Monday, June 30, 2008

Doing Something Well

This quote is in the thought of the day from inward/outward.

E. B. White

I have no heroes, no saints. I do have a tremendous respect for anyone who does something extremely well, no matter what. I would rather watch a really gifted plumber than listen to a bad poet. I'd rather watch someone build a good boat than attend the launching of a poorly constructed play. My admirations are wide-ranging and are not confined to arts and letters.

Source: The New Yorker

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Kayaking On The Snohomish River

It was such a nice day today I got out my kayak and launched it at Langus Park.

From Langus Park you can head up the Snohomish River to the Estuary Watertrail shown in these Everett Parks and Recreation pictures and map, or you can head down the river to the Everett Waterfront and Jetty Island.

You do have to be aware of the tides and wind in this area. There are areas in the estuary that turn into mucky mud flats as the tide goes out and you wouldn't want to get stuck in your kayak waiting for the incoming tide. It's also a good idea to have a map since it's a fairly large area with a variety of interconnecting waterways (some of which are dead-ends).

If you head down river from Langus Park you get into some open water that can get pretty choppy in the wind and a little tricky with tide rips (where the outgoing river is meeting an incoming tide) and occasional boat wakes.

I generally plan my trips so I'm paddling up river on the incoming tide and reach the sloughs (Union, Steamboat and Ebey) while the tide is still rising and am out of the shallow areas before the tide starts to go out.

The estuary is a really fascinating place and a quiet kayak is a good way to explore it. I saw blue herons, cormorants, a sandpiper, some red wing blackbirds and a variety of other birds today. I've seen river otters, bald eagles, and deer on other trips into the area. It's pretty amazing considering how close it is to a densely populated area. You can read about the area in this article from the Seattle P.I.

I have an Old Town Loon 138 kayak that I bought at REI years ago which works well for the type of water you see in this area. It has a big cockpit, it's stable, tracks well, and will carry 380 pounds.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Jetty Island Ferry Starts July 5th

You can ride a small ferry to Everett's Jetty Island beginning July 5 through Sept. 1, 2008.

This information is from the City's website -
10 a.m.-5:50 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday (Closed Tuesday)
10 a.m.-8:50 p.m. Friday and Saturday
11 a.m.-6:50 p.m. Sundays

Jetty Island is a two-mile long, man-made island with rare sandy beaches and shallow warm water.

The free Jetty ferry departs from the 10th Street Boat Launch and Marine Park, located at 10th Street and W. Marine View Drive. The ferry travels to and from the island at 30 minute intervals throughout the day. Donations to help offset the cost of the ferry service are greatly appreciated. Pick up your individual boarding passes at the kiosk located in the park.

City of Everett residents with a current resident card or current driver’s license with an Everett address or groups of 12 or more may make reservations by calling 425-257-8304. All reservations must be made with a minimum of one week advance notice. Private group tours are offered at 10:45 a.m. or 3:30 p.m. daily.

Please donate! Your contribution will help us continue to provide the free ferry service to Jetty Island. Suggested amounts to help defray ferry expenses are: $2/adults and $1/children.

This article from the Seattle P.I. has more information and some pictures of Jetty Island.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sorticulture 2008

Sorticulture 2008
Originally uploaded by Jack Crossen
Everett's annual Sorticulture Festival was last weekend, featuring local arts, crafts, furniture, plants, food, wine and music. It's a fun place to check out if you are in the market for something a little different for your yard or house.

If you missed it there's always next year.

The city of Everett does a great job helping to make this community a nice place to live with events like Sorticulture, Cinema Under the Stars, Music in the Parks, Fourth of July in Everett, Public Art and the Bayside Bicentennial P-Patch

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Gorditos Mexican Restaurant

Gordito's Huge Burrito
Originally uploaded by Jack Crossen
Gorditos in Everett is located on Hewitt Avenue across from the Everett Events Center.

They have really tasty and healthy Mexican food. I've had the vegan burritos a few times and they are a treat.

As you can see from the picture their burritos are huge.

This description is from their website -

"What makes our food healthful you ask?…We are completely transfat free, our beans are made without lard or oil, our rice without chicken stock, all of our meats are grilled, and our salsas are all made from fresh tomatoes and chiles.

We have many vegetarian and vegan options, even our chips are completely animal free.

Our specialty would be our “Wet Burrito” or “Wet Burrito Grande” and you can have this with chicken, steak, pork, tofu, fish, prawns, spinach, or meatless. Another options for these burritos would be fajita style veggies, sautéed bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes in one of our homemade salsas and rolled into the burrito…Mmmmm, it makes me hungry thinking about it."

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

NBA Championship - Lakers and Celtics

I haven't been watching or attending NBA games since the Sonics tanked, but I've really enjoyed the Celtics - Lakers championship series. It's great seeing Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and the other Celtics win against the favored Lakers.

Nine of ten experts at ESPN predicted the Lakers would win the championship. Before the series started - Jeff Van Gundy one of ABC's announcers, told the New York Post he picked the Lakers to win, called the Lakers the most talented team in the NBA and predicted a Laker Dynasty

I'm not a die-hard fan of any team but it really seems to me that the ABC coverage of this championship series has really biased towards the Lakers. Jeff Van Gundy and the other ABC announcers have been saying goofy fan-boy things during the game like calling Kobe Bryant - who's made 38 of 88 (43%) shots from the field in these 4 championship games and had 1 assist in game 3 - the "best player on the planet". Comments like that from the announcers make me want the Celtics to win even more....just so they'll be quiet.

If you haven't been following the championship, the Celts went up 3-1 in the series tonight by winning the game 97-91 after trailing by a finals record of 24 points at the end of the first quarter.

There's one more game in LA on Sunday and games 6 and 7 (if required) will be in Boston next Tuesday and Thursday. Games start at 8:30 p.m. ET.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Wright Park - Tacoma Washington

Wright Park is a really nice looking park but I only had time to take pictures of these two lions at the gate last Sunday because we were on our way to have lunch. These sandstone lion statues were brought from Europe, and installed in the park in 1891. They look great for 117 year olds.

This park is also the home of the W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory, voted "best place to relax in Tacoma" by readers of the Tacoma Weekly, and has free wireless access.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Installing Ubuntu

Using Wubi -

The latest version of Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron) has an application called Wubi which is a Ubuntu Installer for Windows. It sounds like the best way to go for someone who wants to try out Ubuntu.

Wubi needs 5 Gbytes of hard drive space to install Ubuntu so you should defrag your hard drive and make sure you have that much free space before proceeding.

You'll need to download the Ubuntu image file and burn the .iso image to a CD using something like InfraRecorder available from

It will take awhile to download Ubuntu. The Ubuntu disk image is about 700 Mbytes and it took me about an hour to download it using BitTorrent over DSL. It took me about ten minutes to download using 15 Mbps FiOS and I wasn't using a torrent. If you don't have a fast connection you can get a free CD from Ubuntu (delivery may take up to 10 weeks), or for a small fee from various resellers. As an example, will ship you the CD for $4.90 ($1.95 for burning the disk and $2.95 for shipping).

I haven't used Wubi but it sounds like a good way to go from what I've read. :: Use Wubi to install Ubuntu without partitioning.

Another Way -

When I installed Ubuntu I downloaded the image file from Ubuntu and then burned the .iso (image) file to a CD using ISO Recorder. Note: I couldn't get the latest version of ISO recorder to work recently but a good open-source free software alternative is InfraRecorder available from

Before you download Ubuntu and install it you should -
  • Run the Windows defrag application.
  • Verify you have at least 8 Gbytes of free contiguous hard drive space to install Ubuntu.
  • Read a little about hard drive disk partitioning because during the Ubuntu installation you will be asked to repartition your hard drive to shrink the amount of hard drive space that Windows is allowed to use to allow space for Ubuntu. Installing Ubuntu allows you to use something called Grub (Grand Unified Boot Loader) to repartition your hard drive. After installing Ubuntu, when you turn on your computer a text screen appears allowing you to select which operating system you want to use (Ubuntu or Windows).
  • Back up any files you can't stand to lose (in case something goes wrong with the install).
  • Find a blank 700 Mbyte CD you can use to burn the .iso file on
When you start your laptop/computer with the installation CD you made, in the CD/DVD drive, it will probably start to boot up from the CD, and installation of Ubuntu is pretty much self-explanatory from there. If your computer doesn't boot off a CD you can change the BIOS boot sequence so it will.

These instructions for Installing a Dual-Boot with Windows and Ubuntu and Dual Boot Ubuntu and Windows - Community Ubuntu Documentation look pretty good to me for more detailed information.

A couple of things about Linux or Ubuntu to keep in mind is that it should be fun to play with your computer, and there are a lot of ways to accomplish the same thing. Just keep trying until you figure out what works for you. There are lots of good resources on the web where you can learn from expert users. One thing I've observed is that the level of knowledge you see on the forums tends to be high since you have a mix of open source programmers who know the code and regular users like me.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Jimmy Carter Had a Plan For Energy - 31 Years Ago

This article by Thom Hartmann discusses Jimmy Carter's energy speech to the nation given on April 18, 1977.

Carter's speech from 31 years ago can be summed up in this statement from his speech -

"Because we are now running out of gas and oil, we must prepare quickly for a third change, to strict conservation and to the use of coal and permanent renewable energy sources, like solar power."

According to the Thom Hartmann article -
"Ronald Reagan's first official acts of office included removing Jimmy Carter's solar panels from the roof of the White House, and reversing most of Carter's conservation and alternative energy policies."
We all know there hasn't been a President or Congress since then willing to address these issues. I think the lesson is that in 1977, an intelligent independent Democrat was willing to tell the American people the truth and stand up to the special interest groups. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we will elect another President like that on November 4th.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Mighty-O - Tasty Donuts in Seattle

We went to Mighty O Donuts in Seattle's Wallingford neighborhood this Sunday to try some fresh organic vegan donuts. I probably won't be having breakfast there regularly since each donut is 300 to 400 calories of fatty sweet flour but they did taste good and were fun to have as a treat. I posted a map here.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

The Middleton Family at the 1939 New York World's Fair

This Westinghouse movie about the 1939 World's Fair is an interesting look at America and our relationship to technology, faith in corporations and capitalism.

From the Internet Archive -
"This drama illustrates the contribution of free enterprise, technology, and Westinghouse products to the American way of life. The Middleton Family at the New York World's Fair pits an anti-capitalist bohemian artist boyfriend against an all-American electrical engineer who believes in improving society by working through corporations. The Middletons experience Westinghouse's technological marvels at the Fair and win back their daughter from her leftist boyfriend.

Memorable moments: the dishwashing contest between Mrs. Modern and Mrs. Drudge; Electro, the smoking robot; and the Westinghouse time capsule."

In 1939 we were nearing the end of the Great Depression, things were looking pretty bleak in Europe with Hitler and the Nazi's on the rise - invading Czechoslovakia and Poland, and attacking Finland. It's a bit troubling that the bad boyfriend is a leftist/Marxist/artist rather than a Nazi or a fascist considering the events that were unfolding in Europe.

Corporations then, as now, were not in the business of ensuring freedom, democracy or human rights - so the threat to a capitalist consumer economy is not a fascist but those pesky Marxist's spouting off about class consciousness and the exploitation of workers.

FDR talked about the need to keep an eye out for fascism in a speech in 1942 promoting the strengthening of anti-trust laws -
"The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power."

The movie literally and figuratively is not black and white. It has some points about what technology brings us in the way of freedom from drudgery, and how bright and shiny the future was looking, with all the swell electrical devices Westinghouse was developing. There's a good dig at serious intellectuals when the daughter tells her radical boyfriend that her dad told him he liked Karl Marx because he thought they were talking about one of Harpo and Groucho's brothers. The boyfriend tells her he doesn't know who the Marx Brothers are. I'm always a little worried about people without a sense of humor since I think it may be easier for them to fall into being True Believers.

I don't think Westinghouse had designs to take over the government in 1939 or was particularly evil. The same is true of corporations today - they aren't inherently evil but they are not intended to be watchdogs of freedom, human rights or democratic ideals. We balance the power of corporate capitalism with labor unions, a free press and freely elected government officials who are charged with looking out for the interests of all people and not just the powerful moneyed elite. It's all about balance I suppose...

It's an interesting piece of history in any event and the robot demonstration at 33:54 is a classic. "Electro" says he has a brain made of "48 electrical relays" which might explain why he's not intelligent enough to object to smoking a cigarette while the crowd laughs at him. Talk about exploitation.

Friday, June 06, 2008

It Only Took Me About 8 Hours

I finally got this laptop to shut down nice and pretty again. It was working fine, I just didn't like seeing the text scrolling when it shut down. Now I once again see the cool looking Ubuntu splash bar showing me it's powering off (image below). I'd tell you how but it's really boring. I suppose some people would think of better things to do on a Friday night - but for me - that was fun. To top things off I left the light on in the kitchen as a mini-celebration just because it's Friday night and watched Battlestar Galactica.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Ways to Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude

Susie Cortright, the founder of the online magazine Momscape offers five tips on creating an attitude of gratitude.

  • Choose your friends wisely by associating with people who are spiritually strong, supportive, empowering, intelligent, energetic and positive.
  • Day by day hour by hour make it a goal to stop complaining.
  • Give the gift of gratitude by being a model, to help others be satisfied with the small things.
  • Say thank you to all the people you appreciate, it will remind you of all the things other people do for you.
  • Be mindful of the little things and give thanks for the beauty that surrounds us.


I've read a lot of self-help books (I need a lot of help trust me), and one interesting and potentially valuable things I've run across is a positive self-affirming statement I found in a book by Zig Ziglar. He suggested you tape this to your mirror and read it every morning.

"I am a person of integrity with a good positive, “Gosh!” attitude and specific goals. I have a high energy level, am enthusiastic, and take pride in my appearance and what I do. I have a sense of humor, lots of faith, wisdom, and the vision, empathy, and courage to use my talents effectively. I have character and am knowledgeable. My convictions are strong, and I have a healthy self-image, a passion for what is right, and a solid hope for the future.

I am an honest, sincere, hardworking person. I am tough but fair and sensitive. I’m disciplined, motivated and focused. I am a good listener and patient, but take decisive action. I am bold, authoritative, and confident, yet humble. I am an encourager, a good-finder, an excellent communicator, and I am developing winning habits. I am loving, caring, gentle and kind, and I am a student, a teacher, and a self-starter. I have a servant’s heart and self-control. I am ambitious, cheerful, courteous, respectful, compassionate and a team player. I am personable, optimistic and organized. I am consistent, considerate, generous, and resourceful. I am intelligent, persistent, and creative. I am health-conscious, balanced and sober. I am flexible, punctual, thrifty, and diligent.

I am a giving, forgiving, personable, friendly, unselfish, mannerly, neat, obedient good-finder who does my best at whatever I do. I am also a versatile, curious, mature, action-oriented person who responds to life’s challenges, and I have a strong desire to succeed in all areas of life.

I am a prudent, honorable person, and I run my life with integrity and discernment. I am truly grateful for the opportunity life has given me. These are the qualities of the winner I was born to be, and I am fully committed to develop these marvelous qualities with which I have been entrusted. I know that by doing this I will be happier, healthier, more prosperous, and more secure. I will also have more peace of mind, more friends, better family relationships, and more hope for a better future.

These are the qualities of the winner I was born to be. Today is the first day of the rest of my life, and it’s going to be wonderful.

Tonight I’m going to sleep wonderfully well. I will dream powerful, positive dreams. I will awaken energized and refreshed, and tomorrow’s going to be magnificent!"

Source: Zig Ziglar

Here's a link to a PDF copy if you'd like to print a copy of the self affirmation.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Upside of $8-a-gallon Gasoline - MarketWatch

Chris Pummer at CBS MarketWatch provides Eight reasons you'll rejoice when we hit $8-a-gallon gasoline.

He acknowledges $8 a gallon gasoline would create an "economic squeeze" but believes it would be "the pain before the gain" which I suppose could range from some sort of a Mad Max scenario to the happy world he envisions where we do away with internal combustion engines, sprawl, our dependence on oil - all by some sort of to-be-determined miracle brought about by the fact that gasoline will be prohibitively expensive for many people which then drives business to invent and invest in cheaper sources of fuel.

If we are talking about discretionary items (televisions, computers, cell phones) or necessities of life (food, clothing shelter) where there are already multiple options that "let the market decide" idea makes sense. The problem is farmers, truckers, commuters, the military, airlines, fire and police departments don't have much, if any, discretion when it comes to fuel right now. What happens while we figure out those alternative energy sources is anyone's guess.

The bottom line is we hope that fuel prices drive private sector innovation and government action, without starting food wars and the hijacking of tanker trucks.

You get what you bargained for. We had a wake up call in the 70's and a government that was working on a viable energy policy, but that ended when Ronald Reagan became president and no president or Congress since then has had the vision or the fortitude to tackle the issue. It is, or will be, obvious that leaving energy policy to the private sector was not and will not be a good idea. There are too many fractured interests and good capitalists that will put profit above what is best for us as a nation and we can't blame them - a corporation's purpose is to make money. But somebody has to be looking out for what is best for the people - that's what government is for.


Postscript - I didn't really want to close this on a negative note, because I'm very optimistic in the power of people to work together to find solutions. We will find alternative sources of energy and in the mean time we can make allowances to reduce our use of energy to ensure we have enough to provide the basic necessities.

It's best to view things with a sense of equanimity that gives us some perspective. Putting the price of energy into perspective requires we think about what it is we truly value. If asked most of us would say we value family, friends, loving others, and being loved.

All the rest of it really doesn't matter.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Obama Is Poised To Clinch Victory

Yet another exciting day in the Democratic race to choose the next president.

Senator Claire McCaskill adds a bit of drama by saying a number of superdelegates will be committing to Barack Obama by sunset. The South Dakota and Montana polls close at 6 and 7 pm respectively (Pacific time). We'll get to hear Barack Obama talk from the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul and Hllary Clinton from Baruch College in New York City.

From the Washington Post -

"Obama campaign officials, meanwhile, held out hope that the senator from Illinois would be able to cross the finish line when the polls close in Montana on Tuesday evening, and that superdelegates would then be ready to come forward in large numbers.

He expects to pick up about 20 pledged delegates in Tuesday's primaries, leaving him roughly two dozen superdelegates short of the 2,118 mark. Sen. Claire McCaskill (Mo.), an Obama supporter, told reporters in the Capitol on Monday afternoon that she had spoken to 10 undeclared superdelegates since Sunday and that they all understood that the race was likely to be over Tuesday night.

'They think this competition is about to wind down,' McCaskill said. 'Yes, they will be committing, and yes, they will be committing before sunset tomorrow (Tuesday).'"

I'm not going to get set to celebrate the magic number of 2118 delegates being reached tonight. It's obvious that Barack Obama will be the Democratic Presidential Nominee. The key will be to watch Hillary Clinton bow out gracefully. She fought a hard fight, but it just wasn't the right time. People are tired of polarization, conspiracy theories and politics. We want government to address issues on the economy, jobs, energy, education, health care, veteran's benefits, foreign policy, national and social security - not a continuation of the partisan us vs. them - anyone who disagrees is our enemy and "win" at any cost mentality that rules our almost non-functional federal government today.

I've linked to this New Yorker article by George Packer previously but it should be required reading for anyone who wants to know something about how we got where we are today -

The Fall of Conservatism - The New Yorker

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Everett Farmer's Market Opens Today

Cut Flowers
Originally uploaded by Jack Crossen
Today was the opening day of the Everett Farmer's Market on the waterfront. It will be open from 11 am to 4pm every Sunday until September 28.

We got a couple of bouquets of cut flowers (they have great prices), a couple of perennial outdoor plants - Incarvillea delavayi hardy climbing gloxinia and "Butterfly Lavender" Trailing Impatiens, and a peaceful Buddha for the garden.

Originally uploaded by Jack Crossen

Originally uploaded by Jack Crossen