Thursday, July 31, 2008

Old signs painted on side of building

Side of restored Hotel Laube on State St. in Bellingham. Building now used for affordable housing. View from alley between State and Forest. Chew Star Tobacco, notice, Coca Cola must have been painted later.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Biked to political discussion

July 23 I biked to a house near the corner of Noon and Smith Roads to a political discussion in someone's living room. Mount Baker was out and the air felt fresh.

Event was an LGBT (lesbian, gay bisexual, trans gender) gathering to meet Mark Flanders who's running for Washington State Legislature in the 42nd district. Mark seems like a really good candidate who is willing to discuss the issues and listen to ideas of people from many walks in life. Kelli Linville was at the discussion also.

There didn't happen to be a huge turnout, but enough. More time to explore topics in depth. Discussion went way beyond just so called LGBT issues to many things. Population growth, planning, peak oil, visioning what Whatcom County will look like in 50 years.

I don't even live in the 42nd district. I live near the line between 42nd and 40th, but it was well worth going out for an interesting discussion. Also a nice bike ride.

Exercise for both the mind and body.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A little bit more peaceful

In the past few months, I have noticed slightly less car traffic and a bit less noise. A few more bicycles. Higher gas prices, a blessing in disguise.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

My friend Whoretense pictured in Faces of Bellingham

At Bellingham GLBTQ Pride Parade 2008. Pictured in Faces Of Bellingham.

Whoretense turned out great that day of the parade.

Ignition Fire Troop that preformed at festival.

52 sec.

See my My parade and festival pictures on Flickr.
Also past years and more info.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Why there aren't a lot of foreclosures around me. My perception

Seems like there's not very many "working first time home buyers" in Bellingham. Working people are more likely to be renters.

As for the homeowners, a large percentage may not even owe mortgages. Sometimes they payed for their house by just getting out the checkbook and writing a check. $400,000. Just write a check. They sold their house someplace else. In some cases, they inherited the money.

Yes, there's a disconnect between working people and the housing market. It's especially visible here.

Housing market seems like an escalator without the beginning rungs. If you got on it a long time ago when the lower rungs were there, you rode up with inflation. Now it seems like the lower rungs are out of reach for most working people.

Seems like there aren't many first time working home buyers in this area. Those are the ones likely to be on the precarious edge of foreclosure.

In some other areas of USA, the percentage of working home buyers seems higher.

Bellingham is often said to offer nothing much in the way of "career jobs." Nothing much outside of educational institutions who can't employ all their own graduates.

Local people are often students or retired.

Working people tend to be in the low wage service economy and don't try to buy, unless they've already been on that escalator for quite a while.

Ironically, this might mean less of a foreclosure problem.

Living can be fun anyway as money isn't everything.

Watch skate borders roll down Holly Street.

Then again, there can be foreclosure from people borrowing on their home equity. Trying to live off the vast amount of money they thought they had from selling a house. They're trying to start a business, or something. After that money runs out and the business doesn't really get off the ground, watch out. Trouble.

Are there more entrepreneurial business dreams in Bellingham than there are paying customers?

Should the vast supply of local massage therapists just give each other massages and not worry about money?

Yes, there is a disconnect between home values and wages. It's particularly evident here.

Now, thinking about the bigger picture, say the federal government decides to do big bailouts of various banks and bailout home buyers on the precarious edge.

I would guess, mass inflation would result.

Maybe it's better to just let home values fall till workers can afford to enter the housing market. Sure, a lot of folks are being shaken out of the market, but home prices have been too high. Many of these people just "got in" on too much optimism and deceptive lending practices from banks.

To do the bailout, government would have to borrow like mad. Borrow even more than it's borrowing now and it's like mad now.

Does that mean Federal Reserve just prints up the money?

Where does all that money come from? It seems that the government never has problems finding money to borrow.

Often I'm left scratching my head when I ponder the economy. Maybe the printing presses at the Federal Reserve just roll.

That means lots of dollars in circulation.


I assume eventually wages go up with inflation.

Imagine; bottom of the wage range being $35 per hour.

It's just the rest of the economy catching up with astronomical home values.

A candy bar for $10?

Then working people who are first time home buyers could afford houses again.

Either houses have to drop in value, or wages have to go way up for this large segment of our population to afford buying.

The home value escalator gets it's bottom rungs again? Economy back in balance? If the economy is ever in balance.

It's just money. It's just numbers.

Eventually we'll just retire the penny. Retire the nickle too. Make dimes the bottom rung. They're smallest in actual size anyway.

Just put another zero left of the decimal point and every thing's cool.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Real estate inflation can cause traffic when land for road building costs more

I keep hearing ads on radio from a group called Changepac in Olympia. Blaming Governor Gregoire for traffic remaining bad while gas taxes have gone up. They ask, "where is the money going?"

Well, costs of road building keeps going up. Land is now so expensive (look at the median price of a single family home in King County), it must cost a fortune to add more lanes to freeways.

Single occupancy automobile travel takes a lot of space.

No, I don't think you can blame the governor for that.

Population keeps growing, land, concrete, steel, asphalt costs keep going up. You get the idea.

There are many projects under construction or recently completed anyway, so I hear. For instance the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

Yes, it is time for a change, but not a change in the governor. Public transit can use the expensive space we have more effectively.

It's people that are the problem. Too many people. People want to have their cake and eat it too. Low taxes, but still expect top dollar when a new highway project condemns one's home.

Also people who expect everything to work, like it sort of did back in the 1950s.

Who's to blame?


I hear that when I-5 was built through Seattle, the city actually lost population from all the houses they bulldozed down in it's path. Back then, you could buy up houses for less.

When land was cheap, maybe you could "build your way out of congestion." Now it's more difficult.

That's where the money is going.

I doubt changing the governor would make much difference.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Pride Parade and Festival was great

Stay tuned for more pictures.

Event was sponsored by many organizations, businesses and individuals including Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays P-FLAG.

1 min.

A friend across USA wanted to see me dancing, so I set my camera on a table at Rumor's Cabaret and pushed the button. This was during Bellingham Pride Festival 2008 before the bigger crowds came in to the dance floor. It was a fun day.

Before Pride, I was one of 3 people interviewed on KGMI Radio's PM Bellingham show. The interview was about 1/2 hour. Others were Betty Desire, of course, and Nick Milhoan from Whatcom PFLAG.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Cyclists yield to nudists, doctored sign

Someone must have doctored this sign that I saw along a bike path near the False Creek area as I was biking into Vancouver last weekend. I don't even think there's a nude beach in that area. Must be a story behind this, but who knows.

More images from my bike ride / Skytrain trip to Vancouver in future posts.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Survivalist food store, could be a sitting duck. Mobility might be a better survival skill

Since seventh grade, I've heard about the pending doom of civilization. Stock market volatility, gas prices rising, planets aligning.

40 years ago, a seventh grade classmate was learning edible plants in preparation for his escape to the forest.

Problem is, if everyone gets that idea, the forests will be trampled by all the new "survivalist campers." Edible plants will have been eaten.

Fast forward 40 years. Another friend suggests growing a garden and storing food. Storing lots of food.

Then he says, "keep it safe from the rats and the thieves."

Yes, the thieves. If civilization breaks down, thieves could be everywhere.

But I say, a "fortress food store" could be "sitting duck."

Here's another strategy for survival.


Yes, mobility and agility.

Being able to move at moment's notice. I don't have much space to store food in my rented room, but I've got well over 100 supermarkets and restaurants within an easy bike ride, or even walk from my home.

Survival might mean being agile and traveling to the places where fragments of civilization still reside. Some supermarket with auxiliary power, for instance. This could be running as a community food bank.

I don't think civilization is likely to totally crumble in my lifetime. It's been on the verge of that since at least my childhood. Hasn't happened yet.

"Community" does offer a lot of redundancy, diversity, resiliency and flexibility.

It's kind of like the insurance company model. Spread and diversify risk.

With hundreds of supermarkets and eateries close by, there's a lot of backup. Some will close, but others will figure something out.

Thieves and rats cold hit some food stores while others remain available. If you are relying on just your own basement pantry for survival, wouldn't you know, that's bound to be the one destroyed.

There are hundreds of different kinds of businesses within nearly a stone's throw of my place. Mobility, diversity and adaptability can be the key to survival if, as they say, "the shit ever hits the fan."

A future of fortified homes with shotguns and people living off canned goods in the basement might not be worth living for anyway. Maybe it would be exciting and cozy for a few days, like being snowed in, but that would get boring after while.

Flexibility, and getting around by bicycle, without much to carry; that's a survival skill; especially in this age of rising gas prices.

I've always biked, never driven my whole life.

For us aging "post war baby boomers," food isn't really the big worry. The worry is more likely to be health care.

Yes, health care.

If civilization ever does crumble, it will be just in time for us to need nursing home care and stuff like that.

Wouldn't you know, the timing is perfect. Like bread always falling with the butter side down. A lot of us are retiring just in time for Medicare to go bankrupt. That is, of course, unless they fix it. Maybe I should say "we fix it."

I'm confident that innovations can fix things. Even fix things like the "Rube Goldberg duct tape and bailing wire" health care system of the US.

Meanwhile, bicycling can postpone those health issues, for a while at least.

So far, everyone eventually passes from this life anyway.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Fires in California and elsewhere

I don't normally blame all the odd weather on global warming. Weather varies a lot anyway while global warming is a long term trend.

Still, I keep reading that US southwest is predicted to get dryer in most models related to global warming. Seems like more often than not, they're talking drier than normal down there.

Up here as well, but maybe not as pronounced.

Drier weather.

Also, so many people moving out into forested areas.

Population growth / people trying to escape cities.

More houses in fire's path. Also more things to start fires, like yard waste burning and getting out of control.

Living in a concrete jungle, such as the "city" has some advantages. Concrete isn't as flammable.

In 2006, also some years before that, I biked through Big Sur where a lot of the fires are being reported in the news. It was a nice area.


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Generation of lost opportunity?

Article on Live Science indicates happiness is gradually on the increase worldwide, but figures for USA could be brought down by post war baby boomers.

Baby boomers are generally more miserable than other generations, but the difference may be so slight that it's not worth noting. A survey released June 25 from Pew Research Center shows boomers rate their lives on a scale of 1 to 10 at a 6.2. People over 62 years of age averaged out at 6.7 while the 18 to 41 age group rated 6.5.

6.2 for the boomers (age 44 to 62) is the lowest value in this satisfaction measure, but it could be an insignificant finding, or close to the margin of statistical error.

Still, it looks like the whole world is getting slightly happier. That counters many folks who think things are getting rougher. Maybe the world isn't "all going to hell in a hand basket."

Excerpting from article:

"It's a surprising finding," said University of Michigan political scientist Ronald Inglehart, who headed up the survey. "It's widely believed that it's almost impossible to raise an entire country's happiness level."

Denmark is the happiest nation and Zimbabwe the most glum, he found.

The United States ranks 16th.

The results of the survey, going back an average of 17 years in 52 countries and involving 350,000 people, will be published in the July 2008 issue of the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science. Researchers have asked the same two questions over the years: "Taking all things together, would you say you are very happy, rather happy, not very happy, not at all happy?" And, "All things considered, how satisfied are you with your life as a whole these days?"

A Happiness Index created from the answers rose in 40 countries between 1981 and 2007, and it fell in the other 12.

Scientists had thought happiness is stable over time when looking at entire societies." "Most previous research suggests that people and nations are stuck on a 'hedonic treadmill,'" Inglehart said. "The belief has been that no matter what happens or what we do, basic happiness levels are stable and don't really change."

So Inglehart's team was surprised that happiness "rose substantially." They speculate reasons for the sunny outlooks include societal shifts in recent decades: Low-income countries such as India and China have experienced unprecedented rates of economic growth; dozens of medium-income countries have democratized; and there has been a sharp rise of gender equality and tolerance of ethnic minorities and gays and lesbians in developed societies.

Previous research has found that happiness is partly inherited and that money doesn't buy much of it.

Yet the new survey finds people of rich countries tend to be happier than those of poor countries. And controlling for economic factors, certain types of societies are much happier than others.

"The results clearly show that the happiest societies are those that allow people the freedom to choose how to live their lives," Inglehart said.

A survey released last week found one reason America doesn't top the list: Baby Boomers are generally miserable compared to other generations.

So, I wonder what's wrong with us baby boomers?

Volumes of research and speculation must be out there, but here's my take.

Lost opportunity.

A big part of the baby boom generation started making news with promises for counter-culture. Being less materialistic, freer love, peace, environmentalism.

Well, it kind of sold out. Some of that idealism died in drugs and alcoholism. Other trends succumbed to yuppyism and the rising cost of living.

Still there is some of what once was called Aquarian conspiracy that's been integrated into mainstream society.

I even remember a book sometime back in the 1980s about Aquarian Conspiracy.

Things have stepped forward on stuff like gay rights and green technology, but expectations are high. Expectations often remain way out ahead of social realities. When that's the case, it seems like fertile ground for disappointment.

Still, the difference between 6.2 and even 6.7 rating for happiness isn't a giant chasm. It looks like post war is almost as happy as other generations.

We can hang in there as the world slowly improves. That is if greed and overpopulation doesn't destroy it first.

In my next life, after I'm reincarnated in some form, they will have finished that bicycle trail all the way from Bellingham to Mount Baker. It will be more peaceful than the traffic world of Mount Baker Highway. Still, Mount Baker Highway is tolerable for the most part. It's probably an improvement over being thrown from one's horse after she stumbled in a rut on some wagon road.