Long entry... another long car trip where I was working on more
The Porous Border, part 53 - There's a war about to
happen. Troops are shipping overseas. Everyone in the U.S. is on edge
about security and terrorists. Homeland Security has the alert on
"Orange" or something like that. They are interrogating Arabic-looking men in
Chicago and New York city. News reports talk about increased inspection of
passports and lengthier delays at airports.
In the midst of all this hysteria, here was our border crossing from Canada
into the U.S.:
U.S. Customs Agent: Where do you live?
Agent: Status in Canada?
Me: Work authorization.
Agent: Are you bringing in any goods?
Me: Just a birthday gift.
Me: Around $40 U.S.
Agent (waving us on): Have a nice day.
You will note that, as per usual, we were never asked for our passports.
But that was it... our comment to each other as we drove away was "so much for
the increased security due to Iraq!"
Now, in fairness, there were the two of us in the front and our
10-month-old daughter visible in the back seat. We are loaded up with kids
supplies and other stuff. Parents of infant children are probably not rated
very highly as possible terrorists.
Still, it is so annoying to hear people in the U.S. media talking about
"all the terrorists coming down from Canada". There was even a report in the
paper last week about a U.S. Senator (I forget which one) who was saying all
this on the floor of the U.S. Senate with regard to some type of Homeland
Security act or something.
Other than the minor detail that all the Sept 11th terrorists
originated inside of the U.S. and did not come down through Canada,
what these critics are all missing is that it is U.S. Customs letting
people through the border! It's not like if you are in Canada
you just can automatically enter the U.S. (although that's pretty much
been our experience). There is a border crossing where you must
stop that is staffed by U.S. Customs officials.
So it's not Canada that is letting terrorists into the U.S. It is
the United States through Customs, Border Patrol, etc. Don't blame
Canada when the problem is in fact with your own staff!
In truth, I can understand why crossing the U.S.-Canada border
by car is not as stringent as, say, an airport. There are literally tens
of thousands upon tens of thousands of cars going in either direction
each day. The lines can be quite long on a regular day. And the reality is
that the vast, vast, vast majority of people are just trying to get to their
job on the other side of the border or, like us, visiting family and friends.
Still, it's irritating to hear people in the U.S. talk about all the
terrorists coming down from Canada...
Tuesdays without TIME - A recent Tuesday was rather momentous
because of what did NOT happen. For the first time pretty much since
I was born, the mail arrived on Tuesday and did NOT include TIME Magazine.
Growing up, the magazine with the bright red border was a constant weekly
reading staple. Going on to university, I was given a subscription that I
chose to continue and have continued in the many years since that time. Even
after our move to Canada, we continued to receive it (albeit the Canadian
edition which was slightly different in interesting and curious ways).
However, over the past year or so, the content has kept seeming to get
more lightweight. TIME has almost seemed to be turning in People magazine.
Instead of nicely detailed articles providing context for the news of the
week, the pieces have just seemed to be more and more fluff. Kind of like USA
Today, you read the articles and find yourself wanting to know more. (Now
there are many times, like when travelling, that I want the digested
news of USA Today, but that's not the purpose I have subscribed to TIME.)
So we recently pulled the plug. Or more accurately, I chose not to renew.
We'll spend that money on some other weekly newsmagazine that hasn't turned
into celebrity profiles and fluff pieces. Probable candidate is "Maclean's"
which is a Canadian weekly that seems to be pretty decent. (If anything, it
seems to lean the other way and have more text and not have as many photos as
TIME did.) We'll see.
On a tangent, in informal surveys of people, it seems that many of us in
the U.S. grew up in either a "TIME" or "Newsweek" family and never strayed far
from what we started out with.
Snow - Driving through a pretty strong snowstorm in Vermont (Lori's
driving right now). Almost whiteout conditions at times, but then it lightens
up. Once again we are thankful for the wonderful performance of Air Subaru in
conditions like this.
Lunch in Montpelier - Ever since we moved to Ottawa, Lori and I have
struggled with the thought of where in the U.S. we could ever consider moving
back to if things didn't work out in Ottawa. Given what an amazing place
Ottawa is, this is truly a dilemma (and one we hope we don't have to face
anytime soon), but one of the places we definitely would consider would be
Montpelier, VT. Being the capital of the state of Vermont (did you know
that?) and home to a couple of (admittedly small) colleges, it's got a
wonderful little downtown area, cultural events and theatre and very
outdoors-oriented events/shops/etc. It's about 45 minutes from Burlington,
which is the metropolitan area of Vermont (which, at probably 100,000
people or so, isn't exactly on the scale of Ottawa!)
It's a great little place and has been our frequent lunch break on
travels to/from New Hampshire. Add to that the unabashedly liberal
politics (Vermont is the only state who actually has elected a
Socialist to the U.S. Congress. Did you know there was one?) which
are a nice contrast to the ultra-ultra-conservative politics of New
Hampshire. (Remember the year when N.H. was the state that chose Pat
Buchanan over George Bush, Sr, in the presidential primary?) It's also
surrounded by fantastic mountains and scenery. All around a great little
Of course, moving from a city of 700,000-1,000,000 to a "city" of 7,000
people would be a bit of a culture shock. :-)
The Porous Border, part 54 - In fairness, let me record our
border crossing from the U.S into Canada:
Canadian Customs Agent: Where do you live?
Agent: Your citizenship?
Agent: How long were you away?
Me: Since Friday... two days.
Agent: Total value of anything new you are bringing in?
Me: About $100... just some baby clothes.
Agent: Any tobacco or alcohol?
Agent (waving us on): Okay, have a nice day.
Once again, no check of the passports. I have less of an issue, though,
given that the newspapers are NOT full of Canadians whining about how we are
letting all these terrorists in from the United States. If they were, I'd
point out the same hypocrisy as I did above.
New Hampshire and Linux - riel: It was pointed
out to me that you are moving to the great state of N.H. from Brazil.
The good news is that the area you are moving to has a very thriving
Linux community in the form of GNHLUG
and its associated sub-LUGs. A really great group of folks there.
Jon "maddog" Hall also lives locally in Amherst, N.H. The state also has
the motto of "Live Free or Die" on all its license plates and signs, which
does have to have a special status in the annals of state mottos. No wimpy
"Garden State" or "Vacationland" here... "Live Free or Die". Very appropriate
for free software advocates. (Although it is more often used in N.H. by
people who advocate their right to have guns and not wear motorcycle helmets or
The Chloe Journals - Quick quiz - You have on your plate
before you some truly wonderful salmon, baked to close to perfection. The
kind that just flakes off and melts in your mouth. You also have some
asparagus that was, quite frankly, left in the steamer a few minutes
too long and is a bit on the soggy side. Which do you choose to eat?
a) the excellent salmon; or b) the overdone asparagus.
If you are our child, of course, you go for 'b', the soggy, overdone
asparagus! We can't complain, of course, because she likes to eat broccoli,
asparagus and most other vegetables, but at moments like that it is rather