Sunday, May 29, 2011

An uneventful week?

20 miles for the week. It was very hectic with classes getting over, travel, work, and life. The end is almost there. A couple of days from a four month summer break for school!!

Wed - 6
Missed runs on Mon (a celebratory meet up with my MBA group for the year - perhaps our last meet-up as a group :( ) and Tue (Capitol Club with ...)...

Moment of the day - The last class of the year - Marketing. Our Prof. makes people who come in late to class, sing. In the middle of class a guy comes in late. In an orchestrated move all of us go "Song Song". He starts singing but then presents 2 Tiffany's boxes to the Prof. She opens them. One has a small Boeing plane and other Dinosaur Eggs. The Tiffany's box, the dinosaur eggs and Boeing represents 3 memorable HBS class cases. Our Prof is so moved that she starts crying in front of 110 odd MBA students. One of my most moving moments as a student. So happy for her :) She really went out of her way to make this class amazing and is a really nice person!

Thurs - 6
Stopped a few times during the run and stared at the water lost in my thoughts...

Sight of the day - twilight

Fri - REST
Missed my run today too. Just no time to run. Off on a surprise trip to NYC for memorial day weekend. It's be a nice surprise for my niece, nephew and sister bright and early on Sat morning. My bil is in on the secret :)

Moment of the day: I stopped at the airport convenience store to pick up some trail mix for the flight. The casher was a hispanic lady. She shocked me with a perfect pronouncement of "Bhattacharya". I was even more surprised when she asked me - "From West Bengal?". With a beaming smile she responded - "My son in law is also a Bhattacharya!" She asked me for my name. Me - "Subhasish". She told me his name was - "Uttoron". How proud and fond she was of her son-in-law!!

Sat - REST
No time to run. I have 2 take home final exams to finish :(

Sight of the day: I opened my eyes and looked out of the plane window to see a majestic NY sunrise... The words of a hymn we used to sing in school as a kid came to my mind - "Morning has broken like the first morning, Blackbird has spoken like the first bird..."

Sun - 8
I was glad to finally get a chance to run. I had handed in one of my take home exams so I could head out for a run. It was my hottest run of the year thus far. It was 76F in Valhalla when I started off. I could feel the heat on the soles of my shoes. I held up OK :)

Sight of the day: Central park is one of my most fav places on this planet... I was wandering aimlessly with a friend there today when we came to a spot where neither of us had been before! A tunnel which was decorated as a chapel... From inside emanated magical sounds of three people singing. Surreal!

Sight of the day 2: I was running as dusk approached. I came across a creature which looked like a tortoise, crossing the path. We stared at each other... Finally, I took a pic of it and continued running :)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

On the go - Atlanta & St. Helens

This was a week of contrasts running wise. The ugliness of Atlanta and the amazing beauty in the viscinity of Mt. St Helens/Rainier national park.

I got to attend my first customer conference in Atlanta. For the first time in my life I had a dress code for work. Microsoft shirts, black trousers and dress shoes :) What people say about business trips is true - you are fed and kept in an awesome place (a suite in a historic hotel) but you have to work hard :p The first day I was so tired that I came back and crashed...

So far I am enjoying the focus that comes with coming early to work and the reason to dress well... It's funny that someone in my MBA class remarked - "You must have started the new job"... A puzzled me - "Why?". Him - "You look quite different all dressed up".

34 miles for the week.

Tue - 6
I have to say I am truely thankful I don't live in an ugly city like Atlanta :) I guess I probably don't know the best place to run here but there were quite a few runners on the route I was running on. So ... It was my slowest run since the marathon...

Thur - No run
Didn't get to run except a run for my life to catch my plane back to Seattle. I made it 3 minutes before the plane shut it's doors.

Sight of the day: Seattle looked spectacular as my plane descended to land on a beautiful clear night...

Fri - 6
I'm so glad to be back in beautiful Seattle! The mountains and the water :) A visit to a city like Atlanta can remind you how lucky you are to be living in such a beautiful place. A nice run at 10am on a splendid day...

Sight of the day: A little kiddo building sand castles by the shore...

 Sat - 10
We were to head out at 9:30am so I woke up early and snuck in my run... So many beautiful sights that I'd have missed out on anything but foot.

Sights of the day: I spotted a few ducklings roaming about... The splendor of Mt. St Helens...

Sun - 12.25
I woke up early again (5:30am) and ran towards the Ranier National Park entrance. What can I say but I was just thankful to be able to experience such beauty :)

 Sight of the day: As I was running I saw a few elks chomping away. They saw me, stopped eating and stared at me :)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Renewal

Renewal of running... Renewal of career

My first week at the new job. So far so good. It seems like a much better group. Nice people. Nice manager. Friendly people. Work I might enjoy more. A nice big window office with a good view. A 24 inch monitor. A tablet notebook. In building 34 (the one with the execs - Steve Balmer and where BillG used to be when he was around). Volleyball in the MS fields on Fri.

A Cofession: I have to get this out of my system but if I tell this to any of my friends they will mock me. I feel like I can write anything on this blog since it's kind of anonomyous. So here goes. I can't get the song Friday (by Rebecca Black) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CD2LRROpph0 out of my head :p :p Going by the 142 million views it has, I think a lot of other people like it too but are just too coy to admit it.

38.5 miles  of running for the week. Not too bad.

Tue - 6 w/2 tempo
My first run after taking 6 days off. It was an awesome day and an awesome run. I had forgotten to get my Garmin. That turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I could run "naked". I signed up for 2 races today:

1) The Houston marathon 2012: I qualified for early entry. For the rest it's a lottery. This event will host the men's and women's Olympic marathon qualifier. That should be fun to watch!
2) The Fremont 5k: This will be my first 5k in over 7 years. My last 5k was on June 6th 2004 :) There was a half-price entry just for today so I signed up. It's a Friday evening race. Ideal to head out partying with the Chuckit folks after the run :)

Wed - 6
Chilly and windy. Quite a contrast

Sight of the day: The water glowing from the light of the crescent moon amidst the calm and quiet of the night.

Thurs - 6 w/4 @ tempo
Tempo miles: 6:44, 6:33, 6:41, 6:38
It's amazing how relaxing I find these runs. After the tempo miles I spend sometime gazing at the space needle with sculpture park in front of it. I'm so luck to get to run by the waterfront everyday. I will really miss when I finally have to move from downtown...

Sight of the day: A huge cruise ship was docked on Pier 66... I found myself mesmerized by the lights and grandeur.

Fri - 6
Strong run at an average pace of 7:19 min/mile, last 2 miles at 6:54 and 6:39.

Sight of the day: As I walked to work on a beautiful sunny day, I noticed the wind blowing the cherry blossoms onto the grass. I stopped and watched for a minute or two :)

Event of the day: The dueling pianoists in the Piano Bar running through so many of my favs...
Sat - 6

Wasn't as comfortable a run. Come to think of it, it was less than a day after yesterday's run and it was sunny + 60F (warmer than I usually run in).

Sun - 8.5  (8k - Beat the Bridge)

It was pouring at the Beat the Bridge 8k... Was not a fun experience nor was it enjoyable.

Event of the day: At the bus stop on my way back I ran into a guy from Australia. In the midst of chatting with him I found that he was a HR recruiter at a law firm at Seattle. He told me about how there was a desperate need for software patent lawyers with an engineering background... That sounded like something that would have been perfect for me - a niche! So I spent sometime researching what it would take for me to get a JD and realized that it would have been a perfect career choice 4 years back. At this point I didn't want to make the sacrifices that it would require to succeed. Oh well :)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The card that is Green...

The US immigration system is antiquated and complex. The current system was designed for the 1970s. Any attempt to introduce reforms in the system has been stymied by legal and illegal immigration being clumped together. The illegals have the voter base and therefore they cannot be ignored by the lawmakers. However, the illegal debate is complex and won't be solved easily.

My struggle with this system began in 1996. My application for a student visa was rejected. After being rejected once we decided to apply again after all there was no reason for my application to be rejected. What I won't forget is how hard my dad worked to put together all the documents required to support my visa application for the second attempt. When my application was rejected a second time around I felt more bad for him than myself. He really wanted me to get a chance to study Engineering in the US. He always wanted me to have the best education he could possibly provide.

This rejection turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I got admission at McGill University which has one of the best Computer Engineering programs in the world...

After I graduated the US was more than willing to give me a work visa... The H1B visa. This was the beginning of the long struggle in the Green Card aka permanent residence process.

2001 was the start of the tech burst so my company started one of several rounds of layoff. When a company layoffs employees it is not allowed to apply for any Green cards for employees. This limbo continued till 2004 before they filed my application. The first step was the labor certification. This had a huge backlog. In 2005 the USCIS introduced a new process for the labor certification called the PERM which was supposed to be faster. However, they moved all the applications filed under the old system to "Backlog Processing Centers". There these applications lay in limbo.

If I changed my company my application would have to start from the scratch so I waited patiently while my old company underpaid me. Finally, in 2006 I got fed up and accepted an offer from Microsoft. My Green Card process had to start from scratch. I made sure that I negotiated that they work on my application immediately and in the EB2 category. My previous application had been filed in the EB3 category since I had not yet completed my Masters. This proved to be a crucial difference...

My labor certification and I-140 (step 2 of the 3 step process) went through in 4 months but then I got stuck in step 3. This was because of an antiquated rule that allowed only 7% of an already limited employee visa quota to be allocated to people born in any country. Indians and Chinese obviously had a huge number of applicants.

In July 2007, the USCIS made all visa numbers current (this is required to be able to file the 3rd step). Everyone rushed to get in their 3rd step i.e. I-485 applications ready to file. Just before the filing window opened the USCIS revoked their earlier bulletin. This lead to mass protests from a typically silent and peaceful community. WTF? How could they waste our time and treat us like this? The had to relent and allow us to file the I-485. The filing of the I-485 is crucial because it allows you to get 2 documents known as an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) and Advanced Parole. These 2 using the portability act preserves your place in the Green Card queue and lets you change jobs 6 months after your I-485 is pending...

During this period, I had to keep on renewing my H1B visas. Each time having to get a new stamp in a US consulate in Canada. The joke was that by the end of it I had almost visited all the US consulates in Canada... Of course there was never any problem getting this stamp since I worked for a company like Microsoft but it still was a time consuming process...

Paperwork... That's one thing everyone going through the process accumulated. Mountains and mountains of them. Documents.

Having gone through so much I pretty much became an expert on US immigration law. I knew every single law and act. When any of my friends needed advise the first person they'd call would be me :)

In contrast, in 2007 I applied for the Canadian Permanent residence. They fast-tracked my application and gave me the card in months... Yet, how could I leave the US :) Each time I'd cross into Canada the border officials would ask me when I planned to move to their country. I'd tell them in a few weeks... One country was welcoming me and another country required me to deal with these ancient laws.

Luckily, there was a provision that allowed the 7% rule to be bypassed if the employee green card numbers were not used up by the end of the year. With the 2008 real estate bubble, this allowed the Indian Green Card application queue to advance...

Fast forward to today, almost after 10 years (I came to the US on June 2nd 2001) my Green Card application was finally approved. This has been such a long long process that all I can say is that I am very very tired - I'm neither happy nor am I sad.

I will look forward to not having to hang onto these mountains of paper. I will miss the Canadian border officers asking me when I plan to move to their country. Canada has been good to me - it's been there for me when I needed it. I will continue to visit thee - O Canada!

I can't imagine how different my life would have been if I didn't have to deal with the restrictions that this process brought about. I would have probably joined a start up,.. explored a lot of different opportunities. Maybe gone back to school full-time. Oh Well... :) It's all good!

People ask me if it was worth spending so much time in my life on this in the US. After all Canada, UK, NZ, Australia and most other countries are welcoming folks like us with expedited processes for the PR. India today has so many opportunities. Would I have gone through this if knew this is what the wait would be...

My answer is a resounding YES! The US is still the land of opportunities. The land where you can dream... The land with the best schools... MIT, Harvard, Wharton,... The land of a fair tax rate... If you deserve it you have endless options here... Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Apple, Goldman Sachs, McKinsey, ... The land of boundless beauty and natural parks... The land of diversity...

If it didn't mean anything then people would not be here struggling for the card that is Green!

Sunday, May 08, 2011

A new start

Friday was my last day on my current team. A team I had worked in for 3 years. I am excited to begin a new role on Monday but it is also intimidating to be out of my comfort zone. I'm going to be transitioning from a Developer role (something I've done all my life) to a Program Manager role. A developer spends most of the time behind a computer. As program manager I will have to interact with people... meetings, customers, execs... It's not my default personality type so there lies the challange
- * -

W.r.t running, I think I overdid my long run last Saturday. I need to run these things much slower. I need to get back to Chuckit Sats and I think that will slove the problem. I used to be so good at pacing my long run right :) All in all, not much running this week ... Decided to start afresh next week...

Tue - 5.6
I think this is becoming - "lets be a wuss week". I stopped running after 5/8 laps of today's 2 mile time trial. Why? Because I did not feel like it ??? What the $#$#? Oh well...

Learning of the day: You can buy a license for a pet. The Seattle animal shelter mailed me the form to do so. It's just that I don't have a pet. Heck, I stuggle to take care of myself, leave alone a pet :p

Wed - 8
A little slower than usual...

Sight of the day: Someone had tied a hammock between two trees by the waterfront and was enjoying some zzzs. I though that was pretty cool.

Fri - REST
Felt very antsy and in general had very little sleep

Sat - REST
Got 12 hours of sleep and tried to mentally prepared for the new job...

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Gliding along...

All my runs since the marathon have been at sub-8 pace, averaging in the mid-7s. I wonder if I am running them too fast or it's just that my easy run pace has become faster. Time will tell I guess. 51 miles for the week.

Mon - 6
Solid run after classes... Thankfully, it had stopped raining in the evening.

Random things: a) My new office (I have 2 more weeks there) is on the 19th floor. I realized that if I walk up and down the stairs twice a day I get a neat workout...
b) If I get out of class on time I have about 5 minutes to catch a bus. I can do this if I run all out from my classroom to the bus stop. Else I have to wait half an hour for the next bus. This gets the blood flowing after a long day :)

Sight of the day: I ran into a couple having sex in their car. They must have thought they picked the perfect quiet spot - a moonless night in an isolated parking lot by the waterfront... only to find a nut running in the middle of the night :p The things I get to see while running :-|

Tue - 8.4 w/ 8*400m, 1 mile @ MP
I ran for exactly an hour. It was an amazing day for running. Chuck asked me how I was feeling. I said - "Very Good". So he told me to run with the folks getting in their last workout before Eugene on Sunday. Of course they were all tapered up and full of energy. I wasn't feeling too bad myself :)

I entered the overseas ballot for the London marathon. I also noticed that my 3:09 would have qualified me for an automatic entry if I were a UK resident... A UK address ... Hmmmm....

Wed - 6
Chilly and windy... Thankfully, it stopped raining - it was pouring in the afternoon! Got back home after midnight.

Thurs - REST
Decided that a rest day was prudent :p

A day of sin - 6 pieces of amazing chicken pizza (lunch + free @ work), 1 mango smoothie (snack + free @ work), 1 strawberry smoothie (snack + free @ work) + Fried Stuff (dinner + happy hour) + an IPA ... :-(( :-))

Fri - 6
There was still light when I started running at 8:30pm... Finished just as it started raining. Solid run!

Observation of the day: I sure am kind of glad today is the royal wedding. It's done with and over. The media can now move onto talking about more important things like Charlie Sheen :p

Sat - 16
Decided to run for 2 hours without worrying about pace or distance... Just enjoying the beautiful sunny day by the waterfront. Ended up running for 2:01 to round off at 16 miles.

Good running deed of the day: I stopped to help out a tourist runner map out his run for tomorrow. Later I though it was funny that I used the words "just 10 miles" together :)

Sun - 8
Ran for exactly an hour, picking it up for the last couple of miles.

The folks I do my track workouts with had great races at Eugene today... Credit will have to goto Chuck for everyone getting to their goals.

Observation of the day: Tourists notice things we locals don't. I saw a couple of tourists taking a picture of what appeared to be a stone by the waterfront. I wondered why... Looking carefully I saw that there was a pretty neat black painting on the stone.  I've run by the waterfront zillions of times but it has never registered.

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