Livin’ at a loggin’ camp, dreamin’ of owls with dynamite

I don’t know about you, but where I am, there’s been the sound of chainsaws all day for pretty much the entire week, and even today on Saturday there’s no respite. Sure, it’s all about recovering from the crazy wind storm that blew in and killed the power here for several days, but it’s feeling like I’m living at a logging camp.

It’s a little bit like torture. I had a dream last night that I woke up to find that all the trees, as far as my eye could see, had been “cut down for public safety.” And, every time one of those chainsaws revs up, I have this fantasy about spotted owls swooping in with dynamite to save the forests.

Come to think about it, I can’t get the image of the animal rights terrorists out of my head. See, this image makes the clear connection between the activists as terrorists and the fear of a living planet to which the activists are allied. The meaning of this image is that if spotted owls could carry dynamite, the gun-tottin’ environment-rapin’ people in the world would be in serious trouble. Not only are the activists the enemy, but the entire environment is the enemy.

This is interesting to me because of all the folklore and myth about dangerous nature across cultures, but especially in the human versus nature story embedded in western culture. The myth is that the scary natural world is out to get humans, and humans have to fight back for their lives. The wild forest as a place of serious danger, and of magic, is a place to be feared. This is that place past the borderland, where the old woman of the forest, the Baba Yaga, lives.

So, apparently animal rights and environmental terrorists are the new druids, allied with the natural world and fighting along side the animals. The more I think about that image, of the animal rights terrorists marching with the animals, the more I love it.

Anyhow, over at Daily Kos, Wonkette is being called out for that post. But, you know, this is a post-modern world … so what if it’s not real? I’m sure I’ve seen the evil TV image before somewhere, but where?

And, in a way, apparently, Nature really is rising up. [ via ]

Phishing goes local

In a post to TESC Crier, there’s a note about a phishing scam that targets Washington State Employee Credit Union members:

Two new email Phishing scams are targeting WSECU members.  The email appears to come from WSECU. In fact, it comes from an fraudulent source shown as (Inbonline@wastatecu.org) The two e-mail subject lines are: Enroll in “Challenge Questions” Authentication Now and Changes coming to online banking!

Phishing isn’t new. Banks being the target isn’t new. What strikes me about this is that the bank isn’t a national bank. It’s a smaller bank, on a more local scale. So, the scams are moving down the food chain toward the small banks, apparently.

This, to me, seems like a big deal because the smaller the scale of bank the more damage, overall, a service interruption could become. And, the smaller the bank, it seems to me, the less Internet fraud detection and recovery infrastructure there will be in place.

On the other hand, the smaller the bank the more likely there will be clues in the scam that give it away as not being genuine. At some level, the social engineering used by these scams requires that the individual not recognize there’s something wrong. So, the larger, more formal, more distant communication from the institution usually is, the easier that is to spoof. However, for smaller, more personal banks, one would think they would have more unique communication styles, perhaps more personal, that, if missing, would offer a clue to the individual that there’s a problem.

But, it’s still very interesting to see that a smaller, more local bank is being targetted by phishers. I suspect that the availability of e-mail addresses for the state colleges and universities, harvested from websites and list archives, makes state employee credit unions an easy target.

If the trend were to continue, I could imagine that Evil Personâ„¢ might harvest e-mail addresses off of local Olympia blogs, like Olyblog, and try phishing with fake e-mail from even more local banks, like South Sound or even Tulip. There’s a point where one might pass the point of diminishing returns, but then there’s also the fact that for every local bank here, there’s banks in other places on the same scale … so there’s an economy of scale to phishing lots of smaller banks, I suppose.

It will be interesting to see how the push of spam and phishing goes – if it goes more and more local, more and more targetted.

What if instead of random text, a spam tool used keywords or maybe even just the target e-mail to google up some related text and parsed that into the e-mail? It would be like being spammed by a million monkeys on typewriters, and could become a really surreal experience. It would be like personalized engrish, or a daily personalized message from Wm. S. Burroughs! Now, how cool would that be?

Welcome to a taste of post-abundance

The PSE outage line reports 700,000 estimated without power in their service area, and days if not a week to restore power to everyone.

… but, you know, at least that power generator you bought for Y2K is useful now … as long as your gas supply holds out. Get your syphon ready to pull gas out of your car’s tank!

Funny things:

  • I can’t go to the bathroom without a candle. Stupid design!
  • It took me 1/2 hour to get candles and search my old equipment for a phone that actually works without power.
  • My nifty camp stove that burns twigs, but requires a 9v battery seems a little oxymoronic to me now.
  • I have way more candles in this house than I realized.

And, best of all, the 3-4 hour battery life of this laptop I use … while awesome that it’s got a battery so I can use it at all … is really short when there’s no power main to plug into. Which is just insane that my computer is my main priority … you know, at least, until I get hungry and realize I can’t cook anything … Wait. What?

How sane is it that to survive retail makes us insane?

I only noticed this yesterday, but Mervyn’s is closing in the Mall. This was announced as far back as January at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Layoff Tracker.

Mervyns LLC said Monday that it will close 20 stores — including all 13 in Washington — by next year, affecting more than 1,400 positions, as the struggling retailer aims to improve its profits.

The last paragraph offers the tidbit that Mervyn’s was owned by Target, but sold off. Major retail brands being owned by the same actual company. Another case of the disease in the detergent aisle: the appearance of choice, but no real choice. The appearance of competition, but no real competition. Oh, what tangled webs corporations weave, when they practice branding to deceive:

Mervyns has been steadily losing market share to more nimble competitors for years. Frustrated with the chain’s meager returns, Target Corp. sold Mervyns last year for $1.65 billion to a group of investors that includes Sun Capital Partners Inc., Cerberus Capital Management LP and Lubert-Adler and Klaff Partners LP.

I can’t help but wonder what this means for the other stores in the “shoppolis” (to try and coin a new word: shop-city, the artificial towns comprised of retail and little or no residential buildings.). So many retail companies rely on the holiday season to make money. My understanding, from many years ago, was that if a retail company didn’t make money during the holiday season they simply did not make money for the year.

This is shocking to realize. Not only does this mean that the rest of the year is a loss-leader to get people to shop with some kind of brand loyalty during the holiday, but it also means that normal, everyday purchasing of goods is not enough to sustain retail businesses. If people shopped as they normally do every other day of the year during the holidays then the retail economy would collapse. That means that the success of retail requires that people behave as if they are insane for months of the year. How sane is that?

And, that insanity is the fuel that makes the engine run. Without that fuel, there would be rolling blackouts in the Shoppolis.

But what happens when Mervyn’s goes out of business and is selling everything, even the fixtures? Will this be a gravity well for consumers seeking cheap goods for the holidays? If Mervyn’s sucks up money that would have gone to making the year for other stores, then other stores in the mall may not survive the collapse of Mervyn’s.

And, here’s a funny twist: while retail requires us to be insane, we have to be consistently insane. From The curious economics of temptation. – By Tim Harford – Slate Magazine:

Mainstream economics has no way to describe Frances’ behavior, because it assumes people are impatient in a consistent way

(I just had a moment of self-doubt about whether it was Mervyn’s or Mervyns, but find that I’m comfortably old school with the name.)

If you use DSL, you’ve already lost …

I’ve been meaning to write something about this for a long time. This won’t be a perfectly thought out piece. It’s been years since this stuff was in my head, so it is what it is.

In thinking about net neutrality, I was remembering back to the early, early days of DSL. At the time, I was a system admin, jack-of-all-trades at one of the largest regional ISPs in the Puget Sound, based in Seattle.

The thing I realized as we were all discussing whether to get into the DSL business was the fact that DSL traffic was being routed over the ATM network. Any packets on the ATM network from DSL were not given priority and could be dropped. This was in the contracts that the ISP had to sign. The data to and from ISP customers connecting via DSL were the least important data on the ATM network and if there were any congestion, that data could be killed.

I remember realizing that this was the big dirty secret. Not only could the big teleco get dial-up people off the wire with their long calls and need for decent quality, but by moving the customers of independent ISPs on to the ATM network the big teleco could do all kinds of prejudicial and nasty routing of that data.

So, my point is this: independent ISPs were forced by the big telecos to give up network neutrality when they started to offer DSL services back in the 90s. And, individuals connecting to the Internet via DSL also lost network neutrality silently in the same moment.

Big telecos might be so cavalier about net neutrality these days because they know they’ve been winning that war for years already. They’ve always been trying to monetize the data both ways, and now that the independent regional and smaller ISP is pretty much irrelevant … who’s left to be vigilant if not the individuals themselves?

The send-off of the Pomoroy and a tale of two workers

So, the ship that the stryker group has been loading into has left. The action in Olympia surrounding this was a 10 day attempt to blockade the vehicles as they moved through Olympia to the Port.

the-die-in.jpg

I had the opportunity to participate in the send-off event as the ship left the Port. I took some pictures of the “die-in” as the ship left the Port, which was a symbolic enactment of the deaths that would occur because of the ship’s departure and also sympathetically a show of how we all die a little when others suffer or die.

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There were a large number of press taking pictures and doing interviews, including the Olympian. I was amused by the frantic was that the photographers rushed to anything that held even the slightest promise of direct action by the protestors or the guards. The guards consisted of, at least, Port security, Coast Guard and County Sheriffs. And, I’m sure at least one of the idling vehicles there was some form of other national security team.

blurry-gun-boats.jpg

The guards all had automatic weapons, and the two Coast Guard boats in the water each had two high caliber machine guns, one at each end. The show of force was not completely absurd, but palpable. There was a mixture of sorrow and humour among the protestors, and I’m pretty certain that I caught a smile or two from the guards. Whether that was laughing with or at us, I cannot say.

the-pomoroy.jpg

I was recognized by one of the others, who is a professor at Evergreen, who said some kind words to me about my failed run for City Council, including that I should give a call if I run again some day. It was nice to hear those kind words.

As public as this protest was, and it reached national news, including CNN, among others; there are also other facets of the protest that will likely never reach the public.

juxtaposition.jpg

For example, there was a struggle among co-workers at a coffee roaster located next to the Port of Olympia entrance. This is a tale of two workers. The first worker is a young, recent college graduate that needs the work, and would like a future with the company in other ways than scooping roasted beans. The second is a grandmother that doesn’t want to learn anything she doesn’t have to learn, and wants only to do the work she is willing to understand, especially avoiding special projects and anything to do with computers. Interestingly, both of the workers are transplants from the same mid-western state, just strikingly different in every other way.

The first saw the protestors standing in the cold and rain, and knowing that she was allowed to take coffee home, and to use hot pots from work for private events, decided to, on her break, take coffee out to warm the protestors. She made sure to take off her company apron, and go on her break. She made sure that she told the protestors that she was not acting as a representative of the company, and that she was acting on her own, on her break. Over the days, she also suffered, silently, comments made by some customers, such as, “Those people look like something you’d scrape off your shoe,” or, with derision, “They all look like Evergreen students to me!” She was conscious of her work environment, and the need to keep her private life and activities separated from her work.

The second, seeing the first take coffee out to the protestors, told managers that the first was stealing coffee to give out. Not talking to the first at all, but going sneakily to tell lies to their manager, the second claimed the first was being unethical. When a third worker also took coffee out on a break, making clear that it was also this third’s personal act and not that of the company, the second worker banged on the window from the inside and made faces at the third as she walked to the protestors outside. The second worker then refused to give the third a promised ride home, claiming that she didn’t trust the third and didn’t want that person in her car. This second worker was also seen at closing time allowing one more person through the door, but, then, at the same moment refusing service to two of the protestors that were also trying to come in behind the previous. To the protestors, while on the clock, this second worker refused service to a specific kind of customer, saying that the place was closed.

This is only one example of the kind of unseen and unheard battles that happen in this city.

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Zhonka is the new OlyWa

On a lark, I checked Zhonka’s website and learned something I did not realize:

Founded and managed by experienced Internet pioneers from OlyWa.net …

I had mentioned OlyWA in previous posting in relation to smaller ISPs being purchased by telecoms, in this case OlyWa purchased by ATG. So, now it turns out that at least some of the OlyWa people have moved on. Also, the OlyWa website now goes to a 404 at ATG/Eschelon.

It’s interesting to go back and check on old players. I used to check every once in a while on old players like Spry and others, but slowed down when things got boring. However, here’s proof that there’s still some entertainment to be had in spotting the changes to the old guard.

As an aside, I notice that on the bottom of the Zhonka page is the following:

“As per RCW 19.190.40, it is a punishable offense to send unsolicited e-mail to Washington state addresses.”

Which is a statement that I find specific to a certain generation of Internet savvy people in Washington state. It’s something I added to the bottom of my page back in the day, and still retain there.

Eminent domain and water rights

Via OlyBlog, “local ownership of local resources“:

today’s paper reports that the Olympia city council took action to reclaim our water rights at the brewery.
As I understand it, the current owner is in danger of defaulting on his loan. If he does, then the water rights will go to his lender in California or to the highest bidder.”

Interesting local use of power of eminent domain. Using eminent domain to save a resource like the water rights should be applauded. This also highlights the way that eminent domain empowers local governments to work toward the greater good.

I do believe that the government should reserve the rights of eminent domain and the ability to escheat the land for the common, greater good. This ability has been steadily chipped away, so there is a value in the Kelo decision. However, the SCOTUS decision seems to implicitly link the common, greater good to economic interests, essentially extrinsic use of property. This tends to deny the intrinsic value of property, such as the value to future generations and other needs which are balanced in a triple bottom line. I have a concurring opinion on this issue. While I tend to agree with the overall decision, I do not follow the logic or reasoning that was used to get there. And, I likely don’t agree with how the decision will end up being used. Kelo does seem to lead down a road that parallels the misuse of the 14th amendment by the courts. It is a good outcome that will come to no good.

So, seeing the power of eminent domain used for the greater good, in the case of securing the water rights for the old brewery, seems to be a welcome surprise. There needs to be a tension between either individuals or governments having unbridled power. I see that as an essential check an balance: the government and the people need to watch each other.

Just as 25% of the pollution in LA on some days (NYT via Boing Boing) is from China, the decisions that a property owner makes has wide ranging effects, and without the coordination of a community, a government, there is likely an unavoidable slide into patterns of failure like the tragedy of the commons. At the same time, current events should clearly indicate the need for the people to have the right and ability to check what their government is doing. If the watched cannot check the watchers, then there’s an infinite regression of watchers that ultimately only pushes the need for supervision and oversight further behind layers of control that can be subverted and manipulated. It may be possible to limit the size of government and decrease corruption if the people are actively involved. This closes the loop on an otherwise linear hierarchy.

I’ve gone on safari here.

Landing the plane: I suspect that property rights should be a equitable negotiation between individuals and the collective, the government or else something will go wrong horribly wrong. Neither should be left unchecked by the other.

Then there are situations like this one in Tacoma, which reminds me of the surprise and frustration that Jason and Wendi had when Seattle was thinking of taking their house to build a library. Of course, Jason and Wendi were living in the house, a beautiful Seattle bungalow, where I read completely through to the final paragraph to find that the property in Tacoma is an acre with a vacant house and that the owner wasn’t really completely out of the loop. (Interesting choice to put that information in the final paragraph.)

Swantown and Marshville née Cheetwoot

Around the Port everything is labeled “Swantown” and I just got around to looking into why.

Apparently named after one of the first european settlers in Olympia, John Swan, the Swantown Slough is an area that was filled in under, essentially, Plum St. and the remaining East Bay area. The Salish called it Cheetwoot. The original european settler’s city was called Swantown, later to be renamed as Olympia. The west side, originally called Marshville, was reached via a footbridge.

There’s some nice walking trails detailed by Olympia Today. (Which appears not to have an index page? What’s the entry point to this website?) [Update: Emmett O’Connell pointed me to the entry point. He has a newer Olympia Time online, as the old one is stale.] Trail No. 2 talks about the Swantown Slough.

An approximation of the original shoreline is outlined with bronze markers.

Some other references include:

The History of Olympia

Olympia’s History and Resources (HTML cache)

Eastside Neighborhood walk in Olympia, Washington

Mallory v City of Olympia (a case over a sewer construction project in Swantown Slough.)

Historic Preservation Plan (HTML cache)

Olympia 1879 (page with a lithographic image)

Olympia, WA 1917 (JPG image of a map showing old Main / Pacific Highway)

Olympia and Thurston County History

The Olympia Historical Society

Chez Cascadia, Olympia independent hostel

A poster about Chez Cascadia caught my eye last night. Apparently, there’s an independent hostel in Olympia. It looks like it’s new, not something I just managed to miss.

At $16/day, that’s a great option for visitors to and travelers through Olympia. It’s not clear to me if they have online booking up and running because no date I selected randomly had “online availability” but it’s still something worth keeping an eye on.

Is Olympia a leg on the green tortoise? (No, it appears not. Too bad.)

Update: Jacob Rosenblum of Chez Cascadia contacted me with corrections to this post, which I’ve made above. Looks like the direct link is now the first result at Google and even though the link at HostelWorld I originally offered is in the Google results, Chez Cascadia no longer appears at HostelWorld’s site. Somebody has been busy.

Either way, it’s great news that there’s a hostel in Olympia. My partner and I stayed in hostels for almost our entire trip in Ireland, and they were mostly wonderful, especially the independent hostels. Interestingly, in Germany, Austria and Northern Italy, I don’t remember seeing hostels, but there were Zimmer Frei (Available Rooms) in every town I was in. Apparently, although I didn’t see this for myself, there are also free shelters all the way over the Alps from Germany to Italy, which travelers can camp out in if they want to hike the whole way.

The opportunity to travel, and stay in new and different places, is an important part of my personal experience of the world. I have a hard time imagining a life without travel, though I recognize that quite a lot of people don’t travel.

One poll President Bush is winning

Interestingly, as I turned on the TV this morning, the question being asked on Family Feud was: “Who has the biggest ego in America?”

Let us just set aside the fact that it should have been “… in the US?” shall we, for now? This is almost a tabloid wish-list.

The survey says:

President Bush

42

Donald Trump

12

Tom Cruise

9

Bill Clinton

7

Paris Hilton

3

Simon Cowell

3

In fact, President Bush wins this one by a landslide, with only Donald Trump having more than honorable mention.

On a more serious note, this points out something important to me about President Bush’s actual approval rating. He may be under 50%, but if the other 50% are all over the map then he’s still on solid ground. What matters more is whether the other 50% have some kind of coordinating consensus. Otherwise, it’s just a long tail of fringe notions that do not really pose any opposition to be worried about.

But, there’s another interesting point about this. The first family guessed President Bush, the number one answer, first. Then they were unable to get any other answer. They thought of President Bush and could not think of anyone else with a big ego in the US. That’s something there.

Business group can’t budget?

Via “Downtown group seeks cash“:

The group that’s getting the new downtown improvement district off the ground is running low on cash.

The Olympia Downtown Association will start collecting dues again from its members, and has asked the city for $23,850 to support its programs and launch the improvement district.

Interesting choice, journalistically, to not name the ODA in the first paragraph.

So, first, the ODA was opting not to collect fees while seeking support for the PBIA, which is an interesting point. But they also have spent their allowance and are already asking for money from the City … not an auspicious beginning.

The comment about graffitti removal reminds me that I wanted to get a picture of that one that appeared above the New Moon before it goes away.

Can’t afford to build in downtown?

Via The Olympian, “Builder: Fees could kill condos“:

A developer planning to build 100 condominiums downtown says city, school and development fees are too high and could kill the project.

Wait. Wasn’t this the project that was going to build parking into the building also and was a great example of multiuse design and density for downtown?

Interesting how the comments from members of the City Council come from the two with direct ties to the ODA, which has a competing agenda for a parking garage downtown.

While I’m not sure that it makes sense to waive the fees that are talked about in this article, it occurs to me that there’s a disconnect between complaints about downtown vacancy rates and the cost of being downtown.

When there are people and businesses that would like to locate downtown but cannot or find that they cannot afford to be there once they do, then this may be an issue of rents being too high.

I don’t think the response to the perception of high vacancy rates should be to turn downtown into an upscale, open-air mall.

There’s a lot of land that is un- or under-utilized in the downtown of Olympia, but I suspect that, maybe even only a little, serves someone’s agenda. This becomes a contrived argument for changes that are only apparently necessary because the state of things has been created.

On some level, I think that I’ve always been proud of Olympia for keeping tight control on downtown. The example that always comes to me is the McDonald’s on Plum that doesn’t have the obnoxious arches. However, there’s a certain general hostility to businesses that might otherwise have chosen to be downtown, but locate elsewhere.

In my view, there’s a comparible struggle between downtown Olympia and the Pioneer Square area of Seattle. There is a character, an aesthetic that should be maintained. But, that has to stay in relationship with keeping an area economically viable.

It seems to me that if there are people in downtown that businesses would arrive to provide services. So, building a single-use parking facility or concentrating on businesses first might not be ideal. Finding a way to get people in downtown seems like it might be the ideal first step to creating a more vibrant downtown.

Of course, I can’t help but remember that the residents of the new water-facing condos in downtown Seattle complained about the summer concerts on the pier. Although an article I just searched suggests that the move to south lake union park was due to the piers needing repair, I seem to recall that the tension between the concerts and the residents was part of why they moved.

I bring this up because an increased number of residential building in downtown will have consequences for activities in downtown. One might be forgiven for thinking that complaints about homeless and teens in downtown are a bit shrill, but that’s nothing compared to what might happen when there’s more residential occupancy.

And therein is another consequence to higher density: a likely increased demand for police presence. That’s something to keep in mind, especially for city planners and for planners of community oversight.

Split along “party” lines …

Via The Olympian, “Lane cut from Capitol Way“:

But council members Joe Hyer, Jeff Kingsbury and Doug Mah weren’t ready to make that decision Tuesday night.

In a vote about having 3 or 4 lanes on Capital Way, one could easily be forgiven for thinking that the result was a division along party lines. Mah, Kingsbury and Hyer … voting based from what might be politely called a “business perspective.” If that perspective were more inclusive it might not be so striking. Not unexpected, I suppose given the apparent entanglement of the ODA interests.

There’s benefit to having a creative tension of community interests on the council, I would imagine. However, in such a small sampling of the community, voting blocs are too susceptible to being non-representative of the whole.

On the other hand, if Capital Way were to go down to 3 lanes, I cannot help but wonder if another path would be chosen by traffic. Would traffic move to all the way to Plum?

Historically, if I’ve figured correctly, Capital Way was the southern turn on the right angle that old 99 took through downtown. So, Capital Way was the primary path south from Pacific. That’s significant because it is the path that major traffic would have taken.

The question really should be asked is where should traffic go? Perhaps Plum is an ideal bypass for downtown, but there’s soon going to be, it has been projected, over 100 trucks a day heading toward the Port.

Perhaps another option to think about is to echo the matched one-way streets State and 5th which provide the east-west corridor by created matched one-way streets north-south as well.

Unfortunately, the north-south corridor is pinched between the Capital campus and there’s no neighboring street through this bottleneck. The only other primary north-south pathways appear to be Plum and Eastside which are too far to offer companionship to Capital Way, although they are close to eachother, and both connect with I-5.

I could imagine a north-south loop through downtown that utilized either Columbia or Washington to match Capital between the Capital Campus on the south end and the Farmer’s Market on the north end. Another option would be to use both Columbia and Washington as the loop with Capital being a 3 or 2 lane, very pedestrian and bike friendly corridor.

Of course, any decision should not be made only within the myopic scope of what to do now, but in the larger scope of a long term plan and vision by the community for downtown.

Update: In a more recent article, “Capitol Way plan: Fears of jams, hopes of safety” via The Olympian, it appears that the 3 lanes will be between 14th and Carlyon. That’s south of the bottleneck I was talking about on Capitol Way. So, I appear to have been talking about something else, not the area in which the change would happen. I was mostly talking about changes to the streets north of the bottleneck. I should have read the original article more clearly.

The print version of this newer article has some additional graphics which are worth a gander, which don’t appear to be attached to the online version. The image of the proposed three-lane road looks quite nice with bike paths and bus turnouts as well as a planted median. Somehow more appropriate to the residential neighborhoods than something approaching a highway. Of course, I can’t help but wonder if a nice light rail track might fit down the middle …

Brother, can you spare some locally grown food?

Via WorldNetDaily: Where are America’s emergency food supplies?:

The U.S. has been giving away a lot of food in recent years.

So much food, in fact, has America given away that its own emergency food reserves are shockingly low.

Higher density living also removes at a further distance from land they can collectively use to grow enough food to survive.

GMO food crops, which have been “leaving the reservation” and mixing with surrounding crops, have often been designed to not provide new seeds for the next planting season.

I feel like it would be important for me to start saving and trading food seeds, keeping heirloom seeds. This is something that I’ve felt even stronger after hearing Vandana Shiva speak about the global food supply, and seed exchanges.

Another string to weave here is the problematic notion of the Hundred-Mile Diet. For large cities, I can’t imagine there would be enough food in 100 miles, but what about a smaller city like Olympia?

I once imagined a circular route, serviced by transit, around a city. The entire circuit would be related to community plots, p-patches.

This seems like an important design constraint for a city thinking about itself. The ecological footprint of the residence would balance land use so that there would be some significant reservation of land for cultivation. A city should consider the value of planning for providing local food resources.

Another thread related to this is the cost of fuel. If there is a significant decline in availability of oil-based fuel, then growing switch grass or some other plant resource could become an essential, strategic use for cultivated land. Municipalities would be required to mediate energy supplies in an entirely new way.

What is the state of localized planning for such contingencies? Sure, it probably seems one step from collecting guns and building an underground shelter, but doesn’t this kind of planning also meet the needs for any disaster?

I’m having a reaction to my own words here. I’m thinking about “being ready” and “being prepared” and having visions of Boy Scouts, uniforms and para-military training … not my ideal for what I imagine, but it’s a possible direction people would go.

When Katrina hit, I thought very seriously about what it would mean to get trained for disaster response work. Seems like that would be a worthy and important set of skills for a community to acquire and keep.

These are a bunch of threads which I’ve not completely woven together as I’ve written this, but it does seem importantly connected to me.

On a similar note, I see that there’s an article at The Olympian about local food growers, “Call goes out for local growers“:

Local growers are pulling together to see if they can help keep food bank shelves stocked and feed a growing number of low-income people.

Update: Apparently, the discussion of switch grass was jump started by its inclusion into the SOTU speech, and there’s some discussion of the possible cronyism in this event over at Grist.

Nuclear Rabbit, Amy Denio & Sadhappy

There’s this bass player Jean Baudin that does an amazing version of the Mario theme on an 11 string bass. (Have you seen that? Mario 11-String Bass) well, I found out that he’s also in a band called “nuclear rabbit” … there’s mp3’s on the site: Nuclear Rabbit

As a strange bonus, here’s a guy noodling on an 11-string bass hooked up to a midi system … “Al Caldwell with a brand new 11 string midi mass” (Isn’t “Al Caldwell” the name of the religious leader seen in the West Wing pilot?)

Of course, my all-time favourite bass players are Amy Denio and Paul Hinklin of older Sadhappy. I was in heaven when they played two venues together back in the day. I think I still have the flyer for those shows. The first night, Sadhappy openned for Tone Dogs at the Crocodile Cafe and then next night the Tone Dogs openned for Sadhappy at the OK Hotel.

Those were in the days before Sadhappy added Skerik to the band, so it was just Paul Hinklin and Evan Schiller. I think Paul was getting tired of playing it at every show, but seeing him play “Between Four Horses” was like a religious experience for me, or at least something mind altering. The way his hand moved over the strings like some crazed tarantula while layers and layers of sound played … a torrential flow of music all the while his hand rhythmically arrives at the four courners of the neck, in order, over and over again … like the march of the inevitable that pulses and powers through the chaos of a storm.

And, Amy’s music and voice … she’s an artist I cannot too often praise or too highly recommend. She should be a world religion. Plus, she introduced me to the actual Sound Garden in Seattle back in the day …

Doing a google to find out more about where Paul Hinklin might be now, I find a page about Magdalen Hsu-Li with whom Paul Hinklin performed some. On her page, on her new album she appears to be working with band members that have worked with John Zorn, Wayne Horvitz, Ani DiFranco and others. I’m not so charged up about the sample music that I listened to on the site, honestly. Maybe the older stuff is more my taste. This new stuff sounds a little too mainstream blah to me.

Kudos to the Tacoma News Tribune

Yeah, not so much for their editorial slant, really, but they have very prominently placed a great number of direct RSS feeds. Wish the Olympian was as good in that regard, but at least, and certainly not ideal, the Olympian is a source for Google news, so one can search past articles. For example, try this search: Katherine Tam articles, sorted by date, and maybe subscribe to it as either RSS/Atom or via an e-mail alert. It’s also too bad that old articles have to be purchased to get access online at the Olympian, but that’s another complaint.

Of course, now that I look at them, I would be much happier about the News Tribune’s RSS feeds if they were full text, so let me revise and offer muted kudos, which is better than none, I suppose.

On the other hand, they are specifically friendly about blogs on that page:

We encourage the use of thenewstribune.com RSS feeds for personal use in a news reader or as part of a non-commercial Web site or blog.

This is especially important in relation to some other papers that might be pursuing an institutional policy against bloggers:

The reason The Washington Post is on the attack is that they see their influence waning and are desperate to tear down the credibility of the blogosphere.

Good Guys gone?

So, now I try to call the Good Guys, and their number has been changed to an 800 number. Instead, I go to the website and find that:

After more than 30 years of providing the best in high-end entertainment products, along with unmatched service and support, our freestanding stores are closing, and the Good Guys web site is no longer available for transactions.

They’re expanding some CompUSA locations. I wonder if the Oly store is going to convert, or if there’s a CompUSA moving into the West Olympia Mall now? Seems like Best Buy would have been smart to negotiate a non-compete clause when they moved into the mall.

I’m having a strong memory of the closure of all the Computer City locations back in the day.