Friday, February 27, 2009


I read about this problem - White Nosed Syndrome - in 2007 or 2008 and recall writing about it here. I was listening to the radio last night and evidently the problem is rapidly spreading thought New England and into mid-Appalachia. No one knows what is waking these bats from hibernation in the middle of winter. They leave the caves in search of insects (to eat) but there's nothing to be found since there is little insect life in February. So basically the bats starve to death.

This is quite alarming in the sense that no one knows what is causing WNS, and the entire eradication of bats will wreak havoc on the food chain - especially since they eat their body weight in insects every day. At this rate of die-off, bats will entirely disappear from New England in the next few years.

Add this to the list of ecosystems that have been collapsing in the past few years (amphibians, honey bees, plankton die-off, and most other ecosystems that I am not even familiar with) due to reasons entirely unknown. It is quite startling that life as we knew it on planet earth will be changing drastically forever. Fortunately I have no children to whom I'll leave this well-used planet that's effectively been destroyed in the past hundred and fifty years - probably the most dramatically in my lifetime. Small stuff, as there are more stars in the sky than all the grains of sand on all the beaches in the world. There's probably another life sustaining planet out there somewhere.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Scrap metal at a recycling facility on Guide Meridian is lined with snow on Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2009.–KATIE BARNES | THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

I do not know why the blue lines in yesterday's post. I don't really care either. My quick attempt at fixing it proved futile though.

Snow started falling today and is still coming down. It's a bit late for this to be happening. Especially since the bulbs are pushing forth and the little cute flowers (yeah, I forget what they're called by they always bloom in late February) are bursting with color. I'll let you know some day when I remember them.

Above is a picture taken from the Bellingham Herald tonight. It's one of the most valuable products that we export - scarp metal. And many other scrap items too. Many of the ISO shipping containers arrive on our shores with all sorts of wonderful gadgets and gizmos, only to leave either empty or full of garage and scrap. I guess evolving from a trade economy to a service economy, your products are a bit more difficult to export. That, and the fact that service jobs universally pay less than indstry jobs, so a realignment {(ie, decrease) of aggrgate earnings (ie, income) can be expected. What is interesting is that our overall tax base will be decreasing too.


Hermes Parade
Added by the Times-Picayune on February 20, 2009 at 10:42 PM
MICHAEL DeMOCKER / The Times-Picayune Flambeaux carriers escort the King's float at St. Charles and Napoleon as the Hermes parade rolls on Friday, February 20, 2009

Today was the day flooded with memories of the nineties when we'd make the yearly pilgrimage to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. It was a day of phone calls and e-mails from those that we traveled with and most of the years scored the two-level courtyard Suite 3216 (or was it 3612?) at the Royal Sonesta on the 300 block of Bourbon Street in the middle of it all.

They were some fun times. So today I listened to WWOZ for much of the day and relished the fond memories of the reckless abandon of my invincible years. I'd still love to spend a year living in New Orleans - a city rich in culture and history. Crime ridden, dirty, oppressively hot, corrupt - a city with character like no other I've ever seen. As the rest of the US becomes more homogenized, New Orleans remains its gritty, proud and weathered self.

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Happy Lent.

Monday, February 23, 2009


So Saturday turned out to be a wonderfully successful seed swap that a bunch of us put together for all of Bellingham to attend. Roughly a hundred people attended and it was great to meet neighbors and friends - old and new.

Few people are aware of the severity of food with the increased control of our food supply by corporate interests. For example, 85% of the totmato seed stock in the world is controlled by one corporation, which is Monsanto. I fond it a bit frightening that a company promoting food with links to all sorts of sicknesses in our society, includeing diabetes and cancer is now heading the USDA.

I find it odd that the head of a hugely profitable corporation is taking a step back to a public role. Usually it's the opposite: The legislation that the government officials impose greatly benefits the corporations that he or she then goes to work for.

But all of that aside, it was a wonderful day to bring together many interesting people for our first annual seed swap. I was able to score some heriloom vairietes - some unique only to Whatcom County (like Jack Garlic's White Beans from Ferndale), or another bean variety brought over from Italy by a woman back in 1910. It was an interesting time and hopefully people will realize the importance of saving seeds before GMO crops (which do not bear seeds - those varieties are all controlled and retained by agri-business) make the availability of seeds for the people that grow and eat food a thing of the past.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Sitting here on a Sunday morning and thew clouds and drizzle have returned to Bellingham on a wonderful morning. Working my moonlighting gig at my friend’s shop in Happy Valley while writing a business plan while listening to a 1993 Grateful Dead show on Sirius Radio. It has become my Sunday morning routine to sit here drinking coffee listening to a Dead bootleg and for a few hours sitting and thinking and planning my day. I don’t drive very much these days, so much of the time I once spent behind the wheel with an idle body and active mind was to think and daydream. In our society, we are conditioned to act more and think less. Imagine if your boss walked by and you had your feet up on the desk, leaning back in your chair, looking at the ceiling and when asked what you were doing, replied “thinking”? But I find that more thinking and planning usually requires less action. Especially with work -related tasks. And besides, I’m a slacker by nature, so the less ‘work’ I need to do, the better.

But the Dead showed some signs of strain already at this Cal Expo 1993 show. Although I only saw them for a few years, my fondest memories and recollections of the band’s best run was in the Summer of 1989. I was lucky enough to catch the entire summer tour too. I left Scranton, PA with sixty bucks in my pocket and still needed to but two tickets (RFK in DC, I believe – two shows) and worked my way through tour selling bagels and cream cheese in Foxboro, Busch in Deer Creek, grilled cheese in Alpine, and god knows what else in between (although it was all legal, believe it or not; the beer may have violated a few LCB laws, however). But listening to this 1993 show, (and listening to shows on a very frequent basis, even though I have not seen any of the band members – alone or together – since Jerry’s passing in 1995.

“...gone are the days we stopped to decide where we should go, we'd just ride.”

And as I ended that last passage, and old hippie that used to bee a roadie with the Dead during 1979-82 years (probably the best years of the entire thirty-or-so years of the Grateful Dead’s existence, in my opinion) came in to buy some Cisco wine and a Busch forty. I would say it’s coincidental, but he always comes in around ten on a Sunday morning while I am listening to a show on Sirius. A great guy and I always ask him to tell me a story about those years. He just now told me again how he almost put Bill Graham on his ass after an altercation. But Bill always had bodyguards around him and this guy was just a roadie so he always held off 'cause he knew what was right fr him.

“...clank your chains, count your change, and try to walk the line.”

But yesterday was a great day for us in Bellingham. A goup of us had a very successful seed swap in downtown Bellingham. I will write more about this later when I get pictures. I’ve written enough for this post.

Friday, February 20, 2009


Right: The body of a man who was shot and killed in Vancouver is seen lying on a street as police investigate the scene on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2009.

Vancouver is the closest city to Bellingham and I am lucky enough to be able to listen to the far better Canadian news versus the U.S. news (term used loosely). Unfortunately, there has been a spate of shootings in lower Mainland BC over the past few months, much of it allegedly gang related. I guess there's no easy solution to rectifying this, although additional officers are to be added to the regional police forces. But every morning, the local news seems to tell of another murder.

Murders seem so foreign, living in a reasonably safe town like Bellingham. But I guess they are foreign. I do find myself saying 'eh?' quite a bit to end a sentence, and it seems quite natural. And besides, as much as I bitch about those damned Canadians all the time, we are much more closely connected to them geographically than the rest of the U.S.

And maybe that's not so bad, eh?


Long day, late night. Another dismal day in the stock market too. Basically all the gains over the past decade have been wiped out. Poor retirees that were relying upon there gamble in the equities markets. And quite unfortunate for people like me that had someday hoped to move into the jobs that they would vacate had they been able to retire on time. Add to that the massive offshoring of jobs to the emerging markets and you have a nice recipe of an economy that will be flat for quite some time.

Maybe someday we will realize that perpetual growth of the GDP may not be the best measurement of fulfillment or happiness. Things like natural disaster, sickness, litigation, tuition increases, etc. all indicate strength in out country (and others) Is this really the best measurement of 'progress'? I think not.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


A late night but a beautiful day. I do not know why I have curtailed my coffee consumption, but since I was sick a few weeks back, I've been limiting my coffee and drinking much more tea. I guess it's just a phase. Maybe age.

Tomorrow my housemate returns and I no longer sleep with her ugly dog. Today we went to the soccer field to let her run and play, but there was a little football-sized kid playing soccer and Magilla wanted to play with the little football-sized kid, so that play time quickly ended for us. The kid's owner didn't seem too pleased either. Oh well. (In case you can't tell, I'm not a big fan of kids.)

One reason is I guess tht I feel sorry for kids being brought into this world. It would suck to be growing up in this age, as there really isn't a very bright future for their generation. I read today how this country may be undergoing a permanent decline in its standard of living due to multiple reasons. I find it surprising how the media rarely talks about how this is exactly what the effects of globalisation are. Bring industrialised nations down a few pegs while the emerging nations possess much greater growth potential, whic h happens to translate into greater earnings potential for the many corporatons poised to benefit from globalisation. From an economic standpoint this is common knowledge, but it's not likely you'll hear about this on the main stream media.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Today was enlightening news with the US sending an additional 17,000 Americans to Afghanistan to bring our freedom- and peace-loving ways to the barbaric Afghanis. More pictures like this can expect to never be shown by the US media as the networks show us their sanitized version war and the remarkable weaponry that looks great but doesn't seem too highly effective in winning wars.

The picture above is from an attack where the UN found evidence that the US strike indeed did kill ninety civilians - sixty off them children - back in September. Reports indicate that NATO troops are increasingly killing civilians in thier attacks.

And maybe I am a bit too liberal, but I was under the impression that al Qaeda attacked the US on 9-11, and not the Taliban,who now controls most of Afgahnistan as a result of the US funneling butt-loads of cash to them during the Soviet occupation. From what I understand, the country used to be many tribal leaders with little power due the their vast dispersion. Only through the eighties and nineties did these tribal leaders evolve into regional warlords that happen to be increasingly well armed. And now the enemy of the enemy is no longer our ally.

I think the US will be in for a very, very long occupation in Afghanistan, although a friend told me of the perfect relationship this creates. You need not scratch too far below the surface to read about the highly lucrative global drug trade and the US complicity in this. Stranger than fiction?

Either way, get ready for more blood. Just don't expect to see it on your televisions in the U.S. Americans demand better than that.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The End

Here is a picture of the farmers' market from the summer time. But the dry spell continues and it's been a beautiful spell for that looks like may continue for the next few days. And more reasons to ride my new bike that I have not purchased fenders for yet.

But it looks like tomorrow is the day we switch to digital television. Actually, we didn't buy the box, so it looks like we'll either forgo television, or buy rabbit ears to pick up the Canadian stations, which evidently don't have the electronics lobbying muster that the U.S. has. We only received one channel anyway, so it's not a big loss anyway. I will miss occasional breaks at 1pm to watch the Rockford Files. Or the eight o'clock movie they showed every night.

No big loss. Looks like I'll just listen to the radio more. I was never a big fan of t.v. anyway. Just background noise while I typed away on my laptop at night.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Two law enforcement officers guard the front of a house as another heads to a nearby alley as they surround a home near the corner of W. Indiana Street and Meridian Street in Bellingham Saturday February 14, 2009. A man had threatened to shoot five people after a family altercation and lead police on a chase that ended in a standoff at his home.

Violence erupted in Bellingham yesterday when a crazed killer and potential mass murderer went on a shooting rampage throughout the city. Actually, it was more like some wacko holed up in his home after an altercation with Bellingham's finest. You can see the level of intensity in the highly protective riot gear worn by the two officers on the left. Oddly enough, I went to some friends' house one block away, and it's actually a nice area.

The crime in Bellingham is virtually non-existent , save for petty theft and car prowl - a term of which I'd never heard, but I think means breaking into a car. I grew up in a similar-sized town (Scranton, PA) and the violent crime there was much more frequent even thirty years ago. This town of 70,000 or so still gets about two murders a year. And a few other unnatural deaths usually attributable to the sea or the mountains.


...tomorrow. Time to sleep tonight.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Week End

A night with not much to write. A busy Saturday tomorrow awaits.

But here is a cool picture of Mount Baker that I stole off the Google Images. I hope to get up to Mount Baker for some vistas from afar such as this. Actually I think I should give some credits to the photographer: here and here. So I guess I didn't really steal them after all.
A few more days of no rain - just clouds. So that means a few more days of zipping around Bellingham on my new super light, one-speed bike.

I was surprised that the price on th above link was one of the cheapest I could find on the Internet, and I bought my at the bike shop around the corner for eighty bucks less than their online price. Bargains can still be found in your backyard. And to think that all the cardboard from the bikes shipped to their shop went to cover part of my backyard where I took out the grass last year. more to come this year. Or should I say more to go?


Unfortunately I need to bike past this new building a few days out of the week. But fortunately, it is dark out so I don't have to see its ugliness. That will change though as it is is staying lighter out later and later. This picture was take a few months ago and unfortunately they never did anything more to this new architecturally depraved condominium. I thought they might at least add some barbed wire or graffiti to it to increase its aesthetics, but no. This looks like a placed I'd have a lobotomy performed; I wonder if the front closet has straight jackets for the 'guests'?

But at least they've tried to be creative here. And one benefit to owning this property (situated right at the increasingly congested railway crossing at Broadway Park - I hope the occupants are sound sleepers, although they probably are heavily medicated) would be that living inside of it (replete with rubber walls, I'd imagine), you'd never be forced to look at its exterior.

I wonder if this country is going into a period that will some day be viewed as the Dark Ages? Very little importance is placed upon the arts, music, aesthetics, morals, culture, literature, ...whether in academia or society as a whole.

But out of all fairness, a friend of mine who is an established architect in Seattle told me that the building codes are so restrictive and cumbersome anymore that this has enervated much of the architectural creativity in present day society. And furthermore, many new structures aren't even built by architects, but instead by craftsmen. An art that is another casualty of "progress". So sad.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Although you probably won't read it too widely in the US media, the Chinese lobbed a shot across the bow of the United States by asking for an implied assurance that the US will be able to guarentee its debt that China, among others, has been increasingly shouldering. Quite an interesting scenario, where China's purchase of US debt instruments has allowed the US should loose credit terms that consequently fed its economy buying increasing amounts of cheap consumer goods from China. A win-win situation.

But once the reality of the US ever being able to make good on its debt payments sets in, the party is over, and foreign governments begin to either buy hard US assets (versus debt or currency) or reinvest in their own economies - the RMB being pegged to the US dollar so it will have little impact upon the subsequent fall in the US dollar or increase in interest rates (hyperinflation?) to attract foeign investment. (There is no level of savings in the US to accomodate the huge debt funding requirements of our government - we rely entirely upon Asia countries with whom we have significant trade imbalalnces, or countries like Saudi Arabia, awash in petrodollars, but primarily the former.)

Basically the only way out of this trillion-dollar deficit mess is to drastically collapse the value of the US dollar, or through hyperinflation - neither being mutually rexclusive - to reduce the debt obligations to the rest of the world.

Three interesting links that are more thorough than what I wrote are here, and another, and another. Oh, and here is the source blog I frequently read.

Oh, and the picture is of Cornwall Avenue downtown about ten blocks from home.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Linux Ubuntu

Okay, so I have become increasingly less computer savvy in my life. My knowledge of computers peaked around the time Windows did - back in 1995 with v3.1. So I have a new Dell 1525N installed with Ubuntu (Linux) versus the increasingly fragile and shoddy Microsoft Windows. Linux is stable as a rock, but admittedly so, I need to learn to tinker with it. Now one problem is the sound which has not worked since I purchased it, but I have found some info on the Dell Wiki that I'll try out at some point.

Another problem I had was not being able to log into my Yahoo or Google accounts, but that was resolved tonight by clearing the cookies (Tools> Clear Private Data) and changing the proxy settings (Edit > Preferences > Advanced > Network > Settings). One or both of these things fixed the problem.

As I use the Windows XP for work and the Ubuntu for pleasure, the jury is still out on which I prefer. The Linux is so much more solid and faster but has a bigger learning curve. It is an added challenge that I am willing to undertake, as with the new version of Windows reportedly having even more problems than Vista (as well as being more expensive and less stable), I feel the point will soon be crossed where Microsoft is dethroned. Maybe I am a pioneer, or just gullible.

Not much more to say. Didn't leave the house today, and my housemate is off to Hawaii tonight, so I will be dog-sitting Magilla for the next week. She already is mopey.

Not much more to say on a cloudy and chilly Pacific Northwest day.

Monday, February 9, 2009


A friend suggested that we ride to Glden Gate Park on Saturday to hang put for a bit while we were riding around San Francisco. My memory of this park is that it sits at the top of a big hill at the top of Haight Street. But he showed me this route called The Wiggle. It turns out that this route avoids many of the big hills to get up to the Panhandle of GG Park. This was great learning an alternative route, as some of the hills on a straight course on a map can be tourtorous.

With that being said, I was amaze at the number of cyclists in San Francisco. I was surprised thouhg that not many wear helmets, and they are very aggressive in their riding tactics. I wonder if Bellingham has the same proportion of cyclists as San Fran?

It's nice to be back in Bellingham though. I actually stepped outside of SeaTac Airport and welcomed the clouds and mist on my face. But the winter is beginning to lighten up and signs of spring are emerging here in Bellingham.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


Today is a day to make my way to the airport to return home to Bellingham. But yesterday's ride around San Francisco was a great time. Basically, this city (I've been told) is seven by seven miles. And having a bicycle to get around town is a wonderful to experience it on a warm and sunny California winter day.

I rented a bike from across the street from the hotel where I am staying in Cow Hollow and went to visit a friend in the Mission. The Mission is a neat neighborhood with funky shops and weathered appearance, but it was generally clean and full of activity.

From there we biked up to Golden Gate Park and then down to Ocean Beach (see picture) and then back to Dolores Park to end the day. It was a full day of cycling coupled with adequate relaxation. I was lucky to have a friend show me around too that was was in the midst of an apartment move.

Time now to get some coffee and then catch the Muni/BART to SFO.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


So Thursday night we are working on this presentation into the wee hours of the morning. And basically - as I don't like talking about it, as it raises my blood pressure - my computer got a virus and I basically lost everything. Again. Hopefully a back up will prove effective, But living in the electronic age, I've come to understand the meaning of impermanence. Iwonder if this web blog that I've constructed over the past 500+ posts will some day just disappear? But we reconstructed everything on my colleagues 1999 Windows NT (the only decent Windows product ever produced) laptop with a faulty power cord.

So I sit here in a coffee shop that I frequent when I visit San Francisco. It is a beautiful day in the city whose nickname currently slips my mind and I am sitting here daydreaming about riding my new bike in Bellingham and thought, geeze, why don't I enquire about renting a bike here for the day? There's a bike shop right across the street where I am staying on Van Ness. So although there are many things happening my mind, the wonderful weather and city beckons.

And I was tempted to stay in the hotel all day and watch the hundred channels on a snazzy new HDTV.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Mona tried to tell me
To stay away from the train line.

She said that all the railroad men
Just drink up your blood like wine.

An' I said, "Oh, I didn't know that,
But then again, there's only one I've met

An' he just smoked my eyelids

An' punched my cigarette."
- B. Dylan

Today I pulled myself away from the spreadsheets and e-mails and got dirty at work We have railcars full of biodiesel at a yard in Mount Vernon and today I learned how to unload them into a tanker trucks to send off to points north and south. It is nice to see how the nuts and bolts of our company work. And to come home with the sweet smell of biodiesel on my clothes and grease under my fingernails made for a hearty and fulfilling day.

But that will change, as tomorrow I am off to San Francisco with our dog and pony show, donning my suit and tie and suspenders and wingtips, and courting investors in our California project.

By the way, I pulled this picture off the Internet (it looks like somewhere in Wyoming) - our rail cars are much shinier, which means they are more slippery at eight a.m. when they are covered by the morning frost. Safety counts, as it is a long fall from the top of these tank cars.

I am not certain when I write next, although we are staying in our favorite San Fran motel, which is cheap as dirt, and right in the middle of everything. And thankfully we can take Bart and Muni everywhere. Not driving in the city makes it so much more enjoyable.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Tonight I did something I had not done in a few years and that was go to a Theravadan sitting. They've since moved to a new place called the Red Cedar Hall near the co-op. Taking forty-five minutes for meditation out of my life of always being occupied was much needed.

A friend once told me that I needed to meditate.
"I don't have time to meditate," I told her.
"Exactly," she replied.

I hope I return.
The Red Cedar Dharma Hall.
Breath. Silently. Breath. - a haiku by me

Monday, February 2, 2009

Felt Curbside

Through a few logical maneuvers, I managed to convince myself how necessary a new bike was. So I picked up last year's model of a Felt Curbside - a single speed (or fixed gear, depending on how you mount the rear wheel) that is fast and designed as a messenger bike. My old cruiser bumbles along at a comfortable pace, but this new bike really flies. For example, getting to my moonlighting gig normally takes twenty-five minutes on my old bike versus fifteen minutes on my new bike. And did I mention it's fast?

But in with the new, out with the old. That means one of my bikes needs to go, and it looks like it will be the old 1973 Schwinn Suburban. It's in the garage and I haven't had time to replace the derailleur on it, so it will be given to a friend who can hopefully give it the attention it needs.

But now it's back to relearning Powerpoint, which I've been using since 1996 But the new version is an entirely new product, so it's back to square one - sort of like reliving a bad part of my life when I was introduced to Microsoft the first time around having this sensation that it would cause me immeasurable grief in life. I sometimes wonder if never having computers would have really made my life that disadvantageous. I wasn't that dissatisfied with Microsoft Multiplan that I began using in 1984 and the impovements never really offset the frustrations that accompanied subsequent releases through the decades. I wonder how much the new Office actually impedes productivity in our economy. Maybe Bill Gates is responsible for this recession?

But after the pains and rigors of using Microsoft during the day, it's aways good to be able to use the Linux Dell. What other company can deliver years and years or increasingly bad products and still retain such a huge market share?

Oh well, back to thinking about my bike.


Another week begins and I awoke startled at the magnitude of things that need to get done. At least my trip to San Francisco the latter part of the week will make me ultra-efficient on the former portion. But I have along list of tasks to complete by Wednesday.

But as I cross the tasks off the list and my life becomes a bit more seemingly manageable on a Monday mornings, as the juncos and finches feed at the thistle feeder (I cannot see the sunflower feeder around the corner, although a large flock of Cedar Waxwings passed through last week) and the dog slumbers in front of the fireplace. And we're supposed to be this highly intelligent species as we work our entire life to aspire to the being that domesticated dogs have always and solely known, as well as the birds outside. At what price does this level of intelligence come?

At least I enjoy what I'm doing, and can leverage my disdain for prior livelihoods to have arrived at a point of existential self-satisfaction.

Back to the salt mines.