It's beyond me why the Rose Garden Arena isn't completely packed for SportFight 24. For four and a half hours fighters pounded it out in an evening filled with action, sport and blood. What more could you ask for from a Friday night out!? It's hard to imagine what kept the Rose Garden from being as full as a match up between the Winterhawks and The Seattle Thunderbirds. Is it the expensive $8 a cup Rose Garden beer that kept people away? The 7pm Friday night early start time? Or the fact that it was broadcast live on HDNet? Whatever the reason, many Portlanders missed out on a fantastic, unmediated top class sporting event that can be experienced by watching it on TV. Fans who opted to watch the matches at home on HDNet missed some of the best action of the night as the untelevised under card fights proved to be stronger and more exciting than some of the main bouts.

Sportfight 24 started with a bang with two extremely strong under card fights. Marques Daniels made quick work out of Joshuah Lagrange with a rain of punches that caused the ref to jump in and stop the fight (one of the few fights of the night stopped this way). That fight was followed by the much hyped Colom Toombs and Colin Porter bout. Toombs is "Rowdy" Roddy Piper's son and he clearly had the support of the crowd (who chanted "Piper, Piper"). Early on in the fight Toombs got into trouble, taking a number of hard shots, his face began to well early. Piper then got caught in a rear naked choke that looked it was going to end the match and put a damper on some of the the hype surrounding Toombs. Choke well set Toombs gave the ref a thumbs up and then proceeded to find his way out of the choke, he then reverse it into a dramatic choke of his own to win the fight. It was one of the more explosive moments of the evening and it kept the buzz turned way up for Toombs.

After the first two solid fights things stayed on the ground for several of the middle matches. After an arm bar win by crowd favorite Tyson Jeffries, four of the next bouts went the full three rounds and almost all of them ended by decision. It wasn't until the fight between DJ Linderman and Mychael Clark that things started to heat up. Clark displayed flamboyant martial arts styling with spin kicks, supermans and other 'showy' moves, but it was Linderman's consistent strength both on his feet and on the ground that made him a clear contender for the win. Linderman looks pudgy, but after three rounds he barley seemed winded. Taking a solid unanimous decision Linderman showed he's a fighter not to be underestimated.

My favorite fight of the evening was the Mark Miller, Mike Pierce bout. Mike Pierce, who fights out of the Braveheart Gym didn't find much support in the pro Team Quest crowd, but even his harshest critics couldn't help but notice the absolute precision in Pierce's fight. I saw Pierce fight in a previous Sportfight and it's clear he's put his time in training and refining his skills. Like a surgeon Pierce took Miller apart. One blow opened a huge cut on the top of Miller's head and blood streamed out in a flow that made Miller look like something out of a Rob Zombie movie. The fight was stopped so that they could assess Miller's injury and much to the surprise and delight of the crowd they let the fight continue. Step by step Pierce pushed the fight in the direction he wanted it to go, with control of almost every position on the mat Pierce showed that he was clearly the better trained fighter. In the end Pierce won by TKO and Miller's cuts became too severe for him to continue. Of all the fighters who fought at SportFight 24, it's Pierce who showed the most promise and his fight was worth the price of admission.

The feature title bout between Enoch Wilson and Brian Gearahty wasn't as exciting as the Pierce/Miller bout. Gearahty gave Wilson a lot to handle for four rounds, locking him up and pressing submission attempt after submission attempt. Four rounds into the fight it was clear that Gearahty had done just enough to win a few rounds but not enough to take Wilson's title away from him. Ultimately Wilson prevailed with an earth shattering, late fourth round, punch that left Wilson dazed in the corner. Wilson gave a gladiator roar as he pounced around the ring, sticking around long after the bout was finished to celebrate.

It's exceptional to live in an area with such easy access to high quality Mixed Martial Arts and a shame more people aren't taking advantage of it. The athletes fighting out of Team Quest and Braveheart gyms have the foundation to carry them to national attention, and for just a few bucks you can catch them live and in person.

See pictures from Sportfight 24 here.


Tonight I experienced one of the most unfortunate computing nightmares of my many years dealing with computers. My Dell Inspiron 700m almost caught fire. Smoke began pouring out the side of the machine, the section of the keyboard began to bubble and the screen began to melt. It was my daughter who noticed the smoke emanating from the laptop, which was sitting plugged in to the power strip, just sitting there. I quickly unplugged the laptop and then tried to reboot it. It wouldn't restart.

After a few tries the laptop did power on, but the screen was dead (only shining a grey light) and the smoke started again, so I shut it off.

I then spent almost 2 hours on the phone with Dell getting bounced around from service rep to service rep. One even hung up on me and never called me back on the callback number he asked for at the beginning of the call.

Finally I got through to a service rep who indicated that Dell would indeed replace the melting laptop, although it'll be 21 days till i get the computer.

It's amazing to me how electronics can fail like this. This laptop was never dropped, always well cared for and used on many trips. It only became a full use computer when we moved into our new home and Heather wanted to be more mobile in her computing (rather than using a deskop as Ivy is too mobile for Heather to actually sit and check her email.).

I hope that Dell actually DOES ship out the replacement and we can get back up and running before too much time passes by. Until then I'll have this BBQ'd laptop on my desk.

My Day on a Bike

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I've had it on my calendar for a while. September 17, Bicycle day. Today my sole mode of transportation is my bike. It's not a fancy bike, I bought it used from Sellwood Cycle a number of years ago (a side note, I won't buy from them again...but that's another story). My first mission today was to try to find a rack for my bike (it had one before I bought it... and Sellwood obviously removed it before selling it to me... so I want one again).

I rode from my home near 39th down to the Bicycle Repair Collective. They informed me that my bicycle doesn't have the eyelets for a rack. From there I cycled up to the Hollywood district to Hollywood Cycling on 41st and Halsey who sent me to Hollywood Cycling on 52nd and Sandy. With a less than ideal solution I decided to 'go across the street' and stop in to Bike Gallery where a service guy basically said 'you're screwed'...

I rode back to 41st and rewarded myself with a green smoothie at Trader Joes and picked up a few groceries for home... I was dangerously low on peanut butter and I have 3 kids.... not good.

A nice ride home and I've stopped to plot my next stop. Using ByCycle I've plotted the best bike course to tonight's OurPDX meet up at The Chesterfield which is on 11th and Burnside.

Depending on the time I may grab a bite at Red & Black Cafe or The Hungry Tiger. After that I'll be cycling cross town to SE 48th where my local neighborhood tea monk Paul Rosenberg (owner of Sacred Tea) is doing a rare tea tasting tonight!

The journey will end later tonight as I ride (tea drunk) home. A modest 10 or so miles ridder.

After moving from the SW suburbs where you take you life in your hands It's an absolute thrill to easily and safely ride to everywhere I need to go! I love NE!

How Jewish Am I...Really?

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It's this very question that I find myself grappling with today... How Jewish AM I...Really? Technically, I am very Jewish. I was born to two Jewish parents, went to Hebrew school, had my Bar Mitzvah at age 13 and then what? Since 1983 the whole definition of my religious beliefs have been muddled. From Age 13 to 18 I spent most summers at Jewish Summer Camps. I enjoyed the communal Jewish experience, the community shabbat, singing Jewish songs around the campfire... if you asked me at the end of a never-long-enough summer, I would answer 'VERY JEWISH'. But the with the return to school and the soon to follow 'High Holidays' my passion and connection would quickly fade.

By Yom Kippur while fasting I'd quickly change my answer to 'Not Fucking Much'. You see, I hate Yom Kippur. Despise being 'trapped' at temple, pressured not to eat anything. I dread the ever repeating service where my most common activity is flipping through the pages of the sedur to find when the damn thing is going to be over. And it's always puzzled me, how exactly did my passion and love get so quickly transformed?

This cycle of love and dread has continued through most of my life. There have been times where I have embraced my religion, held my arms out wide and then held it close. Then there are times when I've crumpled it up and tossed it in the trash. One of the most challenged times for me with my relationship with my religion was when my father died young from cancer. Since that point I've never really been able to fully reconcile a belief structure with such a rigid view of the universe and the death of someone who I loved dearly and who by all accounts was a good man.

At times I think I've stuck around Judaism out of pure pressure. I mean my religious path was always well established - I'd get Bar Mitzvah'd, go to Israel after being 'Confirmed', Marry a Jewish Woman and raise my kids Jewish. And while I've deviated from that path, I've always felt that I'm locked into it. At 13 I did have my Bar Mitzvah, but almost the next day I told my parents that there was no way in hell I was going to study any more and get confirmed. To this day I still haven't been to Israel. I married a woman who converted to Judaism and yet every member in my extended family married someone who isn't Jewish. I don't really celebrate Shabbat, only go to temple to drop off my kids at Hebrew school and no longer fast on Yom Kippor.

I do have quite pleasant memories of my Bar Mitzvah. I can remember riding the long bus ride from Moraga to Danville (where I had a short stint in private school) listening to my Torah portion on a Walkman the size of a brick. My mother brought over the DVD copy of my Bar Mitzvah tape the last time she visited, and I was of two minds about the whole thing. The first, that the party and all those people were more about relatives and friends of the family than anything else, and second that I look like I had a really great time.

But mixed with any good memories are ones which are not so fond - fighting with my parents (usually my mother) about exactly what we could or could not eat on Passover (I mean corn syrup in coke...give me a break! Also I never understood the idea of a passover cake!). Also many of my memories of temple involve either being bored out of my mind, or the feeling of being trapped.... flipping pages, looking for when it will all over.

When I start to really think about how religion even fits in my life I have an impossible time reconciling something that makes me miserable with something I'm supposed to be doing. What is this for exactly? I'm not trying to be coy, I don't think I'm every really clear WHY I'm struggling with being Jewish. I mean, shouldn't it be obvious? Shouldn't it be clear why I'd go to temple, why I'd celebrate holidays, why I'd what to teach my kids the same things I was taught?

And yet, I find myself joining and quitting congregations in a town far too small to be changing dates at the dance. As I stood last week, arms crossed, ready to explode at my son's Hebrew school I realized that I had to start dealing with my real feelings about it all. The issue which got my blood boiling was the explanation of a series of annual benchmarks that my children had to meet in order to be granted a date for a Bar or Bat Mitzvah. While this might on some level be entirely reasonable, I mean kids do have to learn what they need to learn in order to have a Bar Mitzvah, the idea that there's some standardized testing of sorts for faith just struck to the core of my problems with my religion.

After all.... Isn't religion supposed to be something you feel inside, something that connects you to others and something you WANT to do!? When did a sort of standardized testing get into the mix. And then it hit me, the feeling of being trapped, flipping through the book to find out when we'd be done... it's the same awful feeling I felt in school when I wasn't learning and wasn't having any fun. It's the same... YOU HAVE TO... feeling I felt growing up, when my destiny wasn't in my own hands.

So with the annual renewal form sitting on my desk I'm drafting another letter of resignation to another congregation I'm going to no longer be a part of. It's like agreeing to have your car towed away... What the fuck do you do next? And that's where I am at, or rather it's much more complicated than that.... Because it's not just about me, I have a wife and kids. So it's not only my own beliefs and connections but the responsibility for my children's.

So back to that question... How Jewish am I Really?! I'm starting to think that the answer really isn't important. The truth is, on some level I AM Jewish, but I don't think that really needs to be measured. My path clearly isn't an easy one and I realize that I need to not let the expectations and impressions of others dictate what and how I do. Perhaps if there's some way to find my way back to those not-nearly-long-enough summers and that feeling I had so long ago.

eastburn-300x225.jpg When I moved to NE Portland it wasn't to chase a pipe dream. I said when I moved I would park my car and walk and now, several weeks into it, that's exactly what I've done. Sure I realize that I'm still in the 'honeymoon phase' with my new location. Yes things will change once the rains start to fall. However, the gains I've made changing my lifestyle these past few weeks are too big to dismiss.

Walking The Talk all started with the entire family walking out the door and down the street for Sunday Brunch. It continued the day school started and instead of piling the kids on a school bus, we walked them to school but to me the real walking the talk happened the other night when my wife Heather and I went on a date.

With three kids, date nights only happen about once a month (or when we can get a sitter). It's always a rush of freedom as we used to hop in the car and drive downtown for dinner, a movie or a show and some drinks. The thrill was even grater this date night as we walked down the driveway towards the car and then took a sharp right walking down the sidewalk and off to our date.

Walking on our date gave us an opportunity to really talk. The dynamic is much different when you're in a car talking then when you are walking. The world slowly creeping by gives a different setting for a real talk, it changes the tempo, it alters the way you communicate.

The first stop on our date was Sivalaya Thai, a local neighborhood restaurant where the family who runs it always makes you feel at home. Sivalaya is one of the few Thai restaurants where complimentary appetizers, Thai iced tea and mango with sticky rice can accompany a meal. We sat and had a nice long and leisurely dinner, after all without a car, there was absolutely nowhere to rush to,

We had intended to make a stop a my favorite local beer shop/pub Belmont Station after eating dinner, but we were so stuffed from dinner we decided we needed to 'walk it off' before we did any drinks or dessert. So we walked, and walked and walked. Soon we had meandered our way from 48Th and Stark to 7Th and Morrison! With the heart of the city in our sights we felt an elation equaled to scoring a goal or hitting a home run. After buzzing by many of the bars around LoBu we finally decided to head back up Burnside to The East Burn (a lot less 'sceney' than the bars around LoBu).

At The East Burn we sat sipping cocktails and ordered their famous Trinity Fries - A Blend of Russet and Sweet Potato Fries and topped with Fried Leek. Because we hadn't driven around town, scoured for parking spots, gotten pissed at the ludicrous cover charges at some of the LoBu bars our time at The East Burn was completely relaxed a fun. A nice romantic moonlight walk home with a crisp night air was the finale of our walking date. As we were walking we tried to estimate just how far we had walked that night.

The next day I popped on Map My Fitness and plotted our route. 5.6 miles! My jaw dropped. I couldn't believe how much ground we covered on our date. This experience would not have been even remotely similar if we had gone by car, not just from an environmentally point of view, but from an experiential one. Life is different when you experience it by foot and the more I walk the talk, the more I can't imagine living any other way.w

Book Review: Lala Pipo

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Lala Pipo is a very dirty book. It's got a strange fascination with the entanglement of ordinary people and extraordinarily perverted sex. But Lala Pipo isn't a pornographic book per se, it's intent is more to explore than excite. Told in a series of interweaving stories Lala Pipo follows several very lonely people as they try to connect to the world around them. Their intersection with others often happens sexually and almost always has an unhappy ending.

Author Hideo Okuda does a fantastic job of weaving these short stories into a cohesive whole. Rather than a book of six short stories Lala Pipo is a complete novel where each character gets their own complete storyline and several events are seen from more than one perspective.

If you're easily offended by sexuality then obviously Lala Pipo won't be for you, but for people who think literature shouldn't shy away from dealing with the sexual relationships between people Lala Pipo is worth checking out. I found it to be a well written, engaging and entertaining book.


It was late, well past midnight and it was the last day I was going to spend in the San Francisco Bay Area before heading off to college. I had called in to Live 105 and was chatting with Big Rick Stuart who was jockeying between our phone call and the on air play. Rick came on the air and wished me a safe trip and played a song to send me off. That was the kind of radio station Live 105 was.

Mark Hamilton was a DJ at Live 105. He was the voice you'd also hear promoting the DJ's spinning tunes down at One Step Beyond or The X nightclub. He was surrounded by great music and great people. So it was a fantastic revelation (Back in 1994) to find that he landed here in Portland at the very young KNRK. I met him at one of the early KNRK snowball shows, the one with Everclear and No Doubt. He seemed like a great guy.

Unfortunately it seems that Mark has forgotten what makes a great radio station. Over time he tweaked the playlist favoring retreading bands like Sublime over debuting new music and new artists. Sublime might be a slightly notable band but I doubt they should be continually haunting the airwaves of an alternative station.

Recently KNRK did a major revamp to their playlist, out was most of the new or truly alternative music (except for bands coming to town in KNRK sponsored events) and in were classics. KNRK effectively remade themselves into a Rock Mix station. The switch started gradually, with 'classic alternative' artists like David Bowie. Listen to KNRK for 2 hours and you'll hear classic Bowie at least once....Then came bands like The Cars and Tom Petty. Tune in enough and you'll wonder if KNRK hasn't fused with KGON. At times even KUFO is more alternative... Which is sad.

Perhaps KNRK is a victim of its own success. Late last year their morning show with Greg Glover began to beat the competition. Perhaps that taste of popular success fueled them on to chase the popular audience. But what used to be a fairly descent alternative station is gone. Many of the good people are still there. Greg is smart guy, knows his music and takes risks (Listen to his Bottom Forty Sunday Nights). Gustav is still the friendliest face of the station, his perfect playlist and track 7 show he wants the station to be a good one. Tara is just plain great, she knows what's going on, but she's as powerless to fix it as anyone.

It all boils down to Mark Hamilton... Program director. Who has made a major misstep with the station by building a playlist that simply isn't alternative. At my home office I've switched of KNRK and listen to KEXP online. KEXP, based in Seattle, ironically is the station supporting MusicFest NW (while local KNRK is notably absent). I hear new music via myspace and am more likely to fire up my mp3 player than my radio...

Next year Community Supported KZME 91.1 is set to launch. If KZME follows KEXP's model it could give KRNK a serious run for its money. Until then fans of alternative music need to email Mark Hamilton and let him know that the playlist changes aren't welcome, and remind them what 'It's Different Here' really means. KNRK keeps saying it's YOUR station... So tell them what YOU want.