Saturday, June 30, 2007

Movie Review: Day Watch -- Russian Vampires

Finally got to see Day Watch after a few failed attempts. Caught it at the Laurelhurst theater before it finally disappeared off Portland's big screens. [of all the trailers, the one intended for American audiences works best I think, I grabbed it for you -- American Trailer.]

First, the grade -- A-. Absolutely watchable, I enjoyed it quite a bit.

There is a bit more "hollywood polish" to this movie over the first one in the series. It had much more of a budget and in certain circumstances it shows. But overall, it has a very similar feel to the first movie -- just downright weird. My basic positive reaction to the movie comes from it's utterly original depiction of magic. Everyday objects are used to enormous effect -- like an old-fashioned flash camera to stop time. And you never know who has what magical skill or ability, so you just have to suspend disbelief or continuity and watch. It gives the film, even this one with Hollywood backing, a wonderful unpredictable quality.

Plot-wise, this movie was more predictable than the first, but in my mind not debilitating so. I do get so tired of hackneyed plot lines and timing. There is a romantic interest worked up in this movie that makes some aspects of the storyline more predictable than the first. But when a "big kiss" scene does show up, and you are about to cringe in expectation of the Hollywoodness of the thing -- they immediately switch to an over-the-top camping up of the scene which got the whole audience in the theater laughing.

As with the first one, this movie had a lot more to do with magic and intrigue and politicking between the different factions than it did actual vampirism. Not much blood sucking going on. Which is fine by me.

Cinematically it also showed a lot of consistency with the first movie. It is gritty, sometimes overexposed, colorful and unpredictable. Weird shaky camera techniques are used and manage to keep it fresh but not overwhelm the viewer. The fashion is over the top, many of the stunts are over the top, and it all seems to fit together in a cohesive look. I personally enjoy this director's style, even if it can get a bit overwhelming at times. It's worth it in my book.

So, if you are at all interested in horror movies (which it's not), magic (has plenty of), vampires (barely shown as such, but there and classy in a post-modern way) or just action movies (plenty) then see it. And, if you get a chance, let me know what you think I'll be curious.

Friday, June 29, 2007

FYI -- this blog is not for the uninitiated

So I ran my blog through some anonymous feature widget and it rated The Institute for Jurassic Technology a:

Online Dating

Mingle2 -

Thanks to Chantel for pointing out this feature in her blog.

Here's the interesting part tho -- it cited my use of the words "bitch" and "death" as the reasons I got the rating.

How come the f-word didn't come into this? Maybe it just didn't dig deep enough.

Bodyworlds at OMSI

I had the pleasure of attending Body Worlds 3 at Omsi with Lil' Mike, Tweaky and Doc Ock. I think the exhibit would have been plenty interesting as it stood, but going with an autopsy tech (Doc Ock) gave it a whole new dimension.

"Oh, you see how that spine is cut -- I had to do that the other day! You take this circular saw and..."

It cemented the reality of the thing to hear his hands-on stories.

For anyone who is interested in bodywork, or health, or just being more aware of the body they are walking around in I can't suggest this exhibit enough. There are huge prints talking about "Man" and "Mortality", the wonder of the human body, impermanence etc. around. Some of them are interesting, some didn't do much for me (not a big fan of Kant, sue me). It all lends to an atmosphere of contemplation -- and kinda pulls it off, amazingly enough. In all, this exhibit can be many things to a visitor: a meditation on impermanence, a fantastic anatomy lesson, or an exercise in awareness.

I know the "awareness" angle is vague, let me give an example. I have in the past had a debilitating cramp that would lock me up upon awakening if I had worked hard and made my lower back sore the day before. After years of not having any idea what muscle it was (I had assumed Groin because of the feeling of it) I was told by a Naturopath that it was my Psoas that was cramping. And, it was cramping due to a pinched nerve caused by bad pelvic tilt (amazing what years wearing a tool belt will do to ya). Big news, because it let me know the stretches I was doing to prevent or alleviate the cramp weren't at all correct and needed to be adjusted.

So, I spent much of my time in the beginning of the Bodyworlds show just looking for and identifying the Psoas muscle. I wanted to see where it attached, how it ran through the hip, where it attached to the leg. I saw how big and meaty it was -- which made sense considering the strength of those cramps. I admit, I geeked out when I found it, pointing "there you are you RASCAL, I seeee youuuuuu, no hiding now!" People stared, whatever. I now have a solid image for the thing that I can work with when dealing with it. It's real to me, not just an abstract notion. Maybe that's not a big thing for some, but I find it helpful to visualize something in my body when I need to work with some problem or another.

The show was a trip. I didn't see much of it as "art" per se, I was more on the educational slant. Some of the poses were pretty however, the aesthetic aspect was easier to see after I had been in the exhibit for a while and gotten over any initial uncomfortable reaction I had in the beginning.

My favorite exhibits, from a visual standpoint, were the blood vessels only specimens. Specifically the liver and kidneys were just amazing and beautiful. The veins were dyed bright red, and presented on black and dark blue backgrounds, lit with a small spot from above -- very striking. Imagining how they pulled this stuff off technically is mind-bender that will entertain geek-types who attend the exhibit as well.

ps: Click the pictures for bigger and better detail.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Plastic Back to Oil, Tires to Diesel

Holy cow, just saw this and had to post it. Apparently there is a way to turn plastics back into oil using microwaves. I'll be interested to hear more about this.

I blatantly grabbed this off Jack Bog's Blog, props for finding it Jack.

I also found a (horribly made) video where microwaves were used to make diesel fuel out of old tires.


When Stingrays Attack

A stingray stabbed another man in the chest, it seems.

Steve Irwin died of a very similar wound not long ago, as any of us who watch media know, and it happened again. The ray had jumped into this man's boat (pretty weird behavior for this particular species of ray), and the 81-year-old man was trying to help it back into the water when it nailed him. He lost his spleen to the incident, but the stinger never made it to his heart.

The title of this post is a joke of course, stingrays don't attack anything offensively but little critters in the sand for food. Just a trip that this exact wound happened yet again -- even if it was under totally different circumstances.

Steve Irwin was more than likely fucking with the animal when it stabbed him. Stingrays will attack defensively. I don't hold the reverence for him that so many other people seem to (when you see the eulogies it's kinda crazy idol worship). I saw a guy who messed with animals for a living, whatever. In his case he was probably jacking the thing around and it stung him out of defensive reflex. It definitely wasn't going after him.

In any case, freaky to have two chest wounds to or near to the heart in such quick succession. Only 17 deaths have been reported ever due to stingrays at this point, most folks experience pain and possibly infection and then recover under normal medical attention.

Although this story isn't breaking news, it was freaky enough that I wanted to share. I've seen spotted rays before, and they're gorgeous to watch under water.

Enjoy your terrestrial existence,


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Awesome beyond belief -- Stevie Wonder performs "Superstition" live on Sesame Street

I blatantly grabbed this off a new favorite blog of mine Your Daily Awesome. The song and the clothes alone are fly beyond reason, but add the little kid rocking out at the top of the stairs and this is quickly becoming my favorite youtube of the year.



Simple Rules: Don't feed the trolls

You know, most rules to live by in life are quite simple, and yet they can improve our lot so much. They can bring so much peace and joy.

Like -- don't feed the trolls. I made the mistake of engaging in a bit of banter on another blog's comments section this morning because I felt someone was being unduly negative.

They, of course banted back, and I back, then I realized -- I've broken one of life's simple rules. This is going nowhere but escalation, this is stupid and a waste of my time. Of course they're going to come back with negativity, they started with negativity -- DUH. What am I getting from all of this besides peeved -- nothing.

Like my comment is going to reverse something -- hell a snarky comment by me is basically the same thing they did. I was being a troll too -- I felt just as justified posting as they did when they made their post, but in the end it's just opinions. Everyone's got one and everyone thinks everyone else's stinks (I'll leave out the anatomical part of that saying, I'm sure you know it anyway).

You'd think after years on MMORPG discussion boards, I would have had this simple rule drilled into my head. I guess I needed a reminder -- AFOFG it is then.

Enjoy your day,


More about my visit with The Marine, using rain barrels to flush your toilets

I forgot one of the most important reasons for visiting The Marine. He showed me his model for running a toilet on rainwater from a simple rainbarrel.

It is a simple system, using a few moving parts and valves and what not. There is a demand-on water pump with a hammer-reducer thingy downwind to keep the vibration down in the water line. The rainwater line runs to a T where the normal water comes in to the toilet and has simple on/off valves on both lines so you can switch over from rain to drinking water. There is a backflow device on the drinking water line to insure no rainwater goes back into the service as well.

Not that he or I would ever do such a thing, it being so difficult to permit in this city. Nor am I advocating everyone in Portland Oregon doing such a simple and cheap fix to using perfectly good DRINKING WATER to flush your offal to the treatment plant. That would be disruptive, and drop everyone's sewer bills dramatically since the sewer bill is calculated on your winter water usage. That would be... horribly reasonable and economical. Can't have that.

You see, the thing with rainbarrels is you need to find a use for the water in the winter, when it's getting filled up every single day. In the dead of summer, when you want water for your garden or lawn, there isn't rain around here. Back East that would be a different story, but here in the Pacific N.W. the summers are quite dry. So, either you install an enormous cistern to store winter water into the summer, or you use more discrete rain barrels and find ways to utilize the water when it is abundant. Like flushing your toilets. Apparently (hypothetically, of course) one rainbarrel will easily run a toilet for 2-3 people all winter.

I'm excited about the prospect of doing this type of greywater system in my house. Not that I AM mind you, just love the idea. And will be getting the materials probably this summer. And finally relenting to learning some plumbing.

That's the worst part actually, learning some plumbing. I've prided myself on my lack of plumbing knowledge. It's something I was planning to pay for for the rest of my life. I have worked on almost every other aspect of a house, from framing to finish to electrical to roofing, and have learned that once you know something, you are expected to DO that thing. I don't want to do plumbing, so I've avoided knowing it. But for this project, I'm willing to learn.

That is, so I can produce a prototype and mount it on a board or something to show other people how it COULD be done. I of course would never ACTUALLY do it -- with the prohibitive greywater laws and all. *cough*

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Friend Portrait: The Marine

The first of the Summer Friend Visits has happened, and I had to post another Friend Portrait in honor.

I visited The Marine in his native environs last night and had a fabulous time. I use the word "fabulous" specifically here, because he uses the word fabulous. This is one of the very many things I enjoy about The Marine -- he loves to use archaic or out-dated vernacular, especially if it's confusing for folks. He's not in the slightest bit gay, but loves to use the word "fabulous" enough that people really give him a double take and wonder what the hell is going on there. He likes the fact that not only does it have the fey connotation, but it was a word grandmas used in the early 60's -- both images jar people enough to make him quite happy.

The Marine got his pseudonym not only from the fact that he is a former Marine, but that he is hard-headed and staunch enough to this day to warrant it. You wouldn't assume right off the bat that he had served in the military, with the metal sculptures he created scattered about the front porch and yard (one of which includes a HEART SHAPE of all non-military things), the tango parlor in his house, or the love he displays toward his pets (currently a fuzzy Siamese-mix cat, but formerly a geriatric little chipmunk named Gonzo he rescued while still in the military). Much of the picture of the current Marine doesn't strike one as particularly militant.

Of course if you ask his opinion of just about anything, you would get a distinctly military whiff of gunpowder and cold steel coming right back at you -- despite the cozy details of his house. The Marine has a few opinions, and isn't afraid to share them.

The Marine also likes power. We had a fabulous conversation about this fact early on in our relationship his part of which I will paraphrase:
"You know what, in a standard Portland drinking party you can get away with a good bit of chauvinism, some racism, and tons of ageism -- you can be plenty non-P.C and hardly be a blip on the social radar. But when I'm at a party and I say in conversation that I enjoy power, you should SEE the reaction I get. People flip out immediately, and mount the attack. It's amazing."

This love is why he flew fighter jets, why he enjoys using a cutting torch and shooting guns (he's a "registered marksman" or somesuch, with the government). Nothing deranged, just a healthy attraction for that-which-moves-things, or destroys those things in the trying.

Thinking back to this conversation was what solidified his nickname. It's not entirely accurate, in that it doesn't present the side of him that is a strong social justice advocate, peace advocate, environmentalist, and father. But hoo hah to that, he's totally a Marine, and should you meet him you'd feel the same.

There were a few purposes for my visit outside of just socializing with an old friend. I picked up some color slides and some black and white negatives he took when he came up to visit me at the fire lookout. There is precious little documentation in film of my life in general, and since I was writing the journals up on my other blog I figured some visuals would be nice to have. I also needed to drop a check off for the M.S. 150 bikathon fund raiser he does every year. Lastly, I needed desperately to see his carnivorous plant collection. In the order of importance, this last point actually should have been first.

That reminds me, I was supposed to get a few starts from him and failed to pick them up. Got to get back over there -- The Wife can have her orchids and I'll have my carnivorous plants... perfect.

The Marine and I first met over bones. My girlfriend at the time came running breathlessly into our room in NW Portland one day and said "there's this guy at the art house across the street, his room is full of BONES you HAVE to SEE THEM, they're AMAZING. He even has a DOLPHIN SKULL!!" I got myself over there right away.

He lived at the time on the ground floor of a cooperative art-house, with french-doors to his room. The first thing I noticed was that he had a 2x4 across the threshold of the french doors. "That is to keep Gonzo in -- she's old so can't jump over it, works fine." I walked into the room, and sure enough, was surrounded by bones. Little skulls on the bookshelves, what looked to be a human femur made into a flute, and enormous vertebrate that could easily be used to make furniture. These were whale vertebrae. They are still on his front porch today... looking bitchin as ever.

"Oh, you are barefoot. You might want to jump up on something, Gonzo doesn't like competing smells, she'll bite your feet if she gets a chance." Nothing like the thought of an attacking rodent to keep you keen in a conversation. I scrunched up on his bed like a scared little girl.

The conversation that ensued rambled from his trips to Baja kayaking every year, to his time traveling in Africa, to Buddhism and non-violence, to anarchism and the lunacy of gun control. It was a great start to what is now a long friendship. I realized on this last visit that we've been friends now for over 16 years. That's just nutty.

I guess I've burned enough text on The Marine tonight. There is so much more to tell, but I'll leave the telling in context as we hang out more.

OH, I will present the details of the refreshments I was served after we had our carnivorous plant tour. First was 90% single-plantation dark chocolate (he had 100% available but we decided upon the lesser), and next was Pulque. This is a milky, fizzy alcoholic beverage that is made from Agave, like Tequila. It's like Agave beer or wine. Not very easy to get, but it agrees with his sensitive guts and is strange enough to fit in with the rest of his life, so he hoards it.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Video of two of my favorite things: Pika and Sir David Attenborough

These little guys are one of my favorite animals in Oregon. They were all over the talus slopes I hiked in the fire lookout days. Something about the look of them all stretched out when they call just kills me.

Them plus one of my personal heroes, Sir David Attenborough, makes for a clip worthy of sharing.

If you are hiking in the high country, take note of the sound of these calls -- I can guarantee you will hear it often in the Oregon Cascades.

Bullet the Blue Sky, glad to hear it again

Feel free to ignore the video and just listen to the song. I have no connection with the tv show it depicts, but it's the only source I could find for the studio version of the song on the whole internet (would love for someone to provide me a link to the 'real' music video if you find it!).

I was watching a trailer for The Kingdom, which will be coming out in September, when I heard this song being used. It reminded me how much I've always loved it, then and now.

I think this piece is unique for U2, and in my opinion is their best song.

The movie I am highly suspicious of, and will be watching with a critical eye. The chance that it has a hidden or not so hidden ulterior P.R. motive is great, considering the timing of the thing. The possibilities are just about endless for what angle is being presented in it. I was going to speculate but I'll just wait on that. No need to get all conspiratorial so soon after a great trip to the wilderness.

Enjoy the music,


"SL" names doomed, a bit of dictionary research

So T. was all hopped up on Pu'erh tea yesterday, and chatty as hell. I was flipping through Vanity Fair (yes we have a subscription, long story) and saw a country western star featured with her two kids. One of whom is named Slade. T. popped off with a comment about how "SL" names are surely going to be inauspicious. "Think about SL words, they're all bad, at least slow.... slow, slovenly, sloth... not good, not good at all." This prompted pulling out our HUGE dictionary that sits in the front room. Sure enough he's right, there are precious few SL words that have a good connotation.

When you open up Websters new 20th century Unabridged, second edition, you find a long and seedy list of words in the SL category. You start with Slab -- kinda innocuous, until you read the obscure meanings, "thick; viscious, slimy." There we go with slimy, using a SL word to dam another SL word. Slabber, another way to say slobber. Then there's slobber itself, and slob. Slack, slag -- not super uplifting.

The poor boy's name itself starts good; slade, n. a little dell or valley (the part I'm sure the music star was referring to); also, a flat piece of low, moist ground. A second definition puts it as a noun meaning the sole of a plow.

So T. says in the least it pushes toward slow, wet, muddy, retrogressive in most of the SL word meanings.

Slam, not too bad. Slang -- a "low" twist on proper language. Slank, low land inundated when the water is high in an adjoining stream. Slap, slapdash, slash, slasher, slat (sharp blow) -- not so hot, from a name perspective. We get to slate next -- not bad, a hard, fine-grained rock. Then get to a verb transitive definition, "to punish severely, to abuse." Always that dark interior somewhere.

Don't get me started with Slave and all the words associated with that horror.

Sleave pops up, kinda neutral meaning but not inspired name material. Sleek -- not bad. Sleep -- again, slow and uninspired. Sleet, sleigh, sleuth -- not too bad. Slice, slick, slight, slip, slink, sliver, slish (a cut, a slit) -- gets kinda scary there or at least darkly ambiguous (slick was a positive vernacular for a long time, now it's denoting someone untrustworthy -- a slick car salesman).

Sloe was cool, berries from a small bitter blue black wild plum, Prunus spinosa, used to flavor Sloe Gin.

Sloop -- not a great sounding word but a low slung one masted warship. War in a boy's name tends to be popular.

Then we're back to slop, sloth, slosh, slouch, slough, slovenly, and slow. Not good not good.

Slub was an interesting one, "a roll of fiber, as of wool or cotton, twisted slightly for use in spinning." Named after a skein of fiber -- could be neutral maybe.

Slum, slur, sly, slut, slushy, slurry, slattern -- again not so hot.

Another favorite word discovered was slumgullion, "n. 1. the refuse draining from the cutting-up of a whale for its blubber; also, the offal of any fish. 2. a drink of weak tea or coffee; also, a meat stew with vegetables (Slang.). 3. a low, worthless fellow: used in derision." There must be ways to use such a versatile and interesting slam, and I will find them.

In the end, we wish the kid good health and happiness, but feel the choice of name was not well advised. We amused ourselves for nearly an hour over this issue.

As if Ms. Country Western star gives a hoot.


Ps: If you can think of names starting with SL that are obviously auspicious, please share in the comments.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

First photo from Hanbleceya, Steens Mountains from Akicita post (in the style of Catherine the Great)

Lots of info in this photograph: I'm up at the Akicita (pronounced a kee chee tah) post at sunrise, those are the Steens Mountains in the background, and there is basalt and juniper everywhere. The whole "taking photos of your feet" is an inspiration from Catherine The Great.

I did 2 sunrise shifts up there, keeping an eye out for camp. Akicita (roughly translated as "warrior") is a lookout post, you have binoculars and a radio to call into camp if someone is coming in. In 9 years, only last year did the Akicita post call in to camp; once because 5 cowpokes (1 woman, 4 men, all horseback, 4+ dogs) drove 200 or so head of cattle past camp no more than 300 yards away; and secondly because a BLM guy on a 4-wheel ATV came blazing into camp. It worked out great, once to keep the camp quiet and hidden, and once to make sure we had a welcome crew for the government agent. BLM Guy turned out to be very nice, courteous and respectful. He was just curious to see who had been using the spot, hanging prayer ties, etc.

I'm back from Hanbleceya ceremony, there are dusty clothes all over the living room floor, and I have a lot of settling in to do. I also have to get a Flickr account, and get going on some photographic excess for ya'll.

ps: Found out, to my dismay, that this camera only goes to F8.0 -- it really is a snap and shoot, and I already feel cramped. I wanted 16 or better yet 32 for this shot. Oh well.

More later,


Thursday, June 14, 2007

--Back on the 24th, see you soon--

Figured a picture of big beautiful White Peonies would work out as a place holder.

Enjoy the beginning of your summer. I aught to have a few good stories when I come home.



Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Pretty much my favorite band ever: Soul Coughing - Screenwriter's Blues

Ok, home from finals, time to put on some music. This Band was fantastic, and I'm sad they broke up. They have very few videos to chose from, but I picked this because the lyrics are simply brilliant -- especially if you've ever lived in L.A. Doughty nails it.

As my friends know, I'm a sucker for a heavy funky baselines, as well as fusion (Doughty calls some of their music "deep slacker jazz"), as well as stand up bass, as well as surrealist/poetic lyrics. So -- here we are with Soul Coughing, who consist of singer/rhythm guitar, sample machine, jazz drummer (who is astounding), and stand up acoustic bass. Plus, as a poet and lyricist I think Doughty kicks butt. There is so much intimated and hinted at in the tone and word choice of his songs, the writing between the lines is dense and very witty.

This song is off their debut album Ruby Vroom, which is probably their best. Their Second Album has some great stuff on it, but wasn't as strong. Their third album, El Oso, was just as strong as the first but in different ways. Ruby Vroom is very lyrically oriented, and I'm into that. Just know this song is only one of their many styles, they have stuff that's much more electronic sounding, stuff that's much more "dancey" and stuff that's quieter. Your best bet, if you haven't bought anything before, will be the Best Of Album. I've perused it and they made good choices.

Enjoy, I'mma go pack.


Vision Quest ceremony, Hanbleceya

Tomorrow morning at 0-dark-hundred I'll be heading out to support a Vision Quest camp. Specifically, I'll be supporting one lady who is going up "on the hill" as it's termed, to fast. I figured I'd just post a few thoughts or introductions to this ceremony as it is performed by the Redwind family.

The Hanblecheya ceremony outwardly means sitting alone in the desert, in a small altar (not big enough to lay down generally), praying. The idea is that you are there to pray and nothing else, so you don't eat, you don't drink water, and you don't even sleep if you can pull that off. If possible you don't even sit down. At least that is where you set your sights. It can last anywhere from overnight, to 4 days/nights -- there are rare occasions where people "do a double" and stay 8 days. In my experience, "doubles" are so rare nowadays as almost to be a thing of legend. My first teacher had performed one in the 60's, and the only people he mentioned who had done it were all heavy medicine people. In some lineages, 4 full days are expected from Sun Dancers, but this isn't a hard and fast rule by any means.

Hearing about the ceremony, people who are unfamiliar with the tradition generally get caught up thinking about the physical realities. It's a daunting proposition, being without food and water in the desert (at least we go to the desert) for 4 days. From a purely physical standpoint, that's really pushing it. From a spiritual standpoint, you just do what you need to do to walk in the footsteps of the tradition -- and all the details built into the ceremony have their reasons. The only way to really realize the wisdom behind the ceremony is to experience it.

This is an intensely personal ceremony. The length of time a person has committed to being up is a secret, and details about what they experienced in their altar are only shared (initially) with the Intercessor of the ceremony and possibly not even them. Questers are instructed to keep their dreams and visions and prayers close to the heart and let them sink in before attempting to share them.

In the end, at least from my personal experience, it's almost impossible to relay what happens to anyone else. It is like trying to describe a dream to someone that had great power for you. The details and references from the dream are so personal that often you cannot really share it a way that can be understood. For me, the Hanbleceya experiences I've had never did translate. Most attempts I made just seemed to drain the power or magic of the experience away. In the end, I drew some pictures and kept some notes, and I go back to review them when I am called to. I always find more information when I do this. The more time passes, and the more I have lived into the prayers I made there, the more I understand the results of those intentions.

Hanbleceya in the old days, as I was taught, was basically a threshold ceremony for young adults. A ceremony performed in the transition to adulthood, where the individual could have an intense experience of their own connection to the divine and pray for direction in their life. I have also been taught that it was performed by anyone who found themselves without direction, or in need of clarification about big decisions in their life. It wasn't, even in the old days, only performed by young adults.

In my opinion, the modern world stunts our development as adults. Many adults find themselves without purpose or direction, and without a connection to a greater cause or meaning. This, to me, is a delayed adolescence. Many people never develop beyond this stymied adolescent state. This ceremony, in my opinion, is a fantastic way to begin walking as adults again.

I could go on and on, but have another final to take and a trip to pack for. I expect I'll post more before I leave tomorrow morning, at least a quickie goodbye post.

I request folks send good vibes, thoughts, and prayers to the Redwind family over the next week, most importantly to the Questers. They are doing important work, not only for themselves, but for everyone else too.



Tuesday, June 12, 2007

D-day, Zells for Last Supper

Alrighty folks, it's D-day. I'll post something informative and interesting in the near future, but for now it's all about Evolution and Chemistry. Didn't want to throw another video up to "just have posted" something, so this will be my placeholder.

Going out to breakfast with Captain America and Big Chocolate at Zells cafe. I'll leave the reviews, for now, to the professionals, but say that until further notice Zells is my favorite brunch place in town. Has been for years. We used to joke that everything had Gruyere cheese in it -- but is this really a crime?

Anyway, A day of studying only punctuated by my Chemistry test tonight. I will post again before I leave for the desert, a little explanation.

Enjoy your sunny and test-free days,


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Genmaicha tasting

Genmaicha is a Japanese green tea mixed with toasted rice. For a few weeks now T. has been pushing me to re-try Japanese greens, especially Genmaicha, so this morning I joined him for a few cups and was pleasantly surprised. I told him, "it's like I've had a nice Japanese meal, and some green tea to wash it down, and I'm sitting at the table just staring out the window -- enjoying the lingering flavors." We laughed, but I was serious too. The flavors had hints of the ocean, and there was also a nice bit of grassy astringency to back it up. The toasted rice flavor mixed surprisingly well with the green tea, giving the whole cup a warm earthiness that I wasn't expecting.

In general, when it comes to upscale, fancy teas, I'm an Oolong man. High mountain Oolongs, to be specific, the higher the better. The Japanese greens are such a totally different style of tea that they can taste fishy, or seaweedy to me when I've been on a severe Oolong bender. When I first tried them, I was in heavy heat over Taiwanese high mountain teas and really didn't give them a fair shake. This morning, after my first few sips, I was a convert to Genmaicha. It is known as a "beginners" Japanese green tea, and maybe I have to admit my status in this regard. It will be a nice to have around when I need to mix things up a bit from my normal, hidebound, Oolong obsessiveness.

Apparently, Genmaicha used to be the tea of the poor. It was made cheaply using the lowest grade teas and cut with rice. But now, it's all the rage with the urban in-crowd in Japan. This trend has prompted producers to make high-grade versions of the tea. This, of course, is what Jasmine Pearl carries. Their Genmaicha has an abundance of green tea in the mix, so that flavor doesn't get lost to the toasty flavor of the rice, as can happen with lower grade blends.

And now, back to studying human evolution and the African diaspora.

Flashback - - Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel - White Lines

Found this video the other day on a whim. Finals are two days away, and then I leave immediately to the desert to help out at a Vision Quest (Hanblecheya) ceremony, where I am supporting a quester. I'll have to attempt an explanation of that whole scene before I leave -- but for now, some break dancing.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Tea Study -- Sula caught in a Full Monty

T. was studying and tasting for work at the Jasmine Pearl Tea Merchants, and had his whole spread laid out. I've left the image in "humungo" size so if you click on it you can peruse details if you want: reference books, gardening books for when he's on a break, multifarious tea samples, notebook for "keeper" comments, clipboard for on-the-fly tea notes, the largest of the Tea Yachts (drain tray A La Richard Brandt), Gai Wan tea cup, glass tea pot (great for testing since you can see color while brewing) and various cups -- it's a plethora of tea paraphernalia. T. stood up for a moment and Sula was there to take advantage of the warm spot left behind. Despite the weird grayscale lighting, I had to post the picture.

[Tea isn't the only activity that Sula shares with her monkeys, she gets acupuncture too.]

Something about this song can be palliative -- Godsmack: Voodoo

OK this video is inane, but I dig the song -- old geezer or no. The video is a legal way for me to deliver this song to the blog, so here ya go.

Bit stressed, with finals coming up -- and in a grumpy mood tonight (unusual for me, to be honest). This song came on the radio while I'm driving to go study. I turned it up and by the time I arrived at school was somehow feeling much better. Maybe it's the great baseline. Certainly not the normal stuff I listen to lately, more what I listened to while I was a less-happy, blue-collar, 40-hour-a-week crawlspace denizen. And, probably more like what I was listening to fresh out of high school as well.

This blog sure is going all over the place, I'll have to do a project that is "topical" in the future so I can see what it would be like to build an audience instead of scaring off the biologists with rock music videos, while at the same time offending the baby boomers with the bad crotch references.

Enjoy yourselves,


Friday, June 8, 2007

Crow Pie for breakfast, the Veruka Salt Massacre

Or, double entendre for breakfast, whichever you prefer.

OK, so I talked to one of my lawyer friends about the whole Veruka Salt situation, and the commentors are correct -- she was being slapped harder than the average first offender. At least by Oregon standards. 3-4 days, apprently, is about normal for the circumstances she was in.

As for precedent regarding Corrections early-releasing an inmate -- this is also perfectly legit, and subject to judicial review.

So much for posting while my head is up my posterior. I'll do my research BEFORE I spout my mouth off next time, lesson learned. I'll keep the original post up, tempting as it is to sweep it under the rug. As we say in our house, "another fucking opportunity for growth."

Humbly yours,


Thursday, June 7, 2007

Veruca Salt released from jail

I didn't want to touch this whole Paris Hilton thing, but her being released from jail just begs a comment.

I don't care who she is, I care about what it says. It says so much, but definitely, first and foremost, it says if you have enough money the rules don't apply to you. As if we haven't had enough of that with politicians and CEO's over the past couple decades. It says that the prisons don't have to listen to the courts (that's going to be a fun precedent). It says that if you are poor and even worse *gasp* brown, you will go down hard; but if you are rich and white you are still, indelibly, excruciatingly exempt from justice.

Not a good scene. Wish I could be more eloquent, but I'll let it rest at that.

Photos linked across the world -- Photosynth demonstration

This is Blaise Aguera y Arcas domonstrating new image technology at Microsquash called Photosynth. I normally don't go for the technie end of things on this blog, but I believe this warrants the attention. Just watch, and make sure to get to the last 1/4, that's where things get trippy. The positive ramifications are fantastic, I haven't come up with distopic ones yet, but I'm sure they exist as well. Creating an accurate, 3-dimensional wiki of all the world's favorite places... pretty amazing really (I know I know, that's a very liberal use of the term, but you get what I mean).

Thanks to Muse for turning me on to this video.

ps/edit/announcement: HOLY CRAP I JUST FIXED HTML CODE!!! When trying to post this the video didn't embed right and I just ... fixed it. With, like <'s and /'s and everything. I feel so... burly -- so technologically potent.

The Stars are So Big -- a somber catch from the blogosphere

I was cruising Orblogs, a collection of Oregon-based or centered blogs (they post my blogs, which is very cool) when I came across this post. It is a simple post in a personal blog, I found it touching without being maudlin, and personal without being confessional. It is about a suicide bomber in Iraq, media, and living your life anyways. The quote from the second grader is just awesome -- staggeringly awesome.



Wednesday, June 6, 2007

A better example of singing to the wife over email

I was informed that, although entertaining, the song I posted earlier today wasn't a good representation of the email singing I do for The Wife. She suggested I post something a little more representative. So here is one I dug up from the end of tax season when she was pulling 60 - 70 hour weeks and was starting to get grumpy.

OH look at that huuuuuge lock on tha wallll

It's ticking down



The clockonthewall she be ticking downnnnnnnn


The clockonthewall she be ticking doooownnnnn

She be ticking, she be ticking,

The clockonthewall she be ti -- cking ---- doooowwwwnnnnnnnn

*wild applause*

*over a scratchy mic in a smokey irish bar*

"That's for my wife ladies and gentlemen, she's an accountant, and is eeking out the last days of "the bad season" -- give her a round of applause folks, share the love."

*wild applause*


The Wife's response: "You are so weird."

Occasionally I sing to The Wife over email

The title of the email normally is "oooooooohhhhhh" (warming up the throat). Today's tete-a-tete follows:

[starting volley, the singing part]

she's at work and I'm at school

she's at work and I'm at school


she's at work and I'm at schoolllllllllll

and T. cracked cornnnnnn


some don't carrrreeeeeee

[tete-a-tete begins]

Wife: I am glad to see you are feeling appropriately frisky today.

Bp: define frisky.

if it involves bloodshot eyes, lots of swirling pretty colors with the occasional skeleton peeking out from behind the book stacks, then yes I am frisky

Wife: Oh it’s not that bad! The term is almost over!!!

Bp: tell me 'bout the rabbits....

Wife: Rabbits?

Bp: graphes of wrath reference, sorry

Wife [who holds a degree in english lit]: Yikes….I gave up that literature crap ages ago!

Bp: I'm so publishing this.

Wife: Freaking BLOGGER!

Bp: Thank you for your response, this conversation is no longer being recorded.

On becoming nocturnal

Steadily, inexorably, I become nocturnal as finals week approaches. I guess, to be more specific, bi-urnal -- a couple hours awake during the day, a couple hours awake during the night, sleep in-between. It's not condusive to my home life, but since it's only for a few weeks at a stretch, damages can be repaired in the interim.

This schedule was modeled to me by Three Cedars (wife of The Good Reverend, mother of the gaggle of children The Wife and I are god-parents too -- or at least weird aunt and uncle's too). I think it was when her 3rd was a toddler still -- she would be up 8 am - about noon, then sleep for a few hours. Dinnertime she would get up and be with the family, then go to work after they were in bed and work til 2-4 am, then come home and sleep a few hours; wash, rinse, repeat. She did this for years, if memory serves. I am getting worn out just doing it for a few weeks at a time.

Good luck to all the PSU students out there, soon the pain will be over.

Everyone else, enjoy your sun-filled, uninterrupted daylight hours.

ps/edit/addon: The reason the study group starts circa 9:30 pm is that it is hosted by Dr. Octagon, single father extordinaire, and Squirt goes to bed by that time so we aren't keeping him up. It's not just because I like to bitch, honest.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Tom Waits, bad influence

So last night, as per usual this close to finals, the crew was up late and studying at Doctor Octagon's. Through some byway of conversation, I found out that Lil Mike had no idea who Tom Waits was -- kids these days! I took it upon myself to introduce the boy. So I pulled up some favorite songs, in video form, starting with Chocolate Jesus, and then hitting him with a one-two punch of Shore Leave and 9th and Hennepin.

The effect was marked -- and made me remember back to when I first heard Tom Waits, a couple centuries ago. His eyes got big, his attention galvanized. "Oh god I love gravelly voices like that." Then silence for a while, video switched to 9th and Hennepin -- "holy crap I so need to get this, I can't believe I've never heard this, this rocks! He's great, I love this!" I almost felt like I was sullying the poor boy. I mean, Tom Waits can lead to good things, like buying all the Tom Waits one can get their hands on, or maybe reading Bukowski or Miller. Or it could lead to bad things, like picking up a vicious drinking habit, smoking way too many cigarettes, mixing with low women in terminal bars, and taking up poker. You just never know, it could go either way.

I had some weird rush of recognition, or nostalgia watching Lil Mike's eyes glow as he was lit by the presence that is The Tom. You could just feel it, he was hooked -- this was going to be a thing for him. It was a singular moment, to actually be right there when it happened -- to see it happen. Time will tell how this encounter affects Lil Mike in the long term -- I pray well. If he ends up in the gutter, drinking at 10:00 a.m. on a weekday, grinding out stories about girls that did him wrong, wearing ties and hats... it's my fault. It will be on me, because I was the one that first tipped him off.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Poll -- favorite style of post

Been a while since I posted a poll and checked in. If your favorite category is missing, vote for next best and then let me know in a comment if you would.


Thought I was tripping my face off

I watched this video some time in the last few days, and now have the song stuck in my head. After Evolution class this morning, I was shuffling, zombielike, across the park blocks toward the library -- deep in the throes of sleep deprivation. Suddenly, this song was both inside and outside my head. I realized after a few seconds there was a guy whistling it walking behind me. I thought for a second that I'd finally broken down and had completely lost it.

Luckily, after reviewing the facts, I've only kinda lost it. Not as bad.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Nightriders, Portland's unacknowledged menace

About 12:30 last night, during the usual late-night study session, I decided to go out and get us some snacks (by the food choices I am suspicious I may be pregnant, but that's another story). I didn't know I was driving into a deathtrap, a madhouse of drunken and reckless riders hell-bent on getting t-boned by some random car. The streets were stuffed with drunken, reckless, heedless, godless hipster barfly bicyclists. It was a vehicular manslaughter waiting to happen, and I was the sober one!

The gauntlet I ran was a particularly bad one -- 28th street between Stark and Glisan. This area has lots of alcoholic night life, starting with The Good Foot at one end, and terminating with Lucky's East Tavern on the other. The Laurelhurt Beer Theater sits right in the middle as well. So -- it can be anticipated that there would be many drunken revelers. The warmth was incentive to get on a bike (also because it's so dam cool to bike in Ptown), and the nearly full moon provided the added excuse of lunacy to these idiots.

It seemed everywhere I turned there were folks on bikes, most with no lights, swerving all over the road. At one point I was headed up Burnside when two bicyclists (no lights, again) came barreling out of a side street one block ahead, doing easily 25 mph, streaking right across Burnside without so much as turning their heads. I turned corners near Stark St. to find 4-5 bicyclists huddled in a group in the middle of the street just shooting the shit. Right around a blind corner, for crissakes!

To be fair, I did see some responsible bicyclists with lights, riding in the flow of traffic, etc. They were in the steep minority last night, however.

I've always complained about the "bar rush" kids who ride, lightless, in close-in NE neighborhoods at night. Vancouver street and Interstate are the worst areas, a veritable highway on weekends, bicycle-traffic volumes approaching that of the Hawthorne Bridge during the morning commute. They ride like there is no one else on the road, and especially in the winter are completely clad in black including black hoodies pulled over their helmetless heads. It's nightmarish if you need to do anything in a car at those times.

So if you are someone who likes to ride around Portland at night on a bike (I am one of these people) I have 2 requests -- 1. Get some fucking lights, flashers if at all possible. 2. Don't drive drunk (you don't want me drunk behind the wheel, what makes DUI'ing ok when you are riding a bike for crissakes!).

Ok I feel better now, the weather has me a might peckish.

Enjoy your short and precious life,


Saturday, June 2, 2007

Smells like death

This incredibly beautiful, flagrantly large and voluptuously curved flower is a Voodoo Lily. For looks alone (and I mean ALONE), I have to say I think it's my favorite cultivar that grows outside in the Pacific N.W. It's just beautiful. And, it smells like week-old roadkill. These grow just south of our yard on our neighbor's side. If it weren't for the smell I'd have them everywhere I could spare. When the wind's right, however, the fume bunches up on our porch and smells like an opossum died underneath the steps. It's REAL bad.

This second picture is to put the flower in context (conveniently shows off a bit of our yard too, the "pretty in pink" side of things). These aren't the largest lillies we've had, yet the flower alone is still pushing 16" tall. If you click on the top picture, you may be able to see the bluebottle flies in the flower -- the pollinator for these morbid flowers. Some of the weirdest flowers in the world are pollinated this way, including the largest flower on record, Rafflesiaa arnoldii, or Corpse Flower.

Hidden Genius: Meryn Cadell - The Sweater

This is more of a spoken-word piece than a music video. This lady is so smart it's scary. If you can remember back to junior high, this will be ... poignant. And funny -- darkly, painfully funny.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Night off, a student's paradise

Getting toward the season where my non-student friends start rolling their eyes and making snarky comments about not being "so dam serious" about school -- finals are coming around. Hanging out with non-students this time of year can be taxing. It's like sports fans dealing with non-sport derision during the playoffs, or new parents getting asked out for beers by their non-parent friends who just don't get the fact that there is a toddler involved. Somehow, I think a lot of adults got all the way through school and never lost the attitude of "oh it's just school, who cares." No reasonable person would encourage their friends to blow off work deadlines when they have a performance review coming up -- but I still get this kind of flack from otherwise perfectly reasonable adults regarding my schoolwork.

To start off the finals season, I took a night off. I got off school, dropped my backpack on the living room floor and didn't think about it or academia again the whole night through. I didn't do my normal routine of a little cleaning and housework or bill paying , a snack, and probably a nap before leaving again in a few hours to go study til the wee hours of the morning with The Crew. Instead, I walked down the street and hung out with the neighbors as they were building a stone retaining wall, walked the garden a bit and talked to T. about the goings-on there, stared at flowers and bees in the yard for exceedingly long periods of time, shuffled uselessly around the house a bit, and hit the sack early. Actually got to lounge around and chat about nothing in particular with The Wife as well. At this point in the school year, that's a description of heaven for me.

I don't need to be casting over a nice hatch of Pale Morning Duns off a gravel bar on the lower Deschutes, or hunting spring Morels on the slopes of the Cascade range -- just hanging out around our wonderful house works for me. It's a sanctuary for us -- a colorful sanctuary full of books and good food, and beautiful art. A place where we can put up road-weary friends and keep the cats in a matter to which they are accustomed. A little urban oasis surrounded on all sides by flowers, trees and veggies. It pays back in spades the work we put into it.

Now that I mention it, some fly-fishing and knocking-about in the woods would be quite fantastic too. Note to self: get the hell out of dodge this summer as much as humanly possible before school starts up again.