3 November 2008 0 Comments

Will your vote be counted correctly?

You’d think by now we (The U.S.A) wold have a pretty rock solid voting system in place after the 2000 election, um – eight years ago. Here’s an interesting article from WIRED about how our votes for tomorrow, November 4, 2008, may not be counted correctly – even here in Bend, Oregon.

ES&S Voting Machines in Michigan Flunk Tests, Don’t Tally Votes Consistently

1 November 2008 0 Comments

The warmest Halloween + the thinnest Real Estate Section

Two interesting things happened this weekend – The first time I can remember a Halloween night being so unseasonably ‘warm’ in Bend & The first time I have ever seen the Bulletin’s Real Estate section being so thin, so thin that both sections had no inserts, not a single sheet in the fold. Why even have two sections?

MummyGranted, we’ve only lived in Bend for 8 years, but since I can recall Halloween nights have always been a bone chilling expedition and at times thwarted by scattered showers. To boot, this years Halloween fell on a Friday night, TGIF + H.

My sister cruised over to hang out with Max and I, so we popped in a Mel Brooks fav – Young Frankenstein. Max had never seen it and thought it was pretty funny ‘for an old movie‘ LOL. It was a fun evening of trick-or-treats, movies, drinks , and little Halo 3 (toward the end of the evening). Laurie and Ana came back w/ a boatload of candy from what was obviously a well executed high fructose corn syrup run.

This morning I cruised out the front door to pick up Saturdays paper. On Saturdays The Bulletin (our local newspaper) runs their Real Estate Section – which has been getting thinner and thinner over the past six months or so. Today it was the thinnest I’ve ever seen.

Skinny Real EstateI remember when that section was super thick, I mean fat. Full spread ads by brokers, full page ads by builders, agencies, etc. Granted, they were making money hand over fist. I too encouraged my home builder clients to advertise in The Bulletin in addition to our other cross-media venues. Why not? The market was hot, they were making record profits, and everyone – at the time – was in the red ocean. The Bulletin was loving it, selling ad space like there was no tomorrow at fairly high prices, no doubt making record profits as well.

Well, not any more, and not for a while. I’m thinking we’ll see that section staying pretty thin for some time. There really is no incentive to advertise – What’s the incentive to buy a home in an overpriced market when you can just wait for a foreclosure or short-sale? It’s harsh, but true. This market is overpriced – even when moving here we thought – ‘Really, you want that much?’.

If you’re going to try to sell your home (or homes) in this market, place a classified. In the paper sure, but for sure online, it’s free. Less is more these days, and it’s apparent now that less should have always been more – but living in a  100 sq. ft home takes the adage to a whole new level.

The Real Estate Market is still alive and well in other markets though. I have friends selling $2,000,000 – $4,000,000 condos in NYC no problem – for a medium sized residence in the The Big Apple that makes sense. Granted, we’re talking two completely different markets, but $1,000,000+ for living in the heart of downtown Bend? That’s funny.

Regardless, over time I hope to see those pages fill up again with home prices more in check with reality. And a return to a cool, crisp, Fall evening for Halloween would be nice too.

25 October 2008 0 Comments

Fall leaf

FlameLaurie and I walked to thump this morning for some hot coffee love + a wedge of ham quiche for me and slice of warm pumpkin bread for her. Lucy came with us too, ears flopping and nose to the pavement the whole way there and back. We sat outside. Enjoyed the morning sun.

On our way home, I gathered some cool fallen leaves.

It was a nice break for us for sure. The kids had sleep-overs and we had each other.

23 October 2008 0 Comments

Britt and Lia online donation page added

I have just updated the helpbrittandlia.com site to accept online donations, thanks to Britt’s Step-Mom.
The direct link to the donation page: http://bendeuromoto.com/brittandlia/brittandlia.htm

22 October 2008 1 Comment

Helping Britt and Lia

At the request of my friends over at Bend Euro Moto I have set up a blog to make it easy for anyone to find out how to make a donation to help out Britt Leis. The site is helpbrittandlia.com. More information about what happened in Ecuador can be found on their travel blog sudamericadventure.blogspot.com.

Our hearts go out to Britt, Lia, and their families. We are no strangers to horrific incidents and realize the blast radius of a single tragic moment resonates well beyond the individual or individuals involved. Family and friends alike are affected as well, but with the support of a community hope is nurtured.

Thinking of you Britt, Lia, and family. Positive vibes your ways.

21 October 2008 0 Comments

Pumpkins and Dragons

Mech DragonWe cruised out to The Pumpkin Patch this weekend – the whole family. It’s been a while since we all cruised out to do something together. It was good to get Max out of the house, hang out w/ mom and dad, and enjoy all the ups and downs of a family outing.

Visiting the Pumpkin Co seems to be the thing to do every year just before Halloween – the gateway holiday. We’ve gone there for at least the past 7 years. I suppose this is the first year I noticed how much things cost at this event (I’m pretty sure it’s because of all the constant news about the economy taking a dive). We probably spent about $100 or so that day. Lunch, Pumpkins, rides, the ‘maize’ were all part of the deal. It was a good time as usual, and bigger than last year – it gets bigger every year. The only thing I didn’t understand was why the cost of an adult ticket to go through the corn ‘maize’ was $2 more than a kids ticket. It’s not like they were selling lift tickets, or season passes. I could think of no logical reason for the tickets to cost more. I thought it was funny and unneccesary at the same time – It was Wally World in Terrebonne.

We left with some pumpkins and a little smile on Max’s face, which was all I really wanted to see actually. We’ve been having fun at home, but I could see he was getting ‘depressed’ – he actually used that word two nights ago. I never thought I would hear him say that, at least not at 10. I immediately thought of that TV commercial with all the depressed people, then they take a pill and they’re fine. Depression is a real problem for some people, but not for a boy who was completely fine a month ago.

WatchingMax has been a trooper. At times he’s shown frustration, anger, but for the most part happy.

Things are changing though. He’s more serious, cautious. At the Pumpkin Patch he was watching kids play mostly, some of whom who were his friends. He was reluctant to join them running around jumping from hay bail to hay bail. He was unsure and self-conscious. It took some time but he eventually engaged, and that was good to see. Max being Max, if for just a few moments.

I think getting out with the whole family did help. It was a beautiful weekend, and staying in building Lego sets was taking its toll. Life goes on, and he – along with Laurie and I – needed  to see that, feel that – plus we needed some more pumpkins. We only were able to salvage two pumpkins from our garden. During this past month some things fell to the wayside, and one of those things was the garden.

Standing in the PatchIt was good to spend some time w/ mom and dad too. It’s always great to spend time with them, they bring a certain comfort and reassurance to the whole family for sure. We had dinner at their house on Sunday after the patch. Good times.

9 October 2008 0 Comments

Yet another diversion

Joined Facebook today. Just for the heck of it.

7 October 2008 3 Comments

Back from Portland, back to school

Continued from a previous post.
Day 16

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks for sure – but things may be settling back to the way they were, at least at surface level.

Our visit to Portland was a short two day there-and-back adventure mainly to follow-up with Dr. Nick Eshraghi.

We left Bend just before 8am and arrived at the hospital with a little time to spare before our scheduled 11:30 appointment. Pulling up to the Burn Center brought back some memories, but it was good to be back in a strange sort of way. I suppose knowing that we were just passing through made it easier than before. I parked the car in the space right across from the window where had been stationed with Max, we all got out of the car and proceeded into the Burn Center for our appointment – Max covered in sunscreen and wearing a cool looking wide brimmed hat with a long flap on the backside. He looked ready for safari.

As we entered the building we pointed out to Ana where Max’s room was, she smiled. It was a chilling moment – of course the slight drizzle (which never stopped the whole time we were there) added to the effect, but I noticed that all of the windows had their curtains drawn. Not but two weeks earlier it was us in one of those rooms, curtains drawn as well.

Into the Burn Center, through the tunnel and up to the fifth floor to our appointment we went. Once inside we filled out some paperwork and waited. We saw the little girl who had been admitted just days after Max was, she was there for a follow up as well. Her hand and arm were completely wrapped up, but she was smiling. She couldn’t have been any older than three.

It was our turn. It was good to see the doctor again. He came in looked at Max and gave his diagnosis. I had been thinking of this moment for sometime, not knowing for sure if he was going to need more time to heal or need intervention of some sort – surgery. I had the best and worst case scenario worked out. Best case, the doctor would say everything was looking good and Max just needed some more time to heal and he would be fine. Worst case, Max would need surgery involving harvesting skin from one area of his body for another. I hadn’t really thought of anything in-between, which is what the doctor (surgeon) had prescribed.

Day 16Max’s burns on his face, chest and lower arm were healing up just fine. There would be some slight discoloration at first, but over time he would look fine. There may be small areas that leave marks, but overall, with regular application of lotion and SPF, he should be good – with the exception of one area on his upper arm. This area looked the worst from the first day. It looked deeper and rawer than all of his other burns and it just didn’t heal like the rest of them. To no fault of Max – his little body did excellent work repairing what it could – this burn was just too deep.

Dr. Eshraghi gave us a couple of options: Wait a week and see how things progress. Within that time his body could still try to heal. If nothing changes and his wound still appears the same we could wait longer – OR – Remove the burn surgically, like you would remove a really large mole – cut out the area and pull his skin together. Time will tell, but we are preparing for the surgical option.

Max’s other burn marks should blend away in about twelve months or so.

Max has prepared himself for either outcome – it was evident in the doctors office, he wasn’t happy with the diagnosis, but understood the options. I (we) Laurie and I, we were just relieved that for the most part, Max was healing just fine.

After seeing the doctor we had lunch in the hospital’s cafeteria, it was good – but there was an undertone of frustration building up in Max. What we thought was good news, just meant the likely possibility of more things being stuck in him – once again.

We left for our next appointment at the Burn Center. It was good to see some familiar faces – faces of people who had taken care of Max not but a week ago. We gave them a sort of progress report on Max and they were glad to see him doing so well. One of the nurses told Max that he was one of their best patients and that his progress was due in part to his listening and cooperation. I’m so proud of him.

OMSIWe finally left the hospital and decided to visit the OMSI. What a cool place! We had never been before and it was the perfect time to go, it was raining, we had the kids, and some time to kill before check-in. We engaged in some of their exhibits but the best part was taking a tour of the USS Blueback submarine – that was super cool. Max and Ana really got a kick out of it. Max especially, he’s fascinated with anything related to military machinery, aircraft carriers, planes, tanks, and being inside an actual submarine – he was in heaven, although he was somewhat bummed that this particular sub didn’t see any heavy combat, or launch any torpedos at the bad guys, but regardless, he was in awe.

We got to our hotel (The Inn at the Northrop Station) a cool swanky place with super fast access to the hospital, some restaurants, and a very cool street car (which we rode the next day). We checked in unpacked our stuff and realized we were starving. We walked through the pouring rain three blocks west and four blocks north to a Pastini. The funny thing was, the rain didn’t even phase us – we were all having a good time being together, knowing everything was going to be allright and a bowl full of pasta was around the corner (um – and a cold microbrew for mom and dad).

Dinner was great. There’s nothing like having the family together especially for dinner. It would have been even better if there were more of us, but just the four of was great. It’s funny the first Pastini we’ve ever been to was in Bend (they just opened a couple of month’s ago) but over the past couple of weeks, we’ve eaten mostly at their original Portland locations. There was one on NE Broadway close to the hospital (where my sister got us take-out) and the one on NW 23rd close to the hotel. So now in addition to pizza, Max has added Pastini to his favorites. Sure it’s not a food group, but it’s close enough. I suppose it’s a bit of comfort to him/us knowing there’s a little bit of home away from home. Max even requested we stay at the same hotel this Friday because Pastini’s was so close. How can we say no?

We walked back home stopping at a few shops on the way. The rain was still coming down but it didn’t matter. We got to the hotel got ready for bed and whatever the next day had in store for us.

Street CarWe decided at the breakfast table to skip Ana’s soccer game and leave a little later in the morning so we could ride the Portland Streetcar which stopped right in front of the hotel. It was a fun ride – a bit long (1.5 hours) but fun. We rode the whole loop, from NW Portland to SW Portland and back. We saw all sorts of people, it was cool. It kind of made me miss the city and all its offerings, diversity. If we were to ever move back to a city though, I’m not sure Portland would be it but who knows what the future holds, NYC would be a contender for sure.

After the ride we packed it up and headed back south to Bendo. Laurie mentioned stopping off at Timberline Lodge – the thought was immediately appealing as none of us had ever been. The six mile diversion was set and we were on our way.

Timberline LodgeWow. Timberline Lodge was incredible. We totally lucked out too – as we walked in (through the pouring rain) we entered the main lobby area downstairs and were greated by a Forest Ranger, she told us she really wasn’t supposed to be there this late in the season, but happened to be there and was getting ready to give a tour, we jumped at the opportunity. We walked around gazing at the craftsmanship, artistry and just the overall magnificence of the lodge. So cool. So cool that people could get together in such a time to make something so wonderful. We stayed for lunch. The food was pretty good too, especially the meatloaf sandwich, yum. A good diversion for sure.

We wound our way back home, passing the rain and clouds and into clearer skies. As we approached home the past two days had caught up with us and exhaustion was setting in. The kids were just as exhausted as we were as our road trip came to a close. Our fun family time was over and reality hit as we entered Bend – Max was bummed. Bummed that we were back and bummed that his ordeal was far from over. He lashed out at everyone in the car and pushed us to our limits. We had to go back into parental mode. It had been three weeks since Max had even seen any remote side of discipline, but his frustration turned to anger and we had to stop it – off to his room he went, along with his sister – both relegated to clean-up duty and solitary confinement for a short period. We all needed a break.

A couple of hours past and we were greeted by my sister. Two gifts were delivered from our well wishing friends: A home made loaf of bread w/ a special topping from our friend Maeve, and a beautiful gift basket from Gale. Thank you both.

The night melted away. An easy Saturday night. Sunday arrived and it was a mellow day. The highlight was dinner at mom and dad’s. Mom made my favorite – Beef Stroganoff with egg noodles, tasty. Max and Ana liked it too. It was a great dinner – all seven of us once again together, no worries. We shared our stories about our time in Portland and Max’s next steps in regards to his burns. We wathced part of Iron Man, and left early so the kids would get a good nights rest for school – which Max was kind-of excited for.

Today was Max’s first day back at school since the incident. We accompanied him into his class and were greeted by his classmates. There was a big banner in the corner ‘Welcome back Max’, below was a table full of breakfast treats assembled by parents, kids and his teacher Miss Sterling, and assistant. It was great. we could tell Max was feeling good – he was a bit nervous on the way over, but once he walked through that door it was all good. He sat down in front of his classmates and fielded everyones questions. ‘Was it scary?’, ‘Did it hurt?’, ‘What was the best part? The Worst?’ – He answered the questions perfectly all on his own. He was ready and he wasn’t nervous at all. Both Laurie and I stood behind him and smiled – and answered a couple of questions as well. His classmates were great. They were curious, concerned, but most of all understanding.

Laurie and I are so glad to be in such a wonderful community here in Bend and beyond – from Max’s school, classmates, and teachers, to our emergency services network in Bend and in Portland. To our family and friends who have supported us throughout the past several weeks. We are truly thankful for all of you.

For once I am starting to feel like we’ve made it over a huge hurdle and that things are slowly but surely starting to fall in place as they once were. But things have changed. Seeing our son go through something like this was tough and not a day goes by that I don’t think of that day, but what happened has drawn us together, especially as father and son, so I’m thankful that he’s doing good. And look forward to many many more days of building legos and just hanging out.

2 October 2008 8 Comments

Healing and dealing

Continued from a previous post.

Over these past several days I have found myself in a here but not here state-of-mind, but interestingly enough focused, if that makes sense. Talking with people, friends, clients, family, creating – getting things done actually, catching up from a week or so off.

But yet during all this time there are more moments than not that my mind wanders and replays bits and pieces of what happened to Max. The explosion – tackling Max – speeding down Mt Washington looking at Ana in the rear view mirror. She was scared, she didn’t say a word as we were racing to Grandma’s and Grandpa’s house, and for Ana silence is very rare. Glimpses. Glimpses of what had happened. I recall running down my parents front yard, jumping on their front porch and reaching my hand toward the door, swinging it open – small details like that for some reason have stuck with me. Seeing them casually sitting down, eating dinner and their faces slowly shifting from contentment to a pale shade of disbelief as I explained why I was there – all of a sudden.

There are also the positive moments, lots actually. But still I find that something has changed. Things are clearer now. Big things matter, little things – not so much (However, I still believe that it’s the little things that make all the difference).

Max has been doing so well during this whole ordeal we are so proud of him. He is constantly on my mind day and night – his cute smile lodged in my brain both as is was and as it is now – somewhat discolored, blotchy, and covered in antibiotic goo. He’s a trooper.

Day 13Yesterday was a bit different than most days however. Max has caught cabin fever – and a bit of realization of the consequences of what has happened. Relegated to the indoors, he is no longer able to pursue outdoor activities for some time. Wall-ball against the garage door after school is out, as is tooling around in the alley on his bike. Outdoor recess is out. No more soccer practice, playing games on the weekend or watching his sister score some goals (she got one this past weekend – I wish I was there to see it and so does Max). Hiking, mountain biking, riding bikes, walking down to Nancy P’s for a morning cinnamon bun and bottle of OJ – all on hold. Snowboarding is looking unlikely too – at least for this season. But we will know for sure what the extent of his outdoor access will be tomorrow – when we head back to the Oregon Burn Center in Portland.

Max showed signs of frustration yesterday. To me, it was a good sign. A sign that Max may be entering into another phase of his healing process.

Max had come to the realization that he was confined, and for a 10 year old boy that’s got to be tough. I know it was serious when he told me he was getting bored of video games – that has never happened. The mention of him having to start homework sent him over the edge though.

Not once the whole time in the hospital did he show signs of frustration or even anger about what had happened (he was mostly ticked off at the machines he was hooked up to). Maybe a few instances when we were changing his dressings – but not really. From what I understood this was genuinely Max being bummed out. And for the first time since this all started it was about what had happened.

What made it a reality to him was his inability to go outside. Not his burns. Which are healing so fast it’s truly amazing to see – I’ve done my best to keep a running log of his progress for all to see and have actually switched from camera phone to camera for some more detail. But his burns were the reason he was relegated to staring at the window shades. Once the burns have completely healed we can start putting on some  SPF 1000, sun shades, wide brimmed hat, and long sleeved shirt to protect him from the serious UVs we get here in Central Oregon -he’s ready.

Laurie was able to step out for an hour or so yesterday to get in some yoda thanks to our friend Carol (‘Bober’ as Ana calls her – and we call her that too, it’s just more fun) dropping by and hanging out with Max. I’ve pretty much turned into a slug since this has happened and need to get back in gear and hit the trails again. This weekend for sure!

Today was good for Max, a good day for sure. We built some Legos in the morning before I left and talked about what the day had in store for each of us. I returned early today to hang out with him while Laurie cruised out to see Ana’s soccer practice, which ended up being canceled. But the cool thing was Ana hooked up with another team that didn’t cancel so she got to play anyways. So great. Max’s friend Caleb stopped by too – Caleb had made a couple of cool duct tape bracelets for Max and sent them to Max while he was in the hospital – he put them on as soon as he got them and has only taken them off when hoping in the shower – Caleb told him he didn’t have to take them off at all, they were shower proof. Max was stoked.

Dinner was great – our friends and neighbors Jeff and Kristi came over earlier to drop off some yummy mac & cheese, garlic bread, and steamed broccoli. It was tasty. Thanks guys!

The VP debate was somewhat lackluster – but I loved the fact that Palin said ‘Joe six pack’ that was hilarious – I think I saw that dude when I was Alaska two years ago.

Getting ready to call it a night. Portland roadtrip first thing tomorrow. Max is kind of nervous about seeing the doctor, not so much about seeing the doctor, but more so about possibly needing to have surgery on his arm, he really doesn’t like tubes and needles being put in him. We’ll know more tomorrow. :^)

See Max’s progress here.

29 September 2008 4 Comments

Giantloop Saddlebag on my Dual Sport

Giantloop Saddle bags on my HusqvarnaOver the weekend I cruised out to Giantloop Headquarters to have their saddle bag installed on my 2008 Husqvarna TE 610. It’s really not a saddle bag – it’s more. It’s a tail bag + saddlebag in one compact design – keeping your bike thin, but allowing you to carry everything you need for an extended weekend adventure or the daily commute to town. It’s designed to spread the contents of the bag evenly without placing unnecessary weight toward the back of your machine. I could have used it on my trip to Tulelake and back for sure.

The bag fit perfectly! The only downside are the holes left over in the tail plastic from the rack I had installed – which is now in a box in my garage. The bag was positioned a little further back than they would have liked – but not too much. It needed to be to allow the saddle to come off quickly on the trail if neccesary. The bag is fastened very securely to the side plastic panels and the tail plastic. The supplied heat shield is a must for this bike and works perfectly to prevent the bag from coming into contact with the exhaust. The black Ballistic Cordura looks pretty cool with this bike and would no doubt be a cool addition to any Husqvarna SuperMoto as well.