Randy McCharles took me to The Smuggler's Inn, where eight other local members of the Due North committee joined us for a very nice brunch. I only wish I could let myself go wild on these things the way I used to do. I still had a fine meal, which is good because there was no food scheduled for the flight back to the Bay Area.
Following the leisurely brunch, Randy took me out to the airport, for which I thank him. Unlike my trip to SFO on Friday, I had piles of time here, so much that I went and explored the airport a little bit. I'd seen handouts for the Calgary SpacePort in the tourist brochures at the hotel -- it's located on the upper level of the airport -- but had never had time to look. I couldn't go on any of the rides because I was encumbered with luggage -- once you check in for a US-bound flight, you must keep moving and can't go back to the main part of the airport. It did, however, look like a fun experience, especially for children. I was mildly disappointed that the multi-planet scale (showing your weight on Earth, the Moon, and Mars) read only in pounds, not kilograms.
My plan was to get some work done during the long wait for the flight, so I headed over to United Express check-in. The automated check-in kiosk didn't offer me an option to upgrade to Economy Plus (more legroom), so I asked the counter agent. He couldn't figure it out either and asked the supervisor. She said, "Oh, just do it for free; it's too complicated to calculate." That was nice! The equipment was a CRJ-700 (called a CRJ-70 by United Express/Skywest), with 2 x 2 seating. I got a pair of seats to myself, which is good or else I would not have had room to use my computer on the plane even with the extended legroom thanks to the person in front of me doing a maximum recline.
Hitting the Duty Free, I bought boxes of maple chocolates for co-workers and family, and a package of salmon jerky for myself (I later ate the jerky on the flight). I was just barely able to squeeze this into my luggage so that I didn't have to carry it on to the plane.
The US immigration guy asked me why I'd been here. I replied, truthfully, "To attend a meeting of the board of directors of a non-profit society of which I'm a member."
"What society?" he asked.
"The Canada West Science Fiction Association." Either I was mumbling or he didn't believe his ears, because he made me repeat it, slowly.
"What does it do?" He asked.
I explained, "We organize conventions of science fiction and fantasy fans, authors, artists, and so forth."
He looked at me like I was as much of a dork as he looked like (not that I was going to tell him that!) and said, "Got your light saber with you?"
I'm not going to mouth off to someone who has arbitrary and capricious authority over me. I said, evenly, without directly answering his question, "Our events do not usually have movie or television stars at them; they ask for large fees to appear that we're not willing to pay, and our events are focused more on written science fiction and art."
"Just the written stuff, huh?" He stamped my passport and dismissed me. I'm not sure whether I should be annoyed or not about how dismissively he treated written fiction.
Anyway, after checking my luggage, I got into the x-ray queue. Ahead of me were a lot of athletic-looking guys in dark blazers. Many of them were carrying duffel bags with a flaming "C" on them. It was, apparently, the Calgary Flames NHL Hockey team, on their way to play the a game in Denver.
We were delayed at this point because the metal detector broke and there was confusion as they brought another one online and re-worked the queues, but eventually after about ten minutes we were through, and I still had more than two hours before my flight.
My first stop was the arcade to see if they had any new pinball machines since my last visit. They didn't, but I decided to drop a loonie into one of them marked "1 game - 50 cents," intending to play it a couple of times. To my annoyance, it only gave me one credit, and it wasn't in particularly good working order, either.
Deciding pinball was not going to be worth my time, I went to the Tim Horton's and bought a cafe mocha. I was surprised when this turned out to be just them pouring a half-cup of regular coffee and pouring in hot chocolate. Oh well, it gave me justification to sit in their seating area with tables. The only power outlet in the place had already been snagged, but I had lots of battery time, so I fired up my computer intending to get to work on the CWSFA minutes.
Imagine my unhappiness when, while trying to open a copy of the previous minutes to use as a template, I got the message "The Disk in Drive C is not formatted? Would you like to format it now!" Aggh, no! Many other things on the drive still functioned, so I set it to work on a CHKDSK, figuring that I had over an hour left before I needed to be at the gate. After about ten minutes, CHKDSK did find a dozen or so unindexed files (including the CWSFA minutes from the past, which I have on multiple machines as well) and did other sundry repairs, and proceeded to reboot to normal mode.
Except that I got a system error on reboot, and when, as suggested, I restarted the computer, it insisted on going through CHKDSK again (no errors this time) and repeated back to the same system error. That's worrying. I repeated the process one more time but F8'd on the reboot and told it to try last known good configuration, and that worked. I think something about Linda Ross-Mansfield's USB key (to which I'd transferred files yesterday) may have made my computer unhappy.
This used up half of my available work time, and I'd finished my coffee, so I shut down and headed toward the gate area, where I was able to locate a power outlet so I could at least partially recharge the batteries while I continued working on the CWSFA minutes. I got partway through them when they started boarding. With such a small plane and light load, boarding was quick, and we left on time.
As soon as the signal game that computers could be used, I started mine up again and got back to work. I got nearly all of the minutes done, except for some things I have to check today that I couldn't in the air because I needed an internet connection to get at them. I missed all of the spectacular scenery of the Canadian Rockies because I'd lowered the shade in order to be able to see my screen -- it was very bright out there.
Arriving in SFO on time, I claimed my luggage without incident, and called cherylmorgan, who was in the City that day and planned to meet me. I'd previously picked up a BART schedule, so I was able to tell her which specific train I'd be on and (once I'd boarded it) which car, so we were able to meet up and head back to Fremont with minimal hassle.
I'm feeling pretty good about the Calgary trip. I'll have more to say about it in a few days once we have formal announcements ready to go out.
I'll be back home now for just the next couple days, as I leave for Yuba City on Wednesday afternoon on the train for Sacramento, where Lisa and I will spend Thanksgiving visiting my family.