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A full day - but full of what?

Slept in till 10, did some computer stuff till noon, had lunch, phoned my mom at the nursing home. She's sounding chipper and her only complaint is they have her classified as contagious, so she can't join any of the group activities and when she is taken to the physical therapy room (after everyone has cleared out), she has to wear a mask. But the infection in her leg which she's in for is clearing up well, and Monday they will re-evaluate her and probably send her home. Dad was there when I called, so I talked to him too.
Great Mall
As planned, went to the Great Mall in Milpitas, walked all the way around it and discovered that they too no longer had any kiosks which carry pagers or pager accessories. Someone at Radio Shack suggested Nextel, but they don't have a presence in that mall. I think Sprint bought them, anyway. I stopped in the Van Heusen store (somehow I thought it was Arrow) and they only had a small clearance table of short sleeved shirts, everything else was long-sleeved, which I don't wear. But I did get one shirt in a burnt orange color which I didn't have in my collection, for 50% off the sale price - total $11. And everything in the store was at least 40% off the sale price, so I spent another $100 or so on 4 pairs of pants and a belt in my new size. I'm down another 2 inches from the last shopping spree. I stopped off in both Samsonite stores (why are there two?) and they were selling a wheeled travel pack which I would have bought one of at $40 except the first display model I saw had a separated zipper on the main zip. Also, it didn't have a way to carry it like a suitcase because both sides had a mesh water bottle holder. And the more I look at these wheeled packs, the less I like them. I don't need wheels on something I can carry on my back. And the frame they require makes the pack significantly heavier and less likely to squeeze into a carry-on space.

Home & eBags
Came home,  watched some college football, had dinner, changed the litterbox,  watched a bit of The Rescuers DVD (my latest Netflix offering), picked up a package at the apartment office. Turned out to be the second travel pack, one which pyrzqxgl pointed me at. I'll keep this one, but I don't think it's going to Thailand with me. It only has one outside pocket, all the organizer stuff is inside. And it has a set of four buckle-and strap dealiebobbers to adjust how deep the bag will be, which I'll probably just chop off. And the carry strap is stupidly attached to the short end of the bag, which makes it useless to me. But as a pack for short trips and bicycle trips to the farmer's market, it's super. The travel pack I already have is looking better and better.

Had dinner - salad and some yellow curry chicken over a piece of whole wheat bread. I'd not been eating bread for the past several months, and my weight has been stuck in the same 5-lb range for a month now, so I'll take Mom's advice and add some whole grain to the diet.

Target and Starbucks
After dinner it was surgical strike shopping at Target. Kitty litter and a bathroom scale. They have the best price on your basic 20-lb bag of kitty litter - $2.74, which was clearance priced at $1.90 so I bought six bags, which I was guessing will last through vacation at a bag a week. Looking at my calendar, six Saturdays from now is when I get home, so I guessed right. So where are the bathroom scales? They were not downstairs in the health & beauty or bath or small electrics sections. The nice stocking clerk said they were upstairs. I didn't want to take the cart with 120 lbs of gravel up there, so I checked out, loaded up the car and then went back and spent about 10 minutes before choosing one of the $30 digital scales. It had two features I liked - a low-energy LCD display with a lifetime battery and auto-zero. Turns out the auto-zero was a lie - any time you move the scale you have to get on it, wait for a reading, get off again to let it zero out, then get on for the true reading. In my bathroom there is noplace to keep the scale where it can be used, so I have to zero it each time I use it. Feh. While I was up there, I also picked up a charger for the rechargable batteries my mini disc player uses, which works off of both US and overseas voltages.

Starbucks, musings on Sci-fi writing style  & Music, music, music
Got home, unloaded the car, spent some time with the cats, then headed off to Starbucks for an hour or so of iced green tea, reading and eye candy.  Halfway through In Conquest Born the two sides of the plot have finally coalesced into the promise of an actual plot. Friedman has the makings of a world class writer, but she lets her inner vision of her made-up universe get in the way of readability.  Let me explain. In her mind, this author has dozens of planets complete with their own native species. Most are humans, but each planet has people whose shape and coloring are unique to that planet. When she describes a new character, Friedman usually compares this character with the typical attributes of people from three or four of these other planets. However, since this is the first (and often only) reference in the book to these other planets, instead of helping describe the new character, all this does is describe the people from these other planets, whom we will never see again in this book. This technique works fine if the book is part of a series, and we're already familiar with these other races - Star Trek and Star Wars, for example,  can get away with this - but it doesn't work in a stand-alone novel by a relatively obscure author. It obfuscates, and wastes my time.

Came home, plugged in the minidisc player, stacked up about half my classical music CD collection, and started burning them onto a 1GB minidisc at 66 kbps, the Sony ATRAC compression which about 6 months of QA showed me gave the best audio for the amount of space it takes up. It sounds better than 128 kbps MP3 or Real Networks and  64 kbps Windows Media. With the earbuds I bought the other day, the sound is amazing. Almost as good as a CD, more than good enough for airplane and train use. I am pleased. I am also pleased by the capacity of the Hi-MD disc - 3/4 of my classical CD collection is now on a single minidisc. As I write this, I'm doing another disc with my favorite pop CDs. So far I have all my Barenaked Ladies discs and nine Jimmy Buffets plus one Christina Aguilera, and there is still 20 hours of recording time left. At that rate, everything I want to take with me will fit on 4 discs.  Well, 5, because one disc has already been recorded at 132kbps from the 10 CDs I made for my car CD changer of my favorite tracks. I wanted to see if the lower compression gave better audio quality, and also wanted just one disc for my faves, for nostalgia. The quality was slightly better than 66 kbps, but not enough to justify making it my default compression rate. Not at double the disc space.

Anyway, the classical stuff was done by about 1:30 am...

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