Category Archives: Portland

A New Schnikism: Ken

I’ve got a great job. But, it’s hard work. And tonight, I stayed late, frustrated that some seemingly simple task was taking me forever and keeping me from spending time with my loved ones. So frustrated, was I, when I left work that in my head I was talking to myself as I walked to the bus, trying to think of a way to make it better. I entrenched in my thoughts, angered, tired and ready to go home.

As I walked, man stopped me on the street. He held up a paper and I immediately thought he was asking for directions. Impatiently I listened to him, looking for a way to cut him off as he launched to his tale of how he was down on his luck, really tired of living on the streets and trying to get into a local work program. One that would allow him to stay off the streets, get a shower, shave and regular haircuts.  At first, I just wanted him to stop talking and let me say, “I’m sorry, I can’t help,” so I could get on my way. I was cold and tired, ready to go home.

As I listened to his story, there was something about him; his honesty, his frankness, and a little something in his eyes as he looked me square in mine. “Tonight, I’m just trying to get a bed at a hostel for the night. I have spent all day gathering cans and bottles and have worked my way to up to five bucks. I know you’re busy, I know you want to get home, I just need a few bucks so I can reach my goal.”

While he was speaking, it sunk in; I have a great life, I have had some amazing things happen to me this year. I have been blessed and I have been fortunate. Before he could finish, I reached for my wallet and handed him the last cash I had, it was only fifteen bucks, a moment earlier I was trying to decide if I was going to stop at Starbucks for my five-dollar coffee. I thought spending my money this way was a much better investment.

When I handed him the money, he looked at me with a bit of astonishment and gratitude. He stuck out his hand and shook mine. “Thank you sir, my name is Ken and I really appreciate your generosity. Thank you for believing in me, I won’t let you down. Merry Christmas.”

It took me a moment to catch my breath, I wished him a Merry Christmas as well and headed on my way to catch my bus. In that moment, my whole night changed.

I know you won’t Ken.


Wow. Discrimination in Portland.

Collective house by Alberta

This was spotted on Craigslist. Can you see the discrimination?

Why Won’t You Let Me Give You Money?

I’ve been working with an organization though my workplace. We (my company) have been trying to find a way to offer some sort of sponsorship or partnership, and since the budget was tight, I’ve been exploring it on my own before presenting it to those who sign the checks.

My first message went to a friend over social media. I prefaced the statement with: “We don’t have a lot of money to spend, but we’re looking for creative ways to offer up a partnership.” The response I got was a form letter and WAY out of our price range. So, I appraised my supervisors and backed off of it since this event really doesn’t benefit our company in any way. It’s just industry related, and therefore, something we would have liked to be involved in.

Fountains of change venetian hotel las vegas

Then, I mentioned my beleaguered attempts to a friend of mine, who was closer to this organization than I was, who must have relayed the message to someone in their organization because they reached out to me via email, We set a conference call time that was mutually agreeable and I planned my day’s schedule around it. Then, I sat at my desk at the prescribed time and waited… and waited… and waited until the end of my workday. Nothing, no email, no call, no tweet… So I wrote it off.

I got an email response the next day apologizing for the day getting away from them and no attempt to reschedule. Until now that the event is getting closer.

I’ve spoken with my managers and we’ve all agreed on the same thing, we shouldn’t have to badger a company to give them money. We wanted to do something, instead, we’re going to stay on the sidelines, save our money and put it to better uses other places that really benefit our customers.

This was a great moment to gain exposure and while it doesn’t really benefit us in the short or long term, it’s industry and something we were happy to make a big deal out of, now we’re not.

Empty hallway

Do you or your company make it really hard for your customers or partners to give you money? Phone trees that add 6 or 7 layers just to get to someone who wants to take your credit card over the phone is extremely cost prohibitive. Making it harder for customers to give you their money makes them realize, every time, how much they don’t want to give you their money and they just might go somewhere else with their money. Think about that.


It’s so hard to say “no.”

I’m a social creature by nature, contrary to as much as I bemoan them, I really do love the company of others. I like being in the thick of things and one of the hardest things for me to say when asked about attending events is: “No.”

But, I find myself having to do it more and more often. With my blistering work/school/home schedule the more I say “Yes,” the more I neglect something else. It’s hard to find balance. Take today, for example, I’m having a really tough time grasping some subjects in my math class and I haven’t been dedicating enough time to studying it or researching it so I really have been beating myself up about not understanding it, (that’s another personality/psychology trait we’ll probably talk about later) and I find myself wanting to do anything but chain myself to my desk to learn it. So, I forced myself to sit down and study the topic. This took 8 full hours today. It’s been extremely painful.

Sunset, Ocean, Reflection, Beach

The sun is shining, I have friends in town that I never get to see and yet, I have to say no. I have to stay home and knuckle down, pull out my hair, and maybe even sob a little as I try to understand what the hell I’m learning in school and the things I’m learning in life.

I know that “No” is a fairly powerful word and should be used often and appropriately. But, sometimes it’s easier and more fun to say yes and go play.

Instead I sit here, inside, reading about equations, fractions and negative exponents. All things I’d much rather forget.

How do you motivate yourself to do something you have absolutely no desire to do when there are more fun alternatives?

Let me take you on a (hash)capade (let’s go)

I’m pretty excited, My friend Clark Haass has been working on this epic hash-adventure and I’ve been along for the ride.

Today, he launched his new site and this epic new video entitled “Think Outside The Can.” Who knew there were so many ways to cook potato hash?

Check out his new video!

Poor Customer Service …At Least the Food Was Good

I just got back from having brunch with a rather large group. I’ve been to a Hashcapade before, my friend Clark puts these on as a way to get together, eat good food and enjoy the company of friends. This one was a special event to preview his new video (to be released this week!) and they created, with the help of the executive chef, a masterful set of hash options.

Here’s the thing: This event had been planned for at least 30 days. I got my invitation in the end of March. Now, when I look at the Facebook invitation; I see that 9 RSVP were “Yes” and 3 marked themselves as “Maybe” – When I got to The Mark Restaurant – inside the Shilo Inn on Canyon Road, in Beaverton – I was the 16th person to arrive. Now, since they had a table set up for eighteen, you’d think they would have imagined they would be busy.

…Unfortunately not. The hardest part for me to believe in this whole situation, was that they didn’t expect this kind of thing. Again, never mind that the reservation has been in the books for 30 days, that the executive chef prepared a special menu and one of their host employees was at another table, completely unaware of the lack of service.

There were a couple of moments which really stuck with me. The group I was seated with all work in the service industry, from a customer service representative to a director of hotel events; we know service and this wasn’t it.
A couple of the more quotable exchanges:

“I’m sorry we don’t have enough menus, this is all we have.” – Your restaurant has 100 seats, you should have enough menus.
Q: “Do you have anything that can make this bloody mary any better? A: “No.”
“I’m sorry, we’re out of a lot of things, you guys came at a really hard time for us.” – See above about a reservation.


Aside from those things, the server asked names for all the checks, which is the smart thing to do when you have a large group, however, none of those names were correct when the food came out: Nick became Mick, Ryan/Bryan, Lydia (Who spelled out her name) became Lybia (and hilarity ensued,) then Lars came out of nowhere, and even our host’s name was incorrect.

In the service industry, where I’ve spent most all of my career, it’s the little things that make the biggest difference, it’s those little things that make you remember, or run screaming from, a service based company. I loved the breakfast I had, and normally I would be on the side of a server who was taking care of 16 people at once, except she wasn’t. When asked for a manager, she said she was the manager.. “Amongst other things.” If you’re the manager, then you’d know when your service needed a little work, I’d hope.

The comedy of errors would have been funny, except they were all-consuming. At the bottom line, at least the food was good, even if the service wasn’t.

Teachers Matter

Subtext: the right teachers matter.

We all know I’m currently in college. I’ve had the experience of good teachers and very BAD teachers. There are all types of teachers and usually the good ones leave and do something different/better and the bad ones get tenure? No, I’m kidding, that’s purely in jest. I’ve had my fair share of bad/poor teachers in community college. There are plenty of teachers who are just phoning it in and don’t care what you learn, just so they can tick things off on their, created by someone else, lesson plans. Those teachers hurt, they hurt my bank account, they hurt the college image and they hurt the quality of degrees.

But – good teachers matter. I’m sure we’ve all heard me bemoan my absolute dislike for math and having to learn it all over again. That’s actually where I got this post idea. I was sitting in my math class this week, and realized, the reason I like this teacher, compared to the one I had last term in which I dropped the class because I wasn’t getting it, was that he has an enthusiasm for the subject, he enjoys math. I mean, he’s REALLY jazzed on math. I don’t know what kind of person in this world likes math, some certainly warped people, indeed. Though, he may be warped, I’m learning and I have the energy to try harder, study more, and the confidence to ask more questions.

Teacher perspective
(Photo credit: Krugazor – Creative commons via Flickr)

I’ve also had a great teacher in my speech class. Now, speech (public speaking) is something that comes easy to me. The first couple times with the data, I tend to be a little rigid, but then I loosen up, get someone to smile, do the song and dance, and have a great time with it. That makes it worth it. My speech teacher, only teaches on weekends, has a full-time job in the meantime, and does this because she loves to talk in front of people (and realizes she’s a bit of a ham!), and loves to help people through – what is normally – a very difficult class. I wish she taught other subjects, I’d take the classes just for the enthusiasm. It was well worth coming in on Saturday mornings to speak in front of a group of strangers!

The third teacher I really like is my current science teacher. A professional in the industry she teaches in, she realizes that not everyone is going to be a scientist, she also realizes that most of us are not science majors; that’s refreshing from a teacher. A teacher who understands that we’re trying to take the least painful requirements and can scale their presentations to bring it to a level that we become interested in and understand how these things affect our life. And she’s great in a nerdy fun way. I can appreciate nerdy fun. 🙂

Falling teacher
(Photo credit: Pitel – Creative Commons via Flickr)

I think the key in all cases, has been: Enthusiasm. When you’re faced with that kind of enthusiasm, you find yourself wanting to try harder, work harder to understand. It’s matching that enthusiasm, even when you’re completely exhausted from the full workday, you still strive to make it through, and if you’re like me, you want a good grade; Yes, teachers do matter.