Thursday, March 30, 2006

Midwest Parking Meter vs Northwest Parking Meter

So Portland, being the environmentally conscious community that it is has these fancy parking meters installed on each street.


Note the solar panel on the top of the unit [ quite contradicting seeing how they claim it rains here all the time...]. Basically you insert your money - your charge/atm card or coins - and it prints a receipt that has a self-adhesive that you stick to the inside of your car. One of this things serves an entire street.


Now take this old thing which you see all over the streets of Milwaukee and Chicago... hmm... Which government employee gets the job to collect all those coins in these damn things? And how many times did you have to go searching around your car to find coins to feed the damn thing. Or do what I did 50% of the time. You don't give it any money. Then you hope like hell that you don't have a ticket when you get back to your car.

Winner = Portland Parking Meter.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Beth Orton and PC woes...

Monday night went to see Beth Orton play at the Wonder Ballroom. She was good. Beer was good. Venue was cool. A friend of Heidi's named Morgan bought the tickets and we picked her up at her house. I found out at dinner that she rides mountain bikes and skis. I feel like a Portland socialite lately. All these bands and venues. We have tickets to see Pink Martini in 3 weeks and there was the lead singer stopping to say hello to Morgan during the show and then her and her boyfriend stood right in front of us to watch the show... small little world here in Portland is what Heidi keeps saying.

My PC has gone south. Processor locks and the damn thing shuts down. Tried to reinstall the OS to no avail. Upgraded the BIOS last night which seemed to help. Now I need Ethernet drivers... it's just one thing after the other. I'm due for a new one since this one is just over 3 years old now...

Those tires arrived and I was able to ride into work today for the first time in ... wow ... 3 weeks. I've definitely lost some fitness and noticed it on the ride. I'm not looking forward to the grueling climb back up out of the Columbia river basin into the hills of SE Portland tonight. It might take me longer than 90 minutes to do those 20 miles...

Monday, March 27, 2006



Thursday we went to see Train. I have to admit that I only knew maybe 1 or 2 songs and to be honest if I heard one of em play on the radio I'd probable change the station. However, you never know what to expect from a live performance and as I've said before - you never know just how good an opening act is going to be. We started the night off by meeting up with one of Heidi's friends, Barb, who had picked up the tickets and surprised Heidi by buying them off craigslist for us. Barb is really cool and has quite a social network from what I understand - we met up with her before the Aerosmit/Kravitz show as well. Just like that night we started of the night at a pre-party gig at some dudes apartment. The place was in this old house that has a few apartments in it. It was on the top floor and I liked the non-symetrical layout.


The show was at the Crystal Ballroom. This was a cool venue and reminded me alot of Rave and other small venues back in Milwaukee/Chicago. Old theater/ballroom which is actually located on the 2nd floor above the restaurant - which is a McMenamins (do they own all the cool venues here or what...) Since it was an all ages show - everyone was in the same room, but unlike other shows I've been too, they not only stamped you as being overage but seperated you using barriers from the younger crowd. And there wasn't that much of a younger crowd. I'd say a good majority were 30+.


The Ballroom has this large chandelier hanging from the ceiling.


Missy Higgins was great. I'd go see her again.


The watering hole closest to where we were standing only had Pale Ale and PBR... I was forced to going showing my Milwaukee side and chose the PBR. Other stands on the floor had better beer but the damn place was packed - and I mean like people shoulder to shoulder - if you moved you lost your spot. I didn't use the bathroom until the end of the night. Funny thing is that were so damn friendly here... they let people cut up in front of them and I'm like "WTF?"


I have to say that although he has a good voice, it's a little high pitched - he did a good cover of Led Zep and Aerosmith song. Other than that I wouldn't go see these guys again unless there was some good reason for doing something else whilst you were there. I also thought it was weird that the final song was an Aerosmith one - why not do one of your own songs? There were alot of women in the crowd - at least 50/50 - that's not the norm at most shows in Milwaukee/Chicago... either that or maybe it was because it was Train. I also had a couple different women order drinks for me because I couldn't reach the darn bar and I didn't want to give up my spot - again proving how nice the people were to pass the beer and $ back and forth.

  • Missy Higgins - 4/5 stars
  • Train - 2/5 stars
  • Crystal Ballroom - 4/5 stars

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Sigur Ros

I'm excited because we are going to see Sigur Ros here in Portland in 6 weeks on May 4th!


Sigur Ros is a band from Iceland (seriously) that I got hooked on last year. The album I got hooked on, () is untitled, has no lyrics, he does sing but his voice is more of a musical instrument and the lryics are called 'Hopelandic'. One of the songs was featured in the movie Vanilla Sky - and since the song hadn't been recorded yet - it was actually a live version used for a movie - you don't see that very often in this day of production value, cookie cutter, sit in a sound studio and have your music 'perfected' type of music - bleh. Anyway - their new album, Takk..., came out in fall of 2005 and is almost as good - lyrics are in Icelandic so if you're only into certain types of music this may not be your thing. If you're interested in checking them out - check out the videos on their website - and for my buddies back home, they're going to be in Chicago on May 9th and Milwaukee on May 10th.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Another nice weekend...

Here's just some random thoughts...

  • There's a crack in my windshield... it was loud when I heard something bounce off it. I looked around wondering where the sound came from and that's when I noticed the 2 inch circular crack in my windshield. I was driving next to a truck on I-5 at the time - but that may or may not be the cause because I honestly never really saw the object. Hopefully this Windshield Glass Repair Kit will fix it.
  • I won't be riding in the mtn bike race this weekend because there's a couple of pits in my front fork... I need to get the uppers replaced and they have to order some new parts. In hindsight, since I'm now up to $400+ in repairs, and since it was never really leaking oil I am regretting having brought the damn bike in for a tune-up. I really need to figure out how to do more than just change tires, tighten bolts, and oil the chain.
  • I've been off the bike now for quite some time because I have no tires for the commute and no mtn bike... I suppose I should quite crying and ride on my road tires bought I can't seem to find the motivation to shred another pair of tires.
  • Sunny and in the 50's on Saturday and Sunday. It's been typical Oregon weather yesterday and today (very very light rain or none at all). We went to this Italian restaurant, Piazza Italia, on Sunday. The food was excellent and atmosphere was very cool. The people in there were speaking Italian - showing off if you ask me - but it was cool. Although I've never been to Italy - I'm hoping that this must be what it is like.
  • Watched 8 hours of Soprano's this weekend. We came up with the novel idea of catching up to the current season (which is 6 btw) by watching all the prior seasons' via Netflix. I promptly added the DVD's to my queue. All 5 seasons at 4 discs per season and 4 episodes per disc. I did the math later... (5 x 4 x 4 = 80). Yea. That's 80 friggin hours! We're only 1/2 the way through the first season and we are already getting tired... I must say though that we both agreed that even though the first season is old (1999) it is very good. It's not like one of those shows that takes a couple seasons to get good. This is good from the start.

Friday, March 17, 2006

You know you live in the Northwest when...

you drink beer with the rest of the development team during a Friday afternoon meeting after shipping the new release. Ummm... why didn't I move here sooner?

Aladdin Theater

Fun night at the Aladdin last night watching a taping of a live radio show called Live Wire. The show consisted of a group of people that did comedy skits in front of microphones and in-between they would spend 10-15 minutes introducing different acts. Kind of like watching an old Jim Hensen muppet show episode. They even had mock balconies overlooking the stage that I mentioned to Heidi would've been funny if they put the two old guys up there cracking jokes. As for the venue it was basically a theater stage - very similar to old theaters back in Milwaukee and Chicago were you might go see a play or opera or as in most cases - a live band. Ray and I have seen Tesla, Drivin' n' Cryin', and kick a$$ bands like Hollyfaith that no one has ever heard about in venues like this. Most of the crowd was 30+. They served beer, wine, pizza, homemade sweets, and clif bars. All good stuff and for a reasonable price. Only $10 for the show and it lasted just over 2 hours. They record the show as a podcast (mp3 file you can download and listen too) and then replay it over the air on Oregon Public Radio - or you can go to the website to download and listen to the show. It was so good in fact that I'm already looking forward to going to the next one - looks like almost every month they have em. I should mention that one of the acts was a 2 guys on guitar - M. Ward. They were very good. Oh and Happy St. Patrick's day. Too bad they don't dye the rivers green here.... Edit [2006-03-20]: One thing I forgot to mention is that we headed to this place called Bernie's Southern Bistro afterwards. They had awesome fried chicken (boneless skinless breast - can cut it with a fork it was so tender) and homemade mac n' cheese. Mmmm...

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Another flat tire...

I've had this sore throat the past few days so I've stayed off the bike. This morning I figured I'd ride into work. Set the alarm, jump out of bed, start getting ready, and sure enough - my front tire is flat. I used the bike last night to go to the grocery store and somehow I must've flatted during that minor 1/2 mile round trip. There was a nice tear in the side wall of my cyclocross tires so putting a new tube in is going to be NFG - the tire is done... /sigh So I decided to order some commuting tires from Nashbar. These babies are from Europe and not normally available here and have gotten rave reviews on mtbr for being difficult to flat. Some guys stated he's ridden em through broken glass, nails, thorns... Sold.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The mountain

Made the first trip to Mt. Hood this past weekend (Mar 11th) on Saturday. We rented some snow shoes and did abit of walking... a shitload. On our way through the last town before getting to the wilderness we stopped at a donut shop because they had good donuts and really because I needed to purchase a $15 Sno*pass, which is the cost of an annual parking permit basically. In the donut shop Heidi says, "How about a Maple bar their really good." "Um, wtf is a maple bar?" Basically it's a long john with maple flavored frosting. Not bad. And I guess I learned the local lingo for a long john donut. After a short drive we hit the Tillium Lake Trailhead parking lot. The trailhead sign said the loop was 3.5 miles... try more like 7-8 miles. It took us a little over 2 hours and Heidi was spent - even I had a sore ankle (however I do think it was because of the new boots purchased the day before). Trillium Lake is at about 4000 feet of elevation. After the walk we drove up to this ski resort called Timberline which is at 6000 feet. LOTS of snow. Tire chains or traction tires required. We had a couple beers and dinner at the ski lodge and then drove back to Portland.

On the way to Mt. Hood... it's snowing
Putting the snow shoes on
A beautiful hike...
You think the lodge is has abit of snow on it?
Food and beer after a hard day :)

You can check out the rest of the photo's here. The slideshow actually is a pretty good tool.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Beach

Last weekend (Mar 3rd & 4th) Heidi and I spent the weekend at the Salishan resort along the Pacific coast. Fireplace in the room, nice king size bed, room service breakfast...

Some interesting things.

  • Ran into a group of seals while walking along the beach. IMG_0582
  • Houses are not far from falling into the ocean because it is eroding the shoreline. IMG_0591
  • The houses seem to be built on sand! IMG_0590
  • Heidi keeps alot of travel sized tissues in her glove compartment. IMG_0586
  • There's basically saying you're going to die if you go in the water. IMG_0587
  • The ?kelp? looks like a giant whip from Indiana Jones movies and feels like a piece of rubber - it's squishy (like that word?). IMG_0593
  • They still clear cut the forest in some areas and it's ugly when they do that. IMG_0596
  • Met a strange guy at a local watering hole on Sat night who bragged about his son and his money, recommended a great place to eat on Sunday and then we saw him walking down the main highway hitchhiking the next day - huh? IMG_0599
  • Had some great Chai Tea (I'm getting hooked on this stuff...) at the Clipper Ship Coffee Co. They use a mix made by Big Train. Beats Starbucks by a long shot. Highly recommended IMG_0611

Friday, March 10, 2006

Switched to gmail yet?

Been using yahoo (email, calendar, home page) for a long time - since 05/18/1997 in fact. You got to love competition though. Summer of last year (2005) - started using gmail. Love it - hate having to use yahoo mail now. It lacks a calendar though but check out the calendar module they're working on. Cool.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Last week wrapup

Wednesday night last week my friend Jenn got us box seat tickets to the Portland vs the Lakers game.  Portland has been doing very poor lately and the Lakers record was just barely .500 so we weren't sure what to expect game-wise.  Also the owner of the Trailblazers, Paul Allen, is trying to sell the team so we weren't sure what to expect stadium-wise.  The seats rocked - about mid-court - a little to the left.  We got there an hour early because they had free food for box seats.  What I like about Portland is they like good beer.  Hefeweizen is the mainstay - (think Hacker Pschorr with the lemon) - although they do sell the domestics.  Then there was all the festivities surrounding Mardi Gras wrapping up.  There was this cool band and these guys on stilts before the game and they also did the half time show.  The game ended up being good with the Trailblazers leading by 3 with 10 seconds left and the Lakers driving down the court.  Some guy on the Trailblazers stole the ball at mid-court and dunked it on the opposite end and the crowd went wild as the game was wrapped up.  One thing I noticed.  A LOT of Lakers fans.  Everytime the Lakers scored the cheers were almost as loud as when the Trailblazers scored.  Heidi says this is because alot of people move up here from California.  Makes sense.  Overall it was a great night and a fun experience.

Portland vs Lakers Ticket

Thursday night I met Heidi, her friend Kristen and her Mom out for dinner and drinks at this place called the Raccoon Lounge.  They brew there own bee there.  There’s alot of breweries here in Portland.  Many more than Milwaukee.  Portland is also known for the number of ‘adult’ establishments that are here.  Both strip clubs and just plain old ‘accessory’ stores.  Locals here will sometimes give directions by which porn shop the place your looking for is closest too.  “Oh yea – that’s over by such and such”, thereby giving Portland the other title of Pornland.  Heidi, Kristen and I then went to this bar called Tillicum.


Outside it looked like nothing.  Just a small bar.  Inside it was kind of cool.  A band played some blues/jazz songs and everyone sat at a tables.  Waitress brought you drinks and food.  BTW, by law every establishment that serves beer MUST serve food in Oregon.  And what’s with Keno.  You could play it while sitting there.  There was a TV screen rolling off the numbers.  I saw it again this weekend at the beach… must be popular here.  Gambling back home was strictly something you did at the Casino.  Now I’ve seen a few Casino’s here but I’ve also seen alot of places with gambling in them… weird.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

You’re a rockstar for biking in that crap

I noticed Apple released a sound system that integrates with your iPod called iPod Hi-Fi.  Hello Yesterday.  Remote control, portability via AC or DC power, great sound, charges your iPod … all those features are in the Altec Lansing inMotion Portable Audio Boombox I bought back in January for $100.

I got a complement today.  “You’re a rockstar for biking in that crap.”  I’ll take that as a compliment coming from someone from the Pacific NW.  Yesterday as I left work to ride home it started raining.  As I shot out of the building I thought “it’s raining pretty hard for out here”.  Well my co-workers were watching from the window on the fourth floor and said it was actually hailing.  Hey – I’m from Milwaukee/Chicago… where’s the snow?  The ride home was more difficult because of all the climbing.  I’ve never really had to deal with climbing like this.  Elevation is really a factor out here.  It’s not back in the midwest where you simply crest a hill and keep going – you crest a hill here and then the next one comes along and before you know it you look back and you’re looking into a valley you just rode up.  I think I might have to change my chainring.  I find myself constantly looking for a lower gear sometimes when riding a hill and my Cyclocross bike just doesn’t have any more lower gears to give to me so I end up spinning a lower cadence and struggling up the hill… so in total it was 38 miles round trip and about 2500 calories.  I wish I had the total elevation/altitude – some day I’m going to get me that Garmin GPS unit.

Kevin and my Dad will appreciate this.  Check this out.  World of Warcraft Scores 6 Million.  If that’s true and they charge $14.99 / mo – what the heck does a gaming company do with $90 million a month?  For those of you that don’t game there’s plenty of games out there that hardly ever scratch the surface of making that kind of money.  So in one year – a single game from a single company pulls down 1 Billion.  Yea but you’re right.  Gaming is just a small niche thing that geeks do… whatever.