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JOURNAL: Shopping for Backpacks, Microphones, Computers

Submitted by on July 31, 2019 – 10:17 am
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Wednesday, July 31, 2019
8:00 a.m. Room 4, Natalia Guest House
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

In keeping with the sleeping and dream theme of yesterday’s “entry”, I should start by saying that I slept okay. I didn’t sleep as well as that first night with my new pillow, but I got some good sleep, and at least I don’t feel exhausted.

It’s interesting that I use clues to figure out whether I got enough sleep or not. In the morning when I get out of bed, I often don’t know if I’m rested or not right away. I generally feel exhausted all the time, so there isn’t much difference between getting enough sleep or not. I often get out of bed because it is morning, and then I’ll go take a shower and get ready and then I make a cup of coffee and sit down at my computer. And suddenly I realize that I’m exhausted and I should have stayed in bed for another few hours.

But there are clues to figure out if I’ve actually recharged my brain and body or not. For one thing, I can see if there is any sand in my eyes. There often isn’t, and that means that I didn’t get much REM sleep, which means I didn’t dream, which means my brain didn’t recharge. As everyone knows, when you enter REM sleep, your eyes move back and forth rapidly, and I think this helps clean your eyes. And the more REM sleep you get, the more dirt gets cleaned from your eyes, and this all ends up in the corners of your eyes as the sand from the sandman. If there is lots of sand in my eye, I always feel happy because it means I got enough sleep.

The other clue is if I feel the urge to stretch – like a cat getting up off the floor. I usually don’t, and that’s a sign that I didn’t sleep enough. On the rare occasions when I do sleep well, I feel the urge to stretch while I’m lying in bed, and it feels so good. I’m so happy when I have that feeling.

Finally, if I wake up with a strong and intense dream still in my short term memory, I know that I got some good sleep. If I get out of bed, and I don’t have a dream still kicking around in my brain, I know that I didn’t sleep well.

This morning, the clues were positive. I had sleep in my eyes. I stretched like a happy cat and let out a sigh of pleasure. And I remembered the last dream I had. I won’t record the entire dream here. People telling you their dreams is one of the most boring and painful experiences life has to offer, I know. But, in short, in this dream, I was a kind of detective working with a young partner. I won’t go into the details of the crime I was investigating or who we were chasing or all the clues that led to catching the criminal. What was interesting was the punishment for the criminal. This involved putting on a bracelet, and this bracelet cut the person off from all social interaction whether online or in real life. And the company that produced that bracelet was a massive corporation that was formed when Google and Amazon merged. The company had a new name in my dream, but I forget what it was. This new company essentially ran the entire planet, and they had merged with law enforcement to create this bracelet for criminals. The bracelet had different punishment settings for how severe the criminal offense was.

One of the details I remember from this dream was that this bracelet came in the mail for some reason. And even though my partner had good eyesight throughout the entire story, at the end for some reason, she was blind. And this envelope had a series of colorful tabs on the outside that she could run her fingers over to get all the information about where this envelope had come from and what it contained. I found this interesting, because I can’t think of anything in real life where this idea would have come from. So how did it end up in my dream?

Anyway, enough about dreams.

I wrote yesterday about how happy I was with my Ulanzi V2 cage for my GoPro. Well, as often happens, I learned today that Ulanzi recently released the V3. And the V3 fixes all the problems that the V2 has. So, of course, buying the V2 was a mistake. I should have purchased the V3. Unfortunately, I had no idea the V3 existed. I’m going to try to order one today. The one problem with the V3 is that it is three times heavier than the V2. That is because it is made of aluminum instead of plastic.

Not much else happened yesterday. To be honest, I don’t know where the day went. So I’m going to cut today’s journal entry short and just get started with my day’s activities.

August 1, 2019
8:00 a.m. Room 4, Natalia Guest House
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Not much else to say this morning, either. Thinking back, I’m not sure what I did yesterday. I was busy all day long, but I guess little of it was memorable. I did go off in search of the Ulanzi V3 at Low Yat Plaza. And I was unsuccessful. No one had it. In fact, not a single shop except for the one where I bought my V2 had any Ulanzi products at all.

Once more, I found the customer service to be poor. Perhaps I am expecting too much, but I expect a bit more than a curt, “No stock” every time I try to find a product. As I said before, all I can really do is contrast their behavior with what I would do as a sales clerk. For one thing, I would be interested in the product. If a customer walks in looking for a specific 3rd-party product for a GoPro, I would want to know what this product is. I would want to find out what is special about it and why the customer wants it. Maybe I SHOULD add it to my store’s inventory, right?

And once I informed the customer that we didn’t have that item at our shop, I’d check to see if I can order it for the customer. And if that fails, I’d try to suggest another store that might have it. I’d even make a couple of phone calls to see if I can track it down for them. I would do all of that instinctively. But all I got from people at Low Yat Plaza was a curt “No stock” or a grunt that sounded like “No” with an implied “Now, go away.”

I never did order the V3 online. I still might do that, but I’m not 100% committed to the idea. I bought the V2 to do two things – provide a convenient place to store the Audio Adapter AND allow me to mount a microphone on a cold shoe mount. And the V2 does both those things. It might be a bit harder to access the screen on the back of the GoPro, but I don’t know for sure yet if that will be a real problem. So why not give it a chance? The V3 might have a better design, but it is also three times heavier. And that’s nothing to sneeze at. If the V3 were in stores, I’d have bought one. But since I have to order one from China and go through the stress and worry of having it shipped and wondering when it will get here plus the worry about using my credit card online, it makes sense to just give the V2 Pro a chance. See how it works out.

I also spent some time taking these journal entries and packaging them for posting online on my website. And I had to do some other work on my website. There never seems to be a lack of things going wrong on the website. I tried to make some changes, but, as usual, I couldn’t find a way to do any of them. Word Press is so frustrating and limiting.

That hardly accounts for a full day, so I must have done some other things, but I can’t remember what they were. I replied to some comments on YouTube and on Messenger and Facebook, of course. I also dropped by a sporting goods store on my way back from Low Yat Plaza. I was wondering what it would cost to buy a cheap backpack for my upcoming trip to Myanmar. My Slazenger duffel bag is hard to carry for any distance, I have to say. It felt so heavy on my shoulder. I still have this crazy idea to buy one of the Osprey Transporter duffel bags. They have built-in shoulder straps. But they are very expensive, and they only make sense if they are perfect for me and can eventually be used with my bicycle long term. The problem there is that they weigh a few pounds, and that is more pounds being added to my trailer.

I still occasionally entertain this insane idea that I can use my Radical Design trailer as my luggage. But that’s insane. It’s just too big and bulky and heavy to be a convenient way to carry my gear. It does have the advantage of being able to roll around on its own wheels, but at the cost of 12 extra pounds. No, I shouldn’t even think about it. It’s too crazy, even for me.

Things have definitely settled down after my return from Myanmar and the sudden rush of activity to get organized and caught up. So it’s time to get serious about my return. I have some things I will need to do to make that happen:

1. apply for an e-visa (if I can’t get that, then this whole plan has to be changed anyway)
2. decide whether to fly into Yangon or Mandalay first
3. continue my research and come up with a rough plan for places to go in Myanmar

And then I have to come to grips with my camera gear and other electronics to see what to bring with me. I have some decisions to make there:

1. bring ONLY the GoPro this time? Or also bring the Panasonic?
2. use the duffel bag luggage or buy the Transporter or buy a cheap backpack?
3. how to clear up enough memory for more video files?
4. how to store/archive video files?


Friday, August 2, 2019
6:35 a.m. Room 4, Natalia Guest House
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I think I made a mistake and got out of bed too early. I thought I was rested, but now that I’m on the computer, all I want to do is close my eyes. And I would do that if I thought I could go back to sleep. I had two out of the three signs of a good rest – sand in my eyes and vivid dreams – but apparently whatever sleep I got, it wasn’t enough.

I made a point of remembering at least one dream that struck me as interesting. In this dream, I was just sitting on my bed and working on my computer as I often am. And then two local guys came in and started chatting with me, and they ended up sitting beside me on the bed. At one point, I got up from the bed to do something, and when I turned around, I caught the youngest of the two men reaching across the bed to a table where I had lain a pair of pants with my wallet in the pocket. When he saw that I was looking at him, he got really frightened, and he pulled his hand back and shoved it under his body.

I assumed he had taken my wallet, and I jumped on him and shouted at him to show me what was in his hand. I wanted my wallet back. He wouldn’t show me for a long time, but eventually, he took out his hand, and he was holding his cell phone.

This was really confusing, and I grabbed my pants and I found that my wallet was still in the pocket. So I had a long conversation with the young guy. I told him that I thought he was stealing my wallet. He denied it. And I felt really bad that I was so suspicious. But I kept thinking about the frightened look on his face. If he was just reaching for his own cell phone, why did he look so scared when I saw him?

The interesting thing about this dream is that I woke up at this point. And I was lying in bed thinking about the dream. And then I had a sudden realization. In the dream, I had never looked INSIDE the wallet. So this guy had likely grabbed my wallet, taken all my money out, and then replaced the wallet. I caught him as he was putting the wallet back, not taking it. And that’s why he looked so scared. But since I had not looked inside my wallet in the dream, he got away with it.

As always, the dream felt so real that it affected me in real life. I lay there in bed while I was awake, and I wanted to go back to sleep and go back into that dream so that I could confront the guy again. Somewhere in the dream world (the real world?) there is a young man laughing at me because I was too dumb to look inside my wallet.

In the actual real world yesterday, I went shopping. And I came home with nothing but information. I guess that is a good thing because I didn’t spend any money. I went to the Mid-Valley Megamall again, and I went there because I remembered that there was a dedicated Teva outlet in the mall. I need new sandals. I found the Teva shop, but I wasn’t impressed with the Teva sandals. They were expensive. They weren’t comfortable at all. I guess their focus is on being rugged outdoors sandals for river running and hiking, so they didn’t bother with comfort. Perhaps I would have gotten used to them, but I kind of felt like this was a marketing trick by Teva. They essentially made the sandals as primitive and incomplete as possible, and they sold that design flaw to us as a feature. They get to save money by making sandals out of nothing but a rubber sole and three or four Velcro straps, and then charge a premium price for them. It’s a great marketing trick. I think the idea is that you are supposed to pay this high price because they will last a long time. But I’ve heard that before. NOTHING lasts a long time anymore. Everything wears out quickly. The only question is how much money you spend on stuff and so how much money you lose.

I also wanted to visit one of my favorite stores – ACE Hardware – and pick up a light bulb to replace my two broken ones. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much of a selection. The only bulb that fit my requirements didn’t seem bright enough. The specs were right. It was a 24-watt bulb, which is the equivalent of 120 watts in the scale that I am used to. But when I screwed it into their testing board, it wasn’t satisfying. It took a few seconds to light up. The tube seemed to be unevenly lit. It was far too yellow. And it simply wasn’t bright enough. So I put it back. I think it was just a cheap brand, so I have to keep looking.

I dropped in on another of my favorite stores – the Osprey outlet. I wanted to look at the Osprey Farpoint 80 backpack. I’ve been interested in their Transporter series of duffel bags, but I’m trying to throw some water on that fire. I know that using a duffel as a backpack is just one of my weird obsessions, and it probably wouldn’t work out in the long run. I should do what normal people do and just use a backpack as a backpack. And the Osprey Farpoint line seemed like a good one for me. It is a travel pack, not an actual mountain climbing or hiking backpack. So it has more of a rectangular shape and focuses more on convenient pockets and compartments and security and ease of use rather than being rugged and with a massive hip belt. In fact, one thing I liked about it is that the shoulder straps and hip belt were rather thin and light and unobtrusive. I like that.

Unfortunately, the Farpoint 80 just didn’t feel big enough for me. I don’t believe that it is really an 80-liter backpack. Plus, as always, I ran into the “no stock” problem – the bane of my existence as far as retail stores go. The Farpoint 80 comes in a combination small/medium size and a large size, and I need the large size. And they had none of those in stock. That is probably a good thing because the last thing I need is to spend $200 on a backpack. It’s interesting that even in this dedicated Osprey store, the clerk didn’t look into ordering the backpack for me. She was a very helpful and professional clerk, but I guess they simply don’t have the custom in Malaysia of trying to order items for customers when they are not currently in stock.

I was hoping I could find the Rode Wireless Go microphone at the Megamall. Lots of shops at Low Yat Plaza carry them, but I don’t trust any of those stores. I would prefer to buy it from an established retail store. But to my surprise, none of the camera stores at the Megamall carried it. In fact, they didn’t really have any microphones at all. But I spent a happy hour or two looking at all the cameras and chatting with the sales clerks. Unlike the clerks at Low Yat Plaza, the ones at the Megamall actually are interested in the products they sell and can talk about them knowledgeably with customers.

Along the way, I dropped by the GoPro store, and I learned a lot about the various bicycle mounts they sell. I kind of liked the design of their main mount, but it’s not clear if it is big enough for most handlebars. And last but not least, I went to the Dell shop to see if there was anything new as far as laptops are concerned. And there was something new, the brand new Inspiron 15 7000. It looked like a great video editing laptop, but it might be a bit too heavy and quite a bit too expensive. I’m not sure.

There was also the Inspiron 14 5000. Fully decked out with the appropriate amount of RAM and hard drive space, it would likely cost around $1,000 US.

I ended up with the feeling that this was not a good time to buy a new laptop. I have too much happening right now in terms of camera gear and planning for my return to Myanmar. I think buying a new computer will have to wait.

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