Friday, November 26, 2004
This morning we slept in, had pumpking pie and tea for breakfast before taking the kids and dog to flying goat for a post-thanksgiving meet-n-greet with a whole cast of friends. I saw Miles, Leanne, Dez, Caitlin, Meredith's ex-sisters in-law, Walt, and some guy who I couldn't place. It occured to me later that the guy I couldn't place was Mr. Lehmann who was the vice-principal from my highschool. We both did the I-know-you-from-somewhere-but-can't-place-it eye contact and 'hi'.
I was going to do no shopping today, and at least I won't be doing much. I need to get Andy his xmas presents, and put them in the mail to india.
Tomorrow Gary and I will be looking at one or two boats. I'm hoping that one of them will be right. The New Daisy, while I think she was the right boat, was the wrong price. The two we will be looking at tomorrow are stupidly cheap. It just remains to be seen if they aren't stupidly-maintained..
Thursday, November 18, 2004
Last saturday was the opening of my friend's show at boomerang in Petaluma. It was good to see so many people I hadn't seen in a while, Michael, Jodi, Heidi, Will, Jack, Drew, etc...The art was good, it was different from Heidi's other stuff. I'm not sure if it was different from Will's other stuff because this was the first I'd seen of his work. Some of the smaller pieces were really good, there was a quality of line that I admired.
Jodi and Zack are moving to Costa Rica where they bought some land, which is great for them, but too bad for me cause I like bumping into Jodi at parties and whatnot.
This last week I started riding my bikes again in earnest. It's been too long mainly due to simple mechical issues (flats) and hot weather/rain. Now it's great bike riding weather, where the first five minutes you are freezing your ass off and by the end of the ride you are hot and sweaty. It's even better if your ride ends where there is the promise of hot beverages so you can steam up the windows and strip off sweaters, gloves, hats.
I love my fixed gear. It's just right, except for the saddle which is new and not broken in yet, and it's placement isn't exactly right. Every once and a while I think about selling off some bikes because I have a few, but they all have certain attributes that I'd hate to lose. Also I've spent months (years with my fixed gear) getting all the components/placement just right. And I can never sell my fix gear, cause laurel has dibs. But I do have a nice Bianchi for sale. Tall, 62cm blue if anyone is interested.
It'll be good to ride more and get exercise. With work going the way it's going it's hard to ever get out and do stuff.
Tonight when I got home I was feeling pretty lousy, I think it may have been a blood sugar crash, or something. Anyway I was lying down on my bed feeling sick and I was trying to figure out what people do in the winter time. It was 5:30 and I didn't want to go back on my computer (I'd just spent 8.5 hours staring at my monitor) and I don't have cable and I couldn't for the life of me figure out what to do. Normally I like to read, but I wasn't feeling that focused at the moment. Eventually I called meredith and decided to go get groceries. Then some carrots and a salad and I was feeling better.
I love the cold wet weather, but I always forget that it gets dark so early. Most of the stuff I like to do involves going outside, I'm usually only inside my house to sleep, geek out, or eat. Now it's dark when I leave work. I guess I'm adapting.
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
In other news these last few weeks, things have been good. Halloween was good, if a little quiet. I went up to Meredith's to spend time at Djuna's party (did I spell that right Spring?) and take M's kids out to get candy. Meredith suprised me with a splendid costume. She was a 1960's star-trek alien. She reminded me of that episode where the crew gets overcome with the horny-flower and even Spock gets his freak on. I don't think she was thinking of that when she got dressed up, but I've only seen a few old episodes so I don't have much to draw on. Anyway, she looked great. Photo above.
The party was good, I got to see some people I'd wanted to see, and picked up some zines from the folks who went to NYC to protest the RNC. Hmm..what other acronyms can I get in here....The zines were great, I especially loved ben's piece, but I'm biased 'cause I've wanted him to write forever and he never does as much as I'd like to see.
Trick or treating was good, Zelia was the classic sheet-as-ghost, and Sylvan was a forest spirit, and he had a nice stick. Fargo liked his stick. Fargo was a pretty ballerina, so it wasn't much of a costume, cause he's always a pretty ballerina. Except that he always reminds me of Russel Crowe in a dress...maybe it's the wall-eyed thing, or the no neck thing...I don't know. Good but quietly disturbing.
The trick-or-treating in SR was suprisingly quiet. What happened to halloween? When I was a kid..
Since Halloween? Well, what started as a joke between my co-worker and friend Gary and I has become a scary proto-reality. We are thinking of buying a boat. Yup, that one a few pictures back. It's cheap. Scary cheap. And between selling some of the equipment off it, and living with a mantra of arrested decrepitude we think we can have a lot of fun for not much cash. Next spring who wants to go exploring on a crusty old boat? Message me, and bring money. Ports of call? Runs to the delta for good old fashioned white trash fun. Urban decay sightseeing trips along all the busted waterfronts of the bay area (Oakland has some amazing shit). Perhaps BBQs on the back deck in SF bay during fourth of july. Your suggestions here...
PS. Miles, how much bio-diesel can you supply at a time?
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Thursday, November 04, 2004
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
I will try to not turn this blog into "grumpy old man Scott's bitchin' porch" but it's election day, and well you know what is happening. Of course I'm grumpy. Now there are a couple of outcomes I forsee I'm going to number them so I don't lose my train of thought
1. The bad gets worse, which tips the scales
2. The bad gets good, which then gets really bad.
3. The bad gets weird, after which is a tossup.
1. The Bad Gets Worse, which Tips the Scales:
Bush wins without any goofy electoral ties, or major scandals (election snafus, illegal vote tampering, etc). There is currently (11:46PM) a good chance of this. This outcome could lead to an even more repressive regime and most tragically, a restocking of several Supreme Court justices that could throw out Roe v. Wade, and generally run amok with civil liberties. Of course all of these things pale in comparison to the havoc we could unleash on the Arab/brown people world. But, if there is any silver lining, I believe it is this: Team Bush's wacked policies will leave an indelible stain on the whole conservative/neo-con camp that will be hard to erase (remember when liberal was a good word?). This could lead to a reversal of Republican power currently held in the legislative and executive branches of government. This reversal of fortunes for the Con/Neo-con movement is a long shot though, because after this election I don't really believe that the majority of Americans are using their brains to vote (and I don't say this merely because Bush won). The reasons (on both sides) for supporting a candidate were so lame and simplistic that it boggled the mind. Please people, as a country, can we do a little legwork to check out facts, especially ones spouted from campaign ads? Also, what was appalling was the belief that being a flip-flopper was just as bad as misleading the public to a war which has killed thousands, and laid waste to a country. Come on. Sorry I've gotten off topic.
2. The Bad Gets Good, Which Then Gets Worse:
If Kerry pulls out Ohio/Nevada and wins this crapshoot, it may not be a good thing (other than the Supreme Court dealy, which is a real shame). Kerry will be going in with no clear mandate, against a hostile Congress and Senate. Hard obstacles to begin with, but he is also saddled with debt that will come due in his term, and a vastly overtaxed military in an unwinnable war, with the opinion of the world resting on his actions. I don't think he can do it. In some ways it's almost better to let Team Bush live with the crap-storm they've created, because Kerry will be thought of as an ineffective (and thus 1-term) president, and then it will be back to the Republicans. Hmm maybe Jeb will be ready for his shot by then.
3. The Bad Gets Weird:
So it's a tie. 269-269, now it's down to Congress to vote in the next president. Who'd a thunk it? Back to back elections where the president wins on a technicality. This is democracy? But wait, it's not so simple. This scenario I pulled from one of the networks and I thought it had some merit (in a 'what-if' kinda way). Let's say it's a tie, but Kerry somehow picks up the popular vote again (a la 2000), there is a chance that some republican congressmen will not vote strictly on party lines if their jurisdictions went to Kerry....but that's not going to happen, the bigger outfall of this scenario is that Team Bush will be even more discredited in the international scheme because he "won" neither election (according to the standard of every other election but one). I almost want to see this happen because it would prove yet again, how busted our current system of voting is. Why does every county have the right to make up its own rules? WTF?
But frankly all this is obsessing over details and doesn't really address the deeper issue: How could this have happened in the first place? And by 'this' I mean the increasingly conservative, Christian value-laden, capitalistic, jingoistic shift of politics in this country. What happened to separation of church and state? Where are the atheists? Why isn't that amendment fought for as bitterly as the right to bear arms? This is increasingly irrelevant in modern times, whereas the protection from Religious zealotry has been needed throughout history. Where are all the liberals? Where is labor? Where are the poor, disenfranchised, wage-slaves? Where are the millions without health-care? Or the poor bastards who lost everything in the spate of Enron-esque scandals? Or the soldiers and families who seen their children/friends/siblings/parents wounded or killed for a war that wasn't necessary? Or those same people who've had their benefits cut and their equipment budgets gutted? Where is the freaking free press?
I've always said that in a democracy we get the government we deserve. Why have we been so bad to get this? How can we make it better?
I agree with you to a point. Buying a hybrid sends a market signal that a real alternative to SUVs needs to be made available (I don't consider sport-wagons with muscle car engines an alternative), but I fear that the signal being sent is that a high-tech, environmentally costly alternative is the only thing that will fly. If I ruled the world, or at least the car industry the market signal would be for a simple, cheap, super-reliable car. Think VW Lupo, or Smart-car, but even those aren't quite right. I don't mean to bag on hybrid buyers too much, but I get more frustrated with them than SUV/gas guzzler drivers for the simple reason I feel like they *want* to do right, but haven't done enough research on the problem. And that mindset is what gets us in serious trouble (think Cane-Toad, or Eucalyptus, or Broom, or MTBE, or Catalytic Converters, etc.) The one-problem solution (particularly with technology) usually ends up causing larger, harder to control side-effects. See MTBE, where in an effort to control air-pollution (which could've been controlled in a number of ways, it just happened that MTBE did it, and was a waste product of refining fuel in the first place so the Oil companies were happy to sell it at a huge markup) has now caused tremendous ground water contamination, and even the State legislature is having a hard time getting it banned. I fear similar problems will show up with hybrids, when there are less energy intensive/toxic solutions to the fuel-effeciency issue.
But hybrid owners do mean well, and I don't want to take issue with their intention, just the manifestation of that intention. I think the real short-coming is that there aren't really any cars available in the states that can send the correct market signal. Hybrids are, for some, the closest, best thing.
Having said that here's my idea for a car:
Small (think A-class Mercedes, or Smart, or Lupo), hyper-effecient (perhaps bio-diesel, which shortens the carbon cycle to years instead of eons, yes there are problems with particulates, and land being used to grow fuel instead of food, but that's another rant), built with minimal materials, and minimal frills. No power windows, no central locking, no lcd screens, or navigation crap. It would be the most efficient motor in the least chassis possible and still hold 4 adults. Also it would need to have 2 decent cup holders. Come on, you can't have a car without freaking cup holders. Get rid of A/C and bring back the wing-window.
Make the car in such a way that there are very few components to break. Electrical stuff (windows, locks etc) always seem to go bad after about 10 years/100k. Think about how this car will drive in 30 years.
Use materials that are either highly recyclable with low-embodied energy, or renewable. Wool carpets? Cellulose/composite interior panels (dash, door panels etc), how about a bamboo sheet headliner? Interior lighitng by LEDs (low energy needs, long long life?) Fabric seat covers (hell, for west-coast hipness, make it undyed, organic cotton or something) Make it really boxy (which is coming back as a design style anyway) which would keep manufacturing costs down. Make it cheap but good. The problem with the lower end of the market is that the cars are usually crap (Yugo, Geo Metro comes to mind) but engineers are getting around that problem (Kia, Hyundai, Others). Think Ford Fiesta but with greener materials. That car was great and they last a suprising long time. Think of it like a ford Fiesta if Whole Foods was building it.
Case in point: I have a 1972 BMW 2002. Now it's just about perfect except that I bet it's emissions are terrible. But it was also built before they started worrying too much about smog. Imagine the same design brief, with some modern engine management controls. It is faster and handles better than almost any other car I've ever owned, and it's owner serviceable, and easy to park. I just wish it had some crazy-hyper efficient low-pollution bio-diesel motor.
Monday, November 01, 2004
PS, who is out there reading this stuff anyway? You can leave anonymous comments on this post (yes Laurel/Andy I'm stealing your idea) and I'm pretty curious to see if there are more than two people reading this. Thanks.
I guess what started the rant, an ever bigger problem I see in this country is the lack of thinking through a decision. Very few seem to be able to look at the long-view, and at least attempt to suss out all the ramifications. And it just bugs me when people who think they are so environmental if they buy a hybrid. They aren't, and they should own up to it. I know what damage my vehicles are causing, and I just ask that the rest of the planet does the same.
Also, they are better more environmental cars than hybrids out right now, like the straight-up Civic with no fancy options, but it isn't so flashy.
Personal Transportation and the environment, especially hybrid vehicles.
Hybrid vehicles are bad. In some ways they are worse than SUVs, but especially because it reinforces a simplistic, and non-comlete answer to a mounting problem. Here's the stripped down logic: SUVs (and cars in general) are bad. They cause air pollution, and use up oil which leads to war. If we are environmentalists we should by the car with the best mileage, which is a hybrid.
Now, I'm all for effecient vehicles, but there are some problems with hybrids, and that route of thinking that is in many ways more dangerous than not giving a shit and driving a giant SUV. I'll start at the top of the hybrids and move on down to the list to the dangerous root of the problem.
When thinking of hybrids most people only calculate the impacts of the usage of that vehicle, not the production, repair, or retirement of it. Hybrids hold an huge amount of embodied energy (the amount of energy per vehicle the factories had to use to create it from raw elements) in their unique batteries, motors, and management systems. This energy is greater than "standard" vehicles, while the mileage gains are not impressive enough to offset them. I usually drive old crappy cars, but I've had a few cars in the 80's that got tremendous mileage (30's to low 40's), my girlfriend at the time had a Honda CRX with over 220k miles that still got in the high 30's around town, and better on the freeway. Her mom had a Toyota hatchback that regularly got that kind of mileage. And all of these cars were 10-15 years old at that point. Cheap to run, simple to maintain, and cheap (energy wise) to produce compared with modern cars. Most of the reports have come out now that hybrids have not been getting the mileage they've advertised, but even if they did they are less energy effecient (from a life-cycle perspective) than a cheap econobox of 20 years ago. Hybrids are not a solution.
There are other problems I forsee with increasingly technological solutions to personal transport. Long-term, do we know how these systems will hold up? Not yet. Are there mechanics that can service these systems? So far, only at the dealerships. What about the cost and toxicity when these vehicles are in an accident? Think about how much faster a insurance company will write off a hybrid when it has been in a slight accident that damaged thousands of dollars of hi-tech batteries. That' car is no longer repairable and another car (maybe hybrid, maybe not) will have to be produced to replace it. These points are the dark side of hybrids that no one (especially Toyota/Honda) want to talk about.
The "green" car (I know, it's an oxymoron) is one that uses the least materials (I'm talking no a/c, no power windows, no digital gauges, etc), and or the least toxic materials (natural fiber carpet maybe? Cellulose derived panels?) to get the best mileage/lowest emissions. So far no one makes such a car for sale in the states. The VW Lupo is pretty close, as are some other small diesels in europe.
Ok, so hybrids aren't the answer, but the bigger problem is that even if there was such a thing as a green car, it couldn't be the answer either. Why? Because the biggest problems with personal transport are not the oil they burn, or the emissions they spew. It's their impact on landuse. Cars do more to determine how we live, and what we think we can do than any other law, object, social-norm, or emotion. It's creepy when you stop to think about it. Humans are..I was going to say that humans are an after-thought in landuse decisions, but that's not exactly right. It's that cars are so integral that we barely even have to think about them. Check out any medevil city in Europe. You can tell exactly how big that city was when cars became common because all land planning from there on out shifted to accomadate the car. It's harder to see in California because almost all the cities didn't really start to grow until the car became ubiquitous.
Any technology that makes cars easier, cleaner, and less guilt-inspiring to drive will cause us to continue to build large ineffecient urban sprawl. Bigger areas of impermeable surface (parking lots) which deprive our aquifers of water, and create polluted runoff..etc etc...YOu've all heard the rants before.
BUt think of this, most complex problems can't be solved with a simple solution. Ecological decline can be..almost. There's actually a set of solutions, but here's the deal, they are hard to live with because they tell us to do with less.
Stop making so much stuff. Stop using so much land, do less. work less. eat less. You've got to, because it's a full-world and it's getting more crowded every minute.
You want effecient living? Don't look to the Rocky Mountain Institute, look at New York (which is currently considering a ban on the creation of new parking spaces! can you imagine any other jurisdiciton in the country doing that?). If we are going to succeed on becoming less of a cancer to this planet and to ourselve we need to change our view of what green living is supposed to be. It ain't driving a shiny new car with hi-tech batteries. It will be living in a dense urban area and walking. That's effecient.
Rant off. For now.