Keep Portland Weird

If you took Austin, shrunk it, surrounded it with lush greenery, put a snow-capped mountain in the backdrop, added convenient public transportation, added light rain, and threw in a beautiful beach just outside the city which required a scenic drive to get to, you’d get Portland. It had that laid-back weird eccentric vibe, much like Austin, but with more liberals and fewer gun-nuts.

Cannon Beach

The brunch scene is thriving there, as my Yelp search results can demonstrate. I did not get to try many spots (I am sure this would’ve been my daily Saturday morning routine if I lived there) but I did go to Pine State Biscuits, twice. Reggie Deluxe each time. Large, moist biscuits? Check. Lightly breaded fried chicken breast? Check. Fried egg? Check. Gravy? CHECK.

The Reggie Deluxe

I didn’t get many pictures of downtown Portland. I did find their chrome animal statues on drinking fountains and benches to be charming. The downtown area is small and one could easily walk across town in 30 minutes. The food trucks in Portland surround parking lots instead of being in a parking lot. The trucks served mainly foreign foods from Asia, with the odd German wurst and Greek gyro truck. However, after making a few rounds, I didn’t find anything especially interesting or unique. I will stipulate that I did not visit all the food truck areas in and around Portland, just the one downtown.

Other sites visited: Japanese Garden, Lan Su Chinese Garden, The Grotto (“Catholic garden”), Powell Books (“book garden”). Gardens. Zen. Knowledge. Peace.

I’d say Portland is one of my top 5 favorite North American cities, joining New York City, Montreal, Austin, and San Francisco. I’d love to go back again for another visit. Now, if only the flights weren’t so long.

And who else has watched Portlandia? It’s a brilliant show that pokes (friendly) fun at some of the eccentric personalities that gravitate to Portland; feminists, hipsters, LGBT, environmentalists etc.

Check out the rest of my pictures here:

Ken has finally skydived!

Took a while to get this crossed off the bucket list but it finally happened.

Went to San Marcos with a coworker and his buddy. Arrived 2 pm, geared up around 5, jumped out around 5:15 with my tandem instructor Chris and my videographer Yoshi.

Felt tiny bit of nerves prior to arrival but then again, doing any new activity is always like that. To be honest, I didn’t feel anything but excitement when I was on the plane and ready to get thrown off.

It all went by real quick and was a blur. Here’s the video of my jump:


Memories of LA (Part 1)

I never wrote about my time in LA. I had started an entry one time but found it hard to put my thoughts and reflections all together so I deleted the whole thing. I’m going to try again, but it’s going to be simple.

I don’t regret leaving my job, selling my house, packing what I could into my car, and driving off for 22 hours and 1400 miles to LA. It was a great experience and brought me new sights/smells/sounds. Living there for 4 months wasn’t always easy but I did take quite a few memories from it. And the characters, oh boy, the characters I lived with…

I lived in a very very small room (toilet attached but most of us shared a community shower outside. One person at a time though) and paid $650/month. You could pay the same amount for a 1b1b apartment in Texas. It was a dorm style housing area run by a Korean man. It used to be a Christian rehab center for drug addicts. Even then, there were those who still sold/bought drugs there. Anyway, I guess it got shut down and the place turned into a housing complex on busy Venice Blvd. It was in Koreatown but I suppose it shared the same space are Mexicotown.

The first day I got there, I was being shown around by the landlord and some drunk hispanic-looking guy came in and started a huge argument with the landlord, right in front of me, apparently over some broken furniture from the night before. The landlord decided that he had to stop lest a potential renter like me would be scared away.

Over the next few months, on top of job-searching (EE grad, with 3 years experience in the power/energy industry, looking for work in hardware design without any network contacts, does not help), visiting the beaches, eating the foods (oh, the local joints were great), seeing the sights, waking up at 4 am to watch soccer matches at Irish pubs, etc…I got to meet my “dorm” mates.

There’s the most normal guy, a nurse who used to be a doctor in the Phillippines. Nice guy, divorced, played tennis with him a few times.

The drunk guy earlier. He was an Indonesian-born chef who had a number of other various odd jobs previously. He’s an aggressive crazy drunk but when sober, he’s actually a very nice humble guy who liked to share all the food he brings back from the kitchen he works at. Apparently his uncle is a gangster. I could tell he was a bit lonely because he always was looking for a friend to drink/bowl/watch TV with.

The 19 year old kid who came from a juvenile home. He had talent for drawing perverted anime, which he was proud of. His ambition was to be a flash animator but he didn’t have the resources for it. He didn’t have internet, his computer was really ancient, he had no job or no cash. His room smelled terribly funky because he had old food laying around, he was generally a pretty messy guy but he didn’t care.I’d hear reports of food being stolen in the community fridge downstairs and his friends would be accused of it. I tried to become a friend to him, installed animation software and stuff on his PC to play with (I was lucky to have an internet port). One day, my neighbor came knocking on my door and said there was blood on the door of the kid with a note saying he didn’t care anymore for life etc. We tried knocking on his door and asking him to open it but no response. We got worried and called his juvenile home to ask them to send someone. Luckily, he eventually opened the door and he was ok, no wounds or anything. Apparently a cry for attention. But he was a pretty good guy, just dealt a lousy hand growing up.

To be continued…