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Spent the weekend mostly recuperating from the now-concluded job. Got some new prospects in the works, including a phone interview tomorrow (Monday) morning. I popped in for the minyan at Chabad this morning and chazzaned. I'm hoping to start going somewhat regularly once again - after having been away from it for a few weeks - and it was nice that they asked me to lead the prayers.

Portland seems to be finally into a sustained period of nice weather and I got outdoors for about 20 minutes of run/walk today. Planning to do it again tomorrow. What I've been forgetting about those runs is how good I feel afterward.
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I didn't plan it for Cinco de Mayo, but I did officially make the decision today to get serious about bringing my Spanish proficiency up to a respectable level. There's a Berlitz language school almost directly across the street from me that's been there forever, and I want to sign up for some lessons there if I can afford it. Regardless, though, I'm committing to studying with audio and practicing speaking and listening daily, and I'll try to practice with native speakers whenever I get the chance.

Also I'm dusting off my C++ lessons and going to work on that until I build some decent skills. I can remember the bare bones of for-loops and ternary operators but I want to be able to start producing stuff.

And now: the weekend! Shabbat shalom.
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The job is getting easier and I'm getting to where I don't hate it the way I used to. I can hang in there for a while longer at least, gain some experience, until I get a clearer picture of where I can go from here.

I'm keeping up with learning html but at the end of the day web design doesn't really interest me. What does interest me is mathematics and science, and I'm eager to get started again with C/C++ and Matlab. I want to learn more about what career paths are out there, too.

We finally got a break in the weather here in Portland and it hit 80F yesterday. Forecast calls for rain Friday but otherwise sunny for the foreseeable future. Yay.
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It looks like Portland may be seeing the last of winter weather, finally. Forecast calls for clear skies for the early part of this week, then some rain, but no more freezing temperatures.

I'm coming to the end of six months at my current gig, and starting to look around for something that pays better. Meanwhile the downsizing continues apace, with regular trips to Powell's to lighten the load of surplus books.

Getting ready to move forward to the next phase of life.
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I've had my new phone for about two weeks now and I'm happy with it. I bought a handsfree headset at the same time, in preparation for my debut as an Uber delivery driver, and started wearing it daily. I thought it would be hard to get used to (I'm of the generation that grew up with corded dial phones) but it became natural almost immediately. I forgot to put it on today and it feels weird *not* having it on.

So, I stopped by the Uber Greenlight location on the Eastside last night - my first time dealing with any of the staff in person - and they were great. A guy named Paul helped me and he was very nice and professional. And I'm officially ready to start driving! I'll turn on my driver app tonight after my day job and we'll see how it goes.

And my social life is moving right along ... got some dating happening, yay. Details anon. For now, got to get to work at my day job!
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Portland, Oregon is near the Pacific coast and it's generally a mild climate. Two inches of snow is a lot for us. Last week we got eight. The city had to borrow snowplows and sand trucks from Seattle.

And the temperature has stayed below freezing since then. Now the snow is supposed to start melting today and tomorrow ... just in time for a monster storm that's supposed to dump tons of rain on us Tuesday and Wednesday.

So, lots of fun.
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With Shadowdale now a fading memory, I spent my first full weekend at my new place at the Admiral. After driving around for a week with clothing, books, and a set of encyclopedias in the back of my car, and worrying about falling victim to a band of roving encyclopedia thieves, I've schlepped the last of the major household stuff up to the apartment. Now there's a big heap of junk in the middle of the floor looking like that scene from Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

But it's home.

I've made friends with some of the people in the building, plus I'm moving ahead with my social life.

I'm posting this from work - yeah I'm working on Sunday morning. My CenturyLink internet gets hooked up Wednesday.
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This Thursday morning, the movers will come to my apartment at Shadowdale and extricate the collected books and accumulated detritus of 35 years of adult life, and cart the stuff to a storage cube in downtown Portland - a few blocks from my new (old) place at the Admiral. It'll be a blessed relief to have all that stuff out of my field of vision.

My final move-out date from Shadowdale is next Monday; I'm taking Thursday thru Monday off to complete this seemingly insurmountable task.

Yikes.
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I sign the lease Monday. Studio unit at the Admiral. I'm hoping to be able to start sleeping there right away - I'll move a few necessaries in, and start getting cozy. I'll still have five weeks before the lease at my old place (I'm calling it Shadowdale here) expires. That'll give me time to triage my belongings into what I want to move to the Admiral, what I want to put in storage, and what I need to get rid of.

At this stage in life, I am really understanding the meaning of the expression "You don't own your stuff, your stuff owns you."
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Last August I was having some mild pain in my back teeth on the left side. I'd just had a dental cleaning and check-up with my local dentist, Dr. G., but I went back to have him take a look. He did some tests and took a few more X-rays, and suggested I make an appointment with an endodontist, Dr. V.

Over the next couple of weeks, the pain started to subside (medicated toothpaste helped), and I had a lot of stuff going on with the new job and impending move. Finally I called Dr. V and booked an appointment, and that happened this morning.

Dr. G had warned me that depending on what Dr. V found, I might need a root canal, and that's what Dr. V told me this morning. So I said 'OK, let's get it over with."

The phrase "root canal", at least among people of my generation and older, is proverbial for the most unpleasant experience you can imagine. I asked Dr. G about this, and he explained that a root canal simply means removing the blood vessels and nerves within the tooth - which you don't need anymore as an adult anyway - and replacing them with an inert filler; it's basically not too different from having a filling. The root canal's terrifying reputation, he said, came from earlier days when anaesthetics were less advanced; and from the fact that some root canals are necessitated by the presence of an abscess, which can render the anasethetic ineffective.

I asked Dr. V about this at this morning's appointment, and he verified the substance of what Dr. G had told me. And now, having survived the process, I can tell you it wasn't all that bad. The whole thing took around a half-hour. The anaesthetic did what it was supposed to do, and there was basically no pain at all, except for the gadgets they stuck in my mouth to keep my jaw open. Actually the worst part was just not being able to close my mouth, move my tongue normally, or swallow the mucus that I felt accumulating in the back of my throat.

Alas, the golden days when dentists would give you laughing gas (nitrous oxide) are long gone, and we haven't yet advanced to the point where they will hand you a bong. (Hey, this is Oregon.) But the procedure was not as unpleasant as I'd feared.

I'm also happy to report that I'm not experiencing much post-operative pain. Dr. V gave me a prescription for a pain-killer, which I promptly filled at the local pharmacy. But as things are, I'm doing just fine with over-the-counter medications which are readily available in all 50 states thanks to the 21st Amendment.
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Holidays finally over, now turning my attention to the move. Most of my stuff will end up going in storage, which will be a relief, because I'm tired of looking at all this clutter.
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We had heavy rain and fairly strong winds most of last night and today; it seems to have died down now, at least for the moment. I stayed indoors all day. A couple of girls (maybe in their early teens) weren't deterred by the weather, though, and were playing in the parking lot in the rain and near-dark yesterday evening and again this afternoon, splashing and riding their skateboards through puddles. It's fun hearing kids outside.

I'm going to go in to work tomorrow and see how many hours I can squeeze in before the Sukkot holiday starts tomorrow night. The theme of Sukkot is pilgrimage and impermanence, and it seems to come at an appropriate time for me this year.

I'll soon be vacating the apartment in Hillsdale where I've been living for the past year and a half, and moving back to downtown. Friday I received word that I have officially gotten the place at the Admiral, and I headed over there after work (contending with rain and traffic) to drop off the cashier's check for the initial deposit. My move-in date is in early November, and I'll still have about five weeks left on my lease here in Hillsdale, so I'll have plenty of time to move.

Looking forward to being back in the old 'hood.
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I live in South-West Portland and work in South-East Portland. This means that on a clear day - which today clearly was not - I have to contend with sun glare on both ends of my driving commute. It also means that (rain or shine) I cross the Ross Island Bridge. It's a 40-mph zone with two narrow lanes and no median, which means that some part of my brain goes all Rain Man every time I cross the bridge with the traffic zooming past me at 80+ mph in the opposite direction. (Did I mention I have a bit of driver's anxiety?) But I've gotten used to it, so it doesn't bother me like it did at first.

I was planning on working late - to 8 or 8:30, say - but with this storm coming in I knocked off at 6pm and spent an hour watching Finé and Izetta struggle to save Eylstadt.
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Yom Kippur was beautiful - the weather was great, the services were inspiring, and I survived the fast. Oh, and I lost a couple of pounds!

Now the rainy season is well and truly upon us. I'm looking forward to spending more time with books, in various formats - audio, Kindle, and (of course) print.

I'm re-"reading" (on audio) Toni Morrison's fourth novel, 'Tar Baby'. It is her only novel to date set mainly outside of the continental US (a pastoral, in genre), and therefore is, georgraphically speaking, literally an outlier. Uniquely among TM novels, the setting is heavily personified, so that the island becomes a 'character'. 'Tar Baby' is Morrison's first novel to be set in contemporary times (the post-Vietnam 70s, contemporary with the time of the book's composition) and her first to include major non-black characters (Valerian Street, the retired candy tycoon, and his wife, the red-headed former Miss Maine, Margaret).

The book has many of the familiar Toni Morrison trademarks: the role of folklore (as in, for example, 'Song of Solomon'), problem mothers, anxiety over skin color (Jadine's, but also Margaret's), and ambivalence toward identity. At the end, as Jadine and Son are drawn inexorably back toward one another, I wonder if the island itself is the 'tar baby' of the title. Anyway, I hope to post a full write-up on the book soon, when I'm finished re-reading it.

Also, I want to get active on Goodreads. (Readers, ping me if you're on Goodreads.)

I'm hopefully close to getting that studio in my old apartment building, which for convenience I'll call the Admiral here.

Okay, now I've got to get to work.
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It's been a busy couple of years for me. I moved back to Portland from San Francisco in early 2014, moving into a place in NW Portland. I earned my ham radio Technician license and my CompTIA A+ certification in that year, joined the Freemasons, and visited Alexandria, VA and Washington, DC.  In 2015 I visited Iraqi Kurdistan, seeing Erbil and Sulemania, and moved to the Hillsdale neighborhood in SW Portland.  In 2016 I visited the African Jewish communities in Uganda and Kenya, and, just recently, earned my EMT certification.  I'm now back in the workforce doing document scanning.

Currently I'm working on a project for Hebrew learners called Hebrew Then and Now.  And I'm back to updating regularly on both LJ as asher63 and DW as asher553.

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12 WEEKS AGO
I'd thought I would be taking the computer course in the comfort of my own home; as things turned out, I was at home but not very comfortable. I broke my arm on September 9, the second day of the course. But I still managed to finish the program (sitting in front of my laptop, clutching my shoulder, mousing with my left hand, and trying not to moan to loudly during the lectures) and ended up passing the exam. I was awarded my CompTIA A+ certificate on September 23. The last week of September - twelve weeks ago now - was my first week of classes at Portland State. I'd signed up for Linear Algebra, US History, Modern Physics, and Intro to Acting. This was my first time taking full-time classes in a number of years, and I still hadn't picked a major, but it was fun going back to school.

7 WEEKS AGO
Five weeks later, PSU's ten-week term was half over and I was taking mid-terms. I generally perform better, grade-wise, in the humanities than in the computational sciences, and that held true this semester: I did well in acting and history, less so in math and physics. PSU is not too far from where I live, about a 45-minute walk, and I usually prefer to walk it when the weather is pleasant. So, distracted by the pressure of mid-term week, I was blissfully unaware that my car had been towed until I looked for it that weekend.

4 WEEKS AGO
Four weeks ago, Dr. J was still in the shop; she'd been towed and had a window broken, and it turned out she needed a lot of engine work, including a new head gasket. My acting prof had assigned a "comedic monologue" to be read in class, and I wrote what I hoped would be an entertaining account of the towing incident, but the prof got side-tracked and several of us never got to give our presentations. This was where I finally started becoming really disenchanted with the acting prof - he's very likeable, but he is extremely erratic. But it was a short week, and it was nice having the Thanksgiving weekend off.

ONE WEEK AGO
After getting Dr. J back from the shop, I promised myself I'd start driving regularly - so that I'd keep track of the car, and also because I'd decided it was high time to get over my longstanding mild phobia of driving. So I started driving on a daily basis; last week I drove to Hood River twice. And I made concrete plans with the adviser at PSU: I'm now officially down for a BA in Liberal Studies, which basically allows me to take anything I want. And my dating life took a big step forward.

So that brings us up to date. Last Tuesday night was the first night of Hanukkah, and tonight is the last. Sometimes I like to take a look back and see where I've been, because it helps me move forward.
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7 MONTHS AGO
At the end of last May, I was working at an underpaid and overstressful position at a local utility company. My boss, "Darla", was impossible to please and I was looking forward to the end of the assignment. In my off-time I was finishing up an online course in digital cryptography from Stanford, offered for free through Coursera. On May 27, I took the final and aced it. (This was the second of two goals I'd set for myself - earlier in the month, on May 4, I took the test for my ham radio Technician license - and got 100% on that one, too.)

4 MONTHS AGO
By the end of August, I'd mostly gotten the old junk cleared out of my new place - it would've been a lot cheaper to do it before I moved, obviously, but there wasn't time. There wasn't much in the way of excitement, except that on the 22nd some goofball came up to me on the street and snapped a picture of me. With the radio license and cryptography course under my belt, I got busy signing up for an online CompTIA computer certification course and classes at Portland State. It would be a crunch, because the PSU term started almost immediately after the computer class ended, but I figured I could do the computer classes at home - with no distractions, and in comfort. Or so I thought.
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12 YEARS AGO
In 2002 I was living in Portland; it was my first full calendar year here. I was living at the Commodore on SW 16th and Morrison. By the end of 2002 I'd left my job at Mercer, and was doing temporary work. The 9/11 attacks were still a fresh memory, barely a year in the past, and the economy was still feeling the effects. I was in the process of working out my politics, too - I'd been active in the Green Party for several years. At some point, probably around 2002 or 2003, I left the Greens and became a registered Democrat for a brief period which would end in February 2004. (Sentator Joseph Lieberman abandoned his quest for the Democratic nomination on February 3, Tuesday, and I joined the Republican Party the following day.)

7 YEARS AGO
In 2007 I moved back to San Francisco to spend more time with TNG and to pursue a relationship with G. The date of my move was 2007-08-09; I moved into an apartment on Market Street. By the end of the year G and I had broken up and gotten back together at least once. Bunny was born in September. By December I was fully involved with G and Bunny (I had to abandon a long, rambling science-fiction story I'd been writing) and was pondering moving in with G.

FOUR YEARS AGO
By 2010, the relationship with G was well and truly finished, but I'd formed a wonderful relationship with Bunny. In September I moved into a one-bedroom apartment in the Mission, not too far from where G and Bunny lived. From about this time I started keeping a journal on the now-defunct OhLife.com, so from here on I can retrieve my daily events in some detail. (I've been keeping longhand journals for many years, but they're not as easy to access from the computer.) By about Hanukkah time I'd settled into a semi-regular routine in terms of sharing care of Bunny with G.

ONE YEAR AGO
I'd decided well in advance that I would move back to Portland once TNG had turned 18 and completed high school; so 2013 was my last year in SF as planned. It was a busy year for me all around: I turned 50 and bought a Glock in January (my first time owning a firearm, though I'd had plenty of practice shooting an M-16 in the Marines), worked full-time at a major corporate HQ in San Francisco, and took Krav Maga lessons. Back and foot pain became increasingly a problem for me, though, and I had to quit both Krav and the job for a few weeks. Fortunately I was able to identify the source of my problem - bad posture - and after that summer I had no further problems with my feet or back.

The last part of the calendar year 2013 was mainly devoted to wrapping up things in San Francisco. I managed to get TNG and his mom, Bunny and her mom, and my dear friend B, all together for a couple of surprisingly pleasant visits.

By this time, G and I were on very good terms and had developed good strategies for co-parenting Bunny.

Late in that year, an older relative of mine died, leaving me the executor of my uncle's trust for the remainder of its duration. By Hanukkah time, I was getting my apartment cleaned up and spending quality time with B, TNG, and Bunny in anticipation of the move. TNG got to spend some time hanging out with Bunny, and showed himself to be an awesome big brother. Bunny worked hard and enthusiastically on her math and Hebrew.

By the end of December, I'd made a visit to Portland and signed a lease on the main level of a duplex house in NW Portland - the place where I'm living now. I spent New Year's Eve hiking at Trillium Lake with a couple of friends. Then I headed back to San Francisco to pack. ...
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I was supposed to try to get together with a good friend this weekend, but last I heard from her her 20-year-old son was quite ill with a high fever and was in the hospital. That was Thursday, I think, and I've gotten no response to emails, texts, or voice messages, so I am getting a bit concerned.

As for me, I'll be getting set up for the CompTIA exams Monday and Tuesday. I'm not hugely confident that I'll pass the first time round, but they give you feedback indicating what your weak areas are. I'm prepared to re-take the tests as many times as I need to until I pass.

I'm giving myself the rest of the evening off from worrying about CompTIA stuff. Have promised myself I'm going to hit the gym and do some time on the stationary bike. Estimate chances of breaking an arm on stationary bike are quite low.
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I woke up in a fair amount of pain, as usual, and grabbed my pain pill. Had my coffee, did morning prayers / meditation / study, and decided to try a short jog.

I only went about three blocks, but I generally felt fine. The only thing that stopped me from going farther was that the impact of jogging was hurting my shoulder. This probably could have been mitigated by adopting a shuffling style, with my feet not rising very high off the ground, but that's precisely the thing I need to learn NOT to do - it's the reason I tripped over a 3/4" crack in the sidewalk and broke my arm in the first place.

I found the exact spot where I had my accident: the driveway in back of the direct-mail marketing business on NW 17th between Kearney and Lovejoy.

The main thing is I want to stay in a recovery mentality, not an invalid mentality. Each day I try to find concrete examples of specific tasks that I can do, that I couldn't do the day before.

So, running will have to wait a little longer, but I'm looking forward to getting back to it. I've already decided I'm going to make three specific changes to make it safer: (1) carry NOTHING in my hands, because I need my hands free to make best use of them for balancing and, if need be, to break a fall; (2) no music, even on a hands-free headset, because I need to be alert and paying attention to where I'm going and what I'm doing (even though I've been pretty careful in the past about muting the sound when I have to deal with traffic); and (3) stay carefully focused on the road ahead of me, watching for hazards, and always pick my feet up instead of shuffling.

So that's the moral of the story - stay focused on the road ahead.

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