Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Through the looking glass

Hello everyone, sorry for not giving you all an update until now. First I have had problems getting back online using my regular emails (I have had access to my work email since sometime early last week) and after that problem was fixed I had problem syncing my address book so I couldn't send out any group emails. It's all fixed now anyway and I'm back to being online pretty much 24/7 (Ok, I'm not reading it all the time) though at a connection speed roughly 250 times slower than before the move since I'm using my cellphone to access the net. As soon as I move to a more permanent apartment I'll get real broadband though. Ok, enough ranting about being online, what else have I been doing?

It has been a hectic weeks, but I have been able to get a lot of things done. When first I arrived arrived here I had no problem going through customs like I had the time a few weeks ago. This time I got the white paper in my passport instead of the green one... In your face all you non work visa people! Not really that much to cheer about really is it. To be honest I think Stefan got through the customs faster than I did, and I still had to have my fingerprints taken.

I also managed to bungle up getting a rental car in a rather impressive war. First of all I realized when we were changing planes that I had forgot it all together, but no fear. I just called the trusty people of my regular travel service and they helped me set it up while I waited... Only to realize when I read my latest email that Quest would be paying for the rental car and had already fixed one for me. I thought, no problem I just go up to the Avis counter and cancel my reservation. Well thats not how it works at LAX, there you take a shuttle bus to all the different rental places so just going over to the counter doesn't work. In the end I just ignored my own reservation. I'm hoping there doesn't show up a debit on my credit card for a months worth of rental car in a few days... If it does I'll just claim I have no idea what they are talking I think.

Around 14 hours after I landed I started my first day at work. First thing I got 2 inch thick folders of paperwork to go through. Lot of employee handbooks and different policies. And off course a bunch of medical insurance stuff etc. I think the whole Visa thing was only the tip of the byrocratic iceberg of moving to the states. A bunch of people came over and said hello, most of them some sort of manager who were involved with what I was working on, to be honest I couldn't keep track of all of them. I think I have managed to narrow it down to 4 managers that actually have anything to do at all with what I do. Two project managers, one for R & D and one for marketing and two vice presidents above them, again for R & D and marketing (Somebody thinking of Office Space... Did you get that memo Bob?). Everyone was also very nice and saying that I should ease into working and realizing that I had a lot of other stuff to get sorted. To be honest since I haven't worked for almost three and a half months I couldn't wait to get cracking so first thing Friday I let the paperwork go and started working. Most of the paperwork can't be finished without a social security number though which I applied for friday afternoon only to know that it can take up to 6 weeks to get it.

In the States you can't do anything without a social security number. Or if you can you need to pay a huge deposit. You can't get insurance (Including medical and dental), you can't get a bank account, you can't get payd from your job and you can't get a drivers license. Without a bank account you can't get a credit card. Without a Californian drivers license you can't even test drive a car, I'm guess I could buy it though but I can't try it before. It took me a lot of work to be able to get a cellphone and getting an apartment (Which I have).

During the first weekend we went up and visited Magnus in Santa Monica and was going to go out partying, but didn't really make it because we were having too much of a good time at his place. Before that we took a look at Santa Monica and Venice Beach. The day after me, Stefan and Magnus went doing the touristy things. Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Bell Air and in the end Malibu... Very impressive stuff! During the week Stefan was here he was also my driving tutor. Thanx for the help. I don't really have any problems with driving, I just need practice and a few pointers. People can't understand how I could possibly have survived until now without ever owned a car.

The next week was pretty much work and not much happened except that Magnus set me and Stefan up with a friend of us who lives down here in Newport Beach which we went out and ate with during one night of the week. She also brought a friend of here which is a hairdresser, which might solve that problem here. Something I've been worrying about here. I know that probably I'll have a hard time finding someone as good as Jeanette, my hairdresser in Sweden. I also finally managed to get the cellphone working this week, but I haven't been able to get them to enable international calls without a social security number. Someone pointed out to me that I could buy really cheap calling cards which would still work although the place where you buy them online needed a credit card with a US zip code as the billing address... Or if you didn't have that again your social security number. Anyone starting to see a pattern? So now I have around 6 people in my phone book that I can call.

I've also had a real problem with jet lag this time I came over, something I usually never have when traveling in this direction (I almost always have problem when I go home). I have woken up before the alarm rang (Or before 8am when it wasn't set) until this latest weekend when I managed to sleep until 10am finally. I think I know what the problem is too, alcohol. Some of you have heard my ideas on alcohol and jetlag and the problem off course I've had this time is that I haven't drunk enough like I usually do when I'm travelling because I'm driving most of the time :).Well now I'm pretty much back to regular being tired as hell in the morning and not really feeling like sleeping yet even though it's more than 12pm.

I have almost managed to bungle up my Visa here too after a little more than a week. I had to buy a return ticked when I got here because it was cheaper than a single one (Could anyone who understands that please explain it to me?). So I had this idea that I go along with Stefan and check in without any bags just to get the miles one my bonus card. The idea would have worked everywhere else but here. First of all they put Stefan's bags on my tickets instead of his, but we managed to sort that out but then came the real problem. Off course the tried to rip the Visa paper from my passport without which I can't leave the US and come back again. Fortunately I managed to stop the check in girl in time and explain that I really didn't want to go on the flight and she was really cool about it. Here comes the really brilliant part of the plan: I forgot to hand over my bonus card when I tried to check in so even if it would have worked I still wouldn't have gotten any miles!

During the weekend I was up in Santa Monica again and had dinner with a neighbor to Magnus at a really good restaurant. Might possibly have been the best food I've had in the States so far. A bit weird combination though, for starter there was Carpaccio with Wasabi and the main course was Salmon with Bearneisse. I had a really good time though despite the weather. Which brings me to the last part of this email which is the weather. This week has actually seen quite a few days of really crappy weather even by Scandinavian standards and there are flood warnings in some parts of LA and it's going to keep up for the rest of the week. Still between the rain showers there is still sunshine and it isn't that cold so I'm not complaining.

All in all, I think this whole US thing might actually turn out ok. Well, this turned out to be a pretty long letter since I've been up to a lot the last weeks. From now on I'll try to keep the updates more regularly. Take care everybody and don't forget to come visit me as soon as you can!

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