October

#275 tIhde the Knot

01 October 2016 // Marble Falls, Texas

Congrats to Meghan & Brendan! Deanna and I had such a blast celebrating in Marble Falls- that was definitely a unique wedding experience.

Between your wedding and ours, every time we’ve seen you two together it’s been a really, really fun day.

#276 Rad Mother Clucker

02 October 2016 // Austin, Texas

Doughnut lovers, I’m having cravings. What are your picks for best doughnut shops in the country? I’ll give you my top three.

Pip’s Original Doughnuts (Portland) – Going the route of keeping it simple but executing well. I’m a fan.

Gourdough’s (Austin) – Going the opposite direction with Big. Fat. Donuts. piled high with everything from fried chicken cuts to jalapeño jelly. I’m a fan as well and make it a point to come by whenever I’m in Austin.

Blue Star Doughnuts (Portland) – French brioche dough makes all of their doughnuts good to the breadcrumb. They won me over by tossing a vile of rum on to a caramel brulêe doughnut.

Yup, Portland takes two of three. Although I say this not having tried Daily Dozen in Seattle, which I’ve heard such good things about.

#277 Your Money Or Your Life

03 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

“Who you are is far greater than what you do for money, and your true work is far greater than your paid employment. Our focus on money and materialism may have robbed us of the pride we can and should feel in who we are as people and the many ways we contribute to the well being of others.”

-Vicki Robin

A bit of a break from what I usually read, a book about money use turns out to be far more practical, far less romantic, and just as purposeful as anything else I’ve read this year.

I didn’t follow all nine steps for financial independence to the tee. At least I haven’t yet, and while that must make Vicki Robin shake her head, I did start to do a few things. Measuring my income and expenditures in life energy, not just dollars. Figuring out what a “just right” level of income looks like for my family so I know when doing more work stops being worth it. Keeping track of all spending.

Perhaps I’ll take on the rest of the exercises when I have time. Or whenever I have graph paper handy, which is like never.

#278 Grad School: Nine Weeks

04 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Today I submitted my forms to graduate and be done with everything in nine weeks.

While my motivation going into this quarter is mostly propelled by the finish line I’m looking at, I’ve found a helpful way to think about work that provides an extra boost.

Imagine, for a second, what the best possible outcome could be of you showing up and doing your job well? A lot of people can easily drum up the worst case scenario, but what’s the best case scenario. My wife’s a therapist, so in her field it looks like saving a life, preventing suicide, and breaking up abusive cycles in a family. That’s a pretty serious contribution to the world. Do you accept a so-so job because of the healthy pay? Maybe the money you donate to charities, treat friends with, or support your family with are also in the life-saving business. Are you a barista? Maybe your pleasantness and warmth have actually made somebody’s day or turned it around… I can credit a phone rep for Virgin Airlines doing that for me once.

As a teacher of African studies, hmm… who knows? Maybe I strike the curiosity of a kid who one day discovers an efficient way to get antiretrovirals or malaria meds to the people who need them most.

Are these pretty out there possibilities? Yup. Unlikely? Probably. But here’s the crazy thing… if these things end up happening, a lot of times we’ll have had no idea. So we might as well act as if they just might, and by doing so, we’ll really increase our odds of doing meaningful work.

#279 Sunlit Halls

05 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Here’s a fun fact- some studies show that businesses that use totally made up words or names are often more successful than those that use descriptive, already existing words. Airbnb? Much better than ShareYourHouse. Instagram? Beats out Mobile PicShare. Ghostbusters? Better than its Chinese translation, Super Power Dare Die Team.

Here’s the part of that I find interesting… there’s a good part of us that can so easily be convinced we’re looking at something new just by the way it’s presented. Both traditional media and social media have gotten really, really skilled at that. The way to keep you glued is to run up storylines that seem like they’ve never happened before.

Corrupt politicians? That’s actually about as old of a news story as we have. Leaders with dictatorial tendencies? They go pretty far back throughout history. People unable to live peacefully with each other because of race, gender, or a bunch of other qualities? Yeah, unfortunately, that dynamic is much older than we are.

What to make of this? I’m all for staying informed, but also remember, there’s nothing really new under the sun and there’s a good and bad side to that. Unfortunately, progress happens very, very slowly, and many of the world’s big issues will probably outlive us. But the good news is that the world is crazy resilient. There’s still a lot of good that persists along with the bad.

At the end of the day, don’t just respond to the big bold headlines. Listen to what your life has taught you, to the lessons learned from the dirt underneath your fingernails. Don’t let panic take control of your creativity, it was meant to add good into the world, starting with what’s in front of you.

#280 13th to Campus

06 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

There are so many things in life that don’t work out, even though they made total sense on paper. I’ve seen couples break up that seemed like a great fit to me. I’ve had friends not get jobs that they seemed made for. I’ve known people who have started projects that for some reason never got the attention they were worthy of.

What’s the deal? I wish I knew. Unfortunately life is full of these little injustices that don’t seem to have a good explanation.

It’s good to know that this happens, and it happens quite a bit. It’s good to be prepared for this. Hard work is indispensable, but sometimes, it’s not enough. You can make all necessary efforts, all the right choices, and it still doesn’t work out.

It’s probably a healthy thing for everyone to experience this at least once in their lifetime. So many people in rough situations are there through no fault of their own. It’s important to have empathy for that. Not blame, and not a rescuer mentality. Just a deep sense of understanding and compassion.

#281 Chicken Katsu

07 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Katsuuuuuuu!

Chicken katsu is pretty much my go to dish at any Hawaiian restaurant. I’ll venture into other dishes but I always come back home. My lightly fried, breaded, crispy home.

I made some the other night and that was surprisingly simple and easy- with a big lightly fried, breaded, crispy payoff.

#282 Our Guests

08 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Hosting visitors is one of mine and Deanna’s favorite things to do.

Over the weekend we got to have Bre and Raquel and Jesse over for soul food, Ticket to Ride, and more food. Loved it.

We’ve now passed the amount of out-of-town friends we hoped to be able to host in Eugene for our marriage goals, but we have no plans of stopping! We love having people over.

#283 Deanna’s 27

09 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Happy, happy birthday to my sweet and beautiful Deanna! It’s been a good day of church, eating, friends, and hygge.

Life with you is so sweet, simple, fun, and I couldn’t be more thankful for it. I love getting to spend every day with you, taking Beignet out on little weekend adventures, watching our shows, trying to squeeze out every last minute of conversation before we go to sleep, cherishing the friendships we’ve managed to build around town, and dreaming of all kinds of things we hope to do together.

It’s a great life and I love that I get to share it with you.

#284 Current

10 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Wind and rain have this river feeling pretty good about itself.

Here are a few things making me happy this week.

So first, there was the bit of good news we got last week that I mentioned in my last post.

I’m also really loving Johnnyswim’s Georgica Pond album. So much soul and so many songs off the new album sounded great live.

And before the show, I finally got to eat at Tasty and Sons, which was on my places to eat in Portland list for a good while. Get the Asian Bloody Mary.

#285 Lasagna

11 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Lasagna is a birthday tradition in Deanna’s family, and that’s a tradition that I wouldn’t wanna mess with.

I didn’t get to make her some on her actual birthday but that’s cause we kept eating all day. So, Tuesday night, I got busy.

Lasagna is a tricky dish once you’ve been to Bologna. You realize how different the American interpretation of it is, but figuring out how they get their ragú that savory and creamy is a puzzle in and of itself.

My go to methods? A slow cooker. Add some milk. And white wine to break everything down. Sometimes a red wine gets too fruity. Toss in a bit of pancetta fat. And grate or process the veggies. That way you get a smoother filling.

Oh and homemade noodles. Those are a must.

#286 Grad School: Eight Weeks

12 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Know what’s a really, really good feeling? It’s when you don’t know exactly why something happened or didn’t happen to you but still feel really, really at peace with it.

I got hit by that while driving through Texas Hill Country a week or so ago. Suddenly convinced that the end of this year would make for a very important time for me to be learning things.

Last summer, I came pretty close to getting a job that looked like such a right fit on paper. I would’ve loved the work I’d be doing. I would’ve accepted without hesitation.

I realize now that if I did that, there would be no way I’d be able to tie up all the loose ends of my Masters programs like I thought. There’s a bit too much left to do, and I would’ve likely had to pay to do that too if I wasn’t teaching at the same time. I also did some math and figured out the “just right” amount of income for Deanna and I. This would’ve been a bit too far below, and sometimes I tend to underrate income for more idealistic trade offs.

Some stretches of life can feel so slow, with a purpose that’s hazier than mid October mornings. Surrendering what you don’t have control over frees you to unleash your best stuff.

#287 UO East Campus

13 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

With the end of grad school approaching, I often think of all the reasons why I’m looking forward to being done- and there are plenty. Being more financially able to support a family is a big one. So is the urge to contribute towards helping other people.

For the sake of getting the most out of the remaining weeks, though, here are a few things I know I’ll miss once it’s all done.

I’ll miss having so much control over my schedule. If I need to run an errand in the middle of the day, or run home to take care of something, I can do that really easily. It’s rare to find a job with as many moveable parts as mine right now.

I’ll miss the way I’ve acquired a deep and unexpected knowledge on so many random things on the way to getting degrees. World Heritage Sites in Mali. The Public Budgeting process in Oregon versus California. Andrew Carnegie’s writings. One day, when I’m on Who Wants To Be a Millionaire, at least a couple of my life flashbacks will have to be to grad school.

I’ll miss the student ticket rates for Ducks games… granted the Ducks aren’t making me miss that so much right now, but one day I will.

#288 Family Selfy

14 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Not gonna name any names, but one member of this family makes taking selfies a lot more difficult.

We’re thrilled, though!

Deanna went to see a doctor for a checkup. When she got really sick last February, her breathing scores dropped from a typical range in the mid-high 70s down to 22. We had a doctor tell us that a lot of people don’t get back to their old numbers after a drop that drastic.

Well since then, I knew she was doing better since we’ve visited lots of places, snorkeled in Hawaii, and ran a half marathon. But how much better?

When she went to get tested at her doctors, I walked Beignet around while praying for a good number. We got it… 80! This sort of comeback is really, really rare.

I’m a believer in never taking what you have for granted, in realizing there are things so much bigger than the usual things we freak out about on a daily basis, and in God working an old school miracle every now and again.

#289 Johnnyswim in PDX

15 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Deanna and I absolutely love Johnnyswim. We got engaged to our friends playing a cover of Paris in June and left our wedding reception to the tune of Diamonds.

We were absolutely not going to miss our shot to see them play in Portland.

Man this was an amazing show. So much charisma and stage chemistry- I’m loving the sound of the new album already.

#290 Rains Come

16 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Ah the rain has returned in full force after taking a little summer break. My opinion will probably change when February rolls around but right now I love this so much.

Also glad we were able to make it to and from Portland twice while having to basically drive through a lake with all the flooding. On Friday night we ended up backing up on a one way road just to get out from all the water.

#291 Street Life Under a Roof

17 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

“For as with Point Place, it is possible for youth to come together to create culturally expressive forms of social life not only for the privileged few, but for anyone who is looking for shelter and, along with it a sense of belonging under a shared roof.”

-Emily Margaretten

Frequently asked question… do books that I have to read for work or school count towards my personal reading goals? I say that they do if I like the book enough.

This was an assigned book for the class I’m teaching, and I’ll get to do two lectures on South Africa and street life next week which should be fun. Reading this ethnography of a researcher who lived in a youth shelter totally took me back to Jozi, even though it’s set in Durban.

#292 City Human Rights Commission

18 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Last night, I got to attend our local human rights commission meeting. I didn’t even know we had one but here’s what I saw.

A representative from the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs shared a nasty courtroom experience directed at her while trying to speak on behalf of land belonging to her tribe. Everybody listened empathically.

A member of the ACLU talked about methods of police surveillance that may raise some privacy concerns and a rep from the police department acknowledged the concerns and mentioned some potential benefits of the technology in stopping child predators or kidnappings.

I know a lot of people are so over political discourse, and I get why. But I was also encouraged by what I saw. Local governance offers so many opportunities for regular people to be a part of the process that not many people take. And in a local setting, you can oftentimes have a huge influence.

When you get tired of being a political spectator, maybe try participating every now and then.

#293 Grad School: Seven Weeks

19 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

On paper, this was supposed to be a really challenging Fall for me. I had to request special permission from the University to take twenty credits (twelve is my normal) all while keeping up my freelance projects, my job hunt, and several weekends of travel for family reasons. Plus it’s also the time of year when the sun disappears and everything drops fifty degrees and it’s way harder to feel motivated for anything.

The funny thing is that we’re close to halfway through this quarter and I am loving it. So far it’s all gone by smoothly and I’m surprised often at how efficiently I’ve been able to get things done.

Here are a few things that have been real helpful this term.

Going one day at a time. It’s easy to rush it when you’re close to the finish line, but just making sure each day’s challenges are given appropriate attention.

Before most items on my to do list I ask myself who do I really have a chance to serve with this task. The answer isn’t always obvious but it makes otherwise unmotivating tasks much more fulfilling.

So far I haven’t worked a Sunday, I’ve mostly been able to slow down my Saturdays, and often finish everything by 5 or 6 pm. All that time to enjoy life and not just work through it has finally become a good habit after years of working on it.

#294 College Hill

20 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

This summer, I came really, really close to getting what I thought could have been my dream job. I would’ve worked as a director with a really cool organization doing international work, it would’ve been work I’d enjoy doing every day, and it would’ve been in a city where I used to live that I miss a lot.

Part of me was surprised I didn’t get it because it seemed like such a great fit on paper, but another part of me just had a feeling that it wouldn’t work out. And while there was a bit of disappointment, there have been so many times this past fall where I’m glad it didn’t go through. If I got it, Deanna and I would be back living in California right now, and almost on a daily basis, I’ve been thinking, I’m glad I’m still here.

So in honor of understanding and appreciating things better in retrospect, here are a few reasons why I’m glad I’m still here.

Fall in the PNW is gorgeous. The first weather cycle, with the unending rain and grey skies can be a bit overwhelming. The next time around? I’ve fallen in love with it. Grey skies, bright orange leaves, and hygge weather… I’ve been liking this so much. I’ve also grown to appreciate having different seasons, and I’m thankful for this one.

Moving a couple weeks ago would’ve been a huge hassle, logistically. Not just with getting all our stuff and dog to California. We would’ve had to find a place to live. I would’ve had to figure out how to finish grad school remotely- which I now realize wouldn’t be easy at all while working full time. And there are some financial reasons too.

Ultimately, we really aren’t ready to leave where we are right now. Maybe we will be. Maybe soon. But I think we needed this last round to take it all in and to enjoy this stuff.

#295 One In N Out

21 October 2016 // Medford, Oregon

Living in a state with one In N Out > Living in a stat with zero In N Out.

Also, order #32’s number was just called and a family of six stood up and started clapping. Heartwarming moment of the day. There truly is good in thew world.

#296 Congrats Justin & CC!

22 October 2016 // San Francisco, California

This weekend was about as good as it gets.

Deanna and I went down to San Francisco to help our friend Justin propose to his now fiancé, Caytlin. There were tears and corgis and food trucks and beaches involved, and we got to see a bunch of our good friends again.

Congrats Justin and Caytlin- we are so, so happy for you two and we’re looking forward to you two being married!

#297 Friend Brunch

23 October 2016 // Sacramento, California

I hang out with a good looking bunch.

And we eat brunch.

#298 Grad School: Six Weeks

24 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

It’s crazy to think about how close life is to radically changing all over again. I’m both looking forward to it and ready for things in my life to last a little longer.

When I started grad school, I had a whole lot of energy to get things off the ground. I wanted to launch projects, new organizations, groups of people and have them all spring into action. I was ready to hit the ground running. The past few years before that had been so dynamic and full of big changes it seemed like there was only one direction to go.

It turns out that most of the things I attempted to start didn’t work out. There were a lot of false starts and midway through it started to feel like I’d been spending my year doing nothing. Life went from this dynamic journey to being surprisingly still.

I had a friend talk to me about how sometimes we hit these seasons in life where God just wants us to chill for a bit, without much going on. That gets really challenging for my personality and my inclination to want to go everywhere and do everything. But these stretches, slow and frustrating as they might be can be really important and underrated.

Some recipes have steps where dough needs to rise for hours, or flavors need to meld for a day, just so it can come out right. Some pieces of pottery need to chill for a week so they don’t shatter when used. Some songs need to rest after a big note before going on to the next movement so the listener can take it all in.

I don’t think God’s one to waste time. And when we can trust that there’s a point to these.

#299 Boeuf Borgignon

25 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Now that we’ve hit that fall-winter part of my cooking challenge, I’ve been having lots of fun with these heavier, heartier meals- this week’s being no exception.

I gave making bouef borgignon a shot, or as Julia Child calls it, bouef b£•∞¶£on. Speaking of Julia, I essentially used her recipe, but without a dutch oven, I had to adapt and improvise to work with our slow cooker.

I got to come home to a great meal and a great smelling house. Not much I would’ve changed about how it turned out, except that I wish I made even more.

#300 The Birth of Korean Cool

26 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

“So how does Korea manage the work ethic and maniacal drive to be number one? The underlying national psychology that motivates the country is not a salutary one. I remain convinced that ‘han’, that culturally specific, millennia-old rage against fate, is a huge motivating force in Koreans’ stamina and persistence.”

-Euny Hong

This was a fun little read about why Koreans are so darn cool. And it was very clearly written in late 2012 when Psy was at optimum Gangnam style.

Actually I learned quite a bit about how the ROK government has invested in its own entertainment industry in such a methodical way to get Halyu to take over the world.

#301 Week of Lectures

27 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Throwing back to my days as a substitute teacher by being a guest lecturer.

It’s so much easier when you have the chance to lecture about something that you could talk about forever and ever. In this case, street life in South Africa, concepts of masculinity, ghost stories, and township life. And a whole bunch of personal anecdotes from my own experiences.

#302 Great Fall

28 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Duuuuude the days have been stunning lately.

A couple weeks ago in Portland, Johnnyswim shared the inspiration for their song Drunks. Apparently there’s this bar in Nashville where all the hardcore soccer fans go. And during a match, things can get pretty nasty. One side yelling up a storm at the other. But there are these Irish folk songs that kick in after the game, and once they start, everyone sings. No matter who you were cheering for a minute ago.

Living in the USA right now feels like the country needs an Irish drinking song. This isn’t the first time of wild contentiousness, nor will it be the last, but a good time out would do wonders.

I used to think having the right facts could solve a lot of our problems. But if I doubted it before, this year has confirmed that people will gravitate towards “facts” that confirm what they already think is true and find ways to dismiss anything else. The right facts won’t change the world.

There’s something about beauty, though, that can still stop people in a single moment. For a new parent holding a tiny life in a maternity ward, the election is so far on the back burner it’s just white noise. For someone in the middle of this year’s most gorgeous weekend, next week need not come.

Our hearts were made to worship, and wonder still gets us where information fails us. Small fragments of starlight that can spell out true north.

#303 Mazed

29 October 2016 // Junction City, Oregon

This weekend was a great one for corn mazes and mud.

#304 The Pint Pot

30 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Gray mornings call for a classic Irish Pub. Thank goodness for The Pint Pot. An Irish coffee and a full Irish breakfast are exactly in order.

Here are a couple other things making me pretty happy this week.

I discovered that Terrence Malick’s film To The Wonder was streaming for free on Prime, and I loved it even though it wasn’t the most accessible of movies. In typical Malick fashion, it was full of amazing visuals, cryptic layers of meaning hiding beneath simple-but-poetic dialogue, and Javier Bardem being a priest. The film itself was so beautifully shot, despite being set in mostly sterile, suburban environments… but I kinda think that was supposed to be the point.

And on the other end of the spectrum, there’s that YouTube video of a dog’s favorite Gumby chew toy being brought to life by it’s owner in a Gumby costume. I’ve lost track of the amount of times I’ve watched it, I love it so.

And then there’s freaking baseball. What a game.

#305 Chill Halloween

31 October 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Happy Halloween my friends. We had a laid back dinner with friends kinda night, but I had some good reads to help me keep the day all spooky and such.

Also, we had zero trick or treaters! What’s going on, modern day children? I even heard some kids trick or treat at the door right across from us, never to come by.

Now I’m stuck with the dangerous prospect of endless fun size candies around the house.

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