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EW! A Blog.

March 16, 2009 12:10 PM

Cargo bikes are in.

Revolution Cycles in Whiteaker has started to sell this stable Madsen from Utah featuring a big, low-slung cargo tub and a 600-lbs. capacity (click images for links):

The non-profit Center for Appropriate Transportation (CAT) is offereing classes to build this sturdy hauling trailer:



CAT’s Human Powered Machine shop also locally builds a number of cargo bikes including this popular model:

Many bike stores in town have been selling the increasingly popular Californian XtraCycles:

Then of course, Burley has been building cargo trailers in Eugene for three decades:

What’s next for Eugene? Maybe something like this from the nirvana of bike commuting, Copenhagen, Denmark:

Seen any other cool cargo bikes around town?

March 16, 2009 11:06 AM

The Twitternets is all aflutter this morning about the now-formerly-known-as-Sci-Fi-Channel's bit of thickheaded rebranding:

Building on 16 years of water-cooler programming and soaring ratings growth following its most-watched year ever, SCI FI Channel is evolving into Syfy, beginning this summer, Dave Howe, president, SCI FI, announced today.

By changing the name to Syfy, which remains phonetically identical, the new brand broadens perceptions and embraces a wider range of current and future imagination-based entertainment beyond just the traditional sci-fi genre, including fantasy, supernatural, paranormal, reality, mystery, action and adventure. It also positions the brand for future growth by creating an ownable trademark that can travel easily with consumers across new media and nonlinear digital platforms, new international channels and extend into new business ventures.

That last sentence is the only bit of this that makes a lick of sense. Pretending that being the Sci Fi Channel (sorry, SCI FI! I do not like to yell in all caps!) limits you from airing "fantasy, supernatural, paranormal, reality, mystery, action and adventure" programming is just making excuses. What this comes across as — and I'm hardly the first person to point this out — is "Hi! We're distancing ourselves from that crazy science fiction, 'cause it's for nerds/geeks/crazed fanboys who never leave the house/take your pick of clichés!"

If it's all about a trademark thing, though, then fine. FINE. I can even get halfway to forgiving the post for referring to both "the mainstream appeal of the world's biggest entertainment category" — without really clarifying what it means by that; TV? "Scantily clad women?" Suzi suggests — and "the generic entertainment category 'sci-fi,'" only because they're talking about trademarking. (Though the idea that their new name is "broadening perceptions," as opposed to "broadening viewer skepticism toward the wisdom of the network's choices," is almost enough to make me snort coffee.)

But the simple fact is, whatever the reason, be it corporate grabby hands or nerd distancing tactics, the new name is stupid. Stupid enough that it goes quite well, really, with such wonderful TV movie titles as Ice Spiders and Sharks in Venice. Oh, formerly-known-as-Sci-Fi-Channel, you've always been so wonderfully literal. Why go wonky with "creative" spelling now?

(Possibly my favorite Twitter response: "I like that 'SyFy' are spelling phonetically to a group that can usually explain the main theoretical barriers to warp speed technology!")

EDIT: OK, I somehow missed this gem of an article before — in which one Tim Brooks, TV historian, actually says:

“The name Sci Fi has been associated with geeks and dysfunctional, antisocial boys in their basements with video games and stuff like that, as opposed to the general public and the female audience in particular."

We're still having this conversation? The women-don't-like [insert "geeky" thing here] conversation? Really?

But hey. That Dave Howe fella says "SyFy" makes them feel "much cooler, much more cutting-edge, much more hip, which was kind of bang-on what we wanted to achieve communication-wise." I know I feel cooler every time I see the word I will never pronounce any way but "Siffy." Don't you?

March 14, 2009 09:23 PM

Let’s see if we got this right.

The UO’s new President will make a half million a year.

The UO’s new athletic director will make at least another half million.

The UO’s new football coach will make $3 million.

That adds up to $4 million a year for the three positions.

Due to a supposed lack of money, the UO is hitting in-state students with an extra $150 and out of state students with an extra $300 in fees Spring semester.

Those extra student fees ad up to about $4 million squeezed out of students and their families struggling in the down economy. Funny how math at the University of Oregon works out.

March 13, 2009 01:05 PM

Check out this artsy video of Eugene's funky bike culture:

See anyone you know?

March 13, 2009 10:43 AM

Twenty-one Roosevelt Middle School students biked to school today to save the world and perhaps win a prize, according to Freiker.

What’s Freiker? Freiker (short for frequent biker) is a growing program started in Boulder, Colorado that rewards kids with iPods and other prizes for biking to schools. Kids put a RFID sticker (like in the library) on their bike helmets and pass under a solar powered scanner that counts their bike trips and sends the data to the Freiker.org website.

Frequent bikers get a prize from program sponsors, but the big prize is healthier kids, more livable cities and less global warming. Freiker has counted 105,000 rides since 2005.

March 13, 2009 04:38 PM

After the closure of the county’s armory warming shelter, the homeless have few choices but the county jail now.

Eugene Acting Police Chief Pete Kerns told the City Club last month that arrest and the jail is where “many” homeless mentally ill people wind up. “It’s a dry warm place where they can get warm meals and some treatment,” he said.

But instead of calling for a homeless shelter to properly treat such victims of mental illness, Kerns called for an increase in the size of the jail by up to 20 fold. The 1,600 bed jail Kerns envisions would cost $160 million to build and $50 million a year to operate, far more than a homeless shelter.

Meanwhile, Eugene police continue to take enforcement actions against human beings for the “crime” of homelessness.

According to a staff memo this week, the city code only permits being homeless under certain prescribed conditions:

“Eugene Code 4.816 allows up to three vehicles to camp on vacant, industrial, commercial, religious or public property with the owner’s permission if standards such as sanitation are met. In addition, one vehicle can camp in the driveway of a single family residence or in the backyard in a tent if the same standards are met. EC 4.815 allows limited camping on public streets.”

The memo states: “Because of the worsening economy and unemployment, the number of homeless people has increased by a third compared to last year.” And the homeless, or homeless “crime” problem as the city may see it, is only getting worse: “Despite the economy, rental vacancy rates remain low and rental rates remain high in our community. We expect an increase in complaints….”

March 13, 2009 02:55 PM

Remember all the hype last fall in The Register-Guard and local TV news that crime downtown was frightening people away from the Eugene public library?

Library visits were up 21 percent last year, the largest increase in five years, according to the library’s recent annual report.

Here’s a shot of the relevant table and other indicators of increasing library use from the report:

The scary library hype was part of a successful campaign to pass an exclusion ordinance by exaggerating crime downtown, which police statistics show was in reality declining. The exclusion zone allows the city to ban people from downtown without a criminal conviction and was opposed by civil liberties groups.

March 13, 2009 09:42 AM

The big federal stimulus is trickling down to a big local disappointment.

"Eugene has a list of over $200 million in 'ready to go' projects that fit the stimulus criteria,” Mayor Kitty Piercy said in her state of the city speech in January. “We expect these projects, if funded, could create 4,404 well-paying jobs by the end of next year--with an emphasis on green industry."

But two months later, after getting largely stiffed on stimulus by the state and Metropolitan Policy Committee, the city is looking at a total of only $5.4 million in direct stimulus creating an estimated 54 jobs.

With local unemployment at 11.9 percent, 54 jobs is only two-tenths of one percent of the 22,351 jobless people in Lane County, according to state data. The Lane Council of Governments (LCOG) estimates that each $100,000 in federal stimulus creates one job.

Other money from the $787 billion federal stimulus will go directly to other local agencies. LTD will get $6.5 million, for example. But LTD General Manager Mark Pangborn said the bus agency will not use the money for new jobs but rather to prevent layoffs of existing workers. Even with the stimulus, he said, LTD will cut services 3 percent.

Even after factoring in expected federal stimulus funds, Eugene’s 4J school district is looking at teacher layoffs to cover a $10 million deficit. Of course, without the stimulus 4J would have had to lay off even more teachers.

March 12, 2009 01:30 PM

Eugene will get half as much federal stimulus money per citizen as Springfield under an allocation approved unanimously today by the Metropolitan Policy Committee.

Eugene will get $3 million for road preservation projects while Springfield will get $1.7 million. The money will create an estimated 30 jobs in Eugene and 17 in Springfield.

Portland allocated about one-third of its federal stimulus money to bike, pedestrian and transit projects to fight global warming. But the local MPC gave only 4 percent of the $6.6 million of stimulus money it controlled to the green transportation category.

For more information on state and local stimulus spending, see the EW story this week.

March 11, 2009 03:44 PM

Sad news for Bijou fans: Boo, the enormous, ever-present theater cat, died this weekend. "She would have been 23 on the 17th," says Joe Lewis, whose exact job I am unsure of but who, as far as I can tell, is the Bijou's general does-everything-what-needs-doing kind of guy (the R-G last referred to him as the "administrative assistant," but that sounds less fun). "She'd had kidney disease for several years, and it got better and got worse, but it was progressing." They took her to the vet on Sunday night, when, Lewis says, she was ready to go after having a hard time the last few weeks.

Lewis says Boo had been at the Bijou for 11 years. Last year, there was talk about finding her a new home, as she was disturbing the building's other tenants when the theater was closed, but she stayed with the Bijou until the end. As for whether or not the theater will get another cat, he says, "I'd rather take a little bit of a break," and notes that Boo's lack of interest in escape probably kept her around, and safe, longer than most cats. "A lot of cats have wanderlust. She was kind of one in a million."

That's the truth. Bye, Boo! I'll miss your cranky yowls when I'd walk in for noon screenings, and the rumbling purr that even the smallest of ear-skritches could conjure up. I'n not looking forward to the first time I go to the Bijou and there's no complaining — but sweet — kitty on her own particular chair.


Image provided by the Bijou.

March 10, 2009 11:58 AM

Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy, the state and the Oregon Toxics Alliance have planed a town hall meeting on the planned gypsy moth spraying over a large swath of south Eugene.

Here’s the press release:

Mayor Piercy Co-Sponsors Town Hall on Gypsy Moth Spraying

Panel Members Will Provide Information and Respond to Questions, Comments from the Public

Thursday, March 12, 2009
7:00-9:00 p.m.
Eugene City Council Chamber, 777 Pearl Street

Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy is co-sponsoring a public town hall to help provide information to Eugene residents regarding the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s (ODA) proposal to spray an area in SE Eugene to control gypsy moths. Other town hall co-sponsors are the Oregon Toxics Alliance (OTA) and the Southeast Neighbors neighborhood association.

The town hall will include a panel of expert speakers and time for questions and public comment. The panel will include and Dan Hilburn, ODA, and Lisa Arkin, executive director, OTA, as well as other biological and environmental specialists.

ODA’s public comment period on the planned spray to eradicate the gypsy moth ends on Friday, March 13.

For more information on the gypsy moth:
www.oregontoxics.org
www.oregon.gov/ODA/PLANT/IPPM/gm_eugene_eradication09.shtml

Comments and questions may also be directed to:
Helmuth W. Rogg
Oregon Dept. of Agriculture, Plant Division
1-800-525-0137; Fax: (503) 986-4786
gypsymoth@oda.state.or.us

March 10, 2009 08:51 AM

News of a whale washing up on the beach at Devil's Elbow has given the media an excuse to talk about video of ODOT mistakenly blowing up a previous whale. So...here's the old video, seen 1.3 million times on YouTube:

Now, if only the brilliant engineers at ODOT could learn from their other stinking mistakes and take a new approach to global warming.

March 9, 2009 07:29 PM

The Eugene City Council voted unanimously to consider delaying the imposition of pending street assessments to look for a fairer way to finance the projects.

March 9, 2009 06:39 PM

The Eugene City Council voted unanimously to send the recommendations of a subcommittee on the Police Auditor to a public hearing.