Oh right, now I remember the other thing I learned yesterday. It was that some people think that just because they have a certain rank, they are more important than a person with a lesser rank … and indeed they are equivalent to anybody with the same rank. Just yesterday, I heard a directory say of an associate director “she’s not that important, she’s just an AD.” Never mind that the D was on the IT support side, managing a small group of personnel, and the AD was on the business control side. But, this sort of thing is said of the actual profit makers all the time, with a D pissing on an AD, even if that AD is making the money that supports the D’s existence. The problem, as I see it, is that rank is really only useful for setting vacation allowances and benefits, and really has little bearing on worth or actual rank. Maybe I just don’t get it.
In any event, as Sarah has mentioned, I’m going to take an unpaid leave from work (either with their blessing or by quitting my job) and follow her to France, for 6 months, right after we head to Mexico in March. The goal is to sort a lot of things out in my life with the intent of finding myself and figuring out what I want to do when I grow up. My official job will be housekeeping, but my goal is to spend a lot of the time lost in thought, with the rest of the time devoted to exploring, reading, writing, taking pictures, working on open source software to keep fresh, and the like. Since we’ll be in Europe, I imagine Sarah and I will take several weekend trips to explore, which will be a fantastic opportunity.
The biggest obstacle is the language barrier, being that I know no French whatsoever.
Well, no. The biggest obstacle is the visa. I need a visa to visit France for more than 90 days (for which a Shengen Visa is sufficient), and typical processing time is at least two months. It requires numerous forms and documents, including (but not limited to):
- Five passport photos
- A document of intent, stating the purpose of the visit, and what I intend to do with my time
- Several proofs of wealth and income, including bank statements, investment account statements, pay stubs
- Copies of all of the normal proofs of citizenship and travel-ability
- A document proving that I am not a criminal
- A visa application (only available in French)
- A document of motivation, stating that there will be no attempt to secure employment
- A document from my employer, stating that I have taken leave of work
- A proof of insurance that will cover medical expenses in France.
- A proof of lodging in France.
- A visa application annex
I should mention it wants everything in quadruplicate, and each item must be accompanied by a French translation. This is going to be interesting.
Compared to that, learning French should be easy! Ok, maybe not, being I have no experience with romantic languages. I looked into Berlitz, but at $2700 (I couldn’t do the group packages, as I wouldn’t learn enough and it would require to buy a block of a set number of lessons, and the block is large enough that I couldn’t take advantage of all of it before I left), that’s not going to happen. Luckily somebody at Berlitz let slip that they also use Rosetta Stone as an extensive teaching tool. I’m dubious as to learning a language from software, but at $300 for the supposed equivalent of five years in French class in high school/college, I’ll try anything once.
In any event, between that, photography, and open source development, my desktop wasn’t going to work, so I’ve purchased my first outright new computer in … well, about a decade. It’s a mac. While I argued at the beginning of our relationship and won the battle for Sarah to leave the mac platform, my wife (with a little help from my friends) won the war, and has converted me to the ideology/religion/cult from those Cupertino hippies. I’ll be taking a delivery of a PowerBook 15" in about a week if Apple isn’t teasing to me. They’ve sent the other stuff I ordered, including my Applecare warranty (I learned long ago that for me, at least, warranties tend to pay for themselves for mobile hardware, and are especially useful for situations in which I don’t have the skill/ability to fix the pieces … such as an LCD back light) and world travel kit, which is just going to increase the anticipation. Oh well.