I’m a legal alien

Golden Gate Bridge - San Francisco, California...Image by Jose P Isern Comas via Flickr

That was a significantly simpler process than I expected.

The plan was to get up at 0600, deal with Oliver, make sure everything was in order so the packers could work without supervision for the day and get to the US embassy by 0745. A mixture of tiredness, mild hangover (for me, not for the sensible one in the family) and bureaucracy ended with us diving into the cab at 0730. I explained we were in a rush to the driver and he assured he would try his best, although it is a 20 minute ride when traffic is good, and we are deep into rush hour.

At this point in the movie, please insert a montage of shots including us undertaking people on the freeway at 120kph, rocketing down the shoulder of the freeway to get a lead on the exit we needed, and overtaking on a no-overtaking section of road with a car coming towards us interspersed with close-up shots of the terror on our faces.

We arrived at the embassy with a great squealing of tyres at 0745.

Twenty minutes of queueing later, we’re allowed through the security checks and metal detectors to the Antechamber of Waiting. There are many people there, all of whom are clutching their numbered chits and an assortment of paperwork and documentation. Noone has a 150 page document like I do, however. I clearly win that battle. Our number came up after only fifteen minutes and we headed over to the counter.

It’s at times like these when my social ineptness really comes to the fore. As the lady behind the counter efficiently asked for each document in turn, I felt a building pressure to deliver those documents confidently and promptly. Sadly, this led to a bumbling ineptitude the likes of which Mr Bean would be proud. This, in turn, led to more anxiety, which increased the bumbling, which increased the anxiety, which.. well, you get the picture.

Fortunately, this was not the interview portion of the process. Back we sat and waited to be called again. I spent my time breathing deeply and trying to put away the excitement and nerves I was feeling.

The second time we were called was maybe thirty minutes later, and we were only asked to provide our fingerprints. I assume that these are now going to be used, along with my picture, in upcoming CSI episodes when they run prints through AFIS or CODIS or whatever the acronym is. I shall be watching for myself.

The third, and final, time we were called was the all important interview. We’d practiced for this. We know each others’ favourite ice cream flavours (coffee and mint-choc chip for me, berry and vanilla for Mirto) and felt ready.

“You work for Lucas?”

“Yes, that’s correct.”

“And how long will you be staying in the US?”

“As long as you’ll have me! *nervous laugh*”

“Ok, I’ve approved your visas. You can pick them up on Tuesday.”

Is that it? That’s all it took? Wait, Tuesday? Uh oh. This is what I’ve been dreading. You see, we fly on Tuesday. We need to have the visas in hand before Tuesday, right? Right?

“Um.. We fly on Tuesday so can we pick them up sooner?”

“No, I’m afraid it takes two days. They’ll be ready at 2.30.”

So the visas will be ready just in time to pick them up on the way to the airport. That’s cutting it close, but not too close. In fact, there’s an elegance about that and I’m willing to let the Universe take its course. You see it took just two hours in total, the interview was more of a quick chat than the grilling I’d expected, and we are now legally allowed to enter and work in the US.

Now if I can just get San Francisco to scan the same as New York, we’ll be sorted.

Update: Mirto’s side of the story can be found here.

I have a couple of these around the place. They also support every language ever invented, including ones not invented yet!


This what I take to meetings. It includes a free “stylus” that doubles as an ink despensing input device.

And she does it again

Me: Mirto, let me tell you about my super awesome idea for a novel that I’m going to write for NaNoWriMo that is both super and awesome!

Mirto: Don’t tell me. I don’t want to know.

Me: But… But…

Mirto: If you tell me about it, you won’t be as excited about it, and then you’ll never finish it.

Me: . o 0 ( How is it that you have learned more about me in seven years than I managed to in 31 years? )

When the mover comes around

Today is the day that the last two weeks have built up to. The moving company is in and they’re packing up the house. They’ll finish packing today and then load everything into a container tomorrow, which means one night surrounded by boxes and then life in an empty house apart from a couple of suitcases.

This relocation has been more organised than any previous relocation. I may have said this before; please excuse me as I’m running on Gummi Bears, Alpen Light bars, instant coffee and very little sleep. As always at this stage I feel oddly redundant. I mean, this is my stuff that these guys are packing up, and I’ve invested almost all of my time recently to getting the place into a state to make it easy to pack. And now I’m just sitting on a bare mattress with my laptop next to me with nothing to do. I occasionally venture out, ostensibly to get a drink or to check if they need anything, but actually to just feel involved in some way. The worst thing is that I can’t just sleep like I really really want to.

A couple more hours and it will all be done. Then tomorrow morning it’s the long-prophesied Visit To The Embassy, at which point our heroes’ quests will be complete as they hold aloft the fabled Visa Stamp allowing entry to the legendary United States of America.

Then sleep, we will. For days.

and above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.

Roald Dahl (via betterlookalive)

Talking Heads – Once in a Lifetime

I’ve adored this video since I first saw it on MTV. It was my first exposure to David Byrne and I’ve had a soft spot for his music since.

What I need right now, is another project

I often have many things on the go. Most of the projects have the same life-cycle: I start incredibly enthusiastic, solve the main ‘problem’ involved in the project, and then get bored before completing it.

I’ve tried recently to break this cycle and I keep telling myself that the reason I’m not finishing the One Great Project I’m meant to be focusing on is the move. See other posts for more on that.

I don’t believe it either.

So I have been looking for a way to work on a project with a deadline that is imposed by someone else. I tried getting my better half to work with me on the One Great Project as a way to pressure me, but she has her own projects and doesn’t see a need for a deadline. Also, I’m not sure that it’s wise to be held to a deadline by someone you live with. Mixing family and business, etc.

I’d vaguely been aware of NaNoWriMo for a few years, but it was this post on Neil Gaiman’s blog that started me digging. Writing a novel is something that I’ve always though I would try at some point, and I believe everyone should at least try. It has a fixed deadline of one month, and a clear goal to acheive.

As I thought more about it, I realised something else about my approach to previous projects: While I believe that planning is a good thing, I can now see that I overplan my projects as I start them. While looking for a solution to step 3, I’m already considering the impact to steps 9, 10 and 11. The conclusion to this is that I never actually start step 3 as I’m at a mental block worrying about every little implication of every little decision I might make. What I need, at least in my personal projects, is to learn to solve step 3, maybe consider step 4, and deal with all the impacts when I have to, not now.

That’s the complete focus of NaNoWriMo. To attempt to write a (admittedly short) novel in such a length of time that the author is forced to move on with the story and not think too hard about it.

I shall be updating here as my word count grows, and as I struggle towards the final goal. I don’t know how much time I’ll have before the move, but I believe the cross-pacific flight should give me some time to write something.

Science is one cold-hearted bitch with a fourteen inch strap-on

Vince Masuka

Dexter season 3, episode “Turning Biminese”

It’s really gone and begun now

Eight days to go until we fly out of here and into SFO. Today is the day things really kicked into gear. We get three opportunities to get our stuff from here to there: The luggage we carry, an air shipment with volume and weight limits, and a sea shipment with volume limits. They arrive, respectively, with us, one week after we arrive and five weeks after we arrive. Having done this more than once now, myself and the wife have a really good idea of what we need at each stage.

The sea shipment is being packed up in three days, so it was vital to make sure we separate out the things for air shipment and luggage before then. Given the shit-storm that is going to happen over the next few days with immigration and vet visits and turning security passes into work, etc, etc, etc, today was the day to get it done. And get it done, we did.

The apartment is now officially a tip, but things are sorted out, which is fantastic. We’re basically living between kitchen, laptops and the bedroom, with brief sojourns to the bathroom. Everything in-between is either in disarray, or in a box.

Usually, this would be enough to send my anxiety through the roof, but seeing the boxes made and tetrised (yes, it’s a verb) into the right volume requirements for the air shipment, and seeing the luggages spread out with coats and jumpers (oh, coats and jumpers. Finally!) ready for the cold air of San Francisco, is a great feeling.

Eight more days. Then we get home.