The “R” Word

I have been doing a lot of thinking a lot about racism lately. I monitor our Next Door for micro-aggressions. It’s frankly stunning. And our fair city, Portland, OR, continuously engages in institutionally racist behavior, particularly around housing and policing issues, even as it pats itself on the back as the People’s Republic of Portland.

Eleven years ago, a very different era in race relations than today’s “in  your face” racism, I was invited to write a column about institutional racism for the Spokesman Review. Upon reading my column, however, the Spokesman declined to print it, touching, as I suspect I did, a little too close to the truth of the matter. But, despite its datedness, I believe that column remains relevant to our current era. So, if you are so inclined, click and read. Thanks!

Institutional Racism

Seattle to Portland

I had planned to write up our little adventure yesterday but I had a severe case of acute carpal tunnel. It took me both hands to squeeze eye drops into my eyes!

There were moments of extreme sublimity. Shortly after the start, riding along Lake Washington, cool in the morning with the sun rising over the lake. Just lovely. Riding through Madigan Army/McCord Airforce Base – no cars. The occasional soldier. Firing ranges. Mt. Rainier popping into view from time to time.

And the camaraderie was a beautiful thing. Rode for awhile with a great dude from California who was riding with his father-in-law. There was this neat group – neon green – from the Philippines. They’d done it every year since ’06 I believe. Once they did it in a single day. Jacob, from Seattle, whom I met in Centralia, the halfway point.

Day one was straightforward. Mostly flat. The much vaunted “big hill” out of Puyallup was a bit of a dud. Sure, it was long but not very steep. And there were these lovely women in tutus at the top who were dancing for us! Ha. And the rest of the day was very flat.

I broke with my group early on. It wasn’t anything planned. It just happened. And pretty soon, I was well in front of them and I just kept going, didn’t stop except for water once. And arrived in Centralia at 12:36, 6 hours and 50 minutes after I’d started, an average speed of just over 15 mph inclusive of breaks.

Mat and I spent the night in Olympia, at the Townhouse Suites, strategically located on Capital Blvd where the Lakefair Grand Parade was underway. Weird mixture of small town Americana and some serious multiethnic stuff which I suspect was a result of the rapid growth of immigrant populations into rural areas to help with farming.

Sunday started out auspiciously enough. We got going around 5:40. Rode through Chehalis, and on towards Castle Rock. Flatly and lovely. Got our first shots of Mt. St. Helens. And then the rolling hills started. We crossed the Columbia and then rolled in. Hot, hot, hot. Started feeling the pain in St. Helens – just a general fatigue – with about 25 miles to go. But we did it. And the youngsters want to do it again. As for me, and as you can see below, I’m done.

Looking forward

As we witness the radical changes underway in the United States and the emergence of radical right-wing movements in Europe and beyond, I find sobering the words of the great Italian physicist, Carlo Rovelli:

“I believe that our species will not last long. It does not seem to be made of the stuff that has allowed the turtle, for example, to continue to exist more or less unchanged for hundreds of millions of years, for hundreds of times longer, that is, that we have even been in existence. We belong to a short-lived genus of species. All of our cousins are already extinct. What’s more, we do damage. The brutal climate and environmental changes that we have triggered are unlikely to spare us. For Earth they may turn out to be a small irrelevant blip, but I do not think we will outlast them unscathed – especially since public and political opinion prefers to ignore the dangers that we are running, hiding our heads in the sand. We are perhaps the only species on Earth to be conscious of the inevitability of our individual mortality. I fear that soon we shall also have to become the only species that will knowingly watch the coming of its own collective demise…”

Visionkeepers Features Portland’s ReBuilding Center

#Visionkeepers, a new show on PBS that seeks to inspire people to be the change they want to see in the world, will be featuring the #ReBuildingCenter where I served as Executive Director between 2015 and 2017. The video has been posted to OPB and can be viewed here:  https://www.pbs.org/video/reclaiming-and-rebuilding-lgktau/

If you don’t know where you’re going…

My good friend, colleague, and associate, Gary Weinreb, and I have initiated a weekly conference call on Monday morning at 7:00 a.m. (PST). Like me, Gary has recently gone out on his own (again) and our weekly calls are designed to motivate one another to move the ball down the field.

It’s a simple agenda. What did you accomplish last week? What are your goals for this week? What’s holding you back?

Gary has a simple goal: On average, he needs to solicit one new client a week and complete one website a week. I suggested today to Gary that he consider these his metrics and that he track and trend them on a weekly basis.

So, while it is true that if you don’t know where you’re going, every road leads you there, if you don’t track your progress, you won’t get to where you’re going either.

On the other hand, if you do track it, the simple act of watching it will change its properties. This is what I have always referred to as the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle applied to the business world. The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle is a little different, as is the particle-wave duality, but the Observer Effect arises directly from these key findings from quantum physics. According to the Observer Effect, simply observing a situation or phenomenon changes that situation or phenomenon. It’s powerful stuff, and that’s just one of the reasons why it’s important to track and trend your metrics.

No. 12 Zags vs. No. 11 Gaels

Just arriving from the East Coast last night, after being up for 20 hours, I decided to get some sleep, and to forego the anxiety of not knowing who won until I watched this morning. So, I checked. Zags by 13. Slept like a baby. Turns out, I only spoiled the first five minutes of the game as any anxiety as to the eventual victor, at 17-4 Zags, was well over by that point.

It was much like the cat playing with the proverbial mouse. And while St. Mary’s – at one point – climbed to within 9, the Zags effectively took them out of the game in the first five minutes, eventually building a 17-point lead (22-5). They schooled the upstart Gaels, who’d won a nail biter in Spokane just a few short weeks ago. The most telling moment was about eight minutes in, with the Zags up by 17. The Gaels stole the ball and hit a three, closing it to 14. One began to see – and hear – signs of life from the crowd… And then Mark Few called a time-out. The dispirit on the faces of the Gaels palpable. Most notably on the face of the quite competent coach, Randy Bennett, who looked like he was earning a degree at the foot of the master. Nor could the much heralded, prospective John Wooden awardee (currently on the top 20 watch list), Aussie center Jock Landale, contribute, finishing with four points and ten rebounds. Double teamed virtually every time he touched the ball, he didn’t simply lose the battle of the paint; he lost one to two steps every time he tried to penetrate.

A rout in every sense of the word and a sign of why I like the Zags to go further than their current tournament projection [a 5 seed]. While it is true there may be no first-round draft picks on this team, there is a balance, and a fearlessness, that will carry them further than most pundits (who continue to discount the Zags despite their advance to the Final in ’17) predict. Six – count ‘em – players average in double figures and, as with Zach Collins last year, the one sure pro pick comes off the bench. Rui Hachimuri, whose mother hails from Japan and whose father is Benini [seriously, I tried to find out what tribe Rui’s dad is from in Benin and the Internet will not answer that question. He’s either Yoruba, Fula, the Dendi, the Bariba, the Somba or the Fon. I’m going to write the Zags to find out. Stayed tuned] is athletic as anyone who’s played for the Zags. He torched the Gaels for 23 last time out and added another 21 last night.  And if Jonathan Williams doesn’t get selected, well then that’s just piss poor scouting on the part of the pros: Williams has NBA utility man written all over his game.

Go ‘Dogs!