USS Oregon war memorial in Rose Festival Waterfront Village

I know the Spanish-American War was, like, a long time ago and — let’s face it — it wasn’t exactly one of the most glorious episodes in the American record of bringing freedom to the oppressed, but still, if you’ve got a war memorial made out of the mast of the USS Oregon in the middle of the Rose Festival Waterfront Village where presumably tens of thousands of people are going to be passing by, is it really necessary to clamp stands selling pizza and elephant ears onto it?

[UPDATE] I’d actually forgotten reading about this, but Jack Bogdanski mentioned it when he linked to this post yesterday. Apparently, sticking inappropriate stuff in memorials is just accepted practice in the Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Last year’s Navy fleet’s security zone chopped through the Japanese internment memorial garden, and during the huge Obama rally last year the city set up portable toilets in the memorial to fallen police officers; during the week dedicated to honoring cops killed in the line of duty.


I’ve never understood the whole “High school was some of the best years of my life” thing that seems to be a part of a lot of people’s lives. It might be surprising for those who know me now, but my high school years were much the continuation of the unpleasantness of my grade school years, which had been bad enough that my parents scrimped and saved to send me to the local Catholic high school, which had a — largely undeserved — reputation for academics. Even though I did fine taking some college level chemistry coursework the summer after my freshman year in high school, my parents were reluctant to allow me to go on to college full-time because of a certain lack of maturity on my part. There’s no disputing that was the case, but then again, thirty-odd years later maturity seems still not to have kicked in.

Darrel Plant 1976
Yearbook photo from my sophomore year, taken in the room that served as the yearbook office at Marist High School.

Anyway, despite having worked on the yearbook for three years — including a stint as editor my junior year, when I aroused the ire of my fellow students by making the tradeoff of color photography inside for a black cover — my school loyalty has been pretty negligible (I didn’t work on the yearbook my senior year and I don’t even have one, after spending most of my year as editor having a staff of myself). Years ago, the alumni association tracked me down (I’m not that hard to find) and started sending me the newsletter, which I desultorily read and recycle, but I’ve never been to a reunion or been invited to one. Maybe there’s a reason for that. This was in the latest edition of the newsletter:

Marist High School reunion announcement detail May/June 2009

In Case You Need It

I got some bills this morning,

They tumbled through the door

I counted every penny but

The bills still came to more

And printed in the paper

For Pisces it did say,

“If you would just be bolder,

Then this might be your day”

It said, “Lady Luck apologises

For the way she’s been behavin’

And she promises she’ll change.

If you don’t want to know her, she’ll understand,

But if you’d like to take her hand,

She could be back at your command.”

So I ran round the corner,

The bookie’s there I entered

Put ten quid on a mare

From a stud in Kildare

But though the jockey beat her,

In Belgium they will eat her.

The tannoy began to rip as I tore up the slip

It said, “Lady Luck apologises

For the way she’s been behavin’

And she promises she’ll change.

If you don’t want to know her, she’ll understand,

But if you’d like to take her hand,

She could be back at your command.”

I met a girl this evening

And I began to think

That I might get her drunk

But she matched me drink for drink.

So when she drew the curtains,

I felt success was certain

But as she kicked me out,

She spoke in the third person:

She said, “Lady Luck apologises

For the way she’s been behavin’

And she promises she’ll change.

If you don’t want to know her, she’ll understand,

But if you’d like to take her hand,

She could be back at your command.”

—The Proclaimers, “Lady Luck”


Mike Downey was asking on Twitter yesterday if anyone could confirm his memory that the FLA and SWF formats were introduced in Flash 2, which was the first version released under the Macromedia imprint (“Flash 1” was just stickers plastered on the box for FutureSplash Animator). I answered late (I remember Peter’s FutureSplash box around the old Alder Street office) but it did prompt a peek into the folder where I keep versions of older applications, since my old dual-PPC desktop Mac will still run OS9, and sometimes I’ve needed to open old source files for one reason or another.

The Macromedia application graveyard

The Gleaner

The smart car (and Barbara) next to an Agco Gleaner R75 combine in Dayton, Washington last week. The R75 looked big even surrounded by a bunch of other farm machinery, which tends to be a tad larger than the smart anyway.


smart cabrio

11ft 9in

5ft 1in
Overall Length

25ft 3in

8ft 10in

11ft 2in

6ft 2in
Turning Radius

22ft 6in

14ft 4in
Base Weight


Engine Displacement

8.4 liters

1.0 liter





The Threat-Based Economy

Years ago it was just a simple little slogan/word play: “Every Litter Bit Hurts.” A cajoling reminder that when you tossed your garbage on the ground, you adversely affected the earth and the environment.

Litter and it will hurt

But sometime in recent history the caution to pick up your crap turned from inveiglement to ultimatum, at least in the hands of the Washington State Department of Transportation, which has the inelegantly-worded signs above posted along ther scenic highways and byways.

I was wincing so much at the poor word choice that I didn’t even make the connection to the original slogan, which Barbara mentioned as I was complaining about the signs. That just enraged me, because you have to know that in some ad or PR agency, someone decided at some point to punch up the old slogan by adding some “zazz” to it and give it a hip, “edgy” feel for the new millennium, and maybe, you know, make some commercials with guys who could torture litterers.

Department of Subtle Irony

A company I reported to the Oregon Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection division earlier this year because I felt they used misleading tactics in order to jack up monthly service fees related to digital telecommunications sends me a mass-mailed postcard stating “BEWARE: Some will stop at nothing to get a sale.”

They go on to say “do not rely on what the door-to-door salesperson tells you as factual,” and suggest you report any deceptive sales tactics to their company. From my experience with them, I’d say don’t rely on what their own salespersons tell you as factual; they probably want you to report the tactics so they can include them in their repertoire.


In addition to anniversaries of the science-fiction convention I put together and the time I watched a building in Portland blow up (well, down, at least), this May is the anniversary of the end of the last job I held, at a company called Reality Engineering.

Back in October 2005 I got hired for what I called The Last Director Job In Portland, just before heading off to that year’s MAX conference in Anaheim.

I’d started looking for a steady gig because even that far back work at the bottom of the multimedia tank had started to get pretty spotty, for whatever reasons, and the year-and-a-half of steady employment I received from Reality helped get us back on our feet after effects of the implosion combined with my little brush with death.

But it’s been two years since that ended. Incoming projects (Director, Flash, or whatever) have been even less frequent than they were four years ago. Resumes and project inquiries have gone out steadily since I was laid off with nary an answer. A couple of the projects that came to me from previous contacts fell through, and one client still owes me thousands of dollars for work I did more than a year ago.

I had a conversation a couple of weeks back with a graphic designer I know whose been in worse straits for longer. He’s lost his house and is subsisting on the kindness of some friends along with a very small income from a part-time front desk job. It’s not just the lack of income that’s a problem, but every month our portfolios get dustier and more out-of-date. Not that anyone’s looking at them, but even if they were, when you’ve been scrabbling to find small jobs to fill in the cracks and the last major project you worked on was literally years ago, what kind of impression does that leave on a potential client? Where have you been since 2005? In prison?

Like a lot of other desperate or semi-desperate people, I’ve got some hope and money riding on the iPhone gold rush right now. Like a real gold rush, the people selling mining supplies and leading people across the passes are the ones who are going to come out of it well; a lot of the rest will end up worse off than they were before they made the trip.

Crossing my fingers and hoping that I’m among the lucky ones this time. I’ll let you know how it ends up when I’ve released my app (whether you care or not).


Moving kind of slow

No I never had much balance,

Why does everyone I know

Keep making lots of dough?

I guess I’ll find out soon

When I get to that

Crystal palace in the sky.

I’ve heard stories second-hand

About its grand interior

Its gold and silver strands

Cathedral ceilings way up high.

All the furnishing’s unique

When you get to your

Crystal palace in the sky.

Well I’ve worked as a part-time circus boy,

Collected cans down Saticoy,

And patiently put forth my master plan.

I’ve imagined futures and full plates,

And slept with every subliminal tape,

But now I’m so angry at someone.

My contract is in breach.

Why must my crystal palace

Always be on hold this week?

I feel lucky, I suppose,

At least we’re all still breathing.

Stuck here in escrow

Just a-waiting out our loan.

But no big-arm patrol will stop me

When I get to my crystal palace

Bye and bye

And it’ll be my way

Or the highway

Getting to my crystal palace

In the sky.

Stan Ridgway. “Crystal Palace,” Black Diamond