Electronic Design

What's All This Floobydust Stuff, Anyhow? (Part 13)

When I go on a plane trip, I carry a mid-size, self-addressed, padded envelope in my briefcase—about 7 by 9 in.—along with five 37-cent stamps and some suitable stickers or tape for sealing it up. Why? Because I might forget to put my jack-knife or diagonal nippers in my checked baggage. The other day, I went through security and the bright-eyed X-ray technician found a pair of nippers I had not seen in a long time. Fortunately, I had time to throw the nippers in the envelope, mail it back to my house, and still make the plane with plenty of time to spare. Because I was prepared, it only took a couple of minutes. If you ever carry a jack-knife or sharp tools that might be confiscated—in your pockets or briefcase—bring a big envelope with stamps.

Or if another person forgets, you can sell him this envelope for a couple of bucks to save him from having his favorite knife confiscated. Of course, you have to figure out some way for him to contact you, after the trip, to get the knife from your house to his!

I have a good reminder to prevent me from forgetting to put my knife or nippers in my checked baggage: I keep my old baggage tags on my suitcase until I have stowed my knife. When the airline person at the desk tries to remove those tags, I realize that I may have forgotten to stow my knife.

The other day, my wife recommended that I try some new hiking sox. The last time she told me to do that, in 1989, she recommended her favorite heavy wool hiking sox. They gave me bad blisters. I should have known better. Fortunately, after I went back to my normal sox, the blisters healed before the end of the trek. I should have never started out against the rule of "Dance with the girl that brung ya."

My normal hiking sox system is a pair of light nylon-cotton sox on my feet and some heavy wool sox over that. So this time, I got smart. I put on my light nylon sox on both feet. Then I put one of my normal old heavy wool hiking sox on my left foot, and one of her new sox (Bridgedale Trekker, about $10/pair, Factory Seconds at Sierra Trading Post) on my right foot. To no great surprise, her new sock was a little more comfortable. If I were skeptical, I would try it again with the new sock on my left foot. But my feet are symmetrical, and a 1-dB improvement is believable.

The other part of my hiking system is my Vasque Gore-Tex Expedition boots (~$175, and worth it). And when I'm on a trek, I sprinkle about 1/3 teaspoon of baking soda into each boot, every day, to help keep them smelling good. Important!

A couple of times I have had to meet a guy at a Japanese railroad station on a tight and important schedule. Sometimes I go there to check it out, a day ahead—and THERE IS NO SUCH PLACE, as described! If I did not invent a better rendezvous, I would miss a train and an important business trip. Awful! I mean, "Meet you at the McDonald's near the Marunouchi entrance to Tokyo Station" may not describe a unique place.

So I invented a new rendezvous that works well in Japan because it defines a unique place. If we're going to take the train on any line, we will just say something like: "I will meet you at the north end of the platform for the NORTH-bound trains on the CHUO-line (heading toward Shinjuku) at Tokyo station."

Now at any time, there may easily be 80,000 people in the Tokyo station. But very few dozens of people are at the platform for northbound trains, on the Chuo line, and only a few are at the north end of the platform!

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