Transportation-induced Potpourri

I was about to say that I'm on my way to Louisville, except that it's a blatant lie. In fact I'm sitting in a departure lounge, still in Montréal, waiting for a plane to arrive and take me to Chicago, where I will wait (if I am not busy running from one end of the airport to another) for another plane to take me to Louisville.

YUL to ORD to SDF, that's the order of the day.

For you see, I am speaking about digital security at the Air Transport Association's e-Business Forum on Friday. In a fitting twist of irony, your humble digital security speaker has sneaked a tube of toothpaste past the non-digital security people at the airport. I swear it was an accident. But at least I am minty fresh.

GO Train in Montréal

Yes folks, that's a GO Train parked at the Bell Centre, right next to an AMT train. I'm sorry for the awful camera-phone picture, but this was so odd to see that I'm giving it to you anyway. See, the province next door has loaned a train to the local transit agency (an extremely generous thing to do!) since the local train lines in and out of Laval have been quite a bit busier than usual after that overpass collapsed.

I am told that the AMT can keep the train as long as it needs it. I am sure there's some fine print I haven't been made aware of. My father, who works at the place that designed and manufacturers these trains, says, given those terms, that he'd just keep it forever.


But back to Louisville. I had a running joke with my brother some years ago to see which US state had the funniest name. There are a lot of them with funny names! Think about it! Most people say Mississippi, but they are amateurs. Mississippi has a name that's downright mundane compared to some of the other ones. Eventually we settled on Kentucky. Say it to yourself a few times. Kentucky. Kentucky. Keep saying it until it sounds really funny. It will. In any case, the part of Kentucky where Louisville is, which borders the state of Indiana, is apparently known as .. wait for it .. Kentuckiana.


Just when I thought I had a winner, my brother pointed out that that they could have done even better: Indiucky. I can't believe they had this chance and didn't take it. I simply can't believe it.

Digging a hole at YUL

Oh dear, the plane is arriving late, therefore departing late, thereby reducing the time I have to enjoy O'Hare.

In other news, I am now the proud owner of a new MacBook. The black one. After running Linux on a variety of different systems, I have to say, it's utterly amazingly refreshing to use something whose software was designed specifically for its hardware. I close it and it goes to sleep. I open it and it wakes up. In almost four years with my previous laptop, I never got power management working well enough that I would trust it.

Everything about it is so darned cute. The packaging. The swooshing windows. The power connector. The two-finger scrolling. Hee hee, oh my.

On the ground at ORD

Camping in the Adirondacks two weekends ago was fantastic. Perfect weather, fun company, a two-hour canoe ride from civilization, gorgeous scenery, howling coyotes, one broken saw blade, and three days of campfire produced from only one match. Howling coyotes? Howling coyotes. Or maybe they could have been wolves. I don't know. In any case, shortly after 3:00 AM one morning, there was a howl. OK. Then there was another howl. All right. Soon there were a dozen of the buggers howling at the same time, and all that stood between us was a whisper-thin slice of nylon or vinyl or whatever the crap they make tents out of these days is.

And then they stopped.

An interesting sociological oddity surfaced the next morning when we were talking about this. It seems we had, on average, about one freaked-out person per tent, while the other person apparently assumed the first person had the freaking-out nice and covered, and went back to sleep. I'm pretty sure this doesn't make any sense, but there it is.

I only really regret that I forgot to bring my camera. Idiot.

Right, so here we are in Chicago.


In fact, you can tell you're in the US because the airport wayfinder signs, in addition to indicating baggage areas, gates, and other terminals, also helpfully point out the nearest McDonald's! I wonder if this is half as funny as I think it is.

Later, on the flight to Louisville, I see a thousand shimmering points of red light (for I am seated on the port side) every time the wing strobe fires. Raindrops. Flash. Different every time. Flash. A random configuration of water pellets (flash), completely meaningless (flash) but so oddly relaxing.

My dentist has done something nasty. Three weeks ago I had the pleasure of inhaling my own bone dust while he filled two holes in my teeth. One is now perfectly fine, the other now aches, basically all day every day. I need to get this fixed. Unfortunately, my dentist is in Montréal, whereas I am now in futuristic Louisville!

Walkway to the future

I will go soon, because it is almost 2:00 AM, and I need to be up in the morning for a discussion about how to securely upload software to airplanes. I understand XML is trying to be involved. This may need to be stopped.

But first, I will relate to you the story of a melon. A surprise melon. Well, that's about it, really. It just started growing, this melon plant, presumably from a seed that was in some compost. We let it grow, protected the fruit from the nasty nasty squirrels, and it eventually turned into this thing that looked (on the outside) rather like a canteloupe, only just a bit bigger than a tennis ball.

Fruit is always cutest when you grow it yourself. It's cuter still when you weren't even trying to grow it.

The inside was green, rather unlike a canteloupe, and crunchy, and actually tasted rather like a cucumber. Totally strange, but totally worth the effort, since there was basically no effort involved anyway.

Surprise melon

And now, to bed.
(Posted on October 17, 2006 01:20)


My hotel room is designed to trick you into pouring coffee on your shoes.

(Posted on October 17, 2006 12:27)


In an unfortunate twist of fate, I managed to get sick during my only actual downtime this week, and so instead of going out to explore the city yesterday, I spent 16 hours in bed. That's a bit of a bummer. I'd be tempted to change my ticket and stay a day longer, except I've already done that once and it's a bit costly to keep on doing it. So, sadly, I won't have much to add to my travelogue this time. I can, at least, present you with the biggest baseball bat you ever did see:

Big bat (for opapic)

The Louisville Slugger Museum was closed for a private party when I walked by on Tuesday, so I never got to go in. But this 160-foot bat leaning casually against the building certainly makes an impression.

Small pleasures in life

One of my small guilty pleasures is visiting unlikely places in the southern US, attempting to buy alcohol, and seeing people's reactions when I show my Québec driver's license when they ask for ID. Today I got a "where the heck are you from?" before my unfortunate victim figured it out. Fair enough if they haven't seen one before, but still a fun game.

I'm still baffled as to why I get carded, though.

4th Street Live

(Posted on October 20, 2006 02:28)


Well, the TSA has succeeded where CATSA had failed, and my half-empty tube of toothpaste has now been donated to charity. I am no longer minty-fresh, but at least the terrorists didn't win.

her: Is that your toothpaste, sir?
me: Yes.
her: It's more than 90 mL. I have to take it.
me: Actually it isn't full. It's less than 90 mL.
her: It doesn't matter what's in it, it's the size of the tube.
me: Why?
her: It's big enough to mix a bomb in.
me: It's too bad you don't tell people what you look for.
her: This will be donated to charity.
her: Although I don't know who'll want a half-empty tube.
me: I would.
her: *hysterical laughter*

It was fun while it lasted.
(Posted on October 21, 2006 22:27)