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BSDCon 2000 - the trip home 8 November 2000
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I've 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 story, 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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