robotech_master: (Default)
I had hoped I wouldn't have to take this step, but it's become necessary. I'm changing my main email address after 20+ years.

Back when I was at college, I got an email address on an Internet friend's Linux box, as an email address I could keep when I left school and wouldn't have to keep changing. And it's the email address I've been using for 20 years, I used to read and send email religiously via Linux shell readers like mutt.

But then Gmail came along, I snagged a beta invitation, fell in love with the interface, and had my eyrie mail run through a spam filter to pare down the spam and forwarded on to Gmail to read that way.

But the problem arose due to spam. Because the spam filter didn't catch all the spam, Google started tagging spam email that came through eyrie as being spammy, because it came through eyrie. It's finally gotten to the point where I'm seeing many legitimate emails get filtered into spam, including emails from my parents!

It's also gotten to the point where it's affecting the personal email of the fellow who owns eyrie. Consequently, he's going to cease permitting emails to be forwarded on to Gmail from Eyrie. That means I'll have to either read my email solely via mutt in the shell, or just start using my Gmail address as my "main" email. Given that I already use my Gmail address for a number of things such as signing into my Android tablets and Google services, it seems like I might as well just go ahead and make that my primary identity.

So, if you have me in your contacts, please change my email address to and send to me directly there. I'll still check my email at Eyrie, though not as often, and may miss things there.
robotech_master: (Default)
As some of you might know, I consume about 7 or 8 bags of Soylent a month, choosing to use it for my breakfast and lunch (most days) at work. Not out of any ideological reasons, but because it's fast, cheap, and easy to have for breakfast and lunch at work, then I have a normal supper. It's not really too bad to drink, most times, even unflavored. It's got a neutral, slightly-sweet flavor that isn't the best thing in the world but isn't something to get sick of either.

This week, when I opened the first bag from my most recent batch and mixed it, it tasted like someone had dumped a sugar bowl (or, more likely, a sucralose bowl) in it. It was drinkable, but only barely. And it turns out I'm not alone in experiencing this; a number of other users got the same sickeningly sweet bags.

Fortunately, the Soylent people are sending me replacements. But they don't want the remaining six super-sweet ones back. What do I do with them? I'm not going to drink them, but tossing them out seems like a waste.
robotech_master: (Default)
So, I live in a really nice 100-year-old condominium here in Indianapolis. And I work downtown at Anthem, just a short bus or bike ride away.

Would you be interested in moving to Indianapolis? Think you could get along with me? Perhaps you might enjoy working a call center job at Anthem, too? I'd like to hear from you. I've got a spare guest bedroom in this condo, and would not at all mind having a housemate to take it up, and pay half the monthly $400 condo fees. It would also be nice if they were the sort of person who might enjoy watching movies and stuff with me. :) And I'd be happy to recommend you for a job at Anthem, if you wanted to apply there.

So, y'know…if you think that might be you, let me know.
robotech_master: (unicorn tree)
Passed another milestone at work yesterday. Got my first three call audits in, and they (barely) averaged higher than the 95% mark required for audit quality. Which means I no longer have to send my created cases in to my team leads to look over for me. I'm a real boy now!

I'm really settling in well at the job, I think. The vast majority of calls I get are simple cases where I look up a code, find it needs no pre-authorization, and let the caller know and send them on their way within three minutes or so. A dozen or so calls a day require more effort, filling out a computerized form specifying service date, procedures, attending doctor and facility, and so forth—generally, ten to fifteen minutes or so, maximum. And I get a few calls from ordinary members, mostly ones who dialed the wrong department by mistake and I can send on to the right place.

Even the 11 to 8 shift is turning out not to be as bad as I'd feared, on the whole. The hour lunch does give me time to go farther afield for lunch, run errands, try new places, and so on. And the last couple hours of the shift, when the only places still open and calling in are in the Mountain and Pacific time zones, are quiet enough that I can read a book nearly uninterrupted. I can't read ebooks on the computer the way I could in the old customer service job, alas, but I have plenty of print books on my shelves that I've always meant to get around to but never had found the time for yet. I've worked through several of those so far.

Another really nice thing is that there's a medical clinic for employees and members built right into the office building's front lobby. I checked out a sleep study machine from them a few weeks ago, and had a blood draw there on Monday, and today I go in to find out the results. It's certainly a lot easier going in to see a doctor where I work than it is having to trek afield to some other medical center!

The one thing I need to bear in mind is that I only barely passed those audits. I find myself making the same kind of mistake repeatedly on some of my calls, and I need to evolve coping strategies to make sure I cut that out. I need to make sure I keep my average up; I don't have any excuse not to get 100% every time.
robotech_master: (Default)
I actually seem to be settling into this job. I still have moments of qualms and wondering if this is really what I want to be doing, and moments where I mess up and take much longer than I really should. But when I was in the moment today, the time seemed to pass pretty quickly, most people were easy to help, and most of the messes were easy to handle. The moments where I'm left wondering what to do are getting fewer and farther between. Just one more day with my preceptor at my side, and then…come Monday, I'm on my own, 11 to 8. I'll have Tuesday off for Independence Day, then three more days of 11 to 8 work for the first week. I gather they're adding another batch of temps, so I may be able to trade down to an earlier shift before too terribly long.

There are some things I really do like about this job. For one thing, the guidelines for whether I can talk to family members about the medical cases for other members of their family are much more sharply defined. If they don't have a permission form on file, or have the person available to talk to, I can't discuss the information, period. Which means a lot less uncertainty, and that's nice. Another nice thing is, I don't seem to have to do warm transfers to anyone. When I need to send someone somewhere else, I just hit the button and they're gone. No need for me to wait on hold to talk to someone. So there are a couple of big customer service annoyances out of the way.

The only thing I'm really worried about is that when I tried to reserve the days of Gen Con off, I was informed those days were already overbooked for vacation time and I had to waitlist it. I really hope I'm able to get in come that time. Still, it's a month and a half between now and then, and lots of stuff could happen. I just need to keep my attendance perfect and my job performance good.

And now I need to go try to get some sleep to be ready for my Friday.
robotech_master: (unicorn-dancer)
I took calls today! And got my 30-day performance evaluation!

The performance evaluation was "meets expectations" across the board, as they haven't really had anything worth judging me on yet, with the exception of "exceeds expectations" on attendance, because I haven't yet missed a single day. I'll take that.

As for taking calls, it was fun. (And the first call, which I took entirely by accident and by myself when I was testing my phone login, was a bit of an adventure. Fortunately, it was a softball question—checking to see if a procedure code needed pre-authorization, which it didn't.) I discovered I've learned a lot more than I thought I had, and learned even more through the process of doing it. My preceptor is really helpful and corrects me whenever I start to make a mistake. I think I may just have this thing down cold by the end of the week. We'll just have to see.
robotech_master: (energy ball)
Well, work training proceeds apace.

My job is going to be a Utilization Management representative. That means I handle precertifications (the mandatory cases where a particular course of treatment has to be approved by the insurance company prior to it being covered) and predeterminations (the optional-but-recommended cases where the treatment can be submitted for approval ahead of time, or can be submitted at the time the claim is turned in instead).

What that means. )

Meanwhile, after work today I stopped and checked into the little mini-clinic built right into the building where I work. Needless to say, they'll accept my job-given insurance, which will be active as of July 1. I checked with my regular doctor and found that she can't see me until July 14th—but there's a regular doctor at the clinic at work, and they're open to seeing me sooner, and might even end up becoming my primary care physician. And they're certainly a lot closer than my regular doctor, so there's the convenience thing too. I've already put in a request to the office of my old regular doctor to fax my medical records over.

A couple of nice things about said clinic: first off, if I get prescribed medicines by the doctor there, and pick them up at that clinic, they're effectively free. And second, they have one of those home sleep study gizmos they can send home with me—a machine I hook up and sleep with for three nights, that will transmit information about my sleeping habits back to home base for analysis so I might well end up able to get a CPAP. I already have plenty of friends and brothers who use such things. If they make such a difference for them, maybe they can help me too.

In any event, I'm doing the best I can to make the best of things and get good at my new job. I hope I don't screw it up too badly in days to come. Whatever happens, I'm probably going to be doing it for about 11 more months before I can apply for other internal Anthem postings. Hopefully it will get less stressful once I understand it better.
robotech_master: (Default)
Training has been going better, the last week or so. We've been working with actual systems involved in doing the kind of work we're going to be doing on the phones (though they're the older, more complicated system that most representatives don't use anymore, because the new one still isn't available to us yet), which has given us the chance to get a better idea of how the whole process works together. But perhaps more helpfully to me, I finally got the chance to sit and observe an experienced Utilization Management representative on the phone for an hour or so, and get a better picture of the kinds of things I'll actually be doing.

I think that hour of listening probably did more to reduce my level of stress about the new job than anything else. The systems she used might be unfamiliar to me, but they weren't anywhere near as complicated as the ones we've been training on. And if I'm not entirely familiar with the processes she was going through, I recognized the same sort of practiced efficiency I worked my way up to in prior tech support or customer service jobs, once I had the chance to learn my way around the systems and processes. Everything seemed like something I could learn to do myself, given time. And once the classroom instruction is over, I'll get more of a chance to learn by doing when I apprentice to one of those experienced workers for a couple of weeks.

There will probably still be plenty of moments where I'm unsure of what to do and have to yell for help in the instant messenger chat room, but those will taper off and after a few weeks I'll be most of the way to being a pro. And that's quite relaxing.

Meanwhile, starting Sunday when I went to see a couple of Roger Moore Bond movies in theaters, and carrying on all this week, I've been bicycling home in the evening rather than taking the bus. It was 8 miles from the Bond movies, and it's 5 miles home from work. The exercise is good for me, and I think the exercising may be helping me sleep a little better. (Though I do still get up in the middle of the night, and at the moment have had to dose myself with benadryl to get back to sleep by morning. But that'll pass, I'm sure.) I can also claim workout credit for it at the fitness center, and once I earn 17 credits I get the use of a locker for a month—at which point I might even try biking in, since I'll be able to bring a towel and stuff so I can shower the sweat off before work. Sadly, I'm not really saving any money that way, as I bought a monthly bus pass. In fact, I'm losing a little money by only using it one-way each day. But the dividend in health, and in convenience of not having to fumble for change every day, is probably still worth it.

I'm also keeping track of my blood pressure on a daily basis thanks to the fitness center. It's a bit high, and I'll be medicating for that once I can see the doctor after my Anthem benefits kick in in July, but I'm sure the doctor will be happy to see how faithfully I've been keeping track of the readings.

Speaking of sleeping, I should go ahead and get to bed. I'm glad to be feeling better about this job. Fingers crossed that the rest of the training goes well and the initial awkwardness passes quickly.
robotech_master: (companion cube)
Well, today's training was not at all bad. It was on an older system that my department used to use, and may occasionally have to use again if the newer system goes down. A lot of people apparently still use the older system—longer-tenured reps who were trained on it and consequently prefer it to the newer one. But we're expected to use the newer one—but due to various reasons, we can't be trained on it yet. Nonetheless, getting to use this system gives us some clue about what we're expected to be doing, which makes a lot of the out-of-context stuff we were given earlier seem to make more sense.

It's pretty complex, though. I expect it'll get easier once we've done more with it, and especially once we get to train on the newer system. Nonetheless, I was struck more than once by the thought that all this stuff would probably be way beyond the grasp of Donald Trump. It gives one some warm fuzzies to consider that one is probably more competent oneself at technical matters than the President of the United States.

(Well, it does for a few minutes, anyway. Then it gives one some cold chills to consider that one is probably more competent oneself at technical matters than the President of the United States…)

Something else I did today was get registered for and orientated to use the built-in fitness center, which is right by the entrance directly under my cubicle. It's open from something like 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekdays, plus has some hours Saturday and Sunday. The main reason I registered was to take advantage of their blood pressure tracking program; if I can get in the habit of having my blood pressure taken and recorded every day, that will be useful to hand over to the doctor when I get the chance to see her in July. I'm not sure I can see myself taking much advantage of it right now, but once my schedule goes to 11 to 8 and I have that mandatory whole-hour of lunch, I could see myself devoting 15 minutes of it to a workout on the stair-climber or other aerobic fitness machines.

Anthem is pretty serious about promoting its employees' health. There are wellness incentives of up to $700 in insurance benefits for doing various things. I've got the $200 of it for not smoking and $100 of it for getting a flu shot in the bag. The additional $200 for losing weight or having a good BMI ratio is probably a foregone conclusion, though, and I imagine the $200 for having good blood pressure probably is, too. Still, you never know. Having a free fitness center right there might be of some use to me, anyway.

For now, time to go medicate myself into a coma and get a good night's sleep.
robotech_master: (unicorn tree)
Well, it looks like I won't be seeing a doctor until July, when my Anthem benefits kick in. I did some checking around today to try to find some doctor taking my Obamacare insurance now but Anthem in July, but the only doctors taking new patients near where I live at home have a multi-month waiting list. Meanwhile, my previous doctor, near where I used to live, could still see me soon—except they don't take the Obamacare insurance, but they do take Anthem.

It's probably not worth the trouble of going through all the finding-a-new-doctor rigamarole when my old doctor has all my medical records on file, knows my history, and can see me once my insurance kicks in. (Well, assuming it's my old doctor I see. It's been a year or so since the last time I was able to see them, and they may not even work there anymore. But I'm sure someone will.) And they're not too far out of the way if I'm going to be downtown anyway.

Meanwhile, I'm going to see if I can get access to the gym at work. Not so sure I'm feeling up to starting an exercise program yet, but they apparently have one of those automatic blood pressure measuring chairs there, and it would be the most convenient possible way to track my pressure on a daily basis, as the doctor will undoubtedly want a good record so she can decide just how strong of blood pressure meds I need to be on to get it back under control.

And as an aside, why is it that I always get recruiters showing up with Anthem tech writing jobs after I've already committed to taking a lower-paying Anthem job of some other kind? It happened today, just as it happened a couple of years back when I took that data entry job. Of course I had to tell them that Anthem probably wouldn't take kindly to me turning right around and switching horses midstream like that. The extra money certainly would have been nice, though.

I think I'm going to see about cutting back on my caffeine intake for the next day or so, and see if that makes a difference to my sleeping habits. Meanwhile, I've just taken my Benadryls and feel them starting to kick in, so I'm going to go try to get a solid eight to ten hours of sleep before the morrow.
robotech_master: (energy ball)

Didn't get much sleep last night. Usually the way it works is I sleep half the night, get up, watch a TV show with a friend, then go back to bed and sleep the rest. But I didn't get back to sleep again after the first half of the night. Just lay in bed tossing for 2 1/2 hours before finally giving it up as a bad job. I suppose tonight I'll take some benedryl again to knock myself out for the whole of the night. Maybe I'll go on benedryl solid for the next couple weeks, until and unless training becomes less stressful.

I think that has to be the reason for the sleeping problems. (More so than usual anyway.) Due to a weird confluence of factors, which are probably more than I should go into in a public post, the training for this job is being harder than usual. Effectively, we're being given a lot of information that's effectively meaningless without benefit of context, because the contextual part we should have been trained on first isn't available. And it's going to be even more delightful than usual on a half night's sleep, I just know it. At least work has strong coffee, so there is that.

On the bright side, I got a letter yesterday from the IRS, telling me that I (or the tax-prep program I used) hadn't done my tax calculations right, and as a result they were eliminating 2/3 of the tax debt I thought I owed from last year. That's a pretty big load off my mind. It's too bad it didn't cancel out the training stress and let me sleep.

I'd really like to see a doctor, get a sleep study, and see if that fixes things. But I don't think it's going to work to see a doctor as long as I'm on a strict 8:30 to 5 training schedule. Attendance is especially important during training, so I don't have much leeway to miss days until it's over—even for medical reasons. Maybe I'll check with my supervisor about it at work today.
robotech_master: (companion cube)
The job training proceeds apace. We're learning a number of useful things, still out of context, but at least we're starting to get some vague ideas about how they'll come together. I got to work with one of the systems I'd used in one of my previous temp job sessions, and was happy to find I still remembered a number of useful details about how it worked that helped me even though I was using a different part of it than I had in the old job.

Investigated the benefits I'm going to get at the start of the month after I've been there 30 days—as of July 1. Some fairly decent health plans, and less expensive to me than the ACA plan I'm currently on. There's even a Flex account that I can put some money into and Anthem will, too. The problem is knowing how much to put in, especially since it's going to be pro-rated for the half a year since my coverage starts. I'm hoping to get a sleep study done, which might lead to a CPAP machine, which I'll be on the hook for up to the deductible, so putting some tax-free money aside might be useful—but I don't know how much the machine would be, or even if/when I can actually schedule the appointments and sleep study and stuff. It'll be a lot easier to do that sort of stuff once I'm on the 11 to 8 shift, since I'll have those three morning hours in which I can schedule them—but by that time I'll be well past the end of my open enrollment period when I can decide how much to put in. Sigh.

There's going to be a 401K, too. If I contribute 5% of my salary, I can max out Anthem's contribution matching at 4%. It's kind of late in my life to get started saving for retirement, but something is better than nothing no matter when you start I guess. And I think I put something into a 401K at one of my previous full-time employers-with-benefits—Mihlfeld or TeleTech—and I've been trying to get in touch with them to investigate that because I can apparently roll them over into Anthem's 401K if I did. But the Mihlfeld benefits person was out of the office today, and the TeleTech person is overseas and apparently nearly impossible to contact. Meh. Will keep trying.

Here's another fun benefit: for the first time in I don't know how long, I'll get a day off on Monday as a paid holiday, thanks to my full-time associate status. For those holidays that fall after my training is over, I can even choose to work the day at a greater-than-usual holiday pay rate, which will be a nice bonus.

At any rate, after this first week of training, I'm really looking forward to that 3-day weekend!
robotech_master: (cube drop)
So, here I am. Day before I begin my new job at my old workplace. Jitters and stuff. )

Anyway, that's all from here. Starting tomorrow, "They call me the working man / I guess that's what I am."
robotech_master: (unicorn-dancer)
More life changes, but of the good kind this time. I got a job! )

So that's my good news, and boy am I ever relieved. I hope nothing goes wrong during the background check process. I can't think why it would, but you never know. I also hope my replacement Social Security card arrives by the 22nd, since they might want to see it.
robotech_master: (Default)
Well, working on Getting Stuff Done today, in the hope of getting a new job soon.

My day, and welcome to it. )

Being productive is hard.
robotech_master: (Default)
More life changes…

Just got informed, literally fifteen minutes before going home from work yesterday, and after everyone else in my bay except me had left for the day, that my temporary service contract ends as of the end of the day today. Not that I'm too surprised. The writing had been on the wall for the last few weeks that our positions would be eliminated soon, even though they never said anything. For the last month, we've been getting less than a dozen calls a day, and there's not a lot of point in paying us $13 an hour just to sit around on our butts and surf the Internet. We were told when we were hired in November that our contracts were only good through January or February, and having them extended all the way to May 5 is pretty much a win.

Still, it would have been nice to get a little more advance warning—but given how little communication we've really gotten from our supervisors over the last month or so, this is pretty much par for the course. I guess I should be grateful for any advance notification at all; my co-workers who all went home before I did will get an unpleasant surprise when they arrive at work tomorrow (save for the one who sits next to me and I'm Facebook friends with, who I messaged about it before leaving work). At least I know ahead of time to bring a box in tomorrow to clean out my desk.

But I can't really blame them for it. As temporary workers, we were sort of fifth wheels once the main reason we were brought on—the beginning-of-year surge in calls from new subscribers—was over. I'm grateful they found another position to shift us to for a couple more months; that was nice of them. It's been a great place to work, all in all. But they didn't really seem to know what to do with us. I've barely even met my supervisor in person, since the trainer who was our supervisor for the first few months went back to where she worked elsewhere in the building. I guess we were out of sight and out of mind.

I'm not looking forward to the bureaucratic process of applying for unemployment and food stamps and letting the people know I'm out of work so they can give me a bigger tax credit on my health insurance. I should have done that last time I lost work, instead of just stopping paying for the insurance because I couldn't afford it anymore, and I'd have ended up owing a lot less in Obamacare tax penalties this year. :P

On the bright side, I've been applying like crazy for permanent positions at the same employer, and I interviewed for one of them a couple of days ago and my supe instant messaged me as she sent the end-of-contract notification emails that I really impressed them at the interview. I should expect to hear back from them "in the next week or so." Fingers crossed that it's soon, and that if they want to hire me the position starts soon, since I'll be out of work until then.

My tweets

Apr. 10th, 2017 12:00 pm
robotech_master: (Default)

My tweets

Apr. 9th, 2017 12:00 pm
robotech_master: (Default)
robotech_master: (Default)
I have presences on Twitter, Facebook, Dreamwidth/LJ, a personal blog, and TeleRead. (As well as a few others, like Instagram and Pinterest, that I don't use as much.) Sometimes it feels like I really could stand to be integrating some of them better.

For example, I have my Twitter posts echoed to Facebook. But that means every time I use a service that posts to both Twitter and Facebook (Instagram, Pinterest, Quora, etc), I then have to go to the Facebook page as soon as I post it and quickly delete the Twitter duplicate. Is there any way to get around that?

September 2017

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