Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween

After not participating in the antics of Halloween for, say, the last wenty years or so, last year seemed to be a good opportunity to re-enter into this night of craziness and debaucherous behavior in Bellingham. Considering the relatively small size of Bellingham, it was heartening to see the sheer numbers of crazies out and about in full regalia.

So the weather - 60% chance of showrs and the temperature in the mid fifites (It'll take that) - looks promising for tomorrow night. I have much of my costiume put together, which entails dressing in drag. Now I've never dressed as a women before, so maybe it will be interesting to walk a mile in their shoes. But actually, I could't find a pair of 10.5 women's shoes, so that is the one thing I'll need to forego.

I like the line from the Frank and Ernest cartoon: "Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, backwards... and in high heels."

But the women at the wig shop said I could get away cross dressing with my body. I do not know if that was a personal affront or an underhanded compliment. At any rate, the notion of dressing in drag is somewhat awkward to me, but hey, it's only Halloween in Bellingham once a year.

Here is the video to the Trhiller dance they did last year. Something like this will probably happen again this year, as I saw dancer practicing last week across from Boundary Bay in the parking lot are where the farmers market is held. Should be fun.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Business

Here's a picture taken from Western's campus looking towards the north. I stole it from this web site. I hope they don't mind. I'll try to get some pictures soon, but the days are busy and the night falls quickly so far north in the fall. Still, a beautiful time to be out and about in Bellingham.

On a business note, it's been interesting trying to launch a business in these trying times when capital is virtually non-existent for the small business owner. I've mentioned it in the past, but the smaller companies are the ones that create jobs in this economy, while the larger companies are those continuing to shed workers. This will not bode well for the society as a whole, as more and more candidates apply for less and less jobs. That is one of the reasons we've seen a steady erosion of real wages over the past few decades. I read the the number of jobs shed by the companies comprising the S&P500 offset any real job growth by small business (15m lost versus 16m created since 1990).

But we've doubled our headcount since we launched our company and have fortunately had access to creative financing. Unfortunately, the average person unlikely will have to ability to acquire any of the capital to start a small business, furthering the slide of the US standard of living as fewer jobs emerge. At least the banks are doing quite well thanks to our subsidies. We, as Americans, will need to get used to earning less and doing with less.

I am fortunate to have the luck and fortitude to have remained ahead of the curve for most of my life, even in my slacker days. I feel sorry for the millions and millions of Americans that are getting pushed into the lower class as the middle class gets squeezed. I heard recently how the top one percent controls more wealth than the bottom ninety percent. Not a big surprise. And yet we - the dumb-assed Americans - plug into CNN and FOX and believe every word we spoon fed. I wonder when the pain will become so great for the average American that they demand change from our crippled political system? Is it too late?

The United States that I grew up to know and love is no longer. Or maybe it's always been broken, but I've just grown more aware.

Back to the salt mines. Today we are buying more equipment and hiring another employee. I wonder how many worker bees will lose their jobs today in our heavily subsidized financial sector while the mom & pops languish?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Monday

"When the winter rains
come pourin' down
On that new home of mine,
Will you think of me
and wonder if I'm fine?
Will your restless heart
come back to mine
On a journey thru the past.
Will I still be in your eyes
and on your mind?

Now I'm going back to Canada
On a journey thru the past
And I won't be back
till February comes
I will stay with you
if you'll stay with me,
Said the fiddler to the drum,
And we'll keep good time
on a journey thru the past.

When the winter rains
come pourin' down
On that new home of mine,
Will I still be in your eyes
and on your mind?
Will I still be in your eyes
and on your mind?"
- Neil Young, Journey Through The Past

So I have very rapidly become a person wearing Dickies, Wolverines, Helly Hansen rain jacket and a baseball cap driving a simple white ranger pick-up with greying sideburns in a small bord town on the Puget Sound in Northern Washington. That is what I have become in life. And it's not so bad.

Sometimes I think for a moment "where the hell am I and how did I get here?"The end of the line here in Bellingham.

The trip to Vancouver was tremendous fun, as always. To spend Saturday all dressed up and dancing the night away in some club that was great but not really worth the (two hour) wait to get into. But as always, it is nice to leave that urban tail-chasing lifestyle to return to the mellowness of Bellingham, the City of Subdued Excitement. Time to put the chickens away. I hope the rain stopped. Hail today too.

And to continue my fragmented meander, I found a Stevie Wonder CD that my ex left behind and have been listening to it repeatedly. What talent.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Vancouver

A friend came to visit last night from Portland and it was fun to go out and listen to music and dance and be amongst the many beautiful women of Bellingham. It's funny how many people you see out and about in the different places around town. Someone once told me there are really only a hundred people or so in Bellingham, and the rest is mirrors.

But I happened upon a band last night that I'd seen before called the Panda Conspiracy. I saw the name on the Wild Buffalo marquee and that drew us in for a fun night that lasted until closing time. A better night cannot be had beginning at Usice's and ending at the WB.

But now I am sitting here at a cafe on Railroad trying to fisnish a project (but instead typing here) in order to make a trip to Vancouver tonight. I love Vancouver and it looks like a great fall night to experience the night life of that wonderful international city. And it's only an hour away on a good day. The later one waited on a Saturday, the longer the traffic lineup tends to be at the border. Gotta run.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Today

Another week where the days blur together. Last night was an episode of cornering a little mouse in the old stainless sink, and seeing that the poor thing was screwed, I offered him an escape out into the night. And he took it.

I wonder at what level do I have a reverence for life? I guess I draw the line of consciousness somewhere at the place where birds and furry things diverge from the snakes and spiders and other reptiles, amphibians and less developed forms of life. But Magilla and my housemate are leaving for a week to go back to Cali, so it will be a quite few days on Franklin Street.

A month ago , I had no vehicles. And now I have two: A 1972 VW Weekender, and a little 2004 Ford pick-up that I had to finally bite the bullet, succumb and purchase. So I regretfully am no longer a part of the carless enclave of Bellingham, and I hope I do not turn into a fat unhappy denizen of the automobile, like so many people I see. I keep calling it my car, and my business partner stresses “It’s a truck, not a car!”

But my friend Hutch back in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania once told me back in the eighties: “Sooner or later you’re going to need a truck in life; or a friend with one.” I wonder how he's doing.

The picture was taken a few weeks back of my place on the left (yellow) behind the Hawthorne trees.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Hotties

One thing I rarely talk about on this night - and tonight I shall - is the overabundance of strikingly beautiful, earthy women in Bellingham. I frequently refer to them as hotties.

Similar instances have happened to me in the past, tonight being one such episode: I was riding up Railroad around nine p.m. and turned down onto Holly. So I see a little cutie on a funky foldable bike turn onto Railroad away from from me (I'd just turned off Railroad).

I thought to myself, "damn, that would just make my evening complete to see that woman again." Sure enough I met up with her at the light in front of the high school on Cornwall. So we chatted a few blocks while riding up Cornwall and she asked me where I was going. I should have responded "to the ends of the world with you," but instead I soberly said "home," and we exchanged names and I headed for home on Kentucky.

Now that some semblence of sanity and stability have returned to my little world in the fourth corner, it hase dawned upon me that the season is nigh to participate in the odd activity of dating.

Oh, and the glass in the picture is the nice surprises that appear in the house when your housemate blows glass.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Streets

Here is a picture of a random street in Bellingham taken a few weeks back. I think it's quite near my house. Well I think I am close to giving up my car-free lifestyle and have honed in on a 2004 Ford Ranger pickup. Very basic. It was from the local rental place, and just turned thirty thousand miles with a meticulous maintenance record.

Honestly, I am not looking forward to being responsible for a hulking behemoth sitting outside my house and tagging along with me wherever I go. But I have reached a point where it is quite impractical to rent vehicles . I'll hopefully write more - gotta meet with someone...

(Three hours late) Computer is beeping. Battery is low. And it's only 10:30pm and I am getting ready for bed. One thing I would like to achieve this winter is getting plenty of sleep and so far I am off to a good start.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Rain

Oddly enough, the thought of the anticipated rain and clouds seems much worse than when it actually does arrive. Last night it rained really hard, but coming home from the bar was actually refreshing, and I am always grateful that I have a warm, dry home to return to. Everything today is glistening and refreshed and the smell of life permeates the air.

The weather returns like an old friend that you welcome, but you know will at some point outstay their welcome, after a period of time growing weary of them. But for now, it's a nice change, and makes for comfortable refuge in the many coffee shops around town, today's being the Anker Cafe on Cornwall. Recently opened, I find that this cafe has the coolest energy - music, patrons, vibes - of any in town.

But it's time to don my rain gear and head out into the thunder and lightening, an uncommon occurrence in Bellingham.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rock

Here is a picture of the rock I sat on for quite some while a few weeks back as I watched the sun descend over the North Cascades. Not too exciting I guess, but I do not find many opportunities any more to be in an environment devoid of all the unnatural external distractions. And to watch the sun chnage the sky from deep blue to azure quickly followed by total darkness of a star-speckled sky.

As the welcomed rains return, the yard seems to breath a sigh of relief and the smells of life return. Even in my tiny tenth-acre lot that is beginning to evolve into quite a garden. I've read it takes five years for a garden to evolve, and mine is doing well in its third year.

Not much more to say.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sad

"You know, I work on my hair a long time and you hit it. He hits my hair.
-John Travolta

I have never seen Saturday Night Fever in my live, even though it defined my years in middle school. I think everyone owned this album too. So I rented it the other day and am watching it a second time in three days as I sit here typing away.

Today was a day I longed to be working in one of the many warm cafes in Bellingham drinking an Americano and jockeying e-mails and spreadsheets. Instead, I spent the day in the driving heavy rain and wind working a job in Everett. Oddly enough, when I am shaking a cold, I find it much more refreshing to be outside in the chill versus the warmth. Oh, who am I kidding.

But today I dropped off the rental car four blocks from my house and realized it was probably the last times I'll rent a car. You see, I might be getting a little pick-up and will lose my freedom of not having to deal woth owing a car. It was so refreshing to drop off the keys at the rental place and be done with the responsibility of a car. But Enterprise would probably frown upon my using their Prius to carry around oily dripping pumps and hoses. Hopefully I won't get too far away from the warm bikers around Bellingham by becoming car dependent.

The picture is from today's Herald and is of some random people in Bellingham walking to school.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Eggs

It's nice to have fresh eggs finally.The yolks are so incredibly rich, and I can now speak condescendingly of the inferiority of thoose bought in stores versus the ones from the chickens that I raised myself. The chickens appear to be happy and spend a good chunk of the day in the compost pile scavenging through the yard and table scraps that draw the innumerable worms and bugs.

Not much more happening in the City of Subdued Excitement. The extent of the weekend's excitement was the dryer dying. Of course everyone tells you how simple they are to work on, but after the second loud spark (which tripped the circuit again), I was through playing around with 220 volts; 12 volts from a VW battery is about all I can stand.

But fortunately, there is a store nearby that reconditions appliances, and foor less than two hundred bucks, I got a used dryer in pretty nice shape. And they took the old one too! Thank goodness for the Appliance Depot.

The clouds have returned and fall has set in. A June 23, 1973 Grateful Dead shows makes for a productive day. Back to the salt mines for me.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Floor

So when you have an eighty year old house, it's inevitable that you'll have some shoddy repairs done to it over its life. One such plumbing job left for a floor that gradually sagged over the years and needed to be supported by a father/son team that spent a good chunk of the day under the house banging and doing the equivalent of some chiropractic work on the house as it groaned and creaked like a wooden ship at sea. But the foundation got a clean bill of health and I no longer need to be concerned about my house falling into the ground (I worry too much sometimes).

But fortunately, that is the only structural deficiency that my old coal-miner's house had. The consensus around here is that these houses built with the old-growth fir siding will outlast anything built today. I just nee another forty years or so out of it. But now that it's leveled and solid, I can begin the aesthetic work on it.

It's obviously been a slow day, as demonstrated by the excruciating detail of which I describe the silly joists supporting my home.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Housing

The housing market in Bellingham, like in the rest of the country, has seemed to continue simmering. There were a bunch of low-income housing units built downtown a few blocks from my place. This is a quiet corner of the downtown with not much activity, so it will be nice to see some activity in this area, especially since the build is architecturally fresh versus much of the newer, bland tract housing built in many of the other parts of Bellingham, which unfortunately could be found anywhere in the homogenous suburban U.S.

I say that as I sit here writing from a Starbucks Butrlington (I think) in a strip mall that lacks any differentiation from the thousands of other identical strip malls through Generica. I find these places mentally draining and realize how sitting here drains one's body and sould. I wonder if the many teens and soccer moms that walk through these doors are aware how they are no different than the many Starbucks I've sat in in the many cities throughout this country having exacly the same conversation wearing exactly the same clothes drinking exactly the same drinks thinking (probably) exactly the same thoughts. And sadly enough, we all feel unique, while increasingly, we are becoming all the same.

In case you can't tell, I 'm tired and want to return to Bellingham. It'sbeen a long day amongst the sad Seattleites hiding behind tinted windows in a rush to get nowhere fasr. I can't wait to get home to Bellingham.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Dollars

Interestingly enough, I've long espoused the notion of the US Dollar losing its dominance as the world's single reserve currency, something it's maintained since something like 1921. Unfortunately, all oil is traded in petrodollars and there have been murmurs for the past decade or so of other currencies being used to trade for oil - petro-euros, for instance. Saddam Hussein tried to do this in early 2003.

It turns out that countries have been negotiating behind closed doors (BRIC, France, Middle East countries) about bringing basket currencies into play for less volatile pricing of oil. Here is a must read article in The Independent describing in much better details what this entails.

But since the world is awash in dollars, things like commodities, precious metals, real estate and US debt are common investment vehicles to park dollars. Especially US government debt. So in order to encourage foreign investment in the future (when the world no longer is flooded with dollars) US Treasuries (bills, notes, bonds) will need to become more competitive considering the increased risk associated with an ever-increasing deficit, rates will need to be increased to what a reduced amount of petrodollars is willing to support.

Yes, this could be a pretty extreme view. Or is it?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Flight

video
Here's the little airplane that we flew over to Orcas Island in last week. It's a c.1967 Mooney and is frighteningly light and versatile. Oddly enough, I feel mush safer in these little vessels of the sky versus those behemoths that (any more) more closely resemble cattle cars off to the stockyards versus the travel of pleasure of yore.

Weeks ago I wrote an application for federal funds for renewable energy from Obama the Commie. (Just kidding.) I have very strong leanings towards many fledgling industries being supported by governmental efforts and resources. I am also for redistribution of wealth versus it's increased concentration in the hands of fewer and fewer. So I guess by definition, that makes me a socialist. I wish socialism wasn't such an ugly word in this country. Most other industralised nations embrace the concept of governmental constraints and ownership in industries such as transportation (air, rail, bus), banking, health care, ... the list goes on.

What's even sadder, is that few people have any faith that our government is capable of doing anything effectively or without blunder. When I was a child, we were putting people on the moon, and today, we doubt our government's ability to do anything, such as build high-speed rail. ("The U.S.," I'm frequently told, "is way too big for a rail system like Europe," even though the distance from Paris to Aix en Provence is comparable to that of Chicago to Denver; except that the former goes over hills and valleys, while the latter has nothing but Great Plains to cross.) Today, we are nation of defeatists and naysayers, and have given up all hope on government and industry, which are really the same thing anymore.

And I won't even get started on the right-left paradigm...

Sorry about the building rant - I'll stop at that.

But we won some funds and today our work is cut out for us too build out a plant that will adhere to the parameters of the funds and hopefully make some money in the process. Tonight I relax and enjoy the fruits of my efforts. But soon enough, the work will begin again in earnest.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Egg

Finally, the chickens are laying eggs - maybe two every three days. It's always nice to have a fresh supply. And they are now laying in the boxes that we have in the hen house in the chicken coop: it's working exactly as it should be. You see, earlier, we had these chickens laying eggs on the work bench in the garage, near the gate, ...any little niche in the yard. It uncannily reminded me of an easter egg hunt, and in effect , it was, sans religion. The difference between the two eggs (store versus back yard) is remarkable, in both visual and taste.

An the latest on the vee-dub project: I began to wire brush the rust from the floorboards (see picture) and there are very few spots of concern. Four or five small holes, no larger than a BB. I imagine I'll be post a lot on this progress, as reviving a forlorn eVW Bus has been a longtime desire of mine. This one is a 1972 Volkswagen Weekender and needs quite a bit of elbow grease on both the mechanics and body. If you click on this picture to enlarge it, you can see the seaside pattern on the original paneling. Sweet.

Power

A friend visited this weekend from out of town, so it was one of really doing nothing but spending time out and about doing things that I normally wouldn't do, including eating out at Boundary Bay and Old Town Cafe. So the weekend was sucked up and now it's Sunday afternoon and the fun-filled weekend is winding down.

Yesterday was a futile effort at bidding on a piece of equipment at the auction down the street. Although the event was somewhat entertaining, we were quickly outbid on the truck that we wanted. So a bit later we were walking back to the house, and heard a loud explosion nearby when we were near the high school. This turned out to be a transformer that had exploded and caused a power outage for a few hours.

I'll write more when things settle down a bit here.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Work

video
Picture taken Saturday afternoon heading west near the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Back to the daily groove of work and life in Bellingham. And the rains returned and I actually welcomed the smell of the replenished earth and the slowed pace of life. Everyone here changes speeds when the clouds and rain come. And I'm glad for this, after needing to decompress after this weekend.

Some neat memories come to me, but these are overshadowed by the more frightening ones: The bridge over I-5 is 71 feet in height. The boat's mast, the skipper was certain, was 65 or 66 feet from the water (versus the deck). I dunno, but when you're intensely staring straight up at an aluminum mast barely edging up the Columbia River under the bridge holding the busiest interstate in the Western U.S., the five feet or so of wiggle room between your VHF antenna and the girders of the bridge seems pretty god damned close.

But tonight I am of to hear a speaker (or actually three, although I'll probably miss at least one of them because I am sitting here typing versus peddling over there) on peak oil and I'm sure it will be well attended, although I am not a big buyer into the concept of peak oil, although we probably won't be saved by science this time around. The lives of our children (well not mine, so yours) will be far different than our generations have been.

My friend (who flies his single-engine plane) talks about how gifted we are to use the last of the cheap oil for things as convenient as flying for personal pleasure.