The Silence of the Ham

The Silver Fox was up last weekend. We went and ran some errands after coffee on…I want to say Saturday? I could be off a day or two, though. Time is a constant, my memory is not.

Anyway, while we ran his errands, he was multi-tasking by also ignoring my input about paint colors for his bathroom.

Sidebar: He’d already decided on Cable Knit Sweater based off the name alone, since there is some inside joke about that between him, his not-estranged-enough ex-wife and (unbeknownst to them) Taylor Swift.

That being the case, I was entertaining myself. Alternately looking at plants and seagulling him with unwanted opinions about paint he was pretending to consider.

This child was more excited than the Silver Fox

Somewhere between me finding an unusual looking plant and a hand painted planter to kill it in, I shared a story with him about Facebook. Since he’s not on any social media and he wasn’t listening to my opinions, we were basically punishing each other for sport.

The Facebook Story:

An old friend of mine – not as old as the Silver Fox, but “old” as in I’ve known him longer than The Fox…which is really saying something! – had sent me a late night text pointing out my conspicuous absence from Facebook.

The reason I had gone quiet was my own fault. I’d forgotten a major life rule: Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

Honorable mention…a Mark Twain quote: Never argue with an idiot, they’ll drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.

The idiots and stupid Americans people in question were from a Facebook group I’ve been a part of for a few years called DamnedPortlanders. Usually, they post about neighborhood free libraries or new mandalas that appear around neighborhood intersections or cute hidden gardens.

Not this time, though. This time it was about Local Restaurant Chains vs Minimum Wage – read it, it’s a descent into over-educated liberal insanity.

But knowing I was missed caused me to end my Facebook embargo. Then I went in, quit some groups – starting with DamnedPortlanders – and deleted about 15% of my friends. Most of whom were just folks I’d met once or twice while amusing myself at bars, folks I knew only on social media because they were friends of friends or, in about a half dozen cases, guy candy.

As I said, sharing this story was simply an exercise in pyrrhic entertainment…and he didn’t much care. But I got a little humble brag in in the telling, some people miss me when I’m not around.

Subtle, right?

The best part about all this? He decided he also liked the planter I’d discovered and decided to buy one…right before telling me that I couldn’t buy one because between our respective coffees, the gallon of paint and his hand painted planter, we didn’t have enough hands to carry it all home.

I mentally debated arguing – again, just for sport – but decided that this was his errands mission. I could make a separate trip for mine…but I’m telling him they were on sale after I do!

What makes this phenomenon remarkable is how many others are going through similar situations. Just the other morning, I awoke to an IM from a friend that she had deleted both of her blogs and didn’t want me to worry about her silence. It was just because she was tired of the petty backlash she suffered when mentioning friends in her blog posts.

She, like me, used nom de blog plume type masking when mentioning her friends. Unlike me and the epic brand hawk, Sacha, all of her friends seemed to mind – even though very few (if any) people would bother or care to decipher the monikers she used.

Sacha has his own special code name in my phone book…

I’m fortunate, I guess, that I only have Sacha to worry about when I write. It’s entertaining, in a way…watching him bend over backward to convince me that he’s not reading my blog. It’s always some vague “mutual friend” from Facebook that allegedly tells him about a post.

Fun fact: My WordPress hasn’t been tethered to my Facebook page since last August, so when I wrote about him about a month and a half ago and he jumped into a shrill textapalooza with both feet…well, if it walks like a Sacha and lies like a Sacha – it’s a Sacha.

Aside from those stories about overly precious friends and exes, though, I was glad to hear my friend Benjamina espouse the same instinct to cull. Maybe that’s something that being in lockdown for 15 months has instilled in us. After all, if we spent that long incommunicado when distractions were at an all time low and entertainment was at a premium, then I think the onus is on the “friend” to prove they should remain on that less and less important friends list. For my part, if someone was a legit part of my life – usually meaning they were a schoolmate or a past work colleague – they got a pass, even if we didn’t presently interact much on social media. I made a few exceptions for active friends of friends and blog buddies, otherwise I dropped the unfriend hammer. Most embarrassing for the folks who didn’t make the proverbial cut would be the nearly half-dozen friends on my list who have died over the years. They may not have survived life, but they survived the friends list cull of 2021…I don’t want to let go of the last physical tether I have to them.

I was a little more liberal or sparing on Instagram, by comparison. After all, that’s really more of a “follow your interests” environment by design.

Of course, that immediately bit me straight in the ass.

There’s a kid from Glasgow that I know from his blog here on WordPress. He’s self-published several pamphlets books, so we have a couple of similar interests…three, if sexual orientation counts as an interest. Although, at this point in my life, I’d call sexual orientation a disinterest of mine.

I’ve even bought one of his books. $10 for less than 75 pages…that tracks for what too many millennials expect as an ROI for their efforts: minimal effort, maximum return. Conversely, my books are all well over that page count – by magnitudes – and my target price range is $9.99-12.99. I want to deliver bang for my reader’s dollar. And that apostrophe was intentionally placed in the singular possessive, thank you.

He’s actually a late-20s guy, not a kid. Despite his childish behavior in what turned out to be our second to last interaction on social media.

Like I said, it was Instagram. He’s posted a pic to his story with the caption “Time to shave”. In looking at the pic – which was an extreme close up of his chin – I saw some white stubble. I thought it was cute, a soon to be expired twink calling himself out for having white whiskers and playfully responded with “Do I see some white on that stubble?” Then I went to bed, because the PNW and Glasgow are in very different time zones, right?!?

I awoke to see him having made two efforts at responding “Rude” and following them up with “And now it’s deleted”. Then I saw that he’d blocked me.

Ok…wow.

He’s been very vocal about his bouts of anxiety and depression, both on his Instagram and in his blog. As a matter of fact, weeks after the Instagram incident, he posted about exactly that and how COVID exacerbated those conditions for him. And oddly how he’d noticed people coming out of their COVID hibernations with slightly wonky social behaviors – like they’d forgotten how to people during lockdown.

Of course, I completely agreed with him. Which led to our last social media interaction here on WordPress. I just couldn’t help but use the story of how someone had blocked me on social media for incorrectly guessing why they’d post a pic captioned “Time to shave”.

Not only did that story go over his head…

…but he liked it. As in, he completely forgot the entire episode and even reading my comment didn’t trigger his memory that I was describing his own broken behavioral shittiness.

What the literal fuck? I was embarrassed for him. Being so incensed that he not only blocked me, but deleted a post from his own social media. If that wasn’t a memory that stuck in his mind hard enough to recall after being directly reminded of the situation, I’m left to wonder if he wasn’t that offended or if he’s that offended by so many people that he cannot recall who got the block hammer and for what manufactured reason.

He should take a page out of Rainman’s book and keep a list…

Yeah, I went there.

And, for the record, I unfollowed his blog. That was something that actually made me feel bad. For my part, I think if I’m living in a society that it’s incumbent upon me – and each of us – to do our part to lift others up…to help them be better people or have an easier time navigating this life we’re living.

Imagine if that was our collective goal. What a world that would be.

My hope in making this comment to this guy was that he’d read my account of what he’d done and what my intention had been in making my comment on his Instagram story and he’d have an a-ha moment and we could bury the proverbial hatchet.

I thought that the worst case scenario would be that he just blocked me from commenting on future post to his blog. Nowhere in my expected response was that he would be so oblivious as to not even get that my comment was directed at him…and that he’d actually like my comment.

I really didn’t know what to do with that level of cluelessness. Like I said, I unfollowed his blog. I know what they say about the irreparable nature of stupid, but I don’t think he’s stupid.

Naive.

Maybe a little lazy brained…but not stupid.

I had led that horse right up to the water’s edge – not much more I can do, if it dies of dehydration I’m not sticking around to beat its corpse.

In a barely interesting corollary, I’ve noticed a lot more bogus follower activities. Y’know…obviously fake accounts following me.

Mostly on Instagram, but there’s been a few on Facebook, too. And you’ve got to admit, some of their tactics are hits – like the new Instagram follower named progressivevote or the blog followers whose blog descriptions are “alcohol” or “beer”…they know the target audience. That Jane_Vera0116, though. Swing and a really big miss.

But maybe they are relying on the incipient loneliness the past year-plus of lockdowns has created. Or the desperation what I’m imagining to be the obvious unfriending and unfollowing on social media is creating in people who don’t know their value without the “likes” to back it up.

If COVID only made us worse to endure, I’m wondering if we shouldn’t just let the GOP have its way on labeling Climate Change as a hoax…because maybe we aren’t worth saving. Because just as unfixable as stupid is, saving someone or some species that can’t decide it wants to be saved is a fool’s errand for any Samaritans amongst us.

Maybe it’s time this victim of his own self-described savior complex just shuts up and watches the world burn.

Nah…I’m more optimistic than that! I’ll go buy that plant and see if it will stay alive and keep me company.

The Silence of the Ham

Just Go Back To Sleep

You *woke*, bro?

Over the past week or infinity, I’ve crossed paths with several *woke* people or groups. People, actually, whose values and politics align with my own.

Strangely, it has not gone well for me. Witness:

Facebook: Minimum Wage

I’m not going to lie, I’m still scared to look at my Facebook notifications for fear of seeing what a woke mob of Portlanders has left there for me. As a matter of fact, since this happened, I’ve likely opened my Facebook app less than a half-dozen times.

My crime? Standing up for a local restaurant chain called McMenamin’s. They had posted an ad for cooks.

The gall.

Actually, that was the lead comment by a woke Portlander who saw the ad on Craigslist and decided to post it on the DamnPortlanders Facebook page. A page that I’m quitting, if it hasn’t already expelled me.

Let me tell you about McMenamin’s crime before I go into details on my own. They posted this Craigslist ad for cooks: minimum wage (which is currently $13 and change, but moves to $14/hr on July 1st and $14.75 next July 1st) plus tips, medical/dental, 401k, PTO…not bad, in my opinion. Most of my service industry friends have no insurance since they are usually consigned to part-time positions. And 401k? Forget about it.

This woke Portlander was offended that a company would offer a minimum wage job in today’s job market, particularly in Portland.

My crime? I simply pointed out that Portland’s minimum wage is nearly double the federal minimum wage and that maybe there were other levers to pull to ensure Portland remains a livable city for our service industry workers – particularly since it’s such a big part of our culture. I may have also mentioned that attacking our own liberal policies made us look a bit schizophrenic.

Remember our unofficial town motto: Portland, where young people go to retire.

Anyway, I wasn’t expecting gratitude from my comment. I just wanted to throw a little voice of (t)reason into the dialogue. I’ll tell you what I wasn’t expecting…attitude.

I’m not even kidding. Given where the comment melee ended up, it actually started in a benign – if only by comparison – place. The OP claimed she worked on the minimum wage campaign five years ago and that it was out of date already. Without citing context, of course. She said that $15 should be the minimum.

I reminded her that $14.75 and $15 are pretty damn close, wondering if she was really upset about what amounted to $10/week. I also pointed out that she shouldn’t be upset by employers offering the minimum allowable wage – they were meeting the state’s baseline requirement of employers.

Her counteroffer was that the minimum should be $22/hr, $26 if you work downtown.

Ok, merely moments before, she’d declared that $15 should be the minimum. Now she’s saying $22 should be the minimum – do you feel like I was necessary in this debate? She seemed to be negotiating against herself just fine.

The split minimum wage is nothing new to Oregon. We created a three tiered minimum wage when we voted on it back in 2015.

There’s also a Rural tier that’s not pictured. The interesting thing from this last round of increases is the unexpected fallout: job loss. We’re famously one of the few states where you aren’t allowed to pump your own gas – we’re job creators like that. However, after the minimum wage hike, rural communities were allowed to eliminate those jobs and customers pump themselves there.

Basically, in small towns where there are fewer jobs, we managed to make things worse under the auspices of making them better. Now, don’t get me wrong…I’m all for a livable minimum wage. I’m also all for friggin’ oil and gas companies not getting away with crap like that.

I’m also the guy who pulls up to a gas station in Vancouver, Washington – and now Hood River and beyond – and sits in his car waiting for no one to come pump my gas. Basically, I’m a big dummy.

Anyhoo.

Asked the OP if she really thought the guy that takes my order at my favorite food cart downtown should be making $52k a year, because that’s what full-time work at $26/hr nets out to annually. I also asked if she thought a food cart could sustain that salary level, since I very much doubted that the owners of the cart made that much.

It got crazy from there.

Crazier.

One guy did a lovely math story problem for me involving rent on a one-bedroom at a crazy $1800/month rent, plus medical insurance, utilities, etc minus working full-time at $15/hr. Yes, the result was a negative number.

Also yes, he thinks a minimum wage earner is going to be dumb enough to live in the Pearl. Or alone. He seemed offended by my reply – a story about people having roommates.

Then someone jumped in suggesting a $30/hr minimum wage. Because, of course Portland should be 4x the federal minimum.

Who the fuck are these dumbasses?

I made another attempt at pointing out how taxing companies and the wealthy appropriately versus letting them hide profits and grow wealth through loopholes would help us provide healthcare for all. Oddly, that’s kind of a wash for employers in my mind, since they would have to pay taxes but wouldn’t have to bear the burden of paying for the administration of a healthcare plan. It’s a double win for employees, too. They wouldn’t have to pay a portion of their employer’s healthcare offering, plus the obstacle preventing employers from offering full-time jobs versus part-time jobs would be eliminated. Well, one of the obstacles, I know that some employers still need part-time workers to allow for scheduling flexibility.

Honestly, after that immersion into literal liberal retardation, I wouldn’t be surprised if I didn’t just opt out of the DamnPortlanders group, but go as far as deleting my Facebook profile altogether

Regardless, this is a great example of people not thinking for themselves – or maybe not having the critical thinking skills to extrapolate an action plan that is actually actionable…and solves more problems than it creates.

Last time around, we eliminated a few pump jockey jobs. This time around we’d be eliminating small business if these woke jokers had their way.

But they don’t seem primed to compromise. A behavior that makes me think they might just be happy being unhappy.

Twitter: Feminism

I recently shared a post that I came across on the AppleNews feed on my Twitter page. It was an opinion piece by a former member of Congress.

My “offensive” comment underlined in red…

Overall, pretty innocuous re-post. In it, the author lays out a case that I was surprised to find out wasn’t common sense. Then I remembered 70 million Americans who would bristle at the accusation that they possess common sense and were willing to vote to prove it.

Enter the overwoke feminists.

The first comment came in: Can we try that again without the misogyny?

She jumped on this pretty fast for a blind Tweeter…

Ok, A) “bitch” is nearly as versatile a word as “fuck”, so if you know me…feel free to assume my intentions. If you don’t, methinks thou art projecting too much. Maybe try seeking first to understand instead of leading with an attack.

You can see the “Tweet Unavailable” above my comment, indicating she blocked me.

And, B) of all the people who need a feminist to have their back…Marjorie Taylor Greene hardly seems high on that list. As a matter of fact, I bet she’d decline any defense of her character and respect-worthiness from a feminist.

But this former follower of mine – a female using a gay pride flag emoji in her Twitter handle – wasn’t going to let anything like non-consensual support stop her. I encouraged her to check her assumptions and maybe try assuming best intentions versus worse, but she wasn’t having that. She even tagged in a friend of hers to join in the attack. I felt like the wounded gazelle to their simultaneous hunter lionesses and scavenger hyenas. As noted above, this woman is blind, but I’d be surprised if perhaps she was only blind to the opinions of others.

Once again: the problem with liberals is that when we have a chance to do something for the greater good, we distract ourselves with infighting versus collaboration. The result is an epic display of ineffectiveness.

The Street: Racial Justice

On the anniversary of George Floyd’s murder, there was a vigil-protest here in Portland. Because that’s what you get in a woke city whose unofficial forecast is “Cloudy, with a chance of protests”.

Commemorating nothing, I’d gone out to Kelly’s Olympian for a couple pints of the good stuff after clocking my 10 rides for the day. As I left – crossing 5th & Washington on the diagonal – I heard bucket drums behind me and turned to look once I’d cleared the intersection.

Sure enough, there was a wall of people dressed in black bloc just coming across 4th and up Washington toward me. A little excited to be catching a front row seat at one of my city’s marches in support of social justice, I pulled out my phone to capture a video.

Me: getting in trouble for basically standing.

What I hadn’t seen was the marchers’ advance team. Usually a few folks on bikes or motorcycles that ride ahead of the march to stop traffic prior to the marchers’ arrival. Because: safety first! I hadn’t noticed these two because they were on rented e-scooters – which I generally pay as much attention to as a mosquito.

They took issue with me taking a video. More accurately, they deferred authority to a vague “them” figure instead of being adults and just asking me not to film.

That’s not very Darnella Frazier of them.

I’m not someone who can physically defend myself, so I’m not sure why I mouth off as frequently as I do. I am good with words, though…so, maybe I do know why I pop off like I do.

I also bristle easily at intimidation. And these goombahs menacing me without owning it kind of demanded fucking with. I actually posted the video – along with my frustration – to my Instagram. It was there that one of the local protest pages filled me in on a possible rationale for the protesters request to not be filmed: videos could potentially be subpoenaed as evidence or to help identify marchers.

Ok. Sure…it’s a stretch, in my opinion. But I can respect a reasonable request with some context versus a vague threat from a disembodied “them”.

I actually thanked the local page that provided the insight, because I hate not knowing the “why” behind something I’m expected to do. Hate it. As a matter of fact, my complain-asking these types of questions and listening to the rationale behind things like ACAB, Defund/Disband the Police, Trans Rights, TERFs, and countless other movements that initially repelled me due to a too liberal use of hyperbole for my taste has helped me understand the actual meaning behind each group’s messaging.

I guess I have a thirst for knowledge. It’s like a sickness…

My question though: Why can’t the advance team use a specific reason like I was given after the fact while making their request versus just barfing out a “Hey, we don’t care, but they might…” and expecting me to fall in line?

Seems like police level bully behavior to me. “Because I said” is such a winning argument with me.

Instagram: Body Insecurities

There’s a fellow blogger and indie gay writer that I follow(ed) on Instagram as well. He lives in the UK and shared many of my frustrations with The Gays – apparently, we’re a global pandemic with our carelessly selfish behaviors.

But he’s also one of those gays that has self-diagnosed with anxiety and depression. I should have known that many red flags would only lead to bullshit shenanigans.

Last month, he posted a close up of his lower face with only the caption “It’s time to shave”. He sports stubble off and on, so I thought he’d been referring to his body’s follicular pigmentation betrayal.

I.

Was.

Wrong.

Ok, so I assumed incorrectly. I suppose that gives him carte blanche to return the favor by incorrectly assuming my own intentions. Where I thought I’d been on his wavelength and sent a cute comment, he’d been referring to gawd knows what else and chose instead to assume I’d been trying to offend him. By the time I came to awoke the next morning, I was blocked and he had apparently deleted the post. As you can see, I originally liked his “post deleted” comment because I thought he’d been responding playfully…then I scrolled to the final message.

It’s not like we were ever going to have an acquaintanceship outside of social media, but I’m still sad about his decisions. But that’s the trouble too often these days – and I refuse to use the term too liberally, so I’ll just let you get there on your own. Perhaps, though, if he didn’t allow himself to react rashly after listening to his more self-sabotaging demons, he wouldn’t be self-diagnosing with anxiety.

What do I know, though? I’ve just been dealing with a bunch of the same crap he whines about regularly for a couple decades longer. Of course, I’m the enemy.

The truly sad news is that I’ve likely forgotten some recent examples. But overall, it seems people are – and I don’t know why this surprises me – just sleepwalking their way through wokeness.

My take? Being woke may as well be broke if you aren’t willing to think critically about the conversations you participate in. If all you’re doing is regurgitating talking points or assuming worst intentions without listening to the other person, you’re not going to help anyone.

More likely, as in my case, you’re likely just going to alienate likeminded folk.

Just Go Back To Sleep

Barf, aight.

Ok, admittedly, that possibly makes you work to decipher my post’s meaning.

It’s about a Bar Fight that I found myself unable to avoid last week. Don’t worry, though, I’m neither lover nor fighter, so before you worry…it was a non-physical encounter.

Words only.

Promise.

But seriously, if this type of scenario is how I finally punch the clock on life, someone needs to write the Redshirt Diaries entry on it, okay?!?

This just happened to occur the night after we emerged from Lockdown 3.0 here in Multnomah county. We came out of it on a Friday, but I did my usual drive time from 8-midnight that night because there’s an 80s music show on my local station that I like to listen to.

Plus, bars on weekends…<shudder>. My saying is “I don’t drink with amateurs”; so weekends, St Patrick’s Day, Cinco…all those big drinking holidays, you can find me comfortably situated on my couch.

For Kelly’s Olympian, though…I ventured out on a Saturday.

Solo, of course. But I was still there showing support for my local favorite. Plus, it was a Saturday in the ghost town that is downtown Portland these days, so I figured it would be pretty empty at 9 PM. I figured I’d go in, have a few beers and do a lil video lottery before the mandated 11 PM closing time.

It started off with the best of intentions. I walk in, chit-chat with the two bartenders after ordering my Pallet Jack until one of the other three customers comes up to order something. I make my way back to the video lottery corner of shame lounge area.

It. Is. Packed.

The six machines have been reconfigured in three back-to-back pods to promote social distancing with one two top bar table positioned by one of the pods. Strictly speaking, it’s not perfectly socially distanced, but it’s not usually heavily populated enough to make it that much of a concern.

Saturday night, I was a little uncomfortable, but less so knowing I was two weeks-plus from my second shot. I took a seat at the only free machine and started spinning, removing my mask only to sip. These minor inconveniences aside, I managed to make a little small talk with the two guys chowing down on bar food while a friend of theirs held court on my preferred machine.

“Held court” was too nice a phrase…he was full on bloviating. I hadn’t gotten a good look at him on my way in, because I know what my eyes can do even while I’m policing them. Adding a mask to that situation makes it worse.

And I hadn’t placed the Foghorn Leghorn quality of his voice yet.

You see…I’d run into this blowhard before. I just hadn’t realized it yet.

The last time – as would turn out to be the case this time – he had brought a co-worker with him. Throughout my stay there, he had pretty much bashed this woman into obliteration over work frustrations and stuff. She was pretty much on the defensive the entire evening, apologizing and trying to placate this fat old white guy. From the sounds of it, he’d brought her in on a project with his company and at best seemed disinclined to let her forget his role in her good fortune. Worst case, it sounded like she was outperforming him in their partnership and that was not something he chose to view as a feather in his cap for choosing such a great business partner.

For my part, I endured his booming drawl, letting him off with a few glares he chose to ignore. I was, however ready to say something if the conversation turned to sexual orientation in any way. Not to profile, but she had a very low maintenance haircut, if you get my drift. They also seemed to be in the construction or related type field.

On Saturday, though, as this blowhard started to alienate the other gamblers, I realized that five of the eight people in the lounge were with him.

Co-workers, once again.

The other two players gave up on peace and left. Apparently, I’m not the only person who doesn’t appreciate this guy using our bar as a WeWork.

Figuring I could manage his company for another hour before closing, I changed machines just to be out of the direct path of his sound waves. He’d already hit the ATM once, so I figured he was on the downhill side of his stay, anyway. I decided on the machine right by the ATM to be as out of his way as possible.

A couple of his captives cohorts went out to smoke and never came back. Another drifted out a few moments later for a drink. It was just him, one poor victim and me.

Somehow, he got louder.

Oh, it’s because he was standing right behind me at the ATM. Must be having a bum luck night. And have either higher withdrawal limits than I do or was tapping multiple accounts to finance his evening’s entertainment.

I turned and glared at him as he yelled across the room behind me. In a moment of self-awareness I was surprised he possessed, he realized I had leveled my eye beams at him.

“Oh, sorry”, he mumbled from behind his mask.

“I appreciate that. I just moved to get away from you.”

For whatever reason, he went back to yelling at his co-worker across the room. I went back to my trademark grumpy old man low key seething. Nothing worse than someone who apologizes for something and then keeps doing it.

That’s about when he started in on specific complaints about work. Apparently, he wasn’t getting his therapeutic value from generic bitching.

He pointedly began by reminding his sole remaining hostage that he brought them into the project. That earned him a little fealty.

But not enough, I guess?

Because his next move was to start talking about how hard it was for him, since his company was requiring minority business partners in the contracts they were awarding.

There it is.

Maybe it’s that the other four Latin business partners of his had seemingly permanently decamped to the outdoor seating so they could smoke…or not be around this dickwad, but fealty and deference from one Hispanic man wasn’t cutting the mustard. He’d ordered up five sycophants and was only getting one.

He started going in full bore on the manners in which this last guy – I’m guessing the boss or most senior of the group? – and his company were not delivering. In a fit of “no leg to stand on”-ness, in the 20 minutes I listened to this guy hammer away at this fella, he listed not one specific or actionable criticism.

Just…it’s hard.

Or…there’s so many other companies I would have chosen if I could have.

Nothing specific.

And this poor guy on the receiving end was just vaguely apologizing for equally vague complaints.

Me: You know, I’m not sure how your business is set up, but every organization I’ve ever worked for – as a people manager, mind you – has had private areas for these types of conversations. During business hours, no less!

Foghorn Leghorn <looking stunned>: Why don’t you mind your own business? This doesn’t involve you.

Now, the guy he’s been berating this whole time turns and gives me the most genuine look of relief I think I’ve ever seen. But then turns back to the guy in full suck-up mode. I felt bad.

Me: Since you don’t seem to have an inside voice and we’re barely 10 feet apart, you’re forcing your business on me. It’s non-consensual.

FL: Look, I don’t know what your problem is, we’re just trying to talk.

Me: And I’m just trying to have a few beers and blow a few bucks in peace. But since my complaint wasn’t specific enough for you: I’m tired of listening to you “you people” this poor guy. You’re a racist, I get it. I don’t want to hear it anymore. Shut up or go outside.

FL: <sputters indignantly>

His hostage assures him it’s ok, he understands. I didn’t. I realized that Foghorn was blaring something at me, but I’d been straining to hear what his companion was saying. I wanted to gut check my position, maybe I had heard wrong or blown something out of proportion – but I didn’t think so, I’ve been a victim and know what it sounds like. Foghorn’s victim not saying I misunderstood led me to believe my ears hadn’t deceived me.

Foghorn was still blaring at me about minding my own business. I cut him off.

Me: Look, it’s one thing when it’s an isolated incident, but I know that the last time I saw you here, you were doing pretty much this exact same act with a woman. So let me just say that, as a bystander, your misogynistic and racist bellowing is not ok. If you truly think I’m wrong, have me thrown out.

His co-worker was still in placate mode – although I saw the flash of understanding in his eyes when I pointed out I’d seen this behavior from Foghorn before. He said he was about ready to call it a night, and invited Foghorn to go with. Surprisingly, Foghorn acquiesced.

I breathed a sigh of relief and enjoyed the next few minutes of peace.

The bartender came back to bus and I could tell he was smirking behind his mask.

“Sorry…I wasn’t trying to cause a scene or start anything. I just couldn’t validate his words with my silence.”

The bartender laughed and told me I wasn’t wrong. It made me wonder how often people in positions like his are put in similar scenarios…and can’t say anything because: customers.

That made me sad. It also clued me into this guy’s possible MO. Taking folks he secretly hates or resents out on his expense account to dress them down for not owning a dick or being non-white away from work. Curious behavior, but one I completely have no trouble believing.

What’s shocking is that none of his victims have complained over his good old boy head. Since I know this was his open tab from how he permissively encouraged the others to get another drink or round while I was present, it would put his actions under the umbrella of any anti-harassment or zero tolerance policies his company has in place. I hope one day this impotent skid mark of a human either gets his comeuppance or (preferably) sees the errors of his actions and makes amends.

Sadly, based on my own past experiences, I doubt either will happen. That’s a barf situation that is anything but aight.

But if you read my blog regularly, you probably saw my call to action at the end of a post a week or two back encouraging everyone to respectfully but firmly stand up and point out an unacceptable behavior from our stupider American country people. Maybe I was more buzzed less respectful than I could have been Saturday, but I am out there stumbling walking the talk.

Barf, aight.

The C.R.S. Chronicles #4

A while back, I posted something about one of my favorite drums to beat: Stupid Americans.

I had this list of petty and not-so-petty grievances that I wanted to talk about. However, in a love child like twist of my own stupidity and C.R.S. when it came time to enumerate them…I forgot.

Well, guess what?

I remembered!

In retrospect, it was quite an impressive forget. The subject is a series of radio ads whose point seems to be preventing the dumbest among us from dragging down our life expectancy numbers.

Looking at you, here, all men everywhere.

Yeah, I forgot a radio campaign that I probably hear two dozen times a week.

At the time of the original post, the subject of this Public (dis)Service Announcement was not leaving babies in cars.

For what it’s worth, I’m all for protecting babies. Especially from stupid parents. That’s why my vote goes to vasectomizing all men at whatever time is appropriate. Pretty sure that means puberty versus birth, which is too bad, they could just do the vasectomy at the same time that they – unpopular opinion warning – rip off that fucking foreskin.

Because, who are we kidding…you think people who had to be retail Hy as an adult how to wash their hands properly last Spring are taking the time to properly clean a foreskin?

Hell, since I’m on a rant – and I think I’m right about waiting until puberty – let’s just CRISPR out the appendix and foreskin and then it’s smooth sailing til puberty. Actually, are we still that attached to toenails?

Food for thought. Sure, it’s junk food, but…🤷🏽‍♂️

<end rant>

Back to the point.

The ads were paid for by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA.

Look what even shows up in my Instagram ads!

In the pot roast baby ads, they dramatically underemphasize – to get dumb people to keep listening – the stupidity behind the need for this ad. Suggesting things like “maybe the day care is closed today” or “normally your spouse drops the kiddo off in the morning” before going on to how a poor, innocent adult person might understandably get out of their car, lock it and walk away without realizing they left their child in it.

Y’know, basically infantilizing the parents instead of screaming, “Hey, fuckwads! Don’t forget to take your STDs kids out of the car with you when you get out!”

The real zinger here? This line:

Every year, dozens of children die after being left in a hot car”

<needle skip>

Dozens?!?

You’re telling me that our – not you, Donald – tax dollars paid for a national radio ad campaign for an issue that presumably doesn’t even impact an average of one innocent child per state? Not to mention that these are the folks who made us start putting child seats in the back seat anyway. If they’d just left well enough alone and let these dumbass parents put their onboard babies in the front with them…problem avoided.

Not that that’s a superior alternative, I’m just pointing out the irony.

Having potentially saved dozens of kids last Summer and Fall – and who am I kidding, we probably have to prorate that number downward to account for the partial year that the ad ran – they’ve now changed focus.

The new campaign is…

Don’t try and out run a train at railroad crossings!

Oh, just come on now!

Having saved the babies of unfit parents, they’re now trying to save the soon to be absentee fathers? For what it’s worth, I’d bet you could solve both problems by not intervening in Darwin’s realm where the dads’ lives and trains are concerned.

Let there be more lives that end unceremoniously with the words

Hey, watch this!

…and let’s just see if that fixes the whole baby pot roast thing.

It’s far less invasive than “vasectomies for everyone”! But I think we should keep that one on deck.

The C.R.S. Chronicles #4

But, but…

…I don’t even want to run or hide.

Seriously, did who ever coined the phrase, “You can run, but you can’t hide” ever consider this scenario?

Because, honestly, I want to run toward this particular menace.

As per my usual, I spent some time in bed this morning, reading the news and emails. Two of those emails were business newsletters.

One featured a story about how McDonalds was pulling its presence from Walmart stores. The plan was to go from 1000 restaurant-in-a-store locations to a mere 150. That story went on to asked the question:

What should replace the Golden Arches?

Of course, my mind said “Chipotle, duh.” Like I go to Walmart.

The other was headlined:

Free Chips

…but those ended up being microprocessors from a story about the chip supply chain shortage that is hindering production in the states, and across the globe from the sound of it. But my mind immediately went to Chipotle’s unique signature chips when I saw it.

Then, there’s this email from just before 10 this morning.

…so, that’s helpful.

And I swear that I saw Chipotle ads when I was doing my social media scroll after reading the news.

What the eff?!?

But I’ll show them. Tempt me and I will succumb.

I’m only a man, after all.

But I’m a grumpy old man, so when I cave, I’m going to a local burrito joint.

So.

There.

But, but…

Monstrous Mash

You ever have a moment where you feel like you should say something, but you just don’t feel like you have anything to say?

No?

Just moi?

Blogger problems, I guess.

Anyway, with nothing really to say in particular, I am undaunted. I also have this ginormous glass of wine to keep me company

So…yeah.

And other than a productive weekend for mine truly, I wasn’t celebrating anything. I just like to distress my doctor whenever he asks how my diet it.

I’ll be adding cheesecake to the lineup before this bottle goes into the recycler.

Wondering why I underlined that passage about celebrating? Because I wasn’t until I opened up my WordPress app to tap out this…whatever it becomes. I had a push notification, so I clicky-clicked it to see what was up

…which is really just code for WordPress telling me my annual domain hosting fees are due again.

Mmm. That’s tasty wine.

A blog buddy of mine – who I’d love to link to, but she has two blogs (one public and the other anonymous) and I don’t want to fuck that up for her – does this weekly recap she calls a Chex Mix post, I generally find that slice of life writing fun to read and hers are quick snd easy reads.

So, given my nothing-to-talk-about-ness I thought I’d try something in that style. Of course, I’m a tad verbose, so what she typically accomplishes in a few hundred words will probably run upwards of 2k knowing me.

Buckle up.

Seriously, you’ve been warned.

Writing

A while back I lamented that my writing mojo had mogone and I hadn’t done any work on my work-in-progress novels since last April when I completed a first draft of what I hoped to be the third installment of my No One Of Consequence series. After that admission, I tried to jump start my writerly vibe with daily entries for a week.

The end result seemed to be that I was at least back on the blogging bandwagon. That’s not nothing.

But it don’t pay the bills.

Not that the $20 or so that I rake in from book royalties each month puts much of a dent in my bills. But it usually covers my Natural Gas bill.

By the way, when I say “rake”, I meant one I found in my junk drawer from a desk top Zen Garden I don’t have any more…

I floated the notion back then that I didn’t have a writing spot at home, and that’s why it was hard to get motivated to write at home. Usually, I decamped to the corner cafe for a couple hours several mornings a week to get my productivity juices flowing.

Anyway…after a particularly profitable evening of “socially distanced” drinking a couple weeks back – read that as: I sat at a video lottery machine by myself and swilled beer – I was feeling a little flush and decided to shop around for a desk.

Notice at the top where you can barely make out that it says “redeemable at lottery offices”…yeah, bars typically only cash out winning tickets up to around a grand. So the next day, I drove down to Salem to pick up my winnings.

But due to the pandemic, the offices are closed snd I just had to drop my ticket snd claim form into a drop box. I’m still waiting for that lil check to arrive.

Feeling…unfulfilled after that experience, I decided to treat myself to a few beers. And since no one likes me we’re still socially distanced drinking, I went to another of my regular dive haunts.

Lighting doesn’t strike twice, so I figured I would give Kelly’s a break from my shenaniganery and hit Yur’s.

Too busy.

I decided on Marathon Taverna, which is on Burnside and 18th, so pretty much the farthest edge of my “a good stumble” roaming habitat.

Plus, neither Yur’s nor Marathon have Pallet Jack, so being further away that Kelly’s really works against them. The fine video lottery machines at Marathon seemed interested in making amends, though.

Like, really interested in making amends…

And I kept on winning. I felt bad after about my third trip to the bar to cash out, so I actually switched machines…my lightning strike logic and all.

By the time I left – three beers in – I figured I’d easily pulled $2500 out of the bar. At one point, the waitress told me she’d called the owner to come replenish her kitty.

Don’t get my wrong, I was tipping her well, at one point I left a $150 winning ticket as a tip for my beer instead of my pandemic normal $5 per beer tip.

I guess karma was pleased with my attitude of gratitude.

On my was home, I stumbled up a couple blocks and made three $500 deposits at my bank’s ATM. I woke up the next morning with $350 still on me, which felt nice. I was also strangely proud that that meant I’d payed over $500 back into the machines, too, according to my mental math.

Until last week…when I found $1000 I wasn’t expecting in a coat pocket. I’m not 100% sure that was a leftover from this particular night, but I can’t really think of where else it could possibly have come from.

Loathe as I am to admit my math skills may not be up to snuff after three beers, that is.

Maybe it was dad.

He can be sneaky. My family is quasi-obsessed with making sure we have “walking around” money. And the last few times he’s asked, I’ve proudly assured him my boat was afloat. A pleasant departure from earlier inquiries during my unintentional semi-retirement where the confidence of my responses was more like, “Sure. I’m ok…”

Still, I could see him getting the money in my pocket without my knowing, but not him getting the zipper up.

Blackout Mysteries.

Short story, long? Here’s the desk I ordered

Nice and simple, should be here by Wednesday.

I don’t know why I just said that. Now there’s a potential accountability expectation from you all.

<grimace emoji>

Homework

I have a small…apartment. When I moved back down to Portland from Seattle in 2015, I kept my condo up there and AirBNBed it for about 18 months. Meaning…that once I finally sold that place, I had two homes worth of furniture to fit into one 700 square foot unit.

First World problems.

I divested myself of several odd accessory furnishings at the time, but have since just dealt with the excess.

One big difference between my homes in the two cities is that my Seattle bedroom was huge.

Like, really big.

It was like a suite. I had a king sized bed (now gone), an eight drawer dresser, matching nightstand, a bench (also gone now) and a corner chair that used to belong to my grandmother.

To highlight the Portland home’s less-than-palatial bedroom, I know sleep in a queen sized bed, which is fine. But there’s not enough room in my bedroom for my dresser! I use it as a TV console in the living room…not that the clothes in most of the drawers fit me anymore.

Where is that cheesecake?!?

My unused mountain bike sits up against my kitchen bar because my utility room is too cramped to hold it and still be usually as a laundry room.

I mention this because creating a writing area by adding a desk was basically Furniture Thunderdome.

Something had to go.

Given that I eat in front of the TV, my pub table was the likeliest candidate. Plus, it was also the most reasonable position for a writing space.

I’d gotten this in about 2007 in Seattle after moving into my permanent Seattle residence. I wasn’t entirely sure that a 14 year old pub table would sell, but gave it the really old college try.

Girding my grumpy old man loins, I waded into the pool of CraigsList fuckery. Y’know, where you list something for sale and get responses like, “Can you hold that until I get out of prison?” or “Would you be willing to accept 20% of your listed price?”

That type of crap.

After a few hours and not even a pain in the ass response, I debated lowering my price from $75 to $50. Then I got a response. He wanted to look at it this morning and didn’t see why he wouldn’t take it home with him today.

No muss, no fuss.

Of course, Portland had my back to ensure shit got weird.

When I went down to get him, I opened the door…no one was waiting. I look around the column, homeless man standing there in what would be tighty whities on someone 50 lbs heavier than him.

And he was yelling at his shirt. To his credit, though, he seemed to only be changing clothes versus wandering around in a fat man’s underwear.

That was when I noticed a guy squatting down on the other side of the column, smoking crack. As glad as I was that my buyer wasn’t just showing up in underwear for this transaction, I hoped there was a third guy somewhere nearby.

My phone buzzed. It was the guy, boldly hiding out in his – wait for it – Subaru on the corner. I scared the guys down the block and my Subaru driving Vantucky neighbor came in.

And bought the damn thing, just like he said he would. No dickering, no hemming or hawing…he even had exact change.

You’re not from around here, are you?

Remember what I said about lighting not striking twice in the same spot?

Yeah, me, too.

Still, I was also still remembering living with too much or out of scale furniture for the last six years, well, four – I should my condo in 2017. That’s when shit got crowded.

That memory is far more ingrained than a gambling (for entertainment purposes only!) winning streak a couple weeks back.

Since I had some space, I figured I would do a little front room gerrymandering to see how to fit my writing desk into the equation. I moved my couch off the wall opposite the TV and positioned it facing the balcony. That meant the chair needed to go into the corner by the balcony doors…which I liked overall.

It even left a nice wide walkway between the living room and kitchen bar. I’d ordered a wall bracket for my bike, so it can stand against the wall on its rear tire, which I’d hoped my allow me to put my console table or desk behind the couch. The problem was, though, that my coffee table and side table were…redundant in my small living room.

So, I put ’em on CraigsList and two hours later was loading them into a Prius. Now, I could push my couch in almost a foot without my space feeling crowded.

Plus, I got to go buy a new coffee table – which I kind of love.

The hairpin legs make the space feel so much more open than my old side by side bases for the glass top coffee table I divested myself of a few hours earlier. My only regret, though, was not finding a matching coffee and sofa table. I’d wanted to use the sofa table as a TV stand and move my dresser back to the “blue wall” where my console table is presently.

Sadly, just like my console table, the matched sets I found while shopping today were about a foot too small for my TV. Well, there was one…but it was $700 for just the sofa table.

No, thank you. This fool wants to hold onto some of his lottery winnings. Or at least have some left over as seed money for my next socially distanced drinking outing.

The Green Loop

I know…you’re all dying to know how the three-quarter Wrong of Way intersection was resolved. Well, maybe just the Silver Fox.

Well, the other day, I saw a city worker carrying a stop sign on Flanders, heading toward the intersection in question on 9th! Mentally declaring victory, I went inside and, I dunno…opened a bottle of wine?

Seems like a safe bet.

The next day, I saw this as I was coming down 9th, preparing to turn onto Flanders for my preferred parking space.

Say what, now?

Cross Traffic Does Not Stop

Surrealiously.

After all that – at least three different days of dickering with signs, they’d finally put in the missing stop sign at the four-way intersection…and then removed the original two signs from when it was a two-way stop.

I can’t believe that I can’t get a job and whoever is running this shit show is getting paid with my tax dollars.

This should have taken a couple of “road closed” signs and an afternoon to move the existing signs 90 degrees. But, no…this is Portland, we had to make it weird.

Well, whoever had that bright idea needs to know that “weird” and “dysfunctional” are not synonyms.

They also, as of today, have yet to sandblast the white stop lines off of the new through traffic lanes, too.

Adding insult to civil injury, they removed the stop sign I used to park behind and moved it 90 degrees so that Flanders has right of way all the way down my immediate three block stretch of road. Not that big a deal, really, since the idiots going down my street usually yielded their right of way at Flanders by stopping on Park to let people who were required to stop for cross traffic…cross traffic.

Ugh.

Is that enough of a download to constitute a mash?

Nailed it…that’s 2300-plus words. But in a breath of fresh airness, only a minority of them were typed in a rant tone of voice.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need a refill and some cheesecake!

Monstrous Mash

The Red Shirt Diaries #30

It’s not hard to absorb the knowledge that I’ll likely never be in the 1%.

What’s harder to deny – given my “it could only happen to me”-ness – is the reality that I’ll probably easily find myself in the 3-5% club.

That club being populated by folks who were not protected by the COVID vaccine.

That’s right, folks…grumpy, old Xtopher got hisself a vaccine today. Isn’t it nice to see me embracing life like this?

I’m half convinced that they missed or didn’t even stab me. I didn’t feel a thing and the nurse couldn’t see where to put the bandage afterward because I didn’t bleed at the injection site.

Seems highly suspicious.

Anyway…use my jaded and twisted sense of humor as a reminder: this isn’t a cure. Just like flu shots, the COVID vaccination is a protection against COVID. Every year, I get a flu shot and sure enough, at some point I get the flu. It’s just a lighter illness than I would likely get otherwise.

It could be the same with COVID. So to share some advice an old friend used to give me: Don’t get dead. Get your shot and then behave responsibly. Keep washing your hands. Don’t take unnecessary risks. And please, stay home if you feel sick.

The Red Shirt Diaries #30

Step Aside Green Mile

Stephen King and Tom Hanks gave us The Green Mile back in ’99.

A movie about death row or something. Who can remember that far back? But there was something about a bunch of flies at one point, that I do remember, but it just casts more confusion over the premise for me.

Not to be outdone in the confusion or green departments, Portland has the Green Loop. Or, we will have. Currently, it’s a work in progress…and no one really knows what the fuck it actually is – so, yay! More confusion.

Here’s what I can tell you: it’s intended to make the core of the city more walkable and cyclist friendly – and ask any cyclist and they’ll tell you, they fuckin’ deserve this.

Sidebar: You know the old joke about Harvard grads? The one that was co-opted by Vegans? Or about Vegans…it goes like this –

How do you know someone went to Harvard?
Don’t worry, they’ll fucking tell you.
Truth.

Well, if you think that’s obnoxious, talk to a Portland cyclist.

The worst.

For as much of a superiority and savior complex as they have, I’d expect the planet to actually have been saved by this point.

Ok, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

The Green Loop is a 6 mile circle around downtown that is a part of the city planner’s Central City 2035 plan. It passes by many of our city’s most famous or notable features – including Powell’s City of Books, the North and South Park Blocks, Portland Art Museum, the Eastbank, crossing over the Willamette River and back, yada-yada-yada – you really see the town. In the five years since its launch, we are nearing completion on two pedestrian/cycling bridges over the 84 and 405 freeways and have had quite an ongoing dustup between the city planning folks and my snotty neighbors about a 29 story condo/hotel project that would sit on Flanders Street, which is a big part of the Green Loop.

Doncha just love drama?

My neighbors think adding in a “taxi zone” in front of the hotel – like you do – would be a hazard to the pedestrians and cyclists using the Loop that would run right in front of the hotel.

They’re right of course. However, in a taxi vs. cyclist face off, I’m betting on the cyclist.

The thing is, this was their second argument against the project. The first was that this sliver style building would destroy one of the last few remaining centuries old trees in the Pearl neighborhood.

The city poo-pooed that argument, pretty ballsy given the word green is actually in the name of this initiative and here we are, condoning tearing down historic greenery…if trees can be referred to as historic. I dunno.

Undeterred, my neighbors invoked cyclist safety. But, because everyone has really had it about up to here <stretches arm out over head> with cyclists and their entitlement, the city shot down that argument, as well.

Now, they’re on to their third yeahbut and they are frankly starting to look a bit like rejection junkies. This new argument? That 29 stories is out of scale with the surrounding blocks.

Ok, that’s not a bad argument. Except, where was it when this was happening?

On the opposite corner from this proposed hotel/condo is The Casey. This precious metal LEED certified 16 story condo that’s just fine with my swanky neighbors. But, because of the city’s need for housing density, the height limits have been raised in recent years, and who wants to guess that The Casey came in just under the old height limits just like this new project comes in just a tad under the current 290 foot height limit for the area?

When The Casey went up, the next highest building was a six story co-op. You’d think building a mid-rise condo that is about two and a half times its height would have ruffled some feathers.

But it didn’t.

And this new project isn’t even twice the height of The Casey, so I bet the city is gonna tell these desperate housebitches to go pound sand.

By the way, here’s a construction pic from The Casey, featuring the tree at the center of the drama.

Honestly, I was prepared to laugh my ass off after the recent “snow troubles” here that downed a significant number of branches and trees. But this stalwart deciduous bastard is still standing.

For now.

Anyway…I mention all this as backstory for the Silver Fox’s recent conniption during his recent visit. He’d come home for a procedure and we were having a last supper type outing for fish and chips the night before. As we pull onto Broadway from Flanders, he points out that the city is adding in a four-way stop light, which he dramatically declared unnecessary.

It’s probably for the Green Loop.

My dispassionate tone – think Morgan Freeman saying “I don’t give a shit” – had the opposite effect. Instead of following my lead and calming down, The Fox turned apoplectic and started counting off existing stop lights at the cross streets on Broadway.

There’s one!

And another!

And another up there!

And here’s another one!

Not to mention Burnside!

How many is that? Five?!? So that’ll be six stop lights…we don’t need that!

Don’t forget the Glisan intersection.

I don’t know why I felt the need to poke the bear here. I guess that’s just one of the benefits of being my friend.

So, seven?!? There’s going to be a light at every intersection between the Broadway Bridge and Burnside!

I just looked at him, blankly. Like, what did he expect me to say? It probably wasn’t

Personally, I think they should just close Flanders off to cars from Broadway. It’s not like the few cars traveling that block couldn’t go around.

Sometimes I’m just a complete turd.

But other times, karma gives me a stern fucking over for all the fucking with my friends endure from me.

The next day as I was coming home, I noticed a new stop sign on 9th St. I say “noticed”, but I really mean, “screeched to a halt, narrowly missing the car in front of me that had stopped unexpectedly”.

What fresh hell…?!? Great, another idiot that yields his right of way needlessly.

And just as I was about to deploy a one-fingered salute, I saw it. A new stop sign. So, the city had a mind to turn Flanders and 9th into a four-way stop instead of a two-way. Thinking back to the day before, I chuckled at The Fox’s near-stroke-inducing mania over the stoplight at Flanders and Broadway.

Then I thought of how this would affect my usual cruise around the corner from 9th to Flanders as I return home. Usually, I park in the first spot on the corner of Flanders and Park, then just walk down to my front door in the middle of Park…yes, avenue. But it ain’t fancy.

The Silver Fox likes that I park there because he can keep tabs on me from his living room window when he’s in residence. I like it because it’s the one stretch of street in my neighborhood without trees overhead; meaning, no tree debris or crow shit.

Then I decide that of course this needs to be a blog, because it’s hilarious that The Fox and I can be such good friends when the things that send him sideways, I usually don’t give a damn about. And I’m sure the opposite applies, too.

So, I go out to take a picture of the new traffic controls…and then I see it.

What the hell kind of city has a three-way stop at an intersection where both streets have two-way traffic?!?

Oy.

Walking back to my apartment, I notice something else weird. While I parked in my usual spot, suddenly I seem to also have parked between a stop sign and a sign that says No Parking.Being the generally law abiding citizen that I am, I moved my car back a spot to be in compliance with the new signage.

Ok, truth be told, I briefly lost my shit and then I moved Angela back a space.

The moral of this story?

I dunno. I’m sure there’s an applicable Bible parable, but the long and short of it is that I’ve turned into my NIMBY neighbors.

Being the poorest person in the Pearl, I’m sure I’ll recover my plebeian senses soon enough…

Step Aside Green Mile

Wrong of Way

I’ve fairly had it. And I’m not even being grumpy. Well…maybe a tad, but I swear it’s a righteous grumpy and not at all recreational! But this is basically where I’m at right now:

Driving and pedestrianing cannot be as hard as these Stupid Americans make it look.

Sometimes they do such mind-bogglingly stupid things that I have to really think about what it is they could possibly be trying to accomplish.

Couldn’t hurt. If I bang long and hard enough (shut up, Diezel) perhaps the logic will come to me.

Honestly, I’m not completely sure where to begin.

Pedestrians?

Long time readers will likely remember that I’m a diagonal street crosser, which I’d like to stress should not be confused with being an idiot. However, some of the shenanigans I see while people are attempting to accomplish something as simple as crossing a street make me think that the perfect adjective for them is exactly that: simple.

Like, not all there.

These are people whose last words could believably be “Hey, watch this!” And when something goes awry with their pedestration, the expressions I witness range from shock, as if to suggest they simply cannot understand the nerve of someone honking at them for walking into traffic from between two parked cars; to utter surprise, like they simply cannot fathom how they ended up in their present situations.

Aliens really should be more considerate about where they return their abductees.

Honestly, I think I can excuse the idiocy pedestrians exhibit. Comparatively. Let’s face it, anything catastrophic happens with the execution of their street crossing…it’s a win for Darwin and probably does the world’s collective IQ a solid by taking themselves out of the equation. It’s the potential canine or innocent child collateral damage that would bug me.

No, I think the real beef I have is with the drivers.

The shit they pull.

It’s not the excessive speeding. Nor the changing lanes without signaling.

No, nothing like that.

That behavior I get.

Sort of. Those people are just selfish jerks.

It’s more the behaviors I see that suggest that a driver just isn’t paying attention. Like oblivious would be a step up if we were to measure attention on some sort of whack scale.

Hell, I can even look the other way on my frequent observations of people driving the wrong way down a one-way street.

But what really sticks in my craw is drivers who unnecessarily yield their right of way. I know, I know…Portland drivers are world famous for this phenomenon. But the basic premise of that “No, you go” phenomenon is that the drivers arrived simultaneously at the intersection.

Honestly, I can kind of forgive that overly performative courtesy.

But stopping to yield a right of way when you aren’t required to stop? That I have an issue with. Like…so much “ugh”.

If you want to bend over backward to be kind to another driver or pedestrians who are stuck trying to cross a street outside of a crosswalk…I want to say “Knock yourself out”, but I just can’t. The issue I keep – almost literally – running into is “How many people did you inconvenience in your display of performative courtesy? Seems they can’t see the causal fallout of their actions.

Today, I saw a driver stop for some pedestrians pulling the old “crossing the street between parked cars” routine. On a two lane one-way street.

The driver practically stood on their brake pedal to yield their right of way.

I nearly kissed their back bumper and the driver next to me initially sped up as if they were going to run a yellow light before realizing what was happening and screeching to a halt.

Mind you, this all took place one car length in on the far side of an intersection where the cross street had to stop. There were cars on both sides. Looking in my rear view mirror, I saw one vehicle behind me.

Quick math: this performative courtesy inconvenienced five other people.

All because these idiot pedestrians couldn’t move one lousy car length to the corner before crossing the street. Well…that, plus they crossed paths with a dipshit driver.

Surrealiously.

I. Have. Had. It.

Wrong of Way

Don’t Call It A Recap…

Especially when recrap would be a much better way to sum up 2020.

And since it’s 2020 we’re talking about, I’m just going to talk about the last two months – really, the last month, outside of an early November mention. The whole year would run 20000 words, I’m sure.

Truth be told, I’m just going to bitch about a few things that broke down and then express a little post-holiday gratitude. This shouldn’t take long,

All in all, I’d summarize 2020 as a year in which if it didn’t break, it probably died.

Here’s a few things that gave it up in the last weeks of the year:

My laptop. As I geared up for NaNoWriMo in early November, my laptop started shitting its pants whenever it stepped off a high curb. I’d planned a non-fiction piece about job searching in my fifties. Fortunately, after a few hours of online tutorials, I was able to coax my laptop back to the land of the continent. That NaNo project, though…never did quite manage the download from brain to laptop. The Silver Fox stood by helpfully – virtually – while also acing his best friend duties by offering up the MacBooks he saw at Costco as a potential solution. I thought about it, even looked at one online in my most frustrated moment, but just couldn’t pull the trigger. The Costco offering was ~$800 and an Air model. In hindsight, that would have layered in what turned out to be unnecessary excuses for not tapping out a NaNo entry this year since the Air just doesn’t have the memory for writing like the Pro does.

New Pros run $1500-2400 and a used one is gettable for around $400. That’s what I did last time I replaced my laptop. I ended up with a refurbished model that was a year newer than my old one, so on balance I’m netting up two years of use…and counting.

After that brush with disaster, it looked like smooth sailing.

This being my life, that didn’t last long. The second and third weeks of December made week one of November look like a snowball next to their avalanche of misery.

Let’s see…

This is probably a clunky segue after my snow analogy, but it started to rain in the second week of December. Hardly a surprise in the PNDub, but I mean it rained. Like, people were walking around with expressions that said, “All that pandemic home improvement we did and we didn’t think to add pontoons?!?”

That type of rain.

I didn’t really notice it outside hearing things like “two inches in the last 36 hours” on the radio.

Until…I came home from running errands one day, took off my shoes, kicked up my feet to watch some Seinfeld for a couple hours and then – when I put my shoes and socks back on so I could go drive, my socks were wet. Flipping over my shoes, I was greeted with the thought, “How long ago did I get these?!?”

Walked the hell out of them, I did.

Off to NikeTown I went.

I was shocked by a couple of things:

First, my new shoes were only $130. I say “only” because that is about what I remember paying for my last few pairs – further reinforcing my suspicion that I haven’t had these last shoes that long. In reality, I recollect it being about 2 1/2 years, so they had more of a life than old Phil and his shareholders would like.

Second, the kid who helped me with my purchase was both unnecessarily tall and flirty. I’m not mad about that last part.

Next, as I rushed to get to the Festivus episode of Seinfeld before Christmas, my TV crapped out on me. It just started shutting off after an hour or two of play. I’d reboot it and it would come back…for a couple days. Then it just stopped powering on altogether. Haven’t been able to revive it yet using the same Internet U continuing education resources I did with my laptop. I might need to actually get someone on the horn to figure it out.

Then again, the other U – as in Universe – might be trying to tell me it’s all for naught. Last night, my final ride was a pick up at Video Only, a local electronics chainlet. While I waited in front for my passenger to emerge, I had prime seating for the TVs playing right inside the door.

Also, now I know that my car will hold a 65″ TV.

But in a fit of mixed messages, the guy wasn’t a tipper, which I’d interpret as the Universe steering me away from a new TV after putting me in front of Video Only’s temptations. And this is a rather significant sign since on top of having to figure out the logistics of getting a large object into a small space (merry Christmas, Diezel) this ride was from the far north end of town – literally, the Oregon border – to the far southeast quadrant of town…over 30 minutes, thanks to an accident on the crosstown. Yeah, by all means, feel free to drag your huge TV away from that scenario with no feeling of gratitude.

Let’s see…laptop, TV, sneakers…what else?

Oh!

Angela. This would be Pat the Patriot’s replacement from last February, who I don’t write about often because she doesn’t spend an average of a week in the shop each month like Pat did. Still, the other day – Christmas Eve – I got in the car to drive a bit and my low tire pressure alarm went off. Looking at the vehicle status screen on the onboard, I saw that the back passenger tire was the issue, but it was only a half PSI off of the next closest pressure level. I chalked that up to the morning being rather colder than the more recent days and planned to monitor it as I drove and fill it when I parked later. Sure enough, as the tire warmed up, the pressure crept up but still needed an eventual top off.

Undaunted, after eight rides, the Universe tossed me another grenade.

I pulled to a stop at a freeway exit and while I waited for the light to change, Angela made a sound I’ve not heard before. Let me tell you, I love the onboard computer, but the alarms are not subtle.

Everything is DEFCON 4.

“Hey, dummy…get gas!” makes the same sound as “Low Tire Pressure”. That’s also the same sound as the warning for low outside temperature…which is triggered at an unalarming and balmy 37 degrees.

However, the sound Angela made at that off ramp made me debate running away from the vehicle. On top of that, I was treated to my dash display and my onboard console display both changing screens to tell me my brake pads needed replacing.

It was rather a stimulation overflow.

Hell, with all that fuss, I’d have thought the wheels had come completely off the vehicle.

Nonetheless, I managed to both proChristinate getting gas and filling the low tire, so when I got in my car later that day – to go searching for wrapping paper, which was harder to find on Christmas Eve than crapping paper was in March – I was treated to a deafening cacophony of alarms that lasted about two blocks.

Sweet Jesus, Germans…calm the hell down.

But, as of Christmas morning, the only alarm still regularly greeting me is the brake pads warning. It is, however, pulling double duty. I hear it when I start the car and again when I switch it off…so, someone is looking out for my C.R.S. Hoorah?

Not for nothing, I check my mail midweek, generally. Last night, for whatever reason, I checked it when I came home.

Yeah…pretty sure that’s a ticket. The city is pretty good about screaming the purpose of its mailings if you pay attention. Sometimes it’s as easy as seeing the bold type that screams “City Arts Tax Statement” and others, it’s just knowing that the mailing address is the County Health Clinic just down the way. Not that I’ve ever gotten a letter from them…

The vagueness of this letter – only a “Response Requested Within Thirty Days” to guide me – made me think “request” was meant to trick me into opening it. Like I’m getting invited to the Mayor’s re-election party or something. And I do remember driving one night and seeing three strobe like flashes out of the corner of my eye. I looked at my dash and saw I was doing low 40s in a 35 MPH zone, but wrote it off as paranoia since I was also on an old state highway versus at an intersection where one usually sees red light cameras.

Heck, I don’t even know if Portland uses photo radar for ticketing. I can’t wait to find out when I open this sometime next July.

Now, just to make sure that you’re not all looking longingly at your own balconies or googling “macrame nooses” – that might just be a Portland thing – remember, I did get a pair of new sneakers out of the ordeal.

Plus, then there’s the actual good things that happened in the last few months, no wait…weeks, no…wait hours of the year. Optimistically, I’m choosing to accept these as net positives despite the fact that the Universe tends toward Lucy behaviors to my Charlie Brown existence.

For instance, when I checked my mail last week, I got a Christmas card from Little Buddy.

I know it’s hokey and completely against my typical on-brand bitterness, but just look at that grandpa playing Santa with his grand baby! It just made me tear up again!

Also mail related: when I checked my mail last night, I found that the City of Seattle had gotten its shit together and sent me some unclaimed money.

Mind you, Portland had theirs resolved weeks ago. Like pre-Thanksgiving. But on the upside, I was expecting $100 and got a check for $123, so…I’m not complaining. Hopefully that maybe-ticket isn’t too much more than that. Actually, if the maybe-ticket turns out to be a not-ticket, that check can go right into my New TV Fund!

The actual bummer here is that I don’t want a New TV Fund. I’d been hoping to have January bills squared away last week so I could maybe splurge on a Peloton-like bike for home. My 2021 non-fiction project is going to be a bit of a redux to my Fitfy blog theme. I figure that will nicely close the loop on my aging series of non-fiction: dating, working and fitness.

Anyway, I digress. Now we’re up to Christmas Day!

I’m not kidding when I – again, against my Early Onset Grumpiness brand – say that seeing my sister and her family of three for the first time this year had me feeling things. My attendance at family Christmas was (secretly) predicated upon the size of the gathering.

Our Thanksgiving had been four – mom, dad, youngest bro and I – from three households. State guidance was no more than six – pass! – from two households – fail! Those guidelines held for Christmas, too.

That said, Christmas was set to be that same group along with the welcome addition of my sister’s family from central Oregon and the unwelcome addition of Black Sheep Bro and his two teenaged sons, whom none of us have ever met.

From Texas.

If the pandemic weren’t a thing, I’d still have “put my foot down” level issues with this occurrence.

After screwing up my courage – not in an alcohol related way – I took my shot with the parents. It’s not that I begrudge them their parental – and grandparental feelings – which I will never experience first hand, but my shot was that Christmas should be a repeat of Thanksgiving.

I know. This is why people sometimes call me the Voice of Treason.

But I figured not saying anything would be the real problem. And I didn’t want the Christmas follow up conversations to be:

People: What did you get for Christmas?

Me: Dead Family. You?

So, I said it.

What I offered was to do a same day drive over and back to drop off and pick up gifts for my sister’s family…on the additional condition that we all *not* miss BSB for another Christmas. As expected, the results were like my favorite joke* and resulted in BSB being cordially disinvited but my sister still coming over.

That suited me fine enough. Although I was chagrined-ish to run into my brother in law and nephew in the drive when I arrived, on their way out to walk the dog. After exchanging greetings and getting a brief update, my brother in law says to me, “Are you going to wear your mask in the house?” I’d completely put it on out of habit before getting out of the car.

At least I’m consistent.

Now, what you should know about my family is that we are terrible Americans. At least as far as Christmas goes. We have a small family. I’d say our “core” census is seven: mom, dad, sis, brother in law, nephew, brother, me. Even adding in what I’d call the extended family – my uncle’s family in Texas and my 98 year old hermit of a grandfather – only adds five to that.

Then there’s BSB trying to add in his brood of three to our numbers now that the wife he basically left the family for has left him. Allegedly for something that comes with a cork in it. I shared a bedroom with the guy growing up, though, and I’d say the wine was a cure and not the cause my BSB would have us believe.

But that’s another blog.

The reason we are bad Americans at Christmas is that we draw names for our gift exchange versus just buying everyone gifts from everyone. However, the upside is that between breakfast and dinner, we only have to open ~7 gifts instead of four or five dozen, so there’s very little disruption to our holiday feeding frenzy.

On top of that, we make lists. Whoever draws our names basically has a cheat sheet. My youngest brother, as I gather – having not seen his list, even put down websites. That guy came to Thanksgiving prepared!

Me? I came to Thanksgiving oblivious. When I learned the routine for this year, I was stuck completely in “What the fuck do I want?!?” mode.

I vamped my way through my list of 3-5 things before coming up with something useful:

1) Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice

2) Skateboard

Here’s the explanation of those requests. Really, though, I hoped I didn’t get those items because I’m old and hips are expensive.

3) This Tee

And then my brain kicked into gear.

4) An InstaPot.

There had been an InstaPot at last year’s Christmas, but it was a White Elephant style exchange and it got stolen by mom. But I loved the Brady Bunch Inspired gift I brought home…

I present to you the real reason 2020 has been such a shit show!

Now, this year’s rules mandated that the gifts be given anonymously – which I missed, so my brother in law knew I was his Santa – so when I opened my gift, I didn’t know who to check for smirkage.

Because it’s me, and I didn’t just happen, I was completely open to my Santa being someone who knew I’d never buy myself an InstaPot and that I was disappointed to not walk with one last Christmas. Heck, I’d gone rogue and bought my nephew a gift card to a sporting goods store and debated putting it in a box with some rocks to weigh it down, so I couldn’t reasonably expect my Santa to not have had the same notion.

But, not knowing who to scrutinize for tells, I was left with opening up the outer box for verification.

Blammo!

Apparently, not only can you find one for $100 – that’s another rule – you can find one that connects to goddamn wifi and can be controlled from your smartphone. What an amazing time to be alive!

I finally found out that my Santa was my sister. When I told her I was worried my list was either entirely gibberish or over the price limit, she gave me a humblebrag about her ability to “find a deal”. Whether that meant she’s a legit Coupon Queen or threw me a bone and bought the only thing on my list that wasn’t snarky, despite having to bend a rule is unclear. I am pretty sure she honestly found a deal. She is good like that.

Now, I just gotta decide what to make and then screw up my courage to do it!

All in all, it’s a year that makes me think “I should have moved into a unit on a higher floor” whenever I stand on my balcony. Luckily, the year is nearly behind us, so I don’t think I will be worrying whether a four story drop would qualify as a landing I could walk away from or not.

Now, for all of you who waited patiently for the *, here’s my favorite joke of all time:

What do you get when you cross the Atlantic with the Titanic?

Halfway.

Keep in mind, I heard this joke as a pre-teen on the friggin’ Muppet Show. That Fozzy Bear could bring a house down, I tell ya. But four decades later and I’m still carrying his torch!

Don’t Call It A Recap…