May 2011

In the vicinity of Mesopotamia

Working in Kuwait. Blogging from the eee (running puppeee BTW).

Flew out of Cape Town on Saturday with 90kg of equipment. Between three of us, with a few items of clothing added, and after weighing the carry-on (which was about 5kg less than the allowed 21kg for three people) and subtracting that, we were 10kg overweight, for R3000.

That’s a lot cheaper than couriering the stuff

Plane left at 1800 or so so we got supper. Then at 0100 SA time they woke us up for breakfast, because we were about to land in Dubai.

Dubai International reminded me of that scene in Men in Black. If you know the movie you’ll know which scene I’m referring to.

After a few hours got on another plane for the short (< 2 hour) flight to Kuwait, and we got fed again.

So I’m not hungry.

Worked in 36 degree heat (OK, I lie, they do have aircon but outside is… interesting) from about 11 to about 5. Apparently 36 is a nice day and it occasionally hits 60+. Thanks but no thanks.

Fellow driving us around had to fill up. R1.30 a litre. That’s not quite one tenth of what we pay back home, but it’s not far off. He couldn’t get four Dinar (R100) into a bone dry Dodge Charger…

Now sampling alcohol free beer, trying to determine which is best (Insert joke about the  tallest midget competition here).

Internet is also interesting. I can receive mail but I can’t send. I know neither of my mail servers will tell me “Connection refused” when I try to telnet into the SMTP port, so I guess it’s blocked. MSN also doesn’t work. IRC does, but I want to chat to my wife not #GBC.

(Incidentally, here’s a picture for the #GBC guys)

So apologie to all of y’all (if there’s more than three of all of y’all) iff’n you get bored being cc’ed on sitreps to home.


Airlines in American are mercenary. And I say this with respect. They will sell you a cheap ticket and for that you get the flight and that’s it. If you want to take your luggage… …  that’s extra.

But it means I can save money by taking less luggage, and I’m cool with that.

Carry on (free)

Virgin (San Francisco to Las Vegas) : One bag (127cm H+W+D, 7kg) + one personal item (handbag, coat, camera, laptop)

Delta (Salt Lake City to New Orleans) : One bag (56 x 36 x 23 cm) + one personal item (purse, briefcase, camera bag, laptop)

AirTran (New Orleans to Atlanta to Orlando) : One bag (60 x 45 x 33 cm) + one personal item (43 x 30 x 21cm)


Virgin: 157cm H+W+D, 30kg, $25

Delta: 153cm H+W+D, 23kg, $25

AirTran: 155cm H+W+D, 50lbs (22.7kg), $20

So my current thinking is that we can get away with one carry-on each, and two checked bags, one of which will be a soft bag holding the camping gear that I bought online and had shipped to Los Angeles. Once we’re done camping it might pay to mail the camping stuff home separately… dunno.

Update 2011-05-14: We ended up buying three Roncato Runner 50cm Carry-On bags (in three different colours) from Luggage Warehouse. Inexpensive, smaller than the most restrictive dimensions (Delta), smooth wheels, not too bad zips. I’ll be carrying my Caterpillar notebook rucksack, and we have a few standard suitcases. I probably still need a soft bag for the camping gear, one that can go inside the main luggage when not used.

Rental cars

When I was in Dallas in 2005 I saw the then new Mustang. When I started browsing rental cars (about two years ago, because we wanted to go last year already) I saw that Hertz offered the convertible Mustang, and I was in lust.

Hertz’ web site made it clear that I’d be lucky to actually get the Mustang, the convertible of choice was the Sebring. I booked one in any case. Well, the new line up is out, and I now have a booking for a Eclipse Spyder for the low price of $413… not bad, but while two adults and two kids will fit in the ‘stangI don’t think I can fit four people in an Eclipse Spyder. And because it’s now so much closer to the date, even a Camry will now cost me $860. Bastards.

Fox has a slightly tarnished reputation*, but… they also have the Mustang.

<– Is dit nie fokkin cool nie huh?


Decisions decisions… although trunk space is a concern.

Fox only has a few locations for returning the car — while I can drop of a Hertz rental in the middle of San Francisco I will have to drop the Fox rental at the airport. This is either a pain in the arse or a blessing — if I keep the car while we’re in San Francisco, I have to pay for parking ($20/24 hours), but we won’t need to pay for transport ($8/head Powell Street to SFO on BART, one way) to town after drop-off and back  to the airport when we leave — that more than breaks even IMO.

* Two stars on Yelp, while Avis and Hertz have three. National has five starts, but wants $1600 for the week.

USA Trip 2011

One of the first things Tanya told me after we met is that she wants to go to Disney World. Well, the time has come (we wanted to do it last year this time but the FIFA world cup pushed airfare prices through the roof).

Tickets are booked, we’re flying out on the 15th of June and returning on the 9th of July. Our itinerary is explained in detail in the page linked at the top rightit’s password protected to foil stalkers or something.

Brief outline: San Diego, rent-a-car to Los Angeles and San Francisco, then fly to Las Vegas, rent-a-car to the Grand Canyon and up to Ogden and Yellowstone. Fly to New Orleans for a brief visit, then the dreaded Disney to extract what money we might have left from our pocketbooks.

We’ll be staying in hotels, with friends, and camping. We’ll be seeing museums and zoos and geysers and wildlife and cemeteries and talking meese. Jessica is hoping to meet up with a famous author whose work we might one day see on TV, but only if his crazy schedule coincides with ours. We’ll be blogging along the way, I have an EEE running puppee, Tanya has a Dell 910, Jessica has an Acer Aspire One (now running XP) and Tamsyn has an EEE running XP. Tanya has a new camera, and memsticks and CF cards are on order.

It’s going to be hectic.

XP on an Acer Aspire One

A while ago we bought Jessica an Acer Aspire One running Linux (this is the cheaper option, the XP ones were about double the price at the time).

She got tired of that and asked me to install Windows XP.

I tried following the tutorial , which involve putting XP on a memstick, but I gave up on that, borrowed the external USB CD drive from work, and installed from the CD. That worked well.

You’ll need to download the drivers here.

(I also tried installing Windows 2000 on my eeepc (I hate XP) but that didn’t work so well, so I’m running puppeee now).

I am not worthy

Between my brother and myself we have five and a half pinball machines.

This fellow has around 700.

In addition to collecting and restoring pinball games, Conger […] owns 15 classic cars (none of them running) and has a collection of more than a thousand nonadjustable wrenches. And somehow he still finds the time to be married.

(emphasis mine, of course :-)

Gorgeous eye candy. Thanks Roland.