Thursday, March 22, 2012

Reed College---Nuclear Reactor?

In my on-going qwest to do different things in Portland, this evening I went to Reed College....specifically to see the nuclear reactor.  Yes, Reed College has a real nuclear reactor with uranium rods and all that.  I don't think I knew about it, but it seems like Howard (who loved Reed) must have told me at some point.  I couldn't take pictures, so the picture abive is a picture of a postcard we were given.  

It was very interesting, and I felt totally safe.  While there, we got 0.0 exposure to radioactivity, so that was reassuring.  They mostly do experiments to find out the basic composition of things....I mean down to the atomic cell structure.   In the world of nuclear reactors, it is very small and we learned it would be virtually impossible to have an uncontrolled reaction there.  In fact, we got a demonstration of how quickly it could be shut down in an emergency, and it was about 7 seconds!  The whole operation is very interesting, and the "blue glow" you see above was, indeed, something never to forget.  I was standing where I could see the scene portrayed.  Too complicated for me to actually comprehend....much less to explain!!!!

I also got a quick tour around the Reed campus.  The days are longer now, but not quite long enough to take pictures of the campus.  It  was getting too dark.   I went with a Meetup group called "Uniquely Portland," led by a great guy, Tom.  It was a memorable experience.   

By the way, the periodic tables have changed a lot since I was in Chemistry 101.  They have so much more information on them for each element!!!  What we know about our world is expanding....and that will continue.  The young people I met today will make sure of that!  Very inquisitive, creative and imaginative!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Port of Portland

My travels today took me on a tour of Terminal 6 at the Port of Portland.  The picture above shows shipping containers stacked four high in the yards of T-6.  We rode around the port facilities on a bus.  It was a little disappointing not to get out of the bus, but we did get to go under the huge cranes they use to unload these containers. It seems that all the cargo coming into T-6 is either in containers or is automobiles.  The Ccontainers are standardized, but each company that uses them owns their own containers and the chasses (plural of chassis) that are hooked up to truck cabs. The different colors of the containers indicate the company that owns them.

There wasn't much port activity because it was a Saturday and because no ships were coming in, but it was still very interesting.  There was a lot of security and it seems you can only see it as part of a tour.  I went with a Meetup Group called Uniquely Portland.  It was my first activity with that group.

I also made a new friend, Andy.  He and I paired up for car-pooling.  He is a young man who has just been in Portland for a few months, having moved here from Germany.  His English is great, and it was fun to have company for the ride.

Friday, March 9, 2012


Today, my travels took me to North Portland's Mississippi Avenue to see Mary's band, Succotash, and eat pizza with some friends.  The band was great, the food tasty, and the company fun.  Mary is on the right in the picture.  Her bandmates are Allison and Joe.  More information about the band can be found at

It was especially nice because today would have been Howard's 84th birthday.  With a "tear in my eye" and love in my heart, I enjoyed hearing the band sing "Good Night Irene" in honor of Mary's dad and my beloved late husband, Howard.  Lots of other good music, too, but that was special!

Mississippi Avenue is a fun neighborhood.  I saw lots of other restaurants, some nice shops, and a huge recycling center where you can take stuff you don't want and buy stuff you do--mostly for home remodeling.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


I had a big treat today when I went to see the Tony-award winning play about Mark Rothko, Red.  There are only two characters in this play---Mark Rothko and a fictional assistant, Ken.  The dialogue deals with the big issues about such as why an artist makes art, why Rothko worked big, the meaning of color, and the "life" of the painting once the artist brings it into existence. There really were more issues, but this is a blog--not an I share with you the ones I thought about on the way home.

Rothko has Portland roots because he emigrated here from Russia when he was 10.  He went to high school here and studied art at the Museum School, which is now the Pacific Northwest College of Art.  His first exhibit was at the Portland Art Museum PAM).  I give them credit for knowing his work was important, even then.  PAM has survey show going on now.  I am organizing a group for docent-led tour.  

The time frame of the play is the 60s when Rothko was working on a series (which he called murals) of paintings for the Four Seasons Restaurant in New York.  Eventually, Rothko withdrew the pieces from the restaurant and returned the commission.  

I felt privileged to see this thought-provoking play.  Although Rothko is someone I may not have wanted to know personally, I never tire of looking at (and being with) his huge confrontive, and yet also comforting, works of art.  They do seem to have their own presence.  The viewer is almost forced to interact with them rather than just looking at them.

As a performance, the play has some unique elements.  Ken actually stretches a huge canvas and he and Rothko give it a base coat of red---of course!  It was a powerful demonstration.

I'm glad I went.