Ads that bother me: Duracell

Have you ever watched a commercial or seen an ad and thought, “Are they serious? They can’t be serious. There’s a problem there.” I find myself riding this train of thought fairly often. One of the main contenders is Duracell commercials:

Duracell claims its batteries are better than competitors’ batteries because important people like EMT’s and rock stars use them because, “It just has to work.” I can’t be the only person who thinks this claim is greatly exaggerated. Duracell batteries don’t have any special properties that make them less likely to die than other batteries; on the contrary, they expect the batteries to die, or else there would be no market for fresh replacements. These commercials are misleading because they make the consumer feel that Duracell batteries are somehow safer than other batteries, when there is really no guarantee that when your power goes out and you need a light, that a Duracell-powered flashlight is any more likely to work than any other. If the batteries had some kind of alarm that sounded when they were about to die, I would feel much safer about the batteries that power my defibrillator.

Of course, if you ask me, they would be better off advertising with the Duracell Bunny.

My day of travel: SFO to JFK

airplane7:56AM, waiting in SFO to board

I have completed the first leg of my trip: making it to the airport I’m departing from. I accomplished this via BART, which I’m a big fan of. One of the best parts about living near a BART station is easy, driving-free airport access. I’m flying Virgin America today, and if it hadn’t been in the international terminal, I could have taken the airtrain to the right one, but the SFO BART station is conveniently right inside the airport, next to the international terminal.

Checking my bag took all of about one minute, since I pre-printed my boarding pass. The security checkpoint took a little longer. Even though there were very few people there (for a security checkpoint, anyway), the line was backed up because they were using (one of those new machines that does a full-body scan). They said no papers in the scanner, so I left my boarding pass in my bag, but then they wanted to see it when I got through the scanner. I’m not sure how they expected that to work, but they sent me to my bag to get it. It was then I found that they’d taken my bag, the new Timbuk2 bag with my computer in it, to be scanned again because I didn’t remove the computer from my bag. I was not pleased about this, because as I’ve blogged previously, one of the main selling points of this bag is that it’s TSA compliant. I will be calling Timbuk2 about this. That said, the TSA dudes were in a patient mood today, and didn’t seem to be particularly bothered that I didn’t have my boarding pass or that they couldn’t see my computer; they just asked very nicely for me to fix it, and I did.

The last thing I did before sitting down to write this is buy a loaf of sourdough bread to last me the trip. I expect to be traveling until at least 10pm tonight, so the bread should last me the day with no time to stop for meals.

My flight boards in 25 minutes. Here’s hoping it goes smoothly.

11:28 PM: safely on the ground

The flight did go safely, if not smoothly. There were a few summer storms to go through and around, so there was some turbulence. We arrived in JFK only 45 minutes late, though. I count that as not bad. I was fortunate enough to encounter a friend at the baggage carousel, and since she was planning to take a cab into the city anyway, we shared a taxi and I had an easier trip to Grand Central Station. From there, I hopped on a train back to school, and I am now settled in my dorm room, safe and sound.

The Timbuk2 Commute 2.0 Laptop Messenger Bag

Commute 2.0 and Mini MetroThose who know me quickly find out that I am a big fan of Timbuk2 messenger bags. I’ve had a small Classic Messenger since high school, and last year I bought one of their Mini Metro bags while it was on clearance. The Mini Metro makes the perfect everyday purse, and the Classic Messenger held books and things going between classes these past two years. Both bags have served me well. My favorite part is how much stuff they hold: my Classic Messenger holds almost as much gear as a school backpack, and the Mini Metro not only accommodates all my personal items, but also is capable of holding a jacket if I want to take it off or need one for later. Timbuk2 is even based in San Francisco; what more could I ask for?

Alas, for the past two years, my laptop has been missing out on the action. I have a separate laptop bag I’ve toted it around in, but when I need to bring both books and my computer somewhere, I either have to stuff both into one bag (not safe for the laptop) or carry both the laptop tote and a bag of books (not fun for me).

The great news is that Timbuk2 introduced the Commute 2.0 (a redesign of their original Commute bag) last June, and ever since I saw the announcement, my laptop has begging for it. I held off for a while until they came up with a few new colors, but yesterday I went to their flagship store in San Francisco and bought it in black with the intention of decorating it somehow (probably with silver sharpies or pins). Now I will be able to carry both my computer and my textbooks to class without endangering the computer.

Commute 2.0 (open)The big selling point of this bag is that it is TSA compliant, meaning that I do not have to remove my laptop from the bag at the TSA checkpoint when I carry my computer on a plane. Here’s how it works: the computer goes into a self-contained compartment on the back of the bag. When you get to the security checkpoint, you unzip the compartment and lay the bag flat open like a book, so that there is no metal above or below the computer (the image makes it a lot clearer). I will have the opportunity to test this ability when I fly to New York on Friday, and I’m excited not to have to dig in my overstuffed backpack to pull the laptop out, and then spend 10 minutes trying to stuff it back in afterward.

Other perks include:

• More pockets than I ever could have expected (I count 17 individual compartments)
• Exterior water bottle pocket (though I think I’ll use it for my phone)
• Included grab handle on the top and comfort pad on the strap
• Reflector tabs for visibility at night
• Promoting SF-made products

I’m very excited to have bought this bag before going back to school; we’ll see how it holds up in an actual educational environment. I’d love to hear any ideas on how I should decorate it; expect pictures on how that turns out!