Monday, August 30, 2010


This picture was taken yesterday as I went with a friend close up to Mt. Baker, although we took the lazy way and drove up. It was could and drizzly, and you could see your breath up around five thousand feet, but with both agreed that the best way to see the lush woods of the Cascades was in the rain. Somehow, when it is dry and sunny, the forest seems stressed and dormant. When it's raining, however, it feel fresh and alive.

At any rate, we spent much more time in the mountains that we'd ever anticipated, and by the time I made it home, it was well past dark.

Upon returning home last night, I came across a white feather and took it as a symbol of clarity entering my life. Then I realized that I have a white chicken, and it wasn't really anything that miraculous.

But today is another Monday. I wish I could be more introspective, but the wear and tear of working with start-up companies is taking its toll on my physical state (although my mental acuity appears unfettered) and I need a good rest. I think that it may be this weekend when I leave my electronics behind and head to the San Juans.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


One of the joys of owning an 80+ year-old house is that no project is simple. Take unclogging a drain, for instance. What should have been a simple project turned into hours spent over three days of unclogging clumps of hair and other grimy stuff from the bowels of my home's plumbing that accumulated over decades and decades.

Simple joy now prevails whenever I see the water effortlessly disappear down the drain. And while on the topic of water...water sourcing will be quite an issue in the upcoming years (er, actually it already is in many parts of the world), and I think Bellingham is in one of the advantageous position of not having critical water issues. And I would not be surprised if at some point in the not-too-distant future if places that ring the Great Lakes (including Detroit) become more desirable as the arid southwest's water crisis continues to unfold

The funny thing is, many people refer to the precipitation trend there as a drought. I have read that California, Arizona, etc. are not experiencing a drought at all, but merely the end of a wet period that lasted roughly a hundred years. A three points there were unseasonable wet centuries in the west - one in 800AD, the second in 1200AD, and the third began around 1900AD. To call it a drought is wrongs, as it is merely just returning to its normal arid state.

I welcome every drop of rain that falls from the Bellingham sky. While people may complain about the rain, I instead thank a god.

Friday, August 27, 2010

New Orleans

Probably one of the most remarkable things I've ever done in my life was driving down to New Orleans with nothing more than an printed e-mail and atlas from some woman in Washington State directing us to a farm in Raceland, Louisiana to rescue four-legged victims of Hurricane Katrina.

I was married at the time and we decided to drive from Lake Tahoe (where we lived at the time) to Louisiana via Cincinnati (to drop off our dog), and worked for a week of eighteen-hour days in hundred-degree weather with humidity to match, helping with a hugely successful rescue effort by an organization out of Sultan (of all places) - all hosted by a family on their hundred acre farm amongst the sugar cane fields the low-lying bottoms of Bayou Lafourche.

But that was five years ago and the images will be forever embedded in my mind of ravaged Louisiana and St. Bernard Parish (where we went on rescue): Crossing Lake Pontchartrain and immediately seeing all the blue tarps covering all the roofs; or the few decaying dogs we found outside some of the homes waiting for their owners to return; or the family returning to their home for the first time since the storm struck to find everything destroyed, and asking us (the rescuers from Posados) if we needed anything.

I will always have a spot in my heart for New Orleans.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Here's a piece if artwork taken from this site.

Pretty much weekly, I get people searching my site for gangs in Bellingham. It seems to be a trendy thing to have a gang presence in your town, but this is where Bellingham fortunately lags the rest of the country. Maybe there is some gang activity that occurs here, but I've not seen any indication of this, nor have friends or the media taken much notice of it. And I live near downtown where I might hear a police siren once a week, so I somehow still feel quite safe in this drug- and gang-ravaged city teetering on anarchy and societal collapse.

I wouldn't be surprised if there was some pass through of gangs, since Whatcom County is a allegedly a origin of the drug pipeline from BC down through the rest of the United States. I once knew of a woman down on 22nd Street that used to complain about a black man the moved into her apartment complex and blared offensive music all day and used foul language and yelled at his girlfriend and drove a Cadillac Escalade with shiny wheels - she told me he just moved up from California and was involved in a gang.

A friend told me about a gang here called the Tofu Posse. But instead of guns and knives, their weapons are bongs and patchouli oil.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I realized a few months ago that I would be very busy in my little world with these start-up companies that I am working with. Last January I realized it would be a hellishly busy year, and that has been the case. But at least I find satisfaction in my endeavors, and finally after four years living in a town with limited employment prospects, I might finally be able to match my earnings of the nineties.

But fortunately, in this lifelong exercise, I've been able to realize that there is virtually no correlation between money and happiness. For me, at least. I think having less makes you appreciate the simple things in life, versus being inundated with material goods. And the best thing about my lifestyle is not needing to set an alarm. I cannot recall when I was last woken by the abrasive noise of a morning alarm. I sleep when tired, and waken when rested.

Speaking of downtime, an interesting article in today's New York Times. I frequently leave the house without my cell phone, and eschew most gadgetry of today. I remember reading in the seventies that technology would create all this free time for us and reduce our work loads. I find these people that are wired 24/7 are never truly free from the rigors of work, and quite the opposite has occurred. Speaking of which - back to work at 9am on another glorious Bellingham day.

Monday, August 23, 2010


Sometimes it takes a picture like this to remind you of the beauty of the 165 islands that lie just off the shore of Bellingham. And in a few weeks I will be sailing amongst them. This picture was taken a while back, and is about ten blocks from my house.

A wonderful Monday following a fun, balanced weekend of work and pleasure, with probably more of the former. I sit here from an office wishing I could be out in the sun a bit more, as the weekend was sort of cloudy and chilly and today returned to summer mode.

I should be bitching about the state of the economy, or the oil in the gulf, or the poor people in Pakistan, but today I might just bask in the warmth of the sun and blue skies and sea and mountains and realize that I am a lucky person. For now, at least, I breathe a sigh of relief.

But back to work, as meetings will probably run well into the evening tonight. But what could be finer than this life? (Well other than the fact that I my earnings are roughly what I was making in 1996, but I won't go there on this fine day.)

Well the danger on the rocks is surely past
Still I remain tied to the mast
Could it be that I have found my home at last
Home at last

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Yesterday - maybe it was the chill in the air, or the cool evenings, or some other odd reason - the small of fall was in the air already. And last night was literally a cold night. Cold enough that I needed to close windows. I wonder if summer is on the wane? I said many times before that a mild winter would lead to a short-lived summer. I never thought that it would mean only six weeks of summer. And of those, a few were cloudy, chilly and rainy.

I actually love September, as it is usually cooler, still sunny, and the youthful energy of the returning WWU students (for better or worse) pervades Bellingham.

The picture above was taken around Glacier Creek last week on a hike. I hope to get to the mountains sometime next month to camp when the blueberries are out.

Tonight, I hope to go to the Acoustic Tavern, as I need to get out. A stressful week with a nice ending.

Friday, August 20, 2010


Working in a world of quirky entrepreneurs, one day your life is imploding, the next you are sitting on top of the world. Yesterday was the former (or maybe it was Tuesday) and today I am somewhere in the middle - or maybe a bit more on the positive side.

When things get really bad, I spend a good deal of time refining my Plan B. The earlier part of the week was spent wondering how I could escape the mainland and go out to Orcas to live on my friend's land and work his ten acres while he tends to his business in Portland. I would live off the grid in my VW bus and get a job in East Sound when the seasons permit, and otherwise raise chickens and grow edibles.

Fortunately, things changed for the better, and today I am back to my typical regimen of launching multiple companies, being woefully undercompensated and loving every minute of it. I am lucky to be a Bellinghamster and be able to tool about my daily life on my bicycle and meet with the interesting visionaries of Bellingham whose ideas spawn the industry of tomorrow. Even the invigorating 9am-12am days don't matter so much.

The picture above is of Deer Harbor, taken last year. I think another passage south is planned for Labour Day from Orcas Island back down to Portland. A three or four day offshore sail. Fun.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Another beautiful day with the first quarter moon climbing the sky. Not much to say tonight. I forget that August in Bellingham is typically a time when vacations occur. There are not many people in town and it can be a bit challenging to conduct business.

But early to bed tonight, after getting caught up on sleep from the weekend. Here is a picture from the magical Cascades taken last Sunday. We had a resident pit bull that stayed a few nights with us until the owner cold be found. She called this morning (a Craigslist ad proved successful) and picked her dog up around 9:30am. What a sweet dog. But we are back down to a one-dog household.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Subdued Hangover

Here is a picture of my camping spot at the festival as it started filling up. The stage was to the right - very close. So was water, bathrooms, tables,... I've been to my share of concerts and festivals and this was comfortable and cozy.

On one hand I want to say it was the best festical that I ever attended, as the mood was beautiful and although I am lucky to live in a wonderfully friendly town like Bellingham, it is always nice to get amongst the evergreens and relax; I think that all the people that make Bellingham such a special place all descended upon the Deming Log Show Grounds for music, fun, merriment, very little sleep and more music.

On the other hand I think it sucked. I say this to strongly discourage any others from ever attending. It was the perfect size (1,000? 2,000?) of mostly Bellinghamsters, and its success and continued increasing numbers may very well be its biggest impediment.

Too much to say, but you will hear more. Ending the festival with a hike up to Glacier Creek was a good way to end the day. Now to slide back into a Bellingham work week, with a pile of fresh, tasty memories. And speaking of tasty, check out this show I stumbled upon from where I grew up in Scranton, PA.

Friday, August 13, 2010


So I sit here writing and will be very brief, since I need to get back out to the log show grounds where I should have camped last night. Driving out Mount Baker Highway, the worries and rigors of the city soon fell away. It was the orientation and set-up for the jamboree was Thursday, followed by a great meal and a concert. Unfortunately, I was unable to see the concert as I needed to get home and pack - something I woefully neglected until the last minute.

So this afternoon the official Subdued Stringband Jamboree kicks of and a beautiful weekend is planned - both weather-wise and musically. And having never been to the Deming Log Show grounds before, I impressed at how clean of a venue it will be to hold a festival After attending many Grateful Dead concerts in my day, the days of concerts and festivals with 50,000 people is a little much. A thousand or two is more my speed.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


So this weekend is the Subdued Stringband Jamboree, something I've not yet attended in the many years I lived in Bellingham But oddly enough, virtually everyone I asked about it seems to be going. So a few nights of camping and relaxing and god music. And probably leaving the cell phone home, so that disconnect from the world may be quite beneficial.

Tonight there is a volunteer's orientation, so I am going to head up for that, along with a meal and some music afterwards. And beautiful weather is anticipated too. I love smaller concerts where you can lie on a blanket and soak in the good energy from all around. Now I just need to borrow a tent...

I probably won't post again until Sunday, but who knows.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bonnie Prince Billy

Tonight at the Wild Buffalo, Will Oldham, or Bonnie Prince Billy, comes to Bellingham. I remember the days of yore seeing him play in underground indie clubs in places like Chapel Hill, DC, Columbus, Cleveland, Louisville and Philly, so I'm glad he's playing more mainstream clubs, as his music too has become a bit more refined over the years, versus his earlier raw Appalachian style.

I actually knew a close friend of his from years back that played with him and the other indie bands that evolved from Louisville, and I was able to speak with him on a few occasions (one time when we were staying at the Volkswagen Inn we asked him if he knew where we could crash - he said "sorry, I'm crashing on someone's couch myself tonight").

It's nice he's playing larger clubs where his following seems to have increased over the years. I frequently hear him on the CBC and KUGS. Although his music has become more refined over time, he is still an eccentric, odd cat. But it will be a show I look forward to, even though I have not been following his music for much of the past few years. I was told the tickets have been selling quite briskly for the show.

Should be fun.

Monday, August 9, 2010


A picture certainly not taken this evening. Today was a dreary day - a few hours of napping in the afternoon while watching a French film. The glimmer of hope always looms on the southwest horizon where Orcas Island lies in the rain shadow. There, one can see rays of sunshine peeking through that never quite make it to the mainland (that's how today was), where the needed rain made it a welcome visitor, but not departing too soon - and the realization in Bellingham it's always so much more pleasant being outside once you take the few steps to get there, versus looking at it from your little old-growth cedar and fir abode (from inside the weather always seeming less becoming), and I finally make it out with the gulls crying overhead and my little one-speed zipping about the damp streets of Bellingham immersed in the evergreen sea scents.

A half hour into my re-emergence from something I've not done in a long time (a lengthy afternoon nap). So I sort of need to hit it hard tonight at the coffee shop and should not be typing here. But a 1981 Dead show (with a perfect set list) is helping me find my groove.

Sun, warmth and good vibes predicted for this weekend's Subdued Stringband Jamboree.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Historic Whatcom County agriculture photos, courtesy of the Lynden Pioneer Museum. –PHILIP A. DWYER|THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

So today is cloudy, chilly and looks like rain soon. Fortunately the weather will break later in the week for the Subdued Stringband Jamboree. This is the tenth year for it, although only the first year that I will be attending. I think that I will be camping two of the three nights too. It starts Friday, but I am working at the show in Deming, so I need to go up on Thursday for an orientation followed by a concert later in the evening. High seventies and sunny.

It was a mild winter here in Bellingham and this led to a cooler summer. This morning's Herald mentioned how raspberry production is down 20% this year due to the damp and cold June. Geeze, and I thought it was a typical June. But a few years ago when I was haveing dinner on Montmartre, the owner told me of a saying in France: "Christmas on the balcony means Bastille Day by the fire." I think the same thing could be said here too. But the second half of of summer hopefully awaits, and yesterday's soaking rain was much needed. Now for some much needed yard work clearing the uber-aggressive blackberries. Maybe I will go pick some this week, as they are in high season right now. It seems thet send shoots out the first year that late turn into producing plants the following. That's my observation, at least.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


It looks like we finally have full production on the eggs. I believe the Silver-Laced Wyandotte finally started laying, so on a good day, we're getting four eggs. The two RI Reds (bottom eggs) won't lay every day as they are in their second year. With every year their egg production diminishes. I still find it pretty amazing that these little animals can produce eggs the way they do.

I might add two more next year, and maintain a flock of six. My egg consumption is gradually ramping up too, and it's always nice to giive a dozen away here or there. Oh, and the white one is from the California White.

Not much more to say here on a drizzly Saturday morning. I am dog sitting Magilla (and old house-mate's dog) today so we are spending some quality time together. She went out to the Wild Buffalo with us last night, although we just hung out outside and let a hundred people pet her.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Here is a picture taken a few nights ago from Fairhaven. Evidently the solar flares are creating some beautiful sunsets. A friend last night told me how he heard of these solar flares and the vulnerability of the electrical grid to solar surges and how this could conceivably shut down the electrical infrastructure throughout much of the country. I guess as I get older in life these things don't really get me too worked up anymore.

Bellingham is a pretty progressive place and the biggest enjoyment that I get living here is the stimulating, engaging conversation with the different people that I meet - either friends or strangers. Even if it's fringe conspiracy topics, it's still invigorating to discuss the myriad topics that make this complex world go 'round.

A hazy morning, after a night of refreshing rain. It hasn't rained in weeks and weeks up here (other than Saturday), so it was nice to see the clouds rolling in.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Here's another interesting graph showing the sentiments of small business owners in this country hitting a new low. I can go on and on about the decline of the small business in America and the impact on the overall economy. Ironically, Wells Fargo (who conducted this poll with Gallup) is probably one of the biggest culprits of this current mess (in my opinion...I'm sure there are more evil banks) systematically reducing credit across the board to small business owners after making their money on such moral things as money laundering and predatory lending. The WF banker told me this credit tightening was systematic and produced many irate customers. (That same day, I closed my WF accounts and moved over to WECU.)

I envision that things will only get worse, with one of the biggest issues being the small businesses' inaccessibility to credit for working capital and equipment/inventory purchases. Meanwhile, the large caps continue to chug along (the S&P500 performance has basically been flat over the past five years) - systematically reducing headcounts (ie, laying off) to offer their piddly earnings to those crazy enough to still own equities - while the small business owner (traditionally the generator of the bulk of new jobs in the U.S.) closes their doors or continues to see a dim outlook.

By reading the economic news from Wall Street, I see a pervasive disconnect from Main Street. Maybe I have been in the trenches too long an need to go back to the cubicle world. But given that choice, or spending my afternoon in a dentist chair (like yesterday), I think I would choose the latter. Oh well, back to work on another pleasant summer day in Bellingham.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

John Powers

I was riding my bike last evening and passed the Chuckanut Ridge Wine Company, where the many friends of John Powers paid homage to him with flowers and candles. Although I only met him a handful of times, it's sad to see a vibrant member of the community pass early from this world. I had a camera with me so I stopped to take this picture that moved me.

"A Celebration of John's Life" will be held Saturday, August 7, 2010 at 1PM at The Leopold, 1224 Cornwall Avenue

On another somber note, another interesting read on the precarious Chinese holdings of the U.S. Dollar. The huge trade imbalance has basically created China holding a trillion dollars in U.S. debt and basically at any moment being able to trigger collapse of the dollar be selling off its debt. But for better or worse, China would be committing fiscal suicide by liquidating this debt, and cannot overtly change its policy by shifting from U.S. Dollars to more sustainable currencies.

By any measurement, the continued trade deficit (and budget deficit, but to a lesser degree) will lead to the continued decline and eventual collapse of the dollar. Fun times ahead. I wonder what these two governments really have planned to avoid this catastrophe?

Monday, August 2, 2010


This morning I woke up next to a wonderful dog and thought it was the weekend. But what is the weekend? Traditionally I guess it is the two days that break the week apart and allow one to spend time with friends and family and recharge for the upcoming week. That concept is foreign to me, as my schedule is anything but predictable and regimented. But I actually found that when my life was broken into weekly segments and routines, it went by much more quickly versus my current schedule of having no set schedule.

But it was a good weekend, albeit interspersed with work and meetings. And yesterday I drove my little truck, so it was interesting to see all the out-of-town people visiting Bellingham to spend their tourist dollars - both declining U.S. dollars and its at-parity Canadian counterpart - once again remembering that I live in a quaint little seaside town that is a very desirable destination for traveling families, students and retirees participating in the abounding outdoor activities. Unfortunately for those seeking sun, this was a cloudy, chilly weekend.

A busy few days ahead, with the sun peeking through this morning. And it saddened me to hear that the owner of the Chuckanut Ridge Wine Company passed away this morning after sustaining a head injury last week and a freak accident. I met him a few times and he was always pleasant and upbeat. Life is so fragile.