Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hawthorne bridge counter weights

I walked along the sidewalk on the waterfront during lunch today. The two big towers in the picture are the two massive weights that drop to raise the middle section of the Hawthorne bridge for shipping traffic.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Good Customer Service is not Dead

All reports to the contrary, many companies apparently still care about doing right by their customers. Some examples:

Outdoor Research will repair all of their equipment that fails due to defects (poor seams, bad materials, whatever) for free, for life. They just ask you to pay to mail the item to them. I thought the foot straps (feet straps?) on my gaiters had failed during my Rainier climb. The ends of the straps pointed out and they didn't seem to be attached to anything. So I dealt with a very nice gentleman in Customer Service who set me up with a RA (Repair Authorization) and gave me all the info I needed to send the gaiters in to them. Turns out the straps weren't broken, I'm just an idiot. Outdoor Research repaired (patched) the holes that my crampons had ripped in the gaiters and replaced the security tabs on the front of the gaiters. Holes poked in the material of an item by sharp spiky things is not generally repaired for free. Awesome guys. You just earned a customer for life!

Petzl makes the crampons I purchased last year. I trimmed the crampon straps to fit my first set of boots. Turns out that I cut the straps so short that they won't work with any other pair of boots I want to use. This is not good. I've mostly got by using a pair of Grivel crampon straps. Those are still too short for plastic boots. So I called Petzl to see if I can buy some replacement straps. The rep I need to talk to is on vacation. He calls me and tells me he has a pair of straps from a used pair of crampons. They don't have any obvious wear and they're mine if I want them. I say sure and ask what I owe him. He says I don't owe them anything. They even pay for shipping!!! What company does that?!

Katadyn make water filters and purifiers. Dev and I have one. We've used it about 5 or times since we got it in May. I pumped some water on my overnight trip last weekend. Then I pulled the inlet hose off of the filter. The hose fitting snapped off the body and stayed with the hose. So I email Katadyn looking to buy a filter housing. The gal in their support office refused payment and asked for my address so they could send me a replacement housing free of charge.

All three companies got a fix for free with no hassle and no run around. Freakin' awesome.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Picking berries at the dog park

Fifteen minutes and we filled a 2 quart Tupperware. I know what's for dessert tonight!

Another day at the dog park

Dev and Jami walking with Shelby and Boj and Moxie.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Another bike commute pic, part ?

This shot looks back north along the floating part of the Eastbank
Esplanade. Those rusty looking spires in the left part of the shot are
the anchors for the Esplanade. When the river gets high, the walkway
rises but stays in the same place thanks to them.

Cool beetle in the parking lot

I saw this bug on the way across the parking lot this morning at work.
I've never seen one with this pattern before. I thought I'd share.

UPDATE: Rob here at work identified the beetle as Polyphylla Decemlineata.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Monday, July 21, 2008

Lust inducing

I needed a spoke replaced on my bike so I rode over to River City
Bikes during lunch. After I checked my bike in for service, I wandered
around the store. I found the beauty in this picture. Only two things
I would change; more than 3 speeds and hub brakes instead of rim
brakes. Drool-worthy!

Remains of the day

There's something about donuts at work. Yummy!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Today's tasty treat

Chicken Katsu with a side of eggrolls. Normally I bring my lunch.
Today I needed to mail something off so I walked to the post office.
(At the post office, out front, were some LaRouche supporters. I
nearly engaged in a debate with them. That's a rant for another day
though). On the way back to Macforce I passed by Kokiyo. I had brought my lunch but some teryaki sounded very tempting. You can see the result in the picture above.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Still water under the bridge

The water of the Willamette looked pretty flat today. I get a good
view north on the river from the floating part of the East Bank
Esplanade. The Steel Bridge looks striking in profile. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The original Portland rose garden

On my alternate bike commute home I pass the original rose garden of
Portland. Today, the aroma wafting from the garden drew me into an
orbit around the square. I thought I'd share.

View to a commute

I see this every day on the way in to work. Not bad. Not bad.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Burning USA!

Dev and I went surfing today. Or rather we went and tried to surf at Ecola Beach state park. Pratfalls into the water and salt-water martinis actually ensued upon said attempt. Sue came with us. She rocked the longboard, getting up and riding 10 times the *combined* successful rides that Dev and I had. We had fun. We came away exhausted. And sunburned. You'd think that by now I would know that lazing around shirtless in full summer sunlight for 45 minutes after lunch without sunblock would be a bad idea. Apparently I do not know this yet. My wonderful nap turned into a very bright and angry sunburn on my chest. Of course my back is still its normal fishbelly white, so I have the bonus that I look like I just stepped put of an episode of "Friends". Anyway, we had great fun. Thank go to Sue for playing in the water with us and to Anna for watching our stuff on the beach, in between the 5 books she read in the course of the day.

Bojangles begging for belly rubs

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Getting underfoot

Our ancient and broke-down threadbare carpet.

Our awesome new area rug.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Rainier! part deux

We woke up, or rather, our watch alarms woke us up at 11 pm on Thursday. We had crashed out around 4 pm and dozed fitfully for almost 7 hours. I rolled from back to side to back multiple times in that 7 hours. I always dread getting out of the sleeping bag for the mountain assault. Losing all my warmth while I gather my gear and scarf down a cold breakfast. Great joy in those moments. All this in the flat light of my LED headlamp. This time I didn't feel nearly as cold as I expected as I went through my preparations. The warming trend predicted for the Rainier seemed to be tracking the forecast.
We saddled up, got into our harnesses and got moving shortly before midnight. We trucked along the bootpack on the Cowlitz glacier until we reached the bottom of Cathedral Gap. The loose stone and scree slope slowed our ascent and provided a little excitement in the opportunity for rockfall from the team ahead of us. We reached the top and rounded the shoulder to hit some firm snow with a not so great runout below. We stopped to strap on our crampons and grab a quick bite. We looked back to the east and saw a heavy harvest moon low of the horizon. After admiring the sky for a moment, we got moving again. We hit Ingraham Glacier very shortly after. We passed the tents of the camp at Ingraham flats. Headlamps and clanking and low conversation informed us that other teams were preparing for their climb. We passed the camp and followed the bootpack to a snowbridge over a crevasse. My first ever crevasse crossing and it was pitch black so I couldn't appreciate the moment properly; no yawning abyss from which I could shrink. We moved on towards the ridge Disappointment Cleaver.
Either the climbing rangers or Rainier Mountain Institue had set a handline along the bottom portion of the cleaver. A handline is a rope set to anchors in the rock and in the snow along difficult portions of the route. Climbers use a camming device on the rope to prevent slips from turning into falls. The drop off here didn't seem particularly heinous and the footing not particularly treacherous, so I'm not sure the reason for the handline. Since we didn't have any ascenders (camming devices), we moved along the route carefully. Nat ignored the fixed rope, I kept it running through my hand and I'm not sure whether Dan used it or not. We came round the rocky band and hit a upwards snow climb. This climb kept on for a 1000 vertical feet. The bootpack switchbacked it's way up the slope. The constant changes in direction made rope management fun. Good practice for future climbs.
Finally about 3 am we topped out on the last outcrop of the cleaver. A team was resting there when we reached the rocks. We settled in next to them. They left less than 5 minutes later. The wind had picked up. I wrapped myself in my puffy jacket and sat low to gain some protection from the wind, but I still shivered. We ate a quick snack again, and drank some water. While we rested, another team of climbers caught up to us, and started their break just as we stood up and started moving along. The top of the cleaver marked our entry to the Emmons Glacier. The eastern skyline started to light up orange presaging dawn for at least an hour. We marched upward and onward. Nat worked to make sure we followed the wands and the bootpack up the glacier's sides. Dan moved along slowly at the end of the rope. And I tried to minimize the pain to my feet.
I rented plastic boots from REI for the climb. I normally wear 12 or 12.5 shoes and boots. The plastic boots in size 12 fit too snugly which would slow circulation and lead to cold (and possibly frostbitten) feet in bad conditions. I asked for a pair of 12.5 boots; they didn't have any. At all. Not one pair of 12.5 plastics in their rental stable. So I tried on the 13's. They were, obviously, too big. They seemed to fit well enough at the time. Unfortunately the loose fit made my shins and the inside of my left ankle extremely unhappy. The plastic lip of the outer boots bruised and abraded the front of my shin (a condition called shin bang) and made it very uncomfortable for me to walk with my toes points straight uphill. Luckily climbing sideway to the slope is a valuable skill to have in the mountains. I got lots of practice walking sideways up the hill. It minimized the shin bang and let me concentrate on climbing instead of the misery inflicted on my shins.
Once on the glacier, the route goes pretty much straight up for two thousand feet. The trail made switchbacks to ease some of the grade a little and to work through the least creviced section of the route. Mainly we went straight up for the last two grand of elevation. Right at about thirteen thousand feet Dan started struggling a little bit. He had to stop and rest. He had a hard time catching his breath. His energy got low. The altitude really slowed him down. He soldiered on despite the difficulty and we reached the summit ridge at about 5:30 in the morning. We crossed into the summit crater (the crater of a real live volcano) and started tromping towards the true summit. We dropped the rope, and Dan and Nat left their packs near the ridgeline. We thought the hard part was done.

We were wrong.

Those last 300 feet to the true summit killed me. I don't know if I had switched into descent mode. Or if I was just a little out of gas. Climbing that last bit of mountain felt much harder than the last hour I had been moving. We made the summit and shared it with another crew of four climbers. We chatted. Got blasted by wind on the summit. Took pictures. Laughed. Looked around to the mountains and ranges we could see. The crystal skies gave us great visibility. Then it was time to go down.
We left the summit about 7 in the morning after refueling with food and water. The gravity assist on the down hill makes moving easier and faster. Every step brought us thicker air which gave us more energy. We dropped almost 2000 feet in the first hour of the descent. A brief rest at the top of the cleaver, a quick bathroom break and then more descending. As we got lower, the temperature began rising quickly. The sun's heat and the heat reflected back from the snow plus the heat radiated by the rocks meant we got warm fast. The snow started getting slushy. Foot ing got treacherous. And the threat of rockfall became very real. So we trucked it down the cleaver, moving as fast as we could to minimize our exposure to rock fall. Once we hit the Ingraham glacier, we started trucking a little bit faster. We had a wary eye on the icefall upslope from us. Ice fall can happen anytime, but warm weather makes icefall more common. Soon we reached Cathedral gap and descended back to the Cowlitz glacier. Aside from a brief rest at Ingraham flats we kept moving to minimize our exposure to rockfall. We got back to Camp Muir about 10 am in the morning, right at 10 hours from when we left.
Then we had to pack up and leave, which is part of the story I'll continue in the next few days.

Pictures from Rainier

Pictures from the Rainier climb are here.

Come and gone

Bobby came to visit.I have pictures to prove that he does indeed get outside the house every once in a while. He came out to visit some of his buddies out here on the west coast. He visited Scott and a couple of online friends last weekend. He stayed with Dev and I on Monday and yesterday. We showed him around portland a little bit. Took him to dinner on Hawthorne. Drove him out to Timberline Lodge on Mt Hood (and WOW has the snow melted off of Hood fast!) Ran him by Multnomah Falls in the Columbia River Gorge. And went to a comedy show downtown last night. He's off to see Jim in L.A. as of this morning. Good to see him again.

Pain in the Neck

The kink is still here, though much lessened in intensity. I can turn my head more than yesterday without blinding agony. The bike ride into work this morning proved interesting - I could only have turn my head to check my left side. I slowed my approach where checking left seemed important.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


Woke up with a wicked kink in my neck this morning on the left side. Not sure where it came from, but I'd love for it to go away soon!