Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Because something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones ?
-B. Dylan

I feel as though good times lie ahead in my little cacophonous life here in Bellingham. Since there is no real industry in this town, establishing a viable livelihood can be a rather daunting task. But things take a little longer here in this sleepy little seaside town, and slow and steady seems to be the path de facto to achieve anything.

But in spite of the laid by attitude in this City of Subdued Excitement, there is a pervasive murmur of entrepreneurial spirit here in Bellingham, and people commonly speak of the energy here that drives the attitude and positivity that abounds. I rarely hear of of anyone speaking of Bellingham in a disparaging tone. (This summer I heard a woman with out-of-state plates - evidently vacationing, replete with mountain bikes on the roof - scream out the window of her vehicle "I love this town!" Of course, silly. That's why we live here.

But this energy pertains too to the innovation and the new businesses and jobs that will replace the dwindling industrial base of this country. It's exciting to be part of these new ideas.

Yeah. it's hard to be humble when you live in a beautiful place like Bellingham

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


One of the most amazing things about Bellingham is how virtually no one (that I know, at least) watches any television. I was given a 13" television as gift back in the nineties and still watch an occassional DVD on it, but otherwise it goes unused.

This is a stark difference to living back east how every room seems to contain the constant drone of some mainstream media being piped into homes - with the news usually being sourced from CNN, FOX, etc. I also find it amazing that people actually rely upon the garbage MSM news that's being shoved down their collective throats. (Is it even news at all? Propaganda?) I liken CNN, FOX, et al., to eating fast food: Once you've not been subjected to it for awhile and seek alternative, more wholesome sources, you really how crappy it really is.

I am glad to live this life, and hope I never aspire to the world of flat screen televisions. I like engaging in conversation or reading about it from more accurate sources. Or not having my life revolve around "the game" or "the show" is so much more freeing. I will take a good book, CD or heated discussion any day over the sedentary dumbing down.

I read once how North Korea requires all homes to have government sponsored channels piped into their home around the clock through a media device (maybe some type of radio?). How is the US any different?

Monday, September 27, 2010


I do not know why, but this fall seems to have brought a tremendous increase in the spider population around Bellingham. It has been a frequent topic of discussion - they seem to be inordinately large and numerous this year.

Evidently there are some poisonous spiders lurking in my midst, including the Hobo Spider and Brown Recluse. I guess I should be concerned about their bites and intrusion into my civilized world, and combat them with insecticides and pesticides and myriad other chemicals, but they generally do not phase me. We seem to be able to share the same space.

Like most things, the media has a tendency to blow the effects of spider bites way out of proportion. I've read that yes, some people may have allergic reactions to spiders nearly die and others may see their flesh devoured, but the majority of people will feel nary anything beyond a slight bump or irritation caused by a spider bite - even the so-called poisonous ones.

I personally let them live and do their job and maintain a mutual friendship with them. And we all seem to get along just fine.

Another splendid fall day in Bellingham sitting in my favorite coffee shop waiting for a ten o'clock appointment to show up. Life is good in The 'Ham.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


Graph is from this interesting site.

It is amazing how very few of my contemporaries have little optimism that the job prospects for this country will improve. I think we have accepted the fact that our generation (and future ones) will have little chance of jobs with full benefits, pensions, or even a social network (e.g., human services, social security) to fall back upon as our country becomes increasingly broke. Considering the un/underemployment ranks around 25%, there seems to be little talk of ever returning to the grandeur this country once knew.

Full employment is a thing of the past; instead we now hear terms like "structural unemployment" incorporated into our vocabulary. I remember hearing a decade or two back how technology would create an entirely new class of people called the "leisure class" that would not need to work due to the advancements our society made in technology and productivity. I guess they forgot to add that this class would be be impoverished and left to fare on their own.

I am lucky to have a graduate degree and the prospect of jobs when I decide to foray into the market. I am also grateful for living in an economically-deficient town like Bellingham where residents place much greater emphasis on the things that money cannot buy. I have never lived in a community where people have materially so little, yet are the most self-satisfied. I wonder if indeed there is a positive correlation between angst and consumption?

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Today was a day of doing what I really needed to clear my body and soul, and that was to take a bike ride around the south side of Lake Whatcom, east to SR9, and then south into Sedro-Woolley. Well almost. I take shortcut over Prairie Road to Old 99 and come back up north on the highway. SR9 and SR99 are probably two of my favorite roads to bike on around here for views, road conditions and (lack of) traffic.

Fifty miles later, I find myself home unwinding after a friend came by with his three dogs. I wonder if the night scene of Bellingham will beckon this evening?

Some days I have a re-emergence in my awareness of the beauty that surrounds us here. Today was one such day. And to return to town refreshed (albeit a little tired) is a good thing. Some day I dream of riding cross country starting on SR99. I wonder what it will be like to ride fifty miles per day after day after day for a few months.

And I wonder how many more glorious days like today fall holds in store for us?

Acorn Project

Tonight was a night of music, as was last night, at the Wild Buffalo. Tonight, the Accorn Project; last night, The Productionists. Bllingham has a vibrant music scene, and I am glad to support it. And its always fun to see fellow Bellinghamsters out and about in good spirits on this wonderful warm fall night.

I cannot write much more, as I am quite tired and hope to bike ride tomorrow. Seventy-four and sunny.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bellingham Food Bank

Max Morange, agricultural programs coordinator for the Bellingham Food Bank, tries to catch an ear of corn while loading up approximately 1,160 pounds of sweet corn harvested by volunteers Wednesday morning, Sept. 22, 2010, at Boxx Berry Farm for the Bellingham Food Bank's Small Potatoes Gleaning Project. The corn will be distributed to some of the 29 different hunger relief agencies in Whatcom County.

For a few years I have been volunteering at the Bellingham Food Bank on Wednesday nights. People tell me how nice it is that I work with these people. Altruism aside, I really do it because it's tremendous fun and I get to see the friends I've made over the years, as well as people in my community that need some help.

Some habitually come; others look to it as a last resort. Sometimes the pain on the faces of the families (especially children aware that they are actually in line at the food bank) can be a little dispiriting. But still, we try to make it a fun event and usually laugh and joke with many of the families in need.

Most are grateful that we are there to help them, and I am grateful to be able to serve them. We are lucky to have these wonderful resources and people in a town like Bellingham.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


What began as a festive evening with the International Peace Day Celebration in Bellingham turned into a late night of celebration with friends and wonderful people. Night turned to dawn and our collective reluctance to end a spectacular day. As ususal, I was the sober one driving - back up Chuckanut Drive as the ripe full moon was setting in the northwestern sky.

I guess one way to avoid getting stressed out about having to wake up horribly early is to not go to bed. Oddly enough, I find that going a night without slumber can be refreshing and I've done it numerous times at the helm of a sailboat or behind the desk in Corporate America.

So I sit here waiting for a conference call to begin as I type a few words onto this web log on a sunny, crisp, Bellingham morning.

Monday, September 20, 2010

International Peace Day Jam in Bellingham

I have been helping a little with this event tomorrow - the International Peace Day Jam in Bellingham. I was told that the Taliban actually laid down there arms for a cease fire during one of the Peace Days past. Imagine the possibilities.

Hope to see you there. Either my housemate or I will probably be the ones collecting your ten bucks.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

International Peace Day Jam in Bellingham

International Peace Day Jam in Bellingham

Tuesday September Twenty-First

Melody Hall

4071 Home Road

Six O’Clock PM $10

Bellingham, Washington, United States of America

Great bands, raw foods, inspirational speakers, earth friendly vendors, fun for all ages, & much more.

Bands Include Yogoman Burning Band, Misty Flowers & Jan Peters, Damon Dimitri Jones, Rock Solomon, Shanty Town, The Productionists, JD and the Blackouts, & Ashley Douglas.

Let's create a world of peace together, one community at a time, starting here in Bellingham.

Check the event out at $10 admission. Children under 10 free.

Celebrate peace in our lifetime by coming to this fantastic event and committing to living a life of peace from this day forward.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


What I find surprising in Bellingham is the number of people I know that do not hold regular nine-to-five jobs. I can only think of a few, but mostly people are in business for themselves (and we all know the amount of free time that that offers) , so frequently one needs to question what day it is. And considering that time and punctuality seems to not be of the essence, time is a rather nebulous concept in this town.

But the Grateful Dead Hour just finished on KUGS on a cloudy morning with some sun peeking through, so as I sit here sipping my wonderful coffee, I figure that it must be Saturday. I think when time passes in segments of weeks (like I lived in past lives), it seems to be much more compartmentalized and move by so much more quickly. Conversely, living each day on an ever-changing schedule forces one to live in the moment, verus my office days of being on auto-pilot and following the same regimen week after week after week.

People have always told me that as one gets older, time moves by more quickly. I dunno. Living in Bellingham, time has assumed an expanded dimension and seems to crawl by. Maybe I am just more cognizant of time and its preciousness. When I was younger, I used to look ahead for the next big thing and literally wished my life away; by living in the present, I appreciate what I have and my current fulfilled needs, versus my wants, which always will perpetually loom ahead of me. The Now is good. And that's alright by me.

Time to get ready for a noon meeting.

Friday, September 17, 2010


I often was amazed at how quickly a catastrophic disaster like the gulf oil spill could be so quickly swept under the carpet, and suddenly life is back to normal in the coastal parishes of Louisiana. Unfortunately, one needs to dig to find the local or non-MSM that is reporting on the ecological horrors in the gulf. Maybe I'm just your typical socialist tree-hugger, but somehow I do not trust our government, which is basically being fed BP's manipulative PR fluff.

Our government has failed us, our corporate anarchy has failed us, and the price that our planet pays is unfortunately less important than the quarterly earnings of rogue companies like British Petroleum. I wonder if history will someday show reprehensible actions such as those of BP to be the catalyst in the decline of our ecological and socio-economic existence in which profits trump absolutely everything, including the survivability of future generations.

And just like night I heard on the CBC about the increasing numbers of deformed fish being found downstream from the Athabasca oil sands processing. (Why is this news? I read about this years ago.)

I wonder what the true price is that we pay for a barrel of oil?

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Here is the sweetest animal on the planet. Apologies to the other dogs that I loved as much, there are none any sweeter than this one. And today she let me pick her up. Evidently this is something that is rarely done. Oh well, simple things. Today she visited the neighbor's American Lab for a few hours to do some networking.

Now she lies on the floor lovin' life. I think I will try to emulate this fulfilled little creature more in the following days, and maybe the rest of my life.

Back to an email, then practice a very sedentary activity like pet the dog and watch a borrowed movie.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tale of Two Cities

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
- Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

The video above is from the Bellingham State of Mind on You Tube.

A seasonal trend seems to happen in Bellingham. Every year, with summer on the wane and winter coming on, the notion of eight more months of clouds and drizzle can be a bit foreboding. Although many people move to Bellingham, many others seem to leave for sunnier climes.

Two close friends are probably leaving - one for the southwest, and the other for the dry side of the state. Both need a bit more sun in their lives. And considering that this was an abbreviated summer, the onset of clouds and rain in early September can be a bit disheartening.

But on the other hand, I prepare to hunker down for a winter in Bellingham in my cozy home. The winter weather does not seem to bother most people in Bellingham. Or so they say.

Time to get out the rain gear for cycling and line up my winter indoor projects. My rolling five year plan is to remain here. With every passing day, I grow more and more fond of this town. I do wish my good friends godspeed in their endeavours. At least I have a sunny place to escape to in the deep throes of a Bellingham winter.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Some days I just have nothing to say or write. Today is one such day. Through the course of the day I thikn about the good things and bad things that I'd like to discuss here, but when the time comes, I am usually at a loss for words.

Let's see, among recent things I thought I'd praise or bitch about:
  • Whether working at a mall on the West Coast (as some friends do) is indeed like the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High. (So Bellis Fair isn't 1980s California, I was told.) So since this movie was one of my youthful elements of intrigue of what this side of the country was like...oh well.
  • How can I learn to adapt to this timetable in Bellingham (even though I've been here four-plus years) and not get all uptight when business meetings that are supposed to start at 9am see people saunter in around 9:10 or later and the meeting never gets rolling until 10 or so. (I am learning to let it go, not wear a watch, and get into the Bellingham state of mind. I moved to a laid back town, so I need to understand that a lifestyle such as this encompasses everything, including business and play. I need to relax a bit more.)
  • The fact that a hefty percentage of American still rally around the preserving tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, even the the present concentration of wealth is historically unequaled in our current society. Something like the top 10% of Americans control 90%-plus of the wealth and yet we still feel that this upper crust is entitled to retain even more.
But there is work to be done this morning, and I need to get ready for a 10:00 meeting. I realize that I shouldn't really care about being punctual in this town, but somehow I cannot eschew that habit of punctuality that I developed living a few decades in Pennsylvania. Some day, hopefully.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Here is a picture of Whatcom Creek near my house.

I awoke to rain this morning in Bellingham, and I am okay with fall arriving early. Usually September is sunny and cool, and the kids are all back in school with the Western students filtering back. September is a transition month and creates for a pleasant vibe around Bellingham. It will be early to get the rain gear out for biking and yard work, or things like letting the chickens out (like this morning).

A day to return to SeaTac, but at least it will be in the evening and hopefully I will not experience the wrath of I-% congestion like I did last Friday. Ugh. Driving through Seattle can either be so enjoyable or so exasperating, and it is usually a toss-up - especially on a Thursday afternoon during rush hour.

But time to run out to Sudden Valley for a picnic in the rain at an old friend's place. Well old for me and my presence in Bellingham, which spans just over four years. One last note: I was always amazed how there was no discomfort in not being from Bellingham. Other places I lived or visited (like Tahoe or Boulder), people always used to brag about being "a local" and what that entailed and how long you needed to live there to be considered one of them. I have never used the term thrown about in Bellingham and am amazed how welcoming the community was to a newcomer like myself in spite of the fact that I was one of the culprits driving their home prices through the roof. The locals [sic] made it very easy for me to call Bellingham home.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


So the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will exceed one trillion dollars by the end of this year. As we were sailing this weekend experiencing our country's decrepit ferry system (versus the sleek Canadian ferries) and other decaying infrastructure, one wonders how much benefit our country could have gained instad of sinking billions into its follies in Iraq (considered a draw, at best) or Afghanistan (probably a loss but time will tell; the fact the there are an estimated 300 al Qaeda in Afghanistan and we continue to spend billions hunting down these 300 while getting caught in the midst of a civil war that's been going on for hundreds of years, but that's another rant).

Our country is broke, and in sharp decline socioeconomically, yet no one wants to address the horribly wasteful (albeit highly lucrative) war industry. I am sure that some day historians will view the military overstretch supporting corporate interests (my estimate of the true reason we are in Afghanistan - here is a ten year old article I recall reading many years back).

At least the Romans were collecting taxes on their territories; instead the US military is predominantly supporting corporate interests to enter markets or extract resources from these underdeveloped nation-states. I wonder how long this crony-capitalist model can be sustained?

On the anniversary of our government's latest false flag, I reminisce on all that's happened in the nine years since. I also think about the girl that I dated in high school that was on the first plane. Or the other friends of friends that also perished. But I guess a million Iraqi lives are a fair trade for the three thousand or so people killed on American soil (not all were Americans). It's just too bad that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.

Many thoughts percolating here on a Saturday morning. Time to get ready for a ten o'clock meeting.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Bailey, Banks and Piddle

A drive to Sea-Tac today reminds me of how much I do not miss driving. Or being thrust into environments with way too many people in way too much of a hurry. I dropped off my housemate and her mom at the airport, so it looks like me and Bailey will be hanging out this weekend.

And my piece of paper containing my schedule (my 'blackberry') is filling up with scribbled times and places to be - from work to play and a volunteering stint at The Pickford in between. And fortunately a small house requires dramatically less resources to maintain it.

Not much more to say, other than an interesting e-mail I receive today. This one especially struck a nerve:

These bankers have collectively printed trillions of currency units, purchased unprecedented amounts of government debt, given handouts to commercial banks, slashed interest rates to record lows, and taken risky assets onto their ever-expanding balance sheets.

And how have these historic efforts fared? Poorly. Aside from a few outliers, economic data in the developed world is anemic at best. There has been little recovery in the jobs and housing markets, and the debt crises have grown worse.

Look, I’ll be the first to tell you that there are great opportunities and good news stories around the world; unfortunately, millions of people are having their lives and livelihoods turned upside down whilst Bernanke and his friends toasted themselves to expensive champagne at a luxury resort.


A wonderful weekend and back in Bellingham. A full plate is in front of me with regards to my client base. It cost over four years and many sleepless nights, a marriage and a tumultuous emotional roller coaster ride - a visage of hope looms on the horizon along multiple facets, meaning busyness and business (having typed both words - misspelling the first as the second - I figured why not include both).

The picture above is from the deck of my wonderful friend's boat from this weekend. I am so lucky that my housemate brought a camera and knew how to use it.

I wish I had more to say. But it is pushing 12:30am, and I have come to enjoy eight hours of sleep in this moist little seaside town. And with fall and winter on the run, I will strive for even more sleep. We are mammals, and most of the ones I observe seem to be much less active in the winter. I will follow their habits.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Three days of sailing the Puget Sound was relaxing and just what I needed The weather wasn't the best, but not setting foot on shore aboard a world-class sailing yacht was second to none. The weather was wet and chilly, but it dampened the spirits of no one aboard.

It was a bit unnerving navigating a ship through the precarious channels between the 150-plus islands of the San Juans. Some of the passages were no more than fifty yards across, and I was navigating strictly by software - a GPS system linked to his laptop using this software. I think the captain was impressed at my ability to navigate through these precarious channels; and I was very impressed with the ability for a GPS and computer to get me safely back to Deer Harbor using the (Coastal Explorer) software. . I can only imagine what navigating the San Juans was like in the days of charts and dead reckoning.

And the coming up Cattle Pass in an ebb tide was a challenge unto itself. Five knots against the tide still showed us losing ground.

Exhausted we returned on the noon ferry to Anacortes and then back to Bellingham to an early fall. It is so nice to have this miraculous playground in my backyard, and I am lucky to have friends with swank boats that trust my sailing skills. Life is good.

Friday, September 3, 2010


KATIE GREENE | THE BELLINGHAM HERALD - Maren Anderson, left, of Olympia, watches as Raquel Ruiz Diaz, of Lummi Island, puts more ice over the day's sockeye catch Monday, Aug. 30, off the shore of Lummi Island. Reefnet fishing, which is a stationary fishing practice that depends on the water's conditions, is a Lummi Island tradition. "(Reefnet fishing) is the best kind of fishing because the fish come to us," Anderson said.

Surprisingly, this year has seen a huge run of sockeyes, and I remember last year hearing on the CBC about the abysmal runs on the Fraser River - to the point where there were altercations involving shootings and such between the First Nation and commercial fishermen. Oh, those violent Canadians.

But this year is different, and there has been a murmur out and about regarding this year's bounty. Geeze, when I went out on a gillnetter a few years back, I shared the boat with some burly seaworn guys, not the hotties in this picture. Maybe it had something to do with the chum salmon versus the sockeyes? Wrong season?

At any rate, winding the week down to take a trip over to Orcas Island tomorrow to see all the amped-up Seattleites trying to unwind. Fortunately the Bellingham groove is only a few notches above relaxed, so I won't have too far to go.

Probably no posts until Tuesday.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Sometimes when I have had a tumultuous day (not always in a bad way), it's good to have an old friend to go back to. Mine has a tendency to be a corner of a coffee shop where I can listen to an old Grateful Dead bootleg and reflect upon the self-induced risks I bestow upon myself.

I think I am what they call an entrepreneur and will not give up until I succeed. Today was a big step closer to either success or insanity - I know not which one. I was told by a colleague that the average person fails twelve times before they succeed in their start-up. Sounds about right.

At any rate, a weekend without electronics is planned plying the San Juans aboard my friend's boat. I believe tomorrow is Friday, so that leaves a Saturday through Tuesday sail to catch up and slow down. I am sure that you will see some pictures. And the weather is supposed to be spectacular too.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


One of the rewards of working long hours into the evening is the ability to take a few hours mid-afternoon out of a crummy day to enjoy the wonderful weather and go for a bike ride. A few hours in the saddle blowing off steam is one of the things that always keeps me sane. And so the payback is sitting at my laptop tonight trying to finish some things up. Actually, the week is sort of dead with the holiday coming up, so there is a temporary reprieve of business in my world.

Nothing more. Pouring rain yesterday, which we really needed. Today, sun and beauty. Ry Cooder on the stereo right now, and a sleeping dog at my feet.

The picture was taken of Mt. Baker on Sunday.