Our USCIS Interviewer Recommended AOS for Yufang!

Yufang and I just got back from our mini-trip to Cleveland for Yufang’s AOS interview, and the USCIS interviewer recommended her change of status! The only problem was with the medical documents, which were filled out incorrectly by the doctor in Stow. The interviewer told us that another couple interviewing today went to the same doctor and have the same problem with their forms. He told us that he would contact the doctor to have the paperwork corrected. If the doctor for whatever reason doesn’t release the information to the interviewer, then we will have to get the information for USCIS. Nevertheless, the big hurdle has been passed, and Yufang should receive her temporary green card in a month or so!

We stayed in the Crowne Plaza City Center Hotel last night, because it is right next to the Federal Building where we were scheduled for Yufang’s AOS interview at 8:00am this morning. I walked around last night taking pictures near the hotel:

And behind the hotel is the Federal Building:

And the city at night:

It was rainy this morning, so I didn’t get to take any pictures around Cleveland as I had hoped. Maybe next time . . .

Neil Gaiman in Cleveland, October 4

James just gave me a heads-up on Neil Gaiman’s visit to Cleveland on October 4, 2009 as part of the Cleveland Public Library’s Writer and Reader series. Here are the details from Gaiman’s website:

Cleveland Public Library’s Writers & Readers series presents Neil Gaiman

Sunday, 2:00pm

FREE

Where:

Cleveland Public Library’s Main Library Building

Louis Stokes Wing Auditorium

According to the Writers and Readers Series website, Neil will be joining a number of other authors in the series. Read the full list of authors here.

See you there!

Cleveland Public Library’s Writers & Readers series presents Neil Gaiman
Sunday, 2:00pm
FREE
Where:
Cleveland Public Library’s Main Library Building

Louis Stokes Wing Auditori

The Utopian Violinist and Conductor, André Rieu

Tonight, Yufang and I drove to Cleveland to hear André Rieu and His Johann Strauss Orchestra.  We had third row seats in the Cav’s arena, so we really got to see all of the antics Rieu and his band put on while belting out waltzes and old standards.  There was a permeable energy throughout the arena when Rieu and his band were performing.  To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I noticed that 99% of the audience were at least 30 years older than me.  However, the audience tapped into the vibrant spirit of the music, and there were folks dancing in the aisles before the evening was done.

The reason that I’m mentioning the performance on my blog is that André Rieu is a utopian.  Despite lackluster applause from the primarily Northeast Ohio audience when he made his first dedication, he pledged “The Exodus Song” for the children of the world.  Rieu said that he, as should we all, desire a future of peace where children can play free from harm.  The song obviously carries a Kantian cosmopolitan theme in that the “land” or Earth belongs to each and every person.

And to close the regular program, Rieu invited the audience to imagine “a place that is no place,” a future of peace.  With Star Trek-like star scape sliding by on the projection screens and the star field behind the orchestra lit up, he introduced “Ode an die Freude” or the “Ode to Joy” by Friedrich Schiller and Ludwig van Beethoven as a song about brotherhood and coming together.  He asked us “to step into the future” with him as he and his orchestra performed the moving song.  You can watch an earlier arrangement Rieu performed of this with only two sopranos here, but tonight we were treated to a version with his three tenors and three sopranos.

If you have the opportunity to hear (and see) André Rieu perform, I definitely recommend you doing so.

PS  You can find André Rieu on Twitter here.

ICFA 2009, To the Orlando Airport and Flight Back to Kent

This morning, I got an early start and hit the hotel Starbucks for coffee and their yummy banana nut bread.  While I was there, I spoke with Andy Duncan briefly before I returned to my room to pack and head off for the airport.

I had to wrap some of my books in newsprint to keep them safe from bumps and bruises in my carry on duffle bag.  Considering that I didn’t go to the awards dinner, I still made out with a great selection of bought and free books.  I purchased Nalo Hopkinson and Uppinder Mehan’s So Long Been Dreaming anthology (signed by Hopkinson), New Dimensions 1 edited by Robert Silverberg, New Dimensions 2 edited by Robert Silverberg, and The Best SF Stories from New Worlds 6 edited by Michael Moorcock.  I received for free Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine (September 2007–includes Ted Chiang’s The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate), Brian Aldiss’ New Arrivals, Old Encounters, Suzy McKee Charnas’ Dorothea Dreams, and Philip K. Dick’s Voices From the Street.  I’m glad that ICFA has such a great book room, and I really appreciate the donated books for conference participants.  

While I waited outside for the airport shuttle, I met the SF author Terry Bisson.  We talked about teaching SF for awhile, and then we boarded the shuttle.  After settling in at the back of the bus, James Patrick Kelly joined us for the short jaunt to the airport.

Luckily, I had enough time to browse around the Kennedy Space Center gift shop where I picked up a NASA baseball hat and some t-shirts (I discovered when I got home that their sizes run large, so be warned).  While I was in line, Dewitt ambled in, and we talked awhile about the conference and the impending SFRA conference in June.  He and I both have to get our proposals to Lisa and Doug before the end of the month.  I don’t want to give away his paper idea, but I think it is brilliant for the theme and location of the conference.

I was able to use some miles to upgrade my seat from economy to First Class (making this my second foray into the airline class privileged section of the aircraft).  While sitting there and looking outside from my first row window seat, I jotted down these notes:

I’m sitting in First Class, seat 1F right now, writing my post in my Moleskin reporters pad.  Outside the Boeing 737-800 I see so much activity–the activity at all major airports.  The ground crew members are dutifully slinking along under the concrete magnified heat of the Spring Florida sun.  Even thought I’ve seen the magnificent work of the ground crew on many occasions, it never ceases to awe that they facilitate the safe and efficient travel of multitudes of people crapping to get from here to there.  I am thankful for the care of the airline ground crews as well as the professional and dedicated efforts of pilots, and stewards and stewardesses.  

During our initial climb, it is so quiet except for the constant high pitch drone of the engines behind me.  The jet engines sound like muffled remote controlled nitro-fueled cars.  Actually, it is an enjoyable sound.

I see that there is a nuclear power plant near the airport–that would make for a fun ICFA outing in the future.

During the flight back to Cleveland, I saw four nuclear power plants, the Golden Isles Speedway (a dirt race track between Brunswick and Hortense, Georgia), and a number of other airplanes above, below, and to the side of our path through the sky.  In fact, I probably took as many pictures of the ground from the plane as I took pictures at the conference.  Thankfully there were such clear skies.

Thinking back over the past few days, I can honestly say that I had a good time in Orlando.  Ritch was an excellent roommate, and I’m glad to have had the opportunity to catch up with A.P., Gerard, Melissa, and everyone else.  All of the SFRA conference fliers, brochures, and bracelets were eagerly taken away, and all of The Postnational Fantasy CFPs were whisked away.  I am glad that I got to talk to so many folks about The Postnational Fantasy project, and get feedback on the publication process from others.  Of course, there are many things that were left undone, and folks that I would have liked to talk with, but the time compression built into a conference is the joy and bane of academic meetings.

I know this was a rambling post–thanks for bearing with me.  I’m ecstatic to be home with Yufang and Miao Miao.  There have been naps, playing, vegetarian dining, and World of Warcraft in the hours following Yufang picking me up from the airport this afternoon.  Tomorrow it’s back to work, but I’m going to hold on to ICFA’s fantasyland time just a little bit longer.