Day 209 – Flight and Flames

Travel is a Zen-like state now.
I realised as I was walking to the gate in Sydney today that I’ve got my routine so well practiced now that I’m not even thinking about travel anymore. I just listen to my podcast or read my book and go through the motions on auto-pilot.

Clearly I’ve arrived at station unconscious-competence.
Or maybe conscious-unconscious-competence? … How meta can I get?

I pack my bag so that I can easily get to my ticket and booking papers. I keep all my electronics within easy reach for the X-Ray scanner. I sit at the gate so that I can easily get close to the front of the check-in-line when they call the tickets.

On Virgin, I usually book towards the back of the plane. I saw a row with only the window-seat taken one row from the back. By taking the aisle seat I was almost certain to have a free spot next to me, unless the plane ends up fully booked. Tip: single travellers rarely pick a middle seat between two full spots if they have any other options left.

By getting to the front of the queue I have an excellent chance of getting my luggage right over my head. Which isn’t important for anything other than being the first person off the plane at the other end. Tip: this only works if you know the airline is likely to use the rear exit. Also… only if you don’t have checked luggage, otherwise you’ll be waiting at the carousel anyway.

Every step of my journey is a well-practiced juggling routine.


There is something terrifyingly beautiful about bushfire.

I’d seen it on TV and video before of course. But at the tail-end of this trip I was surprised by an in-person view of a grass fire creeping over the hills. As we were coming in for the landing it still looked very cloudy around the hills of northern Melbourne. It looked like fog, so I didn’t think anything else of it.

But then it became clear the fog was attached to tendrils that were attached to fire.

On the one hand I was sympathising with anyone down there near any of the fires. On the other hand I was wishing my flight was a few hours later, because the thin fire-caterpillars in the grass would have looked all the better for it. Fire is beautifully terrifying.

Day 208 – MEL Now/Nov

I’m looking forward to seeing how well my new laptop-bag/pack will work out when used in anger.

I took it to Wet’n’Wild today where it did an excellent job at concealing many food-items inconspicuously. It’s a little too bulky to sit nice and upright in the locker, but flat on its back works well. It isn’t as large as it looks; that might just be the eye-popping orange.

Tomorrow morning I’ll take it in to work with my laptop and some shower stuff.

But then tomorrow evening it’ll get a quick re-pack for its first trip to Melbourne. If this works well it means one less bag to lug around, because it’d replace the messenger bag for my laptop on these trips. Maybe I’ll be less in need of a massage on my return. But to be safe I’ll make another booking for Friday anyway. Although I’m afraid she might try to relax my ITB again, which… isn’t relaxing.

I’ve also spent a chunk of this evening preparing for another Melbourne trip. One for personal reasons. One for reasons of PAX. I’ve never been to a proper Con of this nature, and I cannot wait to see what it’s like. Although I do have a lingering fear that this will inevitably lead to holidays to the US in the future. It’s still 9 months away, but the hotels may need sorting out sooner rather than later; it’s right before Melbourne Cup Day, which has a high likelihood of disrupting everything around the city. Best to be gone before that storm hits.

Day 207 – Crumpling

Today I got a new bag.
A very multi-functional bag.

It’s a Crumpler!

If it’s not a Crumpler, it’s simply not worth having.

I had a great time looking around the store, and being wowed by the knowledgeable staff. Some of the bags Crumpler produces contain so many secret hide-aways and neat tricks that you might own one for a decade and never realise its full potential.

One of the bags demonstrated had a cleverly reversible diagonal shoulder strap, which also allows the bag to be swung around onto your stomach where the side pocket suddenly is a top pocket, and immediate access to camera equipment is possible.

So many tempting goodies, but I needed something more specific.

I want a bag that’ll fit camera gear. I want a bag that’ll fit up to a 15″ laptop. I want a bag that’ll hold some clothes for travel when needed. I want it all!

Weighted Toy Equipment to Try Pockets
Weighted Toy Equipment to Try Pockets

I know all about laptop sizes, but I forgot to think ahead on camera sizes. Luckily the store manager was very knowledgeable herself. But she also had a handy box of fake camera shapes ready. Quickly screwing a large “lens” onto a D6-ish “body” quickly proved which bags were roomy enough for the job.

My Choice
My Choice

I ended up with a back-pack with two main compartments in the body and a padded laptop pocket to the back. The bottom compartment was sized to exactly fit a Crumpler insert designed to deal with DSLR equipment. So now I can have the camera pre-packed in an insert that I can either throw into the bag or leave out.

If I leave it out, the two portions of the backpack can either be used separately or joined. But I think separate makes more sense… one compartment for gym gear and another for swimming gear. One compartment for camera gear and one compartment for some snacks or clothes.

Ceci n'est pas un Crumpler
Ceci n’est pas un Crumpler

And everything about their store and their brand is slightly playful. Including the not-a-Crumpler that the Crumpler was put inside.

Oh, also: lifetime warranty on all parts. I mentioned I had a messenger bag that was still in good condition after many years, except for maybe the velcro. The store manager suggested I should bring it in for velcro-replacement under the original warranty.

Note that these bags do cost a bit. But they are for all intents and purposes indestructible. If you pick the right bag for your needs you should never need another. Unless your needs change 😉

Day 205 – Holly for the Cats

Holly brought a gift to the gym today. A gift for the cats. Primarily because she has no cats to give the freebie to herself, but let’s not quibble about the details.

The cats certainly didn’t.

Are These Playthings?
Are These Playthings?

I don’t think Obie saw the point at first.

WANT!
WANT!

That changed quickly enough once the tin cracked open though.

Cat-Dawg...
Cat-Dawg…

The dog is really submissive around the cats; he isn’t confident about pushing in, but he does know what he wants. He was sitting waiting hopefully for his dinner.

Coaxed From the Bed
Coaxed From the Bed

Amber got the diet option, but she needed some coaxing. I think she thought she was getting called for nail-clipping… her second-least-favourite activity.

With Gusto
With Gusto

Once she gets going she’s unstoppable though.

Dejected
Dejected

And again the dog was sitting on the sidelines quietly hoping.
(He has had several snacks and meals since… don’t feel bad for him!)

Day 204 – Catan Again

We used to play Catan a lot on Wednesdays.
It has been a while.

Plain Settlers
Plain Settlers

We used to play it with All The Expansions, because if X is a good thing, then All-The-X is even better. It plays a lot quicker when you’ve just got 3 players and the base set only.

It was fun.
But I won, so I might be biased.

Now my brain needs to switch off.
(It may already have… goodnight)


Oh, also… for the observant… we had to improvise on the robber because for some reason the shrink-wrapped box came without the appropriate piece. The role of the robber was played by a nice black nail polish for the occasion.

Day 203 – Management Self-Study

It didn’t take long for me to get hooked.
It amazes me that HR didn’t already know about it.

I am listening to a management podcast that is really good at providing concrete actionable suggestions on being better at routine management skills and tasks.

I think every manager should listen to Manager Tools Basics at least, which has some great foundational topics. And the ongoing Manager Tools podcast builds on those basics to cover topics like hiring, politics, reviews, and so on.

If it’s management, there’s an episode for it.

Day 202 – Sunbeam Give-Away

It’s a Competition.
With a Give-Away.
For FREE!
(Almost)

I recently acquired a superior ice-cream-making solution. As a result I now have two fully functional Sunbeam Snowy ice cream makers that will otherwise have to get sent to a farm up-state.

Snowy

I very briefly considered selling both on eBay.
But then a more fun idea presented itself.

All I want is your tastiest/weirdest/funniest ice-cream-flavour suggestion in the comments below.

Also, for bonus points: indicate if you are willing to prepare the suggested flavour and share the sampling of the first scoop with me so that I can blog about it here. If this is your first ice-cream attempt, I can help with the making of your suggestion.

On Saturday, February 15th (2014) I’ll pick the two suggestions I like most and each will get a Snowy of their very own.

If you just want to take part in making suggestions without being eligible for a Snowy, mark your suggestions with “#nowin”.


And the winners have been drawn now; see Day 214 – Winners.

Day 201 – End and Beginning

I feel spacey.

A little like I’m drugged.

Extrapolating from an earlier step-count, I am guessing that today involved around 70k-80k steps. My legs hurt. My ass hurts. My brain does not care. It was too much fun.

Back to work tomorrow.

I have no idea how I will go.

I’m going to crash into turbulent dreams shortly. I will wake, most definitely sore, possibly incapable of movement. If I make it out of bed, work will be interesting. If I make it to 4pm without crashing I’ll be happy.

I guess I need a day to catch up with 3 weeks of email triage.

I have no idea what awaits.

If I did, I don’t know that it’d make any difference.

Day 200 – Dan’s Party

Right now, I am frantically sorting through some 200 odd photos taken at Dan’s birthday party in the city. I want to cull it down to a decent 40-50 at most, post them to the proper place and then go sleep up for tomorrow at Wet’n’Wild.

Although the day started gloomy and threatened rain it ended as all Dan’s BBQs do… with a beautiful sunny day in the backyard. Alas for the last time, for everyone is moving. Sad times. But also glorious times, because now there will be new places to have BBQs.

I had a great time photographing, eating all the delicious foods people brought, and insulting and threatening the life of a garden gnome… twice. I must hasten to add that I had nothing against said gnome myself, but some of the house-mates were not so fond of it, and I was merely offering suggestions of suitable accidental disposal. You know… as good house guests do. I feel very misunderstood now.

Met some new interesting people too, which is good for at least one of my new years resolutions.

And now to get ready for my last day off before work comes crashing back onto my shoulders. I’m going to make the most of it by spending it in the sun and water. I intend to return to work a shell of my former self. What point in having a holiday only to return back to work relaxed and then waste it on the stress of catching back up? I have to burn all that off for my betterment before I go back.