Category Archives: The Oregon Trail

Loving the Max

was just thinking about my commute since I’ve been riding regularly, and how much I enjoy my morning time on Portland’s light rail, the Max.

It’s really the only time of the day that I can count on to be my own time. I can read, write, get some work done, chat with strangers, or just stare blankly.

When I work, it’s without fear of interrupts, so that 30 minutes can be more productive than a whole day in the office. as far as production goes.

All this while I’m actually making progress towards a goal, which is getting to work.

And then when I ride home over the west hills, that beer tastes even better.


Organic City Sounds on Beer

Nice little audio blog piece on beer in Portland, OR. Go ahead and take a listen. It covers the whole gamut from enjoying to making in our little beer mecca.

Heads up! North American Organic Brewers Festival

Just a reminder that the NAOBF is happening this weekend, starts at noon Fri-Sunday at Overlook Park.  This is my favorite brewfest of the year.  It doesn’t get crazy crowded, there are tons of fun beers to try, and it’s always an all-around good time.  I’m helping Dave Knows with his story about it this year, so double-stoked.  See you there.

Visiting Portland Guide: Crawl #1

Jeff at Beervana poses a question: what five beers are a connoisseur’s must-haves visiting Portland. I might have to tackle that, but really, Jeff is really on top of that in his post. I suggested a different route, a road trip around Mt. Hood. But I also threw in a crawl that I think is really worth sharing with your Portland visitors.

Begin at Rontom’s. If it’s nice out, enjoy the patio. If not, squeeze in and grab a pint. Next, move on to B-side, for a quick pint. Then, The Farm for dinner if you’re hungry. Eat light, because Noble Rot has great snacks too. Work off the meal with a light stroll up to Union Jack’s. You’ll need a few bucks for cover to this strip club. Then head up to Doug Fir and Voodoo Donuts to see how the hipper half live. Maybe there’ll be a great show downstairs. Finally, cruise up to Sandy Hut where they’ll be happy to pour you something potent while you wait for a cab.

Comfort – the end of a generation

Portland has been a Gen-X city for as long as I can remember. Which is as long as I’ve been here. We’ve had a lock on cuisine, fashion (?), transportation, attitude, periodicals, entertainment. Pretty much the whole shebang. Sort of a Gen-X wonderland. Don’t get me wrong, PDX is a city of variety and range, there’s a lot of of other stuff too for Y’s and boomers and everyone in between. But Portland has been the slacker capital.

But times are a-changing. The comfort food proliferation. It is taking over. If you want a successful restaurant, you’d better have something battered, fried, stuff with cheese, slathered in gravy, then fried again if you know what’s good for you. I do love some comfort food. Biscuits and gravy are probably my greatest weakness there, but a scotch egg comes in close. But that’s a chef’s salad hold the egg compared to some of the concoctions being delivered. Burgers with grilled cheese for buns. Poutine which is lightly battered deep fried potatoes smothered in gravy with cheese and other health food sprinkled on. Pasties and fried pies. It’s all delicious. But so wrong.

At first I thought that the comfort food revolution came about through the typical Portland Gen-X ironic thing. Oh we’ve been eating garden burgers and tofu and mediterranean food. But this stuff makes the arteries yearn for another slice of pepperoni again. And I don’t think it’s ironic. Jared can piss off, there’s a new sheriff in town, and he wants cream-filled all day long.

Is this poison oak?

I am terrible at identifying plants, yet at the same time I’m really susceptible to poison oak. For some reason, it is very difficult to find a decent image of the toxic weed. Guidebooks all have the same line drawing as can be found at trailheads. Pics on the internet are obscure and frequently hidden behind broken links.

So I found a plant I think might be poison oak. Can somebody please confirm?

Is this poison oak?
Is this poison oak?

thanks! I didn’t want to get any closer for fear of getting the aerial wrath of this f%*ker.

Oregon HB2641

Rob L of the Oregon Brew Crew posted this to our listserv in a conversation about a new beer tax proposed in Oregon. He makes a number of lucid points. And doesn’t just complain but proposes action.

Oregon HB2461 surprised me. Actually, at first it was shock, then
disbelief and anger. Now I’m ready to do something about it.

Jim P wrote:
> Cost of producing each keg (tax is production cost) would go up $25.
> Average distributor markup is 20-30 percent. Average pub markup is
> 300-350 percent. You get 100-120 pints per keg. You can do the math.

Not everyone finds it easy to do the math, so here goes:
$100 keg today, about $1/pint
$1.30/pint from wholesalers
$4.00/pint at a pub

After the punitive “death to local beer” tax (using same markups):
$125/keg, or $1.25/pint
$1.63/pint from wholesalers
$5.00/pint at a pub

All of a sudden, that “15 cents a bottle” sounds downright misleading, when realistically it is an extra $1 for your pint!

Yes, raising taxes will reduce access to beer for kids; in fact, that 25% price hike will reduce access to beer for many adults, as well. In fact, this is already an extremely challenging time for the brewing industry, and it would likely drive a significant number of local breweries and pubs out of business.

If the problem is insufficient money for particular services, instead of proposing these punitive taxes that would throw more people out of work during the 2nd biggest recession in 200 years, then from the $140 million in “alcohol taxes” already being levied, why is less than 6 percent going to substance abuse treatment and prevention? Why not simply amend the bill to fund those services from the taxes already collected for that purpose?

If the authors of this bill actually have the well-being of high school youths as their primary concern, then they should recognize that most of the industrialized world allows drinking at age 16 (or so), and those countries have lower incidences of alcohol and drug abuse. They should provide sources for their outlandish claims such as “half of the students in every 11th grade classroom in Oregon drink” (really–in the classroom? Heck, not even half my adult co-workers drink!). And where is the causality — the connection between “having a beer” and having a “chronic, relapsing brain disease”? Beer is the healthy alcohol beverage of moderation. It just doesn’t make sense.

It also doesn’t add up economically.

Breweries and wineries in Oregon are locally-managed, world-class, family-owned, high-employment, tourist-attracting businesses. If we want to cripple our local economy because some businesses make products which might be mis-used, why are we only taxing beer? Should we also be taxing the local wineries and micro-distilleries? Isn’t obesity a leading health concern — should we be taxing our cheese, fruit, and filbert industries out of existence, too?

No! Oregon is famous for these specialty products, often hand-crafted or grown by businesses which often operate on thin margins; yet these historic mainstays of our economy could too easily be closed by sudden, thoughtless, extreme government over-taxation like this. I want Oregon to be a place that we’re proud of, and when tourists from all over the world come to the “Oregon Brewers Festival” — drawing over 70,000 people — it seems like our internationally renown breweries must be doing something right; something to be encouraged, not penalized.

Forcing draconian economic neo-Prohibitionism on our local world-class breweries, with built-in yearly escalating penalties, is short-sighted and misguided for our kids, our economy, and the standing of Oregon in the eyes of the world.

I love good beer, I love to share good beer with friends, and I believe responsibly enjoying good beer should have a greater role in our society.

I love Portland in part because of great (amazingly delicious!) beer, good biking and hiking, good coffee, wonderful food, nice wineries, beautiful rivers, the mountain and ocean nearby. We have great public spaces like museums, music, theatre, lovely parks, bookstores, brewpubs, and coffee shops. The casual wonders of our city are reflected in the people — we are generally the most polite, friendly, nice bunch of folks you could find.

I want to keep and cherish these things. If this bill was about creating a 2000% coffee tax, or taxing bike and parks usage, or driving local bookstores out of business, I think a huge number of us would be angry about those things, too, because they are special to us.

So what are we going to do about it? Well, I’m going to:

1) Write my state senator and state representative.

2) Encourage my friends to “speak up, if you don’t want beer taxes
to increase 2000 percent, about $1/pint, if HB2461 passes”.
I’ll offer to let them join me in taking action, too.

3) Volunteer for Zwickelmania on Saturday Feb 14th, to help
publicize this misguided government attempt to destroy
our local “good brewery” culture, and those good jobs.

4) Keep homebrewing, stay active in the Oregon Brew Crew, and keep
my ears open about other ways we can help prevent this disaster.

And finally, I’m going to relax and have a beer. A delicious local beer. Like none other in the world, brewed just a few miles from my house; at a brewery open for all to visit. And I’m going to smile, because I firmly believe that by working together, we are going to find a way to prevent a catastrophe like Oregon HB2461 from happening this year. And if we’re really, really smart we might even find a way to introduce legislation to prevent this ridiculousness from happening in the future, as well. And all that time, my friends and family, you and I, will have the pleasure of living in one of the best places on earth.

>> To Oregon’s fresh, local, delicious, healthy BEER! <<

Cheers and Prosit,
Robert L

Note to self: organic brewfest

The North American Organic Brewers Festival is this weekend, beginning tomorrow at 3pm. I had a great time last year, but I generally go to these events early and leave early. This is one of my favorites.

I’m surprised that they picked this weekend since at least one of the organizers is a huge soccer fan and the Euro cup final is Sunday. His boys aren’t in it this time around, though Spain vs Germany should be a pretty awesome match. Both teams play to win.


This is a strange situation. The logistics alone are mind-boggling.

urban iditarod stalks beerdrinker

Stepping out of Powell’s technical yesterday, I was a bit confused by the gleeful roar I hear in the distance. As I turned onto Couch from the park blocks, the noise grew louder and more distinct. Looking towards the Willamette I was a bit astonished by the source: a colorful crowd of people running shopping carts down the middle of the street. At first I thought this was some sort of guerilla theater event, but as I watched, the roar grew louder, and the crowd kept coming. This was quite an event. Everyone was costumed…ranging from offbeat to ridiculous.

And me without my camera.

Urban Iditarod

Apparently, the race is 4 miles long, with beer break checkpoints scattered throughout. It seemed that everyone was celebrating the entire time. It was beautiful. And they kept following me. After Powell’s tech, I went into the big Powell’s. After I emerged, they were still partying by my car on Davis and I walked to grab a gyro at Aybla (so good!). As I started unwrapping my tasty pita goodness a familiar sound greeted my ears, and I was swarmed by iditarod mayhem.

Favorite costume goes to the big shirtless guy with the angel wings. So wrong. That team was all kinds of wrong with the sexy angel on the wagon working the stripper pole.

Neatest cart: cavemen with real fire.

Funniest shirt: it takes quick hands to beat off evil.

I love Portland.

PS. It looks like the best page to get more info is unfortunately their myspace.

Rename 42nd Ave

There’s a movement to rename NE 42nd Ave to Douglas Adams Blvd. I’m on board, Douglas Adams got it, wrote great stories, and did good things. My only request is that we get to call my street (NE 40th Ave) Infinite Improbability Dr.

Fall Dwell

It’s been an interesting Fall so far. I’ve got a few fairly exciting projects in the works, and there’ve been some bizarre twists, so I’m not going to put anything on digital at this point.

But looking out the window, my mind wanders. The squirrels have been extra-busy this Fall. I’m thinking that’s an indicator that winter is coming early, and it’s going to be pretty serious about it when it shows.

The birds are out and about,

and the leaves are falling

Here’s hoping for a great ski season!

New TJs in Hollywood!!!

Continuing on this odd consumption-oriented kick I’ve been on, Trader Joes moved out of their old location and into a new one two blocks away. And it is way better. Truly, seriously an improvement. Trust me when I tell you that even though I’ve not been closer than 100′ from the new location. Because the old location sucked eggs bigtime. It was cramped way beyond cat-swinging range. That many Joe’s shoppers packed that tightly just radiate bad mojo, and I feel it and it makes me want to go outside and sit on the curb and sulk, alone with the package of tamales that I managed to snag, holding it, realizing that I hadn’t paid and that I really really don’t want to wait in that line and do I really want the tamales that bad when I can go get cheaper better ones at Taqueria Don Pancho and so I drift into a pit of nihilistic despair I don’t care about the tamales or the lines or that I’m on Sandy Blvd on my knees beating the paved earth grinding the chicken tamales into my forehead yelling wishing (but not caring!) hearing some bad beats mixed with that weirdass happy Trader Joe’s music.

And the angels dropped from the heavens and delivered a new Trader Joes and the people rejoiced and bought stuff.

Naughty filthy Ikea

Not really, but metroblogging has the dirt on Portland’s Ikea installation. Honestly, I’ve been looking forward to getting an Ikea for quite awhile now, and now that the date is almost here, I’m starting to look at my closets and corners just a bit differently.

Long ago I linked to Defective Yeti’s genius Ikea Walkthrough (at The Morning News). Here it is again for the local Portlanders.

A bunch of folks seem upset about the new big box store. Well, it’s an unfortunate reality. At least Ikea has some sense of corporate responsibility. It rates strongly for environmental concerns, employee and women’s rights, and they are trying to integrate with our transportation ideals.

As Portlanders we need to continue supporting our local businesses. I proudly have never spent a dime in a Wal-Mart, though I’ve sucked conditioned air in a couple (sadly, I believe that I have spent some cash at some of their other-brand locations. It’s so hard to keep track of who owns who). We have such a great environment, with so many local businesses and craftspeople offering unique goods, it is one thing that keeps Portland strong and unique.

But, the big box store has a place. But remember to swing by your local hardware store before hitting Home Depot (Do it Best is awesome…the folks are helpful way above and beyond any reasonable expectation. Beaumont location, for my experience, but I hear good things about the others). Nothing pisses me off more than somebody proudly proclaiming the money they saved by going to a local store, getting assistance, trying things out, and then going to a discount place for the purchase. Well, there’re a lot of more serious issues than that, but try not to do it! That’s what the small businesses are all about, and you need to fulfill your part of the social contract as well.

Now, there’s the argument about location. Where the heck do you want the Ikea to go? Probably to hell, I suppose. But out there by the airport seems perfect. There’s the Cascade Station, which looks like it was intended to be a bit like the development area near St. Johns. Nice public transportation, lots of land, and such. Perfect for a place that’s going to get a lot of traffic. Out of the way, accessible in several ways, lots of land, and an airport for a neighbor.

So, when you go to Ikea, get some good stuff. But remember the places like Storables (somewhere near NW 14th and Couch) that also sell nifty little plastic cubes.

Snow fun

This video of mayhem in downtown Portland is ridiculous.  Hoping that nobody got hurt.  I think this is in the hills above the MAC.  Why oh why?

Beer in the Skidmore?

Could it be true?  Word on the street is that beer will be flowing from the Skidmore fountain in about 10 minutes….3pm, September 22.  I haven’t found any real confirmations, but a lot of rumors and such.  And me bound to the house. arrrr!  Always the bridesmaid, never the fratboy doing a kegstand over the Skidmore Fountain.

Roller Derby – Season 1 Night 1

I’ve written about the roller derby before.  And here it is again.   Last time was an exhibition.  This weekend, these ladies were for real.  The league has begun, and they kicked ass.  The Rose City Rollers is Portland’s roller derby league, and it is currently comprised of 4 teams:  sweet Breakneck Betties, ritzy High Rollers, compassionless Heartless Heathers, and the evil Guns ‘n Rollers.  Sometime since the exhibition match these ladies became athletes.  They kicked ass before, but on Saturday they took the sport to a level Portland has not seen in decades.

The event was classic Portland, with the Last Regiment of Syncopated Drummers opening with the tunes, just following a stellar display of skate(wo)manship by the MC diva as she danced seductively atop a wood platform supported by Zoo Bomber ‘hunks’ in leetle skivvies.  The national anthem was uh performed by the Elvis Impersonator mascot of the Breakneck Betties.  And the halftime show consisted of some LRSD music, the zoo bombers acting entertainingly like nuts, and some pretty talented ladies doing a synchronized bicycle dance that was mesmerizing.  Props to the DJ as well, who played an appropriate blend of tunes.  If I get motivated I’ll grab my program and update this post with the people’s names.

So, the skating was far more fast-paced, skillful, and violent this time.  But still friendly.  It was excellent, and I was happy to see some new ladies step up.  Previously, I’ve given call-out props to the likes of Goody Two Skates, Izo Easy, November Pain, and Vominatrix.  This time, many more of the ladies stepped it up.  On my favorite team, the Hearless Heathers, I was ecstatic to see many of the ladies kicking serious ass.  Of note, Sump Pump was seriously kickass.  She owned the jam when she was jammer.  Sol Train rocked, she had talent before, but she’s channeled speed that I hadn’t seen before, and ran through the competition time and time again.  Lastly, my buddy D-Day found her self.  Found herself kicking ass, that is!  I’d say she had by far the most solid slingshots of the night, and worked well as pivot with her blockers to shutdown the offense.  Congrats on the come from behind victory ladies!

I have difficulty picking a favorite team because I know all the ladies are out there busting ass and having fun.  It’s so obvious it’s a blast.  I’m so impressed at what they’ve accomplished (with their coaches/managers/supporters/sponsors).  The place was packed and fun, and it was actually possible to get a beer in under 5 minutes.  They might want to bring in some port-o-janes for the ladies though.

Now is the time for me to repeat my gripe from last time.  It’s not cool to keep giving the strongest newcomers to the Guns ‘n Rollers.  Death Trish was speedy almost like November Pain.  Save it for the national team, share the wealth.  The High Rollers did a great job of battling it out in the first half of the match, but they simply could not match the depth of jammers that the Guns ‘n Rollers had.  In any case, all the High Rollers played a fantastic bout and I cheered my ass off for you.  Same goes for the Breakneck Betties.  Y’all rock.  cheers!

UP Women’s Soccer

Yay ladies! You kick ass! I love looking at the little school comparisons…everyone you play is like 10x your size. And you bust their chops. Drop a line if you ever want to setup a scrimmage…my men are down. Y’all outclass us, but I think it’d be a fun match.

Update: I heard on NPR that there’ll be a celebration at Pioneer Square today (Friday) around noon (or slightly before). Way to go ladies…keep on smilin’!

Blue Oregon

Pretty sweet, a number of the more active local bloggers on local issues have put together Blue Oregon. So far it’s looking like a pretty darn good spot for editorial, and looking forward to it as a solid source for localish news. Check it out, it’s on the sidebar for future use.