Linkdump for May 28th through June 15th

An automatically generated list of links that caught my eye between May 28th and June 15th.

Sometime between May 28th and June 15th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • Why is English so weirdly different from other languages?: No, English isn’t uniquely vibrant or mighty or adaptable. But it really is weirder than pretty much every other language.
  • PureText: Have you ever copied some text from a web page, a word document, help, etc., and wanted to paste it as simple text into another application without getting all the formatting from the original source? PureText makes this simple.
  • Let’s Be Real: Americans Are Walking Around With Dirty Anuses: “I find it rather baffling that millions of people are walking around with dirty anuses while thinking they are clean. Toilet paper moves shit, but it doesn’t remove it. You wouldn’t shower with a dry towel; why do you think that dry toilet paper cleans you?”
  • The Racist History of Portland, the Whitest City in America – The Atlantic: All in all, historians and residents say, Oregon has never been particularly welcoming to minorities. Perhaps that’s why there have never been very many. Portland is the whitest big city in America, with a population that is 72.2 percent white and only 6.3 percent African American.
  • No more ‘product of its time,’ please:I don’t think that we should hide texts with troubling elements. They are part of the literary canon and they have influenced us, for both good and ill. We should definitely be reading them, and we should also be talking about them. A lot.

Summer Vacation ’09 Part I: Ashland

Part one of a series of posts about our summer vacation. Kent to Ashland, the Oregon Vortex and House of Mystery, and Much Ado About Nothing at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.


View Summer ’09 Part I in a larger map

This year’s summer vacation was so big, and resulted in so many photos (somewhere over 4,500), that rather than waiting until I have all the photos sorted, tagged, edited, and processed to upload them and make a post about the trip, I’ve decided to break the trip into several chunks. This, then, is chunk number one: Ashland.

Up bright and early at the crack o’ dawn on the day we left, we packed everything into the car, made couple quick stops for breakfast (Burger King), ice for the cooler, and gas for the car, and were on I-5 by about 7 in the morning. Aside from the occasional rest stop, this was pretty much a straight shot down I-5 to Ashland, where we set up camp at the Glenyan RV Park and Campground. While we weren’t entirely thrilled with the campground — it was a little shabbier than we had hoped, the showers flooded and were unusable, and I picked up about two packs worth of cigarette butts from our campsite — it wasn’t really that bad, giving us everything we needed (a campsite and restrooms) plus some extras (a pool and WiFi).

Since we were kind of tired from the drive (though it went well, with no major delays or traffic jams), we made a short run into Ashland, found a cute little local pizza joint, and brought a large pizza back to camp for dinner. We spent the evening relaxing with books, and once the sun went down, I took advantage of being far enough away from the light pollution of big cities to make a couple attempts at photographing the night sky before we crashed out for good.

Vacation I: Ashland 7
(Click to view larger on a black background.)

The next day, we decided to head out to one of the local roadside tourist attractions, which Prairie had visited on a trip a number of years earlier: the Oregon Vortex and House of Mystery! In the words of the website…

The Oregon Vortex is a glimpse of a strange world where the improbable is the commonplace and everyday physical facts are reversed. It is an area of naturally occurring visual and perceptual phenomena, which can be captured on film. No matter your education or profession you will find a challenge to all your accepted theories.

This was a lot of fun. Totally silly and goofy, as we watched people appear to grow and shrink depending on where they stood, brooms stood on end, golf balls rolled uphill, and lots of questionable ‘science’ was spouted. I’m definitely a skeptic, chalking all the “mystery” up to a combination of optical illusion, perspective shifts, and simple human suggestibility, but that didn’t make the day any less enjoyable!

Vacation I: Ashland 34

After our trip through the Vortex, we headed into Ashland to explore the town and spent a few hours just wandering around. It’s a cute little town (though, for some reason, there’s a definite Shakespearean theme to the business names), but as is often the case when traveling to new places, be very cautious about drinking the water!

For the evening, we had tickets to Much Ado About Nothing, which was playing in the gorgeous Elizabethan Stage. As is traditional, the setting of the play had been updated, this time to post-World War II Italy, with the action taking place in and around an Italian villa, complete with decorative pond at center stage. Or not so decorative, as upon Benedick’s frantic attempts to hide from Don Pedro, Claudio, and Leonato, he leaps into the pond, soaking himself and giving a good splash to the first couple rows of the audience! He then spent his monologue talking himself into wooing Beatrice splashing around, in, and out of the pool, adding a delightful bit of physical slapstick to an already amusing scene.

Also amusing (for us, at least, as we have an admitted tendency to be somewhat elitist) was how easy it was to identify the sections of the audience who only knew Kenneth Branagh’s film adaptation as opposed to the sections who were able to follow the entire play, based on who laughed at which jokes. Everyone enjoyed the bits that were in the film, but there was a definite subset of the audience (of which we were part) who laughed at the jokes and wordplay in the sections that didn’t make it into Branagh’s script.

Once the play was done, we went back to camp, I made another couple attempts at shooting the sky, and we crawled back into our tent.

Here’s the photoset of the trip. Not much there yet, but it will grow as I continue to work my way through the photos.

Next: we continue down California to Carlsbad, just north of San Diego, by way of Fresno.