Category Archives: Eureka Season 5

two hundred words before six in the morning

When the alarm went off at 5am, I wasn't sure where I was. I mean, I knew I was in bed, but I was on the wrong side of the bed, and why was I awake when it's still dark outside?

After a few seconds, my brain finished booting up and I remembered that I am in Vancouver, I sleep on the wrong side of the bed so I don't feel Anne's absence more than I already do, and today I start work on season five of Eureka. I'm up when it's dark because I have one of those painfully-early call times that are, quite honestly, not such a bad problem to have.

I stumbled into the kitchen and turned on the coffee maker. I put a couple of frozen waffles into the toaster, and leaned against the counter while they did their thing. I felt a little dizzy.

The coffee finished brewing, and I filled my mug. As I took my first sip, the waffles popped up, and I put them onto a plate.

I walked into my dining room, and smiled to myself. It was early enough to hurt, and I was having a bachelor breakfast, but I was glad for it.

I'm back in Vancouver for Eureka, and in one of my scenes today, I have technobabble.

I don’t feel safe. I feel violated, humiliated, and angry.

Yesterday, I was touched — in my opinion, inappropriately — by a TSA agent at LAX.

I'm not going to talk about it in detail until I can speak with an attorney, but I've spent much of the last 24 hours replaying it over and over in my mind, and though some of the initial outrage has faded, I still feel sick and angry when I think about it.

What I want to say today is this: I believe that the choice we are currently given by the American government when we need to fly is morally wrong, unconstitutional, and does nothing to enhance passenger safety.

I further believe that when I choose to fly, I should not be forced to choose between submitting myself to a virtually-nude scan (and exposing myself to uncertain health risks due to radiation exposure)1, or enduring an aggressive, invasive patdown where a stranger puts his hands in my pants, and makes any contact at all with my genitals.

When I left the security screening yesterday, I didn't feel safe. I felt violated, humiliated, assaulted, and angry. I felt like I never wanted to fly again. I was so furious and upset, my hands shook for quite some time after the ordeal was over. I felt sick to my stomach for hours.

This is wrong. Nobody should have to feel this way, just so we can get on an airplane. We have fundamental human and constitutional rights in America, and among those rights is a reasonable expectation of personal privacy, and freedom from unreasonable searches. I can not believe that the TSA and its supporters believe that what they are doing is reasonable and appropriate. Nobody should have to choose between a virtually-nude body scan or an aggressive, invasive patdown where a stranger puts his or her hands inside your pants and makes any contact at all with your genitals or breasts as a condition of flying.

I do not have the luxury of simply refusing to fly unless and until this policy changes. I have to travel dozens of times a year for work, and it simply isn't practical to travel any other way. Airlines know that I am not unique in this regard, so they have no incentive to take a stand on their customers' behalf. Our government also knows this, so our Congressmen and Congresswomen have no incentive to stand up for the rights and freedoms of their constituencies against powerful and politically-connected lobbyists like the former head of the TSA. This is also wrong.

I have to travel back into the USA next week, and I'll be back and forth between Los Angeles and Vancouver for much of the next several months. When I think about all this travel, I feel helpless, disempowered, and victimized by the airlines and the TSA … and I'm one of the lucky passengers who has never been sexually assaulted. I can't imagine what it must feel like for someone who has been the victim of sexual violence to know that they are faced with the same two equally-unacceptable choices that I faced yesterday, and will likely face whenever I fly in the future.

It's fundamentally wrong that any government can force its citizens to submit to totally unreasonable searches so we have the "freedom" to travel. It is fundamentally wrong that the voices of these same citizens are routinely ignored, our feelings marginalized, and our concerns mocked.

I don't know what we can do to change this, but we must do something. I'm writing letters to all of my congressional representatives, contacting an attorney, and reaching out to the ACLU when I get home. I am not optimistic that anything will change, because I feel like the system is institutionally biased against individuals like me … but maybe if tens of thousands of travelers express our outrage at this treatment, someone will be forced to listen.

Edit to add one more thing: I don't believe that all TSA officersare automatically bad people (though we've seen that at least some are.) For example, I recently flew out of Seattle, opted-out, and got a non-invasive, professional, polite patdown. It was still annoying, but at least my genitals weren't touched in any way, which was decidedly not the case yesterday. I realize that most TSA officers are doing the best they can in a job that requires them to interact with people who automatically dislike them and what they represent. It isn't the individual officer who is the problem; it's the policies he or she is instructed to carry out that need to change.

1. The TSA recently admitted that the amount of radiation passengers are exposed to in backscatter scanners was 10 times more than they originally claimed. The TSA claims that the scanners are still safe, but what else would we expect them to claim?

Tomorrow, I go back to Eureka

“What’s the forecast for Vancouver?” Anne asked.

“It’s in the 40s and raining,” I said.

“Oh, that sounds awesome,” she said, in a tone of voice that indicated the opposite was actually true.

“It’s okay,” I said, “I have my scarf and my jacket and my warm hat.” As I listed each of these items, I put them into my suitcase. “It’s a little weird to be packing all these warm clothes when it’s 76 and sunny outside, though.”

I counted my jeans and socks and things, to make sure I had enough clothes for the week. I was short a few pairs of jeans, so I emptied the laundry hamper and loaded up the washing machine. While it did its thing, I went into my office and started to assemble my Gabe Bag.

I’m only gone for a week, I thought, and most of the time I’m up there I’ll be working, so I don’t need to bring too much stuff…

I put my Kindle, iPod, and iPad into my bag. I added a copy of Scientific American, and made sure that my headphones were charged.

My cat came into my office, followed closely by my dog. My cat meowed at me.

“Hey Watson,” I said, “What are you d–”

He had a giant lizard in his mouth. I’m no expert on lizard expressions, but I’m fairly certain that it didn’t look happy.

“Is that for me?” I said.

He meowed again, and the lizard broke free, scampering across the floor toward the wall. The dog and cat jumped at it simultaneously, the cat winning the race. He gave the dog the don’t even fucking think about it, dog, look (you cat owners know the one) and laid down across it, protectively.

“Okay, you guys,” I said, “normally, I’d let you have your fun, but this lizard doesn’t look very happy, and I think I’m going to save its life.”

The cat gave me the don’t even fucking think about it, monkey, look. The dog whined.

I picked up the lizard, deftly preventing it from biting the hand that saved it, and put it outside. The dog and the cat sat at the patio door and looked out. I’m fairly sure I heard them cursing me.

I went back into my office and looked around for the other things I’d usually take with me on a trip: games, books, maybe a couple of DVDs … and I realized that everything I needed or wanted (there’s a difference, kids, and it’s important to know it) was already there, on my Kindle and my iPad.

Holy crap, I thought, I really do live in the future.

In one of my books, I wrote about traveling across the country late at night to go to Star Trek conventions every weekend. I remember taking my original Gameboy with me on those trips, and having to pack six or eight or ten extra AA batteries, because I played it so much. I had a light up thing that clipped onto the front of it, and I had a carrying case full of games that was about the size of a 3-ring binder. Today, my DSi could fit inside my old Gameboy, and its battery charger weighs about as much as three old Gameboy games. In that story, I said that it may be hard to imagine a world where the original Gameboy was cutting edge and state of the art, but it's the world where I came of age, and though the world is as fucked up as its ever been, it's still objectively cool to be alive right now.

I closed up my bag, and walked into the back of the house to relate all of this to my wife. She didn’t say anything about how I tell her this every time I pack for a trip, and reminded me to make sure I didn’t have any deadly 4 ounces of toothpaste in my bag, just the entirely safe 3 ounces.

I started to go back to my office. On the way, I opened the patio door for the dog and cat, who gave me the this isn’t over, monkey, look. They walked outside, and I followed them. I may as well enjoy the warm sun while I can, I thought.

I stood out there for a few minutes, listening to the far away drone of the freeway and the occasional song of a bird. Flowers are starting to bloom, and I could smell jasmine and cut grass in the air. I’ll miss my pets and my house and this perfect weather while I’m gone, but it is a small price to pay to be in one of my favorite cities in the world, working with people I love on a show that I'm intensely proud to be part of.

I felt a surge of excitement, knowing that in just two days, I get to play Doctor Parrish again. I really wish that I could talk in detail about what we did in season 4.5, and what's coming up in season 5. I really hate it that we all have to wait until summer to see what we shot last year, but I'm confident that it will be worth the wait.

My cat jumped over the wall, and my dog stretched out on the patio, basking in the sun. “You guys behave yourselves,” I said, as I walked back inside.

I grabbed a glass of water in the kitchen and went back into my office to write about all of this for my blog.

After I’d been writing and rewriting for about 15 minutes, I heard my cat meow at me again from the office door.

“You better not have that lizard again,” I said.

He meowed again, and I heard something hit the floor, then the wall.

I turned around, and saw that my cat had caught a small bird.

“Seriously?” I said.

The bird jumped out of Watson’s reach in a small puff of feathers, and flew toward the living room. I went to the kitchen to figure out how I was going to get this terrified little bird safely out of my house.

Anne came out of the back of the house and asked me what I’d just thrown out the patio door. “Nothing,” I said, “but I have to figure out how to get the bird that Watson caught out of the house.”

“That must have been what I saw,” she said. Watson came walking into the room, a couple of small grey feathers hanging off his mouth.

“From a lizard to a bird in about 40 minutes,” I said. “Suck on that, evolution.”

She looked at me.

“It was funny in my head,” I said.

She continued to look at me.

“I’m just going to go back into my office now and write for a little bit.”

I looked at the cat. “Try not to suck any dicks in the parking lot on your way out.”

“That doesn’t even apply here!” Anne said.

“Doesn’t it, Anne? Doesn’t it?

I took 37 steps to get back to my office. 37. In a row.