Friday, July 22, 2011

Explaining the Suck: It's The Bitch's Fault ... Maybe

A Facebook friend posted a link to a story on The Oregonian's Web site that tries to explain, in sort of a half-assed way, why we had such a suckeriffic spring and are having a (mostly) sucktastic summer.

Matt Zaffino, chief meteorologist for KGW-TV in Portland, seems to think this year's La Nina* (Spanish for "The Bitch") is responsible both for the mammoth "heat dome" making life miserable in the Midwest and Northeast and the freakishly cool summer temperatures in Oregon and Washington. "When you have such a persistent, stable dome of hot air, it just sits there," he said. "By default we are on the cool, upstream side of that dome."

I'm not sure I can completely buy that explanation. The "heat dome" didn't form until this month, and Oregon's weather has sucked ever since March. In the second place, I've been through a lot of La Nina years here, but none of them was as bad as this one.

Is there any hope for amelioration of the suckiness? Well, the "heat dome" is supposed to diminish and move out to sea, and the thermometer is predicted to climb into the mid- to upper 80s in Oregon this weekend.

But that doesn't necessarily mean anything. The La Nina pattern has broken down, The Oregonian reports, but "its effect on the atmosphere has not."

Then comes the real crusher: "And there are some indications that it may return by fall."

Somebody please shoot me. Just shoot me now.

*I don't know how to create a tilde in this application, so you'll just have to imagine it. Sorry.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

It Really Sucks to Be Told You Suck

"You can't handle the truth."
-- Col. Nathan R. Jessep (Jack Nicholson) in "A Few Good Men," 1992

Bill Watkins is not a popular fellow in Bend.

Bill Watkins, an economist from Southern California, first came here in January 2009 to present his economic forecast for Deschutes County, which already was about two and a half years into the Great Real Estate Fire Sale. Watkins told the audience of local movers and shakers that unemployment here would hit 15%.

The movers and shakers pooh-poohed. Couldn't happen, they said. Ridiculous. No frickin' WAY. Why, people wanted to live here.

As it turned out, Watkins was wrong. Unemployment did not hit 15%. It passed 15% and breezed right on by it, reaching almost 20%.

So the pooh, as the saying goes, was on the other foot.

Flash forward to the present day. Watkins has been hired by the Deschutes Economic Alliance, a group trying to find ways to help Bend and Deschutes County extricate itself from the crapper. The other day he gave an interview to a Portland radio station.

“They’re in bad shape, with an unemployment rate ranging from just a little below 15% to over 17%, depending on the community in Central Oregon,” Watkins said, as reported in today's issue of The Bulletin. “Home prices have just been decimated, still are very weak.”

Two of the three Deschutes County commissioners became incensed at Watkins, not because he uttered untruths but because he said some things that ... well, they just weren't very nice.

“I would have expected something factual yet positive toward our area,” said Commissioner Tammy Baney. “Quite possibly that is because he doesn’t live in our area and doesn’t see what I see on a daily basis. I think you can say we have high unemployment, but you can also marry that with ‘the numbers are getting better.’ ”

Commissioner Alan Unger sounded even dumber: “We aren’t going to move forward by repeating the challenges that sort of sound doom-and-gloomy."

To his credit, the third commissioner, Tony DeBone, took it like a grownup. “Those are facts, and I don’t think I see anything wrong there,” he said of Watkins's comments.

Watkins is sticking to his guns. “I think my job is to tell the truth as I see it, and if people can clearly evaluate the situation, they’re better able to deal with it. I just don’t see how I’d be doing the community any service if I sugar-coated it.”

Poor Bill, you just don't get it. Folks in Bend don't want truth-tellers; they want cheerleaders. They don't want to swallow any bitter truth pills; they want that sugar coating. Lots and lots of sugar coating.

In fact, forget about the pills and just keep feeding them sugar. They'll adore you for it.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Suckiness of Presenting False Choices

I'm ready to declare the summer of 2011 in Bend over. It started July 2 and ended July 11. The temperature hasn't made it into the 70s since then, and as I write this (12:45 p.m., July 14) it's mostly cloudy and 64 degrees.

But that's not what's really annoying me right now. What's annoying me are the imbeciles -- and they are many -- who, when you complain about the profoundly and chronically sucky spring and summer we've had, retort with: "Would you rather have it be 105 degrees like it is in Oklahoma?" or wherever.

Yes, triple-digit heat -- especially when it's prolonged and accompanied by drought, as it is in much of the southern tier of the United States this year -- can truly suck. It destroys crops and can kill old people who don't have air conditioning (and younger people who are stupid enough to work out in it).

But the suckiness of weather conditions elsewhere has no bearing whatsoever on the suckiness of weather conditions in Bend, Oregon. The fact that it may suck harder someplace else does not make it suck any less here.

So comments like, "Would you rather have it be 105 degrees?" are just moronic. It's as if somebody told you he had a compound fracture of the femur and you replied: "Would you rather have metastatic colon cancer?"

Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb. And rather douche-baggish, frankly.

Monday, July 11, 2011

How Hard Does THIS Suck???

Just a reminder that no matter how hard Bend's weather sucks, Portland's weather is gonna suck 10 times as hard about 85% of the time.

No wonder Portlanders who move to Bend think they've arrived in "paradise." They're so glad to see the sun shine and give their socks a chance to dry out that they become delirious.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

June Report: The Big Chill, Cont.'d.

Bend's sucky Big Chill "spring" continued through June, with daily high temperatures running a good five to 10 degrees below normal. (And god knows the "normal" in Bend isn't that high to begin with.)

It wasn't until June 14, by my reckoning, that the mercury (metaphorically speaking; I'm using a digital thermometer) crossed the 70-degree mark -- barely. The highest temperature I recorded for the month was 84, during our three-day "heat wave" on June 20, 21 and 22. I also logged a high of 81 on June 27.

Overall the month wasn't intolerably cold; the high surpassed 60 on every day. But it wasn't exactly late-spring-like either: Only seven days managed to achieve highs of 70 or better.

Now that the disgusting Portland Rose Festival is over, the usual summer high-pressure dome appears to have formed over the Pacific Northwest and we're finally enjoying some warm and sunny weather. (It's supposed to hit 90 in Bend today.) Here's hoping summer lasts more than two months before the fall-winter suck season returns.

Totals for Month:

Comfortable Days: 7
Tolerable Days: 23
Cold Days: 0

Totals YTD:

Comfortable Days: 7
Tolerable Days: 32
Cold Days: 22

A Note About Temperature Readings: The temperatures I have recorded may or may not match the "official" highs recorded for Bend. Bend has many micro-climates; my front entryway (where my thermometer is located) may well be colder than some of them. On the other hand, it may well be warmer than some of them. Also, please don't write to tell me: "Only 84 on the hottest day in June? Are you out of your frickin' mind?!? I went fishing (or whatever) that day, and it hadda be at least 90!" The sun in Bend (when it's shining) is very intense and makes one feel very warm when one is in it, even on a fairly cold day. I take my temperature readings in the shade -- which is where temperature readings should be taken.