Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Havin' ourselves another bissextile type of year!

Last leap day (in 2008) I wrote about my observations and a bunch of other semi-connected thoughts related to space and other current event type of things. I noticed that I read a lot more news 4 years ago than I do now and I was a lot more obsessed with space, space accidents, and stupid space decisions. Space is kind of scary, I have to say I've watched a bunch of science fiction movies and shows between now and the last leap year and I've become just a little more nervous about the whole space thing. Having seen every episode of every season of every kind of Star Trek (except DS9 because it is boring and it sucks) there are so many unknowns in space. Phase variances, space-time continuum disparities, black holes, energy vortexes, alien races, faulty ship mechanics, environmental control malfunctions, hull breaches, warp breaches, food shortages, biological reactions, fuel cell depletion, sun flares, meteor storms, nutrino particle wave disturbances, enemy fire, radioactive gaseous nebulas, the list goes on and on. Space is such a wild card, it really is. If I had to pick between being one of those undersea explorers or a space explorer I really have no idea which way I'd go.

If you are looking for a good space science fiction thriller to watch, I highly recommend Pandorum. I am not going to give away any spoilers other to say that it is awesome because Dennis Quaid is in it and it is a great thriller movie. Another good sci-fi movie? Sunshine. Freaking amazing. If it's a particularly rainy weekend here's a third pick: Moon.

Well I was pre-approved for some bullshit credit line over at Fingerhut it seems. I got this lovely gem in the mail today:

We looked through this magazine and it is filled with so much future landfill crap. You wouldn't believe it, it's worse than Skymall! And I know people like my neighbor Le love looking through these catalogues, inevitably buying a few things, entering into the payment plans--yes this camera can be yours by making 54 payments of $16.99 a month! Effing Fingerhut. They are totally on par with phone book scam, it's this strange cycle of aggressive wasteful marketing paired with cheap and overpriced imported plastic junk.

Well happy leap day! Not a whole lot of excitement going on in the news. Davy Jones died today, a bunch of baby births, weddings and proposals occurred, some guy paraglided off of a building or something, a tornado in Tennessee, just a typical kind of late February/early March kind of day.

I saw the Monkees in 1987, I was living in New Jersey and they were playing at Great Adventure Six Flags. I was really annoyed because I thought the Monkees were stupid and would rather spend the time riding the roller-coasters instead of watching my mother embarrass herself yelling at Davy Jones like some sort of loon. I think at one point she lit her lighter and held it above her head. She was really into the Monkees and at the time I totally wanted to implode. I think Peter Tork was the best though because he was some kind of stoner hippie. Mickey was all right because he could play the drums and sing, and that always seemed like a tough thing to do. And Mike Nesmith's mother invented Liquid Paper. It seems Davy died of a heart attack, and he was a fit vegetarian. Go figure!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Why do I keep getting phone book deliveries?!?

I don't have a landline, and like the majority of the world I haven't had a landline in about 5 years. I only use a cell phone and I am not sure why but it seems like on a monthly basis I receive a phone book delivery. I have tried to trace the source of the book but so far it's been a huge waste of time with no positive result. How did I get on a distribution list for this?? Is it a "well you live in the neighborhood so you get one" kind of thing or am I on a client list and delivery schedule, and somewhere in Kalamazoo, MI an executive is beaming with pride because he thinks by continually updating my phone book situation he's doing me a huge favor?
Opened the door to let the cat out and was greeted a phone book!
Phone books are not only obsolete and incomplete but they seem like an incredible waste of paper and resources. I can't help but think about the waste all along the life cycle of this product--trees harvested, turned into pulp, turned into special phone book paper, contents organized and updated, graphics created, book is printed, then the books are sorted, stacked, wrapped in additional layers of plastic because it rains a lot in Oregon and most of us will step over it for a week, have the book shipped to the delivery points, hand delivered but driven to the neighborhoods where it will be distributed, recycling and garbage pick up, transport to landfill, everyone paid to participate in this process, the administrative and accounting staff required to support and pay the people who are responsible for making or delivering the book (indirect costs), storage fees, rental fees, workers comp costs, workplace injury issues (because I can't believe this all is running without at least one accident) and on and on.

All this occurs and I just grab this book and walk it right into the recycle bin. I suspect many of my neighbors are doing this too, or at least those who are into the phone books still have to recycle the old one. And plastic bags? I get they are trying to do us a favor but it just seems like a more thoughtful marketing strategy to have customers who want the product. What a colossal, wasteful process and at the end I am one of many annoyed people. And these deliveries are totally stealthy, as if the people delivering them know they are part of a gigantic scam. When I opened my door this morning and saw the plastic pile at the door, I so wanted to see who had just delivered it so I could chuck that effing book at his head.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

sick and the perils of google image search.

I'm sick. My eyeballs are burning and my head is foggy, inside my chest is itchy, I'm coughing, experiencing hot and cold flashes, and I keep forgetting what I start doing. A lot of walking into a room and then saying to myself, "What did I come in here for??" I have body aches so bad the only explanation is that I sleep walked down a flight of stairs last night, and somehow got up and back into bed. I woke up every three hours or so in such incredible discomfort, and the in-between time was filled with bugs-bunny-esque nightmare paint dream sequences.
I have a boat-load of homework due tonight and a ton of stuff going on in general...I want to get back to it as soon as possible so I'm going to aggressively treat this wicked bad cold. I went to the store earlier and picked up a few things to help me get better, and I am about to bombard my body with a blast of immune boosting stuff: garlic, honey, ginger, echinacea supplements, vitamin C, ibuprofen, and anything else I can think of. I will take a power nap and then see if there's a little relief improved mental clarity. I am really glad Ric is working a half shift today because when he returns home he can help me out.

On a completely unrelated note, when I was searching for the Bugs Bunny nightmare paint picture this totally unrelated picture came up in my image search:
hey bebe...let me help you out of your pants completely random. How does that happen? I could find no apparent commonality between "nightmare paint" and "Tom Selleck." I guess it could be worse. I think the most random I ever encountered was when I was searching for "Chinese calligraphy" and the ballon fetish website popped up as one of the first ten results.

I am observing that another unintentional side effect (ha maybe intentional) is that now I'm looking at the source of this oddly matched photo for clues as to why it came up as a result. The blog where this picture was located internet boredom lurker what are other people's lives like stuff. I don't want to look at it but somehow I can't look away. It's called "Pluck You Too" (ha...clever...) and if you arrived at my quasi-narcissistic meanderings because you were bored, you'll fill even more of the void by looking at that blog next.

I think someone important from Google is coming to speak to my business class in a couple of weeks so I will be sure to ask about this.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Hawthorne Safeway update and please stop "Pre-Selecting" me for stuff

The gigantic monstrosity up the street (otherwise known as Safeway) is well on its way to re-opening to the public soon. The previous building was set back on the property and a mere 33.000 square feet. This new "Lifestyle" format store will be 55,00 square feet, up against the sidewalk, and is a part of a larger marketing plan aimed at rebranding Safeway as the "Lifestyle" store. 

 The pictures below were taken a couple of weeks ago. 

SE 27th to the right, SE Hawthorne on the left.

Looking east on SE Hawthorne at SE 27th.
This entity is huge! It encompasses the whole block. It seems as if it's being put together with shoddy materials and sub-par workmanship, sprayed polystyrene and tattered sheets of plastic flapping in the wind all winter long. Whenever I look at the progress I find corners or seams that don't quite meet, spots where they didn't get the paint quite in or bricks set a little off. Another annoying outcome of this project is the amount of heavy equipment and personnel in and out of this area for the past year. It has been too much for this quiet Hawthorne neighborhood.

There was one day a few months ago when I was really sick and stayed home from work. All I wanted to do was sleep off the nausea but that proved to be impossible--some gigantic doomsday machine was generating a bassy, thudding, soul crushing noise. The magnitude of the impact from the pounding was enough to rattle the pictures and other decor on my walls.
Tattered plastic blowing in the breeze...
I am kind of curious to see what the inside looks like because I can't believe they'd have high ceilings and add height in favor of wasted space. This "new and improved" Safeway is easily the largest building in this immediate area--the next largest probably being the Fred Meyers further down (at SE 39th and Hawthorne). I don't think this neighborhood has seen a population growth that could support and additional 20,000 square feet of grocery and retail items. For that matter, I can't imagine the previous Safeway store design had enough sales to support it.

What's with the little windows placed in the big window space? 
Many neighbors have concerns about how a store this size will affect the neighborhood--increased traffic, safety/visibility issues, area livability and more. My neighbor Rosemary often gardens out front and noted that when she looks up the street the new Safeway "is blotting out the sun."

Just for perspective, here is a "before" picture:

This photo came from the Oregonian article "Southeast Portland: More on the Hawthorne Safeway closure."

I took this picture last summer and applied a color extraction filter. The area to the right is currently filled in by the Safeway construction effort. The tree and shrubs have been long gone

I know it's a little premature to make a judgement but I feel like I'm not going to like the new Safeway. I don't like how they seem presumptuous; I think the store design is ugly and while they think their produce and bakery items are higher quality and attractive to shoppers, to me it just means that they are average. If I want high quality, I go to New Seasons or a farmers market. Usually I plan on eating with the seasons and what's relatively local for us, I don't need my grapes shipped up from Chile thanks. I try to keep it on this side of the equator. 

On a completely different note, I've been getting weird solicitation junk mail a few times a week where the claim is that I've "been pre-selected" for whatever supposedly awesome thing they have going on. Just last Thursday I got a Dish network something-or-other in the mail that pre-selected me for something extra awesome in comparison to what they normally offer and/or do. Now, if Dish really did some intuitive marketing and researched their potential audience, they would know that I don't have any cable and don't own a TV. 

I also get the "pre-selected" for loans from local payday loan places. Like I would ever get a loan from these crooks! The outrageous amount of interest they charge is absolutely predatory. They mail this shit out and it looks like a real live check made out to the effect of $5,000-- or something. What if some tweaker intercepts mail like that?!Is this something they can take and commit identity theft with? I don't know how to get off of these lists. I would have to say I receive three "pre-selected" solicitations a week. I would try to opt out of whatever marketing machine is responsible, however my fear is that there is such an involved process to remove yourself from "the list" that you inadvertently put yourself on their radar in doing so.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

I completely missed 2011...

I can't believe I didn't get a chance to submit one single blog entry over the course of the 2011. I was pretty busy and I guess whenever I had a spare moment updating the blog wasn't high on the list. Fortunately I take a ton of pictures and it's easier to look back and see what occurred. Having the ability to do this now makes me a little nostalgic for the times earlier in m life when I didn't have access to this awesome feature, but thinking about this I could totally digress--there's enough material there for a separate blog post.
I started working at Cascade AIDS Project, one of the most awesome organizations I have ever known and I am proud to be a part of it!

My friends Liz and Max had a baby, Iris! it's been great knowing someone and getting a chance to see the baby develop and grow. I think they are really great parents and I feel I'm watching a life's potential being maximized at every opportunity.

I got to be on TV, Metro East Community Media. I was a little nervous but it was a really fun experience.

They closed and demolished the Safeway up on the corner. They are in the process of rebuilding a newer, bigger and better one. This is known as their "Lifestyle" store design. I learned that because I'm working on a research paper on Safeway. It should be interesting to say the least and I will post my findings later this term.

We went on a bunch of great hikes. We visited all over Oregon and Washington--Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helen's, Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson, Newberry Volcano, so many adventures they definitely warrant their own blog entries.

I started attending Portland State University. Once I got through all of the bureaucracy of registering being a student is great. It's right up the street from work and a nice campus. I have use of the gym at the Student Rec Center too and its really nice. So far so good, and at the rate I'm going I think I'll finally graduate around 2015.

I ate a lot of donuts and goodies in 2011. I also went to Baltimore and New York in November. 

I think last but not least I started playing a lot of Nyan Cat. Below is a screenshot of Nyan Cat: Lost In Space. I play it on my iphone but it is also available online at Kongregate is a great flash online gaming site. They have thousands of types of games, something for everyone! Shoot-em-up, strategy, role playing games, action games, multi-player, rpg and adventure, puzzles, tons of variety to choose from. A great time killer, for sure. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Eastern Oregon is the best.

I love Eastern Oregon. I don't know if I've posted about it before but I have been really missing the desert lately and felt the urge to post an entry about it. I can't completely articulate the feeling I get just thinking about the awesome variations in geology in Eastern Oregon, it's a strong coiled-spring like happy place kind of feeling.

H.S. circa 1999, On The Road and channeling my inner Jack Kerouac. 
My first time experiencing the desert in Eastern Oregon was in September of 1999, I was driving across country from Connecticut to my new home in Oregon. In the picture above I'm at the helm of a box truck packed with all of my worldly possessions, somewhere along the western end of I-80. I was excited to be moving to Portland but more excited to have a week to get from the old to the new. I had so much time to explore and this was the first time I drove across the country. It seemed as if around each bend was a new adventure, another great feeling.

My traveling companion, Japhy DeCatt
On the last leg of my epic trip across the country we spent the night in a small town at the Oregon/Idaho border. The next morning we were up before daybreak and got back on the road. As the moments passed and the morning unfolded the beauty and peace of the desert revealed itself to me. We drove slowly through the soundless expanses of earth tones and savored the changing hues and light. As midday crept near so did the temperatures, holding steady at a comfortable 80 degrees. It was pure heaven. 

I have been living in Portland, Oregon since 1999. I can't express how nice it is to have a high quality of life, access to opportunities and live in such close proximity to great places to visit--the ocean, the coast, the mountains, convenient access to cities like Seattle and Vancouver B.C. but also close to unique small towns with populations of 127. I think most importantly I really enjoy living near the desert. In just 2 hours I can drive east up and over Mt. Hood and be in a completely different place. Portland may be famous for its rain but 2 hours is a very reasonable driving time to be in sunny skies and t-shirt weather. 

View of Mt. Jefferson from hwy 26, just east of Mt. Hood.
I think for as long as I've had my car we've visited the desert a few times a year. We try to camp when we can and there are great camping options in the Ochoco National Forest and on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. One of the must-see sights in Eastern Oregon are the John Day Fossil Beds. There are three "units" and we've spent considerable time at 2 of the 3--The Painted Hills Unit and The Clarno Unit. We have only been to the Sheep Rock Unit once but plan to go back this year. 

John Day Fossil Beds, Clarno Unit, picture taken near sunset.

John Day Fossil Beds, Painted Hills Unit

John Day Fossil Beds, Painted Hills Unit

John Day Fossil Beds, Sheep Rock Unit

It's so incredibly breathtakingly beautiful out east
In addition to many geologic wonders out west, there are plenty of beautiful rolling hills, dilapidated churches and barns, ghost towns, active small towns with great fresh produce, state and federal parks, volcanic activity of some sort (Newberry Volcanic National Monument), paleioglyphs (is that even a word, did I spell that right? what I'm trying to say is ancient native cave and rock drawings), hot springs, the list really goes on and on. There are high areas where the impressive views are awe-inspiring and there are low places deep in canyons that make you really feel how insignificant the human lifespan is on the global timeline. You can collect all kinds of awesome fossils, Oregon has a global history of having every type of environment possible--a past that included being covered by ocean, swamp land, savannas, deciduous forests, grassy plains, ember-filled cooked ruins due to crazy volcanic activity. You can imagine there are all sorts of places around the state that hint to this colorful and active history. 

If this blog entry got you thinking about planning a trip out east (or west if you are from out of state) here are some great additional resources:

my Eastern Oregon Set on Flickr (330 pictures of eastern Oregon beauty)

Ghost Towns of Oregon (warning: while this is a great resource there are flashing advertisements on the page that I swear are seizure inducing)

A word of advice, this is what we've determined is important when it comes to driving around the state.

1. Make sure your cell phone has a car charger. Also plan on being in many areas with weak or no signal. 

2. Be sure to keep extra water and a blanket or two in the trunk. Also pack a tent if you have one, even if you plan on staying at a hotel.

3. Be sure to have AAA with the plus 100-mile towing option. You may need it.

4. Pack extra non-perishable food like energy bars and nuts. 

5. Be sure to have anything you need in case of an emergency. This includes extra medications if you need them. Be sure to have a good first-aid kit too.

6. Bring many maps, don't depend on electronic navigators. Be familiar with where you are, where you are headed and what size towns are along the way. There are limited opportunities for gas and food out east. 

Greetings from Fossil. Oregon. Yes there are TONS of fossils in this town! They are in a big pile behind the school. You can't miss it because there is only one school in town.