Do you recall the scene from Mad Max Beyond the Thunderdome – the one when Mel Gibson is entering the township and he's told to hand over all of his weapons? So he starts bringing out knives and guns and this and that… and the pile of "stuff" keeps on growing and growing…
Well, it's a bit like that with me at airports these days, because I travel with two notebook computers, my iPad, my noise-cancelling headphones, a digital camera, a video camera, and… the list goes on.
And then I have my Nixie Tube Wristwatch, which always attracts the attention of the security folks. Also, as Steve Wozniak notes in the following video, it tends to make your fellow passengers a tad nervous when you reset the time zone on the way to your destination:
Of course, it probably didn’t help things when they discovered the Geiger Counter ticking away in the bottom of my backpack (hey, I wanted to see how much radiation was up there at 40,000 feet). This little beauty came from Mazur Instruments, and I will be talking about it in more detail in a future blog.
Believe it or not, however, the thing that caused me the most trouble was my 1.75-inch wide Tow Belt from Saddleback Leather. These are the folks whose tagline is "They'll fight over it when you're dead" and who offer a 100-Year Warranty!
This little rascal is actually three belts in one. The bottom belt is a smooth vegetable tanned leather so it slides on and off easily. The top belt is chrome tanned for look and feel. Meanwhile, the middle belt is hidden away inside; this middle belt slightly raises the leather level of the two outer-level belts above the stitching so the thread won't rub on your jeans and wear away. As an aside, the hidden middle belt is also vegetable tanned leather for added firmness – Dave (the founder of Saddleback Leather) refuses to use reconstituted leather ("leather cardboard") even if it's out of sight in the middle and even if it lowers costs. As he says: "It doesn't seem right. The two visible belts are plenty strong enough, but why not make it stronger in case you need to tow a train one day?"
Now, when passing through modern airport security, you have to take your belt off and stick it in your backpack. Based on the amount of electronic "stuff" I was carrying (with the associated flashing LEDs and beeping), I was pulled out of the line for special scrutiny; you may not be surprised to learn that this happens to me quite a lot. Believe it or not, however, the thing in which the security guy was most interested was my belt – he felt it was too thick and took it back to be re-X-rayed. Then he tested it for chemicals or whatever it is they test things for using some special machine, and finally he ran it by a drug sniffing dog that happened to be passing by.
Sad to relate, my delay was not yet over. When the security guy had eventually satisfied himself that there was nothing suspicious and that this was simply the best belt he'd ever laid his hands on, he then proceeded to take it around all of the other guards (and a couple of policemen) showing it to them and bragging about how amazing it was. All I can say is that I think I know what at least one airport security guard wants for Christmas!
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Easiest time I have ever had going thru security was when I was carrying a cat.
I dropped my bag off at the scanner and didn't remove my ham handheld radio that was on my belt, my phone in my pocket nor any of the other things in my pockets, I didn't even go thru the scanners.
Security waved me to the side of the scanners and they all gathered around and petted the cat then they proceeded to swab me then they swabbed the cat and then a bunch of cute TSA girls came by asking the cats name and then they all proceeded to pet the cat and make it purr even louder than it was when all this started.
Portland Oregon has some cute TSA girls as does Phoenix Sky harbor.
And that was it for me no stress a bunch of nice people for the first time ever.
I think that you should start a contest to see who takes the backpack with the largest variety of stuff (electronic equipment, test tools, adapters, etc.) through security. Contestants should submit pictures detailing everything they have in their bag. On average I have at least two flights a month (most of them internationally) and I carry a civilian version of pack that Camelbak made for the US military loaded with about 15Kg of stuff. Unfortunately, I don't have room for a cat in my bag, so you should see how much fun I have going through security :)
That's really not a bad idea -- I'm a bit strapped for time at the moment, but sometime in the next week I will show my backpack on a table with everything taken out and detailed ... and I'll capture it in a blog...
...then if others want to do the same, they can send me a photo and associated description and I'll do a series of follow-up blogs ... so maybe we can start with you... :-)