Stuff about me
My name is Keith Michaud and this is “Letters From Away,” a blog written by a Mainer living outside the comfortable and sane confines of New England. The blog is intended for Mainers, whether they live in the Pine Tree State or beyond, and for anyone who has loved ’em, been baffled by ’em or both. Ayuh, I am “from away.” Worse still, I live on the Left Coast – in California. Enjoy! Or not. Your choice.
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Stuff people write
- How Maine Became a Laboratory for the Future of Public Higher Ed | The Chronicle of Higher Education
- Angus King Urges Interior Department To Reconsider Offshore Drilling Proposal | Mainepublic.org
- Maine Voices: Higher education, employers must work together for bright future | Portland Press Herald
- Stunning reversal: McDaniels turns down Colts’ job to stay with Patriots | The Associated Press via the Portland Press Herald
- Kennebec River water levels could stay high into next week | Bangor Daily News
Tag Archives: jobs
Maine jobs news good, but still leaves cause for concern | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram
I hate this. I absolutely hate this!
Today makes 14 months since I was laid off from my job at The Record in Stockton, Calif. That is one year and two months; or 56 weeks; or 417 days; or 10,008 hours, give or take; 600,480 minutes.
Give or take. But who’s counting. Phew! …
I’ve written about this before, so I won’t belabor this too much. To make a long story – at 14-month long story – short, I had been a journalist at mid-sized newspapers in Northern California for 22 years. I had been working at The Record since 2006 when I was laid off March 5, 2009.
Underestimating the severity of the downward dive in the economy, I assumed that I would be back to work within three months or so if I made finding a job my job. But three months came and went. And then six months. And nine months. And one year. Now, 14 months.
I have been looking for work every since – at newspapers, wire services, online news services, governments, green industries, nonprofits. I recently applied for a job at a greeting card company, which I’m sure my newspaper buddies will find as ironic as I find ironic. I mean, a long-time curmudgeonly crime and chaos reporter turned curmudgeonly copy editor turned curmudgeonly columnist turned curmudgeonly assistant news editor turned curmudgeonly opinion page editor – you get the point – is not your typical greeting card employee.
Over-qualified or undertrained, that’s been part of my problem. Oh, and trying to find a job in a really shitty economy doesn’t help.
I have applied for hundreds of jobs from sea to shining sea. Seriously, sea to shining sea, and a few places in between. My job search has centered on the West – California, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona and Washington state – and my native New England – Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Frankly, I’ve noticed that the greater the distance the job opening, the lower the chances that I’ll even get an email telling thanks, but no thanks, but I keep trying. Everything has to be about making a step forward every single day.
But – again, frankly – momentum has been a problem. The holidays took a bit of the wind out of my momentum sail – too many three-day weekends that stretched into four-day segments when job websites didn’t post new openings. And – again, frankly – there usually wasn’t many job openings to be posted, even without three-day weekends that stretched into four days.
But things are changing. Or so they say. The economy is picking up. Or so they say. And businesses and nonprofits and governments and everyone is hiring or at least planning on hiring. Or so they say.
I have noticed more and more job openings being posted on job websites and more friends and acquaintances are passing along more job openings.
And I am again gaining momentum and applying for more jobs. I even feel confident enough to be relatively selective in my job pursuit – the greeting card application notwithstanding. (Very frankly, that job would be pretty cool, despite the irony of a crusty, dusty newspaperman participating in something as soft and fluffy as the greeting card biz.)
I’m fed up with being unemployed.
I’m hungry to get back to work.
I’m ready, willing and able to get back to work.
I’m just hunting for a break.
I’m sure that I will be working again. I just want it to be now. Now would be good.
The Economics of Wind: What’s behind the interest, and what’s it mean for jobs | Lewiston Sun Journal
[I’m a wind-power proponent in that I strongly believe we need to greatly reduce our foreign oil addiction. And we need to find a much more environmentally friendly energy source. Below is the top section of the first part of a two-part series by the Lewiston Sun Journal on wind energy. I intend to link the second part tomorrow, whether either part supports my beliefs or not. It is an important issue and an important time for energy in Maine. So, it is important to have as much information as possible, even if you or I do not want to know that information. – KM]
Sun Journal Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series. The second part will run on Monday, April 12.
As Maine inches toward its goal of more wind power development, the financial justifications for and against are almost as hard to grasp as the wind itself.
Environmental activist Jonathan Carter, for example, wrote in a recent newspaper opinion piece that up to 60 percent of the cost of wind power projects is covered by federal subsidies. That figure’s important, with wind power opponents saying wind shouldn’t rely on high government subsidies and proponents saying it deserves the same treatment as other energy suppliers.
When asked, Carter pointed to National Wind Watch as the source of his information.
National Wind Watch pointed to a semi-retired former coal official in Virginia.
When the Sun Journal contacted that man, he pointed to a Los Angeles lawyer who works with wind farm developers … and his math, it turns out, isn’t so clear-cut.
IDEXX says it plans Westbrook expansion, adding jobs | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram
BANGOR, Maine — Abiel and Bettyjo Martinez bought a home in Etna in 2005 with an adjustable rate mortgage, the only loan they were eligible for.
In two years, their interest rate ballooned to 12 percent and their monthly payment nearly doubled from $900 to $1,700.
They scraped by for a while until Abiel Martinez lost his job and watched several months pass before he could collect unemployment. Then his wife lost her job. So they went back to their lender to modify their loan.
“They told us we could modify, but we had to pay $3,800 to start that process,” he said. “How can we pay $3,800 if we can’t afford the mortgage?”
The mortgage company had no choice but to start foreclosure proceedings. The Martinezes and their three children were in danger of being forced from their home.
Click on the link for the rest of today’s story by Eric Russell in the Bangor Daily News.
Information about the state’s foreclosure diversion program is available at http://www.courts.state.me.us/court_info/services/foreclosure/index.html.
Maine jobless rate rises slightly in February to 8.3% | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram
Some anniversaries simply are not meant to be celebrated. The death of a loved one. The start of war. The day reality TV started. These are anniversaries best not noted.
Today is one of those days, at least for me.
But I’m going to note it anyway.
It was one year today that I was laid off. Before that I had been in the newspaper industry for 22 years working as a reporter, copy editor, columnist, assistant news editor, opinion page editor, assistant city editor and website staff writer. The only other time I had been laid off was from a restaurant table-busing job I had in college and that was because I took off with little notice for about a month to work at my other summer job as a wildland firefighter.
A beautiful and beautifully talented woman who was laid off the same day from the same newspaper calls it a “canniversary” – a year since being canned. She is among the very lucky; she counts being laid off as a blessing because she found a new career outside of the newspaper industry doing things that she loves. I am pleased for her and not at all surprised she found a bit of employment bliss.
Some of us, not so lucky. But still very much plugging away.
Really, I don’t want to come across as whiny. At least, not too much.
I have written that I knew a year ago that losing my job was not my fault, but instead the result of a convulsing economy and industry leaders who were blind to or simply ignored the emerging trends in the newspaper industry. Of course, those same industry leaders retained their jobs, while talented people such as my “canniversary” friend were sent packing.
The sting of unemployment is somewhat tempered by the fact that so many other people were out of work, too. Misery loves company, no matter the source of the misery. It was not so easy to say that there was work for anyone who wanted it bad enough, because there simply was not work for anyone who wanted it.
Like so very many others in the same situation, things have not been great for me in the past year. OK, but not great. Despite the financial, emotional and psychological stress being laid off has caused me, I think overall I’m OK.
Sure, there have been ebbs and flows, ups and downs, ins and outs, people who say “yes” and people who say “no.” But I’d like to think that I’ve gained experience and knowledge that I will be able to use into the future.
The holidays were the roughest days, but perhaps not for the reasons you might expect – too many three-day weekends. That makes for a very poor job-searching environment. Joblessness is demoralizing and it is made even more debilitating when there simply is nothing a person can do, not even search job websites because there are no new postings over the long weekend.
But you learn to move on. You learn to always take a step forward. And another. Always forward. Never give up the high ground and never give up ground gained. And you do it because there is no other option.
I don’t often quote stogie-chomping fat guys, but they say Winston Churchill told a nation once, “Never, never, never give up.” I’m rather too stubborn to give up, either.
Of course, forward movement doesn’t always work out the way you plan. And I’ve done my share of back-stepping the past couple of months. I’ve stumbled over stones and boulders and mountains, some of them of my own making, and some the making of malicious characters seen and unseen. (That’s not too whiny, is it?)
No matter, forward continues to be the only direction.
By the way, the past couple of days have been OK. I have been dreading for months this “canniversary.” I never expected that I would be out of work for three months, let alone a year, but I have been.
I remain optimistic that things will get better. I am optimistic and certain that I will find employment, either in the news industry or in a field less abusive to those people working in it.
And I am true to the idea that this will not define me, but ultimately make me stronger.