A semi-daily chronicle of my life as a musician, a family man, and a citizen of Oregon.

Jan 31, 2008

Tri-met's Customer Non-service

Trimet is the public transportation system here in Portland.  I've been riding the bus & max (max=light rail) to work since last August and for the most part I really like it.  It's certainly done wonders for my reading.  But there are frustrating parts about it and a few weeks ago I had the worst experience.  Here's the email I sent to trimet:

To whom it may concern,

I'm pretty frustrated.  The max ticketing machines at 2nd and Taylor eastbound often don't function. Today the machine ate a 5 dollar bill from me.  I had to go to the ATM to get another 5 dollars only to find out that the other machine wasn't accepting bills either.  I ended up not paying the fare (or paying 5 dollars depending on how you look at it) to the 42nd ave transit center.  I did an errand and then waited at the bus stop going north on 42nd just past Sandy (75 line) where I waited 15 min past the bus due time only to have the bus drive right by and not pick me up!  It was right under the streetlight so the driver must have seen me.  I would at least like my 3.25 back.

Here's the response I got back:

You need to call 503-962-2444 and speak to a customer service rep.  They will fill out a claim form for you that goes to finance for a refund.

Thanks a lot.

Jan 29, 2008

Jogging Update

I'm now on week 5 of the Cool Running Couch to 5K program and I haven't missed a day of running yet so far in the program.  For the most part everything has gone fine.  My feet are no longer hurting me as bad as they had been, largely since I stopped wearing my black leather work shoes that don't have quite the support of my tennis shoes and brown loafers.  My toes have a bit of faint hurt left in them but for the most part I'm feeling a lot better.

This is the first week that I've found the program to be challenging.  On Monday I did intervals of 5 minutes running, 3 minutes walking.  Thursday will be 8 minutes running and 5 minutes walking and on Saturday I'll run two miles.  It will probably be the first time I've run two miles in my entire life, so that's pretty exciting.

One thing that's made the program significantly easier is a podcast that a guy from California made using magnatunes music.  Granted, this is not music that I would listen to on my own, but it's really convenient because there's a different podcast for each day of the program and the guy lets you know when to start running or when to begin walking.  It makes the run a whole lot easier.  Check it out at Robert Ullrey's website.

The Country He Inherited, The Country He Leaves Behind

This pretty much speaks for itself.

Remember that this president had the highest approval ratings ever in 2001 and 2002.  He is now an unmitigated failure.

Jan 27, 2008

More Potty Humor

I posted in December about the signs that have cropped up at work reminding every gentlemen to make sure that the urine he is eliminating ends up in the urinal, as opposed to on the floor.  I shared my incredulity at this display of passive-aggressive behavior, pointing out the fact that people pee on the floor because they're lazy and uncouth, not because they were never asked.

As I mentioned, the signs have been changing configurations for the last couple of months... here's the latest installment - they've made their way to the ceiling!  I love going into the bathroom just to find out where they'll appear next.  :-)

Jan 26, 2008

Ryan Adams at the Elsinore

Photo Credit: artolog

Last night I went with a couple of friends from work to see Ryan Adams at the Elsinore Theater in Salem, OR (admittedly the photo above is from a show earlier in the week).  The Elsinore Theater has been recently remodeled and it looks really good.  It has this kind of faux-roman thing going on with columns and so forth.  Kind of a weird deal is they have a drinks concession but you can't take anything into the theater.  There were gigantic lines for drinks and I didn't really feel like pounding a beer so I could catch the beginning of the show.  We ended up taking our seats in the balcony.

I had a number of problems with the Elsinore and this is where they begin.  The seats in the balcony are incredibly small.  My knees were firmly planted in the wooden back of the seat in front of me.  Also, it was apparently of critical importance that everyone sat in the exact seat listed on their ticket.  As a result, people were constantly standing up and groping around in the dark trying to figure out where they were supposed to be, which was incredibly annoying as I was trying to concentrate on the show.

Another strange characteristic of the Elsinore is that it seems to be exclusively staffed by elderly people - like in their 80's.  I found this to be incredibly funny, but it also contributed to the annoying seating situation as they kept asking us "kids" to move around as they tried to figure out what seat we should be in.

As far as Ryan & the band's performance, it was pretty great.  The sound of the show was kind of rocky for the first five songs or so but Ryan had his vintage ES-335 kickin' and it goes without saying that he is an absolutely phenomenal guitar player.  He was playing through some Fender amps I think and he just had a great tone, as did his guitar player who I think was playing an SG.  Ryan Adams just oozes talent.

Of course, Ryan Adams also kind of attracts hecklers and last night was no exception.  He did a good job of dealing with it for the most part.  He was affable and witty.  At one point he quipped "they think they can heckle us because we're just a bunch of easy-going guys who like to jam.  Also, I have a volatile past."

My one criticism of RA would be that the show was a little jammy at part, especially during the last song of the show "Easy Plateau" which was probably a 12 minute jam that really wasn't that interesting.  Some people like that kind of thing but it just kind of turns me off.

Standouts of the night included a great creepy version of "Off Broadway" and a great vocal version of "Pearls On a String" which featured the incredibly tight harmony vocals provided by the Cardinals.  The harmony vocals throughout the show were especially fantastic.  I appreciated that RA played two sets with an intermission that let him play right up to when the theater had to close up shop.

Also after they played the whole band came out front to sign CD's and talk with folks.  I didn't really feel like waiting in the long line, but I was watching from the side and RA was incredibly gracious, letting people take pictures with him.  Of course, he was smoking the whole time which caused one of the octogenarians working there to say "I don't know what makes that guy so special.  They shouldn't put up with that."  It was just hilarious.

Jan 22, 2008

The Grand Lodge

Last weekend Jen and I took a quick little getaway to McMennamin's Grand Lodge in Forest Grove.  All my friends in Oregon know about McMennamins, but for those readers from other parts of the world they own some brew-pubs here in Oregon.  They expanded into running hotels by taking over historical sites that were otherwise jeopardized.  In the case of the Grand Lodge they took over what had been a Masonic retirement home.  In the 1920's it was an orphanage as well and it's pretty heartbreaking to see the pictures of the orphans that decorate some of the halls.  Each of the hotels are decorated with hand-painted faces in interesting places, such as on the elbows of exposed pipes on the basement level.

The Grand Lodge has a movie theater, a soaking pool, two restaurants, and of course wonderful beer.  We stayed in the "JRR Tolkein" room which had a portrait of the master himself painted on one of the walls as well as a few well chosen lines from the Hobbit and the Fellowship of the Ring. 

We had an early-ish dinner and after walking around a bit and taking in the building we watched "The Darjeeling Limited".  I love this movie - Wes Anderson's sense of aesthetics and humor are right up my alley and even though I've seen it before it is the kind of movie that you get more out of from repeated viewing.  Jen, bless her heart, was tuckered out and fell asleep on me before the movie even got started.

The next day we had a late breakfast after reading the paper in bed.  After breakfast Jen went to the on-site spa, where she got a facial treatment.  Luckily for me, they also had a really nice sitting room where I could get cozy and read through a couple of issues of Rolling Stone. 

Jan 18, 2008

Jan 16, 2008

Science Experiment

A few days ago Brianna decided to try the science experiment where you take some vinegar and add in baking soda to see if it "explodes".  I watched from the living room as Brianna and Andrew took a 2 liter  bottle out into the driveway.  They started out very conservatively with a tablespoon of each, but apparently they weren't happy with the effect. 

I watched as the kids went from the teaspoon to a healthy dash of each ingredient.  Eventually they poured all of the vinegar we had in the bottle (admittedly there wasn't a ton in the bottle I gave them) and started dumping the entire contents of the baking soda canister into the bottle.

It was at this point that I ran out there to ask them what they thought they would pour in with the baking soda once they had the bottle full.  It was hilarious because Brianna looked at me with a blank stare and I realized that she hadn't thought of that at all.  "I don't know." she said, "Add water?'

Jan 14, 2008

Cool Running

I'm on week 3 of the Cool Running beginning runner program.  I'm too embarrassed to type the name of the program here, but the bottom line is that I should be able to run 5k everyday at the end of about two months. 

Right now things are going pretty good - I'm getting my breath and my legs are getting used to the running.  The only minor irritation is that the ball of my right foot is a little bruised from breaking in a new pair of running shoes, but I just have to live with that for the moment.  It actually only hurts when I walk - not so much when I run. 

Jan 13, 2008

Columbia Slough Trail

Today we went for a walk on what I think is called the Columbia Slough Trail, off of NE 33rd past the Oregon Food Bank.  It's an incredible place, as you walk along the wetlands by Marine Drive you're so near the airport that you can see the jets landing almost directly above you. 

The trail is a great mix of human activity and beauty.  It was a beautifully clear day (which was a nice change after the last week we've had of rain) and you could see across the airport towers to the enigmatic Mt Hood.  I was thinking about the other picture I got of Mt. Hood from Bigelow Canyon Wind Farm,  which is on the other side of the mountain.  I feel like Mt Hood is the mother of this part of the northwest, looking down on us all and observing our activity with care and patience.

Andrew brought his scooter and Brianna was on her bike and the trail is definitely a hit.  You always know you're doing something good when the kids ask if they can do it again.  I'm pretty impressed to - it'll be nice to have another place to jog besides my favorite track down the road where Whitaker Middle School used to be.

Jan 11, 2008

Darth Vader

We've been watching Star Wars a lot around here lately - those of you who know me won't be surprised.  Brianna and I were talking about the series a few nights ago and the subject of Darth Vader came up.  Brianna just recently saw the third episode "Revenge of the Sith" and we were talking about how Anakin becomes Darth Vader and I said something about how it was too bad that he became a bad guy

Brianna strongly disagreed with me.  I was fascinated to find out that in her eyes Darth Vader was only bad for a little while, but that basically for her he's the good guy who ends up saving Luke.

I think one of the reasons for the disparity is that when I was a kid it was years between when I saw the original Star Wars series.  For me there was a long time of fixating on Darth Vader as a bad guy, followed by a revelation at the end of the series that he was in fact Luke's father.  Brianna saw the episodes basically one after the other in a very short period of time and in the context of having seen the prequel.  For her it's a story of how Anakin goes to the dark side and is then redeemed, which I think is closer to the story that George Lucas sees as well.

Jan 8, 2008


increase your vocabulary and donate rice to hungry people at the same time at this cool site: freerice.com

Jan 7, 2008


Brianna told me the funniest story last night about her Bubbe.  Bubbe is the yiddish word for grandmother - in this case Brianna's maternal grandmother, who passed away a few years ago.

Anyhow, apparently they were in a department store bathroom together and Brianna was going "number 2". 

She asked Bubbe over the divider "Bubbe, my doodie has red in it, should it have red in it?"

To which Bubbe replied "Oh, don't worry about it honey.  My doodie has all kinds of colors in it, red, green, even purple sometimes."

Jan 6, 2008

White Christmas

I know it was a couple of weeks ago, but I wanted to mention that here in Portland we got a great Christmas gift - snow!  For those of you reading this from east of here that doesn't seem like a very big deal, but it only snows here once or twice a year - and usually just a tiny dusting.  Getting snow on Christmas was magical.

Here's a pic of our back yard:


And the front yard:

Of course, we had to get out there with some of the new gifts.  For Christmas Brianna got a scooter and Andrew got a ramp for his BMX bike so we headed out into the snow.

Also Andrew got some cool spikes to put in his helmet.

Of course, I'm no stranger to the scooter-jump myself.

Jan 3, 2008

Evil Eye Baby

This has been cracking me up for two days straight.

Jan 2, 2008

Christmas Video '07

This is probably truly only interesting if you're related to me but here's a video of the kids opening up Christmas presents.  Enjoy!