Sunday, March 22, 2009

More than a year ago, my visa application was submitted to consideration; so I can be able to live, grow and work in Australia, the Thursday morning I receive a call from my case manager saying:

“Hi Rod… are you there? I am calling you because there has been some update in your case… Pretty good news, your visa has been granted!”

This video is the more accurate description of how do you feel the following minute and seconds after receiving the grant letter. Or at least, it was for me.

Ode to Joy...

Putting words to those wacky images… Didn’t know how to feel, finally the closure of this stage of the process has come, I can move on now, prepare the upcoming changes, send our stuff to Sydney, arrange the wire transfers… But at the same time, couldn’t avoid a pain in the chest; give a thought or two on your family, how to tell’em?

My first reaction was to stay put, call my wife, talk to co-workers and continue with my duties (even though I was so out of focus)... being unstable between long times unexpressed happiness / joy, euphoria, and sadness... All at once; just as Will Smith in “Pursuit of happiness” ending scene.

Even though I tried to call my mom for the last two days, and talk to her about it... Couldn’t communicate with her (thanks god, didn’t had the courage to tell her I am leaving any time soon) but today... after the standard “hi, how are you? How’s everything?” and a short period of time (5 long seconds of silence) the words came out of my mouth
Me: “Mom, I have the Australian visa...”

As reflect she said “Oh my god, good for you...” (Shocked tone of voice) “When are you leaving?”

Me: “Dunno mah, June, July... whenever fare is cheapest”.

Nothing else came out from us, said goodbye and hang the phone out.

What’s next?

- Digest a bit.
- Finish up a couple of things in home.
- Pack everything up.
- Send over some boxes.
- Read 15 booklets, sent with the grant letter.
- Enjoy my family for the time being.
- Prepare future posts...
- Finish off activities with my customers.

Thanks for reading, till next time.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A year ago I wrote a post saying how cool the DIAC web site was providing a tool enabling any aspirant / applicant to check their case requirements and some additional information... The truth is (and I started notice this fault later on) almost 6 months later my case didn’t had any update; even when I sent every requirement requested on the web page months ago, the case didn’t had an update and I was worried because I didn't wanted to fail to complain any docs.

Took me an email (I know, an email haven’t killed anyone, but...) to get information related to my medicals. So I started to wonder... Doesn’t the DIAC know how to link up different data sources? Why does my information needs to be in the case officer hands to get some update? Why haven’t they thought in a tracing workflow of some documents giving even more information to the case and reducing dramatically silly inquiries?

As computer scientist and program manager I know these things are quite possible and easy to implement and even though, DIAC doesn’t have it one year later (or more) from the tool's release date; somehow disappointing. From my point of view, someone at development team said “lets create a web page so people can check their statuses regarding to their stuff... but how the information will be filled in with different departments data (as the Health Operation Centre) or institutions isn’t really our biz... They will find another way to deal with it!”; creating a very limited tool (maybe that's the intention).

Hopefully someone from the Department of Immigration And Citizenship will read this post and do something about it (please do not deny my visa application because of this constructive critic =P... Seriously, don’t) creating a better experience for those waiting to have any request from our case officers or just to determine if our requirements are fulfilled. Please don’t get me wrong, is a great thing to have at least a small piece of information from our cases, but it might work much more for DIAC as well to determine what’s left without having the officer scanning and searching the folder for pieces of paper or notes.

Those applicants looking for more information... The Query Application Status could be very tricky and out of date at times unless you have a case officer already working on your case or you being very annoying.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Well, the last couple of weeks I have been terribly busy with bunch of stuff to fix, paint and solve...

Why?... What? Didn’t I tell you? I had to move to an apartment in the Caracas CBD (which isn’t that glamorous as the Sydney CBD by the way...) meanwhile my family moved to a town called “Sabaneta del Hatillo”, a satellite town of Caracas.

The thing is, I didn’t pictured moving elsewhere but Australia. The truth is, I had to move here... At first (I must onfess) did not like the idea of moving to a dangerous place as the CBD, but didn’t had a choice because my parents house will be too far from my office and I really had to start going by my own (when is related to self hosted or living alone with my wife).

So, how is everything? A lot better than expected... With several painting layers and tons of work started to be our home; not too big, not too shabby but ours.

Funny thing, the packing and unpacking had pretty good consequences, lots of garbage were throw, useful clothes gave away and some research about how to save space (which you might read, link is above), but even with all those preparations we didn’t even give a thought on... “What will we need for the apartment?”

The Sundays night (March 1st, our first night in the apartment) we didn’t had enough to have a decent dinner... Thankfully a couple of sandwiches were the solution and during the entire week fill up our food stocks. But Murphy’s Law is always working... with the apartment done (or almost done) we got a letter from DIAC saying “a case officer was assigned to your application... you are requested to sign and send over the form 1281 before March 31, 2009”. Amazed and confused, didn’t give the proper credit to my eyes and read again... and again... and again. “Woohoo! We have a case officer!!!” said jumping, and with the same impulse took the cell phone called my wife, as soon as her voice said “Alo?” my mouth said “we have CO!!! We have CO!!!”. My co-workers should have been thinking “this dude gone crazy or what? What’s all that fuzz?” but the matter of fact is, the closure of my visa application and a final answer is getting closer, a sweet feeling after 15 months when my application got to DIAC.

Hopefully, if you are applying too and if your process took some how this amount of time you will probably understand how do I feel at the moment.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Saving up space

The last couple of days, my family started moving out to what is going to become our house. My wife and I will be moving somewhere else (to an apartment which will be closer to my work), 
so packing up became our most frequent activity during nights and weekends; to be honest I didn’t think moving was so exhausting till now. Anyway, packing up things made me realise how much space I was wasting when clothes are being put in boxes or even in bags; there is so much space filled with unneeded empty space which I could be using in a better way.
Looking on the Internet and chatting with mates some information popped: “vacuum storage bags”, How didn’t I think about it before? So we got some of them from the local hardware store or market to try it on.

We bought the Space Bag’s vacuum storage bags pack (3 pack bags: one 68x98cm and two 60x80cm) to try it on; if the results were ok we will come back to bough a bunch more to send clothes to Australia via the post office. As we haven’t watched these bags ever, we also bought a Ziploc’s 10 bags pack in order to make some comparison between both designs and behaviours.

The obvious thing to notice when we unpacked the Space Bag’s products was the leak proof valve at a side of the bag, where it is supposed to be attached the vacuum cleaner. Its internal design consists on fins (at the valve’s base) preventing clothes fabric to stick the duct’s air input and a piece of flexible plastic which generates the valve void effect by avoiding the air to go back once is pumped out.

How was the trial with the vacuum storage bags?

We just took a bunch of clothes out of our closet, a furry coat, odd five t-shirts and a couple of jeans, put it in the Space Bag and then couple the air pump to suck the air out (our vacuum cleaner don’t have much power) and started pumping. It was amazing how things works so great, compressing everything till you get a pretty hard compressed fabric in the bag. Feels like a giant piece of plasticine (modelling clay) which in fact, if you punch it a

 couple of times you can work out a series of irregularities getting a pretty flat and slick surface, ready to be arranged into any suitcase, box or anything else.

What then?

We wanted to try out the Ziploc bags as well, so looked around for some tubing it could be fit in the bag’s closure, small enough for just the tubing. The process was sort of the same; I just started pumping out the air meanwhile my wife tried to take out the tubing from the bag as the compression created some void inside the bag. The result was pretty much the same as the vacuum storage bags except it was required two for this just and there is no Ziploc bag big enough for my jeans and jackets.


This kind of storage saves up space in any suitcase, bag or box where you want to put your clothe, is not a joke. Terrific for packing and moving out... And even to store the clothes for long time (being leak proof prevents water or dirt making contact with your clothes and the plastic material, even those Ziplocs, are resistant enough; plus if the bag get a hole you will know because everything expands in a minute or two).

The bags packaging said “Ideal for holiday luggage” which I really don’t find it feasible unless you have a pretty small / compatible vacuum cleaner. As my mom told me: “Once I get to my destination and unpack everything... how do I get things back to the compressed state? Do I need to travel with the air pump or vacuum cleaner as well?” where she got a pretty solid point; I was picturing my mom with bad ass temper carrying a nit small suitcase and our huge vacuum cleaner on her next trip. Isn’t a big deal nor remarkable, just something to be careful.

PS: Sorry Raul, I should post this sooner :(