You are here

Back home, bureaucratic frustration

I kept some notes on the kernel summit and the plumbers conference, but my resolve to write it all up here has failed me. Fortunately, seems to have gone to almost everything that I did.

So, random other highlights from the Portland trip:

Sara arrived Thursday, and Sunday I visited Nat and Cheyenne again, this time with her along. Correction to a previous post: they appear to have two cats, not just one. It was slightly chaotic in a way that Sara especially got a kick out of. Dinner was yummy. The people and the animals were all fun.

Saturday night Doug and Nandini took us out to a good Tapas place. There was an hour wait, so we sat upstairs and had cocktails. After a minor free-table-notification screwup, they comped us the cocktails and a desert. (Language question: is that a correct usage of the verb "to comp"?)

That afternoon we had lunch with a favorite Reed professor: Sara's calculus teacher and my undergraduate research advisor. He pointed out that he's both my academic father and uncle, since he and Mel were both Shimura students.

The night Sara arrived we met at an alumni gathering at the Green Dragon. One woman there had once worked for Bell labs, on a project to achieve some extreme level of government certification for an old unix-based windowing system. In her retirement she's making ministerial stoles. Another guy had recently retired from doing backend computer stuff for TriMet--which has probably the most advanced internet presence of any public transport system.

Friday night we met Andreas G. and a couple other Linux guys at India House. Sara and I last ate there probably 14 years ago, and it's not far from our old apartment building, which we also walked by earlier in the day. The food was good, and the conversation fun.

What have I forgotten? Oh, Sunday lunch we went to some crazy birthday-party-oriented Japanese all-you-can-eat place at the top of Pioneer Place, thanks to an old fellow math major, now an actuary, and his wife. He tried to teach us some odd Malay sayings.

We took the new "aerial tram" ("cable car" would be more descriptive) up to OHSU and back.

I guess it was a busy trip!

Portland smells funny, with or without the rain. There's tons of people, and a few of them are unpleasant. We heard a little about school funding problems and racist street kids.

But there just seems to be a surprising number of people investing their time in fun stuff--from the cyclists (tons of cycle commuters everywhere, and much more disciplined than you see in Ann Arbor) to the Linux folks, to the jugglers. And it's neat to see my old friends going off in such different directions and still seeming to find a niche there.

And they have grocery stores there, something I took for granted before I moved to Ann Arbor.

So Portland's position at the top of my favorite-city list seems secure for now.


The last couple days I've just been trying to catch up with my sleep and my inbox.

Even more mundane: this morning I tried to order a new laptop keyboard--my right-arrow key's been getting flaky lately. I couldn't figure out how to order parts from Dell's website, so I clicked on an "online chat" button in frustration. That brought me some guy who was a little too scripted but nevertheless managed to get a quote into my mailbox in a reasonable amount of time. Now, what was I supposed to *do* with this quote? I tried replying to the email. No luck. I tried calling back and leaving a message. No luck there either. Finally I called someone else, who eventually took my credit card and (I hope) placed my order.

The "eventually" part: she seemed to have some overly long script which I guess was meant to sell me up. No, I've already maxed out the memory and didn't want to upgrade it. No, I don't want to explain why my "antivirus" isn't up-to-date. No, I really don't want to explain what I'm using this laptop for. I eventually realized that it didn't matter much how I answered, so I started throwing out stuff like "it's complicated" and "I don't know", which seemed to serve the purpose of advancing us to the next step whether my answers made sense or not.

All I wanted to do was buy a fifteen-dollar part, people! How complicated do we have to make this?