Monday, March 24, 2003

Back from Portland
Just got back from Portland. There are some pics on our homepage. Go see them.

I had a terrible airport experience. Worst yet. As if someone heard my boastful reports of "I've never had a serious delay at an airport," and decided to set me straight. I was scheduled to fly out on Tuesday morning, right around 7 AM. Which of course, gets you to the airport no later than 5:30. Which of course, gets you out of bed right around quarter of 5. I boarded the plane and was settling into a comfortable slumber when the flight attendant announced over the PA that we had a flat and needed to deplane. Evidently flat tires on airplanes take about 1 1/2 hours to change. That unfortunately meant that I was going to miss my connecting flight out of St. Louis and so was rescheduled on a 10:30 departure to Chicago.

So I strolled through the airport. Had a hotdog. Bought a book and a magazine for $12 (which later were deemed "personal items" on my expense report and not reimbursed), and patiently waited for my 10:30 flight. As luck would have it, there was serious fog in Chicago and our plane was delayed about 45 minutes, which meant, you guessed it, I missed my connecting to Portland. The ticket agent tried to get me on a 12:30 through Dallas that would get me into Portlant at 6. What's the point of that, I thought, since I've already missed the work day?

I asked if there was anything later. The original flight through St. Louis was scheduled to depart at 4:25 and would get me into Portlant at 9:30. And you'll extend my trip through Friday? Great. Awesome. I left and went home to bed. Fortunately, third time really was the charm and I made it to Portland just as planned. Read about 1/2 of my non-reimburseable so-so book, She's Come Undone, by Wally Lamb. Sorry, after Mr. Chabon's masterpiece, nothing comes close. Not even an Oprah book. My apologies, Oprah.

Portland was incredible. Despite of (or because of) the gloomy, rainy weather, Portland is a very green city. Already in early March they have daffodils, tulips, and cherry blossoms. Some homes even had spray roses in bloom. It reminded me a bit of Ireland. And a bit of Pittsburgh. There are lots of hills and bridges in Portland, and the view of the city from the East Bank of the Willamette reminds me a bit of the view from Mt. Washington.

Although I was out there to work, I managed to squeeze a few fun things out of my 2 1/2 days. Went downtown to have lunch at McCormick & Schmicks, which is a chain, but a lovely one I must say. Lots of fresh seafood on the menu--I had shrimp and dungeness crab cakes--and some damn fine sour dough. Thursday night headed out the the Kennedy School, one of the very fine establishments of McMenamins restaurants and breweries. It's a brew pub in a renovated elementary school. Hmmm, sounds oddly familiar. There are two bars--"Detention" for smokers and "Honors" for non-smokers--and two restaurants. They also have a movie theater and a gymnasium, where a high school jazz band happened to be playing the night I was there. Plus, if you get really snookered on their fine Terminator Stout, you can always get a room. Yep I saw it all on Food Network, and then I lived it, Baby. I LIVED IT.

By far, the best part of my trip was my return flight home. Very uneventful, as compared to my trip out, but I saw something that changed my life. It was in O'Hare. It was in the ladies room. It was an automatic plastic toilet seat cover. You held your hand over a sensor and the used plasic covering over the toilet seat would rotate and retract to reveal a sanitized-for-your-protection bumb buffer. Yes, people, that's progress you can SIT on. God bless the USA.

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