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Jack Bog's Blog, by Jack Bogdanski of Portland, Oregon

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March 2005 Archives

Thursday, March 31, 2005

The recycling bin just got a little heavier

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.

One item of note in there: Former Mayor Katz wants to start blogging. She's going to ask b!X to use some space over on Portland Communique. If he turns her down, the indication is that she'll seek an outlet elsewhere.

If she calls us, we'll let our readers know right away.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

This one could get away

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.

In Arlington/University Club news...

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.

The genius of our leadership

What does the State of Oregon need right now?

You betcha -- a capital gains tax cut. Gotta have it.

Those of you without capital gains, never mind, you don't need to understand, get back to work.

He'd piss in their fireplace!

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
Roped off
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."

Happy birthday, then. "But I could have told you, Vincent, this world was never meant for one as beautiful as you."

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

A new abbreviation

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.

While we were out

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.

No.1 in Dubrovnic

She's no "Maya Hee," but the keyboardist Belinda is rocking the house over in Croatia.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Skin deep

Now that the Easter Bunny action is slowing down around the house, I just got a look at myself on the videotape of yesterday morning's debut of the Outlook Portland show, with Nick Fish.

The verdict? I look old. An incipient case of old-guy neck and everything. Note to self: Stick to radio.

Cousin Jack rides again

I'm still fooling around with podcasting. Here's my third installment -- an .mp3 file about 8 minutes long. (While bandwidth lasts.)

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Putting 2 and 2 together

A reader who's got a theory writes:

As the earthquake activity in the NW and Eastern Pacific has declined, so have our split jet stream rejoined into one and our normal weather and rain returned.


Is it this simple, or what?

Friday, March 25, 2005

Happy Easter

Going sterile

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.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Musical question

If you had a choice of colors, Which one would you choose, my brother? -- Curtis Mayfield

Set the VCR or Tivo

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.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Emergency appeal

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.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Something for everyone

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.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Nice day to... start again!

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.

What blogs are bringing to the Schiavo case

The same thing the traditional media and the politicians are bringing to it: nothing.

It's a truly sad situation, involving questions for which there will never be final answers on which a society can agree. You want to show respect for life and human rights? Say a silent prayer.

No more Baloney

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.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Podcasting update

[Podcast version (mp3, approx. 5 minutes) here.]

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.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Madness takes its toll

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.

New neighbor

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.

Portland in the news

What kind of impression is Portland making on the rest of the world these days?

Here's something some folks are hearing about. To go along with this.

Friday, March 18, 2005

If the shoe fits

'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.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Bad things, good people

Regular readers here know I love Dave Letterman, and especially enjoy seeing him experience the wonders of family life with his girlfriend, Regina Lasko, and his son, Harry.

That's why this story is so disturbing to me.

Have you seen Junior's fade?

I've heard of bad hair days, but this is ridiculous.


Sometime this morning, as we slept off a rough day, visit no. 300,000 to this blog occurred.

Having this site, and the ability to communicate with so many fine folks whenever I want, is one of life's many blessings. Thanks for being here.

Erin Go Bragh

I'm more Irish than anything else. My mom's dad and my dad's mom were both Irish through and through.

Which is why I love the Big Guy and know the song.

Happy St. Paddy's, all.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Give those meth heads streetcar passes!

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.

There's only one thing to do at a time like this:


Tuesday, March 15, 2005

In the comment bag

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?

That time again

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.

But heck, I'll try to watch all 72. (Via Mellow-Drama.)

"it's not going to new york that worries me so much as coming back."

Here Today is a Portland blog, running since September, that I hadn't come across.

Until now.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Now hear this

For the last post under my original contract with Marqui, I thought I'd "go mp3" with this podcast (2 min., 35 sec.).

UPDATE, 2:21 a.m. 3/14: Guess I don't have the volume control thing down too well yet. As so many rock bands have advised, turn it up!

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Denial is not just a river in Egypt

Brian and Laurel over at HinesSight sound off on global warming.

Good at what he does

Here's a guy I admire.

Celebrate good times, come on!

Whoopee, they just opened the extension of the Portland streetcar, down to RiverPlace. Hop on and head down to see the empty apartments and storefronts.

Some exciting facts:

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.

Friday, March 11, 2005

A gifted writer

Cousin (and blogchild) James is on a major roll over at Parkway Rest Stop. This guy can tell a story, folks, and he's been knocking some especially good ones out lately.

Check out his early days in the rock and roll business, here, here and here. And his sports car story here.

And if you weren't around for Sgt. Steele or James's boot camp yarns, you are in for a treat.

My plan to buy PGE

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.

See how easy that was?

Thursday, March 10, 2005

This is nuts

Today I fired up the air conditioner in the car.

In Portland, Oregon.

On the 10th of March.

So now what?

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.

Texas Pacific deal denied!

Guess I was wrong!

Although I'm very nervous about the City of Portland's next move, this is a sure sign that things are changing for the better around here.

To Neil, Tom Walsh, and Dr. Kohler, let me offer my sincerest... bwahahahahahaaaa!


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.

Wednesday, March 9, 2005

Hangin' in there

I'm a WordPerfect guy at heart.

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!

Strangely Cathartic Website of the Week

For some reason, I had to watch 'em all.

(Via Sport Bucket.)

Tuesday, March 8, 2005

He strove for perfection

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.

Burn, baby, burn

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.

Hats off

To all my friends and family of the female persuasion, Happy International Women's Day.

Monday, March 7, 2005

New developments

A couple of followup notes regarding taxes:

Richard Hatch, the naked Survivor winner who apparently didn't report his TV winnings on his tax return, has withdrawn his agreement to plead guilty to a tax crime. Now his case will go to Tribal Council -- er, I mean, a federal grand jury.

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.

A valuable blogging tool

Get yours here.

Marqui time again

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.

Sunday, March 6, 2005

Who'll start the rain?

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.

Saturday, March 5, 2005

You're not fooling this guy

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.

As Randy Newman once sang, Get 'em, Dan.

Friday, March 4, 2005

St. Charles Place

Martha Stewart's out of prison, whisked away to her palace where she'll serve house arrest for a while. Some punishment.

But you know what? She did her time, and now she's entitled to come back stronger than ever. She probably will. And I don't begrudge her her inevitable reunion with success.

Today's the day, isn't it?

Isn't today the day that the PUC is supposed to rule on the Texas Pacific takeover of PGE?

My prediction: Approved, with conditions. There's no way Ted's going to say no to his former hero and mentor.

Dear Mayor Potter

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.

Anyway, thanks again.

Jack Bogdanski

Thursday, March 3, 2005

Na na na na / Na na na na / Hey hey hey



Are the Blazers up for sale?

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.

Wednesday, March 2, 2005

Celebrity sighting

In the Portland Airport this morning: Bennett Salvatore, NBA referee. I tried to catch up with him and ask for an autograph, but he got away.

Tuesday, March 1, 2005

Just checking in

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!

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