Wednesday, May 16, 2007

An Update Via 7 Things

A mini-hiatus from the blog, you may have noticed, due to some things I'll get to shortly. Since I have been tagged a couple of times in this current "7 Things I Didn't Know About You" meme, I figure I'll give you the lowdown via those. Some people know about some of them, but hell, I'm mentioning it anyway.

1. Last Tuesday afternoon I discovered that due to an (apparent) error made by the Customs and Border Protection agent who re-admitted me to the US last September, I was technically in the country illegally... and had been for over 3 months.

As soon as I realised the problem I contacted my company's Immigration Lawyer, but at the time I had no idea whether it was possible to fix the problem, or if I was going to be able to fix it if I went to a US Consulate outside the US, or if I just had to up an leave the country immediately.

Bad times.

I made phone calls, I scoured through documentation and regulations online, made appointments with US Consulates in two different countries, and investigated leaving for my home town ASAP. Dealing with bureaucracies is never easy, and with the stakes this high I was most definitely not in my happy place.

Last Friday I got some information suggesting that I could get the error corrected by going to a special office at Dulles airport. I headed there on Monday but got stiffed... everyone was apparently on "mandatory training" (though I only discovered this after waiting around for an hour). Undaunted (OK, kind-of-daunted) I headed back yesterday morning, and despite tardy opening of the office, managed to get the issue sorted out in the least painful manner imaginable.

Yes, I'm legal again. At least until late April 2008. You know, if I'm still employed by a company who is sponsoring me.

Special thanks to those people who were online at various points and let me freak out at them. I appreciated the concern, the outrage, and the advice. Extra special thanks to those people who offered marriage, even though it wouldn't have helped this time, don't think that I've forgotten.

2. The Wednesday morning following my discovery of my bad status we had an All Hands meeting at work. During that meeting it was announced that the product that I support was being spun off into a new venture, using a different company's technology. Following the meeting was a series of "one on one" meetings, and in mine I was told that my position would probably be eliminated in November or December.


I'm normally a pretty level-headed guy (Immigration status freak-outs aside), but on the back of my discovery of the previous day, this news didn't make much of a dent anyway. It is not a foregone conclusion at this stage - I'm needed to help manage things during the whole changeover process for now (my boss and other people finish up July 1st). There are still possibilities of moving into another position, or into the new company, so we'll see. Still early days. At the very least I am meant to see paperwork regarding my staying on for the company stating retention bonus, severance package, and other details. Once I have a look at that and the associated terms (for example: guaranteed duration of employment is something I'd really like to see), I'll have a little more information.

I have also spoken to HR, especially regarding my Visa etc., so I am hopeful that this can be sorted out. Interesting times, again.

3. OK, I think that's enough of the "Garth's latest news" stuff. How about useless facts about me? When I was living in Edmonton, Canada for a couple of years while I was in highschool, I actually played cricket. Edmonton had (and maybe still has) two grades of cricket; as I was under 18 I could play for anyone from week-to-week, and thus became a "super-sub", playing for anyone who was short. I ended up playing full-time for a team full of Sri Lankans, all named Patel. They used to love having me run around in the outfield, flying about the place as only a 15 year old can. I also ended up representing the province of Albert in "under 18" cricket (along with my brother), and the city of Edmonton for the "under 21" team.

As part of representing Alberta, my brother and I got to go to Vancouver for a week-long cricket camp (I believe this was in 1992). We stayed with a family headed by an ex-pat English guy who was gregarious and gambly. As part of the "entertain the guests" program during the week we occasionally played cards, which was the first time I was ever exposed to Texas Hold'em. I recall getting heads up at one stage, and really enjoyed it, though I do not recall any specifics other than that. The next time I played Texas Hold'em was over a decade later.

4. Most of you are aware that I play Australian Rules Football here in the US, for the Baltimore Washington Eagles. Aussie Rules is a high impact contact sport, played without pads. Despite this fact, during my career I have only had two serious-ish injuries. Back in Australia I was playing in a local league in Perth, and during one wet and muddy day against North Fremantle I was getting a little too much of the ball, and the Ruckman (the equivalent of a Centre in basketball) decided to elbow smash me instead of trying to tackle me. I'm pretty sure I was knocked out, though I came to when I was dragged up by my jumper by one of my team mates. I was completely out of it and running around randomly, though I took myself off when I kind of came to my senses and realised there was blood dripping out of my nose.

Long story short: it turns out I had suffered an Orbital Blowout Fracture; the floor of my right eye's orbital "blowing" downwards. Complicating matters was the fact I had also suffered nerve damage (the injury didn't actually hurt at the time), and I had no feeling in a huge section of the right side of my face. It also resulted in the Greatest Black Eye of All Times[tm]. The nerve damage complicated things, and I didn't get the correct diagnosis until a week later.

I eventually saw a cranio-facial surgeon, who told me that my right cheekbone had been depressed a fraction of a millimeter, but it could be "pulled" back into place if I wanted. He assured me there was only a 5% chance of going blind in my right eye. So I thanked the Doctor for his time, and left his office.

Before I left he did tell me that the feeling in my face should return in a few months. He also told me not to play any more footy that year, so naturally I played the last three games of the season. The feeling eventually did come back, but the nerve that was damaged goes through your cheek and to your temple. To this day I still have a "fuzzy spot" in my right temple as a result.

The other injury? Mallet finger - caused when I got a football right on the end of the finger, causing the tendon to fly off, taking a huge chunk of bone with it. Again, it didn't really hurt at the time, and I only left the ground after noticing that the top join of my right middle finger was seriously drooping and I couldn't straighten it. I ended up seeing an orthopedic surgeon, and had to have a pin inserted into my finger. The pin actually protruded from the end of the finger, and had a protective "ball" at the end of it.

I actually had to fly a few days after the surgery, and can confirm that I was able to work through the metal detector without setting it off.

After 6 weeks or so of having it in, the surgeon removed the pin in his office, without much warning. It was a pretty weird experience. After having it removed I actually had to go to "finger rehab" to gain full motion in my top joint; after being immobilised for six weeks my finger wasn't really interested in being able to move at all.

5. Wow, I can't write short things today, can I? Alright, let's try and keep these next few facts at least shortish. In grades 8 and 9 and half of 10 (before I moved to Canada) I played an instrument. I started on trumpet, but was moved to the euphonium, which is basically a baby tuba which sounds exactly like a trombone but uses valves instead of a slide.

I know, how about a picture!

Ladies, it's OK to be turned on

It was a bitch to lug around the place, though I actually managed to leave it on a public bus a couple of times; hilarity ensued. Even though I haven't tried to play a euphonium (or trumpet for that matter) in a while, I can still play a scale and I might even still be able to play sheet music, as long as it's in bass clef.

6. Maybe I'm scarred by Waffles' post, but how about a sex fact? I lost my virginity when I was 18, within 0.2 seconds of entering University. I was scooped up by a 19 year old 2nd year Psychology student named Vanessa who had bright pink hair and a pierced nose. I hadn't dated much (like, at all) during High School, and thus it wasn't a surprise when our "relationship" imploded completely after 3 months or so, which is a pattern that has repeated itself a few times since (bonus fact!: the longest relationship I have ever been in was for a year with an Irish girl on a temporary visa in Sydney... 18 months if you count the time when she was in Ireland, up until I went and visited her).

I did manage to meet Vanessa's mother accidentally (bonus fact!: I have never met the mother of any of my other girlfriends), when I was waiting for Vanessa to come back to her apartment. There was a knock on the door, and I opened it to see a middle-aged woman.

"Who are you?" asked the woman.

"Who are you?" I replied, since I was the one was actually answering the door.

So yeah, that's how I met Vanessa's mum. Vanessa called her mum after she returned, and her mum contributed such gems as "he's so young" and "make sure you use a condom". Gold!

7. OK, how about another sex fact? The biggest age difference I have had with a partner was 13 years; I was 22, she was 35. That was a one night stand that went horribly wrong, as I was completely unable to escape her clutches. The next morning I attempted to leave (despite not knowing where I was), but she offered me a lift. I tried to get her to drop me off at home, but she suggested a movie (which was? American Beauty. OH MY GOD that was not the right situation to be seeing that film). After the move I again tried to get home, but she dragged me to dinner.

I finally managed to get home, and not have her follow me inside, though she invited herself over the next night and tried to get me back in the sack. It took me another full week to finally get the message through. Craziness.

Allegedly I am meant to tag some other people, but I choose to abstain. If nothing else, given my tardiness anyone who is going to do this has already done it, right? Right.


  • I was also a euphonium player in high school and college. A damn good one, too, if I may so.

    I also had a little fling with a 44yo when I was 29, and dated a 19yo when I was 27. Good times, good times.

    By Blogger F-Train, at 4:01 PM  

  • Extra special thanks to those people who offered marriage

    You're welcome.

    By Blogger Mr Subliminal, at 4:41 PM  

  • Sometimes I think you're my favorite blogger to read. You write very well, though I was cringing at the description of the finger

    By Blogger JL514, at 3:07 PM  

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