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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Rose City Redux

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Back in Portland now, and it feels wonderful.
I couldn't have had a better welcome! (More on that in a minute.)
I've been busting tail for the last couple weeks trying to catch up on all the Mexican food and micro brews that I missed out on for the last 2 years. Oh that, and moving into a house and trying to get a business going.

First the trip home: Had to abandon my original flight due to high heat and the complications that causes when flying with a dog...and ended up having to try and fly early early morning standby in order to get to PDX before the temperatures rose. Huge thanks to my parents for delivering Oskar and I to the airport at a ridiculous hour. Got lucky and the gamble worked - otherwise, we could have been stuck in Charlotte for a week, judging from the weather report.

Because of the flight shenanigans, I called John & Julie, who generously offered to pick Oskar & me up, and canceled - because I had no way to predict if and when an arrival would occur. I did call from Chicago to let them know all had worked out, but that I was going to find my own way since I was arriving now in the middle of a workday. No flight info was exchanged.

Upon arrival in Portland, I was just cruising along toward the baggage area, thinking that I was on my own, when I encountered a welcoming party of 8 or so people! Totally unexpected. I was completely floored, in fact. Couldn't believe it, or for that matter form a sentence. It couldn't have made me feel any better about my decision to return. Thanks y'all, you are the main reason Oregon is my home; friends just don't come any better. Oskar arrived safely too, and got the greeting of his life also, and an Oregon duck chewtoy as well.

I've been here now for three weeks, and they have been a crazy blur. Sorry for taking so long to confirm my arrival, but there has been just so much to do. And of course, wanting to see everybody and everything again too. I am still trying to see a good friends for the first time upon return even now, weeks after arrival! How busy we all have become. If I haven't tracked you down yet, please know that it's not for a lack of want.

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The business is now alive, if not quite airborne. I had my first real client interview yesterday for a house remodel project that involves... moving one wall. I don't even think I'll get the project. She was shopping around for architects, and I'm fairly sure my portfolio full of large commercial projects didn't really seem applicable to the job at hand, in her mind.

The same day that I was begging this lady for her humble job, Ernest sent me this article about designing an entire city from scratch. Talk about a design practice on the complete opposite end of the spectrum!

Meanwhile I am assisting my good friend Calvert with her house remodel project - not because she needs help (she's an Architect), but because she's generous and pretends I can help.
I've also been hired for a bit of work by my friends the generous and talented Keyan and Alexia of eM|Zed Design, who are so awesome that they are currently overwhelmed in work. Thanks also to all of my other friends who are generously assisting me in many many ways - advice, referrals, encouragement, etc.

Additionally, I just spoke to my old Portland employer, and they are going to hire me freelance for 20 hrs a week for a few months, so at least I know I can pay the rent now for a bit.

Actually, my first official job is probably one that has been kicking around for some time now: a house for Steve and Kate in Baja, Mexico. After a couple years of dreaming about it, the project is finally starting to shape up! It's still at least 6 months away, but I am so looking forward to it.

The business now has a name...Lyons Hunter Williams : Architecture.
We now have a domain (thats a royal "we", there's really just me...shhh), a (crude) website, email addresses (even for nonexistent people like our "accounts" department), a phone line, a yellow pages listing, multiple licenses, an accountant, a lawyer, business cards being printed, and the start of a reference library.

I also have a new car. It was a hard slog on Craigslist to find a decent car, and then manage to get there ahead of the pack. Huge thanks to Francis for letting me borrow his truck while I was wheel-less. The new car is perfect though - a fun-to-drive VW golf, complete with bike/surf racks included.

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I've made it back into the Oregon surf, and crikey that's some cold water. Even the air felt cold to me - while changing in the parking lot I'm wearing about 5 layers and a hat; everyone else is barefoot, in shorts, and no shirts. I guess I have some re-acclimating to do.

Had a great Portland experience this evening: went to watch a Roller Derby match. Yep, just like you remember from the seventies. Better yet, I know someone on one of the teams! I'm not sure she wants the world to know her secret identity, so I'll just give her roller-name: D. Konstructor. The savvy will get a clue to her profession from the name. She turned out to be the star of the night, coming from behind and scoring the winning points in the final minutes. I had a blast, and I practically screamed myself hoarse. Silly, campy fun, and actually quite intense sport. Pure Portland in spirit.

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So now that I'm back Stateside, I just can't imagine feeling too inspired to blog much anymore - I'll be putting most of my energy into just trying to earn enough to eat, and somehow I don't expect that what I'll be doing will be all that unusual or gripping. Most of you live in Portland with me anyway! So thanks for reading along, all half a dozen of you, but don't expect much more at this address.

And to close, an explanation of the horse pictures above. Throughout Portland you will see those metal rings set into curbs - the story being that they are left over from the days of horse drawn carriages, and were to provide a place to tie one's mount. In typical Portland fashion, someone has taken it upon themselves to tie up little plastic horses to these rings, all over the city. These two are right near my house. Man I love Portland.

Cheers Everyone!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Southern Living

As my visit to Black Mountain, North Carolina (the belt buckle of the bible belt) draws to an end, here are a few random observations.

  • The weather has been beautiful. Warm and sunny, with plants blooming and lots of meals on the deck. Weather like this makes you want to live here.
  • This country here in the hills is beautiful and scenic. Mountains, rivers, lakes.
hummingbirds on the backporch
  • People here are generally friendly and open. Nice vibe where people ask and actually want to know how you are doing. They ask in a thick drawling accent without much regard for grammar, but that's aiight.
nearby Jonesborough, Tennesee
  • Motorcycles have enjoyed a renaissance here to the point of taking over. Harleys in particular. Bikers everywhere. Swannanoa - a tiny country town near Black Mountain - has a Harley Davidson store that is the size of a Wall Mart. There is also no helmet law here; I guess this is Darwin's way of thinning the Redneck population.
  • Monster Trucks are as popular as ever.
The "Pork Chop"
  • One local business advertises: 100% USA Hillbilly Owned
  • The Wall Mart is always packed. The parking lot is full every time I have passed, morning or evening.
  • The food here is seriously rich. No healthy options. Huge portions, cooked in grease, covered in sauce. Even the few veggies on offer.
  • The average person's size is proportional to the uber-caloric nature of the food.
  • Went on a jetboat ride with my family. We did 360's in the lake. Yee Haw, coo coo coo.
Jet Boat
Goin' native.
  • Visited great old college friend Mike Knoblauch and wife Barbara Jane and family in Atlanta for a very nice weekend. Mike has his pilot's license and took me up for a cruise around in the Cessna.
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Pilot Mike

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Lake Lanier from above.
  • Also in Atlanta, I also got to see other great old college friends! David Fowler and his wife Amanda hosted a very nice BBQ at their lovely David-designed home. Anne (Blakely) Sciarrone and her husband Chris were there, as well as Mike and BJ, and a wild roaming pack of child-like creatures. Brigitte Birk made an appearance by phone from Montana, and was sorely missed.
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(l to r) David, Chris, Anne, BJ, me, Mike
  • Great to see my family again! It has been wonderful. Thanks for everything.
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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Sweep the Kitchen

A great list of Diner Slang.
Use it as much as possible.

And send over an order of cackle fruit, and burn the british.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Darth Koolhaas

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Look what Rem and Stimpy Koolhaas has designed for the United Arab Emirates.
Does this look familiar to anyone?
Somebody warn Yoda.

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(via Wired)

Saturday, May 19, 2007

When you care to send...something

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Having trouble finding a card to address the unique situations in your life?
Try Someecards.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Horses on the Hooch

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Take advice from Latawnya the horse: just say neigh

Gotta love the illustrations of drinkin' and druggin' horsies.
I'm guessing their flavor of choice is Colt 45.

You can read the whole book here: Link

(Something Awful via Boing Boing)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Living Large

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World Fatness Chart

(Wellington Grey via Neatorama)

Friday, May 11, 2007

Back in the USA

Quick update -
Flew in to Los Angeles and spent a great week with Steve Jacobi and Kate Turning.
Steve and I escaped across the border into Mexico for a few days a got in a little bit of surfing and a good bit of dust storm.
Got pulled over and searched by a lesbian Federale in Tijuana and released without any bribery involved!
Flew to South Carolina, where I am now, to visit my parents.
Caught up with Ward Reynolds last night.
Drive to North Carolina tomorrow to my parent's Mountain House for the rest of May.
Will be flying to Portland finally on May 30.
Ciao fer now,

Intercontinental Oskar

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Oskar in Oz

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Oskar in Mexico

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Oskar East Coast

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Oskar West Coast

There are black and white hairs in all these places now...

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Over Down Under

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I'm sitting at the gate waiting to board my flight out of Australia.
It's been a good two years - Australia is a beautiful and unique place blessed with great weather, stunning coastlines, and a good attitude. I'll miss this place, and many people.

However I am very excited to be returning to the U.S.. It has been hard being away from friends and family, and it won't be long before I'll be driving you all nuts in person again. Plus, two summers in a row isn't a bad thing either. Mmmm...Portland summer BBQ's with, gasp, decent beer! Almost as good as Mom's cooking.

Oskar was picked up by the Pet Carriers yesterday, and I'll be seeing him today in Los Angeles. His Iams food went with him, so he will have had better inflight food than I am expecting. Luckily, no quarantine awaits for him - he's had enough jail time and swears he's on the straight and narrow now.

Ciao fer now - see you soon stateside.