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

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December 2008 Archives

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ring out the old

Question of the Day

Got plans for tonight?

The great-great-aunt says that's what she heard

The latest Palin baby story gets fishier and fishier by the day. Now it turns out that the only media outlet claiming any firsthand information about the blessed event, People magazine, says it got its information from Sarah Palin's aunt, Colleen Jones. And Jones says she only knows about it because she got an e-mail about it from her sister, Sarah Palin's mother. Jones lives in Kennewick, Washington; the many Palins live in Alaska.

No one has claimed to have seen this baby. No one has claimed to have a photo of this baby. There is confusion about the date of birth. There is confusion about the birth weight. No one knows where the baby was born. But hey, some distant relative of Sarah Palin says she got an e-mail saying that Bristol Palin just had a baby, and that's good enough for the mainstream media in the United States.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Blazers beat Celtics without Roy

Big character-builder.

A small 'dog is movin' in

It was a dud of a week for me in the pro football underdog pool. I went with Buffalo over New England, which in turn went nowhere. One of the players ahead of me had Indy over Tennessee, which was a winner, and so now I'm 3½ points out of second place, 4 points out of first. Behind me, four players had the wild Oakland win over Tampa Bay, and with their 13-point pickups I now have a couple of folks 11½ points behind me in the race for third place.

This week's setup is out, and there won't be a whole lot of movement this time around. All four home teams are favored to lose, but not by much:

3 MIAMI vs. Baltimore
3 MINNESOTA vs. Philadelphia
2 ARIZONA vs. Atlanta
1.5 SAN DIEGO vs. Indianapolis

So which of the four underdogs (in caps) should I choose to win its game outright? The point spread is not relevant, except insofar as that's how many points I'll get for a correct pick.

Part of the game at this point is not picking the same games as the players ahead of you. If we all choose the same teams throughout the rest of the pool, I won't advance. Here's what the two players ahead of me said over the last five weeks (winning games marked with an asterisk), if that's any indication of where they'll go this week:

First-place player

Indy vs. Tennessee*
St. Louis vs. San Francisco
Cincinnati vs. Washington*
San Francisco vs. NY Jets*
New Orleans at Tampa Bay

Second-place player

Denver at San Diego
Carolina at NY Giants
Cincinnati vs. Washington*
Houston at Green Bay*
Atlanta at San Diego*

Next week, the spreads should be larger, but again there will be only four games. After that is the final week of the pool -- only two games, probably with a smallish point spread. It's entirely possible that things will be completely settled before that last week's kickoff.

Anyway, readers, I'm counting on you once again for some advice for this week. Miami, Minnesota, Arizona, or San Diego?

UPDATE, 9:35 p.m.: Hey, let's make it easy:

Which pro football underdog is most likely to win its playoff game outright this weekend?
Miami over Baltimore
Minnesota over Philadelphia
Arizona over Atlanta
San Diego over Indianapolis
pollcode.com free polls

Since two of the games are on Saturday, please vote by Friday night.

Did Bristol Palin really just give birth?


Getting ready

Portland Mayor-elect Sam the Tram Adams is reportedly putting the finishing touches on his inaugural speech, which will be delivered at a midnight ceremony tomorrow night at the Arlington Club. Adams will be sworn in by Catholic Archbishop John Vlazny, after which Randy Gragg, editor of Portland Spaced magazine, will read two of his original poems. Although City Hall observers don't anticipate many bombshell announcements as part of the new mayor's address, Adams is expected to unveil the city's plan to fit all of the its new public toilets, known as the "Portland Loos," with free wi-fi access. Adams is scheduled to be joined on the platform by Fireman Randy Leonard, who recently became the first openly goofball commissioner of a major U.S. city.

Long lost friend

The recycling truck is here. First time in three weeks.

21 days to the inauguration

Can we make it that long before a Big One goes off somewhere?

Where are Schrunk, Kroger, and Avakian?

Why are the taxpayers paying $75 an hour to have somebody look into this? Isn't this the kind of thing that we have detectives, DA's, and a labor commissioner for?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Another Palin birth story

Sarah Palin's daughter had her baby yesterday.

No, wait... it was Saturday.

Seven pounds, 4 ounces.

No wait... seven pounds, 7 ounces.

Uh huh.

New look

I see they have come up with a unique license plate design in Illinois.

"Priority" mail: Nine days

Remember our trip to the Post Office at the start of the snow craziness on the Saturday before Christmas? Among the postage we paid was $11.50 to send a small package to New Jersey via "priority" mail -- two to three business days, supposedly. It got there today -- five business days, and nine calendar days, later.

Now, of course, some of the delay can be blamed on Portland's bad weather. Given all the disruption at our airport around the time I mailed the package, it probably didn't leave town on time. But the crazy part is, as of last Wednesday, the 24th, it was sitting in a postal facility in Warrendale, Pennsylvania -- somewhere around Pittsburgh. It took three more working days to get from there to northern New Jersey, where the recipient lives across the street from the post office.

Next year, and all future years: UPS.

Nobody's watching

As the Oregonian continues to liquidate, offering less and less information by the month, the contribution from the kids at the Merc is also suddenly looking shaky. First, Amy Ruiz announces that she's quitting for a job as part of the Mayor Sam the Tram municipal nervous breakdown team -- a job for which she is well suited. (Full disclosure: She hates me.) Then Matt Davis, that other Merc charmer, starts writing public love letters to Nick Fish. Not to mention that at the Trib, Phil Stanford has left the building.

The politicians have got to be loving this. Just as the American media is essentially no longer covering the Iraq war, now there are precious few reporters hanging around Portland City Hall who know their derriere from a charrette and have enough guts to ask a hard question. Bad news, people.

Portland taxpayers: Hope you're not broke

Because you definitely are going to "need" some of these.

Portland terrorized

... badly confused by strange yellow light in sky. Film at 11.

Guess what doesn't work in snow


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Dangerous storm blowing toward Portland

The Boston Celtics won by 45 tonight in Sacramento.

Where waste happens

Interesting story in the Salt Lake paper the other day about charitable foundations set up by professional basketball players. Bottom line: They generally aren't run well, a lot of their cash goes for overhead and partying, and several appear to be in violation of the tax laws. (Via TaxProf Blog.)

Plenty of action down the cellar

This story about the resurgence of coal as a home heating fuel in some parts of the country brought back memories of my early childhood, when coal furnaces heated the steam radiators in the fourplex in which I grew up on the east side of Newark. These furnaces were lit, loaded, and cleaned by hand, and all the grownups got in on the action.

Every few hours during the winter months, somebody would have to head "down the cellar," get the big shovel out, and throw some more coal onto the fire. The level of heat was controlled with some sort of boiler or other contraption right on the furnace -- no apartment thermostats in those days -- and every now and then hot ash would have to be emptied out of the bottom. Knee-high, heavy metal cans, which had previously held some chemical substance or other from a nearby manufacturing plant, were recycled as ash cans -- just as larger versions of said cans were used to hold our garbage.

We kids were allowed to come down and watch the furnace-tending, but never to get too involved in the process. The grownups all had their own styles of heaving the coal into the furnaces, whose burning chambers were about waist-high. Some took a half-full shovel and tipped it to let its contents slide in gracefully; others loaded the shovel over the brim, stood back a step, and gave the coal a good heave-ho. The furnace doors were heavy metal things that made creaking noises, and there was some sort of handle toward the bottom of the unit that you turned or pumped to get the clinkers to fall into the ash bin. There was an art to getting the intensity and duration of the fire just right.

It was a dirty process, to be sure, and it took arm strength. Just the other day I was wielding that same type of shovel to clear snow and ice from around our house here in Portland. Even the modern-day version of this tool is not light; one can only imagine how much they weighed 50 years ago.

Now, did every unit in the fourplex have its own furnace, or were there only two? Perhaps it was one furnace for the right side of the complex, and one for the left. There were at least two.

Once in a blue moon, we kids would be allowed to climb around and get filthy in the coal bins, which were small rooms in the corners of the cellar with small, high windows that opened to the outside. Through these windows the coal would be delivered every now and then, down long chutes -- tons at a time, in big truckloads from the Koppers Coke Company, which had an office up at the east end of Market Street. If I am not mistaken, coke is a byproduct of some awful process that is done to raw coal after it comes out of the ground in Pennsylvania. I'm sure that playing on it as a kid was not the healthiest thing in the world, not to mention breathing the air around the hundreds of homes and businesses that were burning it in those days. But it beat freezing to death.

At Christmastime, the abundant fuel supply right downstairs from the holiday tree made it easy for Santa Claus to leave coal in the stockings of naughty boys. Every year my brother and I would find one piece at the very bottom of each of our stockings as a reminder that although basically good, we weren't perfect. One year, when we were driving everyone particularly batty around the holidays, we each received two lumps of genuine Koppers Coke courtesy of Saint Nicholas.

Sometime in the early '60s, we abandoned coal as our heat source. A more modern furnace, which I believe burned oil, was installed, along with magic thermostats. The coal bins were taken out, the ash cans were put away, and nobody had to head down the cellar to stoke the furnace any more. For that, life was much better.

Taking the SAT (Steaming Aptitude Test)

We kid from time to time about all the "creative class" types who come to Portland and wind up waiting tables. But it's reality.

Scroll down

Here's a news story that might not be all that noteworthy, until you read the comment left below it.

American Bandstand

Among our nation's many sacrileges over the past six years is the use of music as a means of psychological torture. The temptation to make a cheap joke here is great, until you ponder the fact that we've purposely, literally driven people insane with it.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Oden has a good game

Against Jermaine O'Neal and the Raptors, the Blazers' great hope scored 16 points and had 10 rebounds. As I said last night, if he can do this consistently, the doubts about him will disappear.

Meanwhile, toward the end of the game, it became quite apparent that the Blazers don't have a legitimate offensive strategy, other than give the ball to Brandon Roy, get out of the way, and hang around the three-point line for a long shot if he passes it out. That is problematic.

As the Raptors, who have lost six of their last eight, leave town, the world champ Boston Celtics will roll in. They were beaten in L.A. on Christmas and in Oakland last night, and they're playing in Sac'to tomorrow before visiting the Blazers on Tuesday. They're in a rough stretch on their schedule, but they'll be hungry.

I'll wait for the DVD

Don't want to deal with this guy.

Last call for this week's 'dogs

Just a few hours left before I have to make a call in this week's round of the pro football underdog pool. It's a crucial week for a lot of the teams, and a crucial week for me as a player in the pool. Here's the slate of games -- see anybody in there among the 'dogs (in caps) who will win their game outright?

God rest Edith Macefield

A native Oregonian and a legend in Seattle.

Hate for Christmas

Is it the Republican way?

The lights go out on Obama

A crazy night for the First Family-elect in Hawaii.


Here's Bush a while back with the father of the guy he pardoned and unpardoned this week.

Under the tree

The youngest in our house got this for Christmas. But it's the old folks who can't keep their hands off it. If you'd like to lose some of your weekend, an online version of it can be found here.

Friday, December 26, 2008

They asked for it

I see that the Portland Water Bureau held a holiday song contest, won by this paean to Fireman Randy. But hey, readers, surely we can do better than "Randy the Water Bureau Commissioner" -- which doesn't even scan! What other Yuletide ditties can be adapted to Portlandia? How about "Jingle Bells" re-done as "PDC"? "Chasse Got Run Over by a Thumper"? "What Scam is This"? "O Come All Ye Gullible"? "I Saw Foxworth Kissing Westerman"?

Clutch player

Nothing riles up readers more than discussion of Sarah Palin's miracle birth (another one is due any day now). But discussion of Greg Oden comes in second. Last night, as the Blazers showed how they are not quite ready for the second round of the playoffs, mostly because they are weakly coached on offense, Mr. Oden had a big 4 points and 5 rebounds in 25 minutes on the floor.

The other night, in a comment, I wrote:

Somewhere later in the season, I'll bet the pressure is going to be put on Nate and the boys to make Oden into an NBA player faster. Could wind up costing some games.
Today, my friend Dwight Jaynes wrote:
A lot of you are ready to pull the plug on him, but I would go the other way. I continue to believe he needs more than six shots a game if he’s going to improve. I don’t care if it ends up costing the team games, this guy is the hub for everything that’s going to happen here and his improvement must be maximized.
Yep. Oden is going to learn how to drive a stick shift on your car, because he's going to be the next Mario Andretti.

Another great deal for Portland

A couple of alert readers, fearing that holiday merriment might not raise our blood pressure to its accustomed Christmas week levels, have sent along links to the latest "urban renewal" malarkey from the City of Portland. It seems the city's genius negotiators are getting ready to buy the Main Post Office at a price that includes a 50 percent premium above market value. This, of course, comes at a time of plummeting real estate values, which seems more than a little counterproductive.

But hey. Why get upset? This is standard procedure for Portland. And it's only half the story. The other half will be when they declare the site "blighted" and sell it to Homer Williams, Hank Ashforth, Joe Weston, or some such scoundrel for $1. Maybe throw in 10 or 15 years of tax abatements, too.

Then the Post Office will be promptly demolished, and a soulless, fake New York will be erected on the site. The good-paying, blue-collar postal jobs will be moved out of the city, to some place like Woodburn. Retirees from Orange County will move in and live their streetcar lives. And if you're downtown on a Saturday and want to mail a package, you won't be able to.

This is classic "urban renewal" progress in Portland. And with the brief moment of sanity known as the Potter administration ending in a few days, this sort of thing is going to be going hot and heavy from here on out -- all the way to the inevitable bankruptcy down the road.

Slight delay in the bad news

The actuarial estimate of the City of Portland's huge unfunded liability for police and firefighter pensions has been delayed. Originally scheduled to be released this month, the dreaded number is now "expected the end of January," according to a spokesperson for police and fire disability and retirement fund. Our city debt clock (in the left sidebar) currently has the unfunded liability at almost $2.5 billion, and growing.

A Christmas carol

Bush pardoned, and then unpardoned, a guy this week.

Your next bike race?

Make sure you can handle Seattle-to-Portland before tackling this one.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

There were in the country shepherds, who stayed out in the field watching over their flocks all night. And the Angel of the Lord came down to them, and a bright light shone all around them, and they were afraid. But the Angel said to them, "Fear not, for I bring you good news that shall give joy to all people. There is born for you this day, in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this is the way you shall know him: You shall find him wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger."

When the Angel had said this, suddenly there were many other angels with him, who praised God, saying, "Glory be to God on high, and on Earth peace, good will toward men."

After the angels had gone from them up into heaven, the shepherds said, "Let us go now to Bethlehem and see these things the Angel has told us about." And they went quickly and found Mary and Joseph and the Babe lying in a manger. And they saw the child, and afterward went out and told others what the Angel had said to them. Everyone they told wondered at what they said. Then the shepherds returned to their flocks again, praising God for what they had seen and heard.

Have a wonderful time

I had an uncle who was 92 octane

Another L.A. trend doubtlessly on its way to Portlandia.

A great recipe for leftovers

If you been too snowed in to spend all your holiday budget, and you're still in the mood to give, you couldn't pick a better place to look than here.

This year's model

Some Portland cyclists may be hoping to find one of these under their trees tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Ghost of Christmas Past

A beautiful day just got more beautiful

This game replays at midnight and then again tomorrow night at 8. (Thanks, Bean, for the tip.)

Grandma got run over by an underdog (updated)

I had a wonderful weekend in the pro football underdog pool in which I play. Aided and abetted by comments from several alert readers, I had a big winner on Sunday with Buffalo over Denver. The two people ahead of me in the pool both went wrong -- one with the Panthers and the other with the Rams -- and so now I am back in serious contention for the top money prize in the season-long pool. I am just 1 point out of second place, and a mere 3½ points from the top spot. The nearest player behind me is now 20½ points back, and so my main focus is getting ahead, not avoiding falling behind.

The oddsmakers were a little sluggish, but at this hour we now have all the games rated. See any underdogs (in caps) that can win their games outright? The point spreads are relevant only in that that's how many points I'll rack up if I pick correctly:

15 ST. LOUIS at Atlanta
13 OAKLAND at Tampa Bay
12.5 JACKSONVILLE at Baltimore
10.5 CLEVELAND at Pittsburgh
9.5 DETROIT at Green Bay
8.5 DENVER at San Diego
6.5 BUFFALO vs. New England
6.5 NY GIANTS at Minnesota
6 SEATTLE at Arizona
3 KANSAS CITY at Cincinnati
3 INDIANAPOLIS vs. Tennessee
3 NEW ORLEANS vs. Carolina
3 WASHINGTON at San Francisco
2.5 MIAMI at NY Jets
2.5 CHICAGO at Houston
1 DALLAS at Philadelphia

All this week's games are on Sunday, so there's no question about putting in for an early 'dog.

The pool continues through the playoffs, but this is the last weekend of a full slate of games, where big point spreads are seen and pool players go in all directions. It's the last chance for anyone to make a big move -- not that trying to do so is necessarily a good thing at this point.

Readers, you have been a great help with this all season long. Push me across the goal line so that I take the top prize! Whom do you like this week?

A beautiful sight, we're happy tonight

Here's a fine satellite view of the snow conditions in and around Portland as of last Tuesday.

City of Portland population grew 1.33%, says PSU

The latest official population estimates for Oregon have been released by the nose-counting experts at Portland State University. As of July 1 of this year, they put the City of Portland's total at 575,930 residents. That is a 1.33 percent increase over the year before. The three-year compounded growth rate was 1.29 percent a year.

We've adjusted the city debt clock in our left sidebar accordingly.

It's important to keep the growth rate in perspective as city officials keep telling us how many zillion more people will be moving to Portland in the years ahead. At least if we're talking about within the city limits, the growth won't be all that dramatic. Over the next decade, at current growth rates the city will add about 79,000 more residents; over the next two decades, about 169,000.

The U.S. Census Bureau won't have its corresponding number out for a while, but the last figure it released was around 18,000 lower than the PSU estimate for the same date. The two numbers likely won't be reconciled until the 2010 census, which, believe it or not, is just over a year away.

Monday, December 22, 2008

He knows if you've been bad or good

But Santa doesn't like the police state.

As if the jails weren't full enough

Now it's a crime to be annoying.


Peet's at NE 15th and Broadway was closed again today because of weather. What the heck? We skied over to Costello's Travel Caffé and picked up our beans over there. Cozy and crowded.

America the Gullible

Where'd our kids' future go? Don't even ask.

And when those blue snowflakes start falling

The winter wonderland looks as though it will be staying with us for a while longer. It's supposed to warm up any day now, but we've got lots of white stuff on the ground, and nighttime temperatures are supposed to be below freezing until the end of the week.

I feel bad for the retailers, who are already reeling from the economy. With all the closures and weather scares of the past week and change, they're probably having the worst year ever. For them, Christmas just wasn't meant to be this year. And for many, there may not be a next year.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Lots more cross-country skiing on Portland streets today. Magical times.

Helping the helpers

The winner of our comments contest on Buck-a-Hit Day, Oregbear, has designated our $250 contribution to his favorite charity as follows:

After thinking about it a while, I really think I need to stipulate that the $250 go to Ronald McDonald House. About 18 months ago, my nephew and his wife had a newborn daughter (born in Boise) with severe heart problems. At 2 days of age, she was flown to Doernbecher Hospital and spent 1 month there, undergoing two very intense heart operations. While she was hospitalized, her parents were privileged to stay at the Ronald McDonald House (adjacent to Doernbecher) and it was a God-send!

I hope this choice meets with your approval.

Oh... the baby is 19 months old and thriving! I know that Ronald McDonald House and Doernbecher were instrumental in helping the parents survive the stress of that first month.

The check will go out as soon as the inclement weather lets up.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

All is calm, all is bright

On this remarkable evening in Portland, we spent around four hours outside in the winter weather. This is a snow rarely seen in these parts -- dry powder, so light that the gusty east winds are blowing it into bona fide drifts. I took our five-year-old out on a sled pull to Irving Park, where the familiar slope was there for our solstice sliding pleasure. Then I broke out the cross-country skis, as I'd been hoping to do all week, and took a good long cruise from Irvington down to Laurelhurst to say hello to some friends.

It's a dreamy scene out there. The snow sparkled on the ground as a blizzard of tiny flakes added to the pile-up. There weren't many cars, even on the main roads, and the packed snow on the streets was excellent for the skis. The folks who were out on foot, some walking their dogs, were all cordial and seemed to be out of their normal shells. Two men stood on the corner of 28th and Sandy, carrying on a conversation as if nothing unusual were happening around them. In no hurry to get anywhere in particular.

The little loop I made showed me the same old places in an entirely new light. For some reason I felt in touch with the people of a hundred years ago, who built these houses and laid out these streets. It snowed on them once in a while, too, I'm sure. They didn't have the garish front porch displays of Christmas lights to light their way, but I'm sure there were as many Christmas trees in the windows of the houses. And that same east wind, supplying pretty much the only sound breaking the quiet. Except for when that freight train shuffling through Sullivan's Gulch let out a long, lonesome whistle.

It may not be a once-in-a-lifetime night, but ones like this don't come along often.

Protect your reptile

Keep it warm.

Eyewitness snowstorm report!

Portlanders are so funny. After a week of cancelling all activities for no good reason, today, when the serious snow finally starts falling, everybody's out. We headed out in the van for a few errands at around noontime, expecting to find little company on the roads. Were we ever wrong. Granted, it was a lot emptier than the Saturday before Christmas would be if there were no snow. But still, there were quite a few fellow motorists on the snow-packed streets.

Here's a firsthand report from about an hour ago: NE Broadway/Weidler couplet, functioning fine. Many vehicles with chains -- or, like us, with these most wonderful devices -- but about half without. Not a grain of sand or gravel to be seen except right around the overpass at I-5. But the packed snow not seeming particularly slick.

Main Post Office, open for business and moving along quite smoothly. Much shorter lines than one would encounter on the last day for Priority Mail to get there before Christmas. It's a great and well located facility. Of course, this being Portland, the city fathers will be buying it up and handing it over to the condo tower weasels at the next opportunity.

Liquor store on NE Ninth off Broadway: Very much open, and doing a brisk business. Safeway at Lloyd Center: Seemingly just another Saturday. Whole Foods at 15th and Fremont: Not overly busy, but then again, it never seems to be.

With that, we headed back to the house, where our furnace has decided to go on the blink. This thing always picks the worst times to go out. New Year's Eve at 4 in the afternoon, holiday weekend Friday at 5, etc. Our furnace guy says he's coming by to help before the day is through. Let's hope so. Brrrr!

UPDATE, 3:21 p.m.: Our furnace guy -- a true American small business owner -- made his way here through the storm and had us up and running in a half hour. These high efficiency natural gas furnaces extract a lot of water from the fuel, and if it's not drained off properly, a safety switch blocks normal operations. He cleared something that was gumming up a drainage line, and voilà! Domestic tranquility restored. He's the man.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Welcome to our Cyber-office Christmas Party

Comments contest winner: Oregbear!

With all the holiday merriment going on at our cyber-office Christmas party, we neglected to announce that the winner of our comments contest on Buck-a-Hit Day this past Wednesday was "Oregbear," for this comment. It was a most worthy entry, as were the other finalists. Thanks to those who commented, and those who voted for the best comment of the day.

Now Oregbear will get to steer $250 of my money to a charity of his or her choice. If he or she would please step forward and let me know who that might be, we'll get the check out quick.

And now, back to the party...

Great news!

Bush is rescuing the auto industry.

Special people in a special place

Yesterday was an important day at the Sarah Palin household. Not only was it the due date for the new arrival, but also this happened.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Buh-randon Ah-roy

... is tearing things up this evening.

Santa is a sex offender

Here's a sad, but alas not surprising, story.

Am I hallucinating?

I just saw a Steve Novick for U.S. Senate commercial on the Comcast Cable version of TNT, during halftime of the Blazer game!

Last chance

Are you like me -- do you feel a little sheepish shopping at a going-out-of-business sale at a mom-and-pop retail establishment? There you are, going to town, stocking up on stuff that's being liquidated below cost, while the owner watches you, thinking, "You cheap s.o.b.! Where were you when I was sitting here in an empty store?"

Today I had that feeling in the venerable Paper Garden, next door to Peet's on NE 15th Avenue (just north of Broadway) in Portland's Irvington neighborhood. Everything in the place is 50 percent off, and tomorrow's the last day. High-class stationery, fancy soaps, a little jewelry, handbags, candles -- it's all there for just one more day. We love the deals we got today, but we're truly sad that the place is folding.

Come as you are

Don't forget, we're having a Cyber-office Christmas Party here tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. Don't miss it! We explained the benefits of attendance in last year's invitation:

As in so many other areas, the internet provides a superior alternative to real life. At our cyber-party, it won't matter:

- What, if anything, you're wearing.

- How drunk your date is.

- Who your date is.

- Whether you can remember anyone's name.

- Whether you can remember your own name.

Should be fun. Stay in your cubicle and party at the same time!

Indeed. Hope to have you back here with us at 2:30 or thereabouts tomorrow. We'll party 'til whenever.

Reader poll: Who left the best comment?

Yesterday's Buck-a-Hit Day was a nice success, and as a group we're going to give more than $10,000 to Oregon charities as a result. But there's one bit of unfinished business: We have yet to designate where $250 of the charity loot will be going. That decision will be made by whoever wins our contest as author of the best comment posted here yesterday. And the judges in that contest are you.

We never said what "best" was supposed to mean, and so you can vote based on any criteria, or none at all. Here are the contestants, in chronological order:

Continue reading "Reader poll: Who left the best comment?" »

They'll just have to make do with last year's Jaguar

Caught red-handed taking out huge bonuses during supposed hard times, the suits at OHSU have suddenly agreed to take a 20 percent pay cut. Since they regularly get bonuses of 30 to 40 percent, this is hardly going to break any of them. The head honcho up there, Doctor Scrooge, pulled down a cool $1.1 million last year.

Anyway, thanks to Ted Sickinger at the O for busting these people. And I still hope that when they parade down to Salem in a few weeks and ask for more tax money, the legislators laugh them right out of the Capitol.

Tick tock, ya don't stop

The morning has brought a light dusting of snow here in Portland, and it's also brought a light dusting of additional contributions to our Buck-a-Hit Day fundraiser from yesterday. With the new contributions, the total we're giving to charity stands at $10,115. Fantastic! Thank you!

UPDATE, 12:30 p.m.: Here are the final numbers for the day:

Oregon Food Bank$7382.67
Sisters of the Road$697.59
Children's Heart Foundation$235.55
Human Solutions$489.22
Virginia Garcia Clinic$1059.97
Charity to be named by comments contest winner$250.00
Grand total$10,115.00

Cyber-office party tomorrow afternoon

It's time for our virtual holiday office party! Come back tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. for the second annual festivities. As we described them in last year's invitation:

We were thinking the other day that people who work from home don't get the joys and tribulations of an office Christmas party every year. And why should they be deprived? And so on Friday, we'll be holding our first-ever cyber-office Christmas party on this blog. The function will start at around 2:30 p.m. and go to whenever. It's BYOB, so get your favorite holiday libation ready and join us on line. We'll have YouTube videos to keep us entertained, and we'll probably play a few games. After everyone's had a few, we'll all join virtual hands and tell stories of Christmases past, present, and future. We'll ask readers to share with us their own amusements. At the end of the festivities, no one will try to follow you home, because you will already be there. And hey -- no need for scented gum or Altoids! Hope you can make it.
And remember -- what happens at our virtual holiday office party, stays at our virtual holiday office party. Hope to see you back here for some egg nog tomorrow.

Buck-a-Hit Day: Thank you, readers!

As we turn the page on our sixth annual Buck-a-Hit Day, we're grateful to everyone who made the day such a great success. The bojack.org Gift-Giving Crew is donating $9,920 to charity as a result of the day's festivities! $5,000 is for our first 5,000 hits; no. 5,000 came in at 11:02 p.m. Another $2,570 of gifts are from visitors who clicked on our "Donate" buttons, with $2,100 of that being matched by us and our friends. Finally, we're throwing in $250 to a charity being picked by the winner of our comments contest, which will be judged by readers later today.

Speaking of later today, it's been an exciting event, but now we're bushed. More on the final accounting and the comments contest in the morning. Meanwhile, if you're late to the party and want to be part of it, our five "Donate" buttons are still fully functional, on this post. Take us over $10,000 if you like!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Welcome to Buck-a-Hit Day

Thanks for coming to this blog on our sixth annual Buck-a-Hit Day. Just by visiting here today, you have caused the bojack.org Gift-Giving Team to give $1 to the Oregon Food Bank. One of our readers, Mr. Fearless, has pledged to keep donating a buck to the OFB for every visit to this blog today -- through 5,000 unique visits. You can track our total hit count for the day so far by going here; the controlling statistic is the fifth line down -- "Today."

Now that you've shaken a dollar out of us, please don't leave just yet. Don't miss your chance to subvert some of the action to your own favorite charity. The best comment left attached to this post will get to designate where $250 of our kitty goes. Make us laugh, make us cry, make us think, whatever -- the criteria for "best" are wide open. Something having to do with the spirit of the season would be welcome. Even a link to an original photo of yours would be good. We'll pull out six or so contenders from the comments tonight, and hold a reader poll tomorrow to see which commenter gets to make the call.

Last but not least, here is your chance to help our charities. Please click on one or more of the five buttons below and give generously to the organization pictured. You'll go to a secure PayPal site, which will take your credit card info if you don't have a PayPal account. (We pay all PayPal fees; every dollar you give goes to charity.) Please enter the amount of your donation, and "Update total." Then either log in to your PayPal account or click "Continue" above the credit card logos.

No donation is too small! Total reader contributions of up to $2,100 will be matched, dollar for dollar, by some special friends of this blog, Michael and Anne, and by us:

For more information about these excellent charities, you can check out their websites here:

Sisters of the Road Cafe
Children's Heart Foundation, Oregon Chapter
Human Solutions
Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center
Oregon Food Bank

If you'd like a receipt (contributions are tax-deductible for you deduction-itemizers out there), just leave a note with your donation, or email me here. Be sure to include in the note your name and address, and the amount you've contributed.

If we get our 5,000 unique visits and fill out our match of $2,100, then adding in the $250 to the comment contest winner's charity, we'll be raising $9,450 for charity here today. Now, that would be awesome.

Regardless of whether you donate or comment, thank you for coming by today. If you are a newcomer to this blog, we hope that you will look around the site a bit (the archives are on the left sidebar, if you're interested), and come back again another day. And please don't hesitate to get out the word to others who may want to visit and give before this day is out. We'll need lots of help to get to 5,000 hits.

UPDATE, 11:32 p.m.: We did it!!! Our 5,000th hit came in at 11:02 p.m. And at this point readers have chipped in $2,570 by clicking on our "Donate" buttons. And so with almost an hour to go in Buck-a-Hit Day, we've raised $9,920 for charity here today. Amazing! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

It's not too late to be part of this. If you have not already done so, think about clicking on one of those "Donate" buttons above. No contribution is too small. We pay the handling fees, and so every dollar you contribute goes to the charity pictured.

And please, leave a comment about this season below; our comments contest remains open 'til midnight, and if you leave a good comment, you might just get to play the philanthropist with $250 of my money.

UPDATE, 12/18, 12:12 a.m.: A wrapup of the day is here.

What? No condos?

If this project in Mount Tabor Park gets built the way they're showing it here, it would be a nice victory for the neighbors, and for the rest of us residents here in Portland.

I just called to say, "It's taxable"

And I mean it from the bottom of my heart.

Portland weather forecasters: "Wolf! Wolf!"

All the shrill warnings about bad weather in Portland turned out to be wrong again today. The city's had two days of shutdowns so far this week, and as it turned out, there was no need for either of them. It's tough figuring out what the weather's going to do around here at this time of year. For that very reason, until conditions are actually deteriorating in a serious way, the people with their fingers on the "day off" switches ought to restrain themselves.

Fun and games in your car in SoWhat

This video shot on Monday:

Thinking snow

One of the great joys of life is cross-country skiing around the neighborhood during a snowstorm. The weather guessers tell us that today's the day. I'm ready.

Grampy's prize

I see that lame duck Portland Mayor Tom Potter's "vision" project has won some sort of award from an outfit named the American Planning Association. It figures.

What started out as a reasonable-sounding attempt to sound out Portlanders on the city's future soon went daffy, with questionnaires being translated into a bevy of foreign languages. Then, when the responses came back, many of them highly negative of the city's penchant for worthless toys, they were handed over to the army of paid municipal planner types, who immediately threw most of them away and substituted a truckload of bureaucratic pap:

Shaped by the Willamette and Columbia rivers, Portland connects people and nature to create an international model of equity and sustainability.

We are a city of communities. Our distinct neighborhoods and vibrant downtown are safe, energizing civic and cultural spaces.

Our diverse population, innovative businesses and forward-thinking leaders work together to ensure livability for all.

There's some serious smell wafting off that one. This was a clear case of abusing a public involvement process to make it look as though the bureaucrats' pipedreams are actually what the people want. Not only does the Portland brand of government have to tell everyone how to live, but it also feels compelled to make it look as if that is what the public asked for.

In the end, the "vision" thing turned out to have nothing to do with what residents wrote in the blanks on those questionnaires, and everything to do with justifying more useless and controlling bureaucracy. For that reason, an award from the American Planning Association couldn't be more appropriate.

Nonsurprise of the Week

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (R-N.Y.) took money from one of the worst Wall Street fraud artists of all time.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

We interrupt this blog for a live storm update

About six hours ago, we warned readers that a new blast of snow and ice was heading Portland's way. Here's an update: It's still coming! And now it's six hours closer than before. It could start just around sunrise. Or maybe later. Or maybe sooner!

They're closing the schools based on the forecasts. They're cancelling everything. Snow -- snow, people! And maybe freezing rain -- freezing rain! Don't take chances. Put your life on hold. Remain in your home. And stay tuned to bojack.org Storm Center 9000.2 for further updates.

'Dog days begin to wane

Snow is flying and Christmas is near, but the big daddies of pro football keep pounding each other. There are two weekends to go in the regular season, and then it's on to the playoffs.

In the underdog pool in which I play, last week I found no inspiration and lamely chose Oakland over New England -- a pick that proved gruesomely wrong in about the first five minutes of the game. I don't feel too bad, because the only other selections that looked good to me were Kansas City and San Francisco, and they both bit it as well. Meanwhile, however, the two people with whom I was jockeying for the lead in the pool correctly picked Cincinnati over the Redskins, and so they've pulled quite a bit ahead of me in first and second place. (The two of them divine their choices every week by reading the entrails of freshly killed mammals, I swear.)

Anyway, I'm now 10½ points behind first place and 8 points behind second, but still a comfortable 15 points ahead of the fourth-place player. Now more than ever, I need a win, and for the evil powers ahead of me to fail.

So help me out, readers: Who in this pack of underdogs (in caps) can win its game outright (no fair using the spread) this week? If I pick correctly, I get the number of points specified on the left:

8 ARIZONA at New England
7.5 OAKLAND vs. Houston
7 DETROIT vs. New Orleans
7 BUFFALO at Denver
6.5 JACKSONVILLE vs. Indianapolis (Thursday)
5.5 ST. LOUIS vs. San Francisco
5 SEATTLE vs. NY Jets
4.5 BALTIMORE at Dallas (Saturday)
4.5 WASHINGTON vs. Philadelphia
4.5 GREEN BAY at Chicago
4 KANSAS CITY vs. Miami
3.5 ATLANTA at Minnesota
3 SAN DIEGO at Tampa Bay
3 CAROLINA at NY Giants
1.5 CINCINNATI at Cleveland
1.5 TENNESSEE vs. Pittsburgh

To my untrained eyes, Jacksonville, St. Louis, and Atlanta have appeal, but with all sorts of playoff intrigue going on, it's hard to tell. Speak up right away if you're with me on Jacksonville -- that one's Thursday night. If you think the Ravens will do what the Giants couldn't and win in Dallas, you'll need to so advise me before kickoff on Saturday night.

The pool will continue through the playoffs, but the point prizes will likely be smaller, and with fewer games to pick, there aren't likely to be many shifts in the standings at that point. This is it -- carpe diem!

In Portland, horrible ideas never die

Portland Mayor-Elect Sam the Tram is determined to give area taxpayers the royal shaft with the infernal Convention Center hotel project. Here's the latest. It's just a matter of time, people.

No sense getting too upset -- this is just part of what will turn out to be a truly disastrous time for Portland. And sad to say, well deserved. Go by streetcar!

OMG -- freezing rain (maybe)!

O.k., Portlanders, if you've foolishly gone outside and risked your lives in the horrible weather we've been having the last couple of days, you'd better not do it tomorrow. Not only is it going to snow again, but it might even warm up enough for the dreaded freezing rain. And to make matters worse, the freezing rain will not be followed by a thaw -- it's going to get cold again. Which means that anyone who tries to go outside is a goner.

Repeat -- there may be freezing rain tomorrow, and going outside will mean certain doom. Remain calm. Remain in your home. Stay tuned to bojack.org Storm Center 9000.2 for further updates.

Send out the signals deep and loud

Here's an appeal to the techies out there. We're adding a new desktop computer to the battery of gadgets in our house, and it's far enough away from our wireless router that the connection's pretty weak. We've got a Linksys G router talking to a Linksys G external adapter. Is there any cheap and easy way to improve the hookup? Would metal coat hangers or tinfoil pie plates help at all?

Sustainable Susan survives; Gil canned

Portland Mayor-Elect Sam the Tram is moving the deck chairs around quite a bit, according to this morning's O. The biggest news: The "Sustainable Development" and "Planning" bureaus are going to be merged. "Sustainable Susan" Anderson will run the new combined office; Gil Kelley at Planning "has been offered a severance package." Ouch!

Sam the Tram will be the commissioner in charge of the merged bureau, along with the Portland Development Commission. The synergy here will allow one-stop service for the Homer Williams developer weasel types who want to fleece the city's taxpayers. Oh, and Trammy will keep Transportation, too -- a match made in heaven. Go by streetcar!

Fireman Randy gets the fire bureau; Amanda gets the touchy-feely stuff, including "human relations" and dealing with neighborhoods; and Nick Fish gets parks as well as keeping housing. Of course, since the top brass at the parks bureau have an immunity idol, they'll be surviving.

De la Sole

This puts the Bush-Iraqi shoe-throwing incident in better perspective.

It's Buck-a-Hit Eve

Don't forget to come back to this blog tomorrow for our sixth annual Buck-a-Hit Day, where for every unique visit to the blog, $1 is donated to charity. This year, a prosperous and generous benefactor, Mr. Fearless, is giving a dollar for up to 5,000 unique visits.

Meanwhile, I and a small cadre of charitable souls are matching up to $2,100 in charitable contributions made by visitors via buttons that will be posted on this site tomorrow. And the winner of our annual comment contest, which also will be held tomorrow, will get to designate where another $250 of my money goes, for a goal for the day of $9,450.

But it starts with your coming back here, and bringing a friend, tomorrow. You shoot a dollar to charity just by showing up.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Trib implosion continues

As we've expected for a while now, Phil Stanford has left the building, along with the paper’s top designer and copy editor, Denise Szott. And with that, the great hope that once was the Trib has officially come to an end. Ah, well. It was a great gift to Portland while it lasted.

Of course, here's hoping that the stripped-down version of the organization limps along for a long time. It's better than nothing.

Did they get the right guy?

A reader who has been following the Woodburn bank bombing story asks whether the man police have arrested in the case is in fact the same man who shows up in the surveillance photos of a suspect that were previously released. Says the reader, "The guy on the surveillance camera has a very different hairline." From our angle, we'd say it's hard to tell.

Greed never takes a snow day

Distracted by the weather and the holidays? That's what the developer weasels are hoping for. They and their politician servants are heading into that smoke-filled room tomorrow -- no reporters, please -- to hatch yet another new version of the infernal Oregon Convention Center hotel.

Chickens come home to roost

Remember the New York City cop who whacked the guy off his bike in the Times Square Critical Mass ride last summer? He's been indicted.

Report from the outdoors

We headed out of the house for a while this afternoon, and instead of finding the nightmarish scene portrayed by the local television stations, we found what can better be classified as a beautiful day. Clear as a bell, and with more light than one could ever hope for in these latitudes a week before solstice.

Sure, it was cold, and there was a withering wind. But properly dressed, a person could have a lovely time strolling about a bit in it. Why anyone would close her business or stay home from work or school on a day like this is a classic Portland mystery.

How Portland helps its retailers

Here's a lovely mailer that we got last week, just in time to inspire our holiday shopping:

Whole Foods vs. the feds: It's gotten personal

So says this commentator.

We're only halfway through this

Here's some not-so-good news about the economy.

Buck-a-Hit Day goes to 5,000 hits

Don't forget amid all the weather hubbub that this Wednesday is Buck-a-Hit Day on this blog. For every unique visitor to this site that day, a benefactor of ours has pledged to give $1 to the Oregon Food Bank -- up to $5,000! That's far more than the typical number of visitors this site receives in a day, and so we need readers to return here on Wednesday. It's the easiest way you can give a buck to charity -- just click.

In addition, I and some other readers have pledged to match up to $2,100 in contributions that visitors make when they visit here on Wednesday. We'll have a list of five Portland-area charities for you to choose from, and when you donate a dollar, we'll donate a dollar, up to $2,100.

Last but not least, $250 will go to a charity picked by the winner of the comments contest we'll be running that day. Readers will be asked to say something appropriate for the season, and the best entry, as selected by readers in a poll on Thursday, will get to steer $250 of our money to a charity of the winner's choice.

And so all told, we've got $9,450 as our goal this year -- almost double the $4,851.50 we raised last year. That would be a wonderful turn of events, but it is going to take you. And so please come back on Wednesday to make it happen, and please send other readers our way.

Everything's closed -- but why, exactly?

Just about nothing is going to get done in Portland today. Everything's closed.

This illustrates how wimpy the Rose City is when it comes to weather. The current conditions are 22 degrees Farenheit, with wind blowing about 20 miles an hour. There is about a half-inch of ice on some city streets and most sidewalks.

But there is hardly a cloud in the sky, and no further precipitation is expected before Wednesday.

For this, we close everything down?

Why -- why is everything closed today? Think carefully before answering, because it seems highly unlikely that things are going to be any different tomorrow. Wednesday won't be any better, and the forecast calls for freezing temperatures to stay in place all week long, if not longer.

Whichever roads are going to be sanded, have already been sanded. The government doesn't do side streets around here -- ever.

So why all the closures? Is it just because it's very cold?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Storm update: Nothing's different from an hour ago

The snow that fell on Portland earlier today remains on the ground at this hour. Repeat: Remains on the ground at this hour. Temperatures are below freezing, which makes it unlikely that the snow and ice will melt unless temperatures rise.

Remain calm. Remain in your home. Do not go outside for any reason, for a cruel fate awaits you there. And please, no plastic bags in the blue recycling bins. Stay tuned to bojack.org Storm Center 9000 for further updates all night long.

City officially closed until MLK Day

Portland officials announced tonight that the city will be closed tomorrow, and remain closed until it thaws out, which is currently projected for January 19. With a 0.0016-inch sheet of ice coating side streets, and the city's supply of gravel depleted, travel within the city limits has become completely impractical. "Not only that," said city spokesperson Brent Schmidtlapp, "but it's really cold."

The Arctic blast that seized the city this morning has led to the first unpleasant incident involving the new "Portland Loo" public toilets in the Old Town neighborhood. Rescue crews were summoned to the "loo" at NW Fifth and Glisan shortly after a homeless man's buttocks became stuck to the facility's metal seat in the freezing temperatures. Joining in the rescue effort was city commissioner Randy Leonard, a former fireman and seasoned emergency technician, who freed the man by massaging Ben-Gay into the affected area. Police credited the actions of a passerby who heard the victim's cries for help through the transom over the door and used a cell phone to call for help.

Ready for anything

The City of Portland's crack road crews are out in force responding to the snow and ice. In the past 12 hours, they have spread the equivalent of 52 Home Depot bags of gravel on city streets. They have nine bags left. Mayor-elect Sam the Tram advises that the streets will be completely clear no later than 12 hours after temperatures get above freezing.

Weather excitement intensifies

Portland's storm miseries appear to be taking a turn for the worse, as it appears that it is now getting dark. The darkness is expected to cut visibility in many areas, and these conditions may persist until morning.

Remember: Stay in your home. Do not go outside for any reason. Stay tuned to bojack.org Storm Center 9000 for further updates.

Pitching in

During the brutally inclement weather, don't forget your more vulnerable neighbors who can't get out of their homes. In Mountain Park, crews from Whole Foods are delivering jars of capers and cocktail olives.

Breaking news: Snow causes accidents

We now have some frightening reports from out on our area roads. The falling snow is not melting when it hits the pavement; instead, it is accumulating. This is causing the roads to become slick, and there have been some accidents. Accidents!

Repeating our top story: It is snowing, and there are now reports of auto accidents.

Stay in your home. Do not go outside for any reason. Stay tuned to bojack.org Storm Center 9000 for further updates.

Cozy up to your laptop

I remember as a kid watching a Yule log burn on TV on Christmas Eve. We didn't have a fireplace in our Newark eastside flat, and the video of a roaring fire, on our little black and white set, was our annual ritual. Here in Portland in the next millennium, we have these timeless images of the season:

Storm closures abound

Although it has hit on a Sunday, when there are no school closures to announce, today's blizzard in the Portland area has resulted in cancellations and postponements of a number of events. The notices keep pouring into bojack.org Storm Center 9000. Here is just a partial list of cancelled events:

Amanda Fritz Coronation Planning Committee meeting
Portland Loo Share-a-Spike Tour
Eastside Friends of Slugs weekly meeting
Metro Unitarian Church monthly Question Mark Burn
SoWhat Celebrate Density potluck
OHSU Exec Krugerrand River Skim
City of Portland creditors' meeting
Lents Aryan Kwanzaa Focus Group meeting
Hillsdale Realtor Suicide Prevention Support Group daily meeting
Tigard 6666 Church - all services
Kenton Darius Miles Fan Club meeting

Stay tuned to bojack.org Storm Center 9000 for the latest news on the storm that continues to cripple our region.

Breaking news: Snow in Portland

It has begun snowing in the Portland area. Remain in your home. Do not go outside for any reason.

The snow is white and rather fine at this hour. It is blowing around quite a bit because there's a fair amount of wind blowing from the east.

The snow is sticking to the ground, and it can be slippery.

Repeating our top story: It has begun snowing in the Portland area. Remain in your home. Do not go outside for any reason. Stay tuned to bojack.org Storm Center 9000 for further updates.

Grandma would have wanted us to have steaks

Here's a Google search that this blog gets a high score on.

Mission still accomplished

I see that the Lame Duck Chimp is paying one last visit to the people he put on death row. "Yer keepin' our oil safe, which keeps our economy strong. Ain't that sumthin'?" He's done a heck of a job.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Hype-ernal ritual

Greater Portlandia has begun to go ga-ga over the potential for snow over the next couple of days. Right now it's 41 degrees Farenheit and not precip-ping at all, but the weather people say it's going to get a lot colder and start snowing any minute now. Having endured these watches, warnings, and hysterics in and around the Rose City for 30 years now, I've learned to take them all with a grain of salt. O.k., rock salt.

More Chávez Boulevard fireworks

This time in Dallas.

Another one bites the dust

It's another ex-Blazer-head-coach, who maybe should never have been made an NBA head coach except that Paul Allen thought it was a good idea. [Via Dwight Jaynes.]


We just got our 2009 Chinook Book, and for the first time we can recall, there are no Tri-Met tickets in it.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Have a great weekend

The $482,227.79 woman

That is how much public money was spent to get Amanda Fritz on the Portland City Council.

Like Wile E. Coyote

You thought overall housing prices were down in Portland -- check out what's happened to condo prices.

Save room on your iPod

I'm sure we'll be listening to these recordings fairly soon.

They're lovin' it -- not

Looks like the unions and McDonald's are having a bit of a falling out.

Stirring up the sediment

Here's a fellow making trouble for the folks at the Bonneville Power Administration. [Via the Trib.]

See the U.S.A. in your Chevrolet

An alert reader writes:

Blumenauer voted no on the bank bailout but yes on the auto bailout. Wu too. Weird.

I thought Blumenauer was Mr. Bike. Now he wants to save the Big 3 with no strings attached?

It's an interesting question, but now I'm walking around saying "Wu too" to everybody for no reason.

Up, up and away

Now that natural gas prices are down to less than half of what they were in June, will Northwest Natural be cutting its rates to its customers this winter?

Not a chance.

Buck-a-Hit Day goes back to its roots

When we started our holiday tradition known as Buck-a-Hit Day, the setup was simple. For every unique visit to this blog on a designated day, we'd give a dollar to charity. It was where charity met vanity.

The first one of these days was five years ago, when the routine traffic through this site was a great deal lighter than it is today. Given our limited supply of money, after a while we couldn't afford to give a dollar for every hit, and so we had to set a limit -- typically, $1,000. That number of unique visits was virtually guaranteed, and so last year to add some suspense we threw in a bonus of an additional $1 for every dollar before noon that the we hit the 1,000-visit mark. (It turned out we got there 76 minutes before noon.)

This year, a benefactor of this blog who is both prosperous and generous has offered to take us back to our high-rollin' roots. He'll give $1 to the Oregon Food Bank for every hit on this blog next Wednesday, up to $5,000! And so rather than quit counting the hits at 1,000, this year we'll keep going to five times that number, with a new dollar going to the food bank for every unique visit. (We use SiteMeter for the "official" count.)

This wonderful new development means that we'll need lots of extra visits beyond the number from a typical day on this blog. Assuming that we're not showing photos of Sarah Palin's torso, our readership on a typical weekday usually comes in at around 3,000 unique visits, and so the laws of inertia aren't going to get us to 5,000 without some serious help from strangers. We're back to the olden days, where having new folks show up all day really will make a difference. Please help us get out the word and get readers in here that day -- next Wednesday, December 17.

We're still putting the rest of the day's program together, but for sure, there will be a place for readers to donate, a comments contest, and who knows what all else. We'll have a couple of match challenges going from several folks, and the Bogdanski's are going to be part of that, to the tune of $1,100. More on all that on Monday. The main thing is, please come back on Wednesday, and tell your buddies! In this case, viral would be good.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Noise alert

Once an airport runway gets built, it is going to be used. A lot.

Safe gigs

Our nation's current economic disaster isn't bad news for everyone. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation is hiring, in anticipation of a busy year of bank failures ahead. Meanwhile, the Treasury Department officials in charge of the emergency funding program have begun issuing new forms for needy parties to complete.

No hard times for Dr. Scrooge

The flow of foul-smelling effluent from the top brass at OHSU is truly amazing sometimes. Today we learn that just before Doctor Joe started crying his crocodile tears last week -- cutting programs and jobs, and freezing people's salaries -- he and the other muckety-mucks took $1.36 million in bonuses out of the place. What a complete and total disgrace.

When these sad sacks limo down to Salem next month and start angling for more tax dollars, our wonderful legislators had better tell them what the girls used to tell me in high school: I don't do that.

Do hot dogs pose threat of catastrophic explosion?

Some say so. Based on my own experience, however, I'd say the threat is greatly exaggerated. Except with respect to chili dogs...

Oh, and one other thing...

If, like us, you find yourself slogging through long, boring government bond documents from time to time, here's an addendum to one such document that's a must-read.

Buck-a-Hit Day is going to be the greatest ever

Several wonderful benefactors have come forward and pledged to make our sixth annual Buck-a-Hit Day (next Wednesday, Dec. 17) a monster. If you readers out there come through -- visiting this site that day, and making a donation of your own if you can -- it's looking like we'll be able to break last year's record, and then some.

So dig around those sofa cushions and see if you can scrape up some loose change. But with or without bucks in hand, do come back to this site next Wednesday, when just showing up will make a difference. For every visitor, a buck to charity. We will have more details over the next day or two.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It's a new day

A reader sends along a not-safe-for-work link with the following explanation:

Back in the 1929 financial crash, it was said that some Wall Street stockbrokers and bankers jumped from their office windows and committed suicide when confronted with the news of their firms' and clients' financial ruin. Many people were said to almost feel a little sorry for them. In 2008 the attitude has changed somewhat.

Busting the boys in blue

While we're on the subject of citizens turning the tables on the police, here's a heck of a story out of Texas.

Coming soon to Portland: pork

Here's quite a list of infrastructure projects that the City of Portland is asking the Obama feds for dough for. Along with each project goes an estimate of how many "jobs" it will "create." The job numbers look high, and it doesn't say how long the positions will last, but hey -- if we're going to bail out Wall Street, might as well have a little action on Salmon Street.

Buck-a-Hit Day VI is next Wednesday

It's time to start planning for Buck-a-Hit Day, our annual holiday gift-giving blowout on this blog. This will be our sixth year of doing this, and a most unusual year it is. Given the tanking of the economy, the need for charity has never been greater, and yet people's ability to chip in has never been so lousy. Should be interesting.

Hard times be darned -- we'll still give a buck to charity for everyone who visits here next Wednesday, December 17, up to a limit of $1,000, just like last year. We'll also have a hat out for readers to throw money into, and with any luck our benefactors who have matched reader contributions in past years will be back to do it again. (You folks know who you are; please drop me a line if you can return to that role!)

We'll also run our annual comment contest, in which the reader who leaves the best comment relating to the season (chosen by reader vote) will get to steer part of the contributions to a charity of his or her choice. More details as we get closer.

Last year we raised $4,851.05 on Buck-a-Hit Day. It will be tough getting to that level again this year, but let's hope the spirit of the season makes it happen. Even if you're too broke to donate, all you have to do to participate is show up here again next Wednesday, as early in the day as you can make it. By visiting this site, you'll separate me from a dollar and send it to a good cause.

Season's greetings

Message from Detroit

But it's not safe for work.

Dear Ted Wheeler and Sam the Tram

As we "continue the conversation" on the infernal Oregon Convention Center hotel scam, be sure to "converse" about this.

Move over, nice 'dog

Well, I'll be darned, I had another winner last weekend in the pro football underdog pool in which I play: Houston prevailed over Green Bay. The other top players in the pool also scored, but I gained a little ground: Now I'm just 1½ points out of second place, but still 4 points out of first place. The fourth-place participant is now 15 points behind me.

With three weeks to go in the regular season and playoffs trailing behind, a 4-point deficit is nothing, and so it's with gusto that we approach this week's slate. See any underdog on the list (in caps) that can win its game outright? Beating the spread isn't enough. If I pick a winning 'dog, I will get the number of points in the left-hand column.

17.5 DETROIT at Indianapolis
14 CLEVELAND at Philadelphia
7.5 DENVER at Carolina
7 BUFFALO at NY Jets
7 OAKLAND vs. New England
6.5 CINCINNATI vs. Washington
6.5 SAN FRANCISCO at Miami
5 KANSAS CITY vs. San Diego
3 HOUSTON vs. Tennessee
3 NEW ORLEANS at Chicago (Thursday)
2.5 NY GIANTS at Dallas
2.5 TAMPA BAY at Atlanta
1.5 JACKSONVILLE vs. Green Bay
1.5 PITTSBURGH at Baltimore

So what do we see? Five home teams favored to lose -- that's a little unusual. And there are no lines for Seattle/St. Louis or Minnesota/Arizona -- at least, not at the moment.

Off the top of my head, Oakland, the Niners, and Kansas City all have potential. Readers' input is always appreciated, especially now as we approach crunch time. Prognosticate, please! But if you think New Orleans is my best choice against Da Bearss, please speak up quick -- the game's tomorrow night.

UPDATE, 12/12, 2:27 p.m.: A couple of late 'dogs to add:

3 MINNESOTA at Arizona
1 ST. LOUIS vs. Seattle

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Marked man still making his mark

Remember that daring young Portland lawyer who took a police officer to court for a parking violation -- by the cop?

That rebel is at it again.

He's even sent us an e-mail message quoting from police regulations on the subject:

POLICY (315.00) Members are required to conform to, and abide by, the rules and regulations of the Bureau, ordinances of the City and County, Federal laws and of the laws of all states. Members shall not commit any act, or fail to perform any act, that constitutes a violation of any of the rules, regulations, instruction, directives, or orders of the Bureau, whether stated in these directives or elsewhere.

Void Request of Parking Citations (Police Vehicles) (860.40) A request that the court dismiss a parking tag issued to a police vehicle by another party must be made by letter rather than the Void Request Form. a. It is the policy of the Bureau that members will be subject to parking regulations the same as any citizen. However, the emergency nature of law enforcement will occasionally require that Bureau vehicles will be parked in violation. If a parking citation results, it may be turned in with a letter addressed to the Court Administrator requesting dismissal. b. Requests for dismissal of these parking citations must be on letterhead stationery, have an adequate explanation of the official business being conducted, and be approved by the individual's RU manager.

PROCEDURE (1230.20) For purposes of this directive, all Bureau owned, marked, unmarked, staff or utility vehicle are considered E-plated and subject to the parking ordinance. Members will not park Bureau vehicles adjacent to the Elk Fountain on SW Main, 3rd to 4th. Violators will be towed. The Police Only parking zones adjacent to the Multnomah County Courthouse are for marked patrol units only. Drivers of marked and unmarked units assigned to the Justice Center are to use assigned parking spaces when attending court and when conducting business at City Hall, the Portland Building and the Justice Center. Vehicles with assigned spaces at the SW 1st and Jefferson garage will not use on-street parking around the courthouse nor on SW 2nd, Jefferson to Madison. The marked spaces in the basement of 1st and Jefferson are for police vehicles only. Any private cars parked in these spaces will be towed. As a last resort, marked units can be parked on the parking lot on SW 2nd, Main to Madison, and validation obtained through Fiscal Services Division or the member can receive reimbursement through his/her RU.

Employees driving a vehicle that receives a citation as a result of a violation of the No Government Vehicle zones are responsible for paying those citations and may be subject to disciplinary action.

Wow. Sometimes you have to tilt at windmills, but these windmills are armed.

Only in America

A while back I got a notice informing me that I'm a member of a class in a class action lawsuit being brought against a life insurance company with which I have a policy. The company apparently wronged all us policyholders somehow. But have no fear, a law firm in Los Angeles is vigilantly vindicating our rights!

I get quite a kick out of these lawsuits. I've been a class member a few times before. When the case winds up, everybody in the class gets something like a coupon for $1.19 off at Pizza Hut, and the law firm who brought the case gets seven or eight figures as its fee. Great.

Anyhow, I got another notice in the mail yesterday, informing me that yes! Hurray! A settlement has been reached! If we just sit back and do nothing, we class members will get a check in a little while. How much will our check be? It doesn't say. But it does say that if we want to opt out of the class and pursue our own remedies, we have to act fast:

This is quite interesting, because as I say, I just received this notice in the mail yesterday, which was four days after the deadline. Guess my chance to opt out wasn't much of a chance at all.

Oh well. I'm looking forward to my big settlement. I'm thinking mushroom, pepperoni, and olive.

Anything but justice

Big news from the Portland police chief in the case of the brutal 2006 killing of James Chasse by city police officers. Discipline for the killer cop? Of course not. More training for the force about chasing people and knocking them over. Don't do us any favors, chief.

League joins charge against Portland urban renewal

The folks who say that Portland is breaking the law in its latest doings with its "urban renewal" slush fund have a new ally -- the League of Women Voters. The league has reportedly filed a brief in the pending state land use board case arguing that the Pearl District is no longer "blighted" and thus no longer eligible to be an "urban renewal" zone.

They reportedly haven't joined the part of the challenge to the legality of the city's goofy "satellite district" maneuver, under which Pearlie property taxes will be beamed to the far east side of Portland to build a school for a school district that doesn't want to pay for one itself. Apparently the League of Women Voters finds nothing wrong with that.

When you've got both the public interest groups and the fat cat developers all saying you're screwing up, maybe -- just maybe -- you are in fact screwing up. Just a thought.

Wheeler goes along for the ride

Just when we were forming a mildly favorable impression of Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler, he wrecks it. Yesterday we learned that he is now willing to have the county "continue the conversation" about putting county tax money into the infernal Convention Center hotel project, which by order of Sam the Tram's developer bosses, simply will not die. Ever. No matter how hopeless. No matter how far.

Ted, you yourself have preached many times about the dire financial straits in which the county currently finds itself. What is there for you to "converse" with Hank Ashforth and the boys about?

Rart at møde dig

Just a note that our weekend post about bicycle safety and children has been picked up by a site called Copenhagenize.com, which covers "life in the world's cycling capital." And so we may find some new comments on our post from cyclist brethren around the globe. If you were following that thread, you may not want to give up on it just yet.

Monday, December 8, 2008


Bankruptcy time for Tribune Co.:

The Chicago-based company owns a coast-to-coast empire with television stations and newspapers in most of the nation's largest cities. Its holdings include the Los Angeles Times; cable television superstation WGN in Chicago; the Baltimore Sun; and WDCW-50 in Washington, the CW affiliate. The company also owns the Chicago Cubs.
The mainstream media in this country has become quite toothless in recent years, but toothless is better than dead. It's a bad day for America.

Is Martha getting desperate?

We've got some Martha Stewart stuff around our house. The Mrs. subscribes to one of the Martha magazines. But beyond that, we haven't succumbed much to Martha-ism -- neither during her time in custody nor during her time at large in the general population.

And so it was with a bit of surprise that we found this in our mailbox last week:

It's a DVD of Martha, apparently gushing over recipes that she got from her mom growing up. And along with it, a bunch of paperwork, including a cover letter that informed us:

What a rip! You can keep the DVD as a free gift, or send it back. Gee, Martha, if you don't get it back from us, what are the chances that you're not going to send us more and start pumping out the invoices? "Now I'm stuck," the Mrs. told me. "Whether I want it or not, either way I have to deal with this stupid-a*s thing."

And so she dutifully cut the label off the infernal reply form and mailed it back to Martha:

Is this what it takes to make money these days? How far we have fallen.

Keep on usin' me, until you use me up

Remember the neighbors of Mount Tabor Park in southeast Portland, who busted the city parks brass for secretly arranging a selloff of park property to Warner Pacific College in a deal brokered by former city commissioner Jim Francesconi? Those neighbors should have gotten medals. Instead they got an offer to go into "mediation" with the parks people, and to blow many hours of their time sitting in meetings and fighting to keep the condo developer weasels' hands off the land.

Well, they did all that. And now they say the city has been sandbagging them -- they're quite unhappy with the way things came out. What? A citizens' advisory group feeling that their good names have been co-opted by bureaucrats who are going to do what they want anyway?

Wouldn't be the first time.

Just do it

Some excellent musicology here.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Stay away on my day of rest

Here's a story I just don't get. The auto dealers of Oregon want to start closing their dealerships on Sunday. They say it will boost morale among employees and give car buyers a chance to peruse the lot hassle-free.

All well and good, I suppose, but the way they're going about it puzzles me. They're asking the state legislature to make it illegal to sell cars on Sunday. Why is such a law necessary? If it's such a good idea, can't the dealers simply do it? Is there a law on the books now that says an auto dealer has to be open on Sunday?

"I Will Survive"? Maybe not

A cautionary tale from Malaysia. [Via Cousin Jim.]

Good question

An alert reader digests this story, and then asks:

Why is it alright to stick three kids in a bucket attached to a bike and ride around on Portland streets, but you get a ticket if you don't have them seat belted in your car?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Is the Convention Center hotel dead?

I'll believe it when I see it.

Who's the mother?

Here's another Sarah Palin picture that's worth looking at. (Please leave your comments over there. Thanks.)


Portland, how did we miss out being the first with this?

One of these days, Portland

Here's an interesting piece on the time bomb known as city employee pensions.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Have a great weekend

Intellectual Property Excess of the Month

At least with this one, you can pitch in to fight it, if you want.

Propaganda of the Week

Nothing says "green" like flying people all over the country for a conference that they could have had on the internet.

There goes that idea

We usually give people gift cards from various merchants as Christmas presents. This year, we're afraid that the merchants will be declaring bankruptcy at 12:01 a.m. on December 26, and the cards won't be honored. Are we missing something, or isn't this a serious risk?

The name-callers

The reaction to this week's Sarah Palin bombshell photo has been predictable. Scads of ad hominem attacks from the tighty righties of Portlandia -- Ted Piccolo, Rob Kremer, that sort of folks. If I hadn't banned Jack Roberts a while back, he would have chimed in, too.

Vicky Taft weighed in. At least she had the guts to use her real name and stick to the issue. But the other guys? "He's a moonbat! He's unhinged! He's a tinfoil helmet whack job conspiracy theorist!"

At least they've left my children out of it this time around (so far), unlike Robert Canfield.

When they do this, these people reveal themselves to be highly ideological, personally vicious when provoked, and dangerously subservient to their leadership. "Don't believe your own eyes," they tell you. "Ignore the photo. And don't believe your own experience about what a woman in her fifth pregnancy would look like three weeks before giving birth to a six-pound boy. Ignore what you know. Believe what Sarah Palin tells you instead."

This is why America is in the toilet at the moment.

The shrill tone of their attacks also betrays the fact that they are aware of the exceedingly weak nature of their case. Like Palin, they are determined to play their losing hand all the way to the call.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Calling the U.S. attorney

I know you're busy sprucing up your résumé and all, but do you ever find time to read the papers?

Digging deep for the truth

At the end of a long string of malarkey regarding cell phone antennas right outside your window on a telephone pole, a story in the O gets to the heart of the matter:

She also questioned the point of the neighborhood meetings if the neighborhoods have no say.
You got that right. It's why sensible people stay home.

New music format at our house

Out: "Twinkle, twinkle, little star..."

In: "'Cause I'm burnin' up, burnin' up for you, baby..."

Wyden disappoints again

The Republican from New York is now changing his tune on CIA torture.

City of Portland paying $6.75 a gallon for biodiesel

When it could get it for under $3.

Now Portland's "urban renewal" slush fund is going to be subsidizing eastern Oregon canola farmers. Just another genius move by Fireman Randy and his band of merry bunglers.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Nate: Oden shouldn't be an "enforcer"

So the coach tells The New York Times.

"Satellite" urban renewal scam: Game on

Back before Fireman Randy did everything Sam the Tram told him to do, he used to become quite captivated by the twinkly idea lights coming from his erstwhile colleague, Opie Sten. One of these was to declare David Douglas School District part of the Pearl District, and use the Pearl urban renewal slush fund to pay for a new school way out there.

Totally illegal. Totally impractical. But hey, that's the Erik way.

Now, the fat cats who usually drink from the urban renewal slush tank objected, saying that the money should be available for their own pork projects, and not burned on some unwashed masses out in the Far East. And so a battle over the Opie plan was joined.

A while back, it looked as though some sort of deal might be made between the foes of the plan and the city's urban renewal bunglers at the Portland Development Commission, and we lamented that fact in a blog post. Somebody needs to drive a stake through the heart of this final Opie-ism, and we feared that no one would.

But hurray! This evening we learn that there's no deal, and the legal challenge to the "satellite" district nonsense will press on. Good for Portland.

Almost famous

There's an article on Paul Allen and the Trail Blazers in the new Forbes. The reporter, Monte Burke, interviewed me for it -- they even had a fact-checker call me -- but it looks as though I didn't make the cut.

Gone to the 'dogs

We're down to the last four weeks of the regular season in the pro football underdog pool in which I play. Our pool runs through the playoffs, but in those games there are fewer points to be won, and a greater chance that someone you're jockeying with for money is going to pick the same game as you. And so the wide-open part of the season-long competition has about a month to go. That's still a lot of time for the gamblers to get lucky.

Last week, we were among a crowd who correctly picked Atlanta over San Diego, but there were also quite a few players who scored even bigger with the Broncos over the Jets. As things stand, I'm in third place -- 4 points behind the leader and 3½ behind the second place player. Nine and a half points behind me in fourth place is my nearest challenger.

This week's lineup has quite a few big point spreads, and so I'll need to stay on my toes. Remember, in this pool I need to pick an underdog that will win its game outright, and not just beat the spread. If I'm right, I get the number of points that the underdog was predicted to lose by. Here's this week's slate:

14 ST. LOUIS at Arizona
13.5 CINCINNATI at Indianapolis
13.5 CLEVELAND at Tennessee
10 OAKLAND at San Diego (Thursday)
9 KANSAS CITY at Denver
6.5 JACKSONVILLE at Chicago
6 HOUSTON at Green Bay
5 SEATTLE vs. New England
5 WASHINGTON at Baltimore
3 TAMPA BAY at Carolina
3 ATLANTA at New Orleans
3 DALLAS at Pittsburgh
1 MIAMI at Buffalo

Oh, the intrigue! Off the top of my head. I'm sort of liking Oakland, Jacksonville, and Houston, but even Philly could do it to the Giants, who seem about due for a letdown game.

Since the Oakland game is a Thursday number, I'll have to call that one (if it's my pick) in the next 24 hours or so. Otherwise, I've got 'til Saturday night.

I appreciate all the suggestions readers send my way on this -- they give me a lot to think about. Last week everybody seemed to see what was coming. This week, I think, is more difficult.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sarah Palin's fake pregnancy belly

The bloggers who have set out to prove that Sarah Palin did not give birth to Trig Palin have broken their latest find, and they were right -- it's a humdinger. It's a photo of Palin on March 26 of this year -- 23 days before Trig's birth -- in which she cannot possibly be that close to delivering a six-pound baby boy.

Here is the photo, which appears on a Flickr page of the mother of the child who's posing with Palin. The photo was taken at an event at a museum in Juneau. The date has been verified beyond any question. It's March 26:

There is no way that a six-pound baby came out of that belly 23 days later:

Particularly curious is the abrupt change in the abdomen in the two weeks after March 26. Here is a screenshot from a documentary video of Palin shot on April 8 (or within two days of that date) by the Israeli filmmaker Elan Frank. Compare this screenshot with the photo above. Look at how much change took place over that two weeks:

And then here Palin is on April 13 -- five days or less after the video shoot, and five days before Trig was born:

The March 26 photo is the smoking gun. There really is no chance that there's a baby in there who will be born 23 days later at six pounds birth weight. And there really is no chance that the child grew so suddenly over the following two weeks.

The sleuths who uncovered this latest photo are right. On top of all the other evidence that the Palins are lying about Trig's parentage, it's quite conclusive. Sarah Palin is not the mother.

Portland's next tax

Just a matter of time before Sam the Tram pulls out this one. [Via TaxProf Blog.]

Get up, stand up

Which Constitutional amendment covers this?

She knew what to do

Some years back, around this time of year, I wrote about Billy Rancher, the Portland rocker who knocked all our socks off around 25 years ago before leaving us on this planet to keep boom-chuckin' without him. Since then, several fans of Billy's have written in to share their experiences with this bigger-than-life character.

Recently I stumbled across a memoir by none other than Celeste, one of the go-go girls in Billy's band in its heyday. Yes, one of the Unreal Goddesses herself! If you're interested in her perspective -- and it's a good one -- you can start here.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Big break coming in Sarah Palin fake pregnancy story

The bloggers who are determined to find out the truth about Sarah Palin's highly suspicious pregnancy and delivery with Trig Palin say they have uncovered something new that will further prove that the baby is not hers. Having read what these sleuths have come up with over the last several months, I know they mean business when they say stuff like this:

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, one of my very hard working research assistants has uncovered a piece of evidence which may well turn out to be the final nail in the coffin. I believe it demonstrates conclusively that Gov. Sarah Palin was never pregnant.
If like me, you're very interested in whether the governor of Alaska paraded around for a couple of months with a fake pregnancy belly and has continuously lied to the public about the child's parentage, you'll want to keep checking here over the next couple of days.

UPDATE, 12/2, 11:15 p.m.: What they have is a shocking photo that shows conclusively that Palin is not the mother. More here.

Oh boy

I guess it's pretty obvious that the author of this blog is of the masculine persuasion. (Via TaxProf Blog.)

Perp walk for Sizemore

He looks good in cuffs, I'll bet.

UPDATE, 11:13 p.m.: Whoa:

OHSU freezes salaries of the little people

This just in from Pill Hill:

From: Joe Robertson

Subject: SHARE WITH STAFF: OHSU Cost-Cutting Measures

***You are receiving this message because you are a member of the OHSU Leadership Team. Please share this information with your staff.***

Members of the OHSU Leadership Team:

I’m writing to update you on OHSU’s financial position. While there is still a good deal of uncertainty over the ultimate length and depth of the ongoing global downturn, it has now lasted long enough that OHSU will have to treat this as our new economic reality for at least the next 2-3 years.

As we move to address the challenges this presents, it’s important to remember that this is not a self-inflicted wound. The impacts on OHSU are based largely on external factors outside of our control. These are environmental issues, not cost or performance issues. This is a storm that we can and will weather.

Unfortunately, the impact is significant enough that it will be necessary to reduce the number of OHSU employees. It simply is not possible to make up the gap without doing so. Personnel reductions will be made by ELT members and their direct reports in ways that preserve as much of our current workforce and mission as possible. We do not yet have the specifics on personnel reductions, but the sooner we act the more people and programs we will be able to preserve. The process for taking additional steps, including personnel reductions, will be shared by ELT members with their units within the next two weeks.

Several steps will be taken immediately, including aggressive hiring restrictions; these will join other actions that have been implemented since October. Labor costs account for approximately 65% of the university’s variable expenses, so most of our financial responses must focus on that area.

Immediate measures include:

--> Hiring freeze. Effective immediately, no hires will be made without authorization from an Executive Leadership Team member. These restrictions--in place through FY10--do not apply to positions fully paid for by outside funds. ELT members will review and discuss all exemptions, which will be rare.. An important reason to pursue a hiring freeze is to protect our existing workforce the best we can.

--> Salaries. Effective immediately, salaries of unclassified administrative staff and faculty will be kept at current rates until further notice. This does not include employees covered by collective bargaining agreements currently in effect or those with longer-term employment agreements.

--> Incentives/one-time payments. Effective immediately, incentive plans and one-time payments will be subject to tight executive review and approval. This does not affect clinical staff with productivity-driven compensation. In addition, ELT members will forgo incentive-based compensation for 2009.

--> Changes to benefits. OHSU is reviewing all opportunities to reduce expense and preserve jobs, including benefit changes such as changing retirement contributions, revising university incentive programs and eliminating the cash-back program.

--> Unit-led reductions. Effective immediately, ELT members are instructing their direct reports to seek substantial additional cost savings. Measures will include elimination of positions, major departmental reorganizations and/or consolidations, restrictions on overtime, restrictions on travel, hosting and consultants, and other approaches as appropriate.

--> Space management. Space is our biggest expense other than labor. OHSU will work to reduce its footprint on both owned and leased space with a focus on leased space in the short term. Effective immediately, no new leases or lease extensions will be approved without ELT approval. OHSU will also look for opportunities for early termination of existing leases.

--> Capital spending. Effective immediately, most non-emergency capital expenditures will be deferred. All capital expenditures, including approved FY 09 capital budget items, will require renewed Executive Leadership Team approval.

OHSU employees will be notified of these immediate changes, as well as the need for personnel reductions, through a Directline message later today. Please share the information in this email with your staff before then, if possible. If you have any questions, please contact your ELT member.

Continue reading "OHSU freezes salaries of the little people" »

Good afternoon, shoppers -- our CEO is in the clink

We blogged last year about how the federal government's probe into the anti-competitive effects of the Whole Foods-Wild Oats acquisition had ensnared the Portland-based New Seasons Markets. Back then, the Federal Trade Commission wanted to see a bunch of sensitive New Seasons financials as part of its investigation. Now Whole Foods' lawyers are asking to see them to help fight off the feds.

The New Seasons folks don't want to show their competition their books and plans -- particularly a vicious player like Whole Foods -- and I can't say as I blame them. There's talk of risking jail time rather than give in to the request for information. As the economy continues to tank and $1.99 cucumbers get harder and harder to sell, this potentially ugly episode is probably the last thing Whole Foods needs.

You've been rear-ended by Homer Williams

View Larger Map

The impacts of the multi-faceted fiasco known as the SoWhat District in southwest Portland include one predictable side effect: unsafe traffic conditions at the corner of Macadam and Curry. In 18 months, there were 14 crashes there -- so many that the city is planning to prohibit a right turn onto Curry off the part of northbound Macadam that's the I-5 offramp.

The SoWhat weasels are squealing loudly in opposition to the new traffic restriction. It's not the right turn that's causing the accidents, they say; the problem is rear-end collisions.


Meanwhile, given the lack of money to build a proper off-ramp from northbound I-5 into SoWhat, the city has now figured out how people are going to get to the wonderful new concrete tower jungle when they're driving in from the south on I-5. The permanent solution? They're going to make that traffic go all the way past SoWhat to Harbor Drive -- that's the ramp between I-5 and I-405 that eventually takes you to Front Avenue. You'll get off on Harbor Drive, proceeding under the Marquam Bridge, and head way on up north to the traffic light at River Parkway -- there to make a right, and then another right, and head back south under the Marquam on Moody. From where I-5 passes Bancroft, off onto Harbor and back to the corner of Moody and Bancroft, it's about a two-mile loop. For this kind of perfect mess we pay hundreds of city planners.

We've mortgaged Portland's future for this black hole, and there still isn't enough in the kitty to come anywhere close to making it work. Ah well -- go by streetcar!

Reader poll: Would you take a Christmas tree with a slug on it?

In Hawaii, they're rejecting shipping containers packed with Oregon Christmas trees because there are slugs on some of the trees. Apparently, this happens every year over there.

If you were on a Christmas tree lot and found a tree that you liked, but you noticed a slug on it, would you still buy it?

Would you take a Christmas tree with a slug on it?
Yes, I'd just pull the slug off myself
Yes, but I'd make the tree seller remove the slug
Only if they knocked a few dollars off the price
Yes, and I'd leave the slug on there
No, I'd choose another tree
I don't buy Christmas trees
pollcode.com free polls

Detain this

A Washington state supreme court justice gave a shout-out that's caused a stir.

Is Hillary unconstitutional?

Some think so.

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