Friday, December 19, 2008

The King And I


Roy Hobbs was The Natural.

Roi is the French word for King.

Brandon Roy is often referred to with the title, The Natural, and he just took his place in Blazers Royalty with a 52-point performance on Thursday night against the Phoenix Suns.

Roy is a gifted basketball player. He can score, shoot, pass, defend, handle the ball, penetrate and create his own shot. He has no weakness. He doesn’t make many mistakes and the ones he does are minor. He has a superior basketball mind and is tough mentally to take over games.

I’ve been surprised by Roy at every turn. Coming out of the University of Washington (I hate UW) he had some promise but most of us didn’t know much about him. His teams at UW were very good his last two years and he was an All-American. He stayed in school for all four years and it showed when he reached the pros.

His rookie year he looked like a very solid, but unspectacular player. He did a lot of good things on the court, but I figured this was what he was. 17 points per game, decent shooting, 4 rebounds, 4 assists. Good numbers for the #2 guy on a team, which is what I figured he would be.

His second season, they turned the team over to him and almost all of his numbers improved. He made the All-Star team. Again, I said to myself that this was the best we’d see from Roy. He’d be just less than 20 points per game and just fewer than 5 rebounds and 5 boards. But he still wasn’t displaying the athleticism that most game-changing players provide.

I was so wrong about him.

This season he is taking the burden of this entire franchise on his back and he is thriving. 23.4 points per game, leadership, game changing performances night in and night out and he’s currently having the best stretch of any Blazers player since Clyde Drexler in the early 90’s. Maybe the best stretch ever. I didn’t think he had another level to go to and he clearly does. I’m trying to find a single player to compare him to and am failing. There may not be a direct comparison available. He’s part Larry Bird, part Terry Porter, part Gary Payton, part Reggie Miller.

It’s so fun being a Blazers fan these days.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

My Plan To Fix The Economy


I just sent the following to President Elect Obama's team. It's important to note that I do not address the politics of my plan. There will be lots of upset people whose only benefit would be a stable nation and economy (no big deal...) But the plan would work, I am confident of it.

"If there were a way to get the vast majority of mortgages in foreclosure to resume their monthly payments would it have an impact on the troubled economy?

There is a way to do this with prudent, responsible investment from the Federal Government in our banking institutions.

The premise is to use federal funds to create an endowment to assist both the banks and the troubled borrowers. The endowment would be invested in the banks that need capital to loan as normal. The interest generated by these deposits would be routed to the Fed to then assist homeowners in making their mortgage payments.

If we invested $400 billion dollars at 3.5% annually it would generate about $1.2 billion per month in interest. The interest would then be used to assist a troubled borrower in making their mortgage payment. If an average borrower is in need of an additional $500 to make their payments this investment could help over 2.3 million average borrowers. If a rate of return of 4.0% was possible, this investment could assist over 2.6 million average borrowers. The more money invested and the higher the rate of return the more troubled homeowners could be helped. Banks could even compete for these deposits by guaranteeing higher returns over time.

This program does not buy out a mortgage, nor does it make the homeowners entire payment. They are still making a monthly payment of what they can reasonably afford. This would just bridge the gap between what they owe and what they can pay.

This program would get the money flowing back into the bank on the front end, with both what the borrower can repay and what the program can do to cover the gap. Plus the banks receive the initial deposits to help them lend.

Over time, as property values stabilize and hopefully increase, participants would be offered refinance options to reduce their need for assistance and eventually be out of the program entirely. As assistance is reduced, the original investment could be withdrawn slowly and repaid to the Fed.

The risk to the taxpayer is small. The benefit to our economy is massive. People keep their homes, their jobs and their dignity, banks have money to lend and have vastly fewer mortgages in default."

B!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Time For Thanks


The list, in no particular order:

Freedom: so much of our liberties have been under attack both as a consequence of our enemies and as a consequence of our own government. Enough. I like my freedom and I like yours too.

Portland: I love this city so much.

Family: I don't see or talk to them enough but I value each and every one of them.

The future: My hope and optimism is as high as it's been in decades.

Heather: What can I say about her. One of the greatest souls I've ever encountered. She lights me up.

Taste buds: I love good flavors so much.

Imagination: this one cognitive tool keeps me going sometimes.

Friends: keep me on my toes.

Timbers: one love.

Blazers: another love.

B!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Dawning of A New Day


A transformative night.

A transformative candidate.

Barack Obama did something that many didn't think was possible. He lifted a majority of US citizens beyond and above the racial divide.

As I took it all in last night I was again struck by the idea that our society has come so far. I thought of Jackie Robinson who broke the color barrier in baseball. Jackie had to be so tough that he wouldn't fight - turned the other cheek. He took the abuse so that the other great players to come wouldn't have to. It didn't hurt that he was also one of the best baseball players to ever play the game.

I've pondered whether Obama is the Jackie Robinson of US Politics. And I've decided that he is not. Men like Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X and countless others whose sacrifices were so profound played that role. Barack Obama is more akin to Henry Aaron: able to achieve greatness because the barrier had been diminished.

But there was another player in US politics who should not be left out of this: Jesse Jackson. The moment of last night for me was not Obama's speech and it was less the anouncement of the victory. The moment for me was Jesse Jackson fighting back the cascade of tears glistening in the night light in Chicago. His lip trembling and his emotions raw. This is a man who lived the struggle and most of his past tears have been shed in sadness. Those tears last night were totally different.

That image will stay with me as we proceed through the next four years.

Fired up! Ready to go!

B!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day!



Seen on my way to work today:

1 Dennis Kucinich bumper sticker
1 McCain/Palin bumper sticker
5 Obama/Biden bumper stickers

I live in Portland.

Also, On a corner of Canyon Road three people waving signs for Rep. David Wu. Upon closer inspection, it was David Wu. 7:28am.

I love living in Portland.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Springsteen for Obama

Bruce speaks about the promise of the American Dream


Bruce plays his passionate song of redemption, 'The Rising'

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Politics and The Media

I've been delving into polls and blogs and news sites leading up to the election. Today I found an interview with Joe Biden with Barbara West on WFTV channel in Florida conducted on October 23rd. It's been getting a bit of buzz on the interwebs. She's conducted interviews with Obama, Biden and McCain previously. Check these out and let me know what you think of her questions and the responses to them.

Oct. 23 Joe Biden interview

Sept. 12 Barack Obama interview

Sept. 26 Joe Biden interview

Oct. 14 John McCain interview

Friday, October 3, 2008

VP Debate at the Bagdad Theater

I've mostly avoided politics on my blog (and avoided the blog for far too long, sorry). I've got some family and friends who disagree with me politically and I try to be sensitive to their views.

But enough is enough.

Sarah Palin is an insult as a candidate.

As I watched the VP debate at the Bagdad Theater in Portland I was awestruck at her refusal to answer the direct questions. Either she didn't have a clue as to the context of them or she out and out has no respect for the debate, the voters or the truth. At one point I had to pull out my John McEnroe voice and scream "ANSWER THE QUESTION!!!!"

Sure, she looked pretty and used her folksy language to her benefit. But all in all she was not prepared to debate and is in no way prepared to be on a national ticket. McCain made the wrong move in choosing her and it will cost him the election.

Her rambling spewing of Republican talking points was to be expected. But even I thought she would answer the questions, albeit poorly. But she didn't even do that. Was that smart?

I used this analogy last night that she looked like someone who was coming into a job interview who was not even close to being qualified for the job. Her ramblings had that effect on me.

Biden answered questions. Gave details. Talked about specific changes and differences. And he didn't attack Palin, rather he attacked McCain. That was smart. He looked presidential.

I doubt that I am going to change anyone's votes. Those in the right wing believe in their agenda even though the agenda under Bush has been skewed full of lies, illegal conduct and downright failures on every front. But I question their concern for the country when they would support someone as unprepared as Sarah Palin on their ticket. This country is in need of real leadership and she is not the answer. Most of them know it. So I challenge them to have the guts to do what is right and either force McCain to drop Palin or choose to vote in another direction. Ron Paul is still on the ballot and he's a better conservative than either of the two on the GOP ticket. So make yourselves heard and vote Ron Paul.

Or better yet, use your heads and vote Obama/Biden.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

One Vote, One Prayer

Some evangelicals are praying for rain in Denver tonight. Rain to squelch the Democratic National Convention in the open air of Invesco Field.

You've got to be kidding me.

When the rain doesn't come, what does that mean for this evangelical and their God? Seems like it might be considered an endorsement for Barack Obama, no?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

R.I.P. City

Kevin Duckworth b. April 1, 1964 - d. August 25, 2008.

Kevin Duckworth has died. Sometime Monday at the Oregon Coast.

Duck was a Portland legend. Seven feet tall and close to 300 pounds when he played he was both intimidating and gentle. One of the nicest and most emotionally honest athletes ever to come through Portland.

I have several fond connections to Duck.

In 1988 I bought my first Blazers Authentic Jersey. I had a choice between Clyde Drexler’s #22 and Kevin Duckworth’s #00. I chose Duck. It cost all of $45 new at the time. I have long since outgrown that jersey, but I will never part with it.

When I worked for the Blazers, my producer knew of my attachment to Duckworth and at the end of the 2001 season she presented me with his game used warmups from 1992-1993. He was one big dude.

In 2001 when the Blazers retired Clyde Drexler’s number I got a chance to chat with Duckworth. He was as cordial and gentle that night as he ever was. I will always remember his easy smile.

Kevin wasn’t enough of a legendary player to have his jersey number retired. But he was enough of a legendary person to have a place of honor by the Blazers. The early fan input is that the team name their community service award and program for him. They could re-name the Blazers Boys and Girls Club on MLK in his honor. There are lots of good ideas. But please, do something.

R.I.P. City for Duck. R.I.P.

B!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

It's Just A Flesh Wound

Apologies for the lack of blog posts lately. I’ve had a new version of tunnel vision and it’s had an unintentional consequence of slower than slow blog entries.

Why?

Surgery.

Before Friday, July 11 I’d never had surgery before. Heck, I’d only had three stitches ever in my life. But hernia surgery is different. I’ve definitely had more stitches. Many which I can’t see.

Here’s the skinny. Just below my belly button Dr. Cook made a small semi-circular incision. Maybe inches in length. Through this small opening he reset my insides which we’re exposed through the small defect in my abdominal muscles. He then inserted a small mesh patch and stitched it to the muscles.

The idea is that the scar tissue that results from the stitches will secure the mesh in place which will, in turn, secure my insides where they belong.

Overall, the surgery appears to be a success. I lost three days to the drugs and pain. I’ve been very, very tired. My belly button is now an innie again. The bruising on my stomach was incredible and is now slowly receding, as is the pain.

I’m glad I had the surgery. I think in the short and long term it will improve my quality of life (which overall is pretty darn good anyway). But it currently is limiting my physical activity – specifically soccer and bike riding. I’ll be playing in my first rec soccer matches in decades this fall, but I’m stuck on the sidelines until I have a greater range of motion. The new bike is in the basement for weeks, if not months. Ah well. Those are the breaks.

Regardless, I feel good enough to blog about it. I’m off the habit-forming drugs provided. I’m icing my wound regularly. My insides itch. Fun times.

B!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Morning Bizarre

I was driving to work this morning and had just turned off of Highway 217 onto Canyon Rd. I pulled up to a stoplight and heard the noise coming out of the sound system of the vehicle to my left.

Now usually this is the thumpa-thumpa of some sub-woofer enclosure and some version of the latest rap classic coming through the speakers. But not today.

I turned to my left and saw a late 90’s green, dusty, Ford Taurus wagon. The passenger window was down and the driver, about my age, a bit disheveled in the hair and wearing some type of uniform with badges on the sleeve, was singing along with the music:

It was rhythmic.

It was droning.

It was clearly making him happy.

It was drill chants from the U.S. Marine Corps. No joke. This guy’s morning pick-me-up was to relive his time as a Marine plebe at 7:20 am.

As he pulled away I noticed the back of the Taurus had several U.S. Marine stickers, including one that said LIVING LIFE one kill at a time.

I love Portland.

Semper Fi.

B!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Bits And Pieces

Weekend Update

Summer seems to have finally arrived. Better temperatures, some humidity, barbecues. I’m not a fan of super hot weather, but anything right around 80 degrees will work for me.

Yesterday I had Heather and some of her friends over for a quick cookout before heading to The Rose City Rollers Roller Derby Bout at the Expo Center.

I’d seen roller derby on TV and I have a fondness for sports entertainment of many kinds so I was very excited about seeing it live. Fun times. The expo center is the perfect venue for it: plenty of space, easy to get to, etc. There were four teams in competition. I couldn’t intuit all of the rules but the basics were easy enough to follow. Great crowd too: Hipster doofuses, lesbians, fathers, daughters. A perfect patchwork of Portland.

Heather and her friends all came up with their own Roller Derby names. Heather’s is ‘Smack N’ Cheez’. Funny stuff.

Cut To The Chase

I’ve got surgery scheduled. July 11. Here’s the deal: When I put on too much weight several years ago I created a small umbilical hernia. Now these things aren’t dangerous (as long as they’re small, like mine) but they get to be very uncomfortable. I’ve had a hard time lifting, moving, bending, etc as a result of this unwelcome guest.

So, this nice and amusing doctor is going to shave parts of my chest hair, put a small semi-circular incision around my belly button, and insert a piece of Gore-Tex mesh to repair the abdominal weakness. It’s supposed to only take 30-40 minutes and is an outpatient procedure. So, no big deal as far as surgeries go, right? I have to decide whether to use a local or take the general. All things being equal I’ve been advised to take the local, as it’s less disorienting as you regain you feeling. What do you think?

Anyway, it’s a bit of a big deal for me. I’m not a big fan of the doctor world. But the discomfort has really started to bug me.

B!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Intermission

It seems like taking a break is contagious around here.

Some goings on in the world that is my world:

I’m heading to Bend this weekend for nephew’s birthday, friend’s birthday and some quality time with the family and with Heather. Heather’s met the folks and an aunt and uncle. Now she’ll meet Stu, Melissa, the boys and a zillion friends that I’ve known for a good long time. I know she’s up to the task as she’s such a sport, but it’s still a bit daunting.

I’m having surgery. Nothing major. In my weight gain of the last 8-10 years I developed an umbilical hernia. It’s been bothering me a lot lately so the Doctor’s and I have decided to get it fixed. The surgery takes only 30-45 minutes and I should be back on my functional feet in a few days and fully active within a 4-6 weeks. I’ve got to negotiate the scheduling of it, what with summer weddings, plans and all. Oh, and work. Can’t forget about work.

Tuesday, June 10 The Portland Timbers will play Hollywood United in the U.S. Open Cup. Hollywood United is a club team from Los Angeles that was founded by some actors and rock stars. They are a cut above your local pub team and word is that they are bringing some of their big names to PDX on the 10th. Anthona Lapaglia is the current owner of the squad. Pretty cool. What’s also pretty cool is that I will be in the broadcast booth for the match. I’ll be doing play-by-play on the USLLive broadcast. The match will only be available On Demand once it’s completed but it’s still a great opportunity for me to re-test my skills and continue to slowly re-engage myself in the broadcast biz.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Self-Inflicted Wounds

I think I just pepper-sprayed myself.

OK. Not actual pepper spray, but I rubbed my eye a few minutes ago and immediately it started burning with the intensity of a thousand suns. Holy hell it hurt.

And now, after several minutes and about a gallon of water, the pain and burn is subsiding.

I had cut up two Anaheim peppers earlier tonight to add to pasta sauce. I must've had a small amount of oil on my hands and it imbedded itself in my right eye.

I hope I never, ever have to feel this sensation again. Ever. Again.

Amen.

B!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Great Restaurant Experiment

Dating can be daunting. Uncertain. Uncomfortable. Incompatible. Awkward.

But it can also be awesome. Ossom. Ossum.

Over the past month Heather and I have spent a good amount of time at various restaurants and watering holes around town. I’ve tried to couple this with my goal to visit new restaurants regularly. It seems to be working well. Heather’s also vegetarian so it’s required me to re-think food and cooking and recipes which has quite a bit of merit. Here are the places we’ve visited and what we thought of each of them. Heather’s input is in blue.

Bye And Bye (new to me)

This bar/restaurant is nestled up off of NE 10th and Alberta. It’s apparently a vegan restaurant although we did not sample the food. There’s a nice back patio, roomy airy interior with a few nooks and spaces plus a painting of Evel Knievel on the wall. A nice selection of beers, I had Amnesia Brewing’s Red, if memory serves. The clientele is your usual bar crowd of mostly hipster doofuses and proud lesbians, but the vibe was very relaxed and casual. I liked this place a lot. I'm a big fan of the Bye and Bye - and not just because it's three blocks from my house. Even though there are hipsters galore, it has a nice mellow feel with really great staff. The vegan food can be a turn-off for some of my non-veggie friends, but I find it quite tasty- particularly the veggie 'meatball' sub. Next time I'm trying the vegan white russian...

Trebol

I’ve been wanting to try Trebol for several months. It bills itself as sustainable NW Mexican food which is my kind of unique. We shared tortillas and guacamole. The guac was mild but very fresh and the small tortillas were very tasty. I had the fish tostadas. They were good but did not knock my socks off. I also had a mango margarita (late happy hour, $4). Remind me to stay away from house specialty drinks as it was just too sweet for my tastes. Overall this is a place I liked and will probably love once I find the dish or two that really speak to me. Very crisp environment inside; dark enough for intimate conversation but not the heavy darkness that makes you suffocate. They had surfing on the bar TV which Heather enjoyed. Paddle. Paddle. Paddle. It's true, I loved that they had surfing looping on the bar TV.Trebol's late night happy hour was a plus, I had an excellent (although petite) house margarita. I honestly can't remember what I ate (some type of enchilada with squash?? it was tasty, whatever it was. this is why i am not a good food/restaurant critic) And they had a wide range of unique veggie options.

The Pelican Brewery (not new)

It’s hard to resist the Pelican when you visit Pacific City. Great beers. A fantastic setting. Good food. It is way overpriced, but sometimes you just don’t care about that. It was our waiter’s second day and he did a good job for being a noob. But the next time I’m in Pacific City we’ll hit The Sportsman which is where the locals congregate. I have to order onion rings if they are on a menu. Have to. The onion rings were good but not great, certainly not $10.95 great. My turkey sandwich was fantastic. LOVE the view and the beer, but the food - especially for veggies - is not the greatest. But really, who cares when you are in such an absolutely beautiful location. It was a little chilly to sit outside on the deck - which is really the ideal spot at the Pelican.

Vendetta (not new)

I consider this my local. But it’s not a pub in the traditional sense. Very similar to the Bye And Bye. Hipster Doofuses abound. There is a definite Portland vibe to it that I enjoy. The food is marginal and they took mac and cheese off the menu, which is bizarre as it was the best dish available. Service here sucks – the staff are great, but they funnel all of the orders through a single line at the bar and it bottlenecks badly. I wish they’d change that. Back patio is awesome on a hot night. Great, diverse music through their sound system, shuffleboard, no TVs, tons of interesting art on the walls. This is a place to hang out and it serves that purpose well. I'm still sad they ditched the mac and cheese, but I had a rather tasty "Sloppy Jane" sandwich. They just need to finish up that patio bar so the service isn't so painfully slow...and beware of those picnic tables! They are very uneven and can cause even the most sober of people to spill their full beer (not that i'm speaking from experience).

Lovely Hula Hands (new to me)

Dave of DaveKnowsPortland swears by this restaurant so I was happy to finally visit it. It’s a cozy, small interior with a patio that is just now opening for the season. There is often a wait for a table but we were seated quickly. Super friendly staff who seem to really enjoy and believe in what they do. They rotate the menu regularly so there is constant variety. Makers Mark Old Fashioned was perfect. I had the white sausage with greens and mashed potatoes with a smother of coarse ground mustard, a sprinkle of brown sauce and butter. It was ridiculously good. I drank the recommended Chardonnay as if it was water. This place is fantastic. I wish they had a small bar and a late happy hour because I would become a regular in a heartbeat. As it is it’s a perfect date restaurant. Lovely Hula Hands was quite lovely (ha!). I had only eaten there once before - when they were still in the old location. We were hoping the patio would be open but no such luck. But we had a wonderful meal - I started with the Lovely Hula Hoop cocktail and rosemary foccacia. There were only one or two veggie options (which I always say makes life so much easier, none of those tough decisions at restaurants!). I had the penne pasta with asparagus in a creamy mint sauce - absolutely delicious!

East India Company

This is a brand new Indian restaurant on SW 11th Ave behind the Multnomah County Library. Dark woods cover the bar area and the dining area contains plush booths, low lighting and dark tables. The bathrooms are super fancy. The entire place screams that it’s trying to be a high profile joint. They do a daily happy hour from 4-7 so we ordered off of the happy hour menu. Each dish is just $3. The portions ranged from too few (potato cakes) to too many (chicken wings) but most of the dishes were fantastic in their flavor. Flatbread with a spicy dipping sauce. Fried vegetables served with brown sauce and mint. Fishskewers with brown sauce and mint. The lone underwhelming dish were the fish, which were fine but unexceptional. I made the mistake of ordering the Calcutta chili-tini – which was light and crisp but the Serrano pepper and cucumber essences did not hit the spot. Overall this is a great place for happy hour food. We’ll try a meal there soon. I was very impressed with their Happy Hour - in part because they have a Saturday Happy Hour from 4-7, which rocks. And three out of five of the options were veggie, so we just ordered one of everything. I was a happy camper with my mango margarita and tasty veggie treats (my favorite was the fried veggies - aka Indian Tempura).

Gravy (not new)

This is my most convenient breakfast spot. Good food. Huge portions. I am partial to the veggie gravy and biscuits as they make me feel healthy. There is always a wait and service can be a bit inconsistent but it’s got good options for me as I don’t eat eggs in their native forms. In addition to the biscuits I usually get a potato portion – house potatoes or shredded browns - and some bacon. The shredded browns are quite good for basic taters. They cook them in small cast iron skillets which produce a great crisp shell and soft interior. On my endless quest for the best veggie biscuits and gravy in Portland, I'd say Gravy comes in second to Cup and Saucer. I absolutely love breakfast food (eggs eggs eggs) and going out to breakfast, but I get cranky with waiting for 1-2 hours to actually eat. And sadly, most of the great breakfast joints in Portland have ridiculous lines on Saturday and Sunday. Gravy wasn't too bad and at least it was a lovely day to sit outside and soak up the sun while waiting.

So, That's what we've got for you. More new restaurants to try. More reviews to come.
B! & H!

Monday, May 19, 2008

What? Me Quit?

I am a quitter.

I really enjoyed doing Portland Men On Sports. I really did. But I had to quit. At least as a regular host. My reasons are many.

1) Cable TV. Ironically, the show is on westside cable only. I live on the eastside. Plus I don’t even have cable so I can’t watch the show.
2) But lack of cable led to something else. I was finding that I was less informed than my co-host. Way, less informed. And that led to sloppy opinions and bad TV. Sure the internet gives lots of information but you have to seek it out a bit more than a nightly broadcast of SportsCenter.
3) Time. The show did not require tremendous time to produce, but prep work and the blog that we were trying to produce stretched me more than I wanted.
4) Fairness. It just wasn’t fair to the producer and co-host to have me do the job halfway.

There’s a chance I’ll do a guest spot every now and then or maybe a Timbers minute but not the regular show on a regular basis.

I am not a quitter.

1) I am still blogging here. Sparser than before, but still here.
2) I hope to blog more on Oregonlive.
3) The 107 Report is still going strong, maybe better than ever.

In addition to these things, my social life is also ridiculously active. Between quality time with several vital groups of friends I’ve also been introduced to a great woman, Heather, who has quickly become a constant companion. I won’t blog too much about her or the relationship, as that’s not really a comfort zone, but those of you that have met her know how great she is; full of life and smiles and laughter. Plus she’s super smart and we sometimes hold hands.

B!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

One Person. One Vote.

One of my favorite things to do. Or it used to be.

There was a time when those of us in Oregon would gather at the polling place and fill out our ballots and tuck them in the big box using the secrecy sleeve. I felt a part of a community. I felt equal. I felt valuable.

Now we vote by mail.

It just doesn’t feel the same.

There are some good arguments for vote by mail; Higher participation. Time to review the pamphlets and guides. No interruption to your workday. No lines.

But there are some drawbacks too.

1) Ballots could get lost.
2) A chance for fraud of a different kind.
3) Some major scuttlebutt could come out about a candidate in the last few days after you already voted. (Remember Packwood? His story was buried until right after the election…a few days different…who knows.)

And this year there’s something of greater concern to me. The recent postage increase.

Now our valuable media is telling us that the US Postal Service will let all ballots reach their destination with improper postage. Really? Even an absentee ballot for college students in New York? You think the New York postal workers got the memo?

I may be wearing my tinfoil hat when I type this, but I am very skeptical that we won’t see a decent percentage of ballots returned. Unopened. Uncounted.

So, take no chances. Drop it off. At least then the only fraud to be concerned with is the old fashioned kind.

B!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Birthday Play By Play

Chronicling the birthday as it unfolds:

1. Birthday wishes from Aunt Debby
2. Birthday wishes from Aunt Judy
3. eCard from Shannon
4. Voice mail from Mom
5. Chocolate from boss
6. Brick of cheese from Shannon
7. Birthday wishes from Stephanie
8. Birthday text from Heather
9. Raisinets, Goobers and Sno-Caps from Mary
10. Comment from Sicily
11. Birthday wishes from Eric
12. More birthday wishes from Mom
13. Birthday wishes from Lucas (and an offer of a scotch. Yes!)
14. Birthday wishes from Rachel
15. Birthday wishes from Wookie and the rest of Timbers Army
16. Birthday wishes from Diane
17. Birthday wishes from Laurie, the Lady Cobra
18. eCard from Candy - and lunch too
19. More birthday wishes from various Timbers Army personalities
20. Voice Mail from David - with a song and some French slang
21. Comment from the CilleyGirl
22. Birthday wishes from Katharine
23. Birthday wishes from Stuart

Awesome day so far.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A Bit Of A Bike Hangup

So.

My Bike arrived a week ago.

I assembled it a few days later. And quickly discovered some issues with it that needed to be addressed. I’m decent mechanically, but a bit clumsy. And the idea of maintenance on something as important as a vehicle (even a human powered one) gives me pause. But I forged ahead and started working on things:

Brakes.

You need these things. I’m convinced of it. The brakes were set up very simply from the manufacturer. Certainly not positioned well and not even close to tight. After examining the components I figured the very easy path towards safe and effective brakes. I’ll need to adjust them again once the bike has been on the road a few times to get to optimum tension.

Tires.

These sure have changed since I first got a 10-speed back in the day. The valves are totally different and I deflated both tires before figuring out how to orient the pump and adjust the valve. Sensitive suckers, these.

Pedals.

The pedals that came with the bike are great. If you plan to race. But for everyday commuting they just won’t do. They have toe clips and straps which I’ve never liked, plus a cleat for bicycle shoes. Since my bike shoes are made by Adidas and answer to the name Stan Smith a change was needed. So I purchased some very simple, rugged pedals and installed them. Problem solved.

Rack and Panniers.

I’ve always wanted panniers. I don’t know why. Obviously they are very useful but they just scream to me that the rider is a real cyclist. Well, I’m not. This makes me a pannier poseur, I suppose. I’ll live with it. Anyway, I got a simple rack and some small, but rugged, panniers. The rack put up a fight and one of the brackets is still giving me fits. But it’s secured to the bike and should serve its purpose.

Safety.

Helmet. Check. Lock. Check. Lights. Check. Reflective vest. Check. Pant strap. Check.

MAX Pass.

I purchase my Tri-Met passes for May. I even submitted for my transit reimbursal from work. I guess this means I’m committed to this.

I am now a bike commuter. May God have mercy on our souls.

Proceed.

B!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Are We There Yet?

40.

The flood supposedly lasted forty days and forty nights.

I’ve somehow lasted forty years. Well, if I make it to the eighth of May I will have.

This will sound cliché, but it’s just a number. Really. I mean it.

I certainly don’t feel like I’m forty. Yeah, I’ve grown up a lot since I was in my 20’s, but forty? Are you serious? You can’t be serious?

I am at a point in life where I’m much more comfortable embracing who I am. Without regard to age or expectations or boundaries. So, in that regard, forty really is just a number.

I will be celebrating with thousands of my favorite people. The Timbers play Rochester at 7:00pm Thursday, May 8. $11 General Admission ticket if you wish to join me. I’ll be at the Bitter End pre-match and Bullpen post-match. Accepting free bottles of beer from all my admirers. It will be crowded. There will be a line. Wear green. Sing loud.

Please no presents.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Sick Like Me

So I am sick. Nasty sick.

There are sticky, icky things being produced when I cough or when I blow. Not pretty.

This cold/illness was pretty sneaky too. It started with a sore throat Sunday morning. No big deal. I had overused my voice the night before when the Timbers beat the Sounders 2-0 at PGE Park. So I didn't figure it was of any concern. I went about my happy, happy Sunday thinking nothing of it, really. Did my road trip to the beach as planned, tested my new keys to the house, had a cream ale at the Pelican, built a fire, etc. and spent some fantastic time with a new friend, Heather, and helped her get some awesome (ossom) photographs.

But by Monday morning the sore throat was still here and had brought along it's close friends; bodyaches, fever, phlegm, phlegm, phlegm and close cousin, the shakes.

And they've been here ever since. They are not my favorite houseguests.

There should be a few positives to this: I was here for the UPS guy to drop off my new bicycle. Yay. Except I don't even have the strength and concentration to assemble it, let alone test it properly. I can catch up on my writing. As you can see from the blog, I'm clearly winning that battle.

Nope. I'm in a delirious dayquil induced coma. In and out of dream states. With an incredible appetite and no taste buds. Weird.

Regardless, I hope to feel well enough to get into the office tomorrow. Without a voice I'll have a hard time properly doing my job, but I will muddle through it.

I hope all you gentle readers are faring better than I.

B!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Let's Get Quiet

We’re entering another quiet time on the blog.

Busy professional life, combined with an actual social life is severely limiting both the time I have for blogging as well as the content.

I will have things to say. But they will be brief and may not be very interesting or very juicy.

I guess we’ll all just have to deal with it.

B!

Monday, April 21, 2008

There Will Be Blood

Platelets.

People need ‘em and I’ve got ‘em. In spades.

I donated two units of platelets yesterday. I’m going back for seconds in two weeks. I almost have enough to do three units. How cool is that?

Overall it’s not that different from giving a whole blood donation. Except you're wrapped up in blankets and fleece and you have to pump up your calcium before and during the procedure. Plus, it takes twice as long.

A few tips if you want to give:

Wear a vest. It helps keep you warm but gives them good access to your arm. I prefer fleece vests because, well, they’re fleece. Fleecy goodness is the best.

Bring your Netflix list. You’ll be seated for 1-2 hours in a comfy vinyl chaise. You have a personal TV with headphones and can watch from their fairly extensive collection of films or bring your own. I watched a Reader’s Digest version of “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” as I’m a pretty good bleeder. But I wasn’t prepared enough to find a movie I hadn’t seen before with any sort of efficiency. I felt like I was at the video store with three people – the worst number of people to decide on a movie rental BTW.

Anyway, 7:15am Sunday May 4 I do it all over again. Want to join me?

B!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Bike Me!

So, last week when my car was sick I did a half-day of mass transit in Portland to get to work.

This consisted of leaving my house about 35 minutes early, walking four blocks to the bus stop for the 4, riding to the Rose Quarter transit center and taking the Blue MAX to Beaverton. Then a short five minute walk to my office.

I believe in mass transit. I know it does a lot of good for the city and I feel like a first rate schmuck for not being more on board with it personally. But, I must confess, I hate the bus. Crowded. Odd smelling. It’s like being in someone else’s sweat glands to me.

But MAX is a bit different, especially if you’re going against the flow of traffic. High ceilings, lots of windows. I got some reading done, which was nice.

So now I am seriously pondering a switch to becoming a MAX commuter. At least during Spring and Summer. My company will pay for most of the monthly pass so it’s basically free. I’ll drive about 500 miles less each month, which will save about $100 in gas costs each month. Plus there’s the small environmental impact.

But how do I avoid the bus?

Easy, get on my bicycle. Except my bicycle is a piece of crap. It needs so much work that I’m probably going to need to acquire a new bike. Plus it’s a mountain bike and is a really uncomfortable and difficult ride in the city. But I really want to be one of those hip Portland guys who hang his bike on the bike things on MAX. I really do.

So I’m in the market for a new bike. I’ve checked out craigslist and am wary of buying used – because I have no idea what’s quality and what’s not, nor do I know where that bike’s been. I think I need either a commuter bike, complete with fenders and a big comfy saddle or a traditional road bike. My commute on the bike will only be a few miles each day but I will likely use the bike to get around town a bit from time to time as well.

As I’ve been searching online I realize that sizing a bike for me will be a challenge. I’m a typical 5’10” tall but I have a longer torso and slightly shorter legs than average.

So, I am accepting suggestions for a bike that’s cheap (under $500 – make that well under $500) and suggestions regarding what I should be looking for to meet my needs. What do you think?
B!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

It’s a beautiful day for football.

Portland Timbers opening night is tonight. The skies are clear. The beer will be cheap. The crowd will be loud.

Catch up with the goings on about the teams with the fans at Talk Timbers, The 107 Report podcast, The Offside or Oregonlive.

Match is at 7:00pm. General Admission tickets are $11 available at the PGE Park box office or through Ticketmaster. (Devlyn, thanks for the correction on the price, that's what I get for posting from memory.)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Superheroes Needed: No Tights Required

I always wanted to be a superhero. Have some sort of radioactive accident that would transform me into a super-handsome, super-witty, super-powerful being who would do good, save lives, save the world and get the girl.

Well, no radioactive accident.

But, in its place I’ve decided to at least save some lives. Sunday I will be donating platelets from my blood at the Red Cross. Platelet donation is different than donating blood. It takes about two hours. Your blood is removed from the body, the platelets are separated and then the blood is recirculated back into your vein through the same small needle. Scientifically, this seems cool to me. Practically is another matter however. I’m not too squeamish of needles but I also don’t like sitting still for two hours.

“Doris”, the enthusiastic scheduler, was downright giddy that I had decided to donate. Apparently AB+ blood is the best platelet donor and my platelet count is a massive 258. Good blood here kids, good blood.

The uses of platelets are different than whole blood. Platelets are used in the more crucial procedures like organ transplants, bone marrow donations, cancer treatments, etc. But platelets are only valid for five days and the first two days are needed for testing on the goods themselves. You may donate up to 26 times a year so, if this isn’t too unbearable, I think I’ll try to do every two weeks.

If something like this interests you, please call the Red Cross at 503-284-1234.

B!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Sensors Working Overtime

So my car is healthy again.

I had a faulty sensor (Jenn you were right!) that made it appear than my cam-shaft was locking up. So my car went into self preservation mode and wouldn't start.

The sensor repair was under warranty. Thank you Hyundai. So was the tow. Thank you Ray, although you took your own sweet time showing up.

But, once the car was at the mechanic, I needed to have my 30K service done and they advised that my front tires (which I did not rotate regularly enough) were dangerously bald. Sort of like me.

So I spent a lot of money yesterday. But the upside is that my Santa Fe (she still needs a nickname BTW) is purring perfectly like a cat. She almost drove herself home.

B!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

What's Gotten Into Her?


My vehicle is a gold 2004 Hyundai Santa Fe. A useful, reliable vehicle. Strange that she’s never earned a nickname as most of my other cars did early in their lives.

Anyway. Yesterday afternoon I went to start her to go out for the evening and she gave me some trouble. She would start right up and then the engine would just die. Over. And over. Even if I revved her and gave her lots of fuel she would sputter and shut off.

So I’ve got some type of fuel issue. Bad gas. Fuel pump. Computer sensor. Something.

But I now have my first opportunity to use Hyundai’s roadside assistance. They’ll tow me for free, or so they say. My warranty is still in place so I should only be facing the inconvenience of being without my car for so many unknown days.

Sigh.

B!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Time After Time

Time.

It’s getting the best of me lately.

I was having a conversation with my housemate/friend/landlord David the other night. We were discussing the need for Bruce time. Or David Time. He actually said he had copyrighted the term. He wouldn’t lie about that, would he?

Y’know. Alone time. Time to reflect. Time to decompress.

When I was living solo I learned to enjoy that time. And in turn I needed that time to feel like myself. Now that I’m back living in a community, albeit a two person community, my time and space is shared. And while I don’t require as much alone time I still need it.

Being more active is mostly a good thing. But recently, as I’ve been ramping up my diverse activities, I have less Bruce Time…oops David time, and it is taking its toll. I have been so busy with media activities, Timbers items, Kip’s wedding, a social life, etc. that I feel like I might be losing my way. And myself in the process.

So. This Sunday is mine. All mine. Don’t try to stop me and no one will get hurt.

B!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

I'm So Pretty

Best man.

It’s a title that is more than ceremonial. Traditionally the best man conjures up the bachelor party, offers any and all assistance to the bride’s family leading up to the wedding day, helps keep the groom from losing his mind, etc. He also toasts the bride and groom.

I did these things recently, culminating with the actual wedding and reception last night.

Now to say that this was a fun event and outstanding party is an understatement. Kip and Jen put together a perfect party with the emphasis on the party and celebration rather than the drama that a wedding can produce.

It’s always fun to take people you know in one context, dress them up real pretty, and put them in front of an audience. Things are bound to happen.

I won’t tell most of the stories like how I forgot that bringing the microphone was my responsibility or Peter and Jeane and the inflatable whale, but I’ll show a few of the pics that have surfaced.

But I want to talk about the toast. I did this once before for my brother’s wedding. It was a good little speech and toast. Last night, I did it again.

I’ve been sweating the details of this speech for the last few weeks. I had a general idea of what I wanted to say but was struggling to give it structure and struggling to create the right kind of relevance and relation to Kip and Jen’s life together.

So I never wrote the speech. I winged it.

Well, I’m going to pat myself on the back a bit, because that’s what a lot of other people have been doing since I delivered the words. I hit it perfectly last night. I really did. And I’m a bit surprised myself.

But, as I examine all of the things I’ve been doing lately that put myself out there; This blog, the TV show, my podcast, the upcoming video projects, etc. it’s becoming clear to me that I’ve conquered a portion of my modest stagefright as well as created a comfortable cadence with public speaking.

So good for me.

The wedding is supposed to be about the couple and not about anyone else. I try to remember that as I participate in these types of events. But, that being the case, the toast is the part where the attention is focused on the best man. You might as well do a good job with it.

B!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Soup or Salad?

So in my ever expanding quest to improve my social life and social scorecard I've got a new experiment.

I'm looking for new restaurants. I'm not reviewing them. I'm not critiquing them. I'm just looking to try something new every two or three weeks.

I've lived in Portland most of my life. I've gotten very set in my ways which has advantages and disadvantages. But it does create a bit of a rut. There are probably thousands of restaurants that I've never set food inside. I want to change that.

So, I'd love some suggestions of good restaurants. Any area of town and any ethnicity. But it's good food I'm looking for. I'm less concerned with linen napkins or impressive decor.

B!

PS - I'll also be looking for people to try the places out with, so if you're interested, drop me an email or post a comment.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Triple Threat?

A few weeks ago I floated a tidbit about an opportunity for me to do some additional writing. Well, that opportunity is nigh.

Starting next week I will have a share of the OregonLive Timbers Blog. This blog was originally conceived by Bob Kellett several years ago. Bob also ran a group of blogs called The Offside, which is generally considered to be among the finest of football sites in the world. Bob's pulled back a bit and now just writes his own fantastic Timbers blog for The Offside. He left some big shoes to fill at O'Live. Big shoes.

In the past year Donald Bramlett has manned the station at O-Live. He's tireless in his pursuit of information and tidbits. I hope to be able to add some entertaining and insightful observations from time to time. Our styles are very different and it should lend to a good, regular dose of Timbers content for our readers.

This does not mean that I'll be leaving The 107 Report. Far from it. I will be getting some assistance from time to time on the show, but the goal is to do a regular weekly 30 minute program starting with a preview show the weekend of April 12 and our traditional annual roundtable discussion a few days later. I'll occasionally take a week off and also throw in an extra show from time to time. I hope that it's a banner season for the report.

But wait, there's more! You may also see me from time to time on The Timbers Webcast doing halftime interviews that also will be shown in stadium on the big screen. TV adds 10 pounds. I wonder how much weight a jumbotron adds?

So, I'm about to be very, very busy with Timbers media items. Unique opportunities, each of them. I hope to be able to keep contributing to this blog as well. Maybe not as many posts per week, but I'll still have quirky insights to share.
Wish me luck. And feel free to buy me a beer every now and then.

B!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

We Just Came For The Blood

I used to give blood every two to three months. It seemed like a good way to do some good for someone else. Someone I’d never meet. Someone whose life could be saved.

Then, with my personal waistline expansion project and the corresponding hypertension that accompanied it, I had to start declining the polite yet persistent Red Cross invitations.

Today, however, I donated again for the first time in almost five years. Yay for me!

In the past when I’ve gone on blood-letting excursions my friends and I try to make a game of it. Who can fill out the papers fastest. Which curtained cube will you use for your interview. Which of the nurses will conduct it (Bonus points if they’re cute AND unmarried. Rare, but possible.) etc.

Then, the ultimate game. Who can bleed the quickest.

My brother Stuart and friend David would actually have the attending nurses start their blood draw at the same moment so it was a real race. Each of them squeezing their squishy ball rhythmically to produce a steady stream of blood.

I can’t remember who won these contests, nor what their time was. But I know they beat my time today of 6:58.

I had a great chat with Siobhan my attending nurse. We talked about cat allergies and concerts and a host of other stuff. I got to use a Spider-Man squeeze ball. Who knew giving blood could be so much fun.

So, if you’ve been itching for a good thing to do, call up the Red Cross (503-528-5848) and arrange a time to give blood. It’s a very worthy cause.

B!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Soundtrack Of Your Life or Sell Out?

TV advertisers have often used music to convey a mood or an emotion. To spark a reaction in you.

Over the last decade or two the use of pre-existing classical, pop or rock music has filtered into the advertising industry. Think of United Airlines with their signature use of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” or the foray that Pepsi made years ago in using Michael Jackson and his music to sell soft drinks to young boys, I mean, to the masses.

But over the last five or six years the advertising industry has really changed its tune. It is like the soundtrack of my youth coming from the little speakers on the TV with the use of rock, pop and more obscure alternative music.

It reminds me of when I first saw Grosse Point Blank starring John Cusack. Cusack is my contemporary. And the choices that he made for the music in the film reflect that, from Pete Townshend to The Jam to The Clash to Violent Femmes to The Specials to The English Beat. It was clear that the creative decisions being made for that part of the movie were being made by an almost 30-something who came of age in the 80’s.

Those same creative decisions in the major advertising agencies must also now be being made by my generation. This morning alone, while watching NCAA Basketball on CBS, I saw two commercials that use MY music.

The first was for TIAA-CREF. Now TIAA-CREF is the retirement/investment arm of educators, a segment of the population that probably stretches from 25 years to 65 years in age. They chose Bob Mould’s “See A Little Light” for the advert. Now, this song, depending on the week or month, would be on my short list of favorite songs ever. It is that good.

The second was Taco Bell (which I have not had ANY of in almost four months. Yay for me!) Which used, appropriately enough, Modern English’s “I Melt With You” to sell something extremely cheesy.

In other commercials Nissan has used The Clash’s version of “Pressure Drop” (an awesome song, reggae or punk version both) or several stylings from The Who to sell their various SUVs. The Buzzcocks’ “Everybody’s Happy Nowadays” is being used for AARP. That’s an ad for the retirement generation, folks. “Blister In The Sun” by Violent Femmes was featured in a Wendy’s commercial.

More contemporary, and relevant to Portland, is the use by JC Penney and Old Navy of a few songs by The Weepies in their recent Christmas campaigns. The Weepies are the current musical group of former Portlander Deb Talan, who led the awesome and fun group Hummingfish for most of her time in Portland.

It’s easy to label these artists as sell-outs for allowing their music to be used commercially. Especially Pete Townshend who mocked the idea back in the 60’s with The Who Sell Out. But, with a music industry that is struggling to figure out how to deal with download v. CD v. the resurgence of vinyl, home publishing, youtube, myspace, it’s not surprising that artists are less apprehensive to lend their music to the mass advertising. It’s exposure. It’s money. Where’s the harm?

But, it’s clear to me that even if I am not the target audience for some of these products or services that the ones making the decisions grew up as I did; watching John Hughes movies and MTV, listening to college radio and discovering the great, obscure music that the 80’s and beyond had to offer.

I think that’s cool.

B!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy Birthday Bro!

Today is my big brother Stuart’s 41st Birthday.

We don’t talk or see each other as much as either of us would like, but he’s still my best friend in the whole world. Those words seem unbelievable when I reflect on the special torture that a big brother inflicts on a younger over the years. But, somewhere, I got over it and he did too.

If you wish to post some birthday wishes for him feel free.

Happy Birthday Stu!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Register, Then Vote

I’ve taken another day off today so I’ve got some modest plans of things to accomplish during the daylight.
  • Laundry
  • Post Office
  • Finish My Taxes
  • Grocery Shopping
  • Re-Register To Vote As A Democrat
The first four on the list are rather tame. Just the dumb things I gotta do. But the last is rather monumental for me.

I’ve always been a political animal. I grew up in a household with a very liberal father and a slightly less-liberal mother. I attended very left-leaning schools. While much of the liberal philosophy influenced me, I had an independent streak, even at an early age. But I still registered as a Democrat and followed most of the party line until the 2000 election. Hell, I even voted for Jesse Jackson in 1988.

But after the Florida debacle that handed the White House to George W. Bush I couldn’t take the new Democratic party. I found the party to be unfocused and lacking vision. Too willing to take up every cause and therefore creating too many splinter issues, rather than focusing on the things that could win elections, influence broader policy and move the country forward. National politics is for big picture stuff. They had lost me.

So I registered as an Independent.

Now, in Oregon, if you’re an Independent you are not allowed to vote in the primaries as they follow party affiliation. Normally this doesn’t matter on the national stage as Oregon’s primary is so late in the election cycle. But this year is different. The Democratic nomination is still up for grabs. Still in play. And I actually care about who wins.

So they’ve got me back. Whether they want me or not. My father will be pleased.

My personal politics are a strange, strange hybrid of libertarian, liberal and conservative. My strong personal beliefs are in the individual and their privacy, which sounds conservative, but actually opens up the liberal aspect of my nature.

But I digress. This election is the most interesting in my lifetime. Perhaps I’m just seeing it through the lens of 8 years of idiots, bullies and war. Maybe not. There are three distinct candidates left, all of who could still earn my vote. Although John McCain is a longshot as he’d need to become the maverick that he used to be. But then I’d be concerned that he was flip-flopping. So he’s probably not going to convince me to vote for him no matter what he does. But I have not ruled it out.

But Clinton and Obama have my interest. Politically they are basically identical in their over-arching policies. Hillary bores me to sleep. Obama inspires me with his words but does he have the guts to follow through on his vision? It’s a very interesting exploration of politics, race, gender, influence and all else.

So, I’ve downloaded my voter registration card, you can find it here for the State of Oregon. Register by April 29, 2008 to vote in the primary. Washington has online registration here (but you missed their primaries if you’re not yet registered). That’s pretty cool.

As they used to say on SCTV, register, then vote.

B!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Advocate This!

Every time I walk into a Fred Meyer store I am reminded of the power of the consumer.

Now, I’m not a huge consumer advocate type of guy. I don’t go out of my way to complain. I think I’ve sent a total of one meal back at a restaurant in my entire life. Hey, if I order it and I don’t like it, whose fault is that? Anyway, back to Fred Meyer.

In the late 90’s the Fred Meyer location at Northwest 20th and Burnside went through a major renovation. Everything was replaced and redesigned.

This is where Bruce had to go to work.

Y’see, they replaced the shopping baskets. The traditional rectangular baskets with the two fold out handles. The ones that work really, really well. The ones that many of the people that live in the neighborhood and walk to and from the store use to buy a day or two worth of groceries.

Well, FM tried to fix them.

They replaced every shopping basket in the store with an ergonomic, stacking basket. Shaped like a kidney bean it had a plastic handle that was attached right in the middle of the basket. They sure looked fancy and they were easy to carry. Hugged right to your hip.

But you couldn’t fit anything of any size in them. At it's widest, the floor of the basket had maybe 3.5 inches of space and it flared out to a wider opening at the top. What’s the use for a basket that can’t hold a half-gallon of milk standing upright? Or a head of lettuce? It was absurd.

I immediately used the power of the internet and got a note in to the Manager of the store. I explained the problem and asked him to resupply the traditional baskets.

I received a pretty quick reply from him (within one day) and he let me know that he had checked out my concerns and that they were bringing in a stock of traditional baskets that afternoon.

I went to the store and, lo and behold, rectangular baskets. They kept the kidney bean ergo-baskets around for a few months, but nobody ended up using them.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

So that’s my one standout consumer action story. One that actually had an impact on people doing their daily business. Small scale? I suppose. But it had to be done.

Do you have an advocate story? I’d love to hear it.

B!

Monday, March 17, 2008

I'm So Tweaked

So it finally happened. I hurt myself working out.

Not horribly. But I tweaked something in my back lifting weights yesterday. It's sore. It's tight. It's being a nuisance. I'm taking recommended doses of advil, drinking lots of water and trying to stretch it.

But I'm not too happy about it.

B!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Ladies And Gentlemen Of The Jury

I got a jury summons last week.

I’ve done jury duty once. It was a two day trial over a traffic accident. Some idiot kid was high and hit and spun a taxi at full speed on MLK late one winter night. The driver, an immigrant from Somalia, suffered some pretty severe injuries, trauma and was out of work for several months because of it.

It was an easy case to decide guilt on. Not so easy to determine damages. There was a very vocal minority in the jury room unwilling to acknowledge the trauma that an accident has on someone. Therefore, assigning a dollar value to it was even less clear to them.

We ended up awarding lost wages and a modest amount of compensatory damages for pain and suffering. The total award was something like $28,000 of which only about $7,000 was pain and suffering.

I still feel guilty about that. I fought hard for more damages but was not persuasive enough. It’s hard enough to negotiate something with people you know and trust, even harder to do so with eleven strangers, some of whom would rather be anywhere but in a jury box. I feel like I failed that man.

But I did appreciate the experience and looked forward to doing it again. Civic duty or some such thing.

So, last week the summons arrived. Special Jury selection starting March 28. Up to four weeks service time expected, maybe more. Wow. This is either for a grand jury or a big trial. Immediately I started to calculate how this would affect my April. Kip’s wedding. The day off I had planned. Timbers soccer. The expected dates with that one perfect woman who I still have yet to meet.

Hmmm. I’m not so sure I could do this. The clincher came when I went to work the next day and checked our HR policy. Short duration jury duty is not a problem. You can get up to two weeks pay and the time off. But longer than that and you are out of luck. So, with regret, I returned the forms in the provided postage paid envelope, and set out to wait for the court to respond.

I got deferred. Yay.

So, come October I’ll get another shot at it. It may not be the special jury, although I’d be very willing to serve on it. Being of sound judgment and so forth. But regardless, I will have the chance to contribute modestly to our justice system. I find the coolio in that. I really do.
B!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog

Blogs.

I am really starting to love blogs. I recently put up a poll question about how many blogs each of you visit regularly. I’ve got a few myself, they’re listed down there on the right. Way down.

Anyway, I want to recognize two blogs here today (and inadvertantly, a third).

The first is A Work In Progress by my friend, Stephanie Earls. Her blog was really the catalyst for my blog. She’s taking a break from blogging for a bit to concentrate on her overloaded duties of her real profession, a features writer for the Albany Times Union. Anyway, now would be a great time for any of you that like fun, lively writing and home renovation to check out her blog since it will be in a holding pattern for the next month or so.

The second is Mile 73 by Heather, a recent transplant to Portland. One of the good kind of California immigrants from what we know of her. Our mutual friend, Dave, of Daveknows: Portland, thinks her blog and mine have similar styles. A bit all over the place, with an emphasis on personal observation and neuroses. She’s a new read for me, but you should check out her blog and her vast links to other great, fun blogs on the ‘net.

That’s what I’ve got for now.

B!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

You've Got Mail

I've dedicated an email address to blog related questions.

So, If you've got a question or comment that you don't wish publicized, or if you just wish to chat about something, please send me a note at hswagain@gmail.com

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Salute To The Army

I’ve avoided two subjects on the blog for the most part: politics and sports. I’ve got plenty of political opinion, and a bit of it will surface soon, but today I want to touch on sports.

I’m a flag waving, scarf wearing, foul mouthed member of Timbers Army (there’s no initiation, nor membership roll. Show up, sing, sign up for stuff). Now most of you are in the know about Portland Timbers Football Club (that’s AKA soccer) here in town. It’s our local professional team. They play at PGE Park to ever increasing crowds. But some of my visitors may not have any knowledge about this squad.

There’s also this band of misfits called Timbers Army (The TA). They’re the thousands of nutters who stand in the north end of the stadium and sing and chant and carry on with noise in abundance for the entire match. While this phenomenon is not unique to the sport it’s pretty darn rare in the USA. They have a message board where they organize and discuss the team and get together even in the offseason.

But what really sets the TA apart is their abundance of civic pride. They tend to view Portland as their home. I don’t mean hometown when I write that. I mean HOME. Portland is what connects them. What creates the bonds. What creates the family.

Today one of the TA’s own told the story of his brother dying recently. He wrote passionately and achingly about their time together at PGE Park with the army. How it fostered a closeness that he valued. The army does this. It creates bonds where there previously were barriers. The TA really steps up when one of its own is hurting. Financially. Emotionally. Spiritually. It is an amazing group of people.

It’s hard to believe that it started with seven or eight guys and some buckets and loud mouths seven years ago. But what it’s grown into is something you have to see to believe. And you can become a part of it. Show up. Stand, Sing. Done.

B!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Butter Flavoring On That?

A friend and I were having a quick chat on gmail last week about movies. Movies that we love. Movies that we quote. Movies that we never really tire of seeing but that we don’t watch with much frequency anymore.

It got me thinking. It’s time for a marathon movie day. An all day affair of movies, food, drink, naps and more movies.

Of course such a day must involve the holy trinity of movie-going treats: Sno-Caps, Goobers and Raisinets, as well as some of the newer kids on the block: Hot Tamales and Red Vines.

So, I need your help. We’ve got to make a list. I’ll start:
  • The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension
  • The Princess Bride
  • The Big Lebowski
  • Kingpin
  • Fletch! (but not Fletch! Lives)

Chime in, dear readers. We may even put you on the invite list.

B!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Something's Gotta Give

Remember the episode of Seinfeld where Jerry, Elanie, Kramer and George enter the contest to see who can go the longest without, um, hmmm...taking care of their personal business?

Jerry delivers that classic line at the end, "Meanwhile, I'm in this Contest, I'm dating a virgin, somethings gotta give!"

I think I’m about to enter that territory. Between my work, this blog, the TV show, my podcast (which should start up again soon,) a possible writing opportunity, plus a slowly expanding social life (rising like yeast? Is that the worst simile in history?), I’m rapidly reaching saturation.

So, something’s gotta give.

I don’t expect it to be this blog, although it may suffer some collateral damage in the way of shorter or less frequent posts. More likely I will choose to scale back my role on the podcasts and may have to reconsider the TV show. This would normally make me really disappointed. But if things come to pass properly you’ll end up getting the very best of what I have to offer, just on another page and website.

We'll see. Stay tuned.

B!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

And In The Blue Corner In Polka–Dot Old Navy Boxers Weighing In At 210 Pounds…

So I got on the scales today.

I made weight. 210 pounds.

I will admit to getting a bit emotional. Not teary-eyed emotional, but lump in the throat emotional. Reaching this goal was not easy, but it also wasn’t as difficult as I expected. But I am proud of myself. I got there 3 and a half weeks earlier than scheduled. Yay for me!

Now 210 pounds is still pretty big. In the Olympics it’s considered Super Heavyweight weight class in boxing. It’s the Heavyweight class in pro boxing.

Here are a few things that also weigh 210 pounds:

  • A motor for a Lotus Elise

  • A 26-foot Anaconda

  • A Typical 3-foot Pirate's Cannon

  • A 10-month old St. Bernard

I'm in good company. Especially the cannon. Cool.


So now it's on to sub-200 by my birthday, May 8. And a final goal of 180 by end of summer. Wish me luck.


B!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Portland Men On Sports

Well, It's about three weeks after we taped the show but we've got air dates for Portland Men On Sports.




The show will air on channel 21 on Comcast.
  • March 4 10:00pm
  • March 5 10:21pm
  • March 6 6:00pm
  • March 8 12:00pm
  • March 9 7:11pm
  • March 10 3:44pm
  • March 11 10:00am
  • March 11 8:00pm
  • March 13 6:00pm
  • March 14 10:00pm
We're still working on a regular schedule for the upcoming shows, but now that we have some time slots those should reach the air quicker. At least we hope they will.

Feel free to tune in and leave a comment here with your observations, critiques and applause.


B!

Gift Registry 2008 Style

So, my good friend Kip is getting married in a month. I have the honor of standing with him as best man. We’ve got tuxes ordered, have a fun bachelor day planned in a few weeks and then it’s on to Edgefield for the ceremony in April.

A few days ago I asked Kip where he and Jen were registered. The response, “Sears and Kmart”.

Times have changed.

It used to be that couples would only register at Meier and Frank (now Macy’s) or another splashy department store. But 2008 people register now from places as varied as R.E.I. to Williams Sonoma to Joe’s, Sears, Target, Etc. I’ve even heard of people registering at Toys ‘R’ Us. No joke.

As people have migrated to getting married older it’s only natural that the wedding gift would migrate with. Couples who get together in their late 20s, 30s or even 40s have a significant amount of accumulated stuff. Many are already home owners and the old necessities of place settings, knives and such have given way to more durable practical items like barbeques, lawn furniture, hedge trimmers and laser levels.

I like it.

Tonight I perused the gift lists Kip and Jen compiled and there are lots of interesting things to choose from. I don’t want to spoil it as Kip reads this blog from time to time, but being able to choose between a chainsaw, fiberglass step ladder and lawnmower are my kind of wedding gift choices. But it begs the question:

How in the world do you gift wrap a chainsaw?

B!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Fantastic Practical Jokes

I've never been much for practical jokes. At least not pulling them. My mind just doesn’t come up with things that way.

When I was in college there was one great practical joke that I heard of. In my Freshman dormitory, Wig Hall, someone had the doorway to their room removed.

They were away for the weekend and one of their friends, who had planned this meticulously, got drywall, paint, plaster, etc and drywalled over his doorway. When he returned his room had disappeared. A classic bit of nuisance.

Several months ago this clip was floating around the web. If you haven’t seen the Yankee Proposal prank, check it out.

B!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

He's Dead Gym

Brief observations and musings from my morning visit to the gym.

SEEN:

One bitchin’ mullet. Obscured by a hat. Shame.

One yerkl. This is the clinical term for a comb-over. (Why do balding guys do this? Go short. Don’t hide it.)

Kerry Eggers.

HEARD:

Amongst the crap gym music, Generals and Majors by XTC, Sheena Is a Punk Rocker by The Ramones and Weird Science by Oingo Boingo.

OVERHEARD:

One conversation between one huge guy and one much smaller guy. The 30 seconds I overheard contained at least five uses of the term, “dude”. Wow. And at least one utterance of the word, “tasty”.

B!

Friday, February 29, 2008

Meatheads

OK, so I’ve been going to the gym regularly now for three weeks. So far so good. I’ve dropped a few more pounds and generally feel pretty darn accomplished over it. But there is one big problem for me.

Meatheads. (With apologies to Rob Reiner.)

You know who I’m talking about. The musclebound Neanderthals that dominate the free weight section of the gym. No necks. Huge, bulky arms the size of small economies. Stiff movements. All around uncomfortable looking people. You can hear their bulging muscles creak when they walk. Their arms stick out from their body at bizarre angles because of their enormous, overdeveloped chest and back muscles. Grunt is their native tongue..

Yesterday one particular meathead was all decked out in appropriate workout gear. Acid washed jeans. I kid you not. He was also salivating behind me as I worked on the triceps machine just waiting to triple the amount of weight and prove himself to the vast number of nobodys watching.

What is with these guys? Who desires to look like that? And where do these guys go when they’re not at the gym? I don’t recall running into any of them at the grocery store or Powell’s or the corner pub. They must have some commune where they all park their conversion vans on the grassy patch beside the gravel part of the dirt road.

Seriously.

I have a hard enough time being absurdly weak, trying to lift weights (which I hate) to build some semblance of long, lean muscle and I have to do it surrounded by an endless supply of meatheads.

Oh well. The locker room is very nicely appointed. So I’ve got that going for me. Which is nice.

B!

Mouth Sounds and Movie Quotes

I have several friends who can make amazing noises come out of their mouths. I’ve also got a bunch of friends who occasionally live life through the lens of movie quotes or TV quotes.

Why do men do these things?

Many of my friends quote liberally from the Simpsons. Now, I think the Simpsons are funny. But I’ve never found it to be the cultural barometer that my friends have. Just different tastes, I suppose. But I’m guilty of this too. I love to bring out a quote from Fletch or Blues Brothers or Animal House when appropriate. I have stolen words from a variety of people from Robin Williams to Steve Martin to Steven Wright to The Famous Mysterious Actor and adjusted them to make them my own.

One of my friends can make extremely accurate animal sounds; monkeys and even a bear. To see him do this is frightening as the bear sound is very physical. Another friend makes super realistic bird sounds and phone sounds. So much so that when you’re out at a crowded restaurant he’ll send out a ring and people all around check their cell phones. It’s super harmless fun. I, of course, will roar like a Wookiee from time to time. Go figure.

But why do we do these things?

There’s a theory that men and women seek out different things from media: books and movies. The theory goes that women read to discover the dynamics of relationships. How people communicate and relate. The theory also states that men seek out role models and heroes. They’re looking for a guide to life and how to live it.

As I’ve thought about this I don’t disagree with it. Just about every guy I know watches a movie or reads and tries to identify with the character. If they find something appealing in the character they like the book or movie. If they don’t find some redeeming quality then they’ll likely have a poorer opinion, even if the other elements we’re fine.

I think that’s why I struggled with The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. I did not find anything to absorb from the main character.

But I’m pretty sure it’s why we quote from movies. We want to be that funny guy. That heroic guy. Using their words allows us to live their life, just a little bit.

I’m not sure why we make the sounds, though. Or even why I associate the two.

B!