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.
Friday morning my wife and I were in Portland, Oregon, on our way to the zoo. (More on that later.) We had ridden MAX, the light rail system, into downtown and had to transfer lines in Pioneer Square (AKA Portland’s Living Room).
While there, we saw the new Apple store. It was early in the morning and it wasn’t opened yet.
The architecture was Lego Meets Glass. It was a rectangular building with a long back wall covered with assorted goodies and three other walls consisting of giant panels of glass. The simple design spoke of transparency, projecting an airy, light, sense of come-see-what-we’ve-got. Sleek, clear, simple and white. And, although I didn’t know it at the time, there’s also a lawn on the roof.
I said to my wife, “I’ll bet there’s at least 57 iPads in there.” (Homage to Steve Martin.)
Inside one solitary worker sat at a desk feverishly clicking, thinking and doing about Apple stuff.
In front, slowly traversing the entire length of the store at a leisurely pace, were two security guards. They looked bored out of their minds. I forgot to look to see if they were armed, but we are talking about an Apple store, right? The place was obviously where riches were stored.
There’s not going to be an Oceans 7.1.1 heist here today. Not on my iWatch!
Suddenly a man approached the front of the building. The security guards sniffed him but apparently he checked out. He arrived at the front door and waved at the man inside. He was special. He measured up. He got to go inside.
I’d heard that Apple stores have something called a Genius Bar but I didn’t see a single bottle of booze. Hell if I was going there for a drink.
Unfortunately we couldn’t wait around all day. We had a train to catch. Before we turned away I saw a security guard hock up a loogie the size of an iPod Nano and launch it on the shiny white steps. The guards leisurely turned and began shuffling towards each other again. A vision of the North Korea border suddenly leapt unbidden to my mind.
I felt tingles. This portended good. Suddenly I knew the trip to the zoo was going to be something special. Things were happening. We walked a block and waited for our ride while looking at a Nike swoosh symbol the size of the Titanic.
I have to admit: I’m still amazed when I see someone swimming in a pool of their own shit, when they gesture at me and yell, “Come on in! The water is fine!”
I’m as negative and as jaded as they come and this still gets me each and every time. It literally takes my breath away. It literally makes my head asplode.
I guess it makes me feel alive to know I can still be surprised that way.
I met a person the other day and we talked about presidential politics briefly. One of my friends will be pleased to note that she said Obama is a “narcissist.”
“Interesting,” I replied. “What word would you use to describe Mitt Romney?”
“I don’t know that much about him. Isn’t he into Scientology or a Mormon or something?” (This is an exact quote. I am decidedly not comparing those two.)
All hail the era of the informed voter! 🙂
This post isn’t about any single issue or candidate. It’s about the principle of “bias.” Call it what you will. Rose-colored glasses. Wishful thinking. Self-fulfilling prophecy. Whatever the hell it is, it is out there in abundance.
And, I might be biased, but I think my coverage of the topic will be the best ever!
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It’s rare, but sometimes the Abyss has visitors.
We’ve lived in this house for over three years now. Three bedrooms feels like the lap of luxury after our single-wide. Before we moved in, we scouted the house. I brought a tape measure and scoped out the smaller bedrooms. One was slightly larger than the other. I called dibs for my home office. (I was still working at home at the time. Something the Universe snatched away the day after we moved in.) The smaller room went to one of our gerbils that was still home nesting.
Eventually that gerbil moved out and entered his “no permanent residence – mooching” phase. (Where he remains to this day. It’s not a specific place. It’s a state of mind.)
The room he left behind was devastation. Firefighters showed up with sniffing dogs to look for survivors. The Governor declared a state of emergency. The President himself even circled the scene several times in his helicopter while on the way to the links, and although he didn’t land and actually step out, that still held a lot of symbolic meaning for us.
The walls were covered in gerbil spray. As my wife cleaned, she found dishes we hadn’t seen in years, in various states of decay. At last our collection of flatware was almost fully restored. (Many pieces, unfortunately, were lost forever when tossed in the garbage by our disinterested gerbildentia.)
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This is a story that originally broke in Jan. 2010. It’s about a defense contractor that makes rifle scopes used by U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan with references to Bible verses stamped on the scopes. (Disclosure: Wikipedia reports that the company has since discontinued the practice.)
Chapter 4, verse 6 of the Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians reads: “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
So take that, scumbags! We fight on behalf of Jesus Christ. We are holy soldiers.
[The] verse is rendered on tiny letters on the the scopes, made by Wixom, Michigan-based Trijicon, as “2COR4:6” referring to chapter 4, verse 6 of the Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians. Source.
The defense contractor, Trijicon, “has a $660 million multi-year contract to provide up to 800,000 sights to the Marine Corps, and additional contracts to provide sights to the U.S. Army,” ABC News reported.
According to Wikipedia, Trijicon is one of the “Top 100 Contractors Report on the Federal Procurement Data System lists the top one hundred defense contractors by sales to the United States military.”
Trijicon also likes their religious beliefs. I found this on their official web site this morning:
We believe that America is great when its people are good. This goodness has been based on biblical standards throughout our history and we will strive to follow those morals.
Seriously. Who dares to claim the lines between church and state and religion and our military are blurred. Ridiculous!
Trijicon is an American company, based in Wixom, Michigan, that manufactures and distributes optical sighting devices for firearms, including pistols, rifles, and shotguns. They specialize in self-luminous optics and night sights, mainly using the slightly radioactive isotope tritium, light-gathering fiber optics, and batteries. Source.
We make shit that kills people. Praise the Lord!
Long story short, I figured that stuff about “light” was way too tame for a company like Trijicon. We’re talking about exploding someone’s fucking skull with a bullet from 600 to 1,000 yards away. (That’s more than one-third of a mile.) I think we can do better. That’s when I had my idea: A Trijicon biblical writing contest!
“Light upon my scope, oh Lord, grant me the strength for my aim to be steady and true, to smite and vaporize the head of my enemy, in your name.”
“Blessed are the children that spake the Lord’s name with itchy trigger finger, that they shall deliver death unto He most high and behold His kingdom and glory.”
How are your writing skills? Can you improve on these and come up with some of your own? It’s not every day you get to update the Bible!