Archive for category The House

Sam Adams Policies are anti-family

Reading this editorial I realized one thing:  Sam Adams doesn’t live a life with kids.  Of course, I already knew that given the public airing of his dirty laundry, but having been a vicitim of these “Green Streets” projects, it is pretty clear to me.  We live off of Hawthorne in a relatively busy neighborhood, which tends to have a lot of families with kids.  One common element with those  families is that they all have to drive their kids to various activities and locations.  Biking is really not an option, most of the destination are spread throughout Southeast Portland, and carrying twenty pounds of baseball gear on a bike just isn’t a good idea.   As a result of this need to drive, we have cars.  Cars have to be parked somewhere.  One of the charms of the neighborhood is that many of the houses don’t have driveways.  They didn’t really need them when the houses were built, so people park their cars on the street.  In addition, we have had two condos constructed in our neighborhood in the last five years.  One of them has three offstreet parking places for the twelve units, and the other has no offstreet parking for the twenty-four units.  The City’s policy is that since the condos were built within 100 feet of a bus stop, they don’t require offstreet parking.  The unfortunate thing is that every single person that has moved into the 24 unit condo has two cars.  The available parking in the neighborhood has disappeared.  These condos are a direct push for “high density housing”, which is another Adams policy of note. 

Back to the “Green Streets” project:  The parking study for it was done prior to the construction of the condos.  These curb extensions eat up many of the preexisting parking spaces, which makes the parking all the worse.  In the early stages of the project, various families in the neighborhood tried to point this out to the group in charge of the project.  They made small allowances, but nothing significant.   In personal experience my family has  lost two parking spaces in front of our house.  For what?  The argument is that it reduces stormwater backup, and provides filtering.  Well, with yesterday’s rain, ALL of these additions  in our neighborhood were full of water by 7 AM, and our street was  flooded.  We had a little over an inch of rain yesterday in our neighborhood according to my weather station.  Big help they were. 

His argument in the editorial is that these extensions are going to somehow make things safer to bicycles.  Given that our street is barely wide enough for one lane of traffic with cars parked on both sides of the street, all the extensions do is force the bikes into the middle of the street.  How does that make anything safer?  It does slow traffic down a lot.  Several times a day,  we have people backing up a half a block to the intersection because there is only enough room for one car on the street at a time.  Prior to the condos, and green streets project, there were often room for two at a time.

The city also has the nerve to expect that the home owners are going to make efforts to clean and maintain these curb extensions.  If by “clean and maintain”, they really mean “ignore”, then I’m all for it.

Back to my initial premise:  These projects are anti-family.  Increased traffic in our neighborhood due to high density housing makes it dangerous for kids to play outside,  no parking near our homes makes it difficult to deal with children (ever had to carry your groceries an extra block in the rain from your car while managing a 3-year old?),  and storm water facilities that don’t really work and just compound the traffic problem.

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The only constant is change

I had been running this site off a Linux server in my basement for the last 7 years or so. At the time, I got the fastest connection available: 768k DSL. I later upgraded to 1.5Mb DSL. Now life has different priorities. I spend much of my free time with my family, and I no longer had time to maintain the machine or the OS. I have moved the server to a hosted space, disconnected the DSL and turned off the server after all this time. I can safely say that my basement is now devoid of the whine of fan motors. We also have a much speedier 16 Mb connection thanks to Comcast. Qwest had sent us advertisements over and over again saying that Fiber was coming to our neighborhood (with 20Mb service), and even went as far as to put flyers on the doors of the whole neighborhood saying that it was available. Calls into Qwest proved fruitless in that regard. Their loss.

For the curious, the previous site was run a dual processor Pentium III 450 that I inherited from a previous job on Gentoo Linux. I only had one crash the whole time it was up, and that was because of unexpected power loss and damage to the motherboard. I’d recommend a UPS for any computer without a built in battery.

The site goes on. Whee.

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Gnomes, belts and eye-sores

As promised, here is a picture of the new Gnome that myseriously appeared in our yard.  I like his optimistic expression.
Minor Gnome 49'r
On a separate topic, the local the last time I had my oil changed, the Toyota dealer told me that I needed to replace the main drive belt in my ’03 Toyota Tundra.  It had just rolled 45K miles.  They wanted $122 to replace the belt.  I told them “no thanks”, thinking I could do the work myself.  Well, I did.  The replacement belt cost $32.99, and took me about an hour to install.  It was the sort of thing that required two pairs of hands, and I only had one.  The funny thing is that the old belt was just fine.  A few hairline cracks, but according to my repair manual isn’t anything to worry about.   I guess it just goes to show that the dealer isn’t motivated by what is really needed, but by some magic count of miles on the vehicle.  The “Gatorback” belt I bought is supposed to last longer than the OEM belt anyway, so I won’t need to replace it anytime soon. Old Drive belt
The construction at the end of our street seems to be nearing the end of the street blocking phase.  Thank goodness.  I had to drag the “Road Closed” sign from in front of our house back to the site yesterday, which I find irritating.  The guys that work on the site don’t seem to give a darn where the leave it when they aren’t using it.  I don’t particularly like staring at it out of my living room window, nor do I like it taking up a parking space in front of my house.  Sometimes they leave it in the street blocking the sidewalk.  Nice eh?  They took out a walnut tree that was planted in the right-of-way, I wonder what kind of trees they are going to plant?

Condo Construction

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State of the Whirled…

I haven’t been updating this much.  There are several reasons for that.  First and foremost, the stuff that is going on in my life revolves around my current employment.  That stuff is “confidential” and “sensitive”, which makes it difficult to talk about and remain employed. 

Baseball has been eating up a bunch of my time.  We have been going through registrations, try-outs, and late registrations for the last couple of months.  Being the “Information Officer/Secretary” takes up my spare time.

I’ve also been ill.  A multi-stage cold/flu thing has been making its way through our friends and family made its way to me as well.  That took me out for the better part of a week.

The h44 construction is ongoing and just plain obnoxious, which makes me grumpy.  The contractors park everywhere, the street is blocked most of the day, they use lots of noisy equipment, and the relatively unsecured port-a-potties attract a lot of weak bladdered individuals at all hours. 

On the interesting front, and to my wife’s dismay, someone added a new gnome to our yard.  I’m guessing it was a birthday present, and I have theories about where it came from.  When I can find one of our digital cameras, I’ll take a picture of it and post it.  Lisa isn’t terribly fond of yard art to begin with, and the notion that it is spontaneously appearing in our yard is less than appealing to her.  I find it funny.

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Gnome-nappers

Some of our convict gnomes disappeared from our yard in the last couple of days.  This means that someone had to go into the yard to get them.  They left two, the one holding the deer, and the guard.  Pretty darn irritating, if you ask me.   With all the other bad news we are getting inundated with on a daily basis, it is hard to keep a positive attitude.

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LaCrosse 2316 annoying behavior

I’ve noticed that the anemometer on the Lacrosse 2316 weather station has issues with the cold weather.  The direction vein stopped moving as soon as it got below freezing.  It indicates that the wind direction is always East.  You can see how it corresponds to the temperature here. Around 7:00 am, the temperature drops to 32, and it stops moving. 

This storm is really quite impressive from a personal history standpoint.  I can’t remember having an entire week of sub 32 degree temperatures, but that is what the forecasts are saying.  Maybe we will end up with a white Christmas after all.

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The Changing Of the Seasons…

Halloween trick-or-treating was a relatively warm and dry one this year (dry when we actually went out).   Yesterday was our first real rain storm in a while.  In fact, between yesterday and today, we got almost as much rain as the entire month of October.  Did I mention I’m enjoying the weather station?

Sometimes in movies and television, a rainstorm is used as a literary device to indicate a change, a cleansing.   Seems appropriate that the storm arrived last night considering today is Election Day in the United States.

It is an odd season all around.  Normally, the trees across the street lose their leaves first, followed by all the other ash trees in the neighborhood.  This year, the ash trees turned about the same time, and have been dropping leaves all over the place.  It seems unusually warm to me.

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Lack of AT&T service in Portland

Lisa called me in a panic this morning, thinking I hadn’t paid the cell phone bill. It turns out some part of Portland, and also Vancouver Washington have no cellular service for AT&T at all at the moment. The person on the phone thought it might be back by tomorrow, but she didn’t have an ETA.

It is an event like this that makes me more aware of how dependent we are on the cell phones for our daily lives. At least we still have a land line. I know people who don’t, and wonder how they are coping.

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Passion Flower has died…

I posted pictures back in 2004 of the Passion Flower on our fence. For some unknown reason, it just didn’t come back this year. I thought it did quite well last year. We didn’t have a particularly cold winter, so I’m not sure what happened. I’m not happy about it, though. I really liked the plant. I’ll have to get another one and just keep my fingers crossed that it doesn’t die too. The now-dead plant had been in the ground there for five years.

There is one sucker from the original plant that seems to be growing, but even half of that one is dead.

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A conversation about flowers…

As I was loading Georgia in the car the other day, a woman, mid twenties, bent down and picked one of our tulips growing along side the sidewalk. I figured it must have been bent over or broken, or something. She walked down the sidewalk a little further and picked one of our daffodils. That was just too much.

Me: “Do you always pick people’s flowers?”
Her: “No, just today.”
Me: “That is pretty darn rude.”
Her: “Oh, sorry”

And she left with a smile. I wasn’t smiling.

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