Thursday, February 9, 2012

Preamble: Feb 9th, 2012

About two weeks ago, I finally bit the bullet and bought a telescope. I've always wanted one, ever since I was a teenager, more than half a century ago.
Over the years I'd looked at various models and prices, (including even building one myself; even grinding the mirror!) but could somehow never justify the purchase and/or time-  either because I
  • -lived in the city (Montreal) and the there was too much light pollution,
  • -Lived in the country, but was now married with kids (can't justify several hundred $$ on THIS shit!
  • - Traveling between city and country took up enough of my time!
  • - Retired- gee, can't afford to spend my hard-earned pension on THIS crap!
Excuses, excuses... But life is short, so WTF.  Buy it. Credit-card. Worry about paying it off later!
The model I chose, after much internet investigation, was an  8" Zhumell Dobsonian  (we cognoscenti refer to it as a  "Dob" (Explanation here) Made in China (isn't everything these days?)
As the Zhumell brand was not available in Canada, I had to purchase it through the USA- Chateaugay NY, 15 KM from me.)
This is where the fun begins: 
FedEx would not ship to a USPS box, so I had the telescope (in three boxes!) sent to a house address there- A friend of a Friend. Let's call him "Virgil".
After picking it up at Virgil's and loading the boxes into my small car (ICE EVERYWHERE! It's been a weird winter!), I set off home towards the Canadian border.
At Canada Customs:
At Canada customs, I dutifully declared it, and the border agents asked its value. As well they wanted PROOF of the value- an invoice of some sort.
After opening all three boxes, we determined that the only invoice was the one online in my e-mail. They absolutely refused to let this big shipment into Canada, and told me to turn around and take these boxes back to the US, until I could supply them with an invoice of some sort. So...
Back to Virgil's! 
After 10 minutes of wrestling with the three now-opened boxes and cramming them back into my sub-compact car, I set off, back to Virgil's in Chateaugay, hoping to store them on his porch until I could go home and somehow print the invoice in my Email (I do not have a printer**)
Arriving at Virgil's and knocking on their door, the first thing I spotted was a  PC!
 - "Umm,,, could I borrow your PC for a couple of minutes?"
 - "Sure!  No problem!"
So I quickly logged on to my Gmail, found the relevant invoice and printed it! (Luckily Virgil's family, as civilized folk, had a printer)
Canada Customs again. 
So, now with invoice in hand, I drove back to the border and triumphantly waved the invoice in their faces.
This time however, there were other people in the office, declaring goods. And on top of this, I was told the ubiquitous story: "Sorry! our computers are down".
Geez, they weren't down whe I was first there 40 minutes previously!
So it was another 45 minutes or so, before they finally calculated the tax on my  goods by hand, and I paid it. By debit card- at least THAT machine was working!
 So that's it. Now the telescope parts sit in my car, on an extremely icy driveway, 100 feet from the house.  Why didn't I wait until April to buy this thing...?
More later.

**My computer printer ran out of ink two months ago, and rather than buy another rip-off ink cartridge, I gave the printer away. I have been railing against idiotic and superfluous "printing" for 20+ years. OK, so I'm a tree-hugger.

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