Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Dad Falls for "Empty Bed" Trick Yet Again

I keep thinking we've moved beyond this. We haven't. I enjoy the uncertainty of even the simple things, like bedtime. A happy burst of surprise before bed ensures a good night's sleep.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

LBJ Gives Inspiration Yet Again

This photo, from Johson's 1937 special election campaign for Texas's 10th congressional district, shows the future president moments before smashing a lit kerosene lantern into a wagon of disgruntled voters.
BFTSM would no doubt say to me if he were here right now, "We need more Lyndon B. Johnson content, pronto!"

Who can blame him? I am neither a scholar nor a serious amateur in this regard, so for me LBJ is the president who got a lot of cool legislation accomplished (health care reform, war on poverty, gun control (!)) then declined to run for a second term over the Vietnam War.

I salute his ability to get stuff done, a quality in short supply lately, both here (in this house) and abroad.

And no, I don't approve of picking up dogs by their ears.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Sloth Culture Again Invades Consciousness

Pretentious metaphor of modern life.
Today when I was taking the kids to school I was mulling over the fact that locker art just isn't what it used to be.

The daughter has stopped posting cute things on her locker; the son currently doesn't use his locker so why bother with decoration?

"Don't you want pictures of sloths and race cars?" I asked, picking two sure-fire hits with the son.

He agreed that his locker would look great with such decorations.

Only afterwards did it occur to me that a sloth driving a race car would be best. In many ways this is how many of my days feel, like I have the mentality of a sloth but am hurtling round a race track.

Lucky for me the race course has some bumps, but generally is pretty excellent.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Oversharing Blogger Posts Details Of Hat Upgrade

Thanks Mom! Out with the old, in with the new. Notice the blue hat has scuff marks on top from carrying windsurfing boards on my head.

The bald guy gets a new sombrero.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Blogger Distracted By Minecraft With Son

This picture of rain will have to suffice in place of more stimulating fare.
Despite plans to pontificate madly here, I ended up playing Minecraft with the son. I built a swimming pool connected to the tea house by a wooden walkway lit with torches. Meanwhile the kid worked on a cow shed.

I am undone once again.



Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Daughter Finds Inner Strength To Deep Clean Room

This illustration adequately represents the starting point of the transformation.

With the encouragement of a grandmother and the coaching of a father the kid finally gave her room the deep clean -- throwing out the broken Hello Kitty pens and random plastic crap and relegating much of her stuff to a secure storage facility.

I was so moved by these events I made a video, worried such order would be short lived. At least there now exists a record of the clean room.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Queen of Komedy - Dramatic Performance Perhaps To Delay Bedtime

Drama is a many splendored thing.

I've now reached the point with the whole bedtime ritual where I lead by example. I go to bed in the hopes the kids will follow.

The schtick is that I tell the kids to get ready for bed and then get myself ready. When I actually arrive at the bed and throw back the covers often a child is there giggling. I have been undone several times by this devious ruse.

The notion that the older kid will go to bed before me is laughable. She has learned that comedy is a fine way to prolong the inevitable exile to her own bedroom.

The other night when I came to the bed there wasn't a concealed child inside. Rather the kid had removed all items from the table next to the bed, including reading material, laptop, lamp, and pen and paper.

She then brought me a camera and proceeded with her performance.

Oscar, Oscar!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Willamette Bridge Tour High Quality Edutainment

The Burnside Bridge in all its yawning glory as it opens on command.

When guests are in town what do we do? We roll out the red carpet and take them on the best bridge tour ever -- Willamette Bridgewalk.

Bridges are beautiful and complicated all at the same time, sort of like bicycles only bigger.

Of course we learned all sorts of good stuff about bridges and Portland, but like the geeks we are the big ticket item was when we visited the Burnside bridge keeper who indulged us and raised the bridge.

Click this to see the video as the widget is broken.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Ten Plagues As Told By Nine-year-old

We are all proud of the kid for writing and illustrating the following 10 modern-day plagues:

Monday, April 14, 2014

Minecraft Continues To Wreak Excellent Havoc On Our Family

Screenshot of mountain tea house under construction by Portdaddia design team.

Friday night the kids began fighting at around 11:00 pm. I got out of bed and went to their room to investigate.

"What the hell is going on," I demanded.
"He infested my train station with cows, then blew the whole thing up," the daughter said.

"She told me to make a restaurant in the train station, then she killed my cows," said the son.

"Cows don't belong in a train station."

"They were in a restaurant."

"What kind of restaurant has cows in it."

"They were the food."

"Still, you shouldn't have blown up the station."

Eventually I was able to calm the situation and get order restored. Just another day in the world of Minecraft.

Minecraft has been devotedly played in our house for over a year. In the beginning I had to gain some tech support knowledge but beyond that the kids have figured it out for themselves. The game, the community, the whole thing, is so beyond anything I ever experienced I began reading the book, Minecraft: The Unlikely Tale of Markus "Notch" Persson and the Game that Changed Everything.

The book explains why Minecraft is more like a social network than a game. Once a person buys a copy he/she gets free updates in perpetuity. What one actually does once the game is up and running is as varied as, well, people. One can kill monsters, play superhero or just build new worlds, to name only a few flavors of the "virtual lego."

On Saturday the kids insisted I play with them. So with two iPads and an iPod touch we set up "crafting" our own world. The kids were thrilled to tutor me in using the controls, although whenever I crafted something the son was tempted to blow it up or light it on fire.

Eventually we settled on a project: mountain top tea house. I cleared the mountain top while the daughter crafted a fireplace and the son built a system where mine carts running on a track bring patrons to the establishment. He was thrilled when I told him he could raise cows in the valley as part of the project. 

I've been supporter of Minecraft kids, but now I might actually become a fan myself.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Analysis Of Daughter's Locker Reveals Absence Of Kittens

A recent photo of her current locker illustrates the absence of the cats and Pokemon of yesteryear.

The Portdaddia Librarian has retrieved from the archive a photo of the daughter's locker from last year. The difference is astounding.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

"Game Of Thrones" Inspires Thoughtful Reflection Of Personal Meaning

"Can you help a humble traveler get to Comic-Con?" Example of dire wolf sigil for House Of Stark.

My 12-year-old and myself are reading the Game of Thrones series while the nine-year-old has gleaned some of the lore from parody videos.

As a result I put forth this challenge: If you had to design a sigil ( a symbol or emblem) to represent your noble house what would it be?

The daughter: "Bearisus" -- a winged bear
The son: An empty medieval food storage container (his rap name is M.T. Freezer).
Portdaddia: A pizza with a windsurfing sail attached

Feel free to contribute your own ideas.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Taiwanese Cyclists Pass Through Portland As Blogger Cheers

The peloton had about 50 people and they covered around 100 km a day -- for mostly retired folk I thought this hardcore.
Yesterday I came across a group of Taiwanese cyclists who were biking from Vancouver BC to San Francisco. They had stopped in Pioneer Square to do a media event and take some pictures with a bronze of a man holding an umbrella.

I lived five years in Taiwan and felt I owed a debt of gratitude for the generosity of various people. I didn't have time to give them financial advice or pragmatic technical pointers about cycling fashion.

But I did give them a rousing cheer of "Jia you, jia you!"(加油,加油) -- which literally means "ad oil"  or "bike your buns off!" 


Monday, April 7, 2014

Award-winning Letter By Sixth-grade Daughter

The author at home.

The letter below is to Sharon Creech, writer of Walk Two Moons. The letter won first place in the Letters About Literature contest as an Oregon Level #1 entry. The contest was for students in grades 4-6.

Dear Ms. Sharon Creech,

I do not accept things. When I was small, I refused to accept that gravity would be able to keep me from flying. Why should I be doomed to walk when the birds have the luxury of ruling the sky? I did not accept that the world I was living in had preset rules that I was supposed to follow. Why must I not touch anything in a museum? Some things are meant to be experienced, and not sit behind glass for the rest of their existence.

Starting when I was five I found escape in fantasy books where if you work hard it is possible to embark on fantastic journeys full of adventure and excitement. I never wanted much to do with realistic fiction because if the author is going to go through all the trouble of creating a world for others to see, why not make it unique and intriguing?

When your book Walk Two Moons was recommended to me by my school librarian, I thought to myself: Here comes a stuffy, plain trip to the world I already know. Words cannot explain how wrong I was.

Just like me, Salamanca was in denial. She was denying the fact that her mother had left, the fact that her father had found someone new, and the fact that her life would never be the same. Similar thoughts were in my head when my father was diagnosed with cancer. Although I was young, I knew that he was in danger. I lay awake at night with my dad in the hospital wondering if I would get to see him again.

Even if he did survive, would our lives together ever be the same? Would Sal’s mother still love her and accept her even if they never saw each other again? I saw Sal’s behavior in myself -- the way that she felt about her life, the way she was able to see from other people’s point of view whenever they were feeling sad. She carried so much sadness that she was able to see when other people were feeling sad as well, but not when they were happy.

When my father was sick, happiness was like watching a bird fly away. I wished I could follow and leap into the sky, but alas I could not. Just like Phoebe Winterbottom, when her mother went missing, I was overwrought and pessimistic when I shouldn’t have been, but I was able to come back from it. Walk Two Moons taught me to be strong and live in the moment. Even though there are lots of bad things in the world, you have to focus on the good and happy things to have balance.

I have made it a priority in my life to be thankful for what I have. No matter how bad things seem, I shouldn’t get bent out of shape over the little things. My dad survived cancer! Against all odds I still have him, and I try as hard as I can to be appreciative of my life.

I understand that it is okay to be sad, and it’s okay to not be walking on sunshine every waking moment. Sadness is a fact of life and happiness would not exist without it. As I grow as a person I become more able to navigate the unbearable moments of sadness and appreciate the happy ones, when I soar like a bird in the sky -- this is what growing up is all about.

On an ending note, thank you Ms. Creech for what you have given me. I look forward to experiencing more of your work in the future.

I hope I get a chance to meet you in person.

Your friend,

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Kid Starts To Kick It Geography Style

This is somewhere where stuff happens, sort of.

The kid came home with a geography test and I put my wits to see if I could achieve the level of my sixth-grade daughter. Of course not, who am I kidding?

She knew about the Caspian and Aural Seas, Bahrain and Somalia, and even was able to say "Djibouti" without cracking up, something I am unable to do.

Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, no problem.

Life is good, just wish she would clean her room. Always something.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Production Bikes Are Excellent Value

This is the cockpit of the Urban Assault Vehicle.
Portland is moving through the cycle of boom and bust with the handmade bicycle frame and custom-assembled components.

For those who can discern the advantages of a few degrees added to the fork angle I salute you!

Also, for those who lovingly handcraft bikes as the fusion of art and utility to make masterpieces, I also salute you!

For those who wish to make a business out of custom bikes I say, "You should have been here 10 years ago."

Large bike makers may have been slow to follow the trend, but they've got it now. A typical bike store has mass-produced, high-quality bikes for any number of occasions such as road, touring, randonneur, hybrid, commuter, comfort, utility, messenger, freeride, time trial, triathlon, track, cruiser. Ten years ago the flavors were Racing or Mountain with a few crappy city and touring bikes.

The main reason I'm writing this is that I realize I've lost the ability to discern what advantage a custom steel frame will give over a mass-produced aluminum or composite frame. Also, I would be forever distracted locking 5k of bike up on the street. My $350 commuter joy is an easier proposition.

Spring is here and I'm two-wheeled happy.