Archive for the ‘Rants & Raves’ Category

Phonebooks down, FoodDay to go

A little while back I posted about the phone books that appear on our doorsteps several times a year. At the time we couldn’t find any way to stop their delivery – but now going to will end that extra pile of wasted paper coming to your home. Hooray!

Now we just need to get the Oregonian to stop tossing FoodDay on our doorsteps each week whether we’re subscribers or not. I thought maybe by leaving them in a pile for a month they’d just stop – but instead, my front walk just looks a bit whiskey-tango.

Or maybe when I get my new recycling roll-cart I can just leave one of the old yellow bins out there and they’ll drop straight in for me! (And stop with the plastic wrap in the dry months!!)

This town is not a dry one, that’s for sure…

Hi… I’m new here.

No I mean…really! I just moved here on Sunday… the boyo’s family needed him home and so did his best friend, so I transplanted… for love! (kinda makes you cry, doesn’t it?)

So here I sit at 15th and Broadway in NE looking for work, WiFi and some inspiration.
Ok… that’s something I’d never see in Long Beach… a man with a record (yay for vinyl!) just rode by on a unicycle. First because I don’t know many people who still buy vinyl (myself excluded) and I know only ONE person who can ride a unicycle. I think I’m gonna like it here! – Or – My God! This house is freakin’ sweet!
You know, whichever way you remember it…

One thing I’ve noticed is that pub life, or rather bar life… is much more prevalent here than in LA. Of course, that might be because, unless you live in an area where you can walk to a bar, you’re driving… which… well, is not conducive to drinking. So far I’ve been to a couple of bars for meet-ups and happy hours as well and I’ve found those times to be much like my times in London. I like it in that it’s very relaxed and friendly like.

I’ve also found that the sport watching events are not limited to the major ones here. Monday, for instance, I walked into a bar (no joke!) to find people glued to the set for… golf! Yes, it was the US open, but seriously, short of football, basketball or baseball, I’ve not seen this since … well, a darts tournament that happened to be on the TV at the same time I was at this pub in London.
It’s good to have options.

Could it be that people actually drink more here? Is it the beer? Do most places in the city have such a close proximity to a bar?

Over all, I’m glad to be someplace where I can walk to a bar so far… which was exactly why I picked the last city I lived in, ‘cause those places are few and far between in LA. There’s just something very… laid back in such an atmosphere, in my opinion, and I dig it.

Ugh, TriMet

As you well know by now, there was a couple of serious incidents on Yellow line MAX in the past week.  Both incidences involved groups of teens attacking or intimidating passengers.  I have usually been a defender of MAX as I think it is one of the best Portland decisions of the past 25 years.  But wow, you would think that after all the negative publicity last winter that TriMet would have maybe figured it out.  They need security on the train!  Plain and simple.

Yet, in this past week’s incident at Prescott Station (where I embark and disembark daily) leaves me realing.  I’m angry with TriMet, but I’m also angry with my fellow commuters.  Yes you, the person sitting there hiding while some young punk starts beating up a woman.  In this most recent incident, a Vancouver woman came to the defence of another rider and was attacked.  I praise her as a hero for standing up against these jackasses.  Yet, as a result, she was injured.  I know for a fact these two women were not the only riders on that train.  6:30pm?  Give me a break.  How many other riders on that train just sat there and watched or moved away from the frackas because they didn’t want to get involved?  People, there are more of us than them and my experience has taught me that if more people confront an issue like this, it will get defused.  Portlanders should have come to the defence of this woman and helped her out.  We’re all in this together.

Let me leave you with this thought regarding the next time something like this begins to transpire.  When you see the aftermath of a disaster or where a group of strangers have been affected by forces out of their control, do you ignore it?  Do you put your head in the sand?  Or do you react and do something to try to help them – donate food, blood, money, blankets etc?  If you are one of those who do rise up to help out these strangers, why aren’t you helping out the person next to you.  They need is just as much.

No Headlight Means Tasering?

This story is everywhere today. I am often the one criticizing cyclists holier-than-thou attitudes and disrespect to others – so I am definitely not on the ‘cyclists are uber-cool’ bandwagon – but even I’m appalled at this. I cannot imagine any sort of situation where not having a light requires being tasered.


Read all the details on

Affordable condos? Easier commute? a puzzle

We all have been hearing more than we want to about the mortgage crisis.  I don’t think it has hit Portland like it has hit California or Ohio or South Florida, but I do know our skyrocketing housing prices have slowed down a bit.  Also, it is harder to sell a house these days than it was a couple of years ago.  Couple that with $4 gas and you have yourself a little conundrum.  I still don’t feel the majority is being affected by $4 gas.  Every day on my walks home, I cross the Skidmore bridge over I5 north and 2 lanes are bumper to bumper while the HOV lane is empty.  That tell me the commuters are still willing to shell out the cash for their daily commute.  Many don’t have a choice.  They have jobs that don’t have flexible schedules or are in places not easily served by public transportation.  Others though do have choices and are just not making them in my opinion.  Buying my house in North close in was the best financial decision I have made in the past 12 years.  Wow, who’da thunk it.

This week, PDC announced that their South Waterfront project (all condos) isn’t living up to what they had hoped.  The high priced condos are not selling period.  One building has been turned into apartments.  Those must be swanky apartment.  Yet, the news states that construction down on the waterfront will continue.  Thinking about $4 gas and 1 hr commutes and topics like that, I begin to wonder if people will begin to move closer into the city in order to cut their commuting costs.  Living closer in costs more usually.  An average house in my neighborhood is around $300,000.  Condos downtown start around $500,000 unless your willing to live in a shoebox.  I guess I’m wondering if PDC or the City or a developer or whomever could devise an affordable option within the condo market to that family that is currently commuting from Gresham or Clark County.  A 3 bedroom, 2 bath with a park location for around $300,000.  The upside would be less commuters and more expendable cash for that family.  Urban Growth areas don’t always have to cater to the wealthy.  I know, this is pretty ethereal, but I see it as a way to shift the mindset that people have currently regarding their requirement to commute.  Just my two cents.

UPDATE: Fair Food for Me!

Yesterday one of my co-workers and I were walking down near the waterfront and the smell of corn dogs and fair food was in the air. Ah yes – the Waterfront Village – not my favorite part of the Rose Festival, but hey – the kids love it so I don’t have a problem with it. What I do think is lame however – is that there is an admission fee just to get in. Everything you would do inside costs money, to rides the rides, play the games, eat the food… but you still have to pay to get in.

If you’re going for an afternoon at the carnival – that’s probably not a huge deal – although it does add up for a family for sure. But we just wanted to pop in and grab a corn dog and some fried Oreos for lunch. We were more than willing to pay the inflated prices for the food – ’cause fair food doesn’t come along that often. But not when we would have to add another $5 on top of that just to get in.

I would imagine that the vendors could make a fair penny on downtown workers eating at the food stands if they were able to get in for free. Maybe not charge the admission fee until after 1pm on Mon-Fri, or even Mon-Thurs. Those who were are planning on staying all day can come early, get in free and probably end up spending more overall. And the rest of us can eat too much deep-fried goodness on a stick for a few days.

Hey PRFA – I think it’s a great idea – next year maybe?

UPDATE: So apparently I’m retarded. I thought I had looked all over the PRFA website and couldn’t find the fact that it is indeed free until 4pm – but I just missed it there somewhere.
Who’s meeting me tomorrow for corn dogs?!

Bridges, Trains, and Roses

Now that the two three-day weekends (at least for me) are over, things should be getting back to normal here, which includes me spewing about everything I have been saving up for the past week. Thusly:
I-5 Over the Columbia
The Columbia River Crossing project needs input from the public, and the current feedback period is only open until July 1. Last Friday, a coalition of 13 groups requested a 60-day extension to said period to give ample time for those people and organizations involved to read the 5,000-page Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) dealing with the project. I wouldn’t suggest reading it yourself – I got stuck around page 50, and struggled to get that far – but glean as much information as you can on the project (try here and here, for starters) and chime in with your $.02. This is a Big Deal that will affect major transportation in and out of our fair city for decades to come, and yes, it will affect you in some way.

Nextly: I took the train (and bus) to Vancouver BC with the boyfriend 2 weekends ago, and I must say: train travel is awesome, though travel to Vancouver could use some help. Supposedly, there will be direct train service to Vancouver BC from us down here in Oregon in time for the Olympics (a good bit of the city is torn up due to transportation additions to the waterfront and Olympic Village), but I won’t believe it until I see it. We’ve already had a review of the train ride from PDX to SEA, so here’re the bits:

  • Pros:
  • Far less security hassle than the airport: we arrived and boarded barely 20 minutes before our scheduled departure
  • Access to a proper power outlet (120V) for unrestricted use
  • We had the ability to use our cellphones where there was reception (though chose not to)
  • The car we were in was incredibly quiet, and we whispered most of the trip
  • One can bring his/her own liquids aboard! No more smuggling 3oz bottles of vodka! We brought our massive flask and some mixers and made cocktails at our seats
  • The seats were comfortable and there were plenty of bathrooms to go around
  • Cons:
  • Delays – we were over an hour late to Seattle, but the connection was guaranteed, so some people got to wait on the bus for us. Sorry, people!
  • When we boarded, the a/c was broken in our car, and we were sweating up a storm (hottest day yet of the year + running a suitcase from the MAX to Union Station = ick!), but it was fixed when we departed (which was, granted, nearly 45 minutes later)
  • This is really about the bus – The bus sucks. It’s better than taking Greyhound the whole way, but the bus just seemed that much more crappy after such a pleasant train experience
  • Price – It was less than $200 for both of us to get to Vancouver and back, but I would love to be able to take the train down to Sacramento and maybe across the continent without having to sell my firstborn and a kidney. Get the prices for 6+ hours of travel down to an affordable rate (i.e. cheaper than airfare), and I’ll start booking my travel today.

And one more quick one!! Holy crap, it’s Rose Festival season again! The rides are going up to make Waterfront park a muddy mess, should the rain continue (opening Thursday) and the fireworks kick everything off on Friday. The good stuff (boats!) will start floating in on Thursday (Tall Sailing ships, 5/29-6/5, then Fleet Week 6/4-6/8). I’m so excited – more on that soon!

Where have all the flowers gone?

Yesterday I saw some maintenance workers in front of a business digging up all of the beautiful yellow and white flowers planted in front of their building. They were just tossing all of the plants into a garbage can, that I assume will just be recycled, it didn’t look like they were being careful enough with the plants for them to be transplanted anywhere.

This morning I drove by the same business and looked – there were new, different flowers planted there.

Now I don’t know much about gardening, so I’m not sure what they are, but the plants that were being dug up and tossed away – looked very much like what we’ve got growing along the boulevard in front of our house. They’re small, ground cover flowers – almost like on a low bush, they’ve been in bloom for quite some time now – and if I remember correctly from last year, will stay in bloom for awhile. We do nothing with them – they just come back every year – and have spread out a bit which is great for where they’re at in our yard.

So is it normal practice for businesses to just dig up perfectly good plants and throw them away so that they can change them out? And then they’ll maybe do the same next year and put back in what was there before because of seasonality? Do the companies that do landscaping and yard work at business every keep those plants and offer them to the public? Maybe they wouldn’t be any good, but it just seems like such a waste to me.

Growth is here to stay, get over it

Yesterday the Los Angeles City Council passes an ordinance limiting the size of houses and remodels on residential small lots. These behemoths are also known as mcmansions and pretty much every major city has to deal with them. In the past year or so many cities have placed restrictions on house size in certain neighborhoods in an effort to preserve the character and keep the peace among residents.

Curious to know what Portland is doing or has done about the threat of steroid-sized homes, I started doing some research. While it seems the most threatening building type in Portland proper is the skinny house, which is actually a decent solution to infill, I learned that what is more pervasive and threatening to the common good is the local attitude toward growth of any kind. I read a boatload of venomous comments by residents who seem to think that they have a slice of paradise here and no one else can partake. What’s worse, they blame Californians for all that they consider has gone wrong here. Having been raised here, left for California, then returned, I find this attitude so ridulous and their arguments null, considering California is full of people from everywhere else, including Oregon. Growth in all metropolitan areas is on the rise and will continue to do so in the next century. We are a civilization of city dwellers so rather than spend the energy bemoaning those who want to live in a decent city, among decent folk, I say put the effort into making sure that growth happens in the best way possible. Complaining about newcomers to Oregon is old hat, and really stale.

Stuck on the bus

Moving to Portland was partially to get out of a town I really really really despise, and partially to get to live in a place with an extensive public transportation system. I grew up in California, between the south SF bay area and a town north of Sacramento. As the time I spent there was all pre-driver’s license, I relied heavily on the public transportation there, which in the bay area (at least at the time) was awesome, but was severely lacking 100mi north. VTA (Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority) hours were long, the waiting time was little, and I felt safe on the bus and lightrail (in San Jose). One thing about the busses down there was that they were dirty – kids were always putting gum on the backs of seats and most of the windows had become translucent due to the myriad of scratches that had built up over years of wee taggers satiating their need to mark yet another solid with his/her scribble, as well as any other surface.

TriMet vehicles tend to be really clean and comfortable to ride. Sure, there have been a couple of late-night puking sessions on the MAX (not me, thankyouverymuch), those who don’t shower, and once in a while the bus and even the MAX get to capacity, but for the most part, our public transportation is great. The only big problem I have with TriMet currently is the sometimes missing busses (walked a full 2 miles along my path before the 71 went zooming by one day), and the damned machines that never work (but I have a monthly pass, so that’s moot to me for the most part). What do you love/hate about TriMet? Do you actually send requests into their “comment” lines? I might be notorious for letting them know at least once a week that the machine they’ve never fixed at the 60th Ave MAX stop is indeed still broken…

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