3 Mar 2003 dyork   » (Master)

Long entry... another long car trip where I was working on more documents...

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?
Me: Ottawa
Agent: Citizenship?
Me: American
Agent: Status in Canada?
Me: Work authorization.
Agent: Are you bringing in any goods?
Me: Just a birthday gift.
Agent: Value?
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 place.

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?
Me: Ottawa
Agent: Your citizenship?
Me: American
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?
Me: No
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 seatbelts.)

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 comical.

Latest blog entries     Older blog entries

New Advogato Features

New HTML Parser: The long-awaited libxml2 based HTML parser code is live. It needs further work but already handles most markup better than the original parser.

Keep up with the latest Advogato features by reading the Advogato status blog.

If you're a C programmer with some spare time, take a look at the mod_virgule project page and help us with one of the tasks on the ToDo list!