May 26, 2007

Application sent!

I mailed off my Australia visa application, and all the supporting materials to go with it, today. If all goes well, I should have further info on the work program in a few weeks (depending on when my mom forwards the info to me, since it has to be mailed to a US address). Hopefully it can help me get a job and find a place to live. Plus it will come with an Australia Lonely Planet, which will be nice to look through.

Oh, two things I forgot to add to my list of Portland stuff in my last post:

- Cost of more than 12 hours of parking at a garage in downtown Portland on a Saturday: $5 (!!!)
- Amount of weight my suitcase gained between the trip there and the trip back: 19.25 pounds (8.73 kg) (no smart aleck remarks about how much weight I may have gained during the same period)

May 25, 2007

Some words on my trip

I returned from Portland on Wednesday morning. Some brief snapshots of my trip...

- Number of Simpsons episodes watched (after not seeing an episode in so long): 5 1/2 (I fell asleep during one when I was still jetlagged).
- Number of visits to Powell's: 3 to the main downtown store, 1 to the Beaverton store (to see Daniel Handler and Colin Meloy) and 1 to the airport store while I was killing time til my flight.
- Number of books purchased at Powell's: 6, plus a map of Melbourne
- Number of (semi-) random people I went up and started talking to: 3
- Number of times I ate a burger on my own in my motel room: 3
- Number of times I ate dinner out in a restaurant on my own: 2
- Number of honest-to-goodness Dutch bakfietsen I saw in Portland: 1
- Number of hipsters I saw riding retro cruiser bikes: lost track of how many
- Amount of money charged to my credit card: yeah, let's not go there...

- Overheard at JC Penney's in Clackamas Town Center, a mom talking to her 5 or 6-year-old son who was messing about with the arm of a mannequin in the store: "If it falls off, they have to replace it with a human arm, you know. And whose arm do you think they're gonna use?"

- While doing some grocery shopping with my mom, she was complaining about my dad, whose memory is getting worse and worse. As we got to the end of an aisle, she was saying "I give up! Honestly and truly, I just give up!" And we turned the corner and there was a manager-looking woman from the grocery store. She looked a bit concerned and asked my mom "Is there anything I can help you find?" and my mom said no, but the woman was like "Are you sure? Is there something you're having trouble finding?" My mom answered "No, I'm just trying to lose a husband" which the woman didn't really know how to respond to, so she just said "Ok..." and walked on. My mom and I then had a bit of a giggle.

Photos from the trip to come soon (hopefully)...

May 9, 2007

Does it help with their attitude as well?

I just read about this system developed in the US that uses a wireless network in a restaurant to allow the customers to have control over the service provided to them, so they aren't waiting too long, or being pestered too often by the waiter (thanks to Little Lost Robot for the link). Instantly I thought, "Oh my god, think how much you could improve the service at Dutch restaurants!! You'd have a link to the staff to remind them that you're still there!"

Ok, it's easy to rag on Dutch service in restaurants, everyone does it, but it can be fairly appalling. There's not much you can do since it's so much the norm. I just try to appreciate and reward people who actually seem to do their job well and with pride.

I just had to snort though at some of the statements on the webpage for this system. "Due to service inefficiencies, the average casual-dining meal runs 14 minutes longer than necessary." "Have you ever been at a restaurant and had to wait 10 minutes or more for the check before you could leave?" ...Oh my god! These people don't know how good they have it! Waiting for 10-15 minutes for the server to come... If only. Well, I'll get my fill of horrible American service in the next couple of weeks. If that check ain't there before I'm finished eating, no tip for you!

May 7, 2007

Coming up

I'm counting down the days until I leave for my trip to the US on Saturday. Overall I'm looking forward to it, though any time spent with my parents will be a bit rough, I think. I'll be treating my mom and myself to pedicures though as a Mother's Day present and it'll be nice to have a few hours of just the two of us.

I continue to add things to my list of things to get while over in cheap-dollar, no-sales-tax land. I plan to pack quite light so that I have plenty of room to bring things back. Normally O and I take a smaller suitcase as well, but I don't want to lug it around on my own, plus I'll have our large suitcase to myself, so it should be fine. Not looking forward to next month's credit card bill after this trip.

With all the sunny weather we had here, I kept imagining the same for Portland, which may not be the case, but at the moment it seems it'll be ok for my first couple of days there. Even if it rains, I can hole up in Powell's, or check my email at the library, or go to a coffee shop and have chai and read AT 10 O'CLOCK AT NIGHT. Or do just about anything at 10 o'clock at night (though with jetlag it is unlikely I will often be up at 10 o'clock at night). Bless US opening hours.

I am sort of looking forward to having my trip to the US done with so that I can fully focus on planning for Australia. By the time I return from Portland, it'll be only about 3 months till I leave for the Australia trip. So much to plan in that time...