Thursday, December 30, 2010

Mobile Web

It looks like the Internet will be coming soon to a dashboard near you.  First reaction:  I suppose this kind of advancement--if you want to call it that--is inevitable, but until cars drive themselves, I'm not so sure Internet access in the dashboard is such a great idea.  (Even if it's designed not to work when the car is moving, people always find ways to bypass roadblocks, so to speak.) 

Maybe I'm just being paranoid, but I can see parents who want to keep their kids quiet on the road being motivated to get past the "no-net-surfing-while-in-motion" limitation.  A cottage industry will spring up to hack the web-on-wheels, leading to one or two deaths somewhere in LA, or Chicago.  This will spark Congressional hearings.  Then some random regulatory agency (probably the Department of Agriculture) will step in to put tighter controls on how all of us drive, and internal monitors in our vehicles to watch our every move while we're on the road, followed by a push to automate driving, with self-driving cars attached to a centrally-controlled grid, like in Methuselah's Children.  Eventually, we'll have to file trip permits with a giant centralized bureaucracy to go to the grocery store.  All of this because some car manufacturer thought we might want to search Google Maps on the road while heading to Aunt Tilly's house!  When will the madness end?!  There is one bright spot, however.  It sure would shorten long-distance trips having a self-driving car taking the night shift!

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Imagine having a dream that, if fulfilled, could truly change the world for the better.  Now imagine that you have the knowledge, understanding and determination to possibly pull it off.  Why shouldn't you?  You've changed the world before.  Wouldn't it be amazing to live that kind of life?  Wouldn't it be amazing to change the world--for the better? 

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Green Police

I was reminded today of the "Green Police" ad that Audi has been running.  (Saw it last week, as well as during the Super Bowl.)  Anyone besides me have a hard time understanding how the decision-makers at Audi could actually think this commercial is a good idea?  Does it make you want to run right out and buy their clean-burning diesel vehicle, or does it make you want to start a tire fire and roast non-organic baby seals over the open flame?  I'm not saying composting, energy conservation and using less chemicals aren't good things--I think they are--but making a "light-hearted" commercial where a homeowner gets hauled off in handcuffs for using incandescent light bulbs doesn't make me want to jump on the green bandwagon.  It makes me want to take a big old carbon-belching chainsaw to it.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Portland's Esplanade

The sun came to Portland during Rose Festival!! Briefly. Ked and I had not seen her face for weeks. We knew the chances were high that our renewed acquaintance would be short, but we could make it sweet, so we decided to head out into the world on a beautiful Sunday to see the sights and soak in the feel of a city awash with masses of cheerful frolickers. Maybe I should avoid words like "soak" and "awash" though. It was a particularly soggy spring around these parts, and the golden orb is even now a little shy of company and tends to hide in her room.

Never mind the rain--let's move on to our city adventure. The Willamette River runs through the middle of Portland, and there is a lovely walk, called the Esplanade, which parallels the water on both sides for about three miles, and crosses it at several bridges along the way. The east side has a beautiful view across to the city skyline and Waterfront Park, and the west side walk takes you along the park itself, which on this particular Sunday housed the carnival that is an annual Rose Festival attraction. The bridges offer gorgeous views of the city, the river, and on clear days will give you a look at our wonderful Northwest mountains. Few sights can top that of Mount Hood in all her glory, still wrapped in winter white, but shining in the spring sunshine!

Now, you know I'm not telling you all of this because I think you're going to be interested in the fact that Ked and I had a fun outing. Of course I want to show you pictures!! Click on them if you want to see them enlarged, and come walk the Esplanade with me!!

The Esplanade designers did their best to make the walk beautiful, artsy, and user friendly. The walk parallels a freeway to its east, but you really don't notice it much once you reach the river. The walkway is wide enough for pedestrians, bicyclists, skateboarders, and rollerbladers all to share the space pretty comfortably, as long as folks remember to follow sensible rules-of-the-road. Pretty easy, unless you get too distracted by snapping pictures and enjoying how pretty the view is!!

Part of the entertainment along the river is watching the bridges go up and down to allow ships to pass (unless you're in a car, waiting to cross that bridge!) Portland sits where the Willamette flows into the Columbia, and both are deep enough to allow large ships to come quite a ways inland, making Portland a very active port city.

The Willamette has its share of smaller boats as well, and a sunny weekend will find the river flowing with traffic.

My motto: Never miss the opportunity to wear a sunhat!!

I found myself wondering how this tree formed into this particular shape. Wonder if one of our famous local ice storms took out a chunk of the middle some year? Clearly Ked's not thinking of ice here, though. He's just enjoying the day.

Love to see our flag standing at attention.

I found this aspect fun, with all those intersecting angles.

Walking along the Esplanade, you definitely get a sense of why Portland is sometimes called Bridge City.

Plenty of room for traffic here, but for some reason I did manage to get quite a few shots with a minimum of people in them. I love the flow of this one.

The freeway passing overhead really just feels like part of the scenery--sort of like the monorail at Disneyland. Ooh! Speaking of Disneyland, we're heading there soon with some dear friends, and I can't wait!! I love doing the Disney thing with other people's kids! (A bit off topic, I know, but I'm just so darned excited!!!!)

Don't ask me why I felt the need to get a shot of rust and peeling paint. I just thought it looked cool.

Waterfront Park has some charm, don't you think?

We loved the look of this ride from underneath. It has such an old-fashioned carnival look to it. Makes me want cotton candy--and I don't even like cotton candy!!

A sunny day will always bring out the fountain-dwellers.

.. and let's not forget the street musicians! What would life be without jazz in a Mickey Mouse hat? (This guy was pretty good.)

Oh, for the courage to be flung in the air...
Nope, ain't there. If I get really relaxed and happy first, though, I can probably get myself to go on Tower of Terror at D-land again!

Here's where we say goodbye to our Sunday stroll. Ked and I crossed the bridge and headed back to our car after this. Nice view of the city from this bridge, doncha think? The bustle of the crowd meets the serenity of a near-summer day. Gotta love Portland.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010


I can't begin to articulate how much this disgusts me. Anybody care to claim that if the color scheme were reversed anyone in authority would be defending this?

I didn't think so.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Morgan Hill Retreat

Every once in a while, don't you just crave a good view? Doesn't it fill your soul with something bigger to see something truly beautiful? This can take many forms, of course. Some people thrill to wide open spaces, others, looking down on a city aglow with electric lights, the sunny calm of a desert morning, majestic mountains, or even just fine art, or a pretty face. Heck, a well-designed car can get some people's hearts beating a little faster! Throw in a good stormy beach, and I think we've got a pretty good list going here. I can't resist the pretty. It improves my mood, my attitude, and my whole outlook on life to focus on something beautiful for a little while.

Getting out and about to see the world can be a challenge for me at times. Environmental allergies force me to be very careful about where I spend my time. If I know that one thing on my agenda will cost a lot on the allergy front, it means I have to balance that with safer activities and places other times. Trips away from home have to be carefully calculated for total health wear-and-tear, and weekends away are seldom worth the cost if they involve a lot of travel and smells, without enough fun and beauty to compensate.

Because of this, when Ked and I found out that our niece Emma was going to be in a musical in Poulsbo, WA (west of Seattle) a couple weekends ago, we thought we'd just drive up for the day, because hotels and B&Bs in general are deadly. All the products that are spread around the rooms to make them "smell clean" are nothing more than migraines and fevers waiting to happen. Portland to Poulsbo is a pretty considerable amount of time in the car for two hours in a theater, but Emma's worth the drive, so we booked our theater tickets and planned for a long day.

Here's where our weekend took a turn for the pretty. Ked surprised me by going online and finding us a lovely fragrance-free Bed and Breakfast to stay at for the whole weekend!! Hallelujah! Not only do such things now exist, but we are discovering that a few Google searches can net you safe rooms all over the place these days. A whole new world of travel is about to open up to us, and I am almost salivating over future schemes of exotic adventures. New York, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, The Virgin Islands, and Tahiti are all high on my list of places I want to explore. Museums, mountains, and romantic beaches here we come!! Well, eventually anyway. For now, I'm happy to have gotten a nice pampered weekend.

The wonderful place where we stayed is called Morgan Hill Retreat. It's restful and pleasant, with a gorgeous view of the Olympic Mountains, a welcoming and kind hostess, good food (Marcia even cooked me gluten free pancakes!), geese and llamas, a pond, and best of all, scent safety! We had a great time at the play, watching our niece steal the show, but it was a profoundly perfumed environment. The woman who sat in front of me has a shower nozzle with a perfume setting--I'm absolutely certain of it. So I can't tell you what a relief it was to know that I was going to sleep that night in a room where I could really breath and sleep in comfort. Our family up in Poulsbo is probably going to see a lot more of us now that we know about the charming oasis that is Morgan Hill!!

I won't bore you with other details about the weekend, the horrible traffic, the fab-but-expensive dinners and perfect weather, the cute Norwegian artsy town of Poulsbo, Seattle's Pike Street Market, the wonderful paella cookbook we found there. (I will, however, make a list for you of all the things I am not going to tell you about!) I'll just pass you now onto some of the pictures and hope you enjoy them. Most are from Morgan Hill, although a few are from Poulsbo. No explanations or captions necessary, I think. (Click on the pictures if you want to enlarge them.) If my camera did its job, you'll be able to draw your own conclusions about the weekend without any more jabber from me!

That's all folks. Any of these make you want to go there? They certainly make me want to go back! As I said before, it improves my mood, my attitude, and my whole outlook on life to focus on something beautiful for a little while.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Namaste In Portland

I read somewhere that most new restaurants don't make it past their third year. They have to build enough of a steady clientele to cover costs, and eventually make a profit, and, for whatever reason, many worthy ventures can't build momentum quickly enough to keep their doors open over the long haul. Knowing this, whenever Ked and I find a new local restaurant that we really love, we try to give it a boost along the path of longevity. We don't eat out that often (honestly we can generally cook better food at home that we find in many restaurants, and for far, far less money), but a promising start-up will lure us out to part with our dollars more readily than most eateries, because we want to make sure the place is there later when we want it. We see it as a symbiotic relationship.

Funny thing is, we often rapidly fall into a rut when we discover a new favorite. Whatever dish we loved first becomes the thing that draws us back, and a craving for specific foods, rather than places will be what calls us to dine there again. We want to be adventurous, but somehow always manage to cling to the familiar, because the familiar is so very tasty. In Namaste (at 8303 NE Sandy Boulevard, in Portland), open for only six weeks now, we have found the perfect motivator to break our pattern of culinary fidelity. Last Sunday afternoon we stopped by for an absolutely divine Indian buffet, so well prepared that all of the lovely foods we associate with India were given new standards to meet, because now every time we eat Indian food we will be comparing it to this Indian food. From the chana masala, to the lamb curry and goat, to the vegetables in curry cream sauce, to the eggplant pakoras, there wasn't a thing we ate that wasn't amazing. (The spinach was definitely the best I've ever tasted.) With such mouth-watering, delectable variety set out before us, offering instant gratification, and the opportunity to taste everything that strikes our fancy, even Ked and I can manage to stay out of a rut--or at least make the rut a whole lot wider than usual!

What makes this discovery especially exciting for us is how hard it's been to find really good Indian food in Portland, that doesn't cost so much that a trip to India to pick up a snack would seem almost as reasonable as dining here in the City of Roses. We learned to love Indian food in England, where it is as common and inexpensive as Chinese food is here in the States, and have been disappointed time and again as we've tried to repeat the experience we loved in Britain. Delicious, plentiful, and inexpensive seem to be mutually exclusive terms when is comes to Indian food here at home. When we have found well-prepared food, it has been prohibitively expensive, or left us hungry at the end of the meal. I remember one time downtown when we ordered a lamb dish which gave us three small chunks of meat in a serving dish full of sauce for somewhere in the neighborhood of $18. $18!! Seriously, we left that restaurant hungry enough to immediately go eat somewhere else. For the money it cost for that one dish we could have both dined happily and repletely at Namaste, where the lunch buffet is $8.95 per person, and dinner will cost you around $12.

Remember that three-year rule with restaurants? I expect Ked and I will be doing our part on many Sunday afternoons to come, to ensure that this wonderful gem stays open long past its third birthday. We're already planning our next Namaste outing. If you're from Portland, I suggest you do the same!

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year--Welcome 2010!!

Happy New Year! Here in Portland we saw the old year pass with a little snow (on the 30th), which suited some of us just fine. Of course, it caused one of the biggest traffic jams the Rose City has ever seen, but isn't it worth a five hour commute for the pleasure of seeing the world turn white!?! Well, okay, maybe not, but since Ked and I were only stuck in traffic for an hour-and-a-half, we tolerated it rather cheerfully. We were also happy to see 2009 go away. Not the best year in the Meow household, but I'm hopeful that good things are coming down the pike, so bring on the new!!

We snapped a few photos in the waning days of December. Nothing too exciting, but some happy memories, so I'll post them here as a way to keep the memories handy... (Click to enlarge.)

We had all sorts of errands to run on Wednesday, as the weather got interesting. We went to the County and the Post Office, to turn in our passport applications, ordered replacement windows for our house, and hit Target for a few necessary pre-holiday purchases. Lots of driving in less than ideal conditions. You can see by the look on Ked's face, though, that the sticking snow didn't faze him a bit. Snow is good for the soul!

No one really needs to see another picture of Target's parking lot, but it's such a nice photo of Ked that I couldn't resist.

Our neighborhood looks so much prettier with Christmas lights and snow!

New Year's Eve day, we took a drive to the coast to watch a wonderfully blustery storm on the beach. On the way, we passed orchards and fields wearing the remnants of the previous day's snowfall. So, so very pretty.

The day was uniformly foggy. At the beach it was really more like the clouds were resting right on the water, with rain and wind springing from the solid white mass, but here in this orchard the fog was more like a veil being drawn over the old year. It was romantically spooky and beautiful.

I don't think that telescope would have been much use with the weather touching bottom the way it was, but my camera lens penetrated just far enough to show the wildly crashing waves. Those waves kept us entertained for hours.

The wind was whipping the sand around, creating lovely patterns and providing more entertainment. The boy you see above was having a grand old time leaning into the gusts, lurching forward as the wind beneath his wings would temporarily and abruptly abandon him to gravity.

After a splendid dinner at our favorite coastal restaurant--Tidal Raves in Depoe Bay--we drove home through the dark and were in bed well before midnight! (Ked, at least, was in bed before midnight. I am not a good sleeper, even when fireworks are not going off in my neighborhood!) It was a very low-key New Year's celebration, but one appropriate to the year that was passing. I hear we missed a lovely party back home, one we would have liked to attend had I not already spent all my allergen and energy points on Christmas, but given my current physical limitations I can't complain too much that I spent a quiet day watching the wind and waves with my kind and loving husband. I have hope that 2010 will be less limited, but 2009 went out with gentle cheerfulness, and I am content.

However you celebrated the start of the tens, I pray for you a blessed, productive and joyful year ahead. Happy New Year!