Sunday, September 25, 2022

Assuming that Puget Sound Region is outgrowing Seatac Airport.

Watch out for planes crossing the bike path near Renton's little airport; one of many small airports. Seatac is a much bigger airport. Image taken 2013.

If the economy and population keep growing and air travel remains like it is today, in spite of climate change, this region outgrows Seatac Airport. The state of Washington is looking ahead to 2050. New airport sites by Tacoma and Olympia are on the "short list" for, possibly, a brand new airport.

According to an article I read (Sept. 24 2022 Bellingham Herald) Puget Sound Region is projected to see 27 million more annual passenger boardings than it can accommodate and twice the amount of current cargo demand by 2050.

From what I read, Seatac serves 50 million passengers per year. That's more than the population of Washington State, but lots of people fly several times per year and some from other areas transfer at Seatac. By 2050 room for even more passengers and cargo is projected to be needed.

Near Tacoma, “Pierce County East” and “Pierce County Central” sites were deemed attractive due to the potential number of passengers they could accommodate: 20 million and 19 million annually, respectively.

Paine Field, in Everett, is another place discussed for the expansion, but I guess it isn't large enough already. They would want to add to it. There must be a lot of development around it constraining expansion?

Paine Field is already taking some of the load off of Seatec.

I've heard people talk about using Bellingham Airport for this, but I don't think it's in the study. Must be too far from Seattle and expanding it, to more runways, would be an issue. Bellingham is already, kind of, an alternative airport for Vancouver, BC.

One wonders if we will find low carbon fuels for jets? One wonders if other technologies, such as telecommuting or slow floating helium airships, will take much of the load away from jet traffic? Seems like procuring right of way for high speed rail is unlikely, however.

Friday, September 23, 2022

A more thoughtful solution than just sticking it to perceived hypocrites on Martha's Vineyard.

News is talking about Florida Governor DeSantis's political stunt of relocating refugees, from Texas, to Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts.

Another way to think about these issues is to discuss population growth and things, like the shortage of housing in USA. Immigration does add to population, but it can also add to a solution for housing. Reducing the shortage of construction workers that I hear is part of the housing "supply chain" problem.

Yes, immigrants can proved needed labor, in construction and other fields of work.

Another thing leading to the housing shortage is, of course, zoning. As population grows, density of development will need to increase.

I'm no expert on land use planning in Martha's Vineyard, but this hot button event could add to the national conversation about how we accommodate population growth in this country.

Our traditional patterns of semi rural sprawl and even exclusive single family neighborhoods seem to be in conflict with the idea of welcoming in new people. Over dependency on the automobile, with it's increasing traffic, is a related problem.

We could take a good look at how people expect to live in this country. Both liberals and conservatives.

Population growth is a worldwide problem, but if it is a reality, how we accommodate growing population is a factor as well. Migration is becoming a big issue all over the world due to climate change and other factors.

Good planning can make the difference between population growth being just a burden, or in some cases, it can still be an asset as in providing more willing and skilled labor to meet our needs; such as for housing.

The inflationary pressures caused by overpriced assets. Real estate and so forth.

Seems like there is always a tradeoff in economics. Now that wages have been going up and jobs are easier to find, we have inflation. Increasing costs, including labor costs, passed along to the consumer. It's like "we can't have it all."

Income inequality is a big factor in this problem. I'm not against the idea of using graduated taxes to address income inequality.

Some inflation may not be a bad thing. Someone does have to pay for higher costs. It's either the consumer or the upper level management and owners as profits and top level wages have to come down.

Either that or income and wealth inequality is addressed through higher taxes. Hopefully, it's taxes on wealthy individuals, rather than smothering business. I know business needs money to operate and, in some cases, expand and update.

As long as wages and prices go up together, things aren't too bad. It's the big gap between things that really creates the problem; like when food costs remain low while housing costs go through the roof. Then restaurant workers can't afford a place to live.

I think rising interest rates will help cool the cost of existing housing. One problem is that homes have become an asset and they have gone way up in value over past decades. They have gone up along with other assets, such as stocks.

I think asset values have been rising out of line with the rest of the economy. That may be why the Federal Reserve is trying to tighten up on the money supply. A way to cool the bidding wars for homes and so forth. This is one lever that can dampen inflation.

It does look like some inflation isn't the end of the world. Inflation is said to be bad for people with savings accounts, but low interest rates have already destroyed bank savings as a way to build wealth anyway.

As for everything going up in price, it's just money. Future generations will just move the decimal point over. The dollar is becoming the new dime and future generations can start from there.

What the Fed is doing now is probably a good thing, however. Modest inflation is better than having it so rampant that it is out of control. Rampant inflation, in assets such as home values, has been driving wealth inequality for decades.

Could a desalinization plant, on the Gulf of California in Mexico, irrigate California's Imperial Valley?

There is some talk of piping water all the way from the Mississippi River to the Colorado. Expensive for sure.

I've come up with my own idea for putting more water in the Colorado. One of the big users of Colorado River water is the Imperial Valley in California. That's a big agricultural area right on the Mexican Border south of the Salton Sea. I think it's actually a bit below sea level.

Maybe they could build a desalinization plant on the Gulf of California, in Mexico, to provide water to that area. It might even be able to use a mostly gravity feed pipe or canal down to the Imperial Valley from Gulf of California.

Desalinization could provide fresh water for both the Imperial Valley and parts of Mexico. Those areas would no longer have to be so dependent on Colorado River water.

I know that the idea of desalizazation may not pencil out economically for agriculture. Desalinization is an expensive process. Too expensive to provide water cheap and abundant enough for agriculture. Farming needs a cheap source of water, unless it's hydroponic; like indoor agriculture; Another topic. That might sink my "Gulf of California / Imperial Valley" idea, but I still present that idea here, at least.

The process of desalinization is already starting to be used by California's coastal cities; such as San Diego. Urban areas don't need as high a volume of water as open field agriculture. The concept of desalinization is starting to pencil out for urban water usage.

Bringing water all the way from the Mississippi would be expensive as well.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Easier for Republicans to do something like banning abortion than figuring out how to stop something as complex as inflation

Hoping Republicans have a difficult time this November, but who knows.

They are using inflation as a campaign issue, but I doubt there is a clear solution to inflation that politicians can enact into law. Politicians can do something specific, like banning abortion, but inflation is more complex with no easy way to pass a law against it.

The Federal Reserve is not on the ballot, but it likely has more influence through the money supply. It's taking steps now to try and curb inflation, but the whole thing isn't that straight forward.

There are a lot of moving parts in the economy. Complex issues of supply and demand, wages and expectations, wealth inequality, environmental constraints and people's perception of how well things are going.

Not something with a clear solution based on the stroke of a pen.

People may not realize this, however. They still might buy talking points that Republicans, or Democrats can totally control inflation.

If we go back to a Republican Congress, with the Senate controlled by Mitch McConnel again, it would be a while before we learn that inflation doesn't just go away from political promises. By then it might be too late.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Seems unlikely that there will be any significant climate change reparations from rich countries to poor countries

For instance, given the precariousness of US politics, where Republicans could retake Congress in 2022 election, I wonder if the US could even reduce our own carbon emissions, let alone help other countries?

It does take some spending to reduce our own emissions; either that or less consumptive lifestyles, in the US and other rich countries; a heavy lift politically.

I hope the Democrats hold onto and even expand their margins in Congress, but who knows what might happen. Republicans seem to care less about resolving climate change. At least the Democrats play lip service to solving climate change.

UK recently got a new prime minister who is calling for tax cuts.

Quite a few people, in Third World countries, have said, "you (the West) have had your turn at industrialization and consumerism, now it's our (the Third World's) turn."

That mindset is partially behind what has brought China to become the world's largest carbon polluter. The situation has lead to Donald Trump's style of pushback, in the US, as many folks say, "what good is cutting US carbon emissions as China and India pump out more carbon?

It's like kids fighting in a sandbox over who's to blame.

There may be no more turns. The old paradigm of industrialization, population growth and consumerism needs to change in all countries.

There is talk of Third World countries leapfrogging the old paradigms of industrialization and going to a more ideal model of sustainable living. Solar energy instead of coal, for instance. Technology can help, like in the case of countries bypassing phoneline networks and going directly to cellphone technology. Could Third World countries bypass the automobile as well? Seems unlikely, but I can still hope. Electric cars help, but energy still has to come from somewhere.

It seems like everyone, who can afford it, still embraces the automobile. Look at traffic jams in China, India, Nigeria and so forth. Population growth is still rampant in much of the Third World, though the growth rate is slowing.

Unfortunately, many Third World countries push old fashioned attitudes toward sexuality; for instance oppression of LGBTQ people and lack of women's rights. Even if consumption is low, in poor countries, I don't give them a pass on population as it seems like most people, in poor nations, aspire toward higher levels of consumption. The main thing holding them back is just poverty.

Hopefully there will be some new ways of thinking the world over. I remember the idea of poor countries bypassing traditional forms of industrialization and consumption being talked about, some, since my college days. It's also true that richer countries can learn some more sustainable ways of life from the Third World. For instance more use of buses and public transportation. The idea of slower traffic with streets for all. Slower speeds can fill the streets with walkers, animals, bicycles, rickshaws and so forth. Again, a heavy political lift in countries where life is already in the fast lane.

Here in the US, however, heavy traffic has slowed many of our "fast lane" freeways to a crawl, but the slow speed is not the intent of freeway planners. Freeways are still being built in poor countries as they are possibly not learning the lessons of things that have been troublesome in rich countries. Are they wishing to repeat the same mistakes?

There is a lot of room for rethinking the way humans function the world over.

Tuesday, September 06, 2022

Are some Democrats trying to help the MAGA Republicans?

Money and politics on both sides of the aisle can be dirty. The intent of Biden's speech against MAGA Republicans has apparently been undermined by a Democratic PAC, led by Chuck Schumer, plowing money toward MAGA Republicans in primary elections.

Seen now as possibly weaker candidates than more moderate Republicans, this strategy is seen as helping Democrats in general elections. If it backfires, we get MAGA Republicans.

I still vote Democrat on of the issues aside from the dirty strategies on both sides.

On the issues, Republicans see today's inflation as a talking point that can get them elected. Few people mention what I think that inflation is nothing new. It predates Biden if one takes into account house value and housing cost inflation. That has been rampant for decades.

Rising interest rates may be tamping down the hot housing market and over priced land values today. That's good news on the inflation front going forward. Yes, higher interest rates may dampen supply by slowing construction, but dampening inflation in land prices could be more significant.

Gas prices are coming down now. Republicans see that as a driving force behind inflation and they tend to call for more domestic oil production. Makes sense not to buy from imports especially given Putin, but Republicans seem to not consider climate change.

We really do need less consumption.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

High fixed costs of things like housing and insurance necessitate robust economy which can drive consumption and environmental degradation.

One reason why the economy has to keep growing and churning out more goods and services is the high and growing fixed costs that people and businesses face. The fixed costs of rent and mortgage payments. Also the fixed costs of insurance, health insurance and even car insurance. Much of the premiums are fixed costs that necessitate a certain amount of economic activity to meet each month.

Conservatives will say that government creates fixed costs, but I think this is less the case. Lots of taxes do vary based on income and consumption.

Some folks suggest that car insurance should be based on miles driven, versus a fixed rate each month. Then folks that don't use the car as much could save on insurance.

Saturday, August 20, 2022

I think of religion as being speculation, but speculative discussion can be useful.

I think of religious ideas as being in the realm of speculation. Speculation is a legitimate form of discussion. Some of my favorite discussions are speculations.

Much of speculation isn't necessarily true, but some of it might be. It can lead to new insights and discoveries.

As long as it's approached with an open mind, spiritual and other speculation can be a good discussion.

Friday, August 05, 2022

In spite of technophobia, consumerism is rampant.

Unlike the energy crisis of the 1970s, it seems like hardly anyone discusses cutting back on consumption. Minimalist lifestyles do pull consumption out of the economy so it can create economic disruption; like loss of jobs.

Instead the talk is technological fixes. Clean energy, build back better. I'm okay with technological fixes, but they take time. Ironically, there are lots of people who claim that there isn't a "technological fix." They will say that relying on technology isn't the answer. I believe it can be the answer, but does take time.

Without technological fixes, the answer would have to be reduction in consumption. Both solutions being applied simultaneously could help, however.

Underlying a lot of thinking is the concept that technological society is somehow "immoral." Maybe that relates to the idea that "technology fix" isn't the answer. I guess quite a few folks think we are headed for catastrophe. Little or no hope for us. It's like "party, party for tomorrow we shall die." In spite of technophobia, consumerism is rampant.

I feel that technological society can have more of a future than that. At the same time consumerism, increasing populations, increasing rents and expectations does put a lot of pressure on people's psychology. Somehow, life has become like a rat race for many folks. Myself, having a low tolerance for stress, I have pretty much figured out ways to avoid the rat race. My life isn't very typical, however.

More folks could live the way I do, but it may not be appealing to so many people who seem to be influenced by movies, television, advertising, peer pressure, relationship obligations, mortgage obligations and so forth. They grumble about all of this and they say technology can't save us, but they party on as if collapse of civilization is a forgone conclusion.

Still, I think we need less consumptive living and the hope of technological fixes; such as solar energy and hydrogen fusion, for getting us to what still could be a better future. We need both conservation and technological innovation.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Light rail is so expensive. Maybe Bus Rapid Transit is the way to go.

For decades, the freeway traffic in Seattle has been so congested that commutes are a crawl. One would think after all these years they would figure out a better way to go.

If they could have a transit only lane on all freeways through Seattle metro that had at least 3 lanes of traffic (6 lanes both ways), there could be something called "bus rapid transit." Seattle metro has lots of freeways with at least 3 lanes in both directions.

Bus rapid transit could use existing infrastructure. It would be less expensive than trying to build light rail; something that takes years to develop. They did just finish Sound Transit Light Rail as far north as the old Northgate area and it's under construction farther north into Lynwood and east across Lake Washington. This takes years and billions of dollars to build.

On the freeways, they do have HOV lanes, but populism allows too many cars into the HOV lanes so the traffic is just as gridlocked in the HOV lanes as in the regular lanes. Everything gets stuck in traffic.

If they had bus only lanes, at least the buses could get through. Then there would be more incentive to take the bus thus reducing the congestion of cars in all the lanes.

I remember, a few years ago, the HOV lanes worked kind of well as one had to have at least 3 people in a vehicle to be in the HOV lane. Eventually this limit was lowered to two people so the HOV lane is almost as congested as all the other lanes with single passenger cars.

Everyone is still stuck in traffic after all these many decades.

Friday, July 22, 2022

Rejecting scientific evidence often comes from a position of being over confident in oneself

Too much overconfidence, or self self assuredness, causes people to reject evidence that is different from how their minds are already made up. Strong beliefs and confidence can cause people to reject scientific evidence.

Religious fundamentalists tend to be super confident, but within religious thought, there is the concept of humbleness. Humbleness before God. I think this concept can be used for opening the minds of some people. Few people want to admit they are a "know it all." At the same time, it does seem to me like a lot of religious folks have forgotten the concept of humbleness to the point of being over confident in their own righteousness.

I was brought up in fairly open minded religion so I realize that not all religion is self-righteous. I also know that science, in itself, can be very humbling. Scientists are often reevaluating what they are thinking as new evidence does have a tendency to upset old thinking. Willingness to learn is a form of humbleness.

Self deprecating humor is a good thing. I hear quite a bit of self deprecating humor in science lectures I watch on YouTube. I think more people need the realization that we owe a lot of our successes to the work of others. Another concept coming to mind is gratitude. I've even heard it said in churches as I was growing up. We can be thankful.

Some of my thoughts after reading this article. Overconfidence bolsters anti-scientific views, study finds.

Friday, July 08, 2022

Pictures from my 2022 bicycle trip across Washington State are on-line.

Photo album and descriptions are on Flickr. Free access. No sign in required. Click on pictures for enlargement and the longer stories that come with some of the pictures.

Thursday, July 07, 2022

I may be less vulnerable to crime being a bicyclist

During summer of 2020, I wasn't a big fan of the idea that police are the big problem. I'm hearing that some of the police reforms, in Washington State, have made it harder for police to do their jobs.

Now, people in Bellingham, including folks calling themselves liberal, are starting to get real worried about crime.

Personally, I haven't noticed the increasing crime situation. I still feel safe, myself, but I'm hearing lots about it from other folks. I am sympathetic to folks feeling threatened, but, again, it seems like some of the talk might be over reaction. The anti police talk was over reaction, now people's fear for their safety could be, in part, over reaction.

I'm thinking that my bicycle has helped my own feeling of safety. There are lots of street people and homeless folks around, but I just go by on my bike. Walking can make one more vulnerable; especially folks who must walk with canes and walkers. Being male, rather than female, makes a difference as well. I feel less vulnerable than a lot of women are feeling these days.

Another thing about the bicycle, that adds to my personal sense of safety, is that I park my bike inside my locked apartment. Folks with cars often have to leave the car out in a parking lot or along the street. Car prowls and thefts are up. There's been a big rash of catalytic converter thefts.

I do worry about more lawlessness on the roads. Traffic is getting worse, law enforcement is short handed as it's getting harder to fill jobs in policing. Traffic death tolls are up, but so far I've been okay on the roads. For the most part I've been out of the mainstream traffic pattern. Trails, shoulders and light traffic roads are where I go.

Tuesday, July 05, 2022

A solution to the racial wealth gap that both liberals and conservatives would baulk at.

During the Juneteenth Holiday. There was talk about the wealth gap between white people, on average, and most people of color. How can that be addressed?

One solution that I doubt would be popular, but could be effective. An increase in capital gains tax; like a death tax. A tax on the windfall wealth folks have gained from real estate and other assets. A tax on wealth passed down through families.

Lots of people's goto tax is a tax on business, but business does need it's capital assets, like the building housing the business, to operate and people want the goods, services and jobs that business provides. It could be taxed also, but not smothered.

Seems like personal and family wealth would need to see a boost in the taxes, such as death taxes, that it pays to help address the wealth gap.

Let's bring back Jimmy Carter's 1970s call for less energy consumption

Seems like there is no talk, from Biden or any major politician these days, about conservation. Using less gasoline which may be the best way; especially in the short run, to bring the price down. Supply and demand.

In some ways, I miss my college days during the Carter Presidency. Carter was pushing everything from walking more to turning down (or up in summer) the thermostat. It was a time when we thought we could pull together and make a difference. In many ways, life seems more jaded today.

Things were different back then. The price of gasoline was more regulated so while there were price hikes, the lack of supply was manifested in actual gas shortages. Long lines at gas stations. Odd even rationing based on licence plate number, the 55 mile per hour speed limit, which may have done more to save lives than gas, but it was the law of the land for years.

Carter did have long term goals to increase domestic production. Mining oil shale, coal gasification. The Carter Synfuels program. He also pushed alternative energy.

Back then, the US was hopelessly dependent on oil imports.

Since then, Republican thinking has prevailed. Price controls have been eliminated letting the marketplace regulate supply and demand through price, rather than regulation and rationing. Due to advanced technology, in oil drilling, there has been a miraculous increase in domestic oil production over the past few decades. America is far less dependent on oil imports while gasoline consumption has still risen dramatically to meet our increased, population, prosperity and sprawl.

Still, I miss the days when politicians tried to get people to consume less.

Consuming less would take pressure off supply and bring prices down in the shortrun. In the longrun, oil fracking our way to increased production is problematic due to climate change. Or, maybe we can use another miracle technology; geo engineering to artificially cool the earth? I wouldn't count on that. We will need clean energy sources such as solar and hydrogen fusion.

The future, Florida Governor DeSantis style?

In a future world with climate change, people might be able to adapt. Republicans who aren't that worried about this should, however, remember the saying, "be careful what you ask for as you might get it."

Future tourists might enjoy visits to much of Florida as it's inundated with water. They will ride in shallow watercraft past buildings where the ground floors are unusable. Some entire buildings abandoned and turned to sculpture while others adapted with upper floors still in use.

Less folks will own property in this vision of the future. As neighborhoods change, tennants can just move out. People will become more nomadic. More buildings will be mobile also; like houseboats and mobile homes.

Meanwhile in dryer California, agriculture will giveway to use of the land for solar panels. Much less need for irrigation water. Farming will move to new regions, farther north for instance. Inside agriculture will thrive, but food becomes much more expensive.

Our civilization might be able to adapt, even thrive, but it will have to accept change.

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Address wealth inequality between races with higher capital gains tax on assets and residential real estate.

I am not a big fan of reparations, but it is true that there is a large gap in accumulated family history wealth between average people in different races. White race having the most accumulated wealth per capita.

One idea would be to more highly tax assets and property when these assets are sold, if the assets have large windfall profits. Houses that go way up in value, stocks or whatever.

Break multi generational wealth advantages. Money could, at least, go toward better social safety net, reducing carbon footprint and needed infrastructure in everyone's community.

Ya, my idea would probably not be that popular among both liberals and conservatives.

Wednesday, June 08, 2022

Washington State's economy at top of WalletHub's list. Are we business friendly or what?

Some people might be surprised, but according to WalletHub, Washington State has the strongest economy in the nation. Are we business friendly or what?

I would guess that a lot of things like our strong high tech economy, innovative traditions, emphasis on education and legalization of pot help. Remember, pot is a revenue source.

We also still have water. Quite a few states, in the west at least, are coming under more and more restrictions on water use which can have devastating effects on agriculture.

Monday, June 06, 2022

Dropping the gas tax? How about switching to a mileage tax to pay for roads?

To appease fossil fuel addiction, some states are temporarily dropping gas tax due to rising gas prices. Gas taxes tend to go toward paying for the roads so this could lead to cuts in highway budgets.

This also relates to the question of how to pay for roads if vehicles use no gas, such as electric vehicles. Maybe this could be seen as part of a transitioning toward mileage tax versus a gas tax to pay for roads. In the future, mileage and weight taxes make more sense than fuel taxes.

Given concern about climate change, with it's potential reductions of investment in fossil fuel infrastructure, gasoline may remain expensive. Carbon taxes could serve as the new gas tax.

Some folks might be weary of their vehicle being tracked by GPS to calculate the tax. They might say, "Big Brother satellite in the sky." On the other hand, I hear that car theft is on the rise. Knowing where the vehicle is, at all times, makes it easier to catch the thieves. The growing car theft problem could be significantly reduced.

In the future, even bicycles might pay the mileage fee, but they could get a huge break on weight. It's also harder to rack up lots of miles, on a bicycle, so the fees wouldn't be prohibitive.

Car insurance could take mileage from GPS into account also. Thus eliminating the insurance penalty for car owners who only use the car on rare occasion.

As war seems to just bring bloody stalemate in today's Ukraine, maybe Ukraine can win in the sprere of economics and public opinion instead.

I could see maybe Ukraine letting Russia have the areas it has stolen, for now, if it means a pause in the war. Remembering that the long run could be a different story.

In the long run, there is also the competition in fields like economics, quality of life, public opinion and where people most wish to live. More freedom can win in the long run.

People might not wish to live, or be able to flourish, in the areas occupied by Russia, compared to the rest of Ukraine and Europe.

About cities that Russia has bombed, there is the pottery barn rule. You break it, you own it. Hopefully the people who want something better can escape to a new life elsewhere.

Thursday, June 02, 2022

Why I might have flunked mindfulness 101, but made up my own version.

A practice called Mindfulness is quite useful for many people. On the other hand, I sometimes think I flunked Mindfulness. Part of that practice, which admittedly I'm no expert in, has to do with focusing one's attention on what one is doing at the moment.

Often my mind tends to wander to what seems like more interesting thinking than the day to day things in my life. Working as a custodian, for many years, I spent quite a bit of time sweeping floors, vacuuming carpets and so forth. Hard to just focus on those repetitive tasks. Of course one would want their brain surgeon to be focused on the task at hand, but not all tasks are of that high an order.

I have my own definition of something that may be related to Mindfulness. That is accepting the tasks in my life as if they are legitimate and valuable. If sweeping the stairs is the task, it's worthy of my effort. It doesn't necessarily require ultimate "flow state" (another concept discussed in psychology). It doesn't necessarily require full attention.

For many of my custodial tasks, I listened to podcasts about such topics as economics, theoretical physics, travel and so forth. If I wasn't listening to the radio, or podcasts, my mind was often wandering to thinking that would sometimes end up in my writing.

Another part of accepting what my life is, has to do with my writing and photography. The effort is legitimate even if I'm not writing for a major publication; like the New York Times. Often it just goes on Facebook, but I still feel like it's worth the effort.

Like keeping my apartment at least reasonably organized, visiting with friends, writing and photography, it's worthwhile.

I try and keep up with the tasks life wants me to do. I tend to procrastinate less than some folks. Often I do find joy in what I am doing, including simple tasks.

As for flow state, it isn't always there. That would be a tall order, like we put ourselves under lots of pressure. I do find myself pretty close to flow state when I'm writing, talking with friends, dealing with my photos, organizing things and even cleaning.

I sometimes get close to flow state when I am physically active, such as bicycling or dancing. With dancing, the music makes a big difference. Not all music hits the spot for me.

I'm no pro dancer, but I do enjoy flopping around and at least moving.

My dad met well, but he often said, "pay attention to what you are doing." I had teachers that said I was a daydreamer. Most of them let me slip by anyway even though things like my spelling (back in the days before spellcheckers) was horrible.

Paying full attention is good advice if one is driving, or piloting a jet. Partially for that reason, I never learned to drive.

My article about this in The Betty Pages.

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

At the Friday Peace Vigil in Bellingham.

Picture of me at May 20 2022 Friday Peace Vigil. I happen to be listening to my little radio as when the vigil happens 4-5 pm on Fridays, there is also a good local talk show on KGMI Radio. 4-5 weekdays KGMI Konnects (spelled with a K).

I like interactive local dialog from many sources.

At the vigil, I mostly go to chat with friends and I often meet new people walking by. Some folks go out to local eateries after the vigil.

I'm more into the conversations than holding a sign, though sign holding is one of the big features of the vigil.

I just feel that the cars zooming by, at the vigil's corner of Magnolia and Cornwall, just see a sound byte at best. A few folks, in cars, give the thumbs up, or occasionally the thumbs down, while most zoom on by.

Some try and comment from a passing window, but drive by discussion can be garbled from engine noise and then truncated when the light turns green.

The tradition of folks gathering at that corner has been going since 1966, so I hear.

Electric car is better than fossil fuel car, but bicycling and public transit and more compact neighborhood planning is still best.

The pedal bicycle is still my main and almost only form of transportation. I've never driven a car. Designing cities around public transit and the density for walking / bicycling is best.

As for the electric car, I would guess it's still much better than the fossil fuel car.

My brother, Bill Ashworth is a big fan of the electric car. He has a blog called Driving on Sunlight.

Much of his energy comes from solar panels on the roof of his home. Nothing is perfect, but materials for the batteries can be recycled. Mining is needed for the steel and other materials in fossil fuel cars. Remember, the fossil fuel car has a battery as well; just a smaller battery. The materials that are used in making the car and battery are used in the manufacturing, but once made, they don't continue to require consumption in the form of gasoline; especially if the power comes from solar.

Still reliant on fossil fuels, but opposing oil infrastructure. Are you cutting off the limb you are standing on?

In a world of lifestyles and economics still reliant on fossil fuels, opposing fossil fuel production is like cutting off the limb one is standing on. Opposing production and then complaining about rising gas and food prices seems like an oxymoron.

Yes, oil company profits seem to be rising, but I guess they could invest in more energy production (besides just oil) versus keeping money on the sidelines. Oil is what's still selling.

Seems like if consumers could find ways to reduce fossil fuel consumption, that would be less disruptive to our precarious economy and especially to our precarious political situation where Biden and the Democrats seem to be struggling in the polls.

Otherwise it might be back to "drill baby drill;" that famous quote about Sarah Palin who was the Republican vice presidential nominee in 2008. People keep reacting to what puts food on the table and what pays the bills.

Conservative religion can lead to sex abuse like a repressed spring bounding out.

The news is full of sex abuse scandals in Southern Baptist and some other fundamentalist churches. Seems like the fundamentalist churches are more vulnerable to this than liberal churches. When sexuality is strictly pushed under the carpet and repressed, it often finds a way to spring out; like a spring recoiling.

Another factor might be that folks, who have trouble controlling those emotions, are often drawn to stricter teachings as they attempt to use the strictness in their struggles against temptation. Maybe some of those people would flounder even more in liberal environments as they need the stricter limits to try and contain themselves. They occasionally slip up, however.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

So called "right to life" doesn't seem to translate into compassion for living children and adults

My thoughts about the so called "right to life" issue, being ruled on by the Supreme Court, is not so much about the topic itself. It's about a glaring irony. So many of the people, who push the so called right to life agenda, seem to have little regard for the lives of children and adults already born.

Often so called right to lifers are the people who are into guns. When there are lots of guns around, some of them are bound to get into the wrong hands; especially when there's extreme opposition to any form of regulation of firearms.

Large segments of people who claim to be for right to life have little regard for the lives of children seeking asylum at our borders. They often are the same folks who stand against attempts to extend medical coverage to low income people in this country.

A few of the folks, who claim to be right to lifers, aren't into these other deathly things, but it seems like the majority are. This is a very strange irony to me.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

The future of oil drilling is dubious in a world of climate change. Still, demand for oil keeps rising.

I hear oil company profits are up. When supply is tight, either price goes up, or maybe it could stay down, as with price controls, and supply runs out. Supply running out and gas lines was what happened in the 1970s.

I'd guess oil companies might be holding onto their cash (profits) versus investing more in oil drilling. Money kept on the sidelines. The future of oil drilling, in a world of climate change, is dubious.

If a way could be found to shift that money to alternative energy and public transit; that would be great.

Friday, May 20, 2022

The road away from racism reaches a point of diminishing returns. Maybe try a road to income diversity; another path to nearly the same goal.

For decades, this country has been trying to resolve it's racial divides. Progress has been made, but it also seems like little progress has been made.

It could be that directly trying to solve the racial issue is like trying to walk through a brick wall. Maybe it's easier to find a new path around the brick wall. In the end, the path could lead to the same, or similar goal.

Promoting income diversity, in neighborhoods and so forth, rather than purposely trying to promote racial diversity could, ironically, lead to more racial diversity as well.

People of color still, on average, are lower income and of much lower accumulated wealth that white Americas, so I read. If there was a big push toward income diversity, that could bring more racial diversity.

We often think that the pathway to better life is a pathway of more wealth, but financial wealth is not the only virtue. Then we try and push all our various cultures through the corporate road to greater wealth as it's been defined by this society in the past.

Lower income people are often stigmatized and kept out of nicer neighborhoods, but low income doesn't necessarily mean less virtue. Low income could mean more time spent in fields, such as the arts, that often don't pay as much. Low income can mean more time spent volunteering. It can mean lower carbon footprint and more laid back lifestyles.

Promoting income diversity might hold the key to reducing other divides, such as the racial divides in our society. Trying to just solve it as a race issue just seems to bring us back to the same impenetrable brick walls.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Mount Saint Helens shared the national news with a riot in Miami that day in 1980. What I was doing that day.

Another year goes by with it's May 18 time to remember Mount Saint Helens eruption here in Washington State. My memories, here in Bellingham, WA. were from the 😮 media, that day, as we were upwind with hardly a rattle.

After finding out, I was glued to the radio for a while. On national news, the mountain's explosion was competing with another top news story. The 1980 Miami, FL. Riots.

Just today, I looked up said 1980 Miami Riots and found it in wiki.

In the weeks before the big eruption, we'd been following, news of Mount Saint Helen's rumbling with small eruptions. Wondering what might be in store.

When the big event happened, I didn't know until I was mowing someone's yard on a nice spring day in Bellingham. The woman, I was working for, invited me into the house and said, "have you heard what's been going on?"

I hadn't, but there was the TV, in her living room, full of local news from Seattle TV stations via cable. Woah.

"And I-90 all the way from Ellensburg, WA. to Missoula, MT., a mess ..."

As soon as I was done mowing her lawn, I went home and turned on the radio. National news was alternating Mount Saint Helens with the Miami Riots. Local news was all Saint Helens.

Then the radio talked about the blast being heard as far away as Vancouver, BC.

I sat on the couch I had in my apartment, back then, and wondered, "what had I been doing at that moment, soon after 8 am?" "Did I hear anything?"

Aha, I was at work cleaning a pizza oven. It sounded like someone was rattling the front door of the Pizza Parlor against a deadbolt that I had locked behind me. The rattling passed and I had forgotten. I pieced it back together. That was shock waves through the air from the mountain.

Early that evening, I wondered if I could see the plume.

I strapped my bulky, but portable, radio to the back rack of my bike to try and stay informed while I seeked out a high hill. It was awkward and hard to lash on with bungie cords, but it was the only radio I had, back then.

I managed to get it up on a hill looking south, but couldn't see anything.

I kind of wished I was back in my hometown of Pullman, WA. where the skies were said to be dark as midnight, by late afternoon due to the ash cloud going that way.

Later, that evening, I went to a place called Campus Christian Ministry, at WWU where there was a TV lounge open to the public. I watched the coverage.

Late that evening, I was back home and got a call from my sister, Lillian, in Pullman. She was able to get a phone call out. She said, "It's been dark a long time and we don't know if the sun will come out again tomorrow morning."

Next morning the sun did come out again, in Pullman and my other sister, Judith, said that it looked like a cement plant had just blown up.

Monday, May 16, 2022

The 2016 presidential election's far reaching mark on today's US Supreme Court

2016 Clinton vs Trump election has certainly had a big effect on the Supreme Court and it was a very close election. It was like a perfect storm of circumstances. Due to various circumstances there are now 3 Trump appointees on the court with far reaching consequences.

Like the perfect storm, Trump was only a 1 term president, but he was able to appoint 3 justices. The circumstances of that period in history.

I hate to rehash, or beat people over the head about soft voter enthusiasm over an election that's long into history. I only wish to say that change toward a better society often does come incrementally.

Similarly to our own personal lifestyles and consumption habits, politicians are never ideal as well; Clinton included. Often change comes in small and incremental steps which I think are usually better than shooting for the moon; so to speak and then falling backwards.

Nothing against the fact that we did make it to the moon in 1969, however. We can look at the bright side that progress is possible, but it does seem like it usually has to come in many little steps.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Not just an elite. In this era, we have a mass wealthy class. 20, maybe even 30% of the population. That could be both good and bad. It's a new way to articulate the situation

Foundation work on a large condo project in our waterfront redevelopment district.

I hear, through the grapevine, that it's got plenty of buyers. It's considered high end with condos around the million dollar range. These days, being a millionaire is middle class, or at least slightly upper middle class.

There is a mass class of millionaires, a product of prosperity, but also a distortion because owning a home has lead to such great wealth appreciation, over the years, that it's pushed lots of ordinary people into millionaire class; on paper at least.

I often enjoy watching construction and I realize that large private investments help to jump start new things in the city; such as redevelopment of the waterfront. Lots of people complain about these projects, however.

Our city is experiencing changes and construction. Too much of it is thought of as for "high end." There are waiting lists and bidding wars for high end homes. Waiting lists implies lots of people. Seems like this isn't just a small elite. High end is just the middle class, or at least slightly upper middle class.

Not just in Bellingham, but nationwide, we seem to be experiencing the effects of a mass wealthy class. A product of prosperity and home value appreciation. This is having an effect on the landscape.

Most people, in this mass wealthy class, don't think of themselves as wealthy. Maybe they aren't. Everything is relative.

The term upper end may need to be redefined. Upper end is now actually just middle class. True upper end are now the multi millionaires and the billionaires.

Much of the focus of criticism, on the left, is focused on the 1% which are well into the multi millionaire and the billionaire class. Still, the bidding wars over homes and the lack of affordable housing, for lower middle class, may have more to do with the large number of people in the upper middle classes. It has to do with a large population which also relates to population growth.

Immigration is a factor in this country's population growth, but immigration isn't necessarily bad. It brings in labor, prosperity and vitality. A certain percent of immigrants do rise to the upper middle class thus helping to feed the bidding wars for housing. Bidding wars; especially in areas, like Bellingham, that are still considered nice places to live.

I think we do need to consider not just the 1%, but also the effects of the upper middle class on our landscape. It isn't all bad, but it has a big effect due to the large number of people involved.

Much of upper middle class is willing to tax themselves more for the benefit of the larger community.

There are a lot of voters in upper middle class, but if upper middle class doesn't feel gratitude for it's situation, it tends to vote like it's poor. It tends to support the politics of austerity and tax cuts.

Tax cut politics seems to always benefit the 1% and the billionaires as well. People often vote for tax cuts to middle class while complaining about the 1%. Seems like this tax cut politics always benefits the 1% also. Seems like practically nowhere has been able to pass a billionaire tax. Tax cut politics for the upper middle class does seem to always benefit the very top as well.

Much of the consumption of resources also comes from the middle class. Policies that can lead to higher gas prices, like restrictions on oil drilling, effect the middle class. If the middle class feels poor and barely getting by when gas prices go up, the politics can shift against environmental rules that restrict oil production. So much is still governed by supply and demand.

If the vast number of people, in the middle class, really started pushing for a more fair and ecologically sustainable society, changes could really start happening much faster.

I think the 1% would have to change also as the power of mass markets would be shifting. The 1% stay on top by knowing how to play the market. If the market changes, they would feel the pressure also.

The vast number of voters in the middle class could change the market forces and political landscape.

Maybe I am naive, but I think the vast middle class could come from more of a mindset of gratitude versus a mindset of fear and the feeling of poverty. I think much of the feeling of poverty comes from constantly comparing oneself to people who make more money. Ultimately comparing oneself to the 1%.

It's our whole culture of emphasis on material wealth, I guess. Something pushed in the media, pushed by most of the 1% and bought by just about everyone else.

A mind shift in the middle class could move both the mass markets and the political landscape toward a better and more sustainable culture.

There is a disconnect between the sense of urgency that is found in discussions about climate change and business as usual in people's day to day lives.

Seems like there is definitely a disconnect between the sense of urgency that is found in discussions about climate change and the business as usual day to day life in our society. The disconnect can contribute to the anxiety of our times.

Thursday, May 05, 2022

Now the need for police is likely more appreciated than in summer of 2020.

Telephone exchange bldg. in Bellingham becomes a magnet for graffiti.

Increasing crime, in this county, is becoming a topic of discussion. Quite a few conservatives are blaming Democrats for rules that place undue limits on the police.

To some extent, I agree as I was not a fan of the big focus on police reform that was prevalent during the summer of 2020.

As for situations that discriminate against the poor, I tend to look at things like exclusive single family zoning, rather than focusing on the police who do have a difficult job. More recently, that phrase, "defund the police" has fallen by the wayside, however.

Washington State may have passed some badly designed laws making policework more difficult. The Legislature is trying to step back from some of these reforms, more recently, but they might need to do more.

I'm okay with more funding for social services that are less expensive than police, but police are needed. I'm sure some police reform is needed; especially depending on which city one is talking about. Still, I think there was too much focus on police reform when other things in society cause more of the problems people are complaining about.

Seems like there has been some hatred toward police; enough to cause low moral so it's difficult to retain and recruit police. Quite a few positions are unfilled locally, from what I gather. A big problem in Seattle as well.

Seems like some of the anti police rhetoric of 2020 wasn't the best focus, but liberal politics has been tainted by it. I tend to think that politics, based on anger, creates problems.

Now that the crime rate has risen and people are getting scared, liberal politics may be tainted by the tendency of folks to paint everything with a broad brush. Some of the reforms that came out of 2020 likely went too far, but that situation could be an anomaly. I've often thought conservatives are not friendly to public safety as well. There is the gun culture. Also, people forget that it takes taxes to fund police and conservatives are often anti tax.

Here in Whatcom County, we have a convergence of liberal and conservative values that lead to the failure of new jail construction. Lack of space in our old jail is leading to problems. Dangerous people being let out as room in the jail is very limited.

I'll admit, I voted against the new jail, back then as well, but eventually we will need to do something.

The stereotype liberal thought the new jail proposals were too large and needed more focus on alternatives to hard core incarceration. At the same time, there is a tendency, among stereotypical conservatives, to vote down big taxes. The new jail would have maxed out our local taxing authority for quite some time, at least in that category of taxation.

Washington State has some limits that it imposes on local taxation. Limits imposed by popular initiatives on the ballot. Remember Tim Eyman?

Some kind of solution to the jail issue will be back on the ballot eventually.

The crime rate is now a big topic in local discussion.

Wednesday, May 04, 2022

Little strategy games, like Wordle, are popular. How about making a game out of sorting one's recycling well. The winner creates cleanest and most useful recycling stream.

The game of Wordle seems to be a fad now.

As for little games of strategy, I often think that we should make sorting one's recycling into a game. Figuring out what goes where, what types of plastic go into different bins so less types of plastics are mixed. Might sound too complicated, but it could be fun, like other games.

We could even keep score among folks and buildings that have recycling bins. Who can create the cleanest recycling stream. Who can create the stream that is most useful for industry as a recycled resource.

Tuesday, May 03, 2022

Over procreation, over working, over consuming and hoarding. Traditional ways rooted to survive the austerity of ancient times. Not serving us well today.

I keep thinking that a lot of our "traditional values" need to be updated and in many cases changed. Our technology has changed since ancient times while many of our old moral values have not.

Much of our values have come from times of austerity, like ancient times, when life expectancy was much shorter. There needed to be lots of procreation to maintain the population as death often came early.

Hard work and hoarding material things was a survival skill in difficult times when food and basic needs were hard to come by.

Now we have technology that can make life easier, but many people still act as if running on a treadmill. People are working themselves to burnout while eating to obesity. Some folks are building and hoarding in a time when our footprint on the planet is so strong that we threaten our survival with too much abundance and overpopulation.

We are still running a rat race as if we have to do this for our mere survival, As if basic needs require this. With today's technology and over 7 billion people on the planet, we do need to change.

Conditions in the wealthier parts of the world, such as USA, are still different than much of the Third World, which also adds to the problem. Survival needs in much of the world are still spartan which continues to drive ethics based on running the treadmill for survival. At the same time, some folks, in the Third World, are extremely wealthy; such as oligarchs in both poor and rich nations alike. Oligarchs so often set the pace, where ever they reside.

In some ways, we need to relax more, but society, and some say capitalism, is set up to keep us on that treadmill.

Looking back, I think we needed to be on that treadmill more as things didn't come as easy in pre technological times, but today, we have a different set of problems.

Even abolishing capitalism isn't really the answer. As long as our old values and cultures remain, we will find a way to run the rat race, whatever system we create. We need to look deeper. It's our cultures based on ancient times that are the problem.

Some old ideas and traditions are fine, but we need to update, somehow. I also believe that achievement, work and things like scientific progress are good. Our constant curiosity and wish to make a better life for ourselves and future generations is good, but we need to update cultural assumptions, traditions and our expectations. I keep thinking about quality of life versus lots of possessions.

Technology does often allow for sophistication with less consumption. I think of the transistor versus burning wood or needing to have a horse. How much hay does the horse eat compared to the electricity used in a transistor? Think about comparing the transistor to the vacuum tube in terms of power consumption.

We need to let go of so much of our baggage that came from times before most lifespans were as long as they are now. We need to update our ethics to beyond the era where it required more brute force to survive.

The leak that "fast tracked" the Supreme Court

A flap about that document leak from the Supreme Court is allover the news today.

I've been thinking, if they really think abortion is murder, maybe they should have announced the verdict real soon after they heard the case. Save more lives? Instead, I think they tried to follow the normal procedure, but now the leak has "fast tracked" it a bit.

I am, of course, in favor of keeping Roe vs Wade.

The need to pay high housing costs keeps the work / consume / waste treadmill going.

Labor saving technologies could mean a shorter workweek. Less time at work would certainly help a lot of stretched and stressed people. One problem is that the increased efficiency of labor leads to more prosperity which leads to inflation in property values and the cost of living.

If one can afford the cost of living, in an area, it's not that much more to be able to afford other things; like airline travel and fancy electronics.

If one is paying thousands of dollars a month for a place to live, who wants to live like a church mouse? Might as well go a few steps farther and have these other things that are available at bargain prices; relative to the basics.

It is kind of like a treadmill. The more we produce, the more we consume, but part of the problem is that the fastest belt on the treadmill is the basic cost of rent, or first time home purchase. Another fast moving belt, that is considered a basic, is health insurance.

If one is keeping up with the treadmill, to begin with, it's almost stupid to not reward oneself with these other joys in life.

In my case, I did have affordable housing. I was fortunate to have landlords who rented, to me, below market. I spent much of my working years working part time so I did have the luxury of time. The belts on the treadmill were never going too fast for me. I didn't have a family either. I was able to enjoy the luxury of just having time.

My guess is, if people are less able to enjoy the luxury of time, they need something to enjoy. Few folks just want to run on a fast treadmill for nothing. Might as well book that jet flight or buy that big screen TV for just a little bit more.

Consumption is also pushed by business and advertising as the economy does need the jobs that consumption creates; so people can afford the cost of living.

Twitter Don't Litter.

Looks like Elon Musk has bought Twitter after all. I don't use Twitter anyway. I prefer somewhat more detailed posts and comments. I like being able to edit posts, however. Facebook has had that for a long time. Odd that Twitter didn't think that was important before the Musk era. I hardly ever use Twitter, but it's in the news today. For some reason, there was this sign in a field out along Washington State Highway 23 between Davenport and Harrington, WA. I passed it in 2017 when I biked from Bellingham to Pullman that year.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Maybe Ferndale aluminum refinery should include in it's restart plan the ability to mothball the plant temporarily during periods of low aluminum prices.

Price of aluminum is going up again and there is talk of restarting the mothballed aluminum refinery near Ferndale. They say it could bring back hundreds of family wage jobs. The state has tossed in some money to help, if the plant can restart.

Main issue now is negotiating a new electric power contract with BPA. Aluminum refining uses lots of power and usually gets it at a cheap, bulk rate.

I got to thinking that the plant may only be able to operate while aluminum prices are high. If the price goes down, the plant could have to be mothballed again. As they negotiate the power contract, they might be hoping to set a lower power cost as they take periods of lower aluminum price into account.

Instead, maybe they could agree to a higher power price, assuming the plant mothballs again, if aluminum prices drop.

I realize I don't know that much about running such a plant and power contracts. People might say I don't know what I am talking about, but this is my blog. I can toss out an idea for what it's worth.

A somewhat higher cost of electricity could be seen as being like buying power at the "green power rate." Sometimes rate payers, like the city of Bellingham, voluntarily agree to pay a bit more for so called "green power." This puts money toward green sources, such as solar and wind, which can be a bit more expensive.

I know that the refinery would still get a bulk rate, cheaper than smaller users, like the city government of Bellingham, but this concept could be considered as they negotiate the deal. It might mean the plant has to operate with a business plan that takes mothballing into account, during times of low aluminum prices.

Mothballed, of course, means layoff for workers again.

Due to world economics and climate change, it seems like things need to be more flexible. Plants closing and reopening, given conditions.

That would also imply more flexible housing, in this area, for workers who would have to come and go with the price of aluminum.

More things like mobile home courts, RV parks and what they call "man camps" (non gender specific) in the county. More flexible housing arrangements than the standard American dream.

This might be good for some personalities, who like change. Americans have been somewhat of a nomadic people, in past decades, but high housing costs and low vacancy rates have been making it harder for people to follow their jobs and dreams during more recent times.

Sometimes, when a mill closes and jobs end temporarily, folks can take advantage of those times for career change, vacations, schooling, or whatever.

Back in the 1980s, it seemed like corporations transferred people a lot. Maybe, due to less mobility, these days, this happens less often now?

The Pizza Place, I worked at right out of college, had a reputation for transferring the managers to Burian, WA.; for some reason. Moving around can be bad for establishing roots in a community, but some people like it. Folks often look forward to change. A new location and a new adventure.

At a time when so many folks are hanging onto old versions of the American Dream; hanging on with fear, we might need to plan for more flexibility; especially due to things like climate change.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Inflation may be the inevitable price for our quick economic recovery from the pandemic.

Seems like inflation is almost an inevitable price for prosperity.

The problem of income inequality still persists so some folks have trouble just keeping a roof over their heads, but prosperous times have come back since the pandemic.

Here in the US, government relief saved a lot of businesses and people's well being during the pandemic. It's brought prosperity back, to some extent, but new money does push inflation. Home values, wages and all that. An alternative would be deeper recession. We can't have it all.

Gas prices go up again as travel and commuting is returning to pre pandemic levels and beyond. There are natural limits to how much fossil fuels we should be burning.

Birth control would be better, but a higher death rate might bring the silver lining of a more stable world population.

Warning. Some morbid thinking.

Headlines say US death toll is highest in history. I would guess that it's partially because our population is highest in history. All the numbers are bigger.

I would think that there were times, in the past, when the death rate, per thousand, was higher. Times before modern medicine and safety standards, back during the Civil War and so forth.

At the same time, our death rate, per thousand, has increased in the past few years. Worse than in some other countries. This, because of the pandemic, vaccine hesitancy, income inequality, general cultural things; including mental health and the opioid problem.

Worldwide, I fear that humankind is in for higher death rates as well. Less wheat production, due to the war against Ukraine, is likely to be among factors increasing world hunger.

World population has been projected to reach 10 or even 11 billion in the near future before eventually stabilizing. Given the state of the world, we are having trouble just keeping our 7 to 8 billion current inhabitants alive and thriving.

Increasing deaths may keep the world from reaching 10 billion which, in a morbid way, may be sort of a blessing in disguise.

Russia's anti GLBT attitudes and it's attempts to increase it's population, is backfiring. It's population is already more sparse than other countries, due to less people per land area, but people are dying from the war and fleeing both Russia and Ukraine. Less people to innovate and work. Less to pay into whatever Social Security they have.

Meanwhile, here in much of the West, we still see no shortage of refugees seeking a better life in our societies. No shortage of potential workers to pay into our Social Security who are, at least, chomping at the borders hoping to get in, if only we could accommodate them with affordable housing and so forth. Plus we have our worries about the impact on the environment, that so many folks with their aspirations, can bring; especially if they try and live the traditional old American dream as unmodified.

Sunday, April 10, 2022

A cross Bellingham bicycle route I like. Part trail. Part road. To be used in conjunction with a map, or Google map of Bellingham.

Railroad Trail from Lake Whatcom and Whatcom Falls area down past Barkley Village.

Cross I-5 on it's own bridge. Then south on Lincoln Street.

Lincoln goes under Alabama Street near I-5.

Kentucky or Iowa Street. Iowa has a stoplight across busy James. West to bike path east of Options High School. Part of Iowa is gravel lot, but still goes through. Kentucky is paved.

Looking back the way you have come past Options High School.

Cross Ohio Street. Follow bike path across little bridge over whatcom Creek.

Looking back the way you've come as you cross York and follow Railroad Avenue through Downtown Bellingham.

Past bus terminal at Railroad and Magnolia. Follow Railroad across Holly, Chestnut, Maple to Laural.

East on Laural to South Bay Trail which passes more apartment buildings.
Crossing Trestle.

South Bay Trail to Railroad Crossing.

Old picture from train crossing. Now there is a pedestrian signal.

Through Boulevard Park to walkway if you wish to go slow, or take Bayview Street (car access to park) to 10th Turn left on 10th just before Boulevard.

If one is in more of a hurry, one can skip South Bay Trail and Boulevard Park. Take the Boulevard Street with it's shoulder.

Follow 10th Street to another trail segment.

Continue on 10th again through Fairhaven District.

Pick up trail again at where 10th bends around to Donovan.

Under 12th Street Bridge and along Padden Creek to Interurban Trail.

South along Interurban Trail north of Old Samish Highway.

My Interurban Trail map.

Saturday, April 09, 2022

The way climate changed is discussed may not be that convincing to some economics minded Americans.

Some conservatives don't believe climate change is much of a problem. A 1.5 degree C temperature rise since, pre industrial revolution, doesn't seem that much. Here in USA, we use Fahrenheit scale so it's actually 2.7, in our degrees. A bigger number. Maybe scientists should describe it in our "American" terms.

Still, only 2.7 doesn't seem that much to us. The change comes in well over 100 years, but there are more tangible effects, from this change; such as severe drought in the American Southwest.

California is America's most productive agricultural state. Droughts, for year after year, are likely to end much of California agriculture.

Drought with forest fires threaten to destroy the California redwoods. Those in the Sierra Mountains at least. Loss of a national treasure.

Lake Mead and Lake Powell, on the Colorado River, are running so low of water that 5 states, they serve, have to cut way back on water use. Lake levels, at the dams, are getting so low that there may not be enough "water drop," at the dam, to generate power.

The Southwest could see a few more wet years, but most scientists think the long term trend is "dry" because of climate change. In the recent past, there has been several dry years in a row. This trend may continue well into the future.

Yes, the Earth will survive and it's seen climate change before. The main difference is that we have not seen this type of climate change since the start of modern civilization.

It's the continuation of our way of life and our economy that we should be worried about.

Things can change. California's Sierra Nevada Mountains will survive, but they might become more like dry mountain ranges of Nevada's deserts. The Sierra might become more like mountains of the Mojave Desert farther south.

We, humans, might be able to adapt. I already hear of farmers, in California's Central Valley, who can no longer get irrigation water. They are giving up on food crops and turning the fields over to solar panels.

The world is changing, but conservatives and others alike tend to try and hang onto the status quo.

Friday, April 08, 2022

Microwaves are not really that micro compared to light waves. Our evolving language about the electromagnetic spectrum can be confusing and frightening.

I just got to thinking that much of the fear about the radiation, that we are exposed to each day, comes from the the ways we think about "radiation."

Heat and light are "radiation." They are part of the electromagnetic spectrum of radiation, but we are less worried about them because we can see light and we feel heat.

Other forms of radiation we don't see so they can seem more spooky.

As for cancer danger, from what I gather, the only forms of radiation that are dangerous are the very high frequency (shortest wave) forms.

These frequencies are higher than both heat and light. This would be ultraviolet light, X-rays and gamma rays.

They call these the "ionizing" forms of radiation. That's why sunlight can cause skin cancer. It's not the lower frequency light from the sun, but it's the ultraviolet light that causes skin cancer.

Windows tend to block ultraviolet light so the danger is more from being outside in the sun. That's why we need sunscreen.

Radiant heat is basically radiation. If we call it heat, it's less scary, but when we call it "infrared radiation," it can sound more scary.

Some forms of radiation can travel, spookily, through objects; including our bodies. X-rays for instance. Gamma rays also. These are real high frequency waves that can be cancer causing. The ionizing part of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Light doesn't travel through most objects, but it can travel through glass. Light seems less scary, but we are exposed to lots of that radiation on a sunny day.

The lower end of the electromagnetic spectrum gets real confusing.

The lower end is radio waves and microwaves. These can travel through objects, like our bodies. That can make them spooky, but they are such low frequencies that they are not cancer risk; from what I understand.

Cellphones use these lower frequencies.

These lower frequencies of electromagnetic waves can cause heating; like the heating in a microwave oven. This can be dangerous as it can cook tissue, but only if exposed to lots of power from being too close to a strong transmitter; like putting one's hand inside a microwave oven when it's running.

In the radio industry, they call that heating the "RF burn," meaning "radio frequency burn." Something you have to think about when climbing a big radio, or TV tower, to do repairs.

Cellphones have less power so even close to the body, they don't cook you. They may heat up a bit, but not enough to cause dangerous overheating; from what I understand.

They say cancer risk is not a factor with the low frequency waves that even 5G cellphones use. It's all still lower frequencies than heat and light.

Still, these waves are invisible and they can travel through us, so they seem spooky.

The language we use to describe radio waves is spooky also, in a way. When radio was invented, it was all real low frequency. Basically the AM band.

Then they figured out how to transmit some higher frequencies that they called "short wave." We still call these low frequency waves, shortwaves, however.

Now we know about much shorter waves so "shortwave" is actually "long" by comparison. FM and television signals are shorter than so called shortwave.

Shortwave bands aren't used that much, these days. They were the international broadcast bands of years past.

Next we figured out how to transmit microwaves. Microwave towers, radar and cellphones. Microwaves are still "long" compared to heat and light waves, however.

Our definitions of short and long have evolved since the early days of radio, but the old ways of referring to these waves remain. We still call shortwave radio, "shortwave." We still think of microwaves as small, but they are big compared to light waves.

Another thing that's confusing is how we talk about "high" and "short" in the same breath. The higher the frequency, the shorter the wave. Short means smaller, but it also means a bigger number for frequency.

I know, it's complicated, but I have found it very interesting as well.

The magic magnetic waves that travel through us all the time bringing so many radio, TV and cellphone signals. All that information passing through us all the time, but they say not hurting us.

The dangerous waves; X-rays and gamma rays are more rare unless one is close to the source, like when having an X-ray.

We have gamma rays going through us all the time from space. I guess low enough power that it doesn't really effect us that much; unless we are living on the space station. Our Earth's atmosphere filters lots of that stuff out.

A very good graphic about the spectrum that I found via Google image search. It's from Encyclopedia Britanica.

My only complaint, about the graphic, is the ultraviolet description. I'd say, "used in black lights," like for black light posters. Fluorescent tubes produce visible light, but that light is created from the ultraviolet light inside the tube being turned into visible light by the phosphorescent paint on the inside surfaces of the tube's glass.

Old style florescent lights used mercury also, inside the tube. Most of these old style lights are now being replace by LED that look the same, but my guess is much safer.

Tuesday, April 05, 2022

Suburban style subdivisions becoming less viable in recent years

As population in Whatcom County keeps growing and detached homes with yards remain popular, we have a history large new subdivisions being proposed. I just learned about a new one called Semiahmoo Highlands.

Many of these proposals, in the past, haven't been built due in part to strong opposition as well as things like the housing bubble burst of 2008.

Where Hundred Acre Woods is, in south part of Bellingham, was once proposed to be "Chuckanut Ridge;" a large housing development. Balfour was another one out Mount Baker Highway. Larabee Springs, north of Bellingham has been scaled back at least. Parts of it are there, but that big development wasn't built as originally proposed.

I think our aspirations need to turn toward denser development which is often fought as well. Reducing worldwide population growth matters as well.

Some of the new developments do plan some density, like townhouses in the mix. Bike paths and parks in the mix, better than the older developments, from decades past like the 1950s, where so many people live today. Some of these older neighborhoods are being retrofitted with trails and other changes.

Still, the future and affordability of single family development is in question for sure; especially in popular areas.

Monday, April 04, 2022

The thousand mile salad may actually help us adapt to climate change.

There is news about a very good crop of potatoes, from Maine, headed west to fill-in for poor harvests, in western states, due to the ongoing drought. Traveling west by rail. More than 500 truckloads worth.

I got to thinking the opposite of what a lot of people think. Climate change may increase, rather than decrease, the distance food travels from farm to table.

Food can travel fairly cheaply; especially by rail. Shipping in food can create a lower carbon footprint than having people try to grow their own food by living in rural settings and then having to commute to their real jobs and errands.

Droughts and floods, in various areas, are likely to mean foods travel farther to complete the diet. Foods from farther afield mean more diversity and redundancy of supply. Conditions vary in different areas around the world. If drought hits one area, better conditions in another area can even out the supply.

What's often called the "thousand mile salad," with components from far afield, continues to feed us.

My thoughts, often the opposite of popular opinion.

For most people, it seems like reducing the carbon footprint tends to favor urban living. Rural folks tend to be more dependent on fossil fuel vehicles to live their lives with longer commutes. Urban dwellers are less apt to be living in detached residences. Easer to heat and cool.

Urban living usually means less space for growing food, so a low carbon footprint urban life can mean food still travels a long ways. The food travels instead of the people.

There can be some food growing space in urban areas. There can be community gardens, indoor, vertical and rooftop gardens. The economics of bringing food in from long distances can still pencil out more faverably, however.

The tendency to want to grow one's own food could actually increase overall carbon footprint if it pushes residences out into more rural settings. Food by itself can be shipped long distances at fairly low enenrgy cost versus people having to commute long distances, each day, to maintain their lives and pay the bills.

As climate change reduces agricultural production in certain areas, the ability to source food from a diversity of regions can come in handy.

In some ways, this is nothing new as large parts of the American west has such a dry climate that the main "local" agriculture is grazing beef cattle. One does not live by beef alone.

Sunday, April 03, 2022

Short term versus commitments to long term oil facilities.

Ramping up US oil production with hardly a worry about climate change is seen by some Republican politicians as a solution to current geopolitical problems. Biden accused of standing in the way.

I think it's more than just Biden standing in the way. Worry about climate change is widespread.

We produce most of our huge domestic demand these days and ramping up more production could conceivably help Europe, but there still are the bottlenecks in capacity of LNG ports, for natural gas, between US and Europe. Increasing port and pipeline capacity would be long term commitments in the billions of dollars. Mostly private investments, but still long term commitments in an era of climate change.

Conservation could be promoted more.

For the short term solution, some folks aren't happy that Keystone Pipeline isn't being built from Canada to the US Gulf Coast ports. Pipelines are safer than oil by railroad tanker cars, but a pipeline is a long term investment. I hear that more oil is being sent by rail, from Canada and probably US oil production as well. Being sent by rail along the route that Keystone would have gone without committing billions into building that pipeline.