Wednesday, December 21, 2005


So I have this situation where I'm going out to dinner with someone and they've recommended a really crappy restaurant. Without going into details, I'm not in a position to say, "Why would you pick a corporate soulless crappy restaurant next to the freeway in big-box retail hell?"

I'm just thinking that wouldn't go over very well. So here I am in Portland, a city brimming with fantastic local restaurants, all with energy and soul and really good beers and I'll be sitting in deep fried mysery listening to the muffled rush of freeway traffic. And I'll probably be drinking, at best, a Michelob.

And given its proximity, I'll end up driving there.

i am *not* insane

I always thought it was really dumb that the winter solstice is the first day of winter. In my view, the shortest day of the year should be precisely the midpoint of winter. all of the shortest days should be grouped together as winter. Instead, the first day of winter is, in essence, the beginning of the march towards more and more daylight.

My way is better. The rest of the world seems to agree.

btw, happy solstice!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

up down up down

Ben said he wanted to draw "a up down up down."

He draws them all the time now and will usually cry when he wants to draw one but we don't let him because it's bedtime or dinnertime or whatever.

So, any guesses what he's drawing?

Thursday, December 15, 2005

straight lines

{rant} So I'm cutting drywall and a piece is off a bit. I cut another and that one is off as well. I measure several points along the surface but each segment drawn with my level has a slight curve. I'm creating subtle scalloped lines. The level is not slipping and if I flip it over, thus expecting now a convex arc, is still concave with another identical scallop. I work out that the plastic level is flexing as I cut. On the one hand, I'm angry that someone would sell such a hunk of crap. On the other, I'm happy to have found the source of my inability to get it right.

I now own two additional high-end pieces of equipment. A drywall specific aluminum straight-edge and a bomber aluminum level with a rotating bubble. I hate crappy equipment. Of course now, if I'm off for any reason, I have nobody to blame.{/rant}


one of Benjamin's favorite pastimes is to get his tricycle (ahem cross tricycle) up to full speed, and... head down, blaze straight into a wall. BANG!!! He finds this terribly funny. He will then say, to no one in particular, "A...gain" and repeat, giggling all the while. We insist he wears his helmet.

Monday, December 05, 2005


ben "I'm spilling my yogurt"
ben "why am i spilling my yogurt"

and later

"I want THIS KIND of yogurt [cry]" ben
"OK, Ben, here's the yogurt you want." dad
"Why did you get me that yogurt?" ben

Over and over and over again.

Why? I don't know.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Ben doesn't understand the concept of bonus. Or, maybe the more salient point is daddy can't seem to grasp that Ben's not really ready to appreciate the bonus. Let me explain. The bedtime rule is this: You eat dinner, get a bath, brush teeth, eat a vitamin, and read TWO books.

So this is a nice time for me as I really love it when Ben nestles into me and I read to him. So I read one, then two. I then tell Ben that we're going to do something extra special and read a bonus book. This special treat is really for me but he wants another book so everybody's happy. But he assumes that the bedtime starting point is 2+1 at a beginning negotiating point. It's not, "Thanks daddy for the bonus book, boy am I lucky." Instead it's a screaming rant for, and I quote, "fourbooksfivebookssixbooksseveneightninetenbooks!"

So tonight I was very clear that we're getting two books and we're done with no ambiguity. The result: a peaceful bedtime. So Dad learns something new. I'll try the bonus technique when he's a little older and can appreciate the fact that he's getting something beyond what is due. I'm thinking he will be about 27 before this works as I envision but I'll keep on trying.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Mt Hood has gotten lots of snow this fall... really!

Has Christmas jumped the shark?

A NPR story just talked about how the latest thing is to display your Christmas tree upside-down. So I propose that Christmas has decidedly run out of ideas and, hence, has jumped the shark. If you're not familiar with the term...

Monday, November 07, 2005

Actual Time 6:58 AM PST 4:48 PM PST

That would be the sunrise/sunset statistic. And then there's this one.

Length of Day
9h 49m
Tomorrow will be 2m 39s shorter.

Ugh ... it's payback for the endless summer. I biked back from the coffeehouse and it was *brisk*... winter is here. OK, not technically which brings me to my next thing.

It is only recently that I realized how the seasons work. I just assumed that the equinoxes and solstices were midpoints of the seasons. I realize now that I'm off by half a season. It seems odd to me that winter starts at the solstice. It would make more sense to me if the shortest day of the year is exactly mid winter and the longest day is mid summer. What can I tell you, as a kid I thought a florist was the guy who installs your hardwood floors.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Burnin' down the house - db

Asked to describe Bush's mood, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said: "The president is continuing to focus on the work we've got to get done."

hoo haa

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

bad luck

"I wonder if she really meant five minutes when she said five minutes" I think to myself as I stare at the blue plastic door. If she's right then I probably have under three left at this point. I need to stand up and get out. I finish up and exit. While holding the door for the next person I give him an apologitic look. There's nothing to say that doesn't just make matters worse. I really need to move now. I jump on my bike and blaze to the start line. I roll up to one of the race officials and give them my info. "Hi yeah, I registered just a minute ago. I'll be racing single speed, here's my..."

The announcer interrupts through the sound system, "And the race has begun."

I continue, " ... my race number. Thanks." I roll to the horde about to start. The announcer cuts in again, "Fifteen seconds to go." For this race they group the B-level riders and the single speed riders into one heat separated by one minute. So from the moment I woke up until this moment, I spared only fifteen seconds. Wouldn't have been as tight except for I remembered to bring my race tag with my race number emblazoned upon it about fifteen minutes into my drive to the venue. At least there are no pre-race jitters. Instead it's a "here we go" inevitability and ambivalence to it all. I roll out with the group and the race indeed has begun.

Without training at all this season, the races are simply punishment. I pick my way through the some riders and get into a rhythm. In my previous race I was wishing the race to end by the halfway point. This time I feel pretty good ... this is my kind of course. The collective voice of the racers call this a "mountain-bike style course." which suits me perfectly. This translates into a few small hills, narrow twisty tight singletrack and a few obstacles that I can jump where others have to dismount and carry. Many of these riders are roadies getting muddy so the have little skill and instead rely upon strength. I have to rely on skill and caffeine because strength comes with training and...

With two and a half laps to go I really lay it on. The traffic is lighter and my speed is dictated by my bike handling versus some slow rider blocking my way. So I'm ripping and just loving it until...

I get stuck behind this random guy who simply cannot get it together. He flops over and I can't get around him. He does it again for no apparent reason and I nearly crash into him again. The bike flips up and somehow I fall back instead of on top of the guy. Then we come to a stair section and why I'm still behind this guy is a mystery of slow motion suffering. He dismounts and starts walking like it's an elderly group heading home from Sunday brunch. The guy bonks me in the head with his bike in the process. At this point I can finally get around him. During this process of me making every possible error to stay behind this tool, I get passed by a dozen or so guys. If I had cleanly passed this person, I would have made a good go of this race finishing somewhere in the top half. Instead the momentum is gone and I try to get the fire started again.

Why does my bike sound like an eighteen wheeler braking through the Sierras? I've got this metal on metal horrible sound. I peel off to inspect the wheels. I unclip the rear brake rendering it inoperable. This is the most likely culprit for such a sound. Brakes are overrated...go fast I think to myself. I go another twenty yards and the sound is still there. The rear wheel isn't turning easily. The bearing seem to have seized.

I carry the dead equipment off the course and I hang my head. I'm out. It's done. I pick up the bike and carry it to the booth where they're giving out really good free coffee and drown my sorrows as I skulk home.

At home, with the bike on the bike stand, I remove the wheel and adjust the bearings. It's now as smooth as butter. Why this seizing happened I'll never know. The mechanical failure was coincident with the crash with the frustrating Sunday brunch rider. While it's my fault for whatever bike maintenance failure took place and all the poor decisions that put me behind himt, I still find it in my heart to blame *him* ... at least partially and irrationally for the outcome. Come next race I'll pass him and never look back.

Monday, October 10, 2005


but not *that* slow. Cross race #2 results are in. You need to click on the 5th page as I cannot link directly. Single speeding is good fun. These results involve a training strategy of sitting in an office chair and maybe a little gardening. While the season is less than half way done, I'm thinking about next season when, if I actually try, I could have a real chance at getting results with swag associated.

One thing that I know could shave LOTS of time would be to learn how to run beyond the speed of a grandmother with a cane. I often feel the wooosh of wind as others pass me during the carry sections. I'm realllly bad. What I need (for next season) is the equivalent of torque. I need to be able to accelerate the legs while slopping through thick gooey mud with a bike on my shoulder. Ugh

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


ok... i LIED about not posting. This is partly my ranting board so here's one for today:

Hairbender espresso blend is far-and-away the best. Everything else is either a not-close second or a sad "please bury me with lots of milk" grade product.

What is it with the collective other roasters? I visited a promising place Tuesday with its Probat roaster sitting in all of it's steam train styled glory. If Hairbender is a full delicious cabernet, then this was one of those off spanish reds that was left in the sun too long and sold for $3.99 at Trader Joe's as a result.

I like to try new beans from promising roasters but time and time again I relegate them to the "backup bean" canister inside of a dozen shots and refresh the hopper with more Hairbender.

I know... who cares?


Any Community Cafe devotees are certainly bored with the absence of posts. Just an update to say that such minimal posting will continue for another week. Check back after that for some great pumpkin patch photos and other random goodies. Until then maybe YOU can post something interesting going on in YOUR life in response.

Thursday, September 22, 2005





(If you're a parent, this needs no further explanation)

Thursday, September 15, 2005

First day of school Posted by Picasa

First day of school

Ben had his first day of school this Monday. Seriously... SCHOOL. It was only moments ago that his only words were "bucca bucca bucca". The next thing that will happen is that the boy's going to ask me for the car keys to go on a date. Ben's super cool. I typically read a few books and negotiate fewer while he negotiates more books. Tonight I read a few more just because I like hanging out with him.

btw you can click on the image for a larger view.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


The eggs are back...both the blues and browns.

The EuroVan is really fast *and* has some serious performance handling features like anti-slip (during acceleration) and course correction when the steering wheel position doesn't match what the van is actually doing. Fancy stuff typically found on high zoot sedans. Haven't tried either of these but nice to know that they're there. Oh, and the thing is HUGE. It transported a bale of hay today.

The boys are getting bigger and more interesting. Benjamin's inventing new words. His latest thing that he repeated *all* *day* is "Fire Tu F-oh-ka" ... The best part is that he asks US what it means. "No idea Ben, you invented it."

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Forlorn hens

Hen's are on strike. The duck isn't talking either. We're all getting a little nervous around here. It has been 7 days since we've had eggs. Would somebody tell us what's going on?

Click Clack Bok, Clickity Clack Bok.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

livin' large

Don't you wish that YOU could be having this for dinner.

bdog approved

Benjamin digs the pimpy fresh ride.

No sleep till Portland...Portland!!!

Some of you will get the B-Boys reference. The sled is in the houuuse. Given the time they picked it up from Texas... they literally did not sleep. They barely had enough time to refuel and eat. Well done.

The shiny Eurovan that started with a simple "Buy it now" click has arrived. Looks to be in near new condition. I've driven it around the block and it has LOTS of power. And it's huge. Road trips will be super fun. Suh Wheat.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


The EuroVan is on the way. Arrival date still TBD but it's on a big truck rolling through... probably New Mexico at the moment.

"Buy it Now!"

Monday, August 29, 2005

blog battle

it seems that the spammers have crept into the blog world. I've deleted two off this extremely low visibility site. So apologies for the word verification (if you post then you'll see).

On another note... MAX is huge. I can barely lift the guy. His ped visit today will confirm just how much he's growing from a percentile perspective. I measured 14lbs/24".

And finally... xing our fingers for our good friends Eithne & Taylor who's freshly remodeled home is in New Orleans. Hope it's not in the bottom of the bowl.

Oh... one more thing, speaking of remodeling, I now have a wall bisecting my office from the other side of the garage. Slowly it's all coming together. Next phase: Cobb construction walls inside for insulation and thermal mass.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


People press the [submit] button to purchase things online all the time. Sometimes people are scared others are not. I've long since grown used to the friendly [submit] button and probably shop online as much as anyone when things cannot be found locally. Today, however, the nerves are slightly rattled as I pressed the magic submit option for a $17,000 "Buy it now" purchase on eBay. It's kind of insane that, with just a few clicks, a major transaction has been committed. The Volvo goes away and the VW Eurovan is on its way. Bought sight unseen from Texas, it should arrive... well I have no idea when it'll get here but at some point a shiny big machine will appear.


Thursday, August 11, 2005


Define heaven for yourself...

So there I was having a reasonably nice dinner with collegues on business travel. That was good and I was driving back to the hotel when I saw the flash of shiny cloth taking up a full city block. I swerved off the city street into a parking spot, got out, and walked towards the shimmering material.

The biggest convention in SLC is underway. "Outdoor Retailer" is a twenty thousand person strong event where manufacturers and buyers get together to make deals. All the outdoor brands you've heard of (and many you haven't) are here. Surely the REI buyer gets plennnnty of attention. So it's a place where you'll find not-yet-available outdoor gear.

mmmmmMMMMMMmmmmmmMMMMMMMMmmm gear

So I was creeping around a tent city where each one represented the best innovation the builders could produce. North Face, MSR, Kelty, Mtn Hardware ... they were all there and the stuff looked amazing. The materials look thinner and lighter with a shimmering translucent look, the designs abandon tradition and symmetry. Some of it may be flash for flash's sake but much of it is really great stuff. My tent was absent from the line-up but it's not new after all. It was really cool to see. Kelty has what looks like a 1 person single pole pyramid that will be insanely light and comfortable. I need to get back into that stuff.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

PDX coffee people sucks

While I don't plan on getting a lawyer... I've been burned (literally) by every drink that coffee people have served me. And it tastes like crap. I have smugly walked past the starbucks in order to go to the small(ish) local chain. Too bad they suck.

Stuck in Salt Lake City for the duration of this week. I really don't like being away from the family, especially that Amy person.

Speaking of the torture of travel... after having a nasty high-fat workday where lunch was a pile of fried fish -n- chips and dinner (while not fried) wasn't much better... I then channel surf only to watch "Super Size Me." I tuned in right as he's puking out of his truck. If you haven't seen the movie, you need to. It's the true story of a guy who eats nothing but McDonalds food for an entire month. There are a few other bits to it, like he doesn't allow himself to walk more than the national average which is shockingly low btw. Oh, and if the cashier asks if he wants to SuperSize his meal, he has to say YES.

If that doesn't make you sick then I don't know what will.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Hi Ben, "What are you doing in the bathtub?"

So Benjamin's little brain is accelerating. @2years5months he's all of the sudden developed some impressive logical deduction skills along with speech to match... oh and an imagination. The title of this post was what Ben said in the voice of a plastic fish. Ben spoke on behalf of the plastic fish (which does not actually make any noise). So this means many things. First, he's personified the fish. Second, the fish is speaking to Ben with a bit of social skill, first with a greeting followed by a question. The quote is simple enough but if you look at the constructs to get there, it's quite amazing.

Then he freaked out when in bed. I was refilling his water bottle when he screamed, "Need to take a shower" followed by, "Dirty again" (which he wasn't). He never saw the shower but we talked about taking one earlier instead of a bath. He must have done a visual association with me filling the water bottle and the view of the shower which triggered that memory and then the request. He's never watched me fill water into his bottle in the bathroom but I leave and he hears water and deduces that it's coming from the sink. That's probably not as interesting a development but the overall framework that's being wired in his head is hard to even conceptualize even at this age.


Throw the moldy crap out of the frig and into the coop. Place eggs from coop back into the frig.


so blue

Behold the blue that I'm feelin'

Chi is inspecting her handiwork.

Saturday, July 30, 2005


it's all about numbers these days.

I think about how I have a family here... A family of four. That's pretty cool. Tonight we had a perfect dinner in both content and company. The company being the four of us. While MAX isn't a great conversationalist yet, he will be soon. I anxiously await a dynamic of four personalities. Benjamin will make Max laugh, we might laugh at the both of them laughing. We'll all be telling stories knowing our audience is simultaneously someone young and someone old with a young/old floater depending upon who is talking. It'll be so much fun to have this kind of thing going on in my house.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

8 & 1/2 hours

so everything was cool (aka jiggy) as we headed to the airport. I arrived at the rental car dropoff where the guy noticed a smallish upwardly protruding dent in the trunk. Such a dent could only be caused by slamming the trunk upon large pointy luggage. My luggage being neither large nor pointy could not have done this. So I fill out a stupid [expletive] form that takes me ~5 minutes. I check into my 8:30 pm flight and all is swell except I have to suffer through three and a half hours in the airport. I look for an earlier flight and miss the 5:15 flight by, oh... about ~5 minutes.

The 8:30pm flight has been delayed. We'll now call it the 1:30am flight. That's eight & a half hours in this airport. You'd think I'd write a wittier or longer or somehow more brill post to the blog 'cause i got nothin' but time. Alas I'm surly and worked so all you get is the rant. grrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Amy's the best person in the whole wide world

All of the riding that I did would not have been possible without the endless generosity of my wonderful Amy.

7 and 3

Two great numbers in cycling


If that needs explanation then you're living under a rock.

The 3, however, might need clarification. Three is the number of rides I managed to do in three days. This is nearly a miracle when Max is a little over three weeks old. Day one was a two hour sprint where I made it from 15th/Fremont NE across town and over the bridge to the Forest park trailhead in ... 17 minutes. pain. Day two was an epic in the mountains on the singlespeed. Seven mountains were in view (Jefferson, Hood, Adams, St Helens, Sisters (1,2,3) along with wildflowers and other insane beauty. Riding a single speed on such a big hill is positively idiotic for someone who doesn't have any significant mileage this season.

Continuing with the insanity was day three: a short track after work bike race. Thirty minutes of pain. Again racing with little training. My tongue was dragging along the ground. I did beat both my friends who are riding far more than I am. They had their excuses and I chose well from the quiver by riding the cross bike. So they certainly ARE stronger but sometimes it's strategery [sic] and luck that wins the day.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Bye Rock

Sadly one of our hens started crowing like a rooster out of the blue. This sound poses a problem and thus Rock has been sold to a farm for $4. The customer facing conference call this morning was saved through use of the mute button. Otherwise I'd have to explain the loud cock-a-doodle-doo crackling through the phone.

Rock we will miss you and your eggs. Hope you enjoy your new digs.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

los dos

Number two otherwise known as MAX is a delight. While he's more similar than not in comparison to a young two week old Benjamin, he's a ton more fun. Why? The parent's perspective has changed. With B-Dog, it was, "Now what? What does that sound mean? Should we call a doctor? How do I hold him? Is he eating enough? Is that how poop is supposed to look? Why is he crying?"

Now we're old pros at this and, while exhausting, it's easier to focus on him versus his condition. We know what to filter. We know what's urgent and what really isn't. So it's a great time and we're all very happy.

Ben's on a roller coaster where he gets surly and needy but then bounces back and just wants to play with blocks. He's shown nothing but affection for his baby brother. Mister Benjamin is truly TWO as he's testing every boundary there is. The interesting thing is that he responds to and even *likes* having the boundaries. Sure we've read that but to see it in action is cool.

Amy's mom Betsy has been helping us tremendously with all tasks and will be here another week. We're pretty much screwed when she's gone.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

nothing says love like being surrounded by trains

Amy says:
so I was doing something in the kitchen
and Benjamin was playing on his own

Charlie Wicker-Community Cafe says:
and then...

Amy says:
and I went to get Max, who was on the couch

Amy says:
and he was surrounded by Ben's trains.

China's "Progress"

excerpt from article on China's economic and environmental situation
Bicycles, once the main mode of transportation, now are forbidden on many principal avenues in big cities. Bicycle lanes and sidewalks have been sacrificed in many places to allow more road space for autos.
Couldn't be worse.

Saturday, July 02, 2005


The tour [de france] is upon us and LANCE has shown his cards on the opening day time trial. He put a minute of hurt on his nearest threats in a 12k time trial. What could be more perfect than hanging out with MAX watching the tour. Hell, we'll be awake anyway at 5am Pacific.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


8pounds 1.7ounces
June 28, 2005
4:07PM Pacific
Sorry no picture yet but he's already proving himself to be as cool as B-Dog. He's one skinny strong guy. His legs are already TDF grade strong. It took me forever to muscle past those legs to install the tiniest little diaper. Pics up soon.

Max & Amy are recovering nicely. I, however, am in a dire state from lack of sleep and good coffee. In other words... I am a wuss. amen.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Taking espresso to an entirely insane level. Yes the analysis has begun. You can expect even better drinks from the cafe. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

This gauge might is akin to an EKG where a zero reading = flatline. Given we're near the green, the cafe's alive and the patrons are delighted! Happy day Posted by Hello

unplanned expenses

The Volvo died with a potential up to $2000 repair bill. It has been 100% dependable until Thursday when it did something ugly. I made it home and successfully drove it to the repair shop but things were dire. Sadly the repair logic is as follows:

If cost of repair + predicted future repairs is [less than] value of car [minus] value of car in broken state [then] one logically must do the repair.

I.e $2000 + 0 < $4500 - ~$1000

The broken state value is calculated in to introduce the option of simply walking away from the car selling it to the shop for parts. The difficulty in predicting future repairs is also an uncomfortable guess. The one extremely frustrating fact that this calculation applies to TODAY and has nothing to do with yesterday. For example, I get car back this week. Transmission explodes the following Monday for $2500. I need to calculate based upon that repair only. The history may feel relevant but it is not. It might make sense to plug in a default $500 into the future repair field, thus:

$2000 + $500 < $4500 - ~$1000

Still evaluates true.

An independent question is whether the car gets sold after the repair because of the $500 placeholder's variability or the general trust of the machine. Simply put, I trust the 240 volvo to run dependably for a loooong time despite this unfortunate incident.

Monday, June 20, 2005

They're here.... :^) Posted by Hello

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


If you're reading this please take the 15 seconds to post a reply. Use the anonymous option but throw in your name into the reply. On occasion I get, "Yeah, I read that on your blog the other day" but I have no idea what my readership is. I know that I'm certainly wasting time on this thing but I'd like to get an idea of *how* pointless it all is. Thanks.

Monday, June 13, 2005

scarcity & season

Everybody loves blueberry pie. This is a universal truth. Armed with this knowledge I considered the fact that at any given moment, say the dead of winter, I can have a blueberry pie.

Seriously... isn't that great?


Crazy? Perhaps but there is one thing better than blueberry pie... the anticipation of blueberry pie. It's the scarcity that makes things interesting, makes things worthwhile, makes us actually happy. Having all the stuff all the time isn't really helpful at all. Sure it seems like 27/7/365 access to blueberry pie would be pretty much perfection but it just makes it ordinary.

There's an interesting statistic that wealth has no correlation to happiness in children and adults. There is a minimum threshold to this, abject poverty for example. But beyond that, there is no correlation... none.

There is a particular kind of magic in living within the seasons, waiting for certain produce to be harvested from less than 100 miles away. I explicitly choose to do this which is kind of sad. It would be more interesting if there was some challenge, some effort, some hardship in getting things from faraway lands and items out of season. Climbing to the top of the mountain is one million times more satisfying than pulling over at the scenic overlook for the same view.

Which brings me back to the blueberry pie. The farmer's market is rumored to have blueberries coming soon. But you've got to get up early because they sell out quick.

Friday, June 10, 2005


the machine at the cafe is now hard plumbed meaning water comes directly from the house plumbing versus a little refillable plastic jug thing. With over 40 individual junctions, it was an ugly process. 40 water connections = 40 opportunities for a leak. Then there was the electricity, the pressure settings, the unexplained function, the calls to tech support...

It wasn't pretty. I've been in a particularly foul mood for the past 2+ days as a result. Coffee is one medication that I depend upon to get things done. This is problematic when the thing to get done is fixing/upgrading the machine. I had planned on dialing it at a more leisurely pace but circumstance caused it to become a firefight. It's over now and the cafe and the world is a better place.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

"Dude, it's easy"

My first real ride in well over a month. Summitting Mt Tabor is not a real ride and neither is scooting across the river to pick up fresh [coffee] beans.

"There's always a slow guy so it'll be easy"
"But I haven't been riding at all. I've been sick, we've had guests, there has been major reconstruction on the house, I was layed off, I started a new j..."
"Don't worrrrrrrrrrrry. You'll have NO problems."

Well after I crashed and burned 20 miles into a 45 mile ride, I enjoyed the being dragged by the car or, better yet, being pushed along by a 17 year old rider. When I say pushed, I don't mean drafting on his wheel, I mean his hand on my back and pushing me up all the hills.

I think when I got out of the saddle I actually decelerated.

No problem.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Quiet coffee

So I'm a freak.

Not that's out of the way, we can get to it. We all know the espresso machine at the Community Cafe is pretty nice. It is, however, a bit noisy. It also has one issue that under high load, it can run out of water. So there I am entertaining and I've got to refill the thing. Sure this only takes 2 -3 minutes but it breaks the rhythm and flow of it all. I'm trying to bang out drinks and the last thing I need is to have to stop everything. The milk gets cold, the shot is ruined. Don't even ASK if I can reheat the milk. Yes I can but I won't. We have standards here at the cafe.

So those issues are all going away. I'm investing in a proper installation for the machine. Currently what we have is a plastic reservour and a thing called a vibration pump. That little vp can crank out the 9 bar of pressure but it does this by ... well... vibrating as frantically and noisily as possible. The vibe pump and the reservour will be retired, to be replaced by some heavy hardware. Enter the rotary pump and hard plumbed system.

The nearly silent pump will hide under the sink and connect directly to the house water supply. In line filtering will also be added. This stuff aint cheap and the cost for this conversion alone is well more than a decent home espresso machine but the overall effect will be fantastic. Oh and we'll be connecting a drain system as well.

The end solution will be a simplification of the process, a quieter operation, and an ability to build drinks one after the other. So what drives this insanity? Well insanity of course but the real thing is the desire to legitimize the cafe. If one were to walk into 1000 home kitchens they'd probably find pretty much the same core items: Frig, range, dishwasher, sink. The only other items tend to be toys. Plastic toaster, crappy coffee maker, blender, etc. Everybody seems to put the appliances in their home based on unwritten code. The code says you must do things in a certain way and here are your priorities. I've never seen anyone with a, for example, separate wok burner with 30,000 btu's. It's not because it's a bad idea, it just goes against the code. For some people that would be a pointless thing but for others, it might be positively ideal. I may come across as a nut-job. Not only have I blown some serious coin for the cafe setup, I'm now taking it to another level. I may be insane but I'm happy to have broken the code.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The photo is not technically good {exposure, focus} but there's something I like about the overexposure & the boy's expression. It reminds me of the cult of Holga photographers. ((If you have no idea what I'm talking about, throw "Holga" into google.)) Posted by Hello

We've cooked *nothing* for many weeks. After nearly dying from overexposure to tater tots and pizza....Finally, I put something together. And in the nick of time. Who's Nick? Posted by Hello

Thursday, May 19, 2005

This thing is INSANE. Even with this photo it is hard to grasp how tiny it actually is. Within this tiny case are 107 songs (& it is not maxed out) an amplifier that produces impressive sound and power for 10 hours of music. It doesn't seem real. truly sweet. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

May the Farm be with you

Good stuff
Turn your sound up

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

the right thing to do

i have little choice but to post a blog entry now. You see I'm sitting at a superb Portland cafe doing work (ok not at this exact second). So in the name of being hip and connected and dialed into the scene... here I am. The magic moment happened as I paused to think and my eyes landed on a poster on the wall. Some local musical folk acoustic artist. That wasn't super cool but what I did next was kinda dialed. I keyed her web address {} and had a quick look.

It's good to get out every once in a while. Running on battery so I'll be working for 64%, or for an additional 2 hours 14 minutes. No wires.

Monday, May 16, 2005

I'm IN

So this world of media technology... it's all destined for the landfill so I avoid much of it. Plus the cutting edge stuff is always expensive and rarely worth it. We're less than three year vetarans of the DVD player and it is a modest system at that.

So I've touched my toe into another world of technology with the smallest cheapest unit: the iPod shuffle. The purpuse was to replace the skipping CD player that allows us to ride around with Benjamin in the sidecar bike trailer. Without music, his endurance drops and we can't get to where we want to go.

But before the iPod actually arrives, I'm transitioning from the old cd based paradigm and entering an entirely more fluid way of considering music. Most technically savvy people have already uploaded their music library but here I am getting on board in short order. I can't wait to begin building up the playlists. Even without the little player, the movement of music from physical media to computer is liberating. I've already bought and downloaded the latest from Cake & Dave Matthews without anything physical. No paper for the transaction and nothing but a data stream to show for it. I finally enter the new century... five years late.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

like a lion

Benjamin says that a thunderstorm sounds like a lion. Ben likes thunderstorms. The weather radar shows a thunderstorm heading towards Portland right now. Ben's happy about that.

Saturday, May 07, 2005


This is a statement directed at all manufacturers who spec crappy hardware. Hey I paid a lot of money for product X, please... PLEASE throw down the extra 7c to put in a decent set of screws and such. Stripped broken screws, hollow tin wing-nuts, it's all just sad and wrong and turns installation into a frustrating pain.

Props to IKEA... those guys throw in solid machined pieces and everything is a joy to construct. OK joy may be a stretch but for the rest of you... be more like IKEA.

ok then.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

bad coffee part II

This rant will be {kinda} brief. So one obvious reason that espresso is, on the whole, not made very well is because the staff doesn't know what they're doing. To mitigate this, the owner needs to either hire better staff or take the intelligence out of the equation. Hence Starbucks move to full automatic machines. A machine made coffee is like a machine built bicycle wheel. It works but the handmade is much nicer in the right hands.

So I decide to get an espresso with my gelato last pm and they have semi automatic machines. This means that the flow of water handled by pressing a button with an icon for one cup, two cups, etc. I order a double and she puts a cappucino cup {error #1, cup way too big} under the spouts. She grinds and hits the #2 button. All is well and what's coming out actually looks quite good. She peers into the cup and then....

... presses the button again.

"Noooooooooo" I say frantically, "that's good. That's good. I'll take it as is." She's not happy but it's hard to care. They dumbed down the system so the staff wouldn't make errors and then staff goes out of their way to make a huge error. She would have turned a decent drink into a puddle of nasty bitter dreck.

[Footnote] One might call me extremely particular (not a compliment) that I would notice or care about the cup size but, hey... it does. An espresso is a delicate fleeting thing. It tastes decidedly better within the first 45 seconds of its life and degrades rapidly. It's best to finish it inside of 3-4 minutes. To speed up its death, put it in a cold big cup and it's already sub optimal and not nearly as hot even before you get it. So there it is. If you go to a top notch cafe, you'll notice that they preheat the tiny cup with hot water and you tend to get your espresso without even a moment's delay. As the last dribble lands, they're handing it to you. That's because they get it.

So much for this being short. :^S

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Everybody's been asking about them so here they are roosting for the evening. The old expression is true, they *always* come back to roost. 2-1/2 months old, aka eggs minus 3-1/2...tick tock. Posted by Hello

The office. Garage opening a bit more civilized. Total cost < $300 Posted by Hello

good coffee

amen to being home again. of course it's the family that I miss most. we crept up to peek at the boy sleeping.

The chilly garage-office has never looked so sweet. But now, it's sporting sophisticated heating with remote control! Fancy

We're in "oh crap, guests are coming" mode. Which translates loosely into, "Clean this room and that room and the other room. Move this furniture, rearrange that furniture. Oh we'll need to vacuum there again." Projects and guests don't mix that well. Fortunately the big one is mostly done and the tools can be stashed. This is what is known as perfect timing. The visit itself will be fabulous.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

bad coffee

When travelling...

Other than, oh I don't know, missing my family, the one thing that hurts my head most of all is the bad coffee. It's really not that hard to make a decent cup. It doesn't cost more really. It's a simple application of quality standards for technique, ingredients, and machine tuning. Put another way, all the proprieter needs to do is care and try just a little.

I've been making drinks out of my machine at for about two years and I surpassed all but the very very best shops after only a few months. This timeframe would obviously be compressed to mere days given the volume of drinks that go through a commercial establishment. You'd think that at least 1 in 5 people behind the coffee bar would just work as hard as they can to build the best possible drinks. You'd think they'd do it purely to take pride in what they do. Hell, I've witnessed the toll-booth collector making sure the bills are all pointed in the same direction. Can we please spread the coffee culture beyond Portland/Seattle (& that boot shaped country)? I mean really, should the rest of the country suffer at the hands of Starbucks? Do it for the children.

Sunday, April 24, 2005


Charlie, "...The End"
Ben, "again!"
Charlie, "But we've read 'Chicka Chicka Boom Boom' THREE times already!!!"
Ben, "Read it four times?"

He's a demanding boy. Clever but demanding.
Traveling all week. The blog is closed. The cafe is closed. OK... the cafe is only serving Chai. See you next week.

Friday, April 22, 2005

i know

i know what people want... pictures. sorry

too lazy and too busy for the moment. so alas, text will have to suffice.
Acronym for the day: mods - Middle Of (the) Day Shoppers... mods.

The mods are an ungainly group. The mods touch all the vegetables and always... ALWAYS pay by check. Said check always, always requires something extra written on it because it's missing data. And mods NEVER bring their own pen. Why would they? They wouldn't... because they're mods. Avoid shopping when the mods are out and about. Sure 5-7pm primetime shopping is hectic but at least everyone's competent. They know the drill. People don't block traffic with their carts and quickly scoot past your field of vision when you're choosing the correct salt-and-vinegar chips or the best olives to go with that bread. And they quietly excuse themselves for doing so. Perfect. It's a fabulous dance and nobody's stepping on my toes.

And the pizza's fresh.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

This one goes to eleven

The community cafe has gone beyond traditional whole milk and is now proud to announce non-homogenized "cream on top" whole milk. This takes drinks to a new level.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

One and a half

Our house turns one-and-a-half today. This afternoon I completed half of the full bath ... so we now have 1.5 bathrooms. Happiness is not having to navigate stairs in the middle of the night for a glass of water. Next I'll tile up the shower and then it'll be fully functional.

All of this slows to a near stop because tomorrow is day one of my new job. I'll be busy and spent in the near term.

btw, The NE Cup-&-Saucer restaurant has the best home fries in town. word.

Monday, April 11, 2005

E Lec Tricity

The bathroom is wired. Literally. I got to say that there's nothing quite as scary as being anywhere near the main electrical lines heading into the house at the breaker box. That's where you have no safety features of any kind. It's just you and the endless amperage of the grid. Yikes. You know all went smoothly given I'm here typing this blog update.


Sunday, April 10, 2005

Riding Ben's namesake because we missed him so ;^) Posted by Hello

The only tech section (& it was pretty tame) Posted by Hello

Riding for two Posted by Hello

Perfect weekend

If you know us then you've certainly heard the waxing about a weekend riding here or a weekend camping there, etc. But THIS weekend was the mac daddi to top all weekends.

Lets go back two Tuesdays ago to get the whole picture. The first conference call of the workday went smoothly enough. The next conference call wasn't as nice. It seems the company was downsizing and I was part of that action. I took about ten minutes to assess and then got back to work. The nature this work was strangely similar to the earlier part of the morning. I sent emails, I placed calls, I did some research. It was as if nothing changed except the clients.

Fast forward to the drive out to our resort destination. The Volvo is packed with gear: Bikes, skis, snowshoes... we're ready for whatever's out there. The one thing that is missing is Ben who is being taken care of by friends for the weekend.

After creeping through the slow traffic, my mobile phone rings and my stint at unemployment comes to an end with a verbal offer. The company is superb, the people are brilliant and they're happy to have me continue telecommuting from Portland. This great news is the icing on the cake. We're ready for our first weekend away from the boy (that's over TWO YEARS) with absolutely zero stress.

With all of the activity choices available, what do we choose to do the whole time? Did we ski? snowshoe? Bike? {Bike bike and bike... of course.} Perfect weather, idyllic trails that have a rhythm and flow unlike anything else. The trail designers built this specifically to maximize the pleasure of biking through endless curves over and over and over and ... local lore says that the trail is made smooth every night by gnomes. It's true.

That plus just regular things that non-parents take for granted. Seeing a movie, having dinner... so simple yet so wonderful when unincumbered by the kid. Our accomodations were swank and the 100 degree soaking pool post-ride was just over the top perfect.

Thinking big picture... the weekend allowed us to stop and think about how everything is coming together. A really great job, a place to live that feels like home, and a family direction that feels right... everything is looking pretty sweet right now. Oh, and the chickens, that's the best part of all: free eggs. Forget the rest of it, it's the free eggs.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The trio. Sadly the white one ducked behind but she got a solo photo earlier. Enjoying the new digs. Posted by Hello

THAT'S the whole point of this entire thing...right there. That's it. Posted by Hello

In you go --->>> Posted by Hello

All grown up

Not Benjamin... the chickens.
The yet-to-be-named birds are living large in the coop. They migrated from the incubator to the coop in a dramatic ceremony. The grand ceremony consisted of me picking them up and gently placing them in the coop. This followed by the ceremonial food & water followed by the ceremonial food scrap toss. Benjamin got into the game with his own tossing of the food.

Maybe we'll put in a webcam in there. The purpose would, of course, be data collection. We'd monitor worm activity and make note of time of day and which bird got the worm. Then we could finally put that age old expression to the test.

[no you're not getting a hint. If you don't know the saying then well... hmm... looks like you're stuck then.]

photos to follow

Monday, March 28, 2005


As a guy in the middle of a major renovation, I'm getting tired of the commute. All DIYers know exactly what I'm talking about. The home to HomeDepot commute. The home to the tile place commute. The home to Parr Lumber commute. The short commute to the store that doesn't have what you need immediately followed by the HomeDepot commute.

It's hell

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Oops and oops

The original work that our plumbers did was superb. The craftsmanship and speed of installation showed expertise and professionalism. Everything fell apart today. Today was the day the city's inspector came to check the plumbing and structural. Oh the stuff all passed without problem but a few mistakes were made.

We need to start from the beginning with some background info. The plumbing permit requires that any drainage system goes through a rigorous test. The test works like this. Cap off every the bottom and any connected drain and then fill the whole system with water and wait 4 hours. If nothing leaks then you pass. Easy enough right. Your plumber is who loads up the system with water until it pours out of the vent on the roof and then comes back after the inspection has taken place. Then they uncap what they capped. OK, clear on this...good.

Now the system was getting filled with water and soon would be spilling out of the roof vent. The one problem is that there was an open T fitting about three feet below in the attic. Well water started pouring out of this for about 30 seconds before Amy's panicked "WATER!!! WATER!!!" commentary could be reacted to. I shut off the fill valve probably at the same time as the plumber did at a different point.

The saturated blown in insulation and the roof below were soaked. I poked a hole with a pin into a crack and water came out...hmmm. The plumbers will sort me out for the damages and it's really not such a huge deal but a good morning it did not make.

Oh and then there was the 2nd thing. Again Amy noticed, although much more calmly, an encroaching puddle in the basement. On the phone with the plumber, he was confident that it couldn't be growing. I assumed that he was right and the existing puddle simply was spreading slightly due to the normal effects of a puddle sitting. It's a nasty basement so as long as it dries, I'm not going to worry about it. I continue about my day and go into the basement to visit the chickens when I notice that the puddle is MUCH bigger. Perplexed I investigate to find that the pipe connected to the existing bathroom lavatory is resting gently on a rubber cap. It's supposed to be connected to the pipe below. One bucket, one screwdriver, and ten minutes later I have it all sorted out and everything's fab.

The funny thing is that I can see how both mistakes could have been easily made. The existing workmanship and professionalism was so good prior to today's mayhem that I have a hard time reconciling the two. I still think these guys are good plumbers but really got it wrong today.

And Amy truly saved the day. If the water had run into the attic for three or four minutes then the damage would have been drastically different. The ceiling would have likely burst sending dirty water atop the very absorbent futon and likely taken out the computer and other furniture in the room. More importantly, my bikes in the basement might have gotten wet. Then I would have been really mad.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

(moo) Posted by Hello


Most people have a simple happiness algorithm. Rain=sad. Sun=happy. This is, of course, excluding the farmer. I find myself more like the farmer in spirit. It's finally raining here. I surprise myself with the amount that I care and the emotional response to the rain. It's as if I can feel a collective sigh of relief from the plants and the ground itself. It's the fifth day of this pattern with no end in sight. The current rains may not erase the low seasonal measurements and we may be looking at an earlier fire season. But, for now, it's a nice saturated Pacific Northwest and that's a good thing.

Monday, March 21, 2005

The bug, the bath, and the coffee

Surely each incremental bit of progress in the bathroom project generates a collective yawn so I'll spare the details and photos won't appear as often. But what's interesting is the amount of work and under what conditions it all happened. Lets set the stage... All of us are sick and have all of your favorite cold symptoms including my favorite: fuzzy head. Nothing like working with power tools in a haze. Within the course of one rainy weekend we ...

... framed up and installed a 2nd skylight that doesn't leak...yippee

... filled a construction sized massive trash bin (30 cubic yards fyi) with heavy crap. Happiness is getting rid of the previous owner's trash. Some items needed to be dismantled before removal, like the rusty yet physically connected hot water heater.

... Purchased materials/equipment to build and then built the railing. It replaces the ugliest drywall crap ever.

The bathroom is inching ever closer. Somehow sharing the pain & effort eases the pain. OK not really but what else do I have going on? There's the new coffee grinder en route but best to save that for another day. Surely THAT foreshadowing will leave you on tenterhooks. indeed.

Work work work Posted by Hello

Friday, March 18, 2005

The perfect storm

So we have a huge weekend of work ahead. There's a monster room sized trash bin that we will be filling over the weekend. There's the skylight that I'll be installing. And the best part is that it's supposed to rain all weekend. THEN the piece de resist ohhnce is that all three of us have a nasty head cold. All of this stuff is on a deadline so we have to suck it up and push through. Fun.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Oh the sweet fleeting moments

It's so nice to be thirty five. So robust, so strong, so ... sassy. Well in 87 minutes it's all down the toilet. Over thirty five, ugh. It's all downhill from here. It was fun while it lasted {sigh}

The third rail

So this bathroom project is all consuming. It has an energy of its own and the inevitability of its completion can be felt. One of the biggest subtasks of of the whole gig is installing the giant 12' rafters... three of them. They're in. They're installed. They're done. I cannot tell you the misery of being in a tiny space full of old insulation trying to power in some screws... upside down. It's all going to get easier from here. Of course by saying this I've cursed myself. More photos soon.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

The promised land. These guys ... well lets just say that you need to take a couple hours out of your day if you ever find yourself in Seattle. It will be worth it. Posted by Hello

The 2nd skylight is in. This bathroom will be all glass and awesome. The smaller skylight to the left is actually to be replaced by a bigger one to satisfy minimum ceiling height code requirements. It's all coming together Posted by Hello

Friday, March 11, 2005


The boy officially turned two. The party ran smoothly with no injuries. I call that a success. The cafe got a good workout as master barista chuck Y luv cranked out the drinks. The guests strongly prefer the Stumptown Hairbender over Espresso Vivace's Dolce. I had an espresso from our friends in Seattle and it kills me to admit this... There is no better shot than what they created. To be fair, it was called a sugar shot with sugar added before the espresso. It is meant to be consumed inside of 30 seconds from creation. Sip, sip, swirl, finish. If you haven't had an espresso from these guys then you probably don't know what espresso should taste like. The sweetness of honey, the tones of chocolate, and the essence of fruit without even a HINT of bitterness.

Here's the thing. Think of a perfectly built espresso as a house of cards built racing the clock. Everything has to be placed and balanced in a certain order and with great precision. Get any one of dozens of variables wrong and the whole thing falls down. Given that, it's safe to say most people don't have any idea that there's such a thing as a non bitter 1 to 2 ounce magic coffee drink.

A moment to rant about Starbucks. We owe them for helping educate people (for the record, I was frequenting Misha's Coffee in Alexandria VA prior to this whole starfish thing.) on the existence of something beyond folgers. For that, thanks. But for the homogenation of so many places we say with great sarcasm, thanks. Today's starfish from a drink quality perspective sucks. It's the lowest common denominator for a $3-$4 coffee drink. Their espresso quality is so far away from the experience at Vivace or Stumptown that it really needs a different category. The interesting bit is that the prices are basically the same. When on business in a foreign town for a laugh I order different drinks from them: cappucino, macchiato, latte... and no matter what I say, I receive the same drink: a milky sedate latte. The reason is more than barista ignorance in my estimation. It's that they're masking the crappy shots with enough milk so that it won't matter (enough) to be noticed by the average java jacket paper cup sippin' 'bux customer.

But enough negativity... I made a shot with the same Vivace beans that they use for espresso and generated a shot that wasn't marked with the same perfection as the in-shop experience but it was fantastic just the same. Most people do not realize that there's real human talent and mechanical precision involved in crafting an excellent espresso or cappucino. I've traveled some distance down that road but the end is far away. There is no end but I'm still pushing on. People that visit the cafe are happy to enjoy the ride.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Everybody loves a play-by-play of my life... image of dinner attached. Egg drop soup with tofu and fish cake. Also known as "refrigerator scrounge" ...  Posted by Hello

Today's adventure with the boy: OMSI. After stopping half a dozen times to see what was up with Benjamin only to realize he was singing a Cake song and not upset I realize how much I need the sidecar. Thank you REI dividend. Posted by Hello