layout: posts title: DevRel Tour Packing List description: what I brought for 3 weeks abroad in Japan categories: blog —
As usual, when I go on a DevRel tour, I like to write about what I’ve packed. This trip was a 3 week journey from Tokyo, through Kyoto, to Osaka, and back. As I write this, halfway through the trip, I feel very good about the amount of stuff I brought.
Last time I went to Japan, I brought the DSPTCH Waist Bag as my day bag, and my shoulders immediately regretted it. I think my days or a one-shoulder bag with a computer are pretty much over. This time I returned to my tried and true setup. I’ve reviewed or written about both of these bags previously.
These are great for clothes and toiletries, and additionally ensure that even in a downpour I can keep a few things dry.
This time around, I loaded my toothbrush and some other non-leaky toiletries into this bag because I noticed the metal tip of my electric toothbrush kept almost poking through my dry bag.
My daily jacket. I’ve got two of these and they’re awesome. Not quite waterproof, but warm enough, and water-resistant enough for a drizzle and temperatures between 7-20C (mid-40s to mid-60s F).
If it rains, I’m covered.
A great way to stay dry and warm or cool. These wash easily and are comfy for all-day-travel.
I wear these to work daily, and they’re pretty ideal. Comfy, flexible, and a bit water-resistant. The pockets are also huge which means my phone fits easily in a front pocket.
These shoes go on and off pretty easily, and look nice enough for business meetings while still feeling good for longer walks. Half of this trip was a vacation, where I wandered around all day, including hiking. I almost went with my new KOIO shoes, but at the last minute, opted for slip-one with a lot of grip.
Wool is the way to go. I’ve tried other solutions and they were nice enough, but ultimately, wool holds up the best and wicks super well.
At some point, maybe I can travel with only USB-C cables, but that world doesn’t exist yet. Fortunately my external battery has a USB-C port and a USB-A port, so I use those two to charge my phone and watch at night. On the plane my USB-C to USB-C cable means I can top-up my iPad if I play too many games or get low mid-season of a tv show. It completely boggles the mind why the Kindle isn’t a USB-C device yet. Seriously. It’s 2019.
The usual assortment of unguents, potions, and a toothbrush, along with my trusty new pen and notebook. I love this Kaweco pen, which is both completely blacked-out, and compact. I also brought some small gifts for 東京と大阪の同僚。
To Be Taught, If Fortunate — Becky Chambers
This is one of the best sci-fi short novellas I’ve read in a while. It’s not quite hard SF, but I love all the little details. The characters are great, and just casually queer, and there’s just enough suspense to make it a real page-turner. A triumph.
The Guest Cat — Takashi Hiraide **
Definitely cried reading this one. I’m a sucker for Japanese cat literature for sure.
Revenant Gun — Yoon Ha Lee
The final book in the Ninefox trilogy, and definitely the horniest one. If you military guys, there’s probably some fun for you in here. For me though, this was a great conclusion to a often confusing and wild series. I still don’t understand all of the math, but I love the world. There were some really interesting character choices here, and even though I wish we’d seen more of Cheris and Jedao chatting, the bits we did get were rad. This series was fantastic overall.
Pattern Recognition — William Gibson
A reread of a favorite. I might or might not partially owe Cayce for a major style inspiration for my daily wardrobe. This story has a lot of artifacts of the early oughts, but most of it feels delightfully timeless.
Hollow Kingdom — Kira Jane Buxton
Still not sure how i feel about this book. I think the idea of the book was better than the execution.
In the Shadow of the Moon
A mid-flight watch on my way to Tokyo. Pretty interesting, engaging flick that gets weird.
There isn’t a lot I can say about this without spoiling the whole endeavor, but suffice it to say this movie is incredible. There’s so much going on in every shot, and the actors performances are incredible. This is a rare movie that just keeps building and building throughout. Truly one of the best directors working.
What We Do in the Shadows
A rewatch of an utter classic of mockumentary. So many quotable lines and absurdly delightful scenes. The last word in vampire media.
The Art of Self Defense
The dialog delivery was definitely from the Yorgos Lanthimos school of deadpan, and the general vibe was extremely absurdist. I loved this film. Quite a bit of this movie was unexpected, and had me cracking up. A genuinely odd delight.
The Day Shall Come
An utterly bizarre and fantastic satire about the very real lengths the state goes to in order to prop up folks with no real chance of committing “terrorist acts”. It’s worrying watching this interview to get more behind the scenes of this film. Morris makes seriously strange stuff, and this is no exception.
Space dads! I don’t know if this is a genre, but perhaps it should be since Interstellar, High Life, and Ad Astra all appear to answer: “what if dads, but in space”. However there was a lot of assault in this film… it’s largely about felons being jettisoned into space, and artificial insemination experiments, it turns out. If you like very grim space movies, this might be for you.
A wild visual ride with a rather bizarre (it’s Trigger, naturally) story of fire people and the folks who fight them. There’s mecha, tons of goofy jokes, and even though it felt a little long, it was fun.
(this is a very earnest post, and if you’re here for backpacks and travel, maybe skip this one)
This letter in a scifi tale would come to you out of the ether, dropping onto your iBook G3 on some particularly dark night of the soul. I’m you, but 16 years older, and hopefully a little wiser.
The next few years will be a lot of fun, but also really, really tough. You will lose friends and family to cancer, then to divorce and…
You transition. You finally do it, and it goes mostly ok! You don’t talk to family anymore, but you probably saw that coming, and it’s fine because you have friends who love and support you.
Your finances will get worse for a while. Really bad. You’re going to spend a little while sleeping in your car and on folks’ couches. It sucks. You’ll smoke too many cigarettes, and do some ridiculous stuff.
It works out.
Eventually, you get a job with folks who you really like, and they encourage you. You join a company that is doing amazing stuff with messaging (kind of like IRC, but way, way cooler—you’ll see). After a year, you get a little bit of stock, and finally pay off your student loan debt that you’ll have ground down for 13 years. It will feel great.
You’ll see a therapist, and a doctor, and a dentist with a regular cadence. It will help. I promise.
You’ll love, you’ll lose, and you’ll get back on that horse. Ultimately, you’ll do a lot of reading and spend a lot of time with your best friend, a cat named Snorri. You and Snorri will travel from Austin, to Portland, to Oakland, with a ton of flights in between to Europe, Asia, Canada, and NYC.
I know what it feels like a lot of nights right now. It sucks. It’s real, and you’ve had a hard time. Most people you know won’t get it, and you deserve better. When you get older you’ll know more people who’ve also gone through a lot of shit, and they’ll be good listeners, and you’ll listen a lot too. Don’t stop loving, and don’t stop trying to be open with your friends. It pays off more often than not. Your biggest asset is your heart. Don’t lose it.
I love you, and I can’t wait for you to get to where I am now. For all the good times, and the bad ones, just know I’m here in the future cheering you on.
Gideon the Ninth — Tamsyn Muir
Queer space necromancers! Queer space necromancers! OMG. This book was utterly bizarre, and a hell of a lot of fun. I’m a fan of low-tech future space stories, where for the most part the book seems more like fantasy than sci-fi, so this book was a joy. Plus there was necromancy! Apparently there are going to be two more books in this series, which is a delightful thing to learn, because I want to stretch out and learn more about this strange universe.
Raven Strategem — Yoon Ha Lee
All the world building and deciphering of the strange calendrical system paid off in full in this book. Getting a hint of what Jedao/Cheris might want at the end of Ninefox, this book deals with the aftermath of a dangerously peerless tactician let loose in the galaxy. I enjoyed all the strange details of the hexarchs, and imagining what each moth looked like. It’s been a minute since a sci-fi book got me so excited. This series can feel like a slog at first, but I think it’s worth it.
Ninefox Gambit — Yoon Ha Lee
This was one of the more challenging sci-fi books I’ve read in a while. Ultimately, figuring out what the hell was going on was well worth-it, but the first half or so was a frantic dog paddle to stay afloat. The world of NineFox Gambit is deeply strange, with technology that borders on magic that requires an empire to hold to a strict calendar for it to function. We follow a rad lady, with a homicidal general trapped in her head as she runs what seems like a suicide mission. I’m excited to read the rest of this series.
Masterworks — Simon Jacobs
The idea of this movie made me very anxious. Middle school is rough, and I was on edge for most of the film wondering if something very bad would happen, or if Checkov’s AR-15 would reappear. Spoiler Alert No. There’re definitely some sad moments, and some very tender and sweet ones, but no one big terrible event occurs. This isn’t that kind of movie. Instead, Eighth Grade perfectly encapsulates how nervous and awkward we felt in our youth, and just how embarassed we were by our parents. I loved it.
Between Two Ferns
I love the parallel world of these bizarre and failed actors. I haven’t seen very many episodes of the web show, but this was pretty fun.
TL;DR: Low-budget sci-fi cruise ship. This movie reminded me of a Twilight Zone episode, at least in its premise. I really enjoy movies where something goes horribly awry, and “what if we’re stuck in space forever” definitely meets that criteria, but unlike the Twilight Zone, there’s no big twist, just a slow sadness. There’s a certain charm to the fact that it’s Swedish as well. Plus, there’s space lesbians. We’re everywhere.
Mega Time Squad
Completely silly and fun. Low-budget time travel movies are often awesome (think Primer), but what if it was also a very low-brow comedy? Sweet as.
Wow, I really should’ve watched this in the theater. This movie ruled. Outstanding cast, hilarious from start to finish. I want so many more amazing comedies that center rad women. More. Lesbian. Characters. In. Everything.
Steven Universe: The Movie
I’m not super fond of musicals, and this was most certainly a musical. Generally, I’ve enjoyed Steven Universe, but more so when it’s weird, and not saccharine. This movie leaned more towards the latter, so it was cute, but not really my bag. If singing and supportive friendships are your favorite part of the show, you’ll love the movie. TL;DR your ex’s polycule adopts you.
Godzilla: King of Monsters
Ridiculous, but exactly what I expected. A bit of Godzilla, a bit of the Core. I’m fascinated by the idea that “eco-terrorists” have wide-reaching military power, lol. Shin Godzilla is still the best movie in the series, hands down, but this was a silly action romp.
I fondly remember the British show Spooks, which ended in 2011. This movie was a nice reminder of the great things about that silly spy show.
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