Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Portland Story

So, a day or two before Thanksgiving, a coworker waits in her car in the parking lot of an Albertsons grocery store. Her husband has gone inside to buy beer. Suddenly, four police cruisers pull up with lights blazing. The officers sprint inside. A few minutes later, the coworker's husband emerges with a six pack and a good story.

Apparently four hippie chicks had gotten into an argument over who would get the last Tofurkey(tm). This, being Portland, it quickly descended into a knockdown, four-way brawl.

Yes, four girls slugging it out over a fake tofu turkey.

It really is that kind of town: A river city of potheads, pragmatic visionaries, passionate young ideologues, militant bicyclists, Suicide Girls, programmers, book readers, high taxes, good public services, fantastic mass transit, and endangered imitation turkeys.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Portland by Night

I'm surprised by what an urban person I am becoming. I still love the coast and the mountains, but I really love spending time in the heart of the human world now.

The intellectual heart of the city. I've pretty much resigned myself to just signing over 10% of my income to this place...

...and it's multiple stories of booky goodness.

Food, glorious food!!!

Jakes. Expensive, but it's So. Damn. Good!
There is a reason that this restaurant has thrived and survived here for 113 years.

Tonight, the Chocolate & Coffee Bar people gave me a religious experience in the form of a chocolate pecan tort.


Dim Sum and BBQ.

Leaving China Town

The Max light rail. It runs from my apartment to down town and back.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

How We Look From Space

The post-storm Pacific Northwest, courtesy of NASA


Hanging stars and putting up lights

Christmases I miss:

Working at the Boy Scout tree lot on Moana Lane, with nothing to do but stand around with my friends in the sap scented air.

I miss seeing thousands of blood-red neon crosses over Seoul in the breathtaking Korean cold.

I miss the season of lights, with candles and torches burning in the squares and public spaces of Sweden.

Kriskindle makt in Nuernberg, striding through the medieval old town with snow flakes the size of silver dollars falling around me.

Yorkshire pudding, light and fluffy. Not bad considering I've never messed with bread pudding of any type before.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Snowy Armageddon

Ok, so that's a slight exaggeration.

But it does just keep snowing and snowing...And since the temperatures remain below freezing, the fallen snow isn't going away.

As it turns out, there are only two snowplows in all of Portland. This is because it snows here so rarely.

It took two hours of driving today to run my basic errands. Normally that would have taken 15 minutes, tops. Hopefully I am now well stocked, and will not have to drive anywhere until next week. One of the advantages of living next door to work.

Those ruts in the road are 4 inches deep. Changing lanes is like trying to jump tracks. Difficult and dangerous.

On Saturday, a group of us went out to watch the snow monkeys frolic. Instead, the few who were outside of their huts and shelter looked pretty well fed up with the situation. Upon their bright red faces was an expression that summed up their mood:

"This is exactly why we left Japan. To get away from this snow crap."

Oh well.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Odd Shots From the Trip

Got back to Reno just in time for the storms.

Out 4X4ing with Sean amidst the sage and snow and stone. He was kind enough to give me his old camera with a good zoom lens. I whine, Sean supplies.

Now I can go out and take some of those looming volcano photos that I have been trying for.

...and other people's junk, of course. It's Nevada after all, where if you have a desert, it's obviously there as a place to put your old cars.

And just what were they shooting at this thing with, anyways.

A new camera, with buttons and whistles to play with.

Putting up the "Hanukkah" lights.I wonder how many hours I've spent hanging around on that porch in the summer, watching the Wells Avenue crowd go by.

It took me 14 hours to get home the day after the crash, mostly creeping along at 35 mph or less. Ten hours is my norm.

I'm still waiting to hear back on the fate of my Hyundai, though it's almost certainly going to bone yard for good.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Spending too much time on the Internet

The new Coraline film has been getting a lot of press here in Portland.

A local cinema company provided much of the puppetry, so the movie's been in the paper off and on.

Speaking of disturbing acts of puppetry:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Aye Me

My poor car...

I was just 38 miles north of Reno on my way home when the kid in the red Chevy made a left turn on to the highway, right in front of me.

It was a blind left turn into oncoming traffic, as I had been following another vehicle who was turning off the highway onto the intersecting road where the kid in the Chevy was waiting. One moment the vehicle in front of me was pulling off to the right, the next the red Chevy was pulling onto 395, crossing my lane and blocking out the world as it filled the view from my windshield.

I had enough time to think "I'll be alright," then I was staring at a pair of flaccid air bags and patting myself down for blood and broken bones.

Not a damn thing!

By sheer luck (judging by the photos that Louis later took) the points of impact seem to have been my car's front left bumper and the trucks rear driver-side tire. That meant that much of the collision's energy was likely absorbed by the tire and the truck's springy suspension system. The fact that we collided on a snowy surface probably helped as well, transferring much of my vehicle's kinetic energy into a lateral motion that sent my Hyundai spinning across the highway.


Next day I was back on the road, heading north over the mountains in a rental car.


I really liked that little Hyundai. It's taken me up and down the West Coast without complaint. It's sad to have lost such a reliable car just because a teenager couldn't wait until his view of the highway was clear before pulling onto it.

Still, I was feeling good after the accident, happy to be alive and ecstatic to have walked away without a scratch.

Thankfully the kid was also unhurt.

Friday, December 05, 2008

The Eastern Olympic Peninsula

This is the "dry" eastern side of the peninsula. The climb was 2000ft at a 10-20% grade, as the trailhead sign informed me. It's also cougar country. So, in the future I need to think about coming up with a new set of precautions while hiking alone.

Damn!!!! This is exactly why I need to scrape up some discipline and buy a good DSLR camera. That white bump in the center of the picture is Mt. Baker. To the naked eye, this glacier sheathed monster, just south of the American-Canadian border, blots out a portion of the northern horizon. Like Rainier, this volcano is epic.

I..uhmm...*cough* borrowed this shot from Jenny Lee Silver of as an example of the kind of volcano shots that I keep missing out on because my lack of a good lens.

Mt. Baker and downtown Vancouver, Canada.

I'm going to get across the border and visit Victoria and Vancouver either this next spring or summer. Unfortunately, with one happy exception, all of the Canadians that I met while living in Europe were raging assholes. Still, these two cities look lovely in photographs, and I suspect that most Canadians are not as fervent as those whom I met abroad.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Bumming on the Coast

Today's light + my camera = metallic watercolor photos

Friday, November 21, 2008

Pretty much how I learned Swedish... reading Rocky strips

Jag hade en kompis som gjorde precis som det här för nästan fem år!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Walt Whitman / Gulls

Mr. Whitman, rambling and pretentious, but not without moments of illumination:

I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.

You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.

Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.

The first of the seagulls arrived today, acting as heralds of winter. Apparently they come inland at this time of year to seek shelter from the coastal storms as well for leftover food in the corrals. The monkeys seemed fascinated by these bright birds, stopping to watch whenever one flashed past.

I love the gulls as well. I know that soon they will be crapping all over everything, but their cries remind me of how close I live to the sea!

Normally the gulls are adept at avoiding grasping hands, but once in awhile, one gets caught in the corrals. The problem with this is that every monkey in the enclosure wants to have their own seagull, so they each grab an avian appendage and pull.

Apparently, back in the day, there were peacocks that freely roamed the grounds. Then a snow monkey got a hold of one by the feet and dragged it into the corral through the two inch gap between the concrete base and the bottom of the corrugated wall.

Sadly, after that, the rest of the peacocks had to go.

What other news from monkeytopia? I watched two Indian rhesus males gang up to challenge a larger, older male for dominance of a shelter-half. The duo appeared to be winning when I left. It was all harassment, bared canines, and barks, but no bloodshed.

The animals are moving around more in the mornings now, but are even lazier in the afternoon sun than before. There was some serious sprawling and grooming going on when I left the shelter-half area during the late afternoon. One middle-aged lady crouched down and bared her teeth at me in a challenge on my way out. Then she looked around and realized that none of the other monkeys were paying the least bit off attention to the fact that I was walking past.

"Can't fight, too busy grooming."

She turned away and looked rather embarrassed.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

If there is anyone out there who still doubts...

One generation is what it took us, an eye blink in the span of human history.

It's been a change powered by implacable hope and made possible by the cultural agility that comes from being a process of innovation and redefinition.

It was a night for good speeches all around. I hope that McCain stays on in the Senate as a voice for moderation and higher service.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Lovely Insane Beauty (Autumn)

One day of changing weather and evolving light

Later, out on the coast...