Today I Learned #12

Calculated Risks

I don’t want anyone to mistake this entry for something serious.

Like wine.

I mean, I take wine seriously enough to not abuse it. I mean, waste it…I’m sure anything I do that could be described as wine abuse is actually closer to self-abuse or self-medication, depending on the circumstance.

That said, I feel like we should discuss decanting.

Sidebar: Autocorrect just changed “decanting” into “decaying” and I literally decant even.

Decanting a sure thing bottle is convenient for aerating the wine and opening it up do the acidic notes can mellow versus overwhelming the rest of the flavors when you…sip. So I’ve generally made a habit of decanting a bottle anytime I have company over, but switching to a by-glass aerator if that second bottle tries to get popular.

My logic? Maybe that second bottle doesn’t get finished, right?

What? I’ve heard of that happening…

Here’s what I’ve learned.

Wine is much like friends vs dating later in life.

You get to know the quality peeps in your life that deserve and have earned decanting rights. Then there are the new unknowns that are best taken on a by-glass basis.

As I’ve managed to overcome my desire for a relationship and remain a Singleton this past year, I’ve engaged in a little thought exercise. I examined my urge to open or order what I consider great bottles of wine on a first date. Was I simply indulging my tastes and myself as I did something I’m not super comfortable doing?

Sidenote: Roller Coasters should have wine stands at the beginning of the line.

Or, was I trying to show off?

Ugh.

I’m going to skip over the grisly details. Suffice it to say, hearing an attractive man say that my wine was really good as he leaves are perhaps the least validating final words to hear from someone.

In case that needed to be mentioned.

The last time someone came over for wine in a dating capacity, I legitimately caught myself thinking – as I reached up for my decanter – “Am I prepared to try and switch bottles because ‘This doesn’t taste right, let’s try something else’ if this guy doesn’t seem worth the rest of the bottle?” More importantly, am I cool enough to pull off that switch to a bottle of TJ’s finest?!?

But, like I said, this isn’t a post about wine.

Exclusively

It’s about any variety of risks we take. Moreover, it’s about how our own opinions of those risks change over time. And how we assess and prioritize those opinions.

A fairly blue case study – oh, I should write about Gee sometime – to illustrate my point:

Yesterday, I had a solo lunch date with dad. Mom had gone shopping with my sister and his usual Friday lunch with his own dad was rescheduled for a doctor’s appointment.

Usually when mom, dad and I go to lunch, I can bank on each of them making use of the facility’s facilities. Occasionally it’s all three of us, which affords my dad and I the opportunity for a rather humorous take on what frequently happens at Portland intersections.

Yesterday, as our departure from the restaurant became imminent, I caved and asked dad if he wanted you use the restroom before we left.

He passed.

I raised my eyebrows.

When we got to my place, I asked if he wanted to come up and talk for a while longer. I wasn’t sure if he wanted to more kill time while my mom and sister were out. He said no, so we sat in the car and chatted a while before I got out of the car and chatted more while standing at the door.

When he drove off, I crossed the street, fobbed into my building and then tapped my toe impatiently while waiting for the world’s slowest elevator to return to the main floor.

Then I did a full on pee-pee dance in the elevator as we made our glacial ascent to the building’s fourth floor.

Seriously…it is so slow. I’m tempted right now to go take a ride and count off the “thousands” it takes to climb from the Ground floor to 3. Sadly, I have to meet friends in two hours and nine minutes, so I’m afraid there isn’t time.

By the time we reached my floor, I was straining so hard to keep my bladder sealed that I accidentally let a fart fly.

That felt better!

But I consciously tightened everything up again as I prepared to engage my legs and leave the lift. My concern? Was that just gas or was it a…warning?!?

I farted out a few letters of the alphabet on the way to my door and while I was fumbling to get my door unlocked. Fortunately, neither of the other two residents on my floor chose that time to leave their units!

There I was, sitting victorious upon my throne. The contents of my bladder successfully vanquished, I reflected upon the Battle of the Bladder.

Were my check-ins with dad legitimate concern or projection on my part?

I want to say legitimate concern, since he drives about 35 miles home after he visits.

But the reality was that this was my second elevator dance of the week, so…

Either I need to move to a building with a faster elevator – or, better yet, a turbo lift! – or I need to stop projecting and openly check-in with my own plumbing to calculate risk vs transit time between cans.

So far, I’m not there. I have only gotten as far as calculating the height of a curb as it relates to chances of a fart in my body’s state of misadventures. Maybe it’s time to up that game.

Bet you wished this had only been about wine now, right?

Wine and poop. I’m a real enigma, aren’t I?

Maybe this whole Calculated Risks thing is more about food and drink, now that I think about it. The last example that popped into my head was about coffee. While that folds nicely into the bathroom urgency risk, it’s more about heartburn!

I’ve long maintained that I only need one good cup of coffee to satisfy my craving.

And the occasional need for a jump start.

The end of that saying of mine is that I’ll drink diner coffee all morning and still not feel satisfied. But I will end up with a banger of a case of heartburn. But I understood the risk and how my body worked.

Now, since I haven’t been working, I’ve sat at f&b for a second cup of their cold brew while chatting-ish with the Silver Fox. As my unemployment has dragged on, though, I’ve had to re-examine that habit.

The cold brew at f&b is brewed using the Japanese method for iced coffee.

Cold brew, iced coffee, Japanese iced coffee; three very different things. At least inasmuch as acidity is concerned.

Cold brew has very little acid, meaning I can drink it all day. That it’s made with good, medium roast beans means I really can sip it all day, but feel satisfied after a single cup.

Iced coffee, Japanese brew method or not, medium roast bean or not…has all the regular acidity of coffee.

When I have that second cup, I’m weighing the risk factors. Usually, with The Fox, the calculations come out in his – and mine, by extension – favor. When I’m alone, I’ll stop at one cup, go somewhere else or skip it altogether.

The cost/benefit calculated risk exercise I go through when it comes to the debate over taking a shower and getting presentable just to go out for a cup of coffee are a little…embarrassing.

How about some interaction? Surely, I’m not the only one that does this type of calculating…although, maybe I’m the only one that admits to it.

Tell me in the comments, what are your Calculated Risks?

Today I Learned #12

Dating Into Oblivion: Fin

Welp, I just deleted a draft called Dating Into Oblivion ep6. The only note I had in my draft was

Who was this bachelor? I know it happened…

…which is a bad sign on the surface. Thinking a little harder about it – as I’ve been doing, being the end of this yearlong initiative – it might have been one of the better dating experiences I had in 2018.

Nothing good or pleasant stuck out, sure…conversely, nothing awful kept my experience with him fresh in my mind.

No tardiness or flakiness about getting together.

Not a sexual misadventure.

No ghosting.

Just neutral.

So, here’s to the unmemorable dude that was probably my best date of the year!

Like I mentioned, though, being the year end, I had been giving some thought to my 2018 writing initiative.

Did I “meet” my goal? Sure. I can average my $20 dating experiences in order to meet my 1/month goal. Some months were “feast” and others “famine”, so I could have been more consistent in channeling content.

Strangely, that consistency thread kept coming back in my ruminations. As did the question, “Do I want to continue this theme into 2019?”

I’m blaming this percolation of thought for ending my New Years Eve watching Rom-Coms until 2:30 AM. Turns out, my mild night was the known wildest – by virtue of latest bedtime – of my friends.

Yay, me!

It actually started out with the intent to be lame. I’d thrown a personal gauntlet down as I left my parents after my Christmas visit: Dry Week.

They didn’t believe it.

Not sure that I did, either, I threw my discretionary money into my debt-abyss, saving $100 for spending money.

Just not enough to get into any real trouble.

Forced success!

Except

The Silver Fox wasn’t having it.

Sallory was coming to town for a tweener holiday party a friend of hers – and frenemy of The Fox and I – was throwing. His annual is a post-Christmas/pre-NYE party on the 30th. She wanted to meet for a drink before, and I’ve been terrible about making it to Happy Hour on her recent visits.

For his part, the Silver Fox wanted to make dinner on the 31st and then go to Tanner Creek Tavern for a low-key drink. Since they were closing at 11, he was entertaining the notion of closing the place.

Fate stepped in to help my decision making: the hundred I’d set aside for incidentals until my post-NYE midweek payday evaporated overnight in the form of an auto-pay I’d set up on my renters insurance coming due. Alright, well…good to have that paid up again. I’ll bet I forget again next year, too, but I’m betting my coffers will be in better shape to absorb that surprise.

Still, The Fox just wasn’t entertaining my lameness. He offers to buy and I try on an exasperated acquiescence.

That’s how I came to have some free time on New Years Eve 2018 to think about my writing goals for the past and upcoming years.

Of course, I didn’t realize it initially. I sat on my couch, TV off and remote in hand, debating just going to bed. I’d had two glasses of wine at dinner and one at the bar, I had enough alcohol on board to ease me off to Nod.

Deciding that the midnight revelries would just wake me up, I decided to wait it out. I put on the first movie in my Amazon queue without thinking much of it: Hitch.

Great. I enjoyed this movie in the theater and figured it was a good way to pass the time.

Now, once it hit me that this was a chick flick, my writing ruminations kicked back in. Those resurging questions made me reconsider whether three glasses of wine over five hours was actually enough.

I opened a throw away bottle of Robert Mondavi’s off brand Cab Sauv that I’ve had for about four years. I’d been saving it to serve up as a second bottle some night.

Since that opportunity had yet to present itself – and since I fully expected to be pouring most of this into my “cooking wine” bottle, I went for it. With a nice, healthy pour and settled back into Will Smith helping the fat guy get the pretty girl.

I raised my glass to the TV and toasted, “Screw you asocial media!” and watched the show about a dating doctor for men. My mind was engaged in a little back-burner thought exercise about deleting OKStupid since it had yielded only two in-person dates over 12 months.

More on that later, but key word: moron.

Hitch ended with me laughing and crying and possessing an empty glass. Amazon was suggesting a movie about a one night stand that lasts two nights after a blizzard shuts down NYC.

Well, three-quarters of a bottle ain’t gonna fit into my cooking wine

…armed with a second glass, I start the movie.

I didn’t expect this to hold my attention, and it didn’t. It was entertaining enough – in a disastrous type of way – but as its premise was based on two people meeting for a one night stand off a hookup site, I found my back-burner thoughts creeping to the forefront.

I distractedly opened up my vintage hookup site, just to see what was happening nearby. Note, I said “site”, not “app”…I tell myself that using an actual website is somehow better than using the apps I so vocally despise.

Hey, I haven’t gotten laid on a national holiday since the post-Rib romp of Thanksgiving…2013?

What could possibly go wrong, right?

Nothing major, but it does turn out that the closest gay guy to me is just 200 feet away…basically in the hotel whose bar I had left at 11 PM. It also happened to be an overly precious guy I nailed a couple of times while living in Shittatle.

I think he didn’t like that I didn’t feel as fortunate that he’d graced my bedsheets as he apparently thought I should. We probably both wrote that off as a character flaw and just never evered each other again.

Tonight wasn’t going to be an exception to that, certainly, but I kinda hoped he saw me next door. I was listening to our mismatched lovers on the TV as I looked out my naked living room windows, wondering if J’s hotel room window overlooked my balcony.

Karma.

I decided to polish off the bottle and focus on the movie, knowing it wasn’t good enough for me to ever come back to if I turned it off now. There was only 45 minutes left and one more good pour in the bottle, so why not?

See, it’s rhetorical reasoning like that that provides answers to the question I’m always musing on…

What could possibly go wrong?

Welp, I got back to the couch and settled into the end of the movie, unsure of exactly how our female protagonist ended up in jail…but rolling with it.

A few minutes later, my phone let me know I had a message. It was someone who thought I urgently needed to know what his butthole looks like without the benefit of even a “Hello”.

<block>

Back to the movie.

Oh, good…at the ungodly hour of 2:15 AM on January 1st, in the 2019th year of someone’s lord, someone has decided fireworks were necessary.

Someone very nearby.

Luckily, I hadn’t gone to bed.

Let’s see…an ex lovah next door, fireworks and anonymous assholes. Yeah, I think 2019 is off to a good start.

The movie’s big finish?

A New Years Eve party.

Perfect.

On that full circle happy ending moment, I drained my wine glass, shut down the TV, popped a couple of Mellies and hunkered down in bed.

What I ultimately decided on to answer my earlier “continue” question was; hell, NO! It doesn’t mean I will or won’t delete OKCupid or my throwback hookup site. Those decisions are TBD, but I’m looking at them through the stop/start/continue filter and leaning toward stopping those actions in favor of starting an unknown other.

Nor does it mean that I won’t continue to catalog any notable dating experiences under the DIO hashtag, maybe the final entry down the road will be about a great date with a guy that continues to show up.

But my immediate payoff for this thought exercise of the past week? Waking up to this suggestion from OKStupid

Really earning their nickname with that one.

Seriously? That Lost Boy is your best dating suggestion to welcome me into 2019?!?

FML

But, hey, Diezel…I got a live one you might like!

Dating Into Oblivion: Fin

MNSC: Escalation Edition

16 hours ago, I was gifted-slash-bequeathed a 5L bottle of wine by the Silver Fox’s Son.

If you need some forced perspective hyperbole for scale, it’s blocking out my fridge in that picture…

Of course, I joked that I wasn’t sharing it. Secretly, I wondered when I would have occasion to polish it off.

Monday Night Supper Club has died. A victim of its own purpose.

Our foursome became a threesome when the one couple broke up.

Then a five-some, when the third embraced the meal’s mission and invited a couple into the mix.

Then a sixth was added, I think just to prevent the couple from being able to become a voting bloc. Or is it block? Who cares.

But then our numbers crushed us under the weight of scheduling – which I was the gateway for, with my stupid retail schedule. I can’t decide fully if I miss that or not. Anyway, we moved from Mondays to Saturdays to Fridays to delays for travel or moving house.

Our group spanned from the west side to northwest, initially. Then from the far east side of town to inner east side and northwest, The Fox and I being the stalwart downtowners that we are. Then we added in a mix of north Portland, just to prove that for all its reputation as a small town, Portland covers a fair amount of territory.

But back to that bottle. This morning, I was staring at it while I got some water from the tap.

“You…what the hell am I going to do with you?”

Returning to bed to read the early morning email deliveries, I cam across a recipe from Alex Delany and Bon Appetit, he likes to send me little ideas that he’s kicking around.Most of the time, I don’t do anything with them, because these Rent Week notions he has are usually something soup or stew oriented, and I’m saving that entire culinary oeuvre for my 60s.

But leeks? C’mon. Who could not? Truly one of the most undervalued alliums/roots there is, in my opinion.

Add in the scariest ingredient ever – wanna guess? I’ll wait…
Ooh, I’m sorry…we were looking for Anchovies!Good guess, though.

But leeks and anchovies? I’m in.

I text The Fox and ask what he’s doing for dinner.

Nothing.

Drinks with one of our bartendresses – which I’d forgotten to invite myself to, but rectified immediately – at 5:30 and then nothing.

Dinner was cooking!

So, I started procrastinating immediately. Naturally.

All I needed to do was go to the store and buy a lemon, three leeks and a tin of anchovies. Everything else was on hand: pasta, white wine and parm.

It’s a Rent Week recipe, it’s supposed to be simple. If you’re curious, here’s the recipe.

Actually, I think I’ll pick up some more parm while I’m out…can’t ever have not enough of that!

My procrastinating took the form of finishing my pizza from last night while watching a few episodes of West Wing.

Oops, missed my noon spin class.

As I was hefting my bulk off the couch to start finishing a blog entry from last year that I planned to post tomorrow, I get a text from the Filipina Fox, telling me her plans had changed and our 8:30 meet up was now a go for earlier if I was available.

Ok, before you start thinking that my life is super exciting and that I have 5:30 drinks, followed by a 6:30 dinner and then back out for 8:30 drinks…slow down. This was nothing but a calendar fail.

Not that I couldn’t stack shit like that, mind you. It’s just that I don’t want to.

Simple Solution: mea culpa for all I’m worth and invite the Filipina Fox to join.

What’s better than a meal with all my Foxes, after all?

Dinner with all my Foxes and the Filipina Fox’s hubster, that’s what.

I start looking around my little abode of humility and think it looks more like Myrtle’s home than mine and that maybe I should bother to clean up and de-fur the joint a little. Friendship only gets one so far in one’s good graces, if you ask me. Sending the Filipina Fox and her hubby home to their Citra Hop Cat with more Myrtle on them than they left home with of her is probably an politically poor idea, in feline politics, at least. I’d hate to get them in cat trouble.

But now, in addition to a little cleaning – very little…just dusting, wiping down the leather, mopping, washing my shower curtain liner, booking some chamber music and polishing my wood furnishings, no big deal, I’m not even cleaning my windows or making my bed – I was left curious as to whether I should double the recipe.

I normally cook a pound of pasta when I cook, otherwise it’s not worth it. Of course, I usually cook a pound of pasta for myself and make two meals of it. When I made carbonara for the six Supper Club boys, I made two pounds.

So, let’s enjoy me being crippled by that neurotic thought for a moment, entertaining and then rejecting the idea of making a fucking salad to go with dinner.

Forget that, I’ll just get bread.

And more wine…problem solved, right?

But then I remember my morning’s quandary.

Suddenly, I know what I’m doing with that gift from the Silver Fox’s son. I think he and his wife have held onto it for years – its a 2005, but I don’t think they’ve had it that long. I will have had it for less than 24 hours before dispatching it.

That.

Escalated.

Quickly.

Now, I only need a 5L decanter…

PS: For you judgy folk, you better believe I’m serving red wine with a white wine sauce!

MNSC: Escalation Edition

Home From Hood River

There was a cook out at Syncline, a winery on the Washington side of the Gorge across from Hood River this past Sunday. The Silver Fox got me a +1 and we joined some friends for a foursome out.

I got to drive!

Turns out, not only had the owner of the winery managed perfect weather: clear, blue skies, no wind – which is a feat in the Gorge, and 55 degrees all afternoon; he’d also just been elected Winemaker of the Year by some winemaker’s association. So this was a good get for me.

The beauty on the way out as the deciduous tree leaves showed off their roadside golds and reds against the evergreen background of the pines and firs ahead was breathtaking, to be sure.

But on the way back, the sun was setting – at about 4:30, go figure – and the highway through the Gorge was dark, but the sunset! From edge to edge, the dusk blackened hillsides framed the beauty of the pink sunset!

Someone in the car wondered if the color was due to the California fires. We all decided it was not, and just waited for the next curve in the road to get a fresh view of Mother Nature just showing off.

Poor Sallory, she had gone over to the beach house, which has provided my text threads with her and The Fox with many a gorgeous sunset…it really is beautiful to look out at the sunset over the bluff the cottage sits on. But not this time.

I was busy being the DD, so I couldn’t get a picture, but you can trust me.

Now, here’s the deal. Our little foursome had a great conversation both out the Gorge and back in. The Silver Fox took a little disco nap on the way back, but it didn’t stop the rest of us.

After a few minutes of being lost in the sunset, I wondered aloud whether anyone thought old what’s-his-name that wrote The National Anthem/America the Beautiful had actually ever been west before writing it.

Of course, this devolved into several minutes of trivial arguments about who wrote the damn song.

John Philip Sousa?

No…that’s not right.

Is it?

No, no…that’s who it was, I know it!

I had to google it when I got home. Suffice it to say, I was under immense pressure as the owner of the youngest – and, most preserved, I should point out – brain to know the answer.

All that on top of driving! Something I rarely do…outside the bedroom.

Turns out, well…who had Francis Scott Key?

Bully! Partial credit for you!

It turns out, FSK’s poem became the lyrics for the music composed by John Stafford Smith.

Yeah, we weren’t in any danger of winning any Jeopardy prizes.

My point was, though, I’m throwing my typically and randomly insane question out to the car…wouldn’t you think that if Francis Scott Key had ever been to the west coast we would have gotten a better shout out? Yes, I am complaining about the west, specifically the Pacific Northwest, only getting a 50% stake in

From sea to shining sea!

I’m not dissing purple mountains majesty or amber waves of grain, but c’mon! If you’ve ever been here, you’ll know that we deserve better.

Again, you can trust me.

No matter, though. When the west coast breaks off and liberates Red America – I mean, abandons it to its own devices – we can join British Columbia and write a Cascadia national anthem that will do our west coast beauty justice.

But if Cali comes along, we’re gonna have to deal with Fresno feeling left out…that poor place will go from being the armpit of California to being the sphincter of Cascadia.

Can’t win ’em all!

Home From Hood River

Fat Shamed By My Phone

I’ve been a little lazy lately. Kind of living the life of a shut in or hermit.

Lots of factors.

However, the two that led to this initially and then hooked me, eventually were:

A) The first of the season sunburn that I exposed myself to during my spur of the moment half century ride has kept me inside versus making it worse. I could simply buy some sun screen, but for now I’m living a literal version of “once burned, twice shy”…at least until I stop peeling!

And,

B) I hurt myself. Yes, again. Yes, while I’ve allegedly been inactive.

But there’s a story behind that Point B.

Naturally.

The Silver Fox was laid up a few days back and I offered to take his pooch out for his pre-bedtime walk. His dog is a good boy. Certainly a better pet than my Mistress Myrtle, who is currently in the midst of an Otter Identity Crisis.

George is 110 pounds of heart. Definitely more heart than brain, but as soon as I open the door he’s doing his “happy to see you” dance. It’s the same dance I get when I’m visiting and use the bathroom in The Fox’s Lair. Anyway, having been a slug for the past several days and wanting to make sure The Fox gets every opportunity to rest up by sleeping through the night, I decide to give the dog a good pre-bedtime run. We zip around the North Park Blocks in the darkness in between sniff and pee breaks so that he can get all the pup-dates the neighborhood dogs leave…the NPB really are like Canine Facebook.

Still, we ran up and down four of the five blocks of park in between Chez Galby and The Fox’s Lair, occasionally doubling back on ourselves as we ran and played. It was only 3/4 of a mile, but I knew it was more than George usually gets at that late hour and I could tell he was ready to settle in for the night when we were done.

I went to bed thinking, “You know, you could shuffle out a mile jog around the park blocks a couple times a week” and motivated to give that a try to see how my knees and lower legs tolerated it.

Of course, I woke up on Monday scarcely able to put my ever increasing body weight on my left foot.

Gotdammit.

So I’ve been relegated to the sofa most of this week…naturally, it’s also a week where my normal Monday morning acupuncture was cancelled because of the holiday.

First World Problem.

You’d have thought being laid up would give me plenty of writing time.

You’d have been mistaken.

I’ve been trapped in a daily Netflix Spiral.

But, ending the week on a high note, I am determined to tell the story of that time my phone fat-shamed me. It was also my last outdoor activity, a hike with Little Buddy in Forest Park. There might even be some pics, it was so long ago that I’ve forgotten if I snapped pics during that hike or not.

One of the reasons that I enjoy hiking is the natural setting, of course. That’s the same reason I enjoy cycling. The difference is that while hiking, I can enjoy the scenery a bit more than when it’s buzzing by at a whopping 15 MPH. Hence the potential for pictures.

My usual Forest Park hike is a ten mile affair, about 50/50 split betwixt sidewalk on the to and from and actual trail in the park itself. It’s usually a 3-4 hour endeavor, depending on how long I stay at Pittock Mansion once I reach this little urban summit. Little Buddy had told me she had a few hours between work and family dinner duties, so I stopped her from paying to park by my place when she rolls up, figuring we can park adjacent to one of the many entry points and start there.

I’m not just respecting her pending familial obligations, I’m also ensuring our post ambulation recreation at The Big Legrowlski: beer!

Here’s the rub, though: I’ve never driven to the trail, so I have zero clue where to direct Little Buddy. Being the slave to technology that I am, I google Forest Park and get directions.

This takes us in the complete opposite direction than I normally head off in when on foot, so I’m completely lost. I usually head NW through the Alphabet District – encompassing the Pearl District, Slabtown and The Conway neighborhoods – and then into Northwest and ultimately the forest on Thurman Street.

These google directions set us off toward Burnside, the primary East-West thoroughfare through town and really the first street in the Alphabet District, and the opposite end of the alphabet from my normal entry point. Mind you, Google Maps is – allegedly – going to provide the quickest route, so off we go.

Intrepid, no?

Here’s the payoff for struggling through those Portland neighborhood specific details…patience really can pay off.

We’re heading up Burnside, chattering comfortably away about her and 2.0’s new home escrow, an upcoming kitchen remodel in their current home and my parents’ kitchen remodel – it appears I literally have nothing to add to this conversation myself, so I’m ripping off my parents. But, being an okay son, when she mentions having a potential Quartz Guy, I tell her that my parents had wanted quartz but opted for marble because they couldn’t find a decent deal on quartz.

Sidebar: She literally just texted me this as I’m writing

Hehe…Wong’s.

This is my life, I cannot make it up any better.

End sidebar.

So, we’re driving up Burnside and our conversation is interrupted by directions, as is often the case when GPS is your friend. Or in this case, frenemy.

“In 600 feet, continue on past Taco Bell”…

As far as landmarks go, if you’re going to base them on businesses, Portland has a few iconic offerings along Burnside. For example,

Jim Fisher Volvo has been on Burnside since 1957 and its sign 60 feet over Burnside is nearly as famous as this guy sitting at the head of NW Burnside.

But, no, my phone had inherited my snarky and completely unveiled bitchy personality. Allow me to translate its directions for you.

“Hey, fatty, since you don’t drive and based on your drunken Uber history, the park you’re looking for is past Taco Bell…do not stop at Taco Bell!”

Little Buddy and I were so stunned by this out of character type of direction that it took us a moment to begin laughing our asses off. LB nearly drove into a truck. We were laughing so hard that we nearly missed the second warning at 400 feet. We’d regained our composure enough to enjoy the fact that google kept on shaming me until the “200 feet” marker.

As funny as that was – shituationally – I felt a little cheated that there was no congratulatory message once I’d successfully made it past my drunken dietary siren.

Somehow – after that amazing ab workout slash dose of the best medicine – we made it to our urban trailhead destination. I recognized it, as I’d crossed this road a few times on other adventures. After parking, we head out into the trail as I try to mentally adjust my map so I don’t get us lost.

We both quickly realize that we aren’t entering at the easiest point on the path…as we pretty much are silenced 300 feet into a maybe 12 degree (I’m guessing, not really sure how grades are measured…just assume it’s steep) climb when LB says something along the lines of, “Geez, how long is this hill?!?”

Basically, what I was desperately trying to remember. Wiping the streams of sweat from my face before turning to answer, I tell her that “I can’t actually remember” and that it’s “longer than I recall, I’m trying to remember which way to go at the top so I don’t get lost again”.

Now, this Little Buddy of mine, she’s pretty sharp.

Again?!?”, she asks.

This totally takes the pressure off the early phone fat shaming since I answer her honestly by telling her that I’ve only gotten lost in Forest Park twice.

This year.

This just happens to be one of the two paths I’ve been lost on.

What could possibly go wrong?

I’d guess that the initial climb was about 1000 feet and my treacherous phone told me we climbed 13 stories. One of my math-y friends can figure the grade out and tell the rest of us in the comments.

After that initial near death humility inducing beginning, the path leveled off into a more comfortable elevation gain and we were back to our normally chatty and much less wheezy selves. It was last Wednesday and we both enjoyed the relatively people-free trail as we absorbed the natural settings and caught up.

It’s one of those normally awesome experiences that is even better for the company. I’m glad she and I have had a couple of opportunities to enjoy each other’s company, being outdoors, some beer, a lil wine, great weather and surprisingly few other people. As a matter of fact, once we reached the mansion, I mentioned that this was the smallest crowd I’d seen up there in the three years I’ve been hiking these trails.

Less than a dozen counting us. Excluding us, maybe not even a half dozen.

Heavenly.

Naturally, two of the only other visitors were feeling chatty. And commemorative, asking me to get a pic of them in front of the overlook. LB took off for a shady spot in the corner while the tourists from Salt Lake chatted me up. I mentally praised her reclusiveness, even though I knew that I was projecting my early onset grumpiness onto her mom check in moment.

I can’t blame the tourist for wanting to capture the beautiful view, even if the mountain wasn’t out that day.

I swear, there is a mountain in that haze…somewhere. Maybe next time. I have that luxury, even though it’ll probably be so crowded up there when the mountain is actually out that I won’t be able to get a decent shot of it.

Oh well, first <ahem> step is to get my foot cooperating again!

Fat Shamed By My Phone

I’ve Taken Cap’t Can’t’s Advice

“You know what? Take a hike, don’t ever talk to me again.”

This was the reaction from Captain Can’t when I’d apologized for unintentionally offending him about eight months before I left my last job.

Very mature, right?

Well, The Boss had cleverly manipulated me into being the adult, setting a good example and taking the high road with my jag of a peer. While it worked poorly for me in this particular shituation and The Boss never re-addressed it with Cap’t Can’t, I am happy to report that upon quitting that exercise in daily frustration of a job, I have embraced Cap’t Can’t’s unintentional wisdom.

Frequently.

And will later today, I’m sure. I’m actually writing this as a motivator after failing to get outside yesterday…it was a “too cold”, overcast 65 degree day here in P-Town West.

Today, I need to find my motivation and a trail.

It’ll just be a city trail in Forest Park, but I’ll manage to make it new by inadvertently getting lost on my 10 mile urban sojourn. Unlike last week’s Hood River adventure with Little Buddy.

LB and 2.0 are in the process of buying a house across the Columbia from Hood River and we swung by their title company for a quick errand on the way to our trail. There we were…conveniently adjacent to Aniche Vineyards, where BreitBarb had a case of wine in need of transport back to town.

So, when in Rome…

Not a bad way to loosen up before a hike!

We crossed back over the Columbia and dog legged over to a speck on the map called Mosier to hike a short trail there…

It’s a 3.5 mile switchback path that screams “Live in Mosier!” on behalf of what I’m sure is a nonexistent Mosier Chamber of Commerce. We’ll get to the views, but the houses you can see across the ravine the trail skirts as you climb the backside of a hill are incredible. As much as I appreciated the real estate views during our climb, I was also well aware of the fact that if I lived there, I’d appreciate a much better view facing out past the Mosier Plateau trail and over to the breathtaking Columbia River Gorge.

So, speaking of ravines, Little Buddy and I learned something about each other that day.

She learned that I didn’t like heights and I learned that she didn’t know that about me. There was occasionally a few feet between the path and that cliff. It wasn’t bad, mostly it felt vaguely reminiscent of the hillside Buttercup throws the Dread Pirate Roberts down in The Princess Bride. And there were plenty of wildflowers growing alongside the trail.

But as you can see in the swimming hole pic above, the situation wasn’t all fun and games.

That newfound fear amused us on the way up. I think LB was a little relieved to find that I had a more normal fear than the previously shared fear of sharks…in any body of water. She had brought her new family pooch, Barley, as well. At just under 4 months, this was his first hike and he was a well behaved champ of a hiker, so that was a fun distraction on the way up, too.

He was much better behaved than the two dogs we encountered on the hilltop after we did the turnaround loop. I was leading, so I saw the first of these off leash pooches playing amongst the wildflowers and knee high wild grasses before LB or Barley and excitedly exclaimed “Goat!”.

LB told me to get a pic because our friend BreitBarb hasn’t met a negative emotion goats can’t banish. Now I’ll always be the boy who cried goat.

These dog’s owner had very little control of his animals. I learned both of their names, but can only remember Peter, the first one we met, now. Of course, I remember it because the owner yelled it a lot during the back half of our hike in lieu of actually leashing his exuberant pup. He also yelled the name with some fey accent, so it didn’t come out “Peter” as much as it did a plaintive and eventually annoying “Poitier“.

Still, the view from the top of the trail was simply awe inspiring.

And windy!

I really should have taken a selfie of wind blown old Xtopher, but while I really wanted to see what the never ending, cooling mountaintop gorge winds did to this shaggy mess of hair, I still don’t selfie as often as I could as an American citizen in good standing should.

I’d be a lousy Kardashian.

The top of the trail wasn’t even the top of the mountain, either.

I couldn’t imagine the view being any better from the top, but I was still a little curious about the eastward view from the top since we could only see westward and across the river into Washington state from our trail.

I had all the friends I wanted on the trail with me. Little Buddy and I chattered easily away during our hike, occasionally breaking to get Barley’s take on a topic. Still, this didn’t prevent a few children of the wilderness from trying to introduce themselves to me on the way back.

Lizards…do. not. want.

They kept getting bigger and bigger as the trail descended, too. Weird. Shortly after we passed back by the swimming hole, they stopped appearing, which was good because if they had gotten any bigger I’m afraid I would have been sharing the path with a Gila Monster.

The return trip also afforded us a longer stop at the little pioneer cemetery that we’d passed on the way up.

That second pic is of an 8 year old’s grave. She and I share the same birthday so it was an exciting and eerie discovery.

There weren’t a lot of grave stones in this tiny memorial. There were a lot of depressions in the ground around the trail that made me suspect there were some unmarked graves with wood caskets that had caved in on the trail side. Many of the visible graves were young people, 20 and under…so heartbreaking to imagine the pioneer experience of losing any family on their trek west, let alone losing a child and having to leave them behind.

I was pulled out of this morose imagining on the way up by the appearance of hikers trailing behind us. They stopped in the little cemetery, too, and we moved out. It felt too crowded with our party of three and their party of five. Three moms and two infants.

The Mom Squad.

In addition to feeling crowded, I also didn’t want to be around moms and their babies should the realization that these were largely kids’ graves dawn on them.

Why did I feel guilty about this company?

Anyway, the path being largely switchbacks, we got not far from the Mom Squad. Their chatter was…incessant. I’m sure our own was equally distracting to them, maybe. For me, the semi-valley-girl-esque tone of their talk distracted from the rest of the amazing environs.

Still

I was appreciative of their active lifestyle and unwillingness to be limited by their children.

However

I also judged the safety of strapping your infant onto a front-facing backpack and toddling off on mountainside paths that made me uneasy. I was fearful that mother and Child were only a loose stone away from going over the side.

It made me a little uneasy. I was glad when our little party returned to the viewpoint from the turn around loop and discovered that they had left for the trailhead without doing the loop.

Still, kudos to getting the kids out in nature early. I believe it will create a solid connection to the beautiful PNW wilderness for these newly minted S.N.O.B.s (Society of Native Oregonian Born) and that’s the type of person that keeps the PNW spirit alive!

Little Buddy and I had originally planned to grab lunch after our hike, but we were running late and she needed to get home to get dinner going for her boy and also allow Barley to relieve himself. He’s one of those pups that will only pee off leash…

So, no lunch.

Still, there was time for a teensy wine tasting at Marchesi Vineyards on the way home. LB is a member, so the tasting is gratis. And they had my favorite wine back in stock, so I could pick up a couple bottles of the good stuff to hold me over.

Not driving or having a car makes it hard for me to get out of town, so I love having friends that will take me along every now and again and try to make the most of every chance I do get.

This is my type of high road.

I’ve Taken Cap’t Can’t’s Advice

The Avengers: Redux

I’m sure I’ll be asking myself why I did this to myself again in abut 3 hours. But, in reality, I’m interested not only in finding out if this movie treats my heart like a speed bag the second time around, but also in figuring out why I feel it so strongly.

It’s not just the movie.

We’ll see…give me a few hours and I’ll finish this up.

I like to answer the question, “How was the movie?” by responding, “They all died at the end.”

But holy shit!

By my count, 13 of our beloved superheroes bite it in Infinity War, 15 if you count the superhero “extras” that ash out during the credits. I don’t, since they don’t actually possess super powers or qualify as gods in the Marvel universe. Still, 13…

Holy shit.

The first time seeing this was a late night date night with the Filipina Fox on the Thursday that this movie opened. You can imagine the nerd quotient of the crowd, but she insisted. I joked that she was the only chick in the crowd, which was very nearly true.

Even though I walked out stunned at the movie’s death toll – not just the 13 lost superheroes, but half the population of the universe – I was glad that she insisted!

The exiting crowd was talking about how Marvel could walk back what they’d just witnessed. How some of the ashed supers had sequels with release dates – valid point – and how “Thanos Will Return” at the end of the credits pointed out the sequel/Avengers 4 that would be needed in order to make either of those last two points happen.

Facebook was having a mild meltdown as people started vaguebooking their reaction to the movie.

I knew the feeling. Two days later, I was still stunned as I walked into Thelonious Wines. One of the owners asked what I’d been up to as I sipped my wine and I told her I’d seen the movie. She told me that her friend was in the movie and I thought “extra” until she went on to say that her friend’s Instafeed had been all about the movie for the last few weeks.

“Who is this friend?”, I asked, reassessing my earlier assumption.

As if running one small business wasn’t enough to guarantee that one doesn’t have time to see a movie, the owners of TW were in the endgame of opening a restaurant just a few blocks away, so I was absolutely unsurprised to hear her say that she wasn’t sure what character her friend played, but that her name is Elizabeth Olsen in real life.

Mentally, I took her hand in mine and patted her shoulder with a look of deep sadness.

Outwardly, I just showed her the whites of my eyes all the way around my irises and said, “Oh, yeah…well, I’m not saying anything about anything!”…which is quite out of character for me.

The nerd stampede at the end of the movie was also chock a block full of blaming characters for what happened in the movie, and they were all pretty right with the coulda/woulda/shoulda talk, but that didn’t change anything. It was kinda fun to listen to as we escalated down to street level from the top story theater.

That said, I left the theater today with my own versions of those scenarios. It wasn’t that I was re-writing what I’d just seen out of denial, but was very amused to catch myself thinking, “What was going through Doctor Strange’s mind when he traded his Infinity Stone for Tony Stark’s life?!? I’d only be hadn…”

Who’s the nerd now, Xtopher?

Let’s just call them obvious plot holes, suspend our disbelief and move on, shall we?

I felt like I was able to really follow the 2D version of this second viewing better than the 3D format that I saw originally. While the 3D version gave me an extra jolt during some of the exceptional action scenes, I lost a lot of the minute details in the non-action scenes.

Amusingly, one of those details was Black Panther’s codpiece. Sweet Jesus, I’m not aroused by men who can be described as blessed, but watching Black Panther and his decidedly not little friend kick ass, I found myself thinking, “That right there is why Wakanda needed a protective shield. I know several people who would have stopped at nothing to tame that beast.

By comparison, Thanos – who is a titan, btw – sports a modest package that doesn’t have enough gravity to drag your eyes to it from the actual movie. No wonder he’s so pissed off.

Then again, you know how I enjoy pointing out stereotypes, good or bad. Let’s just say that the stereotypes involving black men (Black Panther) and body builders (Thanos) were both borne out in this case.

When all is said and done, I’m glad I went to see this again. Definitely a good use of my Regal reward points…way better than throwing them away on I Feel Pretty. But I had to face the reality that when my imaginary boyfriend ashed out, I still nearly walked out in protest.

But, back to the original point…why did it affect me so harshly?!?

Here’s what I came up with:

America.

Also, politics.

Why?

Well, in the beginning, we see Loki die. Seriously, like five minutes in. It was shocking and pretty unexpected, but I moved on quickly because even though this character occasionally does the right thing…still, he’s basically a self-serving shitheel so he got what was coming to him.

Then the movie goes about assembling the cast of superheroes for an hour and a half until suddenly, Gomorrah gets killed. Ok, let this sum up how I felt about that little plot development.

I spend the next hour thinking about how it’s so wrong to kill off a good character like that – not to mention a diversity double whammy of an actress since she’s both black and a she – and then wondering if it was a plot point hate crime or equal rights in action…because I live in 2018 Portland, Oregon and we overthink shit like that.

That kept me busy until the last ten minutes of the film where the amount of shit they threw at the fan shorted the fan out.

It was like the 2016 election.

Bernie goes down.

Hillary gets defeated.

Trump wins…and no one can believe it.

And then, when Spidey dies, he improvises everything that Americans felt at the end of the last election cycle. We kinda knew what was ahead of us, something didn’t feel right, we were scared, and we didn’t want to accept the surreality of what lay ahead for us.

That’s why I felt it so hard.

Parallels.

Leaving the theater, I was in denial about the massive devastation I had basically witnessed. It wasn’t the type of parallel that helped reinforce why I enjoy going to movies: the escape from reality that they offer. Listening to the Nerd Squad hypothesize what Avengers 4 would bring us was a lot like listening to the American electorate blaming candidates for the outcome of the last election and then looking forward to how the situation will resolve itself.

My bet?

Avengers 4 shows Thanos getting defeated by Oprah.

Roll credits.

The Avengers: Redux