Digital SLResearch
I'm probably putting way more thought into my search for a good digital SLR camera than I need to. Over-analyzing as I am prone to do, I just can't seem to make up my mind. So I thought I'd see if any of you have any insight. I've narrowed my search down to the Canon Rebel XT and the Nikon D40 (or maybe the D40x with 10 megapixels instead of 6?). Any of you have any personal experiences with these cameras? I've been really pleased with my Canon point and shoot, and the SLR uses the same memory card. But I test-drove the Nikon this weekend and was really impressed with it. Since this is my first SLR of my own, I want to make sure that it's a good base camera that I can build on, without being way over my novice head. Any insight you might have would be much appreciated.


RTW in 91 Days
Last Wednesday I bit the bullet and purchased my round-the-world flights. Beginning in Phoenix and ending in San Francisco 3 months later, I'll hit the following cities, among others:

London (again)
Prague (again)
Ho Chi Minh City
Kuala Lumpur

To see what all this looks like, I spent way too much time putting the above map together. There are a few more details if you follow this link (as long as it works the way I think it will), including links to the Intrepid Travel tours I'll be taking. Let me know if that link doesn't work.

I had planned to write a bit more about how excited I am about this trip, and what I'm looking forward to for each of the destinations, but that dratted map took up so much time my prime sunbathing hours are wasting away. But first, before I relax on a raft in the pool, I have an announcement...

I am Seriously Seeking a Cycling Tour Sidekick
The Tour de France arrives in Paris on Sunday, July 29 and I plan to be there. However, it would be infinitely more fun to experience such an exciting event with a companion. In all seriousness, I am asking if anyone wants to join me for a weekend in Paris. I'll be reserving my hostel by next weekend, so you have a little bit of time to think about it. I'll get in to Paris probably on July 27, and I'll leave July 30.


A Candidate by Any Other Name Would Smell as Sweet
Upon Dan's recommendation, I took SpeakOut.com's VoteMatch quiz to see how my social and economic views aligned with today's politcal players; in particular to see if I fit more in the Hillary camp or the Barack camp, or someone else's camp all together. I was also interested to see how this quiz differed from OkCupid's politics quiz. Just as I was a year and a half ago, and as I suspected, I'm still a Hillary girl and a "hard-core liberal". But my presidential vote is still up in the air. Besides my belief that it's way to early to be choosing sides, I'm genuinely concerned about the prospect of having another Clinton in the White House. This isn't any conservative concern, of course; it has nothing to do with the Clintons in particular. It has to do with my concern that our country is built on democratic principles, not some kind of impromptu monarchy where the persiency is passed from family member to family member. If Hillary is elected in '08, she'll be in office at least until 2012. That means an entire generation will have grown up with heads of state that are either Bush or Clinton. We don't need two "royal" families battling it out. While I don't have any solid reason to think that a monarchial torch-passing of this sort could have a ruinous influence on our conutry, it's raised a red flag for me. As the '08 primaries creep closer, I'll be looking for Hillary, Barack and the others to convince me of their worthiness. I refuse to be swayed by name, (Ba)rock stardom or pretty face.


Indecision, Oh Indecision
I need to start making plans for my trip. If I wait too much longer, the pound will be three times the dollar and everything I've saved up for this trip will go into my one-way ticket to London. Plotting out where I'm going to travel means having to decide which destinations I'm not going to be able to get to. I'm still not ready to admit the fact that I can't fit the world into 3 months. But I'm going to put off making decisions for a little while longer by asking you for your advice. So, my friends, you well-traveled lot, where in Central/Eastern Europe have you been and really enjoyed? Where would you love to go? The following are high on my list:

+ London (duh)
+ Edinburgh
+ Dublin (maybe)
+ Paris (but only if I make it for the end of the Tour de France)
+ Munich
+ Prague
+ Vienna
+ Salzburg
+ Amsterdam
+ Brussels
+ Split
+ Bled
+ Budapest

I'd love your thoughts and suggestions. Pipe up, yo.