the grinch of july 4

I have a secret that I only share with certain people, which, as of this very posting is not-so-secret anymore. I mean, not that like 99.99% of people could give a hoot, but hey, I’m coming out anyway. So here goes: I hate fireworks. Almost as much as I hate smoking. Except, not quite as much. But almost.

Now that I’ve come out with this bold statement, I must retract a bit to clarify. I don’t hate ALL fireworks. In fact, back when I was a young, silly lad-ette, I had the pleasure on more than one occasion of fighting the 10 gajillion people on the National Mall in the sweltering humidity that typically defines the 4th of July in the nation’s capital to see the annual spectacle in the sky. And, even though you couldn’t have paid me a similar amount of money to fight those crowds after I got older and had “been there, done that,” like so many things I experienced during my time as a Washingtonian, I’m very happy to have had the opportunity to see it. I even have positive memories of fireworks shows at a local park when growing up in the now, as of this past week, largest-city-in-America-to-ever-go-bankrupt Stockton, Calif. I’m guessing the city doesn’t host those fireworks shows anymore…

But now as Portlander, my experience with fireworks is defined by all the average Joe’s who like to start shooting off their down-the-road-fireworks-stand devices starting about a week before the 4th, lasting until about a week after. I especially love when I’m jolted out of a deep sleep by the shocking “pow, pow!” of distant neighbors who decide it’s only fun to shoot off fireworks in the middle of the night. (Preferably the night before I have to get up super early or have some big meeting.) Plus, think of all the poor pets out there who spend the 4th and the surrounding nights buried underneath their owners’ beds for fear of not knowing when they are going to feel as though they’ve been put in the middle of war zone. And last, but most certainly not least, what makes me the most frustrated is waking up the morning after the 4th and hearing the stories of fireworks-related calls the night before that, at best, were simply a drain on taxpayer resources and at worst, caused injury or heaven forbid, death.

I mean, not to be a total Debbie Downer because I know that they can be fun…but at what cost? Starting accidental fires? Injuring children? Scaring pets and little kids to death? There are a few things in life that I find little need for in this world, and I have to say that home-use fireworks are one of them. They are annoying. They are dangerous. And, ultimately, in my opinion they are an unnecessary risk. To summarize, let’s just say that I would not lose any sleep (in fact, dare I say I would likely gain some sleep?) if someday all but permitted, professional fireworks’ shows became illegal. So there – now I’ve said it.

Happy Independence Day. (And to my mom, Happy Birthday!) Now, can someone please pass the barbecue chicken and watermelon?


when good kitties turn bad

I know that anyone reading this who knows our beloved cat, Zach, is already questioning how I could refer to this cat as “good” but I swear, he is. I mean, he does have that little problem of hissing at people, but he’s just very finicky. And, he only likes very certain people. Like, people named Jeff, Melinda, Elena and Ian. With the last name Burpo. And even then, yes, he can sometimes be a little finicky with us. Like, when he’s coming down from a half of a pill a night of his Prozac to a quarter of a pill a night. (Which we recently decided to do in an attempt to bring him out of his zombie-like state, as convenient as it was to have him spending 24/7 under the bed upstairs.)

The key is that when you are as close to Zach as we are, you learn to recognize when he’s in “one of those” moods. And, you just back off. He’s happy. We’re happy. No one gets hurt. So, why is it that I forgot this simple rule of the Burpo household last night? Was it the extra-large plate of delicious Southern food at Screen Door, followed by the banana whipped cream pie? Or, was it the mint julep and wine? Or, was it the exhaustion that overcame me after we concluded watching True Grit at home after dinner? It’s hard to say which affected me most, but for whatever reason, I forgot the rules of Life with Zach.

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flashback friday

I decided a few days ago that Fridays at would be reserved for flashbacks – or a look back at old pictures or a repost of previous “banters,” if you will. I did this for two reasons: 1) Because I’m guessing it’s rare that I’ll be motivated to write a full post on Friday nights and 2) I thought it might be fun. For me at least.

That said, first allow me to say that today was quite a nice day. And I mean that literally, to begin with. After several days of gloomy, somewhat chilly weather, we had one of those days today that we live for in Portland…high 70s and not a cloud in the sky, and of course no humidity (sorry east coasters). Picture perfect, really. And it’s supposed to be that way through the weekend. This afternoon I was invited to spend some time out and about in the zoo touring the construction site for our new Veterinary Medical Center that is scheduled to open in December. It’s one of the first projects that has been undertaken within the bond program. And, wow. It’s going to be such a great, state-of-the-art facility that, like all else the zoo is planning for the future, is pushing the envelope in terms of how we care for the animals. It’s pretty cool.

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culture shock

When you’ve spent most of your career working for public relations agencies in Washington, D.C. – or really – doing anything in Washington, D.C., there’s bound to be a certain amount of culture shock when you start a job not only at a zoo, but a zoo in Portland.

Six months in, there are still so many days when something happens and I think, “Wow, am I really at work right now?” Like today when I’m at my desk and we start hearing a loud quacking-like sound. And your first thought is, “Is that a…a…duck?” Why yes, it is. Just a duck in the office. That’s normal, right? Or, the line of six-year-olds who stroll through with their camp counselors. That’s normal, right? Or, the teens having a meeting in the conference room across from my area who are giggling like, well, a bunch of teenagers. That’s normal, right?

Then there are the times like yesterday when you have on your Outlook calendar something like: Zoomer training, 11am – 12pm; please bring your driver’s license. What is a Zoomer, you ask?

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