Thursday, December 10, 2009


Geese fly out over the Willamette river
Frozen pond at Portland Chinese Garden

The weather has been so cold lately that the pond at the Portland Chinese Garden froze about 3 inches thick. It was thick enough for this man to walk all the way across the pond.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Flower Swirl

Flower swirl

Taken with the Lumix ZS-1 in macro zoom mode, with flash. Walking on my lunch hour, I keep hunting for flowers and other things to photograph.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Dreamscape: the tree by the lake

Dreamscape: the tree by the lake

Raw ingredients: a piece of a strange looking vine, a parking lot, a puddle. Once again I was looking for a way to take an interesting picture in a spot where there didn't seem to be much of visual interest.

Thursday, November 26, 2009



Small Blades Big Sky

Small Blades Big Sky

This is an interesting looking building in Portland. It's hard to get a good view of it from street level. I probably need to find another vantage point.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Edge of winter

Edge of Winter 2

November is a strange time of year to be thinking about outdoor flower photography, especially for roses, but look what I found in my garden today.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Fragments of an angel's wing

Fragments of an angel's wing

Taken during my morning walk from my house to the bus stop. This is a close up of oil on water on the street. I keep thinking there can't possibly be anything "new" to take a picture of on my daily walks, but then I always find something.

Coffee Fair at the World Forestry Center




I went to the Coffee Fair at the World Forestry Center in Portland. One of the vendors had a test where you could try to identify many different scents from samples. I got all of them right except two -- I reversed "vanilla" and "butter." She told me that getting this many right was unusual.


An artist there was making watercolor paintings using coffee as the paint. In the picture above she is working on a version of "American Gothic." I thought these were cool so I bought a small one that shows a street cafe that looks like it could be in Paris.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009

Still Life With Gun

"When in doubt, have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand." -- Raymond Chandler

I created this last night for a still life photo contest on Reddit. I wanted to do something with rich reds and yellows, and incorporate an unusual element. This is taken in a dark, closed room with three different light sources: a dim lamp off to the right, an LED flashlight off to the right aimed at the end of the gun, and a large powerful flashlight off to the left with some tissue paper draped over the light to diffuse it. I hand held the camera.

If you like this, check out my Flickr photostream.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Deciding Factor

It feels strange to me when an auto race is decided by the amount of time that a pit stop took. It's like if a soccer game were decided by which team took the quickest shower during halftime.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Longboard Sliding - Feel The Drift

Today I was skateboarding a route that has some fast 180-degree curves, on the Loaded Vanguard with the Orangatang In Heat wheels. I had my slide gloves on, so I decided to go for it and try to "drift" through the entire corner. I'm still learning to slide effectively . . . I've done many small speed-check slides but I've never tried to slide through a whole turn until today. I managed 3 of 3 successful slides, two heelside, one toeside, no crashes.

Now I see how sliding can be addictive. It is a really fun feeling.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Longboarding report

It's a hot day, and I got a late start, but I got in two runs down Mt. Tabor on the Loaded Vanguard. Things I'm still getting used to: the Orangatang In Heat 83a wheels, and the Loaded slide gloves. I can heelside slide with one hand on the ground with this setup, then stand back up on the board and keep going. Fun, and a good way to speed-check, but I'm not that great at it yet.

Then I went over to the Zoo and skated Knights Blvd. above the Zoo for the first time. It's a short hill, but but very fast and curvy. I got some funny looks from people in a minivan who were driving up the hill as I was descending. After 1 run I decided it was too hot and I was too tired, time to go home before I made a mistake and crashed.

Oh yeah, almost forgot. Yesterday I was skating down SW US Veterans Hospital Road down to Terwilliger. This section is really smooth and fast. I noticed some sprinklers were on and half the road was wet, but this wasn't a problem because my lane was dry, it was the oncoming traffic lane that was wet. So I slowed a little, but not too much. Next thing I know, an oncoming car rounds the corner, and the guy apparently didn't want to get his car wet so he swerved all the way over into my lane! That was a bit of a shock but luckily there was plenty of room to maneuver and I got past with plenty of room to spare.

Monday, July 20, 2009


Her: You know what would be good in this (cocktail)? Milk?

Me: Arrggh! You're stealing my recipes! I made that for you a month ago! You're infringing on my intellectual property!

Her: Oh yeah.

[Note: this was a joke, I'm not that concerned about my drink recipes, which are all actually fairly obvious.]

Saturday, June 27, 2009

They Have A Word

Me (web surfing): Apparently there is a "turtle vs. cat" YouTube video

Her: I wish you spoke German.

Me: Why, because the Germans have a word for turtle-vs-cat-YouTube-video?

Her: well, no...

Me: I bet they do! And I bet it's a verb!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Rolling Information Booth

A few minutes ago I was skateboarding down SW Market street in downtown Portland. I was going at a pretty good speed when a car pulled up beside me, rolled down the window, and the driver asked me for directions! I quickly gave some general hints before I had to turn left onto 2nd. It felt very funny to be skateboarding down the street while having a conversation with someone in a car.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Another longboarding adventure after work

This was part of yesterday's after-work skateboarding. I rode on the Arbor Hybrid with 70mm Retro Zig Zag wheels. I had just put in the new Bones Super Swiss 6 bearings the night before. I have ridden variations on this route many times before but I usually do it early in the morning on weekends when there is little traffic. Doing it after work raised the challenge level because of all the cars.

Monday, June 01, 2009

The Best Hold

TV History Show: ". . . and from there he established a chokehold on absolute power."

Me: Well, if you're going to have some kind of hold on absolute power, I suppose a chokehold is a good hold to have. I bet those tyrants who had wrist locks on absolute power didn't get very far.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


This animal was posing like a fashion model, turning one way then the other. See the Flickr set.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Mixed Metaphor Classic

"When it's time to pay the piper, that's when the skeletons in the closet come home to roost."

-- Davis Logsdon, on the Leonard Lopate show, creating a fantastic mixed metaphor. (He was deliberately being funny.)

Sakura-Con 2009 Convention Report

My Sakura-Con 2009 Convention Report is now posted at JLHLS.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

All The Greatest

"All the greatest things are really messy!"

-- Waitress, responding to the difficulty of eating the dessert without spilling it.

The Pirates of Ersatz

I enjoyed this book, and it is available free online from BookGlutton.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Expensive Kindle Books

I noticed that this book for the Kindle costs $864, which means it costs more than 2 Kindles. I guess that's a bargain compared to the list price of over $1,000. So I decided to sort the Kindle books by price to see what the most expensive one is.

And the winner is: Selected Nuclear Materials and Engineering Systems (Part 4). The Kindle edition costs $6,431.20. And that's a $1607.80 savings off the list price of $8,039.00! Never before has the one-click order button felt so terrifying.

To The Strong

Some gardeners enjoy the challenge of coaxing some exotic and finicky flora -- something more at home in the Amazonian basin or the sweltering slopes of Mt. Doom -- to grow in their suburban back yard. I am not one of those types.

I love the plants that love to grow in my garden. I love the ones that burst out of the soil with an eerie buoyancy: bold, strong ("exuberating fantasticisms" as one reality-show contestant so memorably and hysterically put it) as if to say, "Look at me! I'm here! I rock! I kick ass! I rule this garden!"

Let us celebrate the strong. Lemon Sorrel, Swiss Chard, Giant Curly Mustard Greens, Cardoon, Rosemary, Strawberries, Bamboo, Figs, Jostaberry, Chives, Watercress, Arugula, Beets. The grape hyacinth that is taking over my lawn. And that weird hardy geranium that I can't remember what it is, that too. I'm proud of all of you.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Longboard Anti-Pumping

I've learned longboard pumping, which is a way of propelling a skateboard on the flat or slightly uphill without touching your feet to the ground. Now that I've gotten pretty good at it, I've been trying to learn to anti-pump. It seems logical that if the pumping motion can speed you up, doing the opposite motion could slow you down. (I don't mean sliding on purpose to slow down, which also works but is a whole different thing.) The anti-pump does work, and you can noticeably slow down while going down a hill, but it feels like a very unnatural silly motion, even more than the regular pumping motion does. It almost makes me laugh every time I do it. Maybe with more practice it will feel normal.

Heard Tuesday Night

"I used to work on an oil platform . . . well, actually it was a gas platform but they found it was cheaper to insure a gas platform if you call it an oil platform because oil platforms don't explode as often."

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sakuracon 2009 Cosplay and Dance

I just got back from Sakuracon 2009, where I covered the event for JLHLS (I will post a full report on the convention there soon). The convention was great. See more of our Sakuracon pictures on Flickr.

Update 5/3/2009: the Sakura-Con 2009 Convention Report is now up at JLHLS.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Horror

My tax preparer asked me whether I "had borrowed money to invest in 2008."

I gasped and a look of sheer terror crossed my face. ". . . borrowed money . . . to invest in 2008? Oh man, that would have not ended well! No! I didn't do that. Oh I'm so glad I didn't do that!"

My tax preparer got a big laugh out of that one.

(Of course, like most people, I did lose money on investments in 2008. But at least I was not investing borrowed money.)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Google Is Mean

The downside to Google is it makes you realize how unoriginal you are. You have a cool idea, you Google it, and you see that 25,000 other people have already thought of that (some of them back in 2002) and at least 9,000 of them have already done it better than you ever would have. I guess it is good in terms of keeping you from wasting your time though.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Magic of Starbuck

Me: What should we watch next, Battlestar Galactica?

Her: No, I'm too tired. I can't watch Battlestar when I'm tired because I have to really concentrate on the plot.

Me: No you don't. Just stare at Starbuck's body, that's what I do. It gets me through it every time.

Her: But Starbuck doesn't do anything for me.

Me: I was joking.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Best Oregon Trail Summary

"Of course, the main point of The Oregon Trail was to hunt animals until you got bored, after which you would attempt to drown your family in the nearest river." -- FingerGaming review

Monday, March 09, 2009

Giant Curly Mustard Greens

"Giant Curly Mustard Greens." I planted these seeds in my garden a while ago, not really intending to eat them, but just because I remembered reading somewhere that mustard greens make a good cover crop if you can't decide what else to plant. They started coming up in February, and eventually I became curious enough to taste them. Well, these are extremely delicious! They taste kind of like romaine lettuce crossed with wasabi. They make a great salad green if mixed with lettuce, so the spicy flavor isn't too overwhelming. Now I wish I had discovered this years ago, because they taste so good and are so easy to grow. And it's true, you can be growing edibles in Portland even in February.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Howling

Me: Now it's time for the howling.

Her: "The Howling?" I thought we were going to watch American Idol.

Me: We are.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Soundtrack Is Off

I had lunch in a place with curved walls, and the acoustics of the spot where I was sitting were unusual. The conversation from 3 tables away sounded exactly like it was coming from the table next to me. I looked over at the next table and I saw a woman talking but her lips didn't match up with what I was hearing. "The soundtrack is out of sync," I thought. "I hate it when the sountrack is off.". But then I realized that couldn't be right because this was real life and not a show. I briefly wondered if I was having a strange dream. Then I noticed the curved walls and figured out that it was an unusual echo.

Monday, January 12, 2009


"When in the course of human events somebody does something that puts somebody else to the trouble of adjusting the numb routine of his life, the adjustee is resentful. The richer he is and the more satisfactory he considers his life, the more resentful he is at any change, however minute. And of all the changes which offend people, changes which require them to think are most disliked."

-- from The Pirates of Ersatz, by Murray Leinster

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Fanno Creek Flooding in Portland

As I was driving home today, I was shocked to see how high the water in Fanno Creek had gotten. I went home and returned with the camera. Here the water has almost reached the pedestrian bridge on SW Oleson Road.

This area is normally a very deep moat-like trench with a tiny bit of water at the bottom. Today everything looks different.

This is not normally a pond or stream. These ducks are swimming in a parking lot that has become completely flooded.