Sunday, August 5, 2012

Something Else That Sucks About Bend: Its Hospital

Kind of a shocking headline at the top of the front page of this morning's Bulletin: "Staff questions safety at St. Charles."

The story went on to tell how a survey of operating room staff at Bend's only hospital "raised widespread ... concerns" about patient safety. Only 40% of the staff who took the survey said they would feel safe having surgery at St. Charles themselves. The average score on the survey, which has been conducted annually for the past four years, has dropped from 49 in 2009 to 39 in January 2012.

Actually, the story isn't all that shocking to somebody who's lived in Bend for more than a quarter of a century and is familiar with the Bend way of doing things.

People in Bend like to say they work hard and play hard, but the reality is more like "play hard, and work as little as we can get away with." As a PR client of mine -- a prominent, longtime Bend businessman -- used to lament, "People come to Bend to play, not to work." And that's probably just as true of surgeons as sheetrockers.

Add to that the culture of mediocrity* that permeates the place -- the attitude that being "a nice person" is far more important than being excellent, or even competent -- and it's not hard to imagine that culture penetrating the operating room too.

Hard data on how the attitude toward safety affects patients' health is hard to come by, but the Bulletin story did note that in 2011, there were 14 cases of surgical site infections in patients who had bowel surgery -- twice the normal rate for hospitals of St. Charles's size.

And I personally have known too many cases of surgery patients who experienced unfavorable outcomes -- up to and including dying on the operating table.

Of course, such mishaps happen -- happen way too often -- at hospitals everywhere. Nonetheless, I've made up my mind about one thing, and given my loved ones a clear directive about it: If I need surgery and I have any choice in the matter, I want it done somewhere other than Bend.

ADDENDUM: Recently I encountered a Bend woman whose child had been suffering chronic pain. The Bend doctors -- even the so-called "pain specialists" -- had been able to do nothing to help the child. Finally the parents took the child to a top medical clinic in the Bay Area, which fortunately was able to diagnose and treat the problem. Bottom line: If you have a broken femur or a torn ACL, Bend is a great place to get it treated. If you have anything more exotic, fuhgeddaboudit.

*The culture of mediocrity does not apply to athletic endeavors, which is the only area in which Bendites strive for and prize excellence.

Monday, July 23, 2012

We're Number One!

See that number 54 smack-dab in the middle of Oregon? Yep, that's little old Bend -- coldest town in the Lower 49 states at this moment (10 a.m. on July 23, 2012).

But no worries; it probably will warm up to 60 by late afternoon.

Meanwhile, Albuquerque's looking good at 80.

Monday, July 9, 2012

My Pride and Joy

This is my new most-prized possession (and a neat early birthday gift) -- a custom-made BEND SUX mug handcrafted by Owen Gearing Dearing of Bend, aka "The Mugmaker." Owen is a fine craftsman and a helluva nice guy who creates beautiful mugs with your choice of custom lettering or design, and also very lovely shaving mugs (I bought one). Check it all out here.

P.S.: I'm sure Owen would be happy to make any of my fans a BEND SUX mug of his/her very own.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Anthropological Fact

"Chimpanzees never shelter from the rain; they just sit in the open and look miserable, occasionally shaking themselves to throw off the raindrops clinging to their coats." Source:

Q: What's the difference between chimpanzees and Oregonians?

A: Oregonians sit out in the rain grinning, and they don't bother to shake.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Shit My Mother Said, and Related Matters

I've always thought one of the most annoying sayings ever coined was one my mother used to lambaste me with all the time I if I complained about anything: "I wept because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet."

This is an example of the so-called logic that says: "Because something worse is happening, has happened or could be happening to somebody else somewhere at some time, what's happening to you right now isn't bad."

I say this is 200-proof, double-distilled, bottled-in-bond bullshit.

Somebody else's misery may be worse in comparison to mine, but that doesn't lessen mine. If I had no shoes and met a man who had no feet I would feel sorry for that unfortunate man. I would do whatever I could to help him. But the ineluctable fact remains that his lack of feet would not remedy my lack of shoes. (Unless, of course, he happened to have an old pair of shoes that he didn't need any more and was willing to give them to me.)

Another pain-in-the-ass thing my mother used to say to me when I griped because it was raining and I couldn't play baseball was: "Be thankful we don't have tornadoes."

I often wondered what mothers in Kansas said to their kids. "Be thankful we don't have earthquakes," probably.

Similar "logic" is often used to defend Bend's suckalicious weather, e.g., "Well, we could be having 100-degree heat like they're having on the East Coast."

Sure, we could. (Well, no, actually, in Bend we couldn't.) But no matter how badly the weather on the East Coast, or in Alaska, or in Siberia or wherever is at any given moment, it does not alter the sucky attributes of the weather in Bend at that moment. And, since I am in Bend and not on the East Coast or in Alaska or Siberia or wherever, the weather in Bend is what I'm interested in.

So here's a polite request for the next person who tries to pull my mother's old shit on me and tell me it doesn't really suck in Bend because it sucks harder somewhere else: Stuff it.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Are We in Shangri-La Yet?

The Bend-is-Paradise myth takes many peculiar forms. One of them is that some Bendoids apparently believe living in Bend will make people live longer. The other day I heard an acquaintance remark, "Seventy is young in Bend."

Is it really? Is Bend a Shangri La-in-the-Cascades where 70-year-olds are mere adolescents and 200-year-olds are common? Well, let's look at the numbers.

Figures on life expectancy specifically for Bend are hard to come by. However, the extremely valuable source has a table listing the 10 most common last names of deceased persons in Bend and their ages when they died. Averaging them out yields a life expectancy of 76.3 years.

The average life expectancy for the United States is 78.6 years; the average life expectancy for Oregon is 79 years. Measured against those numbers, Bend doesn't stack up very well -- despite its clean air and vaunted "healthy outdoor lifestyle."

What places do stack up well? The Top 10 11 states for life expectancy, in descending order, are Hawaii, Minnesota, California, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Utah, and Colorado, Arizona and South Dakota (tied at 79.9 years).

What do those states have in common? Most of them have relatively high levels of education and income. High levels of education and income correlate with access to good medical care, and good medical care indisputably extends life expectancy.

So Bend has no magic elixir for extending life. And if you hope to hit the century mark before you check out, here's my advice: Don't move to Bend -- move to a place where there are good doctors and you can earn enough money to pay them.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Understanding Bend's Sucktacular Climate: The Two-Month Rule

It's June 4, and in Bend the temperature is 54 degrees and it's drizzling. The visitors from California and other points south and east are wandering around in their shorts, T-shirts and sandals, looking dazed and confused.

Understanding Bend's suckalicious weather actually is pretty easy once you master a few basic facts:

  • Bend is in the Pacific Northwest, which means that (even though it's in the "rain shadow" of the Cascades) it's likely to be cloudy.
  • Bend is at 3,600 feet altitude and 44 degrees north latitude, which means it will be cold.
  • Bend is next to a mountain range, which means the weather will be erratic -- sunny one minute, cloudy the next; 80 degrees one day, 40 the next.

As a rule of thumb, generally the weather in Bend during the (so-called) spring and summer months is pretty consistently two months behind the weather in places with a more normal climate. The following is a handy guide for those planning a trip or (god forbid!) a move to Bend. Feel free to print it out and save it:

January in Bend is like January in other places.

February is like February.

March is like February.

April is like March.

May is like March.

June is like April.

July is like May.

August is like June.

September is like September (if we're lucky).

October is like September (if we're lucky).

November is like November.

December is like December.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Well, This Is Rather Embarrassing

I have never claimed to be mathematically competent, so I won't offer any excuses for not realizing that with the end of April, the year's temperature record-keeping has been completed and the YTD totals that I posted are, in fact, the totals for the complete year of May 2011 through April 2012.

To recap:

Totals for Year:
Comfortable Days: 103
Tolerable Days: 73
Cold Days: 189

That's a pretty damn dismal performance, especially considering that practically all of the comfortable (above 70) days occurred in July, August and September.

If you live in Bend only during those three months, Bend isn't bad. The rest of the time ... well, I just have to say it ...

Bend Sux.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

April Temperature Report: The Chill Continues

This spring in Bend has been a hell of a lot sunnier and milder than last year's La Nina-afflicted spring, but we're still not likely to challenge Palm Springs.

According to the records of The Weather Channel, Bend logged six comfortable days (high above 70) in April, 10 tolerable days (above 60) and 14 cold days. All but one of those above-70 days occurred during one freakishly warm (for Bend) stretch from April 20 through 24, on two days of which the thermometer even climbed into the 80s.

So far in May Bend has recorded eight 70-plus days, but the weather has reverted to its gray and chilly "spring" norm. So unless things warm up in a hurry -- which, according to the forecast, is not likely -- we probably won't surpass 120 comfortable days on the year.

April Totals:
Comfortable Days: 5
Tolerable Days: 10
Cold Days: 15

YTD Totals:
Comfortable Days: 103
Tolerable Days: 73
Cold Days: 189

Friday, May 11, 2012

Bend Sudorphobia*

I returned Wednesday evening from a five-day trip to New Orleans, where I had a swell time wandering around, taking photos, visiting museums, eating in fine restaurants, drinking in fine (and not so fine) bars, listening to jazz and soaking up the local color, which was present in abundance.

This was my first visit to the Crescent City, and before I went my friends warned me about the horrible heat and humidity I would encounter. As it turned out, there was nothing at all horrible about the New Orleans weather in early May. In fact I considered it just about perfect -- sunny (except for a couple of thunderstorms that brought torrential, but brief, rain) with highs in the mid-80s. The humidity was noticeable, but not (to me) oppressive. I thought it actually made the air feel pleasantly soft -- unlike Bend's cold and bone-dry air, which rasps at your skin and sinuses like sandpaper.

Did I sweat? Yes, a little. But so what? Sweat is not fatal. It's not even all that uncomfortable, at least to me. You sweat, you take a shower, you're not sweaty anymore. It's no big deal.

But to many people in Bend, sweating is a really big deal. They dread it as much as catching the Ebola virus.

The first day of my stay in New Orleans I posted on Facebook that the weather there was 83 degrees and humid, but that I'd take those conditions any day over 40 degrees and snowing, which was the situation in Bend when we left.

"You'll get over that quickly," one of my Bend friends responded.

"Get over what?" I asked. "Not liking snow and 40 degrees in May? Nope, don't think so."

"Vs. heat, humidity and mosquitoes?" the friend said.

"Yes," I said.

To which I will now add: "Fuck yes."

*A word I made up based on sudor, the Latin noun for sweat.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Everything's Coming Up Rainbows and Unicorns

I'm thinking about asking the city council to pass a resolution making this the official national anthem of Bend. What could more fittingly express the child-like, smiley-face optimism of Bendites, or their penchant for preferring pretty fantasies -- whether they're about the climate or the city's economic prospects -- to unpleasant facts?

(There are many versions of this song on YouTube; I chose this one because of the singularly idiotic expression of the singer. I suspect he needed surgery on his jaw to enable him to open his mouth that way.)

WARNING! Watching the full two minutes of this video may induce suicidal thoughts and/or actions.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

As If Bend Didn't Suck Hard Enough, Now We Have Hipsters

In a previous post I wrote about some of the poseurs who inhabit Bend, notably including the "elite athlete" poseurs. Unfortunately I neglected to mention one of the more obnoxious breeds of poseur that has started to infest this town in the past five or six years or so: the hipster.

Hipsters can be identified by, among other things, their tight black jeans, their Chuck Taylor sneakers, their abundant tattoos and their fondness for bicycles (single-speed, preferably) and Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, or "PBR" or "Peeber," as they call it. The last item alone tells you how execrable their tastes are. When I was starting to drink beer many years ago in New Jersey, Pabst was what you drank when nothing else was available. And it hasn't gotten better.

Hipsters have no visible means of support; it's suspected that most of them are living off trust funds. They spend their days hanging out in coffee shops surfing the Web on their iPads or MacBooks (they would never dream of owning a non-Apple product) or texting other hipsters on their iPhones (or calling their parents to ask them to send more money).

How hipsters spend their nights is something I don't know and don't want to know.

Portland is hipster heaven, as anybody who's watched the excellent comedy series "Portlandia" knows. The hipsters of Bend possibly are an overflow from Portland. It is to be hoped the climate here will prove too cold for them and they'll migrate elsewhere.

Meanwhile, for your entertainment and edification, here's a video to help you understand the Evolution of the Hipster from earlier species, including the beatnik and the hippy:

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Bullshit Goes On Forever

I couldn't resist re-posting verbatim the first item from The Bulletin's "Yesterday" column, a compilation of stories and other material from 100, 50 and 25 years ago that appears every Sunday.

Why should a Bend man smile?

Because: Substantial, permanent brick and stone buildings costing more than $70,000 have been built within the last month, are under construction or will be commenced within a month.
Because: There is more home-building, more attractive residences being erected here, than in any town of Bend’s size in Oregon.
Because: Two first class railroads are operating in Bend, and Bend has the best warehouse and terminal facilities of any town east of the Cascades.
Because: The distributing business of Bend is growing every day, making this the most important railroad point in the interior.
Because: Bend has a brick yard with modern machinery and an inexhaustible supply of splendid clay, which can supply cheaply the best of building materials for a large city.
Because: Bend has a creamery making a permanent market for all farmers of this territory for their milk and cream and giving the most valuable kind of impetus to agricultural development.
Because: Bend has the only ice plant in the interior, ensuring the town the best to be had in this line and meaning that money from other towns will come here for the Bend made product.
Also, there are many, many other reasons why Bend boosters should smile.
These are just a few — if your neighbor looks glum, remind him that the next year will see even more smile-makers than have the past twelve months.
Where now are those "two first-class railroads," that brick yard, that creamery? Gone with the cat-piss-scented high desert breeze, alas.
A century later Bendites brag about our plentiful microbreweries, our many miles of mountain bike trails and the four-year university that we're going to have any decade now instead of our ice plant and our "splendid clay," but the relentless rah-rah tone has never altered. And I'm sure it never will.
The timber may be gone, the ranching may be gone, the real estate boom may be gone, but the supply of bullshit is inexhaustible.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Blog Is Prettier But the Weather Still Sux

As you can see, I have adopted a new design template for the blog. I figure it's the only way I'm going to get to see a blue sky before the middle of June or thereabouts.

Starting on March 10, Bend has experienced 39 days of almost continuous suck. Specifically, we have seen only 11 sunny or partly sunny days during that whole period, with clouds and/or rain and/or snow and/or wind on most of the other 28 and temperatures generally reaching only the 40s to mid-50s.

Temperature-wise, March yielded only three "tolerable" days (high of 60 or above) and all of those came in the first 10 days of the month -- lending credence to the old Bend proverb: "March comes in like a lamb and goes out like a Tyrannosaurus Rex."

March Totals:
Comfortable Days: 0
Tolerable Days: 3
Cold Days: 28

YTD Totals:
Comfortable Days: 98
Tolerable Days: 63
Cold Days: 174

Sunday, April 1, 2012

They'll None of Them Be Missed

Since this appears to have turned into Mikado week, here's Ko-Ko the Lord High Executioner with an updated version of "I've Got a Little List." I'm H. Bruce Miller, and I approve this message.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Here's to You, Nanki-Poo

My comrade-in-bloggery, Jack Elliott, claims I enjoy nothing but "overcast, despair, and hard bop music." While the statement about bop music is, to some extent, true, it is a base canard that I enjoy "overcast and despair." To prove it, here is a charming little ditty from Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado. Sing along, everybody!

March Musings

It is the last day of March, 10 days past the so-called "first day of spring." It is 45 degrees in Bend, and torrents of rain and sleet are blowing horizontally. According to the Weather Channel's records, the last mostly sunny and reasonably warm day Bend experienced was on March 9, 22 days ago.

Bend sucks.

Comments are not being accepted on this post; it is a meditation.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Bend Snobbery Totally Sucks

A Bend Eastsider relaxing at home, as envisioned by a Bend Weststider.

When we moved to Bend back in 1985, there wasn't much snobbery in this town. There were some rich people, and everybody knew who they were. But they didn't drive around in Bentleys or Maseratis or otherwise flaunt their wealth. They drove and wore pretty much the same things everybody else drove and wore.

That started to change in the early 1990s, when Bend began to promote itself not just as a place to visit for a few days for the hunting or fishing or skiing, but as an "outdoor recreation paradise" with an "upscale lifestyle" where affluent people should make their permanent residence.

I believe the watershed event was the opening of Broken Top, a snooty gated golf course community located on the northwest edge of Bend, in 1993. Contrary to widespread popular belief, Broken Top was not Bend's first gated community; Mountain High on the southwest southeast side holds that dubious distinction. But Broken Top was more expensive and had more "upscale"appeal from the get-go, and after it the floodgates of phoniness opened and the snobs poured in.

There are several kinds of snobbery operating in Bend. One, of course, is money snobbery, which is found in almost any community of any size. Another kind that's more peculiar to Bend is the snobbery of the jocks and -- mostly -- the jock poseurs.

The local media constantly tell everybody that Bend is packed wall-to-wall with "elite athletes." But bona fide "elite athletes" are pretty damn rare; there probably aren't more than about a hundred of them in Bend. But there must be at least 100 times that many Bendoids trying to pose as elite athletes.

These are the silly twits who are always wearing running shorts or bicycling tights or yoga pants (not that I have any real problem with yoga pants per se). They'e constantly posting on Facebook about how "awesome" their morning workout was, or telling you about their performance in their last triathlon and how they're going to totally kick ass in this year's Pole Pedal Paddle. They're ridiculous.

Equally ridiculous, if not more so, is the snobbery that residents of Bend's Westside display toward residents of the Eastside. As Westsiders see it, the Eastside is a forbidding, repugnant and probably dangerous place full of tumble-down shacks and rusting single-wides inhabited by drooling redneck semi-imbeciles who live on Twinkies, Dr. Pepper and methamphetamine, spend their evenings slouched in front of the TV watching NASCAR and ultimate cage fighting, and (very likely) marry their sisters.

It's a false image, but I don't mind encouraging it if it helps keep the Spandex-clad, jock-poseur, Westside hoi polloi away.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Middle of Nowhere is Not Where the Action Is

In reading a book titled The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson (it's about a cholera outbreak in mid-19th Century London and how its cause was discovered) I came across two passages that brilliantly explain why the fantasy of Bend becoming a vibrant, economically dynamic and diverse urban center is just that -- a fantasy.

First this:

"The power of telecommuting and instant connectivity was going to make the idea of densely packed urban cores as obsolete as the walled cities of the Middle Ages. Why would people crowd themselves into harsh, overpopulated environments when they could just as easily work from their homestead on the range? But as it turns out, many people actually like the density of urban environments, precisely because they offer ... diversity."

And later on, this:

"There's a reason why the world's wealthiest people -- people with near-infinite options vis-a-vis the choice of where to make their home -- consistently choose to live in the densest areas on the planet. Ultimately, they live in these places ... because cities are where the action is. Cities are centers of opportunity, tolerance, wealth creation, social networking, health ... and creativity."

Yes, Bend will continue to attract people who are devoted to the "outdoor lifestyle" to the point of obsession. But such people are a pretty small minority and they tend not to be the type of people who are driven to found mighty business enterprises. True, some of them will found small companies that employ themselves and maybe, at most, a dozen other people. But they won't create big job-generating businesses (think Intel, Apple or Dell) because in the first place they're not motivated that way, and in the second place doing that would prevent them from taking a day off every time there's fresh powder on the mountain or a week off every time they want to go catch some steelhead.

Also, Bend lacks the critical mass that makes places like New York, Los Angeles or Silicon Valley -- or, during the Renaissance, Florence -- centers of creative energy and intellectual ferment.  Energetic, ambitious and creative people tend to flock together. They seek out the opportunity to exchange ideas with others of their kind. They like the exciting vibe of a city. As Johnson says, they like to be where the action is.

Bend is a former timber town in an isolated rural area that managed to transform itself, more or less successfully, into a tourist town. That's all it's ever been since the mills closed, and all it's ever going to be. And the sooner Bendites face up to that the better off they'll be.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Everybody Back on the Roller Coaster

In its role as official house organ for the Builder-Developer-Realtor Axis, our local daily fish wrapper, The Bulletin, editorializes this morning that Bend needs to brace itself for another round of breakneck growth.

"Now is the time to start thinking about a return to rapid growth in Central Oregon," the editorial says. "Did we do it well last time around? What can we do better when it returns?

"During this time of economic loss and stagnation, most of us are waiting impatiently for a resurgence that brings jobs and restores tax revenues. Fortunately, there are a few signs of hope."

One of the "signs of hope" cited -- actually, the only tangible one cited -- is that the city issued twice as many building permits in the first two months of 2012 as it did in the first two months of 2011. The editorial doesn't mention that the total number of permits issued in January and February of this year was only 56 -- or that, according to an index of leading indicators compiled by University of Oregon economist Tim Duy, the region's economy actually slid backwards in the fourth quarter of 2011.

But never mind: Developer Mike Hollern predicts Bend will have a population of 250,000 by the year 2050, and developer Bill Smith assures us that Bend will grow because of its wonderful "quality of life."

"Central Oregon will need quality leadership, with smart thinking, increased infrastructure and wise use of resources," the editorial says. "It will need to balance the benefits of significant growth with preserving the qualities that make this a great place to live."

Did it ever occur to you, o editorial writer, that people move to Bend precisely because they DON'T want to live in a city of 250,000 -- or even 100,000?

The essential problem with this town (aside from its climate and its middle-of-nowhere location) is that the people who run it are idiots with about as much foresight as a fruit fly.

And that's why Bend sucks, and will suck even harder in the decades to come.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Here We Go Again

Mike Hollern and Bill Smith, two of Bend's biggest developers, spoke before the City Club of Central Oregon last week. They predicted that Bend will have a population of 250,000 by the year 2050.

No, there aren't any extra zeroes in that number. It isn't a typo. It's 250,000. A quarter of a million.

That's greater than the population of Glendale, AZ, St. Petersburg, FL, Rochester, NY, Madison, WI, Baton Rouge, LA or Salt Lake City, UT, to name just a few.

It is more than three times the present population of Bend, which is hovering around 80,000.

What's going to cause the population of Bend to more than triple in the next 38 years? Well, Mr. Hollern and Mr. Smith were a little vague about that, at least according to the account in our local fishwrapper, The Bulletin. But one thing that Smith said sounded awfully familiar:

"'Quality of life is better here than in many other places,' Smith said. It's an area 'that is constantly being rediscovered' by tourists who visit to ski in the winter, stay at resorts and take in the area's natural resources in the summer."

Ah yes, that good old "quality of life." Wasn't that what all the local boosters back in 2006 or so were saying would insulate Bend from the real estate collapse that was happening in California, Vegas, Florida and other areas?

We were different from those places, they all said. We had a wonderful quality of life. A unique quality of life, even. Everybody wanted to live here.

I don't have to tell you again how that worked out.

And yet here we are, six years later, and the boosters are telling us again that not only is our fabulous quality of life going to pull us out of the current depression, but it's going to be the draw that triples our population in less than 40 years.

And people are listening to them.

Folks here are strange.

And now, for a review of last month's temperatures:

February Totals:

Comfortable Days: 0
Tolerable Days: 1
Cold Days: 28

YTD Totals:

Comfortable Days: 98
Tolerable Days: 60
Cold Days: 146

Monday, March 5, 2012

Bend's Idiot Wind

In the mid-1970s, as part of the album Blood on the Tracks, Bob Dylan released the song "Idiot Wind." I have no evidence that he had Bend in mind when he dreamed up the title, but it wouldn't surprise me.

Bend is not the windiest city in America; in fact, statistics show that on average, it's slightly less windy than the average American city. But averages can be deceptive, as the statistician who drowned in a river with an average depth of two feet found out.

The wind in Bend doesn't blow all the time, but when it does blow, DAMN, does it ever blow!

It blows hard enough to send trash cans tumbling down the street. Hard enough to peel shingles off roofs. Hard enough to knock down tree limbs -- or entire trees. Hard enough to force Mount Bachelor to shut down the ski lifts. (When the chairs are hanging parallel to the ground, folks around here call it a "Bachelor breeze.") Gusts of 50, 60 or even 70 miles per hour are not uncommon -- and that's in the flatlands; it's much worse up in the mountains. A gust of 73 mph recently was recorded at Black Butte Ranch near Sisters, just up the road a piece.

These wind episodes occur every time a storm system roars into Oregon from the Pacific, which, in the winter, happens two or three times a week. I don't fully understand the meteorology of it, but it has to do with an extreme pressure gradient between the air on one side of the mountains and the air on the other side. Or something like that.

Anyway, whatever the scientific explanation, I detest it. Unlike my comrade-in-bloggery Jack Elliott*, I find gusty, blustery weather annoying, nerve-wracking and distinctly unpleasant.

It's an idiot wind.

*Bend's Best-Smelling Man

Friday, March 2, 2012

Escape at Last!

This is the place in the Phoenix area that we're renting for the months of January, February, March and April 2013. Can't show you photos of the interior because it was occupied and we couldn't get in, but the rental agent showed us photos and it appeared to be nicely furnished.

Skies were blue and temperatures were in the low 70s the five days we were in Phoenix. The locals apologized, said they were having a cold snap; normally, they said, temperatures would be in the upper 70s to low 80s at this time of year.

When we returned to Bend yesterday we found six inches of snow on the ground, with a temperature of 34 and a wind that made it feel more like 4.

Do you have to ask why we're getting the hell out of this frigid "paradise"?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Why Bend Chauvinism Sucks

No, this is not anywhere near Bend.
The other day, Tom DeWolf, who is a former mayor of Bend and Deschutes County commissioner, had this to say on Facebook in response to a National Geographic puff piece touting Bend as one of the top 25 ski towns in the world (that's right, not just the United States but the world):

"I've lived here for more than 3 decades, and still love the place for a variety of reasons. I'm just not so sure that we need to continue to receive the kind of attention we've received over the years that tends to contribute to false impressions and, perhaps, to the boom/bust cycles that are hard to go through..."

When I read that I wanted to jump up and cheer. In fact I did cheer a little bit, sedately.

Bendites are the worst chauvinists I have ever encountered
. They never tire of gushing about the marvelous beauty of their mountains, the incredible fishiness of their rivers and lakes, the cleanliness of their air and water and (ad nauseam) the healthiness of their "healthy outdoor lifestyle."

Not only is everything about Bend glorious, but the Bend chauvinist will insist it is more glorious than anything found anywhere else on the planet. For example, I can post a photo of a truly breathtaking Hawaiian sunset, such as the one at the top of this post, and three or four Bendites might say it's a nice picture. But let somebody post a photo of a rather routine sunset in Bend or Central Oregon, and they'll ooh and ahh and say things like "WOW!!!" and "AWESOME!!!" and "THAT's why we live here!"

Hey people, there are sunsets everywhere in the world. The sky turns pretty colors when the sun sinks beneath the horizon. It's a familiar phenomenon.

I've often thought I'd like Bend better if I wasn't constantly being told how wonderful it is. My father had a saying he'd lay on me when he thought I was bragging or acting conceited. "Self-praise stinks, son," he'd say. Folks in Bend apparently never heard it.

It's fine to like your hometown and say so, but when you keep loudly singing its praises over and over and over it gets downright sickening to those who have to listen to it. And as Mr. DeWolf hints, not only is Bend chauvinism tiresome to those who have to listen to it, but it can generate a dangerous level self-delusion that more than once has led to economic disaster.

Oops, almost forgot:

January Totals:

Comfortable Days: 0
Tolerable Days: 2
Cold Days: 29

YTD Totals:

Comfortable Days: 98
Tolerable Days: 59
Cold Days: 118

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Sheer Fucking GENIUS!

This is the most astute, and funniest, commentary on Bend's physical fitness obsession and physical fitness snobbery that I have ever seen:

Only in Bend, OR
by: resqswim

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Yesterday I saw this intriguing map posted on Facebook. It's a little hard to make out the details, but it depicts, county by county, the names Americans in different regions of the country give to soft drinks.

In the Northeast, as you can see, practically everybody uses the term "soda." In most of California and Arizona, people also say "soda." In the South people call all soft drinks "Coke," regardless of what brand they actually are. (This probably reflects the fact that Coca Cola originated in Georgia.)

And all across the Midwest and into Washington and Oregon, with the exception of two or three little pockets, people call soft drinks "pop."

What this suggests to me is that, culturally speaking, California and Arizona are linked to the Northeast, but the Pacific Northwest is an extension of the Midwest.

Which could account for a number of traits I've observed among Bendians and Oregonians in general, such as their fondness for bland food and bland entertainment (Midwesterners and Oregonians both think "A Prairie Home Companion" is just a laff riot) and their tendency to prize friendliness and "niceness" above all other qualities, especially intelligence and competence.

It also could account for Bendoids' ability to live in denial of the profound suckiness of their climate. For example, in this clip from the Coen brothers' wonderful movie "Fargo," Sheriff Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) has captured the murderer Gaear Grimsrud (Peter Stormare) and is driving him back to face justice. She gives him a lecture on The Important Things in Life, concluding with the remark: "And it's a beautiful day."

Well, no, it is NOT a beautiful day. It is a horrible, hideous, terrible day. It's overcast, foggy, and the temperature looks to be about 35 below zero. As sucktackular weather goes, this day is off the charts.

But yet Marge Gunderson insists it's a beautiful day.

How Midwestern. How Oregonian. How Bend.

Monday, January 30, 2012

How Bend Drivers Suck, Chapter LXVIII

Driving back from Whole Foods this morning, I came to a four-way stop. After stopping, I proceeded straight ahead through the intersection. A man stopped in the opposite lane of traffic had his turn signal on to make a left across the intersection.

When I didn't yield the right of way to him he frowned and shook his head. I've encountered a similar response m
any times, with drivers giving me the finger, blowing their horns, etc.

For your information, my fellow Bend drivers, THE CAR GOING STRAIGHT HAS THE RIGHT OF WAY over the car making a left turn across the intersection. I quote the Oregon Driver's Manual, Section 2:42: "When you make a left turn at an intersection or into an alley, private road, driveway, or any other place, you must yield the right of way to oncoming traffic until it is safe to turn."

Instead of flipping people off, I suggest you try to learn the basic rules of driving in your own state. Thank you for your attention.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

When Bend Darkles, It Really Suckles

One of my Facebook friends came up with a terrific word this morning: "darkle," a verb meaning "to grow dark, gloomy, etc."

According to, the verb is a "back formation" from "darkling," an adjective or adverb that dates back to the 15th Century. "Darkling" is probably most famously used in Matthew Arnold's 1867 poem "Dover Beach":

And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

"Darkle" is "a fantastic word to describe our weather," the Facebook friend said. It is indeed, with the skies gray and gloomy, the wind roaring and the rain (at times) coming down in torrents.

I liked "darkle" so much that it inspired me to coin another verb: "suckle," meaning "to grow incredibly and almost unendurably sucky, like Bend, Oregon in winter."

Based on my long experience, Bend's weather is likely to remain suckling into the middle of June.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Here's a Blog That Doesn't Suck

My friend and erstwhile colleague at the Source Weekly, Aaron Switzer, told me about a new (well, fairly new) and very entertaining blog called "Bound for Bend," described as "the true story of one east coast couple who rode off into the sunset, hoping for a better life in Central Oregon."

Shelby Little, the young woman who writes the blog, apparently comes from the South and is finding some aspects of life here a little hard to adapt to. In her most recent post, she writes about arriving in Redmond and discovering that the place smells like a giant litter box:

"We couldn’t figure out if the neighborhood had a stray cat problem or if they were breeding cougars in the open field behind our house. It was a thick, glandular smell, and I struggled to identify where it was coming from. Could I hose down the front yard and get rid of it? Did we run over something between here and Boise? Oh my god, my life can’t smell like this."

The locals eventually inform Shelby that what she's smelling is the scent of juniper, a hideous, scraggly tree that blankets the Central Oregon landscape: "Those incursive evergreens are everywhere; centuries old with their twisted trucks and scabby branches. They look as awful as they smell, and according to the Oregon Department of Forestry, they are reproducing like rabbits."

Even more fun, I think, is her take on how Central Oregonians dress -- or, more accurately, don't dress:

"Forget the advice my southern college education gave me on dressing up for job interviews, 'Always wear a suit. Always dress better than you have to.' When I plan an outfit for an interview in Central Oregon, I start with my most professional look, tone it down three notches, add something that clashes and remove all accessories except my wedding ring."

The dress code for Central Oregon males is even simpler: Wear jeans and a T-shirt. In winter, throw a hoodie on over the T-shirt.

The typical Central Oregon male only wears a coat and tie on two occasions in his life. One is his funeral, and I forget what the other one is.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Yes, It's Cold and It Sucks

A few years ago, on another (now defunct) blog, somebody told me that I was "not Bend material." After thanking him for the compliment, I told him he was absolutely right; I'd need to shave off about 80 IQ points to qualify as "Bend material."

But there's another way in which I don't make the cut: I fucking hate the cold. I don't find it bracing, invigorating, refreshing or any other absurd adjective that the idiots who claim they "love winter" apply. I just find it painful and miserable.

My friend and comrade in bloggery, Jack Elliott, tells me that one can compensate for the cold by bundling up in sweaters and coats. That's true -- but one's hands and feet and nose and ears are still out there in the open and freezing. Unless I'm going to spend all day curled up inside a Snuggie with mittens on my hands and a Balaclava on my head, cold weather means suffering.

Which is why I'm not real happy about seeing real cold weather finally arrive in Bend. Our incredible string of sunny days continues, but it's finally feeling, if not looking, like winter -- 23 degrees as I'm writing this.

The preceding month was unseasonably warm -- the thermometer hit 50 or above on 13 days -- but it looks like we've seen the last of the "comfortable" or "tolerable" days, temperature-wise, until the middle of May, if not later. And that sucks.

Monthly Totals:

Comfortable Days: 0
Tolerable Days: 0
Cold Days: 31

YTD Totals:

Comfortable Days: 98
Tolerable Days: 59
Cold Days: 89

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

BOO-yah! Oregon 45, Wisconsin 38!

Oregon's DeAnthony Thomas, "The Black Mamba," reels off a 91-yard touchdown run in yesterday's Rose Bowl.
 I may think Bend Sux, but I LOVES my University of Oregon Ducks!