Archive for February, 2007

My New Ride

My new ride!

Four years ago I sold my car. Since that point in my life, I traveled by foot, bike, bus and taxi. Lately, though, with the time pressures of a new job, I startd renting cars to get around. Oh, that gets expensive. So, yesterday morning, I saw an ad in Craigslist for a 1991 Volvo 740 Wagon, painted in my favorite blue. By the afternoon, she was mine.

I have mixed feelings. But, with the kids living on the other side of town, I expect this will make things a lot simpler.

And so this weekend, what are we going to do? Road trip!


It’s About Time: Salem To Get Commercial Air Service

Although Salem is the second-largest city in Oregon and the Oregon state capital as well, there has been no commercial air service in and out of Salem for more than a decade.

In practical terms, the lack of air service means a 45-60 minute drive to Portland International Airport, or a drive of similar duration down to Eugene.

This will change beginning June 7, when Delta Air LInes affiliate SkyWest Airlines will provide two nonstop flights per day from Salem to Salt Lake City.

Fifty-seat jets will be used for this service, which will connect with one of Delta’s key hub airports. From there, there are nonstops to pretty much every city east of the Rockies.

This should work well for Salem-area residents, as well as for economic development efforts in the central Willamette Valley.

Local Comics Folks in the News

There’s a good interview with David Hahn, a local comic-book artist, here, found via here. Hahn draws at Mercury Studios here in downtown Portland.

I love that Portland’s such a destination spot for both wannabe and actual comic writers and artists, not to mention real, actual publishers and cool comic shops. It’s almost like being surrounded by heroes in their secret identities.

Lunar Eclipse this Saturday

I’m not an astronomer, but I do love looking at the night sky when things are afoot. I love seeing planets in the distance or the beautiful harvest moon in the fall. Well, this coming Saturday, you too will have the opportunity to see a cool phenomena (if the weather allows.)
A lunar eclipse is when the the earth comes between the moon and the sun. Per NASA: “Rays of sunlight bend around the edge of Earth, filtering through the atmosphere.” The moon then appears reddish. The eclipse will be visible from all seven continents. Some may see a full eclipse all day, whereas others will only get it at moonrise or moonset. We on the west coast will get the eclipse at moonrise. Again from NASA – “Observing tip: Find a place with a clear view of the eastern horizon and station yourself there at sunset. As the sun goes down behind you, a red moon will rise before your eyes.” The next opportunity will be in 2025.
More info from NASA
Lunar Eclipse
Saturday, March 3, 2007

Service Expectations

As a corollary to Banana Lee’s excellent and much commented-on post about the service industry and tipping and whatnot, I wanted to look at the non-waitstaff, non-tipping, customer service experience as well, as after venturing into the service world*, I often think we’re living in the end times of the customer-service industry as a whole.

Though part of that is managing expectations. For instance, the other day I went to New Seasons for some food and drink products, and when I got in the checkout line, the checker was talking to another employee. No big deal, and even though she continued to talk to that person while she rang up my groceries, she did it (the ringing, not the talking) quickly, efficiently, and with nary a wasted step.

But here’s the thing: I was a little miffed by the experience. See, as the self-proclaimed “friendliest store in town,” New Seasons has conditioned me to expect good customer service, which includes a greeting and maybe even some eye contact to let me know that I am not just a cog in the machine, but an *sniff* actual human being. Had I been at Fred Meyer or Safeway or probably any other store, my quick and easy exit would have had me exalting the great gods that miracles really do happen, but because it was New Seasons, I expected better.

Good thing I don’t have to try and figure out their tip.

*mostly corporate — the small-business indy places are usually much better in this regard, though there is the semi-occasional “cooler than thou” dilemma in some of those spots

Potty Talk

It’s a fascinating subject I know…really…it seems to come up a lot – so here are my personal observations:

Best Bar Bathroom in Portland: Marathon Taverna – spacious and remarkably clean – if we know we’re headed here later we’ll all ‘hold it.’

Worst Bar Bathroom: The Basement Pub – love the little place, but there’s always standing water on the floor and you just don’t want to touch anything!

Strangest Bar Bathroom: Blaze Jose’s – although I haven’t been there since they dropped the Jose’s – so maybe they also got rid of the dog and cat printed toilet seats – just weird.

Best Bar Bathroom Graffiti – The Know Bar – it’s not just graffiti, it’s art!

Best Bar Bathroom Joke – As seen at the Pub at the End of the Universe – “Who’s the oppisite (sic) of Christopher Reeve? Christopher Walken!”
(I know – I’m going to hell)

Smallest Bar Bathroom – The Penguin – seriously, you not only have to straddle the toilet to close the door, but then if you do close the door don’t even think of sitting down – you can’t.

Bar Bathroom that really needs a couch – The Vern – ever since the remodel that cleaned this place up, the women’s bathroom could hold almost as many people as the bar itself.

Now – a few of these places are coed bathrooms – but for the places that specify – I have only seen the women’s side of things (except the old Bridgeport that had the gigantic urinals that you could lose a small child in – I can’t believe they got rid of those – they were so cool!) So what have I missed?

Got Flurries?

I live just off Burnside, in those cliffside condos across from Washington Park.

Estimated elevation- 350 feet above sea level.

Was just on Burnside, and saw some vehicles coming from the upper elevations of Burnside, up around Sylvan. That’s around 900 feet above sea level.

Some of these vehicles had a light dusting of snow.

But we had none here. Not even a trace.

All’s to show what difference a few hundred feet makes.

Did it flurry where you are?


Just so you know, the title of this post is straight-up jacked from a Clerks 2 poster. (Only slightly less scary is the one that says “With no power comes no responsibility.”)

I loved the first movie, and I loved the second movie. I loved them because I have had a ‘nametag’ job. So this afternoon when I was reading Blogtown I saw an entry that caught my eye: Be A Good Customer, which was a post about an entry over on Recovering Straight Girl about being a waitress and how to-well, be a good customer, which is a post that came out of a comment on this post.

Whoever Miss RSG is, I almost stood up and applauded when I was done reading her post. I have had that job, and waited on that guy, and it doesn’t suck any less just because you’ve done it before. You would be shocked at how waitstaff are treated and you would be shocked at how waitstaff are paid (because of tips a lot of states don’t even pay waitstaff minimum wage).

So when I noticed lotsa comments on the post, I scrolled through them. Oddly enough, the comments were almost as interesting because someone (the commenters think she’s off her meds) completely LOST IT in the comments. Like 16 blocks of impossibly long text about how they’ve gotten appalling service all over town.

So I want to open this up to you, our readers. Who has great service? Who has miserable service? Is it consistent? Do you even want to name names? Have you been treated terribly? Wonderfully? Is there ever a place where the food is SO good you deal with bad service? And since the original post is about tipping, what’s your take on it? Speak up! (It’s totally easy, just hit that little comment button and type away…)

Bigfoot Sighting In Northwest Portland?

Originally uploaded by russ.

No, Sasquatch hasn’t been hiding in Forest Park, launchin’ raids on the popular Food Front co-op on Thurman just west of NW23.
And no, this isn’t just a sign that is yet another symbol of “keeping Portland weird.”
Has to do with a new Bigfoot-branded beer for sale at Food Front.

A life remembered

I was at the memorial service for violinist Angela Svendsen – one of two musicians killed by a drunk driver heading the wrong way on I5 February 11th. I never had the privilege of meeting Angela myself while she was alive – but her many friends, students, and family members painted a portrait of a vibrant, loving young woman who gave life her all, poured her passion for music into her many students, and truly made a difference during her too brief 31 years on this planet.

KGW captured some of the event – as expected, it left few in the audience dry-eyed. But for me, the most touching moment was when scores of Angela’s past and present students – some as little as 5 or 6 – filed onstage in their finery, violins in hand, to play en masse for the crowd.

Angela’s husband later said that her students now each had a piece of Angela’s spirit with them, and they’d best do her memory justice by sharing that spirit with the world through their music. From what I witnessed today, we’ll all be better for the gifts Angela left behind.

(Here, more about Angela Svendsen…)

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