Archive for December, 2009


December 30, 2009

Yesterday, for the second time in a couple of weeks, I abandoned my wheels on the side of the road due to poor weather conditions in Portland. The first time I was driving home in the upper elevations of the SW Portland hills on a quiet, cold Saturday night. This time I was trying to make my way home from work quickly during a Tuesday rush hour, minutes after realizing that the un-forecast snow that had been falling relentlessly for an hour was really starting to stick.

Because I have been fighting a nasty cold/flu this week and have had no energy, I drove to work when I normally would have taken a fifteen-minute ride on the 58 TriMet bus to downtown. When I peered out of a 20th floor window about 4pm and saw Salmon Street starting to turn white, I figured I might have just enough time to get home before trouble started. I knew within a couple of minutes of pulling out of the parking garage that I was not going to make it home in my car.

The first hint was the gridlocked traffic I was immediately stuck in. (Two, three red lights went by with little movement.) The second hint was the spinning front tires every time my foot came near the gas pedal, even on nearly level ground. I knew I had to stop driving within a few blocks before getting on Highway 26 and trying to go up and over the steepest hill in the city, so I pulled over and parked in a 1-hour parking space and set out on foot, figuring the parking ticket and the trip home would still be easier than the nightmare ahead if I kept driving.

I waited an hour for the bus to come by Goose Hollow. It never came. The snow kept falling. And getting deeper. I was coughing, wheezing, sneezing and hating and not paying much attention until I noticed that a BMW I helped a guy push out of a spin had not gone fifteen feet in fifteen minutes.

I walked over to the MAX line, the only thing that seemed to be moving, and took the next train to Beaverton Transit Center without even thinking about buying a ticket. After I had walked over for dinner at a nearby sushi joint I know that was empty because of the storm and waited for another hour, my bus came along and got me most of the way home.

I stayed home from work today with a horrendous all-day coughing fit and hitched a ride downtown to get my car after the snow melted this afternoon. I was happy to find no parking ticket on the windshield. I drove straight home and climbed back in bed to ride out this head funk I’ve got.


I Have a Christmas Tree

December 22, 2009

I went for dinner with my friend J.Po and came home with my first Christmas tree since I don’t know when. All I had to do was pull it out of the box and plug it in and straighten the branches a little. It’s fake and two feet tall but it’s perfect. J’s mom sent one and somehow she ended up with two so she offered the extra one to me.

de Rigueur

December 18, 2009

The previous post mentioned the cafe in the Portland City Building. Many mornings I grab breakfast from another place in the Standard Insurance Building a couple of blocks away. I spend time in the line with this view of my weekday uniform.

Early 20th Century Hybrid Vehicle

December 17, 2009

Portland Goat Cart

This is one of my favorite historic photographs of Portland: a group of people assembled around a public fountain on SW Main Street circa 1910, one of whom is rocking this small cart pulled by four goats. This photo – from that bygone era when all men wore hats and the mere presence of a camera was enough to make the people on the next block take notice – hangs in the Portlandia Cafe in the Portland Building where I frequently have breakfast before work.

Slipped Fell on the Black Ice

December 12, 2009

Black Ice

Driving home from downtown tonight near 8pm I encountered a solid sheet of black ice at the top of the SW hills near Council Crest. When my car started spinning and sliding sideways, I quickly slowed to 10 mph and tried to head back downhill where it wasn’t as cold. I pulled off the road to turn around and realized I wasn’t going forward or back. I had to abandon my car in a pullout next to the road.

When I got back to SW Patton Avenue, taking baby steps to keep from falling on the sheet of ice that coated every surface, a police officer was lighting emergency flares and closing the road in both directions. I continued walking downhill but got to a spot so steep and slick that I could not continue on foot.

Drivers coming up the hill turned around to head back when they saw me sliding down it and clutching the fence posts to keep from falling. I stopped one whose window was down and asked if I could get a lift down the hill out of the danger zone. He gave me a ride back to downtown where I caught the MAX train home.

Kicking Down the Cobblestones

December 11, 2009

I wanted to stretch my legs this morning in the dry 20 degree air before work so I exited the bus a half mile before my regular stop and walked the rest of the way through downtown. I caught this shot of a glass condo tower with stellar views of the city and the Cascade mountains. There have been an awful lot of these concrete and glass structures erected in Portland in the last 10 years, but that’s all stopped now. A dozen or more condos in the Eliot Tower are on the market, some for top dollar.

Judgment Day

December 9, 2009

Clackamas County Circuit Court

Today I had to go to Clackamas County Circuit Court in Oregon City, Oregon to pick up a certified copy of a judgment. It’s the former capital of the Oregon Territory, located at the confluence of the Clackamas and Willamette Rivers; the literal end of the Oregon Trail.

My first surprise was finding several open parking spaces right in front of the court and a parking meter with nearly an hour of remaining time on it. (Portland replaced all of its coin operated parking meters with solar powered, card-reading machines several years ago and free time on the meter is a thing of the past.)

The second surprise occurred when the file I needed was checked out of the records room. Instead of telling me I was out of luck and shouting “Next!” like the clerks in Portland would have done, the Oregon City clerk called three different places in the courthouse to find the file I needed and then sent someone to go get it.

Office Christmas Party

December 5, 2009

Arriving too early for the office Christmas party Friday night, I went to the hotel bar to kill some time. A couple of partners of the firm were there having a drink and invited me over. One asked the other, a guy with a well-known fondness for the finer clothes in life, about his red and green tie.

“It was handmade by virgins on Mount Vesuvius,” he said.

The first partner nodded and turned to me.

I turned my tie over to examine the tag and said, “I think mine was made by wage slaves in Thailand.”