Wednesday, August 13, 2008

crash!

I attended the Twilight Crierium in Portland's NW Park Blocks Friday night, and was able to capture a wreck on camera. It happened very quickly, and my camera is barely reliable at best, so I only managed to get 4 photos:

Here's a shot of the actual wreck; it occurred as the pack of riders turned the corner. The majority of the cyclists were able to strategically escape unscathed, however an unfortunate four became a tangled mess of spandex and metal.


These guys had to quickly get off the course because there were more cyclists quickly approaching. A few spectators ran out to help the guys up. The guy in the white got back on his bike and completed the race. He was in last place, but you got to give the guy credit for getting back on his bike all road-rashed up and finishing. I think the guy in the blue and orange rejoined also, but dropped out before the race finished.


This guy sitting here was really dejected and just scooted over to the sidewalk. I couldn't tell the extent of his injuries, but it seemed like his bike was rendered unridable.


He ended up sitting there for a while. We were mobile and moved around the course through the duration of the races, so after about 15 minutes we moved up the block for a different perspective. The corners were fun to hang out at because there were 10 near-wrecks for every wreck that happened.

If you're in Portland next August I'd definitely recommend to check this out. It's free to watch, there's a few booths with food, sponsors and vendors occupying them. It happens on a Friday night about the middle of the month, and is from about 6 PM to 8:30 PM.

I'll also be posting some more pictures over at Flickr soon.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Climbers Bivouac

Over the weekend we ended up hiking on the south face of Mt. St. Helens. We originally wanted to head over to Lahar Viewpoint and Ape Canyon, but the road out that way was washed out and we had to settle for Plan B. Plan B started at Climbers Bivouac trail head and trekked through the old growth forest up to the junction where the Loowit trail (east-west) picks up. From that point, we headed east on Loowit to June Lake, then grabbed a cross-country ski trail back up onto Loowit to hike a large circle. Besides offering different scenery, this loop avoided the treacherous tiresome boulder field we encountered in the Worm Flows on the high trail over.

I still have to process the 100+ pictures I took, but here's a few to preview. It was an overcast type of day, the mountain top was socked in the entire day and it was hard to get good mountain top and distance pictures. That wasn't a problem though; there were so many other great views and scenes to photograph.

Prehistoric flower?


trekking through the misty forest.

heather

Heather (at the edge where the Worm Flows meets forest)

Chocolate Falls (canyon created from the 1980 eruption)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

the end of the mystery ritual (?)

I think (hope) the neighbor's mystery ritual has come to an end. It's been a week since I said something, and I haven't heard a thing.

Last Sunday things came to a boiling point. I had been tolerant, for the most part, while the neighbor behind me has been keeping his obnoxious mystery ritual to a minimum. Maybe I didn't hear it for a week, then the annoyance would commence for two or three nights in a row, starting at 10 PM or later and carrying on until midnight or 1. And the past few weeks it had been occuring on nights where I would have to get up extra early or have an extra busy day, the times when it's most important to be as rested as possible.

Sunday was one of these night. I had a big test on Tuesday that I had been studying intensely for, and had a really busy Monday planned. I went to be early Sunday evening, maybe around 9:30 and I was completely relaxed.

I was jolted awake by banging behind me about 11:30. I listened to the symphony of drawers sliding open and slamming shut, cabinet doors opening and slamming, the water turning on for 10-15 seconds, then shut off for the next 15-30 seconds, to be replaced by banging and really loud squeaking. I continued to try to ignore the noise behind me for about 15 minutes, then abruptly decided that tonight was the time for the confrontation.

I stumbled over to the bright lights of my neighbor's apartment patio door. I can see a pile of sauce coated pots on the counter near the door. I knock and the water shuts off; Harry Potter's girlfriend opens the door and I notice she looks really tired.

"Hi, um, I'm the neighbor behind you, the one on the other side of the wall," I explain, "and I"m not sure what you're doing over here, but it's really loud and woke me up from a dead sleep."

Harry Potter's girlfriend rolls her eyes at me and says, "I'm just doing dishes."

"I understand you're doing dishes, but my headboard is literally behind the wall where your sink is, and every time the water turns on and off every 15 seconds, the pipes make a loud thud. And I also hear alot of crashing, slamming, banging and loud squeaking." [Uncomfortable pause here] "So are you going to be doing this much longer, because I have to get up at 5:30."

Harry Potter's eyes roll again as she retorts, "I have to get up at 5." Well whoop-de-doo.

"So...are you going to be doing this much longer?" I ask again.

Harry Potter's girlfriend sighs heavily with one last eye roll, "No, I guess I can stop."

"Thanks!" I enthusiastically said, and gave a smile that wasn't returned. I went back to my apartment and now was so keyed up from the confrontation I laid in bed and tried to shut my brain off for the next hour. But that's not really a problem because for a whole week from 10 PM forward it's been nothing but golden silence between my headboard and the sink behind me.

The next morning my alarm went off at 5:30 and I hit the snooze bar until 5:45. I didn't hear any noise behind my wall until about 6:15, so I guess Harry Potter's girlfriend overslept too. I bet if she got the dishes done sooner she would have gotten to bed at a decent time. Our paths crossed again about 6:45, as we both were heading to our cars on the street. We briefly made eye contact and quickly looked away. For about five seconds I thought maybe I might have been bitchy last night, but then put it out of my mind when I think about the torture I went through.

I wonder if I'll run into them at the neighbor hood picnic next month?

Friday, August 01, 2008

Happy Birthday Le!




Today was Le's 64th birthday. I went over her house and joined some other neighbors earlier for some cake and ice cream.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bus passenger beheaded seat mate, witness says

What the hell went on there??? This story seems so surreal, like something out of a B slasher horror movie. I wonder how much time it took for him to saw off the head. This is really freaky.

http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/americas/07/31/canada.bus/index.html

and here's a video, I don't know how to embed CNN videos so I'm posting the link:

http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2008/07/31/natpkg.can.bus.decapitation.ctv





exciting and scary!

well, not too scary, but momentarily exciting!

There are some huge trees on my street, trees so big you feel as if a really significant storm blew threw here they'd fall and wreck whatever was in their path. My car and apartment are in their path. I'm not as at risk as several of my other neighbors are, but I still have a little anxiety about it.

About 10:30 PM a month ago, I heard this really loud crash. It was warm and my windows were open, so it sounded like it was happening right out front. I immediately checked my car, and all was well. I noticed my cat bolting down the street, so at first I thought he was responsible for the loud noise that I just heard. Then I noticed up the street a little there were a few neighbors outside standing around what looked like giant branches. So I joined the group and we talked about the situation a little. I went to bed and early the next morning as I was leaving for work, I went over, surveyed the damage in the light and took a few pictures.




It wasn't too bad and only took out the cable line for the people across the street. I don't even have cable so it's no worry to me. In comparison to the size of the tree, one of the medium-sized branches fell, and landed mostly on the strip of land between the sidewalk and street. Things could have been worse, especially given the size of the tree. I don't know who was responsible for cleaning it up, but when I got home from work that day the whole thing was gone without a trace, as if it never happened.

off the radar!

yeah I've been off the radar lately. I guess I've been so caught up in life offline that I'm not updating my pictures and blog as much as I should. Tons of things are going on and I have a camera full of pictures, but I'm not home as much, and when I am I'm doing other things, like homework, now that I'm back in school. I've also been really busy at work lately. Some evenings when I get home I'm just burnt out from using a computer all day, so I read or cook elaborate multi-step dishes, such as marionberry turnovers or potato salad. On weekends I've been doing a lot of hiking or out-of-town stuff; I want to maximize my summer and explore this incredible and beautiful part of the county.

...so tonight I had some time to upload pictures and thought it'd be a great time to update. I also plan on uploading and updating more regularly. I have some ambitious hikes planned for the next couple of months and have a few great hikes behind me so far...so far it's been a nice and fun summer.

Monday, July 07, 2008

the further mysteries of dreamland

I've been having some more strange dreams lately. In some cases I wake with a full recollection of my dream but as the day progresses they slip away like a tide taking out a sandcastle too close to the shoreline. In other cases (like the last dream I wrote about) some elements are so shocking they clearly stand out in my mind.

I can remember a really intense dream I had when I was about 7 years old. It had such an impact on me it was as if I dreamt it last night. I don't remember all the details of it, but I remember basically I was in my room and the house was on fire. The fire was working its way over to my room and my door and wall around the door started to burn. I also distinctly remember a fern plant I had hanging on a hook in my room. I remember some setting details so vividly it's as if my old room still exists somewhere in the space/time vacuum. I had pepto bismol pink walls, and a giant map of the world on the wall space above my bed. There was some molding affixed around the map and painted pink to give the appearance of it being a framed picture. I had a twin bed with a tiny pink checkered bedspread. Immediately to the left of the bed was a closet door; a single door with a brass colored knob. Dark brown cork covered the upper half of the door that was missing and ripped off around the bottom edges.

This was the wall where the fire had breached my room. I remember feeling very afraid and anxious. I also remember acting quickly and fashioning my bedsheets and bedspread into a makeshift rope to escape from. As I climbed up into the window to free myself, I remember knocking the fern off of the hook. It fell to the floor and half-spilled out of the pot it was in.

After I reached the ground, I noticed that the neighbor's house was on fire too. I remember starting to feel afriad again, but then having an epiphany that really makes no sense. In this dream, the epiphany was that the fire I was seeing on the neighbor's house was only watercolor paint. This makes no sense whatsoever to me, but in the dream it was a real "duh!" moment. Somehow that relieved me because I drew the conclusion that the fire on my house must have been watercolor paint too, and my house was going to be okay.

The dream I had last night has just about completely washed away; I remember jumping through these wormhole portals, but having no control over where I was ending up. At one point I came up in a construction site, and another time I emerged into an unfamiliar city park. I also returned a few times to the foyer of a large old house.

I really enjoy having science fiction dreams or action dreams where I generally have the advantage or get some serious vengeance. Too bad I couldn't get a handle on the wormhole thing before I woke up.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

I'm a slacker

A big slacker, it's been over a month since I last updated my blog with a new entry. But that doesn't mean that I've had about 10 half-started ideas I wanted to expand upon; and the amount of significant bloggable things I've neglected to mention and let just pass by is amazing. Space Shuttles have launched and landed about 2 times since my last entry--2 for 2; none blew up this time. We've got all these theories about Mars flying around and there's all sorts of political things going on, the weather's going crazy, gas prices are exorbitant (and expect to reach $5 a gallon by the end of summer) and I've a lot of pictures and had a couple of notable adventures.

And last Tuesday was my first day back to school in about 13 years. They tell me most of my old credits are transferable, but I have yet to notice them show up in my web-based student password portal place. School (so far) is fun, much more fun then I remember from 13 years ago. Of course so far I've only been back for not even a week, but it feels different. I feel like this time around I have a passion to learn, where before it was more a matter of registering with my friends, and signing up for the same classes they had to take or whatever randomly sounded good. That's why I have credit for an oceanography class. I also took a class called "Biological Issues." I don't have much of a recollection of some of these classes, but I seem to remember watching a lot of movies in Oceanography and opting to sleep.

Looking at my transcript now, I can't imagine I ever would have been interested in some of the subjects I took if it weren't for Curt and Jesus registering for it at the same time I was registering. I think my last college experience wasn't serious and I treated it more like I was hopping on the high school part II bandwagon.

I've developed a strong affinity for bacon lately. So strong it compelled me to purchase a package of bacon last weekend. I made the entire package for breakfast and what I didn't eat for breakfast I put on my chicken pizza for dinner. Damn it was good and I know of a few fellow bacon lovers who would agree and ask me why I hadn't made this discovery sooner.

I've had some weird dreams lately too. Maybe it's all the bacon I've recently consumed? I also think when I am dealing well with anxiety in waking life it has to come out somewhere and dreamland is the only place more unpredictable then the awake world. At least the awake world follows general rules of order, gravity and logic. Not in dream world though. And in true chaotic fashion my dreams are not complete dreams, but fragmented portions of dream that distort reality and blur the line between the waking world and the sleep world.

I had a dream last night I was in a big pool at night, hiding from some people in a building who were shooting at me. I kept swimming to the bottom, and would come up in the corner and quickly gasp for air before swimming to the bottom again. But underwater was all clear, it wasn't the blurry murky world below the water's surface. The real disturbing part of this dream (as if someone shooting at you wasn't enough) was whenever a friend came into the water to see me or help me escape, they would get shot and before long there were 4 or 5 bodies of friends floating around. But they weren't friends I currently know; they were the manufactured dream world of friends, for example one of my "friends" was a personal trainer I see at the gym every morning. I've never talked to him and don't know what his name is, but in my dream his name was Larry and he drove a Volvo. And was wearing plaid shorts. I'm not sure about the shirt, I'm thinking a white argyle shirt, but I'm positive about the shorts. Now I've only seen this personal trainer wearing the red and black garb or our gym's trainer colors, so I find it interesting that I dreamt he was wearing something other then the only thing I've ever seen him in. I think before Larry was shot he brought me a strange set of several keys, not your run of the mill house or car keys, but weird elongated keys with weird teeth patterns cut into them. I think this set of keys eventually opened a panel underwater in the wall of the pool and I was able to access a door and escape into the building (which I perceived to be a guard house) where the shooter was shooting from. I woke up after that, but I remember not feeling scared in my dream at that point, I think I was determined to kick the shooter's ass.

It's really beautiful this cloudy Sunday afternoon. Yesterday it was really hot, perhaps the hottest day of the year. I think it got up to 98 degrees, it was great. Today was a bit cooler (about 87 degrees) and started out sunny, but this afternoon thunderclouds moved in. We rarely have thundershowers here and today is one of those lucky occasions. I haven't seen any lightning yet but the old familiar rumbling has been lingering for about an hour now. Happy June 29th.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

dropping by and The Big 80's

I have a pet peeve…it is work related as I’m sure a great percentage is. Someone “dropped by” to find out if I could print out their work history. Usually that’s the kind of thing that I can’t pull up on a whim, I need time to read through scanned documents to find relevant materials. So I’m super busy and tell the receptionist to get their contact information and I’ll look into it and contact them when I have something.

So now I have time to look up this person’s info and they’ve been working with us for a while, and there’s not too much in their personnel file so I don’t know why they didn’t just call me. I printed off the application the employee filled out when he first applied to work with us and the employment section is blank! What the fuck are they expecting me to produce in regard to “employment history?” and why do they want me to call them so they can come pick it up? Can’t I just tell them over the phone what day they started?

So I call this person in question and he (or she, I’m not sure which and the name doesn’t give a clue) isn’t home. Someone else answers who seems like they’re still in the learning phase of English. I ask I can leave a message and am met with silence. So I say “work history?” and the person on the other ends says, “yah, yah, the work stuff.” So I say which work stuff, because there’s not a lot I can print out, the application is blank. Again, silence. “Okay,” I resign myself to the communication barrier, “I’ll call back tomorrow.” I noticed on the message the receptionist took there was a message number. So I dial the message number and on the fifth ring I am subjected to the longest rap song-message intro ever. Seriously, all chock full of mother-fuckers and weapon references, for so long I contemplated hanging up. But I hung tough then left a detailed message. I hope the person receiving the message understands more English then the person who answered at the other number. Based on the intro song, they at least understand some element in rap music. Not that I have anything against it, I think I was more annoyed at the length of time I had to endure the song before I could leave a message.

On a side bar, I’m all up and down the satellite radio channel but keep going back to “big 80’s.” Am I trapped in the 80’s? I’m sure on some level I am. I have been considering getting my hair feathered lately. Big 80’s is the only station in which I know every song that’s playing. Now I also like the old school rap station and the heavy metal stations, I’m also open to electronica stuff. But I keep gravitating back to the 80’s. I’m not sure why; I’ve been into decades of music. I mean the 80’s station is even beating out the classic rock station, and I spent several years listening to classic rock.

And on a completely different note, I just noticed there’s a booger on my mouse. I hope it’s mine.

Monday, May 12, 2008

mystery ritual part II

The neighbor behind me was at it again last night. He started the ritual at 9:30 and it didn't end until about midnight. I was so annoyed and tired while I listened to the repetitive water on 20 seconds/water off 30 seconds followed by the weird banging and occasional squeaking.

I planned to sleep in about a 1/2 hour to I wouldn't be so tired when I got to work when I was woken up by the strange ritual again at 5:30 AM! Based on some simple math, this neighbor guy (who looks an awful lot like Harry Potter) had gotten just as much if not less sleep then I last night. I got out of bed and started my day, there would be no rest for me listening to that. I can't for the life of me figure out what he is doing in there.

Well, let me be honest right here and let you know I'm a big chicken. I had the opportunity to ask Harry about what he was doing and I blew it. Harry came down to put his laundry in the washer just as I was moving my last load into the dryer. He asked me if I had more to go and I told him the washer was all his. I thought for a moment about the water ritual and almost asked him, I was going to put a "curiosity" spin on my question, not a bitchy "you're keeping me awake asshole" remark. I opened my mouth and hesitated; then some other words came out. I made weird small talk about how lost laundry socks have a way of finding themselves back to their owners. He exchanged some commentary about the washer and then I left. And here I am, still wondering what Harry Potter's up to behind me.

I know someone commented that he might be running a meth lab in my last post, but now I'm thinking he's conducting some kind of strange experiment. Maybe he's trying to energize water droplets with radioactivity so he could mutate and become the next comic book hero. Radioactive H20 man!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

great weekend.

This weekend was great. I've done fun and new things with new people and it feels like spring is finally really here. The shining sun is a welcome sight after this extended winter we had. Hopefully the sun is here to stay. I've spent the weekend outdoors feeling the elements and enjoying the blooming foliage.

Yesterday I went for a hike with my new friend Bridget to Dog Mountain, located on the Washington side of the Columbia River gorge. Dog mountain wasn't blooming with yellow balsamroot yet, there were still snow patches and snow fields to contend with. The higher we got, the worse the weather got. Not that it was bad, the peak was enveloped in fast moving densely moist and chilly clouds. As we ascended the wind whipped harder, my layers felt heavy with moisture and the colder the breeze was. I want to go back in a few weeks when the snow is mostly gone to see the mountainside in brilliant bloom, but I'm glad I went on Saturday because the phenomena of snow and cloud was amazing:

Nice view at the summit, ha! About a 2820 foot climb from the trailhead. whew!

The weather was strange in that at lower elevations everything was mossy green lush Pacific Northwest typical woods. It's been so uncharacteristically chilly lately that the snow line is still relatively low. We literally packed a variety of things, I wore layers from t-shirt to sweat shirt to jacket and at one point I could have used gloves too.

I have a more pictures of yesterday's adventure on Dog Mountain on my Flickr photoset.


I also met some great people on Sunday.

Armando is a graphic artist who recently moved to Portland from Washington, D.C.


Lefty is a street musician originally from Long Island, NY.


Christina (also known on Flickr as "Barbiecore") designs, makes and sells her own clothing and accessories. I met her on Flickr about 6 months ago, but today was the first time I got to meet her in person.


Ashley makes and sells fused glass jewelry. She has a booth in the Portland Saturday Market sort of under the Burnside Bridge. She works a day job in an office but her true passion is to make and sell her jewelry.


It was beautiful today; the weather couldn't have been better.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

mystery ritual

the neighbor’s kitchen is behind my headboard, on the other side of my bedroom wall, and right around when I want to go to sleep they begin a strange ritual of running the water for 10 to 20 seconds and follow up with an unidentifiable something noisy for about 30 seconds. They repeat this process for at least an hour. Sometimes they mix up the running water and banging cycle with foot stomping, then walking to the other end of the kitchen, pause for a few moments, then pound back to the sink where the 10-20 seconds of water on resumes. When I’m in bed and this is going on, I’m so distracted I can’t sleep. Last night it woke me up; they started performing the weird water ritual about 12:30 and I swear I had just dropped off into a pleasant and relaxing R.E.M. cycle. It’s about 10:30 and I’ve wanted to go to bed for about a ½ hour now but I’m waiting for the strange ritual to cease.

If they were just doing something normal like dishes I don’t think I would care and could get to sleep. But when they turn the water on and the off so soon there’s a noise the pipes make, a kind of pressurized thud that happens in the wall separating me from the sink of origin. That “thud” is what jolted me awake last night. It’s a real inconvenience and it’s not even something I can really complain about because it’s not like they’re deliberately having a drunken party or playing video games too loud. They’re just doing something with the kitchen sink every 10 to 20 seconds.

I have no idea what is going on back there. At first I considered that maybe the people that lived there were doing dishes, but the amount of time spent repeating this cycle would either indicate they are doing a boatload of dishes (which I doubt) or they were filling up a 50 gallon aquarium. And I can’t imagine they’d have to fill the aquarium up more then once. I thought maybe the guy who lived there was mentally ill but you can hear conversation sometimes, like it’s a guy who lives there but his girlfriend is hanging out in the kitchen while he’s doing the weird water thing. You can hear normal mundane conversation in the background while all this sloshing, banging and stomping is going on. I thought maybe they cooked elaborate meals and then had to clean up an excessive amount of dishes, but even if only one person was over there doing the dishes they would still get done sooner then the amount of time the water ritual is going on.

Sometimes the strange water ritual is so loud I can hear the water in the pipes and the stomping in the front of my apartment. I can’t for the life of me figure out what is going on and am really intrigued. This has been going on for over an hour now, and I really want to inquire as to what they are doing. I went outside before when I first noticed the ritual walked past my bedroom window and their kitchen window. Their blinds were drawn but I could see a silhouette of a guy in the kitchen at the sink. Doesn’t the girlfriend get bored? What could possibly be going on?? Why does this happen several times a week?? Why can’t this guy just play video games or watch TV like every other normal 20-something.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

sping is in the neighborhood

he just won't look at the camera

cherry blossoms

spring's daffodils

cherry blossoms

It's been really beautiful lately, all of a sudden the cherry trees outside of my apartment are starting to bloom, the irises are growing, Rosemary's been in her garden and when the sun shines it's really warm. Spring and summer are especially nice out here in the Pacific Northwest. It's like nowhere else I've been so far; everything is so green and blue, the air smells extra fresh and faintly of a mix of pine needles and freshly baked bread (I think the bread thing is partly due to the fact I've been lucky to live near bakeries in a couple of apartments). I've been spring cleaning and getting rid of things and rearranging, giving my home and work a feel of moving energy.

Going through my old stuff evokes some interesting memories. It feels good to analyze something and determine that I can shred it; it's something behind me and something that won't come up again. I've shredded a ton of stuff in that category, for whatever reason I'm holding onto a decade's worth of stuff.

I think it's time to let it go.

Monday, March 24, 2008

4,000 Americans killed in the war with Iraq

An article is on CNN.com regarding the president's comments about the 4,00o American servicemen and women killed in the line of duty in this out-of-control violent war with...nobody really in particular...Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, terrorists, an extensive variety of jihad extremists...


While reading the article, this passage caught my eye:

"Of the 4,000 U.S. military personnel killed in the war, 3,263 have been killed in attacks and fighting and 737 in non-hostile incidents, such as traffic accidents and suicides."

I'm sure this article isn't mentioning the amount of servicemen and women who were injured in battle, then go to the hospital for a while and succumb to their injuries. There's many people who have lost limbs, have PTSD, and sustained brain injuries who don't die but hang on for years, trying to get a job, be part of their family, not be freaked out and try to remember what "normal" was.

I can't believe the number of casualties is up to 4,000. There's no exit strategy for this war with Iraq, or War of Terror, or whatever they're calling it, but what's even more alarming is that there has been no measurable progress. The government isn't assembling itself or even remotely running, everything there is a mess, the "Green Zone" is a joke, and every day one or two or more of our friends, family members, neighbors and co-workers doesn't come back.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

today is the 5th anniversary of the beginning of the IRAQ war

When originally pitched to congress, G.W. said it would cost 50 to 60 billion, and take about 18 months to topple Saddam Hussein. Five years later, the war's price tag is up to 600 billion, and by the time the war actually ends, it's expected to cost up to 1 to 2 trillion dollars.

3,992 members of the us military have died. Currently there are 158,000 troops in Iraq. There is still no exit strategy and no clear accounting of how and what the budget is spent on.

It has been 1,833 days since George W. Bush declared the end of the war.

"major combat operations have ended"

There's no system in place or anyone ready to step up and take over Iraq.

For more information, visit http://icasualties.org/oif/.

Remember Afghanistan? News about what's been happening over there can be viewed by visiting http://www.icasualties.org/oef/.

Here's a link to a CNN article about Bush's new all time low approval rating.



oh yeah, and this is my 500th post!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Happy Pi Day!

Happy Pi Day! What did you do for Pi day? I had some pie, of course.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Le.

Le is my neighbor, an older woman I met at work a few years ago. I worked pretty closely with her at work and got to know her well. Through the course of small talk I mentioned that I was thinking of moving out of the place I was at. She suggested I come by where she lives because there are a couple of open apartments and the landlord is nice. My current landlord at the time (who is a whole story on it's own) was not taking the news that I was moving out in a month and a half very well and was making things difficult. The prospect of a nice landlord almost seemed like a myth, like unicorns and leprehichauns.

Well, I met the new landlord (Ray and his wife Jill), and I got a good vibe about them. Shortly thereafter I moved to my present apartment, and have to say Ray is the nicest landlord I have ever had in my entire life.

Since Le's older and my neighbor, I feel obligated to be neighborly and help her out from time to time. I never mind though; helping her doesn't take long and one day I’ll be the old lady. Hopefully there will be a young person around the corner available when I need a piece of furniture moved or a light bulb in a ceiling light fixture needs to be changed. There is an incredible abundance of farmer's markets in this city and on Saturday mornings in the spring and summer, Le and I would pick up fresh fruit, produce, smoked salmon and baked goods. Last winter we got a bit of snow, so I swept her porch and walkway, and picked up some groceries at Safeway for her.

I think Le has something going on. Some elderly type of thing. Maybe early dementia, Alzheimer’s…something is definitely is going on. I first suspected this late last summer; I noticed she repeated a story she had literally just told me. About half way through I interrupted and told her the ending. She caught herself, "oh, I just told you that." I thought nothing of this really, I thought maybe she was tired or had something on her mind.

Last year I stated going out to lunch with her and a couple of other old ladies who live nearby. We would do this monthly and all meet at a Village Inn, Denny's, or some other type of divey place. I started to realize that even though Le is the same age of these other women (mid 60's), Le seemed a little slower then the other ladies. Le's reaction time to questions and actions has been steadily getting longer. The other two old ladies are still employed and are very computer savvy. Albeit they pursue research of cat photos and busybody message boards, they are active and involved—their minds are sharp. Le kind of knew how to use a computer, but has lost the skills she had a few years ago and has no interest in owning one. Her health has deteriorated a bit since I've known her, and she seems to often be a little swollen or shaky, so her fine motor skills for computer use are restricted in some way. Sometimes Le looks a little tired or swollen. She seems to get out of breath going from her apartment door to my car, which I park right in front of her apartment. And any closer and I'd be on the grass between the curb and her door.

So maybe last month Le and I went out to lunch without the other old ladies. We went to this great greasy spoon diner place up the street called "The Brite Spot." They serve good ol' American Breakfasts and have a straight up no nonsense menu. I ordered a spinach and Swiss omelet, and waitress goes through the motions of asking me what kind of potatoes and toast do I want. I answer, and then she turns to Lee and asks her what she'd like to order. Le looks up at her, and said, "I'll have what she's having." The waitress poses the same toast and potato query to Le, and Le stares blankly ahead and doesn’t answer. After an uncomfortable pause, the waitress asks her again, and then looks at me. I started to get a little concerned, and said to the waitress, "just give her wheat." Le looks at me and snaps out of it, and asks, "Oh, did someone say something?" So I told her the waitress wanted to know what kind of toast you want. Le looks at the waitress and says, "Oh, I'll have wheat please."

The remainder of the ordering and breakfast seemed to go off without a hitch, but I thought the way she spaced out was odd.

I ended up missing out on our February lunch so rescheduled again with Le for today. I usually call and confirm with her the day before our lunch, but was busy and forgot. In the past, Le had been very meticulous about writing our lunches or plans in her calendar, so it didn't occur to me that she would forget.

So, as scheduled, I show up at 10:45. I knock at her door; no answer. I ring her doorbell, and after a minute Le opens the door. She looked as if she had literally just gotten out of bed and threw a robe on. Her hair was all disheveled, buttons on her robe were buttoned wrong, and she had a real confused look on her face. "Oh, were we supposed to go somewhere today?" she asked with a worried look on her face. Boy, this wasn't a good sign. “Yeah, we were supposed to go to lunch,” I tell her, “but we can reschedule if you want.” I didn’t think she was in any shape to go out to lunch.

Le insisted: “No, no, I want to go, I need to get out of the house.” I asked her if she was sure, she was adamant about going to lunch and invited me in while she quickly got ready. “I’ll just be 20 minutes,” she yelled from the bathroom while I made myself comfortable and pet her cat.

20 minutes later Le emerges and we head out to Applebee’s. I usually try to steer her away from these types of places, but she had gift cards she wanted to use. She did ordered the same thing I did, and I ordered the healthy option with fresh fruit instead of fries. Le seemed a little pale and out of it on the ride over, so I asked her how everything was. She said fine, but I’d have to forgive her if she seems a little tired because she just got home from the hospital. She went on to explain how she ended up in the hospital, but it was conveyed by means of a bunch of disconnected fragments. Le also said that the landlady and neighbor came over to her house and said she needed to go to the hospital. The way she described it, it sounded like an intervention. I think Le’s words were, “Jill brought Vicki as backup to make me go to the hospital.” In the middle of all of this, Le mentioned they did a cat scan and found a brain aneurysm. That definitely doesn’t sound good.

In my observations I have to say Le’s gone from keeping a meticulous calendar and often arranging lunch or events on our block to not remembering dates or appointments. Earlier today I saw Jill (the landlady involved in the intervention) and her husband Ray, and asked them what they could tell me about Le and shared my experiences and observations. Ray said that Le was really upset the other day thinking someone had stolen her laundry when actually she hadn’t brought it down to the laundry room at all. Jill noticed that she has a hard time remembering dates and following though on things to completion. Jill also told me Le’s brother and sister in law were heavily involved, and Le didn’t mention her brother at all when we had lunch.

I don’t think this is a good sign. I told Ray and Jill to call me if anything comes up or if they need anything with regard to Le. Le’s sold her car and isn’t getting out as much these days. A while ago Le was thinking of moving to an assisted living facility but then changed her mind because she loves this neighborhood so much. She’s lived here for over 16 years, and I have to agree it is a great neighborhood. I wouldn't want to move either.

Friday, February 29, 2008

bissextile

what the hell is leap year all about anyhow?

why is it every 4 years we tack an extra day onto the end of February?

after briefly consulting wikipedia, it has something to do with the amount of time it takes the earth to travel around the sun. Apparently it takes approximately 365 days and 6 hours to complete a revolution around the sun, and when they were figuring out the calendar I guess someone came up with a system to just add a day every 4 years to compensate for the extra 6 hours. But the wikipedia entry is kind of convoluted because it then goes into how it's not exactly 6 hours and that leads me to believe the whole leap day thing is some weird bullshit thing we weird humans do. It's like a ritual or tradition or something.

On a side bar, the bissextile wikipedia entry argues and attempts to justify the leap day by stating. "Because seasons and astronomical events do not repeat at an exact number of full days, a calendar which had the same number of days in each year would, over time, drift with respect to the event it was supposed to track."

I think it's strange that as human kind we observe this Gregorian calendar with it's leap day quirks.

I find it interesting that it takes approximately 6 hours beyond 365 days for the earth to complete a revolution around the sun. Everything always goes back to space. Since man has been around and recording things, it seems he's looked at the sky and stars, evolved and developed technology that allows us to travel into space, land on the moon, and now we're building a space station (when we're not busy shooting down "weather" satellites).

I've had a busy month and missed out on blogging about all the space stuff that's been going on. I did closely watch the shuttle launch and latest endeavor, the lunar eclipse (very cool), and of course, the bullshit "shoot the dangerous weather satellite" situation. Which seems very intersting, especially since they did more harm then good by shooting it. I read an article somewhere (that I forgot and can't cite) that stated that any particles more the 4 inches in diameter pose a hazard to spacecraft (read "hazard to all future shuttle missions"). I don't know why the military and others who think this was a good idea can't equate that

blowing something up = changing it from 1 big piece to many many small jagged pieces

I mean this concept just seems like common sense. You don't need no college degree to figure that one out. So, okay, we have some anti-missile and satellite weapons we're itching to use. Why is what we did any different from what the Chinese did on January 11th, 2007? Who are the U.S. to criticize and get their panties in a twist over suspected demonstration of military capabilities when here we are just a little more then a year later doing the same thing?? It's amazing.

And how about the moon the other night, the lunar eclipse. could you feel the pull of the eclipse? I sure did. I totally felt it sucking my life force. I went onto my front porch and was overwhelmed by the pull; it felt completely magnetic. I do believe that the moon has an effect on many things, definitely all animals and plants. The moon has such an powerful impact on the tides, the globe's oceans and the weather; the moon is an amazing, continuous force. Since humans are comprised of between 55% and 65 % water and our brains are comprised of 80% water, I have to think that effects us somehow.

It's all connected.

Space is so much bigger then us. We have no clue and are wrapped around our condensed existence. We can't even comprehend space, I don't think at this stage of our evolution we don't have the capacity tu comprehend space. We're off to a crude, shaky and dangerous start, but we've also made progress and are learning things. But the whole world has to work together. None of this "China can't shoot down a satellite but it's okay if we do it" bullshit. It's counter productive and impeding technological progress. I don't think space is where it's at, but I do think there are other civilizations existing on other planets in different galaxies or dimensions. Space is the place you have to go to get there. I wonder who first thought to call it "space." I suppose that comes from a shortened version of the word "outer space."

Remember that bad movie with Martin Short, "Innerspace"?

Remember when the Challenger blew up? I was a horrified 8th grader, sitting in science class watching the launch on TV with the rest of the class. We remained silent after it blew up on TV, not really understanding what went on, when some kid in the back of the room asked out loud, "did it just blow up?" That was in 4th period. By 7th period, all of the jokes were going around. I still know a bunch of them.





Wednesday, February 20, 2008

lunar eclipse

can you feel the pull of the eclipse? Humans are comprised of between er, the moon has an effect on a globe of oceans and weather, I have to think that effects us somehow.

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_much_of_the_human_brain_is_water

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_much_water_is_in_the_human_body

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Invisible Absurdities

A co-worker and I were laughing today about the amount of paper clips in this tray:



We have to clock in and check our mailboxes every day; this tray BRIMMING with paper clips sits on the counter along with the time clock and giant mailbox slot thing. I think I first noticed this when I started working for this company. My first day on the job I was learning how to clock in and looked over and saw the tray in the picture above. I thought "boy, they must use a lot of paper clips here!" After I settled in at work I learned there's many small containers and boxes of paper clips scattered throughout the facility.

While we were laughing we never noticed or addressed that orange brown block. I think it's an eraser; I'll have to investigate further tomorrow.

Funny thing though, over the years this paper clip tray kind of blended into the rest of the environment and subsequently became invisible. I wonder who originally put that there? I'd love to play a prank for a day and hide it to see if anyone notices. I've never seen anyone grab a handful and haven't even heard anyone comment about it before. Why is every compartment filled with paper clips? Is someone using the paper clips from here? If so, who's replenishing them when they run low?

I think pens maybe would be a more sensible item to leave out and available; I'm always looking for a pen that writes. I usually have my own "special pen" but it ran out of ink and I have to get another one.

I'm sure there's other examples of this weirdness all over my work place in different forms, and it's probably in yours too--all these strange nuances and informal customs...my gosh, what do the aliens think about all this?

Monday, February 04, 2008

interesting people

There's a lot of interesting people who go to a job fair. It's a whole sub-culture that exists in it's own timeless bubble. We are all players in a locally traveling troupe of employment, recruitment and opportunity as if we were Cirque Du Soliel.

Monday, January 28, 2008

snow day

I was greeted this morning by a thin layer of semi-frozen slush on my windshield. It was a little inconvenient because I haven't broken down and invested in an ice scraper yet, but after about 5 minutes warming up the car the defrost cleared the windshield and I was on my way to work. The Portland area generally has a handful of days where we encounter winter-ish precipitation, and in most cases the small mess melts or dissipated in 24 hours. So this morning I didn't really notice anything unusual, maybe a little accumulation of wet slush to cover front yards and dormant vehicles. The roads were clear and it the air didn't feel as cold and dry as it had been--even though the sun was out last week the temp averaged in the mid-20's, everything was frozen. It didn't seem that cold today, I didn't feel I needed my scarf as I began my day.

After I get to work, I quickly scan the local news and find out that several schools in the area either have a 2-hour delay or are closed completely for a "snow day." I didn't see which communities had the delays and snow days; of course if the part of town has more altitude then the valley floor I understand if the weather's different. But I really think that some of the Portland area schools that had snow days could have opened. Nobody had to plow anything for Chrissake! I think they threw some deicer out on some treacherously curved roads and the interstate. I made it to work on time and I even stopped at the coffee shop on the way. I think all the school closures are just silly. The news spends all morning giving special coverage, blow by blow descriptions by live and on-the-scene reporters. "Hi I'm Suzy Smith in front of Franklin Elementary which has closed due to the dangerous weather out here..." meanwhile the property Suzy is standing in front of has barely any white patches of snow on it. I don't know why people freak out around here, especially with them all being so close to Mt. Hood and everyone so into skiing and snowboarding. Every other Subaru driving around has a snowboard box on the roof rack.

A significant amount of snow fell here in 2003. It wasn't too bad, but they don't plow right away around here and it causes a bigger mess. When they do plow, they only plow main streets, no residential streets. The main streets aren't plowed well because they had spent two days becoming a packed frozen block. I had the opportunity to watch a bus collide with the traffic light pole at the end of my block. It was kind of funny and it happened in slow motion. The bus driver got off the bus, lit up a cigarette, and I asked him if he was okay. "Yes, " he replied, puffing on his smoke, "and right now ends my shift today." I asked if he needed to call anyone and he said no, he had called and was waiting for another bus to come pick up the passengers (who were still all on the bus). I said goodbye and went on my way.

When I was a young lass going to school in the Northeast, I don't remember many snow days. I think once when I was in kindergarten the winter of '78 we stayed home a day. But I distinctly remember my father shoveling all day long. I remember the car was buried. I think when I was in 3rd grade we also had a snow day.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Big Jake and Jerome


the Big Jake alternate



I need to get the chocolate Jerome to complete Jerome's set.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

hook, line and sinker

U.S. Airways sucks Ass with a capital "A."

...so I'm marooned in McCarran airport in Las Vegas right now, waiting to get on the next departing plane to Tampa to visit my dad and family for a long weekend. When I made the flight plans initially, I had a close connecting flight (like 26 minutes to get from one plane to the next) so as you can imagine I had a siginifcant amount of anxiety. I took several steps to ensure that I would make my connection, or at least have the chances of making that connection in my favor. Some of these steps included calling U.S. Airways and trying to get an aisle seat towards the front of the plane and neurotically pestering every flight attendant I encountered at the ticket counter, at the airline gate and on the plane. Of course when I got to my original departing gate I noticed there was a 1/2 hour discrepancy between the time the plane was leaving on the marque and the time on my ticket (not in my favor either). I reiterated my concerns to a batallion of flight attendants and some of the reassuring bullshit they fed me were lines such as:

"Don't worry, we'll gain time going to Las Vegas because we're riding on tailwinds."

"We'll get there a 1/2 hour earlier the scheduled, so you won't notice the difference and still make your connection."

"Well, you connection is running an hour late from it's point of origin so you'll have time to spare to get to your next plane."

In my naivety I bought the reasoning they gave me and as we were landing the captain made a sort of back pedal comment to the affect of "uhhh...some of you may have missed your connecting flights, we will have a U.S. Airways representative at the gate to help you make arrangements for the next flight.

Great. The first thing I thought was this message applied to me. The eternity that passes from the moment the plane parks and the time the doors open and passengers start filtering out is amazing. So after I get off the plane and into the terminal wing there's no agent waiting for me, and it's a really unfamiliar place. I have to get my bearings and there's no maps or any clear signage to direct me to where I need to go. I confirm with the monitors that my flight had taken off 10 minutes ago. So the bullshit about my connection being behind an hour was something to placate me and after I weed my way through the maze of slot machines I find the U.S. Airways customer service desk.

The people working at the desk seemed extra tired, like they were pulling double shifts or something. The woman who helped me had dark circles under her dark circles. I explained the whole thing to her and she shook her head and said, "never believe what the flight attendants or the pilots tell you." Great, next time I won't I guess. I mean, what are my options? The customer service woman prints up my tickets and informs me that the next flight to Tampa is the red eye, which leaves about 7 hours from when I was standing there. 7 hours?? I asked if I could have a free round trip ticket or a meal or something, but my request was met with an "nooo, I'm sorry ma'am, we can't do that for you."

I take a seat briefly to call my ride in Tampa and let the family know my new arrival times. While I was on the phone, the crew who were on my last plane who assured me I would make my connection walked by. I started harassing them, I said "thanks for the flight guys. Guess what? I missed my plane. Thanks, yeah, have a great night, enjoy your next probably on time flight." They didn't even acknowledge me. Jerks.

So I take my ticket and leave, annoyed but trying to make the best of it because I really don't have any options. I noticed the departing gate on the ticket was F28, which seemed weird to me because I don't remember seeing an "F" wing. After wandering around here for a 1/2 hour, I asked a TSA agent if there was a map or floor plan somewhere. He looked at me as if I had 6 heads, so I proceeded to explain what brought me to the point of meeting him. I showed him my ticket, and the letter "S" is stamped all over it. The TSA guy told me that means I've been singled out for extra security screening and I won't be let on the plane.

What?? As you could imagine I was really annoyed now. I marched back to the tired lady who printed this ticket for me and relayed the conversation with the TSA guy. She was annoyed and told me he was wrong to tell me that. Then she was asking me who told me that. I didn't get his name but I told her it was the guy who was sitting by the exit to baggage claim. She reassured me again that I wouldn't need extra security screening and the gate information would be released a few hours prior to departure.

Okay, problem solved, now I just have to bide my time.

At one point I played $2 on slot machines, won $12 then lost it all. Ahhh, such is Vegas. I'm not a gambler and feel guilty even giving up that $2. But I'm sure I spent less then some of the other slot zombies spent.


Las Vegas is an interesting airport. I haven't been here for about 10 years, and didn't really remember anything about it except there were slot machines right in your face as you stepped off the plane. That hasn't changed. I'm trapped behind the security area, going between Terminals A and B. I sit in a spot for a while, watch people, use the internet (McCarran Airport's only saving grace is free wi-fi) and watch TV shows on my computer. Then I move to a different spot and do the same thing all over again.

City of Las Vegas

The power outlet situation here is kind of weird; there's no outlets in the gate areas. I thought I found some floor outlets but after I flipped the brass lid there were only empty holes beneath. There are places to use electricity hough; there are these uncomfortable metal bar stools in front of a Verizon display touting free electricity, a bar with about 12 outlets on it. So I sit in the comfy chairs and wear my battery down then move over to the uncomfortable metal stools and recharge.

I'm sitting in the Gate B2 area, where I think my plane will depart from (unless there's another gate change or problem). This areas pretty empty with the exception of a few lone travelers like me and then there's two chatty flight attendants sitting a few rows in front of me. It's a pretty man (wearing a lot of jewelery and has really nice hair) and a heavy set woman. They seem to be talking about co-worker or something that's coming off as gossipy. I have my headphones in but no music playing (thanks for the idea cuz!) so I can be aware of what's going on around me. I'm paranoid and lived in NY for a while so I'm constantly surveying my surroundings, watching people in window reflections to see if they're watching me, to make sure no harm comes to me. Not that it will, it's just the paranoid part of me speaking now.

Speaking of paranoia, I only brought carry on luggage with me for this trip and I'm glad I did because I don't know if I checked luggage when it would ever get to Tampa. I've heard horror stories from people about having their luggage lost for days.


There's an amazing variety of people coming through here. The travelers could be divided into two major groups--people moving fast, catching planes, arriving and getting to their hotels or home, then the slow movers (like me), dejected, despondent individuals killing time until their delayed or next plane leaves. Those two groups could be divided into sub-groups--fancy dressed people who smell like money, average joes connecting to flights, degenerate gamblers, people from foreign countries (again, sub groups--big families or business travelers), and old non-descript people who could fit into any of the sub-groups.

I just looked up and the heavy set flight attendant was staring at me, then quickly looked away. I'm not getting anything to eat or drink on this next flight because she'll put her dirty poo finger inside my cup and serve me water with those E.coli germs mixed in my beverage.

Okay they left. I heard her say something about the break room so I'm off the hook from that stare-fest.

Another flight update--my departing gate has been moved to gate A23. Trust me when I say it's a journey from B2 to A23. Not much in the way of stuff to do here, and for the Las Vegas area I must say I'm disappointed. There's a Fox Sports Bar, The Budweiser Lounge (barf), 2 Starbucks, a Burger King, some sandwich place I got a Southwestern Turkey Club from, a frozen yogurt place, an oxygen bar, a fancy candy by the pound place, and several empty areas that seem like they are waiting for an airport improvement. Many many slot machines, either in glass walled rooms or just out in the open.

One thing that's really annoying is there's these really aggressive U.S. Airways customer service agents standing at these tables all over the airport, opening up a conversation by asking if I'm interested in something free, a free flight or cash, some kind of ridiculous hook to get me to stop and hear the rest of their schpeil. So everyone at these tables that asks me I bitch to them how I'm stuck at this airport for over 7 hours and nobody from U.S. Airways offered me a free flight, free meal, sincere apology for abusing my trust...the least they could do is give me a free stuffed animal or pilots hat.

There's signs all over the place here advertising shows in Vegas and one that caught my eye was this game show event people could go to. It seemed audience members are picked to play some kind of games for money by either Bob Eubanks, Chuck Woolery or Jamie Farr. Now I get Bob Eubanks and Chuck Woolery. But Jamie Farr?? Corporal Klinger from M*A*S*H? What does he have to do with game shows? I'm glad those guys are working and all, but the big advertisement is scary. Bob Eubanks' pants are practically hiked up to his armpits. And all three have several crows feet on each eye. It's a whole flock of crows on their eyes. They look way too tan and very creepy.


So I'm over at gate A23 now, and there's another group of gossipy flight attendants. The night is much quieter the the day. I can clearly hear the distinct different dings and beeps from different slot machines. There's constant loudspeaker announcements that are so hard to hear and understand I think the NYC subway announcements are clearer. I like watching people play the slot machines; some of them look so determined. Everyone's carrying a Starbucks cup. If I drink coffee now I'll be up on that entire red eye. Hopefully I can sleep and wake up in a warm, sunny, tropical place. It's about 52 degrees in Las Vegas right now, I have 2 shirts and a hooded sweatshirt on and I'm cold. I keep putting my hood up like Obi Wan Kenobi. I wish I could have used a jedi mind trick earlier to get the plane here on time, or at least get something for my trouble.

I have a good seat and don't want to get up and go to the bathroom and risk losing it. My ass is starting to hurt. I can't wait to get there.