Dear Mr. President

Dear President Obama,

I am writing to you in this public form to appeal not only to yourself, but to others in power who may stumble across this.

Allow me to introduce myself quickly. I am 23 years of age and I live in a small town in Virginia with my wife of 20 months, our 1 year old Golden Retriever “Crash,” our 7 month old kitten “Olive,” and my wife’s family – her Mom, Dad, Brother, and their 3 cats.

Since moving to the United States in April 2008 I have held 2 jobs, one as a Camp Counselor at a Christian Camp and one as a Program Leader for a local Boys and Girls Club Unit. I have also done casual work for another camp in the area, hardly enough to call a job in most senses of the term and I am presently unemployed. My wife works at a Day Care Center as a teacher for 3 year old children, and enjoys it a lot.

However, we are stuck in a position where a lack of job openings in the local area as well as high fuel costs are preventing me from finding or accepting job offers. Just a week ago I had to turn down a well-paying offer to work in Northern Virginia because we couldn’t afford the gas to allow me to work the first day, let alone until the first pay check. I also stopped by the local Food Lion (supermarket) last night to inquire as to whether there were any open positions and how I could apply, only to be told that they are cutting their employees hours – they simply aren’t making it themselves.

I feel that “free” health-care, paid for by the taxpayer, is an important issue – especially having moved from a public health care system in New Zealand. I know that if our health insurance bill was lowered or indeed gone then my wife and I would be a lot closer to making our personal financial ends meet. I am also very much aware that the mainstream media have done a very good job of scaring us all with what might unfold if that were allowed to happen here. I feel that stimulating the economy is important too, especially because it seems a lot of people have little money to spend. I know if American products could better compete in price-wars against imported products then I would be more inclined to purchase the “home-grown” version. I am also very much aware that what most people are spending their money on are imported goods from overseas – simply because they are so much more affordable to them.

I wouldn’t mind if my job was providing technical support to a foreign organization that purchased a product from a US source, while I went to a store during my break and bought meat imported from outside the country for a meal, but from what I can tell there are very few things of worth being exported from the United States compared to the vast amount of things being imported. What the people need is employment to provide them with an income and the US economy with a profitable product, and what the economy needs is an increase in exports and a decrease in imports in order to create a balance.

Perhaps this means increasing taxes on imported goods intended for sale, or imposing limits on how much an individual or an organization can import every year. Perhaps this means increasing and reducing taxes on individuals and organizations who refuse to produce in the United States or who take the initiative to create jobs and products in America for Americans (and others). Whatever the solution, it needs to come quickly.

I am not an American, I am certainly not someone to tell you how to do your job or what this country needs. In all honesty, I don’t know. Maybe a start would be some form of inspiration to lower gas prices. To increase the desire of Americans to buy American. To foster the ideas of individuals or organizations who have something of exportable value and help them to bring dream to reality.

Kind Regards,

A Concerned Legal Alien.

I Like Free Stuff.

One of the cool things I’ve discovered since moving to the United States has been the amazing onslaught of eligibility for free stuff. Not many places in New Zealand gave stuff away for free (that was worth anything, at least), and the vast majority of places in the US or Canada giving away stuff wouldn’t ship internationally.

Over the last few days I’ve been trawling the free stuff sites, and getting a whole bunch of free (or very nearly free) stuff or samples. From personal supplies, to pet treats, to t-shirts (custom and generic), bumper stickers, all kinds of things I probably wouldn’t otherwise buy, except that I can get them free. And who knows, maybe some of them will serve their purpose and drive me to buy things from the companies. A couple of them, particularly the t-shirt companies are very likely to again receive my business, although they’re the ones I paid shipping on. Especially if I ever actually start a business of any kind, or come up with more t-shirt designs, somewhere easy to get a startup would be good.

So now I’m sitting back and waiting to see when the free stuff starts rolling in!

Why We Suck – An Incomplete Review

This evening I went to work with Kelly to keep her company in hell. Not that making coffee for stupid people in a corporately-run bookstore is bad, she just doesn’t do well working alone with no outside communication for long periods. It is her personal hell.

While I was there I picked out 3 books to read. C++ For Dummies (considering learning a new language), Eminem’s recent book “The Way I Am,” in which he tells of events passed, and Dr. Denis Leary’s “Why We Suck.”

I was intrigued after seeing Dr. Leary on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (and especially the discussion regarding Autism), and it was a must-read. It is a 240 page rand on the U.S., and Why We Suck. From the Lewinsky scandal to Janet Jackson’s Wardrobe Malfunction. From parenting to drugs. Nothing is immune from his assault on stupidity.

In the course of the evening I have realised several things. Joel Osteen had good reason to fly business class. As Eminem points out, famous people flying coach don’t get any freedom to sleep or relax at all. Learning C/C++/Anything will be an interesting adventure after PHP. And I definitely enjoy semi-satirical rants. This week I stumbled upon Violent Acre‘s rant on fear mongering among children. After reading several other articles I’ve decided to begin following the site.

In other news, I’ve begun planning my next web-project. Amazon meets eBay meets Cafepress meets WordPress. At this point it is in database and general design phase, but will hopefully take shape over the next month or so. I’ve also been working on UCCN trying to get more web-integration happening and progress is slowly being made.

Lastly, my desktop PC started making loud noises, again. I just hope I can rescue data from the hard disk, which I’m strongly suspecting is the noise-maker…

Dear USCIS, You Suck, From Twiddle.

As mentioned previously I’m a New Zealand Citizen, have lived in NZ since birth, moving in April so as to get married, live and work in the United States. Now, I understand that in a country this big, some things just move slowly. But anyone who claims that getting married in order to gain green cards or citizenship is the easy route, I would disagree strongly (even to the point where it is annoying that people believe this is the case).

Following all the rules, I arrived in April. Kelly and I were married in late May, we visited the USCIS office in Washington DC (as advised on the website that we should) – after waiting an hour or so, were told that we needed to mail our paperwork to Chicago. Frustrated, we drove home, rechecked everything another 3 times and sent as instructed.

Our paperwork was received on July 2nd, and processing began. We were requested to provide extra information, which was sent and received on August 14th, and we were also requested to visit Alexandria, VA, to provide fingerprints.

This is all fine, this is as expected. I have been monitoring our case online, however, as well as watching the case processing times, and am growing disappointed. The case processing time for the National Benefits Center (where our case is) shows three months from point of reception. By my calculations, 3 months from July 2nd is October 2nd, allowing 2-3 days either way. Today is the 25th October, and still nothing has been heard. The other application, the information received in August, says there will be an update or decision (in writing) within 60 days. August 14th + 60 days = October 14th, give or take a few days. Again, no communication has been received.

“Call them and see what’s happening??” I hear you ask! Well, I did. After navigating through their (fairly well designed) computerized phone system I was able to hear the same case status information as is provided online. Asked the phone system to let me speak to a customer services rep, and it said they will only take complaints or update requests if the case status is either more than 30 days beyond the processing date and hasn’t been updated in the last 60 days. I guess I’ll have to wait another couple of weeks.