Four Things

Friday, April 05, 2019

I find the following items handy when traveling.

1. In part because we don't live especially close to family, the Van Horns travel quite a bit. One of the things this has caused me to notice over the years is how many poorly-designed bathrooms there are out there. After wondering Is this the first time the builder ever attempted a bathroom? one time too many -- because I had nowhere to put my shampoo or soap that didn't involve picking it up from the tub or floor mid-shower -- I decided to do something about it.

That something was to buy a shower caddy bag somewhat like this one that I could just throw into a suitcase and use on the other end as needed. It's on my evolving packing list and I just hang it on the piping for the shower head.

2. I have many more keys than I want to always carry around, and there are things I sometimes want with me that can fit onto a keychain.

I can't find my particular key organizer (pictured) for sale any more, but this one is very similar. On one recent road trip, I needed everything here but the pocket knife. (I already keep a similar one in my car's glove box.) It was all on there while I drove, but the house keys and pen drive went to the hotel room safe most of the time.

When I'm not traveling, it's nice to be able to separate the house key on those many occasions when everyone is already in the car and someone remembers leaving something in the house. I can leave the engine (and AC!) running for Mrs. Van Horn and the kids while I dash inside.

Oh. That thing? It's a pill fob. It's nice to know you have some ibuprofen on hand when you walk into the gate of an amusement park with two kids in the morning...

3. For solo trips or running errands, I often like to listen to podcasts. Unfortunately, I gather these from different providers and dislike the interfaces for most of these, anyway. Enter pCloud, with 10 GB of cloud storage. This freemium service is like adding that amount of storage to any device and is multi-platform. I can gather and organize what I want to listen to on a computer with a real keyboard and then very easily listen to what I want when I want, all with a uniform interface. A nice bonus is that it is stupid simple to transfer photos with it.

4. For picnics and trips to the beach, I appreciate being able to leave my usual watch behind and, of course, open beer. Both are a snap with a bottle-opening watch, similar to this one, that my father-in-law gave me years ago.

Its battery recently died, so I effected the temporary repair of setting it to 5:01.

-- CAV


Dinwar said...

You probably already know it, but I feel compelled to say: With keys, make sure your car key is detachable. There have been several cars recalled because of issues with key chains torqueing car keys in the ignition cylinder, jamming the key in and damaging the device. Oldsmobile Aleros are one such vehicle. It happened to my sister's car, a Grand Marquise--the key got twisted upward, it got stuck, and we had to leave the car because it wouldn't start (fortunately we were with relatives at the time). We ended up drilling out the pin that holds the ignition cylinder in place and replacing it with a different one. Fortunately we have mechanics in the family and had the necessary tools and spare parts; having this happen at a rest stop somewhere would have been far more disconcerting.

Certain models are more likely to have these problems than others, but as far as I can tell it's a universal issue with cars where the key needs to be turned. If you've got a car where the key just needs to be inside the vehicle, it's a non-issue.

Gus Van Horn said...


My key is detachable, but I had not heard of this issue -- and I have sometimes had another key on the same ring as the car key. (Also, my wife, who does not currently use this kind of key chain, will be buying a new car during the next year...)

So thanks for mentioning this problem.


Anonymous said...

Hi Gus,

Speaking of poorly designed bathrooms, I thought you'd appreciate this.

I wonder if he thought that was the only way to get a wet shave with his electric razor.

c andrew

Gus Van Horn said...

Hah! I've seen that picture before. It reminds me a little of a new lab building at a past employer that somehow ended up far into construction devoid of some kind of plumbing (I forget which) for all of its lab sinks.