Dear Amazon,

I do not like the change to the way your Recommendations work. It’s not a New Release until it’s actually been released; that’s what “new release” means. Please quit recommending books that I won’t be able to read for months and months.

It was much better before, when you had “new releases” and “coming soon” listed separately; the new system offers less information rather than more, and just looks like an attempt to trick me into pre-ordering so you get my money sooner. Believe me, you get enough of my income already!

(This change actually annoys me enough that I sent the above note to Amazon directly, in addition to posting it here. It’s like seeing candy on a table, and then realizing that you can’t eat any because what you see is only a model of candy that will be issued at some future time. To be fair, this seems to be only in the front page of recs; if you click “See All Recommendations” it goes back to the old way, with new and future releases separated.)


I think I may have finally given up on my hair delusions. You know, that’s the belief that there exists some magic perfect hairstyle that if I could only find it, would make me stunningly beautiful with no extra effort. At least, I seem to be having fewer urges to either grow my hair out longer or cut it all off. This length is long enough to put up when I want, short enough enough not to get caught in car windows, and reasonably flattering. (You can see the length pretty well here, here, or here.)

The problem is that I still have retail delusions: the idea that there’s some product I could buy that would make my life or at least some aspect of it much better. At the moment, with all the travel I’ve been doing, I keep looking at bags from Tom Bihn. This is not particularly helped by all the Bihnheads and ultralight packers who keep saying in so many words that the right bag will revolutionize my life during travel.

Thing is, despite all they say I don’t actually have a problem with my rolling suitcase. For Japan I’ll take a small rolling carry-on from Samsonite, plus a computer bag – I don’t have any problem carrying that bag up and down stairs, taking it on trains or putting it in the overhead bin. We do have an Aeronaut, and I keep wondering if I’d be better off with that – but if I still take my laptop case, then I’m stuck hauling around two backpacks, and if I don’t then I still need something to carry my computer (and power supply and phones and wallet) to and from work every day. Someone suggested a folding bag like these, which might work if I had one big enough. In fact I have a freebie in the same style from Celebrity, and I’m going to check if fits my laptop and if its logo is small enough that I’m willing to carry it. The other thing I’m wondering with the Aeronaut is if it will be comfortable to carry. It’s humid and hot in Yokkaichi, and it might not feel that great to have a large backpack against my skin.

Of course another possibility would be to buy a different bag, that has enough room for my clothing but that’s small enough not to look completely silly as a laptop bag (like this, for instance.) But I don’t really want to be an ultralight packer; I’ve heard stories of people taking two pair of pants for a month-long trip, and I simply don’t want to do that. Even if I brought washable ones and did laundry (and really, neither washing trousers in a hotel sink nor finding a laundromat in Yokkaichi sound attractive) I just don’t like wearing the same thing that many things in a row. My colleagues might not care, but I would. I’m not opposed to wearing things a couple of times on a trip, but I have limits! Also, I do not want to wear the clothing I wear on the plane to work, because I’m already wearing it for 23 hours of travel, each way.

My current packing list includes two pair of lightweight wool trousers, one knit dress, probably two button-down shirts and a light sweater or other blouse, a skirt with hidden shorts that can be worn for work or casual, a couple plain fine-knit t-shirts ditto, one pair or reasonable comfortable shoes for work, one pair of extremely comfortable shoes for travel and weekends, a pair of shorts, toiletries, iPad, Kindle, iPhone, work Phone, laptop, chargers for the last four items, plug converters, and my knitting. I don’t think that’s too bad for a 10-day business trip. It would probably all fit easily into the Aeronaut, except possibly for the laptop. Oh: I will also take a fleece or jacket to wear on the plane (and possibly to the plane, given the predictions for Saturday’s weather) and an umbrella.

Still, I think probably a better strategy is going to be to take the bags that have been working for me and just try to stay away from the websites selling me more stuff.