I’m in Brum

I got to the ferry terminal before 9:00AM on Sunday. The check-in supervisor agreed to check in my dog then. She gave me a hard time about the dog having two chips and her rabies certification. At the time, I was alarmed that there might be an issue with getting on the boat, but I think the woman was just annoyed and wanted to give me a hard time.
I was super, super, super grateful. I expected to be told no or to have to pay a high last-minute fare, but neither of those things happened. Apparently, I had a very flexible ticket. So, it was with great joy that I learned I could get on the boat and wouldn’t have to buy a new ticket. Huzzah.
Checking in to the ferry means biking up to the check in booth where you present your travel documents and receive a cabin key. If you have a dog, they have a chip reader you must use. Then you bike up to the Dutch border patrol who inspect your passport and give you an exit stamp. The agent frowned at my passport and turned to her coworker and explained in Dutch that the picture looked like me, but the passport seemed to say I was a woman. There was obviously some kind of problem! She turned to me. “I’m transsexual.” I said in English. She asked if I had any documentation proving that. I offered to show her my testosterone ampoules. “You must have this problem with your passport a lot.” she said. Actually, a panhandler had called me “mevrouw” in the train station that morning. The agent looked shocked. How could anybody think that?! She let me on the boat. “Have a good trip, sir!”
One advantage of biking onto a ferry is that immigration at Harwich is not nearly as awful as immigration at the airport. I think this is partly because there are not conveniently located holding pens. If detaining somebody is really easy, then they’re more likely to do it. If it requires leaving your booth, finding a supervisor, etc etc etc, well, it’s too much trouble. I was barely hassled at all. Alas, the gender marker on my passport was not any kind of an issue.
But the problem with biking onto ferries is that they’re really meant for cars. Especially the daytime ferries. I was the only biker at all. I biked over to the train station to discover that no trains were running. I talked to somebody. “What train were you planning on catching?” she asked. Um. I wouldn’t think it would be making too much of an assumption that you could just get off one of the twice daily ferries and then get on a train at the attached train station. That’s just crazy talk! Finally a bus came by and refused to take me unless I folded everything. He came back for me an hour later. I’ve now been all over East Anglia by bus. It’s lovely country. Narrow country roads. Rolling farmland. Pretty little pubs. Bed and breakfasts. We went from tiny shut-down rail station to tiny shut-down rail station where nobody got on or off the bus.
We finally rolled in to a working station. I asked for an itinerary from the agent. “You can’t get there tonight.” he said. I could get as far as London, which my ticket specifically didn’t cover. Note to travellers: do not buy tickets between Brum and Harwich which say “not London” for the route, as such a route does not exist. The agent said I couldn’t go that way. I whined. He relented.
I called Paula and explained my predicament. She was not exactly thrilled. She had to go to work in the morning. I whined. She relented. It was a warm night at midnight, when I stood ringing her doorbell. I pondered pitching a tent on the grass in her courtyard. Presumably, the neighbors would complain. I kept ringing the doorbell. Mine wouldn’t wake me up either, actually. But hers finally did and she let me in.
The next morning, after peak hours on the train had passed, I biked across London to the cheaper station to Brum. My ticket still said “not London” and as I was on the second day of using it, I was not entirely sure about it. The station agent didn’t want to let me past the fare gates. I whined. He relented. Note to travellers: when facing disasters in the UK, try whining.
I called Eric, who had my keys. He was at school. So after my train came in, I biked to school from the train station. Brum is hilly once you get off the canal path. Also, all my stuff for gigging + bike touring stuff + dog. I got to school and drank some water and got my keys and then went home where I put on clean clothes. I desperately wanted a shower after sweating so much, but Nicole’s train (from the airport where she arrived that same morning) was past due. I just wanted to wear socks that hadn’t been worn for three days previous.
Nicole was not pleased at my lateness, but I whined and she relented. It took me voer 24 hours to get home. I’ve flown inter nationally and made train connections, etc and been home faster. Every time I try to cross the UK, something goes horribly wrong or near wrong. Also, biking down Oxford street really sucks.
People I would like to thank: Kendra for letting me sleep on her futon unexpectedly (and lending me a SIM card), Paula for letting me sleep at her apartment unexpectedly, Eric for being around with my keys.

May Plans

Spring time is nearly upon us. As are several cons, which is always a cause for joy. A con is like a festival, but better because there’s also stuff during the day. Music festivals are nifty, but they’re usually only in the evenings. I’m thinking it would be fun to do a small tour of the continent in May.
May 2 – 4 is Transgender Europe in Berlin. I used the feedback form to ask if they were interested in booking some music. I think they have an obligation to present work by ftm composer/performers of ‘art’ music. As I type this, I’m drining water out of a cup with cartoon of Tigger on it. I want to find out if, like Tigger, I’m the only one. Anyway, they haven’t written back yet, which is frustrating, since I’d like to try to get other gigs around Germany if they take me. And now is the time to be trying to get booked.
May 6 – 8 is the fêtes de Jeanne d’Arc in Orléans, France (an hour or so away from Paris by train). I’m several centuries too modern to play at this event, but I’ve been going to it every yar since I moved to Europe and I’d like to go again. And do some biking around the Loire. Last year, I decided not to go to Cherveney, despite it being the origin of my lap tuba – and some fine wine. I don’t know how cool it would be to do a bike tour like that by myself. I think I’m looking for people to go along with me, if I go. Joan of Arc, of course, got burned at the stake rather than dress like a girl, so she’s close to my heart.
May 25 – 31 is /ETC in Amsterdam, a feminist con that I played at last year. They’re women-only, which, obviously, makes me nervous, since I’d rather be burned at the stake than dress like a girl. I had a lot of angst about this last year also and contacted them about whether or not they discriminated against trans people. They do not. This year, the group hosting it is called “gender changers” and they’ve had FTM participation in the past. They seem supportive, and last year was super-awesome, so I hope this works out. I’m thinking of doing a duet with somebody, if they’ll take me, to sort of up the female quotient of my act. ha. I’m going to the con whether I play or not, I think, since last year was so great and I really miss Holland. I want to take Xena, but I think I can still find lodging with a buddy in Den Haag and commute in to Amsterdam on the train. I can imagine that I can find lodging for Xena easier than for myself. She’s popular.
I have a friend in Bremmen, Germany, so I’ll email him a CD shortly. There’s a strong noise scene there. And, if I’m going to be in France, I’d like to play in Paris again. Of course, that’s much, much, much easier said than done. I’m going to see what contacts I can get there through school here and California, since my contacts form living there aren’t great for gig-getting. And, obviously, I’ll see if I can play more than once in the Netherlands. Berlin to Paris to Bremen to Amsterdam is perhaps overly circuitious. I will be travelling by ferry, bike and train, to keep my carbon footprint down as that’s easier for Xena, so the best timing for Bremmen might be late April.
I’m working on a piece about gender issues and sexuality that I’d like to premier in Berlin, if they take me. It’s the drag king piece, which features a crotch-mounted joy stick and moaning sounds. I’m going to add in some videogame samples (specifically, I want World of Warcraft). I also want to use samples of people talking, of course. Because all my political pieces use speaking. Because I’m unsubtle, alas. I think I want to interview people and ask them the questions that I got asked on transgender clinic intake. “What’s your first memory of having a gender?” “How long have you known that you are a man/woman?” “What makes somebody a man?” “What makes somebody a woman?” I think these questions are actually quite stupid. Especially the last two. But the answers are potentially very interesting. I kind of think of it as performative queer theory as much as music.
So if you want to record yourself talking about how you became aware of your own gender and what that means to you, email it to me! Otherwise, I’ll be pushing microphones into other students’ faces. I just came out to them last week, so it should be delightfully awkward and stressful to do this.
Also, if you can get me a gig in France, Germany, BeNeLux or nearby, please drop me a line! I’ll have everything I need to to do electronic noise, live processing, and/or laptop pieces. And a dog! And my bike touring gear. Heh. This is managable, but insane, so perfect. If I can’t get any other gigs, maybe I’ll bike from Berlin to Amsterdam. I wonder if there’s some way to organize a bike/music tour, like, to promote environmental causes . . .

In other news

For those of you in the San Francisco area, Other Minds 13 is very nearly upon you! I am jealous of you, because I wish I could go. The sampler CD for the shows is awesome. There’s a lot of great music. It’s March 6 – 8 in SF. There’s a sudent discounts avilable. I think it’s possible to get in free by volunteering. This year is especially great for fans of the cello. Fracnis-Marie Uitti will be plaing. She’s a friend of Ellen. Her music is incredible. She’s playing on the 6th. If you can only go to one night, go to that one. And then leave me taunting messages about how it was sper awesome and I’ll be sad. I was going to come home for the festival, but the way my student visa ended up working out, I just couldn’t. Alas.

Crossing Borders

The first time that I realized that I was consistently passing was the San Francisco airport. It’s an odd thing to realize at an airport. I further realized that it meant if I had to go, I had to go to the men’s room. I start rationing fluid intake at that point. I’ve used men’s rooms before, but not such high traffic ones. It would be just my luck, the first time out, to end up next to Larry Craig, who got busted in an airport. Right.
In general, it was really, really weird. I was walking around the non-secure parts of the airport, holding hands with Nicole and straight people smiled at us. Later, a straight, older woman acted flirty with me. Nobody treated me like a criminal. I forgot to take off my hat before going through the metal detector. The TSA guy asked if he could see my hat. I apologized for having forgotten it. He said it was ok and just peered inside it. Later, when a TSA person checked out my synthesizer, she apologized for the inconvenience. Either SFO has changed for the better recently, or TSA agents treat white guys with a lot of respect.

I was not suspicious or threatening or criminal or degenerate. I was a pillar of society. I was . . . I don’t even have words. I wasn’t even dressed that nicely. Being middle class white guy is really different than being a middle class dyke.
Fortunately, as soon as I got to England, I resumed criminal status, by nature of being a foreigner. Or maybe it was the ‘F’ on my passport. Who knows. I thought I was being all smart, as I put my landing card in my passport next to the page with the student visa. In any other country that I’ve travelled to, a visa gets you a stamp right away. And it seemed to be going that way when the border guard scanned my passport through the computer. “Why were you denied entry in November?” he asked. Shit. “Because I didn’t have that student visa yet.” He told me to wait and I did for about an hour. Then he came back and asked me again and I repeated my answer. “Doesn’t the computer tell you?” I asked. “Yes, but it says medication was found on you and maybe you were returned because you were sick.”
The whole brouhaha where I had to get a doctor to let me take my zoloft last time. . .. Augh. Jetlag makes me feel like shit and I didn’t want to have Zoloft withdrawl at the same time, so I had to jump through a bunch of hoops to be allowed to take it. And now it’s in my permanent record. And of course, I felt a slight wave of panic. If they searched my backpack this time, they’d find a collection of hypodermic needles. Augh. I imagined the exchange. Was I planning on coming to England to get free medical care? Yes. But damn it, I’m a postgrad student and postgrads are fucking people and people have fucking medical problems. I’m not some kind of fucking money-bearing robot here to stimulate your fucking economy and get nothing in return.
Anyway, I was admitted, obviously. Later I saw a news story saying that immigrants seeking citizenship would have to “earn” their rights by taking a test to prove that they were worthy. What the fuck? First of all, rights aren’t “earned.” The whole point of rights is that they’re not earned. You have rights by nature of being alive, by being a human, not because you somehow earned it. The whole concept of “rights” is meaningless unless they’re bestowed intrinsically.
Secondly, I’d have to take a test to prove that I’m as good as the fucking Brits? Why do they think people want citizenship? Do they think immigrants are just hopeless anglophiles enthralled with every stuffy, tawdry aspect of British culture? Do they just wish we were? Of course, the reason they want us to pass a test to prove that we’re maybe (never) as good as them is because they hate us. They know we don’t worship them and wish we did. I’m not opposed to tests for immigrants gaining citizenship. I’m against the presumption of unworthiness. I’m against the presumption of criminality and guilt. I’m against being treated as a suspect every time I try to come into the country. If I wanted citizenship, it would be to avoid harassment and to make bureaucratic processes simpler and so I could vote. So I could come and go with my benign prescriptions without having to disclose my mental health issues to a fucking cop every time I try to cross the border of this tiny country.
So to prove my Britishness, I plan to get so fucking pissed that I fall into a canal and then have drunken, sloppy sex with an 18 year old and regret it the next day. Then, I’m going to riot after a football match. Um, and I don’t know. I don’t want to be treated like a criminal, but I don’t know what to do with the straight, white, male privilege that Americans were suddenly foisting on me. I was anticipating the actions of the border guard during my whole trip. In North America, I thought, “Any second and they’ll read me and I’ll go back to being a dyke. These aren’t bad people. I mean, it’s not just the TSA agents. It’s the guy the other day at REI. It’s everybody. They’re good people, or at least as good as anybody.”
I don’t get it. I don’t get why Nicole has always been invisible when standing next to me. I don’t get why even women and POC are immediately ready to treat a white guy like he’s special. Why don’t they treat everybody that way? Of course, I knew that sexism and queerphobia existed. I mean, I’m 32 years old and have been read as a dyke for a long time. But SFO was astounding. White guys: you have no fucking idea. Dress in drag for a day for comparison.


Ghost Town

The Capitol Corridor Rocks

There exists a really great Amtrak train that goes from Sacramento to San Jose – right by my house. It is the fastest way to get from my home to downtown San Jose – way faster than driving in most traffic conditions. (Only a little faster than driving when traffic is really, really, light.)

I love national rail trains. This one is a good example because it has a cafe car that sells coffee, tea and beer and snacks and discount BART tickets (20% off). All of the trains have a bunch of electrical plugs so you can use your laptop. Most have wifi. I dig sitting in a train car, sipping tea and checking my email while speeding towards my destination. Or I can stare out the window (at a real ghost town in the south bay (see picture)). It’s really low stress.
And once I get to Diridon in San Jose (or Great America in Santa Clara, I usually get on my bike. The trains have a couple of bike cars, each of which can fit at least 4 bikes. I’ve never seen these filled up. It stops at a couple of BART stations, one of which is the Coliseum in Oakland (the other is north of Berkeley). And the final stop in San Jose is a light rail station as well as a Caltrain station, so you can continue on to Gilroy, head back up the Peninsula towards SF, get on a bus to Santa Cruz or to Santa Barbara – Diridon is a major transit hub, as is the Emeryville station and a few others on the route. When I was a kid, the public transit in the South Bay sucked, but it has gotten a whole lot better. I could live down there without a car now.
You can buy Capitol Corridor tickets with credit or ATM at any station and get a substantial discount if you buy a 10 ride pass. Or, if you want to pay cash, you have to go to a station with an office, like San Jose or Emeryville.
I want to tell everybody I know about this train. You can get to San Jose in an hour! with your bike! And lunch! And beer! It’s so civilized! I started a facebook group for the route (shut up, you’re a geek too).
Of course, nothing is perfect. The train should come more often. There are only around 7 trains a day between the East Bay and South Bay. Increased ridership would help with this. And, of course, more trains would increase ridership. The board is rumored to be responsive to rider concerns, so asking for more trains may well cause there to be more trains. So give it a ride and ask for more!
The route is a joint project between Amtrak, the state of California and the counties which it passes through, so it has it’s own governing board made up of representatives from all these groups. Ok, every other (foreign) rail that I’ve ever ridden allows people to take dogs – sometimes making them buy expensive dog tickets. Dog owners shouldn’t be trapped in cars any more than anybody else. They should start selling dog tickets for this train too. Since it’s run by a representative government and whatnot, they will allow dogs if enough people ask for it.
In summary, the Capitol corridor is awesome and I only wish I could use it more. You should ride it too.

Continuing From Where I Left Off

When last I typed, I was sitting on an airplane which I had been placed on by British immigration agents. I wondered if the cabin crew was aware of my situation. They didn’t act like it. They offered me wine when they offered everybody else wine and did not treat me differently than other passengers. When I asked if they had any extra vegetarian meals, the woman handing them out found me one and then started to give me a form to request one for my next flight. So perhaps she didn’t know.

When we landed, I hit the call button. The airplane aisle was was jammed with people. One of the cabin crew caught my eye and made hand symbols to ask if I was asking about my passport. He told me to go to the front of the plane. So I guess they did know.
I got off and there was a man there holding the envelope that I knew to contain my passport. I asked for it back, but instead he brusquely told me to follow him. The people working in detention in Britain had all been fairly friendly and scrupulously polite. They explained what was going on and what was about to happen. Nobody got cagey until I asked who was paying for my ticket home. This man, however, did not explain anything, but walked ahead with his lips slightly pursed. He wore an airline uniform, but seemed to consider himself some sort of diplomatic, immigration agent. He took me to American immigration, and gave the border agent my passport. He spoke about me to the agent as if I was not present. I began to detest him. Some people are just doing their jobs and some people see themselves as above you. He was the latter. Since he treated me as invisible burden, I will do the same to him for the rest of this story as a sort of a petty revenge for having to spend time following his wordless, brisk-walking arrogance.
I had to go to a secondary interview to get back in the US. I had hoped that I would just get back my passport and be on my way, but alas. I was told to sit in a big room with many chairs and two or three american immigration agents, seated behind tall desks. There were only a few people in the room. I looked at them and guessed they were foreign. I wondered what would happen if the US wouldn’t take me either. Didn’t they have to? After a short wait, I was called forward. A sympathetic agent said, “so what happened?” I explained about how the NYC British consulate’s web page gives incorrect information as to how they accept visa applications and my mistaken belief that I could get in with a tourist visa. She was entirely empathetic, but then pointed out that America would have done the same thing. “I know!” I said, “you have to stop doing that! Well, I guess it’s what you have to do by law, but still.” She blamed George Bush. For being required to hassle foreigners and for my having experienced the same. Damn him.
She stamped my passport and returned it to me. Huzzah. It has a refusal stamp in it, something that will probably cause me problems in the future. Or not. I think Britain has a reputation. From immigration and customs, I went to ticketing. To pay for a last-minute transatlantic fare. Well, that answered that question. The fare was a bit over $1000. My credit card was denied. I called them and they asked, as a security question, for the cell number I had when I was in Connecticut. I failed security. Finally, the officious jerk who had been leading me everywhere, and seemed to think my fare to be far too low, grew impatient and left. The ticket agents didn’t like him either. The guy I was talking to, who was clearly family, said it happened to everybody. The woman next to him said her niece had been sent back when she went to study at the London School of Economics. And she had a visa! The friendly ticket agent said even some cabin crew had been caught up in British immigration. He blamed George Bush. The other agents concurred. Damn that guy!
My credit card company relented and I paid my ticket. The guy I was paying told me to fly west with Jetblue, since they would have the cheapest tickets and the most flights. Then he took me down to the baggage office. He was so nice. “It happens to everybody!” he kept saying. Then he said that he used to live in San Francisco and if I did fly an affiliate airline, he would tell everybody to be nice to me. I gave him a bag of reeces pieces.
The baggage office, also friendly and polite had more bad news. My bike hadn’t made the flight. I explained that I was continuing onward via an out-of-network airline and they took my address. My bike will be arriving via fedex delivery, probably tomorrow.
I went over to the Jetblue terminal at JFK airport and walked up to a customer service agent and purchased a ticket for the next flight to Oakland. “Do you have any bags to check?” “No.” I said ruefully. The last minute ticket was $120 or $130, I forget which. I was amazed at my good fortune. I spend two or three hours waiting in the airport. I called Nicole who empathized and Ellen, who offered me a ride from the Oakland airport and finally my dad my said, “You know what you should do?!” in the tone of voice he gets when he’s got an outside-the-box idea. “You should go see if there’s an Irish consulate in San Francisco.” He left a pause, waiting for my reply.
“But I’m trying to go to England.”
“You should find out how Irish you have to be to get an Irish passport.” He was giggling now, very taken with his suggestion.
“I’ve got just as many British ancestors, but that didn’t seem to help much.” Indeed, I had mentioned them to the immigration agent who interviewed me.
“But Ireland needs labor! You might have to promise to work in Ireland!” he giggled more.
Suddenly, the exhaustion of having gotten so little sleep and then being up for so many hours hit me. I told my dad that I regretted not having his phone number memorized, since I therefore couldn’t have called him from detention. As I type this, I wonder what suggestions he would have had for while I was detained. Mostly, I think I wanted somebody to know where I was. We hung up.
I got on the next airplane. It was a much nicer plane than the last two. I had a row to myself and lay down across it and slept for the entire 5 hour flight. Ellen met me at the airport and took me home, where I now sit. Still tired. I need to contact a consulate, either the one in New York or the one in Los Angeles or both and ask what to do. I need a copy of my Mills College transcript, to send it with my visa application. I need to make copies of my house keys, since, of course, I didn’t bring them, since I wasn’t going to be in Berkeley at all. I need to take a nap.


I am sitting on an airplane, waiting for a transatlantic flight. It’s my second in less than 24 hours. I don’t have my passport. The captain of the plane is holding it until we get over the ocean. The passenger next to me has just told me what time the flight arrives. It’s the first time that i’ve been told. I haven’t paid for the ticket, but am concerned that i might have to.

Alas, i am not describing a confusing dream, but rather my current situation. After a red-eye flight and 6 hours of detention, i’m totally exhausted. I’ve been refused entry to the uk and am on my way back to new york, where i’ll have to find my way back to san francisco. My tearful parting with my girlfriend last night is fated to be shorter than we either anticipated.

I was in new york to apply for a student visa. They no longer accept in-person applications. Their web site, though, allows you to file for one, but not to make the appointment. I was flattened with stomach flu before i could discover why their appointment-making system was constantly broken. My time scheduled in the us was drawing to a close and i had not submitted. I decided to mail in the documents from the uk and get the visa during winter break. I bought return tickets yesterday morning, so i could prove my plans if asked.

Then, i got on my plane. Concerned about visa issues, i left my bass guitar with nicole. I didn’t want to seem as if i was trying to sneak in to play gigs and earn money. However, i didn’t make it as far as baggage claim before falling into detention.

The immigration officer seemed friendly and chatty. It was six-something am and i hadn’t had coffee, but tried to be friendly in return. She asked why i came. I said i was visiting the university. This answer has been satisfactory on several previous occasions. This time, I had noticed signs up advertising delays. They noted that extra security takes extra time. The extra time in this case included her asking for some clarification on that. She seemed so personable that i didn’t become alarmed when she began taking notes. It wasn’t until she asked what kind of dog i had that i started to become alarmed.

She told me not to be alarmed, but to follow her to a waiting area. At heathrow terminal 4, there are some lines leading to immigration agents. In the very middle of the lines, there is a little pen with some seats. It would seem like it was just a waiting area for old people or folks with kids, if it weren’t for the chair-height barriers surrounding it and most especially the door of the same short height. The door had a latch on it, so when the friendly agent lead me there, she flipped up the flimsy piece of plastic to let me in and flipped it closed after me to keep me inside. That non-lock was useless for imprisoning someone, but the psychological impact was clear. “Oh fuck.” I said, as she left.

A man came around some time later to lead me to baggage claim. We got my bike and put it and my backpack on a cart. He had me follow him to the customs area, where he searched my bags. I thought this might be the end of a process where i would soon be on my way, but all he searched for were documents and his questions were repetitions of ones the first agent had asked. Then, he lead me back to the immigration area, but to a security door on the right of the room.

The door opened to hallway full of parked luggage carts with glass-walled waiting rooms on one side. He told me to park my luggage and then took me to a foyer between the waiting rooms, where i was asked to empty my pockets and patted down. I was allowed to keep my wallet and change and lip balm, but not my keys or cell phone. I tried to retrieve on of the many bags of reeces pieces that i had purchased immediately before my flight, but was told that candy was against the rules.

Then, i was deposited in the waiting room where i spent the next several hours. There were signs up indicating that pictures were disallowed and (perhaps to protect themselves against possible artistic talent) my pen had been removed, so i have tried to commit the room to memory as much as possible.

It had one exit door which was unlocked and lead to the foyer. One long wall was glass. The other two walls had many doors leading to small rooms where detainees could be questioned, finger printed, photographed. The room had two long rows of ugly chairs, facing each other. Near the middle were two small tables. It looked much like other police waiting rooms that i’ve seen.

I wished aloud for a cup of coffee and a woman, also waiting, told me that i could just ask for one. So i went back to the foyer and asked for it and got nescafe from a vending machine. I announced my intention to retrieve and take my zoloft, but was told that i could not. A doctor must be first consulted. Also, the door from the foyer to the hall was locked. This seemed to make my situation seem more serious, but, when i was told then to have my photo taken, i was called sir. I felt happy to be passing and a certain thrill of excitement at being held. This was kind of exciting! At least, when it wasn’t incredibly dull. I felt homesick and had a perverse desire to be sent back so i could see my family. But then i thought of my boarded dog and other tasks in birmingham and hoped otherwise. I wondered what it meant that my happiness at passing surpassed my dismay at being detained.

I had to sign forms. I was given documents. I waited. I wondered if my passing was going to screw up my paperwork. I waited. I tried not to eavesdrop on other people’s interviews which were highly audible through thin walls.

I heard my name from the foyer. “Not a man, but a woman dressed as a man.” Laughter. “Why would she do that?” Laughter. Then, “I just patted her arms.” amid more laughter. They were teasing the man who patted me down. I wondered how this changed my situation.

An officer came to interview me. He asked all the same questions. I complained about the new york consulate and stressed that i had a return ticket and that the dutch consulate told me it wasn’t illegal. The officer said that he wouldn’t have had me detained and he would recommend that i be let on my way, but that i had knowingly tried to enter with a tourist visa when i was aware of student visa requirements would count against me. Apparently, ignorance of the law was an excuse.

The officer took me to the medical officer to discover if i would be allowed to take zoloft. Somebody there took the pills from me and googled them or something to make sure it was legal and a reasonable dose. There was no doctor present. It was decided that i would be allowed to take my meds. I wondered if needing them went into my file.

The pat down guy acted the same as before. Another guard, who apparently missed that conversation, was very insistent at correcting the officer when he said “she”. I guess clouds have silver linings.

I used the room’s pay phone and my credit card to call my berkeley home number, since i had it memorized. It was late so i left voicemail.

The officer came back and told me that i was being sent home, but it would not hurt my ability to get a student visa. He gave me a document which stated this. I left another message with ellen and then called jean, who has a very memorable phone number. It was 2:30am at her location, but her tone changed when i explained the situation. I wished i had my dad’s number memorized.

Some Quebecois were also detained. Most everyone sat in silence but the two animatedly shared their stories and opinions. The man had been detained because he was staying with a friend and didn’t know the address. As it happened, he knew the friend’s mobile number and that the friend was waiting for him at the airport. H was finger printed, photographed, questioned and then hopefully somebody thought to talk to the friend to get his address.

The canadian woman had come back too soon after a long stay. So much for the commonwealth.

And then more waiting. Somebody came around to collect me an hour before my flight. She had me take the luggage cart through security. My bike was xrayed. Then, she walked me to the gate. I was allowed to use my cellphone and to sit, while she held my passport and watched my luggage. I called my kennel, my supervisor and my afternoon date. When it was time, i was told to pre-board. My bike was left at the top of the jetway, to be moved to the hold. I was the first person on the plane.

And now i’m on the plane. Too much airplane food. Not enough sleep. Too many carbon credits in debit. The novelty of the situation long since worn off. My morale is low.

As he was giving me bad news, the officer said two things that stick with me. One was to imagine how america treats those with paperwork problems. I got this more than once, from different people. America’s stupid anti-foreigner policies are hurting citizens.

The other thing was that britian had to be extra vigilant because other european countries weren’t. He painted a picture that seemed to put britian as the outer defenses of fortress europe. The enemies were at the gate, but britian stood strong. I congratulated him on having successfully defended britian in this case.


And now, it’s the math you’ve all been waiting for. How far did we go?

Den Haag – Emmen: 363
Emmen – Jels: 487
Jels – Slagese = 162
These numbers are arrived at by: For the first section, adding up all the daily totals from when we were still in the Netherlands and I was doing daily totals. For the second section, taking the numbers from the Jutland Fietsroute (“The Viking Route”) book. For the third section, by getting distances from booklets published by the Dansk Cyclist Forbund.
The first and third sections are fairly accurate. However, the middle fails to account for many detours, including following a different cyclepath along the Wesser and taking several detours to fjords. Figuring out the actual distance is too much effort for my lazy self, but the number listed here is low.
No section accounts for wandering around for three damn hours looking for a night lodging that would take dogs, or side trips to campsites and grocery stores. I had a little bike computer that did real odometer readings, but it got dropped and broken in June.
So, in an idealized world where we did not get lost, go in circles or wander far and afield from the route to look at nearby cities, we went 922 km total. (I’m confident, therefore, that the real number is over 1000k, and therefore, I want to buy a touring bike, because I’ve gone far enough to justify it and cuz 3 geared Bromptons are no match for fjords. (Lovely, but dangerous. My sister got bitten by a moose once, for instance!))

By Country

Distance in The Netherlands: 391, in Germany: 374, in Denmark: 247

In Linz

I’m in Linz and darn tired. Wrote some music on the train. I’m doing almost all new stuff, but re-using the second half of my first supercollider piece. The piece is kind of klutz and doesn’t work well in stereo, except for the second half, which is cool on it’s own. I got a new joystick two days ago. It was really great when I first plugged it in. 0-255 for real. 10 bits. 4 channels of analog stick action. woot. But it’s become flaky. Sometimes the range of the sticks is cut in half. Sometimes the buttons have different IDs. It’s making me a little nervous. I thought I was buying a name-brand joystick, but the name is actually just similar to what I thought I was buying. Oh well. Maybe I’ll get a third soon and in the mean time, I’ve got a bit of a challenge. Usually unplugging it and replugging it works. Or I could put my awesome joystick brain in it.

In other news, if you plug a Dell laptop into a step-down voltage converter, it fucks up the screen in MS windows. (wtf?)
MY clothes are mildewy. meh, I say. Also, I feel a bit weird about being in a women’s event, even if the sponsoring group is called “gender changer.” Hello, I am twice the gender changer that you are.
Overheard this morning: “somebody was playing the digeridu at 10 o’clock last night!” la la la.
The conference fees include food and lodging, which make it a really good deal, although I was kind of surprised not to be comped in, given that I thought they were going to pay me. We’re staying in a haupt schule. This is a kind of elementary school. They have very thin matresses on the floors of the classrooms.
“Haupt” means half. It’s a half-school. In Germany, and apparently also in Austria, they have really extreme tracking. College bound kids go to something called Gymnasium. At the end, they take a test. If they pass it, the can go to a university. If they don’t pass it, the have they still have their high school diploma, equivalent to those who graduated from a real schule. They just get a diploma and don’t have to take a test. Finally, there exists haupt schules. In high school, these kids go to school part time and spend the other half of their time apprenticing to be things like florists or auto mechanics. If you were going to try to figure out what was the most valuable part of every kind of schooling, the big test result is the payoff for the gynasium. The diploma for those in real schule. The apprenticeship for those in haupt shule.
The one that we’re at is an elementary school. The tracking starts very early. Transferring from one track to another is virtually impossible. Unless you go to gynasium and pass the big test, there is no way that you will ever go to a university in your country. The American in me rebells to this. But the same sort of tracking also exists in American schools and is more subtle and probably, therefore, more evil. Also, we track kids straight to jail rather than in to apprentice programs, so we suck worse.
Interestingly, the school is an arts magnet. The kids must go on to art academy. I always wondered about the liberal arts value (or lack therof) of conservatories. This seems to confirm my suspicions. Also, I’ve seen the alphabet posted in all the classrooms, but not a single math-related thing. Maybe it’s all on a different floor.

News, Plans, etc


I hope all of my American readers had a happy 4th of July. It was my cat’s 10th birthday, but she’s in California, so I didn’t bake her a cake or anything. Actually, I’m alarmed by what sort of cake a cat would like. yuck.

Here in The Hague, I went to an expat BBQ. We grilled a bunch of expats . . .. ahem. It was fun. there was a guy there with a dog also from California, but from LA. She and Xena had the north-south rivalry thing going on. Anyway, the other dog was clearly a California mutt as it was half pitbull. It’s the law that 90% of mixbreed dogs in CA are half pitbull. He said to keep it quiet because they’re outlawed in the Netherlands, but further research on wikipedia seems to indicate that this is not the case. Anyway, anti-breed laws are stupid. I started talking about how pitbulls are nice to people, and are only risky around other dogs. Nicole says that was rude. She drug me out to the grill to make tofu kabobs.
It would have been Xena’s happiest July 4th ever, as there were no fireowrks, except for two things. There was some sort of incident between the two dogs and the LA one bit through Xena’s ear. It’s just a little hole, but Xena was way freaked out. The other owner and the host pulled the dogs apart, something I tried to prevent. Folks, never stick your hands between fighting dogs! The host, Kendra, is from Alaska and says she has experience breaking up fighting dogs and knows how to do it without getting hurt. Anyway, it was probably for the best because Xena had already submit, but the other dog wasn’t backing off. Which is why pitbulls are dangerous for other dogs – once they get started in a fight, they don’t stop at the point most other dogs would stop. Most dogs just fight to establish dominance. Anyway, after being separated, the other dog reverted to being cute and friendly, but Xena was freaked. I felt kind of bad for the owner. He was really embarassed. It sucks when you beloved pet, who is almost human in your eyes, reveals their animal nature. Like barfing in a restaurant – which Xena did recently.
Then we got home and there was an incredible thunder storm. Way cooler than any fireworks. Xena tried to hide under the bed. Bad day for her. Yesterday, she barely wanted to leave the house, which was fair enough as she’s been awake and scared most of the night. Poor dog.


I go soon to Linz for my gig. Tickets are quite a bit more than I expected. Why are trains more expensive in the summer? They don’t cost more to run. I’ll get back around the second half of July. Then I want to bike along the coast of the Netherlands and then inland towards a small town in Friesland. Nick will probably participate. Then I will come back and meet up with Kendra and we will bike to Copenhagen, leaving around August 1st. That should take about 2 weeks. Then I get to worry a lot about moving.
Biking with clips is awesome. I feel like I have way more control over the bike and could go way faster. Also, popping in and out gets easy very quickly. when I first started on a still bike in front of my house, I thought it would be really hard, but suddenly, like a clip, it just clicked.
I tried to buy a bluetooth PDA keyboard from a shop in Rotterdam, but they’d sold out earlier in the day. However, I was able to use my GPS setup to navigate. Maemo Mapper tip: after you load the route into the program, quit it and restart. This will save the route in non-volitaile memory and if you (software) crash on the way, you won’t have to sorta head in the right direction while hoping to run into an open wifi network.
Also, I really love it when folks name their network linksys and leave it wide open. Seriously, it’s great. I kind of want to rename my network to linksys. This si the closest thing to an open citizen’s anarchist wifi net that we can reasonably hope for. So let’s all do it! Unlock your networks! Rename them to linksys! Encrypt all your data going over the wifi! If you leave your own network open, then you don’t need to feel guilty about borrowing anybody else’s connectivity. I leave mine open for that reason. But I’m not renaming it right now, because I’m not sure how to configure my remote-controlled-only media server to connect to a new network, nor even if it’s a good idea to let it potentially connect to the wrong one. So everybody except for me should rename their network, and we should leave them open. That is all.