28 August 2020

Pentimento Mori: Brenda's Lamy CP-1 Fountain Pen


A reveal, if we please. 

I do enjoy writing in fountain pen, and as I've testified before, I adore handwriting. I have a Kaweco Perkeo, as also noted before, in old chambray colors that we got me a couple of years back at Little Otsu down on SE Division in the toney section of town, still, it's a lovely store and if you're as finicky about your writing tools as I am, believe me, it's right up your street too. 

But this wasn't Little Otsu that that is complicit here but Oblation Papers & Press over off NW 12th and Glisan, as I also detailed in a posting even more recently. 

Babble babble, let's get back on course. We visited Oblation because we were certain we'd find the exact brand of ink cartridge we'd need for a very very special fountain pen. Here, then, is that pen.

This is the Lamy CP-1. Its aspect was created by the German industrial designer Gerd Müller in the mid 1970s, and this is a pen from that era. Its simplicity and practical design make it timeless and it does have a comfortable feel and heft. The small box of cartridges is the Lamy T-10, $5 for a box of 5; that metal cylinder is the pen's converter, a thing I can load ink in and use instead of a cartridge. This particular one is a bit of an oddity: instead of a piston you'd use to load it up, there is a bit of spring metal there that you use to compress the clear plastic bladder, then releasing it allows the bladder to re-expand, pulling ink in. They called this an 'aerometric' converter, and it, according to the reviews I've seen, didn't work so well maybe.

It was given to a rather artistic friend of mine named Brenda who has bequeathed it unto me since she has my number in so many ways. It additionally was sent on to me since Brenda is, and I think she would think amiss if I pussy-footed around the thing, dying. 

I value this object. Because it's a pen, a fountain pen, a fountain pen from an artist who sees it as an object of art as well as an artistic tool, a fountain pen with a history beginning in New York City and ending, for now, with me, and it was given to me to create whatever art I can with it and was given to me as an aspiring artist who has art for it in mind, and will continue to use it even after the original artist has drawn beyond us - has died. 

All of a sudden, the idea of someone surviving beyond death as something changed doesn't seem like such an abstraction. 

At this point the pen is in the stage of being pressed back into service after being stored for a while. Anyone who's done same will probably relate. It requires a bit of water, as the ink is water-soluble, and it's in a stubborn period where it will write for a while and then stop for a while too. It's making me earn its respect. I've been there before, and I have a promise to keep, so I'll keep working at it. 

I do rather wish Brenda could have been with us to Oblation. I think she would have loved that place. I know I do. And Brenda is still with us for a little while longer and I want her to know that yes, it's going to be used and pressed into service and be valued. A love letter to the future from the past, even.

So it goes.

26 August 2020

They Sell Actual Typewriters at Oblation Papers and Press


We sallied forth in search of fountain pen cartridges.

I don't make a huge deal of it here but I am fond of fountain pens for a bunch of reasons, some of them intellectual (Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty-Four, the author seems to make pointed note of, uses a dip or fountain pain in writing his illicit diary) but most of them sensual (handwriting aficionados probably have a gut feeling for what I just now laid down, and I hope it's a solid ASMR hit, too). I have a Kaweco Perkeo in the Old Chambray color style, and have had a lot of happy fun writing with the Preppy Platinum fountain pen, a low-cost, good-quality, high-value way of satisfying your fountain pen writing jones on the cheap.

Birbs, they haz them too.
Recently I was sent a vintage fountain pen by a beloved friend as a memento. It's neither of the above brands and needs a proprietary-design ink cartridge, and in this world where everything seems to fall out of the sky if you ask the right way this was a bit harder to locate. 

But this is Portland, Oregon, and we do stuff artistically AF, yo, so, no, finding this sort of thing is hardly impossible and led us down a very delightful path which ended at a place at 516 NW 12th Avenue called Oblation Papers & Press

This is a worthwhile place to be for anyone who loves letterpress, old-school printing, stationery and pens and pencils. They have it all there from Mont Blanc pens to Blackwing pencils ... and they had what I'm looking for, the Lamy T-10 ink cartridge. Sadly, the darkest Lamy ink is only blue-black, and I much prefer the absolutest black ink I can find, but the quality is quite nice and I won't mind this.

They have a great many paper products, all very artisanal (and I mean this is in the good, not my usual sarcastic way). They do custom jobs for special occaisions ... and they have this, which had me over the moon: honest-to-goodness typewriters. 

Now, mind you, those old-school presses in the back there got my attention as well, but I couldn't get all drooly over those. Just as well. All the typewriters seen  here are on sale, and one can go right up to them and give 'em a few test hunt'n'pecks if they are so inclined.

Prices? Well, technology being what it is, actual mechanical typewriters are a thing of vintage, and these are priced to match. The days of finding a retired typewriter at the stack at the back of the Goodwill store for five to ten bucks are long, long gone, my friends. These are all lovingly refurbished and run about $100 and up. 

But if it's a vintage typewriter you're looking for, you'll get what you pay for. The picture below is a model that caught my eye because it looks like one of the models that L. Ron Hubbard used to brag about wearing out because he typed on them so hard. What's really eye-catching about this one is the keys that show this was obviously produced for a certain European market, with a QWERTY keyboard but with an Å next to the P and a Æ with an Ø to the right of the L.

Danish, Norwegian, Faroese, Wikipedia tells me. 

We weren't able to stay long but we'd like to be going back here I think, and I'll be taking more pictures at a later time perhaps. It's around the corner from Portland's Dick Blick store, so those who want to spend a leisurely afternoon with upscale art supplies ... well, here's your place.

They sell actual typewriters at Oblation Papers & Press.

Because this is Portland, and that's what we do here.

24 August 2020

Silverton, Oregon, Within Her Borders Of 1922


Today has been productive when it comes to serendipitously finding things I've been looking for. There are so many things on the 'web, and so many ways to find them, that sometimes it takes years to put just the right terms together. So it is thus.

On thing I've always been curious about is the annexation history of Silverton, my birthplace. Silverton's geography and street layout have always been one of the most intriguing things to me, and one of my insatiable curiosities has been 'why', or if not that, at least, 'how'. Under the aegis of the esteemable Gus Frederick, I have acquired the knowledge of Silverton history that I always should have had but nobody bothered to ever present to me. He also connected me with McEachern's Silverton: The Morphology Of An Oregon Town which answered a great deal of questions about how My Little Town grew, and if it didn't give me any clues of the town's annexation history, I did get a certain idea of what Silverton's boundary looked like at incorporation confirmed, to a degree.

I'm considering a little thought experiment that'll require a map of Silverton to play on. I know where to go at the ODOT website to get one, but I did a bit of Googling just to see what I could find. And boy, did I stumble on something pleasantly unexpected. It would seem that the Library Of Congress would have something that would enlighten, namely, 17 scans of the 1922 Sanborn Fire Insurance map of Silverton.

What I include hence is the sheet showing the entire town. This is a city map containing all the streets in town at the time, and the city limits as of 1922. They are identical to the city limits at incorporation McEachern detailed in one of his excellent diagrams. 

When I was a kid in Silverton and got familiar with the map, I did find that I enjoyed the shape that the city limits in that time enclosed: a big ol' wing sweeping back from the north side of town; a leg reaching down Silver Creek ending at Ike Mooney Road; but what really intrigued was the visual suggestion that all these additions attached to an original town that was shaped rather as a square. McEachern's diagram confirmed that but gave the footprint a small tail on the southeastern corner of that square, as does this Sanborn map.

Something that really jumped out was the geographical dominance of Silverton's two lumber mills. Before I was alive Silverton was a big timber town, and in the north part of town the yellow area marked 17 and the blue area marked 13 were all lumber mill. As Homsar might say, I'm not gonna lie to ya, that's a healthy piece of real estate.

I note also that most of the streets in Silverton have always been called what they were called when I was a kid and what they're called today. There are very notable exceptions, perforce, in no particular order:

  1. What we call today East Main St going east from the center of town ("Danger Hill") was noted as Broadway.
  2. Maple Street, which is a short street connecting the ends of Grand and Sherman Streets just south of North Water and just north of a meander in Silver Creek, was called N. Front St. 
  3. The section of B Street east of Mill Street and West of Hill Street was then called Madison Alley, which is a whole lot cooler of a name than "B Street" but then, they didn't hire me to figure out street names for 'em
  4. On the western edge of town there's a street called Lower. Today's Silverton has that as Westfield Street. 
  5. In the north, in the area today called "Milltown" the north-south streets are labelled with what must be the names the original developers gave it: 1st, 2nd, 3rd. Today those streets are known, respectively as North 2nd, Elm, and Fir Streets. 
  6. In the northeast part of town, between Church Street and Norway Avenue and north of Chadwick Street there's a connecting street called Plamateer Avenue. Today that's known as Bartlett Street; the short T street capping that at the east end of Bartlett, on our Sanborn map known as Wolford, is today known as Wall Street. And, north of that, a short street comes off the north end of Norway and is called Solum; today's more prosaic name is Liberty Street. One can't help but wonder about the reasons behind those changes.
  7. The east side of town has also seen intriguing changes. The street known as Rook Street is, comparing modern maps, Rock Street; what was then marked as W. Park Street is now called Ames Street; the next street to the west is not marked nor does it exist on the ground however E. Park Street does (it didn't when I lived off Steelhammer Road, back in the day). 
  8. And, speaking of Steelhammer Road; it's that street that is marked as simply East. Practically named, anyway.
  9. There is now, as there was then, a W. Center Street, coming off West Main about halfway up West Hill. What is now S. Center Street (coming off W. Main going south from that intersection) was known then as E. Center St, presumably to differentiate it from that street coming off S. Water known then as S. Center St and today called Central Street. 
  10. And, last but not least (for now), what we today call Cowing Street was known then as S. Mill St, to draw the difference between it and the Mill Street serving the two lumber mills on the north side of town. This mill street was named for an altogether different mill, the old Fisher Flouring Mill, which was along Silver Creek just north of there. 
  11. Also, in the south part of town, between South Water and Silver Creek and running parallel to both there is a street that is modernly called Madison Street. In the Silverton of 1922 it was called W. Water Street.

Those, to me, are some fiercely interesting changes, just as interesting as the 1922 city boundary, and the seal in the upper right hand corner which duly reports that in 1922, Silverton's population was 2,251, and the prevailing wind was from the southwest.

The entire run of the 17 sheets can be found at the Library of Congress at https://www.loc.gov/maps/?all=true&fa=segmentof:g4294sm.g4294sm_g074631922/&sb=shelf-id&st=gallery

The Camas Address Grid As It Seems To Be Now


A chance look at a bit of Google Mappery sent me down this garden path. Kindly follow along if you will ...

Camas, Washington is a medium-sized growing to larger-medium-sized city on the east side of Clark County, Washington, and the only thing preventing Vancouver from getting the drop on Washougal (Washougal serves its function by preventing Camas from intruding uninvited into Skamania County, but I digress).

Aaaaanyway, as the other towns in Clark County that are also not Vancouver, Camas maintains its own address grid: binomial (NW, SW, NE, SE) extending only to the city boundary, where the County grid takes up. The north-south dividing line is First Avenue, the east-west dividing line is Division Street (these streets don't actually cross; the notional corner on Division and First would be about one block inside the Georgia-Pacific paper mill that dominates the center of town). It serves Camas reasonably well; despite certain quirks introduced by the extreme cant of the central grid and the meander of the Washougal River, it works.

I found this, though, after reviewing the extent of Camas currently via Google Maps. The incorporated area of Camas, during the years I've watched it, has spread rather glandularly; its modest population of around 20,000 or so sprawls over around 16 square miles of riverbank, hill, and prairie, and has become a rather ragged triangle more than five miles from one side to the other. 

The hypotenuse of that triangle is the line formed by Lacamas Lake and Lacamas Creek. Within the last decade, though Camas has been annexing north of that, and there is now, at about six miles NW from the city center, there is a tuft of incorporated land that stretches nearly 1/3 of the way from downtown Camas to Battleground. 

The city has ambitions. 

I reasoned the street numbering should have ascended to certain heights. Up until now, the highest numbered avenue in that NW section of town, which is the largest quadrant, is a NW 78th Avenue. I wondered what, if any, numbered avenues would exist in that tuft. Certainly they must be high, and I was right: I found avenues numbered from 91st through 96th, with a way and a loop stuck in there.

But it was not NW. They were all N: N 91st Ave, N 92nd Ave, N 93rd Ave, Lane, and Loop, N 94th, 95th, and 96th Avenues. And that was strange as, even though it were a sprawl away from the main part of town, it was north and west of the address origin. And so began the search.

And that was a journey. This is the destination:

This is a JPEG, and the resolution might not be advantagious, saved from the PDF which can be viewed at full resolution at the link http://www.cityofcamas.us/images/DOCS/MAPS/streetnamegrid2010.pdf if one is so inclined. In this diagram we find that the City of Camas has gotten a bit experimental in address sectoring. The dividing lines are called out as SR-14 (separates the tiny SW area from NW), Division, (NW from NE) and the incorrectly-called out NE 3rd Av (should be E 1st Ave) which separates NE from SE. That is as expected.

But now there's N and S. N appears to include everything north of Lacamas Lake and Lacamas Creek as well as NE 43rd Ave, and S, which is Lady Island (which only has room for water treatment works and sewage disposal ponds, and appears to have no residential development slated (nor do I expect any). The diagram itself seems somewhat inaccurate too; the streets in the area north of and immediately adjacent to the intersection of NE 43rd and Everett still seems to have NE on the street signs; however, a quick Google Street View check of Adams off Leadbetter Road shows it as N Adams St, and the street sign for N 47th Cir off NE Everett similarly checks out. 

The idea seems to be, as I infer it, changing the directional to a simple N north of the Lacamas/43rd line but the addresses still march on as expected. There's precedent for this on the King County grid: the streets of S Seattle and King County become SE east of 100th Avenue SE with the address pattern proceeding as though no shift in directional had occurred. 

Still, it's odd and seems, like Portland's new 'sixth sextant', to want to solve a problem that only debatably exist

The journey began with me wanting to confirm something I found on Google Maps, which I've never found 100% trustworthy when it comes to this. It wound up with me on Planet Camas, which, as it happens, has six 'quadrants' of its own. 

Passing strange.

Oh, by the way, Camas has a whole Street Naming Manual online. The last revision was in 2010, and you can have it for yourself at http://cityofcamas.us/images/DOCS/PLANNING/REPORTS/streetnamingmanual.pdf. Enjoy your reading, address nerds!

Oh, yes ... there's also a 2008 address grid map that actually marks out the blocks at http://www.cityofcamas.us/images/DOCS/MAPS/addressgridmap2008.pdf.

20 August 2020

The Marquam Bridge from The Portland Tram, 2008


Now one might have credibly argued that perhaps I should have grouped this with the last three, in as much as they were all taken from the Portland Aerial Tram on the same day in the same year, thence the thematic connection.

But the Marquam Bridge holds a special place in my heart. It does its job, day in and day out, with no nonsense or fanfare about it, everyone depends on it, and nobody sees the inherent beauty in it. For anyone who does their thing because people rely on it even though nobody appreciates its positive qualities much, this bridge could be your patron saint.

The View From The Portland Tram, 2008


Since I did the dive into my photographing past, I stumbled on this and it made me feel antic.

In 2008 me and the Brown Eyed Girl treated ourselves to a ride on the then-still-pretty-novel Portland Aerial Tram. These photos, also taken with that old ViviCam 3705, are a little shaky and blurry and indistinct in places. I punched them up with the GIMP as best I could. They show vistas looking northeast mostly, in the direction of the then-much-less-developed central Eastside. Still, the changes jump the hell out at you.


Back then, the old Lloyd Towers - 500 and 700 NE Multnomah - were the tallest buildings in that district. These days, they're getting kind of lost. And are hardly as alone.

I think actually this is a slightly better view of that.

And bridges, of course, always bridges with Portland. In the middle of the shot, the Oregon Convention Center, once the signature landmark in the area. Just to the left of that, what we call today the Moda Center, and we still, I think then, called the Rose Garden.

The above and below photos jog the George Orr in me. Ask me what I mean by that if you're curious, constant reader.


Howell Prairie Road, North of Pratum, Oregon, January, 2008


I said I was going to post three but then I remembered I wanted to post this one and so I guess I lied but it was just a harmless one. 

This was taken on a road called Howell Prairie Road NE, about one mile north of a place on the plains east of Salem called Pratum. That's Pratum just ahead there, a small nowhere-place in the farmlands of Marion County with a couple of grain silos at a train stop where the freight trains that ply the eastern side of the Willamette Valley pause to pick up what the farmers make and take it to the world. 

Howell Prairie itself is the rolling farmlands northeast of Salem you have to pass through to get to Silverton. It's big and wide and the sort of place where nothing ever happens and the most interesting thing going in is watching the crops grow and actually ... that's a pretty excellent thing, because that's the way things should be, out here, where even though you can see the glow of town on the horizon even more than ever before, it still feels isolated and out-there.

Silverton, Mac's Place, January 2008


Third and last old pic for the night, and old is appropriate here, is this photo of downtown landmark Mac's Place. This tavern has existed in downtown Silverton since before then, no, even before that, recently revealed research suggests that it was founded either in the late Corduroy or the early Cretinous period (Ramblin' Rod, 1972), though a recent monograph published by Keeko the Clown in 1969 and found in a bootlegged edition of MAD magazine from August 1976 has garnered support for the founding actually being in the mid-Cantankerous period, after the impact of the great shaving cream bolide but before the first Republicans arrived in Oregon.

At any rate, enjoy.

Camera was, again, the ViviCam 3705.

Silverton Back Street, January 2008


While Silverton isn't a large place, it does have back streets of its own that have a roguish charm.

This is North 3rd Street at Park Street, one block north of Oak. North 3rd is unpaved north of Oak and seems more an alley than a street from here on north the short remaining distance until it ends at B Street. 

The camera, as before, is the ViviCam 3705.

Downtown Silverton, January 2008


Had the urge to post, but not much valuable or useful to say, so here's one of three old photos I have that caught my eye. The camera used in this one was a ViviCam 3705, not much by today's standards but when I got it it was more than $100 of income and 3.5 Mpx and digital zoom and boy was it liberating at the time ... a camera that just shot the picture in whatever light level I had? I've always had my misgivings about our headlong rush into the future but digital photography was certainly not one.

This is downtown Silverton, Oregon, the town of my birth, looking north on North Water Street from between East Main and Oak, taken during the afternoon of 1 January 2008. 

18 August 2020

More Covid Chruch Messages Of Hope


While I'm not the church type, I am the sort whose heart is warmed by a thoughtfully-crafted message from one. Humanity is something we all share, and when a church reflects that humanity, it does indeed provide a sort of basic level of happiness to even us secular sorts.

A couple signs came to my attention recently. This first one, Calvary Presbyterian, 71st and Fremont, reflects a sentiment that I find terribly encouraging, sensible, and just plain grown up in these times where if we'd all just discipline ourselves and remember our connections to each other, we'd get through this pandemic a little quicker perhaps. 

The state of the news of the world during this time should illustrate how well we've followed this implicit advice. 

This next one is in my neighborhood and I've always found the Gethsemane Lutheran folks to be really concerned about the community rather than whether their community affiliates with them. Its an attitude of service I have always found encouraging.

Their current sign message reflects this ecumenical attitude. Because who can't take something away from this?

... and so it goes.

Block Numbers: There's Something About NE Fremont and Sandy


Let's go back into street blade and Address Nerd territory with gun and camera.

Well, with camera anyway.

Allow me to introduce you to the intersection of NE Fremont St, NE Sandy Blvd, and NE 72nd Avenue,  in the Roseway neighborhood. This is pretty much downtown Roseway, really: there's Fairley's Pharmacy, the Safeway store, a handful of small shops, a liquor store, a theater, a handful of Vietamese-owned businesses. The late Yen Ha restaurant and lounge is here.

Now, keep your eyes on the road, and don't tell the officer you didn't see the sign.

NE Sandy/72nd/Fremont, looking east on Fremont
from the west side of the intersection

In NE Portland, at the point where diagonal Sandy Boulevard crosses straight east-west NE Fremont St, NE 72nd Avenue also happens to cross. In the big photo above, you can see it entering the plenum from the right, which is south, just behind the mansard roof of Annie's Donuts and just before the US Bank. Off to the left, well out of shot, the street continues northward from this intersection as a sort of parkway  with a very wide boulevard median, similar to the segment of SE 72nd running from Holgate Boulevard to Foster Road. This parkway goes from approximately Fremont/Sandy to NE Prescott Street, about half a mile.

Now, I've prattled at length somehwere at least once or twice in the past three-thousand, seven-hundred plus visits to this blog about how to read a Portland street blade. And when you put a block number on a street blade as an aide in motorist navigation, there are essentially two ways to do it:

  1. The block number on the blade indicates the block of the street named on that blade, based on where the intersecting street cuts across. In other words, if I'm in Salem, and I'm on 12th St SE, and I look at a sign saying 12th ST SE and the block number says 3000, then what that street sign is telling me that it's directly labeling that block of the street that I'm on. This seems to be the most common way of going about it. Or:
  2. The block number on the blade indicates the block of the street you're on as defined by the intersecting street, which in Portland will be whatever block you're either entering or leaving as you go. Say I'm on SE 52nd Avenue and I come to a stop at SE Woodstock Blvd. The block number on the Woodstock blade will read 6000. This does not mean that's the 6000 block of Woodstock; it means Woodstock defines the beginning of the 6000 block of whatever street's crossing it. I'm either entering the 6000 block if I'm heading south  or leaving it for the 5900 block if I'm heading north.

Number 2 is Portland's way of going about it. From what I've been able to see, though Portland is hardly the only city that does it this way (Salt Lake City has perhaps the most extreme idea of this sort of thing). It also lets you know how many streets away from, and quickly estimate your distance from said baseline (Woodstock at 6000 is the sixtieth block south of Burnside, and is therefore three miles from it). 

It also influences geographic parlance: in Portland it's common to hear it put as "Woodstock is the 6000 block" or "Hawthorne is the 1500 block". It's particularly useful in a town like Portland where the grid is so strong through most of town. It's also why you don't see block numbers on the numbered avenue signs; since the hundred block of numbered avenues in town is keyed to the avenue number, it follows directly from the street name (NE 15th Avenue is the 1500 block of named streets that cross it).

There's more I could say but all that I've laid down so far should have set the table for what I'm about to lay on you. Pay attention:

At this intersection, you have two major traffic streets, NE Sandy Boulevard and NE Fremont Street, and a local side street, NE 72nd Avenue. Sandy runs at a diagonal, so it has no standard block number; it depends on the rise/run at the point of intersection. Now that does happen to be Fremont. What's Fremont's block? It's the 35th block north of Burnside; Fremont Street is the 3500 block, at least of NE 72nd Avenue (Sandy Blvd is numbered as an east-west street, so it's building numbers at that point would be the same as Fremont's which would be 7100 7200.

Okay, knowing all this, what would you assume would be the block numbers on the named blades for NE Sandy Blvd and NE Fremont St? Since Fremont is the 3500 block north, and Sandy cuts 72nd at the 3500 block, you may have guessed that the block number on those street blades would read 3500.

That's an entirely reasonable assumption. It's also incorrect: Here is what they do say:

That's right. Not 3500, but 7200. That's the block that 72nd intersects both those streets at.

It's like that on all points of the intersection. I've walked the entire thing more than once and I did on that day. The following picture is the extreme northeastern corner of the intersection, where the northbound side of NE 72nd north of Sandy leaves Sandy Blvd:

The block number on the Sandy Blvd blade?:

Yep. 7200. As is the one on the blade of Fremont Street pointing east from NE 72nd Avenue.

I've done a lot of reasoning about this because it is rather bewlidering. The Portland system of street sign information is actually fairly simple but just like every system it will run into cases where the demands of reality test it to a limit and this would appear to be one of those situations. It fails in a way at delivering the information one expects. But my going over my multi-decade store of impressions and expectations as to the information this system can deliver, I can at least, I think, provide an insight, that will cause it to at least make sense.

Bear in mind that I can't read PDOT's collective mind and that I do not function as any sort of consultant on these matters to them (I mean, I should, that would be just and righteous, but I don't. C'est la guerre, mon frere).

In referring to Portland street blades over my adult life one decoding principle I've used in interpreting this information is that the intersecting street blade tells you all you need to know about where you are on the street you're travelling on. You, presumably, don't need to be reminded of the name of the that street you're travelling on; you intentionally put yourself there. Here am I, say, going northbound on NE 60th Avenue crossing Glisan. I look at the sign and I see NE GLISAN ST 500, and I say to myself Well, I know I'm going into the 500 block on NE 60th and I just crossed Glisan St. 

That street blade told me information relating to the street I was most likely to be on. Since 60th and Glisan only is composed of two intersecting streets, that further possibility is like an algebra term that multiplies by zero and falls out. I'm only going to be on one street or the other.

But what if the intersection I was at had three streets intersecting and only two of them were major through traffic routes? With the limited amount of room on the sign, what would I do?

What if, proceeding from the example of 60th and Glisan, I prioritized the needs of travellers coming into or through the area rather than those who wanted a reassurance that Fremont is the 3500 block north of a relatively-much-lesser travelled intra-neighborhood street? If that were true, then maybe I'd want to put 7200 on all those named street blades:

  • If you're on Sandy Blvd, the intersection of NE Fremont Street defines the 7200 block of NE Sandy.
  • If you're on NE Fremont Street, the intersection of NE Sandy Blvd defines the 7200 block of Fremont
  • NE 72nd Avenue, being a comparatively little-used street, and less likely to be travelled on by people who are through-bound on Sandy and Fremont, can be left off the signs and cause minimal confusion and inconvenience because most locals already know that the 3500 block starts there and those through-bound people are more likely to be concerned with what block of Sandy or Fremont they're at.

So, there it is. I'm not saying I approve or disapprove, what I am saying here is that this is what I think the method behind this madness is. And there are other places in Portland where block number blade mistakes exist, and even some intersection signs which appear to contradict this logic within blocks of this very sign too ... Sometimes I don't know where PBOTs mind is on some of this.

And ... I still like the Portland system better than any others. But it does have its weaknesses where confusion can occur. This'd be one. But then, why even be in a city if you aren't going to take your time when you can, and look carefully around at your world.

17 August 2020

Olivia In Repose Somewhere In Cully


No real agenda here, peoples ... just a 1972 VW Beetle livin' her best Cascadian life. Oh, yeah. The world ain't totally broken.

She could use a bath, tho.

Kʰunamokwst Park: A Cully Place To Be Together


I was drawn here by a couple of firsts. But it was the type that beckoned me.

If the constant reader had noted the quizzical bit about the title ... because where do you usually see a super-scripted 'h' in any normal parlance ... I'm glad. There's a story there. Seeing it on a map sure caught my eye, and a gradually burgeoning interest in the indigenous culture of what we now call Oregon and Washington, got me and Olivia to the corner of NE 52nd Avenue and Alberta Street here, during the August 2020 heatwave, at a clement hour in the morning.

This is where you'll find Kʰunamokwst Park.

The arrival of Kʰunamokwst Park (since 2015, so, really, new to me) signifies two geographic breakthroughs which deserve to be noted. In no particular order:


 It's the first developed park in the Cully neighborhood. That's big and dissonant news for Portland, which has a reputation for public green spaces and plenty of 'em: in some areas it seems as though you're never more than a few minutes away from even the most modest Portland park. But there are areas of the city which were just outside of it for a great long time, and Cully is one of them. The area was annexed into Portland back in the 1980s, when Portland and Gresham finally began to devour the land between them, but it wasn't until 2015 before Cully got its first honest-to-goodness city park. 

It's a lovely place. Here's the ingress at 52nd and Alberta, with Olivia striking a pose:

And another thing.

This is the very first Portland city park commissioned with an indigenous name. The word kʰunamokwst (pronounced KAHN-uh-mockst) comes to us from the Chinuk Wawa, the language that started as a trade jargon then evolved into a pidgin then matured into a creole that first peoples all along the lower Columbia, from Celilo on down, and through the area we now call Portland, where the Multnomahs once lived, spoke amongst each other.

And speaking of speaking, if the constant reader is wondering about that supered 'h' next to the k, here's the thing about that: Most of our words that we annexed from the first peoples have been anglicised into English, and the sounds of English are not wholly congruent with that of the Wawa. We do, however, have the International Phonetic Alphabet at our disposal, and it allows for a more precise written representation, and, briefly, in this cast, the sound 'k' makes is still 'k', but adding the ʰ like a diacritical mark to create the kʰ glyph makes it an aspriated k sound, which more approximates the way the sound was actually made by a speaker of the Wawa. Sort of saying "k" but breathing out like you're saying "h" at the same time.

And what's the meaning of all this? Well, kʰunamokwst means "together", which is a great thing for a lovely park to make happen. This continues an evolution I'm seeing in which we make a collective effort to honor and acknowledge the peoples that our ancestors displaced by keeping some shred of their intellectual tradition alive and in front of us. 

We can see it beginning to happen here, in these modest ways. I'm hoping they catch on.

The foliage at Kʰunamokwst Park is mighty lovely, as well. It's a park that's been too long in coming. Cully got a real gem.

And here's a link to the Portland Parks and Rec press release that has a lot of good background.

And so it goes skookum.

16 August 2020

Wy'east With A Side of Sunbeam


After that last photo, seeing how the clouds were bunching close to the horizon and seeing the orange-red to the shadows beneath, I got over to NE 122nd and Shaver, by the Rossi place, to get what had to be a memorable shot of Wy'east.

It wasn't as grand as I'd hoped, not much detail. The sunlight at this time of year, especially during the hot days, is overpowering and gets that way very early. The glaring sun washes out everything on the horizon, and if it's been more than one or two days of hot, there's that subjective bleaching out of the sky that I always see. But I was able to get this shot of the mountain in silhouette, with some of those amazing clouds and some sunbeams coming in from the left upper part.

An Epic Show of Sunbeams


We see in the forecast that it's going to be Hell-degrees-fahrenheit today, but the morning was pleasant enough.

The sky, however, was poetically beautiful. The morning sun rising through the low clouds on the horizon at the low angle it was at about 7 AM gave you one of those skies that get you thinking cosmically.

One of them one-in-a-million views, really

13 August 2020

Sunset At Gateway Discovery Park


As park-crazy as most of Portland is, we find that, out in Outer East Portlandia, especially in the NE area, there is a suspicious shortage of them sometimes. During the last five years, the City o'Portland has taken steps.

One of those steps can be found on the block bounded by NE Clackamas and Halsey Street along NE 106th Avenue. Gateway Discovery Park is what they call it, and it's a bit of a quizzical name but it's a lovely place to be, especially if you have burgers and fries to eat and it's about sundown.

This sort of sundown, to be exact.

I like taking pictures like the above. They're both pointed and unpointed: they're pointed, because the sunset's the thing, and they're unpointed, because that sort of skyline and sky combo makes a great framing element for text or perhaps other pictures you can put within. Also the rich color of that night was minorly incomparable.

They're building a six-story apartment/retail block besides. As centrally-located, in an outer-eastside way, as it is, this would be ideal for small families and others. And who wouldn't want to overlook a park?

The draped lights over the walkway on the east side of the park actually made it kind of cozy. There's a number of oval picnic tables down that side of the park, giving you a lot of POVs to choose from. And all during this time, small families would come and let the kids go about on skateboards and bikes and such.

And, speaking of skating, at the corner of 106th and Clackamas there's a facility called a 'skate dot'. That's a trendy thing, like a skate park only much smaller, and it was a big draw this warm evening.

The Burkle Address System: A Unified Statewide Address Grid


I'm kind of hoping that at least part of that title was provocative, at least on the Address Nerd level, because many of us don't live in, and indeed probably can't picture, a unified system for rural addresses stretching across an entire state.

But then, most of us don't live in North or South Dakota. I'll explain.

In my virtual peramulations across the globe, one thing for which Google has made me grateful (there are downsides, but more on that some other time), I was, one fine day, scanning the wide open spaces of North Dakota, when a detail caught my eye. 

I found ordinally-numbered streets, suffixed with binomial directionals (96th Ave SW, for example) in truly out-of-the-way rural areas. Such is the form of my inquisitiveness that I began panning, following the decreasing numbers in the direction of what I'd hoped would be the origin point of that system. I quickly saw that these numbered streets and avenues were one section ... one full surveyed mile ... apart. Before I knew it I had panned across a significant section of the state. And still, I had not located the origin, it seemed not to be near any of the larger towns (and some of those had their own county grids superseding the statewide pattern I was seeing. 

I poked about via Google now and again hoping to find some defining document but was unsuccessful (amazing how often that is true for many of these address systems). I was unsuccessful for a very long time but then, a few days ago, I stumbled on what I was looking for.

According to this article (https://www.farmshow.com/a_article.php?aid=4428) at a site called Farm Show News Magazine, back in 1988, when Enhanced 911 was coming to North Dakota, the emergency coordinator in Stark County, was wondering how to solve the problem of establishing findable addresses in a state where the geography is kind of unrelentingly flat. From the article:

Anyone who has tried to find a farm in a rural area knows how difficult it can be. One hill looks like the next. The same with shelter belts and mile lanes, especially at night.

Thinking on it, he hit on the idea of not just his county but the entire state of North Dakota is though it were one town. The flat, rectilinear geography of the Public Land Surveyed North Dakotan landscape fairly gave itself to the approach.

Simply put, an intersection of section lines as close to the geographic center of the state as practical was chosen. (As it would happen, it can be found at 47°24'52.2"N 100°32'42.6"W, a spot about 20 miles NNE of the state capital, Near a place called McCluskey) The section line extending east and west from this, from the east boundary to the west boundary was designated a baseline and whenever it sported a road that road would be Main Street; the section line extending north and south, from the top of state to the bottom, was the other baseline and when it sported a road that road would be called Center Avenue, numbered streets and avenues corresponding to section lines radiating out from there. This divides the state up into more-or-less equal quadrants and each quarter would be suffixed with the appropriate directional: NW, NE, SW, and SE. A notional intersection of an otherwise-nondescript pair of rural roads, one being 29 miles south of Main Street and 45 miles west of Center Avenue would be the corner of 29th St SW with 45th Ave SW. 

This system bears the name of its inventor, of course, it is known as the Burkle Address System, and, except for its three most populous counties, is used across the entire state of North Dakota.

Not just there, either. Neighboring South Dakota though it so ideal that they use a modified version of it too (the baselines being the northern and western boundaries of the state itself, avoiding the requirement for having directionals at all.

The guidelines for South Dakota rural addressing can be found in a PDF hosted by the State of SD at https://dps.sd.gov/resource-library/South-Dakota-Rural-Addressing-Procedural-Handbook.pdf-782

Not all states can approach rural addresses this way, of course. But the Dakotas seem uniquely qualified to go it that way, and it's interesting how it worked out.

12 August 2020

Rose City Park Storefronts


No agenda with this one. Just a line of storefronts on NE Fremont Street just as it arrives at its plenary corner with NE 72nd Avenue and NE Sandy Blvd. 

Kinda bland, kinda ordinary, nothing special ... but everything special because of it, somehow.

The neighborhood around this intersection is called Rose City Park. It was laid out in 1907, the inaugural year of the Portland Rose Festival, for what that's worth.

NE 82nd And Sandy: The End is Nye


I'm not sure if this is some sort of inscrutable prophecy or just an apt play on words, but I love it.

Taken through the front window of Olivia at the corner of NE 82nd and Sandy in front of the used tire store there. I've seen this in a number of locations in NE Portland.

Little visual treats like this? Yeah, it's one of the reasons I still love Portland.

10 August 2020

The Giant Jug On Sandy Blvd


There's a dive bar of incredibly long staning along Sandy in Northeast Portland. 

On the north side of Sandy, on another one of those flatiron blocks, this one also bounded on the west by NE 74th Avenue and the north by NE Beech Street, is a building with a long history. Lore I've heard recounts it as having been built in 1928 originally as a tire and auto repair joint. I don't know when it became a dive bar, but that it did for years and years and years. 

It's one of those buildings which became a landmark and probably still exists because it is one. 

I give you The Pirate's Cove:

The Pirate's Cove is a dive bar, and one of Portland's many strip joints; it has been named suchly since 2002, and eighteen years is an eternity in Portland cuisine these days. Before that, though, it was an outfit called ... are you sitting down? ... 

The Sandy Jug.

This terra cotta drabness is just one of many dressing changes for the building; at one time, the spherical cork in the jug was painted like an eight-ball.

That's it: just another Portland dive-bar strip-club ... of which there were a dwindling number going into the pandemic time.

The Smallest Triangular Restaurant We Know, and the Street Sign at Mason and Sandy


Sandy Boulevard is one of Portland's signature arterials. Starting from the corner of SE 7th and Washington, it does a curl up that hill then shifts from SE to NE at Burnside (and is now made discontinuous by the Burnside-Couch couplet). It then strikes out diagonally across east-side Portland, creating complex intersections and small flatiron-shaped blocks in its relentless drive to Parkrose, many of those blocks containing almost absurdly-small flatiron-shaped buildings.

One of those is on the block bounded by Sandy, NE 81st Avenue, and NE Mason Street. This is directly to the west of the major intersection of NE 82nd and Sandy. This block is scarcely 100 feet long on the hypotenuse, and it is absolutely full of a very charming little breakfast and lunch place: the Cameo. It's directly across Mason Street from the Cameo Motel to which, we surmise, it was once organizationally-attached to as the motel's cafe. There seems no such affiliation now, but it's retained its old sign and name as it's become rather a landmark.

This is it, looking west from where Mason splits from Sandy:

We were there a few times before the Covid hammer came down, and found it most delightful. It's the kind of place, you know the kind, where the breakfasts and omelettes come at a price but you get what you pay for, satisfying and filling or, at least, you'll be taking some home to eat later.

The Korean ownership inflected the menu as one might expect. Kimchi is available in a few dishes, and there was even an omelette having that as its principal ingredient. One of the the times we were there they had a live guitar player in for the brunch crowd. Everything was very nice there.

The practice of Portland's street blades identifying the address block of the street one's travelling on by telling one how the intersecting street defines it has created, over time, spots on Sandy Blvd that tend to be bewildering, hampered by an inconsistent approach on the part of PBOT's signing. I have a few examples that will follow this. But here is a good introduction to this issue.

Please direct your attention to the street blade set there.

NE Mason Street is the 4100 block north of Burnside, so you see the 4100 there on the corner of its blade. The 4100 doesn't apply to Sandy, though: it's a diagonal road which addresses as an east-west street. The 4100 does, however, apply to NE 82nd Avenue, which runs perpendicularly to Mason and is about thirty feet behind me as I was standing to take that picture.

The 8200 on the Sandy blade might just be straight-up weird to anyone who comes from a town where the block number refers to the block face rather than the intersecting street. Look at it this way, though: You're on Mason Street, coming east out of that neighborhood. You come to the stop sign. This street opens into the intersection of 82nd and Sandy but this corner is just short of a solid intersection with 82nd. Sandy isn't the 8200 block east of the river and Williams, but it does cut across Mason at the 8200 block, or at least close enough that it would apply. 

Now, you could argue that the block number on the Mason blade should also read 8200 by this logic, since Sandy cuts Mason at the same place, but as potentially confusing as that might be for the out-of-towner, it does provide the North-South block for those passing by on 82nd (for which the position of this sign might make it a little hard to see, but the logic does work out).

Actually, I love this system despite its pitfalls. Once I got tuned into it, I find it makes a solid bit of sense: it tells me what I need to know about the cross street. I already know the name of the street I'm already on. 

But explaining it makes for some prolix profundity, that's for sure.