Archive for June, 2003

Sewing machine

June 29, 2003

Vile and I have a cunning plan for which we are in need of a sewing machine. Luckily his mum came to the rescue and has lent us hers. So a trip to Milledgeville to pick it up was undertaken this afternoon with Quince in tow. In return Quince did a fly hunt and got himself a juicy morsel into the bargain.

Then we went over to Macon to be introduced and go to dinner with Bill’s buddy Richard, his lady, their 3 dogs, 2 Siamese kittens, and a lizard dragon thing. The menagerie did not accompany us out for Mexican.

I was forced to climb into the crate and pet the dragon, and subsequently became covered in hives. Coincidence? Think it got me with it’s evil dragon breath.

Oh yeah, and I drove from Jackson to Milledgeville (causing Bill’s dad to doubletake when I pulled into his driveway) and then from Milledgeville almost all the way to Macon. (Bill took over on the Interstate and navigating to Richard’s pad, which was probably a good thing as I then immediately passed out in the passenger seat.) Truckin’ 😀 Needed the Pigeon Street “Long Distance Clara” theme tune as backdrop today.

Expenses

June 27, 2003

Phew, managed to get out of bed as Vile left the house and took the dawg for a walk around the block. He loves that. Gets very excited and I think a trip around the neighbourhood peeing on everything (just try stopping him, ugh) makes his day. Quince is now contentedly sat on the bed, looking out of the window, being master of all he surveys and barking authoritatively every once in a while.

Meanwhile, I am now attempting to sort out the fallout from my trip to the hospital the other weekend. Got the bill from Emory…

Laboratory Services – $203.00
Emergency Dept Services – $87.00

added to which I had to pay:

prescription #1 – $38.95
prescription #2 – $10.99

So I’ve just had to fork out the money to them and hopefully claim back using my travel insurance.

*ouch*

Phoned my insurance company and am now trying to organise getting my claim in with all the necessary documents and evidence. Pants, can I remember the name of my GP in Devon? NO! And, I’ve just been told on the phone that I’ll need a letter from my home doctor saying that the problem isn’t in my medical history. Wha? A claim for cystitis surely can’t be influenced by the fact that I had a similar episode back in 1997, can it? I’ll be furious if they throw that at me.

Hhmmph, and I got the winning bid on two Ebay items a week ago, I paid promptly and still haven’t heard a peep from either of the vendors. Though mysteriously one of them left positive feedback on my record even before my transaction was processed. Hope I don’t have problems there. Better hear something from them soon. Grrrr.

On the spider front Bill was convinced that the Black Widow was dead after he messed up inside her cavern with a big stick. Took the torch out with us yesterday so we could see further inside above the mailbox. Spider is definitely still there. We could see it hanging upside down right at the back, then it flipped towards us and we could clearly see the red mark on her belly gleaming at us under the beam of the flashlight. Eeek. Not sure what to do about it, obviously we need to get rid of her, but how? I get worried everytime the mail lady comes around because she doesn’t know it’s there and I’m sure she doesn’t scan every single mailbox on her route for poisonous insects.

Think I’ll phone my daddy in a bit, yay! Friday is his afternoon off so hopefully I’ll be able to catch him. Heh heh, poor Bill left his international calling card numbers with me today. Muahahahaha

So, the game….

June 27, 2003

…was FUN!! Met up with Donnie and his two kids (Julia and Max) by a statue of some famous baseball player. Spotted Julia first because she was climbing all over the guy’s head. Both kids saw Bill coming and raced over with screams of “Uncle Bill! Uncle Bill!”

Donnie already had four tickets so we needed to get an extra one, couldn’t hear a word the ticket lady was saying but somehow managed to get seats vaguely together up in the Upper Level right behind the batter, though when we got up there we had to shuffle seats around a bit to do this.

Sat next to a really scary looking couple wearing identical clothes, right down to the matching trainers. Wondered if they had synchronous underwear too.

But before we get to sitting down and watching the game, lets go over the Snow Cones first. Couldn’t walk past the vendor without being sucked in and having one. The guy had a huge Ice Crusher into which chunks of ice were tipped, ground down, spat out and heaped into tubs. Then we got to dispense various sickly sounding syrups on top of it ourselves. Yay! Bill went for the Sour Grapes .o0(apt). Then I had difficulty working out exactly how to tackle the thing and tried not to just tip it down my front like Julia and Max.

Okay, now we’re seated.

Never mind the game, the entire stadium was an experience in itself. I really wish I hadn’t left my camera in the truck. *slaps head* It was simply crazy, swarms of people and vendors and adverts and all very colourful, I didn’t know where to point my attention.

Had to stand for the Star Spangled Banner at the start and endured a wrenching 5 mins or so as it got mangled and tortured by four guys who were then applauded for singing like strangled cats. Ugh.

Vile explained the finer points of the game to me, as well as some of the symbolism of the stadium, for example, the retired numbers emblazoned across one end and the shields depicting League triumphs on another. He pointed out the Coca Cola cannons and bottle which fire and shoot fireworks if the home team score a home run. Wanted to see that in action, but no such luck today.

Mainly because the Atlanta Braves SUCKED. They were lame, and got totally trounced by the Phillies 8-1. It was pitiful.

Really thought Vile was joking when he said that halfway through the 7th innings everyone stands up and sings “Take me to the Ball Game”. But no, for real. Crazy I tell you.

In fact the whole game was very *coughs* “musical”. Each batter had his own theme song and everytime he took to bat a snatch of it would blare out across Turner Field. Bursts of other tracks would also erupt occasionally depending on the action. Sure I heard a Hammond Organ being struck mercilessly.

The game itself was pretty dull, with the odd moments of excitement, like when Donnie took the kids to get food and all hell broke out on pitch and the Phillies scored 3 runs. Or, when the Braves actually did score and the stadium erupted with music and flashing lights and everyone waving their arms as if they were tomahawks.

Some of the crowd were more interesting, like the pack of peeps dressed as chefs and waving a “Sheffield Chefs” banner (Sheffield being a member of the Braves brethren).

All the time there were vendors going up and down the aisles proclaiming their wares, which mainly seemed to consist of Budweiser and peanuts. And, if we’d wanted (and probably had money to throw around) we could have even dialed up for pizza and had it delivered to our seats! But going back to the peanuts that was the only thing I didn’t like about the game. The place was crawling with them, they stank and people threw them everywhere. The guy behind me was creating his own shell mountain by my head, made me very twitchy indeed. Bleargh.

Didn’t stay right to the end, the Braves were going nowhere and their crushing defeat was obvious to all. Walked back to the truck via the old stadium wall which Bill pointed out to me along with some drivel about someone or others record number of home runs beating Babe Ruth, or something. Some sort of marker is there to commemorate this *coughs* momentous occasion of great importance to Mankind.

*gets smited by Vile (and probably Pengs)* .o0(ouch!)

Okay, think that about wraps up the evenings events, am rushing to finish this now as Bill has already crawled into bed and collapsed and I want snuggles.

Verdict = Baseball is rather cool actually. (Although I’m still looking forward to getting to a hockey game once the season starts again, I have Bill’s word he’ll take me)

Trip to Turner Field

June 26, 2003

Woo hoo! Vile just called. We’re a going to the Braves game tonight!

My first baseball game.

Seen a few games on the telly so far, and Bill’s been doing his best to explain all the intricacies of the play but seeing a real game is going to be much more fun.

Itchy

June 26, 2003

Quince got the dreaded bath last night, hates them he does, but it was necessary because despite treating him with flea repellant we found some on him yesterday. Totally explains why I am covered in bites but know I have avoided the mossies outside the house. Bill has escaped being eaten thus far, but then Quince comes and snuggles up to me in the morning not him.

Must not scratch. Aargh.

We have a very handsome, but miffed dog here now.

Other great and important things worthy of note:

I suck at Yahoo! Towers. Yesterday I managed to claw my way up from an abysmal rating in the 1100s to a meagre 1300 status, then blew it all again. I swear Yahoo! Towers hates me though, everytime I did win it seemed to forget to adjust the ratings. Yet when I lost, it had no problem whatsoever dropping me into the pits of the laughably inept.

Snuggled up on the couch and watched The Big Lebowski with Bill. A Cohen Brothers film he hadn’t seen before. He was so amused in places that he literally fell off the couch and rolled around the floor in fits of hysterics. Added to that, the film features a naked Julianne Moore, so I’d say it was a winner with him.

The spider has annoyingly gone back into hiding after Bill tried to burn it’s web and egg sac with a match. Don’t like not knowing where it is one little bit. Probably going to jump out and scare me again when I least expect it.

Smirnoff Ice…I wanted to relax, watch a movie and enjoy a nice cold refreshing Smirnoff Ice. But no, in America Smirnoff Ices are crap in disguise and unlike the variety consumed merrily in the UK, are not a delicious mix of “vodka with the classic taste of lemon” but “a premium malt beverage with natural flavors.” Huh? Smallprint on the label calls it a “flavored beer.” I am not impressed. (Though I still drank two and ran around the house going “wheeeee!” just the same.) It’s all something to do with the fact that the law prohibits the advertising of “hard liquor” on television, so take out the vodka, call it a malt beverage and hey presto it’s a flavored beer and all is dandy. Loons.

Immigration Update

June 24, 2003

June 23rd Protest outside the Texas Service Center

Another protest was held at the TSC yesterday, Bill was intending to go but was unable to, mainly due to work commitments and my extended stay. Once again this protest got no real firm answers from the TSC themselves, however it did make more of a splash with the media this time. (Previous hoax protests hurt media attention at the May protest as “Wolf” had been cried too many times before by people who did not really intend to protest, just threatened to and got expedited approval as a result). In this respect the June 23rd Protest seems to have been fairly successful.

Report published by The Dallas Morning News:

Demonstrators decry delay of visas for loved ones
Several protest backlog at Dallas office of immigration bureau

06/24/2003

By FRANK TREJO / The Dallas Morning News

It frustrates Mike Little to know that if he lived on the East Coast, he might have been married by now.

But Mr. Little lives in Arlington, and the visa application he submitted for his fiancĂ©e more than four months ago to the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Texas Service Center still has not been processed. So his fiancĂ©e, Caroline Silva, remains in the Philippines, and their wedding plans are on hold.

That’s why Mr. Little joined more than a dozen other U.S. citizens Monday protesting in front of the bureau’s offices off North Stemmons Freeway.

“Right now, my phone bills are $500 a month because of the time I spend talking to the woman I love,” Mr. Little said.

He said he first submitted the visa application in February and received a document noting it would take 60 to 90 days to process.

“We began making plans for our future,” Mr. Little said. “We made wedding plans and started notifying family and friends, and we’ve had to go back and tell everyone that we’re still having to wait.”

What’s even more frustrating, protesters said, is that they have been complaining about this backlog for months. Instead of getting better, they said, the situation appears to have worsened.

Officials for the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, which oversees the service centers, said the Texas office is processing applications and petitions received in December.

When the applications were received, the center sent out notices of processing times of 60 to 90 days, said Carl Rusnok, a spokesman for the immigration bureau. But those are estimates, he said.

“Processing times can change due to unforeseeable factors such as mandated security enhancements and the number of applicants,” Mr. Rusnok said.

People who apply today are being notified that the processing times are 100 to 180 days, he said.

“This increase is due primarily to 9-11 security enhancements,” Mr. Rusnok said, adding that the Texas Service Center “always works to minimize times on all its applications and petitions. We have recently hired additional personnel for this purpose.”

He said routine security screening must be done on the new employees before they can begin working.

Mr. Little said his group wants to bring attention to the disparities among the visa-processing centers around the country.

He said the Texas facility is much slower at processing visa applications than the Vermont Service Center, which is perhaps the busiest in the country because it handles applications from the heavily populated Northeast states.

Mr. Little said that at the Vermont center, a fiancée visa is often processed in 30 days or less. Meanwhile, in Texas, he said, it can take upwards of 150 to 200 days.

There are five service centers throughout the United States to process applications and petitions for several kinds of immigration benefits.

The Texas center processes visa petitions and applications for residents of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

Mr. Little said his group has determined that on an average day, the Texas center receives 40 visa applications. and processes 19.

“That means the backlog is not getting better, and it’s actually getting worse every day,” Mr. Little said.

He said that officials have promised to look into the matter and come up with a solution but that the group plans to continue protesting monthly until things change.

Melanie Firestone, a nurse from Dalhart, about 80 miles north of Amarillo in the Panhandle, was among those protesting in front of the immigration building Monday. She held a sign with a picture of herself and her fiancé, David Link of Berlin.

She said she has been waiting for more than 160 days for his application to be processed.

“I am 36 years old, and we would like to start a family before it gets too late for me to have a family,” Ms. Firestone said. “But we can’t even get married.

“My wedding dress is on hold. The people at my job are frustrated because I can’t tell them when I need time off for my wedding.”

Burrito Delight

June 24, 2003

Yay, Bill came home from work at lunchtime and took me out to eat. Drove over to East Atlanta Village, flicked through the local free papers and had burritos. Then I got to drive home again, made it in one piece.

Stinky sweaty Bill

June 24, 2003

Went to Smyrna with Bill last night to watch him play tennis against a friend from work. Took Quincy with us and left him playing with Dac’s two dogs while we went to the courts.

June 23, 2003

Oh yeah, forgot something else that was really cool this weekend. The videocard Bill ordered arrived in the mail and he was able to set the PC up so it has dual monitors. Wahey! It rules.

The flight home…

June 23, 2003

..was great. I’m sure.

Although I wasn’t on it, if I was it would’ve sucked.

I’m still here in Atlanta, padding around the house with Quince while Bill is at work.

We’ve decided to make the most of the 90 days I’m allowed to stay in the USA on my Visa Waiver so I’m probably staying right here with Bill until late August. Hoorah! Beats Instant Messenger, and I get to experience Atlanta in the summer. *turns up the air conditioning*

Painting and Alpharetta Take One

This weekend we’ve been very busy. Friday evening we got stuck into painting the office and have been working hard on that, not finished yet but it’s looking awesome. My job at the moment is to paint white stripes around the orange lines because we decided they needed uplifting a little. The walls had started looking a little gloomy and worrying us but the white is not only saving the scheme, it’s making it. Getting there. GO us!

Having fun and it’s going to look great.

***

Mail lady came around and Bill finally got a glimpse of the nasty spider that is residing above his mail box. I think he sees why I was so freaked now. It’s a very cool looking spider but it is EVIL and SCARY.

Saturday afternoon we stopped work, cleaned ourselves up and went over to Mary’s house (Bill’s sister) in Alpharetta to meet some more of the family. We were meant to meet Julie’s kids and an Aunt there for dinner, but there was a slight mix up and we’d got the wrong day. When we arrived the house was locked up and no one was there but the dogs. Poor Quince was all excited to see his doggy friends; Lucy, Tate and Alex, and we couldn’t just head off again without upsetting him. Decided to leave Quince with his mates while we went out to a BBQ place to get something to eat. One very happy dog was disembarked, causing doggy mayhem.

Sat in the sun outside the BBQ joint and had a very pleasant lunch, though Bill is now resolved never to eat Beef or Pork again. Let’s see how long that lasts before he buckles again.

Hank and Mary had both returned from their excursion when we stopped past to pick Quince up and say hi. Had a brief chat regarding a possible website idea for Mary before we headed back to East Atlanta. Quince refused to get back into the truck and raced off into the house looking for more doggy fun. Ended up leaving him with Hank, Mary and the dogs overnight.

Driving home on the Interstate and a convertible overtook us, it’s passenger grinning and wearing huge HULK hands he waved at us enthusiastically. Made us laugh. He was very proud of his HULK hands.

***

Was very strange not having Quincy around when we got back to the house. Missed him very much.

Alpharetta Take 2

Returned to Alpharetta Sunday afternoon and this time got it right, everyone was already gathering there when we arrived. Quince belted out the house and it was great to see him. Especially as he ran straight past Bill and barrelled towards me. *giggle*

I’d been warned that Julie’s four kids are a hoard and that they love Uncle Bill. Wasn’t long before he was outside with them piling on top. Found a frisbee and the front yard was filled with screams of glee.

The dogs had a party too, Julie brought her two squirrels with her as well (Cocker Spaniels) and they all raced around with Quince sporadically. Quince is a very funny dog at Camp Leslie. He goes all silly, turns totally crazy, and even plays with dog toys. Throws them around the room and chases them himself. Gets very playful indeed.

Pizza was had, more frisbee was thrown (as were the kids) and then watermelon was dripped everywhere. Gracie’s t-shirt was saturated with the juice in dribbles down her front. Finally ended up racing around the house with Gracie Tickle Monster growling and snarling in pursuit before Bill saved me and whisked us off back to Atlanta for a trip to the Drive-In. Managed to get Quince stowed in the car this time.

HULK at the Drive-In

Made it back to Atlanta in time to go to the first showing at the Starlight. Yay! We got to see the HULK! Parked up and there were some guys Bill knew in the next car along, previous owner of the Star Bar or something. Anyway, they had a kid with them, and this kid had HULK hands! Bill got to try them on. They make thunderous noises when you bash them together. Fab.

Snuggled up with Bill under a blanket, laid back and enjoyed the film, lots of destruction and HULK bashing. Though far too many lingering moments on Betty’s face I thought.