Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee
kevin_standlee

Looking for the Bright Side

While it's inconvenient and expensive -- $100/day hotel room plus meals -- I reckon that being stuck here in Tempe while we wait for the repairs to be finished on the pickup truck could be worse. The hotel room is decently comfortable. The staff of the Tempe Mission Palms Hotel have been very nice and very cooperative. Downtown Tempe, which is right outside the hotel's door, is pleasant enough as long as you stay out of the sun, with lots of places to eat and services like the CVS/pharmacy a few blocks down Mill Avenue. There's a local free circulator bus system that will take us to most of the places that are beyond walking distance that we might want to go while we are here (including the car shop where the pickup is right now). The internet connection in the room is solid and sufficiently fast for me to get my work done, and it's included in the room cost instead of contracted out as a separate profit center. I could use Skype to attend the two conference calls for which I was scheduled yesterday, and I can log in to my work machines as easily here as if I were at home -- that is, they haven't blocked VPN access the way some hotels' systems seem to have done.

Lisa took the pickup truck to a mechanic yesterday, as I wrote then. They called back while we were at lunch -- with my telephone's battery dead, the only contact number they have is the hotel -- and gave us the verdict. The bearings in one wheel need to be repacked, and the rear brakes need turning. There are other things that should also be done, but some of those things need custom parts that are back in Oregon, and those repairs will get Lisa back on the road. Estimated cost: $750. But the truck needs new tires, as well. Lisa had originally expected to nurse the truck through this trip and replace the tires when she got home, but it appears that some of the other problems have exacerbated the wear on the tires, and so as soon as she has the truck again, she plans to take it down the street to Big O tires for new tires as well.

The car shop says that if the parts they need arrive this morning, they should have the pickup done late today. We decided that means Lisa can't leave until tomorrow, and we therefore extended the hotel room stay one more night. I still plan to fly back tonight on an 8 o'clock flight to Oakland. Even if the mechanic's shop needs to keep the truck an extra day, I'll need to go with Lisa there sometime late this afternoon and pay for the repairs since I have all of the credit cards.

On the way to lunch, we checked the Cricket wireless store here in downtown, and not surprisingly, they did not have a charger that fit my phone. After eating, we went to what the Verizon web site identified as the nearest store, which was on the campus of ASU. On the way there, Lisa had us stop and buy sunscreen for me and she insisted that I wear her hat to keep the sun off my head. Unfortunately, while the student union building was open, the Verizon kiosk was closed for the summer, so we walked back to the hotel. It was only 2 km each way, but in the 42C heat it was a pretty severe chore, and harder on Lisa than me. At the room, we called the auto shop, returning their message and getting the prognosis on the truck, and I went back to work for the afternoon, while Lisa took a bath and tried to cool down.

After work, we consulted the local transit schedules and Verizon Wireless stores. The next-closest store appears to be at the Tempe Marketplace, a "power center" outdoor mall. It's about 4 km from here, and in any non-scortching climate, I wouldn't have mind walking it, especially as I had scored an afternoon blood sugar in the high 170s. But in this heat, it's not a good idea. Besides, one of the free "Orbit" buses goes relatively directly between the Tempe Transportation Center (which is a block from the hotel) to the Tempe Marketplace.

Lisa and I think that a "power center" is a stupid sort of commercial development to begin with, particularly when the architecture encourages people to drive from one part of the complex to another. I suppose it may be more energy efficient to have outdoor swamp coolers (misting towers) than air conditioning, but why the heck do they have gas fireplaces running in this place when it's more than 40C outside?

Our first stop on the trudge from the bus stop to the Verizon store was an outdoor store, where we bought me a new floppy hat to wear in this heat. Yes, I suppose I look silly in the hat, but it's better than turning beet red and burning what hair I still have off the top of my head. Then we went into the Verizon store and asked for a replacement charger. To my annoyance, they informed us that they didn't stock a charger for a phone that old. I bought it about a year ago. This is so stupid. It appears that the phone manufacturers change power connectors about every two or three weeks. Among the various reasons this is stupid is the terrible ecological waste. I have several old phones in a closet, all of which have mutually-incompatible chargers. The current stable-as-a-wave-in-water designs are creating e-waste at a ferocious pace.

Manufacturers should agree on a common standard for mobile phone chargers, or else the government should impose one. I'd prefer the former, but it seems that commercial forces are not producing the most efficient, ecological approach. Is there some reason they can't use a common standard like mini-USB (chargers for which I did see hanging in the store)? If they used that, it seems like it would be easy enough to charge one's phone out of one's laptop. If I had that, I wouldn't have to carry a separate charger and could just use a lighter adapter cable in my computer bag. My current phone has about nine months left on its contract. I am going to have to make a point of paying attention to the charger connection as a selection point the next time I change mobile phones.

Anyway, after the frustration with the telephone, and no Jamba Juice in this mall in which to drown our sorrows, we trudged through the heat back to the bus stop, having to run to catch the next bus back to downtown Tempe. Then we returned to the room and recovered for a while. We thought that perhaps we could finally take a ride on the light rail system, and headed for the stop out back of the hotel. With no particular destination in mind, we planned on buying day passes and catching whichever train next came by. Unfortunately, as we approached the station, trains came and went both ways, so Lisa decided not to bother, as it would have been another fifteen minutes' wait for the next ones, and it was already after 8 PM.

Instead of a "joyride" on the light rail, we walked down Mill Avenue, picked up a few more things at CVS, and then back up the street. After considering several dining options, we ended up going to My Big Fat Greek Restaurant for the sixth time. The staff there have us memorized by now. Our server escorted us to our "usual table" and remembered what we were going to order. I said, "Don't take this personally, but I hope you won't be seeing us again, at least not for a long time," and explained why we were here in "overtime."

From our table, we could see the Diamonbacks-Padres baseball game on the monitors. Had the Giants been in town, I think I would have made more of an effort to have gone to the game. After all, the light rail goes to the ballpark, so getting there would have been a breeze.

After dinner, we needed a walk, but with the sun down, it was not nearly so unpleasant. We explored the area some more, finding things like a nearby laundromat (which would have been handier for Lisa if most of her clothes weren't still locked up in the camper shell on her pickup) and the former Tempe train station (now a restaurant). We walked under the light rail bridge that crosses the Salt River, and admired the LED light sculpture. Standing under the bridge, watching the lights pulse across the bridge, Lisa said, "Charge the laser cannon!"

We then circled back home by way of Tempe Beach Park. By then, it was nearly 11 PM, and we'd had a pretty long day, with fair bits of highly unwanted stress, not all of which I've detailed here. We were both highly on edge despite the walking, and it took a long time to wind down.

We've been making the most we can manage of this sojourn in Tempe, and I guess I shouldn't complain too much, but I'm very aware of how much money this is costing us.
Tags: lisa, travel
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