Thursday, September 25, 2008

Hoo-Boy, What a Day! (Again)

I thought Wednesday would be much like Tuesday. Get up, check email, get dressed, work on the Obama campaign, take dogs to dog park, and spend the evening blogging and messing around online before putting in time on Heirs.

Well, some of those things happened. But that was far from the whole story.

In today's email, there was a reply from Arizona's unemployment service in response to some urgent questions I had about problems getting their automated system to accept my middle initial and social security number, and what to report for the following week. Two things wrong with, wait a minutes, three:
  • It was in reply to my urgent question from over 100 days ago, the last time I was unemployed.
  • Its canned text didn't address most of what I'd asked about, and
  • It said that I'd never filed a weekly claim, and therefore needed to start over by registering again.
I darn well had filed a weekly claim, the night before I sent the email! I'd just never received the debit card with the funds. I didn't pursue it at the time because I started work again later that week (this was the subject of one of my questions) and therefore wasn't in dire need, there was a possibility that the debit card might be in some unopened mail we'd find in due course, and, well, I did have that email out to them, which the web site promised would be answered within 72 hours!

Considering I now needed to file again and had been putting it off, I got extremely stressed out about this whole unemployment filing process. The State of Arizona had completely automated the process so that (as far as I can tell) you cannot talk to a person at all, ever. The phone router doesn't allow you to talk to a person, there are big signs up at the DES office that they don't do that stuff any more, and the only email address, well, you know what happened there. Although some of the individual screens of the online filing are clear enough, the process as a whole is arcane and confusing. The first dates you can get paid for are in the calendar week after the first full week in which you didn't work at all. I think. But you have to register during that week you're going to put a claim in for the following week. So, if I understand it correctly, I've already lost $240 or whatever it is, because I was supposed to reregister last week so that this week I could put in a claim for last week. But I didn't know I'd have to reregister until I got the email today. Clear? Fine, then explain it to me! I get all flustered and stressed trying to deal with it. It makes me feel positively stupid as I try to figure it all out.

And that's even before you take into account any database glitches. Last time out, I'd tried to file as Karen F Blocher with my social security number, and it said that combination was invalid. I took out my middle initial, and it went through - other than the fact that I never got the money. This time around, when I re-registered this afternoon, it called Karen Blocher + the social security number invalid, but went right through when I added the F back in! It makes me nervous, I tell you. I've gotten statements from Social Security that purport to show how much you've earned and what your benefit projects out to, and it's always seemed severely undervalued, as if it's not including any money I made as Karen Funk, and maybe not from the early days of my being Karen Funk Blocher. Someday I'm going to have to look one of those things over carefully and, if necessary, go downtown and ask some serious questions about it. But now, with the economy in meltdown and me unemployed, is not the time.

Another attempt to photograph this.

So with all that going on, I was close to tears when I arrived at the campaign headquesters for a few hours of ata entry. One of my fellow volunteers, a lawyer, sent me home to write up a timeline of my unemployment situation, which I did. I came back later and she critiqued it for me "as a friend," which was darn nice of her and very helpful. But the main conclusion was that I needed to get that registration done, which I then went home and did. So I didn't do any Obama work at all today, except another blog entry on, and observing the entry of data by bar code reader. Also, I offered the campaign the use of our Badge-a-Minute heavy duty Badge-a-Matic button maker for the duration. I just have to fight my way past some boxes to get it out of the closet.

For some odd reason, my negative emotional upsets tend to come packaged with unrelated good news on the same day. You may recall that almost exactly a year ago, I had my last day at ARR!, was hired by FVD, learned about Tuffy's cancer and received a rejection from DAW for Heirs, all on the same day! Today wasn't anywhere near that extreme, but it did have that ame kind of back and forth, good news/bad news quality. On Tuesday, the little USB doohickey that made the wireless mouse work on my laptop somehow disappeared between the time I put it in my case at the campaign office, and a few hours later when I went to set things back up at home. Today I looked in the car, in the driveway, on the floor between the drively and my office, on the screet between my car and the campaign office, and in the office itself. No go. So I had to replace it. The good news was that I found one at Best Buy for just $30, and it has an extra feture that should prove useful. The bad news is that there's something wrong with my CD drive or maybe the CD that came with the mouse or both. It won't run at all. The good news is that it runs fine without the software on the CD.

When I say run, run!

And if all that's not enough, let's add in the phone call I got while on the third circuit of my walking aroun the perimeter of the dog park, a little at 5 PM. It was one of my recruiters, and she wanted to know if I know QuickBooks. I had to admit that I didn't, because none of the companies I'd worked for used that. (Well, maybe Interesting Manufacturer, but only for older data, and I wasn't given access to it.) But I said I could learn it quickly. When I graduated in 2005, I used my student discount one last time to buy MS Office and Peachtree Accounting and, I thought, QuickBooks Pro. Three and a half years later, I could now open and load the software, familiarize myself with it, take a tutorial or five, and then take the ProveIt! test the recruiter sent me.

Dogs in conference

Well, that was the plan. Except I couldn't find that unopened software, no matter how many boxes I looked through. I did find the Peachtree. Maybe I didn't buy the QuickBooks after all. But I had a trial version of a seriously basic edition of it that came with my current laptop, and John found an in-depth series of tutorials online. That was about a sixty part course, and I didn;t have time to go through even a quarter of it. But I got the gist. So at three in the morning or so, I took the multiple choice test from ProveIt! and did my best to reason out the answers, or find them by looking at the screen captures that it sometimes provided. Result: 32 out of 40 questions correct in 19 and a half minutes, a score of 78%, a percentile ranking of 70. The test had a Global Average of 68%. I assume that means I did pretty darn well, considering. It's all in aid of another temp position, maternity relief again, not a temp to hire situation. But in this economy, I'll take what I can get, so long as the salary is adequate.


1 comment:

Kiva said...

Dealing with any government agency -- Unemployment, Social Security, the Post Office -- with a "problem" that is not covered in its FAQ (most of them are not covered there, but who's counting) is a real pain, but push on! I think they figure that you'll just fade away if they stonewall. Go for it.