Friday, July 6, 2007

fingerprints and a retinal scan

And what did you do on your vacation?

It happens that if you are volunteering at a govt-owned site, you need to have a criminal record check done, a concept I don't quarrel with. All of us engaged in the Living History week accordingly filled in forms with our birthdate etc. and sent them in. Some of us are in the military, or teachers, or already registered as volunteers, so were already covered. Others had to be run through the machineries of bureaucracy.
And of the roughly a dozen, who has a suspect name? Why, that would be me. Barbara Mary Louise Gordon, born Dec 25, 1957. There is, somewhere, a person with a criminal record, my first and last name, and possibly my birthdate.
It's like heraldry, in a way. Once you have that many points of resemblance, little things like middle names don't count as points of difference.
Therefore I must be fingerprinted, and the fingerprints sent (snail-mail) to Ottawa, or possibly to Montreal, depending whether one reads the police website's info on criminal record checks, or looks at the pdf the Parks people have emailed me. Of course, fingerprinting can be done Wednesdays only, at 1:30 pm only. And by the time Parks had informed me that I "may or may not have a criminal record" (but isn't that true, really, of everyone? she mused profoundly), oh, well, it was pretty darned close to the event, let's say.

Parenthetically, I was fingerprinted electronically in June, courtesy of US Customs and Immigration, and a fine botch they made of it, though I blame the equipment more than the people. Apparently at least 5 uniformed people must stare at the Mac to work out each screen. (IM IN UR NASHUN, STEELIN UR JOBZ, and I say no more because I'm still too annoyed to be properly Canadian about that incident.)

I arrived at the main police station, which has a wonderful piece of public art outside, by Jay Unwin, depicting, according to Robert Amos "working class heros propping up a marble column inscribed 'peace and harmony'", but which I have always mentally named "The People Crushed by Bureaucracy" because it looks like a 5-drawer filing cabinet falling on a crowd of nudists. Tragically, I can't find you a pic of the sculpture.
But let me not be diverted by public art, because I might be drawn into inveighing against architects, and then we'd be here all day.
The woman behind the (probably unbreakable but with a convenient gunslit-shape slot) window is a wonder. I was in a stroppy mood, and if I was, more obnoxious people than me must have been arriving ready for a fistfight. She was impressively calm and radiated in the 'I am here to help you' spectrum.
Which was good, because it turned out that Parks hadn't sent me the right letter. My letter said I should have fingerprints done, but didn't mention anywhere that it was for a volunteer spot. Which meant that I'd have to pay $50 for the fingerprints, and Ottaway would want another $20 for processing. Volunteers have the fee waived.
There followed some moments of AAARRRGHH, silently expressed.
Fortunately, she gave me the go-ahead to get the fingerprinting done anyways, then she would hold onto the form, until I could come back with a proper letter, that said 'for a volunteer' on it, on proper letterhead. And it had to be me bringing it in. Then we'd trade letter for form, and all would be well.
Coming in again, versus $70 to the govt? A clear choice.
So I waited my turn, and went in to the little side room, where the inkpad and the nice police man waited, and the fingerprinting was done in seconds. (The electronic pad took about 15 minutes, and that was on the low end of the range, from what else I saw. Yeah. Technology makes everything better.)
Then off to the washroom to remove evidence. See, even when I'm not working with quills, I still get ink all over my hands. It's a geas or something.

On Tuesday, first day really back in the modern world, I had my long-awaited ophthamologist appt, to examine my eyes front & back and record the current state so that they'll know if I become partially blind from meds.
It's only in the last few years that I've had anything more than a basic optometrist exam, and I'm still not used to having drops in my eyes and going around with hugely enlarged pupils. This would be my first real opthamology exam ever. It took longer to schedule than the rheumatologist exam, but that's probably unusual luck with the rheumatologist.
I sat about for a while in the exam room, finally wandering over to look at a chart of what can go wrong with your macula. The macula in a healthy state looks rather like a nice slab of fresh salmon, to judge from the paintings. I spotted the example of 'chloroquine retinopathy' with its 'characteristic bulls-eye pattern' and put that together with hydroxychloroquine, because I'm good with those foreign words.
The opth'ist wore a Hawaiian shirt. It did not, fortunately, resemble any of the states that one's macula can end up in. And he gave me the Very Good News that he had not, so far, seen any of the chloroquine damage show up when hydroxychloroquine was used. So yayness about that.

The next couple of hours (yes, really) involved having various liquids squirted into my eyes (to my intense disappointment, he said none of them would cause my eyes to glow under blacklight, bugger, I was looking forward to that), me apologising for my over-active blink reflex, another squirt to make up for that, and me sticking my face into a chin and forehead brace so that very bright lights could be shone through my eyes right to the back of my head. Oh, and contact lenses briefly applied, to make the backs of my eyes more visible.
I tried to wear contacts once. See above, re: blink reflex. Mark's blink reflex is worse than mine, but he can wear disposable contacts, an achievement I blame on his greater willpower.
Fortunately, very little of this required me to answer questions about the relative depth of colours or closeness of one little light to another little light. Those always stress me, because I'm sure there's a right answer and that I'm not providing it.
That part will come later, when I'm scheduled for a field test, which reportedly involves staring at a point while little dots go zooming at it, and pressing a button when they hit. Already I dread this, because I so suck at the twitchy-flexy thing. I'm old, my reflexes have deteriorated, and weren't that sparky to begin with. I asked whether young kids did better on that, and the opth'st said no, they had trouble keeping their eyes on the point, and the machine could tell if you cheated.
Good news is that there doesn't appear to be anything wrong with my macula or retina, other than that I'm extremely short-sighted, and that has its own potential problems. But hey, still good news.

I went in to work for a not-terribly productive afternoon, wearing my cute plastic-cutout shades that slide behind the real glasses, and after dinner I went to bed. Apparently having bright lights shone into your artificially opened pupils is tiring. At least for me.

By the way, googling doesn't seem to bring up anything about my evil twin. There's a Barbara Gordon who shot a man in 1997, but she was 33 then, which makes her not the right age, quite, plus she's American (Kentucky?) and thus unlikely to show up on a Canadian database.
It's also quite difficult to structure the search terms to avoid comics websites, especially discussions of the Joker shooting Batgirl.


Cheryl said...

The ghastly sculpture in question can be seen here:

I do like your description of it... I never thought of it as a filing cabinet, but I can definitely see than now. In fact, it's all I can see... though I did always imagine it as a falling object rather than one being lifted.

batgirl said...

Thank you! Despite the attractive composition and the very cool sky in the photo, it is still not an attractive statue (though the thing in front of the Save-On Foods Arena has it beat for flat-out ugliness).