Thursday, January 31, 2008

Put The PA in Party! Sid's 75th!

This past Sunday was my dad's 75th birthday bash.

With a group of family and friends acting as stellar cooks, caterers, busboys and electricians we pulled off a fantastic celebration of my dad's life so far.

There were just short of 200 guests from all aspects of my dad's life. Colleagues from both Catlin Gabel and Charles Wright (my dad was a teacher for those not in the know), professional acquantances, Portland friends, a college friend or two and lots of family were there.

We held it at Catlin Gabel in the school's lunchroom, a converted barn from the old farm days of the property. For those familiar with The Barn you know how fitting a place it is for a CG alum or retiree to have a gathering.

Cousins Katherine and Stu, my mother and I planned the entire event. There was beer and wine, Stu smoked fifty pounds of beef onsite and acted as chef, aunts Alice and Debby made fantastic salads. Stu's girlfriend Hilary handled signage and nametags and balloons and making it pretty. Kat and Stu had custom shirts and hats for the organizers to wear. There was music and a microphone and words from Sid himself.

For me this was an opportunity to recognize the importance of my dad in my life. He's been there for me countless times and it was nice to be there for him this time. As was evident by the turnout and the overwhelming sense of fun, many others feel similarly.

There are more pics coming soon. But a few here show cousin Stu carving beast; my dad talking with Greg Wentworth; nephew Nathaniel enjoying cake.

For those of you that were there please post a comment about your favorite parts of the evening or whatever strikes your fancy.


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

CD Baby

You’ve probably heard about CD Baby. It’s a local company devoted to selling music online. Particularly independent music, the kind that won’t see the major retailer's store shelves.

My friend’s band, Fuzzball, just released a CD and CD Baby has it. I ordered it last week and it arrived yesterday. I have to admit, the shopping experience on CD Baby was unlike any online shopping I’ve ever done.

It started with the CD being out of stock. So they allow you to input your email and they notify you when it arrives for sale. Here was the email:

It's back in stock now. You're the first to know.

It just got here an hour ago.We can send it to you in tomorrow morning's mail. Just click this link:


This appears to be a company about the little touches. They probably send that same email to everyone but it didn’t feel like it to me. Impressions, turns out they matter. It’s not that their interface was better or easier to use (although it was easy) it’s the confirmation emails that I received that made me smile and appreciate this company. This one came to me from the sender “CD Baby Loves Bruce”:

Bruce -Thanks for your order with CD Baby!

This is just a happy
automated email to let you know a real person will email you as soon as your
package is sent, and you will also receive a paper receipt with your order in
the mail.

Please save this email in case you have any questions about your

And the final email from them:

Your CD has been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized
contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow.

A team of 50 employees inspected your CD and polished it to make sure it was
in the best possible condition before mailing.

Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over the crowd
as he put your CD into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy.

We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party marched
down the street to the post office where the entire town of Portland waved "Bon
Voyage!" to your package, on its way to you, inour private CD Baby jet on this
day, Wednesday, January 23rd.

I hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. We sure did. Your
picture is on our wall as "Customer of the Year." We're all exhausted but can't
wait for you to come back to CDBABY.COM!!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!


--Derek Sivers, president, CD Baby

This is a company that deserves more of my business. In a world of increasing automation and ‘bots that do everything, it was nice to find a company that uses that technology creatively. They set a high expectation for me and have delivered.

Anyway, check out Fuzzball’s CD “The Last Umbrella Stand” It’s good power-pop with really interesting cover art and (shameless self-promotion) yours truly even got a shout out on the album thanks. That’s always a cool thing. It’s permanent. Like “Kilroy was here” or some such thing.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Salute To A Great Man: Spread The Love

I first met Timber Jim in 1978. Well, I didn’t actually meet him. But I went to almost every Timbers match as a kid and that was the year Jim started sawing logs, standing on poles, banging drums and leading us in support of our beloved Portland Timbers.

Today, Timber Jim announced his retirement as mascot of the Portland Timbers. His final match will be our home opener against Puerto Rico on Thursday, April 17.

I finally met Jim in 2004 when I started regularly attending Timbers Army gatherings and post-game celebrations. At first I was in awe of him; This larger than life figure of a man who gave of himself to bring joy to us all. As I got to know Jim on a more personal level my admiration, respect and love for him grew as well.

He is, without a doubt, one of the finest men I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

I am privileged to have spent quality time with him, difficult time with him and take great pride to be able to consider him a friend.

We all are richer for knowing him.

Jim, my friend, I wish you the best. With a tear in my eye and a pint in my hand. You are one of a kind and it has been an honor.


Bruce! (Obi)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Gmail Revisited

Some recent trinkets from my Gmail adbot email reader

Jello shot release cups - - Release Jello shots with ease! Reusable Plastic shot cups.

Johnny Drama T-Shirt - - People Will Stop You at The Bar & Ask Where you Got it.

Ethical Hacking - - Find IT security weaknesses before the hackers do!

And from the SPAM filter:

Spam Primavera - Toss with linguini, serve immediately

Spam Veggie Pita Pockets - Serves 8

Creamy Spam Broccoli Casserole - Makes 8 servings

It Puts The Lotion In The Bucket

I need some lotion. Good lotion. Lotion for a guy.

I’m finding that my skin (especially my expansive forehead) is getting very, very dry during these winter months. I really hate lotion but I really need some. Currently I’m using Vaseline Intensive care with aloe. It comes in a light green bottle. It doesn’t smell too bad and does a decent job.

But I’d like something even more neutral in its odor. I’m not much of one for scents. Might’ve been at some point in the past, but they really aren’t for me in 2008. I’d also like to avoid ones that are too greasy. The Vaseline is OK, but I still can feel that I’m wearing lotion and almost always feel the urge to wipe my hands on a towel for a good long time after using it.

So to all of my friends out there in interwebland, is there a lotion that you use and recommend? A lotion designed for a guy or neutral enough to allow me to deal with it?


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Full Moon at Sunset

Last night as I was leaving IKEA (ugh!) the sun was setting in the west and a full moon was rising in the east. The day had been cold, crisp and clear. It was a stunning mix of colors and awe.

This morning on my way to work, driving the sunset freeway toward the west the same full moon (I’m pretty sure it’s the same one) was framed by the arches of the west hills of Portland. Another gorgeous sight.

I should’ve had my camera with me.


Monday, January 21, 2008

Please, Speak up.

This blog has been getting a lot of visits lately. Granted, many of them are directed here because of one or more odd google searches, but still. Lots of visits.

But, even with all the traffic, it's been pretty quiet around here. So, if you've enjoyed (or even not enjoyed) what you've read here, try to feel unshy and post a comment or two.

That is all,


DVDs: Season's Greetings

When DVDs surfaced on the market fifteen years or so ago I was skeptical. I grew up in the era of VHS vs. Beta, Vinyl vs. CD and Mac vs. PC. VHS had become the standard for home recording and they finally made some of the machines that you could actually program. Having seen the battle of platforms I did not jump into the realm of DVDs until about 2002/2003.

But the DVD was different. Here was a little disc that allowed you to dance around within your favorite movies. Great images. Great sound. The little suckers are perfect. Of course there’s now the HD-DVD vs. Blu-Ray debate brewing but I don’t have a dog in that fight yet.

Which brings me to DVD box sets. I love these things. There’s something about being able to fit an entire season of TV on your shelf that I find satisfying. There’s now a huge volume of discs available from old time TV to sports to that little show that came and went and should’ve stayed around a lot longer.

What I also love about DVD box sets is that they are starting to create a new social structure. Some of my friends do marathon sessions of 24 on long weekends. They’ve even done an entire season in a single day.

Some friends and I are currently in the midst of ‘Twin Peaks’ every Wednesday night. We get together for food and drinks and settle in to watch this show we all remember from the early 90’s with its bizarre cast of characters and quirks. We’ve also brought out an opening band with episodes of ‘Freaks and Geeks’ to start the night. This is a must see show for any child of the 80’s.

My favorite DVD box set is Joss Whedon’s ‘Firefly’. Those of you that know me well know that already. It has been, and remains, one of my standard gifts to the uninitiated. In my undisciplined opinion it is the finest TV series to ever be cancelled after 14 episodes. I have a set that I loan out to people to bring them into the fold. Nobody as of yet has returned it and not enjoyed it.

My collection of TV DVD sets isn’t huge, but here’s a sample:
The Flash (not campy but still cheesy 1990’s TV superhero show)
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Seasons 1-7
Various Professional Wrestling volumes (a vice of mine, forgive me)

The DVD is really the first foray into on demand entertainment. Whenever you want it. On your own schedule. No rewinding. Netflix and Blockbuster’s mail service make it a snap to stay on top of your favorites. Sure, it’s being challenged by actual on-demand and online entertainment but, just as books won’t be entirely replaced by a computer, I don’t think the DVD box set will disappear until they stop making TV shows. Which, with the writer’s strike, is a real possibility. Never mind about that point then…

I’m always in the market for a show that I’ve missed in its first run. Buffy and Firefly are both something that I found after the fact. Do you have a DVD set to recommend?


Thursday, January 17, 2008

What's On Tap

OK. I've found a few spare minutes in my increasingly busy schedule. Here are some tidbits as we enter this weekend:

1) As you can see from the updated pic to the right, I have lost my beard, got a very close haircut and got some new specs for the peepers. The new me, if you will. Comments?

2) Mall shopping is for other people. I just exhausted myself getting all sorts of Linens N' Things (mostly things, in fact, all things) and Target items in preparation for my father's pending 75th birthday bash. It's going to be a gas, but I'm ready for the preparation to be over. Bring on the party.

3) Timbers tryouts are this weekend. It's at an undisclosed location and not open to the public. Check out The SoccerCityUSA board for speculation on where to go Saturday or Sunday morning if you're trying to crash it. I'll probably spend some of the morning wandering the University of Portland campus. I hear it's lovely this time of year. I'll probably blend in if I wear purple.

4) Speaking of Sunday morning, I've got an interview for the 107 Report with Gavin Wilkinson scheduled for 8am. That's actually an improvement on last season's scheduling, if you can believe it. I won't have tons of time with him but if there are any burning questions that you have, post them in the comments section and if they fit in I'll try to use them.

5) Timbers Army gathering at 7pm Saturday at the Horse Brass. This should be much fun. I'll be toting a bunch of CulturePulp prints for sale and giveaway.


By The Numbers

For those on Bruce health watch (Hi Mom!):

My blood work came back normal in all regards. Blood cell counts are great, overall cholesterol is very good.

Two areas of not major concern: LDL cholesterol is right at the edge of normal. But HDL and triglycerides are great so it's not major.

Blood sugar. 109 is considered the high normal. I'm at 110. Probably not a huge deal with continued weight loss and healthy diet, but probably something that we'll revisit before my annual.

Other than that, I feel great. Life is good.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Quiet Times

It's going to be quieter than normal around here until after the last weekend in January.

Y'see, my dad is turning 75 and I'm way involved in the party planning. It doesn't leave much time to devote to blogging among other things.

No fear though. I'll be back in full force once the party is complete.


Sunday, January 13, 2008


My friend Pete’s father died in his sleep yesterday morning. This was not unexpected. But it is still painful for him and his family.

I don’t have a proper tribute to Ogden, as I barely knew him. What I did know of him was through his son who is one of the most exceptional, uncompromising and fascinating people I’ve ever known. If a son is a reflection of his father then I can say I did know him. I admired him. I respected him. I loved him.

So, as I’ve gone about my business the last two days it’s been with a sense of loss. Concern for my friend and his family. Helplessness knowing that there’s little I can do and selfishness for thinking about my own helplessness amidst their pain and loss.

So I offer this to you.

Sons and fathers. These are probably the more uncomfortable of family relationships. Male roles often dictate that we not speak of our love for one another. Stupid. I hate that convention, yet I adhere to it far too much. So, please, if you’ve still got a father around, or a father figure, value that relationship. Validate it. Often.

Death. It’s natural. It’s painful. It makes little sense at the same time as it makes perfect sense. But death can also equal peace. It should equal peace. The conclusion of a life well lived.

Life. It is a gift. Live it as such. Make more of today than you expected. Surprise yourself. Surprise those around you.

Love. Let go of hate. It is a burden that you need not bear. Surround yourself with people that you do love. Nurture the best of those relationships.

So. Those are the deep thoughts for the weekend. Thanks for reading and sharing your own thoughts from time to time.


Friday, January 11, 2008

A Clean Bill Of Health

Why do they call it a “Bill of Health”? Seems like a weird statement. Illuminate me, dear readers as I am too lazy to Google it.

But, the skinny is that Bruce visited the doc for his annual this morning. No particularly bad news. The following might be too much information for some of you. Personal medical details folks. My Mom will be most interested, though.

I adore my doctor. She tells it to you straight. Gives you simple advice and congratulates you when you make progress. I got all of that today, but it was the congratulations that stuck. She even encouraged me to go snowshoeing tomorrow. How cool is that?

Blood work comes back in a few days. I expect that my not too bad cholesterol will have dropped into the very good cholesterol level. Everything seems to be functioning properly so hopefully the liver and kidney stuff comes back clean too.

I do have an ongoing problem with an abdominal hernia. With my weight loss my doctor can actually get a better idea of how severe it is. She says it’s a decent size but still nothing to worry about. If I want to fix it we’d want me to lose a bit more weight and get some more muscle in the area and then have a simple outpatient procedure. Let me think on this.

It’s time for an eye checkup so that’s now on the list. I do have a prescription for a slight astigmatism in my left eye and a bit of diminished eyesight in the right. But I rarely wear my glasses.

Tetanus is still up to date after slicing my finger in 2001.

Mom, the small mole on my left hairline is nothing to worry about. Neither is the little red spot that you didn’t see. Doc’s good.

Thankfully the more invasive evaluations are six and eleven years away.

Got updated prescription for minor hypertension (getting more minor too!) and minor asthma and encouraged to start a daily dose of vitamins and a baby aspirin. 40 is just around the corner.

My updated insurance card and cafeteria debit card functioned flawlessly. I was nervous about both of them so that is a relief.

My favorite thing that my doctor said to me was “You’re not obese.” I may get a bumper sticker made that says that very thing.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Rule of Threes Addendum: Ex-Girlfriend Pasta

I mentioned Ex-Girlfriend pasta previously; here's the recipe.

1 package rotini, ziti or fusili - your choice
1 wedge of brie or 8 oz. mozzarella - your choice
2 cans stewed tomatoes or 3 fresh tomatoes
4 cloves garlic
3 T Olive Oil
2/3 C fresh basil

Combine the olive oil, garlic, tomatoes and basil in a bowl. Let this sit for as long as possible. 30 minutes will suffice, but overnight will make a better flavored dish.

Cook the pasta according to directions. Cut up brie or mozzarella (I prefer the flavor of the brie but shredded mozz. makes it easier) and add to hot pasta. Stir until gooey. Add tomato/garlic/basil mixture. Stir more.


I always add a lot of fresh pepper when I serve this. The flavors really grow over a bit of time and this is actually better as leftovers. A quick, easy impressive dish. Serve with bread, wine and salad.

This is the only positive thing to have come out of my relationship with "Wanda". True.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Rule Of Threes

Everyone knows this rule. Good things happen in threes. Bad things happen in threes. Unusual/unexpected things happen in threes.

For example: 1) Plumbing in bathroom sink backs up. Requires effort, plumber or chemicals. 2) Fuel pump on car goes out. Requires replacement and frustration of no car or crappy replacement car. 3) Broken hand. Makes everything difficult.

Or this example: 1) Get an unexpected raise at work. Makes the days go by easier. 2) Meet a fantastic guy/girl and start a new exciting relationship. Makes everything seem better. 3) Your brother/sister introduces you to a new niece or nephew. Instant heart melting goodness.

I’m in a period here where I’ve had two of the unusual happen and I’m curious to know what the third will be. Here goes:

I recently ran into an ex-girlfriend at a Portland pub. “Laura” and I knew each other for about five years before we started dating. She was a great, fun, spirited woman and we had fun together. It couldn’t last for lots of reasons but certainly not because we didn’t like nor care for each other. In other words, it didn’t end badly. She’s since gotten married and moved away which made running into her in Portland that much more unusual.

Just the other night I got an email from Facebook that I had a friend invitation from “Joy”. Now Joy and I had dated back when we were in our college years. Nineteen years ago. It had been sixteen since we’d seen each other and probably twelve since I’d heard any concrete details about her life. She’s got a full family from what I know but I’m still waiting for the more complete get caught up emails. I hope they happen. She’s another great, fun woman who I think fondly of from time to time.

So. Which of my exes is next to pop out of the woodwork or the interweb tubes and challenge my delicate sensibilities?

Will it be:

“Alex” a college girlfriend?
“Betty” another college girlfriend?
“Donna” THE college girlfriend who shook up my life more than I cared for or was even prepared for?
“Nelly” My post-college LA girlfriend?
“Daria” the most mesmerizing yet perplexing woman I’ve ever known?
“Francine” after we dated she remained a good friend who has since disappeared. Where are you?
“Wanda” the girlfriend who gave me ex-girlfriend pasta?

So, I am left to wonder. Anyone want to make a prediction?


Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Ex-X

OK. So I said this wasn’t going to be all about weight loss on the blog. But you’ll have to indulge me. Things to say. Things to document.

About four years ago I had to make the decision to increase my t-shirt purchases from XL to XXL. I’ve always liked things to be a bit roomy on me. Not sure why. Just like the freedom of movement. Never had a super chiseled upper body anyway, not trying to kid anyone. But to keep things within my comfort level I had to go bigger.

But I have hereby broken up with the XXL. She’s now my Ex-X.

I actually think she’s happy about it. Sure she’d like to be with me forever, but nobody wins in a one-sided relationship. She was keeping me from spending time with the other clothes. I’d allowed her to control too much and this break-up is a good thing. It really is.

So, I’ve gone back to just the XL. I’m a good long ways away from the L, no doubt there. But I’m comfy in an XL again. She doesn’t put too much pressure on me. Lets me move about as I wish. Gives me my space. Plus we have so many more choices now. Nike really never catered to the Ex-X and Adidas is worse. And I’m still not comfortable putting on the Timbers most recent jersey – very form fitting, that one. But more choices are there.

So raise a glass of crisp, clean, cool water to the Ex-X. May she never see the inside of my closet again.

P.S. Anyone need some XXL t-shirts? Lightly used, well cared for.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

We're Back On Speaking Terms

My scale and I have been having a bit of a cold war. It seems she wanted to use the holidays to attempt to freeze me out. Make me feel unaccomplished.

But I showed her.

220 pounds this morning.

My metabolism is turbocharged right now. Righteous.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Darkness Falls Across The Land

It's really dark out in the morning.

Weirdly dark. Eerily dark. Thickly dark.

The type of dark that makes it feel colder than it really is. Damper than it really is. Evil is going too far, but it is foreboding in a way.

As I was driving to work this morning, around 7:15 am, I noticed the darkness. This was mostly by contrast. As I was dropping onto Highway 26 (Sunset Freeway) I entered the vista tunnel. Normally the tunnel is dimly lit. It has banks and banks of lights but usually only one in five is illuminated. Today it was charged up like a dance floor. On its roof. Two out of every three lamps inside it were lit and lit brightly. It was noticeable. It made me feel like I was in a science fiction movie, lunging out of a spaceship's launch bay.

It also made the rest of the darkness that much deeper. I found myself struggling to see the painted lines on the highway. The fog line (although there was no fog) was obscured. It was like the pavement had crept up over the white lines and covered them like a thick, coarse, gravel blanket.

When I arrived to work and settled in I overheard my colleagues talking about the exact same thing. That made me pause. If I notice this, and my colleagues notice this then there's something about in the Portland metro area, isn't there?

I'm not even sure if this is a rant about the infrastructure or a rant about how much the morning is showing its dark. Regardless, it is there. The absence of light. I would like it to change.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted...

I’m starting to make tentative plans for a late winter/early spring vacation. For someone who doesn’t travel much this is a pretty bold step. It’s not that I dislike being in new places. I actually enjoy it. It’s the actual travel that I dislike.

1) Flying. Not a big fan. Had a rough encounter in college and it gave me some serious insecurity. However, it’s one of those things where I just tell myself I’m happy that the pilot is in charge and not me since he has a bit more training than I do.
2) Airports. Between delays, lines, waiting, rushing and other people's kids they drive me nuts.
3) Planning. I can’t keep straight what attraction is where, the days of the week, the time change, etc. I am the last person who should be in charge of a group itinerary.
4) Spending money on services like airfare, hotel, cabs, etc. It always feels like throwing money away and while I’m not the most frugal guy on the planet I like tangible rewards. I can spend $700 on a flat panel TV but get me to spend $180/night on a hotel room and I want to take their TV with me.

My good friend Kip is getting hitched on April 5, so I’ll probably schedule something mid-March so I can be present for the build-up.

I’m not a sun-worshipper so I don’t need exotic locations or equatorial latitude or even bodies of clear water. I’m not opposed to cold temperatures so just about every area of the planet is in play.

I have a valid passport from my trip to England/Scotland in 2006 so I could get international if that’s what floats my boat (or lifts my aeroplane).

So, with all that I’d love suggestions for a good vacation for Bruce. I’m looking for something fun that could keep me occupied for a whole week. I’ll likely be traveling solo so that’s another consideration.

So, what say you dear readers?


Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Making it Great in 2008

I’ve never really been one for New Year’s Resolutions. I find that to be rather limiting. So I’m not going to make any New Year’s Resolutions, just reiterate the positive efforts of the last six months.

1) Lose weight. You already know that I’m off to a good start. I’m down to 223 and should be close to or under 220 when I visit the doctor for my annual on January 11. For those keeping score at home that will leave only 10 pounds to reach my goal of 210 by March 31. I’m not ready to move the goalposts yet, but I have to say that I am very satisfied with my progress and can probably surpass my initial goal.
2) Make every day a vacation day. I had my last vacation in August. It was very relaxing and reset my mood. At that time I committed to making every day a vacation day. I vowed not to let idiot drivers ruin my drive home. No yelling. No cursing. No impatience. I vowed never to be in a hurry. The positive impact on my work day has resulted in me not sweating the little stuff, let alone the big stuff. I have been able to detach my emotional well being from my job (mostly). My actual job performance has increased as a result. Wow. Care less. Produce more. Who knew?
3) Eliminating the word “No” from my vocabulary. I used to pride myself on being a guy who said “why not” instead of “why”. Somewhere along the way I got sidetracked and declining everything from a party invitation to a cup of coffee became commonplace. Making this small adjustment has brought a much better balance to my social life. I feel more connected to friends and family. Good stuff.

My three words: weight vacation no

In addition I expect that these ongoing changes will result in me taking a few more risks and reaping the rewards that risk taking generates.

Wish me luck. If you have some goals or even actual resolutions, please feel free to share.

New Year’s Haiku

It’s a brand new year
Full of opportunity
Make the most of it