Fortunately - or, as will become apparent, very unfortunately, I've arrived back at an interesting time. The kind, I suspect, that the Chinese had in mind when they invented that famous curse. For the official changeover of the management of the Observatory is imminent - Saturday, to be precise. While I was away I missed the farewell to Cornell party, but they saved me some nice gifts. Such as this fine clock, which is clearly modelled on the telescope in combination with the wormhole machine from Contact.
About 4 days before I returned I received an email telling me that travelling outside the USA while my visa is being transferred between institutions is quite a bad idea, and that I should try very hard not to do this. So, as my plane tickets were non-refundable, the visa transfer was cancelled so that all my current documentation is perfectly valid and above-board. That let me back into the country without the slightest hassle. The other options being to just go ahead and hope everything would work (to which, one institution said "that will be fine" and the other said, "OH GOD NO !") or effectively lose $650 in order to buy another flight back at a later date.
So far, so good. Except now of course the Cornell flag has been lowered, literally, and soon a whole host of new ones will be raised at what rumour has it was great expense. As my visa is associated with a specific employer, it will no longer be valid. Which I guess makes me a rogue astronomer (although not an illegal alien until October 30th, when I have to leave the country if this isn't sorted out). Naturally this idea has a certain appeal, although the idea of being an unpaid rogue astronomer is rather less intriguing. Watch this space.
|This is the Puerto Rican flag, but you get the idea|