ReaderWriterVille

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Category: travel

#Onebag conference report

My first attempt to attend a professional conference in #onebag mode was a success. It made life much easier when I was to-ing and fro-ing and I didn’t wish for anything I’d left at home. I definitely think this is doable on a regular basis for a 3- or 4-day meeting.

What I took:

Photo of everything that I took to the conference, laid out on a bed.

I know it looks like quite a bit, by everything packed down very compactly. I took more than I would have if I had been traveling for pleasure because I knew I’d be seeing the same people repeatedly. They probably wouldn’t notice if I were wearing the same thing two days in a row (most of them are guys and political-science guys at that, so fashion sense is not their comparative advantage, to put it mildly), but I would have been somewhat self-conscious. So I made sure I had different looks for each day and took one dress to wear to dinners in nice restaurants (different people and restaurants so I felt fine repeating the dress).

Clothing, from right to left, bottom to top:

  • 1 black & white patterned jacket
  • 2 pairs of trousers
  • 1 sleeveless black dress
  • 1 patterned dress for evening
  • 2 silk, 1 merino short-sleeved t-shirts
  • 1 dress shirt in a slightly crepe-y cotton blend
  • 1 leather belt
  • 1 tunic-style t-shirt for sleeping
  • 3pairs underwear, 2 bras, 1 shaper, 2 handkerchiefs
  • 2 footies
  • 1 camisole with built-in bra (not pictured)
  • 1 pair casual loafer-style sneakers
  • 1 pair black nubuck sandals with a low wedge heel

Electronics:

  • Samsung Galaxy S8 phone (not pictured)
  • Battery pack
  • Nook Glowlight Plus ereader (the old aluminum model, not pictured)
  • Short charging cable with USB-C adapter
  • Samsung charger and cable
  • Wireless earbuds in charging case (not pictured)
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The National Book Festival

I abandoned the political scientists for a few hours on Saturday to visit the National Book Festival, which is sponsored by the Library of Congress. Like so many public institutions in the capital, this is free and open (and welcoming) to the public. It used to be held on the Mall in tents, but this year it moved to the Washington Convention Center.

I had late afternoon commitments but my morning and early afternoon were free, and the panel that interested me the most was at 11am. This was a discussion with Aminatta Forna, R.O. Kwon, and Valeria Luiselli. It was in the Poetry and Prose stream and titled “Fiction Through A Different Lens.” Forna turned out to be the chair so she posed the questions and didn’t read from her own work. The panel was very well attended and the discussion and readings were engaging. I got a better sense of Luiselli’s approach and it made me want to read Kwon’s novel, The Incendiaries.

Of course the big draw that day was on the main stage, where Ruth Bader Ginsburg was doing a Q&A with Nina Totenberg. One of my friends who is a judicial politics scholar wondered if she’d make it given her recent treatment for cancer but she was there and good as ever. Or so I heard. The audience to get in was huge and the seats filled up in the session which preceded hers with RBG fans.

I had thought about going because it was an interview with Richard Ford and he was receiving an award, but 15 minutes after it started it was maxed out. Poor Richard Ford. I’m sure the audience was polite but he was reduced to being the warm-up act.

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Home

Vigilant monitoring of stairs and front door.

We are back. We avoided the various storms. Still so much flooding in southern Iowa and northwestern Missouri along the river.

Normal posting will resume shortly.

On the road again

Eastbound approach to the Bay Bridge

Posting will be slightly delayed as we depart wildfire country and head toward summer storms and humidity.

Our #onebag travel experience

We did something slightly unusual on our Wales holiday: we each packed everything into one not-huge backpack and carried those packs ourselves for the entire trip. I say this is unusual because we didn’t meet anyone else doing this who wasn’t either camping or staying in hostels. The people we met in the inns and B&Bs we stayed in were having their luggage transported daily from one night’s destination to the next and using day packs on the walk itself. It’s not expensive to use a porter service (about £5/day), and our relatives who walked Hadrian’s Wall did it this way. So why didn’t we?

One answer is that we’re independent and like control: we didn’t want to have to think about where our stuff was and we had intended to make decisions on the fly. As it turned out we had every night’s lodging booked in advance, which meant we did have to get from one place to a designated next place and that didn’t factor in. A second answer was that we wanted to see if we could do a nearly two-week trip across a variety of conditions carrying everything ourselves, kind of like when we were young. We’ve downsized on a lot of our ten-day to two-week trips to a carry-on rollerboard, but those are still a bit awkward, especially on uneven pavements and cobblestones (not to mention having them drag behind in a crowded city).

I went down the #onebag hole on the internet and found subreddits devoted to the practice (r/onebag and r/heronebag). I watched YouTube videos and read blog posts. You will not be surprised to know that there is an entire community of people who are dedicated to traveling light, and thanks to the magic of the internet they’ve found each other.

Basically, if you’re willing to wash out your clothes and wear the same things repeatedly, you can #onebag it pretty easily, even in cooler weather. The main trick is to take clothes in materials that dry quickly and don’t wrinkle (or I guess you can take linen, which is wrinkly as a feature). In our case we also needed water-resistant and waterproof stuff, since we’d be outdoors every day.

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