Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Hello, earth person! It’s Wednesday, January 31, 2018, the last day of the month, and before we get to terrestrial matters, let’s cast our gaze Moonward, and see if the clouds might part enough to allow a glimpse of the lunar triumvirate that druids and space nerds alike have circled on the calendar.  (Update: big ol’ cloud bank rolled over Portland at 3 AM, and we say nothing. Cue the sound fx: sad trombone).

Otherwise…Portland’s weather today involves lingering showers tapering off, and highs of 45. Sunrise 7:32 AM, sunset 5:16 PM.

As the moon rose, fated for its eclipse, President Trump gave the third-longest State of the Union address in history. The night began on perhaps a Freudian note as Speaker Paul Ryan muffed the intro and started to say “preventing” instead of “presenting” the president. For the next hour and twenty minutes, and with less belligerence than we’ve seen, Trump confidently animated the script on the Teleprompter, making claims–some of which stand up to fact-checking and some do not–with his characteristic elevated chin, hand chops, and elastic face. He proclaimed a complete turnaround from the dark “American carnage” of his inaugural address, to the point where “Over the last year, we’ve made incredible progress and achieved extraordinary success” and “This, in fact, is our new American moment. There has never been a better time to start living the American dream.”

He proposed “putting aside our differences.” Leadership requires that a leader make the first move; future tweets will tell the story there. The point that many were waiting for came late in the speech, as he addressed the coming DACA deadline that imperils a million or more young people, mostly of Latino descent. He proposed what he called a down-the-middle deal: A 12-year path to citizenship for 1.8 million people. In exchange for the Great Wall. And substantial cuts in legal immigration.

People are taking note of Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley’s point-by-point Twittering during the speech. A headline on OregonLive last night read, “Jeff Merkley is definitely running for president in 2020. Just read his State of the Union tweets.” Ron Wyden stood and applauded when Trump said, ‘So let us begin tonight by recognizing that the state of our Union is strong because our people are strong.” But Wyden also tweeted–though I didn’t see a phone in the hand of either Oregon senator, so it was probably staff–“Wells Fargo was handed a $3.35 billion windfall from the tax bill – and then decided to close 800 bank branches.”

Rep Joseph Kennedy, the 37-year old grandson of RFK, delivered the Democratic response. Strong national debut for someone with potential. Seemed to use no teleprompter. Spoke Spanish to Dreamers (who, it occurred to me, speak English, which is the point). A sound bite I’m pulling: “bullies may land a punch” and leave a mark but have “never managed to match the strength and spirit of a people united in defense of their future.”

OK, enough SOTU.

Local news:

Firefighters in Lebanon rescued and revived a dog trapped in a house fire.

A man with a knife jumped over a counter and robbed a bank in Scappoose. He’s wanted for robbing four other banks in the same manner since October. The FBI is calling him the “Froggy Robber,” for his counter-hopping habits.

Crews have hauled out a leaky old boiler oil tank from beneath a dilapidated cannery pier in Astoria, the apparent source of a spill that’s created a colorful sheen on the Columbia River for the past week.

It’s the second day of no school at Hilda Lahti elementary in Knappa, in NW Oregon’s Clatsop County. Half the students and staff have the flu, and custodians are giving the place a deep cleaning.

Portland commuters were plenty steamed as a freight train blocked traffic on the surface streets near OMSI yesterday morning for 40 minutes, according to one person who called the Federal Railroad Administration to complain. Not much they can do.

A crowdfunding campaign has been launched to hurry up the restoration of the trails near Multnomah Falls that were so badly damaged in that needless wildfire last year.

The TSA found almost 4,000 guns at security checkpoints last year. They didn’t release data on all airports so I don’t know how many were caught at PDX, but it’s not in the top ten. Sea-Tac, however, was #10, with 75 guns seized–60 of them loaded. Number one was Atlanta with 245, and all but a 20 or so were loaded.

Tonight is the kickoff party for this year’s Cycle Oregon, including the announcement of “an all-new adventure” to be scheduled in October.

Baby-boomer nostalgia was all the rage thirty years ago today as the winsome “Wonder Years” which debuted on CBS.

Future Meier and Frank necktie salesman Clark Gable was born this day in 1901.

Jackie Robinson, first African-American in major league baseball, was born 99 years ago today. And Chicago Cubs great Ernie Banks was born on this day in 1931. The other day I came across a remembrance I wrote the day Ernie passed away:

–“Aw, the radio came on and said this morning that Ernie Banks had died. And now people with Chicago roots including me are walking with our shoulders a little slumped today, because Ernie was such a joy in that gritty city. When I was a little guy my Grandma would lead me by the hand onto the Clark Street bus to Waveland Avenue where she’d pay two bucks at the turnstile and we’d walk into the shocking green of Wrigley Field and experience for ourselves what we saw so often on WGN-TV, the Cubs playing hard and usually losing on that beautiful field. But Ernie Banks was exceptional, so fluent and feline at shortstop, and when he was at the plate, every pitch was a Christmas present waiting to be opened. Anything good could happen. He had a liquid grace to his swing, and he could send the ball a long, long way. I remember when I was nine sitting in the first base stands when #14 came up with the bases loaded, and seeing Ernie sweep his bat at a pitch–a sharp crack reaching my ears an instant later–and watching the ball sail like an elegant arrow, leaving the ground behind, leaving the whole ballpark behind, vanishing into the neighborhood beyond right field. I had to stand on my seat to see him circle the bases, and could barely hear myself screaming his name. Years later, there was an old-timers game at Civic Stadium in Portland, and I was outside the locker room behind first base with my media pass and there stood Ernie Banks himself, wearing a Cubs uniform and relaxing by a shiny vintage car. I told him about my Grandma and standing on the seat screaming his name when he hit that grand slam, and he was so friendly and positive; he grinned and beamed and said: “You know, I made that baseball disappear 512 times!” Anyway, Ernie Banks was 83 when he died, still a fixture and a treasure in Chicago and in my memory.”

And now.. headlines I’ve scooped up from the net, so you can fill in details from your imagination…

–“Minnesota Man Gives Super Bowl Tickets To Young Eagles Fan Who Beat Cancer”

–“A Baltimore elementary school replaced detention as punishment for misbehaving students with meditation, mindfulness and yoga, resulting in an improved school environment and reduction of office referrals.” (Talk about being om-schooled!)

–“Norway men’s national soccer team takes wage cut so players paid same as women’s side”

–“Southwest Airlines donates flight to rescue dogs and cats from Puerto Rico”

–“Fred Meyer store in Richland, WA donates all safe and usable products to food banks and shelters after arson”

–“Veteran Named ‘Smiley’ Is Gifted With $60,000 Dental Implants By Generous Dentist”

That’s what drips from the gutters and eves of the news. We’ll hit reset and start fresh with a new month tomorrow. Meantime, I’m heading into the radio shop early, to get some newswriting done so I have a chance to check out the eclipse! Hope you can see it and maybe grab a good photo…post ’em if you’ve got ’em!

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