Oregon Local News

Firefighters extinguish blaze at apparently vacant S.W. Portland house
A large amount of furniture and other items being stored made extinguishing a fire in a Southwest Portland home difficult for Portland Fire & Rescue crews early Sunday. Kristi Turnquist | The Oregonian/OregonLive
Saudis reject threats as stocks plunge after Trump comments
American lawmakers have threated sanctions against the Saudis, and Germany, France and Britain jointly called on Sunday for a "credible investigation" into the disappearance and suspected murder of a journalist. The Associated Press
Knute Buehler's bid to be Oregon governor is decades in the making
Oregon Republican gubernatorial candidate Knute Buehler said 30 years ago he wanted to combine the hands-on work of medicine with the reach of political office, and he has. Hillary Borrud | The Oregonian/OregonLive

The Stump

Readers respond: Vote with intention
I think we all realize how important this next election is -- in Oregon and in the country at large. We need action on climate change. We need support for universal health care and education. We need to come together... Letters to the editor
Readers respond: Nuanced solutions lost in partisan rift
Much of our political debate, from local online commentary to congressional soundbites, is presented as extreme binary choices. For example, you can choose to open America to more immigrants and refugees, or you can care about protecting America from terrorists... Letters to the editor
Readers respond: Portland's booming homelessness industry
Now Portland State University is getting in on the homeless boom ("Portland State invests $3 million to research homelessness, 'smart cities'," Oct. 1). Homelessness in Portland has become its own industry. Next come government grants to study the problem. But... Letters to the editor

Columbian Newspaper

Are restaurants too loud? Ins, outs of dining acoustics
Author: Grace Wong, Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — When Pacific Standard Time opened in April, it was one of the city’s buzziest openings, but to actually eat there was almost deafening.

“I was able to step back and say this is the biggest issue with the restaurant,” partner Joshua Tilden said. “It wasn’t the food, it wasn’t the service, (but) I thought this problem was easily rectifiable.”

In a city where bustling restaurants often mean noisy dining experiences, patrons like Claudia Fariello Bolnick, 71, of Streeterville find themselves increasingly frustrated with their inability to have conversations with family and friends. Fariello Bolnick said she’s noticed the issue isn’t unique to Chicago — other cities she’s visited have similarly loud volume issues.

While she considers Chicago a “fabulous restaurant city,” she believes diners’ experiences could be more pleasant if restaurants considered their volume.

“Some people have told us if we go at 5 o’clock, we can have a nice experience, but we don’t like to eat at 5 o’clock. We’re not that old!” Fariello Bolnick said. “How (restaurants) can be so shortsighted to put it (low) on the priorities list is amazing to me.”

The Acoustical Society of America is launching a subcommittee to explore this issue, while other organizations like Consumer Reports and Zagat have also conducted studies, concluding that the ability to hold a conversation is more important to patrons than previously thought.

Noisy restaurants aren’t always bad — sometimes it’s even preferred, and creating a lively atmosphere requires a certain level of noise, Tilden said. But it’s about getting the right amount that’s key.

Tilden originally took a do-it-yourself attitude to fix the noise issue at Pacific Standard Time, laying out rugs and installing carpet beneath tables. But the restaurant remained loud. The only next step was to hire an audio engineer. A few sound-wave tests later, the restaurant installed soundproofing methods that were both effective and fit with the design.

“It’s made a world of a difference,” Tilden said. “You can hear conversations now. You can hear the music now. And guests’ comfort is something that’s really important to all of us. It felt good to finally get a solution in place.”

In an ideal situation, sound would be one of the highest priorities and taken into account during the design process, said David Paoli, an acoustical engineer at Shiner Acoustics. Sound absorption is the key to a good-sounding restaurant because it reduces the noisy din that can often be created by both the materials in the restaurant and the patrons themselves.

Hard surfaces like wood, concrete, steel and brick are remediated by soft, porous materials that absorb the sound waves frantically bouncing off everything in a restaurant. Stephen Blake, architectural and contract territory manager with Armstrong World Industries, which provides consultations and products for noise control for commercial spaces and homes, said that sound-absorbing tiles and “blades” (or panels) help to absorb these sound waves and prevent them from bouncing around.

Many sound abatement companies offer products like sound blades made with a fiberglass or mineral fiber core as the main absorption material. The blades are covered by a soft fabric that is acoustically transparent, meaning the sound waves pass through to the core material, and installed in ceilings, a space’s largest unobstructed surface area.

“Without sound absorption, spaces get noisy,” Paoli said. “When you’re talking and you want to be heard, you have to raise your voice, and before you know it, it’s very loud.”

When sound engineers go into a space, they measure reverb time, a measurement of how long it takes for sound energy to dissipate, Blake said. Restaurants with hard surfaces like the previously mentioned concrete and brick may seem to have normal volume until patrons start coming in and add to the sound energy. With nowhere to go, sound bounces off hard surfaces, subtly causing people to raise their voices, creating a din.

This is often observed when a restaurant has been constructed without sound absorption techniques and products. Applying sound abatement strategies after a restaurant is already finished is much more difficult and expensive than taking it into consideration from the start, Paoli said. Simply put, it tends to cost less to incorporate acoustics into the design than it does to retrofit them in a space that’s already operating.

“Unfortunately, something like noise might be enough for someone to not come back,” said Daisies chef-owner Joe Frillman, who is installing sound abatement measures in his Logan Square restaurant.

“It all comes down to aesthetics,” Paoli said. “We consult the architectural community, and they know who we are. But a lot of times, it comes down to budget and (does the restaurant) want to spend the money on our service or try to do it themselves?”

Tilden agreed, saying that in a perfect world, sound would be a higher priority, but in reality, most opening restaurants are “under the gun” to hit a certain budget. Acoustic design can get pushed to the side.

“In order to get it done right, it costs a lot of money,” Tilden said. “It’s not like we’re in an extremely lucrative profession as is, so I think every dollar counts before you open. If I had to make assumptions on why it’s not done more often, that’s probably it.”

After consulting with an audio engineer and finding a solution that would also mesh with the design of the restaurant, the Pacific Standard Time team settled on a product that could be sprayed on and matched with the stucco walls. And because the ceilings are high, the material is barely noticeable once the sun begins to set.

However, this may only be a short-term solution, Blake said. Spray-on material tends to degrade fairly quickly, Blake said, and after about 30 years, it can even disintegrate.

“You don’t want that over your food,” Blake said. “It’s good and effective stuff, but like everything, it has its pros and cons.”

Noise pollution app

For Gregory Scott, who has hearing loss and lives in New York, it became near impossible to go on dates at a restaurant simply because he couldn’t hear the person he was with. He had to check online reviews and ask friends about the quiet spots around town.

He began compiling a list of places that he would share with other people who had the same concerns. Before long, he created Soundprint, an app billed as “like Yelp, but for sound.” Using one’s iPhone (Android options are being explored), people can measure sound in a restaurant, bar or cafe with a decibel meter, and the crowdsourced measurements are shown on a map. Users can look at the app and immediately see where quiet and loud businesses are located by the crowdsourced score, allowing them to decide whether it’s an establishment they’d like to visit.

“(The app is raising) noise pollution awareness,” Scott said. “(Noise pollution is) an epidemic, and we’re making ourselves deaf. Places are getting louder and louder, and people think it’s normal. We want to raise awareness on what is a safe environment to have conversation in.”

Soundprint is now in such major metropolitan areas as Chicago, New York, Las Vegas, Nashville and New Orleans. Scott has worked with restaurants in some of these areas to find solutions to their noise problems.

Loud venues are also dangerous for employees who work for long periods of time, Scott said, and he hopes restaurants won’t see the app as an attack, but rather a quantifiable way to assess their noise levels.

Actors enjoy spending time with horse co-stars
Author: Sonia Rao, The Washington Post

If you met Liam Neeson, would you ever forget him? No? Neither did this horse.

While at the New York Film Festival recently, Neeson marveled at how the animal who pulls his character’s wagon in the upcoming Coen brothers Western “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” remembered the actor from a previous project. The horse pawed the ground upon seeing Neeson again. He whinnied.

“You won’t believe it,” the actor said, per Page Six. “I’m saying this horse knew me. He actually remembered me from another Western we made a while back. I love animals. When we worked together before I took special care of him. I fed him treats. Gave him apples.”

But we do believe you, Mr. Neeson, for your touching tale is just one of several recently shared by famous actors who bonded with their neighing co-stars. Horses remember humans by their body language and the emotions they elicit, according to equine science journalist Christa Leste-Lasserre. Positive encounters lead to positive memories, and negative ones lead to a grudge-holding horse.

“If you’re talking about Liam Neeson, and he says there’s a horse from a previous set that remembers him, I’m sure that’s absolutely true,” Leste-Lasserre told The Washington Post. “If there’s food involved, they’re going to connect. (But) the food alone isn’t enough. If you have a peaceful, gentle person who just evokes a kindness through the body language he or she gives, the horse is going to read that.”

That certainly sounds like Neeson, a dulcet-toned man once described by Vanity Fair as “a mighty tree in the autumn of life.” He cared for horses on his aunt’s farm in Northern Ireland as a young man, according to Men’s Journal, so it all kind of makes sense.

Russell Crowe wants you to know that he is also chummy with horses. After writer Anne T. Donahue quote-tweeted the Page Six story about Neeson — “this is the love story our generation deserves,” she wrote — Crowe then quote-tweeted that and deemed her comment “absolutely true.”

“There’s a horse George who I gave the speech in the forest in Gladiator on,” he continued. “Years later he was on the set of Robin Hood and we would have a chat everyday. Same with the white horse Rusty in Robin Hood we chatted again on Les Mis. Lifelong friends.” (Looks like Rusty, like Jean Valjean, did not forget Javert.)

Crowe admires the horses’ actorliness, writing in a reply to a follower that he has “fallen in love” with most of the horses he’s worked with: “It takes a certain temperament to be a great movie horse, but believe me they know when it’s show time and that they are in show biz. The best Horse Masters value their contribution beyond money.”

Jeff Daniels, on the other hand, seems to have fared worse in this arena. Last month, while accepting an Emmy Award for outstanding supporting actor in a limited series or movie, the “Godless” actor gave young actors a tip: Don’t ever lie and say you know how to ride a horse.

“You will find on day one, you’re in the Kentucky Derby,” Daniels said.

He then thanked Apollo, the horse who put up with his inexperience — for a bit, anyway. Apollo allegedly threw Daniels off thrice, the last time resulting in a broken wrist.

“He was Jeff Bridges’ horse on ‘True Grit,’ and I felt he was making unfair comparisons,” he joked. Perhaps he should have given Apollo a carrot.

Some other horse men — the natural “horse girl” equivalent — are as follows: James Stewart, who called his horse Pie “one of the best co-stars I ever had.” John Wayne, whose movie horse Dollor was adopted after the actor’s death by a Texas woman who said the horse was “a movie legend just as much as John Wayne was.” Robert Redford, a literal horse whisperer who reportedly rescued an abandoned animal while in New Zealand for “Pete’s Dragon.” Viggo Mortensen, who bought some of the horses he worked with on “Lord of the Rings” and one named TJ from “Hidalgo.”

“It wasn’t a question of possessing the horse, I just wanted to keep up the relationship with (TJ),” Mortensen told Entertainment Weekly years ago. “He’s unusually intelligent, possessed, and calm for a stallion. He’d never been on a movie set, and for him to perform all those tricks and fall down and then stay down while there’s a camera crew around was incredible.”

Plus Elizabeth Taylor, a horse woman who was gifted her “National Velvet” co-star King Charles.

These folks treat the horses like the great actors they are. So maybe that means great actors should be treated like … horses? Clint Eastwood seems to think so. While promoting Eastwood’s 2016 film “Sully” on “The Graham Norton Show,” star Tom Hanks said the director uses a soft voice when he’s in charge — similar to how directors on his 1960s TV show “Rawhide” would have to speak to prevent the horses from bolting.

“When you’re in a Clint Eastwood movie, you don’t even know the camera’s rolling,” Hanks said. “You just hear over your shoulder, ‘Alright, go ahead.'”

We have yet to learn whether Hanks received any apples.

‘I’ve got faith’: Potential aluminum workers wait on jobs
Author: ADAM BEAM, Associated Press

ASHLAND, Ky. — Things fall through for Chris Jackson.

A construction job, promised if he completed a carpentry program, vanished two weeks before his exit exam. A coveted, $100,000-a-year union job at a steel mill disappeared when the plant closed.

Now a businessman is promising him — and more than 130 others — a job at an aluminum mill in eastern Kentucky if he can complete a two-year degree program with at least a B average and no positive drug tests. But the mill is not built, and its financing is not complete. It’s a big risk for Jackson, a 41-year-old who turned down two other jobs hundreds of miles away for the chance to stay in his hometown.

It’s also a risk for Kentucky taxpayers. The state has offered its usual package of economic incentives to the company, Braidy Industries. But in a rare move, the state legislature unanimously approved a $15 million investment in the project, making taxpayers partial owners of the mill. Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, seeking re-election in 2019, has touted the project as evidence of his leadership to bring jobs to Appalachia, where steady work that pays well has been hard to find.

But what has been touted as a sure thing has recently shown signs of uncertainty. In a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, company officials revealed they haven’t raised enough money yet to complete construction. They need another $400 million to $500 million. And while a website touting the company’s stock offering notes “200 percent of the mill’s capacity for the next seven years has been reserved,” the SEC filing says prospective buyers are not “contractually committed.”

It’s enough to worry Jackson, who says his future depends on the mill.

“All my friends and family know I have put 110 percent into Braidy,” said Jackson, who said his tuition is paid for by a federal program to help unemployed workers. “Everyone starts questioning you, whether you made the right decision.”

Company officials warned skeptics not to jump to conclusions based on their SEC filing, which is required to include a section on risks for investors. And they said it is “commonly understood” in the business world that sales at this stage of development are “nonbinding commitments to purchase.”

Craig Bouchard, Braidy’s CEO, said he feels the pressure, too. He said the No. 1 reason he chose Ashland was not because the GOP-controlled legislature passed a “right-to-work” law that banned mandatory union dues from employees. He said he chose Ashland primarily because it and the surrounding area were filled with eager workers. Of the likely 600 jobs available, he said the company has received 7,000 applications.

“I wake up, literally every single morning with 10,000 families riding on my shoulders and it’s the most important thing in my life, my career,” he said.

One of those people is 24-year-old Holly Miller, who lives in nearby Ironton, Ohio. She started working when she was 16 in the cafeteria of a Christian university and has since bounced between retail and restaurant jobs. She’s now in the two-year degree program for future Braidy workers. It will cost her at least $11,000, which she is paying with a mix of financial aid and her own money. She goes to class during the day, then works at Sam’s Club from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. She says she sleeps an hour in the morning and an hour at night.

“Everything is really riding on (Braidy),” she said. “I mean, our whole livelihoods are riding on it.”

Bouchard says the company has 45 employees and will expand to about 80 by the end of the year, with most of the 600 workers being hired next year. He insisted the company was on schedule to begin production in 2020.

Hiring pot executives now less about stigma, more about legality
Author: Jeff Green and Craig Giammona, Bloomberg

Mainstream executives want in on the cannabis craze.

That’s not surprising, with the value of some Canadian pot businesses topping $10 billion and Coca-Cola Co. and Molson Coors Brewing Co. eyeing marijuana as the next trendy ingredient. But the burgeoning industry faces a unique hurdle: Pot is still illegal at the national level in the U.S. — the world’s biggest consumer market.

As Canada prepares to legalize weed this week, and regulations loosen in some U.S. states, there’s growing demand for experienced executives to take leadership roles and help startup companies create the next generation of pot products. Yet, the federal ban in the U.S. has created a legal minefield for headhunters trying to find enough bodies to meet demand.

“Getting started in cannabis is probably a lot like when Prohibition ended in the 1930s,” said Catherine Van Alstine, who recruits executives for the industry as a partner in Vancouver for search company Boyden. “Everybody thought the world was going to end because alcohol was going to become available and legitimate. That’s the way to think about cannabis.”

The latest flashpoint for recruiters: threats from U.S. Customs officials of potential lifetime bans for Canadians employed in the pot business trying to enter the U.S. That’s forced some executives in Canada to reconsider taking board seats or executive roles at marijuana companies. And search firms are fielding questions from U.S. business leaders as well, who are concerned about the implications of being tied to corporate cannabis.

Financial opportunity

The tension is complicating hiring for Gabriella’s Kitchen, a packaged-food company that’s adding a line with cannabis-infused products for sale in California, Chief Executive Officer Margot Micallef said. The Calgary-based company retained three search firms, including Boyden, to help it fill posts such as chief operating officer and vice president of development and will soon seek a chief financial officer, she said. Most of its sales are in the U.S., and the company has a manufacturing facility in Santa Rosa, Calif., she said.

“The roles that we are hiring for are all U.S. positions,” Micallef said, partly because of the border risk and lack of support from Canada’s government. “The result of that might be that Canadians don’t get offered positions that they might otherwise have been qualified for.”

Even without Canadians, Micallef said there’s been no shortage of people reaching out to show interest in the positions, particularly from the packaged goods and alcohol industries.

Harris Damashek had no reservations about changing careers. Still, he was aware of the stigma and waited two months to tell his mother he’d left Anheuser-Busch InBev SA to become chief marketing officer at Acreage Holdings, a New York-based cannabis company that counts John Boehner as an adviser.

At the beer giant, Damashek worked in the unit responsible for tracking consumer trends and investing in small, fast-growing businesses. He broached the idea of the company getting into cannabis, but left after the proposal was rejected, he said. The boom in the Canadian stock market and interest from big consumer companies are helping legitimize the field, he said.

“That stigma is being replaced by titillation that this is a big financial opportunity,” Damashek said.

Legal U.S. employment in the industry is expected to double by 2022 from about 160,000 this year, according to the publication Marijuana Business Daily. Thousands of jobs are also expected to be added in Canada in coming years.

Ahead of Canadian legalization, the value of the industry there has surged to about $60 billion in the stock market, with shares spiking on any mention of cannabis. Canada’s government has estimated annual legal pot sales of roughly $3.1 billion annually.