Saturday, July 23, 2016

Vitamin R

Since I've moved out to the Pacific Northwest I need a new cornwater. Miller Lite hardly has a presence out here and I'm not falling down the Coors Light chasm. Dan said his local friends out here drink Rainier Beer, which they call "Vitamin R".

Well just a couple of days later I found this guy wearing a "Vitamin R" t shirt. I asked him if I could take a photo and he said yes and he said I was like the 5th person who asked him that since he walked into the store.

So I decided to try one at dinner. Usually I get an expensive drink and then end on a cheaper note... Rainier was like $3 for a 16 oz can. It's not too bad. Certainly better than Coors Light.

Monday, July 18, 2016

That Guy From Indiana

Let me say up front my opinion of Congressman then Governor Mike Pence has been lukewarm. As an Indiana resident here's my perspective.

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels was a hard act for Pence to follow. And Mitch wasn't exactly Mr. Excitement. Contrary to the coastal lust for political grandstanding here in the flyover state of Indiana residents seem to prefer low-key constitutional conservatives who roll up the sleeves and quietly get the people's work done. And that describes Governor Pence perfectly since few outside of Indiana know who he is and how well he has done for Indiana. His top accomplishment has been holding onto and building on what Daniels accomplished. If it ain't broke why fix it?

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Portland Life

My nephew recently came into town for a visit and wanted to get the "full Portland hipster experience". We weren't quite sure what he was looking for but figured we would find it on Mississippi Avenue, a street laden with new restaurants and bars. Here is a NY Times article on the scene there with this great quote:
North Mississippi Avenue in Portland delivers a hipster experience as reliably as the rain.
We walked up and down the blocks and sat outside and had a few beers then had dinner at The Rambler. You know that you are in Portland when you see a sign like this.

Another sign is drinking the local Montucky Beer. This is their equivalent of PBR - cheap and light. Bizarrely, they don't even call it beer, it is a "cold snack", which in a way is true. After doing 2 seconds of Internet research this beer came out of Montana but I see lots of folks here drinking it all the time.

Tattoos are everywhere. I was wondering about a "Portland Index" that would be calculated as follows:

Total cost of tattoos on your body / your net worth

I think for the average Portland person working in the service industry the index would be less than one - you can easily spend thousands on intricate, colored tattoos and not too many younger folks have a net worth (after including all debt and liabilities including student debt) that is positive.

Other signs of Portland:
- Strange man bun hair
- Smoking American Spirit cigarettes
- Generally every restaurant has excellent food (you'd simply be out of business almost immediately because so many other places are good)
- Dogs of every size everywhere
- People are mostly very healthy and plan active events. In Chicago 50% of the people I encountered would likely be categorized as "morbidly obese"

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Amtrak and Train Travel

Over many years I've commuted on trains for work - the light rail Metra in Chicago in the suburbs and the "L" tracks in the CTA in Chicago. However, I've never taken the Amtrak trains so I was excited to take the opportunity to travel between Portland and Seattle and avoid the horrendous traffic that I've heard plagues Seattle. Plus, you can have a drink along the way, which is frowned upon nowadays while driving (good for a Friday evening).

You can buy your train ticket online, but you don't get seats for coach class. When you get to the train station, there is a line that forms before the train departs and you physically stand in the line to get your ticket. At that point they assign you a seat on the train, and if you buy two tickets in the same online purchase, they will plan to seat you together. This is the ticket that they manually wrote out for us coming back from Seattle to Portland on Sunday.

Not very high tech, I'd say. But the experience on the train was fine. You get all kinds of folks on the train, from families with kids to people who look like they can't afford a plane. The Amtrak personnel were all very friendly and seemed to know what they were doing.

Since I've flown for years and years on business and rarely taken a train long distance, I kept thinking I was in an airplane, for instance when I was in the restroom and holding on to the handle in case of turbulence (the train does rock from side to side, especially when you are up top on a two floor passenger car). It also seemed odd not to have your seat belt on. I finally decided that the train was a 2-D airplane.

One thing that you realize immediately on the train is how big the USA is. The train from Seattle to Los Angeles is scheduled to go for over 33 hours (and probably takes longer, since delays are inevitable with all the stops). That would be a long, long time on the train.

Security is also very light on the train - they don't search you when you board the train and thus boarding is very quick. I assume that this is because there haven't been terror attacks in the USA yet on the train, so after one inevitably occurs, this will change. I don't really know how they can police all of these tiny stations in small towns across the country. We will cross that bridge when we come to it, I guess. For now, however, the lack of security and subsequent lines and limitations on what you can carry (you can carry booze / wine for example) is a decent plus for train travel.

I had a good time on the train and was glad that I took it rather than driving to Seattle. However, the stations in Portland and Seattle are unusually nice overall for the Amtrak system (in terms of remodeling as well as location near the city center) I believe and the traffic in Seattle is horrendous, making train travel and driving a relative toss-up in terms of travel time. I also think i would start to go stir crazy on the train after more than 4 hours and thus a longer or overnight trip isn't too appealing.

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Well Said

Hello from Seattle

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Northwoods Notes 2016

In rating the past 30+ years of fishing in Ontario I give the 2016 trip a 4 for fishing and a 2 for weather on a scale of 1-5. We experienced a daily east wind of 10-15+mph and it rained every other day. This limited our time on the water and comfortable locations to fish.

To keep this short I will forgo publishing photos of the usual beautiful scenery, wildlife and side attractions/points of interest. Except this one.

Yep, that's The Big Dick bait shop in Kelliher Minnesota and I could not resist sharing it. I am sure the small town council and local pastor were pleased when that Big Dick sign was first erected.

Steady east winds each day (10-15+ mph) and rain every other day limited our time on the water and spots we could fish comfortably but we managed to pillage the Canadian natural resources just fine. Many large fish were taken and most were released. We ate lotsa deep fried fish (burp).

Caught a large northern pike 38" and 14 lbs, a rare size for the latitude. Ontario rules allow no pike over 29" to be kept so it was released.

The bro managed to land this Walleye that went 7.5 lbs. These are quite rare as well. Ontario rules state that only one walleye over 19.5" be in possession per license. He kept this as one his oversize walleye and gave me one of the filets. In a side by side comparison I intend to debunk the myth that smaller walleye taste better.

Past Ontario big fish tales can be found here.

There is one more story coming about our 2016 Ontario trip. Too long for one post.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Shortage Over…For Now

For the past four years .22LR ammunition has been in huge demand and became very hard to find at retail. Conspiracies ranged from the government buying it all to a corrupt supply chain. "Where is it, what happened to it all, what gives"? customers asked.
Two years ago customers looking for the little .22 cartridge reminded me of drug users. How embarrassing it seemed to me for an individual to drop by the store every other day whining and pining for their .22 as well as listening to them relating to me their own Obama government conspiracy theories.

Quite honestly I was damned sick listening and opining with my own facts. Soon I gave up discussing it and instead suffered through the customer whining and complaining.

Well the humble .22LR cartridge is back. Surprisingly it now sits on most retail shelves and I will tell you why. First some background.

Here's what I saw.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Dinner on the deck

Recently we had a great dinner on a nice evening on the deck.

And the dessert course...

Monday, May 30, 2016

Portland Gin and Tonic

I was recently out for Happy Hour at a bar called Barlow which is an artisinal bar and I ordered a gin and tonic and this was their happy hour special - quite interesting compared to the boring tonic + gin + lime combo I've received the last 100,000 times I've gotten that drink. When I sent a picture to Dan he provided the classic reply "That's B*llshit".

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Keeping Portland Weird

Portland definitely has a lot of characters. One of the more annoying ones to me, at least, is this "musician" who plays an amplified didgeridoo near my apartment, accompanied by a drummer and he sings a bit. The low buzz of the didgeridoo conducts through the neighborhood as an annoyance and he goes for hours and hours, powered by tips and the occasional toke (in this photo he was passing the smoke to his drummer). I have to admit I first found him to be funny out on the Portland Saturday Market but that was only a few minutes before I moved on and it isn't the same as having him parked outside busking for an entire set.

Star Wars Pug Parade in Portland

A couple of weeks ago we went up to the Northwest part of the city in a semi-industrial area where a local brew pub was sponsoring a Star Wars themed pug parade. Like a lot of days in Portland, it rained some and then the sun came out and a good time was had by all.

This guy was my favorite - he was shy and in an AT-AT costume. I don't know who won but IMHO this was the best.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Drinking in Portland

People often ask me "What do I miss about Chicago" and other than my friends and family the answer is easy - "Binny's" - the giant liquor store that used to be across the street from my condominium. I could walk in there any time and select from an immense collection of beer, wine and liquor in every size and type at reasonable prices. It was like the "toy store" for me.

Oregon sadly has strange and outdated laws about liquor. You can buy beer and wine pretty much everywhere but hard liquor can only be bought at a state-run liquor store. It is extremely ironic that a state where pot is legal views hard liquor as something to be controlled in that manner but it is the current law, although there are campaigns to change it underway right now.

Thus when you walk over to the liquor store it is good to pick up a few bottles so that you don't run out. While other commenters talk about how expensive hard liquor is in Oregon, it didn't seem so bad to me, but perhaps that's because I am used to paying high sales and use taxes on liquor (which don't exist here) and I am buying more premium spirits, not Popov vodka in a plastic jug with the handle.

They have a distillery tour that I need to go on one of these days because they brew spirits locally and sell through the stores. That is high on my list of local tours. Below is a local gin that I like a lot.

There also is a huge brewery culture here in Portland and in Oregon in general. I am trying (mostly) to drink less beer but I like some of the locally brewed pilsners and I really like the Kolsch beers. Here is one with high "beer synergy" since the glass matches the beer. This is definitely something for tourists to visit, as well.

Oregon also has great wines. I am going to start buying wine directly from the wineries and go on a tour for that. Once I figure out how to ship it and learn a bit more this will be a great gift to ship to friends in the Midwest, as well.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Carl in Portland

Recently I became "Carl from Portland" with a move from living in downtown Chicago to the West Coast. It has taken me a while to get settled but I wanted to say hello to our tens of readers at LITGM.

Originally I started taking pictures of all the weird people I saw in Portland - guys wearing kilts or fishnets, girls dressed up like bumblebees with ukuleles, and all manner of tattoos, nose rings and piercings. But then I realized - hey - that's like taking a picture of a drunk, fat guy at a Bears game. Unless you can go beyond the obvious, don't do it at all. Or maybe that is grist for a future post.

First the highlights - Portland has an incredible location. Not only does the city offer everything you'd expect in a big city (restaurants, concerts, cool stores, ability to walk around, nightlife) - they have little to no crime (when compared to ChiRaq) - but you can go about an hour and a half and be on the Pacific Ocean, or about an hour and a half the other way and be hiking in real mountains. Here is a photo I took at Cannon Beach when I went there early in April for an unseasonably warm and beautiful day (I'm told). Below is a photo of Mount Hood from a recent hike we took last weekend.