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.



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...


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.


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.


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


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:


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.


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.


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.


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.



Friday, May 2, 2008

Are We There Yet?


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.