Archive for January, 2010

Please enjoy my unique blend of cynicism and good-natured offensiveness

Someone described me like that today and I found it physically impossible to go a whole day without repeating it somehow, because its brilliant.

The theme of today’s post is essentially “bugger this for a game of soldiers”. Today I found out how long a green card takes to get. No wait, sorry, I should clarify that. Today I found how long a green card takes to get if you are not married to an american, related to an american or winning the green card lottery. In other words today I found out how long it takes to get permission to work long-term in america based solely on what you would actually be working at in america. Just so you know, it takes considerably longer this way than any of the above, which appears to me to fly in the face of all logic and good sense.

I asked for this from my employer about 8 months ago. I wanted them to start the green card process, because I wanted to have some sort of fallback should the arse fall out of the job market again and I find myself not only without employment but without a right to reside at my address anymore. It is one thing to abruptly lose your job and another to abruptly lose residence of a country 3000 miles from your native one. It would be not only disgustingly inconvenient but frightfully expensive to rectify. So the request seemed like a sensible one.

At the time the process was described to me it seemed a tad lengthy but potentially very worthwhile. 6 months of PERM (aka: the can-we-replace-you-with-a-citizen test), a year of waiting for PERM certification, another year to process the application for a green card along with an adjustment of status in order to extend my visa. So at best, this process takes 2-3 years. What escaped me at the time is that this is merely the timescale involved in _applying_. The backlog of people waiting for the aforementioned verdant immigration card is a minimum of FIVE FUCKING YEARS. So that means, as of right now, it will take a good 7 years for me to actually get one of these. If during that time I am let go or change jobs, the whole process crashes and burns and has to start all over again.

My current state of mind can be summarised in 3 words. Fuck. That . Shit.

Happy 19th January everyone. Yes, I know its not January 19th. But it was when I wrote this.

I have a few personal rules about New Years Eve. Some of them are obvious, and based on logistics, like “never go somewhere you can’t get back from on foot unless you are in a country with real public transport”, “never go to a niteclub”, “make sure you have bought enough to drink and give away” and so on and so forth. I find it requires more careful planning than your average night out, mostly due to the fact that everyone is an exuberantly drunk moron. Not that this is necessarily a problem until one throws up on your shoes.

But my most rigidly adhered to rule in recent years is to never make a New Year’s resolution. Firstly, it’s a completely arbitrary day, and so I refuse to conform to such a ludicrous convention, mostly out of sheer contrariness. Secondly, any resolution not important enough to be made as soon as you thought of it is clearly not going to be adhered to and is a damn waste of time and effort by definition.

So I hereby declare some January 19th resolutions which I have just thought of and decided were important. Ahem.

  • I will save some fucking money. I have a habit of spending everything I earn in a great big happy flow of joy and whatever-I-feel-like-ness. This is not a long term plan.
  • I will fly less than I did last year. This would be really easy for most people. But I think even I can keep it under  50,000 miles in 12 months

Not exactly lofty aspirations, and admittedly rather vague, but the more specific versions that contain actual numbers are in my head. Of course these are just the new ones, there are perpetually ongoing resolutions like “try to drink a little less”, “go to the gym more” and the ever popular “stop being so chubby”. But essentially, these are the plan.

I will be interested to see how this progresses. Oh, and happy fucking new year everyone. Ain’t life just grand?

You can never have too many vowels

Or at least this seems to be the Polynesian view on language. My hotel was called the Waikiki Kaiulani (pronounced as spelled in case you wondered) for fuck sake.

I’m not really partial to sun holidays. I have only been on the classic package holiday once at the age of 16, and that was with my family and therefore by definition of limited adventurousness. Since then I have always taken an approach to holidays that crams in the most places I have never been, things I have never done or seen, or friends I enjoy hanging out with as possible, ideally a combination of all of the above. However I realized that this time around, I was quite likely to need a bit of a post-excitement break, and as it turns out that was a pretty good call.

I spent all of my London time trying to meet everyone I know, all of my HK time trying to simultaneously do cool stuff and refrain from losing in my lunch in one of two unpleasant ways, and all of my Japan time trying to do cool stuff while somehow figuring out how to read signs entirely written in Hiragana. Basically what I am trying to say here is that I was pretty damn busy. So when the last leg of the holiday arrived I was eminently relieved and delighted that I had chosen to spend it in Hawaii.

You go through several phases when you get to Hawaii. The first goes something like – “whoa, this is stunning, I want to live a beautiful carefree life of freedom and sunshine here and leave the rest of the world behind forever”. Phase 2 consists of the dreamy daze in which you plan your future life of surfing and hiking and a crappy job you don’t have to care about because all you need is food and a place to sleep.  Phase 2 lasts until about a day before you leave, at which point you move to Phase 3, which goes a little like “if this were possible, everyone would do it. Actually I don’t really like being poor. There are no real jobs here, everyone is a damn scuba instructor or a hotel receptionist, and even if I could work remotely this bloody place is in the most inconvenient time zone imaginable. Damn”. This is followed closely (in my case) by the logic that I shall simple have to become rich enough to go to places like Hawaii frequently. It can probably safely be said that everything I want in life boils down to “I’ll be needing some more money for that”. On the plus side, at least my goals are straightforward.

On the whole, I loved the place. It is completely, stunningly, unswervingly beautiful. Ok, the scenery is perforated by the occasional large mall or highway, but fewer than you might expect. Honolulu is fairly populated, but the only other Island I was on (The Big Island – what a great name) has a few small towns and a whole lot of empty space. Though this may be something to do with the active volcano. Which brings me to another salient point – it has fucking volcanoes. Volcanoes! Nothing more need be said on the matter.

So I have covered the scenery, which is most definitely worth looking at for hours on end. The weather is perfect, and varies very little from season to season. The food is your standard American tourist fare, tastes good, doesn’t cost much, and comes piled so high it might fall off the plate if you look at it too hard. You have some obvious additions like fresh seafood, and the local beer is also pretty decent.

The entertainment varies from snorkeling, to parasailing, to watching the smoke pour from a live volcano to firing automatic weapons, and those are just the healthy activities. Personally I spent a lot of my time just enjoying being somewhere beautiful where I could swim and lie in the sun (by which I mean lying in the shade but being warm anyway – my skin is so pale it practically glows in the dark). I did manage to fit some activity into my relaxation though, parasailing, snorkeling and volcano-gazing being the highlights. I would go back in a second for an indefinite period if I had the chance, which hopefully I will again some time. This place goes firmly on the list titled “reasons to live in the US”

Hawaii appears to have changed my thinking forever about holidays that involve a beach, and I am grateful to it for opening my mind. And for having really nice trees.