Friday, February 29, 2008

Happy Intercalary Day

There's something fascinating to me about leap year. Calendars represent the passage of time, and time is one of those constant universal laws. Yet, we seem to bend that law every four years by adding a day. I envy those who have birthdays on this rare date. Well, rare for some families, anyway.

With much help from a new friend in Taiwan, I updated my CV yesterday and will be sending it to a potential employer today. I slapped on a suit and tie and had a local friend snap photos of me lookin' "pro-feshinul." There's the result; you can judge for yourself whether I look businesslike or serial killer-ish. I still haven't heard from Hess, so next week I'll start sending out my CV in earnest. My hope is that I have a job before I leave for Taiwan, but I may end up having to go there and pound the pavement.

Although I managed to stay healthy all winter, this morning I woke up with a head cold...bummer. I hope I'm feeling better for Amanda's birthday tomorrow. Ugh, I'm feeling crappier by the moment, gonna go lie down.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Playing the game

In my research on life in Taiwan I've learned that, to deal successfully with various legal and governmental institutions, one must know how to "play the game." Yet, it's not all that different here in the US.

Take, for instance, my experience dealing with the Unemployment Department (EDD). First, there are no more brick-and-mortar offices; everything is handled over the phone at their call centers. This equates to sometimes hours of trying to get through, because most of the time you'll receive the message, "We are currently receiving more call than we can process. Please call back at another time." I guess they figure, since we're unemployed, we have all the time in the world. Time, perhaps, but patience, well....

I discovered a way to get through, though. When that irritating phone menu starts playing, do not press the "Problems with your claim" or "Haven't received my check" options, because you'll never get through. Instead, try all the other options, even if they don't apply to you. After trying for and hour and a half this morning, I wised up and pressed the "Need to reschedule a telephone interview" option. Didn't apply to me, but I got to speak to a human—a sweet girl named Tiffany—after only a 5 minute hold. Score!

My problem with EDD (this time) was that I hadn't received my payment, now a week overdue. Frankly, when I filled out the last claim form, I predicted that there would be a problem, because I recently completed my Job Retraining and therefore had to check one box differently on the claim form. It was this tiny deviation from the norm—that one box—that threw my claim into limbo. The frustrating part is that, if you don't contact EDD, your claim will sit in limbo indefinitely, because they certainly won't contact you.

This has happened to me before, on more than one occasion. Last time I didn't receive a check I called them up (it took two days of trying to get through) and got a "Gosh, I don't know why it didn't process" explanation from the rep. He then simply pressed a button on his terminal, and voilà, my check was issued, with no further explanation. If I hadn't called, it would still be there.

I've dealt with bureaucratic craziness all my life, so I'm not frightened by the horror stories coming from expats in Taiwan. Just to be safe, though, I may look into learning some Buddhist relaxation techniques once I'm there. Much better than hurling the phone out the window.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Back home in Humboldt

I saw this strange fruit the other day at Safeway. It's called a Buddha's Hand, and is similar to a large lemon, but without much of a pulp. It's used primarily for its zest, and for perfuming homes and closets in Asia. I was tempted to buy one as a table decoration until I found out the price: $14.95/lb! I'll wait until I'm in Asia.

Life is rolling along. I completed the TESOL course on Februrary 1st. We got together at a nearby bar (The Cellar) and celebrated our graduation. As soon as I can figure out who took photos and how to get a hold of them, I'll post some here. I gained a great deal of valuable teaching skills which I'm looking forward to implementing (as soon as I can get a job!)

BTW, The Celler is next door to a relaxing coffee house, and guess who we saw there? Yep, Mrs. Kevin Bacon.

When Theresa and Amanda picked me up from San Francisco, they surprised me with a trip to the Winchester Mansion in San José. I've wanted to see that crazy lady's house since I was 9 years old, when I first saw pictures of it on my Viewmaster. Let me tell you, after seeing the bizarre house that Nutty Sarah designed herself, you'll feel proud of any poorly designed dog houses you've built in the past.

By the way, I got the Amazon problem resolved. I have reservations about ever buying anything through them myself.

I sent my application to Hess on Monday. They wrote back on Tuesday saying that they're going over applications this month for the June 1st intake, and will be contacting me shortly regarding an interview. I'm very excited, but trying not to get my hopes too far inflated.

I came upon contact information for two people with whom I performed the Rocky Horror show back in the early '80s. Greg played Riff-Raff, and now is a very popular morning DJ in Las Vegas. Bonnie, who played Janet, has a MySpace page, but not too much information on it. I wrote to them both yesterday; we'll see if I get any replies.

The spellcheck isn't working on Blogger for some reason, so just ignore my typos.