News from January 2005

New Year's Ball

Occurred January 01, 2005 (Permalink)

Friday afternoon, I hopped on Caltrain (offsite) on a speculative whim: that I would be well enough to go out with Woodley, Melissa and others for the first New Year's party that I'd been to since 2000. Lucky for me, the quiet train ride provided plenty of rest for the rest of the evening's revelry. Woodley got on at San Antonio, clad in a tuxedo hidden beneath a trenchcoat; his shirt studs read "2000", which was about the last time that he (and I) had been to (ironically, the same) a party: Casablanca at the Stanford Theater (offsite).

Melissa and Dima got on further down the line; we transferred from Caltrain to BART (offsite) at the new Millbrae stop and got to see the SFO extension. Anyhow, we went to 16th street in a futile attempt to get some crepes out of Ti Couz--horrors of horrors, it was CLOSED! I'll now have to find a creperia in Portland to satisfy my hunger. Thus deflated, and standing in the pouring rain, we went to first a Mediterranean food counter across the street and later a Mexican cafe further east on 16th. Luckily, I caught Steven standing outside Ti Couz, so we dragged him along for food.

Having eaten, we bade farewell to Dima and began our trek to the the Friday Night Waltz (offsite) at Berkeley's International House. Steven decided to go home, so it was just the three of us taking public transit to Cal. We got off the train and started the long, cold march up the hill to I-House. When we got there, lessons were underway to teach the basic waltz and some other figures to clueless visitors like myself.

21:00 and the dancing begins! Turns out that the program is posted on the door--for tonight, they're playing not just waltzes, but swing dances, fox trots, two-steps, and more. Unfortunately, I barely know the waltz and don't know the rest. Why doesn't anybody play the Charleston? I can dance THAT. Never mind that it went out of style 75 years ago. Whitton, Alexandra and a gaggle of girls show up, instantly solving my problem of working up the courage to ask someone to dance. Favorite quote of the evening: Alexandra: "I didn't know you waltzed!" Me: "I didn't either!"

So that's how the evening went. Of the fifteen or so dances, I think I went out on the floor some five or six times and attempted a clumsy imitation of good dancing. Part of the problem is that I'm clueless; part of the problem was that I couldn't balance myself because I was sick. Oh well. Woodley and Melissa managed to dance to nearly every dance that the orchestra played. Ironic that I had a hand in getting them to learn to dance, and yet it's me who doesn't dance. However, I had a good time despite my clumsiness.

Towards midnight, the band stopped playing, cups of Martinelli's were passed out, and everyone sang Auld Lang Syne. Alas, I didn't get a New Year's kiss. :( But I did get to dance with Melissa before Woodley observed that it we had a train to catch and had to leave. So we left at 00:20.

Let the drunken revelry begin! Downtown Berkeley was amazingly quiet, and we saw next to nothing as we glided down Bancroft Ave., singing various songs and generally making a fair racket for midnight. Down on the Emeryville pier I noted fireworks going off--quite amazing, because up to then it had been pouring nearly all night. We shuffled onto BART, catching the Red Line Special (they shut down the Millbrae-Richmond line after 19:30) back to the Peninsula.

About two-thirds of the way into the ride, a guy drags his girl onto the train. He's at least somewhat drunk, and she's rather unwilling. Maybe they're both drunk. Anyway, he pushes her up and down the car as we watch. Finally, Melissa decides to get up and sit down next to the girl. Woodley and I are wondering just what's going on, though we did follow Melissa to keep _her_ out of trouble. Much as we don't like to see a guy manhandling his girlfriend, neither of us want to start a physical altercation with the guy, and so this leaves the three of us and the two of them in a rather awkward situation. So the girl decides to take things into her own hands, and jumps off the train into the night at the next station. Woo! Hopefully he didn't seek retribution.

At 1:45, we're sitting in the cold at Millbrae waiting for Caltrain and discussing what just happened. Official stance: W and I would have intervened had the guy started beating that girl, but otherwise neither of us really wanted to go stirring people up. Not sure that sat well with Melissa, though. So of course I interjected that W and I could have taken him. :P Seriously, we could have, as he wasn't as big as either of us. If he didn't have any weapons.

Caltrain arrives. The conductor hops off and announces: "We have a bit of a mess. Get in the middle cars; you don't want to be in the first or last ones." Not a good sign, because these are the new Baby Bullet cars. On the way back down the Peninsula, our trio gets an earful of the Caltrain Baptism by Fire-- what the conductors have seen on the Giants specials, the strange miscreants who get on at night, the lame excuses people try to use to justify not having a ticket, and what the conductors did before Caltrain. One guy used to work at San Quentin! What a night. I got off the train and drove home.

Happy 2005!

Calendar

Occurred January 03, 2005 (Permalink)

Interested viewers can now see my social and work calendars (broken) .

Scottish Square Dancing

Occurred January 08, 2005 (Permalink)

Tonight was the monthly Scottish country dance at Tigard Grange. Unfortunately, the hall was double-booked with the Tigard Tri-Square, a square-dancing group. The organizers decided to split the dances half and half between square dances and Scots. As far as the Scottish dancing went, we danced the usual familiar routines--jigs, reels, chains, strathspeys, do-si-do's, and casts. Some day I shall post some more information about what exactly entails Scottish country dance, but for now I'll only say that it's line dancing various figures in (usually) 32 beat measures. I'm slowly getting better at it. Perhaps a demonstration in a few months.

Until this day, I had never seen square dancing. It was announced that square dancing descends from Scottish country dancing--indeed, the two dancing styles share more than a few steps. Two of the more adventurous square dancing couples joined us for one of the dances; a small amount of confusion later, and they were twirling down the floor like the rest of us. However, one thing really about square dancing really struck me--they dance in couples as couples without intermingling. Also, they know the figures quite well, but the caller is free to invent whatever sequence he wants to make *while* he's calling the dance. How chaotic!

Another note: There are fines if you screw up while dancing a square dance figure. If that was true for our group, I'd be broke. I think I might just stick to SCD for now.

Snow Shoe Strut

Occurred January 09, 2005 (Permalink)

In late December, Lara and I started talking about some kind of hiking/snowshoeing trip for the second weekend in January. After some false starts, cancellations, cancellations of cancellations, and a few rounds phone tag, Dave, Eliza, Lara and I piled into Eliza's car and headed up to Mirror Lake near Mt. Hood for an afternoon of snowshoeing. We'd originally wanted a longer trip, but the short trip was beneficial for those who have now seen snow all of twice in our lives.

Eliza drove east on 26 to G.I. Joe's in Gresham, where the other three of us rented snow shoes. Then, the car drove us up to the Mirror Lake trailhead and pulled off. Lots of nasty brown slushy snow here. The four of us got out, hurriedly strapped on the snow equipment before our hands froze, and set out on the hike. From that vantage point, I snapped a few shots of the half-frozen road and icicles hanging off the rocks on the other side of the road (a1090006, 63). The pictures in (a1090010 - 28) were all taken on our way up to Mirror Lake. This was not a particularly difficult trail--3.2 miles round trip with an elevation gain from 3400 to 4100 feet. The snow up on the mountains was quite fluffy and light--not heavy and not watery, so I took pictures of the snow-covered trees and shrubbery.

When we arrived at the lake, I stood on what I thought was the shore and took four adjoining photos of the lake; see (aanorama.jpg) for my crude stitching job. Mt. Hood would have been about where the third and rightmost picture joined. As I stood there taking photos, it began to snow! (a1090033 - 37) were my lame attempts to take pictures of snow while it was snowing. Dave suggested using the flash to capture the individual bits of falling snow, but I couldn't figure out how to force the flash on. Too many buttons. :P

Next was wandering on the lake. The surface of the lake looked pretty white and solid, so I decided to squirm out on the lake and hope I didn't fall into it. I tromped down an embankment and dug a hole. Dirt. I hopped out a few more feet and dug another hole. Rocks. I boldly strode out a bit further. Mostly solid ice and dirt underneath. Thus relieved, I went back to the now frozen beach and signalled the others that it was safe to come out. The three of them shuffled off the trail and into the snow we went, tromping around atop the shore and parts of the lake. At some point I dug another hole and announced that we were on ice, so we scampered off...and I promptly fell into a hole. Fortunately, the hole was because I stepped on a plant that had been covered by soft snow. If someone falls and there's no camera to record it, did it happen?

Dave got to lead next. We stomped around in a big field of snow for quite a while--only heard cracking ice once! At some point he fell into a snow drift and everyone laughed; Lara fell into another one and Dave took pictures. Quite a different experience to be hiking off the trail--on the trail, the snow has been stomped down and compacted by people's snoeshows; off the trail, no compression takes place, and so one can step on something that looks solid and go for a three-foot plunge. Exciting! And only mildly hazardous.

Eliza decided that she wasn't having any of this "falling into snow and getting laughed at" nonsense, so she wandered back towards the trail and bade us to follow. We went around the lake on the loop road and started our descent back to the cars. We all saw and photographed the same strangely shaped tree: (a1090038). Along the way, Dave began to slap trees to shower snow on Eliza; Eliza picked up a large stick and began knocking snow off the trees and onto whomever was behind her (a1090043 - 45), and I began throwing snowballs at people. Quite a feat for me, because at that point I'd thrown four snowballs in my life--all of which missed the intended target (Steph). However, the abundance of dry, warm, fluffy snow made it quite easy for me to regroup and form more wads. Having gloves that are lined with leather pads makes it really easy to make snowballs without freezing my hands. Kudos to the REI guy who found those gloves for me.

Thus far, I've figured out a strategy--scoop up a large quantity of snow, pack it in my hands, then breath on it to melt and re-freeze the outer layer. Next comes the windup, the pitch, and hopefully a hit! Karen, an East-coast acquaintence of mine, also said to aim only for the torso--no head shots and nothing below the belt. I can see why targeting the crotch would be bad, but legs should be fair game...

...and thus today's adventure ends. The snowing had stopped, so I hauled out the camera and took pictures of the snow-covered trees. I am quite amazed by the enhancements in contrast that the snow provides--unlike in the summertime, I was able to distinguish all sorts of interesting patters in the tree branches: gnarled branches, spiders, snowflakes and randomnidity (a1090046 - 50). I also stopped for the usual pretty overlooks: (a1090051 - 54, 57 - 61) and a self-photograph (a1090055 - 56). We pulled off our snowy clothes, crammed into the car and went back to Portland, where it wasn't snowing, contrary to the weather reports.

Dinner

Occurred January 14, 2005 (Permalink)

Wednesday night I had sushi at Bush Gardens on SW 9th and Morrison.

Friday night I made a pot of Caesar salad and took off eastward to Dave's apartment on the East side. 26 east had been awful at lunchtime, so I feared that it would take me forever to get the ~250 blocks I had to go. Not to fear; turns out that it was just a huge crowd of people trying to get out of town before the ice storm hit (more on this later). The freeway was deserted! As a result, I got there ridiculously quickly--35 minutes at the height of rush hour.

When I got to Dave's, I saw that he had nearly all the ingredients to make pork meatloaf--bacon strips, some strange looking sauce and ground pork. Smelled delicious, but he hadn't put the ingredients together to bake because he thought a clove of garlic was the entire bulb, not the individual cell, but at least had the good sense to ask Lara before putting it in. (Sorry, Dave ;)) The two of us chatted while waiting for the womenfolk to show up, at which time I went out for a dozen eggs and they started in on the meatloaf. I braved four blocks of freezing wind (the giant thermometer at SE 39th and Hawthorne said 0C when I drove by) to buy eggs off a Korean couple who couldn't believe that _anybody_ would be insane enough to venture out on foot.

Eliza and her boyfriend CJ showed up shortly thereafter with potatoes. Dinner wouldn't be ready for an hour, so we decided to play a drinking game--one rolls dice with card parts printed on them and tries to get at least three of a kind, two in the case of aces. Points are given for every roll over quota, and (obviously) the highest scorer wins. I won, Lara lost, so she ended up drinking a shot glass' worth of worm booze in a jam jar. :)

After that, we sat around chatting merrily until the food was ready. Dave's pig meatloaf was amazingly tasty, and probably shortened my life span by a day or two. But it was worth it! All that bacon....mm...<drool>

...getting back to the story, we showed Monty Python and the Holy Grail to Lara, who had never seen it before. Eliza brought the two-disc DVD set from their video store. We saw the extra features, namely the "Knights of the Round Table" done with Legos, and Terry Gilliam revisiting the castle and buying their own script! At about 1:45 we decided that we were bored, so we called off the DVD and went home. Well, they did. I stuck around and copied Dave's photos. Then I got in my car and drove towards the freeway...just in time to encounter the first of the freezing rain. A lot of solid icy looking blobs began to whack the front of my car and freeze to it! The ice storm had begun! I headed westward as quickly as I could and went home, swearing never to go driving in an ice storm again.

Carsicles

Occurred January 16, 2005 (Permalink)

As mentioned in the previous story, wind from the east mixing with Alaskan storms produce ice storms and freezing rain all over the city. Imagine it-- rain that falls to near the ground then freezes into icicles! It forms a thick hard sheath of ice that covers everything: the cars, the mailboxes, the gutters, the ground and the sidewalks. Now I know where black ice comes from. There are pictures of car popsicles posted!

Amazingly, the MAX was still running. I took it (slowly) to downtown, got out and wandered around. The city had turned from gray to white and the place was deserted. It was wonderful to walk around in the silent city, watching the snow and ice fall on the ground, and exhilarating to revel in the solitude. For about ten minutes. Then I got back on the MAX and went back to my toasty apartment. Snow days suck when you can't go see your friends.

Belly Dancers

Occurred January 19, 2005 (Permalink)

Wednesday I went to a belly dancing show at the Aladdin theater, and was fairly impressed with what I saw. The women at this particular show were quite attractive--they appeared to be in their late 20s or early 30s, and were very buff. I imagine one would have to be in pretty good shape to be capable of vibrating one's midriff in rapid fashion. In any case, these women demonstrated amazing flexibility during their performance: S-curves along many axes were quite common.

The costumes that the dancers wore were generally quite bright and colorful autumn colors: vibrant reds, luminous yellows and spectacular hues. Oftentimes the dress would match the images that were being projected onto a screen behind the dancer. The visual aspects of the show were very well integrated with the msuic as well--much of the music had a rapid, percussive quality that was reflected in the hotter colors that wound up on the screen, and the softer tunes were frequently accompanied with cooler hues.

One of the more spectaular dancers in the group was a young woman named Sonia. She appeared to possess a rather exquisite skill in undulating to the music as well as using her props to full visual effect. For one dance, she brought out two gauzy light-red scarves and proceeded to twirl them in a fashion reminiscent of Chinese twirlers--circular motions up, around, down and back in a bowtie across the chest. At one point in the performance, she managed to set down one scarf, dance with just the other scarf, and then deftly pick up the dropped one without as much as a skip in her rhythm. Amazing for a tall woman!

The dance troupe also featured a percussionist with a simple hand-drum. He would tap out a rhythm on the drum and the dancer would emulate the sound with her body--sometimes a simple tap, other times a whole-body movement. Once in a while a particuar rattle on the drum would be followed by intense stomach vibrations on the part of the dancer. There were a few ensemble routines where most of the dance company would come out on stage and do some line dancing. But for the most part, I felt that the individual dances did a far better job of showing off each performer's personal talents--some were better at wiggling their body; others had perfected the art of the belly vibratto.

The audience surprised me as well--there were a lot of women! Apparently, there are more than a few local belly dancing groups that are based in Portland, and three entire companies had turned out this evening to see the group. There was a formal dancing group, a tribal belly dance group (the tribal movement, oddly enough, was started by one of the night's performers) and an "other" group, who didn't seem to fit neatly into either of those two categories. I'd have expected a lot more men, but the attendeees were largely female. All in all, a good time.

IEEE Wireless Seminar at OGI and Ultra10 Disassembly

Occurred January 20, 2005 (Permalink)

At the very beginning of the day (around midnight after I got back from Belly Dancing) I pulled out my old Ultra10 and decided to fix all the hardware problems once and for all. The machine had a weird problem where it would crash Solaris with complaints about E$ checksum failures. Originally I thought that my machine might be a victim of the UltraSparc-II E$ problem, but this is a IIi and thus not part of the official hit list. The CPU is 120x3 = 360MHz; a 120MHz FSB is quite fast for a vintage 1998 machine. Anyhow, when I discovered this problem two years ago, I swapped in a 90x4 = 360MHz CPU from an Ultra5. This arrangement mostly worked, except if the case was open, in which case the machine refused to boot. Unhappy with that, I tore apart the machine in a last-ditch attempt to get it running again. Turns out it was the RAM. I swapped a bunch of funny DIMMs for the four 50ns DIMMs in the Ultra5 and the system has been fine since then. Knock on wood.

That evening, I attended an IEEE seminar about the allocation of the radio spectrum given by Dr. Paul Kolodzy at OGI. He spoke of the the fact that while we may be running out of radio frequencies, most of those frequencies aren't in use 100% of the time, thus opening the window to what amounts to radio packet switching--the wireless devices themselves will take themselves off the air while not in use, thus allowing other devices to share the same frequency, thus increasing the band's usage patterns. Through this innovation, he argued, we can spread wireless technologies everywhere without encountering massive contention problems. Quite an interesting talk about a geeky subject. I wonder what sort of devices the future holds.

Also went to the MiPL mingler afterwards.

Party at Dave's House

Occurred January 22, 2005 (Permalink)

Dave, one member of my hiking troupe, moved into a new apartment today. His roommates planned a largish party and told him to invite us over, so over I went to the east side, to see a friend and also to have my first look at the insides of an old Portland house. The party was pretty much a standard run-of-the-mill party: a big boom box, someone grilling chicken on the porch, people wandering around and chatting everywhere, DVDs playing in the background and a keg in the basement. Lara and Rick showed up, though the four of us were vastly outnumbered by the hoards of friends of Dave's roommates. They all seemed to know each other (and seemed to maintain a bit of a clique for the evening), though I did introduce myself to a least a half-dozen of the guests. But mostly the four of us sat around having our own weird little discussion about logic. Perhaps people are a bit less outgoing than I'd originally thought. The few that I talked to urged me to move away from Beaverton!

I believe the house was built some time in the mid 1940s to the early 1950s. The decorations on the windows and the doors and between rooms, for example, aren't especially fancy, though they do feature better styling than what one sees in houses from the 1960s onward. It was quite plain that the place has been remodeled several times--not all the floor joists in the basement go all the way in certain parts, which leads me to think that the staircase has been moved at some point in the past. Looking at the exterior, though, I don't think there were any major additions to the house.

So as I mentioned, the house has been remodeled. The kitchen looks as if it's from the 60s or the 70s, the wiring conduit is new (no knob-and-tube here!) and the outlets, though sparse at one per room, do have three prongs in them. There were also tons of pipes and miscellaneous wiring jackets scattered all over the place in the basement, which is further proof that at least _some_ of the houses in SE Portland have been brought up through the ages to support a few modern features. This will all get factored into the process of relocating out of this annoying apartment when its lease expires. But for now, I like the area and most of the people well enough to consider the 30s-50s in the Laurelhurst/Sunnyside districts. Let's hope I can afford to live there.

Portland Art Museum, Powell's, Crystal Ballroom

Occurred January 23, 2005 (Permalink)

Despite leaving the party at Dave's house pretty late in the night (~2:30), I kicked myself out of bed midday Sunday and went downtown to a tour of the Portland Art Museum that was being put on by a friend of mine. There were two main exhibits at the museum that I saw on the tour--one of Childe Hassam, an American impressionist painter who painted dozens of landscapes of the wild west, including Oregon. His style differs from the French impressionists mainly because he tended to paint scenes of nature that were totally lacking in people, and his style was distinctly masculine (he painted while hunting, fishing or shooting his gun in the Oregon desert) because of his sneaking in the occasional moderately-hard line into what should otherwise be a fairly soft-looking painting. Many of the canvasses that the museum had on display were evocative recreations of rolling plains of flowers with high clouds in the sky and mountains in the far distance--the plains in the picture reminded me of the fields I walked through as a boy, and the distant blue mountains dredged up memories of roaring through the Central Valley on Interstate 5, gazing at the Sierras which were a good 70 miles away. Ah, to be in (some parts of) California (with the people I love) again!

The art gallery's main exhibit, however, was an enormous display of artwork produced by native Oregonian Indian tribes. There were many different kinds of art on display--slender cylindrical figurines, identification posts that became driftwood in the Columbia River, woven baskets for carrying food, liquids, kids, and other goods, handbags with and without beads, soup ladles, bowls, and tapestries. The tour guide (an emigree from Wales) pointed out that her favorite piece was one of the larger cylindrical statues, and I noticed more than a few protruding pipe-like pieces that might explain her fondness...

...however, she was quite able to describe the various features and identifying aspects of the pieces she was showing us. Indian art before European contact was quite distinct--they were big on the triple-motif of the human (themselves), the animal (food) and the bird. The bowls were equally cool, not in the least because several of them were obviously for decoration only-- they leaned on their sides, and it seemed impossible that they could remain at such an angle and still contain liquid. As the Indian tribes intermixed with other tribes and Europeans, it soon became apparent that the artisans were mixing their own styles with the new ones that they were experiencing. Beads, for example, which simply didn't exist in Oregon until the late 1800s, suddenly became an integral part of the Indian handbags! As contact increased, the copying of cultures became even more apparently, particularly by the end of the exhibit--there stood a bag with a TV celebrity lounging on a chair!

Downstairs there was a gallery of etchings of bulbous looking nudes. No idea who the artist was, though it was the last day of th exhibit. Ironic, because I showed up for the last day of the _previous_ exhibit down there...

Next on the agenda was dinner while I waited for a book reading to start at Powell's. I went to a Greek restaurant at SW Washington and 3rd and had a rather unimpressive beef-and-noodle stroganoff. But the point was to eat, read the Willamette Weekly and a pictorial history of Portland and waste time, so I guess I can't complain too strenuously. The featured author at the World of Books was Simon Singh, apparently an Indian guy who has a PhD in Physics yet writes books that try to explain various scientific theories to the general public. The book he was reading from, Big Bang: The Origins of the Universe dealt with the history and the attempts to validate the truth (or at least the plausibility of) the Big Bang theory. He had some wonderful audio/visual displays to feed to the rapt readers, including a demonstration of the powers of suggestion--he played part of Stairway to Heaven backwards, first by itself and then again with words, the object of which was to hear phrases about Satan. This, he said, was the biggest danger of scientific data collection and the reason why all the theories that deal with prehistory are so hard to demonstrate--there's been billions of years of entropy.

Following Powell's, I wandered off to the 91st Birthday Part at the Crystal Ballroom downtown. The Crystal Ballroom is a dance house that sits above McMenamin's Ringlers pub on W Burnside just east of 405. I only stayed for this one awesome jazz band--they had a vocalist, a guitar, a man on a tenor sax, drums, keyboard and a trumpet. The music was quite flowing and easy to dance to, and the kick of the whole thing is that this band apparently refuses to sign with big promoters, preferring instead to spread by local gigs and word of mouth. I did my own weird little wiggle dance to four of the songs, until I decided that I was going deaf, so I ran off and took the MAX home.

Korean Dinner

Occurred January 25, 2005 (Permalink)

Tuesday night's adventure was dinner at a Korean restaurant in downtown Beaverton with the MiPL crew. I had a bit of a time finding the place, as it turns out that there are two different Korean restaurants right next to each other on SW 1st street! Astoundingly, that entire little area is home to a bunch of Asian restaurants--Tera Thai, two Korean places, a bar, and several other buildings with vaguely Korean writing on them.

We had quite a bit of mixed food--the menu wasn't strictly Korean, because the proprietor is Chinese, and thus mixed dishes from both cultures on the menu. Wonderful that the other people found the food exotic, though I didn't think it was particularly new. Then again, growing up near San Francisco, it's quite easy to find all sorts of weird things that can become food in the street-side marketplaces of SF and Oakland. This is something that Portland does NOT have. Regrettable.

The dishes were...mackerel, squid with vegetables, snail salad, jellyfish, some kind of vegetable doused in vinegar, hot lettuce, and a couple of other dishes that I can't remember anymore. I vaguely remember that there were two lively conversations going--one about MiPL itself and one at my table about where everyone had gone in their lives. Seems that Seth, the host, had served in the Navy in Japan, and most of the rest of the men (myself included) had gone all over the world at some point. Alas, I was (and still am) rather exhausted from being out nearly every night last week.

Cinema Paradiso

Occurred January 28, 2005 (Permalink)

Friday night's activity was going over to a MiPLer's house to see Cinema Paradiso, a movie that was mourning the death of the old-style movie house. The story follows the (flashback) story of a man who has come home to mourn the passing of an old friend who ran the movie house in the town in which he grew up. The movie itself was quite quirky, with many moments of understated mirth and humor--at one point, the protagonist is trying to teach his friend that 5 x 5 = 25 by showing him a picture of "25"--Christmas. Unfortunately, his friend memorizes it as 5 x 5 = Christmas! In any case, the cinematography of the movie was quite beautiful--there were several wide shots of the inside of the theatre, the square outside, and the village idiot. I enjoyed the movie quite a bit.

Wine and Poetry

Occurred January 29, 2005 (Permalink)

Saturday was quite relaxing--after struggling to get out of bed before 1pm, I cruised up 185th to a Bubble Tea (Boba) house to meet some friends. I'm delighted that I can get that sugary milk tea with the tapioca balls in the bottom! Mr. Sam Alter (offsite) introduced me to Boba Tea way back when I was an undergrad at UCSD.

Later that evening, I ventured off to North Portland to attend a MiPL poetry reading. There we were, a room of 15 of us sitting around sharing poems while drinking wine. People seemed most impressed by my book of unusual Chinese poetry and Adrian's poetry, most of which he's written while performing social work and the like. Cassy brought a bunch of rather sarcastic ones written by a British poet. A few of us went to play pool in a smoky place called Sam's Billiards at NE 41st and Sandy. I sucked.

Carson Hot Springs

Occurred January 30, 2005 (Permalink)

Far to the east of Portland there exists a place called Carson Hot Springs. It's on the Washington side of Columbia Gorge, just past the Cascade Locks and before Hood River. For $12 you get all the time you want in a hot bath, a nice warm wrap on a bed, and pretty much the run of the place. This is what I did this Sunday afternoon.

We met at the starbucks on NE 28th and Burnside, piled into two cars and headed out to the Gorge. Along the way I saw plenty of wonderful sights along the river, like the Bonneville dam, the old Cascade locks, trout ladders, funny gas stations with self-serve, and (unfortunately) clear-cut ex-forests. One half hour down the freeway, and there we were--a big mud pit in the ground and two shiny new buildings with cabins in them. Apparently some Korean guy bought the place and is now sinking tons of money into refurbishing the place to add quite a lot of modern conveniences. Seth

So you go into the bath house and the first thing you see is this guy who looks like either an aging hippie or a 1970s baseball player thirty years later. In any case, you strip off your clothes, set them next to one of the beds, and wander into a room full of bathtubs. Pick a tub, and turn on the hot water; shortly thereafter the tub fills with wonderfully warm (and sulfur-rich) water. I soaked in the warm water for quite a while before deciding that my muscles were having too good of a time--a perfect opportunity to find out what "hydrotherapy" feels like.

WOW! Hydrotherapy, in this case, was jumping out of the warm water and into a tub full of 40F water. Shockingly cold and quite numbifying. I'm told that if one eases into the tub very slowly, one can spend quite a lot of time in the ultracold water without feeling it. I, on the other hand, lacked the patience, jumped in, and felt my extremities going numb after a whole thirty seconds. That prompted me to get out, stumble back over to my warm tub and dethaw for several more minutes. Repeat the hot-cold cycle several times, until it gets too humid for my taste. Thus it was time for the wrap.

The wrap is exactly what it sounds like--you hop out of the tub and lie on a bed. The attendant comes around with some hot moist towels and wraps you in them like a catacomb. Literally. Gazing around the room, it looked like some spiderous creature had come and spun a huge web around each of the men! Anyway, this is the easy and relaxing part--one just lies there letting the warm moisture soak into the skin and hopefully all the toxins and other crud leach into the sheets. Some stayed awake; I snoozed, though it was awfully hard to do that because "warm and naked underneath three layers of towels" isn't a normal sleep situation for me.

Some time later, I emerged from the wrap, showered, and sat around in the lounge waiting for my cohorts to emerge from their various hiding places. As you might've guessed, this whole trip was a MiPL event, organized by a photographer/ student named Seth. There were a few gentlemen around and a few ladies; after they all came out, the (other) west-siders went home and I headed off with the east-siders. We stopped in Stevenson, WA for dinner at a Mexican place; the portions were a tad small but the flavor wasn't bad at all. After that I went home.

San Diego: Beach

Occurred January 31, 2005 (Permalink)

Enjoy this picture of sunset on the beach outside Scripps Institute at UCSD. Sunset

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