July 31, 2007

Rules and beyond

I started packing today and during a break I found some interesting information for our trip on my sister's business blog:

July 30th, 2007
This is priceless: Security expert Bruce Schneier interviews TSA Administrator Kip Hawley. And he asks some of the questions I’d like to ask, including:

Bruce Schneier: By today’s rules, I can carry on liquids in quantities of three ounces or less, unless they’re in larger bottles. But I can carry on multiple three-ounce bottles. Or a single larger bottle with a non-prescription medicine label, like contact lens fluid. It all has to fit inside a one-quart plastic bag, except for that large bottle of contact lens fluid. And if you confiscate my liquids, you’re going to toss them into a large pile right next to the screening station — which you would never do if anyone thought they were actually dangerous.

Can you please convince me there’s not an Office for Annoying Air Travelers making this sort of stuff up?

Kip Hawley: Screening ideas are indeed thought up by the Office for Annoying Air Travelers and vetted through the Directorate for Confusion and Complexity, and then we review them to insure that there are sufficient unintended irritating consequences so that the blogosphere is constantly fueled.

Then he takes his tongue out of his cheek and explains how TSA arrived at its current goo rules. No specifics, of course, due to security concerns, but Hawley gives it a good try.

To avoid hassles, we will embark on a 20-hour flight with small, liquid-free carry-on bags -- a sweater, shirt, book, documents to hand deliver and a toothbrush should be safe enough. I am daring fate with a mini tube of face cream and a box off melatonina (first time try). Let's hope our luggage arrives at destination.

The idea at the bottom of all this craziness is: if you analyze every possibility and make enough rules, you can control the future. Rules, in this context, equal controlling fate and destiny.

Then the tour packet arrived with a flyer containing "Important Guest Information" from the Department of Homeland Security. I will let you imagine. We will not be fingerprinted, but nearly, and we are going to the high risk wilderness of Alaska! Luggage must be tagged and can be searched at any time and our passport information had to be sent in 60 days before departure.

And I was worried about the bears!

To top it off, can you imagine my Italian family actually wearing those little whale buttons and name tags. Have you ever seen an Italian wear a name tag, anywhere, in any circumstance? It is against everything they believe in and have been taught since birth -- good taste, discretion and keeping distance from strangers. No first name basis on introduction. That privilege must be earned over a few days on a personal, not mass, basis.

Reverse culture shock is coming on, and I haven't even hit the airport yet.

Still a couple of hot and sunny days in Rome pulling down winter clothes from the upper rafters where they were exiled under the "cambio stagione" regime a few months back.

a domani,

1 comment:

Rob said...

Thanks for the laugh re airport restrictions!

Hope you all have a great holiday and successfully (and peacefully) run the gauntlet of the various airport security/passport controls you will be going through.

Oh, and mind that volcano in Alaska!