Archive for August 20th, 2007

Greek passports

I found out just a month ago, out of complete luck from the *US* consulate website, that my Greek passport that was issued just 2 years ago is invalid. I had no freaking idea about this. Apparently the Greek government issued a law last year that all passports issued prior to 2006 will be invalid after Jan 1 2007 because they wanted to move to biometric passports. I never knew about this Greek law. I don’t live in Greece anymore, and I don’t read Greek news too often. I have no Greek friends here in USA. The only people I speak on the phone in Greek is my mother and brother who just don’t don’t know about that stuff. In all truth, I had heard that Greece would move to biometric passports at some point, but I never thought, not in my wildest dreams that they would invalidate VALID passports. In fact, this is the only European country that has done this the last 30 years! The EU law that mandated the move to biometric passports specifically said that there is no reason to invalidate the older passports — but the Greek government was the ONLY EU country that did.

I am not holding accountable the Greek government about this as much though, but the Greek consulate in San Francisco. You see, THEY were the ones who issued my previous passport. Instead of sending a letter to the registered addresses of each Greek citizen who issued a passport with them in the last 4-5 years in SF, they kept mum. I don’t expect the Greek government to send letters about this to the Greek citizens, but I definitely expect the Consulates doing so, because this passport change can create a LOT of mess to citizens that live in a country other than Greece. It is their job to keep us informed about such important things. Important enough things that can end you up like Tom Hanks in the “Terminal”: stuck in international grounds of an airport, unable to enter or leave a country.

To get the new passport, it takes a month of waiting. Because I didn’t know about all this, I had already purchased a ticket to go to Greece in the end of August. This fiasco cost me $1100 as the ticket was non-refundable.

Ukiah vacations

We had some good time at Ukiah, in northern California, this weekend. The place felt like being pretty “hippy” in nature and we liked it so much that we even thought of buying a house there. There was also a local band competition on the weekend and so we got our dose of live rock music too. This guy was amazing btw and I am going to be interviewing him soon.

On the not so bright points, we had no AT&T signal at all. Apparently AT&T has no cells in there and so they are leasing bandwidth from the local Edge Wireless company. Problem is that GPRS won’t work, pre-paid users are denied access to the antenna, and contract users will have to always dial the area code before they can use the network.

While we were coming back, I lost a unique opportunity to capture one of the best shots one could have of the Golden Gate bridge. While driving on it, we should have removed our Camaro’s top window so I can hold the camera outside of the car, looking upwards. And then shoot the actual towers: one was in the sun, and the other one was completely into fog and looked very otherwordly. We live close to the bridge, but we don’t go to the San Francisco City a lot, much less driving on the bridge. And we usually use our Ford Focus too which doesn’t have a top window to remove.

Anyways, I shot this video of the Golden Gate bridge with clouds fast passing by. Right-click to download the 8 MB 720p video. It’s in WMV format because none of my h.264 efforts worked. Long story, I spent 4 hours with the bloody thing trying to encode it correctly, but no cake.

Update: At last, an h.264 version of the 16x-sped-up video, in full 1080p or in iPhone/PSP format.