Blogs

  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/includes/file.inc on line 647.
  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/includes/file.inc on line 647.
  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/includes/file.inc on line 647.
  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/includes/file.inc on line 647.
  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/includes/file.inc on line 647.
  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/includes/file.inc on line 647.
  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/includes/file.inc on line 647.
  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/includes/file.inc on line 647.
  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/includes/file.inc on line 647.
  • : Function ereg() is deprecated in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/includes/file.inc on line 647.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/thewils/electricrider.net/drupal/modules/bbcode/bbcode-filter.inc on line 164.
davew's picture

Global Warming

WASHINGTON (AP)

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is holding an all-day "climate summit" on Monday. Bush is attending only Ban's dinner on Monday night, and has organized a separate climate change meeting at the end of the week in Washington for a select group of 17 industrial and developing nations.

Card: What're we here to talk about today?

Chenney: Warming. Hmmmm.

Condi: Everyone got enough to drink?

everyone: Hmmmmm.

W: Splash some more water on those rocks, Condie.

Condie: Just a sec. Ooooh.

Chenney: Suana good. Rrrrrrm.

Card: How are your globals, George?

W: Ahhhhh.... warm.

davew's picture

Lent

This comment is made me think a long time before I could formulate a good reply.

While I applaud the notion, and would no doubt benefit from giving up my handful of drinks a week, it just seems counter intuitive. A little champagne, a nice India Pale Ale or sturdy Stout, why that’s the staff of life stuff there man! How on earth could I justify depriving myself of consuming these life sustaining beverages?!?

davew's picture

The Guy at the Post Office

I was at the post office yesterday and I noticed this guy. First I noticed him because he was parking his bike next to mine and then because he was schlepping this big package under one arm. That's not easy. I tried it myself last week with a bulky, heavy box that was too big for my panniers, and I was too lazy to hook up the cargo trailer. My arm got tired pretty quickly. Even if the box wasn't heavy it was big enough to be awkward. And it was heavy. Pedaling was cumbersome because my leg tended to collide with the package on each revolution. (And yes, I still mean the box.) I tried a few things to make it more comfortable. Eventually I had a brainstorm, switched the box to my left hand, stopped pedaling, and used the throttle. Yes, the throttle. I rarely use it so I almost forget it's there, but the Bionx system has a manual override. I could even get up to 20 mph, although my brain told me that this was unlikely to be a wise course of action. After that, and once I figured out that low-speed maneuvering with that much weight is best avoided, things went rather swimmingly. I even collected a very odd look from another biker that I passed. Collecting odd looks is one of my life passions.

Anyway the guy at the post office. He was riding an unpowered bike. Truly studly. I was about to congratulate him on his manliness when I noticed the walking cast on his left leg. Way more studly than I had previously imagined. I struck up a conversation.

Me: "Big box, small bike, broken leg. You are definitely the man."

Dude: "Yeah, thanks. My girlfriend says I always try to do more than I can handle though."

Me: "Such as."

Dude: "You noticed the cast, right? Well a couple of weeks back I was carrying another box and decided to stop off for a latte. I could get started and then ride along pretty well with the box in one hand and the latte in the other and letting the steering take care of itself."

Me: "What about stop signs?"

Dude: "What about 'em?"

Me: "Good point. So what happened?"

Dude: "Then my cell phone rang..."

davew's picture

The Parable of the Bad Landing

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - A small plane crashed Monday near the picturesque downtown of Sitka, killing four people and destroying an unoccupied house, authorities said.

The owner of the home, Tess Heyburn, followed others running toward the crash. She had been sitting in a restaurant when the plane went down. "At first there wasn't much smoke. Then it erupted into smoke and flames," she said.

...

For now, she's thankful she wasn't there. "Right now I'm pretty much looking at it like a miracle," the 49-year-old massage therapist said.

This story adequately illustrates why I find traditional, organized religion so hard to swallow. This lady, who we will presume is worthy of God's love to the point of direct intervention, gets a call to go out for a milkshake. Once she is safely ensconced in our local eatery God drops a plane on her house. (Now I am not saying that God dropped a plane on her house. I am saying that she is saying that. It would hardly be fair to give the guy credit for inviting her out for a tasty dessert without also giving him full props for her crispy bungalow.) Her reaction is one of thanks. How is this possible? (I used to catch holy hell for tracking mud across the carpet. I can't imagine what would have happened if I had crushed our house and then set fire to the bits that remained. I can be safely certain that my mom's reaction would not have been gratitude for destroying her home while she was out.) It is true Ms. Heyburn still has her life, but with a little less miracling she would still have a house too. Is this cause for gratefulness? I don't think so.

I have been to Sunday school. I know the common wisdom is that God is trying to teach you something, but teach you what exactly? Houses are bad? Milkshakes are good? She was past due for a good remodeling? Alaska is a dangerous, scary-assed place and she should move to Kansas? As messages go this one is just a little bit vague. And what did the people in the plane learn? Or did they snuff it just to teach Ms. Heyburn her valuable milkshake lesson? This doublethink is exactly where I get stuck every time. God makes the good stuff and the bad stuff. We are supposed to thank him for the good stuff and draw a valuable life lessons from the bad stuff without getting angry that he also made the bad stuff happen. The mere act of attempting to hold these contradictions in my head at the same time gives me pain. Apparently few people suffer from this affliction, however. Almost any story of tragedy or catastrophe in the media will have the word miracle in it someplace if anybody survives. I think the only possible dictionary definition for miracle at this point is "an event where God almost kills you."

And one last question still puzzles me. If God smites your house when he is happy with you, what does he do when he is really pissed off? (If someone says "makes you write a blog" I swear I won't even smile a little bit.)

davew's picture

The Frugal and Virtuous Life

Normally Yahoo Finance publishes a lot of fluff just to keep fresh material streaming into their site. This piece, on the other hand, was entirely different. Why? Because I happened to agree with it. What more do you need? In addition to saving money several of the suggestions below are also decidedly green. I like that too.

1. Coffee
Buying coffee in a coffee shop is expensive. Does anyone not know this? The Davian way: Coffee out, once a month, during the warm months with your spouse. Make a breakfast out of it. Make sure the cafe is within biking distance.

2. Cigarettes
Expensive and they kill you. Sounds like an entire butt-load of no fun. The Davain way: Live in a state that has pretty much banned the practice.

3. Alcohol
So yummy, but also expensive. Especially when bought at a bar. The Davian way: use a minor mid-life crises as an excuse for giving it up.

4. Bottled water
The one invention that proves the gullibility of the American citizenry. The Davian way: never, ever, and extensively mock those who do.

5. Manicures
This one puzzled me so I looked it up. Apparently it is a mythical creature similar to the Greek Sphinx. It has the body of a red lion, a human head with three rows of sharp teeth, and a trumpet-like voice. The Davian way: avoid them they sound dangerous and no way can they do your hands any good.

6. Car washes
I never washed my last car. Not even once. This is an even more pointless exercise than bed-making. The Davian way: No car. No wash. No problem.

7. Weekday lunches out
Not only expensive, but everyone I know has someone in their house who can cook more nutritious and tastier food than any place you are likely to hop out to over the lunch hour. The Davian way: Go out a maximum of once per week and always invite your spouse. Make an event of it. Make sure the restaurant is within biking distance.

8. Vending machines snacks
I can't recall the last time I saw a vending machine that sold food. Really. The Davain way: Conduct your life in a way that precludes vending machine temptation.

9. Interest charges on credit cards
I think they teach this in Duh 101. Just think, the way most people use credit cards is profitable enough that my cat is now considered an acceptable risk in the eyes of American Express. She thanks you. The Davian way: Pay the balance, in full, every month or get out the scissors.

10. Unused memberships
Most people equate joining a gym with getting in shape. Actually going to the gym is strictly optional. Gyms love this. The Davian way: Invest in some decent home equipment. You might never use it either, but at least you only pay for it once. Failing this, instead of joining a gym just go there three or four times a week. Read a book, take a walk, or do pushups in the parking lot. Whatever. If you can keep this up for four months then consider joining.

Ellen's picture

Don't Hide Your Light Under a Bush

I looked out my bedroom window last night as I was getting ready for bed
and saw the white-blue solar lights on my cone-colored fir in the garden
below. Several people had asked me over the last few months,
“Are those Christmas lights?”

My husband usually responded, “Those are Solstice
lights.”

I then would sweep out the clutter of images, religious, kitsch, or
otherwise. “Those are my solar lights!”
I’d say.

Solar lights are just the coolest thing. They are connected to a
miniature solar panel that attaches to a spike that you stick into the
ground. Their shiny, specially coated surfaces collect solar energy all
day long. As soon as the sun goes down, a light sensor tells the lights
to turn on, and the effect is a magical, non-linear, brightening of tiny
ice bulbs as each string gets the signal at a different time and slowly
glows with life. It thrills me every time I look out the window and see
them glowing there. I am creating a beautiful night garden and using the
natural energy of the sun.

I had never planned to leave the lights up all year. The string of
lights connected to each panel is only about seven feet long. I had to
stick three strings on my small fir to cover it. Three
strings means three little black solar panels that must be pointed toward
the sun. After several tries, I placed all three panels so that they
received enough winter sun to turn on the lights. It was harder than I
thought in the winter garden where deciduous branches are denuded of
leaves and perennials have died back to the ground. I had no interest in
moving the panels around come spring, chasing the sun as it shifts in the
sky with the change of season, not to mention trying to avoid the
growing, ever changing garden. I also knew in my heart that I am a klutz
in the garden (ask my hubby how many times he has repaired or replaced
sprinkler heads because my big foot has crushed them). The image of me
stepping on the poor little panels hidden behind various greenery and
breaking them into tiny bits tore my heart asunder.

Then I began to procrastinate. Every couple of weeks, I told myself to
take down the lights, and then proceeded to not do it. Suddenly, it was
May, and people began to ask me about the lights. At first it was the
confused, “Are those Christmas lights?” I would try
to answer the question, but found I didn’t know the answer. I
mentioned my dilemma casually to a neighbor across the greenway from me.
She said, “Oh, I love those lights. I can look out my window
and see them!”

You mean, someone was actually enjoying these lights in June? They
weren’t just for December when special lighting effects were
expected? I began to see that these lights filled a special nitch: They
were subtle, and thereby, unexpected; when discovered, they were
delightful; and when explored, they were found to use only the energy
nature provided.

My inner procrastinator sighed with relief. But, as is natural in
gardens, green things grew. The yarrow arched over the solar panels
dripping them with shade, and the black-eyed susans quarreled with them
about their sun access rights. One by one, the strings of lights began to
wink out, subtly at first, and then more boldly. I would look out my
dining room window and have to crane my neck to find the one string that
was still lit. Last week, I finally cleared away the underbrush and set
each solar panel in a new and sunny location. Last night, as I looked out
my window, I saw a myriad of lights glowing. So what if people thought
they were Christmas lights. I knew what they were. And then I heard it.
The hum of a million crickets. They sounded just like the jingle of a
million tiny bells. Ching, ching, ching, ching, ching! Ching, ching,
ching, ching, ching! Sleigh bells, I thought. Those folks were
right. These were Christmas lights. And Solstice lights. And Hannukah
candles. But they were also Fourth of July fireworks and bright Easter
eggs. They were all those things. They were beautiful and they lit up the
night with tiny flames of joy.

davew's picture

Clown Pants


It all started on that ill fated flight from Atlanta. I suppose I could use this as an excuse to blame my brother, but he is busy enough wresting with his genetic abnormality so I'll lay off him this time. That was the flight where I picked up Sky Mall and first read about an electric scooter which eventually led to me selling a car, getting a couple of bikes, and eschewing almost all travel by car and airplane. Bet you didn't know Sky Mall sold that! One day a few months back I started wondering about beer and wine. It is fairly energy consuming to ship if not to make. Can I really consider myself to be a reliable steward of the planet and consume these on a regular basis? Then the true weirdness kicked in. Obviously the sensible thing to do would be just to cut back to a level I feel is sustainable as I have with other things. Car trips: rarely, and only short ones. Plane trips: even more rarely and mostly to keep peace in the marriage. Air conditioning: never. So how much beer would be okay? One a day? Three a week? One a week?

Me: "Why don't you just quit?"
Me: "Quit? Isn't that a bit of an overreaction?"
Me: "Chicken?"
Me: "I'm sorry, Chicken Legs said what?"
Me: "Hey! I resemble that remark!"

Thus was conceived "The Experiment": to give up all forms of alcohol indefinitely to see what effect it would have on my life. Later I added coffee and tea to the no-no list and obtaining as much local produce as I can find. "Isn't this all a mishmash of conservation and health and lifestyle all rolled into one topped with a dollop of baloney juice?" Pretty much. I didn't say it was a well designed experiment.

And now we take a minor detour. I have never really liked belts. They always wear out long before they should and, darn it, they just aren't very comfortable. Most guys don't wear neckties any more and most of them would maintain that neckties cut off circulation to the brain. Most women would say that neckties might cut off circulation to the head, but that misses a man's brain by a good couple of feet. I'm not one to take chances so I decided to give up both of them. I had some old suspenders in the closet left over from my Intergraph wardrobe of 20 years ago. I tried them. Liked them. Wore them ever since. Bye, bye belts.

One more brief detour. As you might remember from over a year go in Flubba Wubba and Club Soda with a Twist that I was embarking on a plan to lose weight. Some months have been better than others, but I never really stopped the quest. This spring I got a little more serious about exercise and last week I finally hit my goal of 145 lbs. I'm not saying exactly how much this was aided by a diet free of beer and wine, but it certainly could not have hurt.

And all this brings us to today's topic. A couple of weeks back I had an itch. I'm not going to say where the itch was, but let's just say that the lack of a belt made it much easier to address than it would have been otherwise. In the middle of a most gratifying scratch I realized I had slid one arm completely into my jeans with no effort at all. Amused, I sent the other one to join it. I had a little pants party. Right then it hit me. Over-sized pants and suspenders? Yes, folks, I was officially wearing clown pants. Believe me there is room for a bottle of seltzer, three bouquets, and a whole passel of silk scarves.

The good news is that I have a whole generation of fat pants that are nearly worn out and in need of replacement. Now I face the dilemma that all people who are changing sizes face. Do I take the optimistic route and get pants in a size that fits me now? Do I take the pessimistic route and replace the pants in their current dimensions? Another thought occurs that the last five pounds have blown away in the last two months. Perhaps I'll need a smaller size in the next six months or so. Do I start wearing my fanny pack inside my pants and just wait to see what happens?

davew's picture

Circles



Here is a thought exercise. Draw a circle. You get to make the circle as big as you like, but you have to spend the rest of your life inside the circle. The vast majority of us would have absolutely no problem drawing a circle around the solar system, but I suspect a few NASA types would still reserve the right to send probes outside that would transmit back pictures of an extra-circle landscape. The vast majority of us would likewise have no problem trying to circle around the planet. It's a big planet and is always something new to do. Now for something a little harder.

Draw a circle around your continent. You can do anything you like, but you can't leave your continent. Pretend there's a plague on all the other continents and if you visit there you will be compelled to vote for Hillary Clinton. Now if you have a hankering to go to Venice, maybe you could be content with Vancouver. Want a beach adventure on the Great Barrier Reef? Perhaps Baja California will be adventurous enough for you. You absolutely must go to a place that requires you learn a foreign language? There is always Texas. How would it be if you do the circle around the country, your state, or perhaps even your county. How small could you draw a circle and still live a rich and happy existence?

Let me throw one other wrinkle into this thought experiment. The bigger you draw your circle the smaller your children will have to draw theirs. And not just you, if you and everybody else in your generation. And not just your children, but all the other children in their generation, and don't forget about their children. To make this little bit more realistic, you'd really need a series of concentric circles representing how far you go in the average day, week, month, and so forth. We humans consume vast resources just to shove our bodies around, and the only consideration is usually can I afford it. I think the better question is can we collectively afford it?

You might think the resource I am referring to is fossil fuels. While that is partially true you also have to take into consideration steel, copper, roads and rails, trains and airplanes. Nothing is without cost. A Toyota Prius driver might feel holier than a Ford pickup driver, but in reality they are only about 30% holier and the road they both drive on costs exactly the same. This is why I find the endless debates about CAFE standards, flex fuel cars, and even carpooling to be rather tiresome and largely pointless. Even the best of them only make our biggest problem slightly less bad. This is why I believe the circle is a more useful way to think about conservation. If your daily circle is 50 miles across, your travel options are very limited. If your circle is 5 miles across you have many more options.

The problem is most of us make decisions on where to live, where to work, where to send their children to school, and how to entertain ourselves based on the 50 mile circle. This is sad, but true. Sadder still many of these decisions, like buying a house, are difficult to undo.

The circles work both ways. The closer the things you buy are to you, the less energy it takes to bring them to you. By this scale, local beer is better than travelled beer. Local produce is better than that shipped in from California, Mexico, or China. It's not only better for the planet, but it is better for your local/state economy. Think of this as the tree-hugging equivalent of Buy American. Local water is better than shipped water. I view this as the worlds biggest "duh" yet the bottled water companies collectively make billions and waste vast amounts of energy shipping tap water all over the country. ("Tap water?" you ask? Yup. If you are curious google "aquafina tap water". If you now feel like a gullible prat remember true learning never comes without pain.)

If you can arrange to live most of your life within a five or ten mile circle the switch to more efficient transportation becomes a no-brainer. It's woth thinking about. Try it. The next time you feel like driving to dinner, a movie or some other diversion, don't. Think up something to do that doesn't require car. When is the last time you tossed a frisbee around? Or maybe dinner and a movie isn't out of the question. Most people I know live within walking distance of a local eatery, and if you don't consider this the next time you move. Maybe even, gasp, invite a neighbor over and shrink their circle a bit too.

davew's picture

Status Confirmed

Planets. The definition is complicated of course. It depends on how big the object is, what it is made of, where in the solar system does it orbit and so on. Scientists have debated for years about whether Pluto is a planet or just one of many bits of left-over building materials. The disagreement still rages in various quarters. There is one thing that all solar-system scientists are now in agreement on though. Al Gore is officially a planet.

Ellen's picture

Raccoon Reconnaissance

I heard snuffling in the yard while I lay in bed last night trying to
fall asleep. I thought it was someone crying or a sprinkler head failing
to water somebody's lawn because it was clogged with dirt. I finally got
out of bed and looked out the open window. I saw a dark shadow on the
green lawn. Another bulk was crouched on the patio. I walked into the
office whose window looked directly out on the patio, but the shapes were
still blobs. I went downstairs and peered out the back patio door.
They were definitely critters, but it was a moonless night and I couldn't
make out anything except a dark body about the size of a large cat with a
long tail held low to the ground. And it seemed that there were several
shapes clustered on the lawn. I was a little spooked. Here I was,
the only one up and observing strange creatures on our back lawn.
Admittedly, I was a bit groggy with the beginnings of sleep, but I
couldn't imagine what kind of mammal would be out foraging in our bag
yard in the middle of suburbia at 11:00 at night.

Hesitantly, I turned on the patio light. Several masked faces looked up
at me from the center of the lawn under the bird feeders and froze.
Raccoons? But we don't have any raccoons in our neighborhood. I
opened the sliding glass door and peered out. The shapes now
scattered to the edges of the lawn and watched me. I watched them back.
“What are you guys?” I asked the little burglars.
They didn’t leave, just stared at me. Suddenly, I knew.
Definitely raccoons! I hastily closed and locked the patio door
thinking I really didn’t want them in my house. Despite the
fact that I didn't turn the light off, the raccoons all scurried back to
the feeder as if nothing had happened and started chomping away at
something. Had they found a dead bird they were feasting on?
Weren’t raccoons vegetarians, or did they scavenge
anything? I got my binoculars, hoping to get a better glimpse at
what they were doing. I could see their little white and black faces
better, but still couldn’t see what they were swarming
around. What I did see was that there were about five of
them. Then a sixth one, the largest by far, marched over from under
the amur maples on the west side of the yard. He sniffed the group,
then boldly came up to the patio and munched on the seed I had spilled
yesterday when I filled the bird feeders. Ah! They were all munching
seed. There was always a big pile under the bird feeders.

I hoped to see the beasts eat with their “hands,”
which is one of the most fascinating aspects of raccoons, but they just
stuck their faces in the seed and ate like cats. The big male raccoon (as
I had come to decide he was) peeled away from the yard, followed, one by
one, by each of the others. I had mixed feelings of relief and
consternation as they vanished westward. Perhaps seeking another
unattended bird feeder? I was excited to have another wild critter in my
yard to watch, not having seen a coyote in the neighborhood although I
occasionally heard them at night, and only rarely seeing a red fox in the
surrounding fields at dusk. The coyotes were known to go after
domesticated ducks, but the raccoons probably wouldn't pick a fight. They
were smaller than most dogs and only a little bigger than most cats. But
what about the dog barking in the distance? How smart is he?
And the neighborhood cat that prowls into the wee hours of the morning?
Right now it was my secret, but it impacted the neighborhood. It might be
the first sighting of a raccoon. I wanted to protect them, but I realized
that it was a complicated matter. Were they here before we were, or did
they follow us to suburbia? Either way, we had to share the terrain. I
hoped everyone would take care, but let the poor critters enjoy their new
neighborhood.

Syndicate content