Friday, February 24, 2017

i sing the blogger electric

Taking Mexpatriate on the road is a logistical feat. Especially, when I slip outside the comforting arms of North America.

Back in Barra de Navidad, my computer work space is a work of Swedish simplicity. Each piece of gear has its own space. And cords are hidden to enhance the electronic mystery.

But not on the road. I am always ready to award myself the Rube Goldberg Award when I finally manage to successfully cobble together the tools of my trade.

Of course, none of my pieces require electricity to work -- for short periods. My camera. My Kindle. My mobile telephone. My tablet. They all have their own batteries. So, I can be free of the tethering chargers for short periods.

But every device eventually needs to feed at the breast of Edison's outlets.

In North America, all I need is a charger and cable for each device and a power strip to get electricity to them. But heading elsewhere in the world adds complications.

Electrical systems are not uniform. North America (and, as you all know, that includes Mexico) is fond of 110 volt systems. A lot of the rest of the world is enamored with 220. (And, yes, I know that is an oversimplification, but let's just go with that assumption -- or this discussion will never come to a conclusion.)

If devices are 110, a converter is required to convert (of course) 220 to 110. In the 1970s, most of the converters I encountered in Asia and Europe were the size of a small satchel. The modern converters can now easily fit in a hand. You can see one in the photograph. It is the white rectangle with the demonic red eyes.

But that is not the only potential problem. Because electrical systems developed separately in different countries, so did the outlets and the prongs that go into the outlets. I have run into at least 15 different types of pins over the years-- some that work in multiple countries, others that work in only a single country.

On an early trip to China, I purchased a nifty converter with multiple pins built into the unit. Pick the country and push out the appropriate set of pins. Not unlike the Swiss army knife of converters.

Unfortunately, the converter did not include the oblique-angled pins used in Australia and New Zealand. I didn't discover that until I tried to charge up my devices in the Sydney hotel where we overnighted before flying on to Perth.

Long ago, I discovered that airport shops are a traveler's best bet to resolve arcane travel problems. And that is exactly what happened at the Sydney Airport. The shops did not have a multiple country converter that included Australia pins. Why would they? Their primary customers are Australians heading overseas.

But I did find a plug that converted from Chinese pins to Australian. It is a little bulky. But it works. If it had not, you would have missed the last two essays from Australia.

So, there it is. It will never win an Ikea endorsement for clean lines. But it works. (I may need to remember that lesson as I start the furniture-buying process for the house in Barra de Navidad.)

And, if all goes as advertised, I will also have an adapter to use while I am on land in New Zealand. On the ship? It is as if I had never left the confines of my bedroom in Mexico.

Tomorrow afternoon, we board the Radiance of the Seas, and the cruise portion of the trip will begin. On one of the sea days, I may publish a few of my Perth photographs. The internet in this horel is even slower than most cruise ship systems.

For now, I will head to bed -- and get ready for the boarding party.

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