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.
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
Since I've started this, why not a complete inventory?
My travel List:In addition to the Sporan, a small red leather bag containing
Plus of course, always on my keychain:
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