Portlandia, Neighborhood Edition

My friend Linda moved to Portlandia earlier this year. She declared she wanted visitors, so when I found myself with an o-daiko-free weekend, I flew up to say hello.

My two recent trips to Portland most hit city center and some of the more popular drags. It was great to experience Portland from the neighborhoods. I love that all the houses are unique, and many people have porches. Neighbors know each other, and Little Free Libraries are everywhere.

Related to me by someone with direct experience: One can prank their Portlandia neighbor by filling their Little Free Library with “God books”.

I wrote a lot about food on my previous trips. While I did revisit a few of my favorites (Coco Donuts, Grassa, Pine State Biscuits… hello carbs!), I got to try some off the beaten path neighborhood food carts, coffee shops, and restaurants: The Meddling Lime, Fairlane Coffee, Rose City Coffee, Communion Bakehouse. All delicious!

We also did a tea tasting at Steven Smith Teamaker. If you like tea, go! Bring a book or a friend and settle in for a fun and tasty experience.

Besides eating, we minded some literal Ps:

– Planet Granite: It’s huge! More tall, more walls, more everything.
– Peculiarium: A total tourist trap, as expected. Check!
– Powell’s City of Books: My mecca.

A few notes on people:
– People say hi to each other in passing.
– Drivers let each other in.
– I posed in front of a mural for a selfie. A lady approaching thought she was in my way of a picture and apologized for being in the way. This is half of us laughing about it.

Related to people, on the third day we took a bus into town. As several passengers came down the aisle, one of them stared at me, hard. After a moment, I realized she didn’t look like everyone else: she was Asian. And then I realized I was too. I hadn’t noticed how white Portland was until that moment, and no one had treated me any differently to highlight that I’m not.

Finally, some beautiful bike infrastructure:

I couldn’t figure out what purpose it served when I first came across it, but this article illustrates it well in the before and after.

New Shoes

3+ years later, I’ve finally worn through the Veloster’s stock Kumho Solus tires.

I replaced them with a set of Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires.

The difference is striking. They’re quieter, cushier, and grippier.

On one hand, I’m a little sad I waited so long.

On the other hand, having to run the stock tires for 3 years means I appreciate these Michelins more than I thought possible.

Who knew shoes made such a difference?

Actually, I knew. Because if you really think about it, shoes make all the difference in every activity: climbing, hockey, skiing, snowboarding…

I’ve been a lot of “duh” moments this month.

Hulk Smash Happy Dance

Two things from o-daiko class last night.

Thing one: I realized partway through our right-right-left-left slow-fast repeat-repeat-repeat-faster drill that the secret to hitting hard isn’t just a full backswing and a throw-and-extend into the drum face. It’s using our core.

Oh. Duh.

Seriously. Duh.

Have I not been playing sports my entire life? How do I not know to start with this in everything I do?

Thing two: I finally bought my own set of o-daiko bachi. They feel solid and powerful! After hitting with it for less than an hour, I cracked the tip.

It’s not quite as spectacular as the one I split in two at my first class, but I can at least claim full responsibility for this one.

I’m quite enjoying my giant bachi smashing track record right now.

Elephant Adventure 44: Impatience

It’s been almost 3 months since I started this Adventure. I’ve been really really patient about completing it.

Kidding! That’s a lame excuse and everyone knows it.

It was interesting for me to watch myself re-read this chapter, because I’m quite impatient when I read. I just want to get to the end of the paragraph, sentence, article, and I can’t get there fast enough. Why must I spend time reading? It’s too slow. There must be a better way. My brain needs a direct connection to the Internet.

Know what’s worse than reading? Watching video. Video forces me to spend a set amount of time on information intake. I rarely find the time to be worth the content, unless I’m stuck on a plane.

This probably explains why I can only listen to podcasts when I’m multitasking. If I’m going to only listen to a podcast, I might as well read about whatever they have to say. It’s faster.

Enough about being impatient. Let’s talk about driving, an activity that turns many people into impatient rage monsters.

That used to be me. But I haven’t felt anything close to impatience or rage in a long time.

It’s not that I’ve become a road Buddha*. I definitely notice when I find myself behind a Z3 going 25 miles per hour on a fun twisty road**. But catching that initial feeling and realizing there’s no point in getting worked up about it lets me relax and enjoy the beautiful drive.

I guess that’s what’s changed for me. I notice when I start to feel a little off, evaluate that feeling, and change course. Feeling impatient is unpleasant. Why is going faster so important, anyway? In most cases, it’s not.

The same goes for grocery store lines and waiting rooms.

Back to reading. Maybe I should learn to speed read?

Actually, I already kind of do. From Slack a couple weeks ago:

Coworker: seriously, how do you read these that fast
Me: i don’t actually read anything i just scan for info
Me: my reading comprehension is crap, as my guidance counselor told me years ago

I did a search on speed reading just now, and a quick scan through the Wikipedia article on speed reading has me wondering if my comprehension problem is a direct result of how I read.

Someone please actually read this article and tell me if I properly comprehended it.

Anyway, I’m pretty sure learning to speed read was not the point of this exercise. I’ll have to think on this one. Taking my time learning things is in direct conflict with my desire to Learn All The Things! So much to learn, so little time.

Elephant Adeventure 45: Anxiety

* Fun fact: I had a little plastic capsule machine Buddha on the dashboard of my Civic back in my impatient rage monster days. I retrieved it from the junk yard after I totaled my car. I guess it didn’t work.

** True story from last weekend. I quite enjoyed the beautiful drive, and was amused when all my other ride buddies complained about the slow Z3 on the way to the trailhead.

Counter Space

A couple days after Warning Puff, I came across a spider on the kitchen counter. I picked up a piece of paper and tried to get it to climb on, but it wouldn’t cooperate.

I didn’t have time for silly counter space games, so I brushed it off the counter with the paper onto my hand and walked it outside.

As I walked back inside, I marveled at how I’ve gone from being smash-it-to-smithereens-with-a-hockey-stick scared of spiders to a nonchalant rehomer. I said a silent thank you to Chris Hadfield, whose TED Talk I watched a few years ago. Turns out it’s possible to logic and practice your way out of a caveman reaction.

Warning Puff

Me: *showering*
Spider: *dangles down from ceiling*
Me: *concerned the spider might drown, blows a warning puff* Stay where you are.
Spider: *stops*
Me: *leans in for a better look* You’re already missing a leg, don’t come down here.
Spider: *scrambles back up to ceiling*

I categorized this in Pests because that’s where my spider posts have always gone, but I’m starting to think I should rename this category. The use of this term is more a reflection of me than it is of them.

Imaginary Stabbing

Sensei decided it was time to teach the hard part of the song we’re working on in Tuesday class. It involves striking the drum, striking a bunch of poses, waltzing from one side of the drum to the other, stabbing imaginary people while striking the drum, swooping our arms in the air and striking a pose, sometimes in combination, not in this order, to the beat, in one continuous sequence.

Head asplodey fun!

Ow, My Arms

First o-daiko class in a month! It took me a little while to remember some basics: not throwing my body forward, left arm all the way back. The first hour of drills were straight pain. But once we got into hour two and started playing an actual piece, everything got better. O-daiko is fun! I’m glad sensei’s summer is over… just in time for my own travel. D’oh.

Triple Jawed Megalodon

Found myself at the airport without my passport, asked for it to be delivered curbside, got lost running to the curb and ended up at Fisherman’s Wharf, where people were gathered to whale watch. I stopped to watch and instead of a whale saw two triple jawed megalodons breaching… at each other. One ate the other. I captured some great pictures of the action on my phone. They came out looking like oil paintings! Then a giant wave came and we all got wet.