July 13th, 2007

Ice Cream

Back in Stuttgart, I sat down for a good think. It worked really well, but was a little off target. Here's what I came up with:

Hell Freezing Over
Two scoops vanilla ice cream
3 tablespoons strawberry jalapeño jam
1 jigger 151 rum
1 cocktail umbrella

Place ice cream in bowl. Surround in a moat of jam. Pour rum on top of jam. Light rum on fire and top it all of with cocktail umbrella.

Hell Freezing Over on the Beach
Two scoops coconut ice cream
3 tablespoons pineapple tidbits
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon butter
1 jigger 151 rum
½ coconut shell
1 cocktail umbrella

Saute pineapple, sugar, and butter until the sugar starts to caramelize. Place ice cream into coconut shell. Surround ice cream with pineapple mixture. Top with rum and cocktail umbrella then set it ablaze.

The observant reader probably notices that I managed to solve my grand cocktail problem; how to keep the umbrella from catching on fire. And, managed to create the perfect drink. That same reader might have also noticed that none of this was helping with my visa predicament.

After the first round of thought, I sat down for a second round and managed to focus a little better. I realized that I should come up with a backup plan in case I don't get a Chinese visa. I also realized that I should probably only give it one more honest push before giving up. Last, I realized that I should call the embassy first to make sure that I was going in prepared with what I needed.

Calling the embassy was not as simple as one might think. I found numbers for the Embassies in Frankfurt, Washington D.C., and San Francisco. Each was open for phone calls for roughly two hours each day. I started with the Frankfurt embassy. I figured it would be the most difficult to communicate with, but most appropriate to talk to (and the first one to open). It took about a half dozen phone calls to get to a person. I optimistically started in English. That wasn't happening. Then, I switched to German. This is where I was caught off-guard. Apparently, the person on the other end of the phone only spoke Chinese.

Next was the D.C. Embassy. After calling around 3 times, I realized that they weren't answering the phones at all and that I should just give up.

Last was the San Francisco Embassy. They had a message that let me know they were trying to answer the phone and that they just didn't get to me. Fortunately I'm patient. I called back. I called back every 3 minutes for the next hour and a half. Eventually I got someone. I admit, that I was so surprised that someone had answered the phone that I momentarily forgot what I wanted to say. In the end, the person was both nice and helpful. She said that I was doing the right thing and shouldn't have any trouble getting a visa.