Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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Welcome to the World, My New Passport – I Have Big Plans for You!

PassportsMy new passport surprised me by arriving 12 days before its expected due date. It’s a 10-year passport, which means it’s got lots of pages (which I’m eager to fill up with stamps!). The pages are fancier than my previous passport1, which all contained a big maple leaf with a bunch of little maple leaves2 in the background; the new passport has a different image of Canadiana on each page – there’s Terry Fox and Nellie McClung and the last spike in the railroad and parliament buildings and symbols of Aboriginal Peoples of Canada, just to name a few. This version of the Canadian passport also contains a “contactless integrated circuit” – so it’s pretty much a cyborg.

Unlike when I got my last passport, when I had no specific plans of where I was going to go with the passport, I actually have a big international trip planned, which I just realizing that I haven’t blogged about at all! In the fall I’ll be going to Australia! I have a conference to attend in Perth3, and then my travelling companion and I will be heading to Byron Bay for some surfing, then Sydney for some citying, and then on the way home we have two days in Hong Kong. Because we have to fly home via Hong Kong, so why spend 2 hours in HK when you can spend 2 days there?


Old passport on the left, new passport on the right. Enjoy your retirement, old passport! You earned it!

In addition to getting my passport renewed, I also had to get something known as an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) – everyone (unless they are from New Zealand, has to get one in order to be able to enter Australia. It was a simple online application and then you don’t even need to put something in your passport; apparently you end up on some list that the airline can check before you board a plane to Australia and the borders peeps Down Under can check when you get there. So I’ve done that, booked flights, registered for the conference, booked hotels and AirBnBs in the various locations we are going to be, and researched fun stuff to do. Perth, which is in Western Australia, has all kinds of cool things we can do, including (but not limited to): desert tour with sandboarding, winery tours, visiting a haunted prison, and Rottnest Island, home to the cutest animal in existence: the quokka! Seriously guys, look at this freaking thing:

World happiest animal, Quokka

Byron Bay was chosen as our surfing location as apparently it’s a good place for beginning surfers to learn.

And speaking of surfing, let us not forget that January is a certain someone’s certain special birthday and everyone has been invited to join me for a surfing trip to Hawaii! I have done zero planning on that trip so far, despite having 7.5 years of planning time! I haven’t even figured out what part of Hawaii to go to – anyone who knows Hawaii well, I’m open to suggestions!.

My other upcoming trip on which I will be taking this new passport is to go to San Diego in November to run in the USA Half Marathon Invitational! This race is one that you have to qualify to get into – and since my Vancouver BMO half & Montreal half last year were both good enough, I was able to register! I’ve also made zero plans for that trip, though I have some Air Miles that I need to use up before next year, so I’ll likely be using those.

So, it looks like my new passport is going to get quite a workout in the first 6 months of its life with me! I wonder what other places I’ll take it in the subsequent 9.5 years?

Image Credit: Quokka photo posted by Jin Xiang on Flickr.

  1. And, if fact, all three of my previous passports, which look just like my most recently retired one. []
  2. I nearly just typed that at “maple leafs”! []
  3. Which means that I get to check item #37 off my 101 list: “Present at a conference at an international location (not including USA)” []


Dear My Old Passport

Dear My Old Passport

You came into my life just over five years ago and I promised to take you to all sorts of wondrous places. And while I didn’t take you to most of the places on the list of places I said I would like to take you, I took you to a bunch of other places instead. Because I’m spontaneously like that.

We did go to London – the only city on the list – but then we went to a whole bunch of places I didn’t even think to put on the list. In addition to the stamps from Heathrow, you have stamps from Dublin, Zürich, and Geneva – the latter two of which were just stopovers in airports – and you accompanied me to France and Monaco, though we got no stamps in either of those places. And of course, there were trips to the USA – you got stamped when we went to Hollywood, California, to San Francisco, and to Kansas City, MO by plane – and you didn’t get stamped when we went to Portland or to Seattle by car. It’s not nearly as much travel as I would like to have done in the past five years – noticeably absent from this list is any glorious tropical locations – but I truly did enjoy all the places we went.

As much fun as our adventures have been, our time together is coming to an end. Your expiry dates looms and that means I have to trade you in for a newer model. I’ve had my terrible passport photos taken and I’ve filled out my Simplified Renewal Passport Application, and I’ll drop those things off, along with you, at the Service Canada office tomorrow and then will eagerly await your replacement, which will be valid for a glorious 10 years.


But I’ve specifically checked the box requesting you be returned to me:


The next time I see you after that you’ll be mutilated – a big red “Cancelled” will be stamped in you and your corner will be cut off so that no one will mistake you for a valid document. But you’ll still have your stamps of the places we went together – and as you were the passport that was with my on the first time I left the continent, you’ll always hold a special place in my heart.

Yours most sincerely,

Your Loving Owner


Dear My New Passport


Dear My New Passport,

You came into my life a full five days before your expected due date and with you comes many expectations. You will be with me for the next five years, and unlike your much neglected predecessor, I intend to take you to all sorts of wondrous places where we can have the most delicious adventures! Oh, just think of the fun we will have and the stories we’ll be able to tell upon our return to our home and native land.

Here is a non-complete list of all the places I would like to take you, in no particular order:

  • Hawaii
  • Australia
  • London
  • Tokyo
  • Copenhagen
  • NYC
  • Paris
  • Peru1
  • somewhere in Africa
  • Turks and Caicos
  • Iceland

Our first trip will be just a little jaunt down to Portland in early August, but I promise you that we will leave this continent just as soon as I get the money and the vacation time rounded up to do so.

Yours most sincerely,

Your Loving Owner

  1. specifically, Machu Picchu []


Passport Renewal – Or Why The Zombie Apocalypse Needs To Wait Until After July 20th

So, the road trip down the coast that I had planned with my sister and her crew has been slightly altered due to the fact that it’s INSANELY expensive to fly to Vancouver right now. Instead, Team Nancy is going to fly to Portland, where it isn’t nearly as expensive to fly to1, and I’m going to drive down to meet them.

The plan is to do this the first week of August. Which meant that the fact that my passport expires on August 3 would be something of a problem!

Thankfully, if you have a current passport and meet a few requirements, there is now a Simplified Passport Renewal Application you can use to get your passport renewed in a jiffy. Where a “jiffy” = 10 business days.

First, of course, you need to get your passport photo taken. I did some Googling to find a pasport photo taking place that was on the way from my office to the Passport Canada office in Richmond and then place I ended up going was a shop that mostly sold Bollywood movies on DVD and some other random stuff, but also does passport photos. And in the back there is a hair salon. I believe the shop was called “WTF?” Anyway, I gave them $6 and they gave me two passport photos and then I was on my way to the Passport Canada office.

Mercifully, there was no line up at the passport office, so I was able to walk right up the counter and some lady checked out my paper work and photos and then gave me a number, which was called immediately, so I handed everything to the guy at the next counter. He took my $87 and then lectured me on the fact that I shouldn’t have my credit card listed as “Beth,” since that’s not legally my name and thus it doesn’t match my government issued ID, so someone could refuse to accept it on the grounds that I could have just discovered a card that had been lost and that the original owner had not signed the back of, and then just signed it myself and started using it. Of course, the odds that I would find a lost credit card with no signature and the name “Beth Snow” on it, which very closely matches my “Mary Elizabeth Snow” ID, is about as good as the odds of my discovering an unsigned lost credit card that has the name “Mary Snow” on it. Furthermore, I sign “Beth Snow” on all my ID, including government documents that list my name as “Mary Elizabeth Snow.” Which means I’d have happened to discover some other “Beth Snow’s” unsigned credit card and I just so happen to have signed my “Mary Elizabeth Snow” passport as “Beth Snow,” and it all just worked out like that. But he was processing the paperwork for my much needed passport, so I wasn’t going to argue.

When you submit your passport application, they invalidate your current passport by stamping “cancelled” in it and cutting off the corner of it:


Which means I’m now trapped in the country for the next 9 business days! Sure, I haven’t left the country in *ages*, but now I have a *burning* desire to go to Seattle, just because I can’t. And, as Cath asked me on Facebook, “But what if the zombies come in from the north?! Did you think about that?!” Clearly I did not. So now I just have to pray to the FSM that the zombie apocalypse either comes from the south so I can flee to the north, or waits until after July 20th.

  1. Nor as expensive to get a hotel room and rent a car []