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October 10 Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Jennifer Diaz (left) hugs her mother and father at Portland International Airport on Oct. 10, 2006. Her mother and her older brother and sister were deported to Guatemala after their application for political asylum was denied. Jennifer is an American citizen because she was born here. Her father will remain in the country pending the appeal of his bid for asylum.

Luis Diaz fled to the United States in 1991 after leading a union uprising in Guatemala. His wife, Irma, and children Luis Jr. and Monica followed two years later. They all applied for political asylum (giving Luis a work permit), which was denied and subsequently appealed. Meanwhile, the couple had another child—Jennifer—and all of their children grew up thinking that the United States was their home.

The last of Irma, Luis Jr., and Monica's appeals was denied in September, and they were supposed to leave the country then. They were granted an extra month due to some ticketing problems. They had to be out of the country by midnight on Oct. 10. They caught a flight to Mexico that left at 11:59 p.m.

Jennifer Diaz interprets for her mother, Irma, as reporters interview her at Portland International Airport on Oct. 10, 2006, just hours before Irma and two of her three children were deported to Guatemala.

Thousands of illegal immigrants are deported from the United States every year. I don't know why this particular family attracted so much media attention. Perhaps it was because they had been in the United States for so long. Perhaps it was because the whole family was here, but only some had to leave. Perhaps it was because they came as refugees, not simply to work. Or perhaps it was because they were simply willing to talk to the media and let the media tell their story. I have to say that I was very impressed with the family's patience with the media, who surrounded them at one of the most vulnerable times in their lives. In particular, the dignity with which Luis conducted himself during the whole evening was remarkable.

Among other sources, you can find news coverage of this story from the Beaverton Valley Times, The Oregonian (who sent reporters down to Guatemala with the family), KATU News, KOIN News, and el Centinela, if you can read Spanish. That one has another of my pictures with it.

October 7

Dale Fisher (left) and an assistant heave a pumpkin off the forklift and onto the scale for the official weighing at the Canby Giant Pumpkin Festival. This one, grown by an 8-year-old, weighed 678.5 lbs. Before they are weighed, the pumpkins are measured with a tape in three dimensions: circumference parallel to the ground and over the top lengthwise and widthwise. Those three numbers are added together and compared against a chart to estimate the weight. Pumpkins that weigh heavier than the chart are more highly valued than those that are light.

It's easy to laugh when you just won $2,500, as Danette Godberry does beside her winning, 1,112.5-lb pumpkin. Technically a first-time grower, she says that she's been an assistant for about 10 years.

Pumpkin flesh goes flying as a 700-lb gourd was dropped 140 feet onto a car to kick off the festival. The car was immediately surrounded by pumpkin growers eager to collect the seeds for next year's crop.

(below) It's hard work being cute all day.

September 22 Monday, October 30, 2006

Grant Quarterback Andre Broadous (no. 7) runs the ball against Southridge on Sept. 22, 2006. Grant won the game 28-14.

Located in the Hollywood district of NE Portland, Grant High School is the largest school in the Portland School District. They were a football powerhouse back in the 1940's and 50's, but haven't had much success since. While they were expected to field their best team in years this season, nobody expected them to play as well as they have. With their victory this past Friday (Oct. 27) against favored Lincoln, they maintained their undefeated record (8-0) and secured the PIL 6A title. Lincoln (7-1) will probably make the state playoffs as well. However, Jesuit High School still stands between either team and the state championship. That game will be played Dec. 9 in Eugene.

Incidentally, you may well have seen Grant High School—it was the location for the filming of Mr. Holland's Opus.

September 21 (part 2)

Bill Kuechmann, a 63-year veteran of the peace movement, shows his feelings about the war in Iraq as part of a protest held in Marshall Community Park in Vancouver on Sept. 21, 2006. Vancouver for Peace, which demonstrates weekly at the site, organized an all-day camp as part of nation-wide Day of Peace activities.

I first photographed a Vancouver for Peace activity back in March. They have been protesting the war every week, but for Sept. 21 they put an extra effort into getting their voices heard. As well as setting up an all-day camp on a busy corner in Vancouver, a small delegation marched down to the offices of Rep. Brian Baird, D-Wash., to talk with him. They had more luck than the group in Portland. While they couldn't meet with the congressman (he was in Washington), they were able to meet with his representative.

Kelly Love (third from left), Acting District Director for Rep. Brian Baird, meets with anti-war demonstrators in his Vancouver office on Thursday. They presented her with petitions asking the congressman to sign a "Declaration of Peace." The congressman was in Washington, D.C.

September 21 (part 1)

Tom Hastings (sitting, second from left) explains his opinions about the war in Iraq to other peace demonstrators in front of the World Trade Center in Portland on Sept. 21. The group sat in front of the escalators after being refused admission to the building. They wanted to meet with Sen. Gordon Smith.

After I got back from my trip to Canada, I realized that it had been quite a while since I shot anything really newsy. So I looked up my usual sources and, sure enough, there were more war protests planned. These ones were timed to coincide with the UN International Day of Peace. There were demonstrations across the country, but they weren't anywhere near as large as the ones in March. This group—a collection of hardcore peace activists and students from Lewis & Clark University—congregated outside the World Trade Center in Portland, where Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) has his office. I don't think there were even 50 people. After chanting a while outside the building, a smaller delegation planned to go inside to meet the Senator, or at least his representatives. Security wouldn't let them in the building, though, so they sat down in front of the main escalators and talked and sang some more. After about an hour of waiting for something to happen, I left to see what was going on in Vancouver. More about that in part 2.

September 19

I got back to Portland late in the evening of Sept. 18. The next morning, as I was getting myself back into my routine, I heard a police siren in the street below me. That's not too unusual, but I looked up to see the cop pulling over a truck right at the corner of NW Flanders and 22nd—just half a block from my apartment. I watched for a few minutes to see what happened. The two cops talked to the driver for a couple of minutes, he smoked a cigarette. In fact, they almost seemed to be chatting like neighbors.

After a little while, one of the cops wrote out a citation for some offense that wasn't readily apparent. But then the other cop helped the driver unload a dishwasher and a couple of cabinets from the back of the pickup truck. A tow truck came along and removed the vehicle, and the driver was stuck on the sidewalk with his kitchen. He made a phone call, and a few minutes later someone came by and picked him up. I took this photo right from my office window.

September 12

The Precambrian Shield, a huge block of some of the oldest rocks on the surface of the planet, covers most of northern Ontario and Quebec. Right near Kingston, however, it dips down south into the St. Lawrence lowlands, a much newer formation. Apart from getting on a bus at an ungodly hour on a Saturday, the only thing I remember about our first-year geology field trip is that some of the rocks were 1 billion years old, and the others were a mere 500 million years old. Or, in the barely decipherable language of our Chinese TA, "dis rok one bi'n yee oad," and "dat rok five hun'ed mi'in yee oad." Or something like that.

While I was home on this trip, my parents took me for a hike at Gould Lake in the Precambrian Shield just north of Kingston. Gould Lake used to be the site of mica mines, and flakes of the glittery mineral—some almost as big as my palm—were easy to find.

(right) My parents, Peter and Alison, hiking at Gould Lake.

September 10 Friday, October 27, 2006

About a month before I made my trip back to Canada I received an email out of the blue from my friend Keith Carter (left, with his wife, Ann). Keith and I were best friends growing up in Acton, Ont., pretty much from birth (mine, he's older) until I moved to Timmins at age 14. After that, we lost touch.

But thanks to the marvels of the internet, Keith managed to track me down and sent off an email. He lives in Mississauga now, and since I was going to be in the Toronto area, I suggested we get together. He met me near my grandparents' house in Etobicoke with no particular plan in mind, so we made a spontaneous trip back to Acton (about 45 minutes drive). That's only the second time I've been there since we moved, and the first time in about nine years.

After that, we went back to his place for dinner and video games. Keith kicked our butts on the guitar-playing simulator, but I got him back with the martial arts game. Ann beat us both at that one.

September 3

(right) Elliot and Melanie ham it up for the camera.

The first two weeks of September I went back to Ontario for a visit. The timing of the trip stretched from my friend Elliot's wedding through Homecoming at Queen's.

Elliot was one of the first people I met at Queen's. He was in my frosh group, lived on the same residence floor (albeit a different wing) and in the same program. Thanks to the alphabetical proximity of our last names (Ginn/Greenberg) we were in the same section in first year, so we had all of our classes together. And, without any consultation between each other, he even chose the same discipline as me. That wouldn't be so remarkable if we'd chosen electrical or mechanical, which each took about 1/4 of our class. But we ended up in
Materials & Metallurgical, the smallest discipline of them all (16 out of 550 or so).

After going to school in Kingston and starting his career in Port Hope, Elliot returned to Ottawa, where he grew up. He got married there on September 3, with plenty of friends and relatives in attendance. It was a good wedding, with all of the usual traditions. But the highlight of the night, for me, at least, was when Elliot got up on stage to sing. He did a couple of Beatles/John Lennon songs (not a surprise for those who know him).

August 15

Earlier in the summer, another photojournalist I know forwarded an email from an organization called Schoolhouse Supplies that was looking for volunteers to photograph their annual Tools for Schools campaign.

Schoolhouse Supplies is a non-profit organization that operates
a volunteer-run free store for teachers, which is stocked with supplies donated by the community. For the Tools for Schools campaign, companies adopt one of the high-need schools in Portland, load backpacks full of pencils and notepads and such, and deliver them to the kids. I was there on the first day of packing, when front office staff of the Portland Beavers baseball and Portland Timbers soccer clubs were there, as well as employees of Clarity Visual Systems.

The operation was set up like an assembly line, with each volunteer responsible for a single task such as putting the right number of pencils in the pencil case, or putting a pair of scissors in the package. All of the contents were put into backpacks, which were loaded into the back of a waiting vehicle. The whole system ran remarkably smoothly—if I recall correctly, roughly 25 volunteers loaded about 450 packs in about two hours.

Because it was the first day of the campaign, the local media were out to cover it. At right, Jeff Kirsch of news radio station 1190KEX interviews a representative of the Portland Beavers. Two local television stations also dropped by.

August 11

As part of the campaign to launch Homestead Images, I needed a brochure to give to potential customers. To make that, I needed a picture of my product. Fortunately, I know a photographer that I can use on short notice and at a very good rate!

I set up one of my plain white bedsheets on my couch as a backdrop, erected my lights and such, and took a few shots. Then I went through the results, photoshopped out what you could see of the backdrop, and voila!

August 7 Thursday, October 26, 2006

(above) Steve Kaufman, chair of Save Cedar Mill, smiles after Beaverton city council voted 5-0 against Wal-Mart's plans to build a 152,000 square foot store in the community. (Originally published in the Beaverton Valley Times)

The Pacific Northwest has probably the lowest Wal-Mart density of anywhere in North America. Naturally, the folks in Bentonville want to change that. They had hoped to build a new store at the Cedar Hills Blvd. exit of US-26 in Beaverton. The local citizens had different ideas, though. They convinced all five members of Beaverton's city council to vote against the proposal, in spite of the recommendation of the city officials, who had approved Wal-Mart's plans. Initially, Wal-Mart indicated that it would appeal the decision but they have since decided not to drag the fight out any longer.

(right) Wal-Mart lawyer Gregory Hathaway speaks at a well-attended Beaverton City Council meeting.

(left) Beaverton Mayor Rob Drake explains his position on the proposed Wal-Mart.

August 6

(above) Part of Portland's downtown skyline, viewed from SW Vista Ave, looking east

The Portland Tribune recently did a cover story on the best and worst of Portland's architecture. The Wells Fargo Center (at right, above), which is the tallest building in Oregon (546 feet, 41 stories), was identified as the ugliest building in the city. The 1000 Broadway Building (above, center)—derisively known as the "Ban Roll-on Building"—was third on the same list.

(right) The Wells Fargo Center shines in the setting sun beside the less reflective KOIN Center. The KOIN Center made the list of most attractive buildings.

August 5

"I need more doubles. I need more doubles," says Abbas Shafii during a game of backgammon at the Iranian Festival in Portland, Ore., on Aug. 5, 2006. His opponent, Ali Safayi, won two of their three games.

There are approximately 10,000 Iranians living in the Portland metro area. The annual Iranian Festival, held in the South Park Blocks, featured Iranian dancing, music, food, and games.

July 31 Wednesday, October 25, 2006

(above) Minoru Park, Richmond, BC

My three-day trip to Ontario required three additional days of travel. I didn't have to take a red eye flight back west, but the itinerary did include a 21-h
our layover in Vancouver. I didn't actually go downtown, I just got a hotel in Richmond (right by the airport), did a bit of photo work on my laptop, and wandered around a bit. The area I was in was pretty typical downtown suburbia, i.e. not a residential neighbourhood, but no high rises or anything. Just a whole lot of three- and four-storey hotels, chain pubs, and a mall. But, right behind my hotel, was a beautiful park, with a lake, lots of flowers, paths, and two separate lawn bowling pitches. It was also full of these little bunnies that were as tame as the squirrels you find in other parks.

July 29

(right) My sister, Anne/ Annie, fiddles around on the porch at Carruthers Point Girl Guide Camp in Kingston, Ont.

Every summer for the past 100 years or so, my dad's family gets together at Carruthers Point. Originally, that was
where they lived, then there were cottages, and now we rent the Girl Guide Camp on the point. The gathering of family members from near and far climaxes with a family barbecue one weekend.

It's a long way for me to travel, and since I already had a trip planned for the fall, I wasn't planning to go home for this event. However, with the aid of Aunt Katy's Aeroplan points, the opportunity to see my grandparents, sister, and the rest of my family proved too hard to resist. But, because it's more fun that way, I didn't tell my parents that I was coming!

So I boarded the red eye flight from Portland to Ottawa (via Vancouver), where my brother, Stuart, picked me up at the airport. It was early, but we drove straight to Kingston (about 2 hours). My parents weren't there when we arrived—they were separately running errands in town—but others were around so we sat down for breakfast and tea. My dad arrived about an hour later, shocked to see me. Mum arrived that much later yet, and was flabbergasted to say the least. I can say for certain that the joints of her jaw are still solid because if they weren't
, we'd still be looking for her chin somewhere in the rubble beneath the porch. Dad has a picture of the moment somewhere.

(left) My Grandfather, A. Peter Ginn, and another relative, Bob Fleming, show off their matching hats.

When I go back to Kingston, and out to the Point in particular, life is a continuous stream of cooking, eating, cleaning, and tea. As noted above, when Stuart and I arrived the people there were just finishing up their breakfast. So we sat down and ate. Dad came out there just as we were tidying that
up. Mum got there just in time for elevenses (morning tea). As soon as that was finished, it was time to get lunch ready. OK, so there was a bit of a break after we'd cleaned up lunch while the older generation napped and the rest of us took quiet time. But by 3 it was time to get things ready for tea on the beach (another family tradition going back generations). Tea is served around 4, and it wraps up around 5:30 or so when everyone heads back to the cottage to prepare dinner. On special occasions, like the annual barbecue, the windup from that lasts well into the evening. The next morning, it starts again ...

(above) There were 42 of us at the Point this year for the barbecue, every one of them related to me by blood or significant-othership. Stuart's girlfriend, Sue, made it to the dinner, but wasn't there when we took the picture.

July 15 Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Carefully balancing their trays, servers leave the start line at the second annual Air France Waiters Race in Portland, Ore., on July 15, 2006. Jim Bailey of Bluehour (no. 25, left) beat co-worker Allen Weimer (no. 24, center), last year's winner Mike Phillips (no. 12, right) and the rest of the field to win a round-trip plane ticket from San Francisco to Paris. To win the race, waiters walk the roughly one-mile course carrying a tray with three filled glasses and a bottle of water. Penalties are added to their time for any spills.

It's not as easy as it looks—cups tumble and water splashes out of Steve Cebula's bottle as he loses control of his tray rounding turn 4.

The Waiters Race was part of Bastille Day celebrations in Portland, organized by Alliance Francaise de Portland. The Alliance is one of more than 1,100 chapters of the worldwide organization that promotes the French language and culture in 138 countries.

July 9

Portland is home to many events you don't find in most other places. Among them is the Alpenrose Velodrome. One of only 20 such facilities in the United States, it has been the site of numerous national and international cycling events.

I went to photograph the final day of the Alpenrose Challenge, an annual meet featuring some of the best riders in the U.S. and Canada.

All velodromes have steeply banked corners to help the riders make the tight turns on the relatively short track (268 metres at Alpenrose).
Alpenrose's curves are unusually steep—43 degrees, compared to 25-33 degrees at a typical velodrome. That means that the minimum speed through the corners is about 11 mph, otherwise the bike won't stick to the track. That's not a factor in races like the time trials, where riders average over 30 mph. However, in the sprints, where the riders try to strategically position themselves with respect to their opponent, they sometimes try to go too slowly through the corners and the bike slips out from under them.

July 6

Franz Bakery workers maneuver the world's longest hot dog bun across the NE 12th Ave. in Portland on July 6, 2006. The bun, along with a wiener supplied by Hill Meat Co. of Pendleton, Ore., measured 104 feet, 9 1/2 inches, decimating the previous record of 57 feet, 6 inches. It was created to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the bakery.

To bake such a long bun, Franz Bakery had to close a block of NE 12th Ave. and remove a window from their
building. A special, linking pan was created for the bun. The first end of the bun was baked before the back end was even in the oven.

(left) Rob Zimmerman, a production manager at the bakery in Portland, Ore., carefully cuts the bun. The record would not have counted if he had broken the bun.

(right) Ken Waltos, vice president of purchasing for Franz Bakery, makes the official measurement. The record was not to stand for long, though—about a month later, apparently a group in Japan made one about 50 m long—around 160 feet! (Just three years ago, the record was a mere 16 feet.)

July 4

For the Fourth of July, I was hired to photograph the Alan Benson Experience, who played on the main stage of the Waterfront Blues Festival. They got the gig by winning a contest. It was an outdoor event so there was no roof to blow off, but they rocked the house with their Hendrix/Zeppelin-influenced blues. They play around the Portland area on a regular basis, and have upcoming dates at Paradise Harley Davidson, Halibut's II, and the Tillicum.

June 23

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A condominium building is currently under construction right beside the stadium. One day, back in April, I walked by the site and thought, wouldn't it be cool to get a job photographing the construction of a building like that? So I started thinking about what qualifications or experience I would need to get such a gig. It occurred to me that home construction might be the place to start. So I started looking into the possibility of offering photographic services to people building custom homes. As best I can tell, nobody is offering that service anywhere else.

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June 17 Monday, October 23, 2006

One of the benefits of living in Portland is the Ultimate scene. Ultimate is a game between two teams of 7 (plus substitutes) played on a field about the size of a soccer pitch. Basically, you have to pass the disc (Frisbee or other brand) from player to player until you reach the end zone. You can't run with the disc, and if you don't catch a pass, it causes a turnover.

Portland's league is not quite as big as the league in Ottawa, but it is alive and well. I played in the spring rec league this year, and the year-end tournament was held on June 17. Our team (Urine, after the colour of our shirts) didn't win very often but we did win the team spirit award for having the most fun.

Some of the members of our team and another team wanted to sign up for the summer league, but it was full before we got our entry in. So we started a pickup game, which I played in most of the summer. Now, I'm playing in the Fall league under the lights at Delta Park in North Portland. Thankfully, it's an artificial turf field, so it won't be muddy once the rains come.

June 11 Sunday, October 22, 2006

Every year the Pacific Northwest plays host to the world's top croquet players when the International Croquet Invitational tournament comes to the Resort at the Mountain in Welches, Ore. Located at the base of Mt. Hood, about an hour east of Portland, the Resort features swimming, tennis, croquet, and lawn bowling, as well as 27 holes of golf. It also offers close access to skiing, fly fishing, and hiking.

The International Croquet Invitational isn't the backyard game you played as a kid any more than a Formula 1 race car is your red rocket wagon. It is played on a laser-flat surface covered with the same grasses as a golf green. The wickets are only 1/8" wider than the balls, and they don't flex.

There weren't a whole lot of spectators there, and most of the "crowd" was comprised of other players between games. There were some non-players, though, and the other players were on hand to explain the game to those less knowledgeable. The final match (a best-two-of-three affair) included live commentary.

In the final, South Africa's Reg Bamford (who is the top ranked player in the world) was flawless in beating Peter Landrebe of Australia, +26sxp, +26sxp. Basically, that means he ran the table twice in a row. In both games, Landrebe only had two shots to put his balls in play, and later one difficult shot that Bamford had allowed him at a strategic point in the game. Below, Bamford lines up one of his shots en route to winning the tournament final, worth $3,500. The Resort Invitational featured a $7,000 purse, the largest in croquet this year.

May 29 Saturday, October 21, 2006

Memorial Day weekend brings the Multnomah County Fair to Portland, and that means it's time for the Dachsie Dash! That's right, 36 dachsunds—wiener dogs—were racing down a 100-foot course for the title. Released from greyhound chutes, they raced in heats of 6. The top two dogs in each heat advanced to the semifinal, and the top three dogs in each of those races advanced to the championship race.

(above) Avie Warren with dachsund Selah (10 mos.). Selah was not entered in the race, but came to visit with the
other dogs.

(left) Tiko, a two-year-old dachsund, streaks toward handler Jaimie Petrone in the 2006 Dachsie Dash at the Multnomah County Fair in Portland, Ore., on May 29, 2006. Tiko won the heat but was eliminated in the semi-final round.

Some of the handlers take the race more seriously than others. Many train their dogs specifically for the race. (below) Handlers call their dogs to the finish line. Even though the event is just for fun and the prizes are small, the competition between handlers can be fierce—probably beyond the dogs' level of understanding.

May 25

(right) Job Corps workers and Vietnam veterans put the finishing touches on Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall in Lincoln Memorial Park on May 25, 2006. The traveling exhibit is a 3/4-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

(below, left) Hundreds of schoolchildren visited the wall for a hands-on history lesson. James Angus Watt, a third-grader at Kelso Elementary School in Boring, Ore., makes a rubbing of the name he was given to find.

(below, right) Veterans from around the region came to visit the wall as well, to remember their fellow servicemen. Larry Bush served as a combat medic in Vietnam in 1969 and 1970.