Please, please take over my health insurance.

When you move overseas, there are documents you need in order to get a visa that will allow you to live in the host country. In order to keep from having to get ridiculous numbers of certifications on these documents, many countries are members of a treaty that allows one certification, called an apostille, which is accepted by all other member countries.

Now, that’s actually a pretty good idea. Standard form, everybody agrees to recognize it. Great.

Here’s how this should work: You go to the state website, click the documents you want, enter the applicable info, click “Apostille” and “Expedite,” give them your credit card info, and it arrives in a week.

Here’s how it actually works. The office that gives the seal isn’t the same one that gets the documents. So you have a few steps.

  1. Write (yes, write) the Vital Records office in the applicable state, ordering a certified copy of the document (in this case, a birth certificate).*
  2. Include a money order for the fee. That involves a trip to the bank, kids.
  3. Wait about two weeks.
  4. Upon receipt of this document, send it to the apostille office, which is in the same city– probably the same building– as the office in step 1.
  5. Send them a check because they’re slightly ahead of the Vital Records office.
  6. Wait about two weeks.

All of this assumes things work properly. So far, out of our 5 documents that’s happened once. I sent Sam’s and Foard’s birth certificates to the same office on the same day, about a month ago. Sam’s arrived pretty promptly. Still waiting on Foard’s. And still waiting on Melissa’s birth certificate (step 1) from Georgia. Oh, and our marriage license has to be signed by hand, so I have to order one of those from the county where we were married.

*Surprisingly, the state of South Carolina (motto: “Thank God for Mississippi”) has the best system and turnaround of the three states I’m dealing with, with a fill-out-and-and printable PDF and an expedite option.

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On the Cutting Edge of the Early 1990’s

There were some really good developments at the Southern Baptist Convention last week (here is a quick summary). I wanted to listen to a couple of speeches in particular, so I took to the Web, confident that the largest Protestant denomination in the world would have the audio up a few days later.

Imagine my delight to discover SBCTapes.com, which is apparently My Source for S.B.C. & SBC Pastors’ Conference Presentations. Yes indeedy, to get a recording of Danny Akin’s and Al Mohler’s speeches, I just have to download and print out the PDF of the order form. Then I can use a fax machine (which apparently people still have) to send in the order form, or I can mail it to them. They will then send me a CD in the mail.

The best part is that each CD is only $9.00! (Plus $2 shipping & handling for the first CD and $1 for each subsequent one.) So for a mere $21, I can have both the messages I wanted within about 6 weeks.

In the meantime, I guess I can keep busy with thousands of hours of free downloadable audio from Desiring God. Or Mars Hill Church. Or Monergism. Or Sovereign Grace. Or the Gospel Coalition. Or any of the many, many churches and organizations who’ve figured out it’s not very hard to put audio online.

(I should also point out that my own denomination, the PCA, is apparently behind even our Baptist brothers, as there doesn’t seem to be any way to get ahold of MP3’s from our General Assembly.)

Adventures in Bad Admin

Disclaimer: I am not great at administration, but I really appreciate good administration, so I’m trying to get better at it. As part of that, I like to look at things that work and things that don’t.

At about 2:25 PM yesterday, I registered online for a training program we have to attend before leaving for Prague. In the ensuing hours I received no less than seven emails from the training organization.

  • Mon 2:30 PM: Receipt and purchase confirmation.
  • Mon 2:30 PM: Thank you for submitting an order.
  • Mon 2:34 PM: Thank you note for purchase from bookstore.
  • Mon 2:34 PM: Thank you for registering to attend program.
  • Mon 4:13 PM: Thank you again for your purchase, please save receipt.
  • Tues 12:25 PM: Invoice for remainder of bill, request to let them know if missions organization will be paying (even though I gave that info when I registered).
  • Tues 1:15 PM: Travel details, and reminder that my confirmation packet will arrive in the mail soon!

Surely they could have combined all these into one email, even if I had to wait a couple of hours!