Archive for November, 2009

The things I do for love

Faces appeared in the window above him.
The queen. And now Bran recognized the man beside her. They looked as much alike as reflections in a mirror.
“He saw us,” the woman said shrilly.
“So he did,” the man said.
Bran’s fingers started to slip. He grabbed the ledge with his other hand. Fingernails dug into unyielding stone. The man reached down. “Take my hand,” he said. “Before you fall.”
Bran seized his arm and held on tight with all his strength. The man yanked him up to the ledge. “What are you doing?” the woman demanded.
The man ignored her. He was very strong. He stood Bran up on the sill. “How old are you, boy?”
“Seven,” Bran said, shaking with relief. His fingers had dug deep gouges in the man’s forearm. He let go sheepishly.
The man looked over at the woman. “The things I do for love,” he said with loathing. He gave Bran a shove.
Screaming, Bran went backward out the window into empty air. There was nothing to grab on to. The courtyard rushed up to meet him.

— A tale of ice and fire by George R. R. Martin.

I applied for a US tourist visa exactly 25 days ago. I still haven’t gotten it.

It’s a frustrating process. One would think that the US would need hardly any time to clear a short visit for someone who actually lived there for the most part of the last five years. How hard is it to check my records? And if they are worried I’d try to immigrate once I am there, hell, they should be happy at the prospect. (But seriously guys, I get paid far more at Zurich than I would for a postdoc position in the US. And there are still almost two years to my contract. Yes, I even enclosed my contract in the visa application.)

I hate visas. And I hate this level of stupidity.

Yet, while they can delay my visa, they can’t stop me from dreaming.

So I wake up each day and think this will be the day when the embassy calls me and tells me to come pick up my passport. When that does not happen, I try to contact them instead. I call them, I email them. And meanwhile I get some joy from the process of anticipation…

It will be a long flight for a trip as short as I have in mind, but what the heck. (Ok, let’s see. If I get the visa tomorrow afternoon, can I leave on Wednesday and sneak out a trip for ten days?) I have no teaching duties currently, and my research can be done anywhere. (Kayak…give me the plane schedule. Sneak out a quick trip for a week maybe. What are the ticket prices for Thursday?) If I can pick up the visa by Tuesday afternoon.. Uh, never mind, I have a seminar and it will take an hour to take the train to the embassy in Bern. Besides, they will never start my visa validity date immediately. (Thursday maybe.)

I try to contact the damn embassy. Sometimes they actually respond! The last email from them said “There has been movement in your case and we are awaiting final ok from the consul”. That was five days ago. I sent them another email today.

And so on. Reading fantasy on bed — pretty. Dealing with petty consular officials — beyond frustrating.

Update (The morning after) : Got my visa!

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Via Volokh,  one learns that a bill that would have allowed domestic partners the right to provide for the burial of their loved ones, has been vetoed by RI governor Donald Carcieri.

The legislature passed the bill after hearing testimony from a man whose partner of 17 years went unburied for months while state officials rejected his requests to cremate the body as the dead man wished.  State officials were unmoved by the couple’s wills, living wills, powers of attorney, and a marriage certificate from Connecticut.

The pure libertarian position on marriage is that the government should not be in the marriage business, gay or straight; instead any two people should be allowed to draw up whatever contract they wish in order to solidify their relationship. But we are far from such an ideal, and given present reality, it is hard to take seriously those who oppose gay marriage today either from the pure libertarian rationale or from an idea — false, as the above incident shows — that gays in a domestic partnership can have all the same rights if they fill up the right forms. As for those who oppose gay marriage on religious grounds, I don’t take them seriously anyways.

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