Camera Recalled

I’m so happy today, I’m literally jumping. My trusted A-70, 4 year old, 3-mega-pixel, 3X zoom, Canon digital camera, blacked out a few weeks ago. And no, that’s not why I’m happy.

I was very frustrated with the situation, because like it goes with almost everything else here, taking the camera to a service center meant $100 to have it checked, and another $200 to have it repaired. That would be a grand total of $300. Now compare that to a brand new, state-of-the-art, 6-mega-pixel, 12X zoom camera for $400. This is the case with almost every electrical or electronic gadget available in North America. If it’s not working, throw it, get a new one. That’s the way it works here. Now I don’t have the $300 to get the camera repaired, and that would also mean that I don’t have enough to buy a new one. So I’m frustrated beyond my normal tolerance levels.

Now you probably know me and twitchy fingers, just waiting to get to a screw driver. After 2 weeks of doodling over the camera, I decided to open it up myself and give it a shot. Who knows, maybe it’s nothing. So I’m almost started with the screw driver. I don’t know what got into me; I decided to search on the internet if anybody else has opened up theirs, and that’ll make my life easier. These compact electronic gadgets can be very difficult to open and reassemble. And lo and behold, I find this website that tells me that the black screen is a known manufacturing defect. And. And. And. Canon is fixing the problem for free, irrespective of where you purchased the camera and how old it is. Yowwyyyyyyyyyyy. That’s how I went when I read that. They call this process a "recall". I scrambled for the phone, called them up, confirmed the problem, got the address in Vancouver where I can drop off the camera, and they’ll fix it, for FREE! Oh boy, I haven’t been so happy in many days.

By the way, I applied for, and was granted, a visitor visa to the US of A. The visa is valid for 10 years. Currently I intend to do a few 1-day training flights into the US, and if things work out Ok, I'll plan a longer trip for my birthday.

Deep Fried Banana With Ice-cream

My cold has finally cleared. I should be back in the air in a day or two. I'm a little bit occupied with 3 important things for next week. First is the Class-1 medical for Tuesday, then the Canadian study permit extension for Wednesday (my study permit expires in a month), and finally the US visa interview for Thursday. A whole bunch of paperwork is to be completed for each of them.

Marjan treated Jason and me to a huge Chinese dinner at Mings in a corner of Ladner village. The ambience was comforting, food was delicious, and service was excellent. It was a medium size place, with seating for about 70 to 80 people, and the menu was more than 15 pages. And that's with over a dozen items on each page. The variety was quite a surprise, and so was the taste. I can say now that the so called Chinese restaurants back in India are very "Indianised", with all our spices and what not. And being quite a dud with Chinese food, I let Marjan and Jason do the ordering. They ordered so much food; we packed enough for another huge meal for 2 people. And through the evening, I learnt the different between cabbage and lettuce. The highlight of course was dessert ... deep fried banana with ice-cream. This is something I will not forget too soon. I'm going to look for a recipe and get going.

Tahir pulled me downtown last week for his birthday bash. The cold was still stuck in my nose and chest. But this is one adamant boy. Dinner was at "A Taste of India", an authentic Indian restaurant on Robson Street (downtown Vancouver). The food was good, ambience was slightly putting everybody off (they were playing instrumental old hindi sad songs), and service was good. Thanks to Tahir for a lovely dinner. Then the group headed off to Granville for drinks. We hit the popular club Tonic, the guys got couple of shots and beers. I broke off at 1:00 in the morning to catch my last bus home. Here comes the most exciting part. The bus ride home was supposed to be 45 minutes. But it took me 2 hours. I fell asleep in the bus, missed my stop, got off 5 kilometers later, and had to walk back home. Thankfully, it wasn't very cold that night; else I would have ended up as a frozen lolly half way home. And now that my camera is broken, I'm getting pictures off others cameras. Click here to see pictures from the birthday night.

The Night Is Young

The skies have cleared and the sun is out. Spring is here and blossoms are everywhere. The runway is clear and the planes are flying. It's amazing how much of a difference the weather can make to my daily existence. I love the sun.

In all my zest, 2 days earlier, I rode the bicycle to school for a flight. When I started biking back home, it was 10:30 in the night and the temperature was 5 degrees and falling. Even with the jacket and head gear, I reached home 30 minutes later, with a leaky nose and a heavy head. Now that I officially have a cold, I don’t suppose my instructor will sign me off to fly, at least not until the cold is gone. It’s the worst thing ever, getting stuck with a cold when you’re away from home, and alone. And not being able to fly either. Simply miserable.

The weather clearing up, my flying has resumed to normal, with a new instructor and a new program. I've started with a "night rating" with Seiji. The night rating adds on to my Private Pilot License (PPL) and enables me to fly at night. Quite certainly, it's not so much fun flying at night in the mountains this side of Canada. It's significantly safer to fly south into the USA, where there are fewer mountains, more highways to follow, and more lights at night. I've applied for a USA visa, interview pending 12-April. If I get the visa, I'll be doing my cross country flights, at night, south into the US. These cross country trips should be one night affairs each - I depart at official night time (currently 8pm, becoming 11pm later in summer), fly for 1-2 hours south into the US, take a short break, and then head back to Vancouver.

I realize now that I could have done much better with the PPL. And the Commercial Pilot License (CPL) is a lot tougher. This time around, I've taken to studying more seriously, putting in more effort, definitely working harder. It's still a few months away, but my CPL flight test will be something I will be proud of.

Last weekend I went to downtown Vancouver. I had the camera with me and took a few pictures. After about the 10th shot, the screen went black. Minimal investigation revealed that the probable affected part is the main digital sensor; everything else seems to be working alright. The screen is alive; it displays the camera controls and settings, but not the picture itself. Now I'm without a camera. I hope I’ll be able to borrow cameras for a day here and there. I’ll feel very sad if I can’t keep photographic memories of sorts, and share beautiful Vancouver and nearby places with you. Sometimes things just fix up by themselves. So I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Click here to the few pictures that made it before the black set in .