Saturday, June 25, 2011

Another Possible Explanation for Our Increasing Suckiness

This study dates back four years, but I wasn't aware of it until it was posted by a friend today on Facebook:

A study from Texas A&M University reports that air pollution from Asia is making the Pacific region cloudier and stormier, disrupting winter weather patterns along the US West Coast and the Arctic. The study, led by Renyi Zheng, was reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (LA Times, 2007).

The Arctic has been freakishly warm this spring -- on any given day, Fairbanks, AK tends to be warmer than Bend, OR -- while Hawaii and the whole West Coast have been unusually wet and cool.

Oh well, guess it's just another way that the Chinese are fucking us over.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

"Best Outdoor Town"? Not Even in the Running

Oh woe, oh woe -- Outside Magazine is conducting an on-line poll to determine the "best outdoor town ever," and Bend, Oregon ("Recreation Paradise! Healthy Outdoor Lifestyle! 300 Days of Sunshine!") didn't even make the Top Ten list.

Adding to the shame, two Oregon cities did make the Top Ten -- Ashland and Portland. (Portland, seriously? Soggy, dismal, dreary Portland?)

Of course, this news should not be dismaying to anybody who knows how magazines go about compiling these ratings. It works something like this:

1. Ad department comes up with an idea for a Top Ten list -- top ten cities for mountain biking, top ten cities for skiing, top ten cities for backyard goat farming, whatever.

2. Ad salespersons get their marching orders, start calling up prospective advertisers in the cities on the list and making their pitch: "We're coming out with our Top Ten Cities for Catching Chlamydia in September, and (Bend, Portland, Ashland, Sioux Falls, etc.) is in the running! I'm sure you'll want to be part of this fantastic advertising opportunity!"

3. Cities where the advertisers cough up sufficient bucks stay on the list; cities where they don't get bumped in favor of ones where they do.

4. Editorial staff cranks out puff pieces on each of the "winning" cities, making sure to regurgitate all the bullshit Chamber of Commerce talking points.

Which means, essentially, that all of these Top Ten lists are as phony as a $3 bill -- or as Bend's "300 Days of Sunshine."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

You Can't Eat the "Lifestyle"

From this morning's Oregonian. Note especially the third paragraph:

Forget about expanding Portland's economic pie anytime soon. A new report predicts the metro area must wait until mid 2014 just to recover the number of jobs it had before the recession.

Corvallis will do better, returning to pre-recession peak employment in 2013, according to the report Monday by IHS Global Insight, an economic forecasting firm. Medford will take until 2018 and Eugene-Springfield until 2019, the report said.

Metro Bend? Oregon's poster city for the housing bubble won't stage a jobs comeback until  "beyond 2021," the forecasters said. They see double-digit unemployment gripping Deschutes County through 2013.

I'm ceaselessly amazed by how many people come to Bend without a job or any prospect of one because "they just want to live here." They stay until their savings are exhausted -- one month, two months, six months -- and then they either leave or become a burden on the social services system.

Maybe we need to stop encouraging people to move here for the "healthy outdoor lifestyle" unless they've got a healthy paycheck in the offing.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

One Hundred Years of Bullshit

As the poster above (circa 1911) attests, the tradition of hyping Bend and Central Oregon as some kind of "paradise" is a long, if not necessarily honorable, one.

In the first decade of the 20th century, railroad moguls James J. Hill and E.H. Harriman had a race to build the first railroad to Bend. Hill won, finishing his Oregon Trunk Railway from the Columbia River to Bend in 1911. On Oct. 5 of that year, Hill came to Bend to personally drive the golden spike symbolizing completion of the link.

The Oregon Historical Society reports: "Hill encouraged people at the ceremony to focus their efforts at cultivating agricultural products for consumption by urbanites.  According to Hill, 'There is no reason why Central Oregon should not produce enormous wealth.  We have a good deal of faith in it.  If we did not have we would not have come here.'"

Trying to make the Oregon Trunk Railway profitable, according to the historical society, Hill "promoted the Bend area as an agricultural garden spot. Some settlers were disappointed, finding the altitude and aridity of the region a hindrance to agriculture. Similar sentiments among settlers on the Northern Plains earned Hill a dubious legacy in the form of this schoolyard rhyme: 'Twixt Hill and Hell there’s just one letter.  Were Hill in Hell we’d feel much better.'"

Once the would-be settlers figured out that the "fertile Deschutes Valley" was more suited to the cultivation of rocks, sagebrush and scrub juniper trees than peaches, apples and tomatoes, the "agricultural garden spot" scam pretty much played out. It was left for later generations of hucksters to come up with a fresh one: the promotion of Bend as an "outdoor recreation paradise." But we're still waiting for Central Oregon to "produce enormous wealth" for anybody but real estate hustlers.

And so it goes.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Taking Anti-Troll Measures

Due to the recent upsurge in troll activity, I have decided to tighten the security for comments on this blog. Anonymous comments will no longer be allowed, and you will need a Google account for identification. To establish a Google account, go to and click on "Sign In" on the upper right-hand corner. If you don't already have an account you'll be prompted to set one up.

My apologies for any inconvenience this may cause. As usual, it's a case of one or two douchebags spoiling things for everybody else.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Send in the Trolls

The past couple of posts on this blog have attracted an invasion of trolls. Actually I think it's only one troll, but it worked itself into such a frenzy of rage that it fired off six comments in rapid succession last Tuesday.

I don't publish comments that are personally insulting, especially if they're anonymous and especially if they're insulting to me. (This is my fucking blog, after all.) But I'll quote some choice excerpts just to give you the flavor:


"Get outta here loser! Go invest in california!"

"I'll give you a ride to california tomorrow cheese dick!"

(I'll admit I had to go to the Urban Dictionary to look up "cheese dick." The first definition:
"A guy who is not only cheesy with the ladies, but is also an arrogant dick head. He almost definitely wears gel in his hair at all times and/or dresses in nice expensive clothes." Now, an arrogant dickhead I may sometimes be, but I have NEVER worn gel in my hair and I rarely dress in nice expensive clothes, for the simple reason that I don't have many nice expensive clothes. Of course, in Bend if you wear anything other than a T-shirt, a hoodie and jeans people will ask why you're "all dressed up.")

And finally this one:

"Bruce, you're a piece of shit. If you don't like it here please move! You are the kind of loser who is ruining this town!"

That last sentence was particularly intriguing. How, exactly, am I "ruining this town"? I'm a law-abiding, property-owning, tax-paying citizen. I don't deal drugs or expose myself to children at playgrounds or build vast crappy housing tracts.

Evidently the troll thinks I'm "ruining this town" by mentioning some of the negative aspects of it. I'm "ruining" it by refusing to be a cheerleader -- by not doing my part in pushing the "Bend is PARADISE!!!" fantasy.

Behind this attitude -- which is pretty common among the Bendoids, especially the lifers -- is a lingering faith in the Doctrine of Bend Exceptionalism and the deluded belief that if we just sell the fantasy hard enough, we can convince millions of people that Bend really is Paradise, the real estate bubble will re-inflate and the good times will roll again.

For those who still cling to that delusion, here are two points to think about:

1. If Bend really had been even 27% as wonderful as it was made out to be, the real estate bubble never would have popped.

2. If people in Bend hadn't bought their own bullshit propaganda about Bend being Paradise, to the point of believing everybody in the world wanted to live here and would pay any price to live here, the real estate bubble and the economic disaster resulting from its collapse would never have happened.

Which raises the question: Who really "ruined" Bend -- those who peddled the bullshit, or those few who told the truth?

Tra-la, It's May, the Sucky Month of May*

The Spring Suck Marathon continueth.

According to my highly accurate and sophisticated records, Bend did not enjoy a single 70-plus degree in May. That's right, nary a one. Zero, zilch, zip, nada.

In fact, only nine days out of the 31 managed a high of 60 or above, and at least three of them didn't even reach 50. The month's "heat wave" was from May 10 through May 13 -- four above-60 days in a row. Yippee.

The forecasters say we're finally going to get some unsucky, spring-like weather this weekend, with highs in the mid-70s on Saturday and Sunday. All the Bendians are chortling with glee and rushing out to buy petunias and fuchsias.

Me, I'll believe it when I see it.

May Totals

Comfortable Days: 0
Tolerable Days: 9
Cold Days: 22

*Adapted from Lerner & Loewe's "Camelot," 1960