My Photo With* the Stanley Cup

The Stanley Cup is visiting the Portland area, part of its summer PR tour (in these tough economic times, I guess even icons have to promote). Hockey’s great trophy, which was originally a decorative English punch bowl, was downtown today. It’s also visiting a couple of local ice arenas, and Captain Ron’s Sports Bar & Grill in Sherwood, where my hockey team used to drink. It’s going to all the storied places!

Anyhow, it was appearing today at Pioneer Square, at lunch. Time for a field trip to see the hallowed cup, which has been drop-kicked onto the Rideau Canal (1905), stolen (1907), forgotten in Montreal (1924), stolen again (1970), and sunk in a swimming pool (1993).

Despite (or maybe because of) its colorful history, it’s one of the most cherished prizes in sports.  Captains of hockey teams that win conference championships have a superstition of refusing to touch the conference trophy–they don’t want to jinx their chances of lifting the Cup.

Actually, its popularity extends much farther than NHL hockey teams. For decades, the two titans of Canadian beer production, Molson’s and Labatt, engaged in epic, stalemated trench warfare for market share. Then one year Labatt hit on the idea of including miniature Stanley Cups in specially marked cases of beer. In a market where a fraction of a percentage point gain in market share is big news, they scored the equivalent of a marketing hat trick. The lesson for you marketing students is that the gift-in-the-Happy-Meal model works for beer drinkers too–but only if you give them exactly the right gift.

Back to today. I could have my picture taken with the cup if I donated to charity, but by the time I arrived, the square was full of people:

I didn’t have time to wait in line. So I walked out on that cement ledge on the left, and got a little closer:

Better, but not that great. Then I talked a nice girl, who was taking a lunch break from jury duty, into taking my picture:

Sure, you could quibble, that the Cup is small, and out of focus, and 100 ft. behind me. All true. On the other hand, I paid it some respect. Unlike the dork in the red t-shirt (below) …

… who had his picture taken–but only after he’d put his stuffed purple octopus in the top.

Well, whatever. Mission accomplished, with only a slight asterisk. Oh, and Sherwood Helping Hands? I owe you a donation.

How to Improve Your Commute

I commute to work by bike two to three times a week. After a couple of years of relying on the MAX (Portland’s light-rail system) for part of the miles, this past summer I started getting adventurous, and riding the whole way. With the help of the Bike There! map, I plotted a route, refined it a couple of times, and then I was off.

While there are all kinds of advantages to riding to work (fitness, happiness, saving money on gas, polluting less), I brought my camera along last week to show the two best parts.

Looking west

This is the Oregon Electric Railroad Right of Way Path, a 1.2 jaunt between a rec center and a street. It runs between properties, goes past a park and a golf club, and is just freakin’ gorgeous.

A bridge on the path

A bridge on the path

There are some nice roads in Portland, but I defy you to find something nicer than this on your way to or from work. But wait—there’s more! After about four miles of riding along with cars, I drop down to the river, and last week this is what I saw:

Bike path along the Willamette River, looking north

Bike path along the Willamette River, looking north

A little foggy that morning, but you get the general idea. That’s Hardtack Island on the right. A little farther up the path (I was headed north), I turned around and took a photo of the view looking south:

And a little farther still, I couldn’t resist this shot:

It’s not all that beautiful, of course. But it’s worth asking yourself whether you’d like to see something like this (above), or something like that (below):

The Marquam Bridge in Portland

The Marquam Bridge in Portland. Photo credit: Auraleius, via flickr

Park(ing) Day 2008 in Portland, Oregon

Friday, Sept. 19 was Park(ing) Day, a one-day global event to transform parking spaces into temporary public parks (it’s also a benefit for the Trust for Public Land). The company I work for sponsored a spot in downtown Portland, and I rode my bike over there and took photos.

(I took this one by standing on a garbage can. It was a little sketchy.)

Not only was this a cool place to hang out, a lot of good things happened. First, while riding my bike from our office to the spot, I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen for a while, and we spent some time chatting. Second, I got to know some of my co-workers better. Third, while I was there I got a free half-sandwich and some Gelato. Fourth, one of my co-workers ran into someone else they knew, who invited us to a show that night. And fifth, our company’s spot was right next to the Bikini Coffee Company, a somewhat pointless detail, but certain male members of our staff found it interesting.

Now I ask you: would any of that happened if I had driven and used that spot to park my car?

Nope.