For the first time in over ten years, I find myself without a job. Fortunately, I have a skill or two that can be utilized to bring in at least a little bit of cash to help me through this period of non-employment. And there's always Unemployment Insurance, right? I've been paying into California's Unemployment fund for the past six years (since I brought the family into the Golden State) and have never touched a dime...so there should be no problem getting some assistance through this bumpy spot, should there?
Well, getting into Employment Development Department's (EDD) system isn't a problem. It's as easy as completing an online form. But getting money when you aren't just lying around watching TV all day...isn't quite that easy.
If I was a single guy living in a tiny one-bedroom apartment in the worst part of San Diego, I could probably get by on what EDD provides...but I'm not. I have three people depending on me to provide food and shelter for them. Still, I thought the $1,800 a month would supplement whatever money my consulting brought in quite nicely and I would be able to breathe more easily as I sought a new job.
Not so fast, bucko.
Apparently, one is only entitled to EDD's $1,800 if one sits around doing nothing that could be mistaken for work. Nevermind that I'm keeping myself more employable by taking these small jobs or that I was working on these same projects even while employed full-time. No, no, no...only the hopelessly helpless, lazy and destitute are entitled to the money I put into the system. I'm entitled to a sliver of this money and not one cent more (though if I keep my earnings low enough, I can still get at least part of the $1,800).
But, but...this is San Diego. A family of four can't be expected to live on $1,800 a month here, can they? Or maybe I'm expected to bleed my savings dry while receiving support from the EDD and doing nothing more than applying for jobs from the couch?
I realize there are cheaters and these rules have been put into place to stop sponges from collecting unemployment while earning a good income from non-fulltime work. But even though I can understand the reasons, understanding them does nothing to help my situation.
So...anybody out there want to hire a programmer who hasn't used Java or VB for quite a few years and has never done any real C/C++, .Net or ASP development? I can hold my own with Cold Fusion, PHP, MySQL, SQL Server and even Visual Foxpro...all in a Windows environment. Unfortunately, this combination of skills seem to be less than marketable right now.
Or maybe I'm just a social leper with really bad interview skills. I don't know.
Moving right along...
In less depressing news...I've watched a few new videos that were worth the time spent watching: Employee of the Month (you could almost believe that Jessica simpson's IQ was larger than her bra size and Dane Cook - while not the comic genius so many claim - wasn't bad in his role), The Illusionist (a very thought-provoking tale of class-struggles, political corruption, and..well, magic) and Idiocracy (a very gim and frightening vision of our future, indeed). I'm sure there were others, but I can't remember any further back than that, so be assured that you can rent any of those films without reservation (Idiocracy is not for "family viewing," though. It's filled with profanity and sex-related dialogue - what else would one expect of a dumbed down future population?). We also saw Stranger than Fiction while traveling. It wasn't quite what I expected, but was quite good.
I haven't really been in the right mental state to do a lot of reading, so I've read about 70-80 pages of David McCullough's Jon Adams over the past two weeks, but while traveling for the Christmas holidays, I did manage to read a couple of things: RA Salvatore's The Highwayman and a short little thing (about 20 pages) by David McCullough called The Course of Human Events (taken from the 2003 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities). The Highwayman was a combination of several characters I'm familiar with: RobinHood, the Dread Pirate Roberts (from The Princess Bride), and even a little bit of Peter Parker/Spider-man. It was corny at times, but entertaining for the most part and no worse than many other fantasy novels I've consumed. The Course of Human Events, on the other hand, was far from corny and - though a scant 20 pages - was a very educational, if not deep and meaningful, read. I'm really not feeling much like spewing out full book (or movie) reviews right now, but here's one of many excerpts from The Course of Human Events that I found poignant (which I suspect I will eventually come across in John Adams):
The oldest written constitution still in use in the world today is the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, drafted by John Adams in 1778, just two years after the Declaration of Independence and fully a decade before our national Constitution. In many respects, it is a rough draft of our national Constitution. But it also contains a paragraph on education that was without precedent. Though Adams worried that it would be rejected as too radical, it was passed unanimously. Listen, please, to what it says:
Wisdom and knowledge, as well as virtue, diffused generally among the body of the people being necessary for the preservation of their rights and liberties [which is to say that there must be wisdom, knowledge and virtue or all aspirations for the good society will come to nothing.] And as these depend on spreading the opportunities and advantages of education in various parts of the country, and among the different orders of the people [that is everyone] it shall be the duty [not something they might consider, but the duty] of legislators and magistrates in all future periods of this commonwealth to cherish the interests of literature and the sciences, and all seminaries of them...public schools, and grammar schools in the towns.
And he goes on to define what he means by education. It is literature and the sciences, yes, but much more: agriculture, the arts, commerce, trades, manufacturers, "and a natural order of the country." It shall be the duty, he continues,
to countenance and inculcate the principles of humanity and general benevolence, public and private charity, industry and frugality, honesty [we will teach honesty]...sincerity, [and, please note] good humor and all social affections, and generous sentiments among the people.
What a noble statement!
Oh, and I'm sorry about the long space between posts (yet again). If I thought anyone was actually reading this drivel, I might be a little more dedicated...but I suspect that Steve and Dan are my only two readers so I figure, "Why bother?"
I suppose I could have mentioned the lack of snow in Idaho over Christmas or the loot I got for Christmas, my awesome new bookcase or quite a few other things (though I haven't drawn anything worthy of mention is quite some time)...but, as Marvin the Paranoid Android said, "I think you ought to know, I'm feeling very depressed."