Bits and Pieces

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Heading to Europe

As you'll know if you've been reading this blog for any length of time, for the last year or so my partner and I have been in visa exile in Bangkok, Thailand.  Unable to return to Mongolia (her home), I stole her away and settled for a while in Thailand, home of lax visa requirements and reasonably priced beer.

A little later this year, though, we'll finally have enough money to choose our home based not on price and visa requirements but our own preference, and we couldn't be more excited.  I'm from the UK and the missus used to live in Paris, so we've decided to head to Europe for six months or so to catch up with family and friends.

We won't just visit the UK and France, though.  Since my girlfriend's visa will allow her to travel to every country in Europe we're gonna take a little tour around the place.  Just recently a few of my friends have taken holidays in Javea, Spain, and they've been raving about the diving down there.  The sounds like a good place to start the summer (we're both avid divers).

After that, who knows?  We'll eventually work our way up to Paris and then head on to the UK to spend Christmas with my family, after which we'll explore the winter wonderland of Scandinavia.  I've been reading a perfect travel destinations blog post about North Cape, the northern tip of Europe, and that sounds like as good a place as any to end the trip.

So, six months in Europe and only a few destinations decided on.  Any recommendations?

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Paper Shredding Randomness

Procrastination takes many forms, but for me I've always had a solid fall back when I'm trying to avoid working on something really important: I research topics that have no real world application for me.

I wonder who else does this.   Who looks at a messy room and a basket full of dirty laundry and then turns to Wikipedia to waste two hours reading about the world's longest suspension bridges or some such trivia?  I've been doing it years, and it rarely adds up to time well spent.

Today, though, I finally used one of my 'research' bouts for something useful.  A few months ago I was trying to put off an important writing job, and I spent an entertaining couple of hours learning all about home paper shredders.  Before that day I assumed all shredders were pretty much the same - they cut your documents into fine vertical strips.  What I learned, though, is that there are many different types of paper shredders that each come in at different price points and offer varying degrees of security.

So, when I was out shopping for a shredder today I came across a smarmy salesman who tried to convince me that a cross-cut shredder was the creme de la creme of shredding technology, which justified the ridiculous price he was trying to charge me.  I live in Bangkok right now, so each shopping trip involves a lot of tiresome haggling, and it always helps to know a little about the products.

So, when I came back at the salesman with the fact that cross-cut is in fact inferior to micro-cut in the shredding world I managed to beat him down a further $30.  I went on and on about the fact that a micro cut shredder can turn a sheet of A4 paper into 12,000 pieces of fine, unreadable trash, and eventually he decided he was no match for me.

Score one for the procrastinators!
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