Friday, February 16, 2018

My photo included in Earth Magazine of environmental science



Photo I took at the 100th Meridian in South Dakota has been included in an article in the February edition of Earth Magazine. Article is about the 100th Meridian being thought of as a line of demarcation between the humid east and the dryer inland west of the United States. Interesting history from reading that article. Now days, it looks like the dryer regions are expanding to the east so possibly the 98th Meridian is more the dividing line due to climate change.

Photo was taken during my 1991 bicycle trip across USA. My first cross USA bicycle trip. I have a large collection of photos that are posted on Flickr. They are donated to Creative Commons License. Various publications will occasionally use photos and possibly ideas from me. This spreads my legacy farther than just my own web site or Facebook page. My major, in college, was geography so this is kind of fitting.

Below graphic from linking to that article from my Facebook Wall.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Should compost able plastic cups go into plastic recycling? The answer is NO.

Working as a custodian, here's something I wondered about so I did a Google search. Here's one of the articles I found.

Apparently, it is better to put them in the regular trash if there isn't a green compost bin. Recycled plastic goes into making new plastic, or building materials such as Trex decking. The compost able cups are made from a different material that contaminates the plastic recycling process. Best to put composting cups into the compost able bin with food scraps, but if such a bin is not available, I guess the regular trash. Lots of people wouldn't know this.

Learning to be good at the game of creating a more usable waste stream. Intentional living. Here is a set of bins at Bellingham Food Coop with examples of what should go where. Still, the compost plastic is not mentioned. Here, it would go into the compost bin along with the fork and spoon which, in this case, are made from a special kind of cornstarch that can be composted. Most plastic utensils are not for compost. Many recycling stations don't have a compost bin. They only have recycling or trash. In that case, I would guess the compost plastic is better in the trash.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Call Me By Your Name film sticks it to up tightness in society

Many friends of mine have been talking about this film. Tho I seldom go to the movies, I wanted to see this. Very good and thought provoking.

Spoiler alert. It's the story of a love affair between an American professor, visiting Italy, and the 17 year old son of the host family that the professor was staying with.

In some ways, it seems like this film is giving the finger to up tightness in our culture as the thought of falling in love with a teenager is frowned upon. However Call Me By Your Name is well on the road to receiving Oscars and is much acclaimed. It was my first time seeing a film at Bellingham's giant Barkley Cinema multiplex.

In the end, the professor heads back to America. It's a bit sad as the 17 year old son will miss him. A memorable part, to me, is the attitude of acceptance that the father, in that Italian family, showed during a father to son talk. He said, to the son, that the love experience the son had just been through was very special. Something many people would never experience. To be cherished.

I contrasted that attitude to someone feeling the son had been manipulated or molested. Different than someone calling the police.

There was lots of nice scenery in the film, not just the actors, but the landscape of the Italian village. A different value and pace of life than sterile productivity, I guess.

Some people comment as to whether there will be a sequel so the story can continue, or take a new turn. Who knows, but my imagination makes one up.

At the end of this film, the professor calls to report that he is getting married to a woman back home in USA. The son misses the professor, but the family congratulates him. In my sequel, they come together again and form a threesome including the professor, the Italian boy and the professor's new wife. I can see that freaking some people out, but it could be a nice continuation.

Trailer.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

In the competitive market of romance, even someone with the stature of an Elon Musk might not have all the right stuff

Human romance can be tricky. Even such a successful and highly regarded person, such as Elon Musk, has trouble finding the right mate. In this long and detailed interview in Rolling Stone (that I admit I haven't read all the way to the end) are some telling things about Musk's personal life.

From article, in one part, Musk discusses the breakup for a few more minutes, then asks, earnestly, deadpan, "Is there anybody you think I should date? It's so hard for me to even meet people." He swallows and clarifies, stammering softly, "I'm looking for a long-term relationship. I'm not looking for a one-night stand. I'm looking for a serious companion or soulmate, that kind of thing."

In another part, The New York Times has called Musk "arguably the most successful and important entrepreneur in the world."

I found this Rolling Stone article from another shorter piece that came up in Yahoo News from Business Insider.

Personally, I sometimes think society's vision of success is a prerequisite to the competitive world of romance, but this is not necessarily so. Success in one area doesn't necessarily imply it in another.

Being a workaholic can distract from human connection, of course.

Also, on a personal note, I must admit that I don't feel lonely most of the time. I'm not in a relationship and I seem to like living by myself. For me, connection to other people is still important tho. Connection to the broader community. This includes my erotic feelings as well which is another whole story. Similar issues apply whether one is talking about straight relationships or gay relationships.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

The federal debt may not be that much of a problem

Looks like Congress may finally be able to pass a budget deal that lasts more than a few minutes (I mean weeks). This time, pushing the snooze button on "debt ceiling alarm clock" might have more sticking power. That alarm was a bit annoying and actually made things worse; like tossing sand in the gears. This deal might give everyone some candy at least. Tax cuts, more spending for the military, Medicare and so forth. It's easier to get agreement when one can provide, rather than take stuff away from people; especially when many of the needs are real. We can just add to the long term deficit which, so far, seems to only cause minor consequences. I guess Federal Reserve can print money to cover, if need be. Inflation is a consequence, but overall inflation has been low for a long time. In certain metro areas, housing inflation has been strong and that can spread to other parts of economy as wages go up, though.

People worry about future generations being buried in debt, but future generations will do just fine. If inflation is a problem, they can just move the decimal point over in their money. The dime can become the new penny. Maybe even the dollar will become the new penny. Future generations can start from there and will not likely know the difference.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Low interest rates enabled some bad policy during Bush JR term as well

Hannity blaming everything on Obama. The cheap money of super low interest rates are a problem, but this was happening for the Bush Administration also.

Federal Reserve policy, about the money supply, is pretty much independent of the president. Low interest rates have persisted, mostly to try and push up employment. Maybe shorter workweek and somewhat more modest expectations are better? It's America's addiction to money. Wealth is good, but so is balance. Cheap money has pushed up house values and the cost of living. It's enabled government spending making it easier for whoever is president. This isn't necessarily all bad, but can be problematic. Now, the prospect of wider spread inflation is knocking at the door.

Stock market takes a hit. Blue region economies don't need red region strategy of stimulus. Parts of economy may already be overheated.

Stock market drop, February 5 2018. Trump and Republicans loose a talking point.

There's lots of different opinions as to why the market is dropping. I've got my take also.

People say the market is nervous about the threat of inflation. Inflation could mean interest rates would need to go up to curb inflation and that is often depressing news for stocks.

Yes, inflation is becoming more widespread, but us in "blue state," or more accurately "blue cities" America have known about inflation for a long time. Housing costs have been soaring in many of our metro areas. This creates pressure to raise wages; such as here in Washington State where minimum wage is now up to $11.50 per hour. After all, workers do need to be able to afford to live. What a concept. This does, however spread inflation farther. The cost of a burger and fries will go up as the employees, who serve it, get paid more. Maybe their wages will start to catch up with the cost of housing, healthcare and even college. It's like "what goes around, comes around." The blue cities have been dealing with inflation and prosperity for years.

Red State America is where most of the politicians come from and, for the most part, they don't even care or listen to what's happening in blue state America. The economy tends to be more stagnate in red regions so they still think we need to stimulate the economy. They push tax cuts.

Well, now we're dumping money into the private sector with tax cuts, but for the most part the economy is already booming. It's booming in the blue metros at least. Unemployment is down. Is this the time to be doing stimulus? Maybe not. Too much stimulus is inflationary.

Now investors have two big worries. Growing federal debt and an overheated inflationary economy. Interest rate hikes may be needed to keep a lid on things.

Liberals talk about stimulus also, but they usually talk about government spending on infrastructure for stimulus. When the economy gets rolling, then even writers, like Paul Krugman, do talk about cutting back on the stimulus.

I hate to oversimplify by saying liberals think this and red state people think that so bear with me. I know it's more complex, but this is a Facebook post (I first posted this on Facebook). How many bites do I have left?

Even though the economy is starting to boom and unemployment tends to be low, there is still trouble leading people to keep wanting stimulus. Stimulus like tax cuts or more government spending. It's sort of like we are an addict needing yet another "money fix." Reason for this problem is that even during prosperous times, many people can barely make ends meet. The income gap is leaving lots of folks behind in the dust of prosperity. In blue states, we tend to realize that inequality is a big problem. We need more than just prosperity, we need a more sustainable and fairer economy. In some cases maybe even more taxes for things like affordable housing and healthcare. A more balanced deal.

Friday, February 02, 2018

My first time at Lincoln Theater in Mount Vernon



Outside the Lincoln Theater in Mount Vernon. Autumn 2015 during one of my bike trips in the area.

First time I was inside Lincoln was November 2017 for the Betty Desire Coming Home Show when friends brought me to the show by car. One of our group got this image. I'm third person from the left. Memories from a few months back.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

But few people really understand what clean coal would be

In Trump's first state of the union speech he mentioned "clean coal." I got to thinking that very few people know what clean coal is. Practically no one, on the big national stage including Trump himself, explains clean coal. There is such a concept, but whether clean coal is economically viable, or not, is a very good question. Clean coal may still not compete with solar energy. In other words, solar might be lots better.

Clean coal basically means sequestering the carbon dioxide back in the ground, rather than having it go into the atmosphere. It means still using coal, but capturing the carbon dioxide from the flu gases and figuring out how to stash it away without it going into the atmosphere to cause global warming. An expensive prospect, but I think there's people in the energy industry, doing research on this.

Of course, there are still lots of people who don't believe global warming is happening anyway so that taints Republican ideas for sure.

If clean coal were to work, we could still use our vast coal deposits for energy, rather than having them turn into what's often called "stranded assets." Stranded assets are deposits that the energy companies own that they can't use. It's something lots of big companies would like to do as they have lots of coal and oil deposits on the books.

Still, it's more expensive than just letting the carbon pollute our atmosphere. It may even be more expensive than just developing solar power.

People are easily confused because true clean coal would do the difficult job of sequestering the carbon, but there's other types of coal power that are often called clean coal. Those types of power just scrub the dirty particulate matter out of the flu gas; the dust, and stuff that cause health hazard. That's fairly easy to do and is often called clean coal, but it doesn't take out the carbon dioxide, which is the greenhouse gas. Carbon dioxide isn't poisonous to us and it's invisible. We can't smell it, but it causes global warming. Just taking out the particulate pollution is not really clean in terms of global warming.

Trump's speach pulls at heartstrings, but are the policies good?

Listened, on radio to Trump's state of the union message. He and his handlers, do know how to tug at the heart strings. Common for that type of speech. The way North Koreans treated that student who they detained and who later died was despicable. His parents in the chamber. Can bring tears to my eyes.

I'm sure there's plenty to criticize about the policies. I'll await various pundits discussing on tomorrow's NPR shows such as The1A and On Point.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Brain drain worry. Keeping up with peer institutions make college less affordable.

My earlier post is about memories of an era when college was more affordable.

Many people are wondering what happened. Why is college so much more expensive these days? Lots of theories, I guess.

I think a big part of the problem is another manifestation of growing income disparity. So many jobs that are low wage compared to the higher paid professional jobs. I remember a period, in the 1980s and 1990s, when there was quite a bit of worry that faculty pay at universities was falling behind pay in other states and other types of business. There were attempts to boost pay scales for the sake of talent retention. This added to the cost of running the school and, at the same time, the states were basically lowering the percentage they paid for the cost of running state colleges. Tuition had to carry a higher percentage.

Even though, I guess, total numbers are higher now, percentages are different. When I was in school, I think a full 70% of cost for running the college came from the state. Now it's more like only 40%. More total money from the state, than before, but lower percentage which makes a big difference.

Also it seems like the split within universities is more pronounced with college presidents and top administrators making a lot more while entry level and adjunct faculty barely get by.

Mounting costs for certain things, like healthcare and housing, add to this problem making living expenses for students more expensive while rising healthcare costs eat into state budgets; part of the reason why today's percentages are different in state budgets. The growing income gaps are not serving us well.

Below is a chart I found in a PDF file from WWU. It shows decline in percent of budget from state quite well. This isn't taking into account the figures for money from grants, Western Foundation and so forth. If that was figured in I don't know. Maybe less than 40%? It does look like the percentage from the state is making a comeback in most recent years.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Can we still afford the curriculum of general university requirements?

I think if I were in my 20s today, I wouldn't go to college. My confidence in the marketability of my skills isn't that high so I wouldn't want to incur a huge debt. Some other people have a clearer vision toward a lucrative career, but without that, the debt may not be worth it.

Back when I did go to college, the costs were much lower. My parents were able to pay my way so I graduated with no debt. They were only slightly upper middle class. If I couldn't have my way paid today, I doubt I would go. Instead I would live my life, kind of like I am living it now, looking for quality of life things that are low cost. I'd be spending some time at the university anyway, attending free discussions. Also I would be taking advantage of educational things in the community and on the net. Listening to a lot of NPR podcasts as I do now.

My mom was a strong believer that college should be about more than just preparing for a job. It's the virtue of being an informed citizen. She believed in the balance of humanities and sciences. Her own major was physical education, but she never used it vocationally. She did lots of volunteer work and was married to my dad who was a science professor at WSU in Pullman. I feel fortunate to have been brought up in that family; a situation made possible by affordable education.

While I was going to college, I did have my own struggle with humanities requirements. I was never much of a reader. I'm definitely not a speed reader. Some of the general education requirements seemed irrelevant to me back then. Kind of distant and theoretical. I had my own humanities issues dealing with campus life, coming out as a gay person and so forth. My own life situations spoke so loud to me that I had trouble putting my life experiences aside enough to concentrate on the classics. I knew that there are insights one could get from that study, but it was hard for me to make that connection.

Fortunately, when I got to college here at WWU in Bellingham, they had just done a major revamp of their general university requirements; the GURs. They were starting to put aside a fairly rigid GUR curriculum and were adopting more of a smorgasbord system with a lot of choices to fill each GUR category. They offered choices in several categories of sciences, humanities, and ethnic studies. Ethnic studies was a new addition, I think. The definition of a well rounded education keeps evolving. We had a certain number of classes required from each category. Lots of choices. I tried to avoid classes that had a heavy reading load. The system worked pretty well and I made it through. That was back in the mid 1970s.

Back then, WWU was facing a very different situation than it is today. When I entered college, the student enrollment was going down. Imagine that today as these days they turn away students and face enrollment ceilings. Part of the reason for the shortage of students was their rigid system of humanities requirements which is a big reason why they were adopting the more open "choice" system. Demographics effected enrollment also as the Vietnam war was winding down and the push of people going to college for draft deferment was basically over. They had more faculty than the enrollment could justify so they were under some pressure, from the state, to boost enrollment and also lay off faculty and staff. They had a program called RIF meaning "reduction in force." People nicknamed that "ripoff in force." Eventually, as I got toward graduation, enrollment was going up again and the situation was stabilizing.

There's been lots of history since then, but I thought I would share my own college experience. I think I did get a good education with a variety of topics. A broad based education, but also a lot of choice within the parameters as I tried to take classes that interested me. I was glad to be able to take lots of electives. Took me 5 years to get a 4 year degree. I was able to go "the scenic route" so to speak.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Open house at Granary Building on Bellingham's waterfront



Screenshot photo from my Facebook post after the January 17 open house and planning discussions. It was good to see the inside of that building they have been working on. What I wrote and my photos are also in my Granary tag on Flickr.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Yes, I guess the Democrats are flilibustering, but there's a way around

Republicans are blaming Democrats for the government shutdown because Democrats are basically filibustering the debt ceiling bill until it includes relief from deportation for the Dreamer people. President Trump kind of started this problem by using executive action to try and deport Dreamer people until legislation can be passed to resolve the issue. I would guess that an easy way out of this impasse, now, is for Trump to delay, or totally scrap, the executive action on deportation. Maybe delay it by a year or even half a year? That should take the pressure off that issue so the government can reopen. Then Congress can continue to try and resolve that issue. He's probably afraid that Congress will be run by Democrats next year.

Friday, January 19, 2018

If federal government were drowned in a bathtub, the west coast blue states might form their own country?

Some conservatives say that they want to shrink government down to where it can be drowned in a bathtub. I got to thinking, if the Federal Government capitulates the the states can form their own countries. Washington, Oregon, California and Nevada are a big cluster of what are called "blue states." That would be a great country. Things like Social Security could be handled by our state, or "left coast" country.

Maybe the US is too big to govern; especially if any one political party totally dominates. I wouldn't want to see USA break apart, but maybe it wouldn't be so bad after all.

As for the red and blue political divide, that situation wouldn't be solved, tho, as there is a lot of red and blue in each region. Rural areas tend to be more red, urban areas, even in Texas, tend to be more blue.

The idea of red blue divide is pretty stark as I know folks who could be classified as red that are basically nice people even though I'd be mostly classified as blue. I tend to not wish to divide people too much. Still, just the size of the country is a factor. Aside from the red blue divide, it could be that smaller countries work better anyway.

Who would pay off the federal debt? Everyone would just walk away from it. Sounds tempting, but I know it wouldn't necessarily be that simple.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Shithole countries sounds like a comment some people would say after a few beers

This column, by Rex humppke in the Chicago Tribune, lays it on pretty strong. He might not like my first response to Trump's "shitholes" comment either, even though I am not a Trump supporter. My response is that the shitholes comment sounds like something a few people, I know, might say around the water cooler, or after they'd been to the bar for a while. I think there is lots of off the cuff, derogatory talk among people in general, but we aren't used to hearing it from the president of the United States. Ideally, it would be nice to strive toward civility. Authenticity and honest expression of feelings can be a virtue, but there is an awful lot of negativity going around.

T shirt for I ❤️ Shithole Countries. Seen at Bellingham Peace Vigil. Things like T shirts come out fast these days. Focus of my camera isn't the best in low light, in a hurry at least.


Friday, January 12 2017.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Paying the rent by selling xerox copies, or other things, more an improbability in today's economy

Interesting how the price of a xerox copy hasn't changed much since my college days in the late 1970s. Around 5 cents. Back then, making copies usually met putting nickles in the copy machine. There were a lot of them located in Wilson Library at WWU. A few places were more expensive. The copy machine at the City Library was 10 cents a copy.

Late 70s early 1980s saw the advent of retail copy outlets. Buying in bulk could get the price lower; like 3 cents a copy. There hasn't been much inflation in the world of xerox copies and many other goods and services that make up our economy and provide wages. That's probably why wages tend to be lagging behind inflation. For large segments of the workforce, wages are based on the price that businesses can get for the goods and services they provide. Technological advance, outsourcing, and competition tends to keep prices down. In some fields, like computers, prices drop.

Meanwhile prices in just a few sectors of the economy have gone up. For instance housing. When I was in college, I rented a room in Bellingham for $55 per month. That was a pretty good price even back then, but it would be unthinkable today. Healthcare is a lot more expensive also. Another big change is tuition at colleges. No wonder people who work providing inexpensive goods and services have trouble affording these things.

Somehow, we need to deal with the growing gaps in our economy. The discrepancies between various sectors. This isn't necessarily the problem of inflation or stagnation.

Seems like part of the problem is that we look at the economy as if were one monolithic block. Then we ask does it need stimulation or do we need to damp down inflation? Problem is, the economy is not one monolithic block. One set of gas or brake peddles no longer makes sense. Today's problem relates to the vast and growing discrepancies between different people and sectors of the economy. That needs to be addressed through various means such as graduated taxes.

This problem has many implications such as battles over where to set the minimum wage where one side wants to raise it so people can afford to live while the other side says it will cost jobs since businesses may not be able to raise their prices accordingly. This especially may effect small business and businesses where the top executives don't make huge salaries. Of course in the businesses where the top makes huge salaries, they can redistribute within the business, but not all businesses are in that position.

Another implication of this problem is environmental. People often feel that the road back to being able to afford the cost of living is increasing prosperity. Just sell more stuff. Problem is we are drowning in stuff and revving up the economy has serious implications for things like the carbon footprint. Serious implications for our psychology as well if life becomes a rat race filled with overtime work. We really need to figure out how to have quality rather than quantity when it comes to prosperity. Part of quality is less discrepancy in wages, prices and so forth within the economy.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Nuclear button size like game of Rock, Paper, Scissors

Comparing the size of one's nuclear button makes me think about the old game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. Paper seems weaker so it can be cut by scissors, but scissors can be broken by rock. Rock has the biggest button, I guess, but does Rock always win? Not really as paper can cover rock. In that case, paper wins.

One can think of paper as being the damage that can be inflicted by a small power, or terrorist group. Even our big industrial civilization has vulnerabilities. It's best not to taunt fate.

It can be tempting to exhibit an air of confidence when one feels they have power, however. Several years ago, I remember a meme, going around, about the West versus something in the Middle East. I forgot the exact details, but I think the caption read.

"We hear that you don't allow your women to do military service." "Well guess what." "We do." It then shows a picture of women pilots headed across the flight deck of a powerful looking aircraft carrier.

Even quite a few folks on the left liked that image which was circulating around on a Veteran's Day as I remember. Empowerment of women, compared to the situation in some other parts of the world. That's one of the threads of thought.

Still it's something to be wary of.

Friday, January 05, 2018

I am not that enthused about the concept of a "bucket list"

I am not that enthused about the concept of a "bucket list." It's a new concept, I think. It's the list of things one wants to do before they die; like places to visit and so forth. To me, it just seems to put too much pressure on living. I do want my life to be interesting, but without the pressure of fulfilling some checklist that no one, including me, will likely remember 100 years from now anyway.

There may be enough bandwidth for all anyway

As I see it, lack of net neutrality may, or may not be a problem. Depending on whether the situation can be best described with "Zero Sum" thinking, or not. Zero sum thinking is where one thing's gain would be another person's loss. If internet providers have to slow down data, from some websites, in order to speed up service from others, then it is a bad thing. On the other hand, if there is enough bandwidth and abundance for all, it might not matter. It might not matter even if internet service providers decide to innovate in the way of creating some new kinds of connections to certain types of content. If there is great abundance, which is often the case in electronics, there may be always enough for everyone; bandwidth that is.

Abundance is less evident in economics, or at least in figuring budgets. For instance, here in Washington State where the Supreme Court is ordering state government to better fund K-12 education, zero sum realities mean that other state programs, such as state parks, would have to be cut. In this case also, maybe we can expand the entire pie of state funding so providing more money to education doesn't have to take things away from other services.

It's easier to do that in the world of technology than it is in the world of economics, however.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Discussion around the Me Too hashtag could bring some credence to the concept of original sin

Discussion around the Me Too hashtag could bring some credence to the concept of original sin; a concept that most of us liberals tend to discredit. Original sin is thought of as an unhealthy idea to tell everyone that they are broken at birth. Still, it depends on how one interprets things. "Broken" could just mean no one is perfect. It could just mean a check on one's ego.

Everyone fails, but there's also forgiveness. I sometimes wonder if "conservatives" have a more robust system for weathering these issues than "liberals." I realize the terms conservative and liberal are not the best, but I'll use them just for thinking. It's all kind of gross stereotyping, I know.

When someone in the liberal camp, like Al Franken, falters, is he thrown under the bus while Donald Trump can survive his falters? What's the difference?

Maybe it's the concept of sin and then forgiveness? On the campaign trail, Trump admitted to locker room talk that he wasn't proud of.

Was just admitting that he wasn't proud of it enough to give him a pass? It seems to work for some conservatives.

Is there a similar system of redemption that liberals can use?

Personally, I think the idea of original sin can be useful, tho I am definitely not a fundamentalist. I'm not one that believes in so called scriptural infallibility even though I'm open to the possibility that there could be a "spirit dimension" to things.

Aside from what one thinks about religion, there are many secular parallels to the concept of original sin (I would think if I understand it at all, maybe I don't). It's just basically the idea that we are not perfect. A check to our egos. Also a check to our tendency to feel entitled to everything. Entitled to money, sex, or whatever. It's a form of humbleness which can be manifested in different ways.

In science, there's a form of humbleness that comes from the fact that we don't know everything. I've heard the phrase, "the more we know, the more we know that we don't know."

Speaking of humility, President Obama made some conservatives mad when he said, "If you've got a business – you didn't build that." Those who wish to take credit for their successes might not like hearing that, but our successes depend, to a large extent, on the tapestry of society that we live in. Obama was talking about the need for public infrastructure, such as roads and so forth. Also people's inventions and triumphs are built on the shoulders of others who came before us. Even something as great as Facebook was not totally the cleverness of Mark Zuckerburg. It took many inventions along the way.

We could all use patience, some humility and a bit of check to our egos and senses of entitlement. Also paths to forgiveness.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Will the Move On organization want to change its name?

This short article discusses the rethinking of Bill Clinton's sexual affairs as a reason weighing against Hillary in recent favor-ability polls. Personally, I think her low rating has more to do with frustration about so called "establishment candidates." I also think there's a human tendency to abandon ship from people perceived as losers. In some ways, these polls are moot points as I would doubt Hillary would plan to run for another election at this stage in her life. That being said I still have respect for her. Below more of my thoughts about the rethinking of the Clinton era that's in the news today.

Given the newer scrutiny of Bill Clinton's sexuality, I wonder if the the organization Move On will regret choosing that name? I think when that organization was starting, the name related to the concept of moving on to more important issues than what the Clinton impeachment trial was about. Move On to issues such as the economy and global warming.

While some of the hashtag Me To is needed, I do think there is the danger of over correction.

One thing I can say for Hillary Clinton is that she stayed in her marriage. Something that was more common in the past. These days, people are pretty quick to dump their relationships and political alliances when things aren't ideal. As time goes on, I hope the Me To hash tag can be more about abuse of power, bad bosses and so forth, rather than just focusing on sexuality. Sexuality is one of the many things that is abused, but there's more to the problem than just that. I realize that women tend to be victimized more often than men, tho so sexuality is a factor. It's just not the only factor in what could be a good movement for holding people's personal lives accountable to their political ideals. Think, how do people treat their own employees? What are people's carbon footprint?

As for one's personal life being held to high scrutiny, I'm remembering the controversy, a few years back, about Al Gore's big house. Back then mostly conservatives brought up the problem of Al Gore being such a leading environmentalist while living in a big house with a larger footprint than the average American. Yes, I think even most people who drive cars can be seen as hypocrites, tho I understand that people feel driving is a necessity to function in this society. I can't become too bitter, myself. I can also justify a bigger house for someone, like Al Gore, who is a major public figure. He would need more things like space for home security staff and so forth. I would guess he also flies in jet planes occasionally.

Be wary, I think some of the heightened criticism of public officials could be coming from "divide and conquer" strategy from Republicans. Both parties have lots of internal bickering these days and some of that atmosphere could be fueled by the other party.

I still have respect for the Clintons, but I do think its time for new energies in politics. Focusing on building a sustainable world, such as use of things like solar power. Less about older aspirations of wealth, consumerism and power. Some new thinking is needed in a lot of places.

Monday, December 25, 2017

My pictures on Flickr under Christmas label


People have placed ornaments on evergreens along the South Bay Trail at Boulevard Park. Probably not officially sanctioned by the parks department. Litter? Guerilla Art? Looks nice however. I hear that whoever put these up plans to take them down soon after the holidays.

More of my Christmas images on Flickr.

A great Birthday / Christmas present, 1971



During my sophomore year in high school, My mom bought us a trip to Spokane from Pullman on the Greyhound Bus. Just her and me. Primary objective was to buy the multi band radio I had been dreaming about in the Radio Shack catalog. No Radio Shack store in Pullman, back then.

While in the "city" she wanted me to see some sights.

The Crescent Department Store was all decked out in holiday trimmings. A must see; the animated window with moving Santa mannequin. We walked around to the front of the block and entered through the main door where said window would be. When we got there, my mom just kept walking while I stopped. I wondered why she suddenly lost interest. With some disgust in her voice she said, "it's Christmas on the moon." Santa was in a space suit. No warm fire, snowy fields, or chestnuts roasting. It was moon rocks and grey dust. Santa picking up rocks and placing them in specimen pouches.

Moving on, we did had a nice meal on the Crescent's top floor cafe named The Tea Room. Then did a bit more window shopping in downtown Spokane before heading to pick up my prized radio.

I still have that radio. It served me well for many years, but today the only thing that works is the dial light. I taped what I thought was a better AM dial onto the radio. Used another Christmas gift; a label maker, to put my address on this prized possession.

Some other memories below.

Baked goods that we exchanged with neighbors. To increase variety of goods in everyone's home, folks would bring around what they baked to share with the neighborhood. The doorbell would ring and it was the Stevens. Then the Swansons and so forth. Often carols were sung. Each year, we had the chore of passing out our goodies as well. One year, while I was back home from college, I noted that most of the neighbors were at a party next door. I thought we should pass out our plate at that house to save having to go to each house. My brother Jack nixed the idea thinking it would be awkward picking out just the neighbors at that party where others would be also. He thought we would have to say, "okay, here's one for you up the street and you from across town don't get one."

A climax of our family Christmas was opening presents on Christmas morning. All excited, I would get up early. The house was filled with the sweet smell of my mom's holiday bread. It had very sugary frosting with a strong ting of orange. My sister Judith Ashworth and I would stake out our heat vents on both sides of the tree where warm air from the furnace would blow into the living room. Warmth would flow up into my shirt. We would wait, somewhat impatiently, as my older sister, Lillian, would remain in bed. After traveling to Pullman, from Seattle, she would be getting more sleep. Sometimes we would be waiting for my brother, Bill Ashworth also. When everyone was up and around the tree, we would start opening packages. A big pile of spent wrapping paper would accumulate in the laundry basket that my mom would set up. We reused much of the wrapping paper year after year. We would reuse paper, ribbons and bows that were still in fairly good shape and weren't torn up by the cat jumping into the basket.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Staying local for the holidays

In recent times, I've stayed local for the holidays. Last time I took Greyhound Bus to visit family in Pullman, WA. it was crowded. Buses were delayed with snow on the mountain passes. By the time I got to Spokane to transfer for Pullman, the buses were being mobbed by the crowd. Terminal staff was doing the best they could trying to get people where they were going.

I sort of regret what I said when I finally got on my bus. I said, "next time I'll ride my bicycle." It's true. I did ride my bicycle the following summer, but I'm afraid the ticket taker took that as just another insult. I didn't mean it that way, but the comment came as part of a long line of snarling passengers. Now I wish I could do that moment over again. The reaction of the ticket taker wasn't bad, however. I think he just said, "not in the snow." I was appreciative of how they were doing a hard job to get everyone on their way. Many of the passengers are patient with good mindset while others grumble. I try to look at situations from both sides; the side of the customer and employee.

On the bus, it's kind of a long tedious day to get from Bellingham to Pullman with transfers in Everett and Spokane. By bike it's usually 6 or more days with camping along the way. I bike in summer tho I met someone from Norway who biked across Canada in the winter.