Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The latest on Victor not visiting the U.S.

As I had decided previously, we applied for a U.S. tourist visa again. Twice in the last five months, actually. After all, I think we have a compelling case:

Why Victor will not overstay a tourist visa and will return to Mexico:

I am a U.S. citizen. Victor and I have been in a long-distance relationship since 1993. I come to Yucatán multiple times every year to be with Victor.

If Victor wanted to stay in the U.S., we would apply for a K-1 fiancé visa and get married.

But his mother and other family are still in Yucatán, and he is not yet ready to retire, so he does not yet want to move to the U.S.

Victor’s salary is irrelevant. I pay for our trips together, within México and internationally (Costa Rica, Canada, Argentina, Netherlands, South Africa, Guatemala). If Victor receives a tourist visa, I will pay for his travels to and within the U.S., including his room and board. I paid for his visa application. I give Victor additional money when I visit.

Victor's hoped-for trips to the U.S. will be brief, 2-3 weeks, each devoted to visiting and sightseeing. No work.

All we want is to be able to exchange visits, instead of my always coming to Yucatán, as I've been doing now for more than 22 years.

Despite the visa application being many pages long and asking about all kinds of things, there is no place to insert the above information. For our first 2015 application, I sent the note as an email to the consulate. I received a rote non-response, including "... your daughter-in-law must demonstrate to the interviewing consular officer... " WTF?!

When we arrived for Victor's interview, I asked whether I could join him, and was told no, only a potential employer could go. Victor answered questions, but was not assertive about saying more. He was told his salary was insufficient and he would not get a visa.

For our next attempt (yesterday), I gave Victor multiple signed copies of the above note, with firm instructions to insist that the interviewer read it, and if they did not, to insist again after the next question and hand over another copy. He did that, repeatedly, and the woman refused to look at it! Grrrr. Of course, all other information being the same, Victor was again refused a visa.

So let me recap the stupid parts of the U.S. visa process:

  • They wrongly assume all married couples must live together.
  • They wrongly assume their lengthy visa application captures all relevant information.
  • There is no space on the visa application for additional information.
  • They won't let another relevant party join the interview.
  • They won't accept additional information by email or on paper.

If you know someone in the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) who will actually hear me out, please let me know!

Update, August 2016: As commenters below and others suggested, I contacted my political representatives. No luck.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Autographs - Kittredge Cherry and Audrey Lockwood

Kitt Cherry and Audrey Lockwood are my nearby neighbors and friends.

This was Kitt's first book, and intersects with several of my interests.

(Index of autographs)

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Faith and reason are not compatible

In response to this op-ed column by a Catholic bishop, I sent a letter to the L.A. Times this week (not published):

I cannot agree with Barron that "faith and reason are complementary and compatible paths toward the knowledge of truth."

Faith accepts supernatural answers, discouraging people from even considering scientific investigation.

Faith precludes doubt; it's impossible to argue with someone who believes they've talked to God.

Society encourages people to give undeserved deference to religious beliefs.

Faith is inimical to scientific inquiry.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Autographs - Michael Hiltzik

Michael Hiltzik was autographing his new book this week, but kindly agreed to autograph this old one for me.

I bought the book when it came out (1999) because of my own time at Xerox PARC. This reminds me that I should write a blog post about those amazing years.

(Index of autographs)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Lassen - Shasta (June 2015)

Mt. Shasta

Burney Falls

Link to more photos.

This was another Road Scholar tour.

There was plenty to see and do in the area, much more than I knew about. The one problem we had was that the van forced on us by the small size of our group was a bit cramped, and not everyone could see everything when we were on the road.

We were based in Redding. I didn't know how hot Redding typically is. It was over 100° on several days. Fortunately, we went elsewhere almost every day.

I very much liked the time we spent in Lassen Volcanic National Park. Although we spent most of a day there, we saw fewer than half of the sights. I wanted to see more.

Because I had toured Hoover Dam in the past, our tour of Shasta Dam wasn't very interesting for me. I liked our time on Shasta Lake, in Lake Shasta Caverns, and on Mt. Shasta itself.

Turtle Bay (animals and botanical gardens and "Mindbender Mansion" exhibit), Sundial Bridge, and walking a portion of the Sacramento River Trail were all great fun. I have long admired Santiago Calatrava's work, but I didn't realize that one of his bridges was in Northern California. Burney Falls was very good, too. I wasn't into Weaverville much.

This trip began just two days after my trip to Boston and Maine! Happily, on this trip I ate a little less, walked a good deal more, and did not put on more weight.

Maine (June 2015)

Thunder Hole, Acadia National Park

Bibbed and ready for lobster

Link to more photos.

The forecast was not very good -- rainy for most of the week I would be there, but in fact, the fog and rain let up after a few days. True, we couldn't see much on our day in Acadia National Park, but after that, things got better.

It was this tour.

In Boston, we went to "Gospel Night" with the Boston Pops. I would have preferred a different concert, but it was OK. The next day, I passed up Quincy Market and a harbor tour to have lunch and walk with a high school friend and his wife. We hadn't seen each other since high school.

I would have spent more time in Maine, especially given the rainy first couple of days. We only saw the southern half of the coast of the large state. I did enjoy what we saw.

Of course, I again ate too much and exercised too little.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Guatemala - May 2015

Victor & Rodney at a temple at Tikal

All-white peacock at Hotel Atitlan

Link to more photos

We took a ten-day tour of Guatemala. Tikal had long been on my list, this tour just fit within my already booked trip to Yucatán, and although it was almost too late, we were able to sign up for the tour.

It went very well, and despite a rainy forecast, there was hardly any rain. We saw Tikal and other Mayan ruins, several cities and villages, lakes, mountains, volcanoes, and interesting hotels.

Our tour guide gave lessons in Guatemala history, politics, and current events. When that was too much, there was the scenery.

As usual, I ate too much and exercised too little, but other than that, we had a great time.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

My bookmark collection

(Click the image to enlarge it.)

I've collected bookmarks from independent bookstores for decades. I've scanned them all (over 1000!) and put them in web photo albums. In the albums, click on any bookmark to see it larger.

If you're a bookstore lover, I'm sure you recognize some of these, including many stores that have since closed.

Someday, I hope to put all of these scanned images in a proper website, searchable by name or city or state.

Of course, I began by simply saving bookstore bookmarks that I picked up when I visited bookstores. I still seek out bookstores when I travel.

In the 1970s and 1980s, I began writing to bookstores I heard about or found in the American Booksellers Association online directory. I would send them a self-addressed stamped envelope and ask for a bookmark. In those years, every bookstore had a store bookmark.

Sadly, there are fewer and fewer independent bookstores these days, and many no longer have store bookmarks. Now I email asking if they have a store bookmark and, if so, would they send me one if I send them a SASE.

It shouldn't have surprised me, but it did, when, in 2009, I found a website devoted to bookmarks, including a list of bookmark collectors interested in exchanging bookmarks with others! Of course, I added myself to that list, and since then, have exchanged bookmarks with folks in England, Spain, and Australia, as well as the U.S.

If you have bookstore bookmarks that I don't already have, I would love to hear from you! If you want to send them to me, here's my postal address:

Rodney Hoffman
P.O. Box 41768
Los Angeles, CA 90041

Monday, April 20, 2015

Autographs - A. Scott Berg

I received this book as a holiday gift in 1979. I enjoyed it, but I thought it a big long and too uncritical.

At the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books this past weekend, I attended one panel with three biographers, including Berg. The panelists autographed books afterward. Berg was surprised to see this very early paperback edition.

(Index of autographs)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Las Vegas, Valley of Fire and Death Valley (March 2015)

Furnace Creek Ranch, where we stayed

I took this one-week tour last month. It started with two nights in Las Vegas, including most of a day at nearby Valley of Fire State Park. We then moved to Death Valley. We hiked every day.

I hadn't been in Las Vegas in more than 20 years, so I arrived early in the day. With the extra time, I walked to the Strip, of course, spending time at the Bellagio and then stopping in several other stores. Only when the tour group first got together that evening did I learn that we were to spend the next evening at the Bellagio!

The weather was not great while we were in Nevada. Much cooler than normal, often windy, and it rained off and on while we were at Valley of Fire Park.

Three photos from Las Vegas and two from Valley of Fire.

The weather was better in Death Valley, and we had lots of good hikes. 19 photos

Our bus driver had a cap with included spiky gray hair. I borrowed it for this photo:

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Dance and Doodles

(Click to enlarge the double image)

Specifically, Bill T. Jones dance and my doodles.

Recently, I was excited to see that Bill T. Jones was going to appear at the L.A. Central Library as part of the ALOUD series. As a Library Foundation member, I receive advance notice of these events, and I jumped to reserve a seat. The next day, I was dismayed to realize that I would be out of town on that date, and I reluctantly canceled my reservation.

Of course, he was in town because the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company was going to be performing at UCLA that weekend. I would miss that, too. Sigh. (I've been a fan for many years, starting well before Zane died.)

But this reminded me about the last time I had seen the company, also at UCLA, some years ago. While watching one work (I don't remember what work), I had been struck by a sudden recognition: The movements reminded me of my doodling! I saw some of the same sharp twists, turns, and angles in both.

Link to a 2:32 video of the company in action.

Link to a selection of my doodles. (It's a l-o-n-g webpage, and it might be slow to load. Sorry about that. It's not quite what I wanted, but it's all I can manage using Google Sites right now.)