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March 31st, 2008

01:09 pm: Lets See...
Oh the changes. Seems like I've been changing so many things lately. Things that I wasn't sure would be sustainable, but seemed like a good idea at the time. Turns out that I seem to have more of a capacity for change than I previous thought. Getting rid of my car so we could get a sensible family hauler was the first sign that things in my scatterbrain weren't the same as usual. And, after about a week of laying in bed at night thinking about when I was going to be able to get another car, the car jones went away. At first it was a struggle to replace the car thoughts with other, more-productive thoughts, but then the car thoughts just stopped being at the forefront of my mind. Sure I still have the random, "Damn I wish I hadn't gotten rid of my car" thoughts, but they're few and far between.

A reason for the change might have something to do with goals. I've tried to figure out what my long-term goal is and tailor my life/thoughts to support that goal. So what's the goal? Turns out it's money. Not just money for money's sake, but money for what it can provide. That is, security, freedom, and peace of mind. When I don't have enough money to do basic things like go out for a beer once-in-a-while or buy some new shoes when I need them, it makes me cranky. When I don't have enough money to buy my wife something nice once-in-a-while, it makes me (irrationally) feel like a bad husband. When I don't have enough money going into a retirement plan or savings, it makes me feel like I'm going to end up like my folks and have to work until I'm 105. So, while I know money can't solve everything and isn't an end unto itself, it will give me the ability to kind of get on with some things in life I feel have been on hold...like kids. It'd be nice to have enough money to support a child and have something left over so I'm not resentful of the little nipper. Some people want kids more than anything else, so it's not an issue, but I want kids AND some stuff to myself that isn't kid-oriented. I think that's possible, it just takes a little more money.

The thing is, the changes I'm making in my life to support my goal don't bring in money by themselves. Well, the giving up of the car did and canceling my World of Warcraft account after years of playing certainly saved a little money, but I'm now to the point of looking at how I spend my time and am I doing things in my daily life that are furthering my goal of becoming an accountant, which will allow me to make more money. Toward that end, I stopped drinking coffee. I'm pretty much only drinking green tea now. Turns out that coffee made me a little too unstable with ups and downs throughout the day. Plus, it made my stomach feel like crap since I don't eat a lot during the day. Emotional instability and nausea do not make for a positive experience when trying to focus on schoolwork. I've also been trying to keep up with current business and world events and read the New York Times website more than I read Autoblog. The latter is pure entertainment, which is nice once-in-a-while, but it doesn't give me the same insights into the world as the former. Plus, I'm really trying hard not to be an American who doesn't know anything about what's going on in the world outside of what the local news presents.

It's been an interesting mix of things lately. The lack of coffee has made me feel a little less connected to things around me, but keeping up with current events has made me feel more connected to the world as a whole. My mental net has been cast much wider than ever before. That's probably good, because the local waters of my mind have been over-fished for years.

February 28th, 2008

11:36 am: Street Fighter
I'm getting mildly frustrated (oh, there's something new) with bicyclists lately. I've been trying to foster a working relationship with them for some time now. In all honesty, I don't want bikes on the street or the sidewalk or anywhere near any place I might drive. But, I get the purpose they serve, the resources they save, the exercise they give, etc. I just like to drive more than most things and anything that doesn't help me with driving just gets in the way of driving.

I've come to understand the ways of the Portland pedestrian mainly by just being one. I try to be a good pedestrian and don't cross against the light if someone's waiting to make a right turn and my walking will interrupt their being able to go on green. Perhaps it's because I'm not a Portland bicyclist, but I just can't get on board with bicycles downtown. I guess the problem is that our city says, "Hey, bikers, we love you and want you." But then there are many streets without bike lanes, so the bikers have to ride with traffic or on the sidewalk.

I'd be down with this if all bicyclists could keep up with traffic. Sure, the bike messengers and younger riders can easily keep up with traffic, but there are plenty of corporate bicyclists who just get in the way. You know the guys; mid-life-bulge hanging over bicycle shorts, mirrors on the helmet, probably grey-bearded. Then there's the hardcore cyclists who ride the Tour de France bikes (along with complete Tour de France matching outfit) who are always in the wrong gear and either take forever to get moving again or never stop for lights and stop signs. These are the same people who often populate my favorite winding mountain roads at 6 AM on a Sunday morning. Go to church or something you freaks! You do not belong on a steep, steep 55 MPH speed limit mountain road going 3 MPH next to a sheer drop-off. I know you think this is a free country, but it's not. If you ride on any incline greater than 8 degrees you enter a fascist state run by automobile drivers...and sometimes those high school boys who run cross-country.

From a downtown standpoint, I don't know that mixed-use transportation areas really serve the users as well as possible. Sidewalks aren't really made to accommodate bikers or skaters. Streets aren't any better. A longboard is great transportation unless you have to stop or avoid a crowd. Bikes on sidewalks are a little dangerous since no one has those little bell things that we used to have as kids and with the advent of the iPod, no one can hear anyway. I mean, sidewalks are bad enough already just trying to navigate around the vapid girl on her cell phone, the old couple with nowhere to go or the tourists.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but a great solution would be to disallow cars downtown. Everyone parks outside the city and takes some form of transit into the city center. If you ride a bike, you wouldn't need to park n' ride, but just ride. If you drive a car and don't have a folding bike, you'd pay the price of driving by having to wait for mass transit or hoofing it into the city. It just seems that by being so permissive in our transportation system and trying to accommodate everyone is just going to end up not being a great solution for anyone. We're Portland. We know we're going to have rebellious cats who don't follow the rules of driving, biking, walking, skating, etc. So why don't we work some of that into our systems? I mean, big, green bike boxes at certain intersections? Really? Is putting a bicyclist in front of a a giant SUV driven by a lady from Beaverton talking on her cell phone really the answer? Seems like all they're doing is saving the bicyclists the emotional pain of seeing their death coming. I guess there is something very Portland to that. Nothing more organic than smooshed human.

February 27th, 2008

10:28 am: Street Shout-Out
Today's post goes out to my favorite construction worker. Well, she's not necessarily a construction worker, but she's always working around construction. She's the woman who directs traffic around busy work sites. Right now a significant chunk of southern Portland streets are being torn up as construction is also going on for a new structure on campus. Driving is a mess and both pedestrians and drivers are on edge. However, there's this one woman who works for one of the construction companies who always puts a smile on my face. Perhaps because she's always got a smile on hers. I've seen her in many intersections over the past couple years and she's always the same. She is overly tanned from working outside and her hair is overly blonde and stringy under her hard hat. However, she always has a giant smile on her face and always has a "Honey", "Sweetie", "Sugar" or "Dear" for the folks crossing the street. I don't know how she does it. I mean, she doesn't have Down Syndrome or anything, so she's not obviously predisposed to being happy. Whatever it is, she's either an excellent faker or has just found her niche. Either way, I salute her.

February 22nd, 2008

10:30 am: Pregnant Paws
Well here's a surprise. I think I'm depressed. It even surprised me. Can one truly be surprised by depression? It seems like surprise takes some excitation and I'm not mustering much of that lately. I haven't sorted out the feelings yet, but I think it may have something to do with getting rid of my car. While I know it was a good logical decision and it's saving us a buncha' money/month, I think it was serving some purpose that I didn't know about until it was gone.

Maybe I'm not clinically depressed, but I do find myself caring less and sighing more. So I guess I just have clinical ennui. So, to sum up my current situation: Status Quo - Excitation = Clinical Ennui.

And, I have an overwhelming desire for a fruit roll-up. Maybe I'm pregnant.

February 20th, 2008

10:13 am: A couple years ago I felt like I was on information overload. I was learning an all-new job, going to school and was newly married. There was just too much new information coming in and not enough time to process it; like a Tetris game where you can't move the pieces side-to-side and they just stack up and you lose. I feel like I'm finally at a point in my life where the information I receive/process has appropriate compartments and therefore doesn't just build up in a nonsensical way. I never realized before this that it's not just the information that I'm putting into my head that's important, but that my brain has the correct structure and capacity to store and process the information.

Just as working in a retail job should be mandatory to get a driver's license, so should taking some kind of class to figure out how to process information in a way that it's more applicable to life than another episode of 'Everybody Loves Raymond'.

February 15th, 2008

10:16 am: I have the same problem at school that I did at work. No, not that stupid person who would burn the microwave popcorn or the other stupid person who would chat on the phone all day with her friends next to me. I mean the fact that after lunch I'm pretty much worthless. I could get in at 6 AM and work until 1 PM or so, but after that I just wanted a nap. Same deal with school. My morning classes go well, but after lunch I just want to leave. It doesn't help that one of those afternoon classes is full of annoying engineering guys and the other one is in Spanish.

Oh...wait a minute...I'm in a morning class now and this teacher is the human equivalent of burnt
popcorn with the personality of an engineering student.

February 11th, 2008

11:24 am: What the hell?
It seems I've become responsible. We got a new car this weekend. Traded in my solely fun, impractically fast Evo for a completely responsible and practical Mazda3 hatchback so we can put the dog in the back and get the good gas mileage and all that jazz. I find myself feeling like I came out ahead because we'll be saving ~$250/month in payments, gas, etc. I got rid of something fun and impractical for something cushy and practical and I feel the end sum is positive? What happened? At 35 am I finally becoming an 'adult'? That can't be the case, because there are plenty of people I would call 'adult' who don't have a sense of financial responsibility. It's becoming sort of like a game for me. The game is called 'How Much Fun Can Be Had Using the Least Amount of Cash?' Why couldn't someone have taught me this game when I was six? Is this something you can teach kids and have them think it's fun while not letting on that it's also good for them? With my luck, I'd teach this to kids and they'd use it as an excuse to steal things. And, as long as they don't get caught, doesn't that kind of make me a good teacher? Too bad there aren't street urchins anymore. I could have me a whole passel of those.

11:14 am: You know how I know you're gay?
You have a chin-strap beard.

And by "gay", I mean the furthest thing from hot, homosexual men. I'm talking Vanilla Ice gay. I'm talking kids from the Real World gay. I'm talking camouflage hat from Old Navy standing next to the girl with the 3-inch-heel-fuzzy-with-tassles Ugh (sic) Boots gay.

February 6th, 2008

10:17 am: A New Game
I've started doing this new thing to entertain myself during school. We're now a buncha' weeks into the quarter so people have all found seats that they like and sit there every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I've started picking people out of the class and sitting in the seat in which they normally sit. I then pretend to be reading something when they come in, but I'm secretly looking for their reaction to me sitting in 'their' seat. And, before you think I'm a mean passive-aggressive SOB for doing this, I have to say that it wasn't my initial plan to do this.

One day I went to a class and someone was sitting in the seat where I normally sit. (This is sounding very 3 bears) So, I had to find another place to sit. Of course, it's a full class, so I was then sitting in someone else's seat. When that person came in, he was just dumbfounded that I was in his seat. At that point I decided that 1) I would try to move my seat around so I don't get upset if someone has been eating my porridge...errr, sitting in my seat, 2) it's good for me to view the world (even the world of a classroom) from a different position as much as possible, and 3) it's fun to kinda' mess with other people's false sense of regularity.

Even if you don't go to school, try this in other places. At meetings, at church, or even on the couch in the family room. Sit in someone else's unassigned seat. It's a good way to change your view of the world and, if you're really lucky, engage someone in a discussion about sense of entitlement and some odd biological need for normalcy. If you're really unlucky, you'll sit in the seat of a severely overweight man who doesn't see you and sits on you. Then he notices you, but in your flattened state he thinks you're a fruit roll-up and eats you.

February 4th, 2008

10:08 am: Recipe for Meet Stew
I've gotta' take a class or read a book or something on how to confront people in a happy, chummy way. I find myself sitting and stewing about things too often because I can't form thoughts about someone who is bugging me that don't involve face punching. Like the cud-chewing-gum-smacker behind me in class who sounds like she's got a piece of pasta halfway down her throat and halfway out her gob for 60 minutes straight. Or the kid talking to his pimply-faced, hockey-jersey-wearing friend about how badass he was when he sucker-punched a drunk guy. I've got to come up with something to say to these people that doesn't start (and end) with "Hey, can you do me a favor and please fall off a building, light yourself on fire or just shut the fuck up?" I mean, I said, "Please", what else can I do? Drinking and smoking between classes might work, but by the end of the day I'd probably be wholly unprepared for Spanish class. Drunk, cigarette-smelling English does not equal any dialect of Spanish. Well, maybe in Tijuana, but certainly not this far north of the border.

And, not speaking of the Super Bowl, the best part of it for me was seeing the Terminator robot trounce the weird football robot Fox Sports uses before commercial breaks. And people say I'm too much of a geek to know anything about sports. Ha! I guess I showed them...

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