Real Blogs Never Die

I have been a horrible blogger for the past few years.  What started out as a project of significance back in 2006 has evaporated over the years into a scant post here and a random announcement there.  While there are a myriad of reasons why I stopped blogging (mostly lazyness), I am being reminded of the fact that, while one might stop posting to their blog, if it’s still “out there” than people can still “find it”.  That said, a very interesting thing has been happening in the comment section of one of my early ghost town posts that I am not sure how to respond to.  If you followed my blog back in the day you probably should check it out:

Sitting with Ghosts, day II (originally posted June 1, 2006)

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#1 in the #2 business

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Hi (nose / ears)

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Paddling the Hanford Reach with Columbia River Keeper

I was recently invited to tag along as an artist-in-residence/photographer for the Columbia River Keeper’s annual kayak/paddle trip down the Hanford Reach of the Columbia River.  The Reach is the river’s last remaining stretch of free-flowing current and runs right by the decommissioned Hanford Nuclear Reservation– a WWII/Cold War reactor where plutonium for most of the United States’ nuclear arsenal was processed.  It is a wild, strange place to say the least.

CRK Conservation Director Dan Serres preps us before our voyage

“In January 1943, Hanford was chosen as a site for the government’s top-secret Manhattan Project. The mission was to produce plutonium for the nuclear bomb. It was selected because of its remoteness, its abundant water for reactor cooling, and its plentiful electricity from hydroelectric dams. In the spring of 1943, 1,200 residents were evacuated from the towns of Hanford, White Bluffs, and Richland. Access was denied to Native Americans who had historically used the lands for hunting, food gathering and religious purposes. The world’s first three plutonium production reactors were quickly built with a work force of 51,000. Just 27 months after construction started, Hanford-produced plutonium provided the explosive charge for the world’s first nuclear detonation in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Not long after, the Nagasaki bomb was powered by concentrated plutonium manufactured at Hanford.”

“Government demand for plutonium continued, and by 1964, nine plutonium production reactors were operating at Hanford discharging their deadly wastes directly into the Columbia River. Chemical and radioactive discharges contaminated the soil, water and air with little care for containment and little knowledge of the dangers of the wastes being produced. At least once, radioactive materials were discharged into the air for pur-poses of experimentation on the American public. In 1949, the famous Green Run released over 5,500 curies of iodine-131 in one day, as well as other fission products (by comparison, Three Mile Island released 15-24 curies). With the help of the wind, these dangerous radioactive particles were distributed over much of Washington and Oregon. In the year 1945 alone, 340,000 curies of iodine-131 were emitted to the air from Hanford. Today, the government is studying the link between thyroid disease and some of these releases.”

“The Columbia River received much larger amounts of radionuclides. In 1954 alone, it was estimated almost 3 million curies (2,913,000) were released into the Columbia. (Doc.#HW32809). Large releases to the River continued for more than thirty years, According to the Hanford Environmental Dose Reconstruction Project (HEDR), 66 million curies of radiation were released to the river. Discharges from waste sites to the groundwater continue today.”

   there are 5 river front reactors along the reach, all in different stages of shut-down

“Today, the official mission at the Hanford site is environmental restoration. It is called clean-up, but the word is misleading. The best we can hope for is to contain most of the deadly wastes from this massively contaminated site, preventing them from further contaminating the Columbia River. What is being termed “clean-up” is an overwhelmingly difficult job that will take an estimated one hundred billion taxpayer dollars and more than 30 years to accomplish. Columbia Riverkeeper (CRK) has been monitoring cleanup activities at Hanford since 1989 and has seen hopeful changes as a result of public participation and an incorporation of public values. To protect the future of the Columbia River we need your help! The first step is to become knowledgeable.”

Ironically, the secrecy (and later worry of contamination) of the Hanford Nuclear Site has preserved thousands of acres for fish and wildlife and protected some of the most beautiful landscapes in the Northwest from development.  It is confusing to observe an area so visually stunning that is also so polluted- it challenges one’s understanding and reminds us how independent our various senses of perception are from each other…  poisonous beauty.

Hats off to CRK for their fight to clean-up and protect the Columbia River, and a big thanks for inviting me to tag along.

(quoted text if from the CRK website)

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Wildlife of the Desert

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Free (Jupiter)

Vessel’s Details:
Ship Type: Cargo
Year Built: 2002
Length x Breadth: 188 m X 31 m
DeadWeight: 47777 t
Speed recorded (Max / Average): 12.7 / 10.4 knots
Flag: Liberia [LR]
Call Sign: A8UM6
IMO: 9264037, MMSI: 636014521
Last Position Received
Area: Pacific North
Latitude / Longitude: 45.53582˚ / -122.6762˚ (Map)
Currently in Port: PORTLAND OR
Last Known Port: PORTLAND OR
Info Received: 0d 0h 2min 10s ago
Current Vessel’s Track
Itineraries History
Voyage Related Info (Last Received)
Draught: 11.8 m
ETA: 2011-03-11 12:00
Info Received: 2011-03-16 17:48 (0d, 0h 16min 3s ago)

follow the Free Jupiter’s travels here

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The Great Northwest

I have a new project that I am very excited about called “The Great Northwest.”  A few years ago I found an amazing scrap-book that was made by four middle-aged single women from Seattle who went on an epic road-trip through the Pacific Northwest in 1958. They drove over 3,200 miles, through Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Oregon, taking photos and collecting postcards, brochures, menus, receipts, and all sorts of ephemera- all of which they carefully arranged in this scrap book at the completion of their journey.

“The Great Northwest” is a 76 minute experimental documentary and photo-series that chronicles my attempt at re-creating their road-trip.  I spent over a month on the road, following their route as closely as possible, and attempted to find and document every stop that they had documented. Here is a short excerpt that follows the women’s adventures in Yellowstone National Park.

There have obviously been many big changes since the ladies made their road trip, but at the same time much seems relatively intact. The most obvious and immediate change to have hit the natural landscape is the addition of the Interstate Highway System, as I-90, I-84, and I-5 have essentially carved out three new massive rivers through the region. Urban centers such as Seattle, Portland, and Spokane have sprouted sky-scrappers and hefty suburban growth, while other towns such as Vantage and Taft no longer exist at all; one being flooded by Columbia River damming and the other paved over by Interstate 90. But while many towns have experienced massive change, carefully preserved towns such as Wallace, Idaho, and steadfast tourist attractions such as the Oregon Coast’s Sea Lion Caves seem almost stuck in time except for perhaps a few new layers of paint.

This was a really fun project to work on. If nothing else it broadened my understanding of this region and made me ever more proud to call the Pacific Northwest home. My hope is that I have helped preserve and expand upon an important historical document. The scrapbook is a time capsule- it is evidence of memories that remind us how fragile history is. I think my ultimate ‘dream’ with this project would be to have someone re-recreate it in another 50 years.

I am often asked if I ever found the women who originally made the scrap-book, and I have to admit that I did a bit of looking around, but after finding death records for two of them I decided it was better to just leave it be. The scrapbook is full of mystery, and not all of it needs to be solved.

The Great Northwest will be on display in Portland at the Elizabeth Leach Gallery through April 2nd. The Project was made possible by generous grants from The Regional Arts and Culture Council and the Oregon Media Arts Fellowship. More info about the project can also be found on my website at

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notes from Sao Paulo

“lost love? bring your love back like a bee to honey!  you pay after you get results!”

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this goofy thing we made

I made this funny little video with Bryan Boyce a couple weeks ago and since then it’s been making some rounds on the internetJames Mercer plays the “stunt-mouth.”  (no members of Hall and Oates or Broken Bells were harmed in the making of this video)

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