Tuesday, July 26, 2005

1965 or 66 view from Streit Perham dorms

Out over my paper route in the shadow of a university

View out over my childhood neighborhood in Pullman, WA. This image was taken by my older brother sometime in the mid 1960s. From a nearby dormitory. He recently shared some of his old slides.

I grew up in a college town. A compact little town of neighborhoods, sidewalks and back fences. Hardly any sprawl. There were tall buildings at the university that sprang up practically next to thousand acre ranches. One could really tell when one was "out of town."

The area shown was basically my "paper route."

Large Castile like structure in upper left is the Theta Ki Fraternity. It was on my route for a while.

One time as I went to collect the bill, it's halls were ankle deep in leaves. Leaf rakers were doing a "frat house prank."

Struggling for 2 and 1/2 years, I eventually gave up the paper route in 8th grade. Hardly made any money at it, but I wasn't a very good book keeper. I didn't keep the route book up to date and ended up delivering papers after people had dropped subscriptions and moved.

I fantasized that my little route would be the start of some big "communications enterprise" in my adult life. Little did I know said "communications empire" would be a web page.

Hardly an enterprise. It still doesn't make much money, but money isn't everything. I am not really that motivated by money.
 Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 22, 2005

Gay Marriage Legal In Canada

Congratulations to Canada. Some conservatives fear that allowing gay marriage will lead to the breakdown of the family and society. So maybe Canada can be seen as an experiment. People have often called "democracy" and experiment anyway. One often talks about the "great American experiment."

So the experiment is running. We'll see if Canadian society breaks down. My bet is, Canada will do very well. Canada is also an experiment in something called "multiculturalism." All these different ethnic groups, religions, lifestyles attempting to live together in a civil society. There are some rough spots, but Canada seems a lot more civil than most places. Less violence than even here in USA.

Congratulations for being willing to experiment. Nothing wrong with that. Experimentation can be good. Remember; USA is often called the great experiment. In this case, the Canadians have us beat.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Scandals in Bush administration or where ever

Scandal news has now become background noise. When people say, "all politicians are crooks anyway," another scandal just becomes, "what else is new?"

But, be careful with cynicism, it can become like crying wolf.

I remember Watergate breaking new ground. A mood of trust in our public officials was breached.

Now there is less trust to breach.

Watergate was a watershed.

Since then, scandal after scandal has washed in. We are even unearthing affairs during the Kennedy years and (using genetic science) learning of Jefferson and a slave.

Ironically, the more vigilant we get about scandals, the more they are like background noise.

Then it becomes harder to make a big deal out of scandals or do anything about them.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Is it time to develop a car free subdivision?

Traffic calming circle near St. Joe's Hospital.

Is this a golden opportunity for some developer to plan a car free neighborhood in Bellingham, WA.?

Demand for residential real estate is at an all time high. People are concerned about traffic from new development. Even the mayor recently said,

"When people complain about growth, the're usually not talking about people." "What they are talking about is cars."
July 1 Herald.

I say, if a subdivision was planned for folks who don't want to drive, it would still sell in a hot market. That's my guess at least.

Just say "no" to the automobile.

Turn the streets over to people, bicycles, public transit, emergency vehicles and, maybe, deliveries.

Why not?

The market is selling so fast, even this "perceived inconvenience" wouldn't stop it.

If the real estate market was almost dead, it would be another story, but this market has plenty of "give" to it.

Of course the city would have to make some changes also. Zoning that requires parking would have to be waved, changed or worked around.

It's something to think about.

Is this a radicle idea?

Not really.

Bellingham already has one neighborhood where automobiles are highly restricted. Can you guess where that is?

It's Western Washington University.

Much of the campus is "roadless." It's a roadless area.

Like wilderness?

Not unless one is thinking of wild parties at the dorms.

Much of the campus is pedestrian plazas. There are some buildings you can't drive to.

High Street, which runs in front of the Viking Union, is blocked off during the day. Turned over to pedestrians, bicycles, transit, emergency vehicles, deliveries.

Parking isn't that easy to find on campus, but there are a lot of bike racks and Western enjoys the most frequent bus service of any area in Bellingham; except for the transit terminal that is downtown.

Western is hard to negotiate by car but it remains a popular place. So popular that an enrollment ceiling must be imposed.

Limited state funding, rather than anti growth sentiment, brings the ceiling, but lack of roads hasn't killed Western.

Some say this will work for young students, but older people must have cars.

I don't know about that. Many friends in my age range (around 50) still bike over mountain passes. Also there is the bus.

Another "less car" kind of planning has come to our city as well.

Some areas near downtown allow apartments to be built with less parking required than before.

Less parking per unit.

This is a new zone designed to help preserve historic buildings and promote living with less cars.

Some people gripe that these developments are causing "overflow parking" along nearby streets. They also gripe about overflow parking from Western.

I guess people never stop complaining.

Maybe these folks should just stop driving if they are going to complain about traffic.

Are you part of "traffic?"

I live on a busy downtown street and don't really notice whether people are parking or not.

They've always parked here.

I haven't noticed any difference since new apartment buildings were built nearby.

Of course retailers tend to complain if they think there isn't enough parking in an area.

Maybe someday retailing can kick the car addiction also.

It seems like nothing will keep houses from selling, but retailing is a different story. Competition for retail customers is fierce in this city. Parking might be harder to do without.

The housing market is hotter than the hamburger market. They've built so many restaurants.

Someday, even retailing can kick the car habit. Especially in areas of high pedestrian concentration, but for now, someone could propose a car free residential area, at least.

If people will pay a fortune for cracker box houses, maybe they will do with out cars. They're that desperate to live here and maybe they'll discover they can do it.
 Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 07, 2005

You sat in a logging truck on Earth Day?

A friend of mine didn't think that was "the politically correct" thing to do on Earth Day. He was kind of horrified, but I forgot it was Earth Day.

Senator Gaylord Nelson, credited for founding the day, passed away July 3 so lots of stories are being told. My story is about sitting in a logging truck on that day in 1991, and I don't even drive.

It was a bike ride to the Skagit Valley Tulips fields. A one day fitness class from the YMCA.

After peddling around in the tulips, I suggested dropping by the headquarters of Paccar International. Paccar was having an open house. Other class members liked the idea.

Often wondering what Paccar did, the open house would be an opportunity to find out.

It tests trucks, big ones.

We dropped in for the tour, free cookies also. It was another happening at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.

Paccar puts big trucks through the tests. Shakes them on hydraulic shakers, runs them around a track, puts all kinds of sensors in them.

Tour ended in the garage. A room full of trucks. Logging trucks, tractor trailers. Lots of trucks on display.

People were invited to climb into the cabs, look around, even honk the horn. Kids loved it.

I climbed into a logging truck even though I've never even driven a car. It felt powerful and yes the horn worked.

Then it was back to our bicycles for the trip to Bellingham where I got a phone call from a friend.

"What did you do today?" he ask. He was horrified and reminded me that this was Earth Day.

To me, it wasn't that inconsistent to be sitting in a logging truck. Earth Day was a great idea, but it's also symbolic. The one day each year that people think about environmentalism. Railing against logging trucks is another symbolic thing.

The true problem is consumptive lifestyles and overpopulation the rest of the year.

People who live in wooden houses, use paper products, depend on our economy might be able to appease their guilt by lashing out at the logging industry. It can be railed against, pushed out of sight, pushed overseas, but still exists as long as its products are in demand.

There is also the concept of "responsible logging." Yes, that industry is part of our lives, but (like so many things) dialog can be used to make it more responsible. That same dialog applies to our personal lives which create the need for the industries. Even though I had forgotten that it was Earth Day, I did spend the day bicycling. The bike trip was a great way to celebrate that day.

Some of the staff out at Paccar was impressed. They said, "you biked all the way here?" "Didn't know it could be so fun."

Liberate those loggers from their workaholic loads. Let's all work "part time." That's responsible stewardship of the environment. Just log part time for sustainable yield.

Picture: Display in Starker Demonstration Forest near Corvallis, Oregon. Seen on my 2004 bike tour. Posted by Picasa

Monday, July 04, 2005

Fireworks over old Yeager's warehouse building in Bellingham

Seen from many parts of the city. One year, fireworks could be viewed above old Yeager's warehouse building. A few years later, that building burned for an unrelated reason.

On another note: Congratulations to NASA for the smashing success of Deep Impact mission to that comet.
 Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Reflecting in old telescope mirror.

Reflecting in old telescope mirror. Taking picture of myself with a flash. Image from 1996 bicycle trip to Victoria, BC. Museum at base of Dominion Astrophysical Observatory.

What's Inside a Comet?

10:52 PM Pacific Daylight Time July 3 (+ or - 3 minutes), if all goes as planned. A probe from Deep Impact spacecraft smashes into comet Tempel 1 to kick up dust. Then the spacecraft can get a look at what kind of material is "deeper down" inside the head of a comet.

Tempel 1 is also being monitored by observatories around Earth such as the Hubble Space Telescope. Hopefully it will be a very educational blast. Learning more about comets may teach us about the first dust clouds that formed our solar system. Questioning more about creation, which to a large extent, we don't have a clue about still.

There's also, supposedly, the big bang which created this universe and many questions about how order and life evolved on our planet. Questions as to whether something like life exists elsewhere in the universe.

Religious dogmatists have thought they knew the answers to these questions for thousands of years. Many of them act like "know it alls" fighting over who's dogma is correct. Is it Islam, Christianity, Voodoo? Which interpretation?

Fighting over different religions, there are often blasts of another kind, car bombs, or bombing raids from military aircraft.

Religious dogmatists often repress those who offer new information, persecuting Galileo for instance. They thought they "knew it all" when the Sun went around the Earth.

In past times, comets could mean great fear. Signs from an angry god.

But, what about bothering to ask God? Not presuming we know it all. Not even knowing if God exists, or how do we define "God?"

Admitting that there are still more questions than answers can be seen as a sign of weakness, in the eyes of machismo warriors.

Questioning can also be seen as a sign of modesty, humbleness; true virtues.

It seems like scientists tend to be humble. Willing to question. To dialog. Scientists often using phrases like, "We need to go back to the drawing board." "Rewriting our understanding of..."

Asking the questions and not claiming to know all the answers yet. That is a quest which is pursued by scientists, among others.

Putting aside all the energy we spend on wars, arguing over who's right. Some folks are actually bothering to ask, "what's out there in the universe?"

If the deep impact succeeds it can be a blast. This blast for peaceful questioning of the cosmos.
 Posted by Picasa