Friday, 22 May 2009

me again

Hi. I'm still sick. This is crap! Who is responsible!
Anyway, it occurred to me that you, Blog, have not yet been informed about what happened last week when I tried to renew my passport. Have you done this lately? You have to fill in the form online, print it out, and take it to the P.O. You can't just get a form there and write in the answers.
Although, because about half my typed-in answers somehow changed themselves into jumbled & incomprehensible code, the post office person whited them out and I wrote them in again. So I was wondering why I had to do it online in the first place when she asked me to sign and date the application.
Which I did, putting the wrong date on the form. And then they said they would not process the application so that was the end of that particular waste of time exercise.

Now I am going to have to attempt it again on Monday because we are going overseas a month and a half. We're going to England - I'm going to a lovely Jane Austen conference at Chawton where Austen used to live, then we're going to Bath and a few other places, then a week in London, then a bit where we haven't decided yet between country France and St. Petersburg (though strongly leaning toward the latter) and then a week in Venice where Dorian is also conferencing but I will probably just go to the Biennale or something.

Won't all that be fun and also horrifyingly expensive. We're not actually very organised yet but my main priority is to get next semester's teaching sorted out before we go, although organising the new passport is admittedly kind of essential. I also need to decide whether to re-attempt the unpleasantness of having the required photographs taken because the man who did it last week made me look like a horrible, old, double-chinned murderer.


ThirdCat said...

No. Do not waste your time getting new photo. It is still going to look pretty ordinary, so all you end up with is an ordinary photo and less time for lovely things like chatting with Basil and talking with Dorian about whether St Petersburg or t'other (on which point I have already given my ill-informed opinion).

At about this time last year, I decided that I would never, ever care about passport/visa/licence photos again. I just look at the camera and wait for the click. I do not compose my face in any particular way or hold my chin just so, and when they say, 'do you want to have a look' I say, 'no' - I can't tell you how much simpler it is. Really. This is a true story.

Ben.H said...

Ah, the old Do It Online Then Print It Out trick!

Crap. You just reminded me I need to reapply for my passport this year, because the photo's coming off. And I need to get that passport before I can apply for one of those ghastly British passports where they demand to implant a GPS chip under your skin and then tattoo a bar code over it, after taking a DNA sample.

librarygirl said...

Latest passport photos, taken a week ago, make me look like Myra Hindley. I just cannot be fagged getting them done again.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like they have an ICR (Intelligent Character Recognition) system. ICR systems can read the letters in the boxes - there's a system for cleaning them up before it does that - and then the system can look at it and decide how much of it can be taken as read. To cut a long story short, it can process or part-process a form and just leave various specific bits for the humans to look at, thus allowing us to sack all the humans, err, sorry, be more efficient. (I am currently engaged in a subproject in which I'm sunnily informed the aim is to replace myself. Thanks, guys.)
Anyhoo, if you can get people to put stuff in online as opposed to by pen, that is a big bonus because then you get lovely clean data for the ICR to read and you can replace even more humans, err, sorry, be even MOAR efficient.
My apologies.

Helen said...

Sorry, that was me.

I also wanted to point to this wonderful thing (via Thirdcat's comments) but I'm sure you've already seen it.

librarygirl said...

When you go to Winchester (if you haven't already been there) do visit the wonderful Hospital of St Cross and Almshouse of Noble Poverty, a nice walk along the river gets you there. A place where quite a few Sebastian Flyte-ish gentlemen reside.

Your trip sounds very exciting!

Rob said...

I'd definitely choose St Petersburg. That's my tuppence worth.

I admit I'm jealous. That sounds like a wonderful, if somewhat exhausting, trip. But, as you already know, a month after you get back you won't remember the exhaustion - just the fun!

Reminds me - I have to renew my Australian passport in a year or so - at the Consulate in Los Angeles - I wonder how painful a process it'll be.

cristy said...

The same passport debacle happened to me, except that it was the post office woman who put down the wrong date, we were leaving 10 days later, and the whole ridiculous ordeal was puntuated by several of Lily's worst meltdowns and followed by a fairly decent one from yours truly.

Your trip sounds fabulous though. I do hope that you enjoy it.

My passport photo also makes me look like a serial killer who has just been locked up. But that was reflective of my mood at the time...

Pavlov's Cat said...

I think they do it on purpose. I was told I had to get a new passport in a hurry when I went to NZ in 2004, because my current one was withing six months of expiry. (Originally typed 'moths' there, which was also the case.) I said Well it's expired now, hasn't it, if you're saying I have to get a new one before I leave the country, and they looked at me the way they do when you say things like that. Then someone else said No, you don't need a passport to go to NZ anyway, and then a third erson said Yes you do, the rules have changed. I threw my hands in the air and exercised quiet persistence till I got a new passport -- just in case -- which I was then not required to show anyone at any point of the trip, out or back.

But it's always good to have a current passport. I keep mine with the Krugerrands and a clean hanky.

Ziggy said...

Some perspective from a long-time lurker who recently applied for an Aus. passport and South African passport - was impressed with the Aus. online application, and the fact that the passport arrived within 10 days. SA passport, OTOH - had to fill in several sets of confusing forms and go to police to get different sets of fingerprints taken. Having posted the application, I have no idea whether it has been received - enquiries are not permitted until 6 months have passed! To be fair, I have heard that passports are being issued within 4 months or so lately. In closing, thanks for your blog - there have truly been days when I couldn't have gotten out of bed, or indeed have prevented myself from committing homicide, if it hadn't been for the insights and humour provided by you, Pavlov's Cat and &Duck. Feel better soon.

MsLaurie said...

I once heard someone say that passport photos are designed so that they look like you once you've endured 36 hours of trans-continental economy class travel.

Mine certainly does.

More disturbing though is my photo on my 'working with children check' - I look some some sort of serial killer, certainly not someone you want playing games with your kids!

F.G. Marshall-Stacks said...

congratulations on avoiding the "signature on back of photo is in blue instead of regulation black so take another one for signing and return". Lucky you.

There is a B&B in Winchester run by a mad couple you must avoid. Like Fawlty Towers but not funny.

Best wishes for speedy recovery.
X X X Brownie

lucy tartan said...

Good on you Ziggy, I am very pleased to hear from you. The Australian system is really fine, only it proved not to be foolproof as I discovered. I'm sure the experience of being frightened and appalled by accidentally catching a glimpse of one's own photograph on travel documents is truly universal. MsLaurie's suggestion w/r/t that is quite convincing.

lucy tartan said...
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