31 December 2004

[sundial_life] It's The Last Day Of The Year...

...but to those of us who usually work holidays, it's just one more day at the office.

Just a little bit suckier.

30 December 2004

[pdx_life] Pareidolia

The Peninsula-that area of Portland between the Willamette and Columbia rivers, mostly west of Williams Avenue-looks just like an upturned thumb. Especially when you take in the curve of the south bank of the Columbia running alongside PDX.

[world_distasters] The Spin Of The World, The Tilt Of The Poles

I've left off any commenting on the Indian Ocean quake and tsunami distaster, since any comment I'd have to make would be trite anyway. Suffice it to say I've been boggled as everyone else, and in my own way I've said a prayer for the dead and for the survivors.

News on the quake's effect, in the physical science world, has been interesting, however. The quake, moment magntude 9.0, was the most violent since the 9.2 "Good Friday" Alaskan quake of 1964. The event caused detectable changes in the planet: The terrestrial rotation was sped up by about 3 microseconds, and the planet exhibited a wobble-a change in the tilt of the axis-of about 1 inch.

It kind of sounds scary. However, when put it context it becomes very insignifcant. While the rotation of the plant sped up by 3 micosec, tidal drag from the Moon actually slows terrestrial rotation by 15 microsec/year. Natural forces stand to cancel that change out in mere weeks. And, that's not all: while an axial variation of 1 inch (2.5 cm) was recorded, it is dwarfed by a natural ongoing polar oscillation called the Chandler wobble, which varies anywhere from about 10 to about 160 feet (9 to 30 metres).

Source:Wikipedia article at this link.

[nw_politics] NOW They Stand on Principle

The continuing drama of the Washington gubernatorial recount is highly amusing.

You see, when Rossi was called the winner, he and his campaign were big big BIG on getting the results finalized and out of the way. In a perfect world, that would be no issue at all. This, though is not that world. This is a world where the Rossi campaign will go to court to prevent legitimate votes which fell through the cracks from being counted-because they were in King County, which was likely to vote for Gregoire-and the number of found ballots were enough to take his razor-thin lead away.

Then, it didn't matter that a couple of hundred citizen's voices wouldn't be heard despite the fact that nothing made thier ballots invalid. The election was over, as he'd seen it, he won, and that was that.

Fortunately for what's left of the integrity of the voting process in America, the Washington courts saw it differently. And fortunately for Gregoire, the votes did go her way. She is to be certified today.

Now it would seem that Rossi and his campaign have found religion. Now, to them, every vote counts. Noble positions, conveniently held.

To today's Repbulican party, it isn't important that the process runs unimpeachably. It's what's good for the party that counts; as long as they're winning, it's all good, if they're losing, then it's taken as read that somebody is screwing around.

Now Rossi is actually calling for a rerun of the election. Gregiore is justified in disregarding (though our Republican-friendly media is quick to paint it as "balking at") any such call. If there were indications of possible wide scale-or any scale, really-fraud and malfeasance, then I'd be right along there with him.

But Washington isn't Ukraine, and Rossi sure as 7734 isn't Yushchenko.

Gregiore legitimatly won by a nose in a legitimately-run recount. Rossi should concede. Anything else is sore-losery.

[pdx_transit] Line 9 Returns To The Broadway Bridge

According to a Rider Alert just deposited in my inbox, completion of two years of work and reopening of the Broadway Bridge to full traffic also brings back the line 9-Broadway.

Until now, the 9 has routed down N/NE Williams Avenue, through the Rose Quarter Transit Center, and into the downtown transit spine via NW Everett and Glisan Streets. With the Broadway Bridge fully open, routing will return to Broadway and Weidler on the east side of the river west of Williams and NW Broadway running up to the bridge past Union Station.

Detials can be found at this link.

[pdx_life] Another Bit Of Wrestling History

...Can be fount at http://www.playboybuddyrose.com/

Go. Visit it. You know you want to.

28 December 2004

[pdx_media] KPTV:Portland Broadcast Titan

I've just found out about a marvelous site dedicated to the history of one of the greatest TV stations there ever was or maybe ever will be.

Click here to go to Yesterday's KPTV.

This is a very loving tribute to the local, friendly, slightly quirky "Northwest Personality Station" that was KPTV Channel 12. Descending from the very first television broadcast in Portland to the day when it became "Fox 12 Oregon" and the Fox network sucked the last bit of personality out of it, it defined local broadcasting for about two generations. It was where you could watch Star Trek before it became a phenomenon, where Perry Mason has run afternoons, continuously, about fifty years, where names like Addie Bobkins, Ramblin Rod, and Rusty Nails entertained year after year of kids before they trundled off to school, where the evening news happened at 10pm, and where Lars Larson worked back when he really was defending the little guy.

It was also where modern professional wrestling got its start; happy memories of Portland Wrestling, from the Portland Sports Arena, with Frank Bonema, at midnight on Saturday, remain with me still.

I highly recommend the station logo gallery. It's great!

So go there, and live the memory of Portland television, when it had class and style.

27 December 2004

[pcc_life] The Comeback Kid Pulls It Through!

I note that I haven't bragged about my school performance, as other local 'bloggers have (and most rightly so). Well, here's mine:

Watercolor 1 A
Life Drawing A
Intro Dreamweaver A

Three classes, but a 40 hour workload. I know some of you can relate here.

What thrills me about this is that I did it with a week and a half size crater blown out of my term right about the middle due to a serious cellulitis infection (ask me if you want to know what that is and why it sux0rs; I've written about it before. Suffice it to say that I'm still healing from it, two months later).

There are two more terms to complete my Graphic Design degree-chasing experience. This term there are only two classes, requirement filling; Geography of Oregon, and Computer Concepts I (curiously classified as 'physical science' by PCC). CC1 is a 'web based course, so I'll only be going to campus one day a week unless I have a need or a want. and I won't be fighting morning or (potentially) evening traffic.

The end has hove in over the near horizon. Enjoy it whilst I can; after this May, I have to behave as a professional.

[blog_life] Hello to Pril

Just came up with a link to Nth of Pril. I like everything about it. I like the enigmatic name, I like the blogger, I like her attitude, and she plays bass, which is the l3373st instrument evar.

She's also left some of the best comments on this extremely minor 'blog.

The Times is honored by Pril's presence; We Are Not Worthy[tm].

26 December 2004

[design_tools] More From Quark-PSD Import

It's not been long since I had my upgraded QuarkXPress 6.5 that Quark announced the availability of another XTension.

XTtensions, for those who just joined the discussion or don't know what the samhey I'm talking about, are plug-in software modules. QuarkXPress does a whole lot on its own, but its full functionality is delivered through numerous XTensions, which add functions and either menu-items or new palettes to the basic interface.

The first notable XTension is QuarkVista, which provides a palette containing Photoshop-style filters and effects to XPress. This is notable because, formerly, it was necessary to load your image into an appropriate image geeker (Photoshop usually), edit it, and save it back out to disk if you wanted to change a picture in your layout.

That is, if using QuarkXPress. Adobe's InDesign allowed direct import of .psd files (Photoshop document) without having to reedit and resave to, say, .tiff or .eps format outside of InDesign. The CS releases feature even tighter integration.

This release is the next anticipated semi-big thing from Quark. PSD Import does just what it says-you can import PSD files as they are, without having to save them as an alternative file format like .tiff, .jpg, .gif, what have you. But that's not all. The PSD Import palette, which is the XTension's manifestation within the XPress interfact, features tabs that reveal subpalettes that are more or less identical to Photoshop's Layers, Channels, and Paths palettes, as well as allowing limited editing of those attributes and blending modes.

That already was a kind of half-review as it was. I have two planned for writing and posting to the Yahoo! GDRG (and QuarkVSInDesign, if Pariah'll have me), and they have yet to be done. SO.....

Hang on for the full report.

Suffice it to say that this cements, at least with me, a reputation of Quark as recognizing that, to survive, or at least to remain a big player, it has to answer InDesign. After all, it has in-program image geeking and native Photoshop import...

Which are two features that InDesign (and especially the CS release) have had for years now.

23 December 2004

[design_tools] We Finally Get The QuarkXPress 6.5 Update

Two days ago an unassuming little CD-ROM mailer arrived here, with a return address of "Quark Distribution" in Cheyenne, Wyoming (so, that's where quarks come from...Wyoming...). In it were two CD-ROMs:

1) Quark XPress 6.1 updater
2) Quark XPress 6.5 updater.

Now, I already have the 6.1, thanks for the extra CD, Quark, but the 6.5 is what I've been on the lookout for.

QuarkXPress 6.5 brings several new features. What I think many have had thier eyes on, however, is the 'QuarkVista' XTension software, which adds in-program image manipulation-common filters and adjustments such as Gaussian Blur, posterization, levels, selective color, unsharp mask-many other items which users of Photoshop-class programs are well familiar with. They are said to be 'nondestructive', that is, they affect how Quark sees the files but do not work on the files themselves.

The question is, will QuarkVista and the changes 6.5 bring keep users interested in QuarkXPress, make them feel as though they're getting value for money for a seat, and look forward to the notional QuarkXPress 7.0, rumored to be due out within the next 18 months?

I'll play with it and let everyone know. In the meantime I've realized one benefit-I now have 30 new Linotype Library OpenType fonts, free for being a registered XPress user. Not to be sneezed at.

[nw_politics] See Where A Recount Will Get You

Well, how about that...going from a win of 42 votes, Dino Rossi lost the Washington Governor's race by about 130. Congratulations, Christine Gregoire!

Of course, now that the Republicans have lost one on recount, expect more court dates. Give the Washington Supreme Court credit, though; it's not the voters' fault those lost ballots fell through the cracks. I'd of wanted mine to be counted regardless. Anything else is disenfranchisement.

And the Republicans weren't challenging those ballots in the interest of fairness. They were challenging them because they would most likely tilt the tally in the direction of Gregiore. Which they did.

22 December 2004

[pdx_life] TriMet To Add Direct Downtown-To-Sellwood Service

Months ago, when the Sellwood Bridge was diagnosed as being too worn-out to allow vehicles of over 10 tons to use, many large vehicle classes lost out. There was significant worry and debate an absolute ban would have placed the Sellwood-Westmoreland area beyond fast fire and emergency response, as the Fire Bureau station on SE Bybee Boulevard at SE 23rd Avenue was under remodeling at the time, and the original plan would have cut Sellwood off from the nearest fire station, on SW Taylor's Ferry Road near SW Terwilliger Boulevard–across the river and up the hill, in Burlingame.

That worry was evenutally assuaged. But one casualty was direct TriMet service to central Sellwood. The TriMet line 40-Tacoma, which ran down SE Tacoma Street and SE McLoughlin Boulevard on its way from downtown via Johns Landing to its ultimate destination, the Milwaukie Transit Center. This route has served Sellwood in that form for decades (also in its original guise as the 40-Johns Landing line). The weight restrictions on the bridge severed this long time link, relegating Sellwood to a status not even Forest Grove has-only reachable by transfer.

Actually, that move was to TriMet's credit. The 70-12th Avenue, a longtime crosstown route with a good amount of service, already serviced the Milwaukie Avenue-SE 13th Avenue-SE 17th Avenue area. What TriMet did was establish the Sellwood Shuttle, a route that more thoroughly served the 13th Avenue-"Antique Row" area and connected with the rest of the route net at the big transfer point at SE Milwaukie Avenue and Powell Boulevard.

But from that time, Sellwood all direct connections to the central core-until now.

Today, in this Rider Alert, the transit agency announces two system enhancements. The first is the new line 41-Tacoma, a route that runs from downtown, down Grand/MLK and McLoughlin Boulevard, west on SE MIlport Road, north on SE 17th Avenue, west on SE Linn Street, north on SE 13th Avenue, then east on SE Tacoma Street, returning to downtown via McLoughlin Boulevard.

The new 41-Tacoma only runs Monday through Friday, from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., though. To provide greater access during all hours of the service day, the line 70-12th Avenue has been enhanced with more early and late service. The first Milwaukie-bound bus leaves Rose Quarter at 5:37 a.m., and the last leaves Rose Quarter at 12:50 a.m., arriving Milwaukie TC at 1:07 a.m. This leaves Sellwood at the end of a transfer during off-peak and weekends, but is better than before, and the changes seem very prudent.

The old line 40-Tacoma has regained its historic name of 40-Johns Landing, and terminates at the downtown Lake Oswego TC.

21 December 2004

[pdx_life] Hollister, Ives, and jimmyhollister.com

Every time I think I've spoken my last on the late Jimmy Hollister, it seems something else comes up.

For one, his old partner, Victor Ives, has established a 'web presence, www.jimmyhollister.com. It's starting small; there are a few pictures of thier television appearances, including three shots of the 1987 Sinister Cinema reunion. Ravenscroft even got the big chair in one. There are a few appearances on KATU-2 that I unfortunately missed whilst young.

He was kind enough to link to my original Jimmy Hollister tribute entry. It's on the Links/Media subpage, click on "One Listener's Reaction".

In one of those bittersweet ironies that qualify the two-sided coin that is human existence, Victor was preparing the website as a present for his long-time friend and performing partner at the time of his death. Jimmy will get the memorial he so richly deserves, from one of those who knew him best.

Absoluetly not to be missed is an audio clip of a bit they did called "Breakfast with the Barclays", which is on the main page at present (dialup customers heads-up: it's about 5.2 MB big). In some of thier best moments, the sit-down comedy team of Hollister and Ives paid homage to the wry, somewhat dry, sometimes corny but always hilarious radio tradition whose best examples were Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding-Bob and Ray, another one of the great acts of 20th century American comedy.

Ray Goulding may not ring any bells amongst the new moderns, but Bob Elliott's son should be known to everyone: he's comedian and actor Chris Elliott (Bob even played his father in some episodes of Chris's surreal comedy series Get A Life!).

Victor Ives has also stayed active in media. He has a committment to old-time radio that could only be that of a fan who's had the opportunity and resources to produce programs with that theme, and has done so for quite some time. His
show Golden Age of Radio has been popular since the 1980's, and still is broadcast in rerun form on USA Radio Network. He has a CV of sorts at www.victorives.com, with links at the bottom of the page so Ives fans can keep up on his career.

You know those actors who cut an interesting presence and then seem to disappear, but really have moved on behind the scenes creating, directing, and producing? They come up with good stuff but you wonder where they've gone. Victor Ives seems like that. For instance, KWBP-32, the local WB station? Victor helped found that. Things like that.

20 December 2004

[design] Woo-hoo! Scandal! InDesign Page-lay-outer uses Quark XPress!

I like cruising the Quark, Inc. website from time to time. For whatever faults Quark and its flagship program, XPress, has, the site is well-designed.

I mean, it'd better be.

Anyway, part of the new, more human, face of Quark (and designers everywhere know whereof I speak) is a sassy little e-newsletter called (wait for it)...Quark Particles (wait, wait...aren't quarks themselves particles? And...oh, ne'mind...). Its rather...studied...irreverence and casualness is rather dear.

Follow this link for an ab-so-lutely scathing article by thier semi-anonymous Editor (semi-anonymous meaning that "Editor" prob'ly isn't his/her real name, but it is a name) documenting how a person composing an InDesign manual actually uses Quark! Wow!

Quick reality check.

InDesign is still the minority platform. Getting to be a rather large minority, but still.

Also, many many printers still insist on a Quark-based workflow. Remember the maxim: Never underestimate an installed base.

So, chances are, many many documents are being composed with Quark. Even, ironically, manuals about InDesign!

Surprise factor: naught.

Like I said: studied irreverence. So dear!

[pdx_airwaves] One More Note About Jimmy Hollister

A dear correspondent has pointed out to me something I"ve noticed that's really kind of sad.

A few days ago, long time Portland radio personality Jimmy Hollister passed away in California. At least KEX put up an obit, but when I tried to Google it up, it wasn't there.

Shame on you, KEX.

For the better part of the last two years, Jimmy had a weekend show on KPAM. Not one single word on KPAM.

Double-shame on you, KPAM. But then a station that broadcasts Sean Hannity can't have all that much pride.

Jimmy provided a warm, friendly voice that caused me to fall in love with Portland and Portland radio when I was but a boy in Silverton. He deserves some due. Would it have hurt you all that much to have mentioned it with a little more reverence? Or at all.

But then that's the way it is, I guess. The Everyman who forms part of the glue that makes our mundane lives connect from moment to moment and gives it its special quality is usually not ever celebrated.

Well, I'll do it. Right here.

18 December 2004

[design, tools] Zehnkatzen in: Quest for Rapidoliners

It will be recalled that, in this post I went on at length with speculation on the future of the Rotring Rapidoliner disposable tech pen.

While I've not found any certain word on the status of the product, I've collected some interesting information along the way.

1: Pariah Burke mentioned that, at the Michael's Arts & Crafts store in Tualatin, Rapidoliners are still available by the each for about $16.00 (this is four dollars more than the Art Media price). There are also refills available (which, if they cost half the price of the full pen as they did at Art Media, then they'll be about $7.00 a toss). He also mentioned a possible mail-order source.

2: I found the Rotring International website. It's here. Click on Products, Drawing, Rapidoliner to see the corporate page about it. There isn't much about buying them except a link to contact the North American distributor.

3: Pril expressed dismay at the notional demise of the product. Word to Pril: I don't know if you saw my followup to your comment, but if you're using that pen for ten years, then I suspect what you have there is a Rapidograph, not a Rapidoliner. The former ususally has an off-white barrel and the cap screws on, the latter is dark red-brown with a red ring on the lower end and is not designed for naught but being discarded after being spent. The Rapidograph is not, as far as I can tell, on the verge of being consigned to the dustbin of art-material history.

Indeed, my reports of the demise of the Rapidoliner may be premature. I am still researching the subject, and will report my findings if, and when, they occur.

PS:Pril, I linked to ya. I must say I like the cut of your jib.

[pdx_airwaves] Portland Radio Air Check

I noticed that in the last day or so I got five hits with the search term "Jimmy Hollister". At least someone is interested; I was a little sad to find that not many people seemed to have many memories of Jimmy's broacasting life here in Portland, and irritated that there were never any details on his death.

Perhaps that means that he died of 'natural' causes. Oh, well.

That caused me to do a bit of a review of the airwaves subjects that have occupied my mind lately. Of the subjects I've pontificated about:

Victor Boc: Nothing new there.

KEX: still the most listenable of the old stalwarts. There are periods when I don't bother tuning over to 1190; fortunately I have other choices at those times. I find it also amusing that the tagline for the listing for Rush Limbaugh says "Be the most intelligent person in the room". I've known Limbaugh listeners, and intellect is never the impression I came away with. Opinionated, yes. That's not a substitute, however. Paul Linnman is ably following Bob Miller's act, and is worth listening to. I still enjoy Tom Martino, though a few nights ago he was promoting this nutritional-therapy doctor fellow who seemed close to quackery.

KPAM:Only two reasons to listen during the weekdays; Bob Miller and Clark Howard. Bob's act presumably hasn't changed much; since I ususally listen to Morning Sedition or Linnman I've never gotten into the Miller on KPAM habit. Clark Howard is, of the two major consumer advocates of the day (the other being Tom Martino) the happy warrior on the side of the little guy, and as opposed to Martino has a 'ducks-in-a-row' approach to protecting yourself.

KPOJ:My most-listened to station. I love Morning Sedition, Riley and Maron have real chemistry, and it takes wit and charm to keep laughing whilst they discuss what they discuss. Al Franken is my current hero, he and Katherine Lampher also have good chemistry and Al has really grown as a talk host. Al's in the theater right now on a USO tour, so Joe Conason is standing in for him. I like Ed Schultz's plain talk, and Randi Rhodes just rocks my world, no question about that. I don't listen to Majority Report as much as I'd like to, and Mike Malloy is most entertaing when in Righteous Anger mode–which, given the activities of the Bush administration, happens often. The only weakness is KPOJ local talent, which is limited to voices borrowed from the other Clear Channel station-KEX-to do the news on the "Northwest Radio News Network". It gives the station something of a 'branch-outlet' feel. But the KPOJ hosts usually mention Portland in fairly glowing terms. Maron was pleasantly astounded when a flock of Portland listeners drove up to Seattle when he did a recent gig, Franken is very good to us, Schultz thinks we rule, and Rhodes always speaks kindly of us. They say there's now 41 stars in the Air America constellation. Who says there's no percentage in telling the truth?

[pcc_life] A Grade-A Website

I tremendously enjoyed doing the PCC CAS111D (Dreamweaver) online course. The instructors were very responsive and helpful, and Peachpit Press is as good a textbook company as anyone could ask for. Replaced a defective CDRom, no questions asked.

Anyway, the website I designed impressed the instructor enough that he asked to include it on his website. Since flattery will get you everywhere with me, I said "hell yes".

Here's a link to my rather nice (if'n I say so myself) Portland Bridge tour:

Sam Klein's Guide to Portland's Bridges

If some things seem a little gratuitous, they are a bit...we were taught a set of basic web skills with Dreamweaver that we were expected to include. I chose multi-event rolloevers as my big marquee bit.

17 December 2004

[net_life] Amazing, Just Where the Times Will Pop Up.

I'll admit it, I'm a small-time fame slut. 'Strewth! every now and then I'll chuck zehnkatzen into Safari's Google search box just to see what comes up.

Suffice it to say I'm no b!X or Jack Bog. However, sometimes, I'll pop up in an unexpected place.


A site calling itself Discount Shopping Dance (tag line: Find it. Buy it. Dance.) has an excerpt and a link to my ZehnKatzen Times on a page of how-to-draw art books.

Me giving advice to people who I'll never meet! How 'net is that?

Anyway, here's the Link:

It's on the left, right across from a book with a red strip down the left hand edge called How To Draw the Human Figure, which I think is an august Walter Foster title. Look for "Lessons in Life Drawing". The print is kinda small.


16 December 2004

[design, tools] Rapidoliners No More?

I love Rotring Rapidoliners. Drafters, artists, and designers know what of what I speak.

For those of you who don't read on.

There is a wonderful tool called the technical pen. These are liquid-ink pens, with sophisticated nibs, that can draw lines of precise dimension. They have tubular points and the point is the dimension of the line. A weight with a wire leading down through the point not only keeps the tube clear but also gives the mechanical motion necessary to cause the ink to flow.

They are wonderful for drawing...and they absolutely must be cared for. A nib clogged by dried ink can be, at the very least, a pain to get clear. But for the quality of the line produced, it's worth the trouble.

The biggest worldwide maker of tech pens is the Rotring (pronounced wrote-RING, it's German and means red ring (think Blaupunkt, which means blue dot, and enough digressing)) company. It originated the famous "Rapidograph" line, of which an American version is made and marketed by Koh-I-Noor. Rotring "ArtPens" are widely available in craft and art-supply stores. And I'm digressiing again.

Tech pens can be expensive to acquire (if you want a better quality point than the steel) and, as mentioned, require maintenance. They've had an alternative, though, the "Rapidoliner". This is a limited range of point sizes (but the most used point sizes) designed to be discarded when done. The complete pen is a heavy plastic barrel and a long insert with a color-coled point (yellow is .35mm, blue .25mm, brown .50, etc). The refill insert is activated simply; remove a plastic spacer-ring, place the insert in the barrel, cap the pen and click it closed. This sends the point home into the ink reservior, activating the pen. Rattling the pen back and forth for a minute or so (a move I call the "Rapidograph shake") causes the ink flow to actually begin, and the pen can then be used. When the ink is exhausted, throw away the insert and get a new one.

Today at Art Media in Clackamas I was looking to replace my lost pens. I found just a handful left in a box marked "DISCONTINUED-50% OFF" and no more on the hangers, and nonoe of the .35mm-my favorite size.

One of the clerks there said he'd heard a lot of dismay over this; the Rapidoliners always sold well. He guessed that the manufacturer was ceasing production on them.

That's quite possible. Entering www.rotring.com into my browser takes me to the home page of "NewellRubbermaid", which seems to be a conglomerate which has done a great deal of aquisitions in the last few years. Rotring was acquired in 1998.
I can't find a corporate website devoted to anything having to do with any Rotring product

It looks as though that Rapidoliners are fading off into the sunset, which is a shame; there are fibre point and other sorts of solid-point pens out there. but there's nothing like drawing with real liquid ink. Finding a substitute for this will be a long search. Possibly fruitless; this is and was a one-of-a-kind product

[blog_life] Amit Explains Mystery Referrers

In a comment to my previous post "The BlogPatrol Report", I wondered aloud how I could get referrers that don't mention me in thier 'blogs anywhere. An astute Indian 'blogger (the sort of Indian who calls Delhi his capital city, that is), Amit Varma, resident of Mumbai (which is what most of America is probably not aware they're calling Bombay these days (crack a book, people!)) thankfully chimes in with the following:
"This happens when someone clicks on "next blog" on the blogger toolbar at the top, and they get taken to a random blog on blogspot. So these sites which supposedly "referred" you don't actually have a link to you, it's just someone clicking that button."

So that explains it. For those who aren't aware or don't usually visit blogger/blogspot, there is a Blogger bar that increases the functionality of it all. There is a Search box to search the individual 'blog (which rarely seems to work right), a "Blog This!" button, and on the far left, a "Get Your Own Blog" button and a "Next Blog" button.

They want to make it as easy as possible for you not only to put up your own sage work but also browse about for other blogs. I suppose the next step is to get census lists and put up blog sites for everyone, because...well, you just never know.

Anyway, that's how I got all those odd referrers. I still will post the most interesting from time to time, as I find the randomness of it all rather amusing and appealing.

Amit, by the way, has one of the sites that mysteriously referred to me: India Uncut, and another interesting site The Middle Stage. Both very interesting and worth a read.

[pdx_airwaves] Jimmy Hollister, resquiat in pacem

I heard over the radio, earlier this morning, about 03h or so, that Jimmy Hollister has passed away. Details are not yet available, the only thing being publicized about it being that he was in California at the time. Jimmy Hollister was 66 years old. Appropriately, I heard the news break on KEX.

He should be regarded as, if not an important part of Portland broadcast history, an important link and a remarkable player in that insular world. I first encountered Jimmy when I was but a neat thing in Silverton, Oregon, and I had gotten my first transistor radio (I'm no fossil, but yes, I got a radio back when the word transistor was part of the marketing). The first station I found was KEX-the 50,000 watt blowtorch of the Pacific Northwest. Barney Keep was the big name then.

Jimmy had a late evening show, if memory serves (and it may not), a two-person act with a gentleman named Victor Ives. Later, he was to replace Barney Keep (not that anyone ever really could) when he retired in the late '70s. By then I had found the wonderfulness that was FM radio of the time and I listened to AM less and less. By the time I'd returned to my AM habit-in the very late '80s, Jimmy was gone from the airwaves, at least around here.

In the meantime though Jimmy had become a fixture on the air...radio and television. See, for a good long time during that time, he and Victor Ives got together to host Portland's late-late-late-late, double-feature B-monster show, appropriately named Sinister Cinema. Lord, I cannot remember what was played, I just knew it was Godawful and that I loved to be scared by it. Victor played himself-or a dapper, urbane, slumming, Dracula-ish (without the Tronsylwayinan accent) vampire version of himself, and Jimmy played Ravenscroft-Victor's hunchbacked, mute companion, with a droop-eye that would have made Shannen Doherty look normal, if they were compared.

Latterly, at least up until 2003, Jimmy had a weekend gig on KPAM. He's not on the KPAM page any more...presumably, being 65, he probably tossed in the towel and headed off into the sunset.

I was just a little saddened by news of Jimmy's death. Certainly by now I understand there's no such thing as immortality; even I know I must someday pass on. But the real sad thing...aside from the loss of an old broadcasting stalwart...is the feeling that the world I grew up in is truly, at long last, beginning to fade into memory-or forgettery, as the case may be.

Goodbye, Jimmy. I hope you find all good things on the other side of the veil. I don't know about a lot of radio listeners, but I will sure miss you.

[design] Debut: QuarkVsInDesign.com

Designer Pariah Burke has finally debuted a site whose aim is to keep the design community (and anyone else who has any sort of interest in the situation) abreast of the battle between the design industry's top applications for dominiance.

QuarkVSInDesign.com is a labor of some considerable effort. It is a testament to how much news is going on in the design world that this site actually began as a category on his personal website, IAmPariah.com. Famously, it has registered the number one and number two hits on Google for the search term "Quark Sucks".

All four of my regular readers may wonder what the fuss is about. Rightly so. What goes on in the design industry is not exactly a general interest topic. But the struggle between Quark, Inc, and Adobe Systems for king of the layout application hill is just as big, in its way, as the struggle between Ford and General Motors for control of the automobile market. Name any two big names in consumer goods that are waging an all-out war for the attention and dollars of the public at large, and the one between Adobe and Quark looms just as large in the high-priced world of design.

In one corner is Quark, which rested on its laurels as the winner of the Quark/PageMaker fight (which PM lost by resting on its laurels), who is playing catch up, offering in-program photo geeking with QuarkVista. In the other is Adobe, who stands for innovation, not dominating the field yet, but unrelenting in its improving InDesign. The CS version has turned heads in a major way, and more and more workflows are going over to it.

Will Quark stanch the flow of customers to Adobe? Will Adobe win? Will Quark, in its desperation to defend its position, actually wind up looking and acting like InDesign?

The answers are not yet. But the story, on QuarkVsInDesign.com, will be one to follow.

[blog_life] The BlogPatrol Report

In which I will, at random intervals, post links that BlogPatrol says are referrers to my 'blog but have no mention of me or my 'blog in them.

Here are the links. Follow them...if you dare. You are on your own, seeker.

1. http://helpmecook.blogspot.com/
2. http://battlestardream.blogspot.com/2004/11/i-need-opinion.htm
3. This one's a real head-scratcher:http://indiauncut.blogspot.com/
4. So's this one:http://livingwordag.blogspot.com/
5. http://gadfly01.blogspot.com/

And, for what it's worth, here's a few searches which pinged me that I find amusing:

"television appearances by enigma and katzen"
"meowth voting republican"
"victor boc fired kpam"
"examples of experimental typeography" (might of worked better if they knew how to spel)

And, the number one ping for now:
"sexy emma watson photos"

You know who she is, dont you? She's the little girl who's played Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter movies up to now. Now, that kid, when she's grown, is going to be one gorgeous woman. When she's grown. Right now she's, what, in middle school (or whatever the hey it is in Great Britain)?

Ew, Ew, Ew. Stay away from my 'blog, whoever you are, or I'm calling the police on you next time. Wierdo.

[blog_life] Blog Worth A Look

Casting about for something to read whilst waiting on the Adobe InDesignCS point update to download (and at 16MB over a dialup link you know I've the time..after this I'm going to start cleaning up the garage), I hit upon the blog of a local who posts under the psuedonym Reformed Pope. It's called City Business Church and it is a rather irreverent report on the goings-on over at the City Bible Church, that huge salvic complex with the twin domes on the north flank of Rocky Butte. You can see it from I-205, best view is in the southbound lanes, coming from the airport.

This is a blog worth reading, IMO. I'm putting it in my links.

I was even moved to leave a comment. Blogger sucked it up and sent it on.

The next screen told me, in big black letters, Your Comment Has Been Saved.

God does move in mysterious ways.

14 December 2004

[sundial_life] This I Do For Me!

Glancing up at the timer I see I've been online for about 13 hours.

I haven't been able to do this for months!

Christmas Break rulz!

[pcc_life] It's A Wrap: Fall Term 2004

With the close of the last Watercolor class today, my Fall Term 2004 experience has come to a regretful close.

I've really had fun with this one. The three classes challenged me and I grew artistically, despite the battle with infection. That alone blew a huge crater in the middle of my term, and if it weren't for understanding instructors I don't think I would have made it.

Certainly the web-based Dreamweaver course helped.

Looking back, I can't say which of them I enjoyed more. Watercolor class actually got me to get out my dam' paints, which I have collected for quite some time (I am an inveterate collector of art matierials (yes, bizarre, I know)) and get them used! there is significant damage to my Alizarin Crimson and Cad Yellow Light, and many of the blues are looking quite used. There is a joy in looking at a watercolor box that has seen service. I now have a clue as to what to do when I get them out, and have lost the intimidation factor. I even use charcoal now (I still hate it).

Life drawing benefitted me greatly. Long ago I made the nai'ive statement to my The Wife[tm] that I'd "like to add light and shadow" to my line drawing. Well, my friends, the big epiphany is, there is no such thing as "line"...at least not the way most beginning artists think. Light defines shadow, and shadow gradates and defines itself, the light, and volume. Learning to see, truly see contrasts, areas of light and shadow, is the one true artistic skill. After that, color. But if you don't have a grasp of light and shadow, I don't really think you can really grow as an artist.

To have artistic talent or training, I am now convinced, carries with it the obligation to develop and grow it, or at least to exercise it in some way. It is an important thing that moves us from being worker drones to actual people and citizens.
This is an internal conclusion; I can't back it up with an explanation, but I am as sure of it as I am that the earth revolves about the Sun.

The Dreamweaver class was a good bit of fun. Being web based (and, due to my anxiousness to learn it already and some prior experience hand-coding) I was able to get ahead early on and the infection and hospital visit didn't put me behind much. My final project was a tour of Portland's Bridges, which I have always been fond of, and now adore even more. It used some things because they had to be used (gratuituous rollover images). I found that frames can actually organize and give a site rationale if they are used in just the right way. I used gratuituous multi-event rollovers but it works somehow.

It was good enough that my instructor of record asked to put a copy of it up on his instructor's website. Got full points for it. I did kind of stress the design. And I am kind of proud of it. May post it independently myself sometime, but I borrowed a lot of images and there may be copyright issues to work out. I plan on gathering my own images, over time.

Next term: only two classes, Geography of Oregon (am salivating at the thought of this one) and something called Computer Concepts I, which oddly is seen by PCC as a Physical Science class. Should be more than a coast but less than, say, solo pyramid building. And then there'll be the last term, Spring Term, the term where I do my ultimate GD courses.

Gotta start thinking about a portfolio....

[design] Downtown Ad Campaign denouement via Yahoo Graphic Design Group

Just to see what other people thought of it, I shared the PDA's downtown ad campaign with members of a Yahoo! group that I am priviledged to be a member of, the Graphic Design Resource Group.

The members are people who are in the industry-either already pro (Pariah Burke, Jeff Fisher, et. al.) or trying to break in (myself) or self employed to various degrees (there are a lot of freelancers). Typically it's a very good read.

The overwhelming impression I got from reading the responses to it was pretty much along the lines that S. Renee Mitchell had. The ads were professional and polished, but the message was muddled with way too much cleverness.

This'll be my own coda on this subject. I find it personally amusing that I find it so fascinating, but when I saw the ads and saw Mitchell's column I realized just what it was about design it is that I find so appealing.

To me, in design, the task is to communicate. But you aren't limited to spoken language. You can educate and inform, enlighten and move, with color, form, picture, and art. It's the most elegant subjective language there is. It's great fun and it's serious work all rolled into one.

I think it's actually quite a high calling.

09 December 2004

[war_news] Someone Had To Say It

SPC. Thomas Wilson, Wed, 8.Dec.2004, at a 'town hall' style opp with a group of our fighting men in Kuwait:

Our soldiers have been fighting in Iraq for coming up on three years. A lot of us are getting ready to move north relatively soon. Our vehicles are not armored. We’re digging pieces of rusted scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass that’s already been shot up, dropped, busted, picking the best out of this scrap to put on our vehicles to take into combat. We do not have proper armament vehicles to carry with us north.

This was widely reported already, of course. The above is from an official DoD transcript of the event, availible here

This was actually the second time he had to say it. The transcript reveals that the assembled soldiers began to applaud when Wilson paused the first time, causing SECDEF to request a repeat of the question.

Rumsfeld was stunned. This was a classic case of sandbagging, not so much because the soldier asked an unpolitic question but because he was utterly unprepared for such an incisive question. I got the idea that SECDEF got outside of his bubble, the one where everything's going okay, and got hit with a good dose of reality.

His reply (which you can read in full and I won't completely excerpt here) was typical hand waving huffing-and-puffing. He didn't reply with a contemptuous attitude, mind, it was respectful in tone, but the reply itself was an insult to the intelligence of anyone who cares about how this war is fought. The part that irritated me the most:

As you know, you go to war with the Army you have. They’re not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time. Since the Iraq conflict began, the Army has been pressing ahead to produce the armor necessary at a rate that they believe – it’s a greatly expanded rate from what existed previously, but a rate that they believe is the rate that is all that can be accomplished at this moment.

Well, we went to war with the "Army we have" three years ago. Just how much time do you all need to get off the dime, Mr Secretary?

Meanwhile, over on Planet Eschaton, Atrios relays the following despatch:

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said yesterday the Army was working as fast as it can and supply is dictated by “a matter of physics, not a matter of money.'’

Jacksonville, Florida-based Armor Holdings last month told the Army it could add armor to as many as 550 of the trucks a month, up from 450 vehicles now, Robert Mecredy, president of the company’s aerospace and defense group said in a telephone interview today.

The above is an excerpt of his excerpt of a report from Bloomberg. Real eye-opening stuff.

So, what do we have here? The SECDEF portrays the military establishment as just working so dam' hard to get our troops what they need, it's physics not money, and we're just doing everything we can (insert handwaving and huffin'n'puffin) to fix the situation; and the only supplier there is for Humvee armor is saying "Well, we can get popping on this, we can increase production right now with no added cost. Nobody's asked us. We're ready when they are."

This is why I don't trust the Administration to lead us to anything but ruin. They lie to us and they don't care. They don't bother to make sure thier facts equal our reality-based reality. They just make stuff up. And they expect us to believe it. And they are quite gobstopped when we don't.

If you aren't rich or Republican connected, you're really on your own today.

08 December 2004

[ORblogs_life] pb rox!

Paul Bausch, the net.god behind ORblogs, is a benevolent ruler. He noted by post about being in Happy Valley (again) and 'splained it to the software. Now I'm back in beautiful Baja Gresham...er, sorry again, Portland.

One of these days I may explore why some people dont feel right if the signs don't match up. Also it just seemed silly to say I was in Happy Valley when I was much closer to Montavilla.

But for the time being, Paul, a public thanks. You do all this for free. It so rawks!

[blog_life] ORblogs Puts Me Back in Happy Valley

I would just like to point out that, despite what ORblogs says, I've not moved. By some bizarre algorithm the location of my blog comes up as "Happy Valley", desipite the fact that I live walking distance from Mall 205.

As everyone knows, that's actually Baja Gresham. Er, Portland.

That said, I love everything about the new redesign. Looks truly and sincerely spiff.

05 December 2004

[us_politics] Gubba say what?

Outgoing Secretary of HHS Tommy Thompson, Friday, 3.Dec.2004:

"For the life of me, I cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply because it is so easy to do."

*blink* Zehnkatzen <= bewildered

Sometimes it isn't what them Republicans say that's scripted that alarms but what they say off the cuff.

This'll give you all something to pray for in church today. For those of you still swimming die Flusse Verleugnung, the country's never been safer, of course.

04 December 2004

[music] Duran Duran Announces Portland Stop

According to the band, a just-released tour schedule has them playing the Rose Garden on 10 March 2005.

I am saving the day.

03 December 2004

[graphic_design] S. Renee Mitchell Knows Design

Ms. Mitchell just wrote a terrific column which has lessons to teach about communicating through design and transmitting a message (available through the Oregonian for free through the month of December-after that, you gotta pay).

So far, in my training, one thing seems plain: communicating through graphics is a challenge in which one balances certain factors. Chief amongst them is a need to get attention, a clever approach, and not obscuring your information with the cleverness of your approach. It can be a struggle, as the column details, and if cleverness wins the struggle, your viewers aren't entertained or informed, but bewildered and maybe a little irritated with you for wasting thier time.

The current Portland Business Alliance's campaign to promote Downtown Portland is a case in which perhaps the need to be eye-catching has muddled the message.

Renee Mitchell:

The approach is big on pictures and short on words. A picture of a tuba reflecting a flying elephant? A man defying gravity in the middle of the lobby of the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall?

I'm sure the concept is creative. Real cutting edge. In an abstract sort of way. But what's the point, again?

These are full-page ads running in newspapers this month. Affixed to the image is a stub from a SmartMeter, and in the corner, in small red print is the tagline Downtown: You Never Know What To Expect.

The main point is, there's this kind of surreal display and clever graphics. The amount of clever tricks and the feeling that there's all an inside joke going on here is so great that it likely just leaves the viewer scratching thier head.

The columnist contacted the PBA and got thier spokesperson on the phone in an attempt to explain the idea behind it. She probably knew she was going to have a bit of a problem when the spokesperson began by saying "Have you ever seen the movie 'Big Fish'?". Mitchell had not.

The rest of the column is very enlightening. It portrays a client who had a short time to get a campaign together and rushed it, came up with a too-clever-and-too-hip-by-half campaign. The messages are multiple and contradictory in some places.

Again, Renee Mitchell:

Another thing, I point out, is that the pictures make me work too hard to figure out what you're trying to sell. The scenes are festive and interesting. But the intended message -- come visit downtown -- is lost in translation.

I shan't excerpt more of the column. If the subject intrigues, then go read it whilst it's free.

But there's a lesson here that my GD instructors taught early on. Your object is to communicate. Nothing in Graphic Design is strictly good (unless you have an epiphany) or strictly bad (unless it makes you want to run screaming); things work or they don't. To the degree the message is obscured, the concept isn't working.

Perhaps they needed some group critiques. It's worked for me.

In the final analysis, if you leave a newspaper columnist-whose job it is to communicate with the written word-bewildered about exactly what you're after with your ad campaign, one can safely say you've missed the mark.

02 December 2004

[germanophilia] German Advent Calendar Trivia Game

Advent calendars are a German tradition. They come in many sizes and qualities, but the all have the same things in common; a holiday-themed graphic on the front, and small doors punched into the board/card/whathaveyou. They can be designed into the graphic or not.

As Christmas approaches, each little door is opened to reveal a small chocolate treat and, in the more pious versions, some biblical verse. They teach as well as heighten anticipation of the coming day for children (of all ages-they *are* kind of fun. They can be found sold locally, if nowhere else, as places like the Edelweiss deli on SE 12th and Powell).

At this link there's a fun little game to play. There is a gingerbread man with numerals scattered at random on it. On each successive day of December, a new trivia question will be found when clicking on the appropriate day.

The action will bring up a little window with a German-themed trivia question. There's no shame in answering wrong; a link will take you to another page that tells about the right answer, or it can be found by exploring the website, Germany-info.org. It's friendly and fun.

There is a place where the surfer can enter a giveaway for tchochkes like mugs and magnets. If you're fortunate enough to live in the greater Washington DC area you are entered for a chance at a tour of the German embassy or an invitiation to an embassy function.

Might not be reason enough to move there, but hey.

01 December 2004

[pdx_media] I Hate KATU News

Trebekkies all over the nation know that, at long last, Ken Jennings, the Original Nice Guy, has been dethroned as 75-time Jeopardy champion.

KATU(2) viewer know it too. And, if you were stupid enough to wach KATU News at 6:30pm, you knew it before the show started.

Message to Steve Dunn and Natali Marmion: Thanks for ruining the surprise for me. What the hell were you thinking? Of course, it was interesting to see how it happened. As I suspected it would, several missteps during the course of the game left him in a vulnerable position at the end, with only about $600 separating him from his second-place challenger. The challenger bet enough to go over Ken's amount by $1, and Ken got the last question wrong.

The question? The category: Companies and Corporations. The Answer: Most of this firm's 70,000 seasonal white-collar employees work only four months a year. The correct Question: What is H&R Block.

Ken guessed FedEx.

I'm glad this KATU crew wasn't around when someone shot J.R. on Dallas. I'm giving up on them for a while.

30 November 2004

[pdx_geography] A First Look At Damascus's City Limits

The following pictures was clipped out of, and slightly altered by me, from the PDF of Damascus's incorporation petition which is available to any member of the public who wishes to view it from the Committee for the Future of Damascus website:

The document includes a map of what was then to be proposed as the city's corporate area. Remarkably, the original concept for the City was to extend it all the way along Highway 212 to Interstate 205, including the commercial and industrial district along that road and the area around the intersection of SE Highway 212 and SE 82nd Drive, historically the center of the area we call the community of Clackamas (I find that most people presume the area around SE 82nd Avenue and Sunnyside Road, adjacent to Clackamas Town Center, as the center of Clackamas. Insofar as commercial activity goes, that may be correct. It wouldn't be the first time a commercial district in an Oregon 'town' has migrated. But Clackamas, historically, is the intersection of Hwy 212 and 82nd Drive. Look that up in your MacArthur. Digressionary brackets end here!)

Anyway, I clipped the document out and Photoshopped in a blue line. The mileage scale is still there so you have an idea of how big the area acutally is. I eyeball it as somewhere in the ten-to-fifteen square mile range. The area is said to contain about 12,000 residents, putting it, as a community of size, somewhere between Newberg (about 17,000) and Dallas (about 9,000). The blue line excludes all areas crosshatched out as "Not Included", therefore, as I interpret this document, that blue line is most likely the new official city limits of Damascus, Oregon.

Note, to the left, how neatly Damascus forms an expansion limit for the City of Happy Valley (so much for Happy Valley's dreams of world domination). We can begin to see how big Happy valley can eventually get. Also notable is the omission of the Boring commercial center and its adjacent area (on the right margin of the map, where Richey Road intersects Highway 212). On the south it just touches the Estacada-Carver Highway (State Hwy 224), on the northeast it contact US 26, but just for a short distance. The northern boundary, with one exception on the northwest corner, is the Multnomah-Clackamas county line, thus hemming Gresham in on the south.

The historic community center of Damascus is the area where Highway 212, SE Foster Road, and SE Sunnyside Road all come together, in the lower left hand area of the city territory. Like many Oregon cities, Damascus is off center.

The most intriguing (and in its quiet way, exciting) is the parts that are crosshatched off. The envisioned extension along Highway 212 toward I205 really gets me thinking about what happened there. At what point was it decided that that area wouldn't make the cut? What factors contributed to the sketching in of those lines? Was there overwhelming opposition in that area of the Sunrise Corridor? And perhaps the coolest thing of all was the fact that this was sketched in by hand at some point in the process. They decided to make a change perhaps at the last minute. Attention wonks: this is not just process, this is change in process, a decision point captured in time. In its own small way, that was history being made. We shouldn't be surprised, I suppose, that in the future, when Damascus thinks to annex land (as cities do from time to time) that they will reach westward toward the freeway.

28 November 2004

[world_politics] The US Acknowledges Election Fraud

Quite an interesting story. After wide evidence of voter fraud and a tainted election, the people (upon whose trust any system truly "of the people" must depend and must be given wholeheartedly) rise up in peaceful protests nationwide. The Supreme Court, taking stock of the situation, proposes an investigation. The legislature issues a vote of no-confidence (non-binding, but hey) in the results. There is word in the air that the elections may be rerun.

Of course, my oh-so-dear commentary above is how the state of the union in Ukraine is going. The Bush Administration, apparently with a straight face, has sternly lectured Ukraine on getting its act together.

Understand this: it doesn't matter whether or not Kerry was denied a rightful victory in Ohio and Florida, at least not in the end. What does matter is that the voting system in our country is full of opportunities for corruption and deceit, from unverifiable "black-box" voting, to challenging of legally-regsistered voters, to Deibold being in the breast pocket of the Bush administration.

The real big deal is that people just shrug and go on when they hear of dodgy voting procedures and elections officials who have conflicts of interest.

I mean, what're ya gonna do in a country where there are such things as "free speech zones"?

27 November 2004

[sundial_life] Notes From the Fray

Olympian Struggle Continues.

At this point Dino Rossi will be certified the winner of the Washingtonian Gubernatorial contest. After a legally-sanctioned recount he's ahead by the incredibly ironic margin of 42 votes.

Christine Gregoire hasn't given up the ship however. The point of contention is the ballots in King County that would most likely go to her, which were rejected due to machine errors (at least that's the way I understand it). It's her right to take it to the courts...any Republican would do the same, sauce for the goose and all.

Shoulda Told The Mom[tm]

Finally got enough free time to fire off an email to my The Mom[tm], who gently hit the roof when I let on that I was in the hospital for three days with the infection without letting her know. Miffed for good reason. That's the problem with crises I have, I submerge myself in them and don't communicate out.

You Can't Get There From Here

Was late to TCWMNBN last night. My route in, the Banfield freeway, was closed at its accesses from I-205/Stark/Washington, forcing me to go up to the Sandy Blvd interchange and then into town. Figured I could get on the slab at Sandy Blvd/Hollywood district, but no, it was closed there too.

There was apparently a nasty-ass accident at about the 33rd Avenue overpass. Car rolled over, probable fatality. The Law saw fit to close the Banfield in both directions from 33rd Avenue out to I-205, and didn't mention it until 22:00, after I would have been at The Job if I would have been there on time.

As Tom Weller once said, Almost any misfortune is preferable to a worse one.. So true.

24 November 2004

[nw_politics] So What's The Big Deal About A Recount?

Hell, in Ohio and Florida, you'd think you're asking them to build a 1:1 scale replica of the Great Wall of China.


With a spoon.

But up in Washington, they're just recounting. And except for one instance where Repubicans sued to prevent King County votes from being counted (on the dubious premise that because the counting machine rejected them they weren't even worth being reviewed), it's gone smoothly, without obvious problems, and largely civilly.

Rossi and Gregoire are behaving themselves as well.

Why couldn't we get to the bottom of the voting frauds in Florida and Ohio this way as well?

It's not a matter of whether or not the results would overturn the election. Not at all. The point is, if there is even the hint of fraud...by intention or by accident, if votes are being thrown out due to 'iffy' circumstances, if absentee votes (including those from overseas from servicemembers who are, presumably, fighting to ensure our way of life continues) are not being counted for whatever reason, then why should I have any faith in the process or the results?

The Democrats and progressives are agitating for recounts-and getting it in Ohio. The Republicans owe it to us as a nation to make the field such that valid recount complaints are getting thier proper redress. As it is, I'm under the impression that the Republican party holds me, as a voter, in contempt until it wants my vote, and after that it's back to normal.

A properly facilitated recount, that would banish any question of fraud, would go a long way toward my assuming good faith on the part of the Republican party.

Hell, they did it in Washington.

23 November 2004

[us_life] Your New Corporate Masters

I once said to my The Wife[tm], after watching something about big business, that I thought that Business would be the downfall of America.

This link will lead you to a story, copyright WESH TV-Channel 2 in Orlando, Florida. The shorter version is this: customers of a certain homebuilder in Central Florida signed contracts to take posession of thier homes. These contracts were a sort of Trojan horse however; they contained a provision that prohibited residents from complaining to anyone at all about badly constructed homes. Not the electronic media, not letters to the editor, not picket signs, not even discussing it with your neighbors. And they are suing thier customers to make sure they know who's in charge here.

It gets better. A group of similarly-aggrieved homeowners had an informal gathering to discuss thier situation...and the company sent a spy to make sure they knew who to go after.

This is appalling. This is why corporations need regulation. People shouldn't have to be expected to be on the lookout for people trying to get them to sign contracts that are intended to make them give up constitutionally-protected freedoms. Such bad-faith on the part of the home builder should not even be countenanced in a moral society.

Free-market kool-aid (amongst others) tell themselves, smugly, that the inherent benefits in ethical behavior are attraction enough for corporations to practice it. A lifetime of being the little guy has taught me opposite; once a business gets big enough, they see you as nothing more than something to control and to pay them what little money you got.

It's going to be a bumpy ride. Watch your connections, scrutinize your contracts, and-all else being equal-refuse to do business with people who won't let you read what they expect you to sign.

Of course, as far as I'm aware, you can't give up your constituional rights in a contract. But do you think these people, who have hundreds of thousands of dollars in future revenue already committed, have the money to fight? Would you?

(NB:Alerted to this travesty by a post at Atrios' blog Eschaton during a daily read)

21 November 2004

[volcano] New Summit ETA

Interesting speculation from the volcano watchers.

First came the estimate that, if the dome growth continues unabated at the current rate, that Mount Saint Helens should regain its 9,677-foot pre-eruption summit height in about a decade, give or take one or two years.

Lately that's been refined. The new word is, that if the dome growth continues at its current rate and does not taper off, residents with a Portland/Vancouver point of view should see it peeking over the rim of the crater in about two years' time.

An' how about that, hey?

I was thinking about the shape and form of the cone, crater, and dome, and realized that we've seen something like this before. It occurs to me that Mount Vesuvius has, with a bit less of the old cone shell, a profile more or less similar to that of Saint Helens.

It will be interesting to see this lava dome resolve into a composite-style shield. Looks like we'll all be learning a lot more about geology before this one's done.

20 November 2004

[beavos_rule] The Game's Over With Eight Minutes To Go

The Ducks have pretty much folded up. Save some unenvisionable deus ex machina, its...put a fork in 'em, friends...they're done.

With about eight minutes to go in regulation play:

Beavers 50 Ducks 21

The Ducks are having thier backsides handed to 'em on a plate. OSU has scored more points than in any CW ever.

And, according to the radio, Duck fans and Beaver fans are starting to wander out of Reser.

These Beavers are a freaking miracle. From a 1-4 start they will finish 6-5, and go to the Sun Bowl. The Ducks are going...home.

Thank God for Derek Anderson.

The announcers are giving those "good sports" praises to the Duck quarterback. The Ducks are playing still, mostly because you don't leave the game before it's done.

[beavos_rule] It's The Third Quarter...

Yes, I knew I said no more posts until after the game, but hot damn! Duck turnover, Beavos take posession after a high-school-grade punt of 4th down, marches downfield to another TD!

Beavers 41 Ducks 21

Momentum is going OSU's way. They're just about to the tipping point where we can say the Ducks have no hope.

But there's still a quarter and a half to go. Miracles are possible.

But that sound the Ducks are probably hearing is El Paso...getting farther and farther away.

The Vitalis SunBowl? They still make Vitalis?

Ducks ball. 4th and 10 at the Beavo 45.

Looks like a good day to be a Beaver.

[beavs_rule] Oregon Tries To Even It Up

Oregon just made a touchdown, aided by a Beav foul. Now Beavs 20 Ducks 14, a 1 posession game, about a minute and a half left in the half, each has 3 timeouts to burn. There'll be more scoring before the half. Beavers have the ball. 3rd and 9 on from thier own 29.

They both want this one, bad. As they should

This'll be the last post on this until after the end of the game. I've got drawing and artwork to do, Dreamweaver work to do, and I still have to get cleaned up.

Ohhhkay, too much sharing.

[beavs_rule] TOUCHDOWN BEAVERS!!!!

Right now it's Beavers 20 Ducks 7.

It has been a hell of a game. And we're only part the way through the first half.

[or_cities] Damascus Roads, or There's A New Town In Town

Something that kind of slipped by in the election day circus is that Oregon has a new city now.

Of course, few cities are actually new. What happened is a group of voters approved a city government to be established which then draws a line around a given area and has authority within that area. The last time this happened was in the 1980s, when a group of people in the urban fringe adjoining Salem on the north finally rendered the unending annexation debate academic. Today, Keizer is a city of about 35,000. Keizer existed long before then, an exurban area centering on the intersection of River Road N and Chemawa Road, but it became a "City", which means a government, control over thier own concerns, and clout of some degree on the political landscape of the region.

Now, we have the City of Damascus, Oregon. Damascus is an area with an approximate center at the spot where State Highway 212 and the bitter ends of SE Foster Road and SE Sunnyside Road converge. It's about 20 miles ESE from Portland city center, as the crow flies. It's been a community since before the turn of the 20th Century, but in an effort to secure some control of its own destiny, a majority of the residents have approved the formation of a city of about 3,000 population.

I like studying cities. It's an outgrowth of my fascination of maps and extends to fascination on growth, patterns of settlement and the shape of the city limits, and how town look at themselves and out at the world around them.

There is, at the present, very very few pariculars on what, exactly the City of Damascus is. No map of the proposed corporate territory, nothing. So I'm frustrated right now, but I've not given up.

But if you follow this link, you'll be taken to an AP story on the KATU website that sums it up just as good as anything else I've found.

[sundial_life] Beavs vs Ducks: Civil Thermonuclear War

There are people who know about this already; The Civil War, Oregon's annual big-college signature rivalry, is setting to get underway. I'm listening on KEX. The pre game show is in full swing.

I am bored silly by sports, except for one thing; Beaver football. One of my many misadventures was an attempt to become an IT professional by attending OSU and majoring in Comp Sci. This was back before they even called it "IT"; everyone studying CS at that time called themselves 'programmers'. But I digress.

This was the early '80s, when OSU was a basketball powerhouse (although never able to get a title, and flirted with #1 in about 1981, I think it was) and the football program was a joke without the funny part attached. Who remembers Joe Avocado...er, Avezzano? I sure do. Mad Magazine joked that OSU and Northwestern should be scheduled to play a game in the Rose Bowl just so the two teams could get a look at the inside.

Despite the fact I never came anywhere close to graduating, OSU got under my skin and remains there to this day. And now, how times have change; the Beav basketball program is hardly the giant that it was, and football...wow. Five bowl games in six seasons. While OSU hasn't quite yet grown into the promise it has showed over the past six years, the Beavs seem to be getting taken a lot more seriously than they used to be.

The Civil War, of course, is the proverbial horse of a different color. I remember, back in the '90s, OSU had a certain pitiful, pathetic season. No wins at all going into the Civil War. They won that one, though, and the next day the Corvallis Gazette-Times had, in 144-point red across the top of the page WE OWN THE STATE! You'd of thought they'd had a winning season. A Civil War victory can make up for a lot of pain.

Anyway, and to bring this back on course, this Civil War is huge. See, two weeks ago, OSU had two games in front of it and had to win both of these last two games to get a bowl invite. UO, on the other hand, had two games and only had to win one.

Then OSU beat Stanford, and UO lost to USC.

Now we have two teams with everything on the line. Not just the state bragging rights, but instead of a winner and loser this time around, one team's season ends today. One team goes on to a bowl, and the other goes home and into history as The One Who Lost.

This is going to be one heck of a game.

It's gut-check time, guys. I'm, of course, for the Beavs.

18 November 2004

[art] Lessons In Life Drawing

Drawing is an interesting beast. Everybody I know wants to do it, almost nobody I know thinks they can.

I believe that, exclusive of natural inclination, desire, or skill, just about anybody can draw (natural inclination meaning aptitude, skill meaning raw ability, and desire meaning, of course, whether or not it's something you really want to do).

The act of drawing is nothing more or less than putting marks on some media (in the main paper, though with the right tool you can draw on anything) with some other media (usually ink/pen and/or pencil/graphite, but you can 'draw' with watercolor, oils, charcoal, &c, &c).

What I find is people get hung up on is that they want to produce something finished. This is understandable in an ineffable way. Since aspiring artists I've known, in effect, want to be able to draw to the skill level they see themselves doing already, they feel as though it's not worth bothering.

And that's a point, actually. It speaks to the 'desire' aspect I mentioned previously. Being able to draw-to create art-is a noble thing. You don't necessarily have to become a hyper-disciplined ascetic to acquire the skill. Some practice is required though. Ever notice how artsy-types carry around those black-covered sketchbooks? They're not full of finished, gallery-licious pieces. Artists try things, experiment, sketch in odd moments. They practice. It's a craft and they gradually master it.

You see, once you've tried something, whether or not it's successful, you've done it once. Since you've done it once, you can do it again. Even if it's a chain of 'failures' (unfair word if not for the context), something is gained from each attempt. We learn the ins and outs of our tools and media, and find what we like to use and find a little of our artistic voice that way. The more we attempt the less it intimidates.

A girl in watercolor class tried a quick self-portrait today. It wasn't the greatest thing, and she tossed it; point is, she did it. Once you've done something once you have some ownership of it. Hopefully she'll go back to it. She's a dance major though, not an art major, so that may not be up her street.

Like I said, desire. Some people are content to watch others create art; some aren't satisfied unless they are making it. It takes all kinds.

Now, I went down that road to go down this one...

At this point, with my experiences, I think what an artist, no matter what the intent or success level, brings to the process is knowing how to look. I was aware of this in my own explorations but with Life Drawing it's really started to gel.

Consider a face-your face, a photo, whatever. You've decided you'd really like to draw it. How do you go about it? How do you represent things?

There's two ways I've gone about it in the past. One is iconically, the other realistically. These are my terms. You may have others.

In the iconic way, we take a scene and attempt to reproduce it by inserting symbols. We think of everything in terms of line and shape. If you're drawing that face and you want to draw, for the sake of argument, one of the eyes, a beginner might lay in a symmetrical lens-shape, draw a circle in the middle for the iris and pupil, and bingo, there you have your eye. Draw another one for the other eye. A set of lines define the nose. The mouth and lips are simply and similarly drawn.

Now, the face has power and many people start with the face and work outward. They sense something isn't right, because...well, maybe the eyes are too far upward. The chin may or may not be the right shap, but the mouth is too close.

The result may be a drawing that may be a perfectly valid experession of art, but isn't what was intended. What was drawn wasn't what was seen but filled in; many things were taken from a standard stock of icons we all carry around inside our heads.

Let's start over with a clean sheet of imaginary paper (imaginary drawings are so much easier to clean up after) and, before we put a pencil to paper, take a few minutes to simply look at our model. Instead of paying attention to form as expressed by line, look for shapes defined by light and dark. One of my favorite places to get an idea of depth and dimension is the nose. We might note, here, that the line of the nose isn't so much defined by the edge of the nose as the edge of the nose is defined by the shadows cast in the orbit of the eye, that deep area between the eye and the bridge of the nose, and the bottom plane of the nose, where the nostrils are.

I've found, in fact, that placing the shadows and dark spots where they seem to belong and standing back fromt the result, the mind will fill in the details. Frequently, the ridge of the nose is close to the same value (lightness/darkness) as the cheek under the eye beyond it (YMMV wrt different lighting). If I fill in the dark values, the darker shapes that are actually there, my perceptive process will almost 'carve out' the other things that I know are there.

Like I said, the face is a powerful thing. Very magnetic.

Now, here's a little rule of proportion that originated with da Vinci, Duerer, and Michelangelo. It will help you place your facial features in the correct places every time.

Picture a fat oval. Draw a line down the center vertically and across the center horizontally. That horizontal line is where your eyes are. Did you know that they eyes are right across the middle of the head (Shannen Doherty notwithstanding)? Discovering this was one of my first points of departure into learning how to see. The mouth is half the distance between the eyes and the chin. The bottom planes of the nose are 1/3 the way up the head from the chin in the direction of the eyes (well, since it's your drawing, you can put the mouth in the forehead if you want, but keep well away from me, Hieronymous, you disturb me).

Between my self-study and my art study over the past three years, I've so far convinced myself that the trick, the real trick of drawing, beyond knowing your media, is drawing what you see. The real skill of an artist is knowing how to look

Here's a few book suggestions for those who are interested:

  • The Joy Of Drawing, by Bill Martin, 1993, Watson-Guptill. A witty, chatty, and brief book that's a basic drawing course. This book reawakened my love of drawing. It teaches shapes, perspectives, all sorts of basic drawing concepts in a friendly, non-intimdiating way. It's pure inspiration and I so love this book I have it with me wherever I go.

  • How To Draw What You See, by Rudy de Reyna, 1970 (ppb ed 1996), Watson-Guptill. Starts you off with the basic forms and shows you that many objects can be based on basic forms just about anybody can draw. Like Joy though it takes you in a bit more of an advanced direction; later chapters explore various media.

  • Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain, by Betty Edwards, Tarcher-Putnam. My edition is 1989 but it's periodically revised and doubtless an updated edition is out by now. Don't let the woodgy title and psychological slant of the beginning of the book put you off; it's mad popular and that's because it's good. Not only does it teach drawing it does so by enlightening the reader on how percpetions develop. Eventually you'll feel your thinking-approach change. This book helps everybody; if you want to draw but think you have no skill, it will open that door; if you want to improve your skill but don't feel as though you have a solid grasp, it'll help you comprehend.

As far as I know, all those books are availible through Powell's and/or Amazon.

17 November 2004

[pdx_life] Are You Ready For Your New, Fashionable District Name?

In case you haven't noticed, the wags and the fashionable set are coming up with new names for familiar places.

I'm not just talking about the awkwardly-named "Pearl District", or the non-historically named "West End". We're really going fashionable.

The area between NW Lovejoy St and the Willamette River has been loosely termed "NoLo". The insiders also know that it's short for North of Lovejoy.

The venerable north Portland peninusla is getting the hip, with-it term of "NoPo".

I think this is a cool trend. In keeping with stealing style from other places, slapping it on our own town and pretending that just by putting it here we've changed it in some ineffable way (hey, Mayor! Chicago called! They want thier motto back!). If stuffy old New York City can dress up the area South of Houston St by calling it SoHo or the Triangle Below Canal by calling it TriBeCa, why not our dowdy old lady? I think we can all look forward to seeing tres namechanges in all of our 'hoods! Visualise the glottal stop at the studly cap and follow along:

Hawthorne hipsters? Welcome to HaTho!

Gateway commuters? Your home should look less drab when you think of it as GaWa!

Mill Park-ers? Welcome to MiPa!-now even Baja Gresham can be cool!

Nobody still has any idea what to do with C.E.N.T.E.R.

Irvingtonians walk tall in IrTo.

Laurelhursters keep it real in LaHu.

Sellwood still doesn't have enough class and has to keep its old name.
Westmoreland can however adopt the quite slimming WeMo.

And the exurbs can join in too! A cow-orker moved recently from Tanasbourne to Lake Oswego. Although we can now say that he moved from TaeBo[1] to LaOs. Altho' he doesn't speak one SE Asian language....

[1] Yes, I know there's no e between the T and the B in Tanasbourne. It's artistic license. I can do this!

16 November 2004

[sundial_life] The Tik-Tok Empire Expands

Our favorite little 24-hour grotty pub and eatery, the Tik-Tok Around The Clock Restaurant And Bar at 112th and SE Division in Portland, has opened a new branch.

It's at 82nd and SE Powell, the restaurant that sits just behind the Seven Eleven store on the corner. That space has held many restaurants over the last decade, notably a branch of Tennessee Red's BBQ, a place calling itself Brix, and the SE location for a family restaurant based in Saint Johns called Our Daily Bread. All operators were notable for putting Oregon Lottery signs up front as a draw.

We'uns plan on going over there one of these days and seeing how the concept transferred. Don't know if the charm of the careworn little place on Division is there, but as long as they keep the formula of 24-hour operation, simple good diner fare, and friendly efficient bartenders up, I don't see how they can fail.

By the way, not long ago I asked Raelynn (the bartender) if she knew anything of the company's history. As it turns out, the Tik-Tok Around The Clock is not a successor in any way to the famous Tik-Tok drive in that was over by the Six Points at Sandy/12th/E Burnside years ago (in the age of places like Yaw's Top Notch). Presumably that's why the official name is different.

13 November 2004

[design] Pariah Burke on Quark 6.5

Pariah's commentary on the 6.5 release is well worth reading, if you care about such things. It covers all the bases.

[or_opinion] Steve Duin...

...gets it right again.

(Column from 4.Nov.04)

[art] On Regenerating Diaries and Sketchbooks

Before I came to 'blogging, I was an inveterate (not invertebrate) (look it up) diarist. I got addicted to it as part of a group of misfits in High School who were not unlike the "other" clique in the Safe Havens comic.

We fancied ourselves a great many things. At the time I fancied myself an 'arthur' (as we said down on the farm). I didn't know jack squat about the "examined life", and couldnt tell Pepys from Peeps. But I liked me my journal.

I've come a ways since then. I think I understand the thing about the examined life, though I don't quite grasp it yet. Also I gave up the "manly" conceit about calling it a "journal". I have fewer illusions these days. I keep/kept a diary.

I had a lot of thoughts about that as I opened an appropriately-sized blank book and started to write again. You see, my current diary volume (enclosed as it was in one of those nifty Oberon leather covers, retail about $60.00) was stolen out of the Subaru as well. I hope they enjoy...oh, never mind.

Anyway, I'm summarizing what happened lately in the first pages. I've not been the most faithful diarist, nor the most steady, but I've done it. The thing I think I have over other people who don't do this is, well, I own more of my past. I feel a little bit more immortal because that will survive me (The Wife[tm] would see to that).

I may be just 1/six billionth of humanity, but I do this thing.

I'm certainly no Pepys, but I'd never give it up. Even if someone steals the last volume I could ever do.

11 November 2004

[planet_politics] Generalissimo Yassir Arafat...

...Is now dead.

However, in view of his recent not-dead status, there will be a watch over the body. Stay tuned to world media for updates on his dead condition.

10 November 2004

[planet_politics] Generalissimo Yassir Arafat....

Is still not dead.

[meme] Catching Up: Two Saturday Slants on Wednesday

I must be getting over my illness. I'm creative enough to follow up to the last two Saturday Slants Pariah posted. I'll try not to make it too staccato.

Number 1, posted about last week, title: Naughty Little Impulse
What is your naughty little impulse never acted upon? Ever wanted to kiss your boss? Do you often feel like telling your mother-in-law that she’s a self-centered, controlling witch—over Thanksgiving Dinner? Do you sometimes feel the compulsion to pick up your man’s dirty socks, which are constantly strewn about the floor irresponsibly, and ball it into his sleeping, snore-opened mouth? Ever wanted to steal something just for the thrill of it? Or is your impulse more along the lines of seducing that hunk from the mail room? Tell us about some naughty impulse you’ve had—or have frequently—and the circumstances surrounding it. This is a classic Saturday Slant revisited from 42 weeks ago.
Well, I've never wanted to kiss my boss....ew.

Actually, I have wanted to steal something just for the hell of it. Or deface something. I'll explain.

All my life I've loved street signs. From the street 'blades' that identify the streets at intersections to that font they use on the freeway signs. Stems from my love of type I suppose but I've been making fake street directional signs ever since I was a kid. Still do as an adult.

There are two things I want to do that I've always had to restrain myself from. Number one:get a "classic" Interstate highway shield. You can tell these quite easily; for many years on both U.S. highway as well as Interstate shields, the standard was to emblazon the state name on the shield, usually above the number. In the case of the Interstate it would be in small caps centered in the top of the lower area, just below the dividing line.

It would be a fine thing to have one of these shields. But it's against the law. Stealing, don't ya know.

The other thing is to make 'edits' to street signs. Ever see those yellow diamond-shaped signs that simply say "PEDESTRIANS"? Wouldn't they be more fun if they said "PEDESTRIANS - 5 POINTS"?

Yeah, yeah, I know. It's all fun and games until somebody gets hurt.

Then, of course, it's just fun.

Number 2, posted two weeks ago, title: Worst Traveling Experience
Whether you were flying back home for the holidays, driving across town for aunt Liz’s wedding, or globe trotting for business, odds are good you’ve experienced something bad. Tell us about your most embarrassing or frustrating travel experience.
A loooong time ago, I was in the Navy. I was stationed in Orlando for training. Training concluded I loaded up my then-new car and started out on the road, driving all the way from Florida to Oregon.

I stopped by my then-stepsisters home in Pensacola for a night. Made note to self: Florida's big. Well, it may be only about 100 miles across, but it seems about 500 miles long. From there I drove across Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and Missouri to Saint Louis.

See, I only had maybe two weeks to get back to Oregon, reconnect to family, then get back out to Idaho for training at a Naval facility out there. And I was already on day two. Tempus was fugiting like mad for me.

About the only thing I took time to do was take a picture of the Gateway Arch. And that film (actually it was one of those funky disc cameras that Kodak came out with in the '80s) was never developed and looong gone.

While I enjoyed the chance to be on my own for some 3,500 miles I had to kick out the jams and get on it so much that I pretty much speeded past all of everything I really ever wanted to see in America. My biggest memory is interminable miles of freeway and driving from Saint Louis, Missouri in two days. The last day was 24 hours of solid driving, from a place in the Nebraska panhandle called Sidney to Salem. I saw Memphis...from I-55. I drove within two miles of Graceland and didn't pull off to look. I took the I-84 cutoff around the northeast side of Salt Lake City, but never came within sight of the place-I've always wanted to see SLC, see the big Mormon temple there. There were snowstorms on the Utah-Idaho border and in the Santiam Pass on State Hwy 22, and I got to experience those-mind you, I was in a '80 VW Rabbit at the time.

I saw so much, but I missed so much more. And I may never have the chance to do that again.

Go to Saturday Slant Central:
The Saturday Slant - New Every Saturday Morning

09 November 2004

[planet_politics] The New Generalissimo Francisco Franco

Arafat's dead.

No, no, he's just resting.

No, he's dead.

Well, we know he's not. But we're going to be burying him just in case we're wrong.

What about his wife?

Well, we'd bury her too only she's in France.

You sure he's not dead?

He's sure acting dead.

But look there, his beard is still growing.


Alright then. Keep an eye on him. Definitely let me know if he moves.

What do we tell the world media?

I dunno. Whatever you want. Tell them he likes Halo 2. That'll keep 'em on thier toes.

[sundial_life] Things You Can Buy At An SF Convention

There's a neat place at OryCon. It's on the 2nd floor of the main part of the hotel, taking up 2/3rds of the big ballroom area (which is usually divided into three big meeting rooms by folding walls). They call it the "dealer's room" (tho' I overheard a man claiming himself a big convention veteran from yonks say they uster call it the "huckster room").

Objects range from the SF to the Wiccan to the SCAish. One good true friend is a man who goes by the name of Shane Harris, in the SCA as Ulf Magnusson. He's very good with metal, as witness below:

It's a hair clip; I like tying my hair back with something interesting and stylish (it's my only real pretention to style, actually). Clicky upon the image to view it larger. The business card will not resolve, so here's the information therein:

Redwolf ltd.
Historically Inspired Jewelry
Shane Harris www.redwolfltd.com (503)332-0832
33470 Chinook Plaza #164
Scappoose, OR 97056

I've made the relevant text into URL and mailto links. Now, the above beauty is $20, which may seem a lot for a hair clip, but when you get one of Shane's products, you get something that's not only stylish and beautiful but something that will last forever.

Fellas, thinking of a unique gift for your lady? Look no further. Anyone who has long hair needs these things. They're made in a variety of configurations and all have semiprecious stones as details (the above is blue agate). Hell, these rock for your own long hair, gents, if you're classy enough to have it, and you will draw compliments. This ugly duck usually does.

I also got another hair clip to replace the imported Siberian birch bark number I lost when our Subaru was entered. It's rectangular, though, not this lovely bouquet-curlique explosion that I loved, but it's good none the less.

Another product we acquired is a game called Chrononauts, by Looney Labs. They have several innovative games that are intensely habit forming, especially check out FLUXX. These are clever and engaging card games. They also have what must be the universal game-piece, called Icehouse pieces. They came up with this cool set of plastic pyramids to play a real time game with no game board, called Icehouse, and soon discoverehttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifd that they adapted themselves to a whole lot of invented games. They are cool people with an interesting outlook on life and you should buy much things from them. Your brain will thank you.

OryCon can empty your wallet. But you won't regret it. Where else can you get stuff this cool?

PS Note: The original title of this post was Things You Can Get At An SF Convention, but when I looked at it a second time, I reacted badly.