Archive for January, 2009

Small Towns

I’m talking about Portland. Even though it’s a major city, I still have too many of those bump-into-people-you-know moments, especially when I least expect to.

Hmm, actually, perhaps it’s not so much that Portland is a small town over the possibility that I just know too many people.

Nah, that can’t be it.

And the thing about it is that I sometimes feel like there’s this unofficial expectation to hang out with them. Like, for instance, at a coffee shop or bar, especially if they’re there by themselves at the time. Most of them, I would hang out with. Others are just acquaintances.

I’m very picky with whom I spend my free time. I certainly don’t want to feel obligated to do so. Come to think of it, they probably feel the same way.

So, if I see someone I know at a coffee shop, for instance, I’ll say ‘hi’ and exchange pleasantries. But I will forgo my original intention of hanging out at said coffee shop and instead take my order to-go.

Is this weird?

Old Sneakers Gain New Life

I hate tooting my company’s own horn because it’s too self-serving sometimes, but our Reuse-a-Shoe program is just something I’m very proud of.  It’s probably not the most innovative thing ever developed, but it’s still something worthwhile, especially when it comes to a big company doing everything that it can to reduce its carbon footprint.

In short, Nike’s Reuse-a-Shoe program ground up old athletic shoes (of any brand) into a material called Nike Grind, a rubber composite that has been used as flooring at school gymnasiums, playgrounds, etc.  In fact, several key locations inside Nike’s World Headquarters– including a regulation track and putting green– employ the Nike Grind technology for its surface treatment.

Every little thing helps when it comes to saving the environment.  And Nike Grind is certainly just another way to contributing to that cause.

Sick and Cold

I have a cold. It’s not a full-blown one yet, but it’s definitely on the brink. You know the type: it starts with muscle aches and pains, then comes the scratchy throat, followed by the congestion and the coughing. I’ve felt this coming since Saturday but, like any idiot who wouldn’t admit to being prone to illness, ignored it and went about my merry way. Heck, I even went for a run on Sunday and Monday. Finally, yesterday morning, it reared its ugly head further outward and I had to go home partway into my workday. Last night was the I-can’t-sleep-because-I-can’t-breathe-through-my-nose stage. Luckily, I haven’t developed any fevers. Hopefully, the DayQuil I started taking yesterday afternoon is helping to stave that off. If all goes well, I’ll be back to work tomorrow.

But now it’s snowing again, and it’s damn cold. And it’s not helping matters…

Sigh…

Youth: The Disappearing Act

Clearly not old enough...

Clearly not old enough...

It came very suddenly.  I got old.

I could remember up until last month when I would constantly get carded at bars and would elicit a surprised expression from the server or bartender when they find out my actual age.  “You definitely look younger,” they would coo and, therefore, guarantee an awesome tip from me.

These days, they take one look and they know that, not only am I old enough to legally consume alcohol, I was just plain old.  I can certainly see it on my face now, which features a few more lines that didn’t exist perhaps three or four months ago.

The saddest part is that these lines appeared in conjunction with my weight-loss.  My skin was stretched out and smooth before.  Now, they don’t have as much pushing outward at it.  A co-worker recently told me that I have noticeable laugh lines.

Not that I’m bothered about aging, mind you.

It’s just that it seemed to have snuck up on me.

Chew On This

Now that I am minus four wisdom teeth in the back of my mouth, I’m finding it difficult to chew food the way I’d always done so, that I end up accidentally biting the inside of my cheeks more often than the food itself.  It’s amazing how much muscle memory steps into an automatic occurence such as chewing.  And because I lack certain teeth in the back now, I’ve found myself chewing things a little longer and differently.  Even gum.  I’m relearning how to chew gum.  How effed up is that?  I’d half-expected this, of course, but it’s still inconvenient as hell…

“I Have a Dream…”

“…And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together…”

Excerpt from Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s address at Washington, D.C. in 1963.

Monsters From My Youth

A spam recent email that I got from my father got me to thinking about the monster stories that I’d heard while growing up in the Philippines.  Like many cultures and countries, the Philippines has its own set of ghouls and goblins that torment the hearts, minds, and active imaginations of its citizens.  A couple of these Filipino mythical creatures are the manananggal and the tikbalang.

The manananggal (MAH-nah-nang-gal) is the most fearsome of the bunch, in my book.  A derivative of the folkloric vampires, the manananggal, which is always female, has the ability to take flight courtesy of gigantic bat-like wings and her M.O. includes sucking the blood of unsuspecting, normally sleeping victims.  And, just like the vampire, the manananggal is repelled by garlic, which is why citizens often hang bunches of garlic along their windows to help ward off this flying terror.  The most distinct characteristic of this blood-sucker is that she leaves the lower part of her body on the ground while taking flight.  She takes great care in hiding portion of her body, normally severed at the waist, because it is the most vulnerable part of her frightful incarnation.  If someone pours salt or smears garlic on this unprotected stump, the manananggal is unable to reconnect with it and will die at daybreak.  >> Read more…

The tikbalang (teek-BAH-lang) is a half-man/half-horse giant that likes to hide among groves of trees, and is the most docile of the mythical creatures albeit still frightful in appearance, known more as a ‘trickster’ than anything more horrific.  It is said to confuse travelers, making them go around in circles or getting them lost.  This is more of an inconvenience rather than anything frightening but it could take on an ominous tone if one is alone in the woods in the dark (which, unless you’re Bear Grylls, is almost always recipe for disaster).  To counteract the effects of the tikbalang, folklore dictates for travelers to wear their shirts inside-out and/or loudly ask for permission to pass through a forest. >> Read more…

One other creature that has caused many a sleepless night in my childhood– or, at least, uncomfortable shivers around a ghost story-telling circle– is the “White Lady.”  A common folkloric element in many cultures, the “White Lady” in the neighborhoods where I lived is often the ghost of a woman who had been betrayed by her husband or lover, and even in death is known to be eternally (and loudly, spookily) lamenting her predicament.  It is believed that the “White Lady” appears in the vicinity of a household where someone is near death or will suddenly die.

Click here for additional information on Philippine mythology.