A few peaceful days with Grandpa Brian and Grandma Cindy

An important part of this journey by van is visiting my scattered network of friends and loved ones along the trail. I had the pleasure of visiting my Grandpa Brian and Grandma Cindy at their recently constructed home in Chico, California. It was a great visit and a pleasant retreat after my many exhausting adventures in the backcountry.

Our activities featured a tour of Sierra Nevada brewery, a hike in the upper Bidwell Park in Chico, and a longer hike to Feather Falls. I’ve included a short video of the Feather Falls hike at the bottom of this post. In general, our days were very relaxing. We spent lots of time talking about family, politics, and watching home videos from years past.

The brewery tour of Sierra Nevada was particularly impressive. I was amazed to learn what a great company they are, and I really can’t say enough positive things about what they do – in addition to providing great beer :). Sierra Nevada produces about 80% of the electricity they consume on site. About half is accomplished through solar panels and the other half fuel cells. Sadly, the fuel cells run on natural gas, so they are not renewable energy sources, but they are a better alternative than electricity from the grid. On the upside, they capture waste heat from the fuel cells and use it in their brewing process. They were also an early adopter of fuel cells, helping to promote the new technology by installing their system eight years ago. In addition, they treat all their waste water on site in a very impressive sounding process that includes a biogas digester from which they capture waste methane and, once again, re-use it in their brewing process. Since they produce their own electricity and treat their own water, they have gone to great lengths to conserve both water and energy throughout their entire operation. They have been chosen as the US EPA green business of the year 2 years in a row. They also treat their employees extremely well. Employee benefits include on-site day care, company medical office, company masseuse, land provided for employee gardens, pet insurance, and a case of beer with every pay check. As a person who likes to vote with my dollar, I’m planning to buy much more Sierra Nevada after learning of these commendable values. Surprisingly, this free tour included samples of 9 beers, including 2 quads, a barleywine, and an imperial stout. Clearly they enjoy experimenting with new recipes, and they produce limited releases regularly that won’t ever be seen again. They had a new quad made with prunes, and another that was aged in brandy barrels. They also had a beer made with shiitake mushrooms and a hint of rice. So rad!!!

My Grandpa Brian is a really interesting character, and I would like to say a few words about him. Although he’s turning 75 this year, he’s in better health than most Americans. Both GB and GC have gone to great lengths to live healthy lives, and he said he doesn’t feel any different mentally or physically than he did in his 30s. He’s very interested in politics, and we spent hours debating and discussing global issues. His wise conservative perspective often clashes with my educated liberal view, but as open individuals we were able to dive into a broad range of issues and see eye to eye. It was enlightening discussion, leaving us both with food for thought.

Grandma Cindy made wonderful meals, both healthy and delicious. We enjoyed talking about food and exchanging recipes. I also got to make them a meal one night, Thai coconut curry. Their new house is very comfortable, and I felt right at home. They have a nice plot of land with vibrant landscaping and a surprising amount of wildlife. I was delighted one morning to see my first bobcat in the wild – the wild being their back patio, lol. It strutted across like it owned the place. In additions they commonly spot coyotes, rattlesnakes, a variety of birds, and even mountain lions in their yard. How cool is that?

Sean’s Algorithm

A friend has asked me to publish his algorithm in hopes to secure it for public use. He recommends this algorithm can be used as a new approach to creating 2 dimensional, rectilinear grids which can be extended into 3d. These grids can be calculated using a simple interpolation method. Computation physics problems that can be ran in parallel allow vectors to be computed on a GPU for massive speed gains. This algorithm has applications in finite difference analysis (FD) and computational physics, potentially simplifying the solvers and reducing required computing power without sacrificing accuracy.

Sean would like to offer his work for public availability and use, securing it from those who may desire to keep it private for profit or other motives. Please find this useful.

Sean_algorithm_2013-02-28

Bham! (aka Bellingham, WA)

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For those not in “the know”, Bellingham is the northernmost coastal city in Washington. It is the portal to Mt. Baker ski area in the northern Cascades, my favorite of all ski areas, and just a few miles from the Canadian border. It is home to Western Washington University, and as a result draws a young, fun, cool crowd. The average local is into some kind of outdoor sport, whether its skiing, mountain biking, kayaking, sailing, mountaineering, triathalons or whatever, Bellingham has it. It’s also a bit of a hippie scene, and for those who still think I’m a hippie you really have no idea… There are parties constantly, and the night life is raging.

Best of all, in my opinion, is the music scene. It always surprises me that such a seemingly small city, about 80,000 people, could have such great music all the time. But I’m never disappointed by this place. In fact I seek out the live music whenever I’m here. It’s one of those places where you can see a live show any night of the week with musicians you’ve never heard of and have an absolute blast. People dance here. People sing, and make up lyrics if they don’t know real ones. This city is full of life.

I first started coming to Bellingham when I worked as a ski instructor at Mt Baker. Since Baker is located in national forest land, there’s no town, and the road is a complete dead end. There are a few towns between Bham and Baker, but most people end up driving from Bellingham for day trips and returning here after skiing. That’s the habit I fell into most of the time as well.

I came here primarily to ski and spend time with my buddy Nick. Originally from North Dakota, Nick fell in love with this place and became a new local. He’s now co-founding a music school where he teaches guitar and bass lessons along with his buddy Ryan, a drummer. Not surprisingly, they are both incredible musicians and play local shows several nights a week. Here’s Nick in his room with all his recording and editing equipment. Nick records and edits music, photos, and video in addition to teaching.

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Naturally, we saw a LOT of shows. The music is all original, with styles ranging from jazz to reggae to rock to bluegrass to hip hop. Most music is somewhat of a blend between genres, with guest musicians frequently stepping up from the crowd to join the band. We danced without holding back. Nick is getting into break dancing, so he was all about teaching me some moves. Pretty much everyone dances at the shows here, a big part of why I like the scene so much. There’s nothing held back.

My favorite dancer was this girl who we saw at nearly every show. She arrives early, wearing her dancing tights, and grabs the spot right in front of the stage. She wears earmuffs to protect her hearing so she can dance every night in front of the speakers in her own world of free expression. Here’s a picture. It’s tough to make out he striped tights and earmuffs, but rest assured they’re there 🙂

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The best show was definitely Nick’s band Snug Harbor. I saw them play two nights, a big jazz ensemble crammed with talent. Nick plays bass, but they also have drums, guitar, trombone, trumpet, and sax. They’re a really cool crowd too. Some of the band members can never get enough jamming in, so the night usually ends with them playing each others instruments for a late night improv session. Here’s the sax player, Frank, on the drums, lol 🙂

2013-Winter-19

My recent stay in Bham had many highlights and GREAT times with old friends as well as new ones, but I’ve got to mention specifically my friend Megeara. She and I met on Lopez Island where we built staw bale houses for the community land trust. We always had a special connection, but Megeara isn’t really a technology person so we only keep in touch in person. But every time I find myself in Bellingham I seem to run into her. That happened one night on the way to a free hip hop show at the Glow. We hung out and danced and talked, but it was late and we decided to get together the following day to really hang out and catch up.

Megeara always lives someplace interesting. I visited her years ago at a very hippie communal type place that included an alternative library, vegan cuisine, gigantic kombucha carboys, optional shoes and clothing, and many many loving people. Her current household is much smaller, only 6 roommates, but still has lots of character and loving people. The picture at the top of this blog is a mural painted on the wall of their living room. Here is a closeup of another:

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We had a great chat about all things in life over the past 4 years. Megeara enlightened me in many ways. She is a healer and mild clairvoyant. She tells me I’m a “world-bridger” capable of going between starkly contrasting worlds and bringing traits of one to the other. I see this in my life, like the contrasting worlds of Lopez and Chicago, or Seven Springs and Conneaut Lake, engineers and hippies, outdoorsmen and citydwellers. We discussed the world and the evolution that’s happening, as well as our roles in it. Megeara wants to start a midwifery collective on San Juan island to welcome the new souls entering this world. Megeara guided me through a great meditation session, and we went to her friends studio for a yoga session. After all the skiing I’ve been doing, this was exactly what my body needed.

We decided to have a potluck that night, a gathering of friends, to enjoy a meal together and make some music. I invited Nick, and we made a delicious Thai curry in Washington style, with yams, apples, and fennel. Delicious. It turns out that Megeara’s roommates are great musicians (surprise, surprise) and one of them used to play guitar for Nicks current band Snug Harbor. We had an epic jam session with acoustic guitars, banjo, cajon (wooden box shaped drum), vocals and whistling. Great times in Bham for all.

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Facebook discussion on winter solstice 2012

I recently made a post on Facebook that gathered a few interesting responses. I’ve decided to share it here since I feel it touches some auspicious topics and has valuable content worth sharing. Below is the copy/paste version as best I could capture it from Facebook. Also, click here for the news article that inspired the post regarding the statements from Evo Morales.
Chaz Ott wrote:
12/22/2012
Welcome to the new age, the age of Pacha. This is a time we must change our ways collectively to prevent our own suffering and extinction. In the words of Bolivia’s president Evo Morales:

“And I would like to say that according to the Mayan calendar the 21 of December is the end of the non-time and the beginning of time. It is the end of the Macha and the beginning of the Pacha, the end of selfishness and the beginning of brotherhood, it is the end of individualism and the beginning of collectivism – 21 of December this year. The scientists know very well that this marks the end of an anthropocentric life and the beginning of a bio-centric life. It is the end of hatred and the beginning of love, the end of lies and beginning of truth. It is the end of sadness and the beginning of happiness, it is the end of division and the beginning of unity, and this is a theme to be developed. That is why we invite all of you, those of you who bet on mankind, we invite those who want to share their experiences for the benefit of mankind.”

Andy LitakLogan ScholfieldBrian Benoy and 4 others like this. 2 shares.

Eddie Schoen yep yep yep!

Tambra Garlick Driscoll I laughed so hard when I read this. Chaz, I thought the only high in your life was the mountains, but it looks likes you have been smoking something. LOL

Tambra Garlick Driscoll Of course I would not expect a young product of the benefits of a capitalistic society to see the humor, but it made me laugh. Merry Christmas kid.

Logan Scholfield as he should be, Tambra. The earth is holy. Utilize it.

Tambra Garlick Driscoll As he should be what Logan….smoking something? The earth is holy…utilize it. In what way…clean coal production? Timbering? Growing hay for housing? As a playground? Okay, I am down with it, lets use it. You know in my part of the world we have been using it for quite sometime. We utilized it so well, we built the Carnegie, the Frick, and half of America with the end result…steel. LOL Logan, before you jump into some utopian rant, you should know that I am teasing Chaz…as he will know. He will also tell you to save the rant, I am a barbarbian…a republican.hell I even read Ayn Rand for fun..so spare yourself the effort.

Chaz Ott Lemme jump in here. Tamie, you raise a great point that I’m a privileged person, a product of a society that was built from the wealth of planetary resources at our disposal. That was the industrial age. I don’t condemn it or deny it. We have worked so hard to build this society, and I have been the recipient of a prosperous life because of it. We have tapped the abundance of the planet and built great things. But we have reached a point where the continuation of such practices will challenge our very survival on this planet. It’s not nature I’m worried about here. No, nature will live on, always, with or without us. It’s us that needs to worry. Because our current way of life cannot be sustained and we now have the tools to see it and the knowledge to know it. So this is our turning point. We can either keep on trying to defeat nature and kill ourselves in the process (add “Collapse” by Jared Diamond to your reading list if you doubt this), or we can change our ways to live peacefully as a part of nature just like every other species on Earth. Logan believes that the Earth is holy because he has connected to it. This is the age in which we must all connect to it. For a long time we have seen ourselves as separate from the environment, as though it is a thing for us to conquer. That view will no longer suffice, because it will lead to our destruction and suffering. We will continue to build great things and live prosperously, but we must do so in a way that is harmonious with our living planet, our home. We must become responsible stewards of the Earth that we borrow from our children – maintaining a healthy world, watching over the delicate balance of life, increasing fertility and resource yield through technology, etc. We must leave behind the mental health disease that is greed and the pursuit of personal wealth beyond our needs, and move into a world that meets the basic needs of all people collectively. It is the way forward. Alright I’m gonna go smoke another one because I’m in Washington state and it’s LEGAL wooohooo!!! LOL 🙂

Tambra Garlick Driscoll You lucky boy…I enjoyed what you wrote…very well done. I have read the book you suggested, you see I have many friends the espouse the same ideas as yours, and of course they gift me books. All that smokin ya know…it will bring the oddest sorts to your door. I am not against changing the way we view our world and our place in the cycle, nor am I against your friends assertion that the world is holy. Such philosophies are not new to man you know? As a well read person, I have explored many, and will continue to do so. Rather, my comment was more in the spirit of gentle teasing because not only your philosophy, but your journey of discovery, are no different than those experienced by other children of capitalism, including myself. Not rock climbing for me…western skies…5 years traveling the country and out of it, would not change those memories for anything. I, too, had my nights under the stars in the Rockies, burning and talking, talking, talking, about how much better the world could be. I hope you manage to hold on to your passion Chaz.

Tambra Garlick Driscoll And the rock…for your dear mother’s sake…hold on to the f***ing rock!