News from July 2006

July Fourth

Occurred July 04, 2006 (Permalink)

Hm... for the fourth, I went on a bike ride to Sellwood with Hanna, rode about the city looking for open houses afterwards, went to trivia with Lara and Eliza, played darts at Eliza's until the wee hours of the morning, and went to a barbeque way out in the mountains. As usual, I went to watch the fireworks afterwards, and noticed (a) that there were a lot of fireworks going off in all directions and (b) there were a lot of drunken idiots nearly setting themselves or the park on fire. Sigh.

Powell Butte

Occurred July 08, 2006 (Permalink)

Bright and early Saturday morning, I woke up, hauled the bike out of the garage for the first time since Thursday, and pedalled off in the direction of Eliza's house in Sellwood. That was a surprisingly long 6.9 mile ride, though pretty much a straight shot southwards on 45th/43rd/42nd/41st from NE Davis to SE Bybee. To my great surprise, most of the southward shot made a good workout, as the route is primarily *uphill*. The reward, of course, is that Bybee is very sharply downhill from 39th all the way to Reed College, some 15 blocks away. Following my newly found bike paths through Sellwood, I navigated my way over to the lookout from SE 13th Ave over to Eliza's.

After a good half hour of cooling off, we had assembled most of a crew to head out on a biking adventure: Cheryl, myself, Eliza, Lara and Rick (offsite). (Dave, as his unfortunate wont, ate it on the way over and didn't show up until later in this story.) The five of us wormed our way out of Sellwood and onto the east-west Springwater Corridor (offsite) at SE 45th Ave. From there, we pedalled eastward along this former railroad via past unripe blackberries, cattails, strange tasting purple flowers and other cotton-y shrubs past SE 82nd, past I-205, past the 130s all the way to Powell Butte. (~8mi)

Powell Butte (offsite) is a flat top plateau in outer Southeast Portland. There are myriad foot and bike trails up to the top, though the top is curiously devoid of dense forest for mostly good views towards St. Helens up north. We had lunch at the top before heading back down and observing the houses encroaching upon the western boundaries of the park.

Heading back, it was very hot. In fact, a temperature gauge that we saw at SE Foster said that it was 89F. Eliza stopped us several times to gather plants for a dinner salad, and Lara suggested that we stop at New Seasons' free ice cream tasting. Quite a good suggestion in the short term, (ice cream in an air-conditioned store!) but my mouth was hot and sugary for hours after that! Cheryl and I went northward along the Willamette River towards town (~4mi); she went off on her own, but I wimped out and took the MAX back to 60th and rode the remaining mile up the hill. Total mileage: ~29.5.

Several naps later, I realized that everybody was coming over for dinner. Jumping on the internet, I grabbed a delectable-sounding recipe (offsite) for chicken and bowtie pasta. As is customary, I made a few modifications to the recipe (most notably substituting sun-dried tomatoes for the oven-dried ones) and hurriedly prepared the dish. Also as is customary, everyone showed up some time after 7, yet I wasn't done cooking yet. I'm always late these days. But, as Steph's shirt says, "always late but worth the wait"-- the pasta was very tasty and the marinade effective. Dave and Sarah brought some wonderful cakes and salad; Eliza brought some sort of spicy vegetable stew that was quite good. A good conversation was had by all, and unlike the last party, I didn't fall asleep!


Occurred July 12, 2006 (Permalink)

Tonight I took Ann to Nostrana (offsite), an Italian restaurant on SE 14th and Morrison. She and Pete had been here before and recommended it as a really good restaurant; hence Ann wanted to go back there. Having been named as the Oregonian's 2006 Restaurant of the Year, there was a rather shocking hourlong wait to get a table on a Wednesday night--certainly something that rarely seems to happen in Portland! (Better over-busy than deserted, said Ann)

The restaurant started us with a somewhat small loaf of bread that had been pre-oiled in the kitchen. Fortunately, the fullness of the restaurant appears to be a result of high popularity and not just a slow kitchen, as they took our orders and brought the food fairly quickly once we were seated. I started the evenign with a really tasty vegetable soup of some sort. I seem to recall it had a buttery yellow sauce and some greens--peas would be wrong, but that's the closest I'll ever come to remembering. Next was a steak with beets that was really quite flavorful and juicy; the beets provided a tangy contrast to the meat. I wrapped up the meal with a chocolate budino, which while very rich wasn't terribly interesting. I daresay I may be losing my taste for chocolate.

T40 Disassembly

Occurred July 13, 2006 (Permalink)

I dismantled my laptop tonight.

Highland Games

Occurred July 15, 2006 (Permalink)

This being the third Saturday in July, the Portland Highland Games (offsite) were held out in Gresham. Like last year, I danced twice with the class demonstration team, and this year I was paired with Chandi, one of the other youngsters in the class. This year's games were very similar to last year's--the same booths and events were held, and pretty much in the same locations as last year. This time, however, it was less hot and I was suffering from less sensory overload, which meant that I got to see more of the games.

First, the dancing: I forgot that the time had been changed to 9:30, so my 9:20 arrival meant that I arrived literally just in time for the first dance. Fortunately, my brain had the time to start up on the drive over, so I was less bewildered than the time I showed up 5 minutes late to a math midterm. :) The first set went well--no palpable screw-ups, etc. The second set, at 14:30, was a bit awry because the fiddlers took longer and the sound guy was slow, and something weird happened to the music during the second dance. Oh well. More than a few people said that Chandi and I looked good dancing together. I've also been invited to join the real demonstration team next year!

Continuing my habit of assembling my Scottish dress in between dancing sets at the games, this year I bought a black Balmoral hat, which I'm told looks very snappy on me. I actually haven't managed to see myself with it in a mirror yet. Though the prices of everything are a bit elevated at the Games, it provided me with a good opportunity to survey the various clothing vendors' products in a rapid fashion and find the one with the best price. I know, very Chinese of me. At the moment, I have a balmoral, a kilt, a belt, hose, ghillies and flashes. Still no jacket, sporran or tie, though the red bowtie never fails to impress.

For the opening ceremonies, the MacKenzie clan adopted me to march in the parade. I'm pretty sure that I was the only non-Scot in the clan march. Later, I found out that the clan tents were far away on a different field and went over to have a look; most clans appear to have some sort of society, which puts up a tent and invites people from near and far branches of the clan to show up and socialize. I wonder what the Chinese do for things like this?

The only athletic event that I saw this year was the caber toss. One guy did a really good job with the throw and scored a 12:15, where 12:00 is considered to be perfection.

Five months ago, I mentioned in "Corrupting the Youth" that one girl at Benson High understood my Dwayne Dibley joke. This afternoon, I was standing by the SCD booth (still in Scottish regalia) when I feel a poke on my shoulder. It's the same blond girl, who's really pumped that (a) she spotted an Asian Scot in a giant crowd of nearly all Caucasians and (b) it turned out to be the same guy who was nerdy enough to know about Red Dwarf. I say, I've gotten to the point where I can go to nearly anything that's even vaguely popular around town and run into someone unexpectedly. Sort of like how it used to be with grandma and Chinatown.

To cap the day, Chandi and I went to the celidh afterwards and hung out together until 20:00. She was tired and went home; I went to Eliza's for a barbeque.

152gal of Ivy...

Occurred July 16, 2006 (Permalink)

...are now sitting on the curb in trash bags.

Catalyzing Open Driver Development

Occurred July 19, 2006 (Permalink)

		Mt. Adams
Mt. Adams

Presentation went fairly well today; despite my anticipations of low turnout, there were a surprising number of people who showed up and asked interesting questions. Luckily, there were enough kernel developers with an interest in driver issues in the audience to answer questions too. :) Paper and slides for those of you who weren't there. Neither Alexis nor I got murdered. :)


Occurred July 20, 2006 (Permalink)

		Westward at Gatineau During Sunset
Westward at Gatineau During Sunset

So here we are in Ottawa for the 2006 OLS (offsite) conference. After several nights of hanging out in pubs and York St. outdoor cafes for dinner, Alexis and I decided to get away from the rampant after-conference drinking that goes on with some regularity. We headed across the river into Gatineau, which is of course in Québec towards a French crêperia named L'Argoät. The menu was all in French, though the waiter was more than willing to tell us English-speakers what everything meant, so I abandoned my effort to recall junior-high French when his descriptions became too delicious.

If I recall correctly, Alexis had two crêpes: one with a big egg in side and a second with chocolate and banana flambé. I had one with seafood (mussels, clams and prawns), a second with apples, and later decided to get the one that Alexis had as a third. I daresay that I enjoyed it better than Ti Couz, though flying all the way to Ottawa is a tad expensive. In any case, we downed the crêpes with cider, wine, and port. I'm very glad that we ditched the OLSers for a night and had a quiet evening in a cozy restaurant where we wouldn't have to think about Linux at all.

The Amazing Race

Occurred July 23, 2006 (Permalink)

Begin: 13:05 GMT, 23 July 2006. PDT = GMT - 7 hours.

		Parliament Hill
Parliament Hill

Ahh, what a beautiful morning in Ottawa! The yearly Linux Symposium had been a rousing success, and the closing of which had been celebrated with vigorous cheer. Our heroes Darrick and Alexis awoke, checked out of our hotels, and started home. The task seems simple: Get from downtown Ottawa to the airport, fly to Chicago, fly to Portland, pick up baggage, and drive home. The first challenge was to find a way to the airport. Luckily, a marketing guy turned up in the lobby and they got themselves a ride to the airport in his rental car. Time: 13:55 GMT.

Upon reaching the airport, it was observed by our pair there were many bedraggled nerds stumbling through the airport as well. The flight from Ottawa to Chicago went without a hitch, and our pair queued up at gate B7 in O'Hare for the continuation to Portland. The plane landed bumpily, much to the chagrin of Alexis, at about 17:50 GMT.

However, disaster struck as soon as Darrick went to the little boys' room for a refresher: "We're sorry, but this flight has no pilots. We are trying to fly them out from New Orleans." Ten minutes later, the flight and many others just like it had been cancelled... and everybody had walked away from the gate, leaving Darrick confused. Yes, the mighty United Airlines had become untied. Time: 19:05 GMT.

The next challenge facing our contestants was the customer service desk. Tired and hungry, our intrepid travelers were tipped off that the trick to getting out of this mess was to call a number and have our flight plans changed. Luckily, Darrick's cell phone worked, Alexis dialed the number and two possibilities were offered: Standby on an AA flight that would arrive at 03:15 GMT the next day, or bounce to Portland via Las Vegas, which would arrive at 09:00 GMT. Well, our heroes chose to reserve the longer flight and try to make the earlier one. Time now: 21:50 GMT.

Unfortunately, neither Darrick nor Alexis realized the sheer size of Chicago O'Hare airport. The Ottawa flight dropped them off in terminal C, the service desk was in B, and the American flight was to go out of H. This involved going from terminal 1 to 3 by traversing the entire length of 2! Arriving at gate H13, the two travellers were told to wait, as the San Diego flight had not left yet, but the Portland flight check-in was next. Fair enough. Time: 22:45 GMT.

Time: 23:15 GMT. The Portland flight is replaced by a New Orleans flight. A flight attendant manning the gate assures us the Portland flight is still going out of H13. Dinner consists of bagels and chocolate milk, a far cry from the creperia in Gatineau that the duo had enjoyed several nights before.

23:50 GMT: Neither of our travelers make it on the plane. Dejected, they leave for the Vegas flight in E concourse. On the way, they notice a medical clinic and a giant interactive TV panel. A telephoned weather report indicates 108F in Las Vegas. When Darrick and Alexis arrived at the (sole) America West gate, their staff, bewildered by their roughed up and probably smelly appearance, tried to tell them that they were on standby:


roared Alexis. They were given assigned boarding passes. The flight boards ten minutes late, at 01:00 GMT on 24 July. Even at this late hour, there was a noticeable contingent of formerly United and now desperate travelers hungrily eyeing the gate like a sailor anticipating shore leave. By this time, one of our travelers was itching to get home and the other was loony from exhaustion and defeatat the hands of the airlines and singing city-themed songs. There's only so much a man (or woman) can take of "Viva Las Vegas!" Darrick starts to wonder if he should shut up. But he lacks the mental capacity to do anything about it, and the only expression on her face is "We're going westward; I don't care." Meanwhile, a traveler to Oakland regaled her with tales of MD5 and filesystems. And we thought Darrick was boring...

One thing that we forgot to note in the previous paragraph is that, having last minute bookings, Alexis and Darrick were seated quite far apart on the Vegas flight. Indeed, Darrick was stuck in the second to last row of the A320. Luckily, this was not to be a problem...

		Las Vegas
Las Vegas

Time: 06:05 GMT. The plane set down in Vegas, and Darrick lost Alexis in the exit crowd. Already sleep deprived (four hours' sleep in the past thirty-eight at this point), he was suffering from sensory overload and stumbled around Las Vegas airport like a drunken idiot. Funny, since that had been _last_ night's activity. Not really knowing where to go, he headed towards the bright lights of the in-terminal casino and crashes into gate B11, which just happens to be the correct gate for the flight. Needless to say, Darrick's vision had begun to fail at this point and he nearly missed encountering Alexis, who was sitting right next to the gate counter. The plane, another A320, was 40 minutes late from Baltimore. Their takeoff time was 07:30 GMT, and they land at approximately 09:32 GMT, safe and sound in Portland.


At last, the pair reached their destination city, Portland. Now the question is, where had the suitcases gone? Nobody in the intermediate cities had been able to tell our two heroes where their checked luggage might be, so the fearless duo took it on faith that even if they did not make a direct flight, the bags had either followed them, found a faster way home, or would be on the way. If only Alexis could be checked, the answer to this question would be known. Unfortunately, America West has the only open luggage office; the gravelly-voiced lady files a claim for the two of them and says "It'll probably be on the first United flight in the morning."

Finally, it was time to drive home. The two searched the Portland airport's long term lot for the valiant litle Civic that they had left their oh so long ago, and drove out. Current time: 10:05 GMT. Suffice it to say, they are not coming in to work today, as it was 10:23 GMT when Darrick walked in the front door of his house, and 11:05 GMT when Alexis reached hers.

End: 11:05 GMT, 24 July 2006. Twenty-two hours of travel.


Occurred July 31, 2006 (Permalink)

		Full Kilt Regalia, July 2006
Full Kilt Regalia, July 2006

What you've all wanted: Pictures of my kilt.

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