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My name is Steve - my handle of Grioghair comes from an old Gaelic family name which is connected to the MacGregor line. It is direct lineage. My actual family name was an alias, used for protection. The family name MacGregor sprang from the Pictish name Grig. The Picts traced their lineage through the female, as opposed to the Scots who traced theirs through the male.

This journal is about me and my life - and everything that that encompasses...which is fairly broad.
Current Month
Feb. 1st, 2007 @ 08:33 pm DRM...poof
The proposed immigration fees announced yesterday are accurate. Unless it changes, I am looking at $675. The USCIS seems to be heading more towards online-only applications. The immigration forums that I used to frequent are ranting about it as I type this. Some people are saying that American citizenship is worth its weight in gold, and that they would be prepared to pay $10,000 if it was necessary. Personally, I had my doubts about these rumours to begin with, but they turned out to be true. A lot of people will not be able to afford these fees, and that is probably the motivation behind the hike. My thoughts? It will cause more illegal immigration. With almost $500 up front for a work permit, it is going to change a lot of things. But then that was the reason for these draconian changes in the first place.

However, I did discover tonight that I am still eligible to vote in UK Parliamentary/European Parliamentary elections. So, when I make the move to citizenship I am keeping my UK citizenship, too. That is definite now. Carved in stone.

DRM has now been resigned to history. Vista, Blu Ray and HD - all gone. The game of eternal cat and mouse continues unabated.
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Jan. 31st, 2007 @ 06:40 pm Federal Register...
Tomorrow, in the Federal Register, the fee increase changes are being officially announced. We are talking about an increase from $330/$70 - for applying and fingerprinting - to $595/$80. That is if these changes go through. I fully expect Congress to question these charges. It is the green card applicants that I feel sorry for. Work permits are going from $195 right up to $475. Green card applications are going from $325 up to $905. All in the endeavour of making the immigration/citizenship process much smoother. There is no doubt that this is a lock-out procedure.

I faired much better then everyone else with these rises - mine is actually under one hundred percent. These changes will be implemented in mid-June, and will probably go ahead as planned. It's a shame. There are definitely criminals in high places in this country. It doesn't deter me, though. I will just have to work longer hours and get the money together. I am probably looking at $675 - it is currently standing at $400 - to get this all processed. By the end of March we will all know if it has been successfully challenged or not. I'm betting that these changes will be carved in stone, though.

- - - - -

I left for work this morning. The temperature was 4.9 degrees. In other words, damn cold! I wish it was spring. I have always dreamed that that is the season I would like to die in - not the next one, of course. My bike has been standing for a few weeks. I won't ride it in these near arctic conditions. I turned the engine over tonight. It took a while, but I got it going in the end. On Sunday it is supposed to reach 0. That is the night of the Colts game - indoors, of course.

I am feeling bloody terrible these days. I am getting head rushes all day long, and my blood pressure is on the rise. It reached 149/80 the other day. Today is was 142/75. That, if I am not mistaken, is bordering on hypertension levels. I am monitoring it. I feel a little rundown at the moment, but I am resting more.

There has not been much talk about Vista. Wasn't this the wonderful new OS that we were promised? I have not witnessed many ripples in the pool over this. There seems to be too much security, too many author permissions, and too much DRM. In other words, too much bollocks. It might be worthwhile looking into Linux again. Maybe I will get back into Linux again. In the meantime, I will keep a close eye on Vista. Their new desktop background - Windows Dreamscene - enables the use of videos as a background. A step forward from gifs and jpgs.
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Jan. 31st, 2007 @ 06:22 pm Damn them bastards...
Current Music: Cream - Born Under a Bad Sign
U.S. Proposes Rise in Immigration Fees

Wednesday January 31, 2007 8:46 PM


Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Bush Administration is proposing to nearly double the cost of becoming a U.S. citizen and drastically raise the cost of becoming a legal permanent resident.

Citizenship and Immigration Services, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, announced Wednesday it wants to raise the application fee for citizenship from $330 to $595 and the fee for becoming a legal permanent resident from $325 to $905. But the agency plans to eliminate other costs those legal residency applicants often pay while they are waiting for their permanent residency to be final.

Emilio Gonzalez, Citizenship and Immigration Services director, said more than 99 percent of the agency's costs are paid for with application fees. The increases are needed to make up for lost revenue and to help the agency become "the immigration service of the 21st century," he said.

"We need to grow. We need to strengthen. We need to modernize. We need to provide the very best possible customer service. We need to provide the very best possible security infrastructure for what we do," Gonzalez said.

The agency said the new fees would reduce average application processing times by 20 percent by the end of September 2009.

The agency said it would raise $2 billion over those two years from the fee increases. The money is to be spent on improving immigration offices, technology, hiring and training; background checks of immigrants and speeding up completing applications.

Applicants now pay a $70 fingerprinting fee. The agency wants to increase that to $80. Fees also are paid for work permits, replacing lost green cards and petitions to adopt orphans from other countries and other benefits.

The largest increases are a jump from $475 to $2,850 for entrepreneurs who want to immigrate to the country and plan to invest in businesses and create jobs, and an increase from $180 to $1,370 for people still applying to be legal residents under the 1986 immigration law that granted amnesty.

Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., chairman of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on immigration, border security and citizenship, criticized the hefty fee hikes, saying they would "price the American Dream out of reach for qualified immigrants" seeking to become citizens.

"We must look to other solutions for funding the necessary work of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services," Kennedy said. "We are a nation of immigrants and Congress should recognize its responsibility to support the vital work of immigration services by appropriating the necessary funds."

The proposed increases would not be final until after a public comment and review period. They will likely go into effect in mid-June, Gonzalez said.

Congressional Democrats last week warned in a letter to Gonzalez that they planned to review the agency's analyses behind any proposed immigration fee increases.

But Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said it was "right for the people who benefit to pay the cost of that benefit - not taxpayers."

Immigration advocates have been bracing for the expected jump in fees. William Ramos, Washington director for the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, said the increases would be "devastating to our communities" and "create another obstacle" for those who want to be citizens.

Citizenship and Immigration Services agency is required to do a fee analysis every two years to determine whether money raised from fees is covering costs. The agency last raised its fees in 2004, citing the cost of more intense background checks in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. In 2005, it raised all fees $10 for inflation.

Immigrant advocates long have argued that the agency's costs cannot be absorbed by application fees. They want Congress to appropriate money to help pay costs. They have also criticized the backlogs in applications, lost files and other problems.

Traci Hong, director of the immigration program for the Asian American Justice Center, said the proposed fees would cause a "substantial burden" to Asian Americans, who have a high naturalization rate. About 70 percent of Asian immigrants become citizens, she said.

"Everyone agrees these improvements need to be made. If that is the case we challenge U.S. CIS and Congress to fund this endeavor and not put it on the backs of immigrants and their families," Hong said.

Any immigration legislation passed this year is likely to include a guest worker program. Gonzalez said it will be up to Congress to decide how to fund costs to his agency for such a program but the fee increases aren't for a possible guest worker program.
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Jan. 28th, 2007 @ 04:47 pm The incident is dead now...
The incident from last week finally died down. It got far worse with every succeeding day. The kid just fell to pieces, I guess. His mother offered to pay for the damages, and the company refused. He even had the nerve to come up the day after the incident and get his paycheck. Maybe he has a personality disorder. I guess it is going to court now. He is the talk of the town right now.

My store manager continues to put me way down her list of priorities, but I have discovered that she is treating everyone the same way. That puts my mind at rest. I was beginning to think I was a complete non-entity. Now I realise that we are all non-entities. Something tells me that this is soon to pass, though. I have felt for quite a while that something is going on in upper management. We will never know right until the last day if she is leaving. I feel something is happening, though. I hope I am right. We need change in this store - we have lived with a second-rate manager for far too long now. She is currently checking out the grocery manager for damaging stock. I heard it through the grapevine that she is going to be checking the in-store cameras for evidence.

The weather has got really bad. The temperature has plummetted way down. It has been a strange Fall/Winter season this year. It has got so cold I can hardly bear it now. I am longing for the Spring.

In just two days Vista is released. It is strange. There doesn't seem to be much interest in Microsoft's new operating system. Maybe this is the time when Linux really takes off. I would be very interested to see what happens on Tuesday, and the weeks immediately following it.
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Jan. 24th, 2007 @ 05:56 pm $4000...
The US seems to be really cracking down on illegal immigration hard. I just read that hundreds of illegals were shipped back over the Mexican border today. Quite a lot of these illegals were taken straight from jail and sent back home. There have been over 13,000 arrests since last June. There is also a Bill going through Congress that will stop Mexicans giving birth across the border and claiming citizenship for their kids. One of their parents must also be a citizen under this new bill.

Bush seems to be heading more towards domestic policy after last night's speech. Not that I watched it - I read it briefly in the paper this morning. That is a complete 180, and could be an indication that he is more concerned with his place in history than he would have us believe.

It was announced today that there will be support for Windows XP right up until April 2014. This might be an indication that Vista is not going to be taken on board quite so readily as Microsoft had originally anticipated.

More information about the catastrophe at work emerged today. The kid was hired on probation - which gives me a red flag about their hiring prowess. He created damage in the restroom, the breakroom and the produce department. He chopped up produce that was not meant to be chopped up. He cut all of the hoses up. He busted a produce scale. All told, the damage comes to $4000. He is now missing. The police are looking for him. Maybe he will turn up tomorrow for his weekly check. Either he was totally stressed out, or he is a delinquent. He never came across as a delinquent to me, though. I'm thinking stress or inner turmoil. Who knows! One thing is certain though, when he is found he is going to be prosecuted for property damage. That is a total certainty.
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Jan. 23rd, 2007 @ 06:40 pm Life...
Just as I was leaving work today, I found out that a kid had gone beserk in the Produce department. The police were called in. I had heard earlier that the kid was sick and had been in the restroom for over half an hour. As I left, I thought: "I wonder if this might be drug-related." That is probably the cause of this incident. Either that, or the kid was sick and went crazy from stress. It could be either one. The store manager was away today, but she has probably already heard about this incident.

I remember now seeing that kid earlier. He was being spammed by Charter One Bank. They have a habit of doing that. Maybe he was stoned then. I guess I will find out more tomorrow.
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Jan. 22nd, 2007 @ 05:51 pm More of the same...
After a whole weekend off from work, I returned to a terrible mess. It is not surprising, since the Colts made it through to the Superbowl last night. Once again, I have been scheduled on my own all day. It is the same tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday. This is a definite pattern. We had a ton of work left over from yesterday. I explained to my boss that I really needed to have Z called in early. She called him, but he couldn't make it until his scheduled time. She told me half an hour before he was due in. I thanked her, but I was really thinking what a damned incompetent manager she is.

We had a new co-manager start today. She was more interested in training him that getting back to me. I am realising that I am way down her list of priorities. The work will probably get finished - or so I was promised. We'll see.

I am beginning to get really burnt out on this job now. I no longer find any enjoyment out of working there. The re-modelling will start very soon. I don't know if I will get overtime or not during that period. This is the way I see it, though. If I do get overtime, it will only be temporary. I can no longer wait for management - local or national - to come to their senses. I took the step of writing out an application for a part-time job a few miles away this evening. It is going in the post within the next few days. Enough is enough. And you know how that goes. If I get offered a permanent position eventually - that is better than my current one - I'm going for it.

I also had a weird experience today. I was talking to one of the departmental managers, and instead of answering me he fed the information back through the guy he works with. I used to hold that manager with such respect, but not anymore. That is the height of bad manners. If I can get a better position, I won't be sorry to go. The part-time work is pretty close to the pay-rate I am getting now. And that is straight off the street. I have been working my way up to the pay-rate I now enjoy. And working damn hard, I might add. I don't mind the hard work, but I do mind the lack of respect. I no longer feel valued as a worker. I am now going where the money is. Kroger had their chance and blew it.
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Jan. 21st, 2007 @ 09:07 pm Improving...
Current Music: Temple Of The Dog - Call Me A Dog
Things seem to be improving in Congress these days. You can tell by how incensed republicans are getting these days. The wheel of life is turning.

It looks like new anti-smoking laws are being implemented. Parents will be fined for smoking around children in cars. That looks like it will go nationwide. Good move number one. Indiana looks set to raise the federal minimum wage to $7.50 within one year. Good move number two. Smoking in the House has been banned. Good move number three.

I am looking into maybe getting part-time work. I need more money for my family. However, the store re-modelling starts in a week or two. If I don't get any overtime when that starts then I am pursuing that option. My bike is running good, and I am learning better control. I can get about better now. One tank is probably going to last me about 1-2 months. I don't need to even worry about it until it is one-quarter full.

Nancy Pelosi is really feeling her feet now. Republicans just hate her, therefore she must be doing something right. Her daughter is preparing for a documentary about the Christian right. It is causing ripples. She concedes that the Christian Right prepared the path for GWB's election in 2000. It doesn't surprise me that this was the case, as he suffers from terrible religious mania. Religion and politics never mix. I always likened GWB's presidency very much like John Major's victory. Both of them puppets.

January 20th, 2009. That is the day I am looking forward to. Let it roll around quickly. I am wondering if Bush will accept defeat gracefully, or if he will cause more trouble before his departure. He has never shown signs of listening to anybody that interfered with his own agenda. Iran is the great concern now. Can he screw that up in the two years that he has left? Will he go mental or step down gracefully? The next two years will tell all. Nancy Pelosi is up to the task, though - she is a mighty strong woman. Which is probably why the republicans hate her so. Republican women always seem to be downtrodden.
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Jan. 17th, 2007 @ 07:12 pm Reduction of hours...
My age sometimes means I don't grasp things straight away. One of the clerks in my department is getting their hours cut. He came here as a full-time worker, I believe - although that was probably not carved in stone. He has now been cut down to four days a week. Last year I would have spoken to management about a situation such as this, but it is like pissing in the wind now. They basically do what they want now, and we are all straitjacketed. It is one more broken promise. Remember the "you'll get more help" speech I wrote about recently. It just isn't happening now that Christmas is over. This week alone I have been scheduled three days totally on my own. I don't get stressed out about it anymore. If my store manager doesn't care, then why should I. If the work doesn't get finished, whose fault is it? Certainly not mine. I just do my eight hours and leave - that is all that is required. Today was okay, though. I got finished. Tomorrow I am in frozen - on my lonesome again. Maybe it is an indication that my store manager trusts me to work on my own - without supervision. That is probably it in a nushell, actually. I probably don't need to read anymore than that into it. The reduced hours of the clerk is probably because she is trying to stretch the hours as far as they will go. It is probably just more corporate-spending strategy. I've been annoyed, furious, incensed - now I just don't care about their idiotic money-saving policies. I don't want to get in thick with these people. I hope they don't ask me for my opinions someday in the near future - for they will get them.
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Jan. 15th, 2007 @ 08:10 pm Strange Days...
I went to lunch today. I met two associates who work in my department - the frozen head and the back-up head. I am beginning to realise that there is deviousness afoot there. I have known these guys for quite a while now. They were talking, but as soon as I approached their table they stopped talking completely - and I do mean completely. They neither acknowledged me nor spoke to me. I sat down at the table next to them - as they didn't allow me to sit with them. Not another word was spoken. They eventually left with not even a "See you later, Steve!" Later, back at work, the head even looked a little apprehensive. Those guys seem to be as thick as thieves these days. They are extremely secretive. There is stuff going on in that department that will not bear the light of day. I have witnessed something of this magnitude before, so it is not just imagination. I don't know what is going on, but they are discussing something that they do not want getting around. I thought that it would be impolite not to eat with them, but they apparently did not want my presence at all.

This makes sense, actually. They did not seek me out when lunchtime arrived. This actually got to me, and ruined my afternoon. I felt worse than if I had actually been eating on my own. Being ignored is something that really cuts into me. Although I would like to find out what is behind it all. It did make me realise that these people are no friends of mine. They have put up walls. Their friendship is all surface gloss.

There seemed to be an awkwardness about the head afterwards. He may have been concerned that I may have overheard something. If anything is going on at all, it is probably concerned with promotion. I wish I cared. Whatever their problem is, they need to conceal it better. It is shit like this that makes me realise how much the human race sucks.

I really just want to go to work and earn money. All of the internal politics they can take and shove right up their ass. I'm not interested.

The CEO was in the papers last night. He said that he believed Krogers would make good profits in 07. I know how they are doing it, too. This is why I don't really care too much about the internal politics of the company. We are all in the same boat. We don't need to be creating walls between employees. It is creating cracks.

I am waiting for the time when the back-up head leaves. He is young and soon to graduate. The training he has received is a wasted exercise. I am just waiting for management to come crawling back to me for my help. I will then inform them of the training they promised me that I never received. They put me on the backburner and gave all of the training to this other guy. They have shoved me right down the bottom of the pile, probably because of my age. It doesn't affect my earnings one bit, but it affects my self-esteem. And it is also an exercise in interaction at work, and how people put you on a pedestal, and then knock you off again. One thing has remained constant, however - the amount of work expected from me. I'm not bugged - I'm left alone to finish it all. On the days when my manager is off work, I am left to work all day on my own. Is this orchestrated, I wonder! With no help, I have nobody to talk to - which equals more work done in less hours. That is how my mind was working today.

I have experience in grocery now. I may get a daytime job, and work part-time at the new Target store that is opening this spring/summer sometime. That would be marginally preferable to working full-time for a company that has no intention of offering me any overtime.
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