Saturday, August 30, 2008

Will children have to pay back the debt?

When Regan was president, the federal debt grew to huge proportions. People kept saying, "our kids will be saddled with a huge debt."

Well now, a lot of those kids are adults. Kids of the Regan era are now grownups.

Are they having to pay back the debt?

Doesn't look like it. Debt is still growing.

This makes me suspicious. Will the debt ever need to be repaid?

Seems like people always say the children will have to pay it, but when those children grow up, the debt just keeps growing.

Wonder if it will ever need to be re payed?

Debt is the path of least resistance for the Federal Government since either raising taxes or cutting the budget causes an outrage.

People say, "don't raise my taxes," but they also say, "don't cut veteran's benefits," for instance.

Going into debt seems to be the path of least resistance. Seems like there's no consequences to running the federal deficit.

People have said that interest rates rise when the federal government eats up capital with deficit spending. I'm suspicious again. During GW Bush's big deficits, interest rates have been low. So low that the real estate bubble resulted.

Maybe they never have to pay off the debt. It doesn't even raise interest rates.

Just get the federal Reserve to print money; I guess. Only consequence is inflation from more dollars in circulation.

Interesting to note that until just this last year, inflation seemed to be only rampant in a few sectors.

Real estate values and health care, for instance.

In other sectors, inflation has been moderate. Other sectors such as food and consumer goods.

That's been up until this past year. Now things are changing again as energy costs rise.

* I'm still on my summer trips. This was posted from WIFI in a Portland, Oregon hotel room. Stay tuned for more trip details and photos. Hello from Oregon on this Labor Day weekend.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A trip through the mainland to the ferry dock could be the best part of biking Orcas Island

Just got back from the second of my small bike trips. Orcas Island via Anacortes and Skagit Valley.

Most of the charm was getting there on some quiet roads through Edison and Bayview State Park. Above picture taken from Padilla Bay bike trail has everything from a blue heron to the Anacortes Refinery.

The Journey is really the destination.

Several bakeries in tiny Edison offered nice smells and treats.

Old boats just sitting in the tiny Samish River.

More pictures below.

Pedaling through Skagit was nicer than the "destination" Orcas Island, itself. Roads on the island are kind of narrow and busier. I've noticed this, when I go to the Island. Yes, San Juan Islands are considered a bicycle destination, but really, some of the mainland is better.

Many bicyclists go to Lopez, rather than Orcas. It's flatter and more rural, but there doesn't seem to be many attractions there. Just riding around, which I do all the time anyway.

Orcas is OK; just a bit hectic.

One of my favorite attractions has been the Doe Bay Resort, on Orcas, with it's clothing optional hot tubs.

Haven't been there for a while, but paid a visit. Over the years, Doe Bay has gradually evolved to a bit tidier, but more expensive place. The clientele seems to have changed at the tubs, but it's still the home of friendly conversation. I used to enjoy the young hippie kind of energy that was there. Now that it's gotten more expensive, it seems to be drawing an older and more financially established crowd. One might be more apt to run into brokers than traveling folks right out of college. Still, I had a good time, but it's not what it was in years past. Tubs are lined with a more comfortable surface that looks like slate. The deck is a lot wider and more comfortable and most of the people are a bit wider as well.

Coming back on the ferry, one gets a better view of Mount Baker (if it isn't cloudy) than from Bellingham. At least with a zoom lens.

Of course, I don't want to attract too many people, and cars, with images of Mount Baker like you'd find in coffee table books. Riding past the oil refineries of Anacortes also offered some interesting images.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ice caves at Big Four

I'm standing near this natural air conditioner.

Melting snow.

The Big Four Ice Caves is basically a pile of snow and ice that falls down from Big Four Mountain during colder months. At this lower elevation, the snow accumulation melts forming lots of little caves.

I just stood near the mouth of one. It's not safe to go in, unless you want chunks to fall on your head. Possibly big chunks. Killer chunks.

It's a nice two day bike trip from Bellingham. I'm taking several short trips in this area for my vacation. Bicycle trips, as usual for me.

People walk on the snow, but it's considered dangerous also. Could fall in a cave.

Water drops down into top of snow pile and disappears.

What happens to the water?

It must soak into gravel and reemerge as springs farther down the trail.

Looks like something disturbed the forest and smashed the walkway.


Big Four is located around 30 miles east of Granite Falls on the Mountain Loop Highway.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Throwing down the bronze

I wanted the gold said Ara Abrahamiam as he threw down the bronze medal awarded during 2008 Olympics in Beijing. 2nd best, 3rd best, not enough. The bar, and expectations have gotten so high.

That's the problem with high stakes sports. Probably the rest of us are all losers since most wouldn't even qualify for the Olympics.

We're "over the hill." If you don't start training insanely at age 10, being in the Olympics is probably a pipe dream.

That would make a good book title.

"Over The Hill at Ten."

It's time to slow down a bit and enjoy the often overlooked pleasures of life.

Someone told me that Michael Phelps (US swimmer) started training at age 7. Did he have time for a childhood?

That someone also said he sure has a sexy body. I hadn't noticed yet. I don't have a TV. I do notice lots of sexy bodies around town. Just in the supermarket, parks, post office line. This is a college town.

People say that watching pornography is like unrequited love. Often overweight older men watching young studs.

That's OK if watching the Olympics is OK.

Sitting in front of the media, with no hope to actually participate.

What ever floats you're boat.

At the risk of being "second rate," I'll go out and ride my bike. No medals expected, but there might be some cute college studs to swim among out at the lake.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Does vacation have to prove or accomplish something?

And it's tempting to thumb my nose at news headlines saying Americans are taking shorter trips due to gas prices. Since I bicycle, my trip could be as long as ever. Still, I'm thinking of staying closer to home also. There is so much in this area, with-in maybe a 300 mile radius, that I normally don't have time to see.

Photo shows cool bike trail along Padden Creek in Bellingham. Old sandstone remnants of water system. Many don't discover these gems when they just fly over things or stick to the freeway.

For longer trips, I usually take the train back home from anyway. Amtrak prices have probably gone up, but not too bad. Main problem, I've run out of places that interest me with easy train connections back home.

How many times should I go down California Coast? So far, this lifetime, 5 times.

Biking east across USA takes at least 2 months. I usually only get around 5 weeks. Maybe some year, I'll add more leave of absence to vacation. 5 weeks might get me just past North Dakota and I'd have to take the train back just before the interesting part of the eastern states.

How many times should I visit Eastern Washington?

Some people suggest Colorado, but taking the train there means going to California first. Train doesn't do the diagonal.

Maybe the Amtrak ThruWay bus does.

There's always flying. People say it's an ordeal. My last flight was early 1980s, well before 911. Such a small plane that every seat was a window seat.

It was fun. The view, fantastic, but short lived.

Maybe flying is still OK. Shipping my bike and all of that. Takes some logistics. I'm supposed to be on vacation.

There's a lot of smaller trips around here to interesting cities, hot tubs, bike trails around places like Vancouver, BC, Seattle, Portland, Oregon, San Juan Islands, Olympic Peninsula. May even take train as far as Eugene. Also I plan to pass through Bellingham a few times and then head out again. Sleep in my own bed, rather than being away for several weeks solid.

Yesterday, I watched them tear down an old building to make way for mixed income housing. The old Walton Beverage Warehouse.

Some people are sad to see it go. Relic of an era when buildings weren't trying to be pretty.

I stopped and watched for quite a while. Also ate some blackberries that were growing through the fence. Glad I wasn't too busy. An interesting "happening" to stumble upon.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Wade King Elementary school looks like it's cutting it's way into the forest

From Yew Street Road, it looks like the new Wade King Elementary is pushing it's way into the mountains. New schools accommodating our growing city.

Monday, August 04, 2008

People can eat longer than they can drive cheap, there's still oil in the Bakken Shale. It's just a bit more expensive

If housing and other things can be real expensive, so can energy.

Biking through North Dakota in 1998, I passed quite a few oil wells in the hay fields.

I also have a picture of an oil well, but that's from Wyoming. My 1991 trip.

While offshore drilling and Alaska's Anwar are being debated, quite a few people don't even think about North Dakota. Where's that? Who's ever heard of Williston or Lake Sakakawea?

I hear there's an oil boom going on in that area. Even this article, from 2 years ago, explains things.

Supposedly, there could be lots of oil there. Some other articles have even suggested oil comparable to the reserves of Saudi Arabia. It's just more expensive to extract, but at over $100 per barrel it might be doable.

New technology, such as sideways drilling into the Bakken Shale.


It isn't strip mining. Just letting it drip out, I guess.

Reassuring news, in some ways.

At least we aren't likely to starve. There's still oil for agriculture and trucking. It just gets expensive. We can still eat.

What's hit harder than eating is driving; especially long distance commuting.

In the cost of food, "energy" is just one of several expense items. In driving, it's "the elephant in the room."

With shorter commutes, even driving might still be affordable.

I've never driven though. Bicycling really shines these days.

Living in town helps. I hope living in town remains affordable. Pretty soon, a lot more people may want to move to town.

I do bike long distances, but it takes time. My lifestyle in the slow lane. An "alternative lifestyle."

In 1998, I biked through Williston, ND. and had lunch at Lake Sakakawea. Out in the grasslands. I was on my way from Bellingham, Washington to the Great Lakes. Took 2 months and I came back on Amtrak.

The world was a bit different then. Oil prices were really low. Low compared to other things in our economy. China was still a big consumer, but less of a consumer than it is now.

1 billion 3 hundred million people makes a difference.

In the late 1990s, Asian stock markets tumbled. Those economies slowed down and oil demand dropped. This freed up lots of oil for the West.

Energy was cheap and much of America was booming. Not the North Dakota oil country, however. It felt kind of quiet, like a back water.

Meditative however.

Miles of hay fields. Not a lot of human excitement.

Don't need to pay $400 for some Buddhist "quiet the soul" workshop. Just bike across miles of hay fields.

Meanwhile other parts of USA were almost exploding. Real estate was going up out of sight. The dot com bubble was growing.

Places like Santa Cruz, California were getting expensive. Rents and house values were skyrocketing. Pushing poor working souls farther out into the boonies.

Longer commutes, but gas was cheap.

"Drive till you qualify."


Energy complacency.

Of course Americans didn't really address the energy issue back then. It was "back burner."

Most of us somehow survived spiraling health care and housing costs.

Now it's energy's turn.

I'm not necessarily for or against drilling. I just keep biking. People have to do what they have to do.

Now the news is full of our presidential candidates who have stances that evolve with time.

That's OK.

Both McCain and Obama starting to see the need for some offshore drilling.

North Dakota also, I guess.

Obama talks about the need to transition into cleaner energy sources. Transition toward more renewable energy. Solar power. Wind.

Here's even a picture of a wind mill somewhere in North Dakota, but wind power is a different kind of windmill.

Campaign strategies must now be saying, "oil is still needed to transition us to better futures."

For the long view, McCain is a big advocate of "non greenhouse gas emitting" nuclear power.

I'm still for Obama, but "nuclear" might be needed as well.

Also windmills, solar panels, my bicycling lifestyle and a lot of other things.

Other parts of the economy have boomed and gotten pricey. Now it's energy's turn.

You say, what about oil company profits?

Well, maybe they'll invest them in a variety of energy sources. Sideways drilling. Even solar power. Can get expensive.

If houses can be so expensive in places like Santa Cruz, CA., I guess energy costs something also.