This page contains all entries posted to Jack Bog's Blog in March 2005. They are listed from newest to oldest.
February 2005 is the previous archive.
April 2005 is the next archive.
Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.
As the quality of life in Portland slowly wanes, yet another magazine about our lifestyle springs up. I think there's a direct inverse relationship between the two.
This one's called inPortland, and it came with today's Oregonian. A young couple buys their first house, cool stuff about Division Street, a poll on Potter (Tom, not Harry), things readers want fixed, we want your input, lots of ads.
At least this one isn't of the Pearl, by the Pearl, for the Pearl.
While the Portland City Council is busy with other matters, the bankruptcy trustee in the Enron case has quietly initiated a new formal auction process for Portland General Electric Company that could favor other prospective purchasers. Given the expressions of interest, which are multiplying weekly, the latest move could spark a lively bidding war for the utility.
Portland movie theater mogul-turned-real estate tycoon Tom Moyer is breathing easier today. Yesterday he and his co-defendants on felony charges of making campaign contributions under false names got the law prohibiting such conduct stricken down as an unconstitutional infringement on free speech. The judge scheduled to hear the criminal charges apparently ruled from the bench that the law is "overly broad and restrains political speech," according to this morning's Oregonian (motto: "Always right there when West Hills money gets off the hook on corruption charges").
Among the arguments that the defense made in the case was this one, according to the O:
The defense told [Judge] Wittmayer that the law could put a lot of innocent political contributors in jeopardy. [Defense attorney] Hoffman suggested that if a group of teenagers washed cars to raise money for an environmental campaign, they could be compelled to report to the campaign the names of the people who gave them money.
Next thing you know, the O will be naming Moyer citizen of the year for standing up for the rights of politically active teeangers. A true philanthropist! But in fairness, I believe his lawyers have a point. The last time I checked (although it was a while ago), the First Amendment allows folks to challenge facially overbroad restrictions on speech, even if they themselves engaged in conduct that could clearly have been prohibited by a more carefully drawn statute.
It's kind of ironic, though, that a guy who's accused of having other people make his campaign contributions for him is now making other people's constitutional arguments for them. So it goes with the Bill of Rights. I ain't complaining.
Anyway, here's the text of the bad, bad unconstitutional law:
No person shall make a contribution to any other person relating to a nomination or election of any candidate or the support or opposition to any measure, in any name other than that of the person who in truth provides the contribution.
The case will now go up on appeal, and the judges who are waiting to decide whether Damon Stoudamire's boatload-o'-pot bust was bogus will also let us know eventually whether Moyer and Crew can be prosecuted for allegedly dummying up his campaign gifts to the Scone. My guess? They'll all walk.
Google has a Van Gogh theme on its logo today, in honor of the great artist's 152nd birthday. Like millions of adoring fans, I love his work -- I awake to see a print of his glorious painting "The Starry Night" on my bedroom wall most mornings -- but this cautionary tale, penned by another great artist, helps me keep things in perspective:
You wanna make Van Goghs
Raise 'em up like sheep
Make 'em out of Eskimos
And women if you please
Make 'em nice and normal
Make 'em nice and neat
You see him with his shotgun there?
Bloodied in the wheat?
Oh what do you know about
Living in Turbulent Indigo?
Brash fields, crude crows
In a scary sky ...
In a golden frame
Tourists guided by ...
Tourists talking about the madhouse
Talking about the ear
The madman hangs in fancy homes
They wouldn't let him near!
He'd piss in their fireplace!
He'd drag them through Turbulent Indigo
"I'm a burning hearth," he said
"People see the smoke
But no one comes to warm themselves
Sloughing off a coat
And all my little landscapes
All my yellow afternoons
Stack up around this vacancy
Like dirty cups and spoons
No mercy Sweet Jesus!
No mercy from Turbulent Indigo."
Given the dual headlines on the front page (.pdf) of today's O -- one on Portland's pulling out of the Joint Terrorism Task Force and the other about the city's refusal to endorse the Mrs. America pageant -- I suggest we start referring to the city's governing body a bit differently. Rather than the "Portland City Council," why not just call it the "PC Council" for short?
Some days, I almost miss the Scone.
Meanwhile, I'm working on a new beauty contest -- the "Mr. or Ms. Person-in-a-Loving-Relationship America" pageant. But set your watch -- we'll soon hear from those who aren't in loving relationships, who will be demanding equal time. I'm sure the PC Council will pass some sort of resolution reflecting their concerns.
Don't think we didn't notice that the Portland City Council voted last week to reject the latest design for a 14-story condo tower slated to grace the intersection of Northwest 23rd and Burnside. The council sent the proposal back to the legions of planners and designers and other minions who occupy their own little municipal skyscraper down by Portland State.
In the end, there is going to be a condo tower wedged into the smallish space currently occupied by the parking lot of the Uptown Shopping Center (formerly the home of Elephant's, and the site of the world-famous Brotherly Bento Blood Feud). Some views are going to be stolen and some unwanted shadows cast. And traffic and parking during the construction are going to be particularly miserable. Those are all the givens. The only remaining question is how tall and bulky the building is going to get.
Voting against the developer's latest design after hearing a full afternoon of testimony were Fireman Randy, Opie, and Tram Adams. Mayor Grampy actually voted in favor of the developer, noting that the neighbors had had ample opportunity to express their views. Not present was Big Pipe, who was busy preparing to deliver baskets full of goodies to small children Saturday night.
Anyway, nice going, Northwest neighbors, for forestalling the latest in the continuing Californication of Portland for another few weeks.
I know we've come a long way
We're changin' day to day
But tell me,
Where do the children play?
-- Cat Stevens
There was a story in yesterday's New York Times that's generating quite a buzz here in P-Town. It points out that our fair city is filling up quick with empty nesters and DINKs (double-income, no-kid couples), while families are fleeing to the 'burbs in droves.
Mayor Potter is wringing his hands over this trend, and vowing to do something about it. He's bringing kids in to speak at City Council meetings, and surely he's got more meaningful steps in mind as well.
Let me make a suggestion: Put people on the Portland Development Commission (including a new CEO) that will demand that child-friendly housing be the city's number 1 development priority for the next four years. Right now the vast majority of what the PDC is paying our tax dollars to build are luxury condos and low-income housing. Not that New Columbia doesn't look great -- it does. But it's just a drop in the bucket when it comes to welcoming families, particularly middle-class families, back to town.
We're racing as fast as we can, it seems, to become another San Francisco or Seattle, both groovy as can be to the Graggies in the trendy restaurants and black T-shirt lofts, but no place to raise kids.
To reverse that slide will take radical action. The hundreds of millions of dollars that flow through the PDC every year could be the perfect agent of change.
Nick Fish's new public affairs video talk show, "Outlook Portland," debuts this Sunday morning on Portland's WB, also known as KWBP-TV, channel 3 on your cable box, channel 32 if you don't have cable. It's that station's first foray into public affairs programming, and they're taking no chances, assigning the show to the 6:30 a.m. slot favored by churchgoers who prefer the early service, and newspaper delivery folks who are heading back to bed. (Rumor has it, however, that the program will be moving to late Sunday afternoon before too long.)
Nick's guests on his first show are Commissioner Randy Leonard and yours truly. The topics include Mayor Potter's first days in office, the controversy over the federal Joint Terrorism Task Force, the future of the Portland Development Commission, and blogging. It was a fun half-hour to participate in, and even though the makeup artist was a no-show, it should be a decent show to watch.
At our house, given that we'll be working on what the Easter Bunny left behind Sunday morning, we'll all be watching dad on TV later in the day via the miracle of videotape. Meanwhile, we're making room on the mantel for the Emmy.
The U.S. Senate has passed a compromise bill allowing a federal court to review a controversial foul call that determined the March 11 Big East basketball conference tournament game between West Virginia and Villanova.
President Bush has cancelled his vacation to return to Washington and sign the bill into law. The White House released a statement that read in part: "In cases like this one, where there are serious questions and substantial doubts, our society, our laws, and our courts should have a presumption in favor of letting the players play. Particularly in the last two minutes."
The disputed foul was against Villanova guard Allan Ray, who was called for allegedly pushing West Virginia's Mike Gansey in the back on the way up to the rim. The foul was called with 0.2 seconds remaining on the clock. Gansey sank two free throws to win the game.
The passage of the bill was hailed by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who had guided it through emergency procedures in the lower chamber. "After four days of words, the best of them uttered in prayer, Congress has acted, and a league title may have been saved. Democrats and Republicans, congressmen and senators all deserve respect and gratitude for their commitment to giving the Wildcats the chance we all deserve."
Congressman Earl Blumenauer of Portland immediately flew back to Portland to be interviewed on the subject for City Commissioner Randy Leonard's radio program, Sparky and Me. Speaking over a double tall nonfat decaf mocha latte, Blumenauer said the new law's language was "so broad and sweeping that it would call into question every traveling call and three seconds in the lane."
Villanova fans immediately set up camp outside the federal courthouse in Philadelphia, where the latest appeal is expected to be heard. One of those keeping vigil, Bob Herndon of Chester, Pa., called the ruling "a clear-cut case of referee tyranny. Ray-Ray might have gotten his hand caught on the guy's shirt a little, but that's not a foul."
In West Virginia, Mountaineer boosters deplored the congressional action. "We don't want politicians deciding our fate," said Hector Haggard, a season ticket holder. "We already have instant replay and the possession arrow. Who's next, America? Your kid's soccer team?"
Marty Seward, a former junior varsity reserve for West Virginia, agreed. "These guys in Washington, D.C. don't care what happens to Villanova in basketball. They're just using this to draw attention away from the deficit and the war."
A spokesman for the Vatican expressed strong support for the new court review of the call. "The Pope has recently made himself very clear on this issue," said Cardinal Vito Sorrentino. "You must respect the sanctity of the rebounder at the end of the game, even if he is going over the back. 'The letter of the law killeth, but the spirit giveth life.' We must put an end to the culture of stopping play whenever it is convenient." Villanova is a Catholic school.
Being of sound mind, I hereby leave my spam files to Lars Larson
While the Schiavo case has had everyone thinking about advance medical directives (or "living wills," as they're sometimes known), I stumbled across a somewhat related issue: Who owns your e-mail after you're gone? The father of a slain Marine and Yahoo are currently tussling about just that issue. The dad wants to see his son's e-mail, and the 'Hoo is saying nay.
There are so many interesting blogs popping up here in Oregon. I thought The Appliance Blog was a runaway winner of best special-interest blog honors, but he's got competition. Check out Cat Trapper's Journal -- an instant classic.
UPDATE, 6/9 5:37 p.m.: The site is no more, and the web address has been taken over by someone else. So I've removed the link.
When it comes to exercise, the first quarter of 2005 has turned out to be my worst in two years. There has been one excuse after another -- an overload of professional projects, the annual Portland respiratory crud, a couple of business trips, an ill-fated job prospect, stress.
Tonight, a few days into spring break, I finally got back on the road. And it hurt.
There's that burning sensation in your throat when you're running in cool air after a long layoff. The situps highlight every little ache and pain in your upper body. The weights that you tossed around last summer are astonishingly heavy. You don't even want to look at the stopwatch when the run's over.
Nonetheless, there's a feeling of accomplishment at the finish. "At least I got out here and did it. I haven't put on any weight to speak of. By Fourth of July, I'll be as fit as I've ever been in my life, and by Labor Day, I'll be a true physical specimen."
For now, however, there's Advil, and the hope that I don't wake up with a cold in the morning.
Well, the bulldozers have hit the site of the old Baloney Joe's soup kitchen on the east side of the Burnside Bridge. For years, this was the place for down-and-out denizens of downtown Portland streets to go to get a meal, a prayer, maybe some clothes. It's been shuttered for a long time, and now they're finally tearing it down to make way for a more upscale occupant for what could be a very attractive piece of real estate. Some other structures were demolished last week, but today it's the real Baloney coming down.
Along the with ghosts of Baloney Joe's patrons roaming around that space are the ghosts of the participants of the Cascade Runoff -- the annual 15K road race that used to take thousands of runners up the Terwilliger Hill and back down Front Street to Burnside. It was absolutely one of the best-organized running events anywhere in the world, and 15K world records were often set there. And it all started on the east side of the bridge, in front of Baloney Joe's.
I'm still working on getting a music podcast series going on this site or somewhere hereabouts. But right now I'm hung up on the legal side of things.
What does it take to play, say, James Brown doing "I Feel Good" in a podcast, and still be legal?
Well, it's clear that you've got to pay for two different licenses to do that. (At least two -- two that I know of.) One is from the composers of "I Feel Good," or whomever they've sold or left their rights to over the years. That license gets you the right to publicly perform "I Feel Good" on the internet. And if all I want to do is sing it myself in a blog-linked .mp3 file with my friends on kazoo, that's all the license I need. You can get licenses to cover a year's worth of that stuff for about $750 total from the three outfits who play the enforcers for the composers -- ASCAP, BMI and SESAC.
Actually, me doing "I Feel Good" might be good for a couple of laughs, but I'm not sure it's worth that kind of dough.
So then there's the right to use the musical recording of James Brown singing it, and that belongs to a separate copyright owner. (It's the little (p) on the CD label, rather than the (c) next to the song.) That right typically belongs to the record company, but they generally use the reviled knee-busters over at something called the RIAA to do their collection work for them.
Now the RIAA was never too keen on this internet music thing, and for a while they were threatening to make life tough for folks like Radio Paradise, who stream traditional-radio-like content over the web 24 hours a day. But Congress stepped in and required the RIAA to play ball with "webcasters." Now the law specifies just how much the RIAA can charge webcasters for the annual right to play their recordings. And the RIAA has set up a division called SoundExchange to run the government-mandated licensing program.
As an eager podcaster wannabe, I've been trying to see how much it would cost for me to get a SoundExchange license. And so far, I'm stumped on two points. First, there are two kinds of licenses that could potentially apply to a guy like me: a commercial webcaster license, or a "small" commercial webcaster license. They're different in how the royalty rates are set up. As I understand it, the small webcasters pay a percentage of revenue, whereas the other commercial webcasters pay a set fraction of a penny per performance. But there are minimum annual fees under both arrangements, and they're actually larger for the small webcasters -- $2,000 a year rather than $500 a year. So would I rather be in with the "bigs" rather than the "smalls," given that I probably won't have enough revenue or traffic to exceed either minimum?
Second, and more fundamentally, it's not 100 percent clear to me that podcasting is "webcasting" within the meaning of the copyright rules. My show would be like Radio Paradise, which is definitely "webcasting," only in the senses that (a) I'd mix in songs by all sorts of artists, (b) I wouldn't announce them in advance, and (c) the listener wouldn't be able to select any particular song. But it would be unlike Radio Paradise in that the listener would be able to start and stop the show, contained as it would be in an .mp3 file; further, my show would run for only around, say, 45 minutes, and sit on my server at least until the next one is ready, probably weekly. So maybe I wouldn't be a "webcaster" at all.
And if I'm not a "webcaster," I believe I can't force SoundExchange to let me play under the mandatory licensing scheme. I'd likely have to track down individual record companies and negotiate deals with them, which seems highly unlikely.
Well, nobody said it was going to be easy. I'll try calling SoundExchange this week and see if I can find out what they're thinking about this. Guess it couldn't hurt to do some hardcore legal research on the copyright law myself as well.
I know there's a kazoo around this house somewhere.
Another fun day on the NCAA men's basketball front -- most interesting day so far. I caught the last few minutes of regulation, and both overtimes, of West Virginia shocking Wake Forest. I kept wondering whether Raging Red has picked a hottie or two out of the Mountaineer squad -- strictly for entertainment purposes, of course.
I cheered as Bobby Knight's Texas Tech squad took out Gonzaga. (What a difference a week can make as far as one's sports allegiances are concerned.)
And my boys from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee stomped the Gonzaga-like dudes of Boston College to make their way to the Sweet 16 round next weekend.
Stunning. Not too many folks with those picks on their office pool tickets, I'll bet.
The restaurant at NE 24th and Fremont that used to be the Dining Room (and before that, the east side branch of Marco's) is open again. This time it's called Aja, subtitled Pacific Kitchen, and it opened on Tuesday.
With a name like that, I was expecting a Thai fusion kind of thing, but a quick spin by there on a family walk this afternoon gave us a gander at a much different menu posted in the doorway. Burgers, salads, and fairly traditional-looking entrees like meatloaf and salmon were prevalent, with only a few interesting Korean dishes listed (including several pork items).
It looks like they're going to try to go for three meals a day -- this in a gruelling business, and a location whose only commercial success over the last three decades was the original Nature's food store. Meanwhile, our friends at Perry's, kitty-corner across the intersection, continue to plug along, unfazed by the false starts and stops.
We still miss the grocery store, but we welcome the newcomers and hope they can make it.
'Twas a good St. Paddy's Day in Milwaukee. (That's the original one in Wisconsin, not the spelling-challenged namesake in the Portland, Oregon suburbs.) The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee men's basketball team upset the University of Alabama to move on to the second round of the NCAA tournament. It's the school's first win ever in March Madness play, and the Panthers, as they're known, get to try for two in a row tomorrow against Boston College.
I spent a "formative" summer in Milwaukee in the mid-70s, staying with some friends I adored there on my Great Solo Journey West. And during that time I noted well that the locals were very fond of "UWM." The school never enjoyed the reputation of its Big Sister, the main campus of the state university, out in Madison. And as a basketball power, they were nothing in those days next to the heavy hitters down the road at Marquette. Heck, even Wisconsin-Stevens Point had glory days when Milwaukee native and Trail Blazer-to-be Terry Porter (now coach of the NBA team the Milwaukee Bucks) led that team as its point guard. But UWM... well, it was kind of like the Portland State analog in Wisconsin.
Today dawns on a new era there, however. Congratulations to the team and the school, and may the Cinderella slipper fit over the weekend.
Interesting story on KGW-TV news tonight (not on its website, at least not yet) about a recent upsurge in auto thefts in downtown Portland. It seems they're up 95 percent over a comparable recent period.
The center of the car theft spree? The area outside City Hall! And the most popular times to steal Camrys and Accords from in front of the million-dollar solar parking robots down there? Broad daylight!
There was actually a police spokesman in the story. Interviewed on camera, he said something really profound like, "It's too bad things like this have to happen."
Wish we had property tax money for more police officers in this town. But sorry, we've got more important things to do.
Just ask Commissioner "Tram" Adams. He's working with Mayor Homer Williams on the crucial stuff.
Today I received an e-mail message curtly informing me that I didn't get a job that I recently interviewed for. "You gave us a lot to think about, but we had many excellent candidates," the usual stuff.
I wasn't sure I was going to take that job if offered, but I honestly thought it was going to be offered. And I know I would have been good at it.
The writer of the e-mail also informed me that he was going out of town, without a computer. And so in other words, there is no use in my calling or e-mailing back to find out anything more about the factors that led to my rejection. I'm left to stew in my own juices.
My life has been in an uproar about this potential opportunity for many weeks. At the moment, I'm wandering around in a bit of a daze. Lots of raw feelings, some of them ugly.
My latest streetcar rant has drawn a couple of good responses. First, neo-Couverite blogger Chris Snethen actually took as a challenge my remark that you can get there faster walking than going by Portland Streetcar. He concludes that he can't! Great experiment, Chris. I have some questions about his methodology, though. More on that later.
Meanwhile, a regular reader with serious "libertarian" leanings rolled his mouse over his University of Chicago mouse pad and posted a very thoughtful comment that deserves a thread of its own. He writes:
Hey -- no offense Jack, but you can't have it both ways! If you want government to intrude as often as you do when you think there's something "good" to be done (I dunno -- let's say, reducing global warming, or homelessness, or poverty, or . . . ), you can't really complain when reality rears its ugly head and actual POLITICS comes in to play. You can't separate the specific policies from the framework that grants the government the power to accomplish them. In other words, if you give the government the power to accomplish A, you have likely also given it the power to accomplish B. And you may not like B. This is why it cracks me up so much to hear all the lefties bitch about Bush, the Evil One. He wouldn't be so evil -- or at least not so *effectively* evil -- if the lefties hadn't done so damn much legwork in conferring so damn much power on the federal government. So you don't like the streetcar? Run for dictator. It's the only way to get what you want without also getting what you don't want. For the rest of us (well, for me and the few sensible ones like me), we'll just take strong curbs on government power across the board, thank you very much. That way, I don't get what I want, but at least I don't get what I don't want, either.
Hmmm, so we can't have regulation of air pollution without aerial tram scams? Food for thought. Readers?
Hard to believe, but March Madness is upon us -- the annual NCAA men's basketball tournament. I've got my printout of the brackets (.pdf), but I don't think I'm going to get around to filling it out this time around. Honestly, I'd be better off throwing the money into a video poker machine.
What do I know about the 8-seeds and the 9-seeds? Nothing. So I'll have to guess: Nevada (I've got the t-shirt), Pittsburgh (Pacific sounds like an art school), Minnesota (Prairie Home Companion), and Mississippi State (Stanford will be tired from the cross-country trip).
Then there's the old question of which low-seeded teams will pull the first-round upsets. I'm betting that there's one 13-seed that will beat a 4, and one 12-seed that will beat a 5. Maybe Penn over Boston College and George Washington over Georgia Tech.
Games I'd like to see: Gonzaga vs. Washington, North Carolina vs. Florida, Duke vs. Oklahoma.
1. It took $16 million to lay a half mile of track. That's $32 million a mile.
2. When it was 2.5 miles long, the streetcar was costing Portland taxpayers $900,000 in general fund revenues every year to operate. That's $360,000 per mile, per year. With the extension, I'm assuming that amount will rise to about $1.2 million a year.
3. There's lots more to come, as we pay to extend this monstrosity to Tramland.
4. Randy Gragg, William Hurt and Nicolas Cage's mother think it's swell.
5. You can get there faster on foot.
6. The police stations in Portland are closed at night and on weekends. There's no money to keep them open around the clock.
7. There's a huge backlog of transportation projects in Portland neighborhoods for lack of funding.
8. Wait 'til you see the bill for the aerial tram.
Now that there are several new plans in the works to buy Portland General Electric, I thought I'd let readers in on my own proposal, which I think would combine the best of a couple of different public policy initiatives currently circulating.
How much will it cost to buy PGE? $2.3 billion. Sounds like a lot of money at first, until you realize how reasonable that is. We can raise that in no time, following these easy steps:
1. The Portland City Council passes the "Clean Money" (a.k.a. "Voter-Owned Election") proposal, in which candidates for city offices will get $200,000 each in free, taxpayer-provided campaign funds if they (a) can get just 1,000 people to give them $5 each to run, and (b) swear not to accept any other donations.
2. Recruit 11,500 people to run for Commissioner Dan Saltzman's position.
3. Every candidate must "give" $5,000 to other candidates, but each will "receive" $5,000 back from other folks in the same position. None of them are actually out-of-pocket a dime.
4. Submit all 11,500 names to the City Council.
5. City Council pays each candidate $200,000, for a total of $2.3 billion.
6. Candidates pool city money and buy PGE as part of their campaign platforms.
Some sort of regional public entity to own PGE? That's clearly what our elected officials are contemplating.
Of course, there are a million questions raised by that prospect. Such as, While we're at it, how about Pacific Power too? But now that the Texas Pacific deal is back on its heels, and perhaps gone for good, it's time to get serious with the Q & A.
You realtors in Wilsonville, get ready. You're about to have a new corporate tenant down there, and its name is PGE.
Meanwhile, you know who the most powerful guy in Oregon is these days?
I'll give you a hint: He has a beer named after him.
Well, today's the day that the Oregon Public Utility Commission will approve the Texas Pacific takeover of PGE. There may be some conditions attached, but I'm betting the deal will go through.
The PUC is two Democrats and one Republican. They've all been in Salem too long. With the City of Portland waiting in the wings to institute Big-Time Public Power, there's no way the Republican can vote no on TPG-PGE. And the two Democrats are Governor Ted's guys, which means they're also likely good buddies with that Certain Someone who had his name on the top of the deal before the value of his name was so righteously cancelled out.
One of the two PUC commisioners ran the Oregon Department of Energy for 10 years, and he worked there for another six before that. I worked with the Oregon DOE for a while around 15 years ago. It seemed to me at that time to be an extremely odd organization that went out of its way to run interference for big corporate interests.
And so I have every expectation that the breathtaking announcement at 11 this morning will be splendid news for the good old boys at Texas Pacific. Thus, we can expect Lil Erik to be all red in the face when he shows up for the followup press conference this afternoon. And like Sheriff Andy to his Opie, the mayor will be there swearing to keep the city safe from the Robber Barons. They'll wind up spending even more millions on top of the million-plus they've already burned out of the city's property tax pot to pay for this quixotic little adventure.
Public power activist Dan Meek will chalk up another bitter defeat. He knows he's right, but once again, nobody listened.
And tonight a pack of fat cats up in the West Hills will be patting their wallets and winking and smirking at each other. In this town, for some people, life is always very good indeed.
And if I'm wrong about all this? It will be a great day for the rest of us.
Oh, I've got Word, and I use it whenever it's preferred by someone with whom I'm dealing. It also comes in handy when I'm using word processing in tandem with some other Microsoft program, like Internet Explorer or PowerPoint. But if it's just straight word processing I'm up to, and I'm on my own, I still click on WP. It's currently owned by Corel, but I was a user back in the day when it was run out of some other shop.
Given what a nasty competitor Microsoft is, I'm pleasantly surprised that WP is still alive and available. And today comes news that the U.S. Justice Department has renewed for five years its license to use WP at 50,000 workstations around the country. Go get 'em, G-men and women. Alt-F3 -- Reveal Codes, kids!
The world has lost a great man with the passing of my former partner, Tom Deering. Reports are that he has died of a stroke suffered while skiing over in Idaho.
Tom was a most remarkable man in many respects. He was the dean of Portland pension lawyers -- a master of the notoriously complex legal, accounting, and labor law rules that surround retirement plans. In his prime, he had a list of clients as long as your arm. But he was also one of the city's greatest civic volunteers, putting in time (and doubtlessly money) with the City Club, the Girl Scouts, Catlin Gabel School, the Unitarian Church, the Art Museum, the ACLU, and many others.
As a boss, Tom was demanding, but extremely supportive and appreciative. Those of us who worked under him as young lawyers tell with relish our stories of the "Deering Decimal System," Tom's mandatory numbering system for our memos to him. There was even a template for cover letters, and associates who serviced Tom's clients quickly learned to follow it religiously. He was a stickler for detail, all right, but it became clear after a short while that a heart of gold beat beneath his no-nonsense exterior.
And nowadays, when we see hurried, sloppy work at every turn, the world could benefit from being more like him. He pulled out all the stops to get things right, all the time.
I picked up a new toy on Saturday -- a digital voice recorder. This little beauty is smaller than a cellphone, but it makes nice digital recordings of hours and hours of talk. I needed something to record a lecture I was doing, and I dropped into Radio Shack looking for an analog cassette recorder. Am I ever glad the sales guy let me talk myself out of that.
For the last few days, I've been chopping up the huge .wav file that the little recorder created, and parcelling the resulting pieces onto the PowerPoint slides that I used as the backdrop for the talk. I burned the results onto CDs, and can now hand them out to my students.
All of which proves, I guess, that in several significant ways, I can be replaced by a machine.
Meanwhile, just north of us, we reported here recently that Washington's congressional representatives want to restrict Oregon's power to tax 'Couverites who work in Portland. Dumb, and politically impossible. Now a couple of state representatives from up that way want to cut back the sales tax exemption that Oregon residents get when they go to Clark County or Seattle to shop. As I said previously, suit yourself, folks. Let the Oregonians stay home to buy their Wheaties.
Time for a quick post about Marqui, the software company that's paying me and some others to blog about it and link to its demonstration site. On my to-do list this week is getting out a contract renewal that will have me blogging about Marqui just once a month, starting in April, for the low, low fee of $200 per month. That's one fourth of the volume under the original contract, which began December 15 and expires March 15, but Marqui's going to be recruiting some new bloggers to take up the slack with more frequent posts.
At last report, several of the writers from the original crew are letting their contracts expire without renewal. Molly Holzschlag, for example, found that "[p]rimarily, I learned that I can't blog naturally if I feel forced to do it, and that's intriguing because I can write in just about any style. But, it turns out my blog is really personal, I take it personally, and I need it to be that way."
But hey, I was never one to pass up easy money. I'll put it toward the copyright licenses for my future podcasts.
I try to blog about the weather only sparingly. But meteorologically, this has been the craziest winter I can ever remember spending in the Pacific Northwest. If you can call it a winter.
Our usual incessant rains have been a complete no-show; lately we've had strings of days of sunshine and temperature in the 60s. February was dry, and March isn't any wetter.
Of course, we love the beauty of it, and enjoy basking in the unaccustomed sunlight. Those of us who aren't passionate about skiing greet the clear, bright mornings with a smile.
But this summer is going to be a real mess. Even we denizens of Portland are going to have to cope with brown lawns, other water restrictions, dry fountains, and fire hazards in our parks and wild spaces. Our Bull Run reservoir system can do without a snowpack on Mount Hood from the depths of winter, but without spring rains, we're in trouble.
Given all the problems at the Portland Water Bureau in recent years, a curveball from Mother Nature isn't exactly what we need right now. But it's speeding its way in now.
UPDATE, 10:34 p.m.: A reader writes:
Who knows, my weather theory may soon be proven as correct?
My theory dating back to 1978 is that sub-ocean volcanic activity has been the cause of our so called El Ninio's (and split jet streams) and the source of that may soon be discovered by the NOAA research ship, that as I write is steaming to an area NW of Astoria. A field of hot water vents were discovered near here soon after St. Helens did her thing in 1980.
I have been noting links between earthquake activity in the Pacific Rim, splits in our Eastern Pacific Jet stream and watching changes in ocean temps on this NOAA site:
To date all the scientific folks that I have asked about my theory have refused to give me an answer or give me an acknowledgment. Perhaps it's a bit more popular to blame it on air pollution causing the oceans to warm and thus cause the Splitting Jet Stream problem. But then, some may not want to panic the populace with only a theory.
However, I wouldn't choose to be on that NOAA ship if a large volcanic gas emission were to occur. What I hear is, bubbles won't float your boat.
My old law school classmate Dan Meek has been working up quite a sweat trying to beat down the Texas Pacific-PGE deal. In the end, he wants to see public power around here; he has been working toward that end for a quarter-century or more.
One of the bigger arrows in his quiver of late has been the fact that PGE has paid no meaningful income tax in quite some time, but all the while it's been passing hundreds of millions in phantom tax charges on to ratepayers like you and me.
Anyway, a new salvo came out from the old Meekster yesterday. And the one before that is here.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for cleaning house at the PDC. A few weeks ago, someone asked me what I thought you could do that would really impress me. A change of personnel over there was just what I said.
I hope you will consider moving the PDC's functions back into the mainstream of city government. Having an autonomous agency with all that public money flowing through it invites selfishness and corruption. And what it's been producing is not the future of Portland that most residents want to see.
Let's see... The Blazers fire their coach with a few months left on his contract, and show no sign of looking for a long-term replacement. This right after they let the trade deadline pass without making any moves. So they'll get nothing at all of value for a couple of players whose overbloated contracts will be running out soon. And it all comes just months after the team owner walks away from the mortgage on the arena.
People are talking about plans for rebuilding the team. I doubt it. This looks to me like a franchise that's going to be sold soon. Mr. Allen has clearly lost interest, as have most of the fans.
A hectic, hectic 2005 continues apace. I'm in the middle of another "bidness" trip, swinging back through Portland between legs of the itinerary. It's all good, but not for blogging. Maybe later today. Be good to each other!
Charamba, Douro 2008
Horse Heaven Hills, Cabernet 2010
Lorelle, Horse Heaven Hills Pinot Grigio 2011
Avignonesi, Montepulciano 2004
Lorelle, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2007
Mercedes Eguren, Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Lorelle, Columbia Valley Cabernet 2011
Purple Moon, Merlot 2011
Purple Moon, Chardonnnay 2011
Abacela, Vintner's Blend No. 12
Opula Red Blend 2010
Liberte, Pinot Noir 2010
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Indian Wells Red Blend 2010
Woodbridge, Chardonnay 2011
King Estate, Pinot Noir 2011
Famille Perrin, Cotes du Rhone Villages 2010
Columbia Crest, Les Chevaux Red 2010
14 Hands, Hot to Trot White Blend
Familia Bianchi, Malbec 2009
Terrapin Cellars, Pinot Gris 2011
Columbia Crest, Walter Clore Private Reserve 2009
Campo Viejo, Rioja, Termpranillo 2010
Ravenswood, Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Quinta das Amoras, Vinho Tinto 2010
Waterbrook, Reserve Merlot 2009
Lorelle, Horse Heaven Hills, Pinot Grigio 2011
Chateau Lajarre, Bordeaux 2009
La Vielle Ferme, Rose 2011
Benvolio, Pinot Grigio 2011
Nobilo Icon, Pinot Noir 2009
Lello, Douro Tinto 2009
Quinson Fils, Cotes de Provence Rose 2011
Anindor, Pinot Gris 2010
Buenas Ondas, Syrah Rose 2010
Les Fiefs d'Anglars, Malbec 2009
14 Hands, Pinot Gris 2011
Condes de Albarei, Albariño 2011
Columbia Crest, Walter Clore Private Reserve 2007
Penelope Sanchez, Garnacha Syrah 2010
Canoe Ridge, Merlot 2007
Atalaya do Mar, Godello 2010
Vega Montan, Mencia
Benvolio, Pinot Grigio
Nobilo Icon, Pinot Noir, Marlborough 2009
Portuga, Rose 2011
Revelation, Chardonnay, Pays d'Oc 2010
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Rutherford 2005
Monte Alto, Tinto Reserva 2005
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Cabernet, Indian Wells 2009
Espiral, Vinho Rose
Vin-Koru, Pinot Gris 2011
14 Hands, Hot to Trot Red 2009
Rodney Strong, Cabernet, Sonoma 2009
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #11
Portuga, White 2010
La Bourgeoisie, Red 2009
Januik, Red 2009
Three Rivers, River's Red 2008
Kirkland, Alexander Valley Merlot 2008
Muga, Rioja Rose 2010
Quinta das Amoras, Vinho Tinto 2009
Mauro Molino, Barbera d'Alba 2009
Garda Chiaretto Rose
Columbia Crest, Two Vines Vineyard 10 White
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Pinot Gris, Columbia Valley 2009
L'Hortus, Rose de Saignee 2010
Maculan, Pino & Toi 2008
McKinley Springs, Bombing Range Red 2008
Trader Joe's Pinot Gris 2009
Montes Alpha, Cabernet 2007
Gran Sasso, Sangiovese, Terre di Chieti 2009
Garda, Classico Chiaretto Rose
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Rutherford 1999
Picos del Montgo, Tempranillo 2008
Chateau de Montmirail, Vacqueyras 2008
La Granja 360, Syrah 2009
Montgras, Carmenere Reserva 2009
Lange, Pinot Gris 2009
Columbia Crest, Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet 2008
Kirkland, Pinot Grigio 2010
Trader Joe's Coastal Syrah 2009
Columbia Crest, Horse Heaven Hills Merlot 2008
Trader Joe's Coastal Chardonnay 2009
Vieux Papes Red
Domaine de l'Aujardiere, Chardonnay 2009
Santa Rita, Cabernet, Medalla Real 2007
Penfold's, Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet 2008
Guild, Red, Lot #02 2008
Dievole, Dievolino Sangiovese 2008
Laforet, Burgogne Chardonnay 2009
Columbia Winery, Merlot 2007
Bonterra, Cabernet 2008
Elk Cove, Pinot Gris 2009
Maquis Lien 2006
Scott Paul, Pinot Noir, Le Paulee 2007
The Occasional Book
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
Timothy Egan - The Big Burn
Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt
Miles run year to date: 21
At this date last year: 52
Total run in 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269