27 March 2012

[pdx_liff] Mattress World - Again, It's Not Too Late To Sleep Like A Baby

2795Mattress World is back, at least in spirit, and, at several locations, in fact as well.

Sliding in somewhat under the radar, the business, now under new ownership (Sean Hathaway is mentioned as the owner) with Sherri Hiner along for the journey, boasts a new website (http://mattressworldnorthwest1.tru-m.com/) and seven locations, including Salem and Clackamas, and an evolved name: Mattress World Northwest. 

We wish 'em well. It was heartbreaking to watch Mattress World go down like that.

We hope the get a new URL soon though. That one? Not particularly memorable.

[art] It's Gamblin Torrit Grey Time!

2794The spring is sprung and that means grey, but in more ways than one. Of course, there's that particular Oregon gray, the sky that never stops giving us its water, but for some years now, Portland's own Gamblin Artist Colors does a singular thing.

Gamblin's Torrit Grey is a unique pigment. Every spring, they collect the pigments that are captured by the shops Torit® brand air filtration systems. When you mix all colors together, you don't actually get black … they neutralize and you tend toward gray. And the sum total of the color of all the pigments collected by the Torit are just a little different each time round, depending on what sells, how much of what gets made, and suchlike.

Well, Gamblin has just announced the game is on with the announcement of this year's Torrit Grey contest. Each year, Gamblin distributes tubes of Torrit Grey to art stores throughout the area, and is complementary with purchases of Gamblin products, just for the asking. You create some amazing value-based art with Torrit Grey and enter it in the contest.

Information is available here:


Game on, peoples.

08 March 2012

[PDX_Liff] 61 Seconds At Denny's

2793We couldn't get by without our weekly visits to the Denny's at SE Stark and 105th (you know, the one closest to Mall 205). We love the staff … Cherisse, Samm, Mario, Robyn, Lisa, you know who you are … and when you can't get artisanal coffee in Portlandia, amazingly enough, we do what everyone everywhere else does. We go to the Denny's.

This, then is sometimes the most important 61 seconds of my week.

[art] Muse Art and Design-Earth Safe Finishes Demo at Milepost 5

2792So, yesterday night, The Wife™ and I took part in a demo/workshop put on by Muse Art and Design at the Milepost 5 complex. The subject of interest is a line of art supplies by Earth Safe Finishes (http://earthsafefinishes.com), and we found the whole thing nifty as a rule.

Earth Safe Finishes is a company working in the field of 'green'; the line is different, they say, for two main reasons. First, they're made in the USA, which is always a plus these days, and second (and maybe more important to an individual artist) they boast that they're free of VOC's, or volatile organic compounds. These are the chemicals that allow the paints, mediums, etc to dry quickly by outgassing. For those who are chemical-sensitive they are an active concern.

If they are a concern for any individual, then Earth Safe Finishes products do indeed provide an alternative. They are all non-toxic. They include mediums (including a titan called Fabric Magic, which can do just about anything, it seems) and a line of paints (called colorants but now called pigments) that are very very concentrated. A few drops do go a loooong way.

I used very small amounts of Phthalo Blue, Red, Yellow, and Lampblack to produce this Mona-Lisa-esque work over the two-hour workshop:

The colors are very rich and vibrant and enjoyably workable. The right side of the picture was me playing around with colors and a medium. 

A good time was had by all, and the Musers Marcus, Peter and David were there, and did their own works; I found all three to be skillful artists … albeit with visions running toward the comically disturbing. Good thing I don't have clown issues … and let's leave it there. Susan, led the demo had a sure and informative hand over the proceedings, and the people who showed up were all very affable and friendly.

In short, fun.

[branding] Dollar Shave Club Proves Cheeky Humor Still Sells

2791… well, at least it still sells if you pitch it just so.

In a conversation last night, I overheard someone talking about Dollar Shave Club, that it was apparently a dotcom that sent you just your basic, two-bladed razor for a dollar a month. Skeptical? You bet. But I've seen sillier things sold seriously (Artisanal Pencil Sharpening, anyone?) and anyone who's been on the intertubez for any length of time knows that it really does allow you to fuse things that weren't really 'fusable' before into something that works.

According to this article at Huffington Post*, the entrepreneur behind it, Michael Dubin, was able to mash up direct importing form China and Korea** with the savings that strictly-internet commerce can provide to deliver a free handle, five blades/month of a basic two-bladed men's razor for $1/unit, or $3/month.

What really gets this over-the-hump, however, is the cheeky, dry humor that seems to borrow as much from the sensibility of The Daily Show as it does Saturday Night Live with a dash of National Lampoon. The video, of course, has gone viral. Touching on such things as the quality-price-value proposition, men's grooming over the 20th Century (you're handsome Grandpa just used one blade, and he had polio) lampooning of some trite ad-speak, and even works in how he's improving the economy. Just watch.

The three models offered show a similar wry humor. The DSC's basic model, 'The Humble Twin' boasts that it 'does not front'; the middle-range model, 'The 4X', is good enough for you and your girlfriend; the Cadillac of the line, 'The Executive', 'comes from the future and lives in Outer Space'.

But this startup does exist and will send you blades at prices that make buying your shave at the variety, grocery, and drug store look kind of look a little extravagant. And I enjoy the humor.

Even though I wear a beard. Makes me wish I preferred being clean-shaven.

*I refuse to call it HuffPo. I cry and die inside whenever anyone I know does.
** I, too am a bit conflicted about importing from China and Korea but, on the upside, Alejandra wasn't working last month, and this month, she is. So that's something right there. 

06 March 2012

[maps] Dido Albert Federowich: The Greatest Living American?

2790There's a practice in mapmaking known as copyright trapping. It is set by laying copyright traps. 

Creating maps is something of an odd competition. They usually wage war over features such as design, readability, completeness … the sources of many maps is a matter of public record. If I decided (and many of my friends over time has said I should) to create and publish a map of Portland, I could do so by referring to public records as to what streets have actually been built, historical records which have fallen into the public domain, and, in the case of this town, my extensive street-level experience in it.

That's one way.

The other way would be to buy a Rand McNally map and create my own hand- or digitally-drawn copy. And, since it's the city of Portland, a thing that's open to all, and maps strive for accuracy, it'd be essentially impossible to discern that I got the idea that 82nd Avenue crosses Burnside Street from any freely-available source.

They have called this editing the competition as well, back in the days when maps were distributed through gas stations. Isn't it nifty?

But how to create a map in such a way that lazy cartographers can't get away with stealing your data? Easy. Put a little street it, that people are vanishingly likely to visit, in some out-of-the-way place, and give it a tell-tale name. It pops up in the competition's map and, bingo, you got 'em.

Blogfriend Ben Lukoff (@lukobe on Twittah) who shares a similar Address Nerdery, alerted me to a street named after someone I'd never heard of before … Dido Albert Federowich. I don't know who he was or what he did, but he's important enough to have a street named after him … or did he?
Anyway, as I was scrolling around the west side of the city, the map displayed a rather unusually named street: “Dido Albert Federowich Memorial Drive.” Uh, what now? So, naturally, I googled the name…and discovered that, oddly, there are similarly named streets in several cities…or at least, maps of that city indicate streets of that name in several cities.
I put the string Dido Albert Federowich Memorial Dr into Google maps, and I got 4 hits:
  1. Omaha, Nebraska: A driveway into a park that has baseball diamonds.
  2. Virginia Beach, Virginia: An entry road into a subdivision. If you go into Street View, and position yourself just-so at the intersection with the cross-street leading into that subdivision, you'll see that the street blade calls it Savannah Trail, which is the name of the backbone street of the subdivision, which it presumably is actually an extension to.
  3. Knoxville, Tennessee: an access to a parking lot that apparently serves a park-and-ball-diamond arrangement on the city's southwest side
  4. Pollock Pines, California: a back-road's back road in the Sierra Nevada east of Sacramento
My Google Maps search only turned up those four; the author of this blog posting found several others. 

The presence of DAFM Drive doesn't in and of itself excite so much as finding even one more of them in some other city hundreds of miles away … and I came up with four. What's up with that? Have I just inadvertently inducted myself into a secret society of DAF-followers and soon receive attendant power, prestige and wealth?

Gosh, I sure hope so.

Is it a copyright trap? Or just some pro-cartographers' inside-joke? That is a mystery that I, mah babies, cannot crack. Maybe someone someday will. I'll just enjoy the absurdity for now.

Anyway, Dido Albert Federowich, great unknown American, we salute you, whoever … or whatever … you were. Are. Is. I don't know, really.

04 March 2012

[logo] Rivergrove, Oregon: The City Of Happy Little Trees

2789If you've never heard of Rivergrove, Oregon, then you're just like almost everyone on Earth, slim. And Rivergrove probably likes it like that.

Rivergrove is a very very small city on the north bank of the Tualatin River and on the border of Clackamas and Washington Counties here in Oregon. It's scarcely a mile long and, at most, four or five blocks wide. It clings to the river and both sides of SW Childs Road; there are three roads in and no roads back out (if you don't count the three roads that took you in, of course). If you use I-5 in the area you might go through it every day, but are only in that town for a heartbeat.

It's obviously a city of neighbors; even the city's website is unofficial and volunteer-supported. And it has a logo, or perhaps a sign, that, in its use of simple forms and Peignot as a font, is so datedly-charming that it's gone full-circle into retro:

Of course, I took one look at those trees, and I made an immediate connection:

It looks like them, don't it? Bob Ross inspired those trees. Had to. 

Rivergrove, Oregon; where happy trees go to retire.

Thank The Wife™ for finding this one. She thought it delightful, and she's right; it is.

[net_liff] The Girl Whose Feet Never Touch The Ground

2788Natsumi Hayashi is a young Japanese woman, who puts her super power on display for all the world to see.

Now, as far as polls go, attractive young women are right up there; Japanese moreso. The reason I make that tortured statement is to perhaps overmake the point that, while Natsumi Hayashi is very easy on the eyes generally, what will really make you fall in love with her is her delightfully skewed view, which she can make real and share with you:

She's pioneered what she calls levitation self-portraits, and there are quite a few. They make her seem in her environment, but not part of it. Something entirely un-Earthly and surreal and very wonderful to look at. They amuse the eye and lift the spirit.

She has many of these, whose secret is actually hard work; she sets her camera for auto-fire or has a friend squeeze the trigger, and really just jumps up and down. Out of the up-to-300-and-more photos taken on such a session, chances are, there'll be a few good ones.

It's reality, curated, really.

Her blog is Yowayowa Camera Woman Diary: http://yowayowacamera.com/. Come for the adorable young Japanese lady; stay for the sense of absurd wonder.