Mayor Adams,

I follow city politics fairly closely and I’ve always admired you as a politician. When people ask me what I like about you, my standard answer has been “I think he is a politician for all the right reasons.” Namely, I think you love this city as much as me, and want to work to make it a great city not just for people in power, but all of us in the middle and working classes.

I’m a fan of government. I think it can do wonderful things such as provide roads for us to get from place to place, educate children, encourage development, help us to recycle and so many other important things. I’m not one of those citizens who think that people in government make too much money, or are lazy or greedy, or don’t know what it is like to run a business. I want good people making comparable wages running our city. Until Monday, I thought you were one of those people.

What I require most in my life is for people to tell the truth. I work in a school and say it over and over again, “If you had come to me and told me what happened, we wouldn’t be dealing with this situation right now.” It is fine for me to say this to elementary aged students, it’s even great. Because each time they don’t tell the whole story, or outright lie, that gives me another opportunity to help them understand that coming clean, though it seems to be hard at the time, is the better option. My hope is that as they grow older, they will embrace this fact of life and their adolescent and adult lives will be better for it.

I can’t know the thought process that got you into the mess you are in, but I do know that had you admitted then what you are admitting now, we all would have been much better off. You may have lost the election, or you may have won. But either way, the people of Portland would have the whole story from the beginning. Now you look stupid, the people that defended you look naive and there are calls for your resignation. Speaking for myself, the trust I had in you as a politician and a person is gone and I’m not sure what you are going to do to earn it back.

It hasn’t escaped my notice that this story broke over the two days we celebrate the birth of a civil rights pioneer and the historic day we all watched Barak Obama inaugurated. That historic day which should have been full of joy and jubilation, is a dark one for you. You, too are a pioneer. I’m just sorry that you made the choice you did and I’m sorry you asked another person to lie.

Sincerely,
Patricia Collins

An Historic Day!

Where were you when Barak Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States? I was at work, watching the ceremony with 44 forth and fifth graders and 22 kindergarten and first graders, as well as their teachers, and various parents. Both 2/3 classes and the other K/1 class watched the ceremony in another classroom.

It was an exciting ceremony and the students, crowded onto the floor, stood unprompted when Joe Biden was sworn in, and again when Barak Obama was sworn in. They stood one last time for the star spangled banner, which I sung out lustily. In between, they listened closely to the prayer, the inaugural address and the benediction. Well, the 4/5s did. The K/1s saw the swearing in and the speech, but didn’t stay after that.

Aside from the historic nature of the day, I think my favorite part was walking around referring to “an historic day.” Which I now know is actually incorrect, grammatically, because the “an” sound goes with the vowel sounds. So a word like “honor,” which would be phonetically spelled “on-her,” gets an “an” in front of it, while “historic” has the “h” sound and doesn’t. But still, fun to say.

MLK Day Walk.

What better way to celebrate MLK Day than to take a walk? Actually, I can think of a few better ways, like doing service, or going to an MLK celebration, but I did neither of those, so a walk was my better way. Kelly and I cracked open the new City Walks book I got for Christmas and began a walk that took us from the Kenton Neighborhood to the bluffs above Swan Island, to Swan Island itself. It was a pretty long walk (6.2 miles) and so we got a lot of talking done, too. New Mayor Sam Adams came up in conversation as he does from time to time. (This will be important a few blog posts from now.)

This is Kenton School. Or it was. Now it is a branch of the De La Salle North campus. Very near the school is the Lombard Transit Center and it is always fun to contrast the neat appearance of the De La Salle students with many of the other riders waiting for transit. I don’t think the early 21st century will be remembered fondly for its grooming.

Anyway, Eagle Eye Kelly asked, “What’s that, way up there?”
And then, Eagle Eye Kelly, who was been doing a lot of walks and learning about architecture identified it as most likely where the flag pole used to be. I was pretty impressed. Both with the old flag pole and with Eagle Eye Kelly.
Outside the Historic Kenton Hotel, now apartments, is this hitching post-themed bike rack.
It was a beautiful day, with a wind, but the wind brings clear blue skies, giving us this view of the Portland Skyline with Swan Island in the foreground.
A beautiful view of Mt. Hood.
“What the heck is this square thing?” we both wanted to know. The book refers to it as a “maw” and apparently, it is Freightliner’s Wind Tunnel. Although I’m not sure what will become of it once Freightliners closes their plant on Swan Island.
After that there were some lovely walks along the Willamette. It was interesting to contrast the river setting with the heavy industrial that is Swan Island. But then, Swan Island was built when the river was used almost exclusively for industry. Now that the industry is leaving, more and more the percentage of recreation increases. I just hope that we can afford to recreate, that is, that something is replacing those industry jobs.

The last leg of the walk is up Greeley Avenue. That’s a pretty busy road with a lot of truck traffic and it was an uphill walk. Still, Kelly and I planned our inauguration festivities if we were elected president, namely who the poets, ministers and performers would be. Mine were poet: Marge Piercy, minister: Tom Disrud. (although since I get two, I would also have Robert Fulghum). For performers I picked women, The Indigo Girls were mentioned. Then we were brainstorming other women. I wanted a figure of longevity. Kelly was explaining one of her picks I hadn’t heard of and she said, “she’s on that Dolly Parton cover album…” and both at the same time we exclaimed, “Dolly Parton!” So Ms. Parton would definately be at our inauguration.

Three sentence movie reviews–Frost/Nixon.


Though I like Ron Howard as a person (what I know of him) and am happy for his success, I mostly always get a little bored during his movies. This one was no different. Still, quite good, but during my bored period I wondered, “Was this really the best title that the author of the play could come up with?”

poster from: http://www.impawards.com/2008/frost_nixon.html

Shampoo free.

December marks a year of alternate hair care. It started, as many good things do, with yoga class. Rachel, who was very far from a greasy-haired patchouli-scented hippy, mentioned that her hairdresser told her to stop washing her hair. Apparently her curly, curly locks would do better if they were washed less frequently say, once a month or so. She couldn’t imagine going that long, but had cut back to only washing every two weeks. Upon hearing this, another woman with wavy hair chimed in that she rarely washed her hair and thought it was better for it. I protested that with my straight hair, I had to wash it every day or it would become too greasy. We left it at that, but it did get me thinking.

One of the benefits of working in a school is the many regular long stretches of vacation. During vacations, projects can be started and finished and different ways of doing things can be tried. With the above conversation in mind, and with the encouragement of the recess helper at school who also had abandoned the daily ritual of shampooing his head, I decided to experiment over winter break, 2007.

Since puberty, I have washed and conditioned my hair every day. Though I fast figured out that the “lather rise repeat” method was invented to sell more shampoo, I could not go a day without washing. The days I did skip my shower and lather routine, my hair felt gross, very thick and oily. To begin this experiment, I decided to only condition my hair, and skip the shampooing. Here’s what happened the first three days of my experiment.
Day one: “My hair feels incredibly gross.
Day two: I can’t believe this, it is incredibly disgusting.
Day three: This is horrible, how will I last the week?
Day four: Fine.
Note that no shampooing happened between days three and four, my head just adjusted.

From then on it was smooth sailing. Six days of the week I would condition my hair, and only on Sunday would I shampoo first. For awhile I studied my hair to see if it was greasy and even asked a few opinions, but everything seemed fine. I was pretty happy. My shower routine was shorter and now I bought much less shampoo.

Fast forward to June. I attended Monique Dupree’s Sustainable Living on a Budget workshop and learned about the “No Poo” method. I hate the name that has attached itself to this phenomenon, but it really changed my hair care world. No Poo is short for “No Shampoo” and it is a movement of women–and men I would imagine too–who have stopped using shampoo and conditioner entirely. Completely. People’s methods differ, but they have given up their former rituals of daily shampoo and conditioner. I did some research online and was amazed at the different methods. I decided to try not washing my hair during my two week trip to Hungary and Romania.

That was an interesting experiment. I came home from the trip with rather thick hair. It sort of became an entity in its own right. I think that the three different swimming venues contributed greatly to its size, but I knew that I couldn’t just quit washing my hair all together.

My next attempt was the baking soda and cider vinegar method and I’m happy to report that it works well for me. Here’s what I do. On Saturdays, I put a tablespoon of baking soda in an empty 8-oz yogurt cup and bring it and a bottle of cider vinegar with me to the shower. After I wet down my hair, I fill the cup with the baking soda part way and swish it around with my finger to mix it, then add a bit more water. This water/baking soda mixture is then poured over my head and I rub it into the scalp. I let this set for a bit (it feels very nice on the psoriasis) and rinse. Then add a bit of cider vinegar (say 1 teaspoon) to the yogurt cup and fill that with water. That gets poured on my hair and worked into my scalp.

The first time I did this, I could tell that the baking soda worked to clean my hair. I was sure nothing happened when I put the cider vinegar on. “This is not working!” I thought and almost grabbed for the conditioner. But I carried through so I could see the results. My hair seemed so tangled and not smooth. But when I combed through it, it was tangle free.

So that is what I have been doing since July. I haven’t touched my shampoo or conditioner. On Saturdays, I wash my hair and, aside from brushing, that is the sum total of my hair care for the week. I love it. My showers are shorter, my hair is thick and shiny (but not greasy), I don’t have to worry about clogged drains, I save money, and I rarely have to go outside with wet hair.

I feel it is also necessary to point out that I jog a few times per week and bike commute to work three days per week. You would think the sweaty head would contribute to disgusting, oily hair, but it doesn’t. Things dry and everything is fine. I also don’t use any “product” in my hair. I’m not sure what effect that would have with this method. But I do know from my research that many people who stop shampooing daily have lovely, non-frizzy waves and curls appear.

Below is a picture of my hair after nine days of not washing. During this winter break I was testing to see if I could go two weeks between washings. I decided to stick with once per week, mostly so I could avoid the whole, “do I wash my hair this week or next?” conundrum.

Requiem: flash drive

January of 2004 brought us a “weather event” that closed schools for four days. I was student teaching at the time, and so I had ample time at home. I put all my CDs on my computer and then, having nothing much more to do in my tiny studio apartment, I began to obsess that I “needed” a laptop. I made the mistake of asking Matt if he thought I should get one–he was trapped at his house, too, playing video games until his eyes turned red–and he thought I should. In retrospect, I knew I was asking the person who would tell me to go ahead and buy. Matt agrees with a good argument and doesn’t really weight the financial factor, which was significant, in my case. At that point, I was pretty poor due to a SNAFU with financial aid.

So the laptop was bought, used for five months and it did come in handy while student teaching. Then, as I grew increasingly worried about it getting stolen and also the fact I shouldn’t have bought it in the first place, I sold it at a loss on eBay. The result was that I essentially paid a little over $100.00 per month to use a laptop. Not the best deal, but not horrible, either.

I tell you all this, because at the same time I bought this jump drive. (Flash drive, thumb drive, cigar, it needs a standardized name.) 128 MB of storage and it cost $49.95. This was totally worth it, because I have used it for four years. Though now you can get multiple gigabytes of memory for less than the price I paid, this little guy was state of the art at the time and it worked for me.

Now, however, he is broken and I must bid him goodbye.

Read away the day day

My favorite thing about K/1 Read Away the Day Day at school is that I get to call it Read Away the Day Day. Yes, that last day is superfluous, but like those people who enjoy misusing quotation marks, I enjoy superfluous words.

My second favorite thing about Read Away the Day Day, is that people come in costume to read. For this day, no one had volunteered for Kristen’s class, and so I was pulled into duty. The costume is all Kristen. I said I would wear whatever, as long as I didn’t have to think of the whatever. Kristen happily whipped me up this Sam costume. Do you like green eggs and ham?

Stop the misuse of quotation marks!

Some people who read this sign, will interpret the message as “this company really finds it important that I stop driving at this point and instead enter on NW Davis Street. I can tell that they find it important because they have put quotation marks around the word to draw my attention to it.”

However, people who understand the correct use of quotation marks (and, I will agree, we are in the minority) will giggle because by putting quotation marks around the word stop, they are actually encouraging us to not stop our vehicles. Had the company, or the sign makers asked us, we would have told them that when trying to draw people’s attention to something, perhaps the use of the exclamation point would have been a better choice.

Yes, that’s right folks. When you look up how to use quotation marks correctly there is a whole lot of information about using them for dialogue and where the commas go and on which side of the quotations the punctuation lives. There is nothing that instructs you to put them around “words” willy-nilly when you are trying to draw people’s attention to them.

Do you know why? Because when you put quotes around things that aren’t dialogue, it can often be read that the word you are quoting is not true. My favorite example from my workplace was at Bread and Circus and the sign in our Prepared Foods department advertised “fresh” sandwiches. “Are we trying to tell people we only serve old, moldy sandwiches?” I asked aloud before erasing their quote-ish presence. That sign above? It is saying to keep driving right through there. Don’t stop, no matter what other context clues tell you.

And really, what is wrong with the exclamation point? They are scattered all over the blogs (including this one) as well as enthusiastic people’s letters and notes. Why are they not used more on signs? Are they not dignified enough? And shouldn’t sign makers know better? Why not have an English major on staff to proofread those signs before you print them? God knows there are tons of unemployed English majors out there. Do us all a favor and hire one. The English major gets a job. Businesses don’t suffer the expense of incorrect signs and the general public isn’t assaulted by incorrect grammar.

Happily for those of us who get pleasure in the misuse of quotation marks, there is a blog. Yes, you too can enjoy The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks.

Guidelines, Friday and Saturday

Well, my Guidelines did their job, but they went out with a whimper.

Up and dressed: yes, Friday and Saturday
1 hour study: yes, Friday, no Saturday
1 hour blogs: yes, Friday, and then 20 fruitless minutes spent searching for a count up timer for the blog on Saturday
1 hour exercise: yes Friday, yes Saturday. Both days there was jogging.
4 hours work: I think I did some work on Friday, but probably not four hours. No on Saturday
Keep up with dishes and picking up: Yes on both days.
Nap maximum time 30 minutes: I think I didn’t nap on either of those days.
Eat only when hungry, stop when full. Nope.
Plan food. Nope.
Fruit and veggies while watching movie. Nope.

So overall, I would say the guidelines kept me from going into a slide early on. I count them a success and will use them on my next break.