Neil's News


1 September 2003

I'm away for my annual leave in Canada. Although I am contactable by email, the response may not be rapid. Anything urgent should either be routed through the Digital Routes office or directly to my grandmother.

Assuming I remember to cycle on the right-hand side of the road, and assuming the passport office renews my passport in time, I'll be back in two weeks.

Continuing Updates:

  • On the way to Glasgow airport I visited a client, New Lanark[?], for a couple of days of photography. This sign at the Lanark railway station says "Electric Trains Stop". Presumably Diesel trains are welcome to carry on.
  • At Glasgow airport I was watching the turn-around process on our plane prior to boarding. Suddenly the man who was refueling the plane ran away from his fuel truck, closely followed by all the nearby baggage handlers. Moments later four fire trucks appeared and surrounded the fuel tanker. According to airport staff, there had been a 'minor fuel leak'.
  • After landing at Toronto International airport, the baggage system (which normally looks like this) abruptly went BSOD and ground to a halt. It took an hour and a half to bring the system back up again. Go Microsoft!
  • Thanks to the fuel spill and the baggage crash and a thorough search by a suspicious customs officer (his dog took a liking to me), my connecting bus was gone by the time I made it down town. Buying tickets for the next bus failed when my Interac card refused the transaction claiming "restricted use", an error message nobody at the bus terminal had ever heard of before. Stranded in TO with no money at the start of a long weekend; the Royal Bank had better have a really good explanation for this... [They did: the six year-old magstripe was starting to bit-flip.]
  • Renewing my passport suddenly became problematic. In addition to requiring my previous passport, my birth certificate, a guarantor (friendly accountant) and two references (Hello Lao & Cecil), they also need a supplemental government ID. Such as: driver's license (I don't drive), health care card (revoked; not available to non-residents), certificate of Indian status (wrong genome), old age security card (36 year waiting period for me), or firearms license. If I can't get them to waive this requirement, I'm going to have to pass an accredited gun safety course and then apply for a firearms license. This is nuts!
  • I got some of my robotic equipment back from my old high school. Oh dear. I have never seen my robot in such a horrible state. Electronics fried, power supply missing, motors burned out, screwed rod drive bent beyond use, covered in rust, "property of OBE" sticker on it. The smaller camera mount robot is nowhere to be found. I think the large robot is too badly damaged to repair. It needs to be completely disassembled and rebuild -- something I don't have time to do this visit.
  • Last time I stood in the Rockliffe park late at night I watched Mir pass overhead -- followed closely by Atlantis. This time I watched ISS glide by. Two humans wrapped in one hundred tons of metal and plastic, all alone in the night.
  • Sat down in front of a TV set for the first time in over a year. Stared blankly at the remote control and my first thought was how to switch on Slashdot. Later I caught myself bumping the remote control every few minutes to prevent the screen saver from kicking in. Disturbing. On the other hand, I did manage to catch the one TNG episode that I'd never seen ("Thine own self"). My life is now complete.

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