Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Walk in the Greenbelt

Leo Strolls Bellevue

Leo the dog in Bellevue's Greenbelt near Larson Lake

 ~ It's awesome having the Bellevue Greenbelt nearby, with trails reaching out into neighborhoods all around. The peripatetic pup and I can log 5 miles walking down to the Robinswood dog park and back. And he adds a few more miles with the pack at the park.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Is it Investing or Speculating?

Don't Ask YourBroker

Speculating on bubbles
 ~ The word "invest" has become debased.

We hear so much about the supposed importance of investor confidence and about the need for low taxes on investors, and all because, the pundits aver, we need investors to invest so that the economy can grow and solve all of our problems.


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Believe It...

Soothing Sights

 ~ These places looks so astonishing it's hard to believe they exist? Guess I'll have to go see for myself. If I ever get done assembling this investor due diligence package.

Tunnel of Love, Ukraine
I want to take this train...

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Tax and Spend

Or is it "Borrow and Spend"?

 ~ Tell me again who's spending is out of control? Recall that in 2000 we were running a budget surplus, with the prospect of those continuing for years...

Friday, April 26, 2013

What Shall We Teach Our Children?

Science? Or Belief?

4th grade 'science' test teaches ignorance
 ~ Hardly a week goes by without someone decrying the atrophy of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) instruction in the US, yet we do nothing about the teaching of ignorance in schools throughout the country. We desperately need to have more scientifically capable graduates for our global competitiveness as a nation, but we condone indoctrination in dogma instead.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Break in the Clouds

Willows Run

 ~ Such a beautiful day, requiring a non-work interlude, so I spoiled a good walk, despite a hole one two.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Where's It Wednesday—CXX

Where in Seattle is this?

Somewhere in Seattle... but where?

Answer next week.

Details on the weekly Where's It Wednesday puzzle here.
Other weeks' puzzles here.
Answer to last week's puzzle, after the jump.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Is Entrepreneurship Cyclic?

Should It Be?

 ~ The number of people starting businesses or styling themselves as entrepreneurs rises in difficult economic times. When the economy improves, as it is perhaps now doing here in the US, such "entrepreneurs" bail out, rejoining the mass of (temporarily) comfortable wage slaves according to the Kauffman Foundation. Some fret that a decline in new entrepreneurial business is worrisome, even though the economy overall is improving, but this misses the more fundamental point; our future economic health is not tied to the growth of entrepreneurial startups, but to the growth of entrepreneurs.

What about the legions of "fairweather" entrepreneurs eager to return to the vanishing and fundamentally ephemeral security of the big company sinecure?
You were part of a trend like jean jackets and spandex, and so long as it was cool you were on board...

Monday, April 22, 2013

Startup Thrift

Just Like Old Times

Hammock on stand at Phytelligence
 ~ Back in my Microsoft days (1982-1993) I would sometimes sleep under my desk. With intense deadline pressures, it just took too long to go home and come back,so many of us just crashed at the office. We did it to save time.

Now I do it to save money. At Phytelligence, my current startup, I've stopped springing for a hotel room every time I drive out from Bellevue to Pullman. The Pullman Aquatic Center provides a workout room and hot showers for $5 a day—deal!

However, age has imparted a few grains of wisdom, and, as you can see in the picture, I have improved the level of comfort over the carpeted floor.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Long-Term Leak Effects

A Continuing Calamity

Cartoon of car that runs on water--from the Gulf of Mexico
 ~ Still thinking about water leaks today, which got me to thinking about oil leaks, especially since yesterday was the 3rd anniversary of the start of the BP Deepwater Horizon well fiasco in the Gulf of Mexico.

It started with the death of 11 people, and continued on with the gushing of nearly 5 millions barrels of oil over the next 3 months. 2 million gallons of Corexit, a toxic "dispersant", was dumped into the Gulf as well, with the misleading narrative that it was part of the "clean up" effort. The idea that one can fix a toxic mess by dumping more toxins on it is ridiculous on its face, but that's what happened, and it remains part of the standard procedure that Big Oil uses and intends to use in future. Worse, the practice is cited as a justification for how they should be allowed to continue the environmentally dangerous (and eventually disastrous) practice of drilling in ecologically sensitive areas like the ocean.

Dumping Corexit in the oil-besotted Gulf simply moved the oil from the surface down the water column to the ocean floor, where it remains today, poisoning the surroundings and entering the food chain. It is to Gulf cleaning as sweeping dirt under a rug is to house cleaning. Corexit hasn't cleaned up the Gulf nearly as much as it has BP's PR problem. We don't see images of writhing oil-soaked wildlife so much any more, but the deadly health impacts aren't gone. Corexit inhibits the natural (albeit slow) breaking down of oil by microbes, even as it makes the toxins more absorbent to people and animals. Corexit made the problem much worse.

The recovery in the Gulf has never been what we have been told it was, and policy-makers, abetted by public amnesia, continue to make poor choices on energy priorities. The industry and its political shills continue to insist that we should trust them when they swear (no, really!) that such a horror won't occur again, and, without irony, that if it does, they'll be ready. It's the same old promise, and is as hollow now as it was then. The real lessons and solutions are altogether different.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Urban Farming

Industrial Rooftop Greenhouses

 ~ Whole Foods Markets has announced plans to erect a commercial greenhouse atop its Brooklyn store:
Artist's conception of Brooklyn Whole Foods rooftop greenhouse
Today Whole Foods Market has announced Gotham Greens as its operating partner of the nation’s first commercial scale greenhouse farm integrated within a retail grocery space. The 20,000-square-foot greenhouse, currently being constructed on the roof of the forthcoming Whole Foods Market store in Gowanus, Brooklyn, is scheduled to open later this fall. Gotham Greens will grow premium quality, pesticide-free produce year round in the greenhouse for Whole Foods Market Gowanus, as well as other Whole Foods Market locations throughout New York City.
Apart from all the benefits of having a green roof, the initiative will also grow produce that requires fewer water, energy and other inputs. Transportation costs and environmental impacts will also be minimized.

It will be interesting to see how well a retailer can vertically integrate their operations in this way. Locally, a couple of startups,including Suncrest Farms and Urban Harvest, are working on similar concepts.

If this is the start of a trend, and it sure looks like one, where are all the plants going to come from? Especially for hydroponics, tissue culture provides the best answer.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Overview Effect

"An Incredible Aesthetic Impact"

 ~ Reflections of astronauts on how space travel changed their perspective:

Why do we explore? Push boundaries? Innovate?

To learn about ourselves.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Growing Success

From Idea to Revenue

Looking out the window at Phytelligence
 ~ We're making steady (and growing!) progress at Phytelligence, the WSU spin-out providing better fruit, trees, and services to commercial growers and nurseries. We closed our initial funding round with more than 70% of the funding coming from our customers and partners. We've added a top industry leader to our Board of Directors. And this week we received our first revenue.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Where's It Wednesday—CXIX

Where in Seattle is this?

Somewhere in Seattle... but where?

Answer next week.

Details on the weekly Where's It Wednesday puzzle here.
Other weeks' puzzles here.
Answer to last week's puzzle, after the jump.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I'm Back

More Surprises

Year of the Snake
 ~ That was a long hiatus.

Since I last posted we've entered the Year of the Snake. Some years are named after animals whose qualities are easier to admire, like the Dog, the Dragon, the Horse, and so on. It's more of a challenge for others, like the Rat and the Snake. I suppose I should give the Snake his due, but it's harder when his year starts with the most disreputable and snaky behavior on the part of our landlady. (The term landlady is far too respectable, so hereafter I will use a more suitable term.)

Here's the whole story: