29 May 2020

The New-to-us New Camera

3681Well, we all go through transitions and one has come upon us here.

For many years now we've been lensing with a trusty little point-and-shoot job called the Canon PowerShot S100. That camera was a workhorse and never let me down ... until she did.

It's like this: The last several shots were gotten, then we stopped for reasons at the Fred Meyer Stadium store. I saw some likely snaps out the 2nd floor (I posted one taken from the crap camera of the very tablet I'm writing this on ... I have a DigiLand 1032, very low cost but punches well above its weight in just about every category of functionality except that one). What happened was the camera would power on, the lens barrel would extend and then the camera would report LENS ERROR, then power down. Many years of flawless service and then ... splat. That camera's lens barrels are now jammed out, and the camera is essentially useless now, unless we get it repaired.

Since the S100 came out in 2011, that's kind of a non-starter as well.

A good friend, Rick, bestowed upon me a camera he was no longer using; the Canon PowerShot A1200, a camera from slightly before that. Functions fine and takes great shots. Doesn't do as much but is a great bridge. We are grateful for Rick for the boon of this camera; it meant that I didn't have to cut my rate of picture-taking and, going foward, will make a fine adjunct to the range of amateur equipment we have access to.

Thank you again, Rick. A lifesaver you are.

I do still desire a camera that has functions and capabilities in the range of the S100. Calling the used tech places we love, we came up empty-handed here. However ...Stuff, that redoubtable electropawn store on SE 82nd at Otty, did have this little baby, which we have acquired:

Allow me to introduce the Canon PowerShot SX230 HS. This, as the S100 and the A1200, is a 12.1 MPx camera that supplies all the functionality that the S100 did, and  was released about 18 months before the S100 was. It doesn't do Camera Raw, but then, I never used that. One really beautiful thing about it is that it offers 14X optical zoom ... even the S100 only did 5X optical zoom. And that means something to me because I love playing with in-camera effects I can create with zoom. The more optical zoom the better ... digital zoom cuts down the image, but optical zoom gives you all the image at every level.

It also has that great intuitive Canon interface that I already know quite well. I hope to get an S100 (or its equivalent) back into the toolbox at one time. Until that time, though, this looks to have all the chops to become the workhorse I'll always have with me, as the S100 was.

And so it goes.

26 May 2020

Holgate Slough, Corbett and California

Most of the photos I've been exploiting over the last few instalments have been from the picture-taking expedition to the wilds of South Portland. The ideal viewpoint we located was the intersection of SW Corbett Avenue and California Street ... that's where the big downhill grade begins.

It offers gifts in more than one direction, though, it must be said. As witness:

What you can see from there is the Willamette, where it widens out to encompass Ross Island and Hardtack Island, two large gravel bars that would eventually be tied together at the south end to provide a lagoon for Ross Island Sand & Gravel to quarry for all those years. That charming floating home community is lined along the side that becomes what is called Holgate Slough. Of particular note is the blue building perched on the bluff overlooking the river, in the upper right of the frame. The mural on it is famous and the target of many a fellow amateur photog and blogger, and it's on the back side of Wilhelm's Portland Memorial Funeral home. It's reputedly the largest mural in the United States of America.

We journeyed to this corner of town to find street blades with the new South directional; we found none (though those odd brown blades in the South Waterfront continue to annoy in more ways than one). We expected something since the City o'Portland is apparently locked and loaded to run out and slap a decal on all suitable blades and then replace those that need replacing, but nothing. Nada one. So despite the City insisting this be a problem and fixing it nonetheless, we can still go out there and pretend to the preferable reality that it didn't happen. However, looking at the weathered blades at the corner, it's still a known thing that they went from merely worn to instant antiques. Sic transit gloria mundi.

25 May 2020

SW 4th And Harrison

The street blade set caught my eye because there is something so pleasantly urban about the way it contrasts against the new-as-new-can-be building behind it. I also like that the block is 1850, not an even number; an address quirk about Portland I'm happy to say that they can't get rid of.

This is in the part of the city center that's south of SW Market St, which is the 1600 block south of West Burnside. SW Harrison St is three blocks south of that, but instead of a full block it only gets a half block; 1850 instead of 1900.

There's a reason for this, and it has to do with the end of canted downtown blocks, which align to the river, and the part beginning at SW Lincoln St, which is the 2100 block, which runs more cardinally east-west and begins the more cardinally-oriented grid south from there. Lincoln was designated 2000; SW Mill St, one south of Market, was designated 1700; SW Montgomery, 1800, SW Harrison, 1850; SW Hall, 1900; SW College, 1950; SW Jackson, 2000; SW Clifton, 2050. These all occupy a wedge of land which starts narrow on the east and widens as you go west at the point there the grid straightens out, and while the streets continued to march southward at the rate of one every 220 feet, the north-south address blocks on the numbered avenues were stretched to fill by 2 every hundred numbers, to even out at 2100 by the time they, either notionally or physically, crossed Lincoln Street.

Not all of these streets exist on the ground, of course; a great many were erased by urban renewal in the 1960s, construction of the Stadium Freeway and, in some places, ground too steep to build a street on. But it's a fun pattern to suss out.

Trains And Buses, Old Town Portland

The area at the north end of NW 4th Avenue, in the Old Town district, along Hoyt Street and beside the now-former Greyhound Station, is where a lot of transit comes together.

There's a parking lot and staging area for TriMet - this is the north end of our Transit Mall, the north-south axis at the center of the regional transit system which extends, in its current configuration, over a mile through downtown. There's a small building there where the drivers can take their breaks on layovers and just beyond that, if ever there was an icon for a town, there it is ... Union Station.

There's been altogether too many changes in Portland, but that still seems to be the same. It's a gorgeous and lovely building.

The Greyhound station has gone through a change; it suddenly isn't one anymore. Apparently Greyhound has decided it can do without, and ticketing is a few blocks away and the actual stop is just the curbside on a small newer street tucked under the Broadway ramp onto the Steel Bridge called NW Station Way. Sic transit gloria transit. 

The tableau, with its nowhere-somewhere-anywhere feeling, does charm me muchly, however.

24 May 2020

Retro Future, The Way It Used To Be

A little bit of delightful architecture along Corbett Avenue, this one near Hamilton Street:

A little bit of the future the way we thought it would be. I love this architecture; it dates itself as being the sort of futuristic style we thought would be all over the place now, instead of whatever it is we have. And that makes it terribly terribly charming.

I see this and remember that, back in that day, I thought the future would look like that too. So it goes.

OK, City Of Portland, If You Insist

A bit of wry humor from the City O'Portland as far as describing the feature Corbett Avenue goes into from California Avenue north through the Johns Landing area.

Oh, it goes down at about a four or five percent grade about a hundred and fifty feet and then up a little over the course of about half a mile, but, OK, we call it a 'dip' for now.

Heh, heh, heh.

That 10MPH advisory? I'd take that seriously.

22 May 2020

South Portland, And Google Maps Can't Cope

While the new address district of South Portland is an official thing, but it's still not applied to any of the street blades we've seen there, it has apparently broken Google Maps's tiny mind.

The South 'sextant', as it will be recalled, encompasses that part of Portland east of a line formed by Naito Parkway and View Point Terrace, west of the Willamette River, and out to the Multnomah County/Clackamas County line, taking in part of Lair Hill, most all of Johns Landing, and the posh-above-posh estates of Dunthorpe and Riverdale.

Google Maps, though, thinks that the "South" directional extends farther west than it actually does. As in this area around Cap Hwy and SW 30th Avenue:

If Google Maps cruises this blog, we'd like to reassure them that, no, at this point the named streets are Southwest, along with the numbered Avenues. Seeing Carolina spelled out as South Carolina Street is just plain bewildering.

This bemusement extends into the area were everything is actually supposed to be South, which Google Maps can't work out successfully either:

Because we have S Idaho, S Nebraska, and S Florida Streets all crossing Southwest Corbett Avenue and Southwest Macadam Avenue.

Quite an ironic outcome for an evolution that happened because, as they said, geolocating software couldn't cope with the way the addresses were laid out in this area.

I mean, I know we didn't order this side of unintended consequences, yet, here we are.

The Ziggurats From Three Miles Out

This is an edit of the picture previous, that points out three great buildings in Oregon and suggests the grandeur ... human, certainly, but grand nevertheless ... of the cityscape of Portland:

Mostly blocked by the rise that the Lair Hill neighborhood perches upon, you have the Wells Fargo Tower (or one I still think of as the First National Tower), built in the 1970s and still the tallest building on Oregon; in the middle, the KOIN Tower (which still contains the TV station ... you can't count on that sort of thing anymore) and on the right, the US Bancorp Tower (which no longer houses US Bancorp, thus proving the previous parenthetical point).

The views I get are a great amount of the reason I love my hometown as much as I do.

Via Southwest Corbett Avenue

Two days ago we went in search of South Portland. We found that Southwest was still where South was supposed to be, but we did rediscover Corbett Avenue.

Corbett Avenue runs north and south and parallels Naito Parkway and View Point Terrace; it's the fifth street east of that line, but still west of the Willamette River. As of the First of May, 2020, it's South Corbett Avenue, but all the street signs say SW Corbett Avenue. Maybe it's pandemic rules, but all those decals that were supposed to have changed the signs from SW to S haven't appeared yet, not even in the toney-a-la-toney South Waterfront.

As far as we were concerned, we were still in Southwest Portland.

My route for viewpoints intended to take us via SW Macadam Avenue outward then inward via SW Corbett Avenue. I should have indicated a right onto SW Nevada Street but we went up Taylors Ferry Rd to LaView Drive, a narrow, winding way that fairly drips poshness, just like everything on the prosperous west side does, in the way that it does.  LaView winds and corners up hills that goats should be so lucky to climb, then we get to Corbett Avenue.

I love Corbett Avenue. It goes up and down some pretty steep hills, and as some interesting touches to it you won't find in any other town. And here is one reason, one big reason, why I love my hometown so much. You just don't get sight-lines like this in any other city in Oregon:

From the intersection at California Street, Corbett fairly falls down a steep hill down to a low point at Boundary Street, where you can hang a quick ralph for a block and get back over to Macadam, or ascend another hill and go into the thick of the Lair Hill nabe. That hill can be seen in the distance; right up there, above and to the left of where the road disappears again, one sees the bright green of a freeway exit sign, and that's the Corbett Avenue offramp from I-5 northbound (Exit 298, if that helps). But for the fact that I-5 here is below grade, you'd see that, too.

This was a major landmark for traffic reporters during radio's local drive time, back in the day.

Over the top of the hill in the distance, three of Oregon's tallest buildings; that's downtown, and the ziggurat on the right, Big Pink, is at Burnside Street. California Street is the 6900 block south; at 20 blocks to the mile, we're about three and a half miles from that.

The zipline would be insane.

One other unique thing worth noting is how the street splits there. One upper half, one lower half. Two way traffic may or may not be how it's sanctioned, but that's how they locals do it. And all down these streets are the kind of houses George Orr, in The Lathe Of Heaven, survived the destruction and rebirth of the world in. This is the Portland you couldn't have anywhere else.

17 May 2020

Northwest 11th by Powells On Any Given Late Afternoon In The Long Ago

This one tugged at the heartstrings, you know, now that we're all in search of lost time.

The point of view is the units block of NW 11th Avenue, between Couch and Burnside. I'm facing north-northwest. Powell's Books is at my back and on the right. The building you're looking at is called the M Financial Center, which impresses me in as much as I know of no other letter of the alphabet that has so much finance devoted to it.

The intersection in view is that of NW 11th Avenue and Couch St.

NW 11th and Couch is unique amongst Portland intersections is that it is the only place in the city of Portland and indeed the state of Oregon where the so-called 'scramble' crossing is implemented. Couch traffic goes and Couch pedestrians can cross; then 11th Avenue traffic goes and 11th Avenue pedestrians cross; then all traffic on the streets stop and the six cross walks (two for each street and two diagonals crossing the middle) flow. It's an innovative thing and maybe it's the mad dash of everyone toward the Powell's entry on 11th and Couch convinced the city to put it there, I don't know. It's been three years and more since it's been put in and I hear nothing about it being put elsewhere, which is strange in our town where traffic patterns seem disrupted on the basis of wish and whimsy in these latter days.

Indeed, the streets there are so very narrow it's hard to see who, if anyone, is really saving any time by cutting across.

Quite a few years ago, as a teenager in Salem, I remember the city there piloting the idea at the corner of High and Center Streets, and in Salem that makes sense as the street widths there amount to a considerable hike. Surprising therefore that it never caught on there. I guess we love it here, we inscrutable, quirky Portlanders who do things, I guess, just for the sake of being seen doing 'em.

Anyway, that was then and this is now and Powell's is still not opening, not yet. We remain hopeful but understand why this is.

So it goes.

Well, Make A Fruitking Choice Already

Such language in a grocery store!

Well, kid, make your fruitking choice already so we can get the fruitking fruit out of here.

Well, at thirty-three cents a piece we can just fruitking get 'em both, can't we. Man, I can see why Mom comes home all bent out of shape.

Happy PBN Birthday To Me

The Brown Eyed Girl knows me and knows me well. Although I sometimes feel that, in doing my art projects, I'm her art project.

Like I'd mind. She gets me to become the person she sees, I get to play with paint and (pandemic allowing) go to art supply stores, which are pretty much the happiest places on earth. Sounds like a win-win.

It has just been my nth birthday (where n=a number from 1-100 inclusive, though realistically, it's not, say, 14) and when I got home from work, there was this glandularly-large box-shaped thing on the table, and when I got to open it, it was not one thing ... but eight things. Here are those things.

... all the Dimensions PaintWorks PBN project kits I could want for a while. These are simple-yet-involved works which require a bit of time to complete, hard working art working just the way I like it to. As I've pointed out before, I am in love with this brand because it lets you get as sophisticated as you want: the picture on the outside doesn't show the idealized result, it shows the picture as you'll actually complete it, and by introducing you to painterly techniques such as feathering, stippling, and drybrushing, makes it so that you can achieve effects that make them look a bit more than the sum of their parts.

Or you can just skip the fancy-pants painterly stuff and it still looks danged good completed.

I can't say enough nice things about the PaintWorks approach. I just wish there were more of them.

On to the easel.

12 May 2020

PBN Progress Report: Isn't It Romantic?

Last issue, I mentioned returning to PBNs to keep my artistic somatic work going. Used a little clip of what I was working on. But here's the whole thing, in three stages for work-so-far:

When I abandoned it then picked it up again, here's the state:

Pretty subdued and earthy-toned so far. But then more colors come in ...

The fancifulness of the colors begins to really blossom and shine.

The title is Isn't It Romantic?, and I've got to say it is, with the warmth and fantasy is supported by the palette. I'm enjoying it.

07 May 2020

The Paint By Number Life Preserver

The first real post on art in ... well, a while.

For a while I was going great guns with the series from 50 Small Paintings, and was thinking I beat the wall that I usually run into when I try to kick my artist game up to the next level. To be fair to myself, that next level was in sight.

Then I hit number forty-five and ... the engine sputtered, died, and wouldn't start up. The picture is that of an elephant, and it just kind of mocked me. And then I couldn't do it. Then the pandemic hit, and all its psychological centrifugal forces. And just like, that, my habit pancaked and I fell into the hole of too much Candy Crush Saga (we do what we do), too much Facebook posting.

It's a touchy road back, but I started blogging again. Didn't have that much to say, so I made it a sorta-daily photo blog (quite a time to do it, what with Covid-19 reshaping our world). And then, I got out the PBN.

When I started really hitting the freestyle acrylic paintings, I left a last PBN just-started. Isn't It Romantic, a Dimensions Paintworks joint, a fanciful Venetian scene full of saturated color. Well, I didn't have anything but the basic urge left, so I pulled that out, got out the paint pots, and got back to work on it.

It's feeling good, and it's confirming a hypothesis I've long had. It occurred to me that that, like repetitious workouts, when you hit a rocky spot in the road artistically, keeping the motions moving is sometimes enough. I started late on becoming an artist, I wanted to keep going, I need to remain prolific ... but then the old executive dysfunction kicks in and the inertia returns and you just scroll and hit the space bar in social media too much. 

Over the last two days, I've been mixing paints out of the PBN kit, filling in numbered and lettered spaces on the card panel, and getting the sheer joy out of just the physical act of painting which, I think, is at least half the thing of it for me. It's pleasant to work, it's pleasant to work on art. It, in and of itself, is a nourishing thing.

So, I'd suggest to anyone like me who's aspiring to an artistic life to have thier own version of paint-by-number for whatever media they're working in: something that just makes them follow instructions but makes them get out the media and work it, just for the sheer somatic joy of creating an artwork even if there's no particular creativity involved in it. Just working the media is bliss, even if a limited sort.

It's the sort of lesson that may have come late, but at least it came to me. I owe it to myself, and certain others, not to quit on myself now, like I have so very often before. Some motion is better than no motion, and doing something half-assed is better than not doing it at all.

And I'm thinking I can do that elephant painting, maybe this other brush I had here will do the trick.

I'll keep y'all posted.

06 May 2020

Russellville PDX, Where We Try Hard

Russelville is kind of a Miss Congeniality of Portland neighborhoods. We're not particularly noteworthy except, really, as Gresham's gateway to Montavilla; we don't have any notable quirks or brands or atmosphere other than the 70/30 Nitrogen/Oxygen that the planet provides at (for now) no extra cost.

But what we have is guts and know-how and gumption. You try hard ... we try harder. I mean, I could have settled for subscribing to New York magazine but I wasn't happy until I was New Yorker. 

Now, you may be proceeding eastbound on Stark at about SE 100th Avenue. If so, turn around; that's a one-way westbound and you're in for a world of hurt, pal. There. Now that you've stopped driving like an asshole, and you're westbound on Stark as PBOT intended, it has occurred to you that your wealth management isn't stangy enough? Now, wealth management is complicated; you're not expected to know what stang is, really, but you are aware that your portfolio isn't keeping up in the stanginess department.

What to do, what to do?!

Well, if you're at 100th and SE Stark, just look up to the left, pal. Your prayers, which you didn't know you were praying until I told you just now, have been answered.

Yes, in Russellville we try everything harder. Living, playing, your nerves ... everything. 

And so it goes.

03 May 2020

House Under Reconstruction, SE 117th and Washington

SE 117th Ave is a road which connects us to the rest of the world and so we go past the house I'm about to show you fairly often. It looks like it was one of the first out here, when it was all getting gridded out and farms and such; when this was built, our part of Stark was still probably called Base Line Road (after the Willamette Base Line, upon which it was surveyed).

This house is on the northeast corner of SE 117th and Washington. Over the past few weeks we've witnessed a painstaking removal of the veneer of this house, seemingly one board at a time. Now, it looks like the renovators are down to what real-estate agents charmingly call the 'bones':

It do have some good bones. It still looks sturdy and not a little be redoubtable. It's good to see someone rehabbing a structure instead of levelling it and putting in yet another few narrow houses or another apartment silo.

ODOT Updates The Overhead COVID Message

I-205 southbound, milepost 22, today at about 7:15 AM. ODOT's electronic signs, which have been reading STAY HOME SAVE LIVES have updated. Here it is, with a bit of nearly-empty I-205:

STAYING HOME SAVES LIVES KEEP IT UP is a very positive message, considering. The estimate is that Oregon Stay-at-Home has prevented around 70,000 people - that's about one and a half Corvallises or almost one Medford - from being infected. That's smart public action and it's tough for all of us to go through, but if we hadn't, 70,000 Oregonians would be sick or worse because of it.

One of them may have been me. Or you, dear reader.

01 May 2020

At The Dawn Of South Portland On Asbury Barbur Day

Well, we've had about two years now to get our psyches into the idea of a sixth address 'quadrant' (the CoP loves the word sextant but we do not) called South encompassing that long shim of land between a line made up of SW Naito Parkway and SW View Point Terrace on the west and the Willamette River on the east, and we must admit ... we're still not entirely there.

We loved the zero-hundreds, the city-termed leading zero addresses. Of all the quirks a city could come up with to deal with the reality that their west-east division south of the north-south baseline not behaving itself and dawdling off to the east, this was the most charming and the most local. We also, with all charity and no necessary malice, don't entirely buy the reasons the city had for making this change.

But all that's as may be. The decision was decided and the thing has taken its course. Personally, while I like it not, go along with it I will (I mean, it's not as though I have a choice), and have made my peace with it by watching the process and consoling myself with the knowledge that I'm watching the most consequential city address rationale change since the very Great Renaming itself. That was 1931. Almost 90 years is a long run.

In honor of this suspicious occasion, my online friend Michael Long, every bit as much of an Address Nerd as I am, has dubbed this "Asbury Barbur Day", in honor of the man who gave us an unbroken thing that the City o'Portland, in the way cities are time and oft wont to do, strove to fix.

Photo courtesy of Michael Long; used with permission

If the name sounds familiar, it should; that great southwestern gateway to Portland, SW Barbur Boulevard, is eponymous of him. Ironically, the easternmost curl of Barbur, that part east of View Point Terrace and generally between SW Hamilton St and the ramp that sends northbound traffic down Naito Parkway will be ... South Barbur Blvd.

Because if there's anything we Portlanders are, it's consistent as hell.

And so it goes.