Sunday, November 29, 2009
I heard that the anticipated results of this year's numbers point to a 1/2% increase in retail sales, year-over-year. I guess this is good from a capitalist standpoint (the GDP needs to increase yearly in perpetuity), I find it surprising that these numbers do not fare better, as the United States becomes more of a service economy. Production, by definition, includes producing, designing, marketing, distribution of a good; everything else tends to fall into the Consumption bucket.
So my musings on a Sunday morning evoke these thoughts:
- As the production base continues to erode in this country, more and more of the economy will be based upon consumption versus production.
- Production jobs (ie, trades) historically have paid significantly higher than service jobs, hence the conitnued decline in wages and the consequent taxes.
- Sickness, natural disasters, litigation, inflation, etc. all drive the GDP. Is this a healthy metric for our country as a whole?
These are all things I can ponder (as I see a patch of blus sky) this afternoon as I do some chores around the house and garage.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Another wonderful day to sleep in, read all day, with the single task of the day being to get to the library to swap Annie Proulx novels (this new one being Accordion Crimes, although I lost energy on the first page and instead started the last of Faulkner's writings set in Yoknapatawpha County that I've not yet raed).
And I randomly picked up a movie that might quite make it to my "list of most depressing movies ever": Before the Devil Knows You're Dead - a movie that I picked up because Ethan Hawke is in it. To this list I might add Requiem for a Dream (watched last night), Midnight Cowboy (although it ends with a glimmer of hope) and Deer Hunter, About Schmidt, or The Ice Storm. I've been compiling a list of depressing moview lately, although I know not why.
Yesterday was clear and the darkness came at 4:30pm. Today it seemed to be pitch black at that time. Funny how much of a difference cloud cover makes. It can be quite relaxing to spend a day on the couch with a good book or two, strong coffee, and a warm, happy dog at your feet.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Other than work, so much hasn't been going on in my little world. I don't know how glamorously I can portray the drive down to Seattle. Once you hit the Skagit flats, it generally turns into an increasingly congested and uneventful trip. But I'm sort of spoiled being able to bike most places and not being confined to a car. How unhealthy.
So my housemate went down to Texas, and it's me and Magilla for the weekend. Fortunately I stumbled upon another Annie Proulx book from the library. She's like the Flannery O'Conner of the High Plains, and once I pick up one of her books, it is virtually impossible to put down.
But in the spirit of the holiday, I am very lucky to have my health, wit, family, wonderful friends and community, food in the cupboard, money in the bank, and a roof over my head. And ugly dog that just got taken for a walk.
Monday, November 23, 2009
On another note: I need to set my monthly Yahoo calendar to remind me to take out the garbage. I pay to have one big can emptied per month. The rest of the weeks the recycling can be picked up for free. Most months, I don't even fill the can up either. But I guess I don't really buy a whole lot.
Although I find communities that don't recycle appalling, recycling really isn't the answer in my opinion. Reducing one's level of consumption is. And living in a city where the mean wage is eighteen bucks an hour, you set your wants/needs bar pretty low, and realize that you don't need a whole lot of stuff. Good quality, and less of it. And oddly enough, I find living with less to be more fulfilling. I wonder if I will feel the same way once my business and its earnings mature.
I stumbled across this picture of the summer that I took last summer, and set as my wallpaper today.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Clouds today, rain and wind tonight.
On another note...
One of the searches that I consistently see that brings people to this blog is for people searching on Bellingham gangs. Now I'm sure there are a few gang members in this town, but I haven't really seen anything exhibiting any great presence here. I knew people in places like Happy Valley or Alabama Hill that talked about a house where gang members lived, but not a whole lot more.
Yeah, drugs seem to be preent here due to being a border town and being so close to BC. But there's virtually no violence in this town and it seems that compared to the first-hand accounts of what I hear in place like California, it's really a non-event up here. Maybe the gangs too are more mellow in Bellingham. So unless they are gangs of benevolence, their dealings in drugs, weapons and violence (am I missing anything?) seem to be either insignificant or effectively beneath the radar.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
But this morning I was faced with a dilemma: ride or drive. I go to a breakfast meeting on Thursday, which entails leaving my house at 6:45am in the near darkness. Add to that the rain, wind and cold, and the warmth of a vehicle can be rather enticing. But this morning I opted for the bike, which surprised even me on this early, damp dawn. And I appreciated that the rest of the day, even though I was able to get out and run errands a few more times into the afternoon in the increasing southerlies, anticipated to subside over the next day. Thankfully.
Might head to the Nightlight (no cover) to see a friend's band open up for a bigger act. I should run becuase I'm sure they've gone on already...
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
But today is another day spent at the desk. Versus yesterday, which was spent up and down I-5. And tonight a pot luck - meeting a new group of people, which is always fun. Not much more going on here. The wind is picking up again. It smells like snow, and today was the first day I needed to wear gloves out and about on my bike. I guess winter is here.
The picture was taken a few weeks ago heading towards town by the library.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Christal Taylor of Bellingham struggled with her kite at Little Squalicum Beach on Bellingham Bay, Sunday afternoon, Nov. 15, 2009. Taylor came out to enjoy the rough weather at the beach with her boyfriend, Wyatt Winston, of Bellingham and dog, Aspen. The National Weather Service has issued a high wind warning for western Whatcom County until Tuesday, Nov. 17, afternoon.
I frequently take pictures from The Herald to post here. Their photographers frequently capture essence and moment of the Bellingham experience. So now that I have the ability to drive more in Bellingham, I find the bad weather much less burdensome. But yet I am clamoring to get outside in the rain, as was lucky enough to run some errands around town in the steady rain. Most times riding one gets moist from the incessant drizzle and you arrive at your destination with damp khakis; today it rained hard and warranted the full rain suit.
But the drive up through the Alger Pass (that's what I call it) was again magical where the mountains touch the sky and disappear into the clouds and this aura enshrouds the towering lush conifers. Although wet, windy, cloudy and dark by four in the afternoon, it was a beautiful day.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Not much more than that happening here. A cold front blew through and it's time to get the gloves out. And put the storm windows on. And those little pieces of wood that cover the crawl space vents. The joy of home ownership. But at least having a small home is quite manageable. And as I've said before, the quality of a coal miner's house built in 1928 from old-growht cedar will probably outlast anything built today.
Those are my musings from the coffee house across from the farmers' market on a drizzly Friday night. Tomorrow is the night to go out; tonight is scary movie night.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
I have always felt that the US was in a downward spiral with its increasing military overstretch around the world to the benefit of the private sector. Not only is this country in an unwinnable war, but the cost is staggaring and retarding any real growth in this alleged economic rebound as we continue to pour money into a highly into a mono-/oligopolistic industry that is not driven by market forces at all.
Here is an interesting link that drives that point home: The United States, while it continues to pour money into a highly inefficient industry the benefits few, will never see the economic resurgence versus if that same money were spent here on domestic programs, such as education, health care or our much needed infrastructure improvements.
Our country crumbles, as we continue to throw money into this futile campaign in the Middle East. And I won't even go into the bank bailouts - "the collapse of our society if we don't bail them out" sounding eerily familiar to the "muchroom cloud over Manhattan" if we didn't intervene in the Iraqi affairs. What a mess. I wish I felt the world was a safer place after the trillions spent since 2001. But I don't.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Here is my housemate displaying one of the daily treats.
I've been told the Rhode Island Reds are a pleasant personable (can a bird really be personable - ie, have the favorable attributes of a person?) bird and love to be petted. I think I will add more next spring. Maybe two or three more.
A long day down in Kent and Anacortes. Fortunately I drove down with a business colleague, which was a nice change and plus, he's a nice guy. There is an army of us worker bees out any about in the world driving in white Ranger pickups keeping the gears of capitalism grinding along (in spite of all the efforts of our taxpayer subsidized corporate banking system to crush small business, but that's another rant). I've never been aware of all the tradespeople out and about. And now I am one. I think. And I never knew how many people drove white, stripped, fleet pickups until I started driving one.
We are everywhere.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Don't get me wrong. I wasn't always a slow poke on the road. I remember in the eighties making the drive down to Philly on the PA Turnpike's Northeast Extension from Clarks Summit. My friend estimated our speed at around 130 miles per hour. I thought that was a bit high, but now that I think of it, we regularly made the 108-mile leg in under an hour. And still had time to pull off for a few minutes and each smoke a Chesterfield King around the Mahoning Valley exit.
But now I am still soaking all the wonderful vistas on the short jaunt down to the Skagit Valley. Tomorrow is down to south of Seattle. It looks like that will hopefully be the extent of my driving for the week. Having a car is certainly convenient, but I miss being out in the elements of Cascadia.
The picture is from somewhere off the Redwood Highway (I think that's what it's called) from I-5 towards the coast on my housemate's recent trek home.
And to think it's been twenty years since the Berlin Wall fell. Tempus fugit.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Here is a short video of nothing really. But when you haven't had a car for two years, driving and other mundane tasks can be rather enjoyable. Fortunately, I haven't gotten into the habit of driving all over yet. The bike is still my primary means of transportation. This is a video taken driving down Northwest Avenue through the Birchwood neighborhood. A typical day in Bellingham: clouds, dizzle, rain, heavy rain, wind, rain, clouds, and then the sun peeks through and a striking sunset ends the day.
But yesterday I needed to go to the dump us in Ferndale in an effort to free up space in my garage. That was a big step. The next will be to get rid of the myriad chemicals and fertilizers that the previous owners left in the garage.
That's about the extent of the excitement this weekend so far. Today will be a day of visiting friends over in Birchwod and later work at the coffee shop. Tonight I hope to see Southern Culture on the Skids at the Nightlight. A Sunday night is always a fun time to go out. And tickets are only twelve bucks. And I've wanted to see this band for years. Looking forward to it big time. It's nice to live between two world-class cities - far enough away that you escape the constant maddening rush of the urbanites, but well placed to see these acts that are traveling between these two point. (Actually, SCOTS is heading back to Virginia after this show, although they did play Seattle the last two nights and Portland before that.)
Thursday, November 5, 2009
I haven't heard yet for certain, but it was said that there were welders on the roof until late in the evening. Imagine being one of those works and the feeling of waking up this morning hearing of the news and thinking "holy shit, I forgot to turn the _________ off last night before I left the job site." And the worst of my concerns right now is making payroll for my emerging company next Monday that recently hired a few more guys. But I'm the east coast finance guy, so I am naturally conditioned to be stressed. Fortunately, I've set some benchmarks for this company and will convince myself to relax and mellow out once this company is on a steady course and even keel.
Geez, it's Thursday night at 6:50pm and the gusting wind is hardly beckoning me outside. But I do feel compelled to ride around in the blowing drizzle. Or maybe just relax tonight and listen to the rhodedendron branches rubbing and rain pattering against the windows. A good night to stay in and listen to some James Taylor. Or go brave the weather and rent a movie.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
One of the neatest things to do in this town (although I rarely do) is to walk the alleys and see the underside of people's lives by the things they have out by their garages. Many, many VWs can be found in the alleys, and it still amazes me how many I still see up and down the highway running in solid shape. A guest Saturday and Sunday and another last night. Time to relax and get my desk cleaned off. But as is indicated by my writing presently, procrastinion prevails.
A cloudy, moist day. And a Grateful Dead concert from a few decades back that I am pretty sure I attended will hopefully help lead me to a productive morning. Tuesdays are great, as I get to settle into the work week. Hopefully no further distractions will ensue.
Across the Rio Grand-eo
Across the lazy river
Across the Rio Grand-eo
Across the lazy river...
Sunday, November 1, 2009
I took you for a ride,
I let you fly my airplane
It looked good for your pride."
-Neil Young, Last Trip to Tulsa
The craziness of Bellingham never ceases to amaze me. Last night's Halloween happened to coincide with a Saturday night which meant thousands and thousands of people in costume out and about. Bellingham's downtown is rather compact, so the main night clubs are no more than a five minute walk.
So it was a night of revelry and excitement and I was lucky to have danced with every hot woman at the Wild Buffalo last night. Not to mention the nubile sprite the flew into my little world and we danced and danced and then she kissed me passionately and flew off into the night, vanishing as quickly and magically as she appeared. (I had to come clean with her and tell her I was was really a man. She giggled and said, "I knew.") Was she ever there at all? Or just a dream?
The night was surreal and magical, even more so than Bellingham typically seems to be.