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Hello from Tulsa
July 12, 2009 01:40
As probably two of you know, I'm currently in Tulsa for the weekend, attending the Tokyo In Tulsa anime convention. This makes the second anime convention I've attended as a registered attendee, not including when I crashed a cosplay competition at A-kon back in 1999, but I was just there to pick someone up, so that didn't really count. Of course, despite being a family trip, this event is really for Marjorie and the friends she chooses to drag along with her. That's not to say that Gertie and I haven't been having plenty of fun on our own on this mini vacation of ours, even though we're not quite the anime fans that Marjorie is.
I've never been much a fan of travelling. It always seems like a lot more trouble than it's worth, and I've tried to make this event as smooth as possible, not only to make it easier on us, but also to make it more fun. While I haven't been entirely successful in that regard, I can at least say that the experience has been very educational for me, and I plan to apply what I have learned toward the next trip we take.
First off, planning ahead is VITAL. Despite that fact that I personally have a tendandy to procrastinate, group procrastination tends to be th eultimate exersize in futility. Therefore, next time, I'm going to try to make the following changes to our planning schedule. First, there's going to BE a planning schedule. No less than 2 weeks in advance, we're going to sit down and decide EXACTLY where we're going, who's going, what we're taking, how much it's going to cost, and what needs to be accomplished prior to leaving. That's not to say that planning starts at the 2 week mark, only that all decisions at that point are final. From that point on, we're just packing. The day before we leave is not the opportunity to come up with 6 new projects. Those projects, will have all been decided at the 2 week point, and will have been accomplished prior to the last day. The last day is just to confirm everything is packed, and everyone is ready to go. Best of all, everyone gets a good nights sleep.
How about things to take with us. First off, the computer. I decided to lug a tower case and monitor instead of a laptop. I don't regret that decision in the slightest. Laptops are annoying, hard to type on, fragile, expensive, and easily stolen, not to mention targeted for theft. The downside is that they're heavy and can't easily be carried in one trip by one person. My plan for the next trip is to make THAT possible. A carrying case with wheels designed to carry the computer, even if I have to build it, would be ideal for hauling it around. As for internet access, I originally intended to use the hotel's internet connection. This has been, somewhat less than ideal. In fact, I refer to it as... the new definition of suck.
I was informed that the hotel had both wired and wireless internet access. Ok, so computer, network card, network cable, all set! I get here, there are no ethernet ports. So I go inquire at the front desk, no big deal, what they do to provide wired service is to provide a wireless bridge. Great in theory, assuming of course that the wireless network is reliable in the slighest. I DO get it working, and it works moderately well for the first 20 minutes or so, although the speed at best could be considered "high-speed dialup". That would have been fine, except after that first 20 minutes, I was unable to maintain a connection. After messing with it for the better part of a day, I finally gave up on it. I moved onto plan B.
I have a Blackjack II cellphone. It's not a great cellphone. It runs windows, and I therefore happen to be the happy owner of a phone that CAN crash when it rings. However, it has tethering capability. Before I left, I investigated about using the phone on the computer I was planning to take, but I couldn't get the software to install on it, and what little last minute (see... planning ahead is important) research made the solution seem more complicated than I wanted to deal with, so I didn't do any further research on it prior to leaving. However, after suffering with the hotel's internet connection, I decided it was worth the effort afterall. It turned out to be a very simple solution to getting it working, and once it was, I realized that using my cellphone had two distinct advantages over the hotel's network. First off, it's more reliable. In fact, except when I pull the cellphone off to take it with me, the connection hasn't dropped at all. The second fun feature is that it's faster. That's..... very sad. But at least I know now that I can always use the phone as a reliable, reasonablly fast internet connection anytime I'm in a 3G wireless area.
Other things to bring: Drinks! $2 per 20oz bottle is rediculous. So, previously purchased bottles and cups will be a required addition next time. Ice, at least, is still free. :) It might also be a good idea to put together a universal travel bag that has all of the must-have stuff. Toothbrushes, toothpaste, comb, brush, hairspray, sewing kit, deoderant, various female products, medicine, saline, and a minimal amount of makeup. That way, the bag can be grabbed when we leave, and can supplement the normal stuff we always bring, and if necessary, any forgotten items will be covered.
I will likely compose this into a more expanded guide, "Restil's guide to travelling for geeks on a limited budget" or something equally pointless.