Wednesday, December 31, 2008

More Wells Fargo

(As an ongoing rant about my despised {former} banking relationship...)

Sorry to keep on about this issue with Wells Fargo, but it seems that significant credit reduction is quite pervasive with this bank from the many people I spoke to - both bankers and business colleagues. On the bright side, this is quite the boon for the smaller local banks, like WECU (where I transferred my account to today), and other small businesses that seem to be flocking in droves. It brought me peace today to sever my ties with Wells Fargo and have the manager cut up my debit and credit cards in front of me and dispose of them.

On a similar note, it is unfortunate that over the years the SBA funds dried up to become virtually nil, other banking business lines of credit have dried up entirely, and banks have basically forced the small business owner to rely extensively upon (highly profitable) credit cards for their working capital needs. Fortunately, this doesn't impact me, but I do feel sorry for the millions of small businesses trying to make ends meet, and I've worked with many relying upon credit cards to fund expenses during tough times. Again, I think the situation is going to get far, far worse before it get better.

But at least the large banks (like Wells Fargo) get to shore up their balance sheets at the expense of taxpayers. A rough calculation is $125 per taxpayer for Wells Fargo alone for this round ($3,500 per taxpayer for all these large banks looking for handouts from the government). But at least I did write to both Senators today (to be followed up with phone calls), and I bitched all day to anyone that would listen/ So although my battle is not over on my crusade against WF, I hope to at least bury it on this web log.

Sorry, no pictures tonight. It's closing in n New Years (it already is on the East Coast) and I need to get rolling.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Wells Fargo

(as a follow up to yesterday's quasi-rant...)

Okay so I didn't get singled out by Wells Fargo because of my crummy 740 credit score. A business owner friend of mine was also downsized on his WF credit card. I wouldn't be surprised if they systematically reviewed all accounts in a defensive move in these turbulent times to reduce their credit exposure across the board.

And in actuality, I really don't care that my credit card's limit was reduced by 74% even though I haven't been late on any payment in the last decade - not even an electric bill. Come to think of it, I don't even use this card. It's in the drawer somewhere with the activation sticker still on it. But I will gain much satisfaction in telling the banker at Wells Fargo to go f*ck themselves when I break the card up in little pieces in front of them (the last time I did that was at Mellon Bank in Pittsburgh in 1992 - oh , what a good feeling that was), and then close my business checking account and go over to open an account WECU. And to contact Senator Murray or Cantwell to bitch to them how effectively Wells Fargo is easing their credit standards. God, I hate banks.

And what further pisses me off, is the fact that my tax dollars went to subsidize banks like Wells Fargo (specifically to the tune of $25 billion for this bank alone, maybe more for the highest bank bailout per share of assets) in order to keep the economy afloat by keeping credit flowing to small businesses (such as myself). Or so we were told. What a bunch of dumb asses Americans are to by into this. More corporate welfare that will never make it to Main Street, but instead line the pockets of banking executives. The banking system has failed the consumer, although I did read how the profits of the five largest banks over the past three years are equal to the loan write offs they anticipate taking this year. It is so nice to privatize reward and nationalize risk. I wonder what they call this type of economics? Neoliberalism-cum-socialism? Looks more like crony capitalism to me.

Enough ranting. Oh, and I think the picture was taken a few weeks ago in the really cold weather. That's about the only time it's not cloudy here in the winter. The clouds keep a lid on the warmer air.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Banks

It's good to be back in Bellingham amidst the clouds, cold and drizzle. One thing I found quite odd about Arcata was the lack of people doing things outside. There were virtually no cyclists (or kayakers, hikers, surfers, etc.) even though they have a great cycling infrastructure, and the ocean and mountains are right there. But there are always an overabundance of people out and about here in Bellingham - whether on foot or on bike - and I am always glad to return to my single-speed bike and bing out in the weather. Cycling does wonders for both my body and soul.

I did enjoy the warm weather in Humboldt County and it's always to good to get out of town for a few days, especially having temporarily severed my ties to all things technological, although I do return to town realizing there is much work to be done for the next few months in my work life.

And I am glad to see our government is helping out so effectively with their solution to the credit crisis. Whatever they are doing seems to be working wonders, as my Wells Fargo business card was recently reduced from a credit line of $13,000 down to $3,500. Fortunately, this was the final straw in closing this account and my business checking account with Wells Fargo. I never carried a balance on that account anyway. I could only imagine if I did not have excellent credit. Yeah, I thikn the small businessman is screwed. I've said it many times before, but we haven't seen the worst of the credit crisis. At lest the banking industry will continue to profit handsomely from our taxpayer subsidization of it.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Arcata


This was in an interesting vehicle to pass on the Interstate while leaving the snow last Sunday somewhere in the middle of Oregon. It’s got a goat in the back of an old Chevy Luv pickup. I hope we didn’t offend the occupant of the truck. I saw the goat and pulled over only to let it pass and get another picture of it. Today is the last full day in Arcata and tomorrow we begin the trip north again.

Being without Inter net is not all bad, as it allowed me to relax quite a bit, and realize that the world can get by without my incessant e-mails. So far (and for some odd feeling) Arcata reminds me sort of like Bar Harbor, Maine and also like Oxford, Mississippi.

I’ve gotta run right now, as I am getting a ride from the coffee shop at one p.m. and we are going own to the beach in the light drizzle of this neat little town.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Redwods

A two-day blitz through the Redwoods from Arcata down to San Francisco (and Oakland) for business and pleasure. (Since I had a rental car I was able to explore the city much more than normal, although I am not big big fan of big city driving anymore.)

Seven hours down and less than five back over the course of thirty six hours was a bit much, but still exhilerating. The Redwoods Highway is beautiful and mysterious, but unfortunately I was not able to stop as much as I'd like. And the rain added to the aura of the ride home. I felt like Bigfoot could step out of the massive trees touching the narrow highway. But the rental car was surprisingly agile - a sporty Chevy Cobalt with Pirelli P6's - and that made the drive a bit more enjoyable, although I am not, by any means, an aggressive or fast driver in these days.

But back in Arcata for a few days and looking forward to doing nothing. The rain in California far warmer than that of Bellingham, although the temperatures and winds (currently) are far more mild. It feels like Bellingham in May.

A cacophony of thoughts in my head, but they are difficult to transform to words in this enchanted part of the country. The picture, by the way, was taken from the Google Images.

Oh, and Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Humboldt

Here is a picture showing how harrowingly cold it can get when the wind whips down from the Fraser Valley.

So the trip from Bellingham entailed three hundred miles of treacherous icy roads. No ice storm is complete without an SUV on its roof or a jackknifed tractor trailer, so these two events seemed to end this lengthy ordeal.

But in Salem, Oregon, the roads abruptly cleared and the rest of the trip to Arcata was quite pleasant. Leaving the interstate after hours and hours, and on to the Redwood Highway – US 199 – that merged on the coast with US101, from Crescent City down into Arcata. I look forward to traveling this during the day. I traveled this route once before in 2006, and considering that was with my ex-wife, it’s always nice to replace memories associated with lost love with fresher ones.

But Arcata is a bastion of liberalism that is tucked away into the sleepy northern California Coast. Of course, there is the enclave of retirees that move in. From what I understand, Arcata, is not too much different than Bellingham, where people move from somewhere sunny and warm and decide after three years or so that they just can’t get used to the chilly damp weather. At least the winds were a bit warmer coming off the ocean.

But this morning I am in partly cloudy San Francisco answering e-mails near the panhandle off Haight Street. I thought that I would drive down from Arcata for some meetings since it’s only a few hours away. Upon returning to Humboldt County, I hope to relax for a few days and do nothing. From what I’ve seen, it has the same vibe as Bellingham.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

South

The cold weather brings out all types in Bellingham. This picture was taken from The Herald.

Not much to say. A day getting ready to drive south with another nasty storm system passing through. We hope to leave town around 3a.m. and hopefully be in rain by the time it really gets nasty. But there will be snow in Seattle, ice in Portland, and rain south into coastal California. And right now, it's twenty-five degrees warmer there. Time to sleep for awhile.

I do not know when I will write next.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Mt. Something

Here's a picture that a friend took last week or maybe two weeks ago. He's not sure if it was Mount Baker or not, so he called it Mount Something. Many people are heading up to the mountain to ride and ski, and the conditions seem quite nice. Someday I will make it there, as I skied quite a bit in Lake Tahoe (about thirty times each season) but became spoiled by living less than five minutes from the Stagecoach Lift versus having to drive over an hour.

Last night I did something I hadn't done in decades, and that was buying some albums to play on my turntable that I hadn't used since I acquired this stereo (which includes a seventies vintage Yamaha turntable) a year ago. So I bought some old Jackson Browne LPs, as I 've never listened to him in depth although I've always respected him as a musician. One was Late for the Sky; the other The Pretender. Oh, and I also bought Ace, by Bob Weir. All for $10.30 - my Christmas present to myself.

Off to California early tomorrow morning, so I don't know whe I will write next. Many of my dayligt hours will be spent driving south on I-5.

"Going where the climate suits my clothes..."

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dark


I sit here typing at the Public Market and look up to see a sky turned black versus the grey that I saw seemingly moments ago.

Another day, and more corporate welfare. I would bet the farm that the concept of an 'orderly' bankruptcy (of the US automakers) would be to shed their pension plans and health care benefits for current and ex-employees. Great, let the taxpayers subsidize these corporations by passing these pensions off to the already overburdened PBGC. )I wonder why there hasn't been much talk about this federal agency recently? They should go broke right around the time Medicare does.)

Basically when a corporation goes bankrupt and reorganizes, things like pensions just disappear off the balance sheets and get absorbed by the government. They continue to produce crappy cars that no on ewnats to buy, and die a slow death. At least management will continue their posh existence for a few more years and will have time cash out their options.

I read where GM has something like $9,000 in HR costs built into each new Volt it projects selling. Some can blame the unions. Some can blame exorbitant health care costs. But it's a fact in today's economy that we can expect less and less from our employers in terms of any security or ongoing commitment. Good or bad, it's a fact of life. We are on our own. I guess that's progress.

My idyllic (albeit somewhat tainted) worldview envisions a world where open source car could each be modified to meet individual tastes and function. Maybe in a capitalist country, but not in the US where taxpayers keep the ailing dinosaurs on life support versus investing in cutting edge (and high growth) emerging technologies in transportation. I can personally tell you that there is no money out there for start-ups. Too bad we weren't a rusting, old, tired company looking for a handout.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Snow

3"-6" of snow cripples Bellingham. Most of the time it melts quickly, but some times it lingers for days and days and with a coating of ice underneath can make things a bit precarious. But without the gripping wind from the northeast, it was actually a pleasant day. Tomorrow I will try to get some fresh pictures.

And another perfect day for my Bean boots in the snow walking one of the greenway trails along Whatcom Creek as the clouds broke for a decent sunset on a walk to the post office. Then to the food bank to volunteer for a few hours. But I do not understand why more people wear these shoes out here, as they are perfect. Maybe because they're sort of dorky looking, come to think of it. Oh well. In the rain, these and cycling rain pants are a perfect combination.

Growing up in Norhteastern Pennsylvania, these were common. A family down the street where I grew up had eight kids and I remember seeing eight pairs of Bean boots under their Christmas Tree. I do not do a big Christmas celebration too much anymore, so recollecting these thoughts of childhood purity send feelings of warmth through my body and soul.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mouse

This morning I had a gorilla loose in my house. It was coming from the back laundry room and sound like it was about to break out of its cage. But upon closer inspection, I realized that it was only a little field mouse. It was scratching frantically at the cupboard where we store Magilla's food. I don't blame him (or her) for moving inside for the winter. And besides, there's room for all of us. She seems to share Magilla's tastes for dog treats.

I still don't understand why one furry animal is domesticated and cuddly and we let sleep in our beds, while others are considered vermin and eradicated at every opportunity. I guess if dogs were left to run wild then they too would be potentially carrying diseases.

Last year I had a mouse living with me that I called Sherman. This one definitely had different habits and I would say that he is a she, since she appears to be trying to build a nest under my motorbike helmet in the back cupboard. I think, once again, that I may need to set some ground rules. Here is last year's post on Sherman.

Looks like next week might have in store for it a driving trip down to Northern California. Christmas among the Redwoods might be nice.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Nor'easter

When the wind blows from the northeast, chances are it is a frigid Canadian blast that hits Bellingham for a few days and makes you realize the next six months of forty degree drizzle are not so bad. I don’t ski anymore, so snow is not really my bag. And with the ice on the street, it’s not too conducive to biking. But other than the chance of the pipes freezing under the house in the crawl space, I can handle the cold. And for the pipes, I have plug-in heat tape on them, and periodically run the cold water during the night when I get up. Sort of like being on anchor watch on a sailboat.

Thankfully the weather is quite freaky and dramatic up here, otherwise I would probably never have a whole lot to write about. The flag on the picture above usually indicates a pretty cold day is ahead when you can see it blowing stiffly coming from the Fraser Valley. In the background is Mt. Baker. And although the temperature is not too cold, the wind is frigid and relentless.

Utility bills be damned, I'm turning the heat up. Last year's high electric and gas bills were around $110 and $60, respectively. This year will probably be a bit more, although they're nowhere near as high as the bills were back east.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Wow

I do not know what evoked that outburst on yesterday's rant, but when I write I am caught in the moment. I could edit the post but I will leave it as is.

The party last night turned quite interested as many of the attendees were snowed in and many stayed, while many took cabs home and left their cars. For a piddly 3-4" snowstorm, the roads were icy and treacherous. This same scenario seems to happen every winter: Snow over icy roads that lasts from a few hours to a few days. The snow and ice from this storm will probably last through possibly mid-week, as the high temps will hover below freezing for a few days. But the party was a blast and I was glad to meet a wonderful group of people and today paid for it through my lack of sleep.

And one of the benefits of the storm was finding a bus route that was direct to a place I usually bike to in Happy Valley. I prefer biking there but will be taking the great bus service while the roads remain crummy (Bellingham has no snow removal equipment). And talk about punctuality: Today the outbound left exactly on time, while the returning bus was only two minutes late.
Oh, and the picture is from yesterday's Jingle Bell Run through downtown.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Hedge

The glorious wheels of capitalism keep turning as the neoliberal economists tout how perfect the work would be in a regulatory anarchy where the "invisible hand" (probably the most misused phrase in history - some say Adam Smith possibly meant this to be taken tongue-in-cheek relative to the rest of his rigid text, although this phrase is widely quoted) once again is left to control the markets of free will. Things work smothly in a perfect work, but unfortunately there are such factors as greed, deceit, corruptness and all the other evil things that money seems to nurture in many people.

I speak of Bernie Madoff, a filthy businessman that basically screwed over everyone and anyone that ever entrusted their investments with the hedge fund he managed. And not just capitalists; many of the people were invested in his hedge fund were foundations or non-profits in search of above-market returns but willing to forego basically any accountability requirements or regulatory oversights. The free market once again stumbles.

Furthermore, it is so sad that sad that people such as Madoff will only go to medium security prison for less than twenty years when they've destroyed the lives of thousands. I guess white-collar crime does pay. I've never been that satisfied by material things enough to perform such heinous acts as those of Bernie Madoff. When layers of regulation are added to our already overwhelming overburdened regulatory system, we will have people like him to thank.

Sorry about the rant, it's just that scum like him make me sick. Time to get ready to go to a party tonight.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Life

Life is precious. Today a colleague of mine was injured rather severely in an incident down in Seattle of which I've been able to garner few details. More although information trickle in here and there. It is so shocking and I hope my friend fares well and today my thoughts of him are never very far off.

Oddly enough it was twenty years ago that I'd spent two months in the hospital due to a car accident that should have killed me (see pic). It is unfortunate that it takes situations like this make me realize how fragile life is and that every day is a gift.

On my to the cafe to work today, the snow has reached the low mountains around Bellingham, probably 2,000 feet or so. This weekend is where the cold weather blows in from the Fraser Valley and the wind dips into the teens. This is the time of year when you don your complete thermal underwear (tops and bottoms) for days until the spell breaks. Although the highs in the twenties and lows in the teens doesn't really seem cold, the moisture seems to chill you to the bone. And the weather here is always something to be talked about.

Well it's 3:20 and daylight is fading, so I should get home. I forgot how early it gets dark and I left my cycle light at home.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Pass

The most exciting thing I did today was put about a hundred asset tags on everything my company owns. But at least I was able to drive through Alger Pass (some call it a pass) through the ethereal mountains disappearing into the low clouds. Actually I was the passenger (in an old 240D running biodiesel) which is even better.

Interstate Five runs through this cut in the hills. This road, SR9 and SR11 are the only three that attach Whatcom County to the rest of the United States. All that lie to the north are open fields. And Canada.

Not much more to say. other than this picture is of the Taylor Street Dock last summer. Time to fall asleep watching a movie, something I have not done in a long time.

Night

Sometimes when I ride. I think of things I want to write once I get in front of my computer. Tonight was one such night that I really thought of nothing except how wonderful the fine drizzle felt on my face.

I was coming home from my moonlighting gig at eleven realizing how much tremendous fun I have selling tobacco, alcohol and processed food to college kids while listening to loud classic jazz. This week the students are in the midst of finals at Western. The running joke is that you need a graduate degree to work at our convenience store, as I have my MBA and my colleague has a Masters in German Literature. But jobs (even menial ones such as convenience store clerks) are quite hard to come by in Bellingham.

Ans oddly enough, earlier in the day I met with a woman that I am handing off other clients of mine as I am fully concentrating my energy on the biodiesel company. But being a clerk is quite the escape, although someday my day job will become all engrossing and the evenings of living amoung the hipsters will be a fond memory. But I am glad that I realize in the moment what fun I'm having (some of the highs in my life) versus having to look back upon them at some point in the future and say "geeze, 2008 was a pretty fun year." There are many rough patches, but generally the road is good.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Housing

Here is a picture of more soulless condo boxes sure to cash in on this wonderful housing market in Bellngham. Problem is, the market is flooded with condominiums, so these will most likely be rental units. And this generic crap will be so much nicer to look at versus the views of Bellingham Bay that used to be.

If the realtor that shows these places is smart, they'll make sure one of the frequent freight or passenger trains isn't signaling at the crossing immediately below. Their horrns wake me up on occassion at the F Street and Roeder, and that's almost a mile away. The nightly train whistle of the 3am northbound should be pleasant.

And I heard the rental market is still pricey here, as the lending is tight (depending on who you ask), and people are still asking way too much for houses. People don't understand that if a house is not selling at market, it's because it's not at market, it's above market. In a very simplistic sense, if if was priced at market, it would have a buyer and be sold within a reasonable time, not ten-to-twenty months out as the local inventory versus sales indicates.

But I was looking on zillow (for what that web site is worth) and saw that my house has appreciated roughly 3% since I bought it. Not bad in this otherwise dismal market. And if my payment trend continues, I'll have it paid off in ten years. Frugality pays. And what they call a starter home is what I hope to be carried out of at room temperature in roughly forty years.

And then in ten years I'll hopefully use it to generate some rental income and take a few years off to travel. I think I will have earned it by then. If I still have my mind, that is: the stress of working with emerging companies can be both exhilarating and exhausting. But I love it. I don't know why. Strange.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Holly

This picture is of the notorious intersection of Holly and Railroad, where all the hoodlums allegedly hang out. Having been in some rather bad parts of large cities in my life, I sort of chuckle when I hear this assertion. I've fet more threatened walking down Main Street USA in Disney World than I've felt here, but I was a bit younger when I was at Disney World. (I hope I don't jinx myself with that last statement and get rolled some night riding home down Railroad.) But Bellingham is a pretty small town, and considering I grew up in city of comparable size, there is virtually no crime here.

The biggest thing that I got accomplished today was putting little wooden covers on the vents on the tiny crawlspace under my eighty-year old house for the onslaught a cold front or two. I was told these cedar-sided homes were originally built for coalminers or lumbermen. And I, with a graduate degree, living in this house that a family with nary a secondary- or high-school education inhabited brand new, wonder how far have we progressed?

Sail

Here is a picture stolen from the city web site. I guess I should give it credit here.

Tonight I visited some friends that lived aboard their sailboat for a few years in the Sea of Cortez and then in the South Pacific. At least this evening's conversation buoyed my hopes of one of my life dreams to sail the Pacific for a year or two as crew on a sailboat and hop from island to island, with one boat or many. I understand many baby boomers are setting sail as they near retirement after being cooped up in corporate offices for much of their useful years and have limited sailing knowledge other than coastal or lake sailing. (Not that lake sailing is anything trivial. I sailed Lake Erie for years and it was some of the worst weather I ever experienced. Although St. Vincent was pretty bad too.) But there appears to be a need for able bodied crew with sailing background, so this is within reach. I understand yachts leave Bellingham with regularity for the South Pacific. Or if not down the road at the Squalicum Marina, then I certainly could gain passage from Seattle or Vancouver.

But back to reality, today was basically a work day (I thought is was Friday a few times) and I may have a few days in sequence to sleep in. I may try to not schedule anything too early until Wednesday, I hope.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Prorogue

My housemate acquired a free bike today, which will require minimal repairs to make it a daily rider. I will be glad to have a backup, as I rely upon my bike to get me all over town, and to be without one would be very limiting. I've been pretty much riding it every day for the last two-plus years, and amazingly all I needed to do was repack the rear hubs and keep it cleaned (and a few spokes and many tube patches), so sooner or later it may be out of service. So far, I have been amazed at how reliably that it has performed.

And some interesting news going on in Canada regarding Harper and his request to prorogue Parliament until late January:
"When Ms. Jean returned, there was more discussion, and then she granted the Prime Minister's request to prorogue, or suspend, Parliament, thus allowing him to escape Monday's scheduled vote of no-confidence that almost certainly would have torpedoed his minority Conservative government."

I am sometimes amazed at my ignorance of our northern neighbors, although I listen to the CBC for most of my news, so I probably know more about Canada than many of my countrymen.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Polaroid

Oddly enough. the staple of nineteen seventies picnics and holidays and little league baseball games is becoming a thing of the past: The Polaroid Instant Camera. The film is no longer being produced, so all those Polaroid cameras will become relix (relixes?) of a bygone generation or two. I have a friend in NYC that took a Polaroid of everyone that ever came into his East Village apartment. I am somewhere in his pile of thick prints framed by thick white borders.

But my housemate shot some 20"x24" Polaroid film as a project in art school and displayed them at this exhibit opening tonight on Western's campus. So her friend shows up with another couple and he lives four houses away from me. Small town. Art openings are fun and she does really neat work, and tomorrow is the Gallery Walk in Bellingham. This is always a fun time, but I will unfortunately miss it.

It is cold here but not that cold. Yet. Funny thing last night listening to a radio station on the AM dial that was coming in pretty clear and they were talking of the Canadian temperatures coming in at -16*C and I was thinking "oh here comes one of those Alberta Clippers" where the temps dip into the teens and you freeze your butt off for a few days, but oddly enough it was a station coming in from the cold Calgary prairie and not the more temperate Vancouver or Victoria, the latter being south of Bellingham.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Farms

It is interesting in Bellingham how closely people are always grounded in their livelihoods. A wide (and very rich) belt of farmland is to the north and south of here, and tremendous emphasis is placed upon such things as good food, active living, etc. I am sure there are plenty of those too that go home every night to their snout houses and 46" flat screens, but I do not know too many of them. I am sure that they are plentiful though.

Maybe too I've become more closely enmeshed in the local agriculture (by working wiith biodiesel - my home page for both computers is the CBOT bean oil prices) for growing local oilseed crops. Or maybe that there is the fact that so close by are fabulously healthy eating places. Today I found the best salad in the world at the Public Market for less than six dollars (for the large) with the miso-tahini dressing and sprouts and sunflower seeds. The place is called Seven Loaves Pizzeria (link here, last feature) and I cannot wait to return. Oh, and it was organic and locally grown.

The picture above is the farmers market from a few months back. My housemate works here on the weekends. Speaking of whom, she is made some wonderful Indian food tonight with eggplant and rice and beans.

More Fog

And again tonight the fog just arrived. The night of biking home late with the mist on my brow after an invigorating ride, with the muffled moist air surrounding me. It was neat to see the tiny water droplets in my headlight. And fortunately my single speed cruiser is still working diligently after two-plus years of steady use with minimal maintenance and nothing wearing out (other than the chain and many inner tubes and patched).

Here is a picture taken where may of the delicacies are prepared in the house. The cupboards are c.1928 and some day the imitation-wood formica countertops will some day come back into style. (Just like my mid-eighties bright red ski pants I still own.) Besides, granite is passé and I wouldn't be surprised of the radon reports aren't unfounded anyway.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Awake


Yesterday I may have had a spiritual awakening. I do not know specifically what triggered my altered world view towards two things. The first was the fact that I looked upon Magilla and for the first time realized that she was truly a beautiful dog. Maybe it was all the people making such a fuss over her at the dog park. Or maybe that she's one of the kindest dogs I've ever seen and she has the most distinct and defined markings. And I still felt that way about her this morning. Hmph.

The other change I experienced was the appreciation of being outside in the drizzle of winter and how connected the weather makes you to your surroundings - the ground and sky and evergreens and ferns and salty bay - and loving it. And not only is the rain refreshing, but it keeps everything clean and vibrant. I really look forward to the next bike ride in the rain. And it looks like I will carry my trusty rain gear with me for the next few months wherever I go. I hope I can retain this enthusiasm for those months.

The movie is taken last full riding up Chuckanut Drive (SR11) on my old BMW R60/6. Although you can't really see that well, to the left is the Puget Sound and 178 islands. The lower part is basically an untouched windy ribbon of road, although development (in the form of tacky big houses) creeps further and further down the highway. ("Call someplace paradise, kiss it goodbye..."). This road passes through one of the few remaining undeveloped vestiges where the Cascades Mountains meet the Puget Sound, once spanning all the way to Portland. Unfortunately it will no longer be within ten years, as the bulldozers and logging trucks are moving in and the roads are already cut. So sad.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Fog

In Bellingham there is a continuum of weather: On one end is clear skies and dryness; travel along that continuum and the somewhere towards the wet end you will find an evening fog that saturates the air to the point of a fine mist that dampens your face. That was tonight. And as I sit here writing from my living room, I cannot even see the blinking red light atop the arboretum less than a mile away. I love fog. (I pulled the picture from Google.)

And I am still quite impressed in this temparate climate that I still have three varieties of lettuce growing in the garden with only one beginning to go to seed. Not too bad.

And today's experiment of making bean burgers:
- 1 lb dried pinto beans (soak over night with salt)
- Cook the next day for an hour or two
- Add two large carrots, one sweet pepper, all diced finely
- Grate in lots of fresh ginger
- Mix in 2 eggs
- And rice flour
- And some Bragg's
Makes about twelve burgers.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Consume

Today was a tremendously exciting day. This picture (taken from The Herald) demonstrates this level of activity. But I took the bus to this mall (Bellis Fair) for an hour to pick up some things.

My highly scientific research (I commented to the check-out girl at Target how few the lines were) indicated that this was going to be a slow season of consume spending.My East Coast contact (my aunt in Cleveland) also received information (another salesperson) that the Sears opened at 5am and was dead. Oh well. To me, it looked just like another day at the mall with screaming kids and frumpy people.

I wish that I had more to say. But a friend is coming by and we are going out to see the Paper Boys at the Wild Buffalo. I need to get out of the house tonight.

YIkes

So today I need to combat the warrior consumers and take a bus out to the mall. Normally I would bike, but it is one of the most dangerous places to bike in Bellingham; add to the equation the horribly aggressive Canadian drivers and it makes for a dangerous scenario. I do not know these people at the mall - they are of an entirely different type than what I see out and around Bellingham. But the girl that cuts my hair used to be right down the street and now she moved to a place at the mall. I really dislike malls.

And I could write about my disdain for malls and the aspect of many of these people spending money on things they don't need with money they do not have. The U.S. as a whole saves -.5% of earnings, meaning that we make less than we spend. I read somewhere that the 35-34 age bracket actually has a -16% savings rate. Initially shocking, but then not really considering the expenses this demographic is faced with - from college to housing to the latest cars and electronics to which they've grown accustomed.

I can't really think of anything that I need to buy right now.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Success

A day I managed to not leave the couch for a good part of the day. And I only left the house to pick lettuce for dinner and to check on my housemate's car, as she is out of town. It's nice that the bib lettuce growing in the garden is still a deep green in spite of the many frosts that we have had. Growing things year after year (and this has only been the second in this yard), you get ideas of what grows at what time. The kale needs to be planted earlier, and I could probably have lettuce longer into the winter. Quite surprising. Carrots too.

I cannot remember the last time where I didn't leave the house. But when I need to relax, I follow the lead of Magilla, the boxer-pit bull mix that lives in the house. There is a reason that one of her many names is Sluggo, and anther is Sluggella. She easily can sleep for twenty hours out of the day. And today we shared the couch for a good chunk of that. I need another day or two like this.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Food

I think that I may have posted this picture before. It's of the tip of Mt. Baker from the end of my block five houses down the street.

After pulling a double shift at the Food Bank, and realizing the time of the year, I become aware of how grateful I should be for the hand I was dealt in life. Things are pretty cool right now. But one of the reasons I work at the food bank is because its tremendous fun and probably the most laughs I get all week. Some other volunteers are there every week; some nights, like tonight, I see other volunteers that haven't been there in months; and then there are the periodic newcomers - some come back, while others do not. And I guess I'm doing something for the community too, but selfishly, that's an afterthough.

And if I am lucky tomorrow, I might decline numerous invitations for Thanksgiving Day and spend the day curled up on the couch with a book, movie or both. And hopefully I can keep the computer off. That has a tendency to suck hours out of my day.

But I write from my happy little Dell with Linux (Ubuntu) tonight. Swiching from the Lenovo Windows (my work laptop) to the Dell Linux is like getting into comfy clothes after chaging out of your work duds. So far, the Dell Linux is far ahead in every aspect. Except that the sounds sucks, and the mouse sometimes doesn't react. (But I think that is more of a Dell issue.) Maybe I need to find some web forums on it, or call tech suport. But it's not that big of an issue. Overall, the Dell 1525N's Linx software has some rather advanced software already installed, not to mention the a game like chess that I recently found. Drat.

Bird


Here is a movie of Orcas Island taken this summer. I am supposed to go over to visit a friend there on Wednesday, but I'd rather just stay home. It's not uncommon to get invited to many place on Thanksgiving, but if it goes as planned, I'll stay home and read and watch a few movies. Or it may not.

Tomorrow is a double shift at the food bank (for a whopping five hours total) to hand out turkeys and hang out and do some work. This is the third Thanksgiving that I've done the turkey thing at thefood bank (although we work there every Wednesday) even though I don't eat the bird. This year is unfortunately likely to see more people in line.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sweet

This is what the soybean oil pricing looks like for 2008. Pretty exciting. But it is what I have been reading about over the past few days. Years ago I worked in this industry (to a degree), so something I thought I'd never use again in my life has been brought to the forefront of my memorial recollection. A simple observation of this chart would indicate the volatility of this (and other commodities') market(s).

A night of moonlighting and being quite tired. By the time I get home and relax, it's passing midnight. And the house is chilly, and my housemate went back to her kinfolk in Texas, so it looks like her ugly dog will be sleeping with me tonight. Magilla is like a heated sandbag.

But like always, the ride home after eleven was beautiful and no matter how cold it seems, I always end up at the house perspiring. And riding allows me to eat Mrs. Fields Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches with impunity. Yummy.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Watched

Here is a randomly taken pictures a few weeks back. It's heading west on Illinois towards Meridian. The Dark Haggen (so I've heard it called) is on the left. I've heard they call it that because the parking lot is not lit too brightly.

Today, like a dog or cat (or any animal of lesser intelligence), I was able to bask in the sun for an hour or two. It was warm and pleasant. I wish I could do that more often. I guess I can learn something from my dog. But after that it was reading a hundred pages on the fundamentals of the futures market. And I thought things like limit and stop-loss orders were behind me forever.

But it was enjoyable to clean out the garage to start on some winter projects. Tonight I pulled and cleaned the bottom bracket on my Trek Classic Cruiser. That bike is going on its third year and has been a true workhorse with minimal cleaning and virtually no repair. Oh, and they finally posted my article to the Whatcom Watch site right here. No more to say tonight.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Helmet

I have nothing to really say today, although I could share about the joys and rigors of putting in storm windows (many have original glass). But I won't.

A very windy last night, and a wet morning with a break in the afternoon weather and a beautiful night. And even more beautiful was being able to bike around in the brisk air.

And today my helmet finally gave up the ghost. It was dangerously old and the strap broke. So immediately over to Fanatik Bike to replace it. I like Fanatik - the people that work there are cool, and they always have what I need - and it's only five blocks from my house. And they let me take all the cardboard that I want from their dumpster to sheet mulch my yard.

More Ubuntu

Another day, another 6.5% swing in the Dow Jones Industrial Averagemarket. I think this volatility in the equities market is here to stay. I wonder what it must be like for those nearing retirement that just took a huge hit in their IRAs. I think that since the days of defined benefit plans are long behind us, many boomers will unfortunately will be able to ever truly retire as planned.

But I don't really understand retirement. I've taken many breaks in my life from work - maybe I could call it stints of semi-retirement - and I'll probably have a few more. But work is fun, and I find it to be invigorating, so why would I ever want to stop? Just give me a few years here and there in my forties to sail the Pacific or live in France and I'll be satisfied.

But on the Linux versus Windows front, I have to say that the Ubuntu (Linux) continues to pull ahead. Both laptops (Lenovo R400 running XP and Dell 1525 running Ubuntu v8.04) are pretty much brand new and I use them equally throughout the day. Here's what I feel so far.
  • Dell (Ubuntu) - I turned the computer on and started using it. Open Office was already on it, so I did literally nothing but start typing away. Yes, it was frustrating learning a new operating system, but the layout was logical and it reminded me of using a Mac-type operating system. No crashes yet, but I did get a nasty error when I tried to unplug the USB flash drive, but it forgave me. The mouse was quite sensitive, but that was more of a hardware adjustment.
  • Lenovo (XP) - We were lucky enough to get these laptops with XP on them versus Vista. Our IT guy needed to install the newest Office, so that took a few days. But it was worth the wait to get all the trial software off of it. And there was the enjoyment of learning the new Excel, dramatically redesinged for reasons unbeknownst to me. Oddly enough, Open Office is more closely related to the old Excel than the new Excel, if that makes sense. Numerous ongoing Office crashes, and this morning a horrible sound when I tried to close a spreadsheet file. A co-worker and I both agreed the computer may be possessed. Another quality product from Microsoft. Keeping your fingers crossed while typing also makes Windows a bit more difficult to use.
Sorry about the geek update. I really am not one, but this juxtaposition of these brand new laptops is quite entertaining, and I am sure that you will hear more about this foray.

The picture above is looking down my street towards the high school on a day when there was sun. Certainly not today. My place is by the VW bus. And the arboretum is the hill in the background.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

SeaTac

I do not know if this will get posted tonight, but I am sitting in SFO about to board my plane. After going car free here in the Bay Area for a few days (on the wonderful train and bus system of Muni and BART) I am faced with the biggest challenge of the trip in getting from SeaTac to the Lynnwood convention Center for an 8:00am conference. The fifteen miles north to this suburb Seattle will require one transfer in downtown Seattle and over two hours of travel.

Maybe I will be surprised, but so far the public transit in Seattle is quite dismal compared to what I am leaving here in San Francisco. But tomorrow night I will be back in Bellingham with my bicycle at my disposal back in my little town of rain and clouds.

But right now I need to leave to get a drink of water before leaving. I too need to get away from the people around me talking loudly on their cell phones about their bland lives.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Haightful

So although things do not work out the way I ever anticipate, it was still a quite enjoyable time in San Francisco - even though I needed to remember what day it was and where I stayed last night. It turns out that it was Walnut Creek, a nice little hamlet east of the city. Not really my speed, but quaint and nice none the less. Then back up to a meeting on the Panhandle right near Ashbury after taking the BART into town with all the working stiffs.

I spent a good chunk of Sunday up in the Haight-Ashbury District, the place where the music scene of the sixties evolved. And up to 710 Ashbury, where the Grateful Dead band members once lived. Then over the the beautiful Golden Gate Park, where I laid in the warm sun and slept for awhile among the hippies playing drums. Lying and dozing in the midday sun brought back some fond memories.

A beautiful day and then the late morning fog rolled in and the weather turned more into what I would expect in San Francisco. But heading north into Marin County the top of the Golden Gate Bridge disappeared into the fog. And coming to the end of the bridge, the fog lifted and the blue skies cast the sunlight back down upon us in our little biodiesel powered Mercedes. More meetings in Marin and a relaxing house staying at colleague's home in the hills of Corte Madera. Whenever I am at this home in the hills, I truly feel like I am in California.

Tomorrow is off to Santa Cruz and Salinas, and then back to SFO on a 9:30pm flight. Tomorrow may be another night of traveling, and hence, no posting. Probably see you Friday. Too much has been crammed into these few days - mostly eork, but much pleasure also. I am growing to love this part of the U.S., yet look forward to getting home to Bellingham to my mellow life. Soon enough.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Mission

"All the things I planned to do
I only did half way
Tomorrow will be Sunday
born of rainy Saturday

There's some satisfaction
in the San Francisco rain
No matter what comes down
the Mission always looks the same."
- Robert Hunter

So instead of sleeping last night, I met some friends out and of course was scurrying about at 1:50am to catch the shuttle to SeaTac. And of course I made it there with little disruption and little sleep. But I am running right now on the thrill of being in San Fran on a wonderful winter day that actually feels more like Spring. Check in at the hotel is 2pm, so I am getting caught up e-mails (much needed) at a small coffee shop just down the road on Van Ness. The picture is a pretty good example of what it's like right here right now, although I did not take it.

Later I plan to hop the 49 Muni and head down to the Mission District to meet some friends, and hopefuly pick up business cards - the only thing that I think I forgot - from a colleague returning to the Bay Area tonight.

And I forgot about the many pretty, stylish and fit women in San Francisco. Although I am not a big city person anymore, the energy here is quite rejuvinating. Well, I'd better run. I've ben here for three hours using their wi-fi and barely spent five bucks.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Saturday

Day Three on the new Linux laptop (a Dell). Still no real difference on the operating systems - both are intuitive. But it was nice to turn the computer on and have all of your software already installed. Set up time literally took thirty seconds.

A day of doing as little as possible. But running morning errands I had a near collision with a vehicle. It's funny how you notice things that raise your level of alertness. This car was a high alert from the get-go: Newer BMW 535e (or something like that); Seattle license plate holder. And biking down Railroad Avenue always has its share of surprises. I generally a mellow biker.

Time to rest before flying off to San Francisco. Tonight will be a night of fragmented sleep, as the bus to SeaTac leaves at 2am for a 6:30am flight. Tomorrow should be a surreal day. At least I was able to spend some quality time napping with Magilla (above).

Glacial

So we went a a very neat cabin in Glacier, Washington. It was "green built" (a term I fully have yet to understand), and wonderful to spend time with people that I interact with on a more formal level. We basically spent a day-plus out of cell phone and wireless range about thirty miles east uf Bellingham up the Mount Baker Highway. The Northern Cascades are remarkable at this time of year and the and the companion Nooksack River was raging. Very little sleep, as a productive day was followed by a very late evening of merriment.

I am horribly lucky to work with such wonderful people. Although I've worked with many good people in my career, I feel that I have found something very unique in this company that I've been with for the past year. And although working with emerging companies can be very stressful at times, it is the most exhilerating mental thing I've ever done.

A day of down time, and then the commencement of a journey to San Francisco early, early Sunday morning. Still getting used to the new laptop and the Ubuntu. So far, a refreshing change. Oh, and the picture was taken down near Taylor Street Dock a few days back.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ubuntu II

Today I entered a new world. I cast aside Microsoft garbage for an open source Linux operating system call Ubuntu. I never thought there would come a day where I could take a computer out of the box, plug it in, and use it within ten minutes. It's a Dell Inspiron 1525N and was surpriisingly inexpensive (around $650) and came withink a week. The screen is big and the laptop is dark blue. That's about the extent of my technological savviness. It even came with a charged battery! I am sure that you will hear more about Ubuntu as my experience progesses.

But I will probably not write tomorrow. We are going on a company retreat and will be out of cell and computer range, so it will be a night in the mountains - in Glacier, Washington.

The picture above was taken yesterday down along the water near Fairhaven looking north.

Fairhaven

"Your rain falls like crazy fingers
Peals of fragile thunder keeping time

Recall the days that still are to come
Some sing blue

Hang your heart on laughing willow
Stray down to the water
Deep Sea of Love

Beneath the sweet calm face of the sea
Swift undertow"
- Robert Hunter

I used to spend a lot of time in Fairhaven, where I did quite a bit of work. I really don't go there much anymore, but today I hung out a t Tony's Coffeehouse, did some stuff, enquired about yoga, and made a second trip down to Happy Valley where I got wet. I do not know why, but I didn''t feel like taking rain gear, and instead dealt with being quite wet drying, and getting less wet on the way home. I am glad I have a warm, dry home to go to with an uglydog that has the qualities in bed of a heated sandbag. And that's not all bad on a night like tonight when the wind is gusting to fifty-plus knots.

The picture abouve is from the Taylor Street dock looking towards the Fairhaven Boatworks with Orcas Island in the background - taken today. It is sort of blurry, but the top half of the island is enshrouded in clouds. Very ethereal, beautiful.

I was to post another heinously ugly house picture but decided not to. You'll probably be seeing today's pictures on this site for the next week anyway.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bitter Pill

Today, like bitter cough syrup, I had the new Office installed on my work computer. Now my home computer will be a Dell with Linux (Ubuntu v8.04), but my work computer (that I am, um, using now until the home laptop arrives) has Windows XP and the newest version ov Excel and Word. My stodgy reluctance to accept and learn this updated software made me feel like I was experiencing the onset of middle age. So I swallowed the bitter pill and took my first steps to learning it. And by the way, I've been using Excel since since it was called Microsoft Multiplan in 1984.

But a goal is to eventually get the work laptops (on the next cycle) all installed with Linux and Open Office. It seems like Linux has finally matured into a viable operating system. We'll soon find out.

Here's a picture taken a a few weeks back a half block from my house looking east. You can see Mt. Baker peeking above that ridge, which is about fifteen miles away as the crow flies. On the west side of these mountains is SR9, a winding road that is a great bike ride through the town of Acme, and then turns back home through Lake Whatcom. Oh, and Mount Baker is about fifty miles away

Actually, I'll be traveling out this way on Thursday for a work retreat up in Glacier (staying in a cabin), then on to San Francisco next week.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Letting Go

One of those groups is coming around in a few days to pick up clothes that I want to donate. So I gather up some stuff that I've been moving around with me for the past few moves to give to charity. Somehow I don't think I need my first pair of boat shoes from when I owned my sailboat (I have two other pairs), or docksiders from the early eighties, or my two pair of Birkenstocks (c.1989 and 1995). The stories all these shoes could tell...

I know why my Sunday's slip away from me. It's because I get sucked into the Internet around eleven, and the next thing I know, it's mid-afternoon. Today I didn't turn on my computer until eight o'clock tonight and hope to have it turned off by nine.

Here's a picture from a friend's house over in the Columbia neighborhood I took this afternoon. She let me borrow a bike when my friend came in from out of town, so today I cleaned it up and returned it to her. Columbia has some of the older homes in Bellingham, and she and her husband are fixing up theirs.

A relaxing, cloudy day. At least it was warm and not rainy. Not much more to say.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Seeds

So I don't frequently do this - posting personal details about myself - but tonight I shall gloat. Here is another article that was written about a partnership that I work with just south of Bellingham: we take the biomethane that comes off the Cathcart Landfill down in Snohomish County and use it to dry seed. Some of that dried seed will be crushed into oil and meal, and we taeke the oil and make it into biodiesel. I was told that 1,000 acres of rapeseed (canola) can be used to power the entire Snohomish County municipal fleet on a B20 (20% biodiesel) blend. I'm the one on the far left (click the picture to enlarge; here is the story.)

And a day trip that began in Seattle and ended twelve hours later finishing up a business plan. The trip included a most unpleasant meal at a Taco Time in some generic strip mall somewhere north of Everett bus south of Alger. I haven't eaten in a fast food joint in well over a year, and now I remember why.

Tailwind

Oh, and one more thing on the election: I watch Fox News on rare occassion (when I have access to cable), but never thought that I could ever witness Britt Hume any more glum than he is every time I see him. (Did that make sense?) Until Tuesday night as the electoral map behind him turned blue. Priceless. I am ecstatic that we put a younger hipster in the White House versus another old-line aging fart. Christ, Obama's only a bit older than I am. McCain on the other hand seemed more like your typical established corporate type with a hot assistant.

But it was nice at my moonlighting gig tonight - when I rode to the shop, I faced a stiff headwind. And fortunately it maintained all evening and gave me a brisk tailwind push back home from Fairhaven. The laugh tonight was when someone inquired about employment asked about working at this convenience store, we told them they need to have a graduate degree to work there (as we both do). For me, it's a tremendous fun. I remember the days of yore standing in my window office on the 31st floor in my suit and tie with reports piling up behind me and phones ringing how I'd gladly trade this life for the simplicity of working in a convenience store some day listening to classic jazz. And here I am. For one or two nights a week, at least.

And a firend gave me leeks a week or two back. I was glad that I could finally make a soup out of them. Off to Seattle tomorrow.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Boots

Here's a picture taken from today's Herald. The golden leaves scattered about town are beautiful, interspersed with the majestic evergreens. Although it poured today (again), it was a most refreshing day to be on a bike. Nothing is as great as showing up at a 7am meeting with the same feeling of just completing a powder run. And it is wonderful at this (ungodly) early hour to see the flicker of other bicycles' lights. I am very lucky to need not be confined to a car.

But I did buy a pair of Bean Boots online today (the 6" go perfect with rain pants). I don't know why more people do not wear them here, as they are perfect for this type of weather. Back east they were common, but that's just my Pennsylvania roots. And the last pair were acquired by me in 1985, so I do not think my spending habits are over the top here in Bellingham.

Nights like tonight: the clock strikes two bells (9pm) and you feel like it's midnight. But listening to a Pete Fountain CD borrowed from the library (of which I've frequent with regularity in hopes of relaxing and reading more over the winter) helps smooth out the evening.I am glad to be in a dry house with an ugly dog. She and my housemate returned safely home early this morning.

And if you feel like reading something interesting on global finances, click here.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Jubilate

Another picture looking up Cornwall taken a few days ago. This is about six or eight blocks from my place. The Pickford Theater (they show the indie films) is on the right.

A day that I wished I could have gotten out earlier to experience this New Day in America. When I finally made it out of the house (around three), people still were giddy with the possibility of what can be. I personally think it may be an uphill battle for Obama (or McCain, for that matter) considering what the country faces, but I should remain positive. There is always hope.

The many things I started today are getting completed, and I finally feel like I got something accomplished. And when there are no defined starting and stopping points in your work day, one frequently gets confused in the blur of time. Fortunately, volunteering at the food bank is one of the few consistent anchors I have in the week, so I know that today is Wednesday. Back to work.

Obama

So what can one say about tonight. Finally, the vast majority of Americans got their heads on straight and offered a collective "f*ck you" to the establishment. Maybe I contradicted myself from an earlier post, but it's about time getting someone in the driver seat that represents everything that Washington isn't. There may be hope for this countrry after all. Hope. A friend at the bar tonight said "we have destroyed the Death Star." Mr. Obama has a horribly long road out of this ditch where we've spent the last few years rumbling along.

And another crazy night down town. I shot a video, but it took too long to upload. I will try to upload it later. Bellingham is a pretty liberal Pacific Northwest college town; I wonder if the rest of the country was like what I witnessed here: Fireworks. Police. Drumming. Blowing horns. High fives. Yelling. Hugs. People screaming the name Obama as they pass you on the street. Jubilance.

I was not a huge fan of Barack Obama, but I have grown to accept and respect him, and be proud to call him the President of my country.

But it is later than I've been awake on a work night for a long time.

And I did end up ordering the Ubuntu v8.04 operating system on my new computer - a cheap Dell Insprion 1525N. I buy few new things in life, but a laptop every few years is one of them.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Ubuntu

Here is what downtown Bellingham looks like around 3:30pm when the daylight starts to fade and one stops getting sidetracked by work things and heads out to drop off (late) a video and remembers to take a camera on the ride to a coffee shop to finish a flurry of e-mails in a day of feeling like little got done. This is Cornwall Avenue looking south.

But today I spec'd out a new Dell laptop. My old Dell died and I don't have enough jack for an Apple notebook. Yes, I just got a new Think Pad for work, but I will need another laptop for my personal use.

Problem is, I do not feel like having to deal with Windows. Microsot Windows sucks. And the new Vista comes standard on most Dells - to 'downgrade' to the more stable XP you need to pay Microsoft an extra hundred bucks to overinstall its better, older version, that it won't even support after the year's end. This is entirely ridiculous. And I think twenty years of having to use shoddy products put out by Microsoft is enough.

So my other Dell option is to use the new Linux operating system called Ubuntu. From reviews I've read, it's a good match for this computer and should be out-of-the-box ready. But I hope that I am not biting off more than I can chew. I am not a big tech person, nor do I have the time to devote to making things work on the computer like when I tried to load Mandrake or Red Hat years back. But I am sure that you will hear about it.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Moist

"When the winter rains come pourin' down
On that new home of mine,
Will you think of me
and wonder if I'm fine?"
- Neil Young

Once or twice a year, it friggin' pours here, and this morning was one such morning. I had to bike three miles or so to work and arrived a bit moist. But things are drying up, and the low clouds over Chuckanut Ridge put on a dramatic show this afternoon. A least I have a warm dry home to go to, and the ride home turned out to be generally dry and without incident, although I was sidetracked by the warm glow of the frequently patronized Caffe Adagio on my route home. So here I sit at 5:24pm on a cloudy, pitch black Sunday evening drinking yet more coffee. Still reeling from the weekend, although decompressing.

And it was good to read up today on the economy. Call me a simpleton, but I do not think this $700 billion subsidy to (or socialisation of?) the banking industry is going to do much good. Every indication leads me to believe that we will still feel some huge fallout of our (personal, governmental and corporate) overindulgence throughout the past decades. From the credit default swaps to the risk aversion of banks (and their reluctance to lend to small business, as well as increasingly consumers), increased Treasury default risk (read this interesting link to a blogger that shares my economic sentiments), decreased federal tax revenues (due to shift to service economy and downturn in the economy) – I think that we will be in for a very interesting next few years. To call it catastrophic might be an understatement. But hopefully I am wrong. But fortunately I have reduced (eliminated?) my equity exposure, as well as paying down debt (screw putting money into the market it into stocks – no debt allows one to be more nimble; I am not going to subsidize the baby-boomers' retirement, but that's another thread for another time).

Gotta run.

Thriller

Last night was indeed a strange night in Bellingham. Actually it was the strangest that I think I've ever experienced here. It was Halloween. Now I have not dressed for Halloween in years. But last night I donned (or undonned) my "flasher" attire and went to my moonlighting gig, and later to join a huge party downtown.

Thousands and thousands of people congregated downtown - most in full regalia and costume - and as happens many times, someone called out my name (I don't know how she, a friend of my neighbors, recognized me in my shades and baseball cap and overcoat on my bike - especially since I'd only met her briefly and she was a tad bit tipsy). But it turned into a night of revelry and dancing in the streets following (of all things) a bicycle with a trailer holding huge stereo blaring disco. I laughed (until it hurt) at the antics of all the fellow Bellinghamsters. How funny.

You must watch this video, a choreograped "Thriller" with costumed dancers on a main street the city closed down for this event. Crazy.

And since I wasn't home all night, I left the front light on with a basket full of candy. When I returned home, most of the candy was gone, but a Tootsie Roll and two Smarties remained in the baskets. I thought the politeness of the trick-or-treaters was pretty cool.

A warm day today with rain and drizzle, and the dry wind blowing from seemingly all directions.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween

"When the last rose of summer pricks my finger,
And the hot sun chills me to the bone,
When I cant hear the song for the singer,
And I cant tell my pillow from a stone,
I will walk alone by the black muddy river,

And sing me a song of my own."

- R. Hunter


Since I finally have some photo capability I thought that I would take some pictures to put up here on the blog. Some day I hope to capture those from my crashed computer. Here is one I took today out the window facing south.

Right now I sit at Avellino's Coffee Shop watching all the little trick-or-treaters walking by, as well as the old Bellingham hippies and the younger Bellingham hipsters. It's funny to be out during the day trying to work when others are playing. (This life takes a unique disipline, which I do not always have. And that explains why I am up many nights till way past midnight.)

I think I might dress up tonight for Halloween. Since I have an old raincoat, boots, baseball cap and sunglasses, I think I will go as a flasher. So if you see (or saw) a creep on a bike riding to Fairhaven on State Street upon gloaming, that's me. It will be fun giving candy to children tonight.

I've got to get back to work. I laughed numerous times at the kids' costumes as they stream by. Tonight should be fun. It rained all morning, but looks like it might be only cloudy tonight. Until April, probably.