A tale of two government documents

Spoiler alert: I’ve got a new job. Woo hoo! I start on Monday.

When I got my citizenship, they took away my high security Permanent Resident Card (“green card”) and gave me this fancy paper “Certificate of Naturalization”. At the ceremony, they told us that we should apply for passports immediately because the “Certificate of Naturalization” isn’t good for travel, but you had to send in the “Certificate of Naturalization” with the passport application as proof of citizenship and identity. Well, I had to travel to Ottawa for a kayak race the very next day, and so I kept it. And it worked for a couple of trips to Canada. I was expecting to get a new job any day now, so I kept the document so I’d have proof of citizenship when the time came.

Well, it wasn’t “any day now”, but I eventually got a job, and I had to fill out the I-9, which is your proof of eligibility for employment in the US. And that’s when I discovered that the list of documents that you’re allowed to use for proof of citizenship and/or identity doesn’t include the “Certificate of Naturalization”. I even downloaded the M-274, which is the guide for employers for filling out the I-9, hoping to find they just omitted it for brevity on the I-9 itself. No dice. And searching the Citizenship and Immigration Services web site shows that in 2007 they purposely disqualified this document because it wasn’t secure enough. For some strange reason, older citizenship documents, that unlike mine don’t even include photos and look like they were banged out on a crappy typewriter, are still valid. The document also said that you can use your Social Security card as proof of eligibility, but mine dates back from when I was here on a TN-1 temporary non-resident visa, and so it’s stamped on the front “Not Valid For Work Without INS Authorization”, so I figured it was not valid, and so I thought I was screwed.

After worrying about it all night, I had a meeting with the HR person at the company that placed me, and she basically said that the Social Security card would be valid, because the condition on it was no longer in force. So we filled out the I-9 and she thinks everything will be fine. But just in case, I sent off my passport application the very same day so I’ll have that if any questions are raised.

But here’s the thing that I think is really stupid: the Certificate of Naturalization isn’t a valid document for proving your citizenship to work even in conjunction with other documents, but it is valid for proving your citizenship and identity to get a passport, and a passport is a valid document for proving your citizenship and identity to work. Hopefully the reason is that the passport people do some sort of verification or validation that the people who process I-9s do not or cannot. Otherwise it’s just stupid. Coupled with the fact that a fairly fancy document like the Certificate of Naturalization has been disqualified because it’s not secure enough, while primitive documents like the Social Security card and older citizenship cards are still accepted, smacks of “Security Theatre”.

Reading Comprehension 101

After updating my resume on Monster the other day, I got an email today:

We found your resume and are very impressed! We believe you have the qualifications we’re looking for to fill our open insurance agent position.

Somehow I think they stopped reading my resume after they found my email address and postal address (because they did say they were representing the Rochester branch). Other than those two items, I can’t think of a single thing in that resume that would make some think I’d be willing to be an insurance agent. I think I’d rather live under a bridge.

Today in job requirements FAIL

I got a call from a recruiter asking if I had experience with “ETL”. I’d never heard of it, so I truthfully said no, I had no idea what it was, and she went away.

After the call, I looked it up. Evidently it stands for “Extract, Transfer and Load”. Isn’t that what 90% of computer programs do? Isn’t that what the programs I’ve written and maintained for the last god-knows-how-long to extract aviation data from various sources in various formats, transfer it into my own format (combining data from several different places into one semi-coherent whole, throwing away the data that doesn’t interest me), and load it into my database for future use does? Or when I took data from Island and RediQuote and massaged it so that it looked like what SunGard’s trading system was expecting so that SunGard UMA users could trade stocks on them? Or when I converted data from the SMPTE ShowPlayList schema and stored it into our database so we could schedule movies and disassemble and re-assemble our own concept of what a show schedule was?

So yeah, I think I understand the concepts behind “ETL”. But because I was honest to a recruiter, I’ll probably never get a job doing it when it’s called that. The problem with the whole job market is that it’s full of cases like that, where recruiters and HR departments have a checklist and are just looking for people with the right keywords on their resume. That’s why I hope that careers.stackoverflow.com and jobs.stackoverflow.com catch on with Rochester companies, or companies who understand that off-site doesn’t necessarily mean the sort of idiots you see on Rentacoder who think they can solve the Halting Problem for $500.

My situation in a nutshell


“Higher-wage people are likely being laid off to a greater degree than lower-wage people, or moderately high-wage workers are being replaced by temps or contractors who are paid less,” says Wial.

The picture is even worse in upstate New York, where average wages fell 2.3% in Rochester and 2.2% in Syracuse.

Shit, I’m never going to get a job that pays what I’m worth, am I?

So cold

It’s freezing here at work. I’m not sure if it’s everywhere or just at my desk – there is a bit of a cold breeze here. My feet have been freezing since I got here and my fingers are clumsy. I actually warmed up a bit when I went to Wegmans for lunch. People are looking at me funny because I’m wearing a toque, but at least my fingers are working again. Still no joy with my feet though. I wonder what they’d think if I put on my moon boots?