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small red square Just like my 1994 European adventure, I'll be abroad this time during Election Day, so at lunch I made the scene at the Santa Clara County Voting Registrar office in San Jose, to do an absentee ballot. In effect I got to vote early, just like four years ago. Then it was in Arlington County, Virginia, where they have high-tech voting machines, with little red & green lights which have some function, I forget exactly what - in that election the objective was to make Ollie North lose his bid for senator. This time it's to get our fascist top cop, Attorney General Dan Lundgren, off the public payroll - he wants to be Governor! The Democrat choice is far more palatable - I voted straight Libertarian except for him. The other hot button voting issue was local - a choice put to my community about fluoridating the tap water - can you believe there's still those who oppose, that there's still communities which don't? Ridiculous. (How much tap water do Californians consume, anyway? Not much...) So once again I voted Cal-style, in our low-tech method - you're issued a long folded strip of paper, color-coded to your Party, one half of which is a familiar Hollerith punch card, which is slid into a small rack-gizmo with folding metal pages and a short chain with small punching tool attached. The metal pages just have columns of numbers, which correspond to the choices in the Sample Ballot which is mailed to each voter (I brought mine along, naturally - it's essential). As you turn each metal page, the perforated punch-guide slides to the right, moving down a row on the punch card. So you stand there in the flimsy little booth, flipping through the book and the metal pages, running the punch down and pushing it into the numbers you want. When finished you insert your ballot into a box - or if you're an absentee you put it into an envelope, and sign & seal it; then leave, feeling virtuous.

small cyan square By now the "night before" travel prep is routine. Since this trip is international, I go through my small stash of foreign coins, extracting those from (in this case) Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Austria. Upon my return, it will be replenished with a new set of different ones. The tally? Dutch 2.75fl, 5.10 DM, 10.60 schillings Austrian and 6.25 Swiss francs, which I pour into the coin pouch of my travel wallet, augmenting the 80 DM (3 tens and a fifty), a ten Swiss Francs note, Dutch hundred guilders note, Austrian fifty schillings note (bearing the scowling visage of Sigmund Freud), several U.S. and Canadian bills of various denominations, a ¥500 note and the wad of AmEx traveler's checks. Also present are several credit and frequent flyer cards, plane ticket and passport, and my "little black book". The travel wallet goes into my Sporan (an over-the-shoulder pouch - okay, it's my purse) with

  • book for airplane
  • asthma inhaler
  • Power Bar, toothpicks, small tin of aspirin
  • monocular and a teeny compass
During local walkabouts, after a hotel is secured, the Sporan is deployed - the travel wallet is locked into my backpack and replaced with a map and my camera.

Since I've started this, why not a complete inventory?

My travel List:

In addition to the Sporan, a small red leather bag containing
  • razor
  • comb
  • toothbrush, paste & floss
  • braided travel clothesline
  • shampoo flask (hotel size) <1>
  • pencil sharpener
  • pencils and a big black felt-tip marker
  • 8 mm wrench (for WC window on the train)
  • sink stopper
  • small padlock
  • Sewing Kit with flat one-piece Japanese hasami scissors
  • small brown plastic Dristan bottle of assorted headache pills
  • band-aides and other misc. for first aid
  • Ventolin and Azmacort (asthma medications)
  • Fasteners: gluestick, straight & safety pins, roll of tape
  • Chap Stick
  • Spare glasses (the "Buddy Holly"s)
  • Torch (AAA-sized Maglite)
  • one T-shirt
  • two long-sleeved shirts (a button-down and a plaid flannel)
  • four pairs of socks
  • black Lands' End pseudo-Dockers and black Levis
  • three pairs underwear (Jockey briefs)
  • flat cap
  • scarf
  • gloves
  • sweater
  • trenchcoat (with lining)
  • running shoes (the more rugged Pumas)
  • boots (the old pair; their last journey)
  • flip-flops
  • one belt, with my trademark chrome-plated buckle <2>
  • half-towel (just in case)
(some of this I'm wearing)


  • Collapsing umbrella
  • large vitamin bottle full of detergent, inside folded-up dirty-clothes bag
  • Camera (35mm point & shoot automatic) & 3 more rolls of 400 film
  • Manila envelope containing maps & various papers (flat now, will fill up to bulging with various ephemera acquired en route)
  • AM/FM/SW Sangean radio with alarm clock
  • Books: Deutsch/English dictionary, small German phrasebook and Slovenia, (both by Lonely Planet), two more novels, and a pocket logbook
  • two floppies: one Windows, one Mac (hopefully useful in cybercafes)
  • bed sheet (since often all one gets is a too-warm down comforter)
  • plastic spring water bottle
It all goes into my Eagle Creek "Solo Journey" travel pack (an internal-frame backpack with a side handle whose straps can be tucked away), which (according to Doug Dyment in his Compleat Carry-On Traveler) is an excellent model, international carry-on size, but no longer made.

Plus of course, always on my keychain:

  • nail clipper
  • Swiss Army Knife (model: "Tinker")
And that's all - the shipping manifest of the portable Rasch.

small yellow square Entries from now until mid-November will be sporadic. I shall endeavor to post one now and again; I'm going to try doing them from European cybercafés, but opportunities may be limited so that may prove to be impractical. I leave tomorrow morning - with the plane-change in Chicago it'll be an extremely long flight... I'm still finding it difficult to believe I'll be in Europe soon! Check back in a week or so, I hope to tell you how it's going.

DM - Deutsch Mark
WC - water closet
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<1> Damn - where is it? Left behind at the last port of call, I guess - so I substitute a "travel-size" (actually twice as big)

<2> Removed just before the security-checkpoint metal detector, and slipped into the carry-on with the keychain