One of Portland's fertile bloggers is Rick Seifert, whose thoughts on all manner of things turn up in all manner of places, starting with The Red Electric. The blog is named for an interurban train that once provided locals with time to swap stories as they chugged from place to place.
Eclectic he wrote: Seifert is a journalism teacher, collector of vintage typewriters, a Quaker, and a volunteer for something called MediaThink, which aims to teach people how to tease apart and judge what they see, hear and read in news and advertising.
(Confession: I found Seifert when I followed a link to The Red Electric from one of my guiltier time-eating reads, More Hockey Less War, possibly the world's only pacifist blog written by a middle-aged defenseman. Fittingly, he shoots the puck from the left. It's true, in Portland, even our niches have niches.)
Seifert also has a rather good, if cranky, instinct for landing on small things that are just plain irritating. Things that move the rest of us to complain, but do little else.
An example is Seifert's most recent venting about the recorded voice that announces a "sponsor" at each stop on the quaint Portland Streetcar. (He's testified about this commercial intrusion before the advisory committee that oversees such things. They politely ignored him.) Undaunted, he asks his readers: If the Streetcar system is so short on money, why can't the city just do a better job of collecting fares? (It uses the honor system now; riders are meant to purchase tickets from a machine on board. Many do not.) More interesting than his complaint, is his coping mechanism, discovered by chance on a recent ride:While the disembodied voice went about its paid pronouncements, I rode along trying to stay focused on reading Marcus Aurelius. I've kept "Meditations" near at hand recentlyÃ¢'ê¬Â¦ The Roman emperor's no-nonsense, stoic perspective is bracing. As the trolley glided west on NW Northrup and the voice chirped out the next sponsored stop. I just happened to be reading the following: "If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself but to your own estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any momentÃ¢'ê¬Â¦"I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that Marcus Aurelius would be proud.