Thursday, December 31, 2009

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Job Search 2.0

On Sunday I went back to my old office for my hearing. This hearing is required by law any time an employee is dismissed. Supposedly it is suppose to be some kind of an appeal process. For me it was in the same meeting room with the exact same people as the previous Sunday. I had an opportunity to ask anything I wanted. I requested to skip the hearing and move on with the information I needed for unemployment insurance and finding a new job. After the meeting I went to my old demoralized department to answer any training questions they had. It was more of a chance to say good bye and answer the absolute basics of what I was working on.

I am not unemployed yet. I am technically employed until January 19th even though I am staying home. It is kind of like being a senator. Basically they give 1 month notice and there is no concept of pay in lieu of notice. As I started work in March I have not worked long enough to qualify for full employment. Instead I qualify for 'half benefits' which I am still trying to figure out what that means. I cannot discuss my case with Bituach Leumi until I am unemployed. The best I can tell it is 60% of salary for 3 months. People get one month severance for every year worked. Having extra children is always a bonus when receiving any kind of benefits. Plus the 6 year savings fund gets paid out when employment ends. Not having all these extra cushions is leaving me more panicked then most my former co-workers who in general have been there between 2 - 4 years and have a bunch of kids.

In many ways I am in a lot better position than I was on the search last year. I finally have a job title to apply to my personality and skill set to. I have almost a year experience under my belt and I have proven I am good at QA. The problem is I have no formal training in QA or computers. I don't have 3 years experience. While my Hebrew has improved tremendously it is no where on level to cope in a Hebrew business environment.

At some point down the line I know I will be looking back and thinking that this was a good move. The comptroller of the company told me this week, told me now that I have some experience I should be looking at a 25% raise. I am nervous about how long it will take for things to full into place.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

"THE" Moshav

We had rented a car from Tuesday until the end of my inlaws visit for our trip to Eilat. Since Jason had some... er... time on his hands, we decided to make use of it on the Tuesday and go somewhere we might not have otherwise gone. So we packed off and after running a errand in Tel Aviv made our way to the Carlebach Moshav.

The day sort of how you would expect things to go in hippie commune. First we got horribly lost trying to find the place. Yes it should have been easy, but it wasn't. We did however find a tiyul for next chanukah in the hashmonean village. Looks interesting!

Then, once we got there Channah had missed the part of the tour she had been really excited to do. She had been saying all morning that she wanted to milk a goat, and by the time we got there the kids had all moved on to other things. Fortunately the woman in charge was really nice and said we could come back and milk a goat after the rest of the day's activities so Channah was pretty happy about the whole thing. Of course, by the time we got back to the goats she had realized that you need to *touch& them in order to milk them, so she chickened out (although, speaking of chickens, I must admit I did not realize how pretty some of them can be! They really can look like the rockette chickens on the muppet show.

She got to make a picture on wax paper using crayon shavings and flowers, card and spin wool, and make a mobile from various colours of clay found around the country. We never did get to make the cheese, but were given instructions as to how we can do so at home.

Channah carding wool

Channah doing the wax picture

Then came twenty minutes of discussion as to whether we should go on the tour first, or have lunch first. It was decided tour. Then lunch. Ok. Other than the fact that Channah was getting hungry and we knew we could tide her over, we were okay.

Once the kids activities were done we went to the ancient olive oil press for a short history lesson about the area we were in. I do have to admit that the thing that surprised me most about the ruins was the fact you could not smell them from a mile away... The man giving the talk had a few archeological pieces he had collected including some thought to be from the time period of the Chanukah story (hey, we were in the right area so why not?). The kids on the trip were ecstatic about the idea. From there we headed down to lunch.

Channah examining some local finds

playing in the ruins

Lunch was not ready as apparently the oven was not working right. Ok, no problem, they took orders for felafel and drove off to go get them, leaving us to wander around a gorgeous area of the country on our own. We had a woman show us "THE" house on "THE" Moshav.

"THE" house

Channah was excited to show off her budding botanical skills. Get it? Budding...

We sat around outside on some rocks until lunch showed, up, than ate in the park before going into the shul for a short Moshav Band concert.

Concert in the shul

Sign of a day well spent

That night, even my father in law went a little hippie on me...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Next Day

This morning I helped get Channah and my parents out the door. I got them into the taxi with instructions to the driver to get them to the train. They were off to the zoo. Channah was a little upset because she thought I was coming with. I had my own plans for a mental health day.

I walked down to the Mircaz to get some money from the bank machine. Grabbed an ice coffee and a caramel sufgamiya and headed to the bus stop. It was only a short wait to catch the 417 to Jerusalem. Got off at Benei HaMenua and headed towards Yaffo.

Crossing the bridge towards the train station I saw one of the most ammussing sights of the day. I was surprised to see how much of the train tracks have been completed. In this particular spot there were train tracks laid leading up to a rocky ditch that looked like the beginning of an excatvation project. There were a bunch of construction workers. Each had a tiny shovel and pitch axe. They looked like they were working on a delicate archeological dig rather than a major construction project. No wonder they are so far behind schedule.

I continued my walk down Yaffo, wondered around Machane Yehuda before continuing to the Old City. I had a lot of time to think, while getting reports as the axe continued to fall for those that were away yesterday. My boss had his boss come to his house personally last night to deliver the bad news. The final tally was my department went from 8 employees to 2. Both managers are gone. That does not include the 4 temps who left when their contract expired a few weeks ago. Looking back the hints that this would happen have been around for a few months. While noting them as unusual events I choose to stay positive. There were also some decoys to make it seem that things were Ok.

Wondered through the Old City. The 'Mashiach Time Clock' (Hurva Shul) is coming along really nicely. On a spur of the moment I went to the museum commemoraty the fall of the Jewish Quarter in 1948. It was one room with about a dozen pictures plus a video. It was interesting that there were two major tactical mistakes that may have cost the city and significantly changed the type of issues the government is dealing with today. The first was giving up important tactical positions due to political repercutions. The second was abandoning military accomplishments out of a lack of desire to finish the job. These IDF still has problems with these types of discussions.

I then headed for the Kotel. Coming down the stairs I was stopped by a beggar who I said no to. I then moved to the side to tear Kriyah. At one point I had wished I had requested one of the extra company shirts. That thought passes quickly as I don't have any ill will towards the company. The beggar decided to follow me and start with his sob story. I turned to him very firmly said "I lost my job yesterday. NO" He quickly disappeared.

I then davened mincha at the kotel. I got so used to davening Hazi Kaddish at work that I almost forgot to start my Shmonei Esrei. A few moments at the wall and I headed to take the bus to take me to the bus going home. The walking and quiet time were what I needed.

In the afternoon, I got well wishes from former co-workers via phone and Skype. It really meant a lot. Channah decided she wanted Chinese food, so we all went out and didn't have to worry about cooking. Tomorrow is our quick detour into Tel Aviv on our way to the Carlebach Moshav. Wednesday morning we head down to Eilat. I can relax for a couple of days before having to jump head first into deal with the reality of unemployment. Hopefully things will rebound quickly.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Picture pages

I have a bit of catching up to do I guess...

From Mom and Bubbie's recent visit

Orly and Gibby's engagement party

Channah's Chanukah party at school

Long time no see...

Dear Blogg,

I know it has been a long time since I have written, but things have been busy. I will try to bring you up to date on what has been going on around here, but to be honest, if you really want to know everything you should give me a call sometime and we can do coffee.

First off all, I want to apologize for not being around so much. My computer took a bit of a dive off the coffee table and it is pretty much only as of last night I have both a well working hard drive and a working keyboard. I even heard from a friend helping out with my old hard drive that it looks like we should be able to get off most of the data that I had on there. Thank goodness, I was not looking forward ot losing all my pictures from the last 18 months- never mind my client sketches, business files, and of course, a whole heck of a lot of movies and music.

Not sure where I left off, but in a nutshell we have had a busy few months. My mom and Bubbie were here a few weeks ago. I have to say that I was terrified of their visit before they got here (lord knows that getting our place "Bubbie-ready" was a terrifying proposition!) but it was actually a really nice visit. We did a little bit of touring, saw some friends and family who I do not normally get to see, and had a few 2 am tea parties.

After that, I got really busy with pre-chanukah stuff. Thank goodness business was good- I spent most of November and December filling online orders and jumping from local show to show. I actually got to play with some really fun ideas that had been in my head for a while but never made it out of my sketchbook. Hopefully as business grows it is something I will be able to do more and more.

And now my inlaws are here to visit. It has been a nice visit so far. Channah is off school all week so there is lots of time for her to spend visiting with her Bubbie and Zaidy. Unfortunately, as of yesterday Jason also has the whole week to spend with them. He really loved that job and losing it is obviously one of the hardest things that has happened to our family since we landed. B'h it is sort of the best of the worst though. We are in an okay position. The company is going to do everything they can to help him, and have told him he can get a glowing reference. At least when you are let go as one of more than two dozen people you know it was nothing personal.

And that brings us to now. Not sure how we will fare in the long run, but for right now we are only in a slightly leaky boat- but it is floating and keeping us from going under.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Unexpected Changes

Today was a really tough day. As a start up company keeping the company a float while waiting to hit the point of profitability is always a challenge. Although we have a few great products on the market the revenue did not come in soon enough. This morning 40% of our Israeli office got the axe.

This morning felt different but I did not suspect anything was wrong. Being the week of Chanukah lots of people are away. I was having problems getting the Blackberry Storm (touch screen) to work. The first version compatible with our software had just been released. My boss was away on vacation. Unknown to us our Asisstant Manager was not supposed to be in for the day. The manager from another department I work closely with was also away. The entire IT department was away. I think they had been working late with some recent server upgrades.

Around 10:30 one of the IT managers came around to fix a coworkers computer and say goodbye. A short time later word came about another very senior worker had also been let go. Another department had their door closed. I had never even noticed that there was a door to the department. Another person came to our department to provide two more names. Shock set in as we realized what was going on. One person in our department could not log onto the server with the new passwords that had been set over the weekend. He took it as a sign that he was finished. As he was called into the meeting, I realized I would be next if there were more cuts in our department. When he was finished I got the Skype to report to my boss's boss office.

I knew what was coming before I left my desk. I went into the meeting and just sat down speachless. They told me why the company was restructuring and they had to let me go. I just sat and watched the meeting happen around me. There would be a hearing next week where my employer would receive government approval of the move. As the meeting wound down, I gathered up the courage to ask if I was to go home right away or if I had to stay for the one month going home.

I returned to my desk devastated. My boss creates all kinds of Unix shortcuts to make our jobs easier. As I have no formal UNIX training, I wanted the translation file. I couldn't figure out how to use the computer to get the file. I had to ask a coworker to do it for me. The rumour we heard is it was 22 people plus a few who will be losing their jobs tomorrow in our American office. Everyone was walking around like zombies. There was a short meeting to explain the changes had to be done and those remaining will have a tough road ahead. The office was closed early in the afternoon because nobody was able to get any work done.

My boss phoned me at 6:00 to offer his sympathy. As he was on vacation he had no idea what had happened until he got home. He was unable to reach his boss and he didn't know if that meant is job was in trouble.

I think I am going to go to the Kotel tomorrow for a spiritual uplift. I will also take advantage of the time off to spend more time with my parents. Someone from our shul is having a meeting tomorrow to try to scoop up some of the laid off employees. QA is at the bottom of the priority list of what he is looking for. It does show that they are trying to help out. Today was a very down day. I am hoping to enjoy the extra time with my family and hope something better works out before our savings are stretched too far.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Making a Living in Israel

When I told my Rosh Yeshiva that we were making Aliyah his first reaction was "How are you going to pay the bills?" This is probably the #1 concern that people have when deciding to make Aliyah. For many the fear of the unknown is enough to shelve possible plans for the big move.

For us we had approached this problem from a different angle. Rachel's growing jewellery business success was not tied down to geographic location. I was miserable my career was not heading in the direction I wanted. There was some glimmer of hope as I had made it through a bunch of huge hurdles with CBSA. There was still a long way to go with that selection process. Aliyah without a saftey net was scary but not as scary as continuing to spin our wheels in the rut we just couldn't seem to break.

The way I found my job was the perfect foreshadow for how happy I would be. I met the right people at precisely the right time. My last day of Ulplan was on a Thursday and I started work on the Sunday.

My job involves QA software testing on cell phones. AT&T Social Net and Social Beat on the Verizon network are two projects I have been working on. They involve putting Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, RSS Feeds, GTalk and Gmail into one easy to use application. I need to make sure it works properly. Both products are free and already on the market.

The working conditions are great. The company is located in Har Tuv (just outside of Beit Shemesh) There is a Hassa that takes me to and from work everyday. There are snacks in the kitchen. For Rosh Chodesh there is a company lunch where we find out how the business end of the company is doing. Each meeting starts with a Dvar Torah which really throws off some of the visitors from our California office.

My boss is well respected for the work he accomplishes and the quality of the people he hires. When I have to call in sick, I get wishes to feel better and that is it for the day. I also know I will not be called while on vacation. When overtime is needed my home life is taken into consideration. Erev Sukkot, the company paid for a cab so that I could come back to the office after buying my lulav and putting Channah to bed.

Over the last 3 months I have enjoyed the oppurtunity for extra responsibilities. The regulars were broken up onto different projects while temps were hired to help meet some critical deadlines. It was myself with two temps working on the Blackberry project. As a matter of practicality I got to be pretend to be the team leader. I would help direct what tasks were being worked. I was even called in to participate in some of the important development meetings. It was on my recommendation that convinced my boss that they were ready to be allowed to help out with more complicated tasks. I feel that I performed well in the situation and hope that similar (more formal) opportunities will come my way in the future.

Last night was Channah's Chanukah mesibah. We realized in the afternoon that it was called for an hour before I normally get home. Channah had her heart set on being there. It was extra important because the original date was set for when my parents would be there. I sent out a company e-mail looking for a ride. My boss offered if a bunch of other factors worked out. Another co-worker would not let me miss the party. It meant leaving early in order to drive me there which was not even close to being on her route home. This is typical for the type of people I work with.

I can only hope that the business will continue to be successful and I have more oppurtunities to continue to grow with the company. In the mean time, I am loving having a job I enjoy with an employer who values their employees.