Thursday, November 20, 2008

UPDATE - October 12 - November 14

October 12, 2008

Obama and the Pope
Obama is invited to meet with the Pope while he is vacationing south of Rome in Venice.

The censoring right wing press reluctantly watches the semi-private audience, hoping they will be able to get minimal coverage, if any.

The Pope asks Obama to join him on a Gondola ride through the canals of Venice.

They're admiring the sights and agreeing on moral issues when all of a sudden the Pope's hat (zucchetto) blows off his head and out into the water.

The gondolier starts to reach for the Pontiff's cap with his pole, but this move threatens to overturn the floating craft. Obama waves the tour guide off, saying, 'Wait, wait. I'll take care of this. Don't worry.'

He steps off the gondola onto the surface of the water and walks out to the Pope's hat, bends over and picks it up. He walks back across the water to the gondola and steps aboard. He hands the hat to the Pope amid stunned silence.

The next morning the big topic of conversation among Republicans in Congress, CBS News, NBC News, ABC News, CNN, the New York Times, and right wing Hollywood celebrities in USA, England, France and Germany is:

'Obama Can't Swim.'
too cute McCain Obama childrens song and dance


1. How many countries in the world do not use the metric system?

2. (#1 is not that important if you can answer this one) Name two countries who do not use the metric system.

3. How many animals in the world actually cook and prepare their meals? Name them.

4. Name all animals in the world that copulate facing each other.

5. In the Western world, we have certain languages we term dead languages because they are no longer spoken. Name one “dead” language that is still spoken today and tell where it is spoken.

6. From the list below, decide which of the items are tasks Victor has not done in over a year:
brushing teeth flossing teeth showering using deodorant shaving
combing hair ironing using mouthwash using cologne
using washing machine using drying machine

7. Who will win the next U.S. Presidential election?
8. T or F In the US, just like universities have Asian Studies, African-studies, African-American studies, or Gender studies departments, in South Africa we have American studies departments.


You can see by the date that this was started awhile ago. Not only was it started awhile ago, but it was damaged twice. First, my laptop adapter died, so I could not access the update. Then on Halloween, I decided to rewrite the whole thing from scratch in one sitting and send it. Before I could send it, after 11 pages, the computer crashed. The good news is that it recovered the file; the bad news was that the recovered file was 3 pages of blankness. Ha ha ha!

Happy Halloween! If you don't celebrate it, Happy Harvest Festival. It is not celebrated here as a rule (according to what the majority of the people do), but people know about it because of American TV and culture. So the only people who actually do celebrate it seem to be upper class white children. But I don't see how you can trick or treat because people don't go and stock up on candy to give to children. There are some Halloween costume parties among young university-age students.

Writing this for the third time, I'm a pro, but you always remember other things you wanted to share. Thankfully you forget other things. Hopefully this will only be 15 pages. Let's see. Two big things I've been dealing with are visas and plane tickets.

People last time asked me why I called myself an illegal resident; some thought it was an oxymoron. I like the phrase because it suggests that SA knows I am here and they will not hunt me and deport me though I actually do not hold a valid visa. So I'm in no danger, though I had an interesting person with someone in the States that agitatedly asked why hadn't they yet deported me to the States. Wow!

The problem in South Africa is a lack of good administrative relative to the US. So at Home Affairs, the information you receive depends on the time of day and which agent you speak with. I did not know I was supposed to renew my visa before 30 days before it expires. So when I went to renew it inside 30 days before it expired, they said I was late, and must write why I am applying late as an extra required paperwork to bring. When I arrived with everything they told me to bring over the phone, I was met with a surprise. All the surprises that found me running around town and campus past the actual expiration date are listed below.

What the person on the phone told me I needed was different than what I was told in person. So I had to leave Home Affairs, this time with a new form and a new list of requirements to obtain.
Even that time, Home Affairs gave me the wrong form.
Home Affairs requires visa renewal applicants to get proof again of being TB-free. So we are required to produce a radiological report of our chest's excellent condition. Unfortunately, when I arrived at the clinic, the radiology receptionist was ready for me. Where is your form? Which form? The form you were supposed to bring? I don't have a form? Didn't Home Affairs (HA) give you a form? No they didn't. Well, you can pay and have the exam, but you will have to go back to HA, get the form, come back here, and pay again. What are you saying? You'll have to do it twice so you might as well wait. (I look over and see that the other three people next to me are foreigners also trying to renew visas) Why don't you just copy her form? That's illegal!! That's illegal? Yes. (I look at the form and it is obviously a copy, not to mention that nothing on it looks official and the lines are slightly diagonal on the page; the only official thing on it is something that says SA and I can type that on a computer. At this point the woman begins a rant explaining how HA always does this to the hospitals; they never give the right forms and then they make the hospitals look like the bad guys. . .)
HA requires that I get police clearance (something from the home country saying you're not a criminal or have clear record) a 2nd time even though I've been in SA for the past year on the first visa. No if's, and's, or buts.
My supervisor took a few days (when I had none) to sign the application form they gave me. When I asked him about it, he said he was confused and to talk to the international students office (IAPO – I don't know what it stands for). . . . . . .dauh dauh DAUH. HA gave me the wrong form. This time I went to UCT IAPO to get the information. They gave me the third set of forms/requirements.
HA requires a slip/receipt of proof of payment of the repatriation fee, a fee (I'm not sure) that the country uses to send you back home if you do something wrong or in some other cases. The problem is that the SA Embassy in D.C. has a rule: if you are below a certain threshold number of days on the visa, the fee is waived. HA would not accept this and said I must produce the slip. It did not matter that I pointed out that on the actual visa it stated “FEE WAIVED.”
HA refused to even begin to process a visa for a return in September 2009 because the return ticket I purchased said July 2009. I explained that the airlines have a limit to how far in the future you can book tickets. They didn't care. I explained that it's true and I wasn't lying. That doesn't matter, they told me.
etc., etc.

I don't remember the other hang-ups. I just know that the last point about the return date of the ticket is a battle I lost eventually. By this time I was past September 30, the date my visa expired, and I was tired of waiting in a HA line all afternoon (it's quite slow and they let people skip, administration is poor). I gave up and just asked (having won some battles) them to give me a visa through July. They agreed and finally took the paperwork to process. At one point I thought of just leaving in July and not deal with the hassle and paperwork. But for those of you who saw the embedded Save-the-Date 2 updates ago (I think one person e-mailed about it), that is now changed due to . . .I'm not sure what to say, but it's changed. So I will probably push back the July departure depending on the start date of the next job. As for this new visa, I go this week to pick it up. . .hopefully.

In all this rush, I had to do certain things immediately. On my first visit they asked me to leave, get a doctors medical exam certificate and x-ray report and come back. I couldn't schedule it for the same day. But it was that type of rush. I had to book an airline ticket quickly—leave US Jan 7 and return July 1. And I planned to change my return date of my last ticket to December 23 or so. Well, I call British Airways to do this, and they tell me it expired. I said it was a mistake. They told me I was a mistake. I said I would tell my mother. . .after I called back the nice woman said she would speak to her boss. The boss said no and she could not change the date. So due to some misunderstanding or miscommunication I missed my flight back home. The nice woman did say to call the travel agent to see if he had/has a special deal with the airline to re-enact it. My lovely sister (Jane who takes care of SOOO much for me administratively and financially—thanks!) called and the agent was mad—no! Ok, so my lovely sister, again, worked out a buddy-pass international standby ticket. I don't like putting the words international and standby in the same sentence, but booking two round trip tickets to the US in a row is financially staggering. Remember, the university is claiming to have overpaid me more than I thought they overpaid me (this happened 3 times now). So somehow I allocated funds based on a greater amount. My supervisor also made me stop tutoring. Anyway, I asked to push the date of the flight to December 23 as close to Christmas as possible. They said the earliest they could do was the 17th and there would be 2-3 standby people ahead of me and I could miss the flight. If I took the 10th I would be number one on the list. What was I to do? They needed an answer now! I took the 10th and with that decision sealed the opportunity to go to a friends wedding in Limpopo on the 13th and one of the graduation of one of the kids I mentor. Not only that but it caused major problems on the work front.

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