Archive for October, 2006

My New Crumpler Backpack

Crumpler's Whickey and Cox photography backpackWhile in New York I specifically hunted down the tiny little Crumpler store in SoHo to try out a potential backpack. It’s of a type I’ve been wanting for a while, one which can carry my camera gear along with my laptop. The idea is to be able to carry my digital SLR almost everywhere I go; there’s no point owning a camera that stays at home.

I decided on The Whickey and Cox [Crumpler photo bags], which holds a 15″ laptop (it’s actually even more spacious than needed for my 15″ Thinkpad T42p) and a significant amount of camera gear (potentially a couple bodies and a few lenses). Even though I don’t have enough camera gear to fill it up, the design is perfect for all the odd bits of electronics and other lumpy things I often carry. There’s a smaller pack (The Sinking Barge) that would hold my current camera gear and laptop just fine, but it doesn’t leave much room beyond that. When I visited the store they were currently out of the color I wanted (the sandy brown alternative is quite ugly, I’d say) so back at Kyle’s that night I ordered it online. By the time I returned from Mexico the backpack had arrived.

In general it is great, I can carry most everything I usually carry plus my digitial SLR. The only thing that I sometimes carry that doesn’t fit well is books of any significant thickness. Also, the pockets that are accessible from the outside are nowhere close to as easy to use as the ones on my old backpack. The opening is so narrow and the pocket so deep that it is difficult and sometimes painful to get your hand down in there; so, there is no way you can throw small things in and expect to dig them out easily. This isn’t much of a problem since the organization inside the main compartment is so nice: there are a couple small zippered pouches, one that goes along with the laptop sleeve. I find it quite comfy to wear. The back is a bit more padded than my old backpack and yet it is still quite stiff because the laptop sits right there. My old backpack from Spire holds the laptop further from your back but has a stiff plastic sheet conforming to your back which I have grown to really like. The stiff back makes the pack quite confortable and solid no matter what you put in it, and I was worried I would miss that in the Crumpler bag. But, on the whole, the Crumpler bag turns out to be a more rigid pack thanks to the foam lined camera compartment and the location of the laptop.

For the record, my old backpack is an early version of the Spire Meta, which I still highly recommend. As far as I know, it is the only backpack short of a true hiking pack that has a waist belt designed to carry a substantial load. It also has two very nice handles, one on top and one on the side that are far better than the usual loop of fabric. Also, it expands and contracts well; I can stuff it with clothes for a trip or sinch down some straps and go to work with just a few papers and a laptop in a sleek package.


Crime and Baseball

This is a cute correlation: Just as the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Detroit tigers in the “World” Series last week, St. Louis also beat Detroit in a slightly more unpleasant pasttime: killing people. The Associated Press reports that St. Louis has been named the country’s most violent city by Morgan Quitno Press. The rankings are based on a combination of factors, but it’s hard to argue with St. Louis’ murder stats, which show 16% growth. And who ended the “season” in second place? Detroit! One has to admit that Michigan, as a state, is still a powerhouse though: with the addition of Flint the state dominates the top three. Ha ha, take that Missouri!


Fall Break, New York City

New York City street, Canyon of HeroesLast week I used the two day fall break that the University of Michigan now offers to visit New York city with Jeremy. Jeremy’s friend Kyle, who worked for him on the web lecture archive project, is getting his MFA studying film at Columbia and offered us a place to stay.

We had an incredible time overall, though there were some frustrations. The first day we tried to take the ferry to Ellis Island, but we arrived just as the last boat was leaving (3:40pm, so early!). On the last day we planned to walk around Central Park, but on that day, after three days of perfect weather, it rained continuously. But, we did eventually get to Ellis Island, and instead of seeing the park I was able to buy some shoes I desperately needed and hang out with Jeremy at a very nice cafe.

Other things worked out perfectly. I eventually found the Crumpler store that I wanted to visit, and though they didn’t have the bag I wanted in the color I wanted, the woman working there was very helpful. I ordered the bag online that night. Jeremy got some shoes that he is now obsessed with. We visited the MoMA and I saw all the parts I missed the last time plus the new temporary exhibit. Saturday, Jeremy and I had a light meal and tea at Teany, and Sunday morning we had tea with Steve and Emily, who just happened to visiting that weekend. Steve took us to a place that had very good tea and sandwiches, Alice’s Teapot, though the girly decor was so extereme that Jeremy and I are certain we would never have stepped foot in the place on our own. We also took a couple long walks, once wondering all the way up from the tip of downtown to Times Square, another time circling the Village with Kyle looking for a bar. On that second trip we eventually ended up at an excellent caviar/martini bar a little bit outside the village on the edge of SoHo called Pravda. The pear martini I started off with was probably my favorite, and Kyle had one with strawberries that was also excellent, the ingrediants always tasted as fresh as they could be.


Man and Mud Don’t Mix

New information on the Icarus front: just as you shouldn’t fly too close to the sun, you should also take care not to dig too close to the center of the Earth. The NY Times reported today that a company drilling for natural gas did not take appropriate precautions and ended up opening a portal to a muddy and unforgiving world. Now thousands of homes have been destroyed by mud that continues to flow out of “mud volcanoes” unleashed from 6000 feet deep by man’s hubris. Will anyone ever be held responsible? “My sources say no.”
Mud in Indonesia covers factories to the roofs.