Archive for April, 2008

TriMet’s verbose peoplemovers

This is slightly old news, for those of you who read the same Portland-centric transportation blogs that I do, but TriMet is giving the buses voices! You read that right – not only will the buses announce their eventual destinations to riders at the stop on an external speaker, but they’re equipping the buses to do the same for major stops inside the buses, much like the MAX and Streetcar do per stop already. The lines taking on the system (powered mostly by GPS) are few for now, but so far I’ve heard the announcements on the 20 and the 75 (per the major stops). As I took my first ride on the 75 yesterday, and as I was preoccupied by my cat being freaked out (it was her first bus ride, full stop, and to the vet, no less), the announcement for the Powell stop, so clearly stated, was incredibly helpful. I know that some drivers speak the stops into their wee microphones as they are approaching, but in my near-year of bus riding here, I’ve only been able to actually hear one of these drivers – and I have excellent hearing. Thanks, TriMet, for improving upon our awesome public transit system! They’re not always on time, but at least I now know where we’re going on the bus.

The end of the block….


Originally uploaded by dieselboii

The block at the corner of SW Morrison and Park is being demolished today. What a site to see the former home of Virginia Cafe and Zell Bros reduced to a pile of rubble. And rather quickly. There are plenty of onlookers taking it all in. I can only imagine the memories those buildings hold for many a Portlander.

Last day to register to vote in Oregon

Yep, today is the last day to register to vote in Oregon.  Oregon will become a focal point for the Democrat nominees over the next few weeks as we have delegates they need.  Everyone has visited at least once and will indeed visit again.  This could be your chance to make your voice heard on a national basis.  We don’t get that opportunity to many times.

Also, we have local races you should be interested in – Mayor, City Council, State Legislature, etc.  The May ballot will be chock full of candidates.

Everyone has a right and the duty to vote in America.  So head on down to Multnomah County Elections Division at 1040 SE Morrison to register or call the Bus Project @ 503-233-3018 to find an alternate location for in-person registering.  Your own county elections office should also be able to get you registered.

Free Ice Cream Cone – Ben and Jerry’s – Today

It is indeed that time of year when Ben and Jerry’s celebrate their birthday with a free cone to you.  All participating Ben and Jerry’s will give you a free cone and ice cream today.  Granted, most everyone in the known universe is aware of this promotion, so you may have to wait in a line and converse with a stranger.  Yet, that cone will taste good when you get it.

Ben and Jerry’s Scoop Shops in the Oregon

Civil rights leaders quietly visiting Portland

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to hear Fred Gray speak. I had never heard of Fred Gray before. I had no idea who he was, but after listening to him talk, I needed to learn more about him.

Fred Gray is a prominent civil rights attorney, he is from Alabama and was the primary legal counsel for Rosa Parks. Martin Luther King Jr. The participants of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The families affected by the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. He is a man who was an integral part of changing our society.

He was in town to speak at a local college’s commencement ceremonies, and while I didn’t hear that speech – I can only imagine how inspiring it must have been for those young students. I don’t know why – but if someone would have asked me if Rosa Parks’ attorney was black or white – I probably would have said white. I would have assumed that a black attorney wouldn’t have been able to fight a case about race. That the courts would have been too biased for a black man arguing a black woman’s case, to win.

Gray talked about his history and what the cases he’s been involved in have meant for civil rights, but also where there are still issues today. As he spoke, my mind also went to the correlations between racial civil rights fights in the 60s and 70s and the civil rights fights that occurring now for gay families – that was a question I really wanted to ask him, but never had the opportunity.

It was a strange setting though for a talk on civil rights – out of the 125 or so people in the room probably 95% were white, married with 2.5 kids, middle class folks. Although I can’t know for sure – I would guess that most of the people in that room probably haven’t ever truly felt the bite of discrimination, myself included. But I would like to think that it was more that just “white guilt” as my husband put it – that made his talk so powerful and moving.

With maybe the exception of the times around the OJ trial, with the current Presidential election underway there has been more talk of race that I’ve ever really heard in my – born and raised in overwhelmingly white parts of the country – life. It seems to be the hot topic for commencement speeches all over Portland. But so much of that talk is from people who really have no idea what it is they’re talking about. It was an honor to listen to a man who really does.

Do we really need a bike bridge on the west-side?

For those not in the know, Sam Adams is proposing to use the old Sauvie Island Bridge to gap I-405 across NW Flanders Street. I’ve lived in Portland long enough to appreciate the fact that we do stuff different here. But really? Is this necessary? Aren’t there perfectly usable spans one block on either side of Flanders? And if, as proponents claim, the sidewalks are too narrow, isn’t there a perfectly suitable means of walking under the 405 just a few blocks north?

I think this is a bad idea. Sure, it’s a neat idea, but a bad idea. Let’s forget about the fact that it’s unnecessary. We have some of the crappiest roads on the west coast. There are a small ton of potholes beggin’ for a-fixin’. Also, there are parts of the city that still don’t have sidewalks. Maybe we could fix these first? Secondly, this just smells like a pet project, and gives those folks out in the eastern hinterlands more ammunition for arguments of west-side favoritism. I can’t say I blame them, really. It does look bad when the city is seriously contemplating an absolutely unnecessary (but cool – I’ll admit it’s a cool idea) handout to peds and cyclists when their roads are crumbling.

Am I wrong here?

Laundromats are for lovers

This weekend I paid a visit to the laundromat – or washeteria to you Texans – in my North Portland neighborhood. This is an old school joint with machines that are no less than 10 years. I’m pretty sure they all have the funk. The toothless owner, a dear man who shuffles around in slippers and spends much of his time filling out crossword puzzles, keeps a broken down dryer full of snack size bags of potatoe chips and baggies of laundry detergent for idiots like myself who go to a laundromat without their own. Usually, I try to get in out of out of laundromats as fast as possible but on this particular day I was in no hurry so sat down to take in the ambiance. I scanned the room and took note of the three men standing in front of their dryers, methodically pulling clothes out and dropping them in their baskets. Aside from one other woman at the far end of the row of dryers, I realized that everyone else was male and late middle-age. It got me thinking about the various laundromats I’d visit when I lived in L.A. The type of patrons varied from neighborhood to neighborhood. Say I wanted to meet someone for reasons other than sharing spot removal secrets, I might visit the laundromat where the ratio of men to women was in my favor. It also required a neighborhood that was less family friendly and close to bars. Laundromats near Trader Joe’s were always a good call, as were the mats in Hollywood – on weekdays, no earlier than 11:00 am.
I remember the laundromat/cafe/bar craze. Does anyone else?
So Portland, I’m curious to know if there is a laundromat culture here. What are the most popular mats for socializing? Where are they? And of course, if anyone has made a love connection during the spin cycle, let’s hear about it.

Mike Doughty live @ Music Millennium

We ventured over to Music Millennium on East Burnside yesterday to catch one of my music heros, Mike Doughty.  He was in town for a show last evening @ The Wonder Ballroom and graciously decided to perform a set for free for his biggest fans.  Mike was the lead singer of a great band in the 90s – Soul Coughing.  My friend Jon from New Orleans introduced them to me back around 1996 or so and I have listened to them ever since.  When Mike went off on his own, I stuck with it as his sound and lyrics keep me coming back.  With songs like 27 Jennifers, Bustin up a Starbucks and Janine (from the Soul Coughing days,) how can’t you.  I remember seeing Soul Coughing back in the day at Pine Street Theater.  We saw them on a Tuesday followd by Luscious Jackson on a Wednesday.  I miss those days of night after night of live music…  So, check out the vid of Mike performing Looking at the world from the bottom of the well.  Enjoy.


Buy that kid a drink!

This is spectacular. And not because I’m trying to encourage underage drinking – I was a very wholesome child actually. I only had one or two drinks ever before starting college. But it’s awesome because it’s so simple – yet big enough to end up on The Smoking Gun.

More than half the kids at that school probably have the computer skills to replicate the school’s stationary and make the letter seem official. When I was in school we had a printed directory with every students name and address – I’m guessing now it’s online somewhere where creating a list to do a simple mail merge is also a piece of cake.

But wow – I bet the administrators and parents are in an uproar. Now, I do think that the legal drinking age should be 18 – i’s ridiculous that they can go to war and die, vote, get married, have babies… but not have a beer. So I think that makes the uproar even more hysterical.

And really, did it cause any harm? No. It was a senior prank – and a good one.
If I knew who did it, I’d buy ’em a beer… after they turn 21 of course.

Living in the city….damn helicopters

Anyone who reads blogs knows there are plenty of bloggers out there who rant about something in their neighborhood.  Maybe it is the drug house down the street, the abandoned cars, the neighbor who doesn’t mow their lawn or rowdy teens.  Whatever it is, I always respond in my mind’s voice- “deal with it, you live in the city.”  And yet, I catch myself whining and complaining about similar things.  Oh well, what is one to do.

I have a new complaint though that falls into a different category.  I have learned to deal with the hookers, dealers, abandoned cars and nasty neighbors, but what I’m really ticked off about now is the helicopters.  Yup?  Helicopters!  I remember reading the New York Times a few years ago that there was an uproar about all the commuter helicopters flying in to the city and how the shear amount of them were disturbing residents along the routes from the toney neighborhoods outside the city.  I never would have thought I would complain about helicopter noise in Portland, but here I am.  The helicopters in question are the news choppers covering traffic or an incident.  I doubt Portland has a thriving helicopter commute scene and I usually only notice the helicopter noise because it is constant.  When these pilots what to get a shot of stalled traffic or breaking news, they usually just hover in one spot – usually above my house.  And since I live close to I5 and just north of I405, they are there almost every morning around 6am.  It wakes me up and makes me cranky!

So, if any of the news helicopter pilots are reading this, please find alternate locations to hover.  You have amazing cameras that can zoom, so you don’t have to be right over traffic.  Please, for the sake of my sleep and my family who has to deal with me being cranky, don’t hover over my house.  Ok, rant done.  Back to Thursday.

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