Portland's Blinker (And My Blinker Too)

It was a particularly foggy night in Portland, and a bright green glow shined over the city. In fact it was the only thing that could be seen in the darkness.

And then it was gone.

And then it was back?

And then it was gone.

And then I thought "WTF?"

And then the light was back again.

And then more WTF.

And then, I heard what can only be described as a 'coo.'

I was at the beginning of a new and serious yet short-lived relationship with a woman who was, at that moment, in my bed. And she was naked. And she'd just realized that I'd become preoccupied with something while fetching a glass of water.

Naked woman in my bed? "Unless the strange glow seemingly hovering over Portland is signaling the aliens to attack," I thought, "that thing can wait."

Ah, but what if it was doing exactly that? What other reasonable explanation could there be for downtown to be blinking green from high, yet not that high, above?


The light can wait!

I'd say there was no sign of the source of the light in the morning, but that's a lie. In that early moment before sunshine would soon fill the room, the woman in my bed was still naked, and I was lying next to her. The only light I paid any attention to that morning was the glow on each of our faces, marking the dawn of a relationship in bloom.

I found the source of the light the next night. It was a beacon on top of a building roughly six blocks away. And it was blinking again, but this time, it was white.

I can't help noticing patterns. Even though I didn't understand what the light was doing, I wanted to know why it was doing it. But, much like a psycho ex-girlfriend, some things are not easily understood.

On most evenings, the light was green. Occasionally, it would be white. Every now and then, it would glow bright red that I'd managed to convince myself wasn't at all creepy. Sometimes, the light would blink. Other times, it wold glow steadily through the night.

My girlfriend's patterns were equally mysterious. Some nights, she'd be hot. Other nights, cold. Occasionally, she'd be on an even keel. And, often, it felt like she too was blinking. On, off. On, off. On, but soon to go off.

"WT... WT... WTF!!!"

Eventually, a friend helped me solve the mystery of my girlfriend's blinking, and I must say, it turned out to be rather obvious. "Dude, she's nuts."

When I could stand her blinking no more, the relationship ended, but I knew there would be no end to the mystery of the blinking light in the sky until I marched over to the building to ask what the heck was going on up there.

The mystery of that blinking turned out to be obvious as well.

"Dude, it's a weather light."

As those words escaped the building's security guard's mouth, along with coffee breath that could stop a truck, I realized just how many Californians there are in Portland, which isn't really relevant to what I'm writing about, but I find it noteworthy nonetheless.

The Portland Weather Light (sometimes referred to as the Portland Weather Beacon) has sat on top of the Standard Building (also known as the Plaza Building) since 1963, but most Portlanders don't seem to even know it exists. It looks like nothing more than a light on top of a building, and if it weren't for the colors and patterns, that's all it would be.

What Does It Mean?

The light represents a prediction of what the weather will be like in the coming day, compared to the day that just ended.

Red: It'll be warmer (think: red hot).
White: It'll be colder (think: ice cold).
Green: The temperature will be roughly the same as it was.

And the Blinking? ...that means it's going to rain.

In short:
Weather? Yes.
Aliens? No.
Girlfriend? Definitely not.

::::: | Saturday, Oct 22 2011 at 9:55 AM
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