Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Problem with Online Advertising

I started writing something up to post on Google+, but it ended up getting a little long winded.  I hadn't closed down this account yet, so I figured I'd post here.  As a result, I may just leave it up for a while longer, though I do not anticipate a regular delivery of content any more -- just random postings, in cases like this, where it would be too long to read in a social media post, but I still felt like sharing something.

Alright, so I began to get rather annoyed with a "First World Problem" last night that I think is going to need to be addressed in the near future:  web videos supported by video ads.

The problem is three-fold:

1.  There is not enough variety in the ads
I recently found a web series that I enjoyed, which had already produced 4 seasons.  I started to go back through the older shows in the series to catch up -- but there was an un-skippable ad for each of the 90+ episodes -- AND IT WAS THE SAME AD IN EACH EPISODE!  After watching about 10 of the shows, I decided it wasn't worth it.  I even started to resent the advertisement, which gave a bad impression of the advertiser, even though I realize without their support the show wouldn't be made.

2.  The video ads are too long
In that same web series, I might have kept going if the ad in question was only 15 seconds.  But it was 30 seconds, and most of the shows in the web series were between one and two minutes.  That's too much investment in watching the same ad over and over compared to the content I was trying to consume.  In Internet time, if I'm bored before I consume the data, I'm much more likely to move on, missing the content I was looking and skipping the commercial.

3.  Bandwidth restrictions are coming
I believe we're close to paying for the amount of data we consume instead of having it bundled (or at least buying it in batches).  At that point, people will be even less inclined to sit through video content that will eat through their limits more quickly.  Perhaps the same will even happen with images, and more people loading ad blocking software to keep that content from being downloaded, as well.

So what can be done so that content creators can still get support from a sponsor to create, and the sponsors can still receive a benefit from their sponsorship?  I've got a couple ideas...

People like episodic content, so break the commercials up into episodes.  Serve up the episodes in order, based on your session (so start over if a new session is created).  I'm much more inclined to sit through a 10 second ad than a 30 second ad, and I'm more inclined to stay on that tab and actually pay attention to it if it's new and builds off the previous commercial.  This is especially important if you're the only advertiser.  This addresses the first two issues, though the third may still be a concern moving forward.

Perhaps instead, the creators and sponsors need to look at Internet marketing more like celebrity marketing.  Instead of paying to put an ad on top of the content they've created, the sponsors should be paying the creators to be a spokesperson for their company.  They could put a commercial on the page, but limit it to once a session, and maybe not even on the first view.  Or it could be clickable.  Apart from that, the content creators could be called on to do commericals or appearances for the sponsor, or wear their clothes or logos, etc, much like a sports figure or entertainer.  Of course, these ads would need a place to be broadcast, so it couldn't be a universal solution (as Internet fame doesn't always translate into media recognition, so the Internet would be a more powerful place for those commercials to be broadcast).  In this case, the sponsor may be feeling like they aren't getting their value, or wouldn't be able to pay as much, but at least the ads would be less intrusive.

I don't just feels like there should be a better way to keep the sponsors, creators, and consumers all happy.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Day at the Ballpark

After getting off the train in Seattle and getting settled into my hotel (which was a bit of a hike, and it seemed all up very steep hills in both directions), I made my way to Safeco Field to watch a game between the Mariners of Seattle and the Rangers of Texas.

Safeco is a very nice field, with an interesting retracting roof that all comes from one direction (and hangs over the railroad tracks when it is opened.  When it opens, as it did just before the game, it even has a bit of a railroad feel, with giant cogs that pushed it along.  It also is right next door to Century Link Field (home of the Seahawks), sharing parking and the great location near the water.  Of course, that makes parking a bit less convenient, but that didn't matter much since I took the train and walked, anyway.

Inside, there were many options for unique foods, but I ended up just trying the chicken tenders, since that is what most of the people in our section seemed to be getting.  There was also a fish fry, sushi (selling the Ichiroll, while Ichiro still played for them; not sure if they still sell it now), and the expected array of sausages and other stadium fair.  It also happened to be Ichiro T-Shirt night, so we had a nice XL T-shirt to sit on for extra padding.

As for the game, the Mariners won in a bit of a blowout, even though I was expecting a pitchers duel, Yu Darvish vs. Felix Hernandez.  Hernandez ended up with 12 Ks in a complete game shutout.  I was rather surprised that they kept him out there the whole game, since they won 7-0, but it was probably a good choice for the fans.  Their fun chant was every time Hernanez had two strikes on someone, they would chant, "K, K, K, K" until the pitch was delivered.

A very fun time was had at the game, and I would go again.  I will probably not make another game until football season, though, when I'm hoping to get tickets to the Packers -- Seahawks Monday night game in September.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

On the Amtrak Cascade

My train arrives over the bridge
On Saturday, July 15, I took the train from Vancouver up to Seattle for a Mariners game (vs. The Texas Rangers).  A co-worker of mine from my last job recently moved to Seattle, and we thought this would be a good opportunity to catch up and share notes about life in the Pacific Northwest.  It was also a good excuse to take the train!

I was excited taking the train. It is about a 3-hour trip, and let's me off very near the stadium.  The Cascade Line train even has WiFi for internet connectivity during the trip (although I did find that coverage was quite spotty, and slow when you were able to get connected.  They disable all video streaming, and limit any downloads to 5mb to help with the service).  It was a little disappointing, but at least it gave me more reason to look up from my tablet and enjoy the scenery. 

I was in a coach car, which actually wasn't bad.  I even got a seat with a table, since there were so few others getting on the train at Vancouver.  The seats were comfortable leather, and had a fair amount of recline.  It was a little warm on the train, and they didn't have any fans to help with air movement, but that was the only comfort complaint I had.  The scenery was what I expected -- a lot of trees, occasional water, and many views of the freeway (since I was on the eastern side of the train).  It was nice that they had a map displayed to show your progress, as well.

The food selection was okay in the food car, but it was expensive, and the hot selections were microwaved. I would definitely recommend bringing your own food to save on the expense and avoid the temptation of getting their cold hamburger (which I ordered before I realized they just popped it in, bun and all, into the microwave).

The reverse trip on Sunday morning was a bit less flexible.  Because the train originated from Seattle, there was assigned seating within the cabins (all the Vancouver passengers were put in the same car).  I was assigned a window seat at the end of the car, so the recline didn't feel nearly as comfortable (though I have no reason to believe that it didn't recline the same amount).  I definitely preferred the table seats, and would ask for one on a future trip if I was traveling with someone.  The station in Seattle was also under construction, so it was a bit more difficult than it would normally be to get into and out of the station.

That said, it was an enjoyable train ride, and I will be doing it again.  Next stop, a Vancouver-to-Vancouver trip up into Canada to test out my Enhanced Drivers License!

Vancouver, WA Amtrak Station

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Cinetopia First Impressions

With my sister coming to town for the 4th of July, I wanted to make sure to tailor their visit to the things that they would find interesting. Among other things, we crammed in visits to Powell's City of Books, Jeld-Wen Field for a Timbers game, and Voodoo Doughnuts into their brief visit (all things that I had done before, so I somewhat knew what to expect). My sister and her husband are also cinema buffs -- so from everything I had heard, I felt the need to take them to Cinetopia, a Vancouver original.

For those not familiar, Cinetopia is a small chain of three movie theaters, 2 in Vancouver, one in Beaverton. They feature very comfortable seating, all-digital high definition DLP projectors, and even a living room experience (complete with ottoman and restaurant services from your seat). At the theater we went to (the Mill Plain 8), the restaurant was named Vinetopia, and had a large selection of wines available for tasting, one ounce at a time.

I cheated a little bit and went to a movie in the grand auditorium with a 50' screens beforehand, to get a feel for the movie experience. This was a pleasant experience, although the movie itself left a bit to be desired (I'm not a Family Guy fan, but though I'd give Ted a try, anyway). The seats were comfortable, had an ample recline, the picture was large, and the most crisp I've ever seen. I even got popcorn and used their butter bar, which gave several non-standard options for your butter toppings.  They had some other selections that you don't normally see at a theater, like baked goods, at the concession stand, as well.

With my sister, however, we chose the living room experience. With this, you are able to order food up to 10 minutes before the show begins. You're given a tray for your armrest with your food, and a comfortable ottoman to raise your legs. You still have the comfortable seats, and the digital projection, so the quality was just as good. It was a little early in the day to enjoy the full wine-tasting experience, though my sister did take advantage of ordering a wine in the theater.

Pricing between the two options were rather competitive.  The evening showing and the matinee in the living room theaters were both only $11.50.  Compared to the other local cinemas, it's only $1 more for the normal showing (and about $3 more for the living room theater showing).  But, as the ad in the theater proclaims, "Why watch a movie in coach, when you can watch it in first class?"

All in all, it was quite enjoyable, and I look forward to future visits to Cinetopia -- though my next experience may be at their Vancouver Mall location, which has 80 foot screens, and at least one theater equipped with the new Dolby Atmos sound system (which makes it one of only 14 theaters in the US with this technology).

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Vancouver First Friday Game Night - July 2012

Through boardgamegeek, I found a gaming group that gets together on the first Friday of each month at a grange hall less than a mile from my house!  Even better, because of the holiday earlier in the week, they were having a potluck dinner beforehand.  Usually, they start around 7pm, and game until everyone gets tired -- but because of the addition of dinner, the festivities started at 6pm.

A little after 6pm (thanks to work), I grabbed some animal crackers, Tootsie Roll Pops, and a few games (Citadels, Bohnanza, and Elder Sign), and headed out.  I was really surprised by how close it was -- if I had a good way of transporting my games with me (or knew that I wasn't going to need any), I'd take my bike.

Once I arrived at the grange hall, I wasn't really sure where I needed to go.  Both of the obvious doors were locked...but the event was being held in the basement, so I just needed to go around the side.  Fortunately, the organizer just happened to be heading outside as I walked around the building, so I didn't have to explore too much before finding the entrance.

Inside, the grange was a very nice venue.  There was plenty of space for tables and a large kitchen for whatever purposes you needed.  They also give you the use of two refrigerators, if needed.  I'd guess that there was room for 100 people in the basement, easily, though I didn't see any signs indicating the maximum occupancy.  As it was, I think there were only 7 people in attendance when I showed (not counting myself).  The organizer was busy in the kitchen, and the other 7 were playing Hex Hex and really seemed to be having a good time.  They allowed me to interrupt their game to introduce myself and get introductions, and really seemed like a welcoming bunch.

When they finished, we ate -- they had hot dogs, nachos, lasagna, several types of chips, and fresh fruits.  There was plenty for everyone, and then we got down to business.

We separated into two tables, since we were then up to 8 players.  I was at the table playing Last Will, a fun Brewster's Millions type of game where you try to spend all your money as quickly as you can, and end with no possessions.  I didn't quite get it early on, and completely wasted my first few turns, but caught on in turn 4, and wasn't out of contention quite yet.  I finished third, 2 points away from the leaders.

Next, we consolidated to play Incan Gold, a press-your-luck type of game.  The person who brought it had replaced the Adventure/Leave cards with tokens, which I think added a lot to the game.  As is par for the course, I pressed my luck a little too much after getting a 17 card to myself, and ended up in dead last -- but could have won if greed hadn't gotten the best of me.

Afterward, we socialized for a bit, and got to know each other while weaving in discussions about the next game.  Another person showed, and they started setting up a game on the second table (I believe it was Homesteaders).  As others were deciding whether to play another game or head home, I joined the Homesteaders table...but because of the number of players left, we changed the game to  Alea Iacta Est. This poorly-named game is a dice game where certain combinations of dice can be played for different effects.  I liked it, though there were a few awkward parts of the game (specifically the Senate actions). I was only a couple points off the leader in this one, as well.

Finally, we ended with a game of Mu, a trick taking card game with multiple trumps and a fluid partnership mechanism.  It was fun, but I think it would be a lot more fun once people had played enough to develop it was, there was a lot of uncertainty of what to do during the auctions for trump.  I didn't finish well score-wise in this one, but felt like I could climb back into contention once everyone had the hang of it.

In all, it was a great evening with great people, and I'm considering this my new gaming group now.  I look forward to the next one in August, and hope that we'll be able to get together a little more often for one-off games when possible.

If you're interested in more information on this gaming group, the vangames Yahoo! Group is where most of the communications are.  

Also, I recommend you read more about the Washington State Grange.  I found it interesting as a concept for local outreach, and it is apparently well-utilized here in Washington.  Besides renting out the facility, they have monthly meetings to discuss activities in the community and sponsor a few different community activities.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Sunday Parkways June 24

On Sunday, June 24, I decided to check out a program put on by the Portland Bureau of Transportation and sponsored by Kaiser Permanente called Sunday Parkways.  This one was the North route, their oldest and longest (at 9.5 miles) route.  For this event, the city blocks off several side streets and reserves it for people walking or biking the trails.  The trail itself winds through several side streets with stops at several small parks, where you could participate in other programs, or just relax and check out the vendors at the park (which included food vendors, bike repair stations, and some booths for local projects that were just trying to get their message out).

I drove into town and parked at a Park & Ride for the TriMet (which is apparently a no-no...the park & ride is only for riders of the TriMet), and biked to one of the starting points, Kenton Park.  There was a lot going on there, though much of it was geared toward children (like a bouncy castle, an obstacle course, and a splash pad).  I checked out the vendors, like the Royal Rosarians, and then headed down the path to the next park.

I honestly don't know what the next park was, but there were a lot more bikers and vendors there.  There was even a mobile Voodoo Doughnuts truck!  They did have the Maple Bacon Bars, but they didn't have any of the Memphis Mafia doughnuts, so I passed...  Although I admit I wanted to buy a Maple Bacon Bar, I had just begun my first 10-mile bike ride, so I didn't want to tempt fate.  I did hit one of the other vendors, though, and tried a free Clif Bar and some Vitamin Water before heading out again to the next park.  

Each of the parks had its own set of activities. from breakdancing competitions to yoga to Zumba to concerts.  If you really had the energy to spend a full day doing it, there were plenty of things to do to keep it going from 10am - 4pm before they opened the side streets to traffic again.  Of course, I wasn't really prepared for all that...I was just there for the bike ride.  Next time, I will prepare a little better and try to enjoy it more.  There will be a next time...this was the second Sunday Parkways of five, each taking place in a different part of the city.  I will definitely try to make it to the last three, if I can -- it helps to get to know the city a little better, gets me some much-needed exercise, and is fun!

The last park I visited was my favorite.  They had a large rose garden in the center of a fairly large park.  This park also seemed to have the most vendors, and the most activities.  I wandered around the rose garden for a while and checked out some of the vendors here before heading back to my car.

The pace was very liesurely, with plenty of stops along the way.  Families were out walking the route, or letting their children ride it...which sometimes resulted in them swaying into the path of oncoming bike traffic...but overall, everyone was very understanding of the slower pace, and worked around the pace and skill of the other riders.

By the end, I had gotten a second wind, so I took advantage of the downhill slope back toward the Park and Ride to push myself, and got the bike up to 25mph for the first time...hopefully, I'll be able to get into good enough shape that becomes a more regular occurrance.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Father's Day Gaming Meetup at Rainy Day Games, Beaverton

Lately, I've really had a hankering to get out to a boardgaming event, so I joined the Boardgames In and Around Portland meetup group and signed up for the gaming at Rainy Day Games on Father's Day.

I got off to a little bit of a late start, but packed up a few easy-to-teach games, since there weren't many people signed up, and I wanted to have games that I'm comfortable teaching for that sort of setting.  Then I headed out to Beaverton for a day of gaming!

My first impression of the store was very positive.  It was well-lit, well-organized, and had a great selection.  I even found several copies of games that I was waiting on a reprint (Eclipse and Jaipur) to purchase.  After browsing around, I picked up a game timer and Alien Frontiers, then headed back to the gaming area.

I must admit, I was a little disappointed by the meetup.  There were two tables with board games out -- and both were playing the same game (Quarriors! Quarmageddon).  Actually, I shouldn't say they were table was playing, and the other were taking a break between games and chatting with each other. Each game had  a full four players, and it seemed they were together as friends, anyway, so I didn't feel like encroaching on their game and seeing if I could get someone else kicked out in order to try it myself.

In addition to board games, there were a couple tables set up for minitatures gaming...not really my thing, but I can appreciate the time they take in preparing the terrain and their units, so I watched the battles for a bit.

Finally, there was a table for the Dragon Dice reps.  They were very passionate about their game, and spent a good deal of time explaining how the game was played.  They volunteered to let me play a game using their dice, but I just couldn't bring myself to play...again, although collectible games and dice games are both of interest to me, the dice themselves and the pace of the game didn't really appeal to me.  I may still break out some of my older Dragon Dice to see if I can figure it out, but I'm guessing it will never hold a strong appeal for me.

Before I left the store, I spent a few minutes talking to the employees.  They indicated that they usually have around 20 attendees for their meetup (vs. 15 that were there), and the meetups happen every other week.  Since they knew I was looking to get into a game, they recommended I check with some of the regular customers (who were on the store side) to see if they wanted to game -- but  by then, I was starting to feel a bit antisocial, and decided it was a better decision to just go home.

Regardless, I'll give it a try again on a future gameday.  The store is nice enough to warrant the trip, even if I don't end up playing anything.  

Monday, June 18, 2012

MLG Anaheim Finals - PDX Barcraft

Major League Gaming (MLG) is one of the prominent professional gaming organizations in the world, and likely the most popular of these organizations in the United States.  While there have been a number of changes throughout its lifetime, in 2012, there are championships for several fighting games for PS3 and a couple real-time strategy games for the PC.  Of these, the most popular game on the tour is Starcraft 2, made by Blizzard Entertainment.

As a result, since the early Starcraft 2 tournaments two years ago, a small community of eSports fans have begun to meet in gamer-friendly bars to watch tournament matches, have a few drinks, and meet fellow gamers.  These have been dubbed "Barcraft" by the greater community -- and I finally had an opportunity to attend one!

This Barcraft was in celebration of the MLG Championships being held in Anaheim, California, on June 10.  The Starcraft 2 Finals were set to start at 1:30pm (although they did discover that was provided in Eastern Time, so we rewound and watched on a delay).  I arrived at the bar (Bistro 153) a couple minutes late, which seemed to be fashionable, since a few others joined shortly after me.  I sat at a table with a couple other gamers, and ordered some of the specialty drinks and appetizers created just for the Barcraft Event.

Eventually, we were up to about 20 attendees for the Barcraft (and another 10 or so just for the bar), making this a less successful event than they were accustomed to.  I was told there had been as many as 100 attendees at previous events, which would have definitely exceeded capacity.  A normal Barcraft event would be about twice as large.  As it was, it was very comfortable, and everyone was quite approachable.  In fact, the gaming on the screen was generally ignored in favor of conversation, with an occasional look at the screen as the announcers got excited -- and once when we noticed a sign in the crowd saying hello to PDX Barcraft!  

A nice touch to the event was that they had gaming sponsors, who were nice enough to provide T-Shirts (all sizes in Korean, so they just called them Korean medium...definitely too small for some of us), banners, inflatable hammers (really?  what did they expect would happen when you give gamers a bunch of hammers and alcohol?), and even a slick mousepad and mouse for raffles.  These were given away or raffled off throughout the event, with the more expensive prizes being saved until closer to the end of the evening.  Thank you Thermaltake eSports for sponsoring the event -- it definitely made it enjoyable.

After several hours of socializing, DRG won the championship over Alicia playing as Zerg.  The mostly-Terran crowd started to disperse after the second game of the finals, but it was worth sticking around to see.  The final game was actually started as a 6-pool (a strategy where a Zerg player only use the starting allotment of workers, in order to build your attack units earlier), which is generally not thought to be a top-level strategy, especially against Protoss.  Although the early attacks were denied, he recovered his economy and won the game and match.

I've been told that they try to have these events monthly, if they can (of course, that depends on the pro gaming schedule).  Specifically for PDX Barcraft, the best place to find the information is on their subreddit at  If you'd like to see about other Barcraft events in your area, the first place I'd start would be the subreddit  Otherwise, it looks like TeamLiquid (one of the prominent Starcraft 2 communities) has a site specifically for finding Barcraft events, as well.  There are other places that you can find online, but they're quite varied, and often not updated as frequently as they probably should be.

I had a great time at this event, and would definitely attend again in the future.  The other attendees were great, the bar was cozy, and the bartender/owner was very friendly.  I wish it were closer to home, so that I could frequent it more often.  In the meantime, I definitely got the itch to start watching Day[9] and playing Starcraft again.  Of course, that was short-lived, based on the erosion of my skills...I'll wait and allow the upcoming expansion to rekindle my desire to play more.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Ground Kontrol Free Play Night June 14

Sorry for picture quality...I had some issues with camera use tonight
In looking for things to do during the rare week that I'm in town the whole week, I found that Ground Kontrol Arcade had a free play night on Thursday, June 14.  That seemed like a good chance to get back in and try out a lot of the pinball machines that I had missed in my brief stop during my first Portland Adventure.

It was a good time.  They closed down between 3-5pm to set all the games up for free play, and reopened with an age restriction of 21+ at 5pm.  I got there a little later in the evening, though it didn't really start to get crowded until about 9:30pm.  For only a $5 cover charge, it seemed like a pretty good deal.

The DK Dessert Dog
I played a couple of the Tron games and a lot of Pinball (even scored a billion points for the first time, on the Mars Attacks game), and tried out some of their unique appetizers.  I have to say that the DK Dessert Dog (a banana with peanut butter, bacon, and honey on a hot dog bun) is as bad as it sounds (the texture was just off), but the King Hippo (basically a grilled cheese on flatbread with bacon and jalapeno) was actually pretty good.  Unfortunately, because the tables all glowed from underneath, I wasn't able to get good pictures.

All in all, it was definitely worth the $5 cover charge, and I would go to future events there.  In addition to the free play evenings, they have comedy shows, gaming trivia challenges, karaoke, and guest DJs sprinkled in to keep things interesting.

The only down side to my evening was an education problem.  Because I stayed downtown so long, I ended up missing the last train back to the park and ride that I stopped at, and had to walk a few miles at almost midnight.  It was good exercise, the weather cooperated, and I never felt like I was in a bad part of town...but for a work night, it definitely extended the evening longer than I had hoped.  The schedule has been noted, and I definitely won't be making that mistake again.  I've even gotten a pointer on a better park and ride for future trips, just in case.

Grand Floral Parade - June 2012

The weekend of June 9, I made my way back into Portland to check out the Rose Festival.  This is an annual event that, if you go to the website, has many different components.  I initially had big plans to check out as much of it as possible, so I signed up for the Grand Floral Walk and headed down to the Riverfront early to get my participant number and a goodie bag (you got a T-shirt, a bag, and a pin, and there were vendors giving away other assorted goodies -- I picked up a balloon and a yo-yo for entertainment purposes along the way), and then headed to the start line.

The walkers have gathered

We started at in the Rose Quarter, and walked through the Rose Center Arena.  Of course, that meant that we had to give up our balloons, due to ventilation concerns, before we got started, but they gave them back on the other side.  Still, it was a very interesting entrance -- I knew that we were going to be walking along the parade route, but I didn't realize that the route would already be populated with people waiting for the actual parade!

Fortunately, the parade announcers and the parade-watchers were very supportive, and clapped and waved for us as we walked along the route.  Some people who had obviously done this before had bags full of candy to throw out to the children in the audience, and there were a few local celebrities (like mascots for the Trailblazers and Ducks, local politicians, and even a couple of the players from the Trailblazers) to make it interesting for the people in the audience.

The walk itself was four miles, and was done at an extremely liesurely pace.  When we reached the end, they gave us some water and some snacks -- and great seats for viewing the parade at the end of the route!

The Grand Floral Parade is in its 100th year this year, and the theme was Rock and Roses.  As you can imagine, that meant a lot of the floats were based on floral arrangements and/or were influenced by 50s rockabilly themes.  

The Spirit Mountain Casino float was first, since they were the largest sponsor.

There were a lot of smaller vehicles decked out in floral arrangments

Some Mrs. Rodeo winners from the area

The Rose Parade Queen

This one is for my sister-in-law, who teaches twirling to the younger generations.  Show them this to show that they'll be using their skills forever!
4-time Iditarod champion Martin Buser...

...and his sled dog team

Alaska Airlines float, sponsor of the sled dog teams, as well.

I could not imagine riding that little bike the whole 4 miles of the parade route.

The first double-decker bus in the city

I always liked the look of the Union Pacific trains, even the mini versions.

Packy was the Grand Marshall, but wasn't able to attend in person due to health concerns

Packy was an elepahant born in the Oregon Zoo

Even the Red Baron attended

As you can imagine, the Royal Rosarians had a very rose-centric float.

There were representatives from all of Portland's sister cities across the world

Some of the sister cities even sent their own representatives
One sister city sent their high school marching band.
I didn't even think that they'd have different instruments in their band.

The parade itself took two hours.  By that time, I was fairly exhausted, but I still wanted to check out the rest of the goings on.  There were two things by the water that I wanted to see.  Part of the Rose Festival  was Fleet Week, which brings a few large boats from the Coast Guard, US Navy, and Royal Canadian Fleet up the river, and allows you to get a free tour of the boats.  The other was Dragon Boat Races, which sounded like fun, but would have been coming to an end by the time I got there, so I didn't even try.

I did make it down to the river to see the Fleet Week boats.  However, the lines were fairly long, and I was really starting to feel like I needed to go home, so I elected not to take the tours.  Incidentally, I did hear a bunch of people talking about the boats, and it isn't as popular with the locals as I would have thought.  Apparently, the large boats coming inland really affects traffic, since the Willamette has several drawbridges that made crossing the river difficult.  Likewise, additional security and crowds in the area made it difficult to get around.  It wasn't bad for me, but I definitely heard my fair share of grumbling from the locals.

All in all, it was an enjoyable day, and I got a decent amount of exercise.  The weather really cooperated, with the sun poking out, but the temperature staying cool enough that I didn't overheat during the walk.  I am really looking forward to the summer now, to see what other interesting events like this I may be able to find.