Saturday, May 30, 2009

Road

I love this bike. It was quite inexpensive and has excellent wheels and for being seven or eight years old is still in great shape. I replaced the tires last year and liked the originals, so the only place that I could buy them ended up being in Hamilton, Ontario. Thank goodness for eBay.

But I did one of my favorite loops down through Sudden Valley over Cain Lake Road to Alger (stopped for a shot of espresso at the coffee stand right off I-5 at Exit 240) and then back up SR99 by Lake Samish and back through Fairhaven. I wonder if forty miles would be exaggerating? But the deep exhilaration of the vast vistas of the lakes and mountains and sea felt on this wondrous day is most welcome after not venturing too far from Bellingham in the past months other than the occasional trek by car down I-5.

I wondered to myself today if what forty mile would be versus the three or four thousand miles when I (change my aspiration to actualization and) ride cross country? Many activities in life exist where daydreams prior can outweigh the reality.

Friday

I think this picture was taken down at Larrabe State Park or somewhere around there. Actually I found out it's around Crescent City in California.

More nice weather today, and I was lucky to have a friend help me with high schools students with an urban gardening project this morning. Unfortunately, the rest of my day was compacted into four or five hours and I could've used a bit more than that. But I think my schedule is finally manageable. For now, at least.

Tomorrow is a day to chip away at a lengthy list of projects around the house. Still searching for the cheap air fare online, but the fares keep inching up. Tomorrow I may need to bite the bullet and book, regardless of price. But thoughts of traveling back east already make me miss Bellingham, even though I am still sitting here in my living room.But to think I can still fly across the US in a few hours for around three hundred bucks is still remarkable.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sun

Another wonderful day of sun. Someone said it hit eighty today, which is very hot for Bellingham. And an opportunity to work from coffee shops and feel the purity of setting up new business making me feel like an artist with a blank canvas might feel. I can't help it if I feel nerdy feelings sometimes.

This evening we went down to fly some kites in the lawn of the Bellwether - right at the entrance to the harbor. The Cascades to the east, and the sea and San Juans to the west. I think the Buddhists felt that kites tconnected them to the gods. Although today was wonderful, the fluky winds though made for less than spiritual kiteflying.

I believe they are turns that fly over my house. Lots of them. And they make the same exact noises as the flying monkeys on the Wizard of Oz. Each night they fly way overhead in circles in a huge flocks and screech and scream. Sort of creepy, yet coool. The sounds of summer coming on.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tuesday

A day anchored to the desk. But the rain was refreshing this morning and the skies cleared for a beautiful day and evening. Here is a picture of the Farmers' Market on Saturday. Not a whole lot more to say today.

Although I strongly dislike Will Farrell, I have found myself watching Talladega Nights multiple times. Cheesy yes, but there are some very clever lines and it's been a while since I laughed out loud at a comedy.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Toxic

I wonder why we do not hear more about the impending doom looming on the horizon with the Option ARMs to be recast (versus reset) in the next year or two? The recasting Option ARMs, in addition to the Alt-A mortgages, will exceed the subprime mess. The subprimes were approximately $1 trillion in book value; the Alt-A will be approximately $1 trillion; and the Option ARMs will add another $600 billion on top of that. The worst is yet to come. Here is an interesting link, and here is a 60 Minutes story. And add to this catastrophe the fact that many "low-risk" mortgage holders are falling behind in mortgages (click here), and I think we may very well question the logic behind the benefits behind having promoted home ownership. Many, many people should not have gotten mortgages. Neoliberal economics in the self-regulation of the markets in its finest form.

And I am sure that the banks will be lining up for more taxpayer handouts too to shore up there balance sheets. They certainly are not lending: the bankers that I know and have spoken with specifically said that credit has tightened even more since receiving their first taxpayer subsidy. I guarantee there will be more. There is literally no money to lend, and the small business owner is getting strangled. The worst is yet to come. Did I say that already?

Recall that the vast majority of jobs are created by small businesses. In the past twenty years, small businesses have created roughly 20 million jobs, just about the same amount that the companies comprising the S&P500 indice shed through increased productivity, m&a activity, layoffs, etc. in this same period.

I could go on and on, but right now we will just need to accept a lower standard of living for the overall American. Oh, and one last thing: real wages have been lagging inflation since the mid-seventies, but this is the first time in history that actual wages are decreasing in this country (versus real wages). To someone that studied the economics of globalisation, what is happening is the exact textbook model. More struggles lie ahead for the Average Joe. The toxic mortgages are just the beginning.

Fortunately our government privatizes reward and nationalizes risk. An interesting hybridization of socialism and capitalism, and a win-win for the capitalist. All subsidized by you and me.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Hamsterdam

I don't quite know what Hamsterdam was or was not: a block party to excess? A private gig? Whatever it was, a fun time was had by all. Three bands, sun, many empty kegs of beer rolling by with a fresh one replacing it continuously throughout the day as we enjoyed the day. And the Taco Truck that they had on site was an amazingly huge success. An hour wait, I was told, for some eats.

A friend from Seattle visited this weekend (rode up on his '79 Harley Softail) and spent the weekend hanging out and biking around Bellingham. It's nice when someone drops in on a holiday weekend and forces you to enjoy it and relax. (I just wished my '75 R60/6 was back on the road. Waiting on a gasket from California.) I let him use my cruiser (bicycle) and he loved not needing to drive at all this weekend. Back, we sent him, to the stress of Seattle. Hopefully he'll visit again soon.

The picture above is from a glassblower selling hummingbird feeders at the Farmers' Market. (My housemate and her friend from Seattle are both glassblowers and knew this artist.) The low clouds blew off Saturday morning and it's been cloudless since. And speaking of clouds, this is the time of year when you hear of people moving back to places where there's more sun. Although it was a nice spring, the winter was pretty harsh. It can break people. I'll blow outta town for ten days in Junuary and make it back for July's sun and the commencement of summer.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Memorial


This weekend it is supposed to be beautiful. And for the next week too: low sixties and sun, sun, sun. Tomorrow morning hopefully some yard work and then a party where my housemate used to live in the Birchwood neighborhood. The party is called Hamsterdam, and it should be a fun time to see people out and about. I know a few others going to the party also, so I am looking forward to it. And to think that I will actually be caught up wuth most of my work and truly have a day off tomorrow.

And this weekend is the big Ski to Sea event. The race or a parade or something goes down Cornwall - a few blocks away. And I really should know more about this race, but I've never been around for this big weekend in Bellingham. This year I will hopefully participate in some way, maybe nothing more than supporting the athletes. I guess.

Actually with the weather being so nice, I hope to get my road bike down this weekend and go for a forty or fifty mile ride. The riding around Bellingham is wonderful, although one must remember that tourist season will soon kick in, and the impatient, dangerous drivers inundate Bellingham that are in such a big hurry to relax. This is the season where Bellingham is flooded with shiny Lexus SUVs with Seattle and Belluvue license plate holders with blatant disregard for anything on a bike or on foot: a cyclist's worst nighmare.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Pissed

It's funny how I can begin the day stressed and overwhelmed by what lies ahead of me. But as I whittle away at the myriad tasks of the day, I suddenly become more relaxed and at ease. The things that piss me off during the day (like dehumans hiding behind tinted windows: I feel that driving entirely removes one from any contact from physical surroundings; add the veil of tint to this protective view and they are faceless, soulless beings entirely disconnected from their existence), but by the time I come home to relax, the thoughts leave me. (Well almost.) At night, all is calm.

If oonly I could bear to turn off this repugnant horror fil: 13 Seconds. I am not exagerrating when I say that this is by far the worst horror film I have ever seen. On a positive note, if maks me think that maybe I can actually write and direct a horrror film?

Here are some pictures of the chickens in the back yard today. One got lost under the house, but we firtunatelly rescued her. I understand this weekend is Memorial Day. And the weather is supposed to be quite nice.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Blah

Yes, booking a flight on Tuesday versus today (Wednesday) would've saved me sixty bucks. Oh well. It's still quite remarkable that I can fly across the country on three hundred bucks (give or take) in eight hours. I'll try next Tuesday.

I am working with two other start-up projects - on a medical device, and the other a bricks-and-mortar company that is more local but with pretty decent growth potential. I am sure you'll hear more about both.

Watching Talladega Nights again for the second time. A really stupid movie, even though parts of it are hilarious. Enough of my mundane evening. More tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Rhubarb

Another random picture of Bellingham. I believe it's J and Kearny Streets. Very close to my house.

Tonight we had lots of people over to help sheet mulch my front yard. Or at least half of it. Basically three layers of cardboard to be covered with wood chips that will help build the soil and allow me to plant something of use in my front yard that offers either nutritional or aesthetic value versus boring grass. Grass is this country's largest agricultural crop of virtually no value. At least if we could biodigest it..hmm.

But I really think lawns are bland and am glad that a good chunk has been removed. I am also quite lucky to have met a wonderful group of people in Bellingham that are quite dynamic and caring. And the dinner dish was a wonder rhubarb-lentil dish made with rhubard our neighbor gave us. Wonderful dish and a fun night. Tomorrow is a morning to sleep in. But sleeping in means getting up for some odd reason at 7:51am.

Radio

Here is a picture I found taken last October on a visit back east. This is my friend Wilbur who does sell all sorts of radios and tubes and probably has a couple thousand in his home located in the background. He actually gave me one as a present a few years ago - probably a GE from the forties that is both AM and short wave. I told him I would put his picture on my web log, so it only took seven months. Here he is getting a radio ready to photograph to sell somewhere online probably.

I'll be back in PA next month and will probably look him up. I was told airline tickets are cheapest if purchased on Tuesdays. Tomorrow I will find out. Too tired tonight.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Ban

In an effort to watch our weight, we placed a voluntary ban ion ice cream entering the house. That was short lived, as my housemate returned home with two quarts on sale from the Cost Cutter, a store I really do not frequent too much, but it's next to one of the video stores.

The picture is of my square foot garden, which brings out the structured accounting side of me. And it probably is the most efficient way to grow veggies ,and takes the least amount of seed usage. Each square gets its own crop - thirty-two plots in a 4x8 garden. It's actually coming along quite nicely.

A busy weekend and late night. Actually a very late night. And probably an early one tonight.

An aside: A very interesting article on the Option ARMs resetting over the next few years. I think the worst is yet to come for real estate and the languishing economy. Instead of resetting, these loans recast. I am sure you will hear the term recasting used frequently over the next eighteen months or so.

Time for some Rocky Road ice cream.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Bike Stuff

Miniature schnauzers Beatrix, front, owned by Sierra Marsh, and Fritiz, owned by Amy Trowbridge, wait for their owners at the Bike to Work and School Day station in downtown Bellingham, Friday morning, May 15, 2009. The two "office buddies" were on their way to work at the Mount Baker Ski
Area office in Bellingham.–PHILIP A. DWYER|
THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

Today was the third year the I worked the Bike to Work and School Day at the Sunnyland Elementary School. There are these stations located all over Bellingham where volunteers hand out food and drinks and prizes and pretty much encourage people to bike to school (and work). The turnout is always remarkable, and each year it has been great weather. And it's neat to recognize some of the same faces year after year. Some years I've been told the weather was quite crappy. We were lucky. Again.

Then a meeting in Everett where I probably should have been paying attention more than I was, but was instead daydreaming from the fifth-floor corner window office watching a bald eagle soar over city with the majestic Glacier Peak in the background.

And to end the day's excitement, I scored many empty bike boxes from the local bike shop a few blocks from my street. Lots of them. This week I am going to have some friends come over to help lay out three layers of cardboard on a portion of the font yard, and cover it with wood chips. There are many ways to build topsoil, and this is quick and easy. Everything gradually breaks down and you continue to enrich the soil year after year. The part I covered last year is now growing blueberries and raspberries. Who knows what will be planted in this section instead of grass?

And more is sure too follow on my views of how silly and destructive maintaining a lawn is.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Hillbilly

I spent the vast majority of my life in Appalachia (even though it was urban and suburban). So I tried to recreate a bit of the hillbilly theme in my backyard. Actually, it isn't all that bad. If you look closely, you can see the chicken wire. This is where they'll reside. This is the , and once the chickends tak e over, it'll be all cleaned out. In the back of my house is CDI Sign Company. Sort of ugly, but I'd rather hear the ocassional intercom page during the day versus loud partying all night.

It was interesting talking to my aunt on Mother's Day, and I mentioned that we were raising chickens. She told me how she had chickens when she was gowing up, even though they lived in the city. How far we've come.

And oddly enough, my great grandfather, a coal miner immigrant built not one, but two huge wooden houses in Scranton, PA (both, I believe, are still prominently standing and inhabited). So my aunt had chickens and lived in a new coal miners house. (My home was built about the same time for coal miners living and working at the time in Bellingham.) So today, I am living in an eighty-year-old coal miner's house and am raising chickens. And I have an MBA and passed the CPA exam. How far we've come indeed.

Carrots

The carrots are bursting forth. As are many other little plants in the back yard. Tonight was the night we do our little garden party out at different homes around Bellingham. Tonight was at an enchanted little cottage garden out on Lake Whatcom. It was one of those days where the stress just seemed to dissipate once I was amongst friends and the good energy.

The way these parties work, is that I send an e-mail out to a few hundred people every week and anywhere from ten-to-thirty show up at someone's house or a community garden, we work for an hour or two whole a few prepare a meal, and then we all sit and dine together.

I think next week will be at our place, as my personal gardening is falling dismally behind.We will hopefully sheet muclch the front yard, finish the chicken coop, plant some bushes and remove a few too. And leeks seem to be in season, so I will cook something season that I pick up at Saturday's Farmers' Market.

Monday, May 11, 2009

College

I am quite lucky to have a wonderful library at my disposal up on Western's campus. So today I rode up there to do some research and felt the uncanny sensation of being thrown back in time. I would love to get into academia at Western as an adjunct professor, but that's a stretch (considering that I've never really taught in a collegiate setting - or much of any setting, for that matter). But I met a friend in passing at Red Square, and tried to describe Joe Cool to her. But she was quite young and I guess the job I did of describing him didn't cut it.

But it was fun hanging out on campus and I actually knew a few people there. Oddly enough I know (and knew) virtually no one from my extended years of college, as I worked quite a bit and never really participated in the college social life. That was back in the days that one could put themselves through college on $$4,000 in student loans in undergrad, a thirty hour a week job, and a $195 a month shared apartment. Many colleagues told me that I would be good as a professor; much better than a student, I would hope.

Tonight it poured. All night. I had to ride home from Happy Valley and had no rain gear. Yikes. But the system passed through and by the time I journeyed home at eleven the rain had diminished to a typical Bellingham dizzle: They say it rainsi n Bellingham one drop at a time. So I dodged the bullet. Again. And returned home pretty dry.

On nights like tonight I am always glad that I have a warm, dry abode to come home to.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sun

More sun today. A day spent at my moonlighting gig in Happy Valley solving the woes and of the regular customers. I sometimes feel like a bartender. But I was able to get quite a bit of work done, as well as read French (out loud) for an hour or so. I think I'm getting better at my pronunciations.)

The picture was taken of my housemate's bike basket with the hula bobble girl she got in Hawaii. I liked the warm lighting on this picture with the tulips blooming in the background. This was taken in the front yard a few days ago. I thikn she had some eggplants in her basket, that soon went in the garden. Baskets on bikes are a necessity in Bellingham.

This is the time of year when you need to cut the grass twice a week. Usually summer are entirely dry, which is why I read that conifers so well here since they can produce chlorophyll throughout the winter, versus the deciduous trees, that have difficulty producing chlorophyll in the summers that are void of rain.

I was going to bitch about something today, but it turned out to be a nice relaxing Sunday, so I forgot about whatever it was anyway.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Garden

Things are bursting forth. I didn't think spinach was a perennial, but this wintered over and doing quite well. The only real way to learn how to grow things is to just do it. I'm not too good with books when it comes to plants, so it's good to learn on my own by touching and feeling (and having people show me these things doesn't hurt also).

But you will be sure to see many more pictures of things around the yard. I did get some cow manure yesterday for the front yard, and I hope tomorrow is a productive day of gardening, but fortunately my housemate has been more diligent in these pursuits than I.

But the weather tomorrow is supposed to be nice, so the chickens will probably get to run around in the back yard while I work.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Nothing

Today was one of those days where I didn't really stop for a minute. So why does it seem like I go nothing done? And some times I get sucked into the Internet. But not today. So I sit here closing in on midnight wondering where the day went to.

Tomorrow and Saturday I can sleep in though. Regarding work, one of my gigs is thankfully winding down, but two more are gaining momentum. Time to sleep for hopefully a productive day tomorrow.

The picture was taken from a pretty neat article on Bellingham. I forget how cool this town is, and cannot wait to leave for my trip in June. That usually rejuvenates my love for this town; leaving ot make me appreciat it that much more.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Flights

I do not know why I passed up the flight from SEA>PHL a month or so back for $206. Now the fares are lingering in the low $300's. How odd that we can still fly so cheaply across the United States. I look forward to going back for ten days or so. I figure this is about the limit anymore for trips back east. The Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility, possibly? But considering the last two trips had changes to my flights, it was still a hundred bucks extra anyway to the low fares I found online.

Tomorrow is a morning to sleep in. But why is tonight such a late night?

And it looks more battles looming on the horizon against the Taliban. The enemy of the enemy is our ally. Right? Maybe in the eighties. Another shining example, too, of how effective our ever-increasing privatization of the military has been at winning wars. I wonder what the proportion is of merenaries in Iraq versus Afghanistan.

No pitcure tonight. Sorry. Nothing to see here. Keep movin' on...

Monday, May 4, 2009

Gregoire

So today was a horrific morning of having to wake up at {gasp} 3:50am to go to a conference in Seattle.It's sort of fun to go to Seattle, although I thought I would have more time to wander around the city. Instead, I spent it in the Convention Center. Blech. But the conference was very interesting and ten hours flew by in a flurry of talking and handing out business cards.

I thought I would never make it, although once the caffeine kicked in I was fine. Right around ten a.m. And I have never seen the governor (governouresse?) in person. Considering that I abhor any of our political leaders, Chris Gregoire is one exception. It's te first time I think I've been in the presence of a figure of her stature since I was near George H.W. Bush campaigning for Reagan in 1979.


But I am proud to be a part of this movement taking plave in Washington, and the fact that this conference was overflowing with interested parties taking part in this change.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Bikes

I am lucky to have a friend just down the way that restores BMW airheads. So today I picked up the final drive unit that needed some work to be done on it. He does complete restorations, so this was minor work to be done (I, or a previous owner stripped the oil bolt on the final drive - it takes gear oil in three places, and this is one of the three). So that piece is back in working order, and a project that I can hopefully complete this week and get the '75 R60/6 back on the road.

Earlier today, I needed to replace the bottom bracket on my cruiser that was groaning and gnashing under any pressure from my weight. This only set me back twenty-six bucks, which is far better than a car payment. So a day of bruised knuckles and mechanical satisfaction. And of course, the standard business meeting that ran a good chunk of the afternoon.

Off to my moonlighting gig tonight. Gota run.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Peeps

video
A day of bsking in the sun watching the chicks and answering e-mails. It's finally summer here and the temperatures pushed into the low seventies. Here's another picture of the chicks today. They seem to be feeling more comfortable pecking around in the back yard. One was a little bit more wily than the other when it was time to return to their pen. I think that one - the larger Rhode Island Red - is at the top of the pecking order. She seems a bit more aggressive and elusive than the others. And she's the bigest too.

Bu generally they stay together as a group. And when one hid under the back steps today (the last one to be put back in the pen), I brought out the others and to coax her out of hiding with the other chirps.

A long weekend ahead of helping my friend at his shop. He's out of town an I'll help out there over the weekend. It should be a fun time (actually stress free) - especially when the sun is out and people are in a good mood.