Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Please be patient...

I just got home from Kazakhstan and I have nearly 600 e-mails to wade through, plus the battery on the car my mother-in-law left here for me is dead as a hammer...might be a while before I get to you if you've been trying to contact me.

Praying for Katrina victims

I have lots of adoption updates, but having gotten back to America after five days without internet, I have just been catching up on what has happened with Katrina. My Cajun friend Randy has fifteen refugee relatives and three large dogs in his house in Houston at the moment.

Obviously Kazakhstan's orphans have no monopoly on human suffering.

Thoughts and prayers to the victims of Katrina.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

"London Town" Dept

The Princess forwards me this link to "You Know You're from London When..." I particularly like, "You wouldn't want to live anywhere else until you get married," since (a) the Princess sent this on to me, and (b) she announced while we were still living in Westminster that she would like to live in London as long as she wasn't married.

We Americans who have lived in London form a sort of secret club, you know. I was in the middle of an e-mail conversation with a friend who's currently in London and who doesn't have to be told where the Texas Embassy is, when I tossed in a quote from "London Homesick Blues," with which ditty my family sings along enthusiastically whenever we hear it on the radio here in Texas, because it makes us homesick for London. This is not, I think, the use to which Mr. Nunn intended it to be put when he wrote it; but hey, call us deconstructionists, I guess: the text has the meaning the listener assigns to it and if the original author doesn't like it he can go soak his head. (I could use any of several expressions more appropriate to a Londoner but this is intended to be a reasonably family-friendly blog.)

At any rate, I casually tossed in the line, "And where in the world is that English girl / I promised I would meet on the third floor?" And my friend fired back something like, "You have no idea how wonderful it is to know somebody else who actually gets that joke." Ah, but I do, I do, because now I know somebody else who gets that joke, viz., her.

Friday, August 19, 2005

"Brilliant Legal Insight of the Day" Dept

I never link to The Onion for reasons of kid safety, but must pass on a classic (and of course totally made-up) quote from one of their stable of persons-on-the-street. (If you're not familiar with The Onion's "What Do You Think?" department, the six pictures are always exactly the same, but the names and professions change each week.) In this case, the question of the day is, "Two jurors in the Michael Jackson molestation trial said they regret acquitting Jackson, and both now have pending book deals. What do you think?" Meil Serven, Director of Definition, gives as his opinion, "This is what happens when a sleazy loonball is tried by a jury of his peers."

(I also liked the opinion of Daniel Hopkins, Stenographer: "Shouldn't they have known that Jackson was guilty before the trial began?")

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Department of Inner Peace

Sally's godmother Ann Messer passes on the following advice, and you can follow it with confidence because it comes from not just one but two doctors: Dr. Phil (okay, I grant you he's his profession's Geraldo Rivera) and Dr. Ann herself. I intend to put it into practice just as soon as I'm through posting.

Ann tells me:

...By following this simple advice I heard on a Dr. Phil show, I have finally found inner peace.

Dr. Phil proclaimed that the way to achieve inner peace is to finish all the things you have started. So I looked around my house to see anything I might have started and not finished; and before leaving the house this morning I finished off a bottle of Merlot, a bottle of white Zinfandel, a bottle of Baileys, a bottle of Kahlua, a package of Oreos, the remainder of both Prozac and Valium prescriptions, the rest of the cheesecake, some saltines and a box of chocolates. You have no idea how freakin' good I feel.

Please pass this on to anyone you feel is in need of inner peace...

Sunday, August 07, 2005

On our way

Hey everybody. This is Kasia (Kenny's 14 year old daughter) posting for him. My parents are in Chicago right now and are soon to board a plane to London and from there to Almaty. So, thank you for your prayers and thoughts.

Friday, August 05, 2005

"Technology Question of the Day" Dept

On her mostly-poetry blog, Biotress pauses to muse, "Again, I have to ask why doesn't the spell-checker this site provides recognize the word blog?"

Bob's a conservative, Molly's a liberal...and Michelle plays favorites

Michelle Malkin, bless her biased little heart, has just noticed that conservative Bob Novak has shown us "the right way to apologize." As it happens, so did Molly Ivins not so long ago; in fact, Molly's apology (scroll halfway down) was considerably superior to Bob's as far as I can tell. But Bob is a conservative, and Molly is a liberal. So here is Michelle's reaction to Bob's quality apology:

Every political figure in Washington should commit the Novak apology to memory for future use--no ifs, ands, or buts. Contrast Novak's unequivocal words of contrition with the sorry weasel non-apology apologies of...[etc., etc.]. Whee, a good apology from a conservative -- what a golden opportunity to take a shot at some liberals!

But here, just in part, is Michelle's reaction to Molly's truly first-rate apology:

Well, good for Molly. This is quite remarkable and welcome. Now, if she had only been as humble to conservative essayist/author Florence King for her serial plagiarism of King's work... Whee, a good apology from a liberal -- what a golden opportunity to take a shot at...well, at the liberal herself.

My own reaction to Molly's apology is pretty much the same as Michelle's reaction to Novak's, even though, as I've said before, it's hard to imagine any subject in the whole wide world on which Molly and I agree. (You can read my reaction, along with a complete fisking of Michelle's gracelessly bitchy response to Molly, here.) It seems that Michelle and I were raised with very similar standards for what constitutes a good apology and what doesn't. But apparently we were raised with very different expectations on whether we were expected to offer as much respect, and as much due praise when merited, to those with whom we might disagree as we offer to those who take our side.

My respect for Michelle continues, alas, to wane. I think she needs to hang out a lot more with the Anchoress. Or else, if Michelle's going to insist on a bitch persona rather than on a reasonable-and-generously-likable persona, she should go whole hog and gleefully relish it with the flair of a (not kid-friendly) SondraK. She could, of course, go for the hilariously-funny-far-right-wing-über-bitch persona -- but in that game, who has a hope of competing with Ann Coulter? Michelle, you can be so very likeable when you try -- how about trying more often?

ADOPTION UPDATE: Frankly, not much rattles us anymore...

[whew] It started to look bad there, yesterday. Our visa rep (the Assistant Stork's husband, Steve) went to the Kazakh Embassy to pick up our visas, and whoops! no visa. Seems the Ministry of Education had given our confirmation number to Marina, but hadn't yet gotten around to sending it to the embassy. Since there's a one-day turnaround, and this was already Thursday, that pretty much means no visa 'til Monday, right? And our tickets are for Sunday night, so isn't it time to panic?

Ah, but we've been here before. Those of you who were along for the wild ride that was our 2003 adoption, may remember that pretty much exactly the same thing happened to us then. But the folks at the Assistant Stork get along very well with the Kazakhs at the embassy, which is one of the reasons you pay them to handle all that visa stuff instead of doing it yourself. We remember quite clearly that in 2003, Steve actually went to the embassy on a day when it was nominally closed to the public, and the visa dude made out two visas while he waited, and we made our flight. In fact, back then it didn't even faze anybody to discover that the embassy was temporarily out of the adoption visas we were supposed to have -- Mr. Embassy Dude simply took a transit visa, marked out the original number, scribbled a new number in by hand, gave it to Steve and said firmly, "Tell them not to let anyone give them any trouble." And we made it to Kazakhstan and came back with Sally and Rusty.

So the news that the registration number hadn't gotten there in time, hardly discombobulated us at all. Why waste energy getting upset when it'll probably work out anyway? And sure enough, about an hour or so Dessie called me: the embassy had received the number this morning, and once again, Mr. Embassy Dude had made out our visas while Steve waited.

So I just really don't see anything else, assuming FedEx doesn't let Tom Hanks fly the plane tonight, to keep us from getting on our own plane come Sunday.

I want to say again that we've been absolutely flooded with supportive e-mails, and while I intend to personally answer every one, here's a great big general-purpose thank-you to all of you in case I haven't thanked you individually yet.

UPDATE: I've heard more of the story from The Boss. It seems that Steve got to the embassy and the first thing Mr. Visa Dude said was, "Our system is down and I can't issue any visas."

"Uh-oh," thought Steve, "guess that does it for the Pierces." But then Mr. Visa Dude remembered something.

"Actually, I did get one visa issued early this morning before the system went down, because we had been warned to look for this family's visa in particular. Are you looking for the visas for the Baker family?"

For a moment hope had risen, but only to be dashed again. "No," said Steve regretfully, "I need visas for the Pierces."

"Oh, yes, that's right, the Pierces, that was it!"

You know how it is...all those American names sound alike.

But we got our visa, and we no longer have any doubt that we're meant to go to Kazakhstan. So off we go, Sunday night at 4:30 in the afternoon.

This adoption update was preceded by this one and is followed by this one.

ADOPTION UPDATE: Going to Karaganda

I'm not sure that we will be able to do both the adoption and the youth house, but at this point I'm confident that -- if nothing else bad is about to happen that we don't know about -- we'll be on that plane Sunday. I've reached the point of being confident that the right thing to do is to go to Kazakhstan...though I still couldn't tell you what will happen when we get there.

In other words, we'll get on that plane. Whether and when we'll bring those girls back, Бог знает. (That is, God only knows.)

I just have to say, I've been humbled by the amount of support we've received. You must understand that all the e-mails saying, "We're praying for you" matter just as much to us as, say, the e-mail from my buddy in Austin who is considering helping us out by paying the $155 traffic ticket I recently picked up en route to Houston...which would be a nice gesture of solidarity from my buddy since it would help not only my financial situation, but my marital situation as well. (See, I sort of mislaid the, never mind, long story, not adoption-related).

So thank you guys very much.


P.S. I'm teasing about the marital situation saint of a wife forgave me practically immediately.

This adoption update was preceded by this one, and is followed by this one.

"How Not To, Um, Experience Unpleasantness at the Hands of the Police" Dept

Chris Rock is hilarious.
Chris Rock is insightful.
Chris Rock is instructive.
Chris Rock is quite astonishingly foul-mouthed.
My children are not allowed to watch this example of the quintessential Chris Rock.

Listen, I mean it, this is as non-Baptist as it comes. You have been warned, in spades. (Yipes! Perhaps I should rephrase that last bit...)

"This Is How You Do It, People" Dept

Okay, so, no offense to your average person doing the sign language during the praise and worship music, but seems to me that work of this quality would fill some pews...

"And a Nice Spot of Adultery Does Wonders for Your Marriage, Too" Dept

To comment on Mr. Ellis's parental selflessness would be superfluous.

Hat tip: SondraK (whose site, I warn you, is not entirely kid-safe)

Thursday, August 04, 2005

ADOPTION UPDATE: It's coming down to it for our adoption

We would deeply, deeply appreciate prayers from all of you who engage in the practice. We have a go/no go decision to make by Sunday night.

Our finances are borderline for this adoption, and we have to either climb onto the plane on Sunday, or not. I mean, we are right on the knife edge. If we had $4,000 less in the bank right now, it would be an easy call: no trip. If we had $4,000 more, it would be an easy call: Karaganda by Wednesday. But we have what we have, poised right on the tipping point, and we still have to either get on the plane or not.

There are $9,000 in fees that we're looking at having to pay, and while I'm making good money, we've also been carrying both a mortgage payment and a rent payment for months and months now, making it hard to get very far ahead. Right now I'm thinking we can go (assuming my next paycheck gets here in time), but in order to be able to take with us the money we need, I'm going to have to rob the youth house. You see, we had been expecting a $5,000 grant to help us on the travel, but the rules behind that grant have recently changed so that we won't be issued that money until the adoption decree is final. Now, a generous and anonymous donor had guaranteed us the money that we still needed in order to buy the extra apartment we need for the new graduates coming out of Litvinskoye this year, and that donor is redirecting those funds toward our adoption...but of course that now means that if Dessie and I head out on Sunday, we're back to having homeless orphans because the youth house money will no longer be youth house money.

But if we don't get on the plane Sunday, that's it for Anya.

But if we do get on the plane Sunday, there's still no guarantee we'll manage to bring Anya back anyway.

Not a pleasant choice. But choices have to be made, and in the end I'm the one who has to make this one. By Sunday afternoon.

So please pray that God will grant us either wisdom or else wealth. Or ideally, as if I were Solomon, both...though I'd just as soon not get the Solomonic trifecta. ;-)


P.S. The Solomonic trifecta is, of course, wisdom, wealth...and wall-to-wall wives.

This adoption update is followed by this one.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

"International Symbol of Marriage" Dept

Hat tip: an e-mailer who wishes to remain anonymous