Ahhhh, … back online (sigh of relief) …

OK, some of the beginning of this blog will be “Techie Talk” (in Blue) but the rest (in green) is what’s going on, too…

Chris getting a grad present (cup jacks) from his first glass teacher, Helen Lee!

Tech Talk

Odd, the good o’ Toshiba Satellite (2nd one in 2 years) quit working about four days ago.  So, had to shop for a replacement – mercifully well BEFORE our trip and not ON our trip!  Unfortunately, laptop choices have greatly expanded.  To the point where I not only had to do research online after going to Fry’s to check what’s out there, but I couldn’t DECIDE even after the research!

The goal was to buy a portable enough laptop that was under $1,000, included wifi (duh!), a DVD burner / player, webcam, lots of HD storage capacity, A/V input, and a good amount of RAM. Well, under a $1,000 is no problem!  There are WAY too many choices.  What specs to filter out laptops?  Rather seemingly minor criteria:  Keyboard type (w or w/o 10-key pad, chiclets or separated keys, underlit or plain), sound system, screen size (> 15″), weight (< 5 lbs!), core processor (dual, ci3, 5 or 7), tech support / customer service, international support, extended coverage, …

What I bought ... Niiiiiice!

So, after 3 days of searching, testing, hemming and hawing, I chose the Sony Vaio F12YFX/B, a 16.4″ display, core i7 processor (yes, I learn ed about the latest fashionable processors! This processor happens to be great for Gaming, go figure), 4 GB RAM, 500 GB HD, DVD player / writer w all the + & -s, Windows 7, screen resolution to 1600 x 900, and … about 4.5 pounds.  Still a shoulder breaker with a battery, but not any worse than the Toshiba.  I’ve been testing this since Friday evening, when I bought it at the PA Fry’s.  Skipped the extended warranty plan Fry’s offers (it’s horrible anyway, and the Service Dept techs don’t honor what the Salesmen sell!).  Purchased the Norton 360 that has PC security, Identity Protection, PC Tuneup, Backup and Restore – basically digital dangers thwarted!  HA! Take that you scurvy Viruses and Hackers!  Now to remind myself to backup online once in awhile…

I love, however, when some software program (Windows Explorer I believe, or is it one of the other browsers?) keeps asking if I’d like to create a Master Password for ALL of my online accounts!  So much for security…

*  OK – and now, back to our “normal” broadcast blog…  *

For the past two plus weeks that I’ve been Offline, one word:  PACKING.

Ugh!  I have no fingerprints now because of all that wrapping.  I have callouses between my thumb and pointer finger because of the packing tape, and I have major carpal tunnel in both hands, and tennis elbow without benefit of playing tennis from the lifting and moving of boxes.  I am NOT a moving specialist!  ANOTHER vocation I will safely not pursue.

We contracted Hercules moving & storage company for our large item and boxes pickup for July 27th, Tuesday.  A few days before this, Barack from Hercules called me and asked if they could come earlier!  I almost fainted.  I had been wrapping, packing, sorting for the past week, and had gotten about half of the household purged or packed!  No way would we be ready for a full pickup.  So, we settled on a partial pickup on Sunday, July 25th.  It would give us room to work around, so that was a good move.  Our stuff went to the San Leandro storage facilities.  A week later, I brought over a load that we’d missed in the last pickup, and Barack helped me unload, tag, and inventory them load.  Normally an additional $125 charge, Barack was a sweetheart and did it for free.  I will have to send him some of my chocolates!

Benihana dinner with Midori, Natsumi (9-year-old birthday), Rikku; Miriam and Paul Seah, Michaela, and Johanna; and Amy and ME!

While packing, our former Supurashi neighbors, the Niiyamas, came for a visit from Japan!  It was a shame we didn’t have that much time to spend with them.  Well, we managed to squeeze in a Benihana dinner though Chris was at a Sushi place!  BUT, the upside – we will see them for at least a week while in Fukuoka in September!

In between packing, cleaning, and the moving process, there were constant interruptions, calls, and dinners to attend.  No wonder it took me so long to clean up!

After the final pack out was taken by Hercules, we still had a major mess on our hands, AND the landlady asked if we could move out earlier!  Are you getting the theme?  Anyway, I tried, but it didn’t happen, and we finally got our walk through on Aug 4th, when every last item of our’s was out of the house.  Oh, did I mention that during the time I rented a carpet cleaner from Home Depot ($20) the painters came and masked off the flooring, so I lost out on that for two days?  It wasn’t until four days later that I could clean the carpets when all that the painters and bathroom contractors cleared the stuff off the already cleaned house!  They’d left it a mess, and dumped the debris on the driveway, next to my Big Garbage Pickup Pile.

Ironically, the PA garbage men, normally SO helpful and aware, picked up JUST the good stuff we’d left out with a “FREE!” sign on the OTHER side of the driveway – and left the bagged garbage on the driveway where the garbage can was.  DUH.  Why pickup the bad stuff?  SO, the next morning the supervisor came and picked up the Right Stuff… except in our haste to help move things to the curb for them, making it OBVIOUS what was to be picked up, we forgot to move the ONE major appliance that HAD to be picked up:  an ancient washer!  Somehow, after the walk through, it disappeared with the construction and painting debris the next day.

Well, it’s a MAJOR sigh of relief to be DONE with the house, and keys turned in.  As someone once put it, “now I’m homeless.”  Well, I don’t feel that way, but we ARE living on the graces of a host family right now:  Chris’ girlfriend’s home!  While waiting for the painters one day, I received a call and invitation by Alison’s mom, Lee, to come over and meet each other.  Excellent idea!   For years, and recently months, more intensely, Chris and Alison rock climbed, car repaired, and baked gingersnaps.

Lee graciously offered to let us stay while they went camping around the northwestern US for two weeks.  It’s been one week so far, and I’m wondering where we’ll land next. Before Lee’s home, Amy was with uncle Jimmy and auntie Moria for cousin Nikki’s bday Disneyland and amusement park trip for a week.  I was sleeping at a friend’s place, her office floor.  It was a good precursor to break me in … for vagabonding.  Well, after two nights, that was enough vagabonding – at least on the floor!

SOLD! An example of our bunk bed set

The next major hurdle was selling the bunk bed desk set.  I didn’t really have to worry. Well, I just sold it this morning from an 8 am phone call.  I woke up early expecting the phone to ring like mad.  It rang once, and Ericka got the bunk bed set!  Congratulations!  (It helped to have listed it in good ol’ craigslist, and added an incentive of $25 off if they picked it up this weekend!)  The bunk set was a HUGE part in Alison’s garage, and daily reminders by Chris to get it out were taken seriously… ‘C)


Planning a RTW (round the world) trip sure does take some time and effort – but mostly at the beginning in paring down our personal possessions.  As I went through my stuff, I was able to sort what I wanted only in a few minutes.  Odd, as I thought how long I’d kept so many things that I either ended up never using again, or it wasn’t worth the storage and weight for all those years.  What other things do I tend to keep, though they really aren’t worthwhile?

On becoming lighter, and carrying less, I’m finding, too, that my stress level is less, and that THINGS don’t matter as much.  If I have to carry it, that item better be multi-functional, and darn useful!

On another note, I had asked a friend to join me (I’ve asked others, too, but most aren’t mentally capable of taking that next step: visualizing!).  She started with two large solid-sided Samsonite suitcases, and no backpack!  I asked her to try carrying those things and using only what she packed for a week.  Now she’s reported that she’s down to a backpack and a small carry-on.  In just a few days!  I’d say that’s progress.

My sister, Kathy, and her family have graciously offered to care for Amy while Chris and I traveled the year.  Her concerns were education and welfare.  Amy and I talked it over as to what would be best, and even Chris chimed in.  In the end, the decision was mainly up to Amy.  We thanked Kathy for the generous offer, and though Amy will go with us, Kathy has kept their home open should we change our plans.

We even had tested Amy as an assistant in glassblowing – she couldn’t be just ballast on our trip!  Chris said (below) that she was better at blowing than I!  So, she’s now a part of our Glass Team.  It also feels right – and good – that Amy goes with us.  If she didn’t travel with us now as she enters 5th grade, there would not be a better time “later” until after college.  As we older folks know, after college, it may never happen.

Natsumi & Amy cooking breakfast!

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