12/19/07

What will kids eat?

A Very Simple Light Tortilla My son is a picky eater. I asked him to come up with two weeks' worth of dinners that he'd like to eat. The only restrictions were that you couldn't eat out more than once per week, and every meal had to be different.

1 - Ramen
2 - Quesadillas
3 - Spanakopita & salad
4 - Burritos
5 - Tacos
6 - Eat out
7 - Beans & rice
8 - Baked potato (and pork chops)
9 - Homemade pizza
10- Tostadas
11- Waffles & sausage
12- Eat out
13- Macaroni and cheese
14- Falafel & pita

I notice a lack of veggies, but there are ways to spice it up.

  • Ramen - add green onions and scrambled egg to the soup.

  • Baked potato with a side of broccoli makes a quick and easy dinner. Put onions, beans, sour cream, salsa, cheese or butter on the potato. Or, if you have a meat eater (like my other son), add a small pork chop.

  • Homemade pizza can have all sorts of veggies: bell peppers, artichoke hearts, spinach.

  • Quesadillas, tostadas and burritos can be piled high with lettuce, avocados and fresh tomatoes.

  • The compromise for macaroni and cheese was that on that night I made Indian food for the adults.

  • Falafel and pita can have onions, pepperoncini, feta cheese and tahini. Serve with a bulgur salad and lots of baba ganoush.


I guess for the next weeks would could add:
15 - Hamburgers & fries
16 - Toasted cheese sandwiches with salad
17 - Bratwurst on a kaiser roll, applesauce, peas and (for the adults) sauerkraut
18 - Roast chicken and steamed broccoli
19 - Chicken soup
20 - Eat out
21 - Ok.... pizza again.

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11/18/07

Bike Ride on 11/17/2007

I took a little bike ride around PDX last Saturday.


View Larger Map

I wanted to test out my Garmin GPS

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James Beard's White Free-form Loaf

Here's another experiment taking some of my favorite bread recipes and baking them the NYT "No Knead" way. This involves baking them in a dutch oven that's been preheated to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.



Here's the recipe for White Free-form Loaf from James Beard’s Beard on Bread.
First, the sponge...
2 packages active dry yeast
½ cup warm water
2 cups flour
1 cup water

You can make this as a sponge and let sit for an hour, or a day.
The bread will have more lightness if it sits for a day.
Then…
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup buttermilk or yogurt
2 cups flour plus some for mixing in while kneading
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Cornmeal to cover the bottom of the dutch oven.


Normally the recipe is to bake this at 375 for about an hour. But, I did the No Knead method in a dutch oven. I baked at 450, 30 minutes covered, and about 25 minutes uncovered. Prior to baking I pre-heated the oven for 30 minutes with the dutch oven in it. That way the dutch oven was hot!

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William Melville Child’s Health Bread

In a previous post I wrote about the New York Times "No-Knead" bread.
The bread had a marvelous crust, which seemed to be due to cooking it in a dutch oven.

As an experiment, I'm trying some other breads that I've made in the past and baking them according to the NYT No-Knead recipe.



Here's William Melville Child’s Health Bread from James Beard’s Beard on Bread.
The recipe calls for:
2 packages active dry yeast
¾ cup warm milk
1 tsp sugar
2 ¼ cups boiling water
2 cups quick oats
3 ½ cups whole-wheat four
¾ cup dark molasses
1 ½ tablespoons butter (melted)
1 tablespoon salt
3 ½ cups all purpose flour

In the recipe he says that William Melville Child recommends grinding your own whole wheat flour. I used Bob's Red Mill whole wheat.

Since I was short on molasses I filled out the cup with dark brown sugar, which offset the whole wheat very nicely.

Instead of baking at 350 for one hour, I did the NYT method:
At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- quart cast iron pot in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under bread and plop into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.


The result? A nice, dense whole wheat bread that will last about a week without drying out. The crust, while crunchy, wasn't as exciting as the white No Knead bread. Whole-wheat sucks up a lot more liquid than white flour, so I think that there was less steam in the dutch oven to give it the pleasing crust. Also, the whole wheat is denser than white, so the difference between the crust and the crumb wasn't as distinctive.

Next time I try this bread maybe I'll reduce the amount of whole-wheat flour by 1 cup.
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9/28/07

Bike Hits 130.7 mph. On Snow

This video shows the guy going over 130 down a snow covered mountain in the Andes.

9/26/07

Weird Excel bug

Ok, Try this.
Select the following text and paste it into Excel.

=850*77.1
=5.1*12850
=10.2*6425
=20.4*3212.5
=40.8*1606.25
=77.1*850
=154.2*425
=212.5*308.4
=308.4*212.5
=425*154.2

The answers should be 65535.
Excel says 100000.

Take a look here for more info

Note: It's not a problem for Excel 97. Only for the newer versions.

Time Lapse video of the removal of Marmot Dam

Here's a time lapse video (still being made) of the removal of the Marmot Dam on the Sandy River.

According to the main page,
PGE has begun removing Marmot Dam, opening a new chapter for native fish and wildlife of the scenic Sandy River. This site explores the dam's past and the river's future, documenting the transition from power-generating resource to wild fish habitat and public recreation area.

9/25/07

My bike commute - take 2

Here's another clip of my bike commute along SE Salmon street and then the Springwater Corridor. This time I managed to tape the whole ride. My previous attempt the camera shut off when I hit a serious pothole on 15th and I didn't notice it until I got to OMSI.

This ride you can see the dual bike lane going onto the Hawthorne Bridge (if you look carefully).

9/24/07

The best non-English language films

Here's an amazing list of non-English films. A significant number are in black & white and I have to think these were chosen for the pure artistry of the films.

I've seen some of these films: PIERROT LE FOU, MY NIGHT AT MAUD'S, AMARCORD, DAS BOOT... and many more. But the cool thing is how many I haven't seen yet. (HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR, SHOOT THE PIANO PLAYER, THE GRAND ILLUSION)

In fact, I haven't even seen Run, Lola, Run. Here's one comment about that film:
'The Butterfly Effect' was a movie with an important point about time travel: you should never go back in time to change the past because you, Ashton Kutcher, are an idiot. One of the virtues of this movie is this shows what happens when someone with brains tries to do it.

9/14/07

"Peak oil" time is near?

Will we be forced to give up our gas driven automobiles?

At some point in the near future, worldwide oil production will peak, then decline rapidly, causing depression-like conditions or even the starvation of billions across the globe.

That's the worst-case scenario for subscribers to the "peak oil" theory, who generally believe oil production has either topped out or will do so in the next couple of years.

What follows depends on who one talks to, but predictions run the gamut from the disaster scenario described above to merely oil prices in the $200-a-barrel range while society transitions to other energy sources.

9/12/07

Big Cheese

Technically, 'Fond Du Lac' is French for 'at the side of the lake.' But, it makes for a good homonym of Fondue Lak(e).

FON DU LAC, WI -- It's known as "America's Dairyland" and now Wisconsin has another way to back up the claim. More than 1600 pounds of cheese was used over the weekend to create the world's largest fondue in the town of Fon du Lac. The cheese was melted in pot that measured 8 feet wide and 3 feet deep.


Now who's the big cheese? (Not to be confused with the "big red cheese.")

9/11/07

NYT No-Knead Bread - reviewed


I tried the New York Times' recipe for No-Knead Bread.

Here are the pictures.

Here are my impressions of the bread:

  • I used a little more salt than the recipe called for, and it was just right.

  • The crust is crusty, like a baguette, while also pretty. Puts the 'art' in artisan bread.

  • I put a lot of flour on the towels as it was rising. I also sprinkled corn meal on the top (which became the bottom). I use Bob's Red Mill corn meal and white flour.

  • Let the bread cool for 10 minutes or so after it comes out of the oven. That makes it easier to cut.


I baked the bread in a Dutch Oven (cast iron pot) with a lid. I wonder if that can be used for other bread recipes with the same success? I'm thinking of trying it with some recipes from Beard on Bread.

Here's my tweaked version of the recipe:
Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon salt
Cornmeal as needed.

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour and cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- quart cast iron pot in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and plop into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.
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9/8/07

Time Lapse of My Ride to Work


Here's a clip of my bike ride to work. I go down SE Salmon street, which is a bike street, to the base of the Hawthorne bridge. Then I follow the East Bank Esplanade past OMSI to the Springwater Corridor.

The background music is a song I wrote about 15 years ago called "Mike Bike" about a bike messenger, and performed by The Filthy Swine. I figured it was appropriate to the video.
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8/28/07

Jack Kirby, Comic Book Genius, turns 90


The New York Times has a good article on Jack Kirby on what would have been his 90th birthday.

Kirby drew and (co) created some of the classics of superhero comics: Captain America, the Fantastic Four, Thor, the Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, the original X-Men, the Silver Surfer, Doctor Doom, Galactus, The Watcher, Magneto, Ego the Living Planet, the Inhumans, and the list goes on.

Keep in mind that he drew for Timely during WWII, and then for Marvel as the publishing house evolved. He drew romance and horror comics in the 50s when superheroes died out, and then had a major hand in resurrecting them for the 60s.

Also note: he drew the first couple issues of Challengers of the Unknown, which some say was the prototype idea he based the Fantastic Four on. The Challs are personally one of my favorites.

In the 70's he left Marvel, spurned by he feeling that Stan Lee was hogging all the credit for creating the bulk of Marvel superheroes. He traveled back to DC, and started with a wild story line, again one of my favorites, in (guess what --- you'll never believe it) Superman's Pal: Jimmy Olsen. In these storylines Jimmy turns into a super reporter, and Superman is barely seen. You'll have to read 'em to believe 'em

Ok, 'nuff said.

8/26/07

Who is Tish Rabe?

Ok, here's a weird question: who is Tish Rabe, and why did she end up getting the permission to write in the style of Dr. Seuss? When I search for her on the internet I can't find anything specific about her except that "She lives in Greenwich, Connecticut."

Even more disturbing is that her name is an anagram Bear Shit. Is this some sort freakish joke played by a publisher from the house of Seuss?
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8/18/07

Crystal Creek 2007

Here are some pictures from my vacation to my mom's cabin.
It's near Port Orford, Oregon. The pictures on the bluff are from Cape Blanco, which is the west-most point on the contiguous United States.

The weather that week was perfect.

I've posted the pictures using Google's Picasa. The upside of this service so far:
- 1024 MB free space for posting pictures
- If you have a gmail account, you can use the same account for Picasa.
- The client software seems fast and easy to use. At least, easier than my Canon camera software

The downside:
- I had to download the Picasa client software. Not a big deal.

8/17/07

Pentagon Paid $998,798 to Ship Two 19-Cent Washers

I read this in the Oregonian today, but I can't believe it.

A small South Carolina parts supplier collected about $20.5 million over six years from the Pentagon for fraudulent shipping costs, including $998,798 for sending two 19-cent washers to an Army base in Texas, U.S. officials said.

The company also billed and was paid $455,009 to ship three machine screws costing $1.31 each to Marines in Habbaniyah, Iraq, and $293,451 to ship an 89-cent split washer to Patrick Air Force Base in Cape Canaveral, Florida, Pentagon records show.

I mean, they bilked the Pentagon out of $20 million over 10 years. Who was writing the checks?

Did the accountant at the Pentagon see an invoice for "Priority: Toroidal Spacer Component Delivery" and say "Oh, sure, one million bucks is a fair amount for that sort of service?"

C'mon, now. Let's cut the Pentagon's funding in half immediately. Then, take the excess and distribute it among the nation's primary and secondary public schools.

JL421 Badonkadonk Land Cruiser/Tank


Only two left in stock.

8/16/07

Build your own home coffee roaster

Here, and here are two places that explain how to build your own coffee roaster.
In order to roast your own coffee, you have to start with green beans. Green coffee beans of course... not haricots verts. I guess that Sweet Maria's is a good place to get those.

I might try the lo-tech method of roasting the beans in a wok. That's worked for nuts that I've toasted. Or, maybe just go to Stumptown annex.




Flying Focus gets Willamette Week's attention

The video group that I work with, Flying Focus Video Collective, got a mention in Willamette Week's "Murmurs" section.

Call it the fluff tax. The Flying Focus Video Collective , a small Portland nonprofit that produces social-justicey fare for cable-access TV, launched an interesting fundraising pitch last week. The Flying Focus folks are demanding (their word, not ours) that local TV stations donate $10 anytime they lead the news with 10 minutes of “information citizens can’t do anything about” —i.e., weather, sports or “relatively trivial” fare like the live festival broadcasts that gave the world “Turtle Boy.” (Thanks, KGW.) Celebrity news would incur an additional $1 penalty , which is, by the way, tax-deductible. Murmurs bets OPB wishes it had thought of this first. Beats a pledge drive.


Here's the complete "Mainstream TV Challenge Fund-raiser."

8/7/07

No Fatties?

In late June, Clarian Health, an Indianapolis-based hospital system
announced that starting in 2009, it will fine employees $10 per paycheck if their body mass index (BMI, a ratio of height to weight that measures body fat) is over 30. If their cholesterol, blood pressure, and glucose levels are too high, they'll be charged $5 for each standard they don't meet. Ditto if they smoke: Starting next year, they'll be charged another $5 in each check.


Is this fair? Is this a good idea? Would it even make a difference to some people? Would you pay $10 a month to be fat?

They don't mention what the company will do with the fines, but I'd suggest taking that, adding some matching funds, and putting them toward health benefits for the employees, like a free stop smoking program, or discounts toward a health club.

7/19/07

Dow 14,000

Dow tops 14,000 on 07/19/07.

"I think it's only a number and it's not really material," said Rob Lutts, chief investment officer of Cabot Money Management. "What's much more important is the fundamental factors in our economy and what those trends are."


Dow tops 13,000 on 04/25/07.
"In and of itself, [Dow 13,000] is not very important for the market," said Jay Suskind, director of trading at Ryan, Beck & Co.
"Psychologically, it shows the market has been doing well and draws retail-type investors," he said. "But this may not be such a good thing, as retail investors often show up late to the party."


Dow tops 12,000 on 10/18/06
12,000 is just a number--just as 11,000 was when the Dow crossed that level six-and-a-half years ago. We surveyed Wall Street prognosticators to see if investors should begin to party like it was 1999 (again). The consensus seems to be that conditions for equity investors are good, but not great.


Dow tops 11,000 for the first time since 2001.

Dow tops 10,000 on 03/30/99 .
When it hit 1000 for the first time, which was back in the 60's, I believe, it backed off immediately and took a long, long time for it to get back there, I mean more than ten years, I think. So in that case, it was a high water mark that was not returned to for quite a while. But when you have seen it at other levels, such as say 5000, which was less than four years ago, it just really kept on going. So you can't really make generalizations about what it will do from here. There is, of course, the initial reaction which is, well it's going to go almost -- it's always going to go higher because there is so much euphoria around. But you can't guarantee that, either. It's really a toss up.

But, when the Dow topped 9,000 in June of 1998! Watch out!
We got multiple warnings of World War III!

7/10/07

Good use of google maps?

This guy is working on a google map to help track stolen bikes in Portland.

The city of Portland has 341 bikes reported with valid addresses.


It's sad that so many bikes are stolen.

6/29/07

Simple Google Maps

I tried to use KML to map the Portland Public Schools (PPS), but it seems like there's a definite limit on the number of items you can map this way. When I load the map I get an error: "Parts of http://www.rdrop.com/~moss/... could not be displayed because it is too large."

I don't think the limit is due to file size. I've compressed the KML to a KMZ and that didn't make a difference. Also, I removed a bunch of the data from the description to make the size smaller -- no change. No matter what I do, Google Maps only maps about 70 sites from a KML file. Since there are about 100 PPS schools, this isn't optimal.

By the way: to make a KMZ file from a KML file, just zip it up with WinZip.

So, the comment that Google Maps works better than Yahoo doesn't appear to be entirely true.
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In case you're lost...

Map of Europe circa 1000

Cool stereo pictures

Here's a cool idea. Using animated GIFs to present a stereo view.

6/15/07

Yahoo Maps Simple API

Here's a different mapping example. I used Yahoo Maps Simple API.
All you have to do is to put your locations into an XML file and then pass that file to Yahoo via a URL.

This is the same map as the previous -- all the schools in Portland Public Schools.
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6/13/07

Here's my second attempt at google maps

I found this site that helps geocode a batch of addresses.
I already compiled a spreadsheet of PPS addresses by school, so I pasted it into the site and that resulted in a bunch of longitudes and latitudes.

Then, the site helped me to map it.
I'll have to spend some time figuring out what it all means.

5/31/07

MC Escher New York?


The way Google Maps stitches together some of the images makes this image of the Empire State Building look Escher-esque.

5/30/07

Limited memorial

This is a grim newspaper item:
FORT LEWIS, Wash. - So many Fort Lewis soldiers are being killed in Iraq that the Army base will no longer hold individual memorial services.

Starting next month, Fort Lewis will hold one memorial a month for all the dead soldiers.

The Fort Lewis acting commander, Brig. Gen. William Troy, told staff last week that the number of soldiers in harm's way will preclude individual services.


Meanwhile, whatever happened to the daily track of Iraq war casualties? I reckon news services stopped reminding us of it every day once it surpassed the number of people killed in the Trade Centers attack.

FYI...as of today (May 30th, 2007):

  • U.S. Deaths Confirmed By The DoD: 3461

  • Reported U.S. Deaths Pending DoD Confirmation: 9

  • Total 3470

  • Latest Coalition Fatality: May 30, 2007

5/23/07

My first Google Map


Here's my first attempt at using google maps.

See if you figure out what this map represents.



2/1/07

Talk about paranoia

Maybe this is just really effective viral advertising?

CHARLESTOWN, Massachusetts (CNN) -- Two men pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges they created panic by placing "bomblike" electronic light boards displaying a cartoon character with an upraised middle finger throughout Boston.
Of course, they're doing a good job of promoting their cause...
In a news conference, Rich told reporters he had advised his clients not to discuss the incident. Stevens and Berdovsky took the podium and said they were taking questions only about haircuts in the 1970s.

When a reporter accused them of not taking the situation seriously, Stevens responded, "We're taking it very seriously." Asked another question about the case, Stevens reiterated they were answering questions only about hair and accused the reporter of not taking him and Berdovsky seriously.

Reporters did not relent and as they continued, Berdovsky disregarded their queries, saying, "That's not a hair question. I'm sorry."

The authorities, on the other hand, don't come out of this looking very "with it."
"It had a very sinister appearance," Coakley told reporters. "It had a battery behind it, and wires."

Twenty-two-year-old Todd Venderlin, a design student at the Parsons School of Design in New York City, saw one of the devices two weeks ago as he left a lounge in south Boston, according to The Boston Globe. He said he was stunned when he saw bomb squads removing them.

"It's so not threatening -- it's a Lite Brite," he told the newspaper, referring to the children's toy that allows its users to create pictures by placing translucent pegs into an opaque board. "I don't understand how they could be terrified. I would if it was a bunch of circuits blinking, but it wasn't."

drinking from a gallon container of Purell hand sanitizer

I've heard of huffing Sterno, but this is ridiculous:

BOSTON, Massachusetts (Reuters) -- At least two people have become intoxicated by drinking hand-sanitizing gels, a potentially deadly habit, doctors reported Wednesday.

"The Maryland Poison Center was called about a 49-year-old, usually calm prison inmate who was described as being 'red-eyed,' 'loony,' 'combative,' and 'intoxicated, lecturing everyone about life'," Dr. Suzanne Doyon of the Maryland Poison Center and Dr. Christopher Welsh of the University of Maryland School of Medicine wrote in one letter.

"Other inmates and staff reported seeing this prisoner drinking from a gallon container of Purell hand sanitizer over the course of the evening. "

1/12/07

Famous Cousin

My cousin Graham Roberston is on imdb! Now that's something.
Mostly he's worked as a set dresser...but he wrote, directed and produced a film called 'Able Edwards.'

Here's a similarly impressive web site about him.

1/5/07

Slow down for Winterhaven students

To: PPS School Board Members
From: Moss Drake, Linda Candello
Re: Slow down for Winterhaven students
Date: January 4th, 2007

Members of the school board:

We are writing to urge you to reject the recommendation of Superintendent Phillips to relocate Winterhaven School to the Clark building.

On the face of it, Superintendent Phillips' proposal to relocate Winterhaven may seem like an opportunity to grow a successful program. On closer inspection, however, the proposal has a number of problems. First, the new location, Clark, is neither central to the Winterhaven community, nor to Portland geographically. Second, the proposed site lacks equipment and resources essential to the Winterhaven curriculum. And finally, and most importantly, there has been no public process to involve the Winterhaven students and families in a collaborative effort to develop the program for the future.

Our main concern is that moving the school will fundamentally disrupt it. Dr. Phillips says "this set of recommendations allows two of our very successful schools to be moved as entire communities into buildings that suit their needs and are in good shape." We have to disagree with both assumptions: 1) that the community can be moved intact, and 2) that the existing Brooklyn building is inadequate.

History
We can understand the interest in Winterhaven. We were impressed with the school before enrolling our kindergartner five years ago. His writing and math skills were already past the level of most first graders, and we wanted a curriculum that would meet his needs, but we were also dedicated to staying with public schools. We toured Winterhaven and saw on the chalkboard in Mr. Huckaba's kindergarten classroom the steps for the scientific method (observe, hypothesize, test, refine), and at that moment we knew this school would live up to its goals of being an accelerated math / science learning program. We were also impressed by how the principal stressed that the program was only for students who were interested in participating in this sort of learning environment, and that parental involvement and volunteerism was expected.

In 2003 the Brooklyn neighborhood school was shut down, and Winterhaven expanded to fill the Brooklyn facility. My understanding of the neighborhood school closure was that a certain number of local students would be preferred to enter the Winterhaven program, if they elected to do so. Since then, Winterhaven has grown from 250 students to 340 students, a K-8 program that efficiently uses the Brooklyn building.

Community
We feel that Winterhaven School is more than just a building. It is made up of the students, teachers, curriculum and parents that form the school community. Yet, the majority of students currently at Winterhaven live close to the school neighborhood. A study of the students at Winterhaven shows that one third of them live within two miles of Brooklyn, while not one Winterhaven student lives in the Clark zip code. If this proposal is accepted it's likely that more than a third of the families will not move with the school. In addition to this, a survey of Winterhaven families indicates that moving the school to Clark could decrease volunteerism by up to 75%! Considering the number of students who would not make the move, this can't be called a relocation. This is really closing one school, and then opening a different school with a similar curriculum in a new location. The end result will be a program with all the uncertainties of a brand new school, and an unstable learning environment for the students for several years to come.

In addition to parental involvement, Winterhaven students benefit from programs which depend on the school's location. A key example is a life sciences program organized around trips to Oaks Bottom wetlands. Add to this easy Tri-met access to downtown, and you begin to get a picture of how a location central to the Portland geographic area is important to the school. Moving the school six miles to the east will have an impact on the learning opportunities for the students currently at Winterhaven.

Other Opportunities
Rather than moving the existing program, we suggest examining ways to grow a successful program in a new location. One suggestion might be to create a new school called "Summerhaven," which replicates the Winterhaven curriculum. This focus option could share Clark with another more established program, such as the Creative Science School.

Another possibility of growing the Winterhaven program is to consider expanding the Brooklyn building. The Brooklyn building, with 16 classrooms, already has a maximum capacity of 400 students. So, according to Dr. Phillips, Brooklyn already meets the lower limit of an efficient school. But, the extension built in 1951 is structurally sound enough to support a second floor with four or five classrooms. That, along with dividing the existing portable into two classrooms expands the building capacity to 550 students, about the same as Clark.

As a side note, we don't believe that a school must have at least 400 students to be efficient. If you want to compare efficiencies, you could divide the operating costs by the number of students. On a graph of all PPS schools, Winterhaven is almost exactly in the middle for cost per student. We'd say this smaller building is already more efficient than half of the schools in the district!

Process
The most frustrating aspect of the recommendation is the fact that it came without notice, shortly before a long holiday break, and without any public process.

For the past eight or nine months there were a number of "conversations" on the Sellwood Community Reconfiguration Proposal. During this time Winterhaven was involved in the conversation, but never mentioned in the final resolution of the recommendation (Resolution No. 3590). Add to this the fact that PPS has no formal growth plan for Winterhaven, and it feels like the recommendation to relocate the school is a based on a plan that's convenient to PPS facilities but doesn't really consider the education needs of students anywhere.

We would like a win/win solution. This means developing a growth plan for Winterhaven, and including students and families across the city in a collaborative effort to make sure both our schools and our students are successful.

Conclusion
Please slow the process down. Please reject the recommendation to close Winterhaven and move it to a new site. Please consider working in a collaborative way with the Winterhaven school community and other Portland families to develop a plan for future growth of the Winterhaven program.

PPS wants to move Winterhaven away from the kids

Last month Portland Public Schools superintendent Vicki Phillips put forth a proposal to move Winterhaven from the Brooklyn school to the Clark school. Brooklyn has a capacity of 400 kids, and Clark has a capacity of 575, so she sees this as a win/win solution where Winterhaven can grow, and PPS gets to make a large school building with a declining student population more efficient. Unfortunately it's not a clear win for anyone.

Among other things, a key problem is that 1/3 of the students live near Winterhaven, and not one student lives in the Clark zip code. While Dr. Phillips says she wants geographic equality, Clark is on the furthest east edge of PPS's boundary. The Sellwood Bee has an article about this with the sub-headling: "Brooklyn's School could move away from its students."

The Oregonian has also covered this issue, one article being sympathetic ("Parents of magnet schools' kids mystified by siting proposals"), the other somewhat less ("Angry Winterhaven parents ready to vote with their feet").

In addition to the geography, there are other problems with the move. Winterhaven just finished paying for a high-school quality science lab which was funded by PTSA money over the past 6 or so years. Also Winterhaven middle schoolers have a life sciences program where they travel to Oaks Bottom.

The strangest thing about this is that Creative Science School, which is located much closer to Clark, wants to move into the Clark facility. "The recommendation caught parents of Creative Science students by surprise. Long promised their own building, many parents feel betrayed that Phillips didn't opt to move their school to Clark."

Other problems with the move:
According to PPS the Clark and Winterhaven buildings are almost equivalent in terms of the state of facilities:

  • Neither of them are fully ADA accessible.
  • Both need boiler conversion
  • Both have had seismic improvements (most recently Winterhaven)
  • Both have the same water system
  • Clark needs a new roof: “This facility is one of 38 facilities identified as needing roofing replacement in the near future. Portions of the roof are in poor condition.”
  • Winterhaven has $982,000 of capital spending needs
  • Clark has $1,355,000 of capital spending needs
  • So Clark actually needs almost $400,000 more work!
  • Also, according to this same document, Clark will need a new roof in a couple years, while Winterhaven/Brooklyn’s can last for longer.
  • Clark also needs paint, and interior work.
  • Clark also just costs more to operate: $167,700 / year compared to $155,000 for Winterhaven.
  • Clark’s 2005 budget: $2,408,936.
  • Winterhaven’s 2005 budget: $1,489,520
If you want to write a letter to the PPS board, their committee is going to decide whether to vote on the recommendation next Monday (Jan 8th). If they decide to continue with the recommendation, there will be a vote on January 22nd.