Monday, September 29, 2008

Tired

Everyone seemed to be tired today. A long weekend. And another long one coming up. A visiting friend coming in from the east coast. Or Cleveland actually. So it looks like a trip to Vancouver is in the works, along with myriad other things to do out and about in Bellingham.

The picture was taken yesterday where we parked. And here is another video coming back home up SR11 - Chuckanut Drive, a windy road that wraps along the Chuckanuts with the Puget Sound falling away to the west.

This was probably the last big ride of the season. I put around a thousand miles on it this year and now it's back to the bicycle (in all honesty my preferred mode of transportation versus the motorbike). We never made it to Victoria, but there is always next year. Not much more happening other than the crashing of the stock market. I hate to be smug, but this was inevitably predicted as far back as 2006 by many of us 'alarmists'. Good thing I bailed from large-cap equities a few months back. And rocky times still await. I wonder what impact this will have on two of Bellingham's largest high-tech industries: retirees and development. (Are they even industries?)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Oyster Run 2008

video
So here is a brief picture of what the 2008 Oyster Run looks like. Now I am not a big fan of large groups of people, nor am I a big fan of noisy Harley Davidsons. But considering it was an hour away and the largest biker event in the Pacific Northwest (thousands and thousands of bikes), I figured it was something worth seeing. But my air-cooled motorbike is built for the open road, not sitting in traffic, which was somewhat unnerving when a few drips of oil fell on the ground underneath the overheated crankcase.

But we went in for oyster shooters and drinks (me, a diet coke) and then took a spontaneous (sort of) turn south to LaConner, a town from where Tom Robbins hails. We had a late lunch at a pretty nice restaurant and (you guessed it) I had an oyster burger. All in all, a good day. And boy did I have bad luck with the law in the dinky town of Edison, Washington. Twice. But that's a story for another time. Thankfully I walk the straight and narrow these days.

And oddly enough we had another BMW airhead I knew from Bellingham pulled up beside us (while stopped for an accident on SR20 and we actually got off the motorbike and went over an talked to him and his wife for a few minutes in the stopped traffic - weird), and another friend we know from volunteering at the food bank. Fun.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Oysters

There is an oyster party that we shall be attending this evening in Sudden Valley, then tomorrow is the Oyster Run to Anacortes. Although I didn't eat any meat for ten years or so, I am glad that I eat seafood again. Living here would be torture if one was not able to enjoy the local bounty of the sea, caught fresh right off shore. And yes, most of the ecosystems in the Puget Sound are distressed and declining, arguably mostly due to development. But when development is Bellingham's largest industry, there is not much you can do to stop 'progress'.

Speaking of which, a few more condo projects went on the block here in Bellingham. The fifteen-storey condo downtown (see left) that has been nothing more than a hole in the ground since I've lived here. How could this be? I thought Bellingham had a limitless supply of retirees seeking our seven months of dismal weather?

But today I got the BMW motorbike back in working order, although there were a few hiccups. And one involved leaking gasoline all over the garage floor (ecoterrorist that I am). Not much. Maybe a cupful. But enough to make one realize the potency of this horrific and many-faceted liquid. But the R60/6 was back on the road. I fueled her (with my thirteen dollars of gasoline for the last two months) and took a jaunt around Bellingham. It will be a fun time tomorrow. And hopefully safe, as there always seems to be a mishap among the thousands of riders - many times even involving death. I am sure that pictures and movies will follow.

Pockets

So my search for decent pants has hopefully come to an end. What was most discouraging was all the pockets that most of these pants come with. I'd feel like Napoleon Dynamite wearing pants with all the pockets that most outdoor activewear have.
"Napolean, give me some 'tots."

But I stumbled upon some Gramicci pants online. I've never purchased them, but I am not too enamored by the quality of the really pricey gear. I will try to see the quality of these. North Face is great, Patagonia and Kavu are okay, so we'll see what happens with the Gramicci.

A stressful work week ended on a good note. And tomorrow is a day to get the motorbike ready for the trip to Anacortes on Sunday. I am sure you'll see pictures. Here is a picture taken in the spring of the side of the house.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Debt

The Outstanding Public Debt as of 26 Sep 2008 at 04:49:35 AM GMT (8:49 Pacific) is: $9,790,849,740,457.10

The estimated population of the United States is 304,795,998, so each citizen's share of this debt is $32,122.63.

The National Debt has continued to increase an average of $2.16 billion per day since September 28, 2007. (From this site).

So what’s another $700 billion? It’s only $2,300 for every man woman or child – working, elderly or in diapers – to magically solve what woes our economy. Coming from an administration so highly effective at winning wars, rebuilding cities, and being fiscally responsible, I highly doubt he’ll do much for the Average Joe. And a society so effectively dumbed down and not really caring deserves what it gets anyway.

But on a brighter note, the Oyser Run, a big biker rally, is in town this weekend - the biggest in the Northwest. The weather is supposed to be great, and something like 10,000 bikes converge up on the town of Anacortes, a beautiful one hour ride. So today I replaced some fuel filters and worked on the leaking carb. Possibly something with the floats.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Socialization

Why is socialization so bad when it helps the common person, but accepted by republicans when it benefits the corporate elite? Never mind, I just answered my own question.

The State of Washington can be construed by most as socialist: myriad benefits to its citizens, the highest minimum wage in the country, sales tax among the highest in the country, liberal workers' rights, strict environmental regulation, etc. Then I wonder why Washington state has one of the strongest economies in the nation?I guess socialism in this country is only supposed to work when it benefits the ultra wealthy, not the other 275 million or so of us common people. Capitalism is all but dead in this country. So sad.

I really hope I awaken and find that this presidency was a really bad dream. What else can this guy f*ck up? I know I shouldn't make that statement, as there is still the October surprise. Sorry about the rant, I just shake my head when I think about it though. This will cost ten thousand bucks (at least) for every family in this country that will do virtually nothing to loosen credit to those that drive the economy: small business. (I read a statistic somewhere that since 1990, small businesses added 16m jobs in this country; the companies comprising the S&P 500 shed 15m jobs.) Believe me, lending for the small and emerging business is entirely non existent. That's not an exaggeration, as I've worked with many over the past decade.

And on a positive note, here is an article about yesterday's ceremony. And another. Raising capital for this company during an economic meltdown will no doubt be the greatest achievement of my career. What a rush this life is.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Drying

Although this is not the actual seed dryer, this is what one looks like. Today was a day of meeting dignitaries and forward thinking people of Snohomish County where this dryer was commissioned.

Here's how it works: Methane gas is produced by virtually all landfills - lots of it. In most instances, it is burned off into the atmosphere. In our application it is used to power a seed dryer, which in turn allows the dried seed to be stored. Some oilseed will later be crushed into oil and meal: the former for biodiesel; the latter for animal feed. Their project helps local farmers, the county, and our company that produces biodiesel sourced from local feedstock. Virtually all of the Snohomish County vehicles will be powered on the oil generated from 1,000 acres of seed on a 20% biodiesel (ie, B20) blend. Pretty exciting to be solving a tiny piece of the massive energy puzzle.

Ideally, we can replicate this model around the state or country with private and public partnerships. We'll see!

Seeds

Today was one of those days that I had to think twice before realizing it was a Monday. Fall is in the air and it was a wonderful chilly day and evening to bike to and from work. The most exciting that really happened today is that my router is on the fritz. Hopefully it only needs some magic from a co-worker and computer friend of mine, and isn’t in need of replacement. At least the modem still works.

Tomorrow I go to Everett for a ceremony to launch a seed dryer that we are assisting operating. The seed will be dried and the oilseed will later be crushed for animal feed and feedstock to make biodiesel. Most of my time these days and nights is helping to launch a biodiesel company, so it’s great to produce oil provided by the seed of local farmers here in Washington.

But it’s time to sleep after a long week. Being well rested is nice, although this past week has been a bit hectic. This picture to the right really is nothing more than a gif file I formatted for a document today. The company is launching plants up and down the West Coast and it’s an exciting time to be working in an exciting industry. Unfortunately the credit markets are horrible and will probably not improve anytime soon, regardless of any taxpayer subsidizing of the banking industry. Somehow I think the trillion dollars will never make it to the consumer or small business and unfortunately the worst is still ahead of us.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Moon Pies

Another of the many pictures taken of Boulevard Park.

A busy week helping a friend run his store in Fairhaven (actually Happy Valley). I call it my moonlighting gig and it's lots of fun. Actually I've been helping out many days in a row in addition to my regular day job, so it's been a bit tiring. But it was only for this week (which seemed quite long) and tomorrow it's back to a normal cycle.

But it is Sunday and the evening was celebrated by listening to the Elvis Gospel Hour on Sirius (I cannot stomach too much of the news on television anymore; the shallowness and quality of the mainstream media is both appalling and saddening) and eating a moon pie. After I finished it, I regretted eating it. So wrong, but yet it felt so right.

Late

From left, Ron Leach, “Samuel Hill,” Christina Alexander and Master of Ceremonies Jim Jorgenson at the end of the dedication during the Portal of Peace Dedication Reenactment Ceremony in Blaine on Saturday, Sept. 6.–MAX BITTLE THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

Late night. More tomorrow.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Break

When you have a million things going at once, you sometimes forget what day it is. Today was once day. An early morning meeting turned into a late morning break to watch a very funny movie, recently purchased through Amazon. A dreary day that was eactually quite beautiful once you overcome the though of it being quite ctrummy outside when it really isn't too bad. A love for good coffee or tea is critical for when the winter einds blow.

Looks like a trip back east may be afoot for work on a whirlwind trip, so hopefully I will be able to squeeze some personal time in there too. And if luck holds out on Hotwire, I will be able to fly from SeaTac to Philly for around two hundred bucks. See, there are some benefits to a souring economy.

Back to my monlighting gig on a glorious Friday evening.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Brr

Here's a picture of my home taken back in May of 2006 when we bought it. 1,100 square feet, 800 if you don't count the upstairs. And plenty of space still goes unused. This is what a cool quarter million will buy you in Bellingham, but fortunately the home prices have still increased a bit for the smaller places like mine since I purchased. Unlike the mid-priced homes ($400-$900 thousand) that have been overbuilt and consequently are flooding the market. And the rest of the West Coast where prices have seen to plummeted.

And today was an article in The Herald about how Whatcom County is ranked the 9th most overvalued housing market in the U.S. Not too surprising, since something like 80% residents make less than $18/hour. But if there was ever a place where you can have fun on very little, Bellingham is it. The people don't really need to impress one another too much, and even those possessing wealth that I know living here really don't flaunt it. Most drive older vehicles, and live modest lifestyles. Those that drive the flashy cars are either real estate agents or recent transplants.

Nothing more to add tonight. Other than the fall settling in. Cold morning, with wonderful clouds enshrouding the cascades on a trip down to Everett today.

US Blues

"Back to back, chicken shack
Son of a gun, better change your act
We're all confused, what's to lose?
You can call this song the United States Blues
Wave that flag
Wave it wide and high
Summertime done come and gone
My oh My"

- R. Hunter

Another day, another government bailout. How can the government bail out these huge corporations with money that is backed by nothing other than the hope we will someday reduce or eliminate this debt of roughly $35,000 for every man, woman and child in this country. Thankfully, we can rely upon the welfare of other more prosperous countries. Or at least those with governments that are less inefficiently operated. I feel like this government is living on those checks that credit card companies keep mailing you to spend money you don't have. Fiscal responsibility is so twentieth century. And those poor corporate execs must will be slumming this year without their eight-figure bonuses. Life is tough.

But being separated from the rest of the US by water and mountains gives a bit of comfort. And hanging on to the remnants of a predictably beautiful summer is also pretty nice.

And the picture was taken a few days back on the Taylor Street Dock.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sun

Yes, I was wrong last night. The full moon cast a pleasant light upon my ride home last night around midnight. Today a smattering of clouds and some more beautiful weather. Busy day today, but that's okay.

It is wonderful how our 'free markets' are being rescued once again by the US government. For the past few years, it was a veritable orgy with this country drunk on profits and multi-million dollar Wall Street bonuses only to have the taxpayers once again pick up the tab. Adam Smith is probably turning in his grave. Meanwhile we have two presidential candidates that are once again nothing more than marionettes of big business that probably won't do a damned thing to rectify the quasi crony capitalism. Oh well, at least we concentrate on important things like guns and abortion. And as most economists indicate, the worst is still ahead of us; Americans get what they deserve.

But was a splendid day today and biking in town all these thoughts run through my head and by the end of the evening, I sit down to write and it seems to be the same thoughts flow to the forefront of my mind. So although myblurb about seems like a tirade, I though it might be nice to address current events or something other than sun and rain and wind. But it was a gorgeous fall day, by the way. The picture above was taken in Fairhaven a few weeks back.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Monday

I sometimes do not think there are enough hours in the day. I have a hard times saying 'no'. So when an opportunity presents itself, I usually oblige. But I am learning to scale things back as my work pursuits begin to escalate and my being overwhelmed is no longer unanticipated and more manageable.

I write from my moonlighting gig tonight - speaking of which the full moon is absent from the front door of my little assemblage of consumer edibles and drinkables targeting to the more youthful demographic - and maybe the clouds are returning after a spectacular fall reprieve of rain. But an interesting article of note came across my electronic desk a few days ago. Upon reading this and seeing what the youth of today are up against firsthand, I am grateful that I am of the age that I am. Being in college now would suck.

Oh, and here is a picture from the camping trip earlier this summer. After lofty plans to camp every weekend, I only made it into the Cascades once. But it was still a great action-packed summer and one of fond memories. I am looking forward to relax this autumn. I hope.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sunday

Another from our bevy of pictures taken last week, just north of Boulevard Park.

A day today of nothing more than house work, painting, ladders (ugh) and gardening. Some musicians were strumming a guitar and playing trumpet a few houses down this afternoon, which sounded pretty neat. That's the extent of the excitement for this wonderfully warm day.

But some people I know and work with had an article written about them in The Herald today. Actually, we bought some eggs off the guy in the picture a few weeks back. Talk about fresh, with the yellowest yolk you'll ever see.

Yes, although it is Sunday evening, I still need to get some reports out tonight.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Zukes

video
When I used to drive through the Pennsylvania countryside, they always advertised cucumbers as "cukes". I wonder if they ever called zucchini "zukes"? If there was a success story this summer in our meager garden, it would need to be the zukes. Baked muffins, stir-fried, breaded...yummy. And the many varieties of lettuce are doing well too.

A day of a spontaneous forty mile bike ride through the woods and around the lakes of Sudden Valley, Alger and back. I biked the same route roughly that the guy a few weeks ago took on his killing spree. When you cycle, there is plenty of time to think in the solitude and rhythm of the pedaling. I thought as I rode up Cain Lake Road of the furor or psychosis he experienced driving down this same road in a rage. Wow, odd thoughts I sometimes think on an otherwise wonderful day.

But if we take our eye off Palin and Ike, we see our wonderful 'capiatalist' system yet to bail out a few more banks - most recently, the federally-backed FNMA and FHLMC after years of fat profits and record bonuses for management. Beautiful Mother Capitalism: Privatize profit, socialize risk. Meanwhile the wealth in this country gets concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer, while the masses slumber. And to think I have more knowledge of finance and economics of any of our four candidates (excepting possibly Biden). Scary.

Oh, and the movie was taken a few nights back on the Taylor Street Dock.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Friday

And another picture taken last night. In the background is the Canadian Coast Range, or I think they call it the North Shore in Vancouver. And that's where I spend a chunk of my day: B.C.

Driving back into the states, it sucked. The lineup at the US border was around ninety minutes. It should be a treat for the Olympics in 2010. At least they are adding on over in Canada.

But at least my day wasn't as bad as this guy. I heard he was decapitated and it took them awhile to find the head. Talk about morbid. Many people have died on motorcycles on Chuckanut Drive this year. I think four or five so far. And this guy was on a 2002 BMW too. I will probably not ride too much more this year. Maybe down to the Oyster Run if weather permits with my housemate.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Taylor Street Dock

video
Yes. Another video. This one was where many, many pictures have been taken and many posted to this blog. We were down watching the sunset and I took this picture while riding on my cruiser. The beginning point is the Taylor Street Dock, and this trail winds along the bay. Some of this used to be old railroad. But now it's for bicyclists, dog walkers and tourists.

I do not know how many more perfect days we'll have like today, so you take what you can get. Another busy day with good news looming on the horizon. Nothing more. The video speaks for itself.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Coffee

And another meeting this morning at the new coffee house on Railroad. A bit sterile for me, but a place conducive to a business meeting. Later was over to The Black Drop for the best-made coffee in town and a cooler vibe.

But on a business note, the real estate market seems to be cooling off quite significantly. And that may be an understatement, where sales were down 36% year-over-year. Fortunately home values of the smaller homes (mine) have remained stable, even though the median price decreased from $275 thousand to $265 over the same period. I don't know why I mentioned that.

What a perfect day. Nary a cloud in the sky all day, and with the Western students returning and a sense of liveliness about.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Nothing

I wish I had more to say, but unfortunately my mind is drawing a blank tonight. I have many balls in the air right now in my life with work and play. But it is a fulfilling life and I've gravitated to an existence of self satisfaction. This can obviously change, but right now things are good. A trip back east may be planned in an effort to gain backers on a project in Pennsylvania. I will probably assist in rolling out this facility, but I am not ready to move back to the East Coast. But getting back there for the fall will be nice. But it will be continuous business meetings back in my home state of PA, and airfares are super cheap from SeaTac.

But right now I am sitting here listening to Lotus Blossom (Jones, Motian, Lovano, Mraz) on Sirius radio at my moonlighting gig. Speaking of which, there is a hearty fall waxing gibbous moon on the rise out the front door of the convenience store where I work with a cool breeze blowing in. How can anyone not love jazz on a night like tonight? And sitting in this store as a purveyor of tobacco, alcohol and processed food to college youth is the most carefree gig that I've had in the past two decades. No worries. Oops, time to close up.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Heads

Tonight was the second Monday of the month, which is the when the local airheads (air cooled BMW motorbike owners) meet. The last two months it was at a place not far away in the Lettered Streets. I went with my housemate and we had a good time. There was a good mix of women there, so it wasn't a bunch of guys standing around talking about motorcycles (although that topis had its fair share of discussion). I think my bike is burning rich, but I will hopefully rectify this when I adjust the timing and synchronize the carburetors. I actually prefer cycling to the motorbike , but I do get the itch once in a while. And besides, it's a really nice group of people.

Oh, and last night's picture was of a friend's bike who lives outside of Philly.

But here is a picture of the older motorbikes parked outside his garage/workshop. It is getting much darker out earlier, and autumn is definitely in the air. It will be nice to see the seasons change.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Birch Bay - Blaine

Working my moonlighting gig today and on to a dinner party. It is funny how recall writing about this same group of people (a networking Thursday morning group) that I have breakfast with every week in last year's entry into this web log. It's been going well past one year, which is much longer than I'd ever anticipated.

But a wondrous sunset on some bay up in Birch Bay at a big, neat, brand new house overlooking the water was a perfect way to end the weekend. I told the host "I'm glad that you invited me here - I thought that arrogant pricks lived in these types of houses. " I wonder if I'll ever get invited back? Their family owned the land since 1963.

But getting north to Birch Bay and Blaine place required riding the interstate for ten miles there and thirty back. Driving at 60-70 mph without a fairing is a drag. Driving over the crappy part of I-5 just north of Bellingham is even more unpleasant. British Columbians rushing back to their big city lifestyle can also add a tad of hurriedness. But I am mostly riding on back roads, so it's always a nice change.

Oh, and to better finish a perfect day, taking a hot tub up in Blaine at a really neat house of a really cool couple...ahh.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Garden Party

Tonight was a garden party at a friend's house amongst the tall majestic cedars and firs and spruces in her garden with bountiful fruits and veggies - a garden that has been in the works for years and years. This picture was taken sitting on the back porch looking at the majestic pines across the street at Cornwall Park.

When I go to places like this, it motivates me to keep at it on my garden. I have a much smaller yard, which is alright by me. But I've made some strides on the back yard this year and I am already planning for next year's enhancements, including the front.

Today was a typical cloudy morning that evolved into a beautiful day. It was a late morning where I spent an hour or two catching up on The Economist (probably the best magazine in existence) with the cool breeze blowing off the bay. And after tonight's chocolate run, a spontaneous conversation with a girl at the bike rack outside of Haggen's turned into a ride towards town together. I turned left onto B Street and she kept going into town.

It's the mellow days like today that I am pretty content with the life I live in Bellingham.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Fall

Here is another picture from Orcas Island.

The air has a nip to it. And the killdeers' calls return to the football field at the high school down the street. I didn't realize it until tonight, but I think that is a sign that the seasons are changing. But everything is coming to harvest, and our meager garden offers fresh veggies on demand. Many types of lettuce especially. And the blackberries are fresh and growing everywhere. I hope I can pick some before it's too late. And and apple tree up the road is dropping apples and it's at a rental property that looks presently uninhabited. Their fruit is a bit tart, but the honey crisps are probably a month out, so these will have to do. Gleaning rocks.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Woods

I wish I could say something exciting happened today, but the extent of it was trying out a new coffee shop on Railroad: Woods Coffee. Probably not my first choice, but I needed to get out - and meet someone too. And cleaning out my e-mail too. Livin' on the edge up here in Bellingham.

But this weekend has much planned, so it is good to get caught up today. Parties Saturday and Sunday.

To the right is another picture taken over on Orcas Island. I should be commenting on the political charade going on in this country, but I am pretty much apathetic towards the sad and declining state of my beloved country. Looks like another election based on guns and abortion, while the top 1% wealth holders averaged an 11% increase year-over-year, while the rest of us averaged only a 1% increase - loosing ground, in other words.

Of 300 million people in the United States, we have the choice of two (or four) cheese balls. One being leftovers since 2000; the other with no more life experience than I. And fundamentally one party. What has become of our republic?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Shots

So I was writing last night just as an attack occurred where I normally cruise on my motorbike. Lake Whatcom, Cain Lake Road, Alger. At the Shell station (on the video in the link above) is where a motorcyclist was shot yesterday. Fortunately he was only hurt. Others where shot elsewhere nearby and six died.

Come to think of it, I stopped at the coffee stand adjacent to this Shell on Saturday during a ride and talked to a woman from somewhere on the dry side of Washington waiting for her husband to return with a rear tire replacement on their big cruising Harley. Strange world. But life is fragile.

Last night was a late night and today an early morning.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Alas

As I sit here at my moonlighting gig listening to Classic Jazz on the Sirius radio quite loud I get a phone call that a deadline is upon us a day earlier than anticipated. Ugh. So I try to work on the project here but I am not having much success multi-tasking and it looks like it might be a late night.

So my thoughts are elsewhere tonight. And here is an interesting picture from the Bellingham Herald. Sailing is something I did not do much of this year. I did many different things this summer, but not much of any one activity. Summer seemed to fly by quickly, and the chill of fall is in the air. At least the weather will be increasingly sunny this week, and temperatures hovering around the seventy-degree mark. Yes, the standard Bellingham Indian Summer is evidently upon us. And for that I am glad.

Back to the spreadsheets.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Oysters

Here's an interesting map showing all the drilling rigs and platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. Here's the key:
Blue: evacuated only; Yellow will require inspection before restart; Red: damage requiring repair; Refineries: Black: operational impact (partial shutdown) Green: Operational impact (full shutdown) Red: Damage likely; Ports: standard hurricane flags for wind
I wonder what this exposure will do to the supplies of oil and natural gas in the US, especially since a significant amount of oil and gas (25% and 40%, respectively) flow through the gulf.

But fortunately New Orleans was spared.

Today was a holiday, I've heard. We went down to look at some commercial property and had a late lunch at the Old Edison Inn, a funky little town that seemed to have its population doubled today with tourists filtering through (maybe us too?). But this made me think of the Oyster Run - a bikers' ride to Anacortes that I may participate in this year with my old beemer.