Archive for May, 2008


May 31, 2008

Reverse Pavlovian Response: When his dog starts to drool, Pavlov rings a bell?


May 14, 2008

I’m not sure what this says about me.

Every week on garbage night and on garbage morning, we see people (OK, not herds of people, but it is more than a couple) wandering around the neighborhood with plastic bags, going through everyone’s recycle bins (I don’t think they get into the garbage bins) and taking out returnable glass and cans.

This really bothers me.

Am I feeling possessive about my garbage? I mean, I’m throwing it away. If I felt possessive about it, wouldn’t I keep it? And it’s not like I feel as if they’re stealing money from me, because I chose not to take the cans and bottles to get the deposit back myself – in essence, when I bought those beverages, I did it knowing that I would be out $0.05 per drink because I believe that the time I would spend standing at the machine processing the returns is worth more to me than the $1.20 I would get back; and that the space the returns would take up in my garage until I got around to doing it is more valuable taken up with the bags of books I save to take over to Powells.

So why does it bother me? Is it my middle-class sensibilities offended by seeing people going through garbage? The people I see are carrying a couple medium-sized garbage bags and walking through the neighborhood, so presumably they live very near by, and so are middle-class also. While some of them are elderly Asian women, there are definitely some younger Caucasians doing it also, and it bugs me when I see anyone doing it – so whatever it is, it isn’t just latent racism rearing its ugly head (in our society, I suspect that it is nearly impossible for a white person (or a person of any other race) to have completely escaped absorbing the prejudicial thought-patterns that are showered upon us in pretty much every medium available).

Is it because I suspect that the people doing this live in this area, and thus are living with means that should preclude them from needing to collect those stupid deposits? I mean, unless you collect *huge* amounts of returnables, collecting the few that wastrels like myself toss into the recycle once a week is hardly going to help someone pay the mortgage, or even buy them a meal out.

Is it that they make me feel guilty for being so lazy as to not bother returning them myself?

Or is it feeling “invaded”, as if someone is getting into something that belongs to me (when, actually, I don’t own the recycle bin, it belongs to Waste Management – they’re just lending it to me. Hey – do you think they feel possessive about us using it?). Am I feeling as if someone is stealing something from me? (See note about “I’m throwing it away”).

Tonight, I saw a woman getting into a neighbor’s recycle bin, and even that bothered me, so it’s not just that I’m feeling possessive of *my* garbage – I’m feeling possessive about my neighbor’s garbage, too!

Ultimately, the returns are going to make it into the same place, just through different routes; and this is not only benefiting the collectors in some small way, but it is saving the recycle company the bother of having to haul and sort the stuff. What’s the problem?

So it bothers me that this bothers me – in part, at least, because I don’t understand why it bothers me.

I guess I would make a poor communist…


May 13, 2008

What is with these Portland pedestrians?

Every day, every day, I drive downtown, people are crossing against the light. I admit, I do my share of crossing against the light, but I wait until cars that are going through a green light have passed, and there are no more coming. And yes, sometimes I will hit an intersection when the “don’t-walk” light starts flashing, but I speed up, even run, to get to the opposite side so as not to interfere with the cars that are going to get the green.

Is it just me, or do other drivers get pedestrians who start sauntering through the crosswalk just as the driver is going through the intersection? Is it just me, or do other drivers see people standing on a corner, staring at the walk/don’t-walk sign, and then start crossing as soon as the don’t-walk signal turns solid? Is it just me, or do other drivers seriously want to flip these people off, or run them over?

I’m all for questioning authority, and breaking rules when it isn’t going to affect someone else or get me hurt, but it seems like these people are going out of their way to be obnoxious to people they don’t even know. Is it a control thing, like, “See, you have to stop and wait for me because I’m the pedestrian, and I have the right of way, even if I’m doing something against the law”? Or is it solipsism? Or maybe they are just tired of living.

Hey, come on! Even anarchists can have common courtesy.


May 11, 2008

Yesterday was our big adventure – the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk!

Thank you to everyone who donated – as a team, we raised $1,995, just $5 short of our goal – many people were very generous, and Schrodinger as a company donated not only one quarter of the total amount, but also paid for the team t-shirts.

Special thanks are owed to those who walked – Carolyn; Evelyn and Vada; Jenny and Lawrence, along with the girls, Lily and Addie; Laurie (and Bobbi the Corgi); Leah; Olimpia, Cole, and Daniel; and, of course, Brian (and Robin). We made it the full 4-mile circuit, and saw parts of Portland up close that I hadn’t really noticed before. To those of you who signed up to walk but had conflicts of various kinds (including leaving the country!), I know you were thinking of us as we walked: Heidi, James, Lynnette, Mike, and Shi-Yi; and I know each of you would have been there if you could have.

Particular thanks go to Jenny, whose idea it was to set up the team, who did all the organizing, and who put her feet to the pavement in support.

I don’t know yet how much the overall Walk earned in donations, but we saw many teams, and many survivors participating – if their friends, family, and co-workers were as supportive as mine, then I’m sure that the American Cancer Society met its own goal.

For my part, as well as being grateful to and inspired by my team, I walked for those who have touched my lives who have been hit with breast cancer (and some other cancers, also). I carried a banner with the following names:

In Memory of:
Mom (although she did not die of breast cancer, she showed me how to handle it with strength and humor)
Peter’s mom

In Honor of:
Aunt Pat (x2)
Aunt Julia (chronic lymphocytic leukemia)
Cathy (ovarian)
Penny (adrenal)
Jody (glioma)
Elaine (colorectal)

And, of course, for those whom I have never met, yet who have walked, or will walk, the breast cancer journey.

Yesterday after we got home, Robin and I took a long nap, and went to bed early. I had some stiff joints and some soreness, and still do today, but other than being tired, I’m really pleased at how easy it was, and how relatively little the long walk affected me.

I celebrated by having pizza for dinner last night! After adding up all my points from yesterday (and subtracting the 4 points of activity from the walk), I only dipped into my weekly points by 1/2 point – hooray! I’ve had two weigh-ins since the last post – on Friday the 2nd, I was down 0.6 pounds, and on Friday the 9th, I was down 1.4 pounds for a total of 2 pounds in 2 weeks. Sadly, I didn’t quite make my first mini-goal of losing 10% of my weight as I had hoped to by the 9th, but I am now within 0.6 pounds of reaching it (in my last post, I said I had 2.2 pounds to go, but I was mistaken – at that point it was actually 2.6 pounds). So progress is being made, which keeps me motivated to continue the good work. I need to start thinking about what target I will choose for my next mini-goal, once I’ve hit the 10% goal. My girlfriend Laura chose her roommate’s daughter’s weight as her next goal (and already met it – yay Laura!) – I suppose I could go for losing a “Robin” of weight, but since he’s about 5 or 6 pounds overweight himself, that would mean I’d have to lose nearly 30 pounds to reach my next goal. On the other hand, I could choose a “Jasmine”, but since the little poodle barely weighs a couple tenths’ more than 9 pounds, that goal seems too close. Anyway, I guess I’ll keep thinking about a goal that is close enough to keep me motivated, without being so close that I reach it too soon – the weight of either my yarn or fabric stashes are beyond my final goal; since I’m so into books, maybe I should plan on losing the Oxford English Dictionary (in its multi-volume incarnation, not the one-volume version that comes with a magnifying glass).

Today is a “lazy” day – I’m going to try to get Robin out for a walk, assuming the weather cooperates, but other than that, I’m going to do some reading, some beading, and other than that, nothing much else.

Happy Mother’s Day to Charlene, and to Aunt Pat,

Love, Julie

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May 2008

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