Sunday, February 28, 2010

Weekend

Sometimes I just get too busy to write. I love down time to do nothing but watch the sun set, and I am lucky to have days of leisure - at least one day a week of down time. Unfortunately, these days of doing nothing are usually filled with all sorts of activities. Yesterday was one such day:

A morning of volunteering the services of my little truck to carry compost, then wood, all leading up to successful garden beds that were created for a local non-profit youth group, and potentially food for production and sale to local restaurants. It's amazing the wonderful people that I meet in this town, and days like Saturday reinforce that.

People tell me how wonderful it is that I do all the volunteer work that I do, and although I smile and say thank you, it's really a self-serving agenda that I have: I enjoy volunteering tremendously and meet some incredible people.

I have no pictures from yesterday, so instead I will show you the ten most dangerous intersections from The Herald. Fortunately, my driving continues to be minimal, especially in these areas. Although I can tell you a story about driving last night in my friend's borrowed shiny Mustang Saleen that sounds powerful and throaty, and had to be going well in excess of the posted speed limit on the Birch Bay-Lynden Road. But that's for another time.

Any more, eight knots is fast for me.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Weeks

Here's a dramatic sunrise over the Chuckanuts taken in Happy Valley. I dodn't take it, my housemate did. It's outside the store where I used to moonlight. It was a fun job, but like many things, it got old. At least biking the five or six miles each way a few times a week was pretty invigorating.

But anymore I am juggling many balls and spend much of my day glued to my two ccomputers, multi-taking to the point of madness, talking on the phone while pouring myself three or four cups of coffee, and finally prying myself away long enough to sometimes shower and run to errands. Why do I do this to myself?

But last night was one such reason. There is a group of entrepreneurs that meets every month to discuss their traivails and successes. I really don't quite understand specifically what an entrepreur is. Some people view it as someoneone that hits is big and makes beaucoup bucks. But that's not me, I would define one more as someone chronically broke with an ongoing stress headache that still manages to have low blood pressure and wonders why a (sometimes self-induced) tumultuous and chaotic life is the norm. I guess it's how I get my kicks.

And some day I'll tell you about my recent interest in learning the Korean language.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sitting

Tonight I did something I haven't done for a long time, and that was to go to the Vipassana meditation at the Red Cedar Dharma Hall. I saw a friend on the street last week that prompted me to go, which I did, and soon remembered how refreshing and rejuvinating it was to medidate for forty-five minutes. What was more surprising was how I thirsted for this quiet time and had a good sitting.

Most times, my mind wanders hither and thither especially at these times lacking any sensory externalities and in time of quiet trying to sweep it of all cogent thought. I hope to go back next week, if not sooner. I once told a friend that I didn't have time to edidate, and she replied "exactly."

Afterwards, I should have turned towards home, but instead my bike pointed towards Fairhaven, where I took a five mile side trip in the wonderful drizzle that returned to Bellingham. It's still too early to be all sunny and cheery. I need another month or two to chill before I shift into Summer Mode.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Chief

The Whatcom Chief docks at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal in Fairhaven on a test run Tuesday. The test made sure the ferry could successfully dock if negotiations fail with the Lummi Nation and the county to renew a lease at Gooseberry Point.–MARK MALIJAN|THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

Another beautiful day - both today and yesterday - although I spent it catching up on work-related things. Fortunately, I was able to spend time outside at the park reading a business plan and finishing it up last night. And today is off to a job interview. Although I've lived the free-wheeling life of a consultant for many years, it has worn me down. A regular job with a normal schedule and benefits can be quite palatable right now. Especially in an industry in which I have knowledge and experience.

So I am sitting here typing on this wondrous day in my suit and tie getting ready to walk over to the interview. The fact that I would be working four blocks from my house is a dream commute, by any standard.

Oh, and you will need to see some old pictures from the Bellingham Herald, as the batteries were found to be dead in my old HP camera Saturday when I carried it with me and had that perfect sunset shot lined up.

Today after my intereview I will bike down to the park to hopefully get some nice pictures, as the rain and clouds return tomorrow.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Theater

"Chaque joueur doit accepter les cartes que la vie lui distritribue. Mais une fois qu'il les a en main, lui seul peut d├ęcider comment jouer ses cartes pour gagner la partie." - Voltaire

Tonight is one of those nights where I am so glad that I live in Bellingham. Five minutes from my house (by bike) took me to the Rotunda Room at the Whatcom Museum, where I was able to see a wonderful play called the Misanthrope, by Moliere. The theatre company is comprised of some acquaintences of mine, and I was thoroughly impressed by the calibre of their perfromance; quality acting in an intimate theatre has a wonderful effect on my psyche.

And a few times a year I meet a woman of dazzling beauty in Bellingham who takes my breath away. Tonight was one such night. I wonder if I will see her again?

But earlier...I would like to say that I helped someone move today, but as happenstance would have it, they had just finished up when I arrived. I wasn't necessarily late, per se, they just got an early start. But it's always nice to have a good friend move back into town.especially when you don't need to move them.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Sun!

When I was much younger, I often times dreamed about moving to the West Coast and listening to Jackson Browne albums. Now I am living that life of buying an old turntable for my Techniques analogue receiver and the life seems to be pretty much what I expected. In the dreams, I ended up in sunny Southern California, although in actuality it turned out to be the rainy northwest corner versus the sunny southwest. But that's even better, since sometimes if life I don't know where I'm supposed to be until you end up there, and then it feels like I should've been there all along. And once there, it strikes you how life just seems to work in interesting ways and there's some grand scheme that is well beyond my comprehension or control.

But here I am in Bellingham, Washington, managing to pay the mortgage and enjoy the small things in life.

And oddly enough, I was in the garage a few weeks ago looking at my VW Weekender in need of some TLC. I came to the realization that this was the last thing I really wanted in life. My material wants in life had been satiated with this hundred dollar purchase (and what a steal for a hundred bucks). With a thousand bucks in work (carbs and reupholstery) it should be ready for a trip down the coast.

Here a picture taken a few minutes ago from the mother ship. In the distance is Mt Baker in its splendid glory. Can't wait to get out on my bike to run errands. Everyone is quite cheery these days when the sun appears.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cascades


Some days, traveling to the Seattle Metro area can be a real drag. Today the weather was wonderful and Glacier Peak and Mt. Baker all the Cascades were strikingly resplendent. And so were the Olympic Mountains across the Sound. And my travels of calling on businesses took me into Redmond to see Microsoft's campus. I wonder if the company, likes its shoddy operating system, just shuts down for no apparent reason. And I wonder if the employees just never seem to work quite right after the first week.

But as always, it's nice to return to Bellingham and make it to the food bank to see the friends that I've made there over the past years. IT is also one of the two remaining things of regularity in my life: volunteering at the food bank on Wednesdays and putting the recycling oout on Tuesday mornings. But it's a life that I would not trade for anything esle.

And business just might be picking up. Pretty good considering the prolong lack of economic vigor that persists. And all indicators suggest that it will be until 2015 until we see any serious improvement. Others say that we will never see a return to the boom years and bubbles of your. Out financial markets are in shambles, and America is broke on all levels. I wonder when the media will assume its responsible role in society by addressing the true woes of the economy versus the broad indexes being driven by the hedge funds and institions versus the market fundamentals. Also, here is an interesting link showing the trillion dollars of garbage that the fed added to its coffers over the past few years. This is merely a slight example of the crummy debt out there. And than there's private equity debt (a trillion dollars), commercial real estate (another trillion), and the Option-ARMs recasting and Alt-A's resetting (another trillion). But at least the Dow Thiry was up .4% today, so things must be okay.

Uh-oh, something got me started...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Lundi Gras

Another culminating Carnival season in New Orleans. I cannot believe how time slips away. It was the mid-nineties when we would make our annual pilgrimage to the Crescent City and stay in Room 3216 (actually a courtyard suite) of the Royal Sonesta on the 300 block of Bourbon Street. Those were the days of craziness and fun times and great memories.

Although my satin Mardi Gras gown fades in the closet and the beads tarnish, the memories are still quite vivid. And listening to WWOZ helps too. The picture above is from a float in the Krewe d'Etat this year. But it is quite cold today in New Orleans, and we've had our share of chilly weather, warm weather, rainy weather,... we saw it all.

I've since been to this fair, befallen city, and someday hope to spend a year of my life living there. I've never been to a place so deep in culture and history, not to mention the best food in the country. Dreaming is good, and I frequently dream of New Orleans. Sure, it is corrupt, dirty and depressed, but this adds to its vivacity. I wonder what it it like to live in the Faubourg Marigny?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Pickford

So there's something I've wanted to do for a while and just got around to it. And that's to help out over at the Pickford Theater down the street from my house. It's an hour or two out of the week and I sort of offered to do it on a whim, so I am sure you'll hear about how it works out. I need to commit myself to doing volunteer activities. Otherwise, I would probably never get pulled away from this damned computer.

But the sun just peaked through, which is very welcomed. Yesterday was seriously the worst day that I experienced all winter, and I do not know why. The dreary clouds pressed heavily upon me like those lead-lined blankets that the x-ray technican puts on you, even though it was quite warm.

Fortunately, the escape to Uisce Pub last night lifted this oppressiveness and the evening turned out quite enjoyable, including a nice late night stroll through the crowded downtown in the light rain. A fine ending to a crummy day.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Clouds

Another day of warming weather here in Bellingham. I thought yesterday was 'shorts' weather until I rode over to the L&I office, and realized that it had either gotten suddenly colder with a weather system passing through with the wind and spitting rain (which came later). I think it's just a bit early to be wearing shorts.

But the buds are bursting forth, and the bulds are sprouting. People always talk about the snow flurries in March that Bellingham notoriously gets. I wonder if that is still in the forecast? And other mention how a mild Spring and Winter often leads to a crummy summer. We shall see.

But pictures of driving down Highway One in the Florida Keys are always a refreshing thought. Prolonged sun will be here soon. In four months. Time to get motivated and push through another weekend of finishing up some projects. Maybe watch the Olympics somewhere, although life in Bellingham appears to be same as it ever was. Even though this is the last city before the border, it seems not too many people dropped by to spend their tourist dollars.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Crime

There is a rampant crime spree in Bellingham. This surly gangsta (pictured below) robbed two Starvin' Sams. Oddly enough, he didn't demand money, just Hostess products.

Regardless, my fine Bellingham citizens, I beg of you to lock your doors, keep your children inside, take up arms, and for the love of god, lock up the Twinkies and Ho Ho's. We are experiencing the breakdown of our society before our very eyes. The end is nigh.
THE BELLINGHAM HERALD Bellingham police believe this man stole cash from a Starvin Sam's mini-mart on 32nd Street on Monday, Feb. 8, 2010 and from another on Meridian Street on Thursday, Feb. 4. Anyone with information about these crime should call Detective Donna Miller at (360) 778-8817.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Olympics

Many, many people will allegedly be passing through Bellingham on their way to Vancouver, as all eyes look towards this wonderful city for the 2010 games. Typical Bellingham weather is forecast, so the world will be greeted with seasonal temps in the low forties with abounding cloud cover and drizzle. And that's just as well. Many times people visit in the summer from much sunnier climes, and say "gee, how bad can seven months of clouds and rain really be?" And many end up finding it intolerable and leaving a few winters later - sometimes, I've read, hiring the same mover to take them back south.

I once asked a life-time resident of Bellingham if the winters are more tolerable after you've lived here through tree or four of them. He somberly shook his head and said "they never get any easier." But this is my fourth, and fortunately it wasn't too, too bad. One cold snap, not much snow. And that's alright by me. And it's actually staying light out until five o'clock.

Sorry I have not much more to say about the Olympics here. I really don't follow them, and from the utter lack of any discussion regarding the games, not too many others really seem to care. This really isn't a town of spectator sports fanatics. When the game's on, most people are out hiking, jogging, biking, snowshoeing...you get the idea. And an amazing number of my friends don't even have television, so if I wanted to watch the games, I couldn't. Oh well. A worse fate could certainly have befallen me.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Gangs

Oddly enough, people still search a lot for Bellingham Gangs and arrive at this site. Actually, they're the most commonly searched words that bring people to this site. Bellingham doesn't even deny that it has gangs. Usually when a city is denying it has gangs, that usually means that it does have them. Or other bad things, like pestilence. But I guess we all need to belong.

Not much more to say. Ice cream beckons. Off to Everett tomorrow morning. I think my work load is lightening up. And I think Spring might be here. Joy.

And I wonder if Canadians are so mellow because they listen to CBC Radio 2? What great programming.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Tasty

I can't think of any better way to spend a dreary winter Sunday afternoon in Bellingham than in the Public Market working away listening to the tastiest of Grateful Dead concerts from March 23, 1974 at the Cow Palace:
~~~~~~~~~~~~
One U.S. Blues ; The Promised Land ; Brown Eyed Women ; Mexicali Blues ; Tennessee Jed ; Black Throated Wind ; Scarlet Begonias ; Beat It On Down The Line ; It Must Have Been The Roses ; El Paso ; Deal ; Cassidy ; China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider ; Weather Report Suite Prelude > Weather Report Suite Part 1 > Let It Grow

Two Playing In The Band ; Playing In The Band > Uncle John's Band > Morning Dew > Uncle John's Band > Playing In The Band ; Ship Of Fools ; Big River ; Ramble On Rose ; Me And My Uncle ; Bertha ; Around And Around ; Wharf Rat > Sugar Magnolia

Encore Casey Jones ; One More Saturday Night
~~~~~~~~~~~~

Yummy. Go Saints. I think they are playing today.

Sunday

Another Sunday. Nothing much to write. An afternoon at the library and then to a party yesterday was followed by a night of anticipating going out to see a band, but it was just as nice to be in bed by eleven. A life-long resident (and ver active permaculturalist) is moving down to California. It's one of those people that is always out and about the community, and feel sad that you realize he won't be a Bellingham fixture anymore.

I used to see hom biking around, or sometimes he'd stop by the house. But time marches on.

I wish him Gosdspeed in his life's journey.

Back to the computer for a few hours of hopefule productivity. Two or three more busy week, and then to take a breather.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Anker Cafe

Even though I could be at any coffee shop right now anywhere in the world, I think the Anker Cafe is by far the coolest.

I stumbled upon the Art Walk tonight in town, and went to a few galleries. But another business plan needs to be produced requiring more effort that I must muster up. Although I was a bit apprehensive about getting through it over the course of two days, it seems to be coming together quite nicely. Although the financial statements are generated from a template, it still takes hours and hours to tailor it to a specfic business and get everything just right. I am sure there is an easier way to do it, but I always seem to improve it a bit with every iteration. And I've been told by many investment bankers and such that I write a kick-as business plan.

But enough of that.

A day where, although very busy, where I was able to breath a brief sigh of relief. And the most vulgar noise that one can ever hear on your bike is the sound of the horn of an impatient driver as hapened moments ago. Since people rarely use their horns in this town (and consequently it's always incredibly quiet and peaceful), when you do hear that abrasive noise, it's a sure bet that the car's license plate holder will say something like Seattle, Bellevue, Lynnwood,...you get the picture.

Tonight's was from Seattle. I thank a god that I do not live that life anymore. What is the true price we pay for a shiny vehicle?

But to end on a more positive note. I was talking to the owner(?) (or someone that looked important and sounded like he knew what he was talking about) at Kulshans last week (buying eight more thirty-five cent patches to repair my polka-dotted inner tubes that seem to take a beating around this time of year) and he told me that three years ago they'd never expect to carry the number of fenders, bags and racks that they carry now.

The ability to bike in Bellingham and be amongst the fair people of this fine town is second to none.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Ferry

Having been married and divorced I frequently come across bittersweet memories from my past. One such time is right now where I am sitting on the Mukilteo Ferry going over to Whidbey Island. This was the first time that my wife and I (and her cousin and the dog) made it to the Seattle area back in 2004. We passed through Seattle, on to Rt 525 onto Whidbey Island and then drove up to Anacortes to stay for the noight.

We never quite made it Bellingham, but decided to move there anyway after hearing wonderful things about it in our journeys about. Odd feelings of those distant days. How things have changed in my life.

But the trip over on the ferry (standing on the aft deck feeling the soothing breeze and vibes of the Puget Sound) and Whidbey Island to visit a friend I'd known snce I moved up here. We've worked together on start-ups, and I am glad that one from a few years back is still alive and kicking out in Spokane. Now to try to raise capital for it in these dismal times...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Act

Tonight was another first for me sailing uncharted waters: I took an acting class at the suggestion of a friend downtown at a neat old studio on Cornwall (close to where this picture was taken last week). It was exhilarating and I am so lucky to know people in this town that turn me on to these types of activities. But come to think of it, it wasn't really entirely an acting class; it was more of an awareness class that really allowed me to learn more about myself. And paradoxically this was a great way to get outside of myself after a trying day.

But it's after eleven and I am holding true to a sleep cycle that involves getting up quite early, even though I frequently lay in bed for an hour or so listening to the CBC. Compared to the US news, it is always varied and entertaining, and could easily enmesh one in its high caliber of programming and news (versus the repetitive garbage heard on the local stations) and make it difficult to get out of bed - especially when there is a warm dog at your side.

And the 2010 Olympics are closing in - less than two weeks away. And no one even really seems to care down here, or even mention it. But I must add that I am a fan of Mukmuk, the marmot mascot. Marmots are pretty cool, having experienced their playfulness this summer up in the North Cascades.