Archive for July, 2009

Second Lesson Down

July 21st, 2009 2 comments

Not nearly as easy as the first one, apparently I didn’t pay as much attention to this busier surface streets as I did when shotgunning on side streets.

Again I was thrown to it, this time without the delay of heading to a practice spot. We met at Grant High again, a different instructor this time. More assertive than the first one, she actually took hold of my hand to correct my grip on the shifter and I reminded her that I’m not 15. Looking back I’m a bit surprised that bothered me as much as it did. Anyhoo.

We drove up into the hilly neighborhood east of Grant. Narrow, uneven streets broken up by tree roots. Windy roads leading to uneven intersections. Then onto Broadway and Sandy. Even the Hell Intersection (OMFG!) but I lucked out and the light turned green almost immediately. Into more jacked up streets in SE, AND driving on Hawthorne. Then a spin up Rocky Butte, long spirals up then downhill and back to Grant via motherfucking Halsey through Hollywood.

Oh! And the big traffic circle on 39th & Glisan. I expected to get some multi-lane traffic but I didn’t expect some of the busier parts of Portland. But why the hell not? We also did angled parking and parking on up and down slopes. I’m betting lesson three is freeways and parallel parking.

This turned out to be pretty stressful. I noticed after a while my neck was stiff and my hands were getting white knuckled. At that point I’d been driving for an hour and a half or as she put it, “to the Dalles.”

She thought I was turning too fast and my lane changes were too abrupt. And I’m not yet in the habit of checking the rear view when braking, or of clearing my blind spot when I turn right (might be a fucking bike back there, oops). Those last two are just plain complacency. If I get rear ended or if a cycler doesn’t see my turn light, that’s not my fault. Although I’m not positive about turning into a cycler in my blind spot.

I found out one helpful bit, driving tests are scheduled every half hour. Which doesn’t seem sufficient, but I guess DMV only needs to make sure a prospective driver isn’t a total idiot. I wonder what the pass rate is. Hmm.

Anyway, more practice needed. Sandy, Powell, Broadway/Weidler. She specifically said I should practice turning from two way to one way streets and vice versa and Lloyd would be good for that.

Oh, it’s also illegal for a permit holder to drive downtown! Oops. Actually the “central business area”, which I guess I need to check out.


Holy cow! (another exercise post)

July 18th, 2009 1 comment

I haven’t lifted weights in about three months. I can’t remember why I stopped, probably a Krav Maga related owie, maybe simple malaise, I dunno.

But I’m back and my focus now is less on building muscle, but on minimizing muscle loss while I’m dieting. I’m still doing the single set routine, I’ll see if I want to revise that when my goal weight is reached, or I just can’t lose any more gut. Or more probably, decide it’s not worth whatever sacrifice it’ll take. I’d like to get under 200lbs, I can’t remember the last time I weighed less than two bucks. And now, random thoughts while I’m waiting between exercises….

My stretching routine takes almost half an hour! Wow! No wonder I was having trouble finishing my workout in a reasonable time before. But it’s good stretching, so I’ll keep it.

My gut has shrunk enough that it’s noticeably easier to do leg presses. I giggle with glee shamelessly.

I want to be able to do pull ups. Why do they have to be so damn hard?

This is easier than I’d feared. A lot of atrophy happens in three months. The bench press in particular was better than anticipated. Pecs, yay!!!

Who thought up these stupid cross hatch grips? My palms are hamburger! Boo!!

Better get to the treadmill. Harry Potter this afternoon!

Okay, no treadmill. Crap. Off we go.

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Unofficial advice for #yelp elite event hosts

July 17th, 2009 4 comments

As the title (with hashtag!) indicates, this is a post about Yelp and Yelping. If you don’t I guarantee you’ll find something more interesting on the web than this.
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A word about nomenclature

July 13th, 2009 4 comments

I’ve gotten into a bit of trouble with a friend of mine over my use of “Oriental” rather than the more common “Asian” in conversation. When called on this thus far I’ve either dismissed it (“… Oriental-” “Asian.” “Yeah…) or given the disingenuous but very quick explanation that the words are functionally identical because they both roughly mean “east”.

I’ll now go into detail about my conscious word choice, to clarify my thoughts and to demonstrate I’m not just an asshole. Of course this in no way asserts that I’m not an asshole, if for no other reason than it’s nearly impossible to talk about these things without sounding like an asshole. I’m okay with being thought an asshole. Take that as a warning before you continue.

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More driving, less failing!

July 8th, 2009 2 comments

Two driving practices have gone down with no accidents of the vehicular or execratory kind. I celebrate with an appletini.

I’m rolling AC’s truck around the hood, shit’s going smooth. Apparently too smooth because the mofo suggests I take us to the “residential” spot.

“You mean Ladd’s??” I protest.
“Why not?”
Well, it’s your car, dude. For those of you that don’t know, Ladd’s Addition is a big mess. Here, look. The side streets are hella narrow, especially with cars parked on both shoulders. It got hairy at moments.

After that we went back down so I could practice left turns, which the instructor, my sister and AC all said are rougher than my right turns. I think I sorted that out. Then I drove us over to Burnside, including crossing Sandy. Yeah it was pushing 9, so traffic was light. But Sandy’s a diagonal 5 lane street (including the center turning lane, plus 2 bike lanes ) and I’ve got maybe 6 hours behind the wheel so far. It was some excitement. Get off my back.

I was supposed to practice three times before lesson #2, but all I had to work on was turning, I feel pretty good about that now. I’m sure my turning is very beginnery, but it will be for a while. If I get some practice time before next week, I’ll take it, but I’m not going to delay.

I’m sure that I’ll have new shit to practice after lesson #2, so people with automatics are still encouraged to volunteer. There’s lunch in it for you. Or beers after or whatever.


Another winner

July 8th, 2009 1 comment

from Not Always Right.

As The Checkout Line Churns

Clothing Store | Philadelphia, PA, USA

(I’m ringing up a customer and notice her last name is the same as mine. I have a very uncommon last name, so I made the mistake of mentioning this…)

Me: “Your last name is [name]? Mine, too. Wonder if we’re related?” *chuckle*

Customer: *very serious* “What is your name?”

Me: “Oh, I was joking, we’re not related; almost all of my family lives up in New England.”

Customer: *more serious* “What is your name?”

Me: “Uhhh…I’m no–”

Customer: “Do you have a brother named [brother’s name]?”

Me: “Yes, actually…”

Customer: “Is your mother [mom’s name]?”

Me: “Uh, yeah…”

Customer: “And your father’s name is [my estranged father’s name]?”

Me: “Well, he’s my biological father, yes.”

Customer: *sticks out hand* “Nice to meet you, I’m your step-mother!”

(The entire line of about a dozen people behind her gasps, like they were watching a soap opera.)

Me: “Oh, God…please don’t tell my father I work here.”

Customer: “You know why your father left your mother, right?”

Me: “Uh…no?”

Customer: “Because she cheated on him with [my stepfather]!”

(The line behind her gasps again.)

Me: “Oh, okay…”

Customer: “You know, your father is very heartbroken about you. You’ve grown up to be such a beautiful young woman. You should call him and talk to him just so he can see how you’re doing.”

Me: “Actually, we don’t–”

Customer: “You and I need to go out for coffee sometime. I have a lot of stories to tell you.”

Me: “Okay, well–”

Customer: “I promise, I’m not an evil stepmother. Well, I’ll see you later, sweetie!” *bounces out the front door*

Me: *speechless*

Next customer: “Sweetie, are you okay?”

Me: *still speechless*

Next customer: “Why don’t you take a break? We don’t mind waiting.”

Entire line: “No! Go take a break!”

Me, to my boss: “Hey, I’m taking a break. I’ll be back in–”

Boss: “For God’s sake, go home! I’ll see you on Monday.”

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That wasn’t so bad

July 1st, 2009 4 comments

My first driving lesson is over. No wrecks, no cursing. Huzzah!

When I told people I was taking driving lessons the typical response was that I didn’t need them. Several people volunteered to teach me. I always replied that I felt like I could benefit from some professional instruction. There were two major reasons I felt this way.

First, the last time I tried to learn to drive, I decided I would rather adopt a lifestyle I knew was against the grain of prevailing American (even Portlander) standards to the point of freakishness. That would be incredibly inconvenient and socially awkward, if not crippling. I don’t travel, I don’t camp, my life is limited really to the city center of Portland. It wasn’t until I decided to get my license that I fully considered the effects of not having one. Do I really not camp because there’s no A/C? Or is it because not sharing in long trip driving duties would be an imposition? I know I’ve made long walks and longer bus rides because I didn’t want to put someone out. All of this was because my last time practicing driving FUCKING. SUCKED. ASS.

This isn’t as Freudian as it sounds, it’s my mother’s fault. She was the one I did most of my practice with and the woman is a stress case. Really, her hobbies are reading and freaking the fuck out. I’ve seen her break down sobbing at being startled. The woman’s high strung. That was my driving instructor. No, I didn’t take driver’s ed. Yes, that was an error. It’s on the “If I knew then…” list.

Second: teaching is a skill. To really teach someone a thing, you have to know the thing AND how to teach. If you want to learn something complex you need a teacher (or a long apprenticeship, but even that comes with intruction).

So, the lesson. It went pretty smoothly. We practiced in a church parking lot. The car had a sensitive throttle and a high idle, and the lot was sloped. Once I got used to that, smooth sailing. Then we went into the neighborhood.

I’d like to thank all the people I’ve rode shotgun with repeatedly, this is mainly Mom and Gloom. You got some good driving habits that I picked up on. The thousands of miles rolling side streets in Lents and Montavilla particularly helped. I already knew about how to deal with oncoming traffic and parked cars, kids crossing, stuff like that. Even the Domino’s driver that hit Mom’s car made me learn a LOT about uncontrolled intersections (although that was a bit fresh in the memory last time I tried this).

Also, my bike helped a ton. Particularly for alertness in traffic and practical knowledge of traffic laws. I had been worried I’d rely too much on my peripheral vision, but I found myself leaning in my seat to see around obstacles. That’s from the bike (although I can’t stand up in a car. You drivers don’t realize how much you miss stuck in that coffin). Honestly, if I hadn’t pedalled so much in the last few years, I don’t think I’d be ready for this.

Anyway, the instructor said I should practice three times before I take my next lesson. So if anyone has an automatic and a quiet neighborhood, I’ll buy lunch.

And just for the record: I am NOT designated driver material. Gloom might be an exception to that. Too bad he’s got a stick.