RFID in U.S. passports are here

I guess it is not too surprising, but one would think that the era of bar codes coming into the background technology of passports would make life easier for travel. It’s a lot like shopping. Walk up to the counter, swipe it through, and you’re in. It wasn’t until a snippet on BoingBoing linked to the following article that I learned about the changes of international travel as a U.S. citizen.

How To: Disable Your Passport’s RFID Chip

All passports issued by the US State Department after January 1 will have always-on radio frequency identification chips, making it easy for officials – and hackers – to grab your personal stats. Getting paranoid about strangers slurping up your identity? Here’s what you can do about it. But be careful – tampering with a passport is punishable by 25 years in prison. Not to mention the “special” customs search, with rubber gloves. Bon voyage! [wired]

It’s not a constant tracking of your movements, but this is getting somewhat close. RFID[wiki] is how large companies, like Wal-Mart or FedEx, track shipments of materials across the expanse of their operations. Like the article says, this technology is pretty much always on. Just like GPS, you just have to have the right tools to tune in and find our where you are. Except in this case, someone can find your general location. Or at least, they can find where you lost your favorite pair of pants that you left your passport in.

I have till the end of this decade until I have to renew mine, and this really creeps me out. I wonder when someone will start selling lead-lined wallets for your passport. After 2010, I’ll become a dot on someone’s grid.

Jiminy Jillikers, Radioactive Man

No stone is left unturned in the War on Terror[wiki].

An 83-year-old Surrey man who had been injected with a radioactive dye as part of his medical treatment set off a nuclear alarm at the Peace Arch crossing south of Vancouver last week.

Stanley Smith had undergone an injection of a radioactive dye into his heart as part of a diagnostic scan.

He was on his way to the Ferndale Casino in Washington state when the alarm sounded.

Mike Milne, who speaks for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, says guards took the senior to the secondary inspection area, where he was interrogated for half an hour before being allowed to proceed.  [cbc]

My mother has to carry a card with her whenever she travels commercially because of a knee replacement she had a few years ago.  That way the TSA knows that there is metal in her knee and not a concealed weapon.  This a far cry from detectors picking up nuclear material at the border, but maybe they should issue cards for radioactive, elderly folks as well.

Maybe it helps him see what the dealer is holding at the blackjack table.

Eat at Rolly’s

Rolly's in Hope, B.C.I was going through my photo library on my laptop and came across pictures from the weekend getaway that Rebecca and I took to the Okanagan a few months ago. Perhaps one of these days I will get around to posting some of those to my Flickr. When you take a boy who has lived in the rolling prairies of the midwest all his life into the mountains, he tends to get a little camera happy.

Let me just say, landslides are impressive. I fear them now.

We stopped in Hope, B.C. for some breakfast on our way out, obviously at Rolly’s. Personally, this will be one of the most memorable parts of our trip because not only is the food good, but that little grease stop is too cool. Never before in my life have I ever felt more like Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield from Pulp Fiction[imdb]. The locals kept looking at Rebecca and I like we were going to rob the place ourselves. That doesn’t imply that they were unfriendly. We just weren’t apart of the local crowd, and it might be fair to say that this fact was on the obvious side.

Still, I will make my demands that anytime we pass through Hope and are looking for a meal, we’re stopping at Rolly’s.

Back From The Fruit Of B.C.

I am a good driver...  What a great, little getaway.

I get a feeling that running away like we did to the Okanagan[wiki. def.] would be a cliche thing to do for some Vancouverites, but there is no way that we are not going to do trips like this again. You can see how people flock to the valley for summertime vacations, even more so for those family holidays that your mom and dad dragged you along to. Miniture golf courses, beaches, B&B’s, real golf courses, hotel after hotel, and huge homes on the shores that one can only dream of ever owning.

Kelowna is a great community. However, it’s a city with two faces. Off-season and on-season. It seems like all of the hotels are hiring right now, the phrase “for the coming season” being key. To me, it’s a bit like the Wisconsin Dells[wiki. def.], but Kelowna has it beat for sure. I don’t think you can check out as many attractions as you can back in the states. At the same time, I don’t think that is why people flock there.

Crusing down Highway 5...The drive to get there and back was a treat for myself. I have this ongoing love of road trips, and Rebecca couldn’t be a better companion for that. With both of our iPods, we had plenty of tunes to make up for the lack of radio stations between populated areas. We took a different route there than we did back, so I got to see a lot of the mountainside between destinations. It could have been the fact that we set out early on Friday, but I said very little the whole way there, my head turned out the passenger side window with the hope that I might get to see a bear. No luck. Continue reading “Back From The Fruit Of B.C.”

Adventures in Canadian Wine Country

Heading off to the Okanagan [wiki. def.] to get away for the weekend. For me, it’ll be a chance to explore more of the interior of British Columbia. I’m unsure as to what to expect from the mountain passes in terms of driving the route to get there, but it’s going to be a pretty fun experience.

Rebecca and I on wine tours? I think it’s a recipie for neat things to happen. I’d say disaster, but I know it’s going to be a good time. Makes disaster seem like such a lackluster word, eh?