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.