December 21st, 2007

Kevin and Lisa

Heading North

I'm off to BART to Oakland Airport (the flight time doesn't mesh well with the Amtrak schedule this time) to Oregon, where I will be until late on January 1. As is the way with these things, my e-mail and LJ, etc. will get a bit erratic because the computer and the high-speed internet connection will be a couple hundred meters away from me at my father-in-law's house.
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Kevin and Lisa

Waiting at the Station

My flight to Oregon was without incident. The airports were crowded, but not the madhouse I thought they might be. After the usual wait, I hopped on a light rail train and rode out to the Parkrose/Sumner Transit Center, where Lisa normally collects me. She wasn't there, but looking at the mass of traffic on adjacent I-205 and the long queue on the surface street leading by the transit center, I assumed that she was stuck in traffic. Unfortunately for me, I forgot to carry my ham radio with me, and Lisa won't use a mobile phone.

After half an hour or so, I started to worry a little. I called her father to make sure that she had not had any problem getting away from Mehama. It started to get cold as the sun set, so I bundled up a bit and walked up and down the station area. More time passed. Fortunately, it was not raining. On a whim, I fired up my computer. To my amusement, it found at least two open wireless links -- both belonging to nearby hotels. The signals weren't quite strong enough to stay up and running, though.

Finally, I spotted Lisa's VW Vanagon in the queue for the station, so I shut down my computer and packed things up. She looked at me a little funny when she got out of the van. "You're early!" she said.

"No, actually, I was right on time into PDX," I said. "I thought you were stuck in traffic."

Come to find out that she'd got the arrival time wrong by an hour and thought my plane arrived at 4:30 instead of 3:30. Oh, well, no real harm done.

We decided to have dinner first and then go over to Beaverton to buy Lisa's Christmas present. Along the way, we stopped at a tobacco shop and bought her father some specialty pipe tobacco and a new pipe lighter. As neither of us are smokers, we know nothing about such things, and let the shop advise us based on what he normally smokes. Then it was to our usual Japanese restaurant, where I happily demolished a large bowl of curry chicken over rice.

Despite the mess of traffic on the main roads such as I-205 and 82nd Avenue, traffic on secondary streets and roads wasn't too bad, and we made good time across town over to the Uwajimaya grocery store in Beaverton. I had promised Lisa as a Christmas present to buy her a Japanese-style hot water pot along the same lines as those we had in some of our hotel rooms during the Japan trip this year. We were disappointed to find that while they had a large selection of electric hot water kettles, they were mostly all relabeled for the baka gaijin Americans. In particular, those that had temperature gauges had been relabeled in Fahrenheit, which Lisa doesn't comprehend, having been raised metrically. Also, all of the Japanese-made pots had electric water pumps activated by switches. The only ones that had simply manual pumps were Chinese-made, and Lisa will not buy Chinese-made products under most circumstances. So that was a bust. The reason for buying here in Beaverton was to avoid the hassles of shipping and sales taxes. Had we known it was going to be so difficult, we might well have bought one in Japan, where, as Lisa observed, they have not yet surrendered their entire domestic manufacturing industry to the Chinese.

We then headed for Mehama with a stop in Salem to buy groceries, after which we settled in for my stay this holiday week.
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