Portlandia, Whirlwind Weekend Edition

Another year, another visit to Portlandia!

Actually, it was more like, I had expiring hotel points and Portland was the cheapest airfare for the one weekend this summer Aaron said he didn’t have a race. Booked it!

Flew into town Saturday morning and hopped on TriMet to the hotel. I love how easy this is here.

As it turned out, we rolled right into the annual Rose Parade. Strolled a couple blocks and encountered a passing troupe playing wooden wind instruments that wound into the air like upside down charmed snakes. I have no idea what this instrument is called.

Walked another couple blocks and across Director Park, where we stopped to take in a youth production of pirates and princesses and rodents performing an aerials silks routine.

Onward, to Case Study Coffee! The gentleman behind the counter was super friendly and explained their offerings: “Everything we sell here is local. We make our own syrups. All the pastries are local as well; the top shelf is all vegan and gluten free.”

As we enjoyed our coffee, we looked out the window at a pack of red-nosed suit-clad clowns towing a three foot long wooden slug down the sidewalk. They stopped at the TriMet fare machine to buy tickets.

A pair of Rosie the Riveter twins passed behind them.

My toasted hazelnut latte was delicious.

We had arrived.

Properly caffeinated. To the Alder Street Food Cart Pod! Nommed on some pan fried dumplings and a jalapeño grilled cheese. Overheard a passing local talk about moving northeast of the city because of the rising cost of living.

Popped into Billy Galaxy, where they had a Trypticon in a box!!! The store employee was having a heck of a time finishing a Star Trek puzzle, so I asked if Aaron and I could help/play. Success! Yeah, teamwork!

Wandered some more. Stumbled across Wailua Shave Ice. Ate some. Because of course we did.

It was Saturday, so we visited the Portland Saturday Market. Sampled CBD fruit leathers, ate local caramels, tried crazy spicy jerky. Restrained myself from buying all the cool shirts.

Finished up at the market, came across American Panda, a liege waffle / Vietnamese sandwich cart. The lady running it was super nice. Ate a S’mores liege waffle sandwich and got to sample their durian ice cream. It was totally legit.

Next, Ground Kontrol, a retro video game arcade. Played Tetris, DDR Extreme, Mortal Kombat II, plus a couple super classics like Arkanoid and Tempest. They had a CBD soda on tap. Tried one because it was novel… and because everything else was beer.

After that, Powell’s City of Books! Came away with a book and a list of books.

I was surprised to encounter the latest edition of The Art of Electronics, a text book I hauled around when little high school me took a night class at Harvard. Looking at the book again, I realized the author was my instructor.

Not far from this book…

Aaron, to me: I need to find a book on time series.
Nearby patron: Did you say you were looking for a book on time series?

20 minutes and two patrons’ worth of discussions later Aaron had a bunch of tips on things to look into. They both left him with, “Good luck.”

Finally, dinner! I’d been looking forward to visiting Grassa again. Their food is super solid like Flour + Water in SF, but without the formality, impossible reservations, and prices. I had radiatore with clams, Chinese sausage, Thai spices, and fermented black beans. What??? It worked.

Saturday, fin. What a jam packed day.

Woke up Sunday and headed straight for Coco Donuts. Their cake donuts are so good! We followed this up with a latte at Heart Coffee.

Then it was off to the International Rose Test Garden. So many scents and colors! I sniffed until I couldn’t sniff anymore.

After that, a visit to the adjacent Japanese Garden. Admission wasn’t cheap, but wow it was beautiful. I quite enjoyed the fluffy maple trees bouncing in the wind, bouncing from single raindrops, housing entire ecosystems under their fluff.

The garden garden grounds were expansive, thoughtfully arranged, and meticulously maintained.

All that gardening made us hungry, so we headed to AFURI for yuzu shio ramen. Their broth was super unique, very citrusey, and quite good.

After ramen, Division Street. Came across the following quote in a storefront as we walked by, in the rain:

Some people walk in the rain. Others just get wet.

Thanks to the rain, we stood in a very reasonable 40 minute line at Salt & Straw. Their June Guest Chef Collaboration Series flavors were totally worth the wait. Aaron and I both got a flight of four flavors. My favorite? Duck Crackling with Cherry Preserves: A rich ice cream made with duck fat, molasses, and salted custard, swirled with tart cherry preserve, candied duck skin brittle, and a local honey gastrique. What a mouthful!

We left Salt & Straw full of ice cream, on top of being full of ramen. One block later, we came across Townshend’s Teahouse. I love love love this place. What better way to digest than with some hot tea? I enjoyed a cup of white tea and left with a bag of milk oolong tea leaves. If you like tea and have never tried milk oolong, do! And make sure you give a leaves a good sniff before you brew. This tea smells like none other.

Walked over to Hawthorne Boulevard. A few blocks in, saw a sign for Rachel’s Ginger Beer. As in, the entire store served ginger beer. Their pink guava flavor was delish.

Returned to the hotel stuffed, but then realized we wouldn’t get to visit Chizu if we didn’t go right then. So we went, and had an a super delicious omakse cheese plate. Our cheesemonger told us origin stories of all the cheeses we ate. It was so fascinating and tasty I didn’t even realize I was full.

Post-cheese, a visit to Breakside. Because beer, or something.

Monday! Another day, another coffee shop. Went with a Portland classic this time, Stumptown. Then it was off to Screen Door for more eating. Cheddar and bacon hush puppies! For the first time since my initial exposure to hush puppies in North Carolina, I was not disappointed. Screen Door’s hush puppies finally allowed me to appreciate and enjoy a different style of fried corn lumps.

Back across the river to see if we might want to visit the Lan Su Chinese Garden. This required walking through Chinatown, where I once again felt like the token Chinese person. That feeling didn’t change upon reaching the garden, and ultimately we decided against going in. I felt vindicated when we stopped in the gift shop and found Japanese items for sale.

Never mix China and Japan. Never ever Ever.

We wandered back toward the Pearl District and stumbled across Nola Donuts. Beignets??! Beignets!! It didn’t matter that we were still stuffed from Screen Door. We ate beignets.

Then it was time to visit Keller Fountain Park. I’ve really enjoyed all the gathering spaces like this sprinkled across the city. The water is soothing to the ears and the kids have a blast.

Post-fountain-waterfall, Aaron got his slice of Sizzle Pie and we headed to the airport. Our Portland experience continued there, with a few local shorts at the in-concourse mini Hollywood Theatre.

Then it was really time to go. Portland vs. San Francisco (not a head-to-head, just using SF as my point of reference)? There are just as many homeless people, fewer dogs, and way less street poop. We only encountered a single street poop, and a kind passerby alerted me to it as I approached. People are nicer here. I hope Portland manages to stay this way as they grow. And they are growing. Cranes and construction everywhere. Just like in SF.

Dear Semicolon

Dear semicolon
I profess my love for thee
Part comma
Part colon
You are the perfect in-between
Connecting my thoughts
That flow
But not quite
A perfect pause
Not too long;
Just right
Always in my pocket
Often in my prose
But then
Back into my pocket
For the sake of social flow

Elephant Adventure 35: Notice Dislike

I’ve spent the last 3+ weeks noticing dislike. Goodness, this was a long adventure.

Not that I dislike a lot of things. I only wrote down one Thing I disliked: clutter and disorder. (Maybe that counts as two.)

It’s People I dislike. Rather, their actions. I wrote a tome on people. The abridged version is below:

  • People who waste my time because (I think) they’re not trying.
  • People who waste my time by making me repeat myself.
  • People who waste my time by being late.
  • People being grumpy.
  • People being thoughtless, inconsiderate, unkind.

Really, I think it all boils down to the last bullet point. If we’re considerate of others, we won’t waste their time. We’d think about how we’re acting and how it affects those around us.

Maybe I can be more succinct: People being self-centered.

Or maybe I just don’t like people.

Elephant Adventure 36: Are You Overlooking Something?

Dance Dance Drum Master

We had another three blister class tonight. This time, I re-blistered two callouses and gained a new blister in a spot I didn’t think would suffer from blisters. Everyone was hurting by our break after the first hour.

In the second hour, we started in on… footwork! Up until now we’ve been drumming in a wide stable stance, but now there’s steps and dons and rim taps and tsu-kus and pauses and third beats and full beats and half beats all mixed together.

It’s really fun. I had a huge grin on my face for the last few run throughs.

Two Ball Variations

I discovered in a YouTube video the other day that I could be doing the one handed two ball juggle in different ways. I’ve had to adjust on the fly as I’ve practiced the 4 ball pattern, so, magically, I now seem to be able to do columns and outside-in, in addition to inside-out.

It’s fun to switch patterns in flight. Maybe a video sometime.

Real Bike Commuters Of Hillsdale Station

This is a picture I did not take of a woman riding into the sunset, dark solar shield obscuring her face, protecting her complexion from harmful UV rays, doing nothing for her brain, as she continued on, helmetless.

Thinking about this makes my poor little brain spin.

This is a picture I did not take of a man riding out of the parking lot, hi viz windbreaker, unzipped, flapping, “Look at me!” “Look at me!” “I’m a SUPERHERO!!!”.

I think I need a riding cape.

This is a picture I did not take of a woman riding down the street, past my car at the light, same time every day, with arms that say, “If I get to the station early I do overhead presses with my bike until the train arrives.”

Please don’t crush me.

Half a Four Ball Juggler

Jerry the Juggler said you can call yourself a juggler if you can make 2x the number of tosses as balls tossed. I can catch 8 tosses with 4 balls about half the time now, so that makes me half a 4 ball juggler.

Aw, crap, does that mean I’m actually just a 2 ball juggler?

I wasn’t one two months ago, so…



Back to the bouldering cave this morning to work on a not yet solved V3.

The penultimate move on this problem is a jump to a fat, non-juggy hold. These kinds of holds are not on my list of strengths, and it took me well over 10 tries over 2 sessions to start sticking it half the time.

Once there, both hands end up on this hold, and the next move is another jump to finish.

For me, the first jump is facing the wall. The second is with my right hip on the wall.

All this is to say that I warmed up on a few V0s this morning and my forearms felt crappy. I wasn’t really in a mood to work on the problem, but then one of the regulars I know came by and asked what I was working on. He gave it a try, had similar difficulties on the final move, and we took turns trying to puzzle it out. It was way more fun that way, and eventually I stuck the whole thing.

It felt a lot like last week. I’m really digging the weekday morning bouldering crew.

Three-Blister Class

We got the kitchen sink at taiko class tonight. Sensei had so much he wanted to run us through he skipped right over the usual warmup into a pattern. We did everything tonight: big hits, light taps, rim taps, showy arms, three counts, and full sequences all in one go.

Tonight was a three blister class. Record setting!

Looks like I have a new rating system for taiko class.

Jerry the Juggler

It was beautiful out this afternoon, so Aaron and I went to San Mateo for bubble tea and walked to Central Park. Jerry was there again with his juggling spread. I wanted to visit and Aaron agreed. Yay!

He got Aaron started with the basic toss right away. Then he asked how my juggling was going and I showed him my 423, thanking him for the 2-ball tips from last time. “That’s a 3 1/2 ball pattern,” he said, “You’re ready for 4!”

As it turns out, a 4 ball fountain is just the 2 ball pattern in each hand, staggered.

I say “just”, but I have a lot of practice ahead of me.

Once I could sort of do the 4 ball fountain, he started to teach me Mills Mess, which he showed me last time as well. Watching it is a mind warp, and it took me a bit to get even the second catch. But catch I did, and eventually I got the third catch as well. This one is going to take even more practice, but it’s going to look really freaking cool once I get it!

Also really freaking cool, Jerry had with him different sets of Gballz. I’d been wondering about these because the competitive juggling world seems to swear by them. Lucky me, I got to try a variety of Gballz sizes and weights today. The moment I held one I instantly understood why everyone raves about them.

If I learn Mills Mess I get to buy Gballz.

By the time we left, Aaron had the beginnings of a cascade. Success!