payment pending a four to six week investigation. I tried unsuccessfully to explain that in order to accept a FULL TIME job at a HIGHER hourly rate (and thus get off the public dole), it was was necessary to quit the PART TIME LOWER WAGE job. She wouldn't budge, so I asked for her manager. I was told, "She's gone for the day, but if you leave your number, I can have her call you first thing in the morning." Um, what part of WORKING FULL TIME did she not hear? So, now I will have to play their game and maybe - if I am lucky -- I will get a payment in 4 to 6 weeks, during which time I will have to make those biweekly certification calls to the automated system to keep a claim active that should, by rights, have been closed this week. This is government service (another oxymoron!)? Ah well, maybe my creditors will be happy when I tell them to send me a bill in four to six weeks! Yeah, right! And that is the state of the state of unemployment.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

New Job - Day One

Well, I lived through the first day on the new job. It was refreshing to not have to deal with "I want to return this", or "This is supposed to be on sale." Of course in a couple of weeks I will be dealing with folks on the phones, but I think for the most part they are a little nicer, etc. Of course, the trainer still has stories and bad jokes to tell, but he does give us breaks about every 45 minutes to an hour, a long lunch, and out early, so I guess that's okay too. I did see a few folks I used to work with and they seemed happy to see me. All in all I think that this is a good move for me. Now I'm home and resting up for tomorrow's stories and jokes LOL. Hug someone!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What a Day!

It was wonderful being home and able to watch the historic events of the day live on TV. From Aretha's hat to the Chief Justice tripping over the oath of office to Rick Warren's very Christo-centric prayer (including the Lord's Prayer)there were some fun moments. But, putting all that stuff aside, it was a wonderful and historic day. What I think struck me the most were the shots of the mall packed with people, most of them waving American flags which created an amazing sea of red, white, and blue. In the midst of celebration, let us remember that the work of rebuilding what America is lies ahead of us. Also, as we celebrate, let's pause and pray for Sen. Kennedy in his health crisis. I guess I will go back and watch the parade for a while. Hug someone!

And What if I Won't?

As many of you know, language and grammar are pet peeves of mine. I think that the English language is wonderful and should be treated and used with the respect and dignity it deserves. Several times during today's historic events in Washington I heard commentators use the phrase "if you will". I have no idea exactly what they mean by that? Will I agree with them? Will I allow them to speak? Will I listen? Will I go to the kitchen for a glass of water? What??? And, in our house at least, the response becomes, "And what if I won't?" If I say that I won't (won't whatever it is that they want me to "will", will the TV screen suddenly go quiet and dark with the commentator drawn and quartered or will he or she continue on with what they were about to say? Since they are going to say it anyway, the "if you will" is unnecessary and perhaps condescending. Or is it an affectation like "um', "like", etc? Come on, people -- let's honor the language we have and use it correctly without fillers like "if you will".

Monday, January 19, 2009

Write Your Own Inaugural Address

I found this on, and created the most hilarious speech. Give it a try and see if you are ready to be sworn in as President -- I, obviously, am not ready. Enjoy.

The Winds of Change

Well, here we are at last in the week when we inaugurate a new president. This week is about eight years overdue by my calendar since the past eight years have been anything but productive. But that criticism would be the subject of not only a separate post, but an entirely separate blog! On to the moment and beyond.

Yesterday kicked off Inauguration fever in earnest with the big pre-inaugural event on the mall in DC. We tuned in to watch history in the making and of course were disappointed by the non-broadcast of the invocation by Bishop Gene Robinson. According to what I've read, it was the decision of the transition team to not broadcast the "Pre-show" show. How sad. I have read the text of the prayer and seen the UTube of it and was quite impressed by Bishop Robinson's care in crafting a prayer that said what needs to be said without being overly political. It will be interesting to see the unfolding explanations of why it was not broadcast. The rest of the concert was pretty good, though I can't imagine why some of the "artists" (and yes, Ben, I intentionally used the quotes) were invited. At least there was enormous diversity. I commented at one point how this whole thing must be driving the radical right crazy -- at one point it looked like a bunch of homeless folks having a sing-in on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Overall, I would rate it good -- not great, but good. There was certainly an air of hopefulness and celebration in the air.

This is the last full day of the Bush debacle -- that alone being reason for hopefulness and certainly celebration. Our country and indeed our government has been stuck shifting between neutral and reverse for the past eight years and it is indeed time for change. That change has begun and will officially become the expectation beginning at noon tomorrow. I will be tuned in!!!

Sandwiched in the midst of all this celebration of change is the celebration of one of the greatest agents of change of my generation -- the birthday of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. This voice for change still rings out across this land some 40+ years after his untimely death. The upcoming inauguration is glowing evidence of the truth and depth of Dr. King's legacy. Look how far we have come in those 40 years. Yet, we still have miles to go. Perhaps the next four years (and perhaps the next eight) will move this nation and society into a new age of peace, inclusion, liberty, and dignity for all it's people.

Anyway, that's all of my philosophical musings for this early Monday morning. Take a moment to pray in whatever manner is comfortable to you for the winds of change to propel us forward as a nation and a people. AND -- as usual -- Hug someone special!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Unemployed for the Moment

Well, tonight ended my stint on the customer service desk at the local "X"mart kind of store. Everyone seemed genuinely sorry to see me go (guess I must have made a darned good employee). My new assignment begins on Wednesday, so from now til then I am a bum again LOL. I will be home to watch Gene Robinson pray at the Lincoln Memorial tomorrow night and for the inauguration on Tuesday (to hear Rick Warren?--ick). It will be nice tomorrow to come home from church and not have to dash out in my red shirt and khakis to work 6 hours in the evening. No more nights and weekends -- hallelujah.

Actually, leaving was a little bittersweet. I am surely glad to be doing something else and making more money and working days during the week. But I will miss some of the people and even a few of the customers. Some of them I will miss like one misses a toothache when a tooth is pulled, but there really were some nice folks too. Those I shall miss.


Well, I gave my notice at the current job yesterday in preparation for starting the new job next week. My boss was very nice about it and said some really nice things. The lack of advance notice was not a particular problem -- she just had to shuffle everyone else's schedules around to fill the void. The start for the new job was pushed back to Wednesday. It seems that no one remembered that Monday is a holiday (I bet the line employees remembered) and that makes Tuesday a slam day so they say. So, after today I will be unemployed until Wednesday morning. Maybe I can find some time to get the house cleaned or maybe just sit and play online and watch TV. Who knows?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Day Off

Ben and I both had today off, and as usual, it did not go to waste. We began the day with my doctor appointment (which instead of being there 15-20 minutes took about 90 minutes including the wait. Then we headed to the local lab for my drug test for the new job -- I'm sure I passed. We finally had the opportunity for breakfast (of course it was 1PM by this time) at Cracker Barrell -- YUM. Then we got out the GPS and began the usual type adventure. Of course the first two places Ben entered in the GPS were CLOSED when we arrived at them. We still managed to have fun between shopping and looking at the sights -- not to mention a little bit of slip sliding on some of the roads. I actually bought a "Snuggie" (as seen on TV - the blanket with sleeves). I actually bought it to try one out before getting Mother one for her upcoming birthday (if any of the family is reading this -- I am buying her one so don't you!). It's really kind of neat -- another of those things that I wish I had invented. It's so sensible and simple, yet until recently was unheard of. Think of the money I could have made. Ah well, I need some new and practical (or at least saleable) ideas to get rich. Now we are sitting at home together relaxing and each of us surfing the web and reading email. Soon it will be off to bed in preparation for another day (I'm off tomorrow). Being off will mean a trip to the dog groomer, the bank, the dry cleaner, and maybe get the oil changed. I guess I should write a sermon sometime for Sunday. And that's the way it is on this wonderful day off. Hug someone.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


As most of my readers know, I have been in job search mode for the better part of a year and I have had moments with the two temp agencies with whom I am registered -- no calls back or apparent follow through. BUT -- all is not lost. Yesterday, out of the blue, the phone rang, and it was the rep from the agency I was working through last winter. NOW -- pending background and drug check results -- I will be starting a new assignment on Monday. At last - a full time job with more money than I am currently making. How timely since unemployment is going to run out in just a few weeks. So, thanks to all for encouragement and support through this search. Barring any unforeseen glitches, I will be among the full time employed in a few days. It will also mean "good bye, service desk", which is both good and bad. This job has not been horrid, just frustrating at times. I am so looking forward to a Monday through Friday, 40 hour a week, daytime gig. HOORAY!!!

Monday, January 12, 2009

This Week's Rant in Review

First, the good stuff. The other day I was having a major self pity party -- feeling useless, under appreciated at work and church, and not worthy of the desired appreciation. It was not a pretty sight. I managed to work up enough gumption to go to work -- it's really hard to do that when feeling in such a deep funk. Anyway, I made it through the work day and when I got home I discovered that my wonderful Ben had bought me the flowers pictured here. What a gorgeous array of happy colors. Of course that, along with the cherry pie and ice cream -- not to mention Ben himself -- helped pull me back to a tolerable level of feeling. He's a sweetheart, this one!!

Now, on to other stuff. I headed out for church on Sunday morning and had to make a stop for gas. I fell victim to one of those stations that has a different price for cash and for credit for the same gas. I find that practice offensive and somehow unethical. Needless to say, that station can be added to the "kiss my butt" list and I will purchase gas at stations that treat their customers fairly. I will continue to boycott stations who choose to penalize customers for the convenience of using a credit or debit card and paying at the pump. So far, in recent weeks, I have discovered this practice at one Mobil, one Citgo, and several BP stations. I think that whoever regulates gas stations in the state should do something about this silliness!!

Today was day six of a eight day stretch at work. It's not horrid, but eight days in a row (mostly second shift type hours is poopy. I'm looking forward to Thursday when Ben and I are both off. I have a doctor appointment in the AM, and then we have the rest of the day to do whatever floats our boat. That will probably be some adventure involving the GPS, back roads (if the snow is not too deep) and an exploring spirit. With Ben's imagination, we always find fun and unusual things to do as you have seen in various previous posts on his blog and here.

I am thoroughly aggravated with two temp agencies where I am registered. Both of these agencies called me back in early December with some "hot" assignments. I have called both of them back on multiple occassions only to receive no further response. How professional is that? These agencies are supposed to be looking out for the employer AND the employee/contractor. What kind of an example of responsible business behavior are they portraying by not at least returning phone calls?

My next rant of the week is television commercials. Those are the things around which the networks interject brief segments of mediocre programming. I think it is getting to the point where the commercial breaks are actually longer than the program segments that they separate. I think it's outrageous to pay the cost of cable television and still be plagued with ads for everything from credit counselors to condoms and beyond. Thank God for the DVR box -- we can record shows and fast forward through the commercial interruptions.

Well, since it is now Tuesday morning == early-- I suppose I should end this rant and get myself ready for some sleepy time. Hang in there and hug someone special.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Here I Am in 2009

No, I didn't fall off the planet at the coming of the new year. I've been fighting a cold, working, doing the church thing, and so on, and I've not been in a blogging space. There's not a lot going on in life at this moment. I did renew the church contract for 3 more months though after yesterday's gathering, I don't think it was such a wise idea. People somehow haven't learned the art or concept of respect. People snap at and belittle one another, often without thinking about how their message is received. We had a furnace problem and I had the building person call the repairman. It turned to be a thermostat problem which, according to the "monday morning quarterbacks" could have been fixed in house. However, a call was appropriate. Come Sunday, one of the board members mouthed off saying, "You should have checked the thermostat first". We nearly lost the person who was being addressed. I told him it was real easy to criticize the day after, but in the moment we took the appropriate action. People haven't learned the art of expressing opinion without belittling other people. That, if nothing else, is my challenge over the next three months. I am calling people on their inappropriate behaviors and let the chips fall where they may. I am using the manta, "JUST BE NICE." We will never all agree on every matter before us, but we can disagree without being disagreeable. We need to recognize that it isn't a me vs. you, but a "What's best for the life of the church?" mentality that is needed. Breaking this systemic mess might break me, but it will be worth the effort if there is success. I am off work today and tomorrow and taking it a bit easy trying to get over the cold. I am just about well, but still tired and a bit coughy. Perhaps another day of laying around. Anyway, that's what's happening here in this suburb of Hell. Hug someone.