Wednesday, April 10, 2002

Another Suitcase In Another Hall

As has been the pattern in all the relocations we've endured over the past few years, the week or so before the move is punctuated by a series of disappearances. One day the phone is cut off, another day the rubbish stops being collected, and so it goes. Tonight, for example, I am without a bed light as we gave it and some other household goods to the Salvation Army people who called earlier today. As a consequence, I am typing this whilst wearing a light-producing contraption on my head similar to that worn by Welsh coalminers in the movies. The device is something which Debbie bought to use during her trek in Nepal and it makes me look like the unfortunate result of a dalliance between a cyclops and a porch light. Every time I raise my head from typing I startle the cat by bathing her in the eerie glow from my forehead.

Yesterday's major disappearance was the car; we've put it into a San Mateo dealer's lot where it's for sale by consignment. Tomorrow - in a little under twelve hours - the pets go. They'll board in a facility close to our vets before flying home and spending four months in quarantine. Without a car, we thought that transportation to the boarding facility might be a problem, but here in the US it's apparently not unusual for pets to travel by regular taxi, so we had little trouble booking one. Snakes were the only pets not transported by the taxi company that we phoned (except, I guess, if they were seeing-eye snakes).

Thoughts of the pets' leaving tomorrow has made for a sombre afternoon. We think that Mitzi suspects something as she's been clingy and a little mopey all afternoon; Astra, our cat, probably suspects something too but, frankly, doesn't care. This reaction to our imminent departure sums up, for me, the key difference in the basis of all human relationships with cats compared to that with dogs. I've seen a fridge magnet which echoes the same sentiment : Dogs have Masters; Cats have Slaves.

Tomorrow, as well as the pets, the cable internet connection goes. It's incredible how quickly and completely you rely on the web for all sorts of everyday tasks when you're spoiled by rapid download speeds and zero incremental usage costs. We use it reflexively for looking up phone numbers, reading the news, checking the weather, writing and researching these blogs, answering general reference questions and for a thousand other things.

As an example, earlier today we looked up the weather forecast for Yosemite National Park for the four nights we'll be staying there. For this purpose we used Accuweather, a web site that provides 10-day forecasts for just about any city in the US. As well as providing standard temperature forecasts, Accuweather also provides forecasts of what it calls the Real Feel™ temperature. You might previously have come across a temperature that's been wind-chill adjusted, the rationale for such adjustment being that a given temperature 'feels' colder to we humans if we experience it simultaneously with some sort of breeze. The stronger the breeze, the colder a given temperature feels. Real Feel takes the wind-chill notion another step and adjusts the actual temperature based on a slew of environmental factors, including wind strength. For the cricket fans reading this, think of the Real Feel temperature as the Duckworth-Lewis of the meteorological world (with probably the same level of understanding by the average mortal). Accuweather forecasts Real Feel temperatures as low as -7°C for the nights that we'll be in Yosemite. The only consolation I can think of for such Arctic conditions is that temperatures this low should keep all but the hardiest of bears away from our cabin.

On Friday the disappearing act is completed as the furniture goes and so do we. Once we've started travelling, our aim is to blog to the site as often as we can, though this will depend on the geographical extensiveness and reliability of the AOL network.

I think I'll just have one more web-surfing session while we've still got cable ...

Originally posted by TC

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