Sunday, October 31, 2010


I have grown weary of writing and do not know that the frequency of my posts here will equal what I've produced in the past. I am working an 8-5 job right now, which is a pleasant change to the chaos and irregularities of working a a consultant. Freedom of consulting comes at a very high price.

So when I get home from the office, I once again cherish the freedoms of simple things like reading, walking the dog, playing guitar, writing, visiting friends (like I spent today doing) or anything except more work on a computer. So maybe I will again pick up the proverbial pencil once my schedule becomes more regimented and I grow into this cycle of regularity. Right now, I enjoy the comfort of an anticipated regular paycheck, a higher stature of professionalism, and health care with a $25 co-pay versus a $5,000 deductible (I am lucky - most freelancers have no health care coverage, at least in the U.S.) I breath a sigh of relief.

A late night at the Wild Buffalo last night (well until the drunken fools were unleashed on the streets after the bars closed - alcohol makes people really ugly, which is why I am glad my drinking days are long behind me), a great day with a morning of attending the BUF, and a day on Chuckanut Bay with a wonderful friend. Time to read and shortly sleep thereafter.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Here's another picture coming across US2 on our way back fro Cle Elum a few weeks back. Such a beautiful journey over the Cascades, and much has happened in the short while since my trip back. Most importantly, I think that I may take a steady full-time job and cast my freedom to the wind. Back to the comfort of an office, benefits and a regular paycheck. Although I had the opportunity of working with some wonderful people in my consulting days, I also had the misfortune of working with my share of shady characters - more times than not.

So yes, I am burned out. And extremely refreshed (and grateful) to get back into a normal regimen of working with a local company employing my skills and being compensated for a fair wage. It also means getting up with - or actually before - the chickens and starting my day with a refreshing thirteen minute walk to the office downtown.

and some god friends from Cincinnati are moving out to Yakima, so there may be a trip or two out there in the next year. But now it's now ten o'clock and time to get ready for sleep.

Friday, October 22, 2010


Today was a day of winding down a few items in my life. I do not know what I did, but it did involve buying a pumpkin, visiting friends, moving furniture, cooking, visiting the myriad grocers in Bellingham. Although I only shop there occasionally, my favorite produce stand is Youngstocks just a stones throw away from my house. Unfortunately, it closes in a few weeks. I remember buying a full week's worth of produce there for under fifteem bucks. Cross the street to Trader Joe's and you are inundated with excessively packaged food that seems much less fresh.

But for what it's worth, Trader Joes does give a lot to the food bank. At least on the produce side. And come to think of it, on the canned and other packaged stuff too.

That's about it tonight. Running over to see a friend on the Lettered Streets.

I wish I had more to say, but my thoughts are limited.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


"In the field opportunity, it's plowing time again."
-Neil Young

I have been working as a freelance consultant for a long time. I have worked with stellar companies that have been models of how businesses in my idyllic world view should function; and I have worked with nont-so-stellar clients.

Some days, in the midst of a quasi-meltdown, I peruse the job listings online ans occasionally submit a resume. Not really because I like the job prospect, but because I dislike the the increasing frustration of consulting. This week was different - in the midst of my mental strife, I was reading the listings and I swear at the bottom of the page it said "This job is specifically for you, Jeff." And the fact that the company is local (yay!) and located in town (a ten minute walk) versus some generic office park in the outskirts of town is also quite palatable. I submitted my resume and today I interview.

So I hope the rota fortunae turns favorably and that an opportunity in line with my evolving career path can truly put me exactly where I want and need to be - in Bellingham, Washington.

A chilly morning here in Bellingham with the sun still present and winter on the run.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Price

Here is a picture taken last week coming across State Route 20 - a beautiful drive that brought me back to the rigors of making a living in Bellingham. As fabulous as Bellingham is as a place to live, making a living in this town - especially as a consultant - with a tenuous economic base is a constant challenge.

Sometimes I view the home ownership route as a burden and I daydream sometimes about what my Plan B would be if I didn't have the weight and responsibility of a home. (Memories come back of days renting in Lake Tahoe spent mountain biking and skiing while my landlord schlepped lumber up and down the hundred steps in his constant upkeep of the property.) But home or no home, I hope to hang my hat here in town for a while in hopes that one of my business efforts comes to fruition and maybe I can afford to settle into a comfortable Bellingham lifestyle. Although this quality of life is second to none, it does not come without a price.

But for now, it's back to the salt mines.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Ya know, I realize I should vote. But this year the one candidate I wanted to vote for, Craig Mayberry, was in a prior election that evidently I missed. Oops. I would love to see a second party on the ballot, versus the Democrat/Republican, business-as-usual blather.

First, I hear the parties talk about change. Don't we see change every 4-8 years from one party to the other, while our country continues its alacritous decline? Our social fabric continues to deteriorate, the wealth distribution continues to concentrate in the wealthiest Americans, and no one really seems to address these pertinent issues. Or do the politicians even care? And we - the jackass Americans - are too shortsoghted to remember who we voted out of office just a few years ago in utter contempt and disgust, only to vote them back in again? We as a country deserve exactly what we get.

My vote was to toss the ballot into the recycle bin.

But I really didn't mean to go off on a rant about our derelict political system. It was a beautiful day hike we took up to Blanchard Mountain, replete with phone calls to the home front. As tumultuous and uncertain my future can feel at certain times regarding my business endeavors, I am fortunate that I have family members that can nurture me and keep my sane. And for that I am grateful.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Red Elk

This week we drove out to see Red Elk, Medicine Man out in Cle Elum. When you are in the presence of a very powerful individual, you can sometimes feel intimidated. But Red Elk quickly made one feel at home and opened up his cozy little "gnome domes" as accommodations. The air grew quite chilly at night, although the abundance of stars made for a beautiful evening of learning about Red Elk and his ways.

I also became closer with some of the wonderful traveling partners whose paths I've been fortunate to cross in this hectic world that help me to slow down and understand the day-to-day appreciation I have in this worldly journey versus reaching any destination. I am blessed to live this dynamic life and look forward to many more days filled with meeting exciting people like Red Elk.

There was much filming going on too, so I am sure you will see some links in the near future of the work that was done. But not by me. I just sat and listened and tacitly honored Red Elk and gleaned the wisdom he offered. Although I cannot say so with certainty right now, I will look back upon this visit as being a significant milestone on my life's path.

Monday, October 11, 2010


I think I am getting older. I feel like Bilbo Baggins sometimes where I like my little hamlet here in Bellingham. I like my laid back life of my daily routine, which is somewhat regimented and although filled with beauty, not really the most exciting life.

But sometimes I get caught up in these crazy experiences that take me to interesting places in the Pacific Northwest and I am sure that more are to follow. Som e of my past antics include offshore cruising, salmon fishing on a 40-foot gillnetter, hiking and camping the Cascades, and cycling and motorbiking around the wonderful beauty of the mountains and sea.

But today I sit here trying to get the week going. Working on a few projects that will probably carry me into the evening.

Tomorrow I drive to Cle Elum to visit a friend of a friend who is a medicine man. I think being in his presence will be remarkable and I hope that I can garner some insight and wisdom from him. The picture above is from his web log and I think it may be where I am sleeping the next few nights when I visit. Now to figure out the logistics of getting there...

Friday, October 8, 2010


Western Washington University student Sara Allen marches with fellow students through campus after a rally to protest school budget cuts Oct. 7, 2010. The WWU board of trustees will be voting on budget cuts Friday. Philip A. Dwyer | The Bellingham Herald

Some days I think of what I will write. Other days, random thoughts pop into my head. Today's topic was the latter, although I've contemplated it for quite some time.

It involves higher education, and how the present model in this country is entirely unsustainable. Consider it another victim of easy credit. For years, lax lending, subsidized and guaranteed by our government (not entirely a bad thing), has contributed to a bubble - by any measurement or definition - of our higher education system. And for many years, colleges have enjoyed a robust capitalization that allows them to build gymnasiums, add headcount, and many other things that will soon fall by the wayside.

From a recent article: A Money magazine report notes: "After adjusting for financial aid, the amount families pay for college has skyrocketed 439 percent since 1982. ... Normal supply and demand can't begin to explain cost increases of this magnitude."

Once a highly lucrative industry, its gravy train days are over. Its model is overpriced relative to what the market can bear, especially after increased privatization of the student loan industry in which lenders have tightened credit while increasing the cost of capital.

Hundreds of schools (like our beloved Western) will see significant downsizings as demographics and other market conditions warrant a significant decrease in the number of colleges. Just another rosy economic catastrophe looming on the horizon. These poor kids' march is unfortunately futile and a bellwether of what's to come.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


It is interesting how there are two types of information out there. The first is the government and main stream media, while the second it the alternative press (to other 90% of content out there).

One shocking item that I have been following is the imminent collapse of the Commercial Real Estate (CRE) market. Maybe not imminent, but over the course of the next two or three years we will see the disentanglement of the CRE debt coming due, similar to the housing market. Meanwhile, the MSM (the mouthpiece of Corporate America) indicates that the CRE market has bottomed out and better days lie ahead. What garbage.

Doesn't the MSM have some obligation to present fairly and accurately what is going on in this country? Or is the Average American just too stupid to learn anything more than is spoon fed to them through the television? Unfortunately, the latter is the case.

I wonder if you and I - the taxpayer - will again be forced to subsidize the elite top 5% of wage earners in this country, while the rest of our socioeconomic foundation continues to crumble? Or the rest of the banking staff, for that matter, gets paid paltry wages?

Maybe I need to watch more CNN or FOX, where things seem a lot rosier. Unfortunately, I do not have access to these channels. And the thing that I find interesting in Bellingham is that none of my contemporaries watch television either or have cable. Maybe that's why my evenings instead are spent drinking tea and engaging in conversation, versus sedentarily staring at a box spewing bile.

Oops, sorry about the rant. Indeed it is a good day; one of the books that I reserved (akin to my above tirade) is on hold over at the library. Yves Smith write this blog, which I've set as my home page. Interesting read, I'd expect.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Sometimes life throws some interesting curves at you. My story involves an act of spontaneity in offering a friend of a friend to stay here who is on holiday from Switzerland. I am glad the guest room gets used in our tiny 1,000sf house. Next week involves a trip down to Cle Elum to visit a medicine man. What a wonderfully fulfilling life full of interesting people and interesting stories.

I am sure that you will hear more.

The picture above was from the sailboat I helped move last weekend. Actually, I did very little but tell stories and meet some cool fellow Bellinghamsters. If my rota fortuna spins favorably, there may too be more adventures aboard this little O'Day 19 next year.

Time to fend off a cold. Every seems to be sick. {sniffle}

Monday, October 4, 2010


An interesting story caught my eye in this morning's New York Times. It discusses how large corporations take advantage of the Federal Reserve's ridiculously low rates to borrow money and then sit out in, instead of using it to grow business. This is not big surprise, as large businesses have over the past decades been trimming payrolls and streamlining operations in the name of "productivity."

Meanwhile, these perks (ie, low interest rates) are virtually unavailable to the small business owner (these are the ones creating jobs) as the lending climate (here in Bellingham at least, and I am sure I speak for this whole nation) is dead for the small business. This is a classic case of crony capitalism (the corporations, who control the policy making of the government, dictate the playing field to their benefit.)

I read how the number of jobs shed by the companies representing the S&P500 (approximately 19m by this article's assessment) were barely outpaced by the jobs created by small business (roughly 20m). I read these statistics back in 2008, so I am sure that things have only bode worse for the small- to mid-sized business. As the sole party in this country (the democrat and republican parties are indistinguishable from one another) continues to eschew the needs of this country's economic base, things looks grim.

But on a brighter note here from the city of subdued excitement, a long weekend of fun on water-related activities. Moving a sailboat on Saturday (yeah, it was trailered, but still fun hanging out on the docks in the boatyards) and then kayaking on Sunday down in Chuckanut Bay over to Dot Island for a picnic lunch. Yeah, this country may be going to hell in a hand basket, but I am forever grateful to be in wonderful town like Bellingham.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


This has been a tragic week in Bellingham. While there are usually few ripples of discontent (well other than the chronically woeful economy and wages, at which we all seem to accept, chide or chuckle), this week brought to tragic events.

The first was the accident a few blocks from my house where a child was struck and killed; the second is the disappearance of Dwight Clark, an 18-year-old Western student. I was at Uisce's last night after the Art Walk with some friends, and on the way home saw a slew of people on the street handing out fliers in hopes of finding this young person - another at such an early age. The Red Cross even had a vehicles on Magnolia and Railroad serving sustenance to the numerous volunteers.

In a town with virtually no murders, gang activity, hard drugs or serious crime, two events like this in one week cast a pall over this placid little town on the Puget Sound.

But the evening ended well with a veggie hot dog at El Capitán's downtown on Railroad, replete with relish, spicy mustard and sauerkraut. When a friend (who's since moved way out to the county) and I used to ply the downtown night spots, we would usually end the evening with the yummy vittles of El Capitán's. Arrrrgh.

Off to Fairhaven this cloudy (foggy?) morning to help a friend on her boat. Looks like the clouds are burning off at 10:45 on a Saturday morning.

Friday, October 1, 2010


Three blocks from my house were a bunch of flowers - sort of a shrine - on the sidewalk at the corner of Cornwall and Virginia. I knew these could not be for good reason. They never are. I continued on my motorbike ride and ended at a friend's house. It was there that I found out that a Bellingham High School student rear-ended another car and pushed the stopped car into the crosswalk where a woman was walking here toddler. How shocking and sad to hear of this news.

It happened yesterday, and I can only imagine the trauma felt by all parties, and the town of Bellingham as a whole. Life is so fragile. We all experience sadness at one point or another in our life, and this reminds me to be grateful for the beauty of life, as any day can wreak misfortune and pain.

As I finish typing this, I was interrupted by some friends unexpectedly dropping by. It's always nice to have my day broken up by this. Although the world has its tragedies, there are always the happy moments to cherish too.