First there was Sammy's corked bat. Then a former First Lady's kiss-and-tell. Now we've got a real-life action figure angling to run the nation's largest state and a blackout in the nation's largest city. We can only imagine what's going to happen in the next two days, when George W. Bush makes his first post-war visit to the city his daddy dubbed "Little Beirut." Protest plans include a four-minute honkathon and a North Portland march (see "Bushwhackers," in news).

It's all, frankly, been a bit unreal.

Then again, summer has always been the time to take a break from the routine, particularly in Puddletown, where eight months of the year, that routine includes a lot of Gore-Tex. But as the days get shorter, it's time to think about getting back to business.

That's why WW has created its own "Back to Reality" guide to fall, a how-to manual that helps you to squeeze every last bit of juice out of what's left of summer and still get ready for autumn (including the upcoming grape crush).

Inside, you'll find information on everything from what local band you should follow to how you can make your living space greener (even in the dead of winter). And if you've put off a ton of bothersome tasks--signing up for a yoga class or repairing your sidewalk--we're going to tell you where to go. We haven't forgotten fun: You can also find out where to get free movie passes or how to hire a dominatrix. Plus, we add our annual arts calendar and some pretty stuff: wall-ready pages of fall fashion and home design.

And what about our cover image? Given the surreal nature of past presidential visits, and the recent events in Iraq, we couldn't resist the connection (and, yes, we realize they're spelled differently!). Interestingly, the city's beloved Bagdad Theater was constructed 76 years ago by Universal Studios, which in recent years has been building theme parks complete with 3-D depictions of that muscle-bound Republican aiming to terminate Gray Davis--the same guy who, in a memorable line from The Running Man, said, "I'm not into politics, I'm into survival."

Consider this your survival guide to finding your way back to reality. table of contents


How can I hire a personal chef?
How can I learn about wine?
Are there places that deliver food besides pizza?
Where can I find a (sort-of) late-night liquor store?
How can I make squash soup?
Where can I get a free meal on my birthday?
How can I learn to make exotic tea?
Where can I crush grapes?
Where can I get fresh apple cider?
Where's a good place to buy beer?


How can I meet with a city official?
Whose responsibility is it to get my sidewalk fixed?
How do I deal with the DMV?
What can I do about a dog that won't stop barking?
What do I do if I think my neighbor is beating his/her partner?
How can I do a background check on a childcare provider?
How can I find if there are sex offenders in my neighborhood?
Should I donate to political campaigns? How?
How can I find out what intersections have red-light cameras?


Do I need to buy chains for my car, and where can I get them?
Do I need a rainsuit, and how much will one cost?
Where can I learn to climb Mount Hood?
How can I learn more about local geology?
How can I take a road trip in a free car?
Where's a good corn maze?
Where can I rent a RV?
What's the deal with the swallows at Chapman?
How can I join a rugby team?
Where can I watch European soccer?
How could I be a soccer coach?
Where can I learn to hunt for birds?


Where can I read my poetry?
How can I get free movie passes?
What local band should I watch out for this fall?
How can I get front-row tickets to Cirque du Soleil?
What theater company has the best ticket deals?
How can I sell my artwork/crafts?
How does one hire a dominatrix?
Which local library has the best video selection?


How do I choose a yoga class?
Where can I learn to blow glass?
How can I learn another language?
Where can I learn to knit?
How can I mentor a kid?
How can I make my living space greener?


Where can I find a cheap dentist?
Where's the best place to get teeth whitened?
Where can I get the pill cheaply?
Where can I get an AIDS test?
Where do I get a tattoo removed?
Where can I take a class to reinvigorate my sex life?
How can I get medical marijuana?


Can I burn leaves?
Do I need to do anything special to use a scooter?
How do I get rid of paint?
Where can I get firewood, and how much will I need?
Where can I find child care on short notice?
Where can I find cheap pet care? How can I hire a personal chef?

How great does this sound? Coming home from work to find your kitchen spotless and your fridge and freezer stocked with healthy, tasty and easy-to-prepare food that has been cooked to your exact specifications. It's probably not as far out of your financial reach as you think--especially when you factor in the time saved in shopping, preparation and clean-up. "I tell people I save them 15 hours a week," says Monica Shoemaker, who runs the personal-chef business Home Plate. She says many of her clients are busy working parents who just want to "get their lives back." She also sells personal-chef gift certificates, which make welcome gifts for new parents, friends studying for the bar, etc. Personal chefs also make sense if you're trying to make a diet or lifestyle change. Donna Dockins of Blue Plate Special says that through word of mouth she's ended up with a majority of clients on different special diets. Prices vary, but Dockins' $12-to-$15 a serving is the general range. You can find seven personal chefs serving Portland at How can I learn about wine?

Here's the main thing you need to know about wine: No one really knows anything about it. Study after glorious study has proved that even the biggest oenophiles (wine snobs, to the rest of us) can't tell the difference between a $10 and a $50 bottle with the labels covered up. The studies also claim, and we really hope this is true, that blindfolded sippers can't even tell red from white. This isn't to say that you shouldn't try to learn something--especially since the best way to learn about wine is to drink it. A lot of it. If you need a direction to begin, go to and sign up for the weekly email newsletter that will flood your inbox with tips on what to buy, special events, bargains, and general wine news and chat so you can impress your friends. Find another good calendar of wine events at And don't forget to show off your new, hard-won knowledge at the annual Thanksgiving-weekend open house at Oregon wineries. Are there places that deliver food besides pizza?

Sure, lots of Asian eateries and some mom-and-pops will drop off a bag in front of your house. But there's one operation that will deliver food from more than 20 places (including Noho's Hawaiian, Bread and Ink, Campbell's BBQ and Chopsticks Southeast Asian). Delivered Dish is the creation of liberal-arts refugees Alan and Seana Shaffer, who, in true Portland fashion, talked it over with their dogs Tucker and Zoe before launching their restaurant delivery business. Nearly all ZIP codes in the metro area can use the service for a $5 to $8 delivery fee and a $15 minimum order. For menus and to order go to or call 239-0100. Where can I find a (sort-of) late-night liquor store?

With nearly every state-run liquor store in Portland shutting its door at peak drinking hours, it's often hard to get your hard-liquor groove on if the mood hits you at 7:05 pm. Don't despair. There are at least two local liquor stores that log a couple of extra hours each Friday and Saturday night for night owls like you--not exactly late-night, but as close as it gets. Along a deserted strip of empty storefronts, King Boulevard Liquor (3636 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 281-0512) keeps its doors open from noon to 8:30 pm Monday-Thursday and until 9 pm on Friday and Saturday. Likewise, Rose City Liquor (7333 NE Fremont St., 284-7591) is open from 10 am to 8 pm on weekdays and until 9 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. How can I make squash soup?

Before Miss Dish, Caryn B. Brooks, took off for New York she shared with us one of the finest fall soups she had come across while covering the eats beat. She liked it so much she made it at home--hence the following recipe courtesy of the Iron Horse Restaurant (6034 SE Milwaukie Ave., 232-1826).

Cream of Pumpkin Soup
(makes around 1 gallon)

You'll need:

4 lbs. pumpkin (peeled and diced)
1/2 bunch celery (diced)
1 lb. carrots (peeled and diced)
1 lb. onion (diced)
1 quart vegetable stock or chicken stock
1 Tbs oregano (fresh, rough chopped or 1 tsp dried )
1 Tbs thyme (fresh, rough chopped or 1 tsp dried )
1 Tbs sage (fresh, rough chopped or 1 tsp dried )
1 Tbs chopped garlic
1 Tbs black pepper
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground clove (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil.

Turn heat down and slowly simmer for one hour.

Remove from heat and purée soup using a hand blender, regular blender or food processor. If using regular blender, let soup cool a little longer so that it doesn't blow the top off your blender.

Season soup with salt and pepper, if necessary.

If soup is too thin, return to heat and simmer until thick. If it is too thick, add more stock, cream or milk. Where can I get a free meal on my birthday?

It's been our experience that most places will spot you something if you announce it's your birthday (or get your friends to do it for you). But beyond the obligatory dish of ice cream with a candle on top, there's one place that advertises free birthday meals--the all-you-can-eat Japanese seafood smorgasbord Todai (Pioneer Place, 340 SW Morrison St., 294-0007), though your birthday meal itself won't be free. You need to buy a meal and bring along another paying customer, and then you'll get a gift certificate for a free meal on a return visit. But at $22.95 for a weekday dinner, that's a pretty decent present. How can I learn to make exotic tea?

Portland is a drinking town, and we're not just talking microbrews. In addition to producing incredible wine and coffee, the city can claim the title of tea lover's paradise. Stash, Tazo and Oregon Chai were all founded here. To hook up with fellow tea aficionados, go to and suggest meeting at the Tao of Tea (3430 SE Belmont St., 736-0119; 2112 NW Hoyt St., 223-3563; Classical Chinese Garden, 239 NW Everett St., 224-8455). To learn in a more formal setting, visit the Tea Zone (510 NW 11th Ave., 221-2130). This shrine to all things tea offers monthly classes on aspects of tea, including Bubble Tea (Aug. 21), black tea (coming in September), and pairing food and tea (November). Call to sign up. Where can I crush grapes?

At Urban Wine Works (407 NW 16th Ave., 226-9797), and you don't even need to get your feet dirty! The shop owners bring grapes to the store every harvest and let customers help with the crush by using a plunger type tool. But if you want to get your feet messy, and if you're willing to make a trip, check out the Columbia Valley wineries annual "Catch the Crush" celebration Sept. 27-28. Fifteen wineries are open from 10 am to 5 pm, and they invite the clean-footed to come and stomp grapes, listen to music, sample snacks and watch the harvest unfold. For a complete schedule of events go to Where can I get fresh apple cider?

Apple juice isn't just for kids anymore. We're living in an ideal location to make hard (alcoholic) apple cider. Rich and Kristin Ford have 150 acres on Sauvie Island and make exceptional, French-style sparkling cider from their "ugly, bitter little apples." You can buy the Cyderworks for your fall fete at Pastaworks (735 NW 21st Ave., 221-3002, and other locations) and Whole Foods (1210 NW Couch St., 525-4343). To visit the farm or attend one of its special tasting events check out Raw, kid-friendly cider can only be made during the harvest season--usually mid-August to October. Head out to Hood River to see the pressing in action. There are several events along the "Fruit Loop" (that's what they call it) celebrating all things apple, including Gravenstein Apple Days (Aug. 23-24), Apple Valley's Artisan Food Festival (Sept. 20-21) and the Heirloom Apple and Cider Festival (Oct. 24-26). During special events you can tour Draper's Cider Factory, the only non-pasteurizing, licensed apple-cider facility on the Fruit Loop. Samples are included on all tours, and you'll never taste cider fresher than this. For more information on these events, visit Where's a good place to buy beer?

If you often feel like an ignoramus in a town of beer experts, you'll want some lessons in what hop is hip. For Southwest Portland's resident beer guru, look no further than David Percival, the friendly proprietor of John's Market (3535 SW Multnomah Blvd., 244-2617). John's currently stocks a gut-busting 876 different beers--a number which can fluctuate in either direction by the day--from super-cheap domestics like PBR to exotic imports from the Far East and Trappist-brewed Belgian Chimay. Percival started out at John's in 1996 by subleasing the deli counter, eventually taking over the business in '99. Under Percival, the store's stocks of suds exploded like a forgotten moonshine still. "The beer and wine kind of grew all over the store," he says. As well as its staggering selection of bottled beers, John's also sells kegs to the public, from $48 for a half-keg of Miller High Life to around $130 for a more refined German or Belgian import. Breweries hold tastings at the store most Friday evenings, but swilling Philistines shouldn't worry about being judged on their Pabst six-pack--this isn't a snobbish establishment. Percival is on hand around 70 hours a week to offer advice to novice boozers. His expert credentials include an evangelical passion for the brew. "I love beer," he says. "God, it's good!"

If you want to shop around for the cheapest brews in Portland's pubs, one of the most useful sources is Its calendar of different cheap-beer offers at local hostelries comes complete with happy hours, and the site also gives details on free beer-tasting evenings at brewpubs. If you're planning on hosting your own drinking session, of course, you'll want something wholesale. Try Portland Brewing MacTarnahan's kegs (2730 NW 31st Ave., 228-8265), which range from $50 for a quarter-barrel to $95 for a half, while they charge $24 a case--basically a buck a beer. They'll also throw in cups and ice for free. How do I choose a yoga class?

Certain types of yoga can be as different from each other as skiing and hang-gliding. So for yoga virgins, starting can be intimidating. Yoga Northwest publisher/editor Mara McLoughlin has this advice. First, "shop around and take different classes here and there to see which class and which teacher resonates with you." Many studios offer introductory classes or weeks for free or reduced prices--and try to give each style at least two tries. What seems hideous on the first go may revolutionize your life the next time. McLoughlin also recommends picking a teacher with "a solid physical practice who, at the same time, extols the meaning of the text." Because, she says, while yoga may be as trendy as spin classes were five years ago, "it's not just the new aerobics." It's about shaping your body so your mind can follow, so look for a teacher who incorporates meditation into the physical workout. McLoughlin modestly didn't suggest reading her magazine for further guidance, but it's a fine source for all things yoga. You can also click on Yoga Northwest's website ( for a lengthy list of classes in the Portland area. Where can I learn to blow glass?

It's hard to think of a sexier hobby than glass blowing--there aren't many other activities, for example, that allow you to talk about glory holes with such nonchalance, and stripping down to the bare minimum is encouraged (even in the cool fall and winter months). Sign up for beginning classes at Elements Glass (228-0575, The six-week course will set you back $560, but even if it doesn't help your social life or turn you on to a new career, you'll at least have some pretty nifty holiday gifts. Glass blowing is also offered at the Pacific Northwest College of Art ( How can I learn another language?

The best way is to go live in a foreign country for three months, but that not everybody's got the time or bucks for that. Still, there are plenty of places to learn other languages. For example, all the local community colleges offer a range of classes to fit nearly any comfort level. If you're serious about brushing up your skills in a fairly short amount of time, consider the Berlitz school (321 SW 4th Ave., 274-0830). It offers classes in Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, German and Portuguese that meet once or twice a week and cost $299 for an 18-hour course. And try to bring a friend: You'll have someone to practice with, and the pair of you will get a 10 percent discount. How can I learn to knit?

Now that famous folk like Julia Roberts have become adept with pairs of knitting needles, even non-grandmas want to follow in their fingers. And the knitting craze is beginning to take off in Portland in a huge way. But for those who can't even rub two sticks together to make a fire, it's hard to know how to begin. One option is to head over to the Yarn Garden (1413 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 239-7950) and sign up for one of the many learn-to-knit classes. You can practice your skills at their Wednesday-night open knits as well. To meet fellow scarfmakers, go to Or just head over to Nocturnal (1800 E Burnside St., 239-5900) for Wednesday's Craft Night and see if anybody will teach you how to knit one, purl two and at the same time punch back a PBR. How can I mentor a kid?

If your budget won't allow you to make the big United Way donation this year, realize that your time is at least as valuable as your money. An hour a week can make a world of difference to a child, and everyone should have at least that to spare. And ask anyone who volunteers: What you get out of it is worth much more than what you put in. Oregon Mentors (, 450-0890) has a wide variety of programs for individuals, couples and businesses. The organization offers extensive and ongoing training as well, so don't feel like you can't do it just because you don't know what 50 Cent is up to these days. A great way to devote an hour a week is by helping kids to read. The Oregon Children's Foundation's SMART (Start Making a Reader Today) program welcomes volunteers. Go to or call 1-800-355-3999. Portland's various Boys and Girls Clubs (, 232-0077) also offer willing adults positive ways to interact with kids. How can I make my living space greener?

Since Martha Stewart's a little busy at the moment, someone's going to have to save the world at home. If a small garden of plants can keep you company during the rainy months, you might want to do a little extra recycling with apartment compost. You don't need a big yard, just a window that gets plenty of sun, a little dirt and all the biodegradable rubbish you can produce--like vegetable table scraps, hair, eggshells, breadcrusts, tea bags and coffee grounds. Avoid dairy, oils and especially meat, which will leave you with unwanted grease in your compost.

For easy instructions on a "compost column" made with plastic two-liter soda bottles, check out main.cfm?action=showNewsletterTips&newsletterID=11#1.

If the bottles don't give you enough room, or if you don't want your compost taking up window space, buy a pound or so of red worms and start vermicomposting in a hidden worm bin. Find a fancy one to buy at, or build your own with instructions from Metro (download 'em at Where can I read my poetry?

Though the open-mic night is fast becoming a dying breed, a Portland coffee haven is trying to breath some life into it, verse by poetic verse. Blend Coffeehouse and Cafe (2327 E Burnside St., 234-8610) is readying a biweekly session that promises to exhibit plenty of local poets, experienced and otherwise. "We are a neighborhood coffee shop, and if the neighborhood wants [an open-mic night], then we're going to do it, " says owner Lara Miller. Blend's open-mic night may be sans mic but still welcomes poetry, spoken word and storytelling from 7-9 pm on the first and third Wednesdays of each month. If Blend's soiree is too organized, flaunt your spontaneity/stanzas at Pioneer Courthouse Square (701 SW 6th Ave.) at any time of the day or night. The square's small amphitheater located near the Northwest corner of Portland's "living room" has been specifically designed with acoustics in mind, so not only can others hear your words, but you can hear yourself. How can I get free movie passes?

If you've ever wandered by WW's offices on a Wednesday morning you've probably seen a queue of unique individuals stretched out like a line of ants on the sidewalk. This is the movie mafia. Every humpday they wait (sometimes impatiently) for a free movie pass (as advertised in the paper) from our nymphette/receptionist, Jenny B. A more dissolute, scary group of people you couldn't hope to meet--unless you go to the screenings. There you'll find not just our freebie-loving fruit-loops but a slew of weird and wonderful folk who've obtained tickets from local Clear Channel-owned radio stations Z100, 105.9 The River, K103, 1190 KEX and 620 KTLK. These are usually given away via listener phone-ins, nightclub promotions and station street-team events--all in the name of target demographics. Adding even more numbers to this eclectic human zoo are contest winners from local entertainment website, which offers one or two contests a week for free screenings. Winners answer trivia questions or complete coloring contests. The Hollywood Theatre makes it a little easier: Just go to and sign up for its email newsletter, and you'll occasionally get passes to print out. So you can go to the movies for free in Portland, but be warned: These noisy, overcrowded, sometimes smelly events do not always provide the ideal environment for losing yourself in a film. What local band should I watch out for this fall?

After rave reviews in The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, The Village Voice and every local publication this side of Dog Nose News, it's an obvious choice. Then again, it's an obvious choice. The Lifesavas' triumphant Spirit in Stone is the essential Portland album right now, the same way Sleater-Kinney's One Beat was last year, the same way Hazel's Toreador of Love must have been in '93. The hip-hop trio's glowing alloy of street freestyle (forged by "Alberta Park's most hated" rhymesayers), reggae beats, fervent spirituality and dead-on satire epitomizes the city even as it transcends our little patch of Earth. Dare you not to bounce to the righteous "Soldierfied," vehicle for the instantly immortal line: "The streets?/ The streets can go to hell/ I want freedom." Dare you not to laugh through "Hellohihey," MC Vursatyl's jazzy multiple-personality riff on hip-hop's ego ills. And if you don't swell with a little civic pride during the North Portland memoir "Me"--well, you could always move to Tucson. How can I get front-row tickets to Cirque du Soleil?

The best way to get the best seats (Category 1) for October's Portland shows is to purchase online from or call 1-800-678-5440. From the website, you can look at photos from each section in the Grand Chapiteau, so you'll have an idea of your vantage point. Friday- and Saturday-night performances sell out the fastest, so matinee and weeknight performances offer a better opportunity for great seats. There are also a few unclaimed media seats released to the public every afternoon before the performance, though these go quickly. What theater company has the best ticket deals?

Many of Portland's theaters have had to develop new subscription schemes to attract audiences. For full-season subscriptions, one can turn to Portland Center Stage, Stark Raving and Triangle, depending on your taste. Perhaps the best deal (and the one that offers the most interesting program choices) would be Artists Repertory Theatre. The usual benefits apply: seat priority, discounts, opening-night festivities, newsletter, etc. But ART also offers subscribers the chance of suddenly bringing along family and friends with ticket discounts of up to 10 percent. For the various subscription options, call the theater at 241-1278. How can I sell my artwork/crafts?

If you're a confident, budding artist, you will first need to know how to present your work to gallery owners. Try to get the best possible representation of your images you can afford. As far as getting that all-important first show, you're free to aim big with sights on the major galleries. According to Jane Beebe, owner of PDX Gallery, a lot of galleries don't actively seek out new artists, but many are willing to review your work on slides, on CDs or via the Internet. Chances are, though, you're going to get your first exposure on a cafe wall. There are a number of restaurant and coffee shops that have proved to be fortuitous for advancement: Crowsenberg's (923 SW Oak St., 222-4495), the various Stumptown Coffee outlets (128 SW 3rd Ave., 295-6144, and other locations) and the Aalto Lounge (3356 SE Belmont St., 235-6041). Another good place to start would be at the Basil Hallward Gallery at Powell's City of Books (1005 W Burnside St., 228-4651) whose curators (Marci Macfarlane and Trent DeBord) have created one of the best venues for new work in town. How does one hire a dominatrix?

Like having your ass spanked by a female dressed head to toe in leather? Well, finding someone compatible to your BDSM desires and fetish fantasies used to require thumbing your way through the pages of Portland's more pervy publications. Now it's as simple as looking through the back of WW and, yes, even the telephone directory. But that doesn't mean you know what you're getting into.

"Communication is everything,"says Goddess Severina, a local pro domme who comes complete with a fully-equipped dungeon ( "It's an insult that dommes have time to explain what BDSM is," says Severina, who lives by the motto safe, sane and consensual, "but it's very important that both the dominatrix and the client understand what they are getting into."

Make sure to explain what your experiences and interests are so the dommes can better assess your limits. And don't be shy. Dommes have heard everything and also will want to ask you a few questions to make sure you're not coming for the wrong reason--like sex. Pro dommes don't get naked and don't do the nasty. No exceptions. If you want something more than that, you're probably asking the wrong question here. Which local library has the best video selection?

While Portland's largest number of gratis movies (more than 6,500 feature films and around 4,000 more documentaries and how-to videos) reside at the Multnomah County Central Library (801 SW 10th Ave., 988-5123), it takes quick reflexes and daily return-cart vigils to nab anything but a waiting-list request at the bustling, downtown hub. That's because the county's videos are all part of a collection that gets "shared out" between more than 15 Portland-area library locations. Library assistant Marsha Weber tipped us off that if you want free flicks, try a smaller Multnomah branch's quiet aisles or head on over to Clackamas County, where each library acts as a free agent, buying its own selection of movies and DVDs. That means that whatever media they own eventually return to their lesser-known shelves. Hard-to-find classics as well as a grip of new releases are often still warming the book bench at Milwaukie's smallish Ledding Library (10660 SE 21st Ave., 786-7580), which stocks a collection of nearly 4,000 feature-film and documentary selections. Clackamas County's biggest shop, Lake Oswego Public Library (706 4th St., 636-7628), is an even better bet. The affluent outpost (which spent more than $3,300 on media materials last year) boasts a 13,000-piece video rack and almost 3,000 DVDs. Just apply for your golden ticket (a valid Clackamas County library card) and it's showtime! Do I need to buy chains for my car, and where can I get them?

In very bad winter road conditions all vehicles may be required to use chains regardless of the type of vehicle or type of tire being used. According to the Oregon Department of Transportation, this is known as "conditional road closure." At ODOT's you'll find out "chains" include "link chains, cable chains or any other device that attaches to the wheel, vehicle or outside of the tire that is specifically designed to augment the traction...under ice or snow conditions."

You can pick up chains at box stores like G.I. Joe's, tire specialists like Les Schwab (which takes back unused sets after the snow season) or roadside oases. Vern Mills, tire service manager at Jubitz Travel Center (33 NE Middlefield Road, 283-1111) says you'll need either chains or studded tires (legal in Oregon only from Nov. 1 to April 1) when ODOT requires traction devices for going into the mountains. Go to before you leave to check the current conditions and requirements. Even if the site says you can get away with just studs, chains are safer on packed snow--and, at $39.99-$80 a pair, they're much cheaper. Of course, the down side is the installation. Mills admits, "They're still a pain in the fanny." Do I need a rainsuit, and how much will one cost?

It's easy to make clothes waterproof; it's not so easy or inexpensive to make them comfortable and breathable. You can buy a rubber coat for $19.99 (or less) that will keep you dry, but according to Oregon Mountain Community's (60 NW Davis St., 227-1038) clothing and outerwear buyer Scot Schrepping, "You get what you pay for." If you're active, you're going to want one of the fancy high-tech fabrics that wick that nasty sweat away. Schrepping says the current hot new thing is the waterproof gear from Arc'Teryx, though the $99 jackets Marmot remain popular for day hiking, light backpacking and regular rainy days around town. Where can I learn to climb Mount Hood?

Unless you plan on becoming a permanent fixture on Mount Hood, don't even think about climbing it in the winter. The optimal time to traverse the cascade beast is from April to June--it could take you until next April to get prepared, anyway. In the meantime, maintain fitness at indoor rock gyms. "Climbing Mount Hood is 90 percent fitness and 10 percent technical savvy," says John Godino, climb leader/ instructor with The Mazamas, a long-standing Portland-based climbing club (909 NW 19th Ave., 227-2345). When spring rolls around, Godino and his crew can provide you with the essential 10 percent via their Basic Climbing Education Program. Get vertical. How can I learn more about local geology?

Studying the field of geology is a heck of a way to spend a Friday night. At 8 pm on the second Friday of every month (except March), you'll find the Geological Society of the Oregon Country crammed into room 371 of Portland State University's liberal arts-friendly Cramer Hall (1721 SW Broadway) to listen to experts in the geologic field. For information on upcoming lectures, refer to or call Carol Hasenberg at 282-0547.

In addition to the GSOC rock-hound roundtable, Portland Community College (12000 SW 49th Ave, Portland, 244-6111, and other locations) will be offering classes on the Geology of the Pacific Northwest and Geology of the Oregon Coast this fall. Check out for the schedule. Rock on. How do I take a road trip in a free car?

"Get your motor running, head out on the highway." Feeling the call of the open road, but worried your old jalopy won't make the city limits? How about delivering a car cross-country? If you're 21 with a valid driving license, you can apply to be a driver for the Portland office of the Auto Driveaway Company (294-2955,, which delivers vehicles across the whole of the U.S. and Canada. You will need to front a $360 deposit and pass muster in an interview with ADC's agent for Oregon, John Case. "I have to like them," says Case, so be on your best behavior. You should remember also that this is a business, not a pleasure tour, and drivers are expected to rack up about 400 miles a day. For example, a Portland driver would be expected in New York within 10 days of departure, though Case estimates it takes most only six or seven. Other rules to bear in mind are a three-person maximum and no smoking or pets in the car. And sign up early--the Portland office gets 40 calls from drivers a day, but only five or six cars a week. Now, where did you put that Steppenwolf tape? Where's a good corn maze?

If you feel like you hadn't heard about corn mazes until about 10 years ago, you're right. They first became popular in the U.S. around 1993 and have grown like, well, like corn. For more information than you'd ever need to know on the maze craze, go to If you're eager to experience a maze firsthand, the Pumpkin Patch on Sauvie Island has opened its patch with a Lewis and Clark theme. Where can I rent an RV?

Now that easy rider Jack Nicholson has helmed a Winnebago in About Schmidt, RV-ing is officially cool...kind of. In any case, the Northwest's Pacific coastline is a fine place to tour in a recreational vehicle. But before you shell out the couple of hundred grand it can cost to get your own ride, you might want to visit one of the local companies renting RVs. It's not as cheap as loading up the minivan, but you'll really ride in comfort. Here are a couple of local outlets that give rides on a rental basis:

RVs To Go ( 27975 SW Parkway Ave., Wilsonville, 570-6131. Peak season (May 15-Sept. 15) $1,195 to $1,595 a week, or $895 to $1,295 off-peak.

RV Gold Inc. ( 33832 SE Kelso Road, Boring, 491-1592. Summer rates (June­September) $775 to $1,800 a week, winter $675 to $1,700. What's the deal with the swallows at Chapman?

A dense, swirling cloud of silhouetted Vaux's Swifts--they're not actually swallows and are more closely related to hummingbirds--swoops into the chimney of the Chapman School (1445 NW 26th Ave.) like a clustering shotgun explosion in reverse. This traveling family of tiny birds, each only four inches long, migrates every year from the cooling climes of Oregon toward the comfortable neotropics of Central America in search of food, usually in late September or early October. Portland Public Schools spokesman Lou Fredrick says that the birds are welcome guests and that the elementary school even set aside the chimney for their exclusive use last year. The birds are usually "in school" for around four days each fall and for their return in the spring, and many neighborhood families turn out to witness the aerial ship-in-a-bottle spectacle. How can I join a rugby team?

Few sports clubs in Portland are as welcoming and friendly as the Jesters rugby club. When we called and asked their PR guru and "lock" Jamie Hampton the above question, her reply was "Can you drink beer?" That's about all the expertise required. Novices are welcome, says Hampton, as long they are enthusiastic: "We will teach you how to play, but we are looking for aggressive, athletic, committed people...who want to have FUN." So, if your idea of fun is a violent mudbath, a quick shower and 15 pints of lager--you're in! New members pay a $75 membership subscription for their first season, which covers their rugby union fees--but you can attend a few practices and decide if rugby's for you before shelling out. Once the season gets going Sept. 2, the Jesters operate two men's and two women's teams, with practices two weekdays evenings each week. Games are played on the weekends at the Farm, 2565 SW Ek Road, West Linn. For more information, go to or call 284-ORSU. Where can I watch European soccer?

Whether you're a refugee far from home and missing the beautiful game or one of the growing numbers of Americans converting to a real sport, you'll need somewhere to watch the "footy." For a taste of the English premier league and FA Cup, watch the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United in action at the Horse Brass Pub (4534 SE Belmont St., 232-2202) early on weekend mornings during the season (7 or 8 am, August to May). Admission is free--except on odd occasions like the Cup Final, when a charge is levied to cover the pay-per-view fee--and while you watch you can enjoy a full English breakfast for $6.95. The Horse Brass has a friendly, relaxed atmosphere and will usually accommodate requests to put any soccer (e.g. German, Spanish) showing on Fox Sports up on its big screen.

A big part of being a soccer fan is cultural identity, and Irish folk of varying authenticity can celebrate their Emeraldine heritage with the Glasgow Celtic FC supporters club at Kells Irish Restaurant and Pub (112 SW 2nd Ave., 227-4057). Kells shows as many "Auld Firm" games (involving either Glasgow team--Celtic for the Catholics, and Rangers for the Protestants) as it can throughout the season. I know what you're thinking: Glasgow was in Scotland the last time you checked. Just go with it.

If Azzuri is more your color, then Torrefazione Italia in the Pearl and near Northwest Broadway (1140 NW Everett St., 224-9896; 1403 NE Weidler St., 288-1608) occasionally shows Series A games. It's pretty informal--customers who know of a game scheduled on Italian TV channel RAI are welcome to come in and switch on. How can I be a soccer coach?

If Bend it like Beckam got you as excited to teach soccer as to play it, contact Oregon Youth Soccer (626-4625, to find a club in your area that's eager for new coaches. Be prepared to undergo a background check, and don't panic if you're still at the stage of just learning what football really is. Oregon Youth Soccer posts lists of clinics and training opportunities for wannabe coaches. And if you really enjoy it, it could become a way to fund your vacation as well--coaches at the higher levels can make $3,000 a year. Where can I learn to hunt for birds?

What better way to celebrate fall than by bagging your own plump quail? If that sounds appealing but you have no idea how to go about it, a good first stop on your hunter's journey is the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife website at There are links to a range of hunter education classes (for Portland-area classes, you can also call 947-6001 for recorded listings). Women interested in brushing up on their living-off-the-land skills can also find information about the national "Becoming an Outdoor Woman" program (which goes by the unfortunate acronym of BOW). Ten thousand women each year participate in workshops covering subjects like outdoor survival, bowhunting, and shotgun and rifle. If you're looking for a guide to do all the learning for you, check out for a list of helpful hunters in your area. How can I meet with a city official?

Now that Vera Katz has some free time on her hands, you might want to give her a visit. Here's one quick way to check in with our outgoing mayor: Visit and click on Mayor Katz's mug or that of any other elected official. Not only will you find out which bureaus they work with, you can also check out their accomplishments, and how best to get in touch with them. John Dutt, information and referral manager within the Office of Neighborhood Involvement (823-4000), assures us that all of the commissioners' staffs are accessible and helpful. And funny, too. Make sure to check Commissioner Randy Leonard's informative biography, which likens him to his 3-year-old grandson, Cole James Leonard, whose nickname is "The Wild Man." Whose responsibility is it to get my sidewalk fixed?

Think it's the city's responsibility to fix that crack on your curb? Think again. If your sidewalk is in shambles, you need to have it fixed, but first you'll need to get a permit. The city's Sidewalk Repair program (1900 SW 4th Ave., 823-1711) can provide a list of concrete companies and offer a complimentary permit (which can take up to two weeks). The city's maintenance bureau will issue a permit on the spot, but it will cost you $30. And don't dawdle: If you blow off a deadline, the city may have the work done for you--and the bill's sure to be higher. How do I deal with the DMV?

Do you ever wonder where famous people like the Blazers go to get their licenses--assuming they have them? You have plenty of time to contemplate such subjects while sitting aimlessly in the Driver & Motor Vehicle Services office waiting desperately for your number to be called. We can't tell you about the secret "celebs only" line, but there are several tips to make your DMV experience more tolerable. First of all, bring cash or check. DMVs do not accept credit cards (although the Northeast 82nd Avenue, Lloyd Center and North Interstate branches now accept debit cards)--and being turned away for lack of funds after hours of waiting has dissolved even the toughest of truck drivers into tears. Also, check the hours and the services of the office you are planning to visit at before you leave. Going to a place that doesn't do what you need is nearly as bad as not having enough cash (you can at least spange from fellow waiters). And go on a Wednesday in the middle of the month when the office opens. Do not go on the first or last day the office is open or consider trying to squeeze your visit in during a lunch hour, unless you have a very generous employer. But don't put off renewing your license--if more than a year goes by on an expired license, you'll be required to retake the written and practical driver's tests. And you're supposed to inform DMV of any moves (do this online) within 30 days and they'll send you an update sticker for your license. If you've moved to Oregon from out of state, you'll have to take the written driver's test again even you have a valid license from another state. Practice online first to avoid repeated trips. And get insurance--DMV does random checks each month. The last thing you want to do is get them on your bad side. Then you'll never get out of line. What can I do about a dog that won't stop barking?

You can peacefully coexist with neighborhood creatures without resorting to poison. Multnomah County Animal Services suggests you first try and speak with your neighbor. Talking face-to-face--what a concept. If that's not successful, you can try Resolutions Northwest and its neighborhood mediation program (823-3152, Among its services, RN offers neighbors the opportunity to resolve noise, pet and property-maintenance disputes. Best of all, it's free to anyone who lives within the city limits. If the mediator can't Jimmy Carter you out of the situation, petition MCAS; if they accept, the pup's owner will be served with a Notice of Infraction. Three notices warrant an abatement order, and failure to comply results in the dog being impounded. So there are plenty of things you can do before you pick up a dart gun. For a step-by-step guide, check out What do I do if I think my neighbor is beating his/her partner?

If you can see or hear your neighbor attacking his or her partner there and then, you have only one option--call 911. If, however, you have suspicions about domestic violence, or your neighbor finds a way of confiding in you, call the Portland Police Bureau's Domestic Violence Reduction Unit (823-0961). The unit uses an advocate who, when possible, pays a visit while the abusive party is away from the home. Advocates are typically less intimidating than police officers when attempting to intervene in cases of domestic violence.

Sadly, the city and the state have stubbornly refused to fund these services in recent years, so the unit is down to a single advocate for Portland; DVRT teams (Domestic Violence Response Teams) working with the sheriffs' departments of Clackamas and Washington counties are similarly understaffed. As Chiquita Rawlins, Multnomah County's domestic-violence coordinator, aptly puts it: "We need the city to step up to the plate." If you're interested in donating your money or time to one of the private groups who send out advocates, contact either Raphael House (222-6507) or the Volunteers of America Family Center (771-5503). How can I do a background check on a childcare provider?

All licensed childcare centers have been certified and inspected by the state, and the inspectors' records remain on file. The Oregon Employment Department's website ( also provides advice and checklists for parents on what to look for in a childcare facility.

If you want to do a little detective work on an unlicensed babysitter, you can look up any criminal record they may have on the Multnomah County Courthouse's (1021 SW 4th Ave.) free-to-use database. Bear in mind that juveniles will fly under the radar, and that these records will only show convictions in the state of Oregon. Otherwise, personal recommendations from friends and people you trust are a decent common-sense barometer. How can I find out if there are sex offenders in my neighborhood?

It's surprisingly easy to find this information--and absolutely free. Simply pick up the phone and call the Oregon State Police's Sex Offender Unit (503-378-3720). This number is an automated voicemail service--callers leave their name, address and phone number and the area they're interested in, for example their ZIP code or the ZIP code of their children's school. The unit will send a complete list, usually within a couple of days (the wait can be up to three weeks in times of media frenzy). The list includes offenders' names, physical descriptions (gender, race, hair color, eye color, height, weight), home addresses and telephone numbers. Only offenders still under parole or probation supervision have their addresses withheld. These lists do not detail each offender's sex crime, but that information is available to callers should they wish to find out by calling the same number and speaking to an operator. WW requested a list for a fairly sleepy, residential Southwest neighborhood, and the results showed a total of 55 offenders living in that area, including the home addresses of 33 individuals. At this time, the service is not available online. Should I donate to political campaigns? How?

You would be insane not to. Residents of this state are allowed a tax credit for political contributions, up to $50 on a single return, $100 on a joint, according to the Oregon Department of Revenue. That means you can contribute to a candidate and their principal campaign committees, a political action committee (PAC) or a political party (but first call the state elections office at 503-986-1518 to see if your party qualifies), and deduct the whole amount from the taxes you owe.

Check the ODR website at for how to qualify for the credit and when it can be claimed. Naturally, the taxman encourages you to keep receipts from the candidate or organization with your records.

How can I find out what intersections have red-light cameras?

Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Click on the file "Red Light Camera Summary" at This useful table provides the location of all five of Portland's intersection cameras, including the following busy cross streets:

*Northbound 39th Avenue at Northeast Sandy Boulevard.

*Westbound Sandy Boulevard at Northeast 39th Avenue.

*Northbound Grand Avenue at East Burnside Street.

*Eastbound West Burnside Street at 19th Avenue.

*Northbound Grand Avenue at Southeast Madison Street.

Not only that, but you can look at statistical evidence showing the reduction in red-light running at these intersections. For example, red-light violations fell by a whopping 87 percent at the Northbound Grand Avenue intersection with Burnside in December 2001, compared with a similar 24-hour period before Big Brother started spooking speedsters. Where can I find a cheap dentist?

Those crusty creatures called your teeth may be in need of some serious work. But with the price of dental bills these days, who can afford it? Might as well let 'em rot because you only have to buy dentures, right?

Hold on. A salve for those not-so-pearly whites is as close as the Oregon Health & Science University School of Dentistry. If you don't mind being a guinea pig, that is. Wannabe dentists studying at OHSU need live patients to practice their drilling. That's why the school offers a free evaluation and 30 to 40 percent off the price of the average Portland dentist for any work. What a steal!

To sign up, call the patient clinic (611 SW Campus Drive) at 494-8867 on Aug. 27. That's the only day they're scheduling appointments for September. Of course, you won't be the only one. The school receptionist says more than 250 slots are usually filled four hours after the switchboard opens at 8 am, so practice your speed dialing. Where's the best place to get teeth whitened?

Almost all dental offices now offer a few brightening solutions--generally in the form of take-home hydrogen peroxide whitening gels. The pastes turn oxygen loose on your nibblers for a search-and-destroy mission for nasty discoloration. Sue Richard, who runs the office of Dr. James Frohnmayer (5228 N Lombard St., 289-7043) says that although these take-home bleaches are similar to products like Crest White Strips, office brands like the mint or melon-flavored Opalescence are much stronger and don't leave streaks on teeth. For $195, Dr. Frohnmayer (yes, that Frohnmayer--he is the cousin of University of Oregon President Dave) will take an impression of a patient's upper and lower teeth and make a mold for use with the gel at home. Where can I get the pill cheaply?

You could devote countless hours to complaining that Viagra is covered by health insurance while many plans still don't cover birth-control pills. And even more hours decrying the fact millions of Americans don't have insurance at all. But even if you have health insurance and it covers the pill, it may still be cheaper to get your birth control from Planned Parenthood (call 800-230-PLAN for an appointment at the clinic nearest you). Most insurance companies charge $10-$20 a pack. At Planned Parenthood, you'll pay on a sliding scale starting at nothing and ending at $20. And Planned Parenthood staff will actually spend time talking to you about what method seems most convenient and affordable for you. They're not just dashing off prescriptions. For example, if you want to try a new method called NuvaRing (a flexible, hormone-releasing ring inserted into the vagina), you can get one month free (go to for details). Where can I get an AIDS test?

Perhaps the question you should first ask is, why do you think you need an AIDS test? "Lots of people don't need them," says Thomas Bruner, executive director of Cascade AIDS Project. "Over-anxiety about the issue, or a guilty conscience about behavior engaged in years ago, has led some people to get tested over and over again, when in fact they don't need to. They are the 'worried well.'" Bruner says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate sexually active, non-monogamous gay or bisexual men should be tested routinely, or once a year. "The No. 1 behavior most gay and bisexual men need to be worried about," says Bruner, "is being fucked without a condom." With STD rates on the rise (syphilis has quadrupled in Multnomah County, and HIV infections have risen 7 percent nationally in gay and bisexual men in the past year), Bruner says there are two good places to go.

1. Your county health department's STD clinic. The Multnomah County Health Department tests for HIV as well as other sexually transmitted diseases. At the downtown clinic (426 SW Stark St., sixth floor, 988-3775), walk-in hours are 9 am-12:30 pm and 4-5:30 pm Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. Testing by appointment is 1-5:30 pm Wednesday and 9 am-5:30 pm Friday. Testing is available with your name (confidential) or without (anonymous). Results are available in one week. A $20 fee is requested, but no one is refused service if they cannot pay.

2. Your doctor's office. "Lots of people have never and will never walk through the doors of a county health clinic," says Bruner. For more information on whether or not you should be tested, call CAP's Oregon AIDS Hotline at 223-AIDS. Where do I get a tattoo removed?

Think before you ink, because getting a tattoo taken off is a lot more time-consuming and expensive than getting it put on--and just as painful. Take laser treatments, a procedure that uses pulses of light from a laser to break up the tattoo's color pigment. Over a couple of weeks, the body's scavenger cells remove the treated pigmented areas--think of it as a peeling off a giant sunburn. According to the Key Laser Institute (9555 SW Barnes Road, Suite 390, 291-1953), treatment sessions have a price range of $185 to $450 depending on size, ink depth and color. Reds and blacks are easy, but greens and blues will cost you extra time under the laser beam. Average tattoos require six to eight sessions of 15 to 30 minutes each. That's potentially $3,600 and four hours. Ouch.

But look on the blazing bright side: This non-invasive procedure is better than subjecting oneself to salabrasion. This Old World tattoo removal system involves literally sanding your skin with salt and a wooden block wrapped in gauze until the offending image is a bloody pulp. Or how about excision--cutting out the tattooed flesh and stitching the remaining skin back together? Load up the laser beam, doc, that tribal band is history. Where can I take a class to reinvigorate my sex life?

Squeamish sensualists in need of a libido tune-up can slink into the Sappho-friendly It's My Pleasure (3106 NE 64th Ave., 280-8080). This upscale girly-porn store holds a rotating series of workshops all year long, focusing on hot topics like strap-ons, S&M 101, anal sex, the G-spot and female ejaculation--each at only 10 bucks a tingle. "Nah, no one gets naked," says Brandy Askelson, who teaches the sexy info-only courses. These classes are designed for dirty minds rather than rash deeds. She recommends Sex Toys 101 as a great choice for first-timers because it "isn't anything scary." And ladies, you can even bring your own boy toy. Men are perfectly welcome--if they behave themselves. But if group groping turns you off, try a one-on-one experience with Nancy Wheeler (, 684-4112), a clinical and medical hypnotherapist who has spent the past 15 years relaxing anxiety-riddled early ejaculators and sexual 'fraidy cats. Her private, three- to four-hour hypnotherapy sessions ($250) take place at her Lake Oswego office. It usually only takes one or two of these marathon treatments for patients to start kissin' their subconscious hang-ups about S-E-X goodbye. How can I get medical marijuana?

Need a little bud to ease the pain? As of 1999, the Man says it's OK, but that doesn't mean they're handing out joints on street corners. In accordance with the voter-approved Oregon statute, the application requires written permission from a doctor asserting that you need the weed for a disease or condition. Acceptable conditions include cancer, glaucoma, severe nausea, seizures (epileptic or otherwise) and muscle spasms. More than 1,000 doctors out of 7,000 in Oregon have filled out the recommendation forms. If you're nervous to broach the subject with your own family physician, check out the website for the Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp ( or contact the group at 235-4606. The coalition serves as a clearinghouse for local prescription-pot issues and will give guidance on finding doctors more open to herbal medicine.

You could also all the Hemp and Cannabis Foundation's clinic (4259 NE Broadway, 281-5100) to talk about your condition. The clinic pre-screens patients, but if you pass the gatekeepers, you can schedule an appointment with the three nurse practitioners and two physicians. According to foundation representative Paul Stanford, the clinic has served about 1,500 patients since opening last August. If you meet the criteria, you will receive a little piece of paper ensuring your right to own several plants--enough for personal use--in Oregon only.