Monday, October 30, 2006

Blog not dead!

I've been on the road for most of October - Melbourne and Sydney, Australia, then Dublin (Ireland), Manchester and York (UK). Just got home. Given that I live in Western Canada, you can perhaps understand that my head is still a bit gummy and wondering what time zone we're in today.

Good news: Melatonin works against jet lag. So does taking Nytol to force sleep.

Bad news: Air Canada or Qantas can make luggage completely disappear....and never come back. And then offer $10 per pound luggage insurance. That will replace a full suitcase, but not its, you know, contents. Clothes and shoes, and similar trivial things.

Good news: Business class on Qantas makes a 15 hour flight from LAX to Melbourne pretty bearable

Bad news: it costs 4 times what economy costs

Good news: Thomas Cook Airlines runs a decent charter between Calgary and Manchester, if you pick the premium cabin.

Bad news: Their on-time performance is pretty poor. AND they change departure times on you - read the fine print. We nearly missed our flight back to Canada because they moved it up by 2 hrs.

Good news: You can (= have to!) book a ferry boat from Holyhead to Dublin in advance, on line.

Bad news: The faster ferries get cancelled when the seas get rough.

Good news: Citroen makes a fantastic small car called the Picasso Xsara, available to rent in England. Fast, roomy, reasonably comfortable

Bad news: I have no idea how to pronounce Xsara, and if I did, it would probably sound like a stripper's name...

It's good to be home. Given all the things that could have gone wrong and kept us from getting home, that's a good thing.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Creative Zen the name brand of a very cool 1GB MP3 player. The model I own is a Creative Zen Nano, and it is about the size and weight of a Bic lighter. I wanted something that ran on a AAA battery, tiny, affordable, and with a built-in voice recorder as well as the MP3 player. iPods are fine, but this meets my needs better. I have about 400 tracks stored, many of which are symphony movements (so they run about 8-10 minutes). Easy to navigate, decent sound quality with the standard earbuds, and less than $90 including the arm strap and the belt clip.

Highly recommended.