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Oakland, CA

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Portland--Thursday and Friday. Posted on 10/14/2001.

Airline travel now means waking up godawful early. Last Thursday, awoke at 5am and headed to the airport with my coworker Janice. Being "premier" on United definitely has its advantages, though it didn't allow us any special treatment in the line snaking toward the security checkpoint--SFO's physical layout simply does not accommodate well the slowdown at the gate.

This is my third airline excursion since September 11, and a pattern emerges--get to the airport two hours ahead of time, get past security with an hour and a half to spare. This leaves lots of time for reading and playing on the laptop. A silver lining to airport policy is that the terminals are much calmer--since only ticketed passengers are allowed near the gate, the throngs are kept at bay, and waiting for your plane is much more pleasant.

Arriving in Portland around 10, we quickly retrieved a rental car and sped off to Hillsboro, a suburb. The trip lasted about 30 minutes, pointing up one of the obvious truisms of Oregon's Largest City--it's not that big. The Residence Inn proved to be oddly delightful accommodations--each room has a full kitchen, there is free full breakfast and dessert, the staff were gracious without being obsequious... All made for a very pleasant work stay for the night.

A remarkably helpful resource throughout my stay in Hillsboro and Portland was It pointed the way to dinner Thursday night--Syun, a Japanese restaurant with a remarkably broad set of culinary offerings, all prepared very well.

Janice decided to return Friday afternoon, but I stuck around to explore Portland a bit more. I'd found reasonably inexpensive lodging at the Clyde Hotel, a Registered Historic Landmark, which I guess means things are preserved in some original state, which would explain why there was no phone in my room (though, I guess they did have TeeVee back in the 20s).

Not quite sure what to do, I'd sent a shout out to see what was going on for the night. In harum scarum fashion, plans emerged from suggestions of various folks. The evening began with Alistair and I at the Rock Bottom Brewery--we've developed a tradition of chatting at brew pubs when we're in the same city--throwing back a much needed pint (layoffs had struck his company earlier in the week).

Alistair dropped out, Ben joined up, and Mitsu fetched us in his automobile for a trip to Esparza's for some Tex-Mex Portland-style. I'd never met Ben nor Mitsu before, and they'd never met each other--what transpired was not a single group conversation, but a set of parallel one-on-one conversations, mostly between Mitsu and me and Ben and me (as I was the point in common).

Chatting with Mitsu is like reading his website--conversations very quickly veer into the intellectual and abstract. After discussing the state of quantum mechanics (still quite a hotbed of discourse, I was surprised to hear) and performance art, Mitsu and I then bonded over our shared infatuation with Heather Anne, late of lemonyellow. Many sighs were had.

Continuing the revolving door, Mitsu took off, and Jenifer, Kent, and Brett showed up. Jenifer, hand in a cast, had driven down from her new home, Seattle, and Kent and Brett I'd met last week in Cambridge--I guess I'm not the only one always on the move. With no better plans at hand, we drove up to the Alibi for a night of karaoke spectating--none of us sang, hell, we hardly drank, but that didn't stop us from having a good time. Though I rediscovered my appreciation for California's no-smoking-in-bars law... My eyes stung upon leaving the place. To remember--"Whole Lotta Love", "Dead or Alive", and "Sweet Caroline" make for great sing-along tunes.

That did me for the night. It's funny what happens when you hang out with a bunch of people you hardly know, some of whom you've never met in person. In my experience, it usually ends up working out.... Stay tuned for tales of Saturday's travels.

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