Browsed by
Month: March 2023

Portland Winter Light Festival

Portland Winter Light Festival

The Portland Winter Light festival has been going on for 8 years now. I love going to visit the amazing artistic light creations people create – as well some quality people watching of folks that dress up in their own light costume creations.

While it wasn’t quite as amazing as it has been in years past, there were noticeably fewer new displays, and crowds were dramatically down, it was still a lot of fun to enjoy.

CETI collective Constellation displaymore pictures here.

Get a Celebrity Cameo for your next event

Get a Celebrity Cameo for your next event

Ever wanted to get a personalized message from your favorite actor, musician, athlete, or other celebrity?

Cameo is a website that lets you request a short personalized video from famous actor. For usually around $150-$1500 you can get a customized short video message from your favorite star to celebrate a wedding, birthday, special event, or just about any occasion.

How you open buildings in Dubai

How you open buildings in Dubai

While world class buildings aren’t being built in the US at the rate they used to be, they are still being built in Dubai, Saudi Arabia, and China. Buildings such as Atlantis the Royal.

How are they opening these creations? How about paying for high class stars like Beyoncé and Swedish House Mafia to perform in customized shows. They also invite various movie, music, and other stars to be seen there in red carpet like events. They also bring in high-class influencers as well as having outrageous fireworks displays. In short, they create world class see-and-be-seen events like used to happen in New York and other cities.

See a tour of the final project here:

Spinna face from way back

Spinna face from way back

I ran into this guy a few times on the Last Thursday Alberta street festivals around 2010. Part DJ, part spinner, he went by the moniker of Spinnaface. He had a good schtick going:

Sadly, he wasn’t exactly the best DJ and I never really saw him again in later years. Still, it was an interesting time in Portland’s history of good natured keeping it weird before the city’s sharp decline in the 2020’s.

Walking through Nineveh

Walking through Nineveh

The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time:  “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”

Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it. Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.

When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh:

“By the decree of the king and his nobles:

Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”

When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.

Reluctant Jonah is preaching to Nineveh. A story that captures the heart of the season of Lent. A city that is apparently embroiled in enough evil that its destruction appeared eminent.

Historically, there’s a lot of corroborating evidence for this story. Jonah is believed to have lived in the 9th-8th century BC. Nineveh was indeed a hugely growing and prosperous capital of the Assyrian empire all during the 8th and 7th centuries. During that period, it was the largest city in the world for about 50 years. It still exists today as the eastern half of the city of Mosul and is still called Nineveh by residents.

At the time of Jonah, the total area of Nineveh comprised about 7 square kilometers (1,730 acres), and had 15 great entrance gates. It had an elaborate system of 18 canals brought water from the hills to Nineveh from about 40 miles away. The city likely had around 100,000-150,000 residents. It housed a magnificent palace with at least 80 rooms with large numbers of tablets, sculptures, massive winged Mesopotamian lions weighing 30 tons, carved stone walls depicting historical scenes, and untold other art. The gardens of this palace are sometimes thought to be one of the ancient wonders of the world: The Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

When reflecting on this passage; I was caught by the fact it took 3 days to walk through the city while preaching. I tried to imagine what walking through a city like this must have been like. It very likely had many different neighborhoods and districts as today’s cities do. There was the grand palace and gardens. As center of the empire, there were likely all manner of legislative/government/military buildings. There were probably many temples and religious buildings. As an early center of trade routes up the Tigris, it likely had many kinds of markets and trade districts. There was likely financial districts, districts of homes/families/living areas. There were probably schools of all kinds. There were probably centers of fabrication, crafts, and trades of all kinds (pottery, leather, bronze, iron, etc). There was even probably red light districts. In short, every kind of area and part of daily life.

In reflection, I thought about the people who lived and worked in those areas. What must this been like to be at whatever you were doing and hearing his call of pending destruction? People engaged in business, education, prayer, cooking, etc. Things we do every day today. But wait, don’t I do those things too? My life isn’t that different than the parts of this city…

Just like Jonah’s walk through the city, maybe we too need to walk through all the districts of our life this Lent and preach repentance. Perhaps it’s a good time to sit down and reflect on our ‘financial district’. Are we using our money and treasures as God would intend? Do we tithe and support services to the poor? Do we give to organizations that follow Catholic social teaching and are financially transparent/responsible?

Maybe it’s time to proclaim repentance to our work and our ‘professional district’. What are my career goals and are they lead and guided by the teachings of Christ? Am I fair and honest in my dealings or have I embezzled or stolen money or property from work? Do I avoid slander, gossip, and maliciousness towards coworkers? Am I a servant leader or serve primarily myself and my desires? Do I spend enough time with my primary vocations to prayer and raising my family/supporting my spouse (if you have them) or do those take second seat to earning money or career advancement?

What about the district of my home? Am I present enough to the care of my family and home life? Do I get along with my neighbor? Do I help out with family chores and do my part? Do I nurture my relationships with those in my household? Am I estranged or holding grudges? Do I avoid spending time with them for my own pursuits?

What about my spiritual district? Do I pray enough? Is God really the center of my life, or only a side effort in my plans?

What about the hospital and food districts? Do I take care of myself and recognize my body is a temple of the Lord – or do I abuse it with dangerous activities, overeating, substance abuse, etc.

What about the educational district? Do I take time to grow in my wisdom, knowledge of scripture/God via good reading, or using my various gifts of intellect by developing them? Or do I consume endless social media and lower forms of entertainment that numb the mind?

What about the ‘red light district’ in our lives? Do we have hidden or secret lives we live (especially online, professionally, or in poor relationships)? Do I watch pornography, abuse substances for pleasure, engage in sex with people who are not my spouse? Are there things I do in private I would be embarrassed if others knew about?

Try to imagine all the districts in a big city near you – and all the different areas of life each city needs to serve. We too have these areas in our own lives. During Lent, it’s the perfect time to reflect on them all and let Jonah preach repentance to each part of our city.

In some number of days we too will reach the end of our lives and must make an account of how we spent them. But in Christ and during Lent we can visit the different districts of our life with prayer as the prophet. We can reflect and listen to any need for repentance. We can find forgiveness in the sacrament of confession, find the grace to make real changes for the better, and then find salvation and reunion with the God who loves us more than we love ourselves.

Amazon Productions

Amazon Productions

Amazon Studios has a new 34,000-square-foot virtual production stage in Culver City. Well, maybe not new. It’s the historic Stage 15, built in 1940 was once home to movies like “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Robocop”.

Like other projects that have traded the problems of green screens for much better filming alternatives, Stage 15 has been revamped with a wall of more than 3,000 LED panels and motion capture cameras that re-create the outside world indoors. It allow actors to interact with the environment rather than pretend in front of a green screen.

Finding of Jesus at the Temple

Finding of Jesus at the Temple

Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he was saying to them. Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

Luke 2:41-52

I wanted to share a recent reflection during some Lexio divina (divine reading in which we read; meditate; pray; contemplate).

This reading comes up early in the gospels, and is also the 5th joyful mystery of the rosary. In many meditations, I found myself drawn to how hard it was for His parents. Can you imagine the fear when by the end of the first day they realized Jesus wasn’t in the party and they needed to turn around? Then perhaps on the end of the second day when they were likely asking everyone they passed, not finding Him, then needing to end their second night without any luck? Those must have been terribly frightening and restless nights. Then the third day when they finally found Him – perhaps when they had exhausted the obvious places in Jerusalem and went to the Temple to pray for help. We can imagine all the feelings and fear they had when looking for Jesus – many of the same fears, struggles, and disappointments we sometimes get while trying to find God in our own lives – only to find him in prayer/sacraments when we come to our wits end and stop relying only on ourselves.

We can also focus spiritually on this as a prefiguring of Jesus’ three days in the tomb. Or perhaps as a mirror of our journey through Lent in which we search for Jesus in our lives during Lent/his 3 days in the tomb, only to find him at the resurrection at Easter. We find He has passed on to His Father’s heavenly house where we finally find Him.

But in a recent reflection, I found myself focusing on what Jesus must have experienced.

I got lost once in the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago on a family trip when I was about 10 years old. I got completely captivated playing with a set of really cool mechanical gear displays. (It turns out someone else liked them too and put a recording up on Youtube.) I think playing with these displays was one of the first really big moments when I got fascinated in engineering. It was definitely a formative moment for me and hit a chord that lead me down the roads of math and sciences.

After being completely captivated with workings for a long time, I turned around and realized the rest of my family wasn’t there. I tried to find them but didn’t know where they’d gone. A couple saw my peril and took me to the central desk. They pinged my parents on the intercom. It turns out I was only a room away from them. It was only for a few minutes but with 5 kids they didn’t notice I wasn’t still in the gaggle of kids in the crowd, nor had I notice they had moved on. I think every parent/child has had this experience.

I was reflecting on this reading and that memory surfaced with all the feelings at the time. Perhaps Jesus was also completely captivated by the Temple and felt a powerful connection to His Father. The passage says they went every year, but this particular year Jesus must have been drawn especially for some reason. Perhaps it was like Samuel who is called while in the house of the Lord where the ark was kept.

I think we all have these moments of being completely captivated by something so that everything else falls away. For me as a kid it was those fascinating mechanical workings – to the point I didn’t even realize I’d ‘lost’ my family. In later years, praying with the blessed sacrament was the place I found an even more profound captivation and sense of place, home, and real peace in my heart. In those moments, there was nowhere else I could imagine being. Maybe Jesus experienced this at the age of 12 as He was captivated by His Father’s house and spent time there until He’d completely missed the fact his parents had left. I certainly have felt that kind of complete absorption in prayer at times.

But what about first night? Where’d He stay? Or the second night? Where did He get food? I get the feeling this might have been the very first awakenings of turning to and trusting in His heavenly Father to provide everything He needed. At some point as the evening fell, He must have realized his parents were gone. Perhaps He decided to stay where He most felt at home – the Temple where He was in His Father’s presence – the only place Jesus could imagine being. Perhaps He slept in the doorway or inside the Temple itself. Perhaps people gave Him bread and food the second day. While being there, He probably met the scribes and priests and started asking questions.

Jesus speaks very matter of fact to His parents about this. I think many parents have asked kids why they did something and children also state such wisdom and reasoning so matter of fact. I also wonder that this was probably a huge formative moment in which He, and all of us, learn that we can and need to completely trust our heavenly Father to provide what we need. Jesus seemed to think all His answers, material needs, and place was with His Father.

Do we find ways to turn to God in our day – as the one place we come back to again and again no matter what goes on in life? Do we return to God in prayer as the one place we find refuge during the great joys, the quiet times, the worried times, and even times of feeling completely lost?

Prevention only gets you so far

Prevention only gets you so far

You might not know the name J.I. Rodale, but I guarantee you know some of his work – such as the founder of Prevention magazine and coining the term ‘organic’ for farming/produce grown without artificial additives. What you might not know is how it all ended and what we can learn from his life.


Rodale was an early advocate of sustainable agriculture and organic farming in the United States. He popularized the term “organic” as a term for growing food without pesticides. Inspired by his encounters with other health-minded experts, he started promoting a healthy and active lifestyle that emphasized organically grown foods. In the 1940’s he established the Rodale Organic Gardening Experimental Farm and started publishing Organic Farming and Gardening magazine, which was later retitled Organic Gardening. In 1945, he wrote Pay Dirt, the first American book on organic gardening.

One of Rodale’s most successful projects was Prevention magazine, founded in 1950. It pioneered the return to whole grains, unrefined sweets, using little fat in food preparation, folk cures, herbal medicines and breastfeeding. It also promoted nutritional supplements and cutting nicotine and caffeine. Rodale opposed the consumption of milk and sugar, which he blamed for many diseases. Rodale once stated “I’m going to live to be 100, unless I’m run down by some sugar-crazed taxi driver”

What happened

In June 1971 at the age of 72, Rodale was giving an interview on the wonders of organic food on The Dick Cavett Show. During Rodale’s interview he stated such things, “I’m in such good health that I fell down a long flight of stairs yesterday and I laughed all the way,” “I’ve decided to live to be a hundred,” and “I never felt better in my life!”

After his interview, Rodale remained onstage and was seated on a couch beside the next interviewee. Rodale then appeared to lose consciousness and leaned over. After calling for medics to perform CPR, Rodale was rushed to the hospital and pronounced dead of a heart attack. The episode was never broadcast out of respect. He died at the same age as his own father died. All his efforts didn’t even yield him one extra year of life.

Not the first

This isn’t the first time this sort of thing has happened. Dr Robins Atkins famously created the Atkins heart-healthy diet, “the apostle of protein gluttony as a passport to health, wholesomeness and the perfect figure”. Atkins had a heart attack the year before his accidental death slipping on ice. The medical examiner accidentally revealed that Atkins was suffering from hypertension and congestive heart failure at the time of death. He also died at the age of 72.

What to learn

This is not to say we shouldn’t do our best to stay healthy. We know that smoking, drinking, obesity, and other factors absolutely shorten our lives. But what we should learn is that time and again we’re shown that we can only do so much. Our best laid plans do not guarantee success for our health. We often learn later we were wrong about the science. Sometimes you just get unlucky. But no matter what, eventually all our best laid plans and efforts will fail us.

Our efforts might eek out a few more years, or even a decade or two – or in Rodale’s case – not a single year. We are all going to die someday – but this is not being overly morbid. “Carpe Diem”, Memento Mori, and other phrases and sentiments are something Christians have lived for millennium. It’s a reminder that we must live our lives with purpose and direction. Every day is a gift, and one day that gift will run out whether you are doing something with your life or not. So what are you making of the days of your life?


Portland’s strange unbuilt freeways

Portland’s strange unbuilt freeways

If you’ve driven much of Portland, you’ll see strange, unfinished ghost ramp branches like this one off the right of the connector ramp between I-5 to I-84.

Peter Dibble does a fantastic job of talking about these interesting historical artifacts from the sometimes bizarre history of Portland road building.

If you think this kind of poor planning is a new problem for Portland, a desperately needed improved and seismically safe I-5 bridge across the Columbia has been worked on for over 17 years. It has absorbed hundreds of millions of dollars, produced dozens of plans, yet not a single shovel of dirt has been moved in all that time.