Saturday, September 24, 2011

First in a Series: Coping with Unemployment

(Ed. note: this is the first in a series of posts in an attempt to help others to get back into the workforce, one step at a time.  It's drawn from my personal experiences, from several months back, and has a happy ending, because that's how we do it in America.)

#1: Fallout.

It's a great day.  You've answered a few emails and calls, things are going smoothly and you know you've got a chance to wrap up some projects you had waiting for you while you were out the week before.

Then you get a call.  "Hey, could you come down here for a minute?".  Sounds innocuous.  It's someone from HR, calling from an office that's been empty since that person moved onto another part of the company.

You open the door once you get there, and your boss and the HR person are sitting there.  Your boss has his coffee, the HR person has some paperwork in front of her and they ask you to close the door.

You're being laid off.

Maybe you're given a severance, maybe not.  Either way, your job function just changed from what it was to "find some way to put food on the table".

You're led back to your desk, you gather your personal touches, your can opener, your food, your digital picture frame, whatever else you have that you own at your desk.  Security escorts you to the front door.

You're on your own.  You call your wife.  The house you were two weeks away from closing on is probably not yours now.  Health coverage is part of the severance, so for the moment your family is OK in that regard.

You're simultaneously enraged and close to tears.  The life you had was entirely wrapped up in this job.  Your performance was perfect, you were extremely proud of the work you did and you thought your boss was too.

What do you do now?  That's what I want to cover over a series of posts on this topic.

Fallout is hard to deal with.  You don't know what to do, you don't know what to say; you're stuck in neutral.  You want to shout your anger from the rooftops.  You want to retaliate and show your boss your anger.  You want to jump online and leave uncensored blog posts all over the place about how asinine your boss and your old company are, how they don't appreciate your hard work and how you're always picking up the mess from those jerks in Pod 6 (I HATE those guys!).

Let me make this perfectly clear.  THAT IS THE WORST THING YOU COULD POSSIBLY DO.  Especially in this age of Facebook, Twitter and blogging, word gets around.  As much as you may want to, DON'T.  Don't do it because it's the WRONG thing to do.  There's a thousand and one reasons I could come up with for why this is a bad idea.  You need them for references.  You need them to say good things.  You may need them further down the line for other things as well.  Oh, and it's basic human decency to be nice to begin with.  So yeah.  Aside from all that, there's the fact that we all tend to overstate our efforts or involvement in things - even if you were carrying the world on your shoulders, it doesn't serve anything to throw that around online.  Sure, you may feel immediately relieved and it's arguable (though I don't believe it myself) that maybe it's good to relieve stress like this, but any real adult could tell you that EVERY action has consequences.  EVERY.  SINGLE.  ONE.  Saying nothing is the best approach.  Just trust me on this one.

So what do you do?

Take that energy and put it towards more positive outcomes.

1) Put together a list of everyone you know and where they work, and a separate list of people you know from your most recent job who can give you a good reference.  Reach out to the people on the second list (independently - don't use a form letter and don't email all of them at once; it's just rude and shows that you don't really care about these people) and start checking with the companies on the first list looking for positions in your field.
2) Get your resume together.  If you don't have an up-to-date resume, get your information together and update it.  If you don't have ANY resume, talk to someone you know about getting one put together.   Be sure to have plenty of candy, cookies, beer, wine, etc. for them - they're doing you a damn big favor and you'd better be ready to show them some appreciation (keep it clean, for crying out loud).
3) Get yourself an account on LinkedIn.  Connect with everyone from your old job or previous positions that you can possibly remember.  LinkedIn has a meter that shows you what extra steps you can take to spruce up your profile, including reminders to ask for references from your former co-workers (typically it's a two-way process).
3a) Update your Facebook, and any other online accounts you may have, and remove your old company as your current company.  Facebook leaves a notification on your wall when you do this - personally, I removed this notification as soon as I saw it just so I wouldn't have thirty people commenting asking what happened.  It's up to you - I didn't want to sit there and explain things.  Any mentions I made on Facebook were pointing out that details could be had if people messaged me (which they did, though not in droves thankfully).
4) Look up details on unemployment benefits in your area.  If you work in one state and live in another (like I did), you'll likely need to file for unemployment in the state you worked in.

Once you've got all of that done, we'll proceed with Part 2: Picking Up The Pieces.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bucket List

Without comment... and no, I haven't seen the film.

- Get married / have beautiful and super-smart kids.
- Work at an awesome job where I do what I love.
- Own a home.
- Go on an extended road trip with previously mentioned wife and kids.
- Get mentioned on someone else's blog.
- Get mentioned on a famous blog.
- Get mentioned on a family member's blog. (Finally!)
- Visit a foreign country.
- Visit the West Coast.
- Visit the Midwest.
- Visit the Southeast.
- Visit the Northwest.
- Visit the Southwest.
- Hawaii?  Too much?
- Meet Rush Limbaugh.
- Meet Sean Hannity.
- Meet Mark Levin.
- Meet Sarah Palin.
- Meet Glenn Beck.
- Meet Chris Christie.
- Meet Greg Gutfeld.
- Sit down with Glenn and/or Chris and/or any of the above and explain how the unions and the tax system killed the passenger train, and come up with a plan to have the private sector revitalize the system through government divestiture of all passenger rail services at all levels.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

How True.. And Yet They're Unaware...

Secret Codes You Aren't Meant To Know (


Know Common Secret Codes To Get A Head Start On Your Epic Escape (

Scroll down for codes used by international agencies.

Code Pink:  - Patient is under influence of illegal substances (UK First Aid organisations)

How true.

Science, Fiction, and the Catholic Church

I'm a sci-fi geek. I love Star Trek, Star Wars and pretty much anything having to do with space and military ship battles. It's escapist fantasy of the highest unlikelihood, but it's interesting all the same.

It also gets my mind going - what haven't they said? What is missing here? What exactly did that person mean with that off-the-cuff comment? Filling in the pieces of the puzzle is, I think, one of the best parts of a good sci-fi story. It's good to tie up loose ends, but it's absolutely inspiring to wonder what happened to bring about certain details or what happens after the credits roll.

It helps to get your details right in the first place, though, because sometimes you look at a story and you wonder if the person did even the slightest bit of research into the topic at hand. Anyone who watched Lost had to sit there and wonder how Hurley never lost a pound of weight despite being stuck on an island for many years (as a recently released deleted scene explained, he was there past the four years of the rest of the cast - much longer, it seems). It's a deserted island in the south Pacific near the equator - at least the guy would've taken off a good fifty to one hundred pounds in the first month or two, even with the airdrops from the Dharma people - and nary a heat stroke case to boot! One can see very easily that a hint of research would go a long way towards bumps in the storyline.

I recently came upon an article by a liberal sci-fi author, Michael Burstein, who wondered where the limit existed on political labels in sci-fi stories - how they affect the story, how much they reflect the beliefs of the author. His query came from a story a friend had passed his way about twin boys and the life they lead, literally from conception to death, and how details the author had given indicated that the evil twin (because it's not sci-fi if there's not a goatee-wearin' evil twin running around) was a strong American pro-life conservative. There wasn't much in the way of details of the "good" twin but there doesn't have to be - simply the implication that the evil one is conservative is enough for most readers to jump to the conclusion that the good twin is liberal. The author only had a scant few details about the political ideology of the evil twin brother and nothing about the good twin. In his criticism, Burstein indicated that, while he was a liberal, he might have given more detail and weight to both of the brothers, and not simply sketched haphazardly one of them in such a manner. His criticism reminded him of a short story he'd written previously about an alien debating the Galileo controversy with a priest, and how he himself had faced criticism for comments that appeared to take the Church's side. He goes on to basically say he was writing a character, and that there's a difference between the narrator and the character and their points of view, which I agree with and embrace, but which is not the point I'm trying to get at. I read over parts of Sanctuary out of sheer curiosity - a sci-fi author paints the Church in a good light? Fascinating! - and found myself rather disappointed at the lack of research.


"Sanctuary" is a story about an alien who interrupts Mass on a space station during Communion to request assistance from a human priest - specifically sanctuary from her people's laws on pregnancy and childbirth (her culture restricts childbirth among twins to only one twin - and her sister had already given birth). Sounds like a great story already! I'm loving this!

Oh, but wait, this person only knows scant details about how the Church works. *insert cursing here*

The priest refuses to make this alien a Catholic based on a previous Pope's ruling during the Vatican V council (it's the future, of course) that it would be inappropriate to proselytize to non-humans and that he can't say for certain whether her child or children would have souls. On top of that, after disrupting Communion in such a manner, the priest calls an end to Mass before actually distributing Communion to the faithful in attendance, and then discusses putting the "wafers and wine" away with another character. Wrapping up near the end of what is apparently the first part of the story, the priest mentions going to a higher authority for resolution of their predicament - supposedly a female priest.

I know about fifty people who can see the problems here, but let me spell it out, sentence by sentence.

-- The question of aliens and whether they have souls like ours has not, of course, officially been discussed by the Vatican (there are more pressing matters at the moment). The general rule of thumb, though, has been to assume that intelligent beings have souls. Basically, if you're able to build a ship and fly it over to Earth, yeah, you've got a soul, unless God opens up the skies and definitively says "NOPE, NO SOULS HERE!" Also, one of the Church's core missions has always been to bring the Light of Christ to the world - and one would assume that extends past Earth's atmosphere. For any priest to ever refuse baptism or even the likelihood of baptism to any intelligent being who clearly understands the grave responsibility they are taking upon themselves would be scandalous at best, and mortally sinful at worst.

-- No priest would ever halt a Mass because someone is being arrested or taken away. A) Communion is five minutes long. Sit down and be respectful of what's going on, and wait until it's done. Period. B) Priests have said Mass through much worse things - like bombings during wartime - so for this to happen you'd have to be literally dragging the priest himself away.

-- PRIME EXAMPLE THAT DESERVES ITS OWN PARAGRAPH (It's that important!): Post-consecration, the wafers and wine on the altar are THE REAL AND TRULY PRESENT BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST (FOR REALS) and DO NOT GET PUT AWAY IN THE SACRISTY. They get served to the people - or put away in the Tabernacle - BUT THEY ARE NOT PUT IN A CLOSET IN THE SACRISTY.

-- There will NEVER be female priests. The Church has been crystal clear on this time and time and time again.

Great concept ruined by poor delivery and even poorer research. F--

*edited 1:36 PM EST - added links*

Friday, March 19, 2010

Jeff Boss: Idiot

If you've lived or worked in the Newark area over the past few years, you know Jeff Boss.

You know him from the many wonderful postings on the underpasses of Newark roads. Here's a small reminder, to help jog your memory.

Obviously I blurred out the man's license plate - I'm not telling the NSA where he lives!

He's got several postings on the Jackson Street Bridge....

and near Newark's Broad Street Station...

View Larger Map

(his rantings are on the on-ramp to I-280 - on the map, immediately to the right of the marker).

This man is a disgusting waste of oxygen. He's taken the worst attack on the United States in several generations and turned it into a publicity stunt. He, and all the other troofers out there, makes me sick to my stomach.

He was outside my office today, peddling his crap and trying to sell people on the idea. Seriously, last election in NJ this guy ran for Governor, Senate, and about a thousand other positions. His main platform has been getting to the "troof" behind 9/11. I only had time to grab a couple of pictures earlier, because I'm a real man with a job who works for a living and doesn't hand out crap about how he was present for NSA meetings where 9/11 was supposedly planned by GWB. When I wrapped up my other work and went down to challenge him, he'd run away already.

No doubt the cops didn't take kindly to having some inbred moron telling the public that their brothers in arms had been killed in some conspiracy by the government (when every bit of sane and logical evidence points to 19 individual wastes of human being).

Also, as Dr. Rusty Shakleford of the Jawa Report pointed out when we spoke via email, if the NSA were as powerful as they say, he'd be dead. Personally, I think if he was at all right in his assumptions, he'd never have been able to say anything about it. I almost wish he wasn't ever able to proclaim his idiocy, and I refuse to link to his site and propogate his crap - go to Wikipedia or read this article about him from the elections if you're a sadist and actually want to know more about him.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

More Wrongheaded Idiocy

I'm pretty sure it's clear I hate greenies at this point. If not, the Hunterdon County Democrat provides several pretty clear reasons.

Basically, NJ Transit wants to build a bus and rail station in Clinton Township, and the mayor and town council are against it. Why? Sprawl. Environmental crap. Supposedly heavy traffic.

Yeaaaaah. See, here's the breakdown. We'll start with that, as we do and should with everything.

The Raritan Valley Line is the red-headed stepchild of the NJ Transit rail lines. It used to be a supplement to the Northeast Corridor (nee Penn Central) line, running from 30th Street Station over to West Trenton, and running from West Trenton to North Branch, onto Newark. Today, after fifty years of craptacular economics for the rail industry as a whole, the RVL bypasses the West Trenton branch and instead heads out west to Annandale and High Bridge. The line terminates at Newark Penn Station because the line is the only one in North Jersey to remain unelectrified and so must use diesel-powered trains to move around, which would not be such a grand limitation but for the fact that restrictions on the Hudson Tunnels limit its use to electrified rolling stock (another word for trains) only. In English, the trains are gas-powered and not electrified, and because they're not electrified they can't use the tunnels. Eventually, within a year or so, this won't be an issue because NJ Transit, in their quest to break down walls between stations and allow riders to complete more one-seat (no transfer) rides, will be introducing hybrid trains into their fleet that will allow the RVL trains to operate on diesel or biodiesel until Newark, and continue onwards after that on electrified rails.

Some of the current rolling stock are quieter and more enviro-friendly than others, which means the plumes of smoke and thunderous roar of the trains are far less intense than on other trains. You can tell the difference if you're driving alongside them at any point - the newer trains look, well, awesome and are sleek and futuristic and are made of win. The older trains look like pretty much every picture you've ever seen of freight trains, only with dour, craptastic NJ Transit black/grey colors. Nothing says LET'S RIDE THE SUPERTRAIN TO AWESOMETOWN like black/grey. No wonder people don't like commuting.

Getting back to my point, the fact is that the old and busted crapliners outnumber the new hotness supertrains by a sizable margin. New Hotness are set aside for the morning and evening rushes, but after that it's just the Old & Busted for the rest of the day. The people along the route are likely pissed off at having to deal with these things at all hours of the day and night. I can understand that.

There are solutions to such problems - moving away from the train, pressuring NJ Transit to get more of the modern (quieter) trains, asking them to limit service past a certain hour, have the town erect sound barriers near the train... but none of those options matter very much.

The problem is the fact that people want to control others. They really don't care about the train and its noise, because such things go hand-in-hand with living near a train station at all. No matter how quiet it gets, it'll never be totally silent. These people are fine having the ability to leave their little quiet town on the other side of the state - they just don't want others coming into their little quiet town because they think (mistakenly, of course) that will increase the rate of crime and bring disease, famine, pestilince, Ragnarok, Cthulu and the Cloverfield monster. Oh, and aliens too. Not those "illegals" we keep hearing about, although they'll probably show up in droves too - no, the ones from the movies with the city ships and the Resistance Is Futile bumper stickers and the brain eating and the hey hey hey it hurts!

Yes, that's a tad over the top. That's the point. These people are going nuts over nothing.

Friday, April 3, 2009

I Refuse To Accept "The Way Things Are" In New Jersey

I'm mad as hell.  For once, Governor Corzine is actually trying to do something to really fix a significant problem in New Jersey, and the public employees union is taking him to court to prevent it from happening.  

Let's start with the basics, as we always do and always should.

Unions in the United States at one time had a just and rightful place in the bargaining process between employers and employees - it happened occasionally that employers would overstep their bounds and take actions that would be critically detrimental to the health and well-being of their employees, and unions helped the individual workers from being overrun and run roughshod over.  Then a funny thing happened - given that power of bargaining, the unions ran with it, to the ends of the earth.  They became institutionalized in certain areas thanks to the Wagner Act, a law designed to step in and force employers to accept bargaining from unions instead of simply hiring a new workforce when their existing one presented "demands" and threatened to walk out.  They forced employers to give into almost anything they could come up with, to the point of forcing employers into bankruptcy just to pay for their new "benefits" they were supposedly owed.  

Let's get one thing straight right now: the only reason unions obtained any sort of control was the Great Depression.  Unions came in and initially were able to help their members keep their jobs - but the employers didn't have the opportunity to just walk away from the bargaining table and find some new workers, because once the unions got their members back to work, they raised the bar for removing people from their positions and made it damn near impossible for employers to remove lazy and unproductive workers from the environment or move more productive workers into new areas.  Put simply, unions knocked industry to the ground and sat on it until they got what they wanted, and threatened like that, industry went along to ensure its own immediate or short-term survival.  

It gets better.  Seeing the control they could obtain over private-sector positions, unions began creeping into the public sector, supposedly to help police, firemen, road workers, secretaries and any other people employed by government at any level.  That's led to a number of bad things, like the current fiscal crisis faced by many transit agencies across the country - fares keep going up but service gets cut back further and further because the money has to pay for contracts negotiated by the thugs in these unions.  

Let me take a moment here and tell you: both my father and my father in law are involved in unions - my father is a member of the nursing union and my father in law is a member of the railroad worker's union.  I won't go further with details because I'd rather not disclose private details, but suffice to say, I've benefitted from union negotiations myself, as the son of a union worker and as the son-in-law of a union worker.  That being said, I believe unions should be de-institutionalized, and that all existing union members ought to be able to cast secret ballots determining whether they want to remain as members of the union or to have their workplace union dismantled and removed.  The Wagner Act was made for a different time and place, where America was facing different challenges, brought on by socialist policies and heavy-handed government regulation.  Pull it out, and let the people decide what they want.  

Bring back the free market.