Portland Points-of-View

I thought Denver had the best motto that accentuates its claim as weed capital – “The mile HIGH city”. But Portland beats this. Because just take away the R from the name and it becomes Potland! LOL.

Out of curiosity, I went into Bagdad movie theatre in the Hawthorne district and surprised with the interior that looks like you have entered the Sultan’s chamber. The movie comes with a convenient table and the screen was huge and modern as I watched “The Jungle Book”. I paid only $7.50 which is way below the $12 I pay in commercial theatre chains. This theatre could easily be attraction but I’m wondering why no ads for this.

Portland has a bit of an aversion for the commercial chains as there are only a few of them and more of the small business types. I try to patronize these small shops as they are eclectic, bold and have little chance with the general populace. Rimsky-Korsacoffee?

One other downside for Portland is that it has a lot of activists. I cannot imagine three people trying to get signatures for different kinds of causes in one street corner. Thank goodness I’m not an Oregon voter.

I bought a complete set of hiking gear from Next Adventure. They have the best selection of affordable camping gear. I bought a 50 liter backpack, a sleeping bag, a solo tent, a reflector sleeping pad, a camping pot, freeze dried foods and water purifying tablets.

Everyone is talking about the weather. About the record breaking 30 degree weather in this time of the year. I’m just enjoying it. It’s glorious.

Epic fail in the costume department yet again. Next time I need to really look the part. Grow a moustache, goatee, wear a T-shirt wrist bands, necklaces and most of all, get rid of my corporate bulges, they are so revealing. LOL.

Portland’s Pitch

I made last minute decision and hopped on a train to Portland instead of driving to Denver where they have blizzard like conditions, with tornadoes. The train came half an hour in advance instead of the usual two hour delay. I recall that the delays in the past were caused by trains carrying crude is crowding out the passenger train. So I suppose this is the sign of the times. Still, the Amtrak is still a very good deal at about half the price of Greyhound bus. I’ve read that the government is subsidizing the train.

So, here is Portland’s very convincing pitch:

  1. Powell Books – The grand-daddy of all bookstores. The size of ten bookstores into one. Therefore, the depth of their offerings is ten times that of an average bookstore. The layout reminds me of the British Museum. About a dozen big rooms, color coded as Red room, Gold room etc. After seeing this, I thought I would like to live as long as I can and consume these books and won’t go for the terminal assistance. And that is a very compelling reason.
  2. The Japanese Garden, the Rose Garden, the World Forestry Center and Arborateum. – why grow and keep a garden when one can just go to these beautiful, relaxing and inspiring gardens.
  3. Best strip clubs – nuff said

And of course Portland is a liberal center and comes with its downside of lots of homeless, crazy and freeloading people. Liberal initiatives are all over the place which is good because it also inspires creativity which makes Portland a foodies paradise and an artist’s haven. And most stuff have a reasonable price tag and much affordable compared to San Francisco, Seattle or Denver.

Moab to Las Vegas

“Each to his own gifts” – Spock, Star Trek: Wrath of Khan

“Smart people want fewer friends…because they have more important things to do”. – according to a study as overheard from the radio.

There are long drives in this trip but no regrets as I have covered a lot of area. But next time hopefully this won’t be this rush.

Moab is very energetic town from the roar of the motorbikes and off-road vehicles. This town looks like a setting for a Mad Max type of adventure. I looked for a campsite and was amazed at the picturesque rock scenery tucked away in the back roads. Went to the farthest campsite and was lucky to get one of two spots left. Will be coming back but I should remember to book in advance.

I had the windiest drive from Moab to the Grand Canyon. I have to go to a crawl in order not to get blown off the road. Was not impressed with Monuments Valley as I am not really a fan of Western-movie type setting anyways.

The Grand Canyon was about 3 or 5 times bigger than I expected. Lots of tourists and the parking lots are overflowing. A young guy was scrutinizing my car plate and shouts Alberta! like my car was a rare find. I liked the diversity of the landscape surrounding the canyon – tall pines, short pines, shrubs, desert. Verdict: Not likely to return.

Trip to Salt Lake City

“I’m not a natural politician” – Hillary Clinton

So I finally arrived at Salt Lake City, the last metropolis in the Western half of the US that I haven’t visited. The last piece of the western half of the puzzle. Before reaching SLC I was able to visit two of the top ski towns in North America – Jackson, Wyoming #3 and Park City, Utah, #6. Both were a study of contrasts. Jackson has the old nostalgic frontier town feel while Park City is very new and modern.

They call Jackson WY as Jackson Hole because of the impression of going into a hole when approaching the town. In short, the road going to Jackson is very steep and scary. Still I like Jackson very much because it is hip and playful and has attracted the young in-crowd. It has a town square with rowdy bars right in the middle of town.

Park City on the other hand has very new condo and commercial structures. There is one ski hill that flows directly into the middle of the Main Street and two others inside city limits. It is very hip and trendy. The downside is that it is susceptible to global warming. You can see that all other mountains around PC has no snow. It could end up looking like Palm Springs in the future.

Salt Lake City is now my new favorite. It has perhaps the most attractive populace in the US so far. The downtown area and the malls are very pretty. It looks like this city was built at a very good pace and it has not peaked yet. The roads are wide, it is located beside the mountains and you could see towering mountains as backdrop.

The Best Four…continued

2014

February – Pinas Trip. Karaoke with RK2. Fairways and Blue Water. Meets Pacheco and Joey.

March – Kings of Leon concert with Jason and Heather.

April – Buys Condo!

May – Meet Evan. Road trip to Saskatchewan and golfing with Evan and Ray.

June – Trip to Sylvan Lake with Evan and Ray. Canada Day fireworks with Evan and Ray and weird French girl.

July – Best Stampede. 50 Cent, Snoop Dog and Iggy Azalea concerts with Evan and Ray. Hot truck episode.

August – Banff capstone for Masters

September – Last course for Masters at Edmonton, graduates. One of the hottest encounters.

September to October – Golf extravaganza with Ray, at least 2 per week at different golf courses.

November – took train to Portland and Eugene. Hot pierced encounter in Eugene. Golfing.

December – 2nd Winter Road Trip – Boise, Reno, Tahoe, Redding, Eugene. Hottest encounter in Eugene. Called back to Calgary for Dinner buffet with Evan.

2015

March – Sta. Monica, Indian Wells Masters and Pot of Gold Music festival.

April – Comic con with Ray

May – Imagine Dragon concert with Ray and two girls. Chicago, Charlottesville and Indy 500.

June – Chambers Bay US Open in Seattle, Hot encounter in Portland, What The festival in Oregon.

July – Hot Stampede encounter.

August – took train to Minneapolis, Summer Set music festival, PGA Championship and Jason Day winning, Hot episode in Green Bay.

September – Barcelona, Clubbing in Ibiza, Milan dinner with RK2

October – Banff trip, Thanksgiving dinner, golf and clubbing with Ray

November – Pinas Trip

December – Third winter trip. Decadence in Denver.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best Four Years – 2012 to 2015

Just looking at how bleak 2016 is unfolding and how I might have reached my peak, financially, physically and emotionally, I decided to look back and acknowledge what I can say as the best four years of my life. I used to rate all years in a scale of 1 to 10. I rated the year 2011 as 9.5. Then 2012 came and it broke the scale. The stale summary:

2012

January – Celebrated New Year with Jason in Vegas. B.O.B concert at LAX. UFC.

February – Got introduced to Poker. Wins two tournaments. Panorama skiing with Jason and Heather.

March – Launched Hockey pool at work which was well received.

May – One week road trip in British Columbia with Jason. Salmon fishing in Campbell River, one of the most beautiful places on earth. Bon Iver concert at the park

July – Golf tournament, two extraordinary shots in group with Barrett. Carly Rae Jepsen and Dragonette at Stampede.

August – London Olympics!

September – Begins Masters at University of Alberta. Celebrates birthday at Speargrass with Jason and Heather at camping and Vern and Barrett at golf.

October – Back again in London for company meeting. Had an awesome time with Louis, bar hopping, museum trips and Billy Elliot at West End

December – Off to Houston for work meeting. Edmund went and had awesome time at the Blues Bar and the Comedy Club. Ate alligator meat and the cocktail “The Swamp Thing”

2013

February – Superbowl and Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Accidentally saw free concert with Frankie Valli and Soul Asylum. Awesome time with Louis watching all the free concerts, Lady Marmalade at Bourbon street, blues acts, Cajun food – Gumbo, Catfish, Jambalaya.

March – CFO conference in Norway. Took the train to Stockholm.

April – Went to San Diego and took a road trip to Palm Springs. Watched Alex Claire’s concert at House of Blues.

May – Went on work trip to Bakersfield, CA. Valet for my car. Road trip to Kern county. Met Ray.

June – Great time at Golf tournament at Boulder Creek.

July – Work meeting in Houston.

October – Halloween party, dressed as “The Joker”, Ray dressed as “Pirate”. Wins prime Hockey tickets and watch it with Ray. Gets hard hat with lights on top.

December – First Winter road trip. Gets unexpected surprising hot episode at Boise.

 

 

 

 

2015 Film Review – The Jaycademy Awards

2015 had a good number of exceptional films. Here are my group of ten. Disclaimer: I did not watch Spotlight and Room as I am not e interested about the subject of the film and didn’t have time to accidentally watch these films.

  1. The Hateful Eight – Outstanding screenplay, musical score, cinematography and acting ensemble.
  2. The Revenant – Dominated by best acting of Leonardo Di Caprio and best cinematography
  3. The Big Short- Original. Engaging. Great acting ensemble. Relevant.
  4. Kingsmen: The Secret Service
  5. Brooklyn
  6. Mad Max: Fury Road
  7. Sicario
  8. Bridge of Spies
  9. Carol
  10. Amy (Documentary)

2015 Music Review – the Jammy Awards

“I can’t feel my face when I see you again” – Mash-up of two top pop songs in 2015 that sums up my sentiment for pop music in 2015. The year is a sub-par continuation of 2014 where the Divas that shone in 2014 released poorer songs, notably, Taylor Swift, Iggy Azalea, Ariana Grande, Megan Trainor and Sam Smith. I will also change the way I list my top songs for the year and instead of ranking them I will just group them as a soundtrack for the year. And I will add 3 of the the most acceptable top pop tunes in order for me to easily recognize what year is this group of songs. So here is my soundtrack for 2015.

SIDE A

  1. Shut Up and Dance (Walk The Moon) – the song is synonymous to fun and had a fun video as well. Lead singer looks like Jason S.
  2. Uptown Funk (Mark Ronson, Bruno Mars) – Funky song sung by Filipino pop superstar.
  3. I’m an Albatraoz (Aronchupa) – Hot Swedish siblings
  4. My Type (Saint Motel) – celebratory song of my pickiness. Hot video. The song that makes me recall What The festival.
  5. Intoxicated (Martin Solveig) – Funky cool song and video. The most listened to at the treadmill. Song that makes me recall Ibiza.
  6. Riptide (Vance Joy) – Laid back cool quirky song with an equally quirky video
  7. Where Are You Now (Jack U with Justin Bieber) – Lively dance song
  8. How Deep is Your Love (Calvin Harris) – The song I’d likely want to listen if I’m in a boat or on the beach.

SIDE B

  1. Bungalow (Scott Helman) – This song just connects with me.
  2. Hold Back The River (James Bay) – Sounds like one of the classics. Nice hair.
  3. Blank Space (Taylor Swift) – “Starbucks lovers” is the best two words in a song since Lady Gaga’s “Disco stick”. Sadly, it only sounded like SL.
  4. Thinking Out Loud (Ed Sheeran) – A really good song but almost got wiped again by a cringeworthy video.
  5. Renegades (X-Ambassadors) – Great lyrics but wound up in the Jeep Renegade commercials and would not have made it in this list.
  6. Life of The Party (Shawn Mendes) – Meaningful. Best lyrics of the year.
  7. Worlds on Fire (Zerbin) – “Dance in the fount of Parisian merlot with our heads in the cloud, bodies below in desire. The whole world’s on fire”
  8. Budapest (George Ezra) – Quirky song that sounded like a 50’s tune sung by a 60 something.

Denver Decadence

“The pursuit of money destroys everything that is essential” – The Big Short

The city of Denver has been a bit of a puzzle for me because it is the biggest city in half the area of continental USA and it is right smack in the middle. That said, it was a very boring drive from Calgary to Denver and I will have to pass through two big states of Montana and Wyoming. I’m not planning on driving to Denver again. There is no bigger city directly north of Denver. In general, I liked Denver because it has big potential and I just wasn’t well knowledgable of the city yet. Experiencing Denver made me think of how unique each big city evolves. They each exhibit a unique character.

Positives for Denver:

  1. Western country laid back vibe with lots of artsy districts and the city’s image is dominated by hipsters. Even the city promotion posters which is supposed to feature families or women have hipsters front and center.
  2. Wide roads and very trendy Downtown.
  3. The mountain vistas are gorgeous although I think it is a notch lower than Calgary’s. Red Rocks ampitheatre and the city is very close to natural playgrounds.
  4. Pot is legal

Negatives:

  1. Lots of homeless people
  2. Cold weather despite being in a lower latitude

Other Stuff:

Decadence was held at the Colorado Convention Center and I thought the venue was too huge. There were a lot of partiers but the venue is still way big. I will probably refrain from attending a music festival in a cold weather setting as people are mostly wrapped or covered.

Pot doesn’t work for me. I actually took three times my intended dose because of the delay of the impact which came after about three hours. It only made me very sleepy and dizzy and I had a slight headache after. I m not sure how people extract happiness from this state.

 

Pinas Perspectives

“The best things in life are not things” – poster in Alubihod

“The reward ofentrepreneurship is financial freedom” – Kevin O’Leary, Shark Tank host.

Went back to Iloilo, visited Alubihod beach and was disappointed to see that the once naturist retreat beach is now a resort with not-so-good-looking buildings and structures. The quality of the sand was not as good as I remembered. The water is murky and there were lots of people too. The 3 kilometre dirt trail is now cemented. The only thing I enjoyed about this trip is the cheap tricycle ride (PHP 250) while getting to enjoy the backward scenery that is Guimaras.

I went to Trappist monastery and was not impressed by the products on display. They did not excite my taste buds. Much like the extra super special batchoy that made me vomit. I liked the Suman I bought from a street vendor which was only PHP 10.

Going around Iloilo, I can now see some pretty faces and they are holding unassuming occupations. It’s the bakya ones that are flocking to SM city. I’m still dreaming of a more developed and exclusive Pinas but it is almost impossible to stem the tide of population who wants to take a piece of the action. Boracay and El Nido being swamped with beggars, vagrants and undesirables is a prime example.

Passed through Taipei on the way back to Canada. I was hesitant in trying their food as I was thinking it is overpriced like in Japan and HK but surprised to see it is cheap. A combo ensemble that could sell for $15-20 was only sold for about $7

Caught a bug during my last day in Pinas which made me a bit upset. I need to factor my vulnerability to bacteria and virus in any analysis of living in Pinas. I have downgraded my rating for this Pinas trip to 2 stars out of five and I’m not planning to go back without any valid transaction.