Thursday, February 21, 2008

Portland, OR

Last weekend Michelle and I went to Portland. We'd been tossing the idea around for awhile now, and it came up again when I read Blue Like Jazz. Michelle had been once before, but it was my first time. We decided to take the train down. It's super convenient since it runs right through Bellingham, and we got a deal from the Portland Oregon Visitor's Association - 2 for 1 tickets. So altogether we went to Portland and back for $58! That's less than we would have spent on gas, and we got to sit back and relax for 6 hours instead of driving for 4.5. We used for the hotel, and it worked out great; we stayed at the Hilton downtown. The room was small, but very comfortable. We spent most of our time outside since the weather was so beautiful - 60 degrees! (+10 for the canucks) Here are a few pictures from the trip:

Here's an interesting bit of Portland architecture. I believe the establishment was called the "Salmon" or something.

This is the north end of a 6 block park, right in the heart of downtown Portland. The downtown area is interesting; it kind of sprawls, lacking the typical nucleus of really tall buildings. Instead there are a sprinkling of modern skyscrapers amongst old brick buildings, "character" apartments, parks, plazas, and independent shops.

This is me in front of Powell's bookstore. It's bigger than it looks; it takes up a complete city block. Instead of building a new building they just put doors joining the existing buildings when they expanded. I bought a copy of Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird" inside. A classic american novel from a fabled american bookstore.

Michelle in front of Voodoo Doughnuts. I heard about this place on NPR almost a year ago (check it out here). It's a tiny hole in the wall, and about as small inside as your average walk-in closet. My lemon chiffon cruller was... an experience.

This signpost was in Pioneer Plaza, 2 blocks from our hotel. That's pretty much it - that's what we saw and did in Portland.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Reading and Writing

So I took Traver on Fishing and Writer's FAQ back to the library yesterday. I hadn't finished either, but Traver was getting repetitive and Writer's FAQ was all about writing books, which I think would be a big leap for me at this point. I'm going to try to start with articles and stuff. I came across Helium, a site which offers the potential for making money by writing articles. What's the catch, you ask? Well you can expect to make about $0.01 per article per day on average. It's some type of revenue sharing thing from the banner ads I think.

I always feel bad when I don't finish a book that I start - I don't know why, but it's hard to admit I'm not going to finish a book. Which is probably why Winston Churchill is still on my Books I'm Reading list, even though I bought the book on my honeymoon a year ago. I probably haven't cracked it in 8 months. But I do know right where it is. In case you were wondering. Some famous librarian (is there such a thing?) once said that you should take 100 less your age and give each book you start that many pages to grip you - if you're not into it by that point, start something else. Other sage advice I've heard recently: "Never go into the aisles of a grocery store. Everything you need for healthy living is around the outside."

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Credit Card Checks

Why do credit card companies send people checks? It's all the inconvenience of a check combined with the high interest rate of a credit card. It combines the worst qualities of both, while excluding all the benefits. Who uses these? Are there people out there with credit cards and no checking accounts?

On the off chance that I've completely missed an awkward situation in which the answer to the above is a resounding "yes" - I apologize. Otherwise, I make no apologies - credit card checks are stupid.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Caucus Day

This afternoon I attended the Democratic Presidential Preference Caucus for precinct 208, Legislative District 42, here in Whatcom County. It was held in the library of a local elementary school (off topic, but no less noteworthy, I had time to read "Stone Soup", a book about 3 monks who use their culinary abilities, and lack of ingredients, to bring a village back together). There were 128 people present, and an older woman told me that in the past 35 had been a good turnout. About a third were under the age of 30. There was mass confusion about the rules, and it was pretty disorganized, but all in all I was glad I went. In total we had 17 delegates from our precinct to send to the County Convention; of those, 13 went for Obama and 4 went for Clinton. I was pretty happy with that turnout. I considered submitting myself as a candidate to be one of the Obama delegates to the County Convention, but it's on a Saturday in April, and if it's nice outside I might rather be fishing. Plus I heard that it takes all day long, and today's 2 hour session was enough for me. Democracy in small doses please.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Catch Up

I've been busy - so this will be an action-packed post.

Movies: I've seen Bucket List and Spy Game since I last posted. Bucket List was OK, but not recommended. You don't need to see it, but Jack Nicholson is entertaining to watch. Spy Game was a good thriller - I really liked watching Robert Redford play the seasoned CIA spy runner. The story was a little unsatisfying, but it's worth seeing if you haven't.

Spiritual Life: I've been wrestling with where my fulfillment comes from. Both work and recreation (fishing) have been unsatisfying surrogates, mostly because I've been looking to them as a primary source of life-meaning. I realize now, thanks to Michelle, that these aren't bad in themselves (there were some real depressing days when I thought I'd have to give up fishing) but that they'll never be enough for me unless I'm already being fulfilled through Christ. And I'm also trying to remember that they will be richest and most enjoyable when I 'm already satisfied in him.

Politics: Washington State's caucuses are this Saturday and I'm going to take the opportunity to participate. Generally I'm a Republican leaning individual (small government, fiscal responsibility) but none of the Republican candidates are even the tiniest bit inspiring. Not to mention the fact that I don't resonate with defense spending or the politicization of some moral issues (abortion, gay marriage) and not others (poverty, racism). I think that about covers the Republican platforms - oh yeah, and I'm not worried about a recession. In fact I'm not sure that I would mind an economic downturn. So that leaves the Democrats. I think I am somewhat of a personal appeal voter, because I can't stand Senator Clinton. Hearing her speak rubs me the wrong way, and her smile seems so stinkin' fake. I think I might vote for anyone but her. Besides, her positions on issues are identical to Obama's, and I like his youth and his idealism much better than her annoying experience. I think in the General Election Hillary Clinton unifies the Republican Party and John McCain appeals to independents - Republicans win. On the other hand, Barack Obama doesn't unify the Republicans (as much) and he appeals to independents and those looking for change (who isn't?) - Democrats win. So I think I want to cast my vote in the Washington State Democratic Caucuses for Obama - another young white male independent going for Obama. I hate being a statistic. Maybe I should look at Ron Paul again.

Fad Interest of the Month: Career as a writer/author. Somebody has to write great fiction - why not me? I'll let you know how it goes.