Saturday, December 06, 2014

The Honeymoon is Over

For two months I looked forward to work, smiled all day, and enjoyed each opportunity for learning. I'm sure I drove my co-workers nuts. I'm starting month 3 now and here's the thing...

1. No one ever gets fired no matter how poorly they do their job.
2. No one tries. This past week I have been correcting two years worth of errors.
3. My first week on the job, half of my department informed me they are actively looking for jobs elsewhere.
4. Some of my co-workers are thieves and violent offenders (In HR having access to everything can be kinda horrifying).
5. My salary is $20K below market. In fact, the higher the salary the more inept the employee - work riddled with errors and lack of basic knowledge (ie math or weeks in a year).
6. And yet the benefits are amazing
7. This could be a lifer job.

Eyes are wide open now. I am still happy and grateful to have a job and enjoy the kind of work. But I think to survive I'll need to stop caring and being surprised with each example of idiocy I encounter. The two years of errors I corrected this week found over $80K for the company. And I'm sure my supervisor does not care. I don't even think he knows my name.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

MA Health Connector, No Brain Cells

YOU CANCELLED MY HEALTH INSURANCE!!!!! I can't wait until Charlie Bakers guts the entire agency.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Whispering Eye: MA Health Connector

This is venting and I hope after writing this, I will feel better.

My new job does not provide health insurance for the first ninety days. MA Health Connector cancelled my individual purchased health insurance September 30. That didn't stop them from cashing my October premium payment. My health insurance was cancelled because my documentation for a qualifying event was incomplete. After a frantic phone call, I found out I should have submitted a particular letter stating my COBRA coverage was cancelled. It would have been really nice to have known that or any kind of instructions. I also requested a refund of my October premium.

I could submit a waiver application form to the OPP. Yes, I always giggled inside saying or hearing that because you know me. I submitted the 10 page document mid October. Meanwhile, a 1 month prescription refill of generics cost me $142.00. MA Health Connector still had my October premium money. Too bad. That could have helped pay for medication that helps me live.

Further into this Kafkaesque shitstorm, I got my waiver approved. So I called to see how I could get my health insurance back. Another paperwork submission requirement. 1 the letter they sent me saying they cancelled my insurance and 2 the letter they sent me the day before for my waiver approval. I guess MA Health does not keep records or own a photocopier. Benefit reinstatement paperwork was faxed over October 23.

Since I'm a shitstorm veteran, this week I called to check if they received my reinstatement paperwork and where was my October premium refund. This is the part where I wanted to be able to throttle someone over the phone. My refund request had not been submitted and it would take 60 to 90 days. They did not receive my reinstatement paperwork. Once the rage blackout subsided, I filed a complaint with the Attorney General's office. The same day I was put in touch with Healthcare For All. They are angels amongst us. They work to get people healthcare by being advocates and pulling strings at MA Health Connector. The next day, HCFA got my refund pushed up to a Nov. 15 disbursement. Getting my health insurance reinstated will be another battle. One month tax penalty thanks to MA Health Connector. 

I was a supporter of Obamacare but now I hate it. Open enrollment periods are horrible. The way it used to be was you could contact insurers directly and buy from them. MA Health Connector was just a site with a list of premium rates. Now, it's a call center full of "workers" who have no idea what they're doing. If you miss the open enrollment, you can expect the above and I really hope you won't get sick or injured.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

47 Days

Work has been going very well. I've gotten up to speed enough that I can do some regular tasks and can lighten the workload from my fellow analysts. I am very happy and look forward to work most days. I am one of 3 analysts plus a senior analyst. Basically, we control and update all personnel data in Peoplesoft running reports for benefits,compensation, job structure, and EEO requests. I'm getting heavily trained in benefits which I've really enjoyed. Now those paycheck deductions make a lot more sense to me!

was able to settle into a commute that gives my knees a break and allows a bit of flexibility. I drive to a Greenbush commuter stop 6 miles away. I just need my car involved in my commute. It helps me feel more productive and in control. The walking to the bus routine with the walking downtown had me wrapping and icing my knees at night. Plus, I found out that I get nauseous standing on a moving bus. So commuter rail is win win for me. I usually get a seat in the mornings. Also how awesome is it that there's an app for parking? No more tightly folded $1 bills. And the T on Time app is really handy for South Station track information. Sometimes relying on recognizing conductors isn't the best option. 

It's funny, I did not realize how my last job was such a poor fit until this job. Waking up without a pit of dread in my stomach is so nice. Getting learning disability accomodations was painless and I have been completely supported. Maybe because now I work in HR people understand how to work with people who need accomodations? At my last job, as an accountant, I was told I wasn't trying hard enough if I had trouble understanding something and I was penalized in my performance review for learning difficulties. In this job, if I say, "Okay I visualize X as an umbrella..." I have co-workers who tell me that's a good way to think of it and run with the visualization! That makes my heart sing.

I am the oldest in our little analyst group so it's a fun mix of me having more professional experience but lacking in specific job knowledge. Like I know how to compose an appropriate mass email, create a report with multiple ways to doublecheck the data, and can translate contract language into calculations. But how to troubleshoot that at my new job is where my fellow analysts come in. Heck, I am still learning the data fields in the foundation tables!

The only downside of being so happy is that it makes me friendly to strangers on the T. Which conflicts with the whole city rule "Don't talk to crazy." Thursday morning, I saw an older man being packed into the crush of everyone around the door area. He had a backpack on and was kinda in the way. I noticed there was an empty seat and told him "Sir, there's an empty seat over there." Then he replied with some crazy ramblings about my eagle eyes and how he's taking a sculpture class while heavily breathing on my neck. Next, I felt something hit me right in between my shoulder blades. It felt as hard and forceful as a kick or punch. The wind was knocked out of me and I gasped, "You hurt me." A nice guy allowed me to switch places with him to get away from Mr. Crazy Sculpture Man. I don't even know what happened but it hurt for a little over a day. I'll save my happy talking to sane people I know from now on. On the T, you won't even get eye contact or a smile from me.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

City Legs

I started my new job Downtown September 8. The weather was gorgeous and I had the best first day outfit. I had planned out my route on the T. What I didn't plan for was the bowels of hell heat at Park Street and how completely out of shape I was. Working in the suburbs can turn you soft as you sit in traffic and sit in your cubicle with the biggest walk you have is to the conference room. A sweaty face is fine but I have this weird sweat spigot in my neck hairline. No, I didn't take a shower, that's sweat thanks.

It was nice to have something else to worry about my first week. Which was really great. I like the people I work with and it felt like coming home the first time I logged into their Peoplesoft system. I had a lot of training and it's great how patient and open people are with my questions. Bitter aside -my old job looks like breaking rocks in a gulag compared to this new one.

The sweat problem has gotten much better after four days. Now, I just get a sheen or glisten in the morning. I'm also experimenting with my commute. The first week, I got the red line at North Quincy. So, that was $5 per day plus cost of gas. Work subsidizes fare. After a commute home where a drunk/crazy/mentally ill guy took out 2 people by falling and landed in a poor screaming lady's lap next to me, I started rethinking things. 

This week, I have been walking to a bus stop and catching the commuter rail at Quincy Center. This is my first time using the bus and I'm really impressed! On-time, friendly, clean, and I always get a seat. The commuter rail is fast and I can occasionally get a seat. The title of this post is from overhearing a lady on the train. It was good to hear someone else comment on ALL THE WALKING! I've been walking to South Station now for the evening commute. Quincy Center does not regularly have commuter rail stops but there are 3 lines going through: Greenbush, Lakeville/Middleborough, and Kingston. It's cool, very flexible, and slightly confusing. Too many options.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Come Back, We'll Rummage

I know there are many articles and talking heads out there who have addressed Robin Williams' death better than I, but I need to write about this as someone who deals with Depression on a daily basis.

The thing is I know the list of despairing lies that went through Robin's mind towards the end. Actually, there are millions of people out there who know because we fight them every single day. Some days we have nice thick armor and boxing gloves to fight back. Other days it takes so much effort to get out of bed, we have no protection or tools to fight the lies. Also, you learn a way to deal with Depression then your illness adapts finding new weaknesses. You are very lucky if you're able to spot what is going on before it gets you in a Death Grip.

I have tried to kill myself several times. I have been in therapy off and on since 2001. I have been on medication since 2005. I used to have a drinking problem as a way to self medicate before I was officially diagnosed. The absolute worst depressive episode I had was after my stroke. The way I see that time is that I was stuck in a dark tunnel where I could not see anything. I started fantasizing about being hospitalized. Not the sane reality hospital with lots of machines, wires, pain, and fear. No the fantasy hospital that allows people to completely leave their lives getting away from all their worries and stress. 

One day, driving home I was indulging in that fantasy and a voice deep inside me said, "Wait a minute, you have been in hospitals and it was horrible." I had to pull into a parking lot and just sob. As I was freaking out about what was going on with me, I realized that I had stopped taking my blood thinners for weeks. You know, the one medication that would prevent a second stroke. This is how a major depressive episode works. It isn't several conscious decisions, it's the circle of despairing lies and your subconscious sabotaging you.

Depression is an illness just like diabetes or liver failure but the public sees it as a personal failing and something to be ashamed of. That misconception is so insidious and evil because if you have Depression, the despairing lies always poke you with "You're so weak" or "Why can't you just feel better?" Public perception feeds and echoes Depression. I have a theory why the perception is so screwed up. America was founded by people who believed if you work hard, you will be rewarded. Plus, Americans brought over their religions and culture. I do not know a single culture in the 1700's or 1800's that had a compassionate approach to mental illness. We have a come a long way on social issues but not that far on mental health.

Robin Williams' death is horrible because it is so familiar. A tremendously talented loved person was felled by an illness we still whisper about. I would like to scream about this burden, shake people by their shoulders, and find some zillionaire to help fund mental health services nationwide (since our government won't). Depression isn't a first world problem afflicting the weak or lazy minded. It's your mom. Your brother. Your child. Once we stop othering the mentally ill, maybe those demons telling us just to end it all will be weaker.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy Review [SPOILERS]

I saw the movie this morning and overall it is fantastic. I am definitely going to see it again. I heard that 3D wasn't that good except for the long space shots. I would say the movie is good for 8 year olds and above: shit, asshole, subtle masturbation joke, cartoon violence with little gore. There is a dying/dead mother storyline that could be tough for little ones. 

The Good

The soundtrack - if you like 70's and 80's rock, you will adore the music in this movie. It is actually a plot point so enjoy the meta.

CGI characters - if you told me twenty years ago pixels would make me cry, I would say you're crazy. Seriously, Groot and Rocket Raccoon steal the whole movie!

Heart - this isn't a movie about heroes or winners who are amazing at everything they try. It's just a bunch of messed up folk who wind up doing the right thing. There is also a bit of hope mixed into the pain. I liked the lack of cynicism and cruelty.

Chris Pratt - he is really excellent as Peter Quill. Like a combo of Han Solo, Arthur Dent, and Andy Dwyer. He sells all the notes from comedy to drama.

Dax the Destroyer/David Bautista - from the commercials, I thought he would just be the head busting tank of the group but he was surprisingly funny!

Set design/special effects - great locations, amazing spaceships which look so original and vibrant.

MCU connections  - Thanos and The Collector show up so there is a vague web of something going on that ties to the other movies. 


The Not So Great

Gamora - she has a back story and a lot of dialogue but I didn't really connect with her character.

Ronan - I know Loki is a tough act to follow but this guy is like high drama Darth Vader. I love the actor but maybe he's such a face actor, all the makeup sucked away what he was trying to do. Seriously, how can Lee Pace act without The Eyebrows?

Dialogue - it's great but very fast so I missed chunks of exposition or character moments.

Emotions - if you don't want to cry at a Marvel movie, avoid this. It's tough when right in the beginning you get hit with a huge emotional body slam and that is echoed throughout the entire movie. Groot entirely obliterated me emotionally with his final line. Then there's more sadness! It ends happy but man that roller coaster is very bumpy!

Howard the Duck

In summary, I hope this movie breaks all box office records. Guardians of the Galaxy 2 has been green lit which needs to end pointing them towards Earth so Avengers 3 can be the big team up. Obviously Thanos is trying it collect the Infinity Gems for the Infinity Gauntlet. The tesseract is one, Loki's staff is another gem, the aether from Thor 2 is the third, and in this movie we see the fourth. But is The Collector trying to stop Thanos or is he working for someone else? I hope in Guardians 2 Peter will meet his father.