Monthly Archives: April 2009

Back to the ranks of the unemployed

Here we go again. My contract with Level 3 ran out this past Wednesday so once again I’m looking for work. Frankly, this doesn’t worry me. I’ve been unemployed before and no doubt will be again. Even the current condition of the economy doesn’t really worry me that much. The area I live in has been economically depressed for the last several years so we’re all old hands at dealing with the kind of economy that the rest of the country (world?) is still getting used to.

Truth to tell, I’ve been working the local job market for months in anticipation of this so it’s not like I’m unprepared. And though I haven’t really had any nibbles for a while, I do have an interview setup for next week. With luck, I’ll soon be employed again.

But what happens if I don’t get lucky? In the short term, it means unemployment until I find work. Not my favorite way of paying the bills but doable – if only barely. Unemployment holds no stigma for me. I don’t feel ‘less of a man’ if I’m collecting unemployment. It’s something that I’ve paid into so why not use it. I think of it more as insurance against job loss. It’s not something that you ever want to use but it’s sure nice to have when the gas bill comes due.

In the long term unemployment would probably mean that I’d have to move my family. This is not something I really want to do. First, Tami and I really like this area. We are big fans of small town living and the climate here is great – actual winters with snow and everything, gorgeous springs with everything in bloom, warm summers with cool evenings (great for sitting around a bonfire in the back yard while you talk, roast marshmallows and watch the stars) and finally, breathtakingly beautiful Autumns where the surrounding mountains look like they’re on fire with all the color.

The second reason I don’t want to move is my youngest son, James. He’s still in High School and I really want him to be able to finish up with his friends. I moved 5 days before Christmas my Junior year of High School and it sucked! I’ve not become an axe murderer or anything but moving away from your friends does make a difference – especially when you’re a teenager.

I switched Elementary Schools (and States) the summer between 4th and 5th grade and frankly, it didn’t hit me that hard. At that age, you accept change easily. Moving during my Junior year, though…that was tough. I left behind friends that I had known (Teen Angst to Warp Factor 10, Mr. Sulu) most of my life!!! I also left behind (Warp Factor Zillion, Mr. Sulu with a side helping of hormones, please) my first serious girlfriend. This plus moving just before Christmas was more than a little trauma inducing to a 16 year old. I’d prefer if James didn’t have to go through it.

So…what are my options if I don’t get this job I’m interviewing for? What’s my strategy for finding gainful employment in Information Technology in a depressed economy in a depressed mostly rural area with a limited number of jobs period, much less IT jobs? Simple. Look for work where I can find it and be prepared to adjust my plans and desires to fit reality.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it. I even said it was simple. And it is…in a Zen kind of ‘simple is complex, complex is simple’ kind of way. There are two parts to this: “look for work where I can find it” and “be prepared to adjust my plans and desires to fit reality”. Lets take a look at both parts seperately.

When I say “look for work where I can find it”, the first question that comes to mind is where can I find it? There’s precious little employment available around here and I’ll apply for any of it that’s available. But what if nothing comes through? At the same time I’m applying for local jobs, I’m applying for jobs in surrounding cities with the idea that I can work there during the week and come home on weekends – not my first choice but still very doable and it still allows James to finish High School with his friends. Great, but what if nothing comes from that? That’s where my third group of applications comes into play.

You may have heard of a town called Morgantown, WV. It’s been mentioned in the news lately because it has the lowest unemployment in the nation. Morgantown is my Ace in the Hole – not because I saw it on the news but because I have family there. Morgantown is where I moved to my Junior year of High School. Tami was born there. So was my oldest son, Sean. I lived there for over 20 years. Paradoxically, Tami and I moved from Morgantown because I couldn’t find work. Things were different in the late 90’s than they are today. The thing is, working in Morgantown would almost require that I move my family. It’s just a little outside “go home on the weekend” range…which is there the ‘be prepared to adjust my plans and desires to fit reality” part comes into play.

If that’s where I can find work, that’s where I’ll work. We’ve talked to James about it and, while he’s not real happy about the possibiltiy of moving, he’s willing and able to accept it. And Morgantown is tops on his list of places to move to since, aside from having family there, he also wants to attend WVU. So even my “bad” possibilities aren’t that bad.

But we’re not there yet. I’ve still got an interview to do on Monday. And who knows, maybe I’ll get the job and we can stay right here. I hope so. It’d be nice if reality would work with me on this. But if we have to move, that’ll be good, too. Just in a different way. I mean, traumatic as it was to move during High School, if I hadn’t moved I never would have met Tami. And she’s about the best thing that’s ever happend to me. Love ya, Hon.

Let’s get these Parties started!

As I write this, Americans are (starting) to get used to their new President. The economy is tanking world-wide and everyone seems to disagree on how to fix it…although, to a layman at least, all the different ideas seem oddly similar. The Democrats are calling the President’s plan “bold” and the Republicans are calling it “irresponsible”.

Frankly, I find the behavior of both Parties pathetic. They both seem much more interested in advancing their own agendas at the expense of the other Party than they are in helping the American people.

The people of this country seem to be in favor of what the President is trying to do – not 100% but enough to matter. Certainly enough to allow Mr. Obama to use the populace as a club to threaten Congress into doing what he wants. I’m not sure how I feel about that yet but it is nice to see the congress-critters actually doing something for a change instead of just sitting around on their collective fundaments producing nothing but enough hot air to melt an ice cap.

Don’t get me wrong. I have no problem with Congress…at least, not the idea of Congress. It’s the execution of that idea that seems to need a little work. Things have gotten so polarized these last few decades that very little actually gets done. Or it gets done by one Party while they hold the majority and then gets undone when the balance swings the other way.

It seems to me – and this is not an original idea – that starting around the time of the Reagan Administration, Partisan politics have become more pronounced. It’s gotten to the point where the Republicans – the Party that claims (wrongly) to represent me – is actually boasting about hoping the President’s recovery plan fails.

Forget about the fact that it would mean that the current economic problems would get worse. Forget about the fact that this would hurt a huge number of Americans, cause even more widespread unemployment, would cause more people to lose their homes, would cause businesses to fail. Forget that it could cripple the United States to the point that it might never recover. Forget all that. The “Important Thing”TM is for President Obama’s plan to fail – utterly and completely. Because this would prove that the Republicans were right and the Democrats were wrong.

This strikes me as wrong-headed. Simple-minded. Childish. Stupid. Short-sighted. Selfish. Did I mention Childish? In other countries it might even be Treasonous. Don’t believe me on that last one? Look up the definition of Treason as defined by various other countries and compare it to the definition used by the United States. The Rush Limburgers of this country are damn lucky they’re ‘of this country’ and not from somewhere else.

And don’t think that the Democrats are pure as the driven snow. They play the same hard-ball partisan politics as the Republicans. They just look better right now because the country has just had 8 years of hard-line Republicanism. By comparison, the Democrats are a breath of fresh air. But only by comparison.

Remember what I said earlier about how things done by one party while it’s in charge are undone when things swing the other way. The Democrats are currently reversing a lot of the things done during the last 8 years by the Republicans. Some of the undoing is for the good – such as a reversal of pretty much any environmental policy made by the Bush Administration. In other cases though, it’s not necessarily such a good thing. In too many cases, Democrats take a position opposite the Republicans simply because it’s opposite the Republicans. Again, the problem is Partisan Politics.

I’d like to see our elected officials take positions and propose legislation based on a sober, balanced assessment of the facts and make decisions based on what is best for the country, not on what is best for their Political Party. Until that happens, things will not change – except for the worse.