June 1998 Archives


Our connection has been fixed, so I'm back, with today and yesterday's journal entries to post.

Today has been a glorious day. I'm off to the Olympics to finish the week in a tent and cabin, with stinky cigars hanging from my teeth and bachelors all around.

Then on Saturday, we celebrate Independence Day by watching a good friend tie the knot.

I wandered down to the photo shop to pick up some photographs. In the set was one picture of a "Benson Bubbler," a traditional Portland fountain, bubbling with super-delicious Bull Run water.

Then I was off to the cigar shop to pick up a few cigars for the festivities.

And on the way home, Roy was playing guitar in the park.

I am amazed again and again by this rough, bearded veteran and his guitar. Today, I met him, and maybe someday in the future I'll ask if he would play a few tunes with me.

Another man in the park looked at me and nodded his head in Roy's direction. "He's really good, isn't he?" he asked me with a serious look. I smiled at him and nodded once.

An average weekend

My connection to the net is broken this morning.

But what can you expect from a struggling, bureaucratic urban university with political in-fighting that would make Kenneth Starr blush?

Last Saturday, I threw on my new inline skates and bladed down to Waterfront Park, which runs the length of the West side of the Willamette River throughout downtown Portland. It is a great park to blade in, because there is a wide sidewalk just up against the rail that looks over into the river.

So I stopped by Saturday Market--which is worth the time if you've got it and you're in Portland--for a bite to eat. That done, I skated to the other side of the park, threw down a blanket, and continued to read The Brothers Karamazov.

Yesterday was very quiet, and I spend most of the day alone in a very quiet place.

Today is the first of the two days I am working this week. We get Friday off, but I have a friend who is getting married on Saturday in Seattle, so I'm headed up to the Emerald City (hah! not so green when compared with Portland) to celebrate the wedding.

I leave on Wednesday morning for the Olympic National Forest, where we will spend the rest of the week in tents or a cabin.

Saturday, Ryan and Heather tie the knot, and Sunday, I ride the train home.

The one thing especially nice about weddings is the good number of old friends involved. I know I'll see my share of them, and I'm excited about it.

Guitars, cigars, tents, tuxedos, and old friends.


On a wooden bench, a man is sitting with a guitar. His head is laid up against the curve of the body. The body rests on his knees.

His eyes are closed, and his white beard scratches the guitar's body slightly.

He is playing with confidence.

His song is French, and his voice caresses the lisping words.

He is a veteran of one of our wars. (His sign tells no more than this.)

He is singing beyond us, though we are standing near him, watching the motion of his fingers, the tilt of his head, his long dirty hair, his closed eyes.

And he is not paying attention to us at all, though I feel he would know if we dropped a coin or two into his hat.

Instead, I close my eyes with him. And when I am home, I will cradle my guitar with my body, I will lay my head up against its curve, and I will learn a song in French.

Get out!

I've been working on a new short story slowly for several weeks now. The ideas are there, but I haven't had time to sit down and work hard for any extensive amount of time.

Yesterday, my brother and I bought pairs of inline skates at a going out of business sale. They were so cheap!

Then we skated uphill to the Rose Festival Art Festival (wow!), where we couldn't wear skates (due to the glassblowers, I think). So I wandered from booth to booth, from glass to watercolors to photographs, in my bare feet.

But since it was 85 degrees yesterday, I was more than comfortable.

Then, to lunch with my father and two siblings to celebrate Dad on his special day.

And lastly, I skated home, uphill the entire way.

You use different muscles when you rollerblade than when you walk, run, or ride a bike. (Ouch.)

Leslie has a new site of sorts, with wicked twisty turns for the carnival ride lovers out there.

And it is certainly nice to see that Lance is back in the mix.

But for the most part, it has been quiet out there. My theory is that it is directly related to the heat. Sunlight makes you active, but certainly does not encourage long hours in front of a computer.

But I'm all for it. Get out, people!

Speaking of which, if any of you come to Portland sooner or later (that's Oregon), I'd be happy to sit down with you over a cup of coffee (or a soft serve cone) to talk about your recreational options.

This is a wonderous and magical place. It's a miracle I get anything written here at all...

Defective immediately

There's a Coke machine outside of my office with a note on it that asks people to wait a minute or so before opening their bottles, as soda has been spilling out all over the carpet directly in front of the machine.

On the note, someone scrawled "Machine Defect?" in a loopy kind of way.

I guess in some ways it could be a machine defect, like Coke made a mistake when they built the machine, and the bottles should travel a gentler journey before plopping out of the machine. But I've never in my life seen a machine built to cushion the bottle or can from being shaken up on the way.

It has me wondering whether the person who wrote those two words has seen such a machine. And if they have, where was it, and what was it like?

I mean, why do I have to wait fifteen very long seconds before opening my bottle when I could just yank the top off immediately and begin drinking with no fear of carbonation-induced overflow?

If there really is a defect in our Coke machine, why hasn't Coke been out to fix it?

I went to Coke's website to see if there was an answer there, but nothing happened.

Actually, I ended up reading all kinds of junk about a Coke Card, which obviously wasn't doing anything for me. I even began thinking of scrawling "browser defect?" across my screen, but then I remembered that I'm the only one who uses my screen.

Finally, somehow, I found the normal Coke page, which is the one I've linked to. But there was no answer there, either, so don't bother going.

In the end, I guess I'm going to have to suffer with whoever our mystery writer was.

Unless YOU know about the secret, gentle Coke machine.

Guitars, roommates, and the President.

So it was a good weekend.

Friday night, I celebrated the summer travels of a good friend from the PSU Outdoor program, who I just recently climbed Mount Hood with. We gathered in a large group to play guitars and other various instruments, and to laugh and drink sangria.

Saturday morning I went to the Pearl Bakery for a apricot pastry and a coffee.

Saturday afternoon, I watched my roommate walk through his graduation ceremony. A masters in Physics. Whew.

It was sad in a way, because Lars' work toward this degree is what brought him to Portland, what gave us the opportunity to live together in the same apartment, what eventually brought his girlfriend Anne to live with us, and in essence, what holds him here in Portland.

Chances are, he'll be on his way back to Germany soon, and Anne with him.

But good friends can live all over the world. And in the end, as much as Lars and Anne love Portland, I believe they need to go home.

The speaker at his commencement was illustrious: William Clinton.

President William Clinton.

And after his speech, I have this to say: he is good at what he does. Feelings welled up, certainly.

Regardless of the quality, or lack thereof, of presidents past, I have to give this to Clinton: he moved me like none of them could. Not Reagan, and certainly not Bush.

I'm not suggesting that I believe Clinton is a great president (though I do believe he is a good president, and I don't want to fight about it now).

I'm just saying that I believed what he had to say, and more, that I believed it was honestly important to him. I really felt like he was concerned about the future of the United States of America. This was not expressed in any extraordinarily patriotic way except that he glowed with a pride in what we could be.

And there was a sense all along that we all need to take part in the future of our land.

And frankly, I'm a little frustrated that I cannot express that I felt good about the speech, and good about my president, without feeling a bit concerned about what the rest of you think.

I'm not talking about a deep concern. I'm not driven to avoid saying things I believe in or to bend my beliefs so others will like me.

This concern about what you all think is a little more subtle than that. It's a cultural drive to express tremendous apathy about government, to distrust our public leaders, to believe there is nothing good left for us.

In some ways, I buy that. Certainly, our public leaders have given us reason to distrust them. Without question, American culture and American life has changed and continues to change from the time our parents were our age.

But the apathy sucks. Period.

And I'm not giving in to it, if I can help it. I feel driven to work hard at making my country a place where I can live at peace with my neighbors, where I can feel proud of my freedom, where I can work hard at those things without the government rolling tanks into Pioneer Courthouse Square and opening fire.

And my hope is this: that we will all do our small part, slowly and with intention, and that once in a while, we will be proud--with every good reason--of our work.

A job well done.


I just finished programming a new database (I'm not a programmer, but I am a programmer... you'll understand if you keep reading).

I began learning Visual Basic last week, and I used what I learned to completely automize a complex relational database I also created last week.

In essence, I saved someone somewhere a whole bunch of money, and I'll be stuck if it doesn't feel really good to have finished a job with style.

(Begin totally blatant job-hunting message: Considering giving me a job? Just so you know, I also designed this entire site within the last four months, with no HTML or JavaScript experience, and no formal training. Survey says: I'm a quick study. But you'll have to offer me something really nice, because I like where I work now. End message.)

Anyway, I'm totally tired, I'm ready for sleep, and I'm going to have a long long weekend.

President Clinton is speaking at my roommate's commencement tomorrow, which I'll be happily attending. There has been a lot of complaining in these parts from students who didn't get enough tickets for their large families. But I have nothing to complain about.

I'm actually really excited to watch the Secret Service do their thing.

Maybe I'll even be able to see them pull out a gadget or two. Yipee!

Again, there have been a number of people who have been very kind about my recent loss of a good friend, and I am grateful for you all.

Have a stellar weekend!

I'm back.

Okay, so I've been negligent. But there are good reasons.

I hope the fifteen or so people who regularly read my page (and I appreciate you all very very much!) are okay.

It has been a hard week after the death of a good friend.

Sunday, I climbed to the top of Mt. Hood, which is the highest point in Oregon. It was beautiful and difficult. More difficult than I'm really at liberty to write about.

For the past week at work, besides dealing with absolute loss, I have been trying to program a new Access database for my company.

I am most certainly not a programmer. But I learn blindingly fast, and I'm already writing bits and scraps of Visual Basic to help streamline the database.

I have a good friend who is getting married on the 4th of July, which is wonderful, if you ask me.

Weddings all around. Anyone for a wedding?

Good friends like this one who is preparing for his wedding with great pleasure are so special to me. I have been thinking a lot about the dearness of friends this week.

I have also received a number of very encouraging and meaningful emails recently. Thank you all. (You know who you are.)

And so I am back. Roughly a week of rest to deal with the sharp point of the pain, and now that it is dulling, I feel like I can take a breath again, stretch my body back out from the curl it has been, and reach outward.

I know the pain won't stop. But I'm getting used to it.


I'm sitting here in front of my computer and I have no idea what to say.

But it is important to me to keep this page updated.

So here is your glimpse into my life for today:

I lost a friend to the power of a mountain.

And I don't know what to say.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from June 1998 listed from newest to oldest.

May 1998 is the previous archive.

July 1998 is the next archive.

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