I Took A Break

From being grumpy.

Don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll be back to my normal Grumpopotamus self in the morning.

For today, though?

This has been me:

You see, e-scooters have come to Portland. You’d think I would have strong feelings about them, but I feel like the cacophonous complaints from the rest of the city has drowned me out so completely that I don’t even care any more.

Well, check that. I can still muster a sympathetic lil eye roll when someone else mentions the subject. But otherwise? Meh.

I’ve got 99 problems. E-scooters can be everyone else’s. I’m kind of just glad people are demonstrating an ability to experience the combination of low grade anger and impotence to effect change that is my daily struggle.

Go ahead, shake your fists in the air as these e-scooters silently and quickly surprise you from behind.

Rage at those windmills as people leave them scattered about without thinking of the impact their actions will have on anyone else.

Cluck your tongue in disapproval as you witness obvious violations of the simplest e-scooter operating guidelines.

…for all the good it’ll do you.

To their credit, Lime has made their operating guidelines pretty idiot-proof. To their fault, they seem to have willfully failed to realize that there is no bar so low that a #StupidAmerican won’t try and crawl under it.

Here are the rules, presented as pictographs so you barely need to know how words work to understand.I’m a little bothered that this handbrake thing needs to be explained.

There was one more about avoiding obstacles in the roadway, like potholes. I’m not in love with that one so much because I’m usually rooting for my pal Darwin anytime Stupid Americans are involved.

Hey, I don’t want bad things to happen to people. I do, however, expect their actions to support that they don’t want bad things to happen to themselves either, though.

Anyway, I’ve been listening to people carp about this or that e-scooter issue for a few weeks now. Most of the complaints tend to be one of three things:

1) Helmets

2) Riding on sidewalks

3) Scooter parking

I pretty much keep my own counsel on these conversations because, Darwin can use a win and I think these scooters can help take some of our bigger idiots out of the gene pool…I know, that was pretty savage. That said, I don’t want that win to come at the expense of some oblivious everyday Joe that’s texting as he walks down the street and trips over a carelessly parked scooter.

AKA: me.

If you remember the picture rules above, you’ll recall that there isn’t anything in the pictures that says “don’t ride on sidewalks”. As a matter of fact, I mistakenly believed that e-scooters were supposed to be used in bike lanes and sidewalks as opposed to traffic lanes.

I think I was wrong. But, aside from the stoplight picture, I only know that because I watched the maybe-minute-long instructional video on the Lime website.

How many people are gonna do that? Certainly not too many of the people complaining about the scooter users.

From what I gather from said video, you shouldn’t use e-scooters on sidewalks. I’m discerning that mainly from the demonstration video, where all scooting was done on the road and sidewalks were only shown with parked scooters. Riders were also told to obey all traffic laws and the helmet advisory was repeated.

Sorry, Darwin, old pal. If riders bother to watch this, you’re gonna get screwed.

Nevertheless, I’m just listening in on these conversations. I’m also assuming that when I complain about my grumpy old man triggers that I look like the sane e-scooter haters and not the frothy-mouthed versions.

It’s my blog, I can delude myself if I want to.

But my voyeuristic pleasure took an upgrade this week when I subscribed to Nextdoor. I’ve been hearing exasperated sighs from the Silver Fox lately when his phone Pavlov’s him and it’s not anything exciting like a text or a juicy news tidbit to fuel our coffee clatch conversation. “It’s just Nextdoor” hell say dismissively, without explaining.

So I joined.

At first, I totally got his exasperation:

Lost cats.

Inconsiderate dog owners.

People seeking recommendations.

But, then…the scooters!

Here’s a little snapshot of the conversation that’s gotten me through the last couple of days. Just my favorite parts, if you’ll pardon my editing out the repetitive stuff.

Hehe…that second guy kinda turned on the Original Poster by telling her that complaining on Nextdoor was pointless.

That last one really gave me an inner tee-hee moment. Not ten whole violations in a single hour!

The scoot-manity!

I just imagined that cranky lady sitting in the Adirondack chairs outside Lovejoy Bakery barely able to enjoy her luxury pastry and alternative milk latte for all the fist shaking she was doing. She sounds like the type that might make the staff make her a new latte since her first didn’t stay hot.

These scooters…they’re like Christmas!

Icing on the cake?

Our local free weekly rag, Willamette Week, ran a story after week one with a headline that basically congratulated us citizens for the fact that only one scooter had ended up in the Willamette River in the first week of use.

Seriously? What did they think would happen?!?

Stupid Americans.

I Took A Break

55,000!

Sadly, not the number of my followers on WordPress…or even page views, for that matter.

No, this is just what some random woman yelled at me yesterday as I was walking down the street.

Portland has a lot of street performers; buskers and whatnot. Like this shiny fella.

And of course, the Unipiper, who is always a treat to encounter.

One that I haven’t seen in quite sometime – to my relief – is the giant Pirate Clown! Although, I am a little concerned that someone might have…conquered him.

Anyway, part of me wondered if she was shouting the estimated number of street performers in the area. Another part briefly considered whether she might actually be one of them – with my luck, her schtick was guessing people’s weight and she had just yelled mine out.

As I was writing her off, she clarified: 55,000 acres.

Ok, thanks?

Now, I try to not watch the news too often because I don’t watch TV to enhance my naturally grumpy demeanor, rather to escape it. But I am savvy enough to intuit that she was commenting on the current state of forest fires in my fair Oregon.

55,000 is a great number of acres to be ablaze.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a spontaneous conversation with a rando. Usually, I’ve bellied myself up somewhere for some refreshment-slash-therapy-cum-company, though, so it was quite by reflex that I looked at my hand to see if I was holding a drink after her ejaculation.

(Enjoy that little giggity gift, Diezel.)

A glance skyward confirmed my assumption as to her meaning.

There’s some pretty dense smoke in our air these days, but at least – so far – we’ve been spared the ash fall that we had during last summer’s wildfires. If you want to know what snow in July looks like, any of us Oregonians can paint you a picture based on our last summer, which took on a slight nuclear winter feel.

Maybe it was August.

Maybe the exact when isn’t the point. That it looked like it was snowing at any point during the summer was.

As I hustled on by, I thought, “I know…I read the air advisory to stay inside today” and admitted to myself that just probably I didn’t need to be outside. My second thought was, “Look lady, I just wanted a Diet Coke, ok?” otherwise, I’m totally not opposed to at least slowing down for a chat with a relatively harmless street person.

Case in point:

However, I wasn’t feeling too charitable yesterday. My personage wasn’t feeling 100% to begin with, which I do worry is partially smoke particulate related. Also, I get a little reflexively cross when discussing forest fires because it’s usually caused by one of us Stupid Americans in the first place.

But even if I had been feeling chatty and inclined to slow down to indulge a rando on the street, it probably wouldn’t have been a great conversation…since she was smoking!

55,000!

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To My Disillusionment

No secret here, I love social media. It’s a great source of entertainment and usually makes me think more and allows me to engage more than just watching TV.

It’s also no secret that I loathe certain aspects of social media. Particularly the dating apps – which I call asocial media – that I believe are undermining our humanity as an American culture. Pretty much I blame the gays for turning dating apps into hook up apps and the straights for falling for the notion that it was a good thing.

Then there’s the Trolls.

And the social media sites that are just testimonies to ignorance or racism or bigotry.

So much ugh.

But there’s also snarky and amusing private groups on social media that I love being a part of. Places where the goal is just good fun, from who can be grossest to inappropriate-but-equally-not-serious racism and sexism to meme commentary on our political backslide.

I saw this the other day on one such page that’s called Seriously, Don’t Be So Serious. I can tell you the name cuz you can’t get in without a sponsor, so neener-neener-neener.

There’s a lot of layers going on here. That’s a key component to good humor in my mind…not that there’s anything wrong with a good Dad Joke!

First, this is a still from Mommie Dearest. The film version of Christina Crawford’s story of growing up as the adopted child of Joan Crawford, a notorious Hollywood monster from the days of the Silver Screen. She’s played to camp perfection by Faye Dunaway, who earned a couple of Best Actress nominations for her work. But the real validations were the Razzie and Stinker awards and nominations this film garnered. As a matter of fact, I don’t think it lost any Razzie or Stinker award that it was nominated for, including Worst Actress, Worst Supporting Actress, Worst Film And Worst Film of the DECADE!

It was destined to be a camp classic. Completely embraced by the gay community for Dunaway’s scenery chewing acting, but on a deeper level for the story it represents. Not Crawford’s fame and narcissism, but for the fact that her adopted children were able to survive it and find a life beyond it.

That last bit is something that anyone who struggles with adversity in their young lives – like accepting their sexuality and coming out – can relate to. At least those generations when coming out was an ordeal.

Not today. Gladly!

But on the other hand, it was funny because it exploited Trump being forced to walk back his support of Putin over his own Intelligence Community by saying he misspoke and meant to say he couldn’t see why it “wouldn’t” have been Russia meddling in our 2016 election when he had actually stated that he didn’t see why it would have been Russia. Even in his apology to America that wasn’t, he still managed to say that it could also have been so many other people besides Russia.

The internet lost its tenuous grasp on civility.

Twitter was aflutter with memes and commentary depicting the ironic opposite of things that have happened. Christina Crawford’s quote from Mommie Dearest was “I’m not one of your fans, Mother!”

And it was sublimely hilarious since – by her account – all mama Joan ever wanted from her adopted children was an extension of the same blind love and adulation her fans provided. She was represented as a true Covert Narcissist.

The comment thread was an amusing and harmless bit of cattiness and snark.

It was all good natured and in good fun, until this one.

What bugged me about this was not just that people had already posted a link to the movie for those folks who weren’t familiar – so he was commenting on this without reading the whole story – but that he seemed to go out of his way to age shame those of us who did understand it.

My response:

Maybe my frustration at the flippant and dismissive “I’ll ask my 70 yr old mother” is too serious for this thread…especially since the answer is in the thread.

Worse yet would be someone who truly might not know about why Christina Crawford’s story is important to the gay community as more than just a throwaway campy quote not having a peer group outside his mother that could help illuminate him.

That’s on all of us in the LGBTQ community.

What a tragedy it would be if gay culture had a shelf life of only a decade or so. We need to understand and embrace icons that do more than *read* each other for ratings.

Why people that had to overcome things like abuse – even losing their lives in some cases – provided us the visibility, representation and freedom we have today and not take it for granted.

If we allow our community to blithely joke about their own lack of generational continuity, we’re gonna lose sight of what our community is outside our own cliques.

So, kudos to everyone on this thread who said it’s not ok to not know stuff and bothered to share the knowledge.

Bigger kudos to anyone who was curious enough to want to understand and educate themselves.

Sorry…like I said, maybe too serious a thought for this group.

I’ll sashay away for now.

PS: totally giving a hall pass on the issue to straight people on this thread…😬

…I deleted my comment.

At that point, I felt frustrated and guilty. Also that I hadn’t stepped on a social media landmine by posting a too serious comment on a humor page. But that punk kid was under my skin.

Was he really participating in the dialogue without bothering to read the actual dialogue?!?

I know! I was being too serious. Still, I was bristling at my own pet peeve that if you’re going to bother talking, you have to be aware that listening is the price of entry. This kid not reading the comments before joining the conversation would have just made him look ignorant if he hadn’t gone one step further and intimated that no one under age 70 would understand this.

Too far.

But I edited my comment down to just a basic, “you shouldn’t have to be old to know about this, but maybe gay…and if you’re young and gay then it’s frustrating you don’t know because maybe that’s a sign of how our culture is broke down”.

Shocker, my actual comment was shorter than my paraphrasing of the comment…don’t bother acting surprised.

I also suggested that our culture might have more cohesiveness across generations if we didn’t spend Pride month partying our asses off instead of enriching our young people.

But then again, you can probably infer from my young heckler that there’s not a lot of respect for older gays from the newer versions.

I blame Reagan.

Then, of course, this happened.

It is ok to not like the same things. That’s not what I was taking issue with. I don’t for a moment think that living a life where you “don’t get it” is better than perhaps reading too much context into a situation.

See also: clueless

Also, see also: ignorance is not bliss

His response to my comment left me assuming this guy was at least straight-ish and very sheltered – possibly Quaker – growing up. Of course, this was also happening:

And I’m totally ok with that, from a straight person viewing a gay culture – albeit campy – moment.

Still, the bitchiness of the original comment led me to believe the guy with the 70 year old mother was totally gay. Furthermore, unless his mother was 45+ when he popped and locked his way into the world, he should have at least a glimmer of recognition when confronted with a screen portrayal of Christina Crawford. So, of course I felt I had no choice but to actually fully explain my frustration…thusly:

The comment was basically me bemoaning the fact that gay generations are typically pretty isolated from one another. There’s no passing of the cultural torch from one generation to another to create a tapestry of gay culture and history . The one time we can count on an open commingling of the generations is Pride. I wouldn’t say I’ve observed us fully interacting during Pride, but at least we all came together to celebrate a moment and party in the sun.

So, my point was that if we removed the Pride party atmosphere, we’d have a venue to interact, exchange stories and ideas, etc.

Think about how February works with Black History Month. Much more educational in my experience. But think about moving it to August…would you be surprised if BHM became a huge soul jam BBQ event? I wouldn’t – and I’d want to crash it! – but I don’t think it would maintain the same influence over black culture that I recall it having when I was coming up.

Plus, Pride takes place during the school year summer break, so we miss out on an actual classroom component of formally educating young people either on what will become their culture or on the acceptance of one that exists outside their own.

I know…too serious.

And, while I was beating myself up over getting too serious in what was supposed to be a fun venue, this happened.

…so at least I could feel like I not only salvaged a moment of over serious Xtopherness but that I’d also managed to reach someone and share a moment of alignment.

The original commenter never replied. I’m sure he’s very busy being completely and obliviously frivolous.

What a punk.

Ok…grumpy old man moment: over

I’ve got to decide whether or not to keep writing – about fun stuff now or go for a bike ride in 90+ degree sun. Either way, I’m for sure finishing this cold brew…

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To My Disillusionment

I’m Mad As Hell…

…and I’m just going to passive-aggressively bitch about it.

I’m from Portland, after all, and that’s simply our way.

But Pallet Jack is on tap at Big Legrowlski so I’m going to enjoy one of those while I rage. I’ve also been tasked by the Silver Fox to have one for him in absentia while he’s visiting the grand-family.

Should a third come on board…

A few Hemingway factoids:

He was 62 when he died. He looks way older than that! But in a good way.

He was born in 1899. Why does that shock me so?

Perhaps I can avoid Hemingway-ing if I stop the tangents and just get on with it.

This is me mad, btw. I’m pretty mellow. So, what is it that got me all riled up?

Portland made the news on Monday. What I’m assuming is a Proud Boy decided to take his impotence out on a lesbian couple that was out enjoying a walk in their neighborhood.

Look how proud he is, indeed, as he posts his IQ for the world to see. You know you’re dumb when you aren’t smart enough to shut the hell up when someone pulls out their phone.

Or you’re unable to control yourself even when your friends encourage you to hushify yourself.

Embarrassingly enough, this is our second incident of overt bigotry in just under a month, after this broad posted her IQ on her social media page.

My struggle is figuring out which of these folks is dumber, Lori or Nathaniel.

Lori posted herself being stupid, Nate – I feel like I can call him Nate, now that I know him so well – was just too stupid to shut his mouth.

But Lori lives in Corvallis, an Aggie college town, so she might be a hick…does that offset the stupidity of her action somehow?

Maybe.

Maybe I’m just extra Chris-py these days after months of the immigrant children situation and a week of fresh TrumPutin antics. Then there was yesterday’s outright fib fest as Trump tried to walk back his support of Putin by openly disagreeing with his own intelligence agencies by saying “I don’t see why it would be Russia” meddling in our 2016 election.

What a shitshow of an administration. His walkback statement was basically, “I meant to say ‘wouldn’t‘”. That’s how you earn this internet fame

I guess that’s a silver lining of sorts. In addition to phenomenal beer, seeing humiliating web occurrences like that – that you just know will accelerate his hopefully impending stroke – afford me some solace.

The fact that our country is basically a runaway train to hell is further offset by the fact that I live in Oregon. Seriously, the best state of any state I have lived…sure, I’ve only lived in six different states, but I’d put Oregon against any state for overall awesomeness.

Why is it so great?

How can I possibly think it’s that great with human skid marks like Lori and Nate in our mix?

Well, like someone once said, “Ya gotta take the good with the bad”, right?

Lori got fired from her Oregon Department of Transportation job. Her homicidal racism cost her a good government job and the awesome benefits that go along with it. Her termination was a direct result of her post.

Good.

After Nate Gate on Monday, a group of neighbors showed up to make some therapeutic chalk art in front of the house Nate was visiting.

They wrote nothing offensive, but the tenant still felt compelled to come out and hose down the street.

Guess what?

The neighbors came back and did it again.

And this time, someone alerted the media.

Meanwhile, the Facebook was on the case. I know some people who know some people. People who are sleuthy. That’s how I learned Nate’s name.

That’s also how I learned the name of the owners of the house this happened in front of.

…in front of which this happened?

I dunno, I don’t want to hurt myself saving a participle from dangling.

Basically, I’m waiting on the follow up that Nate got fired and his friends got evicted.

But I’m not expecting it. The Cronens have a reputation for being dirtbag property owners, so I’m sure they don’t care that their tenants bring them shit media attention. Additionally, Nate doesn’t look super employable or high functioning. I doubt his employers are worried about him inadvertently drawing negative press to their organization.

But I did wake up to this news this morning…

So, there’s that news to lift both my spirit and hopes for our country.

On a less retaliatory note, the plant in my beer pic is mint, and the aroma therapeutic value of sipping my beer next to it is calming my frazzled protected status.

Regardless of what happens with Nate and the King of the Dipshits currently occupying the Oval, I think there is something actionable to be done on a local level. In two recent high profile incidents of hate in Portland, the Portland Police Bureau has failed to act on hate speech. In both situations, they have actually stated that as long as they don’t escalate to physical abuse, their hands are tied.

Further, the officer responding to the incident on Monday said it was “his judgment” whether or not to even take a statement and that he had more pressing calls. That partnered with the reality of Oregon’s Hate Crime Law

is where we have work to do on this issue with Portland Police.

Why would an officer’s judgment call be to err on the side of a vocally abusive person who was so barely in control that his friends had to put themselves between him and his victim?

I think that in this situation as well as similar national situations, we need to err on the side of harshness. Sadly, with a leader that cushions his comments on illegal and violent activity by following up his mention of the guilty party with statements like, “but there’s a lot of people, it could be anyone” or “there’s bad people on both sides” we have our work cut out for us.

Jeepers, that was quite a sentence! And I’ve only just started into the Silver Fox’s beer.

There’s a lot of work to do. Honestly, I loathe spending my time and space on my little piece of the internet talking about this crap.

But, you know what?

I have to.

I can’t say nothing. Remaining silent gives tacit approval to these idiots. And we saw the power of these folks as an energized – or incited – group of people in November of 2016. Lest we forget the warning of the prophet George Carlin

So, I have to write about these things. Even though it weighs heavy in my psyche to do so – incredible beer and mint aroma therapy be damned.

My call to action for you readers is to talk about these things, too. Either to educate the ignorant or energize the apathetic amongst our voting population.

Just.

Do.

It.

Otherwise, we’ll never dig ourselves out of the shituation these stupid Americans have gotten us into.

I’m Mad As Hell…

BikeTown Chronicles #2

Over the past week, I’ve been missing being active as my foot heals up. It’s provided me the opportunity to live actively vicariously through myself…my memories of being outside and active, at any rate.

It’s also gotten me thinking about the unfortunate side effects of getting back on my bike. Back in the saddle, if you will.

The muscle soreness, I look forward to. Achey knees, I’m able to tolerate…literally walking off the cumulative shock in the hours or days after a ride.

That saddle rash, though.

Short of getting a new seat, I’ve done what I can to minimize the occurrence of saddle rash. Wearing fewer layers of fabric to minimize chafe. Wearing the right layers, ie: padded undergear. Post-ride care, including a bag balm, because some remedies have to make you question whether the cost of the cure is worth the cause of the malady.

Kinda like the old chestnut about only sane people questioning their sanity. So when I ask if applying salve to my taint-ish region is a reasonable post exercise recovery…I have to be able to affirm my cycling adventures. It’s not as worth it as it would be if someone else were (gingerly) working the cream into my nether area.

Shush, Diezel.

But, since that’s not a fun part of my cost/benefit cycling analysis – and since today is the first day old leftie is feeling like a ride won’t send my recovery backwards – I move past the potential discomfort into other areas of my recent outdoor adventures.

So I’m co-opting or resurrecting this draft of my second BikeTown Chronicles with a few things further onto the plus side of cycling in order to motivate me back out onto the road this afternoon!

I had gotten to the point where I would remember gloves. Actually, I was pretty proud, I remembered them after my first ride. My forearm soreness was pretty severe after my ride, but in a weird way. I also experienced numbness during and after my ride. I remembered the gloves recommendation from one of The Fabulous Baker Girls, who is an avid cyclist. She swore the padding in the palms of the gloves would reduce, if not flat out alleviate, hand and wrist numbness during my ride.

The fact that I experienced numbness up my forearm after the ride reinforced the need for gloves. I put them inside my helmet so I wouldn’t forget them for my next ride. My hands and wrists still get a little numb during my rides, but not until I’m about 10 miles in. I have a mountain bike, with traditional straight handlebars. I’m sure there’s an alternative bar that would afford me the opportunity to reposition my hands during my rides so that I can reduce this numbness even further, similar to 10-speed handlebars. I just haven’t done any research into those options yet.

Cycling took an unexpectedly social turn on my third or fourth ride of the season when I ran into – more accurately, he “caught up” to me – Casey Adler toward the end of my Springwater Trail ride. How he recognized me from behind, in cycle gear – including a helmet, Mom! – is beyond me. I don’t consider myself to be that distinct looking as to be recognizable from either that angle or at that velocity.

It was a nice surprise, though. We rode the last couple of miles of the trail together, catching up.

Honestly, though, there was a moment where “catching up” turned into “catching my breath”, when I tapped out and told him he needed to talk for a while while I wheezed and listened.

I’m old, I own that!

I hadn’t been in a situation where I needed to be cognizant of sharing the path as we rode two abreast and chatted. I’m usually the grumpy guy muttering “excuse me” as I steer to avoid such people. I was proud of the fact that Casey and I took turns dropping back to avoid colliding with oncoming groups that were also riding side by side, albeit obliviously so. Hell, Casey was even aware enough to see a faster rider coming up behind us and sped up so we were riding single file again so Speed Cycler could pass.

Our social cycling ended abruptly when we realized that Casey was taking a street route – presumably – back to his place in NoPo while I was peeling off to take the Esplanade back toward my place.

After we separated, though, I focused on his casually motivational comment when I asked where he was coming from. He simply said that he’d taken the path out to Boring and was on his way back in. I was inspired because that’s a 50 mile ride for me, probably closer to 60 for him.

It was just two rides after this encounter that I managed – and promptly swore off of – my own half century ride. I know I’ve got another 50 mile ride in me…at some point. I just need to figure out how to incorporate them into my cycling routine, since they are time consuming and do have quite a physical toll.

My Health App and Strava finally synced on this ride, too!

Prior to this, for whatever reason, there had been about a half mile discrepancy. My Health app had been shorting me a half mile in ride and doubling the total mileage post-ride.

Weird.

Interestingly, it had been – and still is – waaaay overvaluing my caloric burn. It measures the energy in kcal units, which as my simple mind understands metrics – is 1000 calories. For the ride above, Strava estimates a 534 calorie burn, while my Health app insists on making that a 534 kcal burn.

Sadly, I don’t see me burning a half million calories in a month of cycling, let alone a single day.

But like I said, maybe calories and kcals are interchangeable and I’m just an idiot on the subject.

Could totally be the case.

There are definitely a few things for me to remember as I psych myself up for a ride today. Negative factors that are beyond my control, unlike padded shorts and gloves.

The ride that prompted this entry originally occurred on Cinco de Mayo. I failed to connect the dots between the holiday and the fun zone idiots I encountered on my ride home along the waterfront. The path along the waterfront is mixed pedestrian, cyclist, skateboarder, roller blader, unicyclyer, jogger, segue rider and any other mode of transport you can imagine. It’s Portland! The city may as well put up bleachers on the path at Gov Tom McCall Park since the path runs between the river and the strip of grass that houses amusement park rides or tents during the many summertime waterfront events. This effectively renders the pathway unnavigable as lower functioning humans are stunned into a slack jawed, mouth breathing and quite stationary existence on the path as they contemplate whether or not to enter.

Sidenote: this is not happening anywhere near the actual entrance to the festival.

Since we are in the midst of Portland’s annual Rose Festival activities, the fun zone is in full swing. Luckily, there’s a path along both sides of the river. I just have to remember to take the right one on my way home!

Hey, did you know that Walkathons are still a thing? Apparently, most of them are in support of Rude People Pride since they seem to block the entire path…prompting me to admonish them to share as I weave and wobble through the crowd.

That said, a Monday ride is a ride free of Walkathons!

However

I need to be careful to time my ride so that I’m back before rush hour for Portland’s bike commuters. This is particularly important while there’s an event at Tom McCall Park since everyone funnels along the east side of the river to get home, bypassing the virtual bleachers on the west side of the river.

Generally speaking, I love catching the worker bee exodus of Portlander cyclists as they leave work for the day when I’m returning from a ride. It reminds me of what a great city Portland is to live in.

The only pinch point is the Steel Bridge.

This bridge was opened in 1912. One has to admit that at 106 years of age, it’s fared quite a bit better than more infamous technological marvels of that same year. Portland has also worked to integrate the bridge into its infrastructure plans to make sure it doesn’t cripple the city’s growth through the years.

Originally, this two-decked bridge carried vehicles on its upper span and train traffic along its lower span. When Portland introduced its commuters to light rail in the 80s, the upper span was repurposed to carry two lanes of car traffic and two lanes of light rail MAX trains. When the Eastbank Esplanade was created, the Steel and Hawthorne Bridges were selected to connect the east and west side waterfronts, each gaining a pedestrian and cycling path. For the Steel Bridge, that manifested in an addition to the lower deck. At about 5 feet wide, it’s half the width of the paths along the waterfront.

For all the ribbing Portland drivers get for being too polite, demonstrated nicely by Portlandia in its “No, You Go” sketch where two drivers at an intersection bent over backward to yield to the other, one of whom didn’t even have a stop sign or signal, the same cannot be said for its cyclist population. Especially bike commuters.

I’ve long suspected that being killed as a pedestrian by a cyclist would be the perfect manifestation of a Red Shirt worthy demise. Little did I realize that cyclists are trying to take one another out, too. During the Cinco de Mayo fun zone-slash-bike commuter rush hour, the Steel Bridge became something of a cycling Thunderdome. As I was crossing over in this last mile of my ~20 mile ride, the path was packed with slow-moving pedestrian and bike traffic.

I’m sure there was a very good motivator for what I experienced on the bridge this day, but all I can muster is either selfishness or straight up idiocy. We riders were all doing a slow pedal across the bridge as we navigated across with our walking counterparts. For whatever reason, an oncoming cyclist decided to pass a mother/father/stroller situation that was walking side by side across the bridge.

Mind you, at around 5 feet wide, this path is barely wide enough to accommodate three people across. This oncoming cyclist – in her irrefutable good judgment – decided rush hour was the day to make this a four person across path by bending the rules of physics.

She was partially successful, this typically stupid American. However, most of her success I attribute to me slow-crashing my bike into the hog wire railing of the pedestrian path. The commotion she caused didn’t cause her to slow down or rethink her judgment whatsoever. To her credit, it also didn’t cause her to speed up, so the chaos she created was maximized.

What a feckless cu…well, you get where that’s going.

So, hopefully the need for editing in this post is minimal, since I’m giving it less than that. You see, I have a 3 hour and 6 minute window for my ride before the bike commuter rush hour starts. I need to run.

Er…peddle.

BikeTown Chronicles #2

PDX Weather…

Life in the PNW is low-key glorious.  We don’t want word getting out and even more people moving here to experience it.  They always bring their hometown tarnish with them and it harshes our mellow just a bit.

Let ‘em scratch their heads in confusion about life here:

Rain.

Without umbrellas.

Great food.

That comes from a truck on the street.

Great coffee.

That’s intimidatingly simple to order.

Beer swilling liberal haven.

Filled with inexplicably fit folk…

Being smart and right burns a lot of calories, m’kay?

Let ‘em think all that crap about us. As long as they stay there and don’t move here.

Come get a taste of the wonder, but be careful how you time your visit.

You can get a great hike in our in the gorge or cascades.

Or

You can watch horrified like the rest of us as our beautiful landscape burns at the hands of some punk.

You can enjoy our tasty brewed treats – caffeinating or intoxicating.

Or

You can question reality – and how strong that beer was – when you (think you?) see one of these characters.

Two of those are undeniably real, the other is a secret.  Not sure whether any of them are actually a reason to stop drinking or a better reason to start.

Again, it’s about timing in the PNW.

Just when you think you know all the potential traps to avoid when planning your exotic getaway to weird Portland, Orygun, you go to your travel agent and say something like, “Um, like we wanna go” – just assuming you’re from the San Fernando Valley for some reason – “for a weekend during Spring Break.  All the locals will be gone, but it’s not as touristy bad as summer will be.” only to find yourself wondering why your Travel Agent is giving you this face.

It’s because you can’t outsmart us.

Don’t.

Even.

Try.

It’s a little known fact that our summers here are simply glorious.

God’s Country.

Lit by the longest, most sunshiny days you can imagine.

An even less known fact is springtime in Portland.  Every year I wait for it.  It doesn’t happen every year, but when it does…it’s amazing!

It’s been on my radar since early this week, when people were talking about snow this coming Saturday – aka: tomorrow, at this point.

I have to check myself when I start to expect it, because you never know it’s coming.

Wrap your mind around this:  all four seasons in one day.

It almost happened yesterday.

I woke up and tried to plan my day’s attire.  Really, the mystery here is what type of outerwear I’m putting over my jeans and tee shirt.  It was 32 degrees.

Winter.

I’d gone in on my usual day off, but ended up arriving a few minutes later than expected.  I’d taken a later train than planned when I’d returned to my condo for an umbrella after hitting the street and discovering rain with drops the size of my head.

Aaaah, Spring.

And, yes.  We locals do use umbrellas.  We aren’t idiots, like the transplant that started that rumor.

I left work and decided that I deserved a margarita.

The Silver Fox joined me for my second and when we left, proving margaritas are a cure for what ails ya – working on my Saturday, in this case, it was sunny and golden bright out.

Summer.

For two blocks.

Then it was sunny and raining out.  It kept getting brighter and the rain got harder.  People were laughing and smiling as they strode the sidewalks of Old Town in the surprise – and gorgeously lit – shower.

“Sunshine drops!”, I yelled out, giddy over the prospect of hitting the weather lottery.

This is why people think we don’t use umbrellas.  You’re out and about and get caught be a sudden shower.  Others might step into a doorway and wait it out, Portlanders relish it and carry on about their business.

I went home and surprised Myrtle doing something she wasn’t supposed to do – sitting in one of my dresser drawers that for sure wasn’t open when I left.

But I was only home to grab a growler so I could get provisions for the evening and hole up for the finale: snow.

I went to the Big Legrowlski to fill up and chatted for a sample or two with one of my favorite Pearl District peeps as she filled my growler with a lusciously light triple IPA.

As I was leaving: hail.

So close.

I woke up this morning to a reminder from Apple and Mother Nature:

PDX Weather…

The New American Psycho

Surprising no one, the way we behave toward one another bothers me.  As the voice of treason, I am not silent about it…pleasing no one.  I’m not any happier about it than you are, trust me.

But you’re either a part of the solution or you’re a part of the problem, right?

I’ve been looking for and ruminating on a root cause for this shift in behavior.

What is the bogey that enabled this new sense of…blithe disregard for each other?

Was it our increasing Short Attention Span?  Were we or are we becoming too SASsy for our own good?

Fidget Spinners, for instance.  I think most of us acknowledged the idiocy of this it toy from last year.  However, did you see parents explaining to their children that this was a stupid toy and a waste of $10?  

No.  No, you didn’t see that.  Because: shut the kid up is more of a parenting agenda than reasoning with ones child or developing critical thinking skills early on by making a child articulate why they want a toy.  Hint: it’s because everyone has one.  How about just making them earn their treats anymore.  

Definitely a part of the problem…but just a symptom, not the cause.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for using this as a tool to soothe a child or adult that pings hard enough on the autism scale that they can actually count the spins.  But face it, that wasn’t the target customer here.

But adults – parents included – have their own fidget spinner:  Pop Culture.

How about that Hozier guy?  Remember him, the Take Me to Church guy?  Good for him, being the “it” artist in 2014/15, replaced midway through ’15 and well into 2016 by Ed Sheeran.  

Poor Hozier…sold some records and then what?  Our collective OCD saw something else shiny and new to distract us.

Poor Ed, too.  Stealing the pop culture crown – only to learn that pop culture is basically a wood chipper when the mob learns you’re a great singer with a mild personality and not the Kardashian-monster-type personality we’ve come to expect of our pop icons.  All this from a guest turn on Game of Thrones, no less…speaking of pop culture run amok.  I don’t watch, but The Fox does and I spent the better part of two years waiting for the GoT shoe to drop whenever I was with him.  

Not just in movies or TV shows we watch or discuss.  The GoT obsession followed us to our local wine bar where somehow we learned that the co-owner and Som extraordinaire dated Jon Snow when she lived in LA.

But it’s not pop culture, again…that’s still just a symptom, methinks.

Ten-ish years ago, a friend of mine said this about relationships:  Relationships happen in the moment – which I believe.  However, he went on to say that you meet someone and hang out and hook up then never leave or nothing happens.

I’m not sure how I feel about that.  I’ve definitely experienced the back half of that assertion, a lot.  But the first part sounds so easy.  And not in a slut shaming kind of way.  The hooking up immediately part is pretty much The Gay Way, but the never leaving part sounds more like a relationship of comfort for a 20-something. I think that is sweet and helpful for providing security while one finds themselves and that these relationships can create some great gay adults – talk about an oxymoron, emphasis: moron – but what about the folks that doesn’t happen for?

Lol.  Ed Sheeran just came on the radio at my coffee shop.

Eventually, I think these people become institutionalized by the hook up and get used to nothing happening after.  They forget their hopes and expectations of more.

Wait for it

Enter asocial media.  The dreaded dating app.  By our gay 30s, we’ve been bred – hush, Diezel – to expect less.  And we’re Americans, so we want as much of whatever we can get as we can get.

Basically, we’re all a bunch of whores self medicating our loneliness with meaningless sex.

But that’s not good enough.  We’re still gay, so we’ve got to make it fabulous and then, beyond reason, this hook up culture of ours becomes aspirational.

JFC.  

Now straight people have hook up apps.  Whoopee!  Everyone can now experience a life of nothing happening.

Great, deep, connective virtual conversations with the one.  The one that you never end up meeting in real life.

Or the one that scratches your libidic – warning: that word has high Chrisism potential – itch and then you never end up hearing from them again.  

These realities happen over and over again and more than people finding reward from this cycle, I hear people giving up.  Returning to a focus on the friends that have been there time and again after either scenario.  That becomes their focus, and it’s not a bad one.  It’s just that – as a too longtime frequenter of bars and clubs…it’s their sole focus.  People are with their friends and they aren’t open to outsiders breaking in.

So…what’s the right balance?  I’d seriously like to know, because suddenly, the only thing happening in the moment is sex with no expectations.  We are becoming hopeless, as hopeless as any other addicts:  either we get our fix and that’s fine, or we go on the wagon and tell everyone about it in an innocently judgy-slash-superior fashion. 

I blame Vegans for that behavior taking hold in American discourse.

While I think this is another symptom of the problem, I think those that break the cycle and change their behavior bring us closer to the cure.

Enter my early morning reading today.  I read this article about a woman who thought she was confronting a Neo-Nazi in a restaurant I’d challenge a Neo-Nazi could scarcely afford.

She wasn’t.

She just didn’t know what the word Luftwaffe actually meant, which was what our alleged Neo-Nazi’s tee shirt was raping her snowflakey eyes with.  Jumping to conclusions – assuming the worst, if you will – she said something.  

Now, im one for saying something.  Kudos for that.  It’s what happened after that leaves her short in my ledger.

As this was happening, the husband of the owner was doing some Snopes-worthy googling and learned that while this is associated to Hitler’s Air Force, the term literally only means “Air Force”.

Not Jew Bombers.

Not Air Hitler.

Just…Air Force.

End of story.

He goes out to soothe the still unfolding shituation, barely getting a couple of words in before our erstwhile Nazi hunter storms out of the restaurant and takes to social media to decry the unfair treatment of our self-appointed hero, being thrown out of Katchka, and all.

Which was barely partly true.

There was a dude there in a tee shirt with a German word on it.

The rest is dramatic hyperbole.

But maybe this isn’t exactly the psychotic behavior that’s been bugging me so much as it is just telling of our decreasing national character.  Maybe it’s just another symptom of the problem that is eluding my pointing finger.

But then, no.  

I check myself by asking, what if we applied character to all of these situations above?

Parents being responsible and shaping their children into good humans instead of placating them and essentially creating a race of entitlement instead of a generation that understands the cause and effect of earning things for oneself.  Bonus points if they also teach them to think critically for themselves instead of simply following the crowd of consumers.

Adults taking that same critical thinking to analyze their in-the-moment self gratuitous acts and determine what the potential ripple effects could be before acting: swiping left or jumping into bed with a stranger.  

“Will this make me a better person?” – No One on Grindr, Ever.

How about our Katchka Failed Hero?  What if Deavon Snoke has stuck around, I posited this morning at coffee.

The Fox – probably spot on – asserted that she’d have endured furtive glances and whispers of other diners for the rest of her meal,

However, I challenge, what if she’d stay-a culpa-ed and bought our Neo-Not-zi dessert or a shot of Katchka’s much lauded horseradish infused vodka by way of apology?

She’d have demonstrated courage and character.  That’s what.

Alas, the only courage she possessed was publicly shaming what turned out to be an innocent person, then cut and ran to play victim on social media, likely damaging the restaurant in the process of showing up her ego.  In doing so, she showed herself to be more bully than hero, a designation that requires no character.

That’s the new American psycho, in my opinion…that right there.  Fuck everyone, so long as we look good.

Katchka by the way – the restaurant from this morning’s readings means “duck” in Ukrainian.  The restaurant’s owner never wanted to forget the word that saved her grandmother’s life.  In fleeing her home in Belarus as the German Exterminators stormed her hometown, she was stoped by a soldier.  She claimed to be returning home to Ukraine and definitively not a Jew. The soldier was skeptical but challenged her with a random test, what is the Ukrainian word for duck?

Luckily, it happened to be the same word in both languages, katchka…and life and death literally became a matter of a trivial coincidence.

The New American Psycho