Posted in autumn, clouds, fall, fog, morning, Oregon, photography, Portland, spooky, writing

Autumn’s Early

After a lengthy, extremely dry summer filled with excessive heat during which the record for number of days above 90F was broken, our rainy season seems to be off to an early start. Beginning last weekend, August 28, when a large storm blew into the Pacific Northwest, disrupting the Hood-to-Coast run, and forcing campers off the beach, causing power outages, tree limbs crashing into cars and homes, it has been unseasonably cool with rain nearly every day. It doesn’t always amount to much, mostly just wetting everything down a bit, but my lawn is greening up again (I never water it in the summer). It’s in the low 40s now in the mornings, and I’ve had to break out my boots and warm clothing. Forecasts call for temps back into the upper 80s, possibly even 90 by next weekend. Well, that could change (and probably will). We’ve already had fog in the mornings, which we don’t normally see until late October, and I think last year not until November.

Mostly I’m writing this for my own benefit to keep track of when the bad weather started this rainy season. Goddess knows we need the rain and cooler temps to help fight all the fires, so I’m not complaining. It’s just in a few months, or a couple years down the road I won’t remember when the summer ended and the rainy season began. Well, we’ll see how long this lasts.

But we have had some fabulous clouds as a result.

Here’s hoping for a wetter, cooler winter than we’ve had the last couple years. I’m sorry for people who struggle to pay heating bills, but we’re running out of resources to fight wildfires that have destroyed dozens of homes.

I think I will go crochet some more hats.

Posted in random thoughts, writing

More on The Grump

Because I just want to throw things every time I think about this.

Since I’ve known Carol, she has had pretty long hair, most of the way down her back. Although I didn’t think this was a particularly good look for her at her age, it was none of my business and never said anything.

A couple weeks ago Carol arrived at the bus stop in the morning (the Grump had dropped her off) with short hair. I mean, a good 12″-14″ gone. It was just brushing her shoulders now, with some barely detectable layering worked in. Not a great cut, but I know she couldn’t afford a high-end stylist so like most of us has to take her chances with those no-appointment-needed places.

In explaining the sudden change, Carol said, “Last night while we were sleeping The Grump (no she doesn’t call him that) rolled over onto my hair and I couldn’t move. So yesterday when he picked me up (from work) we started driving someplace, and I asked him where we were going. He said it was a surprise.”

So without asking her, he drove her to get her hair cut at one of those strip mall hair cut places. What a guy.

I ask you. And yet somehow it never occurs to her to tell him “No, I don’t want to do that.” Maybe it’s due to her religious beliefs, and feels he’s head of the household and she shouldn’t argue with him. Which makes me want to throw more things. I don’t really know, that’s pure speculation. She’s never actually said anything to that effect. Maybe it’s just easier to go with it than get into a huge argument. But she clearly wasn’t all that happy with the way the cut turned out. She kept fussing with it, saying she didn’t like the layering, and it wouldn’t lay the way she wanted, etc.

I have never in my life known any woman who let a man tell her when or where to get her hair cut. I would have had to kill him, but that’s me. But, I kept my mouth shut about it. If she’s content to live this way, who am I to mouth off and make her feel unhappy? She’s not going to leave him at this point in her life, so why bother.

But I will never understand it.

Posted in music, Oregon, photography, Travel, writing

Purely Pacific Northwest

Pretty video of locations around the Pacific Northwest, with some fantastic shots of Crater Lake and Mount St. Helens. The opening shot is moonrise on Mt. Hood, which is just east of Portland. I recommend viewing in full screen.

We desperately need a channel that features these kinds of videos, the way Norway features hours-long videos of ships’ voyages.

Posted in Office Life, Oregon, Portland, random thoughts

Death by New Job

…and this is about how I feel at the end of the first week:


Gracie wants to know why I’m not getting her dinner.

The bus driver is a psycho, zooming through city streets and 25MPH zones at speeds well over the limit (I can’t see his speedometer, but I can guess by the way he passes so many cars and honks at the ones who pull out in front of the bus). I expect crashes every second, but so far everyone has escaped unscathed. I heard him laughing at one point, I think it must be game to him. Maybe he watched “Speed” one too many times. Take note, Trimet, you have some disturbed drivers. I’ve learned not to look out the windows in the front of the bus. I just try to get REALLY INTERESTED in all the shops we pass on the way so I don’t think about what’s going on in traffic.

So I survived the bus ride to the MAX, and got most of the way home before the area I was sitting in was swarmed by somewhere around 15 members of a gang. The one closest to me reeked of pot. I hoped it was only that, and they were just feeling mellow. And let me tell you, you never saw anyone so interested in the book they were reading as I was this afternoon. Some of their conversation consisted of reminiscing about going somewhere while tripping on mushrooms. All ended well for me, but I felt bad for the guy sitting across from me who was still on the train when I got off at my stop.

I made it home, and am working on my second martini.


Posted in movies, Oregon, photography, Portland, Travel, writing

Finding Portland

I just saw this at Smithsonian Magazine’s Web site, and had to share. My beloved Portland captured on film in a zippy 3.54 minutes! “Finding Portland: Where Young People Go To Retire” opens inside a deserted Pioneer Place mall, and shifts around the city showing the bridges, the highway interchanges, Waterfront Park with the cherry trees blooming and bicyclists out enjoying the view, the Willamette River, the famous sign with the white stag, the Shamrock run through the city (takes place on the Sunday closest to St. Patrick’s Day, I believe, I’ve never actually run in that one but I know people who have), the bubblers (constantly running fountains) some brass sculptures of deer (there are loads more around town), the inside of Powells Book on Burnside (I squeed and clapped!), Voodoo Doughnuts, Mt. Hood, the Columbia River Gorge with a walkaround of the Vista House, the falls,  and so much more. What can I say? We love our city! I suggest expanding it to full screen to watch.

Finding Portland was produced, shot and edited in 51 days during March and April at the invitation of TEDx Portland, where the video was unveiled to a sell out crowd of 650 and met with a standing ovation.

Comprised of 308, 829 photographs taken from over 50 unique locations, it took an average of 3.8 hours to make each second of this film.


Posted in books, Portland, writing

Viva la Bookstores!


For me, being able to visit a bookstore is a treasured experience that online book buying will never be able to equal. (What’s Harvey got to do with it? Nuthin’, ‘cept he’s a local landmark at a marine supply shop. No idea.)

A few days ago, Evil Wylie (@EvilWylie, aka Andrew Shaffer) tweeted out a link to an article on Gawker about bookstores being used like a showroom by book buyers, who after perusing shelves, head to Amazon to mail order. I retweeted this with the comment that I do the opposite: I use Amazon to find out about books, then typically head to my local bookstore (Powells) to take a look at the physical specimen, skim a couple pages to see if I like the author’s style, and if so, buy it there. Little backwards of what some people do, I guess.

Now I will admit I like Amazon’s feature that suggests books based on what I’ve previously looked at or purchased. Yes, full disclosure, I do buy books and other items from Amazon, although looking at all my Powells receipts that later become bookmarks it’s hard to believe. And that is where I flip things.

On the way to Powells, Mt. Hood in the distance

However, I’ve discovered that I don’t trust Amazon’s descriptions. I pay zero attention to the reviews. For one thing, I have often seen reviews for something that don’t even seem to apply to the particular item I’m looking at. It’s just not helpful.

And then there’s something heady about opening the doors of a bookstore and running smack (with luck, not literally) into tables and shelves piled high and stacked floor to ceiling with books. Books books books books books. As far as the eye can see (slight hyperbole). I feel like an alcoholic showing up at a kegger. Oooo, shiny! I am frequently overwhelmed, in the best way, by all the choices in front of me. Wander wander wander up one aisle, down the next. Back to the first. Wow, what’s this? I never heard of this author, what’s this about? Wait, what was I looking for? I finally figured out I need to make up a shopping list before I go so I don’t get distracted and forget which books I was setting out to buy to begin with. What about books in foreign languages? I’ve picked up books in Norwegian (a second edition Asbjørnsen & Moe) and French at Powells. Not language learning, books written in other tongues. I don’t think Amazon offers much along those lines. Maybe someday they’ll integrate with their other stores in France, Germany, etc., but for now we’re pretty much restricted to English language here in the U.S. I’m sure some of that has to do with release dates being staggered and licensing but once a book is out, it’s out. If I wanted to read a Norwegian author in Norwegian, I’m outta luck. (If anyone knows where I can get books in Norwegian please let me know.)

I have this thing, too, about holding one single book in my hand, as if it’s a little universe unto itself. All the action, dialog, scenery, imagery encapsulated in this marvelous little package that I can take myself to and revisit whenever I choose.  Like individual planets in space, I like the separateness of each little world. I feel as if I’ve slipped the bonds of time and space and landed Someplace Else. Ok, I’m feeling a little fanciful here. Remember when towns were actually separate from eachother, and each had a distinctive feel to it, its own quirks and uniqueness and personality? I suppose reading books on electronic readers can still transport me, but like urban sprawl, how do you know where one town ends and the next begins?

Powell's, in the friendliest letters possible

Sure I could spend hours in the bookstore, but I feel like it would take a lot longer to even see all the options I can peruse in a real life bookstore. Looking stuff up on Amazon is great for pin-pointing something, but I like to go to the bookstore, pick it up, see it, look through it, and see if it’s what I thought it was, if it’s really what I wanted. Amazon’s displays can be deceiving (although not intentionally, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt there). Save money? I can’t tell you how often I’ve found books on special or at special pricing at Powells. I picked up a copy of Ulysses for $6.98. Sure, Amazon has free shipping over $25, but if you buy a used copy from a third party, that doesn’t apply. (Ulysses was brand new, btw)

I thought I’d share a little virtual tour of Powell’s Cedar Hills location, aka my second home (just imagine aisles and aisles like this, I only show about 10% of the store in these). This is where the majority of author signings seem to be held, as this location has more open floor space than the Burnside location downtown. I got the ok to take some photos, although I think I weirded out a couple of customers. Oops, sorry ’bout that. My haul today was The Conqueror’s Shadow by Ari Marmell (@mouseferatu), The Postman, by David Brin (@DavidBrin1), The Windup Girl, by Paolo Bacigalupi, and a steampunk novel called The Affinity Bridge, by George Mann. That last will be my first foray into steampunk, it looked intriguing.

Part of the children's area

But just think: someday we’ll all have neural implants like Johnny Mnemonic, and books will be instantly downloaded to your head, implanting them, and sparing you the time and trouble of reading them at all.

Posted in books, Portland, writing

Cherie M. Priest at Beaverton Powells tonight

She just tweeted she’s on a prop plane, coming down from Seattle. I’ve never been on one myself, but when I set up travel for the guys in the office here, they often catch the hop up to Sea-Tac, and on to Asia.

If you’re a fan of Cherie M. Priest, and would like a signed copy of  her latest book, let me know. I can take PayPal, so e-mail me to arrange to get the money to me and I can head over and get you a copy of her latest, Dreadnought. The reviews are good.

Posted in books, Portland, writing

Another Oregon Vortex — Forty Years Ago

Some of you may have heard of the Oregon Vortex, a place in Gold Hill, Oregon where the natural laws seem unable to hold sway.

But this weekend marks the fortieth anniversary of a different Oregon Vortex, proving the counterculture of Oregon in 1970 rivaled even that of California.

Oregon Vortex

In late August 1970, President Nixon was scheduled to speak at the American Legion National Convention in Portland. The Portland-based People’s Army Jamboree announced it would hold a concurrent event to protest the Vietnam War. The FBI told McCall he should expect 25,000 Legionnaires and 50,000 anti-war demonstrators to clash in Portland and top the mayhem of the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. Fearing that radicals might foment violence against the Legionnaires, a few Portland hippies proposed a free rock festival outside of Portland as an alternative. The hippies asked McCall for a place to hold it. He gave them McIver State Park and told local and state law enforcement officials to lay off. Did they ever.

State-sponsored, completely free, the Red Cross handed out illegal drugs to keep attendees in the park and happy. Quite a cast of characters was in attendance:

Vortex I’s cast of characters, in the flesh and at the edges of the story, include: Spiro Agnew, Red Skelton, the Rainbow Family, Matt Groening, John Kerry, Donald Rumsfeld, and current NY Times Executive Editor Bill Keller, who was a cub reporter at the Oregonian.

Read the rest of the blog on Powell’s Web site.

Far out, man! Keep Portland Weird!

UPDATE: 6:45PM — There may yet be a Vortex 2. It was supposed to happen back in June but this time they have to get permits, which they didn’t.