Thursday, April 27, 2006

Vesuvio is right.

Portland, Oregon is a big city with a little town feeling. The metro area is well over a million people (though very few seem to be natives), however it seems like each subculture within the city is very tight knit. All the indie rockers know each other. All of the heshers know each other. All of the Wall Street wanna-be's know each other. Or at least it sure seems that way.

Portland has a long list of great things to offer, including Powell’s Bookstore, Washington & Forest Parks, countless micro-breweries, a beautiful waterfront, no sales tax, and an ever growing downtown.

On the flipside… Portland is filled with earthy, veggie, atheist, fleece-wearing, left-winged extremist that would make most card carrying democrats barf. There is not as much rain as people are lead to believe, just countless days of mist and drizzle that would make anyone depressed (listen to an early Elliott Smith record). Downtown is filled with so many aggressive panhandlers and restless smelly youth from the 'burbs (Gresham) that it makes you not want to walk around by yourself at night. Property taxes are sky high (due to no sales tax). The school system is in shambles... you'll notice this when you walk around during the early afternoons and notice a ton of school aged kids not in class.

"We are itching to get away from Portland, Oregon" are the words painted across the front of Vesuvio, the Beat Cafe & Bar in San Francisco. And how right they are.

Monday, April 24, 2006


I am a Coke fan. Not a Pepsi person at all... too flat and too sweet for me. I am not one of those people who calls every beverage a Coke. If it's a Pepsi, it's a Pepsi. If it's an RC, then it's an RC. A Mountain Dew... a Mountain Dew. And if I am collectively talking about all of the bubbly sugar-filled beverages I use the term "soda" (not pop).

I am so much a fan of Coke, that when Coke comes out with a new beverage I must try it, at least once. C2 and Cherry Coke have been my two favorites, while Coke Zero is by far my least favorite (it truly is a Zero).

This morning was my introduction to Coke Blak. A coffee infused cola beverage that is selling around $4-$5 per four-pack. I believe it is being marketed as a low calorie energy drink. The highlight was that it came in a glass bottle which is a major plus. The problem (just a minor problem) was that it tastes awful. Pure yuck. The initial taste was a blend of coffee and cola. The after taste was more like cream soda. What? Cream soda (Side Note: In Australia, cream soda is generally known as creaming soda and is pink)? What was that flavor doing in there? I could not finish the 8oz bottle of Blak... half was all I could deal with. This may be because I am not use to drinking soda before noon, but I think it was the awful taste that made me dump half of it down the drain.

On my walk to work, which is only a mile, I felt the kick of the Blak hit me. By the time I reached the office door I had the shakes and felt like I was going to fall over. This may be due to large coffee plus half of 8oz of Blak I consumed before leaving home. But my guess is that Blak really is a kick-in-the-ass energy drink. And since all energy drinks taste nasty, so maybe there is no way to make a good tasting energy drink. So no more way overpriced Coke Blak for me. I don't feel like drinking some nasty beverage and then dropping dead of a heart attack on the way to work.

Friday, April 21, 2006


Q: How many goth kids does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A: None... because the darkness RULES!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Me me me me.

On the walk to work this morning my mind was completely stuck on the idea of blogs being so self-indulgent. Not all blogs, but blogs like this one. It's all about me. My thoughts. My questions. My stories. My life. Me, me, me, me. So self-centered. And growing up on quality television like the Brady Bunch I learned that diaries are to be kept personal, private, and locked (Brady Bunch Episode #22, "The Possible Dream" Originally aired: Friday February 27, 1970 on ABC). And blogs are anything but personal, private, and locked.

One of my friends lives in the same building as a successful Chicago blogger (success based on that fact she has a book deal based on her blog). My friend and his wife read her blog every day. Occasionally they have this blogger over for dinner and the awkward part is that they already know all of the stories and ideas she shares with them during the evening. Sort of creepy. Extremely awkward.

So why do people do these blogs? Are they a little voyeuristic? Are they extremely self-centered? Are they looking to be the next Bridget Jones?

For me it's simple. My writing is less than par, so, like reading, the best way to improve is to practice. My blog is self-centered. My blog is here to improve me. Maybe in months to come 5 of 9er will turn into book reports and essays about how the Blue-Tongued Skink is much more impressive than the Ornate Spiny-Tailed Lizard. You never know. But for right now... it's me me me.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Why should it stay in Vegas?

Any one who has watched at least some television during the past year has probably seen the commercials for Las Vegas. "What happens in Vegas, Stays In Vegas." Meaning... come to Las Vegas and sin all you want for a weekend, or a week, and all your bad deeds will never be spoken of again. You can go there and blow your life savings on the cards, or blow. Maybe lie, cheat, and steal. Or how about an affair. Now that is a good way to embrace the idea of Las Vegas being Sin City. Sort of the American equivalent to Amsterdam.

The concept I cannot seem to comprehend is why anyone would want to call Las Vegas home? What is there to do in Vegas that you would want to do all of the time? The gambling and drinking is fun in short doses for some... but can you do it all of the time? Does anyone really enjoy 125 degree weather? The late Spring, Summer, and early Fall days and nights are so hot you would end up living inside all the time for the a/c. But some say they move there for the clean air, but when do you breathe it if you are sucking in a/c all the time?

Visiting Vegas is for some. But leaving Las Vegas should be for all.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Rink and file.

Does anyone roller skate anymore? Anyone under the age of 30? Inline skates do not count since most people who rollerblade do it for exercise, or to be X-treme Sport dudes, and I think they are slowly dying out. I have read in numerous articles in periodicals over the past year about the resurgence of roller derby teams across the United States. Chicago has the Windy City Rollers which I proudly sport one of their t-shirts, but I've never gone to see them. But roller derby and roller skating are two different social events, although they do both involve roller skates, a rink, and going in circles. Roller derby is more of a spectator's sport (like professional wrestling), and roller skating is a leisurely activity. Many cities, including Chicago, have great ice skating rinks in the winter, so why don't they just change them over to a roller skating rink in the summer? How great that would be! Sunshine. Roller skates. Classic rock tunes blasting. I think we should bring the roller skating back. Roll Bounce tried to.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Spring 2.

Again, is there anything better than taking off from work early to enjoy an afternoon of baseball.. especially on a sunny day? I doubt it. My first game at Wrigley for this baseball season. Looking forward to the name-calling for wearing my Sox hat.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Tongue Tied.

This past weekend I went on a shopping adventure with LP and Will on the MagMile. The end result was me purchasing a fantastic new suit (with an English Cut Jacket... I just learned that term so I should use it). Now I am not one who owns tons of suits, this is only the third suit I've ever purchased, so for me the experience is half of the fun. This experience was classic. The sales associate (or whatever they are called these days) approached me to explain all about the different types of suits, cuts, fabrics, styles, blah...blah...blah. I was taken back since his speech was hard to understand and I soon came to the conclusion that he was hard-of-hearing. After a few more minutes I realized my first conclusion was wrong when I discovered Mr. Young Hip sales associate had his tongue pierced. Wow. I am sure Mr. Young Hip's significant other adores his little tongue spike, but the kid was so hard to understand it was to the point of being laughable. Not sure if this made me feel old or square, but I was a little surprised since way back (the 90's) when I had a retail job, men were not even allowed to have earrings larger than studs. But I am sure cool and hip goes farther these days. And I did end up buying the suit, so Mr. Young Hip Tongue Tied did get his commission. Plus, I did learn that the English Cut Jacket always covers your butt, even when you put your hands in your pockets.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Where is my shirt?

When Friday mornings come along, I seem to always be groggy and sleepy, yet simultaneously "pumped" because it is the end of the workweek. This morning was like every Friday morning. Groggy. Sleepy. Pumped. [Side Note: The word "pumped" is so vile... it should be used more often.] The weather outside was cool and rainy, so I put on the Barsuk sweatshirt, black jacket, and bag and headed off to work. By the time I got to the office, I was sweating... super hot. I walk fast so this happens on occasion. I tore off the jacket and sweatshirt only to discover I forgot to put on my shirt this morning. I did have my white undershirt on (one of the old ones that needs to be thrown away). With this embarrassing discovery, I quickly put the hoodie back on and walked directly to the coffee shop and ordered a very large coffee (with 2% milk).

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Is there anything better than taking off from work early to enjoy an afternoon of baseball.. especially on a sunny day? I doubt it.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Hello Baseball!

The 2006 baseball season is finally here and last night's game on Chicago's South Side was a wet one. A lovely two hour rain delay that saw even the biggest White Sox fans head for home. Why? Because the next morning was a Monday and some people actually do have to be at work and be productive. And this was no little rain delay. This was the heavens opening up and dumping mass amounts of water, lightening, thunder, hail, dogs, cats, llamas... you name it. We were thinking about building an ark. It looked like it would never stop.

The highlight for some last night was Jim Thome's home run, or the World Series banner being unveiled, or even the ear shattering fighter jets that flew right over our heads. For others (mostly women) it was the fact that all of the men's bathrooms had huge lines and the women's bathrooms had no lines. My guess was more men drink too much, and also it's a baseball game so there is probably more men / boys in attendance. But when all was said and done, the game ended at 1:10am and the White Sox had won.

I guess people can debate that if you left early you are not a true fan. I really feel the only way to test a true fan is when the team has a losing season... were those fans there? I am sure many Cub fans are now cheering on the South Side, and for me that does not bother me at all. It's about baseball. And maybe I feel this way because I did not grow up in Chicago, and I've been a fan of the White Sox in good times. But the game of baseball is bigger than all of it. To be at a game is one of life's best experiences... Even on a rainy day. Hello Baseball.