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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Snow Removal: The city of Bend sends a mixed message

It's tough to keep your sidewalks clear in Bend when snowplows keep covering them up.

Posted By on Wed, Nov 24, 2010 at 6:23 PM

OK, so we all know that the City of Bend has an obscure ordinance that says we citizens should clear our sidewalks within 24 hours of a major snow dump. Fine, I can live with that, and have for the past 33 winters, and I suspect that no one has ever been fined for not clearing his or her sidewalks in a timely fashion.

I have also wondered from years why and try to clear your sidewalks at all if you live on a busy arterial street. Because as soon as I clear my sidewalks along a busy arterial, along comes a city plow and any and all the loose snow from the street back onto the sidewalks.

Here’s how it goes: I wake at 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday the 23rd and by 7 a.m. have my sidewalks completely clear of snow. So far so good.

At 1:00, my wife and I walk downtown only to arrive back as two city plows scrape whatever snow they can off the streets and put it back on the sidewalks. That’s the sidewalks along the entire length (over a mile) of street. Sidewalks that were clear, and very walkable, hours before.

A decade ago we could park on the busy arterial and we my aging Ford pickup there all winter to discourage the maniacal plow drivers. It worked. We cleaned the sidewalks and they stayed clean.

Then parking was banned on the street and the walks get cleared and then refilled with snow courtesy of Public Works.

You can’t expect people to conform to an ordinance and then make it almost impossible to do so. It appears the city and Public Works think so.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Giving Thanks: People and things in Bend that make life bearable

Just a few things in Bend that I'm thankful for.

Posted By on Tue, Nov 23, 2010 at 7:45 PM

Like many Americans, I think Thanksgiving is our nation’s best holiday. It’s a day devoted to being with friends and family and giving thanks for what we have and what has made our lives better.

This year, I’m thankful for:

Middle School Kids: The middle schooler in my family was able to program my new cell phone with all sorts of features during the five-minute ride from her school to her house. Later, she set me up with a great new, and original, ring tone. Next I’ll ask her to fix my laptop and start ghostwriting this blog. Modern kids are pretty cool.

Customer service: Now here’s a lost art by in large but thankfully Bend has a few businesses that realize the benefit of good customer service. They know that treating customers well translates to loyalty and repeat business. My local favs for customer service include: Les Schwab, Footzone-Bend, Trader Joe’s, Wild Bird Unlimited, The Pine Tavern, the Pilot Butte Drive-in (PBDI), the Seventh Street Brew House in Redmond, and Rockin’ Daves.

Beer: Bend is blessed with so many good breweries, brewers and brewpubs. And the best thing is they’re all different, unique.

Trails: Thanks primarily to the Central Oregon Trail Alliance (COTA), we have an incredible trail system that only keeps getting better. Is Bend mountain bike heaven? It could very well be.

All-around skiing: Few places in the world have such a good combination of alpine, cross-country and backcountry skiing close to town.

Big Fat Tour: This is a great event that, over three days, captures what makes Central Oregon mountain biking so good and so varied.

Cyclocross National Championships: more proof that Bend is an ideal place for big time individual sports competitions.

Dirty Half: What every footrace should be like-challenging and fun.

Easy to navigate websites: I rejoice every time I land on a site that eschews Flash Media for straight ahead, no BS information. For example,

NeighborImpact: Thankfully we have a dedicated group of public servants who are looking out for the needs of the thousands of people who otherwise would go hungry in the tri-county area.


Happy Thanksgiving.

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Monday, November 22, 2010

Getting Out: Updates on Horse Ridge, Skull Hollow

Biking at Horse Ridge and camping at Skull Hollow.

Posted By on Mon, Nov 22, 2010 at 6:19 PM

Horse Ridge

It’s that time of year when mountain bikers head to Horse Ridge to ride snow-free singletrack. What many of them don’t know is that the new parking area and trail access is open and should be used in favor of parking along the roadway.

In the words of the BLM’s Gavin Hoban: “Central to the development of the site were these motivations: 1) Address the safety of users, dogs, etc, loading and unloading in the state highway right-of-way in the face of gravel trucks traveling the road from the nearby quarry.

2) to mitigate the breakdown of the asphalt at the road's edge from

increased use at the roadside site

3) to decrease resource impacts to a non-hardened ad-hoc site

4) to provide a low-key, quality trailhead user experience in a safe off-street parking setting.”

So if you plan to ride the ridge, please help out and use the new parking area.


Skull Hollow

For many years the Forest Service campground at Skull Hollow has been popular particularly with climbers who wanted to get away from the crowds at the Smith Rock climbers camping area. Also key in their preference for Skull Hollow camping was that van camping was allowed there and you could have a campfire. The fact that the camping was free was a value added.

Then the USFS turned the campground over to a private concessionaire who immediately closed the campground for five months (November to April) each year and last year started charging for camping.

The reason behind the closure is simply that the concessionaire is responsible for any damage to the campground if it’s open and there’s a resident host on site. With the campground closed and no host on site, the liability issue goes away.

Members of the climbing community are trying to rally support to have the campground open year round as the USFS gets set to sign a new 5-year agreement with the private concessionaire.

If you want to know more about the situation or get involved, contact Ian Caldwell (

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Mt. Bachelor Announces Opening Day

Mt. Bachelor in Bend, Oregon, announces it will open on November 24.

Posted By on Fri, Nov 19, 2010 at 12:42 AM

This is for real: Mt. Bachelor is opening on November 24. And that's not a rumor.

But it’s not unusual for the skier and rider world to become rife with rumors come mid-November. Rumors that start with a simple: “Dude, wouldn’t it be cool if the mountain opened this Friday” that quickly becomes: “The mountain is opening this Friday for sure.”

Someone asking how the person stating that the mountain will open is sure it will be gets in response: “Because my buddy who works as a lift op told me so.”

Then, of course, Pine Mountain Sports held its annual “Powderhounds” video and image fest at The Tower on Wednesday night and that means that the mountain has to open soon to meet the pent up energy and demand of all the riders and skiers who were at the show.

But they’ve gotta wait. For the record, here’s the official news from Mount B: “There seems to be some confusion in the community about our official opening day (rumor has it tomorrow is our first day of operations). With recent weather bringing snow and temperatures ideal for productive snowmaking, Mt. Bachelor is planning on opening in time for the Thanksgiving Holiday on Wednesday, November 24th. For the latest updates and information on opening day, alpine and Nordic conditions bookmark the new Mt. Bachelor website.

Everybody down with that? It’s next Wednesday and not a day earlier.

Now what’ll we do between now and then? Spread the rumor that the mountain is opening today.

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Getting Off On Being Green: A new eco-friendly pitch from the "adult" industry

Posted By on Tue, Nov 9, 2010 at 5:43 PM


During the years I ran a small publishing business, I got on what often seems to be every North American companys' public relations release list. Today, I typically get from 30 to 50 e-mail public relations releases a day. They range from the ridiculous (" The Situation to Speak at the Community College's auto shop class graduation") to the sublime ("Exotic Cruise Lines announces $7,500 budget fares on all their Baltic routes").

In between The Situation and Exotic Cruises are new products, new books, new gear, upcoming lecture series, and new television shows.

Then one came in just the other day that topped them all. It was for "green" as in environmentally correct sex toys .

In the name of discretion, I will just reveal a few lines from the release with my edits in parenthesis.

"[Company name] Adult Toy Parties Do it Green for the Environmentally Aroused,"

"[Location of the store] announces a successful first year for the world's first 'eco-chic' in-home toy demonstration parties. [Name of company/retailer] parties put a sustainable twist on the traditional sex toy party by showcasing green vibrators, phthalate-free dildos, natural lubricants, recycled whips and other ecologically and non toxic adult paraphernalia.

"Adult toys are a sexual staple in millions of bedrooms across the country. I think it's about time we start considering their effects on our bodies and the environment. "

And the release went on for several more paragraphs and ending with company/retailer and public relations firm contact information.

Of course, I thought, it's way too good to be true and started trying to figure out which one of my friends had fabricated such a terrific faux PR piece.

Then I called the PR agency's number and, oops, the release is for real.

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Friday, November 5, 2010

Duckorama: The dream of an epic BCS title game

The Oregon Ducks football squad is exciting everyone, not just old fans, and could be part of an epic BCS championship game.

Posted By on Fri, Nov 5, 2010 at 6:35 PM

Miracles do happen. I arrived back at my San Francisco Bay area hotel last Saturday night after swilling cocktails and eating fatty finger food while watching the Giants lose to the Rangers in Game three of the World Series to find my wife intently watching the Ducks-Trojans game on TV. "Boy," said she, "the Ducks are sure fun to watch. They look like they're having so much fun."

Holy Jim Thorpe. That statement came from a woman who for all our married life has not spent a single moment watching yet alone liking college or pro football. I was staggered on hearing her words as if hit by a bolt of lightening. We had at last reached a mutual agreement on something sporting.

And so for the sake of marriages everywhere where the male is a sports nut and the female barely interested, try viewing a Ducks game together. Dr.Phil would approve.

What makes the Ducks so palatable to the opposite sex? It's because play more like a rugby team. A run or pass play ends and it's on to the next one. There are no interminable huddles, milking the clock and other attendant football junk.

The Ducks remind me more of a great rugby team like Old Blues (ex Cal footballers) than any football team. The Old Blues played their sport with the same speed and abandon.

So for me, it would be fun if the Ducks go to play Boise State for the mythical national title? Now that would easily be the fastest, most athletic game in collegiate history. And one I could easily talk my wife into watching.

Forget the bad vibes from the Boise State taunting and the famous Lagarette Blount punch game of last season. Both teams have moved beyond that and are ready to dazzle a nation of pigskin fanatics growing tired of predictable games played by oversized young men.

Make it a BCS title game between the Ducks and Boise State and may the final score add up to somewhere around 200 points.

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