BSDCon 2000 – the trip home

BSDCon 2000 – the trip home

been home just over a week, so I thought it was time I wrote a bit on the return home.

The trip back

I’ve been back in the country about a week. I thought it was time I wrote
up the post-BSDCon details of my trip. After BSDCon 2000, I went to visit my parents and
friends in Ottawa. I caught up with my friends Eric and Janet. I went to university with
Eric and his wife Leisa. And I’ve known Janet since my final year at Carleton. I hadn’t seen either of them since my
brother’s wedding back in 1998. It was good to see them.

The social highlights of the
trip was the Sunday afternoon/evening I spent at Eric’s and the Friday night out with
Janet’s friends. At Eric’s new home, I toured his massive house, caught up on my email,
soaked in the hotpool, watched High Definition TV, saw Toy Story II on DVD, and ate a huge
steak dinner. That was good. On Friday night, Janet and I met for a beer in the late
afternoon, and then I met her and her friends later that night at Manx on Elgin St. I was
the first male to arrive. This was a girls night out, and I was to be an obliging victim /
honorary female for the night. At the table were Amanda, Janet, me, Wood, Barb, ?, ?, and
?. About an hour after I arrived, the second male arrived. This was someone whom Barb had
recently met and invited along to meet her single friends. It quickly became obvious to
everyone, but Barb, that her friend was quite interested in her. It was so good that Janet
rang her man and got him to come by and enjoy the evening. It wasn’t until her friend was
absent from the table that we got a chance to tell Barb about our observations. She was
doubtful. But time will tell. I’ll have to get the updates from Janet later.

My flight back from Ottawa to Wellington started off badly. First, I had to get up at
4:30 am to get a flight to Toronto. The baggage carousels weren’t working. So I had to
leave my bags on a trolley. It wasn’t until I got to the airport that I realised I’d left
behind a poster on the trolley. It wasn’t that important. I can live without it. But it
was a poor start.

The flight from Ottawa to Toronto was uneventful. Just the way they should be. From
Toronto to San Francisco, I read and slept. I shared a row with an Israli who was on his
way from Tel Aviv for a week of work. I was met at SFO by Denise, who happened to have
most of my clothes. For those of you who haven’t read the previous
, Denise kindly transported some of my baggage contents from Monterey back to San
Francisco. But then we didn’t meet up before I flew out to Ottawa. She met me at SFO with
three shopping bags so we could do the transfer. It must have looked funny. Right there in
the baggage hall, I redistributed my clothes between my suitcase and my duffel bag, all
the while, ensuring that the donated hardware was safely stowed in my carry-on baggage.
There was no way I was going to pack the hard drives into my suitcase. I think that would
be a fine recipe for disaster.

Then it was time to check in for my flight back to New Zealand. We waited in a very
long queue for about 30 minutes. Only to be told I had to queue again for a security x-ray
of the bags. About 90 minutes after landing, I was finally checked in and it was time for
some food. Denise and I devoured some bagel sandwiches and then wandered over to the
departure lounge. It wasn’t long before the flight was boarded. We said goodbye and I
caught the plane to LA.

I can’t remember the flight to LA. I can remember that it was raining. In LA. But not
in SF, where it was quite warm and sunny, from what I could tell from inside the terminal.
Worse still, what was going to be a three hour stopover, turned into an 8 hour marathon.
The flight was going to be late arriving in LA, and therefore late to depart. There had
been some sort of problem on an earlier flight, which delayed the plane. After check-in, I
headed up to the food hall for some more food. I eat a lot when I travel. There isn’t much
else to do in airports. I spent my first three hours sitting in Burger King talking to
some people from Australia. Then their flight to Sydney took off, and that was that. I had
finished reading the book I had bought in Ottawa. And the book I bought in Toronto. I was
now sick of reading. I didn’t want to sleep because that would mean I’d be awake on the
plane. Eventually I found a NZer heading home from London. We started talking and soon it
was boarding time.

The LA-Auckland flight was fine. Lots of food, movies, and about 6 hours of sleep. We
arrived in Auckland at about 10:30 local time, I think. It took ages for the baggage to
arrive. Then it was a brisk 1km walk over to the domestic terminal. A free shuttle bus was
available but my Wellington flight was leaving soon so the decision was made to walk over
rather than wait for the bus. I was too late for the flight, so I had to wait an hour for
the next one. The airline staff member asked why we were late and when she heard about the
reasons, she arranged for entry into the Koru lounge where I, once again, stuffed my face.
But this time it wasn’t airline food. It was fresh sandwiches, fruit, orange juice and
salad. It was good to be home.

The Wellington flight arrived on time. I caught a shuttle bus to my house.
Unfortunately, my house sitter had double locked the front door. And I didn’t have a key
for the second lock. Luckily, I did have a key for the detached garage. From there, I
deactivated the alarm, grabbed the ladder, and broke into my house.

It was 3:30pm on 31 October 2000. It was 41 hours since I had left my bed in Ottawa.
But there was no way I was going to go to sleep now. One of my methods for avoiding jet
lag is to sleep on the plane. Which is fine if you *can* sleep on planes. Another method
is to stay awake and go to bed at a time suitable to your new location. I was determined
to that. Besides, I had two missions to complete.

Mission 1 – get the Hallowe’en costume

Hallowe’en is relatively new to New Zealand. It’s only in the past few years that kids
have started to trick’r’treat. And for the past three years, I have always made sure they
get a trick at my place. This year, I dressed up in a costume with huge plastic feet,
large gnarly hands, a long robe, a full face rubber mask, and a small plastic sythe (if
you don’t know what that is, think of that large tool which the Grim Reaper/Death
carries). I sat in a chair on my front porch. Very still. You can’t seem my front door
from the street. But as the kids came up the path and around the corner, they would stop
and stare at this life-size alien-like dummy which was slumped in a chair outside my door.
You could always see the doubt on their face. Some were clearly scared. The hardest part
for me was making sure they couldn’t see me breathing. Eventually, they’d walk up to the
front door and knock. In order to do this, they had to stand right beside me. After they’d
knock, I’d growl and poke them with the scythe.

*insert my laughter here*

They’d scream and laugh. They loved it. I loved it.

Later that night, after most of the kids had finished, my neighbour Sue dropped by. She
rang first. I told her about the dummy I’d left on the front porch to scare the kids. So
of course when she came around the corner, she just laughed and walked right up to the
door and knocked. Then I poked her. She screamed.

Unluckily, Sue had locked herself out of her house. So when she rang her friend, who
had spare keys, she said "And don’t worry about the dummy in the chair, it’s been
scaring the kids". Just like Sue, when her friend saw the dummy, he just walked right
up. Knocked on the door, and got poked. He was more scared than Sue was!

Now I have to figure out how to top this for next year.

Mission 2 – get a computer case

Of course, the real mission for today was to obtain a computer case. I dropped down to
my local computer shop, Quay Computers. They had just
what I needed. I took the motherboard with me to verify that it would fit within the case
in question.

The rest of the story

Tomorrow, I’ll publish the details of how I assembled the computer and got
it running.  Watch this space.

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