Monday, July 26, 2010

The Cumulonimbusuckulus Season

Snow in Bend on July 26? Nope -- although that's not outside the realm of possibility.

That white substance on the ground is hail. The photo was taken during a rip-roaring, roof-rattling, toad-strangler of a thunderstorm that ripped through my side of town starting around 2:15.

I'd estimate that three-quarters to an inch of rain fell, and the temperature dropped 20 degrees in 15 minutes. (That's not a guess, it's what my thermometer recorded.) As I write this the rain and hail have subsided, but the sky is still as dark as the ass of a black cow at midnight and the thunder is still rumbling.

One thing you've gotta admit about Bend weather: It's often very dramatic. Usually dramatically bad.

We're in a typical Bend summer weather pattern now: hot days (in the 90s) that generate severe thunderstorms in the afternoon. The cumulonimbus clouds start piling up over the mountains to the west and south around 10 or 11 a.m., and by 1 or 2 p.m. they're letting loose.

As he has said before, ol' Blackdog enjoys an occasional good thunderstorm, but having thunderstorms all afternoon, every afternoon kind of interferes with the enjoyment of that glorious "outdoor recreation paradise" we all supposedly moved here for.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Summer of Suctackularly Bad Driving

The seasonal high-pressure ridge that normally gives Bend warm, sunny summers finally has established itself over the Northwest, and even I can't find anything to bitch about in this month's weather.

So I'll bitch about Bend drivers. DAMN, they suck!

People in Bend like to complain about California drivers, and it's true that California drivers often are aggressive. On the plus side, though, they're also usually skillful.

Bend drivers appear to have gotten their licenses out of a bubble gum machine. And they normally drive with their thumbs up their asses ... unless they've got their heads stuck in there instead.

After moving here I discovered that Bend has the longest traffic lights in the world. I mean, you wait FOREVER for the damn things to change.

I soon figured out why Bend has the longest traffic lights in the world: It's because Bend has the pokiest drivers in the world, and they need about 40 minutes to drive through an intersection.

When the light turns green, the Bend driver does not interpret it as a signal to proceed through the intersection. He/she interprets it as a signal to look left, then right, then left again, then right again, then to take a sip of coffee, and then -- maybe -- to THINK about proceeding through the intersection.

And when Bend drivers finally make the momentous decision to proceed, they accelerate as if they were holding a raw egg between their foot and the gas pedal.

This is why, if you have three Bend drivers ahead of you at a traffic light, you can count on waiting through three signal changes before you can get across.

Bend drivers are hyper-courteous, which often makes them hyper-dangerous. They will STOP in the middle of a roundabout to let other drivers enter. I have even seen them STOP in the middle of the firggin' Bend Parkway to let other cars enter.

Of course when they're actually supposed to stop -- such as when they come to a STOP sign -- they often get confused and behave as if it was a YIELD sign.

Conversely, when they come to a YIELD sign they often act as if it was a STOP sign. The distinction between YIELD and STOP evidently is too subtle for many of them to grasp.

Now that summer is here there are even more displays of sucktacularly bad driving on our local streets and roads, because all the old farts who are too timid to drive in icy or snowy conditions have decided to fire up the '85 Oldsmobile and cruise around.

It's almost enough to make me wish winter would get here again ... but not quite.

ADDENDUM: On the Bend Parkway, a short stretch north of the Powers Road intersection, there is an UNSIGNALIZED PEDESTRIAN CROSSWALK going across all four lanes of the road. It is Oregon law that drivers MUST stop for pedestrians entering a crosswalk -- which means that cars and trucks and semis barreling along the parkway at 45, 50 or 55 miles per hour are supposed to STOP if somebody decides to saunter across the roadway.

This, my friends, is a 20-car pileup just waiting to happen.

An unsignalized pedestrian crosswalk in the middle of a limited-access, four-lane, 45-mile-an-hour parkway.

Only in fucking Oregon.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Apres May, Le Deluge

Winter II finally exited Bend on June 21, the first day of summer -- but not before dumping record amounts of rain, especially on Portland and the Willamette Valley. (We had a bit less rain here, but made up for it with chilly temperatures.)

The skies cleared and things started to warm up on June 21, and in fact every day since then has been sunny -- a string of 10 consecutive days of sunshine. Yippee.

Incidentally, June was the first month of 2010 to record more sunshiny days than sucky days.

But it looks like The Big Chill isn't over yet: The high today (July 1) is supposed to be only 70, and tomorrow the mercury is expected to ascend to -- get ready for it -- a balmy 63.

That's a HIGH of 63 degrees on July 2. In most places in the temperate zone, 63 would be a normal LOW on July 2.

"Paradise" my frozen ass.

June Totals

Days of Sun: 20
Days of Suck: 10

YTD Totals

Days of Sun: 56
Days of Suck: 82