This week I've been working on getting my stuff ready to move out to California.
It's all the books I'm shipping that really cause the trouble. I've got way too many. Last week I made up a catalogue of them, with ISBN, author, and title, and then I wrote up a script to go out to amazon and fetch the prices automatically based on the ISBN. The latter was partly for amusement value and partly so I'd know how much to insure them for. I also wrote up a script to print up packing lists and shipping labels based on the catalogue.
As it turns out, I have 117 technical books, and to replace all of them with new copies it would cost approximately $5600 before taxes or shipping. Damn, that's lots of money. It looks like I'm going to be shipping them in 9 or 10 relatively small boxes, carefully packed with new bubble wrap and reused styrofoam peanuts.
My computer stuff also needs to be shipped. I'm going to take my laptop as carry-on, also my DDS-3 tape drive and a collection of tapes for paranoia's sake. I went to CompUSA today and bought a PCMCIA SCSI adapter so that I could use the tape drive while my docking station is in transit. I was a little worried about whether it would work in Linux but I just recompiled the kernel with support, edited a configuration file, rebooted, and, poof!, it Just Works(tm). I can even hot-plug it. Ah, the miracles of modern kernels. So now I know that I won't be able to lose more than 24 hours of files even my laptop is destroyed, because I'll always be able to drop back to the latest tape.
After I got the SCSI adapter set up, I took the docking station and the printer to Mailboxes Etc. to get them professionally packed. These'd cost me at least $1500 to properly replace so I'm going to get it done right. Besides, UPS owns Mailboxes Etc. so they can't very well not honor a damage claim against something that they packed themselves. I expected two boxes, one for each device, but instead they packed them into one giant mega-box, a cube 26 inches on a side (that's 17576 cubic inches or 288 liters according to Emacs' handy calc-mode). It cost only $15 to pack but will be over $100 to ship according to them. Oh well, I didn't expect it to be cheap.
I hope that the air travel difficulties will be mostly over by the 20th. I briefly considered driving instead, but it's just not practical. I'm still very scared of the idea of flying in the wake of Tuesday's disaster, but as my fencing coach Dale told me, not flying is ``Exactly what the terrorists want you to do. My personal belief is never give the bastards what they want.'' Then again he's an incredibly dangerous person armed or unarmed; I'd feel much safer if he were a fellow passenger, and any potential hijackers would be in big trouble.
A suggestion for everyone to wear a black armband at RenFest this weekend has been passed around via email. I've decided to go one step further and wear only black. It's not actually a big change for me, because the only non-black item I was wearing was a red shirt anyhow. Today I found a decent black shirt at a thrift store (``Family Dollar'') for $6. It had a rather non-period looking collar but I managed to remove that when I got it home by carefully and painstakingly cutting out the stitches that held it on. It should look okay, although I'd prefer if it had long sleeves.
I sent a $100 check to the Red Cross this morning. I was going to donate blood until I read about the long, long lines everywhere in articles on the net. I don't even know what my blood type is, for that matter, and I've heard that in some places they're refusing anything but O until the rush is over. Donating blood scares me, too, and I've never done it before. Maybe I'll try next week, after the rush is over. I hope the money helps, because I'm not sure I can really afford to give as much as I did (I have less than $1000 in the bank right now). I don't even get a tax deduction off it because my itemized deductions are always less than the standard deduction.
In another week—on the 20th—I'm off for Stanford! It's so exciting. I can hardly believe it right now. I hope it's worth all the trouble.