Layered Cake

by Steve, July 11th, 2014

layered cake

Somehow I missed it, but my last post was the 700th post on this blog in 8 years. I don’t do much public writing these days (I’m mainly retired from local politics), but I hope somebody appreciates the pictures.

What is Portland’s most Awesome!-ist Web site?

by Steve, June 19th, 2012

Portland may have a shortage of affordable housing, family wage jobs, diversity, good public schools and trustworthy leadership, but there is one thing in ample supply: enthusiasm about how great Portland is. There are any number of white people with blogs who want to tell you all about it!

So, herewith is our list of Portland’s Top Ten Most Awesome!est Web Sites! (As measured by Google hits on the word “awesome.” See, Portland also seems to have a shortage of thesauri.)*

Number 10: Byron Beck is beyond Awesome! (and he probably owns a thesaurus); consequently he barely tips the meter with 203 Awesome!s.

Number 9: Food Carts Portland suffers an unexpected dearth of Awesome!ness with only 283 Awesome!s. (We think this might be a technical problem with Google.) This site is self-described as “an ode to Portland’s food carts,” with a focus on the “positive,” though “we will always be honest in my findings.” (We try to be honest with my findings, too, even when they don’t support our preconceived notions.)

Number 8: You wouldn’t expect grouchy megalomaniac blogger BoJack to score high on the Awesome! scale, but you might be surprised. Maybe it’s by sheer volume, but in his approximately 36 years of tossing out red meat for libertarian gubmint haters, he and his followers managed a respectable 526 Awesome!s. (There used to be a blog called “Portland’s Future Awesome!” that was a direct response to BoJack’s crankiness, but I think they ran out of exclamation points and had to shut down!)

Number 7: Willamette Week scores a middling 663 Awesome! points.

Number 6: The shameless political bottom feeders at Blue Oregon clock in with 807 on the Awesome! scale. You might think it would be higher, what with their shilling for paid clients and all. But then they try so hard to be taken seriously. (Erstwhile wannabe BO competitor Loaded Orygun shut down and nobody noticed, so we can’t even do a query there.)

Number 5: Silicon Florist is a continual gush about how cool the Web and mobile app startup scene is in Portland (never mind the thousands of engineers working at Intel and Tektronix and the like in the actual Silicon Forest), so you’d think they’d score higher than 853 Awesome!s.

Number 4: Urban Honking, the Portland blog nobody ever heard of that once hosted a lame sycophantic blog nobody read called Portland’s Future Awesome!, takes it to the next level with 2,500 Awesome! points.

Number 3: The party rockers at PDX Pipeline up the Awesome! with 5020.

Number 2: The alt weekly Portland Mercury serves the hipster demographic, so it’s hard to know what to expect. On the one hand, they try to come off as jaded. But they also like to appear ironic. Despite that, they’re some of the biggest suckers when it comes to gentrification polices shrouded in the Awesome!ness of sustainability, bikes, pop music, fashion, public nudity or gayness (not that there’s anything wrong with that). The results? A whole next next level with 27,000 on the Awesome! scale!

But what’s the singular, most incredibly Awesome!est Web site on the scene?

Portland, I give you the inspiration for this whole ridiculous Awesome! exercise…

Number 1: Bike Portland, with an Awesome! 52,500 Awesome! points. How can Bike Portland beat the closest contender by a nearly two-to-one margin of Awesome!? We don’t know… Maybe because everything is Awesome! when your majority white male demographic wields out-sized policy influence at City Hall. (Now listen, take it easy, I’ve been a white male Portland metro bike commuter since I moved here in 1989.)

Disclaimer: This study is non-scientific. Actual Awesome!ness may vary. Some Awesome! sites we’ve never heard of were probably omitted. Our own Portland blog, which nobody reads, was never even in the running, with a mere 52 on the Awesome! scale (not counting this post, which still wouldn’t put us in the running). The only people who will read this post are my wife and people with Google alerts set up for mentions of their Awesome! Web sites. Yeah, that’s right, I’m looking at you.

The years just fly by

by Steve, February 8th, 2012

techThe wife and I have been at this Internet publishing thing for quite a while. Fourteen years, to be exact, since we experimented with a Web-based literary arts magazine called the LuLu Revue in 1998.

More Hockey Less War, which turned six-years-young this month, is one of our more recent endeavors. Wacky Mommy was the first fully-featured blog hosted on our own servers, going live seven years ago this month. We also ran an experiment in citizen journalism with PPS Equity from 2008-2010.

I started ranting from the left with our first “Wacky” domain, Wacky Monkey, in 1999. I also developed (for hire) a Web-only vintage clothing store in 1999, and developed and hosted various political and public service Web sites throughout the aughts.

As we enter the twenty-teens, we’ve counter-intuitively stepped into the realm of book publishing, both e-book and paperback. Yes, despite our mad tech skills, we’re bibliophiles at heart, and we’re working on tools to take advantage of (and help define the direction of) this disruptive phase of publishing.

We’ve consolidated all of our publishing endeavors — Web, books and soon music — under the imprint of New Deal Media. We’ve got other things we’re dealing with (family life, working for a paycheck), so this publishing thing is (so far) a side project (or, more accurately, a series of side projects). I can’t wait to see what the next 14 years bring!

The Slow Blog Manifesto

by Steve, August 15th, 2011

From Todd Sieling’s Slow Blog, republished under a Creative Commons license (see below).

1

Slow Blogging is a rejection of immediacy. It is an affirmation that not all things worth reading are written quickly, and that many thoughts are best served after being fully baked and worded in an even temperament.

2

Slow Blogging is speaking like it matters, like the pixels that give your words form are precious and rare. It is a willingness to let current events pass without comment. It is deliberate in its pace, breaking its unhurried stride for nothing short of true emergency. And perhaps not even then, for slow is not the speed of most emergencies, and places where beloved, reassuring speed rules the day will serve us best at those times.

3

Slow Blogging is a reversal of the disintegration into the one-liners and cutting turns of phrase that are often the early lives of our best ideas. Its a process in which flashes of thought shine and then fade to take their place in the background as part of something larger. Slow Blogging does not write thoughts onto the ethereal and eternal parchment before they provide an enduring worth in the shape of our ideas over time.

4

Slow Blogging is a willingness to remain silent amid the daily outrages and ecstasies that fill nothing more than single moments in time, switching between banality, crushing heartbreak and end-of-the-world psychotic glee in the mere space between headlines. The thing you wished you said in the moment last week can be said next month, or next year, and you’ll only look all the smarter.

5

Slow Blogging is a response to and a rejection of Pagerank. Pagerank, the ugly-beautiful monster that sits behind the many folded curtains of Google, deciding the question of authority and relevance to your searches. Blog early, blog often, and Google will reward you. Condition your creative self to the secret frequency, and find yourself adored by Google; you will appear where everybody looks – in the first few pages of results. Follow your own pace and find your works never found; refuse Pagerank its favours and your work is pulled as if by riptide into the deep waters of undifferentiated results. Its twisted idea of the common good has made Pagerank a terrifying enemy of the commons, setting a pace that forbids the reflection that is necessary to move past the day to day and into legacy.

6

Slow Blogging is the re-establishment of the machine as the agent of human expression, rather than its whip and container. It’s the voluntary halting of the light-speed hamster wheel dictated in rules of highly effective blogging. It is an imposition of asynchronous temporalities, where we do not type faster to keep up with the computer, where the speed of retrieval does not necessitate the same pace of consumption, where good and bad works are created in their own time.

 
Creative Commons License
Slow Blog Manifesto by Todd Sieling is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 Canada License.
Based on a work at toddsieling.com.

 

Some answers to questions you may have

by Steve, August 7th, 2011

Looking at the server logs, I see you have some questions… and I got answers!

Is Portland passive aggressive?

Why yes, it is.

What do you love about Portland?

Many things.

Do you have any cartoons about gay marriage?

I linked to a bunch of cartoons back in 2007, when Oregon passed its domestic partner law. (This has been a long-standing prime driver of traffic to this site, believe it or not.)

Are there hockey stores in Portland?

Northwest Skate Authority has a pro shop at Sherwood Ice Arena and one at the Winterhawks Skating Center. Decent selection (for a small shop), good prices and great service.

Are there hockey bars in Portland?

Claudia’s Sports Pub is rumored to be a decent place to catch a game. I’ve never been there, though.

Is Portland mayoral candidate Eileen Brady anti-union?

I don’t know, but her hubby sure was back in the 90s. And so far, Portland’s credulous scrivener corps hasn’t bothered to ask her about it much.

Are employees at Brady’s New Seasons stores union?

Nope.

Did Paul Newman do his own skating in Slapshot?

Yes he did, at least according to the commentary by the Hansen brothers on the DVD.

Where are good seats at Portland’s Memorial Coliseum?

I’ve always liked section 69, row H for hockey. It’s second tier, center ice. I’ve also enjoyed sitting in the Hosers’ section in the end above the goal where the Hawks shoot twice. But the place has great sight lines all around.

Is Oregonian reporter Bryan Denson a stupid fucking credulous hack?

Dan Savage sure thinks so, and I couldn’t resist putting a link to his criticism on the front page of the Oregonian Web site. (I don’t see any queries in the logs like “Is the Oregonian a useless dinosaur of an establishment rag that can’t figure out how to operate in the new media world?” but the answer is, of course, an emphatic “Yes!!”)

And finally, the number one search that brings people to this site lately:

Do you have a Portland ZIP code map?

Well, sort of. I’ve got one I scanned out of a phone book several years back, then color coded to show the shameful maldistribution of educational investment in Portland. You’ll have better luck finding a ZIP at the US Postal Service site. Funny that this post still brings visitors, as it was the post that launched my brief but intense career as a pundit, citizen journalist, and community activist in Portland Public Schools.

The local Buddha on a blog anniversary

by Steve, February 6th, 2011

The giant Asurindarahu wanted to see the Buddha, but was reluctant to bow before him. The Buddha, while lying down, presented himself as much larger than the giant. He then showed him the realm of heaven with heavenly figures all larger than the giant. After all this, Asurindarahu, the giant, was humbled, and made his obeisance to the Buddha before leaving.

This month marks the 5th anniversary of this blog, and the sixth anniversary of Wacky Mommy. We started Internet publishing back in 1997 with a little-known literary arts magazine, before anybody had heard of “blogs” and when Mark Zuckerberg was 12 years old. Around 1999, we started another site that morphed into something blog-like after veering through a number of different styles, and in 2005, when blogs were just taking hold, we started writing and hosting our own. In 2008, we started an influential public policy news and opinion site which we ran for two years in our spare time.

Now that Zuckerberg owns the Internet and all your personal data, to be sold on the free market to advertisers, blog traffic is way off. Many, many people don’t venture outside of the walled garden of Facebook… unless there is a link posted there.

Who remembers RSS feeds and readers? (I do!)

The thing is, this technology still works great, and there is great potential yet to be realized. We shelved our New Media networked journalism meta project almost a year ago, but now we’re thinking of dusting it off.

Now, here I go to link this post on Facebook.

Fun with machine translation

by Steve, September 10th, 2010

meWhen I wrote about Bob Dylan’s concert in Troutdale, Ore., I got an unexpected link from a Dylan fan site… Bam! Our server got the most hits in one day since the days we used to write about stupid stripedy clothes-wearing white people and their penchant for trying to start charter schools rather than send their precious spawn to school with poor, black and/or Spanish speaking kids.

Anyway, that was interesting, but also interesting was when a Japanese Dylan fan site picked up my post and excerpted it in Japanese. I don’t speak Japanese, so I’ll assume the person who translated it did a decent job, and isn’t responsible for the hilarious machine translation back to the English:

It Is not You, Babe
This man, funny shit.

Come on people rose in Mellencamp started playing. We were just like my DMZ. Mellencamp while playing, but we were sitting, but started to stand in front of you. The screaming started throwing ice cubes on your back then. hit lesbian couples wearing torn chunks of ice that had preceded. they are whining because people are standing before. I I thought it would sit for two more songs about Sume, she would not. “Hey! Wine T-shirt there! Sit!! (poweredbyfinewine of youth shirts)” … the voice of one another Gatchiritaipu man …. next thing you are, “Sit down!” he said.

Mellencamp looks at his wife “feel good” he said. Does your wife is hot Mellencamp?

I’m not a rock critic. But let me say it ?Ere “JustLikeaWoman” were floating in tears in her eyes. The encore was two songs not good, great. We drive back to Beaverton, sober and happy.

I’m alive

by Steve, April 17th, 2010

…and so is the blog server! Been moving house, so haven’t had time to update things around here. I shut down my other blog, so I prolly oughta update this one every now and again.

Here’s what it looks like around here in the morning:
Sunrise over the Tualatin Mountains

Here’s what’s on my mind instead of school politics: apple blossoms
Apple blossom time
…and Trillium (the flower, not the charter school… snort!).
Trillium

Reinventing the blog

by Steve, December 21st, 2009

I started this blog nearly four years ago at the urging of my lovely wife.

I’ve never been a consistent blogger. At first, I obsessed on national and international politics, then took a local turn with Portland school politics. That blew up, so I put it on its own blog, which has since taken on a life of its own. I can’t even keep up with it myself some weeks.

Now, I hardly blog here at all. I’ve considered just mothballing it for a while, but Wacky Mommy says I must continue. Maybe a domestic blog? I’ve got mad vegetarian kitchen skillz, and I’m an organic gardener from before anybody had heard of such things. (Yawn. No so into that angle.)

She also said I should do a dad blog, but again, yawn. It’s so done. I’m a nerd by day, but tech blogs seriously bore the shit out of me. I like taking photos, but I’m no pro… I follow local politics, but I’m about ready to move the hell out to the country and paint my mailbox blue.

I like hockey, but I don’t actually follow hockey, so I’m a terrible sports blogger. I’ve got some new media ideas I’m pursuing, but I can’t talk about that just yet.

So… It will continue to be quiet around here for a while. Here’s to a happy solstice, a merry christmas, and a happy new year.

So that’s what I’ve been doing…

by Steve, July 1st, 2009

me…beat blogging!

Two and a half years ago, I started ranting on this site about the gross educational inequities in Portland’s public schools. This eventually got the attention of the local mainstream media and the greater school district community. I didn’t set out with a mission, other than just speaking my mind.

Pretty soon all I wrote about here was schools, schools, schools. One day, while writing yet another blog post about schools, my daughter asked me, “How come you only write about school politics on your hockey blog?” “Good question!” I said, and started another blog all about schools.

Why? Because I can (my day job is “professional nerd”).

Eventually, PPS Equity started taking on the look of a… what? Online magazine? I settled on calling it a “new media publication.” I even came up with a mission statement: “to inform, advocate and organize, with a goal of equal educational opportunity for all students in Portland Public Schools, regardless of their address, their parent’s wealth, or their race.” Readership climbed steadily, with around 20% of visits consistently coming directly from school district computers.

Since I host my blogs on a server that I own, I decided to open up my platform to others working for the common good.

That’s it, I thought, I’m doing “new media publishing!” It’s got a nice ring to it.

But I’m also doing some kind of journalism, and that’s where it gets tricky. I have a great deal of respect for professional journalists, and a healthy disdain of bloggers who pick up the latest news reports, toss off 500 words of commentary, and call themselves “citizen journalists” or some such. The point being that they are leeching off of the professionals. The story doesn’t run if somebody doesn’t report it in the first place. That’s what journalists — a.k.a. reporters — do.

When I wrote for Portland Metblogs (moribund since last February), I floated the idea of doing citizen journalism there, which didn’t go over well with a couple other contributors who couldn’t accept that writing from a point of view does not disqualify one as a journalist.

When I was invited to be on a panel about blogging at a conference for professional journalists and journalism students last fall, I had a little trepidation about being chewed up and spit out. (It was a very friendly crowd, as it turned out.) The two other bloggers on the panel were very clear about considering themselves journalists, but I made a point of identifying myself as a community activist, not a journalist.

But… the kind of writing — and reporting — that I do is outside of the usual realm activism. I actually do reporting, is the thing, at the same time I’m doing advocacy and organizing. “New media publishing” captures the big picture of what it means to run a community blog, but the actual beat reporting I do is, in fact, journalism.

Which all became clear to me the other day when BeatBlogging.org, a project affiliated with New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, gave me a nice shout-out on their Leaderboard, which they describe as “a list of the most innovative beat reporters in the world.”

Wha….? You’ve got to be kidding me! (Seriously, I’m floored over here!)

Their summary of my work on PPS Equity highlights the combination of advocacy and journalism. “…[I]t is starting to seem like good beatbloggers — especially education ones — mix in a bit of advocacy with their journalism. It’s not that they are biased, but rather that they care to see change,” writes Patrick Thornton, editor of BeatBlogging.org.

I poked around their site… man, great stuff. It’s all about “how journalists can use social networks, blogs and other Web tools to improve beat reporting.” I’ve only scratched the surface, but I’ve already found great information that I’ll be trying to incorporate into my work at PPS Equity going forward, like how in the hell to use Twitter effectively. (Sadly, I also found out that BeatBlogging.org is losing its funding. Damn, talk about bad timing!)

Most of all, I’m glad to have a name for what it is that I’ve been doing: beat blogging. It’s not at all what I set out to do, but here I am doing it. One of these days, I’ll have to figure out how to monetize it so I can quit my day job.