Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Long-Billed Syndrome

I just saw this terrifying bit of news today. It seems the bills of birds are growing abnormally, causing slow starvation to the afflicted bird.

The story is here.

The cause remains a mystery.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Sail Transport Network

I had the chance to crew once again on Dave Reid's boat Whisper. Dave is performing trial runs on produce delivery here in the Puget Sound. His goal is to develop a way to ship produce from rural areas (for instance, the Kitsap Penninsula) to urbal areas (Seattle) all without using fossil fuels.

As always, I'm interested in anybody who's trying to develop passage-making skills purely under sail. The average non-sailor doesn't realize how rare this is. Dave and I sailed from Seattle to Poulsbo, round trip, without the engine on his boat ever turning on. This includes sailing around a lot of topography and through a pass where tidal currents routinely reach 3 knots.

The most unexpected experience this weekend was the current we encountered at the entrance of Shilshole Marina. Shilshole has two entrances, north and south. Since the wind was coming out of the south, we needed to enter in the south. However, this spot coincides with the mouth of the Lake Washington Canal, just past the locks. High rains (at least, that's our theory) were prompting the locks to release high volumes of water that day, causing a pretty stiff current that pushed us away from the entrance of our marina. It took three attempts to enter the marina under sail. This was made especially difficult by the light air. Persistence was rewarded, and we sailed right into Dave's slip with no problems.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Monday, October 13, 2008

New snow in Olympics

The Olympics got dusted last night!

This happened last week, but it was pretty striking.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Project

As I quickly careen towards my 30th birthday, facing adulthood, it's time to take stock of what's going on around me. We live in a country with unprecedented challenges ahead of us at a time when, I believe, we are at an all-time low with respect to our ability to take on any large projects that might solve those problems. (Do you think Hoover dam could be built today?)

Those problems are 1) a failing economy 2) global climate change 3) rising oil prices 4) rising population 5) a broken political process.

Of course all of those are connected -- that much is obvious. But the question I'm going to pose is this: If you're living in the Pacific Northwest and care about any of these problems, what is the best way to respond? I'm going to approach a solution in two parts: 1) do everything I can to eliminate these problems, or at least reach a point where I can say I don't contribute to them and 2) prepare to weather the colossal shit storm that is (probably) inevitable.

Like my friend Jay says, it's probably a good time to get used to being poor. So this has to do with the 2nd point above. Living on a boat, owning no car, and living relatively simply is a good first step toward being prepared for shitty economic times. My cost of living is simply a small fraction of what my cohorts in the software industry are used to.

One of my biggest frustrations is the attitude of Green-Aware folks here in Seattle. And that attitude is this: Let's all keep up our ways of living (ie, large houses, cars, flights to Europe, food from Chile, etc) and we'll invent our way out of this. We'll just rely on technology to, for instance, create a car which is powered from some new energy source. And this will create green jobs! And this will create a new economy! And we'll export this technology to other countries and become a global leader in a new Green Economy. Nowhere in all of this euphoria is any mention of cutting back. Nobody wants to ride a bike, nobody wants to get sweaty, and nobody wants to stop traveling to Europe.

Hello World

Well here I go. I've had a lot of thoughts racing through my head the last few months, and I'm going to post a bunch of it on this blog. If you're my friend or a family member, go ahead and read it and maybe it'll give you an idea of what's going through my head.