Saturday, July 31, 2004

Victoria B.C.

As my buddy, Ron, would say, "Ahhh, Victoria, land of the beutiful people."

Mary and I flew to Victoria for a long weekend this past weekend. Great times. The forecast for Oregon was a heat wave, and we thought it'd be nice to escape it by being in Victoria. Wrong. They set a record (102) on the first day we were there. Oh well.

We stayed at a cute bed and breakfast in an old Victorian house. The couple running it was very nice - they had the right balance between providing enough hospitality/information without being weirdly attached to their guests. And their breakfasts were amazing. They're five courses, with just enough at each course to give you a good taste, but leave you feeling full - not stuffed. The main dish was always beautiful. The first morning was a rolled omelette with cheddar and broccoli, and a fresh roll adorned with edible flowers. The second breakfast was some fresh grilled salmon, lox, a toasted bagel, and cream cheese - on a bed of fennel. Both the salmon and lox were delicous. One of the "desserts" was fresh apple crisps - cookies so thin they broke when they hit your tongue. The crisps were served with thinly sliced apple and fresh apple mint. And each breakfast was started with a bowl of fresh fruit and honey yogurt blended with more fresh fruit. I'd easily stay there again just for the breakfast.

You meet interesting people while staying in bed and breakfasts. The hosts were ex-psychologists. The woman wrote a book on the american system of creating victims, ahh, here's a link to the book. A little too deep for me. And the husband is into photography, the shot of the bridge is especially nice.

A mother and daughter were staying in the master suite. They were having a last outing together before Kendra (the daughter) headed off to college (U of SanDiego). The mother was obviously very proud of her daughter, but ribbed her thoroughly about the designer jeans that cost $180 and the sunglasses that cost $400. I can't even imagine trying on clothes costing that much, but, I'm not a fashionable college co-ed. Especially not one that looks like a young, tan Angie Harmon.

While Mary and I were walking around the lovely town of Victoria, I noticed a flyer for a "foam party". I'm no social scientist, but I think it's pretty safe to say that a bunch of if you combine college kids in swimsuits and a bunch of foam, and you've got a recipe for hot foamy sex. You know there's going to be drinking and some drug use, which is only going to increase the orgy. Good times.

We were pointed to several restaurants in the area. The first, Matisse was a wonderful french restaurant with some $450 bottles of wine on the menu. I highly recommend the duck with crispy skin (mmm.... - the skin was crispy and salty like bacon, yummy), the goat cheese salad (imported from france), and the creme brulee was amazing.

On Saturday we ate a lunch at the Blue Fox Cafe a little cafe we ran across. The sandwiches were pretty good - especially their homemade veggie burger. But the secret of the Blue Fox is their coconut creme pie. An older couple at the table next to us was raving about the pie. The lady said she'd called down to find if they had any left - there was one pie. She asked them to hold keep the pie in the fridge until they got to the restaurant because it normally sells out in a matter of minutes. So I asked to see if they had a piece. It arrived just a minute later, topped with some barely sweetened fresh whipped cream. It has to be the best coconut cream pie I've ever had. The pie was crammed with coconut, freshly grated by the baker herself. There's so much coconut that it was difficult to slice through the pie with the fork. And the creamy filling tasted of fresh cream and was just sweet enough. Track this place down the next time you're in Victoria.

That night we weren't terribly hungry due to the cocnut pie, so we just ordered starters and side dishes at Cafe Brio. The risoto is super yummy, and the fresh morel fricassee showed Mary why people eat mushrooms. The dessert was a little molten chocolate tart topped with some cherries. Their mojito was pretty good as well.

And of course we needed some fish and chips, so we stopped by for some yummy halibut at Swans Pub for our last lunch.

As much as I would have enjoyed it, we didn't just eat.

I pampered myself by getting some really nice shaving cream called Razorantium at lush. It works very well, and doesn't smell too strongly. I also got my brother some silky underwear (you have to know Sam). Oh, and Mary noticed a shampoo named I Love Juicy, so we got it for a friend of mine named Gyuszi (the name sounds the like "Juicy"). Ironically, Gyuszi shaves his head.

One of the mornings, after breakfast, Mary and I wandered over to the gardens at Government House with a couple we met at breakfast. The husband, Brett, and I chatted up a storm - he works for Intel's partner in crime, Microsoft. He also takes really nice photos of flowers. His digital camera was very cool, and had a great lens that allowed him to focus on flowers an inch or two away.

That evening, we all went to the luminaria festival at Beacon Hill park. Evidentally, it's a once-a-year festival where local artists create some pretty amazing luminaria sculptures: swans, flowers, people, etc., and set them up in the park. Then people come at night and walk around carrying their own luminarias. It was kind of neat, but there were a ton of people, so we didn't stay real long. The next morning, Mary and I wandered over to the park again, and it was amazingly clean. We were hoping to see some of the reported Great Blue Herons nesting there. We saw over a dozen nests, but only two actual birds. Oh well, perhaps next time.

We of course wandered around and went into a bunch of the local artist shops. There was nothing we couldn't live without. The highlight of the art was the glass blowing shop. Mary and I watched the artist known as Gary and his trusty assistant create a large orange bowl with a green spiral on the outside. It was a blast (get it, glass-blowing, furnace, blast) to watch - the viewing area is on the second floor, and you get to look down onto the artists as they work.

It was an awesome trip. Too bad we forgot the camera...

Sweep 2

So we've had the sweepa for a couple of weeks now. I've got to say that it lives up to its reputation. It's basically just a pull-broom with 1 inch rubber bristles.

For whatever reason, it's a lot easier to use than the standard broom. Perhaps it's because the short bristles don't flick the dirt. Perhaps it's because the bristles are pretty sticky, kinda like those rubber octopi that you can throw onto a wall that slowly crawls down the wall. And it takes care of dust bunnies real quick.

So, if you've got hardwoods, buy one, it's sweet.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004


I took Amtrak from Corallis (Albany really) to Portland. My friend Eric picked me up for work. It's been a while since I've taken it.

Today they had "Scooby Doo 2" on the TV. It's got to be one of the dumbest movies ever made. I occasionally watched the show growing up, but the movie was as dumb as all the cartoon versions rolled into one. It had more fart jokes than I could handle, and I'm all about farting. Scooby even got rid of one of the bad guys by farting on him. About the deepest part of the movie was the allusion toward Fred having unrequited love for Daphne.

The best thing about the ride, other than not having to drive, was that they had a drawing for a free bowl of steaming oatmeal. The guy announcing the drawing had a great time with it, finishing with "it's to die for". I don't know that the lady who won it ever collected.

Amtrak doesn't seem to attract as many weird people as Greyhound, but with the recent announcements that Greyhound is cutting out a bunch of the small cities on its routes, some are forced to ride Amtrak. While waiting for the train to come, I had the pleasure of listening to this one dude who talking at a bored looking older gentleman. The old guy got to hear all about this dude's rich uncles and aunts. I couldn't help but think - why don't you hit them up for some cash to buy some class. The talker had a black button down shirt with a dragon on it, but it was completely unbuttoned - and his physique was not worth watching. Well, he's now pacing around the train, with his shirt still completely unbuttoned. (Update: upon leaving the train, I passed him boring some poor conductor while dragging on a cigarette, shirt still wide open.)

Sadly, the Amtrak line from Eugene to Seattle doesn't have Wi-fi, so I wasn't able to surf the web, I worked on the materials for a class I'm about to teach and wrote this dealy.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Reverse Sneeze

Our cat, Fysh, sometimes has these episodes where she looks like she's choking on something, and sounds like she's half sneezing half coughing up a fur ball. She's done it ever since Mary got her 8 years ago.

Well, we recently took her to the vet because she has had some trouble breathing (turns out she has asthma). And the vet got to witness the hacking/sneezing fit.

She called it a reverse sneeze (check out the link, it's got a kickin' tune). Evidentially dogs often get it, and it's a pretty accurate description of what happens.

At least we know what to call it now. There's no known cause/cure.


Check out the interesting article at Slate that discusses what constitutes a sport, and specifically, whether math competitions could enter the Olympics.

Now, I was a member of the math club back in high school. No reason to hide it, I went on to major in math - so I was a geek. At least I didn't get my master's in math, that would be really geeky.

Anyway, my point was about sports. What do you think is required to make something a sport?

I'm very proud of my requirements to be a sport. It lets in some sports like bowling and tiddly winks - which many might object to. But the rules do get rid of stupid sports like ice skating, rhythmic gymnastics.

My rules are:

  • must require physical skill - some combination of dexterity, coordination, strength, stamina
  • must have objective scoring to determine winner

That's it.

The first, physical skill, seems obvious. Things like chess and go may require a lot of strategy, but a computer can play the game - it requires no physical skill whatsoever.

Secondly, the winner (and there must be a winner) must be decided by some objective means. These "judged" sports are just stupid - consider the judging fiasco of the couples figure skating during the last winter Olympics. Sure, you can give some points for the physical degree of difficulty in figure skating, but when you have to factor in things like "style" you're pretty much admitting that there's no way to objectively determine a winner. And then it all boils down to fads and politics.

The second rule gets rid of some of the stupidest "sports" out there: figure skating, ice dancing, rhythmic gymnastics, dancing, and synchronized swimming. I'm not claiming that any of those are easy to do, or that they don't live up to some manly notion. I just don't think the winner be determined like an animal at the fair.

At the rate we're going, the Olympics are soon going to be adding sports like break dancing, abstract painting, and trampoline. Oh, wait, trampoline is already a "sport".

I think people have some stupid notion that "sports" should be accessible to all people. My question is, why isn't it good enough to just do some kind of athletic activity? Why does what you're doing need to be a "sport"? And once it's been given that title, what does that gain you?

This is the kind of drivel you hear:

"I'm downright pissed that competitive embroidery isn't getting the world-wide attention that it deserves. Our athletes train very hard and are just mocked in the media. Little Jeannie can satin stitch multi-colored rose faster than anyone in history! And Bobby is a very promising young man, his detached chain stitch is the best I've seen since Alice Becker's (aka Grannie-Stitch) in 1972!"

Why aren't people happy doing what they're doing without worrying about what others think about them?

I'm sure that I'll probably have a kid that gets into competitive square dancing, and I'll drive all across the state taking my kid to square dancing meets. But you'll never hear me whine about the lack of recognition from the IOC.

Back to my two rules. Sure, basically anything that is timed can be a sport under my rules, competitive burping, for example. Sure, that's a sport, but I just made it up - that's not very interesting. So try to apply the rules to activities that people are actually doing.

Whether you like bowling or not, you have to admit it's darned difficult to get a strike, let alone 12 in a row.

But I hear you snicker, "what about the referees in sports like basketball, hockey, football, etc.?" Yes, those sports do have people who monitor what is within the rules and what is outside the rules, but they don't decide who wins, they simply determine when a rule is broken.

So, according to my rules, the math Olympics is not a sport and shouldn't be considered for the Olympics. And the Olympics should actually begin to clean house and get rid of all those non-sports.

Swing Bike

At daVinci Days, people bring out some really wacky bikes. One guy has a 2 wheeled bike, kind of like a big razor, except the hub in the back wheel is off-center - so when you're rolling along, the platform goes up and down. And that's exactly how you make it go, you bounce up and down and you propel the bike forward (or backward if you're really tricky.

Some people have really tall bikes, or really long bikes, where they've welded two bike frames together to get the effect.

But the neatest kind of bike people ride are the swing bikes. The link just takes you to people who have the original swing bike, but I didn't see any originals at daVinci Days. The orginal looks real slick, but these homemade ones are even better. A swing bike is basically a bike with two pivots - the handle bars turn like usual, and the rear wheel turns (note the top-tubes are only connected at the seat post - it pivots there). As a result, you can make some kick-ass tight turns, and you can even ride along a curb with one wheel on the curb and the other on the street - I saw a guy doing that for a good 30-40 feet.

Anyway, Mary and I passed this dude who was riding his homemade swing bike and I asked how long it took him to learn to ride it. He said not very long and offered me a chance to ride it. My first thought was, "he wants my bike", but I realized that was silly. So I hopped on and rode around for about a minute.

It's a kick in the pants! Do you remember the freedom you felt when you first learned how to ride? How much fun it was just to be on a bike and go? It didn't matter if you rode around the block or all the way to the candy store. That's what riding this bike was like, just pure fun. It didn't matter that I only rode it for 200 feet, the destination is irrelevant, I was riding for the joy of it.

A swing bike is now on my Xmas list. This guy had two others at his home he'd made, perhaps he'd be willing to sell one.

Then I'd finally have a bike with a banana seat.

Sunday, July 18, 2004


What's better than a cold lemonade on a hot sunny day? Not much. And obviously other people think like me because the co-op was out of frozen lemonade, and Safeway had but 6-10 cans of the stuff left yesterday afternoon.

The key to an awesome lemonade is to get the frozen concentrate - any kind works just fine, and to squeeze in the juice from a fresh orange.

Mmmm... delicious.

Nature's Canvas

Mary and I went to daVinci Days today. As usual, it was a great time. The mud bog of the kinetic sculpture race is always fun. These guys (ahem... people) try to get their human-powered vehicle through about 100 feet of 18-inch deep mud. People have trouble walking through it (several fell), let alone pedaling a bike-like structure through. The mud seemed to trap more people than usual this year.

Some of our favorites, Time Flies and Rogue Towing were back. Time Flies is just an amazing piece of engineering - a persin sitting in between two 7' high wheels. And the artistry is beautiful. Rogue Towing was also back, but there were 3 vehicles linked together behind the first one. Very cute - and only piloted by kids - high school down to the youngest who was probably 6. I was a little sad to not se my favorite from last year, the Mullet Bullet.

Mary and I watched the mud bog and spent some time at the end of the water section watching the people come out of the water. Buns of Steel had problems in the mud (the front wheel folded under) and was towed through the water at the end (don't know what happened to their paddles).

Unfortunately, we missed pretty much all of the jugglers and comedians (my favorite part of the rest of the fair), and they were replaced by the Nia dancers. So we wandered around a little more and headed home.

Mary was a tad sore from our 30 mile bridge ride at Scio yesterday. Scio really tried to make the tour a special one - they had people at all the bridges (well, we hit 4 of the 5, Gilkey, Hoffman, Shimanek, and Hannah) to stamp your "passport" which would qualify you to enter in a raffle or something. In a big field next to the grocery store they had a stage with a band on it playing good old banjo music, complete with tone-deaf singers. The music was really good, the singers ... not so. But they were cute. Along the route there were a couple of art sales, the morning started with a pancake breakfast, and everybody had maps for you to use.

Scio had obviously put some effort into making the day special. But they were mssing one critical element, people. We saw 2 other bikers the entire day - one who was doing the bridge tour, and one who looked like he was in the middle of his 100-miles training and couldn't care less about the bridges. And there couldn't have been more than a dozen or so people driving around to the bridges. So that was a little sad.

In fact, just today I picked up a copy of Oregon Cycling that had an article about logging towns that are turning towards tourism, most notably hikers and mountain bikers, to give their local economies a boost. The next 20 years should be interesting in terms of watching how the small rural towns cope with the influx of bikers and hikers.

So I hope Scio gets a better response next year, perhaps a little advertising would help (yeah, with what money?). All in all it was a very nice experience, except for the grandma that honked at us loudly and was pretty obviously pissed we were interrupting her 20-mph Saturday afternoon drive. She didn't move over at all while passing us, and she never got going faster than 20. Ahhh... perhaps some day the story of Sam and the angry lady at Skyline and Cornelius Pass will have to be told. Gotta love angry drivers.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Covered Bridge Ride

Mary and I thought we'd have people down to do a covered bridge ride
the day before da Vinci
on Sunday. We'd start in Scio and hit 3 or 4 or 5
of the bridges.

Turns out, Scio itself is having a covered bridge tour day itself. So we won't be alone!

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Do More Yoga

Last October, after going to Moab, I started doing Bikram Yoga. I'd been talking about doing Yoga for a while, but it was time to step up to the plate.

You see, I'm getting old, and I never was very flexible. But lately it's been a chore just to look over my shoulder when backing the car up. So the answer was to do Yoga.

Mary had been doing Bikram Yoga for 3+ years at that point and loved it. What makes this yoga different from other practices is that it's the same 26 postures in the same order, done in a room that's been heated to 105 Farenheit. And Sam had also agreed that it was a pretty intense workout.

All Bikram Postures

So I started going. Each class is 90 minutes, and I don't stop sweating for at least another 45, more like an hour. But my flexibility quickly increased. I still couldn't touch my toes while keeping my legs straight, but I was able to do other postures pretty well - like cobra, akward, and triangle. I'm also good at the physical portion of Shava-asana.

But now that the weather is nice, it's too tough to go into a heated room. So I've dropped down to going maybe once a month. And I'm tightening up again, my biking is starting to suffer. Damn. I've got to get back to the sweat room.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Microsoft Closing

Dvorak has a very intriguing thought, what would happen if Microsoft closed for business?

While most of his columns are generally new ideas, his latest one, Smear Factor, on how there seems to be a concerted effort to smear the image of Linux is a bit late. There has already been a flurry of writings about this very topic: Eric Raymond, Andy Tanenbaum, and all of Groklaw.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004


I just picked up a sweepa from Sam. Hopefully it'll live up to the hype. Cyndi loves it, swears by it. With it, our hardwood floors should be shiny and clean all the time. No more dust bunnies.

However, the packaging makes me think they're trying to send a subliminal message, "12 inches of natural rubber."

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Orange Joyous

Orange Joyous

As a kid, getting an Orange Julius was always a treat. Sweet and orangey, with a touch of vanilla. I don't see them around much anymore, but I also don't frequent malls either.

Over the 4th of July weekend, I hung out with my cousin and her family. My eldest cousin once-removed, Harmony Joy, made Orange Joyous' for all of us.

Wow! Did that take me back. So I asked for the recipe, and now I share it with you:

Orange Joyous

1 can frozen orange juice concentrate
1 C milk
1 C water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 C sugar
10 ea ice cubes

Blend all in a blender, adding more/less
ice to reach desired consistency.

Just Use Firefox

This guy complains about annoying ads right next to his comics. Fine, they are annoying, but just use a real browser: Firefox! And with the extention, AdBlock, you'll never have to see another annoying ad again! Or, at least you won't have to see it twice.

Howard Stern

I'm no fan of Howard Stern, I think his show is generally pretty boring as I don't really want to listen to people talking about how hot some chick is, or about farts. I definitely find his side kick, Robin, really annoying.

But I find myself listening to it occasionally after Morning Edition finishes. This usually happens on Mondays when I'm driving up to Portland a little late. I hate the standard talk show, and that's all that is on at 9am, except for OPB's classical music on Performance Today. And Mark and Brian just sit there laugh at their own jokes - not funny.

Howard has been more interesting lately, at least on the shows I've caught. They've all been about the new FCC rules on indecency.

Now, I couldn't give a rat's ass if Howard dropped off the air. All it would mean to me would be that I'd have to listen a little more to KNRK or Mark and Brian. Or I'd even stoop to listen to some classical music. No big deal.

But he does seem to be unfairly targeted. He shows a clear example of how Oprah has had at least one show that was at least as graphic as Howard's, yet she's not been fined.

The other very valid point Howard makes is the exorbitant fees that are levied against his show. The fines can be anywhere from $270,000 to $500,000 per offense. While on the other hand, people who take box cutters on airplanes only pay $5000, and people found providing "material support" to terrorists are fined only $20,000! Granted, some of those things come with potential jail sentences. Heck, Kenneth Lay, former Enron CEO, is only facing a maximum fines of $5.7 million. That means a CEO can rip millions of people off, both by manipulating the energy market to bilk people out of money, as well as improperly inflating the value of the company, causing people to lose 10's of millions of dollars, and the fine is approximately the same as if he'd dropped the F-bomb 11 times.

And, of course, there are no hard-fast rules on what exactly qualifies as indecent. The FCC reversed its position on Bono's use of the F-bomb during the Golden Globe Awards.

Supposedly, we, the people, own the airwaves. Yet, the FCC is constantly siding with big businesses, so why should I trust that they'd look out for my interest in the name of decency? Take a look at a clear explanation of how the FCC's regulation of the airwaves impacts everyday people.

And, of course, all of these fines for Howard occurred just 4 days after Howard railed on good old George Bush. coincidence? It definitely follows the Bush strategy of attacking the person and not addressing the issues.

I hope the FCC wakes up and realizes what a chilling effect it is having on the entire radio industry. Even the public broadcasting stations are worried about what might apply to them.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004


I guess I'm a liberal. No big deal in and of that itself.

Some people feel that the term "liberal" has become a bad word. And considering the general shift (or at least the appearance) in the U.S. toward a more conservative stance, I can see how it might be considered in a negative light.

Of course you'd hope that we could all just get along, liberal or conservative. Act two of this program is a story of how a "liberal" community just couldn't accept a person who ran as a Republican.

My current issue with being a "liberal" is that it's too often applied to people who, in my opinion, are not really representing my views. e.g. most all Democrats in the senate/house.

For example, I care about they environment. I'm not Tre Arrow, I'm not going to chain myself to a gate or some logging equipment, and I'm certainly not going to spike any trees. But I generally think we're logging too much (biscuit fire), we're polluting too much (refineries), streams and rivers are not protected enough, water rights are all screwed up, etc. None of the politicians in power really care about these issues.

Look at Clinton, he is a Democrat, I voted for him. What did he do for the environment? Not much, most of what he did was by presidential decree during his last few days in office. Granted, Bush has rolled back most of those - making Bush even worse, but I would not ever consider Clinton to really represent my views on the environment.

And why don't I think the politicians represent my view? Because I don't have any lobbyists. It's expensive to have a lobbyist. And politicians aren't stupid, they know who butters their bread. And with respect to the environment: trees, rivers, and animals do not have lobbyists. So they're out on their asses (that's an animal reference, ha ha).

I guess that's what really irks me: many Democrats are labeled as "liberals" but in fact are only liberal on a one or two issues: usually abortion or the death penalty. I'm a bit of a black and white person (nothing racist here), my views are strong, and positions on issues are usually either "good" or "bad". However, I do not expect to be able to put everyone else in the country into the "other" bucket of beliefs.

It's probably part of having such a strong 2 party system in this country. Perhaps I'd feel more comfortable in Canada where they had something like 6 or 7 parties in their last election. It gives you a little more wiggle room when deciding who to choose. You hear both "liberals" and "conservatives" complain about that in this country: "Well, I don't like Kerry, but I need to vote out Bush." or "I don't like Bush, but he's not that weenie Kerry."

Perhaps national term limits would help the situation. I've heard lobbyists talk about how they don't like term limits because the lobbyists have to "retrain" all the freshmen legislators. That really struck me as a bad idea. The legislators should care about the views of the people who elected him/her. By allowing legislators to hang around for a long time, they really need to pay attention to being re-elected. Which means getting money - and the money comes from lobby groups.

Being re-elected is all about money. You've already got the name recognition, you just need the money for advertising. Want proof? It's hard to get an incumbent out of office, unless they really screw up, or a lot of money is spent.

If term limits is good for the presidency, why is it not good for the other legislators?

Now that I've gotten completely off the topic of being a "liberal", let me bring it back.

It all ties together because of this line of reasoning:

  • legislators want to be re-elected
  • legislators are given huge amounts of money from lobbyists
  • legislators do what lobbyists want
  • ergo, they represent the lobbyists, not the "people"

So don't lump me in with a "liberal" Democrat, because s/he doesn't really represent me or my views.