Archive for the ‘Rants & Raves’ Category

Wordstock – Turn on, Tune in and Read

Portland is one of the most literate cities in the country and so when we throw a book festival, it’s a big deal.  Every year I make sure to make my way down to the sea of literature that is Wordstock. This Book-A-Palooza is a cornucopia of books, authors, readings, workshops and signings. The festival runs Thursday through Sunday with the main focus being The Book Fair at the Convention Center Saturday and Sunday 9am – 6pm.

The list of authors participating is completely overwhelming so here are the ones that caught my eye:

John Hodgman– You might recognize John Hodgman from The Daily Show on Comedy Central, but if not you’ve seen him play “PC” on many of the recent Mac commercials on TV. Despite the fact that people often say I look like Hodgman (I don’t damn it), he’s my top pick for Wordstock. Hogeman is as smart as he is funny, and it would be a mistake to miss him.

Heather Vogel Frederick – A true luminary in the youth lit category, Heather Frederick has penned a wide range of award winning books including: The Mother-Daughter Book Club, Much Ado About Anne, The Voyage of Patience Goodspeed and Spy Mice: For Your Paws Only. If you’ve got kids, make sure you don’t miss Heather Frederick.

Monica Drake – Put simply, Monica Drake is fucking amazing. Her book Clown Girl is inventive, original and extremely entertaining.  Everyone knows that Chuck Palahniuk comes from Portland, and someday soon they’ll know Monica Drake. Catch her now so you can say “I knew her when…”

Jamie S. Rich and Joelle Jones – like peanut butter and jelly these two prominent Portland comic book creators are as complimentary to each other as you can get. Jamie Rich’s latest Have You Seen The Horizon Lately is one of the best undiscovered books of the year and Joelle Jones’s doodles are better than 75% of all the artists out there. Joelle is also a hot rising star with a new book out with DC.

In addition to the festival, Saturday night is the Text Ball at the Left Bank Project. I’m a huge fan of this venue which continues to develop as one of THE places in Portland to throw a bash!

The Text Ball is an opportunity for Portland’s rich literary arts scene to celebrate itself while supporting one of its most beloved organizations, the Independent Publishing Resource Center. Attendees are invited to come “dressed as text” and compete for prizes for the most grammatically-correct costumes. The theme this year is FIGURES OF SPEECH.

The Text Ball takes place Saturday from 6-11 at Left Bank Project 240 N Broadway.

The web site for  Wordstock sucks (Widen & Kennedy did a crappy ass job on it) but the physical booklet with the schedule is actually usable. So for the complete guide your best bet is to drop by Powells and snag a copy or pick one up at the show itself.

Have you ever had your fortune told?

I have once – many, many years ago. I was in New Orleans for a business conference. It was the early 90s when every trade show or conference event involved huge parties nightly for the attendees. This one was held on a casino riverboat and in addition to the free drinks, food and gambling – there was a tarot card reader, and I had her tell my fortune. What she said to me seemed pretty darned accurate at the time. Of course – what she said (and I don’t remember now exactly) had something to do with ‘my soul-mate, a man who was a friend and more than a friend…’ and probably was a pretty standard line for any single woman in their early-20s that showed up at her table. I’ll blame my gullibility on the free drinks.

So I’ve always seen fortune tellers, tarot card readers, palm readers – as just a fun party trick. But just recently I’ve noticed a number of signs all over Portland advertising palm reading or tarot cards…downtown, northeast, southeast – there are several on Broadway both in NE and over to SW. For a while there was a woman who regularly did readings at the New Old Lompoc over on trendy-third. Seeing the spaces in more downtrodden neighborhoods, places here rent is cheap and not many people go by doesn’t really surprise me. But to stay in some of the spaces I’ve seen – they have to be bringing in some decent business. Or they’re a front for some crazy gypsy scam.

I’m a bit of a cynic about this type of thing. Of course I also place hypnosis under that same cynical umbrella – and I have a friend who used to be terrified of fire – was hypnotized and says she no longer is – so who knows.

Portlanders always seems pretty intelligent to me – are there really that many out there who believe the lady with the scarves can really help them prepare for the future? Do they believe it’s actual ‘fortune telling’? Or is it treated more like a new age therapy session. ‘Cause that in Portland – I’d believe.

So my question is, have you ever had your fortune told? Did you do it just for fun, or were you truly looking for some guidance and enlightenment or hope for the future?

On moving and Old 97’s

Thanks to keepin’ on with the keepin’ on, we’ve finally got our own little place to call home and it’s FINALLY fully moved in and put together (also, thanks to those that offered advice about stalking/calling/harassing future landlords in order to get a place)!

The problem with moving is that it’s not only a time drain, but a money drain. Generally I suck it up and take it but we’ve got MFNW here and this means that no matter how cheap it is… I’m going to have to REALLY justify going vs. food.

The one I don’t want to miss? Old 97’s tonight at Berbati’s Pan. This means that I have to come up with a good plan and fast!

Still, I figured I’d put the word out there that they were playing tonight so that others might enjoy them. They put on a good show and I figured, maybe the good people of Portland are better with checking out bands than the people in LA. Some friends of mine filmed a show they went to and sent the footage, which was, I thought, very very nice of them.

You know, in case you want to check out something new, and you have the means and the wherewithal to do so…

Gym Goers Add to the Pearl "I’m More Important Than You" Rep

Both my husband and I both work downtown, so we carpool. Every afternoon I pick him up from his office over in the Pearl, a block or two down from the 24-Hour Fitness on Irving & 12th. And everyday there is at least one car – sometimes three or four – sitting in traffic on Irving, waiting to get into the tiny little parking garage owned by 24-Hour Fitness.

They aren’t waiting because of log-jam at the gate like you occasionally get at a SmartPark – they’re waiting because there aren’t any open spots. So they wait for someone to leave. Sitting in traffic. Blocking traffic. While they wait – no one can go eastbound on Irving. And everyday they sit and wait. Eventually you can get a gap in westbound traffic and go around them – but really? I’ve pulled up behind them and honked. Usually they don’t pay any attention, to full of themselves to notice anything around them – or if they do – they motion that they’re waiting to get in the garage.

I’m sorry, but when the garage is full – go somewhere else and park. And if you’re headed to the gym, shouldn’t having to walk an extra block or two not be that big of a deal anyhow?

It’s too bad, ’cause that’s just one more reason why the Pearl gets a bad rap.

The newbie post

So it’s been about 2 months since I moved here. Things are starting to settle down and I’m getting to know my new city a bit better. I’m still learning streets and sections and all that, but I can get by.

In learning a new city, there’s a lot involved! First you have to remember which landmarks stand for north, south, east and west. Ok I’m pretty good with that and it’s sort of a no-brainer (kinda like the Asahi building in LA is North if you’re going towards Hollywood on La Brea). Then there’s the figuring out what’s where and what you like and how to get to it. Friends would be hard if I didn’t a) already have a few here and b) make friends easily. In that I feel that I have an unfair advantage. I think for most people that would be that hard part.

The hardest parts, however, have been finding a job and finding a place to live! MAN! Seriously…

So I’ve been pretty absent from here due to the looking for a job and looking for a place. Once the job aspect was settled, the main priority was looking for a place to call home. For as bad as the job market is, it felt like the rental market (is there really such a thing?) was just as bad. The boyo and I were joking in that we felt like we had to be on starter blocks to get ready to GO! as soon as anything was listed. Advice I heard from friends was that you have to a) apply, apply, apply! and b) bug landlords/ management properties. Somehow, something worked, and I’m still not sure what! I wish I had advice I could pass on to other newbies to the city… but aside from saying that I did just apply to all sorts of places and kept looking at places no matter how frustrated I was… well something paid off!

Persistence, I guess.

I’m trying… and I guess… I guess my message here is that… well, if you feel as stuck as I felt. Just keep plugging away and you’ll get what it is that you’re looking for eventually. Maybe there was something more I could have done, but I was not privy to that information. However, if I hear anything, I’ll pass it on.

Tell the Tool Library How You Could Love Them More

We’ve raved here before about the North Portland Tool Library – a very cool place and an awesome concept – and this Sunday they’re having their second planning meeting to help them decide how they can improve their services, what YOU want from them, and how you – as a neighbor, member, volunteer, local business owner, or just interested person can help out.

We (and by we I mean my husband and our friends) have used the NPTL a few times in the last couple of years – doing a project in the house that required a very specialized piece of equipment that we didn’t have – and would probably never use again. Or something that we just didn’t have the room to store (I’d tell you what these things were, but I have no idea, I’m kind of construction dumb.)

And if you’re like me – they also offer some great classes to help you become less construction dumb!

From their Press Release – some subjects to consider for discussion:
• What can NPTL do better and how?
• What can NPTL do differently?
• How can we make the NPTL model more sustainable?
• How to best keep up with membership growth? Reduce lines? Keep costs low?
• Ideas about finding a new space to house the Tool Library?
• Sources of Stable funding (membership fees? Grant sources? Become a part of state bureaucracy like the library system? Funding drives, fundraising event ideas? Etc.)
• How can we better partner with other organizations in North Portland?
• Better and more: workshops, workshop leaders, tools, space?
• Other services you’d like to see?

When: Sun, Aug 3 – 9:30 am – 4:00 pm (but you don’t have to be there all day to participate – just as your schedule permits.) Coffee and bagels, then lunch are all provided.
Where: The Kenton Firehouse – 2209 N Schofield Street
RSVP at online or at 503-823-0209

High school football NIMBYS?

In general I am not a sports fan – I can have fun at a game or out with friends at a bar or a Super Bowl party, but not really because of the game, I’m there for the social aspect. I went to every one of my high school and college football games – because football is a vehicle for the halftime show – and once the band was dismissed after the 3rd quarter, we left. And because I think it’s the most boring of all the popular team sports, the obsession that people have with football, really drives me crazy.

All that being said however – these Lake Oswego neighbors are just plain mean. They live next door to a high school and they’re freaking out about football games and teenagers being in the neighborhood? Seven times. Less than 2% of all the days in a year. These cranky snobs think that a bunch of high school kids having fun at a football game is going to “permanently damage the livability… of the neighborhood.”

Wow. What a bunch of a-holes.

I Need a Corn Fix!

My grandparents lived in a small town in southern Minnesota where one of Birds-Eye‘s plants was. Trucks came in everyday from the fields of Minnesota and Iowa loaded down with sweet corn. Locals would drop by the backdoor of the plant a couple times a week and pick up a full brown-paper bag of corn for just a few dollars. We ate fresh corn nearly everyday in the summer. And when I say fresh – I mean it was picked less than 24 hours ago. And in the winter we ate the corn she cut off those fresh cobs and froze weekly all summer long.

Now I know that we are in a bit of a food shortage* and that corn is on of the most talked about shortage items. But you know that the corn we at is not the same as the corn that is fed to animals, the corn that is used in Ethanol, or even the corn that is popped. Farmers may be planing more of the fuel type corn and less of the food type corn – but that shouldn’t mean that the sweet corn that is planted should be any less tasty than usual. And yet it is. Now I know I’m not going to find anything as sweet and juicy as that Midwest corn, but Oregon corn can be decent, and even for early in the season, the stuff this summer has just been abysmal! We had delicious ribs from Gartners last night, and alongside them, some really really sad sweet corn.

I’ve tried getting it at a variety of places – but so far not much luck. Any suggestions? A particular farmers market or stand? A certain grocery store? Your backyard?

Please help – I need my corn-on-the-cob fix!

*I have a really hard time saying ‘food shortage’ in a place where we eat so much and waste so much and for many of us it just means fewer fancy meals out, but for many people, I do know it’s truly a problem we must solve!

The New I-5 Bridge – What to do?

It’s obvious that something’s gotta give. Anyone who’s made the drive from Vancouver in the morning or to Vancouver in the evening knows that. On bad days, it can take more than an hour to cross the span. It’s a headache for both commuters and trucks making shipments. But is a new bridge the answer? The problem is more complex than it looks.

First, while I most definitely sympathize with truckers just trying to get across the river to make their shipments and do their jobs, our neighbors up in the ‘couve haven’t really done much to try to solve the problem of having too many cars on the road. For well over a decade now, our neighbors to the north have given the finger to mass transit. They voted down a MAX connection. They refused to pay three cents out of every $10 spent to prevent major service cuts for C-Tran. And now there are rumblings that they might try to kill the light rail portion of the new bridge, essentially dooming the project. I know that our suburban readers get pissed about perceived “bashing”. Unfortunately, Vancouver readers, the shoe fits here so you’re gonna have to wear it.

Compounding the problem is that the new bridge might not be effective after all. As reported here and here, the new bridge might not be all that effective in reducing congestion, anyway. According to the “O”, right now it takes a driver 16 minutes to get from SR-500 to Columbia Blvd. With the new bridge, that same trip would take 19 minutes. The reason is that the current bridge reduces the flow of traffic into existing bottlenecks in the I-5 system – bottlenecks that will still exist, even with a new bridge. By way of contrast, doing nothing would result in the trip taking 19 minutes – two minutes shorter than if the bridge was built. With information like that, I think that the city should at least look at some alternatives before building this thing. The Merc has some listed here.

So, what do you think?

Why Summer Vacations?

There are only about 10 people in my office today – normally there are about 40. We have tomorrow off as well as Friday – so many people took advantage of using three days of PTO to get nine days off. I decided to work because my husband wouldn’t have the time off – nor would any of my friends, so I didn’t want to waste even 3 days of PTO to hang out at home alone and bored. A lot of the people gone though are using this time for their ‘big summer vacation.’ Heading out on camping trips, renting an RV and driving to Yellowstone, going to LA or San Fran or Chicago… it confuses me a bit.

Why do people feel compelled to take a summer vacation – when everyone else is doing so – prices are higher – it’s hot and sticky and gross outside? Now if you have school age kids it makes a little more sense – they’re already out of school. But I remember my parents taking us out of school for a week to go to Florida in November and things like that. A week out of school isn’t going to kill them.

Is it just so ingrained in us from childhood that summer means vacation that we have to do it? And especially 4th of July week or weekend – that’s just asking to end up with more people, longer lines and more hassles. Why not wait to camp next weekend? Go to the Grand Canyon in October. Hit Disneyland in November. Do Vegas in December. Or am I missing something? Is there really a compelling reason to do vacations in the summer?

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