Thursday, December 28, 2006

Papers, please

Life as an American proceeds apace.

I got my voter registration card in the mail yesterday. I'm supposed to sign it (I think; there's a space for a signature but it doesn't tell me to sign it) and then produce it for a nactual election. It's a postcard. I almost didn't even bring it into the house, preparing to can it with the CAR-RT SORT junkmail before I realized what it was. There's no chance at all I'll be able to find it on election day.

I also applied for a US passport yesterday. I queued^W lined up at the Post Office for approximately an hour and handed over $157 for the passport. I should have it in three weeks, it says here. The bad news is that my hard-won naturalization certificate accompanies the application on its travels. As well as that (my most essential piece of documentation) the application has my social security number, mother's maiden name, mother's place of birth, dad's name and dad's place of birth. It's not the sort of thing you want out in the wild, even in the capable (and $30 fee receiving) hands of the US Postal Service. If the passport ever arrives, I will then go to Foreign Parts just because I can.

Since I changed jobs recently, I have also had to apply for COBRA health insurance, sound out new health insurance, do some things with the 401K retirement fund (still not sure what exactly to do with some other related things), and work out whether to excercise the minimal share options my last firm gave me, which were underwater until approximately the day I left and then shot up in price to almost double in three weeks and are now worth buying. (Do the investors know something about me I don't know?)

At the new firm I have also spent approximately 20 hours (of their time, luckily) finding out about and filling in forms for:
1. Access to the property I work at
2. Access to the property where my boss works
3. Vehicular access to the local property
4. Vehicular parking rights to one tiny parking lot (I've already
gotten a ticket for parking in the wrong parking lot) on the local property
5. Access to (my boss's) local computer system
6. VPN access to my computer files while on the road
7. Access to the local laboratory information system (LIS)
8. Access to the local information system document control
9. Access to the local information system data servers
10. Access to the LIS at my boss's site
11. Access to the other LIS at my boss's site
12. The email system of the company overall (by a stroke of sheer luck, this is not divided into locations)
13. Internet access (can't live without that, can we?)

All of these required a separate form and permissions from a different person. One of them involved getting a form and a 20 page explanation of how to fill it in from a Word document tab that is on the local-local computer system, which you will have noted immediately is something to which I do not have access. Luckily I had friends in the next cubicle with email.

The one thing that took the most time? Registering for, logging onto and entering data into the web-based expense report system. It took almost as long as the business trip (driving up to see my boss).

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