September 25, 2007

Yoko’s Is Some Good Sushi!

Filed under: Food, Portland — Tags: — Tom @ 6:06 pm

I went out looking for some sushi last night. I’m typically a creature of habit. We’ll hit up Sushiland and watch the sushi go round and round; it’s fast and not too expensive, and the sushi’s OK. (You can even find me in the list of plate champions!)

But I’d been past Yoko’s several times and always wanted to try it out. Last night we did. It was awesome. We waited about 20 minutes to get a seat in the cramped little place. The food was great. The freshwater eel was some of the best I’ve had anywhere. The rolls might (might!) have benefitted from a little less rice, but I loved everything I had.

Service was typical Portland. Citysearch paints the sushi chefs as chatty but we found them the opposite. My questions were answered grudgingly and I wish the guys were a little more gregarious. They did send everyone off with a friendly wave and thanks, though. The servers were very nice but could have checked in with us a few more times. These are relatively small complaints in Portland, though — service is usually pretty lackluster in this town.

I’m definitely going back.

Yoko’s, 2878 SE Gladstone St


June 19, 2007

Bland Pippen Mansion Sells at a Loss

Filed under: Portland, Portland Real Estate — Tom @ 9:27 pm

The real estate market in Portland is crazy. When I moved here, I was looking at places that had appreciated 1,000% in the last five to ten years. It’s out of control.

Then I come across an article saying that somehow, former basketball player Scottie Pippen managed to lose about a million bucks on a place he’d owned more than 6 years. Yikes.

It’s becomes less puzzling when you take a look at the place. I’m certainly not living in an opulent gated estate here, but take a look at this place. Maybe it’s just me but that looks like the most bland, character-less place I’ve ever seen.

Bleh. $4 million? A fool and his money, I guess.

June 6, 2007

Portland No. 2 City for Dogs

Filed under: Portland, Portland Lifestyle — Tom @ 12:42 pm

Tolstoy and the red ballMen’s Health has named Portland as the number two best city for dogs.

Portland is definitely a dog-friendly city. Dogs are everywhere. Tons of people are dog owners and you often see dogs hanging out at outdoor bars and restaurants. There are a lot of dog parks. Tolstoy, at left, certainly seems to enjoy the upgrade from a Chicago condo to a Portland home. Back yard time is red ball time.

May 25, 2007

Three arrested for Portland car arsons

Filed under: Portland — Tom @ 10:56 am

Wow. There’s been some mini-excitement in Portland lately. Last Tuesday, there was a rash of car fires that claimed seven SUVs over two days.

Now the Oregonian reports that three people have been charged with arson in these cases and they don’t seem to have any ties to enviro-extremists. How do three people ranging in age from 29 to 14 decide to start torching vehicles? Just out from some pre-dawn fun? Was the Playstation broken? Couldn’t find a Wii? I can’t wait to hear the explanation for this one.

Please note that the OregonLive link in this post has a life of 14 days, after which it will slide into the Oregonian’s paid archives. This is apparently a strategy on the part of the Oregonian (and many other newspapers) to hasten their obsolescence.

May 15, 2007

Portland’s Polite Drivers

Filed under: Portland, Portland Traffic — Tom @ 10:41 am

Despite all of my complaining, the fact is that Portland’s drivers (while slow and infuriating at times) are unbelievably nice. The other day I was at a stop sign waiting to make a right hand turn. There was a stop light right around the corner and stopped traffic was lined up past my intersection. Some guy was blocking me but the woman behind him stopped and left some room, indicating that I should go ahead when the intersection cleared.

The guy in front of me notices me and he’s genuinely embarrassed that he blocked me. There’s completely no harm done here — traffic’s already stopped and the woman has already given me room to slide in behind the guy. But he actually backs up and lets me into his place in traffic.

2007 Road Rage Survey Results Now a survey of 25 metro areas finds that Portland is the most courteous city of all.

The survey, commissioned by AutoVantage for the second year in a row, also found that Portland had the fewest tailgaters.

Miami topped the list with the rudest drivers. Have you ever driven in Miami? What a zoo. Portland drivers, you have been warned. Those people will eat you alive.

I was surprised to find Dallas as number 5 on the most courteous list. In my experience, Texas drivers have always been one of the worst when it comes to boxing you out while you try to merge onto the freeway. They really, really don’t want be stuck in traffic behind you.

So I guess I should cut Portland drivers a break. I promise I’m going to honk at you guys less. Well, I promise to try.

May 11, 2007

BarCamp Portland Starts Tonight

Filed under: Media, Portland, Technology — Tom @ 3:38 pm

I’m thinking of going to BarCamp Portland tonight.

I’ll admit that the BarCamp site has me a little nervous — rules about no tourists and everyone must contribute or present or something. I don’t consider myself much of a blogger. I haven’t been doing this very long and don’t have many people visit here. I’m not a technical guy and couldn’t code my way out of a paper bag. I’m not certain that my interest in the social aspects of technology and media provide a whole lot of material to fuel my contribution.

What the hell. I’ll show up and see if they throw me out.

April 27, 2007

Another Thing That Never Happened in Chicago

Filed under: Art, Portland — Tom @ 11:15 pm

The SculptureI didn’t really know my neighbors in Chicago. We had some interaction because we were all members of a self-managed condominium association, but we weren’t what you’d call close. And I certainly didn’t have cool artist neighbors who let me display their work in my home until they sell it.

But here in Portland one of the people on my block is Samir Sankari, who does some fantastic metal sculpture. Most of his work can be displayed outside and his pieces can be seen all along our street. The piece shown here is a bit different — he incorporated some driftwood he came across and it’s one of the few that needs to be indoors. Fortunately, he offered to let me hang onto it until a buyer comes along.

March 28, 2007


Filed under: Portland Traffic — Tom @ 5:28 pm

Here’s something that definitely never happened in Chicago. My trip to work today was blocked by a landslide.

Landslide on Highway 26

Up until now, I’m pretty sure my only exposure to landslides was in Speed Racer Episode 50, The Trick Race. And Speed just jumped over them with the auto jacks.

March 27, 2007

Pumping Your Own Gas

Filed under: Motorcycling, Portland — Tom @ 8:43 pm

If there is one thing that completely drives me crazy about Portland, it’s Oregon’s ban on pumping one’s own gas. For those of you who haven’t been here, it’s one of two states in the Union that prohibit motorists from fueling their own cars. (The other is New Jersey.)

This gas thing is a disaster, both here and in NJ. Gas station owners don’t want to have to provide full service. These gas attendents exist solely by government edict. So the stations only have one or two guys working at a time. You’ll see big gas stations with five or more islands, most of which are blocked off with orange cones since they’ve only got one pump jockey. So you get in line behind the other cars and gaze longingly at all the open (but verboten!) gas pumps. When I lived in Virginia and had to make trips to New Jersey, the lines on the New Jersey Turnpike went on forever.

What’s the point of all this? The idea was that back when these laws were passed, filling your tank was a dangerous exercise that only trained professionals could handle successfully. I mean, look at the havoc that’s occurred in the other 48 states where untrained auto owners pump about 100 billion gallons every year. I myself lost a close, personal (well, fictional) friend to a bizarre squeegee accident in ’71.

Today? Who knows. Certainly there’s the argument that removing the ban would throw thousands of gas pump attendants out of work. (Cars, buggy whips, blah blah.) Some also seem to think that motorists in their state are just too stupid. From a USA Today article last year:

Bill Dressler, executive director of the New Jersey Gasoline Retailers Association and Allied Trades, says there are safety concerns. While attendants are trained, many motorists would be novices. “It could be put in the wrong container,” says Dressler, whose group represents about 2,200 of the state’s 3,800 gas stations. There could be “somebody getting out and smoking and they didn’t turn the engine off.”

Um, is Bill really concerned that people are going to put gas into the wrong hole? Or is he talking about somebody trying to fill up a milk carton or something? I’m not sure. The part that gets me really riled up, though, is the talk of “trained” attendants.

In New Jersey, the attendant would routinely ask if I wanted him to “top it off” — which you probably know you aren’t supposed to do. Even after I said no, there were a couple times when my refueling professional would fill the tank until the gas ran out onto the ground. I’ve never seen anyone top off their tank, anywhere, except for the highly trained New Jersey guys.

Environmentally conscious Oregon is no better. In June, 2001, Oregon granted motorcyclists the right to pump their own gas — but the pump still had to be operated by the gas attendant, handed off to the motorcyclist, and handed back to the attendant. Every time I ride up to a gas pump, while I’m taking off my gear, the pump attendant helpfully comes over and drains the all the fuel from gas hose onto the ground!. I rarely get a chance to stop them. Again, just like topping it off in New Jersey, I’ve never come across anyone who does this except for the guys that Oregon requires to handle the pumps. Every motorcyclist I know is more than capable of filling the tank without spilling gas on it.

If the biggest environmental hazard coming out of pumping gas is the ban on self service, maybe it’s time to drop it. But it’s a surpisingly volatile topic — I’m constantly surprised at how locals who have lived here their whole lives hate the idea of self-service gas stations.

And, of course, there’s always the logic of out-of-touch New Jersey politicians. From the USA Today link:

Assemblyman Francis Bodine…. says, “If I’m in a tux going to a black tie (event), I don’t want to stop and handle a gas pump.”

Yeah, Francis. I hate when that happens. My limo driver always ends up smelling like gasoline.

March 15, 2007

We Take Our Time Here in Portland

Filed under: Portland Traffic — Tom @ 12:58 pm

I’m getting used to the complete lack of urgency in Portland traffic. And I thought I’d seen it all. Yet last week I came across something here while driving to work that I’ve never seen anywhere.

I was driving along highway 26, a divided highway that serves as a major artery to Portland’s western suburbs and then continues on to the coast. I came across a big traffic jam as the highway shrank from three to two westbound lanes. Eventually, I was able to see a car stopped in the left-hand lane, forcing all traffic to merge together in the right lane to get around the vehicle.

This isn’t so unusual, I thought. Traffic accidents and vehicle breakdowns happen all the time, everywhere. I patiently waited as traffic inched by the car. As I came alongside the “disabled” vehicle, though, the driver did something (I really think he put something down), put his car in gear and drove off.

To all outward appearances, the driver and passenger were just stopped in the passing lane of a major highway reading their map or something, while traffic backed up for miles behind them. I’ve considered the possibility that they did actually have a breakdown and eventually managed to start the car, but it sure looked like the guy just put it in gear and took off.

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