Sunday, January 31, 2010


I don't recall it being so dark out at 7am on Sunday morning, as it is today. Time takes on such a obscure meaning with its passage. I've found that I increasingly need less and less sleep. Maybe it is stress induced; maybe it's age. At any rate, I love to see Bellingham wake up and the cloak of darkness lift from this sleepy little seaside town. Although I can see the blinking red beacon atop the arboretum as I type from my easy chair, the rest of this hill is enshrouded in fog.

Like the ugly dog that shared my bed last night, it looks like Bellingham is going to stir, stretch, and sleep for a bit longer this morning.

Today for me, it is a day of work, a seed swap this afternoon, and possibly driving out to meet a friend in Birch Bay. I should probably use this vehicle that's been sitting in front of my house. Right now, it's costing me about $75/hr to drive it. I wonder if I really ever needed it?

The picture is a few blocks from my house overlooking Bellingham Bay and Lummi Island taken last week.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


I guess this is a busy season for people like me. Although I do not do taxes, per se, many business associations ask or require me (being the person with decades of accounting and finance experience) to be the tax person. So over the years I've become quite knowledgeable in filing corporate and partnership returns. So a few more weeks of being busy.

But the 2010 Olympics are thirteen days away, and I hope that people pass by Bellingham in their rush to get to Vancouver. Not that I mind tourists, it's just that the winters are so chiill and mellow here, to have the harrying tourists everywhere is quite contrary to the calm mood of this city in its season of lethargy. There is a time and place for them, at it's from July Fourth through Labour Day.

Above is a picture of the ubiquitous VWs that seem to materialize everywhere like mushrooms after a srping rain. Having owned many VWs in my life, this is a good thing. One appeared in my garage one day - a 1972 bus that I have grown to love. And speaking of vans, my housemate tells me that someone is living in the Chevy van parked on the street outside the house. Another mobile homeless person, and there are many in Bellingham - some in RVs; others in cars. I see them everywhere while biking around town, and can only imagine the hardship experienced by the millions of people in these trying economic times. Unfortunately, I do not see much glimmer of hope on the horizon.

Oh well. Back to work.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


To the left is one of the funkiest places in Bellingham called The Temple Bar. Last night we were working, finishing up a business plan, and one coffee shop closed on us. So by chance we decided upon The Temple Bar and fortunately the chocolate truffle cake brought be some much needed bliss as the glow of my laptop cast an eerie glow upon this otherwise cozy corner of Bellingham.

Launching a business can suck. And it can also bring unequaled joy. But come to think of it, so can things like children (although I cannot say personally), sailing, powder days, relationships and life in general. Fortunaltely there is the support of a friendly town like Bellingham. Where a friendly smile fom a total stranger on the street or in the coffee shop can make all the difference.

I often recall that first business I helped launch in Pittsburgh in 1995 when I was in grad school. I remember asking the young owner of the bike and ski shop, "do you ever wake up at two in the morning, thinking 'oh shit, I forgot to do something.'"

He replied, "I wsh I could wake up. If only I could get to sleep."

But that's how business works. In a struggling economy, the challanges are even more daunting and sleepless nights are not uncommon. And for me, the buisness is the last thought at night, and the first thought in the morning. Twelve hours days of work are not abnormal, and the days blend together.

I took a bunch of pictures yesterday on a warm, sunny day, like the one above looking east. I am sure you'll see more.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Chickens and a Dog

For lack of anything more exciting in my day, the animals in my world seem to always be carefree and full of zeal. I would hope that I could learn from their simple ways, but always seem to get caught up in my hectic little world.

To think of all the pain and suffering that is going on in this world and here I am nestled in my little corner of the country protected from the ugliness of the world beyond. And the warmth and friendliness of the people in this town in unlike anything I 've ever seen. Acknowledging you with a nod of their head and a smile can make all the difference in the world when may day is otherwise stuck in front of a computer.

And yet Magilla (the dog) sleeps all day and the chickens peck and scratch out in the yard - probably not having a stress heasdache like I did for much of the day. And yet I work away to provide for them. I wonder who is really smarter? The picture above is from their hen house in the back yard. What beautiful birds. And snoring Maggie lying next to me twitching her leg in her dream state isn't so bad either.

For being a person of minimal needs, I have everything. And I can learn a lot from these anima;s that we label a simple and less intelligent. Who's really the smarter?

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Not much to say today. I've been working on a business plan for the past day or so, re-working a web site, compiling proforma financial statements - all the exciting things that one needs to do in the course of an emerging company. A good chunk of yesterday was spent at the library, and a good chunk of the evening was spent at the coffee shop working away.

And while I sit at home, I have Eraserhead playing as background noise, a movie that I find increasingly disturbing, yet I keep getting drawn to certain details and nuances of it, some of which may really mean nothing. I think we sometimes read into implied meanings and symbolisms that we find in movies and songs that the writer may never had intended. But at any rate, it will someday get added to my DVD library.

Although the morning looked promising, the cloud cover quickly encroached. The picture above (taken a few minutes ago) is where I sit writing away today. I am lucky to have a view of the arboretum, the San Juans and the WWU campus off in the distance. It's 10:20am and time to get back to work. Probably will be a late night tonight, but that's alright. I figure eight more hours total, but I sometimes get hungry or otherwise distracted.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Nothing like a good David Lynch film to begin the weekend. I am still on East Coast time, so I have been getting up at seven a.m. or earlier. But this weekend little will be done except writing a business plan for my company. I have been told by many that I am quite good at writing them, although they have a tendency to be dry and regimented, unlike my ability to write here free and unfettered.

And last night was a fun time seeing a movie at the Pickford, even though the movie itself - Collapse - was less than uplifting. Unfortunately, I feel this increased ennui towards things like environmental degradation, peak oil, climate change, economic/financial collapse,... as it's all old news to me and unfortunately coming to a head as had been projected by much of the experts for decades.

I wish I was more prone to get my news from the mainstream media, where these problems seem to not exist, or be worthy of serious discussion. Maybe I need t watch television and become dumbed down.

Oh well, back to work on a partly cloudy Saturday morning.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Jennifer Lynch gets into her kayak and launches herself off at Marine Park in Fairhaven on Jan. 20, 2010. "Where else can you ski one day and go kayaking the next? There is a banquet of things to do here," Lynch said. If current weather patterns hold, experts say, parts of the Northwest could have their warmest January on record.–MARK MALIJAN|THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

I was hoping to return to the Pacific Northwest with the standard drizzle. Instead it was almost as warm as the Florida weather that I'd left behind. Happy to be home, but a world of work ahead of me, although I have the joy of an ugly dog lying next to me.

So this morning I woke up at 4:46am and managed to bike to my Thursday morning business meeting. Remarkably, I saw more people on bikes commuting to ework at 6:45am than I saw the entire time I was in Florida (not counting The Keys, of course), and that's not an exaggeration. And riding the shuttle back to Bellingham last night, at least three unrelated people got on board and commented on how glad they were to get back to Bellingham. I was the fourth.

It's so good to be home.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


"I can't get the sand out of my shoes
Being in Florida has done a number on my blues
Just the way the women walk 'round here
Well it's plain to see the way the sand and sea
Have done a number on me"
- Will Oldham

This morning I leave Florida after a memorable journey of little rest. Although this life is entirely foreign to me anymore, I will leave here with many fond memories. The other night we went to The Breakers, a very posh resort where the Clintons were supposedly staying while we were having drinks in the one ritzy bar overlooking the ocean.

Unfortunately, once we were back on the mainland, the work load was more of a burden that we'd both anticipated (we both can work remotely running businesses) and we never made it to places like the beach or pool.

But it was still a nice change to work in a cool breeze from my friend's place (see picture) - a little oasis in this overbuilt area with an overabundance of For Sale and For Lease signs. Time to leave for the airport. I cannot convey how glad I am to be returning to the warmth and comfort of the people of the wet, cloudy Pacific Northwest and six more months of the temperate Bellingham winter.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Here's a picture from the wonderful little piece of nirvana nestled in Key Largo called Popp's, one of the oldest family owned motels in The Keys. Lying on a hammock for hours on end with the phone turned off, and talk of silly existential platitudes of two people that have been friends for twenty-seven years are entering middle age.

I asked the old hippie woman cleaning our room if I could put the wonderful sensation experienced at this well kept little nine-unit inn into a little bottle to unleash during the moments in my life when the walls are closing in, but she wasn't aware of anything. She gave me a big hug instead, and that worked. She told me "you have the memories in your heart, and that will last even longer."

We left the Conch Republic in good spirits to return to the mainland. It was sad, and my time in Florida is winding down.

We did make it to Key West for an evening, and like most things in life, it has changed. The grungy element that has gradually been cleansed - the element that had given it its character - and is not the Key West I remember. The hippies, gays, artists, are all replaced with retired fat men in Tommy Bahama shirts with their pencil-thin wives. Oh well, time marches on. I don't have much desire to return the Key West ever again, but I do look forward to returning to Popp's.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Key Largo

We made it as far as Key Largo and I fortunately things changed for the much better, leaving my unpleasant attitude and disposition back on the mainland of tacky, generic, overbuilt Florida. As usual, a million things to say, but I always forget them when I start typing here.

But I really need to get down to the beach, which is a few feet away in this vintage set of cabins we are staying in right off Highway 1. The whoosh of traffic can be heard to the south from the nearby highway, while the rustle of palm trees can be heard above and the cry of some (large sounding tropical) birds can be heard right behind the little bungalow in which we're staying. I am so lucky that we found a clean little mom and pop like this versus the antiseptic Marriott down the road (replete with its themed Tiki Bar, designed, I'm sure, by someone that spent little time in Key Largo).

Unlike the hustle and bustle of angst filled Florida, the Conch Republic reminds me a lot of Bellingham with the laid back attitude and friendliness of people, and the fact that living here is the coolest place in the world. Unless of course you factor in the excessive drinking. But my views are a little skewed, as we found a series of bars that we went to last night - the last where the movie Key Largo was filmed and it didn't seem to acknowledge a closing time or last call, at least until we left around three as the band kept playing on.

I am glad that I am still in love with this place.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


So Florida is the same as I remember it: Flat, six lanes of endless homogeneous beige strip malls and gated communities. I hope we leave for The Keys sooner versus later, as I find Florida - any point north of Miami - to be bland and boring, a big suburb of endless sprawl with palm trees. I guess the area where we are staying is called Jupiter, although it looks excatly like any of the other hundred towns I've passed through on the Florida mainland.

But it's good to visit an old friend and I hope my mood changes to a more positive frame of mind. The sun was nice. And I did see three people that we less than sixty years old. Temperature in the sixties or seventies, sunny with a few clouds.

More later...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Today was quite a tempting day to climb into the torporous truck to run down to Fairhaven for some mid-morning meetings. There were a thousand reasons why I shouldn't bike, but fortunately I did. The most rewarding days of cycling are the ones I'm least tempted to pursue. Here is the bike path over Whatcom Creek going into town two blocks from my house.

A not so busy, but still stressful day. It's ten thirty here on the coast (or actually the bay - the coast is on the other side of the Olympic Peninsula) and I hope all my things are packed for my trip tomorrow. I get to spend tonight with Magilla, the ugly dog, and miss her and Bellingham already. I love leaving here because it's always so nice to return.

But the Florida Keys beckon, as does unabated sunshine for a few days (hopefully). Time to don my resort wear (khakis, blue blazer, button down, tassle loafers) for the ritzy places in West Palm (our first stop) and then shorts and t-shirts and sandals on a trip not unencumbered by work; but still there will be time for leisure. Pictures will hopefully follow.

Monday, January 11, 2010


On a clear day, I can see Mount Baker from my little capitalist atelier in the back room of my house. Not today though. Wind and 50mm of rain predicted for Vancouver, so I am sure we'll get pretty much the same. As I find the US news to be nauseating, the CBC is quite refreshing and much more comprehensive than even NPR. And it's entertaining too. I find myself listening to the radio many mornings in my procrastinating efforts to rise from slumber.

But now I need to suit up in my rain gear and brave the weather. Do the afternoon errands out about the town. At least it's quite warm here and will remain so for the next few days. Usually it's a joy to be out in this weather, even though it looks quite foreboding from the warmth and dryness of the inside.

But whenever I return home, I always am so thankful that I have a dry place to hang my hat. Being homeless in this town would suck. Back to work on a stormy Monday's noon.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


It is still amazing how this country crumbles due to its crippling debt load while no one questions our tremendous, wasteful military spending. Evidently, there are only approximately 100 al Qaeda remaining in Afghanistan. Yet we continue to spend hundreds of billions on a futile war there that will never be won. Here is an interesting article that addresses this country's protracted economic morass of this country at war serving few while bulk of the necessary services usually provided by government (eg, infrastructure, education, social services, small business support) is declining or virtually non-existent.

Oddly enough, Osama bin Laden (" a man that lives in a cave an rides a donkey," as my father once referred to him) may actually bring this once great country to its knees after all. But considering the CIA was complicit in creating and supporting these resistance fighters (or Osama it was in the eighties against the Soviet occupation), what was a huge blunder for this agency fortunately turned out to be a huge economic boon for the highly lucrative government-subsidized military machine in this country, dwarfing the paltry billions thown at the hugely profitable and influential banking industry (set this week for a record round of bonuses while Main Street continues to falter and wither).

This military waste and overstretch is a huge component leading to this county's demise on many levels, and until people seriously question our intent in parts of the world where we are really not needed or wanted, there is little hope of any type of economic resuscitation in the US.

I am glad that I do not support (nor ever have) this Bush-Obama administration. Meanwhile the two parties continue to name call while the US crumbles.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


From a cool web site I found listing all the web cams all over Western Washington.

For some reason today was remarkably clear (unlike this picture), even though the sky was partly cloudy. I had to drive down to Anacortes, which has becoming an increasingly pleasurable drive, and was able to virew the stark closeness of the Olympic Mountains as I headed west on Highway 20. To think that I used to have a daily commute of comparable time stuck in a city bus, or driving singly in an automobile amongst the thousands of other equally frustrated drivers amidst a sea of asphalt is entirely incomprenhensible to me at this point in my life. I drive one or two days a week, and fourtunately can bike around town to complete the rest of my errands.

And the ride home up I-5 was no less remarkable, woth the Cascades looming to the east and Canada's Pacific Coast Range to the north - both appearing vivid and seemingly within reach.

Speaking of Olympics, the 2010 Vancouver Olympics are practically at our doorstep. {Yawn}

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Traesti Gudmundson bags salmon fillets on the boat Desire, of Desire Fish Company, in Squalicum Harbor, on Sunday, Jan. 3, 2010. The locally owned family business is in its sixth year and sells salmon straight from their vessel. "At least for us, it seems that people are buying locally and realizing that money is spread through the community," Gudmundson said.–MARK MALIJAN|THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

Here is a picture taken from today's Herald. I often think about getting some locally caught salmon, but I have been lucky to get some from a friend once in a while this season. I think I had some King, but have not eaen enough of it yet to develop a discerning palate.

Not much more to say today. Although chilly, people seem to feel that the worst of winter is behind us. There are subtle hints of spring already, even though a cold spell is probably still on January's agenda where the temperature will dip into the teens. But for now it is sandal weather. Working at the food bank tonight. Early to sleep tonight - waking up at eight a.m. can sometimes be a drag.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


The chickens appear to be happy. But I really don't even know if chickens experience the feeling of happiness, per se. Maybe contentment, satisfaction, security, ... would be better words. I think I need to eat more eggs, as my consumption is lagging their production.

It is funny when I go outside and they run to me and pester me as I go to the garage. Maybe I don't feed them enough.

But I always thought that chickens were stupid birds with flat personalities. They are actually quite vibrant and full of zeal. And they put out some pretty mean eggs to. This variety is the Rhode Island Red, and is known for its egg laying and friendliness. A good choice, I guess, for a first time chicken farmer such as I.

And although the day wasn't perfect, the night ride down the boardwalk to Fairhaven in the warm darkness with the salt breeze blowing from the northeast (versus its predominant southwesterlies) was a nice change. Usually the north winds bring chill and clear skies, but fortunately tonight it predicted to be only the latter. Nights like tonight riding along the bay on my one-speed cruiser are magical. Magic helps.

Monday, January 4, 2010

VW Weekender

Although it was a weekend of doing little unrelated to leisure, Sunday finally some productivity, including finally getting the storm windows installed. And I missed one cold snap, hopefully there are only a few cold days ahead of us - I figure one more cold snap in the teens. Winter generally seems to lessen its grip around mid-February, so we are out of the proverbial woods in only a few weeks and then we will turn the corner to Spring.

And since the temperature was pushing fifty yesterday, I though it would also be a good opportunity to apply some rust inhibitor on the floor of my work in progress: A 1972 Volkswagen Weekender, which is basically a camper without the pop-top and a few other variations. (I am not even certain that it is a Westfalia.)

After spending the hundred dollars on this thirty-eight year old vehicle, I last week realized that I have acquired the last of my material wants in life. I really do not want or need anything more, so I can continue further pursuit of some other growth in life. My spiritual grounding can certainly use some work, but that will come with time. I know I need to continue my practice in meditation; maybe I will rejoin the Tuesday Vipassana sitting. I once told a friend that I didn't have time to meditate, and she replied "Exactly."

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Second Corner

Bellingham and the Pacific Northwest up here are frequently referred to as the Fourth Corner. I'd imagine that New England is the first (or would it be Florida, since that's where Columbus and Ponce deLeon first discovered{sic} America?) corner; Florida, the second corner; LA is the third; and consequently, Bellingham, the fourth.

In a week or so I will be heading to West Palm Beach and then down to The Keys for a few days. You can have the rest of Florida, but there will always be a soft spot in my heart for the Florida Keys (even though they too have been trashed over the past decades by overdevelopment). In the eighties, we spent time there camping, sleeping in the car, showering at the public beach with the rest of the car dwelling spring breakers ("So I see you're also staying in the Jetta Suite," I recall someone jokingly saying to us in Spring of 1988). I wonder if you can still sleep in your car on the beach down there? Once, sleeping by the airport with the sunroof open in the VW, a coconut fell through the roof and landed next to me. I incredulously asked my travel partner "Is it real?" I still have that coconut and am looking at it right now as I type.

I've since refined my standards a bit, and found a cheap but nice hotel right on Duval Street called the Southern Cross. They've since made upgrades and decorated the rooms to look and feel like any hotel you might stay in from Spokane to Atlanta, but the older rooms had the high ceilings and pine floors, with no clocks, radios, telephones or televisions. I woke one morning in this hotel back in 2000 not knowing what time it was and having no way to find out. I quickly showered and packed and left the hotel, as I needed to be in on a flight from FLL by 3pm. When I climbed in the rental car, the clock on the dash said 6:27am, so I had a leisurely drive up Highway 1 (or is it A1A?) with time to have breakfast at Mango Mikes somewhere before hitting the angry and flustered mainland.

Plenty of fun times and stories to tell in The Keys.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year

I started tyoing this morning around elven and this is what came out...

Oddly enough, while Washington and Copenhagen push towards more stringent environmental standards, Corporate America resists these pressures in order to continue controlling production costs and consequently improving returns on their foreign direct investment in places like China. So again, the corporatism of the industrialised nations is failing to serve their fundamental moral societal responsibilities at the expense of improving quartely earnings.

But the US will again be left in the dust while we allow the free markets (at least that what CNN and FOX call them) to dictate the continued demise of the wages and standards of living in this country, countries like China (albeit an oppressive communist regime that happens to also be at the top of our list of most favored nations) will pursue alternative energy with vigor and the United States continues to languish and our economy continues to produce less and less and serve more and more.

It looks like a strong alternative energy idustrial base will be passing this economy by. I recall being at a conference a few years ago in Bellevue and one of the venture capitalists stated that of the twenty top wind and solar companies in the world, only one is based in the United States; the reason she gave was the lack of consistent regulatory code to ensure stable governmental policies going forward - not necessarily tax credits and government funding, but the mere consistency of these policies and regulations applied in a predictable and cosistent way so companies could better forecast beyond a few years. One example is the biodiesel belenders credit. now I am not indicating that I am for or against this tax credit, but how in the world can anyone plan a business if our Congress cannot act upon something as significant as this that will lead to the success or demise of an antire industry? (All this while our hugely inefficient and increasingly privatised, although sickly profitable, military continues to receive huge taxpayer subsidies with virtually no accountability.) It is sad that we scrutinixe fundamental items necessary to grwoth of an entire economy, while we (even the deficit hawks) refuse to handle contrlling our crippling military budget expense.

Fortunately (As per the Department of Labor's site) we will see robust job growth in such highly lucrative jobs such as retail , food service and health care aides. It looks like the US will forego the benefits of green jobs.

Happy New Year.