Christmas Greetings 2014

From Dave Bezaire & Susi Havens-Bezaire

Banner by Susi Havens-Bezaire, wool on felt, 7' x 4'Although the daily news all too frequently reports rather depressing events, we look forward to the new year with abundant hope because everywhere we go we meet wonderful, concerned citizens giving their time and talent to make our world better—people like you!

“Reaching out” continued to be a fitting phrase for us in 2014 as we volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and American Red Cross and rolled out a Matching Gift program to promote charitable donations, and Susi shared her artistic talent at North Church. Read on



Zoom in for pop

Dave with cameraA friend asked me about using a zoom lens, so I collected a few shots that demonstrate effects I sometimes seek. Other than the obvious—increasing size when I can’t get closer—there are a number of things a long lens does that can actually make it worth walking farther away from the subject. Read on



A secure feeling

About a year ago I upgraded to a “smart” phone; last month I crunched it in a bicycle crash; and all throughout I have become increasingly concerned about how easily it could be lost or stolen. This vulnerability, amplified by the recent Target credit card snafu, drove me to tighten up security for my online identity. I’m feeling more relaxed as a result, and I encourage you to read on and learn how you can do the same.

As explained in this Zonealarm article, access to your email—a likely by-product of cell phone loss—could enable a thief to use the “Forgot password” procedures to gain access to many important websites. So, Read on



No dummies

A friend recently passed along an informative video that taught me a lot about the third amendment to the US Constitution, which, I admit, I’ve not thought about in a very long time. Unfortunately, it did little to address other more important questions. The main premise is that we citizens need to be ready and able to defend ourselves from harm that our government might potentially inflict upon us. I would suggest, however, that most people feel far more threat from other directions. Read on



Competing globally

I’m thankful to my brother-in-law Tom for passing along an interesting article about stagnant income growth titled Wage Woes. It took me a while to work through it all, and I’m glad I did. I too have been worried about the growing income and wealth gap, and it’s good to see some solid analysis. I generally agree with the thrust of this article, and I learned plenty from it as well. I especially agree with the idea that longer-term structural issues are what really matter versus business cycle variation.

As an aside, it is, always good to see someone else rail about the negative effect of the uncertainty caused by our Congress of the past few years, and to even put some data around that!

The one thing in the paper that I question is the correlation between income growth and transfer payments. The next few paragraphs outline my response. Read on



Grounded again

Plan B after the weather killed our trip from Homer to Katmai (see Susi’s posts Gone… and Grounded…) was a drive north to Talkeetna where we could fly toward Denali and land on Ruth Glacier. Who was to know there are clouds in this part of Alaska too?

After Wednesday morning’s flights were cancelled, Susi and Ben drove 60 miles to see if they might get a glimpse of Mt. McKinley only to be met by even less visibility and a bit of rain. We spent the afternoon doing computer work until the sun popped out and I enjoyed a lovely bike ride along the railroad tracks. Ben and I tried to drown our sorrows at the Denali Brewing Company, but even that didn’t work as neither of us really felt like drinking more than the samples of their beers—many of which were excellent!

Déjà vu Thursday morning, with lots of waiting around and admiring flowers until the flight service could determine whether they were flying or not. Everything was a bit more complicated and slower because a citywide power outage knocked out the computers.

We finally got word about 9:30 that Denali was socked-in once again, our third miss in as many swings. Though we seemed to be striking out at flying on this trip, one option still remained, and even gave Ben the chance to be pilot!



Sitka delight

Lox at LarkspurThis year’s Sitka Summer Music Festival is just getting underway, and although the first concert will be after our departure Saturday, we were treated to a wonderful preview tonight at the Larkspur Caffe. Having heard of this opportunity from some locals, we arrived early to be sure of a seat, and were pleasantly surprised by the wide variety of luscious treats on the menu. Fondue and lox appetizers, chowder, panini, and local Baranof Island Brewing Company Spruce Tips IPA and Dark Lagers were all excellent as we enjoyed conversation with other folks at our large table.

The real excitement began, however, Read on



Thank you Ketchikan

Between our RVsThink Ketchikan, and your mind should overflow with images of eagles, mink, bears, humpback whales, fishing, and eating seafood, all set amongst glorious mountain and ocean vistas. (See the Clover Pass album for a small sampling.) To that, I’ve now added a note of awe for the cheerful, generous, helpful nature of Ketchikanites (Ketchikaners? Ketchikanians? Others wonder too.) in response to these three incidents.

The gum where my tooth was extracted in March was feeling a bit tender. Read on



I digress…

Walking in TofinoI’m rambling philosophically today, having read a Q&A from Bishop John Spong that seems to succinctly capture much of what I’ve come to think about God. Bishop Spong’s mantra is “to live fully, love wastefully, and be all that one can be” as a response to his experience of God as “the Source of life”, “the Source of love”, and “the Ground of all Being”. Around this core, I wrap my sense of God as that within which we exist each minute—the people and earth and universe around us. I hope you find his conclusions as interesting as I do. Read on



Hot time in Victoria

We enjoyed a gloriously warm, sunny Sunday in Victoria, where the wharf was jammed with locals and tourists on this first warm weekend of spring. Sidewalk vendors offered the usual array of trinkets and caricatures, and street performers grabbed our attention with sleight of hand, juggling and comedy. The surprising finale had Dave riding a trike while wearing a flaming helmet! Check out Terry’s photos and see Dave defy danger by riding between the juggler’s legs. What fun!

As Susi notes in her blog post, Scenic envy, the views around Victoria were stupendous. Butchart Gardens were in glorious bloom with tulips, and Parry Bay made a fantastic frame for the Olympia mountains to the south. Check out the 05-05 Victoria album to get a taste of the beauty.

Speaking of south, Seattle was also fun, and you can see a few pictures from there in the 04-28 Seattle album.



Speed bumps?

Speed bumps?Unruly speedersSpeed bumps? On a walking path? Really?

Well, maybe not. But that sure is what they look like!

These shots were taken on the Larch Mountain Trail at Multnomah Falls Recreation Area along the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington. Of course, the yellow lines really mark spots in the trail that have been uplifted by tree roots. But a cynic like me can’t help but see those unruly little feet and immediately comment on our government’s tendency to be way to helpful at times!

I haven’t posted in a while, so I’ll point out a number of recent photo albums:

04-12 Monterey

04-13
Asilomar

04-14
Ocean Cove

04-18 Redwoods

04-19 Redwoods

04-22 Tillamook

04-24 Multnomah

04-25 Portland



Joshua blooms and blooming painters

Joshua Tree bloomPlein air painterI guess we hit Joshua Tree National Park at a pretty special moment, as the trees are at a blooming peak. NPR station KPPC in Los Angeles used five of my photos to illustrate their story Joshua trees in the Southern California desert are in ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ bloom. You can see the rest of my shots from that day in the 04-06 Joshua Tree album.

This climate also seems to nurture plein air painters, as we found out when Susi and I visited Point Lobos State Reserve just south of Monterey. With the 2nd annual Plein Air Convention opening tomorrow, the park was crawling with them. You can see some, along with a few pretty ocean vistas and huge cypress trees in my 04-09 Point Lobos album.



The tinkling sound of glass

When your house bounces along the road day after day, eventually things break loose. And break. This can give rise to many elementary science lessons.

Broken sink

The toilet paper stored below is NOT supposed to be visible through the sink!

For instance, if an object falls four feet while the RV is rounding a curve and lands 18 inches offline from straight down, what speed is the RV moving? Although the physics to answer this might be daunting, empirical evidence is easy. We always drive 55 mph.

This leads to an advanced materials question. When a glass light-fixture globe strikes a vitreous china lavatory sink, which of them breaks? Where a scientist might need to calculate tensile strength, modulus of elasticity, chemical formula and crystalline structure, RVers already know the answer: both!

Faulty fixture

Fixture less it’s glass globe.

When investigation all of the other light fixtures in the RV revealed one more hanging by a thread, today’s biology question arose. What kind of nut would be most likely to travel across the USA in the spring before falling free to root in eastern California? While the evidence seems to indicate that this happens with 1/8″ brushed-nickel capnuts, I think the real nut is the driver who never checked them before departure!

Intact fixture

Fixture with newly tightened retaining nuts.

Fortunately, replacing a sink and a fixture globe are not terribly difficult tasks, so wish me luck finding parts that will fit.



Wealth Inequality in America

Please take a look at the short video Wealth Inequality in America that politizane posted on YouTube. It illustrates the disparity I wrote about last fall in a post titled Income, wealth, and hope. Although I have not verified the actual numbers represented in this video myself, all of them seem to be consistent with what I found in my research.

The video superbly portrays the magnitude of wealth concentration in our country today. In my opinion it could have been even stronger by highlighting the fact that this is more skewed in the United States of America than anyplace else in the world. I would also like to see an even more dramatic treatment of the trends in income and wealth concentration over the past half century.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if journalists like Stephen Ohlemacher of the Associated Press brought this type of balancing view into articles such as Tax bills for rich families close to 30-year high that we saw in several newspapers yesterday?



To cold to exercise?

Frosty roadrunner Morning exercise The 11° temperature one recent morning in Deming New Mexico tested everyone’s fortitude as the southwest experienced their toughest cold snap in years. Looking to capture a few shots of hoarfrost on the foliage at sunrise, I was treated to this roadrunner sunning behind our RV, and to a woman walking her dog in a golf cart. Seems the cold was keeping both of them from moving very fast!

It has felt good to exercise my camera again after the four month break due to thumb surgery. Check out the Frosty departure album to see a few pictures of the chilly winter we left behind, and the Cactus & cranes album for some from our visit to Wings over Willcox and the wintering spot for 20,000 sandhill cranes.