Wednesday, July 11

My last blog ended in the middle of Day Two. After Jim and I trespassed at Google on Wednesday, I sat in the trailer and did some writing and advanced my growing relationship with Google Maps. So far, we're Best Friend's Forever. But I sense romance in our's very like a husband-wife relationship: I tell it where we're going, it tells me how to get there...and then if, while driving, I decide on a different way, I just take that and risk getting lost. So far, so good. As I mentioned in the last blog, I had dinner plans with some friends, and figured I'd run an errand on my way to them. I wanted to get my car stereo replaced. The Sony I have is fine, I love it (don't get jealous, Google Maps, it's not like that), but now that I'm nearly married to my iPod (ugh, techno-monogamy in this modern age is sooo difficult!), I wanted to get a stereo that I can plug my iPod into. I bought from eBay one of those car charger/iPod holders that also broadcasts your iPod onto radio frequencies...but its latter function is extremely weak. It was still a bargain as just a car charger/holder for the price I paid. But I've wanted to maximize my iPod/car driving experience...I've got so many podcast sermons I want to listen to, and it's too frustrating when the radio frequency sounds like they are being broadcast with static included for no extra charge. So I Googled "Fry's Electronics" in the area and drove to one.

I've been to a handful of "Fry's Electronics." In fact, it was the "Fry's" in Burbank that put in my previous Sony car stereo. For those of you perhaps unfamiliar with "Fry's," it's a huge electronics store with just about everything you can think of. If it needs to be plugged in, you can buy it at Fry's. And of course they also carry stuff you USE with thing you plug games, DVDs, music, CDs...they even have magazines. They also specialize in computers...down to the smallest component in building a computer yourself. You can get everything there...and in the checkout line, they even prey upon your vices and temptations like no other store, with tons of impulse-buy items between you and the registers.

I should take this moment to answer the question nearly everyone at Fry's asks me when I'm checking out: "No." I'm not related to the Fry brothers that began the company. Anyway, the entire reason I bring all that up is because this particular Fry's is stunning. It's not only huge, but it's the cleanest, nicest looking, friendliest Fry's I've ever been in. The one in Burbank was okay, and the one in Manhattan Beach where I usually go is a pit. It's disorganized and many of the folks there are borderline rude. This Fry's was a shining example of efficiency and customer service. It even had a little cafe in the middle of it. I found another Sony car stereo for the right cheap price I wanted, but the installer guy wasn't going to have time to install it before they closed. I bought the stereo and made an install appointment for 9 the next morning.

Then I drove to the house of the Walkers: Tom, Carolyn, Marina and Karisa. I met Tom and Carolyn online on a message board about four or five years ago. I had occasion to have dinner with Tom and his brother, Mike, and a handful of other online friends years before. During that dinner, Carolyn called, so I had spoken to on the phone once, but we'd never met. Thus, the crushing, long hug we gave each other first thing at the door. We owed each other years worth of hugs. She's a sweet lady. (Don't let Tom catch you calling her Jenna. It's on old inside joke...she once said online that she liked the name Jenna and so some folks began calling her that as a new nickname. Of course, that was before my time at the message boards, so when she and I first spoke on the phone at that dinner years before, I was confused because I thought her name was really Jenna. Tom is not a fan of the nickname, and so it's a losing battle to refer to her that way, because he makes certain to remind everyone of her real name at nearly any mention of Jenna.)

Tom and Carolyn have two girls, Marina and Karisa. I forget their ages, but I think Karisa is in third grade and Marina is in 7th. Or something. We sat and visited a bit (they are die-hard Anaheim Ducks fans and showed off the decorations the girls had made in celebrating their recent Staley Cup win). I was offered soda but don't drink much, so I had water. Then Marina and Karisa wanted soda, and Marina made little name labels. Eventually, Tom enticed me with a bottle of root beer, and I had Marina make my bottle a name label. Later during dinner, I had a Dr. Pepper (two is my soda limit) and Marina made that a label also. So I lined them up and snapped a shot:

The Walkers are Mormons. No, I wasn't there to learn about Mormonism from them. They know where I stand on that, and they are very encouraging about my continued journey to become a stronger disciple of Christ. They joked that they should have had some missionaries stop by during dinner to practice on me. And then, during dinner, the doorbell rang. I joked that it was the missionaries, and Carolyn looked confused…they really weren't expecting anyone. When the girls answered the door, she shouted with shock…it was two young women, the local missionaries who had been walking the area but needed a ride to a pizza place where they were supposed to meet their host family for dinner. Totally unplanned coincidence, and very funny. We all laughed about it and Carolyn excused herself and drove them over.

After dinner, we walk up a hill across the street from their house, which gave a great view of the sunset and most of the San Jose part of Silicon Valley. Karisa wanted to hold my hand walking across the street, and then up the hill. It was sweet. Tom and I talked at length about his job situation, which is approaching a point of change. After our little outing, we returned to the house as it became dark. Tom suggested that I check out Multnomah Falls, east of Portland (which was my next stop). We took some pictures. Here's Marisa taking a picture of me taking a picture of her:

I returned to Jim & Susie's, and got in the trailer to get some sleep. I was leaving in the morning. My time in the Silicon Valley had been fun. It was all over, except for some pictures to take of Jim & Susie and the kids, and a car stereo installation in the morning.