Saturday, July 31, 2010


The old Lynden Christian High School in 1965.–COURTESY|FOR THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

Today was an odd summer day. The cloud cover never blew or burned off Bellingham, and it turned to rain around noon. And rained all day. This was certainly an oddity, as it never seems to rain around now. And it was chilly.

But it's early evening ad the sun poked through and I sit in a quiet coffee shop working for a bit. A fifty mile bike ride today up through Lynden and Birch Bay, and after a night of interrupted sleep (fun funky fun last night) could lie down and take a nap right here. (But I probably won't.)

Two things that could have benefited from no rain today included the sidewalk chalk art festival, and my friend taking the roof off his house for an addition. Both which seemed to forge ahead anyway - not entirely unimpeded

A good day and ending to July. August traditionally has been the month of adventure, so we shall see what fun lies ahead.

Friday, July 30, 2010


Here is a picture taken a few weeks ago that is from Boulevard Park. After a bit more thought, I realize and am glad that the majority of summer is still ahead of us. Summer begins late in Bellingham, and can safely be considered July, August and September. Change comes mid-October, and November begins to turn rainy. So yeah, there's basically three or four months of predictable summer. And Bellinghamsters love every minute of it. But the nicest thing is the $40 electric and $4 gas bills.

Today, another chilly morning that will give way to sun later once the morning clouds burn off. And a funk jam at the Wild Buffalo tonight?

I think my dog sitting stint is over, as my housemate returns tonight. I think I've spoiled the dog, as she really hasn't been left alone for too long and has been diligently walked every night. What a sweetie.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Subdued Stringband Jamboree

The picture is of my backyard. Although someehat neglected this summer, most of the plants back here are food producing. If you look between the cherry tree and the hops, you can see Mt. Baker. (click picture to enlarge)

So the days of summer are upon us. That means evening strolls or bike rides through town (recently the walks includes a Labrador retriever) and see familiar faces or meeting people. The constant breeze from the bay is beautiful, and actually a bit chilly even during the heat of the day. This is so much nicer than the constant drone of air conditioning from the other other world where I once lived.

I had a startling realization last night that summer may actual be on the wane as August is almost upon us. Although I've only been here five summers, I recall summer usually edging into early October. Plenty of time for summer activities, including camping, sailing and next week's Subdued Stringband Jamboree. Once of my weekend chores is to get the gutbucket out and start practicing in hopes of joining some midnight picking circles. I used to sit in with a bunch of musicians in Kentucky on their bluegrass jam sessions back in the day, so I can hold my own.

I am volunteering at the jamboree, so I am sure you'll heare more about it here.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Next day I went to the dentist
He pulled some teeth
and I lost some blood
We'd like to thank you
for the cards you sent us
My wives and I were all choked up.
-Neil Young

Let's see, what will my summer slush fund will be used for?
1). New Weber carbs for my VW Type II Weekender
2). A new roof for the garage
3). Camping gear
4). Repair a broken crown and some periodontal surgery

Guess which one?

And here is a very interesting post that basically summarizes all that you hear me bitch about:

Which is the Bigger Threat: Terrorism or Wall Street Bonuses?

By Wallace C. Turbeville, the former CEO of VMAC LLC, and a former Vice President of Goldman, Sachs & Co.

The current system of trader compensation will continue to decay the heart of Wall Street.

Which is a greater threat to the nation — terrorism or the relentless decline of middle income families? Unless we abandon our core values out of unwarranted fear, terror cannot fundamentally change our way of life. The number of people affected by growing income disparity is vast. When I was a student, income disparity was indicative of an underdeveloped and unstable society...

Read On...

Monday, July 26, 2010


So the United States is spending $1 trillion per year on our war machine, which is basically bankrupting our country. By latest account there are three hundred Al Qaeda remaining in Afghanistan, and by some accounts (Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Michael Leiter) closer to one hundred. To me this sounds like we completed our objective of weakening and eradicating the Al Qaeda from Afghanistan. Presently, the cost to be in the county is roughly a half trillion dollars, or $5b per Al Qaeda insurgent. What a horrible mess. As the U.S. crumbles and politicians bicker about a paltry $20b being wasted on certain social programs like the Veterans Administration or silly things like education and social services. By any metric - whether society, infrastructure, fiscal policy, income disparity, etc. - we are a nation in severe decline.

I think the U.S. war machine has historically been by far the most effective lobbying effort milking trillions from taxpayers pockets over the years. A back-of-the-envelope calculation concludes that every dollar that each U.S. citizen earns (sort of like tax freedom day, which occurs some time in April) for all of January and a good chunk of February pays solely for our highly wasteful and ineffective war industry. Oddly enough, it takes the same amount of time for you and me to earn the wages spent on that military that the Europeans have for legally-mandated vacation time. Hmm.

Yes, I am quite liberal, but more so than this, I am a business person and have my share of failures and successes. Our military business model is one that cannot be sustained by any form of measurement. I wonder if Afghanistan will collapse the United States the same way it collapsed the Soviet Union and its military overstretch? At least the Soviet Union was blatant and attempted to annex this land for the benefit of the government, and not the private interests.

Believe it or not, a good day so far and a beautiful week lies ahead. I am sooo lucky to have my little 800sf home here is peaceful Bellingham. Hopefully my country won't find it necessary to spread its peace- and freedom-loving ways in my part of the world. I hope the tens of thousands of Afghan civilians killed by NATO forces have found peace.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Although I love and live very close to downtown Bellingham, it still amazes me how more and more businesses are closing their doors in town due to the recession, high rents, etc. Yesterday, I saw Sportsman Chalet is moving, although only over to Sunnyland Square next to Trader Joes (a few blocks from my place). Another empty storefront in Downtown Bellingham. I think there is more empty space in the downtown area than occupied space.

Considering that real estate historically appreciated at not much more than a bank CD, and through this decade rose fivefold that amount per annum, I wonder how many people are closing their doors due to the overinflated rents? Or I wonder if the parking enforcement Nazis in town have anything to do with driving away business? (I've heard that "paid" parking does not even cover the cost of all the enforcement staff continuously plying the streets looking for these blatant criminals whose appointment in town may have run over by ten minutes.)

I am sure there are other reasons for this egress from downtown, but hopefully this trend will stabilize or reverse at some point. But after looking for space for a company in town, to say there is an overabundance of office space in town is an understatement.

But this is merely indicative of the bigger national problem. Low interest rates manipulated by the Federal Reserve, coupled with lax lending standards created the commercial real estate bubble (both images are from this article) that is not to often mentioned in the MSM. And I suspect this trend is likely to worsen over the next few years.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Last night was a night to visit an old housemate that has since moved out to Kendall, a neat little town nestled in the foothills of the Cascades. The juxtaposition of the McMansions immediately next to run down trailers was quite uncanny.

And although there were "Conserve Water" signs all over the community, guess where the lawn sprinklers were operating unfettered? I guess when you have a huge mortgage, the rules of practicality and reasonableness don't apply to you.

But it was still a fun time, and the drive down from the Mt. Baker Highway is more beautiful than the drive out. With a wonderful tired dog sleeping on your lap, driving down the highway in a little pickup truck with the windows down and French Canadian jazz playing on the radio with a full moon (well almost - a waxing gibbous a day or two until the full moon, although it still cast generous light on the surrounding hills). Nothing could be finer.

Saturday morning and I sit here planning my day drinking coffee on a conference call typing away. Bike ride? Kite flying? Hike? Sail? Sit outside and read? Garden? Too many choices for a beautiful summer day in Bellingham.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Colton Harris-Moore disembarks from an airplane as he arrives at Boeing
Field in Seattle on Wednesday, July 21, 2010. The alleged "Barefoot Bandit"
is back in Washington state, where authorities say he began a two-year
multistate crime spree.

Summers and winters are quite interesting with regard to the energy level.

In the summertime, people are out and about and it's pushing ten o'clock and the sky is still light. And there is so much to do outside, that by the time you come in to relax in your easy chair, it's almost time to sleep. Movies, reading, or other sedentary activities are quite uncommon (unless the reading is at the park, or the movie is outdoors on the Fairhaven Green) and it's midnight by the time you collapse exhausted, only to have the sun peeking into your window at 5am.

Winters, on the other hand, are more lethargic and 5pm rolls around and it is pitch black outside and by eight you're ready for bed. The low energy level makes for a tendency to be tired, but on a different level. I think all mammals, humans included, have a tendency to require more rest in the winter - some obviously even needing to hibernate.

The movie rental place, bars, and everyone in between seems to realize that people will be outside enjoying the summer, versus being inside. Thank goodness for summer. Speaking of which, tonight I think I need some down time and will pop in a movie, even though I should be getting ready to turn in.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Last year I bought a Felt Curbside single speed bike. It has two hubs: a single speed free wheel and a fixed gear - each on the same wheel, you just flip the wheel for the other option. For the entire time I bought it, I ran it on the freewheel side, as I was a bit apprehensive about making the move to a fixed gear (the pedals turn relative to each rotation of the wheel, so if you are cruising down a road at a good clip, your pedals are too and you need to either keep up with them, or slow the bike down).

So this week when I changed a flat, I swapped it out to the fixie side and it has been interesting to say the least. Personally I prefer the freewheel side, and will probably change back at some point soon. Just not today, as I am in a hurry and need to leave in ten minutes. I guess I could drive, as I have this little truck sitting woefully in front of my house that never gets used. (Sometimes I think that I should just sell it.)

But whenever I'm in my vehicle, I feel like a fat slug and yearn to be on my bike, so it's never a difficult decision whether to bike or drive. Especially when its 72 and cloudless.

A good morning following a nice evening of meditation at the Red Cedar Dharma Hall. I once told a friend that I didn't have time to meditate, and she replied "exactly."

Monday, July 19, 2010


Another picture taken last week from the Taylor Street Dock. When summertime is upon us, people frequently talk about how Bellingham is the greatest place in the world. And it is. Those sentiments sometimes change when the sky starts darkening on a cloudy winter day at 2:45pm and night will shortly thereafter fall.

But winter is a million miles away. Right now, it's another beautiful seventy degrees and breezy. Time to run down to Fairhaven on the bike, and then more errands. Although my life is busy, it has become manageable once again. Enough to watch a French film last night (even business at Film Is Truth is way off during the summer, so I've been told).

A Saturday bicycle ride down along SR9 towards Sedro Woolley, followed by a motorbike ride yesterday with my neighbor, following the same path, except a ride back up Chuckanut Drive. Livin' the dream.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sunnyland Stomp

I live in the Sunnyland neighborhood, and today is a beautiful day for the Sunnyland Stomp, and art walk where many neighbors open up their backyards are art galleries. Here is a map of the places that I hope to visit this afternoon and evening. My neighbors are on the tour, and my housemate gave them some art to display. They will have a DJ and always have funky, interesting friends at their place.(The picture was taken from this Sunnyland Stomp web site.)

This is my fifth summer in Bellingham, so it looks like Bailey and I will be taking tour to meet more of my wonderful neighbors. But before that, some work, a bicycle ride out in the country, and a handful of other things.

And later a possible concert down at Maritime Park to see Keaton Collective for a CD release party, replete with free Mallards Ice Cream. I thought this was last night, but I think I got the days wrong.

Friday, July 16, 2010


Today I went a Technology Alliance Group luncheon in Bellingham. I go to these on occasion to see friends and meet new ones. It was a great meeting and the discussion was the fiber network that Google is trying to bring to a city somewhere in the United States. Of the 11,000 applicants, there is a murmur that Bellingham may be one of the finalists.

It is unfortunately a crying shame the the U.S. so woefully lags the rest of the industrialised world in broadband availability. One image was that Finland will used as an example requiring by law that 100Mbps broadband access would be guaranteed to all its citizens by 2015. The U.S., by comparison, has a speed of only 3.8Mbps. I guess when the corporate sector controls the government and profit is all that matters, the citizens of this country must sacrifice something, But I digress.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


I've seen quite a few Green Lacewings flying around. Now I normally have a pretty bad aphid problem in both my front yard and the kale patch out back. This year the aphids have been much less present than prior years. And lacewings supposedly have a voracious appetite for aphids, so I wonder if they are are keeping the aphid numbers in check?

I tried to release a swarm of ladybugs too last year but few seemed hang around. They too seem to love aphids. This year I have also seen quite a few of them, come to think of it. Gee, imagine nature keeping itself in balance without pesticides.

A long day ended by reading in the park: The Genie In Your Genes, a remarkable book that I can use at this point in my life. And walking the dog. And running into friends in town, and all the beautiful smiling Bellingham women. I think in life, that this is about as good as it can get, and for that I am constantly appreciative.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Summer is finally here, and that means rides to Boulevard Park, and getting home to settle down when the time is pushing eleven o'clock. This picture was taken across the Bellingham Bay tonight. It's taken me quite some time to decompress after my return from the East Coast, but I gradually feel myself gravitating back to the Bellingham vibe.

Not much more to say. The new resident Bailey might possibly be the sweetest Dog I've know to date, and the her joy and happiness upon my returning home is always very welcoming. I wonder if she knows how much support she gives me in these dificult times of endless work (well almost endless) while trying to get some businesses off the ground.

It looks like some brighter days are ahead. I think.

Monday, July 12, 2010


I see first hand of the increased struggles faced by small business owners in this country, especially in raising working capital in cyclical dry periods, such as quarterly payrolls and taxes. The increased spreads , the high turn-down rate of small business loan efforts, the increasing burden of the governments (ie, taxes), hefty service charges by banks (for credit/debit cards, for example) all paint a grim picture for the the small business owner.

This wouldn't be so bad unto itself, but the small businesses are what create the bulk of hobs in this country. I do not know the specific numbers, but I read how the top 500 companies in the U.S. shed - through productivity enhancements, layoffs, etc. - approximately the same number of jobs that the small companies created, hence the jobless economic recovery that we've experienced. The number I recall was approximately 21m jobs created by small business versus 20m jobs eliminated by the S&P500 companies since 2000. Again, a grim economic outlook.

I am not opposed to taxation. Actually, I am a big proponent of redistribution of wealth, which is increasingly concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer in this country (at historical levels - not just for US history, but for the world's history, time immemorial) while the basic needs of society continue to erode and go unmet. So by definition I am a socialist. But the economic system in this country that favours the large corporation (continuing to be comfortably profitable) while the pervasive anemia that virtually everyone feels on Main Street is only addressed through programs that benefit larger banks or are merely lip service to the politicians voting constituents.

One example is the paltry SBA loan program. Back in the nineties, I recall getting an SBA loan for a young kid upwards of $100,000 to open a bike shop, which he successfully launched and operated. Today, this same loan would require perfect credit, a painfully lengthy application process, your home, grandmother and first born as collateral, and you might get the loan. Actually, you probably still wouldn't get the loan. I haven't heard of a single person getting an SBA loan (and I've worked with probably a hundred small businesses) in the past decade. Our derelict government is failing us, and we continue to vote the single Dem/Rep ticket. So sad.

A very interesting blog that I have as my home page that paints a more realistic picture of the economic environment in this country and world: Naked Capitalism. Oh well, back to the salt mines on this cloudy, chilly day in Bellingham.

And on a much brighter note, a picture of my new dog that moved in a few weeks back - quite possibly the sweetest dog I've ever met. All the good things in the world are manifested in this little sentient being.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Here is a picture taken down at Squalicum Marina looking towards the south.

A beautiful Sunday, following a beautiful Sunday, which followed a beautiful Friday. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to enjoy it that much, and it was spent moving someone's stuff down to Seattle. I am glad that business will no long require met to drive down there as frequently as I once had to. I try to take one day off a week to relax, and this Saturday was anything but relaxing. But after spending a few weeks traveling, I realized that weekly days of leisure may be non-existent for the remainder of July.

Sunday is meetings, and a business acquaintance staying at my place for a few days to refine a business plan and model - his arrival anticipated to be tomorrow afternoon.

Not much more to say, other than the Barefoot Bandit finally being apprehended in the Bahamas, after a cross-country spree that lasted years. I recall seeing wanted signs all over Orcas Island with pictures of Colton Harris-Moore, who eluded police for years. A failed DB Cooper?

Friday, July 9, 2010


I sit here in a coffee shop in Bellingham listening to a kid chatting on his cell phone about getting turned away at the border for lack of funds in his possession. I have read where Bellingham has become a refuge for many of those getting turned back at the Canadian border, for whatever reason, whether visiting Canada or traveling through to Alaska.

I find our northern neighbors to be quite pleasant, with the exception of the customs officers, the horribly always-in-a-hurry reckless BC drivers on I-5, and the shoppers that I always seem to get behind when I visit the mall (on rare occasion) that are adorned in gold, jewelry and expensive clothes that are always seem to be negotiating a deal or discount on the sale item that they are purchasing. I wonder where these people come from?

I recall working over at one of the ugly malls in Bellingham a few years back where the huge, expensive RVs driven by retirees would park behind the K-mart in order to save money at our allegedly cheaper retail establishments. Whatever floats your boat.

A new housemate, who left for a trip over to the dry side of the state and beyond. So I am dog sitting today. And for the foreseeable future. More work tonight. An exciting Friday night.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


It was most enjoyable to return to the heat wave of Bellingham, after returning from the heat wave of the East Coast. A heat wave in Bellingham makes the front page when the temperature is in the mid-eighties with a cool breeze off the bay. Conversely, a heat wave in Philadelphia is a hundred-plus degrees with humidity to match, and a stagnant air that oppresses everything. Needless to say, the former is much more appreciated.

Another nice thing is the quiet here on a summer's night, as air conditioning is virtually non-existent. Compare this the places I visited, where every home has a huge motor turning an air cooling machine literally twenty-four hours a day, and you have a constant hum permeating the air along with the heat and humidity.

I really do not like freezing in air conditioning, and I do not enjoy hundred degree temperatures. Needless to say, I am happy to be home in my humble home. I am lucky for the life I live.

Oh and the picture above is from the Bellingham Herald. It's of Caspian Terns at GP site in town.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


I began and ended my trip staying with a friend in Norristown, PA. His home is one of the large, old row homes that populate that town - a diverse and ethnically mixed neighborhood. But hundred deree weather coupled with seventy degree walls of air conditioning gets old rather quickly. This morning on the train to the airport, the temperature was already eighty-seven at 8:27am.

That is the high for Seattle today, which is labeled a scorcher. And I've been told that summer is in full stride in Bellingham, with temps in the seventies and cloudless. Needless to say, I look forward to returning to tolerable temperatures without the everpresent drone of air conditioners.

Don't get me wrong, I had a fabulous time on the East Coast, but my plate is full in Bellingham with work and life, so I am glad to return home. But we ended the trip with a relaxing night of watching the Phillies play the Braves, and I tried to act like I knew baseball, even though it's been decades since I followed the sport. Adieu from the airport of Philadelphia - a city that holds many fond memories from my formative years, and good friends that still reside there.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Here is a picture taken of the sun about to set last night while driving up I-81 in Pennsylvania. I reminisce of the fun times I had living in Pennsylvania, but this is no longer my life, and I long to return to Bellingham.

Although the summer began early here and the humidity and heat is overwhelming. Although I never use air conditioning, I found it to be relieving in this oppressive heat. I think after living without heat or air conditioning that I become more sensitive to both.

I will gladly take a Bellingham heat wave (86 is the projected high tomorrow) any day over the 98 degrees (and comparable humidity) that Scranton wil experience today. Off to Philly to end my trip for a flight back to SeaTac tomorrow.

Although I love visiting PA, it is no longer my home. I am both lucky and grateful to return to my simple existence in Bellingham. Someday I might come back to live along the Susquehanna River and drink Genesee Beer but that is a few years away still.

Time to pack and move on.