December 20th, 2008

Conrunner Kevin

Connected From PDX, Sort Of

My flight SFO-PDX was completely routine, with none of the weather woes besetting people throughout the land today. Indeed, the combination of very clear skies and cold weather meant that we got an excellent view of The Geysers, which I've never actually seen before.

We have light snow at PDX. As planned, once I got clear of the plane, I called Cheryl (who had rode with me to the airport to take the van back home so she can use it while I'm away) to let her know that I'd arrived. Then I called Lisa, who says she expects to be here around Noon. I told her not to hurry, and she said she'd take that advice. Besides needing to take things slowly on the icy roads, there's the little matter of getting the house (and her) warmed up enough to get moving.

I decided to eat breakfast at Gustav's because I like their sausage, and have therefore trusted that United will take care of my checked luggage until I call for it later this morning. Fingers crossed. Somehow they lost my breakfast order and had to re-submit it, but I told them that there was no hurry and I'm not fussed over it.

The wireless connection is showing as strong, but there must be a lot of people using it because it took a long time to actually connect. And if the problem with this computer stays as it has been, once the wireless card "warms up," I'll lose the signal.

Speaking of computers, while going through Terrorization, I noticed that my spare computer didn't have a battery in it. I'd removed it when I went to Chicago so I'd have an extra spare on that trip. Fortunately, I'm carrying one spare battery with me on this trip, so both my laptops will have a battery.

And speaking of Terrorization, while I was putting myself back together at SFO, I witnessed a woman and her five-year-old girl who had the dreaded SSSS (suplemental security screening) visited upon them. The little girl looked at the air-puffing scanner and became hysterically frightened by it. The woman started to berate the TSA goon, yelling at him about how, "You cancelled my flight and how I have to go through this? She's only a five-year old, for God's sake!"

The TSA person stayed as calm as could be expected, pointing out (correctly) that he hadn't canceled anyone's flight -- a point probably lost on this woman, for whom all of the airport/airline people probably were the same "they" -- and that he was only doing his job.

While exiting the Terrorization Area, if it weren't for the fact that it might have gotten me arrested, I would have said to the woman as she sat there trying to console the little girl, "Don't you feel so much more Secure now?"

Now my breakfast has arrived, so it's time to put away the computer and eat before the food gets cold.
Kevin and Lisa

At Least There's Some Consistency

I took a walk around the concourse after breakfast, putting between 1000 and 1500 steps on my pedometer, and got a satisfactory blood sugar reading, which was a bit of relief, as I've been running high the last few days due to too much food and too little exercise.

As I rather expected, after half an hour or so, my main computer announced that there were no wireless networks to be found, while the other box (an identically-configured Dell Inspiron 600m familiar to some of you as the computer that normally powers the sound FX for Match Game SF but usually lives on top of my television set downloading rugby matches) continued to stay connected to the flypdx free wireless at Portland Airport. I think that if time permits while I'm up here, I'll do some more troubleshooting to see if I can further isolate the problem. For instance, I can do a "brain swap" by swapping the hard drives in the two computers just in case there's some sort of software problem (which seems unlikely, but I'm trying to close off all possible lines of evasion of responsibility from Dell's Hardware Support line). Having two identical computers makes this pretty easy, since everything is compatible. Assuming that confirms that the fault is in hardware, then I can try actually swapping the wireless cards and see if the problem still happens on the same machine. If it does, the fault is probably with the antenna rather than the card.

Meanwhile, I just got a call from Lisa's father telling me that she got underway a bit later than she originally expected and that I should hang tight for a while longer. That's okay with me -- I'm reasonably comfortable here in one of the PDX "Service Centers." The only minor inconvenience is that, as I'm traveling alone, when I need to go use the restroom, I have to pack up everything, there being nobody to watch my stuff for me.
Kevin and Lisa

From PDX to Mehama, Slowly

On Saturday afternoon, Lisa got to the Parkrose/Sumner light rail station around 1 PM so and radioed me, and I took a light rail train out to her. She wanted to stop by a friend's house and drop off a Christmas card before we headed south. With so much snow on the ground, nobody sensible was driving quickly, and Lisa took it very carefully in the Vanagon. Unfortunately, she missed the turn she wanted to make, but on the brighter side, that meant we went past a game store that we otherwise would have missed, and I suggested we stop and see if they had India Rails, which they did and which I bought.

We took what appeared to be a side street that would take us south from Sandy Blvd where we were to where we needed to be. However, no side streets were being cleared, and picking our way south was quite challenging. We saw people making their way on skis, which looked very efficient compared to what we were doing. At one point we got to an intersection, and when the light turned green, Lisa couldn't get enough traction to get moving on the slight upgrade. She had me get out and wave people around us. I was about to start pushing when she got the idea of coasting backwards slightly and getting a better run at the hill, and that worked. Eventually we got to her friend's house and she quickly ran in and dropped off the card.

We still had a long way to go. Traffic was very heavy and slow on I-205. We even considered stopping in a hotel for the night, but we kept plugging along. It took more than three hours to get to Salem, where we stopped and had dinner. We were going to do some shopping in Salem, but by then Lisa simply wanted to get us home, so we got onto highway 22 and headed east. I was a bit concerned about us being able to make it up the hill east of Salem (so was she), but once we cleared that hill, to our surprise the snow stopped falling and the roads cleared up. By the time we got to Stayton there was no snow at all, so she had us get a few groceries there before we went on to Mehama. It was pretty late by the time we arrived and we were both a bit frazzled.