All The Small Things

No, this is not a humble brag about Unhung Pride. I mean, that’s totally something I would do…I’m just not presently setting out to.

Ok, now I have. Oops.

I don’t know how to segue back to my original thought, so I’ll just say…tell your friends?

Ok, no. The small things I was referring to was really more a matter of things we lose track of during the normal efforts to distract ourselves from the futility hustle and bustle of our daily lives. I’m trying to do one new, small self-care thing each week.

In August, I set aside time each week to go on a 30-45 minute trundle jog.

Last month, I bought a couple new candles. Because Myrtle takes some really heinous dumps and can’t cover her “tracks”, if you get my drift.

There was my weed syrup splurge, which has afforded me several nights of better sleep than I deserve each week. Special side effect: I’ve been drinking less. Woo!

I buy the occasional home improvement plant.

Next week I might crawl into my closet in search of Christmas lights for my balcony railing. Something virtually only I would enjoy. Well, me, the seven balconies attached to occupied courtyard facing units in my building and possibly any hotel guests on the backside of my neighboring hotel.

One week I went through my photos on my phone and deleted a bunch, moving others into long overdue albums to help me find them easier. That hasn’t paid me back yet, alas.

Then a couple weeks ago, I went down a true rabbit hole. Albeit, one that could potentially pay me back for my efforts. And like anything binge-adjacent (drinking, watching entire series, what-have-you) as soon as I finished exploring said rabbit hole, I forgot all about it.

Today, I was reminded of that particular exercise in self-care when I went to my mailbox. Speaking of things I don’t do often enough. Anyway, I digress. Me! Can you believe that?

Boom. Random money in my mailbox. And there’s more coming!

How?

Unclaimed Property.

No anonymous rich uncles here, unfortunately. But I did have a one-off paycheck here in Portland and an un-refunded deposit to a utility company in Seattle.

Apparently, each state has a repository for these types of remittance, lest you simply think that companies pocket these things. I’m sure each state set their system up differently, and there have always been outfits that exploit the system by setting up sites to help you search for and claim unknown “property”. But those always cost something. Either a membership or processing fee of some kind. Maybe a percentage of the windfall. I’ve low key “known” about my utility deposit for over five years, but was t willing to pay to get it.

Recently, I found a link to unclaimed property while perusing the Credit Karma website – which I like because it’s a) free and b) a source of depressing news that I can exert at least minimal influence over, unlike newspapers or broadcast news, which I’m pretty powerless against.

Suddenly, I was searching databases for all of the states I’ve ever lived in to see if I’d left a trail of oopsies across this fine country of ours. Mind you, some of these states I lived in in the last century, so I wasn’t expecting that there would be a result, but as long as I was there…plus, I moved out of Washington in 2015! I surely wouldn’t have expected to have them hold on to a utility deposit for five years after I left the state. Moreover, this was a deposit, so it likely was paid closer to 15 years ago when I first moved to what I like to call the third best state on the West Coast.

I think the utility deposit was for cable service, which I signed up for in ’07 and terminated the following year. After returning the box, I would have been due a credit for the equipment. That should have been easy enough, since I still had internet service through the same company – just credit my damn bill, right?

Wrong.

Shows what I know.

I’ll be on the lookout for that $100 check coming soon. Unless I forget again.

The check I got today was from an extra job I did for Grimm a few years ago. We’re talking back in ’16. I went out and sat in a holding tent for a few hours on a drizzly night in a nice old Portland neighborhood…then I guess I never picked up the check. Seemed fitting, since I think the job this check was for was actually for an extra gig that I never got out of the holding tent on.

Too bad there’s no interest on it after four years. Actually, probably the opposite. Since learning my net was an entire $55 plus change, I’ve been trying to remember what the day rate was for extra work back then. I seem to recall $120, but netting down to less than half seems…unduly taxing. Maybe it was only $100? Still, a 45% tax rate? Save it for the friggin’ billionaires!

But it’s fifty-five bones that I didn’t have this morning, so I’ll take it. Maybe I’ll buy a few more candles. Or a pot for Figly the Free Fig. Seems weird to pay for a planter for a free plant, so purchasing one with found money is appropriate!

Meanwhile, for those of you keeping track, I saw another vehicle going the wrong way on a one-way street again today.

On.

A.

Bridge.

This is why I do nice things for myself. I could figuratively die any second.

All The Small Things

Lockdown 2.0

Welp. Here we are, it’s round two of stay at home orders here in Oregon.

Two weeks for the state and it’s looking like Portland’s home county – Multnomah – will get a bonus two weeks. Here in Portland/MultCo, we’ve been running about 1/4 of the daily cases for the entire state. Our ICU beds are at over 80% capacity, although in our defense there, we do have either the lowest or damn near lowest inventories of ICU beds in the country on a x/1000 residents basis…

Through that lens, I’d say we deserve the extra two weeks. No, we need the extra two weeks.

Looking at it through the Stupid Americans lens, I’m curious how we will execute the extra two weeks of isolation with the rest of the state resuming its running around like COVIDiots. Ok, we’ve been hit pretty lightly by COVID compared to the rest of the country, but still, Portland proper touches three counties: Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington. How does this compliance pep talk go?

Governor Brown: Ok, everyone but Multnomah county residents can resume Phase 1 or 2 activities, but stay out of Multnomah county unless you live there!

Oregonians: It’s fine, we’ll wear masks if we have to go to Portland!

GB: Wait. Weren’t you wearing masks this whole time?

Oregonians: Well…<looks nervously at Clackamas county>

GB: I’m waiting. <taps shoe>

Oregonians: You’re looking for a “yes” here, right?

GB: …

Nothing has made me more nervous than having rides in east county or Clackamas – with the higher population of morons Trump supporters that live there. Indeed, it’s where the Trump Trucks staged prior to running amok around town waving guns, flying Trump, Back the Blue, Confederate and other racist flags from their trucks while spraying onlookers with bear spray and indiscriminately firing paint balls.

I keep thinking about that wall…I know a decent alternate location.

Anyway, knowing we’d be in lockdown again, with restaurants back to takeout service only, bars and gyms completely shut…I prepared. Once again, I did not run out and stock up on Crapping Paper, nor did I hoard food stocks. Although, I’d found stocking up on my go-to soda difficult. The local grocers usually have Buy x/Get x sales three weeks out of the month, so if I look around, I can stock up on Coke Zero (take that, V!) for a month at a time on the cheap. Not this time. After checking three stores close to me and finding them out of stock, I had to fall back to Diet Coke.

Optimistically or stubbornly, I only got one 12 pack. You decide. Of course, then I come home and settle into the couch to watch both Deadpool movies, binge some SNL, watch movies made in/around Portland (ugh, that means Twilight, too) and play Words With Friends over the next month. Only to be trolled by the WWF ad algorithm. Here I am, ready to ring the alarm about a local shortage of Coke Zero and I’m getting ads like this on WWF.

Bastards.

But I did avail myself to my local watering hole returning to beer delivery. Big Legrowlski is doing $10 crowlers (32 Oz filled on site cans) of their best of Oregon beer taps again. Two crowler minimum. Of course, I got Pallet Jack!

Well, two.

I joked and told the owner I wasn’t stocking up, I was getting one for each hand!

They kept the 22 Oz bottle of another of Oregon’s best – which I liberated from the Silver Fox’s fridge last time I collected his mail – company. Honestly, I thought they wouldn’t last the night when I picked them up last Tuesday.

I’ve surprised myself, though. One on Wednesday night. The second last night (Saturday) with my pizza night. Both nights, I expected to deplete my stock. You know what, though? That pilfered 22 Oz bottle of Breakside is still literally chilling in the fridge.

Yay, moderation!

But I really did intend to support Big Legrowlski with a 2x/week order, so I’d best get busy getting back to form. Or I could be perfectly content drinking less.

I did supplement my first order with the possibly limited edition Big Legrowlski face mask!

I hope The Dude abides. He didn’t seem too put out by my current favorite mask when I visited a few weeks back.

Still, now I can suck up to The Dude when I pick up next week’s order, right? I washed the BL mask before using it the first time. I gotta say, it felt like a Speedo for my face! It’s so sleek. Maybe I’ll save it for special occasions. Regardless, it does increase my mask inventory by 25%, so now I have more options when a couple are in the wash.

Not that I’m going anywhere anytime soon, but I’ve got a “Little Black Mask”, now…just in case I get invited anywhere formal once we are released from Lockdown 2.0, so there’s that.

Plus, beer delivery! Ok, just beer, I guess, since I pick it up.

Lockdown 2.0

Stüpid Uhmericnz

I can beat this drum all day. Not because it’s fun – although, often it can be funny to witless witness – rather, because it’s quasi therapeutic to not let these moments pass unrecognized.

Also, I like that people are coming around to my way of thinking. It’s about damn time. One is, after all, either a part of the solution or else part of the problem.

I’ve been kvetching about how cities protect themselves from skateboarder liability suits for over a decade. You know those little metal pucks that cities put on the corners of railing/benches/dividers to keep sk8ers from doing tricks on them?

Yeah, those gotta go.

If for no other reason than cities haven’t managed police reform to protect their BIPOC citizenry from police brutality – and they are willing to suffer those wrongful death or excessive force suits without taking action to correct the problem. I say “Why? Why, then shall we protect the city from lawsuits from injured skateboarders?”

Let’s face it, skate culture is – in my observation – largely a white guy thing. And they choose – free will and all that crap – to perform tricks on these public constructs, using them in a manner that is not intended. Without helmets, I might add.

For that matter, I haven’t seen one person get ticketed on those e-scooters for violating the terms of use and riding helmetless, either. But the City hasn’t outlawed e-scooters.

But, no…these little metal pucks are somewhere on virtually every block downtown. Not in neighborhoods, mind you. Liability there rests with homeowners. On public property, though, the City is potentially liable for injuries on its property, so it protects itself from frivolous lawsuits from parents of brain damaged teens or spouses of the paralyzed father of their children (proving that we really need qualifiers for parenthood beyond the almost involuntary ability to attain an erection) by installing these pucks to help prevent injury.

No, what we need here is a justice system that is a little more bitchy.

Hold on a second…you raised a child without enough common sense to wear the recommended safety equipment and bought them the skateboard and let them out of the yard unsupervised and they hurt themselves on City property. Now they are a vegetable and We The People are expected to shoulder the blame?

Yes.

Ok, bitch. First of all, the correct answer is “No”. “Hell no, even”. Secondly, the key phrase there is “they hurt themselves. Periodt. We The People had nothing to do with it, this is totally a “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” moment.

And, lastly, We The People think that we owe it to ourselves to ask if you need a date to the Darwin Awards, because we have a feeling you’ll be invited…and we’d really like to go!

Seriously, there really should be a public ceremony – if those are ever allowed again – actually awarding the families of people who improved humanity by removing themselves from the gene pool.

Maybe then we’d stop seeing unqualified humans released into the world unsupervised. Just a couple generations ago, we’d lock our less fortunate family members away in an attic to protect them from themselves and the family from the fallout of any potentially untoward behaviors.

Now, we lack the commitment to our families and our neighbors and buy them skateboards or smartphones, which allow them no end of potential trouble. And then we sue a third party if when shit goes sideways.

Also, now…we have these skateboarder-type people who cheated death and survived what likely should have been last words – think “Hey, watch this!” – and grown up.

And <shudder> procreated. Because wearing condoms was as much a violation of their rights as wearing masks during a pandemic is.

And, worst of all, 70 million of them have now been duped into thinking they were qualified to make an informed opinion about who should lead our country.

Why am I surprised? How long have we been putting the Surgeon General warning on cigarettes…40…50 years? Yet I still see people in their 30s and 20s smoking.

Like I said, I’ve been a proponent of letting Darwin sort it out for quite sometime. Alas…

But that affords me the opportunity to observe and report on the stupid things we do as a culture to help – or exploit – those poor, stupid, Stupid Americans.

Luckily, what I see is usually more entertaining than watching anti-maskers during a global pandemic or white supremacists vote.

Don’t believe me?

Maybe that’s for the best, since now that I’ve made the sad supporting case, the things I’ve ruefully chuckled about when I’ve witnessed them over the past weeks are <poof> gone. I knew I should have taken pictures.

The vagaries of aging…

Things like the sign I saw on the side of a cart in the local Kroger outlet, Fred Meyer. It was on a piece of merchandise handling equipment for an employee gathering online orders:

Free In-Store Pickup!

Um, isn’t that always the free option?

Mentally bending over backward, I know what they were attempting to say. F for execution, though. I get it, you’re trying to differentiate your online shopping/in-store pickup service from say…restaurants, right? When you’re too lazy to cook and order takeout or – for those of you old enough to remember – go to a restaurant to eat, you pay a premium to have the work done for you.

An example of this from my personal history:

I love pasta. It’s a genetic trait passed from mother to child, as far as I can see. Hehe.

But sometimes I just don’t want to expose myself to my own lack of discipline by preparing a full batch of pasta – which I always do, because who wants half a package of pasta in their cabinet and a half jar of sauce in their fridge? And what if you improperly dose out the sauce and don’t have enough left for the second batch?

Ergo, I cook it all up. Because pasta is one of those few foods that I will eat as leftovers. But then…I eat the whole pound of pasta in one sitting.

So to me, it’s sometimes worth paying the markup for a single serving.

To my ex (Rib), though – a chef – it was a non-starter.

I’m not paying $15 for something I could make at home for $.25!

I feel the same about eggs, so I get it. Although, when someone else is buying, I shut up and eat eggs! He stuck to his guns, though. I think I successfully ate pasta in a restaurant once while we were together. Hehe.

So what Freddy’s is saying is that they will shop for your groceries for you and not charge you extra like that chef that boils water for you does. But as far as marketing goes, I wanted to stop and argue with the cashier that made me pay for my groceries.

But, but…it says “free in-store pickup and here I am! Why are you making me pay?!?

Buncha meanies.

Although, since I was picking up cat food and a plant, arguing that I had “groceries” might have been tough.

The plant was “free”, because I’ve long wanted a fig but didn’t want to spend money on one, thinking Myrtle would just eat ruin it anyway. This fig – working name Figly – represents 300 recycled cans and bottles, of the Coke Zero (take that, V!) and craft beer variety, save the occasional fizzy water bottle. Thus, it was “free”. Since all of my Myrtle-free Zones are either too small, too dark for plants or already occupied by other plants like Cornelius, my corn plant, I had to improvise to protect Figly.

I’ll figure out something better. First, I need to get dear Figly a permanent pot, then I’ll rearrange furniture to create a better Myrtle-free Zone. Right now, I’m busy not spending money on a pot for my new plant that I “picked up in-store for free”.

In other stupid news, there have been a few public works projects around my home specifically tailored toward protecting our dummies.

First, with our new trend toward outside dining to protect against COVID spread while also supporting the restaurant industry and also definitely not curbing our right to not prepare our own food…I’ve noticed some issues.

Mostly, I love the City responding to the public need by allowing restaurants to use two to three parking spaces adjacent to their doors as outdoor dining areas. A few non-essential side streets have been turned into on street dining plazas and beer gardens. This has allowed restaurants and bars to add not just seating, but in order to create a dining “experience”, some restaurants have added foliage to their street dining rooms. Now that the weather has turned from False Fall to Actual Fall, sided tents and heaters are being added to the mix – just in time for Lockdown 2.0!

Hey, it even helps the air…plants take CO2 out of the air and release oxygen. That’s a bonus, even though I couldn’t say with any scientific certainty that COVID particles ever get absorbed into the plantings with the CO2. It’s pretty, and that’s enough for me.

But then I see this bar next to my house setting up their outdoor area. They’ve built picnic tables and benches, built planters and then stained them so patrons have a nice area to enjoy their fare.

Then they posted this sign to help people not get stains on their clothing.

On a GD tree. Gourd help us all. I doubt Bob Ross was actually responsible for this apparently recently-painted tree.

Mind you, they built all this on a day they were closed, so they wouldn’t have been ruining customers’ clothes. Just lazy bastard passers’ by clothes who copped an entitled squat on the bar’s work in progress arts and craft project.

More global city-wide cures for stupid that I’ve seen recently involve solutions for one-way streets.

Personally, I think these signs should be replaced with something like…

If you haven’t seen the original Total Recall, the head explodes right after this warning. I think drivers going the wrong way down a one-way street should be prepared for something equally damaging.

But, not Portland. No…

In our bicycle-friendly little burg, where cyclists are expected to follow the rules of the road, we’re creating bike lanes on both sides of one-way streets.

Why?

Well, so we have a bike lane for travel in each direction…on a one-way street.

For the cyclists that are supposed to follow the rules of the road.

Sidenote: the song Warning Signs just came on my Of Monsters and Men Pandora station. My Pandora app isn’t even open while I’m working on this?!?

I’m not sure it’s perfectly clear here in the 4:30 PM darkness, but this is a two lane one-way street. See? No yellow line down the center. It used to be a three lane, but in order to protect retired skateboarders cyclists from their own inability to follow rules, the City removed a lane and added a second bike lane for against flow riding. The left-hand bike lane is inexplicably bordered by yellow stanchions instead of white, as on the right-hand with traffic flow bike lane.

Please. How is this possibly expected to work? We’re trying to protect a public who refuses to put forward an accountability for their own well-being.

Note of interest: yes, I was standing in the door of Portland’s oldest strip club – Mary’s Spot – as I took this pic.

Not to be outdone by cyclists, I saw a traffic accident the other day. I was getting on the freeway and a Trump Truck pick up truck exited the freeway on the on ramp I was attempting to use, experiencing a solo spin out and coming to rest pointed the wrong way against an overpass pillar and canted out into traffic so it blocked one lane and almost all of the second lane.

Good citizen that I am, I squeezed by and continued on my way, leaving the situation in Darwin’s capable hands. I also wanted to confirm my recollection that the next ramp on this freeway was actually to – or from in the case of this particular idiot – another freeway. Either this joker successfully drove the wrong way on not one, but two freeways before unsuccessfully exiting on the on ramp I was trying to use or he (I just chose the dumbest gender, I didn’t see that the driver was actually male) drove for multiple exits on the one freeway going the wrong direction.

These are our people…

I do not like them.

Not one bit.

But I like even less waiting for them to show me that their heads are full of shit.

What do you think, do I have a future as a Dr Seuss For Dummies author?

Why can’t families go back to locking away their embarrassing shortcomings, both genetic and/or rearing failures? I figure it’s a toss up, should what I ask for come to pass. With 70 million voting age Americans voting against rationale, science, basic rights and common sense, I know it’s almost as likely that I’d be the one living in my family attic.

At least there’s more than just books to keep me company. I would have the interwebs and social <shudder> media. Words With Friends and I could even take up video gaming!

Hell, maybe that should be what my long game is. My sister has a much nicer home than mine…maybe I should give into it!

Stüpid Uhmericnz

Nine Days!

The US General Election is only 9 days away. Most of the time, I think I can make it.

Some of the time, though, I fear what happens if we experience another upset, as we did in 2016.

Still others, I fear what happens if what the polls indicate comes to fruition.

Stand by, stand back.

It’s a terrifying notion, that last one.

Still, regardless of the past 4 years and the next 9 days…we’ll be turning a page. The big question, will we be starting a new book, a new chapter or perhaps find ourselves on the last page of American history?

This campaign between former VP Biden and our current President, General Disorder, has at least provided an opportunity for an adult involved (What can I say? It’s Biden I’m talking about…) to highlight the thing America has been missing these last 4 years: a president that works for the American people.

I’d like to get back to that.

To that end, I’ve been talking to people about voting. I was raised politically on the “get out the vote” and “rock the vote” initiatives, so I feel it’s my responsibility to encourage people to do so. Luckily, in Portland, I’m basically encountering like-minded voters, which is nice.

What’s surprising, particularly from such a divisive president, is the effort he seems to be taking to encourage the same. It seems his campaign has placed drop boxes for his supporters’ ballots throughout the city. Presumably do that they don’t have to rub elbows with their sworn enemy – reasonable people – when voting.

Isn’t that great?

For the least statesmanlike leader our country has had in my lifetime, I think this is an amazingly nurturing thing for him to do for democracy.

To be honest, those aren’t really Trump Ballot Drop Boxes. Just in case that needed to be made clear.

They are a step taken by the City of Portland to help the houseless survive during the pandemic. They have placed hundreds of these portapotties and hand washing stations throughout the city – although, I’ve never seen the two together…which seems odd.

Of course, Portland being occupied by Portlanders – who at their core are just as dumb as any other Stupid Americans, just in weirder ways – the residents of streets where these portapotties are located have decided to complain.

Naturally.

Fucking NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) bastards. Complain about the homeless and demand the City do something. Then complain about what the City does.

You’d think they’d just take a moment to reflect and be thankful they aren’t experiencing houselessness themselves or be grateful the City heard their call to action.

Alas.

Nine Days!

Snoop-date

Ok, I’m far more a Martha Stewart than a Snoop Dog. Still, I figured an update on my subbing in a Weed Cocktail in lieu of beer or wine was needed.

In case you missed it – or can’t/won’t click the embedded link – at the end of August, I ventured into my neighborhood weed shop. It was on the advice of a passenger, who I had picked up at work and taken to her home.

Her work?

Budtender.

I’d been complaining about how weed was taboo when I was in school and that had caused it to never really become a part of my work detox routine.

The syzzurp was her recommendation. The bottle I bought has 25 doses, but I’m only taking a half dose in my weedtini so I’m only just now getting to the bottom of my first $55 bottle.

September wasn’t the model Dry Month, but it was definitely arid.

Going into September, I could recall one lockdown night that didn’t involve a drink or more. In September, my daily drinking went to a mere six occurrences. That doesn’t mean I was sucking down a syzzurp nightcap before bed those other nights, either.

That was a great realization. I wasn’t trading one habit for another, I was changing my ritual.

But on those nights I did partake of my new relaxation inclination?

Ten hours of sleep.

It’s leveling out closer to 8 hours, about as many weeks into this experiment. I’ll take that result.

Interestingly enough, regardless of how many hours of sleep I get off my W&T (weed & tonic), I’m amused to discover that I usually awake in the same position I went to sleep in.

It’s a phenomenon called Coffin Sleep, which is dark, but apt. I didn’t initially realize this was happening. But as my better sleep led to waking up later and that led to going to bed later…it became obvious that it was happening.

Mistress Myrtle gets the credit.

She would still retire at a respectable hour.

Me? I may drive until midnight or even 1 AM, because those rides just keep coming in. That’s so strange to experience, but another story.

I come home, maybe have a snack and a bubble water while watching an episode of whatever binge I’m currently passing time with. In September, that was still X-Files – there were 11 seasons and two movies, after all.

This month, I’m working my way through Ally McBeal. So I’ll have my snack and watch an episode. Make my Snoop-hattan and sip it during the second and then either turn in or watch a third episode while the syzzurp kicks in.

At worst, I’m a little head high when I head to bed. Usually, I’m just very heavy lidded.

The reason Myrt gets credit for me realizing I’d been sleeping coffin sleep deep is that when she went to bed ahead of me, she picked her spot on the bed for the night. When I wanted to get in, I had to fold in around her, which led to some strange bent spoon type sleeping positions. When I would wake up in a pike position or looking like the letter K in sign language, I figured it out.

Damn alpha cat.

Even though the positioning might be awkward, it never takes longer than 5 minutes to fall asleep. And that’s a great 5 minutes, too.

It’s like my body just lets go. It’s the most relaxed I feel all day. My body just coalesces into itself. I know where my arms and legs are located, but where they touch each other, I don’t know where each ends or begins.

It’s amazing.

On nights where I don’t coffin sleep, I might still wake up to pee a few hours after bed. Those bouts were fewer and farther in between than the prior six months of it being a nightly occurrence.

But those were the nights I learned about the body high that came with this product!

I think I should get a Nest security system just to watch the video of my nocturnal not so jaunty jaunts to the loo after a few hours of weed napping the night away. I imagine I’m about as graceful as Frankenstein out on a somnambulistic stroll.

When I get to the can, I’ve got to hold on to the wall as I squat so I don’t fall over or miss. I know that standing is a non-option for these episodes.

And then, <poof> right back to sleep.

The only real downside I have experienced – and it may not even be related – are my dreams.

Specifically, the snake dreams.

Snakes are not something I find not terrifying. Having them in my dreams was a very infrequent occurrence, pre-weedtini. I’m encountering them in my unconscious at least once a week now, so that’s quite an uptick.

The truly strange thing is that they are just there. Not doing anything scary, just being all snake-y. They might just be chilling somewhere on the sidelines of the dream. Occasionally, they have been cruising around the room I’m in in the dream. Once they were slithering up my body while I dreamed that I was sleeping in my bed.

Then there was the dream where I woke up in my dream to find my left leg inside a snake’s mouth and the snake just kinda looking at me with an expression that was somewhere between “What?” and “Hey Buddy, a little help here?”

Generally, I still prefer my dreams to lack a specific slither. But I’m not inclined to sub alcohol back into my relaxation routine as long as this is an option!

Snoop-date

Paul Simon May Want To Rethink A Thing Or Two

Namely, the whole “Call Me Al” situation.

Why?

I’m not sure Al is what anyone really wants. Specifically the “Al” located in equality and separating it from equity.

What? You thought I wouldn’t bend over backward for a cryptic blog title?

Pish.

All summer long, I’ve heard cries for equality from marginalized communities. Not just in Portland, certainly, but from all across the country. Don’t get me wrong, this is perhaps not a rallying cry that originated in Portland – but we certainly picked that baton up and ran with it.

Our unofficial forecast doesn’t get to be “Cloudy, with a chance of protests” for nothing. Although, to be fair, as the kinkiest city in America…one might wonder if we mistook that baton for an adult toy. But that’s a rabbit hole for another time.

No, the Al/equality issues I’ve been observing this year have their origins in Minneapolis. The protests against Police Brutality and the calls for an end to Systemic Racism in America after George Floyd’s murder this past May started a nationwide movement that – thanks in no small part to our country and economy being shut down since March – have sustained like never before.

Thank gawd.

It’s an idea whose time has come…or rather, that should have come back in 1865.

Not to be left out, while we joined in those protests, there was another battle or two surging here in Portland. Remember, “Cloudy, with a chance of protests“, that’s plural. So we’re helping with carrying the banner for the Black and BIPOC communities. But simultaneously, there is a movement that I’m considering two separate battles, despite a significant population overlap.

First, Trans Rights.

This folds into the outcry from the Black/BIPOC communities, to be sure. The cause of this issue points back specifically to trans-women being murdered across the country. The astonishing majority of these murder victims are people of color. Icing that crap cake is the shit frosting that while no one is asserting that these women were murdered by police, they are not crimes that are given seeming equal gravity and diligence by police.

On the heels of that shituation is a phenomen that I think is definitely more important locally: Sex Workers Rights.

What can I say? We love our strip clubs here. I’d say grabbing a drink at a strip club – regardless of your gender – is as much a part of our town’s fabric as Food Carts. If there’s not a naked dancer basically within an arms reach, what’s the point?

But our local Sex Workers have been seeking legitimate standing as part of our work force for quite some time. The COVID-forced shutdowns of the clubs only exacerbated their frustrations.

The basic root or mascot of all these movements? In a word (or three)?

White, cis-males.

On second thought, maybe if Paul Simon was referring to an Al of either the Sharpton, Green or Jolson variety, he may not mind sticking to his guns on his “Call Me Al” take. But, if his Als were of the Bundy, Gore or Chipmunk varietals then, yeah…maybe it’s time to set those aside.

But I digress.

The irony of this targeting by these minority communities is that I don’t think any of those individuals would want to swap lives/situations with your run of the mill white, cis-males.

Which is why I try to focus on using words like equity or parity versus equality.

Take Gay Marriage as an example. It was called the fight for Marriage Equality, but what’s the first thing we do once we have it?

Open Marriages.

Pick a blog post or three from my archives at random and read them. I’ll bet at least one mentions some form of my observations of relationships in the gay community.

Basically, once The Gays had Marriage Equality, they changed it to suit themselves versus conforming strictly to established institutional norms.

We didn’t want Marriage Equality, so much as we wanted Equity. We wanted the same right to marry as heterosexual couples, but we didn’t want what their marriage had morphed into over time and religion.

Do you get the difference I’m trying to highlight? Cuz, it’s a fine point, and it’s late…and I had my syzzurp…so maybe I’m not doing the best job of articulating it.

I had to take a sleep break last night. Didn’t want to be blogging under the influence. (He says, sipping his beer)

Ok, so let me try another take on the point I was trying to make last night re: equality vs equity.

Let’s just say for the sake of argument that reparations for slavery were granted. Set aside any thoughts you have on awarding damages centuries after the crime…it’s just an example.

Now, let’s say that some lawmaker rips off my blog and decides that those reparations will be awarded in the form of a poorly named cracker box style suburban home with a nice little white picket fence and a new American made minivan in the driveway.

Sure, you might have some takers. Folks that realize something is more than nothing.

But.

I’d wager a large percentage of settlees would look at that settlement wondering what their net would be from selling those items…because culturally what the Black community values isn’t necessarily a direct translation to what white people would consider “The American Dream”. Actually, add “American Dream” to the list of systemic racism than needs dismantling.

Seriously…all you people that assert you can’t be a racist because you have a Black friend, ask your Black friend. Actually, ask them what Black people stereotypically think about white people.

One of two things will happen:

First, you’ll find out that they aren’t your friend, they are just friendly toward you because they are nice, possibly slightly scared of you. But, maybe they don’t actually trust you. You’ll know if this is the case because they won’t tell you anything. They’ll look at you like this

And then you know you’ll be needing to go back to the drawing board and read the things you’ve just been reposting to social media as an ally and take it in, do the work, build their trust.

The other thing that might happen is that they will absolutely unload on you with a machine gun of hilarious stereotypes that will make you second guess the validity of the statement

Stereotypes exist for a reason

Because…when you hear white peoples stereotypes, you’ll realize how bizarrely inaccurate racial stereotypes are. It’s way more than Karen asking to speak to the manager.

I had a Black co-worker back in the mid-80s. She did something embarrassing one day at work and absolutely fell out laughing. When she caught a breath, the first words out of her mouth were, “If I was white, I’d be red”, meaning she’d be blushing.

That’s when I started laughing, because: hilarious. Sheila – my friend – on the other hand, heard herself and stopped cold.

No more laughing.

Whites visible all around her eyeballs.

“What?”, I asked.

“You weren’t supposed to know that…”

“Because it’s a secret that Black peoples don’t ‘blush’? I wish I had your cover…I’d be way cooler.”

Then she laughed again, shaking her head as if to suggest that I could not, indeed, be cooler cool under any circumstances.

Ok, ok…I know a lot of you nonracists might not have Black friends to validate your status as an ally. But maybe ask your Asian friend what white people smell like. If they don’t say “Butter”, then go back and reread all the crap you’ve been blindly reposting to social media and work on building your ally trust.

Because white peoples are hilariously boring, and notoriously ill-humored about it. And, yeah…kind of have a butter-y odor we are nose blind to.

Shit, some of the hilarious things my Black friends have told me about white stereotypes…the funniest thing about them is my reflexive denial and eventual admission that they were more accurate than I’d like to believe.

We don’t have flavorful foods. We’ve ripped off plenty of cuisine from other cultures and then diluted their flavor profiles with cheese. Don’t even get me started on how we confuse heat for flavor.

We don’t make a big deal during sex, which is particularly strange since we make such a big deal about sex.

We actually can’t jump. Who saw that coming?

I’ve learned that nothing beats admission to the ally club faster than being able to recognize ones own cultural foibles. As is the usual in my life, I process through laughter.

Pain.

Joy.

Awkwardness.

Laughter doesn’t give me a clean slate of credibility when it comes to ally-ship. But it builds a lot of bridges. If people understand that I’m not so bad, then they’ll forgive me the trespasses of not being a perfect ally. It’s an unfortunate truism that people who fancy themselves the best allies are probably doing more harm than good by wearing the badge proudly amongst their friends and actually setting a poor example.

Me? I view ally-ship through the same neurotic filter as everything else in my life, so when people criticize me, my default response is definitely not surprise.

I feel like – despite my weed cocktail induced restful night – I’ve drifted away from my point.

Oopsies.

Well, let me try and salvage wrap this up with this thought:

Equity is I think the pragmatic and clear way of approaching these equality calls we encounter.

People asking for equality don’t necessarily want what “we” have. I think it’s more powerful when we encounter these calls for equality to examine the things we take for granted that are at the core of that ask for equality. Then realize that they want the equity to live their lives as blithely as we do.

Case. In. Point.

I didn’t get pulled over last weekend.

I was out doing my Lyft schtick. As is always the case, I got a call for a ride while my car was in motion. I was driving down a four lane road, two lanes each direction, when the call came in. I looked down, hit accept, looked back up and I was in a turn lane that I didn’t want to be in.

Checking my rear and side view mirrors – and looking over my shoulder! – before zippering in between the two cars I remembered being in my immediate area.

But I didn’t signal…

To get to my passenger, I needed to reverse course and head back the way that I had come from. Of course…so I took a right and a left and then another left and then another left to get headed back in the correct direction.

The car I’d zippered in in front if followed me the entire way.

Well, it’s either a cop or I’m going to get murdered for cutting someone off.

It was a cop.

Now, here’s the thing: an hour earlier, I’d been driving downtown in one of our many three-lane and much maligned one-way streets when suddenly, a (sorry) rice rocket changed lanes from my right hand lane to the far left lane and then slammed on his (gender profiling) brakes at the stoplight.

Right in front of a cop.

Me, sitting at the light, caught the bored cop in the passenger seat’s eye and pointed out the car sitting directly in front of them, suggesting maybe the cops should do something about their flagrant moving violation.

Nothing.

Not even a glimmer of an acknowledgment that they too had witnessed the wreck-less-mess of the situation.

Well, there’s my tax dollars at work.

So, jump cut to an hour or so later when these headlights are following me around a residential block and I’m actually erring on the side of being murdered rather than being followed by a cop.

Here’s the thing you need to understand about me. I really do try to live according to the motto “Do the right thing, even when no one is watching”. So not signaling my earlier zippered lane change had me feeling neurotic anyway for failing to meet that standard. But that same neurosis jumped over the likelihood of being followed by a cop right to being followed by a murderer.

Because: me.

I debated pulling over and parking until the car passed, but opted for pulling into the right lane, forcing them alongside me at the next light.

Sure enough, cop.

I just can’t catch a break. A small-dicked, gun toting hothead that was angry over my earlier lane change would have really done wonders for my retirement planning.

Anyway.

I smize (smile with my eyes) knowingly over my mask at him and he nods at me from behind his own mask, making what I thought was a vague hand gesture. I drop my mask to one ear and give him a palms up. He does the same, repeating his confusing hand gesture.

I roll down my window and he does the same. I resist saying “Occifer” by way of greeting-slash-demanding-an-explanation, because I have a bare minimum of maturity.

He asks if I’m doing ok and I assure him I’m fine, just got lost in the traffic pattern change. Of course, he has to be one of those cute bastard cops instead of one of those stereotypical fat, doughnut aficionado bastard cops.

This is still my life we’re talking about, after all.

“You gonna be able to get home ok?” I know he’s inferring I’m driving drunk versus offering to accompany me home. I take my Lyft light off the dash and flash it at him replying that I’m trying to make sure everyone else gets home ok. Then we both head off once the light changes.

Nothing I appreciate more than consistency. Sadly, this is not an example of that. I mean, seriously, in the course of an hour I go from watching someone careen across three lanes of light traffic in 100 feet, slamming on their brakes in the process and cutting off a cop; to white cis-male me, changing lanes without signaling and barely avoiding a traffic stop in the process.

The original cops were partnered up and looking bored, but continued straight ahead after the other driver turned in front of them. I get followed for five blocks before manipulating my more curious but still apathetic cop into a confrontation.

Ugh.

Ugh.

But the biggest “ugh” isn’t the inconsistent inquisitiveness or traffic violation follow through. No, it’s the certainty that I was absolutely profiled by my cop and that affected how I wasn’t pulled over.

Those original cops were just apathetic. Either not even aware enough to have witnessed the violation or just didn’t care enough to be bothered by it.

To be honest, they bothered me more than the (perhaps only situationally) short-willied driver they ended up narrowly avoiding rear-ending.

But I don’t for a second doubt that if I’d been cruising in a hooptie instead of in Angela, I would have been pulled over and most likely hauled in for my moving violation – at best.

So, while I firmly resent the pigmentally-challenged Al group that I fall into, I don’t for a second take it for granted. As a matter of fact, I resent the cop who let me off with a “warning” almost as much as I do the apathetic cops who are just cruising their way to a fat PERS retirement payout for 25 years of doing a shitty job.

Neither is doing society any favors. Because I know that if these cops had been in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on May 25th, 2020…their behaviors would have been as derelict in their duty as those cops standing by watching George Floyd die instead of tasering Derek Chauvin’s cracker ass.

This little slice of life bullshit cop behavior that I witnessed over the course of barely an hour perfectly highlights the injustice Blacks and other minorities experience at the hands of the cops. I don’t deny that lane changing without signaling is not our society’s most pressing issue…but in this instance, it’s an example of greater issues. Knowing Black peoples have died at the hands of the police for far lesser infractions makes me mad. Not because I want a ticket, for sure. But I’d like to live in a society where everyone received the same grace as I do. Or the same latitude those punk kids cruising in the rice rocket daddy bought them – undoubtedly for some inane high school sports accomplishment – received.

Until that happens consistently versus haphazardly and likely as a product of not profiling…I’m not gonna be happy being any version of an Al.

Because, while I am bothered by the professional inconsistencies I see and experience from cops, I know it’s nothing compared to the potentially life ending things experienced at the hands of cops by BIPOC folk.

And that really bothers me because it’s just wrong. That should bother everyone. Despite what my mother tells me, I’m not special. If I can see this inequity, then anyone and everyone should be able to.

It’s enough to make me wonder if people would rather just not see it…

Paul Simon May Want To Rethink A Thing Or Two

RIP: The Middle Ground

Y’know, for too brief a fleeting moment, I had some hope.

For democracy in America.

Hell, just for regular old, garden variety people in America.

I’ll wait while you gather yourselves together and pick your jaws up off the floor at my rampant optimism.

Don’t worry. It’s gone. As I sit here at the beer garden in front of my local – the Big Legrowlski – in the middle of what used to be a street called Couch, sipping a pint of the good stuff and being buzzed by what I surmise are a pair of albino gnats…it’s gone.

Dead.

(My thumb is making this Jackie Treehorn inspired glass PG)

Sadly, even in a year as dramatic and as filled with soapy plot twists as 2020, I’m not sure it’s coming back to life. Unlike Marlena Brady, I think that my hope for the middle ground in America is staying dead.

I was embarrassed after last Tuesday’s presidential debate.

As a Democrat.

As an American.

And even as an adult.

Overall, I was glad that Biden called out Trunt‘s bully behaviors and went so far as to tell him to shut up.

Hilary certainly could not have walked away from such a statement without being disqualified as a serious candidate and having her gender weaponized against her. But watching Trump use those same childish and distracting tactics in the 2020 debate that he did throughout his 2016 campaign made me wonder if democracy in America is merely a matter of he who shouts loudest, wins.

It’s hardly been a matter of statesmanship these last years.

While the debate was embarrassing and hard to watch, I walked away thinking that even with as little substantive dialogue as the debate served up, Biden was the clear winner simply for not being the biggest imbecile on stage.

It’s a low bar, to be sure. But Stupid Americans love their low bars.

Personally, I prefer lowbrow bars…but that’s every other day in my life. Today is about setting a better bar.

Then I remembered that these same Stupid Americans would be Trump’s base and that critical thinking and analytical skills don’t really mesh well with giant pick ups, gun racks and white supremacy.

Secretly – fearfully – I still look at polling returns with a degree of dubious optimism. A 14 point lead in the polls is nothing to sneeze at.

Still.

As recently as last night, I had some active hope. Hope that was eroding but at least wasn’t at imminent risk of being abducted by a local madman, possessed by the devil, marrying an unknown sibling or ending up stranded on a desert island after going down in a small plane into shark infested waters.

But that’s closer to the surreality that is American politics in 2020 than the poise and demeanor present in American politics prior to Donald J Trump bumbling into the DC swamp. Remember, that’s coming from a Portland native, and my town has a living former mayor who was famous for this before entering politics:

So I know something about non-traditional candidates, shall we say?

Here’s where my hope flashed bright before ultimately getting its last rites.

Of course it was from a passenger – gotta love the Lyft Life! And I swear, I don’t know why people vomit this shit out in my presence…well, maybe I could come up with something if I drank about it overanalyzed it long enough.

Don’t get me wrong, I love railing against the state of Portland and America with my mostly liberal townsfolk cum passengers. Making a left leaning statement in Angela in Portland is practically guaranteed to be met with an echo chamber response. If it’s not, those aligned with the erroneously named right wing know enough in this town to not wait for Biden to advise-slash-implore them to do the <ahem> right thing. But I usually start off with innocuous Joey-fare versus dousing my passengers with a cauldron of intelligent political observational conversational content.

Last week, after picking up a guy at a bar on the Columbia River – and, sadly, this is my only opportunity to pick up guys at bars these days – that answer was:

Drunk!

That ride devolved into a back seat monologue about COVID being a hoax, a guarantee that come mid-November no one would be wearing masks and the old chestnut that only 6% of reported COVID deaths were actually from COVID and not underlying conditions.

I’m giving you a fair warning that I expect a pat on the back for my actual response:

The people who died from COVID *had* underlying conditions, they weren’t actively dying from those conditions, that’s why they are called co-morbidities and not Causes of Death.

What I didn’t add as I assessed my booze filled passenger in my rear view was:

Obesity is a co-morbidity you fat, stupid fuck.

Which is where that pat on the back was earned.

Seriously, this guy was 375 pounds of Captain Oblivious.

But he tipped the tipping scales with a nice fat one, even though I’m not sure that wasn’t just inebriation versus political contrition.

My hope collapsed like a Brad Pitt built house in New Orleans last night after picking up a guy at his work last night at about 11. I started off innocuously enough with:

My mom worked at that Freddy’s for several years.

I could have gone with something like “I lived right down the road from here growing up”, but chose the work connection. Also, I’m not entirely sure I’d call the present day incarnation of me “grown up”. Maybe groan up…

How that veered into him admitting he’s a Republican, I dunno. I do know, however, that his conversational blowout included him saying, “I understand a lot of the Democratic values like healthcare and living wages”. I sincerely praised him for being able to look past the labels and appreciate the good intent behind those values, regardless of political labels.

Seriously, I was buoyed by his perspective. It didn’t hurt that he said he despised Trump. Then he admitted he hadn’t voted in 2016 because of that. When I probed – shut up, Diezel – he said he just hated Hilary.

That’s where his blowout of a conversation veered off the road and dangerously into a tree that I’d call Chappaquiddick territory. Talk about political appropriation!

I’m not gonna lie, I told him – respectfully – that was both sexist and irresponsible.

He listened, though, as I went on to say that voting isn’t just a right, it’s a civic responsibility. It’s not Prom Queen, our job as voting age Americans isn’t to pick the candidate we like most, it’s to pick the candidate best suited to do the job.

If you want to vote for who reflects your values, do it on the local level…maybe that’s why there are more Representatives than Senators? To make sure each citizen of every state has a chance to connect personally on a political level. The President, though? He’s our Commander in Chief, sure, but he’s also our Diplomat in Chief. He – fuck, they – are our face to the world. Expecting them to mirror your personal values is literally a 1:330 million improbability chance.

That’s not a realistic expectation to place on one person. And sadly, with the obsolescence of the old political chestnut “There’s more that unites us than divides us”, it looks like realism in politics is going or has gone the way of the Dodo.

Ask me in 28 days.

As for last night?

As my passenger exited the car over the sound of someone figuratively hammering nails into a coffin, I reminded him that there’s three ways to vote for Trump:

  1. Vote for Trump
  2. Don’t vote
  3. Vote for a third party or write-in
  • And then said, “Vote for Biden, I won’t tell…and he might die or retire. Then we get a young President Harris that would more accurately represent the majority of the non-Boomer Americans like you and I!”
  • Oh, don’t even get me started on her. I like Biden way better than her!

  • Ok, well, that position made zero sense. It was like common sense dressed up as a nun for Halloween and said it was Nun Sense.
  • But as I drove away I had two thoughts:
  • First, that that was exactly why my hope for The Middle Ground was dying. We’d just had a 15 minute conversation about doing the right versus ideological thing and that was his parting shot. He hit the bullseye on the “missed the point” target.
  • Second, I made a winning wager with myself that he wouldn’t have the drunken shame of Fat Fucker to overtip. Being stupid is bad enough. Being stupid and cheap is quite another.
  • Then again, I type that on the heels of a headline about Trump walking away from stimulus talks until after the election – talk about holding a country hostage over a narrow purview…but I guess last night’s Republican learned it from the top.
  • Can the meteor hit Earth now, please?
  • RIP: The Middle Ground

    Dry…Month?!?

    Could be. Now that I’ve found this lil secret weapon:

    But first, the back story!

    As we emerged from August, smoldering from yet another dumpster fire of a month in 2020, it occurred to me that I could only recall one night since March 18th that I didn’t drink.

    Now, does that mean there aren’t more?

    No.

    But realistically, I’d assume that I blacked out more memory in the last six months than my CRS caused me to forget – before you ask: Can’t Remember Shit.

    This is a frequent topic during my Lyft shyfts – how are you coping? Oddly enough, I give a lot of rides to people in the cannabis industry. About as many weed indy riders as strippers, to be honest. Besides essential hospital workers, these are Portland’s essential heroes.

    For what it’s worth, I think both represent great coping mechanisms. Well, one is a coping mechanism.

    So, these weedies – as I’ve just now decided to call them – often tip pre-rolls. That’s great and all, but I suck at smoking, so the last time I was offered one, I appreciatively declined. When I told her why, she got very excited and told me I had to try syrups.

    Sizzurp, in case you didn’t see that on the label pictured above.

    So I decided to check it out.

    This is about the time I started trundling running again – or what I’m calling running these days – and I thought intoxicating qualities aside, pain relief potential could also be a win.

    I wander into my local dispensary, Broadway Cannabis Collective – about which I’d gotten a hot tip from a passenger that this was the best shop in town, lucky me – and after waiting my socially distant turn, inquired. Meeting my randomly matched budtender at the cooler, she started in on a dizzying diatribe of information. This was after telling me they didn’t sell much from this cooler, so the info she had off the top of her head was…well, like I said – dizzying.

    But what jumped out at me was this line:

    These are the ones I’d go with, the small bottle is 125 and the large is 1000, so that’ll really last you!

    <record scratch>

    1000?!?

    I heard my grandpa in my head saying “I just wanted to get “x”, not buy the place”…but played it totally cool.

    No, really, totally cool.

    Like on a scale of 1 to shizzle, I was a fo‘.

    Wait, wait…don’t unsubscribe! I’m sorry! Hehe.

    As she continued on, recommending that I try a small bottle to see how I like it and casually flipping labels around to tell me about the profile of each flavor, I saw that the “125” bottle was only $15 and realized the 125 that she was referring to was milligrams of THC.

    Glad I played it cool.

    Realizing my mistaken assumption, I chose the 1000 milligram bottle, whose dose was one teaspoon. That meant the bottle had 24 doses and I’d just bought two 12-packs of La Croix, so I figured it was meant to be and that I was set for a couple weeks.

    You might want to start with a half dose until you know how it hits you.

    My budtender suggested.

    Ok, so I’m set for a month!

    And let me tell you, a half teaspoon sets me up just right! After my evening concoctions the first two nights, I slept over 10 hours both nights.

    I’m so fucking rested, I feel guilty.

    On the third morning, I woke up feeling exceptional – having neither imbibed alcohol or sizzurp the night before. Stretching, my hands ending up moving from akimbo over my head to stretched towards my toes and then resting on my abdomen – or where my abdomen would be if not for the shed I’ve build over my tool…I realized something was missing. Or at least significantly reduced.

    After just three days with no booze.

    I’m so mad weed was villianized when I was a kid.

    And while my shed may be shrinking, my wallet is breathing a sigh of relief. I can get a 6-pack of a great IPA for $8-12 bucks. That’s a steal compared to $6 + tip at a bar, for sure. It cannot compare to about $1.25 for a half-dose of this sizzurp, though. I’m a convert, mind you, I am typing this post at the oldest bar in Portland…no need to overdo it, right?

    Call it a dryish month.

    Dry…Month?!?

    What Year Is It?

    If I can paraphrase the prophet, Morris Day…

    Who, by the way, played a house party gig at the frat that tried to recruit me into their coven house in college.

    Pike for life!

    Anyway, 2020 has been a hell of a decade…so far.

    I believe it’s day 11 of smokepocalypse (credit to The Kids for bringing that moniker to life) and to be honest, the last 11 days feels longer than the last 6 months.

    I can’t see the sun.

    One day, things look like they are improving to merely unhealthy air quality, the next we’re bitch slapped back into hazardous air quality by a Mother Nature who seems quite clearly to have had enough of our shenanigans. On the third day of smokepocalypse, the day the high east winds stopped, there was blue sky over Portland. For whatever reason, the smoke bank was cleaved in two and sat over Salem and Vantucky. It was like that for two days, both ended with the smoke rolling back in as dusk fell.

    On the third day – day 5 of smokepocalypse – the smoke bank stayed and hadn’t left since.

    During the pandemic lockdown, I was able to escape my daily detente with Myrtle by hitting the road for 10 rides and a few hours. As lockdown wore on, those 10 would become 15 and then 20 and once even 30 as people ventured out on missions of essential work or restocking.

    Sidebar: I’m finally down to my last roll of crapping paper – having split a Costco pack with the Silver Fox back around December ’19…if you ever wonder why I seem full of crap, apparently it’s because I pace myself?

    Anyway, I’ve discovered something that will finally get people to obey Stay Home orders – and even mask directives, for the most part – over the last 11 days: living in the city with the worst air quality on the planet. Seriously, I celebrated having an AQI under 300 yesterday – normal is <50 – only to have it rocket back up to the high 300s after dark.

    It’s too bad, though, this sudden willingness of people to stay home. Not only has my escape from solitude disappeared. No longer can I escape to my strictly social, non-alcoholic happy hour in my car. These days, going out means as long as 20 minutes between rides…and I’m lucky to get 5 before my eyes burn from the smoke entering the car as people get in and out.

    On top of that, the trips are short! Like, “I’m so glad you’re driving so I didn’t have to walk (3 blocks) in this” short. While I’m glad they don’t have to walk in this either, those bitches and bastards and whatever similar label is appropriate for non-binary folx that resent heteronormative labels could bother to tip.

    I mean, if they really did appreciate my effort. I’m not filling the tank with a half dozen minimum fare rides. I didn’t expect tips when I started driving, but now they motivate me by representing a real-time report card on my efforts. There’s a star rating – that I’ve managed to maintain at a 5-star level over my ~2300 rides.

    However, since it defaults to 5-star if the rider doesn’t specifically override it, I don’t consider this much of a barometer. So I gauge my performance off of the percentage of riders who tip. 50% is what I call “needs improvement” and normal for me is around 65%.

    Sadly, there have been too many days like this

    Thank the Lyft Lords for that Lux ride, but do much for that 10:05 ride. I never mind picking up peeps at strip clubs – although, I find the performers to be far better company than the clientele – except when it’s a 35 minute closing-time ride with a woman hating Eastern European woman hating man. That $5 tip was not enough to unhear the crap he spewed.

    Ugh.

    But, in his defense, he was one of two tippers that night. Overall for the day, less than one-third…if I bend over backward far enough, I can convince myself that tip levels like that are a micro-factor of the overall economy.

    It’s easy enough to believe. Shit is pretty bad in a service industry town like Portland these days.

    Which could also be a factor in why people are staying home – smoke or no.

    Fortunately for the sake of my (in)sanity, I’ve mentally edited a couple of writing projects I’ve been working on. Meaning, I haven’t actually done anything.

    But I’ve also indulged in some creative problem solving. Here’s my prevailing theoretical solution for Portland’s smoke problem – since the weather people can’t seem to conjure any rain:

    The 2020 Proud Boy of the Year Awards

    Yes, it’s still 2020.

    Think of it, this faux ceremony could draw even the Grand Dragon in Chief himself! Something like this is about the only way to lure Trunt to liberal Portland.

    Because of the numbers I expect, we would need to hold this outside, even though that skirts dangerously close to following guidelines for larger gatherings. Maybe the event could take place at Waterfront Park. I know the Proud Boys like to hang out there…at least when liberal groups announce they are holding a rally there.

    Note to self: get BLM supporters to volunteer as ushers.

    Of course, no masks would be expected. Not wearing them would be encouraged.

    And that’s the brilliant part! These stupid mouth breathing lame-o-sapiens Americanus would filter the smoke out of the air while hate screaming their assundry – is that not a word? – and mind boggling mantras.

    Then they would all go home and die of emphysema or asthma or whatever lung related terminal malady you prefer. Rasping with their last death rattled breath,

    See? I told you COVID was a hoax!

    Poof.

    Clean air in Portland once again and fewer harmful minds reproducing and replicating their ignorance just because unrestricted coitus is their right.

    Damnit.

    So, yeah…how are you passing time in the smokepocalypse?

    What Year Is It?

    Soul? Oh!

    This is something I’ve been kicking around for close to a year now. I’ve got a draft from last December called Un-Civil War that I just can’t quite get right.

    So there it sits. This draft. But the notion keeps coming back to me more like a ghost haunting me than the orphan attempting to find a home or get the attention it needs.

    Last week, though, it settled into my consciousness and caused me to be aware of the same old things differently. I noticed things that had been sticking out, but felt understanding beginning to crystallize.

    I think it was watching Biden’s acceptance speech for the nomination as the party’s candidate for president that did it. In it, he talked about how this election is a battle for the soul of our democracy.

    Since then, I’ve been seeing Trump supporters differently.

    • The random oversized pickup truck driving around downtown with Proud Boy flags flying off its bed.
    • The lady in Vantucky driving along in the car by herself with the WWG1WGA bumper sticker. That stands for the QAnon tag line “Where We Go One, We Go All”.
    • The people on social media decrying the destruction of “their city” from the protests, without realizing all that’s wrong with that mindset – even though many of them still count themselves as democrats.
    • The old bastard on the hill in Oregon City crazily waving his Trump flag and holding a small sign that asked who Jesus would vote for.
    • The pickup with the “88” window sticker. H is the eighth letter of the alphabet. That’s a White Supremacist symbol, seen also in tattoo form on too many prisoners. 88 = HH = Heil Hitler.
    • The guy in Clackatraz driving around with his convertible top down, holding a pole with the “Trump 2020” campaign flag flying – by far the most representative example of Trump supporters’ IQ. Cumulatively, I doubt they could post an IQ high enough to get MENSA’s attention.
    • Or the family of three – a man, his wife and their not-old-enough-to-vote daughter holding Trump signs and the Blue Line American flag supporting the police.
  • Usually, I give these demonstrators a “thumbs down” gesture and just go about my business, feeling low-grade intimidated nonetheless. Since seeing Biden’s speech and having his question percolate, I’ve realized something different may very well be at play here.
  • These Trump supporters are sad and lonely people. Orphans from modern American ideals who are screaming for any attention they can get themselves. Not realizing that any group that needs coded language like WWG1WGA or 88 to signal others like them probably aren’t worth belonging to. They certainly don’t have a message they can be proud of if they have to hide it.
  • These sad individuals – driving around alone in their cars or standing alone or only with their family-slash-hostages – stand in stark contrast to the other groups I see around town. The groups that make me proud of my town and my race. Whose actions signal redemption for the values of our country versus coded subversion of those values and subjugation of other races and genders than their own.
  • Not the hundreds to thousands of protesters downtown demanding police reform and an end to systemic racism in America – and after last night’s police shooting, I’m guessing it will once again be 1000s, not 100s.
  • No, the people making me hopeful are the neighborhood and school and professional groups that have organized to remind passers by that Black Lives Matter. Seeing neighbors coming together in numbers large enough to crowd all four corners of a city intersection, or line both sides of a suburban highway for a hundred feet is, I hope telling of the results we’ll see in November. Watching someone deliver and start to set up a tent for shade on our recent 100 degree days while someone else hands out water reminds me of the compassion liberals are able to demonstrate for others. And, yeah, watching the Riot Ribs guys cooking in the park across from the Justice Center during the day, when the only people I see them feeding appear to be homeless also makes me feel that same thing…but the randomness of the former example reinforces the best notions of what conservatives condemn as bleeding heart liberals.
  • I’ll take those small reminders, because stacked up next to what the opposition can muster, they’re far more impactful by comparison.
  • As a matter of fact, the largest group of Trump supporters that I’ve seen doing similar messaging isn’t half the size of the smallest BLM group I’ve seen, reinforcing the realization that these fringe groups and Trump supporters are indeed lonely.
  • Which is why they brought guns and mace to Saturday’s counter protests in Portland while the people there calling for reform and justice brought umbrellas and signs. Just like a message that needs to be coded, a message that needs guns to be valid is probably – or at least obviously should be – self-indicting.
  • I’ll still feel intimidated when I see these Trump supporters out and about, but I’m happy to feel something else stirring now: pity. Because while the people with the right idea have lots of company in this battle for democracy’s soul, the opposition is usually fighting solo in their pursuit to spread its soulless message.
  • Soul? Oh!