Sparkling New Hotel

I only walked in the woods a few times during the winter. I’ve just been walking in town. Near the convention center. By a new hotel directly across the tracks from where I stood during a lunch break. A lot of homeless and encampments about. I hear some of my fellow employed express disdain toward the homeless for not having trash pick up service or toilets, both of which would cost money, which is typically earned through employment, unless its unearned income.

So, again, not much time in the woods recently, even though winter weather doesn’t bother me much. Walking during lunch, viewing this new hotel. Looking up at its countless vacant units and down at its nice ground floor retail space, also vacant. A Hyatt Regency, it is, with countless rooms with kitchenettes, showers and beds, vacant and staring down at homeless people. At ground level where I’m holding the camera, around me are impoverished people living on the streets searching for resources. Some are afflicted with mental illness and perhaps addiction to street entrepreneurs’ retail products. I’m not saying it’s a shame there won’t be a bustling hotel with hopping ground floor retail and office space serving an event-packed convention center across the light rail track. Those activities are in large part unnecessary regardless of economic state. I’m just observing there’s not much use for a hotel intended for that function, especially right now. Just observing the lack of utility in the whole arrangement, the abundance towering over the poverty. The irony of how physically close this idle resource abundance is to the surrounding poverty. Two blocks away is this encampment — one of the countless right now. It’s one of the smaller ones.

I think much of this — the hotel/commercial space vacancy, homelessness, drug addiction, mental illness — is due to moderation: moderation in public policy, in politics, by policymakers and lawmakers. A moderation that declines to establish a safety net. Now the new hotel has no people to sell goods and services to because some members of that market fell in absence of safety net, or they’re not spending much at all because they know there’s little safety net.

Moderation in what sense and for what intended result? I think it’s moderation by policymakers/lawmakers with the intent of not rocking the boat. Not upsetting campaign donor-investors of the DRIT (Democratic-Republican Investment Tool). The DRIT policy/lawmakers practice moderation to avoid upsetting their campaign donors (investors). Moderation to keep their head down. To avoid raising taxes on campaign donor-investors. Such a raising of taxes would cut into campaign donor-investors’ bottom lines. The DRIT lawmaker has to use as its compass the question “If I raise taxes or change certain tax laws even if only for the health of their own markets (an thereby sustenance of my re-election campaign) will my campaign donor-investor prevent my re-election?” The answer is yes, because of the campaign donor-investors’ short-term/shortsighted focus on business. Business as usual leads to a slippery slope of increasing market poverty, businesses vacating blocks of buildings, loss of rent income, vandalism, insurance claims, higher insurance premiums for the now tenant-less commercial landlord — all this giving the street entrepreneur an edge over the white collar entrepreneur in a given area of town. Here’s a spot a Jaguar dealership moved out of.

It seems like self-harm committed by proponents of neoliberalism and austerity. It’s like an economic analogy to anti-environmentalism: eliminating ones own markets instead of ones drinking water. Economically, it’s “don’t tax us. Don’t blow money on safety nets.” Then they watch their own markets disappear.

But maybe I’m all wrong about this. Perhaps it’s not a problem after all for the campaign donor-investors. If one diverts their investment away from goods, services, and commodities (GDP-type stuff) and toward financial markets, then all one really needs is virtual/electronic mechanisms that result in deposits into ones accounts.

Anyway, moderation is the game for a DRIT candidate to win or remain in office. Moderation is austerity. Moderation is the snipping of safety nets. Moderation is lowering of tax revenue and therefore short-changing students and teachers. Anything straying from the moderate is “bold”, “progressive”, “radical”, “fringe”, “extreme” — all those things that cut into DRIT campaign donor-investor bottom line but address topics like health care, education, disaster preparedness, pandemic preparedness, and long-term care for old Gramps who failed miserably to save enough money for his $6,800 a month shared room in a facility that can care for him.

We elected another DRIT moderate president in November, albeit one who is experiencing pressure from and responding to progressives and their critical topics that are inconvenient to wealthy campaign donor-investors. His American Rescue Plan is actually rescuing America not from pandemic economic fallout, but from decades of moderation, decades of moderates who brought us the perfect storm that is the last 12 months or so.

Anyway, back to the topic of playing outdoors next time. Some aspects of life are normalizing. Fortunate to have remained employed, I will be able to ride and walk landscapes soon.

In wilderness again…

…Drift Creek is where I ended up a couple of weeks ago, after looking at the real-time wildfire map and air quality forecast, and road conditions. Not all that far from the coast. Near the trailhead there was a glimpse of the river meeting the ocean.

After gaining that elevation on the drive to the trailhead, the hike was all descent to the creek-side campsites. Listening to birdsong much of the way:

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I ran into what I thought was a family (I later learned it was a boy scout group). Right/conservative-looking folks. But really, they were just more army surplus than rei aesthetically. Nice folks. A really nice kid in the group pointed me toward some great campsites along the creek when I asked if they knew of more downstream. My glance at his sheathed hunting knife might have looked like I was concerned, but in fact it was just that it was the same one I almost bought.

Kind of related, it’s odd how people on the left and right seem to fall in line and have hostility toward each other. The Right and Republicans should instead be grateful right now to the Democratic Party/DNC: in effort to protect its (Democrats’) wealthy donor-investors from its strong candidate (Sanders), who probably would have beat the Republican in 2016 and 2020, the Democrats/DNC instead knowingly ran its weak candidate — which handed victory to the Republican in 2016. This Democratic Party/DNC incompetence also paved the way for three conservative supreme court justice appointments (two were confirmed a while ago, one soon to be), plus many, many lower federal court conservative judge appointments already in place now. The Right should be delighted with the Democrats/DNC for bringing the USA a far-right White House and a now-heavily conservative supreme court — and for now re-gifting the Right in 2020 by again removing its strong candidate (Sanders) and instead running its weakling. This weakling candidate pick is also a gift to the Right because even if the president loses this November, it may make the loss so narrow that it bolsters his justification to doubt and contest the results with the help of his new, heavily conservative supreme court that the Democrats/DNC precipitated/paved the way for.

And the Left should not be hostile toward the Right/Republicans, but should instead be furious with the Democrats/DNC, who achieved exactly the opposite of what its supporters (the Left) wanted. Even if their weak-pick candidate were to win this time, the damage is done: we’ve already had about 4 years of a White House opposing the Democrats’/DNC’s supporters’ wishes in terms of domestic and foreign policy, and the supreme court has already been transformed into a service provider of conservative and extremist Republicans. (Out of respect for conservatives, it should be acknowledged that the Republican Party/RNC is currently extremist rather than conservative). The Left who voted Democrat in 2016 is still about to vote Democrat in 2020 even though the Dems/DNC are recycling their 2016 failed strategy of running their weak candidate. Anyway, the Left/centrist liberals/further left should be hostile toward the Democrats/DNC, not toward the Right/Republicans.

I don’t think the Democrats/DNC delivered the 2016 Republican victory and three conservative supreme court justice appointments intentionally; it’s just that they have a business to run — the Democratic Party/DNC, which, with intention, secures its wealth largely by legislating its donor-investors’ wealth. S0 the Democrats/DNC must protect their donor-investors from the likes of strong Democratic candidates like Sanders, and won’t have such a candidate interfering with its enterprise. Protecting donor-investors takes priority. The Dems/DNC did all this damage in the name of protecting its donor-investors from its strong candidate. Again, the left should be hostile toward the Democrats/DNC, not the Right and Republicans.

What a bunch of misplaced hostility there is.

Thwarted from visiting public woods for now…

…by a second force this summer, the smoke. For now I just look at backpack contents until it makes sense to pack again. Early in the summer the pandemic had many trailheads closed. The smoke and fire risk now have a lot of federal lands in my area closed. Some state forest is open though, which is closer anyways, although I loved being in wilderness a few weeks ago.

So lots of time at home lately, resorting to exercise on a mat, seeing from the mat my world that is currently inside my house.

And from above the kitchen sink:

Food-related aesthetics in general, I’ve been noticing while spending so much time indoors.

As I was marveling at the fact that frozen burritos microwave in only 1.5 minutes, it occurred to me: if I run out of burritos before ranch, I’ll have to replenish the burrito supply. But what if after replenishing it I run out of ranch before the burrito supply runs out? What then? Can this ever really end without perfect timing?

Samples of what the smoke mixed with fog was like up until today:

In town there is homelessness growing or simply less harassed during the pandemic and allowed to stay

We’ve got an unemployment rate not seen since the 1930s Great Depression, and it grew in record time. And now in my area, towns need rebuilding since the fires, and roads and trails need clearing since the wind storm. In other areas, towns need rebuilding since the tropical storms. The New Deal comes to mind; there’s a lot of work needing done, and a lot of people needing work. In the 30s the Democrat-Republican Investment Tool (our two party donor-investor bribe system) took turns establishing it, snatching it away, and restoring it. It’s time to restore it again or something like it. Many jobs — in service industry, retail, hospitality, travel, airlines, on and on — simply won’t return after this health-economic-political storm. Public lands have been neglected-underfunded over the decades, and that neglect may very well have contributed to the destruction-by-fire of towns and timber. Instead of care, neglect-and-insure has been the mode. The insurers are going to fail everyone: their shareholders, policy holders, municipalities — I don’t know what all the list of the let down will include. The tax payer will be forced to step up, but we have far fewer tax payers than we had before this spring. And for some in high-fire-risk areas insurance policies will be made unavailable or out of reach pricewise, which means home equity lines of credit will be made unavailable too.

I wonder if employers and populations in tropical storm areas will simply be moved inland. Forest management might be able to reduce disasters in high-fire-risk areas, but not in tropical storm areas.

What will be proposed? I think it will be a combination of universal basic income and some form of New Deal.

I’m going to visit state forest today.

A nice overnight backpack…

…for me in national forest. I was near water on some stretches of the trail.

It was nice to sleep in the deep woods again.

I awoke to temperatures in the high 30s F on this August morning at about 4500 ft., then warmed myself with a hot brew.

But the ongoing political unrest. I guess it’s just one part of the perfect storm underscoring the inevitability of universal basic income (UBI). The storm being the lack of jobs increased by the pandemic, swift rise in unemployment, and political unrest in which years of insufficient income and unaffordable housing and health care factor in. Many of the jobs existing pre-pandemic won’t return. Judging from my town, many people have recently joined the ranks of the homeless. Cars are now parked at homeless encampments, and I think some may have been parked in their lots and driveways not long ago. Blocks where there were sporadic tents near businesses now have shuttered storefronts with side walks lined with tents, in some parts of town. It’s not as hidden as it was, either because the pandemic is causing municipalities to stop scattering and pushing around the homeless, or shelters more easily reach capacity due to social distancing requirements. Many homeless are not what I call needy. I can’t call anyone needy who simply has the same needs as I have: access to food, water, shelter and a toilet and shower. To me a needy person is someone who’s after the unnecessary; like a bullying or controlling individual addicted to the control, an addict needing unnecessary chemicals, other excesses, etc.

But back to the political unrest, on the electoral level. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to envision the worst case November scenario. We’ve got a president with a real estate development and entertainment background who wants a show, be it his reelection inauguration or a dramatic rejection of defeat. If he can’t have an inauguration, he’ll have a bigger show. Worst case, I’m imagining. If he holes up in the white house after his defeat, I can see white supremacist and other right wing militia trying to guard the white house. But retired military brass oppose his reelection. Powell has said the president’s “drifted from the constitution” (and Powell said he’s voting for the Democrat instead). Mattis is not voting Republican in November and has said the president is actively dividing the country, which smells slightly of succession. These are politically heavy endorsements of the Democrat. Retired military brass are likely in touch with current military brass. If the defeated president holes up in the white house guarded by right wing militia after the Democratic win, the USA military may very well shew away the militias and evict the squatting president to vacate the building for the president elect.

The president could lose in November. Prominent Republicans including the agriculture-tied Lincoln Project, and the retired military brass, have abandoned him and endorsed the Democrat. Libertarian-Republican Weld is now endorsing the Democrat. Evangelicals haven’t abandoned the president, yet. If the president loses the evangelicals, all he’ll have left is the white supremacists, which are too small a voting block for success. I’m sure I’m leaving out some voters.

The current chaos threatens domestic and world markets. The market will be protected, maintained, propped back up. UBI may play a role in the USA.

I admittedly think about in-town life when I’m in the deep woods.

I’ve been spending time on…

…the floor of my living room for the first time. It’s because since working primarly from home, my stretching and exercises are done at home on my mat instead of on the floor of the gym at work. Being on the floor is giving me a glimpse into my dog’s perspective. Dog rest her beautiful soul.

The quiet of home during work hours has me examining my work. Thinking about whether it’s really even worth doing — aside from the purpose of getting paid. Thinking about whether it really accomplishes much in the scheme of things. Do I really accomplish much more than my dog did? Probably not even as much. She set an example. She was a role model in terms of what quality behavior is. She spent her life just being and experiencing, interacting.

The juxtaposition of backpacking with motorcycling (that’s a moto jacket). On a backpacking trip with my hiking buddy, she said “you don’t exactly seem like a motorcycle guy”. It’s this assumption that we identify with our activities. I don’t think I do identify with what I do. I really enjoy riding and motorcycles. But the activity doesn’t constitute me. I think we’re just experiencers. We’re looking outward. Seeing the road and landscapes pass, while occasionally noticing our hands on the grips. Enjoying the tactile experience of clutching, shifting, being moved through surroundings by a machine that someone and other machines built.

I went to see a friend’s band play, and he introduced me to someone as the drummer of such and such band. My reaction, which I didn’t state, was “wait; no no no…I’m not a drummer. It’s true, I played drums in my friend’s band for a few years. But I’m not a drummer.” Our activities don’t define us, I don’t think. Although I think our attitude and behaviors do. Anyway, I enjoyed the experience of hitting percussion thingies with sticks, the sounds and vibrations interacting with those of bandmates’ instruments, which they were also exerting some kind of finessed and timed force upon to produce some patterned sound. But they too are only people doing that, experiencing that. We just experience daily until we’re unconscious for about eight hours each night. We do this for about 80 or 100 years, and then what? I’ll have to look into that part more.

Hikes and Rides

Being homebound during the week got me out for the weekend. Yesterday was for a big loop ride. Rode all day, and even stopped for a break for a short hike to catch-up with a friend south of home. But just after Redmond, I had to stop for a shot of these senior members of the Cascades SW of the town:

Then today a hike in an area closer to the hometown. For some reason the rivulet patterns in the ditch caught my eye. Mini dams made of pine needle, twig, and silt. Can’t discern them well in the picture, but I consider them the sculptures of winter rain runoff:

Sounds in the woods again captivated me. The wind, creaking, and birdsong:

And this bird beautifully flew over me when I was experimenting with the zoom on my camera. (You really need to select the high definition setting at playback):

Being stuck at home all week is really making me and allowing me to explore on the weekends. It’s mainly solo, but still very nice. Seems to occur at the right pace when solo.

There’s a connection between…

…the woods and urban areas: the homeless are generally not allowed. I’ll expand on this further down.

On an errand in town I wonder if the emptiness of the bus strictly reflects unemployment, or also people switching to safer modes of transport.

I still shoot out to the woods of the coastal range partly because it’s only 40 minutes away. With friends this time, enjoying the presence of eagles (or are they hawks?):

Back in town I see homeless encampments being allowed to stay, finally some rest. I find explanation on neither regular news nor homeless press/news. It results in encampments larger than I’ve seen before, and cookfires, which I’ve not seen before. I’m happy for them not being harassed for simply staying in a small spot on public property — for simply being. And I think I’ll bring them some fuelwood for their cookfires; it also would free me of thicker pieces of yard debris that won’t fit in my shredder.

Anyway, the tolerance by city government must be covid-related. Perhaps based on the thought that the routine of squeezing them into smaller, out of sight areas would result in city government being viewed as a failure at slowing the spread of the virus. Or perhaps it reflects social distancing reducing shelter capacity. Anyway, the homeless are usually not allowed to live somewhere; they’re generally pushed from spot to spot by police, chamber of commerce, and other players who have an audience that can push.

But I think that if homeless people learned how to forage, shelter and otherwise sustain in the woods instead of in the city among guns, nightsticks, and other elements of government and crime, they would not be allowed there either, technically. There are restrictions there just as there are in town. But the experiment may already be underway for all I know. In town, dumpsters, soup kitchens and shelters are more immediate food sources unless one knows how to forage. But of course there are also street entrepreneurs selling addictive chemical highs to addicts who’d find no such businessmen in the woods. And in a sense, most in civilized communities cannot part, and wouldn’t want to part, with luxuries and services we’ve developed dependency on — which also includes addictive highs like from wine, whisky, craft beers, foodie cafe carbs and coffees. Really, where can one draw the line between culture and addictions? Extremes on a spectrum are easy to spot. But distinctions or lines are nebulous, often fictions based on convenience, and have less utility than dysfunction. Wait, maybe Pirsig’s philosophy of quality helps with some of this confusion; I’ll have to relearn what it is.

I wouldn’t want to live in the woods like my ancestors did. Unless I was stuck in homeless, urban street culture that I see from the train. And on the train. If homelessness were my starting point, then which would have more potential: staying in town, or moving to the woods? The next question is Potential for what? For doing what? For experiencing or accomplishing what? I think creative types and cell phone junkies both need culture that the woods couldn’t provide. If you create with an electric guitar, there is tactile and resonant interaction that just isn’t available as a tool — and can’t be experienced — on acoustic instruments.

The woods are still just a place I like to visit. Kind of like some cities.

In the greenery

I did get out recently for time among the trees and critters. This time of resurgence of people heading to the accessible and established trails has me finding little used areas near them. Walking in them offers something peaceful contrasting with goings on in the city. My neighborhood is about the same, but downtown isn’t. I walked into this green area:

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It seems the sounds are more telling than snapshots:

The birds:

And more of their songs:

When leaving the maintained road or trail and going deeper into the woods, I think about how I could be prey to a bear or big cat. And how organisms just eat each other. And how our procurement of meat and poultry differs from their predating. And how our level of consciousness enables us to be above unnecessarily killing and eating compared to other animals’. We don’t even need meat because we’ve developed cultivation. People, including me, are appalled by the current culling occurring due to the meat and poultry industry losing market share and labor force during this pandemic. But they’re not talking about how animals are killed under normal circumstances for our eating. As much as I enjoy meat and poultry, I don’t think I’ll return to buying and eating it. The idea of breeding and “raising” animals to just be killed, sold, and eaten is something I can’t keep hypocritically opposing. I feel bad for the involved labor force too, but they obviously don’t have it as bad as the animals. Of course I’ve no sympathy for the farmers and agribusiness. They’re lamenting their loss of market, labor force, livelihood, and tradition. But their livelihood depends on death. Sympathizing would be absurd. They’re lamenting culling over butchering. It’s hard to believe I’ve supported this. And that I still miss eating these animals. I don’t even physically feel different vegetarian than I do omnivorous. And regarding tradition, as a teacher of mine said, traditions are made to be broken.