2008-10-30

pumpkins!

Last weekend we went out to Sauvie Island with our friend Theresa to get some pumpkins for this lovely season of Halloween.

From Miscellaneous Portland Pictures

We had a bit of trouble finding our way to the pumpkin patch once we hit Sauvie Island, so of course once we finally got there, we headed straight for The Maize! I don't know if we thought we could make ourselves feel better by not getting lost in the maze, or what... but anyway :)

From Pumpkins 2008

They have a bunch of different guides to help you find your way through the maze - with 10 checkpoints at which you must make critical decisions about which way to turn...

From Pumpkins 2008

At each checkpoint is also a "Cornundrum" - a picture puzzle you can try to solve. If you get them all right, you can enter a drawing for a party at the pumpkin patch at the end of the maze.

From Pumpkins 2008

We made it though the maze without any major problems, so then we went to get some food :) Trina and I had sausages with sauerkraut and split an elephant ear, while Theresa had a baked potato and a caramel apple. We went into the produce store and got a few squash and a white pumpkin, and then headed off on the hayride out to the pumpkin patch!

From Pumpkins 2008

From Pumpkins 2008

These are the ones we ended up with (plus the white one):

From Pumpkins 2008

We made it home without a hitch, and all was good with the world (hah, wouldn't that be nice...)

So, Wednesday night our friends Michael and Dara, as well as Theresa, came over to our place to watch this week's Pushing Daisies, and carve our pumpkins. They brought over a pie (very appropriate), and we had some port, kettle corn, french truffles, and a jolly good time pulling goo out of pumpkins and cutting holes in them.

Trina's is the front left, mine in the back, and Michael and Dara's is front right:

From Pumpkins 2008

Trina's had different things on different sides, so here's a couple more of hers:

From Pumpkins 2008

From Pumpkins 2008

Theresa is doing a bit more involved of a project, so she didn't quite finish hers, but I'm sure there will be pictures on her blog (linked above) when she's done :)

Dara and Trina after cleaning up a bit:

From Pumpkins 2008

Michael and Dara getting ready to leave:

From Pumpkins 2008

Michael was kind enough to do most of the dishes for us (those two are crazy like that), and they eventually headed out the door around 11. It was a great evening, all around.

Last night, we got together with some more friends, and carved more pumpkins! The tall one is mine:

From Pumpkins 2008

The tree is Trina's:

From Pumpkins 2008

Some other examples of fine pumpkin worksmanship:

From Pumpkins 2008

From Pumpkins 2008

Yes, a good time was had by all, indeed. Happy Halloween everyone!

2008-10-28

biking... some more :)

A friend of mine let me borrow his gorillapod so I could try out filming on my bike hands-free, and see how it worked for that. It turned out pretty well, I have to say - here are the results, set to some of my own music :) Enjoy!

2008-10-27

a few bike modifications...

So, I finally got around to getting a new bike bell, as the one that comes with the Amsterdams dings whenever you go over a bump, which was getting really annoying and distracting. Trina already had a different bell from her previous bike, so I got this nice Widek bell from Clever Cycles.

Additionally, our friend Michael (of Michael and Dara fame) helped me out getting parts for and installing a front caliper brake, which has been a nice supplement to the coaster brake. He found a brake somewhere that I could have for free, and got some of the other parts cheaply for me. Big thanks again to him for helping me out with that.

Hope everyone's Monday was good!

From Biking

From Biking

2008-10-26

the best ice cream ever

last night we got the absolute best ice cream ever in the world :)

I should start by saying that we are not typically big ice cream people and usually if we get more than about 5 bites worth each, it will sit in the freezer for a long time and go bad (even in the summer). Last night we bought a pint of Straus Family Creamery Raspberry ice cream, and now at noon today it is gone. It tastes just like fresh raspberries with good cream poured over them. It's a bit expensive, at $3.99 a pint, but man is it good. Holy smokes. If you ever want to give yourself a real nice treat, give it a try. We found ours at New Seasons, it's possible that other stores carry it as well.

cheers!

2008-10-24

it's beginning to look a bit like winter...

This morning's commute, it hit me for the first time that the air is beginning to feel a bit wintry in the morning - I bundled up with my long wool coat from Lithuania and headed out.

From Sartorial and Aesthetic Pursuits

As I was riding in along the waterfront from the Hawthorne Bridge, the sun was really low on the horizon and looked just impossibly huge, like the moon sometimes does on those strange nights.

From Miscellaneous Portland Pictures

As I went up the tram, I noticed there was a low-lying fog over the whole city, that looked really crazy, so I took a picture from up at the top - you can't see the fog all that well, but it's still a nice picture :)

From Miscellaneous Portland Pictures

Again today, it looks like it's going to be bright and sunny, but cool - the best weather. Happy day, all!

2008-10-21

a foggy morning...

This morning was beautiful and foggy, and as I got out the door a wee bit earlier than usual, it was still rather dark when I left - so I had to flip on the old generator headlight and head into the fog.

From Miscellaneous Portland Pictures

It was a fantastic ride, as I love the cold air and the fog and the city looked so beautiful. There were a lot of bikers out, more than usual, for whatever reason. I can't imagine why so many of them were wearing shorts, however, seeing as it was probably about 40 degrees out. Crazy people.

From Miscellaneous Portland Pictures

Here's a little video of part of my ride, set to one of my songs. Cheers!

2008-10-20

one-issue people

It's hard for me to understand how people, in a decision such as choosing the next president (many other example decisions could be found), can be so focused on one single issue that it is not only more important to them than any other single issue, but is more important to them than every other issue combined. I mean, I understand that doing that kind of mental stunt makes your decision a lot easier, but it doesn't seem very responsible.

Take the issue of value for human life (there could be many more examples of topics, as well). That is such an enormously huge topic, and yet it seems to often be narrowed down to the issue of abortion. I, personally, don't agree with abortion, and think it's a horrible thing to be happening. However, if you consider a candidate, or how to vote on an issue only from the point of view of abortion, you're missing the value of human life issues related to war, poverty, economics, trade relations, workplace standards, slave-trade, sex-trade... there are so many things I could go on and on (not to mention every other potential issue your decision could relate to).

It reminds me of the Derek Webb quote "...are we defending life if we just pick and choose lives acceptable to lose, and which ones to defend?"

So, while you might be voting for something you believe in (for instance, saving the lives of babies), you might, without thinking about it, also be voting to destroy the lives of other people who are already alive, to decrease peoples' standard of living who are already barely making it by, to do nothing about the horrible devastation in peoples' lives due to slave trade or sex trade, to do nothing about disease running rampant that people can't afford to pay for medicine to treat, to turn a blind eye towards poverty in this country and elsewhere, you get the idea. By simply always voting for one issue, you may also vote for a lot of bad policy without ever thinking about it, and all of that should at least be taken into account, even if you still end up making the same decision.

It's hard for me to say that any one issue (whatever it might be) could outweigh every other combined. I think it's important to consider a decision from all angles and make the best informed decision possible based on as many issues as you can get your head around, and how important you feel each one is.

Ok, that's all for now :)

2008-10-17

free music...

For anyone out there who enjoys classical music and has an eMusic account - they currently have a free sample of music by Einojuhani Rautavaara, a contemporary Finnish composer. The sampler is 17 tracks, and includes excerpts from his Cantus Arcticus, Clarinet Concerto, Gift of Dreams, Symphony No. 8, Cello Concerto, Perlimannit - Fiddlers, Manhattan Trilogy, Symphony No. 3, Dances With Winds, Shakespeare Sonnets, Sonata for Piano No. 2, String Quintet "Unknown Heavens", and Vigilia - Vespers. Tracks are performed by the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Finnish Radio Chamber Choir.

I've only personally heard his Cantus Arcticus, but based on that piece, I would highly recommend this.

http://www.emusic.com/album/Einojuhani-Rautavaara-Rautavaara-FREE-SAMPLER-MP3-Download/11297536.html

2008-10-16

one more political post

because of the staggering amount of incredible information that has been flying around during this presidential election, I want to encourage everyone - if you actually care about this election, one way or the other, check out claims being made by both parties at places like www.snopes.com and www.factcheck.org, which are independent sites that research all kinds of things, from urban legends to political claims, to determine if there is any truth to them. please make a well-informed decision at least, whatever it is. don't vote based on the email forwards your aunt sends you every day, or even the claims made by the political candidates in the debates. make a little bit of effort to check into them and see what is really true and what is not. Whichever way you vote, at least have a really good reason for it, please.

2008-10-15

blog action day - poverty

So, here we are at blog action day... I have to say it caught me a bit by surprise, despite the email reminders :)

I think poverty, like many other things in life, is hard to understand if you haven't come in direct contact with it. Like Derek Webb says, "Poverty is so hard to see when it's only on your TV or 20 miles across town." I think another important thing to understand about poverty, which also relates to many other things in life, is that it's not very useful to understand it as an epidemic or a problem or whatever, without understanding what it means to an individual person.

In light of the current economic climate, particularly in the US, I think it may be appropriate to discuss how poverty plays into all of this.

In a time when many Americans are starting to worry about having to cut back on their spending (that is, to not be able to drive a $30,000 car or max out 5 different credit cards), I think it's important to note that a financial crunch like this actually brings a certain section of the population to the point where it will be difficult or impossible to feed their families nutritious meals. The situation of healthcare has gotten even worse, as they are working jobs which don't provide health insurance for their employees, now there is really no chance they will start, and those people are in even less of a position to pay for doctors' visits on their own.

People are starting to see their current health insurance coverage decline or disappear due to the financial difficulties of the institutions providing the insurance, as well as the financial hardships of their employers, who are less willing to pitch in to cover the cost. This is distressing, as most people simply don't have the money to pay for expensive medical procedures on their own, and should something happen to them, they would be leaving their family unable to provide for themselves.

Due to rising gas prices, goods which are transported long distances are getting more expensive, public transit is raising prices to cover operating costs, it's getting more expensive to travel by car - a lot of things are becoming more expensive.

This is all discomforting and annoying for everyone - but for people who have been just making it by previously, this is alarming. They aren't worried about cutting back on frivolous purchases at department stores, they're worrying about how to put food on the table every day, how to get to work every day, etc.

I think it's important to see that the people in the lowest income percentages are impacted most heavily by economic fluctuations. A decrease in their income that would only cause a lot of grumbling from you, might cause someone else to have to make a serious decision about commuting to work by different means that cost less - that is, to actually drastically change their behavior. However, this also means that an increase in their income that would only elicit an unemotional "woo" from you, might also cause them a significant increase in financial stability.

I think for this reason, it's important to think about the possibility of giving up some of what you have to benefit others. In a time of political decisions, I think it's important to think about decisions you make and how they will effect *everyone* in society, not just your own income bracket. Don't just look out for your own interests, but think about how your decisions effect others.

Maybe we should start thinking about pushing our city and state governments to fully subsidize things like public transit, even if it costs us a little bit more in taxes, which we will hardly even notice in our monthly budgets, so that people who can't afford to drive a car will have a steady, reliable means to get to work no matter what.

Maybe we should start re-thinking what we can really call our 'rights' as people, and then think about how that effects the choices we make in terms of society, community, etc. Maybe some of those things we cling to are worth giving up for the benefit of someone else.

Options for acting to do something about poverty are all over the place. They exist in your town, city, state, and internationally. Go look for them. They exist in decisions you make every day. Be careful in how you vote. Give your time to help people. Think about how your daily choices effect people around you. Get to know people who are different than you.

We're all in this together, whether we like it or not, and every person who does well in a society benefits that society as a whole. Let's work toward that end.

2008-10-13

weekend! :)

We had a lovely weekend this weekend -

Saturday morning we woke up before the crack of dawn (not as hard to do these days), and our friends Theresa, Michael, Dara and Brigid came over and we all caravanned our way out to the Oregon City School Sale that the Oregon City School District has every year, to sell of things they want to get rid of for really really cheap.

From School Sale '08

From School Sale '08

From School Sale '08

We got a number of very fun things, which I'm sure we will take pictures of soon so that we can show them to you all, humble viewers. It was freezing cold out, and by the time we were done our toes were numb and our noses were red and runny, so we decided to head to Broder Cafe on SE Clinton ST for brunch with Michael, Dara, and Brigid.

From School Sale '08

From School Sale '08

From School Sale '08

Brunch was amazing, as always there, and we had a great time talking and laughing and warming up our toes.

We went home and spent some time relaxing, and then moved our bed frame into the basement, as we were having some people come to look at it that afternoon. They came, and decided to buy it, so we decided to go put down the rest of the money for the La Pavoni Espresso Machine we put a deposit down on last weekend :) It is now sitting in our kitchen, looking all shiny and wonderful.

From Misc

Saturday night we made some delicious lentil soup with pork/garlic sausage, and then headed to bed.

Sunday we woke up late, and while Trina was taking a shower, I rode my bike over to PastaWorks on Hawthorne and got some bacon and eggs to cook up for breakfast. We had a lovely breakfast, and then I ran over to Michael and Dara's place to have him show me how to adjust my chain tension on my bike. I came back home, and Trina and I rode back to PastaWorks to get some stuff for dinner, as we had a coupon for 1 lb of fresh pasta from them. We decided to use it to make manicotti.

From Biking

After that, we went to Joann's Fabrics to get some fabric and odds and ends for Trina, and then stopped to get a few household supplies. By the time we got home, it was about 7.30pm and we hadn't started making the manicotti yet... Thankfully it goes together pretty quickly, and we baked it and ate the delicious results very quickly. We watched some TV for a little bit and then fed the cats and headed to bed.

This morning we woke up early enough for Trina to ride with me to work, so we got ready and packed up our things, and headed out into the (not too) chilly morning, bundled appropriately.

From Biking

From Biking

I dropped off Trina and her lunch at Sock Dreams, and then took the long route over to the Hawthorne Bridge, and down along the waterfront to the bottom of the tram - got some coffee, and took a few pictures while I sipped away.

From Biking

From Biking

From Biking


I really like the scarf with the blazer, it feels kind of like a cravat, and keeps your neck nice and warm as well :)

Here's another video of our jaunt to Pastaworks yesterday and part of my commute today. Cheers! :)

2008-10-08

autumn is here!

www.wunderground.com shows not a temperature above 65 in the near future, the light is shifting and it isn't even starting to get light out until about 7am, with the sun going down at more like 7pm. The light in the evenings is beautiful and turns everything golden the way that autumn evening sunlight does. the view going over the Hawthorne bridge in the evening is gorgeous. arriving back on the east side of town and riding through neighborhoods on my way home from work, I'm smelling fires in fireplaces and riding over wet leaves, and the air is crisp and cool, rather than soft and suffocating. my favorite time of year has begun, and I'm remembering all over again just exactly why that is. now when the trees start to really turn colors.... I can't wait.

From Biking


From Miscellaneous Portland Pictures


From Biking


Here's a little video of some parts of my commute :)

biking around the world...

In Copenhagen:


The Green Wave in Copenhagen from Colville Andersen on Vimeo.

And in Amsterdam:

2008-10-03

a political post...

I normally hate writing political posts, mainly because people get so angry and belligerent about them. However, the topic of socialism seems to be coming up in my thoughts and discussions lately, and I've been mulling over some things. Keep in mind that I'm not well versed in political philosophy or economics, these are just my own thoughts and musings.

It seems that a lot of Americans are afraid of the idea of socialism. I kind of understand this, as many Americans were alive during the cold war, and probably associate socialism with Stalinism or whatever. However, I think simply assuming Stalinism whenever you hear the word socialism is about the equivalent of assuming American economy whenever you hear the word capitalism. I mean, China is practicing capitalism, but not like America.

Ok, so we can agree then that socialism does not equal Stalin era communism. Good, I'm glad you're following me on that.

Socially, I think some Americans are frightened of socialism because it would cause them to give up certain rights they have claimed for themselves, and the distances they put between themselves and other people, so that they never have to depend on others or be depended upon. For instance, we hate the idea of paying for part of someone else's health care, or education - or the idea that we would be dependent on someone else to help pay for our education or health care. We hate being dependent.

Economically, I think we tend to shy away from socialism because it tempers economic growth. Our economy has been set up such that we have favored economic growth seemingly at the expense of all else. This probably has something to do with the state we are in at the moment.

Don't get me wrong, I have no warmth in my heart for socialism on the level of Russian or Chinese communism. I think that is an excess of socialism, and completely halts economic and social growth, at the expense of control (which, by the way, is why I don't understand how people think communism is a liberal concept - it's extremely conservative in the literal sense of the word, it fights to maintain the status quo at all costs).

I think the important thing is to realize that both an excess of control and an excess of freedom are dangerous, and that it can be good both economically and socially to temper growth and individualism with some regulation and sharing.

Just saying...

a new tie :)

I just got this tie recently at Bombshell Vintage on E Burnside, so I wanted to give it a spin today. It's silk, and I have to say, it's done its job marvelously.

From Sartorial and Aesthetic Pursuits

From Sartorial and Aesthetic Pursuits

From Sartorial and Aesthetic Pursuits

This tie with this shirt has become one of my favorite combinations, I think. It's been growing on me all day. Happy find!

thursday afternoon...

Yesterday I decided to go down the hill on the tram and then ride along the waterfront over to the Hawthorne bridge, and then cut back through Ladd's Addition over to Clinton and then up my usual route. When I got up to the tram platform, I was surprised by a uniquely wonderful view:

From Miscellaneous Portland Pictures

So, I went down the tram, and rode north on the waterfront till I came to this view, which didn't quite come out in the photo like I wanted, but is still nice:

From Miscellaneous Portland Pictures

Then over the Hawthorne bridge, up to about 12th and Hawthorne, and then, as illustrated below, through Ladd's Addition to Division. It's really a beautiful ride, I love it. Cheers all!

2008-10-02

here comes autumn!

today it's cloudy and a bit drizzly, and it feels wonderful. good riddance 80 degree weather. hello autumn! :)

more thoughts about bicycle helmets...

In the course of riding a lot lately, seeing things about helmets in the media, and in discussion with people in person, on blogs, etc, I've been thinking about bike helmets a lot. I definitely think there are particular venues and settings where bicycle helmets are very helpful.

Bicycle helmets were designed to protect your head in the event of a fall, not a collision. The fact that they may crack if you simply drop them on the floor while carrying them should be proof of that. This being the case, I think helmets are particularly useful for people who are either riding at high speeds, or people who are riding off-road, where there is a much higher chance of a fall, and where a fall would be potentially much more dangerous.

I've given some thought to the average bicycle commuter in the metropolitan area of a city, and from what I observe in Portland, as well as what I hear from people in other cities, *most* people riding around on city streets are going to be riding somewhere between 5-10 mph, especially as they have to stop often and they are often pacing themselves, as they don't want to arrive at their destination dripping sweat or whatever (especially if it's their workplace or a restaurant or something).

I feel personally that, traveling between 5-10 mph, I can pretty easily see bumps in the road, branches, even screws, glass and other smaller objects before I get to them, and I can react and ride around them if necessary. Going 5-10 mph, I generally don't have too much trouble stopping quickly or moving out of someone's way if they poke out into the street or swerve unexpectedly. Going 5-10 mph, a flat tire isn't going to be nearly as disastrous as it would if I were going 20-30 mph.

I think that, within a city, the biggest difficulty is interaction between bicycles and cars (or pedestrians, runners, etc).

A point that I thought was really interesting regarding the psychology of bicycle helmets that I came across lately, is someone who developed a device which he mounted on the side of his bike, which could judge the distance at which cars passed him. On repeated trips, wearing a bicycle helmet, he noted that cars drove significantly nearer to him when passing than they did if he wasn't wearing a helmet, all other factors being equal. It is also plausible and sensible to conjecture that a rider who feels protected would take more chances in traffic (seeing as we certainly take more risks when we feel safe in other areas of life).

Recently there have been a few cases of bicycle/car collisions in Portland, that have involved the cyclist coming away with no serious injuries, with no head injuries, and yet the media have made a point of emphasizing that the rider was not wearing a helmet, as if this is what caused the collision or something. Essentially, had these riders been wearing helmets, they would have had the same injuries as they did without them. It feels as though the media venues are trying to make people afraid that if they don't wear a helmet, they will inevitably wind up in a collision. However, I don't think things are nearly that simple, and I think there are other factors that will effect your chances of winding up in a collision a lot more than whether you are wearing a helmet. I think this kind of media and advertising for bicycle helmets only increases the fear people have of riding their bicycles.

One of the primary reasons many people don't ride their bicycles is fear of riding. So, taking all of this into account, I still think that the best way to make the road safe for everyone in an urban setting, is to build infrastructure to accommodate cars, bicycles, pedestrians and to make it clear who is supposed to be where, and to educate people on how best to safely use the road with multiple types of travelers using it. The more people we have riding around, the more pressure there will be for infrastructure and education, therefore things will get safer, therefore more people will ride, and on and on.