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.

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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.

I may have too many hobbies

I feel like I have too many hobbies, collections, and interests, I know that sounds ridiculous, but I don’t feel I can dedicate the time I want to be able to, to all of them. Some, if not many of my hobbies are rather time intensive. Reading, writing, and video games, take up, or can take up mass amounts of time. They also largely are not things that can be done overly passively, with the exception of a few video games that is.

I love to travel, which in a way is a hobby but at the same time does not really qualify as one in quite the same way in my eyes. It clearly isn’t something that takes up too much time or whatnot, and is obviously something that can inspire writing, and I always read when I travel, at least on planes.

Another hobby is photography, which can be rather time intensive, or for me is more generally something I do when I am out doing other things. When I travel, I take pictures, but I almost never go out anywhere specifically just with the intention of taking photos. I also have several (4) cameras, both digital and film, point and shoot and (D)SLR so I have quite a few options for photography. However, with my cameras taking up residence on my desk at home they are often a reminder that I don’t really take as many photos as I would like, and that when I do take them I rarely post or share them anywhere. I need to be better at positing them to my Flickr account.

There are a good many hobbies I used to be fairly active with that I haven’t done with anything in ages. When I was living in Reno I would go out to Keystone Cue and Cushion nearly five nights a week to play pool. Then with the closing of that location and the lack of another option close to where I was living I have hardly played at all in the last decade. I grew up playing in my grandparents basement on their 4’x8′ table, from as early as I could see above the rails. The last time I picked up a cue was on my honeymoon in Manila playing three cushion billiards with my wife’s uncle. That was a disaster from the get go, not having played in years, and then never having played three cushion before led to me getting beaten quite badly.

I have had a thing for model trains since I was a little kid, and I have a ton of train stuff from then, all in boxes, untouched for ages. I have also ended up with both of my parents train sets from when they were children. They as well have been untouched in ages. I want to do something with them, have some sort of something set up, I would imagine in the garage if there was space but alas there really isn’t. So for the time being in boxes they stay till I can come up with some sort of plan on what to do with them.

I also have other interests as well. Some of which are more obvious than others. I am a massive sports fan and have been since I was seven. I was first introduced to hockey the fall of 1992 and it has been a massive part of my life ever since. As I have noted before there are some years I have been a much worse sports fan, and I have said before that I have failed at times as a sports fan, however more recently I feel I have been much better. I have actually made it to a good deal of hockey games as well as watching more sports on the television. At times though I feel I could probably pay closer attention to sports besides hockey but that is something to work towards.

One other hobby type thing that has been something I have been involved with forever has been the attempted listening to am and sometimes short-wave radio stations from far away. It was something I grew up doing, 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 thing.

Lately, it has not been something I have actively done anything with, the radio I have does not get the best reception where it is located in the house and it refuses to run on batteries, then again it is the better part of 20 or more years old. Does it need to potentially be replaced, yeah, probably but I know good and well I don’t really need anything overly fancy and some, if not a lot of the smaller portable ones are more money than I really want to spend.

I feel perhaps I collect too much stuff too, between things like hockey pucks, and Field Notes notebooks to a whole host of other random things including casino chips and playing cards. Basically, I collect a bunch of random crap that I probably don’t need to but I have forever so it makes it difficult to stop. Especially since so much of the stuff takes up very little space. Still it is perhaps something I need to look at and maybe consolidate or generally just get rid of some shit. Only time will tell on that though. I guess what I need to do is perhaps work to spend more focused time and energy on some of the hobbies or activities I feel I have been neglecting and maybe that will help me feel better about things.

I really don’t enjoy birthdays

I generally hate my birthday. As a child growing up it was nothing but a cause of stress and unhappiness. Often involving a mad scramble by my parents, which would then get passed off to me to get the house looking at least mildly presentable for family members to come over for cake and ice cream etc. There were never any friends invited, which was probably for the best. The cleaning process always ended up with large amounts of shouting, when it would have been so much easier if the house wasn’t such a mess to begin with. I can’t even count how many years the artificial Christmas tree was still up in February.
As I got older, moved away and all that I enjoyed birthdays a good bit more even though there have been more than a few birthdays I have spent alone; alone at home, alone in Las Vegas, or alone in downtown Portland. Those haven’t been the most fun, but at least there wasn’t mass amounts of yelling but still being alone, well wasn’t the most fun.
This birthday was very good, as was last, getting to spend last year with my then girlfriend and now wife, as well as this year as well. Last year was an amazing time with seeing Sam Roberts Band two days before my birthday and then a trip to Kent, Washington to see the Winterhawks take on Seattle. That was a wonderful time, even if the weather was not the best. This year was good as well, a nice trip to the coast with beautiful weather and a lot of relaxation. After everything that has gone on in the last couple months that was something that I desperately needed.
Still, part of my still hates birthdays. They aren’t something I look forward to, never really have and now as I get older I look forward to them even less. The time off is nice, well, since I usually take some time off around my birthday since it is near to the end of the fiscal year at work when vacation time expires. Generally though I just don’t enjoy birthdays at all, part of me still expects things to go to hell like they always did as a kid, even though I know recently things really have not been that bad.
I guess I just find it difficult to be happy, especially with so much stuff going on in my life that isn’t particularly happy. What with everything with my dad, it is just difficult to find the positives or any reason to be happy about well, anything. I really hope things get better, sooner than later because I hate feeling like this all the damn time.

The sadness has returned

The sadness just doesn’t go away. He was supposed to come home from the care facility today, likely still on antibiotics, but still, home. Instead he is in the wall at Willamette National Cemetery instead. Not quite the same as being at home. To say I am sad is an understatement. The depression is back, and as worse as it ever has been. I know eventually it will get better but I have no idea when that will be. Hopefully by the end of the decade but I have my doubts.
If I still lived in Reno, for sure it would be worse, totally on my own away from family and most friends, I would turn to the bottle even more so than I did on a normal basis when I lived there. Being here at home in Portland is at least a bit helpful, but all the reminders of dad everywhere is hard to take. My desire to do anything is pretty much nonexistent.
Even starting the two new blogs in the beginning of this month I am finding it hard to stay excited about them. I haven’t been excited about really playing any video games at all so the Ursine Gamer has not been updated all that much because my drive to play much of anything. The only thing I have really played is Football Manager 2012, and a little bit of Mario Kart 8 on the Nintendo Switch that my wife got me for Christmas. Other than that, the drive to game has been next to none.
On the other side of things, the Gambling Bear has had more posts, and even a review of Ilani up in Washington, I have not really written a whole bunch for that. I have been making daily picks on Twitter for sports betting and my picks have been coming in at an absolutely awful rate. I know I haven’t really bet on anything or even paid a ton of attention to much over the last six years after I left Reno. Still, the losing streaks I have had have been pretty damn bad, and a good bit disheartening. All I can do is hope that I can turn my picks around, especially with the upcoming MLS and MLB seasons.
Generally though, the sadness is here, the unhappiness is here and I don’t know how to make it vanish. I am turning back into the grumpy bastard that I used to be, and I hate it. I want to be better, I want to be a more improved version of myself and I don’t see that happening.
My vacation for my birthday coming up in a couple weeks will hopefully be a bit of a help, but I don’t know if that will be the change I need, or not. If anything I just hope it doesn’t make anything any worse than it is now, which would be pretty hard to do. I just cannot shake the feeling that all I am doing is fucking everything up, all of the time.

Loss isn’t easy

Losing people isn’t easy, and even as one gets older it doesn’t get any easier to lose someone you are close to. Its been barely over a week since I lost my father, and no, it isn’t any easier now than it was when I was at the hospital when he passed. And even though I have lost other family members over the last decade, it still isn’t easy at all.
Over the last six years since I moved back to Portland from my time in Reno, Nevada, I have lost three family members, both of my grandfathers and now my father. On top of that, this past fall I found out that one of my former coworkers, Neil Brown as well had passed away. He wasn’t exactly a father figure but he was a guy who I got to bond with at work and became a very close friend and someone I could always talk with about anything. At times I would talk to him more than I would actual family members since I knew he would have an outside point of view on everything.
Now, here we are, January 2018 and for direct family, I have my mother and my maternal grandmother and that is essentially it. Far from ideal, and for being so young myself it is difficult to think about the fact that I really don’t have all that much family left.
One positive is that I have my wife’s family now as well, and they are wonderful people, just unfortunate that they live a bit far away. Still, Southern California is not all that far away, but it is different from being just across town.
Part of me still can’t believe that my father is gone. Part of me still wants to think he is still at the care facility and will be coming home soon. I know that isn’t the case though but I can’t really believe that he is actually not here anymore.
I know over time it will hopefully get easier, or at least so I would hope it does. Still, shit its difficult, and I know especially with my grandmother who is 96 things aren’t going to be overly easy if something was to happen to her. She broke her leg and her wrist three weeks ago, and she finally came home yesterday, which is a massive relief given her age and whatnot. It is still a big relief she is home and doing better and will hopefully be back to normal very soon.
I am hoping that things get better or at least a little easier for me in the near future. I know at the same time that is not overly likely, all I can really do is take things one day at a time. I know some days will be easier than others. Hell some hours I am sure will be better than others too. All I can do is take things as they come and see where I go from here.
Thank you everyone for all the love and support.