News from March 2005

Domicile Pictures ... now at UCLA?

Occurred March 02, 2005 (Permalink)

One of my pictures (P7310029) in the Mt. Hood Hike pictures made it onto Steph's page (offsite) at UCLA. Hooray, some outside endorsement of my photography methods! :P Also saw The Incredibles yesterday with Bonnie.

Greek Dinner and Dancing at Greek Cuisina

Occurred March 04, 2005 (Permalink)

After work I hopped on the train and went downtown. The trip was fraught with strangeness--first a bum who was being interrogated by the TriMet police but wouldn't give them the same name twice; eventually they got irritated and hauled him off the train in Beaverton. Later, the train operator yelled at a guy who tried to drag a huge metal plate onto the train; I wondered if that metal plate was serving as the man's bed. He got off the train and cursed the operator, all the while looking like a buffoon.

That said, I arrived slightly late for Jennifer's Greek dinner night. I'd actually been to this particular restaurant several times before; the food at Greek Cuisina (the one at SW 4th and Washington) was good enough to make me come back, apparently. We ordered appetizers: the standard pita bread with olive oil, fried calamari, and cheese flambe that tasted really good! Reminds me of the fried mozzarella sticks that the Rathskellar used to serve in the Muir quad at school. Probably just as (un)healthy.

That night I had a craving for seafood, so I ordered the Fisherman's Platter. This is a fairly sizable bowl of spicy red rice, flounder, fried oysters, clams, scallops, prawns and mussels. It was quite tasty and unfortunately I'd filled up on appetizers and couldn't even finish half the entree! However, it was tasty seafood that I'd probably have again. Though now I have a craving for baked salmon steaks.

Midway through dinner, a middle-aged Greek gentleman comes out on stage and begins to strum a mandolin-looking instrument. He plays, oddly enough, several distinctly American tunes in a Greek fashion, adding the occasional vibratto. To my ear, that sounded a tad bit off. Eventually a young woman comes out and they begin to make what sounds like actual Greek music, and I relax. Some of the pieces they played were distinctly Greek songs that I'd heard before on a radio, but certainly not live on a mandolin. She coddles various people onto the dance floors from the tables, and the silly lot of us start into some serious groove shaking until the hostess stops us and shows us a 1-2-3-kick-kick step. Then we go around the dining room trying to maintain that while running all over the place. A drinking contest starts up; our glorious group leader wins the night.

Finally, the dish breaking. According to the Greek gentleman, members of their culture break dishes on the floor at parties and dinners to celebrate the richness and diversity of life. In the back corner of the room there's a bachelorette party in progress, and the hosts take special pains to embarass as many of their troup as humanly possible. A sizable number of their party, our gathering, and a couple celebrating an anniversary decide to wander up and destroy some American plateware! Quite a mess of dish shards, as those plates are actually quite thick and not pre-scored. Next, several of the men from the MiPL group are paired with the ladies from the bachelorette party and everyone dances around the room, me included. Apparently at least a few of the womenfolk in this group think I have actual dancing skills. Outside of Scottish dancing, I find that ... surprising, to say the least.

Some of us tried to get into the March Forth CD release party across the river but were scared off by a gigantic line. Shucks.

Portland Urban Iditarod 2005

Occurred March 05, 2005 (Permalink)

Today was the fourth annual running of the Portland Urban Iditarod (offsite). Unlike the rough-and-tough version run by our hard-core neighbors in Alaska, this one involves tethering four humans to a decorated shopping cart and as much shaving cream, beer, and silly string as possible. Sort of similar to the yearly running of the Muir 40 at UCSD, but this one doesn't involve disgusting bags of rotten food. Guess I'm not in college any more...

Some time around 11am I landed at the Eastbank Esplanade and headed over to a large group of people that were gathering in a street with brighly colored decorations. Of the twelve or so groups that were there, an astounding four were from MiPL! Captain Ed and his entourage brought a giant tiki house (a3050065), another bunch showed up in togas (a3050066), a third went with a "Tux and Tails" theme (a3050071) and the fourth group were French maids. Didn't get a shot of Stu in fishnet stockings, though. Nicely decked out in costumes they were, with shopping carts loaded to the gills with decorations and ammo for what came next.

While yours truly wandered around an empty lot taking pictures of the big ugly freeway snaking its way through the east bank of the river, the carts lined up along SE Madison, waiting for the starter whistle (a3050068, 74, 75). A few minutes after 11:30 the whistle blew and they were off! (a3050073 - 78) Up the hill they roared, with this photographer charging after them at walking speed. I very nearly caught up with them too, as I snaked my way through the area, stalked a tall grey building with fascinating art deco styling at the top, and ultimately decided to join the "Cheers and Beers" group because they had automobiles. Not gonna race a bunch of crazy drunks running through the city with shopping carts. The first stop was at The Grand, about three quarters of a mile from the starting line.

Through the city we raced, hoping to head them off at the the third stop at the Rogue Brew Pub and Eatery in the Pearl district (a3050083-84). The second stop, which was to be at Old Town Pizza, apparently was a rather short one because no sooner had we sat down at the Rogue than they came bursting in the door, covered with water, various creams and a heap of sweat. They had quite an impact on the Rogue--one moment it was a quiet and peaceful Saturday lunch, the next it was crammed full of sweaty people in strange costumes swilling whatever beverages were set out in front of them. With a loud whoop, they all took off.

Fourth on the list of stops was the Yamhill Pub. I didn't see what happened there, but I did see the aftermath--a strange sort of semi-circle of shaving cream spread and stamped all around the entrance and a big "GO MIPL" sign adorning the entrance several hours later. We lazy folks went directly from the third to the fifth stop at Capt. Ankeny's Pub. There I encountered Seth, who proposed that he grab some beer and a camera and ride along with the racers while offering them bottles and snapping shots. Unfortunate that he didn't get to make good on that suggestion.

The last leg of the race was a straight shot down Tom McCall waterfront to the Hawthorne Bridge. Set against a backdrop of cars roaring by overhead, I watched as the various groups engaged in one final battle of balloon tossing, shaving cream spraying, bread chucking goodness. Quite a brawl and quite a mess they created, but I was amused to watch that large a crowd of people going at each other with such vigor!

Oh, and I forgot who won the race. :P A MiPL team placed second, though! After the group disbanded, I explored the Multnomah County Library and took a look at several maps of the East Side. Turns out that the East Bank Fault runs smack through the middle of the Hawthorne district, though the earthquake studies that I saw didn't seem to indicate that the East Bank was capable of causing too much damage. Weird.

Mastercard Ad in the UK

Occurred March 06, 2005 (Permalink)

Small car to sing in: Several thousand pounds.

Big stereo system for small car: A thousand pounds.

Thinking that nobody can hear you when you sing in the car: priceless.

Climbing Zig Zag Mountain

Occurred March 06, 2005 (Permalink)

8:30am: Chip (a visiting engineer from IBM Raleigh) calls, wondering where I am. He must be eager, since I told him I'd get him from his hotel at 9. 9:28am: Chip and I arrive at Dave's house. Dave is so amazed that I beat Eliza to his house _and_ showed up early for once that he forgets himself and makes us late. The four of us grab Lara and we set out eastward on Powell Blvd in the general direction of Mt. Hood. After a stop for donuts, coffee and energy drinks, we strike out on a nasty bumpy paved Road 207 which is supposed to take us to the loop trail around East Zig Zag Mountain. Update: I posted Chip's Photos. Update: I stitched together a panorama taken from the summit of Zig Zag Mountain. Update: More of Chip's photos (of West Zig Zag) are posted with the rest of his photos.

We popped out of Dave's reliable old clunker truck and began up the trail (a3060001 - 5). The plan for today was to trek along an 8 mile loop around East Zig Zag Mountain. We initially encountered small patches of snow on the ground but figured that since Chip had reported little snow on West Zig Zag the day before, we wouldn't encounter much more snow than that. Wow, were we ever wrong about that! Unlike its brother to the west, East Zig Zag faces Mt. Hood, which means that the windflow is cold enough to freeze the snow so that it has a semi-thick ice layer on top. Great for making fast-freeze snowballs, which I'll discuss later.

On the way up, we passed an "X" made by trees (a3060005), which reminded me of the climax of the Disney production of "Around the World in 80 Days" that was done in Southern California in the 1960s. The parking lot was at about 3,300 feet altitude, and we climbed straight up to 4,500 feet through a series of switchbacks that led through densely populated forests. I have plenty of tree pictures, so I didn't bother to take anything until we reached the snow (a3060006-7). From there, we stomped around in the snow for some time, all the while hoping that we were still at least somewhat close to the official loop trail. All we had to go on was a set of boot prints in the snow, and a vague hope that the person who preceded us had good sense not to walk off a cliff or something.

The regular reader of my postings undoubtedly now expects from my tone that something dreadful is about to happen. It did: Three forks in the boot prints. One lead to a suspicious yellow spot. The second seemed to go straight up the mountain, and the third went westward. We chose the prints that went straight up and seemed to be aimed towards the summit of the mountain. Virtually all of the pictures in the set (a3060008 - 26) were taken on this part of the hike, when we were struggling to climb up a steep mountain covered with fresh snow of a fairly uncertain depth. Along the way, I managed to snap quite a few pictures of the mountains of the Cascade range--Hood, Jefferson, Adams, Rainier and St. Helens.

The next batch of photos (a3060027 - 28) were almost exclusively taken at the lower top of East Zig Zag. From the trail, the path up to the top is pretty much a straight plane rising up at a sixty degree angle. This made travel quite steep and very precarious--I had problems scaling this part of the mountain and on the descent we spent much time slipping and sliding downwards, trying not to succumb to the same fate as Sonny Bono. Anyhow, I digress--there are actually two peaks on this particular mountain. The shorter of the two is also the easternmost, and it faces Mt. Hood and has a lot of trees all over the place. I estimate this particular summit to be at approximately 5,000 feet, though the GPS-enabled in our group (Dave? Chip?) may disagree. The view of Mt. Hood and the valley to the north of the Zig Zag range were quite easy to see and photograph from this angle, but we noticed that there was also a path leading up to another local maximum, and away from the trees that prevented me from getting too many quality photographs.

Dave and I struck out to attain the higher of the two peaks, on the grounds that it made us more manly to say that we actually got all the way to the top. My estimate is that this summit peaked at about 5,050 feet. Fortunately, upon arriving at the top, we discovered a far better justification: the top of this mountain was a big meadow, which showed to us a fabulous panorama covering nearly 270 degrees of rotation from southwest around Mt. Hood to northwest. (a3060029 - 52) were taken from this higher elevation; the raw images of the panorama are (a3060029 - 35). From the top I could also see Cast Lake, which appeared to be covered with a giant blob of snow. I'm not sure if the snow is sitting atop an ice shelf, but the snowy lake looked awfully strange surrounded by a forest of snow-less trees! (a3060040, 41, 45, 49 and 50). I managed to take some high-magnification shots of the various mountains on the Washington horizon; Adams and St. Helens in particular ruled the day.

As I mentioned previously, we roared up a steep snow covered mountain and were now forced to slide down it without killing ourselves. I'm pleased to report that all five of us were completely successful in that effort, and I even have pictures of the miniature avalanches caused by the snow that fell off our boots: (a3060054 - 55). The snow was sufficiently congealed by ice that we weren't concered about starting a major slide. Considering that we left a swath of destruction in our wake (a3060056 - 58), that was a good thing. Furthermore, the easy-freeze snow meant a second thing: I could make good snowballs really quickly! The ice would refreeze in my bare hands, which meant that I could exchange fire quickly and without losing large amounts of heat. This time, I tossed several snowballs around as practice, took aim at Eliza, fired, and ... watched the snowball drop neatly into the back pocket of her backpack! She grunted annoyedly, so I concentrated fire on Dave.

We came off the mountain quite rapidly, piled into Dave's truck, and went home. Apparently three of them (Dave, Lara and Eliza) went to Trivia Night; I took Chip home, wimped out on them three, and wrote this article and posted pictures extra quickly as penance.

Million Dollar Baby

Occurred March 11, 2005 (Permalink)

Saw Million Dollar Baby with a friend tonight. I found it to be a very, very sad movie--watching Hilary Swank's character overcome all expectations, only to be felled as a consequence of a moment's distraction and then to decompose the way she did...really that was very depressing. Neither my friend nor I said much on the drive home from the theater. Never thought that I could experience such sorrow for a movie character...

Scottish Country Dance Workshop and Ball

Occurred March 12, 2005 (Permalink)

Saturday was the annual workshop and ball of the Portland chapter of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society! Apparently, this is quite large of an event-- the workshop attracted dancers from Bend (OR), various places in Idaho, and even one lady from Vancouver, BC. Registration began at 9:30 in the morning, after which the group split up into beginners like myself and the more advanced people. I spent the day on a rather tiring regimen of improving my technique, footwork, steps, and phrasing of various figures. Just recently I've gotten a handle on performing the pas de basque (offsite) step in place; at this workshop, I begun to figure out how to do this while hopping about on the floor. Eventually I might even be graceful at it. :P

Scottish dancing is quite a workout! Good dancers make it look easy; beginners know that it requires quite a lot of concentration and, more importantly, the ability to move sprightly and accelerate quickly, and the support of the other couples in the dance set. Going through a dance several times oftentimes requires several minutes of jumping about and anticipation of movements; a few hours of this sort of exercise proved to be surprisingly draining. Fortunately, the classes ended at 16:00, giving me a few hours to roam about the neighborhood, buy a floppy felt shamrock hat, and just relax. I went out to a Chinese restaurant at NE 58th and Sandy with a gaggle of ladies from the Bend, OR group.

Seven-thirty came about, and a large crowd began to assemble. They looked quite snappy in their tuxedo tops, kilts, and stockings; I looked a tad bit underdressed in a kilt and a polo shirt. Should have remembered to bring something a bit formal, but I was lame and forgot. Portland being Portland, however, that didn't matter. To top it all, I donned the decidedly Irish hat that I'd bought earlier in the day! Actually, the hat was a pretty good starting point for conversation, as it turned out. I had no problems getting someone to dance with me, and easily managed to get out on the floor for every single beginner dance and even a few of the advanced ones!

So the ball ends, and everyone retires to the house of one of the dancers in the group for an after-party. She (and her husband) live in this big lovely old house in the northeast quarter of Portland. Hors d'oeuvers are served, drinks are passed around, and everyone settles in to chatter and talk into the wee hours of the morning. Everyone except me, that is--I'm so exhausted that I fall into a half-asleep state and stay that way for several hours. Somewhere around 2am I collect enough energy to drive myself home safely, and call it a night. Wow, I had a blast!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Occurred March 17, 2005 (Permalink)

Quickies: Went out to a pub on the East side and spent the evening drinking and chatting with the Portland Linux group...Rode the MAX out to the 42nd Ave. stop during rush hour for the first time...wore the big floppy shamrock hat to work and pretended to be a leprechaun...the hunt for a new place to live this summer is on...friendship priorities are shifting. Sorry to anyone whom that last bit offends.

Pork Chops

Occurred March 18, 2005 (Permalink)

The Friday Night Supper Club met at Lucy's Table (offsite) in NW Portland tonight. I had pork chops, which, while tasty (and pricy), didn't quite have enough flavor to match mom's pork chops. However, their version of the pork chops were juicier. I met my boss while riding home on the MAX. Spooky.

Weekend Trip: Beach Cleanup

Occurred March 19, 2005 (Permalink)

Saturday was Oregon's Spring Beach Cleanup day--apparently this has been an Oregonian tradition since 1984. Seth and others organized a weekend-long trip out to Pacific City (offsite) (a beach town) for us to help out and then play on the newly cleaned beach afterwards. Unfortunately, I continue my 3 visit losing streak weatherwise, as the entire weekend was cold, rainy and windy. Fortunately, the high winds contributed a lot to the fun that we had later.

So we meet at 8:55am at Sunset TC in the pouring rain and start driving west to the coast. The weather's quite bad and I eventually fall so far behind that I lose the group. This wasn't a big problem, as I knew that the plan was to go to Tillamook, and drive south on 101 to Pacific City. Easy enough, I think--I came up this way from San Francisco last summer. Unfortunately, the road to Pacific City is very hard to find--it's literally a turnout with a road sign! For miles and miles I continue to drive over hills, across bad pavement, parallel to largish bodies of water and in the middle of seemingly nothing, until all of the sudden a big pelican turns up on the side of the road; everyone else is waiting in the parking lot.

Once out of the car, Seth points to the biggest hill in the area and says "Ok, our task is to clean that hill." Great. We struggle up the steep sides of the hill, only to be met with a big Oregon Parks sign: "This area is potentially unstable. Your life depends on your good judgement!" They sure don't mince words in this state. Nor do they seem to care about preventing idiots from eliminating themselves.

So the wind continues to knock us around for the better part of an hour until we reach the end of what we can safely manage, and decide to go inside. Our haul: a belt, two socks, several beer cans, and miscellaneous plastic crap. Jill stomps off with a second trash bag, thinking that she has to impress us... while we sit inside a restaurant having drinks and watching her.

Over lunch, the slug-a-beds show up. They found themselves to be fundamentally incompatible with a 8:30am start time and thus showed up late. Their arrival spurs some serious discussion--one woman had carpooled with us, not realizing that the entire lot of us were planning to stay the night in Pacific City, and she hadn't. Oops. We decided to make some phone calls and retire to our hotel rooms before heading out for some playtime.

Weekend Trip: Extreme Hiking

Occurred March 19, 2005 (Permalink)

While cleaning the beach, Seth and I had noticed a sea cave out in the ocean. Exploration seemed like a good way to pass the afternoon, so we got some wetsuits and spent a good twenty minutes driving back and forth from the hotel to the beach to retrieve forgotten items. I'm sure we looked pretty stupid to drive up to the beach, put on wet suits, get back in the car and then drive off. Incidentally, when the rain let up for five minutes, I took some pictures of what I saw.

At 3pm, the tide was at its lowest point. Unfortunately, the winds started to pick up at this point--when we were cleaning the beach, there was a strong breeze at perhaps 20mph; now, the winds were blowing at a cool 50mph with gusts up towards the 60mph range. This made access to the sea cave look difficult and dangerous, so instead of going down to it, we went up the hill.

What a hill it was! From the parking lot, the hill appeared to be perhaps 250 feet high, and mostly made of sand and sandstone. There was a dinky forest on the top, and probably a fantastic view from above. Seth, Bonnie and I set out towards a ledge that was perhaps a fourth of the way up the hill. When we got there, the winds were blowing so strongly that we leaned back towards the wind and it held us up! That is some seriously strong wind! There was also a fence around the ledge to prevent people from blowing into the ocean below; every so often a strong blast of wind came up from the beach and blasted us into the fence. You could literally lean back and feel yourself flying through the air...until *bam* you hit the fence. This is one of the most incredible things that I've ever experienced; the wind noise was about on par with the server lab at work.

Tiring of this, we sauntered up the hill, only to get sandblasted by waves of eroded sand that the wind was whipping up and around the hill. This caused us to seek some shelter in the forest at the top, in the hopes of at least avoiding the sand. The forest had some severely wind-deformed horizontal trees and the usual outcroppings of shrubbery and grass that you find at the beach. The three of us scrambled up to the ridge of the hill...only to find a very sharp drop-off into a gigantic pit! Seth said that it reminded him of the sand pit in Return of the Jedi; I could see several layers of exposed sandstone and the remains of whatever had fallen in and failed to escape. Inside the crater was the most amazing sight--a structurally intact dead tree! One could see the entire mass of wood fiber, from the tip top down the cone, the massive trunk that had to be at least a foot or two in diameter, and most of the root system. Wow!

I don't know how this pit got there. There is evidence that the area has the occasional geological event--big cracks in the stones, rocks that jut up out of the sea to form deep but narrow canyons, and of course the big pit that didn't seem to have any reason to be there. I really don't know why that particular segment of the beach seemed so volatile; I don't believe that this area is prone to seismic or volcanic activity.

There we were, stuck at the top of the hill and not wanting to endure the sand storm any longer. By this time I'd gotten enough sand in my eye to make me want off the hill _now_. We debated several options, but realized that since the wind was blowing northward, the best option was simply to jump straight off the hill. And so we tried...only to get blown back onto the hill at a slightly higher elevation. At this point, Seth rolled down the mountain, leaving Bonnie and I to shuffle down the hill. Once we'd done this, I flushed the sand out of my eyes (I can see now why some of the women of the Middle East choose to wear full body shawls). We went back to the hotel to clean ourselves up... though it's now Monday and I still have sand falling out my ears.

Weekend Trip: Tillamook and Cheese

Occurred March 20, 2005 (Permalink)

Sunday got off to a highly rainy start, so we sat around being lazy, had a slow late breakfast, and then decided to toss our plans to go hiking and went to explore cheese factories in Tillamook instead. The first place we went to was the Tillamook Cheese Factory, just off 101. They have a self-guided tour of the cheese manufacturing plant, though the only part that's visible to visitors are the enormous cheese boilers and the packaging/sorting/routing machines in the next room.

The cheese manufacturing room is pretty boring to watch. There are eight steel cylinders that heat the milky ingredients to form the cheese. After quite a few hours of cooking, the liquid cheese flows into rectangular molds that are cooled, sliced, and sent off for packaging. The cooking section looks almost like the boiler room of an ocean liner, except a whole lot cleaner.

After the cheese blocks are cast and cut, they are sent via conveyor belt to the next room, where workers separate the cut pieces and put them on another belt system in a sequential fashion. Machines then wrap each cheese bar in plastic and then send the blocks up to a conveyor belt system. Needless to say, there are workers at nearly every step of the line, inspecting the cheese for weight, shape or color problems.

Watching the cheese blocks whizzing around at high speeds on the beltway system reminded me of subway trains roaring around under a huge metropolis. I wonder if there are ever any professional conventions of both cheese factory workers and subway control operators? In any case, the wrapped cheese then goes into a third room, where (I presume) they get put in boxes and shipped out to area supermarkets.

The next stop on our trip was the Blue Heron ... something-or-other. This place was a bit more than just the run-of-the-mill cheese factory--they sold frommage, jellies, wine, bitchy signs, spreads, and beverages. Sort of like they were trying to be the average French everything store. The frommage was pretty tasty, so I bought some of it and some really spicy jam for breakfast. The jam has the same kick to it as a tomato jam that my mother made years ago. Oh, and the Blue Heron had a petting zoo.

Clay and Maddy Come to Visit

Occurred March 23, 2005 (Permalink)

Clay and Maddy flew to Portland this afternoon for six days of relaxing vacation in the Pacific northwest. The trip nearly didn't happen because Clay had caught pneumonia the week before, which certainly would have been awful, especially in light of what happened the last time that they tried to drive up here. Anyway, Clay went to the doctor and was feeling better (but still a bit anemic) off to Portland they went! I roamed all over the inside of Portland airport looking for them...only to find them outside, waiting for me!

I took them on a quick driving tour of Portland, showing them the Hawthorne district, NW downtown, and then drove up Germantown to 185th. We drove back to my apartment and then went to Old Chicago for pizza. Clay was pretty drained by then, so we went home and I gave them a few pointers about how to get around town on TriMet. Apparently the next day they went walking around the city and browsed through Powell's while I sat around...and worked.

OMSI and Kennedy School

Occurred March 25, 2005 (Permalink)

In anticipation of Clay and Maddy's visit, I decided to take both Friday and Monday off so that I could double the amount of time that I got to spend with them. However, Clay was still feeling the effects of his illness, so these four days off turned into opportunities to wake up ridiculously late, sit idle in the living room while waiting for them vacationing slugabeds :) to wake up, and generally not have to think about work.

By the time we got going this afternoon, it was already early afternoon. We decided that there was just barely enough time to ride the train downtown, take the bus to OMSI, then go to McMenamin's Kennedy School for a bit to eat and drink, and then go home. That's pretty much what we did-- got stuck in traffic on 26 heading to Sunset TC, went to OMSI, ate lunch instead of paying full fare two hours before closing, went to a somewhat dissatisfying and short planetarium show, and snuck into one of the OMSI exhibit rooms after the ticket-takers had gone home for the day. The fun room reminds me of the Children's Discovery Museum on Woz Way in downtown San Jose.

Following that, we hopped on the bus and rode all the way to the northern end of NE Portland so that I could show them what Kennedy School looked like. Back in August I had visited this particular McMenamin's pub/hotel as a prelude to going to Last Thursday with Christi; for those too lazy to dig out the original post, Kennedy School was an elementary school in NE Portland until the late 1960s; since it had been built about forty years earlier, stepping into this pub is a bit like stepping into the past. As is typical of McMenamin's, the place had a pub restaurant and a movie theater (more about this in the Sunday entry)...and also hotel rooms for the inebriated, the lazy, and the out-of-towners.

We ordered pizza and beer at the movie theater bar and then wafted through the restaurant until we ended up parked next to a big brick fireplace out in a courtyard in the middle of the Kennedy School complex. The three of us sat there for hours just catching up, chatting, spreading rumors, and generally having a merry time. Between the three of us we downed two pitchers of Hammerhead and a third pitcher of IPA. Maddy and Clay were greatly enthused by the atmosphere at the Kennedy School--so much that they started talking about a potential move. Crazy...

Eventually, however, it was time to pack up and leave. We took the bus in the wrong way eastward out to the NE 82nd MAX stop and then took the train all the way home. Quite a fun but exhausting experience!

Pub Crawl: NW and SE

Occurred March 26, 2005 (Permalink)

Saturday, we decided that Clay was in good enough shape to take him all over the town. First, we hit the Japanese Gardens in Forest Park, wandering around amid tiny, well-manicured trees, zen gardens full of raked sand, waterfalls, streams, and the like. For the most part, the garden is what I'd expect out of a Japanese garden, except that it's built into the hillside that makes up Forest Park. That trait in particular adds to the aura of the garden, as you're effectively walled in with a mountain of green to one side. If it wasn't for the view of downtown Portland poking through the trees, it'd be as if one had been transported to a remote place somewhere in the middle of Japan.

Next on our trip was NW Portland. Maddy had read about it in her travel guide, so I obliged by driving them there. Though it was raining even harder now, we crashed into a chocolate/coffee shop and had our fill of sweets. The shop was crammed full of attractive young women, I noticed. I'll never believe that they don't like chocolate again. Clay received a free plate from one of the women behind the counter; at first we supposed it was because she thought Clay was hot, though later we inquired and were told that they were simply trying to clear out (last year's) Easter inventory.

There is a music store called Music Millenium on NW 23rd in Portland. (There's another one off Burnside on the east side). We ducked in there for a good hour or two to sample and buy CDs. Being Clay and Maddy, they picked up a good deal of music--strange bands like Squirrel Nut Zippers, African mambos, French cafe music, Bach's B Minor Mass, and Holst's The Planets. I didn't do so well--I got HMS Pinafore and DVDs of Nosferatu and Intolerance. Still haven't had a chance to really watch them, though I did screen Nosferatu for Clay and Maddy...they were fascinated. Particularly when I found an easter egg on the DVD and switched on the organ soundtrack.

We then went on a pub crawl to the following places: The Lucky Lab, McMenamin's Barley Mill Pub, the Blue Monk, and Kell's Irish Pub downtown. They drank quite a bit and made off with Guiness glasses; I wished I could drink (we'd taken MAX on Friday specifically so that I could have a few at Kennedy School) but played designated driver instead. Surprisingly, I reaffirmed that going from pub to pub is still quite enjoyable, even if one doesn't consume any alcoholic beverages. For one thing, one gets to watch one's friends become silly.

Angel's Rest, the Bagdad and Lemony Snicket

Occurred March 27, 2005 (Permalink)

Being Portland, the bad weather loves to come out on the weekends. This means that the theme of the city is that one goes hiking in good or bad weather-- regardless of the weather! In keeping with this trait, Clay, Maddy and I drove out to Angel's Rest to go hiking for the day. Though there are pictures, the camera didn't do a particularly good job capturing images this day, as the CCD lacks the sophistication to capture all the gradations of the fog as the gorge walls headed back towards Portland. As far as hikes go, this was a decently challenging one because (1) we'd been out until the wee hours of the morning going to pubs and (2) it's hard to climb to Angel's Rest. The rocks were still there about 85% of the way up the trail, though in the daytime it is far easier to pick them out! Anyhow, I showed Maddy and Clay the gorge; they were suitably impressed by the view and Washington state being across the river.

Following that, we drove back into town and settled on the Hawthorne district. We snuck into the Bagdad theater at SE 37th and Hawthorne (" guys care to buy a ticket?" "No, we're just looking." "Ok then.") and had a look around in the dark. This night they were playing snappy 1950s Sinatra songs before the movie, though we weren't really interested in what they had playing. For those who haven't seen the inside of the's a huge concrete structure with Arabian themes painted on the inside. The place was evocative of the Stanford Theatre (offsite) in Palo Alto, though the Bagdad lacks a huge Wurlitzer organ and it didn't appear to have a real stage--just a projection screen in the front. In its middle age, the theatre was partitioned into multiple screens, though they'd restored it to be one huge room again, like the Grand Lake in Oakland (California).

Once we'd had our fill of the Hawthorne, we headed back in to try to make it to Trivia Night with Eliza and Lara. Unfortunately, Maddy refused to go in due to the wave of cigarette smoke wafting out the door. She sings opera, so I suppose a huge allergic reaction would _not_ be a good thing for her. Dejected, we tried calling the movie-theater equipped McMenamins in town and found out that Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events was showing at the Kennedy School. So we went there and enjoyed beer and a movie on a couch.

Pambiche, Scottish Dancing and Dessert

Occurred March 28, 2005 (Permalink)

This day started off the most slowly of all. While Maddy talked on the phone with her violinist aunt, Clay and I continued to look at the random LiveJournal pictures. All of the sudden it was 16:45 and time for dinner, so we hopped in my car and drove off to a place called Pambiche (offsite) for some Cuban food. Maddy found the restaurant in her Fyodor's city guide, so we decided that it must be worth checking out. I ordered some sort of snapper dish, which came out with a ton of sauce. Clay got what amounts to a beef pot pie, and I don't remember what Maddy got. As 19:30 drew nearer, however, we had to pack it in and run off to...

Scottish country dancing lessons! The three of us drove out to the customary location at Tigard Grange, and for the next hour they partook of the jigs, reels, and straspheys that I've been practicing for the last seven months. This night happened to be "variations on reels of three", so they unfortunately did not get to see some of the faster jigs or the elegant dances that our group does particularly well. Oh well; perhaps some time they'll catch a ball weekend.

After the class was over, we headed back to NW 23rd Ave for some dessert. I can't remember the place where we went, but it was somewhere around 23rd and Irving. The chefs there served us some wonderfully sweet desserts that were laden with richness and chocolate! I, as customary, had something involving chocolate and raspberry sauce; I think Maddy had something creamy, and if my memory serves me, Clay ordered something chocolatey (and big) too. After that, we had to stroll around the NW blocks admiring the ($500k) houses to work off all that food. We saw quite a lot of cute big houses and several brick apartment buildings (mincemeat in an earthquake) before we finally got back in the car and went home.

The next day, I took Maddy and Clay to the airport and we said good-bye. Thus ends the tale of our week of fun in Portland.

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