Sunday, August 30, 2009

My weekend

The Bye and Bye is a nice little vegan restaurant in Northeast Portland that serves super-healthy vegan food...and lethal cocktails. Served in a quart-sized mason jars. There is something either really wrong or really right about that.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Blurry

As anyone who knows me or who has read this blog most likely knows (because I never shut up about it), in June of 2008, I took a four-week, cross-country road trip. I took a lot of photos, not just digital, but also film. I just like film. This trip, I only took film photos because I no longer have a digital camera. Anyway.
So, for some reason, I didn't make time to get the film developed at East Brunswick Shop Rite during the whole entire two months that I was living in New Brunswick. Oh I know, because it wasn't on my way to work, my commute sucked, and I couldn't bring myself to make a twenty to thirty minute round trip when I was so stressed out about moving and packing and all that. Anyway.
When I moved to Morristown, developing the film was near the top of my To Do List. I decided I was going to get it developed by someplace REALLY good. Even though I'd never had a problem with Shop Rite, my road trip pictures were really valuable to me. I think they were even more so because I was so miserable in my new life and it was the opposite of my road trip. My road trip was like being free; my new life made me feel trapped.
So after about a month of deliberation, I brought them to a small, family-owned camera shop that looked like a nice place. Part of what took me so long was that the shop closed pretty early on weeknights, and it was hard to get there after work. I worked a lot of Saturdays, too, which made it even more difficult.
The website said that developing was $4.00 a roll, for single prints. It was $4.99 a roll at Shop Rite for double prints, but I didn't really want doubles, and wouldn't it be nice to support a local business? Plus I wasn't sure if the Shop Rites in this part of New Jersey actually developed film, or did a good job, or wouldn't lose my film.
A few days later, I put on my skinny jeans and my fringey boots and my UBC sweatshirt (my uniform for going downtown) and walked down to the photo shop. I had only brought five or six rolls to the shop, not all of them, for some reason. Boy am I glad I did this. I'm also glad I brought my Visa with me.
I expected the developing cost to be $20 or $30. I could not hide my shock when the order rang up as $69. The cashier was a handsome, blonde-and-gelled-haired, blue-eyed guy in an Abercrombie jacket. I was too shy to question him about the price. I just handed him my credit card, my hands shaking a little, and walked to a coffeehouse next door. I ordered the smallest, cheapest cup of Fair Trade coffee, since I had just forked over seventy bucks for my photos.
Still, I was filled with happy anticipation when I opened the envelopes.
I was dismayed. The photos--my photos--of the Grand Canyon and California redwoods and Washington Park and the Painted Desert and Shenandoah National Park....
They were awful.
They were dark and blurry. It looked like I had underexposed the film and shaken my hands a whole lot. (These two things usually do not go together.) It's true, the trip was the first time I'd used a fully manual SLR in a few months, so I could see forgetting how to read a light meter and keep my hand still for the first roll or so. But you'd think after a couple of rolls, I'd catch on!
The next day, a little after 5, I called the shop from my desk. I could tell it was the handsome guy who answered; I recognized his voice. I felt like I had to be brave--like this was equal to some really scary task--to question the bill. I asked him why five rolls of film came out to be more than sixty dollars. That's like...more than $13 a roll. He said, "It's four dollars per 35mm roll, plus XX cents per shot." (I assumed this meant, XX cents for everything over 24 or whatever the standard is.) "Right, so how does that come out to $13 a roll?" He had to go over the math with a me a couple of times before I realized...it wasn't $4 + (XXcents * 5 photos) or something like that. It was $4 + (XXcents * 27 photos). That's how it came out to be $13 a roll.
"Oh....okay...thanks..." I hung up, embarrassed. I had just revealed myself to be an ignorant poor person.
Eventually, I realized I'd been ripped off, not only because under any circumstances $5 a roll is outrageous, but also because the film had been badly developed. I don't think I really underexposed and underfocused those shots. So, at this small, friendly-seeming camera shop in Morristown, I was overcharged for bad service and then felt bad about it.
I feel like this is some kind of symbol for my entire Morristown Experience.

Funny things about me living in Portland

I don't have a bike. In fact, my dark secret--I haven't ridden a bike since I was about five. And that bike had training wheels.
I don't have an umbrella.
I left my fleece in NJ.
I'm afraid of driving over bridges!!!!!! (Portland is divided into its East and West sides by the Willamette River, and from Vancouver, WA, by the Columbia River.)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Linux computer slowing down

YES IT'S POSSIBLE.
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The slowing down is not severe enough to incite caps lock and rows of punctuation. What is irritating me is that there is virtually NO DOCUMENTATION ANYWHERE OF WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR LINUX COMPUTER SLOWS DOWN.
How do I defragment my hard drive?
You don't! You don't need to! This isn't Windows! Linux NEVER fragments!
How do I clean up my system when it appears to be clogged with junk, excess files, and partially downloaded files?
You don't! Linux doesn't need RegistryCleaner or Disk Cleanup or any of that stuff because it never gets dirty!
It never gets viruses! It never freezes!* It does the dishes AND puts them away; it will go to Fred Meyer and buy your tampons; it leaves the seat down; and if you really want to figure that one out, it's great in bed!!!!!

Well, I am writing this in case there are other sad Googlers out there, like me, searching for "What do I do when my Linux computer slows down?"
I don't have an answer for you. Yet. When I do, I will post it! I promise. But if you are out there, like me, I want you to know you are not alone. You are not crazy. I am running Ubuntu 8.04 (I forgot which BIRD that is! Stupid Starling, or something like that.) I've had it for about seven months. I'm having issues with Firefox, and sometimes the computer takes five minutes to acknowledge that I clicked, "Shut Down." It now takes thirty seconds to boot up instead of ten or whatever. (Clearly, I'm not concerned about that one.) Sometimes programs take a long time to load. Especially the music players. Though it's possible I just had the sound off. When scrolling through large documents, the thing will stop, then start and scroll real fast past the point I want, and the screen will turn gray.

* So far true.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Salad #7 is Amazing

This salad is an ingenious invention. (I know I linked to Crazy Aunt Purl and not Mark Bittman, but that's easier than scrolling through his list of 101.) I bet it would be good with lemon zest. I wonder how it would be with some cheese but I don't want to ruin it.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

I HAVE FURNITURE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Portland Metro Area's Cheapest Thrift Store

At the last minute, I decided not to go to the Downtown Farmers Market today (all I need is tomatoes!) and drive to a nearby thrift store, which the Internet tells me is Portland's cheapest.
I feel like this part of Portland I live in has some hidden gems. Kind of like New Jersey. I live near the cheapest thrift store, and also the largest fabric store...in America. Not just Portland. America.
Anyway, there was a second stroke of luck--they're having a sale today. So, I just bought a desk and a bookshelf for $17. Delivery is $20. As I write this, I'm waiting for the delivery guy. I think this is a great deal, because a plastic furniture thing with three drawers in it is about $30 at Target. I feel like I'm finally finding the cheap stuff in Portland! (This is after paying the same amount for lining fabric, interfacing, and all the notions/thread/needles I need to make my dresses last night. I haven't even gotten a zipper foot yet for my machine. I'm tempted to sew the zipper in by hand.)

Finally, my room will look like a bedroom and not a room with a mattress on the floor and boxes and piles of stuff everywhere.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Big-Haired Jersey Girl Not in Jersey

This blog needs a masthead or something--some catchy new title about Big-Haired Jersey Girl being in...someplace different. Basically the title of this post, but CATCHIER. With some cartoonish picture of me standing in the rain or something (making my hair even bigger) and some very nice, tall, pointy evergreens and Mount Hood in the background. And what else is very Portlandic? People saying "pop" and "sack" and "freeway"?* And a speech bubble from me saying "dawg" and "cawffee" and "wawter." And whatever else I say that is apparently so funny! Um...and maybe some hippies...and beer or coffee...and a bicycle, even though I do not have one.

* "Soda," "grocery bag," and "highway," respectively.

Monday, August 03, 2009

On a different note

Is there a brand of underwear that does NOT roll down? I realized that it's kind of ridiculous that I have my underwear organized into "pairs of underwear that must be worn with pants" and "pairs that can be worn with dresses, skirts, or anything else because they don't roll down." There are only about three of these pairs. I need to either go shopping, or go shopping at Fabric Depot and get some elastic and fix the waistband MYSELF. (Is that possible? Hmm...)

Thinking

Today I finished reading the gigantic, 642-page hardcover I've been hauling around--The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. It is a vampire book, but that's not what attracted me to it. I don't think I would ever read something just because it was a vampire book. I liked this book because it was in some ways like a travel book--the characters go to cities I had previously never thought of visiting, like Sofia or Budapest, and the descriptions make me want to go there someday. (I really want to go to Istanbul, too.) Anyway, after finishing it, I started reading stuff about it on the Internet (which is a weird habit of mine) and I read some reviewers say that the book was a commentary on history and the concept of evil in the world. (Man's inhumanity to man.) It's true--I hadn't thought of it directly, but while reading it, I reflected on how the book talked about Vlad the Impaler's horrible actions, but also pointed out (in less specific, gory detail) that his enemy, Mehmed II, wasn't such a nice guy either. Modern atrocities were referenced as well.

Earlier today, a friend of mine, who is Somali, told me one of the most horrible, sad stories I've heard in a long time--something that happened in Somalia over the weekend. I don't know the people involved, but for some reason, this story made me sadder than anything I've heard or read in the newspaper for a long time.

How did I have the luck of being born in a country where people don't get shot in their own living room by people fighting outside in the street? I frequently feel like I have some kind of responsibility, since I have this luck and certain skills and resources (health, money, etc), to do something for the world. More than I do already. I know that saving rare plants is important, and I believe that conservation is connected to human rights issues (in short--because conservation has to do with availability of resources, and availability of resources such as food and fuel is tied into not just quality of life, but things people go to war over) but can I do more?