Posted by: bkivey | 21 June 2014

Lowered Expectations

From the 21 May issue of the Portland Mercury:

MAKE WAY FOR THE MONEYRE: “COPP Out” [News, April 23], regarding a new charging policy that criminalizes camping on public land as well as targeting other quality-of-life behaviors.

DEARMERCURY—For many people without houses, camping is not an option. It is a basic act of survival. Issuing warnings to people for urinating and drinking in public is to elevate those activities to a privilege status, to be enjoyed only by those with the economic privilege of a house or apartment. Removing individuals for repeat offenses of such acts seems part of a gentrification attempt to drive away Portlanders who do not fit the image of the desired landscape. The new set of rules is another way to make the downtown area a haven for the wealthier residents of Portland.

Cathleen McCormick

First, kudos to Ms. McCormick for using what I’m assuming is her real name.

Does she even listen to what she’s saying? Incoherence, thy name is Cathleen. Not by any reasonable permutation of logic can I think of a way to equate urinating in public with economic privilege. Providing the necessities of life for oneself is a minimum expectation of civilized society. Even if one is temporarily unhoused through no choice of their own, not fouling the community nest is a rock-bottom standard. I’m fairly certain Ms. McCormick wouldn’t want people urinating on her floor; why does she think others should be more accepting of those who defile public spaces?

In downtown Portland there are a number of public bathrooms available 24/7, including City Hall. There are several other restrooms publicly available during operating hours, such as the library, parks, and Portland State University buildings. It seems reasonable that anyone with a minimum of self-respect would learn where these places are, especially if they didn’t have any other options.

By Ms. McCormick’s ‘reasoning’, I should be free to urinate in public, as I am economically ‘privileged’ enough to pay for my housing. But housing oneself isn’t a privilege, it’s a necessity. And in a functional society, a requirement.

So no, Ms. McCormick, I don’t want to live in a place where people are free to urinate on the sidewalk. That doesn’t make be bigoted, it makes me human.

It’s Here!

The summer solstice has arrived, and we’ll enjoy nearly 17 hours of daylight. It’s a happy occasion, as by this time of year summer weather has usually taken hold. Folks in Seattle will have to wait a couple more weeks. If you live in Florida, it’s likely been summer since April. In Honolulu, it’s pretty much always Summer, although there is a cooler version in the Winter.

There’s a bit of a melancholy note, because starting tomorrow the days will be getting shorter. We’ll lose 4 seconds on 22 June, and continue losing daylight until 21 December, when we’ll have just about 9 hours of daylight.

Except for our 5-year snowstorm in February, we’ve had a mild Winter, so Summer isn’t quite the joyous occasion it usually is. Still, I didn’t get to do anything last Summer. I’ll be looking to rectify that this year.

World Cup

It’s also time for the quadrennial kickball fest, also known as World Cup. Although I played city league for three years, I’m not a huge soccer fan. I follow the Timbers and the Thorns, but otherwise am fairly indifferent.

I don’t have any interest in the teams outside the US, but I’ll watch games when I can. No matter the activity, it’s always worth watching the best in the world. I’ve enjoyed the games I’ve seen, especially when one or both sides is facing elimination. Those games provide eye-popping action and a level of soccer not commonly seen in the US.

And is it just me, or is the World Cup logo featuring three hands, in a sport that generally bans the use of hands, somewhat ironic?

Interesting People

I was at my favorite fish house Friday getting something to eat and watching World Cup (adios, Honduras) when an older gentleman engaged me in conversation. We talked about the LPGA and the World Cup on the TV’s, then about sports in Portland. He talked about his son taking him on an upcoming fishing trip to Grand Cayman, and from there we talked about the Caribbean islands.

He asked me if I was retired (it was mid-afternoon on a weekday); I laughed and told him I wasn’t that old or well off. I asked about him, and things got interesting.

He told me that he’d retired from a career selling process piping for steam plants, and prior to that he’d spent 13 years in retail. He left that occupation when he came home one day and his wife told him that she’d registered their son for kindergarten. His response that their son was a baby was met by the reply “He’s five years old”. The man quit his job the next day.

I asked him how he got into selling process piping, and he said he’d served as an engineer in the Merchant Marine during Vietnam. At this point I realized that this man’s life was more interesting than the game, so I started watching less of it and listening more to him.

His job was to take WWII Liberty ships out of the mothball fleet, ready them for service (in 30 days!), load them up with ammunition, and sail them to Vietnam. It was, according to him, the most money he’d ever made.

That’s saying something, as he put his son through four years of college, three years of law school, and and then bought him a partnership in a law firm.

He was, it seemed, a decent and honorable man, who’d provided for his family and been successful in at least three careers.

And now his son was taking him fishing in Grand Cayman.

I hope he catches a whopper.


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