I live in Portland, Oregon, which mostly receives electrical power from Portland General Electric. Founded in 1888 the company was eventually owned by Enron Corporation from 1997 until 2006 until Enron went bankrupt.
See? I just used a writing technique known as foreshadowing.
Foreshadowing is a literary device by which an author hints what is to come.
By dropping the name Enron, you are now on notice that this story does not bode well. The portends are decidedly not in our favor. It’s time to omen up.
Yes, I’m being mysterious. I’m trying to leave you in the dark. Just like Portland General. Bazinga!
Being a major metropolitan area, the City of Portland is designed with security and reliability in mind. Power outages simply do not happen unless:
- The wind blows up to one (1) mph
- A squirrel gets hungry
- Water magically falls from the sky
- A drunk person, in a trillion-to-one event, rams their car into a pole
Such simple criteria means the city loses power about every 42 minutes. Who knew that cramming 625,000 people in the same area would make stuff happen? Yes, I live in a city where squirrels are frequently blamed for power outages.
At least Portland is safe. No one, not even a terrorist, could ever fuck with this city unless:
- A tweaked out kid needs to take a whiz in a city resevoir
- The wind blows and a branch falls and an entire power grid goes haywire
- Water magically falls from the sky
Portland has many names. The City of Roses. Bridgetown. Stumpdown. Rip City. Little Beirut. PDX. Cloud City. But, during autumn at least, it could also be known as The City of Leaves. (Leaves are the unpredictable byproduct of shitloads of trees.) And the city has a great strategy for dealing with them. “Clean ’em up your own damn self. You want your storm drains to work? Better get on it. By the way, we’re adding a street fee. You need to pay more taxes for this.”
So it rained on Sunday. We were out running errands. We had to retrace our steps. We drove through St. Johns. Then it started to rain. An hour later we went through the same area. It had already flooded the size of Lake Erie. It wasn’t even a heavy rain.
There had been a few brief gusts of wind. So, yeah, the power was already out. We pulled into a bar just as thunderous lightning spooked everyone in the place. They were amazed. Lightning? Wowwee. Perhaps Portland has exactly the power company it deserves?
We continued on our way and that’s when I noticed it. The traffic signals were are dark. None of them were red. None were yellow. None were green.
You know what that means, right? The entire city went Starman on steroids. Perhaps we can add “Starport City USA” to our lengthy list of nicknames?
[Starman is driving the car, and speeds across a recently turned red light, causing crashes for the other motorists]
Jenny Hayden: Okay? Are you crazy? You almost got us killed! You said you watched me, you said you knew the rules!
Starman: I do know the rules.
Jenny Hayden: Oh, for your information pal, that was a *yellow* light back there!
Starman: I watched you very carefully. Red light stop, green light go, yellow light go very fast.
Apparently the collective wisdom of the hipster lumbersexuals in PDX is this: No street light, go very fast.
That’s weird because the law says an unpowered traffic signal is to be treated as a four-way stop. It’s so weird that no one in Portland knew that. Keep Portland weird.
So we sat at an intersection watching an endless stream of cars whiz by at top speed and we never got a turn. To pass the time we celebrated several birthdays. And I plotted revenge. Now I understand where Joker, Riddler and Penguin are coming from.
This may be my last blog post for a while. I’ve decided to keep my computer turned off when I think Portland General will be unable to keep the grid powered. By my calculations that means I’ll have a 42-minute window of electricity per day.
If you invest your suckance
Slyly with a skank
Like a ship run aground
More rewarding than invested in a bank
It will fail to astound
A wallet violently oppressed
And you’ll feel it each time they molest
As your effluence stickily expands
Deftly in the hands
Of the directors
Who invest your liquidity per their horny little glans
So yeah, there was that time I put thousands of dollars in a savings account with that “American” multinational bank. You know the one. Their logo is a red, white and blue
flag credit card. Because nothing is more quintessentially American than, “I want it now. I’ll pay for it with credit.” Hey, let’s make our logo a credit card. That’ll show ’em what we’re really about.
And we fall for it.
Continue reading →
At least in the United States of America people have rights. For those at the lower end of the equity scale, however, the sole purpose of allegedly having rights is so you can feel bad when they are taken away.
Be born. Grow up. Get a job. It’s the American way. And what do you expect in return, besides being subservient to a douchebag, I mean? You expect to be paid. Minimum wage, yo.
We all know the elitists at the top of the equity teeter totter hate minimum wage. People like Michele Bachmann wanted to be a lap dog for these folks. She famously said, “If we took away minimum wage – if conceivably it was gone – we could potentially wipe out unemployment completely because we would be able to offer jobs at whatever level.”
Yeah, if only we could get that minimum wage down life would be better for us all. At $1/hour there would be virtually no unemployment. Hell, at a penny an hour every American could have 10 or more jobs and still not enough money to buy enough food to survive.
Continue reading →
On January 14th The Huffington Post reported that donations made by generous Americans using credit cards to charitable organizations assisting with relief efforts in Haiti were being “skimmed” by credit card companies by three percent.
The Huffington Post said that for every dollar donated about three percent was kept by banks and credit card companies in the form of transaction fees. It was additionally reported that these companies traditionally keep about $250 million from charitable donations annually.
Who knew that profiting from the generosity of others could be so bloody lucrative?
Then, on January 16th, I heard about the issue from MoveOn.org in an email:
But when Americans donate to charity with their credit cards, the credit card companies get rich. In some cases they keep 3% of the donation as a “transaction fee,” even though that’s far more than it costs them to process the donation.
Now the New York Times is reporting that “some” fees are being waived:
After being criticized for siphoning off up to 3 percent of charitable donations for transaction fees, the nation’s largest payment networks — Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover — announced that they would waive fees for some contributions aimed at aiding Haiti in the wake of a devastating earthquake.
The New York Times reported that these transaction fees typically range from 1 to 3 percent.
The Huffington Post also reported that only one time before did the credit card companies waive these transaction fees and that was for the tsunami disaster of 2004.
The rest of the time it is apparently business as usual which means profiting from charitable donations.
So the credit card companies said they’ll waive some fees. Who will do what? Let’s find out (per the New York Times):
- Visa – “would not apply interchange fees, through February, to donations made to a select group of major charities — the names of which were still being compiled — that are providing support to Haitian relief efforts. The company said it would also donate any revenue that was generated by charitable donations related to the Haiti crisis through next month.”
- Mastercard – “would wave interchange fees on relief donations made using United States-issued MasterCards to the American Red Cross, AmeriCares, Unicef, Save the Children and CARE U.S.A.” The article did not indicate a time frame for this.
- American Express – “through the end of February, it would rebate the transaction fees for charitable contributions made on its card directly to the nonprofit organizations listed on the Agency for International Development’s Web site in support of Haiti relief.”
- Discover – “said it was also waiving some fees but did not immediately offer details.”
Wow. What commitment. If that doesn’t warm the cockles of your heart I don’t know what will. Apparently if you contribute to charity outside the bounds of these very narrowly defined exceptions they will still happily gobble up those transaction fee profits. Additionally they appear to be building in time limits on how long they are willing to do this, like a whopping month or two. I guess they figure they’ll do what looks good now in the moment when the public’s eye is focused on them and then go back to normal once this all blows over. It’s true the memory of the American people can be short.
Meanwhile, I’ve lost all “interest” in credit card companies. I already boycott them for financial reasons. Now I have extra incentive. Thanks, evil scum.