31 May 2012

[design] Secret Messages In Packages, Or, How I Know Post Raisin Bran Is America's Cereal

2836.We messed-up people are afflicted with something called pareidolia. This is the psychological act of seeing a significant message in random inputs, like seeing faces on the Moon or Mars, Jesus, Mary and Joseph on a toasted bagel, or a big thumbs-up in the fork between the Willamette and Columbia rivers (squint your eyes, bunky, it's there, trust me).

Last night's weekly to the market gave me food for thought (and untrammeled conspiracy theorizing, when, as we were in the cereal aisle (not isle, that would be a mound of cereal surrounded by water which would not only be soggy but most unpalatable) and, as I turned to look, my fnord detector went off.

I swear, out of the corner of my eye, for just the briefest moment, that raisin-bran-laden spoon resembled this:

Take a look at this …

Do you see it yet? No? How about now?

What about now?


Anyhow, sometimes accidental folds will deliver a wildly different message. Without the fold, Morris likes 9 Lives. But With a fold in the right place?

Turns out his favorite cat food is really "Olives".

Shop wisely, everyone. 

30 May 2012

[design] Mitt Romney for President Of Some Other Country

2835.(Via Talking Points Memo) Breaking news: Newly released screenshot of Romney iPhone app shows he isn't really running for President of the United States, but some heretofore-unheard-of country called …

… "Amercia".

I haven't found it on a map, but I suspect it abuts both Narnia and Westeros.

Maybe. Unless it doesn't.

Mitt Romney: the gift that just won't stop giving, no matter how hard he tries.

29 May 2012

[PDX_liff] A Tomb Opens In Westmoreland

2834.The report at KGW's website calls it An unusual Portland tradition.

Indeed? We had a 24-hour Church of Elvis and slacksters Zoobombing down from Washington Park. We're defined by unusual traditions, so it'd have to be pretty strange, yes?

Well, this qualifies. Every year, on Memorial Day, the tomb of George and Elizabeth Rea, located at Wilhelm Memorial Home, 6705 SE 14th Avenue, opens at 12:30 PM for 90 minutes to the public. You can get the view at KGW, and you've missed this year's, but you know, there's always next year.

I think this is known as becoming a Portland icon over your own dead body.

Yeah, sorry about that.

[art] Leo Dillon Is No Longer With Us

2833.If you had to name, as a member of the reading hoi polloi, you (nothing personal), who had a great influence on the way SF and speculative fiction was looked at through the 60s and 70s, in terms of the gestalt … not only what was written on the page but also what contributed to the general perception, stance, expectation, the indefinable aura about the literature that not only informed the reader opening the usually-thoughtfully, sometimes-phantasmagorically decorated covers off the day but also opened the reader up to the changed environment of the story within. … I don't know who's name you, dear reader would come up with. But I wonder if you'd come up with The Dillons?

The Dillons - Leo and Diane - became one of the most famous illustrative artists of the speculative fiction field, beloved of by more than one author. I met their work through the books of my favorite author, Harlan Ellison; the cover of a copy of Approaching Oblivion, a collection I got through one of those 'get-10-books-for-a-penny' book clubs, was done by then.

If you read paperback SF through the 70s and you got an Ellison book you probably was introduced to The Dillons through the Pyramid Harlan Ellison Uniform series, a line with identically-designed covers different only by the color scheme and the cover art. The books are easy to identify: the name HARLAN ELLISON fills the upper third, designed in a typeface that seems of-the-times, with the counter in the O replaced by the number-in-series of the book itself. After the boldfaced book title and a short tagline takes up the remainder of that upper half, the lower half is reserved for the cover art.

When I'd heard that Leo Dillon had passed away, it gave me cause to think about the effect great cover art has on the reader. A book without cover art or design is fine enough - you're going in for the meat anyway, and some books comport themselves by reputation alone. A book with bad or mismatched cover art is irritating; you feel like you're told a lie just to get you to open a book. But cover art that speaks intimately to the subject matter inside - or at least respect it - makes you ready for the material within. It softens you up in the good way. If you opened Ellison's No Doors, No Windows with any other sort of cover art, I don't know if you'd be as receptive to the contents within. And each one had an easter-egg; somewhere in the cover art was a depiction of Harlan. Some were easier to find (see right) than others. I own six of them: No Doors, No Windows; Gentleman Junkie; Partners in Wonder; Spider Kiss; The Other Glass Teat; Memos From Purgatory.

Leo and Diane Dillon had a real understanding of where Harlan was trying to get to with his strange and wonderful stories. They must have. How else would they come up with cover art that so intimately suits the material? And how else would they get the intense and sincere favor of Ellison, if he didn't think they picked up what he furiously put down?

The Dillons illustrated a lot of speculative fiction works over the years, and their work has won plaudits: at least one Hugo, two Caldecotts, Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame; the list goes on (and is provided by some Wikipedian for your convenience). I feel lessened that such a man is gone.

I've never met them, but I feel for Diane, in as much as I have a lifelong romance with a spouse, as well, and I can't even begin to imagine what life would be like without her.

Leo Dillon, 1933-2012.

27 May 2012

[pdx] Downtown Portland: The Good Old Days Weren't That Long Ago

2832.John Chilson, the esteemable chronicler at the helm of Lost Oregon, has shared an album of what he calls 'Recent Portland Losses'. This is an album of stuff that has been razed in aid of putting something else there.

These were the Rose Friend Apartments.

Rose Friend Apartments Prior to Demolition - May, 2006

They were on the southwest corner of SW Broadway and Jefferson Street.

This was in 2006, just six years ago. What's there now? Take it away, Google Maps

It's a condo and upscale retail tower. Does anyone care what the name is? Given what it replaced, I don't, not really At least they saved the Ladd Carriage House, just in sight to the right of the tower there, rather famously moving it a few blocks west in typical Emmert style, but can we really say what's been put there was better, when this:

Rose Friend Apartments - Courtyard and Entry Arch - May 29, 2006

… seemed just fine?

Can you really blame the people who moan all the time about how something in Portland these days is only worth something if it can be replaced with something else? Can you really say they're moaning? I think they have a point.

Now, I know I'm quite lucky to be able to call myself a Portlander. We have a sense of history here, and despite what's been deleted from the public view in just the last 10 years, we actually have more of our history than most places. I know a guy in Phoenix who laments that whenever anything … anything … is more that 10 years old it gets pulled down in favor of something else.

I think we can do better than we have been though.

This circumlocution actually was in aid of a goal. This album crystallized something for me; when me and The Wife™ returned to Portland after a break in Corvallis, we went downtown as often as we could. You couldn't pry us out of that place. So much charm. There were nifty places and shifty places. There were new places and gritty places. I saw Waiting for Guffman at the old Music Box Theatre, on Yamhill between Broadway and Park. The block of Broadway between Yamhill and Taylor was beautiful with its Fox and Music Box marquees. Anyone remember Barbara Clark, Social Stationer? We browsed there once. Where the Columbia Sportswear store is now used to be a food court business, Metro on Broadway, where all sorts of colorful downtowners would eat.

That's all gone now. Downtown is kind of a sterile thing, a sanitized vision for the office workers and the hotel patrons we seem to lust after in an unseemly way, and the über-prosperous condo dwellers we wish would fill those towers. Downtown Portland looks wonderful, but it's gotten just skin deep.

There's very little there there any more, to kype a thought from Gertrude Stein.

Me and The Wife™ now spend our time in Montavilla, along Hawthorne, places that still have a little soul to them. Foster and Powell, a bit of Woodstock, and our beloved Russelville, which even has a cart pod of its own now. But we almost never go downtown. Why bother?

It's our downtown any more. Not really. It's someone else's.

Did you  know that there used to be an Arctic Circle restaurant on the corner of Broadway and Yamhill, on the first floor of the Jackson Tower? And you could get yourself a bit of soul-satisfying junk food and sit at the big window and watch the Square and Broadway. Nothing like that downtown now, certainly not that's not overpriced and effete. I couldn't picture myself sitting in The Original watching the world go by (and neither could my budget, for that matter).

Sic transit gloria mundi, I suppose. One must live with it.

Here's the rest of the album, from Mr. Chilson. Give him propers; he's an Oregon transplant that loves Oregon history more than most Oregonians I know, and as a native-Oregonian, I say he's doin' a hell of a job.

Here's the link to view the rest: http://www.flickr.com/photos/9807122@N08/sets/72157601847946673/.

What a difference 10 years can make.


2831.We have a certain (well, perhaps a little too unique) affection for KGW-8's meteorologists. Led by The Mighty Zaffino, the First Alert Storm Team (which will be First Alerting the Storm even if there isn't one to Team up on), lays into Cascadian weather with a passion we find quite intimidating.

In all seriousness, the whole crew adopts a very 'scientist's' attitude about it. They must have a passion for the weather from its scientific angle; we've learned a great deal about atmospheric science from them, and when they drill down, it's like watching a kid with a toy who wants to share and show and wow you with everything about it.

But they're the best, really … and I can't but respect a station that had the sheer good sense to hire Rod Hill. We enjoy Nick Allard from The Square in the mornings. And then there's Matt … the weatherman's weatherman. That's why we say …


Make your stickers, mah peeps.

26 May 2012

[art] Is Your Signature Style Killing Your Art?

2830.Being an aspiring artist, I read ere and oft about the importance of finding your individual "voice", mostly expressed as distilling a signature style that can make your work recognizable and then developing that personal métier. This is marketed as a laudable goal on the way to becoming an accomplished artist and, to the beginner and the aspirant, makes some sense.

Eugenia Loli, however, prefers not to:
In my opinion, “finding your personal style” is ARTISTIC DEATH. It doesn’t show maturation, it shows old age. The artist, unable to think differently anymore. The artist, stuck in seeing the world in one way. The artist, doing art for art’s sake without further exploration. The artist, becomes single-dimensional, no matter how complex his artwork is.
She makes a good case in very few words. At least it deserves some consideration, I think: the idea of doing one thing in a certain way for so long that it becomes second nature seems to imply a lack of further development so prima-facie obvious that it requires no proving.

However, I think there is some advantage to having a signature style to go-to, where you can let your inspiration just flow onto the page without thinking about some new way of doing something. Eugenia makes a good point, complete with chewy food for thought, but I think I'll probably stand somewhere between the extremes. I don't think any tool is worth ignoring or disregarding, and I regard a signature style as a tool in the tool box.

Perhaps a third way to think of this is to be ready to lay down your 'personal' style, to keep a watchful eye on what one does as an artist, and if the idea of sameness creeps in to your work, and it becomes more of a chore than a joy, then it's time to do something different for a while. Put away your signature style for a while and come back to it when you're refreshed. What you've found out in the meantime will feed back into that style, and make it more fleshed out, more deep and interesting.

[web_design] 5 Ways To Create User-Friendly Menus

2829.(via Designer Daily) You can have a great, fun, visually quirky and engaging website but there's no using it if your visitors can't get around logically.

The value of this article at Designer Daily isn't so much the observation that a hierarchy and a structure can deliver the most use to the visitor – that should be taken as read by everyone on the Intartubez who uses a website pretty much, well, ever:


Some of the most fun (seriously) I ever had was designing navigation using CSS. That was my CSS epiphany. If you can do that with CSS, then, my man and woman, you can do anything.

24 May 2012

[print] Can A Non-Daily Print Newspaper Be A Paper Of Record?

2828.File this under the rubric The Death Of Print.

The news broke today, via Poynter, that the daily newspaper of Louisiana's largest city, the Times-Picayune, will be cutting back to a three-day-per-week publishing schedule, and doubling down on its online presence and digital media efforts:
Times-Picayune publisher Ashton Phelps Jr. has confirmed that the newspaper will cease daily publication, moving to three days a week in the fall: Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. He also confirmed staff cuts, though he didn’t say how large they will be. The New York Times’ David Carr reported Wednesday night that the paper likely would cease daily publication and that the two managing editors would leave.
This would make New Orleans the largest U.S. city without a daily newspaper. The Times-Picayune, with a circulation of about 155,000 on Sundays and 134,000 weekdays, would be the largest paper in the U.S. to shift to non-daily publication. Its circulation in March 2005, before Hurricane Katrina flooded the city and shrank the city’s population: about 285,000 on Sundays and 257,000 weekdays.
To give some conception of how that compares, the Times-Picayune (serving a city of about 350,000 in the 46th largest metropolitan area in the US) is just about to adopt a similar publishing schedule to the News-Register in McMinnville (population about 35,000, less than one-tenth the size). Picayune, indeed … Times? Not so much.

Not only does this not bode will for print communications, nor does it contain good news for those who don't care to be required to be wired in order to stay informed, this carries implications for the paper's status as New Orelans' 'paper of record'.

There are two ways to interpret that term. A de jure, everyday way to look at it is that it's the paper everyone turns to to record the everyday history of the area. That is the function filled by the major daily papers in every city, which become the written record of the daily history of the area. In Portland this, of course, would be The Oregonian. 

The more formal de facto definition of a newspaper of record is the newspaper in which public records - births, deaths, legal dealings, etc - can be expected to be found. And this has put the T-P in a certain awkward spot.
Reacting to the announcement that The Times-Picayune will be moving from publishing a daily print version to three days a week in print while expanding its online product, Sens. J.P. Morrell and Edwin Murray, both D-New Orleans, said that a state law dealing with its status as the legal journal for state and local government entities in the New Orleans area will change.Murray said by state law legal notices -- such as council meeting minutes, meeting notices, court proceedings, foreclosures, successions, local bills and others -- have to be advertised in the "official journal" and in New Orleans that has been the daily newspaper.
This law will have to be changed plenty-quick or the paper could open itself to legal challenges, the article (amusingly, on the T-P's website Nola.com) notes. This website is mounted by Adavance Publications which, and we'll try not to worry here, also owns The Oregonian. Which has also reduced staff over the past few years.

It can happen, I suppose. After 174 years, The Ann Arbor News, the daily newspaper in the Michigan city (and thus the paper of record under our first definition) ended daily publication entirely back in 2009, replaced by a website. This digital media company has a twice-weekly print version, and is owned by a company who's owned by Advance Publications, who also owns The Oregonian.

Once again, we'll try not to worry.

But you'd better get yourself an iPad, Gramps, it's startin' to look like.

21 May 2012

[transit] Good News for West Salem Bus Riders … More Routes

2827.Have been following the news in transit down in Snailem ever since the peoples decided not to vote the last transit levy, which, in Oregon's third larges city, and the State Capitol, shaved the Cherriots down to a five-day-a-week system.
Which is embarrassing to me, and I Salem's been in my rearview for a very long time, now.
But they seem to be doing some impressive number work. No Saturday service, and they still have to fix the ongoing heartbreak that is the downtown transit mall and the Courhouse Square building, but somehow they're managing to expand service in West Salem, which is creditable, I think.
Routes are going from just three to six new routes, and this includes an express going up and down Wallace Road NW. There will be more service on the flats, and the heights are going to get more service up Glenn Creek and Doaks Ferry Rds NW, but some of the off-peak frequencies - 2 hours - are not exactly anything to scream about. But it's better than it was, and that's what counts.
Here's a link to the PDF.

[design] Photoshop Masking Techniques Everyone Should Know

2826.Can you name them without looking at the app?
In case you can't, here they are:
  1. Magic Wand
  2. Quick Selection
  3. Quick Mask
  4. Lasso/Magnetic Lasso
  5. Eraser
  6. Pen
  7. Layer Mask
  8. Channels
They have various approaches to doing the same thing – selecting things for changing them. Select it, then effect it, goes the maxim. And some are better than others; the eraser is the one the noobs use then abandon as they soon find there are things like the layer mask that allow you non-destructively edit things, so you always have the original to go back to.
While, generally, I personally don't recommend the eraser tool the beauty of Photoshop is that it offers enough tools to do any one thing that you can approach anything the way it works best for you.
I found this nifty article at Spoon Graphics' blog that summarizes it all very nicely:

[liff] In Praise of BeeGees

2825.Today, after the news that Robin Gibb has departed us, I can't help but remember my favorite story about how the BeeGees got started. It has become somewhat of a legend. I'm not really sure if it's true but it's charming and sweet and antic. 
As the legend goes, as lads in Oz, they enjoyed performing at the local moviehouse; just before the show or during the intermission, they'd have this 78 RPM record, and play it, and get up on stage with their little-dude make-believe band and lip-synch the song. And this pleased people, presumably because they were adorable little guys and were giving it their all.

Well, one day, on the way to the cinema, they dropped the record.

It shattered, of course. 

But the boys were troupers. They went up on stage and actually sang. And that went over even bigger and better than the lip-synched song went. And an act was, if not born, certainly germinated. And during the 60s they became popular. And during the 70s … well, they became ridiculously huge. 

I always did like the BeeGees, even though the disco period left me a bit cold. Now, I'm not just saying that to prevent being indicted for ever liking disco. I remember when that stuff came in. And if you weren't part of the moneyed set, just some school kid going to dances, heck … for a while, when it was new, it was innocent fun. All the music seemed peppy, upbeat, not just proud of its synths and airy strings and overproduction, but fairly wallowing in it. You couldn't not get up and dance, even if you were an awkward, weird teenager (who would grow into an awkward, weird adult, so, as you can see, preparation is everything. But that's another program altogether). 
Dark, moody, thoughtful, serious music could wait another day. It will still be there when you're done bein' goofy.
To say that the BeeGees were just disco is to be gravely unjust, however. They were insanely famous for that, and that's true enough. But they had a long road up to that pinnacle. Just before the disco era they were one of the more renowned pop harmony groups, kind of a poor-mans Beatles (poor-man in the good way). And this is kind of a clumsy way of blundering into recommending one of my favorite albums, and one of the better albums done anywhere by anyone … the album that stood at the inflection point between the pop years and the dance years, and that's 1975's Main Course.

This was the album that brought us "Jive Talkin'" and "Nights on Broadway", both of which had about equal parts of melody and lyrics and disco. They are also extremely listenable. The album goes deep and complex and quirky, though, with samples of country and western style ("Country Roads"), soft psychedelia (the almost Jabberwocky-like "Edge of the Universe"), and swaggering sexy-time ("All This Making Love"). The album takes the best of both worlds they straddled and left behind the bad things. 

As I listened to it and got into it, I made peace with my liking of the BeeGees. I suppose the disco era was going to get on everyone's nerves, after a while; after the novelty wore off the truth was, all the songs began to seem derivative, dull, and tedious. There's only so much movin' you can get out of cymbals, a back beat, and airy strings.

But Main Course … that's some satisfying music. Almost experimental in a couple of places, by a band who was unafraid of what they were doing and ready to take off, whether they knew it was going to work or not. 

I believe this album got on one of those Albums-You-Must-Listen-To-Before-You-Die lists.

It earned the place.

RIP, Robin Gibb, 1943-2012. 

20 May 2012

[map] 1,012 Years Of European Boundary Changes In 2 Minutes and 33 Seconds

2824.When I was a kid I got the standard, substandard American training in world history, meaning that, here in Oregon, it was all Oregon Trail (this was pre "you died of dysentery") with the occasional dash of Lewis & Clark, numerous attempts to correctly pronounce "Champoeg", and periodic field trips to the Oregon Capitol Building (which provided me with a love of architecture but not much of history). As far as American, US, and world history, I'm pretty much an autodidact.

When I started reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, I was still not completely clear on the fact that international boundaries are not permanent verities, although the 1990s really started to change that, at least insofar as the Germanies could reunite. Reading the history of Nazi Germany, with its de facto boundary changes due to out-and-out annexations (Austria, the reattachment of east Prussia, and such) was a real lesson for me.

Someone, somwhere, somehow, has done a huge service, though, by taking all the European boundary changes from the year 1000 CE to the present day and animating them. It's a flawed production: there should have been an animated timeline, and the colors that change are not defined. But to watch the boundaries fluctuate over time is quite compelling. If you're familiar with such things as the Holy Roman Empire (which was only Holy and Roman in that it was beholden to Rome; it was actually a German empire), the Ottoman Empire, the growth and decay of Lithuania and the numerous divisions of Poland, you'll have some idea of what's going on and when.

I was also surprised, by the by, when I found that, for a time, Rome belonged to the French. Like I said, I got the standard American education in history.

All that being said, the video.

18 May 2012

[OR_liff] 30 Minutes on Mass Transit in Oregon

2823.This also speaks to mapping and information design, as well as being just darned interesting.

Before I quit the computer for the day, my wandering eye happened on this article at The Atlantic, titled "30 Minutes on Mass Transit in 20 World Cities": http://www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/2012/05/30-minutes-transit-20-world-cities/2033/. It is what it says it is, but it gives you a concrete idea by diagramming it against maps of those 20 world cities.

Alas … this is one list Portland did not make. Didn't anyone tell them we were hip?

The maps in The Atlantic's article were generated using an interactive tool called "Mapnificent". Mapnificent allows you to zoom in on any city featured and, via a simple graphic slider, choose your time span. Three Oregon transit systems opened their secrets to Mapnificient, and they are, of course, Portland (TriMet), Salem (Cherriots) and Eugene (LTD). Here is Mapnificent's idea of how far you can get in Portland in 30 minutes on TriMet, starting from Pioneer Square:

Here's Eugene, on LTD, point of departure being Eugene Station (the block between 10th and 11th Avenues and Willamette and Olive Streets):

And Salem on Cherriots, departing from the Courthouse Square block, between Chemeketa, High, Court, and Church Streets NE (Mon-Fri only … Salem you are awesome!):

The intriguing part is the discontinuities on the smaller cities' diagrams. One can only assume that schedule information is a little incomplete, or the data set is elided due to some sort of express route or lack of stops along certain streets in certain areas.

The tool is located at http://www.mapnificent.net/. You can watch a short instructional video or just zoom in to the city of your choice, click on the marker, and use the slider to your hearts content. The interface is rather self-explanatory.

[pdx] Address Nerd™ Mystery Theatre: The Case of the Henry Thiele Waffle Club

2822.Got sent something that was a real stumper, folks, in a good way … but still inscrutable.

Got an email a couple of days ago from one David Buettner, who had stumbled upon this chronicle in aid of trying to untangle a mystery.

Everyone with a smattering of Portland history (especially of the culinary kind) has probably heard of Henry Thiele. Henry's was a restaurant that was lodged in the point at the five-cornered intersection that was where NW Westover Road met up with West Burnside Street, NW 23rd Avenue, and SW Vista Avenue. It was a landmark in architecture (see this picture) as well as in food (the German-style pancakes were reportedly legend). But the history of Portland has it writ large that Henry's was at NW Westover and West Burnside.

But then David throws me a curveball, looking like this:

photo courtesy David Buettner

This, I'm told by David, is the back of a small mirror, advertising (rather scrumptiously) the Henry Thiele Waffle Club of all things. The history of Henry Thiele is, sadly, something not much written, if at all; the part that says he had a location on SW 10th Avenue or SW 11th Avenue is pretty much invisible.

My particular task was to help David figure out where those address might have been. Remember the old Portland address pattern, on which I've commented oft perforce &c &c, and you'll remember that any numbered street without a directional is south of Ankeny/Burnside/Washington; this would therefore put this in what we would say is the downtown core today; SW 10th Avenue was '10th Street' and SW 11th Avenue was '11th Street' prior to the Great Renaming of 1930.

Moreover, the building numbers amounted to 20-to-the-block, instead of today's 100-to-the-block. So 107 - 10th Street actually winds up, most likely, being between Alder and Washington or between Stark and Washington. So, we have an idea of where that address might lie, down to about a 1-block possibility.

But again, the real thing that's making us grind our teeth here is that we simply cannot find any trace, so far, of the existence of anything called the Henry Thiele Waffle Club. Particularly intriguing is the dual address on adjacent streets which could suggest a business which fronted on two downtown streets.

Anyhow, this is a call for any history-addicted Portlander or Address Nerd to come to the aid of his … country … or something. Does anyone who might stop by here know anything about Henry Thiele Waffle Club? Any information would be gratitudinous, and is meant to be shared. Here's a chance for us to explore a corner of Portland history heretofore unexplored.

Into Henry Thiele With Gun and Camera, as 'twere.

Leave your exploratory notes in the comments, bitte sehr.

17 May 2012

[art_liff] Shaun Tan Makes An Excellent Gift Idea

2821.The real dear gift was from The Wife™ who knows my number, too.

I am a huge fan of Shaun Tan. I am a late arrival to that party, sadly, because his books generally get marketed to children, but he's a fantasist on the level of, say, a Harlan Ellison, but one who wields a pencil with the same gusto and sense of surreality that he does with his words.

Many of you already know of his wondrous book The Arrival, and if you don't you should. It's not just an immigrant's experience, it's the immigrant experience, portrayed in a world that is fantastical and phantasmagorical in its way, wondrous and cool, with vistas open to great colossi and geometric cities that can't exist but do in this world. It tells its story without words, but tells it clearly enough.

Surf this link to see pictures from the book: http://www.shauntan.net/books/the-arrival.html. Tell me this man isn't God's gift to the pencil. The incredible imagination and deep humanity blazes fort from every page.

Shaun Tan has forgotten more than all my other favorite artists have known about illustration. 

[liff] With Artists Like These, Who Needs Normal Friends?

2820.A particularly valued gift given me this birthday cycle involves a sketch by Jess Warren of Borked Planet. She certainly has my number:

I got good friends.

[OR_liff] State Of Jefferson In Eclipse This Weekend

On this coming Sunday, there'll be an annular eclipse of the Sun that'll be the first North American continental eclipse of the 21st Century. Sometime around 4:45 PM, the shadow will pass onto the American mainland near the Oregon-California border. Oregon will be within its shadow, but only the southwestern corner - Curry, Josephine, Jackson counties.

This Google Maps interactive map view is mounted by NASA and available here.

An annular eclipse is, as the science writer for the HuffPo accurately put, no match for a total solar eclipse. When the event is fully on, due to the variations of distance from Earth that the Moon has, the Moon is far enough away so that it covers almost all of the Sun's disk, leaving a 'ring of fire' (as they dramatically like to call it) which throws enough light that, if you didn't know there was an eclipse, you probably wouldn't be aware. It's like a partial solar eclipse really.

So if you're looking for some real solar eclipse action and your here in the Portland Metro, I wouldn't haul ass to Grass Pants unless you're a real sky geek. If you're looking for that, it's going to happen on Monday, the 21st of August, 2017. The totality will cover an area from just south of Newberg to about Monroe, and the middle of the shadow will cross I-5 at around 10:15 AM PDT (9:15 AM PST)

But, this coming Sunday, the state of Jefferson will be in partial darkness, but there are some I know that say that it doesn't take an eclipse for that to happen down there.

16 May 2012

[design] Recycle Bocce Balls Here Please, Or Something

2818.Well, it's either this interpretation …

… or it's a Bocce ball recycling station. What english on that ball!

[pdx_liff] Democracy In Action, May 15th 2012

2817.Dateline: Midland Branch of the Multnomah County Library, ballot drop station, volunteers hard at work, 7:57 pm (three minutes before poll closing time) on the 15th of May 2012.

They are volunteers, and where would we be without them?

And now we have a run off race between Smith and Hales, and the fun really begins here.

15 May 2012

[net_liff] Google Chrome, Now With Built-In Tab Synching

2816.The new Google Chrome, Chrome 19, is in the stable channel, and what got my attention was that they have apparently brought tab synching to the browser. This is supposed to mean that no matter where you are, on what computer, whenever you use Chrome you have the same tabs on any session on any computer you use. Your browser follows you everywhere.

This'll probably have two reactions depending on how you see Google; for those who aren't down with the seemingly-ever-increasing amount of information Google collects on you to make your online experience as unified as possible, there will be a search on how to turn that off; to those who don't mind or don't care … and judging by how well Google still seems to be perceived or how popular Chrome seems to be, that's an ass-ton of us … it'll be a boon.

And here's TechCrunch's article: http://techcrunch.com/2012/05/15/chrome-19-launches-now-features-built-in-tab-syncing/

09 May 2012

[pdx_liff] Are There Mutant Ducks In Laurelhurst Park?

2814.Well, no … not if you don't feed them, anyway.

Earlier today we repaired to the park to take in the waning day and enjoy a light lunch. The money the City's spent to rehab the pond in Laurelhurst Park has been well spent; ducks enjoy it mightily, and clouds of tireless swifts clear the air of irritating bugs. It's a very pleasant place.

But as you may or may not know, the City's concerned that we keep the Pond clear of everything that we don't need there; feeding the ducks will bring in matter they don't need, and threaten the rehab that's been accomplished there.

This is what it looks like these days …

But wait … what's that sign here?

Either we've got a freelancer working there, or the City isn't being forthcoming about what they're doing over there.

Either way, we took a longer look. Swimming a short distance away were two of the Ducks Whom Must Not Be Fed:

And here's a closer look:

Well, they don't seem mutated.


The truth isn't out there.

The truth is in there.

Unless it isn't, of course.

08 May 2012

[zehnkatzen] The Portland Marquam Bridge Skyline Picture Has Jefferson Smith's Back

2813.When a particularly beloved progeny goes on TV, there's always a moment of swelling pride. Now, some know this photo, and it has gone round the world a couple of times (sadly, not always permitted). Back in January, though, I reached an agreement with the Jefferson Smith for Mayor campaign to license the photo for use.

This, of course, is that photo:

It went on a few posters, which made me rather extremely happy. But in the latest campaign spot for Jefferson, my happiness meter pretty much pegged. Not just because it's a darned fine spot, and Jefferson looks very good in it, but the graphic backing up the titles going in and coming out should look very familiar.

Here they are in freeze frame:

… there was the intro, and here's the outro:

Jefferson Smith is a great candidate, and will make a good Mayor. I did license this photo to the campaign, but when it comes to politics, I don't just license these things out to just anyone.

05 May 2012

[net_liff] Mahtab Zargari and the Yoda Soda

2812.I've rhapsodized at length about Mahtab in the past. If you've not been introduced, let me explain.

Mahtab Zargari is this precocious little 8-year old girl who has a passion for food. Yes, I know, what kid doesn't? But, unlike most kids, she makes the greatest little show out of it.

Mahtab's Big Kid Cooking Show is now at 11 episodes; she's covered things like making hummus wraps (yes, and "Yoda Soda") in the little-kid way but with a big-kid approach and a comfortability with the camera that is unmistakable. It's hard not to be sweet on young ladies, but I say, sirra, if you don't fall for Mahtab and her food act, then you must have a heart of stone. You must.

Here, after a too-long wait, is the anticipated 11th ep of Big Kid Cooking Show, where she assembles a glass of Yoda Soda from the Star Wars Cookbook.

It's easy to use gentle terms to describe her act … adorable, sweet, cute all come to mind, and they're all, in their way, true. However, Mahtab's got more going for her than just being a charming young lady. It's also easy to dish off a term like passionate, but how many 8-year-olds have you heard of that are still starring in such a charming series of Internet shorts that they've been doing since they were four?

She's literally been doing this for half her life. In this ADHD world, that's not just an achievement, it's a minor miracle.

And that's why I'm still sweet on little Mahtab. Assisted by her doting dad, she's a picture-perfect example of someone who's lucky enough to find her passion early. She plainly enjoys what she's doing, and when she speaks to the camera, it's like a friend is speaking to you.

We know not what this bespectacled gem has up her sleeve for the future, but we presume that what she wants, she'll pretty much get.

If you want to see the previous 10 episodes in the series, look here: http://bigkidcookingshow.podbean.com/ . She has a Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/mahtabzargari, and yes, you should like it. 

03 May 2012

[pdx] An Animated GIF for Jefferson Smith

2811This is as close to political I'll get on this blog, however, I do have an animated GIF supporting Jefferson Smith, If you're supporting Jefferson, you're welcome to help yourself to it and spread it around.

I do like Jefferson, and he is eminently quotable.

Download the GIF as a GIF, remember. If you download it as JPEG, there's no animation. Click on it to embiggen (it'll look better that way) and then you can download.

There ya go, buckos. Share away.

Thanks to Carla Axtman (http://twitter.com/carlaaxt) for the quote and the graphic, and Jefferson's campaign on the Book of Face is at (https://www.facebook.com/forwardwithjeffersonsmith) and on Twittah at (http://twitter.com/Jefferson4PDX)