August 28, 2010 - 4:24 PM
The Eugene Celebration is somewhat like a community pep rally. It's a weekend dedicated to strengthening neighborhood relationships between citizens, small business owners and students alike. Consider it a massive block party with great food, parade floats, live music and friendly people sharing a common purpose of celebrating the city they live in. Earlier today, I had the chance to join the celebration for a few hours, but not in the exact fashion you might be thinking.
Around noon, Steven and I volunteered to represent the University of Oregon as Waste Warriors at the Celebration. It was a behind the scenes gig that I'd heard about from the PPPM email list serve a couple weeks ago. According to the email, we would be helping to sort materials generated by the event into recycling, compost and waste and in return we'd receive a free t-shirt and a weekend pass to the festivities.
The t-shirts is pretty cool, I'm not going to lie, and being your average college student I was stoked to be able to work my way into the event rather than pay, but whether or not the fruits of our labor outweigh the vulgar nature of our duties still remains in question. Allow me to elaborate.
Our task was to take the contents of somewhere between twenty-five and thirty trash bags and separate them into compostable material, comingled recycling, glass recycling, waste, etc. Simple, right? It was exactly what the job description explained. It was around the time when our two leaders, Lupe and Willie, started handing out smocks and vinyl gloves that I started to worry. The next two hours was spent sorting through oodles and oodles of Lord-knows-what people had thrown away throughout the weekend.
Bag after bag was dumped onto our sorting table. Our team of five UO students and a Eugene community member sifted through the remnants of several different food stands, all of which looked like they were very appetizing at one point. We saw a few cartons of melting Ben & Jerry's ice cream, lots of disposable plates and silverware and an unlimited supply of empty coffee cups. Let's just say that I'm really happy that Café Mam in downtown Eugene serves their fair trade coffee in compostable cups. And based on how many people are drinking it, I wish I could say the same for Starbucks.
I already know what you're dying to find out. What was the worst smell you encountered, Trafton? There was some heavy competition between diapers and leftover Greek cuisine, but the clear-cut winner goes to a few bags of soggy cigarette butts. I'll spare you the details of that foulest of stenches and leave it at that.
It really wasn't nearly as bad as I make it out to be. I could have done without the smell, obviously, but aside from that it was no more than few hours chatting with new friends and learning what can and cannot be composted by Rexius' compost facilities. I learned that any recyclable plastic that has touched food could no longer be recycled. Sadly, it gets sent to the dump. Those 99¢ Arizona Ice Teas that we all love don't have any CRV value in Oregon, whereas the majority of all other aluminum cans and plastic bottles can be returned for 5¢ a piece at Safeway or Market of Choice. And, like I said before, I'm really glad that most disposable cups are compostable these days, because Eugeners sure drink a lot of coffee and soda.
I'm certainly glad I went, although I wish I could have stayed at the Celebration afterwards. After our shift ended around 2:30, Steven and I quickly bolted home to rinse off the grunge that comes with two hours of digging through trash. We never did make it back to downtown. Oh well, I guess there's always next year.
Coundown until Ducks Season Opener: 7 days!!!
August 26, 2010 - 10:31 PM
Earlier tonight my roommates - Ross, Steven and Winston - and I headed over to PK Park to watch some Minor League Baseball action as the Eugene Emeralds took on the Everett AquaSox. Okay, we may have been lured to the park by Thirsty Thursday, but at least we're supporting our local team, right?
The highlight of the night happened around the 3rd Inning when a foul ball off the bat of the AquaSox clean up hitter found its way to our section. It ricocheted off the top of the stadium behind home plate and plopped down in the row in front of us. The ball actually landed directly into a girl's cup and splashed soda all over the kid next to her. At the same time, I became overzealous trying to catch the ball and happened to spill some of my drink on the kid too. I felt really bad until he leaned over to his mother and laughed, "I think I need to take a shower when I get home." His spirits remain high and the girl gave the ball to him afterwards, so it all worked out in the end.
Meanwhile, the game turned out to be a big victory for the Ems. They were down a run until the bottom of the 5th inning when they scored two twice lands to a subpar defensive effort by the Everett infielders. First, Wes Cunningham whiffed on a change up for the third strike, but the ball scooted past the Everett catcher to the backstop, which allowed Cunningham to take first base and Oscar Garcia to steal home to tie the game. Later in the inning they scored again when the second baseman booted a groundball. We concluded that any player still in Single-A short season at this time of year probably deserves to be there. We noticed that everyone was lacking a certain polish and shine that Triple-A and Major Leaguers shared.
At that point, the score was 2-1 and the Emeralds never looked back. They tacked on four more runs in the 7th inning to go up 6-1, which ended up being the final score. For the rest of the game, we sat back and enjoyed the show. Winston recognized the Emeralds catcher, Rocky Gale, who he'd played with at McNary High School in Keiser.
Meanwhile, Steven and I were doing our best impressions of Major League scouts as the Emeralds bullpen took over in the later innings. A little known fact about me is that my dream job is a baseball scout in the major leagues. I would literally drop any job and any future plans if I were given the opportunity to become a scout. Getting paid to watch minor league games. All I have to do is hold up a speed gun and jot down notes every once in a while. Sign me up!
I'll make one bold prediction. Mark my words; we'll see Xavier Esquivel in the major leagues in a few years. He pitched a perfect 7th and 8th inning for the Ems - six up, six down with three strikeouts. Watch for that name coming up through the Padres farm system. We'll see if I'm cut out to be a scout or not.
Hopefully, we'll be able to make it to another game before the summer ends. The Salem-Keiser Volcanoes are coming into town next weekend. They're the minor league affiliate of the Giants, so I might actually have a little vested interest in the game. The Dave Matthews Band concert at the Columbia Gorge next weekend might get in the way though. I'll keep you posted.
Countdown until Ducks Season Opener: 9 Days!!
August 22, 2010 - 11:54 PM
It might not be fall quite yet, but football season is right around the corner. And, to prepare for the upcoming season, the roommates have all joined a Fantasy Football league.
It's a guy thing, I know, but it's hilarious how involved we become in this. Tonight at 10PM, we all sat down on our computers and went through the grueling ninety-minute draft. There are ten guys in the league and as of now we're spread out across Oregon - half in Eugene and half in Portland. Throughout the entire process, we were smack talking each other with our draft center chat room. Then we all realized that we hadn't been in a chat room since middle school, which made us feel old.
We're all big sports fans, but we don't take the Fantasy league too seriously. It's just your average friendly competition for bragging rights. Plus, we have an excuse to watch SportsCenter at night. Now we can call it "research."
The first few picks are usually a mad dash to pick up Oregon players. LaMichael James, Darron Thomas and Jeff Maehl were picked up early. My final pick in the 14th Round was Oregon Kicker, Alejandro Maldonado. I'd done enough research to know that he's fighting Rob Beard for the starting job. In the end I just wanted to have a guy named Alejandro on my team. And if he does play this year, I can singing Lady Gaga's "Don't Call My Name (Alejandro)" after every extra point he kicks.
An hour and a half and we were all about ready to pass out, eyes heavy from staring at our computer screens. The hardest part is over though, and we're geared up for another season.
There are high hopes in Eugene for another trip to Pasadena on New Year's Day. We've been preparing ourselves mentally for the grind of College Football Saturdays. Walking up at the crack of noon, putting your finest yellow Gameday shirt and trekking over to Autzen. I get excited just thinking about it.
Countdown until Ducks Season Opener: 13 days!
August 20, 2010 - 6:06 PM
The second round of Summer 2010 is off to a great start and I'm beginning to fall into a familiar rhythm of life in Eugene, slightly modified for the seasons.
It's my first full week back at Facilities Services and I'm quickly remembering how to update my campus energy and utilities spreadsheets. My supervisors apparently had a demanding summer while I was away, so they were happy to have me back to share some of the workload. We're working tirelessly to have Knight Arena and the new Ford Alumni Center online and running before students are back in the fall. The two buildings are set to open in January and May of 2011.
Work ends around 4 o'clock. I sign off my time sheet and ride my bicycle home down 18th Street. Depending on my personal energy level, I'll either head out for a run down by the millrace on the Amazon Creek Trails or see who's all wants to walk over to South Eugene High to play Frisbee.
Just this week, my roommates and I discovered Washington City Park on the other side of College Hill. It's a steep five and a half blocks but well worth it. We shot some hoops, tossed around the Vortex and even took a quick batting practice; off-season workouts for Intramural Softball next spring. We want that championship t-shirt.
Today, after Winston and I got off work we met up with some friends at McMennamins on 19th Street for Happy Hour. Cheep burgers and good drinks. Like we need another excuse to get to McMennamins with those cajunized tater tots.
Life in Eugene is certainly slower during the summer. Less school work to worry about. No midterms to prepare for. Plus, you can wear something other than a rain slicker. I think I could get used to this.
August 15, 2010 - 4:05 PM
For anyone that has ever been superstitious about flying on Friday the 13th, let me put that debate to an end right now. You should never fly on Friday the 13th for any reason.
Avoid it at all costs.
If it's anything like my day of flying last Friday, it might take you six hours and two airplane carriers just to travel from Oakland to Portland, a ninety-minute flight on any other day. It wasn't all bad though. On my second flight, the gentleman next to me happened to have an extra "Free Beverage" coupon, so he and I cheers to our unlikely cocktail hour and my tensions slowly disappeared.
After a gratuitously long day of flying I met up with my roommate, Ross, at his summer apartment in Portland and we headed to our weekend getaway.....Lake Merwin.
We met our old roommate, Cam, at his family's cabin on Lake Merwin, which is located a few miles east of Woodland in Washington. For the past two summers I'd heard of this glorious haven from my roommates that were lucky enough to spend a few nights there, and without fail Merwin lived up to it's name this past weekend.
Merwin is a place where you can wake up to the sun beaming across the peaceful lake waters. And when I say wake up, I mean literally you can sleep out on the docks or plop yourself on a boat for the night so that the first thing you seen upon opening your eyes is the glass-like surface of water.
Merwin is a place where sitting down for dinner rarely happens before 9pm, because no one wants to head inside to start cooking until the sun goes down.
Merwin is a place where you would rather not be wearing a watch because there's no need for time. At Merwin there is day and there is night, and that's all that matters.
Our weekend was spent adventuring across the lake by rowboat, wakeboarding and tubing behind motorboats, and then jumping off the rooftop of the boat dock to cool down after dozing off in the sunshine. As you can tell, this is just another perk of having the Pacific Northwest in your backyard, but this isn't quite the same as the rock slides from last weekend.
As Ross and I left Merwin this afternoon, the temperature was about to break 100°F. Perfect weather for swimming. We relaxed in Portland long enough to watch the Giants lose to San Diego, and then headed down to Winston's house in Keiser. It was his father's birthday today, which meant that we were lucky enough to experience a "Dave Burger," yet another first for me this weekend.
I wish I could explain how utterly delicious this burger was, but there's nothing I could say that would do it justice. Long story short, we had a checklist of ingredients that included: cheese, bacon, ham, fried egg, grilled onions, fresh onions, tomatoes, and lettuce. Plus we had to choose between regular mayo and spicy chipotle mayo. And, yes, if you were allowed to have everything if you wanted. I would've gone back for seconds, but the first burger took up too much space in my stomach.
It was certainly a weekend worth remembering. Now we're back in Eugene. One more day of rest and I'll be back at Facility Services on Tuesday morning. Some might think that my summer is over, but I think it's quite the opposite. My California summer has ended, true, but my Oregon summer is just beginning.