Hey, Hippocrates

Well, I’m sure he never foresaw a future of social media connecting us all. If he had, do you think he would have weighed in?

Instead of “First, do no harm” do you think we would have gotten something like

First, educate thine dumb ass

I thought about sprinkling in a few literallys and figurativelys to that fake quote, but there’s already enough confusion in the world.

Case in point, I’m just wrapping up a 24 hour Facebook detox, and considering another 24 hours.

The impetus?

Not one, but two lengthy comment-versations with a former co-worker about posts they made about both COVID-19 and the economic stimulus package that was working its way through Congress. The biggest challenge here has been weighing my natural desire to “get the last word” versus attempting to help her – I knew I’d blow the gender neutral identity thing sooner or later, so I just abandoned it – understand how dangerous it is to spread inaccurate information.

Fortunately, her friends and followers were there to jump in and start calling me names in order to provide a perfect (and perfectly missed) illustration of my point.

One of the points I took issue with was her assertion that the economic bailout was going to provide $750B in aid to some industry – airline or auto is what’s coming to mind, and I really think it was airlines…but I am still restricting myself access to FB so I can’t verify – on top of their prior and unpaid bailout of…$750B from the 2008 economic crisis.

I mean, you see why I have a problem with this, right?

Just to be clear, I’m not out to call anyone stupid. My point has been to share my knowledge and reason with others. Maybe (definitely) I’m not 💯 right 💯 percent of the time, but I try to live up to my friend BreitBarb’s point that we’re all entitled to our “informed opinion”, particularly when it comes to important things like health and welfare.

Or the politicization of either.

Here’s the deal, even with generous up or down rounding, $750 billion just isn’t an historic bailout number. The closest I can come is the 2008 financial sector bailout. But that was ~$810B all tolled.

Sidebar: Told?

I dunno, I think the most recent information I have seen on that expression came down on the “told” side, but I’m talking math, so “tolled” as a synonym for “tallied” makes sense.

This data is all from doing research I told her I wasn’t going to do because my point wasn’t me being right, it was her being inaccurate. The closest I came before shutting down my FB and walking away was just offering the potential that she had meant millions instead of billions.

But since I wasn’t killing my quaran-time on the Facebook, I started thinking about writing projects and ended up here. Obviously, this is merely a procrastination technique to avoid working on my non-fiction project that needs editing. Still, my blog also provides a type of therapy, so at least it’s partially productive procrastination.

Here’s what I found – and I really kind of focused on airlines, so…allow me that and bear with me.

20-Now

2001

Obviously, neither equals $750 billion by a long fucking shot. That 2001 airline bailout was even adjusted to 2008 dollars, which is when the article was published.

Key point: the source of the 2001 bailout was ProPublica – which is decidedly not Fox News or FB click-bait, so definitely not a valid source of information as far as my friend is concerned.

Basically, in addition to spreading unverified inaccurate information, my former colleague is also unwilling to retract or delete this info. Her best concession basically amounted to a “Yeah, but…” and what we really don’t need while were fighting a virus on a national level is to simultaneously be fighting a case of the yeahbuts.

Interestingly, my reason for clicking on her thread was because – knowing her political leaning – I really wanted to know where she came down on the bailout versus my own thoughts. I just never expected her to add in such wrongness voluntarily.

My issue with the bailout had been how it seemed unfairly weighted in favor of big business over small. As a Portlander, I value my community’s small businesses that help maintain the quirky Portland vibe. Saving them is my focus, so seeing big biz allocated $500B (see? still not $750B) in this package and small biz only allocated $350B seemed unfair. Particularly after the big biz bailout in 2008.

She never really addressed that opinion of mine. She was very busy agreeing that yes, small business needs help but then moved on to how big business – airline or automotive – never paid paid back the 2008 bailout, Obama ruined the healthcare options her special needs son had available to him and that student loan debt should never be forgiven. With nothing but vitriol to support her rant.

I don’t know much about big business not paying their prior stimulus packages back – I actually thought they were pretty good about that, but that’s just a recollection – but I did point out that paid back or not, having used so much of their profits on stock buybacks in the past years de-merited their request for aid now and should move small business to the top of the bailout priority heap. If big business had saved the profits they reinvested in their own stock for a rainy day, maybe they wouldn’t need so much assistance now.

I’m betting that buyback strategy helped minimize their tax burden, but I’m not googling that, so take it as an opinion only. Still, Bloomberg said…

I left the thread thinking that for the day, we’d managed to agree on two things she posted and wildly disagree on two others. But those two things we agreed on were inconsequential topics, like “water is wet”. My other thought was my complete understanding as to why she thinks college debt is unworthy of bailout or forgiveness.

She as much as said that people with degrees go on to earn a bunch of money so they could pay their damn bills. Which is interesting given her qualified support of bailing out big business.

My counterpoint was to concede that I partially understood where she was coming from in regards to student loan debt. However, not all degree program careers have the financial return she was projecting upon them.

My example: teachers.

I’d have thought that – having a special needs son – she would agree with the low pay teachers suffer through after taking on not only Bachelor level degree debt, but in many cases advanced degrees in order to specialize in fields like special needs.

Nah.

After all, if you allow your position to show cracks in its foundation, it’s as good as being wrong. Then the liberals win. Because that’s – I gather – how irrational thinking versus critical thinking works.

Because: game, set and match! Because, because, because!

All the while, I’m thinking I should just unfriend her. Arguing with myself about it, actually. But she’s not a bad person. Quite the opposite. She’s quite nice. Just culturally trained to support dogma instead of disposed – through education in disciplines like science and math – to think critically about information she’s presented and arrive at that informed opinion BreitBarb champions.

Flash backward a couple of days to me in isolation watching Instagram stories. A local business owner – and I’m sure in his own mind, influencer – had posted a story about he and his wife taking an outing for grocery supplies.

This was after a story featuring his dog in a diaper running around awkwardly, captioned with an equally awkward “someone’s first period”. Ok, a) probably get your damn dog fixed; and b) if you’re a man, maybe err on the side of never discussing a woman’s reproductive issue publicly. I mean, would you put your daughter’s first period on blast like that?

But, back to grocery shopping!

What could possibly go wrong there, right?

I mean, seriously…not much. Supportive of communicating best practices here in the quaran-times, I am.

My opinion is two-fold: the first is snarky historical Xtopher-ness. Twenty or so years back, even before anti-vaxxers, I posited that hand sanitizer was taking the place of hand washing and shouldn’t. I also tossed out how too much use of hand sanitizer would probably just erode our body’s natural process of developing immunities naturally.

Not that I’m saying this situation would have been prevented. I’m just qualifying – or indicting – my own stance on potentially overcorrecting behaviors.

Case in point:

I watched a clip of he and his wife entering the store with handiwipes and gloves.

I saw a video of them arriving home and setting up a decon area on their back porch. That everything in packages should be wiped down with bleach outside before being tossed inside to the clean area.

Having a “clean hand” and a “dirty hand” for unpacking and handling the groceries once the decon area is established. If you cook, think of how you dredge things before frying them: wet hand, dry hand. If you don’t cook, you’re probably going to die of starvation or malnutrition anyway, so…

I saw them take off their outside shoes before entering the house.

They talked about washing veggies.

I mean, top level…not bad information. My inner-germaphobe appreciated that they were trying to spread good knowledge.

Then my inner germaphobe got into a fight with my recreational hypochondriac.

What about their outside clothes? Can’t germs live on clothes as easily as the bottom of a shoe?

I mean, I’m a little germaphobic, but I still wear my shoes inside. Hell, I’m even laying down on the all weather carpet in my building’s hallway to do crunches during my isolation workouts – I don’t post them on Instagram, but I’m still doing them! – so this shoes off/clothes off/shower germs off approach to leaving and re-entering ones home is overkill unless you’re coming from a hospital.

In.

My.

Non-expert.

Opinion.

That controversy aside, I worried when I saw him demonstrate bringing things into the house that have inner packages.

Think boxes of microwave popcorn.

He specifically mentioned this separate from his “wipe everything down outside” segment because the inner packaging hadn’t been exposed to any contaminants recently. Sure, maybe a worker in the plant it was packaged in had been exposed and/or symptomatic, but that was long enough ago to safely assume any virus in it would now be dead. His videos were to combat bringing live outside germs inside due to recent handling by other potential carriers-slash-shoppers.

Ok. Sure.

Back to inner packages.

We’re going to take them out of the exterior packaging, leave the outer packaging outside and bring the safe, germ-free-ish inner packages into our kitchen.

I’m onboard with what he’s saying.

Not, however, with what he’s doing.

I watch him reach outside and pick up the popcorn box from the decon area, open it and toss the three cello-wrapped snack bags onto his kitchen island.

Got it. Ok. Except

No gloves.

Not that gloves or not is the issue here. Try and open a box of microwave popcorn – while holding it – with one hand. He couldn’t. I watched him use both hands, and since he specifically said he wasn’t bleaching the outer package because he was leaving it outside, gloves or bare handed handling became moot. If he didn’t bleach the outer package, he transferred germs onto the inner package after handling the outer packaging with both hands.

Just kidding, but I think where this virus is concerned, we’re all wearing red shirts, IYGMD.

Regardless of my assumptions as to whether he really did wipe down the outer package before filming this segment or whether we’re assuming worst case scenario germs where none likely exist…the thing that worries me here is the assumption people like my Facebook friend will make.

That I saw it on the internet and therefore it’s a fact.

Do not pass Go, do not collect $200 and certainly do not employ any critical thinking to assess the factual-ness of what you just saw.

Plus, rules are for other people, I don’t have to wash my hands because my junk ain’t dirty because I showered today, I’m not sick so I can go outside or visit grandma since she’s lonely…

We aren’t all going to die.

But some of us will – a larger number than you or I are probably <cough,cough> Spanish Flu! <cough> willing to consider.

My only certainty in these uncertain times?

Stupid Americans notwithstanding: stupidity is a constant in the universe.

Stay inside, wash your hands and first, do no harm.

Hey, Hippocrates

Forget Winter

reality is coming.

I woke up at about 4:30 this morning, which is my old normal. Lately, though, I’ve been nailing the whole “sleep through the night” thing. As I tried to talk myself out of tossing and turning, hoping instead to just fall back asleep until my alarm went off when it was time to move my car, I let my mind wander:

  • I should get up and pee
  • There’s some really funny COVID memes going around right now
  • Maybe I should just go move my car now…
  • Is that cigarette smoke?
  • Maybe I should fast today
  • I can’t wait to take a shower, I feel really gross after not showering yesterd – oooh, maybe I should work on some Quarantine Dreads!
  • Where’s Myrtle?

I finally decided to get up and pee, turning on the light briefly to make sure Myrt hadn’t “mined” my route to the toilet with any little surprises.

All clear.

As I answered Nature’s call, I chuckled at the “told ya sos” my friends would give me for being awake at this hour. Yesterday evening I had posted a question to my Facebook peeps as to whether or not 6:20 was too early to turn in on a Saturday night. I’d had a full day of doing nothing* and thought maybe it was time to finish my wine, take a half a gummy and hit reset.

Reliably, my wise and enabling friends let me know it was ok to turn in early, while cautioning that I’d be awake at 2:00 if I did.

Well, surprise! Surprise! SURPRISE…I ended up staying up, having two more glasses of wine, forgoing the gummy and going to bed at 11:00. Hence, sleeping til 4:30 instead of 2:30.

Anyway, as I was washing my hands, I decided that it was cigarette smoke I’d been smelling and tried to suppress my frustration at people breaking our association rules, since it would only serve to further wake me up.

I failed.

I congratulated myself as I lay in bed seething – at least I hadn’t gone out onto my patio and glared around, looking for the smoker.

Instead, I was laying in bed wondering if this was it, now. Civilization’s collapse. At the end of one week of forced isolation, the community rulebook was essentially toilet paper.

Then I reminded myself that we hadn’t actually made it a full week before our selfish and entitled behaviors started seeping out. Not that they had very far to seep.

I mean, the hoarding that started a couple weeks back is a fine example of people’s selfishness.

The fact that we’ve spent the last two weeks educating stupid Americans adults on proper hand washing is, likewise, a fine example of how people believe “rules” are for other people.

But what stuck in my head was the fat fuck jogger I’d encountered the other day. I’d been doing my morning drive routine, feeling good that 80% of my riders had been healthcare professionals and that I’d helped return them to the front lines for the day. Suddenly, I was skidding to a halt in an intersection – don’t worry, mom, skidding was hyperbole…I’d only been going 20 MPH – to avoid hitting this jogger.

He had leapt from the sidewalk to the crosswalk without looking or even breaking his stride. I’d seen him on the far side of the side street sidewalk as I drove across the opposite crosswalk, entering the intersection. I had anticipated that with his slowing to look both ways before crossing the street when he reached the corner, that I’d likely be exiting the intersection by the time he was ready to cross.

Nope.

As if this fat fuck jogger was the last person on the planet, he just Usain Bolt-ed into the crosswalk. I was actually kind of surprised that he hadn’t collapsed onto the asphalt after shattering his tibia running off the curb like that…like I said, fat.

Anyway, I did what I think any reasonably nice driver would do as I slammed on my brakes – I gave him a palms up over my steering wheel. For his part, he gave me a single finger salute as he continued to try run at a pace suggesting he was urgently trying to catch the physique that had – at one time – fit into his running attire.

Good luck, pal. That fit body has quite a head start on fat you.

As I resumed my right of way, I thought to myself how odd it was that he’d gotten so out of shape and now he was expecting people to yield to his fitness pursuits. I mean, really…it’s not like a healthy body was just waiting for him on the other side of the crosswalk. He could certainly have waited his turn.

That thought was still percolating as I realized this yahoo had actually turned to run parallel to me so that he could continue flipping me off.

All while righteously not making eye contact with me. I’m pretty sure someone mathematically inclined could actually come up with a formula to quantify the inverse relationship of the level of wrong-ness an action was compared to the length of time one postured themselves as the wronged party afterward.

Suffice to say, this guy was still acting like the injured party a half block later. Maybe he’d been hoping I’d run him over and put him out of his misery and was mad that I’d managed to miss.

But thinking on my fat fuck jogger friend had led me back to my second seemingly random thought of the morning: COVID memes.

There’s some pretty amusing observational memes going around. Things like:

We’re only three weeks away from knowing everyone’s natural hair color.

Or these little gems:

There was one that I failed to grab and can’t find now that I’m bummed about. It was a split screen with a caption that said something like “Quarantine 2020” and the split was a before and after pic. The before was a Barbie doll, all glammed up and looking Barbie-sexy while the after pic was the same pic photoshopped with a little Jabba effect because with the gyms closed and social distancing being trendy, all the gays will do is sit at home and binge eat while binge-watching Real Housewives of Anywhere and RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Like I said, it was pretty funny, especially since it was from a gay meme account and you know what gym bunnies the 20-30 year old gays can be. I do appreciate self-aware humor.

Another that stuck with me was:

You know COVID-19 is serious when gay men start having sex with their boyfriends again.

That’s funny and sad at the same time. The important thing here is that – knowing my attitude regarding open relationships – I didn’t throw my phone when I saw that meme.

And because sometimes all you need for a funny moment is a good flipping of the script,

Because some of us lived through the 80s and 90s and are less shocked by the GOP’s shenanigans. Now we gays have loads of time on our hands to watch straight people react to the ongoing Trump administration nonsense, our only task: popping popcorn.

Anyhoo…before I knew it, my alarm was going off and it was time to go move my car onto the street. On Saturdays, I usually park in the lot down the block because there’s not a lot of demand on Lyft, so $7 for all day is a far better deal than $2/hour from 8:00 until I head out to drive in the evening. Since I was contemplating bed at 6-ish last night, having not even showered for the day yet, I didn’t drive.

Obviously.

And since street parking is free until 1:00 p.m. on Sundays, I’ll usually pay for a couple hours and then drive in the afternoon.

Anyway, I moved Angela out to the street, wondering if I was the only person in Portland still paying for parking.

Wondering if I was also wrong about the cigarette smoke after checking my weather app

And knowing that the potential fast was off after finding an energy drink and some pistachios tucked into the side pocket of Angela’s door. Also knowing Quarantine Dreads were off because I’m taking The ‘Phew to the airport this afternoon so he can fly home and see his parents, just to be sure we do our part for carrying Coronavirus from the city to rural Oregon. Hehe. But, yeah…I’ll have to shower for that.

Most rewarding, as I was exiting the building, some neighbor I’ve never seen before was exiting to walk a dog that I’ve also never seen before…smoking a fucking cigarette.

I coughed dramatically in the foyer after he didn’t hold the door for me and decided I was gonna tell on him. It’ll make me sound batshit crazy, too

Um, yeah. There’s a guy I’ve never seen before and I don’t know what unit he’s in, but he was smoking inside!

…but I’m not gonna let that stop me! There’s only 18 units in my building and less than half are occupied full time, I’m sure some industrious someone can figure it out.

Naturally, my morning ends with me coming back to my unit to Myrtle sitting in the bedroom door with an expression that said both, “Where have you been?” and

Someone shit on the floor.

at the same time.

Maybe I’ll let Myrtle fast today – or at least while I sip my energy drink…

*to be fair, I had done a mini workout at home and cleaned the condo…so the day wasn’t spent entirely in Sofa City.

Forget Winter

Due To Whelming Feedback…

…from yesterday’s post, I went out for a drive last night.

Mind you, the feedback was neither over nor underwhelming, simply whelming.

Of course, the universe didn’t let that stop it from being a rather me evening.

To wit – or, since it’s me – to halfwit.

There I was, minding my own biznatch…watching my eighth or thirtieth consecutive episode of Star Trek Voyager of the day, and suddenly MomDonna chimes in cryptically via text.

I love how she just starts her text in the middle of the conversation. Hehe. I think that conversational familiarity is a hallmark of any good relationship, so I definitely count it as a blessing that I have that shorthand with my parents.

And like any good slacker son, since mom said, I did.

Did, in this instance meaning, I turned on my Postmates app while continuing to watch Voyager and simultaneously playing Words With Friends.

I’m sitting there looking for a place to play aioli and seriously within a minute I get an order. So I go.

Yes, I placed my word first…isolation priorities.

I walk the two blocks to the lot I’d parked in after my depressive two hour/three ride Monday morning drive efforts – I literally made enough to cover parking for the day – and realized the pick up was from the just the around the corner Italian joint. I coast over, park illegally and try to go inside.

The door was blocked by two septuagenarians waiting for a table. And the place is packed!

I immediately start to feel a scratchy throat coming on as I wait. Recreational hypochondria is an unsung hobby of mine, just behind “growing hair” but before “growing hair in weird places” on my free time to do list.

“This is how we all die”, I think, “these idiots.”

Mind you, I’m out picking up food for people, but:

  1. I was expecting that restaurants would be deserted on the night before the dine-in embargo became official. Look at me, with my uncommon sense. And;
  2. My mom told me to do it. What’s their excuse?!?
  • I drive my order from the NW quadrant over to NoPo – North Portland, our city’s fifth quadrant – and drop it off. With no other deliveries stacked up, I sit in Angela for a minute trying to decide what to do. Normally, I’d point my car toward home and then take orders if they came and quit when I got home if they didn’t.
  • Extraordinary circumstances, though.
  • Plus, I had been to the Silver Fox’s that afternoon and while there, peeked into his fridge. I’ve dubbed myself his real-life Kramer, so I feel it’s incumbent upon me to be weird and help myself to his food when he’s not around.
  • He’d abandoned me yesterday to keep his ex-wife company during her self-imposed isolation, so I figured liberating a kombucha from his fridge was the least I could do.
  • Empty.
  • Seriously, there was like a container of oat milk. I’d rather die than drink that before it’s 15 minutes of fame were up. Adding insult to injury, his ex’s grand nephew popped in to spend his spring break with them since Canada is closed…meaning I’ll probably not see The Fox again until it’s time to pull his plug.
  • Also meaning that I had to text him my disappointment at the fridge situation.
  • Knowing how to truly wound me, he replied that there were some frozen meatless burger patties in the freezer I was welcome to.
  • This is why we’re friends.
  • Anyway, apocalypse being now, I decided I best head to Gross Out for some frozen broccoli. If this outbreak kills me, I’d like my corpse to weigh a few pounds less than my live body does currently. If it doesn’t kill me, welp…Pride is in June, so I’ll exit forced isolation ahead of the game, eh?
  • I turn on my Lyft app to ensure I have every shot possible at scrapping a nutritious diet for pizza delivery, thinking there’s no way I won’t get distracted by one of the two apps before I get to the NE quadrant.
  • I get there. Who knew?
  • I go in and grab a couple salad kits then head to the frozen food coolers for my broccoli. They were sold out. The only thing left was albino broccoli.
  • I think I probably have something from Penzey’s that can make it palatable, but head over to the wine department, just in case.
  • I check out and get back to Angela, turning my apps back on for the potential ride home. Before I even push “start”, I have a delivery.
  • Sheesh.
  • I look at the nav…right across the street.
  • Woooow.
  • Apps are cool.
  • I pick up some guy’s dinner – a grocery bag full of Korean BBQ – and head off toward NE 60th & Couch.
  • Sidebar: You pronounced that wrong – it sounds like “cooch” here. But just the street, not the furniture.
  • So, there I am…sitting at NE 60th & – say it with me – Couch at 730 PM. I need to go home and feed Myrt the Murderous soon. She had a late snack, so I’m not feeling terribly guilty.

    Still, soon.

    But at the same time, I’m 80-ish blocks from home and would feel guilty just driving there straightaway. On the other hand, my caving to peer and mom pressure to get out and try some deliveries has netted me $7. Actually, after groceries, my net is -$25.

    This is why I don’t put a ton of effort into Postmates as anything other than a cure for boredom. Delivering two meals and earning $7 is way better than the alternative: drinking two $7 beers.

    Sure.

    Fine.

    Apps on, I point Angela toward the South Water Front and Oregon Health Sciences Hospital campus, thinking I might catch a shift change ride.

    I don’t.

    But as I’m weaving around the labyrinthine streets of SW Portland, I get a call up to the main campus on top of Marquam Hill. Technically, first I got a Lux ride that was 14 minutes away that canceled 90 seconds later. Seriously, that was a bummer because it was far enough out in SE that I’d probably have earned $40 on that ride, but if the passenger was gonna spend $60+ on a ride, they probably didn’t want to wait 15 minutes for it. Still, they couldn’t wait another 30 seconds and slide a $10 cancellation fee my way? Hehe.

    Ok, anyway.

    Then I got an order, then 30 seconds later I got the OHSU ride. I cancel the order – wondering what karmic shenanigans I’ve signed up for in doing so – and head up to OHSU.

    I drop the ICU nurse I pick up off at a Safeway in NE so she can do some shopping before heading home. This woman has some logic long game – she knew at 6 AM that she’d want to shop after work and parked accordingly. I pull out of the parking lot and am going around the block of one-way streets so I can head home.

    Another ride.

    Three blocks away.

    Seriously…this kind of takes some of the sting out of the Lux ride that canceled on me. But only just. I made $20 on Sunday – plus $5 off a delivery order – none of which tipped. My Monday drives had doubled those earnings, but I’d usually earn over twice that before the world slowly began ending, so I was pretty disheartened that Lux ride hadn’t happened to true me somewhat up.

    Alas.

    What ended up being my last ride took me to SE again, around 33rd, putting me a ways away from home. But I’d gotten a self proclaimed introvert to talk, so I was feeling pretty good as I pointed the car toward home once again.

    I actually made it home.

    However, since it was now 830 and the chatty introvert was the only tipper out of four “customers”, I wasn’t disappointed to call it a night.

    I had some dinner wine and went to bed so that I could wake up at 6 today and give it another go. I made about 30% more on my morning commute rides today – again, one tipper…disappointing trend – which put me at about 50% of my normal morning earnings. Enough to park Angela for the day and buy myself a coffee. To go, natch. But I got home to a push from Postmates telling me one of last night’s deliveries had tipped me $7.50, doubling my actual delivery earnings for the evening. Still not super impressed with the Income Potential from Postmates, but to MomDonna’s point, it got me out of the house.

    Plus, turns out Voyager wasn’t yanked from Netflix overnight, so I really didn’t miss anything.

    And that’s my last 36 hours of social-distance-slash-forced-isolation…one footnote to yesterday’s post, my first ride today – a nurse – demonstrated to me exactly how the US extincts itself.

    I drive in the mornings for the scratch, sure. Until the lottery decides to cooperate, anyway…But in these low earning days, I’d rather stay in bed. It’s being so close to so many (non-tipping, but still) medical professionals who Lyft to work since there’s no parking for them on campus that gets me up. Getting medical professionals to work these days is a reward that’s greater than the paycheck or non-existent tip.

    Seriously, one OHSU worker has tipped me in 9 months. And the buildings they live in aren’t dumps. Also, the wait list for parking on campus is long. One nurse has been on it for nine years. And there’s still 1000 people ahead of her! That’s what you get for building a hospital on a hilltop, eh?

    Anyway. I digress.

    This nurse tells me she was going to miss going out for St Paddy’s Day after work due to the forced closures. But at least she got to go out to her favorite neighborhood watering hole last night for a last farewell.

    I ask her which one and she tells me River Pig. I know it, I tell her. Ramzy – the owner – is a nice guy, despite spelling his name incorrectly. Kind of a douche, but still nice.

    Further demonstrating both my point about Ramzy and Governor Brown’s need to force social hubs to shutter to prevent the spread of COVID-19 or any of the lesser COVIDs, my nurse passenger tells me that Ramzy had told her he wasn’t closing. He was going to remain open for his regulars as a means of exploiting the 25 person or less private event loophole for restaurants and bars.

    Like I said, he’s a douche.

    But seriously, that’s how we die. Not some millennial taking a $87 round trip spring break flight to Puerto Vallarta, no…a nurse who should know better and a bar owner who clearly skews GOP values-wise. Oh, and 70-somethings going to packed restaurants during a pandemic!

    My workaround? I gave her a 3-star rating so I don’t have to risk picking her future COVID-zombie-self up.

    Stupid Americans…

    Due To Whelming Feedback…

    Scared New World

    Welp, I made it three days.

    I’ve no doubt that I’m good for weeks on end of self-imposed isolation, but once I’m told to stay home, my natural obstinacy kicks in.

    Obviously.

    Not that I haven’t been keeping track of the number of people I’ve been within 6 feet of at the same time.

    Friday: 6

    Saturday: 3

    Sunday: 4

    Remember, I drive for Lyft, too. My back seat is within my 6 foot bubble – so traffic is pretty far down back there. I’d definitely say that my back seat is performing worse than the stock market!

    Saturday, I attempted to cajole the Silver Fox into a glass of wine at our local since he had told me that he’d already been cajoled by his sons into joining their mother in her self-imposed quarantine. Since he didn’t have a return date, I suggested a bon voyage drink. I also reminded him that he could be a carrier and spread the virus into his ex-wife’s safety perimeter.

    That worked as well as my attempt to milk a wine out of him, so I ordered a pizza.

    Five minutes later, he sent me a pic of a glass of wine at the bar around the corner.

    C’mon!

    Of course, I had to stay home and wait for my pizza to be delivered to my door – and then left for me to pick up once the driver had left.

    Yesterday, I had plans to meet The Kids for coffee. However, after a Sunday morning of driving in a deserted downtown Portland, I canceled.

    I had three rides in two hours. Sunday mornings are usually pretty slow, but that’s about 50% down from what I’d usually encounter. Usually people are leaving town and I’ll pick up a couple airport rides and maybe even a return from an arriving traveler. Perhaps a ride of pride, if I’m out early enough. For sure, I’ll pick up several brunchers.

    Nope. Those days are over.

    I took a guy to work at Laughing Planet – a local “good food” cafe.

    I got called to a hotel near my place downtown. Pulling up, I expected it was either an airport run or a brunch drop off. Uh-uh…I was taking this traveling couple to pick up their car. They hadn’t even left it because they got hammered the night before. Nope, these shrewd millennial travelers were juking the system and instead of paying $40 a night to park their car at their boutique hotel, had left it on a residential street across the river where parking is free and Lyft-ed to their hotel and back for ~$10 total.

    Including tip.

    Smart!

    And then I took a guy to work. Not a nurse, as I expected because of the time. He was going to work at NikeTown. When I mentioned he was going in pretty early for a Sunday, he told me there was a mandatory meeting to talk about Nike’s decision to close their stores until the Coronavirus was managed.

    After that morning of trolling for rides along a deserted Broadway and MLK – which are busy thoroughfares, I thought maybe being out and about was at best, being foolhardy and at worst, being part of the problem.

    So I canceled my coffee date with The Kids. Hell, the CDC had just updated its guidance for crowds from 250 to 50.

    This morning was similar to yesterday. Still needing an income stream, I decided to drive the rush hour and at least help get some medical personnel to work. Usually, I’ll have at least one ride to a hospital or clinic in the mornings, probably two depending on my start time.

    Sure enough, my first ride was at about 6:40 and was a nurse going up to Oregon Health Sciences University – OHSU for short. She was also the newest member of the 1% Club, people I’ve given more than one ride to.

    However, after thanking her for all she does as she exited my car, I didn’t have another ride for 65 minutes. Again, the streets looked post-apocalyptic and I thought about going home. After pulling down $25 in two hours yesterday, I lamented my potential $5 Monday and stubbornly kept cruising.

    Usually, my rule is to point my car homeward between rides and if I make it home, stop. That, or to shut it down if I go a half hour without a ride.

    But I’m old, I’m getting rather good at stubborn.

    One of the things I learned from The Fox while he was sipping his wine alone on Saturday evening was that our local had decided that day to reduce service to only five days a week from 5-9 pm. I was amazed, an emotion that turned to shock when I learned that they had furloughed about 70% of their staff along with that decision.

    Of course, this turned out to be only hours ahead of the decision by Washington Governor Jay Inslee to close all bars and restaurants. An executive order that itself barely beat California governor Gavin Newsome’s decision to do the same in California.

    That’s kind of what prompted my solo-coffee outing this morning. I know the seating at Nossa Familia is pretty scarce, and I figured with the way the city was looking, I wouldn’t have any trouble being socially distant.

    I was not wrong.

    Even when someone did show up – as it turned out, it was the customer behind me…the only other patron – but we were still plenty of feet apart. Of course, once she sat down, she made a show of dramatically clearing her throat.

    Anyway, knowing Oregon’s own governor – Kate Brown – has promised her own decision on either a curfew or temporary end of service for Oregon’s bars and restaurants, I thought this could be my last chance to hang out in a coffee shop for a few weeks.

    So here I am.

    I’d invited The ‘Phew out for dinner tomorrow, doing my part to make sure that particular college kid has enough pizza in his diet to keep going. But now that’s seeming like it may not happen.

    It would be a bummer if we had to put it off for the foreseeable future. I guess I could always invite myself to my parents for dinner and take him out with me…which would also be nice, but in a different way.

    While all of this is going on and even sounds practical, it’s against the backdrop of exacerbated stupid American idiocy.

    This was simultaneously hilarious and horrifying.

    Hilarious, because Panic At The Costco brilliantly sends up both the name of the band – Panic At The Disco – and riffs on the one intelligible line from probably their best known chorus, which is a shouted

    I chime in with “Haven’t you people ever heard of closing the goddamn door?”

    Which some clever person co-opted by changing “closing the door” to “washing your hands”.

    Horrifying because – well, lots.

    First, because in 2020 we really are being confronted with how few people seem to actually understand the hows and whys of hand washing.

    It’s pathetic.

    Second, because Panic At The Costco is real. We’ve been seeing hoarding stories of toilet paper for a couple of weeks now. And that was before the shit really hit the fan last weekend.

    Naturally, on top of Moronvirus, Portland weather decided to deliver snow last Saturday. Snow forecasts here will reliably strip a store of perishables. Add in an airborne virus and these stupid Americans will purge stores of all things crapping paper. Maybe it’s because their heads are so far up their asses that they suspect a runny nose could reasonably lead to diarrhea.

    Who knows? I find it best to try and not understand this mindset too well. While I’m all for seeking to understand, somewhere in the back of my mind is my mom’s voice warning me about making faces when I was a kid.

    What if my mindset gets stuck like TP Hoarders’ mind’s while I’m trying to find the logic in their actions?

    I dunno. Maybe Stupid New World is a better name.

    Scared.

    Stupid.

    Probably interchangeable in this current circumstance. Sadly, I am only reasonably certain that one of those adjectives will pass within the next month or so…

    Scared New World

    I Am A Horrible Person

    Apparently.

    And a covert racist.

    This was my takeaway from a conversation the other day.

    Then again, thanks to the transitive property, so was Rodney King.

    Even worse, “Why can’t we all just get along?” wasn’t even my starting or main point.

    This was all happening during a Lyft ride, too, so I’d inadvertently wandered into quite a minefield. I picked up this person at home and started chatting away by checking her destination: a coffee shop. I asked if she was going for leisure or work – a question I was actually invested in since she lives half a block from one of the best coffee houses in Portland but was going across the river for her joe.

    It was work, a meeting. When I asked what kind of work she did, she simply replied that she worked for a non-profit.

    Sidebar: my observation is that people who work for non-profits are the least likely to give you a descriptive account of their work. It’s curious.

    She was actually my second non-profit rider that morning. In my head I made a joke about all non-profit people knowing each other. In real life, I joked by announcing that I am also a non-profit organization.

    That actually drew her out a little and she volunteered that she worked for an organization that promoted racial equity. And I know that I just paraphrased that wrong, but I’m already allegedly going to hell so I don’t care.

    But we’d just added Portland’s #1 Boogeyman to our chat: Gentrification.

    Take a moment and shudder. God knows I should have. But no…me? I wade right in.

    We chat vaguely and amiably about plight. Since it’s got a friendly vibe, I tell her about my old neighbor in NoPo. You can click the link to get the full gist, but long-and-short: he was the last black man on the historically black block I bought my first house on.

    When I finished telling the story of my frustration that he wouldn’t budge on his anger, I realized her silence was drawing out and glanced in the rear view mirror.

    She was smirking at me like I was some preciously idiotic child.

    “Ok, let me have it”, I chuckled. She seemed to get that I know I don’t know anything but grasp the notion that I don’t know what I don’t know.

    Y’know?

    She wasn’t forgiving me for not knowing. But with her smirk, she was at least seemingly acknowledging that I wasn’t coming from a place of ill will. So, I’m not a horrible person, I’m just horrible at being a person, I guess.

    We then had a pretty interesting conversation about understanding. Let me tell you, it had layers. Like, layers that I am only vaguely aware of and layers that I’m only guessing must have been there.

    But my big takeaway from this moment was a reminder that in order to understand, you have to set your own situation aside. One of my old co-workers used to tell me to get out of my own way, which seems like a pretty good way to put it in this case. The Angriest Man In NoPo didn’t care whether I was trying to be nice or build friendship bridges. I was a symbol of a perceived wrong. I chose to be offended that he didn’t even bother to ignore my neighborly overtures. Ignoring them would have acknowledged them and he didn’t even deign to give me as an individual or my hapless acts that much recognition.

    Like I said, the conversation was a good reminder about the first step in understanding. I told my passenger that I was glad I’d had the chance to meet her, and I meant it. The look she gave me could have been the very same she’d give me if I told her I planned to BBQ inside because it looked like rain.

    Whudyagunnado…

    Still, as I drove away I indulged in a little future-play fantasy. Recently, I heard a statistic that I can’t quite recall, something like by the year 2025, 50% of all babies born will be of two or more races. You know that statistic isn’t moving backward. When will we become so blended that racism becomes a ridiculous thing of the past? I imagine that when we finally count the majority of our population as multi-racial, my old neighbor’s obstinance will look anachronistic.

    Sadly, I doubt we’ll be able to look back from that vantage point and see the point in our history where minority people like my neighbor were satisfied that the situation had been rectified. While today, they force the racial majority to broaden their view of a situation, I worry that some will never put away their hurt, just like many older generations of white people never put away their racism.

    Looking back at my neighbor, as far as I know, he died with his anger still in full disdainful glare mode and in the middle of his struggle to be seen. Just as I’ve wished racism could die with the older generations that can’t set it aside without infecting younger generations, I hope someday that people who are symbols of yesterday’s and today’s racial injustice can take their anger to the grave and let us call history, history.

    That’s not 100% true. I hope that we can get to a point as a blended racial culture where we can talk to people who hold so fiercely to that tether to the past and help them accept that that future’s reality has changed enough that it’s safe to rejoin the present instead of persisting in the past.

    I’m sure I’ve said all of this wrong. But maybe you can understand the spirit of what my meager words cannot express.

    And let’s all just try and get along, please?

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to buy a BBQ, even though it looks like rain…

    I Am A Horrible Person

    So, I Cured Coronavirus

    You’re welcome.

    Ok, not really. But I feel a rant coming on and think that’s a longer commitment than I can offer on Friday morning – for instance, it’s now Friday night – so I’m posting something pithy to take my mind off of that other shituation. Maybe tomorrow or Sunday I will let my EOG/White Privilege out to whine.

    You’re still welcome.

    Damn. Now I want wine.

    Earlier this week, I had a doctor appointment and found myself sitting in a waiting room with a hipster/homeless/homo-type who thought he was funny. He coughed – incorrectly – and after a few moments looked around and chuckled “Coronavirus” at the room.

    Definitely homeless.

    Naturally, I woke up the next day with a sore throat. One of those stand-alone types of sore throat where the place that your throat and sinuses meet is burning. Y’know, like after you do some coke?

    Ok, me either. But I have these oversharing friends…

    Anyway, I bought some Zicam and figured I’d nip this in the bud. However, as the day wore on, either that Zicam was doing a great job or my not-so-secret-hypochondria was asleep at the wheel. I’d barely managed to imagine a runny or stuffy nose – let alone manifest anything serious.

    The next day, however, I succeeded in waking up congested. After a few hours, I began to wonder if I should email my doctor, just to be safe. I took a Zicam while I fretted about it and a couple hours later, I went into my medicine drawer looking for more serious ammo.

    Y’know, just in case.

    Yeah, I don’t even know what some of that crap is. I know there’s writing on the foil backing, but when I tossed the boxes away, I hadn’t anticipated my eyes reminding me of the age I strive so hard to forget.

    Then my eyes settled on the Zirtec and I thought, “Yes! That’s all this is, allergies…again!” It’s an annual rite of passage from Winter to Spring for me. Having only developed allergies six years back, this ritual still catches me off guard. Plus, Portland weather being Portland weather, I never know if this will occur during our Fake Spring or later in the year when actual Spring rolls into town.

    So I patted myself on the back, popped a Zirtec and went about my day.

    Two hours later, I realized I felt fantastic! Well, for me.

    The next day, I did the same.

    Also, Thursday.

    And again this morning. That was when I realized I’d been taking Zirtec that was…vintage?

    Ok, it expired almost five years ago…while my poor mother facepalms and wonders where she went wrong, I’m patting myself o the back and wondering what they’ll name the process of taking “moldy” allergy meds to “cure” a flu.

    I’m not going to warn you not to try this at home. If you’re dumb enough to consider me a role model, I’m happy to get credit for the Darwin assist. <grimace emoji>

    So, I Cured Coronavirus

    Lemme Fix This For You…

    Here’s a shituation – and you can feel free to call this “being judge-y”. I don’t care, I’m making a point. Personally, I prefer to call this an observation. Since it’s also an accurate observation, people will see it for the indictment that it is.

    Hopefully.

    I was scrolling through the notties on the asocial media this morning whilst being lazy in bed and came across this gem. A real stand out in a bumper crop of guys exemplifying how gays have gone from fabulous to frivolous in just a couple of generations.

    But on Grindr, all you really need to have in order to set yourself apart from that group is a face pic.

    Or a shirt.

    Either way – pretty low bar.

    Here’s the profile:

    This guy needed to be slapped or shaken as a child. Maybe if he’d had a mildly traumatizing childhood, he wouldn’t have grown up to fetishize those things – assuming that when he says “wild” in his profile, he’s talking about kink. And his Instagram confirms he lives in Portland, so I’m assuming kink is a given.

    Actually, there’s just a lot of people here who came to Portland, didn’t get it, can’t afford to leave on a PT barista income and are using kink to just feel something besides their oppressive existential gloom.

    But I’m getting ahead of myself.

    Don’t worry, I’m not going all the way back to the beginning beginning – reading regulars will already know my take on open marriages.

    Synopsis: you’re with the wrong person.

    Everthemess, here’s this guy imploring potential suitors – if you can call them that, since the best case with this guy is missing out completely an orgasm – that they be exciting.

    I’m unreasonably excited that he at least said “please”. Albeit in a totally lazy manner. Thankfully, he didn’t bore me with a pithy “Plz”…there is a difference.

    No, the beginning I’m going back to is actually only as far away as that headline.

    More specifically, the follow up.

    Pls be exciting

    If you follow that up with “Happily married”, I’m left with little choice but to call BS.

    Here…

    Crappily married

    I fixed it.

    Pls be exciting + happily married = you don’t understand the core concept.

    I’m not even going to parse out how the words “fit” and “tummies” don’t actually belong in the same sentence. Well, ok…but I’m only sparing him one thought there:

    This guy put the “moron” in oxymoron.

    I’ve stopped trying to understand the avalanche of people in open relationships. It’s beyond my capabilities to help.

    However, what I’m left with is the shock and amusement that these people think they can do better. I mean, seriously…you trapped tricked one person into a relationship, that already seems like a lot for you. Now you think you deserve random hookups, too?

    I’m just gonna say it, those random hookup? Well, that’s the best you deserved. But this is America, by all means expect more, you Montessori level Stupid American.

    There’s an old saying, “Boring people get bored”. Sweetie, if you need exciting people around to be excited, well…

    At the same time, since I’ve visited the Instagram you linked in your profile, let’s talk about that. You took a trip to Thailand in December with your husband. That certainly seems like what some people would consider a “trip of a lifetime” – not to mention exciting.

    Yet, here you are, hand out for more.

    I hope you don’t mind my saying you are a bit more physically attractive than your spouse.

    Couple years younger, too?

    I’ll go out on a limb and assume he paid for the trip.

    As well as your gym membership to some douche-level gym. You’re not coming across as someone who’d be satisfied with a pedestrian level gym like 24 Hour or LA Fitness.

    So boring, those gyms.

    As I’m assuming your spouse must be. If you’re looking for exciting – I’m assuming it’s not as an escape to all the excitement of your home life.

    But, well…I guess my earlier synopsis covered that. Leaving us to riddle out how you failed to grasp the core concept behind the phrase “happily married”.

    Unless

    Are you defining happiness as having some rube provide you with the foundational levels of Maslow’s pyramid?

    My guess is that’s the elephant in the bedroom. That awkward time of the week (for his sake, I hope getting a little unenthusiastic weekly sex from his future ex is the return on his investment in you) where you’ve gotta “pay rent” to the guy who probably does love you and demonstrates it by making sure your physiological and safety layers are solid.

    Leaving you to shuffle uncomfortably from one foot to the other when confronted with level three. Hoping your asocial media trolling drops someone hot enough exciting in your lap.

    If it happens, I’m sure the three of you (you, your exciting person and your community property divorce settlement) will all be very happy together…until you realize that your top tiers of esteem and self-actualization were just bastardizations of pride and unnecessary levels of physical fitness built of someone else’s projection of love and belonging on to you.

    Then you’ve got to hope your landing from the fall from that top tier isn’t too devastating for you to start over at the third level again.

    Hopefully, that’s an exciting challenge for you, Sugar.

    It’s certainly not exciting at all to observe. It’s depressing as all get out, to be completely honest.

    I’ve lived both sides of the scenario this guy is embracing – well, not the delusional crappily married part, so I guess I started out a little better prepared than him – and you know what? I’ll take my occasional ennui over his absent excitement any day.

    Either you know why, or you don’t. There’s really no explaining it to people who don’t get it – kind of like trying to reason with Trump supporters at this point. If they still support him, it’s absent of reason.

    But I still get out of bed each day hoping there are enough people who understand that not getting it isn’t the first step in the journey; knowing that you probably don’t even know you aren’t getting it is step one.

    Those people are exciting!

    Lemme Fix This For You…

    Going Out Of Business!

    Portland Edition.

    I went out on a lil urban hike yesterday morning and was confronted by the reality of a frequently occurring conversational topic of late: commercial real estate in Portland.

    The rug shop on the corner across from my place is closing. Well, is closed.

    Just as a reminder, I live in a neighborhood called The Pearl which is nestled in the Alphabet District of Portland’s Northwest neighborhood. Essentially, this neighborhood runs from Burnside to Lovejoy streets from North to South and from Broadway to 8th to Park and then 9th-13th on the East to West streets.

    It’s an 8×11 street grid.

    There is/was three rug shops within that grid, so “How many rug shops do you need in that small area?” is a valid question.

    Here’s one of the survivors, which was forced to move from its original location a few years ago to make way for a 14 story, half a city block apartment building that is finally nearing completion.

    I’m not complaining. Once this is done early next year, my immediate area will wrap up its fourth major building project over the last four years. That’s two new hotels and two new apartment buildings that added about 500-700 new neighbors and countless tourists to my corner of the world.

    Until the Post Office project begins in god knows when, I’m in the clear, construction-wise.

    Interestingly, the opposite corner of my block (shown above) rented nearly a year ago and just recently opened. It’s a rowing studio, which upset the Filipina Fox greatly, since she and her husband were planning – still are – to open a row studio. But if you got clients that are too lazy to walk into class, you’re probably better off not even bothering to open.

    At least they are friendly. Homegirl gave me a nice friendly smile and wave.Still, it goes back to my earlier question, how many <insert business here> does one small part of town need?

    When it comes to gyms, I can think of too many:

    The grand daddy of the OGs, 24 Hour. It’s been here since well before the turn of the century. Another OG – LA Fitness – came in a decade and a couple blocks later.

    There’s now City Row, Yo Yo Yogi, Pearl Yoga, Firebrand, Barre 3, Bar Method, RevoCycle, BurnCycle and countless CrossFit studios within my tiny grid. Including one that moved into this site for about an hour.

    But fitness and rugs aside, this whole conversation started with a few notable business closures.

    Namely, Pearl Bakery and Henry’s Tavern with an honorable mention to Byways Cafe.

    Pearl Bakery had been in its current location for 23 years, serving up fresh baked breads and pastries as well as top notch coffee the entire time. It was a Pearl landmark.

    Henry’s, on the other hand, could arguably be said to have been here in the Pearl since before there was a Pearl to be in.

    Henry Weinhard’s started brewing beer here in 1906 and I know people just a few years younger than me whose parents worked there. It was bought by AB a few decades ago and brewing operations were consolidated elsewhere sometime after that. In the 90s, the brewery was redeveloped into a founding corner of the a Pearl called the Brewery Blocks, which enveloped the block that Powell’s sits on and also included a couple of condo and apartment buildings The Henry and The Louisa, named for Weinhard and his wife. One of the old brick buildings was remodeled and became home to Henry’s Tavern, run by the recently relegated to the annals of bad business Restaurants Unlimited. Still, RI was snatched up by Landry’s and there was hope that the namesake restaurant in the Pearl’s Brewery Blocks would be spared the axe.

    Alas.

    Still, you gotta wonder, if coffee and beer can’t make a go of it in one of Portland’s affluent destination living and shopping districts…hadn’t there got to be a bigger problem?

    Henry’s is hardly the only brewery or taproom to face this fate.

    Last year, Bridgeport shut down brewing operations in the Pearl and later closed its onsite restaurant.

    Avid started its life as Atlas before being sued over copyright infringement and forced to rebrand. It opened last year in one of the two nearby apartment building projects i mentioned.

    On Deck will close permanently at the end of the year, putting the Pearl down a sports bar.

    It was quite the summertime destination – for some, not me) with a rooftop that probably doubled its square footage. I think this business in particular struggled with a too common threat in the neighborhood these days:

    Redevelopment

    Rumors circulated for the better part of a year that this block was due to go under the wrecking ball to create a new mid-rise building. Office Depot occupied the other corner of the block and pulled out last year.

    And while I am a supporter of housing density, the panic future development rumors create is detrimental to our present.

    Indeed, my backup – and preferred – coffee house is on that block, you can just make out the red reflection of its “Open” sign in the picture above. As a matter of fact, Nossa is new to this block within the last couple of years, having moved from literally two blocks down when its former location came under the same redevelopment axe.

    Yet, here its former location is. Empty as the rumors that helped facilitate its relocation. Also, some randomly occurring Jingle Bell runners.

    But as in favor as I am of redevelopment, I think the overall benefit is mitigated by the negative impact of commercial real estate’s larger problem: greed.

    Real estate – both commercial and residential is at a premium in Portland overall and more so in the Pearl specifically since it’s such a hub. So, for every new building that goes up, there’s at least one – if not two – large restaurant or retail spaces included in the new building as anchor spaces.

    Case in point, The Rodney.

    This apartment building was finished early this year and included a large restaurant space on the ground level. This corner is on Glisan, one of the two busiest one-way through-fares in the neighborhood. Including construction, there’s been over two years to lure a business into this spot. It’s next door to 10 Barrel Brewing and Rogue Brewing’s taproom restaurants and a block from Andina, another Pearl District restaurant mainstay.

    That they can’t rent this space out is problematic. Then again, it took two years post-construction for City Row to open in the large space next to my building, so…

    A bigger problem?

    The building right across Glisan that should be complete and open early next year. Including what I assume will be at least one large restaurant space in its three corner spaces – it’s a big building.

    Between these two buildings, we’re adding around another 750+ residents to the neighborhood…it shouldn’t be that hard to draw a business that can make a go of it here. As long as it’s not named something complementary-awkward to its neighbor. All we need is an apartment building named The Slice sitting across the street from The Rodney.

    But large restaurant space is tricky. Even chain based restaurants can’t make a go of it. Back before RI went out, they snatched up Pacific Restaurants. This was back in 2007 and I believe – forgive me if I’m wrong – PR was an affiliated evolution of Farrel’s Ice Cream Parlors.

    Between the two, they put successive restaurants into this Glisan corner space for decades.

    It was home to Palomino and Trader Vic’s with at least one other incarnation from the brand’s portfolio in the mix. Then it sat empty for a couple of years before signage for a Pink Taco went up in the windows screaming about a new future.

    Then silently came down.

    More recently, the space has quietly announced a new tenant.

    And apparently the low key nature of its announcement saved enough money for remodeling to actually begin this time around.

    Meanwhile, on the opposite corner of that block, facing Hoyt, another of the Pearl’s pioneer eateries sits vacant after closing in the middle of the night a few years back. Oba! was an exciting happy hour destination and a swanky date night or celebration restaurant destination.

    Then, poof!

    Gone.

    Ironically, another Pearl nightlife mainstay is rumored to have leased the space, but those rumors are growing stale after almost 18 months.

    Jimmy Mak’s was a jazz venue in the Pearl since the days where there was only one or two industrial co-ops and maybe one condo building in the hood. Then they moved catty corner to a new location next to one of our three neighborhood rug shops.

    Then, the rumors came.

    Kush decided to move ahead of the demolition of its half-block. Jimmy Mak’s decided to close down once its owner’s cancer resurfaced. The farewell party was planned – a New Years Eve to Mark the end of the Jimmy Mak’s era.

    On New Years Day Jimmy died. It was tragically sad and a simultaneously beautiful ending to the story.

    Until…a couple of former employees decided to reopen Jimmy Mak’s in the Oba! space six months later. Another beautiful tribute to a legendary entertainment venue.

    The “Leased” sign is up…but 18 months in, we’re still waiting.

    Celebrity chef based restaurants aren’t faring any better than chain-backed ventures.

    Isabel Pearl was a restaurant opened by cookbook author Isabel Cruz back in 2008. After a decade, plans for the San Diego based cookbook author cum restauranteur to expand into the old Gilt space a few blocks away on Broadway were announced.

    Gilt was the space’s former tenant and is the restaurant made famous by the Colin the Chicken episode of Portlandia…

    If you can’t stay in business with that pedigree…alas, instead of expanding to a second location, Isabel decided to “reimagine” their original Portland location.

    A hand-drawn magic marker sign. I can see that no expense was incurred – at least they learned something from Pink Taco.

    Speaking of which, maybe that’s the restaurant that should anchor the building across from The Rodney!

    Here’s a few more spaces that recently transitioned:

    The Star brings deep dish pizza to the space formerly home for tow decades to The Paragon. Hopefully, they enjoy a similar tenure.

    Two Wrongs is a collaboration between a Portland bar/restauranteur and the marketing/brand master behind Portland Gear. They took over a former Black Rock coffee house to open a bar.

    Here’s Byways, which I mentioned earlier. Fifteen years ago, this was Shakers Cafe. Both incarnations were kitsch themed diners and have occupied this space for…gosh, 25 years collectively? They announced their closure after failing to negotiate new lease terms with the building’s owner.

    There’s that greed again.

    That the Sheepskin shop that shares the building with Byways has outlasted them is truly mind boggling. And it’s not like the building is going anywhere. There’s a co-op on one side and a similar small building housing a taco joint and a kitsch decor store called Cult on the corner.

    Taprooms aren’t the only alcohol based destinations to struggle. This space is in the building that the Silver Fox lives in. It sits on Everett – the other main through-fare in the Pearl used to House a wine bar called Remedy. They limped along for a couple of years before closing and one of the owners – who owned the commercial space – had it rezoned and remodeled into his private residence.

    An old school shared office building (pictured top) closed up last year. It had been here forever. It featured a now whitewashed wall that formerly depicted a mural of home state hero Steve Prefontaine and a fun neon sign helpfully suggesting the proper use of ones time.

    I’d like this mural restored, if they’re just gonna cover it over and then leave.

    Come to think of it, I want the neon back, too! Maybe keeping the “Working” side lit would keep homeless people from camping in the doorway.

    Given its billion dollar a year losing competitor across the park, I can see where it would be hard to compete successfully. But this is Portland. We’re supposedly hard wired to support the underdog. WeWork should not have won in this scenario.

    Affluence doesn’t always guarantee success over commercial real estate greed, either. Opposite the corner housing Pearl Bakery – which started this whole ball rolling – was a Charter School. It had been there for quite some time, bringing kids into the Pearl’s North Park Block neighborhood. That was an add that even this grumpy old man appreciated.

    The City even collaborated to renovate the old Park Block playground into this

    Bit then the school decided to move – for whatever reason. Hmm…what could it be?!?

    Greed?!?

    Perhaps.

    Maybe they just outgrew the building.Ok, ok…I know this is running long. I think I’m wrapping up. I mean wearing myself out.

    Let’s compromise and call it both.

    The corner pictured above used to be a favorite pre-turn of the century coffee haunt of mine called Torrefazione. I actually made it a hangout for my main character in No One Of Consequence.

    Anyway, Starbucks bought the small chain out and then closed them all up! Talk about cutthroat.

    The Torrefazione family responded by leasing the restaurant space in the new high rise condo that was built on the opposite corner and opened Caffe Umbria.

    Take that Charbucks. The family’s roastery May be Seattle based, but at least one of the family members lives locally and drops in to watch soccer with his toddlers on the weekends.

    It was a very Portland thing to do, protest opening a business like that…even if selling out wasn’t so Portland.

    The three pics below all represent businesses being priced out or rumored out of their homes. The Beneficial Bank looks nice, right?

    It should.

    After being forced out of its home for a couple of years once it’s space was slated for a high rise residential project, it was welcomed back with a paint job. Seems funding may have hit a snag. Who knows? Anyway, score one for the little guys.

    Snow Peak, on the other hand, is just beginning it’s rumor based adventure. There’s a new “Coming Soon” window sign up a few blocks away. It coordinates well with the rumor of a new mid rise building in its current spot.

    What I can’t figure out, though, is the how of that mid rise rumor. The Snow Peak space sits between the aforementioned and newly remodeled Rogue Brewery space on one side and an architecture firm on the other side.

    I’m kind of worried that the architect space will come down to make way – along with Snow Peak – for another high rise apartment building.

    The rub?

    It’s right across from The Rodney – so maybe that intersection isn’t out of the redevelopment woods just yet.

    Even more surprising is the answer Snow Peak represents to my “How many” question from earlier.

    Snow Peak is in the Pearl’s crowd of outdoor and cold weather clothiers.

    REI, Nau, Fjallraven (with TWO locations in the Pearl!), North Face, Patagonia and Icebreaker…and I know that I missed some!

    Ironically, for as persistent as outdoor clothing stores are in the Pearl, home stores don’t fare so well. The Tactics skateboard shop above is a new notion for a space that was a gallery and then a home store and then a home store and then nothing. Likewise, the brick warehouse across the street was a furniture store and the space across the alley was also a home store that became a CrossFit gym for an hour or so before settling into its current sweatpants and ponytail version of an empty space.

    In a further fit of irony, the CrossFit space was subdivided when it was a home store to reduce the size of the shop and thereby the overhead. It was slated to become Jimmy Mak’s new home before the cancer resurfaced. Then it became an “event space”.

    Let’s hope the Oba! space fares better. Eventually.

    Design Within Reach expanded last year to the above space, leaving its old two-story space vacant.

    It looks way more inviting now, so I’m glad. But it got me wondering.

    Maybe the evolution/solution to our commercial real estate vacancies is going to be something that Design Within Reach, Snow Peak and Nossa Familia have all already learned – along with countless college students.

    The way to control real estate expense is to move.

    It may cost more in the short term, but overall you leverage the expense downward.

    For everyone.

    It forces the market price correction that is necessary to offset the empty space and make those spaces affordable. I mean, commercial real estate brokers could just do the right thing and re-write current leases.

    But how likely is that?

    The banks didn’t do it with mortgages during the real estate crisis until Obama forced them to. Somehow, I don’t see the commercial real estate industry doing the right thing here.

    Then again, investment brokers are doing something similar right now, by cutting transaction fees all the way to $0. I’m prepared to be pleasantly surprised.

    Until then?

    I wouldn’t mind seeing out city planners get a little more involved in approving all of this ground floor commercial space.

    Or not approving it.

    I think there’s a case to be made for more ground floor live/work space.

    With the Pearl spanning 11 blocks on the North to South expanse, surely we could limit the commercial space on the ground floors to maybe 4-6 of those blocks? I mean, residence density is our goal here, not excess vacant commercial space.

    We don’t need a brewery, yoga studio, flower shop or restaurant on every block.

    I think the current situation has proven that.

    Going Out Of Business!

    Awkward Things I Did This Week

    Ok, how this isn’t an ongoing theme for my blog…I just don’t know.

    Maybe I should try making #ATIDTW a thing.

    I realized after my walk this morning – doing prep for a larger entry tomorrow – that I was wearing mismatched socks. No biggie…it’s just a Saturday morning walkabout.

    It was the second time this week. No, they weren’t the opposites of the other mismatched set. Yes, last time was a workday.

    I guess I should be more careful about golfing laundry in dim lighting.

    Or around wine.

    I barely avoided sending a snarky email to the owner of the company I am consulting for the other day. I realized I had somehow chosen to “reply all” as I was proofreading it – I’ll explain what that means later, Silver Fox – and decided it was safer to just tell her in person.

    In a small victory over my own awkwardness, I fell into my chair at work without spilling my coffee. I was attempting to sip coffee, hip-check my chair so it spun so that I could sit down and turn around all at the same time. My foot landed on one of the casters, sending me off balance as I turned and my chair skittering in the opposite direction from my vector.

    I fell backward.

    Somehow, I hit the chair.

    Arms flailing.

    Coffee sloshing but not spilling.

    Thank gawd I was alone in the office, but I still looked to make sure not even the Chief Feline Officer was present to witness my derp.

    No, neither of those three things – socks, reply all or near fall – happened on the same day.

    I am only in the office three days a week, so I’m batting 1000 in the awkward department for this week.

    I had a date this week. Someone I met online and decided to throw $20 at to see if he was as good in person as he was online.

    He was!

    A cute construction worker type. Maybe 5’8″, so right there in my shorty sweet spot.

    And while he was an engaging conversationalist, he was also a good listener. Letting me prattle on about me-things while he listened attentively and encouraged me with relevant follow up questions instead of scrambling to get the conversation back to himself.

    Turns out…he was 20!

    Is. Fine.

    Goddamnit!

    While he was trying to sell me on the fact that he was almost 21, I was asking him if he voted in the last election.

    “Nope. I wasn’t old enough, silly! But I’m voting in 2020, for sure!”

    “Nono. In the midterms!”

    Blank stare.

    At least I came away from the encounter with something more upsetting to me than his age.

    And to cap off my week in derp, I stopped on my walkabout this morning for a coffee. It was my backup coffee shop because it was geographically desirable, plus my primary shop opens at 9 on Saturdays and it was only 8-ish.

    I haven’t been in in about a month because my Barista Boyfriend has a girlfriend now. Or at least he did last time I was there at the beginning of November. We were the only two people sitting on the mezzanine and he stopped by to kiss her.

    No kiss for me, though. But fresh off a really good kiss (goddamnit!) from The Toddler yesterday, I figured there’s worse things than being fake betrayed by fake boyfriends.

    “Oh my god! It’s been so long!” – Female Barista, Boyfriend Barista was looking on, smiling from behind his La Marzocco.

    “Coma.” – Me

    “You look all flush! How are you feeling now?” – FB

    “I think it’s just walking in the cold. Or maybe my scarf is too tight! I miss Elvis, though.”

    “That was a long coma…”

    We went on to chat a bit more, then finally convincing me that I needed a hot coffee if I was going back out. Might as well be a peppermint mocha, too if it’s the only hot coffee of the season.

    Winning argument.

    I also found myself without my reusable bamboo straw, this being a spontaneous event. FB convinced me to get one of the metal straws, since it had a silicone tip and she could chew on it.

    “Well, you can chew on the bamboo straws if you really want to.”

    “P’shaw…I’m not a panda!”

    “Whatever you say, Ping Ping.” – Me, in perfect deadpan.

    That was the awkward, by the way….

    “Well, I may be Chinese, but I’ll leave the bamboo chewing to the pros. I’ll still answer to Ping Ping, though, but only for you!” She gives her coworker a little side eye warning.

    She was laughing, as was Boyfriend Barista and I thought Ping Ping could stick. Still, there I was…totally feeling like a latent racist for bringing panda names into the conversation with someone who turned out to be of Chinese heritage.

    It registers on some level with me when someone is a POC. But that level is the same level as hair color.

    Still, when race comes up, so does my guilt. Honestly, I couldn’t profile an Asian person’s race if there was a million bucks riding on it. For a cool mil, I might make a guess. Otherwise, I just don’t care.

    One of my best friends is Philippino. Something I only remember because she nicknamed herself Filipina Fox. The Silver Fox’s daughter in law is Asian, but I have no idea what race. She’s from Las Vegas and Seattle, the end.

    Anyway, with Ping Ping, I decided to ignore her race drop in and pivot. I segued to panda trivia.

    “Did you know that it costs $10 million a year for China to loan out pandas? That’s per panda.”

    “No! Really?”

    “Yup. Key word: loan.”

    “Goddamn. That’s quite a racket!”

    “And any pandas born while they are on loan belong to China, not the host country! No anchor pandas allowed!”

    The discussion went on from there, but I never got to impress them with the full extent of my panda trivia because people came in.

    I’d bought my cool reusable straw –

    – but I did manage an aside to my two-timing Barista Boyfriend as he topped off his latte art with a few dollops of chocolate whipped cream.

    “Hey, if anyone asks for a loaner straw for their drink, charge them $10. Per drink, no free use on refills!”

    “Right? Why should China have all the fun?!?”

    I don’t think these things only happen to me. I do kinda think that it’s possible no one embraces their awkward with as much vigor as I do, though…

    Awkward Things I Did This Week

    Ridiculously Devastated

    Rojo the Llama has died.

    I can’t believe how sad this has made me. Nor, how utterly surprised I am at the feelings the death of this Weird Portland Icon has created within me. I’ve found myself misting up, on the verge of tears repeatedly today.

    He was – and I suspect will be – a part of the tapestry of weirdness that Portland both nurtures and embraces.

    The Unipiper.

    Voodoo Doughnuts.

    PDX Carpet.

    The Church Of Elvis.

    Rojo.

    Rojo was a therapy animal, professionally and famously known as Rojo the Therapy Llama, he made appearances at Portland’s Pride festival, myriad local corporate events, schools, farmers markets, perhaps even a low-grade protest here or there…and was even sighted riding on the local light rail once by mine truly.

    I’d read over the last few months of his retirement. In recent days of his upcoming trip to OSU for advanced veterinary care and then this morning learned of his passing from the Filipina Fox via her Instagram Story.

    I was absolutely gobsmacked by the news.

    Heading immediately to his page, I watched emotional story clips by his “mom” describing his final day.

    I saw people posting pics of them wearing their Rojo swag in memorial…so many emotions at the impact he made and his therapeutic legacy.

    That legacy will live on. Rojo will be taxidermied and placed at the School for the Blind in Vancouver, Washington where he can continue to make a difference in his own unique way.

    Until then, we’ll always have Rojo Cake. Er, doughnuts?

    Rest In Peace, you magnificent buck-toothed therapy stud.

    Ridiculously Devastated