How Much Ouch?

All of it.

All the ouch.

I’m a fat big enough person to admit when I’m wrong.

Doing reverse lunges yesterday was definitely a mistake. Where my ass would be if I had one definitely hurts today.

As a fatter of mact – er – matter of fact, my abs aren’t minding their business today, either. But I’m taking the immediate onset of muscle soreness following yesterday’s mini home workout versus the typical delayed onset muscle soreness as a sign that I have been too inactive for too long.

So maybe the takeaway isn’t that exercise was a mistake so much as my error was doing the wrong kind of “body building” for too long.

But, still…ooouuuccchhh!

How Much Ouch?

And Then There’s Actual Karma

Not that I particularly enjoy a karmic smack down.

Schadenfreude…sure, that I’ll cop to.

But honestly, the only times when I find myself truly enjoying karma are the times I see someone who has something good coming their way get their due.

Y’know, like in the pre-lockdown days when someone would sit down near me at a video poker machine. They’d put a urine soaked dollar bill – because it’s Portland, so they are houseless, obviously – into the machine, smack toothless gums while deciding what game to play and then bet min – which is probably sixty cents of that pee dollar (aka: street value of the USD) – only to hit a bonus and win a whopping $10.

That is an example of karma that makes me happy.

That is not the type of karma I woke up to this morning. Let me explain…

Or the Kenton neighborhood of NoPo, 2017…

I was the GM for Green Zebra Grocery, a store that’s called itself the 7-Eleven of healthy grocers. A Whole Foods in a convenience store footprint.

Great concept. One that suits my “fishbowl existence” preference – neighborhoods with everything residents need, home, entertainment, restaurants, gyms, and, yes…even grocery stores. Green Zebra – The Zeeb, as the staff nicknamed it – fit right into my worldview.

Then I worked there.

Then, I didn’t.

It couldn’t have ended in a shittier or shadier manner. The founder herself fired me.

For cause.

Or what passed for cause in her confrontation averse universe.

Basically, I was a scapegoat. Or whatever livestock one slaughters to appease the Harassment Gods or fake idols employees pray to in order to dodge personal accountability.

A grocery clerk left work grateful I’d canceled his shift for the day. He’d shown up visibly impaired, barfed in the sanitizer bucket behind the meat counter, declared “Dude, I did this to myself” when I asked after him…and then claimed harassment after my response to him admitting that he was drunk and stoned at work was “That’s not ok”.

He was relieved to go home that day.

When he came back to work and had to face the follow up counseling, he was butt hurt.

And suddenly, I was the problem.

He went right to the founder with his complaint.

He had to change his story a couple of times. First it was “inappropriate comments”, which was vague and scuttled by my counter defense of, “That’s pretty much the culture here – and I’m trying to fix it”.

Seriously, my defense was a sticker on a manager’s work issued laptop – well, among other examples. And I offered to be the champion of continued change.

Seriously, that was the sticker staring at me during weekly meetings during my tenure at The Zeeb. When I pointed out that I’d walked into an inappropriate environment and relaxed my own standards to “blend”, the Number Two in the company said, “It’s true” under her breath in a fit of neo-corporate inconvenience. So, basically, the founder decided to fire me after her own Number Two indicted her position.

Of course, there was the whole, “That actually never happened” defense, which should stand on its own merits anyway.

After his second story iteration, I pointed out that another complaint made by the same employee had ended in the termination of a meat clerk…that was also on a Worker’s Comp LOA. Apparently, he’d made an unwitnessed comment about the length of the homophobic employee’s hair relative to his gender.

Now, to me, that’s a definite no-fly zone. But in proving it…when it can’t be proven…well, that scenario ended with erring on the side of caution and terminating the legitimately injured employee.

However, after sending the founder into another retreat to regroup by asking how many witches she was willing to drown to protect this young man’s fragile sexual identity, she came back – after story revision number three – and fired my sacrificial lamb ass.

Just remember, after coming to work drunk, stoned and puking in a sanitizing bucket within three feet of raw meat – not that kind, Diezel! – I told the kid he was responsible for managing his crossfade so that it didn’t negatively impact the business or the team.

Yeah, fire me for that.

My last words to Lisa – the founder – were, “Surround yourself with good people and then get out of their way”. She’d created a parental environment where if one of “the kids” didn’t like what (in this case) dad said, they went running to mom.

Short story long – gotta love context – this morning I woke up to someone from my old store’s team posting Instagram story videos announcing the store team striking.

I recognized the view from the employee side of the cash registers-slash-espresso bar.

I recognized the founder losing her shit at the situation.

Unsurprisingly, on camera.

For several minutes.

Ranting almost incoherently. The liberal dramatic throwing up of exasperated arms. The dramatic and long suffering demand that her employees abandon their posts so she can ring up customer purchases her-put-upon-self. Customers abandoning their purchases and leaving before Lisa retreated toward the offices yelling that employees win and all employees were getting paid for the day.

The interesting thing wasn’t the karmic drama. It was in the seeking to understand – one of Lisa’s corporate values. In looking into why the employees decided to strike, I learned it was mainly over hazard pay. During the pandemic, many companies with essential workers – like grocery stores – all employers in that field seemed to offer a bump in the neighborhood of $2/hr for their employees or bonuses of hundreds of dollars multiple times. I’m sure it wasn’t universal, but I didn’t see other grocer’s employees striking so dramatically.

It’s worth noting that Whole Foods employees situationally went out on strike despite their $2/hr Hero Pay bump that lasted a couple months. Notably, the store in my neighborhood went on strike over a lack of safe working conditions following the death of at least one of their team from COVID-19.

Lisa apparently offered a one-time $120 bonus for employees. I’m not sure whether that was prorated for full and part time positions. Regardless, $120 for working in an at-risk environment for 12+ weeks – well…that’s $10/week at best for any employee, regardless of the number of hours worked.

Regardless of the prior conversations, the situation I observed tells me Lisa still either can’t hire the people with the competencies she needs to support her success or she can’t get out of the way of her own team’s success. My experience is that when hiring, you get more wins than losses. There are more people who want to do good work than not. But they need good leadership to do so.

The situation I personally experienced versus what I witnessed this morning via video shows me that Lisa not only hasn’t learned to get out of the way of good people, she’s literally actively getting in the way to try and single-handedly keep her store open in spite of their grievances.

Karmicly, I was gratified to see that her customers weren’t any more sympathetic to it than her employees were.

Where it goes from here is dependent upon whether old dogs can learn new tricks. From what I’m seeing in our country in general and my city in particular…it ain’t coming easy. If it happens.

And Then There’s Actual Karma

Car-ma

Yeah, so you may recall me saying that things that happen in Angela – my car – are cyclical.

Sometimes That’s Fun

The other night I went out for my usual 10 rides. It was like the universe was telling me to go home and get baked.

My second ride called me to the Broadway Cannabis Collective, which is actually just a couple streets over from my house. I picked up a guy who’d been shopping there after hitting the gym in the Pearl because it was his favorite gym in town. Normally his husband comes with him and drives, but not today – which allowed me to meet him. He was a really nice guy, I mention this because he’s an older gay guy – maybe mid to late 30s – and nice, and accomplished…so I’m supposed to not like him, right? Well, I did. So there.

I dropped him off at his home on – and I swear I’m not making this up – Gay Street.

I go about my driverly endeavors, minding my own business and just really feeling good for having met that guy, even if only briefly.

The night was kind of slow – the first where I didn’t really have a ride waiting when I dropped off my current passenger – and I thought about hanging it up after ride five. It was really nice out and I thought maybe I’d take a walk around the waterfront.

“Just one more loop around the riverfront corridor”, I told myself. That’s MLK and Broadway flanked by the Burnside and Broadway Bridges. As I cruised down MLK toward the Burnside Bridge, I got a call to pick someone up a few blocks behind me at Oregon’s Finest – another cannabis dispensary.

That’s not even the cyclical part of my driving shift. I mean, well…kinda. Call it a recurring theme.

I picked up a young woman who was just getting off work and took her home. We had a great chat along the way about…weed. I sometimes feel bad talking shop with my cannabis industry peeps, but she pointed out that the people that work in weed are definitely passionate about it.

Two rides later – ride eight – I look at my pick up and I’m getting called back to Oregon’s Finest.

Weird

I pick up another young woman finishing up her workday and take her home. Along the way, I tell her about my earlier ride and she wonders which one of her co-workers it was. “I dunno, can’t remember her name. Really nice, though. Orange hair?”

That did actually – even in Portland – narrow it down for her.

My last ride of the night – ride ten – was a pick up for a last minute run to the weed shop before closing time.

Any guesses?

Broadway Cannabis Collective.

There’s a damn weed shop on damn near every block in this crossfaded town and 40% of my rides in one day were to two of them.

Pretty strange occurrence.

Right up there with the day I picked up a guy to take him to work at Mr Nice Guy. I honestly wasn’t sure if that was a weed shop or an adult book store, but once we arrived I figured it out. As I sat in the driveway, trying to decide whether to go left or right to cruise toward home, I got a ride request.

Turns out, I was going left…to the other Mr Nice Guy a few miles away to pick up a customer.

Back to back rides with the same business? That amused the hell out of me.

But not every coincidence is weed-related.

Yesterday, for instance, my very first ride was taking a guy home from work. As we drove, we chatted about Portland real estate, because…why not? He interrupts himself to appreciatively comment about a rather fit looking age inappropriate woman. With anime pink hair.

“Probably a stripper, too. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!” he adds hastily.

Which segues – courtesy of your favorite Voice of Treason – into the generational differences regarding sex workers. Our generation – his and mine – still has obvious parochial guilt around the subject. Younger generations embrace sex work as an industry.

But that’s not the point.

I drop him off with a ride waiting and go pick up this young woman. She drops her bag in the car and apologizes for forgetting her mask before running back into her house to get it.

Such a nice young lady.

I ask her where she’s going and she says to the pet store to get a mouse for her snake. Mentally, I drive into a telephone pole, underreacting.

In reality, I laugh and change the subject.

“I have to say, you look exactly like your picture.” She’s surprised by this. I tell her that most people don’t even have a pic on their profile, but it’s helpful for me when I’m looking for people on a crowded street. Then I highlight my own short-haired profile picture versus my current shaggy reality.

“But your hair is even the same color in real life…I wanna say teal?”

She fusses with her hair and admits that she just touched it up, but in the picture from last year her hair is actually a little faded. We go on talking about how she always wanted to dye her hair that color growing up in LA, but never felt comfortable doing so until she moved to Portland.

“Portland is weird that way – there’s really just no ‘normal’ here when it comes to style”, I tell her before asking what she did for work.

stripper.

I shit you not.

Back to back stripper talk rides.

We talk about that for a while and I tell her how much I truly love that stripping is just a normal part of our bar scene versus some taboo, like in the rest of the country. She agreed, having been a stripper in LA she was kind of surprised by the shame factor associated with it there. The seedy locations. The judgment she encountered on the bus if her work bag wasn’t zipped all the way and her work heels showed.

“Not here, sister. In Portland, it’s weird to be drinking a beer and not have a naked person within three feet!” As we rolled up to the pet store, I thanked her for keeping Portland the right kind of weird. She told me to stop in to Mary’s if I was ever in the neighborhood.

I live three blocks from Mary’s. Which is actually the oldest strip club in town. Mary herself – well into her 60s – is still known to pop in for a set now and then. On top of the whole “gay” thing, a 60+ stripper is enough to keep a beer at Mary’s pretty low on my to-do list, but now…

Anyway, those are some examples of fun circles. But that’s not always the case.

Sometimes That’s Not Fun.

I’m glad I don’t have many bad rides. Bad, being relative, of course. Mean people or folks behaving inappropriately? Almost never. Out of over 1700 rides in the last 11 months, I think I could count on one hand the truly bad experiences I’ve had.

I’ve had a couple of sad story rides that could count as “bad”, too.

The two young ladies I dropped off at a funeral – the people entering the chapel were almost exclusively teenagers.

The woman whose long term boyfriend (and local concert promoter) had died prematurely the night before.

And this nice Black woman from the other night and her teenaged grandson. She was on her way home after spending a few days watching after her grandkids so their mother could help make arrangements for an elderly relative’s funeral.

It turns out, that death had been expected, however the day after that older family member died, two others had been killed in a car accident. A mother and her son.

I’d heard about that wreck. It was bad. The car caught fire after the wreck and both driver and passenger ended up dying.

It wasn’t until this grandmother got in my car that I understood how terrible the accident was. But it was heartwarming to hear about how the family pulled together to take care of one another. The grandson was actually going to spend a few days with grandma now that his mom was back home and able to take care of his younger sibling.

Also, his aunt was going to do his braids…still, that just seemed like the family taking care of each other in a “life goes on” type of way.

The circle here?

In what would end up being my final ride of the night, I was taking a hospital worker from OHSU high up on a hilltop in southwest Portland to her home in deep southeast. Like around 122nd. It was just about 11 PM and we were waiting to turn onto 122nd, her home was just a few hundred feet away.

The lights – I think, this is where I’m every stereotype of a bad eyewitness – had just changed to allow the cross street turn lanes the right of way. A car turning onto 122nd from the other direction was just crossing the center of the intersection when a car ran the red light on 122nd. They must have been going 50 MPH or more in a 40 MPH zone. They hit the rear drivers side of the car hard enough to knock it backward and across two lanes of traffic, narrowly missing a pedestrian when it landed on the corner diagonal from me. The speeding vehicle ended up in the gas station even further behind it pointed in the wrong direction.

I’d been – me being me – chattering away with my passenger when all of this happened 30-ish feet away from us. It was stunning, to put it mildly. It looked like the car that got hit only had a driver in it, but they weren’t moving. My passenger wanted to go home, so after waiting to make sure people were calling 911, I went on.

Coming back down 122nd a few minutes later, the intersection was filled with police cars – luckily they weren’t all down at the Justice Center, which had been the “story” from PPB a few days prior – and emergency vehicles. Still a little shaken up by the accident I’d witnessed, I carefully executed a left-hand turn at the intersection, switched off my app and pointed Angela toward home.

Like I said, there’s not many bad stories or circles from my time driving…but I probably should have saved that stripper story for the end, eh?

Car-ma

What A Long, Strange Week It’s Been…

Seriously, last week was quite a year.

I inadvertently offended my sister on social media.

Black Sheep Bro persisted in his attempts to have a conversation at me about why I should gratefully accept his return to the family dynamic. Reinforcing why I’d rather he leave me out of his notion of family.

Coronavirus.

Politics.

Social Justice.

Perhaps you’ve read something about Trunt treating Portland like his personal Operation Urgent Fury resulting more in Pinochet-esque kidnappings than anything resembling quelling the city’s outcry for justice.

The hits just kept on coming.

It was a tough week – I actually put myself in FaceBook Jail for a couple days just to slow the swirl.

On top of that, multiple folks reached out to me – either checking in or chiding – because I hadn’t been posting entries on my blog.

But instead of rehashing the long, I thought I’d recap the strange of the last week. Something lighthearted – just what Doctor Galby ordered.

Also, “Cocktail, please!”

After another round of self isolating, I went back to my Lyft driving last week. Probably another reason recent days had begun to feel so long and unending – not much company compared to when I drive folks around, chatting their ears off.

The result?

For my efforts, I was rewarded with both mask acne on the bridge of my nose and something like a pimple or a cyst or simply ridiculously painful in my ear pit where the upper strap of my mask looped over the top of my ear. Luckily, that second petty trauma is now just a bunch of dry skin working its way off my body. That mask acne, though…the outbreak on the bridge of my nose may be gone, but my swampy complexion lingers on.

I’m not kidding – that mask has been like a sauna for my face. And it just wicks from under my mask, too, crawling up my face until even my forehead is a thick, greasy mess.

“Hello, Puberty? Yes, I’d like to return this skin, please.”

For whatever reason, there were two consecutive days during my isolation that I woke up at around 4 AM and struggled to get back to sleep. Even though I proactively fed Myrtle breakfast so she wouldn’t go unattended to, she’d still come into the bedroom with some sad little “meows” around 9. Since she didn’t need anything, I chose to interpret her vocalizations as concern.

On the second day, unsure whether I’d fallen back to sleep or not and not wanting to look at my phone and risk waking my eyes up, I rolled the other way, toward the window. I pushed an eye out from under my pillow – me sleeping is quite a graceful picture – and squinted one eye open to see if there was daylight coming through the edges of my blinds.

No sun, just one of Myrtle’s big, green eyeballs. I screamed. I think I involuntarily jerked so hard (not like that, Diezel) that I pulled a muscle (also, not that one, Diezel!).

For her part, Myrt didn’t run and scurry for the underside of the bed or the living room, like she usually does when she gets startled. She just looked at me with those soulless cat eyes like she was willing me to get out of bed so she could have my warm spot.

I need to get her a heating pad…

But I got her back a few days later.

Well, almost.

I may have friendly-fired myself with a Dutch Oven a couple times the other night.

A. Couple. Times.

I didn’t even eat anything weird, so no idea where my bedtime Chernobyl came from. All I do know is that when I looked around, thinking something along the lines of, “That’s for scaring the shit out of me the other day”…no Myrtle.

Damn it.

But after a week-ish that was like an emotional finger trap, I’m glad I could at least still find joy in my own weird awkwardness. I decided to take it easy today. Well, I was hoping to get in a bike ride or urban hike before my Virtual Happy Hour with mom and dad – shit I gotta go get something to drink, the company may be virtual, but the liquor will not be! – at 4. Strangely, I woke up famished. After pulling myself together, I set off for my new favorite food cart for an early lunch.

Closed.

Fuckity-fuck-fuck.

What followed ended up being a nice workaround to not exercising because I was hungry.

Not bad, considering my day was turning into one of these…

It’s only a quarter mile to the cart, but the other mile and a half was me mincing around from pod to pod searching for inspiration. I ended up at Charlie’s Deli getting what I think is the best sandwich in Portland: their pastrami on rye, extra mustard.

And, more bright side – I didn’t even get disappeared while out walking by myself.

Enjoy your weekend, everyone, and don’t forget…Fuck Trump!

What A Long, Strange Week It’s Been…

So, How’s Your Monday?

You’d think I’d know a good sign or minor omen when I saw one.

Not this guy, nope.

When I woke up at 3 AM in a manner that caused Myrtle to not just jump off the bed, but land outside the bedroom…that’s not a sign, right?

That the cause of my sudden consciousness was that I’d dreamed I had been bitten by a snake while sleeping in my actual bed wasn’t a symbol, right?

In the dream, the snake had latched onto the outside/pinky edge of my hand and was not letting go. It was also making eye contact with me in my dream whilst doing so. After what seemed like a minute in my dream, I reacted…by shaking my hand until the snake was flung clear of the bed.

Or so I thought.

But I was distracted from checking by Myrtle crash landing in the living room, so I forgot about the snake as my brain woke up.

I called out for Myrtle as I realized my hand still ached where the dream snake had bitten me and wondered if Myrtle had been the actual perpetrator. That would explain why she wasn’t answering my call – like she ever does.

Then I felt something scrabble up my neck and into my hair. I shook my head and loosely ran a hand through it to free it of any critters that had become entangled in my mane.

Realizing my error, I jumped out of bed, flipped on the light and then flung back the sheets in search of any blood sucking little predators.

Nothing.

Heart pounding and semi wide awake, I turned to go to the bathroom. And then a snake…of hair flipped forward on my face.

Now, wide awake and fortunately still needing to use the bathroom, I answered nature’s call. I tried unsuccessfully to calm my nerves while washing my hands, examining the one for what I hoped would remain phantom injuries as I did so.

Failing at a return to normal breathing, I stopped at the freezer on my way back to bed and took a shot of ice cold tequila right out of the bottle.

Might not help, couldn’t hurt that much.

After a little tossing, I hear Myrt looking for a new place to sleep. She’s trying to open the drawers on my dresser to nest for the night. When I finally grow too frustrated listening to her to focus on my own sleep, I get up and shoo her under the bed.

She’d succeeded in opening two of the eight drawers, but she’s happiest in the third tier, explaining why she hadn’t gone silent.

But as long as I was up…I fed Myrtle her breakfast so she wouldn’t wake me too early.

And took a second shot, to be sure I’d not be awake too early.

Worked like a charm.

I woke at 8, thinking I’d like to sleep more, but knowing the daylight would fight me. Hardly a surprise, given the dawn I saw breaking through the windows when I fed Myrt.

So, I got up. Only to be rewarded by this.

I hate that cat.

Sometimes…I swear I added that in my mind as I typed.

Seriously, I know dinner was late because I didn’t get home til 8 from mom and dad’s…but it was Father’s Day! Cut me some slack. You’re really gonna eat breakfast when you aren’t hungry just because I put it out? And then puke it up while I sleep?!?

What a loathsome creature.

I clean up Myrtle’s un-eating and brush my teeth. Rib had been texting me about a cappuccino machine he thought he’d talk his hubby into getting – the exact machine he already has, but with an integrated milk frother, which is so him – so I was painfully aware of my lack of coffee or energy drinks in the house. Throwing on a hat and sneakers, I’m off because obviously, a trip to Nossa Familia was in order.

You can barely tell I’ve had a rough night and soon to be rougher morning. I arrive on the sidewalk to this.

Just come the fuck on.

I’ve had these tires about a month.

Luckily, I wasn’t planning on driving. I stomp to the cafe, telling Rib I had dibs on their old machine as I went along. When I arrive, I order and the barista asked if I want to use my free drink that I always forget about.

Yes! Yes…but add the $5 back as tip!

If Monday has it in for me, at least I can try to get in good with Karma by tipping well.

Worth it.

I go back home, water the Silver Fox’s plants, grab his mail and then steal his Dyson handheld to go vacuum my car while I try out the compressor that came as a GWP with Angela.

Worked like a charm – only took about 5 minutes, too! Now to shower and run up to Les Schwab to see if they can patch up or replace the tire they sold me. Hopefully, they can resist the urge to tell me I should replace all 4 tires again – which I fell for last time. Since these have less than 4K miles on them, hopefully my x-drive suspension won’t notice that one tire has 0 miles on it.

Gawd.

I hope that $5 tip worked. I don’t want to spend $250 on a new tire, let alone another thousand on all 4…wish me luck.

So, how is your Monday treating you?

So, How’s Your Monday?

I Got Work To Do

Clearly.

One of my favorite things about the civil unrest America is experiencing recently is that it’s inclusive. I think that’s part of what has created the longevity in what we’re seeing with the protests.

George Floyd’s murder wasn’t any more or less representative of the problems in our country – regardless of whether it’s *just* police brutality, something larger like systemic racism or more overt like flat out bigotry – than Breonna Taylor’s.

Or Trayvon Martin’s.

Or any of the many trans POC that have been murdered over the past decades.

Early on, I was critical of muddying the message with unnecessary or unclear hyperbole. As the weeks have gone on, the messaging I’m seeing has evolved away from that, which is gratifying.

I do like a clear message.

But we’re also being presented with messages that don’t exclude people who don’t, won’t or can’t march. Sure, there have been some slips on that unity and inclusivity messaging, but from my perspective, it seems like they are simple gaffes versus an intentional exclusive focus. In my Social Media scrollings, I’m given daily reminders and suggestions of ways to support protests without marching:

Donating to organizations.

Making signs or masks for protesters.

Donating first aid supplies or water – or staffing a booth where they are available.

Things to read to further your understanding.

Conversations to have.

Providing legal aid, if you are a lawyer.

Donating. Because it can be said twice.

Personally, I’m focusing my Lyft shifts around times and areas where protests are occurring. There’s nights where I ferry people along the same five mile stretch for several consecutive trips. Frankly, being able to thank them and encourage them getting out to march makes us both feel good. Plus, hearing them complain about sore feet and tired bodies allows me to remind them that it’s only temporary and thank them again.

It’s nice. And I love hearing the stories of the sense of connection there is amongst the protesters.

I think that sense of community and connection is what has allowed the activists to sustain their momentum this time around. Outlasting the effort that the bad elements in their midst were willing to contribute.

Not hearing about the use of police force or property damage over this past week has been a welcome change. It allows the media to keep the true message of the protests front and center in the public’s mindset versus burnt and broken things derailing the focus.

And then there’s my personal favorite way to show support – supporting Black owned businesses and restaurants.

And this is where I have some work to do – why I feel behind. I got this email from Yelp the other day

It’s like many that I have seen on Instagram and the Facebook. Reminders or highlights that I appreciate. And free promotion for the businesses, which I love!

But then I looked at the list – mainly for places close by that I should try or go back to.

Something occurred to me.

Of the 50 Black owned businesses listed, only one was “in my area”. A reminder of how Portland truly lacks in diversity overall. Also, though, how cost prohibitive commercial real estate is in the core of the city, making it a near certainty that DBEs will remain pushed out.

Maybe with all of the non-Disadvantaged Business Entities folding in the days of COVID, we’ll see a re-thinking of those rental rates.

Maybe.

What also shocked me in reviewing the list was that I’d been to one. Just the one nearby. As much as I eat, you’d think I would have happened into a few of these places at least accidentally, but…no.

Sure, there were two that I follow on Instagram and always intended to go to. But you can’t take intent to the bank.

So there’s the work I need to do: eat out.

Just like we can vote with our dollars, we can support with them, too.

Now, before I finish knitting my selfish, racist bastard sweater out of flammable yarn I should say that Yelp’s list of 50 is hardly – thankfully – exhaustive. I’ve seen other businesses listed elsewhere and I’ve been to some that weren’t listed at all.

That’s fine. I give credit for effort and someone at Yelp did something, which is better than nothing.

But back to Portland’s lack of diversity for a second and how I can change my behaviors to support equality myself. This odd fact came up in conversation the other day – I want to tell you about Portland’s best BBQ.

It’s great. Really, really great.

Really.

And it’s owned by a fucking white guy.

Surprised?

In retrospect, I was – and not to sound racist, but c’mon…BBQ is kind of half the game with Black cuisine, right? Soul food and BBQ are top of mind when you think of a Black owned restaurant, aren’t they?

Maybe it’s just me. I doubt it dunno.

But when I set out for BBQ, do I need to go to the one that some newspaper food critic called the best? Is that maybe just another example of systemic racism?

How many Black food critics can you think of?

Zero is how many I can think of. Given the departure of Adam Rappaport from Bon Appetit last week for leading and perpetuating an exclusive culture at that particular food magazine, I’d say I’m both not alone and correct about the pervasiveness of systemic racism in yet another facet of American culture.

So, do I need to limit my BBQ options to what someone labeled “the best”?

Nah.

And I think it’s an example of a small behavioral change that would have a larger cultural impact.

Changing who or how we support business spreads the wealth. That sharing of resources allows the small Black owned businesses to create their own change independently. Whether that manifests as hiring more people into their business, opening and sustaining a new location in a less diverse part of town or just being able to care for their family on a different level…it matters. Hey, not all changes toward racial equity have to reinvent a wheel.

And at the end of the day, my belly is still full, so everyone wins.

I Got Work To Do

Victory!

Hopefully the title didn’t turn you off – thinking, “Great, here he goes about protests again”.

If it did, psych!

Things had gotten entirely too heavy around here – as in most corners of the country – these days. Time to lighten it up…with a Comcast update!

It’s been a little over a week since my new modem/router combo unit arrived. Initially, I was concerned as to whether or not I’d be able to successfully install the new device without the help of a twenty-something.

I’m intrepid, though, so after a thorough social media and email blitz in what might have been my last visit to the interwebs, I took the plunge and pulled the plug.

Literally.

My main concern was getting my Sonos and AppleTV connected to the new device, which was pretty easy.

Two plugs, two holes.

Unlike the old router, which had four.

Then I connected the router to the Comcast coax cable and plugged it in. After the lights did their thing, I opened up the Sonos app and got Aimee Mann Radio back into business.

It worked!

Then I got around to cleaning out the literal and figurative debris. This is what I pulled out from behind my console:

And this is the after:

Much cleaner. Something I’m not embarrassed to have seen sitting by my TV. In the first picture, you can see the giant old modem/router as well as a cable box – which I think I took advantage of having three times, max.

You see, when I have to switch inputs to watch cable, I’m likely not going to do it. The most difficult part of the endeavor was remembering what “input” each of the different devices was on. I actually made a cheat sheet on my Notes app because I knew I’d forget.

Anyway, I went about my afternoon and then later, settled in for some TV with dinner.

It worked!

I was on a roll.

The next day, though, when I went to do some work on my laptop…no internet.

Fine, fine, fine…I whip out the old instructions and start the troubleshooting. I hadn’t initially downloaded Arris’ app as the instructions had recommended. Having gone through everything in the instructions again with no change in results, I decided I needed to.

Sure enough, after registering my device, it helpfully displayed a graphic showing that I had no internet. After a few minutes of staring at that like it was a hieroglyph, I started poking around for answers. I knew that I had logged the change in equipment – in an easier than expected manner – with Comcast the prior day. But for whatever reason, the juice wasn’t going to Internet.

WiFi – check.

Devices – check.

Internet – no bueno.

It was really mind boggling, trying to figure out why WiFi devices like my phone and speakers were tethered to the new device and functioning, but my laptop and iPad – which are also running off WiFi – wouldn’t connect to the internet.

For whatever reason, I was getting a password request on any site I tried to open. Putting in the password for the new router didn’t work, either.

Redoubling my effort to stare intently at the pop up box asking for a password left me with a new question.

What the hell is a WPA2?!?

That was the password being requested.

Changing gears to stare with intent at the Arris app, it finally jumped out at me.

Friggin’ fine print.

There was a masked password under a bold heading that I’d initially skimmed past because it didn’t say “WPA2” over it. But on my third or seventieth glance, there it was in a tiny light gray font…

Plugged that bad boy into the pop up box on my laptop and badda-boom, badda-bing…porn!

Joking.

In the app, I was also easily able to change my WiFi network’s name to something less generic so I could find it. Since my balcony faces the back of a hotel…I tailored my network accordingly:

The only thing left was to call Comcast and adjust my package and billing.

Because it took three attempts before I successfully managed to talk to a person, I added a Comcast contact to my address book. I had to. Having realized after the first two callbacks I set up that my phone sends all calls who aren’t in my contacts to voicemail, I really had no other choice.

It’s not like I was gonna remember how to reset that feature any time soon.

But, after a 44 minute convo with an employee who was both chipper and helpful, I walked away from the call with a bill that had gone from a $120/month 75mbps internet and cable bundle (to get the best pricing) to a stand alone 100mbps internet only service for $35/fucking month ($55/month after the first year).

What a damn racket.

When I was dependent upon them for equipment, bundled packages were the only option. And each piece of equipment costs to “rent” each month. My old modem was $14/month. The modem I bought was $91 on Amazon.

91/14=6.5

So I was paying for my old modem about twice a year.

For about four years.

I should change their contact name to Fucking Criminals.

Now, I’m thinking I should start a pool on how long it takes me to actually return the equipment to their drop off. I’ve been twice in the last week, but both times there has been a crazy line outside the store due to social distancing protocols.

With just one associate working the line.

So I grumpy old left.

Plus, I just realized this morning that I hadn’t thrown my Comcast remote into the box…oops. Looks like being an old grump saved me having to wait in that mess twice!

Victory!

It’s A Bot Time

It’s been a while since I got into a battle of wills with a fake person.

Thank goodness – ok, alrightness – for Words With Friends.

If you are patient enough, “someone” will surely come along and help you out. The most recent assistance they are offering is investment help.

But since these are fake people, they just keep going. And let’s face it, I’m the victim here, too polite to refuse the chat request of a stranger – in case they are an actual person; too stubborn to forfeit the game and take a statistical hit.

So I just amuse myself.

Oh, Ann…

Seriously, some people watch movies for fun, I do this.

It’s A Bot Time

But At Least My D!ck Is Bigger Than His…

Or so his actions would indicate.

Here’s the pre-set up (Right? Just settle in, it’s one of those Galby stories):

I was doing my Lyft thing. I’m really trying to go from driving 4/week to 3 while still making my weekly goals. Because 20-ish hours/week with Lyft beats any fucking job that I’ve ever had. Seriously, it’s like every other job I’ve ever had was my personal Ike Turner by comparison.

And if you don’t get that, google it – but thanks for following my blog instead of doing your arithmetic homework.

Anywho, the bogeyman here is that when I get bored, I can just hop in the car for a change of pace. Also: entertainment. Also, also: what, I should exercise when I’m bored? Pish.

So, I’ve been playing around with my preferred schedule of having a couple days of driving and a couple days off. Lather, rinse, repeat. On top of that, balancing demand to maximize my time.

Interesting side bar, once I started driving again I found I was in high demand. Rides stacked up one after another – the caveat being that drivers were so scarce (I don’t want to explain why – it turns racism in American politics on its ass…ok, I do want to explain why – just not here) that I was driving 15-20 minutes to pick up a passenger. That made my customer service heart absolutely ache. So I was glad to be out there doing.

Recently, though, demand has leveled off – a good sign that people felt secure enough to leave their homes to work. I no longer felt like the last Lyft driver on the planet. Which is good since riders were waiting 15+ minutes less frequently now. I dunno why I feel responsible for the overall customer experience here, I just do.

See also: why I don’t drive for rapey Uber.

Surprise! None of that actually has to do with the size of my figurative penis.

I’d say that this kind of does – except it would make me sound really bad in the wrong context, ie: the unofficial language of ‘Murica – though, during my impromptu shift today, I picked up an essential nurse from OHSU after her shift. OHSU is located on a hilltop – like, a big one.

If I knew I was dying, that’s the hospital I’d want to be taken to.

Further from Hell, you see. I know, not the rationale you expected. Have we met? Hehe.

The thing I like about delivering or fetching people from work there is that these folks are essential, even without a pandemic. And being a hospital atop an idyllic mountaintop in Portland means real estate is at a premium – and they don’t waste it on parking lots.

One rider told me she’s been there 9 years and is still not in the top 1000 on the parking spot wait list.

But.

The hospital has a variety of programs to incentivize employees to take alternative transportation – including Lyft credits. Well, “credits”.

Naturally, I do a brisk business on the hill.

Today, I picked up an essential scrub heading home after work who had a 24 minute drive. It was 3:30-ish in the afternoon. In the last week, this has been well within the window of when all the locked down peeps have given in to escaping their shut-in shackles to demonstrate how driving on a freeway is not like riding a bicycle.

On top of that, this was one of those “three seasons in one day” types of days. We had sun, rain and – while I was driving my scrub across town – hail.

We took I-84 for most of our freeway transit. The important thing to know here is that it’s a serpentine three lane freeway in both directions, most lanes grooved by decades of asswipes who kept their snow tires on too long.

Mix in some of that hail and biblical rain and you’ve got a challenging drive.

Throw a micro-penis into the mix and, well, you’ve now surpassed shit-show level shenanigans.

I-84, aka: the Banfield, stretches West to East across Portland’s east side betwixt I-5 along the Willamette River and I-205, which runs N-S through a part of town called Felony Flats.

It’s 4.8 miles, this Banfield stretch of road. The 84 continues on past the 205 (we Portlanders really hate including the “I” in our freeway designations) toward the regrettable Gresham and then on up the Gorge toward the heavenly hamlet of Hood River.

4.8 miles is, as some who’ve driven it may not know, Portland’s mathematical measurement of Absolute Hell.

Why?

Micropenis.

Seriously, my only explanation.

Knowing I had the full ~5 miles of the Banfield to contend with, I moved over to the far left to avoid the cluster-coitus that is merging on Portland’s freeways.

A reasonable plan, “passing lane only” enthusiasts notwithstanding.

Sadly, there was what I can only assume was a person suffering a stroke while driving five cars ahead of me in that lane. It was so bad that people in the far right lane – even with their merging maladies – were outpacing us. I decided after three miles to get into the center lane. Realizing I had fewer than two miles before my exit to 205, I left my blinker on to move into the right lane for my exit.

It was a simple plan to execute – I needed only wait for the car on my passenger side forward flank to clear with a safe distance between us to execute my lane change. After that, I moved right from the center to right lane.

Mind you (foreshadowing!) my blinker had been on this whole time.

Yes, I use my blinkers.

For whatever reason, this micropenis driver interprets my signal the same way a color blind bull interprets a red flag. In much the same way that a single person attempting dating would – full steam ahead!

The result in both scenarios was the same: the wronged person ends up shouldering the blame.

In this case, that manifested with a horn.

Then an aggressive lane change, acceleration and swift cut off (with no signal) followed by a one-fingered salute.

For my part, I refused to look ahead with an intensity that belied the existence of another driver, so I looked blithely toward him as he aggressively passed me.

I think that made him mad.

As did my refusal to return his hand gestures.

Have I ever mentioned how often I’m complimented – bewilderingly – on my habit of keeping both hands on the wheel? It’s true. I do.

The end result of this tale was – as the skies absolutely pissed rain down – that this inverted prick of a human slammed on his brakes after cutting me off. While having only one hand on the wheel, since the other was displaying his IQ.

He hydroplaned.

Only briefly, thankfully.

Long enough, though, that my recalcitrant conversationalist passenger commented on my defensive driving skills.

I think my active distancing only further enraged this hella fella, since – and I couldn’t make this up – when another driver cut into what was clearly his personal lane, the whole damn thing lathered, rinsed and goddamn repeated.

This joker was so focused on sticking it to a could-care-less-Xtopher that he almost had his second accident in as many minutes.

Don’t worry, though. He whipped out of the right hand lane and into the center to pass that other fool and aggressively cut them off.

Take that, presumably reasonably blessed-below-the-belt other driver!

Sheesh.

Trump’s motorcade driver really needs to get back to DC. It’s not like Trump would ever set foot in Oregon, anyway. As a matter of fact, if he did ever want to reach his base here in Oregon, it would probably be easier to fly into Boise and cross the Idaho/Oregon border to reach his hayseed base in Eastern Oregon than it would be to risk seeing the pussy-hat-clad libtards in Portland that would line his route eastward from PDX.

Anyway…after all that – basically announcing to the I-84 world that he had a two inch penis – when fully aroused – and a four foot foreskin, it turns out that this abortion of a human didn’t even need to be in the right hand lane, anyway. Just as the lane exited from the 84 to the 205, this unreliable COVID test of a human whipped into the center lane to hurry home toward Gresham.

All of his lane jockeying and hostile driving was for naught. If he’d just been in the center lane to begin with, all of his angst would have been avoided.

Stupid American.

If not for the potential for negative collateral damage, I’d say he should keep on driving like an asshole. I’m sure the odds will catch up with him soon enough – I just can’t stand the thought of a decent human being being taken out with him.

Alas.

Seriously, though…road rage was what this guy missed after two months in lockdown?

But At Least My D!ck Is Bigger Than His…

Dos Peliculas

Here’s the Quarantine Level of procrastination I’ve achieved. I am openly admitting that I can do one thing per day.

Now, don’t think this means I have to decide between showering and eating. I’m factoring those basic activities – that I almost always succeed at on a daily basis, almost – out of the equation. Likewise, involuntary biological functions like breathing and pooping. Although, I had Chipotle today, so let’s put that last one on standby for a bit, eh?

No, these are what you’d call larger scale accomplishments that I’m succeeding at in the singular.

Writing.

Exercising.

Lyfting.

Things that require a chunk of time.

The pisser is that I started the quarantine off with promise.

I exercised consistently every third day for the first month. I took 5+ mile walks around town on my off days. The amount of time I’d put into being at least somewhat physical each day was anywhere from two to four hours, and I felt great. But then I deprioritized exercise – claiming an off week and considering what changes I wanted to put into the routine after my test week. Never went back.

I participated and completed NaNoWriMo’s April writing camp, exceeding the 50k word threshold and getting to within what I’d say is two chapters of completing my first draft on a new novel. I’d easily spend four hours a day considering how uncomfortable my barstools are while tapping out anywhere from 2-5k words each day. I even went into that goal determined to come out of it and go into editing my second non-fiction book, but that has also gone to hell.

I’d drive four days a week, committing to a 10 ride goal and usually spending about four hours, minimum in the car on my drive days. I actually have been focused lately on stretching my driving shifts so I can tweak my week to three days of driving while still achieving my weekly financial goal. That’s been more miss than hit, though. I’ve only hit what would be the revised daily dollar goal twice in the last two weeks. Regardless, though, on days where I actively choose not to write or exercise, I’ll generally make myself drive.

That part isn’t so bad. I’ve finally started making extra principle payments on Angela – the new to me BMW, because cars need names! – and finally bought a router/modem combo so that I can tell Comcast to shove theirs up their ass. If I recall correctly – dicey, I know – they charge either $11 or $14/month to rent theirs. Whichever it is, what I spent on those monthly charges in a year easily amounts to more than I gave Bezos to buy my own. Even if I have to replace my personal modem every year, I’ll save money. However, I’ve had my current Comcast modem for three years. You’d think they’d write it off as paid off at this point.

Bastards.

As a result of this lack of motivation and accomplishment, I’m watching movies that have been buried in my queue for friggin’ ever.

Hardly an accomplishment to offset what I’m not accomplishing. But, here I am – notably dragging you along with me now, dear reader.

Last week I checked two such movies off my list – hence the name of this entry. In Spanish, no less.

The two movies were 2012’s Perks of Being a Wallflower and 2017’s Death of Stalin, both of which I had wanted to see in the theaters when they were out. In each of those instances, I had also failed to motivate myself to accomplishing a simple goal.

I guess in that frame, maybe watching them is an accomplishment to crow about.

Especially Death of Stalin, as it turns out. What an ordeal.

Let me tell you, if you’ve ever felt proud for saving $15 on a movie ticket by not seeing a movie, you know how I feel now. This show had such promise for me. A movie about an actual historical event. During an oppressively and globally sad era, no less. And it was billed as a comedy!

Right up my alley. But then they threw in bonuses like some of my favorite performers – Jason Isaacs, Michael Palin, Steve Buscemi and the now disgraced Jeffrey Tambor – doing experimental acting by playing real life Russian political players but using essentially their native accents. So, you’d think I’d have loved it.

It was so boring.

I was looking forward to something close to Stooge level neurotic bumbling through these real life occurrences as these actors portrayed Stalin’s closest confidants attempting to manage the situation his death created.

No.

Just like quarantine is two months (and counting) of my life I won’t get back, this was two hours of my life I’d like a do over for.

Here’s hoping The Death of Trump is a much better movie – that can’t be made soon enough. Keep popping those hydrochloroquil pills, champ!

Perks of Being a Wallflower, on the other reel, was a delightful surprise of a movie. Ezra Klein, Emma Watson and Logan Lehrman in basically introductory lead roles for the two males and Emma’s first post-Potter Star turn. I was kind of irked at myself for depriving myself of the experience for nearly a decade. It was truly a movie that I could identify with:

An out gay High School character – representing for me the freedom I didn’t have available to myself in HS.

Small town life in the 90s or early aughts.

Unrequited love.

Basic Anywhere, USA HS angst.

A great soundtrack.

Writing that captured a moment but pulled you into the story – at least for me – as more than an observer.

Oh! And actual mix tapes.

Actually, I plan to watch it again – and not just for the procrastination value of that act.

It was a good example of what procrastination can result in – seeing these two films.

On the one hand, I put off something that I’d wanted to do that resulted in a sense of relief at having deprived myself in the moment.

But on the other hand, the way I felt at having missed Perks for so long…well, it’s giving me something to ruminate on concerning my procrastinatorial (Chrisism) ways.

Getting stuck in my head over that oughta kill a few days…

How about you? Are you still posting pics of bread you baked or the Caldona Coffee you’ve made or are you starting to struggle to keep yourself and your discipline away from the couch these days?

Dos Peliculas