Thursday, April 30, 2009

Laid Off Loser Playlist, April 30, 2009

Click on the artist for more information. Click on the album to purchase music.

The Budos Band - The Budos Band EP

Great NYC unemployment club

The 405 Club, a group for unemployed New Yorkers, was started earlier this year over beer. God love 'em.

Laid Off Loser Album of the Day: "Check Your Head"

Beastie Boys

Dude, the Beasties' best album is back on wax. Live instruments, funk grooves and the masterful coalescence of the varied music styles that influenced them. All on two platters of 180-gram virgin vinyl.

Quintessential 1992. Drop the needle and dig the grungy time travel.

The unemployment office ruins a good mood

I woke up in a good mood today — had a productive Wednesday for an unemployed guy, the new day held promise — but that changed after my first of two trips to the Idaho Department of Labor office in Downtown Boise.

I was forced to go there because the online claim-filing system is not Mac compatible. I thought I had all the documents I needed, but when I went to file my first claim, their computer informed me that I needed the last two years of my wage history and a few other bits of information I had left at home.

Okay, I can handle that — probably my mistake for not reading the fine print before I left (being able to get into the system from my computer would have helped). But upon my return, with two years of wage history accompanying me, I soon found out that I needed my entire wage history for my freelance work and most recent job at a corporate newspaper. That meant data going back to 2004 and 2005, respectively.

Instead of going home to get it, I was told by a human to estimate my gross earnings. So I did that. And I haven't cross-checked my estimate yet, but I'm pretty sure I was in the ballpark. If not, and I happened to guess low, they'll probably put my claim through intense scrutiny, accuse me of fraud and I won't see my first check until 2017, if ever. 

As nice as the Labor folks are, and as spoon-fed as most of the information is, the process is still a horribly convoluted and misinforming one. It took 45 minutes to file my claim — way longer than it should have — and that's with pre-registering all my contact and employment info a few weeks ago to avoid shitshows like today.

So yeah, that good mood? Vanished. I'm just about done brooding, but if this is what I'm going to have to go through each week for $364 (pretax, mind you), it's going to be a long half-year. 

I might as well beg for change. I hear that's a good gig.

Nancy Hubbard: Laid off? Think you might lose your job? Can it be comforting to think about your bottom?

By Nancy Hubbard

No, I don’t mean the body part that you can’t find with two hands. I’m also not referring to getting out a crystal ball and foretelling when we will be at the bottom of the economic downturn, either. Although wouldn’t that bring some level of comfort if we knew that the bottom of the economic downturn was going to be on July 5, 2009, for example? We might be able to enjoy some of our free time a little more.

No, I’m referring to the point at which you personally (or financially) hit rock bottom as a direct result of your unemployment. Here is an example of what I’m talking about: If I don’t get a job and I start running out of savings with no end in sight, I would pack up the animals (no small feat for me with horses, a donkey and dogs) and move to the land my parents purchased 50 years ago. 

The land has no debt on it, so I would just have the property taxes and minimal cost of living. If it got to that point, it would mean that I turned in my nice leased car and lost the house (or if possible sold the house before it went back to the bank) — not a good situation, but it’s just “stuff” that I have accumulated over time. 

For me, thinking about and identifying my backup plan is comforting. I won’t be homeless. I will be strong and I will be okay. In some ways, it would be adventurous and exciting.

But each of our situations is different — so I’m curious to know if identifying your backup plan for the time when you are close to hitting rock bottom is a comfort to you or frightening? Please share your thoughts.

Nancy Hubbard is guest blogging on Laid Off Loser April 30 and May 1 as part of her project offering to work any job for free for two days. Hubbard, who recently was laid off from her job as a development and construction manager in the health service industry, lives in Wilsonville, Oregon. She can be reached by e-mailing

Nancy Hubbard: How this is not just my problem

How this is not just my problem ... Everyone else who is affected by my unemployment

By Nancy Hubbard (laid off seven weeks and counting)

As we notice the ripple effect of high unemployment (I live in Oregon, which is second highest in the nation in unemployment), I thought I would create a list of all the people whose income was reduced by my unemployment. 

This is a micro-example of what happens to our economy when industries fail.

  • The local newspaper (cancelled daily delivery)
  • Housekeeping service (cancelled)
  • Weekly landscaping service (cancelled)
  • My horse trainer/coach (cancelled lessons, increased trail riding)
  • My health club (cancelled – I can run outside anytime I want)
  • The high-end grocery store (I now shop at a bargain grocery store)
  • My horseshoer (I pulled the shoes off my horses and moved their trims to seven weeks instead of five or six)
  • Doggy daycare provider (they go less often … but need to go still because I can’t work with them at home!)
  • My hair stylist (still go, but stretch out the intervals)
  • The nail salon (paint my own toenails)
  • The tree trimmer (a friend is going to take down all those branches hanging on by a thread)
  • The equipment rental store (borrowed a power washer from a friend)
  • Local restaurant (we used to go once a week)
  • Movie theater (we go less and try to get the lower daytime rates when we go)
  • Pole barn supplier/builder (I was just about to add on to my barn when I got laid off)
  • Various clothing stores, both online and local (I still look, but don’t do much buying)
  • Cell phone provider (I reduced my service package)
  • Home telephone provider (reduced service package)
  • Feed store (I buy essentials, not extras)
  • Dentist (not doing the cleaning that isn’t covered by my insurance)
  • Furniture store (I made a simple credenza instead of buying one)
  • Airlines (we cancelled our plans for short getaway trips)
  • Equine veterinarian (I’m administering my own vaccinations)
  • Local nursery (buying seeds instead of starter plants for my garden)
  • Local utility provider (lowered temperature on thermostat)

This might be why I have guilt with me all of the time. Sometimes I can stuff guilt deep into my back pocket, but most of the time guilt rides up front on my shoulders. I hope no one got laid off because of me.

Nancy Hubbard is guest blogging on Laid Off Loser April 30 and May 1 as part of her project offering to work any job for free for two days. Hubbard, who recently was laid off from her job as a development and construction manager in the health service industry, lives in Wilsonville, Oregon. She can be reached by e-mailing

Introducing guest blogger Nancy Hubbard of Wilsonville, Oregon

Nancy Hubbard, an unemployed business management professional from Wilsonville, Oregon, is guest blogging on Laid Off Loser Thursday and Friday, April 30 and May 1.

Nancy, who recently was laid off from her job as a development and construction manager in the health service industry, came up with a novel strategy for finding work: She offered to do any job in any field for free for two days.

After hearing of Nancy’s project, Laid Off Loser contacted her with an offer to blog about her experiences as she looks for steady work and test-drives new careers.

For her first blog entry, Nancy examines the ripple effect of losing her job: She cancelled her newspaper subscription, switched to a cheaper grocery store, stopped eating out and made many other lifestyle changes.

While looking for full-time, paid work, in addition to working for free Nancy is using her business management experience to offer development consulting services.

Keep checking back over the next two days to read more from Nancy. She can be reached by e-mailing

Laid off? Watch your waistline!

According to this article, a survey found that the recession might be making people hungrier and fatter. 

Stress eating yo! I did just have a bowl of cereal around midnight, but at least it was healthy stuff and not half a box of Count Chocula.

Laid Off Loser Playlist, April 29, 2009

Click on the artist for more information. Click on the album to purchase music.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Notes from the job fair ...

We're back from the career fair. Ugh. What a scene that was.

The fair was held in the same building as the weekend flea market, but it was only half full. The cavernous unused space in the back, which led to the cafeteria, restrooms and drinking fountain, was a lonesome, windswept pocket of sadness.

Up front, where the booths were located, wasn't much better. The smiles appeared strained. Some of the booths just had pamphlets, no people. Others looked abandoned. 

The job categories more or less broke down like this:

• Exciting home business opportunities selling oils, unguents and other health care/beauty products. Oh, and there was one travel agency-type business offering "sell vacations, go on vacations!" gigs. The lone qualification? You have to have a face.

• Insurance, financial services and other commission jobs that, unlike the exciting home business opportunities, require you to go somewhere you don't want to be every day. With no guarantee of a paycheck. At least at home you don't have to wear pants.

• Departments of correction. Sir, I'm going to need you to step away from the booth, please.

I was there about a half-hour, just enough time to chat with a few people, hand out some business cards and resumes (printed waaaaay too many), get complimented on my shoes and realize I was more or less wasting my time. I did get a couple of potential leads on freelance work, but that was about it.

For all that, I shaved, showered and put on a suit. It took me longer to get ready. I'm still wearing the suit, by the way. As much as I prefer pajamas, I just can't take it off yet. Not until I get food on it.

I get the feeling I wasn't the only one at the career fair who felt the depressing weight of it all. More than a few people leaving the building were shuffling their feet, avoiding eye contact and generally looking beat down and distraught.

But at least we got free bags to carry home all that literature about our exciting futures. Outside, it's America.

Laid Off Loser Album of the Day: "Forever Changes"


You go through changes
It may seem strange
Is this what you're put here for?

My suspicions about the career fair are confirmed, and I haven't even been there yet

My former employer published a story today on the Idaho Job & Career Fair and its lack of decent jobs.

From the article: "Most of the booths ... were occupied by insurance companies and financial services firms looking for commission-only sales people, or by multilevel marketing companies pitching opportunities in cosmetics and kitchen gadgets."

Something tells me I'm not the ideal candidate to hawk ionized tampons.

Feds taking "fresh stock" of the economy

The Federal Reserve brain trust is discussing what they should do next about the economy. 

But don't cross your fingers: Economists aren't expecting anything major to come out of the two-day meeting, which ends today. With a Boggle tournament.

How to use Twitter to find a job

People are using Twitter to network and hopefully land a job (gosh, don't know anyone like that). 

Here's a how-to article. My advice: don't Tweet about eating a ham sandwich or whatever. No one cares what you're eating.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Laid Off Loser Playlist, April 28, 2009

Click on the artist for more information. Click on the album to purchase music.

The Idaho Statesman may have laid me off ...

... but they were nice enough to add me to their blog roll. The ironing is delicious.

Laid Off Loser Album of the Day: "Road Trips Vol. 2, No. 2, Carousel, 2/14/68

The Grateful Dead

The Road Trips series, which debuted in late 2007, was a fantastic idea, as it got more unreleased live Dead material into the hands of the band's freakishly completist fans.

But the execution of the first five releases — which compiled tracks from multiple shows and edited them into single "concerts" — left something to be desired. It seriously pissed off some Deadheads. And that's a hard thing to do.

The series' curators, thankfully, listened to the fans. This sixth Road Trips release, which features a Feb. 14, 1968 gig — the official grand reopening of San Francisco's Carousel Ballroom, later known as Fillmore West — is the first in the series to offer a complete show.

But things are still a little screwy. The full show is included, but it's interrupted on the first disc by four bonus tracks (recorded at various shows in January and February 1968). 

Maybe that's being a bit nit-picky — the first full set is presented uninterrupted, followed by the bonus tracks tacked on to the end of the disc — but it gives the 2-CD set a lack of continuity. They could have just done without the (so-so) bonus tracks, as there's a full CD's worth on the bonus disc.

As for the show itself, it's prime early Dead — loose, exploratory and a little rough around the edges. The concert draws heavily from the first two studio albums — all five cuts from Anthem of the Sun are in the house — and also includes a relatively short "Dark Star," which had yet to morph into the lengthy, fluid psychedelic jam it became.

The seven-track, hour-plus bonus disc is highlighted by a lumbering 22-minute version of "Viola Lee Blues," peppered by some fiery psych-rock soloing, from a Jan. 23, 1968 Seattle show. Worth the trip for sure.

UPDATED: Watch Laid Off Loser Tammy Jonsson on Fox 12 tonight!

Tammy Jonsson, the inaugural Laid Off Loser of the Day, was interviewed today by KTRV Channel 12 anchor Shayne Wells for a story on tonight's News at Nine, which airs at, uh, 9 p.m. 

You can read the article here and watch the video below. Go get 'em, Tammy!

Get hired to be a homeowner!

Sign me up for this, especially if it's in Paris.

Put on your pants, head to the job fair ...

Saddle up, partner, the Idaho Job & Career Fair runs today and tomorrow at Expo Idaho, 5610 Glenwood St., Garden City (corner of Chinden and Glenwood, at the fairgrounds; just don't go expecting an Elmo balloon animal or corn dog). 

The Web site claims "hundreds of recruiters and applicants" will be in attendance. I just called the Idaho Business League, which organizes the event, to get a better idea of the number of recruiters, but I got a message saying they're, duh, at the career fair. At least they're not out getting loaded. Or maybe they are. Perhaps the whole thing is just a sham or a front for an acid test.

I'm guessing the ratio of recruiters and applicants is leaning heavily toward applicants as the party kicks off here at the lunch hour. Today's fair runs from noon to 5 p.m.; tomorrow it goes from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

I'm waiting until tomorrow. That'll give me time to print out some resumes and lay out my best dress, even at the risk of looking like a slacker for not making it there on the first day. 

I certainly don't have high hopes, but I've never been to a big-boy career fair (I did go to a seasonal job fair in college once). I'm looking forward to checking out the scene. I'm guessing there will be a lot of recruiters hiring teens for summer jobs, some shitty commission sales "opportunities" for adults and not much else unless you're in health care or insurance. But who knows — maybe something will come of it. At least it's something I can claim I did this week to keep the unemployment checks rolling in. Gotta feed the monkey.

I plan on Twittering from the event and maybe even posting a blog entry or two if my fingers are nimble enough to work my new iPhone without throwing it at a Dairy Queen manager. We'll see. Maybe I'll see you there, loser.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Laid Off Loser Playlist, April 27, 2009

Click on the artist for more information. Click on the album to purchase music.

Laid Off Loser Album of the Day: "Giant Steps"

John Coltrane

Skronk skronk.

New feature Laid Off Loser of the Day launches today!

Today Laid Off Loser is proud to launch a new feature, the Laid Off Loser of the Day

Scroll down to read a profile of Tammy Jonsson of Meridian, Idaho, who recently was laid off from a small residential and commercial contractor in Boise.

The Laid Off Loser of the Day was started to give unemployed job seekers another tool to promote themselves in an increasingly competitive job market. The service is free of charge to anyone who is unemployed or underemployed and currently seeking work.

Additionally, the sidebar to the right now has a Hire a Laid Off Loser section where employers can access the Web sites, social network pages and resumes of past and present Laid Off Losers of the Day.

If you're interested in becoming the next Laid Off Loser of the Day and having your profile posted on the site, e-mail for more information.

Laid Off Loser of the Day: Tammy Jonsson

Tammy Jonsson of Meridian, Idaho, recently was laid off from a small residential and commercial contractor in Boise. But the talented go-getter is refusing to sit and wait on work to come to her.

No sooner than she was laid off, Tammy got to work starting up her own company again. Imaginative Construction Solutions offers design-and-build residential and commercial construction services throughout Idaho and the Northwest.

Tammy, who has 17 years of experience in the construction industry, and her husband Reynir have owned and operated construction businesses in Washington, Oregon, California and Idaho. 

Tammy’s extensive work experience includes administrative/office management, human resources, customer service, sales and marketing. Her computer skills include Microsoft Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, Publisher, Outlook, QuickBooks and Web design.

Alongside Imaginative Construction Solutions, Tammy is starting a Mary Kay business, which can be accessed online at

Tammy is a big fan of the barter system and will trade labor or Mary Kay products for goods and services.

She is open to accepting full-time work with other individuals and businesses. Her resume is available by e-mailing

Visit the Imaginative Construction Solutions Web site for more information, including the full scope of the company’s services and photos of past projects.

Tammy and Reynir will celebrate 23 years of marriage in June. They have two children, Tyler, 18, and Brynja, 15, who attend Meridian High School. Tyler will graduate in May. Brynja is a ninth grader and 4.0 student.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Small-minded religious wackos dis the Flaming Lips

But Oklahoma's governor has their backs. In my opinion, "Do You Realize??" should be the state song of the universe.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Laid Off Loser Playlist, April 24, 2009

Click on the artist for more information. Click on the album to purchase music.

Health insurance subsidy for laid off workers full of holes

Read all about it here.

Hopefully you don't have to dick around with COBRA because it's bunk. If I weren't on my wife's insurance already, I'd take my chances living la vida uninsured.

Laid Off Loser Album of the Day: "Mountain Tracks: Volume 5"

Yonder Mountain String Band


If you're in Boise this weekend, head to the Knitting Factory Saturday night for a beer-soaked good time with the four gentlemen of Yonder Mountain, the finest purveyors of jamtastic bluegrass this side of the David Grisman Quintet.

If you purchase this CD at the Record Exchange (1105 W. Idaho St., Boise) before the show, you get one free ticket. Then you can buy the Laid Off Loser and his lady a drink with the money you saved. Win-win!

Calling all Laid Off Losers!

[Note: This is a post from a couple of weeks ago, but I'm reposting it in the hopes new readers will see it and sign up. I'll have the first Laid Off Loser of the Day up by Monday!]

One of my goals with Laid Off Loser is to form a community of unemployed androids and post everyone's contact information on the site. Sort of an all-star team of the down-but-not-out, if you will. 

We'll call ourselves the Laid Off Losers. You won't get a membership card or anything — or maybe you will at some point, who knows — but maybe, if this thing takes off like I hope it will, it'll help you find work. At the very least, I hope people would at least join the conversation and share their experiences as they navigate through Unemployment Land.

Once people start enlisting, I'll add a "Hire a Laid Off Loser" section to the sidebar. And I'll introduce new Laid Off Losers in blog posts.

It doesn't matter where you live or what kind of work you do. And it won't cost you a dime, except time. However, if anyone henceforth makes a reference to the phrase "time is money," well, no harm will be visited upon you, I suppose, but just know that you're a choad.

So, where you at, people? E-mail me your contact info — Web site, Facebook link, e-mail address, whatever — and I'll post it.

Say your prayers, eat your vitamins

The latest issue of Rolling Stone has a great article on the pro wrestler, failed reality TV star and currently unemployed Hulk Hogan, a once-hero of mine who has fallen on hard times. The magazine's Web site has a cool photo gallery, but you have to buy the magazine to read the article. Not all information is free these days.

Like many children of the Eighties, I was an unabashed pro wrestling fanatic. My brother got me hooked on it, and for years I consumed everything I could about the "sport," from the WWF news shows to the regular weekend programs.

(Back when Saturday morning cartoons still kicked ass, you could watch three or four hours of cartoons, then flip over to the USA Network for an hour or two of wrestling. Yeah, I spent most Saturdays in front of the TV until 1 p.m., devouring mass quantities of sugar-infused cereal in the process, but I came out of it relatively unscathed despite the steady stream of sweaty, scantily-clad men I watched roll around on the ground with one another.)

One of the best Christmas presents I've ever received was tickets to see WWF wrestling at the Richfield Coliseum in Richfield, Ohio, on Dec. 26, 1986. It was all I wanted that year, and I about shit my pants when I found the tickets in my stocking. Hogan fought the relatively new but quickly rising bad guy Randy "Macho Man" Savage in a non-title match. I still have the photo my dad took of Hogan in his signature pre-match flexing display.

Eventually, wrestling and I grew apart — it was some time after I stopped believing it was real and turned my attention toward baseball, music and girls — but I eventually found my way back in college with the rise of the rival WCW league and the primetime wrestling wars at the turn of the century. At that point, it was more for the novelty factor and something to watch while drinking and fraternizing with my roommates. These days, I pay no attention to it.

But the Hogan article really struck a chord with me. It's sad, revelatory, comically absurd and inspiring, even — here's a guy who's quickly approaching his sunset years, who most days can barely get out of bed because he's in so much pain, and he's talking about getting in the ring again and returning to his former glory.

Like most celebrities, Hogan is more of a turd than his public persona lets on — he really shouldn't have said he "understands" O.J., even if that's how he really feels — but when you get down to it, he's just a flawed human being like most of us. 

So I found myself sympathizing with him. And rooting for him. No one likes to see their heroes fall, and I'm no different. Go get 'em, Hulkster.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Laid Off Loser Playlist, April 23, 2009

Click on the artist for more information. Click on the album to purchase music.

Jobless claims rising, rising ...

Watch a video about it below ...

See, even if you miss the evening news, you still get all them purty pictures right here at Laid Off Loser. Now, that's service. Just don't ask me to smile.

You have to really hate journalists to do something like this

For the record, nothing of this sort is in my plans for post-Statesman life. This blog might jump the shark, but that's as close as I'll get to anything involving a dorsal fin.

Laid Off Loser Album of the Day: "My Maudlin Career"

Camera Obscura

Fucking great title for an album.

When Camera Obscura first emerged from the Scottish underground around the turn of the century, they came on like a female-fronted version of fellow Glaswegians Belle and Sebastian. Stuart Murdoch and Co.'s influence was almost painfully overt, but it mattered little: Camera Obscura quickly proved themselves a worthy sister band.

Then something happened: Belle and Sebastian, the greatest Scottish band from 1996 to 2002, started sucking. It was around the time of the Storytelling soundtrack, and the suckitude only escalated with the super-slick, super-poppy Dear Catastrophe Waitress, the album with which Belle and Sebastian started sounding like a caricature of themselves. They've yet to find their way back.

Camera Obscura, thankfully, never strayed too far from the twee chamber pop sound that endeared Scottish indie rock to the world in the first place. And from the opening lines of My Maudlin Career — "Spent a week in a dusty library/Waiting for some words to jump at me" — it's clear that all the lovelorn navel-gazing remains intact. That's as comforting as a tattered thrift store sweater.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Laid Off Loser Playlist, April 22, 2009

Click on the artist for more information. Click on the album to purchase music.

It's your fault, America!

Here's a little playground finger pointing regarding this mess. I'm blaming Lindsay Lohan. Just because it's fashionable to take shots at her.

People are staying put — and for good reason

Moving is ridiculously expensive, even when times are good and your new employer throws you some relocation cash. When I moved to Idaho to work for a corporate newspaper, they gave me a modest relo fee, and it still only covered about a third of our expenses. Blame my faberge egg addiction.

It's not surprising, then, at the beginning of these End Times — or however historians refer to Now 500 years from Now — that people aren't moving. Census data shows that fewer people moved in 2008 than in any year since 1962. Immigration also is down, which should please Rush Limbaugh, God bless him.

Global economy expected to shrink this year

Read it and weep: "By any measure, this downturn represents by far the deepest global recession since the Great Depression."


Laid Off Loser Album of the Day: "Volunteers"

Jefferson Airplane

In honor of the AmeriCorps bill. Go get 'em, kids!

Look what's happening out in the streets
Got a revolution, got to revolution
Hey, I'm dancing down the streets
Got a revolution, got to revolution
Ain't it amazing all the people I meet
Got a revolution, got to revolution
One generation got old
One generation got soul
This generation got no destination to hold
Pick up the cry
Hey, now it's time for you and me
Got a revolution, got to revolution
Come on now, we're marching to the sea
Got a revolution, got to revolution
Who will take it from you
We will and who are we
We are volunteers of America