03/17/14

I Have Learned A Lot

I have traveled these past couple days. Started at home, traveled north through Detroit into Canada on my way to Toronto, Ontario Canada. I had planned on stopping in Detroit to take some photos of the abandoned skyscrapers and whatnot. Well, Thursday morning I just woke up way to late and subsequently got on the road way to late, about 3 hours, to do this. So instead I passed by my stops in Detroit and headed directly for my border crossing at the Ambassador bridge. Got there, and well I guess I meet a profile but I got invited to the secondary search area. So after CBP spent 30 minutes going through my SUV and looking me up on the computer and asking if I had any guns with me, I finally got through the border.

This is when my schooling started.

First of all I am not completely naive and understand certain differences between the US and Canada. Understanding this and actually dealing with this though are two different things. One of the first things I notice is the 90kph speed limit. After a few moments I remember that there is actually is basic KPH readings on my speedo. The metric system, I know it, not well but after a little thinking I was able to convert in my head. Road signs are different and look different.

Next is kind of related to the first, distances, specifically in kilometers. That one actually was nice. What I mean is that I have a sign saying “80 km to Toronto.” In theory that sounds bad because my brain is thinking 80 miles traveling at 55mph. Where as what was actually happening was that I had 80 kilometers to go while traveling 120kph. That is a much better, and faster, ratio of travel time and speed.

Then was my cell phone. I do not own a standalone GPS system for navigation. So I did not have easy communications or navigation, because I use the Google Maps app. I incurred some, probably expensive, international roaming charges because of a little data use. I have a Samsung Galaxy S4. Out of the box it is an unlocked international phone, supposedly. Mine is a Verizon Wireless version. All I should have to do is plug in a new SIM and probably change a few settings. This I will be testing out in the next few months.

This is a more related to just generic travel anywhere, but it was the “little-things.” Specifically parking and toll roads. In this modern world both things required cash. Well I do not carry cash, have not for a long time. That is going to change. Not a lot needs to be said about that. I am going to start keeping cash in my wallet and glove box 24/7. Plus when traveling my personal bags. I might even add a coin to the mix ass well. Now that I think about it I have coin in my backpack. About a $1.35 USD, enough to get my through my first toll to an atm. O well.

Finally I see that my old fashioned American plastic cards in my wallet need to be upgraded. What I mean is that most of the rest of the world no longer uses magnetic strips on cards. They use something called the ‘Chip-and-Pin’ system or EMV. These systems are much more secure. Remember Target and the other retailers at the end of last year? Yeah that would not have been possible with the newer system. Frankly it is just what the rest of the world is going to. While I was able to transact everywhere I went, it was not as smooth or easy as it could have been. Especially when I was purchasing gas this morning at the Canadian Petrol and breakfast at Tim Hortons. Plus that way I can have that new technology first, haha. The US is converting over to the ‘Chip-and-Pin’ system. Just slowly because of the amount of systems and vast cost.

Recap:
Navi
GPS/Communication Tech
Money/Commerce