Friday, July 08, 2005

Toronto-Vancouver: following the sun

airport sunset
Pearson Airport sunset,
originally uploaded by gail on the web.

Air Canada Flight 1163
35,000 ft?? (bloody high, anyway)

I'm flying west, so this is a very drawn-out sunset. It's gorgeous, though -- my last day in Toronto turned out to be one of the best since I got here. We've been flying for two hours, and I can still see the sun on the horizon.

All is quiet here in Business Class, where only about half of the section is occupied. Just a handful of businessmen, and me. I'm in Row 1 again, but I have it all to myself this time. Except across the aisle, where David Suzuki's legs are stretched out, his sandalled feet resting on the armrests of the seat in front of him. I hope his feet aren't smelly.

Wait. Back up. Dr. David Suzuki?

He was the first person I noticed when I got on the plane. Forget musicians, forget actors, forget that type of celebrity. Think Eminent Environmental Scientist. Now, THAT'S someone worth celebrating.

Ever since I can remember, David Suzuki has been a prominent figure in Canadian environmental science. His face and name are instantly recognisable from years of hosting The Nature of Things on CBC. His contributions to the scientific community are extensive. As a youngster, I thought he had the best job EVER. He got to travel to places near and far, play with animals, exploring and reporting on the natural world. What could be better than that?

It's also a testament to the benefits of clean living that Dr. Suzuki should look virtually THE SAME, even after all this time. His hair's just whiter, that's all.


The movie, as per usual, stinks. Sahara, with Matthew McConaughey, who holds zero appeal for me (his accent and permanent tan put me off), and Penelope Cruz, who should never have crossed over to English films. She was fine in her native Spanish, but after Abre Los Ojos (Open Your Eyes), she couldn't seem to prove her acting chops in English. I watched all of about 10 minutes, but I just couldn't buy Cruz posing as a World Health Organization doctor, wearing opera-heavy eye makeup in the desert. What doctor has time to put on makeup in the morning to save lives in the Third World? Does Revlon make sand-resistant mascara?

I'm going to try and catch up on writing about the Toronto trip. I've had limited internet access, so I've only been able to upload a select number of photos since the big bulk upload of the Pride Parade the first weekend. The wireless router at the place David and I stayed at last weekend was located in the lobby, so the signal was great down there, but it didn't reach us on the third floor. We did manage, however, to surf on a partial signal thanks to 'Ryan and Adele's network o' fun' -- no joke, that's exactly what it was called! Thanks Ryan and Adele, whoever you are!

[Announcement to sit down. Turbulence. We're descending... is this bad news? I can see lightning in the distance. I think we're trying to avoid a storm. We're halfway.]

[Update: I can see lightning to the north of the wing, but we're too far away now for me to get a good shot. I've bumped up the exposure and narrowed the aperture like David suggested, but the sun is still a little too bright to the west to make out the lightning. Dr. Suzuki's moved up to Row 1. See, lots more room here in Row 1!]


I'm not uploading photos in chronological order, so I've pretty much given up on writing about things in chronological order. I think the brain works more randomly, anyway. Consider memory retrieval -- can anything be more random? I don't think there's ever a time when a person just sits down and thinks of events in the past -- recent or otherwise -- in chronological fashion. The filing system in the brain is far more complex than that -- our memories may have timestamps, but are strongly reinforced by mental landmarks, i.e., things that are important to us. I think of life's moments as benchmarked by events, people, places. Smells are also a strong memory trigger for me. Perhaps a more scientific person classifies memories by referencing them to academic or global events.


Speaking of global events, I watched the news on Air Canada's in-flight news service, and it's a day behind -- there was no mention of what happened this morning in London at all. It only had coverage of the G8 Summit in Scotland and the IOC announcing London's winning bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics. This afternoon I was horrified when Serg came by and asked me if I'd heard. I hadn't because I was doing stuff in the apartment and didn't turn on the TV. Last night we were at ScoreCuts and watched footage as Trafalgar Square erupted in cheering after the Olympics announcement, and my initial reaction was the same as Vancouver's winning bid for the 2010 Olympics: this is going to be EXPENSIVE, eg. security. Little did I know that Britain would have less than 24 hours to celebrate its win before it fell victim to a terrorist attack. It's almost as if al-Quaida expected them to win the bid, so their strike would create more fear.

Security at Pearson today didn't appear to be heightened, but the flights to London were either cancelled or delayed. Air Canada agents were running around the airport, trying to locate people who were trying to get to London, Paris, or Zurich. These are fearful times. But I'll still fly. Threats in the air are no greater than threats on the ground.


For those 'in the know', I am one step closer to getting my fiancee visa. Until then, I'm still working on the wedding plans with the firm date of October 8 in Vancouver, regardless of the visa timing. This will make planning much easier for my friends in Europe who have already booked their holidays for September and October. I have friends flying out from Germany and France, some of whom are planning to attend BOTH receptions (October 1 in Pennsylvania, October 8 in Vancouver), and this visa issue is throwing a big wrench in everyone's plans. The logistics of it all require twice as much planning.

I've been trying to figure this out for a while, because what if the visa drags longer? People have already made flight reservations for Vancouver. We haven't sent out invitations because we didn't know whether we should try and postpone EVERYTHING, or postpone the wedding and keep the Vancouver date. The clock is ticking, and we've held off on announcements as long as we could. Plus, once I get the fiancee visa, I am only allowed to enter the United States ONCE before the wedding. That means all my arrangements in Vancouver must be completed before I leave, because I can't return before October. It came down to whether we thought it was a good idea to host a reception in Vancouver BEFORE the wedding. Depending on the timing of everything, we could bill it as a 'pre-wedding reception' or a 'wedding reception'.

This is official: October 8 at Aberthau House in Vancouver is DEFINITELY HAPPENING, but we might have to scale it back a bit to make it simpler.

I took advantage of my visits to the Royal Ontario Museum and the Textiles Museum of Canada yesterday in Toronto to get some ideas for the wedding. At the Textiles Museum, I found fabrics that were much more appealing than the uncomfortable 'princessy' material found on the average wedding dress. At the ROM, I spent extra time in the Art Nouveau room to get a better feel of this period in art history. David designed our rings in Art Nouveau fashion, and I was thinking of different ways we could incorporate Art Nouveau into things such as place settings without breaking the bank. I would love to have the dress custom-made with embroidery in the Art Nouveau style, but I imagine this would be a costly undertaking. I've a renewed resolve to tackle the dress issue once I'm back in Vancouver.