In retrospect, it probably wasn't a good idea to get caught up in an epic 4chan event the night before my rescheduled flight. Although to be fair, it's not everyday the Panty & Stocking OST is leaked by a 15-year-old in Japan one track at a time, with a bunch of anime nerds hanging on whether he's finished his 45-minute breakfast yet. (uh, I guess you had to be there. The cries of glee when 'Fly Away Now' was leaked were something to behold. And disturbing. But I guess you have to expect that when on 4chan) Anyway, my trip to Durham was slightly derailed by the East Coast blizzard. If I had flown out on Boxing Day, or today, it would have been fine, but I chose the 27th and ended up staring at the 'CANCELLED' status on Boxing Day as the snow kept coming down. That'll teach me for being so blasé about Heathrow last week. It took almost two hours to get through to somebody at American Airlines, but when I eventually did, they were very helpful; they could't get me on the direct flight to RDU on the 28th, but they could me there via Chicago. So here I am again, on the Airline bus from Oxford, heading off to Heathrow to catch AA87 to Chicago, and then a connecting flight to Durham. ADVENTURES! ... time passes ... And 40,000 feet in the air, I have just finished watching Utopia London, leaving me with a great urge to slap Alice Coleman and Mrs. Thatcher (natch). However, it has given me a few more places to visit in London; in particular, I want to go to Alexandra Road in Camden. Hearing how the architect specifically built parts of the structure for children to play on and around was a heartening counterpoint to the neoliberal destruction of the Welfare State and the demolition of Pimlico School. But don't worry, I'm sure the Lib Dems will prevent the Tories from doing even more damage. Ha. Maybe I should do a modernism tour of Britain before I leave, as it might not be there the next time I come back. Now, though, I'm a little worried. My plane is running 40 minutes late. I have to clear customs, pick up my baggage, transfer to a different terminal and get on my flight to Durham in an hour. Whilst customs might be a bit quicker now that we don't have to fill in the visa waiver form, I think I'm going to be cutting it quite fine... Children everywhere. Screaming ones in the rows fore and aft, obnoxious whining ones next to me. And really, who calls their child 'Sears'? I may come by my American culture through an outsider's perspective (at least for now), but surely that's just setting the child up for endless mockery of the commercial cataloguing business variety (mind you, I think the brother was called either Winfield or Winchester, so he may have got off lightly). en route to Raleigh-Durham Airport I was beginning to think that I was lucky. Yes, my flight was half-an-hour late, meaning I'd probably have to rush to the other terminal to catch my flight, but as I approached the customs queue, I was whisked away by a exasperated TSA man trying to get people to go to the other arrival hall. You know us British seeing a queue and all that. So I got to the other hall, and there was nobody there. Nobody. An entire bank of immigration officers just waiting to process us! Hurrah! A Christmas miracle! "Why are you visiting the United States?" "I'm here to visit my wife." That changed the tone of the conversation somewhat. Gone was the slightly-friendly countenance, and in its place came a barrage of questions. When did we meet? Is she an American citizen? Do I have a return ticket? Has she applied for a visa for me? When? Why don't I have it yet? Are you just going to leave your job? And so on. I may have made the mistake of telling him too much, talking about the long processing time we've been experiencing, and how we were going to contact our Congressman whilst I was over (in my defense, I was panicking a bit when he asked 'why don't you have it yet?', as my immediate answer of 'I haven't the foggiest, except Texas seem to be slowcoaches!' probably wouldn't have helped matters. Anyway, I was told to wait behind the black line, as I had to be seen by somebody with acres to 'the other system'. Yes, time for another trip to the enclosed room. As I left, I saw that I had built up a queue of about ten people behind me. Oops. After about fifteen minutes sitting on the plain white bench in the waiting room, I was called in to see the other officer. Thankfully, this went rather quickly - I just gave him the date of my NOA1 receipt and explained the Congressman bit a little further (he asked about it, so obviously the first officer wrote it down on the record screen; whether that's a good thing or not, remains to be seen), and I was free. Unfortunately, that took precious time that I didn't have. There was a bit of a rush to Terminal 3, Which was a shame as I wanted to get a photo of the O'Hare map - nice typography! Of course, I got into the terminal to be confronted by a mass of people waiting for their security check. And my plane had started boarding ten minutes ago. Eeeep. Thankfully, a friendly TSA agent came to my rescue and pulled me through, getting to the gate with moments to spare. So now 30,000 feet up, tired beyond belief (up since 4am, and due to the 4chan adventure, I didn't really sleep anyway), but I'm finally heading to RDU. Hurrah!