Old mini computer (B80)

Roger Merchberger zmerch-cctalk at 30below.com
Tue Sep 25 15:23:03 CDT 2007

Rumor has it that Mr Ian Primus may have mentioned these words:

>Now, what I'm wondering, is how big of a hassle is it
>to bring this across the border? I've never picked up
>a computer from Canada. Is customs going to raise a
>stink about a 25 year old minicomputer?

Whatever you do, *don't* say *collectible*!!! "Museum piece" would be 
another bad term to use. Customs will hear these terms and think $$$.

Tell the customs agent that you have a giveaway (and seriously hint that 
fact being equatable to "worthless" if asked) hardware rack, obsolete 
wouldn't be a bad term to use...

Keep responses short, sweet & to the point. Don't be a smartass[1]. Don't 
give 'em your life story, as they're busy folk and don't need to hear it. 
*Especially* don't "hum and haw" when asked a question, the Customs agent 
will smell fear and pull you over to inspect your cargo, asking more 
questions than you'd prefer. Go over your story in your head several times, 
and try to be prepared for any question they might ask, like "Why'd you 
drive to BFE to get this thing?" or "What's this thing actually worth?"

A good story to use is:

Part A) "I used one in high school/college but no-one uses these anymore... "

and choose either Part B:

Part B1) "... and this person was going to throw it away anyway, so I saved 
it from the dumpster."

or Part B2) "... and this person said it didn't work anymore and I wanted 
the challenge to try to fix it." and if asked to elaborate, try: "it's a 
hobby just like restoring Model 'T' cars, but for geeks."

Something to that effect anyway should work fairly well.

Also, if the units "country of origin" was the USA, there shouldn't be any 
duty for it to return to the USA, no matter how much it's worth, so if 
there's a tag on the machine or a manual with it that states "Made in the 
USA" then they shouldn't give you any hassle.

A good piece of advice to keep in mind WRT Customs: You are *guilty* until 
proven innocent. If you're thinking of making a weekend out of it, get a 
gas receipt, buy a candy bar, etc. once you get into Canada, because if 
you're looking to hit the Duty Free on the way back, if you can't *prove* 
you were in Canada as long as you say, you haven't. Period.

I worked at a Duty Free for 3 years or so when I was a young lad, and 
learned quite well the powers (which are considerable) of US Customs.

Roger "Merch" Merchberger

[1] It only takes once to get the "wrong officer" (read: Didn't get any the 
nite before) to make your life hell crossing the border. 3 years ago going 
to VCF East (the one in Bahston), I crossed from Port Huron, MI to Sarnia, 
Ont.... made the trip quite a bit shorter for me. No worries... until on 
the way back. The guy asked me for my passport (which wasn't necessary at 
the time) and then for my birth certificate (also not necessary, not to 
mention mine had been destroyed and I'd hadn't gotten it replaced yet at 
the time) so the guy accused me of a) being a terrorist, and b) never 
having crossed the border before.

I broke my own rules, as I a) rather forcefully reminded him that I was a 
veteran, b) I grew up on a border town and had prolly crossed into Canada 
more (by the time I was 20) than he ever had, and c) I knew the crossing 
rules better than he did. [2]  Needless to say, my civil rights were 
violated that day because of my outburst... but remember, you're not 
technically in the US until *after* customs, so they can get away with it. 
Most don't abuse the power, but a few can & do...

[2] I (barely) stopped short of both vulgarity and questioning his 
parentage... thank goodness!

Roger "Merch" Merchberger   | Anarchy doesn't scale well. -- Me
zmerch at 30below.com.         |
SysAdmin, Iceberg Computers

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