Break Away From Your Internet Rut

The Internet is a massive and wonderful tool. You can connect with old friends, get the most current information on almost any subject, and find endless sources of cheap entertainment. Yet, those who use the Internet for that last list item, I am sure, often quickly find themselves in a rut. Let’s face it, we are creatures of habit. So even when given unlimited options for entertain ourselves, we are still more likely to continue to peruse the same few sites over and over again. I am no different. And so, I have decided to share a few of my favorite Internet locales in the hopes that this broadens some people’s scope of entertainment and encourages them to suggest a few back.

1. Listverse – How could I start a list about fun websites and not include the one that lists everything else? Listverse.com is the massive compilation of hundreds of lists pertaining to everything from art and literature to health to the bizarre. It provides an excellent time waster as well as a way to learn a fun fact or two. Just beware of the subject/list you choose. Some can be fairly creepy of graphic while others have images that are definitely NSFW.

2. Foodgawker – Looking though a 2-inch thick recipe book with nothing but recipe titles and finely printed ingredients/instruction can get old. Welcome to foodgawker.com. Both inspiring and mouth-watering, this website allows you to choose your recipe based upon the image of its end result. You may also narrow your search to one of the multiple categories (my favorite is “desserts” of course) or use the handy search tool to look for a specific main ingredient. All results look absolutely delicious. The hardest part will be choose just one! (An incredibly similar site to this is tastespotting.com)

3. People of Walmart – If you are a frequent Walmart shopper, I apologize in advance if this you find this site offensive. But COME ON! It is absolutely amazing how many train wrecks walk the aisles of that store. Peopleofwalmart.com provides hilarious photos, contests, stories, and videos of the shoppers of said discount store. I would try to describe some of them but you are really better off just going to the site yourself. There is also a book and a merchandise store. A merchandise store for a website about a store! Really?! Really.

4. Tucker Max – Perhaps some will remember the film “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell” from a few years back. I personally never saw it. I couldn’t tear myself away from Tucker Max’s website long enough to buy myself a ticket. This site is definitely not for those easily offended or disgusted. Seriously. However, if you are looking for some hilarious and raunchy alcohol fueled (quite well written I might add) then give tuckermax.com a try. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you if you end up vomiting (whether from laughter or disgust) on your computer screen.

5. Postsecret – The only downside to this site is that you only see a new post once a week. Nevertheless, the vulnerability you recognize from reading the cards on postsecret.com is both chilling and amazing. Reading these secrets brings out so many feeling for me personally. I have been furious at the writer. I have been furious at the person that hurt them. I have smiled and laughed aloud. I have felt deep empathy and pity. I have thanked God I know some secrets don’t pertain to me and sometime look at others and wonder if they do. The most incredible feeling is when you see a card, a secret, and you KNOW you share the same one.

This is, by far, not all the places I stop on my way about the web, but certainly some of the most common and memorable. Hope you enjoy a site or tow from this list and please feel free to recommend your own.

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A Few Tips on How to Survive the Rain in Portland, OR

DITCH THE UMBRELLA – This may seem counterproductive, but let me assure you, most people who have grown up in the Willamette Valley do NOT use an umbrella. There may be the rare occasion if you are incredibly dressed up, with a hairdo that will not fit underneath a hood, but seriously, consider how much of a pain umbrellas are. They add to the amount of space you must occupy walking down the street. You are constantly looking out to make sure the wiry ends don’t poke someone in the eye. They get pulled, tugged, and tossed by the blowing wind. They drip mercilessly, leaving a “puddly” mess every time you find shelter indoors.  All in all, you are better off skipping the fight (and later, dead weight) of carting around this contraption. Instead…

INVEST IN A GOOD RAINCOAT – Being that Oregon is an incredibly outdoor oriented state, finding a store that can sell you a decent raincoat is not going to be an issue. Make sure to opt for one that is waterPROOF, not water RESISTANT. Trust me, when you are soaking wet at the start of the fourth quarter of a football game where it has been drizzling/raining all day, you will wish you had. Additionally, don’t worry about getting an incredibly heavy coat. You can always layer more shirts or a sweatshirt underneath, but rain in Oregon does not necessarily mean it is going to be cold.

DO NOT FEAR THE OUTDOORS – During the summer times, we cannot help but seek out water. From the beach to the lake to the pool, the summer months seems to be an endless quest to be outdoors, having fun, and getting completely soaked. Why should that suddenly change when the water is brought to you? I am not advocating swimming in a puddle (although jumping in them can be quite fun). Instead, don your new raincoat and go for a walk. Enjoy the fact that the sun isn’t beating down on you, and the air is permeated with the fresh scent of rain. (Don’t lie, everyone loves that smell.) Reality is, if everyone living in Portland stayed indoors until the rain stopped, the city would be a virtual ghost town all year except for mid-June through most of September. Last time I checked, that clearly wasn’t the case.

ENJOY THE RAIN FROM INSIDE – Even with the last tip, I must admit there are some days that are simply going to be I-don’t-want-to-go-outside-rainy. Whether it is because we are in the middle of a particularly vicious downpour, or the excess grayness has got you feeling a little blah, do not let remaining inside become a negative. Look at the rain as a great motivator to catch up on that book you started a month ago. Build a fire. Start a project. Bake some cookies. Or maybe you could simply use the weather as a guilt-free excuse to snuggle up on the couch and watch your favorite movies all day. To be clear, making a habit of all-day-movie-marathons probably isn’t a great idea, but the once-in-a-while-rainy-day-film-fest is just fine.

ABCs of P-Town (part 3: M-P)

Made in Oregon sign – It may not actually say “Made in Oregon” anymore, but this always was and will be how I remember the sign from growing up here. Perched atop the White Stag Building on the West end of the Burnside Bridge, this iconic landmark has lit up the Portland skyline since 1941. Of course, then it read “White Stag Sugar” to advertise a specific sugar brand to all the city. In the years following the original lettering, the sign has also said “White Stag” and “Made in Oregon” before finally becoming the “Portland, Oregon” you can see today. And while it seems people are happy with the current lettering, there was much dispute a few years ago when word first got out that the “Made in Oregon” was going to change. Most of this was in protest to the sign being changed to “University of Oregon,” a college based in Eugene but with multiple Portland-based programs and leasing the building the sign sits upon. (The lease extended to the rooftop, thus including the sign.) Instead, after much debate, the UO decided to simply not continue the lease (on the rooftop, that is, you can still find them in the White Stag Building) and the city took over. That is when the lettering was changed to the current “Portland, Oregon” with “Old Town” in the smaller lettering underneath.

At least, through all these changes, on thing remained the same. You will always see a red rudolph nose lit up on the white stag around the holiday.

Nicknames – So far throughout these posts, I am sure you have noticed me call Portland a few things other than its official name. The truth is, Portland goes by many different names. To begin with, if you ever get a txt referring to the city from a local, do not be surprised to find “Portland” has been shortened to “PDX” the code identifying its international airport. This is a common occurrence, especially with the exponentially growing use of social media and electronic communication. And going along with this trend, another shortening for Portland is (can you guess? it’s the title of this post for crying out loud) P-Town! Other nicknames may derive from some sort of city history or background. “Stumptown” came to be during the time that Portland was a hub for the logging industry, leaving stumps everywhere, and “Little Beirut” was bequeathed upon Portland by George Bush’s staff after several encounters with the city’s protestors. Additional names include Bridgetown (not hard to figure out why)

as well as RIP City (added recently, thanks to the Portland Trailblazers). Officially, Portland’s nickname is the Rose City, and you can find that correlation EVERYWHERE. There are the International Rose Test Gardens, the annual Rose Festival, the Rose Parade, the Rose Quarter… “Rose City” is even prominent in many a Timbers Army chant(don’t worry, I will get to what the TA is later). I guess when it come to Portland, once name just wasn’t enough.

One-way Streets – I once heard Portland referred to as a game of Battleship – streets going alphabetically one way, and numerically the other. (Really, this is only in the Alphabet District) Thus, you would think with a little common sense, it would make it very easy for someone to find their way around. Enter the one-way street. Portland is rife with one-way streets. This city thrives on them, collects them like old stamps, and uses them against unsuspecting visitors as a way to trap them here FOREVER. Okay, maybe that is a little much, but I have been living here almost my entire life and I STILL will find myself driving around in circles once in a while. Add in a few bike lanes here and there, a “bus only” lane than seems to magically appear in front of you, and a few sets of MAX tracks, no wonder you can always see people walking along the sidewalk as opposed to braving the metropolis maze. Truth be told, it isn’t really that bad, but just make sure you give yourself plenty of extra time if you plan to drive downtown for something. Because, after all the circling around, honking, and last-minute turns… you are still going to need to find a parking spot.

Portlandia – No, I am not talking about the IFC show about this wonderful city… although I do need to catch up on my episodes. Portland, Oregon is home to second largest copper statue in the United States (the first being the Statue of Liberty) Portlandia (and it’s not green either!). You can find this statue downtown at 1120 SW 5th Avenue. Just look up. There, staring down from the Michael Graves’ Portland Building, is a piece of art that many people don’t even know exists. Admittedly, when the trees are in full bloom and you are speed walking back to your office building, it’s easy to miss. Nevertheless, it is a fairly impressive sight (with informational plaque across the street) to check out if you find yourself meandering around downtown with a little extra time.

ABCs of P-Town (part 2: I-L)

Alright bloggers, here is another little snippet:

International – No, I am not referring to PDX, Portland’s International Airport. Nor am I speaking of the multiple ethnic restaurants and food carts around the area (although, if you have a chance, they are definitely worth a taste).  Instead, I am talking about Portland’s overall acceptance, abundance, and celebration of different national cultures. There are, of course, the expected celebrations such as Cinco de Mayo, St. Patrick’s Irish Festival,  and Oktoberfest. (The last link is probably the most prominent of Oregon’s Oktoberfests, at Mt. Angel, but if you are looking for one that is actually closer to downtown Portland, check out the events page for Oaks Amusement Park.) But then Portland takes it a step further. Other festivals throughout the year include the Festa Italiana, the Greek Festival, the India Festival,  the Chinese New Year, and, an event I have yet to see but am definitely going to mark on my calendar, the Portland Highland Scottish Games.

Japanese Gardens – A popular tourist site, the Japanese Garden is really something to see. Nestled next to the International Rose Gardens and walking distance to the Wildwood Trail, you could easily spend an entire day enjoying mother nature at her finest. Picturesque bridges, steps, streams and fountains mingle gracefully with the surrounding flora. In addition to its beautiful landscaping, the Japanese Garden also is host to multiple events and festivals throughout the year. There is even a free admission day for those on a tight budget. (Veteran’s Day)

Klickitat Street – For those who grew up reading the many children’s books written by Beverly Clearly, Klickitat Street should definitely be ringing a few bells. This is the street the famous little Ramona Quimby (and her older sister Beezus, of course) grew up on. Haha, I still love recalling the book where the two girls complain about cow tongue and are forced to make dinner for the family the following. Not knowing how to check first for ingredients, Ramona and Beezus end up making a simple dinner of rice, chicken, and cornbread include substitutions of banana yogurt, cream of wheat, and chili powder.  In their world, one could also hope to run into Otis, Ribsy, Henry, and many more Cleary characters. Well, actually, you might run into a few of those characters too. Near Klickitat, in Grant Park, there are a few bronze statues, erected in 1991, depict Henry Huggins, Ribsy, and Ramona Quimby.

Light Rail – While Portland (and let’s face it, the U.S. in general) is waaaaaay behind Europe when it comes to public transportation, it does do it’s part with the Trimet MAX or Light Rail. The Light Rail here consists of 4 different lines (Blue, Red, Yellow, and Green) that run from various metropolitan areas into downtown and back out again. This provides an easy way to get around, a relief from the task of finding a parking spot, and a daily dose of entertainment. (see my earlier post, Trimet). And no Light Rail is going to give you more of this than the eastern Blue Line, which runs into from Gresham (deep SE Portland) out to Hillsboro. Simply put,  SE Portland people are CRAZY.  (Again, read my earlier post, but know I see far-fetched variations of those interactions almost every day.) Even so, the Light Rail really is the trick to getting to and from the airport without the hassle or cost of a taxi, or to Jeld-Wen field to cheer on the Portland Timbers, or even to see an a capella group randomly break into song. You may know where you are going, but you can never be sure what you will see along the way.