06 May 2023

Fujii Farms Ramping Up For The Season


This is a thing I also see on my commute.

At one time, of course, there were farms all along the long streets east of Portland and going through the area we once commonly (thought inaccurately) called East County, interrupted only by Gresham and Troutdale and Fairview, which were just small burgs at that time. 

Eastern Multnomah County ... small-town Oregon. Now, of course, it's a totally different planet. 

There are at least a couple of working farms still surviving. One I've visited to take a bunch of Wy'east pictures, as anyone who's followed this knows, Rossi Farms, on NE 122nd and Shaver, between Fremont and Sandy, adjacent to Parkrose High. This is a corner of a similar working farm: Fujii Farms, a farm mostly specializing in berries.

This is the northwest corner of SE Stark and S Troutdale Road, and this is where Fujii Farms has a seasonal fruit and produce stand operating from approximately June through the summer. They have more than one.

The fields behind that stand are predominantly berries but there are also grapes. There have been school buses and porta-commodes during the summer; echoes of my going out and picking strawberries out around Silverton when I was a kid are ringing most strongly.

For those of you who like this sort of thing, they have the fresh produce and berries coming. 

You, Too, Can Create Portland's New Council Districts


This last election, the citizens of the City of Portland (or at least a majority thereupon) at long  last deemed it time to move off the old city commission format for the City Council and evolve into district-based representation.

The system that is replacing our old at-large Council is kind of surprising. Portland likes to take chances, and chances were, we were going to find ourselves in a city made of representative districts eventually. A city of more than 650,000 needs a more sophisticated approach than a council suited to a much smaller town can provide. 

If someone had told me we'd be dividing the city into four districts each sending three representatives to the city's legislature, I'd have told you you knew not what of you spake. Well, history has called me the fool. Ranked-choice voting, too! Daring, even for this place.

But, as the throught-terminating cliche goes, it is what it is. And, now, that's what it is. So, let's lean in. And the CoP has those of us in mind: I just found out that the city has a web app that lets you take a crack at it. 

Go to the page the Independent District Commission's put up at https://www.portland.gov/transition/districtcommission/districts. You'll find yourself at the Submit A District Map page and there are a number of options to explore, If you want to jump in and try your hand, go straight to OPTION 3: Draw & submit your own district map and get your apportionment on. The web mapping app "Districtr" is employed, and it's pretty easy to figure out; the most exciting thing about it is that you 'paint' areas with a brush that assumes the shapes of the census tracts as you go, and you can adjust the width of that brush with a slider in the upper right. 

If it seems non-intuitive, don't fret; there are simple tutorial PDFs available via links that can be found.

I gave it a try, and here's what I got:

Each one of those districts holds about 163,000 Portlanders. The bare and direct way about it is just to create districts with approximately-equal population. By providing access to data on ethnic population and other things, it invites you to explore the various communities in Portland and how one might group and/or divide. 

This sort of thing has been done before. Back in 2013, I investigated Washington DC's city government's "Redistricting The District" game, and it was quite informative. Given then-current population figures, one reapportions ward boundaries and explores the same things.

In Portland's implementation of Districtr you can not only play with districting Portland but also save and post your results, link to them, and even submit your ideas to the Independent District Commission.

It's a great deal of fun, and it's the sort of fun you can have again and again.

04 May 2023

Stark Stuck Truck


I'm quite frankly surprised this doesn't happen more often.

The Stark Street Bridge over the Sandy River is a narrow truss. The modern breed of large consumer pickup feels like they challenge it. 

The day before yesterday, I'm coming down the hill from Troutdale past SE Kerslake Rd toward the bridge, and right as the road bottoms out, right by the Riverview Restaurant and the Yoshida estate, there's this harried guy in the street flagging people down ... which seems portentious ... but when I come abreast, he's going on about how we have to turn around because a truck has blocked the bridge. 

I have to see this, so I inch forward. Yep. It's the truth, and here's what that looks like:

It's a fact. That bridge is closed right now.

I had to backtrack through Troutdale via Troutdale Road and Historic Columbia River Hwy and cross the river there (My destination is in Springdale, where I work now. I've not said much about that due to my erratic posting style of late). 

I didn't have a chance to pict from the other side, but there was MCSO advertising a blue-light special. The truck wasn't so much stuck itself, as, when turning from HCRH eastbound right onto the bridge, the driver turned wide to account for the length of the trailer but maybe underestimated or maybe it was all wishful thinking, and the box fetched up against the end of the truss and the low wall on that corner of the intersection.

I had a pretty good day at work; most days at my new job are quite satisfying. But if I'd have had a bad day, I could think of this poor guy, and feel better about things. 

Midland Library, 3 May 2023 (With Closeups)


The prep of the site seems to continue at a steady pace though not at breakneck speed. Not only has the interior been gutted but also parts are beginning to disappear from the outside.

Here's the overview:

If I understand the design I've seen, the east, and south sides (you see the east side on the right, here) are going to remain and the building is expanding to the north and the west. Good thing; there are lovely poetry verses on the east side, bracketing that window.

Two details caught my eye.

One can be seen here. Note the two large flat russet-red squares on the right there, as seen through the fence directly below the no-trespassing and danger signs. 

Another pair of them can be seen n the far left. In the middle of the picture is where two of them used to be. Before this evolution each one of those had a concrete tile with a bas relief of some sort of biology ... the curling of a fern frond, a tree leaf. They're gone, obvs. I hope there's room in the new design.

And, here's a detail of the old main entry. The truck is parked approximately where the clock tower porch (of which we still mourn) was. The plywood immediately behind it plugs a hole which used to serve as the book return. 

There were two: a traditional chute, and this straight-up cyberpunk automated return slot which was kind of fun to use, in a 2001-Open-the-pod-pay-doors-HAL sort of way.

26 April 2023

Midland Library, 26 April 2023


The Midland-of-the-week photo series continues, with no obvious change from last week, though I think the old glass and steel from the main entry is now completely gone.

You can see straight through to the south wall if you look carefully. As stated before, the entire inside has been gutted.

I'm still missing the clock tower, for what it's worth. You just don't get architecture like that any more. 

22 April 2023

Midland Library, 20 Apr 2023


Herewith the first of a continuing series of snapshots of the evolution of the Midland Branch of the Multnomah County Library from what was into what will be.

In December, 2022, the Mighty Midland branch, located at SE 122nd and Morrison in the middle-outer eastern area of Portland ... out in The Numbers, as the kids say ... closed in preparation of a major rebuild. This is part of a systemwide strategy of improving branches to be current to the needs of today. This is scheduled to be in work through Summer 2024. 

This is also happening at the Holgate Branch.

As a point of reference, here's where it all started: The Midland Branch of the Multnomah County Library as she was before they got busy (photo sharked from the Multnomah County Library's page as of today here: https://multcolib.org/library-location/midland)

As of today, this is what the scene was:

The process has been underway in earnest on the structure about two and months now. The clock tower is down (and it's not coming back, I'm afraid, which I think is a sadness, but the thing is taking its course). The windows in the side long side of the building that's facing us ... that's the south side of the building ... are out. The inside of the building, which I've only been able to glimpse in quick passing, appears to have been gutted. 

What's not so obvious from this angle is that the parking lot has been about 2/3rds broken up and is being pulled up out of there. Out of frame on the left are trailers as construction shacks. 

My plan is to take a picture from the same spot across the library on 122nd once every few days. I'm hoping to get a long-arc sequence of all the changes. 

16 March 2023

More New Suspish on Stark Street, or, It Comes From Eugene


When I saw SUSPISH on the back of the PPD Sunshine Division building on SE Stark just east of 122nd, I was delighted. I love the style of this artist and remembered, as I pointed out here, that we've seen them before.

But there's more delightfulness ... they've returned to the original building we first saw them on. 14410 SE Stark is a kind of a warehous-ey building that at one time, more than a decade ago, held a Hotel/Motel Furniture Liquidators. It closed around a decade ago and has stood vacant ever since. Now, the first time we saw Suspish, it was on the east wall of the building, the one that faces the Franz Bread Thrift Store next door. It was painted over in due time.

Now, it's on the buildings facade:

This differs from the other Suspish, in that we have the angler-fish catching its prey but, moreover, it's more or less the same as the first Suspish that appeared in April 2021, which I include here for comparison:

The addition of sparkles in the first image gives it a little more visual delight.

But there's more. That nifty web thing, the hashtag, accidentally showed me that Suspish isn't just a couple of fun graffiti on the outer east side of Portland. 

Suspish is a Eugene thing. perhaps come to visit, to stop by and leave something in a Banksy-esque way. Eugene Weekly spoke with The Artist back on 2022. They're something of a street-art city mascot down that way. 

04 March 2023

How To Have A Logical Address System In An Illogical Street Pattern


Georgia has an amazingly-adaptable system for figuring out a regular system of addresses in counties that have irregularly grown road systems. It's impressive and works very well.

I'd like to introduce you to a document titled Street Addressing Standards and Guidelines for the State of Georgia, created by the Georgia Spatial Data Infrastructure GIS Coordinating Committee, Framework Transportation Technical Working Group, and released in August 2000. It really is an amazing document, and you can get your own copy of the PDF here:

It's axiomatic by now that a consistent, logical system of addressing promotes various public and private goods, from predictable private wayfinding to ease of location for emergency first-responder services. The organic way many Georgia cities grow kind of defeats this, though; take a look at the city center of Atlanta - various sized grids at various angles, no smooth transitions between them - and one begins to see what the challenges of creating such a system might be.

To this end, the group with the long-winded name came up with a complex-yet-simple system. I'd ask anyone interested to read the document (which also goes into considerable depth with respect to establishing logical street-naming rules which promote setting up solid address databases) but it is kind of dry, so here's the TL; DR abstract. It has 2 main moving parts:

1. Identify two intersecting roads, or two intersecting alignments, that cross the county. They meet at the reference point, which is the originating point, from which all addresses radiate. This divides the county into rough quadrants, which can be designated NW, SW, NE and SE.

2. Determine addresses as a function of distance from that reference point; the rule they suggest is one house number per 20 feet of street length as measured from the centerlines of the street. 

The illustration right demonstrates the idea of finding two intersecting trans-county alignments which meet at the reference point and creating rough-but-roughly equivalent quadrants (the county used by the illustrator is Lowndes County, Georgia and the reference point is in city center Valdosta, for what it's worth ... and a look at the county shows they haven't chosen to implement this system, so it amounts to a demo). 

The real magic of this system comes in tying the house numbers to distance relative from the reference point. This is necessary because if a Georgia town starts off with a rectilinear grid, they typically do not hold; they devolve pretty quickly into a county road network that's based on paths that indigenous people took and that settlers created to get to their properties as they developed the lands. There isn't a regular gridded road pattern, and there isn't going to be one ... a regular amount of block numbers per 'block' is difficult if not next to impossbile.

One drawback is that even hundreds don't fall on street intersections, and that's something to learn and get used to, but any address system can be learned and they've been doing things this way in Atlanta since the 1920s, so it may be a stumbling block in the beginning but that wont' last for too long.

It occurs to me that bits and pieces of this logic can be applied to ordering other towns depending on the form of the street network. There's a thought experiment I plan on exploring quite soon, and I'll write about that here. But not quite yet. 

19 February 2023

The Moment I Realized Where Things Are On Mount Hood


The distance from the turnoff from US 26 at the east end of Government Camp to the parking lot at Timberline Lodge is about six miles. 

This is another thing I learned that day.

I've obsessed on the appearance of my favorite volcano for years, as I've made a a big public exhibition via blog and FB about such. And I've loved what I've done and am proud of it, but never when right up to it during all this time and figured I had enough of an idea of perspective and size to make it real.

The larkout to Mount Hood restored a lot of respect and knowledge and grasp of perspective and distance and space that I didn't have before and thought I did. And it settles through and percolates down through my psyche and gives me little frissons constantly, and I love it. I feel more connected to the land that is my home now.

This POV, taken through the windshield most of the way up the Timberline Lodge Road, revealed detail I didn't know existed until then:

I didn't know at the time but learned subsequently that the chairlift that is visible (and the combed surface immediately to the right) are the Palmer Chairlift and the top of the Palmer Glacier. Just near the low point of that chairlift is the historic building called Silcox Hut. These were just names I knew before now, despite all my smug pride about knowing where is what in Oregon, I didn't really have a grasp on this before then. 

Now that I do, my world seems quite a bit bigger. 

13 February 2023

Evening Rush Hour, Government Camp, Oregon


Government Camp is a small unincorporated town at the foot of the road that goes up to Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood. It is also located immediately aside another major ski resort, Mt Hood Skibowl. And, toward the end of the daylight on that last Saturday, this is what the westbound traffic looked like on US 26.

Two eastbound lanes, just one westbound lane, and the end of an active skiing day on the mountain equal a traffic jam you'd otherwise think you'd have to be on the Banfield at evening rush in town to experience. I'm sure much fun was had ... but by whom, I couldn't say. 

Gresham: Rare Wit


The proprietor (or manager, or whatever) of a auto shop out at 202nd and SE Burnside has something to say about that:

Well, he's no Blue Sign Guy, but I respect the effort. 

12 February 2023

... on the next Star Trek: Jonsrud Viewpoint


I know not who Ralph Baird was (Google searches strongly suggest he passed away sometime around 2010) but I figure I would have liked the man.

One of the features of the Jonsrud Viewpoint facility is the brick walk and, as many places do, they give the opportunity of inscribing a brick for (presumably) a donation. And here's what Ralph Baird, of Sandy, Oregon, Sol III (Earth), in the Alpha Quadrant, had to say:

Star Trek fans. We're inevitable. 

Today We Go Place Part 4: On A Clear Day, You Can See At Least 85 Miles


This is a view looking southward from the parking lot at Timberline Lodge, at approximately 6,000 feet ASL. This is along the general trend of the direction of the Cascade Range at this point.

In terms of accessibility to the general public and relative to the Portland metro, this is the tallest one's likely to get in Oregon (outside of those boundaries you have Crater Lake, which is remote from Portland and Steens Mountain, which is just plain remote ... but there's a road on Steens that gets to about 9,000 feet in elevation, so knock yourself out. Send pictures). 

The lopsided volcano in the distance, then, is Oregon's second tallest summit: Mount Jefferson. The line of sight from Your Humble Photographer to that place is approximately 45 miles of crystal clear air. Of equal interest are those sawtooth crags on the horizon immediately to the left of Jeff; those are the summits of the volcanic group we call the Three Sisters. The dominant cone in that grouping, the one we call South Sister, is about 40 miles beyond that. 

One of Oregon's unparalleled viewpoints, without question. 

Today We Go Place Part 3: Timberline Lodge


This was our ultimate goal, but we did not know this starting out. It just kind of happened.

Timberline Lodge is not only a popular tourist destination, it's part of history; it was one of the many projects that happened during the post-Great Depression rebuilding of America. It was constructed betwen 1936 and 1938 at the 6000-foot level of Mount Hood ... the timber line. It stands large in the awareness of a large percent of the population of Oregon regardless of how much history you do know. 

We didn't stay ... it was a drive-by visit. But since we were out for pictures, it was far from a failure. Really, quite the opposite.

Because now, amongst other photos in my stock, I have a number that resemble this:

It's amazing how close it seems. The summit is about three lineal miles from this spot, but it's still about a mile straight up. So many things, though, seem so close you can just reach out and grab them. From here you can see Silcox Hut, the Palmer chair lift, and the groomed slope around it. As used to looking at Wy'east as I am, I never new how far up the mountain those chairlifts were.

Gorgeous and accessible. The best volcano in the world, and yes, I'll fight you on this one. 

Today We Go Place, Part 2: Wy'east from Hwy 26


On our way out to Jonsrud there were multiple opportunities to find Oregon's Greatest Mountain in pulchritudinous array. West of Sandy, on the portion of Hwy 26 that exists between Gresham and Sandy, Wy'east is very prominent through gaps in the trees.

From miles away, and at this point we're between thirty-five and forty, the mountain dominates.

You get unexpectedly awe-inspiring glimpses when you're east of Sandy, though. They happen unexpectedly.

Wy'east has what topographers call a high degree of prominence ... in plainer terms, the peak really stands out. It's a well-defined mountain surrounded by lower mountains and there's a great deal of difference between the altitude at the visual base and its summit. Ever notice that when you're travelling toward mountains, individual mountains you may have been visually tracking become lost in the general mountain-ness when you get close?

This doesn't happen with Wy'east. This view is east of a place called Zigzag, and by then one is not terribly far from the mountain anymore. Yet it still has an intimidating presence.

Today We Go Place: Jonsrud Viewpoint


There are certain places that any Oregon photographer, be they amateur or professional, must have in their portfolio, I think. Place like South Falls in Silver Falls State Park, or the wreck of the Peter Iredale, or the State Capitol Building, or Willamette Falls ... the list goes on.

One of those places I think is Jonsrud Viewpoint. Found just north of Hwy 26 along SE Bluff Road on the edge of Sandy, this is a lookout that stands about 500 feet over the Sandy River bottom directly below. This affords an unobstructed view up the Sandy River drainage at Mount Hood, whose summit is about 30 lineal miles distant.

We went on safari and I took several shots today. Here's one ...

This was an adventure in picture-taking on more than one level. Despite the fair weather, the light just wasn't working with me, so I explored a bushel or more of camera settings to compensate. The issue was when I tried to include a great deal of the valley floor at my feet, the light compensation would completely wash out the mountain. 

So I don't completely comprehend ISO and shutter speed, but I found out when I set ISO to around 100 and made the shutter speed quick, I got images I could work with.

They started to look this way. 

Not Ray Atkeson level, no, but I'm working on it.

Another bit of fiddling with the settings, color saturation, and temperature got me this:

Which got a lot of nifty color in, and depth, with the Heritage Trail sign adding a bit more interest, compositionally speaking.

This is another of the best ... Sometimes you just have to let the peak be the star.

My change in employment has limited my opportunities to get pictures of Wy'east. So you know we have to go out of our way to make 'em grand. 

Mission accomplished? Yes ... and no. We accidentally kicked it up to the next level. For that, read into the next entry or two.

11 February 2023

Dreamland East of 257th On Stark


In the intervening time since the last times I regularly posted, I've changed places of employ. I used to work near the Portland International Airport; now I work in an area called Springdale, which is about three miles east of the south end of Troutdale via Stark Street and Historic Columbia River Highway.

It's a longer commute, but I love it; I use all of Stark Street east of SE 122nd, out to its veriest end. This pleases me as I know I follow not only a rather historic road for this area but also the Willamette Base Line. I've become much more familiar with areas of Gresham I formerly rarely visited. 

There's some nice stuff there. I've missed out.

The road climbs from about 205th and Stark to 223rd, a rise I call Twelvemile Hill (after the historic name of Twelvemile Corner which is 223rd and Stark). It then levels a bit, descends gently from Hogan to 257th, then just east of 257th, drops more precipitously. This allows for some lovely views, if the morning clouds and mist are just right. Like this, here:

Stark Street is a very broad-shouldered, muscular boulevard all the way out to 257th. After that, it drops down to a 2-lane local road and descends this hill along the north side of Mt Hood Community College. Just beyond his, the first traffic signal is Troutdale Road, and beyond that, in the distance, is the signal at SE Evans Avenue in Troutdale, which is the veriest and lastest signal on all of Stark. 

Today, hanging over the gulch that the Sandy River flows down, was that bank of cloud. Most dreamy. 

The Return of SUSPISH! to Stark Street


We have, out here in 122nd Land, the occasional recurring cartoon character in the form of graffiti.

Today, one came back. He's SUSPISH, and he's on the back of a building on the south side of Stark just east of 122nd that's exposed to the big north parking lot that still surrounds the former Fabric Depot:

I don't know who his friend is, but it looks like he's been in a scrape or two.

SUSPISH has formerly surfaced along Stark at 146th by the Franz Bakery Thrift store, either in a former anglerfish or perhaps it's a cousin, in April of 2021. We also sustained a very small invasion by friendly aliens back in April (coincidentally) of 2016). 

I do wonder if they are all done by the same local Banksy?