So, in chronological order:
Wednesday, June 29th
Drove to the airport. INcredibly humid and warm for 6 am; we saw a rainbow, not from rain, but just the humidity,. A humidbow?
The line at the airport to enter the gates was ~400 feet. Pshaw, TSA.
Uneventful otherwise. Short stopover in Vegas. Interesting to see the diversity of the population as seen at airports… and, compared to high school (and presumably college) quite unattractive on the whole. Exceptions are invariably young ~ I wonder, Swartz-like, how much of this is genetic, and how much social conditioning.
Got in to Portland, rented a minivan – Ford Freestar with squishy brakes — drove to a good thing when these shots are being given to newborns. Anyways, thimerisol started to be added to these vaccines in 1988 — the year after I was born; yet more evidence that I was born at exactly the right time ;). Since then, the rate for autism in children has jumped from one in 2500 to one in 166. That’s a pretty staggering fifteen-fold increase. Also keep in mind that “having autism” isn’t a “yes or no” deal — there are different severities of autism one can be afflicted with. One of the “lighter” variations is now called Asperger Syndrome — interestingly enough, it’s only been recognized by the DSM, which is a sort of clinical Bible to psychological and neurological diseases, since 1994. In the book, the narrator’s mannerisms place him slightly beyond Asperger’s in the severity of his condition, but not by very much. Anyways, presumably for every person diagnosed with full-blown autism, it’s probably reasonable to assume that there is at least two who have a more minor form like Asperger’s, diagnosed or not. Anyways, coming back home after that incredibly long tangent, I wonder: Perhaps part of the reason for the book’s success is that we’ve simply got so many people walking around with some form of autism that Mark Haddon’s portrayal conjures up first and foremost not feelings of pity or confusion or wonder, but… recognition. Thinking “yeah, I know a few people like that”. I heard Terry Gross interview Mark on NPR in the middle of June, and apparently that’s been what people have been telling him — that the like the book in part because they can identify with the narrator through their acquaintences. One more interesting fact gleaned from that interview, before we return to the travelogue: Mark Haddon did virtually no research on autism, and simply used empathy and imagination to create his characters. Taken one way, this is more evidence that the mannerisms of autism have seeped into our collective (un?)conciousness; taken another way, it’s simply a vaguely impressive Stephen-Crane-like ability to describe, in accurate detail, somewith of which one has no actual experience. Perhaps the two views aren’t exclusive…
Anyways, moving right along…
After breakfast (Swedish pancakes, for which I slept in too late to recieve more than two…) the three of us (Marty, Karin, and myself) made the two hour drive down to Eugene to meet up with my brother Alex at the University of Oregon campus. Toured his Studio cubicle, then drove to his on-campus apartment/house. Dropped off the Xbox I’d brought over — with controllers and games, but sans cables. D’oh! (I then, upon arriving home, mailed the forgotten cables, but still forgot the power cord. Sigh). On the way out, unbeknownst to me, met one of the lead members of On The Rocks. Didn’t learn his identity ’til a few minutes later, at lunch at a place called Cafe Zenon. Decent food; we missed not getting a parking ticket by a few seconds.
Took a tour of the campus for a few hours, then drove to Florence, where we had a nice dinner. I had a very good clam chowder and a decent chicken, with not-so-good garlic-sauteed mushrooms.
Left cell-phone and camera battery chargers at home, too. Former a nonissue – used my dad’s — but the camera dealie is worse. One dead and one low, *before* the 4th party.
Bought a t-shirt that says “Oregon Coast – On The Rocks” and a floppy cab-driver hat (cap?). $20 for both.
Stayed at the Pierpont Best Western for the night.
On the drive to Florence, tried listening to my CD player, ugh. What a horrible experience. I hope Apple releases 2-4 GB iPod shuffles before the end of August.
Woke up, had two breakfasts — one continental at the BW, one ‘readl’ one at an ‘authentic’ diner called Cackleberries, which is MEGA cool fifties diner lingo for “eggs”. Our waitress called out “Welcome to Dennys!”, paused, and then burst out laughing at her own joke. But despite how that sounds on paper, it wasn’t really tacky.
Moved on to the dunes, where Alex and I rented ATVs for an hour. Man, but that’s fun… roaring around on a quad, going down 70-degree hills… making sliding turns, or quick drunken zig-zags. Getting stuck, then surfing on an ATV in neutral down a steep hill, running alongside and then jumping on when it started going too fast… good stuff.
My parents ended up waiting for a while longer for a “tour” on a rail — a larger, longer dune buggy with roll bars. They seemed to have a good time. I actually think it might be fun to go on one of the rails, with someone else driving you, compared to the quads, because (A) you’ve got a much more experienced driver, and (B), the rail itself is longer, wider, and more stable than an ATV.
Cherry rock candy — mmmm.
Drove to outlets – Tanger, no less, a virtual clone of Rehoboth’s outlets, 3,000 miles away. I bought a brown suede/rough leather jacket, with highlighted stitching, for $35, down from, I dunno, $150 – $200, probably. Now have black heavy leather (Vlad’s), brown suede, and a light tan silk blazer, medium weight. [side note: Now if only it weren’t FOUR FREAKING THOUSAND DEGREES FAHRENHEIT OUTSIDE, I could wear ’em!].
Drove on to dinner at Tinas, in Dundee. The dinner itself was pretty nondescript, but it started out with one of the most surreal conversations I’ve ever had. Before we even get out our menus, my phone rings. I look, and instead of showing a name or a calling number, the screen is blank. Completely blank. (Later, the Call Log just said “(no caller)”. Weird, So, anyways, it’s a young-sounding female voice on the other end. She starts off by asking “So which is larger, 8/10 or 9/10”. In the span of less than forty seconds, she managed to go from there to mentioning the fact that she had no clothes on not once but twice. As I said, a surreal conversation.
Woke up around 10:30 ish. Irene and Vlad came ~11:30. They were both pretty tired from their plane ride over, so they both naped for a few hours. Meanwhile, I continued reading Blue Blood.
- Very reasonable/fair/balanced treatment of the War on Drugs.
- Interesting contrast in view of the Dinkins/Guiliani administrations between Conlon and Freakonomics’ Steven Levitt. Levvite notes that crime began dropping in Dinkins’ admin, Conlon says that it peaked. Glass half full; glass half empty.
- It looks like Conlon (and most other Narcs) didn’t even bother writing up marijuana crimes “on the street” — too many more important crimes being given too little attention.
- Sad to see so many heroin dealers being charged with ‘misdemeanor possession’.
So after Irene and then Vlad woke up, the four of us (Alex, Irene, Vlad and I) took the MAX train to downtown Portland. Had lunch a the Flying Elephants cafe, then took buses to the Japanese Gardens and the Rose Garden. Dinner at the Red Star Tavern & Roast House was quite good. I had a spit-roasted chicken and a root eer float. I sort of want postcards showing the JG in all season’s glory. I can’t do it justice with my pictures. All in all, a somewhat slow day.
Vlad goes sturgeon fishing with Gary; Alex and I are picked up by Carl and Clara, who take us to Rick’s house. We met Chewie and Mojo, Rick’s two Rottweilers. Chewbacca is a mother of a dog, in the best ways — a full inch and a half and fifteen pounds larger than normal for the breed, and wit a show-dog’s bearing and coat. Very friendly, too, to those not bringing weapons into Rick’s jewelry store. Mojo is a 45 lb “puppy” who acts very much like a little brother to Chewie, and, in fact, like Chewie himself used to act with Cochise, his predecessor. Chewie’s father and uncles have been featured on the cover of dog magazines, apparently… a good family.
The other — well, main — raeason for our being there was Rick’s car collection. When we were there, it included (but was not limited to! I’m sure there are at least two I forgot about) the following cars:
- X-J 6
- X-J 12
- ’83 Ferarri 308
- ’71 Pantera, license plate YTRYIT
- a Jaguar Mark-II (used to be 2, but he’s been acknowleging the existence of other auto manufacturers lately)
The Ferarri (racing-red) and the flat purple Pantera were the items du jour.
So, we all had great fun riding around, enjoying the beautiful winding mountain roads that just seemed BUILT for these cars: turns shar, and speed limits liberal enough to excite the blood, without putting undue stress upon the stomach.
However, it then came time to swap cars. Innocently enough, we pulled into a driveway and got out of the cars we’d driven up and into the cars we’d be driving down.
The man who happened to own the driveway we so randomly chose, however, seemed to view our presence as a deliberate provokation, a message from the redneck god of pissiness himself. He harangued us for five minutes or so, even after numerous apologies for both drivers, and threatened to kick in the sides of Rick’s insanely expensive cars. (Note to self: look up Blue Book values). Needless to say, this didn’t go over well with Rick, who fishtailed out of this guy’s driveway, laying down a nice fresh set of tire marks on the road. We continued on our merry way, until we came to a gravel/dirt road. (Unimproved, as they say). Well, when you’re riding in a pricey, showy sports car with a fresh & shiny paint job, little pices of rock thrown up by the tires are a mighty unpleasant thing to contemplate.
Rick, however, went for a good mile and a half — at least — before finally turning around and going back. Carl, driving the Ferarri, was executing a 3-point turn when we both heard a loud and sickening “crunch,” and, backing up, saw a low mound of concrete with a fire-engine-red smudge on the top. This, needless to say, produced some very colorful language from Carl. We’d see how much damage had been inflicted when we got hom; for now, our first priority was to get past this Oregon mountain-billy without getting us or the cars damaged. (It looked like Chewie had taken a big bite out of the air dam when we inspected the damage). I don’t know where he was when Rick came up over the hill, but by the time our car was in front of his house, he’d planted himself smack dab in the middle of the road. An aamzingly stupid move, considering that we were going at least fifty-five as we passed him, and Carl had to swerve to avoid hitting the poor fellow. Blue Blood has a nice phrase for this guy: “prick of misery.” I dunno if his daugher ran away with a Venezuelan arms dealer or his wife ODed on methamphetamines and his dog was caught in flagrant delicto with the gerbil, or what, but he had to have something else going on with his life to be such a spoilsport.
Vlad, meanwhile, was having rather rotten luck sturgeon fishing. Nibbles, but no bites, and he didn’t catch a single sturgeon. However, he had rather better luck salmon fishing, as the first thing he caught was a 20-lb delicious
bass salmon. Needless to say, we had grilled salmon for dinner that night.
Went jogging in the morning. Found a newly-formed honeybee colony on one of the posts supporting Lillian’s raspberry bushes. On Tuesday, a guy came over to remove the nest. He could have been Uthy’s long-lost twin brother.
Then went to Uncle Alvin’s farm in the afternoon. Amusing scenario, undoubtedly the germ of Overheard in Oregon:
FIVE OLD LADIES are sitting around a table, gossiping and talking about evangelicals sand religion.
OLD LADY 1: Carl! Carl, come here! [pause] Now, tell me: What is a “blog”?
CARL, a mid-fifties, relatively hip-to-technology father: Well, it’s short for Web [pause] Log. It’s basically a person’s diary, posted on the Internet.
OLD LADY 2: Why would anyone want to post their diary on the Internet?
CARL mentions topical blogs, but the concept is obviously lost…
Slow day while everyone-but-me goes wine tasting.
Ok, I don’t even know if I’ll have gotten this written up in time for Kristen to see before she goes off to PACAA, but…
well, OK, so the deal is to post 5 songs I’m “really in to”. Well, for the last like two weeks, I’ve been playing TONS of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Thirty six hours, according to the game. (I finished the storyline, but haven’t gotten to “100%” completion, and probably never will). Anyways, one of the coolest things about the game is that it comes with a full gigabyte of music (list) that you can play as radio-music while you’re driving, which is at least half of the time you’re in the game. There are eight different radio stations that are mostly GENIUS parodies of ClearChannel-style radio. The genius is that each radio has its own unique DJ that adds… color… to the songs being played.
Radio X is the “alternative” radio station, e.g. Y100. From “Sage”: “When I freed myself from the tyranny of this society by not wearing underpants, it really let me air out my mind.” “Now, don’t forget, each week we meet at the park and watch silent German expressionist films projected on a tree. God, things that are foreign are SO moving.” “Why stop and think about anything when you can just get caught in a routine?” “This song is dedicated to the boy I laid behind a Cluckin’ Bell last night.” And, in the flashy/showy BIG! (male) voice used to promote the station itself (both Y100 and Radio X): “Radio X. We’re at the end of the alphabet, people. That has to mean something, even if we don’t know what.”
In thirty-six hours of playing, I only heard this once, but it was just so great I’ve gotta include this (for SF-UR, the “underground”/house radio station:
Hans: “Next caller!”
Caller: “Hans, this is your father. Your mother took some pills she found in your room and now she eez humping the cat! What are you doing?!?”
Hans: “Please, stop! You are ruining my vibe and diminishing my supply!”
I think it’s much funnier with the German accents 🙂
Anyways, without further ado, my five songs:
1. Children’s Story — Slick Rick
2. This Is Acid – Maurice
3. I Can Make You Dance — Zapp
4. Nuthin’ but a G Thang — Dr. Dre feat Snoop Dogg
5. Check Yo Self — Ice Cube