camcorder.jpg My last tool for the trip arrived the other day...well I use the word "arrive" in the loosest possible way. Anyway, I ordered a Panasonic camcorder a while back and waited anxiously for it to arrive from New Jersey. A little tip, though they may have good prices (I got my camcorder for $200 off MSRP) JustSayElectronics aren't very good. Their customer service was lousy, they couldn't figure out how to process a credit card and their interaction with UPS (who I might add, are my new favorite company) was shameful. Not a positive buying experience.Anyway the camcorder was due to arrive on Monday but I missed the UPS guy despite Andrew's best efforts to chase him in the CRV. Now usually UPS leaves the package on the doorstep which is cool because I don't have to be home and I don't have to leave a note. But my package required a signature which the vendor is supposed to tell me....but they didn' I didn't leave a note for UPS. Anyway, after talking to UPS, they said I could go pick up my package or wait til the next day and they'll redeliver. I opted to go pick it up. So Andrew and I drove to Stockton (wow) and picked it up. I was fully expecting to open the box and find a bunch of rocks. But to my pleasant surprise, there lay a new camcorder...and it worked! So now I should be able to preserve some of the memories that a camera might not be able to do justice. I only wish I had it in time for Fleet Week :)


camera.jpg My first "tool" for the trip arrived yesterday - a new digital camera. A Nikon Coolpix 4300 to be exact. It's sweet. 4 megapixels, nice big LCD, etc.I played around with it last night when I got it and it has some impressive features. I think coolest of which are the 12 scene modes; you select the appropriate "scene" e.g. portrait, night landscape, beach, fireworks display etc and the camera automatically sets everything up perfectly for the shot. I tested it last night and WOW. It's going to be great for Hong Kong where we'll encounter a lot of differences in lighting.It also has a 3x zoom lens on it, so it actually zooms instead of just enlarging the image. But one of the reasons why I chose this camera is the fact that you can use standard zoom lenses on it. So I can slap on a giganto-lens and get some great close ups. Should be good for the Safari Parks in South Africa. Though I will still be taking some lessons from Mike after seeing the unbelievable photos he snapped during his recent trip to Europe. I also had a pretty good experience buying it as well. I, believe it or not, am not the kind of person that jumps into buying something like that willy nilly. I research it until my eyes hurt from reading the interweb review sites. My primary source of tech reviews is Their reviews, coupled with the user opinions they have, can often make or break a deal for me. Their review of the 4300 was positive as were the user opinions. So now all I had to do was find a place to buy it. Cue - if you EVER buy anything online, be it on ebay or direct from the site, run the vendor through, I promise it will save you a lot of potential pain and suffering. Anyway, I eventually found a vendor that had the camera for a good price ($100 below retail) and they had a GREAT rating on so I placed my order with eWiz. I ordered my camera on Friday afternoon; I didn't expect them to even look at the order until Monday. However when I realized that they were a fairly local company, I called them on Monday to see if I could pick up my camera to save the shipping cost. Granted it did take a while to get through, but when I asked if I could come pick up the camera they said "Uhhh sir, the camera is already at your house." And it was. The camera was on my doorstep by noon on Monday. Sweet. So I was pleased with that online buying experience. I think the camera will be very useful on our trip, so you may be overwhelmed by the number of pics I post!

Michael Palin, eat your heart out

It's official - I received our e-ticket receipt today for our plane tickets. It's quite a journey, let me tell ya!We leave SFO very late on Thursday 10/23 and fly to Hong Kong on Cathay. We arrive on Saturday 10/25 (damn International Dateline) at about 6:30am. Then we're in HKG for essentially 5 days; it's only three nights but like I said, we arrive really early in the morning and our flight to South Africa leaves at 11:45pm so that really gives us two full days extra. The flight to HKG is about 14 hours, depending on the season. I'm hoping it's not that long. I've done flights that have lasted 14 hours and they suck. Even if you sleep for 8 hours (which no one ever does) you still have 6 hours to go. But hey, at least we get good movies! Hollywood Homicide, Terminator 3, Possession, The Matrix Reloaded, and The Quiet American, plus whatever I have on the laptop. Hong Kong to Johannesburg is a flight I've never done before. The only flight I've done in that direction was Hong Kong to Colombo, Sri Lanka but that was via Bangkok. HKG to JNB is about 12 hours, a duration of flight I'm very used to; that's what we did about 8 times a year between Hong Kong and London when were at school. So I guess that shouldn't be too bad. On that leg we have some pretty good movies too; The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Charlie