Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Helping the Victims

The winds and rain have stopped, but the waters in New Orleans are still rising (as of 7:56am EST 8/31/05). Some folks in Mississippi and Alabama are starting to dig out and gather belongs, but some in the bowl of the Crescent City have no idea when the waters will recede to even return to their neighborhoods. It's a horrible situation.

I don't know how much this will help, but there have been widespread reports of fuel shortages for emergency vehicles, rescue crews, hospital electrical generators, and other vital services. Much of the oil and gas infrastructure was hit hard by Katrina, and may not be online for a few days. As such, something minor every American can do to help is to drive less, thus cutting the demand and ensuring the necessary supplies are used in the South where it's needed most. I hope Bush makes this a priority in an upcoming speech on the situation. It'd relieve the sour taste from his post-9/11 call to keep shopping, as to "not let the terrorists win."

And don't forget, the Red Cross needs money/volunteers/supplies. It's easy to donate online, or call your local office. Help how you can, instead of just sighing the that's-so-bads.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Gas is CRAZY/ It's our own Fault *gasp*

Nobody likes to take the rap for a crime. In this case, it's necessary. The simple fact that gasoline prices have spiked (and to a lesser extent heating oil, natural gas,and even coal) is...Americans use too much of it. We never like to admit that. It's our God-given right. We're good Christian fighters for freedom. It matters not that we consume (never to recover) more than 25% of the world's petroleum production, yet comprise only 5% of the population. "So what?" you say?" It's precisely that arrogance that got us here in the first place.

The August 24 Washington Post has a piece proclaiming "Obesity Rates up in Most States." We like to eat, and that's okay, 'cause food is good. But we eat too much, and most of it's crap. Too much low-quality food that doesn't really taste just like to tell yourself it does. Not to mention, most of our food is actually petroleum. "HA!" You say. "More liberal treehugger poppycock." Not really. I won't bore you with check out this humorous article in Harper's-"The Oil We Eat"

All of this to say...all of you complaining about high gasoline prices, high heating oil prices, high electricity costs due to rising natural gas prices...get over it. It's your fault and mine. As long as we go on like this, don't expect any relief to your bank account. I got so fed up I sold my Land Cruiser 2 months ago. Now, I can't take leisurely top-down Sunday drivse down the George Washington Parkway, nor leave late for work. I do miss this. All of my poor, poor freedoms are gone! Death to OPEC! Luckily, I have this Smartrip pass and a metro timetable, as well as nice friends who allow me to carpool when I chip in for gas. Do ALL of us really need cars?

As much as I live/breathe/dream about automobiles, sitting in the mall parking lot the other day I found myself overheating with anger; there were too many CARS. They were everywhere. In the recent flick "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," our buddy Mos Def is almost run over by a car as he stands in the middle of a busy roadway. He has a bouquet of flowers in his hand. The reason? He was an alien, and thought that the earth was inhabited by cars.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Great New Stuff

To take a pause from serious topics like impending energy/water/social security/real estate/trade deficit crises, I want to talk about clothes, women, gadgets, and music. Actually, I'm just going to throw up some links, get real materialistic for a little while, then we'll resume adult talk at a later date.... That WAS Shakara Ledard in the picture, case you didn't know. I like her lots. But they took it down, and I didn't upload to my computer.

What's the point of this post? I guess it's to realize that we all make thousands of choices on a daily basis. In making these choices there is responsibility. As consumers, we spend money on some pretty stupid things, and some that aren't so stupid. The key is to balance out the necessities from the excesses, and make sure other people don't suffer from our own habits. I guess. I'm still learning. And no, you didn't learn anything new from what I just wrote. Maybe I'm writing this to myself, so I don't forget.

Some of my favorite cult of consumerism blogs are Cool Hunting, MocoLoco, Green Car Congress, and Design Sponge, to name a few. There's also Gizmodo and BoingBoing, oh and can't forget English Cut. From any of these sites, there are countless others showcasing what's new in the world of...stuff.

They're great because they show me just what I can't afford. There's things on here that nobody in the world needs, but some creative design geek decided to create it for public consumption. Though "things" are the root of all the planet's ills, I love things. Cars, bicycles, buildings, neckties, women, containers, plant boxes, A/C units, watches, DVDs, books, socks, the list is endless. And when you have to spend your hard-earned cash on these items (no, not the women-they're not items, but they are expensive), why not know what's out there, what to compare the crappy version you have, and what you aspire to own. After all, it's about quality and durability as well as the look and feel. Not that owning stuff is the goal of's more so that the things you must own serve their function very well, and add to the life experience.

What might add to my life right now (pending removal of lesser items from the rapidly overcrowding attic and garage) are a Klein leather toolbag, white ikea 365 bowls, and a bespoke wool suit from Saville Row. Oh yeah, and a Mercedes 190D Ponton (1957-1960) with an airstream trailer and 17' Mahogany sheathed kayak from Chesapeake Light Craft....

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


As coffee spills from a distressed disposable cup, the newspaper sections under your arm crackle and fall to the floor behind you ("She'll get it"). In the hurried pace assumed as you dash toward the garage, your Nextel deebeedeeps to life. "What do they want NOW???" The car alarm chirps, locks clunk. Access. The aluminum door shudders open, too slow it seems. Regardless, the tv commercials had it just right as you welcome daylight to lay its golden rays upon your glorious land jet. Hopping in, ignition braddadumm, brumba-brumba-brumba. Hands grip tightly the bespoke leather wheel. An aging back is comforted early A.M. by the gentle heat and barely audible buzz of hidden away magical fingers.A frantic corporate ladder-climber, you rapidly accelerate, in reverse, past the resting bicycles and soccer balls that litter the front lawn. The All-American, beef-infused raw power of your V8 rumbles on command. You FEEL it, then and there. YES! "But I'm late. Won't this phone SHUT UP? No honey, I CANNOT make it to your play tomorrow. I'm sorry. Your mother will be there. I have a meeting. Ask your brother. Isn't Auntie close by? Love you!" Click.

The scene is typical of modern American suburbia, and now even cities whose newish architecture is sometimes comprised of rowhouses with a first floor converted to parking for the "family car." It's that other member of the family, and deserves its own room as much as the humans.

You catch a glimpse of endearing suavete as your reflection beams off polished mahogany inlays. This is the look of success. "Traffic! What the...? When will they fix these roads!?!"

Now before you accuse me of being some automobile sabotaging greenie, wishing every highway was paved over to make way for wildlife paths and bicycle lanes, I must admit I love cars. The look, the sound, the mobility, the purported...freedom. But this comes at a cost. Being fully aware of that cost, now that's something else. In addition to these almost visceral attributes, there's insurance, parking, maintenance, traffic, and yes, fuel costs. Much of my early driving career was spent filling up with .89, .99 cent gasoline. Times were great. It was the mid-90s, we drove as we pleased. Traffic jams were something for "cityfolk," in Washington or New York or Los Angeles. Petersburg? Not a chance, except for the odd moment when a family of geese tried to cross the road from Wilcox Lake. Where they were headed, who's to know. All that mattered was that it stopped traffic, and I was going to be late.

Fast forward to August 16, 2005...a newspaper headline here in the nation's capital proclaimed "Gas Reaches $3.00 a Gallon" And Hell's Gates creaked from the pressure....

>To Be Continued....