Saturday, July 23, 2005

Sunday July 24, 2:43 p.m.

Well, I pulled the trigger and called Uncle. He was nice enough to say that he'll look into the old family tree and get back to me. As usual, everyone in the family got on the blower to have a few words. I really ought to visit them at least once, although I think I know what Mom'll say.

It looks like I've been getting letters of concern from The Great White North because of the earthquake yesterday. Both The Wild Thing and The Entrepreneur contacted me to check on how I was. Of course, noone I know here has contacted me since earthquakes, even one as strong as yesterday's temblor, don't phase the general populace too much...merely irritate them. I just hope Mother Nature isn't taking that as a challenge, though.

I've yet to hear from my own family, though. I'm assuming that Mom and Dad are already on their trip. I should hear back from my brother fairly soon.
Sunday July 24, 10:55 a.m.

Forgot to mention that I'm having some second thoughts (or perhaps, she is) about JJ. It was a bit of a counseling session with her yesterday afternoon. She's recently confided that she's been losing her motivation to study English. Uh-oh...this reminded me of The Stylist's bailout last year and Jazz Buddy's burnout earlier this year. I can see the same pattern...gradual cancellations of lessons and then the slow erosion of confidence and interest. I don't think it's quite reached critical mass yet but the signs are there. I even advised her that it might be time to take a little break. I won't be seeing her for a couple of weeks so that should give her some time to mull things over.
Sunday July 24, 10:41 a.m.

Feeling no worse for wear after the quake yesterday. Everything's back to normal. But I did get a check-up call from The Ballerina which was nice.

I guess the UK police must be feeling lower than a cockroach's belly (I hope) today after finding out that they'd shot the wrong man. He was just a Brazilian electrician. Well, now there's one more South American country that the Brits have managed to tick off.

Speaking of cockroaches, I still have "Darth". I saw it skittering around in my bathroom. I think I enraged it when I blasted it with the insecticide. I closed the door so it should be still there unless it decided to leave via the drains.

I also got a letter from DTE. Looks like she had a bit of a medical problem in the form of a slipped disc but she's back on her legs.

It's telethon season. Fuji-TV's got its 25-hour show going on right now. Basically it's a long form game show. I don't get any particular sense that they're doing it for charity...just one big promotion. It might make for a good way to cover up a current scandal involving one of their female announcers. Apparently, the woman in her 30s managed to invite an underage member of a boy band to a rousing drinking party which got him into a bit of trouble with the cops. Well, her name is mud. Some years earlier, the same woman got a more sympathetic response when she fell several metres during a climbing incident on live TV and broke her pelvis.
Saturday July 23, 10:46 p.m.

Tokyo Rocks!

No, I'm not holding up my fist at a live house in Shibuya. The Big Sushi finally got a good kick in the pants from Mother Nature today. I was just heading back from my lesson/counseling session with JJ at Kiba and was putting my ticket into the gate in the station when I felt this strange surging wave course through me and the station at about 4:35 p.m. I thought the cabbage I'd ingested for my tonkatsu lunch today was getting back at me but when I saw the swinging exit sign, I knew it was a quake. But Tokyo gets rocked from time to time so I just nonchalantly went down to the platform.

I ended up waiting on that platform for a good hour while the announcement repeatedly droned that a strong tremor had hit the Tokyo area necessitating the delay of all train lines; it sure felt like a complete shutdown for me. Well, I think waiting an hour was enough so I left Kiba and returned to the mall to hang out for a few hours until the emergency subsided. Bad move as I was to find out later. I should have just hopped on the closest taxi and sped home from there.

Well, in any case, I went up to the electronics section on the 3rd floor of the Gatharia (where do they come up with these names?) Mall and searched for the televisions. At first, I thought I was gonna be stuck with a whole bunch of monitors showing the same promotional video to enhance the wonderful pixel quality of the screen, but I was able to find three TVs that showed what had transpired an hour earlier. Sure enough, Tokyo got whumped with a Shindo 5+...the first time in 13 years since anything that big has hit the area. Weird...since I only felt that wave; other places in Tokyo apparently were given a good rubdown for several seconds. There were quite a few people who also followed my lead and kept their eyes on the TVs for a few minutes. There was the crawl on NHK showing what was up and what was not. Not surprisingly, the two most crowded lines in the Tokyo Subway System, the Chiyoda and Tozai Lines were out of commission along with several JR lines and both airports in the area. On seeing that, I decided that I was pretty well stranded in Kiba (I really didn't want to spend 4000 yen for a taxi ride home if I could avoid it) and just hung out for an hour before settling on dinner in one of the small restaurants on 3F.

My problems were just beginning. After 7 o'clock, I went back to Kiba Station to see if anything had improved. Not at all. There were several people waiting by the ticket gates. Well, I said the hell with that and went back upside. I tried to wait for a taxi but it looks like everyone was heading home by that mode of transportation since the subways were out of commission. Buses wouldn't have helped me any. I didn't get any nibbles at the main intersection so I went to the taxi pickup spot and waited there for half an hour. Nada. Once again, I went downstairs to see if the situation had improved. The same crowd was there...the Tozai Line was running again but only between two stations that didn't include my neck of the woods. Back topside. Now I realized that I should have taken the first taxi home.

I walked down the street heading eastward. Taxis were just streaming by filled with customers and the street was just filled, period. A lot of people were doing the same thing as well. I hoofed it until I reached the next station over, Toyocho Station where there was another taxi stand. There were a few people waiting there, too, so I decided to try my luck again. Within a few minutes, a very rare empty taxi came by and picked up a couple of grateful passengers. Looked promising so I hung out there. Well, it would be another 45 minutes before a taxi finally came for me.

I was lucky that I got a pretty friendly and chatty fellow as a driver. He actually apologized to me for almost not seeing the taxi stand sign and passing me by. Believe me, I wasn't feeling any resentment toward him. He also filled me in that his previous fare had walked all the way from Hamamatsucho Station near Tokyo Bay to Kinshicho Station all the way in the east, close to Chiba Prefecture. I realize that many observers would have no concept of the significance of this feat but believe me, it is a far distance. Such was the dearth of taxis this night.

The cab was armed with one of those navigational devices and monitor to lead the way for a cabbie in a city which often confuses him with a lack of street names. I was duly impressed when he verbally gave my destination to the computer which chirpily acknowledged each instruction in a typical female anime voice. Within a few seconds, the system came up with the quickest route home and proceeded to announce where to turn within 300 metres. Truly a godsend which made me all the more awestruck when the cabbie informed me that the system is 2 to 3 years old. His company actually got the systems on the cheap. I couldn't imagine anything that "primitive" popping up in a Toronto taxi.

Well, the ride cost me close to 4000 yen but I wasn't complaining. At least I was home. Apparently, the Tozai Line was back in operation since I saw a lot of exhausted commuters come down the stairs from the station. Still, I appreciated the backseast comfort rather than the stuffed environment on the trains. As I was looking around the neighbourhood, I didn't notice anything different or damaged. However, when I got home, sure enough, a good two layers of my CDs were scattered all over the tatami. And my DVD player and amplifier had fallen back behind the TV. But it seems that that was the only real area of "damage" in the apartment. My kitchen and bedroom look fine as usual. I sent the word out to the family that I'm OK.

Man, that was a long day. I had my kids in the morning. The elder sister was all gussied up in her summer outfit and makeup for a trip with her buddies in Korakuen, the central Tokyo amusement park. I wonder how she fared with the quake since she'd said that she would be planning to come home around the time that the quake hit. I won't be seeing the kids until September.

Movie Buddy contacted me to say that The DJ won't be able to make it out tomorrow. No surprise there. But MB wondered what my weekday schedule was so I gave him an early Thursday. In any case, I should be seeing him tomorrow as it is the reunion party for one of our alumna. The quake ought to be a good conversation piece amongst the group.

Well, I was thinking of contacting my uncle but since I got home so late...I might as well wait til the afternoon tomorrow.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Saturday July 23, 6:13 a.m.

Looks like my apartment has become a menagerie of sorts. I saw my frequent guest of a small jumping spider doing its thing all over my computer screen. It didn't seem to be too fazed by the changing colours. Then, just before I hit the hay, there was a huge Darth Vader-esque cockroach on my bedroom wall. Just like the Sith Lord himself, it had shiny black armour with the added touch of long flailing antennae...almost a sped-up version of fly fishing. Well, since I don't share the native population's phobia for the hardiest of all insects, I just looked at it rather bemusedly before tapping it on the back. It skittered off so fast that it just appeared to blink out of existence. Just in case, I gave the room a good blast of insecticide. Knowing how quickly cockroaches can adapt to anything, including nuclear winters, "Darth" probably treated the fumigation as an after-dinner smoke.

Once again, after a mediocre night's sleep...I find that CNN and BBC have lowered their alert levels and have returned to relatively normal programming although the thrust of the news is on last night's Hollywood-esque action in London.

I received a surprise phone call from Huggy Bear for the first time in several months. He sounded as if time hadn't passed at all. Huggy Bear was never one to get to a point in his ramblings so I just let him talk for about 5 minutes before telling him that I had to get back to my lesson plans.

Another relatively "chilly" morning out there.
Friday July 22, 8:51 p.m.

Let's see...a bombing attempt yesterday and now a guy gets shot dead by the London police. One would think that there's a Michael Bay movie being filmed. This isn't boding well for safety and confidence.

I met The Teacher today and her topic was on the late great James Coburn. She's canned next week's lesson and she may have given me a little hint that our time together may be coming to an end. Her son is entering some sort of classes on Fridays that she needs to attend although things are pretty tentative for right now. To be honest, it wouldn't pain me too greatly although it would be another chipping away at my income. Basically, our Friday sessions have consisted of just chatter without much education. She had given me the impression pretty early on that she's not much for correction despite her eroding structure so I've just been her listener for the past year. In any case, her cancellation couldn't come at a better time since I now am free and clear on the 29th for anything concerning the attempts to get my Permanent Resident status.

I had lunch at the conveyor belt sushi shop under my station. Looks like they've been changing their menu again. So I got one of the new items which was an inexpensive platter of nigiri sushi. Filled the bill quite nicely at 780 yen. Then it was off to Maruzen to pick up another crossword book.

My session with SR certainly showed that she still appreciates my time with her. Once again, we went on for over 3 hours on various topics including my trip to Taiwan and The Lady. It's possible that she may be facing the next stage of her life in the next number of months with the potential news of a baby. She reassured me that she would still like my help.

Dinner was at the ramen shop under my station. The place has always been well known for the liberal use of garlic in its garlic. Now it's been confirmed. I saw a pamphlet stating that the chain has been trying to enter The Guiness Book of World Records as the shop using the largest amount of garlic in its ramen. That's pretty darn specific as an entry. However, I wish them well.

Now, I've gotta get my plans done for the two kids for their last lesson before the summer holidays, and then JJ.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Friday July 22, 8:39 a.m.

Looks like London Bombings 2 has settled down least on the media. I'm sure that the Londoners themselves are still frazzled.

It's gonna be another yo-yo meterologically. It was a scorcher earlier this week but yesterday was a little cooler and much drier. And now today it's just going up to 27 C! I have my electric fan on but my windows are also open greeting incoming drafts. Very pleasant...a far cry from the heat wave going on in the States.
Thursday July 20, 10:33 pm.

Well, exactly two weeks after the first round of London bombings, the city is back on alert after another possible round of explosions on the Tube. It's been confirmed that bombs were used and there are casualties, although much fewer in number so far. It's rather unusual for Al Qaeda to fire back so soon, so I'm wondering if it's a copycat attack by some psycho instead. Man, now the bobbies are cordoning off University Hospital and armed folks are entering a place of healing. When it rains...

On more mundane matters, I met up with The Madame today to get that reservation done for the Taiwan trip in a couple of months. We went to the Tobu Travel Agency in Ikebukuro Station. The staff was in cool biz mode as they were wearing Aloha shirts. We waited for 5 minutes but it seemed as if noone was manning the overseas desk. We did see a map which guided us to another branch several metres away so we went there. The entire process took over an hour as the usual security stuff with passports and explanations took place. Then we went back to the original branch so that The Madame could book yet another trip...this time to a hot spring with her sister. Yup, I'm getting the impression that she's living in a higher tax bracket. Oooh, boy. I hope she realizes that I won't be able to join her on every one of her journeys. Afterwards, we went to a cafe nearby for another round of conversation.

I rushed over to Kiba to teach MK and The Manager. Both were fine although MK once again gave her good-natured whine about how difficult it was. All was normal.

I got word back from Paddy's scrivener. She just asked me to bring my passport (check), my ARC (check) and a copy of my mother's existence on the family register....oh-oh. Well, Mom once told me that she had her name struck from the register once she became a Canadian citizen. Looks like I'm gonna be calling my uncle in Osaka tomorrow to confirm all this. It may mean a trip out to the West if necessary. I don't want to push my relatives especially since I don't have very much contact with of my regrets. In any case, my cynical nose is sniffing that the Permanent Resident attempt will be a dead end for me.

With all the busy news and my day today, it almost comes as an anticlimax that one of my old TV heroes has gone to that starship engineering room in the sky. Good ol' Jimmy Doohan: Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott, Scotty, The Miracle Worker...passed away yesterday. It wasn't too much of a surprise since I'd learned that he had Alzheimer's last year. It was just a matter of time. I was struck if not totally surprised about one of his comments stating that though he liked the character of James T. Kirk, he had no love for the actor potraying him. I'm sure his opinion will be agreed upon by everyone else who had the "privilege" of acting with William Shatner.

My personal memories of him are from 1991. I had just come back from my last stint in Japan and was getting resettled in Toronto. It was the 25th anniversary of "Star Trek"...happier days for the Trekkies: "The Next Generation" was at its peak with the Borg cliffhanger and perhaps there was some hope for the 6th and final movie with the old cast (hope that kinda dissipated...for me, anyways). But the main thing was that the Toronto chapter of the Star Trek fan club set up anniversary celebrations at City Hall for the whole day with the big highlight being the appearance of the supporting cast from the The Classic series: Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei and Walter Koenig. Well, the four were supposed to have come in the afternoon but due to some air traffic problems, the folks didn't show up until 8:30 in the evening that Sunday. In the meantime, The Entrepreneur (another fellow Trekkie) and I along with a few others waited patiently as did the hundreds who showed up while we were "entertained" by Trekkie standup comics and many fellow Trekkies hawked their wares in what turned out to be a combination Star Trek convention/flea market.

Well, the four finally showed up to much applause. George and Nichelle struck me as being a little precious in their approach to the audience. Especially Nichelle sounded like she would've been a perfect fit for that Las Vegas sister singer act made famous on "Saturday Night Live". In other words (and I say this with some regret about a fellow ethnic Japanese), she and Takei were California flakes. Koenig was a bit more down-to-earth and he gave a great rip shot of their lord and master, King Bill.

But it was James Doohan who got the biggest and warmest round of applause. The fans even chanted "SCOT-TY, SCOT-TY!" for the big Canuck. And he returned his love for Toronto in full measure when he boldly gave out his former exact address in Don Mills (a neighbourhood in Toronto) back in his struggling actor days. The Entrepreneur and I blinked several times at that revelation. I imagined a hoard of crazed Trekkies encroaching on the newly hallowed ground while the current residents of that house looked on in horror.

One piece of trivia about Doohan. I remember the scene in the comedy "Airplane" in which Robert Hays' character was trying to fly the endangered plane and describing how the controls were handling. He quoted lines from an old CBC drama about a similar plane in danger. Guess who the original actor was quoting those lines: a young Jimmy Doohan himself...a former Canadian war pilot. I salute you, sir!

Well, the London situation is still continuing...

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Wednesday July 20, 10:31 p.m.

Had my gym day today. Only a kilo up so it wasn't too difficult to shave that off. I don't think I'll be heading out tomorrow though. I've still gotta get my Thursday night lesson plans done up and I'm not really up energy-wise to do it now.

Ironically, after my workout I headed straight to The Doughnut Plant in Otemachi to fulfill a promise to Speedy and bring back some of those luscious doughnuts for the gang at the school. Looks like TDP got a pass with Speedy, The Secretary and 001. 001 followed Japanese tradition and used a knife and fork to eat her share. Mind you, the typical TDP doughnut is a good size bigger than the local Mister Donuts variety and a lot more chewier as well. And half a dozen of those critters cost about the same as a dozen of them back in Canada.

Earlier today, CNN was SCNN (Supreme Court News Network) after the announcement of Bush's nominee for the next Supreme Court Justice. I realized how litigious the USA is when I realized that this announcement had all the pomp and circumstance of a Royal Coronation. Over here, noone could probably tell you where the Japanese Supreme Court is located in Tokyo, let alone who the Justices are.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Wednesday July 20, 8:44 a.m.

Paddy finally got back to me about the Immigration situation. Now it's up to me and take my chances.

The Madame has also gotten back to me about Taiwan. I'll be meeting her sometime tomorrow to get that first step done to get our places on the tour. She's also thought about having coffee afterwards. Well, I know that there is the Coffeemaker's cafe across from Ikebukuro Station. Kinda nice to keep it within the "family".

Last night's stint at the juku was a bit of a lazy affair though I still got the job done. The boss noticed I looked rather tired. I figure it's been the heat and some of the stuff I've been thinking about for the past number of weeks.

Well, I've only got Student 001 tonight so I'll head off to the gym this afternoon and see if that clears my head any. It won't be as hot today...only going up to 28 C.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Tuesday July 19, 3:40 p.m.

Yup, pretty hot and humid right now although things seem to be clouding up as I type.

We had a small Beehive today. It was just Ms. Tee, Ms. Perth and Ms. Flanders this morning. The others were off on their own matters of importance. However, the three of them still took me out to that wonderful little restaurant safely esconced in a Tsudanuma neighbourhood, Takimoto, for lunch. It was the second-last lesson before summer vacation for them starts and since Ms. Flanders knows the place best and will be away next week, it was decided to have the end-of-term lunch then. Some rather big news from Ms. Flanders. It looks like she'll be on the global move again. Not that soon, mind you, but eventually she'll be joining her husband in San Jose for a number of years. I also met a former student of the Beehive who didn't stay all that long since her proficiency in English was far lower than the others. It also didn't help that at the time, there was an arrogant student who silently intimidated that former student. However, the arrogant one was soon ousted by Ms. Travel. It was rather interesting how the arrogant one's name came up and everyone seemed to dance around it rather lightly. In any case, the food was excellent and it was even tastier since I got treated once again.

I just did a quick plan of the four juku classes tonight. They should be fairly straightforward. I've got The Poppy by herself so that should help me help her get some better English into her. The Milds are off in Europe right now.
Tuesday July 19, 7:34 a.m.

Let's see...I dumped out my long-suffering mattresses and some old clothes. And last night, my oven had a bit of a hiccup for the first time in its long career in my home. Then, my iron is starting to short out because of a worn connection. Am I getting some sort of message here that my time might be coming to an end? My electric fan is also a cantankerous sometimes takes a few minutes to get it started but it's been doing that for the past couple of years. It's been crucial for a good night's sleep, though, in the summers. If it finally conks out, then I'll be heading ASAP to get a new matter how much longer I stay here.

I got word from The Madame this morning. She wants us to get that down payment on our trip to Taiwan started sometime this week. I also got confirmation from The Anime King that yes, there should be no problem getting to the place on my passport without a visa. It's kinda too bad that the schedule will be a bit off-kilter. He'll be hitting Taiwan about a week after us.

I also got word from The Family Gal for the first time in a long time. She's been very busy with work and all the other stuff that makes a young family tick. She's also fallen under the spell of one Harry Potter. I mentioned to her and the rest of the guys that this has been Ewan McGregor's month in Japan. No less than three movies starring him have and will be premiering here: "Revenge of the Sith", "The Island" and then "Robots".
Monday July 18, 8:29 p.m.

It was a scorcher of a day today. Up to 33 degrees. So there were quite a few heatstroke victims out there. As for me, I stayed home most of the day in cooler comfort except for about an hour of shopping. But it'll be back to business as usual from tomorrow.

I was noticing the news of the release of the latest "Harry Potter" book. At first, I'd thought that the latest movie got released a whole lot earlier than expected but all the hoopla was just about a book. All I can say is that J.K. Rowling is the luckiest woman on the planet. From writing in a cafe and subsisting on welfare checks to being the wealthiest woman in less than a decade. I think she truly is charmed since everyone and his brother have tried to write a book just to go nowhere.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Monday July 18, 12:52 a.m.

Ah, did forget to mention that this is a long weekend in this country. We've got Marine Day today...which is why I'm able to make this entry at this late hour instead of hitting the bed immediately. Until I got the AC on, it was a rather steamy experience to be inside the apartment. It was humid enough that one of my stick-on hooks on my kitchen wall fell off for the first time in a decade...looks like I have one more household doodad to buy later today along with dehumidifying packages and something to deodorize my's been smelling rather like a gym room lately in my bedroom.

I met up with The Satyr, his girl and The Madame today at Shinjuku to head for the second viewing (for me, anyways) of "Revenge of the Sith". Quite a number of people showed up to catch the flick but it was not exactly a full house. I would say it was about two-thirds of one. On a second viewing, the movie still held up due to the amazing lightsaber duels at the end of the movie and the initial space battle after the opening crawl but I'm starting to wonder if it would be worth a third viewing once Movie Buddy and The DJ get back to me on a date. Still the rest of today's party enjoyed it although The Madame was a bit confused on some parts. Ian McDiarmid must have savored some of that scenery when he and ILM showed Master Mace a bird's-eye view of Coruscant (UN-LIMI-TED...POWER!).

Afterwards, the four of us went to an Italian cafe across the street to gather our thoughts about the movie, something that I hadn't had the opportunity the first time around outside of this blog. The Satyr and I agreed that the dialogue was leaden and he noticed that there was some rather interesting leaps in logic where time was concerned. Of course, there was the fact that 20 years of exile on Tatooine can age even the hardiest of Jedi Knights. Then the Satryr pointed out that Nubian women seem to have a very rapid gestation period. The events of the movie couldn't have taken more than a few weeks at most and yet Padme goes from happily announcing her pregnancy to tearfully delivering her twins on her birth-and-death bed in pretty short order. He also "marveled" at how powerful the Force was in keeping the dueling Jedi Knights on Mustafar from ending up as burnt pieces of least until Obi-Wan does the slice-n-dice maneuver on his former Padawan. How very convenient.

The Satyr and his girl had to take off for other things but Madame and I managed to trail them for a good long while until we finally parted ways on the main Omotesando intersection. Methinks the Satyr wanted to shake the two of us off of their tail a lot sooner. Oops for us being rather insensitive. However, I finally got the message and the Madame and I walked down south toward Shibuya in the humid air to The Maple Leaf.

The Maple Leaf was surprisingly not so crowded for a Sunday night, and a Sunday that's part of a 3-day weekend at that. We managed to get an alcove all to ourselves. I was rather delighted to see that the owners of the bar put on a DVD of the classic 1972 game between the Soviets and Team Canada in Montreal. It was very nostalgic seeing people like Ron Ellis, Serge Savard and Vladislav Tretiak face off one more time in their 70s haircuts (it was the time of no helmets). The Madame was also quite intrigued by the goings-on on the ice although she wasn't aware of the historical and cultural significance of the game. The two of us had the motley combination of PEI Mussels, Poutine and Quesadillas. We were served by a guy who wouldn't look out of place in a rap metal video.

Then we went to that French cafe across from Tokyu Hands where Automan, his buddy and I accidentally encountered several weeks ago. It was also surprisingly empty considering the holiday weekend but I could imagine that most of the youth in Shibuya wouldn't frequent such a Gallic-looking establishment. All the better for us to get a quaint little table in the corner. The same Jedi Master behind the counter served us. The Madame was also somewhat confused by the intricate descriptions of the coffee in the menu so she got the Master to help us out. Half of our 3 hours there was spent going over the brochures for this possible trip to Taiwan in late September. The Madame spearheaded most of the research; despite all of our browsings, I frankly thought that the very first tour she showed me was probably the best in terms of price. She also mentioned about a spa-heavy tour which made me tell her about my experiences at the Creambath Ebisu some months ago. I suggested to her that we could possibly go as a platonic pair since my solo visit there didn't elicit much of an impression. Our browsings also brought up another important point in that I wasn't sure whether I would need a visa to enter Taiwan and if the expiry of my visa in November (unless I get that renewal) would pose a problem. Well, that's something I've sent a question to The Anime King and The Canadian Embassy about.

The latter half of our time at the cafe went into some pretty deep and pretty frank discussion about our past relationships which prompted The Madame to remark that the two of us can speak to each other on just about anything. Yup, I can agree to that.

Not sure when the next time will be to see The Madame but we'll keep in touch by e-mail. I hope I can get a quick response on my visa inquiries though.