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December 29th, 2006

Well, it was a good trip. A short one this time–just two weeks in the U.S., and Sachi was with me for only the last seven days. But we packed a lot into that short time.

Right now, I am sitting at gate 100 at SFO, hearing them page Sachi for the nth time. We had a bit of a mix-up, and thought we’d be going to the same terminal (we have different flights). Sachi went ahead just a few minutes, and we arranged it so that she would wait after getting through all the red tape. Then I find out that my flight leaves from the terminal at the other end. I try to get into her terminal to tell her, but despite the advice to do so from the guy at the information desk, the security wouldn’t let me in. I tried paging her, but the paging person keeps screwing up–mispronouncing her name, and then instead of saying “White Courtesy Phone please,” she says “Whitcurtsyphnpls” in a fast bunch at the end; I doubt Sachi can understand it, and if she knew what to do after a page, she’d have answered by now. So, as is my nature, I’m worrying that she’s wandering the airport trying to find me or something. I’m sure that I’m wrong, but as I said, worrying is my nature with stuff like this.

I just asked the courtesy telephone people to page only one last time, but this time I spoke to a guy. I told him that the female announcer was trying and that there should be just one last page before stopping. So a minute later the guy pages her, loud and clear–and then the woman comes on five seconds later, paging her again with the “Whitcurtsyphnpls” suffix. Poor Sachi, she must think that there’s something really serious going on. As usual, I’m making a mess of things. We’ll get it straightened out when we meet again in Narita.

Okay, we’re on our way back from Narita now. It turns out that Sachi indeed could not understand the announcer, but there was no problem; she realized as I did that we had different gates, so we just met up at Narita–where we could at least communicate by cell phone.

Anyway, the first week here by myself (Sachi came later due to work) I went birdwatching (as you have noted if you read this) and did some shopping. After the whole two weeks, I have come away with a new digital video camera (a cheap $230 Panasonic that performs surprisingly well for a cheapie), a similarly cheap 500GB firewire/USB external hard drive ($240, available for $245 at Amazon [price updated]), a new leather jacket for $80 (my old one was getting too worn), several new shirts and a few new jeans, a very nice knit zip-up sweater with a hood, and a new pair of dress shoes (maybe the priciest item for the value, at $200), plus a lot of miscellaneous items. Didn’t go so heavy on the DVDs this time–just a few News Radios, a season of Rockford Files, and a few others. I figure it doesn’t make sense to get movies on DVD for the next few years until I upgrade to HDTV and Blu-Ray and/or HD-DVD.

Sachi and I together went to San Francisco for a few days, seeing the sights and going shopping. There were family days (such as Christmas Eve, when we did the whole present-opening deal), and alone days (such as Christmas Day, when many in my family fell ill) and Sachi and I could spend time just together. We had a great stay for a couple of reasons: first, a good family friend let Sachi and I stay at her home, where we had lots of room and close proximity to my family without crowding them, and second, my father let us use his Prius (with all the bells and whistles) most of the time, and the GPS mapping feature alone saved us from unfolding maps in the car while parked at the side of the road many times.

But perhaps the biggest thing for me was that I did not suffer from some terrible malady. As you may recall if you’ve been here for a while, two years ago my Christmas vacation was muted by a serious nosebleed (massive, really) that virtually immobilized me, and last year I was hobbled by a broken foot suffered one week before I left for the U.S. Everyone (including myself) was wondering what would strike me down this year, but nothing did.

So all in all, it went very well.

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  1. December 29th, 2006 at 07:00 | #1

    What brand was the external HDD? That is an amazing price for 500gb!

  2. Luis
    December 29th, 2006 at 07:07 | #2

    It’s a Western Digital My Book Premium 500 GB Dual-interface HDD; I got it at Costco. It’s on sale at Amazon.com for $245. If you buy it from there, please do so through that link, I’ll get an Associate’s commission. But if you live near a Costco and are a member, call them up and see if they have them in stock.

    Update: Oops. My mistake. It was $240 at Costco. I should have checked before posting. Which means the Amazon price is almost the same.

    I am updating the post to reflect this. Still, it’s a very good deal, even at $240.

    There is a review for it here at CNET.

    The maor reviews are good, but user reviews at CNET and Amazon are mixed; several people report failures. Of course, the user reviews at these sites are magnets for dissatisfied customers–a satisfied customer is WAY less liable to post a review, so that element gets somewhat overemphasized. Also, some of the negative user reviews at Amazon seemed a bit clueless–people claiming that it can’t be used with a power strip or with a Mac. But there still could be issues with the drive, so as always, caveat emptor.

  3. December 29th, 2006 at 17:59 | #3

    I am still pondering it at this point, but that is an excellent price. If I do it, I will go through your link:)

  4. ykw
    December 30th, 2006 at 05:05 | #4

    What’s with the $200 shoes?

  5. Luis
    December 30th, 2006 at 14:33 | #5

    Sean: Thanks!

    YKW: They’re dress shoes. Not always cheap.

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