Excess Baggage

Now that my husband and I have made firm plans on a trip to Spain (we leave in under a week!), I am debating what to travel with on our 9 week trek to Europe. I’m trying to travel as light as possible, which is quite challenging when trying to factor in such electronics as a laptop, tablet & phone (not to include all the plethora of accessories + chargers). On top of that, I’m uncertain on which camera to take — do I go with my Nikon SLR with the standard 28-50mm lens or choose instead my efficiently portable Nikon point & shoot camera. Forget about the 70-300 zoom lens for the SLR. I’ve got too much as it is. And trying to narrow down to the basic ‘necessities’ is proving to be difficult when it comes to hauling around expensive toys across the big pond. I’m even considering bringing the GoPro. But now, am I going overboard? I have video capabilities on both my cameras and phone. Too many gadgets weighs me down in my travels. I have too much experience living that truth …. I want this trip to be hugely different from my travel days of 15+ years ago when I lugged around a HUGE 75 litre Lowe Alpine backpack plus a day bag. At the time, I wasn’t just on week or month-long trips. I was trekking for YEARS. And carrying all that excess baggage really was a literal pain in the butt. It limited my options, at times, of spontaneity and freedom. I even took my skydiving rig with me on an overload tour of Africa. But it was functional and well-used during that trip. So it made perfect sense. And this was well before the days of expensive electronic gadgets and stuff. Nowadays, I’m of the mind that the less I have, the better.

I remember sharing a bunkhouse with an amazing nomadic world-travelling goddess in India, 7 years ago. She travelled scrupulously lean with little to her name except for her explicit desire for her music library by her side. Megan hauled around a ridiculous amount of CDs for her cd-playing Walkman. But she couldn’t live without her music. An iPod was not an obvious option for her at the time (she had never actually heard of an iPod 7 years back, even though this amazing Apple life-changing invention had been released in 2001). That memory of Megan’s music devotion reinforces the concept that many people tend to travel with excess baggage that they deem important and are unwilling to relinquish. Myself included! I’m having a hard time considering 2 months away without my laptop. Dang.

MAC electronics

I’ve toyed with the idea of only travelling with a tablet. But after spending a few days out and about trying to navigate my working habits, I quickly saw the limits of said device. Editing photos and websites are tedious at best, even with several different blogging and photography apps. For me, nothing can beat a traditional computing experience where hardy software and an accessible hard drive provide for all my digital needs. Having a keyboard is key. I’ve yet to see a usb keyboard that would serve the functionality and ease of my laptop for the iPad. I’m open to recommendations and suggestions! So back to my plan A. Laptop goes with me to Europe. In reality, no one really needs a tablet to accomplish all their digital needs. But once had, tablets are certainly hard to give up! The reading experience is pleasurable compared to trying to surf on a phone. The screen size of my iPhone 4S is not meant for reading large amounts of material online or in book form. Hence the iPad. I’m a MAC girl at heart, and having the whole payload of Apple’s toys at hand is hugely gratifying and appealing. Worth toting around the European Continent??? Something yet to be determined. I’ll keep you in the loop!

To what lengths have you travelled the world with your toys and life possessions on your back? How much is too much when it comes to baggage? And what have you given up in the process?

A Quick Retreat from Winter

Christmas morning, and barely a sprinkling of snow. I suppose you could call it a white Christmas per se (here in the snowbelt area of Teeswater anyway; not-so-much in other areas around SW Ontario), but I’m thinking that there are a quite a few Canadian children who are disappointed by the barren dry grassy plains in their front yards. However, I am ecstatic that the no snow or ice graced the road with its coy slick nature. I’m hoping for clear highways and humble temperatures as we venture across the North American continent! You see, slaDE and I were accepted {last minute ~ literally 1 week ago} as paying volunteers for a 12 week residential service learning program at the world-renown Mount Madonna Center.

They don’t call us snowbirds for nothing! I am thrilled at the prospect of escaping another cold snowy Canadian winter in exchange for some yoga and skydiving fun. However, this winter, the Airstream shall be left behind, and in our trusty Optra steed, we find ourselves fully loaded with skydiving gear and minimalist clothing + items, making our way, this most quiet of mornings on the highway. Today is the chosen day to pioneer a new journey for ourselves, with a new winter exploration beyond the Airstream comforts we have travelled for the past few winter solstices.

On this day, we pretty much stayed true to our schedule and made great headway towards the border well before the break of noon. Our crossing of the International Boundary was a bit arduous and longwinded. Being a prior ‘avocado seed smuggler’ (their words, not mine), we were pulled over for inspection. But all in intention and belongings were displayed upfront, and honesty rang true and through. An hour after arrival, we were allowed entry in to the beautiful US of A. Seems like my prior status with the USDA in forgetting about an avocado on board our Airstream will haunt us in future crossings. Dang my premature senility in remembering all things food! 🙂

My Dad made me this awesome mini-desk for my laptop …. and it was put to good use on our first day. I now carry a piece of my Dad and his love with me wherever I travel. And that makes my heart shine.

A good long first day found us arriving in Illinois late evening, spending a few quality days with our friend Barbie June. Knowing the solace and company of a long-time dear friend (and second Mother to me) ever welcoming has me warmed by the comforts of friends during the Christmas holidays. What a spectacular season this has been for family gatherings and friend get-togethers!

Meralgia Paresthetica

Say what? Now that’s a mouthful, Meralgia Paresthetica. This is a medical term for a condition that I am currently suffering from. As the Mayo Clinic has defined, “Meralgia paresthetica is a condition characterized by tingling, numbness and burning pain in the outer part of your thigh. The condition is caused by compression of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve, which supplies sensation to your upper leg.” My doctor stated that some common causes of this condition stem from wearing tight clothing (such as tight low-rise jeans or spandex), obesity or weight gain, and pregnancy. Excess sitting, squatting, extended walking or the wearing of a wide belt compressing the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve will increase symptoms. Umm, not such great news for me. I don’t have a standing desk and have no other option to do my work than to sit on various platforms (choices of a chair, exercise ball, the wooden floor or a bolster). Ideally, a standing desk would be optimal. However, I am still curious as to what might have brought this condition on! I’m not pregnant, my clothes are quite loose (think yoga gear), I may have gained some weight, but nothing too drastic, and I can’t be classified as obese. Hence the mystery, and a sometimes burning numbing and painful one at that!

After a bit more questioning about what my habits have been of late, we seemed to have wheedled the possible cause down to the fact that I’ve been using my laptop almost daily, for long hours, perched on my lap. Practically I would be working at a table or desktop, but with our mobile lifestyles, much time is spent on the computer in the truck or sitting on the comfy Airstream couch — no real desk but the kitchen table. I of course use a lapmount buckwheat pillow to separate the MacBook’s intense heat from my legs. But obviously, even the weight of the pillow is creating distress within my body. Sigh, this shifts so much!

I need to come up with a table like surface that doesn’t rest on my lap but allows me to work in the truck or on the couch. Any suggestions?


Oh happy day!

I am such a happy happy gurl today …
Photoshop CS3At work, I finally had the program installed on my computer that I’ve been waiting a month for. The new Adobe Photoshop CS3.

It’s really quite cool. PS CS3 has some rather wonderful and useful shortcuts that the other versions don’t have. I actually had to use it today to cre8te a good luck note for my boss. And I played and rolled around in the digital muck of it all .. my hands were happily down and dirty.

The bonus: a training DVD extra that comes with the Extended Version (I wasn’t expecting that!).

It’s amazing what little things will make a nerd happy :).

Frontpage you say?

For you techies out there who might be wondering why a proficient Dreamweaver user like myself would want to learn the functions of a mediocre program like Frontpage (the fact that it’s a Microsoft product already has me reeling), here’s the scoop.

Part of my new job description with the Health Region is as their dedicated Web Designer (they were shouting hallelujah and kissing my shoes on the first day 😉 ). But there was one glitch, in my mind. CHR is unwilling to I have me use anything other than this MS product … hence, I wanted to take advantage of a bit of extra training on something that they are forcing me to use.

Hope that answers your questions :). Me, I’d be happy to work from home when they want web stuff done … but they wouldn’t budge on that one. Drat!

today I ….

– took an Advanced training course in Frontpage with CTC TrainCanada (paid through work) and found myself disappointed with the instruction, but especially discontent with the WYSIWYG editor itself
– discovered Facebook (and reacquainted myself with some old friends and relatives)
– had a fulfilling yoga practice with a marvelous steam session to follow
– realized that I am now classified as one of the ‘bendy’ ones
– almost peed myself laughing when slaDE realized that Durian fruit really DOES smell (and taste?) like vomit
– came to an understanding that luscious Jackfruit does not equal Durian fruit, although they are both tropical and look almost exactly alike (i.e. gigantic and spiky)
– spent WAY too much time in front of a computer … whaT’s new?! LOL
Googly eyes