Wednesday, September 17, 2014

"People move to Portland to move to Portland."

So true.

Portland is a lifestyle.  Read this.  (Or just move here and retire, as Fred and Carrie explain.)

most awesome illustration by Kelsey Dake

A bad interaction with Portland Police.

Folks, you know that I have frequently had good things to say about Portland Police in my interactions.  Tonight, this all changed.

Tonight, while walking the dog next to the Bud Clark Commons, a Portland Police officer stopped me by saying, "Excuse me sir, can I talk to you?  Does your dog have a license?"

I won't answer the question he asked for the moment, but this is what I did.  As I turned away from him, I told him,"Sorry but I'm not going to answer the question and I'm going to walk away."

Immediately he asked me to stop, "Sir, please stop."

I turned back and asked, "Is it illegal for me to walk away?"

He said, "Yes".

So I turned around and walked back to him.  He then asked me why I was trying to evade him, to which I responded that I didn't think I had to answer his question -- after all, here I am minding my own business and not showing any outward signs of suspicious behavior.

He then informed me that they were giving away free dog licenses, so I laughed and said, "Okay, that's fine."  And then it got weird.

Suddenly his facial expression changed and he escalated.  He began asking me rhetorical questions about why I didn't want to talk to him.  His belligerence was rising as his voice got louder.

With his voice raised asking probing questions, three other officers who were standing 15 feet away, suddenly walked closer to us and stood about 5 feet apart from us.  (Gee, you don't think I know this psychological tactic?)

He then asked me a rhetorical question that was obviously meant to be a threat, "Do you want me to take your dog away because he doesn't have rabies tags?"

Wow, in just about a minute he escalated from 1 to 7, suggesting that he would take my dog away!  Oh, I recognized the sign immediately, that he thought that he had the upper hand and would use verbal threats to get me to comply or find some other violation.

But here's the thing: He took an enormous risk, on behalf of the police force, escalating, under the assumption that he had the upper hand, or that I would take the bite.  I was shocked that he was rapidly inflating the situation.

If I were 15 years younger, I probably would have taken his cue and escalated with him, but being the wiser, and knowing that he could make life a lot more difficult by exercising poor judgment, I refused to escalate, keeping my voice at a normal level and asking him open questions about what was going on and why he was escalating things.

Perhaps it was my question over his escalation, or he realized that he lost control of the situation.  His tone, though still obviously angry, suddenly changed as he explained that he was, in effect, too upset to continue talking to me, so that he was handing me off to the county officer -- a bit curious, blaming me for his escalation, when I spoke calmly to him without raising my voice or insulting him, the entire conversation.

Let me tell you, talking to this petite female county officer was a completely opposite interaction.  I had a feeling that she was uncomfortable with his approach, and told her that I was glad to be talking to her instead of the Portland Police officer who was escalating things.  It wasn't a good-cop / bad-cop routine at all.  She was extremely helpful and offered me some tips -- one of which I stopped her because I didn't want her to get into trouble.

I did make a psychological poke at the Portland Police officer.  While talking to the county officer, I asked her if it was okay that we talked further away from the officer.  We walked about 10~15 feet away so that they couldn't listen in, and we were laughing and smiling -- out of the corner of my eye I could see that they were watching us.  In the end, I got a temporary tag and I reached my hand out to shake her hand with smiles on both our faces.  I wasn't being disingenuous, but I was trying to make sure that we were having a great conversation between two adults who understood each other, so that the officer could think long about how this interaction contrasted to his one with me.

I continued on my walk, but then thought to come around to get the officer's name.  By the time I had come back -- some 40 minutes later -- they were gone.

Finally, to answer the question about my dog's tags.  Well, based on the Fifth Amendment refusal to respond, the answer is now post-hoc (that you cannot presume that my answer was proof in itself that the original suspicion was correct): No, I did not have tags.

He wanted me to offer a confession to which I politely refused to answer the question.  His two minute-long attempt to escalate is disconcerting.

What he should have said was, "Well sir, you're putting me into a situation where neither of us probably want to see, where I would have to seize your pet and have you show proof to a judge that your pet has tags."

That's a lot easier to comply with than, "Do you want me to take your dog away because he doesn't have rabies tags?"

Don't make me your enemy.

Instead, I leave you with this photo three blocks away from where this interaction took place, of a Portland Police Officer's vehicle illegally blocking a garage door and partially parked on the sidewalk no less.  The block was mostly wide open to park (see the spaces just in front of the second garage door), but this officer was stopped in front of a garage door.  Could this have been an emergency? -- I don't see how, since the only other officer vehicle was an unmarked car behind, properly parked, not anywhere near the entrance of any building.

What a night, huh?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Global climate change: Are you smarter than five Popes put together?

This Sunday, September 21, people will be marching around the world (including here in Portland), set to coincide with the big one in NYC, on the eve of a summit on climate change at the UN.  To wit, my small contribution to this effort is a compilation of quotes from the last five Popes, on the issue of the environment.

Are you smarter than five Popes put together?

  • Pope Paul VI -- “Man is suddenly becoming aware that by an ill-considered exploitation of nature he risks destroying it and becoming in his turn the victim of this degradation.”  May 1971
  • Pope John Paul I -- “The danger for modern man is that he would reduce the earth to a desert, the person to an automaton, brotherly love to a planned collectivization, often introducing death where God wishes life.” August 1978
  • Pope John Paul II -- “We cannot interfere in one area of the ecosystem without paying due attention both to the consequences of such interference in other areas and to the well being of future generations.” January 1990
  • Pope Benedict XVI -- “In fact, it is obvious by now that there will be no good future for humanity on earth unless we teach everyone a lifestyle that is more responsible towards creation.” November 2011
  • Pope Francis -- “People occasionally forgive, but nature never does. If we don’t take care of the environment, there’s no way of getting around it.” April 2013

Feel free to copy and paste and use profusely by any means.

Monday, September 15, 2014

10 Thoughts for September 15, 2014

  1. Have you watched Fox's Utopia, a sort-of-reality-but-not-real-at-all show?  It's mildly interesting, but the most amusing part of the show is the narrator.  Do you know who he is?  Dan Piraro, the illustrator of the comic strip Bizarro.  Awesome.
  2. The not-so-odd thing about the coalition against ISIS: No one wants to contribute ground troops but everyone is willing to contribute planes.  Right about now, I bet the US military wishes that it had those humanoid drones ready to go.
  3. IKEA Portland's restaurant has a few interesting things this month, but the most enticing offer has to be the bistro's lemon froyo.  For reference, everyone else in the country is directed to this page, while Portland has its own, special page.  Hint: Portland now has weekday specials.  Thursday's chicken dinner looks tasty, doesn't it?  Monday mornings now have free breakfast, too.  PDX IKEA is the best, isn't it?
  4. So, it seems like everyone blew it this weekend.  Seattle's defense at San Diego wasn't good enough to stop the Chargers, and the offense had three series of four plays or less, each with negative yards.  That sure looked a lot like USC's offense and defense on Saturday.  Worst weekend in sports, ever.
  5. By the way, the flaws in USC's performance against BC were so obvious, you could read any publication covering it and you'd come away with the same understanding.
  6. Okay well, it wasn't a complete loss this weekend...the 49ers did lose in their first regular season game in their new stadium, so Seattle is even with them.
  7. Never name your dog "Butternut".  Why?  Three syllables always gets shortened to two syllables: Buttnut, Butters.  Everyone knows who Butters is.
  8. Wait, didn't everyone including Tim Cook tell us that Apple's accounts were safe?  Well, the folks at Wired don't seem to think so: "Scummy forums devoted to hacked nudes like Anon-IB made clear that Apple’s security weaknesses were still being exploited."  Here's my favorite: "Cook’s promised changes sound like band-aids, not fundamental fixes."
  9. iPhone preorders breaks record...turns out, Apple fanboys really did want larger screens after all.  Samsung enjoyed mocking Apple's leadership.
  10. With rising oceans -- documented around the world -- expected to speed up, would you pay 4x more to live on the waterfront, in Hawai'i?  I wouldn't ever live on the waterfront, even if you paid me to.  I will gladly live on a short hill overlooking the beach, a half-mile inland.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

10 Thoughts for September 13, 2014

At peak
  1. Awesome animated series: Rick and Morty.  Binge-watched and enjoyed, using Chromecast, of course.  Hilarious stuff!  Don't miss out at the end of each show following the credits.  Soooo good.
  2. Nope, the Aurora Borealis did not dip down to Oregon.  I was watching the tracking online and it peaked hours before it got dark in Oregon.  The best, strongest and most spectacular light show in years, was over Europe.  By the time the optimal period - directly opposite of the sun -- hit Oregon, the hot spot had died down, sadly.  I didn't even bother to drive anywhere because it had dissipated by sunset.  It's all a matter of (poor) timing.
  3. Since we -- in the US -- didn't get to see it, here's the NOAA Aurora Spotters Flickr page of some images of the spectacular light show from Europe.
  4. ESPN is still trying to milk the Pat Haden incident for all it's worth, and at this point they're just dragging themselves through the mud.  Ed Cunningham actually compared Arkansas AD Jeff Long's feet-dragging on firing Bobby Petrino (following Petrino's motorcycle accident which revealed his mistress -- another coach at Arkansas), to Pat Haden's actions.  That's below pathetic.
  5. USC forgot to board the plane to Massachusetts, and so the school decided to use a bunch of JV footballers to play against Boston College, I think.  Just when you thought it was okay to go outside with your USC shirt...the team lays a rotten egg.
  6. I got my Zyxel NAS box on Friday, and I have to say that I'm a little disappointed that the box is plastic.  I guess I got spoiled by the aluminum form factor of my external drives from Fantom.  I haven't yet bought hard drives to fill it up, though; I'm keeping track of 5TB drive prices.
  7. Recently watched "Return of Sabata" starring Lee Van Cleef.  Like Quentin Tarantino, I adore spaghetti westerns and samurai flicks.  I own every Clint Eastwood classic.  Anyway, I mention Return of Sabata because it includes actress Annabella Incontrera, who I think is very attractive.  There's an innocence and vulnerability in her face that I like.
  8. Speaking of spaghetti westerns, did you know what most of them were Italian and usually filmed in Spain and Italy, including famous Sergio Leone's trilogy with Clint Eastwood (A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly).  In Italy they were filmed at Cinecittà Studios, a world-famous location with full-size sets of ancient Rome.  I know, right?  Such arcane knowledge.
  9. Best -- free -- sketching app for Android / iPad?  It's a tossup between Autodesk's Sketchbook Express and Wacom's Bamboo Paper.  Bamboo Paper succeeds in its simplicity, but the Android app lacks the colors and tools available for iOS.  Sketchbook Express is a solid tool with lots of controls, but those controls tend to get in the way of drawing.
  10. Still playing Line Ninja Strikers.  Still can't seem to get a single 6-star ninja despite using up 90 gems collected from completing several quests.  I've got 15 5-star ninjas, if you can imagine.  My highest score -- 800K -- and I could see everyone below me had at least one 6-star ninja.  With even a single 6-star ninja, I bet I would make everyone else look silly.  Give me two 6-star ninjas and I'd completely dominate.  Oh, but wait, Line wants people to spend money on in-app purchases -- of course they won't let me get a 6-star ninja!  Nothing worse than someone who hasn't spent a dime on their app, to beat out thousands of others who have spent $20+ to get their 6-star ninjas.  But don't worry because I'll get there, and when I do, I will destroy everyone in my wake while letting out a Dr. Evil laugh.

BC and USC beat USC.

What the hell was that?  

The last time USC looked this unprepared and mentally out of the game was the 2012 Sun Bowl.  USC Trojans laid so many rotten eggs at Boston College, it'll take at least two weeks to air out the stink (thank goodness for the bye week).

Missing persons report: USC defense.

If this is the way Justin Wilcox's defense is going to perform against the hurry-up spread offense, this team is not going to go bowling.  On several occasions two tacklers would target one player in the option game, which of course left the other option player completely free.  On other occasions the defensive end would lose contain on the backside, leaving a reverse or a cut back wide open.  Playing against Arizona and UCLA, the Trojans would be blown out.

It's not entirely the defense's fault, though.

Everywhere around the team, they were piling up mental error after mental error.  False starts, holding, linemen down field before a pass, wide open passes dropped and overthrown.  Cody Kessler looked like he regressed back to 2013, holding onto the ball like he was the Statue of Liberty, leading to a sack -- gone was the silent 3 second count.  There were missed blocks by wide receivers, missed blocks by the tailback, and missed blocking assignments by the linesmen.  We actually saw a kick returner nearly forget to grab the football -- a live ball -- rolling around in the end zone, and down it.  WTF?

And let's stop running backwards.  I didn't think this required stating, but when you've got the first down, you don't run backwards and lose the first down; you fall forward.  Repeat after me: F-O-R-W-A-R-D not backward.

And I don't get why a coach would call a run play, down by two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.  So what if you catch the defense off guard -- they're keeping the plays in front of them so that they can slow down the game.  A total of 20 yards on the ground, dude, and you want to go to the run game late in the fourth quarter down by two scores?  Really?

It's not the end of the world.  Yet.

It's not the end of the world or the season, and thank goodness this wasn't a conference game.  Even Pete Carroll's teams would lay a rotten one every once in a while, so maybe this is one of those rotten eggs?

But geez, you've got to wonder if they're regressing.  The team's best showing was against Fresno State; the worst was against BC.  Maybe BC is a top-10 team?  I doubt it.  And if they're not, then we should be worried about where USC is headed.  How USC performs against Oregon State in two weeks will tell us a lot, especially coming off a bye week.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

10 Thoughts for September 11, 2014

  1. It's 9/11.
  2. A cluster of very large solar flares have occurred the last several days.  Right now the prediction shows that for the next several nights, the visible edge will between Seattle and Portland, but that might dip lower by Friday night because of the confluence of a pair of flares.  We'll see.
  3. By the way, if you're an Apple fanboy, by all means, get the iPhone 6+.  For the first time you'll be able to rotate your screen.  Comes in handy when you're reading certain things.  And, the more of you there are out there with NFC devices, the faster mobile payments will become widespread, benefiting the rest of us.
  4. Ray Rice should have been banned indefinitely, months ago.  The NFL didn't need to see the second video, to know that Rice had knocked unconscious another human being.  If he had viciously cold-cocked a stranger, he'd be in jail and banned from the NFL.
  5. Survela updated its database with the latest gmail address leaks.  I'm still good, except of course the Adobe breach, but I've long since dealt with that.
  6. Don't be surprised if Portland State goes into Pullman and beats Washington State.  The Cougars are one-dimensional on offense with a meager 44 rushing yards in two games.  Meanwhile, PSU sports a 3-star (low on stars probably because he's 5'-7" with 4.5 speed) senior running back from Junipero Serra High School whose former teammates included George Farmer and Marqise Lee.  
  7. I happened to be online and working on stuff, when the Oscar Pistorius verdict was being read.  There are some things you wouldn't know if you watch the news. For one, it took several hours for the reading of the verdict, with multiple breaks in-between, including lunch, and she's still not done, at least insofar that she has yet to render her punishment.  Also, the judge was amazing.  She took great pains to break down each and every argument from both sides, rendering her judgment of the validity and pertinence of every single piece of information placed into the court room.  It didn't take much to figure out where she was going early on, though, because she kept pointing to the prosecution's misalignment of facts to the time line, making their case of murder implausible and improbable.
  8. Speaking of gun accidents, you can't have gun accidents in schools, if you don't have guns in schools.
  9. Cats and dogs cooperating.  Just not my dog.
  10. Apparently I was wrong...Republicans DO WANT US BOOTS ON THE GROUND IN SYRIA.  I find this perplexing, because 18 months ago flip-flop John McCain said, "The worst thing we could do is put boots on the ground [in Syria]", with many other GOP going so far as to state that they did not want air strikes in Syria -- this mind you, coming before they began complaining this past week that Obama hadn't done enough.  What a bunch of clowns!