27 March 2010

That Twisted, Twisted Fate, Part II

A key point of "That Twisted, Twisted Fate" was that the world had managed to turn upside down in the last generation.  This trend continues as witnessed by my latest visit to the California, aka the Golden State.
 Ominous Image From a US Government Web Page
For reasons that are worth exploring at another time, I must prove to Russian immigration authorities that I have the education that I claim to.  Russian officials require the equivalent of "cross your heart and hope to die," except that they really mean it.  Verifying my education to Russian officials has meant:
  1. Finding my diploma in California
  2. Resending it back to my university so that they can notarize it to certify its authenticity
  3. Getting it back from my university
  4. Driving it up to Sacramento, California's state capitol, to get an official state apostille to further prove veracity
  5. Sending it to Russian officials with the hope that it does not get lost in the process, because steps 1 through 4 are fairly difficult when one lives 10,000 kilometers away from northern California.
Just by way of comparison, in the US, education verification is done electronically these days. The process is simple, secure, and instantaneous. As it is apparent from the steps above, the process is somewhat more complicated in Russia.

The trouble started from step 1. Because I had not needed to display the physical degree to anyone in the US, I had lost it. Getting past step 1 meant requesting a duplicate from my school, so that I could resend the diploma back to the school for notarization. After some back and forth, I got my hands on the duplicate degree and resent it to my school. On to step 3.

As the nature of my request is unusual in the US, a phone call and two follow up emails were required to ensure progress. In anticipation of getting my degree back by FedEx, I made a trip back to California to drive my verified degree to Sacramento for double verification.

I got to California and did not find a FedEx package as I had hoped. I emailed my school to figure out what had gone wrong. Here is the automatic response that I received:
Subject: Furlough
To: amir
The Office of the Registrar is closed from Monday, March 22 through Friday, March 26th. We will open again on Monday, March 29th
The great State of California, whose economy is larger than Canada's, has run out of money. To cut cost where possible, the state is furloughing, or temporarily dis-employing, its "non essential workers" where possible. California is a beacon for the US. Whatever happens in this state tends to happen elsewhere in the Union within a relatively short period. And the Golden State is in the state of being out of gold.

To underscore how much times have changed, I had breakfast with a former colleague who was a high flier at a well known and respectable tech vanguard in the Valley. He left the company to join a startup. As my friend explained, the startup did not do well and was acquired for less than $5 million by the same tech vanguard. His concluding remarks where:
The employees did pretty well.  They all have jobs now.
OMG!   There use to be a time that anyone who could fog a mirror got a job in the Valley; sometimes, they even became millionaires.  In the meantime, Russia has had to cut interest rates for the twelfth time in a year to contain the hot Ruble.  Russia is the only major economy to have this "problem."

The world is upside down now. So goes that twisted, twisted fate.

1 comment:

  1. I have input from three sources: one a right-wing friend; second a left-wing friend; third my own calculations; that say basically the same thing - the US is running out of options. For example,the unfunded liability for Medicare alone is 5 trillion dollars. The taxpayers will never bear up under the burden. I could go on, but the US has clearly passed one tipping point, namely that some painful changes will be required to keep us from being in worse shape than Calif is now in.