Customs and Immigration

I'm in California at the moment (lunch, Mr. Kite? Monday or Tuesday?). My husband and my two little kids are here too. They decided to come along to keep me company because I am here for a full week. We are lucky to be here. Let me tell you about the nasty thing that happened to me at the Vancouver International Airport.

If you're travelling to the US from Vancouver, you clear (if all goes well) Customs and Immigration in Vancouver. I've never had any problem crossing... until yesterday.

I got a bad feeling from the officer right from the moment we were directed into his queue. He took his time before he looked up from the glow of his computer screen to acknowledge us. I won't say greet us because, um, that didn't happen. (Despite the pure fiction they have displayed on posters in the Customs Zone at the airport: We pledge to greet you with courtesy and welcome you to the United States. Ha! More like, We pledge to get erections while we give you the silent treatment until you start to babble and cry.) Anyway, he asked some questions, and then slowly and deliberately reached for an upsettingly non-handy fat purple felt pen.* I could tell this wasn't his regular pen. He wrote a big letter "H" on my customs card. "H"?? I've never seem that before. What could I have said to give me the worrisome H?

Then he said, "Go in there." And pointed to a set of closed doors. Not a good sign. (Did I mention that it is 4:30 am?) I said, "Is there a problem?" He said, "I don't know."

To make a long story short, we had a long wait in the second room. The clock was ticking (as clocks do), and I was starting to get nervous about missing my flight (the fam was on a later flight so I wasn't as worried about them). Finally, I had some more questions from a slightly nicer person and found out that I am violating NAFTA rules by coming down here to do work. The only reason they finally let me through was because I swore up and down that I was only coming here for training and that I wouldn't do a stitch of work (so help me god). The fact that I work for the same company in Vancouver as the one that I am visiting in the US? Makes no difference. The fact that I am doing the same work in Vancouver as I would do in the US? Makes no difference.

Good to know. Wish my company had given me a heads up (does this take an apostrophe? I've often wondered. I will look it up someday).

They added an annotation to my passport record. I expect that border crossing will get harder from now on.

I ran and made my flight with 2 minutes to spare. I am not in very good cardiovascular shape.

But here we are. We're having a pretty good time.

* Yes, I need that many adjectives.



My favorite books from my childhood are those in C.S. Lewis's Narnia series. In particular, I love The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Naturally, when I was a little mite, I didn't pick up on the Christian symbolism. Now that I am a Big Fat Atheist, I notice it all right, but don't give a hoot. Actually, that's not quite true: if anything, I rather enjoy it. I suppose it's because the books were already special to me.

More of a problem for me is the fact the Susan doesn't get to come back to Narnia at the end of the series. Why not? This is especially hard for a child reader to understand. A child reader wants the whole family together: the thought of an excluded one is hard to accept.

I can tell, even from the very first book that she appears in (T.L.t.W.a.t.W.), that Susan is not Lewis's favored child. She doesn't want to give in to the magical world. In Prince Caspian she is the last to see Aslan and is responsible for leading the children astray while they are on their way to join the battle. In The Last Battle, Susan does not appear and is described by one of the children who returns as "...no longer a friend of Narnia." But why? Is it because she is too cautious and sensible to believe (to have faith?) or is it because (as some critics think) she is becoming a sexual being, more concerned with her own beauty?

And what of Aslan's words in T.L.t.W.a.t.W.: "Once a king or queen of Narnia, always a king or queen of Narnia"? How are we to reconcile these things? Perhaps Susan just has to wait for her turn. Maybe she has a thing or two to learn first.

Neil Gaiman (most awesome modern fantasy writer) wrote a short story a few years ago called "The Problem of Susan." (It appears in his recent collection, Fragile Things.) This story features an elderly Professor Hastings, who is Susan Pevensie in her dotage. Worth a read. Gives quite a different perspective. Don't read aloud to children.


Water and Wine

I'll admit that the puzzles that appear here are easy for me to pull together for your enjoyment: I don't make them up. They're the lazy girl's blog post. The low-hanging fruit. You'll see more of them when I'm busy. When I don't have time to do a proper post about (a) what I'm reading*, (b) atheism, (c) language, or (d) funny stuff, I'll give you a puzzle to hold your interest. I want you to stay with me!

So, without further ado:

You have a glass of water and a glass of wine. Both glasses contain the same volume of their respective liquids. Take a teaspoon of the water and add it to the wine, then take a teaspoon of the wine and add it to the water.

Question: Is there now more water in the wine glass or vice-versa? Can you give a simple explanation for your answer?

* Harry Potter book 7, I'm afraid. All of creation is reading this at present. My cousin told me of a recent spoken word performance she attended: the performer simply took a seat, paged to the end of the latest Harry Potter, and read the last 4 pages aloud. He was booed.


Explain this sequence

Explain why this sequence is ordered as it is:

8 5 4 9 1 7 6 3 2 0


T-Rex is damn sexy!

Surely you agree! Enjoy more of his awesome exploits at qwantz.com.



As a follow-up to this post, I feel I should alert you to the existence of the term wev.**

This, apparently, is a short form of whatever, come to us through the intermediate stops of whatev and whatevs. Yeah, it sux having to text words of eight or more letters...unless they are strings (can't really call them "words") like omfgrofl or kthxbye: eight little letters doing the work of many, many more.

I don't like wev—not because it's abbreviated, mind you (I luv abbrvs! Abbrvs rck! UR N MY BRAIN, TOXOPLASMOSING MY GRMMR***)—for all the same reasons I don't like whatever, but I suppose it has a breezy newness to it. At least, it does for me; at least, it does so far.

**Yes, yes, this is also from Language Log.

***I didn't make this up. I don't know who did. I wish it were me.