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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 16, 2012 1:09 PM. The previous post in this blog was Portland parks: "Don't forget, we're after your money, too". The next post in this blog is Fluoride in Portland water is a done deal. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Portland, perfect for people who have no life

A reader sends along an interesting exchange that his wife had with the Portland planning and sustainability bureau yesterday. It started when she posted this on a city web page that invited readers to "Submit a Garbage, Recycling or Composting Question":

This is not a question, but a complaint regarding every other week garbage pickup. As a small family of 3 with one in diapers and 2 dogs, I have never been a fan of the increased time during collection. We had to upgrade the size of our can and therefore have to pay more even though now we are provided with less service.

The smell surrounding the bins and when depositing bags into our garbage receptacle is putrid. This disgusting smell from both our cans and our neighbors wafts into our home. There have been an increasing number of flies and other bugs near our bins. During the summer heat that we've been having, this is just completely unsanitary. We pay money for a sanitation service and I don't feel that it is being adequately provided.

We have been noticing at times that the entire neighborhood reeks of garbage! It is disgusting.

I hope the city strongly considers at least making it an option to return to weekly garbage service.

She got back a remarkable response -- preposterous, really:

RE: City of Portland TrackIT Submission: Office of Sustainable Development Item 618409

Hello M***,

Thank you for contacting Waste Info.

I’m sorry to hear that you’re having problems with fruit flies. I know they can be very annoying. Fruit flies are common in kitchen areas, but there are ways to control them and make your kitchen a less desirable home for them. There are also ways to manage your composting cart outside to deter flies. We did answer questions about fruit flies from a few customers during the summer months of the pilot. So far, we’ve had success in controlling them. Additionally we’ve learned some tips from businesses such as restaurants that keep large amounts of food scraps in their kitchen areas for composting.

Inside the house:

First, keep your kitchen pail tightly closed when you are not using it. You may want to store your pail in a cabinet when you are not actively using it. Also it is important to empty your pail frequently into your Portland Composts! Roll cart. You may choose to use a kitchen pail liner such as newspaper, paper bag or approved compostable bag. This will cut down on some of the mess in the pail. After you dump your food scraps into your composting cart, be sure to rinse and dry kitchen pail before starting to use it again. If fruit flies persist, you may decide to trap them. You can do this by filling a small jar with apple cider vinegar, covering the jar with plastic wrap. Secure the plastic wrap to the jar with a rubber band and poke a few holes in the top of the plastic. Fruit flies will be attracted to the vinegar and once inside the jar, won’t be able to get back out. Remember, fruit flies are attracted to fruit that has gone bad, so if you store fruit in the house, be sure to keep an eye on it and quickly compost any pieces that may have spoiled.

Outside the house:

You can wipe the inside of the cart lid with essential oils such as citronella, clove or tea tree oil, which are natural insect repellents. You may want to consider layering your food waste with yard debris (lasagna style) or adding sheets of newspaper before and after you place food scraps in the cart. Keeping food scraps contained (and less accessible) to fruit flies is easier if you use a kitchen pail liner. If possible, store the cart in the shade. Some residents found, during the pilot, that sprinkling baking soda in their carts helped keep odors down which makes the cart less attractive to flies. Perhaps the most important action is setting out the cart weekly for collection. When the cart is empty you can place a pizza delivery box or newspaper in the bottom to soak up liquid and help ensure that all items fall out of the cart when it is tipped into the truck.

We have lots of tips on our web site about cleaning the kitchen pail and the composting cart including a couple of short instructional videos. You can access these resources at

A helpful hint for the garbage cart outside: first be sure to rinse any food container before placing on the curb. If you eliminate the food source, the flies will cease to gather. I make a habit out of rinsing out cans and food take out containers before placing in the can.

I know change can be difficult. But every step we take to reduce what is being taken to the landfills is a step in the right direction. When the program first started I was very sure that it would not work for me. I wasn’t happy about the every other week garbage pickup, as I have cats. After a month or two, I realized that it was actually working for my family. I was making more conscious efforts to take recyclable items out of the garbage cart, and place in the blue recycle bin. That alone made a huge difference. Once I started taking out food scraps faithfully, we were able to actually reduce our service to every 4 weeks. We’ve had it through this summer, and one of the things I changed to help reduce odor was to scoop the litter box more frequently, double bagging smaller portions, and sprinkling baking soda in the bag before I seal it.

We line our cart with the daily paper, and then a couple times a month my husband hoses out the cart.

We do appreciate hearing from people, whether it’s comments and concerns, or helpful hints.

I hope the information above with help with the pest issues.


Our incredulous correspondent reacts thusly:

-- My wife doesn’t mention fruit flies in the kitchen, but the City does in its definitely un-canned response.

-- I would love to know what “success” they have had in controlling flies around garbage cans with two-week old diapers.

-- Annette’s husband must be very dedicated. If you believe Annette, although they only have their garbage picked up once a month (which must mean her cat litter has been baking for four weeks in the sun), her husband lines the cart with newspaper and sprays the garbage can out a couple of times a month. Really? He lines the garbage can, puts garbage in, takes garbage out, hoses out the garbage can, re-lines the garbage can with newspaper, replaces garbage into the can, puts more garbage in, takes garbage out, hoses out the garbage can, re-re-lines the garbage can with newspapers, re-replaces garbage into the can, and then the garbage is picked up by the City? Wash. Rinse. Repeat. X2. Hilarious if true.

There are a million laughs in Portland, so long as you don't live there.

Comments (36)

And to think, that poor lady has yet to experience the joy of cleaning up dead rats. Luckily, I've been able to enjoy that pursuit ever since the city deemed my neighborhood the perfect choice for its composting pilot program.

Thanks, local government!

Holy smokes-what a gubmint we have!

Ranks right up there with all the endless and interminable "public involvement" meetings filled with lackeys of the 1% who are all on the clock at $100 per hour or better, and in which mere citizens are expected to keep up in their spare time, and the outcome was cooked before the process started, anyway. Then if you don't like the outcome, they tell you to come to more meetings. Insanity.

"Thanks for writing. My advice is that you try to be as virtuous as me and my husband. Did I mention that we don't eat meat, and we don't even own a TV? Yeah, I'm pretty great alright. In summary, try harder."

This should be bronzed as the quintessential City of Portland response.

"Many newborns can be trained to limit their bowel movements to one or two per week."

Unbelievable!! I'd like some of the kool-aid Annette is drinking.

During the summer heat that we've been having, this is just completely unsanitary. We pay money for a sanitation service and I don't feel that it is being adequately provided.

I have been writing about this for some time, who exactly is in charge of the health aspects of our city, Multnomah County Health Department?
Call Jeff Cogen and ask him what he plans to do about this?

Of course, the 1% will be able to pay others to take care of these daily rotten chores. Most likely the people behind this plan don't even live here or if they do, they can get away from the heat and away from the smell and problems.

We line our cart with the daily newspaper every day while putting all recyclables in the blue bin. Inane chatter.

The classic technique of stating a like like it is an obvious truth:

"But every step we take to reduce what is being taken to the landfills is a step in the right direction."

How so? There is no shortage of landfill space. Most of us prefer to have garbage in a landfill rather than at our homes. This is like the growth limits to protect farmland while paying farmers not to grow crops because there is too much supply.

Overall landfill capacity is increasing and operators compete aggressively for garbage to fill them.

A study calculated that at the current rate of waste generation, all of America's garbage for the next 1,000 years would fit into a single landfill space only 120 feet deep and 44 miles square. 98% of the US is uninhabited, there is plenty of room for trash.

I like how they suggest that we need to wash our garbage before we put it in the garbage... I thought water was a scarce limited resource, and you want us to waste it on washing garbage?

Not to mention the extra load that washing garbage puts on the sewer system...

Let's not forget about the snitch culture that the city wanted to impose in tandem with composting:

Truly we are blessed by the leadership gods.

We are inundated with flies this summer. Our bakyard is unihabitable.

Let me get this straight. Her husband hoses out the garbage bin a "couple times a month" but they are on a 4 week service. He must have to remove the garbage from the bin several times a month to wash the bin and then put the garbage back into the bin..........not buying it.

I hate the flies. They are some new orange kind, too. Anything that produces novel pests is a loser in my book. Yuk.

"I know change can be difficult."

That's the understatement of the year - How long have these clowns been running Portland?

Most likely the people behind this plan don't even live here or if they do, they can get away from the heat and away from the smell and problems.

Increasingly likely, in my opinion. It's as if Portland is viewed more as a problem to be managed, a barn full of dumb beasts to be kept fed and milked, not as a place where people live.

They want to herd us into khrushchyovka while no doubt they'll live in dachas on the outskirts, because they are important people who make important decisions.
They want us to give up our mobility while no doubt they'll have their Volgas, because they are important people who make important decisions.

And the amazing thing is, it's being pitched at and gobbled up by a generation that hasn't a clue.

Pitched at, gobbled up and aggressively promoted by whippersnappers who have bought into all the B.S. with unparalleled enthusiasm and zero skepticism. It's a serious problem.

It is a serious problem as I have also perceived a cult of ones who have apparently been propagandized to accept all the eco-this and that, anything with the word sustainable and other buzz words attached without in depth questioning.

This is more than just another generational gap here that those who have been around awhile are only misunderstanding. Many of us understand the agenda here, and have been around long enough to know propaganda. I have asked before, do they even teach the course in school anymore?

Anon: Welcome to the thread. You fit right in.

In every police state in the world there are people like Annette who side with the state.

In most cases, people like Annette think they are superior to everyone else. Mao, Hitler, Castro, etc. all knew how to exploit this desire to be superior. Looks like Sammy has a little bit of that talent too.

There are too many of these types whose salaries we pay that work for the city.
One would think they are into waging war against the citizens the way they act.
I am sure there are good people that work there as well and are perhaps just as upset with what is going on in our city hall chambers. The "superior" ones work well for the agenda and are sent out to control public meetings should any citizens question too much!

Pitched at, gobbled up and aggressively promoted by whippersnappers who have bought into all the B.S. with unparalleled enthusiasm and zero skepticism. It's a serious problem.

Didn't interbellum Germany have a similar problem?

Do people work for the government, or does the government work for the people?

Those who want to "help the environment" are more than welcome to take their individual steps to reduce their garbage, with no adverse impact to anyone else. But those people who unilaterally force changes on others...why??

These city mouthpieces never directly answer the complaint. The issue is stinky garbage not food debris in the green bin. I think they avoid the real question because there is no glib answer to be given to such an obvious problem.

"But every step we take to reduce what is being taken to the landfills is a step in the right direction."

John, wasn't the main reason cited for starting this "composting" program to reduce methane production in landfills (from rotting food scraps), not to save landfill "space" or the number of landfills? I may be wrong, but seems like I remember something about the new garbage "policy" being tied to air quality/global warming.

And, of course, the response includes the usual, condescending, "I know change can be difficult." That Portland City employees thinks they can speak in such a patronizing way to the people who pay their salaries is outrageous and unacceptable. (Lake Oswego residents are frequently subjected to the same blatant condescending behavior from the current majority on the City Council and their supporters.)

For cat owners, one thing that might help is switching to scoopable, biodegradable cat litter you can flush down the toilet, like "Swheat Scoop" (made from wheat) or "World's Best" (made from corn). They are a little more expensive, but worth every penny because the job is less of a hassle and you don't have bags of stinky cat stuff waiting for garbage pick-up day.

I know, I know, flushing cat litter down the toilet is banned in CA because there is some concern that a parasite (?) sometimes found in cat feces (apparently not removed by sewage treatment plants) is harmful to sea mammals, but I've also read that there is no direct evidence that this is happening due to cat feces as many sea critters have the same parasite.

Anyway, I'll never go back to the old litter (guess I won't be moving to CA, either), so for those of you who are stuggling with the cat litter thing, it might be worth a try.

Just got back in from what should have been a pleasant evening walk with my dog: Tomorrow is garbage pickup day and it smells like a bad neighborhood in Mumbai around here. The stench was truly overpowering.

They wanted to make Portland a "World Class" town and they succeeded -- 3rd world.

Third World class... heh. Think of the extra, pointless work as a ritual of faith -- sorting your bins is like the Greenie edition of performing the Stations of the Cross.

Jack ends his commentary with " long as you don't live here". I don't, but I'm not laughing. Even a layperson such as myself knows enough science and history to know how cities succeed and fail, and how epidemics start.

We spent millenia struggling to learn how to live in a reasonably sanitary fashion, and now we're tossing out these advances as if they don't mean anything. But they do -- look at the West Nile epidemic in Texas.

Someday this foolishness will cause a huge problem (probably from the exploding rodent population). I don't imagine that it will even take that long. You can give back centuries of advances real fast, if you try.

I'm not too worried about an exploding rodent problem, I can just shoot them. It's not like PPD will worry about a little more gunfire in NE PDX...

Just got back in from what should have been a pleasant evening walk with my dog: Tomorrow is garbage pickup day and it smells like a bad neighborhood....

How does this stenchy plan work with the idea that they definitely want us to walk more?
Who knows, maybe the bike lobby will actually come in and do us all a favor and move to change this, they seem to have more clout, this might be putting a damper on biking as well.

I feel sorry for the dog too. With their sense of smell this must be horrible.

This looks to be the link to 'submit a question' case you're inclined:

A question like "what drugs are you on?"

Some of the generational arguments fall a little flat. 20 somethings are not running the show.

We are currently visiting friends in Long Beach CA.
The city is safe, and clean and they have weekly garbage pick up, and recycling, with a once a month! Pick up for stuff like lumber, appliances, and other large items....and it is reasonably priced too!

I no longer live in Portland but, if I did, I wouldn't be too terribly concerned with the city's new (and completely absurd, impractical, short-sighted, etc) waste management program.

I'd simply take my trash down to 1221 SW 4th Ave once a week and leave it in front of the place. Problem = solved.

Some of the generational arguments fall a little flat. 20 somethings are not running the show.

Perhaps not, but there are a lot of 20 somethings in the city. And their naivete is easily exploited by the city's "leadership."

Clinamen, anyone who has ever watched in horror and disgust as their dog rolled around in another dog's sh*t (also, once in SF, in human sh*t!) or the remains of a decaying animal, and subsequently had to bathe the dog to get the crap off, would not be too worried about the odor of garbage bothering their dog. They love stinky stuff!


As a lawyer/blogger, I get
to be a member of:

In Vino Veritas

Lange, Pinot Gris 2015
Kiona, Lemberger 2014
Willamette Valley, Pinot Gris 2015
Aix, Rosé de Provence 2016
Marchigüe, Cabernet 2013
Inazío Irruzola, Getariako Txakolina Rosé 2015
Maso Canali, Pinot Grigio 2015
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Kirkland, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2016
Cantele, Salice Salentino Reserva 2013
Whispering Angel, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2013
Avissi, Prosecco
Cleto Charli, Lambrusco di Sorbara Secco, Vecchia Modena
Pique Poul, Rosé 2016
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Rosé 2016
Stoller, Pinot Noir Rosé 2016
Chehalem, Inox Chardonnay 2015
The Four Graces, Pinot Gris 2015
Gascón, Colosal Red 2013
Cardwell Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
L'Ecole No. 41, Merlot 2013
Della Terra, Anonymus
Willamette Valley, Dijon Clone Chardonnay 2013
Wraith, Cabernet, Eidolon Estate 2012
Januik, Red 2015
Tomassi, Valpolicella, Rafaél, 2014
Sharecropper's Pinot Noir 2013
Helix, Pomatia Red Blend 2013
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2013
Locations, Spanish Red Wine
Locations, Argentinian Red Wine
La Antigua Clásico, Rioja 2011
Shatter, Grenache, Maury 2012
Argyle, Vintage Brut 2011
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16 Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2014
Benton Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
Primarius, Pinot Gris 2015
Januik, Merlot 2013
Napa Cellars, Cabernet 2013
J. Bookwalter, Protagonist 2012
LAN, Rioja Edicion Limitada 2011
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Rutherford 2009
Denada Cellars, Cabernet, Maipo Valley 2014
Marchigüe, Cabernet, Colchagua Valley 2013
Oberon, Cabernet 2014
Hedges, Red Mountain 2012
Balboa, Rose of Grenache 2015
Ontañón, Rioja Reserva 2015
Three Horse Ranch, Pinot Gris 2014
Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
Nelms Road, Merlot 2013
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Pinot Gris 2014
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2012
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2013
Villa Maria, Sauvignon Blanc 2015
G3, Cabernet 2013
Chateau Smith, Cabernet, Washington State 2014
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16
Willamette Valley, Rose of Pinot Noir, Whole Clusters 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Ca' del Baio Barbaresco Valgrande 2012
Goodfellow, Reserve Pinot Gris, Clover 2014
Lugana, San Benedetto 2014
Wente, Cabernet, Charles Wetmore 2011
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
King Estate, Pinot Gris 2015
Adelsheim, Pinot Gris 2015
Trader Joe's, Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley 2015
La Vite Lucente, Toscana Red 2013
St. Francis, Cabernet, Sonoma 2013
Kendall-Jackson, Pinot Noir, California 2013
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Napa Valley 2013
Erath, Pinot Noir, Estate Selection 2012
Abbot's Table, Columbia Valley 2014
Intrinsic, Cabernet 2014
Oyster Bay, Pinot Noir 2010
Occhipinti, SP68 Bianco 2014
Layer Cake, Shiraz 2013
Desert Wind, Ruah 2011
WillaKenzie, Pinot Gris 2014
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Des Amis, Rose 2014
Dunham, Trautina 2012
RoxyAnn, Claret 2012
Del Ri, Claret 2012
Stoppa, Emilia, Red 2004
Primarius, Pinot Noir 2013
Domaines Bunan, Bandol Rose 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Deer Creek, Pinot Gris 2015
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Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
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Nine Hats, Red 2013
Benziger, Cabernet, Sonoma 2012
Roxy Ann, Claret 2012
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Conundrum, White 2013
St. Francis, Sonoma Cabernet 2012

The Occasional Book

Marc Maron - Waiting for the Punch
Phil Stanford - Rose City Vice
Kenneth R. Feinberg - What is Life Worth?
Kent Haruf - Our Souls at Night
Peter Carey - True History of the Kelly Gang
Suzanne Collins - The Hunger Games
Amy Stewart - Girl Waits With Gun
Philip Roth - The Plot Against America
Norm Macdonald - Based on a True Story
Christopher Buckley - Boomsday
Ryan Holiday - The Obstacle is the Way
Ruth Sepetys - Between Shades of Gray
Richard Adams - Watership Down
Claire Vaye Watkins - Gold Fame Citrus
Markus Zusak - I am the Messenger
Anthony Doerr - All the Light We Cannot See
James Joyce - Dubliners
Cheryl Strayed - Torch
William Golding - Lord of the Flies
Saul Bellow - Mister Sammler's Planet
Phil Stanford - White House Call Girl
John Kaplan & Jon R. Waltz - The Trial of Jack Ruby
Kent Haruf - Eventide
David Halberstam - Summer of '49
Norman Mailer - The Naked and the Dead
Maria Dermoȗt - The Ten Thousand Things
William Faulkner - As I Lay Dying
Markus Zusak - The Book Thief
Christopher Buckley - Thank You for Smoking
William Shakespeare - Othello
Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness
Bill Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything
Cheryl Strayed - Tiny Beautiful Things
Sara Varon - Bake Sale
Stephen King - 11/22/63
Paul Goldstein - Errors and Omissions
Mark Twain - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Steve Martin - Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
Rudyard Kipling - Kim
Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
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

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 5
At this date last year: 3
Total run in 2017: 113
In 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
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