Friday, October 31, 2008

vote by mail in oregon!

booth and i just received our ballots in the mail!
barack obama's name looks so pretty.
i'm so ready to vote.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

every color of his bruise

so, the wounds from my bike-cident are all healing smoothly if not slowly. this is the massive bruise i have on my thigh. and now, since i went running yesterday, my knee is stiff and painful. i need to keep my leg stretched out so that it doesn't hurt when i stand up. but i can not stop jogging! must keep going! must run a marathon (half) by the end of the year. right now, i'm back at square one, running two to four miles at a time. but i'll get back up there. my favorite path right now is down sandy boulevard from our apartment, to burnside, to the east bank trail by the willamette river all the way to OMSI and back home. that's around four miles round trip as far as i can estimate on the map. but today, i'll take a break. do so yoga. relax.

portland google electric

could google be your next power company? i say, google for president. this article reviews google's new interest in investing in renewable energy. here it is thomas friedman. of course, thomas friedman in his recent book, applauds google's interest in "clean electrons," but has one problem with the company's justification by equation, RE < C, meaning a need for renewable energy cheaper than coal. friedman say, "It is true that renewable energy that is cheaper than coal is necessary, but, as I have argued, it is not sufficient. We also need innovation to improve energy and resource productivity, and we need an ethic of conservation - without which RE < C could wipe out massive amounts of biodiversity." i think friedman is probably a little harsh on google at this point in his book, and i don't see how a need for cheap renewable resources would contribute to a loss of biodiversity, however i do agree that cheap renewable resources cannot be the only answer and that stringent conservation must be employed as well. as the article in the times points out, at just its data center in the dalles, or (not very far from portland at all) google uses, "50 megawatts — enough to power 37,500 homes — but was built to handle even more capacity." luckily, most of this power in the dalles is already generated by hydroelectric dam on the columbia river, and as the article notes google has always sought to reduce its consumption of energy and increase its efficiency, but friedman's point is that just assuring that such a large consumption of energy comes from a hydroelectric dam or kites producing wind power is not enough. data center and skyscrapers and every other company and household in america must invest and invent new ways to conserve energy and materials.

Monday, October 27, 2008

happy birthday mr. president

today is teddy roosevelt's birthday! happy one hundred and fiftieth!
and this the interview edmund morris conducted with mr. roosevelt today on this historic occassion. this is actually an amazing, amazing piece. read it, it's a treasure.
my favorite quote from the "colonel" in responce to what he thinks listening to joe biden about foreign policy must be like:
"You can’t nail marmalade against a wall."

Sunday, October 26, 2008

it's sometimes sunny in portland

portland sees its most beautiful day today. the weather here is in the sixties; the softest breeze blows throughout the city; the leaves are changing to beautiful shades of red, orange, and yellow; and the sun is shinning. however, everyone knows that the rains will soon be here, so soak it in while you can.

booth and i biked down to a restaurant on morrison called zell's to brunch with helen and garrett. i ate a wonderful smoked salmon scramble, while enviously dreaming of the fried green tomatoes garrett ordered last time we brunched at the screen door a few weeks ago. and after lounging a while, reading the times and drinking more coffee of course, booth and i walked a while to run an errand and admire the leaves.

though even at this hour, i wonder how much pain josh must be in still. a hangover seemed inevitable for him. let's put it this way, if drinking were a socialist activity, josh would have been sent to the gulag last night because he had more than his share. josh, booth, and i went to roturre last night to attend the glass candy cd release that seth informed us about. the show was interesting, what we saw of it. farah was horrible. glass candy was amazing. but of course, the star of the evening was josh, and i only hope after plenty of hydration and two asprins he feels better now.

and here, so that you can enjoy this portland day, let me share with you some of the fall leaves booth and i saw on our walk today:

Saturday, October 25, 2008

artists wanted

i made french toast this morning for josh and booth the morning (or midday) after we hung out at adam's house with friends late into the night. i drank plenty of coffee, consumed a large amount of sugary syrup, and felt energized and ready to go. it's beautiful here: sunny and in the sixties. a perfect day, one of those most perfect days that seems so full of potential. of course, such a sense of potential could just be the sucrose and caffeine.

booth and i walked north and west to north broadway after brunch to find the portland institute for contemporary art, a very official, important sounding moniker that promises something big and important. alas, after walking all those blocks (really quite a short distance) i was disappointed by what they had to offer. booth and i have not seen any really good art at any of the galleries to which we've been yet here in portland, and i'm beginning to believe that there is no such thing as good art or good artists here in portland. maybe there is a city ordinance against it; there do seem to be plenty of strange municipal rules and regulations here.
we were lured to PICA on the promise of an exhibition featuring a showcase representing one patron's purchases from one artist each year of twelve distinct works. the patron then takes what these artists create and gives them to friends and collectors all over the united states as gifts. sounds interesting right?

what we found instead was more small, boring works which represented nothing more than decorative bullshit. there were small strange sculptures with mysterious titles in french and german which would have looked perfect on an end table or on a credenza perhaps. there were the obligatory paintings representing that meaningless pastiche of found images collaged into a eye pleasing composition. you know i hate art like this. plenty of birmingham artists do it: "oh i found all these images in old books and they were so pretty so i collaged it all together!" really? 'cause that's really dumb and meaningless and you are what's wrong with postmodernism. and then last, but not least, were twelve door mats, woven with bright rectangular patches and a single depressed word like "poet" or "childhood" or "poop" sown into each. were they ironic? were we supposed to infer that we were wiping our feet on each of the concepts? that might have been interesting. but the garish colors were unnecessary and did not add anything at all. the message came across as confused, if that in fact was what the artist was attempting to communicate.

in short, i will completely surprised when booth and i finally do see good art here in portland. of course, as booth pointed out, we could very well put together a gallery with really good art and become an anchor here for art. yet i rebutted that we would have to import artists from outside the city because it looks like no one here has any idea what they are doing.

there is still hope though: at adam's house last night i spied some art that i assume he had made (as he has confessed to us that he attended art school) and the images i saw there looked pretty amazing. and booth and i still haven't been to the gallery openings on alberta st. at the end of the month. i'm hoping i'll see something amazing there.

Friday, October 24, 2008

christopher talks about tuesdays

Steve Israel and Norman J. Ornstein wrote an editorial this morning in the New York Times arguing that we should change our scheduled election date from a tuesday to a saturday or sunday. this has always made sense to me. other countries hold their elections on the weekend or declare the election day to be a holiday, and we have our election on a tuesday, an inconvenience for everyone and a voting impossibility for some. there are some people who are never able to get to the polls between getting their kids to school, preparing for work, working for eight hours with a thirty minute break, and then picking the kids back up and taking care of their families in the evening. voting is a luxury. and registering to vote is easy, and just because we've seen record number register to vote this year, the hope is that these same people will still be able to take time out of their day tuesday, a week and a half from now, and vote.
so where will we find the leaders to change this? that is the question i constantly ask myself. where do we find leader progressive and fearless enough to run for election to complete change the way government sometimes works, and how do we get them elected. i recently finished reading thomas friedman's hot, flat and crowded, which i highly recommend especially to the economically minded environmentalist, and found that friedman's main message is this: changing the type of lightbulb you use or recycling more does not really do much to conserve enough energy. he argues that we have to initiate a top-down change to regulate energy production and conservation in corporations and in power companies. america needs to invest in energy, in energy alternatives, in energy production, in energy revolution, and lead the world economically in this revolution so that we may once again become an economic world power. he says choosing the right leader to encourage such investment in technology and regulation is more important than changing the type of lightbulb we use in our house. and although i really love obama now, i don't believe he's radically enough to do this for us. what friedman does not delineate in his book is where america should look for such leadership.
in the mean time, booth and i are waiting for our ballots to arrive in the mail so that we can happy check the box beside mr. obama's name. here in oregon, everyone votes by mail. a ballot gets delivered to every registered voter in his or her mailbox. this is an amazing initiative to me, and if we're not going to change the election date from tuesday to a weekend date, each state should consider this voting method. this method might even more enfranchising and easier than the other alternative anyway.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

chapter 10: in which little christopher goes to lake oswego

so i had an interview for a job schedule with this employment agency yesterday morning. they called tuesday afternoon and asked if i wanted to interview, perhaps that day. i was like, "sure. i might could do that..." and the woman on the other end said, "great! well, our offices are in lake oswego..." and i said, "well... maybe it would be better if i come in wednesday then, since i'm so unfamiliar with that part of town."
lake oswego is a suburb pretty far south of portland, a place-name (how proustian no?) wrapped in mystery to me since all i knew of lake oswego was that it was a suburb and there was no way to walk there. but i made an appointment with this woman for ten o'clock the next morning. the transmission on booth's car is shot, so i decided i would have to find public transportation down there. the official website for public transportation here was no help; it could not find the address for my destination and so could not help figure out which bus i needed to take. but luckily, google is so smart these days, it will give you public transportation directions these days and then tell you how much money you're saving in gas! so i wrote down the bus numbers i'd need and carried on with my day, confident that if i left with plenty of time the next morning, i'd easily make to lake oswego on time.
i watched dexter with josh and a few of his friends at his apartment tuesday night. i drank a few beers there, and then when his friends left, josh and i, still parched after such prime-time excited, decided to get a drink at the local bar behind our apartment, the blue diamond. the blue diamond truly is a gem of a bar: smokey, not fancy in anyway, full of strange old men and women drinking whiskey or playing the slots. and furthermore, the bartender tells us great stories about all the regulars there and i'm swiftly falling in love with her. anyway, two beers, two whiskey and cokes, and then to top it all off, another beer, booth says i was drunk, and i really was fine, but i probably shouldn't have had that much to drink.
while i didn't feel as perky as i usually do when i wake up and drink a trough of coffee the next morning, i did promptly peel myself from the covers, shower, dress quickly, grab my rain slicker and head out the door.
my first mistake: i stopped by urban grind two blocks from the house for coffee on my way to the train to take me downtown. the coffee machine wasn't working and the barista was having to make americanos for everyone. it took forever. but i didn't want to be rude and just leave, so i waited patiently and told her i wish she would have a better day later. i arrived downtown on the train ("this is a blue line train to beaverton") at 8.30 and decided i still had plenty of time to make it to lake oswego by 10 since google maps predicted it would only take an hour.
i got off the train at 1st and madison (or morrison, i can't remember the train route right now) and started walking south toward the bus stop. when reading the directions i had i decided they told me to go to 3rd and some other road. but really they said to go to 1st and columbia, so i had to loop back. then i realized half way there i hadn't bought a train ticket, so i had to loop back and find a train platform to buy an all day ticket for $4.70. finally i arrived at SW 1st avenue and columbia. i saw the bus number i was looking for. it was 8.55, getting tight, but still plenty of time i thought. then i looked at the bus schedule, and here's my second mistake: the bus i needed to take south only ran during rush hour, so the last bus had run at 8.53 had stopped minutes before i arrived and did not run again until 2.30! i had a brake down. i swear i almost started crying there, at that corner, a block and a half away from the willamette river, in the heart of downtown portland.
i called the agency, explained that booth's car had lost its transmission and that i would not be able to come in that day. they thankfully let me reschedule for thursday, and i explained how embarrassed i was.
i walked home with a useless transportation pass (riding the trains and buses while downtown is free so i generally never have to pay for public transporation) and cold, weak americano.
my wireless adapter for my laptop stopped working that afternoon after our internet was finally installed. my face is all broken out because i'm so stressed out. and booth kept reminding me how fat i've become (jokingly of course). but he did tell me (which apparently he had while i was drunk tuesday night) that helen had offered to allow me to borrow her car to drive down to lake oswego.
so i did not drink that night. i read, and relaxed, and went to bed early under my electric blanket, which happens to be my best friend. i woke up earlier this morning than yesterday. i showered and called helen's boyfriend garrett to ask if i could borrow their car. he gratefully acquiesced so i allowed myself around hour to prepare myself, make myself look nice, make coffee, eat breakfast, read the new york times, feel smart and awake. i walked to garrett's place around nine feeling fine.
and then: driving in portland. first of all, i don't like driving other people's cars; it makes me nervous. second, i haven't had to drive in three weeks since i arrived here, and i've only driven once in the city of portland, so that made me nervous as well. i couldn't find the entrance to i-5 from se morrison, so i went all the way up to ne sandy like the directions said to try to find the westbound entrance to i-84, which was nearly impossible. then suddenly i found myself in the midst of portland's rush hour traffic, which wasn't so bad, so still a little scary. some jackass almost hit me from behind as i passed the city center on i-5 and headed south toward lake oswego.
i made okay, and on time. i filled out their application. i watched a dumb video on sexual harrassment. i interviewed with the exceedingly upbeat but friendly woman only to have the interviewer say to me, "well, you really don't have the qualifications they were looking for. they were really looking for someone with direct experience as a teller, but you only have experience in a credit union. so we'll call you if they go for that." she was nice and said she'd try to help me find something i would hopefully like better anyway, but i was still a little put off that i drove all that way, went through all that trouble to have her say that to me.
and thus, another week passes in portland.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

the trail ended exactly two weeks ago

already i have developed habits and tendencies that identify me here in portland. i'm sitting in the library in a section of portland called "hollywood" as i type this. i usually jump on my bike every morning and pedal to a nearby library: the downtown central branch, the belmont branch, or now the hollywood branch. i sit in the library on my laptop for a few hours among the other crowds in queue to use the internet. the libraries here are packed; there are people here all day. no one in birmingham uses the libraries. i don't think people there even know where they are. here though, all the poor hopefuls looking for jobs crowd around terminals and mothers and fathers play with their children. and the downtown library here is amazing, filled with books that i would have had to request through interlibrary loan in birmingham. the other day i picked up a book about caravaggio published by MIT as an october book. it turned out to be a complete waste of my time as i am eternally disgusted with psychoanalytic methodologies. so i'm going to return that book and continue my avoidance of freud and lacan for a little longer.

anyway though, in the belmont library yesterday, sitting on the floor in front a shelf of fiction books by one of the two plugs in the entire building, forcing browsers to navigate around me, i suddenly see a new portland friend i've met nicolette. we greet each other and she says, "yeah, i heard you might be here." and i thought, so there's already wild gossip about me; i'm infamous already for sitting on the library floor on my laptop all day? another friend i've met here, josh, had told her she might find me there upon hearing that she was going. it's just remarkable that i've already become predictable here.

booth and i are having a party on saturday. and we have exactly five friends, so it should be a really big event.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

soft october nights

and seeing that it was a soft october night, booth and little christopher went for a walk around southeast portland. these are some of the things they saw in their neighborhood that night.

then we curled once around the house and fell asleep