Tuesday, October 31, 2006

photoquota edition

I still haven't gotten around to sending Flickr any money, and as a freeloader I'm chafing under their 20MB per month upload quota. It's a use-it-or-lose-it proposition, and your unused MBs don't roll over to the next month, so I'm trying to use up as much of it as I can before the month ends (about 15 minutes from now). Here's one new pic from today (the top one), plus some tidbits from the archives:


A rose at the Police Memorial in Waterfront Park.


Moss in Lovejoy Fountain Plaza

red ivy

Ivy somewhere near PSU, I think on SW Lincoln or Jackson.


The Union Bank of California building on SW Broadway, downtown Portland.


Acorns somewhere near PSU.


Discarded electrical gear in the South Waterfront district.



I've been having a great deal of trouble coming up with properly Halloween-ish photos. It's cold and clear and bright and beautiful outside, which is great if you're a trick-or-treater, but not so good if you're me and you're looking for something bleak and grim to take photos of. Yesterday morning would've been better, and tomorrow will probably be better, but neither day is Halloween.

crows, waterfront park

As I mentioned before, taking b+w photos of crows and bare branches definitely counts as cheating. I'm not proud of it, but I did what I had to do. These were taken at the crow colony in Waterfront Park next to the Burnside Bridge. So, ok, the existence of this colony of crows is kind of a weird thing. It's a mildly creepy spot if you think crows are creepy, which I don't. Stand there long enough and you'll eventually meet one of the park's many drug dealers. Unlike the crack dealers on the transit mall, the weed dealers on the waterfront are nothing to worry about. They're usually cheerful and friendly and quite open about what they're up to, and if you're not looking to buy anything (which I'm not), it's just "ok, have a nice day". If this state ever goes the legalization route, these guys will probably go legit and open up Amsterdam-style "coffee houses" or something. Well, it'll be like that for a while, but because this is the US and not the Netherlands, soon a vast, aggressive, soulless Starbucks-like corporate chain will emerge, crushing everything in its path, while loudly claiming to be "kind" and "mellow" and all that. It'll be all slick marketing and minimum wage employees, and exclusive CDs at the counter, and corporate-logo upscale smoking paraphernalia, and words like "artisanal" and "fair trade" plastered on the merchandise, the whole works, and 20 years from now people will scratch their heads and wonder why anyone ever believed there was something revolutionary or countercultural about the stuff.

In any case, I've also got an audio clip of crows doing their thing, but I'm still trying to figure out how to get it posted here. Do I have to sign up for yet another freakin' third party service just to post a stupid WAV file? That's.... wonderful. Yay.

Ok, so the crows aren't really doing the trick today, and wandering off on a long tangent probably didn't help either. No fierce predatory creatures today either, although the local zoo has a new ocelot kitten. It'll be fierce eventually, but right now it's just fuzzy and cute.

I do have at least one really gross news item to pass along, though, an item on this week's Salt Lake Tribune police & fire blotter (which I mentioned on SNR a couple of days ago):

A fire broke out at a Salt Lake City funeral home Tuesday afternoon as workers were cremating the remains of a man who weighed more than 600 pounds. In the process, some of the body fat had liquefied and leaked out, causing a fire similar to a grease fire, said Scott Freitag, spokesman for the city fire department. An employee at Gardner Funeral Home, 1001 E. 11th Ave., put the blaze out with fire extinguisher before firefighters arrived, he said. Fire crews assisted with smoke removal. There was no damage to the funeral home, Freitag said.

I'm curious why they said the incident was merely "similar to" a grease fire. Well, no, really it was a grease fire. Eeeewwww......

I think I'm going to stop right there and go to the gym now....

Monday, October 30, 2006

Election Edition

One of the great things about having a blog is that you get to endorse people when there's an election, whereas the unwashed non-blogging masses can't. It doesn't seem very fair, but there you have it. So without further ado, here's who you're supposed to vote for, if you live in Oregon, and Multnomah County in particular.

On the top of the ballot this year we have the Governor's race, and the 1st Congressional District, and I regret to say I couldn't bring myself to vote for the Democratic incumbent in either race. I am, generally speaking, a loyal Democrat, but Gov. Kulongoski is a hopeless do-nothing bozo, and I can't stand David Wu. There's a point where even throwing your vote away is preferable to voting for the "Brand D" empty suit. If either guy loses by exactly one vote, I'll apologize and grovel and all that. Otherwise, I'm voting my conscience, and you can't reasonably ask me not to do that. Joe Keating is the Pacific Green candidate for governor, and I'm voting for him instead of Kulongoski. And in the race for Congress, I'm voting for the Libertarian candidate, Drake Davis, who strikes me as the most acceptable non-Wu candidate, even though Wu's basically a shoo-in this time around. I don't usually vote for the sort of Libertarian who gets on the ballot in this state, but he appears to be the real deal, a Libertarian who's concerned about civil liberties, not just tax cuts. If you're not in the habit of voting for third party candidates, by all means vote for the incumbents. They're useless, but they aren't terrible. Vote for anyone except the Republican in each race, basically.

There's also an open seat on the state Supreme Court. On paper, judicial races are nonpartisan, but everyone knows Virginia Linder is the (moderate) Democrat, and Jack Roberts is the (moderate) Republican. So vote for the Democrat. I don't think Jack Roberts is the Bible-thumpin', wiretappin', waterboardin' kind of Republican, but I'm not taking that chance in a Supreme Court race. One of the great things about this state is that years ago our Supreme Court decided that the state constitution's Bill of Rights confers additional civil liberties on top of those you get from the US Constitution. Since our basic liberties are rapidly eroding on the federal level, our state constitution may soon be the only document that still genuinely means what it says. So Supreme Court races matter now more than ever, is what I'm trying to say here.

The easiest race to call this year was the judicial race for Circuit Court, 4th District, Position 37, where the infamous Leslie Roberts gamed the system so that she's appearing "unopposed" on the ballot. You know it's an extraordinary situation when all the local print media outlets have endorsed a write-in candidate. Take their advice for once, and write in Charles Henderson.

The hardest race to call is another judicial race: 4th District, Position 28, in which there are no less than 9 candidates on the ballot. This race is so hard to call that I haven't actually picked anyone yet. I'll post an update later if/when I make up my mind.

Oh, and in Position 31, vote for Cheryl Albrecht. It's a race between someone with judicial experience (Albrecht) and someone who's been a prosecutor all this time (Kathleen Payne). I tend to look unfavorably on judical candidates who've spent their entire careers handling criminal cases, prosecution or defense. I'm sure it's useful and perhaps even noble work, but I'm not convinced either background makes for a good, impartial judge.

Ok, so now to the obscure special district races. I used to have to vote in a lot more of these when I lived out in unincorporated Washington County, where parks, water, emergency services, and all sorts of other things were handled by single-purpose special districts. Now, to my knowledge, there's just one, the West Multnomah County Soil & Water Conservation District. I wouldn't even have mentioned it, except that I just ran across this item at Bojack, concerning sneaky underhanded doings on the district board. There are four seats up for election. One is contested, two have incumbents running unopposed, and one has nobody running. Apparently under state law only people who own at least 10 acres of farmland in a given zone are eligible to run in that zone. (Is that even constitutional?) Zone 5 was recently redrawn so that nobody is eligible to run for the seat, so that after the election the rest of the board can simply appoint a crony to the job. This sounds like something you'd see in rural freakin' podunk Louisiana, not here in clean-hands process-geek Oregon. So I'm not voting for any of the incumbents, and I'm also not voting for their measure 26-82, the so-called "Permanent Rate Limit", which is actually a weasel-worded property tax increase. Right now the district has no tax base at all, and the measure would give them a small revenue stream of around $1m per year. That's not a lot of money, and the district does good things (at least on paper), so I was all set to vote for it, but I don't trust these people. Throw the bastards out, and then they can ask me for money. Or even better, get rid of this district and its East Multnomah counterpart on the other side of the river, and hand their duties over to the county, or to Metro, someone who's actually accountable. William R. Goode is the only non-incumbent in the race, so vote for him, and either leave the other races blank or write someone in, anybody but the incumbents.

That's the only local levy I'm voting against. As I said, I'm usually a loyal Democratic voter, so I'm voting for money for libraries, schools, and Metro's greenspace program. After spending much of the summer blogging about local parks and such, and wringing my hands about the budget situation, do you really think I'd vote against the greenspace measure? My street cred's on the line here. As with all tax measures, make a list of the measures you agree with, and vote for the ones on the list you think you can personally afford. Nobody should ever ask you to do any more than that.

We've got 9 state ballot measures this year. Most of them are easy calls. Measures 41 and 48 are sneaky, deceptive, and drastic anti-tax measures from Howie Rich and his slimy out-of-state pals. Vote no on those.

Measure 43 is a "parental notification" anti-abortion measure. I always vote against all anti-abortion measures, even ones that appear to be narrowly targeted. The people behind it are the same bible-thumping wingnuts who sometimes put total-ban measures on the ballot when they're feeling their oats. It's not that this is all they want, it's just this is all they think they can pass this year, and if it passes, they'll be back in '08. Never, ever, help the fundies win anything. Vote no on 43.

Measure 44 lets anyone without insurance participate in the state's existing prescription drug plan. It's not universal health care, but it's a step in the right direction, so vote for it.

Measure 40 would require Supreme and Appellate Court judges to be elected by districts. The poorly-concealed motivation behind this is to get at least a few conservative judges onto the statewide bench. The cover story is that judges should represent diverse geographic areas, some of which just so happen to be more conservative than others, by random chance or whatever. And sure, there's a kernel of truth to the complaint, in that almost all judges come from the Willamette Valley. But after all, that's where all the people are, and that's where the most-qualified lawyers tend to gravitate to. The very notion that judges are placed on the bench to represent the "interests" of any narrow subset of the population, geographic, economic, ethnic, or whatever, is disturbing. The courts are not the Legislature, and this measure is a bit hypocritical, coming from the same people who always complain about judges allegedly legislating from the bench.

Measure 45 is a new term limit measure for state legislators, replacing an earlier one thrown out by the state supreme court some years ago. I voted for the original measure, but I'm voting no this time, and so should you. After the last term limit measure passed, we got crop after crop of new legislators who knew nothing about the legislative process and cared even less, and brought nothing to the table but hardline ideology, on both sides of the aisle. When the Legislature wasn't gridlocked, it would produce all sorts of ill-conceived legislation. Lobbyists, who weren't subject to term limits, basically ran the show. We'll recover eventually, but legislative term limits were a mistake in this state, and repeating mistakes when you don't have to is not a sign of intelligence. Let's all admit we made a mistake the first time around, and vote no on 45.

Measures 46 & 47 are campaign finance reform, which this state desperately needs. One of the very few downsides to the state Supreme Court's expansive reading of our Bill of Rights is that "free speech" includes the right of huge corporations and other moneyed interests to spend as much as they like during election season. You don't have to be an Ivy League policy wonk to realize this has a corrupting influence on the political process. The local "liberal media" is spinning this as if voting no was a solemn civic duty. I expect they've been listening to special interests -- public employee unions and whatnot -- who've carved out a bit of turf in the existing system and want to defend it at all costs. The system is broken, and I'm not about to pretend it's any less broken just because the "good guys" can buy politicians too. Measure 46 is a constitutional amendment that allows campaign finance laws, and measure 47 is such a law. Vote for both.

Measure 39 is a local response to the recent Supreme Court ruling that allowed local governments to condemn and seize property, and turn around and hand it to other private parties. For some reason, as with the last 2 measures, loyal D's are supposed to vote against this as an article of faith. I guess we're all supposed to be allergic to anything that looks like a "property rights" measure. One big objection to the measure is that it might make urban renewal plans more difficult and expensive. To which I have to say "damn straight". That's the whole freakin' idea. Duh. Since when has the well-being of greedy rich developers been a progressive cause? Why should I lose any sleep fretting about how to make Homer Williams richer? The fact that we're even having a debate about this is a sign of what's been wrong with the Democratic Party for oh, the last 30 years or so. Sometime in the 70's the party became obsessed with celebrities and "limousine liberal" lifestyle issues and began sneering at the bread-and-butter concerns of ordinary people, resulting in the so-called "Reagan Democrat" phenomenon. Reagan was actually far worse for those people on a pocketbook level than any Democrat would've been, but he never sneered at them, and that counts for a lot. It's not actually a progressive act to look at, say, SE Foster Road and imagine tearing out all the auto body shops and replacing them with doggie day spas and yoga boutiques, even if the affluent gentrifiers moving in to the area would be reliable Democratic voters. Running people off their property because they aren't sufficiently upscale is wrong. Period. Vote yes on 39, dammit.

Which leaves us with measure 42. Measure 42 prohibits insurance companies from using credit scores to determine insurance rates. Insurance companies have increasingly been doing this in the last few years, and the practice disproportionately affects low income people. So you'd think the law would be a liberal cause, but it's actually the brainchild of Bill Sizemore, one of our state's menagerie of colorful far-right nutjobs. Sizemore actually got the Republican nomination for Governor back in 1998, and lost by the most lopsided margin in the state's history, dating back to the 1850s. So my natural inclination is to wonder what the secret catch is, and what icky special interest wins if the measure passes. Everyone's been trying to figure that out and nobody's come up with anything concrete, so I'm inclined to think this is a purely personal crusade on Sizemore's part. He ran into some legal difficulties a few years back, and legal problems often mean financial problems, and thus a lower credit score. I expect he's pushing the measure because his own insurance rates went up, and he was outraged and decided to take it to the voters.

If a bit of adversity can teach the guy a little compassion, at least in a limited area, there may be hope for him yet. I'm not holding my breath waiting on that, but I'm still voting for 42. It feels naughty to be voting for any Sizemore measure, ever, but I'd probably heard of the issue before he ever did, so I like to think Sizemore's agreeing with me, not the other way around.

So there you have it. Now vote, dammit, and make sure the thing's filled out correctly, and signed, and mailed back on time. Someday the powers that be will listen to my pet idea of taxing the bejeezus out of people who don't vote, since if they're that apathetic clearly they're ok with whatever the rest of society decides to do. If they get angry about it, they can simply vote next time and get an exemption from the "apathy tax". Sure, some people may not like it, but what exactly are they going to do about it? If they're too lazy to even fill out a ballot, do you really think they'll go to the trouble of suing? Not very likely, I expect. Complain to their legislators? Their legislators can be sure that, by definition, the complainer did not vote for them in the last election, and may not at the next election. So there's really no upside for 'em in helping this person. Anyway, that's a topic for another day. So vote. Unless you're planning to vote Republican, in which case you ought to fly to Palm Springs and play some golf, or go club some baby seals, or whatever it is you people do for fun, and don't come back until the election's over.

Friday, October 27, 2006

From the Briny Deep



A couple of photos from the Seattle Aquarium, taken way back in April. These photos didn't turn out well at first, and what you see here is the result of a great deal of GIMP-fu, erasing bits of glare from the flash, fingerprints, weird reflections. I don't claim to be a photography guru; I'm just happy I could salvage something from the original mess.

Sadly, I've forgotten what kind of fish these are. Likewise, I know the next photo is of a salmonid of some kind, but it's been so long I don't recall if it's a steelhead, or a chinook salmon, or a rainbow trout, or whatever. And I'm sure it was taken at the Bonneville fish hatchery, again way back in April, prior to this year's backyard cookout season. So this particular fish may still be there, or it may not.


I'm probably losing native Northwesterner points by admitting this, but if I go fishing (very rarely) I don't catch anything, and the fish sure don't look like this (anymore) down at the grocery store. So I have to admit I can't tell salmonids apart by sight, generally speaking. Now, I can say with confidence it isn't a shark, or an angelfish, or a seahorse, or a stingray. The lack of whiskers suggests it isn't a catfish either. And it doesn't really look like an eel or a lamprey, either. The fact that it's in this pond suggests it isn't one of those freakish deep-sea fish with the huge teeth. And it's not a jellyfish or a starfish since those aren't actually fish. So I guess I can swing a bit of basic taxonomy, but only up to a point.


The octopus mascot outside the Greek Cuisina restaurant in downtown Portland. Yes, I realize it looks like an escapee from a small town parade float. People (myself included) roll their eyes at it, and at the restaurant, a little. Although that doesn't mean I'll say no to a couple rounds of ouzo and a plate of garlicky stuff I can't pronounce, and after the ouzo I might be willing to break a plate or two, you know, just to keep it real and all. Besides, it's bad for business if your restaurant's mascot is actually scary.

Speaking of cephalopods from the deep, here is the absolute coolest vanity license plate in the entire universe. Ever. Mostly because of the little red handprints...

[Okay, okay, I admit it. I'd started to think the previous "mildly nsfw" post was maybe a little crass and juvenile, and I wanted to scroll the thing down the page a little, just so it's not the first thing people see when they come here. And I had a few vaguely maritime but otherwise unrelated photos lying about, and its true that I'd been playing around with GIMP, trying to clean up the top photo a bit, primarily just to get more of a feel for the program. So anyway, I had the photos handy, and came across the links about that license plate -- go click on them now, if you haven't already -- and I thought I could get a cheap filler post out of 'em. And here it is, apparently.]

Thursday, October 26, 2006

mildly nsfw edition


Someone (a utility co. most likely) spraypainted this on SW Stark, in downtown Portland, for reasons of their own. I'm really kind of curious what it signifies, aren't you? (The grad-school theoretical musings about "signifier" and "signified" in this situation are left as an exercise for the reader.)

On a related note, it seems Portland, Maine is home to perhaps the world's only topless donut shop. (Some visitor reviews of this establishment here and here). My wife, who ran across this in the Portland, ME newspaper, suggested it has all the bases covered so far as infantile male desires go. I like to think I know a thing or two about infantile male desires, and I'd argue they really won't have the complete package unless they add, at minimum, beer, bacon, and ESPN. Plus lots of chrome. Possibly cheese, too, and maybe peanuts. Oh, and steaks. And you can't go wrong with stuff that's on fire, either. Everything goes better with fire.

It's surprising that our fair city doesn't feature anything like this. All of our donut shops are of the fully clothed variety. Even Voodoo Donut. Well, the staff, anyway. The customers, I'm not so sure about.

This brings us around to today's lesson in physiology and applied physics.. Although... two small turkeys!? I can't get that image out of my mind now. Other than that, I'm really not in a position to comment at length about the article, beyond offering a sympathetic "Owwww!!!"

And in a less-directly-related item, it seems that -- for the first time ever -- teenagers are dancing in ways their elders disapprove of. Shocking! Intolerable!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

the wrong sunrise


Another damp and grim morning, this one with the added joy of trekking out to the far reaches of industrial NE Portland to subject the old MG to the rigors of DEQ emissions testing, followed by quite a bit of PHB-herding. It was really quite ugly out there this morning, and I had to venture out into the elements around sunup, which is quite unusual for me. It was an ugly morning and I took no photos, but I did have a few sunrise photos from back in late January gathering dust in the archives, so here they are, instead. I realize these pics are of the wrong sunrise, but it was better, and this is my blog, dammit.


In any case, despite today's pathetic excuse for a sunrise, I really ought to be in a good mood today, even though I'm not. First, a miracle happened and the car passed emissions without having to visit the shop, which is extra nice since I'd procrastinated about this until almost the end of the month, and my tags were set to expire at midnight on Halloween. So that was an unexpected nice bit, even though I got rained on a lot in the process. I guess on the bright side this means I didn't waste any part of a nice sunny day waiting in line at the DEQ station.


Second, I (probably) saved my employer a mountain of cash today. Remember the overseas outsourcing thing I mentioned a couple of days ago? It turns out that the widget this firm in India (which will remain nameless) wanted to build for us -- well, the one part our management thought we actually wanted, out of the huge baroque architecture they were proposing -- is actually just a thin wrapper around the inotify mechanism that comes with Linux kernel 2.6.13 and later. They'd led us (and by "us" I mean "our PHBs") to think this "component X" would be vastly more complicated than that, and wanted gazillions for it, where in reality I could probably write the damn thing over the course of a weekend. Hell, probably a couple of hours would do the trick, to get the core functionality down. Granted, it still wouldn't work with kernels pre-2.6.13, but their stuff wouldn't either -- although they were quite happy to do the "mumble, mumble, subsequent version" song-and-dance instead of leveling with us. Hell, I understand they even led our PHBs to believe this would be super-easy to port to Solaris, Real Soon Now, which is absolutely, positively untrue.

Maybe I'm overreacting, but it really feels like they were trying to pull one over on us. It's vastly more infuriating when someone who is supposedly an engineer tries to con a fellow engineer; you expect that from marketing and bizdev folks, because that's what they exist for. It's a big world, and there's a place for that. But when someone who on paper ought to be a fellow geek tries to dazzle me with slick Powerpoint slides and a bunch of handwaving, that's a mortal insult, and I prefer not to do business with that sort of person. I wish I could just be happy about saving the company money, but I'm still feeling insulted, and that takes priority, I'm afraid. The worst part about it is that they thought we (and by "we" I mean "I") wouldn't catch on to what they were up to. They thought I wouldn't get curious what was so special about kernel 2.6.13. They thought I hadn't done my homework, and wasn't familiar with stuff like inotify/dnotify. They disrespected my Google-fu, and that's something I simply can't abide.

Which is not to say the deal's off, necessarily. I've been around the industry long enough to know things often happen for nontechnical reasons. Right or wrong, it's a fact of life we all have to live with. And I gather that our PHBs and their PHBs go wayyyyyy back, possibly all the way back to wherever it is PHBs spend their larval years (a fraternity, maybe?) So we may still end up paying them to build component X for us, but at least maybe we'll get a better deal on it. Or maybe we'll still get gouged, but in return their PHBs will let our PHBs win at golf, or they'll send us a swanky fruit basket that doesn't quite make it over to Engineering, or something useful like that.

A few echidnas

I'm far too busy to do a serious post today, but here are a few more pics of echidnas I came across recently:

Monday, October 23, 2006

welcome to flower mode

purple flowers, south waterfront park

Hey, kids! Here's the latest installment in my interminable series of fruit-n-flower photoblog posts. I realize I promised to post about North Korea before posting any more silly photos, but I still haven't solved the geopolitical situation on the Korean Peninsula. It'll be any day now, I promise.

Updated 1/18/2011: Still haven't solved the North Korea thing. Thus, still no post about said topic. I've posted a few (ok, more than a few) additional flower photos in the intervening time though, the latest being some sorta-decent hibiscus photos from Honolulu. FWIW.


Since this day is not that day, here are those fruit-n-flower photos instead. Photos #1, #2, and #4 are from South Waterfront Park, #3 is from Printing Press Park (on 1st next to the Morrison Bridge ramps), and #5 is near SW 2nd & Ash, in downtown Portland.


I think I've said this before already, but before I had this here digital camera I'd never really noticed all the bushes putting out little red berries this time of year. It seems like a strange time to be putting out fruit; maybe it's for the benefit of passing migratory birds or something. In any case, I'm starting to think I'll look back on 2006 as the year I took all those dumb nature photos. I'd like to take more credit for these pics than I really deserve; what you see is mostly the work of the camera's fancy auto-closeup mode, signified by a cute little flower icon. Turn that on, hold the camera reasonably still, and make sure the camera autofocuses on the right thing, and you're 90% of the way there.


It's not that I'm arguing that these photos are capital-A Art or anything, just that this is way better than anything I ever did with my crappy old film camera. Maybe I'll have to go dust the poor thing off one of these days, for old times' sake, just to be retro -- although I'm not very anxious to do that, any more than I am to dust off the old Atari 400 and try to grind out some Java. It just wouldn't be up to the job.


As usual, I have no idea what any of these plants are. I expect that all of them other than the white berries are non-native, and I'm not 100% sure about the white berries either. Feel free to chime in if you know what any of this stuff is, because I sure don't.

Friday, October 20, 2006

South Waterfront Streetcar

A thrilling video of a ride on the new streetcar extension to SW Gibbs St. I think the streetcar operators really enjoy the new extension, since they're off city streets for a bit and they can really floor it for once. Well, "floor it" in streetcar terms, anyway. I think the driver said we hit 29MPH at one point.


I arrived at the tail end of the mini-gala they put on for the grand opening. It wasn't too long after the official 11AM opening, and we actually saw the streetcar full of visiting dignitaries riding the other direction, and we all waved to them. So it's not like we got there an hour late or anything, but already the bastards were out of coffee. There was a tray of mini-scones left, so I grabbed one of those and started moseying around the area. There's really not a huge amount of stuff to do in the South Waterfront area right now. There aren't even any restaurants close by. The closest is the 80's-era Old Spaghetti Factory maybe 8 blocks or so to the south, and I'm not sure it's walkable right now with all the construction.

(Before we move along, note the tram tower on the left of the photo. The actual tram terminal is a large structure a bit off to the right from here. Also note that the streetcar tracks continue south; the upcoming extension to SW Lowell St. is supposed to open around next August or so.)


So first I took another peek at our fair city's newest city park, right in the middle of S. Waterfront. As I mentioned last time around, the thing is two square blocks, cost $7M, and right now it's just a flat expanse of grass. Ok, now it's grass plus this historical marker. This marker isn't new, but it used to be directly under the Ross Island Bridge, where it marked the location of the first pioneer house in Portland. You probably can't read it in this photo, but it reads:


(Ok, the URL wasn't on the original plaque. I'm just trying to be helpful here.)

It's true that the original location was pretty obscure and hard to find, but it was the correct location, or so we're told. Now everyone can see the thing easily, but it marks the wrong spot.

It looks as though someone just stuck a forklift under the slab it rested on before, and carried the whole thing over as a unit and dropped it here. Nice.



And here are a couple of photos of the new stretch of greenway along the river. Like the Riverscape bit I covered a couple of days ago, it doesn't connect to anything on the north or south. Nobody else was walking there, although there were a lot of rowers and kayakers on the river. On the north, there's the Zidell barge-building operation, although the PDC and friends have their designs on that land, so I expect the Zidell operation will be driven out in short order. On the south, I guess they just haven't gotten around to it yet.

As you can see, this stretch is emphatically NOT a city park, and management can kick you out if they don't like you. Probably they taser you if you don't look rich enough.

Like the Riverscape stretch, this bit is kind of disappointing to me. I've made the point before (though I don't think on this blog) that the only reason to care about, much less favor, a private development like S. Waterfront is if we get significant public amenities out of the deal. Which is a fancy way of saying "What's in it for me?" (I'm not yet convinced the tram counts as a significant public amenity.) And this waterfront area sure doesn't look like the fancy high-concept architectural drawings the big boys showed us when they started planning the area. This narrow lil' path won't be able to safely handle the bike and jogger traffic it'll attract once it's connected to the outside world. I guess at least when the first retiree dog walker is mowed down by a crazed faux bike-messenger type, it'll be a really short tram ride up to OHSU.

On the ride back to civilization, I was joined by a few straggling semi-dignitaries and hangers-on, who were either going back to the office, or heading out in search of the perfect fruity $12 cocktail, or possibly both. So I got to listen to people nattering on about which architecture schools all of their friends attended, and blathering self-importantly about some sort of Orwellian-sounding "Bicycle Master Plan". I, for one, welcome our new two-wheeled overlords.

One reason I go to these things is to see what sort of person goes to these things, I mean, other than myself, obviously. This time it was the aforementioned in-crowd, plus a lot of old guys. You know the sort, the ones who think they know everything and want to reminisce about the good old days all the time. They can be kind of entertaining, in an annoying way. They always talk really loud (like on the video clip for example), and it's remarkable how often they're wrong when they're convinced they're right. As far as I can tell, to these guys all historical events after about 1970 are a complete mystery, and a constant source of amazement and dismay. When they see something new, they always say something noncommittal like "well, that's something". I suppose someone back in the 50's taught them that anyone who expresses an clear, honest opinion is a gay communist or something.

So in short, I really, really don't want to be one of these guys when I'm 70. The fact that I showed up despite being about half that age isn't much of an encouraging sign, though. I mean, I guess I can argue that I only did it for my legions of adoring Gentle Reader(s), and that's even almost true. Although I also showed up on opening day for the Red and Yellow MAX lines, plus the 2001 opening of the streetcar and the opening of the Riverplace extension last year. Oh, and let's not forget the big Reservoir 3 gala back in July. I showed up for that too. And all but the last one happened before I ever had this thing.

I'm not so sure I'm going to show up and ride the tram immediately when it opens. I'd like them to get the inevitable bugs worked out first. What it boils down to, basically, is that I guess I've never been big on plummeting, and I avoid it whenever possible.

surly & unmotivated

I realize I promised to make the next post (i.e. this post) weighty and serious, with no photos. I think we're going to manage the lack-of-photos part just fine, the rest I'm not so sure about. As the title indicates, I've been in a surly, unmotivated funk of late, and I think I'll just sit here and complain for a while, if you don't mind.

As a geek, I tend to think in terms of bullet-point lists, as readers of this blog or its geeky sibling have probably noticed by now. So here are a few things that I'd like to register a complaint about.

Outsourcing overseas

This isn't an abstract rant against the basic idea of outsourcing tech jobs to low-wage countries. In RL it looks like my employer's going to contract with some company in India to build a small-ish software component for us. And it's going to be my job to interface with these guys. So far it's been several rounds back and forth, trying to explain that, no, we don't need a whole new network architecture for our product line, and no, we never said anything about wanting a mobile phone-based administration package. What part of "no thank you" don't you understand? Sheesh. Oh, and stop babbling about JNI. JNI is an abomination. A useful abomination, sometimes, but an abomination nonetheless.

I guess I can't fault these guys for being hungry, nor can I fault them as engineers for generally wanting to build stuff. But c'mon, already. How about you guys go read our requirements doc a couple more times, compare that with your proposal, and then get back to me?

Blogging malaise

I think I've fallen into a rut here. I don't feel like I've produced anything terribly useful on this blog for a while now. Well, there've been a few interesting photos lately, but as I mentioned before, posting too many of those is unkind to my vast legion of faithful Gentle Reader(s) with dialup connections. Yes, it wasn't very nice to either of you guys, and I humbly apologize. The streetcar stop down at South Waterfront opens tomorrow, so I'll probably get a post out of that, but that's not exactly uncharted territory for this blog.

I also feel guilty because I still have a sort of sense that this ought to be a political blog, but usually it isn't. I have a sense that this thing would be more "worthwhile" somehow if I talked about the great issues of the day a bit more. Hey, I got a few posts out of the Foley thing, but I'm still not convinced that counts.

The tyranny of usefulness

I've been spending more and more time lately posting over at SNR rather than here, since (understandably, I guess) a lot more people are interested in the SCO saga than in play "follow the bouncing Markov chain" with me. (Which is a fancy way of saying this blog is full of mostly unrelated crap, and I bounce from one thing to the next with very little rhyme or reason. If I hadn't eternally perma-banned the phrase "random musings" from this blog, that would be the phrase I'd use.)

So anyway, right now I'm getting more positive reinforcement posting there than I do here, even though SNR is much more narrowly focused and really not as rewarding to work on. People actually thank me for writing the other blog, and I don't get much of that here. I mean, not that I'm feeling needy or insecure or anything, I'm just saying that providing a "valuable public service" can be kind of addictive, even when it isn't all that much fun. It's a problem.

Govt. aggravations

So yesterday I got a grand jury summons from Washington County. Luckily for me, I haven't lived in Washington County for about a year now. Actually I guess I shouldn't say "luckily"; I've never had jury duty, and I've always said it's an important civic responsibility that people shouldn't try to weasel out of, plus it even might be an interesting experience. Everyone should do it at least once, and my number hasn't come up yet. I mailed back the flimsy little postcard where one checks the "not a resident" box and gives one's new address, and I have to say it looked like exactly the sort of thing that gets lost in the mail without a trace. Well, if it does, and they send a nice man with a badge around to look for me, he'll be knocking on the wrong door, and the new residents are in for a bit of excitement, I suppose.

Meanwhile, I've also got to renew my vehicle registration again. I could swear it seems like this happens every 6 months or so, even though the calendar says 2 years. And I realize it isn't reasonable to complain about something everyone with a car has to do, but I feel I have certain extenuating circumstances. For starters, my car is nearly 30 years old, and is extremely small. There was a time when under state law, cars over 20 years old were excused from having to pass a DEQ emissions test, but they changed the law back in the early 90's and now the cutoff is fixed at 1974, supposedly forever. The DEQ inspection stations measure emissions in one of several ways, based on the age of the car. Mine, I think, has to go on the dynamometer stand, so that they're measuring the exhaust created when the car is in gear and rolling. The latest generation of equipment simply clips into a connector under the dash and reads an engine code or two. I haven't seen any concrete numbers on this, but I strongly suspect that there are so few cars from the 70's on the road anymore that it's hardly worth it to maintain the testing equipment, and their impact on overall pollution rates is virtually nil. So really, I don't think I should have to take the thing through emissions testing. Since moving downtown, I barely even drive the thing: Maybe once or twice a month, tops.

But as usual, the state isn't listening to reason, and so I have to find a nearby garage that works on MG's. I used to take the car to a place out in North Plains, and I was quite happy with them, but since I've moved that location's become very, very impractical. I think I've found a place to try, assuming they do DEQ work. We'll see.

Ted Kulongoski

I finally got a Kulongoski flyer in the mail today. I was surprised, since his campaign's been remarkably invisible so far. The guy's the incumbent governor, with money in the bank, and he's not getting his message out. I called the guy a hopeless bozo and voted against him in the primary, but I was prepared to admit he was a pretty good campaigner, if a complete washout for the next 4 years afterwards. I'm starting to think he's a hopeless campaigner, now, too. I don't actually want him to lose to Ron Saxton, despite all the Ted-bashing I've engaged in, but I'm starting to worry that he might. Now, in a year that's supposed to be a disaster for Republicans (although I'm taking a wait-n-see attitude on that point), Teddy's on the verge of losing to one. Most newspapers around the state seem to be endorsing Saxton, and they aren't doing so because of the guy's positive traits, but because of their disappointment with ol' T.K.

It woudn't be reasonable to blame Ted personally for the fact that the flyer was st00pid. It, and the strategy behind it, are no doubt the product of some clueless, faceless political consultant. It seems that Ted's people have decided immigration is a big issue in the election. I really don't think it is; at least it isn't a huge hot-button issue for me. The fun bit is that Ted's handlers are trying to steer him to the right of Saxton on immigration; he's for rounding 'em up and shipping 'em out, basically, although he hasn't actually been doing that the last 4 years. Saxton himself made some unconvincing anti-immigrant remarks in primary season to keep the Republican primary wingnuts, er, voters, happy, and that was the last we heard from him about immigration. And Saxton's also perceived as vulnerable on the issue since he had a farm for a while and may have employed illegal immigrants. So I think the plan is to play the populist, protectionist card, and paint Saxton as one of those nasty business Republicans who value cheap labor above all else. Hmm. Maybe that'll work, and maybe it won't, but it has the strong smell of a clueless campaign grasping at straws.

Now, Saxton isn't a wingnut himself, or if he is, he hides it quite well, so a Governor Saxton would probably not be the end of the world. I tend to look for more in a governor than not being the end of the world, so I'm not going to vote for the guy myself, but I'm not so sure I'm going to vote for Ted, either. I'm still mulling this one over.

Congressional Democrats

Why, you might be wondering, would I complain about Democrats in Congress right now, right when they're maybe on the verge of taking over. Aren't they on a roll?

Well, for starters I'm still not convinced they're about to take control of either house. There's still plenty of time before the election, and George and Karl still have plenty of dirty tricks up their sleeves, and that's if the D's don't manage to shoot themselves in the foot unassisted first. It's a do or Diebold election for the R's, and I can't even begin to imagine what they might try to pull if their backs are up against the wall.

And if they do win, I'm really starting to worry that they'll blow the opportunity and alienate the public through gridlock and sheer pettiness. As much as the R's deserve it, and as much as I'd personally enjoy watching it, the theme for the next Congress should not be "Payback Time". That means doing genuine oversight and holding Bush's drones accountable, but not fast-tracking the impeachment thing, at least not from day 1. And it's probably not wise to retaliate against R's in Congress who were so mean and unfair in the years after 1994, as much as they have it coming. Or at least, wait a while after the session starts up before really putting the boot in. If the public decides the D's are about nothing but revenge, 2008 isn't going to be a fun election.

None of this has happened yet, obviously, but I have a persistent bad feeling about it, and complaining makes me feel better (temporarily).

Ok, well, that's what I've got at the moment. Actually I've got several more things I would happily go off on a tangent and complain about, but I've reached the limit of what I feel like doing right now. Did I mention I've been feeling unmotivated lately?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

...wherein I repent, but not just yet...


A chair under the Fremont Bridge. This chunk of land kind of looks like a city park, but it's owned by the Oregon Department of Transportation, and they don't much care for pedestrians. The place is covered with signs ordering you not to step off the sidewalk under any circumstances, because if you do, you're probably one of those icky homeless people who live under bridges or something, or at the very least you've violated the Law, and therefore it's off to Guantanamo for you, buster.

I actually stepped off the sidewalk a bit so I could take a few photos, although I was legal (I think) when I took this one. Ultra-candid admissions like this are one reason I use a pseudonym when trolling the interwebs.

I'm usually extremely lenient if people want to use photos of mine (in the rare cases where this happens), since I don't plan on making any money off of 'em anyway. But if you want to use this photo for your latest shoegazing indierock album cover, I'm going to need a cut of the proceeds. Thanks.


A discarded "nonpartisan" voters' guide in a trash bin on Lovejoy near one of the streetcar stops. By taking this photo, I got into a long conversation with an older gent who regaled me with tales of crooked politics in Philadelphia. For the first 5 minutes, it's great to find someone else who understands the Electoral College, and after that it's kind of tiresome.


Speaking of politics, here's another great reason to remember to vote in November.


The Fremont Bridge from the new Riverscape development, on Naito Pkwy north of the bridge, between 14th & 18th Avenues.

I've always wished I'd been in town in 1973, when the bridge was built. Seems the whole huge central span was constructed off-site and then barged in and installed as a unit. Call me an engineering geek if you like, but I really would've liked to have seen that.


The pedestrian path at Riverscape, and some of the townhouses. The area actually had a slightly bleak and empty feel to it, but maybe that's just because it's extremely new, and the path doesn't actually connect to anything to the north or south. It almost connects with another greenway segment that's part of the Fremont office complex just south of the bridge; the two pieces are separated by about a block or so of vacant lot, which I think is owned by the city as part of the "Big Pipe" project.


The "Fountain for a Rose" in O'Bryant Square. I risked life and limb for you, my Gentle Reader(s), and walked through the square rather than skirting the edge. You may be surprised to hear this, but I didn't see a single discarded syringe, nor did I see anyone who looked likely to discard a syringe in the near future. Maybe that's because it isn't dark yet, or it's the wrong day of the week, or the square's supposed legions of druggies all saw me coming and all hid somewhere. Or maybe the place just gets an undeserved bad rap from people who haven't been there in years.

Updated 1/18/2011: I snipped the first couple of paragraphs off of this post, which didn't add anything and referred to an allegedly "weighty" post I supposedly had in the works and never quite got around to writing. Here they are, for posterity or whatever, mostly because they help explain the title of this post:

It was unsubtly brought to my attention that my recent posts have featured far too many "dull" photos of flowers and fruit and plants generally. This is probably true, quite honestly. Certainly it's true that this blog hasn't been very dialup-user-friendly of late. I promise, the next post will be about a weighty topic, with no graphics whatsoever. More than likely it'll be about North Korea, and perhaps I'll even explain exactly how the current situation ought to be solved, if I figure that out between now and then.

But that post isn't quite ready to go yet, and I'm not quite ready to get on the wagon just yet, so here are a few more photos. No plants, though.

Friday, October 13, 2006

autumnal & fogbound


Ok, so now we're getting our annual helping of autumn fog. Lucky, lucky us. At least it can make for fun photos now and then. I like the middle one with the crow, although taking black and white photos of a crow on a foggy day almost feels like cheating somehow. It's just too easy.


In any case, I'm much too busy to do the traditional all-out Friday linkdump today, but here are a few odds and ends I ran across in my spare moments:
  • Meet Mus cypriacus, a newly-discovered mouse species endemic to Cyprus. Well, ok, "newly-discovered" in the sense that nobody realized they were a separate species until now, although it seems they're a local household pest on the island.
  • Here's your friendly neighborhood reminder about tomorrow's Fresh Hop Festival at the Lucky Lab pub in NW Portland. Mmmm.... Hops....
  • Another bit about the new Broadway Brewery over on (you guessed it) NE Broadway. The review kind of misses the point, unfortunately, going on about the food and barely mentioning the beer. I dropped by a week ago, and found the place quite pleasant. Sadly, they don't have their Hop On on tap at the Broadway location just yet, but hey, they're new. It'll all work out eventually. I mean, sheesh, nobody goes to ice cream restaurants and complains about the beer, so what's with the double standard here, eh? :)
  • Meanwhile, here's a new (to me) drinking game you might enjoy (Legal Disclaimer: Responsibly! Responsibly!!!): Edward 40 Hands. Because nothing improves the beerdrinking experience like a big roll of duct tape.
  • And xkcd teaches us a valuable lesson about words that end in "GRY".

Thursday, October 12, 2006

autumnal & roseate


Back in the distant pre-digital camera days of yore, I never noticed all the trees and shrubs bearing fruit (inedible fruit, probably) this time of year. Here are two more examples, plus some nice red-orange leaves I saw this morning. If you want to split hairs, some of the colors here aren't precisely "roseate", strictly speaking, but it's a nice word, and I wanted to use it. Possibly either "rubicund" or "erubescent" would be more accurate, but really, you have to draw the line somewhere. Unless you're writing Victorian epic poetry, and really you shouldn't be in this day and age, "erubescent" is a little twee. Ok, more than a little, even if you're writing poetry of any kind (and really you shouldn't be in this day and age).


morning oak

...wherein I continue battling that pesky cold...


This pic tries to show what it's like to have this cold. For accuracy, I'd need to add swirls of some of those garish colors on the far side of octarine, but the JPEG format doesn't support those, so this really and truly is the best I can do. So anyway, avoid this cold, if you can. If you don't own any venetian blinds that can support your weight, you're in for a long, long drop.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

wellness, perchance

I still have that damn cold, but I've heard that alcohol is a great antiseptic, and I'm currently experimenting, trying to figure out what the required dosage might be, using the participant-observer methodology. In the meantime, it's been (mildly) interesting exploring what it's like to be a stupid person. In the event that I survive, I'd like to thank the nice folks at Girardet and Bendistillery.

So I've got a few more links to dump. If this turns out to be a posthumous post, or the last post before they shipped me off to the State Home for the Extra-Special, well, this probably isn't much of an epitaph. Oh, well. I tried. Honest.

uncommon cold edition

I'm trying to recover from a nasty head cold, so right now I don't have anything interesting to say about much of anything. In lieu of any sparkling insights about the universe, here are a few recent photos, plus a few randomish links further down the page.

Some interesting fall fruit or berries on some sort of deciduous tree. I'm hoping one of this blog's "many" Gentle Reader(s) might be able to identify this tree, because I sure can't. Back in my Boy Scout days, they didn't spend a lot of time teaching us to identify deciduous trees, because it's the Northwest, and we're all about conifers here.

The latest symptom of our fair city's desperate shortage of the letter 'Y'.


Two photos of the salmon fountain tucked away in the parking garage in the SE corner of the Lloyd Center Mall, just south of the Sears store. I'd heard rumors there was a fountain lurking somewhere in the vast reaches of the garage, but I'd never seen it until just a few days ago. So here it is.

Near the fountain, there's a sort of art installation consisting of maybe half a dozen boxes like this one, each containing a consumer object of some sort, and with some words on the outside of the box as a sort of ode to the joy of shopping. Someone came along later and defaced this one a little: Note the word "KILL!" on the glass over the teddy bear. The window on the other side has the word "SHOP!". Reasonable people can disagree, of course, but I think this kind of adds to the art rather than detracts from it. Well, I mean, in the sense that it then becomes an example of the art world's usual boilerplate critique of consumerism and pop culture. You probably can't graduate art school anymore without doing something really absurd and cruel to a Barbie doll at least once.

Speaking of consumerism, here are the shiny new delivery vans at the New Seasons grocery store on Division. Now I can be lying at home, sick as a dog, and a nice shiny van will come and bring me beer. Mmm.... Beeeeer....

Monday, October 09, 2006

sidewalk chalk quasi-extravaganza

Our fair city is either blessed or plagued with sidewalk chalk artistes. The stuff is everywhere. Sidewalk chalk is surprisingly hard to photograph (for me), so I had to do a bit of amateur GIMP-fu on these.
I labelled this a "faun" on Flickr but I'm not actually sure what it's supposed to be. Something mythological, probably, or pseudo-mythological. It was in front of the PNCA building last Thursday. Yes, it was First Thursday, but I was just walking through the area on a beer run. I'm serious. Honest.

I also happened to run across a group of zombies, who I thought were part of the Zombie Apocalypse we'd been promised by the Mercury. Turns out they were handing out coupons for someone's Halloween haunted house. Damn. Now even the freakin' zombies have sold out. WTF is this world coming to?

I happened to walk through Pettygrove Park one day a while back, and found that someone had recently been there with chalk. Lots and lots of chalk. This was actually taken in broad daylight, but I think it looks better with this sort of black light effect. You know, for Halloween, etc.

I lost the left edge of this quote, unfortunately; it reads: "The era of procrastination, of half ass measures, of baffling expedients, is coming to an end. In its place, we are entering a period of consequences".

I'm not sure whose initials those are on the quote, but it actually originates with Winston Churchill, and the anonymous chalk auteur misquotes him slightly. He didn't say "half ass", naturally; that part actually reads "of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients". I know this because googling on "baffling expedients" or "period of consequences" brings up a large number of hits. All politicians love this quote. It's decisive, yet generic. It asserts we've been ignoring situation X, and now we have to face situation X, but without naming situation X, or specifying the action that must now be taken. It's useful in all sorts of circumstances. Al Gore quoted it in An Inconvenient Truth. Then-Governor George W. Bush used it in a speech at the Citadel in Charleston, SC, way back in September 1999, when he was fixin' to run for his current job. The speech itself is interesting, laying out his plans to transform the military, which is something that's now usually blamed on Rumsfeld. It looks like the buck doesn't stop at the Defense Secretary's desk after all.

This was on the sidewalk outside the Sears store at the Lloyd Center Mall. This'll really teach those corporate-lovin' Sears shoppers, and next time they'll wise up and buy Birkenstocks instead. Oh, wait, Birkenstocks are made of leather; they need to buy something that's kinda like a Birkenstock, but made of organic hemp, or mud, or tofu, or something like that, no matter how much more they cost. Also, shopping at the Mall is not allowed. You need to buy directly from the person who made them, or make them yourself, or do without shoes entirely. And if you can find a local shoemaker, someone with acceptable ideological bona-fides, of course, it has to be a barter transaction, because money is corporate. Maybe you can wash their recumbent bicycle every Saturday for six months, or make them an organic macrame plant hanger, possibly. Or give them copies of some old Dead shows you have on tape. (You do have some of those, right?) And then everyone smokes a bowl, and the whole world is all rainbows and unicorns and crap.

I absolutely agree that child labor is awful. I wholeheartedly agree that cheap overseas labor eliminates jobs and drives down wages here. But I'm not convinced the correct response is to go around lecturing working class people, the very people most affected by declining wages, people who maybe can only afford to shop at discount stores like Sears or Wal-Mart. Telling them they need to be paying a lot more for the basic necessities of life, in the name of ethical purity, but neglecting to mention how they're supposed to afford it. That makes very little sense to me. That's like trying to cure poverty by instructing the poor to buy mansions in Beverly Hills: If they do, clearly they aren't poor anymore, therefore Mission Accomplished. Feh.

Friday, October 06, 2006

A complete Shimkus

Ok, I'm not quite done with the Foleygate posts just yet. It seems that now John Shimkus, the head of the House page board, has decided he needs to go on the warpath too, and is demanding apologies from the Democrats for allegedly leaking the scandal. You know, because just like the wiretap thing, and the torture thing, the leak is the real scandal, not the act itself. At least that's how it is in the beltway universe. The politicians are outraged, and they demand to know why we can't just leave them alone and let them do their dirty deeds in peace.

The perfect response has already been made, by Nancy Pelosi's spokesperson:

"Republicans just don't get it; every mother in America is asking how Republicans could choose partisan politics over protecting kids, and the Republicans are still asking who could have blown their cover-up," Pelosi spokeswoman Jennifer Crider said.

I admit the title of this post is a cheap shot. I'm making fun of the guy's surname, implying it stands for something obscene, or at least scatological. It's true that he's a congressman, but some of his ancestors who shared his surname might (in theory) have been normal, law-abiding citizens who just happened to have a silly last name. But in this day and age, people don't really understand anything more complex than that, so I might as well, and it'll probably help reel in the Google hits. My original Foley post ended up with a ton of hits just because I used the term "Maf54" in the name, and for a while I was in the top 10 search results for Foley's nym. And if I've learned anything from the Republican response to the scandal, it's that the absolutely most important thing is to figure out how to misuse the scandal du jour for short-term personal advantage. Look at all the R's jockeying for Hastert's job even as we speak. So clearly I can't be doing anything wrong here. You probably ought to elect me to something, if you know what's good for you.

it's photo phriday again...

...in other words, no massive link dump today, I'm afraid. I'd gotten to about 3 Firefox windows full of maybe a dozen tabs each, full of all sorts of scintillating, quirky bits-o-the-web, when Firefox suddenly died on me. Splut. This probably had something to do with the latest Mars photos from MRO, which clearly show the tiny rover Opportunity on the edge of a huge crater. And not just the rover; you can actually see the rover's shadow in the picture, if you squint a little. The full size JPG of the crater runs around 16MB(!), and even that's a small excerpt of a much larger 100MB JPG image. Dang...

(One scintillating, quirky bit did survive in an email, at least. Here is the Nietzsche Family Circus, which pairs random Family Circus cartoons with random Nietzsche quotes. It sounds weird, but it's really funny. Ok, to me. I could sit there and hit refresh for hours, but maybe I'm weird that way.)

I'm also not real keen on doing another Foley post just now, and not posting anything at all isn't really an option, so instead here are a few more recent(ish) photos from around downtown Portland:


A defaced "No Smoking" sign at a bus shelter on SW 1st, downtown.



Two pics of the mysterious hand sculpture in a parking lot at NW 5th & Glisan. I really like the wadded-up pair of jeans wedged between the pinkie and ring finger.


Grapevines at the tiny catholic church on 5th near PSU.


Some late-season wildflowers, also near PSU.


A cutesy, yet bossy sign ordering dog owners not to allow their pets to do any business next to this tree. This tree sits outside someone's ritzy townhouse in the Pearl, if you hadn't guessed that already.

I especially like the bit with the bike cable around the sign to prevent anyone from stealing it.