Friday, February 20, 2009

RSS in Plain English

RSS (file format), Really Simple Syndication, Rich Site Summary or RDF Site Summary, several similar forms of web syndication used by news websites and weblogs.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Gr8 Db8

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'Gr8 Db8' Defends The Linguistics Of Texting

To listen to story Click Here.

Text messages and instant messenger programs have spawned a variety of abbreviations and shortcuts that are sneaking into everyday English. In his new book, Txtng: The Gr8 Db8, David Crystal takes on the h8ers who want to know why kids these days are too lazy to use vowels.

Woman texting on cell phone.

Crystal says the concern over texting lingo has been greatly exaggerated; he says that on average, less than 10 percent of words in text messages are abbreviated.

"All the popular beliefs about texting are wrong, or at least debatable," Crystal writes. "There is increasing evidence that it helps rather than hinders literacy."

LOL? OMG? What's your reaction to hearing these "words" spoken? Tell us.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Amazing Inauguration Photo

From a friend: "Wherever your political loyalties lie, this is an amazing picture -- and much fun to play with. Although it takes a moment to focus after you've zoomed, the clarity is quite phenomenal. You can almost read the music on the Marine Band's stands. See Barbara Bush's earmuffs. See Aretha Franklin's hat. See Diane Feinstein's profile! Try zooming in on any area and see how clear the photo appears.

Forget megapixels ... this is 2 GIGAPIXLES! You can easily use the zoom in/out cursor and navigate up/down right/left movement. Double clicking will also zoom and moving the hand cursor will also navigate. The high resolution enables you to see the facial expressions of anyone in the picture.

Can you find Donald Rumsfeld (former Sec Def)? Hint: He's wearing a blue parka. If the link does not work, try copying & pasting it into your address bar."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

RAPSU Watercolor Artist

RAPSU Member Laura Hopper now has a website.

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Laura's World of Watercolor Paintings

During the years I spent as a career teacher and mother of three boys, my opportunities to paint came intermittently. Whenever I picked up my brushes the world's colors, shapes, and shadows became more defined. Digital photography has made it possible for me to quickly record light reflecting off a garbage can in Paris; orange net stockings on a girl in Barcelona; a lone artichoke in an abandoned field on Sauvie Island. Gathering images for future paintings makes travel more interesting - whether it's a trip to buy groceries via the Portland Streetcar or an adventure in China.

After retiring from teaching, my husband and I took off for a three year vacation in Cape Canaveral, Florida. I felt warmly welcomed when my paintings were accepted in both the Florida Watercolor Society Show and the Florida Colored Pencil Society Show. That was followed by invitations to hang in two galleries and opportunities to teach watercolor classes in three locations. It was a fun time, but as our children returned with their families to Oregon, we knew it was time to return home, also.

I enjoy being at the stage in life where I can paint "according to the rules"...or...not! Sometimes my painted giraffes match the colors in the zoo and sometimes they match my mood for the day -- and that can be colorful.

My favorite way to exhibit is where I can be face-to-face with the admirer... or the critic. During recent years I have enjoyed setting up outdoor displays during First Thursday's in the Pearl and at numerous other outdoor and indoor shows.

Some of Laura Hopper's most recent paintings are shown below. Watch for the newest ones to appear.

Check this out on Valentine's Day

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Greetings from Little Green Grocer!

Do you love fresh from the oven cookies, but don't have the time or talent for baking? Then we have a treat for you! Come down and see us on Valentine's Day. Our friend Karla, owner of The Little Icebox, will sample her pre-scooped all-natural, frozen cookie dough fresh from the oven!

The Little Icebox Cookie Tasting

Cookies fresh from the oven!

Saturday, 2/14


The Little Icebox cookies are no fuss, no muss...just pure delicious cookie indulgence! Each flavor of The Little Icebox cookie dough comes conveniently pre-scooped in adorable pint containers with 14 cookies.

Ready to be baked and enjoyed right out of the oven, whenever the mood strikes. All of The Little Icebox dough batches are made with natural ingredients, from local sources. Karla's cookies are sure to win hearts this Valentine's Day!

About Little Green Grocer

Little Green Grocer is a family-owned, organic food market and full service grocery store located in Portland's Pearl District on the northwest corner of Tanner Springs Park. Little Green Grocer is committed to providing its community with high quality organic and local grocery, household and body care items, along with friendly and informed customer service.

Little Green Grocer
1101 NW Northrup Street, Portland, OR 97209
Mon - Sat 8am-8pm
Sun 9am-8pm

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Civility and Rational Argument

From President Obama's 2/9/09 Press Conferance

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But I am the eternal optimist. I think that over time people respond to -- to civility and rational argument. I think that's what the people of Elkhart and people around America are looking for, and that's what I'm -- that's the kind of leadership I'm going to try to provide.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Mom Song

The Mom's Song

Human Destiny

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Our Awareness Controls Human Destiny

An essay written in 1953 for the original This I Believe series.

Weekend Edition Sunday, February 8, 2009

Children used to play a game of pointing at someone, suddenly saying, "What are you?" Some people answered by saying, "I am a human being," or by nationality or by religion.

When this question was put to me by a new generation of children, I answered, "an anthropologist." Anthropology is the study of whole ways of life to which one must be completely committed, all the time. So that when I speak of what I believe as a person, I cannot separate this from what I believe as an anthropologist.

Margaret Mead

Anthropologist Margaret Mead spent many years in Polynesia studying native cultures. She was a curator at the American Museum of Natural History, professor at Columbia and president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Pictorial Parade / Getty Images

I believe that to understand human beings it is necessary to think of them as part of the whole living world. Our essential humanity depends not only on the complex biological structure which has been developed through the ages from very simple beginnings, but also upon the great social inventions which have been made by human beings, perpetuated by human beings, and in turn give human beings their stature as builders, thinkers, statesmen, artists, seers and prophets.

Mead, pictured in 1954, holds a baby of the Manus Tribe on Admiralty Island, Papua New Guinea.

Mead, pictured in 1954, holds a baby of the Manus Tribe in Papua New Guinea's Admiralty Islands. AP

But I believe, also, that once a child has been reared in New Guinea or Boston or Leningrad or Tibet, he embodies the culture within which he is reared, and differs from those who are reared elsewhere so deeply, that only by understanding these differences can we reach an awareness which will give us a new control over our human destiny.

Margaret Mead pictured in 1977.

Mead pictured in 1977, one year before her death. FPG/Getty Images

I believe that human nature is neither intrinsically good nor intrinsically evil, but individuals are born with different combinations of innate potentialities, and that it will depend upon how they are reared — to trust and love and experiment and create, or to fear and hate and conform — what kind of human beings they will become. I believe that we have not even begun to tap human potentialities, and that by continuing humble but persistent study of human behavior, we can learn consciously to create civilizations within which an increasing proportion of human beings will realize more of what they have it in them to be.

I believe that human life is given meaning through the relationship which the individual's conscious goals have to the civilization, period and country within which one lives. At times, the task may be to fence a wilderness, to bridge a river or rear sons to perpetuate a young colony. Today, it means taking upon ourselves the task of creating one world in such a way that we both keep the future safe and leave the future free.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

PLOrk and SLOrk

Mini Architecture Tour of Portland

Not-so-secret spots for architecture walk

Old and new

Within a few short blocks, see Portland evolve from 1895 to the present

Thursday, December 14, 2008

Step through the Art Deco doors of the, Gus J. Solomon U.S. Courthouse at 620 S.W. Main St. and into a silent world of gleaming bronze and marble.

Pause in the lobby to admire the friezes and the display of old bottles and a baby doll head, then go into the main area. It's no longer a day-to-day courthouse but it’s still a post office.

Long wooden benches, all empty, line walls filled with geometric bronze suns and eagles, and rows and rows of golden mailboxes. Expectation and secrecy hang in the air. An old sign reads "letter drop," but dead-letter drop seems more appropriate. It's the perfect place for an assignation. Bart King, author of "An Architectural Guidebook to Portland," has suggested we meet here. "None of these places are secret," he says, "but it’s surprising how many people never use them." (All of these places are open to the public, but not on weekends.)

Here, then, is King's quick tour:

Go back to Main Street with its traffic roar. Hunch against the pewter sky, the rain, the beady-eyed seagull gazing down from its perch, and head east. Cross Sixth Avenue, turn right and follow the bridge into the Standard Plaza building.

"Probably Portland's best example of the International style," says King.

Greet the guard, go through a second set of doors and stop.

There, right there, looms Portlandia, neatly framed by the western face of the Portland building down which a window cleaner rappels, yellow bucket swinging. Stand and watch the Standard's escalators gliding behind you.

Take the escalator down to Fifth Avenue and head south. Note the silver and black sheen of the PacWest Center.

"The gleaming tower of tomorrow," King calls it. Look into Steamers Asian Street Bistro as you pass four white men in black suits, lined up at the counter, dip their heads in unison to steaming bowls.

Head east down Madison Street toward City Hall (1895, Renaissance Revival style). Inside are the mayor's offices and council chambers and also a delicate staircase and an ethereal mobile that hangs down three floors from the faraway roof. Beneath it is a plush red cushion. An invitation to lie back and gaze upward.

From City Hall, cross diagonally into the damp green of Chapman Square. Here, pioneering post-modern structures, the Justice Center and the Portland Building, face off across the square. King notes that the Justice Center to the east lets in lots of light for a structure that contains a jail. The prisoners behind its slit windows may have better illumination than the workers in the dark confines of the Portland Building.

Now cross Third and walk into the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse, Portland's most expensive building. Show your ID to the guards, and go to the ninth floor to check out the terrace garden. Be sure to continue up to the 16th floor, for a view that makes the whole Clay worthwhile.

Head back up to Sixth and go all the way north to Stark Street. See buildings reflected in the glass of other buildings, observe their lines and curves. Note the contrast between the sleek Commonwealth Building'(1948) and the ornate U.S. National Bank Building (1925) on either side of Stark. Go into the bank. If you're lucky, Harry Martin, the genial guard, will take you under his wing and show you around.

About the author

Bart King, who is not an architect, wrote his witty and unpatronizing "An Architectural Guidebook to Portland" after visiting Powell's in search of just such a guide and realizing there wasn't one.

He taught middle school for 15 years before becoming a full-time writer -- his “The pocket Guide to Games” and “The Pocket Guide to Mischief” came out this year. Early 2009 will see the release of “The Pocket Guide to Brilliance;” a primer on civics and U.S. history. (

King lives in Northeast Portland with his wife, Lynn, in a house whose official architectural designation is "other."

The Old Story

He Gets Around to

Answering the Old Question

by Miller Williams

He doesn't see as well as he thinks he remembers.
His fingers sometimes find it hard to bend.
He often can't find the name to go with a face.

Sometimes he doesn't hear but decides to pretend.

Weekends, week by week, are closer together.
Sometimes he has to sit down to put on his pants.
No lady seems to mind if he calls her Honey,
never grins nor even throws a glance.

Sometimes he's told himself what all this means.
"Every year some more of me is dead,
but there's a lot of stuff still left to collapse."
He started to laugh but talked to himself instead.

"Think of yourself as a plumbing system, a clock.

As soon as you're done, you start to come undone.
It's almost interesting when you pay attention,
how working parts stop working, one by one.

So now you've asked me the oldest question of all.
You want to know how I'm doing. I told you before,
I'm dying. Been at it for years. Still, I think
I could hang a few more calendars on the door."

"He Gets Around to Answering the Old Question" by Miller Williams, from Time and the Tilting Earth. © Louisiana State University Press, 2008.

Catastrophe for the apostrophe

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Its a catastrophe for the apostrophe in Britain

1/30/2009, 1:08 p.m. PST
The Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — On the streets of Birmingham, the queen's English is now the queens English.

England's second-largest city has decided to drop apostrophes from all its street signs, saying they're confusing and old-fashioned.

But some purists are downright possessive about the punctuation mark.

It seems that Birmingham officials have been taking a hammer to grammar for years, quietly dropping apostrophes from street signs since the 1950s. Through the decades, residents have frequently launched spirited campaigns to restore the missing punctuation to signs denoting such places as "St. Pauls Square" or "Acocks Green."

This week, the council made it official, saying it was banning the punctuation mark from signs in a bid to end the dispute once and for all.

Councilor Martin Mullaney, who heads the city's transport scrutiny committee, said he decided to act after yet another interminable debate into whether "Kings Heath," a Birmingham suburb, should be rewritten with an apostrophe.

"I had to make a final decision on this," he said Friday. "We keep debating apostrophes in meetings and we have other things to do."

Mullaney hopes to stop public campaigns to restore the apostrophe that would tell passers-by that "Kings Heath" was once owned by the monarchy.

"Apostrophes denote possessions that are no longer accurate, and are not needed," he said. "More importantly, they confuse people. If I want to go to a restaurant, I don't want to have an A-level (high school diploma) in English to find it."

But grammarians say apostrophes enrich the English language.

"They are such sweet-looking things that play a crucial role in the English language," said Marie Clair of the Plain English Society, which campaigns for the use of simple English. "It's always worth taking the effort to understand them, instead of ignoring them."

Mullaney claimed apostrophes confuse GPS units, including those used by emergency services. But Jenny Hodge, a spokeswoman for satellite navigation equipment manufacturer TomTom, said most users of their systems navigate through Britain's sometime confusing streets by entering a postal code rather than a street address.

She said that if someone preferred to use a street name — with or without an apostrophe — punctuation wouldn't be an issue. By the time the first few letters of the street were entered, a list of matching choices would pop up and the user would choose the destination.

A test by The Associated Press backed this up. In a search for London street St. Mary's Road, the name popped up before the apostrophe had to be entered.

There is no national body responsible for regulating place names in Britain. Its main mapping agency, Ordnance Survey, which provides data for emergency services, takes its information from local governments and each one is free to decide how it uses punctuation.

"If councils decide to add or drop an apostrophe to a place name, we just update our data," said Ordnance Survey spokesman Paul Beauchamp. "We've never heard of any confusion arising from their existence."

To sticklers, a missing or misplaced apostrophe can be a major offense.

British grammarians have railed for decades against storekeepers' signs advertising the sale of "apple's and pear's," or pubs offering "chip's and pea's."

In her best-selling book "Eats, Shoots and Leaves," Lynne Truss recorded her fury at the title of the Hugh Grant-Sandra Bullock comedy "Two Weeks Notice," insisting it should be "Two Weeks' Notice."

"Those spineless types who talk about abolishing the apostrophe are missing the point, and the pun is very much intended," she wrote.

Web Search in Plain English

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Super Story

RAPSU'S Membership Chair, Marina Stites. Is one of the supers in this production.

Marina Stites

RAPSU Member Louise Beaudreau is quoted in the story.

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Portland Opera's 'Turn of the Screw' features senior supernumeraries

by Grant Butler, The Oregonian
Tuesday February 03, 2009, 3:00 AM

About 40 seniors serve the leads as silent supernumeraries in "The Turn of the Screw."

This week Sara Wolpin is making her operatic debut, and even though it's the peak of the cold and flu season, she doesn't have to worry about losing her voice.

That's because the 75-year-old performer doesn't have to sing a single note. Wolpin is one of the 40 supernumeraries in Benjamin Britten's "The Turn of the Screw," which opens a four-performance run Friday at Keller Auditorium.

Like an extra on a movie set, supernumeraries are nonspeaking actors used in opera and ballet productions to create believable crowd scenes. A few of this opera's supers, as they're called in shorthand, have been in shows before, but most are appearing on stage for the first time ever.

For Wolpin, it's the chance of a lifetime.

"Being a person who likes adventure, I decided to be adventuresome," says Wolpin, who describes herself as a "diva-in-training." "So here I am."

Supers are essential when lots of bodies are needed for sheer spectacle. When the Metropolitan Opera staged Sergei Prokofiev's "War and Peace" a few years ago, there were so many people onstage that one of the 200-plus supers tumbled into the orchestra pit on opening night.

Closer to home, when Portland Opera staged Beethoven's "Fidelio" last fall, 49 supernumeraries portrayed the prisoners, soldiers and townspeople rising up against tyranny. And for Verdi's "Aida" last season, some of the supers were bodybuilders who appeared wearing almost nothing.

But with "Turn of the Screw," the 40 supers do a lot more than serve as visual wallpaper or eye candy -- they are an important element of the ghost story's plot.

They portray the butlers, footmen, maids and charwomen of an extravagantly overstaffed English manor, where there's so little to do that the servants become living playthings for the two children at the center of the story. And because the servants have worked at the manor seemingly forever -- it's hinted that some continue to serve in the afterlife -- this production needed supers older than 60.

To find the supers, the opera placed ads in its "Fidelio" program, posted audition notices on its Web site and reached out to an association of retired Portland State University employees. The 40 who signed up range from opera fans jumping at a chance to be in a production to a senior softball champ.

Jennifer Hammontree, the production stage manager for Portland Opera, says, "I wondered, with an elderly crowd, are we going to need to be concerned about whether the wigs are too heavy or are the shoes too high. But their age is really not a factor."

Louise Beaudreau, 80, is a second-time super, having played a nun in "The Barber of Seville" a few years ago. She says the experience gives her an insider's perspective on opera.

"It's so fun to see how they pull it all together," Beaudreau says. "I think they do a tremendous job in such a short time. If you like theater at all, this makes it more exciting. You watch things a little more aware about what's going on onstage."

For Al Hudson, 86, appearing in "Turn of the Screw" is a coming home of sorts. When he was a graduate student at Stanford, he was in one of the very first productions of Britten's "Peter Grimes," which was performed at the San Francisco Opera House.

"I never sang professionally, but I talked my way into the chorus," Hudson says. "That was so much fun."

Putting it together

During an early rehearsal for "Turn of the Screw," director Nicholas Muni is turning super George Dover, 58, into a jungle gym. Dover is instructed to drop to one knee and cup his hands so boy soprano Michael Kepler Meo can hoist himself onto a chair for a pretend horse ride. While swinging his leg over Dover's head, Meo ruffles Dover's hair and nearly knocks off his glasses.

"Oh, the indignities of being a super," Muni exclaims.

Dover has been through it all before. He's one of the few supers in this production with experience -- and plenty of it. He's been in numerous shows for Portland Opera and Oregon Ballet Theatre. He's found that the super experience in the ballet and opera worlds isn't the same.

"The big difference is, in ballet everything is done to music and has to be done to a count," he says. "In opera, your movement doesn't necessarily follow the music."

For Loren Sisavic, being in the show marks more than his first time on stage. On opening night, he will turn 70.

"I was going to have my 70th birthday party, but I'm postponing it by one day so I can be here."

Even though he has appeared as an extra in a couple of movies, being in an opera feels like a highly unlikely event.

"I come from the streets of New York City, and if I told my buddies I was here, it would be a very interesting conversation," he says.

Sisavic isn't the only one planning on partying. Wolpin plans to celebrate her role with a "diva brunch" the day after her big debut -- everyone is expected to wear tuxes and fancy dresses.

"My daughter has a lovely house, so everyone can make an entrance down the steps," she says.

And shouldn't a diva have a tiara?

"I don't do well in tiaras," she says. "My hair is so white and nice. I worked so hard to get this white hair. I don't want to cover it up."

-- Grant Butler:

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