Friday, August 10, 2018

My 2018 bicycle tour to Olympic Peninsula and Victoria, BC is in progress

Easier to put day by day posts on Facebook. If you do not use Facebook, I will transfer those posts and add more images when I get back to my home screen. The info will be on this blog and Flickr.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Fight against gerrymandering more important than debate over voter ID

Another alluring sound byte on the campaign trail, but you don't usually need ID to buy groceries. However, there are a lot of things, in society, that do require ID these days. Unfortunate, in a way, how security conscious we have become.

My liberal base might not want me to say this, but I can sort of see the rational for picture ID when voting. Sort of. The fight against gerrymandering is more important than the fight about ID, in my opinion. Gerrymandering is a big problem.

The fight to preserve lack of ID requirement for voting uses lots of political capital. Conservatives can score sound byte points by mentioning all the things that require ID; even if groceries are not among them. Meanwhile gerrymandering of political districts threatens to destroy the value and incentive for voting. Seems like Democrats tend to be better than Republicans in trying to take steps against gerrymandering even though both parties have contributed to the problem as well. Republicans tend to be the worse. The fight against gerrymandering seems more important to me than the fight over voter ID.

Here are a few other thoughts related to ID.

Voter ID is kind of a mute point here in Washington State as this state is all absentee ballot. No, we don't have to include a copy of picture ID when sending in the ballot. Really, absentee ballot is the way to go for voter participation.

The whole ID experience isn't necessarily getting worse at least in my case. These days we can make purchases with just a debit card and pin number. Back in my college days, I remember trying to buy text books at the college bookstore my freshman year. I gathered up a big stack of books, a heavy stack. Then waited in a 40 minute line to get to the checkout counter. They didn't take checks without several credit cards for ID. I had no credit cards. I had to go down to my bank, get cash and then start over. After that experience, I have been leery of paying by check. Glad checks are mostly a thing of the past.

Here's another problem. Seems like just about every job requires a driver's license. I don't drive so I am ineligible for many kinds of employment in this car based society. I have non driver's picture ID.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Humorous report on the state of my health

It's mostly good news from my exam at the doctor except maybe my eyesight. I forgot my reading glasses and there was tiny print on the questionnaire I filled out in the waiting room. Many of the questions dealt with sexuality. Safe sex, STDs and so forth.

When it was time for the nurse to enter my answers into a computer, he couldn't figure out why I put "talking and looking at people" as my method of birth control. That was good for a laugh and I guess I should have brought my glasses.

Aside from small print, my eyes aren't too bad. Both the male nurse and the doctor were extremely good looking.

On a question as to whether I should get tested for HIV, my answer was also good for a bit of humor. I said, "If athlete's foot was considered a sexual disease that would be what I am most at risk of." "From having conversations in places of nudity and also, maybe, dancing on barefoot dance floors."

On to the blood test results. The numbers looked quite good. I'll admit, a few of those numbers are helped by some prescriptions that I have been taking for years. A mild statin for lowering cholesterol, for instance.

Also my blood sugar is a bit high so the topic of diet came up. I mentioned that I reduce sugar intake by drinking unsweetened ice tea with just a tad of Pepsi in it. As soon as I mentioned the word "Pepsi," the doctor nearly gagged. Pepsi; another word for poison, I guess.

Then he said that it's a matter of balance. If one has to have a bit of Pepsi to enjoy life, it's part of the equation. Pleasure matters also in health. One can be a Buddhist Monk and live a long time, but quality of life is important also. Maybe I'll cut back a bit on the Pepsi; however.

Then I mentioned that I use instant tea; the powdered version. That started the doctor on a philosophical discussion about how health is not really the highest priority for a business that's there to make money. Businesses make things, like instant tea, to increase sales. They mainly care about taste and also convenience. Long shelf life in the warehouse might mean more to a business than health. Again, it's a matter of balance.

Foods that are less processed are usually best and for beverages, water has stood the test of time over thousands of years.

For me, water is a bit boring, but balance is the key. News from the doctor is pretty good and I basically like his philosophy.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

How too much easy money in the wrong places can make income discrepancy worse

The world awash in money, but it doesn't necessarily help. I watched this very interesting documentary on You Tube from DW German TV. It lays much of the blame for income disparity on low interest rates and the flood of money mostly available to big time borrowers. This situation fuels real estate inflation, corporate mergers and national debts. It means small savers get practically no interest on regular savings in the bank due to low interest rates. It doesn't do much to help startups or new innovations as banks tend to favor big outfits with recognized track records for loans. Doesn't do much for needed infrastructure either as governments borrow and then feel the pressure to pay back the debt leading to austerity measures.

In my opinion the easy money, low interest situation is created for basically two reasons. To reduce unemployment and to help indebted governments remain solvent. I think that both of these goals could be addressed in different ways.

As for unemployment, society does have an addiction to materialism. More wealth is seen as the solution to every problem. Instead, maybe we could aspire to a philosophy that I saw on a protest sign one day.

"Consume less, work less, live more fully."

Solutions, such as working less, could be seen as improvements to society. Less economic activity to harm the environment, more free time for quality of life things like friends, family and volunteer activity. Less harm to environment at least until green technology can be in place. A way to buy time for the earth while waiting for green technology. To some extent, unemployment can be addressed with better distribution of wealth and work. Shorter working hours, more flexible schedules, job sharing. This could take some pressure off the need to stimulate the economy.

I don't feel like we have to go back to the dark ages, however. Prosperity is good, but, like so many things, it needs to be balanced with other values.

I realize that there is the danger of a downward economic spiral if people strive to work less, earn less and consume less. Consumer spending props up the economy. This philosophy of less consumption would need to be applied carefully. Applied as just one part of a balanced picture.

Reducing consumption shouldn't be that hard as a lot of technology pushes that direction anyway. Miniaturization. Like going from incandescent lights of the past that were energy hogs to LED technology. Solid state electronics versus the vacuum tube. Telecommuting versus driving.

Seems like technology keeps advancing whether the economy is booming or not. Advances in manufacturing can reduce the need for hard work. We are awash in low cost products to buy and free information on the internet. The big problem is that certain important things, like housing and healthcare, have become so expensive that living the less hassled life becomes improbable. One must work two jobs just to rent a studio apartment in many cities. This is a problem caused by too much money inflating certain sectors of the economy while other sectors bring abundance at low cost.

Idealistically, the true bottom line should be quality of life, not just amount of income, but it's hard to strive for that quality when an astronomical rent is due. In spite of great abundance due to prosperity, we seem to be facing a problem of inflation in certain sectors such as housing that is fueled by too much money. Money in the wrong places.

As for the problem of funding governments, here are some ideas that people might think are "off the wall." I've read some of these suggestions before so they aren't just out of my hat. Of course collecting taxes is the idea way, but given Republican style politics in the US and other places, tax collection is difficult. The need for government spending continues anyway as even Republicans want bigger defense outlays and practically no one favors big cuts in things like Medicaid.

Since central banks are printing money anyway, why can't they just give part of that money to governments? Yes, just give it for free. At least part of the time. Give it out rather than loaning it to be paid back. If they want to stimulate the economy, why can't they just print the money and give it to the government to spend on infrastructure, scientific research and other "big picture" needs of society?

I think a lot of economists would think this is a preposterous idea that would lead to uncontrolled inflation. Well, the world is awash in money now and we have high inflation in many sectors today, such as housing. In some cases, governments are so far in debt, that money isn't likely to be paid back anyway. Even if the money is given to governments for free, central banks can still, conceivably, cut back on that money supply to curb spending and inflation.

Maybe the central banks could provide government revenue as a combination of loans and free money.

Maybe I'm a bit cynical about Republican tax cuts and spending (military) plans. We might have to give up on the idea of paying back the loans. That admission could rock the economic boat, but we really have to rethink economics anyway.

We should figure out some soft landings and thoughtful transitioning of in our way of doing things. Hopefully we can avoid panic.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

How can we subscribe to that many publications? How about pay per article?

In trying to find a business model that pays for journalism, lots of media, like New York Times, is putting content behind paywalls. Not being able to subscribe to all the hundreds of publications that I see headlines for on social media, I've often thought there could be a pay per article system set up.

Recently, there was a show on KQED that talked about problems in the advertising business; advertising also a revenue source for journalism. Someone suggested that sites like Facebook should pay for the news content they use.

Bingo, a light came on in my head. There could be a premium version of (for instance) Facebook that could get people past paywalls of various participating publications. Maybe a pay per article feature that would keep track and deduct from one's subscriber account or maybe a flat fee that would cover participating media.

Years ago America Online had something like that. Free access to certain magazines that came with your membership in AOL. Remember the 1990s?

Friday, June 22, 2018

Should the children have not been born before they get to our borders?

That's my provocative statement pointing out the hypocrisy of right to lifers that want to put walls at our borders and possibly send people back to the gang violence and deadly situations where they came from.

It's true that more people want to come to the US than are legally allowed by our outdated immigration quotas. Seems like our quotas, for legal immigration, were created when there were less people in the world. Less people to be knocking at our doors.

In recent years, Congress has been pretty gridlocked about updating things like the immigration quotas. Updating to better reflect not only world population, but also the number of people working in our economy. Many of the undocumented immigrants are a vital part of today's economy, so I hear.

While people talk about immigrants taking jobs, it seems like the bigger problem is housing. The economy tends to expand as more people, more consumers, more workers arrive. A bigger problem is the amount of affordable housing near our metropolitan areas where most of the jobs are and most of the people need to live.

We need to keep looking at the big picture. How many people are migrating around the world, including people coming to the US? How are we planning for our population?

Maybe we can't expect to have as much free parking as we had in the past since that takes up too much space in our growing metro areas.

We need to evolve toward things like denser development, lower footprint living, better transit and more walk able neighborhoods. It all interconnects and we need to talk about the big picture story. How best to accommodate people living on this planet and how many people are living on this planet. Family planning is a big part of the picture also.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

A more useful game. The goal of who can create the cleanest, best sorted stream for recycling.

If I had the bully pulpit, one thing I would tweet about would be recycling. We could create a game that would have the goal of producing the most usable recycling stream for industry. Teams could be formed from companies, organization and so forth to compete over how useful their recycling streams become. Similar to organizations competing on Bike to Work Day over what percentage of their employees bike. The contest would be about the recycling and garbage streams we produce. Are things cleaned and separated? What type of bins do we need. More than one bin for different types of plastic? This could be a game of strategy. Especially needed, these days, now that China no longer wants to sort our waste. If we lived more intentionally and thought about things like this, rather than just sports and video games, our recycling could become more useful to our industry and our planet could be cleaner.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Hypocrisy of pro life organizations with children at the border

Very good editorial written by someone that is pro life.

From article.

Because it regularly forces children into places where their lives are under threat, Bishop Flores argued, it is “not unlike driving someone to an abortion clinic.”

So why can’t the biggest pro-life organizations join these religious leaders in condemning the administration’s treatment of children?

Where is National Right to Life? Where is the Susan B. Anthony List?

I would say, maybe there are too many children being born into this world. Overwhelming at times, but there are better ways to deal with that situation than this hypocrisy. Family planning before the children are born for instance. Also compassion and accommodation once the children are born, even if they are the neighbor children.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Maybe Trump's video at Summit with North Korea could have put bicycles in a better light

The White House created "propaganda" video that so many people are talking about. Some news commentators are scoffing at this saying the White House just made a North Korean propaganda video. Those commentators might have missed the point. It seems like it's not a praise of North Korea, today, but instead, it's a sails job about what North Korea could become if it were to lay down it's nuclear weapons and have more normalized relations with the US and other countries.

When I watched it, the video reminded me of a corporate sales pitch. I think it was designed, not for general audiences, but for the North Korean leadership. A style of video they might appreciate. Looks kind of cheesy to us, but I have a feeling that a lot of our corporate videos, for things like new employee orientation, are similar.

I should be offended as I think the only bicycle shown was not very appealing. A few black and white pictures, placed in the video, reminded people of what North Korea is more like today, I guess. Fences, military things, poverty and a broken bicycle. This, as opposed to the whiz bang world of bright lights, economic prosperity and tall buildings. Photos from other cities such as Asian cities gaining prosperity. So much for their (the White House's) image of the bicycle. It's about wealth. Really, the bicycle can be wealth also, but they don't include everything. They also, of course, don't show our border wall.

Living the life

Some friends of mine that live in a collective household had a house party where the public was invited. I thought I would just drop by, but got to talking with quite a few folks. It was a fun and intelligent time for me tho I am not a big party person. I'm also getting up there in the years, but maybe that shouldn't stop me.

At one point, two folks passing through, from Seattle, invited me to join them as they checked out a few other weekend parties around the college neighborhood. I said, "this is probably the most interesting of the parties right here." They agreed and decided to stay. As they put it, "this party had a naked guy that looked like Jesus serving lemonade."

At the party, I saw that the house had installed a hot tub out in their garden. Next day I decided to ride past on my way to another errand to get a better look at the new addition. Didn't think anyone would be using the tub, but someone, I know, saw as I biked by and invited me to join in. I did for a bit. A serendipitous change of plans as I was on my way across town for something else.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

If the male clerk looks cute and friendly, I'll stand in the longer line. I've got the time.

More and more automation in the grocery business. See this little video about Ocado's grocery technology. I'm not a Luddite, but one wonders what role humans will play in the future.

This may sound outside the box, but as a customer, I sometimes find myself choosing the supermarket line that I stand in by how attractive the clerk is. In my case, how attractive the male clerk is.

This is a different criteria than the pure efficiency of the shortest line. I'm usually not in a hurry so there are other criteria than just getting out of the store the fastest. I realize, tho that conversation with the clerk is usually very brief. I'm not one to hold up the line when others are waiting. I have had some good, but brief conversations with clerks, especially when no one is waiting behind me. The looks of the clerk really doesn't matter that much once there is conversation. Looks just motivate my choice of checkout line, sometimes, especially when I don't know any of the clerks.

These are some of my thoughts on what humans can provide. The personal connection. Most of the time, however, the personal connection is not really that valuable in the efficient setting of a supermarket. In the future, maybe people will engage in deep conversation while machines take over the routine tasks.

On the other hand, even doing routine tasks can be meditative so we will need to keep some of those jobs around. It's just that pure efficiency shouldn't be the only criteria in life. Sometimes the slower checkout line is worth it.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Ideas about naked bike ride. Another fun year.

Here's a link to a few photos and mostly thoughts about riding in Bellingham's Naked Bike Ride for another year, 2018.

Below is text from one of the images that I set to "adult" in Flickr just to be on the safe side. You can see the text here if you haven't set your Flickr for adult. Other photos, in that tag, are safe and on open web, including one of me partially clothed. Even the "adult" one is taken from a distance, so not that risque. This year's display, on my gallery, is more about the commentary.

Dance party after 2018 ride

Taking part in the ride and the dance was wonderful. The feel of the energy, music and the friendliness of the people.

The staging area has been in photo zones during recent years so I keep my camera in my pannier not being one who rocks the boat. Along the South Bay Trail was a different matter. This is the one photo I got as I also didn't fumble with my camera while riding. Hard to capture the energy in just images anyway.

It's always sort of like a Shangri la aside from mainstream society. A bit like drinking from a fountain of youth tho folks from all ages, including my own, nearing retirement, were there. Most of the crowd was skewed toward the 20 somethings, but it seemed like people were mingling beyond those arbitrary boundaries. Soon after I arrived at the painting party before the ride, a young woman offered to paint me.

Weather was a bit cooler than last year so the gathering of riders and onlookers was slightly smaller. I think they counted 315 riders this year and more like 385 last year. Still enough.

The cool breeze added to my Shangri la feeling of the dance. Dancing generates heat and the breeze was refreshing. Air was flowing up from a wooded area across the South Bay Trail from the HUB Bike Shop where folks were gathered.

Some of the dancers were on top of a metal shipping container, up above the rest of the party.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Authentic art from the heart versus non discrimination. Maybe rules could be slightly bent to avoid a winner take all battle

Here in Washington State we have another artist versus non discrimination case. I guess it's similar to the case in yesterday's news about the baker in from Colorado. Here in Washington, the case is about a florist.

I can somewhat sympathize with the florist even though I am a supporter of LGBTQ civil rights. While I think civil rights that are based on sexual orientation are as valid as civil rights based on anything else, I also believe that there are lots of grey areas in laws. In some cases, rules can be bent versus trying to force everyone into a single mold. If I was getting married, I wouldn't want the person baking my cake or arraigning the flowers to be doing it under duress. For that important milestone in my life, I would want an artist who's heart was in my favor.

While saying this, I realize that our society is in a culture war and I do worry, a bit, about my side (basically left) often seeming to try and be reasonable, to acquiesce in the name of civility if the "other side" doesn't ever compromise or give an inch. There's a phrase that goes, "nice guys (or I should say nice people) finish last." It's too bad that we have gotten into such a "winner take all" culture war that each side feels we can't try and be reasonable.

Apparently, according to this video, the florist and the gay couple had a good understanding and respect for one another. She didn't mind referring the couple to another florist. They were even able to remain customers for other items, like buying flowers off the shelf that wouldn't require something from the heart of an artist. It wasn't until Washington State Attorney General got involved making this a test case for LGBTQ civil rights that it became a high stakes battle.

I believe civil rights laws, including LGBTQ rights, should stand, but I also believe in trying to be reasonable before things have to end up in court or in a winner take all war.

That being said, I do still worry about Republicans controlling pretty much all branches of Federal Government, these days. As for the culture war, we do need to elect more Democrats to office. At the same time, we, on both sides, can try and be, at least somewhat, accommodating of our fellow citizens.

This discussion about the Colorado case was interesting. I continue thinking flexibility in interpretation of laws can help versus a winner take all case before the Supreme Court. Especially this Supreme Court at the federal level as it's likely to not rule in our favor. Trump is breaking records appointing justices to federal courts that Congress seems to be all but rubber stamping.

Personally, I feel like sexual orientation is similar to religion in one way. People will sometimes say that race is genetic while sexual orientation is not. Well, religion is not genetic either and it's still one of the first 4 protected classes. Race, Religion, Creed and National Origin. Of course I also realize that sexual orientation may have deep biological roots; deeper than religion, but some would still dispute that.

As for whether religious rights has anything to do with the artist's claim for protecting her free speech, I don't feel religion should create a special exclusion. I would base my leniency, toward her, on the First Amendment and the right to not be compelled to express ideas one disagrees with.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

I'm socially liberal and fiscally not necessarily conservative, but realize we can't have it all. Life's trade offs.

Many people say they are socially liberal while being fiscally conservative. I can't really say that I am fiscally conservative as I have tended to vote for most taxes (except the recent jail measure). I also support quite a bit of domestic spending for things like parks, infrastructure, social services and so forth. Rather than saying I am fiscally conservative, I do understand that lots of things in life are trade offs. We can't have it all, tho it does seem like people, on both the left and the right, tend to be spoiled in American culture. I'm not really fiscally conservative, but I do realize we can't have it all. I also realize business has to remain viable to create a paycheck. It's basically a matter of balance.

One example of a trade off is the McCleary decision about school funding in Washington State. McCleary, as well as the subsequent hike in property taxes.

Lots of people, especially on the left, applauded that decision, but now folks are saying their property taxes have jumped up this year.

In the past, Washington voters have voted against state income taxes so most of our money, for education and so forth, comes from sales and property taxes.

I was never jumping up and down demanding more funding for schools, but I do realize that schools do have legitimate needs and the job of teachers is not easy. I did vote for Bellingham's recent school bond for some school expansions in our growing city. I also have tended to vote for ongoing levies for school operation.

Now it looks like taxes are going up, but property values keep rising. Teachers need to be able to afford to live in the districts they serve. I guess I realize that there is never a totally free lunch. Much of life is trade offs.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Flirtatious bicycling

I think about the many gay events I've ridden my bicycle to over the years. Faerie gatherings, camp outs and so forth. Places where there was fun and flirtatious conversation. Also serious conversation, but the majority trended toward the lighter and more playful type. Arriving by bike becomes a good conversation starter. I've often thought that it might help promote healthy lifestyles as lots of people, in these settings, haven't ridden a bike in years. In many cases, the people at these gatherings are a bit out of shape, but they often have fond memories of playfulness in their youth.

I'm also thinking about the high school reunions I've biked to.

At many of these events, I see some results of our consumerist culture. Quite a few folks have lived sedentary lifestyles from behind the wheel of automobiles for many years. Especially at the Faerie Gatherings, it seems like drug use has taken its toll. In much of society, alcohol, drug use and the stress of meeting day to day work and family obligations takes its toll.

I have visions of a somewhat different kind of culture. One that would fit well with a lower carbon footprint. More active lifestyles, less effort devoted to striving for the mcmansion. The appeal of a lighter footprint and healthier lifestyle.

Some people might say it's like being a Peter Pan who never quite grows up in the way that the mainstream of this culture does. It's an alternate road that could make lowering the carbon footprint more palatable, tho at the same time I do realize that the main road to lowering the footprint goes through technology. Solar energy, for instance. There's got to be many valid roads to a lower carbon footprint. Different roads for different people.

Thinking about this as Bellingham's naked and nearly naked bike ride is getting closer. June 1. It draws quite a bit of public interest. Likely more interest than a serious lecture. I wonder what long term effect things like this have at nudging a few folks toward getting out more. Getting out and mingling. Partying, but partying in healthy ways. Putting energy into something different than just struggling to build up one's material assets.

Here's the poster they've designed for 2018.

Here's a link to an art piece, think piece about these rides in various places that I created for my Flickr album.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The culture of guns beyond just law

Seems like a lot of the shootings, like the recent school shooting in Texas, happen in areas where there are lots of guns. Gun culture and many guns around. The person who did that shooting used a gun that his father had, so I hear. I'm in favor of changes in gun laws, but that isn't necessarily the magic answer. The law might not make that much difference, but it's up to people to not be so into guns. Have less guns around.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Hurray for ADUs, but some folks would just want less population growth

I like talking to many different kinds of people and I often change my tune, a bit, depending on who I am talking to. A while ago, I mentioned to a friend that Bellingham City Council passed the ordinance allowing auxiliary dwelling units to built in more single family zones. I was happy, but this friend was less enthused. He expressed regret that there was a blanket change to all residential zones. Rather than trying to defend the ADU vote, I changed my tune a bit and said that if population growth were to significantly slow down, there would be less need to build more homes. He agreed with that. He also liked hearing my slightly tongue in cheek comment that if more people were gay, we wouldn't have as much growth.

I'm glad there are more and more single and child free people here in the western world at least. The third world still has more population growth which we get some of via immigration.

Some people think it's selfish to embrace single living, but ironically, the best thing we can do for kids of the future is to leave them a world that isn't overcrowded. We also can do better to accommodate the population, like allowing more auxiliary dwelling units, in my opinion. Also there are lots of new apartment buildings being built in Bellingham's denser zones. Multi family zones. Lots of people keep wanting to move to Bellingham. There are several ways to solve this problem. Less population, yes. More density, yes. Maybe all of the above.

Friday, May 11, 2018

My friend who pirouetted from intel to retirement in Bellingham Washington



Here's a unique video. It depicts my friend Mark Allyn pirouetting from Intel to retirement in Bellingham Washington. Also I've included my own description of this journey based on the stories he tells.

Mark worked for Intel Corporation in the Portland area. His retirement plan was to move to Bellingham.

While his Bellingham plans waited, he continued working not sure exactly when he was going to say goodby. Around the time when he learned that the rent on his Portland apartment was scheduled to go up, he decided to set the date. This, among other reasons was a good time to retire so he gave notice to both his landlord and his employer.

Part of his plan was to ride a bicycle from Portland to Bellingham. He had his processions shipped to his new home ahead of time.

As an avid bicyclist, he had been commuting from his apartment in Portland to work at Intel's Jones Farm campus which is out in the suburban city of Hillboro. The last commute to work was to be the first leg of his bike ride to retirement in Bellingham.

Looking forward to this adventure, he showed up for his last Monday on the job. It was the start of his final week. When he arrived that morning, he noticed a few buses parked in front of the campus. When Mark got inside, he quickly found out that Intel was in the middle of a massive employee layoff. All the conference rooms were booked processing layoffs. The buses were there because they were still hiring a few folks and there was no space for new employee orientation as the conference rooms were being used to process layoffs. On that day, new employee orientation must have been like, "welcome to the company." "Now Get on the bus, don't look." "We'll take you someplace else for the welcoming."

On that last week, Mark could have been the happiest person in the company as he was planning to retire anyway. Thus this video. Dressed in clear plastic he did pirouettes down the corporate hallways. People might have been envious, or maybe they were wondering what kind of fool was this? They may have thought it was something to lighten the somber moment during layoffs.

His last day of work was the first day of his trip to Bellingham. That day started with his normal commute, but he was leaving his apartment for the last time. No need to return to the apartment where rent was scheduled to go up. Ready to leave the job where the layoff was in progress. Looks like the work-a-day world, he was leaving behind, was starting to deteriorate.

After the goodbys, he bicycled toward Bellingham making it as far his first motel stop in Longview, WA. It was a dreary, rainy afternoon as he left Hillboro and headed up Oregon Highway 30 along the Columbia River. He entered Washington State via the Lewis and Clark Bridge into Longview. As he ceremoniously walked across that bridge, clouds parted and the sun came out. A large rainbow appeared. It was truly a "we're not in Kansas anymore" moment.

His ride to Bellingham took several more days which turned out to be beautiful and sunny.

Since then, he's enjoyed doing lots of creative things and volunteering at places like the Spark Museum of Electrical Invention.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Jobs and the economy can expand to accommodate immigration, but is there enough housing?

Trump wants to deport a lot of refugees from Central America and so forth, but this reduces the number of workers and consumers in the economy assuming most of the refugees are worker/consumers. Could make reaching his targets for economic growth more difficult. A larger population adds to the economy. On the other hand, it can also exacerbate the housing shortage. Seems like the economy can grow to accommodate more people as there are more consumers and jobs. It has a harder time providing the housing. Part of that is NIMBY ism. Good planning can address this problem. A larger economy can also add to the carbon footprint. That's where planning for a green economy comes in. Growth of world population is starting to slow down, but growth is still a reality.

Trump's new economic advisor, Larry Kudlow is a pro growth economist who has been a radio talk show host. He's been pretty much pro immigration differing with his new boss on that one issue. New workers and consumers add to the American economy. On his radio shows, he seemed to never discuss the housing shortage. He also never talked about climate change. I would guess he wouldn't be friendly toward ideas such as shorter workweeks or reducing the rat race of life. Personally, I think much of the economy is like spinning wheels on ice. I like to see progress in technology and so forth, but we can have less rat race. Again, the key is good planning.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Nobel Peace Prize often just goes to the famous, like even maybe Donald Trump?

Tidbits from a conversation I had with a friend at the Co-op. He's impressed that the Korean War may be coming to an end. Something disrupted that long gridlocked pattern.

I mentioned that there were people, at a Republican rally, saying that Trump should get the Nobel Peace Prize. My friend hadn't heard that. The thought was kind of horrific, in a way. Who knows what actually lead to the possible end of this standoff between the Korea's My theory is that Trump's somewhat reckless and off the wall comments could have been like the surprise thing that disrupted the gridlock? Who knows. It could have been a very risky move that just happened to turn out right; like tossing a rock, but having it land in the right spot as if not from skill but from chance.

On the other hand, Obama was very cautious, circumspect, not noted to try off the wall or much in the way of risky things.

Then the thought that Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize, a few years back, came up. I mentioned that I think there's a bias toward celebrities getting the prize so US presidents are likely candidates.

My friend, who's liberal, pointed out some of the darker things that people criticized about Obama. Drone killings and so forth. My friend would be more of a Sanders guy.

I said that possibly no recent US president deserves the prize. How about a good person who's less famous?

I do feel that people who get into power can have good intentions, but get pulled into making unfortunate compromises. Then I mentioned Canada's "darling on the left" Pierre Trudeau who's still backing expansion of Kinder Morgan oil pipeline. His image is becoming tainted on the environmental front. Then I said that the best way to stop pipelines is for consumers to become less dependent of fossil fuels. To become less money minded, maybe less addicted to middle class comfort values?

He said we can still do middle class living if we look to the sun. Solar power, electric cars and so forth. I mentioned my brother who has solar collectors on his roof and powers his car that way. My brother says he gets around half of his energy needs, including his car, from the sun. The friend I was talking to at the Coop has worked in the field of solar energy installation.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Two different connotations of the word "entitlement" confuse the discussion about things like Medicare and Social Security

Seems like there are two connotations for the word entitlement. One definition is something that one is entitled to; like if you deposit money in a bank, you are entitled to your money. The other connotation is the attitude of entitlement. That's more like someone being spoiled having an attitude of entitlement or the stereotype of the ugly American.

The word entitlement is big in today's news. People, on the left, don't like that word being used to describe benefits promised by our government such as Medicare and Social Security. Based on the first definition of entitlement, these things actually are entitlements as they are things people are entitled to. Promises the government has made to its people.

Someone can earn an entitlement by paying into the program, such as Social Security, but also an entitlement can be there based on a promise made by the government, such as for people considered disabled. This can be confusing as well, but they are both promises made by our government. Promises made to maintain civil society; rather than turning our backs on folks unable, for various reasons, to work enough to pay for the benefit. It's like insurance.

I think interest on the national debt can be called an entitlement as well. When people loan money to the government, they are entitled to the principal and interest that was agreed upon.

Due to economic circumstances, tax cuts and the large deficit, it may be hard for the government to meet all the entitlements it has promised. Scary.

The other part of the budget that isn't entitlements is called discretionary spending. The military is the biggest item in discretionary spending. It keeps expanding also. Other things the government decides to do like road improvements, new parks, science, or whatever, are also part of discretionary spending. Many of these things are vital, as well, to keep the country going and improving.

On the military side, I think veterans benefits are more "entitlement" than "discretionary" spending because they are a promise that has been made to people.

The attitude of entitlement (second connotation) complicates this issue as people on both the left and the right get these ideas confused. It's easy to have an emotional battle over this as the so called "spoiled" attitude of entitlement is very different from the idea that someone is truly entitled to something.

Since it is hard to keep all these promises, people may end up loosing things that they are truly entitled to. This becomes fertile ground for conflict and misunderstanding as the second connotation of entitlement; meaning spoiled, haunts the discussion.

Spoiled or not, we may not get everything we've bargained for. Hopefully we can still survive and even thrive with a quality of life. Let's hope society remains intact.

Our attitudes will have a lot to do with this. Less of the second connotation of entitlement meaning "ugly American."

I'm not saying that people should lay down and take being robbed, so to speak. Voting against ill conceived tax cuts and bad economic policy will help.

Still, in spite of our intentions, we may not get all that we bargained for. The numbers look ominous. I hear 10,000 Americans are becoming eligible for Social Security each day. Yikes. The Baby Boom generation, which I admit I am part of. It's a scary big number, but this is also a big country.

It's just money folks. Maybe we shouldn't take money too seriously. Live more for intangible qualities of life. New generations may be better at figuring this out. They can rise to the occasion.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

I consider myself a liberal who often doesn't use standard liberal talking points

This concept works as a sound byte so no more writing needed in the body of this message, I guess.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Lust for wealth may have to wait until greener technology can be widespread

I think if people want to stop things like Kinder Morgan pipeline, we should become less concerned about material wealth. Less yuppie, I guess. This would take pressure off the social system; at least until green technology can do more to take the place of fossil fuels. Trying to stop the pipeline, while the economy is still dependent on the money it would bring, is more divisive.

Most of this pipeline is in Canada, but a branch comes into Whatcom County to our local refineries; a source of "family wage" jobs.

There's a plan to expand pipeline capacity from Alberta to a port near Vancouver. Major controversy and some even say that it's becoming a "national unity crisis" for Canada.

Expanding this pipeline would bring lots of foreign revenue to Canada and help fund the government, which Prime Minister Trudeau says can be used to fund the transition to green technology. Trudeau has been a darling to the liberal side of politics, tho this stance has soiled his image among environmentalists.

I thought of a cartoon with Trudeau dancing in the gay rights parade tarnished with an oil stain.

This issue is also creating a rift between two provincial premiers who are both members of the liberal NDP Party in Canada. The Premier of Alberta wants it built while the premier of British Columbia opposes it.

Seems like the battle is over the road to take for weening ourselves off of fossil fuels.

Trudeau and the Alberta government say that the road needs to be financed, to some extent, with revenue from the fossil fuel economy including the new pipeline. A transition strategy.

Others oppose the pipeline.

Seems like the need for revenue is a big problem. Maybe we should learn to live more simply if we don't want the pipeline, at least until other alternatives can get going on a bigger scale.

I think of issues, like the oil pipeline, as being symptoms of a bigger picture. Each symptom isn't as important as the big picture. The big picture is our dependency on fossil fuels.

I don't see Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau as a monster for supporting the pipeline as he is walking a tightrope compromise. It's based on what he thinks is necessary to keep the economy going while also getting a carbon tax passed in Alberta and pushing Canada toward a longer term goal of green energy. Here in USA, we have Donald Trump who's rallying cry is to not care about climate change and basically only care about wealth.

We also have our tightrope walking politicians, here in the US, like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Rather than being snagged by the divisive details, like a pipeline here or a compromise there, I tend to look at the evolutionary changes that society needs to make. The bigger picture.

Biggest danger, tho, of leaders like Obama or Trudeau is that of average people being lulled into complacency. A liberal who is still basically compromising to powerful business interests can lull average liberal minded people into thinking things are okay while the people loose track of news, go shopping and even forget to vote.

More important than nice furniture and clothing is still the future of our civilization and planet. The long term evolution of our civilization to a more sustainable economy.

Some people may think my lack of total alarm over one pipeline is throwing the indigenous people's, who are dead set against the pipeline, under the bus. There are actually quite a few of the indigenous people's who are for that pipeline, or even another pipeline, I have read about, called Eagle Spirit Pipeline.

Powerful corporations, such as the Kinder Morgan pipeline outfit, from Texas, have a way of manipulating the situation of divisiveness to their advantage. Human tenancies toward divisiveness and greed create fertile ground for certain corporate interests to manipulate the game, keep the people arguing and then giving up to go shopping while the long term issue gets forgotten.

The best vehicle for change is the consumer demand and voting power of the masses. Also the advent of post fossil fuel technology.

Friday, April 13, 2018

The Facebook luxury liner continues to voyage through rough seas. I plan to remain onboard.

The Facebook luxury liner continues to voyage through rough seas. I plan to remain onboard, tho I know there are other smaller lifeboats; such as Google Plus. Google Plus is actually a very good social networking system, but it doesn't have the big number of friends. What I call inertia. There's another term for that which I've heard IT people use in radio interviews; "the network effect." Facebook's biggest draw is that it's where one finds everyone else.

I got the screen today about apps that might be using my information. It was interesting to take the time and learn a bit more.

Only a few apps showed as I don't do things like games. Just about all my apps seem to be behaving except for one which I did decide to remove. Something called Angry Birds. I wasn't even sure what that was and I usually avoid "angry."

Doing a search I found it and realized that it was the thing that put some cookie on my computer which causes my firewall to block it's access. A screen pops up every once in a while saying something was blocked.

That app is now gone from my list and eventually I'll figure out how to remove that cookie, or whatever, from my PC. It isn't that serious a problem. What they call a "first world problem."

Facebook privacy isn't a big worry of mine as I use that vehicle to literally "broadcast" my writing and photography. Things that seem to play well on the interactive environment of Facebook then go to this blog which also appears on Google Plus. Facebook is where my trial balloons go and then a few things get archived here or in my Flickr albums.

Google Plus does have a less commercially cluttered wall, but far less interaction, in my case. It can be a lonely world out there. Then there's also Ello which I signed up to a few years back to try it out. For some reason I haven't taken the time to go back. Eventually I may. Warning: it keeps sending me promo emails.