Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Ready to Go
With regard to the conference planning, Monday was very stressful. I received a request late last week that the post-conference Field Trip's travel agency wanted me to wire the payments that I had collected to their bank account in China. The last time we did this, I simply brought checks to China with me to make these payments. Since my university (where the money went) is not able to wire money (for reasons that are beyond my PhD to understand), I had to move the money to my personal bank account, then wire it. But, it takes a couple of days to issue a check, which then needs to be cleared, which altogether takes about a week. I decided to wire the money from my own savings to cover this time period, but the bank that those funds are in only does domestic wires -- no international wires. So, I tried to wire from that bank to another of my banks that does international wires. Because it had been so long since I had done such a wire, the instructions had changed and I did not find out until Monday that the wire did not work. However, on Monday my university issued a check and my long-time local bank decided to clear it instantly (at my request), and I then issued the wire instructions, and crossed my fingers! To the best of my knowledge, the wire went through on Tuesday, in time for our departure on Thursday. There were other complications, having to do with my new fax machine, not bringing the right papers to the bank, and other things that further made Monday a day to forget!
The rest of the conference planning is going well enough. I have sent spreadsheets of room assignments, conference payments, field trip payments, and participant arrival and departure information (for hotel transfers). Most of these had a couple of gaps because of the late date that some people are arranging their flights. Those gaps are almost filled as of today.
On an even more positive note, I got myself a new camera for Father Day, and for this trip. After much online research, and influenced by what was available and on sale in Flagstaff (which is a bit limiting), I ended up getting the Olympus C7000z. I was able to get it at the best price that I could find online, though it was still expensive. The C7000 is very compact (pocketable), which is important to me, and has some amazing manual and other features for an old camera-head like me. (I worked with a professional photographer in high school and sold pre-digital cameras as an undergrad in Hawaii.) I really wanted a camera with a wide angle lense (32mm or less), but none of the compact cameras that have that seem to be very good, yet. The C7000 has a built-in panorama mode, which I will use for my wide-angle desires.
The one thing that confounded me was the variation in camera reviews on different websites. Most of the websites that I consulted rated this camera very highly in almost all area. One (Cnet.com), however, rated it only OK, based on very different test results from what the other sites found in their studies! I learned long ago to take Consumer Reports' (who I fully support for their non-profit approach) findings with a grain of salt. It is now apparent to me that the meticulous tests that camera review website's run also demonstrate great variability from one tested camera to the next.
For Singapore, our first stop, we have three dinners already set up with friends for our week-long stay there. I have a feeling that all we are going to do is eat the whole time we are there -- which isn't a bad thing since I, personally, consider the food in Singapore to be the best in the world!!