Tag Archives: Portland

Push the button fool!

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Mr. T encourages pedestrians to do the right thing at 20th and Burnside in Portland.

New street art in Portland

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Given the solar panels on the top, we can only presume this is some sort of torch. There is a green one down the street, good times to come.

Famed Apocalypse Consultant sees wealth squandered as too little, too late as 12-21-2012 approaches

12/13/2012 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

On a rainy Thursday morning in Southeast Portland’s Bipartisan Cafe, we sit, slowing sipping our coffee with REM’s “The end of the world as we know it” playing softly in the background.  The clouds and rain match the mood of our companion, Dr. Roger Doomsday, the world’s leading Apocalypse consultant.  Dr. Doomsday, who has not even touched his mug since it arrived 10 minutes ago, stares quietly out the window at the traffic passing on SE Stark and only wonders what might have been.

After what seems like an hour, the famed Apocalypse Consultant breaks the silence,

“They just don’t get it,” he laments.

Flash back to 1999.  Dr. Doomsday, who had previously helped groups such as the Branch Davidians, the Peoples Temple, and the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God prepare for the coming Apocalypse, was riding a wave of hope.

“I did a great disservice to my early clients,” Doomsday says, in the first of many understatements he would utter.  “Back then, my advice was too practical, I thought ‘hey, if you don’t want to go through this thing and have a better place to go to, why wait around for the Apocalypse?'”

Unfortunately for those of the Peoples Temple, Doomsday’s advice had horrific consequences which led to the greatest loss of civilian life in the US prior to 9/11.

After freeing himself from a slew of civil and criminal charges related to the matter, with the help of a then relatively unknown lawyer named Johnny Cochran, he began to reconsider his methods.

“I thought, rather than telling people to evacuate the planet before the inevitable occurs, why not try riding it out in style?”  He then lets out what we interpreted to be both a chuckle and a sob, “I guess Koresh took my advice a little too far.”

After the Branch Davidian fiasco, in which Doomsday claims his only error was “not counting on the FEDs showing up,” which was understatement number two of the morning, according to our count, the resilient Doctor, with the encouragement of his well paid legal counsel, again changed his approach.

“I began to wonder if counseling people to heavily arm themselves and live as gluttons in far away retreats was the right thing to do, so I dropped the firearms stockpiling from my standard Apocalypse preparedness program in favor of a greater allocation of funds towards revelry.”

Fast forward to Uganda in 1999.  Again, on the advice of Dr. Doomsday, the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God throws an epic party as what they deemed the end of the world as they knew it was approaching.

Unfortunately, a fire breaks out, enacting a heavy death toll on the revelers.  Again, another one of Doomsday’s clients leaves a trail of shattered lives as time nonchalantly marched forward.

“What happened in Uganda was lamentable,” Doomsday explains, “but I felt I was finally getting it right, and my official recommendation never involved open fires.”  Somehow, we felt that he was strangely giving a sales pitch and a disclaimer to us all in the same phrase, like the advertisements you hear on the radio.

With his approach strangely validated, albeit in his own mind, Dr. Doomsday moved from specializing in consulting obscure religious sects to taking his approach, which he called “Party like its 1999,” until The Artist, formerly known as The Artist Formerly known as Prince, formerly known as Prince, successfully sued Doomsday for copyright infringement, to both large corporations and governments.

“While the Apocalypse is always just around the corner, I had an incredible stroke of luck when the Mayan prediction began to be widely disseminated.  With the year 2000 in the past and the Jewish Messiah’s arrival famously unpredictable, I needed something for people to latch onto, an end date they could all embrace.”

For the Apocalypse Consultant, the Mayan’s 12-21-2012 cryptic codex interpretations came like manna from heaven.

“What do they mean? No one can tell, but I can tell you what those native stone carvings and the wild imagination of the archaeologists who encountered them meant to me, about $1 billion, yes, billion in net fees over the past twelve years!” exclaimed the Dr. with more incredulity than joy in his voice.

For the past twelve years, Doomsday has travelled the globe helping both corporations and governments to squander what he estimates to be “Eight centuries of accumulated wealth” in just over a decade.

“Everybody wanted a plan, Citibank, JPMorgan, all the big banks, Cargill, GE, Xerox,” recalled Doomsday, “the Department of Defense even had something called Homeland Security created as a vehicle for passing wealth straight to the sewers of history.  GW himself came up with the name, said it reminded him of home cooking, or something like that.”

“Some took my recommendations too far, too soon,” continued Doomsday, “Enron, Tyco, and Bear Stearns got all excited and blew up early, that was always the danger, blowing through the resources before the Apocalypse arrived.”

“‘How much is enough?’ everyone wanted to know, so I said “you know your retirement calculator?  Just shift your life span to end on 12-21-2012,” he laughed, “worked like magic, and saved me a ton of accounting fees on the back-end!”

He now stares at the commuters passing down Stark on their way to work or school through the Bipartisan’s window as shakes his head.  “I can only wonder what might have been,” he says, with a tone of regret.

While he believes much wealth has already been squandered, he can only wonder what might have been had the corporations fully implemented his recommendations.  However, corporations, who seemed to eagerly embrace his ideas early, have been too slow to act.

Dr. Doomsday’s standard recommendations, which he calls “no-brainers” if the world is about to end, involved a number of disincentives for employees to work.

“Categorically, I told employers to slash benefits and freeze wages, something that many waited until a couple of years ago to do.  Still, many employees saw the writing on the wall and retired, while others, notably union workers, clung to their jobs in the face of deep cuts…I didn’t see that coming!”

The idea was that, with such a disincentive to work, employees would do the math, retire, cash in their 401Ks and party or otherwise spend irrationally with 12-21-2012 in sight.  Simple on paper, but in practice, Dr. Doomsday underestimated the influence of one key factor:  The influence of the Apocal-skeptic.

It turns out, not everyone believed that the world would end on 12-21-2012.  Even when presented with the temptation to spend an estimate 800 years of accumulated savings in just 12, some people just couldn’t take the bait.

“The Apocal-skeptics didn’t believe it.  What was so clearly carved in stone by people smarter than ourselves some 3,000 years ago somehow didn’t register with them as credible evidence.  Only now is my phone blowing up with calls asking how to fast track recommendations which were laid out to debauch the earth over a minimum of 7 years to be executed in a week.  I threw my phone in the Willamette last night…I can’t take it, we had a golden chance and we wasted it, or didn’t, as it were.”

His sorrow is now evident, as a tear streams down his unshaven face.

“I mean, Citi just now laid off 11,000 workers?  They barely have time to blow their 401Ks on unbridled debauchery.  This isn’t how it was supposed to go down.”

Staring back at the window, he cries, “and these people look like they’re going to work!” as he slams his fist on the table, causing the half awake patronage to look in his general direction

“The only ones who truly got it are the Western Governments.  I mean, in sheer numerical terms, they have hit the ball out of the park when it comes to squandering wealth,”  He continues, “the Governments were already squandering an impressive amount of capital, I just gave them a reason to go all the way.”

While Doomsday still thinks the Government overdid it on things like defense spending, education, and cleaning up the environment, activities he says have no place in an apocalyptic mindset, he can’t deny the numbers.

“While I would have preferred to see my program of night club and amusement park development fully implemented, on net, they (Western Governments) have been the most proactive in encouraging leisure, revelry, and the ‘eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die’ mindset that is they very core of my philosophy,” he pauses and shakes his head, “they’ve done their fair share, but the people have failed them.”

He blames the human tendency to plan for the future, a survival mechanism which, he admits, takes time to overcome, as well as the Fiscal Cliff, which he claims is a myth which is perpetuated by Apocal-skeptics in the US congress who have a vested interest in the status quo, for derailing many of his recommendations before they made it out of committee and into various spending packages.

“I admit,” continues Doomsday, “that parts of my program, such as converting ship yards to churn out cruise ships and one of my favorites, constructing fraternity and sorority houses, as well as subsidies for inflatable play structures, seemed a bit far-fetched even for those convinced that the Apocalypse was coming…but our differences were more about how to waste the money, not whether or not it should be wasted,” he sighs, helplessly, “now they are setting up rules for Obamacare!”

Obambacare is a sore subject for Dr. Doomsday.  It was the antithesis of what he deemed a proper Apocalyptic health care system.

“For goodness sake, all you needed were some ERs to mend the thrill seekers.  Primary and preventative care?  Vaccinations?  Treating people with pre-existing conditions?  What are we trying to do, make people think they’ll live forever?!?!?!?!”

He shakes his head in resignation that a once in a lifetime opportunity was lost.

“I did my part, I told people how to properly waste money, gave them an endless bucket list, and the framework for the common man and woman to live out their numbered days in pure, shameless debauchery.  I even led by example.”

{Editors note:  In his last statement, Doomsday is referring to his lifestyle which, up until his personal fortune was exhausted last week, made Hugh Hefner and most gangster rappers blush}.

As the rain falls, we take a look at our iPhone, suddenly, as the digital display ticks another minute towards 12-21-2012, we realized that Dr. Doomsday, like the famous Gambler who spoke with Kenny Rogers, had given us an ace that we could keep.

We quickly thanked Dr. Doomsday, though he doesn’t respond as he stares blankly out  onto Stark street, and bolt out the door, right past the thought of paying the tab.  We didn’t even bother to take his pulse as our internal clock turned up the volume as the seconds began to tick away with an eerie clarity in our mind.

We dialed our 401k provider as we run out the door of the cafe, barely noticed by those half awake on this dreary Portland morning.

“Yes, I need my account liquidated and the funds delivered to me in cash as soon as possible…I know there are fees associated…just do it, I will be by to pick it up within the hour.”

As we begin to dial airlines, the voice of reason screams out, barely audible above the ticking in our head, something along the lines of, “Stop!”

That would be the last we heard from him, as we call our family and friends and invite them to an all expenses paid party in paradise.

Songs referenced in this satire:

Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint

Email: davidminteconomics@gmail.com

Key Indicators for December 13 2012

Copper Price per Lb: $3.63
Oil Price per Barrel:  $86.33
Corn Price per Bushel:  $7.12
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  1.73%
FED Target Rate:  0.16%  ON AUTOPILOT, THE FED IS DEAD!
Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,697 THE GOLD RUSH IS ON!
MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  0.25%
Unemployment Rate:  7.7%
Inflation Rate (CPI):  0.1%
Dow Jones Industrial Average:  13,171
M1 Monetary Base:  $2,527,700,000,000 LOTS OF DOUGH ON THE STREET!
M2 Monetary Base:  $10,375,100,000,000

Pete’s Pest Control – Restoring one’s faith in humanity

4/26/2012 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

As we were cutting down a the tree in the back in the yard last week, we encountered Carpenter ants.  For the uninitiated, carpenter ants seem to thrive on moisture and wood.  Hence, Oregon, and more precisely, the Mint’s backyard, is paradise for this winged menace.

Our first reaction was that of indifference.  It was just another one of a zillion bugs which appear as the temperature begins to warm up here.

For those of you live have never had the pleasure of living in Oregon, we should clarify that living here is like living in two entirely different places depending upon the season.  Under the cover of rain, humans and animals alike go hibernation, taking with them lattes, iphones, ipads, kindles, androids, and the occasional paperback to while away the rainy months.

When the sun comes out, however, Scotty beams the entire Northwest to another planet.  One full of rich colors and light.  So many people and animals appear as if from nowhere that you hardly recognize supposedly familiar surroundings and landscapes.  It may be a hallucination owed to a temporary overload of vitamin D, but it sure feels real.

For a primer on spring in Oregon, take a quick gander at Kurosawa’s dream sequence:

As we pondered life as we know it during the intoxicating dream that is a warm, sunny, early spring day here, a faint memory came to us, like Obi Wan Kenobi’s hologram appearing to call on Luke Skywalker.

Ours was one of the home inspector mentioning something about prior carpenter ant activity in the house.

As we came to, we performed a quick internet search which confirmed our fears, the winged beasts we had encountered were indeed carpenter ants, and they had their sights on the Mint’s humble abode as a summer home.

From the looks of things, they were inviting the entire clan to join them.

It was clear that swift and decisive action must be taken to eradicate these guests.  Beside termites, there is no greater enemy of a wooden house than the carpenter ant.

We considered doing it ourselves.  However, after narrowly winning a pitched battle with mice over the winter, we decided that DIY pest control is more trouble than it’s worth.  The only question was, on whom shall I call?

As a sales prospect, we were ripe.  We wanted the whole nine yards, nuke the carpenter ants, take out the sugar ants as collateral damage, seal off the entrances and exits and take no prisoners.

And while we are at it, let’s teach the mice a lesson.  We had illusions of our house being a sterile environment, free from the forced cohabitation practiced by insects.

After contacting a number of local pest control agencies, it became clear that we were in for more than we bargained for.  The exterminator was to be our companion for life, making a courtesy visit every three months to spray the perimeter and send a bill.

It seemed a high price to pay, yet worth the piece of mind.  We were gathering bids and checking reviews.  We had three companies coming out to bid and two more in the wings when we came across Pete’s Pest Control.

As you can see here, the guy has a ton of rave reviews and not one negative comment.  This is extremely rare in the exterminator business, for obvious reasons. While a number of comments got our attention, we knew that Pete would be the one to get us out of this jamb when we saw this five word phrase in one of them:

“Pete is the ant whisperer.”

We picked up the phone immediately.

Pete:  “Pete’s Pest Control, this is Pete…”

The Mint:  “Hi, we have some carpenter ants which I need taken out.  While we are at it, I need an ongoing service to take care of some sugar ants, mice, etc…”

Pete: “You don’t need a contract, you need to get rid of the carpenter ants.  We can do that.”

The Mint: “Yeah, but we were thinking of having a year round protection…”

Pete:  “We will get rid of the carpenters ants and come back until they are gone if it is necessary, and it will not be.  We have a one year warranty.”

The Mint:  “But what about the ongoing service contract…”

Pete:  “If you really do not want to see another bug around your house or garden, ever, we can talk about that, for now, we just need to annihilate the carpenter ants.”

The Mint:  “OK, when can you be here?”

We set the appointment and hung up, thoroughly impressed.  The rest of the companies had tied a service contract to the initial service or strongly recommended one.

Our first impression of Pete was that he is extremely efficient and that he knows what he is doing.  Impressed by the phone conversation, we promptly cancelled the appointments for estimates.  Comfortable that we had the #1 pest mercenary on the case.

When Pete arrived, he went straight to work and gave us the assignment to clear access to the interior where he would be working and inspecting.  We cleared the access points as he roamed and sprayed the perimeter.

“Aha!” we heard outside.  We went out and Pete had identified the ant’s access point into the house.  Like a General who had arrived at the field of battle a day before the opposing army, Pete sprayed the access points on the house as well as the base of the tree and phone line.

He then accurately predicted that it would rain in five minutes, and that the terminex that he had sprayed would be dry before it came.

He was correct on both counts, and we had to smile as he reported “this is a good scenario.”

Once the carpenter ant threat had been neutralized, he went after the sugar ants.  Then things got really impressive.

We had opened some small access points upstairs into the attic.  They were small and Pete is tall, so we said, “are you sure you can get in there?”

Pete fired back:  “I can detect 17% humidity by smell”

He then reported that we did not have the conditions upstairs to sustain insect life and that it was not a concern.

We then showed him the crawlspace, the scene of the battle with the mice.  He could smell the activity and recommended that we stock up on the decon before they took it off the shelf.  It seems that soon only licensed pest control professionals will be able to purchase it.  A great tip.

He then proceeded to the garage to show us the only place, under a side door, where the mice could enter.

“You seal that, you solve your mice problem once and for all.”

The entire experience restored any faith that we may have lost in humanity.  Pete is the most efficient and competent professional that we have met in the Northwest, in any profession.

Even if you do not have a pest problem we recommend that you schedule a service with Pete anyway.  Being the competent professional that he is, he will try to talk you out of it.  However, if you want a lesson in world class customer service, insist that he come and watch him work.  You will be amazed.

As for us, we said goodbye to Pete by letting him know that we would call if we saw anything.

“You won’t,” said Pete, decisively “we got ’em.”

We were sad to see him go.

Thanks Pete!  The Mint tips its hat and raises a glass to you.  May we all strive to achieve the excellence which you have shown us today.

Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint

Email: davidminteconomics@gmail.com

Key Indicators for April 26, 2012

Copper Price per Lb: $3.80

Oil Price per Barrel:  $103.95

Corn Price per Bushel:  $6.24

10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  1.95%

FED Target Rate:  0.15%  ON AUTOPILOT, THE FED IS DEAD!

Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,657

MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  0.25% AWAY WE GO!

Unemployment Rate:  8.2%

Inflation Rate (CPI):  0.3%

Dow Jones Industrial Average: 13,204

M1 Monetary Base:  $2,210,700,000,000

M2 Monetary Base:  $9,970,100,000,000

Buskers Flourish as Spring Approaches in Portland

Strolling down the street in Downtown Portland, one is as likely to encounter a busker as they are a plea to support a generically named non-profit group by an aspiring model.  At times these encounters seem to take place on nearly every corner.  Their presence is a reminder that the City is alive, and that there is more to life than hurriedly shuffling along from one appointment to the next.

Portland’s buskers come in every shape and size and those who perform music play a great variety of instruments and an even greater variety of musical styles and genres.  As spring approaches and weather becomes less of a barrier, the City is blessed by the increased presence of bucket tinged dance beats and sidewalk serenades.

According to the Willamette Week, a recent forum was held to explore possible changes in Portland’s Street Musicians and Performers Partnership Agreement.  While there was apparently a lively debate, it appears that there will be no changes to the current agreement.  While not perfect, the agreement appears to acknowledge the concerns of and offer remedies to all parties involved, whether willingly or otherwise, in a busker musical performance.

Buskers Negotiate for Prime Locations in Downtown Portland

Busking has its origins in antiquity and in many cultures is alternately enjoyed or tolerated, depending upon the quality of the performance, as a part of urban life.  While some cities have attempted to regulate busking via the use of permits and performance scheduling, Portland busking’s current self regulation is for the most part acknowledged in the Agreement.

Permits, scheduling, and agreements aside, a majority of busking takes place within the bounds of what can best be described as an unspoken busker code of conduct involving numerous tacit and express agreements amongst the buskers, local shop owners, and inhabitants.

How well will this unspoken code of conduct hold up in Portland this summer?  With an increasing amount of buskers performing and a majority of them unaware of the Portland Agreement, there are bound to be disagreements.  Asking a busker to keep his melodies with 100 feet of his person is like asking the wind to blow at a set speed.  A limited number of prime performance spots in the City makes competition for those spots increasingly intense.

To the credit of buskers everywhere, they have always found a way to resolve these inherent conflicts and at times even work in harmony to provide Portland with an abundance of music in the air.  So the next time you see a busker, show your appreciation by stopping and, if you are able, tip them something for their trouble.  By doing so you are supporting the arts in their purest form, whatever that form may be.

Occupy Portland: Widespread Discontent meets Acceptance in Portland

On October 6th, Portland joined other US cities by kicking off its own version of the increasingly popular Occupy Wall Street protests with approximately 5,000 people amassing at Tom McCall Waterfront Park where SW Ankeny meets Naito Parkway.  While no specific manifesto has come forth, the group generally comes across as unified against corporate greed and corruption.

Approaching Occupy Portland’s ground zero, it became apparent that the perhaps the only thing that unified this loose coalition of protesters was a general feeling of discontent.  It was equally apparent that general discontent can be a powerful unifying force, and that as the marches and occupation got underway, the protesters found in one another the camaraderie that is inherent in common struggle and sacrifice.

Amongst the many and varied grievances that could be observed by reading the protesters’ signs, flags, and slogans, were:  support for the cause of the Palestinians, pleas to tax the rich, outrage against corporate greed, and long-suffering environmental concerns.   While these grievances have been longstanding for certain sectors of the population, what was most striking was the breadth of demographic and socio-economic makeup of those gathering to launch Occupy Portland.

Protesters of all Stripes Gathering to kick off Occupy Portland on Thursday, October 6th 2011

 

While students resembling John Lennon and Guy Fawkes masks tended to stand out in the crowd, the presence of veterans, college students, retirees, and stay at home mothers spoke to the wide ranging discontent that has gripped Americans who are increasingly identifying themselves as the “other 99%” in sharp contrast to the top 1%, the label that has come to represent the wealthy and corporate interests.

As the exuberance of the protesters grew and their numbers at Waterfront Park began to swell, a few blocks away, up Burnside and 5th, the mood was quite different.

Despite assurances by both the protesters and Portland Mayor Sam Adams that the protests would be peaceful, financial and governmental institutions, which imagined themselves in the path of the unannounced route of the march, were taking precautions.  Banks planned to lock their doors and the increased Police and private security presence in the neighborhood was conspicuous.

There were rumors of Anarchists from Eugene coming to cause trouble.  Adding to this perceived threat was the uncertainty of the effects on transportation in the downtown core.  Needless to say, on this autumn day, Portland did not feel like the relaxed City in which we dwell.

Thankfully, these fears were unfounded.  Both Protesters and Police are to be commended for tacitly working together to maintain the peace and dignity of the protest.  Mayor Adams went as far as to waive the City’s no camping ordinance so that protesters could pitch their tents and stay the night.

Whatever the outcome, it is refreshing to see that Occupy Portland is helping so many people to find their voice and the City of Portland, true to form, welcoming them with open arms.

Reflections on the Stump on the Park Blocks

The other day, as we strolled down the Park Blocks between NW Flanders and Glisan, we came upon a stump.  Trees in this part of the Northwest are not uncommon.  Neither are stumps, for that matter.  Yet this was no ordinary stump; it was a large, low cut stump which bore a striking resemblance to Gondwanaland.

What was also striking about this stump was its location.  The Northwest Park Blocks, stretching from Burnside to NW Hoyt street along 8th Ave, are home to a great many oversized trees.  The trees stand, lining the blocks like a royal guard creating a corridor for kings and queens to pass.  The kings and queens of Portland’s NW Park Blocks represent all ages and walks of life.

The Stump: Evoking memories of Gondwanaland

These grand trees have observed and endured many a changes in their surroundings as Portland the frontier town has grown into the pleasant city which we now enjoy.  The trees, circa 2011, enjoy the delight of children racing through the playground, the musings of men and women as they commune on the many benches lining the blocks, and the gentle, respectful pace of both car and bicycle as they quietly traverse the paved portion of the blocks.

The trees serve as a constant reminder to the contemplative passerby that our noble lives are but a whisper on the winds of time.  Much of what one does will be forgotten, and in an age where information is abundant but wisdom is in short supply, the trees offer a humble reminder that in order to stand tall, one needs roots which run deep and branches which extend to embrace.

This day, amongst the grandeur and wisdom which the trees continuously display, the stump served as a reminder that even the grandest of trees can be laid low on a temporal whim.  There is nothing to gain by lamenting its passing.  Rather, as with all loss, we must take the opportunity to pause and reflect on our daily actions.  Perhaps the stump’s resemblance of Gondwanaland is not an accident, for it offers a glimpse of the eternal time in which everything around us yearns to live.