Research is Fun – Provided You Have The Right Tool

19 10 2009

“Adjusting to your new life in the United States of America will take time”.

Guide For New Immigrants

I love doing research.

To me it is not just who, what, where, why, when and how, but more a chance to become involved with a subject. To interact with it, to increase my knowledge, enhance my experience and to ultimately store it away in the filing cabinet of trivia that constitutes my mind.

To put it simply, I have an awful lot of information in my head – some of it so obscure that even I don’t know where I picked it up from.

I relish the chance to learn about a subject, enjoy reading books and papers with differing views and opinions all of which may lead to me making decisions. Those who think they know me may be slightly sceptical.

Dave just goes ahead and does things, normally without thinking” ……they would say.

 “He always acts first, and never thinks of the consequences” ……..they might remark.

This may be true.

I am ready to admit that some of my more spontaneous actions have not always been in my best interests and may have left me financially bereft (going to Las Vegas for 5 days after a night out in Muswell Hill, the Spurs tattoo that looks like J and H on my arm, paying £15 to watch Transformers – Revenge of the Fallen).

But when I am genuinely interested and motivated enough in a project, I do my homework.When I go anywhere, I like to have a map.

So it seems logical to assume that when we arrived in the USA, the next step was to learn more about the country. Its history (covered when I was at school, anything else has been because of a related subject in media, music or current affairs), its people and ,of course,  the rules and regulations.

Some of this could only be experienced through actually leaving TRB, getting on the road and interacting with individuals from other states. I could also use the internet to find out some relevant information, or I could revert to my favoured method of sitting down with a good book.

To this end, I went into Barnes & Noble and purchased the following :

  • A People’s History of the United States – Howard Zinn
  • Bowling Alone – Robert Putnam
  • The Wal-Mart Effect – Charles Fishman
  • Dave Barry Is Not Taking This Sitting Down – Syndicated Miami Herald Columnist, very concerned with the flush capacity of American toilets.

This I believed would give me a nice introduction into the ways and means, customs and contradictions and the general feeling of what it would mean to be a resident of the worlds “lone superpower”.

The US Government was also keen for my education to begin, so they sent me a helpful booklet published by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services entitled “Welcome to the United States – A Guide for New Immigrants”. Slightly slimmer than the books I had purchased (and free), it promised that ;

  1.  “exciting opportunities” awaited me,
  2.  it contained all the information I would need to “get started”,
  3.  it would explain how the USA “began” (something to do with disposing of perfectly good tea and some unfair taxation issues)
  4.  being a permanent resident is a “privilege and not a right”.

To quote from Douglas Adams, the words “Don’t Panic” spring to mind.

I have now read the guide.

 I know about my rights as a permanent resident, I have all the information I need about healthcare, I know what (and what not) to do in an emergency, I know where I can go to learn English and I am aware that “Don’t be Afraid, Be Ready” will be my mantra in the event of a terrorist attack.

I even know some detail about the Constitution, not much but just enough to get me “started”.

So now heavily fortified with Government information, the adventure can start in earnest.

Hope you are sitting comfortably, it could be a long ride and I don’t want to keep hearing “are we there yet?”.

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