Dis-Grace

I don’t want to step on The Rolling Stones’ toes here, but…you can’t always get what you want. And, true, sometimes you only get what you need. Others, maybe you get skunked…call those times character building.

Still other times, maybe you do get what you want.

Can you – at a minimum – just shut up then? Preferably, I’d like to see us comport ourselves with a little more character in those moments than just nothing. However, given the option between “nothing” and “beating a dead horse” – I’ll graciously accept silence.

What’s all this got to do with…anything?

Here’s a case in point for ya.

This bar in SE Portland recently came under fire for cultural appropriation.

Esoteric cultural appropriation, if I can say without being branded a racist or someone hissing about my cis-male whiteness. If not, I guess I’ll have to check into the Whiteness Protection Program, but I doubt I’d make any friends there, so I’m hoping there’s room for my opinion.

Do you know why it’s esoteric? If so, then I would imagine you’re among a very few…or maybe I’m just not that hip hop savvy. Anyway, back in the early days of hip hop, there was a group called NWA.

As the aforementioned cis-male, I can only elucidate you on that acronym by saying it stands for A Particularly Hateful Racial Epithet…With Attitudes.

Got it? Ok. Enough on that.

Since they stopped recording/touring after their 4 years of being a functional group, it seems that group members have gone on to post-NWA projects like starting in long-running police procedural dramas or reviving headphones as a viable personal music delivery platform.

So, they’re doing ok. And the post-NWA careers have been longer and much likely more lucrative for these two members in particular.

Which is why I was so surprised to read about the brouhaha around a tap house called NWIPA – short for NW IPA. The critics took issue with riffing on the group’s name equating to cultural appropriation.

Ok…this seems like a great place for the Brady Bunch “Sure, Jan” gif, but I don’t want to be argumentative. I’m trying to keep things low-key passive-aggressive these days versus overtly confrontational.

The owner of the bar responded to the initial social media complaint…by apologizing and changing the name of his damn bar!

Immediately.

Let’s not even mention that when it comes to Portland beer culture being potentially guilty of cultural appropriation there’s this lil bandit

…that riffs on the movie Straight Outta Compton about the same damn group that the bar was accused of appropriating culture from. What blow back do they get?

The best part is that even after his online apology, connectors were still hounding him on social media about his offense.

People, he apologized and corrected the issue…shut. the. fuck. up.

As far as the whole Straight Outta Compton non-issue goes? All I can offer is that we’re Portlanders, and I can’t say we’re known for any consistency in our collective outrage. Meanwhile, I’m sitting over here being all grumpy that a bar in the SE quadrant of town had the gall to call itself NWIPA.

While all this is unfolding, of course, now-former governor of New York Andrew Cuomo was being investigated by the NY State District Attorney. She finds the allegations levied against him to be credible and both sides of the political spectrum go wild, calling for his resignation. Including our Democrat president, mind you.

So, he does.

Then in an exercise I like to call “Why the hell am I still on the Facebook?”, one of my former work colleagues posts this

Ok, I freely admit that it’s funny and clever. However, I think it’s wildly inappropriate for anyone who voted for Trump twice and/or supports the GOP to post. So, y’know…I said so.

As far as politicians being responsive to their constituency and held accountable for their actions and how they reflect on the office they hold? This guy stood up and took the accountability hit. Just like his fellow Democrat Senator Al Franken before him. Looking at the GOP side of the equation

…let’s just say most of them voted for a guy accused of sexually assaulting dozens of women, paying hush money to an adult film star during his first campaign and saying he’d date his own daughter…twice.

I think we can do without the opportunistic outrage of a Trump supporter on this issue.

He resigned…shut.the.hell.up.

Look, when you get what you want, just…show some class. Have a little grace. That’s hardly the time to take a victory lap.

I daresay we might have a little larger population in the center of the American political spectrum if we could just stop beating the horse once it dies.

That’s all.

Dis-Grace

Chicken Little Called…

I feel like the sky is falling.

Literally.

Which, of course, means figuratively as well as literally in the English language these days, but actually perfectly describes how I’m feeling.

Figuratively

With the chasm between common sense and willful ignorance widening daily, it seems like America – if not all of humanity – is doomed.

People are eagerly and proudly choosing to embrace behaviors and ideologies that are not simply personally risky to them (mask and vaccine deniers) but also threaten the future of living on our planet for very near, if not already present generations.

I truly cannot understand those people. Say it with me, “Stupid Americans”.

Literally

Two things here. The first is that the smoke from our fires in central and southern Oregon has finally rolled back in to Portland. The rest of the country has been getting our smoke – as far away as Minnesota from what people have shared with me personally, but I’ve heard NYC has even seen some.

It’s nowhere near the literal worst air quality on the planet we had last year, but it’s still a climate crisis in progress. But when you can see literal ash debris on your car after it’s been parked on the street a few hours, I’d say that qualifies as “falling skies”, no?

The second is even more heartbreaking to me as a native Portlander. I love our greenery here. Both the actual forests and our urban green spaces. I live on a street named Park that borders five city blocks of park space called the North Park Blocks. Many of the trees on these blocks are as old as our state, if not older in some cases. And they are called “North” because they are in the northwest quadrant of town and there is an even longer string of blocks on the same street running through the southwest quadrant of town. I’ll let you figure out what we call those blocks on your own.

Go ahead, now…intuit.

Anyway, over the summer, I know of four instances in my string of blocks where trees have just dropped branches.

Massive branches.

…and some not too massive. The above pic is not as big around as a small car, but it was a good 25 feet length of branch. There was one that fell right in front of me early in the summer late one night as I turned onto Park after driving all night. It blocked a two lane road from the base of its trunk to almost the opposite curb.

There’s no wind storm happening. And I expect branches to fall during our increasingly common winter ice events.

But in still skies?!?

My thought on this is that the trees are just so dry from our lack of rain – and it’s a drought condition that has been going on since our February snow storm. April ‘21 was the driest on record by one-third with only a half inch of rain for the month – that these trees have become too dry and brittle to even resist gravity.

How sad. Tragic.

But, Portland being weird and still trying to be green, puts a decidedly Portland spin on the situation by creating…a seating nook!

Here’s the branch that fell, about one-third of the tree’s canopy.

And here’s what Portland does…makes it cozy. Not that I know these will be left here long term. Although I wouldn’t blame Portland Parks & Rec if they did decide to leave them. Branches like this become breeding grounds for all sorts of other flora, so it would essentially be a public science exhibit.

But on a less pithy and optimistic note, check out the tree that had to be completely removed after losing part of itself to nothing more than the pull of gravity.

It was taller than the historic five story brick building across from it. Probably older, too.

Now it’s nothing more than a stump that’s basically the size of a BMW.

So sad.

Of course, maybe I have this all wrong. Just because I’ve never seen anything like this in my lifetime doesn’t mean it isn’t perfectly natural. Maybe trees randomly fall apart every 50 years or so.

Or…maybe it’s due to climate change.

Ooooor…maybe there’s a giant cat roaming around town at night that no one has seen yet. I certainly have something similar – albeit on a much smaller scale – happening in my home.

Mistress Myrtle is not taking questions.

Chicken Little Called…

Upcoming Mask Mandate

One of the three counties Portland sits in announced it was implementing an indoor mask mandate, effective Friday, 8/13. The next day, the Governor made the same announcement for the state.

A while ago, I’d have made the joke that I’d prefer a masc man date over a mask mandate, but I don’t think it’s true at this point in my life. I’ve not fully given up the practice of masking up when I leave the house. I definitely put my mask on when entering a business. Well, before entering it – and I think that’s an important distinction.

The Silver Fox is in town for a while, so naturally I’ve been demanding he belly up with me as nightly as possible. Lost time and all.

Last night was no exception. We were sitting at the bar next door and I was low key astonished at how many patrons were walking in without masks and even moving about the restaurant maskless. I had my mask off while seated, which I get is nearly as arbitrary as the “smoking section” of bars back in the day.

Almost.

It’s as if these Stupid Americans have collectively decided to not see the rationale for announcing a start date. Namely, yo allow businesses to ramp to have policies and signage in place by the mandate’s start.

It’s certainly not a new restriction for patrons or businesses, just a return to a prior restriction. Anyone leaving their house should have a pile of these masks ready to go. As a citizen, our ramp should be immediate – although, I have heard stories of people therapeutically trashing their masks after the restrictions were originally lifted. That’s more of an exception, not a rule. Yet, here we are, customers largely running around businesses bare-faced and empty-headed until they are required to do the right thing.

So selfish.

Meanwhile, most businesses I frequent have had their staff back in masks for weeks – despite the latitude they had to behave otherwise. The grace period that I believe is for their benefit is largely unneeded.

At least I’m the businesses I regularly frequent.

This is why we’re all gonna die. Well, maybe. But it’s definitely the reason we’re all gonna be stuck in traffic forever if we do live.

Selfish animals, we are.

Upcoming Mask Mandate

Uplift

One of the running themes I try to include in my novels is helping others out. Whether it’s direct or emotional assistance, I think that’s important in a society.

Its absence from Gay Kulture is one of my biggest pet peeves about my community. I shorthand that by saying that “there’s no unity in the gay community”.

But that’s another blog.

Last night, I got to see a version of this in play in real life and it made me so happy. And I didn’t even have to leave my block!

I had wandered into the restaurant next door for dinner. I was celebrating completing back-to-back challenge weeks – which equated to two weeks of 135 rides in about 50 hours. For context, a more normal week for me is 40-50 rides in about 20 hours.

Ow, my ass.

I knew from the owner that one of original kitchen staff was returning as of last Friday. I didn’t know that one of the servers was going to be taking over Sunday and Monday bartending duties from the owner starting last night, though.

That was a nice surprise. Apparently, he’d expressed an interest in bartending during his interview and business and timing worked out.

But on top of that, when my friend made it out of the kitchen to say hi, I learned that she’d been hired as a chef and not just as part of the line like she’d been before. She was glowing with pride at that accomplishment.

I left the restaurant with a belly full of good food and drink and a heart full for the professional development this restauranteur has been able to create for two nice humans. So, tonight – to keep up my end of the whole “living in a society” deal – I had to take a moment to pull the owner aside and tell him how satisfying it is to see someone providing true opportunities for people. I think part of my ability to see that comes from the reality that during my retail career, leadership tended to punish people for being effective by not promoting them. Much easier to hire and train one person from the outside versus having two people new to their roles at the same time, right? So selfish.

Funny how I couldn’t sit in my driver’s seat any longer yesterday, but my ass handled a barstool just fine…

Uplift

Bright Side

I’m on my way to work. Taking the bus for free, no less, since TriMet has been running fareless July 3-5 in recognition of the Fourth of July holiday.

Wait…on your way to work, you say? I thought you were driving for Lyft.

Hold up…on the bus, you might wonder? You have Angela!

Yes, yes…these are all good observations and reasonable questions.

Short answers: Angela is currently parked at Les Schwab awaiting either a patch (🤞🏽🤞🏽🤞🏽) after picking up a screw – complete with washer – in her front driver’s side tire. I’d planned on a new set of wheels later this month, so hopefully I can get the patch versus dropping $1000-1300 a few weeks earlier than planned.

As for the “work” thing…yes, I’m still driving for Lyft and still largely loving it – despite the recent challenges of providing rides for Portlanders and her visitors in a newly fully opened city. However, when I left professional work three years ago and discovered the freedom of a mixed earning lifestyle, I had several income levers in my wheelhouse – one of which was being a Payroll and HR temp. Well, I finally booked a post-pandemic gig and that’s the job I’m heading into now.

Grateful for the free ride Trimet is providing today – especially since Les Schwab is closed today in observance of the holiday so there was no way to fix Angela up this morning. Hopefully, the patch plan prevails and I can drive myself to work tomorrow morning. Otherwise, I’ll be back on this urban limo for a paid ride.

Can you believe that was the short answer?

Here’s a little more context.

This temp job was billed to me by my agency as a four week gig, 9:30-5, Monday through Friday. More full-time than I wanted, but for only four weeks, I figured it would get me in good graces with the folks at Robert Half.

Of course, I show up and the owner is talking six weeks of work that needs to be complete by mid-July. That math worked out to a three and a half week gig. I didn’t panic, though, and after learning the scope of work and getting comfortable with the process, I should be finished by next Tuesday…I’m awesome like that. Naturally, the owner is already talking about stuff I can help her with that is also shit their actual Payroll Manager should be doing. Friday, she dropped a telephone sized stack of garnishments on my desk and asked me to get them entered into our system. I figure that if they are that far behind, they can wait another week until I finish my current task.

Then, maybe I’ll stick around to do them.

That maybe is due to another “of course” or “naturally” reality that I figure only exists because this is me we’re talking about. The Monday after I started this gig, Lyft dropped a bonus week…one of the good ones that I usually make close to $3k during.

I really wanted to participate! Especially since that’s about twice what I make driving less than part time in a week…which is still nearly double what I’ll make in a week of full-time temping.

“Quit” – the Silver Fox

I was definitely tempted. But my word is my bond, right? Plus, I wanted to remain in good standing with my agency, so…

The reality of my first film week on this assignment is that I can accomplish the pace of work that is expected of me in about six hours a day. That leaves plenty of time in the day for some driving.

Except, the amount of rides to earn the weekly bonus that was being offered is 114 or 135 to reach the max earnings. That max threshold equates to about 45-50 hours of driving.

Was I up for an 80 hour work week?!?

I goaled it all out and set a plan. Sadly, the plan was just to hit the minimum bonus, but I was still eager to see if I could accomplish it. The plan also included a night off from driving, but by Wednesday I was already a few rides behind, so I drove. That resulted in me being back on track, with a glimmer of hope for maxing out the bonus.

But the Silver Fox came back to town. Not that he isn’t 1000% supportive of my earning time and goals, but I wanted to spend time with my friend, so I was willing to trade that for only earning the minimum bonus.

Totally a fair trade!

So I paced myself accordingly, and enjoyed The Fox’s company while I could.

Sunday, I had only eight rides to complete to make my goal and grab that bonus cash! That was after driving a little longer than anticipated Saturday night because individual and very lucrative ride bonuses kept dropping as other drivers retired for the night.

Nothing wrong with that $45 ride at 2:50 AM!

I got home at 4 AM.

I was back on the road at 2 PM with a goal of being wrapped up and bellied up by 5:30 with The Fox.

Then I picked up that screw in east Portland on my third ride. I limped home and soothed myself with the notion of A) good effort, and B) I still got beer with the Silver Fox.

No bonus, though. I admit, I was pretty pissed.

Really pissed.

I wasn’t keen on dropping money I’d earmarked for my savings plan on tires. I set a goal to save $30k toward a down payment on a new condo by the time my lease comes up for renewal next March. Saving early to max out interest and investment gains is key to succeeding. That’s what stung the most in missing my goal and facing an expense sooner than I’d like. I’d been couching potential failure with the notion that our soft condo market could rebound by the time next March rolls around.

This curveball surprised me.

But you know the saying: if you want to make god laugh, make a plan.

That’s why I’m clinging to a free bus ride as a bright side. It’s all I got this weekend!

Bright Side

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

Pro*Chris*tination

You know the old saying, right?

Hard work pays off in the future…procrastination pays off today!

Well, in my universe, occasionally there’s a psychotic eclipse type thing. Then both parts are true!

Case in point: I’ve needed new wiper blades since our February snow storm. Not much to bitch about, considering Texas. Heck, even my 99 year old grandfather was alone and without electricity just across town for three days! (Yes, dad insisted he go to a hotel, but since my grandfather isn’t about to take orders from some punk 75 year old…🤷🏽‍♂️)

So, yeah. My wiper blades getting gouged by ice and leaving streaks smack dab in my field of vision didn’t really merit a mention. I checked our local big box grocery for replacements, but it was $30 for the pair! After converting that from dollars to beers, I walked away.

Then I found myself at an oil change and figured I might as well get it done. They were out.

Fine!

But every time it sprinkled, there was a visual reminder of my overdue task. Usually accompanied by an audible screech from the blades skipping across the windshield.

Luckily – for me not future generations – this past April brought not showers as we learnt in nursery rhymes as children. As a matter of fact, Portland’s April was the driest on record…by one-third. We had only a half inch of rain versus the prior low record of three quarters of an inch.

No, that isn’t an invitation to book travel to PDX. You keep your germs local.

May was pretty much the same story. Low, but not a record low like April.

Until this week.

Frankly, I was happy to see rain in the forecast. At the same time, I figured I oughta get my act together, butch it up and get the deed done.

For safety.

I made the Silver Fox – yes, he finally put in a leisurely visit! – take me when we went to coffee the other day. Lo’ and behold…

On sale, you say?

40% off, no less?!?

Don’t get too excited, though. They are proving tougher than my fingertips and are still awaiting installation from the front passenger footwell.

Tomorrow’s another day, Slugger.

Next up, returning Angela to her chancellor-esque stature from the Lisa Left Eye Lopez situation some ne’er do well left her in a few weeks back.

It’s tough to see, but scroll down. After the curious incident of the fog light poking out of the bumper, The Fox ceded his parking spot to me until his return to city slickering. Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather it was sooner than later, but poor Angela! Just look what those philistines did to her!

Buncha bastards. Luckily, I’ve got friends like the Silver Fox to provide refuge and Diezel, who looks at it and says, “I can fix that” like the “in my sleep” doesn’t even need to be mentioned. Nor does the “you limp wristed ninny”.

Those are good friends to have in your corner.

Pro*Chris*tination

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.

Down Day

Despite what my brain says, my body is in complete disagreement over whether or not 4 is enough hours of sleep for a night.

Therefore, methinks today will be a down day.

Since I’ve been awake since around 4 AM, I’ve already done my news and social media scrolls. I’ve also dropped Angela off at the garage to get her malfunctioning e-brake fixed. <fingers crossed> I also have had quite an amusing comment thread conversation with another blogger about the state of disrepair that is currently passing for Gay Kulture and had a farewell coffee with the Silver Fox.

That might be the sum total of my accomplishments for the day. Plenty, it would be, too.

You’d actually think I could have gotten Angela into the garage right when they opened at 7, having had three hours by that time to muster myself. But they said “Drop ‘er off anytime between 7 and 9” and I set my target at 8 AM and saw no reason to deviate from that plan, despite my treasonous body’s somnambulistic misbehavior.

Wow. I can’t believe I nailed the spelling of somnambulistic on the first try.

Anyway, this being my life, when I got in the car to drive down to the garage, I hit a fresh surprise. Instead of my “Emergency Brake Malfunction” alert going off, my “Low Tire Pressure” light went off.

It’s good to switch these minor crises up. But the tire pressure issue is a problem for Les Schwab. Potentially…it might just be a factor of temperature, cold night following a hot day. Plus, I can inflate a tire myself.

As a matter of fact, when my consultant asked if there was anything else they should look at, I wanted to tell him I’m due for an oil change, since they can reset the on board computer and Oil Can Henry’s cannot, but the latter is about 40% cheaper, so I can put up with just letting the real mechanics reset the OBC every other oil change.

I also wanted to tell him that I’m getting an intermittent “Low Beam Malfunction” warning for my driver’s side head light. That’s really just punishment for me cheaping out when I had my passenger side headlight replaced a few months back and not doing both at the same time.

That’s Car-ma for ya.

Instead, I just told him

Let’s start with the e-brake and see what you leave in my bank account first.

Surprisingly, that garnered a chuckle.

I really should take these guys some doughnuts one of these days. They’re good folks.

Anyway, I mentally budgeted $500 for this repair – as if that will have any effect on whatever reality is to be. But if they can come in at or under that, then I’ll pull the trigger on the headlight and probably the oil change, too.

We’ll see.

I actually think I really need this down day…for a variety of reasons. I can feel my surliness levels rising – probably because of normal daily frustrations building up and my Low Liquor Level Light mentally going off because I have been drinking less…despite what you might think in a few paragraphs.

Knowing that today would probably be a day off from driving – even though I typically like to do a Wednesday shift, I went out yesterday for a few rides.

It turned into a literal few, too. Even though I went to the can before I got in the car, by the end of the second ride, I was doing a mental pee-pee dance. By the end of the third ride, I was ready to frantically point my car toward home.

Despite that close call, I felt guilty for not finishing my usual 10 rides, so after booting around the house for an hour or so, I went back out to wrap the day up. Aspirationally, I was thinking I’d stretch to 15.

The reality was two. I managed just two more rides before hitting my mental “fuck it” button.

I was still a little crunchy about my earlier rides, after a promising start with a long ride that I picked up about five blocks from home, my next two rides had been 15-20 minute pick ups. Neither of those rides was longer than six minutes, cumulatively they totaled 10 minutes. And no one was tipping.

The second shot at driving was similarly frustrating. Although, for a less surprising reason: traffic. I’m not sure who the Stupid American was that ruined it for everyone else yesterday, but I know where they lived.

Vantucky.

Sometime around 3:00, someone completely fucked up all of the Oregon-tax-dodging, Portland-job-stealing Vancouver folks’ commute home by getting into a wreck on the 205 bridge.

I noticed it during what turned out to be my fifth and final ride of the day when I didn’t get on 205 to get to a hotel by the airport. I knew something was wrong when the navigation app kept me on surface streets all the way there, and I could see that immediately when the app steered me away from the usual airport route.

To be clear, it’s not unusual for GPS to keep me off 84 at that time of day because it’s always a shitshow for the afternoon commute. It’s the crosstown freeway between the 5 and the 205, so everyone that lives on the east side of Portland or Vancouver uses it.

Poorly.

But when I stayed on surface streets – and we’re talking some real backwater roads, not the normal surface street airport routes, I knew I was a focacta situation.

Still, being that close to the airport, I hoped to snag an airport passenger for a ride back into town.

And I got one! A Lux ride, too!

…that was a 52 minute pick up.

Digging a little deeper, it wasn’t the airport passenger I’d been hoping for. It was a Vantuckian who was directly across the river from me – about a 10 minute ride, under normal circumstances.

I’m loathe to reject a ride. It’s not what I’m out there for. But 50+ minutes of sitting in traffic with these folks for what would very likely turn out to be a ride to a convenience store for some smokes for some lazy bastard – seriously, that was my last Vancouver Lux ride…during the snow storm a couple months ago – just wasn’t worth it.

Especially not when it was the last day of the 20% off wine case sale at Gross Out and the two Rosés I’d bought had both passed muster with The Fox. And I was just a few blocks away from a Grocery Outlet!

So I declined the ride and went and bought a case of each. I got both cases for a total of $75, and that should set us up for our Rosé On The Roof into, if not through, June.

Don’t think of it as “spending $75”, spin it as “saving $220″!

And if Angela’s repair comes in at $220, I promise you I will not be the least bit surprised…because that’s just about how weird my life is.

Down Day

I Can’t…Please Don’t Ask.

So, this landed in my Lyft app yesterday.

Here’s a more detailed explanation from the drill down

Basically, you give 114 rides, you get a $182 bonus. Not super great, it’s about $1.50/ride on top of whatever the driver’s fare share, tips and any surge bonuses are for each ride. But, once you hit that 114th ride, you are eligible for a second tier bonus of $70 on your next 21 rides. That’s more like an extra $3.25/ride…that is kinda something.

Let me just start out at the top here by saying that there will be earnings numbers in this post. That does not mean that they are typical. Far from, to be honest. But as the Silver Fox likes to encourage me, these are examples of “making hay while the sun shines”.

So don’t hit me up for any loans.

I usually give somewhere in the 40-50 ride range per week. It takes me about 20-25 hours.

But, since the new year, I’ve raised my weekly financial goal by 50%. I figure, if I’m not going back – read: being asked back, also known as “hired” – to professional work, I may as well support myself with my driving income versus bankrupting my future.

For instance, here’s my breakout from the last week, which ended Sunday.

You might notice I hit – exceeded, actually – my financial goal in the 65 rides I gave. And that was in only 22.5 hours.

Crazy.

What was also crazy is that I felt guilty about taking time off – more on that in a sec – last week, so started off Friday with a bang

It was also the first time I’ve ever seen this

…so, oops, I guess? Even though that 12 hour day was split up over two drive shifts – morning and evening – hitting that 12th hour and rounding my way to 13 became a no drive zone.

Anyway, most of those earnings were a combination of surge bonuses and Lux rides. Usually, I feel lucky to get one Lux ride per driving shift, Portland just isn’t a Lux market. Seattle, now that I could see being a Lux market. Much more image conscious – with the excessive compensation to bankroll their brand building tendencies, too, that lot.

But that first part, the surge bonuses, that’s pushing people to Lux…for the value.

It’s crazy. Have I mentioned how nuts this feels?

With the enhanced unemployment that gig workers were allowed to dip into last Spring, many drivers have opted not to drive in lieu of free money and reduced COVID risk. Originally, they were given around $1200/week. Now it’s more like $900/week, a big drop from almost $5k a month, for sure.

But it’s still $3600/month to do nothing! Last year, I’d say my “take home” averaged about two-thirds that number. Not free money, mind you, but I felt very little time or effort was required.

This unemployment potential means that there aren’t a lot of drivers on the road. That creates surge pricing and long wait times for standard Lyft cars. Since I have a BMW, I can get either standard or Lux rides or opt for only Lux rides. Doing both, I can usually expect 2-4 rides per hour, depending on the length of each ride, versus about one ride per hour if I toggle over to Lux only.

That means in many cases currently when demand is high, it’s cheaper – and oftentimes faster – to call for a Lux.

And it’s not just Lyft that is struggling to get drivers on the road. Uber is having a rough <ahem> road of it, too. On Friday night I picked up a couple women around closing time (ok, that sounds seedy) at a bar in close-in SE. They were doing a split Lux ride, dropping one off about 18 blocks away from the bar and the other pretty deep in North Portland’s St John’s neighborhood. That’s where this iconic Portland bridge lives

…and it’s pretty hard to get to. It’s a freeway ride to almost the state line and then a long potholed surface street journey into the bowels of NoPo.

The St John’s passenger told me that just her ride home with Uber was $120, so they checked Lyft and with the slightly out of the way drop off of her friend, it was still less than 2/3 the Uber rate.

So, why am I mad? Well, I’m not. Not precisely.

I love driving and chatting with people and being “in service” to them. I call it my social paycheck, but really, it’s filling in a void I wasn’t prepared for after inadvertently leaving my retail career.

It’s funny, the things you miss. Funnier that these realizations caught me so off guard.

However, not being mad aside, I only drove Friday, Saturday and Sunday this week. I intentionally took off Monday through Thursday because I was tired.

Also, the Silver Fox was in town getting his second COVID vaccination…but that’s not the point!

I had just come off another challenge week the day before The Fox came up to town. That challenge was three tiered versus this week’s two tiers: 95 rides/$118 + 10 rides/$50 + another 30 rides/$84, for a total of $252 in ride bonuses for 135 rides.

Same number of rides and bonus potential as last week, they are just making us work for that first carrot.

Of course, this being my life, my 135th ride on the last challenge week ended in BFE. Me being loathe to drive home for free when I could get paid to drive home, switched my app to Destination Mode and caught another ride to my neck of civilization.

After 136 rides in almost 50 hours, I needed the rest. But I’d low key wanted to nail one of these challenges for over a year. With the Silver Fox out of town, I really had no excuse. Actually, I was a little mad that it took this long, but it was more bad timing than prochristination.

I swear!

But here’s the humble brag receipt:

And there were cash tips that aren’t showing in those numbers.

Yeah, if anyone with no skills beyond being able to operate a motor vehicle is looking for a job that pays $125,000 a year…I’ve got a hot tip for ya.

I do not want to earn that much. Well, honestly, I don’t want to work 50-plus hour weeks anymore. Thirty years of that bullshit was plenty.

Ergo, I’ve happily arrived at a point where my three ~10 ride days a week plus my long Friday, which I call either a double or a triple since it usually lands between 20 and 30 rides, sustain me. Added bonus: my favorite local station has a Friday night program called Party Out Of Bounds that is all 80s & 90s music from 8-midnight.

Yes. Please.

Wait…have I gotten around to why I’m mad/not mad yet?

It’s just too soon, this week’s challenge! I don’t know if it’s based on a preplanned calendar or in response to driver census in a certain area or something else altogether, but it seems this type of thing only happened a few times last year. Every other month, at most.

Every other week? Twice a month?

So much! Stop throwing money at me…I’ll respond!

But the retail manager in me – that apparently won’t die – wants to meet or exceed goals set by my employer. Even though Lyft’s technically not my employer in this relationship…when they call, I tend to answer.

If I get home after my 10 rides and my app tells me ride demand is high, I might sign back in for another five rides or so. Especially if they’re throwing surge bonuses onto rides – one of my rides this past Saturday included a $31 surge bonus. For one lousy ride! But generally, the surge bonuses are more in the $1.50-$4 range.

Nevertheless, my concern here is that even with the Silver Fox in town again yesterday and today, Angela going into the shop on Wednesday and a get together with Bubble Boy Thursday…I don’t really have the time to answer this call.

But I bet I end up trying.

Just watch.

Apparently, you can take the boy out of retail, but you can’t take the retail out of the boy.

I Can’t…Please Don’t Ask.