What’s worth more: the laptop or the cash?

     It’s nice to be back in California, though I haven’t been around much. Everything is too far. It seems easier to fly to Europe than go to Death Valley. I will explore my state sometime. I am rabid California patriot. Whether deserved or not, it’s a mythical place. There’s a reason why there are no songs called “Oregon Girls”, “Oregonification”, “Oregon Uber Alles” or, especially, “It Never Rains in Southern Oregon”.

     News flash! My Somaliland money finally arrived! As everyone has surely memorized my April 12, 2011 blog post, I managed to get about 7.5kg, or 17.5 pounds, of Somaliland currency. I sent it home registered mail from Kenya and it took no less than SEVEN months to arrive. Seven months! I would have bet the house that it was history since customs opened another box of junk I sent home from Kenya, but no.
     I am excited to be reunited with my manky-smelling currency bricks. Did you know that 10 bundles of 100 banknotes is called a brick? (TheDromomaniac.com is like a nonstop online advanced college course—and I do it for free!) The brick in this photo consists of 1000 five-shilling notes, a total of 5000 shillings. 5000 shillings has a value in US dollars of…drumroll…exactly 90 US cents. Yes! I love stuff like this. Name me another country where I can get something similar, and I will dust off my backpack. Or, the way the US dollar is going, I might not need to go anywhere.
     Collecting small denomination banknotes is something I like to do with my time while traveling. At first glance, visiting banks and post offices (I always like to see what stamps are on sale) seems like a self-imposed purgatory, but it’s fun, I’m telling you. I like hobnobbing with the people in the bank and they see so few foreigners that I am a novelty. In one bank I was invited for tea in the manager’s office while he sent someone scurrying to look for the smallest notes they had in the vault.

     This photo has nothing to do with anything. It is from New York when a friend and I drove around the country to see as many baseball games as we could for a month in that VW Bug before our last year of college.

     But wait a moment. Let’s not presume the laptop is worth more. It is an Asus Eee PC netbook, and I can hardly look at it anymore without disdain. I was so good to it, I babied that thing, always carried it in a hard case, was ever-vigilant to keep each spec of dust out, gave it frequent massages—and the @!#$& died on me after less than two years of ownership. Bad motherboard, dead battery, faulty headphone jack—none of it worth replacing or repairing even when I was in low-cost Thailand.
     I need to get another one. Well, I don’t need to get another one, and I am ashamed to admit that when I had a laptop, a strong factor in choosing a guest house was based on the availability of wifi, but I want another one. (I’m also in the market for a camera. The shell(?) isn’t sealed right and I have a spot of dust on the inside of the lens. It’s soon to be another $150 down the drain.) I’m not thrilled about throwing away another $350 on the same laptop, so, as they say in parts of Asia, “What to do?”
     Unless I am blind to other options, it seems to come down to another low-end netbook or make the expensive leap to Macs. Esteemed blogger Gary Arndt say that if you want a professional blog, you need a professional computer: a 15″ Macbook Pro, in his case, but that thing weighs 5.6 pounds (2.54 kg) and weight is everything. (The Asus weighs exactly half.) A Macbook Air is at least $1000 without a memory upgrade, surely sturdier, but rumored to be a less-powerful machine, not to mention it costing almost three times an Asus.
     What about tablets and smartphones? If they are the future, then I can say without melodrama that it can only be the death of writing. How can it not be? You simply can’t type much before you want to hurl it, or am I missing something? A USB collapsible keyboard? Is it time to look into carrier pigeons?
     What do you think I should do, other than stop whining?

     Honing my cooking skills: whole grain pasta with tender shrimp, succulent sun-dried tomatoes and a medley of herbs. Did I mention I am single? I'm quite a catch.

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What’s worth more: the laptop or the cash? — 12 Comments

  1. Bite the bullet and get a Mac — you won’t regret it. And don’t ever stop whining, Kent. This blog wouldn’t be the same without your bitching and moaning!

  2. Yeah, keep bitching, it’s funny and makes the blog worthy.

    At least fell happy that you live in the cheapest country in the world.

    If you don’t want to carry weight around there are actually several options.
    the super light laptops are usually expensive such as Macbook Air, Samsung series 9, Acer Aspire 6. None of them is cheap.

    You will find some 13 inch laptops around 4lbs though from Dell and Acer, but they will still be in the 500, 600 USD.

  3. 4 lbs is a lot, and that’s probably not including the cable, is it? (Cables don’t all weigh the same, do they?)
    See, Flavio, it is the hardest decision EVER!

  4. Well. Usually my only use for California is to provide a reference point for where my beloved Oregon is, for the many people who have never heard of it.*

    I’ve got Mac-lust just like most people, but not only are they too expensive in the first place, from what I’ve heard they also seem more prone to thievery… I think it would make me paranoid to leave it in your average craphole hotel. Cheap netbook all the way!

    *I have to admit these days I try very hard not to be in Oregon during the six month rainy season

  5. I love Oregon! You know the joke: California decides to split into two states, and the top half decides to call itself “South Oregon”?
    I was paranoid with my cheap netbook; I might shower with my Mac if I got one.

  6. You did not mention that you were single…but I am not a bit surprised to hear that it is so.

    If you are so worried about weight…why not take a long hard look at your waist line?

  7. I asked my tech friend. He said look at Ultrabooks. I suppose you can Google them. You can also get a keyboard for an iPad that doubles as a case. They add to weight, but are pretty slick. My friend says he charges his twice a year! (it communicates through blue tooth to the iPad). Let me know if you want more info.

  8. Hi Tom,
    I’ve never heard of Ultrabooks. I will have to check it out.
    “A keyboard for an iPad that doubles as a case”?! I can’t imagine what that looks like!
    Thanks for the tips.

  9. Definitely have a look at ultrabooks if you are willing to spend more but not so much more as an Apple product…
    The Asus Zenbook (UX31 – 13″ or UX21 – 11″) is currently reviewed as one of the better ones but more and more models keep coming out from Samsung, HP, Dell etc.. For a budget friendly choice check out the Acer S3. They are cheaper than other ultrabooks while still having most of the features, most importantly light weight and good battery life. Obviously build quality etc. is not as good, but might be sufficient for you (check out this review for comparisons: http://www.anandtech.com/show/5259/ultrabook-head-to-head-acer-aspire-s3-vs-asus-ux31e)

    Hope this helps!

  10. Thanks, Ory.
    Those in your link are all about the same price as a Macbook Air. The Air has no moving parts, but is that unique among ultrabooks? There’s a lot of factors to consider!

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