Monthly Archives: September 2010

X marks the spot, but it has nothing to do with pirates

X marks the spot.

X marks the spot.

In ancient tales of pirates and their bold deeds, the ribbon of the stories’ plots with few exceptions twirled their way to one common element – booty.

No, not that “booty.”

Treasure, buried or otherwise – that’s the booty.

And with few exceptions, a map to the booty included an X to mark the location where the booty – the treasure – could be found. X marks the spot, the saying goes.

Inevitably, the map was either faked, or the X really didn’t mark the actual location of the treasure or mutiny and treachery prevented story stakeholders from learning the final disposition of the buried booty.

Or there was no treasure in the first place.

Of course, in most cases X didn’t actually mark the spot. Instead, it symbolized other things – greed mostly, but also dreams, aspirations, hope, and, since we are talking pirates, lots and lots of grog.

For me, however, an X this week meant a completely different thing.

It means that thread-worn safety net called unemployment insurance – simply UI for those of us unfortunate to have needed it – is coming to an end. Without further congressional action, many of the 15 million Americans out of work will also be out of luck.

You see, there is a box on the front of unemployment insurance continued claim form, under question No. 3, to be precise – that until this point had gone unfilled. The unemployment rate had been so high, the extensions coming, and other factors, that people legitimately out of work did not see the X in the box.

The X means someone on UI must turn over the form and fill in the information on the companies at which the claimant has applied for work. Seeking employment is a requirement of continued UI, but without the X to mark the spot, a claimant needed only answer “yes” to the question “Did you look for work?”

The X – along with the additional eligibility requirements for Federal-State Extended Duration Benefits, or Fed-Ed extension – means a claimant must provide the following information for potential employers contacted each week:

  • Date applied
  • Company name
  • Company address (Internet address is acceptable.)
  • Person contacted
  • Type of work applied
  • Results of the contact

The EDD knows that looking for work does not always mean an opportunity to fill out an application. But the requirements are what the requirements are and it means added anxiety and pressure to find at least three jobs each week for the form.

I wish there was buried booty where X marks the spot, but there is not. Where the X marks the spot are renewed feelings of failure, demoralization and concern for what the future may bring. It brings crashing down the house of cards that is the UI stopgap measure.

 EDD outsourcing their replies?

Here’s a sidebar to this whole thing. My latest continued claim form arrived last week, which was followed earlier this week by a form letter informing me of the number of employer contacts I needed to make each week – three.

The problem: The second form arrived too late for me to make adjustments for the first week, a week in which I applied for one job, but had a couple of phone interviews. The “three employer contact” rule seems reasonable – my personal goal each week was to apply for at least five jobs – but out of fairness to the claimant, the information should come along with the continued claim form.

I tried calling EDD to address my concerns, but calling the toll-free number led to a recorded message that provided another toll-free number, which led to another recorded message, that provided the first toll-free number. That, my friends, is a bureaucratic merry-go-round. There were no obvious options to be directed to a live person – although I since have been told that I should have dialed the first number and punched in 0 for an operator – so I went to the EDD website and used their online “Contact EDD” form.

I’m not sure, but EDD may have outsourced their reply services because the reply I received the next day was very nearly nonsensical. I asked several specific questions and received in reply: “Your feded [sic] claim was filed effective 09-XX-10 employers: on newpapers [sic], word of mouth, net working [sic], t.v., radio from friends and relatives maybe some of the source Good luck Thank you kindly.”

The reply – who in this country uses “thank you kindly” – failed to answer any of the questions I poised in my email to EDD. I suppose I’ll do the best I can to fill out the form this time around and pray that I am not determined ineligible. If I am determined ineligible, I suppose I could always search for buried treasure. … Now, where did I put that eye patch.

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Haiti suffers as U.S. delays rebuilding aid | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Haiti suffers as U.S. delays rebuilding aid | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.

Man sets himself on fire in Portland square | Bangor Daily News

Man sets himself on fire in Portland square – Bangor Daily News.

Coffeehouse observation No. 208 – National Coffee Day! National Coffee Day!

I’m having computer problems today or I most definitely would have mentioned that today is National Coffee Day! Viva, National Coffee day!

Here are a couple of links to National Coffee Day info. I’m guessing American laborers will never get a day off for National Coffee Day, but perhaps one day it will gain the status of, say, Groundhog Day.

National Coffee Day | Punchbowl

National Coffee Day: Facts you didn’t know about your cup of joe | ThirdAge

For National Coffee Day, Dunkin’ Donuts brews up its biggest coffee prize ever for the ‘Ultimate Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee Fan Contest’ | PRNewswire

National Coffee Day | Facebook

10 coffee facts for National Coffee Day | IndyPosted

Go to Coffeehouse Observer for more coffeehouse observations.

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Coffeehouse observation No. 207

I’m not sure how this is all going to work out, but I’ve decided to go without coffee today. For those now concerned with their safety, I am currently at Troke Branch Library (Stockton) and will attempt to update my movements so that you all can take the appropriate precautions to avoid contact with a caffeine-free me.

Go to Coffeehouse Observer for more coffeehouse observations.

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service releases climate change plan | SustainableBusiness.com

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service releases climate change plan | SustainableBusiness.com

Website: www.fws.gov/home/climatechange/

Nearly 4 tons of drugs collected in Maine | Bangor Daily News

Nearly 4 tons of drugs collected in Maine | Bangor Daily News.

Maine lobstermen rescue pair trapped in SUV underwater | Bangor Daily News

SOUTH THOMASTON, Maine — Two lobstermen helped to rescue a man and woman Sunday afternoon after their SUV plunged into the water near the South Thomaston Public Landing.

“We were tying up our skiff and heard a horrendous crash,” said Rolf Winters of South Thomaston. “We looked up and saw the car flying through the air.”

According to Knox County sheriff’s Deputy Matt Elwell, Frank Rankin, 77, of Camden had been driving through South Thomaston with passenger Ruth Duff, 85, also of Camden, at about 1:45 p.m. when his foot went numb. Rankin pulled in to the town landing and tried to hit the brake, but accidentally hit the accelerator instead and plunged over the stone wall and into the Weskeag River.

Winters, a retired volunteer firefighter for South Thomaston, said that he and his son Kurt Winters, 31, were 15 feet or so away when the silver Dodge Durango hit the water nose-first.

“It was airborne right in front of our eyes,” he said. “It really went down fast.”

Click for the rest of the story by Abigail Curtis in the Bangor Daily News.

Mainers tapping the power of the sun | Lewiston Sun Journal

Mainers tapping the power of the sun | Lewiston Sun Journal

Next Maine Event: Woofminster a treat for dogs’ festive friends | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Next Maine Event: Woofminster a treat for dogs’ festive friends | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

WOOFMINSTER AMATEUR DOG SHOW

WHEN: Saturday, Oct. 2, 1 to 4 p.m.

WHERE: Camp Ketcha, Scarborough

HOW MUCH: $10 adults, $5 kids and dogs

FOOD OPTIONS: Free dog treats. For humans there will be a homemade bake sale and drinks for sale.

PARKING: Camp Ketcha has ample free parking.

DON’T MISS: Doggie limbo

KID-FRIENDLY FACTOR: Great. Color Me Mine will have a paint-your-own pottery area to create dog bowls and picture frames. Face painting and a coloring area will also be offered for little humans.

BENEFITS: Planet Dog Foundation, a (501)k nonprofit, sponsors this event to raise money for service dog programs in Maine.

IN CASE OF BAD WEATHER: Rain or shine

MORE INFO:

www.planetdogfoundation.org

Clinton rallies base for Mitchell | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Clinton rallies base for Mitchell | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.

L.L. Bean chairman to receive The Bowdoin Prize | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

L.L. Bean chairman to receive The Bowdoin Prize | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.

Mainers offered chance to dump unwanted prescriptions | Bangor Daily News

Mainers offered chance to dump unwanted prescriptions | Bangor Daily News.

Old Town Riverfest features events for the whole family | Bangor Daily News

Old Town Riverfest features events for the whole family | Bangor Daily News.

3,000 attend tractor-pulling event in Millinocket | Bangor Daily News

3,000 attend tractor-pulling event in Millinocket | Bangor Daily News.

Celebrating Common Ground in photos | Bangor Daily News

Celebrating Common Ground – Bangor Daily News.

Lewiston couple to defend Wife Carrying Championship title | Lewiston Sun Journal

NEWRY — The Lewiston couple who won last fall’s North American Wife Carrying Championship will defend their title next month when Sunday River Ski Resort hosts the 11th annual event.

Held on Saturday, Oct. 9, the event marks the couple’s last chance to qualify for the World Wife Carrying Championship in Finland held in July of next year.

The Newry event touts a prize list including the wife’s weight in beer, five times her weight in cash, and serious bragging rights, resort spokeswoman Darcy Morse said in a Thursday report.

With a time of 54.45 seconds last year, Dave and Lacey Castro of Lewiston beat a field of 46 couples coming from as far away as California.

“Last year’s champions, Dave and Lacey Castro, have already signed up and are definitely planning on defending their title,” Morse said.

Click for the video of last year’s event and the rest of the story by Terry Karkos in the Lewiston Sun Journal.

Registration for the event is available online and open until the day of the event, Morse said. Cost is $45 per team. For more information on the NAWCC or any of the events happening during this Fall Festival Weekend, visit www.sundayriver.com.

Wounded Marine gets hero’s welcome in Washburn | Bangor Daily News

Wounded Marine gets hero’s welcome | Bangor Daily News.

Lobster prices hold as catch remains high | Bangor Daily News

Lobster prices hold as catch remains high | Bangor Daily News.

This weekend, visit the Common Ground Fair or see Maine phenom Spose | Bangor Daily News

This weekend, visit the Common Ground Fair or see Maine phenom Spose | Bangor Daily News.

Online information connected to some of the stories:

mofga.org

myspace.com/spizzyspose