That’ll Do, Nic. That’ll Do.

If you haven’t watched the movie Pig, stop reading and do it now.

I’m waiting. I’m also not guaranteeing this will be a no spoilers situation. Not sure how I feel, and since I write by the seat of my pants…who knows what will happen in a blog post?

Not me.

I’m usually as surprised as anyone.

Here’s a shorthand of the movie.

Divided by

Plus

Equals

I shit you not. Watch it and tell me I’m wrong.

I watched this today during my “lunch break” with the Silver Fox. I was not prepared for the storyline or the execution.

I’d heard it was one of a couple recent Nicolas Cage films that showed a return to independent versus studio films. And I knew it was filmed in Portland. Let’s face it, I’ll watch any show that was filmed in town.

I love Portland. When the city costars in something, I have to watch it. It’s simply quite beyond my control.

All I knew going into the film is that it starred Nic Cage and had a pig in it. I was all, “Well, that’s Portland enough for me”…but then couldn’t rally myself to a theater to see it in a pandemic. FWIW, Tom Holland couldn’t get my old, gay ass back to the theater, and you can stick your NAMBLA (Google it) jokes in a sock. Suffice to say, it’s been a long road to recovery for this I’ll-see-anything-as-long-as-there’s-popcorn moviegoer.

But this movie brought more than just a weird guy in the forest with a pet pig. It poked fun at Portland’s foodie scene, from the diners to the service industry folk that make it work – at least I hope that underground restaurant fight club scene was tongue in cheek. But then it juxtaposes those scenes with scenes so raw about how chefs create not just food but future generations of chefs and restauranteurs that will make you cry with just a few words.

Then there’s the storyline of the second person you see on screen – and instantly hate. Well, disrespect. Watching the relationship between these two evolve over 90 minutes is amazing.

After the last couple months of TV viewing as a distraction from what I reluctantly call a life…this film is a welcome and quality break.

Did you watch it? Tell me what you thought in the comments. And if you haven’t yet complied with my earlier instructions…the pig dies at the end.

That’s what you get, punk.

That’ll Do, Nic. That’ll Do.

4

There’s a first time for everything, they say.

Sidebar: there will be no sidebar tangent on the whole “they” phenomenon of deferring judgment of our own to that faceless, possibly all-knowing cabal known only as they. But you just know I’m dubious of their wisdom. Especially if they simply turn out to be nothing more than garbage-variety stupid Americans. <gasp>

There does, though, seem to be a first time for everything.

Just about two weeks ago now, I got my first non-5-star ride rating from a passenger.

4.

I was amazed at how much this affected me. I mean…

Out of about 7300 rides at that time, one measly 4-star rating. I couldn’t tell if it was the loss of my 5-star streak after almost two and a half years (August 2019-December 2021) or the overwhelming randomness of its presence against over 7000 other ratings.

I mean, I know not everyone bothers to rate me after a ride. In those instances, my rating defaults to a 5-star automatically.

Maybe it was that she chose to click a box to support her rating.

Unsafe Driving.

Yeah….that was probably it.

I’m not meant to know who these ratings or comments come from. But this was a particularly gnarly week. It was the holiday week. And it snowed.

Of course, that created some shitty driving conditions. Particularly since the snow followed a day of rain where about 2” fell before sundown and carried on into the night. Snow was really only falling in the higher elevations…y’know, like 500 feet.

That’s high elevation for Portland!

But on Highway 26, coming into town, that created a real shit show driving situation.

That highway is a steep grade down hill into town – heck, out of town for that matter…I’d hydroplaned going uphill on this freeway on my way to the pickup. That takes some doing.

I digress. Water was running across the lanes and down hill, then running even deeper with traffic where tires had grooved each lane. It was like a liquid tic-tac-toe board.

Since we were still at about 400 ft above sea level and a good 150 ft above the valley floor, there was snow coming down with the rain. But not just any snow. It was big, wet flakes. Like Mother Nature’s minions had confused Portland’s weather with their children’s home room winter decor.

Seriously, these snowflakes looked like they were cut out of construction paper by second graders, they were so huge. When they hit the windshield, they made an audible thwack.

It was no Snow Falling On Cedar moment,

Highway 26 is also windy – in both senses of the word, but in this case you just need to know it was twisty and turny. Did I mention we were heading downhill?

Even going only 40 mph, I hydroplaned. Twice.

And this is the weather this suburbanite chose to go into town in.

Lucky me, I got to drive her.

And then she said my driving was unsafe.

Girl, your judgment is unsafe!

Best part? She tipped me!

That’s what really made her stand out. I knew it was a white knuckle ride. Mainly because I’m referring to my own knuckles! But I remembered seeing the tip and thinking that was really generous of her, given the hairy road and weather conditions.

Then she fucked me in the comments.

It wasn’t that big a tip.

Anyway, the app itself does a fairly good job of building in an occasional rogering for us drivers, too. In this case, it’s that we don’t see individual ride ratings, we get a weekly recap about nine days later. That means that I’ve given between 50-100 rides between the time someone rates their ride and I see the recap.

But! There’s an appeal process.

All I have to do is scroll through my history to the ride in question, mind you, this is all we see in our ride history

No addresses, rider names, rating…just the date, time and earnings. So, sure…let me scroll back through the rides for that day – I give 20-40 on Fridays and Saturdays – and take my best guess and then tap “I Was Rated Unfairly”. I can narrow it down by filtering out the riders that didn’t tip, but I’m usually getting tips from 40-60% of my riders, so of the 15 rides I gave that night during that nightlife ride window, I’m still gonna have to take my best guess out of about nine possible rides.

Nine days later.

On the plus side, the app does default to a 5-star rating if the passenger does nothing. And it’s not like I’m really suffering…

I mean, roughly 20-25% of my passengers enjoy the ride with me enough to bother to tap a button telling Lyft I’m friendly or go above and beyond during their ride. Hell, 1445 riders tapped a button saying I’m a good driver.

So, why let one rider out of 7300+ get under my skin?

I dunno. Maybe they are right. Maybe with me, it’s always gotta be something.

But, honestly? I think it’s C-PTSD. My therapist talked a little about this with me during my too-brief mental health tune up this past summer when Black Sheep Bro came prodigally back.

I can’t let go of something that’s wrong. Not easily, anyhow. It’s why I left my last professional job, and why I left my part time gig with Amazon. Not to mention one of my temp jobs – credit to me, though, I finished the assignment but passed on the request to extend when the owner asked for me to stay longer.

All of those situations had me in places where I was witnessing bad behaviors from leadership. I had to go. That’s my trigger, bad behaviors. Specifically, people getting away with them. Especially if that creates a double-standard.

This? This was just one passenger prioritizing Saturday night fun (or whatever night it was) over personal safety and then making it my problem/fault she felt unsafe. And tipping me to cushion the blow.

Or at least that’s how my mind spins the blanks that it fills in. Blanks that are created by the absence of immediate feedback.

Whaddyagunnado, though, right?!?

Normal People: Fuggeddabowdit!

Me: …

I tried to shake it off. Carry on like normal. Move on.

How that manifested in the doldrums between Christmas and New Years, though – when ride demand is down because people are holed up with family, not to mention the exacerbation Omicron added to the mix – was me trying to soldier on but failing to be busy enough to distract myself from the trigger.

I went out Monday to do some afternoon/rush hour rides. Because New Years weekend was so slow – seriously, NYE was a Friday and it’s typically my biggest night of the year…I did half the business I do on a regular Friday night! – so I quit “early”. After the ball drop, before last call. So, I had three make up rides to pick up in order to true up my Lifetime Rides number.

What? I like it to end in a 5 or 0. That’s not weird. It’s tidy. I’m fastidious!

Sheesh.

I was in my third make-up-rides ride, trying to decide how awful long another five rides would take – those three put me at the two hour mark, usually I do 3-4 rides in one hour – when one of my drinking buddies texted me. I saw the preview drop down from the top of my phone, “Tanner Creek at 530?”

Fuck, yeah! That was a much more therapeutic better use of my time!

The next day, I got my 4-star ride. I didn’t drive again until Friday. Outside of my vacation in October, I hadn’t taken three days off in a row since…I don’t even know when! In non-challenge weeks (where I drive about 25-30 hours), I’ll take three days off, sometimes even four. Just not together.

I didn’t get out of bed until after noon each day, including Friday. That was the week of bad Bruce Willis flicks where I stayed up until daybreak at least twice. I over ate, over drank, smoked too much weed and didn’t exercise at all.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give that week a…4.

But I came out the other side of it, so there’s that. Note to self: I gotta stop letting things get corkscrewed up into my psyche.

4

Must Distract TV?

I freely admit that my TV watchlist is certainly no “Must See” NBC Thursday Night Lineup, but a good many of the programs that streamers have put in front of me lately are barely presenting as fodder to keep me…let’s call it sedated.

While, not great shows for a variety of reasons, they are at least doing a fair job of keeping me disengaged from the surreality of the world around me. I can’t say that’s their explicit intent, but that assumption just seems slightly more generous than declaring them simply bad shows.

A sampling:

Leverage: Redemption

Maybe my memory of the original run of this show being “good” is clouded by the reality that it was shot in Portland. Maybe I’m just old and forgot that I didn’t like it originally, but tolerated it – see also: my first point.

Woo-boy, though. Lemme tell ya, the reboot sucks. Hard. Unless the point of the reboot is to showcase these actors’ skill in reading a line, then this is just painful to watch. And back to that whole “bad memory” possibility? I seem to remember thinking Noah Wylie could act at one point.

Just goes to show that acting is not like riding a bicycle…

Elite

Soapy and schmaltzy, this show is pure, dubbed brain candy. With a healthy side of nudity – which if I didn’t know these actors playing high school students were in their mid/late 20s, would make me feel weird. And since – as I pointed out to the Silver Fox – the nudity has a hearty, if not almost exclusive boy-butt-focus, that weirdness could be assuaged by handing me a priest’s collar, I’m willing to absolve myself.

And, boy…there sure are a lot of murders at this high school.

Grace & Frankie

I know…calling a show with such overt gay themes makes me a traitor to my own community. Again.

Me, the Voice of Treason.

But, again…it’s older actors demonstrating they can read a line off a cue card. Some of the writing is funny. Some of the scenarios are kooky fun. But it’s a little late in the game to reinvent the whole Lucy/Ethel trope which this show leans so heavily upon.

At this point, I just think it’s just Netflix pandering to older audiences to keep them engaged with Netflix as a viewing platform. If that’s the case, at least they are doing so with story lines designed-ish to appeal to younger, woke audiences: like the late in life gay story arc. In that regard, if they succeed with drawing Boomer and Greatest gen viewers, they are also engaging them with potentially mind expanding content.

There is a certain value to that.

The Snarky Car Insurance Commercial:

This was a surprise to me. But it’s a tip of the hat to the ridiculous horror movie writing paradigm.

Two couples run out of a corn field. One guy suggests they hide in the cellar, his girlfriend counters with the attic. A crying girl suggests they just hop in the already-running car, while her boyfriend popularly points out they could just hide out behind the wall of also-running chainsaws.

A masked man with dubious intent slowly shakes his head.

The voiceover states “When you’re in a horror movie, you make questionable decisions…”.

And when Americans are in lockdown, apparently, we do as well…medicating with stupid soapy TV (and plenty of booze, I’m sure) to make our way through.

As far as this commercial goes, though…can we just disable celebrating stupid? It’s like we learned nothing from 20+ seasons of Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Stupid people are not entertainment. If we can’t use the word retarded to describe stupid people, let’s stop airing what equates to mutually-exploitative content featuring people with intelligence that…has not progressed in pace with the majority of people of similar age. TV like this, celebrating vacuous nitwits has just seemed to drag its audience of already stupid Americans down to their level.

It’s weird, I started this post as a draft in October! Then, in typical creative old Xtopher fashion, abandoned it. But this week I realized that my TV viewing hasn’t necessarily improved over the past quarter.

Sure, there were some standout binges with – and thanks to for making the content decisions – the Silver Fox on several of his trips up from his self-imposed exile in the hinterlands of Oregon. Shows that were new seasons of proven winners like Hanna and Lost In Space. Or the coming tomorrow new season of Euphoria.

Then again, I only got sucked into Elite as a result of his content suggestions, so…<shrug emoji>

On the other hand, though, lay my own questionable decisions. Decisions that are either better or worse since they are movies versus entire seasons of TV shows, so at best I’ve only lost a couple hours.

Right?

Nah.

Because it started with an innocent viewing of Divergent after a late dinner earlier this week. But then I proceeded to immediately watch the next two movies in the trilogy, resulting in a 6 AM bedtime. That’s right, I pulled an all-nighter for a Young Adult movie series.

Blame it on the imminently watchable but better on low volume Theo James.

The worst part? I couldn’t immediately fall asleep because I couldn’t figure out if I disliked Shailene Woodley more than Jennifer Lawrence from the Hunger Games movies. I fell asleep at least knowing that I like Hunger Games more than these movies…

As a palate cleanser, I decided to watch 12 Monkeys after reading an article about Bruce Willis’ “19 Best Movies”. Plus, I missed my annual Christmastime viewing of Die Hard (#2 on the list, BTW). I remember thinking, “Well, he’s made way more than 19…” and then got distracted by not being able to find 12 Monkeys for free on any of my streaming apps. Having just spent ~$15 getting burned by renting the Divergent movies, I decided it was best to try to scratch my Bruce Willis itch with a free movie. On the plus side, it was less than 90 minutes long, so I’d be on with my day in no time!

Nothing. No satisfaction whatsoever. A Bruce Willis Itch FAIL. And, that was 90 minutes of my time I wasn’t getting back. Lesson learned: when Willis isn’t the top billed actor in an action movie, that’s a red flag. So the next day, on to another.

I began to wonder if this guy ever actually made good movies. When you read in the trivia section of IMDb that Willis shot all of his scenes in one day…maybe don’t let your curiosity get the better of you.

It’s like I didn’t believe myself when I said “If Willis isn’t the top billed actor in an action movie, that’s a red flag”. Maybe this just proves that old actors reading lines isn’t limited to just TV series.

Or maybe it proves that I didn’t want to watch 12 Monkeys so much as I wanted a shot at seeing Brad Pitt drop trou. Hard to say. I did finally manage to scratch my Bruce Willis cinematic itch by watching Looper. Now, that was a hidden gem. Or one everyone else knew about, but I missed. And with Joseph Gordon Levitt as a co-star, I got a collateral Hollywood Heartthrob fix to satisfy the Brad Pitt’s naked butt quotient.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go read a book.

Must Distract TV?

I Can Do It. I Can Have It All!

Not to steal Liz Lemon’s thunder, but…I can. The Silver Fox even said so.

What is “it all”?

Well, nothing but kind of everything? Situationally, to me, at least.

First, there’s the Dry Happy Hour that I call work. Driving for Lyft. Seriously, I just sit around and chat with strangers. How is that work? Legitimately, if we had drinks it would be exactly what I do at Happy Hour when my friends aren’t around to join.

Well, I’ve struggled to get my mojo back since vacation in early October. I usually put in around 25 hours a week, but the second a third weeks of October, I didn’t always manage that. Plus, before vacation, I’d been putting in more hours to allow me to save for…a new condo next Spring.

I’m no longer sure that’s my goal, and I know that is part of my recent apathy: no clear goal. So the bonus that Lyft runs occasionally was a welcome jump start at the end of October. It’s an up to $377 bonus for giving 135 rides in a week. It usual means a 45-50 week of driving.

Then there was this day to ice that cake:

Yeah, I drove all night on October 30th and earned $1031! Not bragging, specifically, but I’m too amused y earning “Halloween” dollars on Halloween Eve.

Then Lyft dropped the same bonus for a second consecutive week. I was pretty wiped out from last week and only managed 16 rides Monday-Thursday. I’d kind of resigned myself to not meeting the 114 ride minimum threshold for the first tier bonus. Then I had an epic Friday night, where I “one more ride”-ed myself to a personal record of 40 rides in one night and suddenly the first tier was within my grasp.

Gotta love rainy weekends for lots of short rides.

I’m on my way out to wrap up the final 24 rides…but then I saw this in my app this morning.

A third week?!? Here’s what I sent to The Fox that prompted his all-caps support.

Ten thousand dollars in four weeks? It’s within reach, and would certainly help me get October’s derailing back on track.

Except

There’s the whole exercise thing. Since getting my Peloton, I’ve managed to work out about 5 days a week. Even during my vacation! But looking at my October results, you can see the struggle.

Ugh.

So my balancing act challenge has been to get in some exercise and drive. Pretty achievable…except October.

And now I think I can add in a third objective: NaNoWriMo.

Oh, the absolute hubris.

Fifty thousand words on a novel project in the month of November. I sat it out last year – because I struggle to do anything that I think of as “work” at home.

Writing straddles that line between work and hobby.

Blog? No worries.

Novel? Nah, that’s work…other people make money doing that type of thing.

But, while I haven’t been able to manage working on any of my story ideas at home, I’m capable of kicking around ideas all day long, no matter where I am. I hit the ground running – kinda, you should read that as proChristinating – with NaNoWriMo. Five thousand words in the first two days. Then I got back into gear with driving on Friday and have only added a couple thousand words since then.

It’ll come back, though. I wrote 50k on my first NaNo in two weeks. I’ve still got three weeks left in November, so I’ll definitely get across that finish line.

But the next week is gonna be a frenzied hell trying to manage all three of these goals.

Remember, though…I CAN HAVE IT ALL! At least for a week.

I Can Do It. I Can Have It All!

Conversations With My Cat

Me: Is that you or me that smells like cat poop?

Mistress Myrtle: I think it’s you.

Me: And I think it’s you, Myrt.

Mistress Myrtle: <gazes at me inscrutably>

Me: So, you admit it was you? <sits up>

Mistress Myrtle: <continues staring>

Me: Oh, god…you were right. What did I eat?!?

Mistress Myrtle: How did you not even realize you farted, Stoopid Hooman?!?

This is pretty much the disdainful regard that I expect my cat holds for me. Despite, it seems, a post-vacation affection she also seems to be displaying.

Like, we’re talking daily cuddles versus the pre-vacation quarterly allotment I was afforded. It could be a throwback reflex to her early childhood abandonment issues.

I was, after all, her fourth home when I adopted her at a year and a half of age.

Still, if that were the case – gratitude at my tolerance for her return-to-the-pound-worthy behaviors, why not have graced me with these cuddly rewards earlier in our going-on-six-year relationship?

The answer?

Tortitude.

That’s like catitude on steroids.

Torties are notoriously and viciously psychotic.

Psycatic, if you will.

So I’m reveling in this abandonment-flashback-induced post-vacation affection that I’m receiving.

To wit:

<End photo dump>

Mind you, this is against the backdrop of the Silver Fox’s caretaking. He seemed proud that my dire warnings of Myrtle’s Protest Poops seemed unfounded. A smug security that lasted only until Day 5 of his sentence tenure feeding my lil beast. Then he contritely provided photographic evidence of his dethroning as a special human in Myrtle’s estimation.

Ironically, in a post-vacation conversation, he also divulged his slight concern that she only peed once while I was gone. I was all, “No, Boomer, she peed. She peed…” knowing that this damn cat of mine prefers peeing in carpets versus in her box.

Specifically, area rugs. I’ve gone through three area rugs, a hallway runner, my neighbor’s doormat, a bathroom rug and a bath mat. Having removed all common area rugs from my condo and kept the bathroom door consistently closed, I had foolishly thought myself out of the woods.

Alas, the rubber-ish sweat mat under my Peloton seems to work just fine for her in whatever she perceived as a pinch. I’m a crazy twist, her litter box in a foot away from my exercise bike.

But, to let me know that I’m still at the top of her disdain list, she gifted me this little Myrtle Bomb 30 hours after I returned.

And, yes…she bothered to do this while I was home.

I’m going to eat some therapeutic junk food…

Conversations With My Cat

People

…and other petty nuisances.

I kid, it’s just people this time. Or…once again?

I gave up on finished my driving “shift” earlier than I anticipated tonight. Usually, when I drive on Friday or Saturday, I’ll do “doubles”, meaning I’ll go out for ten rides early in the day, take a break and then go out for another ten later to get the Party People to the places they need to be. I’d planned to drive a double today, since it’s a holiday weekend and most folks are off tomorrow. But a regular ten usually takes about three to four hours. However, today that ran to five hours and I’m just kind of done. Thankfully, they were long rides, but since I had an idea of how my day would go – drive, home to exercise, second shower, eat and then drive some more – and that went off the rails, I decided to call it at 8 o’clock and catch a beer at my local, since they are closed tomorrow.

I walked in and there were two parties waiting for tables, no surprise. There were five stools at one of the corners of the bar – two on one side and three on the other – so I walked in and casually placed my order before my butt hit the stool.

I’d chosen the stool closest to the walk-through into the bar area, which was on the three stool side. My beer lands in front of me, I grind some salt onto my napkin/coaster to keep it from sticking to my glass as take a therapeutic lil sippy-sip.

Immediately, my bladder whispers “Hey, remember me?”, so I anon to the can to decant.

I return to find one of the waiting couples has wised up and decided to eat at the bar versus waiting for a table to open up.

Geniuses. Genii? I dunno, let’s go with geniuses.

Not so smart, mind you, that they’d each taken a seat on the corner so they can look at each other without craning their necks, as the Silver Fox and I do. Also, not so considerate that they sat on the two-stool side.

Yup…they chose to sit right fucking next to me. Now, because of COVID, they pulled the stools away from mine, so partial credit, but…still! You know what’s further away than pulling your stool away from mine? Sitting at the other two damn barstools!

People…<facepalm>

To make this perfectly horrible, the woman decided on the fish tacos, which I find particularly – and poorly – fragrant. Ugh.

I would like to assert that misophonia is contagious and mine has spread from my ears to my nose. The smell of these fucking tacos makes me mad. I suggested to the owner that he raise the price to steer people toward other menu items. Surprisingly, he didn’t agree with my logic.

Now, for the short observation behind this post.

Have you ever noticed the inverse nature of the relationships people have with their horn and their turn signal?

Seriously, I swear it’s a thing – and this is coming from a native Portlander, a city frequently called out for its bad drivers.

When someone wants to switch lanes, you can count on at least one tire to be in your lane before their turn signal is even activated. They’re changing lanes before signaling their intent…almost as if no one taught them the proper order. Let alone the entire process, teaching them to check their blind spots and then signal their intent before changing lanes.

<blink>

That’s right, then it’s literally one blink. I liken that to a civilized one-finger salute.

Conversely, let’s say you’re driving along and inadvertently make an error. Not letting someone zipper in on a merge lane, stopping too fast for a pedestrian…whatever, nothing life or death is what I’m saying.

Oooh, let the horn leaning begin!

These people, these fine, upstanding folk that will retroactively inform you of their intent to change lanes will honk like it’s literally a life or death situation.

What gives?

How can people who are so blithe about their responsibility to others be so egregiously offended when the same happens to them?!?

I ask here, because I assume it’s a safe space. At least a physically safe space. I know the interwebs can be a mentally abusive space.

This, by the way, comes from the guy who was menaced on the freeway today as he watched a motorcycle rider zig-zag in and out of traffic in his rear view mirror for about a half mile. Then he whipped right around me in a matter of seconds. As he passed, I saw his holstered handgun sticking out from under his jacket.

I guess when you drive like a jackass, you need some kind of backup. God bless the Second Amendment…

People

Upcoming Mask Mandate

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

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

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

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

Almost.

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

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

So selfish.

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

At least I’m the businesses I regularly frequent.

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

Selfish animals, we are.

Upcoming Mask Mandate

I Joined A Cult

What? I’ve had free time, what did you expect an unsupervised, grumpy, old Xtopher to do…watch Mrs Doubtfire until 3 AM?

Ok, I did that, as well.

Phair warning, Fill – wait, that doesn’t look quite right – you might want to stop reading now. Just this post, though…tune in again next week.

I bought it. I’ve talked about it a little here before with mixed to neutral reactions…but I bought a Peloton.

Because it’s me…well, several things:

Alpha) I bought it used, because I’m cheap – which goes well with me being poor. Well, poor for a gay white guy. Privilege acknowledged.

Beta) I picked it up and took my first ride on April 1st…again, because it’s me and my fucked up sense of humor wouldn’t have it any other way.

Gamma) Crap. I’m having a C.R.S. moment…hopefully, it comes back to me in proof mode.

I’d planned this post for the first of July, just to give it a quarter to get some results under my belt. Then I lost 20 lbs in my first month of riding and could barely hold back posting about it then.

Luckily, my natural apathy and proChristination allowed me to resist that impulse.

But I really felt I needed to give myself a full quarter to develop consistent habits. Seemed fair enough, since I’d been holding the purchase out as a reward for consistency on my New Year’s Resolution of being more active and eating better.

Oh, it’s back!

Gamma) Since I am a grumpy, old man, I wasn’t going to wait 60 days for delivery. I was low-key scouring Craigslist for a used bike to jump the line. Like hell I was joining a club with a waitlist. I don’t do lines.

Anyhoo…slap my ass and call me a meteorologist, because I manifested a perfect storm. I got my bike without waiting and saved $800 by getting it second hand. The poor schlub I bought it off had decamped to his house in Hawaii over the pandemic and couldn’t find a moving company to take his bike from the she-she West Hills to Hawaii…so he just bought a new bike to be delivered there.

Glad I don’t have his unmitigated gall problems.

So, like I mentioned, I dropped 20 lbs in the first month, which I was very happy with. Month two got me to the right (for me) side of 200, which made sense as I started putting mean mass back on in my lil toothpick legs.

Definitely a trajectory I wouldn’t mind holding. That, of course, put me at my colonoscopy month. If you know the prep routine, you know…if you don’t know, I won’t ruin the surprise.

I didn’t expect to hold this weight – again, if you know… – but I could see it on the horizon. Today’s weigh-in put me right at 195.

Not a lot of wiggle room. But I’m getting plenty of salads and veggies – by comparison to the Before Diet, I’m sure my doc and mother would still happily see me eating more – so I expect between that snd continued consistency, sub-190 weights are within reason over the next 2-3 months. It would be great if I could get into the 180s by the six month mark.

See, we shall, hmm?

It’s been a fun <ahem> ride this far. I’m still excited to get on my bike, whether it’s participating in the monthly challenges, following specific crushes instructors, taking Artist Series rides or just the dreaded schlep to the scale that gets me there is a variety I can appreciate. Keeps my motivation from stagnating.

For instance, the first month I rode, I focused on getting Gold Medals in the Miles Rode and Days Active challenges. The thresholds are 50/100/150 miles ridden and 10/15/20 days active. Even taking Bronze in either is a win for anyone, regardless of one’s fitness level.

Month two, I was focused on streaks. In April, I managed a couple low streaks of active days. This was mainly due to my focus on riding versus other classes offered. They offer strength, stretching, yoga, boot camp and…probably some I forgot. In month two, I made sure to add in some strength and stretching classes. And I really needed the stretching! This also enabled longer active days streaks. I set a goal to get to a 10 day streak, and then took a couple days off and went into a 20 day streak.

Which took us to month three. And I’m just gonna say that a 20 day streak may have broken my mojo a tad. My active days dropped by half in July. But like I said, a Bronze Medal in my monthly challenges is better than nothing.

But after a month of “rest” – ie: active 14 days instead of 26 – I relearned something. Rest is a good thing! For the first week of August, I PRed four times out of four active days.

Apparently, not resting on my laurels equated to…

And, yeah…

So, between joining Peloton and doing an Artist Series ride featuring Justin Bieber music…I’d say I joined at least one cult. But considering I’m a native Oregonian, I could have done worse.

Again, if you know

Alright, now that I’m “out” about it, I’m accountable to people other than my own inner voices – who are also totally real people. Even if that also means getting filleted by Phil in the comments. Hehe…I’ll take it, because that also comes with the Silver Fox telling me that if I lose any more weight, I’m gonna need new clothes. Better that than the reality that I had one pair of jeans and two pairs of shorts that fit at the beginning of April…and a whole drawer of tee shirts that didn’t fit. Still working on the fit looking good, but I’m enjoying the “fresh” wardrobe options after burning 30 lbs.

I Joined A Cult

Bright Side

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can you believe that was the short answer?

Here’s a little more context.

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

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

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

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

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

“Quit” – the Silver Fox

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

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

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

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

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

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

Totally a fair trade!

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

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

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

I got home at 4 AM.

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

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

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

Really pissed.

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

This curveball surprised me.

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

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

Bright Side

The Silence of the Ham

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

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

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

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

This child was more excited than the Silver Fox

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

The Facebook Story:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Subtle, right?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ok…wow.

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

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

Not only did that story go over his head…

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

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

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

Yeah, I went there.

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

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

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

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

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

Naive.

Maybe a little lazy brained…but not stupid.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Silence of the Ham