I drop the bike off in the morning and retrieve it at the end of the day. Total bill: $122.25. A bargain. Thereís also no sales tax in Oregon. But the cops here ride BMWs. Thereís one in the shop for service, and Doug tells me the Oregon Highway Patrol has about 40 R1100RTs, specially outfitted with police lights, radios, and a place to mount a shotgun. BMW makes the bikes with all the police gear in Germany. The California Highway Patrol has about 400 of them, replacing the Harleys and Kawasakis. Seems the local governments have made ABS a requirement for official vehicles.
The rest of the day is spent getting a whirlwind tour of Eugene, with Monica as Tour Master. Our first stop is The University of Oregon. We head over to Hayward Field, where track legend Steve Prefontaine ran to victory under the instruction of legendary coach Bill Bowerman. Bowerman invented the waffle sole for running shoes and helped found Nike. Prefontaine, or Pre as the cheering crowd affectionately called him, was one of the greatest distance runners of all time. He was the first athlete to sign a deal with Nike, but tragedy cut his life short. On May 30th, 1975, he died after flipping his Gold MG on Skyline Drive in Henricks Park. When Pre died he held every American record from 2000 meters to 10000 meters. Three films have been made about his life, including a 1995 documentary narrated by Eugene resident Ken Kesey. As I stand on the track at Hayward Field, I can close my eyes and hear the crowdÖPre, Pre, Pre, PreÖ..
Monica went to school here a few years ago and got her Masters in Communications. She came here to go to school, but met Chris and knew he was the one for her. So she never left. She also got incredibly lucky with her job. You see, when I knew Monica in New York, she used to work in the publicity department of Columbia Records, part of Sony Music. She started with them while we were still at NYU. This was great for me because Monica used to take me to concerts, give me loads of CDs, and get me Sony equipment for 40% off. Hey, what are friends for, right?
Well, she moves out here, and within a few months, her old boss at Sony calls her up and tells her that Sony is planning on building a huge CD manufacturing plant right there in Eugene. And how would she be interested in a job doing some publicity work for the plant? Before she knows it, sheís organizing the ground breaking ceremony. Now she is the Director of Marketing, and the plant employs 400 people, including her husband Chris, a computer guru who programs the plantís robotics.
The Sony Disc Manufacturing Plant (http://www.sdm.sony.com) is one of the coolest things Iíve ever seen. Weíre talking clean rooms and injection molding machines and assembly lines and robots and a warehouse so organized it makes me look messy. Monica gives me the full tour, showing me the entire manufacturing and packaging process. They do everything here from start to finish for the creation of CDs.
First, the source material from the client (record companies, software manufactures, etc.) is transferred and mastered to digital form. Then, though a series of photographic and plating processes, a master disc is made and stamping discs are made from "Metal Mother" copies made from the master. Actual CDs are created from the stampers in 24 separate injection molding machines that can make a new disc every four seconds. The newly molded clear plastic discs are then coated with reflective aluminum, so your laser player can read them, and painted with artwork or a label. Robotic carts move spindles of 1000 discs around the plant. In the packaging department, everything comes together like clockwork. The discs are mechanically inserted in the jewel cases and then shrink wrapped and labeled. (They even put on those really hard to remove plastic strips and the parental warning labels.) There are thousands of packaging possibilities, and SDM can handle anything. The entire process is programmed and automated, including loading the shipping pallets which are stacked by an enormous robotic arm called The Palletizer. In the end they make 425,000 discs per day here. Thatís a lot of CDs.
After the plant we head up to Skinnerís View for a panoramic vista over the city. The point is named for Eugene Skinner who was the first pioneer to settle in the area, around 150 years ago. For dinner we meet Chris and Monicaís friends Katy and Randy Baker at the Waterfront Bar & Grill, one of the best restaurants in Eugene. Katy and Randy own The French Horn Bakery and Cafť and the L&L Market, where we had breakfast this morning. The baked goods there will make your mouth water just looking at them. Good thing their last name is Baker, right?
The jerk at the Times Square Station wonít even tell Kimberly who sent it, but he did tell her I could get a form 3801 in lieu of signing form 3849. Okay, Iíll go to a post office, get the form, sign it, and send it to back to Kimberly. Simple, right? WRONG!
Monica and I stop at one Eugene Post Office to get the form. I should have known there was going to be trouble when I saw that the clerk was missing one of her front teeth. Saying she is having a hard time understanding what I need would be like saying Dan Quale is having a hard time running for President. This woman doesnít have a clue. And sheís not listening to what Iím saying. She gets one of her fellow clerks and heís not listening either. When he hears Iím from New York he tells me things are a little more relaxed out here. Thatís great, LOSER, but youíre just wasting my time. OKAY, TIME TO LEAVE.
Later in the day, looking for some more punishment, Monica and I stop at the main Eugene Post Office. I still need to get that form. Here, a very friendly clerk named John hasnít ever heard of such a form but he does have an idea. I can take a blank delivery notice, sign it and then have Kimberly fill in the same info the Time Square Station clerk wrote on it. The only problem with this is that Johnís blank forms says "Eugene Mail Office" on it with the Eugene address and hours. Iím not sure this will work. He also suggests that Kimberly try dealing with the manager of the station, not just a window clerk. Pretty up front of you, John.
Well, I donít know what Iím going to do. The letter will probably be returned before I can get it. Who the hell would send me certified mail anyway? Iíve been wracking my brain but I canít figure it out. Am I being sued? Was I left a large inheritance? Did you send me something?
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