Mister Eclectic (howeird) wrote,
Mister Eclectic
howeird

How did it get to be this late this early?

Long day, much done, even more not done or relegated to the "after my trip" to-do list.

Done:

  • Signed my lease renewal

  • Paid the rent

  • Took light rail to the Great Mall§

  • Bought the AM/FM mini-radio I'd had my eye on

  • Bought a mini short wave radio I hadn't had my eye on

  • Bought squeeze bags for my trip¥

  • Bought a travel pack at the Samsonite storeß

  • Decided not to buy any more clothing for the trip. It's cheaper in Thailand, & I expect to lose more of my tummy there.

  • Did not find a belt without metal in it for the trip. Remembered I had one at home.

  • Hooked up a new filter/aerator in the fish tanks

  • Replaced a missing valve cap on one of the car's tires

  • Unclogged one of the windshield washer ports

  • Discovered that Domino can now launch herself over the patio wall, despite a planter with cacti on top of said wall

  • Lined up my three travel packs side by side, tried them on, looked them over and decided to take the one pyrzqxgl recommended§§

  • Decided to use the National Bowling Stadium fanny pack for my camera's flash cards, batteries and USB adapter. Also decided to take my flash along.¥¥

  • Changed the catbox

  • Watched House of Flying Daggers on DVD.ßß
  • Read a few more chapters in In Conquest Born. Hope to finish this before my trip.

  • Organized my belt drawer.

  • Discovered I do not own a belt without any metal in it, after all.

  • Printed labels for postcards I will send on my trip. Learned more about Microsoft Word 2003 Mail Merge than I ever wanted to know.



Footnotes
§ The last time I took light rail, the Mountain View train's last stop was at Baypointe. This irked me immensely, because when they first opened the Mountain View route, it went all the way to downtown SJ and beyond. VTA has seen the error of their ways, and now the Mountain View train goes all the way to downtown SJ, and then ends up on Winchester Blvd in Campbell. Very nice. So now to get to the Great Mall, one must get off the Mountain View train at Tasman, and transfer to another train cryptically marked Alum Rock. The next stop from Tasman is Baypointe. Light rail is still painfully slow (it took about an hour for what would be 10-12 minutes by car), but it sure is nice to have the option.

¥Squeeze bags are nifty items which are basically air-tight/water-tight zip-lock bags which you put your clothing into, and squeeze all the air out. It makes packing jackets and such more feasible for carry-on luggage. It also keeps stuff dry in a tropical/rainy climate.

ßThe airline says I am limited to a 22" carry-on bag. I already had a well-used travel pack, but I thought it may be too big, it is made of canvas, not particularly water resistant, and I just wanted Something New™. I'd bought this Eagle Creek pack from eBags, but it was too expensive, too heavy, I didn't like the color choices, and the zippers jammed, so I sent it back. pyrzqxgl suggested another one from eBags, which I bought, and though I liked it enough to keep it, I really wanted something with more external pockets.

At the mall, the first pack I saw was at a little leather boutique, and it looked like it fit the bill, but it was black, and looked a little big. The next few I saw were too small, and/or were in black or ugly colors. At Samsonite they had a 19" wheeled pack on sale for $40, nice color choice, lots of external zippered pouches, two water bottle mesh holders, but no side handle. Burlington Coat Factory had some bright orange wheeled packs for $40, but they were 27" and cheaply made. After going back and forth between the leathere boutique and Samsonite, the leather boutique one was 27", and I figured at $40, the Samsonite was worth buying even if I didn't use it on this trip. So I bought it. All my other purchases fit inside, so I gave it a test ride back home. It's about half a mile from where I bought it to light rail, and another quarter mile from light rail to home. The strap adjustment buckles dug into my arms a little, and the wheel frame kept catching on my belt. Slightly annoying, but I figured I could live with it.

§§ My old pack turned out to measure in at 25". That's a show-stopper. The eBags pack has its shoulder straps set wide across the back, so the buckles are off to the side and don't dig into my arm. The straps are well padded, and are better and wider than the Samsonite's. It has no wheels or frame, so it's a little bit lighter and easier to shove into an overhead compartment. Also, I don't need wheels if I can carry it on my back. The more I thought about it, the less I wanted a lot of pockets which a thief could unzip and scoop something out of. It's a pretty blue, rip-stop, water resistant, and has lots of internal mesh and zippered dividers. And it's exactly 22".

¥¥ The original plan was to make do with the tiny flash which is built into the camera. That was before I knew I would be going during Loi Krathong, the night-time candle boat floating festival. The flash for my Nikon digital SLR camera costs about $350, and is almost as big as the camera + lens, so I didn't really want to haul it around. But it's going to be needed if I want to get any good shots of the festival.


ßßAlways am impressed with actress Zhang Ziyi and the work of director Zhang Yimou. Xiaoding Zhao's cinematography is technically superb, but lacks the artistic eye which I've come to expect from the high-end Beijing filmmakers. There were far too many hokey slo-mo and flying effects for my taste. Lots of plot twists, leading to a disappointingly Hamlet type "everyone loses" ending. One refreshing plot device is the army and its officers are painted as being every bit as skilled and clever as the Bad Guys. When they capture the Bad Guys, it is through skill and not the usual bumbling luck.


Tomorrow won't be so busy. I have a Peace Corps alumni planning meeting in the afternoon, and that's about it. Two more DVDs to watch, plus last week's episode of Desperate Housewives.
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