Stuck on #PDX
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.
I’m sitting here writing this post in my Kmart underwear … and nothing else. Yes, even though Kmart sucks. Maybe because of it. I gotta be me. We all know how much I enjoy humiliation.
I don’t know much and what I do know seems to be shrinking on an almost daily basis. My existence is increasingly consumed by thoughts regarding my sanity.
For those keeping track the opening paragraph was “underwear” and the follow-up paragraph was “shrinkage.” This is known as a progression of ideas. I’m building up to something. You are wise to still be reading this.
Aside from all that, there seems to be something else going on.
My rate of “Rain Man” moments seems to be on the rise. There’s been an uptick in momentia, if you will.
No, we decidedly do not refer to them as “senior moments.” Despite being a grumpy grandpa and standing on my lawn and yelling at kids, I’m not ready for that schtick just yet. Not while I’m still young and in my prime.
Besides, I’m an excellent driver.
Then I was responsible for a car accident after going to the pharmacy to pick up my “meds.” Oh, shit. Did I just use the word “meds?” This is the end.
So yeah, that happened.
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The Perfect Swarm
It was raining in the canoe on the
bay lake. A hard rain. The kind of rain that encouraged my wife try like hell to bail water with her coffee cup.
Two days earlier…
It was a Friday. The crew and I assembled in the aft quarters to review the weather reports. They said there was a 10% chance of rain on Saturday and a 30% chance on Sunday. We decided to depart on Sunday.
One day earlier…
On one hand it was a good decision to delay because it gave us an extra day to perform dry runs. We ran equipment checks and drills. Our first trip had caught us unprepared. I’d be damned if that was going to happen on my watch.
We took some time on Saturday and got the rigging down to a science. That last portage had almost killed us.
While the canoe was out of the garage, we decided to go home improvement on this old house. For some strange reason we were tired of dry dock consisting of the canoe precariously balanced on the refrigerator and an old bookcase.
How To Have Fun In A Canoe
Lean in the same direction as your companion. This is also known as “swimming.”
A one-hour construction project was about to go 500 percent past deadline.
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Breaking News: Weather affects cars
I remain committed to producing the best quality graphs based on made-up data to support my inane points regarding the issues I really care to rant about.
What does this mean to you? Not much. Hey, just like the local evening news! I think I’m onto something here.
Our top story tonight. Ominous fluffy clouds, pregnant with expectation (and moisture), have birthed innumerable litters of chubby drops that the WeatherTrac9000 computer calls “rain.” These drops are currently on a collision course with the place most of us live. The WeathTrac9000 calls that place the “ground.” We are currently projecting that these drops of mostly water will make the ground “wet.”
We start our exclusive News42 team coverage with Alex on remote location standing by a street. Alex?
…three seconds of awkward silence from Alex as he stares into the camera with a fake grin plastered on his face not realizing yet that he’s already on…
That’s right, Cassandra. Weather is coming to a street near you and it is pissed off. I’ll step aside to see if we can get a shot of this. You can clearly see drops of water hitting this street. And that is creating a dangerous situation that leaves some drivers out in the cold.
Earlier today this was the scene, with street surfaces wet. In one case, we found a car pulled over on the side of the road with its blinkers on. That driver was forced to sit and wait and hope that conditions would improve.
Even worse conditions may already be on the way. For that we go to Marko in the WeatherTrac9000 Weather Center. Marko?
That’s right, Alex. We are currently projecting alternating periods of light and dark at approx. 12 hour intervals until further notice. This means some rain may be less visible at certain times. Viewers are advised to remain on this channel for the latest updates as they become available.
For the intelligence-impaired here’s tonight’s Weather-Pick-Toe-Graph. This patented WeatherTrac9000 system helps those suffering from small brain syndrome to help prepare for the weather. Tonight’s picture: The Gorton’s Fishman in bright yellow slickers including full-frontal hoodie. We’re showing him holding a ship’s steering wheel but you don’t actually have to have one of your own.
For the rest of you I will now show lots of slides and animations and maps and use a lot meteorological words for eight full minutes of our 16-minute broadcast (not counting commercials).
Breaking News: Winter is cold!
Come what may.
This just in: The Earth’s tilt (or spin axis, if you will) is still 23.5 degrees. Ooooh, yikes. That’s a mite chilly, mate. 23 freaking degrees?!? Are we talking fahrenheit or celsius? Either way, that’s colder than [insert your own obscene colloquialism here] in a pickle jar!
That’s pretty damn cold.
Weather segments on the local news have always been a bit extreme, full of histrionics and hyperbole. ZOMG, tomorrow there’s going to be wet, sun, fog, humidity, wind, mist, hail, and, worst of all, clouds. No shit? Really? Ya think?
Tell you what? If you can successfully predict before it happens when lizards will fall out of the sky, wake me up. Okay? Until then? Shut your fucking omen hole.
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Blighters On The Storm
It started like any typical horror story should. “Nordstrom.”
Our friend had driven in to the big city from our former hometown for a quick visit. It turned out to be the rainiest weekend since we moved to Portland, Oregon.
That word is Norwegian, I think, for “mythical beast with huge nords that consumes souls.”
And they wanted to shop at the one that lives in the heart of downtown, by Pioneer Square, where everything happens.
It was a rainy day. I figured at least there was at least a chance the city wouldn’t be nuts.
I was wrong.
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Out in the street in front of our drive was a sawhorse festooned with a garish sign and, get this, a festive baby blue helium balloon dancing playfully in the air.
My wife knows how to throw a party.
“A balloon,” I said. “Where the hell did you get a helium balloon?”
“At the dollar store.”
“Huh. How much did it cost?”
Dripping with more sweat than Mike Rowe driving a Ford Truck, I had just muscled tons of our most useless crap out on the front lawn. My normally well-oiled brain wasn’t exactly firing on all cylinders.
Weird how it was that moment the heavens decided to deluge our asses and stuff. I welled up with despair as I watched the rain beating down against that little helium balloon. I’m proud to say it didn’t fight back much. Soon it lay there, on the ground, like a fresh chunk of roadkill.
It wasn’t a winner, but I knew how to handle that. I dashed out in the rain and pinned it with a “participant” ribbon taken from my trophy collection. It popped and was gone for good.
Our “yard sale” was officially underway.
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