Saturday, June 24, 2006

The road to Hillsboro

So I expect you're all wondering exactly what my morning commute is like. It was definitely worth waiting for summer to shoot this as, you know, it's daylight an' all.

Having succesfully leveraged myself out of bed, consumed a lemon burst yoplait, a glass of orange juice and a multivitamin, I find myself cycling down through the 'hood around 7.05am. Fortunately it's all downhill for 20 blocks (1 mile). Looks like I'm around Salmon and 27th here. In Sim City terms this is medium density residential.

As we approach the river, I find myself in an area clearly zoned for light industrial usage.

Here's the start of Hawthorne Bridge, although at this point it's just a flyover over the last ten blocks or so of land before the river. Downtown sits at the far end.

On the bridge proper. I reckon the Williamette looks about as wide as the Thames through London at this point. Observe the counterweights perched high and to the left - yes, a section of this bridge can be raised when "da borts com in"

Sometimes on Friday you can grab a free doughnut and cup of joe in return for your individual effort to save the world from global warming (or save yourself from buying a miata, to look at it another way). One day I even ended up on "Bike TV". I actually thought this was a joke until someone at work mentioned they saw me on it.

Sometimes, if there are no cops about, I do a bit of off road through this charming square. It saves me a light and makes me feel like a rebel. High density commercial, by the way.

Here comes the MAX, and the bunfight to locate the last available bike hook. 7.25am.

When it's not raining I get off the MAX a stop early and bike along the back streets to HQ. This bit of hillsboro feels like it been here a while. About 8am.

Luckily school's out for summer, else they'd be a gaggle of teenage girls in this shot. If that's not a problem for you, bear in mind that taking such a photo from a bicycle whilst in possession of a "faggy" accent is still technically hanging crime in Hillsboro. I was trying to recall if there was ever a time that I wasn't frightened of teenage girls, and I've decided that there wasn't.

Over the main road we find ourselves in toytown, technically Orenco, a new Hillsboro suburb and possible apotheosis of the American dream. If Intel ever goes bust, this place will be nought but tumblin' tumbleweeds.

A fashionably late 8.15am and, it's work done for the morning, my bike gets to live it up in this purpose built rack for the next ten hours. Life of Riley.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Don't mention the war

We've all been there, of course: awkward social situations. Hackles are raised, your mellow has most assuredly been harshed, you're thinking, "I could really do with a glass of Scotch, you know, just to stiffen my nerves." Then you look down, only to discover that you are, in fact, already drinking a glass of Scotch.

A common enough situation. It happened to me the other week at an otherwise entirely pleasant "Brits in Portland" barbecue at Tamara's place. The annoying thing is that if only I had paid closer attention to Chapter XI of G.R.M. Deveruex's Etiquette for Men (1929), which clearly states, " is advisable to avoid certain subjects, such as religion and, generally, politics. A frank discussion on either of these subjects can be full of interest, but very often such a discussion develops into a heated argument which may end in loss of good feeling," none of this would have transpired. Having made the initial error of brokering a conversation with a local conspiracy theorist (bush planned 9/11, CIA runs global drug trade etc), I had inadvertently opened the floodgates on a rather disquieting leftfield polemic of quite un-british in-your-face frankness where, sadly, my trademark insouciance proved something of a red rag to a bull. Apparently, my general indifference was extremely provocative and before the night was out I had been clearly singled out as the crypto-fascist lapdog of a neo-conservative junta, a veritable Richard Littlejohn of the West Coast. Still, when you work for such radically subversive organisations as Intel, you probably do gain a different perspective on things. And, on the plus side, he had made a particularly good lime pickle.

Having survived Saturday, and bearing no more than a substantial hangover, I continued my genial saunter down the freeway of total world domination with all the energy I could muster; we took our niece to feed the ducks in Lake Oswego before decamping to the epicentre of post-colonial capitalist oppression (Washington Square Mall) for a trip to the Cheesecake Factory to celebrate Linda's birthday. I cannot recommend the avocado spring rolls highly enough.

Thought for the day
James Blunt - not technically cockney rhyming slang, but he's ruined Starbucks for me.