Friday, December 21, 2012

Hillsboro, OR: take the trip from PDX

I’ve lived in Portland, OR, two years this December, and have wanted to take the MAX out Hillsboro, OR, (just for the ride, see what’s out there). With a friend, finally went today and glad I did.

Hillsboro, OR is not that far from Portland, (one might get that impression looking at the rail map). The part around Hillsboro Central / SE 3rd TC and the last stop, Hatfield Government Center, clean, but didn’t look like much; the interesting strip to walk is E Main Street, SE 2nd to 7th Streets.

If you love tea and spices, and the potential health benefits of them, there’s a Great priced little shop with a friendly, knowledgeable couple, called Herbs & Tea –

If you have a day off, bored, want something cheap to do, I’d suggest taking the MAX Blue line out to Hillsboro, OR; walk around the area. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sandy Boulevard... Where do ya start?

Sandy Blvd.... so many things can and have been said about this road, cutting across Northeast Portland, OR.

It wasn't easy, for me, to find it's full history all in one website, but some good information about Sandy Blvd. embedded in another story, (more about one of its dangerous intersections).
"Sandy Boulevard is by far one of Portland's oldest transportation landmarks. It was once Portland's only road east from the Willamette River to the Sandy River, which is where it got its name." [from the KATU link above].
That explains (to me) the diagonal route of Sandy Blvd., and I wonder how many thought this road was ripped through Northeast Portland after the grid was established. Whatever you feel about Sandy Blvd., it here, ya learn to live with it, and the weird little cut out triangles, formed bu the grid system that chose to not follow suit.

I cringe when spotting bicyclists on Sandy Blvd. Some bicyclist take the extra wide road as its diagonal path as a good enough excuse to bicycle on it. Have had my guilty moments of bicycling on Sandy Blvd., hey, its a nice diagonal, but  try and keep myself on the roads with bike lanes. One Really has to keep their eyes moving like a chameleon on Sandy, because cars swing on and off this thing with ease, and sometimes anger, frustration and conviction, having to deal with the awkwardness of it.

Even tho I'm a bicyclist, I would decline seeing a bike lane on Sandy Blvd, Unless it could be done safely. Sandy Blvd. is like a calculus equation, with too many damn variable and functions to deal with.
    A streetcar back on Sandy Blvd., between downtown and Hollywood District, yea! :). That would spur some dense development there, (probably piss off more motorist and bicyclist tho, meh, Deal with it!). I want to see Portland Streetcar develop around Canter City and close areas; Trimet bus and MAX start to become express through the inner areas, but that's for another blog.

    Sometimes wish there was an opposite diagonal road, between MLK/Prescott and Burnside/I-205; maybe a tunnel, to avoid those crazy triangles along Sandy Blvd. It's nice to cut across the city, which Sandy Blvd. allows many to do.

    Time will tell the future of Sandy Blvd. Love it, hate it, whatever... makes for some good sunset pictures tho :)

    Took this picture one fall afternoon, Sandy Blvd., at 41st Ave.

    Saturday, December 8, 2012

    Smartphone eTicket & Amtrak

    7:46am: Out of breathe, having speed walked to Hollywood MAX Station. On the platform, sign says, "Green Line - Center City - 3min.", and hoping that time is correct. It's my 1st time using a smartphone eTicket for the train.

    Will it work? Should I have gotten a paper printout? Will this be the one time the conductor Doesn't have a working machine to check my ticket? Seen these issues happen many times traveling through the airport. "Think too damn much," my though as the train crosses the Steel Bridge, 7:59a, but calmed down, knowing I'd make the 8:30 train to Olympia, WA.

    Got to Union Station, walk up to the conductor, phone in hand as I say Good Morning. Pleasant guy, scans my smartphone, assigns me a seat, no issue. All that excitement, wondering, and the thing was simple as ever.

    This was also my first time on Amtrak Cascades. Train seats were clean, comfortable. the travel time between Portland Union Station and Vancouver, Wa was surprisingly fast. Vancouver, Washington Station has a few issues, least in my mind.

    For the Ton a people that got on the northbound Cascades train, early Saturday morning, it makes no sense, to me, there's no C-Tran bus service to/from the Vancouver, Wa. Amtrak Station. Reasoning given: there was to/from the station, but it got cancelled due to delays the bus had with freight trains crossing. My answer, "fly overs are in airports like a bowl a spagetti; what, they can't do one here?" I could write a whole other blog about transit in Vancouver, Wa, but another time; back to inside Amtrak Cascades.

    Amtrak Cascades is a nice line, could definitely use a few more trains (given its crowds and growing usage), and AmtrakConnect (it's wifi service), needs help too. Heard complaints about this before, but experienced the signal cutting out for myself. Hard to even keep my own 3G phone signal, until we got close to an Amtrak station. 

    3:40pm: Got back on the train home, this time using the barcode saved over to Apple Passbook application; scanned with no issue. Both the QR Code from the Amtrak application and barcode in the Passbook application worked well for me.

    I finish this blog, more comfortable buying a ticket through the Amtrak iPhone application, taking a trip up to Seattle, or maybe south somewhere.  

    Thursday, November 29, 2012

    Appreciation & learning about cast iron

    I've used cast iron pans before, but the past year, my appreciation and education for them has grown. Yes, they do hold heat better, cooks food nicely too. Seasoning a cast iron pan feels like a constant, learning experience.

    Use bacon grease, don't use bacon, reason for this and that kind of oil... everyone's got an opinion. Chemistry of Cast Iron Seasoning by Sheryl was a blog I found recently, good reference. So excited to season some new pans a friend brought for me, I forgot to check the smoke point of Flaxseed Oil (225F) before blasting my oven up to 500F (live and learn). Smoke my apartment up and out of fear/manners, left a note to my upstairs neighbor apologizing if the smoke smell got up there. Note: Follow that step about really wiping the excess oil out between coatings, it does make a difference in drying/hardening the coats while baking. 

    The 3rd paragraph in Sheryl's Blog, "Seasoning Is Not Cooking...", talks about free radicals and carcinogens. I never put heavy thought into carcinogens, free radicals in cooking, but was happy to find this post, Cast Iron Seasoning and Carcinogens; reinforced some of my own thoughts. Some worry about all the potential stuff in cast iron pans, but don't think twice about the grill marks on the barbecued/grilled foods. My feeling, be mindful of how you cook, prepare and treat your food, but don't get buck wild paranoid on everything.

    Something To make one paranoid about, a crack in the cast iron pan. Didn't notice this crack until the 1st coating, argh! Can the pan still be used? One celeb chef I asked on twitter flat out said, "No", don't use the pan. Mom says go get a new one instead a worrying with people old, stuff; buy one without a crack. Still seasoning it and hoping after the 6th coating of oil, that will seal it up. The crack is just on the surface, no signs it's cracked through to the base.

    Went looking for info on crack in cast iron, found this interesting video, which at least gives a way of testing for cracks in cast iron, before the impulse buy at say, flea markets.

    Since I've been cooking in the cast iron pan, my appreciation for them has grown. From stove to oven, to camping if need be... care the cast iron pans and you will have em' for generations.

    Now this is why families fought over who got the old cast irons :).

    Sunday, November 11, 2012

    Putting my loves out here

    Into making artwork, traveling around, food & passionate (at times opinionated) about public transit. Putting my loves out here, see where it goes.

    I've always been into repurposing stuff, got into beadwork, then mosaics. Website is published, but will post the link when I am fully happy with it, (building a website, to the point one is happy with it, is on going process). 

    Tak a lot of pictures as I travel and upload them to Twitpic. Be nice to find a travel buddy, see the Northwest and maybe further with. Send me a note if looking too.

    With transit, my interest is more about where it takes people, or could in future. 
    Enjoy discussions about transit. Joined a regional rail advocacy group, AORTA since moving to PDX; like this group a lot. Knowledgeable bunch, points things out without being condescending about it. Make that statement, having been to groups where acronyms, titles, information was tossed out, more to brag than inform, found that off-putting; still feel that in attending national events.

    You don't realize how important good transit is, until you leave areas with it. My family moved from an apartment, by main subway station in Brooklyn, NYC, to a house, (which meant a bus ride, 40 blocks to a end of a subway line). Late 1990s, found it quicker, cheaper & freeing to ride my bike. NYCs bike lanes made it easy/fun biking in the city. I moved to Jersey City, NJ in 2005, closer to Manhattan than where I lived in Brooklyn, but a very different from NYC. One takes a chance bicycling on Jersey City roads, along with some angry, ignorant drivers. I learned a lot as a bicyclist there. 

    Looking back at Jersey City, NJ makes me appreciate the things Portland, OR has. It also makes it hard for me, hearing some complaints out of others bicyclist in this town. Things could be better, but it's a lot better than other places, all I'm saying. Might join a local bike (advocacy) group, voice my thoughts there, time will tell.

    Food, Glorious Food! Butter, Beer & Bacon must be on site at all times :). I'll follow the cookbooks but throw down and sauté on my own when ready too. I Yelp!, and not ashamed of it :). Be nice to find some food buddies, to hang 1on1, or make a little group a 3 or 4. Can send me a note if your looking for company while eating too.

    So this is a little about me, in blog form. Feel free to say hello, comment, all good and thanks for reading through.