July 2, 2007

The End of the Internet

Here is a breakthrough in the history of web browsing. After months of absolute inactivity on a dumb projects (9 months to be precise, still counting, although not for long), I have reached it!

Here is a sneak preview:

Mind you, when I say inactivity, that is not exactly true. I have been intensively browsing, exploring the web. My typical daily web surfing routine includes a thorough press review (usually done in the morning, whilst attending boring conference calls) with Le Monde, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Liberation, Ha'aretz as well as liberal amounts of Yahoo! Actualites (the people section too... several times a day I confess).
When the afternoon comes, I have to broaden my horizons... Wikipedia is a great knowledge quencher. In spite of inaccuracies and some debatable articles, I have to admit I am a great fan of the Random Article function! Sometimes I am so bored that I can press the button several times a day.

Being food obsessed, I also spend a lot of time on various food blogs, looking for recipes that I will most likely never compose, yet I am convinced that this will turn me into a fantastic cook one day.

I am very much in favour of cooking based on recipes, not per a specific recipe. Ok, sometimes improvisation and cooking do not go well together, but overall the results can be great! My all-time fave is of course the Rolls-Royce of food blogging, the famous Chocolate & Zucchini, written by the talented Clotilde Dusoulier (BTW, I strongly recommend her book, it is a must have. I even queued in Dean & Deluca to have it signed last May during her book tour). I also like Requia, Mercotte, and a few others.
I should look for a job, I know. I had one though (see below). But I will keep on looking. That is my summer resolution. Is it less painful than committing to lose those extra pounds to fit in your new bikini? I don't know.
But one thing is for sure: if I cut down on food website browsing, I will spend additional time sending out resumes. Therefore, I could possibly get a new job and make less (and eat less) petits pots de creme au chocolat, which in turn may positively affect my beach appearance!

June 26, 2007

Coming Soon

Saving the Planet, a Socialite View on Ethanol
Sociopathology of the US workplace (cubicles, Tony Soprano, and consultants)

Stay tuned...

Amnesty National

Two things: First, I think that I can compete for the title of the world's Worst Blogger, as I have not updated these pages in well over 45 days. Second, as you will have noticed, US Immigration has become my favourite topic of complaints (not the only one though, as I am French and complaining is part of my DNA). This can be explained by the fact that I truly hate my job and my company, and the idea of being a Captive Underpaid Employee (aka CUE, as per my introduction) at CrapCompany because of the dysfunctional US work permit system does not help me to focus on other things right now.
So, for all of the above, I apologize.

As I am avidly following the debate on the providential - yet highly unlikely - immigration bill, I stumbled across a quote from George W. Bush. Today, the bill was successfully moved forward in Senate, although there is probably a long way to go (if not a dead-end highway) until it is voted in Senate and eventually reaches the House of Representatives.
The New York Times published tonight a recap of this long day, and reported a memorable gaffe of George W., who could have easily featured in the David Letterman Show "Great Presidential Speeches" section.

Before I share his comment with you, let me give you some background information. The bill, strangely titled Unaccompanied Alien Child Protection Act of 2007, aims at completing a major overhaul of the US immigration system, by creating for the 12 million illegal aliens a path to legalization (though major hurdles were put on the way, such as the obligation to "touch back" with their home country). Incidentally, it also proposes a reform of the H1B visa system (yeah!!). Obviously this bill, supported by Senator Ted Kennedy, is massively attacked by all sides, which are accusing the bill to encourage fraud and will result in an increase the number of illegal immigrants. Ah! Those immigrants and aliens that are sucking the American Welfare State... In any event, the fact that the proposed reform of the H1B is nestled in the text dealing with illegal immigrants (thus highly controversial), directly threatens its chances of ever reaching the House.

So, in order to respond to the criticisms of the opponents to the bill, Bush Jr. tried to use a word that he did not understand. To those who accused the bill to provide amnesty to illegal immigrants, he responded:

"Amnesty means that you’ve got to pay a price for having been here illegally, and this bill does that"

Quite an interesting definition of amnesty. But, I have to thank Mr President for defending this bill, which if it is ever voted, will make my job change much easier. If this guy was elected President of the USA, I too can make my wishes come true!

May 8, 2007

And the winner is...

Well, it's been a busy week. In fact, as you will discover very soon, I am actually not that busy these days, but it was a busy week anyway.

So, here we are! The winner of the 2007 French presidential election is Sarkozy. Oh well, although I have voted for the Socialist Party in France all my life, this time I have to confess that I just couldn't do Segolene. She is an attractive women but dumb as hell. Whenever she speaks on TV, I want to disappear under the sofa, out of shame. Hence, I voted for Bayrou in the first round, and proudly casted a blank ballot for the second round. I could not bring myself to vote for Sarko. Now, Nicolas is baking under the Maltesian sun, and I am waiting to see what happens. I have to say I do not think this is a tragedy, perhaps he will do something to get the French out of their whining habits. Or maybe he will set the country on fire. We'll see.

Speaking of a winner, I proudly photographed the first time I completed a Solitaire game on my ipod. I know this is absolutely useless, but I was very proud of myself, and could not help but see some irony there.
Irony? well, yes. I called my employer yesterday, and found out that I did not win the H1B lottery. So my job is GONE... As I walk heading back home (very) disheartened and cursing the abyssal stupidity of the US immigration system, I played with my ipod and finally completed this game. And the message was this: "we have a winner".

Let's pretend it's true. I do not know exactly what I won here, but it cheered me up. And of course so did a good bottle of wine with my husband and good friends.

April 11, 2007

The long commute - Google style

A month ago, as I was coming back to NYC after a long week-end back in Paris, I routinely queued with my fellow alien companions in front of the immigration booths at JFK airport. For those that are fortunate enough to be among la creme de la creme, i.e. legal holders of a Permanent Resident document, aka Green Card, or even better, US citizens, getting through the customs is pretty much a slam dunk. Actually, for the American traveller, this part of their trip is probably the only one that was not turned so much into a nightmare in the wake of the air travel security overhaul.

Anyways, for those of us that are not in possession of such laissez-passer, waiting to get through immigration is somewhat remnant of a Soviet waiting line. Depending on your hour of travel, you may get caught with fellow travelers from parts of the world that immediately arouse the suspicion of the "sharp" immigration officers, which invariably will increase the wait time by a certain amount. Obviously, anyone with floating fabric too close to their faces is suspicious, and this includes a large part of the world! Mind you, the French officials are probably the world champions in "delit de facies" - a French way to say that your face does not match the current wish list of immigration officers. As a rule, there are usually 2 immigration officers for 350 non-US passengers, while on the other side of the room, an army of 10 officers swiftly handles the stamping of Mr and Mrs Smith's passport, as well as a few lone business travelers. Only when there are guaranteed that no other plane will land in the next 55 minutes can they start to reluctantly deal with the Third World. That is me, and my fellow alien companions.

I finally proceed closer to the yellow line, with a little anguish, I have to say. Not that I have done anything wrong, but there are always epic stories from friends that make you want to look positively awake and fresh, even after a xx-hour flight in economy class on American Airlines. As a rule, you want to limit your time at the immigration booth to the bare minimum. When my turn finally comes, I put on my best smile, and walk with composure towards the officer.

As I offer him my passport - opened at the right page, he obviously does not respond to my warm "Good evening officer". He flips through the pages, and then pops the Question:
"Do you live or work here?"

At first, I blame it on my diminished hearing ability, due to i-pod abuse, and politely ask him to repeat. He repeats the question and I find myself wondering if this guy is dumb or also very tired. I look at him straight in the eyes, trying not to too look surprised, and proudly answer him:
"Both, sir"
And he responds:
"No. You don't live here. You only work here. If you lived here, you'd be American or would have a Green Card."

I am standing dumbfounded in front of officer Ramirez who, at some point in his life or his parents, probably stood in the same position as I did that day. I quietly explain to him that, because I work here, and I happen to live in the country where I work, hence I live here. As Descartes would say, Cogito Ergo Sum. But this tautology did not enthuse him that much and he stuck to his version. So I finally ended our discussion abruptly with an ever convenient "Whatever", he furiously stamped my I94 and I walked out happy enough to have avoided deportation on the ground that although I am legally allowed to work here, I can not officially live here.

As I walked to the customs, I was mentally trying to figure what my daily commute would be if I still claimed residence in Paris, while getting my W2 in the US. While pushing my suitcase full of chocolates brought back from home, and praying for the customs not to ask me to stop, I put on my nice airport smile (the same that did not quite work at immigration) and hand my form to the officer. And this gentleman greets me with a "Welcome home, young lady!".

Go Figure!

Well, my husband today has sent me something that could solve my alien work/residency conundrum. If you go to Google Map and go to the "Get Directions" section and type
New York, NY as a departure point and Paris, France as the destination, you will get this smart itinerary.

I particularly enjoy directions #23, and #24 which say:

"Swim across the Atlantic Ocean 3,462 mi 29 days 0 hours" and "Slight right at E05 0.5 mi".

Does not seem too complicated. Working in America is well worth it, isn't?

April 4, 2007

I got out of Egypt...

.... And may have to get out of the US

As the festivities of Passover have drawn to a close, I logged on to my emails to check what has happened while I was retreating at the Seder table and celebrated my yearly regained spiritual freedom.

Little did I know... as the Jewish people was collectively rejoicing, my professional freedom got (potentially) clamped down by an announcement from USCIS, the US immigration authorities.

I am in the process of applying for an H1B visa and finally leave the company that has brought me here a little over 18 months ago. I have found a job that I was dreaming of, and a great company that had agreed to sponsor me for this visa, in spite of the kafkaian immigration laws in the US, which require the employer to extend an offer and sponsor a potential hire 6 months before the start date.

Alas, USCIS announced yesterday (April 3rd, 2007), 24 hrs after the opening filing date, that they had received 150,000 applications, for around 58, 000 visas available. The end result of this absurd system is that USCIS will hold a lottery to allocate the visas.

We are not talking about a Green Card, or a political asylum status. No, no, a simple work permit to the USA, valid for 3 years and renewable only once for another 3 years. Not the kind of work permit that allows the scary, under qualified and underpaid (that last attribute is true, though) foreign workers to suck the blood of bountiful America, and steal the jobs of its citizens.

This is the result of the "tighter" security measures implemented in the US post 9/11. Stupid, stupid, stupid measures. Do they think that this is doing any good to the US economy? Are we, the "aliens" the threat? Of course not.

But in the mean time, I have a poor record in ever winning a lottery. I did not even win a goldfish at my primary school annual raffle. I am not even talking about the fabulous prizes of the contests of Le Journal de Mickey that I religiously entered every now and then, but to no avail.

I have the feeling that these coming weeks, I will be feverishly checking my mailbox in the hope of finding a Willy Wonka Golden Ticket, in the form of a USCIS approved H1B petition. What else can I do?

March 29, 2007

By means of introduction

This blog gathers the thoughts of 29 years old French woman living in New York City, in the charming microcosm of the Upper West Side.

I may not be a citizen of the world, but have been traveling in a few places, and lived in Paris (my hometown), London and Jerusalem. The world being a small place, I decided to call this blog Microcosmik, to stress how circles of acquaintances - whether social or professional - remain closely intertwined. Add to that the structural gregariousness of the neighborhoods of Manhattan, perhaps due to the shape of the island, and you have a view of my world.

My occupation: mainly C.U.E (explanation will be posted soon), although my I94 states that I am a management consultant.

The purpose of this blog is to allow me to post my observations about random things, ranging from the views of an alien worker in the US, the various stages involved in the discovery of corporate America, as well as totally unrelated topics such as current affairs, food or any other issue of interest.
Being in the US, I will probably post most things in English, but I may occasionally spit out a few lines in my langue maternelle.

Comments and questions are welcome.