Friday, October 31, 2008

I'll Be Seeing You

I'll Be Seeing You

World War II is slipping away, I can feel it.
Its officers are gray.
Their wives who danced at the USO
are gray, too.

Veterans forget their stories. Some lands they fought in
have new names, and Linda Venetti
who deserted the husband who raised cows
to run off with an officer
has come home to look after her mother
and work the McDonald's morning shift.
William Holden is dead,
and my mother, who knew all the words
to "When the Lights Go On Again All over the World."

"I'll Be Seeing You" by Jo McDougall from Towns Facing Railroads. © University of Arkansas Press, 1991.

From The Writer's Almanac

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The changing landscape

From "Over: The American Landscape at the Tipping Point, a collection of aerial photographs" by Alex S. MacLean, comes this image of the canals of Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station in Homestead, Florida. They “act like giant radiator to cool the water that travels 168 miles in 40 hours before it is circulated back to the condenser for reuse.” They are also part of a wildlife preserve for rare American crocodiles.

From Pruned

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Personal Finanance 101 Quiz

From The Oregonian.

Test your personal finance knowledge

Here's a sampling of questions from a 2008 questionnaire for high school students prepared by the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy. Nationwide, 6,856 seniors took the survey, with an average score of 48.3 percent.

1. Your take-home pay from your job is less than the total amount you earn. Which of the following best describes what is taken out of your total pay?
a) Social Security and Medicare contributions
b) Federal income tax, property tax, and Medicare and Social Security contributions
c) Federal income tax, Social Security and Medicare contributions
d) Federal income tax, sales tax, and Social Security contribution

2. Retirement income paid by a company is called:

a) 401(k)
b) Pension
c) Rents and profits
d) Social Security

3. Rob and Mary are the same age. At age 25, Mary began saving $2,000 a year, while Rob saved nothing. At age 50, Rob realized that he needed money for retirement and started saving $4,000 per year while Mary kept saving her $2,000. Now they are both 75 years old. Who has the most money in his or her retirement account?
a) They would each have the same amount because they put away exactly the same
b) Rob, because he saved more each year
c) Mary, because she has put away more money
d) Mary, because her money has grown for a longer time at compound interest

4. If your credit card is stolen and the thief runs up a total debt of $1,000 but you notify the issuer of the card as soon as you discover it is missing, what is the maximum amount that you can be forced to pay according to federal law?
a) $500
b) $1,000
c) Nothing
d) $50

5. Which of the following is true about sales taxes?
a) The national sales tax percentage rate is 6 percent.
b) The federal government will deduct it from your paycheck.
c) You don't have to pay the tax if your income is very low.
d) It makes things more expensive for you to buy.

6. If you have caused an accident, which type of automobile insurance would cover damage to your own car?
a) Comprehensive
b) Liability
c) Term
d) Collision

7. If you went to college and earned a four-year degree, how much more money could you expect to earn than if you only had a high school diploma?
a) About 10 times as much
b) No more; I would make about the same either way
c) A little more; about 20 percent more
d) A lot more; about 70 percent more

(Answers on previous post).

1)c. 2)b. 3)d. 4)d. 5)d. 6)d. 7)d.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Carve a Pumpkin

To carve your pumpkin Click Here. You're bound to do better than this.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Notes Notes Notes

Do you have little pieces of paper scattered around the house with notes on them? Do you have multiple lists of things to do, things to get, places to go, people to call, telephone numbers, memos, odd words, etc.? How do you organize any of this?

Here's a way to do it on the Internet in a secure way on any computer that has Internet access: Animist Notes from Michael McDonald, CEO of Worldisround.

Here is Michael's description of the features of his notes:

One Big Pile
Animist Notes is essentially one big pile of notes with two fundamental features: add and search.

Search Makes it Worthwhile
Have you ever searched your mail archive in Gmail? Ever searched Google for a page you already found in the past? Same idea. By combining a simple note-writing interface with a powerful search interface you can 'remember' all those bits of information.

Animist Notes is a Web application so that you can access your notes from any Web browser, including browsers on PDAs and smartphones. All of your data is saved, and backed up, on the Animist servers so you don't need to worry about losing your valuable data when your computer crashes.

Most blogging and note-type services are focused on publishing content to the world. This is natural for advertising-based businesses and businesses that measure their success in eyeballs.

But Animist Notes is designed for personal use. Your notes are for your eyes only. There's no need to edit, scrutinize, apologize or make your notes look presentable. Add anything and everything.

Animist Notes is also secure. Your data is stored under lock and key, with secured backups as well. You are encouraged to use the SSL-encrypted 'secure site' whenever possible to keep your password and your notes secret and safely hidden from prying eyes.

To create a User Account Click Here.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

America's 10 Coolest Public Libraries

Multnomah County Library didn't make it onto this list, but Seattle Public Library Central Branch did.

Throughout American history, the desire for libraries has inspired cities, architects and robber barons to build, not just boxes for books, but secular temples to the worship of words. Here are America's 10 coolest, from old school Beaux-Arts beauties to the airy halls of contemporary architecture." Check out America's 10 Coolest Public Libraries

Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Mo.

While the Kansas City Public Library is itself a worthy institution, it's the library car park next door that is truly cool. It looks like a giant bookshelf.

The people of Kansas City were asked to nominate books they felt represented the city. Then enormous versions of the spines of those great books -- "Romeo and Juliet," "Catch-22," "Lord of the Rings" and "Charlotte's Web" -- were used to create the exterior of the library car park. The wall is as eclectic in its tastes as the residents of the city.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Theater Revies

Do you love theater? Even though you aren't a professional critic would you like to have your say about local productions -- maybe anonymously? Check out this blog. Click Here.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Piano Roll

A friend took this photo of a man trying to roll his piano onto the Portland Streetcar. For some reason the conductor objected and left the man to roll the piano on down the street.

Harmonica at Carnegie Hall

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The economic crisis hits the road

Wanted: Your Pictures

The economic crisis hits the road.

Kevin Campbell

Yesterday morning on my way into work, I noticed a bunch of people buying lottery tickets at Port Authority. I guess in these uncertain economic times, some people feel a scratch ticket is about as safe as any other investment. I thought it was interesting, so I snapped a quick picture and posted it on our Facebook page. Yesterday, another member of our Facebook group, Kevin Campbell, added his own image of the financial crisis: a foreclosure bus tour in Fremont, Calif.

Keep the pictures coming. We want to see what the financial crisis looks like in your hometown. Join our Facebook group to upload your photos directly or e-mail them to us.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Folding Bike

These photos are from the son of a friend showing his new Bromton folding bike. He said he can even take it on the subway at rush hour.
(Click any image to enlarge.)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Portland Backyard Birds

If you are into birding in your back yard check out this website: Portland Backyard Birds.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Portland Pics

Today's Quote

"We don't need lists of rights and wrongs, tables of do's and don'ts: we need books, time, and silence. 'Thou shalt not' is soon forgotten, but 'Once upon a time' lasts forever."

Saturday, October 18, 2008

ZGF Tower Proceeds Apace

ZGF Tower

"Surface parking now dominates the blocks on Southwest Washington between 12th and 13th Avenues in downtown Portland, Oregon. This area is located between the vibrant, pedestrian-friendly Pearl District and Portland’s Central Business District. West Burnside, an active street that divides Portland into north and south neighborhoods, separates the 12th and Washington project from our successful Brewery Blocks development and the greater Pearl District. In 12th and Washington, we saw an opportunity to extend the success of the Brewery Blocks across Burnside thus acting as a connector between the West End and the Pearl District.

"ZGF Architects needed a new headquarters to accommodate their growing workforce. Combining ZGF’s new office with market-rate apartments and vibrant ground-floor retail will bring more people into the city’s core, stimulating economic and cultural development.

"Putting five floors of underground parking, first-floor retail, 85,000 sq. ft. of offices and 274 apartments all in one building requires a lot of thought and flexibility, especially for a project targeting LEED Gold sustainability status. The building, designed by ZGF, will incorporate design values that ZGF holds true, and that their clients aspire to, into a place they will call home.

Project Scope: 22-story building; First-floor retail; 17 floors urban homes; 4 floors office space; Underground parking
LEED Status: Platinum (anticipated)
Project Cost: $137 million
Project Timeline: Feb. 2007-May 2009"

The ZGF Tower is in our view (and taking over part of it). The chilled water system (2000 tons of water) atop Whole Foods provides water for air conditioning and heating to all of the Brewery Blocks. Today work started on extending the chilled water system from the top of Whole Foods to the ZGF Tower.


The Pain of No Spending

More from Planet Money

Thursday on Planet Money:

The Dow is up. The TED Spread is down. So are inflation and consumer spending. All that together spells: trouble.

-- Listener Leah Hyman from Portland, OR wants to know what it's like to live in a recession.

-- Americans are cutting way back on spending, says Amir Sufi. It's only natural, but it's not fun.

-- Partha Mohanram, an expert in the mystic art of the balance sheet, takes a look at one through Edgar.

To listen Click Here and then click on the right arrow on the webpage as illustrated below.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The back of the bus?

Donna Brazile is not Going to the back of the bus.

To watch the video Click Here and then go to top of the article and click on the LARGE WHITE ARROW.

Don't miss this show at ART

The (almost) glowing review below doesn't do justice to this production. The director, Randall Stewart, and scene designer, Michael Olich, have produced a dreamlike, balletic performance requiring synchronization, coordination and athleticism of the gifted cast. The result is a play like you haven't seen before in this venue. If there were any opening night problems, they are all solved.

Go early enough to study the panels in the lobby, originals of Windsor McCay's "Little Nemo in Slumberland,"
Artists Rep's "Eurydice" holds a fantastical family reunion
by Marty Hughley
The Oregonian Sunday September 21, 2008

It's a love story for the ages, each element delivering a powerful and enduring emotional resonance. The happy couple. The grand wedding on a bright day. The sudden tragedy of the bride's death. The grieving husband's mournful song. A love and a sadness so strong that they overcome death itself.

There's romantic paydirt everywhere in the mythical Greek tale of Orpheus and Eurydice, and it's been interpreted many times in many ways. Sarah Ruhl's play "Eurydice," which opened at Artists Repertory Theatre on Friday, is the familiar tale read right to left, and in some ways upside-down as well.

Instead of focusing on Orpheus' famous attempt to rescue his wife from the underworld, the play meditates on her experiences there. It becomes a story not about life and will, but about death and acceptance.

And just as importantly, it becomes a story of another primary relationship -- not one that looks toward the future and the end, but one that looks back wistfully toward the beginning.

In other words, the crux of the action and the meaning isn't with Eurydice's husband but with her father. And between Ruhl's witty, poignant and poetic script and Artists Rep's fin de siecle fantasia of a production, the result is a moving meditation on the power of love and memory, nurturing and solace, and the connections and choices that define us.

In his program note, the director Randall Stuart makes a bold and fascinating assertion, that "the veil between this world and the next, between myth and one's own cellular memory, is the stuff that live theater can actually solve." Quite what he means by "solve" is hard to say, but he has created a compellingly strange vision of both sides of the River Styx.

Inspired by early beach amusement parks and Windsor McCay's early 20th-century comic strip "Little Nemo in Slumberland," the production designs evoke a blend of worn Victorian elegance, junk-store ingenuity and a now-antiqued futurism. Michael Olich's set is more effective functionally than aesthetically. But Sarah Gahagan's elaborate costumes and Alexandra Kuechler's funky props provide all the otherworldly texture you'll need.

Orpheus (Gilberto Martin del Campo, left) dresses for adventure, but the king of the underworld (Todd Van Voris) isn't just clowning around.

Some moments suggest that ambition outstretched the available cash and craft -- the oddly cheesy way that Eurydice's death is shown or the mourning song Orpheus sings in Hades, which sounds like the ungainly combo of the Gypsy Kings and a Michael Nymen-arranged choir. But overall, the production makes the Underworld seem like a very creepy/cool/funny/interesting place.

That's also because of the creatures who dwell there. Eurydice is often surrounded by a chorus of talking stones who scold her with the rules of the realm. Marjorie Tatum (gliding on roller skates hidden under a floor-length dress), Michael Mendelson and Jill Westerby invest them with a kind of puckish, peevish spirit, at once comic but unsettling.

Even more striking is Todd Van Voris (like Mendelson, a member of Artists Rep's new group of resident actors), whose mutable character is called simply A Nasty Interesting Man. Aboveground, he's an ingratiating dandy who lures Eurydice to her fatal accident; in the underworld, he's the king of the place, part goofy, bratty little boy, part lustful psycho. (Trying to convince Eurydice to marry him and forsake her musician husband, he tells her, "A song is two dead bodies rubbing under the covers to keep warm." How's that for seduction?) In voice and manner, it requires a little modernist symphony of sliding, shifting, clashing tones, and Van Voris is an unassuming maestro.

Oh, but what of those humans we might really relate to? Well, there's that father/daughter dynamic at the heart of things. Ruhl reportedly began the play partly as a way of making sense of her own father's passing, and there's a fitting tenderness here in the scenes between Eurydice, played by Jennifer Le Blanc, and the father, played by David Bodin. Bodin's measured, heartfelt performance gives the production its emotional footing, as he helps his daughter adjust to life among the dead, sharing his memories of language and family.

But that formerly central relationship between Orpheus and Eurydice? By the end, we don't care so much.

In part, that's because Ruhl isn't as adept at establishing their boundless love as she is at testing it. And in part it's that, on opening night at least, Le Blanc and Gilberto Martin del Campo (a charming enough Orpheus overall) start the play shouting, instead of cooing, through their courtship. They get off to a clumsy start with us, if not each other, and so many more interesting folks show up once she's dead, it only seems right she should stay that way.


Addendum: This just in from ART

The Eurydice costumes have some amazing stories behind them.
Eurydice's wedding dress is patterned after a rare 1920s "picture dress" that was donated to Artists Rep. The accompanying cloche hat she wears is the actual vintage hat that was donated with the dress.

The elaborate costumes for the Stones who greet Eurydice when she arrives in the Underworld feature remarkable detail. Costume designer Sarah Gahagan worked with the cast and director to create costumes that evoke elements of how the characters lived and died. Look for bobbins, thread, and singed fabric on the costume of Loud Stone, who died in a sewing factory fire. Small Stone's hair is standing on end because she died jumping from a bridge. Big Stone, strapped to his chair with a pick ax on his back, was a diamond miner addicted to his work, forsaking his family and well-being.

If you've seen this show already, you might want to come back to get a closer look at the detail and beauty of these costumes! When you come back a second time and bring a friend, your ticket is 50% off... and Season Subscribers get their ticket FREE when they return!

If you haven't seen this visually thrilling love story yet, you will certainly want to get a ticket soon! Eurydice runs until October 26, Wednesday through Sunday. Tickets are still available by clicking here or by calling 503-241-1278.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Our Banks

Britain took the lead last week, declaring its intention to take equity stakes in banks to steady them. In the last two days, France, Italy and Spain have announced rescue packages for their banks that include state shareholdings.
NY Times.

"Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing...after they have exhausted all other possibilities."
Winston Churchill

Word for Today: Otiose

Pronunciation[oh-shee-ohs, oh-tee-] –adjective
1. being at leisure; idle; indolent.
2. ineffective or futile.
3. superfluous or useless. [Origin: 1785–95; <>

—Related forms o·ti·ose·ly, adverb o·ti·os·i·ty
Pronunciation[oh-shee-os-i-tee, oh-tee-]
Pronunciation, o·ti·ose·ness, noun

—Synonyms 1. lazy, slothful. 2. idle, vain, profitless. 3. redundant, worthless, pointless.

Otiose is from Latin otiosus, "idle, at leisure," from otium, "leisure."


Mr. Federspiel's surreal flourishes and commentaries straddle the line between interesting and otiose. Most of the surrealism is pretty but pointless.
-- D. F. Wallace, "The Million-Dollar Tattoo", New York Times, May 5, 1991

Although the wild outer movements and the angular Minuet can take such clockwork precision, the Andante, with its obsessive, claustrophobic dialogues between strings and bassoons, seemed sluggish and otiose.
-- Tim Ashley, "VPO/Maazel", The Guardian, April 16, 2002

The umlaut he affected, which made no difference to the pronunciation of his name, was as otiose as a pair of strategically positioned beauty spots.
-- Peter Conrad, "Hidden shallows", New Statesman, October 14, 2002

One hazard for religions in which all professional intermediaries are dispensed with, and in which the individual is enjoined to 'work out your own salvation' and is regarded as fully capable of doing so, is that belief and practice become independent of formal organized structures which may in such a context come to be perceived as otiose.
-- Lorne L. Dawson, "The Cultural Significance of New Religious Movements: The Case of Soka Gakkai", Sociology of Religion, Fall 2001

Some of the terms which lawyers reach for have their origins in historical legal distinctions; some reflect the dual use of legal French and legal English five or six hundred years ago. Sometimes "legal pairs" just trip off a lawyer's tongue -- or pen, at any rate. Even lawyers who would not dream of telling a client that they have "made and entered into" an agreement, or that something is a "good and sufficient" reason for fighting the case, may still inform their clients that an agreement would be "null and Void" or " each and every" partner must be a "fit and proper" person to run a business.

The golden rule is to use one word rather than two wherever possible. And is isn't just legal terms that you should bear in mind. Consider the following:
Would you be good enough to ...
We should be grateful if you would ..
We would ask that you ...

As Margot Costanzo points out, what is wrong with "please"?

Similarly, "in respect of", "in connection with", "in relation to", "with regard to" could all be replaced by the word "about" or cut altogether.

However, there is one exception to this golden rule of one word,not two: old and middle English "portmanteau" words. These are words such as: howsoever, whosoever, hereby, herein, hereunder, herewith, therein, thereby -- and so on. Avoid these. Even if you can justify them in your formal drafting of wills, pleadings, leases, contracts and other formal legal documents -- and we are not convinced that they are justifiable even with that context -- they have no place in legal writing. There is never a good reason why any of these words should appear in your writing. They are simply not necessary. Or, as one lawyer to another, they are otiose, nugatory and to be avoided.

--- Fio Boyle et al, "A Practical Guide to Lawyering Skills "

Monday, October 13, 2008

NPR: Planet Money Podcas

NPR: Planet Money Podcast

Money makes the world go around, faster and faster every day. On NPR's Planet Money, you'll meet high rollers, brainy economists and regular folks -- all trying to make sense of our rapidly changing global economy. Visit this podcast's Web site.

To listen to last Friday's podcast Click Here.



A can of self-defense pepper spray says it may
irritate the eyes, while a bathroom heater says it's
not to be used in bathrooms. I collect warnings
the way I used to collect philosophy quotes.

Wittgenstein's There's no such thing
as clear milk
rubs shoulders with a box
of rat poison which has been found
to cause cancer in laboratory mice

Levinas' Language is a battering ram—
a sign that says the very fact of saying
is as inscrutable as the laser pointer's advice:
Do not look into laser with remaining eye.

Last week I boxed up the solemn row
of philosophy tomes and carted them down
to the used bookstore. The dolly read:
Not to be used to transport humans.

Did lawyers insist that the 13-inch wheel
on the wheelbarrow proclaim it's
not intended for highway use? Or that the
Curling iron is for external use only?

Abram says that realists render material
to give the reader the illusion of the ordinary
What would he make of Shin pads cannot protect
any part of the body they do not cover

I load boxes of books onto the counter. Flip
to a yellow-highlighted passage in Aristotle:
Whiteness which lasts for a long time is no whiter
than whiteness which lasts only a day.

A.A.'ers talk about the blinding glare
of the obvious: Objects in the mirror
are actually behind you
, Electric cattle prod
only to be used on animals, Warning: Knives are sharp.

What would I have done without: Remove infant
before folding for storage, Do not use hair dryer
while sleeping, Eating pet rocks may lead to broken
teeth, Do not use deodorant intimately?

Goodbye to all those sentences that sought
to puncture the illusory world-like the warning
on the polyester Halloween outfit for my son:
Batman costume will not enable you to fly.

"Warnings" by David Allen Sullivan from Strong-Armed Angels. © Hummingbird Press, 2008.

From The Writer's Almanac

Sunday, October 12, 2008

National Memory Screening Day November 18, 2008

Are You at Risk for Alzheimer's? 3 early signs to watch for, and new treatments that can help.

By: Mike Cuthbert | Source:

To listen to this story Click Here.

Many boomers wonder if their "senior moments" might be signs of Alzheimer's. In this radio spot, specialist Dr. Murali Doraiswamy of Duke University helps listeners distinguish reality from fear.

Drawing from his new book, "The Alzheimer’s Action Plan: The Experts' Guide to the Best Diagnosis and Treatment for Memory Problems," Doraiswamy describes screening tests, how to differentiate Alzheimer's from other types of dementia, and how to tell normal forgetting from problematic forgetting. He also reviews the latest prescriptions for slowing memory loss in Alzheimer's patients.

Most important, he emphasizes, is to detect the disease early, before major damage sets in. Early warning signs to watch for include:

● The memory loss is getting progressively worse.
● Friends and family are urging you to get a checkup.
● You can't remember what you forgot. Whole pieces of your past experiences are missing, and your memory can't be jogged.

Click image to enlarge
Related Stories/Links

A Guide to Altzheimer's Disease

Learn about boosting brain health
Altzheimer's Association

Local Resource

National Memory Screening Day November 18, 2008

Local Sreening
Name of Organization: Summit Research Network
Location of Screening: 2701 N.W. Vaughn St., Ste. 350
Portland, Oregon, 97210
Time of Screening: 9:00AM-5:00PM
Phone Number: 503-972-9821

Saturday, October 11, 2008

And a leaking one at that

Feds, States, Cities: In One Fiscal Boat

For Release Sunday, October 12, 2008
© 2008 Washington Post Writers Group

Neal Peirce By Neal Peirce

For many years, official Washington — its own “echo chamber,” as some say — has been ignoring the financial needs and prospects of state and local governments.

That era is now coming to a crashing end.

The headline event is Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s appeal to the federal Treasury for an emergency $7 billion loan to cover California’s immediate operating expenses. Massachusetts has submitted a request too.

The Wall Street fiscal crisis effectively shut the state-local government sector out of borrowing — either for long-term bonds, or of more immediate gravity, bridge loans to keep them afloat awaiting sales tax and April income tax receipts.

But the stage for a “perfect fiscal storm” was already set by the seriously weakened fiscal condition of so many state and local governments. On top of the stunning $43 billion in prospective deficits that 29 states had to cover with spending cuts or tax hikes, taxes for the fiscal year starting July 1, at least 15 of these states have already seen serious new budget gaps emerge, reports the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Indeed, versions of California’s budget crisis are being registered from Georgia to Arizona, Florida to New Jersey to Ohio. In New York State, epicenter of the financial earthquake triggered by Wall Street’s complicity in the mortgage foreclosure mess, fears of massive layoffs by financial houses are expected to add $1 billion or more to the $5.4 billion deficit the state already faced.

State-local taxes will surely have to rise: by global standards, we’re in fact a relatively low-tax nation. And the financial wizardry that helped trim bond sale costs in recent years is likely toast — we’ll see a return to plain-vanilla bonds with fixed rates of interest.

Then there’s the impact of the stock market plunge on state and local pension systems with their estimated $3 trillion in long-term liabilities. The funds’ expected investment returns of roughly 8 percent are now wildly unrealistic. Unfunded liabilities, notes John Petersen of George Mason University, a senior analyst of state-local fiscal systems, “will probably grow exponentially.”

The often-ignored reality, says Petersen, is that state and local budgets are 12 to 13 percent of the entire national economy. “In the last (2000-2001) recession, they held up because property taxes were doing well. But now it’s the fatal storm — everything is going down. It’s a 9/11 for government finance.”

Yet there may be something of a silver lining, Petersen suggests: “This financial — and now fiscal — crisis means we’re all in this together. We will need strong government — federal and state-local — to lead us.”

Nationally, that’s already clear. The federal bailout of major banks, insurance companies and mortgage lenders, proves free market fundamentalism doesn’t work, that careful and thorough government regulation and oversight is imperative.

But to fashion a full recovery policy, official Washington will be obliged to work more closely with state and local governments, devising major fiscal recovery plans, shared agendas and reasonable regulation.

An immediate example: we’re seeing 10,000 foreclosures a day. In the next year, some 1 million to 2 million adjustable rate mortgages are due to adjust upward. The local impacts may be devastating, requiring fast federal action (perhaps fast revisions of the bankruptcy code).

An active debate is already necessary: Should Congress approve of billions of dollars in revenue sharing for states and localities hard hit by the decline in tax revenues caused by the foreclosures federal inattention triggered, and falling property values?

The shaken national economy and depression of state and local tax bases may indeed last several years. How could we not plan a serious federal-state dialogue — starting in weeks, as soon as a new president is elected — on remedial steps?

The opportunity for frank and realistic discussions, a new intergovernmental compact, is strengthened by the emergence in recent years of “a really strong generation of governors, bottom-line managers, who watch their agencies week by week and hold their managers accountable.” Making that case, Neal Johnson of the Pew Center for States points to such reform-minded governors as Martin O’Malley (Md.), Christine Gregoire (Wash.), Tim Kaine (Va.), Jon Huntsman (Utah), Jennifer Granholm (Mich.), Mitch Daniels (Ind.) and Ted Strickland (Ohio).

In every field from road and transit funding to Medicaid, says Johnson, “we need to open a frank dialogue on who’s responsible for what, recognizing we are all in the same boat together.”

Actually, before Ronald Reagan killed it, we had a national Advisory Committee on Intergovernmental Relations, focused on just such issues. Its top fiscal analyst, John Shannon, often told me: “It’s an ill wind that doesn’t bring some good.”

Maybe — just maybe — today’s fiscal hurricane could restore a breeze of dialogue and rationality. It’s high time to get America’s governments — and the metro regions so critical to our economy — onto the same page, thinking through, planning survival strategies for perilous times.

Neal Peirce’s e-mail is

New Roof For Central Library

Have you wondered what that crane was doing on the 11th Ave. side of Central Library? Read on.

Downtown: Main library adds roof full of plants

by Clint Bowie, Special to The Oregonian

Thursday October 09, 2008, 1:00 AM

The leaky old roof at Multnomah County's Central Library has been replaced with a green one, with 17,000 plants, including sedums and drought-tolerant grasses.

"The county has been championing eco-roofs for a number of years," library spokeswoman Penny Hummel says. "So when we needed a new roof for the Central Library, they decided to pursue funding for an eco-roof."

Work was paid for in part with two grants, one from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and one from the Green Investment Fund.

The new roof is expected to cut energy costs 6 to 8 percent in summer and 50 percent in winter, Hummel adds. The plants also will help reduce rainwater runoff and will most likely double or even triple the life of the roof, she says.

County Commissioner Maria Rojo de Steffey unveiled the 7,200-square-foot greenspace at a dedication ceremony late last month. Tours of the roof will be offered this fall. Learn more at

--Clint Bowie

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A Different Brain Drain

Multitasking Teens May Be Muddling Their Brains

by Jon Hamilton

To hear story Click Here and then on Listen Now.

Morning Edition, October 9, 2008 · Doing several things at once can feel so productive. But scientists say switching rapidly between tasks can actually slow us down.

Even though modern technology allows people to perform more tasks at the same time, juggling tasks can make our brains lose connections to important information. Which means, in the end, it takes longer because we have to remind our brains what we were working on.

Zach Weinberg, a junior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, sits in front of his computer in his family home in suburban Maryland.

Within the span of seconds, Zach switches between e-mail, iTunes, Facebook, a computer word puzzle game and messaging his buddy online. Somewhere amid the flurry, Zach manages to squeeze in some homework, too.

While he is working on an algebra calculation, an instant message from his buddy Alex Donesky pops up on the screen. They chat about a French assignment for a few minutes, exchanging quips about Robespierre and Napoleon. Then Zach shifts his attention back to math, but not before changing to his favorite band on iTunes.

For the record, Alex and Zach are good students. And obviously they're good multitaskers, too.

Alex's mom, Barbara Donesky, says she's dazzled by the skill her son has developed, and how quickly he can click around on the computer and make things happen.

But she's afraid Alex is losing out on other skills.

"I want him to be able to concentrate. I want him to be able to focus," she says.

"I mean, it's my personal belief that all these things just fragment your ability to concentrate. And I see it in myself, you know, since I've started e-mailing and using the computer very regularly."

Multitasking: 'A Brownout In The Brain'

Scientists say she has reason to be worried — although there's not much data yet on teens.

David Meyer at the University of Michigan has spent the past few decades studying multitasking — mostly in adults.

"For tasks that are at all complicated, no matter how good you have become at multitasking, you're still going to suffer hits against your performance. You will be worse compared to if you were actually concentrating from start to finish on the task," Meyer says.

Multitasking causes a kind of brownout in the brain. Meyer says all the lights go dim because there just isn't enough power to go around.

So, the brain starts shutting things down — things like neural connections to important information.

When Alex clicks on a message, his brain starts losing the connections it was using for his French assignment. The pathway to Robespierre — fading fast. The path to Napoleon, not so clear anymore.

To restore those connections, Meyer says, Alex will have to repeat much of the thought process that created them in the first place.

The technical name for creating, or recreating, these neural pathways is "spreading activation." It involves building connections step by step. Meyer says it's similar to what we do when we free associate.

"I say to you, 'What do you think of when I say the word apple to you?' And you start vibing on apple. 'Oh, apple's a fruit, it fell on Newton's head. Newton was a physicist. He invented the first theory of gravity.' And on and on," Meyer says.

When we're interrupted, re-establishing those connections can take seconds or hours.

"It goes on subconsciously and eventually, if I'm lucky, I get back up to speed with what I was thinking about before," Meyer says.

Good In Small Doses

Zach concedes that multitasking might make him less efficient. But his friend Alex maintains that, in small doses, multitasking can help him stay alert — like when he listens to music and does a math problem at the same time.

"If I have only one thing, I drift off a little bit," Alex says. "But if there's something else going on in the background that I can just sort of block out, I feel like I can concentrate on something more — whereas if I'm only doing one thing, it's harder for me to concentrate."

Scientists say Zach has a point. Studies show it's pretty easy for us to keep music in the background when we focus on something else.

But when something in the background forces itself into your consciousness, you do get distracted. Such as when your computer announces: "You've got mail."

"Everybody does get distracted by it. But most people learn to get used to that distraction and when to say 'no, I've got to work, and I'm not going to give into this,' " Zach says.

Fighting Distractions

Saying no to distractions depends, in part, on being able to control your impulses — something that's not fully developed in a teenager's brain.

And Alex says it's not easy for him. He says it's hard to give your full attention to any one thing when you're used to monitoring a screen full of options.

"You're teaching yourself to give 10 percent to each little icon. And then click away when there's a moment's pause," Alex says.

In fact, Meyer says, our brains can get hooked to where "they literally need a fix of multitasking."

Addicted To Juggling Tasks?

There's not much research on the addictive nature of multitasking. But Meyer likens it to playing video games or skydiving: We all get a buzz from novelty and variety. Of course, when the stakes get higher, multitasking can stress you out.

"The brain areas that you would see light up and the biochemicals, the neurotransmitters that would be getting released would be quite different if I was an air traffic controller trying to land a whole bunch of planes at La Guardia Airport or wherever. I wouldn't be having pleasure then," Meyers says.

For teenagers like Zach and Alex, the experience of multitasking falls somewhere between the rush of skydiving and the anxiety of landing planes. Regardless, Alex says, it's all they know.

"Even for me right now — and I haven't been exposed to it that long — it's already natural to multitask in these ways," he says. "Like your will is, your heart is in that place where you are just wanting to multitask, and you're conditioned to it. That's how you're going to keep going."

Even, he says, when you don't want to.

From a related NPR article:

Shown in red, the frontal lobe houses the "executive system" of the brain; it decreases in volume as we age. This region helps the brain decide which tasks to focus on and when to suppress irrelevant information. Click on image to enlarge.

The volume of gray matter, or the neurons of the brain, peaks in the early years of development.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Great baseball catch

To read about this video Click Here.

Women in Art

To check out the names of the paintings and artists Click Here.

"What feminism means for me is simply that women, like men, are complete human beings with limitless possibilities."

Fahmida Riaz

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Obama's favorite Mexican Restaurant

A Meal Fit For A Candidate: Barack Obama

by Daniel Zwerdling

To hear story and see slides Click here and then on Listen Now

Weekend Edition Sunday, October 5, 2008 · Can we learn anything about the presidential candidates from what they like to eat? As a public service, NPR asked some of their favorite chefs to teach you how to cook the kind of food that graces the candidates' plates when they eat out.

When Sen. Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, want a special night out in Chicago, they often head for the award-winning Mexican restaurant Topolobampo. But don't equate the word "Mexican" with burritos and refried beans.

Chef Rick Bayless founded "Topolo," as locals call it, almost 20 years ago to prove to Americans that genuine Mexican cooking can be as sophisticated as French and Italian.

In fact, the dishes you might find on the menu on a typical night — perhaps lobster napped with a sauce of arbol and chipotle chilies, or seared, line-caught marlin in a toasted ancho chili crust — might be too elaborate to make easily at home. Instead, Bayless urges you to try his simple recipe for an authentic Mexican street food: skirt steak tacos with smoky guacamole.

Grilled Skirt Steak Tacos With Caramelized Onions


* 1 large white onion, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds (keep the rounds intact for easy grilling
* 3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
* 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
* 1/4 teaspoon cumin, preferably freshly ground
* Salt
* 1 pound skirt steak, trimmed of surface fat as well as the thin white membrane called "silver skin"
* Vegetable or olive oil for brushing or spritzing the onions and meat
* A small bowlful of lime wedges for serving
* 12 warm corn tortillas

1. Marinate the meat. In a food processor or blender, combine 1/4 of the onion, the garlic, lime juice, cumin and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Process to a smooth puree. Place the skirt steak in a non-aluminum baking dish. Using a spoon, smear the marinade over both sides of the skirt steak. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour or up to 8 hours.

2. Caramelize the onions. Heat a gas grill to medium-high or light a charcoal fire and let it burn just until the coals are covered with gray ash. Either turn the burner(s) in the center of the grill to medium-low or bank the coals to one side of the grill for indirect cooking.

Brush or spray the remaining onion slices with oil and sprinkle with salt. Lay the whole rounds of onions on the grill, not over direct heat. When they start to soften and brown, about 10 minutes, use a spatula to flip them and brown the other side. Remove from the grill and break onions into rings.

3. Grill the meat. While the onions are browning, remove the steak from the marinade and gently shake off the excess. Oil the steak well on both sides, and lay it over the hottest part of the grill or directly over the coals. Grill, turning once, until richly browned and done to your liking, about 2-3 minutes per side for medium. Remove to a cooling rack set over a large plate — this keeps the juices in the meat rather than running out. Let the steaks rest until the onions have finished grilling.

4. Serve the tacos. Cut the long piece of skirt steak into 3- to 4-inch sections, then cut each section into thin strips across the grain (that is, in line with the full length of the skirt steak). Mix with the onions, season with a little salt and set on the table, along with the lime wedges, roasted tomatillo guacamole (see recipe below) and hot tortillas, for your guests to make into soft tacos.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Pinnacle

The Pinnacle

Both of us understood
what a privilege it was
to be out for a walk
with each other
we could tell from our different
heights that this
kind of thing happened
so rarely that it might
not come round again
for me to be allowed
even before I
had started school
to go out for a walk
with Miss Giles
who had just retired
from being a teacher all her life

she was beautiful
in her camel hair coat
that seemed like the autumn leaves
our walk was her idea
we liked listening to each other
her voice was soft and sure
and we went our favorite way
the first time just in case
it was the only time
even though it might be too far
we went all the way
up the Palisades to the place
we called the pinnacle

with its park at the cliff's edge
overlooking the river
it was already a secret
the pinnacle
as we were walking back
when the time was later
than we had realized
and in fact no one
seemed to know where we had been
even when she told them
no one had heard of the pinnacle

and then where did she go

"The Pinnacle" by W.S. Merwin from The Shadow of Sirius. © Copper Canyon Press, 2008. From The Writer's Almanac