Tuesday, December 29, 2009


SO I am sitting here typing away watching a movie cleaning up a Quickbooks file being a general dork not being nearly able to comprehend the thoughts that six months from now I am usually gearing up to head out for the evening to watch the sun set with two hours of the day remaining - the best part of the day; today I am deep in the throes of winter feeling inclined to already wind the night down at 7:25pm. I got nine hours of sleep last night and hope to get another nine tonight. I am following the lead of our resident dog, Magilla. She seems to be sleeping twenty hours a day versus her otherwise active summertime of sixteen hours of sleep.

I think all mammals fare better by getting more sleep in the winter.

I found some old pictures. The one below is the wall a few blocks from my house (behind the high school) where there used to be a graffiti wall. A free form canvas allowing kids to express themselves in one of the few places where it was tolerated. They now occasionally scribble something there and it soon gets painted over. I really miss the old wall.

(click to enlarge)

Monday, December 28, 2009


Maybe I'm getting a bit too soft and liberal up here in the land of moisture, but isn't it odd that this latest terror effort occurred (and just when I thought flying couldn't get any less pleasurable, as I am planning to go to the other corner in few weeks) on the eve on Mr. Obama asking Congress for another quarter trillion to fund the increasingly futile effort in Afghanistan? (Sorry...I heard this on the radio recently and can't even find a link.) Or the additional quarter trillion that the Treasury offered the FNMA and FHLMC to further "nationalize" them while their top managers are compensated millions while their "companies" fail? Another false flag? Another distraction? Be afraid America. And stay tuned to CNN and FOX.

I (really) could go on, but I won't. The truth is out there and all it requires is turning off the television and seeking news elsewehre. For the amount of information literally at our fingertips, we are a very ignorant and homogenized society.

It was a great day of shuffling papers, listeing to WWOZ and a pleasant drive again to Anacortes. The more I go to Anacortes, the more I like it. A wonderful little seaside town that still retains a lot of its charm. And before I moved here, it was the closest I'd ever been to Bellingham, as we (married at the time) decided on moving to Bellingham in 2005 before ever visiting. But that's another story for another time.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


I wish I could say my weekend was action packed, but it was generally without much excitement. And for the first year in many (maybe ever?) I didn't purchase any gifts or send out Christmas cards (does chicken feed for the hens count?). It was a season to reflect, make plenty of phone calls, and realize I need to get outside a bit more when the weekend weather is just wonderful (like today and yesterday and Christmas too) with the temp around fifty and nary a cloud in the sky.

So let's see, yesterday was a trip to Anacortes and a leisurely drive back up Chuckanut Drive, remembering how absolutely beautiful the area is in which I live. I remember living in cities back east longing to escape elsewhere and wondering about life on the West Coast. For much of my life it was a fantasy world that existed out here and now I am living this dream, but not without its bumps and bruises along the way. And I've never lived in a town where people continuously comment on how much they love it, until now.

So the culmination of the weekend was learning how to replace shingles on the roof of my garage. It looks like a greater project lies ahead for the aging, moist wood beneath the roof (two layers), but that will be another project for the summer. Today was a quick fix, and again, I was distracted by the 1972 VW Weekender in the garage. Some progress has been made. Pictures will be posted once I wrangle the camera from my housemate and get some fresh shots.

But that's all the excitement, other than the neighbors' Barred Rock hen hanging out with our RI Reds, and they seem to get along quite nicely.

Friday, December 25, 2009


Although I took this picture from this site, the boardwalk is where I spent my afternoon biking in the wonderful sunny weather. And although it was Christmas, hundreds of others had the same idea. I never saw this walkway so crowded with so many people.

At any rate, a wondrous day - I met someone on the trail (it happens more than not) and we chatted for quite some time. And the family phone calls. And some quality time with the dog.

It's amazing how much I eat when I just dawdle around the house. Oh well, the computer battery is beeping, so nothing more to say for tonight.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


So was driving down I-5 on Tuesday wondering why the mayhem of dangerously aggressive drivers in such a hurry - cutting people off, driving like Californians (or worse yet - New Jersey drivers) - oblivious to the grandeur of this normally gentle interstate winding through the mountains and valleys of this beautiful land, and suddenly realized that it was because it was a holiday week - an inordinate amount of license plates from BC (notoriously aggressive drivers, yet a cash cow for the local law enforcement coffers, as our northern stretch of I-5 is very heavily patrolled and the Canadians are very easy pickings; I remember getting pulled over - on the Oyster Run in Bow, Washington for exceeding the speed limit, and twice, by two different cops, I was asked if I was Canadian. I was let go with a warning), and those with Lynnwood, Bellevue, etc. plate holders on their expensive cars with tinted windows and empty, harried faces inside.

We often times discuss why the urban set in always in such a rush, and concluded that that is the way of th lifestyle in those parts: spend more, eat more, consume more, want more, make more; get richer, fatter, sicker, needier, further in debt - and I really do not know why. Thank goodness that I've broken from that mold. Over my lifelong experiment (on myself), I've shown that there is an inverse relationship to wealth and happiness. Launching my business over that past year, my earning were equal to what I made back in the pre-Clinton years. But I am more satisfied and fulfilled than I've ever been. But that could be maturity too.

Oh well, another Christmas, and wishes to everyone a Merry Christmas also. If you're not a Christian (I guess am, albeit very loosely), I wish it to you anyway. I've celebrated holidays like St. Patricks Day with fervor, event though I have not a drop of Irish blood in me. I still wish people a happy St. Patty's Day, and take no offence when they wish me good tidings too. How silly and watered down our society has become. No wonder we incresingly lack such depth and meaning in our communications - any more it's one size fits all, and that's too bad.

Don't mean to be a downer on a very upbeat day, but I've been thinking about these things over the past few days.

Monday, December 21, 2009


I recently started a business here in Washington in tough economic times, and the task in one of the most daunting challenges that I've ever face in my entire ever-lengthening life. And most of the businesses that I encounter seem to be struggling noticeably. Bills get paid late, cash flow restricts, and the effects ripple through the entire business continuum. I wonder how much longer some of these businesses withstand this nonexistence of capital? And how can these bankers sit there so smugly as the small businesses decay?

As we all know, small business create most jobs, while large businesses shed jobs. The fact that the small business lacks any and all support in the form of capital (as the banks continue to defensively shore up their reserves instead of lending the money as their charters and purposes suppose while they strangle business owners - and I probably am speaking for many of the mid-sized businesses in this country also, as they too are impacted by much of the receivables owed to them by the small businesses - again, the ripple effect throughout the economy, but I digress).

And I live in a part of the country with one of the stronger economies. I can only imagine how those cities of post-industrial decay located eastward fare. I hate to be a doomsayer, but I think the real tough times are still ahead for this country and its economic and social stability and viability.

But I do feel grateful for the opportunities bestowed upon me in this life and by my ability to escape from my scrapes relatively unscathed. But sitting here in a coffee shop whittling away at 6:29 on a Monday night - doing just about the best I can do, as well as a sweet 1979 Spectrum show from Philly - the golden years, and I really need little more.

I wonder of The Spectrum is still standing? I was there once. Fall '88.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


This picture was taken last summer of a park sort of close by.

So I failed to send out Christmas cards this year - probably the first year in many that I did not do this. Oh well. Instead, I will try to phone everyone that sent me one, and then some.

Spending a weekend indoors, tinkering around on my '72 VW camper, reading, eating, sleeping, drinking coffee, getting caught up on work, napping,... it was a relaxing weekend. In a few weeks I head to The Keys for a few days, but until then I hope to do little but work and relax and starve myself of Vitamin D.

But tonight I biked down to the Firechouse Cafe in Fairhaven to see a friend's performance of music and storytelling called Ladders to the Moon. It's great to have these things in Bellingham, and I was surprised to see so many people in attendance (standing room only).

A wet dog returning in from outside and the rain dappled windows mean the drizzle has returned, which is quite refreshing.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Here is the bridge and creek right next to the post office in town. A picture obviously not taken today, although I recall something called the sun; just wait until the deep throes of winter - still ahead - and Solstice has not even hit yet (although I was invited to a celebration on Monday at a friend's house).

Some days when I am at peace, I walk along this trail. Most days however, like today, I biked to the post office and then to the bank, and forget about this gem nestled in the bosom of Bellingham.

Another winter day where much was planned, but some extensive cleaning took place, especially in the kitchen. It was never that messy, but sometimes you need to get the toothbrushes, Brillos and Comet out. Having a clean house always makes me feel a bit better.

And a Ry Cooder CD, I, Flathead, keeps getting played again and again on my CD player. Another musical door I've opened on a fluke: There's a cute librarian that I see all around town and I whimsically grabbed this CD so I could check it out and talk to her. A great choice.

Friday, December 18, 2009


Yesterday I was able to travel to many points south and once again realize how lucky I am to return back to Bellingham to my 1928 coal miner's house. Renton, Tukwila, Kent, Auburn, Seattle,... in my trusty little pick-up with my laptop by my side with Mapquest guiding me over hill and dale.

After a general day of stressful traversing King County, I headed north on the interstate and jumped off at Everett at a fueling depot. Staring up at the soulless concrete bridge of US2 high above - starting here and heading all the way across the country (much of this route I've traveled in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York and Minnesota). Another guy pulled up in a panel van - he was heading south and I was heading north. A friendly exchange of words and I was on my way.

I guess people as a whole are wonderful and warm. It's too bad we live in such a fear driven society. My day's dénouement at a CFN in Everett.

And weather wise it was a typical Pacific Northwest day, with only only one cloud in the sky: It stretched from Kelso to Ketchikan.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


I try to listen to the US morning radio, but have become increasingly dismayed. It's usually the same sequence: A few vague news stories, advertisements, menial opinionated banter, weather, repeat every fifteen minutes (including the same exact news stories). Yes, I am speaking of the local AM station KGMI. And I am lucky that I don't need suffer through the screaming pundits that seem to take up bandwith throughout the day. I find KGMI painful to listen to, even though its homey feel is quaint for a small town like Bellingham.

My father worked in radio for virtually all of his life, and we frequently lament this dismal and further declining state of radio in this country. He's been a radio broadcaster for most of his life, and although he still does in on and off part-time, it's all computer driven and pre-programmed, so there's no reference to real work events, since it will be broadcast at a future date. But that's another story.

So instead, I find myself tuning to a much higher caliber of radio from our northern neighbors, which includes CBC Radio 1. This is a slightly better quality of programming and more varied than, say, NPR. And more objective too (although I've grown away from NPR as a news source). So I find myself more abreast of Vancouver's news than Bellingham's or Seattle's (did you know that Vancouver's apartment vacancy rates increased to 2% this year versus .5% in October of last year?), even though we're much closer to Vancouver than Seattle.

And since I don't watch the television, I find my nights spent reading and relaxing to CBC Radio 2, which is a pretty mellow station with music that is very fresh and varied. And good to wind down the night with.

But not to bash all US stations, there is of course the lower end of the dial where the gems like KPLU and KUGS reside. And WWOZ in New Orleans but that's far, far away.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Cold Rain and Snow

Caleb Bowe said they "thought we would do something different this year," when he and his girl friend Melissa Escareno-Sanchez built an upside down snowman in Blaine Sunday , Dec. 13, 2009.–Philip A. Dwyer|staff photo]

One time when I was working as a yacht broker (hardly a glamorous job in Bellingham unless you've made lots of money somewhere else) I met a Norwegian couple up in Blaine to look at a steel forty-something foot Angelo Lavranos that had seen better days. (But that's another story.)

They chuckled when they found that the cafe was closing early because of the weather. The weather that winter day a few years back was similar to yesterday's: a thin layer of snow that instantly created a sheet of ice on every roadway surface, including the interstate. Cars were strewn about - a common site being the SUV with BC plates in the median or ditches. But coming from a country where everyone has health care probably makes them more prone to take chances; or they're just worse drivers.

But I guess my point is that the roads really do get treacherous up here in this corner of the world for the relatively little amount of snow that falls, and I've live in the Poconos (and other parts of Appalachia) and Sierras where much more snow fell with less treacherous conditions. Fortunately the temp will continue to rise, as the welcomed beads of rain coat the window tonight.

It was a day from hell today, so I am glad that I can write here and reflect upon the things in life that bring things into perspective. Now if only this stressed- and self-induced work related headache would go away.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


So today was a drive in the treacherous NW ice on I-5 up to the border to find out some information about crossing into Canada with some equipment to do work in Point Roberts. After visiting the border today and yesterday, my cursory assessment is that the Canadian side of the border should be adequately prepared for the incoming Olympics traffic where thousands upon thousands will flock into Vancouver in two months. Unfortunately, the US side had (although what appeared to be fully staffed) lengthy lines and long waits for what seemed like a typical Saturday.

I hope people that stay stateside for the Olympics don't expect to be whisked through customs unless there are some surprises by the US border officials. I've waited for hours to cross into the US on an average Saturday, so it wouldn't surprise me of the waits exceed three or four hours to return into the U.S. A much wiser choice would be to stay in BC, although many murmurs can be heard here about how tourists will fall in love with Bellingham and its everpresent low cloud cover, drizzle and darkness beginning to fall at three p.m., and decide to move here en masse, only to stay for a few winters and sell their house at a sizable loss (once the next wave of recasts and resets hit) to move back to warmer, sunnier climes.

I'm not really a fan of the Olympics, so it is really a non-event for me. It stinks of more corporate subsidies burdened by taxpayers, and not really a whole lot of benefit to the community. But I am sure that a handful of well-heeled Vancouver businesspersons stand to profit handsomely from these games.

Time to take a nap. A fun, fun party last night followed by too little sleep.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Behind my house is a business where one of the chickens - I think Gracie (I still don't know their friggin names, all I know is the bigger one lays her daily egg in the morning and the smaller one lays around eleven) escaped to yesterday. But one of the workers chased her from their yard and fortunately I was out back and he let me know she flew the coop (which is a first for either and I hope not an evolving trend). We talked for a bit about chickens, and although he didn't have any, he grew up with them.

I need to add some fencing to the top of my wooden fence. Someone told me that where chickens can discern the top of a perch (like my wooden fence five feet up) and that they will fly to it, whereas something like chicken wire is much more effective as there is no defined top to it. So basically, the two feet of chicken wire works much better than the five feet of wooden fencing for the chickens in my yard.

The picture was taken an hour ago. The clouds have returned to Bellingham, and it must've been above freezing yesterday, as there was no ice on the chickens' water.

Looks like Tahoe is getting pounded as we speak. After living there for two ski seasons, a four foot dump was not uncommon.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


So for some odd reason I chose to bike to my morning meeting versus drive. I guess not so odd - given adequate slep the night before, I would much rather be cycling versus trapped in a car, even at 6:45am in the dawning day of a crisp December morning.

But the clouds rolled in bringing its cloak of cover that will retain the heat of the Puget Sound and push the temperatures back into the forties. And rain too. But I am indifferent to the rain. It's either rain and warm or sunny and cold, and increasingly I prefer the former.

This picture was taken last summer as the sunning was dipping low in the sky. Not much more to say, other than a friend dropped by to watch the new Johnny Depp movie with us. A good day, and a fun weekend lies ahead.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


A cold day by Bellingham standards, and I look forward to the clouds and forty degree weather returning. The cloud cover acts as sort of a blanket to keep the heat trapped, so you take the good with the bad: Clouds and drizzle mean a more temperate climate. But since I am always cold in the winter here (in my woefully underinsulated 1928 coal miner's home), so I accept this discomfort and seek out warmer places like coffee shops or my less drafty office or bedroom. Tonight was my weekly work at the food bank, which is always a welcomed festive time.

But with the temperature in the twenties for much of the day, the chickens seemed to fare well. For them, it's another day and they seemed to not be bothered by this chilly weather at all.

But lethargy sets in at this time of year, and I think the warm bed beckons at 9:30pm. I look forward to the returning rain - hopefully this weekend.

The picture above was taken from Mt. Constitution on Orcas Island the summer before last.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Today was cold by West Coast standards. But when it's cold in Washington, it's usually clear also. So I was glad to point my little pick-up north on I-5, drink lots of coffee, and return to Bellingham. But the vista of the surrounding mountains were amazing and I was able to see Mount Adams, Mount Hood, Mount Saint Helens, Mount Ranier, Mount Glacier and Mount Olympus in all their grandeur on my drive home.

The drive up the highway took me through all sorts of interesting and bland interstate towns in Western Washington, behind kind enough to name the land after the Indians from whom we stole it: Seattle, Snohomish, Tacoma, ...

I'm glad to be home in chilly Bellingham. And this cold spell should snap and moist temperature climates returning soon.

I also saw the huge caravan of police vehices stretching the entire secondary road from Puyallup all the way to its terminus at the Tacoma Dome. The memorial service was a moving site to experience for the four befallen officers, even though Mount Ranier to the east and its beauty distracted me. An interestng day and glad to be back sitting in a coffee house on Railroad Avenue.

Monday, December 7, 2009


So I haven't been to a trade show for quite some time, and this week I am exhibiting with my company on Jantzen Beach. Funny thing is, all these trade shows have the same feel, even though the content is entirely different. But attending this show is good exposure, and excepting my continued absence of any semblance of sound sleep that goes hand-in-hand with building a company, it's been enjoyable.

I wish I could say that I enjoy Portland, but I really miss Bellingham very shortly after I leave there. Yeah Portland is nice and hip and has a great vibe to it, but it's not unlike the many cities that I've visited all over the US. The part we went out in (the NE quarter) on Saturday reminded me of Ohio City in Cleveland, although my Portlander colleagues seem to receive that comment disdainfully. Clean, friendly, mountains and trees - a typical PNW city.

Maybe I need time to warm up to it, similar to the time it took me to appreciate (albeit, not entirely...yet) Seattle. Right now though, it's a place I get to leave in exactly twenty-four hours to return to Bellingham. And there's nothing wrong with that.

Cold, cold, cold today. Temp in the twenties.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


Last night I was only going to stay out until midnight. First dinner at Jalapenos, then to a gallery for the art walk. Then home for a night which easily could have been getting tio bed around ten. But that was the time I was to meet friends out a the Wild Buffalo, although I only was going to stay out until midnight. Well until midnight came around, then it turned into hearing a fabulous band - Five Alarm Funk - play into the wee hours of the morning. A night where town was full of people and the (cold) weather didn't seem to keep many at home.

This morning I need to shove off to Portland for a trade show on Monday and Tuesday, although I could easily spend it here n Bellingham doing stuff around the house and relaxing. But once I'm on the road, I am sure it will be enjoyable driving the 250 miles to Oregon on I-5.

I've made many cross country trips and other long journeys by car in my day, but after not owning a car for a few years, I find driving to have lost its luster. And besides, crowded highways full of angry people in rush to get nowhere as fast as possible is not very enticing. But traveling the grey ribbon of open road is, and I haven't been south of Tacoma in almost a year.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Well I won't show any pictures, but I've resorted to the springy-type mouse traps that cause a pretty effective means of ending its cohabitation of my home. And it makes me sad that these gentle, docile creatures can be a nuisance. But death don't have no mercy.

It's funny how humans beings are the only species that has a notion and attempted postponement of death (for the most part). Death is usually painful, and any organism avoids pain. But the concept of death and dying is beyond their psychological grasp, the fear the drives the species to avoid conflict is thus self preserving.

At any rate, it is silly that I instill human qualities and levels of intelligence upon these modest mice. We love them as pets, we hate them as vermin, and they are no longer welcome in my home. And all they wanted was to share a warm place inside. Life is fragile, and I am glad that I'm much closer to the top oof the food change as opposed to my little fallen nemeses (five so far, I believe). And I swear I tried the route of the humane trap, but it proved futile.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I can follow who searches this web log using certain words and phrases. Over the last two days, all the searches bringing people to this site were for seeking information on gangs. For a brief while, my career included working as a senior marketing executive (ie, moonlighting as a convenience store clerk in Happy Valley) and an older woman used to come in and tell me how "the gangs" moved into her neighborhood nearby, when all I really got from her story was a few black people moved in from LA and frequently used foul language and played really loud music.

I am sure that gangs exist, although I am out and about all the time in town (including the last few days walking Magilla) and I've never felt threatened anything like I'd experienced in numerous situations back east.

But enough of that.

This morning on my bike at 8:30 riding down my street - the deep blue sky and sun and dry air from the north felt just like a Lake Tahoe day. The only difference being that in Lake Tahoe it's that way pretty much every day of the winter - unless, of course, a front blows through and dumps three inches an hour for two days straight on the Sierra Nevadas - but with the altitude and arid air holding a much, much deeper blue.

And tonight a beautiful full moon (as I write this at 12:20am it is 100% full) and a ride into town to drop off the movie turned into a ride up Holly to Broadway and I really didn't want to come in (akin to the days of yore when a fresh snow had fallen and it was a school night but the sledding was so good and you prayed that you wouldn't have school anyway in the morning) but things needed to be done (like writing aimlessly here) and now it's time to sleep.

I regularly get eight-plus hours of sleep per night these days (except for yesterday), and it's nice to never really be tired. I think it's been quite some time since I yawned, but I really don't think that I'm too cognizant of my yawning tendencies anyway.


When one starts their own business - unless supported by generational wealth or others with deep pockets - you invariably hear about the sleepless nights. Last night was one such night. Well not entirely true: I recall losing touch with the conscious world around 3:15am and waking up at 7:50am.

Business matters are usually the last thing on my mind when I finally find sleep; these thoughts quickly return to my mind's forefront when I awaken in the morning. And the stress I experience fortunately cycles through and I think I've become hardened with the onslaught of the waves of challenges with which I am faced.

"Breakers crash on the beach
I count them like lambs in my sleep
They come at me steady
They know I'm not ready
They pound on my mattress door
Have they got a big one in store."
- Neil Young

But fortunately I have rekindled my old friendship with William Faulkner. And his writing sweeps me away to a long forgotten place and time in Jefferson, Mississippi. Oddly enough, I cannot read his complex writing style unless I am relaxed and unencumbered by the externalities and complexities of life. I sought his writing as a refuge in life's maelstrom as I enter middle age and a new entrepreneurial pursuit. I need to withdraw from life, and reading of a bygone era in simpler times in Yoknapatawpha County. Am I relaxed and unencumbered? Or losing my mind? Either way, it's fun.

And writing here on this web log helps too. As does a 1973 Denver Coliseum show.

It's gonna be alright.