NYTimes on Bend (late review)

I don’t know how I missed this the first time around (December 23rd, probably because I don’t read the New York Times): Where Timber Was King, the Golf Club Replaces the Ax.

I don’t really know what to think about this article. I certainly can’t relate to it, it’s aiming for the affluent and reeks of elitism. A little fisking, anyone?

WHEN you own a home in the sixth-fastest-growing region in the country, you worry about letting the cat out at night because of the coyotes howling in the forest. You scribe fresh powder turns down 9,000-foot-high bowls and muscle bicycles through high-desert hills. At some point, perhaps on a fairway between Holes 4 and 5, you wonder whether those lonely volcanoes lingering on the skyline will ever blow. The thing you rarely do is call your town rural.

Dammit, I do call my town rural; I grew up rural, that’s how we are. We actually did lose a cat to coyotes, growing up. I don’t ski, I’m sorry to say, nor do I golf. So far, it’s failing to hook me.

Albert Angelo Jr., an owner of a family-run development company, bought in Bend for its 300 annual days of sunshine and the 4.3 million acres of public land just beyond his floor-to-ceiling windows. He plans to divide his time between his houses in Vancouver, Wash., and Palm Desert, Calif., and his new $3 million, 5,100-square-foot single-story house in Pronghorn, a resort on the outskirts of town.

“When I look out my Pronghorn house facing north, I see a covered patio with a 10-foot-diameter barbecue pit, a pop-up plasma TV and a view of the golf course – but of a putting green, so my house won’t get hit by golf balls,” Mr. Angelo, 59, said. “You have a good lifestyle down there.”

Okay, I totally cannot relate. I’d say this guy’s idea of “a good lifestyle down there” is completely out-of-sync with the reality of Bend.

About 300 people are on a waiting list to purchase another dozen town houses at the Bluffs at the Old Mill, a neighborhood with views of the Mount Bachelor, Broken Top, and Three Sisters volcanoes.

Again with the volcanoes. In my day we just called them “the mountains.” And for everybody wondering about the high real estate prices, look no more… the 288 people on that waiting list who won’t get a choice home want to go somewhere…

Bend’s proximity to trails for hiking and cross-country skiing, coupled with a bustling vibe, appealed to Stephen Johnson, 29, a salesman from Medford, Ore. In November, he bought a new 1,933-square-foot, two-story weekend house for $215,000 in southeast Bend. “It still feels like a small town but with more amenities that make it a fun place to visit,” he said.

Holy shit, there was a two-story, 1,933-square foot house for sale in town for only $215,000 as recently as November? Who did he have to kill to get the place for that cheap??

When Benders aren’t bouncing through the 370 inches of annual snowfall at Mount Bachelor, about 30 minutes west, much of the après action centers on Wall and Bond Streets, downtown’s two main arteries. Today, you’ll find no hardware store off the brick sidewalks, but should you seek information on a $2.75 million resort home or wish to make a donation to pierced buskers outside Bellatazza coffee shop, you need walk only a few blocks.

First of all, that should be “Bendites,” not “Benders”—we’re neither (mostly) drunks nor a certain sarcastic cartoon robot. Second of all, don’t remind me that there’s no hardware store downtown—it was a sad day when Masterson St. Clair finally closed down. But it’s good to know I can find that info on that $2.75-mil home, that’s important. Otherwise, this whole paragraph? Pretty much reeks of narcissistic self-importance. “Après action” and “pierced buskers” my ass.

Bend is 94 percent white. The joke among locals is that diversity means Subarus of different colors.

I’ve never heard that joke. I’ve lived here most of my life.

Okay, that’s enough. Go read the article, even if it bothers you as much as it seems to have me. I can’t help but wonder if they’re writing about the same town that I live in…

The Dark Side of geocaching

Spotted this article on CNN today: Geocaching puts authorities on edge. It’s about what happens when police find geocaches and think they might be bombs and such.

Rounding a corner on his motorcycle to finish rigging his cache, he was greeted by a barricade of police cars and a bomb squad. He struggled to explain the misunderstanding.

“I got off my bike and three officers approached me very cautiously, hands on their holsters,” he said. “I was trying to turn off my MP3 player and I think they were worried I was going for a detonator.”

(Find out more about geocaching at the official site.)

I’ve got a GPS, but haven’t actually gotten around to trying geocaching, even though I want to. Maybe this year. But the article also makes me think of what a friend asked me, once: What if someone actually does put a bomb or something in a geocache? And ruins it for everybody?

Something I don’t really have an answer to; I’m not that cynical, I suppose. The good thing is, it hasn’t happened yet that I know of, and hopefully it won’t ever happen.

High Desert Sun

Something I hadn’t blogged yet but thought I should “break”: I’ve been approached by the new publisher of the High Desert Sun newsletter to write for them. I said yes, of course, and the first article I’m turning in (by tomorrow) is based on my Reynolds Pond blog entry from about a year and a half ago.

I hadn’t heard of the High Desert Sun before, but it’s a newspaper-format newsletter that covers most of Central Oregon: Bend, Redmond, Prineville, Alfalfa, Powell Butte, Terrebonne, Madras and Crooked River Ranch. (I culled those from the “Locations” page on the website, it’s possible they also cover Lapine, Sunriver, and Sisters as well.) The publisher found my little corner of the web here and liked my writing well enough to invite me to write for the paper.

Cool! It’s not huge, granted, but it’s a start. Of course, if I become a regular writer for the newsletter, then I’ll need to start thinking things up to write about—I’d hate to have to recycle stuff from my blog all the time. :)

First a mouse, now a puppy…

So first a mouse set a man’s house on fire, now a puppy has done the same thing here in Bend:

A frisky puppy left in a laundry room apparently sparked a northeast Bend house fire that almost claimed his life. Investigators said Friday the dog caused an aerosol can to discharge vapors that a water heater pilot light ignited, setting the room ablaze.

It’s like When Animals Attack, but weirder. Awesome.

As an aside, I really like the new NewsChannel 21 site. Barney done good!

Mouse fire!

Okay, this is kind of an awful story…

No, scratch that. It’s a story that seems like it should be awful, but I just can’t take it seriously. It just makes me laugh. I can’t help it: Mouse takes down house.

On Saturday, a Fort Sumner man’s home fell victim to a mouse fire.

Homeowner Luciano Mares said he caught a mouse inside his residence and discarded the creature in a pile of garden refuse he was burning on his property near the home.

“I had some leaves burning outside, so I threw it in the fire, and the mouse was on fire and ran back at the house,” he said.

The. Mouse. Was. On. Fire.

Update: Snopes debunks it. It almost happened, but the mouse was already dead.

Update #2: According to CNN, the story may be true after all:

Is that plausible? Fort Sumner Fire Chief Juan Chavez said Tuesday he thinks so.

“There’s no reason for him to lie about what he told us,” Chavez said. “I don’t doubt it at all.”

There’s hope!

Copying Starbucks

Boing Boing reports than an Astoria, Oregon woman has been ruled to be in violation of Starbucks trademark, when she opened a coffee shop named after herself: Sambucks.

Note to Starbucks: get over it.

Anyway, this reminded me of a coffee shop we saw when we were in Vancouver, B.C. earlier this year, that was obviously copying Starbucks. It was pretty clever, yet I don’t think Starbucks could do anything about it:

Moonpennies: Coffee shop in Vancouver, B.C.