Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Alternative Funeral Options

I know this sounds a little bit on the gruesome side, but I just ran across a new 100% environmentally friendly coffin sold by a company called Ecopods. They are made out of 100% recycled paper, and the design was inspired from the shape of a seed pod, and the shape of Egyptian coffins. They come in red, green, blue and gold leaf, and have the option of silk-screened designs on the lid. It seems like a perfect fit for us granola eating, recycling happy, environmentally active Northwesterners.

The pods were designed by Hazel Selina who worked for years as a mid-wife helping people bring new life onto the planet. As she began to age and saw her family grow older her attention turned to death. A close friend she was caring for was dying, and that started her thinking about funerals and coffins in particular.

I know my parents have been dealing with aging family and friends reaching this point, and it's not a fun thing to think about. There is a growing trend among people who were the pioneers in leaving a light footprint on the earth through recycling, natural foods, and green practices, to start looking at alternatives when it comes to the end of their lives. The flower children of the sixties are now becoming the caretakers of the 00's, and the baby boomers are starting to face the reality of their own mortality.

As a result, this demographic is taking a more active role in deciding how they want their lives and deaths celebrated when it's time to go. There is a growing trend for party planners specializing in funerals, or as they like to call it "life events." It makes sense. There are as many details that go into planning a funeral, or wake, or whatever type of service one chooses to have, as there are in planning a wedding. One guy in Massachusetts who drove an ice cream truck all his life, had an ice cream truck at his gravesite serving the mourners. People have had marching bands, Native American Rituals, and recently one woman chose to be mummified so her spirit could get used to the adjustment before she was reincarnated. Many people are choosing to be cremated, or buried in alternative sites such as wooded areas where a tree is planted next to their grave as a marker.

The Ecopods are only available in the UK, but it seems like some smart entrepreneur in the Northwest might want to jump on this and create their own product in the states. I think they're a cool idea. Her website is http://ecopod.co.uk/.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Bartender on Bartender Action

I was over at Aztec Willies in NE Portland a couple of Saturdays ago getting some blood money from my ex-husband. We have been going there for over 11 years, and it's sort of a neutral ground for us, so it seemed a safe place to meet. Our friend K. bartends there, and is a very good, very friendly, very efficient bartender. She knows how to pour a drink, and can keep the flow going when she's swamped.

It's an eastside bar, and during the day is a mix of old and young, multi-cultured, single, married, divorced, coupled people. It's usually a mellow place to hang out. They have salsa on the weekends, so the crowd radically shifts, but for the most part it's a hang out for the regulars after work.

On this particular Saturday people were starting hard-core by 2:00pm. There was a five-top of ex-biker babes slamming margaritas, some sad writer in the corner drinking jaeger shots with Papbst backs, and a group of overmetrosexualized men, and their Pussy Cat Dolls wannabe friend sitting at the bar being complete shits. They were sending their drinks back, telling K. they weren't strong enough, being rude to the mostly hispanic staff trying to help K. get set up, and just being complete twunts. I was trying to figure out what the deal was, and then in overhearing their conversation found out they were all bartenders from the westside. Their kind usually don't make it over to the eastside establishments.

There has been on ongoing discussion in a couple of the Portland blogs about tipping and treating service industry people with a modicum of respect. What I don't understand is bartenders going to other people's bars and acting like assholes to the barstaff. It's pretty much a given if you complain about your drinks not being strong enough they are just going to get weaker. If you grab the barback who barely speaks english, and tell him to "fix my drink, this one isn't good enough" while the bartender is in back getting ice, he'll do it, but he'll also tell the bartender in spanish exactly what you did. You would think these people would know this and act accordingly.

I don't know if they are frustrated with having to serve the bitchy westside women who get drunk on two appletinis, or whatever the latest trendy drink is, and then go skin surfing in their Manolo Blahnik's once they're out the door. It also may be a heightened sense of self-worth when these women sit and flirt with them, or their husbands flirt with them in a desperate attempt to see if all the botox, facelifts, bulimia, hairplugs, etc. are achieving the desired effect.

This is not a common occurance. The Portland service community is very supportive, and normally bartenders are going to be some of the better tippers, and treat their fellow bartenders with the respect they deserve. For some reason it just seems that a small group of self-involved jerks seem to choose Aztec. I can't tell if it's because it's sort of an upscale bar that doesn't take itself too seriously, or that it's just on the eastside of town. I've seen the same type of person knock over an ashtray, breaking it and spilling cigarette butts all over the floor, and tell the bartender they need to stop what they're doing and clean up the mess. I've seen them bring an almost completely empty giant margarita to the bar and inform the bartender that there wasn't enough alcohol in the drink and they want a refund. It's truly appaling. I have had to mouth off to some of these idiots because the bartenders can't say or do anything about it.

My whole point is treat your fellow bartenders with some respect. If you are a customer, and you're sitting watching any of this type of behavior, call them on it. So what if they give you a dirty look or tell you to mind your own business. I can tell you that the majority of these people are not regulars, and the bartender is not going to be upset if they lose this person's business. You might even get a free shot out of the deal from the other customers who are just trying to enjoy themselves and don't want to put up with a bunch of bratty behavior. Also, just because someone kisses your ass trying to get free drinks or your phone number you aren't a god or a goddess, you are a bartender, so show some respect to your brethren.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

I'm Expanding My Horizons

I broke down and set up a MySpace account with my portfolio, and links to my oddball friends. The address is www.myspace.com/kymb44. You have to have an account to tap into the pictures.

I've also started blogging on Metroblogging Portland http://portland.metblogs.com so I can instantly receive insults when I post items. I'm actually trying to be mellow on my posts, but now the gauntlet has been thrown down. I'm Kai.

Hurl some insults or smarmy comments my way if you find something that strikes a nerve.

Hey and to the person who reviewed my blog, that's not me in the hat. My beard is much more grown in.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Time is a Relative Thing

I love Portland dearly, and feel very fortunate to have the amazing group of friends, acquaintances, associates, and family I have in this lovely city.

However, the concept of time seems to have different rules in this town. I know there is "Island Time" in Jamaica, and "Down-Time" when you're vacationing, but I haven't come up with a really good definition of what I call "Portland Time."

If someone says they are going to meet you at 9:00pm, this can translate into 9:20pm if you have specific plans, 10:00pm - 10:30pm if they are coming over to just "hang out", and even later depending on what they do for a living.

There are variables to this equation. If you are waiting on a musician who is coming over "after practice" at 9:00pm, add two, three or four hours to the time they will actually call or text you to see if you're still up for getting together. If they text or call and tell you they have to go "meet up with some friends", or "go run an errand" then you may as well forget it. You're fucked.

The same applies if you are waiting for a friend to hook you up with some treats. If you have plans for the evening, and are waiting on them to call or show up, the equation is: "how messed up are they?" + "how desperate are you?" + "how well do you know this person?" = when they call and/or show up.

If your friend is going through some problems with their ex, and says they really need to talk with you, but are going to just stop by and pick up a few things from the ex's place, you will not be seeing them that evening. They will be having make-up sex.

If you get a phone call from your ex at 2:30am or 3:00am, and they just happened to break up with the person they left you for and they really need to talk to you if you're awake, and they still love you and it was such a big mistake, and they'll be over soon. It will be about 10 minutes. They are either just around the block, or in a cab on their way over after the bars have closed and they've been kicked out.

If they have turned into your own personal stalker it will be 2 minutes. That is if you are stupid enough to answer their call/text after the 20th time in one night. They have been hiding in the bushes all night or sitting across the street with binoculars to see whether or not you are seeing that person they always knew you secretly liked and wouldn't admit to.

The hardest phrase to define time-wise is "I'll call you" or "I'll check out your website and e-mail you." This is basically a brush-off. Not always, but usually yes, it is. It can come as a result of hitting the bar after you hit that other bar and had so much fun with your friends, but you are too drunk and the bartender won't serve you, so if you go to another bar across town they won't be able to tell how wasted you are, and you think you're doing great because you just beat all these guys at pool, and you think you are fabulous, and you give out your business card and tell them to check out your "MySpasch Page", wait, no, my blogspace, wait, here I'll write it down, where's my damn pen, ow, I just hit my head. And then proceed to walk home after falling in a puddle on the way out. They won't call or e-mail you. They will wake-up in the morning and either: figure out that you won't even remember who they are the next day, so why bother; are actually whoring around on their girlfriend and don't want to be caught trying to follow-through with someone; or figured out that you are a complete circus freak and won't even acknowledge that they met you in the first place if they happen to run into you in public.

So far this is what I've learned. I know there's more variations on the theme, especially when the relationship becomes more complex with the person giving you a time. I've learned that "ish" is probably the best you'll get with a close friend, brother or sister. "Where have you been, I've been calling your cell number and you aren't responding? YES it's only been five minutes but I was sure that something happened to you on the way over. What do you mean you're out of cell minutes? How could you be out of cell minutes? Didn't I just give you a top-up card for Christmas? I don't care if it's March." is what you'll hear from your mom if you are more than two minutes late to "just meet for coffee or something while we're in town."