Friday, February 29, 2008

Did I mention I'm back?

In talking to my father-in-law, it became clear to me that I did not tell everybody that I am back in the USA. I came back on Wednesday, 02/05/2008.

I want to say for the record that the trip was under God's care. For example, just getting on to the plane was a feat.

I had found out my need for a plane ticket and passport on Friday night. My passport had expired, so I called for an emergency passport. There is an after-hours duty office in Washington, D.C., and she arranged the next available appointment for me, 7 A.M. Monday.

My father died Saturday morning my time. Still, I needed to get there A.S.A.P. for my mother's sake. Cathy helped me pack, I took time off from work and drove to L.A. to arrive before 7 A.M.

That's when I saw my first clear sign that God was watching over me. The L.A. passport office was closed! It wasn't a holiday; they were closed for training. However, the will-call window would process my passport since it had expired (they would not process new and lost passports for a couple of other people).

Then there was another difficulty. I only had a Chinese death certificate. The agent dissappeared with my dad's death certificate and came back less than 10 minutes later; it just happened that one of the employees (who they did not expect to be there) is Chinese and could read the certificate.

Next hurdle; they wanted a ticket to show proof of travel. I explained that I did not want to buy a non-refundable ticket that weekend (and, given that they were not actually open, they said they understood). The agent was so very kind; she gave me her cell phone number so I would not have to navigate the phone system. So, I was able to call China Airlines and got a ticket faxed to me, and I got my passport in time, before the passport agency closed at 11:30.

Getting the governent to renew an expired passort when they are not open for business? That's a acti of God. :-)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

So, what's with the cops?

Every day, when I get off work, I expect a call from my wife. We both get out of work at 5 PM, so one of us will call the other. This Friday, Cathy went home and her phone was on "buzz." Instead, my neighbors called to tell me the cops were at the apartments.

As it turns out, my mother-in-law (Rhonda) had slapped her ex-boyfriend (let's call him Guy#1, who is also my tenant in #3) and he called the cops. They were dating, but broke up during the week I was in Taiwan; it wasn't a tidy breakup. The breakup was over another man who was attempting to court Rhonda. Apparently, Rhonda used Guy#1's computer, and someone either Guy#1 or his daughter read some correspondence with Guy#2, and things fell apart from there.

The reason Rhonda slapped him, however, was because somebody (don't know who) wrote to Guy#2 and told him some lies about Rhonda. Guy#2 stops writing Rhonda, she finds out why, and she slaps Guy#1 as he gets out of the car; she slaps him hard. He, in response, shoves her on her butt and calls the cops.

Anyway, nobody pressed charges, but things have been tense around the apartments. *sigh* My life is a soap opera.

Internet Health Report

This is a cool tool for us geeks. Internet slow? You're sure it is not your fault? Check your ISP's performance at Internet Health Report.

Our office's Internet was partially sucky this morning. We concluded it was our ISP, XO, was having problems. While waiting on hold, we confirmed our suspicions.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Great... my dad's bank is owned by Wachovia

Wachovia bought the bank my father used several years ago. Now I read that Wachovia knowningly did business with people who committed wire fraud and scammed people. Great.

VIA Internal Docs Prove Wachovia Knew About Telemarketer Rip-Offs All Along
SOURCE "Papers Show Wachovia Knew of Thefts"
[New York Times]
RELATED "infoUSA Marketed Lists Of "Gullible" Seniors To Known Scammers, Wachvoia Processed The Unsigned Checks"

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Update from Taiwan: All is Well

God has indeed been with me on this trip, and I thank you for your prayers. It is a long post, so I have bolded the essential elements, but feel free to read it all, of course.

My departing plane was scheduled for Monday at 11:10 PM but was delayed for one hour. It took 14 hours 30 minutes, so it was about 3 PM on Tuesday in California when I landed. It was already 7 A.M. Wednesday morning when I arrived in Taiwan. Mom picked me up at the airport and we took the taxi to the cafe my mom manages. I called Cathy, of course. I call her daily when it is 9 P.M. in California.

Wednesday in Taiwan was spent reacquainting ourselves. We decided we had to collect some documentation before we took other actions. It wasn't until about 7 P.M. that I got to my parents' house and started leafing through dad's paperwork. My father seems to throw nothing away, and by 9 P.M. I had simply run out of steam; my mom is sleeping at the nearby cafe, above the store, and I slept there, too. Mom insisted that I get a back massage first, and I must say that it helped my aching muscles recover from the trip. I got to bed at 10:00 P.M.

Thursday morning I woke at 3 A.M., took a brief walk, and got back to sleep until 7:30 A.M. After sharing a quick breakfast with mom, I went back to the house and located all the remainder of the necessary paperwork for our visit to the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT). AIT had called mom over the weekend after I called, and mom was to simply do a walk-in instead of setting an appointment. We walked in that afternoon and filled out the necessary paperwork, thus acquiring the official English death report. That will be sent to whatever agency dispenses my father's pension and will automatically stop the deposits. I got to bed at 10:00 P.M. again.

Friday morning I woke at 4:30 A.M. and was unable to get back to sleep. I checked on the house, let out their dog, and read the paper. A little after noon we went to the crematory and made final arrangements for the disposition of my father's remains. Legally, an available family member needs to identify the body and witness the transportation of the body to the furnace. I got some time to do a brief, solitary memorial while they prepared the furnace. Mom does not handle such things well, so I took her home for lunch and returned for the actual cremation. I witnessed the closing of the casket and accompanied his body to the furnace. I was able to read from John 11 and 2 Corinthians 5 as my father's body was committed to the flames. After I took possession, I dropped the urn off at the house and returned to my mom at the cafe. We had dinner, then mom sent me to a foot massage, and I got to bed about 1:00 A.M.

It was my father's wish to have his remains placed in a U.S. national cemetery. I hope to bring my brothers together at some point for a memorial service. I have an outline in my head already.

Saturday marked the day I got accustomed to the time change. I got up at 7:30 A.M., took care of mom's dog, and got breakfast. We went to visit my maternal grandmother in a town named Pusin. We rode the bus for 4 hours there and visited with grandma. She lives with my second oldest uncle and his wife. We had to leave after only 90 minutes, but it was good to see her again, alive and well at 80. It took another 4 hours to get back.

That brings things current. I need to determine my return date (probably Tuesday evening) and get a few scraps of information from mom. I also want to gather the documents and photos which have suddenly become precious to me; anything my mom does not intend to retain I am boxing up to take with me.

This has been a good trip, thus far. I found the necessary documentation, determined my mom's needs, and was able to take care of the immediate business of my father's death. My mother and I have taken the first steps to being a family again. God has been with me every step of the way. I need, next, to return with minimal incident to my wife's side. Please pray for my safe return. Thank you! (11:54 PM Saturday in Taiwan)