December 27th, 2006

Kevin and Lisa

Vanagon Retrieval Accomplished

Yesterday, Lisa and I did drive up to Portland in her Big Orange Van and claim the Vanagon from the repair shop. We called first to tell them that we'd be there sometime after 1 PM.

First job: fuel the Big Orange Van. Lisa hates going to gas stations in Oregon with that van, because you're not allowed to pump your own gas in Oregon, and gas station attendants don't know how to fuel her van. Like many older vehicles (only worse in this case), modern gas pumps don't work well with it. (We've concluded that the pump manufacturers and the auto builders are in collusion to force you to buy a new vehicle because eventually the pumps will only work on vehicles purchased in the last five years. We figure that they're taking lessons from mobile phone and computer manufacturers.) You have to stand there holding the pump at an odd angle or it won't deliver any fuel at all. Station attendants don't want to do this because they have other customers. Normally this is not a problem because Lisa's father has a "farm fuel tank" and gets bulk gasoline deliveries, but the tank was empty because they'd let things get behind over the holidays. But there was enough fuel to get to Portland (including a stop at Fry's in Wilsonville, where we bought a memory upgrade for Lisa's newly-purchased used laptop PC and I bought a VCR-to-DVD conversion package so I can finally move my amateur Doctor Who movies to DVD), and we continued over the river to Vancouver WA, where there is a gas station a short distance over the border where we've fueled up before.

Because of the low mileage the Big Orange Van gets, it costs as much as $50 for a round-trip drive from Mehama to Portland. This is one reason she wanted the relatively economical-to-run Vanagon for routine trips, so she could reserve the big van for heavy lifting.

Then it was back to the repair shop. They'd brought the Vanagon out front of the shop anticipating our arrival, and there was no problem with us collecting it from them. I was worried that they would want to charge us for diagnosis or even for storing the van for a week, but no, they did not. (Thank goodness; Lisa might have had an aneurysm.) They even topped up the oil in the thing. I drove the Big Orange Van because it's an automatic transmission; I'm no good with a manual.

Traffic in Portland was a mess; in particular, there was a seven-mile backup on southbound I-205 back from the south I-5 junction. So first we stopped for lunch -- and there was even a break in the incessant rain we've been having the past three days, so we could go for a walk after eating -- then we took surface streets (except for a short stretch of I-205) to Oregon City and drove down OR-99, cutting back over the I-5 to the truck stop where we stopped to play pinball again, then on to Salem where we stopped for groceries, then back to Mehama.

It appears that the Vanagon is losing about one quart of oil per round-trip to Portland. While ecologically unsound, it's economically more feasible to keep putting oil in it for routine trips than to use the Big Orange Van. It's still annoying, though.

Edit, 12:53: Added parenthetical note about stop at Fry's.
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Manga Kevin

Feeling Badgered

I have had an article about convention membership badge design issues published (heck, it's the lead article) in the latest issue of Steven Silver's Argentus. Although as I read it through, I have spotted minor typographical errors I made in the original, I am overall very pleased with this article. I go into some detail about what I think are the major issues involved in designing convention membership badges and why, in my opinion, so many convention membership badges are design failures.