30 May 2016

[pdx] Portland 2004 vs Portland 2016: Compare and Contrast

Naturally, having snapshots from back in the day and now currently, even if it's an unadvantageously-lit first-pass, invite comparisons. Here are the two photos, side-by-side orothogonally:

Some comparisons kind of jump out at you. The red brick-colored building there in the front and center, 1 SW Columbia, has a new companion immediately to the right; it's a shiny block of ice now blocking the view of the US Courthouse (the building with the curved roofline); the area of horizon between the Wells Fargo Tower and the Portland Plaza (the two buildings closest to the left of frame) has partially been populated with some of the rash of new apartment towers populating old Portland. You can even see the top of Park Avenue West (it's directly to the left of the flag on top of 1 SW Columbia).

Number and name the changes, friends. Portland's evolving, no matter what we think of it. 

[pdx] Downtown Portland From Marquam Bridge, 2016

In September, 2004, I snapped a picture of City Center Portland from the top deck of the Marquam Bridge, our city's link for I-5 over the Willamette River, south and east from the tall towers of downtown.

It's a wonderful view, but you can only get it, legally as far as I know, in a car travelling at freeway speed. What shoulder there is is perilously small.

The photo went a few places. Back in the day, Radical Russ Belville, who had a weekend show on KPOJ (A moment of silence, please and thank you) used it on his website. A local record-store themed bar opened with the photo on its posters.  Even Jefferson Smith's mayoral campaign of 2012 used it. It was my first real experience with something almost kinda sorta going viral.

There is an interesting commonality to all these uses, but I'll get to that in another post. Note to self.

Anyway, very recently it occurred to me that it's been almost 12 years since that photo was snapped. 12 YEARS, MY FRIENDS. That's three presidential administrations, people, and if you had a kid when that photo was taken, he or she'd be in middle school now. So it occurred to me that it might need an updating.

We tried it this last Sunday. This will serve a first-pass attempt, sadly, the light (as the viewer will note) is not quite bright enough, and certainly not at the level of the 2004 photo. Here it is:

I'll put it on the table right now, I did some photoshop primping in order to bring out the buildings that didn't get the benefit of the light they'd otherwise have had.

But this is Portland, 2016. Changing yet timeless, at once small and big, now the 26th largest city in the United States, and with a battle for its city air going on in more ways than one. Still my hometown.

[liff] Our Hummingbird, Perching

In heraldry, that is to say, the classic school of artistic design of coats of arms, there is a bird called the martlet. It is drawn usually something like this:

Those tufts on the bottom of the bird are where the feet would be, if they were there. Medieval people had funny ideas about fauna. The most likely, to me, legend as to whither the martlet comes from the conjecture that it was inspired by the swift … which probably perched, but few people actually saw it happen, so the popular idea was that they never landed at all.

Which was kind of what I thought about hummingbirds. We have a few hanging about; they're pleasant birds, fun to watch, and scrappy little guys who are not above chasing (and sometimes succeeding) some of the local crows away from the area. I mean, I knew that hummingbirds perched, but I'd never seen one … until this guy:

And that, my friends, is your Marlin Perkins moment for the day. 

04 May 2016

[info] Uber, By The Numbers, 39 Ways

Uber ... love it or hate it, it's hard not to be fascinated by the beast.

Did you know, for instance, if you were an angel investor in Uber and you laid down $20,000, you might be $40,000,000 richer at this point? Or that 20% of drivers are women and 25% are over 50 years old?

Or that, if Uber had to engage its drivers as employees, it would cost Uber $4.1 Billion?

No matter what you think of it (for the record, I'm not a fan), it's an educational trip to get an awareness of the sheer numbers swarming around the phenomenon. This graphic ... 39 Facts About Uber, by Cardude of MisterBeep.com, gives the skinny. The original article is at http://www.misterbeep.com/39-facts-about-uber/.

Made by: Mister Beep

03 May 2016

[pdx] A Review of UKL's The Lathe Of Heaven 45 Years In The Making

One of the more interesting sorts of literary critiques is from those who come to the work late.

The Lathe of Heaven is Ursula K. LeGuin's 1971 masterpiece, a subtext-laden love letter to Oregon and the nature of existence and human affection and love, and the most Portland novel ever written. It clothes its story so well in its setting ... A now-alternate-past version of Portland and northwestern Oregon ... that it's hard to believe that LeGuin wasn't a native Oregonian. It's the novel that caused me to fall in love with her writing, and the way she looks at the world.

At the blog Biblioklept, posted last October, review Edwin Turner posts an intriguing and accessible interpretation of his experience reading the novel for the first time, making a solid case that it's Heather Lelache, not George Orr or Dr. Haber who is the pivotal character of the story. He ends his review thus:
The Lathe of Heaven is a propulsive and intriguing read. I can’t believe I hadn’t read it before now. Great stuff.
To which we say, better late than never.

Read the review at https://biblioklept.org/2015/10/28/a-review-of-ursula-k-le-guins-novel-the-lathe-of-heaven/