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Wandering around Lake O. Saturday, March 29, 2008

I drove down to Lake Oswego this afternoon just to wander around—no particular reason, it was just somewhere pretty close that I don't really know at all.

[right, and below right] Downtown Lake Oswego includes Lake View Village, an upscale shopping complex at the creatively-named intersection of First Street and A Avenue.

The city of about 36,000 is just eight miles south of downtown Portland. It includes Oswego Lake, a 405-acre lake that is privately owned and managed. That's right—lots of fancy homes that sit right on the lake shore, so unless you live there, you can hardly even see it.

[below] Homes on North Shore Blvd. which, ironically, is on the south shore of the lake (but north of South Shore Blvd.).

A few things that are bugging me Thursday, March 27, 2008

OK, this post will be a bit different than the usual fare. No crazy new photos to share, just a few things to get off my chest.

First beef: shopping bags. Recently, these flimsy little plastic sacs have been in the news again, mostly due to their overabundance and general persistence in the environment. I saw something on television the other night about a Texas-sized blob of these things floating in the Pacific Ocean, and some places—notably San Francisco—have banned them.

"Biodegradable" bags are not much better than the , as they simply break into small pieces that hang around just as long. Many stores also offer paper bags, but of course those have their own issues—they degrade better, but they're more expensive, heavier, and require trees. That's without even comparing the functional differences between the two. (Reusable bags are coming into vogue, but there are issues with those too.)

I agree that there are way too many of these things littering the streets and, though I haven't seen it personally, too many in the oceans. But rather than make them illegal, it seems to me that there are two relatively simple solutions that will drastically reduce the number of bags that end up in the trash.

One—make them easier to recycle. Here in Portland, at least in my neighborhood, we have two recycling bins: one for glass, and one for all the other recyclables. Except shopping bags. They have the little recycling symbol on them, but you can't put them in with the other plastics that you recycle. I've heard rumors that you can recycle them at the grocery store, but I haven't seen any evidence of that. The American public has shown that it is capable of, even committed to, separating recyclables from trash when they have the option. Give people the ability to recycle plastic shopping bags, and the number going into the landfills and oceans will go down drastically.

Two—use less of them. As light and flimsy as these bags seem, they are amazingly strong. So why do store clerks insist on double-bagging everything? Yes, they can split if punctured and occasionally the bottom isn't properly sealed, but that could be fixed with some minor design changes and quality control. I bet if groceries were only single-bagged, the number of bags in the environment would drop by about 40%. (I don't even know what to say about the stunning number of people around here who ask to have their groceries put into paper bags within plastic bags.)

So I'll move onto the ...

Second beef: Meteorologists and the word "normal." All year around, you hear TV and radio weather forecasters saying things like "Tonight, the mercury will go down to 35 degrees. The normal low on Mar. 28 in Portland is 39 degrees ..."

Well, I'm no meteorologist, but I'm calling BS on that. Thirty-nine degrees Fahrenheit may be the average low on Mar. 28, but it doesn't take a genius to realize that it's normally anything but 39°. In fact, for the data I looked at (overnight lows at the airport 1941-2007) it was never 39° on Mar. 28 (for the whole data set, the daily low matched the average 7.5% of the time).

Even if you give the average a range of, say, plus or minus two degrees you still capture less than a third of the nightly lows. In other words, more than two-thirds of the time—normally, in my parlance—the temperature isn't "normal." You have to go to ±4° to get a range that it normally is within.

I know that weather forecasters have to study a lot of statistics in university, so they should understand the distinction between "normal" and "average." For that matter, average (I assume they mean "mean") probably isn't the right measure. Median would be more appropriate. But that's another discussion.

Third beef: This is less of a beef, really, than a ... I dunno what to call it. But the local broadcasts of the Trail Blazers basketball games are awful. I don't really know who exactly is in charge—Comcast SportsNet, I think—but it's just bad. I mean, I can understand them being a bit onside for the home team, but the habitual use of the pronouns "we" and "us" is a little pretentious. The sideline interviews are predictable in a genre defined by cliches. But the one that really got me, about a month ago now, in the halftime show, was the commentator who described someone doing something "slowly, if that's a word." Surely (if that's a word) the executives hiring personalities to speak regularly (if that's a word) in front of mass audiences are considering whether or or not they can use adverbs properly (if that's a word).

Alright, enough griping.

Girls basketball championships Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Ariel Reynolds leads a stream of Jefferson players and fans onto the court after the Democrats clinched their first state basketball championship Mar. 8 with a 67-58 win over Hermiston.

OK, these are a little after-the-fact but as they say, better late than never. The girls' 5A and 6A state championship games were played back-to-back on Mar. 8 at the Chiles Center. In the opening match, Jefferson came back from a 12-point halftime deficit to win 67-58 over Hermiston in the 5A class. The win capped an amazing 27-0 season for the Lady Demos. (Sidenote: Jefferson also won the boys 5A title this year, the first time one school has won both the boys and girls since Stayton won both 3A titles in 1995.)

[left] Jefferson's Denaya Brazzle had a big night off the bench. The sophomore scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Demos in the 5A state championship game. [below] Jefferson fans mob the team after the Lady Demos won their first state basketball championship.

Melair Holterhoff of Oregon City draws a foul as she tries to split the defense of Allie Brock and Michelle Jenkins Mar. 8 in the third quarter of the 6A state championship game. Though the Pioneers kept the game close, Southridge led start-to-finish en route to a 49-43 win. [below] Michelle Jenkins (left) and Alex Earl celebrate their fourth state basketball championship Mar. 8 at the Chiles Center in Portland.

The nightcap was a rematch of the 2006 big-school final. Between them, Southridge and Oregon City have won 14 of the last 17 state titles—the first 10 of those for Oregon City and, after this year, four consecutive for Southridge. Alex Earl and Michelle Jenkins have been a part of all four of those teams.

[left] Senior Kiara Tate scored 10 points and grabbed seven rebounds for Southridge in the 6A championship match. (Michelle Jenkins led the Skyhawks with 15 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists.)

Team banquet

Coach Peeler addresses the girls and their families at the Cardinals' team banquet Mar. 18 at The Old Spaghetti Factory in Portland.

Like most teams, the Lincoln High School's basketball season ends with a banquet. The Cardinals—varsity, JV and freshmen—and their families gathered Tuesday night at The Old Spaghetti Factory for a pasta dinner. Between coaches, athletes, parents and siblings there must have been about 70 people there.

As you might imagine—and I should have anticipated—lighting in the restaurant was less than ideal for photography. Fortunately, I had a pair of speedlights and a set of pocketwizards on hand. Nevertheless, it was a challenge to light the oddly-shaped, dark wood-paneled room with two different ceiling heights (both dark wood), a couple of mirrors, a window, and no center of focus (e.g. a stage or podium).

The aftermath.

I ended up just putting the lights on some serving tables on two sides of the room near the table the varsity team was sitting at, pointed them straight up, and tried to hide them behind someone's head. Most of the time it worked out well enough.

After dinner, Nancy Palmer, the de facto treasurer for the team, counts contributions toward a bill which approached $1000.

War Protest V Monday, March 17, 2008

Last Saturday, about 4000 people marched through downtown Portland to mark the fifth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. The event was organized by the Portland Peace Coalition.

This is the third time I've photographed this rally in Portland. Two years ago, about 12,000 people rallied on the waterfront. It was a pretty peaceful, family-style gathering.

Last year, a similar number turned out, including a large contingent of anarchists, and there were a number of incidents resulting in arrests, the use of pepper spray and tear gas, and a standoff with police at the Justice Center.

This year, perhaps because of the rain, the event was much smaller. It was also more peaceful—no arrests that I'm aware of. On my way home from the rally, I saw a contingent of about 20 police officers in full riot gear just hanging around a couple blocks away from the rally, waiting for a call.

As you can see/hear in the slide show, the tail end of the march evolved into a moving dance party featuring the March Fourth Marching Band. (I don't know if Black Rock City has a high school marching band, but if they do they probably sound like M4.) They always put on a good show. During this year's protest march, it included an impromptu version of Edwin Starr's "War (what is it good for)" ... very cool.

Nothing to do with basketball Saturday, March 15, 2008

... Fifteen centimetres of snow fell overnight in the region, but the major pummelling of up to 35 cm began Saturday afternoon and lasted into the evening. Wednesday's storm unleashed 28 cm of white powder on the Ottawa area. ... (CBC report, Mar. 10)

... Like a swaggering house guest that refuses to leave, winter unleashed a vicious late-season storm upon Eastern Canada over the weekend, stranding thousands of March break travellers and testing the limits of a weather-weary nation's endurance. ... (The Globe & Mail, Mar. 10)

... Ottawa has already registered this winter as the second snowiest one on record, said Environment Canada severe weather meteorologist Rob Kuhn.

Their total so far at the end of this last storm is 410.7 centimetres, and the record for the slowiest [sic] is 444.1 in 1970-1971," said Kuhn. ... (Canadian Press, Mar. 8)

Hoops & Hopes Friday, March 14, 2008

I can't exactly say that the Lincoln basketball story is "done," but the season is over, and it (well, some of it) was published today. If you live in Portland, pick up a copy of the Tribune, otherwise check out their website.

The story you see there is a bit more about me than I would have liked, but that's the feel that the editor wanted. It got a full page (not quite as much as we had hoped), in b&w (shame); they ran five good photos.

(I've been using the working title "Nothing but net," but that always seemed lame. They called it "The Lincoln Log," which is a bit corny for my taste, but whatever. I came up with "Hoops & Hopes" this morning, long after the issue went to press.)

And when you're done with that, if you have 12-1/2 minutes to spare, check out the season in review, which I just published on the Trillium Media Services website (here). Broadband connection highly recommended. (Links to the other related stories I've done are also on that page. Those are shorter.)

I have a couple other stories I'd like to put together with this material, but we'll see ... it might be a while.

Jefferson vs. Willamette Monday, March 10, 2008

[left] Willamette's Alyxe Bruns gets a hand on the ball before Janita Badon can take her shot Mar. 7 in the 5A semifinal. The referee called a jump ball on the play. [below] Janita Badon disputes a call in the second quarter. The senior will play at the University of Utah next year.

[left] Alyxe Bruns of Willamette goes for a layup against Jefferson's Tyrisha Blake Mar. 7 late in the third quarter of the Lady Demos' 55-44 win over the Wolverines.

Although Jefferson won the game, you have to give props to Willamette, who hung with the Demos better than any team I'd seen before. Particularly impressive were Alyxe Bruns, Katie Collins, and Ashley Smith, who played the full game for the Wolverines. Alyssa Garner played all but two minutes.

With help from an overtime game against Ashland, those four players played more than any others in the tournament.

The Shoni Schimmel Show Sunday, March 09, 2008

Probably the one girl that everybody at last week's state basketball tournament was at least a little curious about was Hermiston's Shoni Schimmel.

Schimmel shone as a freshman at the tournament last year, and didn't disappoint this year. She scored 61 points in her three games, including 31 against Wilsonville Friday. She also added 23 rebounds, 21 assists, and 14 steals over the course of the tournament. Naturally, she was a unanimous selection to the 5A First All-Tournament team.

Unfortunately, her efforts weren't enough to win a state title for Hermiston. But she does have two more years to try.

Lincoln bounces back Friday, March 07, 2008

Tresa Palmer drives in on North Medford's McKenzie Smith in the first quarter of the Cardinals' 47-40 win Mar. 7.

Lincoln bounced back from yesterday's loss in the quarterfinals to beat North Medford 47-40 in the consolation round. With the win, the Cardinals put themselves into Saturday's 4th place/6th place match against South Eugene.

The Cardinals started off flat, shooting only 3-20 in the first half. At the break, they were down 23-17.

They came back strong with a 15-6 third quarter, and held tough in the fourth to secure the win.

Knowing that it would be her last game if they lost, Palmer said she wanted to "leave it all on the court." She played one of her most aggressive games of the season. She only scored two points, but led the Cardinals defensively with five boards and four steals.

Iris Lerch also played much better than yesterday, scoring eight points and grabbing three boards and two steals of her own.

Sunset knocks off Lincoln, 33-31 Thursday, March 06, 2008

Aliyah Green chases Sunset's Laura Stanulis after a turnover in the fourth quarter of the Cardinals' 33-31 loss Mar. 6 in the 6A quarterfinal at the Chiles Center. Stanulis collected 14 rebounds for the Apollos, who will play Oregon City in Friday's semifinal. Lincoln will face North Medford in the consolation round Friday morning.

This was a painful game to watch ... no flow, little scoring and no flow.

With the score tied at 31 with about 3 seconds left on the clock, the refs called a f
oul on Aliyah Green--her fifth. Anna Johnson made both her free throws to give the win to Sunset and send the Cardinals to the consolation round.

Tresa Palmer gets a hug from her parents, John and Nancy, after the game.

Lincoln faces North Medford Friday morning in the consolation round. The winner of that game will play Saturday for fourth place.

Girls State Basketball Tournament Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Chiles Center at the University of Portland is playing host to the top 5A and 6A girls basketball teams in the state this week. The tournament started Wednesday with the 5A quarterfinal round.

[right] Melinda Ingalls leads Wilsonville to a 66-52 win over Crater Mar. 5 at the 5A state basketball tournament in Portland. Ingalls had 23 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists and 10 steals for the Wildcats, who will play Hermiston in the semifinals Friday.

[left] Hermiston sophomore Shoni Schimmel flies out of control after a collision with Corvallis's Gabe Johnson in the second quarter of the Bulldogs 51-46 win. Schimmel was hurt on the play and sat out the rest of the second period, but returned to play after halftime. She led the Bulldogs with 14 points before fouling out late in the game.

[right] Gabe Johnson of Corvallis drives past Hermiston's Michelle Coombs. Johnson led the Spartans with 19 points and added 8 rebounds.

The 6A teams play their quarterfinal matches Thursday. You can find all the latest results and listen to the games on the OSAA website.

Keeping Portland Weird Tuesday, March 04, 2008

I promised more on the Urban Iditarod. Here you go.

For information on the event in Alaska, go here.

Back to the Chiles Center Saturday, March 01, 2008

It's all smiles for the Cardinals as they beat Reynolds 46-37 Mar. 1 in the second round of the OSAA 6A girls basketball playoffs. Playing in front of legions of Raiders fans bused to Portland for the game, Lincoln came out strong with a 15-6 first quarter and held on from there.

The Cardinals will play Sunset in the first round of the state championship tournament next Thursday at the Chiles Center. Sunset beat Lincoln 50-48 on Dec. 4.

[right] Kelsey Goodell squeezes between Kelsey O'Neil (left) and Rachel Scarpelli Mar. 1 in the first quarter of the Cardinals' 46-37 win over Reynolds.

Portland Urban Iditarod

Hundreds of "dogs" mushed their way around downtown Portland today in the seventh running of the Urban Iditarod.

More to follow ...