A Guide to Getting Gas in Oregon


Oregon and New Jersey are the only states where drivers cannot pump their own gas. Can NOT, as in it is actually against the law, for those who didn’t quite understand it. In the short time I’ve had on this realm, I’ve held the job of “gas station attendant,” or fueler of cars, trucks, motorcycles and the lowly gas can at two points in my life, now being the second. I get paid a meager salary to do what others do ordinarily in 48 other states, and am completely aware of this fact. HOWEVER. There are laws, and there are things that you need to know, should you ever roll into my lot in need of petroleum product.

After some careful thinking, I’ve decided to  break these down into Do’s and Don’ts, as are universally accepted by all attendants, but I’d first like to include one particular to my station. You see, we’re the cheapest gas in Portland- pretty much hard to beat prices across the board. That means we get a lot of business. And that means Busy-Ness. Sometimes I will be out there, servicing the 8 pumps we have, across two islands, and dealing with various peccadilloes such as feisty car tanks, the aforementioned cans, and credit card wonkiness that can have me tied up in place for a moment or two. Please be patient, and wait it out.

So then, DO:

-Roll down your window, get off your phone, and turn your music down. I need to hear you speak when you place your fuel order.
-Pop open your fuel door, if you have one.
– Know your zip code if you’re using a credit or debit card.
-Tell me whether you’re paying by cash or card.- Inform me if you’re paying with a large cash bill, like a 50 or 100, before I start fueling.
-Ask for a cash receipt BEFORE I change your money.

Finally in the DO column, know what side your gas tank is on, because most stations won’t pull their hoses around your car to reach it. If you’re in a new, borrowed, or rented vehicle -and it’s relatively new- check the fuel gauge. You’ll probably see a little arrow pointing left/right which will clue you in.

And now for the DON’T:

-Touch the pumps. It’s against the law, and it’s against some station’s policies even if you’re getting diesel.
-Get out of your vehicle and “supervise” the fueling. This is almost always done by men, and frankly, it almost always leads to the above.
-Ask me to put refined petroleum into anything other than an approved gas can. They usually come in red.
-Pull in to a slot facing another car. This will almost always result with negative consequences.
-Pay me in coins, unless you are getting less than $5.00 worth of gas.
– Ask me to round up, or “top off” your fill. Not only is it bad for the environment and the health of everyone, the new-fangled pumps actually suck a good portion of that excess back into the hose, so you’re not getting what you’re paying for.
-Park your vehicle at a pump, and go into the store before I get your order. Because then it takes twice as long to get your butt off the lot, doesn’t it?
– Pull in too close to the pumps. My hose has a reach of about six feet. Give me room to work.
-Pull in too far away from the pumps. Many people make the mistake of stopping when the pump display is at their window. That’s awesome for you, but not so much for the actual dispensation process when your tank is six feet away. Sure, I may be able to reach it, but your fuel door might get bent.
– Get impatient, loiter, or cause friction with other customers.
– Frown

And finally, the percentage of you out there who have locking gas caps, why must you have a plethora of other keys and assorted fobs? It really, really sucks for us.

Happy trails, and have an awesome trip to the pumps next time you’re in my Portland woods.

Happy Birthday, Hubble Telescope


The Rose. Image: NASA/ESA/STScI/AURA

April 24 marks the 21st anniversary of the orbiting of the Hubble telescope, deployed by space shuttle Discovery. After some false starts and costly repairs, it proved to be one of our greatest tools for peering into the cosmos. To commemorate the landmark achievement, NASA has released this image of two galaxies in the Andromeda constellation that swirl together, seemingly in the shape of a rose. Their boring, official name is Arp 273.

Saturn Fly-By


(Vimeo Link)

Back in grade school, I once got in trouble with my teacher for goofing around during class, and as punishment I was to copy an article out of the encyclopedia. I ended up choosing Saturn for my chore, and have considered it my favorite non-Earth planet ever since. That’s why I’m agape at this CS5 rendering of available photographs taken by the Cassini spacecraft, launched by NASA to study our ringed neighbor; the project is called “Outside In” and Vimeo user stephen V2 explains it best in a comment at the link:

What I’ve done (since this is an art film) is take the photograph… and create a flythrough using many other images Cassini has taken. It’s kind of the only way to do it – necessity is the mother of invention here – if you only want to use real photographs.

Note: this was not done using CGI or 3D effects. It really is representative of what it’s like to be the Cassini spacecraft.

Link to the photograph.

The song is the lovely, ubiquitous “Adiago for Strings” by Samuel Barber.  | via kottke.org

The Revolution Will Be Indiana Jones-ified


Is Wikipedia About to Charge/Change?


In this Appeal from Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, it seems the Wiki sources are up against that ancient threat we all have to face: funding. Apparently, the situation is this… Mucho dinero via contributions from the general user public, or advertisements may soon be a part of the Wikimedia experience. Or users will have to pay.

I’m placing my bets on the ads.

Tower Climb Imminent


Well, it seems as though I won’t have to wait until February to climb the 75′ tower, after all. In fact, my class was told yesterday that we will be doing our climbs on Monday. In this segment from a local news team, the school’s coordinator/HMIC, Mike Merrick, explains everything that will be involved.

There’s not much to it. Two fall protection configurations, and up you go. The reporter has some really appropriate boots for the task.

Amped Up in Electrical Class


My class (great group) is finishing electrical training tomorrow with our written and practical finals. It’s been a long four weeks trying to cram all this knowledge into 16 heads. But we’ve maintained our sense of humor, as illustrated below by Tim- the class clown. If you look closely, you’ll see the safety glasses actually have the packaging model’s eyes inserted. This configuration has been used by at least one of my classmates to catch 40 winks during a lecture.

Our classroom is surrounded by electrical trainers, designed to simulate components of series and parallel circuits, logic circuits, and small motors. Lately the best part about the class is the view, which happens to look out on the school’s newest addition: The Tower. Students started doing test climbs this week.

I’ll definitely be posting more about this 75 ft. tall toy when I get to climb, which won’t be until February… but here’s the valiant Vancouver Fire Department drilling for the contingency of someone failing to climb down, and being in need of rescue.

Finals tomorrow, then on to Programmable Logic Controls… should be a real hoe-down.