I'm writing this from the Vancouver airport. It's 9:20 on Saturday, local time, but I'm trying to shift my brain to JST, so for me, it's 1:20 (am) on Sunday. This'll be the first of probably many updates during my trip.
I'm posting photos in my gallery, and you should look there regularly because I will sometimes post stuff there without posting commentary or links here. I think there's an RSS feed you can subscribe to if you want up-to-the-minute photos. Do come back and look at pictures you've seen before, too, because I may post comments or annotations on existing pictures. Uploading photos to the gallery is fast and easy; posting comments there takes more time, and posting entries here even more than that.
I packed in a bit of a rush last night. I found myself taking less clothing for this two-and-a-half-week trip than I took for my one-week trip to Toronto... because on this trip I know it won't be practical to take clean laundry for the entire trip, so I know I'll be doing laundry on the other side, and that in turn means I don't need as much clothing because it can be reused more.
I had time for about six hours of sleep but didn't really sleep that much last night. I would have had more time but for a frustrating Web cam debugging session. The Web cam is now online, so if someone burgles my apartment you can all see them doing it, but please don't pound that URL too far into the ground because it's going through the slow uplink of a slow DSL connection. Because of the Web cam debugging, actually, I also skipped sending some email and doing some other network stuff that I knew I could defer to the present four-hour layover in Vancouver. I got up at 4:30, walked to the bus stop, took the bus to the airport, and got on the plane to Vancouver.
I bought my ticket through Travelocity, and I didn't find out, until I tried to check in online last night, that they had issued the ticket to one "Mr. Matthewada Skala." To add insult to injury, Air Canada's online check-in form presented me with an editable field for my name, but although I edited it to be correct, on the next screen I was back to Mr. Matthewada again. (That's Dr. Matthewada to you, buddy!) Air Canada let me on the Winnipeg-Vancouver plane without comment. I sure hope their code-sharing partner (I think that is just as dirty as it sounds) will let me on the Vancouver-Tokyo plane. If not, heads will roll.
Travelocity insisted in their own forms that I had to enter my name in exactly the form it appears on my ID, which of course is not "Mr. Matthewada Skala," nor does my middle name commemorate the Countess of Lovelace at all, though it's true that "Ada" is the first three letters of my middle name and that's probably where they got it. The implied contract that goes with my following the rules is that if I enter my name exactly as it appears on my ID, they damn well had better pass it in exactly the form I entered, to their database backend, or at the very least, pass it on in a form (such as "MATTHEW SKALA") that will not be so obviously incorrect! Especially since on my e-ticket receipt it does show my name exactly as I entered it, and so I had every reason to believe my boarding passes would be right too, and I didn't find out they screwed it up until much too late to do anything about it even if they hadn't smugly plastered "Name cannot be changed after ticket is issued" messages all over everything.
Lesson learned: I'm unlikely to do business with Travelocity again, especially given that they have also subjected me to other inconveniences like not letting me put more than one hotel stay on the same "trip" with a flight, and not even letting me put the first hotel stay on the same "trip" with the flight because its dates don't match. Because overnight flights are unheard-of, I guess. So far I'm pleased with Booking.com, which I used for most of my hotels. Of course, the acid test of that will be whether when I get to these little Japanese hotels where the staff don't speak English let alone Dutch, they have any record of the reservations I made via Netherlands-based Booking.com.
ETA: Yes, all my hotel reservations were correct. Booking.com for the win!
And so here I am in the Vancouver airport. I note with pleasure that the Vancouver airport free wireless has the shortest license agreement I've ever seen on one of these things - just one paragraph saying they take no responsibility for what you do on the Net nor what the Net does to you. Even that should be unnecessary. Goddamn relaxed rules of contract formation. If I had my way, all contracts supposedly "formed" without real two-sided negotiation would be null and void. It should not be possible to bind you to a contract of any sort just because you downloaded a piece of software or tuned into a radio frequency without having the chance to haggle with a real person. Honestly, standard-form contracts almost certainly are null and void - the common-law rules of contract formation do require a meeting of minds beyond "take it or leave it" - but just find any court willing to say so.
I am sitting in a nice lounge area with what seems to be a native-plan garden and sculptures and comfy chairs and the aforementioned free wireless and almost no power outlets. I finally found one on the side of what seems to be a ventilation register, which has a tabletop and a chair so it's obviously meant to be a place for someone to sit, but there is no legroom beneath the tabletop because it's not really a desk or table, just a ventilation register with a tabletop grafted onto it, and so I can't sit in any comfortable position while using my computer. Details matter, guys.
The laptop claims to be recharged now, so my next moves are some kind of very-early-breakfast (bearing in mind that it's 2am Japanese time), then the flight to Narita Airport near Tokyo. I should arrive at something like 15:30; then it's the train to Tokyo proper, one night there, and off to Nara in the morning. I hadn't planned to visit anyone this evening, but one of my contacts insisted that I must phone her as soon as I arrive, so I guess that's what I'll do.