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Category: Local Interest

PAX West parties

PAX West parties

PAX West is not just a fun gamer conference, there are also a lot of parties as well. You can find the more public ones on the PAX west parties website and Facebook group.

Finding the not-so-public ones requires being in the know and having some insider friends. ūüôā

No-tipping movement hasn’t gone so well

No-tipping movement hasn’t gone so well

Give workers a living wage! Tipping in restaraunts is wage slavery!

I’ve heard it all out here in Oregon. Calls to unionize restaurants have…been mixed at best. But it turns out, changing restaurant serving work to a ‘living wage’ has largely gone poorly. It turns out the people most upset and leaving restaraunts with no tipping and living wage pay are the workers themselves. A great majority of the restaurants that tried it over the last few years have quietly quit the experiment. Eater magazine, one of the most pro-food restaurant and food worker magazines has written up an excellent article ‘Why the no-tipping restaurant model failed‘. Why would workers leave living wages jobs?

It wasn’t that they didn’t try it or fully embrace the idea. High profile restaurants in San Francisco converted to a no-tipping living wage model – Sons & Daughters, Menlo Park’s Flea Street, Cotogna, Faun, and most famously, Zuni. So did restaurants in New York and other major food destinations. I often ran across restaurants in Portland that gave up tipping in favor of a mandatory living wage surcharge. Since then almost all of them have quietly quit and gone back to tipping – save a few holdouts. Why? The workers left.

It wasn’t just the diners that doomed the movement; workers saw lower earnings were also reluctant to embrace the change. At Faun, for example, Stockwell started servers at $25 per hour when the restaurant was tip-free. Even then, he says, it was ‚Äúvirtually impossible‚ÄĚ to compete with what servers could make at a ‚Äúsimilarly ambitious local restaurant with tips.‚ÄĚ If a tipped server could make $40 to $50 an hour, or up to $350 over the course of a seven-hour shift, why do the same work for half the money?

But it wasn’t just workers. Higher costs do have an impact. A UC Irvine study found that for every dollar increase in food cost, it resulted in more than a 6% decrease in full-service restaurant employment.¬†

It’s not like this wasn’t expected. But politicians and activists ignored the simple economics. The wide-spread reality and economics of tipping is right there for politicians. They could have easily found out by checking W-2 reports, well, assuming workers were reporting all their tips ;). The people who were hurt from these experiments in social restructuring and activism are ironically the workers at these restaurants. They were ultimately those that had to change or lost jobs as the predicted lower actual pay and the extra costs drove away customers played out in the economy.

This is not to say that the tipping model is perfect. It certainly is not. But good intentions are NOT enough and certainly not enough to make industry-changing policy. Unintended consequences have very recently been showing the flaws of many poorly designed and implemented overly na√Įve activist policies.

Other first world countries like Europe and Japan manage to have very affordable food and restaurant experiences in the most expensive cities in the world without trading livability of employees. I have been surprised to find my meals in Paris, London, and Tokyo were often better, and cheaper, than many I have had in the US. Perhaps we should learn more about how their working systems operate instead of letting activist, who rarely have experience or training, legislate policy.

Shakespeare in the Park

Shakespeare in the Park

The Original Practice Shakespeare Festival puts on free Shakespeare plays in local Oregon parks. It’s quite a prolific group – they do multiple shows per week at a variety of local parks each summer. It appears the cast is volunteer and they do carry small scrolls in case they get lost but what they lack in technical skill they make up for in theatrics and good fun. So, it can be a somewhat rag-tag operation at times but it’s definitely a fun and cheap way to catch some Shakespeare.

Pumping your own gas in Oregon

Pumping your own gas in Oregon

After a 72 year ban on self-serve gas, despite it passing unilaterally through the Oregon house and senate, and despite the governor waffling and ‘wanting further input from citizens’ before signingas of today you can now pump your own gas in Oregon.

Don’t worry – local news is alway helping with instructions for scared residents that are sure this is what’s about to happen all over the state:

Original version on Imgur.

Mondo Croquet and Mad Hatter Party

Mondo Croquet and Mad Hatter Party

I ran across these guys in the park when I moved here 20 years ago. It looked like a Mad Hatter dinner party, so I pulled over. There were all these strange folks dressed in wacky clothes and playing croquet with bowling balls and sledgehammers. I watched for a bit and enjoyed talking and learning about these folks playing something they called Mondo Croquet.

Mondo Croquet is regular croquet, but with¬†bowling balls and sledgehammers. I noticed that they had a small pile of cracked open bowling balls, so it’s definitely a contact sport. It is also carried out with players wearing costumes and stylings of a late 1800’s English lawn or mad hatter style party.

It was started by Stephen Peters in 1997. Read more here in The Oregonian.

Anyway, they’ll be having their FREE annual 2023 Mondo Croquet World Championships and Mad Hatter Picnic this Sunday, July 30, 2023 from noon‚Äď4pm in the north park blocks.

Pull on your British Lawn Whites, your Ham Sammmich costume, your Spock ears or perhaps just your sunglasses and get ready to smack some balls.

What to bring?

  • something cold to drink
  • a chair to set a spell
  • a snack to share with the Mad Hatter Picnic

If you have one, a sledgehammer is handy, but we come equipped with enough hammers and bowling balls so no worries. In fact, you can just come and watch if you’d like.

We do suggest you can turbo-up your fun by dressing appropriately, or appropriately inappropriate. Need some suggestions? Check out past photos:

Snowy and isolated getaway shelters and cabins in Oregon

Snowy and isolated getaway shelters and cabins in Oregon

I wrote about a few remote and very primitive winter shelters in a previous post; but Travel Oregon seems to have come up with their own posting with a few new ones. I’ve collected those and also added a few others in this post.

As with all things, definitely call the ranger stations BEFORE planning a trip or you risk finding yourself at the end of a long day of travel only to be unable to access a shelter far, far from any accommodation. Forest fires, vandalism (very sadly), maintenance, and other reasons may have closed these particular shelters at any time. Calling the ranger stations before you go is mandatory as they can usually give you an update on conditions, risks in the area, etc. I know that Clear Lake Butte was closed for almost all of 2022 due to maintenance and damage. Some places have regular blacked-out days for volunteer work parties as well. Know before you go!

Near Pendleton:

Emigrant Springs State Heritage Area, about 25 miles east of Pendleton, offers travelers a much warmer way to spend the night. Each of the six rustic log cabins ‚ÄĒ equipped with bunk beds, a table and an outdoor propane stove ‚ÄĒ can sleep from three to five people.¬†Spend your days sledding or cross-country skiing at¬†Meacham Divide Sno-Park¬†a few miles east, one of the larger Nordic skiing areas, featuring more over 12 miles of groomed trails.¬†Book¬†here.

Mt Hood:

Clear Lake Butte Lookout Рaccessible from the Skyline Road Sno-Park. Book here.

Silcox Hut, is at 6,900 feet above Mt. Hood’s Timberline Lodge on the Palmer Snowfield. The hut sleeps up to two dozen people in six small bunk rooms. A fireplace warms a large room with hand-carved tables, where you’ll find buffet-style suppers of belly-warming fare and breakfasts with fruit and pastries. A special snow-going SUV or a snowcat can ferry you and your gear up to the hut, and groups must rent the entire building. Down in the main lodge, guests are free to use the sauna, spa and showers, too. Book here. The hut can sleep up to 24 people. Reservations can be made more than a year in advance.

Willamette Pass

Gold Lake Shelter, Bechtel,¬†Westview¬†and¬†Maiden Peak¬†shelters. Head to the Gold Lake Patrol Cabin at Gold Lake Sno-Park¬†near the¬†Willamette Pass¬†resort and pop up to the cabin. It’s office and overnight quarters for the¬†Willamette Backcountry Ski Patrol¬†volunteers, where you can pick up maps as well as a hot drink (but not spend the night). From there you can make your way 2 miles to the¬†Gold Lake Shelter, a three-sided warming hut with a sleeping loft, a wood stove and a picnic table. Other shelters in the area with sleeping lofts include the¬†Bechtel,¬†Westview¬†and¬†Maiden Peak¬†shelters.¬†

All of the huts are first-come, first-serve, although anyone wishing to spend the night must be accommodated. Open for overnight stays November 15 to April 30. Huts can comfortably sleep anywhere from four to a dozen or so people, and there’s no fee.

Here’s a hike/snowshoe route that hits a few of them.

There’s also a few other shelters listed here (South Waldo Shelter, Fuji Shelter) that can only really be reached by snowshoe or cross-country skiing in the winter.

Santiam Pass Area Shelters

Santiam pass area also has some warming huts/shelters – Mountain View Shelter and South Maxwell Snow Shelter are accessible from the Maxwell Sno-park.

Here’s a hike that hits both the Mountain View and South Maxwell shelters.

McCoy Snow Shelter is accessible via the McCoy Snowmobile Area.


Cornucopia Lodge & Packstation in the southern part of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. Book here. Reservations can be made more than a year in advance. Units sleep up to six people. Open year-round.

Run your own hotel in rural Oregon

Run your own hotel in rural Oregon

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department announced they are looking for a new manager for an eight room historic hotel in the far southeast corner of Oregon after current concessionaires announced their retirement. Originally built in 1917, the eight-room hotel has earned a place on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. The property also includes the four-room Drover’s Inn and a caretaker’s house.

I visited Frenchglen a few years back while staying at a cool ranch as well as spending time in the Steens Mountains, Alvord Desert, and visited Malheur National Wildlife Refuge (Go a little farther and you can also see Pueblo Mountains or Crane Hot Springs).

Saying it is remote and isolated is an understatement. The next city is almost an hour away. The ‘town’ of Frenchglen has a population of 12. It was absolutely beautiful open country though. It reminded me a lot of New Mexico. I even bought the mug. ūüėÄ

Officials said they‚Äôre looking for applicants with a business background who have experience in hotels and restaurants. They‚Äôre also looking for someone who can give the old hotel a modern touch, specifically with online reservations. The parks department is accepting proposals online until 2 p.m. on June 2, 2023.

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department said it is seeking 5% of revenue and $2,400 a month to maintain the property. Last year, the hotel brought in $418,770 in revenue, officials said.

Big Horse Ranch

Big Horse Ranch

I ran across two beautiful horses that were bought from the folks at Big Horse Station in Sisters, OR. They raise and rescue draft and draft-cross horses.

I always loved riding big draft horses. My favorite time was a 2 hour sunset beach ride on a big Belgian named Waffle – that was also ridden by Arnold Schwarzenegger when he was up in Astoria filming Kindergarten Cop.

Returned Lost Wallet Experiment

Returned Lost Wallet Experiment

Mark Rober did a fairly scientific self-run experiment where he sent 200 wallets around the country to be dropped in various cities then collect data on who returned them (if possible). He controlled for age, big cities vs small city size, gender, poor/rich, etc.

Summary: 2/3 of the wallets were returned, and of those 96% still had the money inside. He got lots of other interesting data, but I thought his summary was the most impressive:

Lately it seems like so much of what you see online is meant to stoke outrage at some group of people versus ourselves because that’s what gets shared. That begins to warp our perception that the only good people out there are those within our own group. But this data shows that across any age or gender or socio-economic background, across the whole religious spectrum through middle America and along the coast there are lots of good people everywhere.

Not only that, but they constitute a [very clear] MAJORITY. They didn’t call for some reward or Facebook likes or because they knew someone was watching. They did it because it was simply the right thing to do and I think that’s pretty cool and something worth remembering.

Things that didn’t seem to make a difference:

  • Gender – pretty much equal return rate after slightly method change.
  • Rich or poor areas – same return rate
  • Age – average age of person that returned the wallet was 36, which is pretty much the average age in the US. (Would be interesting to dig into the average age of persons who walk in these areas vs driving/etc. Old people probably don’t walk as much, kids under 7 probably don’t walk alone either. But I agree this is probably a fair representation.)
  • Religious* – 60% were returned by people who were religious vs 40% who were not. This largely matches the average city population, so he didn’t consider it statistically meaningful.

Things that did make a difference to at least some degree:

  • Small cities averaged better return rates than big cities
  • City itself – huge difference

Here’s the city results in order from best to worst:

  • Perfect (10/10 returns): Chicago, Salt Lake City
  • Good (9-7 returns): Nashua, ID, Hill City, SD, Portland, Parma, ID, Las Vegas
  • Middle (7-5 returned): San Francisco, Winnipeg, Washington DC, Huntsville, New London, Seattle, Los Angeles, Miami, Dallas, Edmonton
  • Worst cities for return rate (4 or under): Detroit and NYC