19 April 2014

[design] Dept Of Rose Valley Butter Corrections Dept.

I might have gotten my last post's subject bass-ackwards.

When I blogged about the new-look RVB package, I did so because the familiar, homey, farmey, yellow package had suddenly been replaced on the WinCo shelves by the buff-colored package with the single red rose.

This page (h/t, +Ben Rippel ) suggests I somehow have it all backwards. It speaks of the yellow package as the new design, and the one with the single red rose as the old one. While that doesn't explain why a bunch of the old design boxes showed up in the dairy case last week, it does make the equally-sudden mix of majority-yellow packaging on those same shelves make a bit of sense, maybe.

Commerce is a funny thing.

The yellow box (see the screenshot illustration) is designed, apparently, to harmonize with boxes with red and blue backgrounds (which see), which is their variety of rBGH-free butter, and form a coherent brand 'look', which is important in a product family like this.

I'm also told, by various correspondents, that Rose Valley Butter is indeed available in unsalted, although the nearest seller I can identify is Roth's … but the nearest Roth's to our house is in Canby, nothing wrong with Canby, but our carbon footprint's big enough as it is. And gas at such prices. And the FLAVENS. 

So, there's that.

Rose Valley's product page is at http://www.rose-valley.org/our-products/.

17 April 2014

[design] Rose Valley Butter's New Package Design

There's lot of good local to be bought in the stores of Oregon. A lot of it is provided by producer-based coöperatives; Darigold is one, and Tillamook's cheeses is another. There's one that I find many people haven't heard of perhaps: it's the Farmers' Cooperative Creamery, based in McMinnville, Wine Country's capital city.

Their brand, which one can find in the dairy case as WinCo, is Rose Valley Butter. Here is how it, until recently, was packaged:

… and, as of about 2 weeks ago, here's how we started seeing it:

Quite a change. Let's give it a little look-see…

Old package, left: New Package, right.
The original illustration is the real star of the old package. The color yellow is perhaps expected but really makes it a cheerful, sunshiny thing. The choice of illustration does play a little havoc with the choices the typographer had to make and therefore affects the hierarchy a bit: you see the word BUTTER big and proud but the brand name, ROSE VALLEY, kind of takes a supporting role. Not ideal, but understandable.

I love that illustration, seriously. It's charming and a little corny, but well-executed for all that. It fits the image of a country creamery. The arranging of the letters inside the scroll ORIGINAL almost give it a hand-layed-out feeling.

On the back panel of the package you'd find this charming bit of history:

This brand is the most Oregon thing you'll look at today, seriously. Hits all the positive notes, family, local, purity … it doesn't say sustainable, but it doesn't have to. Passionate? You bet. The Wife™'s world would be complete if only they marketed an unsalted version.

Please do this, FCC. Make my The Wife™a happy woman. She'd buy that stuff so hard, man.

The new package is rather subdued, though. Here's a close up look.

The new design is a more dialled-back, quiet presentation. The sunny yellow is gone, replaced with a rustic buff tone; the charming farmscape banished in favor of a simple illustration of a generic rose; the omission of rBGH (as well as a note which I understand is Federally mandated about boasting about omitting rBGH) are both much more prominent. All four panels of the box now look like this.

The hierarchical problem is well-solved here, however, the solution of putting the brand name in Chancery script does not satisfy. Each majuscule letter of ROSE VALLEY here is fine as a drop cap or some similar application on their own. With each individual glyph having such a broad-shouldered personality, though, they all want to be the star. The ultimate visual effect is uncomfortable, optically discordant. Not only is a proper kerning between the initial V and the A in VALLEY impossible, the swash on the top of the A suggests that it's foolish to try (and an apt demonstration as to why headline type in this style is pretty much a bad idea).

The big improvement is the FCC logo there. I enjoy it. It's a cool, simple logo, type with a graphic fillip, that is a bit rustic and proud of it. Letting the logo flag fly is definitely a positive development.

I'm reluctant to bag on a brand I genuinely like. But I've come to the definite conclusion that the new-look Rose Valley Butter package is kind of a step back. If the brand needed to be refreshed (and I'd debate that), I think they should have tried a few more ideas.

But we're not going to quit you over this, FCC. Far from it. You have fans in this household.

But get on that unsalted butter, okay. We're so there for that. 

16 April 2014

[pdx] Jon Hiner: Now You See 'Im …

A while ago we wondered where the ex-Mr. Mattress World, Jon Hiner, had gotten off to. Locals will remember the buzz when he'd suddenly disappeared, rumors of a contentious divorce, and suddenly Sherri Hiner was helming the Mattress World starship until, for a brief time in PDX, it was suddenly too late to sleep like a baby.

Mattress World, it will be recalled, collapsed when the state of Washington came after it for $1.7 Megabucks in sales taxes that Washington said it should have been collecting but didn't. All but two MW stores (which happened to be franchises) closed, a bunch of people were out of work and late-night and daytime Portland TV was devoid of the chirpy "if you find it at a better price somewhere else, the mattress is free!" reminder.

Still, in this day and age, to really be a celebrity in Portland, it takes an earnest business sense and charmingly cheesy commercials. Come to that, Mattress World is back in a way … Sherri's visage once again graces the commercials of Mattress World Northwest

More power to her, we say.

Since Jon wasn't with the company (we presume) when it folded, probably out of the market due to some non-compete agreement, he (also presumably) was spared the debris shroud of that blowup. We found that, indeed, in 2012, he had reëestablished himself as Sleep World, in the mattress store ghetto near SE 82nd Ave and King Road, in what we now call Happy Valley for some reason, occupying a building that was formerly not only a Schucks Auto Supply but also a Parker Paint store. He'd even started his own house brand and all.

In the interim, he'd removed from that area and settled into digs in the L-shaped building in the acute angle of SE Holgate Blvd and Foster Rd, which was a Videoland (remember video-rental stores? Hah?) and now hosts a 7 Eleven store.

Latterly, though, we've been by that intersection … and now Sleep World is gone. And it's website's address is up for grabs. Not quite sure when this happened, but Jon Hiner has dropped from Portland's commercial landscape once again.

For a while, too, also, the website WhereIsJonHiner.com was still active, though.

No longer.

Sic transit gloria mattress seller. 

Good night, Jon Hiner … where ever you are.

[pdx] Tri Met Bridge, We Christen Thee … Tilikum Crossing

… and that's the new name.

The word Tilikum (or Tillicum or, if you want to be really correct about it, TilixƏm) is from the Chinuk Wawa, the inter-tribal trade argot spoken by the people of Cascadia before us white folks got here, and, for a time, by many of the white people who got here. Elements of this jargon are still with us today, as I've pointed out before: if you look up the high mucketymuck or if you buy anything from this surf sports company or wondered about the sasquatch, you're speaking Chinuk, pilgrim. A skookum thing, to be sure.

From the TriMet email
Tilikum, which is the closest we can come in the 26-character common Latinate alphabet to writing the word, is a work in the Wawa meaning person or people or family, depending on the context. It survives, perhaps in a deplacé way, as the name of a neighborhood bar in Beaverton along the BHH; the name is rather appropriate, since the greater family in these modern times still, in this area of the world, is as likely to meet in an Oregon dive bar as anyplace else, perhaps, from my experience, more so.

The use of the stereotypical Indian war bonnet seems awkward but I am, at best, an armchair historian. I'll leave the more thoroughgoing analysis to those who put the word anal in analysis. 

Chinuk Wawa shorthand system
date unclear. Based on Duployan
shorthand. Source.
The name entire seems to read Tilikum Crossing: Bridge of the People. The ultimate clause of that sentence can be seen as a translation, and also a tagline, which makes it sound somewhat more appropriate to an adventure movie poster. It's not my choice, nor is it the preference of many others; many of us, including me, hoped it would be named for Kirk Reeves … indeed, it was the popular choice, as The Oregonian's Joseph Rose reported. In his missive to us in the proletariat, sent under the aegis of TriMet, historian Chet Orloff says:
But ok, I know some of you are disappointed and may be thinking of the new name in terms of winning and losing. However, please be reminded the process was not a competition or popularity contest. It was not about lobbying and who has the most clout.
The naming process was very deliberate. Our committee of 10 citizens asked fellow citizens (you) for input -- first, to provide possible names then, second, to comment on the four most meaningful names the committee believed best met the criteria we had established early in the process.  
The criteria (which can be seen in this TriMet blog posting by Mary Fetsch) were, of nature, subjective (history being what it is, I can't really see how it could be anything but), and can, I think it not untoward to point out, argue for anyone's case as it can be against. I know more than a few people who were holding out for Abigail Scott Duniway, whose name also would have been most worthy.

But it is what it is; if there's any salve to the fact that a name was chosen that I may or may not agree with it is that the search and decision was apparently done in good faith – the committee came up with a set of criteria and have appeared to stick to it as close as they could possibly do.

In that, Tilikum Crossing, in that it is a 'bridge of the people' (certainly any gorgeous cable-stayed bridge in the Transit Capital of the World that carries only foot, rail, and bike traffic and no cars reflects an ideal a lot of us Portlanders hope for) is a goodly name, and one I can make a certain sort of peace with.

The version TilixƏm needs some explaining perhaps: See this Soylent News™ article, also by The Rose, which explains the notation. Sadly, he does not call the upside-down e what it is, which is the schwa, but the article is a solid one nevertheless.

15 April 2014

[liff] Meanwhile, Down On The Farm.

At this remove, we are veggie-enabled. Tomatoes, of course. Three plants; Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes, always a dependable favorite, and two new tries: a variety promising to be big and producing, "Tony's Tomato", and a cherry variety called "Juliet".

There will be sweet pepper - the easy-to-love California Wonder.

We were thinking of not trying for a jalapeño, since it required a lot of attention and didn't yield much. Wife™, after seeing the cost of jalapeõs in the store, is reconsidering this decision.

Tony's Garden Center on SE Holgate is our pusher. Nice little place.

[design] This NBC News Graphic Explains Something About Race In America, Somehow.

But just what, we're not entirely certain …
From this NBCNews tweet

We can see what the problem here is … the graphic is just plain working too hard, and the message is confused and bewildering. Signifying the changing percentages with color bands is taking a risky step to begin with. But when you frame it with the outline of the coterminous 48 and include the state lines, it looks less like a continuum of change and more like, by the year 2060 there's going to be a shift in the national Asian reservation from the northwest corner of Washington to the middle third of Maine.

Seriously, mixing it up this way leaves me bemused. It's like one of those sentences that's so loosely constructed that you have to step back from it, you get to the end and you say 'oh, I get it', then glance back at the beginning of the thought to see if you started off from a solid assumption and just have to reparse the whole thing all over again because you lost the thread.

Vox has a much clearer bar graph where I got turned on to this at http://www.vox.com/2014/4/14/5612970/how-not-to-visualize-americas-changing-demographics

It's a good thing they didn't have a pie chart. God only knows how that would have turned out. There might have been casualties. 

In the meantime, here's Brian Williams rapping.

14 April 2014

[pdx] 30 Minutes of PDX Sunset in 15 Seconds

3057.Another attempt at time-lapse animation. I'm not all that happy with the quality, to be honest. Not nearly as sharp as I wanted. Was done with a series of snaps, one every two minutes, taken over a thirty-minute period from the Pittock Mansion viewpoint.

But you can make out the moon rising over Mount Hood, and the hill's shadow creeping over the east side of town, and the sense of mood was very meditative there, and a palimpsest of that is there.

Tools were the Canon Powershot S-100, and Photoshop was used to create the animation.

[pdx] Moon Over Downtown Portland, or, Sunset Over America's Most Photogenic City

I wonder, when Henry Pittock built Portland's most famous residence, now a museum and grounds held in trust for all the citizens of the city he helped build, I wonder if he knew, somehow, just what a view would eventually obtain from that perch?

As The Wife™ pointed out aptly, it was undoubtedly a gorgeous view back in 1913. It's built on a geographical prominence that obviously affords a spectacular view naturally. But Portland's a very very photogenic city. It's almost as though she grew with the idea that she'd be seen from this viewpoint.

How did he know?

Adorably miniaturized Portland. Built of tilt-shift simulation settings, not of LEGOs.
To see that sort of thing, yo, go here.
I'm a native Oregonian, as I've smugly said ad nauseam. Silvertonian by birth, Portlander by choice. At this point, though, I've lived in Portland for longer than I've lived anywhere else in my life. While I've made my peace with a rather unhappy childhood in Silverton, and am in fact a little proud to be able to say I was born there, if I had my life to design over, I'd change my place of birth to Portland.

I love Portland that much. It's because I respond so intensely to the visual, I suppose. The cityscape here has always stirred me.

We all have our favorite places, and that's cool too, of course. But our hearts know what home is. For me, there could never be any other place.

13 April 2014

[art] LineworkNW … The First Issue

In the middle of the day, yesterday, we took the time to visit LineworkNW … the premiere issue. It was dropped at Norse Hall, at the corner of NW 11th and Couch here in Portland, and my word, it was of a brilliance.

Comic and Illustration conventions have become huge business and überfashionable. As such they are usually located a)in places I can't usually get to and, even if I can get there, b)I can't afford 'em. Last year, Stumptown Comics Fest folded itself into the Rose City Comic Con, leaving a big hole for what makes Portland comic art so special and unique: heavily indie, madly and fiercely passionate, and intimate and approachable.

Enter LineworkNW: a 1-day festival, free to go to, easy to exhibit at, all about creators and the things they create and how they connect to the people who love the work they do … all the good things about Indiewood's culture, the stuff that made Portland popular to begin with.

We must never forget our roots.

Brief abashed confession here: I nearly didn't go. A moment to sing the Third Shift Blues: If I want to do anything nifty on Saturday, I wind up staying up more than 24 hours. This sort of schedule distortion has played havoc on many things, from my creative inspiration to some thought processes, I've become convinced; as The Wife™ and myself browsed the copies of Soylent News™in the Midland library, I was leaning toward going home and chilling out. But, in the A-and/or-E section mentioned LineworkNW, and The Wife™saw it, and insisted.

This is why my The Wife™ is awesome. When I run out of gumption, she gives me the kick.

So we decamped from the library, made an errand-stop on our way overtown, and, just before 5:00 PM, on an inordinately-pleasant Oregon spring afternoon, we came to the Norse Hall. Any doubts that LineworkNW was going to go over well were, if not dispelled by the news of the immense response, completely cast away by the traffic around that corner.

For a small festival, it was huge.

Parking our battered steed a full block and a half away (in a space that had opened up just a moment or two before), we walked over and entered.

Here I can tell you what the beauty of a one-day con is: if you get there half way through the day, and can only stay a little while, you don't feel like you're missing out. Every slice you take from this cake is good. Because, cake.

The exhibition floor was thronging, as you can see in these photos. So many people, you can scarcely see the merchandise for the crowd. Intimate doesn't begin to describe.

I was, as stated before, on the latter half of a very long day, so I can't give a complete rundown of all the awesomeness I saw there. But it was awesome. Creators were on hand to comment on all their work. There was Fantagraphics, there was Reading Frenzy (I think that's Chloe Eudaly there on the right of the photo, at the RF table), there was DarkHorse; there was Know Your City and their wonderful Oregon History Comics zine series (we got 3 more of them, my favorite was the Dead Freeways volume), Fantom Forest (I got the wonderful PDX/100 by Matt Sundstrom).

We had at $20 budget and still we found nifty stuff. We'd have bought most of that room if we could.

We could attend one panel as well. The title was Line/Work, and it was about creators and their creating.

From right; one of The Little Freinds of Printmaking, Bwana Spoons, The other of The Little Friends of Printmaking, moderator Jason Sturgill
It was a general talk on everyone's creative process, what they did to do what they did, which even touched on such things as why Portland instead of Los Angeles, and whether they preferred working out of the home versus a studio (my question. Surprisingly, the studio crowd outvoted the work-at-home crowd. It helps, apparently, to sharpen one against one's tribal fellows on a daily basis).

From right: Meg Hunt, BT Livermore, Kinoko
Sitting back absorbing this with the assistance of indulging in a Bitsburger Pils was a privation I was perfectly willing to bear up under.

Word is that they're going to do this yearly, and keep it small. Damn fine idea, I say. One of the things I have a problem with, in reclaiming my inner artist, is thinking that people who do this on a regular basis are some sort of elevated being, and I am not that being. Well, they are sensational people, but they aren't supernatural … they just do what they do and it's awesome. And they share what they know. And that's aspirational.

LineworkNW was brilliance, and I'm glad as hell someone did this. Thank you. I'm grateful.

[pdx] "Franz Bread, The Good Bread …"

Overlooking the inner east side, from a side of one of the buildings at the Franz Bakery (actually, the United States Baking Company), is a bit of charming outdoor advertising that completes the famous commercial jingle, the first half of which is this entry's title:

A bit of historical context provided by a YouTuber with obviously discerning tastes …

11 April 2014

[maps] A Country By Any Other Name … Or What It's Name Really Means

The maps in the series The Atlas of True Names sound fantasy-novel-ly.

Heart's Farm and Place By The Meadow are major cities in the Land of Friends whose capital is The Illustrious One. This fabled land is found as a part of The United States of the Home Ruler, which is one of the main nations in this fantasy-tinged land.

Actually, it's a land not far from here. If you know the root meanings, you might have guessed that I mentioned, in order,  Houston and Dallas, which are the biggest towns in Texas which has Austin as the capital city. By now, one has probably deduced that the cartographers have made an effort to locate the root meanings of the words we casually use for our world's place names and brought those meanings forward into English. Thus, Canada becomes Land of Villages (one interpretation of the First Nations word kanata being village) and Mexico being Navel of the Moon (the modern nation takes its name from the Valley of Mexico (present day Distrito Federál), which took its name from the Mexica, the 'People of the Moon').

How the USA became the United States of the Home Ruler is kind of fuzzy to figure, but we know that the word America was drawn, as many readers will know, from Amerigo, as in the explorer and mapmaker Amerigo Vespucci, courtesy of Waldsemüller. The name Amerigo, as this site notes, is a medieval Italian version of the German Emmerich; it speculates that the forepart of that comes from a word meaning home, and the aft part, a word meaning power, so the reasoning normalized that into home ruler.

But, you may wonder, what of our beloved Oregon? Here you are, from the zoomable version that can be seen at http://twentytwowords.com/united-states-map-with-place-names-replaced-by-original-meanings/:

There's not much, but what's there is amusingly interesting. Portland obviously has no other meaning. our capital city, Salem, is an Anglicized version of the hebrew shalom, meaning peace; Well-born is an obvious rootation of Eu-gene. Mishap Lake for mal heure is a good translation of the southeastern Oregon place name essentially meaning bad luck or misfortune. I don't know what exactly the Realm of the God of the Underworld is supposed to be: Madras was named after the cloth, Redmond was named after its founder, whose name is an Anglicization of an Irish name which is a Celticization of the name Raymond, whose meaning has nothing whatsoever to do with Hades.

Although, it does get intolerably hot in the Oregon desert in the summer months,  it ain't that bad.

The most intriguing rendering is that of Oregon into Beautiful Land. That contradicts every guess as to where the word Oregon came from, and that's something that nobody can say for certain. There are many good guesses that make sense, but the best explanation that I can logic out from it all is that we call this place Oregon because that's what we thought the people who were here before us called it.

Beautiful Land is something I can't figure where they got.

Maybe they vacationed here once. Because it's correct enough …

As mentioned, a zoomable version of the map is located at the article at Twenty-Two Words: http://twentytwowords.com/united-states-map-with-place-names-replaced-by-original-meanings/, and the home page of the Atlas is http://www.kalimedia.com/Atlas_of_True_Names.html.  Read and enjoy, and keep with you this proviso:
Not all translations are definitive.
The reader may be offered a number of possible alternatives,
or the translation may be prefixed by ‘possibly’ or ‘probably’.
Please accept the Atlas of True Names
just as an invitation to the world as a strange, romantic continent.
In other words, explore … and just have fun with it. It's not hard to.  

10 April 2014

[liff in OR] The 2013-2014 Oregon Blue Book Cover Winner … And How You Can Enter The Contest For The Next

Its a beautiful shot of the Pacific at Yachats at sunset

Each biennium, the Oregon Secretary of State produces a volume called the Oregon Blue Book. It's an almanac full of facts and figures about the best state ever, and every 2 years, the Secretary of State chooses a new, beautiful Oregon photo to grace the cover.

This edition's winner is a photo by Beaverton's John Pederson, Strawberry Hill Sunset. A slice of this is
featured right, click here to go to a big version. It's a gorgeous shot, rich in color, taken of the Oregon beach at sunset from Strawberry Hill, which is south of Yachats. It's just the kind of scenery you get used to here, and it's beautifully done.

The full announcement can be seen at http://bluebook.state.or.us/misc/cover/front.htm. But did you know that if you have a hand with the camera you, too, might achieve a measure of State Archival immortality? The contest to select the photo that is to be the cover of the 2015-2016 Blue Book is open, and any Oregon resident can enter. There are requirements, of course; go to http://bluebook.state.or.us/misc/contest/guidelines.htm to see them. A link to the PDF entry form can be found thereunto.

Good luck there, all you amateur Ray Atkesons you!

09 April 2014

[liff] Odds and Sods, Tax Time Edition

Some neato stuff I want to write about but can't because they speak just fine for themselves:

[liff] A Dude Plays ABBA's "Mamma Mia" Bass Line

Because I don't have anything else for the moment, and this guy nails it, and it's fun to watch, and BASSLINE, YO!

08 April 2014

[font] Comic Neue … The Aesthete's Comic Sans

So. MS Comic Sans.

Insert Whitmanesque YAWP here.

I firmly believe that Comic Sans isn't bad; it's just drawn that way. Vincent Connaré had no idea that when he composed that font for use in Microsoft BOB that it would become the most levelling influence in the visual arts since Helvetica.

No insult meant to either, there.

But since then the world seems betimes swimming in inappropriate uses of Comic Sans. I'm sure, on some nuclear reactor nearing EOL somewhere, there's a sign reading EMERGENCY REACTOR SCRAM written in Comic Sans - either through irony or simply lack-of-awareness, who can say … and really, does it matter?

No. No, it does not.

Anywho, in the occasional quixotic drive to create a cultural counterpoint to CS, the Japan-based designer Craig Rozynski has hammered out the weird and visually-discordant bendy bits, engineered some kerning and other things, and created Comic Neue*. Here's what it looks like, with screenshots from its site:

The designer tried to draw the line between the casual 'honesty' of Comic Sans and the lack of good design. He's pretty much succeeded; it's like CS only not terrible, and doesn't feel like daggers of evil piercing your eyes. So, in as much as addressing the flaws of CS, it's a success.

The deeper philosophical question of necessity is an exercise I leave to the sojourner. And, as far as Mr Connaré hisself?
I guess there's just no pleasing some people.

The designer, in a gesture of generosity to the greater good, has released the font as public domain. Get your copy here, if you must: http://comicneue.com/

[pdx] Photos on Sunday 3: The Ankeny Arcade, With Added MAX

For a last segment in this edition of 'Photos on Sunday', the part of SW 1st Avenue nearest to but not north of the Skidmore Fountain. The cobbles on the part of 1st here and the reservation of it to MAX trains only make of it a sort of world unto itself, bounded, cozy, and close. And the fact that Portland, for all its growth, is a city that rolls up the sidewalks early on Sunday evenings, means it feels most deserted down there. Very few people, as though everyone's evacuated.

SW 1st looking south from the Skidmore Fountain … a somewhat wider view than the photo in the previous entry. The New Market Theater building is on the right there, and the Ankeny Arcade just out of shot.

SW 1st Avenue at SW Pine Street, looking north toward Skidmore Fountain. Great atmosphere here.

It is a modern, working city after all. Here comes MAX, shattering the fragile mood. Not necessarily a bad thing, tho.

07 April 2014

[pdx] Photos on Sunday 2: Downtown PDX at Dusk

On Sunday evening, during the crepuscule, The Wife™ and your esteemed correspondent decided what we really needed was a walk about on the first really fine day of the year.

Downtown was our subject. These photo entries I've tended to be posting latterly are harder to assemble than one would think. They require a level of curating that a simple wordy-post doesn't; I always have the words I need, but photos do tend to say so much that when I want to tell a story of a moment with some, choosing is the hardest part.

Fortunately, Portland is so photogenic, it tends to speak volumes for me. I do persist in insisting that my words are an important part of it; it's a conceit, and I realize this. It is, however, a conceit I freely indulge; luxury I can afford, a character flaw I am most fond of. Long story short (too late!), it stays.

But, to be brief (my schedule for today has just evinced a tectonic shift and time is short), my hometown gives me:

Great vintage signage …

NW 2nd and Couch
…the old and the new both looking ancient…

NW 1st Avenue at Couch, Looking South
 … old bridges …
Steel Bridge from Japanese-American Historical Plaza
 … funky 20th Century skylines …

The burgeoning Lloyd Center Skyscraper District
 … more old bridges …

The Burnside Bridge, which should need no introduction
 … urban history …

It is what it is.
 … modern urban prospects …

SW Naito Parkway looking south from the light at SW Pine Street

… over 100 years of bridging the river in one angle …

A view upriver including the Morrison, Hawthorne, New Transit Bridge, and Marquam (and a teensy bit of the Ross Island Bridge, as Wife™ says).
… more modern urbanity …

Downtown from Salmon Street Springs, at SW Salmon and Naito, featuring the KOIN tower.

… a view down the river wall that seems more European than American …

This angle I've seen photographed before. In a certain light, it makes me think of what I always pictured a scene along the Seine in Paris would be like. 
 … and a sunset fairyland with train tracks running down it. …

SW 1st Avenue looking south, the Skidmore Fountain at our backs.

… that's my hometown.

Must go. Life calls.

[pdx] Photos on Sunday 1: Division St Grocery Outlet

Sunday is our market day, The Wife™ and myself. We depend on two sources; one, happily, has become the 122nd and Division Grocery Outlet.

We go for more than some pretty neat prices and availability of stuffs you won't find anywhere else. They are a very cheerful crew there. Their senses of humor keep us smiling.

Browsing the freezer case then:

We found the above on the pi case. I mean, pie case. Er, rather, pi pie case. Or something.

They are also mad concentrated on making life easy for customers …

Although I would point out that breakfast isn't just for breakfast any more.

122nd and Division Grocery Outlet FTW, yo.

06 April 2014

[pdx] Meet The New "Fun-Size" Oregonian

Welcome to the new era. The Oregonian has gone post-newspaper.

They still publish one, mind, in a sense of the word. Newsprint is reeled off rolls, run through presses, and ink deposited in patters resembling letters, words, pictures, and such, in parseable array.

I had an idea of what I was in for when The Wife™ and myself stopped by the Jackson's Shell station at 122nd and Division before our weekly bout of Library time (you should all have a weekly Library day, by the way. Some sort of intellectual life. It's free. It won't kill you). Seeing those little The Sunday Oregonian early editions had generated an emotion that I don't think I'll ever be able to put into words.

Finally arriving out our branch and setting up for an afternoon of browsing, reading, and writing, we found several of The New Breed racked up where the should be. And, actually, that was rather odd. Since we no longer (for a bunch of reasons both practical and intellectual) subscribe to the pape, we catch up over the week at the Library. Typically, it was tough to find the week's editions; they were out around the building, all being read. Today, they were all in position, with no competition for reading them.

"They're all there," Wife™ says. "Nobody else is reading them."

And that is strange. Maybe it isn't a thing. Time will tell.

Left: a traditional broadsheet. Right: The Oregonian, "Fun-Size" edition.
 To be honest, I was having trouble visualizing such a small paper. The tabloid "Fun-Size" format has been identified with newspapers that are thought of as newspapers because they can't adequately be described as something else (e.g., National Enquirer), or major city dailies who were redesigned by people who were more interested in money than news (the post-Murdoch Chicago Sun-Times comes to mind).

Well, on the upside, my brain didn't burst into flames and I didn't cry and die inside when looking at this stunted little thing. World didn't halt spinning on its axis and career into the Sun. So, there's that.

But I do note that the Fun-Size edition debuted on the 2nd of April. I can only conclude that this is because if they rolled it out on the 1st, they would send the mother of all mixed messages.

The difference in layout is striking. The pre-April 2nd Oregonian carried the classic banner black-letter announcing the paper's title, a touch this old-fashioned mind always liked. In the stripe below the title, the wording Always On Oregonlive.com can be seen. There was a time they boasted of the Pulitzer they won there. We've come so far.

The current version shrinks the proud title to a minisculeness above the new-look Oregonian Media Group logo, a redesign which amounted to filling in the right side of the blackletter capital O.

The section heading. 'Memba when you could get the Living section or the Opinion section? Not no more, chum. Takes a sharp eye to deduce where one section takes up and the other leaves off.

The new Fun Size's section are all stapled together, a practice they are most proud of, ciding that they are the only daily in America to use stapled sections. They do it Europe, you know. The Fun Size's sections are nested within one another. The above it Saturdays. Tuesday, April 2nd's, was arranged thusly:

If you didn't pay attention to the table of contents, here's how you know you've stumbled into the Metro section of Saturday's paper, which is subsumed into the Main section:

The comics are all in color. This is a mixed blessing. Yay, because color comics, but, you know, some of the more richly-colored comics tend to look muddy when printed on newsprint. So, points for style here, but I actually preferred them in black and white a little more.

I will concede points for solid, sensible design as far as it goes, though. This Business section front page is a good example. Each new section has a signature color, and the front page's upper left ear is a square of that color. The boundaries of this square, extended out, give solid spines along which to organize and arrange the rest of the content. If the page layout of the Fun Size edition is based on modules, I'm betting that the single modular unit is the size of that square. So, solid layout logic, good.

Like I said, they redesigned The Oregonian,  and the world didn't end. Still, after watching the trajectory of the paper since the changes at the top, I can't say I'm encouraged.

Change doesn't happen in a vacuum. The Oregonian, a paper that once promised everyone who worked at it their jobs for life as long as they continued to do them well, has been hollowing itself out from the inside, as far as I'm concerned. The massive layoffs last year were just an inflection point in a path that began when the paper decided that on Mondays, Opinion would no longer be a separate section, and went through points on the curve that included Jack Ohman's departure for the Sacramento Bee, where he shines just as fiercely and funnily as he ever did here in Oregon, and the recently released news about compensation and performance standards that accentuate posting stories to OregonLive.com over everything else suggest that the West's largest daily is going to a place where I, bluntly, don't think we're going to be well-served from.

It doesn't signify, to me, courage in changing our idea of what a newspaper is and can do so much as it signifies, in the final view, a narrowing of perspective, and a stunting of horizons. Finding itself under too much pressure to aspire to greatness, The Oregonian is willing to settle for chasing clicks on a computer, web impressions on a smartphone.

The Fun-Size O's managment call it a 'digital-first' policy.

That's also the same policy my doctor has for prostate exams. 

05 April 2014

[brand] Spearmint Rhino Is a "Gentlemens Club". No, I Wouldn't Have Guessed Either.

Living in Portland, one develops a certain blasé mien toward strip clubs. Not that they are necessarily something that one welcomes to a neighborhood, really. More a recognition, much as the seashore recognizes the tide is coming in whether it likes it or not, that it's coming … like it or not.

Personally, I don't have a problem with strip clubs as such; I don't patronize them, I don't like a lot about them, but people are going to want them and others are going to set them up for those people. Sex sells, and almost everyone's buying. 'Specially here in PDX, where the reputation for such establishments is nothing short of legendary.

We can, each one of us, I suppose, differ on whether or not there are are too many of them. I don't think Portland needs any more, really, and I have proof that they're getting a little too common (if that be possible; they've long since run out of names for them that are impossible not to mock.

I figured we were in a dark place when a local Division Street dive bar of long standing, the Peanut Farm, at 12646 SE Division Street, became yet another strip club … but called itself the Pitiful Princess. That's the most depressing name I can think of for a strip club. Pitiful Princess. It's like naming a strip club Daddy Issues. 

Well, the sun rises and sets, the tide goes in and out, and, like the ticking of some sleazy clock, another strip club has opened in Stumptown, and it's called …

Spearmint Rhino. 

Wait … what?

Yeah. Spearmint Rhino. It doesn't seem to be code for anything, it isn't some bizarre and obscure name for a hitherto little-known bit of male or female intimate anatomy. Spearmint Rhino. A name designed to leave you scratching your head. The logo (right) isn't particularly brilliant or inspired, but at least it looks like someone spent some time on designing it. If you really want to say something for it … hey, nice font, I guess.

Give it that.

So, Spearmint Rhino, a name that will come to signify something in the annals of something somehow, has opened its doors in PDX. Yayz. And you know what else? Hey, it's an international chain! Yayz again! According to Wikipedia, the club opened in 1989 as a supplement to the existing Peppermint Elephant Restaurant. So, there's that.

So, we missed out on the Peppermint Elephant, but we do know that it took supplements.

Stay tuned for what are sure to be newer additions to the panoply of being able to see naked women in Portland:

  • Vanilla Zebra
  • Raspberry Giraffe
  • Licorice Bison
  • Habañero Hippo
  • Butterscotch Buffalo
Oh, we could go on.  But we won't.

No, I ain't giving you directions. You got Google. Find in yourowndangself.


It's Christmas (or Samhain, or Cthulhumas, or whatever appropriate mid-winter gifting celebration fits your weltanshauung) in March for you and me and every map loving nerd you know.

Via various sources in the backchannel, I've learnt that the New York Public Library has taken the extreme generous liberty (these days, anyway) of HD-scanning and making their entire map library … that's over 20,000 pieces of cartography … absolutely free for the taking. Anyone, anywhere can create a free account and download until their DSL connection gets all shiny.

The maps are downloaded (and some can be 'rectified', though what that entails I'm not entirely clear as of yet … there's a lot of functionality there) and viewed through a website/webapp called the Map Warper. To create a free account, follow this link, then respond to the activation email, and go crazy.

Why is the NYPL doing this? They're answering a dire need in society; everyone is so concerned about protecting any opportunity to mine the commons to create wealth, there's less and less of the public domain to wander around in every day, or so it seems. Releasing this, they hope to spur inspiration and creation … they want to see this stuff disseminate into the world and spark imaginations …
It means you can have the maps, all of them if you want, for free, in high resolution. We’ve scanned them to enable their use in the broadest possible ways by the largest number of people.Though not required, if you’d like to credit the New York Public Library, please use the following text "From The Lionel Pincus & Princess Firyal Map Division, The New York Public Library.” Doing so helps us track what happens when we release collections like this to the public for free under really relaxed and open terms. We believe our collections inspire all kinds of creativity, innovation and discovery, things the NYPL holds very dear.
(clicking on the pullquote above will send you to Mark Knutson's NYPL blog entry about the collection, and should give you some idea of the intent).

So, go! What are you waiting for?

04 April 2014

[design] Q: What Do A Major Liberal Poliblog Site And A Famous Conservative Tycoon Have In Common?

A: The same illustration. And it's crazy.

By now, the Daily Kos should need no introduction to anyone liberal (or anyone who finds us suspicious). One of the kings-of-the-liberal-blogosphere, it's been going strong since the early days of W, when a vet named Markos Moulitsas Zúniga created a liberal blog of his own. It grew and grew and grew, and now innumerable users post thousands of posts in discussions daily. It's a community in the sense of the thing; not only are there message boards, but each user can maintain an on-site blog, a diary. It's become fairly sprawling.

And, to anyone who reads the political news with any depth, the name Charles Koch has resonance as well. He is part of a family that's so wealthy they could probably buy and sell the Waltons a handful of times over, and whose company, Koch Industries, owns enough industrial power than it's downright tough to avoid all the products that they produce. Notably for this narrative, they donate and support conservative causes enthusiastically.

I don't think it's unreasonable to say that a Koch is pretty much nearly the opposite of a Kossack.

So, when the WSJ decided to publish an op-ed by Charles Koch, what with patriotic feelings appertaining and all , it was felt reasonable to come up with an illustration … well, like this:

Some of you who visit DKos on a regular bases (amusingly, I'm not amongst that – no hating, I'm just more a Democratic Underground sorta guy, kind of like Yale vs. Harvard) will recognize that image, because, for a very long time, here was DKos's virtual logo:

It's not kinda the same thing. It's exactly the same thing.

Now, I've got to hasten to point out that this is clearly not a case of copyright infringement; as the notation at the WSJ notes, the image was licensed from Getty Images, which is undoubtedly where DKos got it as well. Anyone can pay for a license, and with Getty Images making a great deal of its library free for use, we can probably expect to see a lot more of this. Also, DKos has refined the idea; it's not exactly the same thing any more:

… but still it's something that makes you go hmmmm … was it sort of a jibe? Was the person who chose the illustration 'taking the piss', as the Brits say, out of the idealized typical Kossack? Did they think they were 'reclaiming' an image for one side or another in a great Manichean struggle?

Or was it just a coincidence?

Either way, it's a thing that makes you go hmmm …