Tag Archives: street

Stuck on #PDX

portland-power

Portland motorists confused by a power outage.

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.
–Wikipedia

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]

Starman: Okay?

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.

Tales of the Moved

movingAnd now a few exciting storyoids from the Mover’s Notebook…

The greater the change, the greater the likelihood it will stab directly into your heart like a stiletto and abscond with your life.
–Tom B. Taker

As some of you may already know, my wife and I recently made a big move. Excepting a trip to Mars (where I’m currently on file as a one-way volunteer) it ranks as pretty substantial as far as moves go. We went from the quiet rural lifestyle of a tiny goat farm in the Himalayas and a village of 42 souls to one of the most urbane existences possible in the heart of a big city: Portland, Oregon.

What follows are a few of our observations and experiences.

Free Parking

I hate people who think they are above the law. How rude! Such bad form! Like people who park in the fire lane to use the ATM rather than walking the 20 feet from a legitimate parking space. Or people who say they made charitable donations on their tax returns when they really didn’t. I loathe and despise that sort of thing.

People who park on the wrong side of the street also make that list.

Yet here, in Portland, there’s so much of it that it’s hard to imagine that it’s actually illegal. In fact, it almost seems like parking on the wrong side of the street is the norm and parking legally is the aberration. It’s that prevalent.
Continue reading →

Misguiding In Cars With Boys

120920-texting-pedestrian-kb-150pGuru Death Theory states:

Transportation increases the odds of accidental fatalities. However, remaining stationary does not reduce the odds to zero.
–Tom B. Taker

In other words, getting from Point A to Point B can be inherently dangerous. Any method of transportation that moves your body through the physical universe increases the chances you’ll take it in the shorts. The moment you begin to move your odds of dying increase. This can take many forms. It may be a flight from Los Angeles to New York City. It might be your morning commute to work in your car. Or it could be as short of a journey as stepping into the bathtub. Or even just getting up out of your chair.

Cheery, eh?

So you might think to yourself, “I’m not moving. I’m going to sit right here and remain safe.”

A nice thought. Except that death may still find you.

For example, you could be on the bed in your very own home when a sinkhole suddenly opens up and you’re just gone. Or, ripped from the headlines just yesterday, you could be standing in your home when the ceiling violently gives way from the impact of a jet aircraft. There are no reports of deaths on the ground in this latest incident, but a young boy did get nicked on his forehead. Come to think of it, the last time I wrote about this theory, I used the example of a jet aircraft engine landing on a house. As always I hate being right.

Being alive can be dangerous.

Maybe it would be a good idea to go for a walk, clear my head and think things over. (Hint: It’s not.)
Continue reading →

WSJ Asshole Hotline

simpsonswsjI love having a brain that is capable of critical thought. Every once in a while a little moment comes along where it kicks in and I’m actually proud of myself. Don’t worry, these moments pass quickly and are soon forgotten.

They say, “Don’t believe everything you read.” Or, “I know it’s true ’cause I saw it on TV.” We all like to act like those truisms don’t apply to us. Only those other lemming idiots. Never us. Yet we fall for it all day long. True moments of “question everything” are few and far between.

I was on my break. In front of me was the day’s Wall Street Journal. Naturally, since he’s a primetime asshole, it’s one of the boss’ favorite publications. You can tell by the level of crumplage and how the pages are strewn about which pages have been read and which ones haven’t. He typically digests the thing in several sittings.

There, on the front of a section he hadn’t gotten to yet I saw the headline, “How To Be A Better Boss in 2013.”

Uh oh. I better check this out, I thought. If it’s really bad I can throw it away and he’ll never know the difference. The last thing I need in my life is the fucking WSJ filling my boss’ already tainted mind with even more evil.

I picked it up and started to read.

“Holy mother of God.”

Continue reading →

Weed Oasis [Nature Photograher]

I rather like this shot. I used an iPod with the sun behind me and to my right. Logistically I had to hold the iPod far to my right to avoid my shadow in the shot and I could barely compose because sunlight was reflecting from the display directly into my eyeballs. To complete my bitching, the way I was holding the iPod made it very hard to touch the button to take the shot.

I ain’t sayin’ this is a work of art but I still like how it turned out. For once one of my pictures actually tells a “story,” something that has been beaten into me repeatedly. What the hell. At least it ain’t another sign shot! And for those of you who thought this photo might be some other kind of “weed” oasis I offer my apologies for wasting your time.

I originally shared this photo on Twitter under the title, “Miracle of Life.”

Weed Oasis

The street smarts

We all know what they say about business. “Location, location, location.” It’s the subtle way of saying that location is important.

What you may not know is the next thing that makes merchants froth at the mouth.

Parking, parking, parking.

Froth is an understatement.
Continue reading →

I’d buy that for a penny! #WSJ

How WSJ advertises their iPhone app

How it actually appears (unpaid version) on my iPod

For some time I’ve been meaning to do a post about the Wall Street Journal app on my iPod. I think it was back in July 2011 when I took the screenshot shown above (on the right).

Notice what is peculiar about it? Here’s a little hint:

Without further ado, here are some excerpts from my official review of the WSJ app for iOS devices.

It’s the best goddamn app for showing locked content (keys) that I’ve ever seen in my whole fucking life.
–Tom B. Taker

Seriously. If you love little key icons you’re going to love this app.
–Tom B. Taker

This app will make you lose your shit. If you can unlock anything in it, that is.
–Tom B. Taker

Finally! The Wall Street Journal has taken the time-honored model of frustrating customers and achieved sublime perfection.
–Tom B. Taker

So many keys – you’ll think you’re on a vacation in Florida! And that’s an economical vacation!
–Tom B. Taker

I’d post the review in full, but unfortunately that is restricted content. Lucky for you it’s only $9.99. Send me your credit card information and I’ll pass it along.

Now obviously I could pay money and remove those little locked icons. How much would you pay? Well, for that priviledge the WSJ wants $1.99 a week. (That’s about $103/year.) Or you could get the actual print version delivered to your door six days a week for $2.29 a week. (About $119/year.)

Yep. That’s right. Go online and save the trees, gas, and cost of paying a human being to schlep a physical object to you and you’ll save a whopping 13 percent. Erm, 13 percent? Say what?

Yes, here we have the WSJ model that web content should be almost the same price as traditional distribution.

Now how much would you pay?

Wait! Before you answer, check this out. What if you could only pay one penny? Then would you be interested?

In a story this morning The Guardian reports on a WSJ scam that cost an executive his job. (Is The Guardian one of the hundreds of media owned by Rupert Murdoch? I’m not sure. There are so many it’s hard to keep them straight. Luckily there’s an app for that! Good news – they’re not!)

In wake of the scandal, the European Publishing Chief for the WSJ resigned. The Guardian reports that under the scheme WSJ newspapers were sold for one cent each in a bid to increase circulation numbers.

By the way, in case anyone forgets, the WSJ is owned by News Corp. and Rupert Murdoch. (Why do I feel like I should be referring to him as He-Who-Should-Not-Be-Named?) Shudder!

Anywho, under the scheme, companies who sponsored the WSJ paid a reduced “knock-down” rate of 5 cents or less per newspaper. In the case of a Dutch company known as Executive Learning Partnership (ELP), the rate was 1 cent per newspaper for 12,000 sponsored purchases per day.

The Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) eventually determined that the scheme was responsible for 41% of the daily circulation the WSJ claimed in Europe, about 31,000 copies out of a total of 75,000.

Things fell apart when ELP complained they were not getting enough return on their investment. Gee, ya think? Perhaps it isn’t wise to invest in a newspaper that artificially inflates its circulation numbers, eh? To placate ELP, the WSJ executive created an addendum to their contract, and it is that addendum that The Guardian reports led to his resignation.

The Guardian found evidence that the Journal had been channelling money through European companies in order to secretly buy thousands of copies of its own paper at a knock-down rate, misleading readers and advertisers about the Journal’s true circulation.

The bizarre scheme included a formal, written contract in which the Journal persuaded one company to co-operate by agreeing to publish articles that promoted its activities, a move which led some staff to accuse the paper’s management of violating journalistic ethics and jeopardising its treasured reputation for editorial quality.

Source: The Guardian

Ethics? Reputation? Editorial quality? Those are not words one normally associates with something owned by the likes of Rupert Murdoch.

The highly controversial activities were organised in London and focused on the Journal’s European edition, which circulates in the EU, Russia, and Africa. Senior executives in New York, including Murdoch’s right-hand man, Les Hinton, were alerted to the problems last year by an internal whistleblower and apparently chose to take no action. The whistleblower was then made redundant.

Don’t you hate it when you get made “redundant?” I know I do! (Or did I already say that?)

If Rupert Murdock is involved, why do I feel that even a mere penny is too much to pay?