Every year for my birthday, I get a new pair of running shoes. With my current streak of 4,276 days, I travel nearly 1100 miles annually. Fresh tread has always been one of the keys to fewer injuries. The Brooks Glycerin model has been my choice for at least the last four years, as if they need my endorsement. It’s probably not politically correct here in Nike country, but these old feet need the extra cushioning. I ran this morning in these new shoes through the ghost-like atmosphere of downtown Portland. 

The Oregon air quality has apparently been the worst in the world these past few days. I wonder how many packs of cigarettes I’ve smoked of late? It burns my eyes and throat, but the streak-show must go on. Even the homeless have retreated to their tents, now covered with extra plastic, to avoid the caustic conditions. There were few others on the streets this morning. Yesterday, I made a reluctant trip to the Courthouse to check on a red light violation. There were none of the usual lines, considering the smoke and bombed-out appearance of the boarded-up building. A small sign on the plywood surrounded by spray paint indicated “public entrance.” I couldn’t even pay for parking because the glass touch-screen on the meter was cracked, and was sure that there would still be a ticket hassle. There were at least plenty of spots. 

Speaking of hassles, I had received a notice in the mail from a San Antonio law firm that I had an outstanding warrant on a $512 red-light violation and failure to appear from six-years ago. Ironically, they had to hire a Texas firm to find me here in Portland where I’ve been living for the last seven years. I was certainly not avoiding the ticket, because I was never aware of the camera that captured this criminal act. In fact, there were two violations within a two-week span at this same screwed-up intersection. I paid for one, thinking they were the same court-order. Since that time, they fixed the light that was certainly one of the city’s biggest revenue producers. It apparently suckered me twice!

My only recourse was to pay the fine and file a “Relief from Failure to Appear Judgement,” hoping to get a judge’s mercy for a partial refund. This seems unlikely considering the current legal backlog, and the fact that no one is working at the Courthouse that is at the epicenter of the 100-day long streak of Portland protests/riots. Only the tragic fire issues have been able to supersede the negative national coverage that our city has been receiving. Between the homeless camps, thick smoke, devastating destruction from the “peaceful” protests, graffiti, and security fencing, downtown Portland looks like war-time Beirut. 

I was glad to be able to support a struggling Portland merchant with my new shoe purchase yesterday. The shoes felt great on my feet, and got me through another day of the 11.6-year streak. The temperature was cool, a good sign that the weather pattern is shifting and fire-fighting concerns may become more favorable. There’s even rain in the forecast for next week. I appreciate the efforts of these forest-saving heroes, but extensive damage has already been done and lives lost. Riots, Fire, Virus…Oh My!