Friday, September 22, 2006

The Swift Named Stromile

Inside the chimney of Chapman Elementary School in northwest Portland resides the largest known swift roost in the world. Every night during September at dusk, the swifts come back to roost in the chimney before they continue their migration to Central America and Venezuela. There are often so many swifts flying around that is seems like a scene from The Birds. Adria and I went and saw the swifts with some friends from church and we liked it so much that we went again with Adria's younger brothers and Adria's friend Karina. Below are some pictures that we took to document the event:
The bird that you see on top of the chimney in these pictures is a predatory bird. A couple of them seem to show up every night to try to get dinner. On this particular night, this bird sat on the enterance of the chimney for quite a while waiting for dinner to come to him.
Here is some video that I took as well:

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Gangs of Anchorage

My brother recently sent me an e-mail with some information gang activity in Anchorage that he thought that Adria and I should be appraised of. The e-mail went like this:
Subject: Fwd: New Gang Activity in Anchorage
Just thought you should be aware of the gangs in Anchorage!
---Forwarded Message---
Subject: New Gang Activity in Anchorage
Monday, August 14, 2006:
New gang activity in Anchorage hits home playground in gated, up-scale Prominence Point community!

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Seagull Shawn Kemp

Adria's center had a health fair the Saturday after Labor Day. The health fair provides members of the Asian community an opportunity to have free medical screenings. The fair was a big success. The Portland Chinese Times did an article about it. You can read about it here if you can read Chinese or just look at the pictures if you can't.

Adria has also been keeping busy working on a quilt. She found a pattern on the Internet called "Ditzy Donut Dots" that she liked and has been making a quilt based on the Oregon State "O". Adria is working on tying the quilt right now. When the quilt is all finished I will post a picture of it in this space, but it looks like it will be a fun quilt when it is completed.

We also went to Cape Kiwanda over the weekend as part of a church activity. We had a fun time walking around on the beach at exploring around the cape. Here are some pictures from the trip:

After eating lunch, I climbed up this sand dune. About halfway up I realized that it was a lot bigger than I thought at first. Adria was smart and didn't try to climb it with me. Adria climbed the smaller dune to the left and I met her after I climbed to the top (and then had a long rest because I was tired)

On the backside of the giant sand dune, Adria and I sat down and watched the waves for a bit. Here are two areas that we found interesting

Here is a picture of Adria with Cape Kiwanda's Cannon Beach-esque Haystack Rock in the background

Here is a picture of us.

After we were done exploring we had some fire roasted hot dogs. Adria accidentally dropped a hot dog bun in the sand, so I fed it to the seagulls. I found a seagull that had the amazing ability to catch the pieces of bun that I threw in its mouth. Sometimes this seagull would even jump over other seagulls to catch my bread crumbs. Seeing this akin to watching Shawn Kemp in his prime. At least it was until other seagulls got jealous of the seagull version of Shawn Kemp and started biting him.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Following a Legend

Note: This is the 4th part of a multi-post look at the current state of Oregon State football. Part 1 is here, Part 2 is here, and Part 3 is here.

In previous posts, I have discussed the state of Beaver Nation, taken a game-by-game look at Mike Riley's coaching, and talked about the process by which Riley was hired. In writing these posts I came to a conclusion about Mike Riley that I didn't think that I would make. The conclusion is this: at the time of writing, based solely on win/loss record Mike Riley has done nothing to warrant his removal from his job of head football coach at Oregon State University.

If somebody from the future had come to me after the 1998 Civil War and told me that during the next 3 seasons OSU would go 8-5, 7-5, and then 5-6 (Riley's records in his first 3 seasons); I, as well as everyone in Beaver Nation, (which didn't really exist yet either) would have ecstatic. What is interesting is that those records are very similar to what actually happened, with the lone difference being the magical Fiesta Bowl run.

We all know that it is difficult to follow at legend. I think that Riley's biggest failure as a coach is that he isn't Dennis Erickson. Because Erickson is a legend and Riley is not, we have come down more harshly on the bad losses of Riley than we did on Erickson. Let's look at the losses in Erickson's final season in Corvallis:
  • USC (L 22-0) - The last time OSU had shutout was during Riley's first tenure at OSU, also against USC
  • UCLA (L 43-35) - OSU led this game 14-0 after 5 minutes had expired. Sound familiar?
  • Arizona State (L 13-9) - After this game, with OSU 4-3, Steven Jackson went into Erickson's office and asked for the ball more. Erickson gave him the ball more and OSU responded winning 4 of the next 5. The lone loss in that strech was:
  • Washington (L 41-29) - OSU would have won this game if not for Derek Anderson throwing 5 INTs leading to 17 Washington points. Sound familiar?
  • Pittsburgh (L 38-13) - Loss in a bowl game.
Also Erickson's record in bowl games at OSU was 1-2, while Riley is 2-0.

I think that we need to just cut Riley some slack, which Erickson himself more or less said in a recent interview.
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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Hiring of Mike Riley

Note: This is the 3rd part of a multi-post look at the current state of Oregon State football. Part 1 is here, Part 2 is here, and Part 4 is here.

In a previous post, I mentioned that I didn't want Oregon State to re-hire Mike Riley after Dennis Erickson left the program. I would have much rather have had Oregon State hire Dan Hawkins. Hawkins had been a tremendously success coach at Willamette University as well as at Boise State and the feeling was that if Oregon State gave him a good enough offer, that Hawkins could be had.
However, Oregon State decided that Mike Riley was their man, and hired him.

At the time I wondered why Oregon State would chose Riley over Hawkins. Here is what I have been able to piece together:
  • Riley interviewed for the head coaching job at both Alabama and UCLA. Riley was even offered the job at Alabama, which he turned because he was waiting to see what UCLA would do.
  • Riley was originally the first choice for the head coaching position at UCLA, but was never offered it. Apparently when Riley was interviewed for the UCLA job he treated it very casually, like him becoming the football coach was already a done deal. He was dressed in a polo shirt and didn't really have any firm ideas about what he wanted to do with the players that were already in the program. This didn't sit very well with the UCLA folks. However, when Dorrell interviewed for the same position, he came dressed in a suit and he had studied the players in the program and knew what he wanted to do if he got the job.
  • Allegedly the people at Oregon State wanted to hire Hawkins over Riley, but the schools most prominent booster Al Reser, who's family-owned company owns the naming rights to OSU's football stadium, really liked Mike Riley and threatened to pull his support of the athletic program if Riley wasn't hired. The timeline given on the article announcing Riley's hiring seems to support this. From the article:

Four years after leaving the resurgent Beavers for the NFL, Riley agreed to a deal Wednesday to replace Dennis Erickson, who left last week to coach the San Francisco 49ers.

The 49-year-old Riley, defensive backs coach for the New Orleans Saints last season, could not be reached for comment Wednesday night. A news conference formally introducing him as the Beavers’ coach was scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

Riley was among several candidates athletic director Bob De Carolis interviewed, including Boise State coach Dan Hawkins and Beavers assistants Tim Lappano, Dan Cozetto and Gregg Smith.

Hawkins, considered among the front-runners for the job, pulled out of the running Wednesday morning. Hawaii coach June Jones withdrew his name from consideration last weekend.

So Hawkins was no longer considered for the job as of the Wednesday morning, and OSU had an agreement with Riley by that evening. So if Reser really did give the mandate that Riley be hired (and I believe that he did), then that would explain why Riley was hired so quickly.

Life of Riley

Note: This is the 2nd part of a multi-post look at the current state of Oregon State football. Part 1 is here, Part 3 is here, and Part 4 is here.

Let's examine Mike Riley's coaching record while at Oregon State.

First stint:
I think that the only thing about Riley's first stint that needs to be discussed is contained in these highlights of his final game:

More than anything, this victory gave the program a pulse heading into the offseason, which hadn't happened in Corvallis in a long time.

Second Stint:
Let's take a game by game look at the Riley's second era at Oregon State.
2003 Season
  • Sacramento State (W 40-7) - A good win over a D-1AA opponent
  • Fresno State (L 16-14) - I would rank this game as a "Broken Axel Game" according to Bill Simmon's 13 Levels of Losing.
  • New Mexico State (W 28-16), Boise State (W 26-14), Arizona State (W 45-17), California (W 35-21) - A good stretch of games. We were honestly thinking that this team could go to the Rose Bowl at this point. That is until....
  • Washington (L 38-17) - I am still amazed how flat OSU game out for this game. I would have thought that the team would have been more excited for a game on TBS (and to see what Craig Sager was going to wear)
  • Washington State (L 36-30) - Just another painful loss.
  • Arizona (W 52-23), Stanford (W 43-3) - Good wins against the two worst teams in the league
  • Oregon (L 34-20)
  • USC (L 52-28) - Of all the loses, this one is only one that I don't feel that OSU had superior talent.
  • New Mexico (W 55-14) - Most dominating performance of the year
In short, I am convinced that if Dennis Erickson had stuck around for this year, the only regular season game that OSU would have lost would have been against USC.

2004 Season
  • LSU (L 22-21) - This is probably a Guillotine Game
  • Boise State (L 53-34)
  • New Mexico (W 17-7)
  • Arizona State (L 27-14) - The Friday after this game I found Mike Parker, the voice of the Beavers, broadcasting from the OSU Quad and I wondered why OSU can't seem to play a complete game of football. I also deemed OSU "The best 1st quarter team in the nation"
  • California (L 49-7) - The outcome of this game was decided after the first quarter
  • Washington (W 29-14), Washington State (W 38-19), Arizona (W 28-14) - Once again Riley is beating up on the crappy teams of the Pac-10
  • USC (L 28-20) - Key play of the game was Reggie Bush returning a punt for a TD
  • Stanford (W 24-19)
  • Oregon (W 50-21) - This win was doubly sweet because it prevented the Ducks from going bowling
  • Notre Dame (W 38-21) - OSU runs its record against Notre Dame to a sterling 2-0
2005 Season
  • Portland State (W 41-14) - A good win to open the re-vamped Stadium
  • Boise State (W 30-27)
  • Louisville (L 63-27) - Ouch
  • Arizona State (L 42-24)
  • Washington State (W 42-24)
  • California (W 23-20)
  • UCLA (L 51-28) - This game is where the walls of this season start to fall off
  • Arizona (L 29-27) - Turning the ball over 5 times in opponent's territory (including one when you are in range for a go ahead field goal) isn't going to win you many games. Also Matt Moore later said that he didn't know that OSU needed merely a field goal.
  • Washington (W 18-10)
  • Stanford (L 20-17) - Just a crappy game
  • Oregon (L 56-14)
So in the 3 full years that Mike Riley has been at Oregon State in the second go-around, there has been 2 bowls games, and one season that has not. Are Beaver fans who are calling for his ouster based on that one year being a bit hasty? Perhaps, but I think that they remember how good it felt to have a football team that mattered, and because OSU football didn't matter for so long, they are fearful that the program will quickly regress to its former state.

State of Beaver Nation

Note: This post is the 1st part of a multi-post look at the the current state of Oregon State football. Part 2 is here, Part 3 is here, and Part 4 is here.

There has been a lot of discussion in the aftermath of Boise State's thumping of Oregon State about the fate of this year's squad and the future employment of Mike Riley. I feel obliged to weigh in on this topic.

First, people who thought that OSU was just going to stroll onto BSU's Blue Turf and have an easy victory like OSU's game against Eastern Washington don't know much about Boise State, or how tough they play Oregon State. The past two times they have played in Corvallis, Oregon State has won with scores of 26-24 in 2003 and 30-27 in 2005. The last times we have played in Boise have also been eerily similar; Oregon State rushes out to a big lead, Boise State comes roaring back and wins convincingly. This happened in 2004 as well as last Thursday. I am convinced that Boise State, if it played in the Pac-10, it would consistently finish in the upper half of the division.

Second, there is a question of what adjustments will coach Riley make. People especially would like to know if Riley is ever going to bench Matt Moore. I would say no, mainly because Riley has never benched a starter before. People point to the 1998 game against Washington where Jonathan Smith threw for 469 yards as the turning point in the programs history. But remember Jonathan Smith was only in the game because Terrance Bryant was injured. Even when Derek Anderson (remember him) was being booed at home, Riley refused to bench him. If there is a single consistent criticism of Riley as a head coach it is his inability to make adjustments. His refusal to bench QBs is a reflection of that. My belief is that Matt Moore is going to have to be injured before Riley will turn the reins of this team over to Sean Canfield.

Third, should Mike Riley continue to be the head football coach at Oregon State? In the interest of full disclosure, I didn't think that Riley should have been re-hired in the first place (why is a topic for another day). But, as they say, the proof is in the pudding. Riley's teams have consistently underperformed, have had several high-profile brushes with the law (at least in Corvallis), and have had problems keeping themselves academically eligible. This coming from a coach who, when he was hired, stated that he would clean up the "thug image" that surrounded the team. I am not one who believes that Oregon State will ever become a program that is mentioned with the 'elite' programs in college football (i.e. Notre Dame, Ohio State, Florida, USC, etc.), and that is fine with me. There are many obstacles facing Oregon State from becoming an 'elite' program, the major ones being: lack of tradition, size of campus, location and weather. However, I do believe that OSU can become a program that can consistently challenge for the Pac-10 title. OSU's Athletic Director Bob De Carolis at the press conference announcing the hiring of Mike Riley stated what he was looking for in a coach was:
The ability to transition this team, because it was a good team, a team that is poised to contend for the Pac-10 Championship and the Rose Bowl. The ability to keep the momentum going for Raising Reser, which is vital to the success of this program and to continue what we’ve already started with the maximization of the student-athletes athletically, academically and in social responsibility. Those were all keys that we were looking for.

I think that history shows that Riley has not done the things that he was hired to do very well.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

City Living

Many of Adria's friends have asked her for recipes and Adria decided that the easiest way to give them the information would be to create a blog with some of the recipes that she cooks. The blog is called: Adria's Recipes and there are links to it in the sidebar. Also, if you visit the blog you may think that the drawings were done by a five-year-old. However, when I drew those pictures I didn't think that Adria would post them on the Internet.

Since the last post, Adria and I have done a couple of blog-worthy things. We participated in a wellness walk sponsored by the African American Health Coalition. Adria heard about this event at a meeting for work and we decided that it was something that we should support. Tom Potter, the mayor of Portland also attended. Before the walk, one of the teachers at the coalition's wellness house led the participants in some streching and he thanked all of the "white folks" for supporting the event. I was surprised by how many people showed up. There were even police escorts that blocked traffic so that the walkers could safely cross the street. There even was a section of the walk where we walked down the middle of Martin Luther King Blvd.

After the wellness walk, Adria and I drove to Cannon Beach to spend time with Adria's Grandpa who was up from Utah. We had a pleasant time with her Grandpa (as well as her parents and siblings) at the beach. The weather was very nice, and we were able to have some fun on the beach.

We also went down to Corvallis for a weekend to go to the wedding of two of my college classmates. Both seemed genuinely happy to be married, which was good to see. We are both happy that we were married and it is good to see our friends with a similar joy in their lives. Also while we were in Corvallis we were able to spend some time with my parents, which was nice. We hadn't seen them since before we went to Washington D.C.

Also, on the day before Labor Day while we were taking a nap, we were awoken by a demonstration that marched down the street next to our apartment building. The demonstration was "calling for rights and respect for immigrant workers and all workers." The demonstrators where chanting in Spanish which made it hard for us to understand what they were demonstrating against, although Adria thinks that they were chanting "Unity" (initally I thought they were saying "Beat L.A.")

Work is going fine. I recently started working graveyard to see what mail processing steps occur at night. So far working graveyard hasn't been too bad, but in a couple of weeks, I should have a more informed opinon on starting work at midnight.