Tuesday, January 24, 2006


On today's walk to the office, I noticed they're finally tearing out the old Portland police building at SW 3rd and Oak. As you can see from the photo, it's sort of inexplicable that I left it off my recent list of ugliest buildings in town. I think it's fair to say nobody's sad to see it go.

Of course, they wouldn't be tearing it out now without a good rea$on. For several decades it had just sat there, forlorn, empty, and decaying, a building people would cross the street to avoid walking past. But soon it'll be gone, to be replaced by Oak Tower, the latest tall, skinny, market-rate condo building. As that last link indicates, it was originally going to be apartments, but the developers switched it to condos instead. Seems that in order to qualify for the usual witches' brew of tax abatements and subsidies, they would have had to reserve a certain number of units as "affordable" housing. Now, the city's definition of affordable is fairly lenient. In some cases, it's affordable if someone making a mere 120% of the metro area's median income can afford it. In other words, you may still qualify if you're above average, but just not enough above average. But apparently there's no way to make money anymore catering to 120-percenters and similar pikers, so instead we get more condos for the ultra-rich. What a topsy-turvy world we live in.

As usual, there's an amusing take on the subject over at Bojack. And if you're curious about our many exciting skyscraper projects, a fairly comprehensive list is maintained here.

One of the projects on the list is The Cronin, which is named for one of the much smaller buildings it will replace. I had the privilege of watching those buildings be torn down as well. It's kind of fun, although I can't really put my finger on exactly why. Maybe it's a male thing, I dunno.

It's not strictly a destructive impulse, mind you. Watching buildings go up can be fun, too. I usually rationalize that as watching real engineering as it happens -- as opposed to just schlepping out lines of C++ code like I do. And maybe that's the whole reason, and maybe it isn't.

A few months back, I noticed an intriguing machine being used to smooth out some freshly poured concrete on a building that was going up. I only recently figured out that it's called a ride-on power trowel. The same counterrotating blades that smooth the concrete also serve as propulsion and steering. It looks like a lot of fun. If we ever get a new dot-com bubble, and I have a pile of IPO cash to play with, I swear I'm going to rent one, have a big mess of concrete poured somewhere, and let everyone in the office have a turn driving the thing.

And then, and then, um, we'll go find us a bar that's got a mechanical bull, and we'll give that a try, and maybe there'll be, like, some actual country western music playing or something. One of those places where the whiskey is not imported, and you order it "no ice", not "neat", you know the kind of place I mean. The plan is for no actual bar fighting, hopefully, because HR wouldn't be happy about that, but we can vicariously feel like we're living kinda dangerously for a couple hours. And after that, maybe a trip down to the, heh heh, Acropolis, heh heh, to blow a pile of ones, or whatever.

Honestly, we geeks are at our very lamest when we're trying to have ourselves a "real man" moment...

I'm starting to ramble here, but the #1 link on a google search for "Real Man" is fairly amusing. It seems that if you're a Real Man, you really ought to have a solid granite bicycle seat. And speaking of bicycles, on my way to the office today I was yet again nearly run down in the crosswalk by a completely oblivious guy on a bike, decked out in the usual "alternative" pseudo-bike-messenger regalia. Aargh! But that's worth a post in itself, which I'll get around to sooner or later.

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