Steamroller Printing with Magnetic North

This past weekend was the 2017 Portland Letterpress Printers Fair! Artists from all over Portland gathered at the Redd building in southeast Portland to share their craft, support the arts, and have a good time!

One of the main draws to the event is the steamroller printing. Studios entered to create these massive linocut stencils, which are then printed on 4×4 pieces of paper using a real steamroller! These prints are then raffled off with proceed benefitting the Portland Printmakers Alliance. (I bought 12 tickets.)

18076697_1350441028356679_9053800611537103806_o
Massive linocut by the artists at Magnetic North! (Photo courtesy of Walker Cahall)

All week I’d been stopping by Magnetic North, sometimes with planned meetings to see Walker, sometimes completely unannounced. Great people. So when I saw Walker’s picture of the final massive linocut, I knew this was going to be something special. This was sparking my creativity, how should I say, “bigly?”

This is Portland. We make art, rain or shine. For a little while at the beginning of Magnetic North’s printing session, the rain came down, so the canopies went up. It might have even hailed. But it was short lived, and in a matter of no time, we were back up and printing.

IMG_8785
A little rain wasn’t going to stop the steamrolling!

The first color the team decided to use for their print was green. (Great choice in my opinion.) Everybody chipped in with a roller, making sure the ink is nice and even.

IMG_8732
Green was the first color used.

Chances are, the paint may have been a little thick on the first one, but look at how pretty it was!

IMG_8736
Make sure you don’t miss a spot!

Once the linocut was properly inked, you move it over and place it on the plywood guide. The blue tape is for the linocut, the yellow tape is for the paper. You put a cloth over the top so the paper doesn’t get dirty or damaged.

IMG_8739
Laid down on the plywood guide to ensure the steamroller delivers an even press!

Look at all the detail, too! I love the succulents theme. It works great with the green, too!

IMG_8753
Looks centered to me!

Once everything was lined up, it was time to bring in the steamroller. Sadly, I was not allowed to drive the steamroller, or even get remotely close to the driver’s seat. It was an absolute blast to watch, and I have to admit, it’s a pretty sweet way to make large prints.

IMG_8790
The steamroller!

Once the paper is peeled up, you’ve got a beautiful finished product! Thanks boys!

IMG_8760
Successful round of printing!

The prints get put off to the side to dry, to be raffled off later!

IMG_8752
Setting the print to dry!

After we did a couple rounds of printing with the green, it was time to switch to black.

IMG_8782
After a few rounds of green ink, the team switched to black.

If there’s any extra paint on the guide or on the tape around the linocut, it could get on the paper and smudge. We had to take a quick break to scrub off some excess ink with acetone.

IMG_8777
Touch ups!

All clear!

IMG_8795
In order to keep the paper from slipping, we applied tape to the paper. Smart move!

How about a time-lapse?

12Ab4hnLuej98A

IMG_8769
Look at that pressure!

The best part about the whole steamrolling process is peeling up the print at the end. You never know what could go wrong (or right) under the press, so the final reveal is always a blast to watch.

IMG_8803
Peeling up the print is so cool!

Here’s that beautiful finished product!

IMG_8822
Beautiful final print!

As of the publishing of this post, I did not win the raffle and have yet to acquire my own print from the awesome linocut! Nevertheless, I was incredibly inspired by the creativity I saw from all the vendors at the fair and from all the prints being made and sold.

So much fun! Can’t wait to go back next year!

CHE

P.S. I want a steamroller! #bucketlist

2017, We’re Off the Blocks!

There’s an age old adage, “How you spend morning of January 1 is how you’ll spend your whole year.” Looking back over the festivities of the past couple of New Years, that might actually be true. Waking up with (or sleeping off) a painful hangover is never the best start off the blocks, but it’s something I insist on doing, year after year. Recent years had been filled with bar crawls, music festivals, and lavish hotel galas, would this year be different?

Since I’m balling on a budget, one idea was to have a house party at the place I’m currently subleasing. That wasn’t an entirely bad idea, but it was going to be a little work. Beer pong. Plastic cups. Chips. BYOB. A little hangout with some of my new friends in Portland, Oregon. That wouldn’t be so bad, right?

Another idea I had was, “Maybe I’ll just sit this one out this year.” I hadn’t had a quiet New Years in a long time… if ever. What if I did something like my 70 year old parents, and just drank champagne until the ball drops in the “Big Apple” at 9 PM then call it a year. I mean, it’s only really a special day if you make it one, right?

tumblr_oj49pyowe01rt7qgbo1_500
Scott Pemberton

The day before, my soon-to-be-roommates got a bunch of tickets to the Scott Pemberton Band show at Goodfoot Pub. I had never heard of them before, but they’re totally awesome. They’re a local Portland jam band with heavy guitar and steel drum. I was instantly hooked and danced my pants off. If you’ve got 8 minutes, watch this performance.

Around 1 AM we called it a night, but instead of going home to my empty attic space, I went to my new house and hung out with my new roommates. I slept in my new bed. I didn’t set an alarm on my phone. I didn’t have plans or need to rush out in the morning. When I woke up (around 10 AM) I was calm, stress free, and in a place that I couldn’t be happier in. A place that would help me accomplish my goals this year. I woke up on January 1, 2017 happy and inspired… okay, I had a little headache, too. Whatever. It was New Years!

As humans (because no other species on Earth celebrates New Years), we attach a lot of metaphysical importance to the changing of the years. It’s as if we’re hitting a “reset button,” but we get to start over again with all the knowledge and experience we’ve collected over time. While I know plenty of people that are “above resolutions,” I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with finding an excuse to re-evaluate and analyze your life and goals with an intent to stick through it. If it only gets done once a year, so be it.

How are you starting off this first chilly morning of 2017? Are you already hard at work on accomplishing your New Year’s Resolutions? Shoot me a message and we’ll make it happen together!

Happy New Year!
—–
Did you like this post? Check out some of our other popular Mystery Tin posts!
The A-Z of My 2016 
is my year in review mega post of 2016, complete with anecdotes, photographs, and some of my favorite songs and content from 2016.
How to Run a Successful Crowdsourcing Campaign is a fantastic overview of the nuts and bolts in running a crowdsourcing campaign.
Starting a Podcast (Network) for Under $200 on WordPress is the play-by-play I used in setting up the show MAD Potential (with Ben Mehl) on the Mystery Tin Podcast Network.

Unlimited Bowling

A friend and I went bowling this past weekend at Grand Central Bowling in Portland. It’s a dark, neon-lit bowling alley with a sports bar attached to it. There’s a few arcade games on a balcony second floor, and the air hockey table has an impenetrable plastic shield in the middle. (It’s the details that really matter.)

IMG_4547The ambiance came at a price, of course. A big one. After all was said and paid for (including a little greasing to get on the lanes early), we paid $7.00 per game. Each. That’s $0.70 per strike or $0.35 per roll, depending on how good you are at throwing a round rock down an alley while wearing borrowed sneakers. What happened to the days of unlimited bowling?

A daytime party with little kids had just ended, so we inherited a lane with the bumpers already up. Maybe it comes that way? Whatever. When it was my first bowl, I aired off my good old bowling hand and picked up a 12-pound ball.

“I think I’m gonna work on my hook shot,” I announced proudly as I prepared for glory.

I continued with my approach and, thumb loose, I released the bowling ball, spinning the hell out of it. And just like it had eyes, with no sense of direction or well being, that ball clamored its way down the alley, slamming side to side off the bumpers until it guilt-tripped a handful of feeble pins to fall over at the end. It was nothing short of embarrassing.

“I guess I forgot how hard bowling can be…” We played through another frame of pity-bowling before we opted to take the bumpers down and face our failures head on.

Honestly, I’d probably gotten a little too used to the Wii version of bowling. But that’s not really bowling. It’s a motion that, for all intents and purposes, resembles a bowling approach but when applied to actual bowling, is a surefire way to injure yourself or throw a gutter ball. It was obvious that I was supremely out of practice, which again brought me back to the idea of unlimited bowling.

Seth Godin talks about the idea of unlimited bowling with Chase Jarvis on his “30 Days of Genius” interview series. Seth touches on the old pay-by-the-game bowling days when every attempt mattered to a point of excluding risk. Right down the center of the lane is safe, and boring. Unlimited bowling is taking risks without penalty. Becoming familiar with failure. Learning from your mistakes and trying again, not because the risks are the exact same the next time, but because we live in an unlimited bowling time.

“… do we have the guts to say, ‘you know, this might not work, but I’m going to persistently, and consistently, and generously, bring it forward.'” – Seth Godin

Time moves inexorably onward toward the day we die, which is why the circumstances in which we find ourselves are rarely that of unlimited bowling. There are actual consequences to trying something new and failing, because among other things, a continuing lack of results begins to build up. But if it is our true passion we are pursuing, there’s real no downside to throwing a gutter ball or two. Your passion brings out a heightened level of focus, attention, and analyzation that surpasses anything else in your life. If you fail, if you throw a gutter ball, you will think about every part of your approach and make that note to gently turn your wrist inward before releasing. You are truly invested in the outcomes of your passion, so you are eager learn from the mistakes. Nothing’s a total loss. It’s all just practice.

Teaching ourselves to embrace each opportunity, good or bad, as a learning opportunity, as unlimited bowling, is to give ourselves the best possible chance to succeed. Not because we’ll do it right the first time, but because we have the fortitude to persevere through what appears to be yet another failure. The promise of unlimited bowling is that there’s always next time, despite what happened last frame. We may not always have that luxury in the workplace, but if you adopt the growth mindset, your past results (whatever they may be) will one day fade in importance when compared to your work that lies ahead.

The most skilled bowlers will tell you nearly every minute detail about the time they rolled their first “perfect game.” The epic 300. But they won’t bend your ear telling you about the games they bowled under 50. Or the games under 25. Or yes, even the games where they didn’t knock down a single pin because they were focused on picking up a particular split or release. And just like the most successful entrepreneurs, gutter balls are part of the learning process, so you must pick yourself up and move fearlessly on to the next frame.

It is only when you are no longer afraid of failure, that everything becomes unlimited bowling.

CHE

Bee Stings & Pollinator Scholarships

I’m allergic to bees… or at least, I used to be.

The worst time I got stung was in sixth grade. We were scheduled to take a week long trip out to Catalina Island, off the Santa Barbara coast. We’d stay there for a week, learning about plants and wildlife on the island, and aquatic sea life out in the ocean. It was a pretty sweet gig.

Sunday, the day before we were leaving, I was swimming in the pool with my neighbor Jeremy. We were racing back-and-forth in my boot shaped pool on Foothill Lane when I slapped the edge of the pool, squishing a bee and being stung in the right pointer finger, just above the seam to my hand. I iced it but the following day, my hand was really swollen. Like one of those plastic gloves you blow into to inflate. If there was ever a question before, the answer’s “yes,” I’m allergic to bees.IMG_5579

Nevertheless, I took some medication and went on the field trip out to the Island. But while I was there, on the first day, I somehow managed to lose the medication. The island’s medical staff gave me some anti-inflammatories, but nothing was helping. It continued to swell and hurt. I honestly thought my skin was going to tear open.

One night I tied my arm above my body with a string tied to the ceiling of our bungalow (or whatever kind of tent we were sleeping in). When I woke up the next morning, the swelling in my hand had gone down… down into my lower arm! I looked like Popeye with my huge forearms.

Eventually, the swelling went down, and I’m happy to say, I haven’t been stung by a bee since. I used to carry an epi-pen, but even that’s expired. But in my time away from bees, I’ve come to appreciate them so much more…

For instance… did you know that pollinators (like honey bees) are directly responsible for 70% of the food we eat? Think about that for a second. 70% of our food. Bees do that shit.

This has only recently popped back into my head because of my job at Bee Thinking. We’re manufacturers and retailers of Cedar beehives. The founder of the company, Matt Reed, was on Shark Tank last year and Beyond the Tank earlier this year. It was exciting to join a company that is growing, as a creative business and a leader in “natural beekeeping.”

12552544_10153960563162853_3895236193445091538_nThe thing that makes Bee Thinking different is our philosophy of natural beekeeping. Bees have been making honey for hundreds of thousands of years without our help or input, there’s no reason why they need us now. This means no chemicals, no queen marking, foundationless frames, screened bottoms, and the list goes on. Natural and treatment free. Other companies may offer these features, but Bee Thinking truly does it the best.

I’ve signed up to be a Brand Ambassador for Bee Thinking. I am excited about the company and I believe in it. They offer three different kinds of beehive, for the urban backyard beekeeper to the commercial apiarist. They’re made from Western Red Cedar which means they’re going to last a long time. They absolutely beautiful.

We also offer a large assortment of bee-related products. We’re talking candles, honey, books, glasses, stickers, if it’s got a bee on it, we might carry it. (Okay, may not that many things, but you should seriously check out what they carry.) But there’s some seriously cool and interesting stuff. Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 7.56.25 PM

The part that I am most excited about is that we, as brand ambassadors, are generating reveneue for Pollinator Scholarships! Bee Thinking will pledge $10 for every order over $100 made using a bee ambassador code to be put towards the pollinator scholarship program. The more ambassador codes get used, the more funds are raised!

My ambassador code is “BeeChrisE” good for 10% off!

 

Here are some of my favorite offerings from Bee Thinking:

  • Valhalla Horn Cup – I LOVE this cup. I just brought mine to What The Festival this past weekend and it was a lifesaver whenever I had to grab a drink of water! Not to mention you’re always feeling like a Viking when you have it on your hip.
  • The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Beekeeping – I read this book cover-to-cover and I found it absolutely enlightening. You don’t get weighed down in the science or the author’s opinion on how to keep bees. Simple language. Great spark!
  • Pomade – The Bees Knees pomade is no joke. It’s super sticky so it keeps really well… sometimes a little too well.
  • California Bee Sticker – Gotta keep up my home state pride! They also offer Texas, Oregon, and Washington.
  • DIY Candle Kit – Super cool gift idea. Make your own candles at home!
  • Baby Rattle – My friend Max is going to have a kid soon, and I am totally giving this to them as a gift. It’s beautiful and safe for the baby to put in their mouth. So Max, if you’re reading this, don’t buy this. Thanks.
  • Mason Bee House – If you’re not into bees, Mason Bees are definitely the way to go. They 95% pollinators and they crash land! They’re really fun to watch and this is one chic house.
  • Top Bar Hive Starter Kit – If I could have any beehive, I’d want the Kenyan Top Bar Hive. Look how gorgeous this thing is! The top bars, when filled with honey and wax, is only 7 pounds! And the display window is so cool!

There’s a TON more stuff over at their website and there’s new stuff going up all the time. But for now, if you want to help me save the bees, pick up something fun and use the coupon code “BeeChrisE” to save yourself 10%.

Don’t forget! Bees die if they sting you. If you just remain calm and don’t swat at them, they should leave as peacefully as they came. And be extra careful around open water sources… like pools.

CHE

*I wrote this blog entirely on my off-hours under no direction of Bee Thinking or any of it’s members. The opinions expressed in this blog post are strictly my own.

You Can’t Win Them All

The State of Oregon vs. [Mystery Tin] took place earlier this week, and let’s just say it did not go so well.

Background: I received a speeding ticket on January 5, 2016 on SE Hawthorne Blvd at 9:43 PM from a radar van. I was going 42 mph in a 25 zone. Yes, you read that correctly. SE Hawthorne Blvd. is a 25 mph zone.

I had a trial scheduled for 1:30 PM. The bailiffs let us into the courtroom around 1:00 PM while we prepared for our 1:30 hearings. I sat in the front row, dressed in my best suit, ready to fight my case. Around 1:20 PM, the police officers started entering the room. Now, I’m definitely not a large guy, but every single of these officers was a larger-than-life human being, and with their gear on, they easily weighed over 250 pounds each. Linebackers. And they were all bald. Weird.

One of the police officers called my name. The same officer that signed my speeding ticket. He explained to me that he was in the driver’s seat of the van that caught me speeding. He showed me pictures of me (on my cell phone) driving my car driving past the van and the subsequent paperwork that ensures that the speedometer was properly calibrated, etc.

tumblr_o97jzb8Ntm1rt7qgbo1_500I expressed my concerns about the legitimacy of the case, primarily the fact I didn’t believe the area was properly and adequately marked with the speed limit. To support my statement, I created a map (printout from Google) of SE Hawthorne Blvd and marked the 25 MPH signs on the street. There are 2. There’s a 25 mph sign at 19th & Hawthorne and another one at 34th & Hawthorne (the officer pulled up Google Maps to corroborate). That’s nearly .70 miles where there’s no clear indication of speed limit. It’s a blatant speed trap and the city of Portland knows it.

The officer told me the only thing he could do for me is to drop my speed, “but it won’t change the fine.” If dropping my speed from 42 mph to 40 mph won’t change my fine, what’s the point agreeing to the speed change? It makes no actual difference to me.

“Looks like we’re having a trial then.” The officer said as he closed his file folder. “And you should probably come up with a reason why you were on your cell phone. The judge is gonna grill you on that.”

“Thanks,” I went back and took my seat in the front row.

The Judge came into the courtroom and began the afternoon session by declaring her hopes that the defendants had ample time to speak with the ticketing officer prior to trial, ideally leading to an agreement for a “guilty” or “no contest” plea. The judge went on to mention that if anyone was choosing to take their case to trial (me), those would be heard at the end of the afternoon.

Defendant by defendant, case by case, the judge called out names and the ticketing officers made their statement on behalf of the State, having reached agreements or dismissing each case. When the Judge called my name, the Officer stood and said “We’re going to trial, your honor.”

Once the Judge moved on to the next case, I put my folder down and raced quickly out of the courtroom. I sprinted outside and ran to my car. 28 minutes left on my pass. Considering how long it could take, I added 2 more hours and tossed the new, longer pass inside my window before running back to court.

Upon re-entering the courtroom, I discovered half of the remaining defendants were already gone. The room was emptying out quick, so maybe this wasn’t going to take an additional 2 hours. The Judge continued calling names until she reached the bottom of the list.

“Now it is time for the trials.” The Judge began flipping back through the paperwork, then called my name.

I smiled, stood, and turned around to discover the courtroom was empty. I mean, completely empty. I, alone, was taking my case to trial.

I took the “whole truth and nothing but the truth” oath and sat down at the defendant’s table, with the police officer seated to my right. The Officer read his obviously canned statement, with my particular information filling in all the blanks. I was able to counter, asking questions about the brightness of the speed LED in the back window compared to the brightness of the brake lights, attempting to shed some doubt on the validity of the van’s display.

The Officer asked me, “Were you on your cell phone?”

Asshole. “Yes, for a short moment.”

When my questioning of the officer was finished, I stood and gave my recounting of the events. The “totality of the circumstances” if you will.

I pleaded with the Judge to consider how I consistently walked to work and rarely drove my car. I asked the Judge to consider the nearly 3/4 mile stretch of Hawthorne Blvd. without appropriate signage (yet did not accept or look at my evidence when I attempted to submit it). I asked the Judge to take a look at the misinformation on my ticket. I asked the judge to dismiss my case.

Then the Judge made her ruling…

“Mr. Eaton, I find the State has sufficiently made their case, so I’m finding you guilty of driving 42 miles per hour in a 25 mph zone. I am imposing the maximum fine of $160…” Damn.

The Judge went on, “Furthermore, if you had been cited for the multiple infractions you admitted to today, including speaking on your cell phone and an illegal U-turn, your fine would be closer to $600. You expect everybody else to abide by the rules while you don’t think they apply to you.” (The Judge really said that.)

“Excuse me, your honor. Would you mind clarifying the U-turn for me?” I asked.

The Judge looked at the Police Officer then back at me. “You know what? Why don’t I send you to traffic school?”

“Good idea.” The Officer next to me chimed in. Again, dick?

“That way, you can learn the rules for driving in Oregon and here in Portland. If you do not go to traffic school, your fine will be $220, otherwise, the $160 with traffic school.”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, for as “welcoming” as Portland claims to be, they really hate people from California.

She rapped her gavel. “Next case!”

“Thank you, your Honor.”

You can’t win them all, but you definitely can’t win when you don’t try. See you in Traffic School!

 

Saying “No” to Projects

As an eager entrepreneur, you’ll be asked for your opinion/participation in a number of projects. Initially, it’s a good idea to say “yes” because you have no idea what that project could lead to down the line. You never know which opportunities could open the door to another, better opportunity. You just don’t know, so you just can’t risk it.

I was recently approached about joining with some guys in starting another record label. A local Portland musician has a growing following and an awesomely loyal group of his friends and confidantes want to help push him over the edge into stardom. They’d heard about my experience in the music industry, KMD Music, and my eclectic skill set, and they wanted me to come on board.

I was flattered, so my immediate response was “I’m in.”

tumblr_nh8cywxuI21rt7qgbo1_500Then reality set in. Where was I going to find the
time to run a record label? I’m finding it hard enough to keep my ducks in a row as is. Based on my experiences with KMD Music, there are a ton of things I would do differently if I had the chance. This could be that second chance, but more importantly, if I was to make those changes, I would need that much more time to ensure I did those things correctly. And what about the things I’ll be learning about, and dealing with, for the first time along the way? Is this learning bell curve really something I should commit to right now?

When you say “yes” to something, you are promising your best involvement at any cost. That’s why they ask you. You will execute on your tasks to the best of your ability, but what if your ability isn’t what it should be? I know music. I know music business. But I don’t know Portland’s music scene. And I haven’t been active in the music industry for almost ten years. A startup podcast network is one thing, but running a record label in a music scene I’m completely unfamiliar with is an entirely different challenge. Quite simply, it’s asking for failure.

It’s not that this new record label is going to fail per se (although statistically speaking…), but my real hesitation is more about a failure to achieve my own standards of work. I, like you, take pride in my work and always strive to put my best effort into something I put my name on. Your best work requires your full attention, desire, and commitment. If I don’t have a full blown desire, I can’t be confident in my work product because I won’t give it my full time and attention. It all starts with desire and passion for the project.

So I’ve come up with a good barometer for involving myself in new projects. I have to believe, in my core, that my best work will benefit the project in a way that only I can provide. If not, I gotta pass.

So I’m saying “no” to the record label project for now. Do I feel bad about it? Kinda. Will I regret it? Probably. Am I interested in hearing about the next project? Absolutely.

When have you had to say “no” to a project?

CHE

Analyzing My Spending Habits

I conducted a little experiment this past week to examine my spending habits, attempting to find all the indulgences that I spend my money on in an effort to curb frivolous spending.

Since I got paid on Friday, we’ll start with the expenses incurred since leaving work on Friday afternoon.

tumblr_nwjokbQS6W1rt7qgbo1_500Friday
$13.25 – Happy Hour
$32 – Dinner Date. I ate an overly expensive fish sandwich and had two beers, including tip.)
$2 – Buck Hunter. No further discussion required.
Total: $47.25

Look, you get your paycheck, the first thing you do is treat yourself. Truth be told, I thought the fish sandwich was $10.99, rather than $16.99. (I won’t make that mistake twice.) Also, I made the top 5 list on Buck Hunter. Solid performance.

Saturday
$4.50 – Frozen Pizza.
$7.49 – Bacon. For breakfast.
$1.50 – Redbox Movie Rental.
$1.99 – Hummus
$2.99 – Charles Shaw Cabernet
$2.99 – Eggless Mayonnaise
$13.03 – Beef Tri Trip
$3.49 – Southwest Salad
$0.78 – Lemons
$0.89 – Popcorn
$4.99 – Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream
Total: $44.64

We split the groceries up, so don’t think that I just survive on bacon, hummus, and two-buck chuck. These are just my half of the items. I have no real excuse for the late night ice cream.

Sunday
Total: $0.00

Grocery shopping has it’s perks, including these $0.00 days. Sure, you’re not having a freshly cooked lunch, but sometimes a reheated bowl of elbow pasta is exactly what the doctor ordered. Even more so, with a sub-par lunch, you’re gonna appreciate your dinner that much more. 

Monday
Total: $0.00

Holy shit! Salad for lunch is not so bad. Had a little hot chocolate in the afternoon for energy (instead of a Red Bull), and worked through our groceries. It feels good to end another day in the green.

Tuesday
$8.19 – 4 pack of Red Bull
$18.59 – Blue Moon Variety 12-pack
Total: $26.78

Okay, okay. So I caved on the Red Bulls, but more importantly, beverages. I’m always sipping on something. I talk a lot, so I need to keep my mouth properly lubricated (that sounded gross). Anyway, in the morning, it’s coffee. In the afternoon, it’s something sweet and sugary. In the evening, it’s alcohol. Rarely, if ever, is it just water. I know that’s not good for me, but I’m working on drinking more water, okay? And who do you think you, Dr. Oz?

Wednesday
$20.00 – Happy Hour (4 drinks, 2 grilled cheese, 1 salted pretzel)
Total: $20.00

You can’t stay cooped up inside all day, and when your buddy’s having a tough go at life, you’ve gotta hit up the local happy hour and throw back a few $2 mixed drinks. Sound too good to be true? It’s not. Hit me up, I’ll take you over there.

Thursday
$2.38 – Hot & Spicy Ramen
$6.99 – 1 lb. of Starbucks Coffee
$1.50 – 2 donuts
$8.00 – Snacks + 22 Ounce Coca-Cola
$5.99 – Toilet Paper
$9.78 – Tomatoes, Popcorn, Egg Dying Kit
Total: $34.64

This is one of those days that could have been cheap, but it turns out the exact opposite. I had a few small things on my list, but one thing leads to another, and suddenly, you’re completely out of toilet paper and have to waddle into the kitchen to for a stolen Taco Bell paper napkin. Yeah, Thursday was one of those days.

Friday
$12.00 – Two Hot Dogs at the Bernie Sanders Rally!
$6.25 – Greens
Total: $18.25

tumblr_o4m8wq391h1rt7qgbo1_500Some events come along once in a lifetime. I’ve been pretty active about politics lately, and when I heard that Bernie Sanders was doing a rally at the Moda Center in Portland, I had to go. As much as I wanted to save some money, I had to cave in and buy some hot dogs. We were there for 4 hours before he even took the stage so to say I was hungry is an understatement. Nevertheless, the #birdiesanders rally was amazing… and free!

Total Week Spending: $191.56, or $23.95/day

[NOTE: Oregon has no sales tax. If I conducted this experiment living in California, I would have spent an additional $19.15 in taxes, bringing the total to $210.71., or $26.33/day.]

I was surprised to see how much money I spent over the last week, and honestly, that was truthfully all of it. I purchased an airplane ticket to Cabo San Lucas, which was an extra $400. So yeah, it was a rather spendy week to be conducting this little accounting experiment. Nevertheless, I think that even if I had recorded an “average” week for me (8 days really), it probably would have come in around $150, or $18.75/day. I’m perfectly content spending less than $20/day in my life, but for some reason $25 seems too much.

What am I buying?

Home Supplies: $8.29
Entertainment: $8.38
Snacks: $14.00

Food: $76.19
“Drinks:” $87.90

There it is. Concrete evidence that I drink too much. In my own defense, I am considering “drinks” to include beer, soda, and coffee, so I’m not exactly a wagon candidate. Nevertheless, I do pay too much for drinks, sodas in the afternoon and beers at the bar. I could probably remedy this by buying in bulk (like I tried to with the Red Bulls) but I just end up giving them away (like I did with the Red Bulls). If I have it, I’m going to drink it. 

I guess I need to get used to tea. Or just water. Ugh. It’s boring just thinking about it.

CHE

 

Who’s the Robber?

On Saturday night, I was mistaken for a robber.

Let me paint the picture for you… It was a dark and stormy night (no really, it was). Baby Chips and I were about to sit down to embark on “The Godfather Epic,” the seven hour retelling of The Godfather Parts I & II in chronological order. Before accepting this daunting challenge, we needed to stock up on supplies, particularly some Coppola Sauvignon Blanc, preferably a 2012 but I can’t really afford to be picky these days.

Just after 5 PM, I bundled up in a dark hoodie and beanie and burst out of my apartment building into the downpour. I sprinted to the corner, ran across the street, and waited for the light to change to head across the other street to the “corner store.” When the light changed, I ran across the parking lot towards the store.

As I quickly approached the front door, there was another patron walking up. An older white guy. He saw me running and made eye contact with me, then stopped. He put his hands in the air, asking, “Are you going to rob the place? I’ll just wait out here.”

Wait… what? Me?

I’m running quickly toward a store and that’s interpreted by this guy as a sign that I’m going to rob the place? I’m in here at least three times a week. I know (almost) everybody who works here. If this was his neighborhood (like I consider it mine), I’d probably have seen him around. But perhaps most importantly, I’m NOT A ROBBER! So where did this foundationless accusation come from?

This is Portland, Oregon. 43% of residents have a college degree or higher. The average income is $31,839. The average house value is over $350k and the average monthly rental is $1074 (probably higher in my neck of the woods). On the other end of the spectrum, 17.8% of residents live below the poverty line (currently the US FPL is roughly $12k/year for individuals and just under $16k/year for families). And the most uncomfortable-to-admit statistic? Over 77% of Portlandians are white. (More Portland statistics available here.)

I am a 30 year-old white male with a college education and a “lifestyle” job. I pay slightly more than the average rent in Portland and, as a small business owner, I also pay my fair share of taxes. While relatively strapped for cash at the moment, I squarely fit the definition of someone who would not rob liquor stores when the going gets tough. Quite frankly, neither does Portland.

Oregon was the most “moved to” state in the United States last year (2015). Gentrification, that dirty word, is very real here, and as a recent “refugee” myself to the Hawthorne neighborhood in Portland, I very well could be part of that problem. I’m willing to bet my bottom dollar, so was this guy.

Look around, dude! You’re in Southeast Portland now. We’re too busy listening to vinyl, waxing our mustaches, and smoking cigarettes outside these artisanal food trucks to be committing robberies. The real question is…

Are you here to rob the place?

Turning 30 Years Old

“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” – Joseph Campbell

Last week I turned 30 years old. This was a major milestone in my life, one I’d (honestly) been fearing for a while now. Growing up, I always thought turning 30 meant I’m “old,” as if there’s some magical precipice of life when you’ve gone through 10,950 days, and now it’s “all downhill from here.” Maybe. Maybe not.

tumblr_nshg3mLVzL1rt7qgbo1_500It’s hard not to compare yourself against societal benchmarks. Juxtaposing my life against my parents is one drastic comparison. At 30 years old, both of my parents were married (to other people). My mother already had two children, and my father was already deeply ingrained in his legal practice. Oh yeah, and he’d already owned his first house for nearly four years.

But for a more modern dose of humility, all I have to do is scroll my Facebook newsfeed. My elementary school friends, my high school friends, and my college friends, have all found their way in life. Many are married and have families of their own. My friends are buying their first homes, or celebrating work anniversaries of nearly a decade. Pictures of decadent vacations and new cars catch hundreds of “likes” on social media (including my own).

Perhaps I don’t have one of those lives worthy of broadcasting. I don’t have a wife, or a family, or a brand new car. I don’t have a single occupation. I haven’t been out of the country in nearly seven years. I don’t have a deep savings account (under $100) and I don’t have investments in stocks and bonds. I don’t have the biggest, best things that money can buy.

What I do have is something else, something intangible. While many were slaving away at their desks earning overtime pay, I was exploring my potential in the world around me. I was experimenting, trying, testing, and living my life the way I’ve wanted to. I’ve always treated work as someone “leasing” my time, and when that relationship has run it’s course, I pull the ejector seat. It’s time to find something new.

It’s this perspective on the journey that brought me here now, but it was not always that way. I’ve had many directions and goals at different times of my life, and having those is what has made me the man I am today.

tumblr_nf3eh9afPA1rt7qgbo1_500


ONE YEAR AGO. In the fall of 2014, I had just moved back down to Southern California with the intent of continuing my screenwriting while coaching lacrosse at Calabasas High School. I was living in my parent’s guest house, commuting 625 miles per week down to Los Angeles, mostly because the price of living in LA was too expensive for my meager coaching pay. The price of gas was, believe it or not, cheaper.

Just one year ago, I believed I was on the verge of breaking into the film industry. I had “won” entry into a screenwriting competition and there was some positive attention on my scripts. I reached out to a number of my contacts in Los Angeles for help (who volunteered to be an aid), but sadly, when push really came to shove, nobody responded. I wasn’t asking people to slide my latest script under executive doors, I was asking for a couch to sleep on.

The “everybody’s gotta hustle” mentality of Los Angeles ultimately left a bad taste in my mouth. I’ve never shied away from hard work, but I am the first to shy away from a community that doesn’t support it’s own. It felt as though there was no camaraderie amongst the “struggling,” just an overall saturation of “figure it out yourself.” Flat out, I didn’t want to be a part of it anymore.

935073_10201270385466157_1792649498_n


TWO YEARS AGO. In the fall of 2013, I was working as the Sales & Marketing Coordinator at Circus Center in San Francisco, California. In addition to my administrative role, I was also training in acrobatics with Master Lu Yi. I was living with my girlfriend, coaching lacrosse in the afternoons, and writing screenplays at night. I had a solid group of friends from high school and college living in the Bay Area, so there was no shortage of good times. Life was moving along with pretty smooth sailing.

At that time, my longterm vision of myself was deeply routed in where I was at the time. I loved working at the Circus, and training was (arguably) my favorite thing to do. I envisioned myself splitting my time between circus, writing, coaching lacrosse and my rich personal life. I had visions of being a stay-at-home dad… a happy stay at home dad. (This is still my dream).

But things change. And people change. I changed. A good life of being “content” wasn’t something I aspired for anymore, and in the months after my 28th birthday, my life changed forever.

302050_722265826689_949902348_n


FIVE YEARS AGO. I wore a suit and tie to work every single day. I was living in downtown San Francisco in an apartment with two other Chrisses (is that what you call a group of Chris?), walking to the Financial District for my work as a civil litigation paralegal. I had deferred from law school for a year, and for a job for Drexel Bradshaw. For my birthday, my crew of faithful cohorts and I took a trip to Las Vegas.

I had been writing screenplays for a little over a year, but it was around my birthday that I won an award in the West Field Screenwriting Awards. I would race home from work and spend my nights writing screenplays. I wasn’t sure whether or not I wanted to return to law school or build a little savings. In the end, I spent a majority of the money I made going to Giants baseball games. I was also on Mythbusters that fall (kinda embarrassing).

This was the brief stint when I believed I could go into law and be successful. I imagined moving back to Santa Barbara, taking over my father’s criminal defense practice, and living in Ojai, writing on the weekends.

229447_508505459034_5754_n


TEN YEARS AGO. Sophomore year at St. Lawrence University was a pivotal year for me. I was 20 years old, already a “brother” in my fraternity, and I had just started my record label, KMD Music. I recently switched my major from Economics to Music, and I was living in the fraternity’s “triple,” the largest room in the house.

Back then, I still wanted to go into the music industry. I had just spent the summer interning at Vagrant Records and I was waiting on 1200 copies of Rock The Cure. I was in Canton, New York, which is not the mecca of the music entertainment industry, but I was still convinced I could take my liberal arts education and make a ripple in the industry.

tumblr_mz58av5n3k1rt7qgbo1_500


FIFTEEN YEARS AGO. The Lower School, back then, could be aptly described as a bomb shelter, perfect for adolescent boys away from their parents for the first time. As a freshmen boy at The Thacher School, I lived under special circumstances. Check in. Classes. Horseback riding. Camping. Feed your horse before you feed yourself.

At fourteen, I don’t think I had long term perspective on what my life was going to be. I knew I loved music, but everything I was going to experience over the next few years would definitely impact how I approached the rest of my life. I didn’t really know what to expect back then. The only thing I knew was that my father had gone to this same boarding school, and we both had Marvin Shagam as a Latin teacher.

I wanted to go into Politics.

tumblr_nmx0fxlNsY1rt7qgbo1_500


TWENTY YEARS AGO. In 1995, I was a mature ten year old attending Marymount School in Santa Barbara. I was starting to play tennis a lot, but I just tried to stay busy. The year before I lost my brother and I had really hard time dealing with it. I felt there was a cloud hanging over my life that year. Our family received so much love and support from our friends and neighbors, that we were able to make it out of that first year intact. I don’t remember many specifics about that year, just the hurt. I knew when I grew up, I didn’t want to feel that way again.

I think I wanted to be an astrophysicist.

tumblr_mv6txtZq6O1rt7qgbo1_500


THIRTY YEARS AGO. On October 24, 1985 at 5:12 PM, my parents and brothers were at Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara watching the World Series, waiting for my arrival. I was my mother’s third child, so she figured it was going to go smoothly, which thankfully it did. We were home by the time the game was over (or so they tell me). I can’t imagine my mother thought we’d be here today, 30 years later.


tumblr_nwsetfBntt1rt7qgbo1_500NOW? Now I’m here in Portland, Oregon. I’m splitting my time between Real Estate administration (with my old friend Beth Bonita from Marymount!) and my own entrepreneurial activities, including the Mystery Tin Podcast Network and the Dinner’s Ready! card game. I’m living with my girlfriend, Brittany, and our kitten Tundra.
The future is relatively uncertain, which of my paths I will continue down, but that doesn’t concern me yet. It may not be what I had in mind just a few short years ago, but for right now, it’s perfect.

Right where I want to be.

CHE

P.S. In not such an important milestone, this was my 100th blog post on TheMysteryTin.com. Thank you to all the readers over the last few years. I hope I’ve brought you some kind of enjoyment or inspiration. Thanks again for reading.