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Aerial Tram

Tuesday, July 31, 2007
This past weekend I had the opportunity to ride in OHSU Aerial Tram (also known as "Portland's $57 million dollar ski lift".) The view was magnificent as the sky-car ascended! The most fun part is as you pass the single support tower, the car rocks back and forth significantly. But for all the fun, what does it really amount to?

View from the tram
My thoughts on the project:
1) At $4 for an uphill ride, the tram is enormously expensive. (Downhill rides are free.)
2) Parking is extremely limited and very expensive at the base, meaning I'm not paying just $4 for a ticket, but many more dollars to park anywhere nearby.
3) Service is slow and seems useless for getting to anywhere other than OHSU.

The tram and me
Basically, I'm asking: is it worth it? Most definitely not. I don't see the tram as being used by the public as anything more than an expensive novelty, and a cheap lift for the employees who get to ride it for free.

400th Post

Thursday, July 26, 2007
According to Blogger.com, this is my 400th post. On September 17th of 2005, I started with a simple "Hello, World!" Since then I've been going strong, at a rate of about .58 posts per day. Let's hope for another 400 successful posts! (Or not, if you hate my blog.)

To my brother:

I wanted to publicly congratulate my brother on his engagement to his girlfriend. He proposed just the other day while they were in Yellowstone National Park.

Nicole's ring

...And may I paraphrase Groucho Marx in saying "Never marry a woman who would say 'yes' to your proposal."

New Hardware

Monday, July 23, 2007
As my reader(s?) might or might not recall, this little server suffered an irreparable meltdown back in November of 2006. Because I'm awesome and efficient, eight months later (to the day!) I installed a replacement machine, one that will hopefully run well for some time.

Instead of an old Dell with a P3-500 processor running under Fedora Core, this server is now being hosted on a Dell GX270 (small form factor PC) with a P4-1.7 Ghz processor running CentOS and vmware. (I'm using vmware to run the actual web server so that I can have a pre-made backup of it; if something catastrophic happens, I can have something up and running in a relatively short period of time.)

The server's not perfect; there's still some minor tweaks that I have to make. Before closing, though, I have to comment about WordPress (which is the software I use to run my other blog): As nice and awesome as the software is, the installation directions are nine different kinds of terrible (5-minute-install my ass!) and the support forums are filled with relatively unhelpful people. *sigh*

Camping (Apparently this involves "nature")

Tuesday, July 17, 2007
This last weekend I was invited to go camping with some friends, one of whom has a family cabin up on the Washougal River. In the interests of "getting out" and trying to enjoy myself, I went - though since I was carpooling this involved getting up "early" on a Saturday, not something I usually voluntarily do.

We arrived at the cabin early, to un-shutter the windows and generally prep it for having people around. The cabin was nice - it had electricity, but no running water. (The outhouse was just around back.) We got the place ready for company (we were expecting to have between 15-20 people come by) and prepped the inner-tubes for the river float.

By the time the "party" was rolling, fun was being had. I got in the first group of people to go down the river on the tubes - LOTS of fun, though the water was too shallow in places and rafts would have been better than inner tubes (since they'd draw less water and I would have therefore bumped my ass on fewer rocks.)

River float
After the river float we BBQ'd dinner for the 12 or so of us that were left. I ate far too much, as is my habit. (Doh!) Once it started getting dark we made a campfire and roasted marshmallows with which to make s'mores. Delicious!

Flaming Marshmallows!
Jumping backwards a bit, you, my dear reader(s?) should know that the first thing I saw when I walked in the cabin was the biggest freaking spider I've ever seen. It may or my not be common knowledge, but I'm somewhat irrationally terrified of them. So, while I was invited to sleep in the cabin, I declined (despite the death of the aforementioned spider) and borrowed a tent to sleep outside. Hermetically sealed inside my canvas lining of protection, I spent the night in nature happily separated from the elements (except for the ground, which was very present and very uneven.

Getting up in the morning I was somehow convinced to go for a morning dip in the river. It was surprisingly tolerable, once I got in the water and started moving around a bit. After getting out, drying off, and getting dressed the remaining six of us cleaned up, shuttered the cabin, and took off. The original four of us then took Highway 14 out the Columbia Gorge where we crossed over the Bridge of the Gods (still a $1.00 toll) and headed back towards Multnomah Falls for a hike.

We strolled around the Wahkeena Falls/Multnomah Falls loop of which I'm extraordinarily fond. The views were breathtaking, but the trails were crowded. It was a fantastic end to a fun trip.

Fairy Falls

Magical Blogger Mood Ring

Current Color: Fiery Red

It may be a weakness, but I really, REALLY hate it when somebody tries to question my judgment in a confrontational manner (especially when they're not in possession of all the facts) or tries to misrepresent or miscategorize something I've said or done. Yes, there's quite a bit of righteous indignation in my fingers right now as I type. Bastards.

The Onion News Network

Monday, July 16, 2007
It should be new great shock to my reader(s?) that I'm a fan of The Onion. However, I just discovered the Onion News Network, which I'm going to say made me giggle incessantly for about 30 minutes. I highly recommend checking it out!

Breaking News: All Online Data Lost After Internet Crash

Let us celebrate!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007
I would like to take this opportunity to whole-heartedly congratulate my friend Alex on his engagement. He proposed last week to her and, to everyone's infinite surprise, she actually said "yes". (I wouldn't have!) To to my friend: I raise my glass to you. Congratulations!

Her freakin' big diamond.

Now, with that out of the way, I am free to reflect. I look around and see many people around me choosing to get married. I, myself, did it at one point (with results - regrettably - painful to all involved.) Would I ever do it again? I imagine some day I might, I guess. Perhaps I'm still living far too much for myself to ever be able to give that level of commitment. Perhaps the right person hasn't come along... or maybe they did, but not at the right time. Lots to speculate about and reflect on, but life marches inevitably forwards.

But enough about me. Cheers to you, Alex!

Oregon Native

Tuesday, July 10, 2007
You are 89% Oregon

Congratulations! You are a native Oregonian. Pick up your honorary singing salmon plaque at City Hall.

How Oregon are you?

Thanks for the heads-up, Jake. :)

At least it's a dry heat...

As local temperatures soared to a yearly high thus far, all I can do is offer thanks for the low humidity (about 26%, if the news it to be believed.) I personally saw a reading of 100 degrees in downtown Salem at about 5:30 PM today!
100 degrees at about 5:30 PM today

The Beach

Monday, July 09, 2007
Let me first tell you that - despite all appearances - laying around on the beach for several hours is more exhausting than it looks. I mean, just sitting around and enjoying the sun and surf can take it right out of you!

On Saturday, several friends and I hopped in the car and drove out to Lincoln City. Yes, I checked the weather report this time: it called for a sunny high of 70 in the afternoon, which sounded like perfect conditions. We opted to go to Road's End State Recreation Site on the north end of town. We put some blankets down in the sand and prepared to hang out - only to be surprised by the wind. I don't know what typhoon was parked off the Oregon Coast on Saturday, but sand was being embedded in my leg if I stood in the wrong spot! It was only after we piled up some driftwood and moved our blankets to the lee side of that pile that we were finally able to relax. Trying to put on suntan lotion while being covered in sand is not fun; I know I removed several epidermal layers trying to do it!

After a few hours, the wind died down. We were all able to take a walk up the beach, which was very picture-esque. We also tried throwing a Frisbee around. Apparently the wind hadn't quieted THAT much because we could only throw it about 10 feet into the wind before it starting arcing back around. Still, quite a fun time.

Throwing a frisbee around
Another draw of Lincoln City is the Tanger Outlet Mall. It is the only outlet mall on Earth that has both an Old Navy outlet and a Columbia Sportswear outlet. I finally got a chance to shop (in the manliest way possible, of course.) Finally, we had dinner at Mo's, a restaurant known widely for its excellent clam chowder. A bowl of it came with the halibut fish and chips that I indulged in - quite delicious.

Dinner at Mo's
I was pretty tired when I got home, but fortunately I had only the slightest sunburn from a wonderful day in the sun. That's what going to the beach is all about!

Faith in the Federal Government

Sunday, July 08, 2007
I ran across an interesting article on CNN.com about the low opinion people have of both the President and Congress. The article points out that the President's approval rating is down near 30 percent and Congress is down near 25 percent. (The individual parties both rated higher, interestingly enough.)

So what's this about? Senator Jon Kyl is quoted as saying, "It is a sad commentary in America today that many Americans have lost faith in their government .... Americans don't believe that their government is representing them, is acting on their behalf. The polls show it." Well, I believe him. Can YOU name anyone who feels represented by the federal government?

Let's look at some potential reasons cited for this lack of faith:
1) The war in Iraq. This should be a no-brainer, since the current administration got us mired in it and lots of folks are dying for no real good reason.
2) The immigration bill. Well, this one doesn't bother me at all; I really just wish something would get done instead of having more partisan bickering.

With those reasons cited, let me add a few of my own for why I think the federal government is near-useless at the highest levels:
1) Lack of representation. Seriously. With all the partisan bickering and sniping, I really don't feel like anything is being done with we the people in mind.
2) Lack of freedom. It really feels like - at every level - the government is doing its best to erode the constitution and personal liberties and freedoms. Perhaps this relates to the previous entry.

Anyway, this is perhaps just another political rant but this survey shows that the average American - you, me, and the next guy - has lost a lot of faith in our elected officials. I would much rather see things get done than watch epic fights over constitutional power between Congress and the Executive Branch. I'd much rather see inefficiencies cut and responsibility to the people restored than watch a bunch of institutional politicians gear up for a presidential election that's still 15 months away. It's sickening, really.

Freedom from Tyranny and Inconvenience

Wednesday, July 04, 2007
I hereby declare that hiking in the Columbia Gorge is Airwolf. I mean, I chose to spend my national holiday hiking, and I chose to do the Wahkeena Falls/Multnomah Falls loop. (Yes, I've done something similar before.) It is perhaps one of my favorite hikes of all times; too bad it's only about 5.5 miles long.

I arrived at the Multnomah Falls trailhead at about 1:00 in the afternoon. I'd have been there sooner, but parking was a nightmare. (The main lot was backed up onto the freeway, so I went past it and came back to the falls on the Historic Columbia River Highway.) Pulling off a minor miracle in terms of parallel parking, I left my car right next to the Multnomah Falls Lodge and took the trail to the base of Wahkeena Falls, where I turned uphill.

Even on a warm day, this hike is perfect. The path climbs next to water most of the way up; that cool, damp breeze blasting down while you're hiking is a godsend. After passing the main falls, I climbed up to Lemmon's Viewpoint to admire the Columbia Gorge, then continued up with the trail, admiring the beauty. Perhaps the best part of this trail is the contrast with Multnomah Falls; instead of one big drop you get to see a bunch of smaller waterfalls up close!

One of the many falls as you climb
Approaching the top of the Gorge, I turned left to head over to the Multnomah Falls trail. The climb is steep through that part and there's no water nearby to keep it cool, but the foliage is lush and the sounds of the freeway below have finally diminished to nothing.

Turning back downhill
Eventually that trail hooks up with the Multnomah Falls trail and I turned downhill. Lots of people climb to the top of Multnomah Falls, then turn around. They're missing out; the best part is even higher as the trail (less crowded) passes several smaller waterfalls and there's plenty of opportunities to admire the natural beauty up close.

Reaching the main, popular trail is almost a letdown. It's strange to see so many people huffing and puffing their way to the top, but at least they're doing it. The paved trail is easier to go down and I made good time getting to the bottom, taking a moment to appreciate the attraction.

Multnomah Falls
This is freedom, right here. Being out there... life doesn't get better than that, ever. (At least, not that I can imagine.) Just me and the world for a little while - that's where I was, that's where I want to be.

Oh, I also stopped off at a BBQ in Vancouver (yum!) and saw a friend downtown on my way back. No, I didn't blow anything up; fireworks just aren't doing it for me these days (though as I write this, I can still hear a lot of people setting them off outside.)

Happy 4th of July everyone; I hope yours was as good as mine.

My duty as a citizen

Monday, July 02, 2007
According to the Oregon state government's website, July is (or soon will be) Oregon Crafted Beer Month. "There are currently 56 brewing companies operating 76 brewing facilities in Oregon, with 28 breweries operating within the Portland city limits--more than any other city in the world." I can personally attest to the wide variety of mostly good beer that we have around here.

I'm conflicted. On the one hand, beer is high in calories and - in large quantities - not really good for me. On the other hand - in limited quantities - I'd be enjoying Oregon's fine crafted beers and doing my part as a citizen. I mean really, if I'm not drinking the local beer I must hate Oregon, right?

I think I shall enjoy some this week. The Ram has a fine "Blonde" beer that I've become fond of. When I'm in the mood for something darker, I like the Black Butte Porter from the Deschutes brewery. Do I have extra lemons laying around? Perhaps a Hefeweizen from the Widmer brothers. Up at the Kennedy School watching a movie? McMenamin's has a decent selection of their own beer, as well. With so many options it's hard to choose - and hard to lose, since they're all good.

I'll raise a glass to that!

A Prost: Batman's Utility Belt



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