Just an analog guy in a digital world

I’m just an analog guy in a digital world. That is still one of my favorite quotes from Hank Moody in Californiacation. Hell it is the only quote I can remember from him. I feel to at least a certain degree it is true for me. At the same time, the convenience of modern technology is something I don’t feel I could live without. Well, I could live without it but I sure as hell don’t want to have to.
I love notebooks, pens, paper, and having hard copies of things. At the same time, I love Excel and having searchable databases that I can custom sort however I want. I like carrying around an actual calendar planner in my pocket instead of relying on a Google Calendar on my phone. Especially for going back and referencing what I have done in the past or have upcoming. I am also terrible at actually remembering to use either of them.
Then there is radio, something I grew up on, especially listening to sports on the radio. I grew up listening to Dean Vrooman calling Portland Winterhawks games on the radio for most of my childhood. Combine that with listening to the Blazers and Mariners as well, I have always had a soft spot for radio. Now with playlists and Spotify and Pandora, about the only time I ever listen to the radio is in the car, and even that is not as often as it once was. As a kid I bought myself a shortwave radio with Christmas money one year. I never really was able to pick up any shortwave stations, but I was able to pick up a good many distant AM stations, which lead to me being able to listen to Calgary Flames hockey as well as various other sporting events from around the Western United States before being able to listen to anything on the Internet was even a thought.
To a degree, I do miss that, there was something about tuning in, hearing a station fade in and out while listening to a game. With how technology has changed though, that isn’t an issue anymore. Online radio and streaming video service has made it so trying to listen the old way, from a long distance is just a waste of time. Hell, some teams, Portland Winterhawks included don’t even broadcast on an actual radio station anymore, they have moved to online only. It is great if you are a fan of a team that you don’t live geographically close to, both for radio as well as television/streaming but it just isn’t the same. The whole idea of struggling to tune in to listen to something you want to hear is a romantic one, going back to the way things used to be.
I still prefer to carry cash than use a card most of the time, it took me forever to embrace using a debit card for the longest time. True, it is more convenient but still, I prefer cash, I just find it, well, easier. Part of me is just wants to just make things easier for me, and in some ways that is more digital, others more analog.
Maybe I am not as analog as I think I am. I mean this is a blog after all, it isn’t like I created a zine and am handing it out on the street corner to anyone who would take it. There are just some analog aspects I feel I embrace more than a lot of people, especially people around my age. I am hoping that this next year I actually am able to use a planner, a paper one, either of the Field Notes, or Travelers Notebook variety and actually use it the whole year instead of just forgetting about it after a few months. My follow through on things leaves a lot to be desired.

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I hate writing at home

It isn’t that I don’t enjoy writing at home, it just seems I end up being less productive when I am at my own home and have more distractions than I do if I am out somewhere like a coffee shop or even a bar. I know that probably doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to some people. How can you write in public where there are elevnty million more distractions than there would be in the controlled environment of your home. I do have my reasoning though.
Yes, in public there are distractions, however to me there are far less in public than there are at home. When I am home there are so many other things at home that I could or should be doing to try and take me away from my writing than there if I am out in public. At home there is also a cat, or multiple cats who are oh so happy to get on my lap, lay on my laptop and the like, which thankfully is not an issue I have in public. At home, there are also video games, not that I don’t have Steam installed on my laptop as well, but I play games on my laptop, and generally use my laptop far less than I do with my desktop at home. With that, I don’t have any favorites saved to speak of on my laptop, so most of my favorite time wasting websites are a bit more difficult for me to access than they would be at home.
During National Novel Writing Month time, the first couple years I competed I did nearly all of my writing on days off from work and classes at the Joe Crowley Student Union at the University of Nevada, Reno where I went to school. It got me out of the house, and I had a comfortable seat in which to sit and write and focus on what I was working on and not any of the other distractions of home. Also, I was able to take little bits of conversations I overheard and throw snippits of them into ideas in the novel, either as things characters discussed with each other. Being able to just take little bits of other peoples thoughts and ideas and form them into something else that I never would have thought of was a nice little change of pace for my writing when I was sitting staring at the screen with no idea of where to go with it next.
Portland has no shortage of coffee shops to write in, at present I am writing this in a Dutch Brothers near Providence Park in the Goose Hollow neighborhood of Portland and I am enjoying a much different music selection than what I would normally listen to, as well as conversations between baristas and customers and it is just a welcome change from writing with headphones, or just writing at home with no background noise at all.
Of course, sometimes writing at home is inevitable. An idea will hit me in the evening or early morning when I am home, lounging around before bed or right after I roll out of bed in the morning and I am in no position to head out immediately or anytime soon to do any writing so I either sit down at my computer at home and work on a draft of something or I outline ideas for what I want to write in one of my many notebooks to go address later when I have a chance to sit down and properly write. I am a firm believer in always carrying a notebook of some sort with you to have a means to record ideas. Either that or scraps of paper in my wallet.
Even though I can write either at home or out in the public, I prefer writing out in public, I find it to be more peaceful most of the time and generally speaking I am able to be much more productive, even more so if the place I am writing has no WiFi to distract me too. The less distractions the better, even though having WiFi can be very helpful to cross check things I am referencing and the like.
Where are some of your favorite places to work? At home? A coffee shop or bar? Any recommendations for good places to write in Portland?

The creative process, or lack thereof

I am terrible at keeping this thing even remotely up to date. I am terrible at a lot of things to be honest. I start writing projects that I never finish, hell never even come close to finish. I have a folder on one of my many flash drives that has a ton of story ideas and most of them are nothing more than a paragraph. A lot of those ideas haven’t even been opened or looked at in at least five years. I am terrible at the follow through on ideas. Having the ideas in the first place is a good thing but following through and working at completing them is not my strong suit at all.
Picture a day challenge on Instagram, failed. Writing in a journal daily, failed that too. Keeping a planner on me and keeping the calendar up to date, a huge swing and a miss for me.
I need to be better but I don’t even know if I know how to be better when failing at following through on things has been something that has always been an issue for me. L love to write, I love to take pictures and do photography related things but it is so rare that I do anything related to either of those things.
What I have been working on the most the last few months is the tracking of sports odds for betting purposes, starting with MLS and MLB and then expanding to include WNBA, CFL and now the English Premier League and Championship. That is a lot of data that I am compiling daily into many different spreadsheets. I am honestly surprised with myself that I have managed to record things successfully since March. The last time I tried doing this, mainly with just MLB I gave up by the early part of June. I am damn proud of myself for not giving up.
Part of the reason for wanting to do all of that in the first place was if sports betting became legal in the United States. It has since been legalized by the United States Supreme Court, now to see if Oregon rolls out any sort of betting. One can hope at least. I was able to use my data on my brief Nevada trip this year to cash in a winning bet so it wasn’t for nothing.
Still, I need to be better, more disciplined at the things I want to do and enjoy doing. I need to create more, both for myself but also for consumption by others, so that means working on more stuff for my own enjoyment but also more blog posts here and on the other blogs. It also means taking more photos and posting them to Flickr, Instagram and the like too. I need to get out of this damned creative funk because I am not enjoying it at all. There is no excuse why I can’t be as creative as I want to be and know that I can be. Something has to give.

The loss of family, the loss of celebrities, they all hurt in different ways

Losing people never gets any easier. No matter how many people end up losing, no matter how close they are to you, it doesn’t get any easier, at all. The last year has been rough, way rougher with that than I would have liked. Losing a former co-worker who I was very close to to cancer, my father to heart failure, the leader of my favorite band to cancer as well, and then one of my favorite media personalities, if you want to call him that, to suicide. They all hit me hard, some of course harder than others. Even if you know things aren’t looking all that positive for someone, having cancer, or having some other serious medical issues there still isn’t any real way to prepare for them being suddenly gone. With something like suicide though, there is no preparation at all. Waking up last Friday and the first thing I saw on Twitter when I was making coffee in the kitchen was that Anthony Bourdain had taken his life while in France.

I don’t take loss well, I never have, losing family members was never easy, great aunts and uncles when I was young, people I was not the closest to, but still people that were around for a good portion of my young life. It wasn’t easy, still isn’t, losing my grandmothers sister, Ruby, and her husband Frank, as well as my grandmothers brother Bud. They were all local, well, at least semi-local, people who were around at least occasionally at holidays or other visits. Losing them wasn’t easy, knowing I would never get to see them again, even though I never saw them all that frequently in the first place. I think the hardest part was that with Frank and Ruby, there wasn’t really any warning, or at least not that I remember, just that they were gone, and that I never really had a chance to say goodbye. All of that was while I was in elementary and middle school, from then, things weren’t so bad till I was off at University in Reno.

That first summer in Reno, summer of 2005, my paternal grandmother had a heart attack, which resulted in me making a rather emergency long weekend drive back to Portland, the first time I had ever done that drive solo, the first of countless times I made that drive. A couple weeks later she was gone. Her health wasn’t the best, but her husband had the heart issues, nobody ever thought she would be the one to go first. Of course my grandfather, her husband managed to hold on for another decade before he passed. Losing my grandparents has not been easy, when I was a child they took care of me a good bit more than my parents due to my dads hectic and unorthodox work schedule at the American Red Cross. Before and after school I would be with one of my sets of grandparents, so for a good portion of my life they were I guess I would say more of a parental figure than my actual parents. I am lucky that my maternal grandmother is still with us at 96 years old.

Losing a co-worker last year was not easy, Neil and I worked together for nearly three years, the first gig I had back in Portland when I returned from Reno. Losing him to cancer was a shock, I was holding out all the hope I had that he would be able to beat it and make it out ok, alas, he didn’t. He was a great man, and a great friend and he helped me so much, with getting settled back in Portland. Being able to come and talk to him about anything and everything going on in my life was such a relief. When I moved back, mentally I was a good bit of a mess, hell, still am to a certain degree. It was just comforting to have someone there at work who genuinely cared.

Losing my father this January was the hardest by far. No, he wasn’t doing well, at all, hadn’t been for a year or so, but that still doesn’t prepare someone for them to be doing not so great, to just not being there a couple days later. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t think about something I would want to talk with him about, or show him or whatnot. To a degree even now, months later, it still doesn’t seem like he is actually gone. I know at some point it will get easier, I hope, but I have my doubts. I still honestly don’t believe he is gone, at all.

Last October we lost Gord Downie as well, lead singer of The Tragically Hip. Someone whose music was very important to me. I discovered The Hip back in 2002 when I started listening to Rock 101 Vancouver, BC online and was around the time of the release of In Violet Light and I began to listen to them more and more. Even to this day they are one of my more favorite bands, I wish I had a chance to have seen them live in person. Alas that chance has passed. Still at least I was able to watch their final show via the CBC webcast. He was just a powerful leader of the band, and such a vocal activist for conservation as well as indigenous affairs in Canada, he was one of the good ones.

That brings us to two days ago, waking up and finding Bourdain was gone. I can’t say I had been following him forever, I have never read any of his books, and truthfully had only really started watching some of his television show No Reservations within the last year or so on Netflix. Yet, here I am rather shaken up by his death. Part of it may be the fact that his life, traveling and eating seems pretty damn ideal. He is the kind of guy so many people would aspire to be. He told it like it was, he let others tell their story, and he had no issue eating pretty much anything put in front of him. Losing him feels like losing a friend, someone who always ha d a good story to tell over a drink, or let’s be honest, a whole host of drinks on a day long bender.

The fact that someone who from outward appearances has it all like Bourdain did but yet still struggled with depression just goes to show that depression and mental health issues can hit anyone, lord knows I have struggled with depression a good bit in my life. Some days are just easier than others. Other days, well there just doesn’t seem like there is much of a light at the end of the tunnel. Thankfully today the good days outnumber the bad, but it wasn’t all that long ago that the bad days drastically outweighed the good. Some days though, pushing that sadness aside, or away, or to the back of your mind, where it can’t bother you or get in the way, or be its general assholish self is just difficult. That sadness doesn’t give two shits about you, it just wants to do the best at can at making you and everything around you as miserable as possible. The fight through that is the worst, I get that, I have been there, some days I still am.

For those who are claiming any number of things about him taking his own life, well, you aren’t in his shoes so you have no room to speak on it. Mental health is different for everyone and well, some days you really don’t see a way of it getting better, so you do what you do to put yourself in what you see as a better place. All I can say is that Tony has left a pretty damn big hole in this world bu not being here anymore. Left a pretty big hole in me too. If I take anything from who he is and what he was all about, is to stay curious about the world. For the world is ever changing, and getting out of ones own home is the best thing someone can do for themselves.

An attempt at a more structured life

About a month ago I would say I hatched an idea to attempt to lead something along the lines of a more structured and organized life.  Something with more of a set schedule than what I have for most of my life, at least since I was attending classes back in Reno.  The general plan was as follows.

 

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Open Go somewhere new Reading or Writing Gaming Cook something new Open Reading or Writing

 

Not the most profound schedule or anything like that but it is at least something, and something more than what I was doing before.  Of course this time of the year with Western Hockey League playoffs with home games scattered throughout the week sometimes the schedule needs a wee bit of adjusting.  Still so far my wife and I have been able to stick to it for the most part since we came up with it.

In line with the goal of going somewhere new on Tuesdays, that could be anything from a new restaurant or brewery, to visiting a new library or park as well.  One of our other goals is to visit every park and library in Portland.  There are a hell of a lot of parks in Portland to visit so we have our work cut out for us but it something I am sure we can knock out in the span of a couple years.

Another goal, something that I have had kicking around in my head since before I finished moving back to Oregon nearly six and a half years ago was that I would run at least a mile on every track in the state, or at least, every one that is open to the public.  That list is damn near as big as the list of parks in Portland, and in a drastically larger geographic space too.  Thus far my wife and I have managed to knock out four of those tracks, but there are still 200 plus left to run on.  I know we can achieve this goal, it will take a hell of a lot longer than a couple years though.  Still, it something to work towards and something that I hope I won’t end up failing at.

The one thing that I have probably been the biggest failure at so far this year is working towards any of my gaming goals that I had set out for myself around new year’s.  Still there is plenty of time to work towards them, there is just such a general lack of motivation on my part most days I just can’t be bothered even though I really want to complete the games I have and work towards the goals I spelled out on the gaming blog Ursine Gamer earlier in the year.

All I can do is work through the down times and try and chip away at any sort of progress towards the goals I have set for myself, so I feel more accomplished.  Every day is a chance to work towards something and I need to make steps in the right direction more days than not from here on out.  No point in setting goals if I’m not going to do a damn thing to achieve them.  That is just a waste of time creating goals then.

A visit to Hollywood Library and Columbia River Brewing

One of the goals my wife and I have is to go to more new places in and around Portland, with the goal of hitting somewhere new every week.  Tonight we kicked that off, by hitting the Hollywood Branch of the Multnomah County Library and a couple blocks away from there, Columbia River Brewing.

I had never been to the Hollywood Branch before, but had been to the brewery some four or five years ago.  My wife had been to the library but never the brewery, so we both technically went somewhere new.  And if Futurama taught us anything, being technically correct is the best kind of correct.

The library was quite busy for 5:30 p.m. but not what I was consider overcrowded.  The internet terminals were all in use, as were the quiet study rooms but there was still ample room to move around and browse.  Neither of us went in with a clear-cut plan on anything we were looking to pick up, yet we ended up checking out three books before we left.  Getting out and seeing a new library as well as picking up some new reading material was a nice way to start the evening after a long day at work.

Moving a couple blocks away to Columbia River Brewing for a little bit to eat and a pint was a good second part of the evening and confirmed what I remembered about the place from years prior.  It is a terribly average brewery.  I had the blonde, and my wife the red and the beers were just average.  Not bad, not undrinkable, just generally, average.  We also split the pulled pork nachos and those were quite delicious and did not leave us hungry.  I can’t imagine we will be back anytime soon as we are not often in the Hollywood area in search of food, but it was nice to see the place still doing good business several years later.

As for the new place for next week that is still very much up in the air, we want to hit all the libraries in Multnomah County, as well as all the parks in Portland, so needless to say we have our work cut out for us but I know it will be enjoyable visiting all of them and writing about them as well.

What sports mean to me

Sports, what do they mean to me, or, well, anybody for that matter. For everyone I feel it is different, obviously. Not everyone likes the same sports, hell some people don’t like sports at all, no issues with that. For others, sports are their entire life. I wouldn’t say that sports are my entire life but they sure as hell play a pretty big part of it, and have since a young age.
My first sporting event were when I was seven years old, 1992, Portland Winter Hawks hockey. Opening night in the Veterans Memorial Coliseum against the Kamloops Blazers; Kamloops was the team to beat at the beginning of the year, having won the league the year before. Portland got the win, 2-1 in overtime, and I was hooked on the game. I didn’t see the Winter Hawks lose a game that season till they played Saskatoon in February, quite the impressive streak of seeing victories for myself. Portland went on to fall in the league final that year to Swift Current but even with the loss in the finals, I knew hockey was the sport for me.
I was lucky as a kid, with my parents I managed to make it to between eight and fifteen Winter Hawks games per season including playoffs, as well as occasional baseball games in Portland with the Beavers, and eventually the Rockies when they came to town from Bend. There were also occasional baseball games in Seattle, I believe I have been to three or four Mariners games in my life, all in the Kingdome. I have yet to make it back up there since they moved into Safeco, and that has been open for 19 years so it has been a bit to say the least since I have seen them play.
Hockey
Hockey has been everything to me though. Between the Winter Hawks, who now go by the Winterhawks, as well as the National Hockey League and the like. I have been to a few National Hockey League games, two up in Vancouver, both in the 90’s as well as last year. I have also been to a game in Anaheim over a decade ago which was a good time, but still, it was the Ducks, a team I really don’t care for.
I have seen hockey games at about every level possible besides NCAA in the United States. Between Major junior games in Portland, Seattle, Everett and Tri Cities for Winterhawks games, I have also been to the NHL games in Vancouver and Anaheim as well as ECHL games in Las Vegas back when the Wranglers were still a thing I have also been to one AHL game in Ontario California this year which was a good time and very enjoyable.
Hockey has just always been my sport of choice, what I have always been the most passionate about. My first video games I ever owned were NHL games back in 2000. Hockey has just been my thing, and I know it always will be. I just wish some of my NHL teams, Columbus and the Islanders, who became my teams because of the sheer amount of Portland players. Of course the Islanders don’t have any Winterhawks anymore; they traded Nino off to Minnesota where he has been much better off.
If I follow the same logic by following primarily Winterhawks I should pay far more attention to the Vancouver Canucks, as they now have three former Wintrhawks as well as a former Winterhawk coach. There are also a couple three guys in Winnipeg now, yet do I really need another team to follow closely? Probably not.
Still, hockey is life, and I know it always will be, and I will never not take the chance to see a game no matter the level wherever I am.
Baseball
That summer of 1993 I was exposed to baseball for the first time as well, both in person in Portland with the Beavers but in Seattle with the Mariners as well. The Mariners weren’t great that year but it was the beginning of what was to be something special in Seattle with Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson, Alex Martinez etc. all coming up in the next couple years to turn the Mariners into a legitimate threat.
The Beavers were good that year, as I look back at the standings but I generally didn’t care as much about baseball as hockey, I honestly had no idea that they went up against Tucson for the league title that year.
When it comes to baseball the Mariners are my team, even if they are god awful and out of playoff contention by June most seasons. I haven’t been to a game in over 20 years, and haven’t watched a full game on television in about as long but I still get all their score alerts on my phone and still halfway care, at least enough to own a couple hats and an 80’s jersey. Still, if I don’t make it to a game anytime soon it wouldn’t bother me too much.
There are other teams I support as well for baseball, for entirely different reasons. I have always had a soft spot for the Twins since Portland was their AAA team back when I was a kid. A poor reason to support a team I know but I have always supported them at least a little, or at least paid some attention to them. Also there is a thing for the Kansas City Royals, however that is for family reasons. My grandfather, my dad’s dad was from Kansas City, and brought me a Kansas City Royals shirt when I was a very young kid, I always checked to see how they were in the standings, and then watched when they went to the World Series, and then again the year they won the World Series, which was unfortunately the year we lost my grandfather as well.

I can’t say I am the biggest fan of any of those three teams but my fandom is at least in passing, I follow them on social media, and generally try and have an idea of how they are doing but some days I just find it difficult to care about them.
Basketball
My dad also had Portland Trail Blazers season tickets for ages both before the move to The Rose Garden as well as after. Going to games with him was always incredibly enjoyable, especially during the glory years of the Trail Blazers with Drexler, Porter, Williams and the like. Since he stopped renewing his tickets close to 20 years ago or so now I have only made it to two other games. I miss them to a degree but not going with him, and also not sitting as close as we did in the Memorial Coliseum, it just isn’t the same. When it comes to basketball I also was introduced to the college game at an early age with Portland Pilots at the University of Portland where my parents and I would usually go to a game or two a season here and there. Then when I went off to Nevada for school I started going to University of Nevada and going to mostly all of the games my first two years there when I was living on campus.
Football
Also with living on campus I was going to mostly all of the University of Nevada football games as well which besides a single Portland State Vikings game when I was young as well as some Oregon Thunderbolts games when I was even younger at Milwaukie High School, that was my first real exposure to football in person. Football has never really been my thing, at least not in the same way hockey and soccer are. I honestly really don’t care if I ever watch football again, college or professional, it is enjoyable at least for the most part but it generally is something I find incredibly boring. The game just moves so damn slow and I find it really difficult to stay engaged in the game, especially watching on television. At the game it is a good bit more exciting but I still found it hard to justify going to games in Reno towards the end of when I was living on campus. Now, I hardly pay attention to football at all. For the NFL I halfway give a shit about the Seahawks but not enough to really call myself a fan. For college I like the University of Nevada, obviously, as well as Oregon State, for family reasons but truthfully I just don’t care.
Soccer
My dad was also the one who took me to my first professional soccer game, it was mid-July in 2013 and he took me to see the Portland Timbers vs Milwaukee Wave United. From there my love for soccer, even though I had played for years as a kid, grew a ton. The Timbers were the first team I really felt a deep connection with since the Winter Hawks back in 92. Today, that love for the Timbers is still strong, and with the season starting in less than a week I am quite hopeful for a better season than last, at least in terms of the end result.
I also follow Norwich City in English soccer, not one of the traditionally great or powerful teams but once again for family reasons I have adopted them. My great aunt, via marriage was from Cromer England, right up the road on the coast from Norwich, so it only seemed logical to me to support them. It is drastically harder to support them now that they have been relegated down to the Championship instead of the Premier League and there aren’t games on television but I do my best to make due.
My fandom is generally just for local teams here in Portland. The Thorns, Timbers, Trail Blazers and Winterhawks for the sports, other teams I like are for somewhat different reasons. I still follow the University of Nevada where I went to school, as well as Oregon State University to a degree, I much prefer them to the Ducks. Even though I went to Portland State University for a year I really don’t care about the Vikings, basketball or Football. During my time attending Portland State I made it to one football game, and zero basketball games, and I haven’t been back to a game since I moved back to Portland six years ago. Once their new arena opens I think I may make it to a game to check it out though.
Sports are just an important part of my life, they are something I grew up with, both supporting teams, as well as playing sports as a kid. I played basketball and soccer from elementary school till I got to high school, then I ran and eventually played lacrosse. Sports have been something to distract me in times when things haven’t been the best. Listening to Winterhawks games online when I was living in Reno, alone and hating everything, as well as watching the choppiest of web streams of the Timbers in the USL got me through some less than ideal times. Sports have in a way helped me feel more connected to a given place, to home. Through Timbers Twitter I have met a ton of wonderful people who helped to encourage and facilitate my move back here to Portland in 2012. Some days I wish I was a better sports fan, or at least better than I feel I am. I know I am a better sports fan, a more active fan than I had been in the past, still there is clear room for improvement.