Travellin’ man
timmiesaurus

Six months into my new job and I’m still pretty chuffed. The weirdest things are working from home which is odd but will be covered in a later post, and traveling, and traveling more. Traveling lots. Traveling stupid amounts.

To clarify, I’m no George Clooney as I really do need to be home a great deal to be look after J, but I believe in the last 6 months I’ve made a serious dent in my “i’ll be glowing soon” radiation dosage from the flights, and been groped by more strangers dressed in authority figure uniforms than a catholic boys choir (eeyo0h!).

The weird parts are the solo aspect of business travel, and the weirdness of hotels. Allow me to elucidate.

Traveling alone for work (which is the most common for me) is not a pleasant experience. Sure, there’s the excitement of new places all the time… but no-one to share it with. “Ooh, random stranger, take a picture of my lonely arse self in front of some monument that I’d love to share with people who actually don’t care that I’ve been there”. “Yes please, table for one at this restaurant quite near my hotel would be awesome, I’ll be the one drinking alone at his table reading a book”.

Sure, I could meet random strangers and talk with them but being that I tend to be staying at the business areas of town, other people nearby are either working there and don’t want to be bothered, or also traveling and want to talk shop or attempt to pick someone up (not usually me, weirdly enough).

There’s always the option of spending the evening with the clients who have families and lives of their own who will occasionally take you out (mostly so they can have a “free” night out on the company card) but generally want to get on with their own life. You could take the ‘up in the air’ route and pick up random strangers for one night stands but that’s really not for me… and I’m beginning to suspect I may not be in Clooney’s appeal range.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a few amazing times while I’ve been traveling for work, but they’re usually the exception as it’s generally it’s “get the job done, sleep, work again and get home”.

Which brings me nicely to the topic of hotels.

Hotel rooms can be all special and nice when you’re a newlywed couple, a family on holiday, or the occasional “just passing through” stop, especially if they come with a nice view. Hotel rooms when you’ve just finished a full onsite day with a client and need chillax are not ideal and generally are blessed with a view of a four lane highway and a few smokestacks. Limited tv selection, crappy internets, barely adequate gym, pool, and breakfast, and if you’re really lucky the excitement of a hotel bar closing at 10 and filled mostly to the brim with generally similarly mildly depressed businessmen whiling away the evening. Going out on your own is an option, though in a town you’re in for one evening, can’t drink much (as you’re onsite early the next morning), and rarely have any control over timing it with something interesting on in town, it’s generally not an awesome experience.

Also without being paranoid, I’d be remiss in not mentioning the inherent germs of hotel rooms. The little folds on the toilet paper means that some random stranger has touched your toilet paper once to unwrap it, the previous guest has usually used it, then some cleaner has touched it again to fold. Just what I want on my tender behind, at least three sets of fingers touching the shared edge of the roll. Not to mention Mann’s Assumption which asserts that you should always assume that every item in a hotel room has touched another persons arse at some point in time. Think on that. People are freaky weird. I never ever ever touch the remote. If you’re that way inclined, comfort could be gained from the Gideon’s bible but thinking of the above, Eww! I know, I’ve broken you off hotels forever.

End result: while I’m more than happy to travel for my work (within reason) and generally enjoy visiting strange companies to do so, the weirdness between makes business trips just something to be dealt with. Getting back to my wife, cat and house at the end is exceedingly pleasant.

I’ve painted a fairly bleak picture, and again, I love traveling and have had some awesome times both with work travel and personal. I’ve seen more of the world than many others and will continue to do so and continue to enjoy it. However, a hotel on a cornish seaside bluff with my wife with quaint restaurants nearby, no rush and pleasant company, holds a little more appeal than a hotel alone on a freeway near an oil refinery and a cattle ranch after working a full day and nothing but an arse touched room to return to.

Signing out, from a dull hotel room in the middle of nowhere, because what else am I supposed to do.

Originally published at TimmieSaurus. You can comment here or there.


ID
timmiesaurus

So, since my last fairly non-post, things happened. Lots of things. But more on that later, as the day before yesterday marked the 25th and one week anniversary since I got my drivers license (in Australia as it happened).

Now a drivers license in Australia (and the UK as it happens) is just one piece of ID. There are plenty of others that will do in a pinch for bank accounts, flying, and drinking. Actually, you really need more than just the drivers license for all but drinking, and most require a federally issued ID like a passport or something similar. Additionally, most countries allow for reciprocal License schemes so you can get one if you’re licensed elsewhere.

I mention this boring background detail for pure dramatic effect as the day before yesterday, I applied for my US drivers license.

You’d think the fact that I’ve been driving for 25 years, driven successfully in 8 countries (crossed about 4 of them in a car, and yes, driven on both sides of the road) and driven across more states of America than most Americans have would count for some small modicum of leniency… but no. Unless I’m canadian or 1 or 2 other very specific countries of origin, I’m required to start from scratch as if I’m a spotty faced 16 year old ready for his first license (and yes, I am spotty faced but freckles don’t count).

So I arrive at the license office, at 7:45 am to get before the 8am opening rush and make sure I’m there on time. There are already 53 people in the queue. I’m apparently 3 hours late to get in early. And no, the doors have not opened yet. At this point I’ll mention the capacity (strictly enforced) of the waiting room is 38 persons. As the doors opened I’m left with the other 40 odd other people (the line had grown considerably) outside to wait in the sun (which was surprisingly pleasant at that time, especially considering the future waiting).

At 8:30am I was finally allowed into the hallowed halls to wait in the “inside queue” which was especially pleasant as Texas summers are not cool. I arrived at the front of the “pre-waiting queue” to collect my waiting number at 9am.

I’ll note I was given ticket number 404 and was mildly concerned a computer glitch had me as not found. I’ll also make a very grateful note that the licensing office, unlike the social security office (which is another story entirely), does allow the use of electronic devices so I was entertained and in touch with my office and working very very hard (hi boss who reads this blog).

At 10:30am I was finally seen to a bored new employee who needed frequent assistance.

Another side note here because it’s relevant. I can actually continue to drive in the USA on my Australian license (and international supplement) for another 1.5 years and extend that where necessary. Unfortunately, to acquire a credit card, drink in a bar, or fly domestically I need a license (my passport is often not accepted). I also need to rent cars a lot for my work and a US license is easier for this. Also not accepted for all of the above (and purchasing handguns FYI) is my federally issued greencard ID which took two and a half years to acquire, required multiple interviews, background checks and stupid amounts of paperwork, and cost several thousand dollars.

So back to the bored new employee who was about to issue my license (the most frequently forged ID in the US) for $25 with 2 small tests which would give me the ability to drink, fly, have credit and own a handgun.

She directed me to the computer test which was strangely easy. The first question was to choose my name of a list of four that I was fairly sure I got correct, then to pick my birthday of a list of four similar birthdays IN CASE I’D FORGOTTEN WHO I WAS FOR A MOMENT! I did miss a few questions on things like “what is the maximum fine for an underage drinker” which oddly enough I didn’t study much and WHO NEEDS TO KNOW THIS TO BE ABLE TO DRIVE! I’m fairly sure that my driving does not depend on me knowing the maximum fines for any infringement, not to mention those that are under half my age.

After passing this with flying colours in 5 minutes (it’s my damn blog, i’m allowed to gloat when I want), I was sent back to queue.

At 11:30 I was finally seen by the people who could test my driving. Asking when I’d be able to be tested produced a timeframe in the 4 hour mark. Unfortunately and rather strangely, I’d only allotted a few hours to be away and I needed to head back home (J needed the car at 1:30pm) so I promised to book online for the next day (yesterday) and hoped I’d be out by xmas. I asked about if it was better to do a walk in test or book online and they said it didn’t matter.

What they neglected to tell me both then and online was that I could have avoided ALL of that wait by applying online, walking in, and being served in 10 minutes which is what I did the following day. Yay bureaucracy!

10 minutes after I arrived the following day I was seated in my wife’s car with an instructor literally half my age (I checked) who promptly proceeded to tell me how to check my mirrors as if I’d not been doing it for 25 years (admittedly mirrors and I haven’t been friends for a while but that’s no reason not to use them to see other things).

End result, I passed, I have a drivers license. I did get a few points lost though I was informed if I didn’t then it would be “suspicious” so “they had to fail me on some things” because, you know, this is the ID that means everything in the world in the US so there’s no reason anyone would lie on it. I now have an easily photoshoppable piece of letter sized printer paper with a black and white print on it which is a certified US document which will get me guns, alcohol, flights and credit if I need it.  It does expire in 3 weeks when I’ll get my plastic card but there’s absolutely no chance anyone could… say… scan the the document, modify the expiry date, and use that to identify themselves as whoever they want to get firearms, flights or credit… but no one would ever do that.

You go America.

Originally published at TimmieSaurus. You can comment here or there.


New things.
timmiesaurus

So yeah, new job, new state, new house, new finances, new life. Things are different.

I’d love to supply you with an awesome excuse for being lax with this blog, but basically I was just damn busy. See paragraph above.

Consequently, new things will happen soon now that I’m vaguely settled. you should be exceedingly excited. Woo.

Originally published at TimmieSaurus. You can comment here or there.

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Landed
timmiesaurus

So I’ve landed in the USA. I’m an official registered alien which is fun. My first full awake day in the USA is ironically Australia day. Go me. I’ll be waving flags and eating Vegemite while people look at me strangely.

As a possible prelude for entering the USA, I was pulled aside for extra screening as I was boarding at Sydney, possibly because I was carrying more tech than you need to run a small country. Thankfully they decided to avoid the unwelcome colonoscopy and instead did the disturbingly intimate pat down and grope. I now know that a strange man in a uniform touching my genitals doesn’t turn me on, so there goes that fetish.

The flight was most entertaining. Imagine a hyperactive 7 year old watching constant excitable movies (weirdly, I’m sure this part won’t be hard with my family) with exceedingly long legs sitting behind you. Add to that a newborn who has never felt pressure changes before in the seat across from you, and lastly include the man who has know concept of elbows and seemed to be doing the chicken dance most of the trip. The only saving grace was Air Canada’s excellent service and very generous supply of quite decent red wine which helped immensely.

I’m also thrilled to report that despite the large collection of media available on the on demand media system in flight, hollywood have produced little of value in the last few years. Thankfully my iPad was fully stocked and every seat had USB (and regular) power. Gotta love new planes.

I cleared US customs and became a registered alien of USA in Toronto, Canada… 6 hours before I even entered the states. I should also mention that it was slightly weird to leave from Toronto, NSW, Australia and arrive in Toronto, Canada 26 hours later as one leg of the journey (before the final leg into USA). And yes, every “why did you bother leaving” joke has been made by staff there. Hilarious.

Today I visited the Social Security office to acquire my SSN number, the magic number that you seem to be unable to breathe without. Unfortunately, according to immigration my first name is timothy-charles and I don’t have a middle name which is rather disturbing. The lovely lady at the SS office said “I see it’s a problem, but there’s no way I can fix it on my system. Go back to immigration. Welcome to America!” which was nice.

So here I am. Officially able to live and work here finally. My cat sort of remembers me after 2.5 years. I’m fairly sure my wife does to which is nice. All I need now is a job, a house, and great wads of cash and I’m living the American dream. Go me.

And to absolutely make sure I knew I was in USA this morning, this greeted me in the papers…

Originally published at TimmieSaurus. You can comment here or there.


Last day
timmiesaurus

Today is my last day at the office. I took this job on the assumption that I may or may not get my green card (it had been a year coming after it was supposed to take 6 months) and my wife may or may not be able to join me in Australia. Obviously this meant there were some commitment issues.

I discovered very quickly that I really loved the place, and there’s been stresses (as there is in any job) I felt I was making changes for the better and making a difference… which is really what does it for me in any job.

And the people were, in general, amazing. I’ve worked in magazines before and the magazine view of “ad people” is a stereotypical one of vapid drug addled dreamers. There’s no way I could deny an aspect of that but the vibrancy and enthusiasm with which they attacked the work, and the energy that fed back into what I did, made a really fantastic creative upward spiral.

I won’t say there weren’t negative exceptions. There has been in every job I’ve had from my first milk run, through Tupperware lady, to my previous job in IT. What counts is the awesome to dick ratio which was pretty high on the awesome scale here.

My green card ended up taking a total of 2.5 years to come though but it did come through… and apparently Australia hates foreign cripples who can’t support themselves so my wife won’t be coming over so the debate is settled. I’m leaving. With weird mixed feelings.

I want to leave desperately… to get back to my wife who I’ve seen 6 months in the last 2.5 years… and to actually have some sort of long term goals I can plan around. But I will miss the place. I’ll even miss the stress and the issues that came along with the awesome. Goodbye studiously unnamed ad agency. I’ll miss you.

Had this last year and a half effected me deeply? Nah.

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Originally published at TimmieSaurus. You can comment here or there.


Tidying up.
timmiesaurus

I’m in the process of tidying up my life. It’s always a weird feeling. My life is pared down to 2 or 3 suitcases and a variety of small carry bags for my living stuff.

To clarify, my life also consists of a whole horde of “stuff” that I can barely remember what most of it is in the US waiting for me, but I’ve been without it for 2.5 years now and barely remember what the heck it is. It’s also make a point of note that my wife is an integral part of my life and much as i’ve only seen her for a few months in the last 2.5 years, she far from qualifies as “stuff”.

One last thing while I’m pointing is that this will be my 3rd or 5th intercontinental move. The first was a trip to UK that lasted 12ish years. Then back to USA for a few months, then (and whether you count this or not is in question) off to Aus for “about 6 months waiting for green card” which turned into 2.5 years (consequently I wasn’t phenomenally prepared and this explains the 3 or 5 comment) and now back to US.

All this means that I’ve got this whole thing pretty well in hand by now. If the aliens came to take me forever at this point all I’d need to know was the weight limit of baggage and how many carry ons and I’d be ready in moments. Do alien spaceships allow carryons? Can I bring liquids? Will they probe for explosives? Anyway…

What I realize as the end result is that stuff is pretty pointless. I hang on to stupid amounts of physical stuff that I’ll actually never use and much of it is purely ornamental reminders of special times. Even ,y digital life is overcrowded with tv shows and books that I’ll never get time to read/watch.

Bottom line is that with a folder of important documents, a change of clothes or two, some cloud storage and a device to access it, and a decent bank account to purchase whatever’s missing I’m fine. I’m still working on the bank account business but I’m pretty ok with everything else I don’t have.

I’m ready to move. And weirdly, after complaining of no stability for a while now, if it came to it I’d be ready to move in a moment at anytime from now on.

Go team nomad.

Originally published at TimmieSaurus. You can comment here or there.


Winding down
timmiesaurus

So, I’m off out of the country in 9 days.

It should be obvious that I’m exceedingly excited about this fact. Reconnecting with my wife and actually taking my life off hold is something I’m desperately keen to do.

What is unlikely to be so obvious is that I’m really going to miss this place despite the fact that I’ve bitched about it my whole life. I’m not leaving for good as I’ve switched countries many times now, but I’ll be at least a year, and much as I do like the whole nomad thing, I’d really like to have some sort of permanency for at least while. Consequently I expect I may be in USA for some time.

I’ll miss my nieces and nephews because I’ve missed the bulk of them growing up and found that I really do like them a great deal now that they’re more like humans rather than wriggling messy maggots. I’ll also seriously miss the rest of my family whom I’ve reconnected with far more than ever before recently.

I’ll miss my work. Again, bitching, but we have some awesome people at my work who I’m going to miss a lot. I’ll also miss challenges at the office but I expect that will come when I find a place soon in the US.

Bottom line is… winding down is tricky. I really want to leave but it’s full of buckets of regret as well. I can say goodbye and do all the typical things, and I can make sure I’ll be in touch with everyone by the internets, but the bottom line is that i’m already a little sad, and I don’t expect the next few days to be a barrel of positive energy.

Why can’t happy be freakin simple?

Originally published at TimmieSaurus. You can comment here or there.


Green Card.
timmiesaurus

Note: this entry was originally posted on the 18th of November but the cross posting from my blog screwed up. I felt my LJ friends should see it. 

So, in case you've not been bombarded the jubilation that i've been spewing all over the interwebs and somehow missed it, my green card finally happened... so that's a thing.

For backstory, I left the USA for Australia in July 2009 with the intention of spending 6 months with my family (especially my dad on his dialysis) while waiting for my green card to be approved. The process, according to the website, was supposed to take six months.

Fast forward to 2.5 years later and it's finally been approved.

Now to be absolutely clear, I do NOT want to assign blame to anyone here. There's certainly been some mismanagement of information on my part and slightly later than planned filing of forms. We're also not a clear cut case, both J and I are dual citizens (J US/UK, me Aus/UK) and don't keep combined bank accounts for various reasons. Also, when we were married her Dad was working for the military and me being a nasty foreigner I probably have a CIA file on me somewhere (and hi CIA people. I'm sure this post has been flagged. Thanks for letting me in).

Having said all that, it's been TWO AND A HALF FRICKEN YEARS OF WAITING which is no small amount of time. While the green card application was in process I was not allowed to enter the US, and due to legalities and finances, J has only visited me twice for 3 months each time. So for the last 2.5 years we've seen each other a total of 6 months. Woo.

I should also point out that the actual interviewer for the green card was lovely. The final discussion went something like this:-

CONSULATE INTERVIEWER: So you've been married for...

ME: twelve and a half years.

CI: Right. And you're both Dual citizens?

ME: Yup. Me Aus/UK and her US/UK.

CI: ... right... and so she used your passport to get into the UK?

ME: (slightly nervous) Oh no! She was already there as a student when I got there. We got married because...

CI: (interrupting) actually, after 12 and a half years, it really doesn't matter why or how it started. You've stuck together and that's great. Congratulations, you're approved.

ME: (collapsing in a moist puddle of relief) er... wow... thanks.

Consequently, Americans, I'm on my way to invade you with bad 19th century phraseology in an Australian accent to make peoples heads explode... to quote some guy I know.

I'll be arriving sometime around the 22nd of Jan and heading to Austin to be job-hunting. Be warned. (also anyone reading in Austin, feel free to direct potential employers here)


Kidney.
timmiesaurus
Note: This is an entry out of order. It was originally posted on the 27th of october but the cross posting from my blog screwed it up. I just felt the LJ peeps needed to see it. 

I've been blessed. Most of my family lived stupid amounts of time according to world standards. My last remaining grandparent lived till his mid nineties. Consequently I never expected major problems for any of my family.

So when, just after a world trip to visit me in London (and trek all over europe no matter how poorly he was feeling) my dad found out his kidneys had failed, it was a mortal blow to him.

It took me a long time to realise what this meant to me and put this into words, so bear with me. Or skip to the last 5 paragraphs to read the conclusion.

My dad is a superhero. I know everyone thinks that about their dad, but my dad is… so there. When he was still a kid he caught rabbits to help feed striking workers. He had an early job to go undercover to investigate mercury thieves. He worked all over the place to help support his growing family. He built his own solar water heater from scrap way before anyone knew what they really were. Never ever ask him about his motorcycle kangaroo story. And he ran for Prime minister of Australia during the vietnam era (it's mentioned in the movies, go check). Even after retirement he helped sort some of the Olympic transport issues in the 2000 Olympics.

My favourite dad story is when he was out with my scout troop looking for bamboo poles to serve as tent poles, he accidentally sliced the back of his hand open with a machete, but he didn't want to bother anyone with it so he stitched it up himself with a sewing kit when he got home.

To say my dad is an active person is to severely underestimate the word "active".

So, kidney failure.

Medical lesson here. For those who have never dealt with anyone with kidney failure, there's two main types of Dialysis. Hemodialysis and Peritoneal Dialysis. My dad was initially on Peritoneal Dialysis. This is basically a shunt surgically implanted around the stomach allowing the patient (my dad) to have a raised drip feed of mostly glucose run into his system which, to cut a long medical lesson short, allows the peritoneal membrane to work as a filter for the blood. This is good for getting out and about and dad would often be known to pull up in a carpark and hang his drip bag on something high to get things underway.

This would have been an awesome long term solution for someone as active as my dad… if he wasn't so active and thus susceptible to infection. Not ideal. In the 3 years he was on this he was in pain and hospital way too often from infection.

For the last 4 years he's been on Hemodialysis which means a huge machine is installed in the lounge room of his house, and once every 2 days he spends up to 8 hours hooked to a machine that basically filters his blood for him. Way less infection. Way more energy after the treatment. Awesome technology. Serious life suck.

He also could never travel much as he constantly needs to be near a hospital, and near enough to be able to get the call for a new kidney.

On wednesday night, at 1am (just after it ticked over from his birthday) he was offered a kidney. He's been in hospital since then and is now the proud owner of a bouncing baby kidney. Healing fast, and expected to be home within a few weeks.

He's thrilled.

So yes. My dad may live for another 5 years, or another 25 years like his dad… but no matter what he's going to finish his days like a superhero, active and getting about without being attached to a machine… and to be honest, that's all that anyone could ever want, and all that I want for him. Good luck dad.


Oops.
timmiesaurus
Sorry LJ readers. I just realized that my xpost here stopped working two posts ago. I'll fix it shortly and you'll see some backdated entries (assuming you're frantically keen to go back and retread). 

t. 
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