The skies are cloudy in Los Angeles this morning and it looks like it might even rain…which I take as a sign that I should move ahead with my plan to try to manipulate 15 lbs. of baggage in such a way as to avoid getting hit with another overweight baggage fee. The key to that plan is wearing my duster, which is currently packed in my large wheeled REI bag. The downside to that is sweating more, but my REI pack came in at 51.5 pounds and didn’t get fined, so if I can get a few pounds out of it, I can move a few back in. My rolling toolbox was 65 lbs. I need to move as close to 15 lbs. as I can get into my carry-ons and my REI bag, without sending the REI bag over…or destroying anything. My backpack has already suffered one zipper failure, and my REI bag lost a compression strap somewhere between Durango and LA—ripped right off somewhere in the baggage handling machinery. Then there is my archaeology kit, the custom made PVC folding kit that slips into the back of my cave pack. I could put that into my cave pack with my climbing gear-but if I did I would have to take out all the pointy stuff--the trowels and the pick—and leave them loose in the toolbox, where they might puncture stuff. I’m not sure why I brought those items anyway, since I won’t be doing any excavating. But I would feel naked in the field without them though. What’s a dirt archaeologist without a Marshalltown trowel? I spend most of my time being a library archaeologist, now that I am actually going to get dirty (more like muddy), I want to do it all the way.
OK, done. Wearing duster. Boots and binders relocated. Archaeo kit remains in toolbox. Carry-ons now weigh more than checked bags, and l look like the 21st Century caving angel of the apocalypse, wandered in from the desert with my long, dark, desert-worn overcoat, my caving pack and helmet over my shoulder, and my laptop case on my back.
And there’s something I did forget—the cable to connect my IPod to my laptop…
All this travel minutiae is of course an excellent diversion from brooding over how badly I miss my family. I had forgotten how bad it is to separate from them this long. As the clock ticked down on my departure, MY separation anxiety got worse and worse. As for the girls, they are probably alright. Actually, I really hope they are, even though I am like the dad in this dialogue on McSweeney’s:
This was new on Monday, and I printed it out and gave it Age to read before I left for the airport.
When I went to Rapa Nui for the first time in 2002, with the University of Hawai’i Archaeological Field School, I was saying goodbye to my family outside the single gate in the Farmington Airport. All the other passengers had already gone into the little gate room, although it’s just right there past the checkpoint, so they could still see me hugging my daughters and getting ready to cry or something like a huge wuss. Just then, a nervous security guard started shouting, “We’ve got a bag that’s buzzing! We’ve got a bag that’s buzzing! The name on it is Mick-o-lang!”
I was dragged into security without being able to even finish my goodbyes, apparently suspected for the smuggling of killer bees. This was 2002, remember. The National Guard were still assigned to some airports.
I was made to remove everything that could be decently removed in front of the other passengers, and they began to search my checked bag. A small screwdriver drew some attention, and I had to remind the zealot that it was in my checked bag. He consulted with his supervisor. Then he reached into the little duffel inside the checked bag into which I had packed all the odds and ends. Triumphantly, he held up a bulky object and shouted, “Ohmigod, what’s this!”
What is was, was a conglomeration of battery chargers and foreign voltage adapters and such that I had duct-taped into a single mass for some idiotic reason. With the batteries on the outside. Even to me, it looked like a bomb.
In my super-calm hostage negotiator voice, I explained that what it was, and that it was all “from Radio Shack”. In retrospect, I guess you can probably make a pretty good bomb with stuff from Radio Shack.
Eventually it turned out that the buzzing was coming from my beard trimmer, in which I had foolishly left the batteries. I don’t do that anymore. Ironically, I had brought it because someone had told me that my beard made me look “like a terrorist”, and I wanted to be able to shave it off again after I let it regrow on Rapa Nui, which I did. I had already shaved it off for the outward journey.
Of course, all that held up the flight almost half an hour, and the other passengers just glared at me throughout the flight. Fortunately, it was only to Phoenix…
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