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Portland Timbers

10 December 2015

When I came to Portland in 2013 to interview at Vernier, Jackie took me to a Timbers game. She gave me a scarf to wear, and the Timbers won that night, with Diego Valeri making the winning goal.

I was hooked.

Jackie has season tickets to the Portland Timbers, in the General Admission section of the North End of the stadium, where the Timbers Army makes its home. There is only one of Jackie, and she is generous enough to let me buy her other ticket most of the time. So I have made it to most home games (missing a couple due to travel) this year.

Jackie and me at a game in early 2014

Jackie and me at a game in early 2014

The year started out iffy for the Timbers. They struggled to be “above the red line” for most of the season. The red line refers to the line drawn between the top six teams in the Western division of Major League Soccer and the teams below, who will not play in the post-season.  But being a Timbers fan is not a fair weather proposition. The Timbers Army loves the team, rain or shine, goals or no. Of course, there are many complaints if the goals don’t come, but we stick by our team!

A massive photo shoot was held this year, the 5th year the Timbers played in MLS. Any fan who got into line early enough got their photo taken with axe or chainsaw.

A massive photo shoot was held this year, the 5th year the Timbers played in MLS. Any fan who got into line early enough got their photo taken with axe or chainsaw.

But the end of the season was a different story. Head coach Caleb Porter changed up the starting lineup and the team’s formation on the field, putting striker Fanendo Adi up front, backed by Diego Valeri and Darlington Nagbe. The back line was anchored by Nat Borchers and Liam Ridgewell, who stopped many shots before they even made it to goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey. The Timbers inched up the rankings, and made the playoffs!

Green smoke is released to celebrate a goal

Green smoke is released to celebrate a goal

At the end of October, the Timbers were playing Sporting Kansas City at home, in the first round of the playoffs. This game was either win or go home, and I had already arranged to take a short vacation in Sunriver, OR, South of Bend. Greg and I found the bar where the local Timbers fans gathered to watch, and it was a very exciting game. The game ended in a tie, resulting in two additional 15-minute game periods. These ended in a tie, and the tie was settled by penalty kicks. This is when the players take turns facing off against the other team’s goalie, to try to kick the ball into the goal from close range. You may have seen this video (The part at 11:20 is amazing):

The Timbers went on to beat the Vancouver Whitecaps and FC Dallas (FC stands for Football Club) and made it to the MLS Cup final game, against the Columbus Crew in Columbus, OH. While a couple thousand Timbers fans traveled to that game, most of us did not. Here are two photos from that day:

We are excited that the Timbers won the MLS Championship 2015!

We are excited that the Timbers won the MLS Championship 2015!


We each bought the official scarf to commemorate the event!

We each bought the official scarf to commemorate the event!



The Timbers won on Sunday, December 6th. On Monday, the team traveled back to Portland and were greeted at the airport by a mob of fans. On Tuesday, fans thronged Broadway in Portland to see the team and the cup! I was one of many who left work at lunchtime to be there for the team.

Lots of fans in downtown Portland!

Lots of fans in downtown Portland!


Head coach Caleb Porter expresses love for the Portland fans. Timbers players and fans are all getting photos of this occasion!

Head coach Caleb Porter expresses love for the Portland fans. Timbers players and fans are all getting photos of this occasion!


I remember when the Phillies won the World Series in 2008. A lot of students and teachers ditched school to attend the parade in Philadelphia. I went to work, and covered half-empty classes for missing teachers. I was a little resentful. I was pleased to join this celebration for the Timbers, though! It was a lot of fun, in steady rain!

Later that day, at about 6 PM, there was a rally in the stadium. Coffee, hot dogs, and cocoa were free, and the crowd chanted and sang. Timber Joey and his predecessor Timber Jim each cut a slice off the big log (which traveled by truck to Columbus and back) for the players who scored the goals in the final game: Diego Valeri (who scored within the first 30 seconds of the game) and Rodney Wallace. George Fochive taught the crowd a new chant, Liam Ridgewell dropped the F-bomb at least 6 times, and there were short speeches by the mayor of Portland Charlie Hales and the team owner Merritt Paulson. The team saluted the Timbers Army, and a good time was had by all in the wind and the rain!

Timber Joey cuts a slice off the log

Timber Joey cuts a slice off the log

Soccer is over until Spring, and team rosters are changing. There is no knowing what the future brings. We hope it brings another MLS Cup to Portland!

I love and hate bicycling to work

8 September 2015

The title says it all. But I can also give you details.

I love bicycling to and from work because I get to see things I would not see if driving a car. Today I saw a lot of birds, as usual, and I saw a snake (which I almost ran over, because from a distance I could not tell it was a snake), and Mount Hood. It is generally only possible to see Mount Hood on my commute while crossing Tualatin Valley Highway. If I cross that road while driving a car, I can’t also look at Mount Hood. On a bicycle, I can get in a glance.

I like being out in the open, not surrounded by plastic and metal, and most of my commute is on a trail so I am not even in traffic. I like getting exercise. It makes me feel good to move.

I hate bicycle commuting because of Mount Williams. It is not a mountain. It is a really big hill. And the last 130 vertical feet are the worst. I know that if I keep working at it, I will eventually be able to go up this hill with much less difficulty. But it is hard work.


This is the start of the steep part

Also, I hate Millikan Way between the Nature Park and Murray Blvd. There is no bike lane on that stretch, and people always drive faster than the posted speed limit. Plus, there are curves. So I ride slowly on the sidewalk and apologize to any pedestrians I come across.

Finally, I hate arriving at work sweaty and with my hair mushed flat against my head. While it is true that I can shower at work, that means I need a towel at work, and clean clothes to change into, and I have to get to work earlier to be able to add the shower to my day before I start my job. None of these things is an incentive.

I also have some reasons why the Bicycle Transportation Alliance should schedule the Bike to Work Challenge in June instead of September.

  1. In September, it is likely to be cold in the morning and hot in the afternoon. Today, for example, was 52°F in the morning and nearly 80°F in the afternoon. So I wore leggings and long sleeves and a jacket and my full-finger gloves this morning, and this afternoon I wore shorts and a t-shirt and my half-finger gloves and no jacket. Thank goodness I didn’t also need different, more formal clothes for work or I would have had two outfits in my saddlebag in addition to my office shoes.
  2. In September, there is a lot more traffic, because of school. More traffic means scarier bicycling.
  3. In September, the days are getting shorter quickly, and by the end of the month sunrise will occur after 7 am, which is my ideal time to leave for work. In June, sunrise is consistently before 5:30 am, ensuring safe visibility in the morning.
  4. In June, I might start a habit to continue all summer. In September, I probably won’t continue this new habit into the next month because of the cold, dark, and likelihood of rain.

OK, thanks for reading my opinions. I don’t know if this link will work for you if you are not on Runkeeper, but here is my route.


25 November 2012

Today I potted the amaryllis my mom gave me on the day after Thanksgiving.

We went to Winterthur where we enjoyed the Yuletide tour and ate a yummy lunch in their cafeteria, and the gift shop happened to have amaryllis bulbs. So my mom bought one for herself and one for me. I’ve never had one before, and we’ll have to make sure the cat doesn’t eat it (he doesn’t usually eat the plants on the dining room table, and we will keep him supplied with cat grass, which he loves) since they are poisonous to cats, but I am looking forward to the tall, red blossoms.

We had a very nice Thanksgiving, with my parents arriving on Wednesday afternoon after I got home from parent conferences and my workout class. Greg made sweet & sour tofu for dinner, and made the tart for Thursday’s dessert. I made rolls and cranberry sauce. We all drank wine. Thursday we spent relaxing and cooking, in preparation for our guests arriving 3-ish for a 4-ish meal. We invited one of my colleagues and his wife, and one of Greg’s colleagues and her husband. Interestingly, this resulted in two Chinese women at our meal, along with a part-Mexican, a Japanese man and a half-Japanese man (Greg), and my parents and me: a mix of white and Native American. We all ate turkey (except Greg), tofu-turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, green beans, roasted vegetables, Pennsylvania-style chow-chow (pickled vegetables that my colleague made), dinner rolls, and a fruit-and-nut salad. And then there was ginger-blueberry tart and apple pie for dessert. With decaf coffee or tea. I was sooooo full afterward, and it was all so good!

The next day involved not only Winterthur, but seeing Lincoln at the movie theater and dinner at our favorite Thai restaurant. All casual, no hurrying or rushing, and the only crowd was at the theater, where we had to sit more toward the front than we really wanted to, but it turned out OK. I really enjoyed the movie, and thought Daniel Day-Lewis did a really good job as Lincoln. I thought Tommy Lee Jones was also very good and I thought it was really nice that S. Epatha Merkerson read the 13th amendment. I was glad that a Native American actor (Asa-Luke Twocrow) played Ely Parker, one of my ancestors. There were some scenes I could not watch (the Civil War was a very bloody and terrible war) but not very many.

I’m wrapping up the holiday weekend with a little bit of schoolwork (lesson planning) and shopping online, and eating leftovers. I’m thankful that Greg and I both have good jobs and earn enough money that we don’t need to worry too much, and that we have loving families and good friends.


1 October 2010

Here I am, on Friday night, awake at 9 PM.  I am waiting to watch Teach: Tony Danza, a reality show starring Tony Danza, which starts at 10 PM on A&E.  In it, Tony Danza (former boxer, sitcom actor, and sometime talk show host) teaches 10th-grade English at Northeast Philadelphia High School (Home of the Vikings), a huge comprehensive high school in the Northeast section of Philadelphia (go figure).

After teaching part time for a semester at an Orthodox Jewish school and full time for a semester at a high school in Southeast Philadelphia (simultaneously), I was once a new (and still very inexperienced) teacher at a huge comprehensive high school in Philadelphia’s Northeast section.  I walked into a classroom as a white chick from someplace else with an ideal of making the world a better place.  I got back suspicion, attitude, and eventually respect.  And I now teach at a large comprehensive high school named after a compass point and with sports teams called the Vikings (though two counties West of Northeast Philadelphia High School.)

I want to watch it happen to Tony Danza.  Because I was him, only younger and female.  Because I feel like I know those kids, despite being separated by fifteen years and thirty miles.  Because even though he’s at a different school than I was (there are nearly 30 high schools in Philadelphia) and I was never an actor and never won an Emmy, I remember the feeling of responsibility, of terror, and eventually of triumph.

I’m curious about what they will show outside of the classroom.  Mornings sitting in the bathroom feeling sick?  Crying at night?  Mountains of papers to grade, piles of IEP’s to read and obey,  administrators quick to criticize?

Will they show disobedient kids mouthing off or threatening Danza?  Will anyone scream in Danza’s face that he’s an f***ing nut?  Will all the kids even show up to class?  Will they make fun of him behind his back and mimic him in mocking tones?  Or will the cameras change the behavior of the kids (and administrators)?

I have to stay awake!


Wow.  Right off the bat, first day, Danza gets scolded by an administrator for not signing in on time.  When I taught in Philadelphia some administrators were notorious for watching the clock and checking the sign-in sheets.

I liked that he had a “Do Now” on the board when the kids came into class.  It didn’t look like anyone did the “Do Now,” however.

Good job with “the bell doesn’t dismiss you, I dismiss you.”

I love that a kid predicts that Danza will wind up “flipping out.”

I hope that he didn’t bump out some other teacher as assistant football coach.  That seems unfair.

I’m recognizing the self-doubt.  “I don’t know if I can do this.”  “You think you know so much and then you find out you don’t know nothin’.”

I was sorry for the teacher stuck in there observing Danza.  According to state law there must be a certificated teacher in a classroom, which is why student teachers can’t be alone in a classroom and why sometimes I’ve been assigned “coverage” in my school’s testing room for kids with IEPs…while there is a full-time aide, she doesn’t have a teaching certificate.

“This is the hardest job I’ve ever had.”

I could really feel it when Danza commented on the pressure: from parents, kids, administrators, and himself.

They still use chalk at Northeast High School as of last year.

Civil Engineering

9 May 2010

Last weekend I helped out at the 33rd Annual International Bridge Building Competition. It was held at a local high school, and our local Physics Teachers’ Association had helped to sponsor it. Students came from all over the country, having qualified in a regional competition earlier in the year.

While the Illinois Institute of Technology sponsors the competition, they try to hold the final event at a different location every other year, in between holding it in Chicago. This year our local Physics Olympics League had bid to host, and we won!

The goal of the competition was to build the most efficient bridge, materials-wise. Everyone had to use official competition basswood (which was specially dyed with a fluorescing dye detectable with UV light) and had to keep their bridge below 30 grams in mass. The bridges had to span a gap of 30 cm, and there were restrictions on height and the level of the “road” and there were requirements for the places where the load mass could be placed. Then each bridge was individually loaded from below with sand poured into a bucket until the bridge gave way. The bridge that supported the greatest mass of sand per gram of bridge mass would win.

The bridges were assigned a random order for testing, and as each student set up their bridge and started pouring sand the audience hushed.  The longer the time before breaking, the more sand and the more mass.  And the quieter the crowd.  Each crack of breaking bridge released a sigh and applause.  Then the mass of the sand was entered into a computer and the efficiency displayed on the screen above the stage.  The spreadsheet with the data was set up to display the rank of each bridge from most efficient to least, and the student with the number one bridge had to watch all the bridges after hers, hoping that none of them would be more efficient and displace her top score.

This is the winning design for this year:

The girl who made this bridge went home with an iPad and an offer of $15,000 per year for four years in scholarship money if she is accepted at the Illinois Institute of Technology!

Through the Roof

7 July 2009

Thank you to Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories for the shout-out!  They liked my cheer-up ice cream sandwich, and linked to it today.  That sent lots of people my way to view it.  Here is the page-view chart from a few minutes ago:


Hmm, how shall I celebrate?  Maybe I still have a fish-shaped ice cream sandwich in the freezer…

Math more popular than Nintendo

25 July 2008

Really, it’s true!  I posted my “No Excuses” post about arithmetic skills on Wednesday, on Thursday I got the most blog hits ever in one day (50, according to WordPress):

Before yesterday, I got a lot of hits the day I posted my first Nintendo post, the day I blogged about the customer service letter that told me to reformat my computer, and the day I provided the strawberry pie recipe (always popular….mmmmm, pie!).

Thanks for reading!

I’m still here!

26 April 2008

Grades were due, I had 5 homeworks and a test to do in my online physics course, I was under pressure to complete the OTHER online course I was required to take, I was behind in grading after the physics teachers’ conference, and I really felt snowed under for a couple of weeks, there. But I’m still here, I have taken care of a lot of the stuff that needed doing, and I will be writing more soon, I promise!

A quick note, though: I am really happy to have my car back! About 4 weeks ago, a teenager out shopping for a prom dress with her friend smashed into the side of our car while my husband was out getting groceries. Nobody was hurt, and the car the teenager was driving was barely dented, but we had to get both passenger-side doors and the rear passenger-side quarter panel replaced. And I’ve been driving a rental car to work for 4 weeks. It’s the same kind of car as ours: a Toyota Prius, but without some of the features we have like a backup camera and a place to plug our mp3 players into the stereo. Anyway, HOORAY! MY CAR IS MINE AGAIN! (well, ours, but I’m the one who drives it all the time.) I picked it up yesterday from the body shop, in exchange for a large check from the insurance company. *grin*

OK, So I decided to blog.

3 February 2008

Hi everyone,

The purpose of this blog is to have conversations with the people in my life who I never see, either because we don’t live nearby, or because our schedules don’t mesh, or because I am too busy to go anywhere. In order for the conversations to be conversations, you need to comment.

Since I am really doing this right now as procrastination, I am going to stop doing this and go work on what I am SUPPOSED to be doing today, which is grading lab reports. Woo hoo! Don’t you wish you could be here to help?

I will try to post at least weekly with some sort of thoughts/news/hellos.