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November 25th, 2009 Elizabeth Armstrong Moore | Headout
 

Thanksgiving 2.0

Friends, family and a laptop display of smoked-turkey temperature readings.

     
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Photo of Michael Weinberg by Chris Chen

Thanksgiving is Michael Weinberg’s favorite holiday. It’s not rife with religious complications, it involves spending all day with food and friends, and provides ample opportunity to geek out.

It all started two years ago, Weinberg, systems administrator for Northwest Academy, explains during an outdoor, mid-November prep turkey smoking. He and a group of fellow Reedies (who graduated—two only hypothetically—in 2001) decided to turn their Thanksgiving turkey-smoking tradition into a broadcasted event. The group rigged up a temperature-monitoring system, set up a webcam, and voilà: TurkeyTracker.com was born, replete with imagery and a turkey-temperature tracking chart. Think of it as a high-tech yule log, or better yet, the autumnal holiday version of Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl—with less fur and frolicking.

What began as little more than a silly diversion ended up drawing 200 viewers, which Weinberg points out involved at one point 150 people watching simultaneously. (Yes, part of Thanksgiving now involves watching their traffic with giddy anticipation.) Last year, they were picked up by a New York Times blog and Canada’s version of All Things Considered, and traffic spiked to 15,000 viewers.

This year New Seasons has signed on to sponsor an hour of the broadcast, and the site includes a plea for individuals to pledge a few cents for each visitor. With any luck, the group of friends just might be clinking their glasses of Anchor Brewing’s Merry Christmas & Happy New Year beer in honor of raising a significant sum of money for the Oregon Food Bank.

“As we near Thanksgiving, we’ll be posting a full schedule for the broadcast,” writes Weinberg on the blog, “but in the meantime I can tell you that there will be two dogs running around, we will have a formal parade of appetizers, you’ll be invited to join us in the Turkey Toast, and we’ll have some short talks about Thanksgiving food and beverage pairings.”

If you’d like to follow the smoking of Team Weinberg’s turkey, tune in 10 am-8 pm Thanksgiving day and behold the genius of Wirebird 2.0, the group’s second-generation sensor prototype built around an Arduino device that transfers three temperature readings (ambient, smoker air temp and actual bird temp) to a laptop. You can also join their Twitter feed for real-time updates at twitter.com/turkeytracker. To pledge, go to turkeytracker.com/pledge.

Headout Picks

WEDNESDAY NOV. 25


Best place to see 20-year-olds sing about sex: THE XX
[MUSIC] Buzzed London youngsters the XX like to talk dirty behind spare backdrops that remind us of Young Marble Giants. Just don’t try to buy ‘em a drink! Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside St., 231-9663. 9 pm. $12 advance, $14 day of show. 21+.

THURSDAY NOV. 26


Best place to renew your seasonally appropriate sense of gratitude: THE ROAD
[SCREEN] Tired of your visiting in-laws? Spend two hours with Viggo Mortensen, who thinks he’ll have to shoot his son in the head after his wife left him to be eaten by cannibals. Your problems ain’t shit, dude. Regal Fox Tower Stadium 10, 846 SW Park Ave., 221-3280. See here for review. $10.50.

FRIDAY NOV. 27


Best way to get double merry: MACY’S HOLIDAY PARADE/TREE LIGHTING CEREMONY
[FESTIVE] In the morning, marching bands, floats and “festive inflatables” take over downtown Portland; come dusk, the city sets a 75-foot Douglas fir ablaze with lights. Parade 8:45 am. Visit macys.com/events for route info. Tree lighting at Pioneer Courthouse Square, 701 SW 6th Ave. 5:30 pm. Both events free.

Best queer-themed fantasy metal festival: FANTASY QUEST
[MUSIC] The only event this weekend to feature both tarot readings and guitar solos. Get your Xena costumes ready, ‘cause Xmas is coming early this year for D&D heads. Liberty Hall, 311 N Ivy St., 249-8888. 7:45 pm. $7. 21+.

Best place to see a lot of pussy: TIGER LILLY AND SUNNY LU
[DANCE] Do Jump!’s new show, “based on the memoirs of Sunny Lu (a beautiful orange tabby cat),” features four performers with enormous tails and a score by Klezmocracy. Echo Theater, 1515 SE 37th Ave., 231-1232. 7:30 pm Friday-Saturday, 3 pm Sunday. $20-$32.

SATURDAY NOV. 28


Best excuse for missing your AA meeting: DRUNKENF***ER
[STAGE] A solo show, written and performed by Canadian actor Sean Bowie, about being a drunken fucker who ruins the holidays and destroys everything he touches. Theater! Theatre!, 3430 SE Belmont St. 8 pm Friday-Saturday. $15.

MONDAY NOV. 30


Best chance to meet your dream rock nerd: MORRISSEY
[MUSIC] The Moz (and his ambiguous sexuality) is in town. Roseland, 8 NW 6th Ave., 224-2038. 8 pm. $49.50. All ages.
 
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