Sunday, August 3, 2008

Visually Insignificant Stationary Astroplane

Tomorrow morning we plan to leave for Baguio for a couple of days. The main reason for the trip is to take our birth certificates and marriage license to the Federal Express office so we can securely mail them home. This was a major snag in obtaining our long-term visas.

If you are familiar with my favorite cartoon character, Calvin, you have heard of Calvinball. Calvinball is a game of speed, strength, pain tolerance, and wits. In Calvinball, one must do more than just move the ball down the field while avoiding the very athletic tiger, Hobbes. Most sports involve something of that sort. In Calvinball one must also be thinking; Calvinball is also about keeping up with the rules. Because unlike most games, the rules in Calvin ball are ever-changing. Whoever is the most creative in their time of need may come out the winner despite the present circumstance and the outcome expected by the rules of the game. An appropriately timed twist of the rules and the soon-to-be-defeated can suddenly dominate the field.

Enter the international version of Calvinball - VISA. For those of you who have never stepped onto the field of play, VISA is an acronym for Visually Insignificant Stationary Astroplane. This of course means nothing, but that is the way the game is played. Having known a number of people who regularly play this game in countries around the globe, it seems the game is played in a similar manner wherever you go. You strategize and plan. You read the rules. You call all the right people and get all the right information. Then the whistle blows and the game begins.

This is where the pain begins. My hero Calvin cannot outrun Hobbes the tiger. Without Calvin's incredible imagination - granted by the cartoon genius, Bill Watterson, who brought Calvin into being - Calvin would become tiger bait everytime. But Calvin is often able to stay a step ahead of Hobbes because he can change the rules to grant himself a nick-of-time advantage. We are not Calvin. One unchanging rule in the game of Visually Insignificant Stationary Astroplane is that Hobbes is the only one who can change the rules. This rule must be encoded in some international regulatory document more revered than the Geneva Convention, because it seems every nation follows it. (If only the 10 Commandments could make it to that document.) Of course, many of those I know who engage in Calvinball of this sort do have a creative genius working outside of the squares of the comic strip - a much better ally than even Bill Watterson. Yet until the point is scored, we Calvins, must continue to try to outsmart our Hobbes and the ever-changing rules.

So here is where the game stands. The aforementioned documents need to be certified by the Philippine Consulate in Chicago. Prior to leaving home we had contacted the Consulate in Chicago to ask if there was anything we could do to start the visa process. At that time we were told that for the visa we were applying, we needed to do everything in Manila. There was nothing their office could do to help us. Once we got to Manila however, the documents were not official enough. Nothing could be done in Manila to resolve this situation. Our last stop in Manila was the US Embassy. It seems our documents must be made officially official in...Chicago. Once it became clear that no one in Manila could help us, we hopped a bus to continue the trip toward Bontoc. (We'll call it a time-out.)

Once we got settled, we looked into the rules a bit more. Time-out is over and now we need to make the 6 hour trip to Baguio to mail our documents home so that someone can take them to the Philippines Consulate in CHICAGO. Then they will be mailed back to us so we can make the 12 hour trip back to the Calvinball field in Manila.

We intend to use this Calvinball excursion to also purchase a few things that we cannot get in Bontoc.

Of course all of this is subject to change given the steady rains we have had for the past few days. (It is an extension of Calvinball after all) Sometimes the rain causes mudslides that close the road for a couple days.


  1. I remember the VISA game well with Maya. Would have had her home 4 months earlier if it hadn't been for that "fun"! Good luck and safe travels.

  2. We love the VISA game!!! It keeps us humble, eh!? We're with you guys, praying for safe mailing to and from; and we were told the exact same thing... nothing is ever official enough- a stamp is literally priceless! Bless you guys!!!

  3. we love the VISA game! Such a true description... is anything ever official enough??? Surprising how literally priceless a simple little stamp can be... argh! We're with you guys!!!

  4. Hello my heroes!
    I pray that the God of peace would surround you in your "game."
    Count it all joy, and all that stuff!
    I hope that you don't get "down" in the midst of the "stuff" of life.
    Hugs all around!

  5. GAME ON!!!!! I'll be a sidelines cheerleader . . .