Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Green light for bicycling into the new year

Lights in the spokes of my bike for safety and festivity.

Biking around town slow enough to appreciate the color.

Closeup of storefront Christmas tree in Fairhaven district.

Happy New Year

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Less clutter for the new year

My bank now offers the option to receive it's monthly statements on-line. I take it. Less paper to clutter my small room.

A PDF file, or something like that to neatly archive into one of the folders on my drive, taking up mere molecules of space. This helps for living in a "small footprint place."

It's not a "paper trail," but I trust the system is still transparent and accountable. After all, it's just money anyway. Maybe I should be more worried. Money is one of America's Gods. Still, what's a little money?

So far, I've never had any problem with bank inaccuracies. Of course, maybe I'm not paying enough attention. I don't always read the mass of paper that's been burping out of the financial institutions, mutual funds, insurance companies and so forth I deal with. It's kind of mundane and the type is a bit too small.

Grey type isn't that motivating. Maybe they should sprinkle a few shirtless "college boy bank tellers" into the statement.

And I don't have that much money anyway. Just a dab, here and a dab there. Not like owning a quarter million dollar Bellingham home.

Hope all the financial institutions I deal with can go just about paperless in the next while. This pile is headed off to recycling. It's from just a few months.

I could use the space.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Facebook helps me work around a communication handicap

I have a lot of information stored away in my mind, but retrieval tends to be slow. I'm sort of a Slowlane kind of guy. This can be a handicap in fast talking social situations where it takes me a while to catch on what's being said. Often I think of the best response about 15 minutes after some one's comment, long after the conversation has veered to other topics.

In the world of fast moving sound bytes, I'm lost. Recognizing the lyrics of most songs, I'm lost. Fast moving facial inflections and knowing when to bat the eyes is a total mystery to me.

So Facebook comes to the rescue.

In Facebook, I can see people's comments and think about what to say, or whether to respond at all. The blinking cursor can be very forgiving. If it takes a while to formulate a thought, the cursor just sits and waits patiently. As I'm thinking, the cursor doesn't suddenly find that it's cell phone is ringing and duck out of the conversation.

Yes, Facebook and other Internet vehicles, such as email, are "talking to machines," but it's really talking to people at the other end of the machines. It's slowing down the social interaction enough to give someone like me time to come up with a useful response.

Back in the early 1980s, I remember going to an exhibit at Pacific Science Center in Seattle about computers and the handicap population. TTY for the hearing impaired and so forth. It was crude compared to today's technology, but still quite interesting and potentially liberating for many.

My slight mental handicap has sometimes been described as a form of asperger syndrome. The mind functions, but misses a lot of things in a fast paced environment.

That doesn't mean I don't get out and meet people face to face as well. Many would say "face to face is better than Facebook." Bellingham has a lot of community gathering places near where I live; for instance, conversation at the YMCA sauna is often quite focused and intelligent. A bit slower and more intellectual than, say, fast moving gossip at local bars. Try listening to conversation over blaring techno music.

In many face to face discussions, it can be hard to get a word in edgewise. This can even happen at the Y sometimes especially when one or more real talkative folks tend to dominate. There are ways to work around that problem on Facebook and other on-line environments.

Remember, sometimes talking through the machines helps us organize our interaction with other people.

I feel blessed to have a lot of both on-line and "real world face to face" conversation. The slower, more deliberate talking or writing works better for me.

I don't have a TV, so when I see television in places like motel rooms, it amazes me. Information moves so fast and the world becomes totally fragmented into sound byte segments. This must influence the way a lot of people relate to their friends.

One's stomach can be turning as the TV describes a graphic murder; blood splattered on the wall and then, with snap of the finger it's on to "how's the Seahawks doing?

If I do watch TV, I tend to gravitate toward slower and more focused outlets like the National Geographic Channel, C-span or a local community's public access channel.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas, that house glows again

I blogged about a Bellingham house on December 31 2006. Glowing again this year in LED splendor. I captured just a slightly different perspective.

Maybe the house isn't that great, but it's noticeable at least. Depends on your tastes. See my blog posts on Christmas and scroll past house to rest of posts about Christmas subject if you wish, or more likely if you got the time. It's rush, rush time for some folks at least.

I haven't rushed to my home town where my two sisters reside just to do the one day called Christmas. How much time do we get off work?

Still, my sisters inadvertently gave the gift of their polyphonic voices on my answering machine. Both saying "Hello Robert" from phone extensions in different parts of our childhood home, it sounds like a friendly choir.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Another of many celebrations

I've got some leave time off work, people who are actually willing to fill-in for me and a bit of extra money. I can have Christmas "fun time off" this year; like during my childhood when school let out for the holidays.

Not to sound selfish.

I hope others can take holidays also. Part of the season's greatings is about rest.

Time to go to Bellingham Winter Solstice Celebration which is just one of many things to do around the holiday season. Bellingham has many solstice celebrations. This one at 7:15 PM, December 21 in Blodel Donovan Gym at the park off Electric Avenue.

Merry Christmas. Many say Christmas comes this time of year as early Christians were trying to copy the successes of Roman solstice celebrations.

When starting a new business, piggyback some ideas from already established enterprises.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Smart power grid, 1980s style

Obama's style of talk about building a smart power grid was not as evident in the 1980s when I worked as a janitor in the restaurant called Pizza Haven, here in Bellingham.

I like Obama, but even back then, we had what was called a "smart power meter" installed at Pizza Haven by the power company. It could also be called a "demand meter."

Our smart meter ran at different rates, depending on situations it encountered. The goal was to make power more expensive when it's being used during times of peak power demand on the grid.

Internet connectivity between what some might call "energy brains on the grid" was less evident back in 1980s. Still, the goal of making power more expensive during peak demand times was fairly straight forward.

Of course, the world keeps getting more complicated, but back then there was a consistent peak demand.

For instance, in the morning when folks get up, turn on lights, push up the heat, take hot water showers and heat up their stoves for breakfast power demand is high.

The meter had a clock in it so as to charge more for power during certain morning hours.

I don't know if this was true, or not, but I guess one could even put a thermometer in such a meter. With a thermometer as well as a clock, the smart power meter could not only tell what time it was, it could estimate how cold weather was here in the Pacific Northwest.

Colder temperatures could mean more people making their heaters and furnaces work harder across the land. The smart meter could jack up our power cost even more, if our restaurant was using power during that peak demand time as well.

You ask, what was the advantage of having such a meter for us at the restaurant?

We got lower overall cost of power throughout the whole day. As long as we behaved ourselves and tried to avoid adding our power demand during peak power demand hours on the grid.

That meter could be seen as kind of a little threat, to help us remember "The big picture."

The big picture being our power company's struggle trying to keep everyone's lights on through the peaks and valleys of demand. "Through thick and thin," so to speak.

Now, we live in a more complicated world than ever. Obama talks about hooking all the brains, on the power system together. The brains like our little smart meter.

Maybe it's not that big a deal over what we could already do, but the tasks seem to keep getting more complicated. Also we have some new tools, such as more internet connectivity.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

After Copenhagen

The leaders can't do it for us. It's up to changing lifestyles at grassroots levels and new technology. Leaders can be better examples, though than jetting off to Copenhagen, even though Copenhagen is a nice city.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Cash for Caukers, hard and soft poem, porn?

Tarp money left over. Good news. Took less than expected to finish that job.

Republicans wish to give it back to China and other bankers.

But, Obama wants Americans to have another job.

Cash for Caukers.

More stimulating.

Needed for warm and cozy.

(I hope it's for renters also).

Calking windows, helping to foster survival of economy, given news from Copenhagen scientists.

Stimulate economy for sure. Stimulate.

Is your cauk soft or hard?

KGO radio, in San Francisco, is the main ABC "News Talk" affiliate for all of northern California. KGO must know how to succeed in business.

When a home improvement show on KGO was talking. Talking, about cauking. They were discussing hard and soft cauks.

Someone noticed it sounded like cock.

Oh, no. Was that inappropriate? How's the FCC? Is that one of those 7 little words? We (speaking of KGO) are still on the air, not just on cyberspace.

But, don't be uptight.

They made it into a promo.

I wasn't even listening to that show, but heard reprocussions afterwards.

A cute little promo with words like, "is your cauk hard or soft."

Then an announcer doing the tag line:

"Our shows are always informative and sometimes inadvertently X rated."

KGO knows how to get more listeners and stimulate the economy in a "private enterprise" way. They turned that into a promo.

Like America's banks which were said, before the 2008 crash, to be more "flambouyant" than (for instance) Canada's banks.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Is it a lie to call carbon dioxide a health hazard?

We breath it everyday, but when we also get enough oxigen, we're healthy.

Carbon dioxide is an "environmental hazard."

It's a STRETCH to say "health hazard." Why do they have to do this?

Why can't EPA address environmental hazards? Why do these environmental hazards have to be defined as health hazards before EPA can act?

I don't know, I'm no lawyer.

Or, here's an idea. Here's the STRETCH.

Cars spew out lots of carbon dioxide and they also kill tens of thousands of Americans each year in auto accidents as well as obesity.

Cars are a health hazard.

Is that the STRETCH they are using?

Probably not, but here's an interesting thought. "There's "cause and effect," and there's also "correlation."

It works.

Is this what they are thinking? I'm no lawyer.