Growing up in the burbs

by Steve, May 28th, 2012

bee with wild rose

by Steve, May 28th, 2012

Ribbit

by Steve, May 20th, 2012

Stupid, stupid Oregonian

by Steve, May 17th, 2012

You know I’ve repeatedly dinged The Oregonian for failing to “get it” with new media. Like that time back in 2009 when they were experimenting with Reddit (right about the time the rest of the world was big time on Twitter and Facebook) and everybody got excited because they could get their links on the front page of the local daily’s Web site.

All the SEO morons were loving it, because they could drive a ridiculous amount of traffic to their clients’ sites really fast. Many people clicking through links on the Oregonian Web site didn’t even realize they were going to third-party content, as evidenced by this comment on a post I wrote about buying a new car (for another crappy outfit that didn’t really get new media).

Sure, it was juvenile, but when I punked The Oregonian (and their hack reporter Bryan Denson), there was a point to it. We also had fun putting other links on the Oregonian’s front page under the heading “Today’s hottest links,” like “No Arguing With Assclowns On The Internet Day” (Nancy’s brainchild) and “Oregonian: a Day Late and a Dollar Short”.

(Reddit, by the way, is owned by Advance Publications, which also owns The Oregonian and its ugly Web step-sibbling, OregonLive. No wonder it sucks so hard.)

Some time in the past few years (I don’t know, I don’t bother with their clunky Web site much), they got hip with the Twitter program. I noticed this yesterday when checking election results.

Take a closer look at that Twitter feed:

Heh heh heh. Ohhh…. You fracture me, Oregonian.

Why Beaverton should support BSD

by Steve, May 16th, 2012

schoolsWith the independent Beaverton School District facing cuts of 344 teachers and five school days, budget committee member Susan Greenberg suggested asking the City of Beaverton to help out.

It’s a tough time to be asking for money from anybody, but here’s why Beaverton should say yes.

Beaverton’s recently approved urban renewal district will siphon $150 million (plus interest) of property tax revenue away from schools, county services, parks and public safety. About 40% of that –$60 million — would otherwise go to education, but will instead go to benefit businesses in the downtown core of Beaverton.

(Through a complex quirk in Oregon’s broken school funding system, property tax revenue collected on behalf of local school districts is remitted to the state’s central education fund, then doled back to local districts on a per-student basis. This was the logic the school district used when approving the UR district; most of the revenue loss is spread out across the entire state. But this doesn’t change the fact that the city of Beaverton is diverting some $60 million of Oregon education money for the benefit of a small number of business owners.)

The city of Portland has used and abused urban renewal extensively over many years, but they have also helped out the school districts in Portland from time to time. Most recently, Portland struck a deal to pump some $5 million into Portland Public Schools to stave off cuts there.

Beaverton School District is facing much deeper cuts than Portland because they’ve used reserves to stave them off longer. Obviously the city of Beaverton isn’t going to pony up $37 million. But they could at least offer something — anything — to help lessen the blow to our children. Beaverton schools are, after all, the main reason families move to Beaverton (and not, say, Portland proper, or Gresham). They’re not moving here for the “downtown core,” I can assure you of that, and a $150 million facelift there isn’t going to change that.

So how about it, Denny Doyle and crew? A little help?

Mother’s Day Menus

by Steve, May 13th, 2012
Asparagus
Photo by Jonathon Moreau

Brunch: Ricotta, lemon and poppy seed pancakes. Dinner: “all appetizers,” per the Nancy’s request. Warm potato salad with radishes, parsley and green onions from the garden, roasted asparagus from the farmer’s market, hummus, and carrot sticks.

The pancake recipe is a special one from Betsy Devine, via my girlfriend Marfa. These are our “special occasion” pancakes, and they’re worth the little bit of extra effort (separating and whipping egg whites, etc.).

 

Quick hummus

I whipped up a batch of hummus using a can of garbanzo beans and the juice from the lemon whose zest I stole for the pancakes. I used to be uptight about cooking from cans, but when you’re in a hurry (and don’t have any beans in the freezer, or don’t have time to thaw them), why not?

Ingredients

    one can garbanzo beans
    1/2 cup tahini
    3 or 4 cloves garlic
    Juice of two lemons
    a couple glugs of olive oil
    salt to taste
    dash of cumin
    pinch of oregano
    paprika to garnish

Method

Dump everything except the paprika into the blender and blend till smooth. Serve garnished with a puddle of olive oil and a sprinkle of paprika. Great for dipping veggies, bread or crackers. (And complete protein — legume + grain!)

 

Warm potato salad

The potato salad I winged with what we had on hand and in the garden and a sack of new potatoes from the pantry.

Ingredients

    3 lbs. baby red potatoes, quartered
    1 small bunch radishes, chopped
    3 scallions, sliced< 1 handful parsley, chopped
    1 stalk celery, chopped
    1 tsp. Mustard seeds
    1/4 cup olive oil
    1/4 cup rice vinegar
    Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Boil potatoes until they are al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain and let cool a bit. Put potatoes in a large bowl and pour oil and vinegar over them, then mix with salt, pepper and mustard seeds. Add radishes, parsley, celery and scallions. Serve warm; refrigerate leftovers.

 

Roasted asparagus

Nancy got us started on roasting asparagus years ago, and it’s pretty much the only way we do it now. It’s super easy, and super tasty.

Ingredients

    1 bunch slender asparagus (I don’t like it bigger than a pencil)
    Olive oil
    Balsamic vinegar
    Coarse salt

Method

Preheat oven to 425 (or convection oven to 400). Snap ends off asparagus, and arrange in a single layer on a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with salt. Roast until the tips are starting to caramelize, turning once or twice. Serve immediately, or put them in the fridge and serve chilled later.

 

With special thanks to the lovely farmers at Beaverton Farmer’s Market, which just opened yesterday, and, most of all, with great appreciation to a great mom and a real artist.

Happy Mother’s Day!

by Steve, May 13th, 2012

The mom of the house requested a morning walk, and off we went to see if the ducklings had hatched. They had!
Mothers' Day Ducklings
The bull frogs were out, too, making our backyard Chorus Frogs seem tiny by comparison.
Bull Frog
Bull Frog
The beavers, they have been busy.
Beaver Stump
Busy Beavers
They keep this up, we’re going to have to rename Nutriaville to “Beaverville” or “Beaverton” or something.

The roses never stop blooming around here.
Mothers' Day Rose
And the poppies are in full bloom.
Mothers' Day Poppy
Happy Mother’s Day to all!

The problem(s) with Idol

by Steve, May 11th, 2012

musicLook, I’m not half the writer NYMag.com/Vulture.com’s Dave Holmes is, so if you really want the low down on American Idol, check his recaps. Other than his crush on Philip Philips and his love of Elise Testone (she who could bear no criticism), I pretty much agree with him right down the line. (And what the hell happened to MTV’s Jim Cantiello?)

But I’ve got a few comments.

First, I finally figured who Steven Tyler (STyler in our house) looks like: that aging hippie woman at the local co-op, who spends hours a week shopping and socializing with the staff and wants to tell the young produce guy all about her wild days on the commune or her latest colonic recipe. I mean, he looks exactly like that woman. (I spent the better part of 10 years working produce at natural food stores, so I speak as an authority on this.)

Second, let me just say that Jimmy Iovine is the refreshing voice of truth in contrast to all the fluffy nonsense spouted by the judges. STyler, JLo and Randy Jackson seem so hopped up on goof balls all the time, it’s a shock — a shock! — when they say something critical, and even more of a shock when their criticism is actually accurate.

I don’t always agree with Jimmy’s analysis, but he’s the pro, with real actual insight into what makes an artist a star. He criticized 16-year-old phenom Jessica Sanchez for “pulling the rabbit out of the hat” too much (i.e. overusing her growl she started developing at the age of 7), but went on to reveal that she’s basically already got a contract with his Interscope label (along with fellow top-three contenders Joshua Ledet and Philip Philips).

So Jimmy, speaking of leaving the rabbit in the hat, what’s the deal with signing the top three to Interscope contracts when the grand prize of this whole contest is… a contract with Interscope?

At this point you may be asking yourself: What the hell is Steve doing paying all this attention to American Idol? Yeah, I’m asking myself that too. In three hours a week, there’s about ten minutes of entertainment, the rest being fluffed-up group numbers, ginned-up reality TV drama, embedded Coke and Ford ads, and listless (and/or overwrought) performances by past Idol losers (and a couple winners).

But I’m funny that way. If I’ve committed to half an hour of a crappy film, I’m in it to the end. We’re a few weeks from the Idol finale (featuring that aging hippie lady and her rock band Aerosmith, and probably not Mark Anthony and Sheila E., darn it), so I can’t quit now. We’re not going to the live show this year, however.

You gotta draw the line somewhere.

Meanwhile, at the haunted rink

by Steve, May 9th, 2012

This is what happens when the new ice rink management gets a liquor license… no more BYOB for beer league! It’s $3 a bottle at the snack bar, boys!

After pickup hockey today, I took a shower and was toweling off with my back to the shower. I was alone in the locker room. The shower turned back on suddenly. Pretty sure it’s just the crappy plumbing at the old dump, but it kind of freaked me out a little. Maybe it was a ghost of beer leagues past, coming back to haunt the joint.

Now that they’re raking it in with the beer sales, maybe they can rehab the showers. Just sayin.

Tulip monster

by Steve, May 8th, 2012