Back in NZ, for a while.

Well, I'm back in NZ for a few weeks - until the 25th. Something important - really, really important, in the category of 'most important things ever' - has come up in NZ, and I convinced my employer to let me work from NZ for a while for 'personal' reasons.

I would really, really love to go into details here, but it's probably not wise. More later, including all the juicy details. This assumes that there is actually anyone who reads this that doesn't already know exactly what I'm talking about, anyway. Which I doubt.

Photos of my new apartment

A bunch of photos of my new apartment. Please forgive the poor compositing on the two of my work area, I didn't have a tripod, and it wasn't possible to get the whole thing with a single frame (too much dynamic range).

Edit: Added a picture of how it looks at sunset:

Somewhere to stay!

As much as I like sleeping in Dark's lounge, eating his breakfast cereal, and working from his dinner table, I have been desperately searching for a furnished apartment I can stay in while I'm here. All at once, on Thursday, my search paid off - with two seperate apartments. I took the slightly more expensive and slightly larger one, paying $100 less than Too Much for it. It's still a studio apartment, but it has a murphy bed, placed such that I can fold it up when I have people around, but I don't _have_ to if I don't. It has a nice little enclosed balcony/conservatory area with a computer workstation. I can work whilst looking out over the city from my dizzyingly high 32nd floor perspective.

Photos will be forthcoming once I'm moved in, later today.

Back in Canada

So, I made it back into Canada. After all the extensive, lawyer-assisted preparations so I would be able to explain myself in sufficient and excrutiating detail to the customs officers, I was simply waved through with nary a glance.

Then, as I pull away, suitcase in tow, the officer goes "Hold on a moment". "Uh oh", I think, "now I get the half hour of going over all my documentation 5 times before they're satisfied". I return to the desk, and give him back my passport. The passport scanner is flashing "NZ Passport Alert!!!" on and off. The screen has a single line entry " Personal Marajuana Posession". I have no idea what it's talking about - I presume a name collision. He puts the passport back on the scanner, waits a couple of seconds, takes it off, hands it back, and tells me I can go. I do.

How Canadian Immigration helps Amtrak compete with airlines for user-unfriendliness.

Today was the day I was scheduled to go back up to Canada, after 3 weeks down here in Seattle training at the offices of the company I contract for. In an ideal world, I would have headed back to Vancouver, whereupon I would have located a furnished apartment to stay in until the end of June, or, with an application to Canadian immigration, possibly as late as October.

Instead, I spent 4 hours getting down there, 3/4 of an hour being interrogated by Canadian Immigration personnell, 6 hours sitting in a stationary train being watched over by a security guard, and another 4 hours back to Seattle.

Basically, the Canadian customs officer decided my reasons for wanting to (re)enter Canada weren't wholesome enough. The fact that I was contracting for a Seattle company, and planning on staying in Vancouver with trips down to Seattle at intervals, apparrently indicated to him that:
1) I was doing this to avoid US visa requirements, which prohibit me from working for the Seattle company as an employee in Seattle, by tele-commuting from the conveniently-nearby Vancouver.
2) He had no proof that my company was even applying for an H1B VISA ...

Here I am

Well, here I am in Canada. The trip was, as expected, exhausting, and hard on my legs.

The flight out of Christchurch was on one of the old, unrefurbished 747s, which was rather annoying - the in-flight entertainment systems on the refurbished ones are really good at banishing boredom. Instead, mixed with mostly failed attempts to get some sleep, I read Jennifer Government cover-to-cover (good book), with enough time left over to watch the few remaining episodes of QI that I hadn't seen yet.

Then I transferred through LAX, where I had to pick up all my baggage to check it in at the transferring baggage desk. Thankfully, a helpful TSA(!) person told me I should take it all upstairs and get it checked in there, because the bike was too large and would have to go up there anyway. After a wait of about 1/2 an hour to get into the lift, my bag, box and bike were accepted almost immediately.

The service from Air Canada wasn't nearly as bad as I'd been led to expect - the flight attendants were friendly to a fault, and I have no complaints. Maybe it was an exception.

On arriving ...