Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Here's another picture taken a few days ago near my house on the way to the post office. It's where Whatcom Creek lets out into the bay.

A day of another new and interesting thinking I've always wanted to do, and that's visit an acupuncturist. It felt like a cross between a sauna and meditation. And things change in my world (like the roommate moving out - more another time), and for some odd reason I felt a sense of clarity and refreshment after I left there. Considering my disdain for western medicine, placing my faith in a centuries old practice made me feel mush better than placing my care in an over-educated drugs rep (which is what I view many doctors as in today's crippled healthcare system).

Something is afoot in this little seaside town and many different people have told me about the odd energy stirring here. I don't know why I said that, maybe I have nothing more to say...

Because something is happening here
But you don’t know what it is

Sunday, March 28, 2010


I woke this morning to the mouse trap having proven effective. The poor little harmless mouse that was merely seeking out some vittles during a late night romp, and his efforts proved deadly. I wonder at whet level we deem life precious. A friend and I had a discussion toady about the heinous way that humans feel compelled to treat other beings, especially when the profit motive comes to mind.

This discussion was the spawn of my journey down to Sedro Woolley today to pick up some pullets. I chose two young hens - a spunky California White and a Wyandotte that I will add to the flock. I was primarily looking for variety, yet compatibility. It's always nice to meet to wonderful people inhabiting the Skagit Valley, and to go for a little drive through the fog-enshrouded foothills of the grand Cascades down SR9.

Some days I need to get away, even if it's just for a drive down the back roads of Skagit County.

The picture above is from the Taylor Street Dock, were I spent the past few sunsets. Tonight was definitely a night to stay in the house though, as the wind and rain moved through and made it much more conducive to lying on the couch reading with a dog at my feet.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Urban Gardens

A few times a year, I get the word out to conduct a bike tour of the different yards around Bellingham that are being turned from grass (our nation's largest agricultural product) to food and other fun things. Today, we concentrated in the York Neighborhood. We always luck out on the weather, and the participants seem to increase every year.

Belingham's urban gardening scene seems to be taking a pretty strong foothold, and I am glad to play a tiny part in this. Fortunately this year I have found balance and am tending to my own yard's needs too. There may come a day when we need to rely upon our own knowledge to produce food. Or not. But real gardening is more fun than pretending on Farmville.

So an afternoon of yard work (and some progress)followed by an evening of watching to boats rock to and fro on the bay in Fairhaven with waves and a steady breeze out of the southeast. A good day.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


So yesterday was my birthday. Maybe it's a sign of being in the second half of my life, as I once viewed them with disdain; now I am grateful that I still have my health, home and coterie of acquaintances in my life that seem to mysteriously appear in my life just when I need them.

When you are in business for yourself, it is not uncommon to experience a meltdown when you feel the world is crashing in on you. One such incident occurred last week when I pulled myself away from the computer and work that never seems to be complete, and did some work in the yard.

An old business associate - one fraught with wisdom and experience - was biking by with his son and stopped by to chat. His visiting and having a cup of tea changed my world entirely for the better for the day and beyond.

When things like this happen in my life, I realize that I am the luckiest person alive.

The picture above is Whatcom Creek as it flows past the Post Office on Prospect Street where I bike to every day. The nice weather has left us, and the Spring rains have returned. And that's refreshing.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Although I have not followed much of the health care debacle, I’ve heard pundits and other people refer to Obama as a socialist. I wish I could understand their rationale. And why does the average, educated person still buy into the right-left paradigm? I see virtually no difference in these two parties anymore – the sole purpose is to feed big business. Am I getting too soft and liberal out here in moist Bellingham? With the country’s (and world’s?) wealth controlled by the smallest percentage in the history of the world, and we continue to be scared of the notion socialism and the misuse and bastardization of its meaning? Though the economic theories are many, the basic premise of socialism is the redistribution of wealth. Obama a socialist? Hardly.

Where President Bush failed in creating a significant step towards fascism. President Obama succeeded. By this, I mean that – well I’ve heard, at least – that forcing the public to buy into any private industry by definition is fascism. Or something like that. At any rate, Bush failed with social Security; Obama succeeded with health care. Here is an interesting link. I do not know how true this is, but the second statement does not surprise me:

“This bill is almost identical to the plan written by the AHIP, the insurance company trade association, in 2009.”

Obama took the most financial contribution ever from the financial sector, and I would not be too surprised if big pharma, health insurance, etc. are far behind.

Maybe crony-capitalist? Corporatist? Fascist? But not a socialist. Meanwhile our healthcare system is the laughing stock of the industrialized world. At least we rank with South Africa as the only industrialized nation not offering universal health care. The health of this country does not have a bright future - in many ways.

Monday, March 22, 2010


(Click to enlarge)

I wonder who is buying stocks and keeping the U.S. equity markets buoyed? I've read numerous articles stating how the sentiment of most investors is keeping them on the sidelines. But this graph tells a different story from an investment standpoint. It seems to indicate that most investors are quite bullish on the market (Wall Street), while Main Street seems to feel differently. More information is on the Pragmatic Capitalist article.

I've said it many times before, but the fact that credit is virtually nonexistent, the housing industry is in the shitter, and the unemployment stubbornly hangs around ten per cent (one can only imagine the, ahem, underemployed and those that have given up search for any meaningful employment), I don't see from where this sentiment originates. How can these companies be meeting or exceeding earnings expectations when consumers are overspent, increasingly underpaid, and living in houses that they cannot afford. And if 70%+ of our GDP is driven by consumer spending, this paints an even more baffling picture.

I've been told it's the hedgies, private equity funds and other non-individual investors, but then again, I buy into all sorts of conspiracy theories. But do you really feel that an 18% gain last year reflected the true market performance?

Friday, March 19, 2010


I wish I had something of substance to say today on this matutinal post. Heading down to Portland this afternoon to help a friend move a boat and acquire a futon in the process, so this morning has been busy and productive, and it's only 8:42. It looks like we won't need to lift the I-5 drawbridge after all, as the height of the bridge is seventy-one feet, and the mast is only sixty-five.

If I am lucky, I will leave my computer behind. But hopefully I can put some pictures up of us plying the Columbia River. We sat around last night telling sailing yarns, and the excitement is building for the offshore passage northward in May to Orcas Island.

But it is back to work on a beautiful spring morning with Mount Baker out my back window (well the top of it, at least - can't see the rest, as the ridge out around Deming hides a good chunk of it), and and an anticipated departure by 4pm.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


There are not many jobs in Bellingham. The main industries are housing and retirees. And those are hardly (on the whole) high tech or lucrative industries. The mean wage, I've read, is $18 an hour. So why is everyone so pleasant here in the City of Subdues Excitement?

One reason may be that we have few corporate environments like the picture above. (This is some cubicle farm that I took from this link. I cringed when I saw this the setting in this picture, as I am a recovering corporate drone myself.)

Bland neutral colors, probably set in some suburban office park where key cards are required for entry, and dining in the company cafeteria is de rigeur. (Toe the line, junior, and you may succeed.) I hope those days will be behind me forever. Is your soul worth a shiny new car every few years? At least my salary allows me to dine at the swank Horeshoe Cafe on occassion (like last night), where life and the vittles are fine, albeit the patrons a bit eccentric. But that can be said about Bellingham in general.

A dreary day here - first sun, then clouds, then wind, now drizzle. I should go out and probably will later to a meditation sitting. I could use it.

Monday, March 15, 2010


I went to the visit a friend at the hospital today. Fortunately, she was doing quite well. St. Josephs Hospital is not a very bike friendly campus; it definitely favors tha automobile versus walking or biking. Saldly, there was a tiny bike rack in front, and I knew the two other owers of the bikes locked to this anemic rack. Thousands of patients and employees of the hospital, and only three bikes out front.

Yes, maybe there is another bike rack in the back that is loaded with cycles, but from the looks of the hefty inhabitants of the buildings, it seemed unlikely that cycing was encouraged at this facility. And from a business model stanpoint, I guess the margins on sickness far exceed those of wellness.

I think this epitomises the entire health-care crisis in this country and western medicine in general: Focus on curing sickiness versus promoting health and wellness. And fortunately our bastardized capitalist economy benefits handsomely from such healthy things as obesity and sickness.

Friday, March 12, 2010


"It was just after dark when the truck started down
the hill that leads into Scranton Pennsylvania.
Carrying thirty thousand pounds of bananas. "
- H. Chapin

Much more than that, 100,000 pounds of abandoned fishing gear was retrieved from the waters around Bellingham. I think by any measurement this is a good thing.

As I type this I think, geeze, I could reuse this netting to cover the ~20'x20' chicken coop in the back yard and add some funky birds . Or at least prevent the hawks from endangering the little feathery ladies out back that offer me their finest eggs.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


A friend sent me an e-mail recently which seems to be applicable to Bellinghamsters, considering that we live in an earthquake prone area. I've experienced two in my life - one small one in Fairhaven (felt like a big truck driving by shaking the building), and another living in Lake Tahoe when the house (precariously placed on a steep hillside accessible by a hundred steps; that would have been fun had the big one hit) shook and my neighbor ran down from upstairs and told me what had just happened.

But instead of my typical rants, here is some useful information that we hopefully never need to use.


1) Most everyone who simply 'ducks and covers' WHEN BUILDINGS COLLAPSE is crushed to death. People who get under objects, like desks or cars, are crushed.

2) Cats, dogs and babies often naturally curl up in the fetal position. You should too in an earthquake. It is a natural safety/survival instinct. You can survive in a smaller void. Get next to an object, next to a sofa, next to a large bulky object that will compress slightly but leave a void next to it.

3) Wooden buildings are the safest type of construction to be in during an earthquake. Wood is flexible and moves with the force of the earthquake. If the wooden building does collapse, large survival voids are created. Also, the wooden building has less concentrated, crushing weight. Brick buildings will break into individual bricks. Bricks will cause many injuries but less squashed bodies than concrete slabs.

4) If you are in bed during the night and an earthquake occurs, simply roll off the bed. A safe void will exist around the bed. Hotels can achieve a much greater survival rate in earthquakes, simply by posting a sign on the back of the door of every room telling occupants to lie down on the floor, next to the bottom of the bed during an earthquake.

5) If an earthquake happens and you cannot easily escape by getting out the door or window, then lie down and curl up in the fetal position next to a sofa, or large chair.

6) Most everyone who gets under a doorway when buildings collapse is killed. How? If you stand under a doorway and the doorjamb falls forward or backward you will be crushed by the ceiling above. If the door jam falls sideways you will be cut in half by the doorway. In either case, you will be killed!

7) Never go to the stairs. The stairs have a different 'moment of frequency' (they swing separately from the main part of the building). The stairs and remainder of the building continuously bump into each other until structural failure of the stairs takes place. The people who get on stairs before they fail are chopped up by the stair treads - horribly mutilated. Even if the building doesn't collapse, stay away from the stairs. The stairs are a likely part of the building to be damaged. Even if the stairs are not collapsed by the earthquake, they may collapse later when overloaded by fleeing people. They should always be checked for safety, even when the rest of the building is not damaged.

8) Get Near the Outer Walls Of Buildings Or Outside Of Them If Possible - It is much better to be near the outside of the building rather than the interior. The farther inside you are from the outside perimeter of the building the greater the probability that your escape route will be blocked.

9) People inside of their vehicles are crushed when the road above falls in an earthquake and crushes their vehicles; which is exactly what happened with the slabs between the decks of the Nimitz Freeway. The victims of the San Francisco earthquake all stayed inside of their vehicles. They were all killed. They could have easily survived by getting out and sitting or lying next to their vehicles. Everyone killed would have survived if they had been able to get out of their cars and sit or lie next to them. All the crushed cars had voids 3 feet high next to them, except for the cars that had columns fall directly across them.

10) I discovered, while crawling inside of collapsed newspaper offices and other offices with a lot of paper, that paper does not compact. Large voids are found surrounding stacks of paper.

Monday, March 8, 2010


There are generally two type of environmentally minded people in Bellingham. The first realizes that we live in a wrld of diminshing resources and it would be prudent to preserve the precious things in our world that we presently take for granted. These include fresh water, crude oil, and food-related resources.

Then there is the second group of people that realizes that in this world of ever-increasing pepople living off a finite planet, any reduction of demand for a resource will only preserve it for the other mindset (not addressed in this post - they just think we're tree hugging whackos and there is an overabundance of everything in this land of aplenty from ores to ocean's bounties) who really don't believe or understand that resources are limited and sooner or later we will run out - the tragedy of the commons. So instead of trying to preserve what we have (although many of us do this - I am from this mindset, by the way) we realize the inevitable, and pattern our lifestyles based upon the drastically reduced availability of cheap materials and goods.

I do not live in fear. I am just aware. And it may never even happen in my lifetime, or even your children's. It's sort of fun, actually. And rasing my own chickens and veggies is a hell of a lot more fun than doing on the internet. And by god, it's real. And the eggs are remarkable. And the chickens are happy. I wonder if they would run to you in the organic factory farms like ours do?

Enough bitching. Time to get away from this computer and read for a bit.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Walking around town with my camera. Freight train passing through under Bay and Chestnut Streets. In background is smoldering remains of fire in Old Town. Image taken March 1 2010.

Here is a picture taken from a friend's blog. The building up the way on the right burned down last week. It was a closed-down antique store across from the Olde Town Cafe. He's a avid biker here in Bellingham and has a web site too right here.

Yeterday was a filled schedule, but looking back, it was beautiful. A friend came in from Eugene who is very active with permaculture there. I showed him around Bellingham what was going on in the Lettered Streets, York, Sunnyland and over to the Roosevelt School where they're adding raised beds. There are tremendous things afoot in Bellingham with regard to permacultutre and urban gardening, and I am glad to be playing a small part in it. One to some friends for dinner last night (avid permaculturalists and a model garden), where onece again I realize how lucky I am to live in this life surrounded by wonderful people.

So tomorrow begins another week. And it is good that there some figment of weekend returning to my life, and fortunately a day today of leisure (almost).

Friday, March 5, 2010

Suzuki Foundation

There is a broad movement going on in Bellingham that I am glad to be a small part of. Many people see the threat of the changing climate, water and crude oil depletion, and many other factors as a threat to our food supply and existence. Every year, we schedule a few bike tours around Bellingham that showcase the different gardens and how people are turning tiny (and not so tiny) plots of land into food producing areas replete with berries, veggies, fruits, fowl, bees, herbs, and many other produce items.

Then it was on to hear a speaker at the Suzuki Foundation at the County Building. I would like to say that I found it uplifting, but the hypocrisy of someone like Dr. Moola - a person with good intentions and purpose - amaze me. Here he is talking about the degradation of our natural resources and drinking water, in the same breath (literally) taking a drink from one of the myriad Dasani water bottles scattered about his podium. I almost walked out I was so apalled.

How are we supposed to take anything someone like Dr. Moola says seriously? It was a perfect endorsement for Coca Cola products, as he was flanked to his left and right by bottles of tap water. Is it below these environmental prophets to practice what they preach? Such simple steps?

Each Dasani bottle contains approximately three ounces of oil to produce. This doesn't include the other chemicals, toxins, water, etc. that goes into producing these bottles that will be mostly thrown away. And I wonder how much oil for producing these bottles comes from Athabasca Oil Sands? Or the pristine old growth forest of South America whose protection he is promoting?

Sorry Dr. Moola, although your intentions are trendy, I cannot validly accept anything you say with much substance. Maybe that's why I rarely go to these functions; I usually leave pissed off. Meanwhile we Americans go back to our consumer lifestyles and use a disgustingly disproportionate share of the world's diminishing resources.

Meanwhile we keep consuming. Makes me want to go to Costco. Gotta buy more for less. I need another case of bottled tap water.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Like many things in my life, I tend to vehemently procrastinate when it comes to some of the more undesirable tasks related to work. One such item is the completion of a company tax return that should have been done weeks ago. And tonight while I should be completing it I sit here typing away in this web log. But not unlike a similar fear of jumping off a high dive, I sooner or later will need to take the plunge.

On another somber note, the unemployment rate in Whatcom County increased to 9.4%, the highest since 1993. But I read all around the country that the boom will be in healthcare, even though I sit here with increasing back pain - either from sleeping on a crummy mattress or picking up a 110 pound bag of potatoes the wrong way a few weeks ago working at the food bank, I am not certain which - wondering if I should live with it or pay cash to see a doctor, since my health care doesn't kick in until I spend a couple grand. I guess I am lucky to be one of the unhealthy (or fat or old or otherwise ill) Americans that will help drive the economic engine well into the 21st century. The only problem is, we increasingly cannot afford utilize this crippled health care system. And unfortunately there are no solutions out there with any tough decision regarding the insurers, pharmaceuticals and lawyers; these seem to only receive cursory mention.

Personally, I will probably pursue the path of an acupuncturist. At least I can ty to work out a barter. Bartering can be very useful in a city such as Bellingham with a mean wages being $18/hour. By the broad societal standards I earn way too little to be happy and satisfied. But still, I am.

And the picture is of chalk art from downtown taken this past summer.

Monday, March 1, 2010


Now I am not really a scientist, and my efforts to pursue any career remotely based on science proved dismally futile. But I wonder...what if these earthquakes are either just bad luck, or else the fact that huge volumes of water are being shifted from the poles (as solids in the form of ice) to the equatorial latitudes in the form of liquid (melted ice), and this huge weight has some effect on the shifting of the tectonic plates. Now a teacher friend told me for some reason (which I cannot recall) that this was not the case.

But considering that there are seven pounds (roughly) in a gallon of water, the billions and billions of pounds of water sloshing around this planet would probably have some impact on the underlying plates. Just a cursory thought, as these poor people in the Caribbean and Sout America try to piece their lives back together.

I've only been in two really small ones, but fortunately I live about fifty feet above sea level and a quarter mile from the ocean (or bay, actually) and am protected by 160 or so islands. I guess when my number's up though, it won't be in my control. Why are human so fearful of death? And why are we as Americans so goal driven when the enjoyment in this fragile life should be in every step in every day of life's journey? I dunno. And I never will know.