Snow in the holler

by Steve, December 19th, 2021

surprise, something new here

snow in the holler

The 2020 wind and fire and smoke storm

by Steve, September 19th, 2020

Sunday, Sept 7

Beautiful day, and then the bone-dry east winds started, bringing the first significant smoke to the holler. We closed up the house and listened to the wind howl all night, glad we took out the killer maple hanging over our bedrooms earlier in the summer. Overnight, fires popped up all over the west slope of the Oregon Cascades and in the Siskiyous. It was still clear enough to walk the next day, but the winds were still howling.

Monday, Sept 8

On what would be my last walk for almost two weeks, I surveyed the damage from the still howling wind.

My meditation bench got hit, but was undamaged.

Made it to the top of Gabbert Butte and back, my usual 2 mile out and back. At the saddle, major blowdown and a damaged interpretive sign.

Back home, I clear my bench and sit until the creaking trees in the persistent wind convince me to go inside and stay there.

Tuesday Sept 9 – Wednesday Sept 17

Smokier and smokier every day, to the point that the AQI is off the charts, above “hazzardous.” While the east winds have stopped bringing in new smoke, a thermal inversion traps the existing smoke in the valley. We are socked in with smoke and fog. There are predictions that a weak offshore low pressure system will push in a break the inversion in a couple days, but the inversion persists. This couple days would ultimately turn into more than a week. Thermal inversions and their lifting are notoriously hard to predict. We run the furnace blower continuously. We don’t run bathroom or kitchen exhaust fans to avoid drawing in outside air. I swap our furnace filter every two days.

I’m out of fresh filters by Sunday, and nobody has stock locally. Amazon can’t get them to me until the following Saturday, Lowe’s Friday. I order them anyway, and keep my dirty filter in case the clean one gets dirtier. Maybe I can vacuum it or something. Robb offers to fed ex me some for CR.

I become intimately familiar with, and our nearest monitoring station consistently shows “hazardous” air quality for particulate matter.

Thursday, Sept 17

That offshore low finally looks to be breaking through. By late afternoon there are thunderstorms marching north up the coast range. Our air quality starts to gradually improve. We celebrate being upgraded to “Very Unhealthy” from “Hazardous” before bed.

We are awakened at 3:30 a.m. by a monster thunderstorm, like the kind I remember growing up in Iowa and Colorado. Bright flashes and booms all around and buckets of rain.

Friday, Sept 18

The thunder has passed, but it’s still raining in the morning. The air quality is still “Very Unhealthy,” but it starts to improve rapidly in spite of the weather service maintaining an air quality alert into Saturday. More rain moves in around 3:30, and the air quality starts to rapidly improve. Then the sun breaks, and the angel’s trumpets sound.

The new furnace filters arrive, and I swap in a new one and run it for a while. It’s still smokey outside, even if radically better than just hours earlier.

By bed time, the air quality has suddenly cleared. We open the house up for the first time. It smells wet and green outside. We sleep like babies and wake up to the sound of birds.

Saturday, Sept 19

I walk, my usual two-mile out-and-back. It’s suddenly fall.

The most dramatic end of summer I can recall. The rains have mostly stopped, and it’s supposed to clear up overnight, and be back to seasonal 70s with sun.

Steve’s guide to hiking in the woods

by Steve, September 19th, 2020

Chapter 1

Shut the fuck up.


Chili af

by Steve, March 15th, 2020

What even is chili? In the US it’s hamburger, bean and tomato soup, seasoned with cumin and a hint of “chili powder,” which is usually dried red chili mixed with cumin and dried onion and garlic. Hey, it’s pretty good! But is it chile?

In Latin America, a chile is a hot pepper, and it is prepared in countless ways, often as a sauce (salsa). My old friend S in Cuernavaca showed me how she made two kinds of sauce, one red and dry roasted, the other green and boiled.

This weekend I made chile (the dry roasted red kind) and mixed it with beans. I’ll call the result “chili beans” because it’s been chilly a.f. in Portland this weekend, and also, I’m a gringo. Here’s the basic recipe:


  • 5 oz New Mexico chili pods (any kind will do! it’s just everybody says New Mexico are best, yada yada yada)
  • 2 onions
  • 1 bulb garlic (or more! no such thing as too much)
  • 4 cans beans (yeah, I’ve been using canned beans, don’t judge, cook your own if you want, I used red and black this time)
  • cumin
  • oregano
  • salt
  • olive oil
  • Recommended for serving: fresh cilantro, chopped; sour cream/crema (a.k.a. “Mexican cream” which is closer to crème fraiche); cotija/queso seco cheese, crumbled; lime wedges; fresh corn tortillas


Red chili sauce / salsa roja

Preheat oven to 350F. Put a pot of water on to boil.

Snap or cut the stems off the chilis. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet and dry roast a few minutes until they start to get fragrant. Alternate method: heat a cast iron skillet and dry roast them in that.

Put the roasted chilis into a large mixing bowl and cover with boiling water. Cover and let soak for an hour or more. Reserve the water; you’ll need it later for two steps.

Take half an onion and cut it into quarters. Peel half your garlic. Dry roast these in a hot cast iron skillet until they are browned.

Put all your chilis and the roasted garlic and onion in a blender with salt, cumin and oregano. (How much cumin and oregano? I never measure, sorry! But a good bit of cumin and a little less oregano? You’re gonna have to wing it.)

Add a few ladles of the chili soaking water and blend until smooth. Keep adding water until you get a nice liquid consistency. This can be super thick, or super runny, depending on how you plan to use it. It can also be smoother or chunkier, like if you want to make table salsa. Since I’m going to cook this with beans, I make it more on the liquid side.

Give it a taste and add more salt and cumin/oregano if you think it needs it.

Thassit! You’ve made salsa roja! Imagine the variations you can come up with.

Da Beans

Heat olive oil with cumin and salt (how much cumin? again, uh… a good bit?) in a cast iron skillet. Chop one onion (this should leave half an onion for garnish). Sautée/caramalize. Mince the rest of your garlic. Add to the sautée once the onions have started caramelizing.

Throw this all in the pot with your beans, then mix in your chili sauce. Add some of the chili soaking water to thin it out till it’s a good bit thinner than you want (it’ll thicken up). Bring it to a simmer and let it cook for, I dunno, half an hour to an hour?

Voila! Steve’s Chili A.F.


Serve with a dollop of sour cream or crema, chopped onions, some fresh cilantro and queso seco crumbles. Garnish with a lime wedge. Super tasty with some heated up corn tortillas. Enjoy!

2019, my musical year in review

by Steve, December 23rd, 2019

Dear diary and clever internet spies, This year I: Learned to play the bass (again, still, different). Quit one band, started another. Recorded a #YOLO Christmas EP in a week, mastered it and got it on the streaming services just in time for Christmas (see above). Marked 30 years in Oregon as of November.

When I moved to Oregon in 1989, I was playing my Fender basses in the jam band I moved here with. In Iowa City, I had borrowed Mr. Y’s Ampeg Baby bass. I never found out where he got it, but his wife was Cuban, and those things were popular on the island and in NYC, so maybe it was hers. I hadn’t gotten into Afro-Cuban music yet, so I wouldn’t have been interested. I loved playing that upright; I played it on Carmen Miranda on Totem Soul’s 1980s cassette release “What’s it to ya” and on charity gig at Gabe’s. I thought maybe I’d get a real double bass when I got to Oregon.

But the band broke up, and I got back into winds, bought a sax, studied classical on clarinet, learned some jazz, played lead alto sax in a latin band, and never bought that bass.

I took 20 years off from music to raise a family, notwithstanding playing clarinet and handbells with my girl, and leading the handbell combo, playing either electric guitar or bass guitar with my girl on the drums, her bf on guitar, and sometimes A on the keys to accompany the high school handbell choir at the Universalist Social Club and Bumper Sticker Society. Mostly we played slightly outdated pop songs arranged for bells: Katy Perry and Cold Play. Making music with your kid is top shelf; I don’t even care if the arrangements are dorky af. I recommend it. It got me reading on bass again (or really for the first time), so that was good.

With the kids older, and with me getting settled into an emptying nest, last year for my B-day I bought myself an double bass (a.k.a. string bass, upright bass, contrabass, bass viol, standup bass, doghouse bass, bass fiddle, bass violin, bull fiddle, etc.). It’s a 1938 Kay, a brand prized for its durability and serviceability. It came with a bow (German, or underhanded), which I’d never used before.

This year I learned how to play the thing. I figured out how to hold it and do some basic bowing from YouTube. Then with the expert guidance of Teacher D., started working through Franz Simandl’s 1881 New Method for the Double Bass (still the standard for classical and jazz fundamentals) and learned some new (to me) approaches to jazz.

I can’t remember when I met Tall T on Craig’s List, I think was early 2019, but we had some fun. He’s an ex-con (he was framed) biker dude with a solid book of originals in a 60s and 70s rock idiom. Not my groove, so it never really clicked. That man is a gem, though, and it gave me the opportunity to work with drummer H, who was the long-time house drummer for the Groundlings in L.A., along with a guy who now tours with Brian Wilson and got us comps to his show at the schnitz with The Zombies opening. So, that put me like one or two degrees of separation from the friggin Beach Boys? Who’d a thunk it. (Which brings us to another 2019 milestone: the the first time I saw a rock star escorted on stage with a walker.)

Yeah, rock and roll is getting old (honestly I was done with it by the 90s) and I don’t know what to play on the bass for it. All the stuff I listen to — jazz and Latin, mostly — swings hard. Rock just… doesn’t swing, man. Thudding along with straight eighths on Is and Vs doesn’t light my fire, and I don’t play pentatonic licks so I’m bad at rock bass fills. So it was my good fortune to find Latee Da on Craig’s List. A couple weeks after jamming with Latee, I quit the Tall T band. We hit it off, despite my concerns that she’s going to need a better bassist.

I mean, she’s really good. She’s got pipes for days and can sing anything, and plays piano like a pro. But she’s very down-to-earth about it all, and we like a lot of the same kinds of music. We’re putting together a couple sets of jazz and swinging blues and R&B, and still looking for a drummer. She called a couple weeks ago and said hey, let’s do a Christmas album.

This was the first week of December. In my mind, that’s the time to be releasing a Christmas record, not starting it. But that’s just me being conservative and cynical! Latee says look, we’ll do it in a week, and release it in time for Christmas. Why the hell not?

Latee started sending me tracks the following Tuesday. I learned the songs and figured out bass parts and started recording evenings after work. Last Saturday I spent 14 hours in the studio, mostly on bass. Sunday I woke up with a numb left hand, and recorded final drum tracks. Latee came over, re-recorded some vocals, and we mastered the whole thing and put it up for a day of private previews on SoundCloud. We remastered a couple tracks Tuesday, and got it submitted for streaming Thursday. The following Sunday (yesterday!), two weeks from the start of the project, it was streaming on Spotify and Amazon Music and YouTube.

Of course I hear every mistake and out of tune passage (I play “arco” or bowed bass for half the tracks, and sing lead on one verse of one song, both of which make me cringe a little). In the interest of time, our standard for takes was “can I live with this?” not “is this is the best I can do?” So it’s YOLO release, for me anyway. Latee sounds friggin great on everything. I really enjoy hearing her sing, so it was a pleasure to back her up on this thang!

Anyway, that was a nice cap to a good musical 2019. I’ve been dinking around with digital recording for a couple decades now, and this thing popped me out of some long ruts in my musical road. I feel unstuck! (Thanks Latee! and Teacher D!) Here’s to keeping it rolling into 2020.

Happy New Year, y’all!

That night half the band met a “record producer” in jail

by Steve, October 25th, 2019

(Adapted from a post I made on

I don’t know what made me think of this, but thank you for your indulgence in this longish tale of band hijinks of yore. The story takes place in the late summer and early autumn in a Midwest college town, circa 1989. Names are changed to protect the guilty and their enablers.

After loading out from a successful gig, Bob the rhythm guitarist and Serge the drummer departed in my girlfriend Linda’s Buick station wagon, and promptly ran into a phone pole in the alley behind the club. The cop shop was about a block away, and Officer Friendly soon showed up and hauled Bob in for DUI and Serge for possession (he was holding a little weed). Linda’s car got a little banged up and was towed to the impound lot.

Linda was not pleased, but she’s the one who had agreed to loan her car to Bob in the first place. I was not held responsible, but Linda had words with Bob.

A day or two later, we were hosting a party at the band house out in the country. Bob and Serge had been released on their own recognizance, and they invited a friend they’d met in the hoosegow.

Shawn Stanton was the scion of an oat roasting executive in neighboring Oat City, well known for the cloying odor of burnt oats that sometimes wafted as far south as University City. He showed up early with several sacks of groceries for the party. Also showing up early was our number one groupie Beth-Anne, who was excited to make us all stir fry with the supplies Shawn brought. Bob later wrote a song about Beth-Anne and her penchant for making us all stir fry and sitting in on band meetings and giving Serge advice on how to not get kicked out of the band.

Bob excitedly told the rest of the band how he and Serge had met Shawn in jail, how they got to talking about the band, and that Shawn wanted to produce us and sign us to a recording contract.

The lead guitarist Mike and I raised our eyebrows at this.

“You want to produce us, and you haven’t even heard us?” said Mike. “Sounds fishy.”

“I’m offended that you don’t trust in my ability to describe the band and sell us!” said Bob.

“You want it in writing? Get me a pen and something to write on!” said Shawn, also offended at our lack of faith. At some point he produced one of those business-style check books that’s a three-ring binder, as if to show us he was serious. Between that and the 70 bucks he dropped on food for us, who wouldn’t take him seriously as a record producer?

Anyway, much big talk was made about flying us to New York to re-record the album we’d just recorded but not pressed, yada yada yada. We all got drunk and high on weed and shrooms and god only knows what else, and everybody had a good time eating Shawn’s food and drinking cheap Midwest beer from a keg.

When the keg ran out, I headed up a mission to drive to town to get another. On the way out, we ran into Ray, who was in his van on the road at the end of the driveway.

“What are you doing up here alone, Ray?” I asked.

“Drinkin a beer,” he said. “You want one?”

“Oh, no thanks man,” I said.

“Too bad,” he said, looking down.

I didn’t know what to say. Ray looked up after a bit.

“Where you goin?” he asked.

“Keg’s out; we’re goin into town to get another,” I said.

“You know there’s bad spirits by the river,” said Ray. “You gotta do something about that.”

“What am I supposed to do, Ray?”

“When you get to the bridge, you gotta stop the car, and you gotta stomp out a cigarette on the side of the road,” he said.

“I don’t smoke,” I said.

“Take one of mine.” Ray handed me a pack or Marlboro reds. Ray was dead serious, so I took a smoke from the pack and put it behind my ear.

“Do I have to smoke it?” I asked, handing him back the pack.

“You gotta light it, and you gotta stomp it out,” he said.

“OK,” I said. Ray was not messing around.

I got back into Margot’s car. Margot was Mike’s girlfriend, and she must have been the most sober person at the party who had a car. I explained what I’d agreed to do.

“Oh OK,” she said. “I’ll just pull off before we cross the river, and you can do your thing.” Margot was always game. I gave Ray a wave the tires crunched on the limestone gravel and we pulled away.

The bridge was about a mile down a gravel road, then a quarter mile right on a paved county road. Margo pulled off at the bridge, and I got out of the car, lit the cig, tossed it onto the gravel shoulder and stomped it out. No spirits were observed at that time, but I admit to having been a little spooked. And a little nauseated from lighting the cigarette.

When we returned with a fresh keg from the Kum & Go, Ray was still drinking alone in his van. Shawn was gone. The party was raging and went long into the night. Nobody signed any record contracts, but we had a good time dancing and singing and howling at the full moon.

A few weeks later, Serge was working a dinner shift at his job as a dishwasher in a restaurant owned by Fern, who also owned a crystal shop and practiced the kind of meditation that supposedly can lead to levitation.

Serge had forgotten to show up to court for his possession rap, and Officer Friendly showed up at his workplace to arrest him on a bench warrant.

Fern was not pleased by this, of course. The restaurant had an open kitchen, and Serge’s arrest was quite public.

When Serge got out, Fern told him he was fired from his job as a dishwasher. Not because he was arrested during his shift, mind you.

Fern told Serge he was fired because his seventh chakra was flaring.

The band didn’t fire Serge, flaring chakra be damned. We all kind of liked him, and he had more friends who came to our gigs than anybody else. Maybe that flaring chakra made him play a little busy at times, but it all seemed to fit. All the bohemian college kids and townies danced and danced.

Shawn Stanton disappeared into the riff raff; maybe he went back to Oat City. We never heard from him again. Since we didn’t get that record contract, we went back to plan A, which was to move to the west coast, where we played a few gigs before breaking up and going our separate ways.

Serge got a job laying tile, and he’s still hitting the skins last I heard. Bob still writes good songs. We did some long-distance collabs a few years ago. Mike and I see each other ever few years. Everybody but me went through some form of rehab or got sober at one time or another, and I don’t think anybody ended up doing hard time (unlike the drummer from the band I played with in high school).

Anyway, thanks for your indulgence if you got this far. Bob and Serge, if you find this and remember any of it differently, you’re entitled to your own versions of history.

Rebranding the SUB

by Steve, April 16th, 2019

Hello nobody, what is happening. Hockey? Pens swept in four by the Islanders. Bolts swept in four by the Blue Jackets. I guess I’ll root for Toronto. But that’s not what I logged on to talk about. I’m here to talk about rebranding cheapo imported guitars! Sort of like how I rebranded my Walmart fat bike, I just finished rebranding a Squier by Fender Mini (an imported, miniature version of the iconic Fender Stratocaster) and a Sterling by Music Man S.U.B. Ray 4 (an imported version of the iconic Music Man Stingray).

A Squier Mini and a Sterling by Music Man SUB series Ray 4
A Squier Mini and a Sterling by Music Man SUB series Ray 4, rebranded

With computer-aided manufacturing, these budget-line Indonesian-manufactured instruments have become very cheap at the same time they have become consistent and decent in quality. With these, along with G&L’s Tribute line (also made in Indonesia), you can get the same models as Fender, Music Man and G & L (all makers of guitars designed by Leo Fender and their descendants, by the way) you can get the same models as their American-made counterparts with pretty damn good quality at a fraction of the price. (American models generally have higher end hardware, often, but not always, different pickups, and generally better fit and finish and quality control.)


I ended up with the mini on a trade. I always kind of wanted a mini electric guitar since I saw Howard Leese play one with Heart back in the 80s. now I’ve got one, and it actually looks, plays and sounds amazing (these things retail for $130 new). The SUB Ray retails for $300, and can be found used for $150.


These cheapo guitars sound great, play great, and look great. Except the headstocks. I have a theory, which I’ll get to in a sec, but first fo all let’s just appreciate what I mean when I say the design is egregious. They are one-color (black) silk screen logos. The more expensive big brothers typically have two-color logos, often with one color being metallic. The Squier logo is in the classic Fender script, with “by Fender” in the same font smaller underneath, which is awkward. And then… blank at the rounded end.

Squier Mini, original branding
Squier Mini, original branding

The SUB is even worse. First, the branding on all Music Man instruments has become ridiculously confusing. Modern versions are branded “Ernie Ball Music Man”. The cheap import brand is “Sterling by Music Man.” The Stingray model is called the “S.U.B. Series Ray 4”, but they leave off the Ray 4 part on the headstock. (Current models omit the S.U.B. on the headstock and include Stingray, even though the model is the Ray. Ernie Ball Music Man also has a high-end model called the Sterling, which is totally bonkers.) So from confusing branding comes… confusing graphics.

Sterling by Music Man S.U.B. Series, original branding
Sterling by Music Man S.U.B. Series, original branding

I decided to do tongue-in-cheek versions, based on 70s versions of the Stratocaster and original Stingray.

I did a little research, and came up with a plan. Inkjet decal stock from Amazon, some very fine (00) steel wool, and a can of Rust-Oleum satin clear coat.

First step is to remove the tuners and string trees and tuner hole washers or whatever they’re called, then put a little elbow grease and steel wool into it. It took about five minutes of rubbing to remove the logos on both. They were both satin finish, and both silk-screened. The steel wool doesn’t leave any marks or take off much finish, but just to be sure, I gave it a quick coat of clear coat after removing the original logo.

Sterling headstock in progress
Sterling headstock in progress

Then I designed the logos. I wanted the classic 70s look for both. The original Man Logo is a stylized “M” that forms the legs of two figures playing guitars. I decided to make a play on “Music Man” as “Mountain Man,” and make the guitarists skiers. And instead of “StingRay,” “SteveRay.” Instead of a ® symbol after the brand, I used a backwards “C” (copyleft) symbol.

For the mini strat, I wanted something starting with F, for the iconic Fender F. I somewhat randomly chose “Freeware” (inspired by the copyleft idea on the bass) and “Stevercaster” for the model. I also copped the fender “Original contour body” decal that is common on various strat headstocks.

Decals applied, ready for clear coat
Decals applied, ready for clear coat

Since inkjet ink is water-based, you have to seal the decals with clear coat before applying. I did three coats, and let them dry before cutting and applying to the headstocks. I practiced on the mini strat, and didn’t get the decals in exactly the places I wanted them. I ended up printing multiple pages of the decals because I kept messing them up.

After applying them, I did a couple coats of clear coat over the decals, and then re-assembled the hardware and strings. I think they look pretty good!

rebranded axes
rebranded axes

Some people take issue with making these budget brands look like their more expensive cousins, which I can understand if you’re being deceitful for the purposes of selling. I’m not, obviously, but back to my theory. I think, since these budget lines have gotten so good in terms of look, feel and sound, that the owners of the brands (Fender, Music Man and G & L) insist the budget lines have to appear cheap somehow. So they slap some cheap-ass branding on the headstock, and maybe you can keep some people interested in paying literally seven times the money for a properly branded model.

Stand up, walk out: how to deal with Trumpism

by Steve, May 24th, 2016

When I heard that students at Forest Grove High School walked out last week to protest a racist, Trumpist banner (“Build a Wall”) that was briefly hung in their halls, and that other suburban high schools joined the protest with their own walkouts, I was thrilled.

This is what democracy looks like. My daughter, who attends a high school that is 28% Hispanic, reported that teachers and administrators were generally supportive of students leaving class. I told my kids, if something like this is going on, and you feel strongly about it, get up and walk out no matter what the teachers say. You don’t ask permission to stand up for human rights.

The next day, there were more protests across the metro area, and the local middle school my son attends, which is 20% Hispanic, had some kind of preemptive “protest” led by the (white) administration. An email from the principal described it:

We did have a student walk-out on Friday, the students who participated listened to administrative direction, and were thoughtful and considerate of multiple different viewpoints. The students were allowed to walk around the property, and not leave campus. The students then entered the cafeteria to participate in a conversation about the proper way to use voice, work within a system, and be an active citizen in the democratic process.

(Emphasis mine.)

Bad grammar aside, this was not a walk-out. And “the proper way to use voice” is offensive bullshit. No oppressive system ever ended because oppressed people politely asked it to stop. There was an organic, spontaneous, metro-wide response to a direct, racist threat against a minority group that makes up a significant portion of my kids’ generation. And my son’s principal’s message is don’t break the rules.

My message to my kids: we, as privileged white people, have an obligation to stand up for and with our Hispanic friends and neighbors when they are faced with this kind of thing. We cannot allow Trumpism to stand unchallenged. And sometimes that means breaking the rules. Grownups have allowed Trumpism to get this far, and Portland’s suburban youth are standing up and walking out in response.

When high school students showed up at the middle school “protest,” somebody (ahem) called the cops. Again, from the middle school principal:

We did have roughly 50 students from another school attempt to gather our students and have them march off campus. None of our students participated and remained in class. The Beaverton Police Department called a lockout for roughly five minutes as the other school students were marching toward [a nearby elementary school], and when one of our schools goes into lock out, the other does, as we are so close. There was never any harm or danger targeted towards [redacted] Middle School or [nearby] Elementary School.

So the message is clear: it’s okay to “protest,” as long as you follow the rules. (Or, put another way: It’s not okay to protest.) According to my son, the principal was “really mad” when some students attempted to join the high school students and march off campus. Also according to my son, actually, we’re all immigrants.

The middle school “protest” debacle notwithstanding, seeing a spontaneous, widespread, multi-day protest erupt gives me hope for our future.

Check the #StandUpFG hash tag on Twitter.

Beach biking the Oregon coast

by Steve, May 2nd, 2016

Long shadow
Here are my tips.

  • The first thing you’re going to need is a fat tire bike. You can spend thousands of dollars on a fancy one, rent one somewhere, or do like I did and buy a cheap department store bike and mod it. Besides fat tires, you want light weight and low gearing (my Land Shark is a 50 pound tank, and I’m kind of a tank too, but I geared it nice and low).
  • Ride like the wind. We get a lot of wind at the Oregon coast, and you want to ride with it at your back as much as possible. Think about it like canoeing. Either ride into the wind (upstream) for the first half of your distance, or ride on paved streets into the wind and then on sand with the tail wind. Or, use two cars. Park one down wind at your finish point. If you’re riding both ways on sand, you really, really want to ride into the wind first. The wind can come from any direction at any time of the year, but it generally blows from the north in the summer and the south in the winter.
  • Know your tides. You want to ride while the tide is going out, on the wet sand that’s been packed down by the surf. Depending on how long I’m planning to ride, I like to leave about two hours before low tide. You can ride when the tide is coming in, but…
  • Be aware of sneaker waves. Know your surf conditions, and always be watching the surf. A sneaker wave can occur any time during the tidal cycle, without warning, and could easily knock you off your bike. At the very best, you’d soak your precious metal in salt water (bad; see below), but even worse, you would die and somebody else would get to ride your bike. Wouldn’t that suck? On high surf days, especially ones with wind, you’ll have more fun if you just stay home, anyway.
  • Keep your bike out of the surf. It’s actually really, really fun to ride in the surf, but it’s really, really bad for your bike. Salt water eats metal and can wear away grease. It also makes sand stick to your drive train. Hose your bike off when you’re finished.
  • Know your sand. Oregon’s sandy beaches range from fine sand to coarse gravel, and everything in between. Finer sand, finer ride. Coarser sand, harder slog. If you’ve got gears, you can handle the loose stuff. But you’ll have an easier cruise on the light tan sand between the surf and the tide line. The coarser sand/gravel is darker brown.The road less traveled
  • Take water. You may not know this, but salt water is not good to drink.
  • Take a bag or something to collect treasures. The biggest agates I find are on beaches not easy walking distance from places you can park a car. I always have a plastic bag strapped to my bike rack, and you can almost always find pretty rocks in my pockets.
  • Take a camera to collect visual treasures. The same beach never looks the same. It changes every day.
  • Be prepared to talk to people, because fat bikes draw a lot of attention. They are less of a novelty than a year ago, but there are still plenty of people who want to stop you and ask questions. If you’re feeling sociable, you will enjoy the opportunity to tell people that yes, those tires really are big and yes, they work pretty good in the sand. If you’re not sociable, get used to smiling and saying the same anyway. We try to uphold that polite Oregonian vibe for our inlander tourists.Rain stopped, and I couldn't keep it in the shed
  • The sand isn’t always good. Beaches change every day, especially in the winter and spring. Our beach has some steep parts, and the flat parts tend to have a lot of gravel. Gravel on steep is the worst. With that in mind…
  • Don’t worry if you have to get off and walk part of the way. Especially if you’ve got a one-speed like me. It’s all about being on the beach and getting a workout, and there is nothing wrong with a walk on the beach.
  • Riding at sundown is sublime. Golden light on the waves, a little spray on your face, maybe a seal swimming along in the surf… There is nothing else like it in the world.Biking with a friend
  • Stay the hell away from seals and sea lions, especially pups (above video shot with telephoto). They may look abandoned, but mama seals often leave their pups unattended on the beach while they fetch fish. Adult seals will probably just jump in the water, but they could mess you up if they wanted to. A sea lion won’t hesitate to mess you up. (We’ve got a big harbor seal colony at the spit end of our beach.) Besides being rude, it is a federal crime to disturb marine mammals. So if they notice you and start to move toward the water, just move slowly away. I like to stay at least 100 yards away, and even that can bee too close sometimes.
  • “Have a good time, all the time. That’s my philosophy, Marty.”

Making the public private, courtesy Neil Goldschmidt, Inc.

by Steve, December 6th, 2015

Merry Christmas kids!

At times like these, all I can think about is Fred Leonhardt, once the risen star of political speech-writing in Oregon, and how his career was destroyed by the still-powerful politico-corporate network of child-rapist Neil Goldschmidt. So I dedicate this to Fred and to his family, and all they’ve sacrificed to support Fred’s righteous bravery. (Here’s Nancy’s take.)

Oregon’s Port of Portland and its unique Metro regional government have long been known as warrens of sinecures for ex-Goldschmidt operatives, along with executive positions at private corps like NW Natural and Nike.

Goldschmidt is still praised by many for his civic mindedness, primarily the prioritization of rail over highways. I appreciate that, and benefit from it. (But as a daily user of regional rail transit, I can tell you Portland’s system has proven poorly designed, with many choke points, inefficient routes, and inadequate capacity, especially during any kind of weather. But I digress.) The point is, Goldschmidt’s legacy hasn’t actually been all that beneficial for the public. To the contrary. I would argue that in addition to child rape, patronage and enlarging the public trough have been his enduring legacy.

Now comes Christmas in Portland, prime season for the privatization of public space. As soon as they lit the big tree, it and the entirety of Portland’s Fucking Living Room (Pioneer Courthouse Square) is cordoned off for a privately-organized, for-admission, 21-and-over booze fest. For a week. Merry Christmas, kids! Come back next week after we’ve hauled off the drunks, taken down the tents and hosed off the bricks! To be fair, I don’t know of a Goldschmidt/booze fest connection. But the Metro/Oregon Zoo connections are long-standing and well-known.

Last week, the Oregon Zoo announced that, in an effort to thin crowds, ticket prices are going up. Yay! Fewer poor people to have to stand in line with. Not sure why the Zoo can’t figure out how to, I don’t know, sell timed tickets like every museum that ever hosted a popular exhibit. Better yet, make it free, and have a lottery for available time slots. Our taxes are paying for it, so why should we pay twice? Oh, that’s right, so Metro can continue to host six-figure jobs for the Goldschmidt network.

And who’s quoted in the O, pimpin’ the price hike? None other than Krista Swan, who’s never been shy about her public adoration of “the man” Neil Goldschmidt.

“It should be a magical, fun experience,” said Swan. For those who can spare 50 or 100 bucks to take their families to see lighted cages. (I know, I know, they don’t actually light the cages. But the whole place is a damn cage.)

It’s naked elitism. They don’t give a fuck. I kind of admire the chutzpah it takes to say “screw you” to the people paying your salary and totally get a way with it. But I literally feel sickened by this.

My long-term, ongoing revulsion of zoos was recently enhanced by a $125 million zoo bond that was supposed to provide a large, off-exhibit elephant sanctuary for surviving victims of the zoo’s shameful captive breeding and exhibition program. As a pioneering captive elephant breeder (and one of few remaining), the Oregon Zoo has long used elephants as the face of its marketing campaigns. At some point after the bond was passed, the zoo decided they were going to spend that public money on exhibit space, and maybe think about a sanctuary some time in the future. Let’s not kid ourselves; the improved exhibit space is designed as an improvement for ticket-buying human spectators, not elephants.

The zoo has launched a massive outdoor media campaign promoting the new exhibit. The over-sized billboard hung from the side of the O Dock grain elevator in the Rose Quarter reminds me of Portland past, where there were industrial jobs that paid enough for a family to survive and buy a house. Now their tax dollars are paying to advertise the offensive, unethical exhibition of elephants they probably can’t afford a ticket to see.

I really hate the zoo. It’s a publicly-funded, commercial entertainment enterprise that is cruel to animals and increasingly off-limits to working people. At this point, I would be in favor of full privatization (with fair market price for the land and facilities). And we should legislate an end to captive breeding of elephants. End of story.

This is a salient piece of the Goldschmidt story: how he created an elite and powerful network that survived his rape of a child, and continues to make public policy decisions largely for their own benefit, paid for by working people.

Update, 2:50 pm

Poor Krista thinks we’re picking on her.
Also, we don’t get it! It’s actually cheaper for the masses if they pack in on poor people nights! And she can’t be elitist, she scrubs baseboards with a toothbrush! (?)

And we must be living in the past to continue pointing out Goldschmidt’s nefarious influence. Also, we might need therapy.


Here’s a public official, complaining about hearing from her constituents. I’m afraid it’s Krista who doesn’t understand how public debates about public policy regarding public spaces are supposed to work.