Posted on Friday, October 17th, 2008
Photo of voting booths courtesy of nshepard on Flickr.
By November 4th, I suspect that a lot of people in America are going to be heartily sick of hearing about voter fraud.
Over the past week, the spectre of widespread voter fraud has been relentlessly pursued by various factions, most of them aligned on the Republican side of the bitterly divided 2-horse American political system.
So, do we really need UN Election monitors at the polls? Will this election be decided by shadowy “leftist” groups who manage to nefariously concoct millions of fake ballots nationwide?
In a word, no.
Posted on Friday, November 24th, 2006
I posted this first on flickr, but it’s been far far too long so I thought I’d reproduce it here. There are a few other things I have half-formed posts on. Maybe this week. Maybe…
My earliest memories of America look like this. I must have been 4, and it would be another year before I’d actually visit the US on a holiday in Florida, but I had an overwhelmingly strong image of America that I’d picked up from the television.
Even though it was deeply American to its core, we got a lot of repeated 70′s episodes of Sesame Street on TV in the UK, and one of the features I remember most clearly were the filmed segments about aspects of the “real world” beyond a neighbourhood where the most esteemed resident was a freakishly gigantic talking canary.
I imagine that most of these segments must have been filmed in LA. The difference of it all from the semi-rural English “housing experiment” I grew up in was startling. I dreamed of big, chunky vans and beige garages. And the light (the thing that really made today a “Sesame Street day) – it was startlingly clear, almost painful, but somehow optimistic and beautiful.
My dad was always a big fan of America and all things American, and I think that some of his enthusiasm rubbed off on me. I never imagined though, right up until the moment the offer was presented, that I’d end up living here.
Like any society which is attempting to balance the prejudices, fears, hopes and dreams of millions of people, the US is far from perfect. Too much of the “culture” is based on conspicuous consumption (although the UK suffers from that malaise too); too many people talk of “making their peace with God” whilst failing to make their peace with themselves.
But somehow there’s space here. Space to be what you want to be; just a little more space than I ever found in London. It’s those “Sesame Street” days which really bring that home to me and marry my childhood dreams with my life as it is now. And they make me glad, at least for the time being, to call America (and San Francisco in particular) “home”.
Posted on Saturday, August 26th, 2006
There are lots of little signs that will tell you you’ve really started to settle into a life on the West Coast – regular social outings, the first time you can navigate from Santa Clara to Redwood City without a map, and my favourite – the first “you’re pre-approved for a credit card!” junkmail, which tells you that you’ve finally racked up some form of Credit Rating.
But even after the initial hard work is done and you really feel like you’ve arrived, there are still areas where you’ll find that you need to ever-refine your behaviours and expectations in order to increase your “comfort zone”. Are there five areas worth exploring with this in mind? Youbetcha!
Posted on Saturday, August 26th, 2006
Checking into the airport for your “relocation flight” is a profound moment. When you finally walk through security and wait to board the flight, you’re crossing the threshold. Things are in motion at last – all the planning, the paperwork, the goodbyes and the waiting have paid off. This is where a new life starts.
But that’s just the problem, too – what awaits you at the other end of the journey? There are some definite hurdles to jump. Here are 5 of the biggest ones you’ll face.
Posted on Thursday, July 20th, 2006
I do know a few people who’ve worked diligently and carefully to maneuvre themselves into overseas job positions, but for the majority a relocation offer from your company (or a company which wishes to recruit you) can come as something of a surprise.
There is a lot to think about if you have the opportunity to relocate, and unraveling all the knots can be difficult, particularly if there’s some pressure to provide an answer to the offer.
I’ll admit that it didn’t take me long to accept my own offer verbally, in principle. It was made on a stifling Friday afternoon in a Sunnyvale conference room; I accepted the offer on the following Monday. My reasoning was simple – this was potentially a unique offer. If I moved to California and hated it, I could always move back. If I declined, I was left with a potential lifetime of “what if?”s.
Nevertheless, the process of moving is a complicated one, and it’s worth being prepared for all the steps.
Posted on Thursday, July 20th, 2006
Out of the blue just recently, I got a comment on a rather old article, from someone called Ian
Hey – i found this blog while searching for information on moving to Northern California from the Ukâ€¦
Similar to you, I have been offered the chance to move with work out there, and would love to hear any tips/reccomendations you can give!
There are various nuggets of information buried in articles on this site, but I thought that for Ian’s sake (and given the seeming rise in Valley-bound immigrants blown here by bubble2.0) I’d re-capture some of the advice as concisely as possible.
There are 3 posts I’m going to write on this subject, each covering 5 useful areas that I think every immigrant should know about. This is all (as always) from the point-of-view of an Englishman relocating to Northern California, but I hope that it’s useful for any English-speaker who might be pondering a relocation to the US.
The first two parts are now available. Part III is coming Real Soon Now(TM).
In addition to the points I cover here, I’ll provide one book reference:
“Living and Working in America” by David Hampshire (Survival Books, ISBN 1 901130 61 4)
[On Amazon UK | On Amazon.com ]
I can’t recommend this book highly enough – it answers almost every question you could have, and is a big comfort to have around as a reassuring advisor whilst you’re leaping into the unknown.
Posted on Monday, March 20th, 2006
The first time you strap a snowboard onto your feet and attempt to navigate your way down a hillside, it’s a deeply disconcerting experience. All of a sudden, the rules change, the way you balance and move is extended along completely different planes; and your feet and knees take on brand new roles.
But heading out to the slopes in late January gave me a weird insight which should have been pretty obvious by now, but somehow wasn’t. I wasn’t a confident teenager at all; shy and gawky, I often chose to let the world pass me by, rather than submit to the risks of engaging with it. But something’s changed over the last few years, and I’ve grown to absolutely love throwing myself headlong into anything which comes along – be it music festivals, snowboarding, shark-wrestling (okay, that one’s a theoretical “todo”) or upping sticks and moving to America.
Posted on Friday, January 20th, 2006
California happened to me at the perfect time in my life.
Like many of the best, most defining moments it was a complete accident of circumstance – the right place at the right time. I was lucky, and I’m thankful that I stumbled across an opportunity that I needed.
London will always have a very special place in my heart. It’s where I turned from a confused teenager into an adult. It’s where I first loved and first had my heart broken. It’s where I went truly, deeply mad; and where I healed and put my demons to rest and became whole again. It’s where I learned the true meaning of friendship, and hatred, and forgiveness. It moulded my habits (bad and good) and my attitudes (bad and good).
Posted on Friday, December 16th, 2005
Time flies when you’re turning your entire life on its head.
So here I am, 348 days after I first arrived dazed and jetlagged at SFO, about to head back to London for the first time in nearly a year.
Posted on Sunday, October 23rd, 2005
The wisest words that anyone said to me last year regarding moving to California came not from a close friend, but from Danny O’Brien, someone I can describe as a casual acquaintance at most.
That’s not to denigrate the advice which everyone else gave me – I had tons of useful hints and ideas, particularly from folks like Candace, who lived in the Bay Area for several years. But a single point that Danny made really lodged in my brain, and has probably been the single biggest thought that I’ve returned to since I arrived here in January. It’s advice which any expat, moving anywhere, should probably take to heart.
I ran into Danny completely by chance at a “Hacker Dim Sum” lunch at Yank Sing in San Francisco, in the middle of a two-week trip to the corporate mother-ship in Sunnyvale. The company had made a tentative offer of a job in California just two days earlier, and I was still trying to wrap my head around the idea.