Thursday, May 29, 2008

Avocations of Abnormality

There are two things that I am passionate about that have little practicality. The news and the German language. But, on very rare occassion, my knowledge about the German langauge or the news will benifit me and ultimately validate my attempted hipness.

Case One

Once upon a time Jan (Alissa's friend) had been rummaging through some old stuff in his parent's house. He came upon a strange white looking dish. His wife and him were curiously examining it, wondering what it might be. The word "senf" was written on the side of this mysterious ceramic thing. But then Alissa piped up "Oh senf means mustard in German." Using her deductive-reasoning skills and her knowledge of the German language, Alissa solved the case. The mysterious dish was an old mustard-dish hailing from a German speaking land.

Case Two

Recently Nepal has announced to the world that they are no longer a monarchy. After over 200 years of monarch ruling, this small nation too has claimed their independance. Yeah, well, so what? How does this pertain to us Americans? Well, it doesn't really...unless of course, you happen to be buying a coffee from a Napalese person and you can casually say "Hey, I heard your country claimed independance." The response will be a surprised smile.

So, if you ever feel like your strange interests aren't getting you anywhere. If you are asking yourself "Why am I learning everything I can about the Polish banking system?" or "Why do I bother learning Bantu?" Well, don't stop with your eccentric hobbies, they might just come up one day.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Caught in the Act of Looking

This afternoon, I had a few spare moments as I was waiting for by bus, which wasn't scheduled to arrive in 45 minutes (and they profess that Portland has some of the best public transportation in the country. Cha!). After having been to the Farmers Market and purchasing some local spinach and zucchini, I thought it wise to sit down and read a textbook for my history class. So I found a nice bench, under a massive well-established tree and cracked the book open. But I became distracted because there was just too much to see.

Instead of being the studious student, I decided I would quietly observe life on my bench. So, here is what I saw today between 1:00 and 1:30 in the park blocks.

Several people walked by in either Dansko clogs or Keens. Very Portland.

A mother and her young-questioning-son passed. I overheard a sound bite of their dialog.
Mom: "Well then we might get a ticket."
Son: "What happens when you get a ticket?"
Mom: "You have to pay a lot of money."

Approximately five people walked by talking to a device in their hand: the cell phone.

A middle-aged man with walking shoes, khakis and a beret strolled by. His hands were in his pockets and he looked directly at the ground when walking.

Pigeons pecked the brown bricks searching for remnants of perhaps...a french fry.

I made eye contact with what was most likely a student at PSU. She looked away and so, then I did too. But then I was reminded of wisdom an older relative passed onto me. When making eye contact with strangers, relax. Don't look away in shame as if to say "Sorry that you caught me looking at you." Looking at people shows and interest in people...and I am interested in people, so it's all good if I look at them and they catch me. So after I remembered that, I smiled at people who caught me looking at them.

As a full-time, working student, I rarely get time to literally stop at smell the flowers, or in this case, sit on a park bench and quietly witness life taking place right in front of my eyes. However, my bus did eventually come and away I went.
Watching people is fun; you should try it.