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I saw goats, and now you can, too

Soon there will be news about the Belmont Goats. The owners are preparing to move the herd, as the site next to the Wattles Boys & Girls Club (SE 92nd and Harold) will start to be developed this summer. I made sure to visit them Friday evening — watching through the fence, as the site was closed to visitors at the time — and today. I wandered, then sat at the main shelter, with my tablet available to take pictures. Enough of the goats were cranky that they were wearing red bandannas, the herd's signal that you should give those goats their space, but plenty of them were friendly.

Here are some of them.

Bailey, one of the older goats. Also the only one who was "debudded," where her horns were removed (by her previous owners).

More shots, including of ME!Collapse )


Friday, May 25th, 2018.


...sometimes I just want to post "Hi."
Impromptu visit Wednesday! Alicia was up from Eugene with her mom, and I could spend the day with her. Alicia had let me know Tuesday afternoon, when she got offered going on the road trip; was I available? I was.

Her mom dropped her off at Powell's Books downtown in the middle of the day, and we had several hours to fill and kill. We stopped for snacks and our initial catching-up in the Powell's café, then we got going via Streetcar. Before rendezvousing with her, I'd double-checked how to buy a fare at a Streetcar station, since I hadn't done that before. Even with checking, I was slow at buying her fare (TriMet all-say pass, to give us maximum flexibility) and a Streetcar pulled up and out while I did so. Luckily I checked and it wasn't on the route we wanted.

"It's OK, that's not the train we're taking," I said, I hope reassuringly.

We rode over Tillikum Crossing, the bridge that opened in 2015, and walked over to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. Alicia treated me to a ticket. And go put herself a ticket, too, otherwise she wouldn't be having fun. We visited special exhibits about robots and about what's found in permafrost, and walked over to the U.S.S. Blueback, OMSI's submarine. We didn't joyride in it.

Lunch was next, and at my suggestion we hopped back on the Streetcar and went to the bar/diner/greasy spoon My Father's Place. Happily, Alicia really liked her burger. (Huh: I think I have somehow not yet eaten a burger there. I'll correct that!) And I liked my quesadilla. Then up to a bus stop, onto a conveniently-timed # 20 bus to downtown, and back to Powell's so she could shop. She'd waited so that she wouldn't have to schlep books around.

Her mom then found us, and because she didn't want to leave Portland until rush hour had died down, she took my suggestion of where to go for a light dinner. We drove north from near Powell's into the Pearl, and I knew of a place that'd work, Urban Pantry, because my friend Mary-Suzanne had recommended it (it's owned by someone she used to work with). Light dinners for the two of them, a drink for me, since I was far more thirsty than hungry,

All this on a warm, sunny day, but one where we got enough doses of cooler air in stores, trains, cars and restaurants to keep comfortable. Then they dropped me off near a bus stop I could take to get back to where I live, and they got back to the places they live.

Out-Of-Context Theater.


Cleaner and more sorted

My latest little bit of progress was some home cleaning. Too much paper. Much of it recycled. Too many piles. Now either less-piled or, for now, on my bed while I figure out better places to put it. (I've started a bag of single-issue comic books that I'll donate to my county library, for instance, because I know the branches will take them.) Dust, dusted.

One particular chore I'd neglected was one I've previously, with one exception, been pretty good at: going through my bank statements. They usually get here each month, I compare it with my checkbook, correct any errors, and recycle the statements. Except that I hadn't done so since last summer. I'd gone a long time without doing it before, nearly two years during the time I worked at the construction company. For various reasons, I felt kind of weird about money at the time; it was like I didn't want to think about it. But the stack of statements grew and grew until I finally dealt with it, and that felt better. Like this time.

It turned out I'd mislaid one month's statement, from last fall. But since I am, no matter what, good with paying attention to my online statement, I knew nothing surprising would be in that period, and no math errors I'd have to correct. Still, balancing the checkbook without checking that month again felt like cheating.

Once that was done, one of my other habits kicked in: cutting out the parts of the statements that have my account number, and throwing away those parts of them in a completely different place. It's a small handful of paper in a garbage bag, which won't be picked up until next week's trash pickup, which is every other week for houses in Portland. Anyone going through our recycling in tonight won't find anything to rip me off with.

At least, I hope so.

Plath knew what she meant

I hadn't read enough female poets. I've been working to change that. Starting last year I borrowed poetry collections by Mary Oliver, Wisława Szymborska, Maya Angelou, and (because I randomly found a book of hers on the library shelves) Marilyn Nelson. Several weeks ago I picked up a complete collection of Sylvia Plath's work, mostly organized by year with a juvenilia section in the back of the book.

It's vivid work. I don't know how much of it I "get," but it's vivid. It's felt. But I'll admit that I've found it daunting, enough that I really slowed down my reading of it. At one point, I took a break and read one of her juvenilia poems instead, figuring it would be more straightforward and understandable. It was, and it was still vivid.

I remind myself: Sylvia Plath knew what she was doing, and what she was saying. She wasn't randomly putting words together like the South Park manatees. I've also been impressed with Plath's sense of structure, something I'm working to learn more about in poetry, including mine.

So for now, I'm pacing myself: a few Plath poems a night, where I mouth the words in order to better pay attention to them, and, I hope, get more meaning from them. I doubt I'll reread the whole collection, as I did with Mary Oliver and Maya Angelou, but I want to get more from what Plath wrote.


I think of pennies

Coins on the sidewalks. Coins on the streets. I see them, I get them. Nickels, dimes, and (sometimes) quarters that I find wind up in my wallet or in one of my change containers; pennies I find wind up in a particular jar I've had for years that holds, when full, just over 600 pennies. I know; I've tested. I took it to a Coinstar machine and turned the pennies into $6 and change.

Financially, I know, it's not efficient. It's not for most people. Neil DeGrasse Tyson once said that, for example, Bill Gates earns so much that it would only be worth his while to pick up money on the ground if that money totaled tens of thousands of dollars. I'll never earn what Bill Gates earns (unless my life has some MASSIVE plot twist), but picking up dropped pennies is not going to fund my retirement. But I'm glad to do it.

Environmentally, picking up coins is a good idea, especially pennies. In 1982, the U.S. Mint changed the formula for a penny from about 95% copper and 5% zinc to the other way around, almost no copper and mostly zinc. If a person, or an animal (like a dog or a cat) swallows a penny, the zinc would react to stomach linings much more than copper would. I don't like to imagine people or animals getting sick from swallowing a penny.

It may not be likely, pennies getting swallowed, but by picking them up I make it less likely. I can feel good about that.

As for pennies in general, maybe eventually we'll simply stop making them. A few other countries have...

This entry is brought to you by the 14 pennies I found during today's walk.


Oregon is one of the places in the U.S. with an election tomorrow. Primaries for party members, non-partisan elected positions plus levies for anyone who votes. I voted on Saturday, and dropped off my ballot at an official ballot drop box at the library nearest to me.

I've done vote-by-mail since the late 1990s; my fellow Oregonians voted it into law in 1998. I think I didn't vote in a few local elections since I became eligible, but I try to make sure I do each election since, including every federal election since 1992. 1996 was the last time I voted in a federal election in a booth, set up at a public hall in Dundee, Oregon. I walked there. I felt good about that. I think (and hope) I had a list of who and what I was voting for; winging a vote is a really bad idea. But with vote-by-mail, you can take your time to decide.

For this election, I didn't have a physical copy of the voters' guides as I usually do, but they were easy to find online. (One for my state, one for my county.) I read statements, I looked at some endorsements, I filled in circles. I was clear. No chance for hanging chads.

*thinks of 2000 election* *cringes*

Anyway. I use a handy service my county provides: County Elections can track your ballot for you. I've gotten emails letting me know 1) they'd received it, then 2) they'd accepted it. I got those emails today, three hours apart. Next, they'll count it.

This is doable. I really hope more parts of the U.S. will, eventually (soon), do vote-by-mail too.

Meanwhile, I've gotten practice for the next election...and the next one...and the next election... (Don't miss others, Chris...)


Today we got hot-weather practice

Spring seems to want to imitate summer right now. Portland had a high-80s day today. It also had a Portland Timbers-Seattle Sounders game downtown at Providence Park, and that field with its turf gets hot. As in 100°-plus today on the field (not in the stands). A lot of the game seemed low-energy, maybe partly due to the heat, but the Timbers picked up late in the game and YES GOT A GOAL THE GAME-WINNING GOAL. Phew. It wasn't a pretty win — The Beautiful Game isn't always pretty — but, WIN. Yes.

I was home, which has been reasonably cool. Because I cleaned the bathroom today, and didn't do so until this afternoon (after the game), I didn't bother to shower and am unclean at the moment. Which means tomorrow's shower will be extra-nice.

(If this had been a TED Talk, I'd've caused a riot. Or at least a lot of demands for people to get their money back.)

Better Living Through Technology

For various reasons, I'd like to visit Seattle.

For various reasons, I won't be anytime soon.

...to the rescue, Google Maps Street View!

...there. That kind of scratches the itch. Kind of. Especially since I've been on Yesler Way, and looked up at Smith Tower (a building that has a role in Cherie Priest's fun alternate history novel Boneshaker).

Seriously. Sometimes just plug into Google Maps a place you like to visit, or would like to visit, and look via the Web.


by Christopher Walsh, 5/1/2018-5/11/2018

I do not want to be scared by the world.
I do not want to be scared of the world.
Or mad at it.
Or worn down by it.
All this is easy with the world so big,
With all its ways to overwhelm,
To be difficult,
To be unfair,
To be cruel.
"Weight of the world," we say. World-weight.
That weight would literally crush other worlds:
Of course we'd have trouble handling it.
We feel metaphorical weight:
And it can build up quickly.
It may feel like Earth's gravity suddenly pushing as well as pulling,
Pressing and pressuring,
Stopping you and not simply holding you.
Your mind feels constricted.
You hope deep breaths will help
To regain your mental space,
But it doesn't feel like nearly enough.
What may become too huge to handle?
What will seem too much?
What do you
What do I
What do we
What do you fear will be some thing that
It is hard to think about. And hard not to think about,
When the world, it seems, works against you.
(A conceit. The world itself
Is not going after you.
Earth simply can't care what's in our minds;
Earth doesn't work like that.)
There are ways to lift the world-weight,
To handle more,
To cope:
Some healthy, some not;
Some healthy for me, but not for you;
Some, the reverse of that;
Still, the ways exist, and they are waiting
For us to use
To push against that weight,
Trying to find
The handle
To grip
And to move us to health.
Towards health.
To shift the world-weight off of us.
To find breathing room. Because
Somewhere, some way, somehow,
There is
In fact
Enough of it.


In touch

Progress. Slow progress, but progress. Monday I sent a few more job applications. Today (Tuesday), I was social, too. My friend Matt, who I've known since 2001, took me to a nice breakfast at the Arleta Library Café, a well-liked brunch place near where I live. It's not far from where he and his family live, and they go there regularly. I'd only been there once before, back in 2014 not long after I'd moved to the neighborhood, and at the time I felt that I'd want to go there with companions. At least one companion, in this case.

I've been reminding myself: it's easier to keep in touch than I sometimes act like it is. Arranging to have breakfast with Matt was part of that. I've also been sending general "What's up?" messages on Facebook Messenger, particularly to the people I know who are new or recent parents: it's harder for them to be social, due to the massive adjustment having a new or new-ish kid at home. So we can use technology for good.

(I also can use technology better: I've figured out how to capitalize letters on my new phone's texts. IT WASN'T OBVIOUS, UNDERSTAND.)

A shining city on a hill.

There was a chance, nearly 20 years ago, that Seattle would have been my home.

I seriously considered it. Back in 2000, I wanted to move from the small town of Hermiston to a larger town in the Northwest. I was thinking either Seattle/the Seattle area or Portland; I didn't consider Spokane or Boise, because I wanted to be closer to the Coast again. Eugene, as much as I'm fond of it, would have felt like a retread.

In April 2000, I took a week off from my newspaper job, drove diagonally across Washington state, and stayed at the home my cousin Max was renting in Central District, south of Capitol Hill. I visited her, I visited the city, and, since I was hoping to stay in media, I bought copies of newspapers and magazines published in Seattle and the region. Even a copy of the Vancouver Sun, because maybe there'd be a U.S. bureau, right?

Seattle is an amazing city. A weird, extreme one, kind of a North San Francisco in how it earned an eccentric reputation. Its most famous landmark is a giant tripod. The first big, and I mean big, commercial planes in the U.S. were tested there, and those planes' pilots did things like fly a Boeing 707 at a slower speed than freeway traffic or make a 707 do a barrel roll. (Yes, really.) The central library was designed to invoke the image of a stack of books. Seattle's also a city, like Portland or Boston, where when I first visited I felt deeply, bone-level comfortable, an I-could-live-here kind of comfortable. (Which I never felt about the Bay Area, as much as I love visiting it.)

Later in 2000 I decided on Portland, and that decision boiled down to this reason: I haven't enjoyed Portland enough yet. I still wonder sometimes what moving to Seattle would have been like for me. Completely different friend experience. Completely different work experience. A much different family experience, with my parents farther away but Max, one of my favorite cousins, nearby. (She and I are simpático; we particularly "get" each other.) WOULD I HAVE BEEN A SOUNDERS FAN. I would have been Me, but Me in a different context.

But I'm thinking of how maybe — and certainly to an extent, but how much? — Seattle is a construct in my mind that's come from not seeing it enough, and from not seeing it the way a resident, or native, would see the city. I read about its issues and growing pains, and how it's a tough city for many people who aren't rich. Max and her partner sold their more recent home (in Beacon Hill) and moved to a house they bought in Tukwila, down the road from the big city. I wonder if, had I moved to the area too, I would have been flat-out forced out of Seattle by now.

Would I have made Seattle work?

And, for now, a simpler question: when will I next visit? I was last there in 2010. It's been too long.

For this May the 4th, a statement:

I try.


I...I still have a basic disagreement with him on this.


A six-word story.

"Country roads, take me home..."



Random Weird Al appreciation

I've been a Weird Al Yankovic fan as long as I've been a Star Trek fan.

I got into both around age 9. The LP for In 3-D got played a lot at our house in Virginia Beach, by both me and my older brother. More LPs, tape dubs of other albums, watching his videos and AL-TV specials, eventually buying each of his albums on CD, finally seeing him in concert in 2010: it's been rewarding.

And I appreciate, more and more, how much hustle the guy has.

You need plenty of talent to have a 40-year career, like he's had. You need a certain amount of luck. But you also need to keep, at, it. And to want to keep at it. Weird Al's been writing, singing, recording and performing since the 1970s. He made it his day job in the Eighties, after a time when he was both a musician and a record label desk job person. He's written books. He's acted in TV and film. He became his own director. He's done Saturday morning television and introduced very young audiences to talent like Stan Freberg. He's toured more and more. So has his band, the exact same band since the early Eighties (no personnel changes!), and they can play anything, and play it well.

He's always rebounded from flops. The non-success Polka Party! (STILL A GOOD ALBUM, I SAY) was followed by his hit Even Worse. The dual flop in 1989 of UHF, as both a film and an album, was followed by 1992's success Off the Deep End, with Al redoing Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit."

You may know how Al got Kurt Cobain's OK to turn "Smells Like Teen Spirit" into "Smells Like Nirvana" — Al called his friend/former partner Victoria Jackson at Saturday Night Live's set on the day Nirvana was rehearsing its upcoming appearance, he asked her to get Cobain on the phone, she did, Al asked Cobain's permission, Cobain asked if the song would "be about food," Al said "Actually it's about how no one can understand what you're singing, Kurt laughed — but I also like this story from after that album's release:

Fans started telling Al that they loved his parody of the band Extreme. "What Extreme parody?" Al thought. He hadn't done one, but people had heard his fake love ballad "You Don't Love Me Anymore" and thought it based on Extreme's one hit, "More Than Words." But instead of getting hung up on the confusion, Al used it: he quickly made a video, in the style of the "More Than Words" video, for his song.

And I hadn't known this story until recently: before he thought of "Smells Like Nirvana," Al thought of turning Michael Jackson's "Black or White" into his own version called "Snack All Night." He'd had success with turning Jackson songs into tunes about food before, why not again? Until Jackson said no. He didn't want the song's overt politics to potentially be blunted by a funny version being out there. And he made the right decision, and Al, instead of stewing about it or thinking it unfair, kept looking for new inspiration. And found it.

No, I won't be at Weird Al's May shows in Portland, or in Eugene. But plenty of my friends will be. Al has stressed that, by his standards, this concert tour ("The Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour") is him indulging himself — no song parodies, focus on his originals, unexpected covers of surprising songs — but he knows how to get an audience eating out of his hand. It's been a satisfying tour for him and for his fans. When someone as professionally enthusiastic as Lin-Manuel Miranda likes your work, that's a great sign.

Thank you for your continued hustle, Weird Al.


Another goats photo post

From my Wednesday visit to the Belmont Goats...

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