Thursday, September 30, 2010

photos from chicago

It's been a busy couple of weeks, hence no postings here. Fear not, dedicated reader (singular intentional) - we return to Portland and normal life tomorrow, after a week in Chicago followed by a few days baking in Pasadena.

In the meantime, here are some Chicago photos. Neither of us had ever spent time there, and we found the city to be fun and fascinating. Aside from the incredible architecture (we took the superb river cruise from the Chicago Architectural Foundation - highly recommended) and the mostly-meaty food specialties (I did get a hot dog, an Italian beef sandwich, a beef-and-sausage sandwich and a deep-dish mini pizza), we loved the high energy.

We began our sightseeing with Millennium Park, and the famous 'Bean' sculpture.

That day, I spent nearly 6 hours at the nearby Art Institute. We have been to famous art museums in many cities, but I have to say that this one had the most astounding collection I've ever seen. The 19th and 20th Century art was amazing, but this place has prime examples of every time and place.

I was not disappointed by 'Nighthawks', which bore a striking resemblance to the Peeps version.
Karen was dazzled by this one: 'Pardon in Brittany', by Gaston la Touche
...and this one: 'Easter Mystery', by Maurice Denis.
I especially like this Chagall Crucifixion, with Jesus as a Jew (duh!), surrounded by scenes of pogroms.

No visit is complete without seeing 'American Gothic' and the famous Seurat. It's really quite large.

We saw a ton of great architecture. Here is the interior of a building called 'The Rookery'. The exterior was kinda neat, but the interior atrium was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and was dazzling.
Stairwell at The Rookery, looking up.
I did the Hop On/Hop Off Trolly, which turned out to be a great deal, since one of the 15 stops was one block from our motel. I hopped off at Navy Pier, which was a major tourist trap. However, my destination at Navy Pier was the free stained-glass museum, which was very cool. I took a bunch of photos - here are some of my favorites:
There were several Tiffany pieces:

I especially liked this one:

After seeing the stained-glass collection, I went outside to join a work-related conference call. Here is my view during that conversation. An hour later, I was on top of the Hancock building (center).

On Friday, I took the Green Line out to Oak Park and walked around the neighborhood where Frank Lloyd Wright lived and worked. There are a number of his projects in a small area, side by side with the grand old Victorians.

Japanese tourists at the Frank Lloyd Wright studio:

The showpiece in Oak Park is his Unity Temple, a Unitarian complex that is being restored. Here's the outside - a poured-concrete structure that was daring for 1908.
And the interior. Still used for concerts and other events.
We saw so much more in Chicago, but these are some of the highlights.

Oh yes, in Oak Park I spent a few minutes at Ernest Hemingway's boyhood home, appreciating the scene of serene, large homes and the ghost of the little boy who turned out to be one of the major bullies in literary history. But that's a different story.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

thanks again, John McCain

Why am I not surprised?

wishing everyone a meaningful Yom Kippur. We went to Kol Nidre last night and it was beautifully done, as usual, with wonderful music and those old, old prayers.

Since I've been somewhat sick from food poisoning all week (thanks again, Soji restaurant in Sisters, OR), it will be easier than usual to associate food with revulsion.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Yom Kippur thoughts

It's a troubling time for atheists.

The image of a Supreme Judge who is making decisions about how my life will go in the next year is great for 5 year-olds. I do understand the metaphor, and how it suggests that repentance and charity will make your life better, so you might as well be virtuous and considerate.

Makes sense.

What I can't deny is the power of the ritual. I have had certain Yom Kippurs over the years that were tremendously affecting, especially during the climactic moments at the end. It's the power of crowd psychology mixed with profound hypoglycemia - a potent combination.

Wishing everyone well - may you get something meaningful out of it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

there's a whole lot of giggling going on

Regarding the looney victors of selected primaries yesterday.

Ho, ho, these wackos are certainly amusing, and the consensus seems to be that Democrats will have no trouble steamrolling over them in November.

A lot of Germans laughed at the Nazi clowns in 1933.

Friday, September 10, 2010

end of two weeks of panic

About two weeks ago, a client handed me a challenge that seemed totally overwhelming. I've put in the hours since then, and have scheduled a demo for next Monday, one week before their drop-dead date.

98% of what needs to work is tested and satisfactory to me. The final issues await resolution/assistance from the 3rd-party vendor of a key software component, and they have been totally unresponsive to my calls and emails (which is a little unsettling, to say the least). Not only that, but their 14-day trial period ends next Monday, and their website offers no information on how to buy a license (other than 'call us').

However, with minimal help from the client, no help from their consultants in St. Louis, and little from either the major and minor software vendors, I have a Microsoft Access application that can read and update Salesforce tables, replacing complex logic that formerly updated an internal Access app that was obsoleted by Salesforce.

The client needed me to come in and rescue them, before Sept 20, and I am pretty confident I will deliver. Unfortunately, two other clients have been left hanging while all my attentions were focused.

It's been a whirlwind, but I will stop thinking about it now, and pack my bags in preparation for 3 days at the Sisters Folk Festival. Don't get excited, crooks, our friend Robert will be here at the house watching it and the cats.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

the lesson of 'Rev.' Terry Jones

How interesting to hear that the Germans booted him out of his Cologne church because he was too incendiary for them.

How about this for a simple tactic? Take away his tax-exempt status.

Hey, why stop with him? Think about it. Isn't it time?

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

does anyone love the chrome browser?

Ben likes it, and I am trying it, but I miss some familiar features from Firefox.

What's the big benefit? Anyone?

Monday, September 06, 2010

who ya gonna believe?

Two articles:

Samsung: Galaxy Tab has leg up on Apple iPad

Success of Samsung Galaxy Tab Doomed by Carrier Contracts

the media has decided

Obama has failed and the GOP is going to take back the government in November. You hear it everywhere now. They seem gleeful about it.

Mission Accomplished, Fox. Thanks, again, lazy journalists.

Middle-class America (what's left, that is): get ready for the next round of thievery. Not that much left to loot anymore, but I'm sure they'll come up with something. (Hint: Social Security).

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Time to hit the Deck!

Loyal readers of this blog (i.e. both of you) may remember last 4th of July, when we had a work party to build the base and frame of our new backyard deck. Today, the decking went on! Come with me, as I relive the events of the past two days....

We ordered the decking last week, and it was delivered Friday morning. Here it is, in two stacks. I spent about 45 minutes just pulling out the damn staples.

After the staple-pulling, I applied a coat of waterseal to all surfaces. That took a long time Friday, and, by the middle of the afternoon, I was hot and ready for a cold beer, which, come to think of it, was really quite enjoyable, especially after the emergency visit to take Ben to get a tetanus shot, after he was bit on the finger by a mouse.

But that's a different story. Here are all the sealed pieces, laid out for Saturday's fun.

Our construction guru, Robert Perron, brought his great tools, boundless patience, and in-depth experience. Here he is, getting everything set up.

It took a while for us to get into the rhythm of laying out the boards, measuring the gaps, clamping everything down, drilling the holes, and screwing in the deck screws. The first few boards were painfully slow to set, and I was wondering how we were ever going to make real progress. Most of the boards in this picture are just laying there, as we checked positioning.

Amazingly, the momentum built quickly, and, by lunch time, we were about half-way across the 12x12 expanse. It was beginning to look pretty good.

Ben arrived and, incredibly, had a steady hand and saved the day, with his precision screwing, so to speak. He worked hard and his cheerful attitude was welcomed. Zack the neighbor came over to talk politics for a while. He's not sure about Kitzhaber. We are - Go Kitz!

By around 3:30 we were all getting mighty tired, but Ben kept at it. Karen made all the precision cuts for the four corners, and they were all perfect!

We finished tacking down the last board around 4:30. We cleaned up all the gear, covered it with tarps and went to Fuddruckers for burgers!

There are still many pounds of screws to be applied, but all cutting and measuring is done. Now, it's just the brute force of a couple hundred more deck screws, and nailing back the temporary facia boards. Whew!

Next year - the roof!