Photo archive (partial)

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Pilot makes emergency landing on street Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Breaking news ... check the story on Local News Daily.

This was a case of being in the right place at the right time. I was still in the parking lot of the Gresham Outlook after a meeting with their Managing Editor, when she called me and asked if I could take an assignment right away. The result is on their website. I'll put some additional photos up here sometime next week.

Oregon Holocaust Memorial Monday, January 29, 2007

The Oregon Holocaust Memorial is located in Portland's Washington Park. It was dedicated in 2004, ten years after the idea of a memorial was conceived by local survivors.

Soil and ash from the six killing-center camps are interred beneath the memorial. As well as a history of the Holocaust etched in black marble, it features short quotes of survivors' memories, and cast sculptures symbolizing items lost by Jews sent to the internment camps: a dropped suitcase, lost teddy bear, broken fiddle, and broken glasses strewn along the path to the memorial wall.

Stacey Johnson reads the Oregon Holocaust Memorial in Washington Park in Portland.

Reach out and touch someone Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sean Connolly of Westview High School lifts Tyrel Peasley of Burns in the 130-pound championship match at the Reser's Tournament of Champions in Hillsboro on Saturday. Although Connolly appeared to throw his opponent around the mat for much of the match, Peasley won the title.

Wrestling is all about physical contact, and sometimes that contact is more, um, intimate than others. It puts high school boys in touch with each other in ways that would never be seen off the mat. And we're not just talking about the little pat on the butt you might see on the football field ...

The Reser's Tournament of Champions is an annual invitational meet that features the top wrestling schools in Oregon regardless of classification (1A/2A through 6A). Twenty schools from Pendleton to Grants Pass competed in the event, which bills itself as one of the toughest wrestling tournaments in the country.

Mt. Hood

Mt. Hood, seen from the Street of Dreams site near Oregon City. This is the view that the homeowners will have from their backyards ... on a clear day.

Marcy Wickman Thursday, January 25, 2007

In her work as a steamfitter, Marcy Wickman builds industrial piping systems with plastic and stainless steel tubing for companies like Intel. The pipes carry chemicals and chemical waste, but no steam.

You can read about Marcy's transition from an office manager in the health care industry to a steamfitter with UA Local Union 290 - Plumbers, Steamfitters and Marine Fitters in the current edition of The Portland Observer.

Pro-Choice supporters rally on anniversary of Roe v. Wade Monday, January 22, 2007

Pro-Choice supporters rally in Portland, Ore., on Jan. 21, 2007. With chants of "Not the church, not the state, women should decide their fate," more than 50 people made the short march from Shemanski Fountain to First Unitarian Church in downtown Portland. The event was organized by the Pro-Choice Coalition of Oregon to commemorate the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, which was handed down on Jan. 22, 1973.

Googleville Sunday, January 21, 2007

A sign identifies a roadside convenience store near Dallesport, Wash., as "Googleville." The internet search company Google is building a major computer center across the Columbia River in The Dalles, Ore.

You can read more about the semi-secret project on the New York Times website.

Jesuit 50, Westview 48 Friday, January 19, 2007

Westview High School junior Terell Wallace (left) scrambles to recover the ball ahead of Jesuit's Kevin McShane after losing control in the final seconds of Friday night's game. After trailing for most of the game, Jesuit came back in the fourth quarter to win 50-48.

Jesuit's boys basketball team, which won the Metro League title and finished third at the state tournament, entered Friday night's game ranked no. 5 in the state with a 12-2 record. Nevertheless, they found themselves in the position of underdog as they hosted fourth-ranked Westview (11-3) in the opening round of league play.

And Westview showed why it was the favorite, easily controlling the first half of the game, and carrying a five-point lead into the fourth quarter.

Jesuit hung close throughout, though, and thrilled hundreds of fans in attendance by taking the lead with just over four minutes to play. In the final minutes, the Crusaders led by as many as six points, but Westview tied the game at 48 with less than a minute on the clock.

Jesuit controlled the ball, though, so the Wildcats were forced to send them to the foul line. Kevin Chalmers went two for two to make the score 50-48 with just 13.4 seconds left on the clock.

Westview had another chance to tie the game, but junior Terell Wallace lost control of the ball as they worked for position. Jesuit recovered and ran out the clock.

(left) Westview High School's Kirk Forstrom tries to dunk on a fast break in the second quarter. He missed the shot, but the Wildcats scored on the rebound.

(below) Jesuit High School students flood onto the court to congratulate their basketball team after a come-from-behind 50-48 victory over Westview on Friday night.

Rose Plaza Landscaping

Workers from de Block Landscaping Services plant trees and shrubs at the Rose Plaza apartment building in NW Portland on Jan. 19, 2007, about two weeks after they removed the old landscaping. Italian Cypress trees and nandina replaced the yews that were intruding on the sidewalk. The seven-storey building was repainted brown and gold last fall, and the lobby was remodeled a year earlier.

[In an unrelated story, my rent & utilities charge goes up by $50 per month in February. Thankfully, that will be offset by a $0.13 decrease in my cable bill.]

All quiet on the Street of Dreams Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Snow-covered equipment sits idle today at the site of the 2007 Street of Dreams in Oregon City. Many schools and businesses were closed today after yesterday's snowstorm left Portland's roads icy and treacherous.

When I went to bed on Monday evening, the weather forecasters were betting on just a trace of snow falling Tuesday morning in the Portland metro area. By the time I got up on Tuesday morning, there was already more than an inch on the ground, and it kept falling until mid-morning. By the time it stopped, two to four inches had fallen across the city.

In the City of Roses, where schools seem to close for even a heavy frost, chaos ensued. While ODOT and city crews worked hard to clear the roads, it was just too much for them to handle. The TV news stations played almost continuous footage of cars sliding down the roads bouncing off one another, or just getting stuck going up the slightest hills. Perhaps the craziest video was shot by an amateur just a few blocks from my apartment.

Many kids, who didn't have to go to school, spent the day sledding. Unfortunately, there were dozens of sledding injuries reported, including a 14-year-old boy in Vancouver who was hit by a minivan when he slid out into the street in front of it. Rescuers had to jack up the vehicle to free the boy.

The worst decision, however, had to be the father who was towing his 9-year-old daughter and an 18-year-old friend on an innertube behind his truck. As he was doing donuts in a field, the tube slammed into a brick bench, fatally injuring the girl. Police have said that alcohol was a factor. You can read more about that, also on KGW.

I had plenty to keep me occupied indoors yesterday. Although the roads around my house remained snowcovered this morning, I headed down to the Street of Dreams site outside of Oregon City, where excavation on one of the houses was supposed to start today. (It didn't.)

Homestead Images has made arrangements with three of the six builders (KDC Construction, Lakeside Custom Homes, and West One Homes) to document the construction of their homes. Construction will be complete by early July, and the show is open to the public from July 27 through Aug. 26.

Mt. Adams, Washington Sunday, January 14, 2007

Mt. Adams, viewed from a Hood River orchard on Jan. 13, 2007.

About halfway between Mount Rainier and Mount Hood, and 60 miles east of Mount St. Helens, Mount Adams looms over the Columbia River Gorge near Hood River, Ore. At 12,277 feet (3,742 m) high, it is the second highest mountain in the Cascade Range (after Rainier).

Like its sisters, Adams is volcanic. Although it is not currently active, it is considered dormant, not extinct. Its last eruption was around 3000 years ago.

Butting out in Portland's public parks? Thursday, January 11, 2007

A smoker butts out his cigarette in Pioneer Courthouse Square on Jan. 11 after receiving a yellow warning card from square security. A smoking ban in Portland's living room came into effect on Jan. 1.

Less than two weeks after a ban on smoking in Pioneer Courthouse Square came into effect, Portland City Council is considering a motion that would further restrict smoking in public parks.

Smoking in the bus stops and MAX stations in Portland's living room was prohibited 2005, and outlawed throughout the square on Jan. 1. Now, a proposal initiated by Commissioner Randy Leonard would expand the ban to all city parks.

Diane Laughter, Tobacco Prevention Coordinator for the American Lung Association of Oregon, speaks before Portland City Council as they debate a motion that would restrict smoking in public parks.

Public health agencies such as the American Lung Association and Multnomah County Health Department are supporting the ban as a means of reducing the incentive to smoke, especially for youth who see the example of adults smoking in parks.

Other city commissioners have concerns about the proposal. Applying the ban to all city parks would include golf courses and Portland International Raceway, says Commissioner Dan Saltzman.

Other groups have some concerns about the proposal. Marc Jolin spoke on behalf of JOIN, which helps the homeless get off the street. He expressed concern that the law would be used unfairly against his constituents, but said he was comforted by the tone of the discussion during today's council meeting.

Given the concerns of the council, Commissioner Leonard softened the proposal. Now, it would prohibit smoking within 25 feet of picnic tables and playgrounds, and council is considering the possibility of establishing smoking sections at PIR and on golf courses.

The proposed legislation would amend City Code Chapter 20.12, Prohibited Conduct in Parks.

(below) Commissioner Randy Leonard, left, speaks about his motion to ban smoking in public parks at today's city council meeting.

New blog template Wednesday, January 10, 2007

From the editor:

You may notice that Letters Home has switched to a (slightly) different template. The main difference is added width, so there is more room for captions and text beside the photos. The change may or may not be apparent on your monitor, depending on how wide your screen is.

It may make some of the lines of text a bit wide to read, but since it is largely photo-based we believe the overall readability of the blog will be improved.

It may also change the arrangement of older posts, but we do not intend to edit those just to correct the layout. Future posts will take this new layout into consideration.

Please feel free to comment or email me with feedback on the new layout.

Mustaches of the American West Tuesday, January 09, 2007

From 2002 to 2005 I lived in Elko, Nev. When I first moved there (from Ontario, Canada) I couldn't help but notice the huge mustaches worn by an abnormally large proportion of the men there.

Among other things, Elko is home to the annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, and nowhere are the mustaches more prevalent than around the Western Folklife Center during the gathering. Being basically clean-shaven (and mustache-challenged) my whole life, I thought the whiskers were pretty cool, as well as distinct.

I won't say this is why I got into photography, but it is how. During the 2004 Gathering, I snapped a horrid photo of a gentleman whose whiskers were waxed out almost as wide as his shoulders. Later that e
vening, that photo came up as I was discussing what I'd seen with friends. It occurred to me that the mustaches would be a good subject for a documentary. Armed with some supportive feedback from my friends, I figured that the someone who should do that documentary could be me. The rest, as they say, is history.

A month or so ago, I entered a selection of the photos from the project in "Critical Mass," a juried competition associated with Photolucida, which is a "week-long celebration of photography" held every other year in Portland. Today I found out that my project was one of the top 150 entries (of 393) selected in the pre-screening process. My entry will be sent to over 200 reviewers from across the U.S. and around the world, who will judge it against the other 149. If I end up in the top three it will be published in a monograph; if I'm in the top 40 the photos will be permanently posted on Photolucida's website.

More importantly, getting to this step means my work will be seen by museum curators, art gallery directors, and book and magazine publishers. Hopefully one or more of them will be interested in the project, even if I don't finish in the top bracket. Results are expected in about two months.

(You can see more images from Mustaches of the American West here.)

(top) Jim Ross, Jamestown, Calif. (below) Ernie Gonzales, Santaquin, Utah.

Elks Memorial Wrestling Tournament Sunday, January 07, 2007

Gabe Starr (top) of Silverton HS wrestles with Centennial's Ricky McBee in the 145-pound championship match at the Elks Memorial Tournament in Hood River on Jan. 6, 2007. Starr won the title by beating McBee 5-4.

Wrestlers from eight high schools traveled to Hood River, Ore., to compete in the Elks Memorial Tournament on Jan. 6, 2007.

Led by Zack Clark (103 lbs), Gabe Starr (145 lbs), and Ivan Durrant (152 lbs), Silverton High School won the meet with 219 points. Host sc
hool Hood River Valley finished second with 200.5. Reynolds HS, from Troutdale, finished third with 185.5 points.

Alex Titus of Hood River Valley HS is declared the winner of the 275-pound championship after pinning Jacob Peters (right) of Silverton HS at 1:27.

Zach Murphy of Centennial High School controls the arm of Lucas Mora, an unattached wrestler from Silverton HS, in their 125-pound semi-final match. Murphy went on to win the title in that weight class. Mora finished fourth.

Ricky McBee of Centennial High School is consoled by his coach after losing the 145-pound championship match by a single point.

Moving day Friday, January 05, 2007

All packed up in the living room of Stacey's NE Portland house.

Less than a year after relocating from Atlanta to Portland, Stacey found her "dream job" as the customer service rep for OutdoorPlay, a kayak and canoe outfitter based in Hood River, Ore. It's in the Columbia River gorge about 60 miles east of Portland, so it was time to move again.

Yesterday (Jan. 4) was moving day, and I was there to help (camera in hand, of course).

Stacey had just about everything packed up in rubbermaids when I got there.
(Most of the furniture in the house belonged to her housemate.) We just had to pick up the U-Haul, load it, drive to her new home, unload, and return the truck.

(right) Stacey picked out the smallest U-Haul available.

Everything went really smoothly. There was a bit of rain in the gorge as we drove, but we saw a rainbow which Stacey took to be a positive sign.

She spent last night at her old place with her cats, and today she's moving them to their new abode.

(left) Everything fit into the back of the U-Haul with room to spare. A week ago, Stacey took some of her most fragile items to Hood River in her car. The cats and her kayaks will go today.

(right) Stacey looks up the directions to her new home online.

Ideally, there would be a picture of us unloading the truck at the other end, but I was busy doing that and not taking pictures. I did promise Stacey, though, that I would get a picture of her new place when it is all neat and organized. Stay tuned ...

PIL vs. Metro League Thursday, January 04, 2007

Grant High's Jessica Musgrave (left) goes for the block against Leah Brushwein of Beaverton High during their inter-league match on Jan. 3, 2007. Beaverton won the game 51-41.

The Portland Interscholastic League (PIL), and Metro League have set up a week-long series of inter-league basketball matchups to build a rivalry between each other. On Jan. 3, Beaverton and Southridge high schools represented the Metro League in a double header against the PIL's Grant and Lincoln, respectively.

The Metro League schools were favored in both matches.

Beaverton's girls team, currently tied for 9th in the AP poll of 6A-level schools, beat unranked Grant 51-41. Grant played tough throughout the game, and held a four-point lead with about 4 minutes to go, but were unable to pull off the upset.

The second game was a defensive battle between two-time defending state champions Southridge (currently
ranked no. 2 in the state) against unranked hosts Lincoln. Like their PIL compatriots in the first half of the double header, Lincoln kept the match close. However, a number of fouls and accurate free throw shooting by Southridge made most of the difference in the game, which ended 36-26 in Southridge's favor.

Jessica Musgrave drives past Emily Shoemaker of Beaverton High School.

Lincoln junior Makenzie Blythe drives past Southridge's Kiara Tate during the second quarter
of their game.

Lincoln's Kylee Muir tries to contain Michelle Jenkins of Southridge after Jenkins grabbed a rebound in the second quarter.

Kiara Tate of Southridge scores an easy layup on a fast break during the third quarter of their game against Lincoln on Jan. 3, 2007.