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Hawthorne Bridge Walk and Brunch

18 Jul

My roommate and I were driving across one of Portland’s many bridges one day after our yuppie workout class, zooming past strolling pedestrians and spandex-clad bike commuters, discussing our plans for the day.

“You know,” one of us said. “I’ve lived in Portland for quite a while now, and I have never walked across a single bridge.”

“Weirdly,” said the other. “Neither have I.”

It’s not that either of us is ecologically irresponsible, choosing a car when our feet would do just fine. It’s just one of those things that, if you don’t live or work very close to the waterfront, you have very little reason to ever do.

Clearly, this needed to be rectified. You see, Portland is famous for its bridges. Neatly bisected by the Willamette River, to get from one side of the city to the other you have to cross one of ten bridges. Eleven if you count the one that’s just for trains. That’s a lot of bridges for a relatively small city – and is the reason why one of Portland’s aliases is Bridge City.

Our genius plan was to organize a group of ruffians interested in bridge-walking, and traverse one bridge per month until we’ve conquered every last one of ‘em – foul weather, bad traffic and hipster infestations be damned.

Our first conquest was the Hawthorne Bridge:

A rare sunny day in April on the Hawthorne Bridge.

You drive on this metal grate suspended over turgid grey waters. Crazy!

According to Wikipedia, the Hawthorne Bridge is the country’s oldest vertical-lift bridge. Who knew? Not I. The most interesting facet of this bridge was that the part the cars drive on is a metal grate, so that when you look down and through, you can see the water below. Quite the vertigo-induction.

Once we completed our perilous journey, and since it was Easter Sunday for we secular godless types, we naturally brunched at the only restaurant worth going to at the West base of the Hawthorne Bridge, Veritable Quandary. With a name like that, how could you NOT?

Is this salad a veritable quandary? We’ll never know.

Furthermore, Veritable Quandary bills itself as a restaurant that “offers a truly authentic Portland experience.” I don’t know what to make of that claim, but I will say that 1) the food was good, 2) the place was packed and 3) the service was poor – three identifiers of Portland restaurants if ever there were any.

The Stumptown was burnt but they made us a fresh pot without too much complaint, so everyone went home happy, full, and having conquered our first Portland bridge.

What about you, readers? What iconic or touristy thing have you never gotten around to doing in your home-base city? Or, if you live in Portland, what bridge should we do next?

Weekend Open Thread: Dieting edition

30 Sep

I love feminist kitteh. Feminist kitteh does not like to diet. Why? Well, feminist kitteh is a personal friend of mine, and she told me why: It’s because when you are dieting, there is no room for apple pie punch, and you can’t have cookies for breakfast. That, my friends, is unacceptable.

Friday means semi-topical open threads, so let’s talk about food, shall we? Talk amongst yourselves – I’ll give you some topics:

  • Do you remember the first time you “went on a diet”? How old were you? What inspired it?
  • What’s your relationship with food like? Has it changed as you’ve grown up/gotten older?
  • What do you do when you’re tempted to cave in to the pressure to be thin/muscley/whatever-it-is-society/fashion magazines-tell-you-you’re-supposed-to-be-for-your-gender?
  • How do you draw the line between keeping yourself healthy (avoiding bad-for-you-foods and remembering to get exercise now and again) and straight-up image obsession?
  • If you have children, how do you/did you go about teaching them to have a healthy relationship with food? If you don’t, how would you? Or what was your childhood relationship with food like? What did you learn from your parents/family/friends/boob tube?

Seven awesome things about being a grown-up

1 Aug

1. If you love ice cream, and want to eat it every day, you can. What’s more, if you get an ice cream maker, you can make your own flavors and call yourself a foodie. Your friends and family members will not stage a gluttony intervention, and instead admire your mad ice-cream making skills.

Meet my new ice cream
maker. Her name is Bertha.
She is the maker of all things
delicious.

2. Want to replace all of Tuesday’s meals with chocolate chip cookies? GO AHEAD.

3. Want to have Christmas in July? Wear your Halloween costume in April? Spend five hours in the tub? Put on a pink wig to go grocery shopping? DO IT!

4. Cold, hard cash. With which you can do whatever you want. Like, for example, buying enough ice cream and chocolate-chip cookie supplies to last throughout the apocalypse. Sure, you may have to skip paying the heating bill one month, but with all that ice cream you may have developed a cozy layer of body fat to insulate you from the cold come winter!

5. Want to stop at that cardboard box labelled “free” and pick through it until you find the PERFECT chipped coffee mug/too-small-but-oh-so-ironic-tee-shirt/audio cassette? Want to stop your car at the World’s Largest Pistachio roadside attraction? These things too, you can do!

6. Remember when you were a kid and had to ask permission before you could go anywhere? Didn’t that suck? Wasn’t it even more annoying when you had to take your brother with you everywhere? Well now you can go to a dance club all by your lonesome! And guess what else? You can stay out until 4 a.m. if you want. And then have PIE! Or a pancake.

7. “This is MY house. And in MY house, I don’t have to wear pants! Wheeeeeeeeeeeee!!!”

What are your favorite things about  being a grown-up? Although, come to think of it, most of the stuff on this list isn’t too grown up. Which is kind of the point of being a grown-up, isn’t it? You can do kids stuff with wreckless abandon. It is most definitely awesome.

Klondike bar ads are insulting, lazy

19 Jul

Have you guys seen this crap? Apparently I’ve been hiding under a rock, or at least eschewing prime-time network television, because Klondike’s effort to re-brand was going mostly under my radar until recently. Peep this horribleness:

Oh ha! I get it! Women are boring! Especially if you’re married to them! It’s like torture to listen to them! BAAHAHAHAHA! Hilarious. /sputter Oh yeah, and did we mention gay people are just … icky?

It’s a generally-accepted fact that the very last thing a straight man would ever want to be caught doing is something gay-seeming! Although it might be worse to actually care about the person you committed to spend your life with – hard to tell from these commercials.

Sarcasm aside, it is possible to be funny and sell ice cream without implying that women are insufferable bores and being gay is wrong (and straight men can never show affection). This is lazy work, plain and simple. The Via Agency, the ad agency that Klondike hired to put together their re-branding campaign, should be ashamed.

I complained, I hope you do too. Tell Klondike you won’t be buying their products because of these spots. If you’re an advertising nerd like me and you’re opposed to the ads on multiple levels (not only are they sexist and homophobic, they’re unimaginatively so), you can also scold The Via Agency. Humor ain’t hard, people. Wise up or lose business.

Do you think these ads are worse than normal, or just more blatant? And who decided that all mint flavors must forever come in fluorescent green anyway? Technicolor is for TVs, not food. Sheesh.

Men don’t let men eat vegetables

11 May

What could be manlier than an irrational hatred of dark leafies? A steady diet of beer and prepackaged fatty foods, that’s what! Nothing says “macho” like high cholesterol, diabetes and heart disease. Watch and cringe:

Just shows to go ya, not even menfolk are immune to the detrimental effects of the patriarchy. I’m sure either one of my vegetarian/vegan brothers could tell you a story or two (or six) of having their manly street cred called into question due to their love of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Birthday Blowout: Roundup

19 Oct

If you’ve been reading for a while, you know that I insist my friends (really, anyone even remotely proximal) make a big deal out of my birthday. True to form, this year I kept my coworkers up to date on exactly how many days were left before the Big Day. They performed admirably, sneaking in sometime in the night to decorate my messy, messy cube with balloons…

…and a GIANT BIRTHDAY COOKIE!

No individual in particular would own up to having done the decoration deed, but I have my suspects who will be repaid in kind with embarrassingly loud and off-key birthday singing next month. To complete my breakfast of champions, Coworker A brought me my favorite type of deep-fried sugary treat, the Almighty Apple Fritter:

My Special Lady Friend sent me some Very Pretty Flowers:

… and my other Special Lady Friend (no no no, not like that) sent me some other Very Pretty Flowers:

You see that red thing on the table there? That’s chocolate. A whole bar of it. Dark. Moonstruck. INSANELY GOOD. And all mine. Chomp chomp chomp.

I also received a tree from my Pops:

 …which has been planted securely in the yard, and I hope someday will grow tall enough to provide some shelter from all the passing thugs and/or hooligans.

I left work early and arrived home to find a couple of SUPER AWESOME packages* waiting for me from Deena, who sent me a bespectacled dog card and two mix CDs** that could not have been more perfect (no, really: I have been listening to them almost as obsessively as I’ve been watching Battlestar Galactica lately):

…and Dani, who sent the ultimate care package of glittery goodness and stickery swellness:

…which I immediately put to work decorating my Lebanese-Mexican Coca-Cola full of rum:

By this time, my adorable mom had arrived after making a Lengthy and Arduous Journey Full of Dangerous Thugs to brig me a delicious homemade birthday cake, complete with sprinkles and pretty pretty candles:

Om nom nom! We scarfed it with some Extra Special Ice Cream, which apparently is difficult to get in Some Parts of This Here State:


And then, to cap off the night, I did a Very Daring Thing. I went from this:

To this:

That’s right boys and girls! I am now a hairless little freak! Or something of the sort. It’s pretty exciting. Be sure to tell me what you think of the change in the comments, lest I think you hate it with a fiery passion that knows no word-y outlet.

One would think that I would be all sugared out, right? Wrong. My capacity for sugar intake is indeed large. The next day, my mom and I undertook The Great Donut Tasting of oh-ten. We went to Heavenly:

which was populated by adorable friendly workers and very wrinkled old men drinking black coffee, and Voodoo:

…which was running refreshingly low on hipsters. We put the donuts to the test:

and determined that while the maple bars at VooDoo are indeed superior, the Cock and Balls are not cream filled, which is disappointing, not to mention false advertising:

The apple fritter taste test (yes, I had MORE apple fritters. They’re delicious, OK?) was categorically won by Heavenly. Much to our chagrin, we did not track down a single bear claw.

The week was rounded out nicely with some actual food from the Farm Cafe with one of my favorite journalism defectors and her be-Beibered ladyfriend, who were kind enough to treat me to dinner, witticisms, AND a dessert with a candle. So fiendishly clever, those two.

All in all,  pretty awesome birthday, with only minimal reminding and whining from me. OK, not so minimal, but hey. If you don’t ask for what you want, how will you get it? Am I right? Huh? HUH? AM I? Of course I am.

*Proof positive that giving strangers your mailing address over the internet is always a good idea. ALWAYS! No seriously, though, you guys rock. Of course you already knew that, right? ^_^
**You, too, can get down with your bad self by checking out the track lists.

Satter’s Hierarchy of Food Needs

4 Sep

Reposted from the wonderful Sociological Images with permission from Lisa Wade

Responding to critics who argue that poor people do not eat healthy food because they’re ignorant or prefer unhealthy food, Ellyn Satter wrote a hierarchy of food needs. Based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, it illustrates Satter’s ideas as to the elements of food that matter first, second, and so on… starting at the bottom.

The graphic suggests that getting enough food to eat is the most important thing to people. Having food be acceptable (e.g., not rotten, something you are not allergic to) comes second. Once those two things are in place, people hope for reliable access to food and only then do they begin to worry about taste. If people have enough, acceptable, reliable, good-tasting food, then they seek out novel food experiences and begin to make choices as to what to eat for instrumental purposes (e.g., number of calories, nutritional balance).

As Michelle at The Fat Nutritionist writes, sometimes when a person chooses to eat nutritionally deficient or fattening foods, it is not because they are “stupid, ignorant, lazy, or just a bad, bad person who loves bad, bad food.“ Sometimes, it’s “because other needs come first.”

This, this is glorious. Why? Because FINALLY, someone has come up with a succinct counter-argument to foodies who think they simply ‘have better taste’ than hoi polloi. I would love to see a similar argument applied to travel snobs and smug parents.

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