26 August 2009

Cheese and fish

I think it's a testament to how much I love cheese that, despite being in Oregon for less than two months, I've been to the Tillamook Cheese Factory twice already. What can I say! It's a wonderful place. And cheese is awesome! So is this picture.

After Tillamook, Abby, Anna and I drove south to the Oregon Aquarium, which is located in an oceanside town called Newport. If you are from Cincinnati and you're reading this, you'll appreciate the irony of the "other" Newport Aquarium. One of the craziest things I saw there was this tank full of anchovy... no big deal, they show up in Caesar salads all the time, right? Well, I have never eaten them and probably never will, because they are fabulously beautiful little creatures. When they swim they open their mouths to eat, revealing multiple thin red gills that contrast wildly against their otherwise silver bodies. I know it's hard to see in this picture, but well done, anchovy!

Funniest exchange of the day at the aquarium:

Me: Did you pet the starfish?!? They were pretty cool.
Anna: No! Did you pet the little sharks?!?
Me: No! Did you pet the sea anemone?!? They grabbed my finger!
Anna: No! Did you pet the stingray?!?
Me: No! Because of Steve Irwin, you know.
(man in background overhears this, starts laughing hysterically...)

21 August 2009

An Open Letter to Those Who Oppose Health Care Reform

To those of you who compare Americans of any stripe to Nazis, or compare bills in Congress to that of policies enacted under Hitler in fascist Germany, I give you Barney Frank, and beyond that I'm not wasting any more of my time on you.

To those of you who somehow think that health care is not a "right" that should be offered, nay, mandated, for all Americans, can you please tell me why it's the law that we have to have our cars insured, but not our own bodies?

To those of you who actually believe in "death panels"... are you kidding me?!? What part of "living will" and "end of life planning" translates into "euthanizing grandma", exactly? My bad, the concepts of living wills and end of life planning are probably too complex for you to manage, so hopefully someone will come out with an illustrated version of the bill soon...

To those of you who think that we don't deserve nationwide single-payer healthcare, OK, fine. I don't suppose you think that we should make police officers or soldiers pay for their healthcare, and neither do I. But how about the roughly 2 1/2 million people incarcerated in United States prisons? Should we make them pay for healthcare? As Andy Borowitz puts it:

"So the Lockerbie bomber, Abdel Baset al Megrahi, was sprung from prison so that he could receive medical attention in his native Libya, where he was given a hero's welcome today.

Let's leave aside the hero's welcome part for a moment - there are 47 million uninsured Americans who'd love to get the medical attention part.

So what do you have to do to get health care in 2009 - become an international terrorist? No, actually, every prisoner in US prisons gets it.

Excuse me, I've got to go rob a liquor store."
Mind boggling. Simply mind-boggling. We need health care reform, period. Can you crazies please let the adults handle it this time?

19 August 2009

Asymptotically approaching zen*

*(The title is an homage to my high school physics teacher, who, when we told her she was a "genius", replied that she was "asymptotically approaching genius levels"... i.e., getting close but never quite there.)

In the past couple of years, I've come to the conclusion that I might be at my happiest when I'm riding a bike. At the very least, the wind on my face and satisfaction of gliding along while taking in the scenery and actually getting places has proven to lift my spirits when I'm low, or calm me down when I'm anxious. And, of course, if there's even a small hill involved, it burns calories, and I could always stand to burn more calories.

Another constant in my life, whether intended or it's just something I gravitate towards, is bridges. As in, things that you cross to get over water. In undergrad, I liked them so much that I tried to slip one into every design project I had, and for my senior thesis I actually designed a building ON a bridge.

So imagine my immense pleasure when I discovered that, here in Portland, there's an annual "Bridge Pedal", an event where all of the bridges in the city are shut down to car traffic and opened up to cyclists. And in a bike-and-bridge-happy city such as Portland, this means that 11 bridges were shut down to allow the passage of no less than 20,000 people on bikes. That's a crowd roughly the size of the LA Marathon on bikes, crossing the river on bridges meant for trains, trucks, and even a couple of Interstates! Below is an image of a group of riders already on the highway "merging" with another group of riders who are taking an entrance ramp (on the far right).

Talk about exhilarating. This guy only looks grumpy because he just got done climbing a big hill like the rest of us. The reward is getting to stop at a rest stop in the middle of a dormant highway - note the I-5 signs up ahead.

This looks like a dream I had. About highways for bikes.

We had a drum group at this rest stop. Note the "Suicide Counseling" sign on the far right. We're WAY up over the river at this point...

The St. Johns Bridge was out of the way, but most certainly worth it.

Waiting for a train to pass in the Pearl District.

At the finish line, treats such as donuts and ice cream bars were waiting.

For a while now, I've been waiting for the Universe to tell me what to do or where to go. In the meantime, Portland stepped up and said, "hey, I don't know about the Universe, but we like you a lot, and by the way, there's this bike ride you ought to join us on..." So here I am. It's a relief to show up in one of the greenest, most livable places in the country and to actually be encouraged to stay. And it's remarkable to find peace in the instability of unemployment. So unless the Universe has any better ideas, I think I'll just keep trying to achieve zen here.

Someday, I hope I'll look back on this period of time and say, "wow, what a learning experience that was!"

10 August 2009

Architects in Movies: A Definitive List

Because I just saw 500 Days of Summer, and it was terrific; and also, because I'm a nerd who has too much time on her hands, I would like to try to compile a definitive list of Architects in Movies. Which is to say, a main character in a movie is depicted as an architect, whether or not he or she is working in that capacity. Luckily I can change these blog posts pretty easily, so as I figure out more, I'll just keep updating the posts. So, I present to you...

Architects in Movies: A Definitive List

the Black Cat (1934) - Boris Karloff
Mrs Miniver (1942) - Walter Pidgeon
The Fountainhead (1949) - Gary Cooper
Strangers when we meet (1960) - Kirk Douglas
The World of Suzie Wong (1960) - William Holden
Two for the Road (1967) - Albert Finney
Don't Look Now (1973) - Donald Sutherland
Death Wish (1974) - Charles Bronson
The Towering Inferno (1974) - Paul Newman
Falling in Love Again (1980) - Elliot Gould
Three Men & a Baby (1987) - Tom Selleck
The Belly of an Architect (1987) - Brian Dennehey
Jungle Fever (1991) - Wesley Snipes
Housesitter (1992) - Steve Martin
Fearless (1993) - Jeff Bridges
Sleepless in Seattle (1993) - Tom Hanks
Indecent Proposal (1993) - Woody Harrelson
Intersection (1994) - Richard Gere
One Fine Day (1996) - Michelle Pfeiffer
The Cable Guy (1996) - Matthew Broderick
Heaven (1998) - Martin Donovan
There's Something About Mary (1998) - Matt Dillon (pretends to be an architect/lecturer)
Three to Tango (1999) - Matthew Perry & Oliver Platt
My Life as a House (2001) - Kevin Kline (sort of, his job was a model-maker)
In the Bedroom (2001) - Nick Stahl (student)
Love Actually (2003) - Liam Neeson
Just Like Heaven (2005) - Mark Ruffalo (landscape architect)
The Quiet (2005) - Martin Donovan
White Noise (2005) - Michael Keaton
The Namesake (2006) - Kal Penn
The Lake House (2006)- Keanu Reeves
The Architect (2006) - Anthony LaPaglia
Firewall (2006) - Virginia Madsen
The Last Kiss (2006) - Zach Braff
Breaking & Entering (2006) - Jude Law (landscape architect)
Something's New (2006) - Simon Baker (landscape architect)
You, Me and Dupree (2006) - Matt Dillon
My Super Ex-girlfriend (2006) - Luke Wilson
Click (2006) - Adam Sandler and David Hasselhoff
500 Days of Summer (2009) - Joseph Gordon-Leavitt

Updated after my friend architechnophilia compiled a more complete list, 21 August 2009.

04 August 2009

"Building character" in Seattle and Tacoma

I came up to visit friends in Seattle for a week - when you're unemployed, it doesn't much matter where you go or for how long - and I picked a good weekend to visit. The last week in July / first weekend in August is when Seattle hosts Seafair, which is a celebration of all things related to their many waterways. In the weeks, and even months, before Seafair, there are parades and various events to build anticipation, and at the beginning of the week, several military ships arrive that are opened up to the public for tours. The highlight of the whole shebang is the air shows that take place over the weekend, interspersed with hydroplane boat races. Most of these photos are on my camera, so I'll need to post them later, but here are some pictures from Seafair and my other excursions to hold you over.

1. I brought my bike up here with me and I'm glad I did as I've had some lovely bike rides around the city. One took me around the top of Lake Union, past GasWorks park, and over a drawbridge into Downtown Seattle.

GasWorks park used to be some sort of industrial park, but they took it and made it into a lovely public park. The infrastructure of the industry that was here still remains.

The route around Lake Union took me past the Westlake marina district, which was full of all sorts of boats and houseboats.

2. Over the weekend, when I wasn't watching planes, I went to Tacoma to visit the Glass Museum. This adventure was worth it simply to sit in the glass-making workshop to see how they make glass. I probably could have sat there for hours.

Gratuituous architectural photo of the outside of the Glass Museum.

Inside the "Hot Shop", where they blow glass. It was, indeed, quite hot, but it was also really cool! (hardee har har)

3. This is the one photo currently available from Seafair. See the Blue Angels streaking across the middle of the photo, just above the boats? Awesome.

4. More gratuitous architecture photos. This is the Chapel of St. Ignatius, designed by Steven Holl. It's nice. That's about all I can muster right now, as dinner awaits me. More later.

5. Last but not least... I mentioned I brought my bike with me, and this allowed me the opportunity to take a long bike ride today on Seattle's famous Burke-Gilman trail. I took frequent stops because I got distracted, both by the need to hydrate and by the need to look at the lovely houses along the edge of Lake Washington, on the eastern side of the trail where I rode. I found this house right after I turned around in the middle of my 21-mile trip. Shortly after I took this picture, I took a rather nasty spill on a rough edge of the trail that kind of snunk up on me. I was lucky in that I just landed on one knee and bruised the inside of the other. I got up, made a tourniquet for the bloody knee, shook it off, and rode another 7.5 miles. I call these types of incidents - and the subsequent scars - "building character". I am sharing with you the photo of the house I saw but not the picture of my battered knee, because it's gross.

This house is obviously designed, but not lived in, by an architect.

Back to Portland tomorrow!