October 31, 2005
how to sell things
Thanks, everyone, for adding your names and greetings to my frappr map. If you haven't already, check it out—I think it's mighty cool.
So, an update on the work sitch. According, now, to my boss and my supervisor, I will not be going involuntarily part-time. I had a chat Friday with my supervisor about how inappropriately the whole thing was handled, and she agreed to talk to the boss. And suddenly, I was told that I had misunderstood.
After November, my boss will also be my supervisor. Oh, dear g-d.
Anyways, it was a good weekend. I conducted a spice crawl of three places, one of which appears to be a drug-front. Sunday morning, I went down to watch Mela run in in the Run Like Hell, and we hung out, noshing on free burritos and free beer, and then cheered some other friends coming in. Lots of folks were in costume, and I got some great pictures (which, I forgot to download onto my computer). We then went and had an entirely unimpressive breakfast and went home to take naps.
There are some times that I think my True Calling might be e-commerce. So very many e-commerce sites are done so half-assedly, it really really bothers me. Someone would have to be pretty motivated to buy from these folks. And it's not like you need some sort of web scripting prowess to see what needs to be changed.
For example, I visited a local yarn store's website which had an e-commerce function. It had categories, some of which contained nothing. It appeared to not have a single picture of any items, but each item had a square with the text No Picture Available. It had duplicates for various yarn manufacturers, with no indication that there was another category that contained more. There was no search feature, no thesaurus (obviously), no metadata, no information about what the yarn is made of, no indications of suggested needle sizes, swatch sizes, how you'd wash it, or what this yarn might excell at. There was a more information link on each item—that took you to a page with no further information!
And the worst, for an e-commerce site that has a storefront: no hours! And, the site has very very little to make it noticiable to search engines. Jeez!
Anyways, I decided that I was going to hit a couple of the new yarn shops in town. The one with the ill-conceived e-commerce site was one, and a little shop in Lake Oswego with no website was the other.
First, the one with the website. Beautiful store, lots of yarn, lots of space. Nowhere to sit and figure out if colors work, or how much yardage you'll need, and no one hanging out, knitting. That's a bad sign. Two folks were working, who stayed behind the counter until I asked a question (and there was no one else in the store). When I asked the question, both of them scrambled, appearing to not really know their stock.
Contrast this to the store in Lake Oswego. This maybe had a quarter of the first store's square footage. Yet people were hanging out on the couch and on comfie chairs. Exquisite lighting highlighted the beautiful colors and textures of the carefully edited yarn selection. The one woman working was chatting with some folks who winter in California, but she made sure that I knew to ask any questions. And at one point when I started fingering a particularly luscious ball of grey merino-cashmere, she talked about how this held up better and doesn't pill compared to a famous designers yarn with the same content, and that it had a beautiful hand (ie, it feels great when you're knitting it), and it's machine washable.
It's clear which one I'll go back to, inspite of the fact that it's far away, with no website.
October 29, 2005
Where are you, dear reader?
Like, for example:
October 28, 2005
Campbell on Life
We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
— Joseph Campbell
Career Opportunities, the ones that never knock
I had thought that perhaps the career counseling thing might be a one or two visit thing, where at the end he would ceremoniously reveal my true callingTM. Okay, that last part I know is wishful thinking. I was very pleased by the process, though. We talked in a very organic fashion—that is to say, apparently without direction. And then when I would start to think, "I should get on-topic now", he would ask a question or make a statement that made it clear that he was making connections between this and the whole issue of work.
By a half hour in, I understood some of my internal conflicts about job hunting. I'm very good at analyzing myself and situations, but I find it hard to go forward from that analysis, and he is very good at asking questions that cut to the heart of the matter, and illuminate the parts that I didn't even know I was missing.
I'm sounding like I drank the koolaid. Well, I did have some tea.
At the end, he gave me some homework and asked if I had ever done a skills inventory test before. I said I had, about 15 years ago at a community college, and it said I should be a podiatrist because it involved less than fulltime work with reasonable pay. I laughed when I said it, but he quickly stopped me and said that he could see me in that sort of role, though not necessarily dealing with feet.
I'm excited. I have a lot to work on over the weekend!
I still haven't signed up for the half-marathon yet. It's Sunday, today is Friday. Quite simply, I'm freaking out! Questioning if I even want to do this. I haven't done any training, I haven't done anything. It seems ridiculous to turn down a half right here in my backyard, but, it also seems ridiculous to do one without training.
Two weird occurrences:
- Yesterday, I'm in Office Despot when I notice the background music. It's a cover of the MC5's Kick Out the Jams. I hear the words of the first verse—yep, that's it. And then it's switched off right before the chorus.
Kick out the jams in Office Despot?!?!
- There is a woman who writes my work email address. I don't know her, I've never met her or talked to her on the phone or corresponded with her, but for whatever reason, she sends me email forwards. I hate getting email forwards! Just now, she's sent me four (4)(!!!!!!) of them. One was about how women have to fear for their lives 24/7, one was about writing the people you love to say I love you, and two were about how we all need to be better Christians because Katrina was all about retribution.
I got this one from Curt...
"The bicycle is just as good company as most husbands and, when it gets old and shabby, a woman can dispose of it and get a new one without shocking the entire community."
— Ann Strong, Minneapolis Tribune, 1895.
October 27, 2005
Too many words
photo by Bill Jackson III
Yesterday afternoon at work was just a good example. I took lunch late because I was trying to finish up a project. As I left, my cow-orker/officemate reminded me of the staff meeting taking place in 10 minutes. Oh good. So I get a sandwich, take a bite of it, and go up to the meeting.
The beginning was not auspicious, when the boss asked what we were all reading. So everyone goes around, mentioning high brow fiction, and high brow political non-fiction, and I am filled with panic. I have lots of books, and I'm a chapter into most of them. Saying that you're a chapter into Firefox Hacks or Ambient Findability or Web Mapping Illustrated or Geographic Information Systems and Science or the Portland Edge or even 2/3rds through the Art of Urban Cycling—none of these sound high brow or impressive. They just sound like I'm a spazz, which admittedly, I am.
So I decided to take the faux-populist, anti-intellectual George W. tack, as well as the class clown approach: I say I'm reading Alterknits, and the Portland Edge, though I'm having a hard time with the latter because there are so many words. This gets a good laugh out of people.
I do find this stuff rather distressing though. I used to be an avid book reader before my dad died. But afterwards, I still read, just mostly magazines and newspapers. And I've never regained that conspicious consumption of books that I once had. Mind you, I still buy books, and take them out of the library as if I were going through a couple a week. But I'm not even getting through a book a month now.
Sometime this year, someone mentioned the fact that they had all but abandoned books, and then they realized it was an issue of needing reading glasses. Well, reading glasses really help, but since I've been waking up with a headache from my TMJ most mornings, when I forget and look up from my book through the glasses, I get a fresh shock of head pain. It's all very encouraging.
Anyways, I'm still mentally sorting through my panic and emotional response as the meeting goes on, and then I hear that I will probably be getting a partial RIF (reduction in force, not reading is fundamental) in the next two weeks, which is to say, I'll be involuntarily going part-time. Oh. Do you think you could have mentioned that to me privately rather than just announcing it in a unit meeting?
Anyways, I'm the only one who'll be RIFed in the department, and there is a cut and dried reason—the huge concern as to if we get the contract that funds most of my position. And it's probably all for the good, but it still comes as a big shock.
And it turns out that my boss had as much notice as me. Love it, I love it!
I've been really working hard to change my approach to cycling and walking, to be more predictable to drivers. For cycling, this includes not riding the wrong way down one way streets, obeying traffic controls, not darting across parking lots or lanesplitting, not riding on the sidewalk. It takes a bit of courage to be on the road, far enough out in the lane to be out of the way of car doors, knowing that while I might be inconveniencing drivers, I'm safer, and downtown, we're all going the same speed anyways.
Sweetie called me yesterday morning to let me know that the community radio station had the bike show on, and the bike show had an urban planner on. So I tune in, and all the callers are talking about how unsafe it is to ride on the road, and that they all ride on the sidewalk. The guests would patiently try to explain the vehicular traffic idea, which went over like a big lead brick.
Then last night, I heard about a pedestrian who was hit a couple blocks from my house. In looking for news about it, I found stories about another pedestrian was hit twice and killed maybe a mile or so away, and a suburban Seattle high school student hit by a school bus. I couldn't find any "official" news about the pedestrian guy or his condition.
And then this morning, I saw that Fritz had posted about bicyclists on a UK university campus: they like to ride on the sidewalks overwhelmingly, and 24% of peds report being hit by bikes (via Cyclelicio.us). How sobering.
October 26, 2005
All I really want to do is to knit and play with maps. I tried reading a book this morning—that sort of thing used to be way high on my list of fun things to do—but the words swam on the page. So many words.
Perhaps in a related note, I am obsessed with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Maps (though I've never heard the Yeah Yeah Yeahs—the version I have is by Arcade Fire)
Yesterday was pretty good, all things considered. I did the Salmon Street Death March, the three mile walk up and back down the Salmon Street hill, with the usual suspects. It felt good, though I appear to have deeply offended a cow-orker that I don't know very well. I'm not sure if I should get upset about that, but given that I'm on the fence about it, I think I should just give up the catholic guilt and not worry about it.
Of course, fifteen minutes before I could leave work, it began pouring. I thought about leaving Sweetie's bike in the garage—but it's not my bike, and what if it walked off? I thought about taking the train part of the way home, but I'd still end up soaked. A cow-orker offered to ferry me and the Black Hole home, but I was pretty certain that I'd end up soaked, and that the bike wouldn't fit into her car.
During the day, I had read Liz's recent entry about the not-so-recent beginning of her regular exercise, which involved following through on a promised walk, even in the pouring rain. And I thought, I could act like I'm made of soap and avoid the rain, or I could just ride home.
I chose the latter. I had my yellowjacket as my only raingear, which is water-resistant, so within about the first five minutes, I became soaked to the skin. Honestly, it's easier once you're soaked, because it just can't get any worse. Since I was riding the Black Hole, the ride home was pretty easy once I got past my ever complaining internal voice.
But I was soaked through. Sweetie met me at the door with a towel straight from the dryer. I began piling wet clothes on the floor, and was surprised to see water running away from the pile. Yikes. And my favorite red mary-janes - soaked through. Hopefully they'll survive this.
On my list of things to do today: buy rain gear. Seriously.
October 25, 2005
Who are you, and how do you know my name?
Vicki, your tires! You need to inflate your tires!
Huh? I look over in disbelief. The voice doesn't sound like anyone's I know. The speaker then says:
I own a bike shop.
I still have no idea who he was, or how he knew my name. But, thanks, unknown bike shop owner!
I get home, and Sweetie and I go to a new brewpub near by. We walk in, and there's one of my PFit coaches. So I go over to say hi, and she tells me that she found my blog, and what is a blog exactly anyways? We had a great conversation.
Once Sweetie and I have consumed a pitcher of Jubelale, I tell him about the Cask Ale Festival this weekend, and he reminds me that I was planning on walking a half on Sunday. I haven't been training at all for the half, so part of me is like - I have to rethink this. Another part is: you need to do a thirteen miler, why not just do the half. And then there's the ego that says, but I'm not going to PR on this race. I'm probably going to have a lousy slow race time, so I shouldn't sign up at all.
It's clear I need to make a decision. I've been drinking a lot of beer this summer, which I enjoy, but there is a cause and effect there. If I'm going to get serious about walking, I need to really cut back on the beer drinking. Sigh. At least there's still chocolate.
So I did pump up the tires on Sweetie's bike this morning, and had a really nice ride in. But I'm a bit scrambled. For example, I got all the way down the street before I realized that the breeze was going through my hair—damn, my helmet! It's still in the shed! Go back, get helmet. Pass by the church where Katie's funeral will be and start to cry. Start thinking about my other elderly neighbors...
October 24, 2005
“Be not afraid of going slowly, be afraid only of standing still.”
— Chinese proverb
It's been a big weekend. Jon has done his first marathon, the Detroit Marathon, that I hope to do if and when I ever get fast enough.
Friday, I made contact with the career counselor guy. I have an appointment this Friday. I'm tremendously excited!
Friday night, my beloved and I went to our favorite restauranteur, to see how he did on his first marathon. He finished in about the same amount of time as Jon, 4:47, and he also had a hard time, and felt like he was too slow. "Nothing went well that day. I hurt from the first mile". But he has the bug, and he's already thinking about Portland next year, and was asking if I was planning on doing it. Hell, yes!
Saturday, I went to the Urban Planning open house. There were a lot of people there. It was all very interesting. There are some big holes in my knowledge, like, would I like doing this for the next 10 years or so? Maybe. Dunno.
Sunday was Slug Velo's Fall Colors ride. There was a great turnout, and it was really cool to recognize people from previous rides. As I was chatting with someone, here comes Hollie, riding down the street. Turns out she has a broken leg, but she's a bit of a tiger (as you all know), so she's bicycling. Huh? I don't know how that works either, but it was lovely to see her and get to chat for awhile.
Jonathan from Bike Portland was also there, so we talked about our tremendous need for more mapping applications. I've been obsessed with the subject now for a couple of months, but have been a bit cowed about it. Talking about it made me want to get home and get right on it.
I fell into a big conversation about neighborhood activism with a St. John's neighborhood activist which continued from the ride through lunch at the Lucky Lab. Maybe it was just natural after spending part of the day thinking about planning the day before, but I was totally framing my arguments, and his, in planning.
The colors were gorgeous. It was fun to ride through Sellwood, which has some nice quirky gardens and houses, and as usual, it was gratifying to realize, wow, I biked from NE to Sellwood, and then to Yoko's, and then to the Lucky Lab! This is doable. This is fun!
Oh, and there's one of everything even without the internet: the Hummer LX Tactical Folding Bike. Bright black and safety yellow, of course.
The other day, walking around Portland, I saw a security guy on a, wait for it! Wait for it! A Smith and Wesson bike! So I asked him about it, and he said he gets asked about it ALL the time. Imagine!
I'm feeling a bit shell-shocked this morning—my next door neighbor died.
In some ways, it's not a huge surprise. She went to live with her daughter in late spring, and she had alzheimer's as well as a heart condition and sickle cell anemia. I lived next door to her for 11 years, which is 8 years longer than I've lived near anyone but my parents, and Katie was like a wonderful aunt to me. She chided me about the yard constantly, but was always there for me, seemingly always happy to see me. I'm really going to miss her.
October 21, 2005
Apocalypse later today
Okay. The apocalypse is now. I expect the end of the world by the end of the day.
You might be thinking (rightly) that I'm having one of my mood swings. But actually, I'm feeling really good today.
I saw a Segway in a bike lane. Yes. Not only that, I saw it on Vancouver Ave, just north of Beech. Those of you who know Portland know that this is a transitioning neighborhood made up of the working poor, an established middle-class, public housing, young hipsters, and yuppies looking to turn over real estate quickly. It's a neighborhood that was ravaged by crack and crank, by gangs, and by petty crime in the 80s.
Vancouver Ave also has a really popular south-bound bike lane. So popular that I don't ride it cuz there's too much traffic. Bike traffic. And there is the world's slowest vehicle, the Segway, dominating the bike lane.
Other than this end of the world stuff, things are going pretty well. Last night I scooted across town (12 miles!) to hear Leigh Radford speak. Leigh and I are knitting acquaintances—we met taking a sockknitting class almost 6 years ago. She's well known in Portland, having worked at one of the yarn shops and offering classes at several. It was really no surprise when I learned that she had a book coming out, Alterknits, about some new approaches to knitting. That's Leigh, always pushing the boundaries.
Anyhow, I've wanted to get the book, and see the projects in person, and yesterday morning I learned that she'd be speaking at a knitting guild meeting that evening, across town. Now, one of the reasons that I don't go to that knitting guild's meetings very often is because they're across town, in an suburb that has horrendous traffic all the time. So I packed my satchel with my new knitting project (an iP0d sock for sweetie made from Koigu, so luscious) and hit the road.
Riding out there was a bit much. It was dusk, and I was on a highway at rush hour, with a posted speed limit of 45. I'm going 55, and everyone is flying by me like I'm standing still. There's a bike lane, and surprise surprise, there are actually bicyclists on it—though I think that had as much to do with the darth of through streets in this area, as well as the darth of westside bike routes.
But all was good once I got there. Leigh had lots of cool projects, which set me to thinking about cool future projects of my own. I felt eminently creative, a feeling that doesn't visit all that often, but that I most frequently feel amongst my undergrad friends. It's nice to feel that way.
Tomorrow, I learn more about urban planning. Sunday, I slug velo. Hopefully today I'll make some appointments to talk to professionals who can tell me what I should be when I grow up. I made some important realizations yesterday about this latest midlife crisis, so I'm feeling kinda hopeful that, like the guy in the AA story about the hole, that this time I'll see it before I'm in it.
The AA story about the guy and the hole
- I walk down the street; There is a deep hole in the sidewalk;
I fall in. I am lost ... I am helpless, It isn't my fault. It takes me forever to find a way out.
- I walk down the same street; There is a deep hole in the sidewalk;
I pretend I don't see it; I fall in again. I can't believe I am in the same place, but it isn't my fault. It still takes a long time to get out.
- I walk down the same street; There is a deep hole in the sidewalk; I see it is there; I still fall in ... it's a habit. My eyes are open, I know where I am. It is my fault. I get out immediately.
- I walk down the same street, There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.
- I walk down another street.
(Oh, and the 22% tax that I mentioned yesterday? The catch-22? If only!! It is just some bike-positive propaganda. That I really like. )
A marvelous machine
"The bicycle is such a marvelous machine. It makes you relaxed and healthy, not stressed and anxious. When's the last time you saw a bicyclist yelling at the bicyclist in front of him at a just-turned-to-green intersection traffic light to, 'Hurry up and go, idiot!'"
— Robert Ward, of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, October 17, 2005
via Curt on the Shift List
October 20, 2005
Streets of Paradise
I am trying to stay focused. Trying. But my eye wanders to the "tray" on the desktop—is there a new piece of mail? And random thoughts send me to googling things. So I am not succeeding as much as I might like.
Two things, related, that I came across in my email (evil!) this morning. There was one of those "I'm moving to Portland soon" emails, which involve a sort of magical thinking that everything will just work out (I usedta get a fair amount of these when altportland was more prominent, and they always irritated the living hell out of me)—addressed to the bike listserv I'm on. Someone piped up welcoming the newcomer, mentioning that they were welcome but there was a Vehicle Immigration Tax on automobiles to the tune of 22%. In fact, some people call it the Catch-22.
I'm thinking that I need to add that as a prominent part of altportland.
Later in the thread that ensued (which I'm sure you can imagine), someone mentioned Illichville.
Why can't there be at least one city in America where Americans care enough to grow and prepare their own food? Why can't there be at least one car-free city in America? Why can't there be at least one place where artists don't have to fear being displaced by gentrification, farmers don't have to fear being displaced by suburban sprawl and craftspeople don't have to fear being undercut by sweatshop labor? Why can't there be at least one city where everyone, not just the affluent can afford to live the good life?Mind you, I know there's a reason that utopias don't exist, and I think of all the trouble Cheesepuppet went through to get out of a cohousing community that was endangering the health of her infant—honestly, I'm not that naïive. And maybe it's magical thinking that we could go back to some happier, healthier way of life. I still like the idea of it, though, even if it isn't possible.
—The Good Life
Also, Cheesepuppet read something about anxiety, and wrote about it that really resonated for me. Anxiety is about control, or the lack of it. But it's also about not having the confidence that you'll do the best you can do, and that things will be okay. Of course, there is always the chance that things won't be okay but there's absolutely nothing you can do about that, can you?
This is where Christian faith seems to be a problem-solver: you can believe that G-d has a purpose, and that this was meant to be, whatever this is. But, if you're not Christian, or not a believer at all, it's pretty hard to argue that this was meant to be. (Though I still do. I know, it's not logical.) And, well, no, I'm not going any further on religion.
Anyways. Trusting that you'll land on your feet. That's what I'm working on.
October 19, 2005
Neca tagged me!
Nigella and Natasha as kittens
Neca tagged me! And I wrote the whole entry and then somehow, inadvertantly, my browser crashed and the post is history. Oh well.
Here's the deal:
1. Go into your archives.
2. Find your 23rd post.
3. Find the fifth sentence (or the closest one to it)
4. Post the text of your sentence in your blog along with these rules.
5. Tag five other people.
And here's the fifth sentence of the 23rd post, aka Kittens Hailed As Key To Marathon Success
Watch for cars and car doors and cats.
I was writing about bicycling and how I had to be focused.
Of course, I started the post with a quote from the PFit Bulletin Board:
They are playful, box/house trained, and most of all, come from a long line of marathoners...
Someone was wanting to give away kittens.
Guess I shouldn't quit my day job, eh?
Okay, I think I am in the midst of a full-fledged midlife crisis. See, and I thought I had gotten that crap over with, already.
I got some really good bike reading in via cyclelicio.us. Fritz always points to some interesting stuff, and in the last while there's been Fat Cyclist writing on winterizing, Danielo's 9 reasons to drive a car, Jim Carson on the economics of bike commuting, Cycledog on the irrationality of fear, and the Journal of Applied Physiology on moderate excercise preventing and even reversing the accumulation of deep abdominal fat, which is linked to type 2 diabetes, high cholestorol and heart disease.
If you only have time for one timewaster (and it's not really one), go to Cycledog's entry.
Riding a bicycle on the road requires awareness, alertness, good judgment, and a wary eye on traffic. But it doesn’t have to involve mind-numbing fear. Maybe that’s one advantage of regular commuting. I see the same motorists day after day. They come to expect a cyclist somewhere on the road each morning. This is no exaggeration – I rarely have problems with motorists – and I ride a mixture of 4-lane arterials and 2 lane roads in suburban, rural, and industrial areas. The daily commute is a relaxing part of my day, not a stressful dash between home and work.I was thinking a lot about that entry as I rode into work today, and I hit the points one by one as I was commuting. I used the bike lane when there was one, and I used lane positioning when there wasn't. I tried not to appear "unpredictable and dangerous". All in all, it was pretty pleasant.
I've also been thinking, for days now, about Neal Stephenson's message on his home page: his 'ongoing struggle against "continuous partial attention"'. He has a real point here: our multitudinous distractions can keep us from achieving our goals. For example: my office door is open, and cow-orkers come and go, talking mostly about non-work stuff. The cow-orker that I share the office with talks frequently on her cellphone. My phone has wrung already a couple times in the last hour and half. And I have three different email accounts open now.
Why do I need all this communication? I don't have a cellphone for a reason—I don't want to be that accessible. Yet, I check my email like a maniac. Why aren't I getting any list mail? Or personal email? Or comments?
I was thinking, too, of the amount of time maintaining two blogs takes. The old rule of thumb useta be that online journals should update daily on weekdays because people were following their bookmarks and going directly to the journal. In this day of newsreaders and bloglines, I'm wondering, does it matter if I update daily? Some prolific blogs can be kinda overwhelming when I open bloglines and see that there are 18 entries that have turned up in the last two weeks. Anyways, weigh in on this please if you care to.
October 18, 2005
Weekend in Bend
When I was asking folks for suggestions, I was surprised by how many people said that they would live there in a second. I'm still a little surprised, honestly.
In my uneducated opinion, there are three things to do in Central Oregon:
- Outdoor activities (mountain biking, rock climbing, hiking, skiing...)
- Brewpub visiting (Deschutes, Bend Brewing, Cascade Lakes, Silver Moon)
- and Volcano geeking (Newberry volcanic monument).
We did the last two.
What to tell? We drank too much beer. Or actually, not very much beer at all, but for some reason, I seemed to have lost any tolerance that I had. We first went to Deschutes and had a sampler tray of 6 of their 8 seasonals. The majority of which were fantastic. We had a hearty snack to tide us over, before walking around town and Mirror Pond (Oh yes, Deschutes does name all their regular beers after geographic features of the area). Once we were hungry again, we went to Bend Brewing (or BBC as it's called locally), and had another sampler tray, this time the $11 40-0uncer (10 4oz pours), along with dinner. I was less impressed with their beers, but I also kinda felt like my palate was tired (bear with me, I'm trying to give them the benefit of the doubt).
Otherwise, we tried to avoid doing things in the cutesy, touristy downtown, which was expensive. We went for drinks at a cute, goofy, space-aged bar, and then did a special, expensive birthday dinner (his, not mine) which was unimpressive. The best meal was certainly the breakfast at Alpenglow, which was full of really good waffles, english muffins and eggs, and locals—including one guy with fangs.
I hit an incredible yarn store, and demonstrated why I shouldn't be allowed in one with a credit card. Damn, the colors were so pretty. I'm a sucker for the colors. I walked out with several skeins of Koigu, a gorgeous sock yarn from Ontario, and Mountain Colors, from Montana, in colors like wilderness and ruby river.
In wandering around town, I was noticing all the bike lanes. Lots of them, including along Highway 97. Hardcore! They also had sidewalks along the highway. And I saw lots of bicycles downtown. Which I took pictures of. And then tourists would ask me why I was taking pictures of bicycles.
They of course have bike lane stencils, and they have wacky bike lane stencils. And here I thought Portland was special. And not short-bus special. Sigh!
We hit the Newberry Volcanic Monument in several waves—a hike around Lava Lands, where the astronauts trained to walk the moon, the site closest to Bend. Then we spent a number of hours at Paulina (puh-lI-nuh). We drove up the steep gravel road to Paulina Peak (at almost 8000 feet - you can see into 3 states!), which was just incredible. Climbing the hill, practically straight up, we passed three mountain bikers. Whoa!
As we undid our safety belts, we saw an eagle soaring overhead. Damn! We got out of the car, standing in wonder at the Peak. We had an excellent view of the horseshoe of mountains that surround the caldera, the twin lakes below (Paulina and East), the obsidian flow, and bald, bare areas where nothing grows. About 5 or 10 minutes later, the cyclists made the peak, in high spirits and talking about puking. They had ridden all the way up from highway 97. Whoa!
Then we hiked around the Big Obsidian Flow, which was also really incredible. It bummed me out to see a father and his three kids hike out with huge pieces of obsidian, not even trying to hide that they were doing something illegal. Thanks for setting a good example, dude! But my anger was soon turned to wonder at this insane landscape of pumice and obsidian. We're walking on the path which is largely made of broken pumice and obsidian, with large and small chunks of obsidian everywhere. Incredible.
I took tons of pictures, and I tried very hard to edit them in such a way that there aren't three thousand pictures of obsidian (just, um, maybe 15 or so?).
So I'm sinking back into normal life. I seem to be getting in touch with some internal rage. We had a couple encounters with assholes in Bend that left me shaking angry. Like, oh my gosh, I'm a volcano angry, and you better watch out. This intensity of anger is really seeming new.
At work, I try hard to be a team player. But not everyone else tries. Some people are jerks.
I have tried to just live with it, because I need this guy to be an ally. But who am I kidding? He's not an ally.
I had to ask him about something this morning, and walked away and found myself seething. I know that men feel this all the time, but I generally don't, and the violence of the emotion is kinda frightening.
I had just gotten in from a nice bike ride, feeling like all was right in the world, and now I'm glad that no weapons are easily accessible as I wouldn't like the food in prison.
October 17, 2005
Make way for bicycles!
Although bike commuters will never own the roads here, Portlanders need to start taking bicyclists seriously. Just as light rail and the Portland Streetcar preserve transportation options that most people don't take advantage of every day, facilitating bicycling preserves options for the future, too, and enhances our city. The South Waterfront is a great example. Everyone won't bike to work from there, but it would be foolish—a wasted opportunity—if this extension of downtown isn't built to maximize its “bike-ability.”
October 13, 2005
Bike and the City
It's drizzly and grey outside, the perfect morning for a bike ride. I was thinking about how different the experience is, riding in the drizzly rain versus walking in the drizzly rain. It really requires a huge leap of faith, faith that I generally don't have, to enjoy walking in the rain. Yet, for whatever reason, bicycling is fun. I don't understand it, I just do it.
And because I was not thinking analytically this morning, I took sweetie's sweet super-geared bike. With no fenders. My butt is still wet, and I have a stripe up my backpack. I'm still grinning about it though.
Yesterday was good. I made some inquiries about school, and attended a geography-urban planning lecture. Esoteric language, but I was fascinated. I bought an Oregon topo atlas and went and took more pictures of Ira's Fountain (which, yes, I'm a bit obsessed with. Sooner or later I'll finish writing about it and then I can regain my sanity).
I biked from downtown to Alberta St to meet up with the librarians gone wild, so I got to cover a whole lot of new territory. Lots of interesting houses and gardens to look at. To my horror, the new building that the bar we were meeting at was in had no bicycle parking. Isn't that the law? Or am I being naïve? So I had to lock up Pinky across the street, where I couldn't obsessively watch it.
I had a wonderful time though. I think I have a touch of aspergers syndrome because crowd scenes make me crazy, and I usually can't hear in groups in a bar, which feeds into all sort of ridiculous and crazy thinking. But I had good beer and good food, and really good conversation, and I was shocked when I looked down at my watch and it was 8pm! How did that happen?
So I biked home in the dark. I only had my back light so I was be really careful. But it was exhilarating riding through the neighborhood at night. I loved it. Obviously, I need to ramp up the lighting on Pinky.
Sweetie and I are planning a trip to Bend soon, and I am so excited! I can barely focus today between the thought of a cartrip, and the thought of school.
Oh, and you might have been thinking, what is it that VJ needs? Me too. Here's the results, googling on [VJ needs *]
VJ needs advice on home improvements
VJ needs a real caddy to help him with the greens
VJ needs to return to its previous position of a border patrol force
VJ needs a dollop of charm, a helping of good looks, a serving of wit and a dash of 'difference' (ouch!)
VJ needs some professional-level equipment to do a traditional realtime set
vj needs to stop them effects!!!!
VJ needs to be removed!
vj needs new bikes. desperately.
VJ's need for a computer upgrade has risen quickly to the top of our wish list
VJ needs a good ass kickin' ;)
October 12, 2005
Yesterday, I got a buttload done. Cleaned some stuff in the office, took care of some loose ends, just was super productive. It was great.
Midday, I did the Salmon Street Death March. That was very death-marchy. Saw lots of other death marchers out there.
And I rode Pinky back home. Oh, the three-speed wears me out. But how else will I train to someday be a hipster fixie rider? I so want it!
Since that afternoon and evening, I've been thinking about grad school. Again. I loved being in Grad School, loved it. Just wish I hadn't incurred a huge debt and that I could get a job in what I studied.
A local college has a certificate in GIS that would cost $5K to do. They also offer a Masters in Urban Planning which would be about $10K. This is cheap compared to my other masters where I went to the best rated school, blah blah blah, but seems like a ton of money. But I screwed myself over in not leaving Portland for school, and looking at other ways of pennypinching that might have made the difference between getting a job, and well, where I'm at now. Anyways, my sweetie is going to set up some info interviews for me, and I am totally excited to even think about this stuff.
I'm also superproud of all of our marathoners. There was a brag session Monday night, and between that, and the bulletin board, the PFit marathoners are just glowing! And not even realizing it. I just don't even know how to describe it. I know what my first (and my second) marathons meant to me, and I know that incredible rush of realizing: 6 months ago I was a grad student-couch potato, but now, I can walk marathons and g-d only knows what else. It's like the world opening up for you.
So as folks have been telling their stories, damn, I get all misty. I'm not at all responsible, but I am so happy for them and proud of how hard they've worked. And it's been super inspiring.
I've also started formulating a plan for a February marathon (wuhoo!). I'm totally psyched about that, and I should have lots of time to really do it right.
I'm remembering a post that Susan made in January about an Outside article/thingee that argues that losing 10 pounds will improve your marathon time by 11 minutes.
I have no intentions of turning this into a diet blog, but I am going to try to pay a little bit more attention to eating and exercise, and try, try to stay a little further away from the beer.
I've been a bit of a tiger: I went to my pilates class last night for the first time in a couple weeks. Ugh, ick. How tacky is that? Lots of the old timers were there, and I talked to almost all of them. And everyone was very complimentary about my hair. My beer buddy there didn't even recognize me! It was a rough class but I tried to do everything to exhaustion and was, as usual, reduced to a sweaty pile by the end.
Sweetie was out when I got home, so I exercycled for 20 minutes (like the 20 minute walk, I hope) while watching Talk to Her. This morning, I actually cooked myself breakfast (!!), biked in, and have been making a special effort to take the stairs.
October 10, 2005
After your first day of cycling, one dream is inevitable. A memory of motion lingers in the muscles of your legs, and round and round they seem to go. You ride through Dreamland on wonderful dream bicycles that change and grow.
—H.G. Wells, The Wheels of Chance
link thanks to Michael Rasmussen
October 9, 2005
It's been a big weekend, and I'm wore out.
Saturday, we decided to prowl around St. Johns for a bit. St. Johns is a peninsula in North Portland, a long-time working class neighborhood, which has really changed in the last ten years.
We went for breakfast at Pattie's Home Plate, hit St. John's Booksellers where we spent a quite a bit of time and bought a great zine about St. Johns, went to Blue Moon, the coolest camera and typewriter store. We grabbed some sweets (fresh donuts!) at the Tulip, and did some record shopping at Vinyl Resting Place.
It looks like the rents must be low enough that people can put in cool shops. We loved it, then we drove along the heavy industry on the riverfront.
On Sunday, I spent the bulk of the day hangin' at the PFit cheer station, midway between miles 20 and 21 on the Portland Marathon course. I was looking for a pile of folks: Tricia, the owner of my fav restaurant, a bunch of cow-orkers, and Mela. The hour and a half between when Tricia and Rol must have come through was supercrazy—lots and lots of runners, and I missed both of them. I did see Mela and a coworker though.
It's interesting to be on the cheering side of things. I got there later than I had hoped, around 9, and the party was going strong. Lots of spectators, lots of cheering stations. From the point where Sweetie dropped me off to the PFit cheering station, I passed through 4! And once I got to PFit, we were a huge crowd, armed with noisemakers.
This year, some of the bibs had names on them.
Note to participants: want me to call your name?
- Don't be wearing headphones (I don't care if you can hear me)
- Make sure that your name makes sense and can be quickly figured out
DB Cooper, for example, is a good name. Miriam!! is a good name. 4 Ben is great. I'm blanking on bad names, but there were many. I wanna support ya! Help me out!
As the morning moved on, the crowds thinned. By the time the marathon was "reduced" to walkers, there were maybe 10 of us at the cheering station. And cheerers were peeling off, walking participants in.
This stuff breaks my heart. I'm biased, I know, but the folks that take longer are out there in pain longer. They're showing real grit. Someone who can do a three hour marathon, that's mighty cool (and congrats, Tricia!). But the folks who are persevering in spite of people passing them, in spite of being out there alone, in spite of blisters and muscle pain and exhaustion—damn, those are my people. They should have a huge crowd. They should have people out, en masse, cheering them on.
But they don't. They don't.
And I admit, I was exhausted from standing there, shouting out names, rattling the noisemaker, and standing there. I felt so tired that I thought I might collapse. When do I get to go home? I don't think I felt this bad during the Coast marathon! Why didn't I bring a chair? I knew I was going to be there for the long haul!
Then came the time when the walkers were moved to the sidewalks. I felt fresh rage about that, I remember how it felt like adding insult to injury...
A woman came through, looking really bad. Eric jumped in and started asking questions, and we found out that she had been walking wounded since mile 10. She was cold to the touch, and seemed really out of it. She wanted to quit. So he volunteers to drive her back to her car, and we find out that she's a runner, recently had an injury, and just thought that she would walk the marathon. I could hear the unspoken "because it's so easy". I felt bad that she had to learn that way that, no, it's not so easy.
A couple other folks came up and unceremoniously quit after that.
And suddenly, there was just Debbie and I. Debbie and her husband were at the cheering station last year, and they totally took care of me. So this year, when someone who looked particularly bad came through, Debbie would say, "does this bring back memories?". Like, yeah. Why do you think I'm out here, exactly?
The unspoken agreement was that we would stay out until our last walker came through. Or if a whole ten minutes went by without any walkers in eyeshot. Just about when we were going to give up, up came our last walker, looking strong and as comfortable as a person doing a marathon can be. Yay!!! I'm so very proud of her!
Going home on the bus, I saw that the medical aid station and water station had packed up. There were two volunteers directing people. Ack, it breaks my heart.
October 7, 2005
more stuff about stuff
I totally fell into cleaning this morning. I managed to move from being super early for work to being super late.
(Hey, I'm still recovering. I gotta be obsessed with something.)
Actually, I have been obsessed with other things too. I make these incrementally small changes on altportland, and I'm almost, so close, ready to move the blog to the front page. Oh, anytime now. The last couple days I've been working on the RSS piece, and I think I have finally got that together. Almost.
I got stuck with feedburner. Non-techies, turn away, this is going to be dull. Feedburner provides one feed that accomodates multiple RSS feeds. Sounds good, right? Well, what's wrong with it? There has to be something wrong with it, some drawback. Is there a drawback? Bloggers, you gotta help me!
Cuz I couldn't find a single drawback. I couldn't find anyone who talked crap about feedburner. Even in the feedburner blog, the blogsters seemed, well, funny and decent and reasonable.
So, what do you think of feedburner?
While I was looking for dirt on feedburner, I found a entry from one of the pioneer luminaries of the web, John Batelle, about attention. If you follow that link, check out his database of intentions first, before reading the attentiontrust entry—it'll make more sense. Or it did for me.
This made me think about Kipchoge comment again, and about the amount of information pollution we face. Let me repost it:
I think to a certain degree clutter is a symptom. The disease itself is what needs addressing: our compulsion to accumulate any chance we get.
Mind you, information is a great thing, but for me, at least, there's way too much of it. Even when you aren't looking at printed information, we are hit with so much more information than we can process or use. My two sick days at home meant I tiV0ed a pile of stuff. When will I watch all of this? Who knows, but now I feel this tremendous pressure to get it done.
Visiting those link-heavy blogs means I bookmark, which means I del.icio.us things compulsively. Will I ever really read these entries? Who knows? I doubt it.
It used to be, like maybe in 1995, that there was so little online that a search brought a finite amount of reasonable results. You might have, then, been able to do a search, and read all the info about it. Or maybe that's revisionist history on my part. Maybe I've always been bookmarking more than I can actually look at.
Blogs are a similar problem. There are far too many that I like. My bloglines has more riches than I can read, and almost every day I am adding new blogs. Limiting them to a manageable amount requires some housekeeping—and I'm just trying to keep up.
And then there's paper. I try to keep on top of what's happening locally, so I can add it to altportland. Am I getting paid for this?—no. Am I able to keep on top of it? Hell, no. Every couple of months, I go through the newspapers and do a wholesale recycle. Even though I know, I know, that there's no way to actually get through all of this, I still end up bringing it home. And then there's the magazines I buy, that sit for months or in some cases, years, before I read them. And, let's face it, books, too.
This is so similar to my ridiculous traveling disease, where I am scared of being bored. So I bring everything. Knitting, PDA, book, magazines, ip0d, tablet and pens, maybe even my colored leads, and I'm still acting pennyless, looking for abandoned New York Times or Wall Street Journals. I tend to bring the biggest purse I own, fill it entirely, and maybe bring an additional plastic bag of magazines and newspaper.
Thinking about this just makes me feel, well, tired. Obviously, I have a problem. I don't know when to stop. I think this is what I need to learn. Maybe, getting bored would be good for me.
October 6, 2005
bikes: don't do this, do this
Really, I do appreciate the don't drink and bike sentiment. But doesn't our municipal government have more pressing issues to deal with? Everybody has to be so damn PC. Sheesh.
In other PC issues, I totally didn't recognize one of the Bike Commute Challengers outside of work. I never recover well with this sort of thing, and as usual, I didn't yesterday either. So embarrassing. And so crappy. Maybe it was because I was feeling crappy, maybe, hell, I don't know.
So, it's become somewhat commonplace for people here to move via bike. By commonplace, I mean, there have been multiple occurrences, so a person would be justified in asking 'which bike move?'.
Bike move, heh heh heh makes me think of that old Seger song. I'm revealing my advanced age now. Anyways, I digress.
Last weekend, there was such a big bike move that a reporter from the Oregonian was there. The story ended up in In Portland, an O insert, today with lots of pictures, none of which are online. Of course, now that I'm looking for the story, it appears to not be online—or if it is, it's thoroughly buried. Damn it!
Anyways, John Foyston wrote a nice article that I wish I could link to (damn it!), and there are some great descriptions and pics on Todd's blog, and Jonathan points to this great Shift (a local bike org) Move by Bike page.
Kipchoge made this excellent point in a comment, which I have to put right here:
I think to a certain degree clutter is a symptom. The disease itself is what needs addressing: our compulsion to accumulate any chance we get.
October 5, 2005
I walked the couple blocks to the bus stop. I could see kids across the street with signs, but there were so many SUVs, bumper-to-bumper, stopped on Fremont that I couldn't really see the kids or their signs. Finally, a break in the tall vehicles came, and I could see that a couple of the kids had a Walk+Bike to School Banner, and others had signs about bike and ped safety. Oh yeah, it's Walk+Bike to School Day.
It was, honestly, a little more political than I was expecting. Especially to see a group of elementary school kids, mostly kids of color, carrying signs.
I never walked to elementary School. In Lexington, my school was a ways away. I remember walking home a couple times after CCD (Catholic catechism), and getting in a lot of trouble.
Hey, here's your mandatory exercise content:
- Exercise now to prevent dementia—especially if you're in your 40s or 50s
- What They Don’t Tell You About Bike Commuting,
by Grant Petersen (of Rivendell Bicycle Works)
--> via Fritz at Cyclicio.us
- the White House is encouraging staff members to bike commute, and is installing bike racks! (Sadly, the Times Online (UK) site appears to be down)
- A cocktail on bike-lane stencil, even when done in a lighthearted way and with the greatest intent, is not appropriate
--> via Jonathan at BikePortland
and, in the when pigs fly category
I haven't written about Zoe, the sweetheart pitbull next door, in a while, mostly because the subject makes me very upset. Lately, it doesn't seem to matter if it's early evening, late evening, early morning—Zoe has been tied up behind the house. She has no house, no shelter, nothing but a blanket on the ground to keep her warm. I've had to chant to myself that it doesn't matter that I would give her a better home—it's not okay to steal a dog.
So. Last night one of the renters comes by at 9:15 saying that Zoe is lost and have we seen her? I guess someone had let her out into their unfenced backyard, and she took off. I just feel sick. All I can hope is that Zoe is okay, and that someone is taking good care of her.
My thoughts about decluttering seem to have struck a chord with some of you. Like Jessica, I don't want my house to be sterile, and living with three cats and a dog, I don't think I have to worry about that. I suspect that I will always have bookcases that have books not only standing vertically, but horizontal on top of the vertical ones.
As I started to feel better yesterday afternoon, I started taking on little cleaning and decluttering projects. It was necessarily very flylady-like, as I could manage about 15 minutes worth of effort before I needed to just collapse in a heap. My stamina is about as good today, but I did a load of dishes, cleaned off some counters, and generally made a visible difference, before leaving for work.
Maybe it was watching Trust yesterday afternoon. How can you go wrong with dialogue like this:
- Maria: Can you stop watching TV for a minute?
- Matthew: No.
- Maria: Why?
- Matthew: Because. I had a bad day at work. I had to subvert my principles and kow-tow to an idiot. Television makes these daily sacrifices possible. Deadens the inner core of my being.
- Maria: Let's move away then.
- Matthew: They have television everywhere, there's no escape.
Anyways, the Matthew character must repeatedly clean the spotless bathroom. And you know, it was as though the scales fell from my eyes—suddenly I could see the house as others could see it, and man, I had a lot of work to do.
Mind you, I don't know if anyone else would notice the work I did on the house. But I do.
The act of cleaning and dunging out? Very pleasant. I'm looking forward to more of it.
October 4, 2005
Sorry about no entry yesterday. I've been sick, and spending a lot of time sleeping. I'm hoping I'm going to be feeling better soon, as this whole "pain and exhaustion" as well as no real social contact thing is getting old.
I've been thinking about the whole car ownership thing alot lately. The car I own is 13 years old, and worth next to nothing, yet it still runs reliably, so I'm not inclined to get rid of it. But when it dies?
One of the blogs I've been following lately is Kipchoge, one of the Xtracycle guys. I've been especially thinking about a recent entry that involved a bumper sticker: "God, grant me the courage to sell my car."
I have what seems like a thousand reasons why I should have a car: what if I get a job that requires a huge commute? What if I get a job that requires me to travel around the state? And the ones that came up this weekend: what if I need to go to the pharmacy and I don't have the strength to ride the bike or the scooter? What if it's raining? What if I need to go to the doctor under these circumstances?
I know, I know, there are cabs and friends and even the bus. There are probably work-arounds for all of these excuses. Yet yesterday, when I got a first-thing-in-the-morning doctor's appointment across town that I needed to get to immediately, I was glad to have the car.
I guess in the end, it's the matter of convenience. If I'm planning ahead, being rational about time, that sort of thing, doing errands isn't bad or unpleasant on the scooter, and it probably won't be when I graduate to more of a urban-utility bicycle.
What about evacuating? Well, I still don't have a good answer for that, not if I have to bring the dog and four cats along, as well as their food.
I have been Miss Short-Attention-Span. I web-surf, I try to watch TV (ugh), I page through magazines. It seems a shame that I can't seem to accomplish something—after all, I'm stuck here at home.
I stumbled across an article about the literal dangers of hoarding, which made me feel a bit guilty about my clutter. This was especially poignant as just Saturday, I bagged a bunch of stuff and hid it at the top of the stairs. I want so badly for everything to have its place, and that place to not be a bag at the top of the stairs.
So I did a smidge of decluttering and then had to lie down. Sigh!
So this morning as I was looking for the url of the God, grant me the courage entry, I found this:
I think getting rid of stuff (and buying less to begin with) frees our mind and soul, brings us somehow closer to the essence of living—in some way “stuff” separates us from our true nature, protects us from rich experience, numbs us to the intensity of the world. Overeating, overwatching t.v., overdriving, overworking, overbuying—all serve to cut us off.
Something to work towards...