Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Stuck in the Middle of Bend

This priceless gem by Holly Hamilton deserves an encore. Strangely, it says nothing about the utterly sucktacular Bend climate, but it covers most of the other low spots.

Monday, May 23, 2011

"It Clears Up So It Can Get Colder"

7:04 a.m.: Suck-free
8:22 a.m.: Suckiness moving in
10:57 a.m.: 100% complete suckiness achieved

 7:02 p.m.: Cleared up and ready to get colder
Long, long ago, when I had lived in Bend for only a year or two, I commented on a peculiar local weather phenomenon to one of my colleagues at The Bulletin who had lived here all her life.

"I've noticed that many times the day starts off clear, and then it gets cloudier and cloudier until it's completely cloudy, and then just before sunset the clouds mysteriously go away," I said. "Why does the sky clear up at sunset?"

"It clears up so it can get colder," was her simple reply.

It might not be sound meteorological science, but it makes sense if you subscribe -- as I do -- to the doctrine that the Bend climate not only sucks profoundly, but actually is malevolent and sadistic.

It teases you with one or two pleasant days and then whacks you in the head with winter again. It taunts you by presenting you with what promises to be a sunny day, only to move the clouds in before noon -- and then pull them away at sunset so the earth and air will lose what little warmth they have been able to absorb during the day, and tomorrow you'll be freezing your nuts off again.

The sequence of photos above, taken over a 12-hour period yesterday from the same spot on my patio, documents this infuriating phenomenon, which is a major contributing factor to Bend's overall suckitudinousness.

Friday, May 20, 2011

I Don't Care What the Calendar Say ...

... gonna wear my summer shoes anyway. Because in Bend you've gotta grab your summer when you can, which generally means grabbing it in little bits and pieces -- three days in January, two days in February, two days in May, etc.

Besides that, I've been re-reading The Great Gatsby and I'm in kind of an F. Scott Fitzgerald frame of mind. And besides that I wore them to astonish the Bend yokels, most of whom (males) have a footwear collection consisting of (a) sneakers or work boots for winter and (b) flip-flops for summer. Except for the yokels who wear cowboy boots year-round.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Bend's Strange Stokenphobia*

The city government of Bend hasn't had many good ideas in the last 25 years, but I can think of at least one: traffic roundabouts.

Roundabouts -- otherwise known as "traffic circles" -- are far superior to four-way stops or traffic signals in terms of both safety and efficiency. They reduce the amount of stop-and-go needed to get through an intersection (thereby improving gas mileage and cutting pollution) and they virtually eliminate the often deadly  "T-bone" crashes that happen when people run stop signs or red lights.

Yet when the city started putting in roundabouts about 12 years ago, the local citizenry was close to panic. Everybody was all, like, "Mah GAWD, Ethel, the cars will be goin' around in circles! We're all a-gonna DIE!"

There are now 29 roundabouts in town, making Bend one of the top five roundabout cities in the United States. Most of them are (naturally) on the ever-so-fashionable west side. The city is trying to sell the voters on a bond issue that would pay for as many as five more. A couple of them would be placed on Reed Market Road, which is one of the few routes from the west side to the east side and experiences Southern California-style congestion during rush hours.

Although anti-roundabout sentiment isn't as prevalent as it was a decade ago, it's still out there. For instance, here's what one letter to the editor in the Source Weekly, our local alternative paper, had to say about building more roundabouts:

"Did one of the [city] planners take a course in college entitled 'Traffic Circles 301' that he, or she, really, really liked? ... [D]o we really want to buy three more traffic circles at $3 million each? ... Enough with the traffic circles already!"

Ah, well. Bendoids, I've observed, do not adapt well to new ideas. Many of them are still trying to figure out what a "Yield" sign means and how to merge into traffic on a freeway.

*No, I did not make that word up. It means an irrational fear of circles.

Friday, May 13, 2011

"Quiet Little Town"? "Great Place to Raise Kids"?

Reprinted without comment from KTVZ:

A 23-year-old Bend man was arrested this week on drug charges, accused of conducting a heroin deal in downtown Bend near the library, a school and the Boys and Girls Club, authorities said Friday.

The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Street Crimes Unit received information around 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday about a planned delivery of heroin, arranged to take place near on Wall Street near Kansas Avenue, close to the library, Amity Creek Magnet School and the Boys and Girls Club of Bend, said sheriff’s Sgt. Bryan Husband.

The unit then began a surveillance operation and saw several pedestrians, some apparent juveniles, conducting activities typical for the area, Husband said.Two males, already suspects in a previous heroin investigation, arrived in the area on foot, he said.The Street Crimes Unit contacted the men, one identified as Zachary William Cheney, who Husband said was found to be in possession of a street-level amount of heroin and about $300 in cash.

Husband said the two men admitted being in the area to make a drug deal.Cheney was arrested and lodged at the county jail on charges of heroin possession and delivery within 1,000 feet of a school.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

More Bend Strangeness: Charred Stumps as Garden Decor

A fine specimen of charred-tree-stump garden decor
This post isn't about Bend's suckiness per se, but about a strange phenomenon I've wanted to comment on for some time: charred tree stumps as garden ornaments.

People in various parts of America use some pretty weird shit as garden decor -- plaster gnomes, old tires painted white, wooden figurines of fat ladies bending over and presenting their asses to the passerby -- but Bend is the only place where I've seen charred tree stumps employed for that purpose.

When I first saw these charred stumps on people's property I assumed they were simply left over from some long-ago forest fire. But it's not so: They have been brought in deliberately and positioned in lawns and flower beds for decorative purposes.

Why Bendians think a charred tree stump adds to the beauty of their domestic landscape is a mystery. Maybe the explanation is that charred tree stumps, along with rocks, bark dust and juniper bushes, are among the few garden items that can tolerate the Bend climate.

This is a topic that requires further research, and possibly another post.

Friday, May 6, 2011

East Bend ... or East LA?

From our local TV news Web site today:

Dozens of police cars swarmed the side parking lot at the east Bend Safeway Thursday evening after a call on two possibly drunk men soon led to an officer drawing her gun on five people who refused to get out of a car. Three were arrested -- two on theft or drug charges, all three for parole or probation violations.

The incident began shortly after 6 p.m. at the Safeway on Highway 20 at NE 27th St., said Sgt. Nick Parker.A female officer responded to a report of two suspicious men in the parking lot, described as acting "very unusual," "talking weird" and possibly intoxicated, Parker said. The caller told dispatchers the men got into a car parked in the lot and were leaving.

When the officer arrived, she learned of a reported fight in the bottle return area on the east side of the store, by 27th Street, Parker said. The two men were described as similar to the earlier call of two suspicious men, one of them having a cane, he said.

The officer spotted the car on the east side of the store, with four people inside, Parker said. Another man was running from the bottle return area to the car, apparently to avoid police contact, Parker said.The officer confronted the people in the car, ordering them out with their hands up.

When none of them would do so, and not knowing if anyone was armed, she was forced to draw her gun and held all five at gunpoint until backup arrived, called to the "high risk" stop.

"Small-town charm"? "Quiet little village nestled in the Cascades"?

Maybe once. Not now. And not ever again.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Another Aspect of the Suck: The Big Bend Chill

"This year, April took a chill pill" says the headline on this morning's daily Bend newspaper. "April 2011 will go into the books as one of the coldest Aprils in Central Oregon and around the Northwest in years," said the story under it.

The average daily high in Bend in April was a truly sucktacular 40.1 degrees, which was 3.6 degrees below the long-term average (1971 to 2000) of 43.7.

Last month was, indeed, chillier than usual for Bend and the Northwest. But Bend takes a chill pill every year.

Long-term data from the Oregon Climate Service shows that the average daily high in Bend surpasses 70 degrees in only four months: June, July, August and September. It surpasses 60 degrees in two more months -- May and (barely) October.

Bear in mind also that a high in the 70s or 60s does not mean the temperature is in the 70s or 60s for all, or even most, of the day. It might climb into the 60s or 70s for only a couple of hours before dropping back into the 50s, 40s or 30s. And of course it's notorious that after sunset, the temperature in Bend goes down faster than a $20 hooker.

(As an aside, Bend's climate is not exactly hospitable to baseball, especially night games. When Bend had a minor league team back in the day, locals joked about attending "30-30" games -- 30 people in the stands, 30 degrees on the field.) 

Last year I examined Bend's "300 days of sunshine" claim and proved through rigorous scientific investigation that it is pure double-distilled 200-proof bullshit. This year I intend to focus on a different aspect of Bend's suckiness: the temperature. I'm going to track the daily high temperature and score each day as comfortable* (high of 70 or above), marginal (high of 60 or above) or sucky (high below 60). I'm starting with today's reading (May 1) and will go through April 2012.

To add interest, I'm also starting a contest to guess how many comfortable (above 70) days Bend will experience over the coming year. Whoever comes closest to the exact number will receive an appropriate prize.

I'm betting the total will be 102.

*NOTE: I define 70 and above as  "comfortable" because it is the temperature range in which I can feel comfortable outdoors without wearing a sweater, jacket, coat, parka, anorak or similar extra insulation (unless the wind is blowing, which it usually is in Bend).