Oregon Coast

Oregon’s Coast

Oregon Coast
Originally uploaded by anneh632

Oregon!   It’s about time to do a website and blog dedicated to my favorite state, Oregon, and there is no better place to start than with a series of posts about the Oregon Coast.    The blog will have some of the most frequently updated insider travel content in the state, and I’m hoping to get some of the photographers and fellow Oregonians (or other travel friends) to add posts and comments.

I’ll start with my profile of the Oregon Coast, Oregon’s most globally recognized feature and arguably the USA’s most beautiful coastline.   Although the Washington Coastline is pretty, in my pretty well informed travel opinion only the California Coast compares to Oregon’s.   In fact geologically the California and Oregon Coast are similar in structure and scenery from about Santa Cruz to Astoria (disagreements are welcome in the comments!).    Oregon however lacks the warmth of the long sandy beaches you’ll find around places like Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and San Diego.    Still, for pure coastal scenery I’d vote for Oregon over California, though I’d have to admit that the Big Sur area around Carmel, California might tip the hat over our great Oregon Coast in a tiebreaker for some people.

I should also note that part of this Oregon Experience adventure, especially the Oregon Coast part, is an attempt to better understand how Google will rank my Oregon website and blog.    Theoretically Google is interested in ranking the “best resources” at the top of the listings and for terms like “Oregon Coast” they have done a fairly good job to date, though as with most geographical references Google omits a lot of websites and pages that a person would likely want to see if search provided user optimal results.   The algorithm continues to heavily weight the appearance of the keyword in the content combined with an increasing number of incoming links (known as IBLs or “In Bound Links” in search optimizing circles)  that have the query term e.g. “Oregon Coast”.   A major challenge for Google is that a few years ago a huge industry sprung up buying and selling links as webmasters realized that the fastest way to optimize a website was to buy links at pages with high “pagerank” values.    This led to a very severe crackdown by Google and many changes to the algorithm in an attempt to ferret out paid links that were bought for ranking rather than traffic purposes (yes, the definition of “paid link” remains contentious), penalize sites that were ranked well due to paid links, and use of the “nofollow” tag which is a webmaster’s signal to Google that the link with that tag is not to send “authority” to the linked website.

Although buying links for pagerank will work in some cases to improve site rankings, it is such a risky strategy that almost anybody reading this post should NOT do this.   Rather I’d recommend you focus your attention on creating blogs related to your topic with highly relevant content and participating in the massive shift to online social networking which, when it stablizes in a few years, will lead to ranking algorithms that work much better than the current ones, based on real online voting patterns rather than Google’s initial brilliancy-that-no-longer-works-well which was to count links as “votes” for a website.

President Shaakasvilli on Zakaria’s CNN Global Public Square. Russia – Georgia Conflict

CNN’s Global Public Square is featuring the crisis in Georgia, where Russian troops continue to occupy parts of Georgia despite international concerns about the situation.

President Shaakashvili is a very appealing figure who took over leadership of Georgian in the non-violent “rose rebellion” which was spawned by the corruption during the Shevardnadzi Presidency, the first after Georgia’s independence from Russia.     He speaks five languages and attended US universities.  These western sensibilities make Shaakasvilli a powerful advocate for western intervention to stop Russia’s aggression even as Russia continues to maintain that they are responding to the desires of oppressed peopel in South Ossetia.

Russia’s justification for their invasion and desire to annex the Georgia provinces known as “South Ossetia” appears to be ongoing conflict there between Georgia loyalists and those who want South Ossetia to break away from Georgia  (not clear if those insurgents want to be part of Russia or just want Russian help to break away).

I’ve not studied this issue enough but it appears to me that Russia is doing a complicated dance here, trying to take over these provinces before Georgia becomes part of NATO next year  (which would make the Russian invasion almost equivalent to an act of war against the west) and testing Western resolve to intercede on behalf of Georgia early in the process and while the US remains entangled in other interventions around the globe.    It’s a high stakes game that Russia appears to be “winning” so far.

Here in America our attention seems to be focused mostly on the Presidential Election and the Iraq War, even as many other parts of the world fall into greater instability than we’ve seen in some time.    Georgia is reviving the cold war tensions many thought were behind us while Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal could fall into the hands of very unstable and hostile forces.    Even Afghanistan is reeling under renewed violence from a Taliban insurgency strengthened over the past few years as international attention has focused elsewhere.

Obama?   McCain?    Are you sure you want the big job?

Interesting set of blog posts by Nadja1, a contractor on the oil pipeline

Intel: Computers Win by 2050

Intel’s Chief recently explored some of the innovations that are shaping technology, and suggested that computers will surpass humans in intelligence by 2050.    Although I think that is a pessimistic time frame, it is encouraging to see the notion of very intelligent and/or conscious computers discussed in the mainstream company news:


Vikingsholm on Emerald Bay. Lake Tahoe, California


Lake Tahoe’s Emerald Bay, California

Vikingsholm, Lake Tahoe
Originally uploaded by JoeDuck

Lake Tahoe’s Emerald Bay is one of the most scenic areas in California – some would say this is the prettiest place in the whole state. Vikingsholm is a nordic mansion built on the lake almost 100 years ago, now managed by the state park system. Inside the mansion is fully furnished with mostly original furniture and other historic artifacts, including a Steinway Rosewood Piano commissioned especially for Vikingsholm.

Mark Twain visited Lake Tahoe long before Vikingsholm – in fact I wonder if his writing may have influenced the choice to build there.  Here is Twain on Tahoe in second of two chapters in “Roughing It” that talk about his trip from Nevada to the Lake.
(thanks to Horatiox for the tip!)

Android operating system for Googley phones promises great innovation

Early reports are suggesting that the Android operating system will be very “developer friendly”.   Android is promoted and supported by Google for the crop of new phones coming this fall.  The OS will be very open for developers and robust, suggesting we’ll see a lot of great innovation in this space very soon, innovation that is consistent with Google’s very open architecture standards (except in search!)

The People’s Coast

The Oregon Coast is arguably the top “branded” destination name in the state, and one of the top destination brands nationally, so it strikes me as very odd that some very high priced marketing firms are suggesting they rebrand our beautiful Oregon Coastline as “The People’s Coast”.

In addition to suffering from geographical vagueness and ambiguity, “The People’s Coast” is unlikely to conjure up the imagery the Oregon Coast deserves – powerful crashing surf, beautiful sandy beaches, rocky sea stacks towering majestically just off the shore, a lush blue spruce and fir forest sweeping down to the shoreline, and so much more.

Sure, the Oregon Coast is a “People’s Coast”, just like Viet Nam’s where the “People’s Coast Guard”  stands watch, but I’m not feeling how this brand is going to take off, let alone bring more folks to the state.   More importantly terms like the People’s Coast diminish the current powerful theme of the Oregon Coast which not only promotes that region but associates it with the rest of Oregon.     I’m partial to my own region – Southern Oregon – which I promoted online for many years and which includes portions of the magnificent Oregon Coast. whoops, I guess I mean that Southern Oregon contains portions of the People’s Coast…

Google Phone Coming Next Month

The Android Guys are reporting on the design of the Google Phone from T Mobile and it’s looking pretty impressive.  They also link to a spec sheet showing the phone will have a sizeable screen, pull out keyboard, 3 megapixel camera, and more.

I’m glad to have been correct to suggest the phone would make it out before next year and expect this to be a very popular 2008 Christmas Gift, even if the pricing is higher than I expect which is $150-$250 or perhaps even less to undercut the Apple iPhone market.

This earlier-than-announced launch is probably very bad news for Sprint’s instinct and other smartphones, as it is likely that we’ll see the smartphones of choice become either Apple or Android based phones.

No Prohibition advertisement, Fells Point, Baltimore Harbor

No Prohibition Ad, Fells Point, Baltimore Harbor 265

Originally uploaded by JoeDuck

Fells Point is one of Baltimore’s most historic areas. Here, a “Vote Against Prohibition” advertisement has lasted long past the demise of Prohibition. Perhaps not coincidentally the Fells Point area is known for bars and nightly rowdiness.

Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is the perfect example of how history and travel intersect in wonderful ways. Formerly the Inner Harbor was mainly for shipping, but over the past several decades Baltimore has turned this into a convention and tourism hot spot for the entire coast.

One of the most appealing features in Baltimore are the Water Taxis which take you from place to place all day for $9, offering a cheap tour. Be sure to ask the pilots about the buildings and harbor history – most are very well informed.

Lake Tahoe Emerald Bay

Lake Tahoe Emerald Bay
Originally uploaded by JoeDuck

Emerald Bay of Lake Tahoe. In my opinion this area is one of the prettiest spots in all of the American West. Highway 89 heads north from South Lake Tahoe to Tahoe City and cuts between Emerald Bay and a lake so you are perched high above two beautiful mountain lakes on the drive. For a superb day hike consider parking at DL Bliss State Park and hiking to Vikingshome, the historic small mansion by the lake now run by the park service. About 5 miles one way and you can take a trolly back (seasonal!) to your car or hike back. 2 to 3 hours each way on a beautiful, mostly flat trail.