Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Want a passport? Get in line. I did. I'm at hour three in the line up, and am writing this by hand to be transcribed later. One of the few times I've coveted a crackberry.

I signed up for a conference in the US last week, and then remembered about the passport. I've been going to these conferences for about 5 years now, but now I need a passport because, I guess I'm an ugly Canadian, or maybe it's because I've read Farley Mowat.

In some ways it's good to be out of the normal day-to-day routine, but maybe that's looking on the bright side of things. After all, I am spending an unplanned vacation day in a lineup. Of course, we all knew about passports and lineups, I read a Vancouver based public web bulletin board and heard bout 4-6 hours waits. It was expected, and so everyone seems to be resigned to it, except the guy who stormed out pass the lineup yelling 'I'm too much of an asshole to put up with this'. Brother, know thyself.

Most people are well-behaved and accepting of the process. Me, I can't stop thinking of the recent Vancouver Sun report calling them 'Soviet-style' line-ups. Of course, in Russia you would be lining up for potatoes or vodka, not the right to fly to Florida for spring break, as the women behind me is doing.

The guy in front of me lined up at the Richmond office yesterday. I guess he was missing some documents, so is back today at the Vancouver office. He has a portable chair that he drags along. We're all jealous. He's studying how to make aluminum mouldings. I am amazed at the size of the lineup. How do these people have the time to spend a whole day here? There is surprising little animosity, except for the self-proclaimed asshole. Shouldn't there be anti-Bush demonstrations?

I've learned a few important things: If my forms are all filled out properly, I will get a passport. They are processed in 10 days. I was hearing rumours that it would take months no matter what. Also that if really stuck, I could just drive to Seattle or Bellingham and fly from there. You don't need a passport to cross the border by land, at least yet.

Four hour mark and we're actually in the door and can see it all happening before our eyes. This part goes quickly and, because I did my form online, I am expedited. Four and a half hours from start of line to walking out the door and I have my voucher to pick up my passport in 10 days. Total cost: $100, one vacation day, sore back. I'm going for lunch.

Walking the Dog

It's nice to get back on the bike after a few weeks of snow and frost. The first ride after a few weeks is a revelation.

What I like about the cycle commute is the little vignettes of life that you see, typically an image that you glimpse out of the corner of your eye, that somehow catches your imagination or strikes a chord.

I guess I've also been thinking lately about all the global warming news coverage. It's hard to tell whether this is just the news flavour of the month or if it's going to stick. I claim to have always been aware of the topic. My official job around the house is turning off lights and turning down the heat. So it is interesting to see the rest of the world catching up.

Part of the global warming consciousness involves recognition of your personal footprint in the world, whether it's your personal carbon record, or to take it even further; what the hell am I doing here? Are you still watching those home renovation shows, is your goal still to own that vacation property? If not, what is it you're supposed to do? Is it still true, in this climate of global warming, that whoever dies with the most toys wins?

Getting back to the bike ride, the vignette I caught for split second as I rode by was this:
A perfectly coiffed man in his sixties, walking a white fluffy dog, that seemed to match his hair, a beautiful dark green hunting jacket, very stylish, brown leather gloves, beige tilley hat, seemingly at one with the world. A lifetime of choices culminating in this definitive act of civilization: walking the dog.

PS. I didn't stick around for the scooping.

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