A Combination of Flaws

NOTE: Just to be clear, most of the retaliations I talk about below are things I wouldn’t actually do. I daydream of extravagant, semi-violent reactions all the time, but I rarely commit them in reality. I’m not an arsonist, and unlike most people, I typically think everything through and consider the effect something might have on those around me before I proceed. So I’d appreciate your understanding in this. Thank you.

I’m A Human Contradiction

I couldn’t resist responding to today’s Daily Prompt. Restraining myself publicly has become a huge part of my personality, to the detriment of my mental health, but it goes beyond that. I have a lot of anger, and I direct it indiscriminately, but even though I understand how unhealthy it is to bottle up emotions it seems I do that all the time, at least when strangers are involved. Anyway, before I get any further into this, here’s the topic of the day:

Today’s Daily Prompt is:

Break the Silence When was the last time you really wanted (or needed) to say something, but kept quiet? Write a post about what you should’ve said.

 

Calm on the Outside, Seething on the Inside

I run into people who get on my nerves every single day, and, to be honest, it doesn’t take much to set me off in the first place. All it takes is some sort of rude, thoughtless, or stupid action (or a combination of the three) to make me start losing my mind. The Bi-Polar in me begs to be set loose, itching to at least verbally tear the offender a new one, if not escalate the confrontation to physical blows. Sometimes I don’t even want to say a single word to them, I just want to jump up and down on them (literally). If you could see into my mind when these thoughts start rolling the ferocity and graphic nature of them would probably make them cringe. This is why some say living with BPD is like being stuck in a horror movie. There’s a few things that hold me back from acting on my sinister urges, but the biggest one is the Social Anxiety Disorder I’ve had since childhood. Anyone with a strong case of BPD can tell you that losing control is all-too-easy when we’re provoked, and it usually leads to screaming at the very least, but my shyness and inability to establish meaningful conversations with strangers just won’t let me make an ass of myself. Instead, I usually end up bowing my head and walking away, but sometimes I do get to flash them an evil stink-eye stare to let the offenders know that their poor behavior didn’t go unnoticed. That’s it. In extremely rare cases (maybe every 10 years or so) I get pushed far enough to override my reticence, but it takes so much to get me to that point that most would feel my ‘victim’ had it coming anyway. You have no idea how badly I want to at least call some of these idiots out, especially when they’re blatantly rude, like not helping an elderly woman on the bus by freeing a seat for her, or when some moron actually tries to hit a pedestrian in the crosswalk (it’s happened to me several times). But unless they do something physical to me (like hitting me with a car or pushing me to the ground), are being the biggest jerk possible, or I’ve become at least a little familiar with them (I’ve seen them around because they live down the street or something) it’s not gonna happen. I think part of it also falls back to what my mother taught me as a child about manners, as well. Anyway, that’s enough explanation, I think.

Letters to Strangers

What I’m going to do here is craft imaginary letters to people who commit deplorable acts.  I’m only going to create two of them, but if the vengeful feel isn’t your cup of tea, and you want to read something a little more sentimental then hang with me for a bit. The first letter is centered around frustration and anger, but the second taps into something deeper, something that has caused myself and my family a lot of sorrow for over a year now.

 To the Morons Who Drive By My House Going 70 MPH

My house sits on the corner of a residential street (which I’ve called Garben Road in other posts) and a wide, busy numbered street that handles tons of traffic every day. For the most part, living on this corner provides a good balance of being in the suburbs while also having access to the businesses you find in more commercial areas. There are a few problems with the area, not the least of which is the gang activity, but one recurring issue really steams my clams: speeding. The speed limit on the large numbered street is never more than 45 MPH, but there’s a long, straight stretch of road for about 1/4 of a mile after the last light, and people love to race down that stretch. By the time they get near my house they’re usually going at least 65 MPH, and I’ve seen some of them exceed 75 MPH. This road is nothing like a highway, and the situation is beyond dangerous for the numerous kids and pets that live in this neighborhood, so it really gets under my skin when I see these careless idiots behaving in such a way. This letter is for them.
 

If you think no one notices your reckless behavior, and that you’ll never see any consequences for it, you’re dead wrong. I spend a lot of time outside every day and I’m watching you. I understand the urge, and I know how thrilling it can be to fly along in a car like that, but this isn’t the place for that! Do you have any idea what kind of havoc your actions could cause? Or do you just not care that you could end up killing someone? Every time I see one of you blast by I have to fight against the desire to scoop up a handful of rocks and chuck them into your windows. A wake-up call like that is exactly what you need, but I just can’t risk innocent people getting hurt in the process (which is highly possible since you’d probably lose control of your car and crash into one of the many houses around here). But I’ll tell you now, I’m done with standing idly by while you endanger the lives of dozens of children, pedestrians, and pets. The police may fail in catching people like you around here, but I won’t. You obviously need a lesson in safety, and I’m not afraid to give it to you. So, if speeders like you don’t stop this nonsense here’s some of the actions I’m willing to take:

  • I will take a lawn chair, my laptop, and a camera, and I’ll set up shop on the side of the road every day (as an author, I stay home all day, so I have the time for it). Along with posting cautionary signs up the road (which will warn you of not only the dangers of your actions, but also of the fact that I’m taking a stand), I’ll sit there documenting every car that passes. If I catch anyone excessively speeding I’ll take note of your license plate number, call the police, and hand over all the evidence to them so they can track you down (which will also include a video of your infraction).
  • Despite the possibility of getting into legal trouble myself, I am prepared to escalate this if my first technique fails. In that case, I’ll be creating picket signs that display my complaints and will protest on the side of the road. Any time I hear a speeder approaching (I can hear you guys a mile away, figuratively) I’ll walk out into the middle of the street and block you. And I swear, if you hit me I will slam you with a law suit that will strip the very pants off you. If it comes to this, I’ll also begin scouting for others in the area who are fed up with inconsiderate drivers so that we can create a human chain that blocks the entire street. It may sound stupid on my part, but if it makes this crap stop it’s worth it (and, just to be clear, I won’t mess with responsible drivers unless I absolutely have to).
  • My final line of defense applies more to the weekend drunk drivers that blast through here after several hours of partying at the local bars. I really don’t want to resort to this method, but I will if I have to. It only works at night, but I’ve done it before, and it has a pretty strong effect on drivers. If I keep seeing poor decisions rolling down the road I’ll simply light the road on fire. By pouring a flammable liquid (like rubbing alcohol) in a line across the road, I can wait for the right moment to ignite it and have it burning in just a few seconds. It will also continue to burn for a decent amount of time, and will be controlled enough to not set anything else on fire. Everyone, especially motorcyclists (which can be even worse than speeders in cars here), tends to think twice before driving across a line of fire.

I’m tired of seeing such selfish disregard day after day, so please stop being so stupid. Thank you.

To the Careless Woman Who Killed Barry

Barry is the person my next letter, which will be published at a later time, will be addressed to. He was my future father-in-law, but my relationship with him had transcended the typical interactions most people have with their in-laws. He passed away about a year and a half ago, and the circumstances of his death were upsetting, to say the least. I’ll present the precise details soon, but there were two responsible parties for his early passing: incompetent doctors and a selfish woman with a cold. This letter is what I would say to that woman if I could ever track her down.
 

We’ve never met, but I already dislike you. You took someone from me, from my family, and I don’t know if I can ever forgive you for that. Do you recall how you were a passenger on a flight to Los Angeles during the holiday season of 2012? You had caught some sort of virus that had spread like wildfire, one that was particularly nasty and tenacious. But rather than doing the right thing and staying home, you pushed on and exposed who knows how many people to your illness just for the sake of fulfilling your Christmas obligations to your friends and family. I can understand that situation, I know you’d have lost the money you’d paid for the ticket, but was it really worth causing a good person to die? Was it worth taking someone from us several decades before he should have passed on?

There were several precautions you could have taken to protect others, but you didn’t even try them. Barry’s widow was with him, and she remembers everything you did. She remembers you constantly coughing through the entire flight, and she remembers you never attempting to cover your mouth. You were sitting less than a yard from Barry! What did you expect would happen? That the crap you were spewing into the air would just float in the other direction? He tried everything possible to stave off the infection of your nastiness, but you were pumping out the pathogen at such an alarming rate it wouldn’t have mattered if he’d been on the other side of the plane from you. His wife also recalls your poor hygiene, how you’d wipe your nose with your bare hand, then touched everything around you. Do you even want to know what happened to him, or are you so apathetic and cold that you just don’t care?

A few days after the flight, Barry started showing signs of the cold he’d caught from you. It wasn’t hard for him to figure out where he’d come into contact with it, either. He was visiting his family for Christmas because his father was about to pass away, and he had to do this all while fighting the horrid symptoms of your little gift. He thought it was just like any other cold, and that he’d get over it soon, but by the time he and his wife made it to Portland to spend some time with my fiancé and I it was obvious that he was in bad shape. You see, he had asthma, and usually it didn’t affect him, but somehow that particular cold activated it, complicating his body’s response to the invasion. He was so sick when he got here that he could barely function. I’d known him a decade and I’d never seen him so ill before. He was one of the strongest people I’ve ever known, so him catching something was shocking to begin with, even for his wife.

He spent a few days here, and we tried to convince him to go to a hospital, but he refused. He said he wanted to wait until they got home so he could see his regular doctor, but we all knew there was more to it than that. I think, deep down, he knew he was in peril. He knew his life was about to end, and he didn’t want his wife to be so far from home while he was laid up in the hospital. So he soldiered on for her sake, displaying his devotion and affection for her just like he did any other day. He was selfless and giving like that, especially when his wife was involved. He suffered for days, rarely leaving their hotel room and barely eating. By the time they got home he had to be taken to the emergency room because he couldn’t breathe.

He spent several days in the dinky little hospital near their home, which worried me since they lacked the proper equipment and doctors to treat him thoroughly. With every day his condition worsened, and by the time the idiots at the hospital finally figured out that they should air-lift him to a better facility it was too late. Less than an hour after the helicopter landed he stopped breathing, and they couldn’t resuscitate him anymore (it wasn’t the first time they’d had to bring him back). He’d ended up in a drug-induced coma and a ventilator a few days before the trip, so he didn’t have to feel the pain for a short while, but he shouldn’t have died.

If you had only covered your damn mouth we might still have him with us today. Because of you, Barry ended up dying before his own father. You have no idea how much pain you’ve caused my family, and you have no idea how badly I wish I could somehow give you a taste of what we had to go through. You better hope I never meet you in person.

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Rant – Disillusionment in Portland

Just a quick note: If you haven’t heard of this kind of post before and you’d like to read a short explanation then please check out this page

Rumors are Rarely True

 

When I was young I used to think that Portland, Oregon was the perfect city, and I know I’m not the only one. People in other cities seem to think the same thing, but just like my initial experience with the ‘progressive, accepting population of a truly Green metropolis’, they haven’t seen the underlying filth and grime that Portland tries so hard to hide. It seems the longer I live here to more I hate this place, and after a long, hard fight in trying to retain my affection for it I just don’t have the energy to deal with its flaws anymore. For over six months now I’ve been developing plans to move back to my real home (where people can really experience ‘the organic lifestyle’ because you’re in the middle of the woods), but there are certain aspects that have restrained my retreat, so here I stay, at least for now. There are still several advantages to living in Portland, but there used to be several more, so much so that I didn’t even notice the downsides. Slowly, over the last few years, those pros have eroded away, and I’m stuck watching what used to be a great mass community become just like any other large city.

 

My Buttons are Breaking

 

My discontent has had a long time to develop, but it was one recent public scare that finally pushed me to write my frustrations out. Some of you may have heard news reports about the boil water alert that was issued to everyone in Portland yesterday, but if you don’t live here there’s a good chance that you didn’t hear the whole story on the matter. There’s an interesting chain of events leading up to the alert that is too coincidental for my taste, and it certainly wouldn’t be the first time politicians had pulled a fast one on the people they’re supposed to serve. Some people might just write off my suspicions, claiming I’m some sort of conspiracy chaser, but that isn’t the case with me. Typically, most of the conspiracy theories I hear sound ridiculous to me, though I will grant that some of them are quite logical, and even probable. Anyway, what I’m getting at is that I tend to be an objective sort of person, only basing my conclusions on pure, unadulterated, indisputable facts. I have the mind of a scientist, that’s for certain, and I’ve always enjoyed the process of researching a topic, going beyond Googling something and only reading the first result. It takes a lot of evidence, and it has to be from reliable sources, to convince me of something.

Here’s a brief timeline to give you an idea of what my suspicions are based on:

Public Distrust Steadily Grows

Over the past few years, the City Council of Portland has continually pissed off the residents in their jurisdiction by squandering the money they’ve received from the ubiquitous water utility fees that everyone must pay. And, of course, the backlash of their poor decisions and misappropriations fall back onto the communities in the form of steep rate hikes, instigated by those same ‘leaders’ in an attempt to make up their loses. Because they’ve continued the same pattern for so long, and the people they work for, the citizens they’re supposed to listen to, haven’t taken a strong stand against their frivolous actions, this ridiculous predicament has snowballed into a real problem.

As of last Thursday, May 22nd, 2014, the City Council authorized yet another increase in water fees, set to take effect July 1st and bring the average cost for water and sewer services to $94.79, which soars over the typical bill people pay in Phoenix, AZ ($37.75 for water, $20.71 for sewer). That calculates to a 64% increase compared to the rates from just 10 years ago. Granted, the water in Phoenix tastes horrible (at least, it used to when I lived there in the 90’s), but all it takes to fix that is a good filter. Some like to claim that the City Council’s haphazard projects and alleged slush funds aren’t the cause of the rate increases, that they’re simply the result of updating our systems to comply with federal regulations, but I don’t think that’s wholly true. Sure, we’ve caught the City Council behaving badly, and we’ve made them pay for it, but I’m certain there’s more problems out there that we never realized. I mean, what are the odds that we’ve discovered every disaster they’ve committed under the Water Bureau? It’s never that simple or easy, and I’m fairly positive that there’s plenty more where the revealed mishaps came from.

One Man Takes a Stand, But His Major Supporters Make People Nervous

Generally, it seems most people have too much to worry about in their daily lives to have the time to call out our leaders on their poor decisions, but one man, Kent Craford, has fought for reform, off and on, for several years. When he felt that the cooperation offered from the current City Council to be lacking, he and other like-minded individuals decided to take a stand. Eventually, they created Measure 26-156 and rallied support for it through petition signatures, which called for major changes and would have withdrawn all administration responsibilities over water, sewer, and wastewater from the City Council, transferring everything to a new, independent board. Unfortunately, there were inexcusable flaws in the measure, and on top of that, the three largest financial supporters behind Craford’s campaign caused most voters to question their altruism since they all happened to be related to corporations that required huge amounts of water. Of course, the financial backers that opposed the bill were just as suspicious, but that uncertainty, the large risk involved, eventually dissuaded so many people who the measure failed in a ratio of almost 3-to-1 against it.

One thing that Craford and some of his proponents stood for rubbed me the wrong way, which involved the continued use of the open-air reservoirs (which we just had a big problem with) Portland has drawn its water from for over a hundred years, and they also didn’t want to build any protective covers over them. This is a problem, not only because of the high risk from contamination (a few months a ago some kid urinated in one of the reservoirs, causing it to be shut down entirely), but also because of the federal regulations against it, which were put in place as a defense again cryptosporidium (a nasty little parasite similar to E. coli, but more dangerous at times). Refusing to comply with those regulations brings federal displeasure down on all of us, and their law makes complete sense. All we have to do is secure the water source; we don’t need to build new reservoirs as long as we take common-sense approach to the problem. So, if planned properly, this issue could be resolved efficiently without costing a ton of cash. It seemed to me that I wasn’t the only person who disagreed with Craford’s views, and I think some of them probably felt that if Measure 26-156 had passed that it would somehow give him enough power to complete his goal, but I that would have been unlikely.

One of the best, and worst, parts of the measure was that it restricted candidates who could be elected to the board. This is good because it would have prevented anyone with a conflict of interest to take power and later bend the board for personal or corporate gain, but the writers of the measure didn’t stop there. They proposed that board members not be paid any sort of salary or wage, thus ensuring that only people who really wanted to benefit the system would try for a spot. That idea is a solid one, but it could easily backfire. That aspect I could deal with, but they took it too far by insisting that anyone who actually did get appointed to the board not hold down any other job. So, basically, they would’ve been expected to work for free and wouldn’t be able to seek a stable income from another career. I understand that they were only trying to ensure that the most dedicated are granted responsibilities, but that kind of requirement only ensures that very rich people, with large amounts of money stored away already, can hold the position, and I really don’t like the sound of that.

If they’d only thought the wording of the measure through a little more I think it could have been successful, but now we’re still stuck with the same old song and dance from the City Council. And yesterday, only two days after the elections ended, the plot intensified.

Crap! No, really, crap!

As I said before, a boil water alert was issued yesterday morning because four samples taken from a few different reservoirs came back positive for signs of E. coli, but it isn’t very cut and dry. First off, some experts were saying that the suggestions broadcast to the public were overkill, which included boiling any and all tap water intended for ingestion for at least 2 minutes and dumping any and all food or drinks made with tap water on or after last Tuesday. With the Rose Festival set to kick off at Waterfront Park that very day, the contamination scare couldn’t have come at a worse time, and food vendors were required to throw away masses of food because they’d prepared it with tap water. Health officials had commented to reporters that it was unlikely anyone would actually get sick from the water in its cold state since the amount of chlorine discovered during testing should have been sufficient to kill off the bacteria before it reached consumers, but administrators weren’t taking any risks, and the alert ended up being the largest boil notice in Portland’s history, affecting about 670,000 people.

People rushed to stores as soon as they found out, buying as much bottled water as they could get their hands on, their panic causing just about every store to sell out by the afternoon. Because of this ordeal, two huge reservoirs have to be drained completely in an attempt to discover the source of the contamination, but just like the previous two boil alerts in 2009 and 2012, it’s doubtful that they’ll actually find any evidence. Businesses like coffee shops and restaurants had to shut down completely, costing them a good deal of revenue, and the cost of the work to be done on our water sources will be high.

But here’s the kicker: this whole crappy situation actually supports and discounts both sides of the Measure 26-156 debate. Here’s how each group has lost face because of this mess:

 Measure Supporters

It is a fact that open-air reservoirs benefit from the exposure to sunlight, which assists in the purification process, but leaving a water source that supports over half a million people isn’t the brightest idea. Sure, E. coli is only a severe threat to young children, elderly people, and those with compromised immune systems (it can actually kill people in those categories through dehydration alone), and most people get a few stomach cramps, a small bout of diarrhea, then move on if they catch it, but there’s a lot worse threats out there than simple bacteria and mild parasites. The federal government is also concerned about the vulnerability to terrorist attacks that open reservoirs offer, and a whole slew of other substances could easily end up in the water. Yes, birds and other animals have defecated in that water ever since the system was built, and the likely hood of something really serious entering the water is small, but I still don’t think it’s worth the risk, all things considered.

City Council

A lot of angry question have been tossed around ever since the public found out a shocking bit of information: the city first detected signs of E. coli Wednesday morning, but didn’t even attempt to notify the public about it. In stead, they waited until more testing was completed because the regulations didn’t require them to say anything until Friday. By Friday morning, three different reservoirs had tested positive for the bacteria, and the Oregon Health Authority finally told the water bureau to write a press release and activate the reverse 911 system (which is very unreliable and not very expedient anyway). By the time they let us know what was going on people had injested the tap water long enough to begin getting sick. It’s not like the emergency rooms got slammed or anything, but people are beginning to come forward and admit that they had experienced symptoms long before the alert was broadcast.

I get that E. coli isn’t a crazy, extremely life-threatening contagion, but I think people deserve to be informed, as soon as possible, when signs of fecal mater have been detected in the water they pay so much for. To be blunt, it isn’t the marginal health risks that irked me, but the fact that the government held back on us, and so soon after a vote that helped them. What’s interesting is that I could have absolutely sworn I’d read an article yesterday on a local news website that said they’d known about the problem on Tuesday, but now it’s mysteriously missing. I know I read that somewhere, and the source was trustworthy. I’m not the only one, either, because several people have hinted at suspecting a cover-up and some have openly declared that they wish they could have changed their vote on Measure 26-156. The backlash from this really isn’t helping the City Council in any way.

 

Nothing But Disappointment

 

No matter which way I look at it, this whole business with the water supply disappoints me, and both sides are to blame. That’s all there is to it. But, in comparison, I think the City Council has come out of this looking a lot worse than Craford and his partners.

 

 Anyway…

 

This is only one of the irritants that have caused me to adopt my Little Miss Rant’n’Raver persona lately. I’ll probably end up writing plenty of articles about this area. If you’ve actually read all the way through this, thank you for your patience. I don’t really expect anyone to love this kind of work, and I’m only making it for me, so I won’t feel bad if you didn’t care for it. I certainly feel a lot better after getting that off my chest.

Thanks!