The XFE Packing Solution

(Editor’s Note: XFE is back with another guest post.)

That’s right friends I am back and not with just some hotel crashing post full of pictures, but with real, get to know XFE content.  As readers of ThePoeLog know, Poe struggles to get herself properly packed for all of the fabulous trips she takes and quite honestly the whining has to stop.  As a result, our upcoming trip will be packed using the new following approach.

Step 1: Poe will go ahead and pick her suitcases and start the process.

I am sure she will use something like this from Style BluePrint in Nashville full of great tips like “3 swimsuits, and if they are 2-pieces, make sure the bottoms coordinate with the tops so you have even more options.” Thanks for the incredibly helpful tip. You may want to also add something like “If the top of your two-piece with the detachable neck tie, you may want to bring that detachable neck tie, otherwise you will be trapped in Peru and XFE will have to MacGyver you a neck strap from one of your shoe laces from your hiking boots.” But who am I to enlighten the packing community?

This little gem of a packing list is by women for women, and although Croatia-specific it is also backpack specific, with tips like “5 pairs of underwear – Laundromats are plentiful in each town, but I just washed mine in the sink and let them air dry.” I am not sure how Poe could go wrong. Sink rinsed and air dried chonies are fine for the bunk beds at the hostels Poe used to frequent when she was a broke traveler, but not appropriate for Austrian Business class.

chonies
Who wants to brush their teeth near these things?

This list did allow me to learn about another apparently great travel invention The Diva Cup. I will let you read the article. I, however, have already been scarred enough today.

Finally, Poe will undoubtedly turn to some other general packing list, or my personal favorite, she will work to combine multiple packing lists from various sources into her own super mega packing list/approach/methodology. This behemoth will ultimately result in arriving to sunny summer in Croatia with 6 pairs of pants, 1 skirt, 3 shoes (not pairs; you can mix and match) and a handful of hair ties. It will be like last year in Austin where she brought two pairs of cowboy boots AND  bought a third pair of boots but failed to pack a sweater for 50-degree windy January days. So that is it. That will be Poe packing approach. Right until we reach step 2.

Step 2: Poe has to fit whatever pile she has gathered from above into one half of the selected suitcases.

Half suitcase

Only half.

Step 3: XFE will completely ignore what Poe has gathered and will fill the remaining half of the suitcase with bikinis, dresses, skirts, tops, and underwear.  Now, how does that sound different than step 1, you might ask? Well let me tell you: I am not over-thinking it. I am just reaching into the dark corners of the drawers where the skimpy items are tucked, and the top shelves of the closets to find all those great lost gems I have stood outside of dressing rooms watching Poe buy.

This is the Dalmatian coast; where the sun is bright, the air hot and the parties go on forever. Hotel rooms are sold with line passes to nightclubs. We will be there when the country is admitted to the EU, maybe a celebration will break out. We are staying at the #1 hotel in Dubrovnik with a balcony overlooking the city. Heels and a skirt to tour wineries and sample oysters? YES! Wedges and a dress to sit and drink through a long lunch? Yes! Heels and a cover-up to get from our room to the lounges below? YES! The smallest little G-string you own? Yes! It is vacation — YES! YES! YES!

Dubrovnik Hotel
Our hotel in Dubrovnik. Coverups: optional

This is Croatia and our summer vacation. Have I turned Poe into a Barbie? Maybe – but if it gets her packed and out the door and looking cute for the duration of vacation, it is victory. I am all for it and so should you be, my readers.  Otherwise, we are all destined to be subjected to this packing drama for all of eternity, and I am just not up for enduring that pain.

I’m Going to Recommend You Not Swat At That TNT-Coated Bee

Bees are crazy interesting creatures.

For example, did you know a honey bee can fly for up to six miles and as fast as 15 miles per hour.  And to make one pound of honey, a bee would have to fly around 90,000 miles, which comes out to about 3 times around the globe, and, which might explain why the average honey bee will actually make only one twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime.

Also, they see all colors except for red. I wonder what the bee equivalent of the Ishihara test is.

bee
Can you see the red number in this flower?

Another thing about bees is that they can be trained to find bombs. No, really. They’re like that guy in the The Hurt Locker. Only, with 6 legs, 2 compound eyes made up of thousands of tiny lenses (one on each side of the head), 3 simple eyes on the top of the head, 2 pairs of wings, a nectar pouch, and a stomach.

Some scientist is taking advantage of honey bees’ ridiculously acute sense of smell and training them to detect the scent of explosives. In particular, the scent of TNT, according to the Associated Press.

“Our basic conclusion is that the bees can clearly detect this target, and we are very satisfied,” said Nikola Kezic, an expert on the behavior of honeybees who leads a part of a larger multimillion-euro program, called “Tiramisu,” sponsored by the EU to detect land mines on the continent.

Mmmm, Tiramisu. That does sound yummy.

bee thug

(And, why exactly does this project need a super-secret code name? Who’s gonna make off with a swarm of specially trained, black op bees?Actually…..I see your point. But if I were giving out super-secret code names, I would go with something James Bond-ish, like “You Only Live 40-50 Days,” or “Honeycombs Are Forever,” or “License to Sting.” What about, “Octo-Buzzy?”)

Anywho. According to the article:

Several feeding points were set up on the ground around the tent, but only a few have TNT particles in them. The method of training the bees by authenticating the scent of explosives with the food they eat appears to work: bees gather mainly at the pots containing a sugar solution mixed with TNT, and not the ones that have a different smell.

Kezic said the feeding points containing the TNT traces offer “a sugar solution as a reward, so they can find the food in the middle.”

“It is not a problem for a bee to learn the smell of an explosive, which it can then search,” Kezic said. “You can train a bee, but training their colony of thousands becomes a problem.”

Yikes, I can totally imagine. Just training one Petunia to not claw the furniture is difficult enough. I can’t imagine a colony of thousands.

bee army
I’m pretty sure this is exactly what a bee army looks like.

So, just where would one find lots of undetonated landmines with which to test this TNT/Tiramisu theory? Why, Poe’s next vacation destination, of course, Croatia!

Croatian officials estimate that since the beginning of the Balkan wars in 1991, about 2,500 people have died from land mine explosions. During the four-year war, around 90,000 land mines were placed across the entire country, mostly at random and without any plan or existing maps…

About 750 square kilometers (466 square miles) are still suspected to be filled with mines from the Balkan wars in the 1990s.

Well, that’s just great.  But surely by the time we get there in early July, this whole bomb-sniffing-bee thing will be up and running and we’ll have no worries, right?

It may be a while before the honeybees hit real minefields, Kezic said. First, they will conduct controlled tests, with real mines but which are marked…

Even after the de-miners have done their job in an area, some land mines are missed and remain in the soil, and they are most often the cause of deadly explosions. Once the experiment with bees proves scientifically reliable, the idea is to use them in the areas that have already been de-mined, where their movement would be followed with heat-seeking cameras, Kezic said.

“We are not saying that we will discover all the mines on a minefield, but the fact is that it should be checked if a minefield is really de-mined,” he said. “It has been scientifically proven that there are never zero mines on a de-mined field, and that’s where bees could come in.”

You’re killing me, Kezic. Why so cautious? There are lives to be saved here. Science to be proven. Don’t you want to hurry up and get a patent on that Kezic Effect, and put that Pavlov guy with his silly dogs out of the behavioral conditioning business?

bee with guns
Ready to rumble in the jungle.

Maybe in the meantime, you could just go ahead and train a few of these bees on how to detect potential waterborne parasites real quick and truly make them useful? We’ll be there in about a month.