Loving the Max

was just thinking about my commute since I’ve been riding regularly, and how much I enjoy my morning time on Portland’s light rail, the Max.

It’s really the only time of the day that I can count on to be my own time. I can read, write, get some work done, chat with strangers, or just stare blankly.

When I work, it’s without fear of interrupts, so that 30 minutes can be more productive than a whole day in the office. as far as production goes.

All this while I’m actually making progress towards a goal, which is getting to work.

And then when I ride home over the west hills, that beer tastes even better.

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Visiting Portland Guide: Crawl #1

Jeff at Beervana poses a question: what five beers are a connoisseur’s must-haves visiting Portland. I might have to tackle that, but really, Jeff is really on top of that in his post. I suggested a different route, a road trip around Mt. Hood. But I also threw in a crawl that I think is really worth sharing with your Portland visitors.

Begin at Rontom’s. If it’s nice out, enjoy the patio. If not, squeeze in and grab a pint. Next, move on to B-side, for a quick pint. Then, The Farm for dinner if you’re hungry. Eat light, because Noble Rot has great snacks too. Work off the meal with a light stroll up to Union Jack’s. You’ll need a few bucks for cover to this strip club. Then head up to Doug Fir and Voodoo Donuts to see how the hipper half live. Maybe there’ll be a great show downstairs. Finally, cruise up to Sandy Hut where they’ll be happy to pour you something potent while you wait for a cab.

Comfort – the end of a generation

Portland has been a Gen-X city for as long as I can remember. Which is as long as I’ve been here. We’ve had a lock on cuisine, fashion (?), transportation, attitude, periodicals, entertainment. Pretty much the whole shebang. Sort of a Gen-X wonderland. Don’t get me wrong, PDX is a city of variety and range, there’s a lot of of other stuff too for Y’s and boomers and everyone in between. But Portland has been the slacker capital.

But times are a-changing. The comfort food proliferation. It is taking over. If you want a successful restaurant, you’d better have something battered, fried, stuff with cheese, slathered in gravy, then fried again if you know what’s good for you. I do love some comfort food. Biscuits and gravy are probably my greatest weakness there, but a scotch egg comes in close. But that’s a chef’s salad hold the egg compared to some of the concoctions being delivered. Burgers with grilled cheese for buns. Poutine which is lightly battered deep fried potatoes smothered in gravy with cheese and other health food sprinkled on. Pasties and fried pies. It’s all delicious. But so wrong.

At first I thought that the comfort food revolution came about through the typical Portland Gen-X ironic thing. Oh we’ve been eating garden burgers and tofu and mediterranean food. But this stuff makes the arteries yearn for another slice of pepperoni again. And I don’t think it’s ironic. Jared can piss off, there’s a new sheriff in town, and he wants cream-filled all day long.

Is this poison oak?

I am terrible at identifying plants, yet at the same time I’m really susceptible to poison oak. For some reason, it is very difficult to find a decent image of the toxic weed. Guidebooks all have the same line drawing as can be found at trailheads. Pics on the internet are obscure and frequently hidden behind broken links.

So I found a plant I think might be poison oak. Can somebody please confirm?

Is this poison oak?
Is this poison oak?

thanks! I didn’t want to get any closer for fear of getting the aerial wrath of this f%*ker.

Oregon HB2641

Rob L of the Oregon Brew Crew posted this to our listserv in a conversation about a new beer tax proposed in Oregon. He makes a number of lucid points. And doesn’t just complain but proposes action.

Oregon HB2461 surprised me. Actually, at first it was shock, then
disbelief and anger. Now I’m ready to do something about it.

Jim P wrote:
> Cost of producing each keg (tax is production cost) would go up $25.
> Average distributor markup is 20-30 percent. Average pub markup is
> 300-350 percent. You get 100-120 pints per keg. You can do the math.

Not everyone finds it easy to do the math, so here goes:
$100 keg today, about $1/pint
$1.30/pint from wholesalers
$4.00/pint at a pub

After the punitive “death to local beer” tax (using same markups):
$125/keg, or $1.25/pint
$1.63/pint from wholesalers
$5.00/pint at a pub

All of a sudden, that “15 cents a bottle” sounds downright misleading, when realistically it is an extra $1 for your pint!

Yes, raising taxes will reduce access to beer for kids; in fact, that 25% price hike will reduce access to beer for many adults, as well. In fact, this is already an extremely challenging time for the brewing industry, and it would likely drive a significant number of local breweries and pubs out of business.

If the problem is insufficient money for particular services, instead of proposing these punitive taxes that would throw more people out of work during the 2nd biggest recession in 200 years, then from the $140 million in “alcohol taxes” already being levied, why is less than 6 percent going to substance abuse treatment and prevention? Why not simply amend the bill to fund those services from the taxes already collected for that purpose?

If the authors of this bill actually have the well-being of high school youths as their primary concern, then they should recognize that most of the industrialized world allows drinking at age 16 (or so), and those countries have lower incidences of alcohol and drug abuse. They should provide sources for their outlandish claims such as “half of the students in every 11th grade classroom in Oregon drink” (really–in the classroom? Heck, not even half my adult co-workers drink!). And where is the causality — the connection between “having a beer” and having a “chronic, relapsing brain disease”? Beer is the healthy alcohol beverage of moderation. It just doesn’t make sense.

It also doesn’t add up economically.

Breweries and wineries in Oregon are locally-managed, world-class, family-owned, high-employment, tourist-attracting businesses. If we want to cripple our local economy because some businesses make products which might be mis-used, why are we only taxing beer? Should we also be taxing the local wineries and micro-distilleries? Isn’t obesity a leading health concern — should we be taxing our cheese, fruit, and filbert industries out of existence, too?

No! Oregon is famous for these specialty products, often hand-crafted or grown by businesses which often operate on thin margins; yet these historic mainstays of our economy could too easily be closed by sudden, thoughtless, extreme government over-taxation like this. I want Oregon to be a place that we’re proud of, and when tourists from all over the world come to the “Oregon Brewers Festival” — drawing over 70,000 people — it seems like our internationally renown breweries must be doing something right; something to be encouraged, not penalized.

Forcing draconian economic neo-Prohibitionism on our local world-class breweries, with built-in yearly escalating penalties, is short-sighted and misguided for our kids, our economy, and the standing of Oregon in the eyes of the world.

I love good beer, I love to share good beer with friends, and I believe responsibly enjoying good beer should have a greater role in our society.

I love Portland in part because of great (amazingly delicious!) beer, good biking and hiking, good coffee, wonderful food, nice wineries, beautiful rivers, the mountain and ocean nearby. We have great public spaces like museums, music, theatre, lovely parks, bookstores, brewpubs, and coffee shops. The casual wonders of our city are reflected in the people — we are generally the most polite, friendly, nice bunch of folks you could find.

I want to keep and cherish these things. If this bill was about creating a 2000% coffee tax, or taxing bike and parks usage, or driving local bookstores out of business, I think a huge number of us would be angry about those things, too, because they are special to us.

So what are we going to do about it? Well, I’m going to:

1) Write my state senator and state representative.
http://www.leg.state.or.us/findlegsltr/

2) Encourage my friends to “speak up, if you don’t want beer taxes
to increase 2000 percent, about $1/pint, if HB2461 passes”.
I’ll offer to let them join me in taking action, too.

3) Volunteer for Zwickelmania on Saturday Feb 14th, to help
publicize this misguided government attempt to destroy
our local “good brewery” culture, and those good jobs.

4) Keep homebrewing, stay active in the Oregon Brew Crew, and keep
my ears open about other ways we can help prevent this disaster.

And finally, I’m going to relax and have a beer. A delicious local beer. Like none other in the world, brewed just a few miles from my house; at a brewery open for all to visit. And I’m going to smile, because I firmly believe that by working together, we are going to find a way to prevent a catastrophe like Oregon HB2461 from happening this year. And if we’re really, really smart we might even find a way to introduce legislation to prevent this ridiculousness from happening in the future, as well. And all that time, my friends and family, you and I, will have the pleasure of living in one of the best places on earth.

>> To Oregon’s fresh, local, delicious, healthy BEER! << Cheers and Prosit, Robert L

Note to self: organic brewfest

The North American Organic Brewers Festival is this weekend, beginning tomorrow at 3pm. I had a great time last year, but I generally go to these events early and leave early. This is one of my favorites.

I’m surprised that they picked this weekend since at least one of the organizers is a huge soccer fan and the Euro cup final is Sunday. His boys aren’t in it this time around, though Spain vs Germany should be a pretty awesome match. Both teams play to win.