Sunrise over Friday Harbor

Sunrise over Friday Harbor

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How I Pack (Part 1)

(NOTE: This is for flying. Road trips and train trips are entire 'nother animal.)

Weather:
I can easily handle a 50 degree range (and even more if I will only be outside for a few minutes moving from car to door etc.) with my standard array of clothing:

  • a pair of Khakis/jeans
  • a pair of black pants
  • several long sleeve quick dry shirts (or short sleeve if in summer/warmer climates)
  • a light merino wool sweater
  • a breathable jacket (the same one I wear on the trail)
  • a scarf (pashmina or the like)
  • walking shoes

For trips like Green Bay, I allow myself a couple of fun things. This trip I have snow pants (though not totally necessary) and some silly hats to wear.

Function:
If I am going to be going to a play or out to a fancy dinner, I tend to pack a nice shirt and a pair of shoes that don't look like I walk 20 miles a week in them and wear my black pants. Its as good as you are going to get with me.
Cope.

I end up packing about the same amount of clothes for a weekend that I do for a week or more. I don't know why, but it seems to work well for me. I think its because I can have a choice in what I wear and my inner 2 year old is appeased by that.

Also on the default list is:

  • yoga pants (can work as jammies, workout wear, warmer weather pants as well as being just plain comfy.)
  • 2 quick dry t shirts (workout clothes, layers, on their own, jammies etc.)

Tools:
This is where I spend most of my time thinking about a packing list: the gadgety stuff.

  • Phone+foldup keyboard+USB charging cable – I have a Palm Centro with the old Palm folding keyboard covers most of my text based needs (email, blogging, writing articles/books (thank you WordSmith!), Twitter, Facebook, banking, misc browsing) and some basic HTML provided I have a web interface I can work in instead of relying on FTP.My phone also has a nationwide plan and is GSM so if I am out of the country I can buy a prepaid card and swap SIM chips.
  • Camera+charger+multiple cards (I have a small digital that works for everyday photos and video. If I am going somewhere for more than a week, I will most likely bring my digital SLR for some really good shots.)
  • iPod – model varies based on trip length and availability of wifi and or power outlets.
  • Solio This can charge my iPod (The nano version can be charged multiple times without draining the Solio and still have power for my phone) I have limited luck with charging it in the sun since I am in airports and in cloudy locations. But when I do road trips, it works really well on the dashboard, hiking has a limited charge time as we are mostly in the trees but it has a charging option so I mostly use it as a spare battery.
  • Belkin Mini Surge with USB – For charging everything in my pack. It is brilliant.Go get one NOW.
  • Card reader+Cards+Portable Apps – You can use any PC without leaving any of your data on it… and they have Skype in P.A. form now! I also put PDF (password protected) scans of my drivers license, my passport and other emergency information and standard files I use a lot.
  • USB rechargable speakers I found these a while back. I like them because they sound great, are chargable via mini-USB, and are tiny (they were originally made to go with some Cingular phone that matched its form factor). I don't think they make them anymore, but I love them.
  • optional: if I am on call at work then I take my netbook, an Acer Aspire One which has my full set of tools on it.
  • optional: if I will be on a flight longer than 2 hours or if I am visiting my family (i'm a night owl and they aren't), I bring my eReader

Then there's the standard stuff I have in my purse/backpack at all times: notebook, pens, aspirin, etc. Survival gear.
There are also some new toys that I am pondering but that will have to be another post… as will the perfect (mythical) travel tool.

Ze Giant (somewhat thin) Recap

Been just a tad busy lately.
Went to visit one grandmother last month and did a whirlwind tour of a goodly amount of Texas crap food that I adore (Whataburger, Taco Cabana, Pappadeaux (Pappadeaux  is not crap, but it was in an airport – a bonus food thing as I didn't have time to hit the good food places.))
My grandmother's definitely feeling better, she had some sort of crud in her lungs that was bringing her down, man. But she seemed perky enough for the weekend. I fixed her DVD player and told her to call me when her smart-ass sons didn't explain things well enough (and her smart-ass granddaughter would give it a go.)Then close on the heel's of that whirlwind trip was the cube decorating contest at work I did my cube up as an In-N-Out Burger joint (won 1st prize-putting my art degree to good use.)


In N Out Cube

The cube almost didn't happen since the the Bay Bridge decided it wanted to drop pieces of itself  on top of cars and they closed it down… which meant that all the thousands and thousands of people who normally go over that bridge had to overflow elsewhere… my bridge as well as public transport (if they had that option.) I left at 6:30 each morning  to get to work on time.. and then I left work later to avoid the traffic going home. Made for some long days and I'm lucky I managed to get the materials I needed to do this from Target (red wrapping paper, a red dish towel) and stuff I already had (an old poster frame and cardstock for letters in my printer). But it all came together in a few hours while I was doing a release to the web site anyway.
..and then I slept.
When I woke up it was just about time to visit my other grandmother, but his time we all met up in Vegas.


Meme and Lily

Lovely weekend; we spent the gross national income on shows (the Cirque du Soleil was freakin' awesome – I was all psyched to drop another $150 on another version right then (and you know what a money grubbing fiend I am.) but I got vetoed for Bette Midler. She was good too, but she isn't as flexible as they are… but then again they don't dress up as mermaids and move around the stage in motorized wheelchairs. So there you have it.
We also did our standard practice when I meet up with mom and my cousin of effectively dumping out the contents of the suitcases and rearranging all belongings between the three of us. They ended up with some purses, some stuff I set aside for them anyway and ebooks. I got a rockin' set of skull jammies and a new pouch purse. Excellent haul.
I gambled $2 of my dollars and a atypically increased some that my grandmother had won; Vegas math: $25 in on a nickel video poker game + royal flush=$60 total -me gambling more=$40. Then I stopped.
..and then I needed sleep but I haven't had any since.


Mama shootin' craps (her war cry was "Little Red needs a new coat of paint!"
(Little Red Riding Hood is her little red Grumman Traveler )

Prepping for turkey day now… I might remember to food blog it but don't hold your breath.

Il Buono, Il Brutto, Il Cattivo

Sunday we spent the day at Mikey's having the pre-birthday celebration for Tex (cupcakes and puppy dog noses trying to get in the cupcakes) and was a pretty good day. We got back to the apartment and fed Bunny, who was acting pretty normal, though she started slowing down about an hour later and then her front leg seemed to fill with fluid very quickly.
She wasn't acting right so I carried her on to the bed to pet her.
Her leg was tender, it was swollen so it would be tender, but I couldn't find a break or a cut. But she also wasn't putting much weight on it, so there was something wrong.
She started acting disoriented, but not in pain and it was one of the things animals do before they die… I really couldn't deal with THAT decision right then, so I tried to get her to settle and talked to her to keep her calm.
I thought I was losing her.
I turned up the warming pad in her bed to keep her comfy and just talked to her for about an hour. I just couldn't wrap my head around the fact that I was going to lose her at that point.
When she finally  stretched out on the heating pad and sighed a little Bunny sigh, I figured we were out of the woods. Poor little kitty doesn't have very much blood as it is, when she gets cold I supposed it gathers center mass and leaves her brain to its own devices. Also, her leg drained nicely and she rested for a while as long as I stayed there. So I didn't move.
I fell asleep sideways on the bed and woke up about 3 am with my legs killing me (from hanging over the side of the bed) and had to pee like mad. When I got up, she stood up, all perky-like, meowed and hopped off the bed as neat as you please to go to the kitchen for her 3am snack.
I was still worried about her the next morning even though she was moving around well, eating like a little lion and generally acting her normal self. Tex was home all day Monday, so I went to work and left her in his care (he was a wreck at this point). I called the vet and told them about what happened and asked my vet to call me back with a yay/nay on bringing her in for a look-see and also what her test results were from last time.

Eventually, my very tolerant and long suffering veterinarian calls me back and says that her numbers are improving, that we should keep all her medicines at current levels and to keep doing what I am doing. He wasn't as concerned about the fluid build up in her leg as it had already receded. He did agree with my theory about her getting cold and her internal pumps going a little cattywampus.
Then he said he really didn't need to see her for another 6 months.
*blink*
This kind of floored me because I got the impression from his last visit, because he didn't give out a year’s prescription on the fluids and needles, that he didn't believe she had that long left… and she had lost a little more weight last time, I thought she was starting her final decline.
Such relief that I get to  be around her a lot more.
She's such a sweet little cat. She's smart, she's hilarious, she loves me and frankly after 18 years of having her around, I don't know what I will do without her. I was basically a different person when I got her.
So, I still have my little kitty and I'll do every thing I possibly can for her while she still wants to be here.
Punto; full stop.

Have I talked about her lineage?
I worked at a bookstore in Austin and worked with some seriously awesome people. Melvyn (his nickname, I have a thing for nicknames…you may have noticed) and Amy were roomies before Melvyn became my roomie. Amy had Peanut the cat who was a dark brown calico. She had a litter at one point and one of those kitties went to her brother Marshall in San Antonio. Marshall had a problem with not spaying his cats, so lucky for me, she had kittens; I asked for the runt and got Bunny.
She's part siamese, I believe, and part calico. I always hear that she is the most beautiful cat… and she is :) . She started off with dark ears and tail and the rest of her was white with cream spots. Gorgeous then and gorgeous now that she darkened up over time (that's siamese trait)  to dark brown, caramel and tan (calico markings). Silky fur and blue eyes…not to mention the siamese talkative thing. She's got quite the vocabulary. She even has special meows for different people; ring tones effectively.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/fredlet/tags/bunnycat/

I've mentioned before what weird luck I have. In fact, I wouldn't call it luck per se, but more along the lines of balance put upon me.
Something horrible happens and then something offsets it.
Bunny seemed like she was dying, then she was ok and I find out her numbers are actually very good.
or then what happened MON night…
My car's Check Engine light came on and I find out its just a little hose that we replaced summarily with a minimum of jostling… and I don't even have to use up my spare $100 part I keep in the car for the more common failure.

At 150k miles, the beast is a work horse. I love this car.
Its comfy, it gets reasonable gas mileage and its of a vintage that its still repairable by a non-dealer mechanic. (Even more awesome is the fact that Tex's nephew is my pet mechanic and we bribe him with computer parts and keep his machine going). I even have a spare ignition coil to fix it on the spot when I get that particular code showing on the code reader. However, it turned out not to be the case in this one. It was the mass airflow filter that we'd replaced a while back, and I didn't have a spare one of those…but Michael looked at it and said "Hmmm, this hose feels funny."
He replaced it and so far, so good. 

So, Bunny still trotting around nicely, the tension levels (well, Bunny related tensions) in the house have calmed (ants are back…grr. I don't want to move but Tex is insane when the ants show up. We'll see what happens.(read:if he wants to move my apartment full of crap, he'll get off his butt, go find a place and organize the money to do so himself. I'm busy taking care of Bunny and the rest of life right now.)) and I think I found a reasonable option for keeping her warm when the radiator is off. Summer is coming and in NorCal is COLD.
I got one of those pop-up dog crates. I turned it on its side so that one of the vents was under her, the other one, now on top, I covered with a dishtowel to keep the warm air in and then covered the whole thing with a beach towel for insulation.
Her warming pad and current towel I moved in wholesale and set it all on the couch.

She was not amused.

She walked in and stood there with her tail swishing in that I'm-irritated-with-you way and didn't move for a full minute. Then she turned around, walked out and then climbed all over me (I was sitting in the chair where her bed used to be.) and gave me The Look several times.
After about 45 minutes, she got in, turned around and lay down, but still gave me the look telling me that this wasn't over yet. (I called it "The Oven"… obvious joke of "The Bun is in The Oven" followed shortly after.)
I think that it will hold enough heat to keep her a bit more comfy, but I'm sure we'll tweak the setup over time and see if she starts to get used to it.

So, the plan for the next six months it to keep her weight up. We're talking ounces, so a regular scale is useless, she's not featherweight so a kitchen scale is too wimpy, and some of the larger scales seem overkill.
My fabulous find? A travel luggage scale. Works in ounces and is compact. I'll just stuff her in a carrier for a few minutes every few weeks and weigh her; I'm sure she'll love that.

PACKING LIST:Super-cool reusable Trader Joe’s Grocery Bags

Remember in Friends where they all go to the beach and Joey shows up with a paper bag…?

Joey: (walking up carrying a brown paper bag) Hey!

Monica: Oh, hey! Oh good, you brought food!

Joey: No, it’s just my luggage.

yeah well this particular packing list is sort of like that…but with a Trader Joe’s reusable bag.
They are the perfect size, sturdy, cool looking and are wonderful even if you can’t really sling them over your shoulder (but really, if I was THAT concerned with it, I wouldn’t be using Joey Luggage.)

For a last minute “Hey! let’s jump in the car after work run off down the coast this weekend!*” like in college. (yes you are allowed to stock up on munchies at Trader Joe’s on the way out.)

  • Trader Joe’s grocery bag
  • Trader Joe’s citrus sampler kit
  • towel
  • swimsuit
  • yoga pants
  • polar fleece sweatshirt
  • bandanna

*We’ll assume you don’t have prior commitments, your cell phone is charged and you don’t have pets that will starve without you there.