Saturday, February 18, 2012

Random Observations from Portland

This is going to be a different type of blog post than what I typically write. Normally, I sit down and make an outline. I then write about each topic or idea that I outlined. I usually have notes but sometimes I just recall it from memory. What I have done is make notes on thoughts or observations since my post on Friday, February 3rd. I decided to do this since I really don't have any exact adventures to describe like I normally do. Also, my goal is to write at least once a week which is something that I haven't been doing. This will depend if there is enough content that warrants a post or not. I plan writing on Wednesday's or Thursday's. Anyway, here it goes. Hope you all like it. Feel free to leave comments at the bottom of the post on the blog if you like this or not. These observations are random and not organized in any way and are not everything I have been thinking about or working on.

  • Alethea and scouted out places to watch the Super Bowl and discovered there weren't that many places within a relatively short distance that had it on. We ended up going to a place only two blocks away called  Bazi Bierbrasserie to watch it on a 114 in HD screen. Bazi is a Belgian beer bar. We enjoyed it & both rooted for the Giants.

    114 inch HD screen @ Bazi's we watched the Super Bowl on
  • When I updated my cell phone address to Portland, Oregon my cell phone bill went down 10% a month due to lower taxes. Oregon charges a small percentage based tax to fund their 911 call centers where Tennessee charges a flat fee at the state and county level that is more expensive.
  • Our apartment is in a Sprint cell phone dead zone. I'm primarily using my Google Voice number on my laptop to make phone calls.
  • I am somewhat acclimating to the cooler temperatures. Being outdoors everyday helps quite a bit.

    Alethea bundling up for our morning walk to the gym
  • I often thinking about how much easier it is to eat healthier in Portland versus many other places in the US. Lost of fresh, local, organic foods in grocery stores and restaurants.
  • Oregon has a 5 cent bottle deposit recycling system. Numerous studies have shown these programs are the most effective for improving recycling rates. One change since we were here last was that you can take any bottle to any bottle recycling center whereas when we were here last you could only take bottles back to a store that sold that type of bottle. 
  • It easy to recycle here. Portland has curb side pick up of glass, plastic, paper, and composting. Garbage is only picked up every other week. If you need to have it picked up sooner you have to call and pay ~$5 per bag. Portland's recycling rate is around 70%. As a comparison the last time I saw numbers for Nashville it was around 27%. The national average is around 30%. 90% of residents participate in some form of recycling.
  • On some days it can be quite windy – 20-30 mph the whole day long.
  • Our Fred Meyer has free paper shredding.
  • The computer monitor that we purchased lasted 5 minutes. It broke when I plugged in the 3.5 mm audio jack. We decided to return it to Target and just do without.
  • Been working out at our new gym for the last two weeks. Feeling pretty good. I like the new gym which is called The Green Microgym .
  • Due to the cooler weather I had Alethea cut my hair with a 2 blade instead of a 1 but that isn't close enough. I'm switching back to 1 blade with my next cut. 
  • Met one of the people we share our building with. His name is Dirk. The other person's name is Chris but we haven't seen or met him. I know he exists because he is responsible for taking out the trash and the containers usually get taken out and eventually put back up.
  • Ordered an external USB DVD player for my laptop using leftover money from an Amazon gift card. Not sure we'll keep it. Primary reason for getting it is because it is cheaper to rent movies from Redbox than download them from Apple or other places.
  • I love Alethea's cooking but not enjoying the time it takes to wash the dishes. We don't have a dish washer. Over/under for length that I can tolerate is 20 minutes. I usually listen to podcast while I wash.

    another one of Alethea's wonderfully prepare meals (lamb, beans, & greens)
  • Excited that I weighed in at the gym at 180lbs. I am still down 51 lbs from what I weighed in March of 2009 when I got serious about losing weight. 75% of people who lose more than 20 pounds regain it back within 12 months. Not me :-).
  • Enjoy listening to podcast when working out.
  • Bough a Groupon or maybe Living Social for a Zip Car membership. We have two months to activate it. If we stay in Portland we should hardly ever need a car. The membership can be transferred to other cities that have Zip Cars. 
  • Had a lot of problems with browsers on my laptop due to issues with Shockwave which allows you to play video. Can't wait until HTML 5 becomes more mainstream.
  • Took and passed the OLCC (Oregon Liquor Control Commission) test which allows me to sell or serve alcohol in the state of Oregon. Primary reason for getting this is so we can get better volunteer jobs at beer festivals. License is valid for 5 years. Alethea and I both got an 98% on the test. I was hoping to beat her but didn't :-)
  • Took the online course and passed for my Oregon Food Handler's Card. It is mandatory that you have this if you handle food. We got this to help out at the festivals. I studied and read the prep guide and got 2 questions wrong. Alethea didn't study and only got 1 question wrong :-(. This is good for 3 years.
  • In order to keep track of Happy Hour deals for food and drink we've created a shared calendar on Google. Happy hour is a big deal around here. Nearly every restaurant has some type of deal. We are only tracking the best ones and not everyone.
  • Spent a couple hours and cleaned up all my old Twitter & Facebook lists.
  • Checked out and read in one day The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau. Good book. He actually lives here in Portland. His blog is interesting. He is trying to travel to every country in the world before he is 35. The last country he will go to is Norway which I've already been too. Chris's blog can be found here.
  • Toured a couple distilleries one day and bought some vodka called Portland Vodka 88 and a coffee liquor from House Spirits. Both are made here in Portland. Portland is getting noticed for its Vodka making abilities.
  • Spent some time researching living in Vancouver, Washington which is just across the river from Portland. Washington has no income tax and Portland has the 5th highest state income tax in the US but no sales tax. Public transportation via bus reaches Portland from Vancouver. Housing is also cheaper there too.
  • Went on an adventure one day to three grocery stores to research the price of bananas before buying some.
  • Saw a woman walking a cat on a leash. I didn't have my cell phone or camera out and couldn't get a picture. The only other time I have seen this before was in Oslo, Norway.
  • Alethea was selected to be an extra on the NBC show Grimm. She wrote about it in this post on her blog. I thought it was way cool. 
  • Valentine's Day dinner was at the Cha Cha Cha Mexican Restaurant during happy hour that was only a couple blocks away. Also, went to a local bar named Proof that had pints for only $2.75.

    Valentine's Day pint @ Proof, only $2.75!
  • Still trying to get our health insurance transferred to Oregon. Blue Cross Blue Shield of TN is dragging their feet.
  • Researched getting an Oregon's driver's license. I have all the documentation and I don't have to take the driver's test just the written knowledge test. Total cost is $65 cash.
  • Do not miss not having a TV. We stream TV shows and sporting events to our laptops.
  • Was nominate for Portland's Yelp Elite team which could include some freebies at various events over the course of a year. Alethea had Elite statue in 2010 (& technically 2011). We were able to go to some events only for Elite Yelpers. 
  • Signed up for Grammar Girl's weekly podcast to help improve my grammar.
That's all for now. Hope to post again in another week or so!