Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Ecuadorian Visa Games Begin

A bright start to the morning - a phone call from a visa lawyer in Quito, Ecuador.

And let the visa games begin . . .

Getting visas in Ecuador has been shifting over the last year or so, presenting some challenges for those of us who are looking at somewhat long-term presence in the country without establishing permanent residency. It used to be that you could simply renew your 90 day tourist visa rather indefinitely, a part of the famous (infamous?) visa run culture I was introduced to when I was living in Asia.

Basically, every couple of months you just needed to pop out of the country for a second and you'd get hit with a brand new batch of visa time. In China, people would run to Hong Kong for a weekend of open access Internet and superior English language bookstores. Drop the passport at the office on Friday when you get in, pick it up Monday morning when you head out, shopped, rested, and ready for more China time.

In Ecuador, the pop in and pop out option has been curtailed. No more re-juicing your tourist visa. The 90 day tourist visa now means 90 days in a calendar year, not 90 days whenever you get a new entry. Which means if I want to be in Ecuador the rest of the year, I need another kind of visa.

And so we are in the process. I'm not interested in the $25,000 investor class visa, and I'm not in the mood to pursue a property purchase. There is a work visa prospect out there on the horizon, but these things take time and evidently a collegiate diploma certified by the State Department as authentic which I've no idea how to even begin to pursue since I was under the impression that the State Department did actual things, like protect the country, versus authenticating degrees.

Also, the lawyer helpfully pointed out that you are supposed to only get a work visa in the field to match your degree. Right, because career change never happens and everyone is doing EXACTLY what they planned to do when they left college. Not entirely sure how that will work out for me, with my combination of HR, Psychology, and Spanish degrees and a career as a freelancer. Job title brainstorming seems imminent :-)

In the meantime, we are working on some kind of limited three month visa which can then be converted into any other kind of visa later. Much later, when we've figured this all out. I'll keep you updated!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Alaska . . . With No Camera, Naturally

Well, I have finally come back from Alaska, with nothing photo-wise to show for myself.

And here I thought I was being so clever!

I'd been to my cousin's wedding and showed up with a camera without a battery charger. Thus, I made sure that I had a battery charger when I went to Alaska.

The camera I left in the car. In my parent's garage. Because, you know, it was happy there.

I was not so happy to be without it, although I did have a great time on the trip. If you want to know what Alaska looks like, call me. I'll be happy to tell you what I saw, even if I'll never be able to show you.

In other news . . . 9 days to Ecuador Part II . . . packing nightmare commences in 3 . . 2 . . oh wait, it's already here!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Texas Ten Conference Logo

I'll confess, I "borrowed" this from my friend AK, who posted it up where I could grab it.


I did have a good laugh at this. Funnier to me is how totally okay I am with Nebraska giving the Big 12 Conference the peace out in favor of the Big 10 . . . which now has 12 teams while the Big 12 only has 10. I try not to focus on that ridiculousness; it makes my head hurt.

Part of the peace with the new arrangement is that I am quite happy to drive to Big 10 game sites. In fact, I think some of the commuting might actually be shorter, ensuring that Nebraska fans will have more opportunities than ever to take our show on the road. Admittedly, there won't be able more 80 degree games in December in Texas, but you know, we're actually pretty used to lousy weather up here. We're going to be fine.

Also a bonus? I know good places to go for game watching in some of our new conference cities. Joe Sensors in Minneapolis has a fond place in my heart, thanks in no small part to the fierce contingent of Nebraska fans that regularly went there. They have a band, pumping out the team songs and generally contributing to the fun Go Big Red atmosphere. Admittedly, you do need to get there at least an hour before game time to get a decent seat, but the food is okay, so no worries there. Like it really kills you to endure extra sports with the Minnesotans on game day, don'tcha know?

Anyway . . . who's excited for the new season ahead? Me, me, me . . . and it's only June ;-)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Two Flavors Of Awesome: Zombie and Chocolate

It has been a very busy, busy couple of weeks of traveling. It's like I've adopted a new theme song based on the number of miles I've tacked on the car:

The worst part about that song? Half the places he names in that song are places I've been or are going just in the last three months. And that includes Alaska.

So it's not exactly a surprise that I'm getting a little travel weary over here. Fortunately, in all this running around, I've discovered several slices of awesome out there in the world. Some of them will get their own listings and just forgive me if they are out of order. Two, however, I feel the need to mention here.

First, the flavor that eats you: Zombie.

I was gifted with an audiobook of World War Z, which is about a zombie plague that threatens world existence. Just stop laughing now, because it's so good it's unbelievable. Told in a series of interviews by different character voices (including Mark Hamill aka Luke Skywalker and Alan Alda from M*A*S*H) the audiobook describes the near end of the world thanks to an outbreak of zombies.

While not a hysterically funny book, it is subtly amusing and very thought provoking. You can even play "Would I have survived?" with the risk calculator on the official website. I'm only at 43%.

World War Z was written by Max Brooks (son of Mel Brooks) and the movie version is supposed to be out in 2012. Fun trivia? The guy who bought the rights to this, thinking it would be a good movie, is Brad Pitt. But whatever about him, right? You need something good to listen to or read this summer, I'm pegging you with World War Z, and if you see me I give you permission to borrow my copy of the audiobook.

Next, the flavor you eat: Pretzel M&Ms

I showed up in North Carolina and was presented with a bit of chocolate salty crunchy deliciousness the likes of which I had never seen before.

Pretzel M&Ms

I don't even know if you can buy these in Nebraska. But so help me, I will find out. Writers need chocolate to function . . . or at least this one does, and the better the chocolate, the better I work. The bag of these that I sampled is sadly empty, so this post will close with a small plea: Somebody find me more of these!