Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Montgomery Building

Montgomery Court was constructed in two phases between 1916 and 1925. It has four stories and a basement, gross square footage is 43,320 square feet. This lovely historic building (dorm) was designed by distinguished Portland architect A.E. Doyle in 1916.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Blackstone Building

This five-story building is located in the Park Blocks, just north of Millar Library, and was built in 1931. Located in the heart of campus, according to Portland State Housing Office, Blackstone residents can enjoy being in the center of everything from Portland's Saturday Farmer's Market to concerts and art fairs. I think it means it's a "little" noisy sometimes.

I don't know why they named it 'Blackstone'. Black Stone is an Islamic object of reverence, which dates back to the time of Adam and Eve. It is the eastern cornerstone of the Kaaba, in Mecca. The Stone is roughly 30 cm (12 in.) in diameter, and 1.5 meters (5 ft.) above the ground. According to Islamic tradition, the Stone fell from Heaven to show Adam and Eve where to build an altar and offer a sacrifice to God. The Altar became the first temple on Earth.

In the pre-Islamic era, the legend of the Black Stone Pyramid is not considered to be a well-known pyramid. The legend states that somewhere in the Egyptian desert, there are/were the largest pyramids of the Egyptian rule. These legends also relate that the Gods built these pyramids before humans were living in Egypt from an unknown black stone. Each pyramid was almost double the size of The Great Pyramid in Giza with similar shape.

Anyway, there is a very long history behind this one name, 'Black Stone'. I don't think if many of the students who live in that building know about this. Maybe not. What about you? Did you know about it?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Spring 6th day (March 26): Red Flowers & Mansur Hallaj

Today is the 1086th death anniversity of Mansur Hallaj.

Mansur Hallaj (c. 858 - March 26, 922) was a Persian mystic, writer and teacher of Sufism most famous for his apparent, but disputed, self-proclaimed divinity, his poetry and for his execution for heresy after a long, drawn-out investigation.

He became famous because of his controversial statement: "I am The Truth", which was taken to mean that he was claiming to be God. While many Sufis theorize that Hallaj was a reflection of God's truth in much the same way Christians view Jesus, scholars of the well-established Islamic schools of thought continue to see him as a heretic and a deviant.

Rumi wrote on the claim "I am God" three centuries later:

People imagine that it is a presumptive claim, whereas it is really a presumptive claim to say "I am the slave of God"; and "I am God" is an expression of great humility. The man who says "I am the slave of God" affirms two existences, his own and God's, but he that says "I am God" has made himself non-existent and has given himself up and says "I am God", that is, "I am naught, He is all; there is no being but God's." This is the extreme of humility and self-abasement.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Grotto

I'm glad that I have the chance to visit amazing places in Portland; thanks to the spring break. It is rainy but I'm decided to go. I checked the google map to find out where it is located and how I should get there. Bus number 12 to Sandy Boulevard is the only bus goes there. It took near half an hour to get there. I looked around my desk to find some changes for the bus, only $2. I made a small sandwich. I also took a bottle of water and put them with my camera and a tripod into my back pack. As light as possible: just something to eat, drink and taking photos. It was 12:30 that I left my place.

Welcome to "The Grotto", a place of solitude, peace and prayer. It was interesting that I visited a Judaism-related place, the Holocaust Memorial, yesterday and a Christianity-related place today. It must be a wonderful visit.

A very white Christ cross was the first thing I saw when I entered the site of the Grotto. It reminded me my red covered bible with its golden edge papers. It also reminded me all the 'Nikos Kazantzakis' books that I've read specially The Greek Passion which is my favorite book.

Carrying the cross? Oh, I used to have small cross, made of Armenian balck stone, hangs on the rear-view mirror of my car. I bought it from the Vank church in Esfahan, Iran, when I visited there in 2004.

A grotto was hewn from the base of the 110-foot basalt cliff where an alter was constructed, above which was placed a full-sized replica of Michelangelo's Pieta. This became the sanctuary for an outdoor church where Sunday Mass has been celebrated during summer months ever since.

Michelangelo's Pieta

Meditation Chapel

The Marilyn Moyer Meditation Chapel's north wall is constructed entirely of glass, offering an unobstructed panoramic view of the Cascade Mountain Range. The Chapel is dedicated to motherhood.

Okay I have to go. Papa is coming to pick me and some other international students up to go to the coast! Hoooooooooray! I haven't been to the Oregon coast yet. See you.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Life was uncertain and still is!

I was so excited that it's not rainy (half-cloudy) and I have some time after a while to go out to enjoy the life: to walk and ride my bike somewhere out of downtown. I chose Washington Park. I haven't been there since I've come to Portland; I just once visited Japanese Garden and Rose Test Garden which are located somewhere in a corner of Washington Park.

I didn't know Washington Park has a memorial. "Life was uncertain." This was the most simple and impressive sentence I've read about this. However, life is still uncertain I believe, not only for them but also for so many other people in the world.

Beneath this rock are interred soil and ash from the six killing-center camps of that:
Chelmno, Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzec, Majdanek, Auschwitz-Birkenau

The wall looks like the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. A half circle wall, covered with shiny black stone full of names on one side.

It was the "Oregon Holocaust Memorial".

I visited there as a young man who is from a county whose current president denied holocaust but their people feel sympathy. "We should speak out if even a single Jew is killed. We follow a religion that states that the death of an innocent person is the death of all of humanity.” This is what Khatami, the former president of Iran, said but who reported this worlwide? no one.

We should also remember all the innocent people who have been killed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Palestine, Lebanon, Gaza, New York, Cambodia and any other places. "No one's blood is more colory than any other's" to be valued more or less. Hope not to see any other massacre in the world.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Hello Spring!

Tonight is March 19, 2009. I landed in the U.S. exactly six months ago, September 19, 2008. I moved to this land in the first day of fall and now we are in the first day of spring. Six months have passed quickly.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Happy Nowruz

This is a photo that my brother took of his "Haft-Sin" table two years ago in 2007. Happy Nowruz! Happy New Year to everyone! Happy Spring! Friday will be the first day of spring and the first day of Iranian new year!

Haft-Sin (or literally the seven 'S's table) is a major tradition of Nowruz, the traditional Iranian new year. It has a complex history and there are indication referring to Kayanids, a semi-mythological dynasty of Greater Iranian tradition and folklore. Today the Haft-Sin table includes seven items specifically starting with the letter S (or Sin in Persian alphabet).

The Haft Sin items are:

Sabzeh (سبزه) - wheat, barley or lentil sprouts growing in a dish - symbolizing rebirth
Samanu (سمنو)- a sweet pudding made from wheat germ - symbolizing affluence
Senjed (سنجد)- the dried fruit of the oleaster tree - symbolizing love
Sir (سیر)- garlic - symbolizing medicine
Sib (سیب)- apples - symbolizing beauty and health
Somaq (سماق)- sumac berries - symbolizing (the color of) sunrise
Serkeh (سرکه)- vinegar - symbolizing age and patience

If you google "Haft Sin" images, you'll find different Haft-Sin tables which look much nicer than ours in this photo. I highly encourage you to google (image search) it.

Persian New Year - March 21, 2008
Persian New Year - March 21, 2007
Persian New Year - March 21, 2006
Persian New Year - March 20, 2005
Persian New Year - March 20, 2004

In the last couple of years, the Google search engine has launched its Nowruz logo with the advent of the occasion that marks the beginning of a new calendar year in Iran.
The engine also included the Haft Seen table on its logo and used images of apple, vinegar, and freshly grown greens, each representing the Haft Seen items.

Nowruz, which means new day in Farsi, is celebrated across a vast region from largely Kurdish areas of northern Iraq and Turkey to central Asian countries and western China.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Shamrock Run

Sunday, March 15
Waterfront Park -- Downtown Portland

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Side Trip to Iran: A Real Journey to Biblical Times

To most Jews around the world, the Purim story happened somewhere far away in an unknown city with the fairy-tale sounding name of Shushan. But what if you knew Shushan as a real city as close as New York or Boston? What if Esther grew up in Chicago or you could visit her grave in Washington, D.C.?

Purim makes Iranians proud because Esther comes from their country. Esther, meaning 'star' in Persian [Ashtar or Akhtar], was beautiful, brave and smart enough to know how to live in two worlds. This is wisdom.

Esther and Mordechai’s tomb is located in the crowded city of Hamadan, where Avicenna is also buried.

Esther and Mordechai’s Shrine

The door, a 6-8 inch thick piece of solid gray granite with a rough surface, opens into a small anteroom. A soot-blackened glass separates visitors from a space designated for candle lighting. The plaster walls have Hebrew inscriptions.

An arch with plaster ornaments directs visitors into a high ceiling square room whose walls are decorated with Hebrew reliefs describing Esther and Mordechai' origins.

In the center, the two beautifully carved wood coffers stand five feet high, draped in shimmering vibrant color cloth, one reading “Ester;” the other “Mordekhay.” The original graves are located deeper below in the ground.

Esther and Mordechai’s Tombs

Like other historic monuments, the tomb has been victim to theft and vandalism. One surviving treasure is a magnificent 300-year-old Torah that is now housed in a modern cabinet.

Mordechai and Esther are not alone. There are also other historic Biblical tombs in Iran.

The prophet Daniel (Damal-e Nabi) (c. 540 b.c.e.) was born in Shushan (Susa), and prophesied in the decade 545-35 b.c.e. The 22nd book of the Bible bears his name, and his tomb is located in Shoush.

Tomb of Prophet Daniel

The prophet Habakuk (c. 600 b.c.e.) descended from Jewish exiles in Babylon. The 8th book of the Bible bears his name. A shrine is dedicated to him in Tuy-serkan, western Iran.

Tomb of Prophet Hayghugh (or Habakuk?)

*** UPDATE: I haven't ever been to Tuyserkan but it seems the photos below belong to another biblical site NOT the prophet Habakuk in Iran. I did a small research and I found that these photos may belong to another tomb named after Prophet Habakuk in Galilee, Israel.

Tomb of Prophet Habakuk (Galilee, Israel?)

Pasargadae is the first capital of Achaemenian empire. Achaemenians under the rule of Cyrus The Great established the Persian empire. Cyrus is highly regarded as a King who favored all faiths including the Judaism equally. When he conquered the empire Babylonia in 538 B.C., he freed all Jews. Cyrus because of his respect for local customs and religions of different parts of his vase empire, is highly regarded as a liberator, rather than a conqueror. Pasargadae has always been an attractive place for the Jewish community from all over the world to visit. A little northeast of Pasargadae, is a large stone platform on a hill known as the Takht-e- Madar-e- Soleiman (Throne of the Mother of Solomon). Jews also visit this place to pay their respect.

Tomb of Cyrus the Great

Throne of the Mother of Solomon

Throne of the Mother of Solomon

1. http://www.jewish-holiday.com/iranthen.html
2. http://www.darwantour.com/JewishTour.htm
3. http://www.overthehorizon.net/iran.html
4. http://www.israelinphotos.com/tour-TombofHabakuk.htm

Photos by:
http://fz-az.fotopages.com/?entry=900076 (Fariborz and Friends)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Omar Khayyam's Quatrains (Rubaiyat)

The Israel Antiquities Authority announced the discovery in Jerusalem of a rare inscription on 12th or 13th century pottery: part of Omar Khayyam's Rubaiyat! To read more about this interesting news, please have a look at Dina's photoblog, Jerusalem Hills Daily Photo.

Omar Khayyam's Rubaiyat is one of the few books that I've brought with myself to the U.S. from Iran. It was actually a gift from two of my friends, Bahador and Javad, when we met each other for the last time. I hope to see them again. This wonderful book has the English translation of Khayyam's Rubaiyat in addition to the original Persian poems with lots of miniatures all around the book.

I'd like to present this book with all its lovely poems and amazing miniatures to my lovely friend, my dear aunt, Dina, and all her Israeli's and Jewish people. A small gift for her to celebrate the Purim festival. Happy Purim!

Click on photos to enlarge to see the beautiful details of the miniatures.